Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015: Year in Review

Wow!  I can't believe that 2015 is almost over - just a few days left.  To conclude the year I am going to write a brief year in review.  This year has definitely been a year of changes - and changes for the better, I'd say.

January:  I was working at Broad Street Cafe and living with my parents.  I had a big birthday celebration and enjoyed turning 27.  Here's a pic from my birthday get together.

February:  February 4th was when baby Ayla Mae Carlson was born!  What a joyous time that was.  My parents and I got to go out and visit her when she was one week old.  What a blessing!

March:  March was the month of my interviews at Area Agency, and finally starting my job as a care manager social worker on March 30th!  No more Broad Street - I was finally on to bigger and better things!  We also had a baby shower for Nikki and I was able to get together with old friends.

April:  April was the start of my new job, and when I did Weight Watchers.  I lost 8 pounds, so that was exciting!  We had Easter dinner with the Margols and I was blessed with the opportunity to go see Sufjan Stevens in concert at Calvin with some friends.

May:  In May we celebrated Mother's Day with my wonderful mother, and I also attempted to run a 5K.  I didn't do so well because I did not train one bit, but at least I tried!

June:  In June I got into the sports!  I played tennis a couple of times with my friend Kayla, and I even joined a group of guys from Whirlpool and played soccer with them once.  I was terrible and it was downpouring - but it was the first time I'd played soccer since high school!  I had fun. 

July:  July began with a fun visit from my friend Beth on fourth of July weekend, but was interrupted by the death of my Aunt Dianne.  She worked at Area Agency same as me but stopped working quickly after I started.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a quick process and she was gone early July.  It's been hard on all of us.  But we know she's in a better place (cliche, but true).  Also, some family came in to visit from out East, so it was good to see them as well.  July ended with a camping trip with my old small group from Grand Rapids.  That was a blast and I had so much fun!

August:  In August I began hanging out with some co-workers and I went wine tasting for the first time!  Though I'm not a big fan of wine, it was a lot of fun!  The Christian Reformed Church had a 50 year celebration which was fun to see old pastors and old members of the church.  Then the best of all, Ben and Kristen and Ayla came out for a visit!

September:  In September I finished up a 3 month training program and ran my fastest 5K ever!  I trained with a group of like 50 people and it was so fun!  I don't remember my time, but I was super proud of all of the hard work that I did.  In early September I also started going to the First Church of God's young adult group called House again.  I got connected with some really cool people; that was fun.  There I met Ashley, my eventual roommate.  We began painting our apartment.  I also went to my first wine and canvas!

October:  In October, Ashley, my awesome roommate and I, moved into our little downtown Broad Street apartment!  We absolutely love it!  It's walking distance to downtown and the beach and (after it was painted) is super cute and cozy!  We love it.  And I love rooming with her - she's great.  Also in October we had a mini Calvin girls reunion.  Kels came in from Indiana and LoBo came in from California!  It was so good to see everyone and connect.  Rach couldn't make it - so that was a bummer.  But we had fun.  And we got to see Nik's baby, Riven David.  Also in October I got to hang out more with the girls from House.  What a blast!  And I played Ultimate frisbee with a group of people from House on Monday nights too - fun!

November:  Toward the middle of October and throughout November, I started talking to this cool guy named John.  We had a lot of fun getting to know each other.  I also went bowling with some coworkers!  That was fun too!

December:  John and I became an official couple.  Yay!  I had a bunch of Christmas parties including some with his family, my family, his coworkers, and my coworkers.  Christmas was a great celebration this year (despite the lack of snow).  Soon we will be celebrating the New Year!  I just can't believe how time has flown.

All in all, it was a (mostly) great year!  I am so happy and content and yet also ready for whatever new 2016 brings me.  I praise God for his many blessings and I hope to serve him in the coming year however he leads me.  Sending you my love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Busy busy bee!

I have THE cutest niece in the whole world.  Check out this pic of Ben (my brother) and little Ayla being silly.  

I love it.  I miss them so much!  I don't know when I will get to see them next - which makes me sad.  But thank goodness for technology and being able to send videos and pics and being able to Skype/FaceTime!  Here's their Christmas picture of the little nugget with an adorable crocheted hat that Kristen (my sister-in-law) made.

John was in town last weekend and we were busy!  On Thursday I had a work Christmas party with all of the other care managers at one of my coworker's homemade log cabin house (VERY cool).  Here's a selfie stick shot of me with my coworkers, and John too!  Haha.  He felt very self-conscious about this pic because he thought the other guys there were going to join in, but they didn't.  Love it.

The party was a blast.  John is such a sweetheart.  He got me the following - just because!  

Then on Friday we went bowling.  We had bets for each of our three games.  The first game - the winner, for every ten points above the loser, earned a 5 minute back/shoulder massage.  I lost by 29 points, so I owed John a 10 minute massage.  I've done 5 of the 10 so far...fun fun.  In the second game, the loser had to peel the potatoes at dinner - which I had to do....but the third game, and most important game, if John lost, he had to read ALL of the Harry Potter books.  And HE LOST!  Wahoo!  I got 133 points (my very best score ever!) and he got I think 124 or something close.  So I am very excited - he started reading the first book last night.

Then Friday night we made meatloaf and mashed potatoes and played Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit on a double date with Mike, my good friend, and Ashley, my roommate.  It was fun!  I haven't read or watched HP since 2013 so I was a bit rusty, but it was fun none-the-less.

Saturday John and I drove up to Grand Rapids suuuuper early (we left at 7am!) and met some of my favorites for breakfast.  We met Nikki, Mike, Em Paauw, and Beth at Marie Catrib's and had a great time.  After that John and I walked around the mall a bit.  And then as part of my Christmas present - we got a couple's facial together at Design 1.  It was glorious.  So relaxing.  I loved the steam machine and the scalp massage.  Oh man.  Then I got my make up done and my hair cut and styled by my good friend Lisa.  I think I might grow my hair out now, but for now, it's short.  Here's a selfie to show the curls.

Then we met up with Danny and Christina and their little girl Lilliana.  We made Christmas cookies and then the adults went and grabbed some dinner at The Electric Cheetah.  Then we went to The Meanwhile and played Spot It and had some great conversation.  It was a super fun night.  I'm glad they got to meet and get to know John.

Sunday was relaxing.  We went to church and then out to lunch with everyone from church.  Then John napped while I went through my mail/bills.  Then we grabbed root beers/sarsaparilla at Bound for Freedom and played games.  John was awesome at Bananagrams!

Then after playing games we went to Grace Lutheran and walked around the Living Nativity.  That was really neat.  Then we grabbed some Qdoba and went back to my place and watched The Sound of Music sing-along.  Haha.  That was fun!

We sure make a cute couple; don't we?

And Monday this week. my team got third place in Trivia at The Buck.  Wahoo!  That was exciting.  I didn't contribute much of anything, but it was a fun time.  Last night I had dinner at my parents', then I went home and blasted some Christmas music while making cookies and wrapping presents.  Such fun!  I can't believe Christmas is only two days away.  Man oh man this year has absolutely flown by!  

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!  May God's love and blessings be evident in your life and may you enjoy this time of celebration with family and friends.  Love to you all!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy days

Well, to update you from the last post, I am feeling much better!  So that is good.  I went in to my supervisor's office today to ask for some feedback and constructive criticism on how I'm doing and she said (and I quote) "I couldn't be any happier with the quality of your work and your enthusiasm."  So that made me feel really good.  She said in the new year they will be doing official reviews but for now, not to worry.  Yay!

Also, another update - I have a man in my life!  His name is John (yes, another John, haha!).  I met him through my friend Kathryn.  It's her husband, Alex's friend from from college.  They all went to Michigan State.  We've known of each other for a couple of years but only recently (in October) reconnected at Kathryn and Alex's house warming party.  We became "official" this past weekend.  So that's exciting!

He is a data processor for Dawn Foods and lives in Dexter, Michigan near Ann Arbor.  So it's like 2.5 hours away which kind of stinks - but that's okay.  He's super sweet and kind and he's kind of a big dork - which I absolutely love.  He's funny and smart and has dashing good looks.  He plays guitar, loves to read, and loves to watch MSU sports.  He's a pretty cool guy and I'm pretty lucky to have him in my life.  :)

We went to Indy for the State game.
Not much else is new other than that.  I am looking forward to Christmas and getting a couple of days off of work.  My uncle and cousins will be in Minnesota so I'm sad that we won't get to spend any time with them.  I'm going to John's family Christmas this weekend, and he's coming over the evening of Christmas day to have dinner with me and my parents.  That should be fun.

What do y'all have planned for the coming weeks?  Anything fun?  Feel free to motivate me to work out and eat healthily.  I've been slacking in that department.  Hope all is well!  Love to you my friends.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I feel like blah

Do you ever just feel like blah?  That's how I feel today.  Nothing bad, nothing good.

I've been discouraged with my weight loss, or lack thereof.  I have been discouraged with my love life, or lack thereof.  I have been discouraged with my finances, or lack thereof.

But to battle that, I am going to write a list of a few things I am thankful for, what with Thanksgiving a mere week away!

New friends
Old friends
Comfy couches
Movie nights
New apartment
The feel after a good run
Lindsey Stirling
New iPhone
Warm weather
My family
Good job
Comfy sweatshirts
Inspirational speakers
Good books
Lazy days
My adorable niece
Game nights

That's all I've got for now, but I feel like it's a pretty good list.  I think I'm gonna go for a run or workout somehow tonight.  Something to get my endorphins kicking. Maybe that will fix my case of the blahs.

This weekend I've got "Friendsgiving" up in Grand Rapids.  That should be fun.  And I have a three day work week next week, so that will be good.  Anywho...onward and forward!  Love to y'all!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Your Story Matters #storylineconf

So I just got back from a conference in Chicago with some people from my church.  The conference was called Storyline.  It was a two day conference about how your life, i.e. your story, matters.  There were numerous amazing speakers including Don Miller, Shauna Niequist, and Bob Goff.  Even Brady from The Bachelorette was there.  Haha!

The speakers were so powerful.  I think the main thing I took away from the conference was that we ought to live a life that is worthy of telling a story - our story.  We aren't to avoid conflict, we are to embrace it because that is where change happens.  We talked about finding our purpose and striving toward it.  We talked about finding our voice, finding ourself.  It was such a powerful conference, I wish y'all coulda been there.

One of the things included in the conference was a life plan with eight modules to help you analyze your life and figure out where you want to go and who you want to be.  I just finished working my way through the modules.  One of the first exercises was to list the high and low points in your life and give them numerical values between -10 and 10.  Then we had to create a line graph.  It was very interesting to see the highs and lows of my life in line graph form.

Another thing I came away with was that one of my goals is to share my story, the important pieces of my life that have shaped who I am.  I'm not sure in what format I want to do that yet, but I feel like it's important and that I could really connect with people through it, and maybe even help someone else through it.  I haven't even shared my stories on here.  So I'm going to think and pray about how I'm going to share it, but I feel the tug from God to share it.  I'll keep ya posted on what I decide.

A big change in my life that is starting tomorrow is that I'm changing churches.  I have felt the need for this for a long time, and have been encouraged by wise friends to do so, but I am leaving the church I grew up in and am going to attend a different church (First Church of God) in my hometown.  I just didn't feel like I was getting much out of my old church and that there wasn't much community for me there either.  I'm going to miss seeing all the people that I grew up with, but I feel like I will grow so much more at First Church.  So that starts tomorrow, and I'm excited/nervous for that.  Keep me in your prayers if you think of it.

I'm still struggling with my weight.  That's another thing I'd covet prayers for.  I have not been motivated to eat very healthfully and I haven't been prioritizing time to work out.  I need to find a buddy or two to hold me accountable.  I really want to be at a healthy weight where I feel good and feel confident too.  Again, please pray for me.

Speaking of eating healthy, ha ha....I ate this really good burger last night in Chicago at a place called The Lucky Monk.  It had peanut butter mousse, bananas, and bacon on it!  It was so good.  Haha.

Well, I guess that's all for now.  Leave me any prayer requests you might have.  I would love to cover you in prayer.  Thanks guys!  Hope y'all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life is good

Hey y'all!  How are you doing?  I'm hoping all is well by you.  Life is good for me.  I've been keeping busy with friends and loved ones and man oh man, life is good!

The move is complete.  Ashley and I have been in the apartment for about two and a half weeks now.  I only have a few complaints, haha.  Our upstairs neighbors have the loudest cat I've ever heard in my entire life.  It runs from room to room and sounds like a large dog.  Oh man!  It's so active!  And you can hear every move our neighbors make.  Thankfully both Ashley and I are heavy sleepers, so that's good.  But other than that, I'm loving it!  I have yet to cook an actual meal but hopefully that will happen tonight or tomorrow night.  We still have a bit of painting left to do, but we'll get there...eventually.  I need to locate a desk for my room, and some wall art.  But things are coming together nicely.  I'm really enjoying having Ashley as a roomie.  We hang out sometimes, but we have our personal down time too.  We make good roommates and we're becoming better friends.  So that's been fun.

This past weekend was a complete blast!  I was in GR because my best friend from college, Lo, came into town from California!  And we had a college girlfriend reunion!  Here's all us ladies after we got back from going out to dinner:

Lo, Lels, Beth, Nik, and me
So Friday, some of us went to help Nikki with flowers for her brother's wedding.  Then Friday night we got semi-dressed up and went to an amazing tapas place downtown called San Chez Bistro.  It was delicious.  Saturday we slept in and made a pancake breakfast.  The pancakes were really weird but good...they were made of eggs, cottage cheese, and oats!  Surprisingly, they were really delicious!  We added chocolate chips, and of course I put peanut butter on mine too, haha.

Saturday afternoon we went shopping and then headed to the guys' house for taco soup and a bonfire.  We were up until 2 am and had such a good time catching up.  Here's a pic of us at the guys.

The whole gang!
Sunday we went to church and then went our separate ways.  It was so good to see everyone and have a  mini reunion.  We missed Rach though - she couldn't get off of work and she lives in Colorado.  So that was a bummer.  I would love to go and visit her sometime!  Maybe I can start saving up for that trip soon.

I've been going to play Ultimate frisbee on Mondays with my young adult church group.  That's been really fun.  This week we even played in the dark with glow sticks to differentiate the teams and to locate the disc.  It was a blast!  Afterward we all went to one of the guy's houses and watched How I Met Your Mother.  It was a great way to start off the week.

Tuesday nights I have House (the young adult small group) where we discuss the Bible and how it impacts us.  Then afterward we usually go to dinner as well, which is always a good time.  Every other Thursday, I meet with my friend Kayla and we're discussing the book "The Celebration of Discipline."  It's been good so far.  This week we're talking about the discipline of study.  Should be interesting.

For the first time in a long time, I have no plans this weekend!  I'm not going out of town, which will be nice.  I'm excited to relax in my apartment and just hang out.  It's one of the girls from House's birthday, so we might do something Friday, but other than that - freedom!  Haha.  Can't wait.

As far as guys. I've been going on "dates" or hang outs or whatever, but no sparks have flown.  So I think I'm going to kinda take a break from pursuing guys for a while.  If I get asked out I'm not necessarily gonna decline, but I've stopped using my dating apps and (this is going to sound so cliche) but I'm going to work on me for a bit.  I need to work on my relationship with God, and my physical and emotional self.  So that's just what I'm going to do!

Work is going well.  I'm keeping busy with clients and the various crisis situations that arise.  I'm liking it still, and I'm absolutely loving my co-workers.  So that's been a huge blessing.  

Well, I hope all is well with you.  Thanks for reading.  Have a blessed Wednesday!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The move is coming!

Well, first things first...I feel famous!  I was posted on my favorite blogger's Motivational Monday post!  Click here to see the post!  I was/am so excited!  Haha.

Also, my and Ashley's apartment is coming along nicely.  I'm hoping to have my bedroom and closet finished today so that I can start moving some of my stuff in on Saturday.  We just have to finish up painting the trim.  It feels like the painting will never end, but we're definitely making progress!

Did I ever mention the BBG workout before?  It stands for Bikini Body Guide and is created by an Australian trainer named Kayla Itsines.  It's a 12 week interval training program that I started a couple of months ago and only made it through the first four weeks.  Well, due to finances, I had to cancel personal training this week - so I'm planning on starting the BBG on Monday!  It's a PDF file that you open and follow, and I sent it to a printer and had it bound into a book so that I can take it to the gym!  I'm super pumped and also a bit nervous.  It's a pretty intense workout.  We shall see.  I covet any encouragement you've got over the next twelve weeks!  I really want to make it through the whole thing.  :)  Some of the BBG before and after shots are so inspiring!  Click here to check out her blog and see some of the transformations!

What else what else...oh next week Saturday & Sunday I've got an uber busy weekend.  On Saturday I'm starting the morning off by going to a basket weaving class in Hudsonville.  Then I'm getting my hair cut.  Then I'm going to my friend Kim's open house style house warming party, then I'm going to my friend Kathryn's house warming party too!  Then on Sunday I'm going to ArtPrize with my friends from House (young adult Tuesday night church group).  Should be a good and busy weekend!  I'm excited!

Welp, that's all I've got for now.  Back to work.  :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

No love lost

So my update on the guy from Chicago is now null and void.  Things have come to a conclusion.  And ya know what?  There is no love lost, and I am a-okay with that.  I'm not stressin about meeting someone.  I know that God will provide in his time, if he chooses to do so.  And for now, I've got a pretty sweet life!  I'm not complaining.  I'm back on my dating sites (eHarmony and Coffee Meets Bagel) and I'm game for blind dates if anyone wants to set me up.  Haha.  Life is good.

I've been painting my new apartment with...my new roommate!  I'm so excited.  Her name is Ashley and she's super sweet and fun.  We met at House - a local Christian young adult group that meets on Tuesday nights.  The apartment had dark brown walls in the living room and dining room, and the bedrooms/bathroom/kitchen aren't much better.  So we're in the process of painting everything a light gray.  It's a ton of work and I feel like I've been painting for ages - but I think it's going to look really nice when it's all said and done.  I'm hoping to start moving in next week!

Me, Mike, and Ashley, with my dad behind me!
I start personal training this week Wednesday with a trainer at South Shore Health and Racquet Club named Beau.  I hope it goes well!  I'm looking forward to having some direction and accountability.  I've been successfully counting my calories for the past week (though I have been going over my limit..) but at least I'm working at it and I'm more aware of what I'm eating!  So that's good.

Last week Friday I went and saw Newsies on Broadway with my friends Christina and Lisa.  It was a complete BLAST!  At first I was a little disappointed because it's quite different than the movie, but once I got over that - I absolutely loved it!  I even bought an official Newsies hat and I think I'm going to be a newsie for Halloween this year if I do anything.  Haha.  So that's fun.

Lisa, Christina and I in the news!

Also, last week I got the awesome opportunity to meet up with my friend Sarah from high school and meet her adorable 6 week old baby girl, Madelyn Louise!  It was fun to catch up, and Maddie is just so precious!

Isn't Maddie just so gorgeous?!  And Sarah too ;)
Did I tell you I've been reading The Celebration of Discipline with my friend Kayla?  It's been pretty good.  We're meeting every other week to discuss a chapter, and we're only on chapter three or four this week (I don't remember which) - the chapter on fasting.  It's been enlightening!  I'm enjoying it.  And I ordered some books from Banner Book House (local Christian book store) that should be coming in this week.  I got "Scary Close" by Donald Miller about being authentic in relationships and friendships.  And I got "Savor" a devotional by Shauna Niequist.  I love her writing.  I'm looking forward to reading both!  And I'm currently reading "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari which is a book about just that, modern romance, which a funny twist.  It's been good so far, though definitely not a page turner.

That's about it for me.  Hope all is well with y'all!  Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rotary Pumpkin 5K SUCCESS!

Alright guys, I did it - I successfully ran the Rotary Pumpkin 5K this past weekend...WITHOUT WALKING!  I was so excited!  And I got my best 5K time (for me) ever!  32:03.  Wahoo!

My team - team four!

The whole C25K group!
Then this past weekend, I went to Grand Rapids for a girls' night.  I met up with my friend Christina and some of her friends and we first watched some Buffy (wow it's been too long since I've seen that show!) and then we went to Stella's downtown and danced for like 3 or 4 hours.  It was a blast!  Then on Sunday I went and saw Kathryn's new house in Spring Lake.  It's gorgeous and we had a fun time catching up.

Also, I have some exciting new news...I've been on a couple of dates with a guy from Chicago!  That's been fun.  We met via eHarmony.  For the first date I went to Chicago and we spent over nine hours eating and drinking and being merry.  Haha.  I got a blister from walking around so much.  He's so easy to talk to and he's really nice.  I'll keep you posted if/as things progress.

Oh my gosh and guess what?!  I'm moving into an apartment in the next couple of weeks!  I am BEYOND excited!  It is downtown St. Joe on Broad Street so I will be able to walk to the library and the beach and the local tavern.  Oh man.  It's a two bedroom (but one of the bedrooms is so tiny it's not really appropriate for two people...so I'm going to use it as an office/craft room).  I'm going to be painting the entire apartment a light gray with white trim, so I've got some work to do before I move in - but I cannot wait!  House warming party anyone?!  :)

Newsies is coming up this Friday so I'll be traveling back to GR for that.  Can't wait.  And Lo will be in GR on October 16th for a couple of days.  Can't wait for that either.  So much exciting stuff going on!

I had my orientation at the gym with the trainer last week (at 5:30 in the morning no less - it was waaay too early!).  I just got situated with all the machines and learned where the seat adjustments should be.  I did 10 reps on each machine and have been super sore for days.  Oh man.  I definitely need to incorporate more strength training in my workouts.  I'm hoping to strength train 2-3 times a week, and do cardio 2-3 times a week.  We'll see.  Anyone want to volunteer to keep me accountable?  Pretty please?!  :)

What's new with you guys?  Anything fun?  Hope all is well!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Family visit and then some

Ben, Kristen, and Ayla got to come out and visit for a couple of days this past week!  What a blast we had.  They left Tuesday morning and I miss them already.  We had a bonfire.  We went to the beach.  Kristen and I crocheted like crazy.  We had great food.  It was so much fun!

Ben, Kristen, and Ayla on the pier

Ayla and I with matching crocheted headbands I made!
What else is new....I made a list of goals for the month of September.  That's been kinda fun.  One of them is to drink half of my weight in ounces of water each day.  So say I weighed 100 lbs (ha!) then I'd drink 50 ounces.  I feel like I've been going to the bathroom every ten seconds!  Goodness.

Since my last post, I joined a running club.  We run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  It's a Couch to 5K type program and we're training for a 5K on September 19th.  I'm pretty excited.  They divided us up into teams and I love my team.  We had a group challenge yesterday and my team won!  We get to split $100 as the prize.  The team with the highest percentage of people who actually complete the 5K gets to split $1000.  So we're hoping to have everyone there.  I also joined South Shore Health and Racquet Club.  I've worked out there a couple of times, and I'm hoping to start some personal training soon.  My friend got engaged and I'm reading a poem in her wedding, so I really want to lose the weight by May, which is when her wedding is!  Here's to lots of hard work!  (and I made a list of rewards for when I reach each 5 pounds lost, and if/when I reach my goal weight, my reward is visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  I CANNOT WAIT!  Hahahaha).

Ben ordered me some supplies to extend my camping hammock so that hopefully it will reach greater distances.  I'm looking forward to hammocking in the yard, curling up with a good book and relaxing.  Should be good!  Can't wait to get the materials.

My work is hosting a "Penny War" competition and there are teams that decorate jars.  Then people put money in the jars as a way to vote for their favorite, and whoever earns the most money wins!  My team is doing a Hunger Games themed jar.  I'm supposed to create an origami mockingjay.  Haha.  Should be fun!

I cannot wait until September 25th because I get to go see Newsies on Broadway in Grand Rapids!  Hooray!  And then in October, Lo is coming to visit from California.  I cannot wait to see her either!  I've got some fun stuff coming up.

Well, alas, that is all I've got for now.  Thanks for reading!  Love to you all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Friends, Family, MyFitnessPal, and ZombiesRun

Helloooo blog-o-sphere!  It's been a while!  How are you all?

Life here is (for the most part) good.  One very sad update is that my Aunt Dianne ended up passing away on the 4th of July.  The good thing is that she wasn't in any pain, and my mom was able to be there with her when she passed - praying and singing.  So that was a huge blessing.  If you think of it, just continue to pray for my Uncle Ken and my cousins Brook and Erin.  This is definitely a tough time for them and will be for a long while.

I have had some fun this past month.  My good friend from college, Beth, was able to come and visit for a couple of days!  We went to the beach, we went to an amazing breakfast spot called The Mason Jar, and we were able to watch the 4th of July fireworks!  It was so good to catch up with her and have some quality girl time.  I love that girl!

At Silver Beach on the fourth, waiting for the fireworks to start.

Then a couple of weeks later I was able to drive to little old Kouts, Indiana to visit my good friend from college, Kelsey!  I taught her Dutch Blitz and we played that a TON.  We went to church, we went out to eat, we took naps together, her family came over for dinner one night - it was SO good to see her!

Love her!

Then this past weekend I was able to see my Aunt and Uncle from Chicago, and my cousins from Boston!  We had dinner together and just talked and caught up.  It was a good time.

Pete, Holly, Mom, Dad, Uncle John, Aunt Janet, and myself

So (for the most part) July has been a fantastic month!  In other news, I've stopped doing Weight Watchers...my subscription ends next week and I just kinda fell off the bandwagon.  But yesterday I transitioned smoothly to using MyFitnessPal.  They've allotted my 1200 calories daily.  Including my exercise yesterday, I was under the calorie amount - which was exciting!  The app said that if I stick to that, I will be down around 9 pounds in five weeks, so I'm going to try my best to stick with it!  One of my best friends, Christina, got engaged a couple of weekends ago and I really want to look good for her wedding, and for my ten year high school reunion next year!  Haha.

And then on Monday, I tried the ZombiesRun 5K app for the first time!  It was SO fun!  It's an app that intersperses a zombie apocalypse narrative with music from your own playlist.  In the story you, as runner 5, gather supplies and run from zombies in a place called Abel Township.  A few times I looked behind me to see if there were zombies chasing me. ;)  Haha.  It made running a bit more entertaining.  I'm going to try and keep up with the 8 week training program and see if I can get up to running a 5K again (without stopping this time!).  So far I give the ZombiesRun app two enthusiastic thumbs up!

So far in my weight loss journey, I've lost around 13 pounds.  So I have about 40 more to go to reach my goal weight!  Christina is most likely getting married in May, so I've got about 10 months to accomplish that goal; that's a pound a week - which is doable!  Wahoo!

Welp, back to work!  Hope all is well by you.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Life is short...live it up!

Update on my Aunt Dianne.  They found a tumor in her brain and she had brain surgery to remove it.  She is doing...alright.  They're thinking about moving her to a nursing home.  It's been really hard for my uncle and her two girls (and my family too).  So please keep my family in your prayers!

Rereading through my last post, I read about wanting to find passions and joy and I think I've done a good job of embracing life this week.  On Monday I watched The Bachelorette with friends.  On Tuesday, I played tennis with a girlfriend from church.  On Wednesday I went out to dinner with some co-workers.  Last night I got up my nerve and played pick up soccer with some guys I had never met!  I was the only girl there, and one of three Caucasians!  It was pouring rain and I was NOT very good (although I did get one assist, so that was exciting!).  It had been TWELVE years since I'd played soccer.  My goodness that was a long time (since freshman year of high school...man do I feel old!).  But anyway, I had fun.  And today I am sooorrrre!  But a good sore.  Today I was invited to hang out with some other co-workers, and then tomorrow a bunch of co-workers are going to one of the girl's houses in South Bend.  Should be fun!  I'm making friends at work - yay!  Haha.

Last weekend I went to the dog park with my friend Mike and his two dogs.  I met a guy there, and we hit it off.  We went on a date.  Unfortunately, it's not gonna turn into anything - but I had fun nonetheless.  We grabbed drinks at The Buck.  And then Saturday, I went to a baby shower for my friend Sharlee in Grand Rapids area.  It was good to see the whole Coffman family.  They are like my family, so that was nice.  And then Saturday night I went out with some friends from high school.  We met a guy on the bluff and invited him to drinks with us at Silver Beach Pizza.  He is the one who told me about the pick up soccer on Tuesdays & Thursdays.  Then Sunday I had another baby shower - this time for a friend from high school (we were in the same small group from middle school until high school!).  It was good to see a bunch of my old high school friends again.  :)

Weight Watchers has been going alright.  I gained like 0.8 pounds this past week - probably from drinking and the two baby showers.  But that's not terrible.  I'm hoping for a loss this week - but we shall see.  I've stuck to it pretty well this week, so that's good.

Well, I can't think of anything else that's new.  Just livin' and lovin' life!  Hope all is well with you.  Sending my love!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bound for Freedom...embracing mine!

Here I sit, at Bound for Freedom in downtown St. Joe.  Bound for Freedom is a little shop that sells fair trade and homemade goods to help poverty stricken people from various countries all over the world.  They also have great pour over coffee and a cozy little sitting area in the back.  I've been here for a couple of hours enjoying "Tiny Beautiful Things" by Cheryl Strayed (still good, but still haven't finished it!  Haha).

It's a dreary day out there.  I was supposed to play tennis with a friend/coworker, but with the weather being as it is, we had to rain-check for it (haha).  So today is now consisting of reading!  What a glorious way to spend a day - with a steaming cup of coffee (which is now empty...) and a good book.  Fun fun.

So update on things.  Weight Watchers is going alright.  My weight loss has slowed down, but is consistent.  I think I've lost 8 or 9 pounds in total now.  My official weigh in day is Monday mornings, so we'll find out then.  It's been hard to stick with it as I've been out of town a couple of times, but I'm still trying.

eHarmony is going alright.  I haven't really had any connections lately.  That last date turned into nothing, but oh well.  I started up again with Coffee Meets Bagel (a dating app), so hopefully I'll be connected with more guys that way.  Confession - I even wrote the Steve Harvey Show today!  Haha, in the quest of looking for love.  Ahh.  I just have to remember that God will provide, in his time.

I've really been wanting to grow closer in my relationship with God.  I want to have the fire and zest for my relationship with him that I used to have.  So I've been trying to get back into having a regular time set with him.  I'm praying for God to draw me near to him.  I'm earnest in my desires.  I know that God will be faithful.

I'm just trying to live life to the fullest, ya know?  I can't wait around for a man forever.  I am sitting here lounging at Bound for Freedom and what I really need to do is embrace mine!  I can't sit around waiting for a man.  I need my God to fulfill me completely and I need to enjoy life!  To find passions.  To pursue those passions.  To find joy!  Not that I don't have joy, but to find it more fully.  I wonder what books I can read next to find that.. haha.  How do you pursue your passions?  What are your passions?  How do you live life to the fullest extent of what it has to offer?

Other commentary on my life.  I went to Chicago to visit my friend Kelly over Memorial Day weekend.  That was fun.  City life for a bit is always exciting.  And I've been watching The Bachelorette with some friends.  Guilty pleasure.  But fun.

My aunt is in the hospital again.  I don't think I've written about her yet, but she has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in her spine, adrenal gland, and lungs.  She had surgery to remove the tumor on her spine, but has not been doing well.  She has lost mobility in one of her legs and they don't know why.  It's been really hard.  If you could keep her and her family in your prayers, that'd be fantastic.  Her name is Dianne.

...thinking about that makes me even more so want to embrace life!  We never know how much time we're going to be blessed with on this earth!  Seriously.  Hmm.  What can I do to embrace life?!  Got any ideas for me?!  Please share!

Well anyway, that's all I've got for now.  Thanks for reading.  Hope all is well with you.  Much love.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Weight Watchers, eHarmony, and life..

Well...The Hungry Girl Diet did not last (too much food prep for me to do; I got sick of it!) BUT I've been doing Weight Watchers successfully for 9 days now and have lost 6 pounds.  I think that's pretty good.  I even have been careful and budgeted to allow myself some treats now and then - we had a bonfire last weekend and I had two s'mores!  And I had a Snickers bar earlier this week (7 points!).  I originally got 29 points a day, but at my first weigh in, lost some weight, so they bumped it down to 28 points.  I also get 49 points extra each week, and earn points for activity that I do.  I think it's a pretty good system.  And it's keeping me accountable.  I reaaalllllly hope to stick with it.

I also signed up for eHarmony and went on a wonderful first date last night!  He's from Grand Rapids and drove down.  We grabbed coffee (well, I got coffee, he got tea...who doesn't like coffee?!  Haha).  Then we had dinner and drinks.  Then we went bowling!  It was so fun!  The date lasted 7 hours and I'd say it was a success!  (plus I got three strikes in one game, tying my all time high of 123!).  Needless to say, there will be a second date - which I am excited about.

I have been a reading little bug lately.  Last weekend I spent a couple of hours in my camping hammock outside in the yard reading The Total Money Makeover.  I spent a couple of hours reading this morning and finished it.  It's got some good stuff in there and will hopefully be starting with baby step one (saving $1000 emergency fund), after I...

Buy my mom a bike!  As tomorrow is Mother's Day, I have decided to buy her a bike.  I am very excited about this, and she is too.  We were going to go down to Niles to look at some today, but they close soon, and apparently it's pouring rain there - so she wouldn't be able to try the bikes out outside.  Bummer.  It will have to wait.  But regardless of when, I am very excited to give this gift!  :)

Another book I just started today is called "Tiny Beautiful Things" a compilation of advice columns by Cheryl Strayed.  I've only read the first 20 pages or so, but it is good stuff.  I am enjoying it, and can tell I'm really going to like it.

Well, my friends are trying to convince me to run a 5K next Saturday, so I think I'm going to lace up my shoes and see if I can get a few miles in today, just to see if I can do it...ugh.  I hate running!  Haha.  But it's on my list of 101 Goals in 1001 Days.  So we shall see

Hope all is well with you all.  Thanks for reading.  :)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Zombie open casting call!

Work update - work has been going fairly well.  I've started doing some assessments partially on my own, so that's been exciting.  The more practice I get, the better.  I can't wait until the day when I feel more comfortable with everything.  But who knows when that will be!  For now, I will just plug along, working hard to learning everything I need to know.

This past weekend has been really fun.  Friday night, Dad and I watched my first zombie movie (a "zom rom-com" called "Shaun of the Dead") in preparation for...a zombie open casting call!  I drove up to Grand Rapids Saturday to hang out with my friend Christina and we auditioned to be zombies in a small independent film.  The director had instructed us to pretend that we had a rubber band pulling us backward at our waist, and two rubber bands, one around each knee, pulling us forward - the the top halves of our bodies were to be dead.  Neither of us got offered parts, but it was a neat experience regardless.

So Grand Rapids was fun.  Before the casting call, Christina and I grabbed coffees at the Kava House in Easttown and we walked around for a bit.  After the casting call - we went shopping!  I got some jean shorts, a book, and some lotion for my desk at work.  Then we grabbed dinner at The Electric Cheetah, one of my favorite GR eateries.  After a delicious dinner, we rented a chick flick ("He's Just Not That Into You") and did face masks while watching that (and eating brownies!).  We definitely made it a girls' night.

Sunday, we went to Ada Bible Church, and then went BACK to The Electric Cheetah for a delicious brunch (banana bread French toast).  Yum.  Then I drove home and read my new book.  What is my new book you might ask?  "The Hungry Girl Diet!"  I finished reading it and am planning on starting the diet tomorrow.  It's a four week meal plan complete with single serve recipes for a roughly 1300 calorie day.  Tomorrow's meals and snacks are as follows:

Egg scramble on a bun
String cheese
Tuna sandwich w/carrots and dip (I made a fresh Creamy Cilantro dip and it is Goooooood!)
Baked kale chips
"Chicken Hungry Girlfredo Bowl"

So hopefully all goes well!  I've made Hungry Girl recipes before and they were good, so I'm looking forward to this endeavor.  Hopefully I last longer than the other things I've tried.  Haha.  Oh well - at least I'm trying!

Well, that's all for now.  I'm going to read some more; this time I'm reading "The Gospel for Real Life" - the book my friend Kayla and I are almost finished reading as a book/Bible study together.  I also have memory verses to work on for that too!  And I should probably do my laundry...but let's be real...I'll probably do that tomorrow, or later this week.  Haha.  Love you all!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Three days, go figure..

Well, the nutritarian/veganism thing lasted all of three days.  It was haaaard.  Oh my goodness.  By the third day, I had packed fresh raw veggies for lunch, and was so sick of them, that I ate nothing, gave up and drank a couple cups of coffee instead.  Ugh, I am frustrated.  I'm not frustrated that the nutritarian/vegan thing didn't last - I think that was a bit of a stretch to try regardless, but I'm just very unsatisfied with my weight.  BUT, I did run four miles yesterday, so I'm keeping up with that.  And I'm hoping to incorporate some more strength training too.  Hopefully that will help.

Thursday night I was able to go out with some girlfriends from church.  We had margaritas and Mexican food.  It was fun.  Although a lot of the conversation surrounded babies and husbands (all of them are married with kids)...so that was a bit tough.  I'm just at such a different place than all of them are.  There's nothing wrong with that (I have to tell myself), but it does make connecting with them a bit harder.  However, I did sign up for eHarmony last night.  Perhaps there will be some fun connections through that.  We shall see.

Last night I watched Step Up All In with Bethany.  Ha, it was quite cheesy, but fun to hang out despite the fact.  Tonight, I'm hanging out with Mike.  I don't know what we're doing, but again, it's nice to get out with friends.

Not too much else is new, so I suppose I'll sign off.  I'm about to go out on a walk with my Mom on this beautiful Saturday.  Hope you all are doing well!  (all zero readers that I have, haha).

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Job, 10K, Veganism - Oh my!

Exciting new news everyone:  I got a job!  I now work as a "Care Manager Social Worker" for Region IV Area Agency on Aging.  Hallelujah, praise the Lord!  I started last week Monday and had a great first week.  There is a lot to learn, but I am very excited about it, and excited to be using my degree again.  Prayers that I learn things well and quickly would be much appreciated.

So what is a care manager social worker?  Basically, once I'm done with training, I will be going into the homes of the elderly who want to stay at home versus living in a facility.  I will be assessing their needs and putting services in place to enable them to stay at home.  After the initial assessment, we do a phone call check up every 30 days, and a face-to-face check up every 90 days.  I think it's going to be a good fit.  And everyone there seems super nice and helpful, which is good as well.

Now, on another note - I had previously been training for the RiverBank 25K.  I started back in November, but then kind of fell off the bandwagon and stopped training.  A 25K is just over 15 miles and I just don't like running enough to run that distance.  BUT I still want to be active and get in shape...so I've been training for the RiverBank 10K!

I am following Hal Higdon's 10K Novice training plan, and ran four miles this morning!  With it being Easter Sunday, I didn't want to shower for church, run and then have to shower again for Easter dinner, so I woke up before church (7am!) and ran the four miles.  I had asked my Dad to slowly bike alongside me to keep me motivated.  It worked!  I realllly wanted to quit at the two mile mark, but I didn't!  So that was encouraging.  The race is May 9th.

I keep thinking in my head..."if I run the race" - but I need to start changing my words and saying "when I run the race" because otherwise I'm gonna pansy-out again.  I need to stick with something for once, my goodness!

Also, I've been a little (to say the least) unhappy with my weight gain the past six months or so.  I've reached a point that I did not ever want to see again.  In order to learn more and get healthy, I just finished reading "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  He coins a type of eating called "Nutritarian."  So, starting tomorrow - I'm becoming a nutritarian.  He talks about how health is equal to nutrition divided by calories (H=N/C), so basically, the more nutrients in your food, the healthier it is!  But nutritarian is essentially veganism with minimal to no grains as well.  I've never attempted anything like this, so it shall be quite interesting!

Dad and I just got back from the grocery store where we got apples and bananas and strawberries and spinach and cucumbers and carrots, and the list goes on.  Lots of healthy foods!  I have a tendency to start something and not stick with it, but I'm rrreeaallllyy going to work hard to stick with this.  I want to get to a healthy size again - quite badly, especially before summer ;)

Well, that's it for now.  Thanks for reading!  And I'd love prayers and encouragement in my three ventures (new job, 10K training, and veganism) if you think of it!  Much love.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Book review time!  I just got done reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  Boy oh boy - I have never had the urge to go backpacking as I do now.  In "Wild" Cheryl tells her story in which she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in order to escape some troubling times in her life and renew her spirit.  Her story, spanning a summer and into early fall, is moving and epic, full of detail that makes you feel like you're on the trail yourself, blisters and all.  She began one person and ends a wholly different woman.  And like I said, I have never wanted to backpack more in my entire life.

Well, that's all for now!  Just thought I'd share my thoughts on this wonderful book.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ayla Mae

Just wanted to quick share a few pictures of my beautiful new niece, Ayla Mae.  We (my parents and I), just got back from visiting Ben, Kristen, and Ayla in Tacoma.  It was a wonderful trip with a darling little girl!  I'm so excited to be her aunt!

Holding Ayla for the first time.
Look at that precious face!

Family photo.