Friday, September 23, 2011

Daddy & His Daughters

 The girls have been missing Daddy a lot while he's been away in Iowa. I was perusing some old pictures the other day and I thought that maybe I could grab some of just Mike with the girls. That way, I could create a little slideshow for not only the girls, but Mike as well. Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Root, root, root for the TIGERS!

When it comes to sports, I grew up with a father who is addicted to them. Golf, hockey, bowling, name it, my dad is knowledgeable enough about just about any sport to amaze the socks off of me. There is no way I would ever consider myself a "sports person"...

However, watching football and baseball, along with many other sporting contests on TV, with my dad, afforded me the opportunity to learn about the games, the rules, the players, etc. If I had to pick only one thing to take away from that experience, it would be my love of the Detroit Tigers.

I can remember my parents taking me to my very first game at Tiger Stadium. Seeing the field for the first time live and being enveloped by thousands of fans all there to share in the excitement of the game. We went several times while I was a kid and it had such a lasting impression on me. I can still remember one game where we were sitting out in right field, in the upper box seats, and the Tigers were playing the Oakland A's. Jose Canseco was standing on the field right below us and my Dad yells out, "Hey Jose!" and he turned around and looked up at us! I also remember going to have Alan Trammell autograph one of his baseball cards for me when he was in town for a special appearance and thinking it was the coolest thing ever...

So....Friday night the Tigers were on TV and Verlander was pitching, so I wanted to watch the game. The girls decided to watch it with me and were really into the game. Lauren asked me when they were going to get to see the Tigers play "for real" and I thought, why not? Tickets were still available for Saturday's game @ 4pm, and with a quick check-in with Mike, I bought us tickets and parking. I was over-the-moon thinking about taking my children to see the Tigers play for the first time....

The drive was uneventful, the parking a breeze and getting into Comerica Park was trouble free. We got drinks, found our seats, and settled into them for a great game of ball. Did I mention it was 95 degrees out? In Michigan? In September? We were a little warm but kept cool with plenty of drinks, several well placed clouds and a light breeze. The Tigers evidently forgot that we were coming though, because they were down 8-1 by the 5th inning. It was so bad that at one point, I yelled at Tigers Pitcher, Brad Penny, that his pitching was pathetic. Lauren then politely leaned over and asked, "Mom, what does it mean to be "pathetic"?"...oh boy. 

The Tigers rallied a bit but by the 7th inning, things weren't looking good. Not the team, but the weather. All the stadium lights were on and the sky was black. Lightning was flashing all around us and the wind started to really smash us. Trash was flying everywhere and hitting us in the face and eyes, sheets of rain were falling and they forced us out of the stands and onto the concourse level to wait out the crazy weather. Most people left. Like, over 90% of the people, but Mike said that we were sticking it out and I was secretly very proud of him for making that decision. We stood there with the other die-hards, dripping and disheveled.

After about 30 min, they allowed us to go back to our seats but since almost everyone had left, we grabbed the front row in our section, straddling 3rd base. Great seats, especially for the amazing plays that were to come. Needless to say, after 2 home runs in the 9th inning, the Tigers made a huge comeback and beat the Chicago White Sox in a game that I will never forget. It was AWESOME! And seeing the girls jumping up and down, cheering for the home team...PRICELESS!


Friday, September 2, 2011

A time of transition...

In my short 34 years, I have never even once thought of living in Iowa. Iowa? No. What's in Iowa? Corn, of course, and not much else. At least, that's what I've always thought. When aviation giant Rockwell Collins came calling though, we couldn't help but answer...

I have never lived anywhere but Michigan. Mike has the same story. Although we have both been through the state, I know that I have never personally gone to Iowa just for the sake of visiting. We'll now be calling Cedar Rapids home, which sounds odd to my ears, mostly because it's so similar to "Grand" Rapids.

 Grand Rapids Panorama

Like my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, Cedar Rapids is the 2nd largest city in Iowa. It sits on the banks of the Cedar River and is a manufacturing hub, not only for the state, but the United States in general. While Grand Rapids is known as the "Furniture Capital", Cedar Rapids is the largest corn-processing city in the world. They are also:
  • The second largest producer of wind energy in the United States
  • One of the leading manufacturing regions in the United States
  • One of the leading bio-processing and food ingredient centers in North America 
 Cedar Rapids, IA

Cedar Rapids is home to Rockwell Collins (one of the largest providers of aviation and information systems & services to governmental agencies and aircraft manufacturers), General Mills, Quaker Oats, Cargill and Nordstroms. They value technology and Midwestern values such as a strong work ethic, quality family time and an honest life. The schools are top notch and their parks and recreation options are pretty great too!

Like Grand Rapids, Cedar Rapids is a city with that small-town feel. And compared to the city of my birth, it is small. In the 2010 Census, the city population of Grand Rapids, MI was 188,040, the metropolitan area had a population of 774,160 and a combined statistical area, (Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland) population of 1,321,557. Compare that to Cedar Rapids, IA where the city population was to 126,326 and the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor had an estimated population of 423,353. It's a big difference but not big enough that I feel like I'll be living in the boonies.

 Grand Rapids

It will certainly take some getting used to and some major adjustments in my mind, but I think that this new adventure will be good for our family and help us to appreciate what we have now and what could be in the future. I plan on writing here much more frequently to keep everyone updated! Stay tuned!

Cedar Rapids

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Top 5 Regrets That People Have When Dying

I ran across this article when a friend posted a link to it on Facebook. It really struck me. I get it. I need to be true to myself, let people know how I really feel, play harder than I work, treasure my friends and family and most of all, just allow myself to be happy. 

This really is what life is all about, or at least it should be....

Original Article on The Next Web

When Ms. Bronnie Ware, a woman who worked for years with the dying, wrote a list of the top 5 regrets people say aloud on their deathbed, we teared up a little bit here at TNW.
She posted the top 5 regrets along with her commentary on her website, and we’ve recopied them for you here below. But instead of just the grandmotherly bits of advice about dreams having gone unfulfilled, we’ve supplemented each regret with some rockstar advice on how to not have these regrets in the digital age.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

TNW Advice: We interview so many entrepreneurs here at The Next Web, some of whom will succeed, most of whom will fail. But it’s about going out and creating a reality out of what was once just an idea in your head. Today, due to the Internet’s accessibility, smart people are discovering that instead of getting the next big paying cog-in-a-machine job that they are able to start their own company and they’re receiving a lot of satisfaction from doing so.
“Yesterday, I had an epiphany that for the first time in my life, who I am and who I want to be are virtually one in the same. It’s so much more effective to be yourself than to pretend to be something your not because doing the latter is so emotionally taxing, you’ll never be someone that is fully committed. Being yourself pays dividends.”
-Brett Martin, the CEO and Founder of Sonar, a hot new social, location-based mobile application.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

TNW Advice: We are really hard workers here at The Next Web, in fact, I am pretty sure that @Zee hasn’t slept in the past 36 hours. But being a Dutch-based company, our roots are in relaxation. We know how to unwind after hard days.

If you need some literary inspiration, read up on How To Disconnect, A Primer and The value in jumping off the social media train.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

TNW Advice: Expressing your feelings to loved ones and blogging or tweeting your thoughts are two different things. People often use Twitter as a soap box to express their anger or resentment over things they can not control. We’d like to take this time to remind you that as much as we love living in the virtual world, sometimes a hug, a long chat over a glass of wine or a phone call to a loved one far away is more valuable than any social media valuation, no matter how ludicrous.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

TNW Advice: At first glance, this is a relatively easy problem to tackle as social networks, namely Facebook, have allowed us to keep up with too many friends and social connections. My best friends always say, “Thank god for Facebook, because I know you’re alive.” And this is slightly concerning. My best friends have to follow me on Facebook to know I’m alive? Use Facebook to keep in quick contact with friends, but defer to real life for those that matter. Pokes, Likes and Comments are not the same as ladies’ lunches, beach trips and dinner parties. Make the time.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

TNW Advice: If you’re reading this, chances are you have a long way to go before you die. So, please, allow yourself to be happy. Smile in the sunshine, kick the ball around with your son, have a glass of wine with your wife in the afternoon, move to Argentina, buy yourself a Kindle for the love of reading; whatever it is, be good to yourself.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What's Happening?

I know that I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping up with my's sad. One of my favorite parts about blogging is being able to go back in time and read about what was happening at that time in our lives. Nothing to read if I don't write anything....

Life has been lazier than normal and although I've enjoyed it while it was here, I'm ready to get back into the swing of life. The girls have their first school Carnival this Saturday, which should be a lot of fun for the whole family! I have a new niece set to arrive any day now-so exciting- and we are traveling to Milwaukee soon to celebrate with my cousin, Kelsey, as she weds her handsome Brit.

Once April hits, life really starts to speed up. Spring break, Caribbean Cruise, Easter...and May is always crazy! I am honestly looking forward to all of it, especially the weather warming up, sunshine and the outdoors coming to life again. Winter is so dark and dreary that the brightness of Spring is like walking into a rainbow-too bad that pot of gold is never around! :-)

I'll leave you with a pic of the girls from Easter last certainly makes me long for the brighter days ahead!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Keeping the Fairy Busy

The girls have been losing teeth faster than I even thought possible! Lauren currently stands at 6 and Tara is at 5. Their 2 permanent bottom teeth have come in but the ones on either side are still missing. Lauren's top 2 permanent teeth are just starting to poke through and I think that they will be in soon! And, on top of that, they are just starting to get their 6 year molars popping up as well!

Now, Daddy has had the "pleasure" of pulling or removing all the girls teeth for them. Honestly, I think the girls are super brave and have personally asked Mike to pull each tooth when it got too bothersome for them or painful while eating.

However, while I was helping Tara remove her sweater on Monday, her upper lip got stuck on her loose tooth and yanked it upwards. I don't think it felt very good...poor thing! So, I had the tremendous task of pulling it out for her. Yay. Not.

Those who know me know that I am not a "blood" person. I usually feel like fainting (and I have) or throwing-up (that too) at the sight of blood. I think I handled the tooth removal pretty well but the blood almost did me in...blah.

So, The Tooth Fairy has been making frequent stops to the house to exchange those little, white nuggets for gold, shiny ones. The Fairy leaves a $1 golden coin and a Chuck E. Cheese token each time. Who would have thought? I remember getting a big, silvery .50 cent piece from The Tooth Fairy when I was little and I thought it was the coolest thing!

What did The Tooth Fairy leave under your pillow?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Project Completed!

Kitchen as it looked when we bought it... (2009)

Kitchen in May 2010 after just about everything had been replaced...

Kitchen after this past week!

No more drop ceiling or florescent shop lights for us!

Projects, projects, projects...there's always more "projects" to be completed than we have the time, money or energy for. The kitchen, in particular, was pretty much complete after we gutted it back in '09. We finally added the mosaic stone and glass backsplash in the middle of last year but there was still one main thing left to do. It was really bugging us that the kitchen still had the original lighting and drop ceiling look of the early 80's. was "Good Bye!" to the transparent light tiles, the drop-ceiling tracks, the ugly fluorescent shop lights and the bulkhead that separated the kitchen from the eating area (which was the most work). We had a lot of demo, even more drywall and patching work, new electrical, a couple gallons of paint and primer, and a lot of measuring! We installed new recessed lighting fixtures and a new light bar with pendants over the island and sink. We also replaced the outdated gold & tulip ceiling fan above the kitchen table, which was immediately more soothing to the least mine anyway!

I'm so happy with how it all turned out and that we can now cross off one of the "big" items from "The List". I also have to say that without my handy hubby, none of this would be possible. I'm so grateful for his know-how, willingness to learn to do something new and be patient with me as I change my mind 10x before settling on the final option. I think we make a great team.... :-)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Lights Shone Brightly

These are the lights and decorations that garnered the 2010 Neighborhood Association Award for the best "Outdoor Holiday Decor". You can't see the garland, wreaths and bows very well in the dark but you get the idea! Can't wait to go spend that $50 Gift Card at the local hardware store!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Vehicular Units

While having dinner with our friends at Uccello's a couple of weeks ago, some nice person backed into our Yukon XL, smashing part of the bumper, rear quarter panel, tail light and adding some nice scratches down the side. They took off of course, so we were left to speculate what happened, when and why. We have a big, solid vehicle...I can only imagine what their car looked like!

The car is at the shop this week, getting the body work completed. That leaves us with only our '95 Thunderbird. Not the best car for maneuvering through Michigan's snow and ice, not to mention that it leaves me without a car all day. Such a strange feeling! Not being able to leave makes me want to get out of the house even more!

It did make me realize though that we really need to start saving for a newer car. Something that both Mike and I will like driving and can easily seat all 4 of us. Maybe a small SUV like an Escape or crossover vehicle like the Equinox. The 2-door sporty car from the mid 90's just isn't cutting it anymore...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Go Boyne!

It's that time of year again where our family gathers all of our cold-weather gear and bundles it into the 4-Wheel Drive sleigh for our annual trip up north to Boyne Mountain. We do normally go in February but it didn't fit in the schedule this January it is!

If you have never been on a "Ski Vacation" before, I highly recommend that you make a list. The amount of stuff that we have to bring for this one trip is at least double that of any other vacation destination. Not only do you have to have your coat and snow pants and boots, etc. but you need the "ski" versions of the stuff as well. Ski poles, ski boots, ski gloves, hats, skis, goggles, helmets, face masks, boot name it, we bring it. You even have to bring your warm-weather gear (like bathing suits and shorts) because the resort has Michigan's largest indoor water park (Avalanche Bay) that they keep at 84-87 degrees daily. It's crazy!
Mike learned to ski at Boyne when he was a little guy and the girls are loving the experience as well. It's so much easier to learn at this age, when the snow is only inches from your bottom! Falling and getting back up is not the chore for them that it is for the adult learner, that's for sure...

Hopefully it will be a fun and enjoyable week for all with plenty of pictures to follow!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Photos Over the Years

Chistmas 2005 
(this one is my favorite...)

Chistmas 2006 
(we didn't make the cut that year)

Christmas 2007 
(my least favorite although the girls are adorable)
Christmas 2008
(are you noticing a trend with Mike's shirt?)

Christmas 2009
(yes, I'm wearing the exact same jewelry as last year...)
Christmas 2010
(the girls are wearing the same headbands as last year...)

It's fun looking at the kids and how they change from year to year! Mike and I....not so much. Although, I clearly need to be more diligent next year and make sure that we don't have any repeats of the same clothes or accessories. I had no idea that Mike wore the same shirt for 3 years or that my choice of jewelry would be so boring! Not that it looks bad, it just makes me laugh when I look at it now!

We love sending out Christmas Cards every year and I think the photos add a personal touch. We love receiving cards too, but it seems like we get fewer in the mail every year. I know that there can be a significant cost involved in sending them out but it may be the only contact with have with some of our friends and family all year, so it's totally worth it for us! 

I wonder what we'll do for our picture next year? Maybe we'll try a tropical theme? At least I've got 11 months to plan!