Wednesday, October 29, 2014

autumn splendor

no doubt about it, there is nothing quite like autumn in michigan.  when the temperature finally cools down enough to change the trees from summer green to bright yellows, oranges and reds, bursting with color and catching the sunlight, it is nothing short of awesomely beautiful.  but you have to catch it when you see it, because in a matter of one week, temperatures may dip well below freezing and then the color is just gone.  instead of a rainbow of colors, you just see browns.

i'm so happy to have caught these through my lens.  what's more is that through a photograph, i can also stir up in my memory the warmth when standing in the sun, but coolness of the shadows; the crunch of the leaves underfoot; the laughter of the girls running through and tossing up the leaves.  behold the splendor of autumn.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

sunday funday

the girls and i were solo on sunday while michael helped his brother with some home improvement projects.  after a run with my neighbor, breakfast and baths, just us girls headed to the grocery store.  trust me when i say that it's not ideal to take 2 kids to the grocery store, especially because neither one cares to ride in the cart anymore, but i always try to look at the positives...they're great helpers (when they're not whining for a box of sugary cereal), i'm teaching them how to be self-sufficient and healthy and succeed in society, particularly when i let them swipe my credit card and sign my name, and they're great conversationalists and conversation starters with several other store customers.  i truly don't mind it in the least.  sure, it's not as quick, but it's definitely more meaningful quality time with my ladies.

but i digress...afterwards, because it was such a beautiful fall day, we walked around our little downtown, checking out all the scarecrow contest entries and enjoying a hot chocolate treat in the local coffee shop.  and of course, being as i'm week 1 into my photography class, i had to practice, practice, practice, and what better subjects do i have?  

this one is pure happy, except when she's not.  most of the time, she has a smile on her face, her poppy blanket nearby, and she's wearing a dress or a skirt or something else fancy and twirly.  all of the time, her curly-q hair that she gets from her daddy is never held back in a ponytail or even behind her ears.  she can't be restricted.  she displays that independence and confidence in so many ways, but still reminds us of her little being that needs guidance, and a whole lot of love and reassurance.  gladly.

this face slays me.  she has grown into her own, slowly and surely.  she wears what she wants to wear.    she tells me how to style her hair.  ironically, however, she refused to sit in the driving car cart at the grocery store and didn't want crosby to sit in it either.  (you know the one- the huge cart that has very little cart space, but your little is happy because she's "driving a car" around the store?) a few minutes into the store, she pointed out that people were looking at us and at crosby, and explained that the reason she didn't want us to get the car cart was because people would stare and it was embarrassing.  it ached a little bit in my heart knowing that she's aware of this already and it bothers her.  i stopped shopping, got down to her level, and lovingly explained that it didn't matter that people were looking; what mattered was that we were happy with our choice.  she seemed to take that well and we continued on without another word about it.  harper is also reading like a champ.  and these glasses have made a prominent position on her bookshelf to always be at the ready.  we never tell her she can't, because what good would that do.  we love and support and encourage.  that's our job.  she doesn't make our job too difficult.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

caught red-handed

we joined friends on friday night for a first birthday family costume party.  super fun.  because harper hasn't been into dressing up for halloween much the past couple years, it took us a good long car ride to solidify a family costume.  sofia the first's family was out for sure (no princesses for harper).  despicable me...nah.  superheroes.  milk and cookies.  a rainbow.  peppa pig and family.  we covered it all and finally got it with robbers.  not cops and robbers.  nope, we were all gonna be bad.

super easy.  so fun.  kids loved their loot bags (free drawstring bags from each toms shoes purchase, turned inside out- thank you toms.)  i made the masks with felt and nana sewed the ribbon on (nope, i can't sew.)  purchased some black and white striped tops for the girls, beanie hats for all of us and found black pants and dark shoes in our closets.  watch out.  we're comin' for ya.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


i have been into photography since 2009.  michael bought me a new "fancy" camera for my birthday and i immediately thought i was a photographer, although i had it set on auto, which i later learned was basically having a really pricey disposable.  i took a basic photography class at a local community college to get started and learned a ton.  i then joined a mom's photography site, clickin' moms, in early 2010, but at that point i didn't have the time i wanted to dedicate to reading through everything on that site.  it was amazing having all those resources, but it also overwhelmed me.  i knew i didn't want a photography business, so it was too much.  i let my membership lapse, until this year, when i told michael all i wanted for my birthday was to take an online class through clickin' moms, in order to master my knowledge of using my camera in manual mode.

week 1 started monday, and i'm loving it!  i wish i would have done this sooner.  there are more classes on my wish list.

here are my 2 favorites from this week, so far, without editing.  the best thing about this class is we are learning to get the best shot sooc (straight out of camera).  more photos to come, i am certain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


i've never considered myself a runner.

yes, i've been running all my life.  on and off.  here and there.  soccer and basketball and softball practices of my childhood and teen years.  days long ago when my sister would be home from college on a break and she'd ask if i wanted to go for a run with her.  days when i'd latch key myself in the house and take the dog for a quick jog around the neighborhood.  i ran on the treadmill my last 2 years of high school, for health and beauty reasons mostly.  i ran my heart out in powderpuff football practices my senior year.  i ran around campus at michigan state, with friends and without, sometimes because i was late to class.

it wasn't until after harper was born that i wanted to run a race.  michael and i signed up for our first 5k, the detroit thanksgiving turkey trot, in 2009.  we trained for it, pushing harper in the jogger most times, but we left her with nana and papa for the actual race.  we ran it with michael's siblings, and it was tough.  i didn't think i could finish.  michael and i held hands as we crossed that finish line, so proud of that accomplishment after all of our hard work.  we signed up here and there for a few more 5ks after that, but nothing hard core.  michael ran a 10k in 2010.  i swore that was too much for me.

fast forward to my cancer diagnosis and my 18 days solo at my parent's house during my radiation.  i was itching to move, but couldn't go anywhere or be around people and it was extremely frigid outside (especially for a girl with no thyroid).  so one day, i hopped on their treadmill and ran.  it felt great.  so i did it again the next day.  and the next.  and it was there on that treadmill that i made the commitment to run a half-marathon.  i called michael post-run and told him.  he has always had the desire to run a half, so he was on board.  but he told me i should sign up before i changed my mind.  he knows me so well.  he also thought it might be a good idea if we made our run a fundraiser for the julian boivin courage for cures foundation, a foundation that began after friend's of ours lost their 5-year-old little boy to a brain tumor in 2011.  i liked his idea.

i signed us up in march, and we prepared ourselves to start training in june.  june came and i logged my first 2 mile run.  i won't lie, i struggled.  but i knew it was only 2 and i had to keep going because in just a few short months, i would be logging double digit miles at a time.  but june came and went and i couldn't get past 3 miles.  i posted on facebook asking for suggestions.  i made use of so many of them, and finally got to 4 miles on the fourth of july.  after that, it quickly went from 4 to 5 to 6 to 7 to 8 and 8 again.  we participated in a local 10k event, just so i could say that i did a 10k before jumping from a 5k to a half.

but then it stopped.  it was mid-august, i was nearing the end of summer break, and my heart just wasn't in it.  i ran a few short runs, but it was a month before i finally got around to a long run again.  i skipped the 9 mile run all together and just went straight for 10 to get back on our training pace.  10 went to 11 then 11 again and then 12.  and then it was 2 weeks pre-race.  we started our taper, a few moderate runs throughout the week and only one more 6 mile run before the big day.

we left the girls with nana and papa for an overnight and drove to grand rapids, directly to the expo to pick up our bibs.  we checked into the hotel, grabbed a pasta dinner with michael's brother, jeff, and his wife, megan.  (jeff was running his first full marathon the next day)  then we headed back for some good sleep.  i was ready.  i wasn't nervous at all.  i pictured myself crossing that finish line with 13.1 miles behind me.  i felt strong.

it.  was.  amazing.

it did not disappoint.  the trees changing colors.  the crisp, cool weather.  the energy of the crowd.  the motivation of fellow runners.  knowing the amount of money we raised for julian's foundation.  knowing that i wasn't only running for julian, but also for my sister, and all the life-changing events she has been through and the weight she has had to carry the last 6 months.

(heboo- you were with me in my thoughts every step of that race.  i love you more than you know.)

my goal was to finish in 2 hours, 30 minutes.  i crossed the line at 2:26:21.  i beat my time.  i accomplished something i never thought i could do.  and now i'm itching to sign up for my next one.  i've officially caught that runner's high.

i found a quote by nike founder bill bowerman that resonated with me...the real purpose of running isn't to win a race; it's to test the limits of the human heart.  this entire process sure did test every limit i could imagine.  i logged a total of 200 miles from june through race day, averaging 3-5 runs per week.  we raised over $2500 from family, friends, co-workers who wanted to show their support for us by supporting pediatric cancer research.  i taught one donation cycling class and participated in one hot vinyasa yoga class, both at which all participant proceeds went to the foundation.  i tripped on an uneven sidewalk crack right around mile 10 that could have ended in catastrophe, but instead i caught myself, steadied myself, and kept right on going, right to the handful of gummy bears waiting for me at the next aid station.  i sweat a whole hell of a lot.  i cried, during runs and afterwards.  my body ached and resisted more runs.  my knees started talking back to me more often.  i twisted and sprained my ankle near the beginning of my training.  my alarm clock jolted me out of deep sleep at 4:40 am for 5 am pitch black runs with my neighbor, sara, more often than i care to remember and it took everything i had to pull myself out of those warm covers.

but i did not lose any toenails in the process.  i did not quit.  and i did a whole lot of smiling.

don't compare yourself to others.  compare yourself to the person from yesterday.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


for the past several years, we've been visiting greenfield village for their hallowe'en event.  tons of pumpkins, several stops for treats, a little bit of scary.  the girls (and their mom and dad) enjoy it.  this year, ethan and griffin joined, too.  we got the earliest time slot, which made it a little less scary at first.  we love this night.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014


last year on my birthday, i took this selfie and wrote these words...

34.  no regrets.  only happy.  just love.  it's going to be awesome.

as i sit here and think, it amazes me what has happened in this last year.  i wrote that it was going to be awesome.  and there definitely were some awesome moments, but then there definitely were some not-so-awesome ones, too.  quite a few actually.  cancer struck my family twice, which in itself is enough for the not-so-awesome moments.  i won't relive any more. 

i wrote that there would be no regrets, things would only be happy, there would be just love.  i started out my birthday with positive intentions for my next trip around the sun, which was a good way to set the year, i think.  but no one can guarantee that life won't have some regrets, some sadness, some hate.  no one can promise that every day will be happy and good.  but one can make sure that you find the happy and good in some measly part of the sucky days.  i've made that my mission.  to find the good and beautiful and something to be thankful for in each and every day.  to have no regrets for living the life we're given.  to fill all our days with love of some kind.  some days it's a struggle, and there are days that go by and i forget amongst the craziness of life with 2 young kids.  but overall, i think we're doing pretty well.

what i've learned over this past year is that i am so grateful for where i am.  for what i've learned.  for who i've become.  and that i've been gifted another birthday to celebrate and be thankful.

here's to 35.  no regrets.  only happy.  just love.

and it's going to be awesome.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


the past several weekends this fall have been nothing short of perfection.  autumn is my absolute favorite time of year.  it's my birthday season.  the weather cools off.  you can almost smell the freshly sharpened #2s walking past the neighborhood elementary school.  and then there are the symbols of fall- leaves, pumpkins, halloween, corn mazes.  i took the girls to a corn maze several years ago, crosby was just an infant actually, with a friend and her kids.  this year, we ventured as a family on a sunday afternoon, finding this place through a groupon purchase.  it took close to an hour, and we had so.  much.  fun.

we kind of though we got lost at several points, which made it even better.  cell phones couldn't be used and we had a map, which honestly, was way confusing.  daddy thought it would be funny to mark places we had been by leaving some corn piles in the middle of the path.  crosby thought it was hilarious to follow behind and destroy them.

the girls loved to break off corn kernels and scatter them on the ground, to mark our way and also for the animals to eat.  what animals, i'm not quite certain.  but we weren't staying late enough to find out.

at some point right smack dab in the middle of the corn field, farthest away from the exit, crosby had to go potty.  she's been potty trained since july, so she didn't have a "back up" to just go in.  next best thing in nature is to take a nature.  even in a public corn field.  thankfully, no one saw us.  she made it quick.

we had lots of laughs, a few silly scares from harper hiding in the tall corn and popping out as we walked by, "unaware" that she was there, and a perfect sunday afternoon.

(daddy stood behind me and threw corn kernels to get the girls to laugh.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

my little artist

back in the spring, a congratulatory letter was sent home in harper's backpack stating that she was a winner in an art contest for our local town.  we were surprised by this, because we didn't even know she was entered!  apparently, her art teacher entered pieces on behalf of her students and harper's was one of 75 chosen in all of the district!  this meant that her art piece would be transferred to a banner and hung up in our local downtown for all to see.  we found it in the spring, but i kept putting off getting out of the car to catch a photo.  when i finally did remember to do this, the banners were taken down.  i was so upset at myself!  i e-mailed the town hall and they assured me that the banners would be put back up at the start of the school year.  so, once i saw them up again, i immediately made a time to grab my camera, park my car and snap my girl with her artwork.  she's our local celebrity and she's so proud.  and we are so proud of her.  we love to see her creativity blossom.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

apples & pumpkins & donuts, oh my!

today, we ventured out to do one of my most favorite fall picking.  we visit a local apple orchard minutes from our house that also hosts a large pumpkin patch and the best donuts ever.  like seriously, ever.  i'm known to eat 2 or 3 before we even get them home.

today was chilly and overcast, but still so fun.  searching out the perfect apples to fill our bag.  climbing trees to get the better ones.  tasting each variety.  running through the trees and the pumpkins.  laughing and being together.  filling our heads and hearts with happy memories.

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it's only the beginning of my favorite season.  i can't wait for all there is to come.

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