Monthly Archives: July 2012

The good stuff: Week of 7.22.2012

Happy Monday, all!

Here’s the “good stuff” from last week:

– We purchased our tickets to the Michigan vs. Northwestern football game in November. Brian is a huge Michigan fan and because I never watched much college football before we met (that’s changed significantly since then), I quickly became a fan as well. For our first wedding anniversary, the traditional gift is paper, so I surprised Brian with tickets to his first Michigan game and we made a pact that it would be our little tradition. This will be our fourth year at the Big House and we’re so excited. Although I am immensely proud to be a Student Prince, the Berg didn’t quite offer the same experience of tailgating and football, so this weekend away is quite the treat. Go Blue!

Emily chose Jef in the season finale of The Bachelorette, who was my second choice, and became first when she, in my opinion, prematurely let Sean go. I normally don’t watch much reality television, but Emily’s story was enough to intrigue me and let’s be honest, summer television leaves something to be desired. Of course I am now sucked into the horrible waste of time that is The Bachelor Pad and I do not encourage you follow my lead.

– Bridget and I spent a day with my Grandparents, Great Aunt, and cousins. It was fun watching Bridget take in the new faces and voices.

Former CDH housemates

– In college, I lived in an on-campus house called a Cooperative Learning Community. It’s essentially a house owned by the college that groups can apply to live in by volunteering in the community. I lived in the Children Deserve Happiness (CDH) house for three of my four years at Heidelberg with some of my very best friends still today. A former housemate was visiting from Texas so we got the gang together for dinner and laughed and reminisced for hours.

– And last but not least, the Olympics kicked off on Friday. The concept of the Olympics is still fascinating to me, and aside from the very strange opening ceremony, we’ve enjoyed watching each event and look forward to the next few weeks. I downloaded the free NBC Olympics London 2012 app for my iPhone and it’s been a handy assistant to navigating the games. It offers news stories, results and schedules, TV listings, medal counts, athlete bios, and more. Go USA!

I’d love to hear about your “good stuff” from last week. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Have a great week!

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Five Minute Friday: Beyond

I recently discovered The Gypsy Mama, and her very cool weekly writer’s flash mob called Five Minute Friday, where people write for five minutes on the same topic and share it on her blog. I figured I would give it a shot. Here are her rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

This week’s topic is “Beyond.” Here goes…

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned this past year about myself, my husband, our marriage, and our sweet baby girl, Bridget. Beyond the pains of labor and delivery were big blue eyes gazing back at me. Beyond the sleepless nights are beautiful smiles. Beyond the long day is a precious yawn. Beyond the endless walking, rocking, and bouncing is a heartbeat against mine and tiny arms wrapped around me. And beyond the fear of the unknown is the true joy of being a mother.

Brian vs. Food

My husband, Brian, is a former high school state-runner up and college wrestler. He’s also the 2012 champion of his company’s Biggest Loser challenge, losing nearly 40 pounds and 11 percent of his body fat in just a few months. He’s no stranger to managing weight loss.

With those credentials, it may be a surprise to hear about Brian’s recent food challenge domination. But those who are familiar with his hefty appetite, know he can certainly consume more food than the average person and quite possibly give Adam from Man vs. Food a run for his television show.

Curious about his true potential for food consumption, a small group of Brian’s co-workers created a food challenge series where each person is assgined an eating challenge and if completed successfully, lunch is on the group.

Brian was chosen to go first. With only one hour for lunch to conduct the challenge and a limited number of dining options nearby, his challenge was to eat three Chipotle burritos (approximately 1.5-2 pounds each).

With room to spare for a side of tortilla chips and guacaomole, Brian finished all three in 14 minutes.

Congratulations, Brian!

The good stuff: Round one

In 2002, Kenny Chesney released his smash hit, The Good Stuff, which topped the charts for seven straight weeks, and is still one of my favorite songs today. Even if you don’t like Kenny or country music, anyone can appreciate this song. Download it or read the lyrics here.

This past weekend, I ventured out of the house alone for the first time since Bridget was born. I was driving down Route 3 when The Good Stuff came on the radio and since I was sans baby, I turned the volume up and sang along. This song gets me every time. It’s such a beautiful message: enjoy the little things in life…they’re the good stuff.

While I appreciate these things as they’re happening, it’s not as easy to remember them as time passes. So, I am going to use our sweet simple life blog to share with you “the good stuff” that makes each week worth remembering (and also for my own benefit to have for reference).

Starting with last week…

  • Bridget is starting to smile beautifully and often, and it’s amazing and contagious.
  • My sister-in-law, Jenny, was a featured success story for Weight Watchers after losing 130 pounds. Go, Jenny!
  • Bridget is sleeping through the night in her own crib. Yay for a good night’s sleep!
  • We celebrated my cousin and oldest friend, Erin’s, upcoming wedding at her bachelorette dinner and shower. I could not be happier that she found her future husband, Tommy. They are the definition of a perfect match and I am honored to be part of their special day in September.
  • Bridget and I spent a weekday visiting with my Mom and Grandparents. Their love for her warms my heart. I will miss days like that when I go back to work.
  • I was able to catch up with old friends, Erin, Ashley, and Tiffany. While we don’t see each other as often as I wish, it’s like no time has passed when we’re back together.
  • Bridget got to meet her many, many cousins (second, third, etc.) at the shower.
  • I tried a new recipe and it was quick, easy, healthy, and delicious.
  • Brian and I made it through our first movie rental in months: Jeff, Who Lives at Home. I gave it 7 stars.

Looking forward to this week!

“A new leash on life”

My mom and I in Alaska (June 2006)

When I graduated college, my mom and I went on an Alaskan cruise. It was an unforgettable experience. Beautiful scenery, interesting culture, and best of all, a week with my mom. Although I will always have those memories, my mom insisted on also buying me my first and would-be-only designer purse as a graduation gift. I, however, had something different in mind. My very own dog; a puggle.

There I was, two weeks after graduation, 21 years old, jobless, and living back at home with an 8-week old puppy named Bella. At the time, I didn’t consider Bella to be a rescue, but shortly after, I learned on the evening news that the “breeder” we purchased her from was arrested for animal cruelty. So sad.

Three years later, my husband, Brian, and I adopted Josie, a beabull (beagle/bulldog). Josie is the mother of our city’s mascot, Parker, and was found wandering the streets of Elyria pregnant. We were interested in adopting one of her puppies, so the city directed us to the local rescue, A New Leash on Life. By the time we called, her puppies had been adopted out to loving homes (yay!) and only Josie remained. Brian was optimistic, but I wasn’t sold on adopting a dog that had just delivered seven puppies. That is until I met her. It was truly love at first sight when we met Josie at her foster parents’ home. She has such a calm, gentle, and immediately loving personality.

Josie, 4 (left), Bella, 6 (right)

Years later, Bella and Josie are still very much a part of our family, although it was an adjustment for them when we brought our daughter home. They were downgraded from our bed to their crates at night, patience with Bella’s barking wore thin, and evening walks took a hiatus for a few weeks. But their love for us never changed.

No matter how bad a day is or how long we’ve been away, they are always happy to see us. Dogs have a knack for being great listeners too, which I’ve taken full advantage of during my maternity leave. Enzo, the dog character in the New York Times bestseller, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, sums this sentiment up perfectly:

“I cannot talk, so I listen very well. I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like being a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street.”

A relationship between a pet and its owner can only be appreciated by fellow pet owners. If you are thinking about expanding your family with a four-legged member, consider adoption. Is there risk with rescuing an animal? Of course. But, if you do your research and take the time to find the right pet, you can end up with your diamond(s) in the rough. We certainly did.

Note: A New Leash on Life is also seeking foster homes, so if you’re not ready for a lifetime committment, consider a temporary one.

The other reasons to love family vacation

As an only child, I always hoped I wouldn’t marry a fellow one. I wished for a brother or sister, nieces, and nephews. Fortunately, I married Brian, the youngest of six children, all of which are married with children of their own. Needless to say, there is no shortage of “siblings,” nieces, and nephews in my life today.

Brian with his brothers and sisters

Each year, my husband’s family enjoys the week of July 4th together on the lake. We’ve been to the beach and the mountains, but finally settled on Crooked Lake in Angola, Indiana. The 7-bedroom, 5-bathroom house is a retreat from real-life.

This annual vacation is the foundation of this family. With seven families around Ohio out to Iowa, it’s one of few times during the year that all 24 of us are together. Here are some of my favorite things about this week:

1. The sound of “Aunt Shannon” is still music to my ears, even after eight years.

2. Food. Lots and lots of food. My mother-in-law is an excellent cook. She makes the best macaroni salad ever, period. And my father-in-law is a grill master. We spend this week eating all day, every day.

3. With 10 kids under the age of 9, there isn’t a boring moment between swimming, building sand castles, riding on Grandpa’s boat, fishing, etc. I am so excited for Bridget to get to experience these with her cousins each year.

My nieces and nephews in 2011 (before the 2012 baby boom)

4. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, to do in Angola, Indiana. This may not appeal to many, but I hold a sense of obligation to experience what cities have to offer when I travel. Since there is nothing to experience, I can count on a relaxing week enjoying family, reading, and consuming delicious food and a few adult beverages…makeup free!

5. I get to spend all day, each day with Brian. In this unfair society of getting only 2-3 weeks of vacation a year, I savor seven full, uninterrupted days with my husband, and now our daughter.

6. No cell phone signal means no Facebook, Pinterest, or email for a full week. Yes!

7. We’ve gone from soaking up the sun all afternoon at the sandbar and staying up late every night playing Kings to arranging days based on naptimes and bedtimes. The dynamic keeps changing which makes each year different.

8. Observing Brian with his brothers and sisters always makes my heart smile. I’ve never known siblings to enjoy each others’ company as much as this family. Whether they’re reminiscing with old stories or playing euchre, the house is full of laughter.

9. The lake house is a quick and easy three-hour drive west. There are no wasted days in the car on this vacation.

10. While the idea of vacationing to a new destination each year is great, there is something to be said about knowing that we’ll be back to do it all over again the next year.

Here’s to family vacations!

Welcome to our sweet simple life

Growing up, I kept a journal. Not a diary; a journal. My journal wasn’t filled with my deepest, darkest secrets or juicy gossip. It was simply an outlet for me to document my thoughts. It was a practice run for eventually fulfilling my lifelong dream to write a novel. As I approach 30, reality has set in. I probably won’t write a novel; at least not one for publication. But, nonetheless I still enjoy writing and have found other methods to exercise this hobby.

Today, I keep a journal for our daughter in the form of letters. In this old-fashioned way, I shared my thoughts and feelings with her during my pregnancy. Now that she’s here, I write to her a few times a week to do the same; share our experience of getting to know her. What she likes, dislikes, and how she’s changed our life, and brings so much joy to it. One day, I’ll share this journal with her in hopes that, along with photo albums and memorabilia of her childhood, she’ll get a glimpse of these years through our eyes.

I also write regularly as part of my job. Emails, memos, documents, etc.

But, I have other thoughts, ideas, and experiences that I’ve found myself wanting to share. Hence, our sweet simple life. This blog will not change your life, home, or style. Pinterest has those covered. It is simply the modern-day version of my journal; now as a wife, mother, daughter, and friend.

I hope you enjoy!