Category Archives: 35 before 35

Mark another one off the list

Yesterday was finally the day… the haircut day. After nearly two years of growing out my hair, I got about 10 inches chopped off to donate (I picked Children With Hair Loss – a Michigan nonprofit). It was liberating. I loved my long hair, but was finally sick of it and ready for a change. My friend Michelle has been cutting my hair (and the little boys’ hair) for the last few years so it seemed only right that she do the honors. Three pony tails and a few cuts later and it was done. It didn’t make me at all sad, but very happy that I could do this little thing for someone else. Hopefully my hair will make someone else smile and feel a little more confident. It’s an honor to know they will go to a child in need of a little healing.

Here are a few before and after shots of the front and the back.

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I love checking things off my list… not to mention today we closed on our new house so I can mark off another item (or just about). I’ve got quite a few things left to do in the next 5 weeks before I turn 35, but I feel good about all I’ve done so far and don’t feel at all bad if I don’t accomplish everything. The list was just a little guidance for the things I wanted my life to be about – to keep me headed in the right direction – and to that end, mission accomplished! I can’t wait to make another list: 40 before 40.

Here’s where we’re at so far:

35 before 35

  1. Go camping with the boys. [In Stef’s backyard.]
  2. Take another road trip with the family. [Texas 2013]
  3. Start a chore chart/allowance system for the kids. [Good behavior chart to earn toys – good enough for now.]
  4. Teach Liam to ride a bike.
  5. Read at least 20 books.
  6. Participate in a 5K – walking or running. [Did not participate in a race, but so far in 2013, I’ve logged over 300 miles walking, on the elliptical and on the stationary bike and that’s good enough to me – I have no idea what I did in 2012.]
  7. Sell our house and move into our “forever” home. [Coming the first week in July.]
  8. Make plans to visit Australia with the boys.
  9. Go on a girl’s weekend with my friends.
  10. Take a 2+ day trip with just Simon. [A 1-day visit to Galveston and many date nights will have to do.]
  11. See at least 5 live musical performances. [5/5; DMB Caravan, Sara Bareilles, Boyce Avenue, The Verve Pipe, Ingrid Michaelson, fun.]
  12. Teach Liam to read.
  13. Potty train Jack.
  14. Go to ArtPrize twice. [2/2]
  15. Eat at 10 new-to-me restaurants. [13/10; Marie Catribs, Electric Cheetah, Cabana Tres Amigos, Beltline Bar, Brick Road Pizza, Flat River Grill, Leo’s, Brewery Vivant, One Trick Pony, Marco’s, Ramona’s Table, Stella’s, Perrin Brewing Company]
  16. Take Jack to his first movie in a theater.
  17. Go mini-golfing with the boys.
  18. Take the boys to a hockey game.
  19. Attempt to grow out my hair for locks of love. [Done and donated to Children with Hair Loss]
  20. Send at least 8 “care” packages to out-of-town friends and family. (6/8)
  21. Meet my WW’s goal (way before 35). [First goal met, working on more.]
  22. Get Jack baptised/dedicated at church. [Sunday, January 21]
  23. Stay at the JW Marriott. [Simon booked this for us but then we cancelled it due to buying a house. In this case, it’s the thought that counts to let me mark it off the list.]
  24. Stay at a bed and breakfast.
  25. Visit Great Wolf Lodge. [Went to Avalanche Bay – close enough.]
  26. Get an hour-long massage.
  27. Plant a garden. [Planted flowers last summer and grew lettuce in a planter – good enough.]
  28. Send someone flowers.
  29. Join a bible study.
  30. Continue writing this blog.
  31. Start AND finish a quilt.
  32. Tackle the crazy basement once and for all.
  33. Re-finish a piece of furniture.
  34. Get the boys sharing a room so we can reclaim a guest room/office/craft space.
  35. Get vinyl flooring installed in our kitchen. [Instead we had the cabinets painted and bought a different house.]

Check this one off the list

On my list of things I want to do before I turn 35 next year (speaking of, I have less than a year to complete this list – uh oh), one was going to Great Wolf Lodge with the boys and this past weekend we made plans for just such a thing, opting instead to go to Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain. My lovely husband took care of planning and booking everything – which is just about a perfect vacation to me – not having to worry about the details (more perfect would be having it completely paid for by someone else + about ten more days + a nanny; but I’m very happy with how it went).

Saturday morning, bright and early, we left and headed north. Near Cadillac we noticed something more than frost on the trees and the grass surrounding the highway… that’s right, November 3, our first snow sighting of the year.

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Our official check in wasn’t supposed to be until 5 so we planned a detour to visit some friends who opened a B&B/gastro pub outside of Traverse City – if you find yourself on M22 in Maple City, check out Little Traverse Inn and tell them Michelle and Simon sent you – you will not be disappointed (also, anyone want to plan a weekend getaway with us – we know a great place to stay). After lunch, we got a tour of the rooms and the boys checked out the porch chairs…

After that we headed further north to our final destination, still not telling the boys what our plan for the weekend was. We didn’t tell them until Saturday morning that we were going anywhere and when we asked Liam to guess where we were going, he shouted, “Las Vegas!?” Um, no.

We pulled into Boyne Mountain, got checked in and were planning on saving the ultimate surprise (the water park) until after we got the boys changed into their swimsuits. Sadly, a well-meaning handyman, asked the kids in the elevator on our way to our room if they were going to the water park and therefore let the cat out of the bag. Stupid handyman.

Near-total-surprise or not, the boys were beyond thrilled with the weekend… they could have spent endless hours swimming around, going down slides and jumping into our arms from the side of the pool. The first day we spent a couple hours at the water park before dinner (McDonald’s – another treat) and then headed back to our room where the boys wiped out in their upstairs loft while we watched TV downstairs. The excitement got the best of them and they were up in the wee hours of the morning (Jack very angry that Simon and I were then sleeping in “his” bed after we moved him to a nest of cushions and blankets on the floor – he awoke at 3:00 with a loud, “Hey – why are you in my bed, I don’t like that!”). Simon kept them at bay with the television downstairs until 7 when he could go get us some Starbucks. The children were ready to go, in their suits and goggles with only 3 hours to wait until the water park opened…
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I discovered the first day that I really don’t enjoy water slides – it had been ages since I had been on one and I had forgotten how little I like the unknown element of sending yourself plummeting into a tube of water, blind to the twists and turns to come (plus I wear contacts so I can’t go with my eyes open). I could not sure out why I had a gnawing in my gut and a racing heart while we waited in line for Vertigo and then Liam and I got on our double tube and entered the dark tube and my brain screamed: YOU HATE THIS, YOU BIG DUMMY! Neither of my little boys share my dislike, which is good for them, but bad for me since they could have gone on slide after slide, without stopping (and pretty much did) so I had to suck it up and get over my aversion as they needed a parent with them and why let Simon enjoy all their glee? That is the hallmark of parenting right there – doing things you don’t want to do because it will be a good experience for your kids and trying to avoid them having your hang ups about things.  Speaking of avoiding your hang ups about things, Liam was desperate to ride the faux wave thing shown below and we finally relented and let him try it, knowing the worst thing that could happen would be that he was frustrated and got a mouth-full of water.  There he is on his boogie board after a successful first attempt which we don’t have documentation of because we couldn’t get the phone out in time (it was successful but brief)…

And there he is, completely wiping out on his second attempt. And if you think that it appears that he is knackers (a.k.a., nekkid) in the photo below, you would be right, because his swim trunks were around his ankles. He popped up quickly and the lifeguard held up the boogie board to block everyone’s view while he pulled up his trunks. He is thankfully just young enough to not be completely embarrassed that this happened – though I’m sure he’ll appreciate this photo in a couple years and even more that I shared this story here. I would like to thank the parents who stood at the bottom of the exit and gave him high fives for his attempt – he was by far the youngest kid in line to try the water feature.


All-in-all, despite our kids whininess when they didn’t get their way on every detail and their completely craziness when we weren’t in the water (“we were just excited, mom”), I’d call this weekend a great success! Yes, Liam is strong-arming Jack in the photo below, they are really never not wrestling.

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Plus we had the following views to enjoy on our car ride home:

Both boys were down for the night by 7:00 and Simon and I were in bed and asleep by 8:30/9:00. More pics to come in my next Instagram post.

35 Before 35, one year down

A year ago (give or take a few days), I turned 33 and I posted my 35 Before 35 list. Now that we are a year into my two-year to-do list, it seems like a good time for a recap – really to make me see what I need to accomplish in the next year and to help kick my butt into gear. (I totally said “butt” on my blog – don’t tell my kids because I wasn’t in the bathroom when I said it – you’re welcome – and I really don’t want to put soap in my mouth.)

  1. Go camping with the boys. [We’ve been thinking really hard about this one… does that count? But I have a good feeling this will get done.]
  2. Take another road trip with the family. [Planning on it for next February/March. Though we did quite a bit of driving in Australia, so that should count, right?]
  3. Start a chore chart/allowance system for the kids.
  4. Teach Liam to ride a bike. [Not yet without training wheels, but I wasn’t specific, now was I?]
  5. Read at least 20 books. [Reading books is not something I have a problem accomplishing, my problem is how I avoid everything else when I’m reading them.]
  6. Participate in a 5K – walking or running.
  7. Sell our house and move into our “forever” home.
  8. Make plans to visit Australia with the boys. [I should get double points for this one because not only did we plan it, we did it.]
  9. Go on a girl’s weekend with my friends. [Went with Tracey to Boyne last fall but have another one in the works for this fall with the larger group of Rooks’ girls – haven’t quite told my husband yet – shhhh.]
  10. Take a 2+ day trip with just Simon. [Date set for a trip to Chicago in July – I’m totally jumping the gun with crossing it off because I can; this does not mean it won’t happen.]
  11. See at least 5 live musical performances. [4/5; DMB Caravan, Sara Bareilles, Boyce Avenue, The Verve Pipe – one left and I am dying for a live musical performance – sans kids.]
  12. Teach Liam to read. [Liam is reading and I know I had a hand in it, but certainly his teacher gets more credit than me. And our satellite radio receiver, which he reads the song titles off of every time we’re in the car.
  13. Potty train Jack. [I could write a novel about how happy this makes me.]
  14. Go to ArtPrize twice. [One down, one to go.]
  15. Eat at 10 new-to-me restaurants. [10/10; Marie Catribs, Electric Cheetah, Cabana Tres Amigos, Beltline Bar, Brick Road Pizza, Flat River Grill, Leo’s, One Trick Pony, Marco’s, Crooked Goose]
  16. Take Jack to his first movie in a theater. [I sure do hope he can sit through a movie sometime in the next year, but that is questionable.]
  17. Go mini-golfing with the boys.
  18. Take the boys to a hockey game.
  19. Attempt to grow out my hair for locks of love. [Still growing… I need another 4-5 inches, I think. But my grey hairs easily prove my hair is untouched by dyes and chemicals so at least it is “virgin.”]
  20. Send at least 8 “care” packages to out-of-town friends and family. [2/8 – better start mailing things]
  21. Meet my WW’s goal (way before 35). [Initial goal, met, now need to get back in the bandwagon for the rest.]
  22. Get Jack baptised/dedicated at church. [The weekend we returned from Australia, of course.]
  23. Stay at the JW Marriott.
  24. Stay at a bed and breakfast.
  25. Visit Great Wolf Lodge.
  26. Get an hour-long massage. [I got a 20-minute one, so I guess I had better work very hard on this one.]
  27. Plant a garden. [I planted flowers – and though I believe I was intending this to mean vegetables, we’re calling it good.]
  28. Send someone flowers.
  29. Join a bible study. [We joined a small group – that’s good enough for me. (And also, awesome)]
  30. Continue writing this blog. [Again, one year down, one more to go but all indicators point to yes.]
  31. Start AND finish a quilt. [Ha, ha, ha. But I did make Halloween costumes for the boys – the only time I’ve touched the sewing machine this year.]
  32. Tackle the crazy basement once and for all. [It’s as tackled as it’s going to get.]
  33. Re-finish a piece of furniture.
  34. Get the boys sharing a room so we can reclaim a guest room/office/craft space. [Now if only they would go to sleep or stay in there quietly at bedtime.]
  35. Get vinyl flooring installed in our kitchen. [This might be the most boring thing I my list, clearly I was stretching for a 35th item.]

Well, that review made me feel so much better, though there are many big things left to accomplish. And lots of trips… here’s hoping!!!

What would you like to accomplish in the next two years?

Year In Review

Had I been more on my game I would have done a recap of my year at the actual end of 2011, but well… anyway. My blog is just over a year old, so now is as good a time as any to do the recap. Also, for anyone who is new here, please check out my favorite posts.

January 2011
– As a family we were recovering from Jack’s hand surgery – he got his cast off right after Christmas and was wearing a splint in January
– Started my bloggity blog with my 2011 Resolutions
– First Music Monday post with my fave, David Gray

February
– Jack turned 2, Simon turned 36 (mathematically, he’s now rounding up to 40)
– We “celebrated” one year of Simon working second shift (verdict: it still stinks, but it’s also handy for saving money with childcare)

March
– We road tripped to Texas with the boys and survived

April
– I finally found my blogging groove
– Easter and all its fun and family time
– Started feeling more back to normal (and starting to think I have SAD)
– Read Heaven is For Real for book club (read it)
– Celebrated 6 years of marriage (Confession: I’m horrible at remembering how many years we’ve been married)
– We switched churches
– I started Weight Watchers

May
– Liam graduated preschool and my great-nephew, Max, turned 2!
– I admitted to liking Justin Bieber
– My fourth year of MOPS wrapped up for the summer
– I got pooped on by a bird for the 5th time in my life

 June
– We said goodbye to Jonna and Darin
– The boys started at a new daycare
– Checked out Festival in downtown GR
– I owned up to my fears and regrets
– Something serendipitous happened
– After a year (and a lifetime) of waiting, we finally saw U2 in concert

July
– I turned 33 and made a list of things I wanted to do before I turn 35
– We saw DMB and David Gray at the Chicago leg of the DMB Caravan
– Posted my 100th blog post

August
– Liam turned 5 and that freaked me out a little, but we made the Carnitas-Style Beef with Onions and Peppers from PW’s blog and it made it all worth it
– I reached a goal of losing 10% of my body weight
– Used my mother’s day gift to see Sara Barielles with two of my favorite people
– Baby Wesley arrived a tad early (two months) but proved to be a NICU rockstar and was home in short order!

September
– Liam started kindergarten (which he loved and asked to go every day) and soccer
– Simon coached rugby at Calvin (see also: spring semester and the rest of fall)
– I made something with quinoa and loved it
– Liam went to his first Spartan football game
– MOPS restarted for the year and this year I’m a table leader (and I have an awesome table – probably because of their leader – ha!)

October
– My dad had his knee replaced
– We checked out ArtPrize in downtown GR
– We bought tickets to go to Australia
– I rounded out my year of concerts by road tripping with Stef to Ann Arbor to see Boyce Avenue
– I made Angry Birds costumes for the boys for Halloween

November
– My friend, Tracey, and I got to get away for the weekend – it was glorious
Lots of thankfulness
– Thanksgiving

December
– Christmas parties
– My office moved
– Christmas with family
– Boarded a plane for Australia, celebrated the new year’s arrival in the air

2012 Resolutions

Happy February 1 everyone – time to make some resolutions! [What? It’s perfectly normal to make resolutions the first day of the second month of the year… everyone should have a resolution-free January.]

Last year was the first year I really thought about my resolutions and actually tried to stick to them for the whole year* and I feel like I did a pretty good job of being realistic with my resolutions and following through on them (see my report card). I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in this coming year and there are quite a few things that are on my 35 before 35 list that I’d like to check off so I don’t know that I’ll include those as resolutions since they are already covered there, but there are a few general thoughts/themes/topics I’d like to write down as resolutions and hope that you’ll join me in praying over them and holding me accountable. And as you’ll soon discover, I’m not averse to reusing resolutions.

2012 Resolutions
1. Be the kind of mom who says “yes” more than “no” when it comes to things I’d prefer not to do [not things the kids should not be doing – I’m all about setting boundaries and expectations]
2. Make it to church over 50% of the Sundays in a year.
3. Read one book per month (–/12)
4. Continue my exercise and healthy eating habits; adding at least one new-to-me exercise to my “circuit” [I’m thinking punching bag in the basement]
5. Make a concerted effort to teach my kids the value of money (this might be lost on Jack at the moment); rewarding them for tasks accomplished and helping them start tithing.
6. Go out of my way to do random acts of kindness whenever possible.
7. Go away for a weekend with my husband.
8. Do not take anything more into my life without first getting “rid” of something (physical things, my time, etc…)
9. Make macaroons, crumpets and/or english muffins from scratch.

Source: google.com via Michelle on Pinterest

What do you resolve to do this year?

*I should probably note, that I just remembered I did make one other resolution that I stuck to for a whole year. During our second or third year of marriage, I resolved to not flip Simon the bird more than one time a day – I thought this was rather generous of me. I’m happy to say I stuck to that resolution and happier to say that I don’t really have to give him the middle finger any longer – I’ve moved on to simply the stink eye and sometimes pinching the skin on the back of his upper arm. I’m nice like that.