September 23, 2012

The Sunshine Award

I have been nominated for The Sunshine Award by DeBie Hive! How cool is that?! As an awardee, I am supposed to answer eight questions and then nominate another ten bloggers! So here comes the fun! =)

1. What is your favorite Christmas/holiday movie? I don't really love any Christmas movies. In my opinion, they are all way over played and I'm kind of a "watch-it-once" girl unless it's a really, really good chick flick. However, I will choose  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as my favorite Christmas movie because it reminds me of really good times with family, watching it year after year, laughing and cracking up hysterically. =)

2. What is your favorite flower?  Daisies and Sunflowers. Yes, I have two favorites! 

Beautiful Daisies. Source:
Super cool picture of a field of sunflowers. Source:

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?  For fall: hot apple cider. For summer/anytime: my new favorite drink is coconut water! 

4.  What is your passion?  I have too many passions to narrow it down to one. So here it goes! I am passionate about religion/figuring out life mysteries/new age/alternative healing/yeah ;) , travelling, food, animals- my husband would say kittens specifically, and my family life. 
I took this picture all by myself =) It is from yesterday's post
FaMiLy <3 picture from this post, courtesy of R & R Photography

5.  What is your favorite time of year?  My favorite time is the change in seasons. I love Spring because I've been waiting forever for the sun to come out and warm me up! I love Summer because the lakes are almost heated up and ready to swim in. I love fall because the leaves change their colors, the chill in the air feels good, and you can start wearing fashionable boots and scarves! I love winter because the snow falls and I can go cross country skiing, sledding, and drink a lot of hot chocolate. I love starting a new season. 

Spring Buds Source:
An almost Summer Day at Lake Michigan. I took this on our trip to Saugatuck
Fall Colors Source:
Winter Trails Source:

6.  What is your favorite time of day?  Since I hate mornings, my favorite time of day is anytime after morning. And because I have always been most productive at night, my favorite FAVORITE time of day is actually at night... when the skies are clear and you can see a billion stars! 


7.  What is your favorite physical activity?  Yoga and weight lifting. 


8.  What is your favorite vacation? How can I just choose one? I loved Paris because our youth hostel was super French with frilly curtains and a small yellow bed and I love speaking French and I love French accents and French stuff... (I could make that a longer run on sentence but I'll stop!) I loved being in Jamaica for my honeymoon, relaxing on the beach with pina coladas in both hands. I loved everything about Belgium... French and Dutch parts... Beautiful landscaping, gardens, and countryside... Kabobs with Andalouse sauce... I also loved spending two weeks in a rainforest in Peru. AND exploring Michigan's upper peninsula with my grandparents and cousin. I will leave it at that or I'll end up writing a book. 

Taken in Jamaica. Our full Jamaica story is posted here
Taken in Brugges, Belgium. 
This picture shows the type of lodge I stayed in, the type of boats we road, and the Amazon river. Source:
I hiked to Lake of the Clouds near Porcupine Mountain State Park in Michigan.

Thanks again to Kelly from DeBie Hive for nominating Mommy & Love for The Sunshine Award! It made my day too! =) Now it's my turn to nominate ten lucky bloggers. 

CONGRATULATIONS! I hope you all have a super fun sunshiny day, even if it may be raining where you are... 

September 22, 2012

Allegan Fair 2012

If you haven't noticed by now, we are "fair people". This year we went to the Ionia Free Fair, the Hudsonville Fair, and lastly the Allegan Fair. And we love animals... so if you like looking at cute animal pictures, take a look at my old posts.

Entry into the fair... thought it looked like an adventure!
Allegan County Fair Entrance

We started by looking at the bunnies! This little dude has such a cool hairdo! 

Miss A had no problem with the bunnies! She needed to pet a bunch of them. =)

After leaving the bunny house, it went downhill for Miss A. The turkeys scared her so badly that she didn't even enjoy looking at the pigs and goats. At the last two fairs, she loved ALL the animals. 

Scary, Ole Turkey!

These kittens eased her mood a little bit... until they pawed at her that is!

Kittens are irresistible! 

Cutest Kitten Ever

My favorite part of the entire fair was the Baby Animal Barn! Look at this cute calf!

Baby cow... cutest calf ever!

Sweet little goat who tried to eat my clothing!

Bunny Pile!

Little Baby Horse! 


This picture may be inappropriate :P Or it could just be a natural picture of a sheep. 

Big Sheep Balls! :P (HAHA-- could not resist!)

Kangaroos are so soft! I'm not entirely sure what the exact name of this animal is... 
There were three different kangaroo-like things in this pen. I apologize for my poor memory skills. 

This photo sickens my stomach... especially because I was petting and talking to all the pigs after looking at this statue... but it was very informative. 

location of meat cuts on a pig

And because my camera's battery died in the middle of our visit, I didn't get to capture the rest of our visit at the Allegan Fair. Just know that we had an absolutely fantastic time! =) 

September 17, 2012

How to Take Your One Year Old to an Information Meeting

Step 1: Think about what you will be putting yourself through if you attend this information meeting with your one year old.
Step 2: Tell yourself that it is a bad idea. Say "NO" aloud. Don't be afraid to say it firmly.
Step 3: Call a babysitter.
Step 4: If you can't find a babysitter, remember that you made a life changing decision on becoming a parent and that decision has left you to make a million sacrifices. Don't go to the information meeting. It's not worth the pain and anxiety. Besides, you won't learn anything if you are chasing a one year old around anyways.

I'm so helpful, right?

We went to a Paws With A Cause information meeting tonight with Miss A. We did everything we could to prepare our daughter for this one hour meeting. AND, as I expected, it was still a failure.

To prep her for the meeting, we ensured she had a good, solid nap and a filling dinner right before we left. We brought toys, her favorite book and stuffed animal, a pacifier, and a water cup to occupy her. When we arrived she instantly screamed and tried to run away from us as we sat down at a table. Bill tried putting her on his lap and she screamed. I put her on my lap and gave her the pen to draw with but that only lasted about a minute. Then she wanted down. I put her down and she slammed her water cup on the table. Then she started playing peek a boo behind my chair and giggling. Then she was instantly bored again and started whining. I whispered to Bill, "GET HER OUT OF HERE!"

Step 5: If you failed to do Steps 1-4 and you decided to bring your one year old with you to a meeting, then make sure you have an escape route.

I was lucky enough to have my husband run out of the room with my daughter. They played outside in the grass for 45 minutes while I learned about fostering a Paws With A Cause assistance puppy. If anyone is interested in fostering and helping train an assistance dog, this program is pretty awesome. It is especially great for those who live around Wayland, Michigan because they will cover almost all the costs for raising the puppy. =) We might join this program in the near future. It depends on whether or not we figure out what kind of dog we want to adopt for ourselves.

So once again, the biggest lesson of today is this:


And if you still choose not to listen... know that the following symptoms and side effects may occur: anxiety, stress, regret, guilt, post traumatic stress disorder, embarrassment, evil glares, extreme awkwardness, depression, suicidal thoughts, and more.

This is likely how you will look after the meeting.

September 13, 2012

Finding My Pre-Motherhood Brain

Am I transforming back into my pre-motherhood self with my real pre-motherhood BRAIN?

Instead of feeling stuck and depressed at home, I have found a job that is allowing me to grow in new ways. I am working as a care provider at a mental health facility. I've never worked in any health setting before so I am really excited. This will be an entirely new experience, which is absolutely fascinating. I hope that I enjoy this field of work so I can work this into a real, longterm career. I might be thinking too fast or far ahead of me, as I've only attended two training classes this week, but I am finding my ambition again! I feel like I am important again and I feel so much better when I am home. I even attended yoga last night at the local wellness center, which inspired me even more! This job has given me a higher sense of purpose and awakened my pre-motherhood brain somehow. During my trainings I started to find my old self again as I was learning new material and conversing with the other new employees. I really took a few moments to realize and tell myself, "WOW! Thank you, Monica, for coming out of hiding. I thought I would never find you again!"

I find it silly that motherhood could bring a dark shadow over my life when so many beautiful moments were happening day after day. An absolutely stunning baby was brought into my life. She has taught me a lot of unexplainable, intriguing things about life just by watching her learn and grow. I think my problem is that FIRST, as a woman, I am doomed by a vast ocean of hormones and I have a family and personal history of depression. SECOND, society has taught me that I can only be successful if I have a flourishing career. THIRD, in reality, motherhood doesn't seem to be honored as much in the United States as in other societies. Let's face it, most women would not say that they wanted to stay home and be a mother when thinking about their future. If they did, they would feel probably feel guilty or feel like they were letting society down. I know I would feel that way. FOURTH, boredom of repetitiveness. Doing anything 24/7 for an entire year would lead to boredom, and in my case depression and brain mashing.

So because of these reasons, I cannot be a stay at home mother any longer. I have been trained since birth to do learn and explore life through several activities at once. This has been the first year of my entire life that I have sat down and done nothing but be at home... (well also, caring for a baby and all that entails). I feel better with a busy schedule. I am not one to sit on the couch, watch TV, or play video games day after day after day after day. When I fill my schedule, at least a little bit, I don't feel so depressed or stuck.

Once I am deep down in a pit of depression, it takes forever to get out. The only thing I did to help it was apply for a hundred jobs and get rejected, which only worsened the issue. I finally got my new job thanks to a friend who encouraged her boss to interview me. (Don't even get me started on how much I hate networking... The job I got was the one I was least qualified for out of all the jobs I applied for! Not complaining about my job... complaining about the 'system'.) I am not saying that I am entirely out of depression but I feel alive again. I've started to become an angry, annoyed person at home due to my life having been stopped, or so I have felt. I don't like the person I have been becoming so it was really nice to find my old self again at my job training class. I don't want this dark shadow to affect Miss A's childhood so I am glad to be feeling better. I think this job will help me get back on my feet so I can be motivated to become an even better mother, spending more quality time together.

I look forward to my pre-motherhood brain resetting completely back to default. [with the exception of the invaluable knowledge that motherhood dishes out] Wish me luck!

September 9, 2012

Our Family Shadow

Mommy, Daddy, and Baby up in the air!

Family Shadow

Mommy, Daddy, and Baby (who looks like a five year old!)

Family Shadow

September 6, 2012

Miss A Hit The Potty Milestone Today!

Miss A, my 14 month old baby, has officially used the potty for the first time. Before today, she had only sat on it and played with her potty. Today, she actually went pee! YiPEE!

She woke up with a dry diaper after a two and half hour nap. I cheerfully brought her to the bathroom to sit her on the potty. She was still sleepy and fussed a bit so I took her off it. As soon as I set her on the bathroom floor, she started peeing a little bit, then stopped (probably out of fear from my shocked shriek)! I quickly placed her back on the potty and she cried... She did not go anymore. She cried a little more and then started going potty. I clapped my hands and loudly said, "BIG GIRL!! You're going potty! Big Girl!!" She stopped crying and looked down. When she finished, I showed her how to wipe herself and she happily placed the toilet paper in the toilet. She did it! We danced around the room for quite a bit afterwards. It was very exciting for me! 

I just hope her crying on the potty didn't traumatize her! I doubt it did though because she always seems to be excited when I say, "Mama's going potty!" or "Let's go to the potty!" She always responds with a happy, "PA!?"


Check out her some pictures of Miss A reading a book on the big girl potty, here!

Essential Items In My Kitchen 24/7

Even though I am not a crazy =) baker, like my friend over at Melissa's Cuisine, I must say that I am a little obsessive on making sure that I have all the essential baking ingredients in my cupboards. I like knowing that whenever I feel like baking I can just drop everything and head straight to the kitchen.  Otherwise, I have to run to the store, in which case, I might lose motivation and/or get distracted and find a new way to entertain myself. Keeping all these ingredients in my cupboard will be extra important for when my daughter gets older and has the desire to bake cookies or other goodies with me. (Dreaming of a positive future!)

Therefore, my baking section of the cupboard must, AT ALL TIMES, be filled with these essential baking items.
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Confectioner's Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Yeast
  • Unsweetened Cocoa
  • Chocolate Chips

I can usually make any recipe I find online with these ingredients. Right now I am actually stocked with almonds, food coloring, sprinkles, cupcake paper holders, graham cracker crust mixes, and premixed (gross) cake mixes. I like to have extras but those items are not essentials.

I need these essential items in my refrigerator AT ALL TIMES too. These are key to making delicious meals.
  • Milk
  • Butter (Stick & Tub)
  • Eggs
  • Minced Garlic
  • Onion
  • Cheese

I am also obsessive about my spices. If a recipe calls for a specific spice, I want to be able to add it the meal. All of my spices are dried and store bought though, I do have chives and oregano growing in pots outside. Someday I would like to have a decent sized herb garden. First, I need to take a course or do some reading on how to cook with herbs so I can broaden my herb variety.

These are my most frequently used spices right now.
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I recommend that everyone stock their kitchens with all the ingredients listed above. It will make your lives much easier and stress-free when it comes to preparing your meals. 

Are there any essential items that you think I missed? 

September 4, 2012

Water Sports & Diving Pictures from Elk Lake

I spontaneously drove back up north again this past weekend for some more boating and water adventures on Elk Lake. I met up with my family there because (like I've said in previous posts) they have a seasonal at White Water Township Park. My brother and I did A LOT of diving and some water sports. My little sister (age 10) even knee boarded despite her fear of tubing, getting water splashed in her face, and falling off the board!

Here are two pictures of my brother wake boarding like a champ! He turned twelve years old this year... but he has been tubing and doing other water sports for a long time. 

Here are two pictures of me "wake boarding"... I tried about eight times and failed miserably! 
Just you wait til next year though... I'll be up on that board in no time!

This is the closest I got to actually getting up on the wake board. :/

Help, I'm trapped under water! 

Just kidding! 

Here I am knee boarding! Knee boards are a lot easier to balance on! 

Watch my video! I learned how to do a full 360 circle on the knee board. 
I even knee boarded backwards without falling off!! =)

Floating baby! We loaded Miss A up on floaties for the fun of it... she could barely move! 
She did have a lot of fun though. We eventually took off the arm floaties because they were useless. 

Bryce and I standing on the bow preparing to dive!

Bryce dives...

I dive...

Bryce dives again... with floppy legs! (hahaha!) Anytime one of us dove in with floppy legs, we'd yell "FLOPPY LEGS!" as soon as the other person surfaced... It was funny.

I dive again...

We both dive. I LOVE THIS SHOT! All these pictures were taken courtesy of Valerie. =)

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