Shaking loose

The best place to start is at the beginning. But I’m not really sure where that is. Or of what beginning I really need to traverse back to in order to tell this story.

Before I had a blog (!!!), before I was married or a mother … I worked with my dad as a Real Estate agent. I started working as his assistant when I was 17 and tried to enroll in the class to get my own license as soon as possible. At 18 I was a licensed agent and fell in-love with homes.

Working with my dad was and is one of the gifts I carry with me every day. He sold Aaron and I our first home. (Fun fact: Terry Brinks was the listing agent. His office was across the hall from my dad’s … )

perry house

We lived there as I continued to work as an agent, helping first time home buyers find their home, helping others sell their first home and move on to the next stage in life. Then my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I couldn’t picture myself doing this without him, so I stopped. In the mean time I got married … soon after got pregnant and all of a sudden our first little house was caving in on us. Just under 2 years after moving in – we moved out.

One of the last deals my dad did was our second home:

For Sale

He died weeks later, the walkthrough of this home was the last he did.

We closed on the sale of this home the day we also had the visitation for his funeral. Because my dad was so well known and loved we had two visitations with a break in the middle: pregnant with Jessica in the throes of grief, I drove to this house between visitations and walked it’s halls.

Lost and lonely.

I grew up in this house, this house changed me. I brought both of my babies home to this house, my husband grew a business in this house. We changed, painted, carpeted, tiled and dreamt in this house. We hosted constant bonfires, play dates, friends and family members. We made memories in this house: we made life.

And then we sold this house.


Terry Brinks. The man I now work with – sits in the very same office my dad sat in 10 years ago. Terry was one of my dad’s best friends, a confidant. He did life with Terry. I grew up with Terry’s kids.

When we decided it was time to sell our second house we knew we had a mountain to climb, we were upside down in the house. Terry listened to us; what was important to us and what our goals were. He helped us understand how to get there – which was anything but a simple 2+2 or A to B.

In an effort to work our way out of the debt we would accumulate by selling our house – Terry worked a few deals with us.

We built a home but he sold it before we moved in. So we rented for a few years, and while renting we tried to buy two other homes with Terry … The Tin Post was the first (at a whopping $29,000) but we were denied a loan because the start up we were currently nursing along.

So we waited a few months, went with a different bank and tried to buy another house which we had full confidence in the ability to move in to. At $56,000 this house was still a steal. And on the day of our closing the bank called and denied us, again.

We were heart broken but Terry was confident that we would be able to buy another house. We had to wait for our current year taxes to file so the start up that closed would no longer reflect our income. I stopped looking entirely.

Then 2012 rolled around, our taxes filed and I looked, just to peek, to see if I could maybe possibly start to hope. And a house on east was sitting there. Great neighborhood. In our price range ($86,000). Good bones, livable until we could afford to remodel …

I called Terry and asked to see it. Aaron was on his way out of town so I went alone, just me and Oliver after dropping Jessica off at school … we looked around and I asked a few questions … called Aaron and then made an offer (less than asking price).

first showing

(This is what would end up being Jessica’s bedroom)

A few weeks later we actually signed papers and got keys. We had kept this house a secret because it was such a miscarriage of hope to keep telling people we were moving when we never did …

we have a home

Until April 27, 2012

this is my house

That’s how we got here.

Late last year I emailed Terry again about a few other homes, I’m interested in starting to purchase property to build a few other dreams. I kept running into Terry, we grabbed drinks, I was working a few things out in my personal life with where to go next, what to do with my time.

And then mid-remodel Terry stopped over to see the progress on our home. He started telling me how he might be looking for someone to help him do his next thing.

Little cubby will be wine storage, thinking this is going to be an accent wall. Primed

He wondered if maybe I was a possible part of that next thing?

Idea mapping and rapping. Sorta. #itsagoodday

Yes. Yes I am.

I work with Terry out of Five Star Real Estate in Holland. Walking through those doors, 12 years later, to come to work, again, was nothing short of divine in so many ways. I was scared to be back here, literally in the same office, possibly in the exact same spot … and I was ecstatic to be back to my first love.

I get to combine what I’m talented at with what I love doing. I have no idea how this qualifies as a job, I get to do what I love.

Thanks for being patient with me here, I can’t wait to show you what we’re doing.

In the mean time, you can follow along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I’m not an agent, I just work for one šŸ˜‰ So if you need to sell your house or want to buy one: you can call Terry (616-355-3777) or email me and we can build your dream, too.

After my dad died I listened for years as friends and family members recounted last words from him, last wishes. Memories or how they felt he had “prearranged” some kind of sign for them … I listened and listened, waiting to hear mine. I listened in silence as the memory faded for so many people, I watched and heard how “step dad” disqualified him from their memory as the man who raised me. I mourned a great loss, all alone … but it turns out he was watching out for me after all.

He didn’t forget me.

And look at me, doing a brand new thing. I can do this, I already am.


Tulip Time 2013

It’s TULIP TIME! I live in Holland, Michigan and I LOVE Tulip Time.

Tulip Time Family Guide_words.jpg.jpg

I’ve been an alumni Dutch Dancer for 7? 8? years, maybe more. My shoes have my initials JMS on them, before I was ever promised S as my last name šŸ˜‰ (Don’t tell Aaron. Ok, do.) So more than 10 years, actually. Either way, I’ve had a few years off with having babies or partners who had babies but I love everything about Tulip Time.

Here’s my go-to tips for how to make it fun for the whole family (and not spend your entire month’s budget on vendor food and carnival rides.)

Tulip Time is all about the Tulips (and festivals, parades, food and fun.) but mostly – per it’s namesake, it’s about Tulips. You should see some.

Windmill Island is a great place to walk around for photos and to get a good feeling for what life used to be like. Rumor has it they have a new park for kids too, which, awesome. It will cost admission during Tulip Time, more info here.

You can always tip toe through the Tulips at Window on the Waterfront. This is our favorite place. Every year we take photos of the beautiful tulips and the kids.

a morning walk

Walking around Centennial Park for Tulips or up and down any street close to the downtown district will yield beautiful photo’s as well.

You can’t miss the food vendors all around during Tulip Time, but your wallet might be wise to. I decided to try and make our favorites at home so we could still enjoy Tulip Time without feeling taken advantage of by our favorite little city. As much as I love Tulip Time and Holland, $6 for a lemonade kind of makes me want to stab things. Tourism!

caramel apples.jpg

My absolute favorite: Caramel Apples.


Our kids’ favorite: Corn Dogs!

Walking Tacos.jpg

Parade food: Walking Taco’s.

Elephant Ears.jpg

Everyone’s favorite: Elephant Ears!!

If you’re venturing into Holland for your very first Tulip Time (even though you’ve lived in West Michigan your entire life!) don’t forget to check out these family friendly places:

Mom’s in Tow is doing their annual Family Rest Area during Tulip Time with activities, specials, freebies and a safe place for you to change/nurse or let your kids be free from a crowd again this year. Usually on 8th St in Pocket Park (next to Cold Stone).

Tip Toes store has a great little tree house that kids are allowed to climb and play in. Shop around, let your little’s use some of the creative energy before being strapped in a stroller.

The Peanut Store is a must. Instead of cotton candy, give your kids $1 or two and let them purchase a treat from Holland’s candy store. (FAVORITE)

I could keep going, this literally is one of my favorite times to live in Michigan. Tulip Time and the summer season that follows. Full of fun!

Ask question in the comments and I’ll be sure to give you my inside guide/tips.

Happy tip-toeing!


Spring Break 2013 {ideas}

There was a possible vacation in the works for Spring Break, demoted to a day trip away, demoted to Tourists In Your Own Town! hashtagexclamationpoint

(This may feel like deja-vu)

Today I’ll make the kids each a “passport”…

Source: viaJodi on Pinterest

Places to see, things to do

on a cultural adventure in our backyard:

  • Study Egyptians! (Embalm a chicken!) (Place to go: Library, grocery store)
  • Holland Museum, take a step back in time.
  • GR Public Museum, Planetarium show. Out of this world! (har har har)
  • Frederick Meijer Gardens, butterfly’s!
  • Host a High Tea – English style. (Places to go: Goodwill, costumes. Library, books/ideas)
  • Adventures of Pippy and Huck! Spend the day navigating local trails, making maps, climbing trees.
  • Big City Adventure. (Use public transit to get everywhere for one day, bikes too)
  • Pick a country: make a flag! (Library or computer time for research, Home for art making)
  • On the job: explore different options. Construction? Let’s build. Food industry? Let’s cook. Engineer? Let’s plan.
  • Great Wall Of China: make eggrolls. (Jessica’s always been fascinated with China)
  • Become an advocate: adopt a species, then raise awareness.

I’m sure I’ll add a few more ideas, less involved ones, or even small outings to a park or playdates. Not all of these ideas will make it into our passports but it’s fun to get the ideas flowing so we’re sure not to miss the many opportunities around us.

If you’re headed on vacation, tell us where! And have fun.

Spring Break Staycation, baby

Not unlike the Summer Jar of yesteryear (oh archives, how fun you are), we’re doing a bit of a grab bag adventure for Spring Break this year, too.

Guess which one @schaapy suggested. #springbreak #todo

It’s also a great week to make use of the all Good Ideas I’ve found via Pinterest.

Moms in Tow does a great job of taking the guess work out of how to fill the hours in the day this week. Months and months of a school schedule can make a rusty wheel of my ideas turn again once the kids are home all day, every day, for a stretch of time.

We’re even considering a night away at the Holiday Inn Express with the Big Dip Waterpark this week for a fun and inexpensive way to vacation at home.

Here’s a few links to places on our list:

Holland Aquatic Center or MVP Athletic Club for swimming.

Grand Rapids Childrens Museum (GRCM) or Deanna’s Playhouse.

Hire People … Are you talented? I know you are. You rock-star, you. Gainful employment awaits your skill set.

Fred-Meijer Gardens – the butterflies are in bloom.

If you’re not jet-setting to a warmer or more adventurous climate, what are you doing this week?