Monday, November 29, 2010

Something For Nothing

I was very excited when I saw multiple friends blog about a great deal Shutterfly was doing and am happy to get in on it!

I love crafting and especially scrapbooking. Photos, paper, colors, and designs... sometimes I enjoy getting messy and creating with my hands and sometimes I like doing it on the computer. Digital scrapbooking has become a popular hobby and I started to get into it. I went to a class to learn all about using Photoshop and even contemplated buying the Creative Memories program. However, even though I am a crafter I am also pretty frugal. I just couldn't see myself setting aside all the equipment and supplies I have for my paper scrapbooking and crafting to switch to digital. This is where companies like Shutterfly help me out. I get my "digital fix".

A few of my favorite Shutterfly products:

Photo Books. I LOVE making these babies. I get very excited when they come in the mail and I make Derek sit down and look at them with me right then (even though we saw the whole thing previewed online after I made it! Ha!). They are usually some sort of "theme" like a vacation or time in our life so they're kinda like a storybook in a way. Plus, they take up much less space than a real scrapbook and you can still use the special mementos (like maps or tickets) you just scan them and add them in as a photo! My sister-in-law has made a book every year for her boyfriend with pictures of the two of them from that year. Such a cute idea. I piggybacked that idea and last spring made a "10-Year" book of Derek and I. I still look through it now and then and just relive all the fun memories we've made over the decade. It's the sunset one on the top of the pile:
Aside from the normal vacations and holiday photobooks and the memories one like our "10-year" book... I've also seen some other cool ideas that I'd love to do sometime: 
  • ABC photobooks (like A is for aunties and you have pictures of the aunties) 
  • Brown Bear theme (like a photo of Jacob and you type "Jacob Jacob what do you see?" and then "I see Mary looking at me" then Mary is on the next page)
  • Recipe books (and pictures of the favorite people or parties that these recipes are from)
  • Historical or Ancestral books (old scanned photos and the stories that go with them)
  • classroom or sports team ones (like a hip yearbook kind of)
  • a collection, only photo style (instead of your child saving all the "precious" stones, you take pictures of them and make them into a book...) 
I've tried other companies too, like HotBooks free books, but Shutterfly still beats out everyone with quality of selection. Plus, they always have great deals going, especially around Christmas time! I even have two free books from two "House Parties" this year!

Photo Cards. Another favorite.  I love getting any Christmas cards in the mail, but my favorite are the ones with photos on them. (Bonus if they have a fun message or letter inside). I love seeing how our friends and family have changed year to year, where they decided to get their photo taken and how they are dressed... just so cute. It takes no time at all to get Christmas cards done now and they're even more personalized than the cards you used to sit down and write in each one years ago. We always like to have cards that speak of Jesus' birth, rather than ones that focus on a commercialized Christmas or simply say "Happy Holidays". With these cards you can type whatever you want so you can add a Bible verse with it as well. There are so many to choose from. Here are 2 of my favorite ones right now: (I haven't picked ours out yet because it depends what photo I use and we're taking pictures this Saturday)

When we moved into the neighborhood we walked around to deliver our Christmas cards and meet the neighbors. It was an excuse to knock on doors and introduce ourselves and if they weren't home we taped it to their door with a note that we'd stopped by. Then that gave them an excuse to say hello when we did run into them later... plus, they knew what we looked like from our photo card! I did get 100 free postcards from Vistaprints recently that I'll use to give to neighbors or use as Thank You cards this year.  

Photos. I love how convenient it is to just upload my photos at home, anytime I want (or when naptime happens) and they get delivered to my mailbox. There are always great deals on printing photos. I just keep compiling them and then print them when a great deal comes along. You can usually find free shipping and even prepay to get a cheaper price. I like the option to print in "True Size" too so that my digitals don't get cropped automatically.

Calendars. Lot's of people I know make these and I love looking at them when i am in their home. I'm not so good at keeping my calendars updated so we actually have our calendar online through our Google account otherwise I'd probably make a photo calendar.

Canvas Wall Art. I'm drooling over these... and they're totally on sale right now. Maybe I'll use one of our family photos this coming weekend to print on canvas. (drool...) Wouldn't Abigail's newborn photos be cute? 
The above photo on canvas like so:
So basically, I love crafting but don't always have the time and Shutterfly let's me make things pretty quickly and easily. Also, I don't like spending a lot of money and I can get some pretty good deals if I watch out for them.

I'm Thankful For - Day 24

Date Nights! Before Abigail was born Derek said we should set aside a night for date night every week. It's been so good to have this to look forward to. Sometimes Abigail goes with us, sometimes she stays with a sitter. Sometimes our date nights are out to a restaurant or shopping and sometimes they are home! It's just a way for us to be purposeful and to intentionally get time together. I'm so glad he suggested it!

I'm Thankful For - Day 23

Sound... the ability to hear beautiful things everyday. 
Two of my favorite sounds right now: 
Christmas music and Abigail's babbling.
If I turn the Christmas music volume up, she's babbles and "sings" even louder!

I'm Thankful For - Day 22

You gotta have girlfriends (just like men need "guy time"). 
work friends,
church friends,
college friends,
family friends, 
fellow mommy friends,
childhood friends. 

I actually have a book dedicated to all "girlfriend" stuff. It's fun. Friends are fun.

I'm Thankful For - Day 21

My last post was about being thankful for my job but this one really makes it that I'm able to have my "jobs": Derek's job! He has really enjoyed his first 6 months at Flexco and he been warmly received by everyone. I'm thankful for his skills and knowledge that allow him to excel in his field and allow me to stay home with Abigail. I'm proud of him, even if I really don't understand what he does! Ha ha!

Edited to note: I told you I don't understand all that he does yet... I showed him the post tonight and had to switch the product photo. The first photo was a product that their company sells but it's not made in Grand Rapids. Ha ha!

On The Move

We just put this up:

because she's into this (picture taken with my cell phone):
and she's doing this:


"No, Abigail, you can't go hunting with Daddy yet."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 20

My job. I love teaching. It is so rewarding, and fun, and new every day. Oh there are days when I do not want to do it but the good totally outweighs the tough. I loved how my class always became like family by the end of the year. It was tough to say goodbye and hand them off to a new teacher. The students that required lots patience- they even bring a chuckle to me years later. I wonder how they are all doing. I get to build snow forts and play hopscotch and Red Rover. I can paint and color and write stories and read books and sing. I get to do something different every single half hour of the day. It's never the same thing twice (with the exception of elementary school knock-knock jokes). Now, my job has morphed and I get the best of both worlds. I get to love on my daughter at home and still get my teacher fix twice a week. Yeah, I love my job and I'm so thankful to have one!

I'm Thankful For - Day 19

Changing seasons. I LOVE living in Michigan. I say that to Derek a lot.  We get the best of all four seasons here. I love each new season, and when I'm just getting sick of the one I'm in, the next one if around the corner. (I've also loved each "season of life" I've lived through so far... but that another post someday)

Spring! I love Tulip Time, daffodils, Easter, flowering trees, Robins... The grass is the greenest and the sun has returned and makes 60 degrees feel like a heat wave. Even the cows on my dad's farm are excited to be outside again; they run and "jump" when they first get out on those glorious sunny days.

Summer! Oh, yes, being a student and teacher I love summer break! Sunsets, bonfires, bike rides, swimming, camping, flipflops, sweet corn, BBQs, tubing down the river, hiking... Oh, yes, I love summer.

Fall! What's not to love about fall? School starts again (yes I love the beginning of school).  Pumpkin carving, apple cider, corn mazes, Thanksgiving, fall trips to the cabin to canoe and see the gorgeous colors of Michigan trees, and even harvest. My mom would say different about this one but my memories are so happy from this time of year: "helping" kick down the corn in the wagon, riding in the tractors and trucks, watching the silage pile grow, getting to stay up late on school nights to "help".

Winter! There are two parts to winter in my mind: Christmas and then the snowy season. I love Christmas: the decorations, the music, the parties, the anticipation, the lights, the food... It takes the first chill out of the air a bit. Without Christmas it would be an awful month of snowy, wind-whipping, finger-numbing, dark-by-supper-time, working-every-day month. But Christmas sweetens it all up so much! Then you pack it all up and give a sigh of relief that that craziness if done and you can just sit and enjoy some peace and quiet. You can just cozy-up on the couch and watch the snow cover up all that dead stuff and make it clean and beautiful. I even like the occasional sledding, skiing, or snowmobiling event. At school we would be in a good routine and making some headway on our content and there was always "Wacky Wednesdays" to dress up for. Oh and those wonderful surprises called "snow days"!!!

I'm Thankful For - Day 18

Medicine, doctors and hospitals! I have to put this into perspective because actually I'm usually NOT very thankful or happy when I need these things: I'm grumpy because I'm sick and feeling awful! However, to have medicine for my baby the same hour I find out she had an ear infection or for Derek to be able to take some Nyquil and crash for the night, not even hearing me getting up with Abigail (he needed his sleep!). Even those soft, lotioned tissues... (sigh) so nice on noses! I listed this item when I first started my list at the beginning of the month not realizing that I would get a cold, then Abigail, then Derek and least of all not knowing my father-in-law would have a heart attack. I'm so relieved that he was able to get the immediate care he needed when his life depended on it. As we enter this holiday season I know I am so thankful that he is alive and healthy and for the doctors and nurses that quickly gave him care.

I'm Thankful For - Day 17


After 3 days of eating rice and beans and tap water with our church (and the occasional yam, banana, or bowl of Rice Krispies) I was thankful to add ice to my water and eat a cookie I baked with my nieces. Our little 3 day fast really can't compare because even our rice and beans were all spiced up and "Americanized".

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 16

Family! We love having family so close. It does create some added stress at times but we're so happy to live by our families and see them so often!
 Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Sarah (Abigail's shirt says, "I'm as CUTE as my aunt")
 Uncle Matt
 Aunt Monica (I have no photos of Uncle Gregg, oops! although you can see him peeking in the background)
 Grandma Wright (and Great Grandma Boeve too!)

 Grandpa VanderZwaag (by a cow, of course!)
Grandpa Wright
Grandma VanderZwaag

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 15

  • Sunday naps with my hubby and baby, all snuggled up in bed.
  • Hugs with Derek on the front porch when it's 60! degrees at 11pm on the 21st of November.
  • Rocking my sleepy baby at night (sigh)
  • Nursing, I know I've complained about the no bottle thing, but it's really more of a big deal to everyone else. I just cherish the time I have to hold her and nourish her. This time goes so fast!
  • Nuzzles... when Abigail is tired and just needs her mama, she just buries her face into my neck and I just melt.

I'm Thankful For - Day 14

This may be hard to articulate but I'm thankful for knowledge and education. What a privilege I have to go to any school I want. I can look up almost any information on the Internet and get instant answers. I think it makes me jaded a bit when there is some mystery that can't be solved or illness that can't be healed I find it very frustrating. I mean we can do almost anything because someone has studied it long enough to figure it out. I may be feeling a LITTLE more thankful now that my final paper is written and my class is finished but it is pretty cool to be able to learn things whenever I want. Derek and I usually take forever when we go through exhibits and museums because we love to read everything (well, unless I'm hungry, then I'm just cranky and want to go find food!). I guess I wouldn't be a very good teacher if I didn't value and love learning and education, huh.

I'm Thankful For - Day 13

I'm thankful for trips and the resources to travel. We had a fun weekend in Frankenmuth, MI. Derek is a part of the Zehnder's Birthday Club and we like to try and go in November every year. The town is all lit up and decorated for Christmas and we usually stop at Birch Run's outlet mall and get some shopping in too. We've gone every year except last year I think, because we were in the middle of moving houses last November.

 Zehnder's even has a gluten free menu and gluten free items in the Z Bakery!
The idea was mentioned (from Derek? or Grandma W?) that we should get a photo by this snowman and penguin every year we visit Bronner's CHRISTmas Store to see how Abigail and our family grows. A cute idea I think... now to just remember that! :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Priorities and Incentives

I'm so glad you've been enjoying my November posts. Many of you noticed I stopped my daily thankful posts and have commented on it. We were gone this weekend to Frankenmuth, MI (and Birch Run!) and since returning I've had to face reality and put some priorities first. Sorry, blogging is a hobby and it didn't make the top of the list. Boo hoo.
I have a big paper due this Friday for my class that needs work so I made a list of incentives I get to do once I finish my paper. Maybe that will help me stop stalling and just GET IT DONE! Here's a shot of my stickies on my computer and my current desktop hopefully it will cut down on my distractions and help me keep my focus on this paper. Research just doesn't sound that exciting when I could be doing something else!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 12

I can't even put into words how much I love this girl and how thankful I am that God chose ME to be her mommy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 11

I'm thankful for my car today! I don't know what it is like to NOT have a reliable source of transportation. I have always been able to get where ever I am going. My parents used to drive me places. I carpooled in high school unto I got my first car and could drive it the day I turned 16. Derek and I never even had to share when we got married; we've always had two cars. If a car was in for repairs we usually could borrow from someone or I'd use public transportation. Abigail will surely know that convenience as well. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 10

I don't realize how wonderful a healthy body is until it gets sick. (Abigail was "diagnosed" with a double ear infection today basically because she has a stuffy nose and is a baby so she can't blow her nose to empty it. All that pressure put pressure on her ears too.). The stuffy noses, sore throats, aches, burns, headaches, fatigue... and that's just the "little" stuff. So many in the world face cancer, HIV, extreme hunger and malnourishment, abuse, and debilitating diseases. I am so thankful to be able to roll over and hit my snooze, to pick up my child, to hug my husband, and to stand before 9, 10, and 11 year olds each week and teach. Today Derek turns another year older. What a blessing it is to be given another day, another year. It reminds me of a childhood song: 
This is the day,
This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice,
We will rejoice and be glad in it,
and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day,
This is the day that the Lord has made.

Happy Birthday Derek!

Leave my sweetie a message. He gets the comments emailed to him!
(29 years, if you were wondering)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 9

I am thankful for a home. 
We had the chance to hear author Kent Annon speak at church on Sunday and see this video(watch it!) referring to one of his experiences in Haiti. I can't even begin to unpack how blessed am I and how different it is for my brothers and sisters living in Haiti when they thank God for their "home". Notice I put that word in quotes because my mind can't even consider how a concrete room the size of a box could be someone's home!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Thankful For - Day 8

Yesterday I talked about my church, but that's really only half of my "church" experience. Today I'm thankful for the other half, my LIFE group! I dug up some old photographs of us all having fun. It's taken a few years to really get to know each other but we've learned a lot through it all and just like real friendships and family there have been crazy ups and downs. I'm so thankful to have these people to go through life together and I loved looking through the photos: watching our kids grow, being silly, going through some sad times, making adventures, and eating a LOT of good food through the years! Hmmm, I look thinner in those older photographs...

We're helping each other walk through life; I can't wait to see where the "road" takes us...