Uncle Jason and Auntie Mal

Jason and I became “Uncle Jason and Auntie Mal” x 4 this past week. Robert Wesley Schouten was born on October 20th at 12:44am. I told my sister 10/20 would be an easy birthdate to remember and apparently Robby agreed.

Robert Wesley

Robby was only 10 minutes old when that picture was taken, so he looks to be a fairly alert little fellow. I love his chubby little cheeks too!


Jason and I are sad we haven’t been able to meet him in real life yet, but are looking forward to seeing them next month!


I was never the “heartiest” kid growing up. I wasn’t sickly by any means, but growing up with a bunch of hearty-Dutch-farming-type people did make me feel a little scrawny. I was always the one getting hoisted through windows to pull a prank, having to squeeze into the middle, back seat of a car, and occasionally being “thrown around” by my friends, just because they could.

There was definitely a part of my life where I did feel scrawny and weak though. If I remember correctly, I think it started around 6th or 7th grade. We were in a car accident around then, that gave both my mom and I fairly bad whiplash. Both of us spent months going to the chiropractor, massage therapist and/or physical therapist every week. Not long after that, I started getting sick all the time. After I spent about 3 months sleeping through most of the day and having severe stomach pain the rest of the time, we found out I have IBS (“Irritable Bowel Syndrome”) and cannot digest dairy products. Also around that time, I sprained my knee, which instead of going to the doctor for, I just limped around on my good knee, until my good knee became my bad knee. When I got to the point that I could barely walk without my knees buckling, I finally decided “I should probably get that checked out.”

So, by my freshman or sophomore year of high school, I felt like an old woman. I didn’t have the doctor, chiropractor or physical therapy appointments anymore, but I was still weak. If someone jumped on my back, I’d be sore for days. I could walk just fine, but I couldn’t run at all without being in extreme pain 10 minutes later.

My junior year of high school I started my first job as a custodian at our church. It was a fairly physical job and I had to move, setup, and take down tables and chairs, as well as haul cleaning equipment around the church. By my senior year, I had gained quite a bit of strength back. My back rarely gave me any problems, my IBS was under control as long as I watched what I ate, and I usually didn’t have issues with my knees (I still couldn’t run, but I had come to accept that).

The next couple of years were more of the same. If I watched my diet and took it easy on my knees, I felt pretty good. If I decided to eat ice cream or run across the street, I’d have to deal with the consequences. It wasn’t ideal, but it was do-able.

When I was in my early 20s, I started taking a weekly yoga class at my gym. The yoga instructor wasn’t all “earth-loving” or weird, and we didn’t have to close our eyes and picture a waterfall or anything like that. We just stretched, did some strengthening exercises, and had a “cardio yoga” time at the end. As I continued going to that class, I started to feel much stronger and I even have the triceps to prove it!

Now that I’m 25, I’m feeling my strongest. I still go to my weekly yoga class and haven’t had to go to a chiropractor since. I can eat small amounts of dairy without having a terrible reaction. And now, I’ve been able to be more active than ever. Last year, I went to Zumba classes for a few months, until the teacher left.   And now… Jason and I just started doing the Couch-to-5k plan! The idea is that non-runners can build up to running a 5k in 8 weeks. We just completed week 2 and so far, so good. I’m still skeptical that my knees will make it through the whole training plan, but the fact that I’m able to run at all without any pain is a major accomplishment for me.

We’ll definitely keep you updated on our progress (it will help keep us accountable!). 🙂

Happy Birthday, Jason!

Monday is Jason’s 28th birthday and in honor of his birthday, I have listed 28 reasons we all love Jason…

  1. He is kind
  2. He can take multiple broken cars/parts and turn it into one awesome working car
  3. He can make a tv a computer screen… and a computer screen a tv
  4. He is hard working
  5. He will do anything for his friends
  6. He cooks dinner
  7. He puts his dirty socks in the hamper
  8. He loves his family
  9. He is dependable and a man of his word
  10. He will give up his preference to make someone else happy
  11. He has an inner comedian that appears around close friends and family
  12. He loves kids and animals
  13. He doesn’t mind going out of his way to help someone
  14. He always has creative solutions to everyday problems
  15. He remembers all of our anniversaries (even when I don’t)
  16. He made us a website
  17. He is tenderhearted
  18. He cooks an awesome Thanksgiving dinner
  19. He does bizarre projects (synchronizing Christmas lights to music, restoring an old jukebox, building an arcade game/machine/thing, etc.)
  20. He is patient (even when I’m hyper and being obnoxious)
  21. He is steady and doesn’t fly off the handle about things
  22. When he sees something that needs to be done, he does it
  23. He is trustworthy
  24. He is always up for a good adventure
  25. He is a great researcher and can teach himself anything (with a little help from Google)
  26. He is calm and confident
  27. He is a man of integrity
  28. He treats others with love and respect

Happy Birthday, Jason! We love you!