Thursday, January 27, 2011

Final Week...

As we finish up our "Wintering in Michigan", we had an extremely busy week (thus no time to do any blog posts).  There were friends we still needed to see and others who we needed to see one more time before we headed back home.

On Monday, we met for a play date with four of my high school friends and their children.  It was a fun afternoon of playing, marveling at all the kids (there are 13 among the four of us friends!), and doing lots of catching up.

Tuesday morning the kids and I went to Steve's cousin Amy's house.  Faith and Shane were able to get to know Amy's children over the summer while we were at another cousin's wedding.  So this was an exciting reunion of sorts!  The morning was filled with crafts and Thomas the Train.  And Steve's Aunt Carol and Uncle Jack stopped by for lunch, capping off a very special morning.  I still sometimes think it is amazing that Steve has so many relatives here!

Wednesday evening dinner was at my good friend Beth's house!  Beth and her husband have a sweet little girl who is a few months older than Shane.  The kids played so well (we hardly saw them!), and it was fun to enjoy a meal with good friends.

Today Faith had her final day of school at West Side Christian.  Her teacher and classmates made her a sweet card, and it will serve as a nice memento for the time she spent in that class.  In a fitting conclusion, it was Beach Day at preschool!  While she loved going to school, she is looking forward to getting back to her Busy Bugs class back in Ventura!

Tomorrow we fly back to California.  Our time in Michigan has been lots of fun and has gone very well.  The kids did well and adjusted to life here.  But all three of us also look forward to getting back home, getting back to Steve, and getting back to our normal (although not usually as exciting!) life!  And of course our new kitchen!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Culture and Sports

On this extremely cold, snowy day, we braved the elements many times to have a fun-filled day!  After a delicious breakfast at the Brandy Wine, Faith and Grandma and I went to a special concert.  The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra puts on concerts specially designed for kids ages 4-7 called Lollipops.  And the show today combined two of Faith's favorite things - music and ballet!  The concert included the music of Peter and the Wolf, a narrator telling the story, and dancers from the G.R. Ballet company portraying the story.  Faith absolutely loved it!!  It was enjoyable to watch the twinkle in her eyes as she watched and heard the story unfold before her.  The entire concert was extremely well done as the conductor also introduced all the families in the orchestra and the instruments in those families.  And all in the perfect, age appropriate time of 45 minutes!

In an effort to maintain well-rounded children, we took the kids to the Calvin basketball game in the afternoon.  Once again they both enjoyed watching some basketball and were excited to see a Calvin victory!  Remembering that clapping follows a made basket, Shane thought it was important to clap for each made basket in even the warm-ups!

Our day was caped off with going out for dinner.  As mentioned earlier, it was very cold today!  According to the weather on the news, it was the coldest two days in Grand Rapids in over two years!  Shane especially does not enjoy the cold, and after experiencing the brisk wind while being carried to the car from Calvin's arena , he refused to take off his hat or winter jacket at the restaurant!  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Upon arriving at Calvin College in the fall of 1998, I have clear memories for meeting my roommate as well as many of the other girls assigned to live on Third Timmer.  What I never would have imagined is that  some of those same girls are still some of my dear friends!  Today was a very special day as two of those girls from the Third Timmer days came over for lunch - Emily (the roommate) and Sarah (the girl across the hall).  While we haven't changed all that much, our lives certainly have!  We are all moms now, and therefore the topic of conversation today revolved around kids, parenting, being married, and all those good kind of things!  Far from what we chatted about way back in '98!  And since all of our friends from college are scattered throughout the country, to have three of us in the same location for three hours was pretty special!  It was great to catch up, meet the newest additions, and just hang out like old times!  One of these days we will all get together for a reunion, but until that happens, I am grateful to see the old friends I can when the opportunity arises!

Me, Sarah, and Emily

Natalie and Faith - future Calvin roommates??!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Day!

Faith experienced another joy of being in Michigan today...although she had a hard time seeing the joy in it - a snow day!!  For the girl who absolutely loves school, hearing that it was cancelled for the day brought tears of sadness.  I quickly told her of the fun that we could have at home, and thankfully that helped the pain of a school-free day to lessen.  But one of the perks of having a grandma who is a P.E. teacher is that she can access the gymnasium!  So this afternoon Faith and Grandma headed to school for a little fun in the gym!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Children's Museum

One of the places that we always visit while in Grand Rapids is the Children's Museum!  It is a fun, interactive museum that the kids enjoy each time we go.  And that is where we spent our morning, after going out for breakfast!  It was helpful to go with Grandma as the kids each want to do different activities in different parts of the museum!

Shane loved playing in the snowballs!

One of the special exhibits was the firefighter area!  Faith loved "solving emergencies like daddy".

The kids worked together to fly the rescue helicopter to pick up some people who were shipwrecked in the ocean!

They each loved driving the Bug!

Another highlight was the grocery store!  It was fun to see them do something that they watch me do all the time!  They were pretty good at imitating me!  And an added bonus of a fun-filled, extra exciting morning is a very quiet afternoon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


As we continue to embrace our actual winter we are experiencing in Michigan, Faith receives the award for  best embracing the cold, snow, and all that a Michigan January entails!  The girl seems to love the snow!  Each afternoon she asks to go and play in the snow, and she likes to be out there for quite a while!  She created a game, which is very similar to one of her favorite indoor games - hide and seek, and it is called "Follow the Footprints".  One person counts to twenty while the other runs off, creating footprints in the snow.  The counter must then follow the footprints to find the other person.  It is actually entertaining to watch Faith play this as she literally tries to follow each footprint to find the other person!  And it is getting to be more difficult as we have not received a significant amount of snow this week!

Today, while outside with Grandma, Faith learned another important aspect of a Michigan winter...


As she loves to help out in any way, Faith was excited to help Grandma shovel the walk leading up to the front door.  Shane even wanted to join in as he was watching inside and thought it looked like fun!  Ahhh, to be young again and have no idea that shoveling is work!!  

She had so much fun she actually started shoveling snow off of the grass!

In addition to the snow, Faith is loving preschool!  She is attending two days a week at the school where Grandma teaches P.E.  And the class is spending the month studying the beach!!  Naturally, Faith feels like an expert!  She has made some nice friends and loves going!

I am enjoying catching up with old friends!  Tonight I met a few girls from high school for dessert!  It's amazing how all of our lives have changed so much since high school and how many kids there are among us!  Here I am with the girls...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Intro to Basketball

The kids were formally introduced to two things today - basketball and Calvin College!  We took them to see Calvin's men's basketball team play at Calvin.  Preparing to head out the door, it was mentioned that if the kids lasted until halftime it would be considered a successful outing.  This was, after all, their first time actually going to a basketball game.  Not only did they last until halftime, but they made it through the entire game!  They both did so well!  Faith was getting into it, and Shane cheered well, although he sometimes cheered when the opposing team made a basket!  He just loved to see the ball go through the hoop.  He also loved to see the Knight mascot!  Even with how well they each did, when asking what their favorite part of the game was, they both mentioned seeing boys climb on the indoor climbing wall in the gym complex!  This just may be the start of things as they both mentioned wanting to go again to watch basketball, and Faith was practicing her dribbling skills in Grandpa and Grandma's basement tonight!  If either of the kids go on to play basketball at Calvin, we'll point to this introduction as being influential!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Snow much fun!!

It has been fun to embrace the elements of a Michigan winter!  Faith cannot get enough of the snow! She loves to watch it fall, and of course is asking to play outside in it all the time!  Yesterday afternoon we ventured out into the winter wonderland to play in the two inches of fresh snow.  

Faith finally had the opportunity to make snow angels...something she has talked about incessantly since arriving!  And make angels she did - one right after another!!  The yard is filled with snow angels!

I had left Shane inside to play with Grandma as I didn't think that he would enjoy the snow very much.  But after pleading to come outside, he was dressed in his snow clothes and came out to join us.  Not surprising, he didn't like it!  He didn't like the fact that snow was on the outside of his mittens or boots! 

We did find a way for him to have fun, and we pulled him around in the sled!  Naturally, the kids wanted to stay out much longer than I did, but they were persuaded to head back into the warmth with the promise of some hot chocolate!  Faith is hoping for more snow so that she can make a snowman!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!  The beginning of most things, especially a new year, tends to be filled with anticipation, excitement, and curiosity about what lies ahead.  At Calvary Church yesterday morning,  the message Pastor Jim Samra gave passed along what I thought were some great thoughts on the upcoming year.  He mentioned the importance of remembering that 2011 will bring each person both times of joy and times of disappointment.  And it is up to each one of us to decide how we will handle what comes our way.  Will we only trust in the Lord and praise His name when we encounter joy?  What will our reactions to disappointment be?  He encouraged each person to stay strong in their faith in Jesus Christ no matter the circumstances, worshipping Him alone.  I thought it was a great reminder, and a perfect way to start out the new year.  That is one thing I intend to focus on for 2011 and wanted to share!

Our time is Michigan continues to filled with fun.  While we are all missing Steve very much, we are enjoying family here in Grand Rapids, as well as some of the places that we can visit here.  On Sunday, the Swagmans came over for a Christmas party.  A good time was had by all!

Faith and Shane provided some entertainment!!

Once again they received some nice gifts - this time from Great-Grandma Swagman

Shane is walking the Fur Real puppy that Faith was given!  She named it Fergie as she has a book about a dog named Fergus!  It's been a treat to see them walk or pull the dog all around the house!!

Today was another action packed day as we went to the Dutch store this morning, followed by lunch with Grandpa downtown at the Dog Pit, which is always a highlight and something we try to make happen each time we are in town.  After nap time, we headed to the Meijer Gardens to see the Christmas trees from around the world. 
Traditional picture in front of the tree from the Netherlands

While the trees are beautiful and educational, the kids liked the Train display the best!

The kids and I

Faith and Aunt Betsy in the sleigh in the entrance to the gardens.  We look forward to cramming in a few more fun things before Betsy has to head back to ATL tomorrow!