Monday, June 10, 2013

2012 A Review in Pictures


The year started just like any other 

 and then turned super awesome when Lilly and I took a long weekend trip to Indy to visit dear friends and visited the Indy Children's Museum - it was amazing!

We celebrated very fun Valentine's Day parties at school

 The Easter Bunny was very good to the kids and left far too much sweet stuff for them

 The boys made new rockets and raced them at the Cub Scout Rocket Race

Topher's 4th Grade class took a field trip to the capital and met with a Senator

My Cub Scout group + Nathan assisted with a Food Truck in our community.  They learned amazing lessons about giving back and gained perspective on how fortunate they really are.

Halloween was... um... interesting 

 Lilly celebrated her 7th birthday and had an "owly" great time

 We may have also had a little fun at the school Christmas parties this year.... 

  The year ended very well, we even had a Rudolf sighting at the Schweri house!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2011 (was it really that long ago) Year in Review

  2011 - what a ride!

A little dune sledding at the Sugar Bowl,

a few teeth lost,

a race completed,

cabin time enjoyed,

honor given, 
(9/11 continual salute at GR Ford Museum)

dancing shoes fitted,

and a long nap, very overdue for our little kindergartner

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2010 - A Year in Review


Who, What, Where... Why?

At the beginning of the year, the boys built super amazing Pine Wood Derby cars and raced their little hearts out....

We attended Tulip Time in Holland, our favorite festival, with our dear friends and watched Lilly twirl until she was ready to puke up her elephant ear...

We were able to take a trip to the U.P. and snap this little pic for Topher's birthday invite.....

Christmas in July theme!

Topher was so happy to have his Great Grand Dad and Abuelita make the trip over to celebrate with him

...Lilly wasn't buying this whole 'holiday in the wrong month' gimmick...

thankfully a little jolly mischief with her Grandpa Ballard helped bring her around

Nathan was a great sport and even posed in the 'Christmas in July' holiday photo-op

In August we ventured out for our annual Ballard Family Camping trip, this year we went to Mackinac City.  

They grow their mosquitoes extra thirsty up that way {shudder} 

The boys started school - Nathan in 4th grade (big man on campus) and Topher in 3rd (almost but not quite big man on campus)

This is Nathan - he turned 10 this year - this is a picture from when he turned 9.  Why?  Clearly my photo organizational skills are top-notch, no?  I think he had a good one... I hope anyway

Christmas was very special and Lilly's very best-est wish came true, she received an American Girl Doll that looks just like her.  She named the doll Ashley, after her favorite pre-school teacher.

Lilly turned 5, despite her sassy stubbornness, by some miracle

In hindsight, perhaps having Hello Kitty smoking a big fat one in honor of Lilly's birthday was sending the wrong message....???
Let me translate that look - "I don't care if it is my birthday, I don't care if you have already put down a non-refundable deposit, I will not go out there looking cute and adorable with all of my princess themed friends and have fun - I am the birthday girl and will choose to stay in my grubby street clothes despite my fabulous up-do,  thank you very much!"

2010 was much busier than all of that, certainly, but an unending post doesn't make for good reading.  Besides, I have 2 whole years left to catch up on -   

Now if I could just remember where the 'super-safe, will not lose these ones' place I stashed 2011 photos for the next post are.... 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Shift

Shortly before Christmas break, and about the time of my last post, I received an amazing phone call. A few weeks previous I had taken a chance and applied for a job I knew would be an incredible opportunity but didn't know if I really wanted it. A new industry, a great benefit plan and a fresh start on a career I had otherwise written off... and yet I couldn't imagine not being at school to volunteer and substitute teach or simply enjoy a long day with little Lilly.

I accepted the interview offer, if for nothing else than the experience, and walked away feeling pretty good about it. A week passed and I didn't hear anything so I just assumed I wasn't the right fit and felt a certain amount of relief. A second week passed and I mourned the opportunity, thinking of how huge it would be for my little family to have a second income and a chance to get caught up.

I spent a good long day considering what I would be giving up by going back to work. I had to come to the hard realization that I would not catch up my kids scrapbooks no matter how long I stayed home. My house has never been spotless despite carefree days I could have devoted to cleaning. My daughter is not an expert in her ABC's or 123's even though I have the resources and time to practice these skills. It was very clear to me that while I really enjoyed being home the expectations I had laid out for myself years before were not realistic.

The next day I received "the call." Imagine my surprise when I was given the offer and without a second thought accepted it. Clearly this is something I was anticipating far more than I would allow myself to admit. Best of all the position wouldn't be starting until after the first of the year, which gave me three weeks to get child care lined up and to absolutely make the most of my remaining time at home.

I love my job, in a way I never thought I would find after all of the disappointing HR experiences I had working in the manufacturing setting. I work with kind women who put a priority on family, support each other and do not take satisfaction in others failures.

Without my past failures and frustrations I would not fully appreciate what I have now and I recognize that. I can now honestly say I would not trade my past because it has equipped me to be successful in the present.

And what a gift it is.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random Act of Kindness

Around noon today I received a call from the local library. Assuming it was in regards to Topher’s overdue book that has mysteriously vanished I only half listened. As the gal continued to talk it dawned on me that she was saying "Nathan." Well, instantly I was upset that he had a book that had some how eluded me too. Still not really paying attention I thought it was odd when she gave me someone's name, mentioned Toys 'R Us and gave me a phone number.


I replayed the message only to find out that a very kind woman had found Nathan's wallet in the Toys 'R Us parking lot and the only ID was his library card. Thank goodness he had that at least! The woman contacted the library, left her contact info and the library took the time to look him up and call the number on file - me.

I called the good Samaritan and she agreed to meet me near the Toys 'R Us right then to return the wallet. I thanked her over and over and she explained she also has sons and knows how boys can be.

Usually so careful, I have to admit I was disappointed that I hadn't even noticed he had dropped it. We were at Toys 'R Us at Nathan's request so he could spend the remainder of his money on a gift for Topher. It would have been so sad for him to lose his prized wallet after such a thoughtful trip for him.

At this time of year we have so much to be thankful for, including random acts of kindness by wonderful strangers.

Have you experienced or given any random acts of kindness this holiday season?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Soup-er Saturday


I feel like a need a nap just looking at this hearty stew.  All-in-one and so easy, what more can a busy Mom ask for?


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 cup water or red wine
2 reduced-sodium beef bouillon cubes
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
6 white onions or yellow onions, quartered
4 medium potatoes, cut into 1-1/2-inch slices
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
12 large fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced celery

Place flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, brown meat in oil in batches; drain. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the tomato soup, water or wine, bouillon and seasonings; pour over beef. Add the onions, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and celery.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until meat is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve with noodles or French bread.
Yield: 8 servings.

Visit A List Makers Life for more yummy, cold weather must-have soups.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Babies

First snow of the season!

Even Curious went outside to see what all the fuss was about... and then quickly ran back inside, gingerly tip-toeing through the flakes.