I’m moving!

Want to see my new place? Well, come on over! It’s right here, at The Big Binder. See you there 🙂


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Free Bike Helmets!

OK this is too exciting. I have to squeeze one more post in! I just told you about the Put A Lid On It Program, and it has expanded. The Griffins are going to give bike helmets away at various libraries; and I’m just going to cut and paste their press release in the interest of time.

A.P. has a friend over, and in the course of half an hour they have 1) located the shovel and put dirt all over the slide 2) peed in the yard and 3) removed almost all of their clothes. Meanwhile, the neighbor boy wandered down the street, would not come back with me, so I had to run over and alert his grandma to have her go get him.

I have to keep an eye on these boys.

I know a lot of you love the Grand Cycling Classic (the one that used to be the Priority Health Classic, then changed sponsors and dates) – I am still waiting for online registration to open up because it’s in July this year.  I have a link on my Active Kids page. Enjoy!


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – One hundred local children will receive a new bike helmet at no cost when the Grand Rapids Griffins and Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids host the third annual “Lids at the Library.”

The event will take place on two separate days at branches of the Grand Rapids Public Library and the Kent District Library. KDL’s Wyoming Branch (3350 Michael Ave. SW) will be the site on Tuesday, June 15 at 1 p.m., while GRPL’s West Side Branch (713 Bridge St. NW) will host the event on Thursday, June 17 at 1 p.m.

Volunteers from Safe Kids and the Griffins will be on hand to properly fit these free helmets for the first 50 kids at each location. Helmets for kids ages 1-12 will be distributed (subject to availability), and a parent or legal guardian must be present for a child to receive a helmet. A Griffins mascot will entertain patrons and a variety of information from the Griffins and Safe Kids will be available for pickup.

“Lids at the Library” represents the start of the seventh summer of the Griffins’ award-winning “Put A Lid On It!” (PALOI) helmet safety program, which is presented by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Since the program’s founding in 2004, the Griffins have worked with dozens of local organizations – including Safe Kids, police departments, pediatricians, schools, libraries, bike shops and sporting goods stores – to encourage helmet usage during wheeled sports, prevent head injuries, and reward kids who wear their helmets.

PALOI, which earned the Brain Injury Association of Michigan’s 2007 prevention award, targets elementary and middle school students in a seven-county region of West Michigan. Children age 17 or younger who visit griffinshockey.com with parental permission and sign a pledge to always wear their helmet will be rewarded with a voucher for two free tickets to a 2010-11 Griffins game, and they’ll be registered for a drawing to win a new bike.

Ever-present at local bike races throughout the summer, PALOI will co-sponsor the kids race at the Grand Cycling Classic for the second straight year, providing helmets to the first 150 kids who register for the July 10 event.

Information for parents, including tips for choosing a helmet and getting children to wear it, is available at griffinshockey.com. For more information about the program, call (616) 774-4585 ext. 3046.

The “Put A Lid On It!” program is supported by Centennial Securities, Comcast, Dean Foods and Delta Subaru.

2010 PALOI Event Schedule

June 15 – Lids at the Library – KDL Wyoming Branch (1 p.m.)*

June 17 – Lids at the Library – GRPL West Side Branch (1 p.m.)*

June 18 – Bike Rodeo at Glen Valley Dentistry in Caledonia (10 a.m.-1 p.m.)

June 19 – Bike Rodeo at Walker Ice Arena (8:30-11 a.m.)

July 3 – Kentwood Fourth of July Parade (9:30 a.m.)

July 4 – East Grand Rapids Fourth of July Parade

July 10 – Grand Cycling Classic*

Aug. 3 – National Night Out

Aug. 7 – U.S. Coast Guard Festival Grand Parade in Grand Haven (11:45 a.m.)

Aug. 7 – Ada Criterium

Aug. 22 – Gaslight Criterium in East Grand Rapids

All events subject to change

* Helmet distribution event

PALOI By the Numbers

10 – West Michigan police and sheriff’s departments that participate in our ticket voucher reward program.

18 – Michigan counties with kids who’ve made a helmet pledge.

60 – Michigan cities with kids who’ve made a helmet pledge.

1,649 – Different kids who’ve made a helmet pledge through griffinshockey.com since 2004, including many who’ve done so on an annual basis.

9,500 – Free Griffins tickets awarded to kids through the voucher reward program since 2004.

$15,000 – Grants provided by the Griffins to local Safe Kids organizations for the purchase of more than 1,500 helmets that have been distributed free to needy kids since 2004.



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Fun City this weekend!

Aaaah, Festival. Streets full of people and art and of course, that one crazy guy who carries around the giant picket sign and yells at everyone that the world is ending.  Little kids from local dance studios performing on the ‘big’ stage in front of a huge crowd absolutely thrilled because they’re famous.

Children soak up the art and don’t even realize it. They participate in the activities, but also swing on a tire swing which, by the way, is a di Suervo sculpture and stroll right under a bright, giant Calder. Tacos in a bag, lamb on a stick, and Bosnian meat pies. Halava, shrimp quesadillas…

This is my Grand Rapids. This is what I want people who don’t live here to see, and what I want people who do live here to notice. Festival brings it all together. That’s what I’m doing this weekend.

Well, that, and – moving Big Binder to it’s own website. Yep. I’ll be adding bells and whistles all weekend.  Check the Calendar, Active Kids and the Summer in the City now, because I don’t know if you’ll be able to access it for a couple of days. I have been updating the heck out of them, so there is new stuff there. Don’t worry, I’ll be back for sure on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

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Then there was the time I fell off the treadmill..

After finishing a 5K, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with this whole running thing. I took a week off, and then started getting up early to run. I mean early – my husband leaves for work at 6:30 and I run so slow if I want to get any distance covered I have to leave the night before.  Just kidding. I leave at 5:15. That’s AM. It’s ridiculous.

I could have kept running on the treadmill at a decent hour, but about two weeks before the race I fell off. To be entirely accurate, I hopped off to adjust the fan to a more favorable position (blowing directly on me – I was hot), and for reasons I still can’t understand, absent-mindedly tried to step back on the treadmill while it was, uh, milling.

It shot me off the back and in the process gouged my shins and knees. I had super ugly scabs and still have the “Something happened here. Something bad” look going on both knees.  And that was two months ago.  I get nervous when I hop on a treadmill now.  I think it’s the fear of the stupid thing I will do next, maybe stop to bend over and tie my shoes? 

So outside is the way to go. My dog has a little pack to carry her waste disposal bags and my phone (it has compartments…) and away we go. It’s fun. It’s peaceful. I feel AWESOME when I’m done. I felt like I owned this little three mile section of Grand Rapids. 

That was, until I hurt my shoulder. Running. It takes a special gift to hurt your shoulder running, so let me share it with you.

First, you don’t look at the ground. You look all around, at the pretty flowers that are blooming, the recycling bins  people forgot to take in, the rabbit that just saw your dog and is bolting away. Also, make sure you are running downhill, otherwise this won’t work as well. Next you’ll want to trip over a little bump up in the sidewalk, but make sure you dog isn’t aware of it. It’s only this way that you will be able to have your arm fully extended when you fall.  This is the crucial piece for ensuring shoulder injury, but downhill effect maximizes the amount of gravel that gets into your hands. And your knees. Oh, your knees.

I lost a little steam after that. I mean not that day, but in general. I’ve been out a few times since then, but I started cheating on running.  Doing classes at the gym. Zumba, even. I love to dance and have the temptation to quit running altogether and adjust my career goals to being a Fly Girl on the off-chance that In Living Color makes a comeback.

But I can’t. Just like running that stupid 5K, I had to do it. 

So I am running a 10K. It’s not until October, but given my propensity for ridiculous injury and extremely slow speed, I need to start now.  I would describe my relationship with running as the ultimate love/hate one. I feel like I need to kick it’s ass but in the process, it kicks mine. Did you notice? The only time I use swear words on Big Binder is when I’m talking about running. It’s a determination and an energy that feels like a competition; but I’m only competing with myself. And I love it.

For more Things I Love Thursday, check out the Diaper Diaries.

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Goin’ Fishin’

works for me wednesday at we are that family

My brother and I are the same age. Actually, he is about six weeks older than I am. We are not freak-of-nature twins, in fact, we don’t look anything alike. That’s because he is adopted.  I don’t see him very often, because he moved away right after high school to become a fishing guide in Alaska.

When I do see him, Maybelle is scared of him. He looks like a fishing guide in Alaska, if fishing guides in Alaska were half Cambodian, very tall, and with long hair.  He sort of has this mountain-man presence. And he is all fishing, all the time.

He has always been that way. He actually skipped school to go fishing when he was little. Once, he fell down a bank, cut his head open bad, and didn’t come home because “the fish were biting. There were always ‘spawn bags’ (so gross) in the freezer growing up, and I watched more Carp get carved up and become egg donors to bait other fish than any one person probably should.

Maybe it’s because he survived by fishing in Viet Nam before coming over on the U.S. to be adopted, or maybe it’s just in his blood. Even if my kids aren’t biologically related to him, I still believe in a sense of destiny with this. A.P. loves to eat fish as much as his Uncle Kyle loves to catch them, and I think it’s time to take him fishing.

Maybelle doesn’t like to eat fish, but I still think she will enjoy fishing.  I hope having this in common with my brother will make her less afraid of him. I don’t even know where to begin with this, so I’ve been poking around a little to figure out just how to cultivate our new hobby.

  • I found a website called “Fishy Kid” with advice and suggestions about taking kids fishing  There is even a contest, which I think is awesome because I can’t wait to take a picture of Maybelle with a little bluegill she caught.
  • June 12 and 13 are part of the Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan. Check out the Calendar for more information, or with your state’s Department of Natural Resources because this is going on in many states.
  • In Grand Rapids, June 16, 23, 20 and July 7 are Free Fishing Days at Versluis Lake. Check out the Calendar for details. 
  • On June 29 kids can practice bating hooks and casting in Ada Park. Details are on the Calendar.
  • If there is a day we can’t fish, we can always check out the Fish Ladder downtown.
  • And because I can’t let a chance to create a theme get past me, I found this website, complete with online fishing games, and I’m certain some gummy fish/jello creations are in our near future.

Go check out We Are THAT Family for more things to do when your kids say, “Mom – I’m bored!”

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Top 10 Things About Strawberries

top-ten-tuesday.jpgStrawberries are almost here! I know this, because I obsessively check the farm’s website starting around Easter, and the latest harvest estimate is June 12. Since I have strawberries on the brain, let me share some information you’ll be glad you don’t have to live another day without.

  1. Earlier is better.  The first crop is the sweetest. I don’t know why, that’s what the lady at the Strawberry Farm told me. Perhaps it is a marketing technique, (“buy early! buy often!”) but I am not messing with it.
  2. I really want to try this recipe for Fresh Strawberry Limeade Slush from Amy’s Finer Things.  It looks like something you’d find on a cruise ship.
  3. There are over 200 seeds on every strawberry.
  4. Apparently, they are not a berry after all.  They are a fruit.
  5. This is an absolutely amazing resource about where to find a strawberry (or any berry. or fruit. or whatever) farm near you.
  6. I know Megan in real life, and sincerely hope she finds an occasion to make this Strawberry Cake where I will be in attendance.
  7. You can dip strawberries in all kinds of things; not just chocolate. For the record, I am not against dipping them in chocolate. Not at all.
  8. I try to have the best of both worlds with this picking-from-the-field stuff.  I let my kids pick a few quarts, but order up a couple of flats already picked too.  I would grow old and die right there in the field before my kids got enough berries for me.
  9. I still have a few quarts of strawberries in the freezer from last year. Oops. I just didn’t want to run out. Way to live on the edge.
  10. I also make jam, and can it. It’s crazy good. Four cups of sugar will do that to anything, though.

For more Top Ten Tuesday, check out OhAmanda!

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You have a baby! In a BASKET!

This has nothing to do with Moses, although I can understand why you would thing that from the title. No, it’s about making your kids wear bike helmets. You have to do it. You have to. Every time. Even short rides can pose danger, but mostly it’s just easier to make them get used to it so there is no struggle. My husband has really been the driving force in our family for bike safety, but I am not without my own good reason for wanting to make sure those little heads are protected.

When I was not quite two, my parents borrowed my grandparents’ tandem bike.  The bike had a basket in the front which, apparently, was the perfect size for a not quite two year old girl.  Mom hopped on, Dad hopped on, I was in the basket, and away we went! A cute little family on a bike, tooling around the town of Warren, Michigan.  I picture lots of smiling, warm sunshine, and a nice breeze, although I really have no idea. Then:   WHAM. They hit a bump. I flew out of the basket and – this is the part that makes me laugh so hard I can’t talk – my parents ran over me.

My family gets mad at me when we talk about it because I go into hysterics and those who can remember insist that IT’S NOT FUNNY. No, no it’s not. It’s hilarious.

It was the 70’s.

But this is now, and it’s no longer OK to put babies in baskets. My husband wouldn’t even put our kids in the Burley until they were two, and even then it was with little toddler helmets that made them look like bobble-heads.  It’s OK though, because this is where what we need to do and what we want to do converge. You know we love us some Griffins Hockey around here. One of the reasons we can afford to see so many games is the Put A Lid On It program. 

If your child promises to wear a helmet EVERY TIME, the Grand Rapids Griffins will send them a voucher for two free tickets to use during the upcoming season.  It’s a great way to talk to your kids about bike safety, and a reassurance to ours at least that yes, hockey season will come back someday.

While you’re at it, hop over to the Active Kids page to see if there are any bike races your kids can participate in.  It’s being updated all the time, so check back as the summer goes on.

So to recap: no babies in baskets, make your kids wear helmets, and score some Griffins tickets. Good stuff, I tell you.

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