Friday, September 29, 2006

Let's talk golf tees!

I look more like I am getting ready for my husband's golf trip to Ireland than my scrap contest event in Vegas, but don't let the pictures deceive you. Check out this fun little 'promo' of mine...Nitty.Gritty. golf tees! How fun and colorful are these little guys?!

Can you see the excitement in my face?! That pic was taken just minutes's me on extra-strength cold medicine, holding a bag of 1000 assorted Nitty.Gritty. golf tees. I thought it would be fun to have something to give to some of the neat people I meet in Vegas at the Memory Trends convention, coming up in less than 2 weeks. These golf tees were one of the ideas that popped into my head as to how to go about 'sharing' a piece of me and my Nitty.Gritty. with so many people.

Golf tees actually have more to do with scrapbooking than any of you scrappers probably realize. In fact, I used golf tees on several of my layouts that I submitted for the CK Scrapper of the Year contest. They are the perfect tool for several things, from tracing a shape, to getting a rub-on to stay on your page, or even to punch out tiny stickers from the inside of alphabets, and they are great for marking where to punch a hole. I found that they were handy for so many different things, and figured I could share my new ideas with fellow scrappers. Besides, they are so quirky and colorful and I have them around my house all the time (in my laundry even), that they just seemed to be an extension of me- cute and quirky, wouldn't you agree?! =)

So, if you happen to bump into me at Memory Trends next month, make sure you get a Nitty.Gritty. golf tee as a souvenir from me. As for the magazine controversy, I don't know whether to apologize or to say thanks. I certainly got mixed reviews on that post, and of course, it was not my intention to offend anyone. I certainly didn't intend to take sales away from those of you who have kids and your own fundraisers. I was doing it more for my family and a way for them to let me know who wants to get in on this promotion.

Maybe I should have stuck to sending out private emails, but hey, I got some extra sales from the post, so I guess it was worth a bit of time and blogspace afterall. And in the future, maybe I'll have my hubby proof my posts when I'm on cold medicine. If it really was in poor taste, than ultimately I blame my lack of judgement on the Sudafed. I promise I won't blog with a splitting headache ever again! This is the last time I do so. That's a promise.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My new best friend...

I hate to say this, but my new best 'friend' is extra strength Sudafed. I got hit by a nasty cold, and it knocked me off my feet almost all day long today. Still I managed to wash a couple of loads of laundry, but by the kids' bedtime, I was basically of no good to anyone around here.
So, thank goodness that for Chip bringing me some headache medicine- I just got up from a two hour 'nap', and at least I can stand up and it doesn't feel like my eyes will pop out of my head! I may not be on the mend as of yet, but at least I've got a med that will allow me to blog and do other important things in my daily routine. =)
I have decided to "plug" a fundraiser for my kids' school here...why not? It's like a cyber version of bringing an order form to the office, right? The deal is a magazine drive, and I guess rather than putting you all on the spot, I will simply ask those of you who already get a magazine(s) subscription, or if you are looking to receive a new one, you can email me your address, and I will send you a link to the magazine sale website. You can order a new magazine or renew a current subscription. There are hundreds of magazines to choose from (some deals too, like 2 years of Cooking Light for $20...less than a dollar an issue), and 40% of the purchases goes to the school.
So, if you want to check it out, email me, and then place your order by next Thursday, so I can turn in the orders for 'credit"...which is a prize like a bag of M&M's for each order. =) Hopefully my cold will be long gone by then. {My email address: }

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blunt about tshirts...

Yesterday I made it clear that I was feeling sadness for others and what life is dealing them at this time. I spent a long time thinking and praying for some of the people in the middle of these real-life tough situations. Maybe because I've been there it's created a greater spot in my heart for empathy, but regardless, I have more thoughts on the subject.

These thoughts first came from some t-shirts I've seen people wearing around town. I am not knocking these shirts if you own one and wear it. I even think some of the cartoons are fitting at times, but I am the ultimate 'realist' in life. And remember too, that I like to make my own t-shirts, and have posted samples of a couple that I may get around to making one of these days.

Well, if I were to make a shirt in the next few days, it would probably read something like this:

Life isn't always good.
{However, you can find joy and happiness in spite of that fact.}

I think sometimes we (especially Americans) buy into the idea that life should be good all the time. As if we are owed a happy life- for one reason or another. A lot of people base their whole definition of success on this idea- that if we work harder, or meet the right people, or buy the latest stuff, or find the right religion, or even be a certain look and weight, then we will be happy and fulfilled. Or at least appear successful to others...and some of us think that what others believe to be true about us is what it's all about.
I don't want to knock you down if life is all rosy in your corner of the world, but I do think sometimes we all need a reality check.
It seems to me that if more people were open and honest about what's really going on in their life, that we could all be better people because of that honesty. For example, what if, instead of lying and cheating behind her husband's back, the wife sat down and had a heart to heart with her husband and asked for him to stand by her as they fix the mess of their marriage. Don't you think more people would go to counseling and seek to resolve the problems if they were brought up and asked for forgiveness for- rather than being found out and feeling betrayed?
Or, if instead of making excuses for someone's depression, what if the family members or close friend of the hurting individual did all they could to get that person the treatment they so needed? Wouldn't it save some of us a lot of grief and heartache in the end?
As one who has grown up in different Bible-based churches, I've seen it happen to great extent within the church. I think it has given people on the "outside" false ideas about what faith really is- especially as it relates to pain and hurt in this life.
I may not be using the best theology, but I believe in honesty- especially in regards to my faith. I know that life isn't always good, or fair or easy. I believe it's okay to come right out and say that- even though I have a strong faith in God. I've learned that faith doesn't guarantee you freedom from pain or hard circumstances in life. Faith doesn't give you easy answers to all life's toughest questions. It doesn't make you automatically happy about everything that happens to you.
But, it does offer peace and comfort and hope and even joy- that sometimes can't be explained. So, here I am again, talking about tshirts and faith and what it means in my life. And once again, I am reminded that it's not about whether or not life is good to us from day to day, but whether or not I have the assurance that no matter what comes my way, it will be okay.
That last sentence was my 'light-bulb' moment for today, and could very well be the text of the next t-shirt that I design. Yep. It would read, "I know that no matter what comes my way, that everything will be okay". That's a t-shirt I could live in!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dips versus valleys.

I have accounted for Nitty.Gritty. readership in 38 states and 7 countries, in the previous post- at the 120 comment mark. I guess nobody blogs in North or South Dakota, New Mexico and about 10 other states. =) I'll keep working on those regions. Now I know when I declare my intent to run for Presidency, who to track down in each state to help me with my campaign. =)
Thanks for playing along with me on this one. Maybe some day I'll go on tour to a city near you.
On a personal note, I've been saddened the past few days. My grandma has had ongoing health issues that just keeping getting worse. I wish there was more that I could do for her situation, or even be able to ease the added stress in my mom and dad's life, but truthfully, there is nothing I can do. So, it makes me sad a bit, and I hope she either makes a strong comeback, or that arrangements can be made to make everyone's day to day life easier.
Next, my brother-in-law's Dad is in a hospital after having some issues with his heart, and the doctors have told his family there is nothing more that can be done for him. Having been at the bedside of a loved one in their final hours and moments of life makes their reality very real to me. I know the pain and emotions they are feeling, so my insides hurt for them too.
I also have been linked to the story of a girl (Kelsey) nearing the end of her battle at St. Jude's hospital, as well as getting the link to another family whose 2 year old daughter, Avery, was killed after a driver hit her and her mom and cousins in a McDonalds parking lot outside Atlanta a few months ago.
These stories, family or not, make the reality of this life so clear. None of us know what tomorrow holds for us. I realize that each moment we have truly is a gift, and that what we do with our time here is of utmost importance. To let the little worries of life drag us down seems a shame.
Yet, I had some thoughts on this very topic pop into my mind during a short (brisk!) bike ride a couple of nights ago. The path I took had some little dips and bumps along the way, and then one larger hill for me to go up and down. You know what surprises me? It's the little dips in my path that take the most effort and energy for me to maneuver. That big hill- that looks like it would zap my energy, that hill actually gives me more speed. I see it coming and I prepare myself mentally and I pedal a bit harder as I head into it.
But those smaller dips, they come at me and I hardly see them until I'm in the middle of them, and then I have to pedal hard for a time to get back to speed.
I think that's kind of how life happens, isn't it? Sometimes, before we realize it, we feel overwhelmed and it's like the weight of the world is coming at us. We wonder what's wrong with us- it's nothing big- compared to what some people are going through, and yet it's taking all our energy to stay on top of things.
While Chip and I were going through our valley in life, we found we had support and help at every turn. We were cared for and people did what they could to lighten our load. I guess the bike ride made me think of it in those terms.
I've got gears that I can shift when needed; I make the resistance greater or lesser, depending on the terrain. Maybe that's what more of us need to learn to do in 'real life'. I know I am terrible about asking for help with the little things in my life, and so I let the stress and day to day challenges weigh me down. When what I should be doing isn't pedaling harder, but I should be changing gears. Whether that means letting things go around the house, or asking for help from others, or even redefining my's a matter of me assessing the 'dip' and making sure the ride continues as planned.
I think it's a good thing to think about. All of us- whatever we may be facing, life happens to us once. And even then we don't know for how long or what may come our way. I have learned that to modify expectations, or to be willing to 'switch gears' is the best way to handle the dips and valleys. Of course, I have a clear picture of where I'm headed (ultimately Heaven!) and so that helps me chart my course. That would be my challenge for you today.
Think about it. Are you on the road that you want to end up on? If life were to throw you a dip or valley (or maybe you're in the midst of one right now), do you have something that is gonna help get you through that time?
Maybe it's a bit heavy, but I figure it's worth a few minutes of our time to think about it. Some people spend more time thinking about what to eat for lunch than they do wondering what their future holds. While I understand your lunch is important, I have to say your future is at least as matter what it holds. And if you haven't told the people that mean the most to you in this life how much you value them, do it now. Because you never know what may come your way. No matter who you are, or where you live.
That's my Nitty.Gritty. deep thoughts... my light-hearted self will be back here soon enough; I'm pretty sure about that.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where are you!

My hubby is gonna say that this is just a game for me to see how many comments I can rack up on my blog- but that's not entirely true.
I have thought about adding a link that will tell me where all of you are blogging from. However, I haven't had extra time or energy to go figuring all that out, or finding the best site to link up to, so this is the next best thing.
As my husband plans his trip to Ireland (totally a pleasure and well, more golf), and I gear up for Vegas, it makes me realize the world is a smaller place than it seems to be sometimes. Yet, I get emails from people all over, and it makes me sort of step back and look at how cool this whole blog-thing really is. I can read about people and the events of their lives, while living my own day to day life in my own corner of the world.
Some of you have commented on the lack of changing seasons in your neighborhoods, while others can relate- but are still miles away from where I am. I find it a little bit fascinating.
My self-imposed challenge then, is to see if I have readers in all 50 states...and maybe even a couple international readers as well. So, if you're out there somewhere, make me happy and simply post your name and city and state (or name and country you are blogging from) in the comments.
Kind of like my own Today Show gig- an off-shoot of the 'Where in the World is Matt Lauer' segment. Which by the way, I would never do, because I am a terrible traveler. Instead, you get to come to me...sort of. =) Thanks for playing my game!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Now it's fall...

I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season today...nonfat, no whip, of course. I know, that's taking all the fun out of it, but my hips thanked me when I tried on some pants at the Gap outlet today.
It's been unusually busy around my house this weekend. I baked a sausage/egg and cheese casserole for my kids for breakfast yesterday and told them to all come and eat, and that I had an announcement to make. When they all got to the table I said, "Today I officially declare it 'Fun Day' all day long!" Brock shouted, "Hooray" and was all smiles. Bella, however, was in one of her moods already and simply crossed her arms and said, "I don't want 'Fun Day'. So, we had to work on her for awhile before she came around and agreed to participate.
Fun day for me and them then, meant that I spent minimal time on my computer and we did truly 'fun' stuff instead.
I also pulled out some things and scrapped a page before my bedtime. Love that rainy, drizzly, cold days can have silver linings too. It's all how you look at things!

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's is all about balance.

After yesterday's post about the Pop-Tart, I started replaying some of the meals we've had and things I've made my kids eat this week. You know what? I probably do give them proper exposure to nutrition on most days. They don't always eat it all, but they do have well-rounded diets. They get it in the zucchini bread that I bake all the time, they have fresh veggies and fruits at least everyday, and we go through milk and eggs as though my Dad still owned and operated a dairy farm. Which, sometimes I wish he still did. I miss walking through the barn- it would be especially fun now that my kids would be able to feed the baby calves and climb up in the hayloft. I was a pretty little kid roaming around Grandpa's farm down by the creek...those are memories I'll never forget. And yes, I was in 4-H while I was growing up, even though I didn't live on a farm at that time.
That's not exactly where I was going with my thoughts and pictures when I sat down at my kitchen counter just now (yes, I blog on the laptop on my kitchen keep an eye on the kids), but it's a good memory nonetheless.
In the pictures you see a mess in Wyndham's closet, and two very happy girls in the middle of it all. That was what I got for trying to sneak in a 7 minute shower in the middle of the day. Isabella was playing so well with the Thomas train stuff, and the other two were very content, after just having lunch, watching a video. Perfect, I thought, for me to get in and out of the shower. I should have skipped the 2 minute Maple Syrup body scrub part, because I'm sure that's when Ava opened up the closet and started tearing out all the {neatly, folded} clothes. Yep. I had just reorganized this closet last week- putting away most of the summer stuff and organizing the new back-to-school clothes in their place.
Being the great scrapbooker Mom that I am (remember...Creating Keepsake's Magazine Scrapbooker of the Year finalist?... =) ...just wanted to get that in there another time...only 2 and a half weeks left!), I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures of the chaos. I still have some clothes to put away, but hey, I've got some scrap inspiration too!
Then, there's the other two pictures...Bella heading off to preschool again, and then one of her reading Ava a bedtime story in her [Bella's] bed. Totally didn't expect to see that when I went to tuck Bell in last night. But, it was just the moment I needed. It helped me to realize that I'm on the right track. No, I don't do everything right around here. No, things aren't always pretty and picked up or healthy or happy, but that's okay. I realize that kids have their own agenda. They are learning and exploring and growing and figuring things out. I just need to know when they've had enough of something (good or bad) and help guide them as they go through the day. Seeing my girls all cozied up and reading a book made me realize that I'm blessed to be along for the ride. Motherhood (or I should say Parenthood) is a series of connected ups and downs, highs and lows, but I can say, that on any given day- whether it's been an 'up' or 'down' day, it's definitely worth every ounce of my effort. And to be honest with you, I actually have fun doing most of the chores each day. I figure someday my house will stay clean all day long and I'll miss the times like the ones pictured above- even if it is clothes spilling out of the closet all over the floor.
I didn't miss the opportunity in that- I made the girls put some of the clothes back in the dresser drawers, and they had to put their own clothes back on too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"The Good Stuff"

Pop-tarts are one of those things that sort of make me feel like a 'bad mom' in the back of my mind. That belief was reinforced when a couple of days ago when Bella announced that she was done and needed me to help wash her hands. I thought she looked a bit stickier than ususal, and I guess there was good reason for that.
She had eaten her S'mores pop-tart starting with the frosted chocolate topping, and then she ate the gooey chocolate/marshmallow stripes out of the center, one fingerful at a time.
Between the not-so-vitamin-enriched breakfasts, the tv and gameboy habits and the yelling I do to get some of them strapped into their carseats some days, I will be most surprised to see my kids grow up and become positive, contributing members to society.
Why is it that you can do 50 good things for your kids, and the one 'bad' thing you do is the thing that sticks out and keeps playing over and over in your mind?

Or am I the only bad parent out here in the real world? Seriously though, I'm not worried about my kids and their futures because of what I do in their lives, but I do wonder about how to make the 'good stuff' rub off on them more than the rest of the stuff. Now I'm off to do some organizing. I'll talk about it and show you more about it tomorrow. Oh yeah. Good stuff!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Easy Bake Oven Retro Tupperware Party

You should have guessed by now that I'd have a life lesson in my tupperware and easy bake oven. Here are pictures from our latest retro party. I love that the kids were good about taking turns pouring the ingredients into the little bowl, stirring the cake mix, and even shared time and space peeking through the window to watch the cake bake. We made brownies that I thought 'flopped'- they were gooey and sugary. But, when I put a small scoop on top of the kids' bowls of icecream, they all thought it was the best brownie topping ever! I realized that it's not about how the miniature dessert turns out, but about the time spent creating and being together.
Of course I've got a story behind that easy bake goes back to a time before I ever had any kids. I had made Chip promise me and swear over and over that he agreed to never having kids- that he could be happy in life without them, for me- when he proposed to me. It was my biggest concern when he popped the question to me one night in June 1994. I was at a point in my life where I had decided I never EVER wanted kids...they just didn't 'fit' into the future and dreams I had for myself in my head. I had loved kids and babies when I was young. I was one of the most sought after babysitters in my church and neighborhood. I worked at the YMCA in the nursery department (for my first 'real' job). At age 5 I had even mentioned I wanted 100 kids when I got married and grew concern was how I would get them all dressed and to church on time. =)
But, after years of waiting tables and seeing kids and families at their very worst, I decided kids were not for me. End of story. Besides, I had spent a lot of time, money and energy in school, and upon graduation I decided kids would make a career and all the 'luxuries of life' too complicated, and I wasn't in the mood to change my life for someone else.
Little did I know that God had other plans for my life. I was in for a life-altering that turned my life upside-down in a very good way. But try telling me that when I'm in the midst of selfishness. I happened to find out that I was pregnant on the morning of the day Chip and I had plans to fly to Chicago for our first annivesary. Uh, huh. I typed that right. We were celebrating our first wedding annivesary with a three day weekend in Chicago. We were going to take in the city and just enjoy our time together.
Imagine Chip's disgust at me when I had a terrible attitude from the ticket counter to the wait before boarding the aircraft, and finally at my sarcasm toward the guy who plopped down next to me. [Side note: This flight was a choose-your-own-seat flight, and there were several open seats on this flight. This guy literally 'fell' into his seat and stuffed his carry-on under the seat in front of him and basically spread out and imposed on my space! Bad idea!!] So, as Chip began to lecture me about being rude and having a lousy attitude when we were about to head out on the most fun weekend we'd had in a long time, well, I lost it. I started sobbing. I am SO NOT the kind of person to cry in public, so Chip knew something was up. Even after being married only one year- he picked up on that right away. =)
I had told myself I wouldn't tell Chip about being pregnant until sometime well into our weekend...or maybe even on the flight home. But the minute my tears began to flow, I knew I had to tell him, or he would be snapping at me all weekend. I remember being scared to death of telling him my news. Which, looking back on it, makes me sort of laugh. I was the one who had issues with the idea of having kids- not him. But still, I remember being scared to tell him, so between my sobs, I choked out the words as whispers in his ear. When he finally had it sink in and he realized he had heard me correctly at least three times, he pushed me back at arms length and smiled the biggest grin I think I have ever seen from him. He was stunned. He was happy, and I think relieved to know that I had a valid excuse for my less-than-stellar attitude on the flight and to the guy sitting next to me. But suddenly his expression changed, and I think he recognized my tears were those of fear and even a bit of disgust. The plans I had made him promise to me just about two years earlier were falling through. He knew I was feeling anything but joy inside.
He spent the rest of the flight calming me, reassuring me, and trying not to smile every time he knew I was looking at him- although he was bursting with happiness inside. I was sad at myself for feeling like I was stealing his joy at that time. When we finally landed (that 52 minute flight from Minneapolis to Chicago felt like forever) and went to collect our bags, I got the best hug I had ever had in my life from Chip...he wrapped himself around me and it was a moment I will never forget. Despite my mixed-up, messed up, hormonal feelings, I felt myself melting in his arms and telling myself, "If this was going to happen to me, at least it is happening with Chip". I knew he was going to be the one person I could count on to get me through this pregnancy and make sense of our future for all of us.
That's the long story behind how I got my 'Mrs. Field's Easy Bake Oven'. For Christmas that year, when I was about 6 months pregnant and still not thrilled with the idea of having a baby change my life, Chip gave me a big box and said it was a gift to help change my mind about how I was feeling about a baby. (We didn't know what we were having.) I opened up my easy bake oven and Chip said, "See? You're just gonna have to focus on all the great things having a kid will bring to your'll get to bake with a toy oven". I thought it was so sweet. He knew I loved stuff like this, and so he took the opportunity to show me a glimpse of my future- one that showed me a glimpse of happiness and fun that was lacking in the pictures I was playing in my mind at that time.
Flash forward a two years, and I pulled out the little oven and baked up some goodies with the joy of my life, Teagan. Baking that first pan of brownies were an experience that thrilled my soul. For real...I'm not kidding! I can't believe me, the queen of taking pictures, didn't take photos of Teagan and her pan of brownies that day. We must have been having too much fun. It wasn't something we did often, but enough for me to remember how much fun we had together. Then Brock was born and he got in on the baking when he got a bit older. He always loved the cake the best.
I pulled it out after Teagan had died, and Wyndham was big enough to peer through the window and kick her feet while I held her up to the window. I was careful not to let her touch it though, because the little viewing window had smudges and fingerprints on it. Those prints were Teagan's.
This past weekend when I popped in the pan of brownies, the kids pulled the little chairs up next to the oven and were yelling with excitement who got to peek inside first. Brock was first and as he looked inside I told him, "I'm never going to wipe the window clean because those are Teagan's fingerprints." His eyes got so big and he took a close look at the window. When his sisters got too close, he would say, "Don't touch the window, those are Teagan's prints!" I let him know that it's okay if the window gets smudged or bumped...peeking in is the most fun part of baking in an Easy Bake. I wasn't about to ruin the fun. And really, the window isn't that smudged. I personally like it that way.
I am reminded that my life took another path- one that I wouldn't have chosen- at least not when I was young and first married. I have learned that sometimes what I think is best for me really isn't even close. I have been given blessings and joy in life...sometimes totally undeserved and not even close to where I would have looked for them. I have learned that it is true, God knows what is best for each of us, even if it means walking down a bumpy, narrow path, that we would never have chosen to journey down on our own.

I am thankful today, for the journey, for the hurts, for the disappointments that turned to blessings in disguise, and for the lessons in life that come packaged up in boxes- like Easy Bake Ovens.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pics for the previous post...

Apparantly blogger had issues with my pictures for a short time today. But, here they are now. Just us, being us. As you can see, Ava still won't look at me when I take her picture, but notice the nice big grin she gave to her brother Brock. =) Oh. Chip was working while these were taken...I really don't crop him out of photos...I just hardly ever get him into them with the rest of us.

Time to make a Nitty.Gritty. list~

I'm not normally a list-making person...I kind of let life just happen. However, I do have a calendar with appointments and special days filled in on it, just to help keep me on track. Three weeks from today I will probably be a bundle of excitement at about this time. I will be in Vegas counting down the hours to the big CK Scrapbooker of the Year announcement...I am excited already! Hooray for me!
So, the part about the lists is to tell myself that maybe I should make one- just for the next three weeks. I have several things I want to get done before I leave, and today I realized I don't have much time- considering hubby heads off to Ireland for his own trip in less than two weeks. That means I am having to get stuff done ahead of schedule, including shopping for some new clothes, getting my hair cut (I did that today, so I can check one thing off my list already), and trying to squeeze in some time to make and create some goodies for my trip. Yikes! Now that I type it out, I think it's crunch-time already.
Speaking of crunch time- I had my annual 'eyes-well-up-with-big-tears-at-the-sight-of-major-autumn-colors-on-the-trees' moment yesterday. It hits me every year since Teagan died, especially when I see the first bursts of red. You see, Teagan loved the fall. She loved all the changings of seasons, but I spent long hours with her and Brock as youngsters, out raking leaves, jumping in them, watching ladybugs climb the tree trunks, and just enjoying the crispness of the air. Teagan couldn't get enough of it. It's especially gorgeous in northern lower Michigan (where we lived when Teagan was alive...Gaylord, MI) where fall is the most spectacular of all the seasons...the trees and hillsides literally GLOW with orange and red and yellow this time of year for about three weeks. Then winter settles in and it stays snow-covered til late May. =)
Anyway, Teagan loved to be outside and we would eat apples and look at the trees and simply enjoy nature. Teagan asked me how the trees can turn colors, and I told her that God makes it happen... I said, "He sort of paints the leaves each fall and that's how we get the different greens and yellows." Well, another day or two after that when we stepped outside the tips of the leaves at the top of a small tree were bright red. Teagan started jumping up and down yelling, "Look! God must have gotten new paints last night!"
So, you can imagine the nostalgia that I feel when those first leaves begin to turn red. I am brought to a moment in time that I wish my mind could playback more clearly for me. And I tear up realizing that another season of my life has come and gone and that I will never have that time back in my life again. It makes me want to hurry up and get more 'memories' of mine down on paper, or take more pictures of the kids...they'll never be this small and I never want to take time with them for granted.
All that emotion lasts for just a few minutes, and then I am back to reality and into the routine around here. I will never get over how much something like the colors of leaves can affect the deepest part of me. It makes me grateful that I had such a girl as Teagan in my life- her spirit graces my days no matter the season, and that will never change.
Just so you don't think I'm obsessive in my 'memory sermons' here, or that I am wallowing in the past, I am posting a couple of pictures of me and the kids from the last two days. We have been chalk-drawing, easy-bake cake making, story-reading, busy people. As for autumn, I have decided to officially declare it so only when I sip my first Pumpkin Spice Latte. I'm sure I'll be mentioning 'pumkin' at least as often as I mentioned coconut or butter cream this past summer. Consider yourself warned...and then the next "season" {love, obsession of mine} is eggnog. Eggnog anything...lattes, candles, name it. I think it's all about the nutmeg for me. I love fresh grated nutmeg. Mmmm. There you have it...that's what I've been up to. Happy signs and scents and flavor of the season to you too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One of my life's mission statements-

I have never formally written down a life mission statement, but it could easily be done if I wanted to do so. I hold some firm, core beliefs in life, especially those that have proven themselves true in my life since the tragedy that claimed Teagan's life and shook things up for me and my family for quite some time.
I get so many emails each week from people I don't even know, telling me how I've changed their outlook in life for various reasons, or they thank me for being an inspiration to them. It never ceases to amaze me, that simply living life the way I do, can change another person's life. Especially since I may never meet these people (maybe it's YOU!) or even talk to them in person, and yet they are moved by my ordinary life.
One of the things that always jumps out at me and I almost always respond to is the line when someone says, "I couldn't do what you have done" or "I wish I was as strong a person as you are". I am quick to let others know that I have relied heavily on my faith in God, my belief in Heaven, and with a lot of prayers from family and friends. But beyond that, I have had to adapt and modify my thinking and my views about life, happiness, justice and other things in life that were affected by my personal tragedy.
One of the hardest things for me to accept in light of our incident, was that no matter what Chip and I did in life from July 29, 2001 on, was forever affected by what happened in one single moment on that sunny afternoon. Up until that day we had been living a fairly quiet, easy life. Sure, we had our struggles and concerns, but for the most part, we had been shielded by evil and pain in life. So, when it struck us in such a horrible way, I knew it was going to take every ounce of the two of us to get back on our feet.
Okay. I'm not sure why I am posting this today, but it's been on my mind for awhile I guess, and I love getting my stories down (in writing) and out (of my head). Part of this may have been shared here at Nitty.Gritty. before. I find I repeat things a lot...or at least parts of my stories overlap. If it sounds familiar then, it just may be. This story started when I was overwhelmed with my pain, grief and sorrow, and truly couldn't see that life held any meaningful purpose or bright spots in my future-ever. Teagan had been the source of energy and joy for the most part of 4 years in my life, and suddenly she was gone. My mind couldn't imagine life being the slight bit fun or happy without her. She was joy to me. I was sobbing in bed one night, trying to think of nothing, because my reality was too painful to even think about. I was trying to fall asleep, but I had only vivid pictures in my mind of what I had lived through just days earlier. I couldn't escape this new, horrible reality, and so I sat there on the edge of my bed, shaking with tears running down my cheeks. They burned and I didn't care. They made my head pound and my heart throb. I didn't care. They made me want to scream. They made me want to never utter another word. I sat on the edge of my bed, knowing I could have called a hundred people at that moment of the night and they would have listened and cried with me. Or come over and held me. I simply didn't care. I hurt so badly, that I didn't want to feel anything. Out of that bleak moment, I picked up a blank book and wrote some of my thoughts and feelings.
I had an empty journal sitting on my nightstand- knowing at some point I would want to start writing down what's inside. I've done it since about the third grade. That night, I opened my journal and started to write a few paragraphs...just to get them down and out. By the end of the first page I had already written down the words that have truly shaped my life as it is today. I had been given stacks of books and pamphlets from friends and physcotherapists about topics such as the stages of grief, the death of a loved one, dealing with trauma and living with pain and loss. They were all well-intentioned, and probably had some helpful information inside their pages for me, but I was not about to read someone else's take on my situation. I wasn't looking for answers to my problems. Nope. By the end of the first page in my journal, this is what I had written...
"How about joy? That's what I need. Joy in the midst of trauma." I decided that I would simply have to write my own book. There didn't seem to be any like that in the pile of books lying next to me. That's part of my story of how I coined one of the statements I have come to believe and live by everyday since my tragedy. It's this: "Sometimes you have to create your own joy"; or even just "create your own joy".
I have found that in life's darkest moments, or deepest hurts or most troubling experiences, that no matter what it is, we still have the option to 'choose our response'. My circumstance in life at that time made it almost impossible for me to have joy, but with God, my husband, and friends and family, it WAS possible. Sometimes it meant I had to put my own pain and feelings aside. Or even do something that brought joy to others, because that helped me to realize that joy did in fact still exist. Even if it wasn't for me, I could see that it was out there, and it helped me to want to find it all that much more.
Here's an example. About two months after Teagan died, Chip still couldn't work (he had 8 fractured ribs, multiple facial injuries, internal his golf course was closing for the season) and I still couldn't even make a peanut butter sandwich for lunch without falling to pieces, we sat at our kitchen table wondering what to do with ourselves. We were struggling with feeling differently about how to 'move on' and were beginning to discuss what to do for the holidays- without Teagan. We were getting frustrated with the legal proceedings against the woman who had killed Teagan, and we were trying to figure out what "normal" in life would ever look like again. Basically, we were not a pretty sight, and remember? I didn't care anymore. Life just plain hurt.
If my memory is correct, Chip is the one that said, "This isn't working. We have to do something ...we can't just sit here and be sorry for oursleves the rest of our lives." I'm sure I smarted off to him with something like, "Why not!?" Which probably made him even more mad, and that wasn't helping the healing process- at all. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was we were simply exhausted from being sad and angry and depressed and heartbroken. But whatever it was, our fate changed that day. Our local radio station was holding a Rotary Radio Auction. You could call in and place bids on hundreds of items and services that various businesses had donated from around town. Well, it just so happened that Chip and I had received gifts of money in several memorial cards when Teagan died, and we still had a chunk of change sitting there. We didn't want to just 'blow the money'...we wanted it to be meaningful or honoring to Teagan's life. So, that day, we had the first glimpse of joy in life, and it was the first time I put my motto 'create your own joy' into practice. (I didn't even know it would be a guiding principle in my life at that time, but I lived out the truth of it that day.) We sat next to the radio with our phone and list of items we wanted to bid on and over the course of the next 8 hours, we won things like a dozen (jumbo!) cookies each week from the local bakery for a year, or miscellaneous gift certificates. We spent the next year using up all sorts of interesting items and services, or gifting them to others... honoring Teagan's memory and giving back to the community through this charity- the people that were praying and holding us close at this time in our lives. Those dozen cookies each week were one of the best things we could have done in the midst of our grief. It forced us to leave the house- at least once a week. =) That in itself can be a hard thing to do when you're overwhelmed with pain. So, we would go and pick out our cookies (like White Chocolate/Dried Tart Cherry or Macadamia Nut/Toffee), and then we would go to a business or person in town who we felt we 'owed' a thank you, or simply wanted to acknowledge all they had done for our family. The first dozen cookies we brought to the ER staff at our small Gaylord Hospital. We know that we can never repay them for how they helped our family and the others involved in our tragedy that July day. What we got were lots of smiles and hugs and even some tears- from the people who had seen us at our physical worst. We went home that day realizing that we didn't have to do what we were doing. Nobody expected us to be bringing cookies to them after all we had just been through, and were still going through, but it made us realize that we were capable of affecting our lives and those of the people around us in a positive way. It gave us a tiny bit of control over the ache we were feeling inside. It made us realize that in spite of our pain, we could produce joy and happiness in others.
I suppose that was the day I realized that I didn't want one person's actions (that of the driver that killed Teagan) to control my feelings and choices the rest of my life. I took back a tiny bit of the power that I was feeling had been ripped out of my hands when Teagan died. It was the day that Chip and I realized that we were going to have to fight for goodness and happiness and joy and it was going to be a challenge to hold our marriage together and our moods and emotions somedays...but that it was going to be more than worth it in the end.
You know now, five years later, that we are already finding that realization to be true in our lives. And (hopefully) we're nowhere near the end. When I say 'end', I'm referring to the eternity I plan to spend in Heaven forever. That's when I believe I will truly feel the complete joy that I am seeking and creating and enjoying each step of life's way.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

If tv is really bad for you, then I'm "bad to the bone"

I was 'invited' to blog about 5 weird things that are me a few days's a form of tag. I had other pressing things that took place of this invitation- like my 250th post and tribute to CZ. However, as I was about to fall alseep last night, for some reason, I had the 'Dukes Of Hazard' theme song playing through my head. (The original tv version- not the Jessica Simpson movie.) Then, this morning when I woke up I had the theme song from the 'Beverly Hillibillies' in my head. I just knew it was some sort of weird 'blogsign', so here I am following my instincts today.
Anyone that knows me well (I've used that phrase here before...and you all know who you are) is already laughing at the understatement of this tag game for me. I mean, really, only 5 weird things about me? That's like asking a US President, "So, are you into politics?". My take on this game then, is going to be a little different. I've decided to blog, more in length, about quirks or issues I have that make me-me. Some of you will totally relate, and some of you will simply get to know some useless facts about me. Today I am listing all the tv theme songs that I can sing in their entirety, (or at least can hum the whole tune), all the songs I can think of and type in the next 10 minutes.
I've got my kitchen timer I'll just let my mainly 1970s-1990s tv theme song memory go to town. I go:
Beverly Hillbillies
Dukes of Hazard
Brady Bunch
Speed Racer
Scooby Doo
My Three Sons
The Partridge Family
Little House on the Prairie (humming it)
Gilligan's Island
Hogan's Heros
Dora the Explorer
Sesame Street
Free to Be you and Me...was that a series? I remember watching it at school and we had a book with all the songs and short stories too....remember? There's a land that I see, where the children are free, take my hand...or William wants a doll, a doll, a that song might be considered gay-bashing...I don't know...but I'm getting way off base here...stick to music...not politics) =)
[whew! That was close for a minute I thought I might start opening myself up for debate here.]
Blues CLues
Barney Theme Song (yes, I admit it!)
Leave It to Beaver
Charles in Charge
The Waltons
Full House
Cosby Show
The Andy Griffith Show
totally drawing a blank on the show with the Fonz and the bad is that!
Old Yeller (I know it's a movie, but the song just popped in my head, so I typed it anyway)
Heathcliff cartoon
Inspector Gadget
The Love Boat
Family Ties
Life Goes On
90210...I still have the cd soundtrack to this one...and I crank it and dance with my kids once in awhile- they think I'm crazy...truth is, Chip is the one that I can't watching reruns when he gets the chance...whose the crazy one?!
Mr. Belvedere (remember that show?!)
Different Strokes
and of course, Facts of Life (You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...The Facts of Life. The Facts of Life...see? I'm not lying, I really do know the lyrics to these shows. In light of my life now, I think this show could be my personal song now.)
Oh! It just hit me! Happy Days...don't you love when your mind stays thinking of something on one level while you go about thinking and doing other things...and then suddenly that thing you couldn't remember just pops into your head! So cool...I'm sure there's a medical term for that.)
(here we go...more major cartoon theme kids have grown up on lot of tv I guess)
The Busy World of Richard Scary
Little Bear
PB and J Otter
Out of the Box
Rolie Polie Olie
The Munsters
Did Saved by the Bell have a song? I can't think of a tune here...hmmm...
My time's up! I thought I'd get a lot more than that, but I guess I hummed some of the songs too long in my head that it slowed me up a bit. And of course, I wrote too much in between songs too. Actually, this probably explains a lot about me and gives you a clearer picture of who I am. I am glad that I had a strong faith-based influence in my life growing up, because as I look back on this list of shows, I am scared to think that these would have been more responsible for shaping me and my world view.
Now it's your turn. If there were tv theme songs popping into your head while you read this post, you better leave me a comment with some of the show titles for me. I want to know what you were watching...and probably some of them will be songs I missed! Happy flashback Saturday Morning to you. =)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nitty.Gritty. culinary genius, again.

These photos are a little out of order, which I think in turn makes me look 'sloppy'. I am generally fairly good at technical glitches, but this photo order thing has me stumped. So, the top two pictures should be the last two in this sequence. As for the title...that's self-imposed. I just really like to bake stuff; I'm not trained professionally. Sometimes that's what makes the best chef!
What you see here is a dessert pastry that was one of my all-time favorites as a kid. I thought everybody's mom was making stuff like this for breakfast or for an after school snack. Turns out, some of you have never had this delicious treat. I feel for you. I would apologize for having the world's best Mom, but I am smarter than that. I know I would simply start another debate, and I'm not up for arguing at this point.
All of you cream puff fans will thank me for posting this recipe. I sat down and enjoyed my slice on my china dishes- food always tastes even better on pretty dishes. Besides, for as many calories in this dessert, I figured it had earned its place on my Ralph Lauren 'Claire' china plate. Maybe that's why I don't eat off these dishes more often. =) My lunches are sometimes less than deserving of nice dinnerware. Of course, maybe that would enhance the flavor...hmmm...I see BLTs on my nice plates in my near future.
On to my dessert. Here is the recipe for what I have eaten and enjoyed through the years...
Danish Puff~
1 cup butter, 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. water, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. almond extract, 3 eggs
Directions: Cut 1/2 cup butter into 1 cup flour. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. water and mix with fork. Round into ball, and divide in half. Pat out each half onto ungreased baking sheet (approx. 12"x3" strips)- these will be the crusts.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp. almond extract and 1 cup flour. Stir until mixture forms a ball. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Divide mixture in half and spread evenly over both strips of pastry crust. Cover completely and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until golden brown and crisp on top. Cool and frost. You can also top with slivered almonds.

Frosting: Mix until smooth- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. melted butter or marg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract and 1-2 Tbsp. warm water. (You may add food coloring too.)
You will be tempted to make this often, because it is so simple, but I am warning you that it may not be that great for your arteries or waistline. Or, you may want to add about 3 more miles into your daily exercise routine. =)
And now, to 'publicly' answer a couple of comments...Anonymous wanted to know where I got the brown vest I was wearing in the pics yesterday. Well, the truth is (this will blow my whole fashion cover, whatever that may be...and maybe get me nominated for the show, "What Not To Wear") that 'vest' is actually a vintage Gap stretch shirt that was jet black when I bought it probably 10 years ago. I love it and still wear it, and actually found a similar shirt in orange at Ragstock this summer. I think it's the spandex that I love about this shirt.
Next comment was made by anonymous and simply exclaimed, "You have a nanny?!" The answer to that is yes and no. We had the world's best nanny, Rachael, living with us for most of the past year and a half. She attends college (even though I told her she was hired here for life and never needs to look further than our family for employment...which she finds funny- that my kids will have all long grown up and moved out and she and I will be somewhere, like WalMart and I will introduce her to an acquaintance of mine as 'my nanny, Rachael' and my friend will look at me and say, "Aren't you like 60-something and your kids are all grown adults?" which I will say, "yes" and I will leave it at that, and Rachael and I will just sort of look at each other and try not to laugh, because we knew years ago conversations like this were going to come up, so we had practiced them and even laughed at thinking about our future in this way) and so she doesn't live with us at this time, but I still have her number and can call her anytime and she would be at my house probably before I could hang up the phone, and my kids miss her all the time, and I probably wouldn't have this Nitty.Gritty. blog without Rachael in my life, because she used to help me get the kids fed and bathed and to rehab appointments and she allowed me more time in my life for things like grocery shopping and scrapbooking and all sorts of stuff that I wouldn't have been able to do in my schedule, because my hubby works looong hours all the time, and I would just be an overworked, stressed-out, frazzled Mom that nobody would want to read about in blogland. {One of my favorite things is run-on sentences. I used to write them in my highschool essays, because they made me feel like a rebel...once in awhile.}
That's my short answer in regards to having a nanny. So now I still cook and clean and bathe my kids, and I do the laundry and take out the garbage and make beds and grocery shop...and I somehow manage to find time to blog and scrap a bit...without a nanny. I just need to schedule time to hang out and get caught up with Rachael and all the stories we like to share. That's the part I miss the most. In fact, I might just write her a limerick sometime!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Make this post 251...

{Note: Read the previous post first...if you haven't already doneso.My word!...when is the last time you've used the word 'doneso' in a sentence?!}
I had issues getting these pictures uploaded. As far as I'm concerned, it was worth my extra effort. Simple happiness to me in these photos, was making my 'imaginary world' come to life...posing with some of the "Scrap Greats" of the industry even though I wasn't a scrapper yet myself...and being invited to share a Ben & Jerry's turtle sundae with these incredible women at the end of a long weekend event when despite the fact that they had been swarmed with scrap-fans for two days and probably just wanted to escape from people like me. I decided then and there that this was the kind of business I wanted to be in- one that is devoted to pushing people creatively, that encourages individual style and art, and makes people feel welcomed and inspired- whether or not you do the 'same things' they do.
I connected with these women, not through good icecream- although that was a pinnacle moment for me, but it was more about their passion and vision. I can't really put that into words, and for me that is telling in and of itself. I'm generally quite adequate at writing and expressing my thoughts. I think maybe it's because I'm still in the process of unfolding all that scrapbooking and blogging and this 'new vision' has come to be in my life. That's part of the fun of this journey which is my Nitty.Gritty. It's about getting to the bottom of my heart and making it meaningful to myself and the rest of you that stop by here. See? I told you it was more than just good icecream!!

Reflections of my blog roots...

This is my 250th post to Nitty.Gritty. To 'celebrate' such a nice even number I have decided to reflect on where it all began and do a small tribute to commemorate this moment.
Fortunately for me, this blog thing has turned into much more than just words and pictures. It has broadened my list of 'friends' and introduced me to the wonderful world that is 'scrapping', as well as provided many other benefits in my life.
I have enjoyed it all very much.

Today, my thanks and tribute goes out to a woman who is 'well-known' in the scrap industry, and she just happened to be the spark that started the fire inside of me. As she has probably done for countless others- not just me.
I picked up the book Clean & Simple Scrapbooking to use up the rest of a giftcard I had been given to at Hobby Lobby. I think it's funny now, looking back, that I had extra money on a card in a store where there is scrap product in more than one aisle. Anyway, I was struck by the colors and design of the cover, having some roots in graphic design made this book appealing to me. However, when I got home and started reading this book I was hooked. I had never been excited about scrapbooking- ever- but this book made me want to learn more.
So, after one afternoon of reading and finishing this book, at my next opportunity, I searched "Cathy Zielske" on my computer, and that is how I came upon her blog,{ 'bits and pieces'}.
I had never heard of a blog before. It was May of 2005. I was now hooked by Cathy's book (she now has two of them out [and I own them both, lucky me!] and you can link and purchase them through her blog), her stories (as a native Minnesotan, her stories and layouts had true meaning for me...I knew what and where she was talking about) and now her blog. Through her blog, I found links to some scrapbooking sites, as well as links to other blogs, which in turn had links to even more blogs.
Eventually, I decided that my life and pictures and stories were equally as important to document, as the other blogs which I had been reading for months now. It seemed to make sense that I should have a blog- if only to keep some of my closest friends and family members updated with my life and that of the rest of my family. But that's part of the irony of this...many of my family and dear friends are the last to check in here on any given day...or even at all. This Nitty.Gritty. has connected me with people around the globe. Some of those people (maybe even you!) have written me lengthy emails and notes about how much they have been touched by this blog and how they think about me in the middle of routine things in life- like during bathtime with their own kids. Or when they order Starbuck's lattes.
I'm thrilled that this blog has helped some of you 'better' your life. Or given you more patience with others. Or helped you appreciate life- even in the middle of a trying time. Or that it has simply made you more grateful for what you already had in life- but just hadn't 'looked at it in that way before'. That to me is reason to keep blogging. It is humbling to think that my stories help others to live differently. Or more purposefully. Wow.
All because of a lady, who made me believe that my words and pictures were worth sharing. If you feel like it, stop by her blog today and thank her in her comments, or drop her an email ( telling her that she is so cool. More cool than she realizes, I suppose. Thank her for being the seed that planted the idea of Nitty.Gritty.
Really, this whole 'tribute to CZ' is just an excuse for me to post my pictures of the two of us together, as well as the one of us eating a Ben & Jerry's sundae with Heidi Swapp and Emily Waters. I think you'll agree, that it's a very good excuse. And to me, it's even more than that. It's my way of remembering this story in my life, of thinking about the impacts and changes this blog has brought in my life, and of being grateful for the chance to bring my 'cyberworld' and my real life together. That's what I love about blogging. It's not just 'out there' for me. It's real!
And now...I leave you with a commemorative 250th post limerick (you're invited to write one and post it in my comments here)...
There once was a blog; Nitty.Gritty.
Full of pics, real-life stuff, sometimes witty.
A dose for your day,
makes you think, maybe pray;
Always real, here's to more... at least 250!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thoughts and pics of yesterday...

In our house it was a day of remembering in more than one way yesterday. It happened to be the first day of preschool for Wyndham and Isabella too. Wyndham is repeating preschool- to get more skilled in the areas she still has issues in, and also to stay in therapy more intensely. So, I now have two girls in the same class.
They have been excited for quite some time, and in the top picture, you can see some of that. We practiced using backpacks and tried on some school clothes the night before, and when I asked for a posed picture, these are the faces that I got. I love that it's Bella copying Wyndham here- most of the time it's the other way around.
Then it was off to school for three of my four kids from home Tuesday morning. Let me assure you that it is no small task to get this many little kids to wake up, get fed, get dressed and out the door- especially since we are NOT morning people around here. In fact, if they had preschool classes from say 7-9:45 pm, we'd be the first to sign up!
There were some schedule adjustments made the rest of the day, and Wyndham got a short nap in- which never happens. I figure by about mid-February we'll all finally be adjusted to this schedule. ALmost in time for school to out for the summer again.
It definitely makes me realize that this time of our lives goes by so quickly. Ava is already trying out her backpack and is anxious for her big day to come. Which I know will be here all too soon.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I am watching footage of the events of September 11, 2001 as they happened live, five years ago. If you remember my post back on July 21 of this summer, I mentioned how this day, along with my own personal tragedy, changed my perspective in life forever.
I was still reeling from my own grief and pain and loss. I had only two weeks earlier, had a memorial service for my four year old daughter, Teagan. I was still having nightmares every night, and Brock and I were both suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Life had already been ripped to pieces for me and my family.
And then the morning of 9-11 began to unfold. I thought the world could literally be coming to an end. I sort of believed it was even before all this happened. Imagine my horror, as my mind tried to grasp the unbelievabilty of what was taking place. My head hurt. My throat hurt. My heart hurt. The pictures on tv made me re-live what I had just been through myself- I had lived through a building crumbling down on and around me and my family. I had carried Teagan out of the rubble and laid her down on some gravel and watched her turn blue and lifeless. I couldn't believe I was seeing a grand scale of my own incident happening to so many people.
It definitely struck a chord with me, and I cried for those who would be living the nightmare that I was already experiencing- that of death and grief and having the security and routine of your life torn from your hands. My sister-in-law saw the plane fly overhead and into the Pentagon. This was very real for me and my family.
Now, five years later, I still feel sad inside for everything that changed in my life and the larger life of our nation. It hurts to know that we will never feel the innocence and freedom we once took for granted. We can never forget that life is precious, that we don't know what tomorrow holds, and that we must embrace the moments we have every single day.
I hope today, as you remember the events of 9/11, that you will cherish your loved ones, that you will thank God for the blessings in your life, and that you will never take for granted the life you have today.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A quick reminder.

I'm dropping in here to remind myself and anyone else who reads this that ONE MONTH from today, I will be rubbing elbows with some of the 'scrap-greats' and talent of the paper/digital scrapbooking industry at an event called Memory Trends.
I will either hear my name or one of 9 other creative up and comers name called to be awarded title of CK's "Scrapbooker of the Year"2006. What a privilege, what an unimaginable thing- considering I had never scrapped layouts til May of this year. I totally believe that I am meant to be here at- it feels right and awesome! It has boosted my creative energy level, it has given validation to me making scrap pages, and to top it off, I won a trip to Vegas- where my sister, Jacque and her family live. So, I get an added bonus on my trip out West.
I plan on having an absolutely wonderful time. And who knows? I could be signing my name, SOY Jody Ferlaak a month from now. Yippee!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Baby Jaymun could use your prayers...

One of the benefits of blogging is the connections and friendships that develop often times between me and people I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. I get emails every single day from new fans or people who are introducing themselves after having been checking back here for days.
I'm not totally sure why it is that people feel drawn to share their stories with me, but I hope it is in part because I have been so open about sharing my own life here on Nitty.Gritty. I try to represent all aspects of my life- especially my struggles, my faith, my hope and my joy...which can range from fresh, folded laundry to a batch of homemade buttercream. And lots of things in between.
The past couple of weeks I have had the privilege and honor of 'meeting' and praying for the Kaat family. This family welcomed a new baby, Jaymun, into their lives this past July, and I'm sure they were stunned when they learned he had a form of leukemia and would have to begin chemotherapy treatments right away.
Now, as a mom of five, myself, I understand the challenges and thrills and hormones and anxiousness and exhaustion that a new baby brings to your life. Imagine all of that, and then having to reallign your reality with fighting a life-threatening disease as well. It must be overwhelming and heartbreaking at times. This is why I have found myself praying for Jaymun, his mom, Jennifer, and dad and 4 siblings at home. Their life is anything but routine and easy at this time. I know that Jaymun needs all the prayers he can get at this point in his infant life and treatment. His mom told me I could ask for your prayers, and I could give you the link to the website they have started on Jaymun's behalf.
I know many of you have big hearts and strong faiths. I know too many of us take our routine 'stressful' lives for granted from time to time. Here's a chance for you to not only appreciate your own life's circumstances, and be grateful for the routine of your days, but also a chance to bear the burden of another family as well. That's a task I never take lightly. I have walked in their shoes {as in spent time in hospitals, praying for the lives of my kids to be spared}, and I know that the prayers of others can be felt- they are real. And hopefully, they will be answered and we will all be rewarded with the miracle of healing in Jaymun's life.
Thanks, Kaats, for sharing your special baby with me and my blog readers. I hope you feel an outpouring of support and care. And if there is anything more I can do for you, please don't hesitate to call on me. Take care...and enjoy your short weekend break from the hospital.
Now, go here to read more about Jaymun-

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pucci, Prada, Kate Spade- couture!

I was thinking of not blogging this morning...feeling a bit tired, probably from waking up to an alarm everyday this week. But, then my coconut coffee started kicking in and I figured I'd find something to show you. Nothing like looking at my own stuff to remind myself that I love making and creating and designing and just enjoying colors and life around me every single day. I'm finding that's what I'm good at- everyday living.
After a rather typical week of life, full of the stuff I'm so good at- like doing laundry, baking, coloring pages with my kids, washing hair with fruity shampoo and getting all the tangles out after baths; stuff like calming fears of cricketts in my daughter's bedroom and getting extra hugs before bedtime because "You're the best mom, ever". I never realized that my most challenging role in life wouldn't be something that I studied and learned about in college, or even in the jobs I held after my graduation. Trying to be the best person I can be from morning til night to my husband and all the other little people in my life everyday, has become my passion as well as my reward.
This scrap layout that I did sort of holds that hidden meaning for me. I know that there are people who would argue that I could be doing so much more in life. Or I imagine a career I could be deep into, had I chosen other paths in life. Instead, I find myself in the middle of my ordinary, everyday life. Truly, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I scrapped a picture of Wyndham's AFOs (ankle-foot orthodics) that she wears to give her more stability, arch and proper foot alignment as part of her onging therapy. She started walking independently shortly after getting fitted for her first pair. They are bulky and annoying to put on her most days- although she doesn't seem to mind them once they're on. And sometimes I think I dislike them simply because they remind me that our family has ongoing issues as a result of something that happened five years ago.
But I also realize that my challenges have produced great insight and perspective in me, and have allowed me to become the mom and person I am today in many repsects. That to me, has been the greatest gift in all of my struggles. I've learned to value things that money can't buy. I wanted to share that with Wyndham through this scrap page. I hope you enjoy.
The journaling reads:
These shoes may not be Prada~
They will never grace the runways or suit the world of high fashion. But that's the beauty in this life lesson. True fashion sense isn't about clothes. Rather, it is making certain what you wear on the outside doesn't clash with what's on the inside.
Fashion advice for life: What you wear on your feet matters less than what's in your soul.

Now, aren't you glad I decided to post today? I am. =)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Peachy Amaretto Crisp~

As promised, here is my recipe for peach crisp. There's the name 'Ann Heikkila' of Minnesota printed beneath the recipe- so I am giving her credit. If anybody actually knows this lady, tell her I said, 'thank you'. =)

Peachy Amaretto Crisp~
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. almond flavored liqueur (or orange juice + 1 tsp. almond extract)
5 to 6 cups peeled, sliced fresh peaches
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup chopped slivered toasted almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl stir together all filling ingredients except peaches; mix well. Stir in peaches; pour into a 12x8-inch baking dish. In another medium bowl combine all topping ingredients except margarine and almonds. Cut in margarine until crumbly; stir in almonds. Crumble mixture over peaches. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around edges.

Simple and delicious! I skipped the almonds in my dish because my kids don't like nuts. I also make more crumble for my topping- because that's the part everybody likes best. We ate ours warm with cream over the top, but this would be great with vanilla icecream, or real whipping cream too. Come to think of it, practically any dessert in life is better with icecream or whipped cream in my book. =)

In case anyone is wondering about me and my biking, I did manage to get out and ride twice yesterday. Somehow it just worked into my schedule. I was happy about that. It made up for some of the extra calories I ate in the peach crisp. See? In real life, it's all about balance...sacrifices and rewards...enjoying the little things...and just rolling with whatever comes your way. Enjoy this recipe; and if you try it, drop me an email with your review of it. Thanks!