Friday, May 27, 2011


     We've all heard "When I was a kid..." stories- "When I was a kid, I had to work twenty hour days for a $2.38 paycheck."  "When I was a kid, I walked ten miles to school uphill, in the snow, and I was barefoot."  "When I was a kid, I mowed lawns in 100 degree heat and saved up enough money to buy my first car and house!"  I promise, this is not going to be that kind of story.  My "When I was a kid," story is a chance for you to learn a little about my childhood (and Jim's in the next blog).  It is also a chance for me to share some of the things I loved about childhood and would like our child to experience some day.  So, here goes...

My first grade school photo

When I was a kid, it was all about family...

     I grew up in a small town in Southwest Michigan.  Our town only had one stoplight and the joke was that if you blinked while driving through, you would miss the whole town.  My family (Mom, Dad, younger sister Christy, and younger brother Joe) rented the house next to my grandparents.  My other grandma and many aunts and uncles lived on the same street.  So family was always around.  I have happy memories of going to my Aunt Jan's for Thanksgiving Dinner, my cousins coming over to play on our tire swing, and playing basketball in my grandma's backyard with my uncles. 
     The best part was living next door to my grandma and grandpa!  We only had to run across the yard to get a warm hug or sweet treat!  Plus, my grandparents had a huge garden full of yummy strawberries, blackberries, sweet corn and tomatoes.  One of my favorite memories happened when I was around five or six years old.  There was a huge blizzard and the snow came up to my dad's waist.  It was impossible to go anywhere...or maybe not!  My dad shoveled a path from doorstep to doorstep and carried us one by one to my grandparents house.  Instead of being homebound, we spent a fun evening all together.

When I was a kid, I loved school...

     I carried a book with me just about everywhere.  Although I probably shouldn't admit it, my best friend Alyssa and I would even occasionally take our books out to recess.  Yes, I was a bit of a nerd!  But school was fun for me and I had great teachers.  I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was in first or second grade.
     One of my favorite teachers was my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Long.  He gave us interesting, creative projects like making models of a civil war battle scene and creating marionettes to walk in the Memorial Day parade.  I still remember winning second place in a contest (I don't remember what the contest was) and getting to go on a special trip with him and his daughter to see The Sound of Music.  It was fun to get all dressed up and go out for a nice dinner and play in the "big" city (Kalamazoo).

When I was a kid, I loved to sing (but not talk)...

     As a child I was very shy.  I hated to talk in front of groups and was very quiet in class.  However, I loved to sing!  Put a microphone in my hand and give me a song to sing, and my timidness and fear just melted away.  When I was around eight years old, I even competed in our town talent competition.  There was a room full of people, but I just closed my eyes and sang out loud and clear!  All through my childhood, music played an important role- and I still love to sing to this day:)

When I was a kid, creative play was the best kind of play...

     Not that I didn't appreciate my toys.  I do remember my first Cabbage Patch and Barbie dolls (as well as the beautiful clothes my Mom and Grandma crocheted for them).  I also remember the year Christy, Joe and I got a gaming system for Christmas!  But some of the best play were the games we made up!  We played cops and robbers, detectives, and school.  We built castles in our sandbox, had races between our house and our grandparents, and argued over whose turn it was on the tire swing.   One of the silliest games we made up was "beauty pageant."  On hot, summer days, my sister and I would put on our swimsuits and jump, leap, and twirl through the sprinkler in our yard.  My poor brother had to "judge" who did the best performance and runway walk. 

When I was a kid,...
                prayers, hugs and kisses were a regular part of our bedtime routine.
                I believed I could be anything I wanted to be.
                I could always run to Mom and Dad to feel safe and secure.
                I was loved, nurtured and made to feel special.

     These are the things I want to provide for our child someday.  I want to create great memories with family and friends.  I want to foster a love for learning and creativity.  I want our child to grow up feeling loved and cherished.  I want hugs and kisses to be in abundance.  I want our child to feel safe, secure, and special! 




Saturday, May 14, 2011

Exploring New Territory

On top of the Space Needle overlooking Seattle

     Jim and I love to explore new places.  One of our favorite things to do is to pick a city or state we've never been to and take a trip there together.  Since moving to California four years ago, we have wanted to visit Portland and Seattle.  So this past weekend, we packed up the car, dusted off the atlas, and went on a road trip.  It was awesome!
Above, Amy and our friend Aimee at The Grilled Cheese Grill

Below, Jim and Amy in front of Multnomah Falls

     Our drive through Oregon was beautiful.  Everything was so lush and green.  The mountains offered majestic views and the valleys were dotted with sheep and their newborn lambs grazing the abundant green grass.  There is something exciting and invigorating about not knowing what is just around the next corner.  In Portland, we visited our dear friend Aimee, and she picked out a unique dining experience for us.  We ate at The Grilled Cheese Grille, one of the many food trucks in Portland.  The novelty about this eatery however, was the converted school bus dining room. 
      The next day, we drove along the Columbian River to Multnomah Falls.  I have to 'fess up that my driving directions took us at least twenty miles out of the way and it took us a while to find the falls.  The great thing about exploring new territory is that even the detours can turn out to be happy accidents.  Our detour took us down to the "Bridge of the Gods."  It really did seem we were crossing over into something close to the Garden of Eden.  After a little more driving, we found the falls and enjoyed an afternoon of hiking and discovery. 
Amy on the Harbor Cruise and Jim in front of the Seattle Aquarium          
     Seattle was also great fun!  We bought a CityPass which allowed us to visit several of the biggest attractions the city had to offer.  We took our time taking in all the sounds, sights, and smells the city had to offer.  We went up in the Space Needle (twice) for some spectacular views of the city and harbor.  Our harbor sightseeing cruise not only provided beautiful views, but also a glimpse into the rich history of Seattle.  For example, did you know that one of the famous hotels on the waterfront used to allow fishing out your hotel window?  We also explored the Seattle Aquarium and saw an octopus being fed and two Sea Otters with hmm shall we say, romantic intentions?    Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike's Place Market and the famous fish throwing fishmongers.  Everywhere we turned there was something new to see and experience! 
In front of the river leading into Multnomah Falls

     We really enjoyed our trip!  New memories were created and new bonds were formed.  The trip also reminded us of another territory we are looking forward to exploring-Parenthood.  We can't wait to explore the sights, sounds, and smells (ok most of the smells) that being Mom and Dad will have to offer.  We look forward to little tiny fingers and toes, sweet baby gurglings and cooings, and the fresh smell of our baby after a bath.  We look forward to stroller road trips around our neighborhood, plane trips to see Grandma and Grandpa, and trips to worlds unknown during storytime.  With parenthood, there is always something new to experience. 
     Can't wait to see what God has planned for us, just around the corner:)