What’s a cup of coffee worth to you?

It’s official! I’m in training for something very meaningful and difficult!

I’m training to run (walk, stumble) the 40 mile Solstice Run organized by On The Ground to raise awareness and funds for women’s empowerment programs in the DR Congo. The run will begin at sunset on Friday, June 20th in Leelanau County. It will continue south 40 miles through the night, ending at sunrise in Traverse City. At which point I will drink a beer and collapse on the shoreline.

The funds raised will be used to launch OTG’s next project area in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where OTG will focus on women’s empowerment programs. Together with our supporters and partners we’re working to bring peace and transformation for women’s lives in the eastern DRC region where hundreds of women, mostly widows, feel the brunt of difficulties in the conflict stricken area.

On The Ground recently returned from recent visits to the Lake Kivu region of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where program work is being developed with coffee cooperatives, communities and partnering NGO’s to empower women coffee farmers.

Project Congo initiatives will promote peace and women’s equality while highlighting the inspirational people and stories. The work aims to break the chains of poverty and conflict through the funding and support of women empowerment groups in the coffee cooperative system.

Learn more by visiting www.onthegroundglobal.org

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On a personal note, as a regular and avid coffee drinker, I’m especially drawn to the mission of this particular program. I can’t drink coffee anymore without thinking about the coffee growers around the world. Will you consider donating a few bucks toward the effort?

Perhaps look at it this way:

Donation of $2 – one cup of fair trade coffee

Donation of $10 – bag of fair trade coffee

Every dollar counts. I appreciate your support!

Click here to donate whatever you can to my goal of $1000 through Razoo.

 

Here’s a little photo from today’s training run at 5 a.m. It was 20 degrees with some new snow on April 15… Run on!

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I plan on posting more information about my training, motivation, the DRC and what keeps me going. Any questions? Thanks for your support!

Do hard things.

 

The birdies. 12/52

Portraits of Wren and Phoebe each week, every week of the year.

As it turns out, I’m not very good at editing. A couple pics of each girl, plus a couple of them together.

Chris knew I didn’t quite get enough winter, so he got us out of the house today for a glorious return to the ice caves. The sun felt so great on our cheeks even though the thermometer didn’t get above twenty. Kind of strange when 20 feels warm enough to take your coat and mittens off… it was so quiet and still. No wind at all. We all needed some fresh air and had an unforgettable time playing around. We love you, winter! More pics later this week. Just a sneak peek now…

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Phoebe loved to sit and eat the fresh powder. Um, hello, this is a once-in-a-lifetime (um, now twice) experience!

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Watching out for polar bears.IMG_0170

Wren was putting on an ice show for us. Bummed we didn’t bring her skates!

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Wren is peeking her head over the top. Gives it a good sense of scale…

And a couple more pics of our time on icy West Bay earlier in the week before the recent snowfall. Sisters:

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Don’t worry about the cracks, lovelies. The ice is at least 18 inches thick. Yes, it’s been that cold. We’re going to be swimming here in three months?!

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bye bye, winter

The thing is, lovelies, I really love winter. And this has been an epic one. This is the one we’ll be talking about for years. Well, we’re still talking about it because we’re still buried deep in snow and were blessed with a few fresh inches last night. Although I’ll be happy to see the snow pants, mittens and boots go away and the ease of life that flip-flop weather brings, I’m truly sad to see this winter go. It has been a real northern Michigan winter with its record-low temperatures, consistent snow cover, perfectly groomed ski trails, ice cover and quiet, beautiful blanket of white. And more than two weeks of total school days were missed to “snow days” for the school kids! Crazy.

As we welcome spring into our lives with its mud, muck and the hopeful planting of peas, I’ll share a few pics from our winter. The year we “survived the polar vortex!” The year we really did not see the ground between Thanksgiving and well, I’m guessing early April given how snowy it still is. You gave us one helluva good time, winter. Cheers!

A few highlights…

We ice skated with family.

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We visited the northern Michigan ice caves. Full account of our day here.

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Wren made the most of the Winter Fest by playing three rounds of frozen putt-putt golf.

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Phoebe ate her weight in snow. The kid loves to eat snow. It must be how she stays so slim.

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I skate skiied the 27K VASA race. Absolutely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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Phoebe learned to play in the snow for more than three minutes at a time.

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Our nest got buried. And Chris kept on shoveling.

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And shoveling.

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Wren learned to downhill ski. She’s beginning to make some good turns.

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Our indoor snowman kept us happy because we still have yet to make a real outdoor snowman. It’s been too cold! The snow is tough to pack. Maybe this week!

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I ran a race with a fun group of ladies. This was a VERY cold day.

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A few snowballs were formed.

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Our snow bunny.

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I participated in SheSkis this year – a great group of female skiiers. I got 4th place in our paintball biathlon! The week before I got to try out a fat bike on the ski trails. So fun!

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The week after, Chris got to ride a fat bike out and around Power Island! He said it was like riding on the moon.

1920086_859729233675_1469025296_nDaily scene in our nest…

photo 2This snow bunny is ready for spring. I told her it was spring today and she made sure to wear her rain coat.

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I took the girls skating on West Bay this week. It was incredible!

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Although we didn’t go, we had fun watching the ice boats on West Bay last weekend. Incredible stuff.

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I’m getting a bit teary just reviewing these photos from our incredible winter. And I’m also left thinking, “we didn’t ski enough!” and “We didn’t sled enough!” and “We didn’t skate enough!” There’s always April.

Happy spring, lovelies.

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help self!

The littlest birdie is getting feisty. Could be that she’s got a mild (!) case of spring fever or maybe, well, yes, she IS two. Very two right now.

Me: Phoebe, may I help you with that? Phoebe: Me. Help. SELF, MAMA!!!!

She’s been picking out her clothes.

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And melting our hearts. Because she’s mostly sweet with a side of feisty. A great combination, don’t you think?

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this and that

The Polar Vortex continues here in northern Michigan, although we’ve got less than three weeks until spring. It’s been in the single digits almost every day for a while. This has meant that we’ve had A LOT of indoor time. It feels like we’re at school/work, car, home, store, church, repeat as needed. The windchills have been so low that we just don’t last too long outside, especially the littlest birdie. So we’ve been trying to embrace our indoor time (cabin fever…) with some creative activities (lots of painting and drawing) and lots of free play. Oh, and about five thousand YouTube clips of Frozen. Ahem.

Sight word study. Great use for plastic eggs from last year…

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Wren made me a sticker set from little white Avery labels. Oh my, my hands are dry.

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The girls have been playing pretty nicely together. Most of the time. They made a big forest scene then ran the train through it.

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Then all hell broke loose. Well, not really, but you know how it goes… all this indoor free play gets, err, messy.

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How is your cabin fever, lovelies?

 

 

northern Michigan ice caves

Northern Michigan has been buzzing recently with talk of the infamous “ice caves” that have formed between Leland and Northport along the Lake Michigan shoreline. We decided to venture out to see just how amazing they really were.

Skeptic/snob alert: usually when a lot of people say something is “so amazing “and “so awesome,” I have a tendency to tune out. Just like the books that are at the top of the best seller lists; usually when a lot of people read something, it makes me think that it’s not very well-written and I avoid it. So. Northern Michigan ice caves… hmm.

You guys.

They ARE amazing. Awesome. Once we slid over the ice, hoisted each other over the top of the caves, scrambled a bit and got down to them… I turned around, gasped a bit and teared up. I was stunned. Kids were playing around, sliding and yelling, “this is awesome!” The late afternoon light was incredible. The ice formations at this scale? I had never seen anything quite like it and I wondered if we would again.

Photo alert: there are a lot.

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What an impactful experience for all of us, but especially for the children. Nature is amazing. God is amazing. We live in an incredible place.

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It was one of those rare experiences in nature when I felt deep and wide in my heart that there is an incredible force that’s greater than all of us, within all of us, hugging all of us tight.

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The scale.IMG_7072

My ice birdies.IMG_7070

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And with the warm-up this week, these are sure to become hazardous. It truly felt like a once-in-a-lifetime gift. And it was worth every minute of the slippery hike down and the long walk back with cold, hungry, whiny birdies.IMG_7056

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sunset

Thank you, ice caves. Thank you, Mother Nature. Thank you, God. We are refreshed and renewed.

the day we stopped composting

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Another casualty of the Polar Vortex? Our compost bin. It’s frozen and can’t easily be reached since we’ve received over 150″ of snow this winter. Actually in all fairness to winter, we received a helluva lot of snow before winter even began (just over a month ago!). So the sad time has come to stop composting until the next thaw, err, July. Sigh.

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See you in the spring, swings and slide.

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It might be about time to refill the feeders for our feathered friends…