Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Look

I found a site with various free templates... actually, it was advertised on someone else's blog, and since I had been looking for free templates lately I checked it out, looked through them and chose one... I like it, even though I lost my widgets and had to re-create them. I'm not sure about the bright fuchsia... but I liked the flower design. I also adjusted some other small details... just a change from the defaults that come with Blogger.

Over to the right I have a slide show instead of a photo - it's a feed from our Photo Page but I've noticed that it won't scroll through all our photos, only a limited number. Also, the image quality isn't very good. Oh well, still nifty.

Also over there is the Lilypie Ticker, but a new half-size version, which fits nicely in the sidebar with all the other page elements.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Sorry I haven't posted anything new in so long... things have been kind of blah around here lately. The only real noteworthy thing is we attended a visitation for the former GHS student who was attacked downtown a couple of weeks ago. He was on life-support but did not end up surviving. His mom was doing so great - I was truly amazed. Then last Saturday night one of Ron's students, Henry Ditmar, died in a car crash in Walker. He was one of his favorite students because whenever Ron would ask him how he was doing, he would respond and then ask the same back to Ron, and was truly GENUINE about it. He was always polite and friendly.

Saturday night we made a pizza and watched a movie... and I was just thinking how weird it is that the world just keeps going on, when for some families it is turned upside-down. This is not the first of Ron's students to pass away, and it won't be the last, which is a scary thought. We just have to believe that everything is part of a big plan, and we have faith that it's a beautiful one, even if at times it seems unfair from our limited perspective.

So, moving on to more positive things... we just paid off the first chunk of debt on our list! That will help our snowball get rolling, as we can apply that payment to the next item (and subsequently the payments can get bigger and bigger as we move down the list). It feels good to have a quick "win" like that, and it is quite motivating. Our list is on our refrigerator where we can always be reminded of how we're doing.

Hopefully something cool will happen this week... I have nothing interesting to write about. Until then...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ramsey Recap

Last night Ron and I attended the Dave Ramsey Live Event, "Total Money Makeover" at the Van Andel Arena - we got there shortly after the doors opened to get really good seats... when 6:00 finally rolled around, this clip was shown on the 3 big screens behind the stage: This was the first site I could find it on.

Too funny, and of course featured, ahhh, Steve Martin. Anyway, that got everybody laughing. As many people already know, Dave Ramsey's teachings emphasize lifestyle changes, and breaking away from how society makes us all assume that living with debt is a way of life... It certainly doesn't have to be that way, if you are willing to change your way of life, make sacrifices, and be accountable. In the end it pays off in spades when you can "live like no one else".

Two years ago we took the 13 week class and it helped us make some major progress toward that goal. Now we find ourselves not dumping debt at the same rate of speed we had been, and we want to attack it once again. We are going to be helping to teach the course through our church, and we're already excited about getting back on track, as well as seeing others' lives change through this process. It's not about getting rich. It's about how your spending habits reflect your values, and how financial distress negatively impacts your life, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Ultimately the goal is to get to a point where you aren't a borrower slave to the lender, and you can have fun with your money... by building wealth and security, and most of all by GIVING. Hearing Dave speak at the event renewed my hope that we will someday get there, and on top of that he is immensely entertaining.

Monday, January 21, 2008

pink . dress

Today, per my mom's request, I took photos of Lucy in her pink dot dress. The goal was to get some cute ones of her wearing the matching little hat. Although I got some good ones, I can't say she even cracked one smile the entire time. First because she isn't a big fan of hats, and also because she was on her way to getting tired... she was a good sport though, and I'm sure over time hats won't be so unbearable to her. Then again, I never like wearing hats either, and I'm 26.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Friday night Ron and I ate at Chili's and then went to see Juno. It was VERY good, funny, touching, smart, and I'm not doing a movie review. I will just say that I am glad that this was one of the [few] movies we actually have seen in the theater in the last couple of years! It was definitely worth blasting through half of our Celebration! gift card.

We had a babysitter (and she brought a friend) watch Lucy and put her to bed, and when we came home and I went to pay her, she refused to take the cash and said it was her Christmas gift to us! So all in all, it was a really nice evening.

Then last night we watched We Are Marshall which is how on November 14th, 1970, the Marshall University football team, football coaches, athletic staff, key alumni, and friends were flying home to Huntington, West Virginia after an away game against East Carolina. Their plane crashed killing all seventy five aboard... anyway - it's really about how the program was rebuilt afterward and all the struggles they went through... try not to cry. Even those who might not like Matthew McConaughey because he might happen to not wear deodorant might actually enjoy this movie. :)

Tonight: Transformers ... maybe.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Took some new pics of Lucy today - posted here. Some are beautiful, others not so much... but I love all her silly faces. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Old Kitchen

Ron has entered us in a Remodel Contest through This Old House's website. You may have to click "More Reader Remodels" a few times to see ours. He entered our kitchen / great room renovation... so maybe we'll get lucky and win another gift card. Ron's just holding out hope that we'll be in the magazine. So far it looks like the majority of voters think our project looks like "a winner"! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I just created a Vimeo account because I am sick of Google Video. This is an OLD clip from last August of Lucy walking (a tiny bit), and Ron muttering something about Michelle Tanner (I think in reference to when Joey was trying to teach her to ride a bike). This was in the backyard of our old home in Wyoming. I apologize for the excessive video posting...

Baby Steps from Mindy on Vimeo.

Hollaback Girl

This is a video from back in December. The radio was on - and I was just generally "filming" Lucy going about her business... so I didn't get a chance to change the station. Well, at least one of us seemed to like the song. She has to work on her moves...

Nighttime Fun

Lately we've been keeping Lucy up a bit later at night - she used to go to bed at 7:00 PM (but she'd sleep until about 7:00 AM, so it was alright). Now we've been keeping her up until closer to 8:00 - like last night... she was having so much fun playing that we didn't even realize how late it was getting. Here's Lucy talking on the phone... we always have to watch closely to make sure she doesn't call anyone! She hugs the phone under her chin. Close enough.

Ron took Killian out for a walk around the neighborhood... when he got back Lucy stood by the front door with her hands behind her back, patiently waiting for him to finish taking the harness off of Killian... so she could get picked up. She loves it when he hangs her upside-down (Lucy, not Killian)...

Another fun game we discovered last night is dragging Lucy around in her big nylon Disney Princess tube. I don't know if it's the recommended use for this toy, but she seems to enjoy it, giggling and squealing the whole time, and even after stopping she continues to laugh until she eventually calms down!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This is a mirror from Ikea that I think I want to get - it has elastic straps that you can move around, where you can stick notes, photos, etc. Pretty cool. 31.5 inches in diameter, so it's a good size, too.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Looking back, I realize that I was in such a great hurry to get our Christmas tree up because it would fill this empty space in our house... and for the same reason, I was in no hurry to take it down! I finally did on Saturday (I know, I know...), and this is what we have going on now:

I am not sure what we are going to do here... some ideas are, 1) get a nice, simple looking desk, maybe a couple plants; 2) a long bench, possibly with a storage-seat; 3) a small "bistro" style table and two chairs. 4) a pinball machine. Just kidding...

Our computer is downstairs, and I am so used to it, I actually like not having it in the great room. Maybe someday if we get a laptop, but for now I don't want a computer staring at me all day long. Therefore I'm afraid a desk would just sit there and not get much actual use (other than a place to pile junk). Any suggestions (either from my ideas or something completely different)? This nook is located halfway between the foyer and our kitchen, in sort of a traffic zone of the great room. It is about 7 feet long and a couple feet deep (3' on the left end, 1' on the right)...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who Are You?

I've been looking at my blog stats and notice that I get a lot of visitors from other countries, and of course plenty from the US - but some who I don't recognize. I even have multiple referrals from someone's blog, but this person's blog is inaccessible to me! I know that online anyone has the right to look at anything they want to, but if you would, please indulge my curiosity and tell me who you are and how you found this blog!
A woman who I used to work with at GHS (she was a special ed teacher) is going through a really hard time right now. Her son was attacked in downtown Grand Rapids yesterday by a random group of people. He and his brother and friends were leaving a bar when they were approached and within a few moments it was over. The police are still trying to figure out who did this. He is in critical condition and on life-support with very little chance of survival.

I'm not quite sure how to make sense of this - I guess it isn't supposed to make sense, something so random and horrible. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now his poor mother is going through hell. I knew him a little after having him in class several times (a few years ago). He was a star athlete, funny, and handsome (and he would also accompany his mom's class to field trips, where I got to see his compassion and open-mindedness toward special needs children, unusual for most "popular" high school boys), but really I am most sad for his mom, dad, step-dad, siblings, and close friends.

We can't go through life worrying what might happen when you step out onto the sidewalk... and I know in some way this happened for a greater reason that we don't need to understand. So with little hope that this will have a happy ending, I can only pray for his family to have the strength to get through each day.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

Snack of the Day in the Denning house. I better put them away so Ron gets a chance at 'em.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Monday, January 07, 2008

FPU Plug

Two years ago Ron and I attended a 13 week course through our church called Financial Peace University, which is Dave Ramsey's program for anyone to eliminate debt and build wealth so you are better able to provide for your family, give to those in need, and reduce the tension and fear that accompanies living with debt - and bring that sense of peace to your life. It was a great experience and we certainly are much better off than we were two years ago (even though I am no longer bringing in a paycheck, and we have the added expense of a child!).

Anyway, the course is being offered again through our church, Spring Valley Community Church in Allendale, and we have been asked to help "teach" the class, which basically means showing the DVD, and guiding the group of people through class discussions, etc. We're looking forward to refreshing what we learned, and this is also an opportunity for us to become more involved, meet people, and keep us motivated to attend church on a regular basis - now that we've started to put Lucy in the nursery! So, it seems to me that this is all probably happening for a reason, and I'm excited about it. I think it is going to lead us in a very positive direction.

If you are seriously interested in taking this course, anyone is welcome... you don't have to attend Spring Valley to take this class. No matter how much, or how little debt you have, you can learn something. It's going to be on Wednesdays from 7-9 PM starting Feb 13 ($90 since it's through a church).

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Foggy Shoot

This weekend my sister and her boyfriend came up to visit and to celebrate Christmas with the Chamberlains. They stayed at our house, but we also spent time in my parents' neck of the woods. Sunday turned out to be an oddly foggy winter day and we went out for some picture-taking - originally to get some photos of some big gray horses that were up by the front fence of their pasture, down the road from my mom and dad's house. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the horses had moved on.

So instead we drove down the road, near Millennium Park, and also to the Grand River boat launch by Johnson Park and looked for good photo opportunities. Heath has a new Canon Rebel XT (like mine) so he was getting to know his camera a little bit better. This was also a chance for Ron and I to have a rare photo of the two of us taken (actually a couple of them turned out pretty good!).

Photo Gallery

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lucky Us

Ron entered a photo of our Christmas tree into the This Old House "Dress Up Your Home for the Holidays" contest. I hadn't even thought about it until last night he began racing through the house excitedly telling me, "you've gotta come see this!". Turns out, we won "Best Tree" and are now awaiting our gift card to Home Depot! What an unexpected and nice surprise, as it will help us get even more accomplished with our home improvements!

A commenter named "Ricardo" left his thoughts regarding the tree and the merits of real vs. artificial. Of course that is actually my brother-in-law, Steve...

Anyway, I haven't really won anything since the sixth grade spelling bee, so I am actually pretty proud and excited (although I have to say Ron was truly giddy, not just we're getting a gift card, but that our Christmas tree was featured at ThisOldHouse.Com)!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Look Back at 2007

2007 was a year of milestones and firsts, and some major ups and downs, which have changed me forever. I liked Amber's approach, to break it down month by month:

January: Lucy learned to roll over, and so began the start of a child who loves to be on the move!

February: My cousin and his wife had a son, Ryder Jay; Ron and I both reconnected with a few of our old friends.

March: Lucy started sitting up, we went the "cry-it-out" route and taught her to sleep through the night... it only took one night of a 52-minute crying session to improve the quality of sleep for all of us! She graduated from bouncer to high-chair for her solids, and into a sitting ring for her bath time. My Grandma Shirley turned 80 years old!

April: Lucy turned six months old, and we celebrated with a little half-birthday party. Kelly and Heath visited that weekend, and we invested in a play-pen finally... which made our lives easier with our semi-mobile baby. We learned that taking Lucy to the ophthalmologist to explore her heterochromia was a giant waste of time, and my sister biked some beautiful parts of Ireland with her friend.

May: Our niece, Annika, was born on May 1. My mom and I brought Lucy to Holland to experience Tulip Time, Lucy began crawling and pulling up on furniture, I celebrated my first Mother's Day, and saw a Whitecaps game with my sister, Heath, and Ron (on my 26th birthday). Ron's grandmother in England passed away - she was 96 years old, and we were all thankful that his mother was able to be there during her last days, and take part in celebrating her life and mourning her death with her other relatives in England. Lucy learned to clap, and also put her little feet in Lake Michigan for the very first time.

June: We banished the TV from our living room, to help make it appear larger and less cluttery - since we decided to list our home for sale! We got a barrette to stay in Lucy's whispy little baby hair, and she also became able to stand on her own for several seconds! Lucy went in our pool for the first time, and I got my hair cut shorter than I ever had before.

July: I painted Lucy's toenails, we did the Grandville 4th of July thing (even though we missed the fireworks, our little girl was too scared and tired), I was selected for Jury duty but got excused since I would be going on a trip to Baltimore later that week with my mom, sister, and aunts. Lucy mastered the Sippy Cup, and we threw a surprise 40th anniversary party for Ron's parents.

August: Kelly completed the Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon - a half-Ironman length race! We were all there to cheer her on at the finish line. It was one of the biggest highlights of the year for us to see her conquer such a challenge. Ron and I celebrated our third anniversary, with dinner at Via Maria and a play at Hope College. More "Big" news - we sold our home and found the one we would move into! My cousin and his long-time girlfriend got married, and a couple days later we all learned that his mom and dad would be getting a divorce. Lucy took her first steps on the 24th, and we started practicing every day with her.

September: Ron went back to teaching, and we were finishing up packing to move. Our friends lost their baby daughter who was born at 19 weeks, and none of us really knew what to say or do. It really reminded us how blessed we are. I am still heartbroken for them. We gained possession of our new house and started painting, cleaning, etc. Our friends' daughter turned one, and we celebrated at her party the day before we moved all our stuff with a U-Haul to the new home. The following weekend we had Lucy's 1st birthday party at my parents' house!

October: Continued working on the new house, and basically lived in a disaster area for a few weeks. It was all worth it in the end... Killian got sprayed by a skunk, and we visited Kelly and Heath in Evanston. Lucy did her first scribbled piece of artwork, and toward the end of the month was painting on my grandparents' slider for Halloween. She dressed up as a little witch, and even wore the hat!

November: Oh... I broke my foot - 3 small fractures - by falling down some steps at GHS. The next day we went to our friend's wedding and reception, and I managed to have a great time - even on crutches! We got all our new flooring in this month, just before Thanksgiving. My cousin had a small appearance on Desperate Housewives, and Ron and I managed to actually go out on a "date", leaving Lucy with a non-relative babysitter (teenage girl) for the first time.

December: Our house finally looked like a home, and was decorated for the holidays to boot! I tried to photograph Lucy for the "perfect" Christmas card photo and realized how difficult it is! We got two cars in the garage for the first time since we've been married, and had a whirlwind Christmas Eve and Christmas with our families. For New Years, we had our friends Eric and Jen over, and we had a very, very low-key get-together with the four of us, plus Ryan Seacrest.

Now on the first day of 2008 I cannot imagine what is in store for us... I hope many joyous things, and few tragedies - for us, and all of our loved ones. Happy New Year!