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Oh goodness, everyone. It's been awhile, huh? The sad thing is I don't have a good excuse for not writing. Well, this post kind of discusses my "excuses" but, in short, I'm just thankful Marissa trusts that I will eventually post another blog at some point. :-D

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You know the phrase, "Waiting for the other shoe to drop"?? Have you ever found yourself at that point? If you haven't, I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of jealous of you.... :-) April and May fell into that "waiting for the next bad thing to happen" category. Honestly, the issues that we dealt with are not that huge in the grand scheme of life and they are problems that many would rather put up with than their current situation. I completely acknowledge that and sometimes that fact makes it challenging for me to share struggles with others. I don't want to be a complainer. I don't want to make a big deal out of a situation that will rectify itself in a relatively short amount of time. But, at the same time, I'm trying harder...

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I was extremely fortunate enough last week to need to have a crown placed on one of my teeth (and a cavity filled, too). Have you ever had a dental crown appointment? Can't remember how long ago exactly but eight to ten years ago I had to get a root canal & crown done on a tooth that had impact trauma from a childhood fall onto cement. I've had fairly good luck with pain management for dental procedures so I didn't find either procedure to be painful but do remember it taking a very very long time. So, going into the appointment last week, I was prepared for periods of waiting for medicine to set in, cement to cure, etc. In my continued quest to read more books this year, I brought along the current book I was reading--"Chasing Slow" by Erin Loechner (HIGHLY recommend, by the way!). Apparently not many people bring books with them to dentist appointments (imagine that...) so this led to some conversations with the dentist and his assistants about books, topics I enjoyed, blogging (Erin Loechner has been blogging for over a decade). Well, to say "conversations" is being a...

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I try my best to not let my extreme sentimentality make me sad but some days, it's just too much to handle. When my oldest son was two, I remember thinking, "Thank goodness he'll be almost six when he starts kindergarten. I still have four more years with him at home with me." My head and my heart feel like I was just thinking those thoughts yesterday, yet here I am---less than five months from sending him off to kindergarten every day.

I am definitely thankful that 1) we were able to find a school that still offers half day kindergarten and 2) we have been slowly progressing towards him being gone every morning. He did two morning preschool last year and is in three morning preschool this year. I have learned that this progression is possibly just as necessary for me as it is for him. Still...it's hard to imagine only having weekend mornings with him starting next year. I love slow mornings. I love enjoying the morning light and not having to be on a strict schedule every day. Simply put: I love being with him.

I know. I know. I'll still have summer breaks...

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"You should have done more with your kids today." "The TV is on way too much." "Your kids are growing fast! How dare you get annoyed at them!" "Don't you love your children? Why would you be excited for them to go to bed?" "You definitely eat too many Cheetos. Don't you know that you should be eating organic kale instead?" "You're not keeping up with your reading for your book group." "Why aren't you working out more?"

Welcome, my friends, to some of the words of my Inner Critic. We all have one--as a human being, as a women, as a mother. On the sunshiny, smooth-sailing days, Inner Critic's voice tends to be silent or at least incredibly faint. But those other days? Inner Critic has lots of opinions to share and sometimes it just takes so much effort to silence that ridiculous voice within. Where do these thoughts come from? Is there any truth to these opinions? How do I silence Inner Critic or, at the very least, how do I learn to ignore Inner Critic?

Honestly?

I don't have a solid answer for you. I feel like I squash some guilty feeling and...

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Ah, Michigan in the spring. Sunshine and flowers---yay! Rain/snow and drastically fluctuating temperatures---not as exciting. I’m approaching my five year anniversary with FIT4MOM Grand Rapids (crazy!) and I’m told that this fact makes me a “veteran” mom. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that I still have a lot to learn in the realm of parenting BUT I certainly have plenty of experience dealing with the seasonal changes with FIT4MOM classes. Can you believe that there are FIT4MOM classes in geographical locations that allow them to have classes outside all year long?? But, alas, we live in Michigan. Temperamental Michigan… So, as a *AHEM* veteran mom, I thought I’d share what I have learned about outdoor classes during sometimes less than favorable conditions.

1. The instructors do an amazing job adjusting classes and workouts to fit the current weather conditions. If it’s raining, we have stayed under the pavilion for an entire class. The workouts are still amazing, you still work up a great sweat (yes, that’s sweat, not rain), and you and your little ones stay dry. If...

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My parents were, and continue to be, amazing parents. Thinking back on my childhood, it's difficult to put into one simple phrase what my parents did well as they raised my older siblings and me. I am overwhelmingly grateful for them and I have tried to figure out how to replicate their parenting tactics. Of course, my sassy teen and early college self may not have always acknowledged what a great job they were doing and I am sure they haven't spent the last thirty-seven years of parenthood pumping their fists in the air, shouting, "YES! We are doing this perfectly!!!"

Were my parents perfect?

Of course not. No human being is.

But did they fully commit themselves to being the best parents they could be, even when I know it was incredibly hard and challenging?

Absolutely.

So, Mom & Dad, here are just a few things that come to mind that I will always be thankful for.

Thank you....for never missing one of my marching band performances (or ANY of my musical performances from fifth grade through twelfth grade). You had no interest in...

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[My apologies in advance for this post being a bit longer than usual. I attempted to break it into two parts but, in the end, I think it’s best to read this story as one lengthy post.]

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My dear second child,

You are amazing. The enthusiasm and joy you bring to our family is incredible. You have already taught us so much during these last few years and I cannot imagine our family feeling complete without you. I love you in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening and underneath the moon. You are so loved and wanted and cherished and I am so thankful that God gave you to us.

I love you.

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I wasn't ready for him.

Life was shrouded in a fog for quite some time after his older brother was born. Recovering, physically & mentally, from his birth pushed me into a realm of discomfort and loneliness that I had never experienced. In fact, he was well over a year old before I started to think that maybe I could go through it all again. I'm sure people just rolled...

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I used to own five strollers.

Yes.

Five.

Stroller #1: The Original (basic single, four wheels)

Ah, our first stroller. We asked for this one when we were pregnant with our oldest. It came with an infant car seat & it was affordable, which was ideal since we had some family members so kindly purchase it for us and I wasn't going to ask for something that was crazy expensive. Our first family walks were with this stroller. Our first born's first trip to Reeds Lake involved this stroller. First couple months of Stroller Strides? This stroller made it possible.

Stroller #2: The Old Faithful (single jogger)

This baby was purchased a couple months after I joined Stroller Strides and I learned that jogging strollers are much easier to push around for an hour. Actually, they are just easier to push overall and, almost five years later, I still use this stroller on a regular basis. She's a bit rusty around the tires and has a multitude of scratches on the tray from my two buddies who have sat/sit in...

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Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope this day is a great reminder to us all to love ourselves and one another every single day and not just on "Love Day" (Thanks for that phrase, Daniel Tiger...). :-)

Originally I had thought I would do three posts--one post about loving ourselves, one post about loving family & friends, and one post about loving our community. But when I sat down to write the second and third posts, I realized that how we love our family, friends, and community is, or should be, very similar. Some of the details will obviously look different but the foundation is the same: we love people with our actions and our words.

Our Actions

"Actions speak louder than words." That's the phrase, right? Words are overwhelmingly important but it's a fact--we can say whatever we want but if our actions don't match our words, the words lose significance. Loving others through our actions also goes beyond saying we're going to do something and actually doing it. Don't get me wrong. Dependability absolutely plays a major role. Part...

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