Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just because...

Recently someone commented that I have a 'woe is me' attititude and always see the dark side in life and share it too often on my blog. My husband on the otherhand tells me that I don't keep it real here often enough...he thinks I tend to 'gloss things' over sometimes. I have to admit I'm not sure why I even blog anymore, except that I love to write, I love to share stories and pictures, and also I know that some of my family keep up with me this way- even though they never comment. { Hi Aunt Betty in Canada and Cousin Dan in Iowa and others of you too! =) }
I have never forced anyone to read my blog, nor have I ever coerced anyone into believing what I do, or even liking the things I like. I just put part of me out there and let you do with my thoughts/insights/stories whatever you like.
I guess I write all that as a sort of disclaimer- although I don't really get why anyone would have to add a disclaimer to their blog. A blog is just that. For me, I just feel like we have so much to learn from each other and I appreciate the wonderful friendships I have made as a result of keeping a blog and connecting through others' blogs. I don't ever feel it is my place to tell someone what to write or what not to write on their blog. I never feel pressure to agree with someone else's opinions or buy the items linked in their posts, nor do I feel it is my place to judge how they share their ideas.
It's a shame when there is a disrespect for people in this world for ANY reason...but to me it is even more shameful when people disrespect others anonymously or in a negative manner that serves only to bring others down.
But that's the way our society seems to be going- whether in the political arena, in the entertainment world, or even between genders, religious beliefs, social classes or different age groups. Today I fully meant for this blogpost to be a really short, "This is what made me happy today", but instead I've somehow turned it into a mini sermon. I want to challenge you to do your part to make this world a better place today and everyday- to stand up for injustice, to put a stop to gossip, to encourage rather than tear down, or even to step out of your comfort zone and seek- if even for a few hours- to see the world through someone else's eyes. Maybe that means you will volunteer at a food pantry, or get involved with a summer youth program. I don't know what would stretch you the most, but I have to admit I feel like we get comfortable and need to be pushed to 'be better' than we are at times.
And now,
for the lighthearted post I intended...
Here's a list of some of the simple things that made me happy today-
~Getting my grocery shopping done by 9:30 am...
~Enjoying a Starbuck's latte AND a having my hair cut on the same day...
~Feeling baby movements during the entire hair appointment and part of the drive home...
~Eating fresh strawberries with my kids and watching the juice drip down their chins...
~Hearing Bella tell me "I have 1000 kisses for you" ...{she used up 5 right then} =)
~Watching Wyndham walk down the grassy hillside of our home that just last summer made her so afraid...and realizing it was not too many years ago that she couldn't walk at all
~Having Brock apologize for coming home 'late' from playing with the neighbor kids, but promising me "it will never happen again, and I love you so much!" (even if it was so he could still get icecream for bedtime snack...
~Skipping doing the laundry and not feeling guilty about it...
~A kiss, a nose-rub AND a hug from Ava before she got tucked into bed...
~Listening to music which reminds me that even if I had 'nothing' in this world, because of Christ in my life and what He has done for me, I have everything and then some- I have blessings where I deserve nothing.
That's God's mercy and grace.
Just because.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Butterflies and scrap goodness...

I'm back- wow, two posts in one day. =) I love it when that happens. Well, I actually love it when that happens and nothing else in my life has had to 'suffer' as a result. Laundry is done, kids were bathed and they're all tucked in and sleeping right now. We even had Oreo ice cream cones this afternoon and I baked muffins to go along with dinner. So I feel justified in posting again here.
Even though I don't really need to justify blogging to anyone...I just feel better myself.
{ It must be the pregnancy...I feel like I have to account for squeezing things into my life right now, and I'm also trying to let go and get out of a few committments. So this is all just part of my thinking process. The old ongoing question...should I keep blogging or not? For now I'm going to keep at it. Hope you don't mind. Thanks for listening to all this self-talk. =) }
Butterflies are all over these days- in textiles from bedding to clothing to paper goods. I really love the simple shape. Butterflies always make me think of Teagan too...she loved them and her last birthday cake was even in the shape of a butterfly at her request. The past few days I've had lots of 'butterflies' in my stomach too as this baby just seems to be moving and active so much of both the day and night.
So how fun for me to get the new Scrap In Style Trendsetter Collection and have it be full of butterfly goodness. I was able to make one mini album so far- you can see it in full here...and if you want to get your hands on the Collection itself, it went on sale in the SIS Boutique here today.
Those little colored butterfly notecards I just had to have after I spotted them at Barnes & Noble while we were on our date yesterday. I always have someone I need to send a note to...and these just seemed the perfect way to say so much. Anything really. From "I'm thinking of you", to "My heart hurts for you" to "Let's grab a Starbuck's soon!"...these cards pretty much cover it all in my opinion.
And now, just for fun, why not leave me a comment telling me what simple thing you love about nature, and by Thursday I'll pick a name and send one of you a card in the mail. "Just for fun...just for reading Nitty.Gritty." Ciao for now!

The other 'man' in my life...

I love my son Brock. I don't think kids know their own 'greatness' sometimes, and he certainly falls into this category. Those top two photos are for the grandmas who read my blog. He is so proud of his developing abilities in the game of lacrosse, but most other sports he struggles to fit in and compete. I keep trying to tell him {and Chip does too} that you can't be good at everything, but that the main thing, no matter what you are doing or trying to learn, is to always give it your best effort. That way even if you 'fail', you can be confident that you did all you could.
It's a lesson I'm still learning in my own life sometimes, but true in all our lives.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to take Brock out on a 'date'. He won a giftcard at school the other week for a local store. Any guesses to where we went?
Barnes & Noble.
He absolutely LOVED it there! I lost him a few times because he just went from section to section totally enthralled at every new topic he came upon and he just couldn't get enough of it. I had expected him to be excited to pick out a book or two with his card, but figured once he'd made his selection he would be just as happy to head to the checkout and leave for someplace more 'fun'.
We ended up spending a little over two hours there, browsing books and discussing what was so great about different subjects and authors' styles and he especially loves history and nonfiction- but also really loves the classics in the 7-12 age range right now. He finally chose a book, and had a couple of dollars left on his card, and it just made me love him more when he said, "Let's go find a book that the girls will love and bring it home to'll make them so happy".
It honestly was the best 2 hours I've spent with him in a long time. No demands, no interruptions, no agenda...just us, time and a really rich environment for conversation and fun mix of topics. When we left he said it's his new favorite place and he plans to ask for Barnes & Noble giftcards for birthdays and Christmas from here on out. =)
I know it's hard to make 'time' for all my kids individually, but after hearing about so many of your childhood memories a few posts back, it made me see that it's not the 'big, spendy events/trips/gifts' that make the greatest impacts in someone's life, but rather the time spent with someone, sharing life/something they love. I was also surprised at how many peoples' fondest memories from childhood involved their grandparents...and hopefully my kids will grow up knowing how much they are loved by their grandparents even though our visits are too far and few at this time in their lives.
I just wanted to share all this because 1) it was such a wonderful, simple date and 2) to remind myself {and any of you} that time matters more than things. Sometimes our advertising-infused culture drowns out this message and we really need to hear it and remember it each day. I hope I can be a good influence in all my kids lives- to help weed out the junk and help grow them into the truly 'great people' they have the potential to be!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

17 weeks, 5 days.

If you've got an answer to this perplexing question, I'd love to hear it... hmmmm.
I'm wondering why 10 pounds can feel so big and heavy when I carry it in the form of a growing baby inside me, but when I carry a piece of 10-pound luggage at the airport it feels as if I'm hardly carrying a thing?
Just my thoughts for today.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I promise I don't make this stuff up.

When I was a kid I would listen to my mom tell us things from her life as a kid or about us when we were younger and sometimes it just seemed so outrageous that we would accuse her of 'making it up' or embellishing it. She always assured us that she was telling the truth and the fact is she really DID have alot of unusual things happen along the way. She still has crazy things happen from time to time. But now I know to just believe her.
In my own life it seems like things happen to me or in our family that are rare or 'non-occurances' in other peoples' lives. I don't know why that is, but this is one of those things I decided I had to blog about, because likely it will be something I look back on and laugh about. But at the time, it was no laughing matter.
Some of you know I have been a little more 'stressed' than usual the past month or so. Others I have emailed or talked to in person and asked for prayers as I waited for some test results to come back in regards to my pregnancy. Thank you for praying for me, by the know who you are.
Well, after weeks of waiting I finally got my results and it has been really great news and a big relief too.
Big relief.

Here's a portion of the {true} story. The day after Teagan's birthday (which many of you understand is a bittersweet day for me each year) I was making sandwiches for lunch while my inlaws were putting bikes together for Wyndham and Ava and it happened to be my OB doctor. She asked if I had a few minutes and as I continued to make some ham and cheese sandwiches she told me that some of my labs had come back with 'abnormal/inconclusive results'. She told me I would have to repeat the tests in a month and she felt confident that everything would be fine at that point. It sounded like she was just 'being cautious'. After some explanations she finally said, "the tests I'm referring to are for the HIV".
You can imagine the surprise I had when she said that.
I had her repeat a few things and said, "Well, I'm sure it can't be positive... obviously it's just an I don't have any other questions...yes, thanks for calling." I didn't really think much about it for a few hours after that- we ate our lunch and went about our day.
But when Chip came home and I talked with him about the concerns and told him I needed further tests, it then began to hit me what I was saying. It seemed so ridiculous to me...but at the same time I could feel myself growing concerned.
The next morning, Chip talked to the pathologist and an ER doctor friend of ours, who both reassured us that it would all be cleared up in a month and neither seemed worried about the inconclusive results I had received.
I, on the otherhand, had to get more information myself. So I started googling and searching all sorts of fun stuff related to HIV, testing, abnormal results...anything that came up in the search engine. {Big mistake!} I was clicking and reading and obsessed and getting more and more stressed for about a week. Let me tell you the truth about that week in my life. It was no fun. None. I would read stuff. And then freak out. Or call Chip and ask his opinions. Or wake up in the middle of the night and go back online from 3am until 6. And then I would think it was all crazy. And there's no way any of this should be happening in my life.
Because the fact is, I had NO WAY according to 'how you get HIV' that I could have possibly been infected.
But I've been around the medical realm enough to know that sometimes you need to be an advocate for yourself. You need 'knowledge' in order to know that the right thing is being done. Once I felt I had enough 'intelligible' questions and concerns, then I called pathology and wanted to be set straight on a few things.
Well, that didn't necessarily help at that point, because one of the things I found out was that at my hospital ("a low-risk institution") in each of the past two years, there have been 2 instances similar to mine, in which the labs had to be sent to Mayo for more specific testing. In each of those 2 instances, one result was a true positive and one was a false positive. Basically, out of the hundreds or thousands of HIV tests that are run each year, I happened to be one of two cases that was typical for them to see...and I had a 50/50 chance of having recently contracted HIV.
{This is the point in the story where it was helpful for me to tell myself to breathe...I'm just sayin'.}
SO... yes, it gets better.
Being the good 'person of faith' that I am, rather than look at this whole situation in medical terms, I began to look at this from a spiritual perspective. {I'm saying this to make fun of myself. Sort of like when I was growing up as a Pastor's kid and was told 'Oh, you can't do this or're a pastor's kid.} Let me tell you, I was getting really radical at times.
There was the lightbulb moment, where I was reading one medical abstract or journal, I forget which one, and realized that there was nothing I could do about this situation when I thought, "Oh right. I have NO chance of having been recently infected, but in my life, stuff happens anyway. Like what are the odds that my healthy little girl sitting in a restaurant, eating chocolate chip pancakes will be killed doing so? The odds were astronomically against such a thing...but it happend." So I sat there telling myself, really, if God wants to allow me to have HIV, it will happen- no matter what I do or don't do. I told myself if He wants to let this happen, then I need to just accept it and see HOW He wants to bring me through it or use it for His glory.
This all happened in a matter of a week or so. The obsession was crazy. I got to the point where I convinced myself to not read another thing about HIV on the interent and instead, I decided I would only read my Bible and pray and just sit and 'listen' to what my heart needed to hear. I dug deep into Scripture and did lots of praying and questioning and finally felt a few things sort of 'point me' to the idea of complete surrender.
So that's what I finally did.
I realized that I wouldn't be thrilled with an HIV diagnosis, but seemed better to me than say a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Or other life-threatening illnesses. Many other diseases and viruses kill you in less than 10-20 years. I also reminded myself that I didn't know the number of my days anyway. None of us does. Something could happen I began to have this peace about me, that it wasn't going to matter what the result would be...I would still be the same me. Life is what it is and to me it is ordained before I came into being- by God Himself.
So then I got 'really spiritual'...I thought maybe God was going to 'call' me to an AIDS orphanage in Africa or something and I just wanted to be ready for whatever I was in for.

Now I have to point out that this whole time- 6 weeks of waiting for an answer, that Chip was fully convinced I was HIV-negative and that I was totally overreacting. If you ever have a major worry in your life or you are campaigning for President or something, he is the guy you want at your side. He's convincing and supportive and even makes you laugh at yourself. I'm so glad he knows how to keep his cool and that it always seems to be enough for both of us.
I'm also very glad he turned out to be right this time around.
Not that God might not call me to work with orphans somewhere, someday...but I am glad that my life doesn't have to involve rounds of HIV anti-viral drugs and treatments.
I have found out that occasionally (and at my hospital- very rarely) in women with subsequent pregnancies, antibodies are detected which show intially as 'possible HIV infection' in lab results and thus the labs are sent for further testing. At this point the concern is that the individual may have early onset of HIV infection...thus the weeks of waiting before you can retest and get definitive results.
The waiting was hard.
The whole process made me mad at times- the helplessness, the stress, the sleeplessness, the total ridiculousness that began to make me wonder what I've done wrong in my life to deserve 'drama' like this. (Does it sound like I was overreacting to you?) =)

In the end, I dont' know what 'grand purpose' this incident is serving in my life, other than I could totally fly through a Jeopardy category if the topic was "HIV testing and inconclusive results" now. I'm sure that will happen soon. Ha!
I am feeling a weight off of my shoulders, so when I look at things like 4 loads of dirty laundry I'm really thinking, "Yay!! All I have is piles of least I don't have HIV!"
I'm also thinking that as the pounds begin to pile on my waist I will just be "thrilled with them...because hey...they're just least I don't have HIV!"
So that's my true-life story of what's been weighing on my mind for 6 weeks.
What? The price of gas is going up again????
Bring it on!!
At least I don't have HIV!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Then and Now.

Bella and Wyndham are almost ready to graduate from Kindergarten and so the teacher has asked us for some pictures of them when they were around 2 1/2. I went looking in my 'archives' and found some pictures that brought back wonderful memories. It's so fun to see how much they've grown and changed, and even more fun to see how much they're 'still the same'. Their personalities have been so different and distinct- even from very early on. It makes me nostalgic for those years that go by so quickly. It makes me more anxious and excited to think about the new baby we will welcome this fall. It makes me want to hang onto the moments that make up our days. Right now.
These pictures are bold reminders that time IS but a vapor...a mist. It's here and then gone so quickly. {Thank goodness for cameras!}
Now here's a fun question I'd love to see some of your answers to...what do YOU miss or remember about your own childhood? If you want to share some fun memories, I'd love to stroll down that lane with you. =)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our family took in our school carnival on Friday night and I have to say that it was the best $20 spent on entertainment that we've all had in a long time. That picture of Wyndham is her smiling and showing me her ticket as she waited in line to throw wet sponges at one of the highschoolers in the booth. She was too nice when it came to throwing her sponges though...and she did what she could to avoid hitting the face in the hole. It was cute to see her want to play- but making up her own rules. Bella, on the otherhand, had no problem throwing directly at the hole and even tried to move up a step or two closer with each turn.
There were hot dogs and face painting, cotton candy and 'jail', which Brock was happy to avoid as much as he could. We cashed in some tickets for a rainbow kite at the end of the night, and that was yesterday's entertainment. We needed more wind to make the kite fly higher and longer, but still, it was a lot of fun for everyone.
We are enjoying longer, sunshiny days- even though it means Chip is away long hours at the Club. I know he loves his job and part of what drives me to want to stay on top the household chores while he is away is so that we won't have to spend time catching up on 'stuff' when is he around.
It's not summer yet, but it feels good just to know that it's coming. And I am so happy that Wyndham is making ongoing progress and really seems to be happy be outside and doing most of the same activities that all the other kids do. She's a great sport and the other kids are great right back to her and such encouragers for her to try things for herself. I'm a lucky Mom to have active, healthy kids right now. I think the new baby is going to fit right in too {moving all the time now!}.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Under the influence...

I thought I'd add a little 'disclaimer' for myself and the discussions/thoughts I may share here over the next 4-5 months. I've been feeling baby movements for nearly a week now and they have a way of making me 'freak out' while at the same time they affirm so much to me.
I admit that feeling little rhythmic movements while blogging affects some of what I actually blog about- proof being my previous disection of some Hannah Montana lyrics. =)
It's just the reality of another life being entrusted to me is an overwhelming thought... one I don't take lightly and yet I thank God for even believing that Chip and I are somehow capable and qualified to take on such responsibility. I know I can't shield my kids from everything that I wish I could- there just aren't enough Yahoo filters out there for that, still I know that raising kids is about being 'balanced' and giving them tools and love and support to be able to make wise decisions in their own lives or even the ability to deal with defeat.
So that's it.
Losing one child...raising 4 more...and expecting another just may be a big part of what I do or don't say around here.
I still find myself in 'shock' that these kids are all mine sometimes. I also feel more inadequate than qualified, and yet at the same time I find being a mom is one of the greatest things about my life.
Yep. I'm definitely 'under the influence of mothering' these days. =)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I only partly agree with this song...

In case you don't know, this is Hannah Montana (otherwise known as Miley Cyrus). [The photo is from this Flickr link.] My kids love her music and tv show and they enjoy dancing and singing to Wii game they have of her concert tour, as well as her cd's.
I have to admit, I think she's cute and her show is funny and entertaining. I don't mean to tear her down or judge her in any way...but I have been thinking about the truth to some of her songs and wondering what other people think about the words- if you really stop to dissect them a little bit.
One of the songs my kids listen to quite a bit is "Life's what you make it" {follow this link to read all the lyrics}. It's a fun, upbeat song that basically says, "Life's what you make it, so let's make it rock...". Most of what it says seems believeable and true and good- life's a choice and attitude is what makes the difference in how things are in your world.
I have to agree that attitude DOES make a big difference in how life can seem on any given day, and it DOES play a big role in many instances. I've been a big believer and even sort of adopted a similar life motto which is sort of 2-parts:
one being that "you can't always control your circumstances, but you CAN always choose how to respond to them" and the other is "sometimes you have to create your own joy". I'm not trying to get all nit-picky here, but I just especially wonder about this section of the song which says:
"Things are looking up anytime you want,
All you gotta do is realize that it's under your control,
so let the good times rock and roll...".
Like I said...maybe I am just opening a big can of worms here and who knows what sort of comments some of you may feel compelled to leave in response, but those words just don't sit well with me. I have lived through enough situations that 'aren't under my control' and I've sat in pits of darkness where I've wondered if 'good times' even existed anymore.
Maybe some of you are in them right now.
I think of people who are told, "You have cancer and there's nothing more we can do for you" or others who have spouses come home one day and say, "I don't want to be married to you anymore...I've found someone else"; some people struggle with weight or depression or infertility or addictions that consume them for years. Still others live through years of physical/emotional and mental abuse, or rape by family members of friends. What about those life situations? Or how about the Smith family who recently, for no seemingly obvious reason, had a beautiful baby girl be born and die on the same day- it was "out of their control".

I realize that Hannah Montana is just singing and having fun, but I also know that words can really speak to our hearts and souls and especially through repetition, they can shape our beliefs- even at an early age. I find that I don't want my kids to have to 'struggle' in life with major issues, simply because they have come to believe something is 'true' when in fact, it's that they have misinterpreted things or been mislead.
Truth is sometimes hard to find in this world in which we live. And I certainly am not claiming to know it all or even have all the right answers. That is why more and more in my own life I feel I have to really look and listen intently to messages that come at me- even if it's something as small as a song on a Hannah Montana cd.
I have no doubt that some things in life really can be controlled by a change in attitude or by taking a step back and looking at a situation as it is and thus making the most of that. But in other circumstances- those that are big and deeply affect people, often through things beyond their control {as in the things I previously mentioned, or even natural disasters...}- and for me, the only way to get beyond the hurt and devastation is NOT through myself, but by something bigger than me. Which as many of you know by now, is my faith and belief in God and His authority over everything- seen and unseen.
Maybe this is a bit deep and complex, but it's been on my heart and I just want to make certain that if someone is going through a life trial, that they know it's not necessarily about them. But more importantly that there is a God who cares so much and has infinite power and strength and love and healing to make this situation 'right' again. Maybe it will take time- years even- and maybe it won't even happen this side of eternity. I just know that God can be trusted to make things new and to bring about change in lives and hearts- even when it seems impossible to us. I truly believe that it's in surrendering to our circumstances and in admitting that a situation is too overwhelming for us on our own, that we ultimately find the Strength to face it in our lives.
And that is my sermon and breakdown of the theology of a Hannah Montana song today. I know. A little bit crazy...but that's the way I roll sometimes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday...April 14th.

Today is my youngest brother's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jeff! He came into our family by way of adoption...literally dropped off at our doorstep back in 1977. I remember being so happy {I was 4 years old} as I was totally in love with babies and puppies at that time in my life. I still can picture myself holding him and thinking about when I would be a mom myself someday.
So here we are...years later and I am still very much in 'mommy-mode'. I am 16 weeks along in my pregnancy with baby #6 and the weeks just seem to be going by so quickly. I've decided to take a few pictures of my 'progress' this time around, and if you really want to follow this journey you can click over to my gallery and view the picture here. If I don't get too enormous, I just may post a couple of pics each month from now til the baby arrives. =)
This morning we were back to our normal routine as spring break had to come to an end. The alarm went off early and with that came the reality that if I'm not careful, the monotony of life can quickly become a drudgery.
I am trying really hard as a mom to NOT let that happen- even though it does at times. I was happy to come across a little notebook yesterday in which I had written random thoughts and journaling around this time last year. It seems fitting for me to post...and hopefully the words will encourage and challenge some of you who find yourself in this same place in life. Loving the routine and 'calling'...yet sometimes feeling overwhelmed and uninspired- this is for all of us.

"The perspective needed to guide and shape my parenting is this-

When I begin to see the day to day as a delight, rather than 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 [parenting] becomes a task of enormous and lasting consequence.
It becomes a 'higher calling' and the reality sinks in that
giving it my all, demanding my best and expressing love in ALL that I do, is the least I can offer to those who mean the most to me."

May you find joy and purpose and affirmation in the relationships that YOU touch today...they matter so much!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Something fun...

One of my students recommended a fun, photo-editing site to me a few weeks ago. Thanks to some added free time because of spring break I was able to finally check it out and give it a whirl this week.
I know some of you (particularly scrapbookers) already have good photo software and others download actions and play around with photos on other sites. But I have to give a little head's up to others who might not know about such fun places. This one I heartily endorse... . It's fun, easy and definitely will be on my 'to do' list when I'm not baking, folding laundry or doing other really fun stuff around my house. =)

Friday, April 11, 2008

She was a miracle to behold...

Angie Smith wrote a letter to her baby Audrey, who was born on and went to Heaven on April 7th.
In case you wonder whether God is Real...
If you wonder whether or not there is such a thing as Peace on Earth...
If you've ever asked yourself "What good can come from suffering?"...
If it's been too long since you have 'felt' or witnessed a miracle in this life, then this post is for you.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Recycling and notebooks.

This is a series of photos showing you first, the type of packaging I used to make a little scrap book and some detailed pictures showing how it is assembled. In 'scrap terms' this would be called a 'recycled notebook tutorial'. I made this by taking the plastic wrapper of a pack of fun stickers/embellishments and I cut it into thirds and taped the 'pages' together with gaffer tape. The edges are open- allowing me to slide patterned papers in them- which can have photos and journaling added to them or dates and stickers or labels or whatever I want this little book to hold. It's just blank and ready to be filled.
I made up a mini goodie bag of mix-matched scraps that would be fun to use on this book- from ribbon to buttons to tabs to fabric and even a handmade mushroom. I sent it to one of the 'winners' of the card for Lois drive that I posted a link to on my blog a few weeks ago. Lois is battling cancer and a good friend of mine asked for people all over the world to send cards to Lois. Those cards have lifted her spirits, encouraged her heart and helped Lois know that the burden of her cancer is being shared in a small way- by many.
Something as small as a handwritten card or verse or thought of comfort can mean the world to the person who is facing a great struggle. I am personally inviting all of you who read this post, to consider sending a card to the Smith family who just two days ago brought into this world their baby daughter Audrey, but only had about two hours of this life to spend with her, before she died and their life started a new path. One that now forever is etched on their hearts, and most certainly brings a mixture of Joy and sorrow. You can read their story at their blog, and you are invited there to send cards and messages to them at this address:
Angie and Todd Smith
PMB 210
8161 Hwy 100
Nashville, TN 37221
I remember the overwhelming number of cards and notes that Chip and I received for weeks after our tragedy when Teagan died. They meant so much. They still do. I know that the Smith's so appreciate your prayers too, and I have no doubt God is listening to every one of them said on their behalf. Thank you for praying...thank you for caring.
The more I scrap, the more I am beginning to see that it's not just words and pretty paper. There are connections made beyond all the 'stuff'- connections that touch the heart. I am grateful to be able to share a little bit of my life with so many, and humbled that others let me in on bits of their lives too. I have one last link to share with you- some beautiful, blank journals that I found online that inspire me. I love to journal. I love blank, recycled notebooks. It's like they are little treasures just waiting to be filed with thoughts and dreams and sorrows and wonders and everything in between.

Monday, April 07, 2008

My scraps...

I will be posting a challenge/tutorial on the SIS Fashionista Inspiration blog tomorrow and have been busy making a 'mess' in my scrap space as a result. The top photo is what my scrap area looks like right now, and the second picture is a peek at one of the little projects I will be sharing in more detail.
Can I just admit that it feels SO GOOD to not have anything pressing on our calendar here at home for a whole week?! I am a major homebody and spring break is the best thing to me...does that make me pathetic or normal? I'm not sure, but I do know it feels really good to just have a week of 'nothing'. I don't mean that we won't do anything fun around our house and as a family, but not having to be somewhere by a certain time is basically my dream everyday. It feels good to have a dream come true- if even for just a week. =)
I used to envy people who would load their whole family up and travel to some warm, sunny destination. Not anymore. To me travleing is exhausting and there always seems to be some glitches along the way that cause stress and tension. Not to mention all the work of packing and unpacking for a family of 6 when you're the mom.
Nope. I no longer envy people who take a week to go somewhere. At least not with kids the ages mine are. I am perfectly content to stay home, sleep in, eat brunch most days and play with playdough and new bikes and scooters. I have come to really appreciate my ordinary, slow-paced life when it actually plays out that way.
I know that this is a season of my life and I am glad that I am able to just see it for what it is and and I am happy that sometimes simple is best for me. I love that 'contentment' comes in all shapes and sizes. Especially when it comes in the form of 'spring break'. =)

Today marks a life-changing day for my blog-friend, Angie and her family. I know that many of you have been following their story and they so appreciate your prayers and support. Life is so hard at times- more than we feel we can bear. I've been there myself. I encourage you to stop over to her blog and read the powerful post she wrote last night, {"He"} on the eve of her infant daughter's birth. It is life-changing if you don't know what God can do in your life already. And reaffirming to those who do know the Truth and Hope that comes through knowing Christ and living in faith each day. My thoughts and prayers are with the Smiths and trust they are feeling contentment and Peace in their own hearts too.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

His first "investment"

Brock just got a new bike. We paid for most of it as part of his birthday present from back in February. The weather has finally turned sunny and springlike, so he and Chip went shopping for his present. He had an 'allowance' and then picked out the bike he wanted and paid for the rest with his own money. {He loves to save money and see his bank account grow...but had extra cash from his birthday in his wallet for this purchase.} He was so proud to pay for part of this bike by himself. He also has more interest in keeping it in good shape and I just think it is fun to be the 'parent' and watch him learn about spending/saving/taking care of things as well as seeing him proud about something so 'big'.
It's easy to forget all the 'stuff' we learn as kids and really it is important to do these little things along the way to help prepare kids for the real world. I'm so glad my own parents taught me to work and save and to tithe and to be smart with money. There's enough problems in life as an adult and I'm thankful today that I've been able to make wise choices {most of the time} and avoid financial heartaches.
If you're in the midst of one, my wish for you would be for you to start making small changes in life, to find a trusted friend or advisor who can help get you back on track and moving in the right direction. Money can be a real headache in this world. I don't claim to be rich or totally taken care of, but there are things that you can do to make life easier- even if you have financial struggles. Here's a link to some great tools to help get you started.
Okay. That's enough preaching. I just want to remember how happy Brock was with his first big purchase and to remember the joy of being a kid with a new bike. Not to mention a whole week off for spring break to ride all day and really get a good feel for it. Sometimes simple is good.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Some more misc. notes...

After Chip read the list of 40 things I love about him, he said to me, "How did you come up with all those things?". The truth is I could have written 40 more. And more. It's a matter of 'looking' and really thinking about all the things you love about someone. I invite all of you to try it at sometime- whether you are struggling in your own marriage/relationship, or even if you need to mend a broken one and you can't seem to see past the hurt right now. Start with a short list- 5 things maybe. Or change your list from "5 Things I love about this person" to "5 Things God loves about this person" and see I promise you some healing will begin to take place...or begin to grow.
Chip's not perfect. He'll even admit to that. Our marriage isn't perfect. We've not even had one 'perfect day' in all our years together, but I am humbled and grateful for what we do have and truly we consider ourselves blessed to be in each other's life. We're still growing and learning and trying to figure out things about the other- even after 14+ years together (counting dating/engagement), but the more I find things to love and appreciate about Chip, the more the other 'stuff' doesn't seem to matter. That's the part that can be a challenge in any relationship. To not get hung up or obsessed with the negatives and the things that are 'wrong', but instead to forgive and seek to see the good in someone- despite shortcomings. I am just as thankful that Chip loves and accepts me as I am- and also that he is willing to point out things that need changing at times.
Neither of us takes credit for loving each other through the ups and downs and ugly stuff we've been through together, but we both know that God gives us strength to love and forgive- even when it hurts. And that has been the key to our marriage as you see it today. Not perfect at all...but one that has grown and deepened through the years and can 'stretch without breaking' when the going gets rough.
So, thanks for all the nice comments to both Chip and me. But really, God deserves the credit for love that we share. I really hope some of you will challenge yourselves to write a list or even daily tell a loved one in your life one thing you love about that person and just see what happens as time goes on. Love changes things.
On another note, I know many of you have been praying for my friend, Roxanne Robbins and especially for her little friend, Okello Dickens who was so sick in a children's hospital in Uganda, Africa. I received an email from Roxanne yesterday telling of Dicken's death and her sorrow in his loss. My heart goes out to Roxanne and she continues to ask for prayer, not only as she grieves for Okello, but also for all the other children in this hospital that she is aiding at this time. The needs of the children far exceed what she can do for them- medically, emotionally and spiritually and so she appreciates our prayers for strength as she does what she can to ease their pains. My prayers are with her and those around her in a special way today and in the coming days. Thank you for joinging me in prayer.
On a different note, I have to tell you that there has been some fun developments at SIStv. This month there were a whole bunch of *new Fashionistas* added to our design team. We *old Fashionsitas* were given a Lil' SISter and we had fun making welcome layouts for them. I was hooked up with Rhian from Great Britain and it has been fun for me to get to know her a bit through her creations and designs. I made this page for her after reading her blog and studying her gallery of scrap pages. SIS is excited to have so much more creativity and ideas onboard with this new team of girls. Welcome and also, feel free to check out the new and improved SIS Boutique. It's fresh and fun and full of new things!
Lastly, I have to share this just because I know some of my family and friends will get a kick out of this true story. A couple of days ago the doorbell rang and I was busy attending to Wyndham in the bathroom and Chip was changing clothes after just getting home from work. I told the girls not to answer it if they didn't know who it was. Well, Ava proceeded to open the door and standing outside were two teen guys from our local highschool. They were selling something for their sport's team. Chip finally made it to the door and I turned to Ava when I had the first chance and said, "You're not supposed to answer the door if you don't know the person outside".
The next morning when she was getting dressed I decided to go over this rule about answering the door once again. I said, "Ava, do you remember what Mommy told you about answering the door when you don't know the person?", and she said, "yes". So I continued, "Why did you open the door for the guys yesterday without a Mommy or Daddy with you if you didn't know them?". She looked at me and said, "I did know them...they were the Jonas Brothers!".
I couldn't help but laugh...and realize I have so much to learn about parenting yet.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, Chip.

This is one of my favorite pictures of casual. So "us". Today Chip is celebrating his 40th birthday. He said he doesn't feel 40 at all. He feels much younger. I am thankful for him in my life- in our family's life- every single day. Today I felt compelled to put some of those reasons into words.
{These are totally random and are in no particular order. I could have written several more too!} Here they are, Chip..."40 Things I Love About You".
Happy Birthday today and I wish you many more!

1. Your big bear hugs
2. The fact that you cook better than me. Way better.
3. That you wrote in your day planner in 1994 on a random day, "Propose to Jody".
4. The way our kids light up when you come home. From anywhere.
5. You are great at getting tangles out of little girl hair after bathtime.
6. You can laugh and make jokes in the most tragic of moments and somehow make the ER of any hospital bearable.
7. The intensity level you place on yourself just before you hit a golf ball off the tee
8. Your side of the bed is ALWAYS warmer than mine...and you have no problem trading places with me so I can 'steal' that warmth whenever I ask you to do so.
9. The way you care about and maintain friendships in your life
10.The ease at which you can strike up and form new friendships- anywhere at anytime.
11. Your love of Ms. Pac-Man equals mine. =)
12. Citing major news stories (ie. Natalie Hollaway, Ward Churchill, the Runaway Bride, Elizabeth Smart, Anna Nicole Smith or Terri Schivo) makes us both smile.
13. You brought my mom flowers the first time you met her.
14. Your passion for history and politics has made me look good/knowledgeable at times...and has helped fuel my own interest in such topics through the years.
15. I love how you used to take Teagan places- even to the ocean beach- when I had to two shared a special bond.
16. The way you take our other kids places at times- just so they get individual "Daddy-time" too.
17. You call me beautiful whether I weigh 168 or 118 pounds...and you truly mean it.
18. How you look in just a plain ol' white t-shirt
19. The way you have perfect timing some mornings and show up with a Starbuck's latte- just every so often enough...
20. How you made statements of forgiveness, publicly and in the media, before I ever even gave it a thought- much less said the words.
21. The way you say "You're sorry" even if you're not even sure what you did wrong. {wink}
22. Serving coffee and doughnuts with you at church only 3 weeks after we had gone on our first date.
23. Your baby back ribs and chocolate bread pudding with spiced whipped cream or cheese souffles turn out perfect every time you make them....Mmmmm.
24. If I take off running in a parking lot, you simply drive alongside me and tell me how fast I am running. You think I'm crazy- but you let me do stuff like that anyway...and still love me.
25. You use the same hair putty as me.
26. Whenever we go out for dinner your food always tastes better...and sometimes you let me trade meals.
27. Even though I can't dance, you make me feel like I can
28. Kapoochi's. I loved and miss Kapoochi's with you.
29. You listen to Nick Lachay. =)
30. Whether you are making gourmet soup or booking a golf outing, you throw yourself into your work and give 110%.
31. How you wait with the kids in the car while I shop at Gap fast as I can. =)
32. That you look for the good in everything- and you make me feel guilty when I say "just my life"...because you are so right...we're blessed in many ways.
33. When I tell you I am pregnant (which has been several times) you get the best look in your eyes and give the best hugs then too.
34. You hum movie and tv theme songs and play that silly guessing game with me. Fun stuff.
35. You know that Heaven is real and you look forward to spending eternity there. Someday.
36. Every time I say "I want to buy_____.", you tell me to go ahead. Because you know I'm the 'saver'. =)
37. That you talked me into a honeymoon in Hawaii...I will never regret going there. Ever.
38. You have made ordinary days in my life memorable and extraordinary. More than once.
39. I love the way you can tuck our kids in bed at night and they stay there.
40. The way you wave behind your back as you walk away. All because I told you I melted when I saw someone else do that once. You remember details that make life better...and I am so happy you're in my life.
Today and Always!