Friday, December 16, 2011

Faith over at Walk with Me by Faith is hosting her Christmas Card Carousel as she has for the past several years. I love joining it albeit a couple of days late. Thank you for hosting, Faith. 
Go over and check it out. You'll see some beautiful Christmas cards.

We wish you a Merry & Blessed CHRISTmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

1. Do you put Christmas decorations in every room of your house? If not every room, what rooms do you decorate?
I try to put decorations in just about every room, but the main ones are the kitchen, living room, and entry way.
I guess it depends on how much energy I have.

2. If you could visit one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) which one would you choose and why?
I would visit Norway because my maternal grandfather was from there. Our first daughter, Braaten, was given his last name, my mom's maiden name, because I always loved it. It has been told by my very best friend, Annette, that in the 7th grade I said that if I ever had a daughter I was going to name her Braaten.
She is Braaten Noelle, born 2 weeks after Christmas, and will be turning 14 very soon.

3. What does the word faith mean to you?
Faith for me means believing in the One that I cannot see. It means trusting in Christ with my whole heart, knowing that He came to save the lost. I once was lost, but now I'm found and what a blessing that He chose me even before I was knitted in my mother's womb. 

4. You can go back to your childhood for one day...what day and age would you choose?
When I was about 10 years old, in 1976, the Bicentennial year, I entered the standing broad jump competition during a meet. I had never done anything on the track before and my gym teacher at the time encouraged me. It was a huge event because of the timing in our history, a place where families gathered, and schools in the area came together. What was I thinking? I was a bit of a tomboy, but like I said, I had never done anything like this in the past. 
It was my turn. I stood there bent at the knees, swinging my arms to and fro, to get as much distance as I possibly could. I leapt into the air for what felt like an eternity. I landed at 5 feet 8 inches. There were paparazzi everywhere taking pictures. OK, it was just an area journalist. I have been reading too many books about the Baxters and Flanigans by Karen Kingsbury. Anyone else reading this series??
I placed first, made it in the Jersey Journal, and both my parents were there. My dad didn't make it to many events. He worked a lot. What a grand day! Annette made fun of me for years, still does 'til this day because I brought my trophy in and walked around to different classrooms to show off that large trophy. My teacher encouraged that, too, so I went for it. Ah, what a day in the life of me. :-)

5. When did you last have 'punch'? If it's not too much trouble share your favorite punch recipe.
I think I had punch at a shower about 8 months ago or so. I enjoy it, but have never really acquired a go-to recipe. 
6. Do you fill stockings at your house? Are stockings opened before or after the bigger gifts?
We do fill stockings. The kids love them and look forward to seeing what awaits them after opening everything else.
Shawn and I quite like them ourselves. I enjoy getting Cella's chocolate covered cherries each year. 

7. What takes your breath away?
Do I have to list just one thing?
Seeing my children for the first time after being away from them for a day, or two, or a long weekend. 
I love watching them perform at recitals, sports, etc. 
And because I can't list just one thing, I love seeing my husband's blue eyes in photos. Each day, we put a new photo up on our Mac as wallpaper and whenever there's one of Shawn up, I am always drawn to his eyes. I will just sit here and stare and then whisper, as though he can hear me, "I love you." 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It's a soggy day out there, 50 degrees,  and absolutely no sign of snow. I have twin boys that were born on Christmas Eve that are about to turn 10. They are having their birthday party this Sunday with 10 friends and they are reflecting on how much fun they had last year sledding in our backyard. It doesn't seem likely that we'll have any snow for them, but I sure would like to see a white Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Craziness!

In the past couple of weeks I have been to 2 cookie exchanges-
one at my church (Victory Life in Battle Creek), and 
one at my friend, Jamie's, home.
She and Sarah know how to pull off a fun shindig and the ladies of VLC do all things with excellence.

Between my daughter, Braaten, and I, we have baked at least 19 dozen cookies,

and have taken home as many. Oh my.

We enjoyed exchanges that were full of fun and fellowship,
and sampled too many cookies for our waistlines.

We had the nerve to wear ugly Christmas sweaters,

and received an "ugly" ornament which inspired this lovely look on my face.

Ellie, Braaten, and Renae donned these Goodwill finds.
You sure are growing up, Braaten, when you can join me in ladies' affairs.
I love you, Honey, and I'm proud of you for wearing that scalloped-edged, screen-printed, turquoise-ish sweatshirt. You rocked it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Run, Girl, Run!!

I ran my first 10K this past Saturday. Yes, my first. I think stating it that way means there will be more runs to come.

I have been bitten by the running bug.

Shawn, my friend, Pam, her husband, Pastor Matt, and Sydney all ran together. 
Well, we each ran at our own pace, but we did this thing together. I loved every minute of it, um, except for those hills.

That part I didn't exactly love.

It was hard running 6.2 miles, but it was exhilarating all at the same time.

There is a certain camaraderie between runners and I love it.

I missed the very memo that I wrote about making a silly face for this photo. Actually, I think my timing was off. 

You see that headband I'm wearing?
I love running.
I hate running.
I love running.
I hate running.
Those words are so true.
I won it a long time ago, when I hadn't even started training yet, on Jennifer's blog called The Magic Brush. She is a sweet lady with a whole lot of talent! She has done a triathlon not long ago and is an inspiration to me in many ways. Go check out her blog. She is in the middle of trying to adopt and has written her story there. 

My time- 1:04:44,  Shawn's: 52:13,  Pam had her best time yet at right around 1:06, Pastor Matt came in 2nd place for his age group at about 47 minutes and even beat out the age group below that. Sydney had some struggles, but finished the race and we are all extremely proud of her. (Pam, I hope you don't mind me sharing times. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Getaway (Part 3)

The last part of our trip was to the Grand Hotel. We arrived on Sunday afternoon to this very stately hotel.

I mentioned that there are no cars on the island. You either take this fancy horse and carriage, which we did not, you walk, or you ride bikes to get around. We walked because our time was mostly spent at the hotel itself.

The Grand Hotel was made famous in the movie,
"Somewhere in Time" starring Christopher Reeves.

Our room was lovely and comfortable. A fancy chocolate was placed on our pillows at night. The hotel has lots of this particular green and varying pinks in its decor. It's absolutely beautiful.

The attraction that brought us to the Grand Hotel on this particular weekend was a marriage retreat by Jay and Laura Laffoon. 

The hotel requires evening wear after 6. It was fun to dress up.

The food was absolutely delicious!! Because we were there for the retreat, 3 of our meals were included. It was well worth it!

The sunset from the lovely, never ending porch with stately columns and a beautiful display of American flags along the length of it was a sight to behold.

On our way back to Mackinaw City, there were a couple of lighthouses.

Seeing Old Glory reminds me during this Veteran's weekend that I am proud to be an American and ever thankful for those who have served and are currently serving for my freedom. 

Thank you for traveling up north in Michigan with me over the past few days. If you ever get a chance to stay at the Grand Hotel, visit the shops of Machinaw City, or go to Traverse City, do it! You will not regret it.

Have a blessed Sunday. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

We interrupt this program...

to tell you about something we've been up to. I'll post day 3 of our weekend getaway today or tomorrow. 

About 5 or 6 months ago, I decided to get on this particular bandwagon. It seemed everyone was doing it and it had been piquing my interest for years. It never quite interested me enough to actually go out and do it, however. It's hard and takes commitment, dedication, and consistency if you want to make strides. Literally.

My pastor and his son started about 13 months ago and have done superbly. They have inspired many. Pastor Matt and his wife, Pam, decided to give it a go and they have enjoyed it and have been as committed as anyone. 

It was an intimidating thing for me... something I didn't think I would be very good at. Like I said, it requires hard work. I'm not immune to working hard or anything, I just wanted to succeed and I didn't want to quit.

I began to research it so that I would be as equipped as I possible could be and then I did it!
I started to follow a program called C25K and began to run.
Before long, I talked my husband into joining me so that I would have his company during my runs. And though one of his knees was giving him problems initially, those issues seem to have subsided.

One day last July my cousins from Indiana were all together for a family gathering and asked us if we would do a 4 mile run in September with them. You have to understand that I could barely run a city block without being completely out of breath and now I was considering running 4 miles straight. The really cool thing was that my cousin George and his wife, Cherie, were flying in from Texas to do the Fort4Fitness run, also. Hey if they can fly from TX, we can drive down from Michigan and do this thing! 

And that's exactly what we did. Shawn and I ran our first race together and did it in just under 44 minutes. He stayed right by my side the entire time even though he was fully capable of leaving me in his dust. 

With that accomplishment behind us, Pam asked me if we would be interested in running a 10K in November with her and Matt. Originally we were just going to do the 5K on that day. We talked it over and said yes. 

Our race day is tomorrow. I will officially run 6.2 miles and I'm blown away that I can even do that. My prayer during my runs always contains Phillipians 4:13. 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

It is by God's grace that I can do any of it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our Dreamy Weekend (part deux)

Dinner must wait!
I am choosing to write a post instead of shaping hamburger patties and putting them on our griddle made for large families. I love that griddle! It cooks 8 pancakes at a time, 8 burgers, 2 pounds of bacon. Not all together you understand. Well, you get the idea.
By golly I said that I would write another post in less than two months and so I am choosing just over 24 hours. How's that for keeping my word?? 
I love to write and share my little world with you. It brings joy to my heart.

Ok, back to our weekend...

I ended my last post with this picture of Shawn. It bears reposting.
 How cool is that moon? 

After we unsuccessfully reached the water to get photos of the sunset, we jumped back in our truck and drove closer to Lake Michigan.
It was so pretty.

It is extremely enjoyable to run down the dunes and feel the cool sand between your toes. 
Today I'm looking at snow outside my window. How did that happen so fast?

After staying at the cottage for a couple of days, our next stop was Mackinaw Island. But before we got on the ferry to get to the island, we just had to cross the Mackinaw Bridge to say we've been to the Upper Peninsula. I know. We are silly!

Arnold Transit is the company we used to get over to the island.

Automobiles are not allowed on the island which means you walk or take a horse and carriage.

It is such a quaint place to visit. I wish we had a little more time there.
And if you'll stay with me on this series of posts, I'll have the best part of the trip here tomorrow. I don't want to wear you out with too many photos. If I'm being honest, those hamburgers are calling my name. Yum!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Picture Perfect Weekend to Remember

It was a beautiful fall weekend and no better time for my honey and I to get away for a few days. It had been a very long while since it was just he and I. The timing could not be more perfect because things at work for Shawn started to heat up and get really stressful. So stressful, in fact, that he was almost called away from our respite to deal with those matters. Though I was extremely disappointed, I started to make plans to have "me" time while he helped put out some fires. His plan was to return the next day and movies and walks were on my agenda. I was thrilled, however, when he was able to stay. I would much rather share movies and walks with my Beloved. 

We were privy to some of the most beautiful colors and scenery.

Shawn was enjoying playing with our camera to get this beautiful shot.

Our friends, Jeff and Jen, let us borrow their cabin in Traverse City on High Lake. 

We would come out back to look at the view of the lake.

In the midst of relaxing, Shawn would receive an unwanted text here and there. He did his best to tune them out, but realistically had to deal with them. 

We enjoyed hot breakfasts for two each morning.

And danish from the Continental Bakery.

Shawn is known for his gentle spirit and happy heart. It's easily seen in this picture.

We drove to Traverse City to shop downtown and have a leisurely stroll. The weather was unbelievable that weekend with temps in the high 70's. I bought some goodies from Cherry Republic. They have the best chocolate covered cherries, cherry salsas, wines, and other delicious treats. My friend, Ginger, introduced me to that company last Christmas.

We went to Traverse Bay for a little bit.

We enjoy getting reflective shots on the water.

The same day that we went to Traverse City, we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It's a place where you can climb and climb forever. It's great exercise and unfortunately we never made it to the water because the dunes just kept on going. It was near dark, too. 

The kiss

What a pretty farm view from on top of the dunes.

We had a great time, but there is more for me to share.
Stay tuned until next time and I promise it will not be in two months. 

Thanks for stoppying by.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Open Mic Night & Biggy Boo!

Monday is seemingly my busiest day and yet I am finding the time to post before I run, run, run! 

A couple of weeks ago, our church's youth group called Impact, had an Open Mic night where students could sing, dance, show a video they made, display their photography, or do just about anything. Our girls started painting these cute cartoon characters on canvases after their friend Renae introduced it to them. In this photo Melanie was talking about the ones she created.

Braaten Noelle was showing all of us the pretty ones she made. What a great experience for her to get up there and share them with us. Great job, girls!

Melanie also decided to play a piano piece that she has been working on for her upcoming recital. She played, Blessed Be Your Name, absolutely beautifully. 

I stood there in awe of her talent and her bravery to just get up there and do it. Wow! 

And on a very separate note, here is one of our kitty cats named Biggie Boo. OK, so it's a funny name, but he has several versions because when all of the kittens were born this spring & summer, my kiddos gave them names. He has been called Big Boy mainly, but I wanted to call him Bob or Bobby. Melanie started saying Biggie Boo and it is beginning to stick.

He is way cuter than he looks in this photo and he is really active. He was most likely trying to get down out of my grip.

Mellie loves all of the kittens & cats we have. There's Lilly and Ying, the 2 adult cats that each had a litter of kittens. And the ones we have kept are Daisy Loo, Ying's offspring, and Biggie Boo, Lillie's offspring. We also have Beans who hasn't been given away yet. She might be a keeper as well. 

Happy Monday!