Tuesday, August 18, 2009

beach day

Jordan had last Thursday off so we headed to the beach for the first time this year. So it was also Ruby's first beach experience. We had so much fun. We all lounged on the water's edge. The water was perfect and it was a gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot day.

Ruby was a little unsure at first but got used to the water real fast. Ruby is just about 10 months old already which is exciting and sad to me. She is so fun. She says mama, dada, and bah (which sometimes means 'bye'). She crawls so fast all over. And she's still super smiley and very happy. This past week, she became very clingy to me and she always wants me to hold her. Sometimes, it gets old because I already have my hands full but most of the time, I love it. She can sort of give hugs and I just love that she loves me so much :)

Natalie is talking all the time. Everyday she shocks me with some new sentence. She is a little defiant these days, too. She just has such a hot temper when she doesn't get her way or when something goes wrong. She recieves a daily spankin', that's a given. But now she always teases us and says, 'I'll spank your butt'. There was a while there where she was really being naughty all the time but it's definately getting better already.

I could definately use some more beach days but I think it'd be a little too much work for me to go by myself. Hopefully Jordan will have some more days off so we can go :) Check out my beach babes!

I hate to brag but is that not the cutest bikini babe, ever? Look at that pose!!

This is quite the pose, too!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

another little project... :)

Jordan and I have a house project going on (again!) which I will show you pictures of soon... hopefully. Whenever we start one project, our heads get full of a million other little ideas for things we should do. One of them that I've wanted to do for a while now is paint our garage door black. When we refinished our basement, we did the doors black and I absolutely love it. (We just love black as it is). Recently I've seen a couple of bloggers who have also painted their garage doors black and I decided to do it yesterday. So here's the finished product of the door leading into our house from the garage.

I got the idea to put our house number on the door from a fellow blogger doing it. Theirs was neater and I just free-handed this but I'm still happy with the improvement. I also painted the inside of the door and distressed it and I'm happy with how that turned out as well. I've had a lot of energy this week so I've been trying to put that energy to good use with getting lots of odd projects done like touch-ups everywhere. Isn't it a good feeling to just get so many of those annoying projects over with?!
~Update on my dieting.... the week of Chicago, I didn't do the weight watchers thing (probably the reason I didn't update you earlier!) but I did exercise. This week, I'm back on the diet, I feel great, and I've been exercising!! I haven't noticed a change in my shape yet and I've only get 4 more weeks til Vegas so hopefully I will see some results by then. Wish me luck :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

our two day getaway

Jordan ended up getting Thursday and Friday off this past weekend so we set up a trip to Chicago. We love, love, love Chicago! I started looking for a hotel and found one for $98! Woohoo! We are cheap, if you haven't already figured us out! It was the Red Roof Inn on the mile. Three years ago, Jordan and I did a few nights in Chicago and I was pretty certain that this was where we had stayed and we had really liked it the last time. More on the hotel later....

We also decided that we would drive to Michigan City and board the South Shoreline train. We figured that after paying gas to Chicago and parking for 2 days and driving to a museum and parking there, we'd be dropping close to 100 bucks! The train only cost us $31 round trip for both of us! Again, we are cheap!

So when we got in town, we went to our hotel and walking up to it, we thought, "hmm, this doesn't look as nice from the outside as we remember it." And when we got inside, we thought, "hmm, this doesn't look as nice from the inside as we remember it." And when we got into our closet sized room we thought, "hmm, this is not at all how we remember it!" The hotel we stayed at 3 years ago had a nice roof to lounge on with a great view so we thought we'd check it out to see if that had changed. We went to a door that signaled 'stairs' and opened it but it turned out to be stairs for staff and emergencies only. "Hmm... where the heck is the hotel we stayed at last time?" (How's that for making a short story long?!) I guess you get what you pay for and at the end of our stay we decided that we were glad we didn't book a nicer, more expensive hotel since we were only in our room for about 6 hours!! Again, we are so cheap!
Our main reason for going to Chicago was to see the Harry Potter Exhibit. That's right, think what you want, we are major HP fans!! The exhibit was awesome!! There were literally hundreds of different relics from all of the movies. So cool and I highly recommend seeing it while it's still here if you are an HP fan.

Pics of us:

We basically shopped for the remainder of our stay and enjoyed eating out (without the girls). Jordan and I even went clubbin'! We had a little picnic by the water at midnight with wine and doughnut holes (which were stale so we gave them to the homeless men crowded in the church entrance) and we walked around some more after we left 'Howl at the Moon'. Jordan insisted on taking some crazy pictures to show how empty the streets of Chicago are in the middle of the night. I forwarned him that they may show up on the blog.... Here are some of them:

Jordan... acting homeless

Jordan... proving how deserted it is at 3am on a Thursday night in downtown Chicago! (Meet my husband!)

We had such a blast and it was so great to get away! The girls stayed with my sister and she said it couldn't have gone better, which is amazing because usually Natalie and Briella can't go an hour without fighting! By the end of the trip, we realized that it was the Inn of Chicago that we stayed at together 3 years ago... a much better choice than the piece of junk we stayed at (sorry Red Roof Inn!).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

(slap on the knee)...'coffee?'

If you understand the meaning of this post's title, then you know who I'm talking about! ;)

Today (and everyday since she's been gone) we are remembering my grandma, Elma Jane VanderZwaag who died 4 years ago. She is the most amazing woman I will have EVER known. She had a bunch of kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and many friends who loved her so much. And all of us miss her so much still. She had the biggest heart! She was the kind of lady that sent money to any organization that asked for it. I always thought this was funny: she sent some Native American organization money because she didn't have the heart to just throw junk mail away! And she could never turn away the Schwan ice-cream man! She was the most loving, gracious, wise, funny, and godly woman.... I could just go on and on.

Four years ago, grandma had been having pain in her stomach. She had gone to the doctor and he set up a biopsy. I remember her being down-in-the-dumps then already as if she knew something wasn't right. I was at her house and asked if there was anything I could do for her, and she asked if I would vaccuum because she thought there'd be a lot of company in the next few days. At this point, I think she'd already been told that she had cancer. She went in and got the biopsy done and we all prayed for the best. I had told her to call me with the news. She called one night and told me that the cancer was in her liver and the doctors gave her 6 months to live. Everyone was shocked and heartbroken, including grandma. The next morning, I went to grandma's house at around 10 or so and she was still in bed. I sat with her... she looked so depressed and yet so cute in her little pink nighty. She got a phone call and all I heard her say was, 'Oh Edith....' and I could hear Edith crying on the other line. It was so heartwrenching. Throughout the next week, each of grandma's 7 sons took their turn staying with her during the night. She went downhill so fast and got hospice almost immediately. I stayed with my dad one night and in the morning my mom came to relieve us so we could go to work and when she woke us up she told us to listen. The radio had come on and the song 'Softly and Tenderly' was playing. These are some of the words to the song:

"Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling.
Calling for you and for me.
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling.
Calling, oh sinner, come home.
Come home, come home.
Ye who are weary come home."

It was the most beautiful version I had ever heard of that song and I've never been able to find it back. From the time grandma learned of her cancer to the time that she died, her house was full of people ALL the time. I remember I would be coming home from Jordan's house at 11 pm and would swing by to see if anyone was there, and there'd be 10 or 15 cars there yet. And though I've never seen so many of my uncles and grown cousins openly weep, it was still just so PEACEFUL. With grandma, you always felt like you were in the presence of an angel but when she was dying, there was an even stronger Presence in that house.

The Thursday before she died, my sister and I said our goodbyes to grandma. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but one of the most rewarding, too. I'm so thankful that I got to tell grandma how I felt about her. I said something to her about seeing my grandpa again (after 7 years) and she smiled and said, 'imagine that'. That night, Jordan and I went to see her and he hugged her and told her that he was going to marry me and take good care of me and she nodded. (When we got home, Jordan proposed.)

The next day, my cousin got married and they stopped by after the reception. Grandma was so sad to have missed it. At one point during this time, we thought that grandma was dying on Saturday afternoon. All the kids and grandkids rushed to her house and we surrounded her, holding hands and singing to her. My uncle read scripture and she would try to smile at times, but she was mostly relaxed and peaceful. She continued to hold onto life.

There was also another great-grandkid born in this time and the day before grandma died, she got to hold him. She had been so weak and her mouth (and everything for that matter) was starting to shut-down and deform. But she smiled when she held the baby. The next morning, when each of her sons had gotten their chance to take care of her through the night, she died. It's almost as if she had held on to her will to live so that she didn't miss seeing Jenny in her wedding dress or holding little Josiah.

The funeral was memorable and my uncle Bob had a really great eulogy (I think that's what they call it?). At the end of the funeral, all of the grandkids were ushered out and while everyone was still seated, we each took a turn ringing the church bells for the number of years she was alive. That was incredible for some reason. When each of us was done ringing it, my cousin Mike (the oldest) rang for the remainder of her years and that was so sweet. While the grandkids were surrounding the bell rope, the spouses were just outside the church doors and I have this permanent imagine in my head of them scattered and disarrayed but all staring up at the bell reverently. And when we followed in a line to the cemetary, we passed Bill's house and he stood from his lawn chair, that's always sitting in the garage for him to watch traffic, and he saluted. At the cemetary, we sang 'Abide With Me' which was sweet and perfect.

My grandma was so proud of her family and after going through this time with them all, I am proud too. She was a great woman and was as close to perfect as you can get. I will always aspire to be just like her.

Grandma - we love you still and miss you. I think of you often when I think of the countless hours we spent playing Upwords, your amazing and legendary chocolate-chip cookies, paddle-pops, your special lemonade, daffodils, the way you would laugh (and often your laugh was accompanied by a big slap on the knee), your love for animals (and how they always got really fat- probably from eating buttered bread!), and (this is just stupid) there's a certain type of lipstick I have that smells just like grandma's lipstick that she used to put on us when we were little! I cannot wait to see your big smile again and hear your boisterous laugh and, if you still have those dentures, you know I'm going to ask you to do your special in-and-out-really-fast-flash of them!! I'll see you soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

elston wedding

Last night, we had our last wedding of the year to go to: Nate and Vanessa's. It was an outdoor wedding and reception and Vanessa did a beautiful job with it all. We had a great time. Natalie was the flower girl so I'll be posting a lot of pictures of her in all her glory! We got to the wedding site and got Natalie ready. I put on her white dress and her shoes and wouldn't ya know, lil'-ol'-sentimental-me got a wee bit emotional thinking that 20 or so years from now, I'll probably be helping Natalie get dressed for her own wedding (hopefully she won't still be in diapers!) We practiced walking down the aisle many times before the ceremony and she did ok except for she didn't really want to acknowledge the ringbearer. We tried to get some pictures of Natalie with the bride and groom but she didn't want anything to do with that either. She was really shy with everything at first but she warmed up a lot as the night went on. All in all, she did really well. When it came time for her to walk down the aisle for the real thing, I let go of her and Grant's hands at the beginning of the aisle and she sat down and started to get mad. And I definately didn't want her to throw one of her fits, so I walked down with her. I really was hoping that it wouldn't come to that but it was such a relaxed ceremony that it wasn't a big deal. Natalie did awesome with being quiet during the ceremony (big sigh of relief there!) So here are some pictures of the night.

...warming up to each other over a bag of chips.

I liked how this picture of Jordan turned out with the sunrays shining down on him. It reminds me of the first time I ever saw him and I heard angelic voices sweetly singing, 'ahhhhh' ....just kidding :)

You can just feel the love that Nate and Vanessa have for each other when you are around them. They have been together for 8 years already! I'm sure that they will have a fun and adventurous marriage together and we pray that God will give them many years together. Congrats, you two!