A proud big sister

Category : Siblings

I never thought this day would come.  Not because I had any doubts that it couldn’t be done, but that the idea of college or the word ever fell from his lips until midway through his senior year of highschool.  My little brother (well little only in terms of age these days) graduated from Calvin College on Saturday.  He started highschool in a different place than what most people start this new chapter in their life with.  Our mom passed away within a week of that school year, so there was a lot of adjusting to do.  Despite all that, we maintained a good family bond, extra-curricular activities, vacations and all that life could bring at that time.  All through grade school, Alex liked being more social than academic.  Not to say he was a bad student, but we always thought he would do a trade school or something like that as he loved working with his hands than sit behind a desk.  It wasn’t until he realized that maybe later in life a cushy desk job might be easier on the body than out in the field.  So with his degree, I think he’s found a good mix of the 2!

So began the college visits, financial aid planning, stuff gathering and off he went to Calvin in the fall of 2006.  He’s a done a lot of things over the years from intermural volleyball to 3 weeks in Panama with no contact the whole time meanwhile his 2nd niece was being born a week earlier than we told him when he left.  He shifted his major from engineering to geology and was able to combine the 2 in the end.  He learned a lot about living on his own, making relationships, strengthening others, his likes and dislikes and in the end, came out such a good person.

If you grew up with us, you’d ask if this was the same brother I had then.  The one where I couldn’t stand him being the same room with me, where we tap danced on each others last nerve constantly.  I guess 6 years apart then is a heck of a lot different than 6 years apart now b/c after next semester, I’ll probably cry when he leaves Michigan for good.  He’s been awesome to have around, to help with odd jobs around the house, to create such a bond with the girls and just become an awesome brother that both Gary and I have come to cherish.

So with that said, I’ll stop gooing about him and say that I am proud of you little brother, you’ve done well and when you head back to SoHo at Christmas, we’ll miss you!

He’s right there                           ^

[[ For the rest of the photos, check them out here! ]]

Izzy-ism’s on this her 16th month!

Category : Isabella

Our little cuddle bug who loves smooshy kisses on her chubby cheeks and never shy’s away from a long hug has her shining moments of feet kicking and pinching!  Thursday (the 13th) was Izzy’s 16th month and our first month of not knowing how to parent a single child (Anna and Izzy are 15 months apart, get that whole logic?).  So I thought in celebration I’d come up with a few fun facts and quarks of the little girl we call Squeaky:

-  How did she get the nickname “Squeaky”?:  Since she was born, she’d squeak when she would stretch from a long sleep or when she was deep in sleep or just a noise she made in conversation.  Since Anna had a nickname (we’ll talk about that later) already, Izzy for sure needed one.  So Squeaky was born.  Along with Squeaks and Squeaky McGee.  Just the other day, I said love you Squeaky and she said “sekee”!  I said, yes, that’s your name!  Hehe.  Too cute I tell you.

-  Since she turned 10 months old, this poor girl has only had 2 bottom teeth to chew up chicken.  I couldn’t believe that for months there were signs of teeth (excessive drooling, crabbiness, chewing on things) but no glimmers of white in those gums.  Until this last month, when the newest member of her mouth showed up.  A shiny white “chicklet” of a tooth taking up space on the top middle of her mouth.  I think she may have her mommy’s teeth…. ortho here we come!  She’s not a big fan of us checking her mouth of teeth, but some days she’s proud to grin while I pry her lips up.  So the other day, I checked again and I found 2 more teeth joining the crowd.  But it wasn’t the one next to the front tooth, it was the one next to that.  And beyond that was a molar!  Oh dear….  I hope this girls mouth isn’t doomed for a crazy arrangement of teeth.  I believe the other front tooth and the next one going the other way is coming in too.

-  She’s starting to have conversations with herself and with Anna.  The other morning I let her wake up Anna, like have her go in her room at 6:40am and give her some morning love.  I thought Anna would be ticked, but she actually loved it.  Izzy ran into her room, climbed up on her bed and started hitting (we call it patting so Anna doesn’t get too distraught) her arm and saying “Anna!  Anna!  Anna!”  It was really hilarious.  She proceeded to climb all over her, pull her pipe out of her mouth and they both started giggling and jabber at eachother.

-  This girl loves dirt!  Leave her outside for one minute and she’s plopped down, not on the sidewalk or hunched over the dirt, but sitting right in it.  Digging in with her fingers, wiping it off on my pants and loving every second of it.

-  We call her the insatiable one.  I’ve called her that since the day she was born, really.  It hasn’t changed.  She guzzled down bottles, chowed down baby food, mauwed on crackers and now believes that the instant we start setting the table that dinner is ready to be served to her.  Mind you, she’s already whining and wimpering the instant we get home b/c she’s hungry, so she runs to her chair, throws a little fit and doesn’t stop saying “hunry hunry hunry (hungry)”!  We tell her it’s not time to eat yet, fits and whining continue, we give her a cup of milk to tide her over.  She catches on and continues on her little tirade all that way through cutting up her food and presenting it to her.  She’ll finish Anna’s plate and ask for more.  What a little appetite this one has!

-  Aside from the bottomless pit tantrums, she’s quite compliant.  She loves holding hands at dinner to pray and finishes with an emphatic “Amen!”.  She’ll come to you no problem to put her shoes and coat on in the morning to go to Ms. Michelle’s.  Last night, all she wanted was a baby to go to bed with (I figured this out when all I heard after we laid her down was “baby baby baby”).  So I brought her a baby and was instantly thrilled.  While settling down for the night, she threw out said “baby”.  I saved the day again, when I gave it back to her.  She was sitting up already, she grabbed it, snuggled it in close and laid back down.  Such a sweet little girl.

Those are a few quirky Izzy-ism’s we’ve found to hold near and dear (or as far away as possible?) as this little girls is growing up way too fast!

Happy 16 months Miss Isabella!

I’m an addict

Category : Christie, Running

Ok, maybe “addict” is a strong word but I have a new “want” in my life.  I ran the 5/3 Riverbank Run on Saturday in 40:50 and I want to do better!  Did I just say that I wanted to run another 5k?  Sheesh, what has come over me?  Despite the 40 degrees, the misty on and off rain, the 5:15am wake up call on a Saturday morning, the stupid cold that started the day before, an emotion came over me that I’ve really never experienced before.  I was among thousands of others ready to beat their best time or to say they actually did a 5k in their life, it was a goal I never knew I had in me, that I never thought I’d do in my lifetime.  Maybe it was my weight, that I never thought it was obtainable or the way I talk myself out of pushing myself that much farther?  All I know is that is was amazing to be apart of this, to have my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law cheering me on the whole way, not just on Saturday but way before that.  It truly was a life changing experience for me.

Friday, Alex and Gary picked up our runners packets at DeVos which came with official runners bibs.  It was surreal that one of them was mine!  We all spent the night at our house, taking in a rip roaring game of Settlers and prepping our shoes with our electronic timers.  It was really fun to be together the night before, talking about how excited we all were.  We left the house around 5:50am so we could beat all the road closings and to prepare ourselves mentally for the crazy weather Michigan threw at us that morning.  We gathered with the thousands of others downtown GR, checking in our bags, taking in the excitement and anticipation of the hardcore runners in their “outfits” and the hesistant looks of those who may have been talked into this event.

We starting lining up around 7:15am as our race started at 7:30am.  They were broken into paces from 7 minutes to 12 minutes.  Alex split up from us joining the 8 minute mile pacers while Gary, Sheila and I slowly became enclosed by all the 12 minute mile pacers.  Next to us was a line up of Marines that were sure to whiz by us as we began.  They actually kept a good pace that we followed for a bit while we listened to their chants – just being with them for a few minutes you could hear in their voices how they push past whatever is in their head to keep going in training and out keeping our country safe.  A very cool experience.

The whistle blew at 7:30 and just a few minutes later we were jogging down the road.  Gary said we were in this together, so we would start together and end together and that we did.  The first mile I was doing alright, feeling pretty good, sticking with Gary and Sheila no problem.  Then we started to come to some hilly areas and I started to lose momentum and I eventually told myself I needed to walk a couple minutes.  Not for very long, but I wanted to run the whole thing if I could.  So I picked up the pace again shortly there after and ran a little bit more.  I ran up a hill but at the crest walked a bit again.  Finally Gary told me all we had to do was round the buildings and we’ll be at the finish.  I kept telling myself that I need to finish strong.  When I saw the finish, that was all I needed.  Gary asked if I was ready to run and I said yes.  We started passing a bunch of people, he grabbed my hand so we could finish together.  And we did it!  Gary, Sheila and I crossed within seconds of each other.  Alex caught up with us right away and congratulated us, asking if we heard him screaming us on.  I said no!  I was so in the zone I didn’t hear him.  It was truly an experience I’ll never forget.  For the first time I felt like I was in the same ranks of ability of someone half my size.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m about 30-40 pounds away from my weight loss goal and that is another story for another time.  But for once, I did the same thing as my skinny mini, crazy metabolism little brother did and that felt awesome.  This is only the beginning for me to do more than I ever thought I would and could do and that’s motivation enough to move forward in this new life Gary and I decided to take on.  And for that, I’m ecstatic!

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Enter Sandman

Category : Projects

Remember that song mid to late 1990’s friends?  Anyway, Metallica didn’t come visit nor did finally complete our Guitar Hero collection, but…!  But Anna took full advantage of her carpenter grandpa and requested a sandbox for her birthday.  Ok, she really didn’t but grandma and grandpa came up with the idea and said so in her birthday card in October.  So as promised, G & G Tiemens came up last weekend to build her (and Izzy) a 6′ x 6′ sandbox in the space we’re now making into a little play area for the girls.  I forgot to take play by play pictures of the construction but as you can see the air was filled with happiness and the crushing of Uncle Alex’s sandcastles which both girls delighted in for some weird destructive reason.

Anywho, thank you grandpa, daddy and Uncle Alex in the making and filling of the new sandbox!  This will be a wonderful thing for years to come and hopefully we can leave most of the sand in the box and not in our pants.

I know you want to see my kids….. :)

Category : Anna, Isabella, Photos

I haven’t quite got the hang of Flickr yet to post our batch pictures, I’m looking into other photo storage options but really, Facebook is the easiest, fastest and biggest storage area I know that’s free.  So without further adieu, here are some albums of pictures pre-revamped blog posts:

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

Nothing’s better than being outside (& living near the lakeshore!)

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The little engine that could

Category : Christie, Running

Gary declared earlier in the week that would be doing a family (including the girls and my sister-in-law) 5k run Saturday morning.  I’ll be honest, I tried to find ways to get out of it (too wet, too cold, too busy, etc) but when the morning came you couldn’t really pass up a little cloudy, 65 degree, little breezy Saturday morning for a trial 5k run.  We had Sheila stay the night, the night before as she watched the girls for us.  She was going to run with us but wasn’t feel well that week and didn’t want to chance it, so Gary and I were able to run together.  It was great!  He’s a driving force in my motivation to push myself a little farther and I did!  I only walked for maybe 4-5 minutes at about the 1.5 mile mark and did a last minute sprint at the end of our block to our house.  Let me tell you, I was tired as it was and running faster was a complete out of body experience.  It was an amazing accomplishment for me as I usually find a way to justify quitting long before I did.  It really gives me a big motivation for this weekend’s 5/3 Riverbank Run downtown GR, knowing now that I can do it and I’ll have Gary by my side every step of the way.