Tuesday, August 11

the past month in photos

Ok, long story short, we had major laptop issues. It crashed without explanation and eventually we discovered that this laptop, that we bought 'new', had a refurbished, off-brand and semi-functional hard drive. This hard drive jostled and everything stopped working. We made some new friends at the tech place in Zeeland and some lifelong buddies at a repair center in Grand Rapids that got everything replaced for as little cash as possible.
So, with a non-functional laptop, blogging fell to the wayside. For over a month.
Then I wrote this blog post in its entirety and had the second half of it deleted sporadically. I was very very much not a fan.
So now, all at once, here's some pictures. They might not be exactly one a week, but they cover the month and a half that we've missed. This post will consider us caught back up on the 'photo a week for my year of being 20' escapade.
Deal? Deal.
So sit back and enjoy my summer!!

The kid and I ran the Zeeland Zoom 5k in late June. She kicked my butt, as was thoroughly expected, but I took all of 6 whole seconds off of my time from last year's race and came within a minute of my goal time. Am I incredibly proud of this fact? No, not really. But we're choosing to stick with the positives. My legs work. My lungs usually hold up pretty well. It's a good deal for all involved.

This picture was taken circa 4:30am on the fifth of July. I spent the 4th with my second family and a new amigo, Jake. After backyard fireworks, laughing until we cried, and listening to a lot of music, we tried to go to Taco Bell. All of the T-Bells within a reasonable radius were closed. Then we went to McDonald's. We discovered that McD's does NOT have ice cream OR french fries in the wee hours of the morning when all normal people obviously want ice cream and fries. However, we laughed a lot and took pictures and laughed some more and drank frozen strawberry lemonade. It was great.

These are my people. These two. I don't even have words that accurately describe how much they have and are continuing to change my life. They see the seeds of greatness in me, they nurture them, and they pull them out of me. I flew down to North Carolina for the second time to attend a business conference, this one significantly smaller than the last. A few thousand people, a weekend of incredible service and inspiration, of building dreams and laughs and so much good.
My heart was so full coming out of this weekend. So much changed in me for the better that I can't fully put into words. One such example of this is the story of how I got home. My plane left early, without me, from Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of having a full blown panic attack at 6 in the morning with no clue how to get home. They gave me a ticket from VA to Chicago, but had no seats guaranteed from Chicago to home. I called home, I called the airlines, I handled an inability to transfer money to my debit card-so I was essentially broke, but I got the tears of stress out in about a five minute window and got back to thinking rationally. I grabbed Chickn' Lickn' with Hope, the woman in the center of this photo -- my business partner, coach, mentor, friend, and host -- before getting back to the tiny airport on a later flight. I prayed my way to Chicago, doodling and journaling and just doing life, miraculously without a major meltdown.
It was on this flight that my new mantra got solidified:
the cross before me; 
a team beside me; 
my past behind me
I was terrified, but I also have never felt more alive.
So I land in Chicago and make a beeline for the first airline desk I see. I briefly explain the situation, I ask if there are any flights available in the next few hours. The stewardess looks at her flight board and tells me that the only one leaves in five minutes. I panic slightly. Chicago O'Hare International Airport is a huge place. Unlikely that I can catch a flight in five minutes. So I ask the stewardess about it. It had been delayed for between 20 and 30 minutes. Now we had a slice of hope. I ask her where the flight is boarding... and it's at the gate RIGHT NEXT TO the one I just got off. I take a deep breath, preparing for her to ask me for my debit card, which has nowhere near enough cash on it to pay for the ticket according to the airline price earlier that morning. Ready for this? MY FLIGHT WAS FREE. The airline acknowledged that leaving early and without a passenger was their mistake more than mine, and I boarded the plane after a very brief, but stressful wait on flightside to see if seats were available. I sat next to a pilot on his way home to see his kids, and I was back with my family before supper. Relieved and HOME.

Whistlepunk Pizza of Muskegan. My family has a knack for finding the most hidden away, homey, beautiful places with incredible food. Whistlepunk was no different. Probably some of the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted...it was way out of the realm of 'normal' pizza, but it was worth the drive. My personal favorite was the Bull Cook. As it may or may not be known, I'm a pseudo-vegetarian. I have no problem with eating meat IF I know where it comes from, if it has been raised and killed ethically. So locally funded sausage and pepperoni, made from scratch in their kitchen, was phenomenal. Took the trip out with them, ordered three pizzas for the four of us, ate them all, and even played a game of classic operation in there.

It happened. The day came. My baby sister went to college.
There were a lot of feels, but no tears, so we'll chalk that up to a successful move out for her. My kiddo is now a resident of Lawrence Technological University, studying architecture and running cross country. She survived camp, and right now she's hanging out in some very posh and spacious temporary housing. Not even kidding, there's more square footage in her apartment than my parents had in their first house...for just three girls. Two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, full kitchen, living room, front-loading washer and dryer... the kid is living the high life right now while the BRAND NEW freshman dorms are being completed. I guess you could say she picked the right year to start college, because everything is lining up in her favor right now. I remember all of the feels of my first year at the arbor very clearly, and I can only hope that she finds herself a community and a place to call home there like I have at SAU.

Finally, we have the picture from this past weekend. Momma and I took a trip up to Lake Leenauau to visit her parents, who get to hang out up there and camp for three weeks. Usually we have one of those weeks, but due to the chaos of said kiddo moving in to school and everything else that's been going down lately, they volunteered to take that week off of our list of things to do. Instead, momma and I visited and crammed some of our favorite things into about 38 hours or so... shopping in two little towns, a campfire, coloring, lots of coffee, and ICE CREAM AT OUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM PARLOR IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. Blue Moon Ice Cream in Cedar, MI. If you ever find yourself in the remote vicinity, it's worth the trip. {Leah was a chaperon on a middle school youth group trip this summer and made them drive 45 minutes to go...totally worth it.} Mom and grandma got Jacked Up Tennessee Toffee - their unquestionable favorite, and this is the only place we've ever been able to find it - and I got my go-to bowl of happiness: Ashby's Amaretto Cherry.
It's just an all-around beautiful place up there. It makes my heart so happy, even if there are a million other things going on and the weather is questionable and people get crabby... even then, it's still someplace so special to me.

{This is my camping mug. It has been my camping mug for the last few years. No one else drinks out of my camping mug. Only coffee goes in the camping mug. I take the camping mug with me all day and take pictures with it and just live in my element. HAPPY CAMPER!}

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