Sunday, March 31, 2013


Sometimes there are moments I really don't want to forget! Here are a few of the latest.....

*Jace loves books! Sometimes it will get quiet and I'll get nervous about what he is up to. I'll peak into a room and he'll be sitting looking at books. How sweet. Playing with tractors is usually the other option- or standing on the counter, pouring out drinks- or playing in the toilet. Not always so sweet but we'll focus on the good stuff on the blog, right?

*The kiddos are sharing a room now. We had a few rough nights but overall, it is going really well. Addelyn was coming in our room every night for the last few months and no one was sleeping well! Now, other than one night in the last few weeks- she has stayed in her own room, all night. It is a new routine for bed and in the morning but it is good. I love that it will help to grow their relationship too.

*The best moment, putting the kids to bed the other night- I was rocking Jace and Addelyn was laying in her bed. They were both giggly but I was trying to calm everyone down. Jace is quite the clown and that is a story in itself- when we rock him- he is always trying to get us to laugh. He'll put his face right up next to yours and stare at you with his grin until you respond or stick his nose in your eyeball. Finally, the giggles stopped and the room was quiet. Jace had his little head on my shoulder. Out of the blue, in the silence, Jace sings, "Gangnam style...."

*Jace doesn't call Addelyn by her name- he calls her "Seester." He loves her so much.

*On the way to preschool a lot of mornings, we'll spontaneously pray for the day- for people- etc. I'm trying to naturally pray throughout the day with my kids, outloud- when the moments come up. The other day, I got a station all ready at our table to read about the Easter story and then color Easter eggs. Addelyn got so excited when she walked into the room and saw everything set out. We sat down and before we started- she exclaimed, "Thank you, Mom, for setting this up! Thank you God, for letting me do fun stuff with my Mom!" I love that she is learning that you can talk to God anytime, anywhere!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

advocare journey

I am a little nervous to tell people about my Advocare journey because I'm more private about certain things. However, I'm learning that there are some things that are worth sharing, especially when they have been a great thing in your life.

A little over a year ago, I felt like I was in a black hole of tiredness. Jacers was going on month eight of not sleeping through the night. With Addelyn, she started sleeping through the night at four months but this boy wanted to party all night and hang with his Momma. For those who know me, I have narcolepsy and usually take Ritalin but can't when I'm nursing. So I was struggling! I could hardly get through my days. Some of you may remember, those were the days when I often started crying daily, almost quit my job daily, and I'm guessing I wasn't really fun to be around! Sleep matters! A really good friend of mine suggested I try Spark, a "healthy" energy drink (not like all of the latest ones on the market). I was skeptical but since I trust her, I tried it out. (After secretly going on Mayo Clinic's website and looking up every ingredient first.) After a few days of Spark, I honestly felt like a different person. It wasn't like a had a quick burst of energy but more that I felt like I could focus more and even stay awake much better.

After using Spark for months, I decided to try a 24 Day Challenge. I would say I've considered myself a pretty healthy person (one that likes to eat junk food at times of course!) but overall, a goal of eating healthy 90% of the time. During my first 24 Day Challenge, I noticed a lot of my eating habits that weren't very healthy. My sugar addiction. My Diet Pepsi addiction. Although I already ate a lot of fruit and veggies, I wasn't very aware of how much wheat and dairy (too much!) I was eating. I also didn't realize how little protein I was consuming each day. So as you can see, I had a ton of learnings. Plus, it helped me to lose some of that stubborn baby weight that didn't want to come off after baby number two- around 15 pounds of it. I'm still on the journey to a healthy eating lifestyle- I probably ALWAYS will be on this journey but this has given me some framework to help with my eating habits.

Around seven months ago, I became an Advocare Distributor- mostly for the discount it offers when buying the products. I even have my own little website,, because along the way, it has been fun to help some others on this journey too. One friend of mine (I'll let her share when she is ready- has lost more than thirty pounds and is still going strong!) It has been amazing to watch! It has been fun also to get to know some really great people through the Advocare team. So that is my journey so far! I haven't told tons of people unless it naturally comes up. The main reason I share it- I had someone get frustrated with me the other day because they didn't understand why I hadn't even told them about this journey. I would say my main deal is that I never want to come off as a salesperson. I love to share it with others- if you want to hear more about it:) Otherwise, that is my story, to be continued I'm sure!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

last day of the trip

Last San Francisco blog post.....Wednesday morning was beautiful. We slept in again (8 am!) and packed up and headed for the Bart (which is kind of like a subway). We were switching hotels so our last night could be right next to the airport (we would be flying back to Iowa at 6 am the next morning). So we decided to get our luggage dropped off and get situated so we could have the whole day to explore. After checking in to our airport hotel, we headed back to the city. We first went to the Civic Center/United Nations Plaza area- there was a farmers market going on. I absolutely love this atmosphere. Lots of unique people and lots of tasty samples. From there, my sweet husband headed back to the Tenderloin with me so I could have authentic Indian food for lunch (I'm kind of obsessed.) He actually enjoyed it- although he'll barely admit it. 

We did some more stopping in random shops and various exploring of San Francisco and then we headed to North Beach to meet up with Jen and Markus for coffee one last time. We met some of the people they are ministering to and had a Dirty Chai (this is a tasty little concoction) as we chatted. Then Markus walked us to the Bart station so we could head to Mark's choice activity of the vacation- the Golden State Warriors game in Oakland. 

The area around the Arena was a bit shady but it was fun to head into the game. Neither of us have ever been to a NBA game so that was fun. Plus, the Golden State Warriors won! Mark found some good tickets for us so our seats were great. Nice job honey (pays to work at a ticket company huh?)

So funny- the lady in front of us kept passing out. We got quite a kick out of it. So this is what it looks like when I narc out huh? 

Well, San Francisco.....we had fun! Vacations like this don't happen often and I am guessing as the kids get older, it will happen even less as we'll want to vacation with them too. We were so blessed to have this time together. We are so thankful for our families for helping make it happen (tickets, babysitting our kiddos, etc!) One thing I came away from our trip, being strongly reminded of- time away with my husband and no kids is EXTREMELY important for our marriage! Those of you married peeps- remember this! I'm not talking about needing to go to San Francisco or anywhere special- just making time to date. In the stage of little kids, it is so hard to make this a priority. Sometimes it doesn't seem worth the work it takes to make it happen (the work on either side of it, let alone being away!) But I realize how important it is that Mark and I will be able to still have fun together- someday when the babies are grown and they leave us to ourselves again! So we WILL continue to make this a priority. Fun times. Glad we went!

a relaxing day

San Francisco posts....continued.....Tuesday of our trip, we woke up to rain, rain, and more rain. We had checked into our hotel on Monday in the Financial District- although it was great staying with our friends- we needed some time for our marriage- just the two of us! So we slept in a bit (remember it is two hours difference so sleeping til 8 felt like 10) and got up and ready to go. We walked to Market Street, the shopping area- and got soaked (we even stopped for umbrellas)! We decided to hit the mall, just to dry off for awhile. We explored for a bit in the mall and then we headed to the Youth with a Mission base- this is where I did my Discipleship Training School during college and also led a high school mission trip to for a number of years. It is in the heart of the Tenderloin, which is known as the not great area of San Francisco. Lots of homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse. In a weird sort of way, I love this area. Not because of the pain but because of the redemption that is happening. I was really excited for Mark to finally see the place that has impacted my life so much. We walked to the base and met up with Jen. She gave us an updated tour (it has been since before Jace was born that I was there last.) There are great things happening at YWAM San Francisco. It was encouraging to hear the stories and even see some of what is going on there. Then, we got to take Ben Bonwell out for lunch. He is a college aged guy from Cedar Falls that is doing his DTS right now. It was fun to chat with him and hear how God is at work in his life. We got to go to a small, authentic tacoria which was amazing. The 'mom and pop' authentic restaurants from every where in the world is one of my favorite things about San Francisco. You can eat food from anywhere and everywhere! After lunch with Ben, it was still a little rainy so we decided to head to a movie. We never get to go to movies- it was so fun and relaxing for us. After the movie, we had found massages on Groupon so we headed to those. They were amazing and the perfect way to top off our "relax" day as I like to call it. After stopping in some of the Union Square shopping areas on the way back, we headed to the hotel and showered and got ready for a dinner date out. 

We headed to North Beach to a wonderful little authentic Italian restaurant suggested by Markus and Jen. It was amazing and we were stuffed, as you can see from Mark's face. The walk back to the hotel actually felt great. I love how much walking we did- it was never boring walking- good talks with my hubby and always the city sites to see.

wine time!

San Francisco....continued.....After our Muir Woods stop for the morning, we headed into wine country to our first winery. The first one was all sparkling wines. We got to see the cellar where wine was stored after it was made. The countryside was beautiful and it was a different kind of "farm country" to see.

After the first winery, we headed to Sonoma Plaza for lunch. It was a cool little square area with shopping and restaurants. We went to a great little cafe and sat out in the sun and ate our lunch. It was never hot while in California- but with layers on- and when in the sun- it felt great being outside. We enjoyed a fun date lunch together and then headed back to the bus for two more winery stops.

Here is the next winery- where we got to hear about how wine is made. This was my favorite stop for the learning side of things- we learned a ton about the process of how wine is made.

Doesn't that background almost look like it isn't real? 

The last stop was where they gave us LOTS of different tastes. We had a personal helper, Frank- that kept telling us everything we should eat in Iowa with certain wines (which he would then pour into our glasses.) It got to the point where we had to dump it out when he wasn't looking, so that we could both walk out of there! HA!

After the last stop, we went to the town of Sausalito and got to see the quaint little city for a bit. Then we jumped on the ferry back to San Francisco, which was a different way to come into the city. It was great and a good change after being in the bus during the day. The cool wind felt great on our faces- we sat right in the front of the ferry and cuddled. I felt like I was dating my husband- we all need moments like these, right?

After such a full day, we were beat. In fact, we ordered some tasty pizza from North Beach and relaxed in the hotel that night. I am pretty sure I was sleeping by 9 pm which never happens (I won't even say how early Mark fell asleep)!

muir woods

I am posting about our San Francisco trip in a few posts- I have too many great pictures to share and lots of memories to get typed! On the Monday of our trip, we decided to try a Muir Woods/Sonoma Wine Tour. It was a bit of a wild card but ended up being awesome! When Mark and I go on vacations, we each get to "pick" one activity we really want to do. Mine was this tour. Although I have been to San Francisco a lot, I have never been to wine country. I wanted to experience it, especially since who knows when I'll be back in this area of the country again. Early in the morning, we jumped in a small tour bus and rode over the Golden Gate bridge to Muir Woods. We had time to explore on our own in Muir Woods which was peaceful and amazing. We loved it. 

Sorry about all of the scenic pictures but it was crazy how tall and huge these trees were! I loved this time in Muir Woods. 

How small we look gives you a bit of a glimpse of how big the trees are!

This was a perfect start to our tour day. Our tour guide actually was a really down to earth, good guy named Mark. Had a wife and kiddo and was doing this job because he honestly loved meeting the people and knowing the history. He shared tons of interesting history of San Francisco and the area while we were driving. He was funny but not annoying. We sat up front so we had lots of conversations with him and he was great. Really helped make the day. Wine tour pictures yet to come!!!!

san francisco trip part one

Mark and I were excited to go to San Francisco in February. We had such a great trip. We spent a few days with our good friend Markus and also got to meet his wonderful new wife, Jen. They were great hosts. We flew in on Saturday night and hung out together. They had a little goodie basket set out for us. When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was beautiful weather. We sat outside on their porch in the sun and enjoyed a HUGE German breakfast. After that, we did some exploring in the city and it was a gorgeous day. I have been to San Francisco many times but this was the first time for Mark. So of course, we had to do some of the touristy options- so he could see the city! This is one of my favorite cities in the world so I absolutely loved seeing it all again.

Views from Markus and Jen's place. You could walk out of their place and see many gorgeous views of San Francisco.

We started at the Wharf. Gotta love Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco- touristy but fun.

Alcatraz in the background.

The good ole sea lions. They are such funny animals. I kept thinking about how much Addelyn would have laughed at them as they wrestled and cuddled. 

A beautiful site, the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.

We didn't even ride a cable car- just a photo opportunity!

We had lunch with Markus and Jen at Boudin, which is where San Francisco sourdough bread is made. I had never eaten there before, despite walking by this place hundreds of times! They even had bread in different shapes, again I thought of the kids when I saw this! I even had the famous Clam Chowder.

Do I even need to explain this place? We went in for about three different free chocolate samples.

Lombard Street- the famous curvy street in San Francisco. 

Chinatown- this place is always bustling with people and is a completely different atmosphere than other parts of the city. For example, there is a shop where you can buy your own live chicken to be slaughtered in front of you! We had to go in the many shops to find some souvenirs for the kids. 

Here is one of the many swords that Mark wanted to buy Jace. That was a battle I won. Our 1 1/2 year old did not get a sword from San Francisco! Sorry buddy.

The view from the top of Telegraph Hill by Markus and Jen's apartment. They live in North Beach and it is an amazing, peaceful part of the city. I love North Beach- lots of cute cafes and gelato places. Dang it- I never had gelato though!

These pictures were taken from the top of Coit Tower, which is seriously blocks away from Markus and Jen's apartment. Mark and I went up there to watch the sunset on Sunday night after a full day of walking the city (we seriously walked miles- it was great- exercise, beautiful sites, great conversations with friends, and lovely weather.) I honestly couldn't think of the last time I had spent a whole day doing something like that-without kids. It was a really nice day of letting my brain be in adult mode (but of course, I thought of my kids all day- everything reminded me of them!)

This is Coit Tower at night- so close to their place. (If you watch the show The Bachelor, you would remember that Jake had a date up there. Not that I watch that crap.)

The other views at night from their apartment. 

Beautiful city!!! More to come....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Kingsbury Collection

I am still enjoying my free books from Blogging for Books! My most recent read was "Kingsbury Collection" by Karen Kingsbury. This was a large book, holding three of Kingsbury's novels- "Where Yesterday Lives," "When Joy Came to Stay," and "On Every Side."

I have been a Kingsbury fan for some time. Below is a brief synopsis of each novel. In "Where Yesterday Lives," Ellen Barrett goes back to her hometown after the sudden death of her father. There, she must try to reconnect with her sister while mourning the loss of her father. This was a decent book, not one of my favorites.

"When Joy Came to Stay" is my favorite book of the three. Maggie has a wonderful life, except she can't forget the child she gave up for adoption. Little Amanda Joy is moved from foster care home to foster care home but never gives up her faith. I appreciated and connected with the story.

"On Every Side" is a story where former friends Faith and Jordan fight against one another as they battle over a statue of Jesus in a city park. Angry at God for how his life has turned out, Jordan works tirelessly to remove Christ from public forms. Faith and Jordan end up reconnecting as Faith digs deeper into Jordan's past. This was also a good one.

I enjoyed these books, even though it was hard reading out of a book with three novels in one (a little heavy!) Karen Kingsbury books can sometimes be a little too much for me- with the perfect Christian ending. At the same time, it is kind of fun to get lost in her books that are always easy reading. I do appreciate how she always uses scripture, which is a great place to focus. Overall, a great option to read.