Thursday, January 31, 2013

cute cute cute

Well, but if that doesn't just put me in the mood for February...



And the world gave a collective sigh of relief that we made it through January and its short cold days, miserable flus and viruses and post-holiday blues all in one piece. On to short little February in all its pink and red glory, please!

Olive is obsessed with jigsaw puzzles. We bought her a set of four 25 piece puzzles months ago which she mastered within a week. So a couple of weeks ago we bought her a 50 piece puzzle, to see if she would have the patience to work through it. I sat and watched her as she put it together in a matter of 20-30 minutes. She would not allow me to help her in any way.
Last week we bought her a 100 piece puzzle, "for six year olds and up." It took her just under 2 hours to complete it (and that was a straight 2 hours of undivided concentration, yelling at me anytime I offered to help her out with a difficult piece.) She has done that 100 piece puzzle twice a day every day since we got it for her and can now put it together in about 10 - 15 minutes. 

She's only three years old, for goodness' sakes.

I know there are lots of other three year olds out there who do things like this and more, but I never thought I would be raising one. How do you raise a kid who is smarter than you already (and knows it?) As I've stood back and watched Olive concentrating with all her might and succeed with a puzzle that she shouldn't be ready to do for another three years, I've started wondering if a lot of the behavior problems I struggle with in her are due to boredom. So I've started trying to give her more than I think a 3 year old can handle to see how she deals with it. 

And I think I'm on the right track so far. We've started reading "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and even though it's very wordy and there are very few illustrations, she just soaks it up like a sponge, begging for "just one more chapter." We're working on reading and writing and she's doing exceptionally well. I'm seriously considering signing her up for piano or violin lessons. 

I just ordered her a couple of 200 piece puzzles. 

And I pray. A lot. That God would give me the patience, wisdom, discretion, love and humility that I so desperately need to raise Olive up, to (hopefully) love Him and others. I go to bed so many nights worried that I don't have what it takes, but He has a way of quietly reassuring me that He knew just what He was doing giving us to Olive and Olive to us. And I really do believe Him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Today was dark. Even with all the lights on and curtains pushed aside, it was gloomy. We dropped from balmy 50-60*F temps back down to 30*F and as I sit here, snow has started coming down. 

We are officially Michigan residents now. We spent the morning at the DMV getting licenses, a new license plate, new voters registrations, etc. It's been just over a month since we've been up here now, and while I do get homesick often for my friends and family, I have fallen in love with this area. Now if only we could find a church to settle into. I don't think MI will ever truly feel like "home" until we find a new church family and start building relationships.

Fo realz, baby.

P.S: Have you heard of the Vine app yet? It's fun!
P.S.S: How about Archetype Me? Another fun, winter day time waster.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 [Otherworldly]

Today was extremely weird. It started with a very noisy thunderstorm at 3:30 AM. Then the temperature warmed up to 60*F. And then Matt was able to take an afternoon break so we could drive up to the lake while the weather was so mild. When we got to the lake, it felt like we had arrived on a different planet (or possibly in Twin Peaks.) Fog so thick, you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you. On the beach you couldn't even see the lake, but you could hear it, sloshing icily upon icy rocks. The whole shoreline was frozen. I've never seen anything so strange in my life. Out on the pier, you could see all sizes of chunks of ice bobbing in slow motion with the waves. I could go on and on. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

28 / 365 - {things i've learned in the first 28 days}

This is all I could come up with today. It's a lame photo, but I've been feeling really uninspired the last few days.

But you know, it's ok. In a 365 project, there will always be days (sometimes weeks) of total lack of inspiration and motivation. I've learned (after failing to see through projects I've started like this in the past) that you just have to accept that some days you will have boring, badly composed, "blah" pictures, and that you have to just post them and move on.

So instead of talking about the blahness of my photo today, I'm going to talk about some things I've learned these first few weeks of 2013 about successfully engaging in this type of photography project:

*Disclaimer* I am a total amateur and these are just my personal thoughts and opinions!

1. Make yourself take pictures EVERY day. A pattern I've fallen into in the past, while attempting this kind of project, has been taking lots of photos on a good day, and using the back ups on days when I haven't had time to take a picture, or don't feel like anything I've taken is "share worthy." Doing this just starts the ball rolling towards quitting. This year I've intentionally taken a picture every day. Even if it's at 11:56pm at night, and is just a lousy picture of hot chocolate. Of course you have to just accept that there will be days when you're sick, or the weather is bad, or you're going through some sort of crisis and those days might produce "blah" photos, but the best thing to keep your motivation up is to keep with it even on days where you're not feeling it.

2. Take your camera EVERYWHERE. This one is still hard for me. Because my dslr is so huge, and I don't own a camera bag, I feel conspicuous carrying my camera into Target or the coffee shop. I also get embarrassed and afraid that strangers are going to think I'm weird for having a "photo shoot" in a public place. (I hate confrontation, even if it's the friendly "whatcha doin'?" kind.) I basically need to just get over it because anywhere you go outside of the confines of your home will provide tons of inspiration for photos.

3. The world looks different from a kid's height. I am constantly trying to find new angles and directions in which to photograph my subject. When I'm photographing my kids or their things, I try to get down at their level, instead of shooting from above them. It's amazing what a new perspective can do for the interest factor in a photo.

4. Even if it totally intimidates you, start shooting in manual mode. I've had my dslr since 2008 and I'm only just starting to feel comfortable shooting in manual, (and I feel weird even saying "comfortable" because there is still SO much I do not understand about my camera!) But for me, that's the great benefit of a 365 project - daily experimentation with the manual settings in various locations, lighting situations, etc. over a long period of time lead to a much more intuitive relationship with your camera. And the more control I have over all the individual settings, the happier I am with my photographs.

5. Lighten up in Photoshop. I love love love editing, but looking at past photos I realize I have a tendency to edit my pictures to death. I'm now aiming to focus on shooting photos that can stand alone with little, if any post processing, and when I do edit I try not to let the edits overpower the original photograph.


Sunday was so boring, that all I managed to take a picture of was what I cooked for dinner. (It was pretty epic.) 
Can January just be over yet?
I'm in a major "uninspired" rut.
Somebody send some inspiration my way!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


We made a spice cake tonight. This is a big deal, because I never bake just for us anymore.

But sometimes you just need SOME CAKE, dang it!

It doesn't help that Olive is constantly begging to bake or cook. She loves helping in the kitchen.
Hope your weekend is warm and cheery (and maybe even included a little cake!) 

Friday, January 25, 2013

25 [Bad Composition]

This would have been so much better had I not "cut off their feet." Grrr...

More examples of bad composition:  

^ ^ ^ Another case of missing feet. ^ ^ ^

^ ^ ^ Horrible angle. At lease my polish is intact and not chipping. ^ ^ ^

^ ^ ^ Black spot in bottom right hand corner. Also, forgot to wipe drool before taking picture. ^ ^ ^

Ugh, I was obviously having an off day. Live and learn.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


We got dumped on this week. Snow will always get me excited, I really love it.

Praying for good health and warmer temps so we can sled this weekend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Snow, snow, snow. O "helped" me shovel out our driveway (and sidewalk, and mailbox. Whew.) I have to admit, I am a fan of winter. I love the feeling of coming into a warm house after working or playing in the snow, legs and fingers tingling with pins and needles, and warming up with a good cup of coffee. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

21 [With a Windchill of -15.]

These are my people. I like them a lot. 

So it's definitely feeling like winter finally in MI. We got a taste of what lake effect snow is like while driving (um, visibility of 0. Scary.) And the temperature got up to an impressive 9*F today. The radio said the windchill temperature was something like -15* and after running some errands in Grand Rapids today, I believe it.

We ate out too much a lot this weekend (hey, MLK Jr. day only comes once a year, you know?!) Tonight we tried out 84 East which had an impressively varied and extensive gluten free menu (hamburgers WITH buns, chicken alfredo, pasta carbonara and pizza are things a gluten-free person rarely gets to eat in a restaurant.) I tried the carbonara (which I'm sure got its name for the disgusting amount of carbs it contains) and it was amazing (though I could only eat about a quarter of my plate. I'm not used to that kind of food!) 

We feel extremely lucky that Matt was able to have this 3 day weekend and we enjoyed it tremendously, despite some sniffles and the frigid weather. We are really starting to feel more settled here in Holland and are enjoying all our little adventures.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Wind chill today of -3*F. And some snow! Now that's more like it, MI! The cold windy weather here is starting to take some toll on my skin. Dry elbows, cracked lips... And my kids are always running off with my Blistex. Hmph.

This scarf is my new love in life. It's like wearing an afghan, it's so heavy and thick. It's making winter a little more fun (& cute.) 

Good coffee, pretty mugs, 1,000 piece puzzles and mysteries via Netflix (we've started "Wallander") also make cold winter days bearable. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


This is JP's. It's kind of become "our" new coffee place. It's an espresso bar/barista school.

We had breakfast downtown this morning and took a short, brisk walk. Here are some
snapshots around downtown Holland..

And now, "Some things I love [so far] about Holland"...

1. Free parking downtown. Everywhere. I kid you not! It is awesome!

2. Gluten free options galore. This morning we had gluten free blueberry pancakes here!

3. Coffee shops on every corner!

4. Heated streets and sidewalks downtown in the winter!

5. Playgrounds in every neighborhood downtown!

6. Lower state taxes and no car inspections! 

I kind of love it here.