Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Double post.

I guess I'm making up for not blogging yesterday with a bonus post today. Some pics of more Valentine's cards (one is a little hanging card), because if you read my previous post you know what I think the world needs...more love. {Ha...I suppose some of us are now singing, "What the world needs now, is Love, sweet love".....}
But I think it's so true! Imagine if there were people 'stationed' outside the entrances of our Junior and Senior high schools who gave each student a hug and told them they were loved each day on their way to their locker to start their morning. Don't you think there might be some improved grades, or fewer fights in the halls, or maybe just a head or two held higher? I know there's that thing about appropriate touch and all, but I think it's such a basic sentiment missing in the lives of so many people in the world.
Or what about our prisons? {It's true I think more about what goes on in jail more than the average person least from time to time.} I think it's so backwards in a way, that the people who end up in prison are probably the ones who need more love and affirmation than the rest of the civilized people in the nation. I can't help but think that part of the reason so many people end up behind bars is because they weren't told they were loved or appreciated or respected from a young age on up. Then they end up in a place where I'm sure it's not the first thing whispered in their ear in the morning.
Just to be clear. I'm not offering lack of affection and care as an excuse for why people commit crimes, but I just can't shake the thought that there is probably a strong correlation between the two.
Even in my own experiences I can say that it takes a lot of love and positive reinforcement- and there still aren't guarantees in life. I grew up in a secure, loving home, and still, for many years I didn't like myself that much and I had a really poor self-image {and it wasn't just because of my Olgilvie Home perms, either, Chip! (Is that how you spell Olgilvie?)}, but I really doubted my own self worth and value. I had a hard time 'fitting in' at school...and to tell you the truth, I was trying hard much of the time not to fit in. I just felt out-of-place and not sure of my purpose in life for a long time.
There it is. Out in the open for the world to see. Nitty.Gritty. didn't like herself as a young person. Okay. I liked parts of myself and my personality...but there were a lot of people who just didn't 'get me'. Does that make sense?
What I am looking back on and wrestling with in my life now is how can I do my best to help others who may be in that same position, or who I have looked down on for so long, and am learning that life wasn't always their fault. It's that inner-conflict, once again. Part of it has to do with maturing, and part of it has to do with giving back. My cards are just one small expression of what's on the inside. Maybe one day I will find a way to pour my heart out in a way that reaches the people I have always yearned to touch. {In a very appropriate way. =)}

How are you doing?

That's a question I'm posing as this is the last day of January, and I think a good day to reflect on any New Year's resolutions, or in my case, my 'quest for personal enrichment' for 2007. How is it going?
You will thank me for NOT posting yesterday. I was crabby. For most of the day. It could be that the kids had a snow-delay and so the day was all mixed up to begin with, or the fact that Bella, Wyndham and Ava couldn't get along with anything or anyone from the hours of 10am and 7 pm. Or maybe that I was thinking too much about my desire to live my life more sacrificially, and I just wasn't 'feeling it' yesterday. Which created inner conflict.
I know. It's sounds a little bit deep, and it probably is a heavy topic for someone like me- a simple stay-at-home Mom. But that's part of my struggle.
Sometimes I feel like I am trying too hard to reach outside the circle of 'me' in which I live, and then other times I feel like there is so much more I could be doing- if I could just channel myself and my energies differently. That's my struggle.
Some of this stems from the number of times this desire to 'do more' has come at me in various ways over the past couple of weeks- through conversations with others, church sermons, daily quiet time, and even through some emails. I have become much more aware of other people and sensative to the ongoing needs of people less fortunate than me mostly out of the experiences of my own tragedy.
In one sense I had to look at other people who had it 'worse than me' in order that I could feel some hope and not get bogged down with depression, sadness, bitterness and the reality that life is so unfair. Seeing the 'goodness' in my life in contrast to someone else's unfortunate circumstances helped me to 'keep my own chin up' more than I would have without this perspective.
On the other hand, seeing the rough road others have had to travel made me more keenly aware of how blessed I was...and am. I spent an evening in the Flint ER while my family was hospitalized one Friday evening at Hurley Medical Center (which is an inner-city trauma center), and my eyes were opened to a whole world of hurting people. I sat in a wheelchair with my mom at my side and we shed tears- not just for the pain we were experiencing with the death of Teagan and the other injuries my family had, but for the lives that seemed to be being 'wasted' by the other patients and visitors in the waiting room. One after another, we watched people say the most hurtful words to the people they were waiting alongside. We watched parents dump money into snack machines for junk food, while their babies drank what looked like 'dirty juice' in their bottles. We witnessed one gun-shot wound victim after another get rushed through the ER doors- and their foul-mouthed friends followed along behind them- each blaming the other for what had happened to get them to this point. It was sad- to say the least.
At one point in the night, I was so overwhelmed with hurt for the people I was watching that I asked my mom if I should just blurt out, "Who here just wants a hug?". I was so sad seeing the hopelessness and despair in these people's lives, and all I could think of was that this was 'normal' for them. This was how their lives were lived. And I'm not just saying that- but some of them were talking about how last week this is who they came to visit after a fight and gunshots broke out. Or they joked about who would be the next one on the gurney. It was so matter of fact. And those babies who were drinking dirty juice in their bottles, had no idea that that wasn't what they should be drinking- that they deserved something better like warm milk. I glimpsed their future and it was sad to me. This life would just continue to cycle for them, and then their kids and their kids, and the horrible language and violence and destructive habits- they would just be a part of life.
That night in the ER definitely opened my eyes to the realities and hurts of the world in which we live. It wasn't just a show on tv, or a news segment. It was real, and it had a smell and sights and sounds that I don't think I'll ever forget. It gnawed at my stomach for days and weeks, and sometimes it still does. It makes me feel like I have been called to do something about it personally. That is why I struggle deep down at times, wondering what it is that I can do on my own powers.
So, maybe it's a bit heavy. But it's my own personal turmoil and I know that I have been blessed more than I ever deserve to be in my life. I didn't choose my loving family and warm home and homebaked after-school snacks and clean clothes and great education and all the other blessings that just happened to come my way in life. But because of all this goodness, I have been feeling more and more that I can give some of it away. Whether it is my money, my time, my talents, my material much that I can give away, and I will still have more than I need.
All that to say, I am working on my issues. I know that I won't see a resolution in a simple, tangible way, but I do continue to try to be aware of needs, and of ways that I can give of myself. It's an ongoing challenge, and one that I don't think will ever end. But at least I am in position to do something. Even if it seems small. I am learning that one little thing might be all I am asked to do in any particular situation. But that one thing might lead to greater change down the road. And the truth is, no matter what I do or give or sacrifice, it really is for something bigger than me. I keep reminding myself of that fact- sacrifice might feel like it's about me...but it's really about something more than I can ever be.

Monday, January 29, 2007


For not quite yet three years old, Ava has developed a sudden interest in cheerleading. It's so cute to watch her study the positions and moves that she copies as she watches a DVD. With the SuperBowl game just around the corner, I'm sure she'll be ready. She's a natural. Not just the moves, but the loud voice too! =)
As for myself and being intense about something, well, I guess you could say diet. Not that I'm on a strict diet or losing weight for a New Year's resolution or anything like that. No, I am intense because I saw a portion of the movie "Super Size Me" last night. Have any of you watched this? It's been out for a few years (that's how 'out of it' I am) but it's airing on one of our satellite stations, so I saw a bit of it. Enough to be disgusted and humored all at the same time. I love that in a movie...
Anyway, let's just say that I won't be eating any McNuggets or Big Macs for at least a week. That's when my kids will start begging for the new toys or humming, "Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh...I'm lovin' it," as we drive past the golden arches.
Okay. I have to go hug my hubby now. He just came in from snowblowing the driveway. I LOVE that man! I am so pleased that the snow dumped on us here in Michigan just after he came home from Florida. See? Sometimes life really DOES go my way. =)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mail and meltdowns.

I officially drew two names out of a hat this evening, and the Valentine card recipients are going to be Lisa Tanner and Jill from Omaha. Send me your mailing addresses (to ) and I will get those cards in the mail to you.

Thanks to everyone for all your candy heart thoughts. I now have some new blogs to check out thanks to some of your links too. Just for that, I will have even less time in my life to scrap layouts and make cards. =)

I am happy to report that Chip made it home safe and sound, and wanted to pack his bags for another trip after being in the house for less than 2 minutes. Everything and everyone was just as he had left it- crazy as ever! Some of you can relate to that, huh? I owe a big thanks to Rachael for all her help with my younguns while Chip was away. She kept me sane and we even had some laughs, "Thank You, Rachael".

In addition, I owe "Dr. & Mrs. H' a big apology for Bella's meltdown at their front door as we prepared to leave their home last evening. Bella wanted to stay and have a sleepover with their 4 year-old son...and she was devastated when I wouldn't allow it. {This was only the second time she had ever played with their son! I do have a few standards. =)} So, she cried the whole way home, and then once inside our house started saying, "I love you, I love you, I love you" that she could avoid getting an expected punishment. Smart girl, really. I hope her behavior isn't a reflection of my parenting, or of how she plans on acting in future years. But I have a strange feeling.... Despite all the yelling, running, jumping, not sharing, pulling, pushing, knocking over, and misunderstanding, we had a nice time with the 'H family', and we hope our friendship can blossom from here on out. Thanks for dinner and entertaining my kids, and I promise to work on Bella and her meltdowns this week.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Who loves mail?

Nitty.Gritty. Valentine's cards. I love mail, remember? Actually, I love handmade or thoughtful mail- especially for no special reason. Since I haven't had to be out snowblowing my driveway in the past two days, I've had a few free minutes to whip up some cards. I know some scrappers read this blog, and one of the things scrappers love is when people share their ideas.
So, here you are. The hearts on my cards are pieces of fabric that I cut out, freehand. Then I stapled them and tucked some stuffing in them for dimension and just because it's fun to make puffy hearts. =) As you can see, I've gone with some non-traditional colors for this holiday. That's half the fun- doing something a little unexpected.
I will probably add some text to the front of one or both of these cards. I have a few other fabrics that I am going to play with as well...and use up some of the cute ribbon I have laying around.
And just to add some more fun to my life, leave a comment here telling me your favorite saying from a conversation heart (or make up a saying) and I will draw a couple of names from the list of comments left here by Sunday night, and then I will send you one of these Nitty.Gritty. cards. How's that sound! Note: If you are my relative or close friend, you can take a chance here, skip leaving a comment, and cross your fingers that you're on my Valentine's mailing list already. =)
Okay. Get ready, set go! I'll favorite conversation heart is 'DIG YOU'.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

And so it goes....

The good news is that there was minimal snow accumulation overnight, so I didn't have to get out and use the ol' snowblower. =)
That's it. There's no bad news. Just 'totally what one would expect' news. That is this, yesterday, while I was dealing with a dead car battery and having to learn how to operate a piece of equipment that could eat me for lunch, my hubby was enjoying being bumped up to first class on one leg of his trip, and then being upgraded at no extra charge at the vehicle rental agency.
How's that for fair?!
But that's precisely what Nitty.Gritty. boils down to. It's not just me, either. I've been getting some great emails and encouraging notes from people about other life events that have been thrown at people and they have come out from underneath them- shining. Or at least not as 'banged up' as one would expect. I have been inspired by Adrienne and the way she has faced the death of her infant son, Noah, in the last week. You can read about her ongoing journey here. Touching...and another reminder that life is more about how we react than what comes at us from day to day.
I read a great quote by Drew Barrymore in the Parade insert from the Sunday paper this last Sun. I pulled it from the interview, but you can read the whole article if you go here. Drew has been known to have had a rough upbrininging and has been through some ups and downs over the course of her 31 years of life. This was one of her responses to the interviewer who asked about how she responds to all that,
"You’re dealt the cards that you’re dealt. You can let that be your downfall or a springboard to become something better."
If everyone were open to accepting this reality in life, I think we would see a whole new world.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My lessons for today.

I think my husband has a special ability. He leaves home and WITHOUT FAIL something happens that forces me to learn a new skill or call on a friend or handyman. {I hate having to ask people for help.}
Today...he's off to Florida, I was so confident that all would be well while he's away. Apparantly I needed a lesson in self-suffieciency and/or pride.
I had the kids up, fed, dressed and ready to go, and found my vehicle dead. Bella started to cry, "Not my van! I don't want a dead van!" Brock says, "Yay! I don't have to go to school today!" I'm thinking, "What did I do the past couple of days that I should have done differently?"
Thankfully a terrific friend came to my rescue and we ended up only about 35 minutes late for school. Not bad.
My lessons came in my next venture. I had Chip talk me through starting the snow blower and figured I'd have no problem driving that baby to clear the ridge of snow in front of our mailbox. This is where the learning part began. All I know is you all would be getting a thrill if I had streaming video of 'Nitty.Gritty. vs. the Snowblower' to link here.
First lesson 8 horse-power snowblower in fourth gear can take a 125 lb. person anywhere it wants to.
Next lesson... I will never tell Chip that he's lucky to be the 'guy instead of the girl' at our house. I have taken his snowplowing efforts for granted far too long. Never again.
I sure hope the snowflakes subside today. Otherwise it's gonna be me and the ol' snowblower again tomorrow. I'd rather sit at the computer with a steaming cup of coconut coffee and my blog. {Hurry home, Chip! Love you. =)}

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nitty.Gritty. "This is my life" philosophy for living

This is a snapshot of one second in my life from three days ago. I'm not sure why exactly I took this photo, but it actually says a lot about me, I think. First of all, you can see from the 'mess' in the room, that I am as I say I am. Real, not perfect, constantly reminded of the patience I keep striving to obtain (I've gotten MUCH better with patience through the years), present in the moment, and basically able to savor and almost 'glamorize' the ordinary.
I get emails from people on occasion, asking me how it is that I live the way I do. I know, {Chip} I've blogged about this before. But I just want to keep driving home the, I am still working at it. So, if I am still learning and trying to keep at it, then obviously it's something that is blog worthy. {Not to point him out in a bad way...but hubby thinks I have been too redundant here in my posts lately. I apologize if this is one of those posts.}
I am no superhero. I don't even see a weekly therapist (hold the comments here, please), and I somehow manage to function in my daily life with a true inner sense of contentment. It has been an ongoing process in my life, and one that I don't think will ever stop changing in me- as I am constantly experiencing new things and the dynamics in my life are different from day to day. Still, I have to admit that I feel overwhelmingly content in my life and with my life. For me that means a lot of things. That's where I keep growing and learning and 'maturing' as I put it. It's something that I believe takes practice and effort. I don't think it just happens. But the good news is that I believe that we all can experience it!
I remember watching a segment of Oprah a few years ago in which she was talking to Celine Dion and I had one of those 'lightbulb moments' that people talk about. It was not really even meant to be a 'teachable moment' as far as the show was concerned, but was more just a casual conversation between these two women. I happened to be fortunate enough to be watching at this particular moment and this conversation impacted me deeply- although I may not have even realized it or to what extent at that time.
The general conversation was simply Oprah asking Celine what she was looking forward to as she prepared to move to a new home, become more of a 'home body' (this was about the time her son Charles Renee was going to be born and she was moving to her new place out in Las Vegas, if I'm not mistaken), and slow down her life compared to how she had been living it. Here's the part that struck me. Celine told Oprah she was looking forward to doing things for herself and her family. She got all giddy at the idea of waking up in her own bed and getting up, heading to the kitchen and making a piece of peanut butter toast. {To which she added that she was going to 'butter it first and then put peanut butter on top of that'...I do remember that part clearly. =)} Like I said, I don't think I really understood how much this little conversation would impact me, but it has. Very much, I might add...even if only in the back of my mind from time to time. It put things in perspective for me. It has shaped my attitude to a certain degree.
In fact, today when I journaled a couple of pages in a small notebook, this is what I wrote.
"The perspective that guides/shapes my parenting is this- When you begin to see the day to day as a delight, rather than a drudgery... When serving my children is seen as a privilege rather than a chore... Knowing that my actions are, slowly and through repetition, shaping them for the rest of their lives... then it becomes a task of enormous and lasting consequence.
It becomes a 'higher calling' and the reality sinks in that demanding my best, giving it my all, and expressing love in everything I do, is the least I can offer to those who mean the most to me."
I think it's important to realize this, not only in our relationships with kids, but with spouses, coworkers, extended family, and to anyone whose life we might connect with. I think that conversation between Oprah and Celine was one step in me getting to the point of this realization in my life. It hit me as Celine talked, that although she had access to all sorts of services and people and places and positions...endless opportunities at her fingertips, that what she was dreaming of was the life that I had. I was getting up out of my bed each morning, making peanut butter toast, and taking care of the needs of those I loved around me. THAT is what she wanted! That was my lightbulb moment. Right then and there, I recognized that what I had in my life was 'perfect' was more than I deserved, and it was something I should appreciate every single day.
True contentment, as I've blogged about before, comes not from things, but from within. It's something that cannot be bought or attained, but has to come from the heart. I guess from some of the emails I've received lately, it has hit home to me again. I am happy to say that I am living a life of contentment...and I hope I inspire others to step back and realize their own place in this world and that this peace, this joy, this contentment is something that is available to everyone. It's not defined by circumstance, location, monetary worth. It comes in accepting who you are, and that where you are is a very good place to be.
It sounds so simple...and yet it has taken some really drastic happenings in my life for me to come to this point. That's part of the reason that I share my philosophies and beliefs here. I am determined to share my experiences in hopes that others will gain insights or at least pause and reflect on their own lives, and in so doing, reap some of the rewards I appreciate without actually having to live through the things I have had to go through.
In the end, this is just part of my journey and one of the important lessons that I have learned. Tomorrow will be a new day...with new lessons and experiences. I have learned though, that it is important to build on each and every experience...and that's what I intend to do.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pop Tarts and World Peace

So, I dragged myself to the grocery store a couple of nights ago {and yes, I "rode the cart" from my vehicle to the cart corrale area in the snow at almost 10 pm. I'm sure that the Meijier security camera people will love seeing that footage should they ever have to review it for any reason =)}, and much to my surprise, Kellogg's has come out with new Pop Tart flavors once again.
I stepped back from the selection and counted roughly 32 different varieties of flavors- it's mind boggling! How do they keep doing this? In case you're wondering the new flavors are 'Hot Chocolate' and 'Strawberry Danish'. I'm still waiting for Starbuck's Latte or Smurf Berry Blue...not exactly sure what they would use for the filling in that one.
Anyway, as I stood there making the decision of what kind of Pop Tarts to buy, I started thinking that maybe they could put the "product idea people" on some sort of committee to explore ways to develop world peace. I mean think about it. These people must have some really terrific and funky discussions around their conference room table. If they could just spin their ideas from Pop-Tarts to politics, we might have something that the whole world could benefit from, wouldn't you agree?
Okay. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but still. Thirty-some flavors of Pop Tarts must mean there is a lot of brainstorming and creative idea powering the minds and drive behind Kellogg's product research.
For my own little fun and kicks, tell me what your favorite flavor of Pop Tart is...and if you really have your thinking cap on, what would you choose as the next flavor to hit the shelves? This could be fun...and who knows, maybe it could bring us one step closer to world peace. =)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Convenient versus necessary.

I hope that I have the ability to make sense out of my thoughts for this post. Bear with me, as I am thinking them through and writing them down all at the same time here today.
This layout has had me thinking about the hope I possess and how real it is to me. There is nothing anybody can say to shake my belief that I will see Teagan in Heaven again someday. In the early days and months after her death, sometimes the one thing that got me up and out of bed and in the mood to try to put some normalcy back into my life was the thought that getting through the day would bring me one day closer to seeing Teagan again. {I know...a very selfish way to live, but that's the truth.}
When I was scrapping this page I started thinking about a couple of different things. The first is that I felt a real sense of happiness and excitement as I imagined the day when I will actually be with Teagan (and God, of course!). I feel really lucky that God has given me this peace and assurance and the promise of Heaven. It has been my source of comfort and has been the thought that has given me the ability to go out and live {with joy} and turn my sorrows into opportunities to offer comfort and hope to others. I sometimes feel 'blessed' that God has chosen me to be used in this way.
Another thought was this- I wouldn't trade the tragic experience I have lived through (even though I wished it would have never happened) because it has brought me into a deeper relationship with God- I have a renewed passion about my faith- more than I ever had before Teagan's death. Here's where I am still thinking things through. I fully believe that God could have used other events in my life to bring about this same result. I know He could have enlarged my faith in other ways...and I don't blame my faith (or the lack of it) for Teagan's death. (Meaning I don't think God had Teagan die just so that I could have a closer relationship with Him.) However, it has been one of the 'gifts' I have been given since losing Teagan. I may have said it here before; I feel like her death and our physical, emotional and spiritual experiences have given me a "new set of eyes" from which I view life (and death and all eternity).
What I have been realizing is how much I live each day with total dependance on God. Granted, somedays are more demanding than others. And somedays I am more filled with praise and thanksgiving and gratitude, rather than having to ask for help and strength as I did in the days where trauma was the norm in our household. I have looked back and looked inside and have seen that although God has been "in my heart and life" since I was just a little girl of age four, I didn't 'need' Him in ways that I need Him now. It's sort of backwards when I think about it. The times when I have felt closest to God have been when life has demanded the most from me. One would think that would be the time of questioning where God is. And many people do this, so it makes me even more grateful that God 'showed up' at these dark times for me. That's has been amazing for me- God has shown me grace and mercy.
The times in my life when things were pretty 'smooth sailing' are when I took God for granted. Why would I need God when things are going well? That's where I got the title for this post. It makes me wonder about God and the way He works. I am fully aware that I will never understand His ways and His timing and His plans...but I am beginning to see that He is necessary in my life. Every single day. Not just when I decide I need His help. He has shown me through Teagan's death and through other life experiences that He desires to be the One thing in life that I just can't live without.
I thank Him for giving me the thoughts like the one on this page- that I will see Teagan again, and dance with her in Heaven someday. {Those of you who remember Teagan can't help but think that it's gonna be a special moment...she loved to dance and be the center of things!} So, that's my thoughts...maybe you didn't need to hear them, but I needed to get them down, and this blog is always such a great spot for me to do my thinking. And if you want to share your own thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. Is God convenient in your life, or necessary? Or do you even think you need Him at all. I know I talk about faith a lot. I can't help it- God is everything to me- so I guess that explains it, huh.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"One-Hit Wonder"

You know how they refer to bands on VH-1 (not that I watch VH-1 all that often) when they have a song that goes straight to the top and then that's all you ever hear from them? Well, that's a good description of me in the scrap world right now. =)
I recently had my first published layout in Creating Keepsakes Top Ten Issue Magazine as part of the SOY article they featured. I have not seen my layout in print, and it differs from the one here, because it just so happened that this layout got misplaced by one of the mag editors and so I had to rescrap this one for the actual magazine article. But anyway, I've been told it's on page 50, and it has had some scrappers in tears.
I had it in my head to turn these pictures and journaling into a mini-album for my kids to read as they grow up. But, when that contest came around and I had a deadline to make 20 layouts, well, I just grouped all the photos together and made one layout out of them. This is different in style then a lot of my other pages. Just goes to show you that I was (and still am) learning about scrapping and trying to figure out how to do it. It's still amazing to me that I won a spot in the top 10 in the SOY contest, considering I never scrapped before then!
I know it has more to do with my 'scrap philosophy', if there is such a thing. I truly believe that the 'story' or memory or fact expressed on the page is the most important element. If a page evokes emotion, or holds a lot of meaning, well then I think it's a great layout. I have layouts that are just for fun. Or simple and wouldn't mean a thing to hardly another soul in the world. But for me, they speak volumes. That's why I scrap. For me. So, you can imagine how much I have gotten a kick out of seeing my pages make it to the top. Even if I only end up as a one-hit wonder, it's been a fun ride. =)
Oh yeah. In case you can't read the little journaling boxes on the page, this is what they say:
"I Should Have Known"
I should have known that I would miss you every minute of my day. Simply being you...the way you would tilt your head, the twinkle in your eyes and the gleam of your smile lit up every minute of everyday that I had you in my life. I should have known that I could miss your smile.
I should have known that making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or doing laundry could make my heart ache for you. Folding the whites without your days-of-the-week underware has brought me to my knees in tears. I should have known I could miss you even in my daily routine.
I should have known when seasons change my thoughts turn to you. You loved spring flowers; you lived for the warmth and fun of summer. The crisp fall air brings memories of you laughing & jumping into piles of crunchy leaves. Each year my eyes fill with tears at the first snowfall. I should have known.
I should have known the pain of losing you would be so great. Teagan, you touched the deepest parts of me- my heart and my soul. I am grateful for the time I had you in my life. You filled my days with joy and delight. I only wish I would have soaked these memories in a tiny bit more.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Somedays I just love the fact that I have kids. I mean, just look at those faces- so happy, so ready to take on the world.
Really, you would think that I am the perfect Mom looking at pics such as these. But don't let these kids fool you. I had the brilliant idea to take two of my girls to the mall and play in the little play area a couple of days ago. The whole playtime went well. But at the mention of 'time to go' things fell apart. I (and my friend, Rachael, poor girl!) literally had to take those two 'darlings' out of the mall, kicking and screaming and doing that whole thing where they make their bodies go limp and you can barely hold them in your arms. Yep. That's exactly how it went...all the way through JCPenney's and out into the parking lot. I thought for sure someone would stop me for questioning...I know that the store patrons that watched thought I was abducting a couple of small children- in broad daylight! It was that bad.
You would think these kids would have learned their lesson after being "grounded from Chocolate Lucky Charms" for the past 6 months. But no. They are now grounded from play areas for about 2 years. Although I am considering lessening the charges for "good behavior". I'll let you know. =)
Don't you (the ones that have them) love the way your kids make you a better person?! I do.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In the Headlines...

I have been thinking a lot lately about some of the news stories that capture our hearts and attention from day to day. I do not watch a lot of tv (besides childrens' programming) and I sometimes feel like I am out-of-touch with what's going on in the world around me. Many of you moms can probably empathize with spins around us and demands enough attention. Why worry about what's happening somewhere else in the world?
Well, I have gotten some emails and have been engaged with some blogs recently in which people have had their lives changed so suddenly. I can relate to that. Six years ago, I was sitting home with a newborn (barely 5 pound baby) and a not-quite 2-yr old, and not-quite 3-yr old. My life was consumed with just staying on top of their needs and demands for my time, my body (loving, nursing, cuddling, getting no sleep, etc.) and I can say I felt happy, but definitely not concerned with life outside my little world.
I had no clue that in just 10 days from then, the events in my little world were about to begin to unwind. I was totally unprepared for the day when Wyndham would turn blue, stop breathing, and be airlifted downstate to Hurley Hospital. I was naive to the fact that life could actually demand my whole being- just to survive emotionally. I was living a quiet, happy life...and although I was loving it- being a busy Mom, pulled in all directions all day long- I know I didn't fully appreciate those routine days.
Then, after Wyndham's breathing ordeal (she spent 5 days in ICU on a ventilator, and then was sent home on an oxygen/heart monitor, which she grew 'out of' after 3 months), I was more sensitive and appreciative of all that I had. I soaked in my 'ordinary life' every minute. I thanked God for sparing Wyndham's life and I think I thought I had lived through the 'worst' that life could throw my way.
As we all know, I was painfully wrong. Almost six months to the day, all three of my children lay in beds at Hurley Hospital in critical condition, and Chip was listed in serious condition. I could hardly believe the reality of what was happening.
It didn't fully 'hit me' until I saw my name and pictures on the front page of our local newspaper. I remember someone had brought some copies of the paper to the hospital, and when I picked them up to read accounts of what had happened, a feeling of disbelief came over me. It was surreal. I find it interesting that although I was living the events out at that time, that it took headlines to make it real to me.
It hits me over and over again, now, when I see or hear other heartbreaking or attention-grabbing headlines. I always imagine the families at the 'other end' of the headlines and how they must be feeling or reacting. Like a local family dealing with the death of a dad and two kids, while 2 sons remain hospitalized. I saw the pictures of the 4 year old girl on paper yesterday, and my heart ached for the Mom who was picking up that same paper and having it sink in that this was her life now.
Or on the flip-side, the recent findings of a kidnapped boy after 4 and a half years of being missing. I'm sure his family would have never, ever believed a week ago, that they would be 'headline news' after finding their son alive and well. It would have been unbelievable to conceive that before it happened, and yet it did.
It sometimes makes me wonder what the rest of my life holds. I'm sure if I were to read the 'headlines' of the future stories of my life, that I would find some of them as unbelievable as the ones that have happened already. Yet, I do not worry or fear what my life holds. I am grateful to know that I have comfort and peace no matter what may come my way. I am especially thankful that people that came to offer sympathies and words of hope, the ones that said, 'You and Chip will have to create a "new normal" in your life now', were right and we have found a "new normal" in life.
I guess these thoughts come out of the events of my life at the moment, in which Chip and I have been putting together some materials to organize the "Teagan Ferlaak Memorial Charity Pro-Am". I redesigned our foundation letterhead and created a new logo for the event. It just hits me each time, how crazy it is that this is MY life...I have a logo and foundation in memory of my deceased daughter. Yet, it is an amazing thing to see how this has shaped my life, drives the way I live and face my day-to-day happenings, and continues to give me {us} reason to do good in the lives of others- in honor and memory of Teagan. I love that.
My challenge for you would be to 'imagine the headlines' of your life for a moment. Can you? Would you want to know what they say? Are you prepared for whatever may come your way? We don't all get to choose what happens to us. That's been the fact of all of our lives...the choice comes in how we respond to those events. I know some of you have a strong faith and a very real peace in life. But if you don't, I encourage you to seek it, before life comes at you with something unexpected. We ALL face pain...and death at some point.
I am happy to say that Chip and I have been given the opportunities to 'rise above' our pain, hurt and tragedy, and define our lives in terms of the living we have done since Teagan's death. I think that is the headline that surprises and humbles me the most.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Exactly what I have thought but never quite put into words...

Came across this really great quote that I just had to share here.
By C.S. Lewis...
"If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world."
Think about that for a bit.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Totally blurred.

This beautiful (not!) photo is a picture of a very simple, tasty sandwich that I have blogged about in an earlier post. It's a sandwich that Chip and I modified from a recipe in Cooking Light magazine. We love it, and don't make it as often as we should. Every time we grill it up though, we tell ourselves we should make this more often. It's a great alternative to fast food, and as simple and light as it is, it is tasty and definitely satisfying.
SO, here I am blogging about it again- for myself. I apparantly don't take my own Nitty.Gritty. advice as often as I sometimes should. Hmmm. Wonder why that is?
Anyway, this sandwich is just like a traditional grilled cheese in preparation (butter the outsides of the bread, put the cheese/filling inside, and then grill to perfection), but we use cinnamon swirl or raisin swirl (or even cranberry-swirl) bread. Next we use goat cheese, which is found in the deli section at most grocery stores, and spread it on the bread, and then we top it with whatever flavor jam/preserve we have at the time. This one happened to be wild blueberry, but it tastes great with apricot and raspberry as well.
I'm telling you, you will wonder why you dine out on chicken fingers and burgers, when you could be eating this {healthier} fare and saving yourself money at the same time. Note to self: Skip the Panera and pick up a few ingredients and lunch is ready for the next couple of days.
We almost tried dipping this in my French Toast batter and eating it as a Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast...but I had already buttered my breads prior to this brilliant thought. But there you have it. Play around with the recipe and if you come up with something really wonderful, you have to tell me about it. As ususal.
The picture may be blurry and not so inviting...but don't let the picture fool you. This is one lunch too good to pass up on!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This is how I look most of the time. Chip thinks that I take entirely too many photos. They are not all good, that is part of the reason that I have to take so many. The other reason is that I have learned from experience that I will always want more. I don't believe there is such a thing as too many pictures. You don't have to print them all (now that we have digital cameras), you don't have to even look at them all if you don't want to, but they are there if you ever need them.
I pulled out some discs and looked back at my kids a year ago. (Yes, I burn my photos to cd's on a monthly basis. Sometimes more...) I couldn't believe that I took so many photos. And I couldn't believe how they had changed so much. My own kids! I mean, really, you'd think I'd know this- I live with them, right?! Yet, it was all in front of me...they have changed and grown and we have different beds (no more cribs in my house!!) and life has passed us by since then. We've made lots of memories in a year. I am glad to have caught so many in picture form. One day maybe Chip will thank me. =)
The real point of all of this is that I plugged my camera in to recharge the battery two days ago, and I haven't snapped a photo for 48 hours now. It's like I'm in detox...I have this feeling that I have missed something big.
Actually, we had some friends over for dinner tonight and I should have taken pictures. Chip did the cooking (his famous ribs-yum! and that Chocolate Bread Pudding with spiced whipped cream- double yum!) and we had a nice time. It has been a mellow couple of days around here (love that!) and I just kicked back with the kids (playdough all afternoon yesterday) and didn't even feel pressure to blog. I guess I do have a life outside of Nitty.Gritty.
Anyway, just had to remind [myself &] you that life passes us by. Enjoy the downtime. Enjoy the everyday. Tell someone you love them- for doing stuff that they do for you all the time. Sometimes those are the things we forget about. I love when Chip is home- to cook, to play with the kids, to help with the baths. He doesn't realize that it's a big deal to me and the kids. But it is. We like it when he's around. =)
So, basically I just wanted to say take pictures. Even if they aren't that spectacular or special. One day you will look back on them and thank yourself. Love your life this moment, because this moment will be gone in a minute. (I know...that's really profound!) Love someone and tell them so- just for being who they are to you in your life. You would miss them if they were gone. And then look at your own self (you don't have to literally look at yourself) and love who you are at this moment. And then seek to become even better somehow. There's always more to love.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cheap entertainment.

Being a stay-at-home Mom (I used to refer to myself as 'Stuck-at-home-Mom' because it was too much effort for me to strap 4 kids into carseats and then drag them anywhere in public by myself) means that I have had to be creative in life, besides through scrapbooking. I have gotten fairly good at 'games' and on-the-spot doodling on the shower doors to keep my girls happy while I clean up.
I recently found out that iDog (the dancing, musical, light-up pet that Bella got from Santa) does its best lights and motion dance when I vacuum nearby. I guess it has to do with rhythm and vibrations...which is not surprising, I guess. I mean, don't you all want to get down like Nia Peeple's Dance Party when you get out your Dirt Devil?! =)
Besides iDog's new moves, I also have been enjoying the 'telephone game'. Actually, the kids are getting a kick out of it, and I am hoping to make a point. Probably not my nicest side to show you, but here is the truth. Despite trying to call the number to be taken off the telemarketer's phone list, we get a number of unsolicited calls each week. Seriously, I have had 4-6 calls a day several times the past few weeks. I know they are telemarketers because they call me "Mrs." and they always butcher the last name. Otherwise they are asking for Chip by his 'real' name...and nobody calls him that.
So, when one of these calls comes in, occasionally I am pleasant and tell them I am not interested and then I hang up. However, when my kids are around, or beat me to the phone, I hand the receiver over and let them chat awhile. Bella is especially good at this. She will tell you all sorts of interesting details of her life, such as her favorite color, what she ate for lunch, what letter she wrote on her pages at school that day, a favorite knock-knock joke, that her sister is an angel in Heaven, or what the weather is like at that moment in time.
Ava is trying to keep up. She will jabber, but most of the time you would need an interpreter to figure out what it is she is saying. Wyndham holds the phone and smiles the whole time.
The real fun of the game is for me to check the little timer on the handset when the telemarketer finally hangs up. That's the thrill of the 'game' see how much of their time we can actually waste for them. Bella has the longest running time, which currently stands at 4:38. Not bad.
I'm really just a Mom who doesn't care to hear about how low of an interest rate you can get me if I refinance my home, nor do I need an estimate on new siding, windows, or a roof. But, if you still insist on calling my home, I hope you know that you are adding to the fun and games in my kids' life.
I know. I know. You should have guessed that I could put a spin on something as annoying as telemarketer calls, huh? I'm telling you...if you haven't gotten the message of my life yet, it should be crystal clear for you today. Yep. There is a silver lining to everything in life. Even if you have to create it yourself.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Something for everyone...

I don't want to overwhelm the non-scrappers here (Andy & Tom K.), but thought this one had a message for others out there today too.
It seems to me that it is such an easy thing to get overwhelmed with sadness and burdens and hurts in this world lately. Besides the news and the ongoing war issues, I read emails and blogs about people and the challenges (sometimes life-threatening) that face them from day to day. I hurt for what each of us has to endure...and if you haven't had to endure something difficult, let me warn you that there will come a time for you too. Life is like that. We all have moments and times where we walk through dark valleys and face uncertainties. There are different circumstances and different 'degrees' of darkness, but it's a fact of life that we all realize at some point.
I have learned to rely on faith and to trust not in myself, but in the future and the One who holds that in His hands. That is where my peace and contentment and joy in life come from- every single day.
This scrap page contains some very reflective journaling. It actually was easy to write when I stopped for a few minutes and really looked 'into' the picture. Teagan's life and death have touched my very core, and to this day, it affects how I live my life. I never would have dreamed that I could have peace in life after her death, but it has happened. I never would have believed life held the fullness that I have been feeling, and yet it does. Sometimes, as I've said before, I feel a bit guilty about this contentment, but last night I did some reading and the author had a good point.
It's not me. Anything 'good' in me is a result of nothing I have done...but is all because of God's grace. Totally humbling. To think that God loves me enough to take a mess of a life (that's me!) and pour out goodness and comfort and peace- well, that's enough for me to be 'filled' for the rest of my life. Totally undeserved. Totally beyond what I could imagine, and yet exactly what expresses the nature of God.
I love the fact that in sharing Teagan's picture and bits of how her life has changed mine, that God is clearly seen. Wow. That's what I think is amazing. He works through anything and everything...good and bad. What I hope through my life each day, is that others can see a bit of Him reflecting from me. Whether it is a scrap page, my response to clothes strewn all over the floor, my best moments and my worst. I can't say that I'm a perfect example all the time, but I do know from experience that there is someone in my life who is the perfect example, and He is worth trusting no matter what may come your way.
That's my 'scrap sermon' for today.
Here is the journaling from my page:
because of you...
I have laughed my loudest, cried my hardest and searched the deepest part of me. I have realized my weaknesses and discovered my strengths. I have shared my soul with others.
because of you...I have learned to live in the moment and appreciate the present. I have learned to be quiet and reflect on the past. I have gained new insights & sought new purpose in life. I have learned when to hold on and learned to let go. I have learned to embrace what I cannot see and I have deepened my faith in the future.
because of you...I am more grateful, more humble, more sensative and more forgiving. I am more open, more joyful, more confident and more hopeful. Although you only physically touched me for four short years, your spirit still inspires me each and every day.
Dear Teagan~
My life is enriched beyond measure...
because of you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My pink fridge.

I have been holding out on all you scrap-lurkers long enough. Here is the link to my layout gallery online:
I have been slowly adding most of my Creating Keepsake's Scrapbooker of the Year contest submission pages as well as comments on the inspiration behind the pages too. So, if you just can't wait to see them posted over time on my blog, go there...and I will keep adding to that gallery too.
This page came to mind after seeing Heidi Swapp's new pink fridge. I guess great minds think alike sometimes! {wink!}
Other than pink appliances and scrap-talk, I just have to add that I have been having a hard time falling asleep at night because of all the thoughts going through my head. Good stuff, mostly. Like how can I live life more fully. Am I already living life fully? How can I be a better in where should I start first. =) You see, I have this feeling of contentment and peace and it really has made me feel almost guilty a little bit. Somehow I feel like if my life is so wonderfully normal, that maybe I should be looking for something to push me in a new direction.
It should be scary, because I have learned in the past, that when I put my heart and willingness in life on the line-to be used in new ways- that often times it means getting hurt or having to walk a narrow path. But yet I keep feeling that this is exactly where I should be longing to be and is the very place I should be headed. Hmmm. Maybe it means I will start writing a book soon. Because I figure as soon as I start that, a whole new chapter is gonna open up in my life. And yes, the pun was intended.
Maybe it's just the New Year or something, but I'm wondering, is anyone else antsy to start the next chapter of your life? Feel free to comment. =)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nitty.Gritty. on tv...

We missed it. You, me and my biggest fan. {Sorry, Mom (& Dad)} But the good news is that it's going to be on again. Next month. February 18th to be exact- which is also Brock's birthday. Yep, another celebration for us around the corner.
Awhile back I casually blogged about tv cameras and producers in my home. Well, the piece that Chip and I were interviewed for aired on Sunday. We were a part of the season premiere for HealthCorner tv which is underwitten by Walgreens and is shown on Lifetime television.
Here is the link:
That will bring you to a page with some streaming video and a short summary of our segment. We were able to share our story of tragedy, forgiveness and how that has been a big part of our emotional healing the past few years. So, if you want to see and hear us at the same time...go check it out. And then set your Tivo for Feb. the 18th...check your local listings for times.
Chip will say that I, once again, was the family 'media-hound' and that I hogged the airtime. I say it's all in the editing- totally out of my hands. =)

Monday, January 08, 2007

In the back of my mind...

This post has the feel of a potluck with the photos pictured here. (You do know what a potluck is, don't you? Where everybody brings a dish to pass and when you go to eat at one, you're not really sure what you're going to end up with. That's a potluck. My brothers and sisters and I have been to lots of them- growing up as PK's. We sometimes coined them 'pot yuck'. Ahhh. Fond memories, indeed!)
Anyway, they do all have something in common and that is my the element of 'playing'. I caught Ava with her little ponies a couple of weeks ago. She has been getting so much better about imaginary play, rather than just banging toys together or making a mess with them. Then there is the one of the girls just after dinner one night last month. I finished clearing the table and wiping hands, and then we cranked some Christmas carols and had a music-fest. They are singing and jingling bells to the song 'Come on ring those bells' in this picture.
The previous photo is a layout I did using Fancy Pants products as I submitted this for their Design Team call. It simply says, 'The time for fun is now', and there are a few other quotes about playing on the strips to one side.
You see, in the back of my mind, I think the greatest fear of my life when it came to having kids was that I wouldn't 'do it right'. That somehow I wouldn't be good enough or be the best example or know how to direct their energies, or that I would, in the end, give my very best, and find that I failed even when I tried my hardest.
That's what was going on in my head for almost my entire pregnancy with Teagan. I dreaded taking her home and having to be responsible for how she would turn out- at least to some degree. To a big degree, it seemed at that time.
I am learning everyday from my kids and from living life and seeing other examples and making choices, that it IS a big responsibility. But it doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming. Not totally, anyway. It's still scary to know that there is such a strong influence to everyone of us from the media- tv, radio, images in mags and on billboards and products, and that what other people say or do can hurt or change our paths- even without the other person even realizing it necessarily. {Recall my post last Feb., I think, when I blogged about my English lit prof. that changed my heart and passion about writing for a LONG time...til I started this Nitty.Gritty. blog and decided not to let 'her voice' tell me my writing was inadequate any longer! Yay for listening to my own heart for once, huh?}
You see, I am learning everyday that the best thing I can do for my kids is to give them balance and opportunities and support and encouragement and love. Knowing that God is ultimately in control of all that happens helps to ease some of my fears as well. I am working on and have gotten much better in the past few years, about living intentionally and making choices everyday that will enhance life, rather then just allowing it to come at me and then me having to respond to it. I think that has made the difference in how I live and seek to raise my kids. I hope that I am being an example to them- that life is full of ups and downs, ins and outs, joy and sorrow, chance and circumstance. But in every situation, you can choose how to live in that moment.
I love when I have time to just enjoy life. To just see the beauty and goodness that exists. To watch the smiles on my kids faces, and know that I am doing my best. And even if it's not good enough all the time, my kids will know that I tried. I want them to know that I sought to give them the 'big picture'...a little bit of everything.
And that you always need to make sure you have some fun- you just never know when you might never get that chance again. Sort of like going to a potluck- lots of variety, you just never know what's in every dish.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A work in progress...

Here is the album I am keeping as I seek to learn and grow and live a life of sacrifice. Read the next post for all the details.

Focusing my thoughts-

I have not gone into a long list of resolutions for the year for a good reason. I don't make resolutions, nor stick to them. I have been like this almost my whole life; 'bucking the system'; trying to NOT fit in or go along with the crowd; doing my own thing.
Just ask Chip about me in highschool (even though he didn't know me then, he can tell you what I was like!)...I just have this thing about 'popular culture or going with the trends. I guess it's a part of my DNA more then anything. Remember that I'm a middle child my 'environment' has shaped me in many ways. This is no different.
The past couple of years as I have moved away from the deep sorrow and sadness and valley of grief in life, I have used the New Year to focus on a certain characteristic in my life that I would like to grow and/or strengthen. I have used the Bible as a key tool in developing these traits.
As 2007 approached, I spent time in prayer and study asking God to direct me as to what He would have me learn and I have finally focused my thoughts and ideas into something I felt would make some sense here on my blog.
So, once again, this is for me. My own Nitty.Gritty. take on New Year's resolutions. I am seeking daily to grow spiritually, as I feel that it is THE most important thing I can do in life. I try to weed out the things that 'take away' from my goal- which is to grow and become more and more like Christ, and one day spend all eternity in Heaven with Him. I am thankful for the New Year and the idea of a fresh start; a new beginning or a clean slate. Instead of creating a long list of things I want to change for this year, I am focusing on an idea. It's about personal enrichment really. I believe that growing spiritually will ultimately affect my mind and body too. I think they all tie into one another more than the general population realizes they do...and for me, the most importnant thing, as I already said, is my spiritual growth.
My thoughts and prayers and heart have directed me to a sort of challenging topic the last few weeks. It has to do with living life as a daily sacrifice. For me, it means sacrifice first to God, then family, then to others and finally to myself. See? I told you it's kind of a heavy topic. I'm not even sure I know what I am getting myself into, but I have been affirmed in seeking this in my life already. I have had daily readings and verses give me insights already.
Last evening after the kids had gone to bed, I went into my scrap room and started to make an album (8x8 for those of you who scrap) to hold some of my thoughts and to give me a tangible starting point and place to record my growth through this coming year...and probably beyond, as I believe this topic is one that will hopefully last my whole lifetime and become a part of who I am.
Anyway, as I started working on the first page, in the background the radio was playing and a song came on with lyrics about the Lamb of God and how He was the sacrifice for us. Then a few songs later came a worship tune about bringing the 'sacrifice of praise' to God. It was as if the playlist had been picked just for my time alone with my thoughts, my creativity and my heart to be blessed. It was beautiful. I went to bed with the start of an album that I'm not sure I even know what it will fill up with in the end, but my heart was full and my intents and goals seemed so clear. Lofty. {Me? Living a DAILY life of sacrifice...} I know I have been blessed many times over in my lifetime. I am embracing the idea of living and giving of myself whenever I can, in whatever way suits the person, place or situation best.
I'd love for any of you that come across books, songs, quotes, stories, whatever it may be, that in some way embody the idea of sacrificial living, to email me ( ) or leave me a comment here. That's one of the reasons I'm sharing my thoughts today- so that I can be encouraged or challenged by others. I am not a saint. I've said that before. =) I just know that there is a big gap between who I am, and who I was meant to be. I believe that focusing and making a meaningful attempt at spiritual growth can only bring me one step closer to being who I was designed to be. You can join me in this journey if you wish. I think there is something for all of us to learn. Today. Tomorrow and all through the year.

Friday, January 05, 2007

One more.

I tried. I gave my best effort and looked all through my hundreds and thousands of photos I have on file on my computer and yet failed to find one that I felt worthy of posting today. I could have posted one of my kids splashing in my inlaws pool this summer. Or of Bella getting ready to eat a piece of her Barbie cake. Or I could have picked one of my wedding photos...of Chip and I in the backyard garden, or just one of me in my gown. I could have shown you all the beautiful wrapped presents tucked under the tree a couple of weeks ago, or shown you the smiles on my kids faces while munching on snowmen marshmallows on-a-stick.
The lady responsible for pool and the garden and my wedding dress and yummy/pretty cakes and packages and treats?? My mother-in-law. Yes, today is Nitty.Gritty. mother-in-law's birthday! Love, hugs and kisses from Michigan...Happy birthday, Grandma Karen! She is the queen of sewing, gardening, making her grandkids happy and running the MN PTA board. =) Not to mention the Queen of shopping at Christmastime to make sure that everyone gets what they want.
I think next year we will get her a photo that I have a great picture to post on my blog! =) And that about wraps up our holiday/birthday celebrations. For about 6 weeks anyway!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Turning six.

Happy birthday, Wyndham! It was your best birthday yet...well, besides the day you were actually born. =)
Turning six was all about simple, goodness, happiness and fun. Oh yeah. And cupcakes. Actually it was mostly about the cupcakes; what is it with little airy, buttery, frosted, sprinkled cakes anyway?! I'm not sure, but they bring out the best in you and the rest of us. I think we will start making cupcakes at least once a week around here. That whole thing about licking the beaters can turn any day into a why not?
Oh yeah. Waistlines and hips and such.
Back to the birthday part of this post...
Wyndham woke to the excitement of Ava and Bella. They were singing to her the minute her feet touched the floor when she climbed out of bed. She knew something was up, and it was all about her, so she soaked it in. Every bit of it. She got to pick what show to watch on tv (Spongebob) and Bella told her how much she loved her, and at therapy she had a big 'birthday cookie', and she got four phonecalls...that's more than I get in a typical day!
Dinner out with the family and some little presents to open and of course, lots of pictures. It couldn't have turned out more perfectly. Here's wishing Wyndham many, many more- just like the one when she turned six! Love you, Abbers. ~Mom

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Still partying!

That's right! Our partying for the holidays lasts into the middle of this week. We celebrate Wyndham's birthday tomorrow! She is turning six. Wow. She's lived a lifetime already, and had more brushes with death than most 90 year olds.
This year we are lucky enough to have her healthy and able to party and celebrate her own birthday. She has been sick and unable to do so for four out of six of them...mostly because her birthday falls after the holidays when she is worn down and tired, and in the middle of flu season. Bad timing, I guess on the part of Chip and me.
So, we took the family to Chuck E. Cheese for some fun and games; (yes, that's Chip at Chuck E. Cheese playing an arcade game...what do you think golf pros do on their day's off?!) because you don't go to that place for the food. =) It's like bowling alley pizza...don't get me wrong. I love to go bowling- very retro, very fun. But the food...usually not stellar. Nachos are nachos and pizza is pizza...but I don't want to start any debates here. I'll get back to my subject.
Wyndham's birthday is a great day to celebrate, and yet once again it brings with it so many memories, so many thoughts and reflections. I wonder about the dreams I have had to change and adjust because of the extent of her injuries received in our tragic incident. I wonder how much she wishes things could be different...I wonder if she knows she's 'different'. {Just to add more understanding, Wyndham received a closed-head injury and has had two brain surgeries. She has had ongoing therapy (occupational, physical and speech) since August 2001. We don't have a definitive prognosis for her long-term recovery, as nobody that her doctors have treated had ever survived such extensive injuries. We basically are watching her grow and learn...and we keep pushing her as much as she will allow us to- which is a lot-more than I would tolerate if I were her, I think.}
So, Wyndham is our real-life miracle baby. In a different way than I feel our other kids are 'miracles'. She has had been airlifted twice and ambulanced three times to hospitals for medical issues. That was by age 3. You can imagine how much joy and happiness we feel to be able to mark another birthday- especially with her doing so well. She is excited about her birthday and the extra attention she has been getting from her siblings. Don't let her medical issues fool you.
This little girl knows more than you would imagine. Sometimes I think she thinks we're all the ones with 'issues'...especially her sisters and brother when they act up and goof off and get so loud and obnoxious at times. I think she thinks they need 'therapy'! =)
Truly. Her life has been an uphill challenge. I've begged God to spare her life while down on my knees, sobbing tears that I thought might never stop from the agony and pain I felt watching her suffer. Yet, I know she is a gift. A real-life gift from God, straight to our hearts and family. I have hugged and kissed her more in the past {almost} six years, simply because I have feared at times how many kisses I will actually get to give her through the years. I never take a minute of her in my life for granted. I am inspired by her life, her smile, her attitude, her spirit, her 'fight' and her easy-going personality every single day. Somedays when I look at her I think to myself, 'How did I get so lucky to go through life with a real-life angel in my midst'?
As many of you know, life isn't always a party for us. The Ferlaaks have had their share of heartache, hardships and struggles. But the best part is that we still party. I don't think we'll ever stop doing that!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Day one of '07.

I can't complain, really. The gingerbread village, on the other hand, saw it's final demise. The kids had their last hurrah with the houses, trees, church and 'Peeps' snowmen (those Peeps Gingerbread people were actually really good...cookie dough flavored!) and then it was time for me to take one last picture of our handiwork. =)
The carrot cake tasted even better the next day. Chip had a fairly full golf tourney event at the club today, so I didn't have to listen to a single Bowl Game in the background until after 6 pm. =) Just kidding...Chip has a great New Year's football story to share about us sometime. Maybe I'll let him guest-post this month.
There was even a little hugging and laughing going on at my house between my kids. Lots of mess-making and yelling when they weren't hugging and laughing, but still...
So, it's a New Year. A clean slate. A fresh start. I better go looking for some new Nitty.Gritty. interesting blog-reading to kick things off right! I hope to enjoy the adventure that 2007 all of us.