Monday, January 31, 2011


Pregnant with Jude 2005

Joel and I have endured many busy seasons.
He was a full time student when we got married and worked a 3am-9am job at UPS.

Then we worked for a church more hours than any human, let alone, christian ought to.
Really tough.

Now, Joel is doing the job he always imagined in addition to being a Dad to 2 sons.
Good tough.

This weekend was just what we needed.  A date night out on Friday night.  Our kids slept til 9am Saturday morning (that NEVER happens).  Great afternoon with family & Joel & I turned the TV off Saturday night just to be together, laughing, dreaming.

As the alarm clock went off over and over this morning, we both faced the reality that the weekend was over.  I could sure go for another one right now. 

Hope you're all about to enjoy a brilliant Monday!  We've got thrift store shopping on our agenda!

Friday, January 28, 2011

mister leland

He can walk 
He can run
He can eat a graham cracker with swagger
He can climb up on sofas & rocking chairs
He can safely ascend and descend the stairs
He is BIG into high-fiving
He smiles kind of a lot
He adores his
His hands are curious
His hugs are warm
He blows kisses 
He says 'ball' 'hi' 'cracker' 'juice' 'daddy' 'mama' 'Jude' 'light' & many other new words.
He is 15 months next week. 
We're still hopelessly in love with this child. 

Happy Friday from Leland!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the golden rule

When it comes to the ideal thing I want my boys to know about relationships - good or bad - this simply says it all.  

Designed by a Father/Son (son age: 6) -another reason why this appeals to me.  My husband has an almost 6-yr old.  I wonder what truth they may find to express together.  

Like this?  Get it here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Joel and I have really enjoyed going out a bit more lately.

Leland is a little older.
Jude is such a helper.
Breastfeeding is over.
Freedom is just kind of nice. 

One of the stops we've been hoping to make was to Zack Bruell's Italian Chinato located on E. 4th in downtown Cleveland.  After trying his other restaurants over the last few years, we knew we were in for a treat.  Our favorite by far was L'Albatros - an experience that Joel and I will remember forever.

It was fascinating that Zack chose Cleveland of all places to bring his beautiful restaurants.  It's been on our list for a while.

Well, this week was rough.  We both worked too much.  We saw eachother very little.  We slept too few hours.  We didn't workout enough.

Joel surprised me with flowers this week and arranged a sitter so we could finally try it out.

We got dressed up...I did a funky braid in my hair...We braved the 0-degree windchill and walked into Chinato.  It was packed at 8:00PM on Saturday night.  Lots of parties and couples doing just what we were doing.

I walked up to the hostess excited for our experience to begin.

She seemed confused & but eventually found our reservation under "Miller Party of 2"

Joel had been parking the car and he joined me moments later.  We warmed our hands and waited as she told us it would be 'just a moment as they cleaned our table..."

Ironically, another couple had walked in just after Joel.  They were also waiting.
The hostess, who must have been new, asked them to remind her of their last name & number of people in their party.  I overheard them say, "Miller Part of 2".  She took their menus and they followed her to a beautiful table overlooking E. 4th street.  Joel and I debated whether or not to step in and see if THAT was OUR table.  We went over to the hostess when she returned.  She said, 'Have you been helped yet?"

I simply said, "Yes, you said it'd be just a moment - we're Miller Party of 2."  Her face turned red.  She didn't need to say it.  I just chuckled and said, "You sat them at our table, didn't you?"  She nodded. Quickly, she said, "But I have a deuce that just opened up downstairs!"

We were thrilled to finally sit down and eat - however, going downstairs was similar to going to a basement at a friends house....complete with plastic tables/chairs and parties of 16 in every direction loudly laughing while the Miller party of 2 was seated in the midst of them all.  There were flat screens on every wall and Joel and I could barely hear ourselves talk over our menu.  Were we at Chinato or Boneyard?

It was disappointing.  The food was delicious as we knew it would be.
The atmosphere, I'm sad to say just didn't work.  I couldn't even hear my husband tell me how his meal tasted....or how it compared to the other Bruell works of art.
It was like putting ketchup on filet mignon.  Just ruins it.

Will we give it another shot?  Of course.

A restaurant experience, as far as I'm concerned, is just as much about way you are cared for as it is the food you are tasting.
1 for 2, Chinato.  1 for 2.

Friday, January 21, 2011

big picture

Joel and I had a great talk last night.  One we needed to have for a while.

a BUDGET talk.

We have had those a zillion times before - probably 5-10 too few back in the early days.  We laughed over how crazy we were early in our marriage.  We would spend and spend and spend as if there were no consequences.  The credit card seemed like our reliable old pal.

Then the statement came.
The fear.
The regret.

I got all Suze Orman-esque and started educating myself.  THEN - I found out I was pregnant with Jude. Joel and I were attending a great church in the inner city of Grand Rapids.  The Sunday after I found out we were pregnant, I remember sitting there discouraged about our future and what type of future this child might have.

One of the musicians came up after the worship time to share a story.  He told a story of the $100K+ debt he accrued by the time he was 21.  He was charging recording equiptment, instruments, computers.  He met his to-be wife and the credit card was too maxed to buy her a ring.  After a humbling time of cutting those cards apart, educating himself on his mistakes, and putting a plan in place to rid himself of the debt, he told us that 7 yrs later, they are debt-free and their mortgage is PAID OFF!

I was stunned.

Was he lying?
He mentioned a course he was going to teach and I knew we had to be a part of it.

We went faithfully.  We put plans in place.  (By the way we were age 22 & 23 at this point)
By the time my 12 weeks came off from work with my new son, we had saved enough money so I wouldn't have to go back to work early.  It was a miracle. 

We sold our house - paid off the card - paid for our first car in cash - and paid all Joel's student loans.  We were free.

It's an amazing feeling but I wonder where we'd be had we not had that training.  that aha moment.

Last night's talk was beautiful as we dreamed. Together.
We are considering putting our house up and moving nearer to downtown.

The thing that must remain true, however, is that when it comes to money.  It's JUST money.  Patience is what we must covet more than the money itself.  Desire without the patience is just stress.
always on the same team. always.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Why is it so hard to let the little things go?

The way that girl looked you.

The irritation you felt from the cashier.

The way a driver cuts you off just to stop and make you wait.

This last week was nothing short of just plain ole awful.  A little boy hit my kid on the bus.  I knew I had to notify the school. The problem was I felt like it was pulling teeth to be heard & believed.

That is one feeling I truly loathe.

When all of my heart is crying out in earnest truth and I am not believed.  It's a terrible feeling.

Joel and I would lay in bed and go to sleep in moments because we were SO.SO.TIRED from all the school shenanigans.

The things is I wasn't trying to pass a new law.
I wasn't trying to allow gum-chewing again in schools.
I wasn't even trying to force my way.
I was just trying to keep my child safe.

I felt like I was fighting for the right to breathe.
As if Oxygen were a privilege.

Friday, Jude went back to school after 2 days off while I tried to sort through the legal mumbo jumbo.  He came home with a note from the boy who hit him.  The boy, who when confronted about this, broke down in tears and said, "Im so sorry I hit Jude!'  The note was 'kindergarten-like' with bright colors and pictures of sweet kids playing and a sunshine.  At the top was written simply in 5-yr old handwriting;

I'm Sorry Jude

Jude was so proud of it.  It was the first thing he wanted to show me.  I was so proud of my forgiving child.  I was also proud of this young boy who readily admitted what went wrong.

I wasn't so proud of the school system but THAT we are working through.  Documenting a new plan, getting Jude to be comfortable enough to 'tell' AS SOON as anything happens, rather than waiting out of fear of getting a friend in trouble.

It's hard to get a through a week like this without losing faith in humanity. 
I guess that is why God gave us children.  To remind us that a simple apology coupled with remorse and humility is nearly impossible to ignore.  I wonder who I need to apologize to today.  I wonder who I need to forgive.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

see...there is this woman

She is the definition of humility.
She is creative & kind. 
Her life has been one of such sacrifice but such joy.

It was only by 24 hours that she chose NOT 
to take a vow of celibacy in a convent. 
Because she met her soul mate. 

She was romanced by this fellow.
He left their country in search of a future. 

4 years later, faithful as can be.
He came back for her. 

He married her. 
He got a house for her. 
They began their life together. 

5 children were raised in their home.
They did not have much. 
They worked very hard in a country not easy to navigate.

Out of their faithfulness came 5 brilliant persons. 
All of whom serve & love & create as adults today.
Those 5 created 7 grandchildren.
Out of those 7 grandchildren have come 10 great grandchildren. 

All because she didn't take that vow. 
Today I wish a Happy Birthday to my beautiful Grandmother. 
I like to call her 'Abuela' 
I am SO blessed to have her here with us - healthy & happy. 

She has prayed us all through the tough times
Celebrated the happy times

I love her more than a blog can possibly explain. 

I love you, Abuela.  Happy Birthday!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

whatever it takes

It's been a frustrating 24 hours over here.

I don't really understand where all this comes from.

A bully at school.
One I know & am 100% sure doesn't intend to hurt my son.
But yet he does.  All too often.

It all hit the fan - after numerous confrontations - yesterday.
My sitter was home with the baby.
She went out to make sure Jude got off the bus OK.
She could tell he had a bump on his forehead.
She could tell he had been crying.

Her text to me was urgent and I could tell this was more than just a 'boys will be boys' incident.
I am so grateful that even though I wasn't home to deal with it, I had someone so trustworthy to handle Jude.

I got home.  Felt terrible for my son who had a large bump on his forehead.
I felt utter guilt that this child, who was given to me from GOD, was in a situation causing him pain.

On I went, like a crazy person, to investigate.
I documented/emailed/called every person in authority at the schools I could.

I got some good responses.  Mostly, though, I feel like they want to shove this under the rug.
Kids just do this sometimes.


I'm sticking to my guns.
Documenting each time I do anything.
Recorded Jude telling the story.
Took photo upon photo of my son's injury.

When you put your son to bed and he tells you..."Mom, I just want you to make him stop hurting me..."  all you can do is try to not let him hear your heart break.

I will do whatever it takes so that my son is safe.
I love you, Jude London.  I couldn't be more proud of you.

Big shout out to all of you who have been supporting us, giving us awesome & helpful advice, and just being there to help me through it.  I'm happy to say that Jude is doing great.  I kept him home and we had a killer pajama day!  ;-)

Much love from me to you...

Monday, January 10, 2011

how we doing?

Joel and I were pretty determined to make NO resolutions.

We thought..."Everyone just breaks them anyway..."

But, inevitably we kept sliding into these conversations about setting out goals to acheive something this coming year....we had to laugh.  I guess we're just created that way.  A new year marks such hope & there is just such a fresh start to be had.

Mine are simple

1-Prioritize often (God/Joel/Kids/Work) - staying organized is key in all of this, which people think I'm great at.  Truth is, I have to work REALLY hard at being organized. 
2-Activity - with heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure & more on both our sides of the family, we are determined to make activity the norm.  Like brushing our teeth.  We are both healthy as oxes and hope to stay that way. 
3-Creating - This last year was huge for me - huge for me in stepping outside of myself and seeing if I'm really good at anything other than being a person, mom & wife.  Found out I can sorta cook/bake...I can pull out some cool things using color & balance in a person's face by way of makeup....I can even do a little accounting.  ha.  I want this year to be more of the same.  Exploring. Creating. NOT fearful of failure only fearful of refusing to try.

I am hopeful that 2011 will be so beautiful & so refreshing.  Already has been. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

an innocent prayer

I dropped Jude off at school quick this morning.  I had to hurry back to get the day begun. Floors swept, laundry folded.

Jude and I typically have a quick convo in the car.  Subjects range from cool 'army guys' he wants for his next the latest Wii game he wants to something funny a kid said at school.

This morning, he wanted to pray together.  We normally pray on the way to school.  Usually its my idea, though. Not his.

I prayed for his day.  I asked God to protect his heart & mind.  I then left an open space for him if he wanted to say his own prayer.  He did.

He said, with batman-gloved hands folded:

"Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day.  Please protect us and keep us safe.  Thank you for the little bit of snow on the ground.  Thank you for watching over us.  Please bless everyone in the whole world today. "

My heart melted as I watched him in the rear view mirror...his eyes were wrinkled shut and his little lips pursed with each word he uttered.  This child truly believes there is a God that hears him.  I was so encouraged to see his sweet heart and hear his innocent prayer.

I wonder if kid prayers mean more than anything to God.  They are spoken with no request...just to be heard.  *smile*

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

a birthday

There are few things in life I love more than the innocence of a child.

This morning was an example of that.

I had gotten up early to run.  Got home.  Felt great. 

I heard Joel's alarm going off but saw no awake Joel.  I crawled into bed, snuggled & stole all that warmth.  A few minutes later, pitter patter was all we heard.

Jude raced into our room with a stuffed animal in his hand.  He said, "Mommy! This is SALLY!"  I said, 'Hi Sally!" 

Jude said, "Mommy, it's Sally's Birthday today....remember?"  "Oh, right....uh....Happy Birthday, Sally!"  i responded.

Jude hugged this little dog - of which I had never heard of being called Sally.  He hugged it and kept wishing her the most wonderful birthday.  He even assured her that he'd be home in no time from school to celebrate with cake!

Cake?  I thought.

"Honey, who is going to make this cake darling?"

"Mommy, YOU ARE!  While I'm at school."  he said enthusiastically.

"Oh right, because Mommy doesn't have anything else to do today, right?"  I said with a hint of sarcasm.

Jude simply, 'Exactly."


I dropped him off.  All day long, I would walk by that little dog and think about how disappointed Jude would be if there wasn't a cake when he got home.  I'm serious  -  it haunted me a little.

So, I got my act together, pulled out a small little heart-shaped cake pan, and whipped up some chocolate frosting & sprinkles.

Jude was THRILLED when he got home.  He lined Sally and all her friends around the cake and we even sang to her.  Yes  -  we sang to a stuffed dog.

Oh the things we do for these little ones....


I grew up disliking its taste. 

It was bitter and not satisfying. 

I used to go to coffee shops hoping to like what i ordered but would leave the cup mostly full.

Truth be told, coffee shops were (and still are) more about conversation than coffee.

Then I married Joel. 

Each morning, he wanted a hot cup of fresh, black coffee.

Black. Like no cream or sugar. 

I started to try and share this with him in the mornings...

I would have the occasional cup.

Since having both boys, the occasional cup turned into the 'near obsession' I now have for coffee.

So much so that if I had to choose coffee or a meal, hands down, I will pick coffee.

Joel picked up on my obsession recently 

He purchased this love present from Sur la Table (one of my favorite culinary stops) 
Isn't it SO pretty?

Monday, January 3, 2011


I love a good new year.
This one is especially hopeful and bright.

My sons are at fantastic ages - ones I am kind of savoring more than ever.

Leland gives kisses.  Jude still snuggles.  Receiving love back from my kids  -  Makes it all so worthwhile.

Joel & I enjoyed an 11-day vaca together - do you know how much freelance he did?  NONE!  First time he could say that in over 2 years.  We rested.  We laughed.  We enjoyed one another. 

We set some goals for the New Year.  They aren't resolutions.  They are very specific & ones we can achieve.  I'm excited to to be running 2-3 miles right now. I'm so glad to have formed some new & inspiring friendships lately.  I'm excited to be cooking more food than I ever have in my life.  I'm turning 30 this coming July & I am excited about walking into what I pray is the healthiest decade of our lives. 

With knowledge at our fingertips about food/exercise/rest, we are excited to build a future for our children that will provide them the best shot at a healthy long life.  What a gift that is.

Wishing you all a healthy 2011 full of wisdom & love.