Friday, February 27, 2009

Gettin' Away

With the new home looming in the near future, we really wanted to take a couple of days to get away, visit with friends, do some caching and relaxing. We are heading out this afternoon to grab some caches in the Lansing Area with our friend Jim (Boomerbear), and have dinner at our favorite resturant, Cheddar's (it's the only one left in the State). We'll then be traveling over to the East side of the State on Saturday and Sunday. There we plan to do more caching and hanging out with our friend Tim (Rattrak), as he shows us some new geocaches in the area. We'll let the girls swim in the hotel pool and just kick back for a few days, knowing that we have some serious work ahead of us!

I told Mike that I wanted to hit the magic # 4,000th Geocache by my birthday (Monday) and he said that he was happy to comply! We'll probably go over that number by then but I know that once we get started on the moving project, caching is going to take a back seat. Luckily, we are going on vacation in mid-April with our friends Deane and Linda (DeRock & The Psychic Cacher), which should come at a great time for us. We'll really be needing a break by then!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Merging the Old with the New

As my mind races with all that needs to be done with the new house, I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate a lot of the items that are in our current home with the future one. I DO NOT want it to become a replica of what we have now. We obviously don't have the funds to just start all over from scratch and that would be wasteful anyway. With that in mind, Mike and I have been working hard to try to take inventory of our furniture and find a way to make it all work, while investing in some new pieces as well.

I love shopping so this should be fun!

The majority of our cash will go towards new flooring. It will definitely be our biggest up front expense, followed closely by the kitchen. We still have not made a decision as to what we want to do there. It seems that the home originally had some pretty quality cabinetry but it was painted over several times and ruined (well, not ruined, but really messed up!) when past owners put the handles right in the center of the doors. We were thinking about just getting new doors and hardware but have learned that we might be better off just starting over, getting all new cabinets, and rearranging it differently for the same price. Since the kitchen alone holds so much of a homes value, this is a big decision for us. Funny, since it's the one place in my house I try to avoid! :)

With any luck we will be able to close in the next 2 weeks and get started on this bad boy! We did more packing this weekend and went "shopping" for ideas at Lowe's-for 3 HOURS!-and didn't buy one single thing! I was really proud of us for that. There will be plenty of trips to the store to spend our precious savings in the weeks and months to come. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted as things progress!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Bedroom #4 N.W. Corner

Bedroom #3 N.E. Corner

Master Bedroom Makeup/Sink Area and M.Bath

Another view of M. Bedroom with 2 big closets. (It also has a door to walk out onto the upper deck and you can see the Thornapple River through the trees)

Main 2nd Floor Bath-needs serious updating! :)

Living Room with a good perspective on it's size!

Family Room with Fireplace and Wet-bar

Kitchen (I'm standing in the eating area)

Looking into the Kitchen from the Dining Room

Dining Room

Double doors and Foyer area

I'm going to post a few of the inside pics of the home. All the walls will need cleaning and paint, all the flooring is being replaced, a new counter in the kitchen as well as many fixtures and little things here and there. The home has been winterized so that's why you'll see tape in the bathrooms and such. The bathrooms will all have to be remodeled (maybe not the main floor one) too at some point but it's not our first priority.

Not pictured on the first floor are the study, main floor laundry, bathroom, pantry, eating area and main part of the foyer. The second floor Bedroom #2 has some drywall issues and a busted door and it also has it's own bath. That will be the twins new room. Upstairs has a nice window in the hallway that lets in lots of natural light and a decent linen closet as well.

It also has an unfinished basement that is completely open and untouched. Maybe in a year or two we will start working on that-so many possibilities!

We just can't wait to get started!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2600 Riveredge

Well, here she is...our new home! It's located in Cascade with Forest Hills Schools. 3200 sq ft (not including the unfinished basement), 4 Bedrooms and 4 Bathrooms (2/2), over 1/2 an acre of property, circle drive, etc. I will try to post some inside pictures tomorrow...just understand that this is a foreclosure and it will need a lot of paint and flooring, among other things.

Our offer was accepted and we should be closing on the house in mid-March. I wish that I had time to write more but there is a lot going on today and not enough hours to do it all in! Story of my life....

We are sooooooooo excited!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where am I?

No, this isn't a game like "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" but rather a statement of confusion. Where am I? I have reached a plateau and seem to be perpetually stuck here, needing badly to move forward, onward and upward! There is soooooo much to do and I don't feel like doing any of it! It's not that I don't want to do these things because I do...really...but I feel like I'm in a bog and unable to move without extreme effort, only to be sucked further into the mire.

So, I am forcing myself to make a list. I like lists and they usually work for me-groceries, trip packing, school supplies, etc. I normally don't need to make them for everyday issues but things have gotten out of hand and I feel that I have no choice. We are going to be moving soon (made an offer on a house today) and I really need to work out a game plan to get this house packed, cleaned and move-able by the end of March. Plus, if we get the house in question, it will need a lot of work before we can move into it and time is of the essence. Mike and I will really need to make a plan in regards to which improvements come first and stick with it.

But before all of that, my real concerns lie in the everyday things that I am not getting accomplished. The floors are vacuumed and the clothes are washed, piano dusted and dishes clean but I still have not gotten out all the "Thank Yous" from the girls' birthday party(s), responded to e-mails that should have been taken care of immediately, filed all the paperwork that is piling up like a mountain on my desk and dining room table and counter, etc.....

So, I would like to start by thanking our dear friends, Joe and Sharon, for sending the beautiful dolls to Lauren and Tara for their birthday. It was completely unexpected and they were thrilled with their first porcelain dolls-they are so careful with them but still play with them like their other babies. So cute! I'm attaching a picture of them watching a movie and holding their dollies with care. I apologize for it taking so long to let you know that they arrived safe and sound and to let you know how much we appreicate your kindness and friendship!

Now, on to the rest of the list!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is in the Air

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Inquiring minds want to know....

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine too many scenarios where my hubby/boyfriend/significant other comes home with a little gift or flowers or chocolate, and I'm not happy about it! If having a special day set aside each year where we can all feel free to express our love for each other is what it takes, than gosh darn it, I'll take it!

Sure, we can mock the holiday and the "cheesiness" factor built into little hearts and cupids, etc. We can cry, "No one loves me...I didn't get a Valentine." Or, we can embrace the day and take it upon ourselves to let our friends and family know much they mean to us and how much we love them, because who knows what an ordinary day like February 15th might bring!

So, love on people! Share the warm fuzzies with abandon! I'm gonna do it and you can to!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Little History

I've been thinking about Valentine's Day and what the actual history behind it is. Since I love historical novels, especially 12-16th Century England, I know that St. Valentine's Day is included frequently in the writings of that time. So, it's truly not just another "Hallmark Holiday" as some people like to say, it really has been around and celebrated for hundreds, if not over a thousand years.

Here is a little snippet of information and history that I have gathered for your reading pleasure:

Every February, across the world, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine's Day — should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

*info courtesy of

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Today, February 11th, marks the 1 year anniversary of my contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I can remember that morning fairly well...waking up as usual around 7:30am to the sounds of giggles and whispers from the bedroom next to ours. Something didn't feel right right hand was kinda numb and tingly but I just figured I'd slept on it funny and the feeling would eventually go away.

As I started to go about my day, I realized that I was having a very difficult time doing ordinary things, such as getting the girls dressed or brushing my hair or standing up. I thought I was coming down with a serious case of the flu for sure! It got so disturbing that I actually had to call Mike and ask him to come home from work-something I never do, even when I am sick. We made an appointment to see the Dr. the following morning, hoping to figure out what was going on as quickly as possible before I felt any worse.

As many of you know, I did not get better, instead starting down the road to total body paralysis (with the exception of much of my face) and the need to be ventilated so that I could breathe.

I try to not remember those days, because when I do, the emotions are still too raw and close to the surface for me not to cry. I was scared. I was lonely. I was confused. I had never been in the hospital, with the exception of giving birth to the girls, never broken a bone or needed stitches, perfect attendance for over 5 years at my past job and in school. "I" didn't get sick...why was this happening to me? What did I do wrong?

Of course I know that I didn't do anything wrong and there is no answer to the "why" part of it. But I still asked myself those questions over and over-and ultimately it came back to my realization that everything happens for a reason, and although I am not always meant to understand it, it had a purpose.

I am here today, I am happy and fairly healthy, surrounded by loving friends and family and enjoying all the things that this life offers. And....I guess that's the whole point. So, today I am remembering, and also moving one step further down the road. Not the road of forgetting, but of living and loving and being happy...AMEN!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Winter Caching

Geocaching in Garfield Park, Grand Rapids MI

A frozen lake just North of Kalamazoo, MI

View of Downtown Grand Rapids while grabbing the cache

Winter sunset over Grandville, MI

Although some folks shy away from geocaching in the Winter, I still like to get out when I can. Some days I need a little more motivation/persuasion than others, but the ever changing landscape of Michigan never fails to amaze me. One day we'll have 10 ft of snow, the next day temps in the 50's, and the next day, more snow. We don't get much sunshine in GR in the Winter, but when we do, never are the skies more brilliantly blue and sunsets more stunning.

Happy Winter Geocaching Everyone!

*these are all pictures I've taken in the last month caching here in Michigan

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Trashing the Camp

As Mike and I continue to look at houses that are up for sale, we realize that there are a lot of foreclosure properties among the lot and also know that this is where we can really make our money. However, going through many of these homes is still somewhat shocking to me....and sad. I actually feel bad for the house, having been neglected, abused and literally trashed. We went through a home yesterday that once must have been beautiful and stately. It is only 8 years old, 2300 sq ft 2-story with an unfinished basement. From the exterior, you're thinking, this home is lovely and they're only asking how much? What could be wrong with it?

Then, you step into someone else's world. The carpets have been destroyed, the floors covered with so much trash you HAVE to walk on it to get from room to room. Old clothes and sheets used for window coverings, moldy food still rotting on the floor, piles of garbage and everything of value gone. Why? This home belonged to somebody. A family. And the state of this home was not something new, not just retaliation for the bank seizing it back for lack of payment. They lived this a home valued at one time for over $350,000.

I consider our home to be an extension of myself and my family. It reflects our tastes, our mood, our way of living. Sometimes I am ashamed that its floors are dusty or the sink full of dirty dishes or closets long over-due for a good organizing, but I would never purposely make it into something unhealthy, rancid and filthy. Then, it wouldn't be my would just be walls and a roof and space. That's sad....and I find myself getting upset with these unknown owners who have allowed themselves to sink to such a level of disinterest and neglect, with the saddest part being the example that they have set for their children.

Let us all strive to be more than that, to care more than that, and to love ourselves and our children more than that....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trip to the Museum

Last Monday, I was lucky enough to get to spend a few hours with my friends, Karena and Andrea, along with their adorable daughters, at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Did you know that the Museum is FREE to Grand Rapids residents on Mondays? Andrea let us in on this little secret and it was a great way to spend a cold, January Monday morning!

While we were there, I really wanted to get over to the furniture section of the museum to see if I could finally find a reference to the MACEY Furniture Co. Fred Macey sold furniture in Grand Rapids, beginning in 1892. He started with a mail-order business, selling office desks made by other furniture makers. His advertising and the offer of a $25 roll-top desk succeeded, and he expanded the line to include office and library furniture. Retail stores then started to complain that his mail-order sales hurt their businesses, so many manufacturers stopped selling him their furniture. Macey decided to open his own factory and make his own furniture around 1900, and he continued to sell by mail. In 1905, the company merged with the Wernicke Furniture Co., and Macey Wernicke Co. started. In 1908, the name was simplified to the Macey Co. Fred Macey died in 1909, and Otto Wernicke became president.

The reason this is important to me is that Mike's Grandmother (paternal) is the niece of Fred Macey. We have 2 beautiful Macey Sectional Bookcases that were manufactured around 1902. One is in oak and the other mahogany, and they were given to us by his Grandparents before they passed. I was happy to find a reference to the company as we were strolling through the displays, spotting a similar bookcase straight away. How neat is it to have a piece of your family history mentioned at the Museum...

Of course, the real fun for the kids was riding the beautiful carousel, looking out over the Grand River, as the sun was peeking through the clouds and glistening on the fresh snow. It was a great way to end our morning-they're already asking when we can go back and do it again!

Andrea and her daughter, Vivian are featured in the top photo.

Karena and her daughter, Chloe are in the middle and we of course, are the last one.

All the girls had fun, young and old, and we'll have to schedule another "Play" date again soon!