Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My New Bathing Suit

This past weekend I finally did it.

I bought a bathing suit at full price at Macy's. A grown-up one.
It should have been done long before, but my frugal nature prevented me from spending that kind of cash on such a small amount of fabric. But last year's number (which I purchased for about $15 at Meijer) now feels too skimpy. Suits from years past are now too big or stretched out or missing their other piece. It was time to take the plunge. And what better place to go than one of the biggest department stores around? They actually had selection. Something you don't find in Bloomington.

One big issue I've had with suits over time is that the cheap modest ones never quite have the... well... infrastructure that I could really use. But the triangles-on-a-string kind? Well, it can always be tied as tight as necessary. (Is anyone tracking with me here?) For someone that never spent more than $35 dollars on a suit, I had some problems.

So I sucked it up and bought a new, quality bathing suit. With infrastructure. One that I won't feel self-conscious in. Okay, maybe that isn't true. But not as self-conscious. And by "grown-up" I don't mean the type of suit your grandma might don. I simply mean one that wasn't bought from the juniors department at Meijer, Target, or Kohls.

And the best part? I bought an adorable board skirt to go with it. Mine is orange, but I couldn't find a picture of that online. You get the basic gist, though.

Too bad I don't quite look like the Nautica model in the picture above. It is still a cute suit.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Found: A Priceless Treasure

When I was back in Grand Rapids last week my mom and I took a trip down memory lane, digging out birth certificates and baby footprints from their file of important family documents.

Most of it I'd seen before.

But then we came across something I had absolutely no recollection of:

A letter from my dad's dad (my Opa) to me, from when I was a child.

This was what I wrote to him:




And my sweet Opa replied with an almost two page, single spaced typewritten letter about his boyhood growing up in The Netherlands. He also included a handwritten note that said, "Jessica, I hope you are able to read my Yankee Dutch. Opa never went to school in America." Reading the letter, there are some spelling and punctuation mistakes, but they make it all the more special. For someone that didn't set foot in America or speak English until he was in his forties, it was pretty darned good.

A couple of excerpts (in original spelling and such):

"I had to go to kindergarten when I was 4 years old I remember that my mother brougth me to school the first morning and for that occasion I was allowed to where my sunday shoes (The only pair I had) After that I went to school wearing wooden shoes and that was the rest of my life till I was 22 years old."

"If it was stormy weather speacial in wintertime and the wind was from the Northwest direction the water from the sea came into the river and into our harbor with enourmes qauntities. Special the streets around the harbor could be inudated for hours. We lived in a street closed to the harbor. Everybody needed a kind of vloedgates to put before the doors to keep the water out of the house. This happened ones sometimes twice a year and mostly during the nichgt. We were allowed to come out of bed and sit before the windows to see the strret filling up with water, men walking with long waders trough the street helping older people to set up floofgates. We tought it was very exciting."

My Opa is now in his nineties and old age is kicking in. I don't think he knows who I am anymore when I come to visit. Granted, the man has somewhere around 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which would be hard for anyone to keep straight. But we know he probably won't be around that much longer. He is no longer at a point in life where he could tell me all of these things, and I'm so thankful I asked him as a child and now have this letter. It was obvious he spent some significant time on it, because he edited a couple of letters and words here and there in pen on top of the typing. I will always treasure it.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

This is my mom and me at the big Marshall Field's (Macy's) on State Street in Chicago.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Creative Problem Solving? Or Hillbilly Appetizer?

You decide.

Josh and I spent a night and day in Chicago with my parents this past weekend. We had no real agenda - just hanging out together in one of our favorite cities.

I can still hear echoes of my dad singing "Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin town" (think Frank Sinatra) as we walked around.

So friday night before dinner my mom stopped by the store to grab a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers for a little snack. It then occurred to her that we didn't pack a corkscrew. So $2.99 later we were in business.

Back at the hotel, however, we realized we had neither a knife or wine glasses. Solution?

Cut the cheese with the edge of the corkscrew package. And who needs a cutting board when you have a store receipt?

And then drink your wine out of water glasses and disposable coffee cups. Nothing but class.

"On State Street, that great street, I just wanna say..."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Friends, Feet, and Food

Oh, and work. These things defined this past week for me!
Along with catching up over the phone with people on my drives to and fro, I got to spend time with several GR friends and family. SO good to see everyone again! I miss them!
I got to see my parents, bloggy friends (below), a few cousins (a couple of whom live in the basement of my parents' house, which is convenient!), an old co-worker + baby Chloe, AND the Telman family, including their newest addition who is darling and sweet and snuggly.
Whirlwind? Yes.
Very fun? Yes.


When Natalie Telman was born, Kara and I took her to Naked Plates to do a footprint plaque (which now hangs in their living room) and some hand print ornaments for grandparents. And of course it was time to do the same with baby Michael! He was a big time trooper and didn't even wake up as I slathered his little paws with paint and stamped them onto pottery.


What get-together with friends or family is complete without good food?? I had my first experience with Macaroni Grill (how HAVE I lived this long without it?) with Jenni and Sarah, enjoyed a wine spritzer with Kara and Ryan (who knew red wine + Diet Sprite would taste so good?), and Chinese food with Kristi and Chloe. And then a few stops at Starbucks on my way to work.

And now I need to kick-start that diet again, to be sure.

As much as I enjoy visits and good conversation and wedding dress shopping, I truly love coming home to my sweet husband and cuddly dog. One of these days I hope they'll be able to come to GR with me. But for now, yay for being home again!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Something Old, Something New

Isn't she beautiful?

A bridesmaid option!
I've been in Grand Rapids all week for work, but have clearly managed to get some "play" in there too! Erin is getting married in September (whew! coming so soon!) and I got in on some of the wedding dress action yesterday. So fun! She was my maid of honor almost three years ago, and soon we'll be trading places.
Funny enough, Erin isn't the only bridesmaid of mine (or cousin of mine, for that matter) getting married in a few months. I have another wedding to go to in August for Rebecca (her picture is teh 4th one down) - I'm so excited! My mom and I (more her than me) are helping with some of the wedding details for both girls, so there is always quite a bit of wedding buzz to go around when we're together.
Before we know it we'll be in the midst of wedding showers and bachelorette parties! And then beaming brides and nervous grooms. I LOVE weddings!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Full Circle

A year ago now we were just thinking about our upcoming move to Bloomington. I'm a huge planner and I had SO many questions and concerns and wonders and worries about what it would be like.

I really appreciated the opportunitied to visit the school last spring. Josh got to do school-ish stuff, while I found that they had an entire day planned for me and the other "partners." A greeting from the Dean, and snapshot about student life from a professor, and a housing tour were all involved, along with ample time to ask questions. They even sent me home with a "Survival Guide" - a big binder full of all kinds of helpful information.

And this past weekend it was OUR TURN to plan Kelley Experience Weekend (well, the partner side of things). Remember how Josh predicted that I would lead the partners' group? Well, I do, along with my friend Lora.

For weeks we were buried in powerpoint slides, faxes from caterers, emails from school staff, and lists of volunteers. I soon found out that quite a bit goes into planning such an event! We thankfully had great volunteers that took on a lot of the work.

On Friday we had almost 40 partners roll into town with their prospective students. I remember having the same questions then that I answered all weekend this time around. I remember feeling nervous because I didn't know anyone.
Would I make friends here?
Where should we live?
Where could I work?
Looking back, it is crazy to imagine how normal (and great) life has become in Bloomington in less than a year.

I really enjoyed introducing all of these people to Kelley and IU and Bloomington. You know how when you really like something you can't wait to tell other people about it? We have LOVED our time at Kelley so far and it was so fun to get to see others getting more and more excited about opportunities here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The past few years have been a little dry for me, spiritually.

No, my life hasn't gone off the deep end. But I feel like I've been in a faith-rut since college. Sure, I've enjoyed some Bible studies, experienced good alone times with God, and have certainly been blessed beyond measure with a husband, family, and friends.

But am I closer to my Savior than I was three years ago? Am I a more generous, content, or loving person? Have I given more of my life over to the One who holds me in His hand? I don't think so.

But lately I've felt a new stirring in my heart. It is like God saying to me, "I have more in store for you!" He isn't finished with me yet, and wants me to experience the abundance He has in store. I just know it. I'm feeling a hope that hasn't been present in awhile.

I've been listening to excellent podcasts lately centered around these verses. The series title? How We Grow. Go figure - they're just what I needed to hear. They've been going through basic steps for growth in Christ, which is good because I need basics these days! What will this look like? I think it is going to involve pursuing these things:

Brotherly Kindness

Yes, this is a long list. That is a lot for me to focus on! However, I think God is tugging on my heart in specific ways with regard to these things. Like baby steps. I'll hopefully get the chance to share more specifics later.

But starting off I know a couple things to be true:

1. It will be costly. God will work in me, but not for me or without me. I like how 2 Peter says, "make every effort." As in, "spare no expense." Working hard at drawing near to the Lord will be worth every bit of it.

2. God has already given me everything I need. That's the thing with God - he has already made the first move. It starts with God (it always does!) - his power, his goodness, his promises. I've been supplied with all of the ingredients, and it is up to me to get in the game.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What Was That?

We woke up early this morning to our entire townhouse shaking. It stopped within seconds and we were back to sleep immediately.

This morning we were like, did that really happen?

Yes, apparently so.

UPDATE: And we got another one at 11:15 am! This one *only* a 4.5 (as opposed to 5.2 from earlier this morning).

Such a strange feeling to feel your entire house move!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who Cares?

... that I'm stinky (no shower happened today)
... that I have a significant need of a razor
... that prospective students and their partners are touring my house this weekend (and it could use some pick-up and cleaning before that happens)
... that I have lots of personal and work emails to answer
... that I have work left to do

It is 68 degrees outside. Blue skies. No clouds.

Friends + dogs are headed to a walking trail in town soon.

AND I'M JOINING THEM (Riley, too!) All of those other things will just have to wait until I return. I need to get out and enjoy this day!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Congratulatons Erin and Pablo!

To my cousin Erin:

Many congratulations on your engagement! I'm so excited for you, and thankful God has brought a great guy your way. You will bring a special sparkle to Pablo's life, and be a blessing to him for many years to come.

I'm honored to be your maid of honor!

And now I just need to meet this guy! Drat you for going and getting engaged without even letting me give my stamp of approval! Although I guess that is partly my fault for moving away.



(and to any and all blog readers out there, Erin is on the very short list of people who are allowed to call me that)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Cleaning

There is something wonderful about getting rid of junk.
A blissful feeling.

Yesterday I spent several hours in our bedroom, changing sheets, putting away the winter "big covers" (aka feather comforter), sorting out dresser drawers, and building a very large Goodwill pile. Countless loads of laundry were also involved. Housework isn't usually something I look forward to or enjoy, but yesterday it was actually fun. Taking a very crowded, messy, disorganized room and transforming it into something neat and clean, with room to spare was just terrific. I will say that I love a good purge. I mean, who needs five sweaters that haven't been worn in the past year? NO ONE.

In the process, things got considerably worse before they got better.

Case in point. The room looks like it threw up socks, sweatshirts, and old bathing suits.
BUT Ta-da! Here is the finished product. I refrained from taking pictures of organized dresser drawers, but I was tempted.
Yes, that is an ottoman next to the bed, in case you're curious. We have a high bed frame to begin with, coupled with extra thick mattresses, and the result is a waist high (on me) sleeping surface. It takes effort to crawl into bed every night for us, and we certainly didn't want Riley trying it (especially with a bum leg - we can NOT afford more surgery!). So we trained him to use the ottoman to launch himself up.

... And in all of this cleaning goodness, I have to give a shout out to my much-adored front loaders, who worked tirelessly along side of me all afternoon. These guys can really chug out amazing amounts of laundry. I couldn't have done it without them!

(thanks Mom and Dad Brown!)
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Shane Claiborne on Jesus For President

Still working my way through this book and am really enjoying it. I'm a slow non-fiction reader sometimes because I like the chance to munch on what I'm reading. This one definitely takes some time to mull over, which makes it all the more delicious.

I'll post a review one of these days, but for now here is Shane:

Thursday, April 10, 2008


From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Quick Hi From Chicago

My blog posts will be short and sweet for the next couple of weeks, just FYI :)

Today I drove 4 hours into Chicago. When I left Bloomington it was 75 degrees and sunny. I hit rain and nastiness on the growing-ever-more-expensive Skyway, looked down at the outside temperature gauge on my dashboard, and found it to be a depressing 45. Then I passed right by downtown hotel and had to make a very looong trip around the block to get back. Such is life at 6:00 pm in the heart of the city.

BUT on a positive note I spent the entire ride up here belting out Tom Petty hits and the Wicked soundtrack (in between phone calls with friends and family). There is something in me that smiles wide when I'm all alone singing really loudly in my car. NO ONE MOURNS THE WICKED! Yup, I'm still singing, just a bit quieter this time.

And now I'm off for a late dinner/drink with my cousin Michelle, who lives in town. Yay!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Doggy Glee

It was a beautiful day in Bloomington yesterday, so we took Riley to the doggy park for a romp around. You can't tell from this picture, but it was PACKED there.

What you CAN tell is that he was loving life.

Praise the Lord for Spring! Riley wasn't the only one loving life yesterday.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ridiculous T-Shirt Night

Last night, after watching some NCAA B-Ball at our friend Jim's house, we headed over to an old-fashioned house/birthday party. The theme? Come wearing a ridiculous t-shirt.

WHAT an idea. Genius.

You can see me (in Yu-Gi-Oh!) and my friend Emily donning an terrific dog shirt (I really love the one leaping up in the air). Her husband was in a teal number that included several wolves. We saw all sorts of excellent ridiculous options.
Josh, however, was told by the birthday girl that he had the best shirt there. He does look awesome in pink, don't you think? And flamingos. The rhinestones, however, really seal the deal. There he is with our friend Zach, who is headed to (you guessed it) Oscar Mayer for the summer.
I'm filing this idea away somewhere in my brain and breaking it out again at an opportune time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Back At It

It is always nice to be home after going away for business for a couple of days! Sleeping in my own bed with Josh and Riley was a treat last night.

Some randomness from the past few days:

Jamie sent me "just 'cause" flowers :). What a sweet friend. Too bad they arrived on Tuesday after I had gone. BUT they're still amazingly beautiful and I love them.

I drove a hybrid car for the first time. Very cool. I totally want one. I do have to say that turning it on and off took some getting used to... definitely more of a computery feel than a car feel. Still pretty fun.

Josh was a sweetheart and unloaded the car for me yesterday. All morning I wondered where a certain bag - the one with samples, customer notes, catalogs, etc in it - had gone. Office? No. Downstairs somewhere? No. Car? No. Where HAD he put it? Then I checked the "backyard." It seems that he set it down next to the door to get something else inside, then forgot about it. No biggie. Except it POURED last night. Drenching rain. I now have file folders laying out to dry and certain catalogs/samples in the trash. Ha...

We're going on a date tonight! To my favorite place. YAY. Who cares that I'm still trying to lose those extra vacation pounds? I get to eat Chinese food tonight!

Anyone remember this post? (Probably not, as no one commented!) Well Sarah at Short Stop has done an incredible job of getting the word out about Cold Tangerines, which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. AND Shauna Neiquist did a Q&A with her today... a must read for any CT fan :). Head on over!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Quick Update

Things are BUSY around here, but wanted to give you an update on life!

1. Our ant problems are at an all-time high (or is it low?) In any case, they're bad. We came home from Target last night to find at least 300 teeming ants on our windowsill, wall, and counter-top. Gave me the HEEBY JEEBIES. If the apartment complex does not send out a professional this time around they are going to HEAR IT from me! Because really, that is ridiculous.

And I promise you it is not because we're THAT messy of people. During the incident last night the only dirty/food-ish things on the counter top were some of Riley's bones. No dirty dishes in the sink or normal food left on the counter. Nope.

I took a picture but it is way too gross to share.

2. We have started to play tennis again! Yay! Josh basically taught me how soon after we got married, and we've enjoyed playing together ever since. You know, active, outside, good exercise... all of that. And it is finally warm enough, even if the court is super wet from all the downpours we've gotten lately. Last night we went even though it was still raining. It just feels good to be outside.

Granted, tennis does tend to bring out one of my worst character flaws (fierce competitiveness coupled with a bad attitude when I'm not playing well) but so far this year I've managed to keep it together.

And now that we have Riley he just comes along and chases balls around. Fun for the whole family.

3. I'm off to Springfield and then St. Louis this week.

4. I think we've finally found somewhere to live, and it is in St. Joe and NOT in a hotel. Yay!