Thursday, October 30, 2008

Funding for the Arts

It is hard for me to get incredibly involved and invested in the election since I am not a US Citizen and therefore do not have voting rights. To be honest I am sick of hearing the political views of everyone from Joe to Plumber to Paris Hilton and the over-analyzing of every speech, article, and rally. Voting is a personal issue, and as much as I see that lobbying to encourage people to get to the polls important, I find excessive lobbying for your candidate and backhanded remarks about your opponents both offensive and obnoxious.

With this particular election, nothing annoys me more than people who are looking at it as black/white or male/female. Is this nation really as ignorant as it seems? Do we really, after all these years, still base decisions on race and gender? Give me a break. Vote for the ISSUES, not the genetic makeup of the candidate.

As I do, most of you reading this (all two of you!?) have some kind of vested interested in the arts, or at least support the importance of them in our schools and society. Given the opportunity to vote, I would absolutely take into consideration the candidates' arts platform.

I got an e-mail this afternoon detailing McCain and Obama's stances on the arts in education and arts funding at the federal, state and local levels. Thanks, Mum & Dad, for passing this on to me. It got me fired up, of course, as we know I am very passionate about this topic as both an artist, and an arts fundraiser. When I began writing this post, I wanted to get on my high horse about the importance of arts funding, and the merit of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). But I'm not going to do that. You're not dumb. You can read, and make decisions for yourself. You don't need to know my opinion in order to determine your own stance on the issue. I'm including links to articles pertaining to arts platforms at the end of this post.

I ask nothing of you all, but to get out there and vote, and vote for the candidate that best represents your views. I don't care that Sarah Palin is a woman, a mother, has a pregnant teenage daughter, or likes to hunt. I don't care the Barack Obama is black, a male, young, or likes the Godfather movies. Who they are doesn't matter - where they stand on the issues that are important to you does.

Arts Positions of the 2008 Presidential Candidates

Obama/Biden Arts Statement

McCain/Palin Arts Statement

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Camera!

So I dropped my camera, and Best Buy gave me a NEW one (thanks Travis for insisting on the protection plan - he knows me too well!). Here are some test shots of the puppy. Isn't she getting BIG?

Pumpkins 2008

For the third consecutive year, we continued our tradition of going over to Cindy and Dustin's house to carve pumpkins. This year was particularly fun now that we live right around the corner from them - it was a hop, skip and a jump to get there and back. I've posted a photo of Trav and I's pumpkins. Can you guess which is which? I've also included a photo of all four of our pumpkins in their lighted glory on the Bylsma's porch.


Monday, October 27, 2008


Nope, I'm not talking about the presidency, (although please vote for that as well - as someone without the right to vote in this country, I'm hoping you all will step it up and make the right decision at the polls on my behalf!) I'm talking about the 2008 Rapid Growth Neighborhood Business Awards!!!

The awards are designed to honor those business and civic groups that contribute to the vitality of their neighborhoods and community. Public voting for all 10 categories opens October 23 and closes October 30 at midnight. Winners will be announced at a gala event the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Wealthy Theatre.

One of our facilities at Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, our library, is up for "Best New Construction." It's a beautiful new building that nurtures academic development and creativity. It is a great asset to the Grandville Avenue Neighborhood.

Please visit to vote. Vote once, or vote often, and show your support for education and literacy efforts in Grand Rapids.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Are you a FOLLOWER?

If you read my blog regularly, or even semi-regularly - please let me know! Click on the follow link on the bottom right hand corner of this page and let me know that you follow my rants!

Lily's Bones

The cutest skeleton I ever did see.



Young woman

I am proud of you.
I love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So I'm feeling completely unorganized right now - like my to-do's are just sitting on piles and lists at work and at home with nothing getting done. I was proud of myself to FINALLY get invitations out to our Housewarming Party yesterday, when it dawned on me (as I was putting them into the mailbox) that the party is NEXT WEEKEND! I mean, Travis and I have been talking about it for a long time, and I think we've had the opportunity to chat with most of you about it, so I hope that a week's notice isn't too little for most of you! In case you haven't received your invite yet (and chances are that you haven't, since I didn't mail them until yesterday!) the party will be Saturday November 1 from 6-9pm at our home located at 641 Giddings Ave SE in Grand Rapids. Everyone is welcome, kids too! We'll have food and drink readily available, and dress warmly because we'll have a fire-pit going later in the evening. It's short notice, yes, but we'd truly love to see you all and share our new home with you!

That being said, I have lots to do before you all come through the house! I told Travis last night I wanted to get another two rooms done before the party and he looked at me like I was CRAZY. We'll see how we do!

In other news, I've been struggling with some kind of allergies, congestion, sinus something or other for the past few weeks - and have just been feeling tired and under-the-weather in general. So it's off to the doctor for me today to see what I can find out. I've never had allergies before but I'm thinking maybe the change in pollens and dusts from the apartment to our house may have something to do with it? Guess that means I'll have to dust more - GREAT! : )

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Fun

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Post Family Farm in Hudsonville with the Hill's. We had so much fun! Fall is my favorite season - I love the temperature, the colors, and all of the outdoorsy fun that goes along with it. Travis and I were so glad to spend a beautiful fall afternoon in the company of such a wonderful family whom we love very much. The cider and donuts were delicious as well! Here are some of the many great pictures from the day!

Making Strides 2008

Our 2008 MAKING STRIDES team!!!
Cindy & Caleb, Mariah, Heather, Me, Travis, Kelly, Anthony Jr, Anthony Sr & Lily

A HUGE thank you to everyone that either donated money to or was a member of our walking team for the 2008 Grand Rapids Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk for the American Cancer Society.

We met our fundraising goal, raising $500.00 for this extremely worthwhile cause!!! The walk was yesterday (Saturday October 18) morning and it was a beautiful fall day, even though it was a little chilly to start, and we had a great time walking through Grand Rapids with thousands of other people to take a stand against breast cancer.

We're already thinking ahead to next year - with loftier fundraising goals, a bigger team, team shirts and decor - and more! Thanks to all of you who helped make this such a success!

Best friends Heather and I.

Me with the beautiful blondes Cindy and Kelly! And baby Caleb snuggled in there, too!

Our little niece Lily rocking the pink ribbons.

Team captains. Trav looks so pretty in pink! : )

The Hill Family at the finish.

Theme cookies at brunch after the walk. Awesome.

Den = DONE!

The third bedroom is downstairs, and we're using it as a den. We have a futon in there so it can be adapted to be a third bedroom if we have lots of guests coming to stay at the same time. Originally, this room was bright yellow. It was a pretty color - it's actually what I'm looking at for the kitchen - but it wasn't what we had in mind for the room. The den is a lot smaller than the dining room with a lot less woodwork to negotiate around, so the entire process was a lot easier. It still needs curtains, an area rug (are you counting how many rugs we're going to need to purchase? Dang!) and some more artwork - but for the most part it is finished. It's actually a very "zen" room, and will be a great space for me to work from home in (which I get to do every Friday now - yippee!)




Dining Room = DONE!

With the exception of some more photo frames and shelves to be hung, and the addition of an area run later down the line - the dining room is complete! I'm thinking about re-painting or stripping and staining the dining room chairs - which is something I've never done before - but I'm crafty, I can figure it out right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Adventures in Dining

Dining ROOM that is.

So the first room we decided to tackle was the dining room. My theory was that the dining room would be one of the easiest to paint since it didn't have as many nooks and crannies as some of the others. WRONG! We discovered that not only painting around the trim (and the beamed ceiling!) was a challenge - but that finding the appropriate color was difficult as well! We essentially spent most of our weekend either up on ladders or at Lowes.

The dining room was a mustardy yellow to begin with... this picture doesn't show how dark and yucky it was...

Then we primed it...

Then we painted... and it turned out an ugly ash-grey (photos don't do this justice!)

So of course (much to Travis's dismay!) I decided we HAD to re-do it...

The color second time around was PERFECT!

Yes, that is one of our kitty's sitting on the table. We don't have frames and shelves up yet - and again, photos don't accurately represent the color or do the room justice. I'll post a 100% finished product photo soon!

People have told me that some of the worst fights between married couples happen during home improvement projects. So far - it's not the case with us! I was proud of how calm we remained throughout the process, and our ability to laugh at our mistakes! Hopefully we can keep that same lightheartedness as we move forward. The downstairs bedroom is this weekend's project! Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So I'm going to get on my fundraiser pedestal for a few moments here.

Obviously our economy is in a bad way right now, and it affects - or will soon affect - each and every one of us at some level. As a professional fundraiser, I'm feeling the burn of the economy and the affect that it will have on NPO's not only in my community, but all over the country. Non-profits will be suffering in a bad way due to corporations cutting community giving, and major donors simply not having the liquid assets available to give as they usually would.

Even the most consistent givers may be cutting, or even eliminating, their general operating support this year and in future years because they no longer have the funds to give. Non-profits rely on consistent unrestricted, general operating support in order to survive. People are panicking, and I will not be surprised to see small non-profits in this community and elsewhere fold in the next year, if they do not have comfortable cash reserves to see them through this tough economic time.

At Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities we provide arts programming and a library with homework assistance and programs to the Grandville Avenue neighborhood in SW Grand Rapids that is 73% Hispanic and 11% African-American. The poverty rate is 26.7%, compared to 14.7% for the City of Grand Rapids and 8.2% for Kent County. A total of 66% of adults 18-64 years old do not have a high school diploma, as opposed to 22% in the city and 15.4% in the county. 96% of the children who attend public school in the neighborhood qualify for the federal lunch program. Without us, these children won't finish school, they won't attend college, and they won't succeed as productive members of society.

And its not just us that will suffer. Arts organizations such as symphonies and operas can't make ends meet without ticket sales - and you can be sure that those will decrease in the next year or so. Shelters and missionary organizations rely on our dollars and donations to feed, shelter, and clothe the hungry. YMCA's provide programming, tutoring, and support for youth, children, and families across America. Without community financial support, these organizations cannot continue to serve and enrich our country.

I want to urge you, as responsible citizens, to make community giving a priority in your lives. I appreciate that its a tough financial time for all of you individually and as families, but if you can afford to live then you can afford to give. If you don't give already - don't be intimidated. Charitable giving does not have to be big and scary - in this economic climate, a little really does go a long way. A worthwhile charitable gift is one that is significant to you based on your income, lifestyle, family, etc. To some people $25 is significant, to some $2,500 is significant, and so on.

If you are interested in learning more about charitable giving, and how it can best serve the community, the nation, and YOU (don't forget about those tax deductions if you're giving to a 501c3 non-profit) please please PLEASE drop me a line at I can't even begin to tell you how strongly I feel about sustaining our community through charitable giving - it's so important!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Our First Home!

I realized that I hadn't yet shared the good news regarding our house. It all happened so fast, it's been such a whirlwind few weeks! We closed on the house September 26 and moved in this past weekend. It's amazing how much more at home and settled I feel in this house - it's far different to any apartment I have ever lived in. Despite unpacked boxes and "stuff" littering every surface imaginable - it still feels like home. My parents came out to help us move, which was incredibly helpful! My Dad's "we're not stopping until we're done" attitude allowed us to get more moved and set-up than I could have ever imagined! Cindy, Dustin, and Caleb (our new neighbors!) came over on Saturday morning to bring us some much-needed java and yummies - it was so sweet of them. We're really happy and lucky to have them so close by! It's going to take some time to get everything in its place, and I plan on starting to paint by the end of this week. We're planning a housewarming party for November 1 - so mark your calendars! Invitations will be in the mail soon!

Here are a few pictures from moving weekend...


The dining room, empty

The kitchen, also empty

641 Giddings SE!

Cindy and Caleb with our breakfast goodies!


Monday, October 6, 2008


Angela is my oldest friend - she was one of the first people I met when I moved to Tecumseh. For the most part of our adult life, she has lived clear across the country from me - but we still do our best to keep in touch. I was about ready to give up this "blogging" thing - when Angela informed me that she READS it - so she can keep up with my life wherever she is. Funny, I thought because no one ever commented on my blog posts - that no one ever read them! Now after talking to and hearing from a few other folks, I find out that they, too, keep up with it (Meg, Ashley... : ) ! So I guess I will forge on. I may not have anything earth shattering to say in my blog - but it helps me keep in touch with those I love, and whom I may not get to talk to every day or even week. Thanks Angela, you're the best. I can't wait for you to get done with school and move back to the mid-west!!!