May 29, 2014

10 Outdoor Activities for this Summer

Dave and I are SO excited that the weather is turning nice and warm. We're ready to get out and do summertime activities!

Here are 10 things we're looking forward to doing this summer:

1. Mini-golfing
2. Picnics
3. Tennis (Well, in my case, it's more like "chase the ball"!)
4. Making footprints in the sand at the beach!
5. Blueberry picking (I haven't ever done this, so I'm excited!)
6. Canoeing
7. Hiking in the woods
8. Grilling food
9. Our very first garage sale!
10. Swimming

What about you? What are some of your favorite summertime activities?

May 26, 2014

Remembering Ritzi

Once upon a time, my family had a little dog named Ritzi.

He was a Bichon Frise.

Our veterinarian told us that Ritzi was the most emotional dog he'd EVER seen. He did have this tendency to make his feelings known.  :)

Ritzi looked so much like a toy dog that, one day, my sister and I took some of our stuffed animals and placed them all around him. He looks like he fits in, doesn't he (other than that glare on his face,

For all of his quirks and faults, I'd still recommend a Bichon to anyone as a good pet. I still miss the little guy!

May 24, 2014

World's Easiest PB Cookies!

When I came across this super-easy recipe for peanut butter cookies, I just had to try it!

It calls for just 3 ingredients. That's right, 3!

All you need is 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 egg. After I finished baking the cookies, I sampled a couple. SO good!

I brought some over to my parents' for their taste-testing opinion, too. They loved the flavor and were amazed when I told them that these were 3-ingredient cookies ... and there was no flour at all in them!

May 20, 2014

The Cure for a Bad Day

There's nothing that makes me smile on a bad day like ... a baby laughing!

So, turn around your own bad day by watching a few of my favorite laughing baby videos. #HappyTuesday

Is this baby scared or just plain entertained? He just can't seem to decide!!!

Daddy got another job rejection letter? I can take care of that!

This Wii golfing game is hilarious!!!

May 17, 2014

Finding God's Will

“How do you know what God’s will is?”

I asked my mom for her thoughts on this subject several years ago—just about the same time it came up during a college class. I thought that what I learned would be worth sharing here!

During my conversation with my mom, she kept coming back to describing a feeling of inner peace that she gets when she is following the will of God … even when all the details aren’t worked out or when she’s not personally convinced of the logic of the decision.

In one of my college classes, a professor pointed out something that I had never really thought about before: We like it when God opens doors for us, but we don’t like it when he closes them. It never really occurred to me before that a closed door is God’s leading. A possibility that dead-ends … usually leads me to think that I did something wrong or perhaps that I wasn’t listening well enough to God.

Acts 16:6-10 tells a story in which Paul is looking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul is prevented from going to Asia and Bithynia/Pontus (closed doors), although he tried to go there first. “ … they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas” (Acts 16:7b). It seems like Paul and his companions sort of went to Troas by default, since they had been prevented from going in other directions!

Next, Paul has a vision during the night of a man from Macedonia begging them to come to Macedonia. This was further direction from God. “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10). Wouldn’t it be nice if God spoke to us more often in visions? Or if he put a physical note under our pillows? Once in a while, it would be great if something like that would happen … but I guess knowing what is going to happen leaves very little room for trusting God.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

May 11, 2014

Our "Someday" Dog

Are you ready for an overdose of cute?!  :)

Dave and I are talking about getting a dog someday, and we both really like the idea of having a ... Havanese! They come in several colors and they're known for their sweet, playful temperament.

Just for fun, here are some photos of Havanese puppies. Adorable, aren't they?

May 8, 2014

How I Feel About Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms? When I was a little girl, they completely terrified me.

But then, my dad started bringing me out to our screened-in porch during the storms. He held me and talked calmly in his deep voice as the thunder boomed and the lightning flashed right before our eyes.

And you know what? I started to love thunderstorms ... and I still do.


May 6, 2014

Umpa's Grave

Dave went with me to visit my grandpa's grave over the weekend.

I always called him Umpa, though -- not Grandpa. That all started because my older brother, Todd, couldn't pronounce "Grandpa" when he was little. He said "Umpa" instead. And so the tradition of calling my grandpa "Umpa" was born.

Umpa died almost 9 years ago.

I've only visited his grave site once since the day the whole family gathered around to see his casket lowered into the grave. I always meant to go more because Umpa and I had a special connection. And I do miss him terribly.

You see, Umpa loved my spunk -- and that I was simply different than all of his other grandkids. He encouraged that independent spirit and spark in me. Umpa teased ALL of us grandkids. One of his favorite things to do was snitch a dinner roll off my plate when I wasn't looking. "Hey, you stole my roll!" I'd say, glaring at him. He'd always deny he had anything to do with my roll's disappearance. Then, I'd point. "It's right on your lap!!!" Umpa would let out his raspy laugh (the result of decades of smoking) and smile at me.

He also loved to tease me about spiders on the ceiling. "Look, Laurel! There's a spider!" I fell for that one the first few times, then learned that Umpa was just pulling my leg! He loved to tease all of us like that.

But my favorite memory of all is when I had a loose tooth. Observing me wiggling it, Umpa said, "I can take care of that loose tooth for you, Laurel. I've got big pliers in my garage, and I'll pull it right out!" "Okay," I said. Umpa stood, and I followed him out to the garage. He made a great show of rummaging through his toolbox and then brought forth a huge, rusty pair of pliers. "Open up!" he said, opening and closing the pliers "menacingly" as he stepped nearer to me. I simply dropped my mouth open. I knew Umpa would never hurt me! He came all the way up to my mouth with the pliers, then lowered them. Laughing, he placed the pliers back in the toolbox and we walked back indoors together.

In his later years, I would usually find Umpa sitting in his big recliner, watching Judge Judy and teasing their little white dog. (They named her Ginger.) "Ging!" he'd say, pointing out the window. "Squirrel! Look! Do you see it?" Whether there really was one of those furry creatures outside or not, Umpa's teasing never ceased to get Ginger all riled up and eager to get outside!

Dave and I talked about these memories and others as we stood by Umpa's graveside.

May 2, 2014

Food & Memories

Visiting grandparents! 

My grandparents on my dad's side had jars full of Hershey's kisses! (I loved chocolate so much as a child that my grandma even made me a brown sweater with "I love chocolate" stitched in letters across the front!) My grandma also made special "pineapple print" cookies. So good!

My grandparents on my mom's side had a "candy drawer" especially for grandkids in their kitchen. I remember that those colored sugar drops on white paper were always in there. (Does anyone else remember those? It was really hard to eat them without eating at list a few bits of paper along with the sugar!) Cheese curls and fruit roll-ups were common snacks there, too.

Road trip! 

These are foods that I remember eating on long road trips with my parents:

Strawberry Pop Tarts


I have fond memories of sitting with my whole family around the kitchen table late on cold winter nights, drinking rich hot chocolate and eating sweet treats -- like almond or lemon bars, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, almond "tree" cookies, and fudge.

Mom always made a special breakfast on Christmas morning. It always included little cups of frozen fruit (which we poured Sprite over just before eating) and sausage egg souffle.

These treats usually appeared in our stockings (or wooden shoes -- yeah, we're Dutch!):

  • Glass bottle of Coca-Cola
  • Wilhelmina Peppermints (again, very Dutch!)  :)
  • Chocolate "gold coins"

My birthday!

Growing up, we got to pick what we wanted to eat for our birthday dinner, and almost every year, I said, "Broccoli Cheese Soup!" (That was my favorite food as a kid.) My mom also made chocolate cake with butter-cream frosting. YUM!

What about you? Do you have any foods that are strongly connected to memories from your childhood?