Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Away

Hooray for a get-away!
Josh and I are headed to Detroit to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary this weekend...
we'll be cheering for our hometown heroes tonight in

Go Red Wings!

Tomorrow we're going to visit Ikea and I may not ever come home!!
I am so excited to finally get to visit this amazing store...
and Josh is not so excited to see the bill (wink*).  

Blake is headed to Grandma & Papa's house....thanks Mom and Dad!

I'll be back at it next week, with an exciting giveaway for you guys...seriously can't wait to share it with you.
Have a fabulous weekend friends!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Do you ever find yourself  looking back at life and wondering if things turned out 
just the way they were supposed to...
or if the choices you made interrupted the perfect plan that could have been?

No? Oh, okay...I'll shut up now.
Can I be honest?
I think about this alot at times.

I look back at different times in my life and I think to myself
why did that situation turn out the way it did?
Was it my own doing? My choices?
 Did God allow certain things to take place in my life 
to ultimately bring Himself glory?
 Maybe it's both...
Maybe God allowed things into my life, knowing full well what my response would be,
so that in the end the story of his grace, forgiveness, and faithfulness
would make His glory shine.

I guess I start to struggle with guilt when I think about it too long.
And I have to remember that
God is faithful even when his children are not. 
(Max Lucado)

 It's easy to look back and see all the things we would have done differently were we given the opportunity.
It's easy to feel like we don't quite measure up because of  where we've been.
I remember sitting in a college Sunday school class one day where everyone voiced where they thought they'd be in 5 years. I said something along the lines of wanting to be married with a family...I said regardless of what happened in those 5 years, I wanted to be faithful. 

I failed miserably. 

I battled some of the darkest days of my life during those years.
I ran hard and fast from what I felt God asking me to do,
and I still wonder to this day what the outcome would have been
had I simply obeyed.

But I didn't and I can't go back now.
And I guess what I've come to realize is that no matter how far down the wrong road you go,
you can always turn around. 
You'll still have to travel the long road back home...
that's just the natural consequence of choosing our own way,
but you won't walk that road alone.

Shortly before the major turning point I had during those hard years, my sister Katie called me up out of the blue and said that the Lord just kept putting me on her heart that day.
I told her how I was struggling and that I was tired.
I was tired of running.
Not long after that conversation she sent me an email with a story she'd heard...
It's stuck with me ever since.

A shepherd has the important job of protecting his sheep from danger. He must always keep his eye on them, making certain that they don't wander off.  The safest place for a sheep to stay is at the shepherd's side. 
Mature sheep obviously have learned this, or they wouldn't have survived. 
When a lamb insists on wandering away and absolutely refuses to stay where it is safe, the shepherd must resort to a drastic measure in order to preserve the sheep's life. 
He breaks one of it's legs. 
This seems so cruel!! But it is the only way that a lamb will learn. The shepherd binds up the leg so that it will heal, then carries that lamb on his shoulders as the flock moves from place to place. 
Eventually the broken leg heals and the lamb is free to go where it pleases.  But by this time the sheep has become close to the shepherd and no longer wants to wander off. 
That lamb keeps his eyes on his shepherd all the time. 
The things that used to tempt him to run, are no longer appealing. 
He knows the hurt.
He'd much rather stay close to his shepherd. 
I was reminded this week of who my shepherd is.
It's Jesus.
He knows my heart, my fears, my failures, my regrets, my hurts, my joys, my desires.
When I struggle with big questions,
he gives big answers.
When I struggle with great weakness,
he reveals his great power.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul...


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Anniversary Card From My Husband

So there's this guy. 
Meets a girl.
(Great girl. Really great girl.)
Somehow wins her over and convinces her 
to marry him. 

One of the happiest of his life.

But the BEST thing is-
the happy days keep coming. 
Week after week.
Year after year. 

And even when life isn't perfect and wonderful, 
somehow she makes it better. 
Just by being herself.
Just by loving him like she does. 

And one day, it hits him. 
That whole happily-ever-after thing?
Maybe it's not just for fairy tales.
Maybe it does happen-
even to average guys like him. 

He may not own a white horse, 
but he got the girl. 
The BEST girl. 
And somewhere out there,
there's a sunset with their name on it. 

I love our story and I love you. 

Yes. I teared up as I was reading his card. 
Yes. He's more than I deserve. 
Yes. He's my best friend. 
Yes. I love him more now than I did the day I married him.
I do. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cheddar Ham Chowder Recipe

What could be better on these brisk autumn days than a hot bowl of homemade soup?
Having a big chunk of bread to dip in it!
This is another family recipe, and one that I make almost once a week alot

Here's what you'll need: 

Here's what you do....
Chop your veggies. 
In a large saucepan bring water, potato, carrots, green onion, salt and pepper to boil. 
Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until veggies are tender.
Remove from heat, and do not drain.

While your veggies are simmering, start on the Bechamel sauce. 
This can be done on the stove top, but I find it easier to use my glass batter bowl and make it in the microwave. 
Step 1:  Melt butter in microwave-safe bowl.
Step 2: Whisk in flour and microwave for 10-15 seconds until creamy looking.
Step 3: Add milk and whisk. Microwave covered on high for 3-4 minutes, then whisk. 
Continue cooking until sauce has that your sauce does not overflow as it thickens!!
Step 4: Stir in shredded cheese until melted. 

Once your sauce is ready and your veggies are tender, stir the cheese sauce into the undrained veggies and return to burner. 

Stir in the canned corn and cubed ham. 
At this point, I like to transfer my soup into a crockpot on low to keep hot until we're ready to eat. 
It works great for cooking ahead nights!
If you're going to eat right away, simply heat the soup through on low heat.
Be sure to stir it occasionally to avoid scorching!

Seriously delicious! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fifty About Me

1. What time did you get up this morning? 9 am

2. How do you like your steak? medium-well

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema: Courageous...loved it!

4. What is your favorite TV show? NCIS

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? right here

6. What did you have for breakfast? a banana

7. What is your favorite food? homemade bread and soups, pizza, bagels...carbs basically

8. Foods you dislike? lentils, eggplant, not a whole lot!

9. Favorite place to eat? Qdoba, Red Robin, and Olive Garden

10. Favorite dressing? ranch

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? an Oldsmobile Alero

12. What are your favorite clothes? boots and sweaters

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Ireland

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? usually half full

15. Where would you want to retire? i don't know if i want to!

16. Favorite time of day? i'm a night owl, but love spending days with Blake and evenings with Josh

17. Where were you born? Grand Rapids

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? hockey or football

19. What is your favorite fragrance? The way Blake smells after his bath. Right now I'm wearing Avon's Rare Diamonds & really like it!

20. What is your favorite face cream? i'm not a loyalist...whatever keeps my skin from feeling dry and itchy 

21. Favorite baby/kids products? slings and carriers

22. People watcher? yes

23. Are you a morning or night person? night

24. Do you have any pets? not yet

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Josh and I are headed away for our anniversary weekend in 1 week!!

26. What did you want to be when you were little? a ballerina, an astronaut, and a writer

27. What is your favorite memory? too many to list

28. Are you a cat or dog person? dog person

29. Are you married?, duh!

30. Always wear your seat belt? of course

31. Been in a car accident? yes, but not a bad one

32. Any pet peeves? slow traffic

33. Favorite pizza toppings? cheese and pepperoni...sometimes black olives

34. Favorite flower? daisies and hydrangeas

35. Favorite ice cream? coffee lover's from Coldstone Creamery

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Sonic and Mc Donald's

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? none

38. From whom did you get your last email? Rue La La

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Hobby Lobby 

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? bought a Keurig tonight (but Josh had gift cards)

41. Like your job? love it

42. Broccoli? yes, please

43. What was your favorite vacation? honeymoon to Chicago

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Josh and Blake

45. What are you listening to right now? the tv in the other room

46. What is your favorite color? blue usually...but i'm loving mustard yellow lately

47. How many tattoos do you have? zilch

48. coffee drinker? yes definitely!

49. how tall are you? 5 feet 6 inches

50. hobbies? making crafty things, playing the piano, couponing

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Bag Lady

They say that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.
So here goes...
Hi, my name is Maureen and I have a handbag addiction. 
It started when I was pretty young, and I've never been able to shake the habit. 
Clearance sales lured me in. Birthday presents arrived. Department stores wooed me with their wares.
I have to also admit though....I'm perfectly happy with this terrible addiction I face. 

Linking up today with Gussy Sews to share my favorite accessories...
The Purse
The Totebag

These are mine...

My beautiful rustic red purse has been in my closet for years and years and years. I adore the color and the detailing. Sadly, it was retired into the Purse Hall of Fame last year...the handles are worn through. 

This snazzy little Vera Wang number was a Christmas present from my parents. It's my Going Out purse.
You know...for when I go out to fancy dinners with my handsome hubs minus the diaper bag.
Yeah, this one's in excellent wear and tear here. 

Oh Dana Buchman how I love thee! You had me at metallic gold and zebra print. 
Also a Christmas present from my parents...would this be considered enabling??

My current bag. By current, I mean that I have been carrying it for more than 48 hours straight. 
We're going steady now. 
Have I mentioned my new found love for mustard yellow?
You can see more of my current obsession with this color here.

Ahh, yes. The diaper bag. We have three.
This is really Blake's bag, though I'm not sure he appreciates the polka-dots as much as I do. 
But it's a necessity for church nursery and Grandma & Papa's house days. 

I also have a love for the clutch. 
You can read about the time my favorite one was stolen here. 
After that episode, I replaced the little beauty with this green one.
And I have to say...
we get along rather nicely**

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Growing Pains

Do you remember as a kid feeling those unexplainable aches in your legs?
The ones that your mom would tell you were
growing pains?

I've been feeling them again. Not the stretching, aching muscles in my legs...just in my heart. 
There was a time in my life when I really didn't know if I was going to find the right guy and end up married. 
I didn't know if I'd ever have children of my own. 
It was a time where I was ready to give up on the dating scene, go back to school, and eventually settle into a little loft apartment somewhere in the city....doing my thing. 
But it was never my heart's desire. 

That has always been defined by getting married and being a mama.
Miracle of happened!
God gives has given me way more than I deserve. That's why I can claim that today is sweeter.
Because I'm living out my sweetest dreams, friends. 

But this is also real life. 
I did not marry a perfect man. He did not marry a perfect woman.
We do not have a perfect little boy. (close though, wink*)
And for the last few weeks I have been feeling those growing pains deep in my heart. 
I've mentioned before that I feel emotions really deeply...sometimes so deep that I don't know what it is I'm feeling way down in there. It takes me awhile to go mining into the cavern of my soul, and bring those things up into the light. 
That's where I've been. 

I'm feeling the pain of a growing marriage. We fight and make-up more than I thought possible sometimes. 
And it has me longing for the simpler, unassuming days of courtship where everything Josh did made him superman in my eyes. (Well, almost everything!)
Now it seems he comes home to far more expectations, and far less appreciation. 
We are struggling to sacrifice, to give, to let go of baggage and expectations. 
You know. All that stuff you pack up into the suitcase of life along the way and come lugging into 
the house you're building together. 
We are being fused into one. Kicking and screaming at times...

And because neither of us like who we are in those moments of 
ahem...intense fellowship...we are struggling to grow. To communicate more. 
To be who God wants us to be. 

Sometimes I just sit and watch Blake. I see him building towers, and vroooming with his cars and trucks.
I see him eating waffles for breakfast, and picking up his toy microphone to yell
because his daddy taught him to yell just like Nacho Libre. 
(Now that just thrills my heart...)
What I see most is my little boy growing, really fast. 
And my heart hurts.

I packed away Blake's summer clothes today. For good this time.
See, I have this routine for packing away his things, each time he grows out of them.
First, I take them out of his dresser and they sit on top for a few weeks. 
Then after that they'll make their way into a Rubbermaid, and they'll sit in his closet for awhile. 
Eventually I inevitably have to take them down to the storage shelves in our basement.
This kills me.  Everytime. 
I'm a weepy mess for at least 20 minutes, and once more can not for the life of me 
figure out where time went. How he got so big. 

My heart just aches...
knowing that all too soon he will be grown.
I'm sure there's lots of parents out there that think 18 can't come soon enough.
I don't feel that way....I wish it would never come. 
I wish I could stop time right here, and Blake would stay my little boy forever. 
The boy who likes to show off his belly. And rake leaves with mommy.
And have pushing fights with his reflection...

Sometimes growing hurts.
But it also always brings something new. 
Sometimes growing isn't what we thought it would be.
But it also can be everything that we needed it be.
Sometimes growing seems to take a really long time.
But it also goes so much faster than we thought possible. 

I'm learning to cherish both kinds of growing...
the kind that makes me a better wife, a better mommy,
and the kind
that leaves me searching for a brick to put on that little guy's head. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sneak Peek: Ten Family Photo Faves

It was a gorgeous fall day.
Sunny, blue skies...brightly colored leaves. 
And a fabulous lady snapping pictures of me and my loves. 
These are my faves....heart**

Photos taken by Stacie Ross

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where I Was

Have I ever mentioned my very favorite movie of all time is You've Got Mail?
If not, now you know!
I love the part where Joe Fox is trying to explain away in an email to Kathleen Kelly
  where he was
the night they were supposed to meet at the coffee shop. 
"I was in Vancouver...and the power went out....and the phones were out too....strangely enough?!"

Okay, well that's how I feel about last week. 
Like I have to come with some ridiculous excuse for not blogging since last Tuesday...
I don't have a wow story to share....just the truth. 

Blake's been sick, I've been thinking, and we've been really busy. 
Can you relate??
Sometimes in life we just have to give ourselves the permission to sit on the couch with our coughing little boy  and not feel guilty for napping when he does. 
It happens. We need sleep too!

Sometimes in life we have to give ourselves time. 
Time to figure out what it is that God's working on inside of us, 
what our hearts are feeling and our minds are thinking. 
Time to enjoy living life instead of viewing it from behind a camera lens.

Sometimes we just need a break. 

So that's where I've been...what I've been doing. 
I'll share more this week. 
But just so you know, I'm back...and I'm thankful for all of you who check in every day
to see what's up in our little world.
Your visits make me happy and your comments encourage my heart!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten Fall Things I Love

Warm, sunny days with cool breezes
 and brightly colored leaves

Stuffed Squash 
(click here for the recipe)

Decorating my piano

Celebrating our anniversary

Apple Cider

Yummy smelling candles

Caramel Apples

Pumpkin Pie...but only my Mom's

Homemade Soup

A Fall Welcome

Linking up with Miss Mommy....