Friday, February 27, 2009

Reconnecting with my Body - Update 1

Happy Friday!

I figured it was time for an update on my attempts at healthier living. To get caught up, click HERE to view my original post on this.

It's been a little tricky to properly evaluate the impact of my initial steps on my mood and energy this past week since I have been down with the flu, but here's an update on the first week of goals nonetheless:

1) Substitute coffee for herbal and fruit teas.

This has been going really, really well! I should have noted that I am also attempting to minimize my soda consumption in addition to my coffee consumption. In the past two weeks I think I have had two caffenated sodas, and maybe four cups of coffee. While this may still seem like a lot to some - I was drinking at least one of each beverage each day. So from 28 coffees and sodas over two weeks down to just six is a great accomplishment I feel! I've been doing lots of tea and water. It's great!

2) Drink water.

See above! Although some days have been better than others - the days that I drink water consistently have been notably different. No coffee headache and I just feel like my insides are functioning better. Go figure.

3) Begin exploring local yoga studios.

I've indentified three different yoga studios that are literally within walking distance from my house. I plan on dropping in for a class or two at each studio to see which I prefer, and then working in at least one class a week into my schedule. I would have liked to have started this week, but a combination of the flu - and the work I had to catch up on from being down on the flu prevented that.

In other healthy living news - Travis and I are heading out to the condo in South Haven this weekend. While not everything that will go on there would technically be considered "healthy" (several great Italian restaraunts coupled with adult beverages with Alison and Noah on Saturday!) it sure will be a wonderful mental break from the stress of work for the two of us, and THAT is a key part of healthy living in my opinion. Plus there's something about taking a walk on the beach, no matter the season, that really clears your head.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Playing Mom for a Morning

So my neice Mariah is having wrist surgery today, so of course I volunteered to help out Heather and the Hill's in any way that I could.

I was fully prepared for an early morning, and having been sick all week I attempted to go to bed early to prepare. I woke up in the middle of the night, sat up straight in bed in a panic convinced I'd missed my alarm only to realize it was only 1:15am. Nice.

I arrived at the Hills' just after 5:30am -- I'm not sure that I've been up that early since I worked child care out in Lowell. Lily was already up and ready to go - doing her thing...

I should note at this time that I was presented with a schedule for the morning... :)

Heather and I had decided that giving Mariah her Get Better Box in the morning to alleviate some nerves would be best - since that would give her something to look forward to when she got home. She loved it!

(Lily liked it, too!)

(For the story of the Get Better Box click HERE and scroll down to the bottom of the page, reading the original post first and scrolling up for the updates)

Anthony Sr, Heather, Mariah and Lily headed out to drop Lily at Child Care and then to the hospital. I attempted to work on some knitting, but the Hills' newest addition, Ziggy, made it a little difficult...

So I hung out with their cats and my cup of coffee (one of very few I've had lately, by the way, more on that later!) and did a little bit of work. Playing with their cats made me feel a little guilty about neglecting mine at times since we've had Bella. It's hard to play with them because they like to stay out of Bella's way. Maybe we need to have designated kitty playtimes each day while Bella is crated?

Anyhow, here are the Hills' other cats...

and Whiskers

I woke Anthony Jr. at 7:00am who, after a little initial confusion and a reminder that Mariah was having surgery today, got up, showered, and ate breakfast... (yes, that's some kind of cereal straw to suck up the milk from his cereal with - interesting!)

Note: He came downstairs in the Pistons jersey Trav brought him back from the game we went to in January. Cute!

I saw him off to school and my morning mission was complete. SUCCESS!

Now I'm on call the rest of the day in case they need me to pick up Lily or anything. I am thinking happy thoughts for Mariah as she undergoes surgery this morning!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beautiful Moments

Sorry to be a bore, but it's been a "feel good" week in terms of kids and the arts. No matter how long the arts have been in my life, and how long I have worked in non-profit arts, it still amazes me to see the joy and confidence the arts can bring to children.

Art classes through Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities at a local after-school program (click HERE for more info...)

Kindergarten Jazz Dance class at the YMCA. Note the hats lined up by the mirror - my camera died before they started dancing with the hats - boo!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Balancing... quite literally...

So I'm down with the flu (boo!) - but I had to stop into the YMCA in the evening where I coordinate their Arts & Humanities department to check in on some programs.

Although I'm beat now and ready for dinner and bed, I thought I'd post a few pictures from the ballet classes I observed tonight - these girls are ridiculously cute, and quite literally learning to balance!

Preschool Ballet...

Kindergarten Ballet...

Youth Ballet...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Growing Things... Despite the Snow

As predicted, a snow storm hit just about all of us in Michigan this weekend. Here in Grand Rapids we got six inches or so. Although icy and windy yesterday, it's pretty calm and just a bit slushy out now. The snow has kept us inside most of the weekend though, leaving only for a few errands and to take Bella out.

As Spring is somewhere in our not too distant future (we hope!) Travis and I have begun talking about our back yard, and what needs to be done with it once the ground thaws. For those of you not familiar with our yard... here's the disaster we're working with...

(note these were taken when we first moved in...)
(also note that I am absolutely keeping the bird bath. Unbelievably awesome.)

It's not a huge yard by any means, but is nowhere near as small as it seems right now. We essentially need to tear everything out, re-fence it, lay a patio, sod or seed, etc. Although a mammoth task - I think we can make the yard look really nice (with professional help, of course!)

We both look forward to having both a flower bed, and a veggie and herb garden. In light of this, we grabbed a little herb starter kit at Lowes today. I have no idea if it will work - it was all of $4.00 - but if it does, we'll transplant them into larger pots, and then outside to the yard once the spring hits.

It should be known that Trav and I know a combined next to nothing about gardening. There is to be much googling before spring arrives...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Best Day Ever?

This morning on my drive to work, my local radio station was celebrating the birthday of the radio show hosts twin 10-year old boys. I didn't hear the entire segment, but essentially they were doing a call-in revolving around the SpongeBob Squarepants Song "Best Day Ever!"

Adults and kids were calling in to say why today was their "Best Day Ever!" People listed everything from "I had my favorite kind of cereal for breakfast" to "It's my birthday!" to "It's not snowing outside" and more. It was really quite amusing.

Now, I've always found what little I know about SpongeBob to be pretty obnoxious - and maybe I'd feel differently about it if I had kids - or maybe I'd find it MORE obnoxious, but I looked up the song lyrics regardless...

Mr. Sun came out and he smiled at me. Said it's gonna be a good one just wait and see!
Jumped out of bed and I ran outside feeling so extra exstatified!

It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)
It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)

I'm so busy got nothing to do, spent the last two hours just tying my shoe.
Every flower every grain of sand, is reaching out to shake my hand.

It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)
It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)

Sometimes the little things start closing in on me, when I'm feeling down I wanna lose that frown I stick my head out the window and look around.
Those clouds don't scare me they can't disguise, this magic that's happening right before my eyes.
Soon Mr. Moon will be shining bright so the best day ever will last all night.
Yes the Best day ever's gonna last all night now.

It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)
It's the Best day ever (Best day ever)
It's the Best day ever! (Best day ever)
It's the Best day ever (Best day ever)
(Best day ever)
(Best day...)

So positive, right?! Go figure. On days like this - when the weather is crappy - and the weekend is still three entire workdays away - we need to appreciate the little things that make us happy, and may even help us have the "Best Day Ever!"

This funny little radio segment, and the lyrics to a silly cartoon song really brightened my morning. My challenge to you is as follows:

1) Think of a reason why today is your "Best Day Ever!"

2) Post a comment below saying "Today is my BEST DAY EVER because..." (fill in your answer)

Go on, do it! Did you get a special e-mail this morning? Are you going someplace fun tonight? Did you receive a compliment? Have a great cup of coffee? Something great has happened to you today, I guarantee it.

Regardless of if you always comment on my posts, or never comment on my posts, are reading this blog for the first time, or the millionth time, if you're a follower, or not. POST! Let's hear why you're having the BEST DAY EVER!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Growing up, my mum would always have daffodils in the house as soon as Springtime arrived. I think because they reminded her of her mother, who did the same thing. As a result, I've always loved daffodils, and jump on the chance to bring their cheery color into my life each year as they became available.

While it may not look or feel like Spring outside yet, these blooms are sure brightening up my dining room right now, and I think about my mum and grandma every time I see them!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reconnecting with my Body - An Introduction

I've never been a health-nut. I've never been an athlete. I've been on healthy eating and exercise binges on and off for the last ten years. Leading up to my wedding, I worked out and ate decently pretty consistently. It's been all down-hill since then.

I'm not 18 any more - I can't eat what I want, sleep very little, not work out, and still look and feel okay. Since the wedding, I've taken appalling care of myself. Really, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I know I'm in the "newlywed contentment" phase, but that's not excuse for being completely unhealthy.

I live a high stress lifestyle, and I'm coupling that with little to no exercise, a diet filled with fats and carbs, and no focused way of managing or alleviating stress. I've put on the pounds, I'm tired, and it's taking a toll on me both physically and mentally.

It's time to make a change.

Let me be clear. I'm not looking to lose weight here - although that wouldn't be a bad thing - I'm looking to make small, step-by-step changes to enhance my quality of life both physically and mentally. After all, I've got a wonderful husband, family and friends I love, beautiful pets, a lovely home, and a good job - why shouldn't I look and feel great about my body as well?

By documenting my progress in this blog for the whole world to see (well, you know, all of YOU to see at least) I figured it would help cement my goals a little more, and hold me accountable. I'll be working on several, small changes at a time. Too often, I set out with huge lofty goals and set myself up for failure - not this time!

This week's steps to reconnecting with my body:

1) Substitute coffee for herbal and fruit teas.

I never even used to like coffee! Now I drink it every morning, and periodically throughout the day leaving me feeling dehydrated and with a headache. While I don't need to completely eradicate it from my diet, I'd prefer to drink tea instead. Still a little caffeine when I feel I need it, but with many more antioxidants.

2) Drink water.

It's not uncommon for me to go through an entire day without a sip of water. I'm serious.

3) Begin exploring local yoga studios.

I used to be such a yoga nerd! I first discovered it in college, and used it primarily for relaxation. After college, I focused more on the physical benefits of yoga practice - increased flexibility, better posture, good digestion, and tension release. I can't believe I've been off the mat for so long, and am itching to get back. I think it will really help me physically, and help focus my mind as well.

So there you have it, we'll see how this goes. Do feel free to comment with any words of wisdom, or ideas for "next-steps." I looking forward to making my already great life even greater! : )

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Best. Valentines. Day. Ever.

Travis and I never really "do" Valentines Day. I'm one of the people who considers it an over commercialized "holiday" that makes a lot of money. When people say "But it's time to let your loved one know how much you appreciate them" I'm the one that responds "Shouldn't we do that every day?"

The truth is that unless you're two PERFECT individuals, you DON'T actually do that every day.

This year, with work being so hectic for both of us, Valentines Day fell at the perfect time to give us the excuse to stop stressing, and go out on a date together. Travis made reservations at one of our favorite restaurants - which was awesome since I'm usually the one that plans things (surprising I know!)

We had a really great meal, really great conversation, and I even blow-dried my hair and did my makeup. It was so worth it!

I feel so lucky to have such a great husband - and I may never scoff at Valentines Day again...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Live in GR? Here's How You Can Help!

Hi Everyone! I've been a horrible blogger this week - I've had so many crafty projects going on that I've been working on Ready.Set.Craft a ton and haven't had anything exciting to share over here.

But never fear, I'll be posting a plenty later today and over the weekend with Joanne and Trav updates (and Bella, and the cats...) and photos but for now I'll leave you with this, for those of you that live in Grand Rapids:

For those of you that shop at D&W grocery stores, here's an easy way for you to help out GAAH in the coming week.

The D&W Fresh Market Steps Up In Your Neighborhood program is designed specificallyfor the support of schools and non-profit groups. D&W designates specific weeks scheduled throughout the school year where GAAH supporters can shop, give our group code, and receive 2.5% back on their total purchase.

Simply shop at D&W starting THIS SUNDAY: FEBRUARY 15 through 21, 2009

Give the D&W cashier GAAH's code: 95760 and the 2.5% of purchase donation
will automatically be credited to GAAH's account. It's just that easy!

GAAH will receive a check from D&W in May 2009 and funds will be used to
support our facilities and services.

Mark your calendars, write down our group code, and shop D&W this week to
support GAAH!

And if you haven't done so yet, make your way over to GAAH's new blog to see first-hand the impact we're having on the children and families of the Grandville Avenue neighborhood!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring, The Old Man Is Snoring...

So I really, really don’t want to sound like I’m complaining BUT…

It’s SO grey and dreary here today. Let me be clear, I much prefer the rain to snow, and the increase in temperature is MUCH appreciated (I didn’t have to turn on the heat in my car this morning on the way to work!) but wow, am I already ready for spring.

Luckily, at the end of March we’re taking a little break from Michigan and heading to Austin, Texas to see my brother Will. We haven’t seen him since our wedding back in June, and it will be great to see where he lives and how he’s “rolling” out there.

We’re flying out on March 26, and meeting our good friend Tim out there, who is flying to Austin from DC. My brother’s 21st birthday is the next day, so the primary focus of the trip is to show him a good time and celebrate his birthday with him now that he’s “legal.”

Not only am I SO looking forward to seeing my brother and Tim, but I can’t wait to get away to someplace SUNNY. is showing temps between 64 and 79 degrees in Austin in the next ten days – so if it keeps that up I’ll be more than a happy camper! We’re planning on visiting San Antonio and the Alamo while we’re there… and I think it’s going to be such a fun trip.

I plan on blogging every day that I am there, of course, and posting pictures. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities

If you live in Grand Rapids, or if you're passionate about the arts, literacy, and education, or if you simply want to know more about what I do with my time when I'm not blogging, or crafting, please check out Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities new blog by clicking here. Feel free to become a follower, add yourself to the e-mail list, and check back regularly - I'll be updating it several times a week. Learn what we're all about! :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunshiney Day

To say that us Michiganders are ready for some better weather is an understatement. This weekend got up to fifty degrees and was filled with brilliant sunshine. People were out and about everywhere, we even witnessed several men sporting shorts and short sleeved shirts (that certainly IS wishful thinking!) We took Bella for a walk down by Reeds Lake late this afternoon. It wasn't quite as "balmy" as earlier in the day, but that sunshine sure made a world of difference, and put me in a great mood.