Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Grand Rapids

We spent a blissful 5ish days in Grand Rapids over Christmas. Our time was filled with family Christmas parties, catch-up sessions with friends, and lots of food. I think we had forgotten how much we missed West Michigan. 5 days wasn’t nearly enough time, and we will hopefully be able to go back up there soon.

Now for some pictures of good ole family fun...

Witte Family Christmas Party

We're clearly not lacking for people!

Also, a Christmas celebration is never complete without singing Christmas Carols and Dutch hymns. I need some significant help on those! I have no skills in Dutch, that is for sure.

Cousins. Now that I live by none of them, I’m reminded of how special they are to me. There was a family baby boom in the early 80’s, which was resulted in my having LOTS of cousins right around my age. Built-in friends that I have an excuse to see around the holidays. What could be better?

Christmas morning at the Witte house
All three of us kids were definitely spoiled rotten! What sweet, generous parents we have!

I got a Cricut! Can’t wait to get back to the scrapbook and use this AWESOME new tool!

Josh and I received a cow and a goat (respectively) this year. My parents had them donated through Samaritan’s Purse to needy families in other parts of the world. If you’re ever looking for a unique gift, they come out with an awesome catalog of charitable giving options. You can stock a fish pond or give toward medical equipment for preemies or buy a goat in the name of a friend instead of giving them more junk they don’t need…

I think it took my mom a while to find a plastic cow and goat for us to wrap up, but she managed. I put these on a shelf at home so that I can remember to pray for the families that received these animals.

Witte cousins over for game night on Christmas – complete with leftover sweets. My arm, Mark, Annette, Rebecca, Nathaniel, my brother Ben, Josh, Natasha, my dad, and Christina. We played Oodles, Euchre, and Trivial Pursuit before finally calling it quits around midnight.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas cards make me really happy. I love the variety of colors and designs, and how each one reflects the person or family that sent it. The ones with pictures are really fun - especially now that we're far away from family. One of these days ours will include a picture. Maybe next year!

When they first started rolling in, I put them in a little box on a shelf. But that is sad for me because I like to look at them! So I attached them to these ugly doors in our dining room with paper clips and voila - I can see them every time I go to the kitchen. Makes me smily every time.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brands are Fun

I'm home with Riley-boy this week while Josh is off traveling around the midwest. By Friday he will have visited ConAgra, Unilever, Kraft, Miller, Oscar-Mayer (which I believe is owned by Kraft), 3M, General Mills (which I like to refer to as the mother-ship, due to the hundreds of bowls of Cheerios Josh consumes each year) and Target. Hopefully he'll come home with lots of samples!

So my brand manager-to-be husband is now fascinated by trips to the grocery store. It doesn't matter which aisle he is in - from shampoo to dog chow to frozen foods - but shopping for mundane household needs has become significantly more interesting to him. Our trips are peppered with questions such as "did you know Hunts (think canned tomatoes) is a ConAgra brand?" or "don't you think this Target brand body wash has unique packaging?" He often stops to read the labels on items such as deodorant, laundry detergent, and peanut butter. It is quite the adventure.

He has kind of gotten me into it, actually!

Did you know that the same company that makes Ragu also produces Lawry's Seasoning Salt and Snuggle? And like a million other things? Unilever. Kraft has Miracle Whip, A1 Steak Sauce, and Maxwell House, among other brands. Miller makes... well, just beer. And I guess they were giving out free samples today at 9:30 am. For some reason 3M products (Scotch Tape, Post-In Notes, etc) get me really jazzed. Those folks do a good job :)

So the next time you're putting creamer into your coffee or opening a bag of chips, turn the bag around and see what company really makes it. Kelloggs? Nestle? There is a good chance that the name you see on the front of the box is not actually the company that produces that product.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Little Fur-Ball Loves The Snow

Good, solid, stay-around snow arrived in Bloomington over the weekend, and the little guy enjoyed the
delights of both rolling around in it and licking up as much as possible.
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Dinner with Friends

What a fun Christmas celebration.
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Date

Wednesday Night.

After heading off to the salon for a much-needed haircut, I returned home to embark on my surprise Christmas date. Josh had warned me to not get my hopes up, that it wasn't all that special. But he was wrong. It was wonderful!

First I got to open my present, which was a leather-ish bench-ish thing that you can flip the top up on and store things in it. He knew I'd wanted one to put by the front door for all of the crap that inevitably ends up in that area of the house. We'd actually talked about just buying one, so it was more a present for us both. But very fun. So I opened the top of my present to find lots of little presents inside - pretty candles, a movie, chocolate truffles, an ornament, and a bottle of wine from a local place. AND a menu. He'd made dinner for me - a NICE dinner! And most of the rest of my presents were Christmas date-related. Candles to be lit while we ate. Wine for dinner. A cute Christmas movie to watch afterward. Truffles to munch on during the movie. Perfect!

By the way, if anyone is looking for an excellent tilapia recipe, try this one. It is super good and quite easy. Seriously, I've been scared of making fish for dinner after a tilapia fiasco in college. So this is the first time we've ever made it as a married couple. And we'll definitely continue to do so!

After dinner Josh got to open his presents - a new watch, and an ornament I'd made for him (and almost couldn't find).

So we snuggled up with Riley and watched a cute Christmas movie and had a wonderful, relaxing evening. Such a blessing during a busy week and crazy holiday season. Definitely the king of all Sweet Spots.

Now just a few more days of "together-ness time" (as my mom likes to put it) with Josh before he takes off for a week to visit more companies. Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis. The poor guy is going to be exhausted! But it will be a great opportunity to make contacts, see companies first hand, etc.

Tonight we've got a end-of-semester party to go to with the rest of the MBAs - should be fun. They're going to have an 80's cover band there and I'm super excited. Josh's last exam was today (yay!) and he'll be free until January 7th. I'm just slightly jealous. I miss Christmas break.

Then tomorrow we're getting together with Bloomington friends for "old fashioned" Christmas dinner. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and anything else you'd want. We went the turkey route because some folks (or maybe just one - my husband) don't care for ham. The girls are going to spend the afternoon cooking and crafting and movie-watching at Lora's, while the boys I believe are going to play Guitar Hero 3 and Dance Dance Revolution at our place. Then we'll get together for dinner in the early evening.

That's all for now, folks.

Hasta luego.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweet Spots

My week didn't start out well. Monday morning I woke up at 8:20. And I start work at 8. I've been tired, stressed, and overly busy these last couple of days. Last night I couldn't even fall asleep because I was so worried about something at work. Yuck. And it is only Tuesday.

But I must say that God has opened my eyes to so many little blessings this week. God, in his infinite sweetness, has not only showered me with wonderful moments, but also given me the ability to stop and enjoy them. For me, it is when I'm wading through the muck of worry and stress that the sweet spots shine a little brighter.

So here are some sweet spots of my week so far:

*A free chair massage at work Monday morning (yes, even though I overslept!) that a kind-hearted Chamber member provided for our entire staff
*An extra cuddly dog
*A hubby who talks to me, calms me down, and prays for me
*Holding a new baby (who happens to have amazing baby hair)
*A super constructive and encouraging meeting at work
*A dinner tonight, held by the Dean of the Business School, for all of us "partners." Our students weren't even invited! Overall I think the Dean does a great job in making us partners feel welcome and valued as members of the school community. Obviously this guy is busy, and to take time out of an evening to invite us to dinner is really extraordinary, I think.
*Snuggling in bed and catching up on Prison Break with Josh
*A phone call from a friend I haven't talked to in awhile
*Receiving a couple more Christmas cards in the mail
*Wrapping Josh's gifts in anticipation for our "Christmas Date" tomorrow (which will be a complete surprise for me! Yay!)
*Scheduling a hair appointment (that may sound mundane, but I haven't had my hair cut since we moved to Bloomington. Since Memorial Day, actually. Wow, that is embarassing.) So hopefully it isn't a disaster. But disaster or not, it will be cut in time for my special date. And it is a relief to finally have one on the calendar!

If I were having an average week, these things wouldn't shine so bright in my mind right now. I probably wouldn't be thinking about them. But here they are, in the midst of yuck. And they make me smile.

More on my special date later.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Meme

I found this on a few blogs, like this one and this one, and thought it looked like fun. Feel free to play along!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper! Bright and colorful, but not cheesy. And sometimes, if I'm really on top of things, personalized, homemade gift tags.
2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. We always had them growing up and it was never my favorite. Our first year of marriage we went to a tree farm and cut down our own. I loved it. Then last year (our second year together) we weren't allowed to have Christmas trees in our apartment. So we bought a cheap fake one from Target. And this year, to save money, we're using our already-paid-for fake from last year. Maybe once Josh is out of school we can go back to real trees.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Some time after Thanksgiving, when we have an open Saturday. We're often travelling right around Thanksgiving, so we can't always plan it for the weekend after.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Some time around New Years, when we have an open Saturday.
5. Do you like eggnog?
Yes, but in small doses. I don't buy it to have around, since I'm the only one who drinks it and only like about 1/4 C every couple of days. What I REALLY don't like is when people (like my dad) put whisky in it. Gross.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My Annie doll. She is doll that looks like a real baby, and my grandma gave her to me in a bassenette that was filled with real diapers and baby clothes. She still lives in the closet I used as a kid and will be passed along to any daughters that I might have.
7. Do you have a Nativity Scene?
Yes, a Willow Tree one given to us as a wedding present. This year Josh knocked off the head of one of the wiseman. See picture collage, upper left.
8. Hardest person to buy for?
Josh's dad. By far. His toys are usually a little out of our price range!
9. Easiest person to buy for?
Josh's mom. We started a scrapbook for her last year and add to it for various occasions. Its fun to make and we always know what to get her!
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I don't know about that, but I do know the worst Christmas gift I ever gave... I was in 3rd grade or so and we did Secret Santas with girls from church. I, of course, had forgotten all about buying something, and at the last minute grabbed an ugly picture frame that I had painted myself. I think there was a rainbow involved. And I shoved my school picture into it and pawned it off as a thoughtful gift. Just what ever one wants, right?
11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Mail, and this is the first year I'm making them myself. I'm about 3/4 through them at this point and R-E-A-D-Y to be done ASAP. It was a good idea in November, and it was fun to put together something cute. But now it is simply tedious work.
12. Favorite Christmas movie?
ELF! I've already watched it 3 times this season. My favorite part? When he buys lingerie for his dad.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Usually November. I don't give it too much thought.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don't think so.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Can I only choose 1? Bunket, which I need to learn how to make one of these days. It is a Dutch pastry-type-thing that includes almond paste.
16. White lights or colored lights?
White - I love the way they look on the tree and in our front window. Simple and pretty. Plus, when it comes to the tree we have enough crazy colored ornaments to make things looks bright and cheery.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
In the Christian realm, I love O Holy Night. I was in a children's choir (at St. Cecelia) when I was a kid and my favorite part of that experience was our Christmas concert. We'd each have a candle in hand and light it, one person to the next, while singing that song. It was awesome.
In the secular realm (and I know there is something wrong about this) my favorite is Baby Its Cold Outside. This may be because they sing it in ELF and it makes me laugh every time.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We usually travel. We're on a rotation with our parents where we see one side on Thanksgiving, one on Christmas, then flip flop the next year. It works pretty well. This year we're headed to Grand Rapids to see the Wittes, and went to Phoenix to see the Browns for Thanksgiving.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Don't think so, as I usually include "Dancer" in the list more than once.
20. Angel on top of the tree or a star?
A star I bought from Target a couple years ago.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
It was always CHRISTMAS MORNING (and NO other time!) for me growing up. And sometimes it would snow Christmas Eve and my dad would have to plow and sitting there waiting for him to come home was so painful. Now that I'm all grown up I have three different "Christmas-es" - one with Josh's family, one with mine, and one with just us. We opened presents with the Browns over Thanksgiving, Josh and I are having our special date this coming Wednesday, and then we'll do Witte presents Christmas morning. When we have our own kids they'll have to wait until Christmas morning like I did :).
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
If I say "traffic" does that make me sound really crotchedy?
23. What I love most about Christmas?
So much... getting to celebrate and remember God's tremendous gift to earth. Sharing love and food and friendship with lots of people. Lights, decorations, generosity, and holiday cheer. Angels, shepherds, scared teenagers, and a baby born in the most humble of circumstances... the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Friday, December 7, 2007

If You Know It, Hum Along

I've been thinking a bit about surrender lately, especially while reading this book. Often this hymn comes to mind. There are some times in my life that this song is more true of me than others. Most of the time I'm just far from it. But this is where I want to be, and where I'm headed. And thankfully God is okay with the mess at the moment and is molding the work-in-progress that I am.

Just singing/whistling/humming/whispering this helps me head in the right direction.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him;
In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Picasa Fun

So this program continues to make me smile. I had fun making Santa red and everything else black/white.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007


So am I the last to discover this delightful (and free!) resource? Picasa is my new best friend.

For those of you who are similarly clueless, Picasa does double duty as a picture organizer/viewer AND a poor man's Photoshop.

Actually, it is also a dumb man's Photoshop. We have that program loaded onto Josh's computer (as a student he can get it super cheap through the University) but I really can't make heads or tails of it. Picasa has fewer photo editing options, but for me that is a good thing as I'm overwhelmed by Photoshop anyway. Picasa, in my opinion, is even easier to use than Microsoft Office Picture Manager - and has really fun options.

I've been playing with some of my favorite pictures of my boys and discovered some of the fun editing options. Easy cropping and Sepia tones were used on the top picture. Then in the bottom picture Josh's hand came out blurry in the original photo. It always bothered me, but I've figured out how to focus the picture in on their faces, while making the rest a little blurry. Now his hand blends in better. And I used a soft glow option on it :) FUN.

Another great thing? Pictures (like these) load directly to Blogger with the click of a button. And I don't have to input them one at a time! Yipee!!!

Next I'm going to work on making some online albums, and when I do I'll post a link.
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Monday, December 3, 2007


I've been tagged by Aletha (Pearls Events)

Here are the rules of the game
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And here we go...
1. I bought a shredder today from Staples.
2. It is lime green :)
3. I'm painting pottery tonight at a local place called The Latest Glaze. For about 5 years during high school and college, I worked on and off at a Grand Rapids equivalent called Naked Plates. The first time I went into The Latest Glaze, I mentioned something along those lines to the owner, and he actually learned the business from my old boss, Laura, who did pottery place consulting on the side. And that was back when I worked there. He probably came into the studio during my shift to learn all about bisque, kilns, and business. Ha!
4. I'm trying to be on a diet. Although what I hope is that I come out even after the holidays are finished:).
5. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 first cousins. And that doesn't count the spouses and children that have cropped up over the years.
6. There is a headless wiseman on my bookshelf at the moment. The rest of the Nativity is still intact, however. Josh accidentally knocked it over while looking for a book. But that is what super glue is for, right?
7. I love getting Christmas cards and often send mine out early so that people don't forget me. Plus, we've not moved every year since we've been married so it is also a way to remind people of our new address.

I don't think I have seven bloggy friends who haven't already been tagged! Can I still pick
Sarah Baar? And Erika, Kara (You can do it! Highlight this from my blog. Right click and go to "Copy" then open an new blog page in your blog and right click again. Go to "Paste." Then delete any of my words that don't pertain to you) Julie, Sarah, Annette, and Jamie. (James, as your blog is a conglomerate, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments).

You're it!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmastime is here...

Think the Charlie Brown song...

I LOVE the Christmas season. And this week was full of Christmas moments for me! So fun.

I received my first Christmas card in the mail (from Jamie), sang carols at church, pulled out the decorations, and lit the candles that Josh bought me last year - in Christmas Eve and Sugar Cookie scents from Yankee Candle... MMMM. Today I've watched both It's A Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas (see picture above).
My favorite part of decorating for Christmas is by far pulling out the ornaments and decorating the tree. Josh and I both brought LOTS of ornaments into our marriage, and have accumulated quite a few since. I like to buy them when we go on vacation - and each year I smile when I pull out a gondola (from Colorado), a double decker bus (from London) and an angel made of seashells (from our honeymoon in Hawaii).
And then there are the ones from childhood. My Grandma Sharpless got all of us Hallmark ornaments each year from birth to 20 I think, so it is always fun to pull those out. Josh has a whole set of Pooh characters, which I love. And this one REALLY makes me laugh:

Yes, we have Ninja Turtles on our tree, from a former fan. And yes, that IS plural. We have a figure of his favorite character AND a ball with all 4 Turtles depicted.

If you're not completely bored already, let me describe one more. The first year we were dating - 2003 - Josh was thoughtful and got an engraved "Our First Christmas" ornament for me. Super sweet. What he didn't realize, however, was that the ornament was very wedding-y. It involves a heart shape with small shapes around it - intertwining rings, champagne glasses, you name it. Not exactly appropriate for a college couple who has only been dating 4 months or so. And I love it.

And as this is something we're not used to:
A little furball who takes off with new chew toys (chew toy/ornament, what is the difference?).

Today was the first Christmas-y church service, which was exciting. And surprisingly, the pastor spoke about this verse:

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

An interesting choice for an advent message. It doesn't involve shepherds or stars or virgins. But the pastor encouraged us to remember this verse and dwell on the love of Christ this season. Through busyness and family time and shopping and decorating. To me, Christmas and love seem to go hand-in-hand. God's love for the world that caused him to send Jesus to earth. Love between family and friends that for some reason rises to the surface more during the holidays. Increased concern for the needy. And the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

A good reminder.
Merry Christmas from the Browns!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in the desert...

Here are some shots from our trip to Phoenix...

We packed a lot into a few days! Lots of eating, game playing, s'more making, hiking, and present opening :)...

We're planning to spend Christmas this year with the Wittes, so we decided to open presents with the Browns already at Thanksgiving

Guitar Hero 3 baby!
We got up early one morning and joined Nana and Poppa Brown for a hike around the White Tank Mountains... VERY pretty.
3 generations of Brown men. Can you tell they're related?
Yes, that is a tarantula...

Sunday, November 25, 2007


First of all, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Phoenix with the Browns. More on that later - including pictures!

Tonight I picked up a new book of mine - Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren - and I know that God has already touched my heart by the truth that I read in the first chapter. This book talks about a life surrendered to God... and what God can do with such a life. For Kay Warren, it means working with the HIV/AIDS crisis. A cause that also tugs at my heart, when I'm not too distracted by other things.

I'll share what specifically struck me tonight. First of all, some statistics.

*If you have a roof overhead, food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, and a place to sleep, you're doing better than 75% of the people in this world.

*If you have ANY money in the bank you are in the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

*If you have never experienced battle, imprisonment, torture, or starvation, you are ahead of 500 million other people.

*If you can attend worship services without fear, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

Then Kay writes, "I don't tell this to you to make you feel guilty - but I do hope you feel uncomfortable. I hope these statistics disturb you. God in his sovereignty decided where you would be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that he has ordered our lives in such a way. The only guilt we bear is the guilt of ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have - the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources exclusively on ourselves and our families. That is legitimate guilt."

Wake up call.

I'm a follower of Christ. Not a great one most times, but I have given my life to him and trust in his will for my life. I believe that Christ died for me to set me free from sin and make me right with God. I know that my only comfort in life and in death is that I'm not my own, but belong body and soul to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.

But do I make a daily choice to surrender my will to him? No. Do I hide in my comfortable life, spending more time and energy on myself than anyone else? Do I dream more about having a house/kids/you name it than justice, hope and peace for this sad world? You betcha.

Only God can change my hard heart, and only I can let him.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brown Family Update #3

This'll be quick, but at least enough to get Julie off my back. Not that she can talk...


Update on me? Hm...

I'm a brunette now - see India Night pictures

I'm home alone until Wednesday, when I fly to Phoenix for THanksgiving. Josh is already there, and Riley is with my parents. It is a little sad to be alone here, but I hope to get lots of Christmas cards and shopping done/presents wrapped/etc. PLUS my dear friend Lora calls to suggest craft/shopping/eating times, which I'm very thankful for. I've gone a little crazy at Hobby Lobby and Michael's lately :).

I'm currently watching ELF, my favorite movie!

I'm co-chairing the Kelley Partner's Club with Lora for 2008.

I lost a new sweater a couple of weeks ago - and nothing gets under my fingernails like losing things - especially clothes! And then yesterday I found it! Made my day. It was behind the laundry hamper and behind a closet door and I'm oh so happy to have it back.

I'm trying to study Isaiah a little bit here and there and am enjoying it. We're going to start Sacred Marriage with our church small group soon, which I'm looking forward to. Much as I enjoy getting involved in a small group here, I miss my GR small group! So much.

I can't think of anything else. Back to ELF!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

India Night

So I really have to take a break from the updates to bring you some shots from India Night...

Did you ever think you'd see Josh wearing Indian clothes AND dancing to Indian music? Awesome.

The Indian students from the MBA program (and there are quite a few!) put on an excellent cultural event for the rest of us on Saturday night. They served REALLY good food, performed Indian songs and dances, and one guy even painted our names in Hindi. Very cool. I also got a henna tattoo put on my hand, which is fun. It is still there 3 days later! We had so much fun!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brown Family Update #2


Our little cutie is doing well. He is much loved and pretty spoiled, and we can't imagine life without him. He almost always walks on all fours, which is great. Good to know that our significant surgery investment hasn't gone to waste! He spends large portions of each day napping in his bed, in our bed, or his new favorite spot - the chair by the window (see picture). The chair will never be the same! The added bonus of this spot is that he can spy on our neighbors through the front window.

Riley lives for the chance to get down to the doggy park just around the corner from our townhouse. He runs around like a crazy dog and chases after balls, sticks, and leaves. Pure glee. And sometimes there are even other dogs there... what could be better?!

If he can't be outside romping around with the neighborhood dogs, his favorite indoor pastime continues to be tearing up his toys. Between that and his hair starting to shed big time, our floors are in a continual state of disarray.

He is going to stay with "Grandma" Witte for the week of Thanksgiving, and I'm already sad about it. We're really going to miss the little rascal. Thankfully he will be in good hands!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Brown Family Update #1


Thick in the middle of "case competition" work. They (thankfully) have the week off from class but (unfortunately) have a massive project to present on Thursday. Their job is to figure out what the Lego company should do to get profits back up. From what I understand, this toy giant has been slipping in popularity since video games have become so popular. So he will eat/sleep/breathe Lego's for the next few days and hopefully have some stellar idea to present to the class on Thursday. Anyone have any grand suggestions? Feel free to leave them here.

He has also been practicing interview skills, both at school and with me and Riley at home. Well, just me at home. I have a cereal bowl filled with interview question flashcards that I pull out at random and ask him. He starts interviewing for his all-important summer internship in early January, which is coming WAY SOON.

Who wouldn't want to hire this guy?

I'll add updates for Riley and me soon, but I have to finish this extra job/project first. 2.5 more hours to go! And then I'm done and can await my extra paycheck. Yipee!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Big Day For The Car

Moment 1:
I walk out of work into the parking lot, and notice that the car looks weird. Lopsided. That look it has when there is a flat tire involved. Sad.

Since I have never changed a tire in my life and didn't want to break the better of the two cars we own, I went back into the office and asked for help. Three folks from work, plus a nice random guy, came out to assist, and I got a nice lesson on jacks, lug nuts, and donuts. I now know how, even if I don't have the strength to get the lug nuts loose. We now have the smallest little tire ever on there. Josh tried to take it in tonight but made it too late... I'll try and take it in tomorrow.

Moment 2:
I gave a coworker, Ryan, a ride to the Convention Center this afternoon, where we were prepping for a big event tonight. Right when we got there someone asked him to run to the grocery store for something, so I handed him my keys so he could run out quick. He comes back 10 minutes later, super worried, saying "I can't get your car to start." Crap. Not another car problem for one day! So we head out and get almost to my car and it suddenly dawns on him. Wrong car.

He had actually broken into someone else's car (that was left open!), sat next to a purse left on the passenger seat, tried every key on my ring, wondered why in the world does she have a Toyota key for a Chevy?, and was unable to get it to start. Not a surprise! He told me later that some guy in the parking lot was eyeing him suspiciously the whole time, as thought he thought Ryan might be stealing the car. And actually, he kind of was trying to car-jack without knowing it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lora Moment

Lora and I are sitting on her couch, laptops on laps, headphones in ears, doing evaluations for this extra job that we both have. We refer to this as "K-Leading"

Lora (demonstrating how her headphones, the standard ones that come with all i-pods, don't fit): God, my ears are so small. These things really hurt when I put them in.
Jessica: Yeah, I can see that.
Lora: What is this little "R" for?
Jessica(amazed): Seriously? Right and left.
Lora: Why does it matter which ear you put them in?
Jessica: Because they have different shapes. Look.
Lora (It is like a big fat spotlight has been switched on inside her head.): OOOHHH. I was wondering why sometimes they slide right in. And why other times it is like I have to jam them in my ears.

I can't imagine how this detail has escaped her for so long. I am laughing so hard it is difficult to type.

Lora: My ears are still small, though.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Book Recommendation

This is one of my favorite books of all time. A book about truth, celebration, not having it all together, learning that your friends have messy basements, too, and hope. It is satisfying. Encouraging. Enjoyable.

And big Z has made it possible for you to read an excerpt online. Here.

But here is a passage that sadly isn't included on Zondervan's website. She is talking about how she has an old house and struggles with jealousy over the new house of a friend. And it is one of my favorites:

On my worst days, I start to believe that what God wants is perfection.
That God is a new-house God. That everything has to work just right, with
no cracks in the plaster and no loose tiles. That I need to be completely
fixed up. I think that God's kind of people are squeaky-clean people whose
garages don't leak, but really a lot of the people God uses to do amazing things
are people who don't necessarily have it all together. A lot of the best
stories in the Bible, the ones where God does sacred, magical things through
people, have a cast of characters with kind of shady pasts, some serious

On my very best days, as an act of solidarity with my house, since we're both
kind of odd, mismatched, screwed-up things, I practice letting it be an old
not-fixed-up house, while I practice being a not-fixed-up person. I wear
my ugly pants, the saggy yellow terry-cloth ones with the permanently dirty
hems, and I walk around my house, looking at all thing things that I should fix
someday, but I don't fix them just yet, and I imagine God noticing all the
things about me that should get fixed up one day, and loving me anyway and being
okay with the mess for the time being.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Halloween Pumpkin

I can't wait for the little kids to come tonight and see him! This is our first time for trick-or-treaters, and I'm super excited.

Today I woke up and remembered that I didn't remember to plan a costume, and that all of the rest of the Chamber employees would be dressed up. So I went as a country clubber, complete with khaki shorts and a sweater tied around my shoulders. I think it worked relatively well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Still Busy But Wanted To Say Hi

After a trip to Grand Rapids and then Chicago, which started last Tuesday evening and ended yesterday evening, I'm back home! And it feels good. Although I had fun with friends, parents, and cousins, I really missed by boys at home. I stayed with my parents while in GR and was throughly spoiled by them and some friends. In the same day I went out with two different pregnant friends which was a blast. One told me that I HAVE to get pregnant sometime soon, because it is so much fun, while the other told me about the lack of sleep she experiences with her toddler. Two sides of that coin. In any case, it will be a couple years.

I went to CIROBE, a remainder book show, with my mom over the weekend, which was pretty fun. We met up with my cousin in Chicago and had some great Chinese food in Chinatown, then got to see their new place. So fun. We also enjoyed bargain shopping at Filene's and spent a good hour at American Girl. I think we're a little old for dolls, but seriously, if you haven't been before that store is worth the trip. Talk about presentation. And you see those red bags ALL around Chicago.

And it is pretty much chaos around here. I have SERIOUS laundry, cleaning, and general pick-up to do! And on top of that, I've signed up for a side job through the business school to evaluate videos of undergrads. They try to demonstrate "soft" business skills in which they pitch an idea to a boss and participate in a group discussion. I'm getting paid well ($25/hour!) but it just may become the bane of my existance these next couple of weeks. I have about 20 hours of KATS (the name of the project) -ing to complete by November 7th. It just might cut into my blogging time. Like being gone all week did. Just a warning, for the 3 of you who read... :)

My boss is trying to convince me to don a costume for Halloween. We'll see. I don't even know what I would wear, although I hear Kendra has a great Munchkin suit. Regardless, Riley will be dressed up to greet the kids on Wednesday night. Rumor has it we get quite a few around here. Yipee!

Sorry for the rambles.

Now back to work!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Some Things That Made Me Smile This Weekend

Fall colors! They've really started to shine lately. I love the deep reds and bright oranges mingled with bright greens and maroons and yellows. I drove to Indy and back 3 times in 4 days and noticed them more and more with each drive.
Jamie's visit! Jamie, a friend from Michigan, came to visit us for the weekend, and we had a great time. Riley really liked her, too - clearly! We hung out in downtown Bloomington, Nashville, the outlet mall, and our townhouse - doing some eating, shopping, football watching (go blue!) and Settler's playing. Way fun. So glad she could join us for the weekend.

And a trip to the doggy park, which is by some woods and a lake. Riley LOVED exploring some wooded paths and playing with the other dogs. We enjoyed seeing the colors and being outside on a beautiful day. We came home with a very dirty dog that got hosed off before coming inside :)

Now we're gearing up for another crazy busy week. I'll be back in GR for work, and then in Chicago for a trade show... sad to be apart from Josh yet again!