Friday, June 30, 2006

Home again.

I can now return to my "regular scheduled programs". The family and I are back home from our stay in Minnesota, logging hundreds of miles in the car and a round-trip boat ride via the Lake Express Ferry out of Muskegon.
If you had been in the seat next to me on the last leg of the ferry ride last night you would have heard me say such things as, "We have too many kids" and "this is probably the last time our family is allowed to ride the ferry." But, we made it back home safely, a little bit ragged around the edges and needing some long hot baths and naps, but home nevertheless. It feels good.
We had a great time with all our family and even brought one home with us. =) Cousin Aly is here in Michigan for the next couple of weeks. She's been a big help and fun to have along with us already.
Tonight I'm thinking of pulling out the big malt glasses for a round of Coke floats in memory of the last time Teagan had one with Chip... five years ago today. It's fun for the kids, and it helps me to stay connected to my happy memories of life with Teagan. I know I posted this scrap layout not too long ago, but it just seems fitting to post again today. Maybe it will inspire you to make a meaningful, fun memory with someone you love today too. Simply because you have today, and it's important to enjoy living in the moment. We often take the little moments in life for granted. I've learned that those are the moments that matter most!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just checking in.

I'm still here. Still on "vacation" in Minnesota toting the kids around the Twin Cities and hoping they are soaking up this time with extended family. It always goes so quickly and there are more things we wish we could do and see. It makes part of me wish I lived closer and then the other part realizes how much I enjoy where I currently reside. And even though we don't live that far away from here, it's funny to me how I am definitely hearing a "Minnesota accent" now that I've been away for awhile. I should go rent the movie "Fargo" now and see what I think about the characters.
That'll have to wait, because I don't have 2 hours of freetime. And if I did have freetime, I'd probably rather scrap a new layout. =)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

the pictures...

Here are the pictures to go along with the previous post. Blogger wasn't cooperating with me last night. It was like having another kid around at bedtime! =) Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I'm wondering how come I get so worn out when I'm on vacation? Does this happen to you too? My kids should be so worn out by {before} bedtime each night, and instead, they fight settling down, they saty up late and then they wake too early.
So early, that a couple of them almost ruined a trip to the local Caribou Coffee shop the other morning. That's nearly impossible to do, but they're so tired that it happened. Hot raspberry reindeer drink down the shirt, wildberry smoothie all over the car seat- all while my Caramel High Rise goes cold and the whipped cream melts down. It was drinkable, but just not my morning cup of perfection. Oh well. I'm on vacation, right?!
So, we're worn out, and working on bedtime, but still we're with family so it's a good time. See us all lined up? We're on a walk back from a park- so looking a little {tired} once again, but together- and that means happy.
I got my scrap album mailed out and submitted for the contest. You may never hear another word about this little album beyond this post because nothing may ever come of it. Still, I thought I'd show you a few pictures of my cover and an inside peek just to calm you scrap-happy bloggers down a bit.
Now, if I could just get my kids to like sleeping as much as I enjoy scrapping things would be golden on this vacation. =)

Thursday, June 22, 2006


This is a live post all the way from Minnesota! We're all here, back home, enjoying family and food. I recommend the ferry boat to anyone traveling from Michigan to Wisconsin/Minnesota. It was a good ride, and saved time and energy.
Today is my Grandma Shirley's 82nd birthday. We had a party for her and I was so glad to have my kids here to celebrate with her. They loved the cake and frosting...and I'm sure she loved having them around. Happy birthday, Grandma!
We've got some crazy cousins, as you can see. And we all share a love of premium coffee- which you see played out in the picture of Brock slurping a Caramel Coffee Cooler with his cousin and friend. I just have to type this that he keeps telling Aly off and on, "Aly, I love you. This is my best vacation ever because I'm with you." He totally looks up to her and adores her and of course, talks her ear off. I hope she doesn't mind.
One more side note for all you scrappers that keep stopping by to see layouts...
I apologize for the fact that I can't show you more stuff. Maybe I'll post a picture of the cover of the album I'm submitting- just a little peek. I have a trip planned to the Archivers store during my stay here- which could ruin my vacation budget all by itself. In a very good way!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

For those of you who just have to know-

I did it. I've got all my scrap layouts done! 20 of them to be exact. For those of you who don't scrap, you have no idea how great it is to have a full album of fresh scrap layouts. This is the first big thing I've done all for me since creating this Nitty.Gritty. blog. Oh yeah... I think I'm totally and officially addicted to scrapping. Only time will tell if that's a good or bad thing. Once again I have to say a huge, "Thanks" to Rachael (Have you stopped by her blog yet?! She posted the layout I did for her in case you want to see one of my originals.) and to hubby, Chip. These two put up with my crazy obsession and {mostly} support what I am doing.
Now, I still have packing and lots of stuff to do- maybe even bake a batch of zucchini bread tonight. Happy Father's Day to all my 'dad' readers (especially Andy & Tom K. & know who you are)...and special wishes to my own Dad today (who I get to see and hug in person in 2 days!). He reads whenever my sister pulls it up online. I think I'll get him some more computer help while I'm home for his gift. Love you!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wish me luck!

In case I go missing here in the next few days {or weeks}, don't worry. Just wish me luck. I am in the process of trying to scramble and get all my scrap pages done and packaged all funky- so that they get noticed enough that they might earn me a finalist spot in the contest I submit them to. Crazy- I know.
Even crazier is the fact that my latest layout is about my love of French Toast and I totally scrapped "outside the bun" on this page! Probably a little too far out... and when I get around to it I will post it here so you can judge for yourself how far off the deep end I've gone!
So, scrapping and recovering from hubby being sick and gonna try to organize and pack for 6 of us road-tripping and ferrying back home to Minnesota for 10 days. Talk about being in for a "wild ride"! (Chip gets to stay home and log an outrageous amount of hours at work- to make up for time lost and to get ready for the Club's Member/Guest weekend. Wish him luck too!)
Oh yeah. Got my hair cut and it feels so much better. I picked up some hair products, some new hanging-out-in-the-summer clothes (tanks, tees, cargos...) and scrap product too. Feeling good about new stuff. =)
I'm gonna try to design and whip out some wedding programs for a friend before heading out on my trip too. I'm telling you. I've got a full plate, and I'll miss you all if I'm not back here everday. I have good intentions, and almost always have a story or two to tell. I don't think I can stay away too long. By the way, yes, I did grab my camera on the way to the ER the other day. I'm constantly thinking "photo ops"!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Expanding on yesterday's post

I looked back at my entry yesterday and realized that I neglected to explain the self-pic. I meant to include that I was wearing a little bandana again, as I am in dire need of a cut and color. Some of you can relate to a mom sacrificing her own looks for the sake of everything going on around you, right?!
I added the picture to show how I looked at that moment in time- not my best shot, but smiling and hanging in there, as usual.
Chip is feeling a bit weak and achy yet, but I think on the upswing- finally. And I am planning on sneaking in a much-needed hair appointment today. A little Advil for the hubby and a hair trim for myself and life is returning to "normal".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nothing like hanging out in an ER...

... and I should know. Been there lots of times in this lifetime. More trips to the ER than I care to recount or try to remember. So, didn't I just post about how I love the ordinary, uneventful days of my life just days ago? I guess I needed a quick reminder- which I got today as I trekked off to our local hospital ER for the afternoon.
The pictures here were taken just hours (actually minutes) ago. Chip (hubby) was in having blood work and a spinal tap after 6 days of high fever and chills. Thankfully everything checked out okay and now we have to keep him comfortable and resting for the next 2 days.
So, I realized that I go to doctor visits/therapy programs and even the ER as often as some of you go to your local Target store. It has become such a normal part of my routine that I admit I am sort of callous to the whole hospital scene. It just doesn't phase me like it used to. I know what to expect and just hope for the best once we get there. I think I've learned the lesson that ultimately God is in control- so why should I waste my energy fretting about what could happen? It's a good lesson for all of us- to take life in stride. To not let the things we can't control affect how we think and feel. Ask my nanny Rachael if it's really true. She'll probably tell you about how I light-heartedly handled the news of Chip's ER visit today.
When I got the phonecall, Chip said he was going to have a spinal tap. Of course I said a few nice words of support, but then I said maybe we could bake a cake and cupcakes spell out M-E-N-I-N-G-I-T-I-S and have a party. I figured we should turn the not-so-fun event into a memorable occasion.
Needless to say, we are home and Chip is resting and now I can go bake a cake that says, "Thank goodness Daddy doesn't have meningitis". I know I could get some great pictures of that party and turn them into scrap pages that we could look back on for years to come. See? I told you that there is something to be said about taking life in stride.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Me + 7-course dinner = Happiness

I don't know why blogger uploads pictures in a different order than I try to post them, but I think you'll get the idea here anyway. These pictures were taken at dinner the other night in which I enjoyed everything from scallops in a sweet pea puree to lamb on a bed of barley pilaf to the best little brownie topped with homemade chocolate mint icecream. I'm editing here for the sake of making you not feel as though you missed out on something THAT wonderful. Although in truth, you did. =)
I love a meal or anything else in life (a good movie, book, roadtrip, latte...or anything in between), which makes you forget for a moment the stresses of life, the not-so-pretty things that we do from day to day, or the challenges you face on the horizon, if even for an hour or two. My meal, the company and environment which surrounded it, did just that the other night. I have never had a bad experience at the Artisan Cooking School; I don't believe that is even a possibility. This place has charm and character, and top notch food. After I eat a meal there, I am happy for at least a few days afterwards, simply beacause of the experince, the memories, and the happiness it brought out in me. Love that!
Maybe it's all the calories that stick with me that make me feel so good. No matter. It's well worth it!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Where I work, what I do,

Today and tomorrow I will working at the Golf Club in my position as event coordinator. I've mentioned it before, but I have to say it once again, I love this job. It can definitely be "work" at times, but it is such a perfect fit for me.
I love to see how bride's choose to decorate the room, and the colors and personal touches they add are almost always interesting and fun. I get to see my hubby work and that makes me happy because he LOVES his job too. I snapped some pictures of the wedding that took place last week, and when I zoomed in closer on one, I saw the bride's train being adjusted as she stepped out of the clubhouse to walk down the aisle, by none other than, my husband. I found that funny. No personal attendant or usher or friend- no, it was the general manager of the course making sure that everything was perfect for her.
Tonight and tomorrow I will be working weddings. As well as most of the rest of the weekends all summer. I hope the DJ or band plays the "Shuffle" tonight! =)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Summer at my house today... (take 2)~

Being the camera crazy person that I am, here are some new summer pictures from just moments ago. We have a pool blown up but there is no water in it yet. I figure the kids are having so much fun, why should I make more work for myself at this point? I'm sure there will be water in it by this early afternoon. I'm a simple mom, but I try not to deprive my kids. =)


I pulled this picture of Bella out of my stash of photos from last summer. I loved this one the moment I snapped it- I wish I looked that good in a two-piece. =)
Anyway, summer is here for our family and that means our schedule changes up a bit. I won't guarantee daily postings here. Some days just fly by faster than others; I'm the kind of mom who just does things spontaneously so I never really know how things will play out.
Yesterday I did a whole lot of stuff and didn't feel like I accomplished a thing. Although I had a great time doing it. Well, aside from administering Wyndham's shot at bedtime...I had a moment. I'm sure it's one my friend/nanny will never forget- she saw a side of me that most of you will never see. Lucky YOU! Maybe she will write about it on her own blog. Although, I may have to proofread it first.
There you go. Details of my life. And some of you have been checking back here more than once just to read this? Sorry. I usually don't like to write a lot of meaningless banter; what can I say? Even Nitty.Gritty. has her slow days. Remember, that's how I like 'em.
Tomorrow, or soon thereafter, you will be getting pics of me enjoying dinner at my favorite little place- Artisan Cooking School. Dinner there always makes me happy for at least 3 days. I love summer!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Slow & steady wins the race.

Remember that saying from the tale, "The tortise and the hare"? Well, today we saw the reality of that simple truth played out in real life.
Wyndham had an appointment with her endocrinologist today (do you have an endocrinologist in your life? just kidding.), who is the doctor who charts her growth and prescribes her hormone treatments. She gets a shot daily, since it was determined after the head injury she sustained caused trauma to her pituitary gland, that her body no longer produces the growth hormone she needs to grow properly.
Wyndham was small at birth, but was catching up nicely when she was injured. She weighed only 12 pounds at the age of one. (I know...some of your babies weighed that at one month!) Anyway, the point of this post and the title is that today at Wyndham's doctor appointment, for the first time in 5.5 years, Wyndham's height and weight actually fell ON THE CHART! Granted, she is in the 1% for both, but the point is she is making progress and she is within reach of the other kids her age and size. SO, tonight when I give her the shot she needs, I won't feel quite as badly as I have been feeling about it all these years. I know that what she has to go through isn't always fun for her- but it is paying off.
Thanks to so many of you who continue to remember our family on a daily basis. We never dreamed 5 years ago that we would have to endure some of the challenges that have come our way, but we have learned many worthwhile lessons along the way. One day I hope to write a chapter in my book about how I never dreamed Wyndham would become __________. I know it's gonna be something really wonderful!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Today's buzz- literally...

I am the kind of person who has learned to love the ordinary, simplest days in my life. That means, I thrive on waking up, having the kids in relatively good moods, getting breakfast, changing diapers, throwing in a load or two of laundry, blogging, letting the kids pull out every toy and book in sight, Gameboy music in the background, laughter, fighting, lunch mostly on the floor, playing outside, doing chalk on the driveway, drippy popsicles on 4 little faces, coming inside to cool down and watch Spongebob, blogging, thinking about dinner, more mess, more cleanup, baths, folding laundry, jammies, teeth brushing, devotions, getting 4 little ones to stay in bed, more blogging or scrapbooking, and finally bedtime.
That's how I like my days to go. Totally uneventful- no puking, no fevers, no bloodshed, no trips to the ER- those are my dream days.
Today was close. Except for the bee in the car on the way home from picking up Wyndham from therapy. There were 4 kids strapped in carseats in the back of my Honda Odyssey when Brock announced, "there's a bee back here." I said, "I'm sure it's a fly, don't worry." "No, Mom. It's really a bee, I think." "See? You're not sure. It's most likely a fly."
By this time, Ava is shrieking as it buzzes by her head which brings out the best laugh I have heard from Bella in a long time. She couldn't stop her laughter. Brock was now yelling, "It's a bee and it's gonna get Ava!"
I was just exiting off the freeway and had no place to stop. There were construction vehicles and workers on both sides. So, I pulled just beyond the first stop sign and turned into the parking lot of the local minigolf/go-cart site. Bella got all excited. "We get to go golfing!" "No, Bella. We're trying to save Ava from a bee in the van." Really, I was more concerned it was gonna get me, as it was buzzing just behind my neck. I still thought it was a fly, but I saw when I stopped Brock had been right all along and it was an angry bee by the time I got the door open. Just in time.
So, that was the excitement in my life today. Nobody got hurt, just lots of yelling and laughter. Just the way I like my days.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

This is what happens when your sister has a blog.

Happy Birthday, Steph! What did you expect from me? A simple card or a meaningless present? No way. Today, because I know you read this blog whenever you get the chance, I am telling all my readers how lucky I am to have the world's greatest big sister. You're it.
I have fallen short over the years of telling people I love most in my life just how special they are to me. Today, this airtime goes to Stephanie. You can't help but hear me loud and clear- I think you're amazing. In case you wondered what I really thought about you all these years!
You know I've always wished I could do things as effortlessly as you do them...from piano playing, to the style of your clothes, to the straight A's you got in every class you ever enrolled in. You have a knack for making things in your life look easy- even when they're not. That's how good you are!
I've been so lucky to have you in my life- and I've enjoyed all the crazy things we've done through the years- including raiding newspaper stands late in the night on Sunday's to grab the last of the papers just to get extra coupons!! We're so bad! =) Don't pretend you're too old to remember those days.
I love you with all my heart. Even when I called you "Fancy Feast" was because I admired you and I still do. I know you don't like to be in the spotlight (as much as I love it {wink}), so to have your pictures here probably makes you blush in front of your computer screen. I did it because I think you deserve a little recognition for your greatness.
You've been one of my biggest supporters in my life- always quietly there for me and praying for me and encouraging me with cards and especially putting up with all my wild and crazy ideas. I miss living so far from you, but as you know, I think often about Heaven. It even makes the distance between us easier to bear for one main reason.
I know when we get there we will live on the same golden street and we will have all eternity to make up for the times we are missing one another down here. I can't wait! Our neighbors are gonna love the block parties that we host and we'll never run out of fun things to do together. From singing to laughing to just being together.
But before that I hope we still share lots of moments that can't compare to any other times in life- because we are sisters. I hope you had a wonderful birthday today. You deserve it...and next time we're together we'll make up for today by having a hunk of carrot cake or mud pie or Grand Ol' Creamery ice cream or a coconut latte or...
I think you get it now. We'll do something totally calorie-laden, but so wonderful it will not matter! Happy Nitty.Gritty. thirty-something (I'm too nice to reveal your age here) Birthday, Steph. I lucked out getting you in my life!
P.S. To Jacque... your day is coming, next month!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A glimpse of what awaits me...

I just had to follow up with a few more of my thoughts on all that has transpired this week regarding the Cerak and VanRyn families. I have thought about these families and imagined some of what they are going through at this time of confusion and trying to sort out all the details.
Although my story is very different than the one being played out in front of them right now, I do share some of their emotions and have felt the pain of losing a daughter. What I can't help but think about is the joy and reality of getting their daughter, Whitney, "back" and how it is a picture of what I will experience in Heaven when I see Teagan again.
It's made me think about the moment when I will see Teagan again, face to face, and I will know no pain, sorrow or heartache. It will be glory....unfathomable, unspeakable joy and bliss! For all eternity!! That's the picture I have been reminded of this week through the turn of events for the Ceraks. As much joy and rejoicing they must feel, it is still tempered by the fact that their daughter has many physical and emotional scars and much healing needs to take place yet before they begin to return to their "normal lives".
So, for me to think about what they have had happen in their lives is something that awaits me in Heaven- only magnified a million times better- it boggles my mind. That's the amazing thing about my faith and my God. I could meditate on His greatness and Heaven and eternity for the rest of the days of my life, and still I will not have begun to understand all that is in store for me. It's profound. It's inspiring, and it makes my heart race in anticipation of my future.
My hope is that everyone whose life I touch on earth understands that this unimaginable future can await them too, if they choose to believe in Christ and accept what God has offered to them. Salvation. It's simple, it's free, and it's the most amazing gift you can accept from God. We all face trials, ups and downs, and even death, at some point in our lives. I do not fear death, but instead it turns my thoughts Heavenward- where I can't wait to spend all eternity!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Unbelievable turn of events...

If you click back in my archives on April 28, '06 you will read a post in which I talked of the pain and ache I was feeling for some friends who learned the news of their daughter's tragic death. It's been 5 weeks now, and yesterday the family learned that the daughter they had buried and mourned is actually alive and in a rehab facility. It is an unbelievable case of mistaken identity between their daughter and another fellow Taylor student who was actually killed in the tragic accident last month.
I cannot begin to imagine what the families involved are feeling at this time. I will continue to pray for the families of all those involved in this incident. I am glad, once again, to know that both of these families have deep-rooted faiths in a God who is real and in control. I know from my own experience with death, trauma and grief that He is the one true source of comfort and hope. He gives peace when there should be pain. He provides comfort where there would otherwise be only hurt and emptiness. He can give joy to those experiencing the deepest sorrow. Yes, this experience reminds me that I would not be the person I am today without a God holding the broken pieces of my life together. I hope you share this same belief. If not, I encourage you to send me emails with your questions and/or concerns regarding faith, assurance of Heaven and the God I know and love. He can be the One who holds your life together too!
In the meantime, if you want more information on this incredible tragedy and turn of events, click on the Taylor website ( ) or visit the blog of the VanRyn family ( ). I hope this story sparks or deepens your faith, as it did mine.