Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I'm sure I'll have lots of 'new' pictures to post soon. In the meantime, tell me what your favorite trick-or-treat candy is today. I'm never quite sure what mine is...but my top three would have to be Almond Joys, S'mores candy bar and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups {which just happens to be my dad's favorite!}. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall and fondue-

It's finally looking more like autumn around our place...the leaves have started to fall and I even heard their crunch and caught that unmistakeable 'scent' of fall as the leaves crushed beneath my feet. I love this time of year. I don't necessarily go all out with decorations and elaborate costumes for my kids, but I love the sounds and smells and flavors and colors all around. For sure.
Last night Chip and I enjoyed dinner out with our friends; we stuffed ourselves with great food at a wonderful fondue restaurant. Start to finish- from the melted cheeses and fruits and breads to the lobster and steak and veggies, to the fruits, cakes, marshamallows and chocoloate, it was a meal that would be hard to top.
I have had a few busy weeks and even if I hadn't earned this night out with my hubby and friends, it would have been wonderful just the same. But it seemed all the more sweet as a result of the crazy, full days we've been living.
Happy week of Halloween. Ours is off to a great start...chocolate and all. =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thinking about babies...

I know a few people who are expecting babies from December through April right now. I also received a box of unexpected products from a company called Tinkering Ink a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to put some of their stuff to good use. So I got to thinking about back to my own pregnancies and what I wish I had from them, and this is what I came up with...a fun, inspiration journal.
I covered a basic composition notebook with papers and stickers and cut-outs and titled it, "A Journey 2{to} You". My thoughts are that the expecting mother {or ideally, both parents!} could journal daily thoughts or make little notes about what was happening at life at that time as it pertains to the food cravings, emotional highs and lows {cause goodness knows I had those!!}, fun quotes or nursery rhymes and all sorts of things that go through a mom's mind as she gets closer to the due date each day.
In addition to journaling, I thought it would be a great place to glue down pictures or cards or tear things out of magazines and catalogs and add bits of memorabilia- even stapling fabric samples or clothing tags and receipts inside as well. Whatever is meaningful throughout the 9 months would be something worth keeping in this little book.
I have more of this album- the covers and embellished pages- in my SIS gallery if you click here. I have to say it is always fun for me to work on little projects like this, but I don't think I am up for having to go through another pregnancy at this point in my life. Just last night Chip and I got to bed by 9:30 and didn't get up til 6:45am. It felt good to get a long, uninterrupted night of sleep. I could use more of those...but normally it's my own fault for staying up too late. Still, I was thinking how nice it's been to not have those newborn baby nights in our lives for awhile now- I remember them all too well. I find I function much better on a full night sleep vs. the 2 hour stretches if-you're-lucky nights. =)
But I am wishing all our expecting friends (and bloggers if you're one of them!) all the best as you approach those sleepless nights. I have no doubt you are in for a special blessing in your life. =)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Her 'highs' are higher...

This is Wyndham as she appeared yesterday in one of her proudest moments ever. I have to admit I was equally, if not more, proud of her myself. This series of pictures shows her sitting, climbing and sliding on the arm of our couch.
My other kids have done it more times than I can count. Yesterday Wyndham climbed up on there all by herself, and at first just held her hands up and wiggled her fingers; she could see them in a mirror on the opposite wall of the room. She was fairly happy with that, and it was her laughter that drew me into the room in the first place. I was totally caught off-guard when I looked up and saw where she was and what she was laughing about- I never would have guessed she would be up to such antics.
My other kids are told to get "down from there" when I find them on the arms of the couches/chairs. But yesterday, for this moment, I just had to grab my camera. By the time I got back to take pictures, Wyndham was no longer just sitting and wiggling her fingers in the air at her reflection in the mirror, but she had {almost} held her breath and mustered enough courage and she was 'sliding down' onto two pillows and onto the couch cushion. It's about an 18 inch 'drop' to the seat...but her shrieks of laughter made it seem as though she was riding the world's biggest roller coaster! She was laughing so hard when she 'landed' that she had to stop and breathe 'on purpose'. It was literally magic to me to watch it all unfold.
She finally stopped laughing and turned and in a serious manner climbed back up onto the arm of the couch. It took some effort on her part. She sat there and bounced and then her laughter started to return and then after a couple of minutes she slid down onto the seat cushion once again. Her mood went from one of almost panic/fear to one of the most pure kinds of laughter that there is each time she climbed back up and slid back down.
I think she did it 7 or 8 times total. It was one of her shining moments in life; I must say.
Some of you are new readers, some of you just don't know the 'whole' story as I don't go into extensive details in regards to Wyndham's condition, but it is really the heart of the matter here today. It's hard to summarize her life in a single blogpost, but I'll try to at least bring some of you up to speed. At the time of our incident, Wyndham was just under 7 months old and she received a closed-head injury. (She is 6 and 3/4 now.) She was not expected to survive those injuries, but she did. She has had ongoing issues with gross motor, muscle tone, speech/language development and physical growth and thus has been in rehab and therapy since we took her home from the hospital originally in August 2001. It has been a constant part of our lives- we have logged more hours in doctor appts., in ER's, and in therapy sessions than I could begin to count. At age 2 Wyndham weighed 14 pounds. She gets a shot for growth everyday and likely will get them for the rest of her life. She sat up around age 2 1/2. At age 4 and 3/4 Wyndham hit a major milestone and began to learn how to walk. She went to preschool for two years and attends kindergarten with a personal assistant this year- she's in a 'regular' class and doing very well.
She has caught up in growth quite a bit in the past 2 years and 'looks like' a normal kid in class now. She comprehends fairly close to her age appropriate level. Meaning, when you tell her to do something, or when you ask her if she wants milk or juice, she understands. She can change the channel on tv and start a dvd if she wants. She can open the fridge door and she has likes and dislikes {her favorite color is orange}. =) In many ways she seems very 'normal'.
But on the otherhand, she has challenges in her life that other kids her age have never had to or ever will face. Things like aversions to certain textures or noises...things that make her feel 'threatened'- especially in new/different environments. We're still in the process of getting her potty-trained. Her greatest challenge at this point is her ability to speak.
While her comprehension is very good, her speech development presents at a 6 month old level right now. Although she has said a few words, that's just where she falls in the language assesment. She has gotten much more vocal and 'verbal' in the past few years, and she has been learning sign language as her means of communication. It has been something where we're not doing a formal program, but instead just learning signs that help her to make choices and give her the ability to express herself a little bit and also for the rest of us to be able to put words to the 'world around us' colors and animals and foods and the alphabet. That sort of thing. She has done really well with learning signs, but still, because of the type of brain trauma she received, her challenge is using them on her own. She makes progress each and every week, and has in the last year grown a lot with her ability to show you what she wants and to initiate signs or point to something she wants instead of always just waiting for us to ask her. We are waiting for a communication device which we are excited about. The hope is that it will give 'her a voice' and open up the communication both ways- especially when she is around people who don't know sign language.
I had gotten some emails and comments recently about Wyndham, and after this big event yesterday, of climbing on the couch and sliding down and the fun she had in that moment, I just felt it was the perfect time to let you into her 'world' a little bit more.
I never imagined my life with some of the challenges and issues we have gone through and continue to face each day, but I have to say that it has probably been one of the best things to happen in my life. Not that we have had to deal with pain and injuries and trauma, but for the fact that it put life in a new perspective for me. It has made be more patient and strong at the same time. It has shown me that there is SO much blessing in life when we just stop and pay attention.
My life was fairly easy and was whizzing by me in a blur before Teagan died. Now the little stuff has become some of the greatest highlights to date. I wrote in a journal shortly after our trauma that "life would forever be tainted for me" matter how great the day went. I just couldn't imagine seeing beauty or happiness ever again, without having tears and heartache rushing to the forefront of my mind because of Teagan's death and all that we would face in life as a result- most of the challenges would be physical and emotional injuries and scars.
But because of Wyndham and the triumphs she has made, I can honestly say that I no longer believe the words I wrote. Life can be and IS beautiful and graced with blessing and happiness even along the long, broken road that our family is on. I am amazed to have a 'front seat' at some of these events. I cooked dinner last night with a knot in my throat, not because this amazing moment was somehow 'tainted' by our tragedy...but rather because it would have been practically meaningless without it.
Teagan is my angel in Heaven as I go about my days...somewhere her spirit soars. But I have realized many times now, that Wyndham is equally an angel in my life...and her spirit soars too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I found this funny.

I asked Ava, "What do you want to do today?". She answered, "Color Easter eggs!". It's obvious to me, even at their young ages, that my kids will need some sort of therapy when they get older. =)
What are you doing for fun today?

Monday, October 22, 2007

To all my sushi-lovin' fans...

Just kidding. =)
In defense of my mom, she called me to tell me that she has tried sushi a couple of times. One of those was in Cancun- where I am fairly certain the sushi would be nice and fresh. She still didn't care for it. So I will give her credit for trying. =) We can't all love the same thing, otherwise the world would be a boring place, right?!
Speaking of trying...
My friend, Tom, keeps a blog and has a not-to-miss post on his site, "Patterns of Ink". He has a couple of video links within the post that I encourage you to check out- roughly 4 or 5 minutes long- but so worth your time. Feel free to leave him some feedback too. He even comments on your comments. =) Seriously. You will want to check out this post..."I needed this today". I loved it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A short letter to my mom...

Dear Mom,
I had sushi tonight. It was delicious...especially the spicy tuna with wasabi.
You would have loved it if you would ever try it.
Sometimes I feel bad because you have no idea how great it is and you just keep missing out!
My wish for you is that you will someday try sushi and love it.
In the meantime, feel free to read the book Green Eggs and Ham by Dr.Suess. =)
Love you~ Jody

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm the "crazy lady" to some.

Yesterday I mowed the lawn while my kids played on their bikes and did chalk drawings on the driveway. Tonight we have tornado watches and thunderstorm warnings. Funny how things in life can change so quickly sometimes.
Even more than just the weather. I am learning that I am more like my kids than I think sometimes. I'm not good with change.
I like predictable, routine, don't-try-to-tell-me-differently-I-like-things-this-way, kind of person. I will probably drive Chip nuts as we age. I don't know.
This is a random post, but my mind has just been spinning all week, and thus I haven't posted much. I haven't even taken pictures- except for a few this afternoon. Just because.
Maybe it's the leaves turning colors...the sign of winter yet to come.
I don't know. I really like the green grass and the smell of it as I cut it. And the kids playing outside in the sun. And happiness was eating pizza out of the box outside.
I've been thinking about the past and the future more than normal. Maybe that's it. I have no words of photos of my kids doing crazy recipes for hotdish or cupcakes. =) I'm in need of a good 'fill'. If you have some fun blog topics you'd like to hear me talk about, please feel free to ask me or point me in a direction in the comments here.
I forgot to mention the highlight of my day on Sunday was riding the cart with my groceries to my van. Besides church, of course. =) Seriously. This know I ride my cart for the thrill of it- just because I can and why should I waste an opportunity to make one of my least favorite tasks of grocery shopping more fun?! Right?! As I rode my cart, a 30-something guy was following a bit behind me. I had no idea he was the guy parked right next to me. He was watching me a long way. We both loaded our groceries into our vehicles, and it was such a warm, sunny day that I rode my cart all the way back to the front door. As I got back to my van, this guy was saying to the grocery cart kid {you know the kid who has that machine that drives all the carts back inside the store}, "I have never seen someone have that much fun in a grocery store parking lot before". He actually smiled at me. But inside I know he just plain thought I was crazy.
So there you go. You read that crazy lady's blog. Hope that makes your day today. =)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The reality is...

I have lost much in life. I have learned to live a life in spite of pain and heartache. But the reality is that I have an amazing, simple life regardless of my past. I see myself as blessed. I live a full life. I have everything I need and more. I am happy and content at this moment. It hit me in a big way this morning. My heart is heavy for a lot of people in my life and the struggles they face each day- some with money and jobs, some with marriages and family, and some with their health or pain of grief.
I am seeing more and more that I have a really great life. Not without scars and not without challenges. But each day I wake and thank God for the blessings and mercy He has shown me. I am learning that life isn't about what we get...but about how we learn to appreciate what we've been given.
That is the lesson I am learning to love more and more as time goes on. This ties in a little bit to the challenge I have posted over at SIStv this week. You can scrap a layout and post a link on the website and be given a chance to win some great prizes. The layout I scrapped is one of my favorite pictures of Teagan- ever. She was so carefree- so happy that Fourth of July- just a couple of weeks before she died. We had no idea what lay just ahead of her- or us. Our lives were really blessed in that moment...and I was happy that we were enjoying our time together as a family. It was a rare thing for us to do so on a holiday in the summer. Golf is a demanding, busy job in the summer.
But that year, Chip had part of the day off. So we went to Mackinaw and spent the day with friends and watched the fireworks. I do recall feeling really good about how things were going in our lives, I was thankful for freedom, and I loved that our kids were growing and so happy almost all the time. Teagan was so into giving hugs around the neck and pouring on the love and kisses really thick.
It still makes me catch my breath that it was all taken away so suddenly- so senselessly- so randomly. Yet here we are- years later- and Teagan is still a part of my memories and the cause for a lot of smiles in my life. I love that my girls are still wearing some of her hand-me-downs and that her pictures are still around the house and little memories- her toys, her books, her dolls- are still getting under my feet and a part of the mess that is much of our house all the time. =)
She's here- in our hearts and lives forever. We will never forget her or 'get over her'. Yet where there once was a huge hole in our hearts, it has been filled with goodness, blessing and Joy. Yes. I may not have the best life, the easiest life, the most glamorous life. But I have peace and contentment and Hope and Joy. I have more than I deserve...and everything I need.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Buttercream and other sweet stuff.

I've done a bit of scrapping and for me I try to keep it about fun and memories and hopes and reality and mostly about capturing moments. The owl is just for fun. I like them lately. Life to me is about living in the moment, learning from and appreciating the past and how it shapes us, and also about looking forward to the future and all it holds for each of us. I am also a realist. I know life isn't all glamorous and good. But I try not to let that jade my thinking...and so that is a bit of the thoughts behind my layout here of Bella.

Just before kindergarten started this year, she was excited and definitely ready for school to start. As we drove home from picking Wyndham up from therapy one afternoon, she and I had the following conversation...

Bella: I know lots of opposites; wanna hear them?

Me: Okay.

She went through a long list of opposites- short, tall; open, shut, etc. but when she said "hugs" I have to admit my first thought was she would say "hitting". Instead she said "kisses". When we got home I jotted down the conversation and added my thoughts. It was those notes to myself that inspired the journaling and the page I just scrapped. {You can click here to see it in my SIS gallery.}

There is so much 'junk' in the world and stuff that comes at us and threatens to drag us down. I know it happens and there is no way to avoid it all. But I am on a mission to do the best I can and especially when it comes to my kids, I am happy to know that there is innocence and goodness and love in their lives. I don't load them up on buttercream all the time...hugs and kisses are sweeter. I know that. I also know that moderation is the key in almost everything in life. Except maybe hugs and kisses and owls. So far I haven't found that there can be too much of them. And the reality is we all need doses of 'good stuff' to help off-set the bad that comes at us all the time. I know that full well. Here's wishing you sweet spots in your life too.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I blog too much. This is post 599.

I really don't think I have that many important things to say. But I have to say it is fun for me to document the everyday stuff and to be able to look back and see themes and good times and bad times and how it all ties together to create my story.
I'm still trying to figure out why several of you stop by here each week. I have gained some friendships from blogging and have had some unique opportunities come my way. But still, I know there are people who just read and never comment...many who probably don't understand or share much in common with me at all. Yet you come back time after time. I find it interesting...and honestly I have prayed for some of you. Because I believe that stuff happens for a reason. I believe in coincidence too, but sometimes I like to think that there is more of a purpose for people's lives crossing paths than we sometimes give credit for. And so I am letting the people who read this and really aren't sure why they do, know that I am glad you find something worthwhile to come back for...and I am happy that some of you come out and leave me comments or email me and share your own stories. It really affirms to me that blogging can have meaning and purpose beyond just recording details of our lives. It really can change them along the way too.
On that note I am leaving you with a poem I read in my quiet time this morning. There is pressure being a parent and a lot of you know that. It is one of the questions I asked myself before taking on the job teaching high school yearbook. I really don't feel I am qualified to do some of the things I am asked or 'required of' in my life from day to day. This poem just spoke volumes to me. It ties in so neatly with what's been on my heart and mind- on and off my blog.

The Teacher
Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day,
So prone myself to go astray?

I teach them knowledge, but I know
How faint they flicker, and how low
The candles of my knowledge glow.

I teach them power to will and do,
But only now to learn anew
My own great weakness through and through.

I teach them love for all humankind
And all God's creatures, but I find
My love comes lagging far behind.

Lord, if their guide I still must be,
O let the little children see
The teacher leaning hard on Thee.
~By Leslie Pinckney Hill

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Attitude is key.

I've been working on striking a balance between school, home, free time, chores and trying to figure out what is or isn't a priority in my life and that of my family. You may remember I had a day or two not long ago, where I just couldn't shake my bad attitude. Nothing was 'wrong' necessarily, but my heart was heavy and it showed itself in the way I spoke and my whole demeanor was 'off'. The kids could tell; they sensed it right away. Chip knew I wasn't my usual self and he didn't quite know how to respond or what to do to 'change me back'.
There wasn't a radical moment or some big event or zap of energy or anything noticiable. But truly I have sensed a small transformation within...and hopefully it has carried over to the outside of me as well. I think we all go through times like this in our lives. Whether it is a change of seasons, a change of jobs, a change within our family dynamics, financial or healthwise or any number of things can trigger a change in attitude. What I love though, is that it comes down to choice. We have a choice- no matter our circumstances- in how we respond to what happens or what doesn't happen in our lives.
I took my 'bad attitude' seriously and that meant I spent time praying about it and I asked for God's guidance and direction and for strength to not let it consume me. As you may know, I pray everyday. Sometimes it seems as though I find myself praying almost the whole day long. It has been that way since Teagan died. I considered myself 'religious' and felt I had a strong faith prior to her death, but found myself literally unable to move or see beyond my grief and so I turned to God as my source of strength. I have leaned on my faith every single day...and sometimes I have found I have to take life moment by moment- or I am overwhelmed. The crabbiness that came to the surface is something I don't struggle with very often- and I truly believe it's because God listens to my prayers- or my burdens seem lighter simply because I 'give them to God' and trust Him to provide for what I feel I cannot handle. That is what gives me peace and Joy and freedom to seek happiness in life. But it's not always easy, and I am human and sometimes I just feel like God doesn't need to be bothered by me and my little problems, so I take them on myself or begin to let them eat at me.
I love that I am getting wiser and better about stopping the 'bad' before it gets too big and out of control. I asked God, specifically, to help me know where I need to be I asked for wisdom to know what I needed to be doing. Life is so full and so busy that it is easy to get bogged down with too many things and too little time.
That's been part of my struggle. It's just hard to know how to best use my time and to feel like I am able to be the best wife and mom- first and foremost- and to let the rest of my life line up with that. Kids and clutter have a way of making me feel like I am mediocre, most of the time, at best. Add to that trying to balance 'work and play' and that is where my heart was spiraling down. I was torn as to 1)how to be my best...and 2)what does my best mean at this point in my life.
Anyway, all that to say that God has been so real to me in some small ways over the past several days. I just want to encourage others who may be struggling with whatever is on your plate or threatening to overwhelm you in your own life. God is not calling any of us to be superheroes. I think He wants us to recognize our weaknesses sometimes. I have felt Him showing me that He wants me to just be my best and to respond to the things that come my way- not by doing it all on my own but- by handing my fears, my worries and my inabilities to Him. He is showing me that I am nothing on my own...but that is the very place I find the greatest sense of peace and accomplishment. By recognizing it is God in me- God through me, I see that I CAN be my best me and that doesn't mean my life will be perfect, but that it will be lined up according to His purpose and design.
I am always amazed, (although I shouldn't be) that God speaks to me and makes Himself known to me at times when I am desperate for answers. I let my head spin with questions and with scenarios until I finally say, "Okay God. What do you want me to do with this?" and it never fails that God 'shows up'- whether through song lyrics, Bible verses, wisdom from a friend or even strangers. When that happens I just have learned to pause and to thank Him for even caring about me. It is humbling. But I find that the more I grow in my own spirituality, the more I recognize my need and it only displays God's greatness to me all the more.
I was wrestling with how scrapbooking plays into my life at this time. I am not ready to cut it out of my life, but felt that maybe it was an area of my life that needed to be considered. Last night I was able to spend some time in my scrap space. I was prepared to do some 'creating and some thinking', but flipped on the radio thinking the music would be a good back drop for my thoughts. Instead, a message that I drew me in and I ended up scrapping all the while my heart was worshipping and praising God. It just affirmed to me that no matter what we do or how we do it, it can be an act of worship to God.
One of the quotes from the message I heard struck me. I wrote it down to add to my new inspirational quotes journal. It says,
"Greatness comes not in vast, miraculous actions, but in daily positive attitudes". I loved that because I have been on a journey of learning that truth for several years now. My life has been a challenge, but with each day- each moment- I have sought to accept a positive outlook and to seek Joy. Even though I have 'failed often or been brought to my knees at times' I see that there is something bigger and better than me because of it. And it's true-not just for me and my family- but for anyone that chooses to overcome. God is the source, I believe, and the Hope of overcoming the impossible in this world. I love that I don't have to even have great strength or great faith. But by simply handing Him my brokeness and trusting Him for guidance and healing and Joy- He can bring it to pass. Or at the very least, I am learning that He gives my heart a right attitude. Which really does make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sharing my heart...

I grew up learning and singing and loving music and songs- especially those that seemed to say what my heart couldn't express on its own. Today, during my morning quiet time and devotion several songs came to mind as they often do. It happens to me throughout my days and weeks; today I decided to share the words of the song that keeps playing over in my heart and mind today. Maybe someone else needs to be blessed through them. That is why I blog sometimes- to share the overflow of the blessings of my heart.
Thank you Lord, for all that you have done for me though I deserve nothing. Thank you for your love, your grace, your mercy, your discipline, your gift of salvation and the assurance I have and the Hope I claim. You came to this earth; you took on the form of man and became sin for me so that I might be redeemed through the blood You shed on the cross. For this- the cleansing, the redeeming and the freedom in which I now live I long to give my life back to you fully. In all I say and do may I give glory to You...the One whom my heart loves. Amen.

This is my heart's cry old hymn written by Philip P. Bliss
I will sing of my Redeemer, And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered, From the curse to set me free.
Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,With His blood, He purchased me.

On the cross, He sealed my pardon;
Paid the debt, and made me free.
I will tell the wondrous story, How my lost estate to save,

In His boundless love and mercy, He the ransom freely gave.
I will praise my dear Redeemer, His triumphant power I’ll tell,

How the victory He giveth, Over sin, and death, and hell.
I will sing of my Redeemer, And His heav’nly love to me;

He from death to life hath brought me, Son of God with Him to be.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Colorful scrappy stuff.

Just thought I'd share a few pics of the 'special project' I did with the kindergarten class last week. This was the sample I made...but I have to tell you some of the kids blew mine away! =) I especially loved the rainbow made solely of pinks and purples. I love that kids at that young age will simply make whatever is on their mind or makes them happy.
That's how I tried to scrap my latest page that you can view here. It really was a fun, quick page that I threw together without much thought except to scrap stuff I love. I find it's a really good thing to not overthink my scrapping and in so doing take the fun out of it. That's why I thought I'd temper my previous post with a lighter, more colorful one. =) I'm all about balance. At least when it's possible. As for mixing fun and this link to see some of the most amazing 3-D chalk art I've ever seen. Now that's what I call fun art!

I'm trying to get it...even in my thirties.

I am thinking 'outloud' again. I often wonder why it is so hard for truth and reality to sink in to my mind and on the flip-side why it seems easy for 'untruths' to sink into my life. Maybe you don't struggle the way I do with so many different issues, but it has sort of hit me between the eyes the past few years.
I personally have found that I literally have to 'speak truth' to myself over and over again in regards to certain things in my life. It makes me frustrated sometimes that I have these struggles. One of the big ones seems to be with body image- my mind vs. reality. Maybe it is more pronounced as I am 'back in highschool' and I see myself in some of the students I pass in the hallways and it brings back memories of my own years growing up and what I thought about myself then and now. I really struggled in school- the tension between wanting to 'fit in' yet never feeling like I belonged. It was a big deal to me for a long time.
The thing that bugs me is how much I find it is still an underlying issue in my life. Does it bother anyone else out in the 'real world' that we put so much emphasis on size/looks in our culture? I'm not saying I have some obsession with my looks and my self-image, but it has hit me that it is even a concern of mine. It bothers me that I have to tell myself that it's okay to be the size I am...that I can accept myself for the size 8 jeans I wear. It bothers me to know that my purchases at the Gap Outlet a week ago were XS shirts and I still look in the mirror and sometimes wish I looked differently.
It bothers me that I don't watch TV; I don't read popular magazines about fashion and 'beauty' nor do I have 'pressure' in my life to live up to some unrealistic expectations like some people do in life. Yet I still have to tell myself that I am okay just the way I am. It's scary to me, I guess, when I look at my kids- especially my 3 girls, and I think of what sort of 'battles' they will face when it comes to their own minds and bodies versus 'reality'. I grew up knowing I was loved and accepted no matter how I looked or how good I did at anything I tried to do. From piano playing to soccer to art to math or anything. I knew I was loved the same regardless of my performances or the outcome. Yet I still struggled with who I was and feel sad to see that our culture still spends so much time, money and focus on this sort of stuff...'convincing' us through advertising and through media and magazines and music. The messages are almost always telling us that we're not 'good enough' unless we have a certain product, wear a certain piece of clothing, weigh a certain weight, drive a certain can get overwhelming!
I have really seen a lot of changes in myself and my happiness and my contentment level the more I line up 'what's real in my life' in accordance with the Truth that I seek to grow and understand in my life everyday. It IS a struggle and a battle, isn't it?
I mean I can't be the only one who feels like I never measure up- no matter if it's in regards to wealth, looks, possesions, success, any number of things. I just know that with each passing day it seems to me that life isn't what the mainstream media is trying to sell me or convince me of. The more I look to God for His plan and truth in life the more I see it is almost always totally opposite of what the world tells me. I know some of you must feel a tension in your own life. I know it's not possible to shield ourselves from the world. But I am learning that it is a choice to meditate and to practice being content with who I am everyday.
One of my favorite meditations is this,
"Do not conform to this world....but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." {Rom. 12:2} It is something I am beginning to be passionate about in my life and in the lives of my kids. I want them to know that they are individuals who are loved and accepted and that there ARE guidelines and certainly expectations in life- but that ultimately who they are and who they become is more a matter of the heart and mind than it is about their bodies and their material possesions. I hope they are somehow able to tune out the pressures and the unrealistic/untrue messages of the world sooner, rather than later.
I am finding life to be too short to get hung up on the things that are out of my control, or that seek to bring me down. There are things I can do to cultivate the best parts of me and the people I love around me. It's not always easy...but I have to believe we are better for caring about our insides first. The more I do that, the more I see things fall into place. Maybe clothing should have shapes or colors on their tags instead of numbers. I don't know, but it seems to me people of all ages and sizes would be happier in the long run. And happiness would spill over into other parts of life. Maybe this post makes no sense. But I feel better about myself just knowing that size and money and things don't determine who I am or who I can become. That thought makes me happy...and that's the truth. =)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Music to my ears...

We had our regular school day today...PE, special art project, snack time, phonics lesson, pizza for lunch, recess, more seatwork and then finally time to head home. A long week when you have full-day kindergarten for three days and rehab/therapy sessions on the remaining days. We came home for snack and rest time. Then played outside (mid 80's today!), dinner, more playtime and then baths.
I wrapped Wyndham in a towel and sat her up on the counter so we could smile at ourselves in the mirror and brush teeth. She was glowing...we rubbed noses and signed 'I love you' and laughed at ourselves in the mirror another time or two.
Then I mouthed the word 'momma' and asked her to "use your words...say 'momma' ", I said. She smiled at me and said, "momma". Clear as day. My heart leaped...I was grinning and signing happy! "You just said 'momma' Wyndham! You did it!", I exclaimed, "say it again"! She smiled back at me and said in a more quiet, higher tone, "momma". This time I held back the tears. My heart was in my throat...and it felt amazing. So I pushed it and said, "Wyndham, you just said 'momma' with your words. I am so proud of you! Can you say 'momma' one more time?" and I signed the word "more".
She said "momma" three times in a row tonight. I may never hear it again...or maybe not for months...or maybe I will hear it tomorrow. I don't know...and I don't know who was happier to hear it- me or her. =)
Another ordinary day turned extraordinary. Just the way I like our days to go around here. The simplest things make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Where do the weeks go??

I do not recall that my school days flew by so quickly when I was a student in school. I guess perspective does change the way time feels. I always thought it took forever to go from Monday to Friday. Now I see it just whizzes by and I barely feel like it should be Wednesday...yet here it is nearly Friday!
We had another busy week at our house. Lots of the usual, classes, therapy, magazine sales, a field trip to an apple orchard (which yielded a delicious apple crisp this afternoon...yum! I love it warm with cream poured over the top...the kids had Reddi-whip on theirs), art projects, scrapping and reading new library books. There really is never a dull moment around here. In fact I am trying to figure out where I can squeeze a few 'dull moments' back into my schedule. I had no idea how much I really crave down time until it was gone. And so it goes. =)
The scrap stuff you see here is the new product designed by Kristina Contes for the Scrap In Style October Collection. I was so happy to get these items in my mail this week...the colors and papers are some of my favorites! I have played a little bit with some of the items already. I will be part of a weeklong challenge in the next couple of weeks as SIS Boutique continues their month-long celebration for their grand opening. I will post a link to my challenge and layout as soon as it's up. Fun stuff and lots of great prizes for those of you who choose to play along. If you've never scrapped before, now is the perfect time to try it out!
Thanks for so many great quotes in the last post. I've decided to create a little 'quote inspiration' book, and I plan to fill it up with lots of words of wisdom. So, whenever you come upon a great quote, feel free to leave it in my comments or send me an email. I will add it to my book! Now, if I could just figure out how to add minutes to my day... =).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Simple truths...

"All change begins with thinking."
I heard this quote today (in regards to personal enrichment/spiritual growth) and just wanted it to sink in a little bit more. I love when truth is so simple. I'm just trying to figure out why it can be so hard sometimes.
Here's one more that I heard a couple of days ago. Yet true none-the-less.
"There is no such thing as a happy selfish person."
Think about that.
Then leave me any great quotes or profound statements you've heard recently. I love a good, thoughtful quote. It may even end up on a scrap page. I've got a little idea spinning in my head. One of these days my great ideas are gonna make it from there to the page. =)

Monday, October 01, 2007

How I spent my 'day off''...

Now is the perfect time for you to get in on some fun of your own over at the Scrap In Style TV website. Jeanette has just opened a ScrapInStyle Boutique and has a whole lot of fun and games and sales and challenges going on over there. I am so happy that I made the decision to find out what scrapping is all about. This part of my life is what brings me a lot of happiness and it has been the perfect 'release' for me from my 'regular routine' in life.
On Saturday, a group of us who knew each other through the SIS message boards and some of us who met for the first time ever, spent the day together. It blows me away that we had instant friendships blossom through something as crazy as scrapping. Throw in some food, feet photos, jumping around between layouts and a few goodies like paint, glitter, cupcakes, inside jokes, owls, good coffee and some glue dots, and you basically have a recipe for 'my perfect stress-free day'. =)
I can't tell you enough how good it feels- even if it meant waking early and getting to bed late and coming home to extra loads of laundry to get caught up on- to have some refreshing, relaxing free time. I really think that everyone in life needs some sort of outlet. Whether it is their own time reading books at local bookstore or library, window shopping, bike riding through your neighborhood and spying deer and fox, going to an NFL game, drawing, playing an instrument, baking or sewing, sitting on the beach or hiking through the mountains, I think it was all a part of God's design. It is good for people to 'play' and be creative and/or commune with nature or just be. I find it truly restores and revives one's soul to tap into that part of you that so often gets the back seat to the busy lifestyles so many of us lead.
I am happy to be connecting with new friends, while at the same time getting more in touch with my own source of happiness. It's a good thing. Even if it does mean paying for it with extra laundry in the end.
As for that Redi-whip poll in the upper-left corner of my's just my Nitty.Gritty. gig-of-the-week. Meijer has the cans priced "buy one, get one free" this week. I had no idea corporate America was so in touch with creating happiness in their customers, but they nailed it for me and my family this week. =) Let's just say this...the cans are 'good through Feb. 20, '08'. I think I bought enough whipped cream to keep us happy through mid-December. And to all my local apologies to you if your favorite flavor is extra-creamy. I cleared out the shelf for now. If Meijer really cares about your happiness, I would assume they will be restocking before the end of this week. =)
Really. Life is good when you can see it through eyes that seek simple pleasures...and a heart that is in tune with what you were created for...and for whom you were created. I love it when life is in tune.