Sunday, April 13, 2014


Last night as we tucked in our crew after a slightly exhausting evening, Kevin smiled as he said he couldn't wait for today.  Coming from the King of Sarcasm I was quite sure my response was appropriate.

"Oh, yeah, me too!  We have so many exciting, special things planned."

He was serious though and went on to explain he couldn't wait to have a day home with his family where the only plan was to rest and take the hours as they came.

So today we watched church in our pajamas.  Hiked the VanRaalte Farm trails. Created our version of a favorite sweet potato nacho appetizer we enjoyed on a vacation before kids. Watched as Gavin invented a birthday dessert with oatmeal, honey, sprinkles, and cake mix. Rearranged our bedroom furniture. Got groceries. Put together puzzles. Listened as the kids giggled with new neighbor friends in a circle of beach towels on the deck.  

We pulled up the van seats to vacuum out a year's worth of gunk. We reminised about where the toys came from and when we went to which restaurant.  We laughed about the way one child keeps his cup holder clear and another stores every rock and treasure he stumbles upon.  We discussed the places we have been as a family and the many memories made.

Now we are settled in listening to the Tigers vs. Red Sox on ESPN radio.  Kevin has declared this the "best birthday ever."

We certainly aren't 17 anymore, but there are many days we find ourselves waiting for the next thing. Praying for someday to hurry up and save us. Since Kev's last birthday we have aged together, let go, faced grief, held eachother up, moved on, adjusted, and celebrated new beginnings.

And the moment you let go, the faster the time goes
The darker the night is, the lighter the moon glows

Perspective alert.   
These are the good old days!

All is well right now
It's all good right now

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P.S. This in my 1000th! post, which means we have shared a whole ton of our good old days in the last 7 years!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dating Divas #Fail

"Wouldn't it just be great fun to put together a scavenger hunt for our husbands about some of the places we remember from our dating journey.  Then they can have some man time in the car, and munch some candy, and end up at a fun place to eat together and watch a game or something?  Oh, and wouldn't it be cute if we called it "the road that lead us to you" and we could make each clue a color of the rainbow with the end being the pot of gold.  Maybe instead of having to search for hidden clues we could have them check in at each stop by sending a text with a picture to which we respond with some sweet note of encouragement or a memory." (paraphrased Katie)

Yah!  That sounds so creative and fun and they will totally love it.  Right?! They will feel special because we thought of them and they won't have to hang around and help as we create a big green mess of leprachaun traps and serve frozen fries and fake chicken nuggets to 7 little kids.  Yes, perfect.  Let's do it. (paraphrased Amanda)

Well, let us save you some trouble and perhaps your marital bliss ;) by letting you know how our brilliant little plan played out...

"Guys hate scavengar hunts.  We are simple and would be much happier with chips, salsa, and lemonade than a bunch of random colored candy.  Heck no would we want to spend $20 each to eat out with dudes when we could take our wives out with the same $20. Texting is annoying because it takes forever for you to respond.  Didn't you know Michigan was playin, and it ended 5 minutes before we finished following your mixed up road to no where? Your clues are crazy and don't make sense. We travel by car all week for work, the last place we want to hang out is in our cars. Sure! Perfect night out surprise...for a group of sentimental girls. The only thing that could have maybesaved that idea was if you had rented a sweet car to cruise in. (paraphrased exacerbated Kevin and even more irritated Dan)

Ha!  Anyway, couldn't resist sharing the idea so you could try it next year on St. Patrick's Day, or maybe even better...

April Fool's Day!

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Warm Hearts

Just as it should be, February was a month long celebration of all things love! 

{Love}ly Highlights:

snow forts, winter break & more snow days

a snow flake dinner party

a frozen walk out on the lake

donut delivery 

valentine exchanges & "berry" special surprise mail

 We may still have frozen cold hands, but our hearts are warm.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

{Anne Hope}
     Have a {Love}ly Day,
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Organizing a Home Library

One of my dreams for our new home was a huge built in book shelf.  Our house didn't come with one, but it did offer a great place to add one.  Kevin and I discussed dimensions, counted our tubs of books, planned how many shelves we needed and set off to buy the lumbar at the hardware store.  Yikes!  The price of the wood was much more than we were ready to spend (especially because we still want to finish the plumbed third bath on out lower level).   Plan B.  We headed to the local hotel furniture outlet to see if their warehouse was home to a cast off book shelf we could refurbish.  No luck.  However we walked out past rows and rows of headboards the employees complained they could not sell ~ our inspiration for building a  bookcase out of king size headboards.  The length: perfect.  The wood: pre-sanded.  The edges: nicely beveled.  The price: hundreds less than lumber.   We are excited about how it turned out!  Once Kevin's job of designing, building, and painting was complete it was my turn to load the shelves.

After sharing this picture on Facebook we had questions about how we organize books and what we keep in the storage baskets.  The organization may be a work in progress, but it is a start.  The large brown basket on the bottom shelf is for the younger boys to use when returning books since it is difficult for them to know where to shelve them. 

The other two baskets on the bottom shelf are home to many of our instructional books.  

Leveled Readers

Math & Science Non-Fiction Early Readers

On one side of the baskets is our collection of children's Bibles.  On the other side are the reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, etc.)

On the second shelf from the bottom picture books are grouped by topic.  Dog books, Penguin books, Patriotic books,etc.  We are working on separating each category with wooden paint sticks labeled with Sharpie.

The next shelf up is categorized by favorite authors or genres.  I have a significant collection of poetry books and another collection of ABC books.  We also have several books by Patricia Polacco, Tomie De Paola, Jan Brett, and Theodor Giesel grouped together on this shelf.  Toward the end is a basket full of piano books separating the picture books from the pile of school yearbooks.  

Shelf four is primarily chapter books sorted by author and series number: Magic Tree House, Junie B, Beverly Cleary, Box Car Children, and Baby Sitter's Club make repeat appearances on this shelf.  As dividers we used a few more picture books, all of our Cliffords, Mercer Mayers, Arthur, and Berenstain Bears.

Further up where the kids are not able to reach on their own are some favorites and collectible-type books: Winnie the Pooh, special hard covers given to our babes, and Golden Books.  We have also sectioned out any books about the history, or legends, of Michigan and specifically Holland.

The top two shelves, not pictured, are filled with Kevin and Katie faves.

Hopefully, in addition to being one of my favorite cozy corners in our new home, this will be a place that encourages our kids to read, read, read!

How do you organize books in your home?
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


In honor of Snow Day #2, Winter Break Day #18, we are going a little Frozen!

The kids would really like to get outside to build tunnels and snow trolls, but the wind chill isn't going to allow it.  Instead we brought in an under the bed tote full of the freshest powder from the top layer on our deck.  Filled with snow animals and metal utensils their mittened fingers set to work building indoor winter caves and snow men.

Gathering 10 more cups of fluff we tried a recipe for snow ice cream.  It was a hit, although  Gibson did not find any logic in eating something so cold on a day that is cold enough already.  Gavin loved it until he noticed snow floaters in the melted ice cream in the bottom of his bowl.  Not quite as clean as it looks.  A bit of a science exploration here at our snack time!

In the afternoon we made a frozen snack for our yard's winter visitors.  Cleaning out our fruit drawer and cereal cabinet we arranged goodies in metal jello molds, sunk a loop of twine and filled them with water.  We are still waiting to see how long it will take them to freeze in the snow before we pop them out and hang them on the deck posts.

One of our children who is tall enough to reach the thermometer was a little over heated on this chilly day and turned our heat down to 61.  I couldn't figure out how the little bit of snow we brought in would cool things down so much, but now it all makes sense.  Just adding to the day's theme I guess.

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without listening to the Frozen soundtrack (although, who are we kidding, it has been on repeat since December 26th.  All 6 of us have 100% of the lyrics memorized.

Happy Snow Day.  Stay frozen cozy!
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Monday, January 6, 2014


As an incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift our sister and brother-in-law commissioned a watercolor painting of our first house for us to hang in our new one.  It is a special reminder of the house we brought all four of our babes home to.

When we looked for a frame at our favorite home furnishing on a budget shop, they had a 2-for-1 deal on framed artwork.  We brought two home and disassembled one of them to hold 658.  Anne Hope suggested we could use the second frame for a painting of our new home. With the extra time this afternoon, and no where to go in a blizzard, she tackled the self proclaimed challenge by painting our new home with acrylics.  I was impressed!

For those of you who have been  "stalking the blog for a glimpse of our new place "...cough, J.J, cough... ;). Here is the first stop on your photo tour!

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