Thursday, September 29, 2016

Unpacking & a Guest Post!

Hello Everyone!

I am up to my eyeballs in cardboard boxes right now, trying to get them emptied and everything put away. It's a long slow process but I am making progress! I will post a bunch of updates soon now that I have the computer unpacked, but in the meantime here is a post from one of my best friends, Summer. We met at Volkel, and if you go back in the blog about 6 years you can see us at her house!

Summer is a mother of three amazing kids; she home-schools, she performs in the theater, she's going to school, and she's an all around fun, sweet, happy, loving person!


Living purposefully

I had a conversation with a friend the other day. It was his birthday and instead of celebrating he spent his night thinking. Milestones in our lives sometimes cause us to focus inward and become contemplative.
My friend had turned twenty five and in lieu of cake and candles he was texting me that he has become tired and he wants more out of life. I think at some point in all of our adult lives we have had that exact thought. After our conversation he mentioned that I should take up motivational speaking so, I decided that for my first guest blog post I want to share the advice I gave him. 

At risk of sounding cliche, you can make your life what you want it to be. There is nothing at all wrong with contemplating ones existence, it is actually healthy to reflect on your journey so far, just be sure to move forward from that state with a goal. A goal, not a wish or a dream, a real goal. 

Picture the life you crave. I'm not talking about material things like a fancy house or a sports car, I'm also not talking about a specific job or income. Picture the kind of life you want to live. We all share a common goal, we want to be happy. What makes you happy? You probably didn't say money or a mansion. Are you happy relaxing on the front porch, reading a book by yourself? Does being near an ocean or lake bring peace to your soul? Do you love to be surrounded by family or friends? Does taking care of someone else make you happy? What does happiness look like to you? Visualize or see it, write it down, set a goal to get there. My life goal list began as a list of how I wanted my life to feel. It may seem silly to anyone else but to me these feelings are what I need to be happy. 

  My first life goal list as an example:

   I want my life to be:
   full of love

Next, I thought about specific ways I could feel these things in my life, then I set goals to achieve them. 

For my life to feel peaceful
I need to not allow or respond to those trying to create conflict, you get to choose who you let in your life. I also need to cut down on activities that take me away from my home, a busy schedule does not allow time for much peace.
Writing down the two goals above gave me absolute clarity as to how to create that peaceful home that I crave. 

My goals are set, I am learning to live purposefully and peacefully every day.
Later, I expanded on my goals. 

To create the life I crave I need to be independent so I started back to school and am in the process of checking goals off of my new list keeping my original goals in mind. 

New life goal list:

become financially independent
leading my family to a more peaceful, loving existance
finding a stay at home mostly job so I can succesfully mother my children while providing our needs

Know that your goals won't be met overnight or maybe even in a year or two but have something to work toward. If you KNOW what you want out of life, you CAN acheive it. 

n closing, visualization is more powerful than you know. Visualize your life becoming what you want it to be, write down what you see, set goals, your goals are what you need to make happen to get your life where you want it to be. Your list will be smaller and more achievable than you think. 

I would love to hear from you. Has this post inspired you to create your own life goal list? Let's support each other and live the lives we dream of. 

Until next time,
Summer Crain

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Klompenmakerij den Dekker

Last week we had the pleasure of going to a wooden shoe factory! There was a 40 minute workshop/demonstration and then the kids got to paint their own shoe. I didn't have my camera charged so I got these from Rebecca and from their website :)

The shoes are made out of Poplar or Willow; once the trees are cut down they are cut into smaller blocks roughly the size of the shoe. The first machine cuts the block into the shoe, the second machine hollows out the inside, and the third machine cleans up the inside. This is all done while the wood is wet so it does not crack or break. Once the shoes are dry the get sanded and painted.

This man owns the factory, he is one of ten people in the country that know how to make the shoes by hand. This factory uses 100 year old machines and can make 30 pairs of shoes per day. Making them by hand can produce 4 pairs per day.

Once carved into shape, the shoes have to dry for 4 weeks before they get sanded and decorated 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Run Like a Mother

Feels like we have been planning this event for months!!! Our fearless MOPS leader Rebecca brings so many new and awesome ideas to Volkel and I am usually lucky enough to be involved in them! Run Like a Mother 5k was a fundraising color run for our MOPS group and I say it was a success!

Cody won first place in the juniors category, woohoo!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Africa by Light

Saturday we went to Beekse Bergen to see these awesome lights!  It was pitch black outside and we had to follow the path to see where we were going. If there were animals out there staring at us we had no idea! We're thinking most of them were housed inside somewhere though because it was freezing out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy 2016!

This is our final year in The Netherlands, we will be moving in September. It is definitely bittersweet; the boys have officially spent the majority of their lives here, made so many friends and have had so many experiences. Who would have thought we would travel to so many places, expand our family, make so many wonderful friends, all in just 6 short years. It seems like a long time but it sure did go by in a flash. But, we are ready for a change. We are ready for the next adventure, I am ready to go back to work, and the older two boys are ready to go back to America. Plus we miss our family! Seeing them once a year or every two years just isn't enough! I am looking forward to convenience (I need drive thru coffee!!!), Home Depot, being able to figure things out easily, but I am going to miss the food, the people, the history Europe has to offer. But, it has shown us how easy it is to travel, and we are looking forward to traveling more in the States, discovering and teaching the kids about US History since they've never had it; heck, Kyle hasn't even been to America! I keep saying, this is our last ____ in Holland! The next nine months are going to fly by and before we know it we will be packing our bags and getting on a plane to make that trek back across the pond.

Here are some photos from picking out our last Christmas tree.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


After debarking the Disney Magic, we wanted to see a bit of Copenhagen since we did not have any time the day we arrived to depart on the ship. Our first stop was the statue of the Little Mermaid. It's in a park pretty much by itself, and there were tons and tons of tour busses from all of the cruise ships in the port. If you don't know, The Little Mermaid is a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, and every variation of the story stems from that original story.

Next we drove to this church we wanted to see because of the statues inside, but there was a funeral going on. We should have just waited for it to be over but we drove out of town a bit to get some Starbucks mugs, and then back into town to eat lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. Of course we turn the corner to HRC and guess what's next door??? Starbucks!  Brandon was less than amused....

Statue of Hans Christian Anderson

Tired of driving in all of this traffic. So many buses....
 We went back to the church after lunch, and there was a wedding! So we still couldn't go in. Dad and I sneaked in a little ways to take a picture, but this was about it. For a better view you can look at this blog and read the history and see photos of all of the statues.

After this we left Copenhagen to go to our hotel for the night. We drove about two hours to the ferry and took a 45 minute ferry ride to an island that is part of Germany and stayed in a beautiful wooden house complete with fire place. We relaxed outside while the boys played in the sand box, and had McDonald's for dinner because it was easy. Dad and Brandon got the fireplace going and we watched a move. Perfect way to end a busy week!

Relaxing on the back porch. Pretty sure Kyle took the pictures because this is the best one I have!

Copenhagen (and Denmark) is definitely on the list to go back to. There is really never enough time to see everything over here, so once the kids are grown and we can travel on our own, we are coming back to Europe to explore a whole lot more!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another Bucket List Update

Brandon calls it the dump truck list because I am always saying I want to go here, do this, do that, so this summer I made a list of what must happen in my life before I die.  Let's hope I have at least 50 years left to accomplish these things.

1. Go to Russia.  THIS WILL HAPPEN in 2014. Holland America has multiple cruises to St. Petersburg and my plan is to use our tax return to book one. Whether all 3 kids will be going has yet to be decided, but I am getting on a giant boat with delicious food and will be standing in palace square. I have always wanted to go to Russia and it always seemed like such a far away fantasy but not anymore!  We extended until 2016 so this is happening in 2015. My dad is also coming back that summer and is going to go with us! Done, done, and done!!! I still can't believe we went to Russia. It still feels like a dream. 

2. Catch a halibut in Alaska.  You would think after living there for 18 years I would have gone deep sea fishing, but I did not.  So now when we go back that will be on the Alaska trip things to do. Who knows when that will happen, but I have seen everywhere Brandon grew up so now it's his turn.

3. Catch a marlin and mount it on the wall.  This will happen in Florida or Cabo.  Both possibilities when we live in Florida in 6-8 years.

4. Visit all 7 continents. This goal came about when I made it to Africa, so now I have three left. Antarctica, South America and Australia.  All great cruising possibilities.

5. Go to Ireland. Because it's beautiful and we are already in Europe.  It can't be that much harder to go a little bit further. People do it all the time.  We are running out of time to see everything over here (there is just so much) so maybe down the road...

6. Visit all 50 states. I only have Vermont left. (and maybe Rhode Island? I need to check)

7. Go on a cruise every other year. This started in 2009. We won't be able to go next year but waiting one more year is fine. In my opinion cruising is the best way to spend a vacation and I want to do it as much as possible.  We didn't go on a cruise but we went to Greece!!  Cruising will resume in 2 years! Cruise for 2015 done. Cruise for 2016 booked. 

8. Live on the beach.  Hopefully in 8-10 years.

9. Finish my Bachelor's degree.  This should be done 14 months. I have exactly the right amount of money in my GI Bill as I have classes to pay for so it should work out perfect. DONE, DONE, and DONE.  Will brag blog about this when the paper is in my hand. 

10. Learn Spanish.  For when we move to Florida. And because I want to work for the Federal government and it can't hurt.

11. Go to Greece. Maybe before we leave, maybe after we retire. There's plenty of time for this especially since we can hop from the states for the rest of our lives as long as Brandon survives the next 8 years. Also done!  

12. Go to Egypt. Let's let things settle down over there first.

13. Visit 50 countries. I need to add to the list and see where I stand. DID IT!!! Sweden was number 50! 

14. Find a sand dollar on a beach. Brooke says go to Corpus Christi and it will be easy. 

15. Find some actual sea glass on the beach. After reading the book Sea Glass I want some of my own! Found some in Greece! 

Skydiving used to be a top priority, but I turned into a big wuss when Brice was born and I don't know if I could handle it anymore. I think I could do a tandem jump but I just don't know. My Grandpa flew skydiving planes and I rode with him one, even had to wear a chute, so we will see.
16. Skydiving is back on the list! Brandon and my Dad jumped on D-day and I think I could do it. 

It's a short list, not so much a dump truck, but those are the things I really want to do!