Monday, April 30, 2007

Sailor Mark in Chicago

Gardens at Navy Pier

Sailor Helfinstine at Millenium Park (in 80 degree weather dressed in his wool uniform!)

At the end of Navy Pier

Sailor Mark in Chicago

Consuming Giordano's Chicago-style pizza!

Sarah and I were able to spend a wonderful day in Chicago on Sunday! We heard Paul Tripp speak in the 8:00 AM service at church and then left for Chicago--specifically Great Lakes Naval Training Academy--to pick up our cousin Mark to spend a day in Chicago. We picked him up around 12:30 and he had liberty until 8:30 PM so we were able to spend quite a few hours together. We learned all about the Navy. Mark (Sailor Helfinstine) is an E-3, which is 2 steps up from an E-1 (where enlisted men start off). He is in THU (Temporary Holding Unit) until May 9 (hopefully) when he is shipped off to A-School (in Texas) for 6 weeks. The Navy has lots of acronyms! We also spent the day using Navy vocabulary like "scuttlebut" for drinking fountain and "head" for bathroom. We also saw some of Mark's "shipmates" around town.

We spent the day walking down Michigan Avenue, visiting stores like the Apple Store and Borders. We had Starbucks and Giordano's pizza. And then we walked out to Navy Pier. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sarah's Sleepover

Last night we had some great girls over from Sarah's and Lane Grimes' small groups (from Sunday School) for a sleepover! There were about a dozen of us, hanging out, having taco soup for supper, and then telling scary stories! (clowns and reflective had to be there, I guess) We also played a version of Catch Phrase, in which if you "lost" and the buzzer stopped on you, you had to do a Truth or Dare. Noelle Haynie had to ask a neighbor for an ice cube, Hanna Park had to fit as many oreos in her mouth as she could, Sarah had to eat a spoonful of mustard, and Noelle also had to dig through a pile of flour (with her mouth) for a breath mint.

About 10:30 they took a field trip to Wal-Mart and...other places that I don't want to admit any knowledge of...while I STAYED HOME and cleaned up a bit and went to bed.

The arrived home probably around 1:00 AM and then stayed up (well, sort of?) watching a movie. Even though I didn't catch ALL of the action, I still had a good time. We definitely need to have people over more often for fun nights like this. Next time let's make it a board game night!! Or maybe play Apples to Apples. And next time I'm making chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sailor Mark

This is my cousin Mark Helfinstine.

He just graduated from Navy Bootcamp and is now officially a member of the United States Navy. Since he is stationed in Chicago (Great Lakes Naval Training Academy) for the next 2 weeks, Sarah and I are making plans to go up and visit him THIS SUNDAY (April 29) and maybe tour around Chicago for the afternoon. Fun fun!!

Mark went to Faith Baptist Bible College for a year and then a tech school near Minneapolis (where he lives) for a while before making this career choice. He really researched the Navy and knew what to expect going into it. I am proud to have him serving our country!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Juju!

Today is Juju's 1st Birthday!

Since she calls her toys "monkeys" (If you say "Go get your monkey" she'll bring you a toy) I picked out a new monkey toy for her birthday from PetSmart (since she got a birthday card with a coupon for a free toy)!

She enjoys throwing her toys...

Here she's giving me a birthday kiss...

At Juju's last trip to the vet a couple of weeks ago to get her nails trimmed she weighed in at 49.6 pounds, so she's probably pretty much full grown now. She still loves to cuddle--all 50 pounds of her. She loves her nightly walks and rawhide bones and still loves to play. This summer we will really work on learning to come when called, too! She's my big baby! Happy Birthday Ju!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Night at the Symphony

The crowd buzzed while the instruments tuned. "Are you coming to my dinner party?" "Haven't seen you in ages. How ARE you?" Conversations carried on around me. The lights dimmed and the instruments became silent. A lone cell phone droned out the "William Tell Overture" as an unscheduled prelude. I reached down to turn my cell phone to silent mode.

As the joyous sounds of Shastakovich enveloped me, I realized I had not been to a concert with professional musicians in quite a while. It was wonderful. My ticket that I had received as a gift was for a seat on the main floor, instead of the balcony, where I usually frequent, and I enjoyed watching the people around me. I looked for anyone that looked younger than 50 and had a hard time finding anyone. I felt like I had been transported in time to an age gone by. I almost started looking to see if the ladies were dressed in bustles and fancy hats. I felt like I was surrounded by an elite group, the upper class, where a night at the symphony was just something you were expected to flaunt, like the Mayor up in the box seats.

At intermission I ventured up to the balcony. There I was met by the younger crowd, even a few children, and finally some familiar faces. There were actually some people under 50!

Dvorak's symphony ended the evening. I relaxed to the pleasant harmonies and let myself sit and enjoy the music. The night ended in thunderous applause and I sneaked out to get an early start home. The Lafayette Symphony Orchesta had finished another great concert.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I Bought a Lawn Mower

It's time. Tonight I bought a lawn mower. However, since I purchased it online I will not get it for another 2 weeks... Ah, the pros and cons of buying online. I have been pricing lawn mowers for the last year or so and finally decided that I would buy an electric lawn mower. So the last few days I have been pricing those. Walmart and Target sell them, but only online. I was at Menards Saturday and the least expensive one they had was $200. The ones at Walmart and Target were in the $150-$225 range. However, I believe I got the best deal direct from for $155 (and free shipping if you're willing to wait about 2 weeks)--this was the same one Target was selling for $220. (retail value something like $398??)

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, I decided to go with the Black & Decker Lawn Hog 18-inch 12 Amp Electric Mulching Mower, Flip-Handle #MM675. I didn't read ALL of the 110 reviews at, but most were satisified with the mower, although we'll have to see if the flip-handle is really a good feature or not. I might take the advice of others to tie up the flaps that are on both ends of the mower, since it can go either direction, theoretically to keep the power cord on one side. For the size of my lawn, I think I can hardly go wrong. I am looking forward to giving it a try.

Isn't online shipping an amazing thing? You hardly have to go out to the stores anymore. A great deal, delivered right to my door!

By the way, if anyone has anything bad to report about this lawn mower, please don't tell me...yet. Let me bask in my ignorance for just a while longer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I would like to take a moment to recognize Miss Jeannie Wetzel on her BIRTHDAY today!!

Jeannie is my good friend and "Amazing Race" buddy! We have been enjoying spending time together watching the Amazing Race on Sunday nights--usually at my place, but I think this week we're at hers! She is one of those people you can always spend time with and you never get to see often enough. But she is also a friend that you can always pick up with, no matter how long it's been since you've seen her last. When I think of Jeannie, I think of singing (in choir or in small groups), youth activities, bulletin boards, February conference, and of course the AMAZING RACE! Jeannie is an awesome person because she wants to be used of the Lord and has a real heart for Him and serving others. Thank you for your friendship, G-Knee! Happy birthday! :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

5 Missed Calls...

...because I'm an idiot.

I left my purse, including all of my identification, credit cards, flash drive, and cell phone (and Keri Dutton's cellphone) at our very first stop 2 hours down the road on FMT tour! I set most of my stuff down off to a corner in the church, but put my purse underneath the piano by my feet. I set my camera down on top of the piano and remember thinking that it would be really bad to forget my camera at the very first stop. So I know I was very careful to get my camera and other belongings; I even did a "loss prevention" check where all the students were sitting, but I managed to forget my purse. I didn't notice until we got off of the bus at the NEXT place approximately another 2 hours down the road. I guess when you're not driving and don't need to grab your keys out of your purse...

Anyway, I was able to get a hold of the school and had them overnight it back to me in Lafayette from Friday to Saturday. I really didn't need anything in my purse on tour, other than a little bit of money (I had neglected to get cash before leaving anyway so I didn't have any in my purse as it was). But Mrs. Heim was able to bale me out and loan me a few dollars for souvenirs in Grand Haven.

So I should have received my purse on Saturday, but the ONLY hour that no one was home (between 1:30 and 2:30), apparently the mail came, and thus my purse was taken to the post office, which is closed from noon on Saturday until 8 AM on Monday! I did have an emergency fund of cash at home that I had saved from a teacher's bonus, although I had saved a $100 bill for my "emergency fund"--which no fast food restaurant will accept, and all the banks are closed on Sunday so that really didn't do me any good either. (An emergency cash fund is a good idea but you may want to consider stocking it with smaller bills.) Thankfully I was able to go and pick up my purse Monday night around 6:00 at the Post Office (it was back there after being out for delivery). My cell phone actually still had battery life left, and was still on vibrate from when I had turned it off for our first tour performance. The alarm is set for 6:30 AM every weekday, too, so I'm glad that the package wasn't mistaken for a bomb or anything!

I am very glad to have my purse back!