Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Earning My Keep

I am so fortunate to be able to be home with boys! I truly see it as a HUGE blessing. But life is expensive (especially new transmissions and water heaters) so it's nice to help out a little with the family budget. Andy works really hard...picking up extra work at school, working through the summer at the pool...but he needs a life too...time to play with the boys.

I'm lucky to be paid a little for Kate's Kart...and I do some occasional babysitting. But...I've also had the opportunity to help by baking... lots....lots and lots. A company hires me to bake cookies for them several times a year for their corporate gifting. This weekend was time...and it was a larger order....48 dozen...that's almost 600 cookies.

Andy took the boys to Grandma and Ted's and I got busy. I went shopping for ingredients and started in...measuring and mixing and scooping and switching trays and counting and cleaning and bagging and counting and....17 hours later I was done with everything except boxing them.

200 chocolate chip mint! These turned out heavenly and were dangerous to have in my house!
and 200 oatmeal raisin!

and 196 M&M...I had grandiose plans to use patriotic M&M's...but couldn't find them! So yes, I picked out the red and blue and put those on top! Am I insane?

And then...they needed bagged...individually...all 600!

And then...they needed boxed...ready to send out to the customers...hopefully bringing a smile to lots of faces.

And then they needed taken to the UPS Store. The ladies at the UPS store actually remembered me from last October! "The cookie lady is back", they said.

It's a long weekend...a VERY LONG Saturday...but for the most part I enjoy it...I crank the radio and just sing and bake. And when the paycheck comes...it's all worth it...until my oven goes out from baking so much, but we'll just have to cross that bridge when (if) that happens. (I panicked on Saturday because it shut off...but I guess it just does that after 12 hours of being on!)

Overall it went well this time...NO BURNT cookies and very few that didn't pass "quality" control. Special thanks goes to Grandma and Ted for taking the boys...cause I really don't think their help would be worth it! Plus..thanks to Andy for his help with bagging and encouraging me and taste-tasting and allowing us to just grab a quick dinner that night!

Go Eat Ice Cream Day!

Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us...with and without your camera! It really does make my heart all warm and fuzzy when I see pics of people ALL OVER THE WORLD, taking the time to remember our little girl! Thank you for blessing us today.

God blessed us with a BEAUTIFUL day to celebrate Kate's birthday! It was a busy full day!
We had church in the morning and I had a meeting for VBS after church! The boys were at Grandma and Ted's so Andy took advantage of the opportunity to go out for a nice lunch and enjoy some conversation and NOT have anyone screaming or throwing food or complaining about the food!

Then...I had some cookie packing to do...we relaxed...put our feet up and enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home. After another quick meeting at church...we headed to Decatur to pick up the boys. We met at Zesto's and ate our ice cream. For some reason, the ice cream always tastes better on her birthday!

Then...home for bath and bedtime for all!

I can't imagine life with a 5 year old little girl? What would I have bought her for her birthday? Maybe Barbies? What would she have loved to do? What about her hair? Would it still be red? and fine? Would she wear pigtails? Would she love to dress up in cute little dresses or would she be outside kicking around a soccer ball with Seth? Who knows?

It still hits me every once in a while...a GIANT wave of grief...the tears come...they go...but they are there. Sometimes it just isn't fair!

But then...I remember the impact she is making through her little rolling karts...and some of the pain goes away. And I remember the wonderful birthday she is having in heaven...and some of the pain goes away. And I remember how sick she was and know she is healed...completely...and some of the pain goes away. But...some of the pain is there...and it always will be....and no matter how many books or how much ice cream or how many smiles...it's still there and always will be...cause I'm her mommy and always will be!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Declaration---4th Annual Go Eat Ice Cream Day

Tomorrow, Sunday, June 26 would have been Kate's 5th birthday. It's still hard to imagine...can't believe she would be that big...can't believe she's been gone that long. As you know, she LOVED ice cream. This is one of our favorite memories of her, even in congestive heart failure...Kate found so much joy in life...especially ice cream.

So...we will continue the tradition and declare Sunday as GO EAT ICE CREAM DAY! It it our 4th annual and Andy and I can honestly say it warms our hearts to have so many people celebrating Kate with us. It's like a giant world-wide birthday party!

In continuing with tradition, we are inviting all of our blog friends and readers and friends and family to join us in celebrating Kate's birthday...let's make it her biggest party yet.

All you need to do is eat ice cream....have some at home, go out for a special treat...whatever works into your schedule and TAKE A PICTURE! Then...send them to me (aklayman4atgmaildotcom) or tag me in facebook. I will put them all together into one slide show. It truly makes me smile...to see so many enjoying life and ice cream in memory of Kate.

You can see former year's slide shows at the following links:

1st annual

2nd annual

3rd annual

Thanks so much...on a day when I should be planning parties and making pink cupcakes...I do find some much joy in checking my inbox for pictures of families just enjoying life...together...with a special treat..for a special girl.

Happy Birthday sweet little girl...your legacy is CHANGING this world!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grand Haven...Wed/Thursday

Well...with the storm Tuesday night...came rough waters on Lake Michigan. The water was super choppy....and the red flag meaning NO SWIMMING was raised! Bummer! So...we ate a leisurely breakfast in the RV and then headed to the park entrance to catch the trolley into town! We waited and waited...and then realized that it probably didn't start until 11 or noon...so once again...we hiked it back into town (all 2.5 miles....Seth was such a trooper, so proud of him and all the walking we did). We walked to the marina...watched the boats (not many were out) and found a playground to play on! We wandered through the farmer's market...there were the most beautiful hanging baskets for only $10...wished we had a way to get them back, cause I'm not huffing back 2.5 miles with a giant basket!) Decided to grab some gyros at a little place and ate downtown at some little roadside tables and then headed to play Putt Putt. It was Grant's first time...he did "okay" He lost interest and was much more interested in changing ball colors, stomping in puddles and roaming onto other player's courses!

Well, of course we had to grab some ice cream! This was a local place that made their own...YUMMY!

Then...fortunately, the trolley was running so we were able to ride that back to the campground.
It was open in the back and Seth loved it! As with all tourist rides...the driver was full of corny jokes!

(This pic is about 1 minute before Grant was OUT! That was a big day for little guys!)

Time for Grant to take a nap (or finish the one he started on the trolley)...so Seth and I headed down to the beach to explore the action! There were crazy (fools) out there surfing and jumping from the pier into the water! But..the sun had come out and I could tell Seth just wanted to play. So...I said, only with a lifejacket...and ONLY to your knees. Back to the RV (which was only 100 yards away to change!) He was lovin it...jumping the waves!

Soon came Grant and daddy It wasn't long until Grant started venturing to the water...he wasn't happy with me when I put on his lifejacket! He just sat and pouted for like 10 minutes

But then...he began to play and decided to just throw water on Seth.
I could take pictures of my boys at the beach all day long! By this time it was getting really cold...the boys were shivering! Back to get cleaned up, which was no easy task with the amount of sand on these boys. Made an easy supper in the RV and then went for a walk!

We walked on the pier...it made me a nervouse nelly! It was totally dry and safe in the middle, but the waves were splashing up on the sides! There were still (fools) out in the water...some doing some serious jet skiing!

Decided to walk into town one more time...Grant discovered a new way to enjoy the sand....

And Seth was jumping on the rocks...like he did everynight! But then...tragedy! He fell! He couldn't walk..."both legs were broken"...he couldn't go ANY further! So...we called it an early night! He hobbled back to the RV and they watched a movie! Andy and I had hoped to sit outside the RV and watch the waves...but Grant chose to take 2 hours to fall asleep (which meant we had to stay with him on his bed, or he would climb out).

Thursday morning we woke to rain, choppy waters, COLD and a RED FLAG. It was time to go! We packed up, took one more little walk (it was freezing) and headed home! It was actually nice to be home at a decent hour, get the RV cleaned and returned and get over 1/2 the laundry done.

So...it started out rough...and ended a little sooner than we thought...we had to deal with broken equipment...and only had 1 really nice day on the beach...but overall...it was a fun trip! Time together...time just the 4 of us. Life is good!

Grand Haven...Tuesday

We woke up after a good night's sleep...Grant actually slept in till 8:15! After a easy breakfast we headed down to the beach! The boys were so excited! Seth jumped right into the water. Yikes...it was a little cold!

We spent a couple hours just playing in the fun and sun! Even though it was cold...the water was bearable, especially when the sun was shining.

We took a break for lunch...ate in the camper and then we had to move sites (the campground is booked 6 months in advance...the only way we could get a reservation was to move sites). After getting re-situated...Andy and Seth rode their bikes downtown to do a little shopping and had some coffee and frozen drinks! Grant and I stayed back and napped!

Once the boys came back...Seth and I headed back to the beach and Grant and Andy joined us after the Grant woke up.

We had to cut it a little short as it looked like a bad storm was rolling in! While at the showers, the rangers came around and posted notices about hail, and wind and tornadoes! YIKES....

Well, fortunately, nothing came besides a few sprinkles. After dinner in the camper, we walked back into town for our nightly ice cream. Of course, we had to stop and explore the bells, boats and monuments.

Back to the RV, and Andy stayed back and put a VERY tired little guy to bed! Seth and I rode our bikes back into town for the lighted fountain show. It's the largest in the world! It's about 20 minutes of synchronized music and lights and water. Seth loved it...and it was fun just sitting on the hill chatting with my 7 year old! Of course, we chose the longest day of the year to see it, so it didn't even start until 10:10...so once we got back...Seth hit the sack HARD! But hey...something did go our way...as it started storming once we got back safe and sound in the RV! It was kinda cool to watch the lightning over the lake!

Grand Haven--Day 1

We were fortunate AGAIN to be able to borrow my parent's RV and take a 4 day mini vacation up to Lake Michigan. We made reservations months ago to stay at Grand Haven State Park. We had been there a few times before and think it's kinda a fun place since the park is right on Lake Michigan. It's more like a parking lot, than a campground...but it makes for a fun trip to be able to walk right outside your door onto Lake Michigan.

We left around 10:30 and stopped in McDonald's/Arby's parking lot to grab a quick bite to eat...we ate in the camper...when I put the milk and ketsup away...the door fell off the fridge! YIKES! PANIC! Well...after Andy confirmed it was broken, we called home! Mom got me a number for a local RV center...we went there and the guy said he didn't keep that part in stock. Then...he gave us the number of a couple other places in Grand Rapids (where we would be going through)...and they also didn't keep it in stock.

So...we turned around and headed home with a VERY disappointed 7 year old. I had to chuckle...as he said, "next stop...home" with the saddest look on his face. I called home again and mom convinced us to go anyway! So...we bought a cooler and made due "the old fashioned" way with ice. After about 6 hours and what seemed like 10...we finally made it to the campground.

We got unloaded and got ready to bike into town for dinner! Well...not with a broken bike trailer. Evidently it got broken over the winter...bummer! So...off we go, walking into town with Grant's stroller with a bum wheel! We found a place...had a decent dinner and walked around town. We stopped for ice cream...a favorite along the boardwalk along the channel.

Grant eats ice cream by sticking the WHOLE cone in his face!

Did some exploring around downtown

Watched some LARGE freighters come into the channelWalked along the pier...all the way down to see the lighthouses...Lots of people fishing and enjoying the beautiful night and sunset!those white things in the background are the campers at the State Park

Then back to the camper...got all snuggled in and prayed for a better day tomorrow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Wow, I can't believe it's over! So much planning, emailing, organizing. We had a committee of 7 who worked their TAILS off planning our 3rd annual ice cream social. We changed venues this year and added alot of new things...I was nervous that it would come together...I was scared to death it was going to rain (even though our new venue allowed us to move inside).

Well...our little Kate didn't let us down. She had a little chat up in heaven and we had a gorgeous day. Sunny, a little overcast with a slight breeze and NO RAIN! We have gotten reports of rain all over the city. Some said it was raining at their home when they left. We had several tracking the storm on their phones....at 3:40 we panicked...took down tents and took the book fair inside. NOT A DROP OF RAIN!

It was an amazing day....really our only issue was that the ice cream was TOO hard. Otherwise everything went smoothly.

The book fair was a huge success...we were able to get over $800 in free books plus over 100 books were donated to us just from the book fair. Plus...a whole double sided Kart of books were donated by people who came.

We branched out and hired a company that has small amusement type rides. They were a huge success. The moonwalks are always a hit! What is it about little carnival games and cheap prizes and suckers...the kids went crazy.

We added concessions...hotdogs, chips and pop were a huge hit! The Live Entertainment was excellent...Madeline's Toybox sang children's songs...Peto did Magic and The Conglomernotes played jazz/swing.

What a day...our little Kate has made such an impact on this community. It was so heartwarming to see and hear stories about families who heard about Kate's Kart while in the hospital.

I am amazed at volunteers who give of their time...friends and strangers. We really couldn't have done it without them...and for grandparents who wrangle the boys...and for Andy and all his patience with me and willingness to do whatever I asked. And...to our church who graciously allowed us to have it there and provided support for whatever we needed.

I only have a few pics I took...so anxious to see the professional pics taken by our photographer...I will be sure to post those when we get them.

Clifford is always a huge hit! I am so thankful for those volunteers (all teenagers) who were willing to don the big furry costume!

Grant LOVED the bubbles...

and playing the games...Seth was such a good helper this year.

and he LOVES his suckers...even more than the ice cream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Water Wars

Last Saturday was the last Upward Football Game! It was a quick 8 weeks...but I definitely saw a lot of progress with the boys! Andy worked really hard to teach them some new skills and give all 9 boys an opportunity to find their gifts.

In the afternoon, Upward celebrated the season with a Water Wars! Both boys had a blast...it was fun to watch them just being kids!

Grant was loving the puddles...he just kept jumping and playing! He LOVES the water!Gotta love the snowcones! He was BLUE from head to toe!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Going TOO Fast!

2005-- 1 year 2006-- 2 years old

2007 --- 3 years old

2008 --- 4 years old

2009 -- 5 years old

2010 -- 6 years old

2011 -- 7 years old!