Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just trying to stay ahead of the game...

I have been preparing for this baby in many ways the past week and more and it seems like there is always just one more thing I want to get done or do before I head to the hospital. Chip can tell you about what a great patient I make. I have gotten better with each pregnancy, but still I am not the kind of person who likes hospitals or extended stays of any kind. If I had my way, I would have the baby, take a shower, eat a meal and make sure the baby is fine {and bathed!} =) and be ready to head home if it was allowed.
But I have learned to be patient and this time around I am so experienced that I know there is a lot to do just to be prepared to come home to a family of 5 kids- who are just getting into the swing of a new school schedule. I am stocked up on food for packing lunches and stocked up on diapers and have just been trying to make the most of this 'easy time' in my life. The reality has hit me full force that these 4 kids I have (ages 4 1/2 to 9) will seem like a breeze compared to adding in the needs and demands of a newborn very soon.
I made extra efforts this week to take them to the park, and we went out as a family to the local Whippi Dip for ice cream just before bath/bedtime the other night. There has been more cleaning and organizing and I have come to believe I will never be on top of all of that! The kids definitely have the upper hand at mess-making around our home.
I let them 'help' me make a mess as we all scrapped and made baby thank-you cards for the shower gifts we received last week. I have tried to make them feel a part of the process and changes that are to come. and I think they are fairly prepared for what is to come.
Not "fully prepared", but at least "fairly prepared". =)
Ava and Bella are pictured here cooling off from the heat of the final days of summer today as they watched a video together. I am so glad at the frinedship they have shared all summer, but at the same time I just know that Ava is going to miss Bella very much. So maybe it is perfect timing for her to have to become a big sister. I know it will all work out and I have to admit, I am actually beginning to feel anxious about all the transitions that will come about.
And I am beginning to wonder if "Labor Day" is going to take on new meaning for our family this September. I doubt it...but at least we're prepared if it does!
Happy last day of August to all of you...and a Happy Labor Day tomorrow too!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our busy lunch...

In the middle of eating her lunch {grilled ham and cheese sandwich, chips and a rootbeer float}, Isabella announced "my tooth just came out"! She was so excited. Not too long ago she lost her first tooth and it took several minutes of reassuring her to get her calmed down. So we were all celebrating her second lost tooth when I noticed Wyndham had left the table. My kids are always leaving the table before it's time to be done, and so I called her back to finish her lunch.
As she came into the dining room, Bella held up her tooth and told her, "Wyndham, I lost another tooth...see?!" Wyndham looked over at Bella and as she did, I noticed that it looked like her {Wyndham's} top tooth was missing. It's been ready to just about come out for almost a week now, it seems. I asked her to smile for me and she wouldn't, so I went over to her for a closer look. Sure enough...her tooth was gone too!
I let her know I was excited and happy for her and told the other kids that Wyndham had lost a tooth too. Bella thought it was so funny that they would both lose a tooth at the exact same time. After helping Wyndham understand that it was a good thing that her tooth had come out, she started to come around and get excited as well. We looked everywhere for her tooth, thinking she either swallowed it during one of her bites of sandwich, or else it came out in her room while she looked at herself in front of the mirror- which is why she had left the table. No luck with finding the tooth, but we did tape a note to her door for the tooth fairy tonight to read when she stops by tonight. Fairies have a way of just picking up on these things and making the moment special- tooth or not.
I, of course, had to take some pictures of the girls celebrating their moment together and showing off their new grins. I wanted their grandparents especially, to see how happy they were and just how amazing it is that Wyndham continues to achieve milestones right alongside the rest of her siblings.
I love that I was home for this moment and it's just one more tangible way for me to 'see' my kids growing up. A busy lunch indeed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Five days and no blogging!

One might think that I actually have been busy or doing something exciting after taking such a 'long break' from blog posting. The truth is I am just tired- more than I had been in the past few weeks, I've been scrapping, I've been organizing some stuff around the house, I've been mowing the lawn and also just trying to entertain my kids. They seem to think the last week of summer is the week where they don't have to follow any rules and that there should be lots of noise and chaos around the house in celebration of this final "hurrah".
I am much more ready for school to start after the past 3 days of dealing with my stir-crazy kidlets. I just hope the teachers are ready too!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One more week of fun and games...

We are heading into the final week of summer vacation and I admit, I wish it could last at least another month. There has been a lot of fun and smiles and laughter and sunshine and growing. By all of us! {You can click here for the baby pic at 35 weeks.}
This week we will try to get back to a more 'normal' bedtime and hopefully feel more prepared for the actual school schedule, but still I know it will be a bit of a transition. Brock's hair really isn't that long- he had it cut since that picture, but still, I know he is dreading the 'school haircut' nonetheless.
We did enjoy a family cookout/celebration with a group of friends from church last night who were so generous and thoughtful and wanted to show their support as we prepare for the arrival of Baby Ferlaak. {Thanks Allison and Todd for opening your home to so many people and for the wonderful hospitality we were shown!} That blue tongue that Ava is so proud of was courtesy of a ring pop she got as one of her gifts.
We can definitely feel things beginning to change and shift around here. I know many of you are almost as anxious and excited to share in those changes, and you can be sure we will keep you posted with any news.
As for that scrap layout {you can click on it to see it better}, I am trying to hold onto and soak up a few of the memories we've made together this summer. I hope you and your family and friends have made some memories worth savoring too!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My "other" self-

First of all I think I should write another book titled, "It Takes a Village to Name a Baby". =) Thanks for so many kind, thoughtful opinions and even several emails that many of you have sent to Chip and me as we make the big name decision soon. I truly enjoy the process and want to assure you that we will choose the name we feel suits our family/baby best. Thanks for all the dialogue though, and for some creative options too. Who knows, by the time the baby gets here we may have Archibald or Percival at the top of our list! =)
I have had so much encouragement from some of my online friends and 'real life' friends the past couple of weeks as to how I look at this point into my pregnancy. I am 35 weeks today and feeling really good...probably the best I've felt out of all my pregnancies. I have to admit that even I am surprised at how much I actually have 'enjoyed' this journey- minus the stress and long wait when there was that risk of positive HIV infection. Beyond that though, I expected to be more moody, more overwhelmed and certainly more "round" than I am.
The photos in this post are of me when I was pregnant with Teagan {the first 2} and then when I was pregnant with Ava. I hardly recognize myself and hope that some of you have a hard time recognizing me too. =) I know that sometimes I put too much of myself and my thoughts and life out here online, and this is likely another one of those times. But I just want some of you to know that the happiness and Joy and really the changes you see in me and my family- physical, mental and spiritual- have been part of a long process. It's why I often talk of my life as a journey and I feel so grateful and humble when I do see so much goodness in our lives beyond our tragedy.
I truly believe that God has given Chip and me a second chance in life- He not only spared our lives at the time of our tragedy, but He has given us so many blessings besides. I never want to take them for granted and that is a big reason I share so openly- so publicly, the way I do.
I personally have had ongoing issues in my life with my weight/self-image from about the age of 10. I could dig out photos from my childhood through adulthood that captured this part of me as I grew up. It was probably my biggest challenge as a pre-teen, teen and college student. My grades came fairly easily. My sense of humor was something I relied heavily upon and it seemed to make up for the hurt/hate I felt for myself for a long time.
I guess I write all this because I know that there are people who struggle with personal issues- whether it is body image, self-love, eating disorders that stem from any number of things, or even just comparing themselves and feeling they never measure up. It makes me sad to think back to all the years I cried as I fell asleep and how much I really disliked me- for no real reason other than my weight/shape. I had parents and friends and family who never made me feel unloved because of my looks and yet it somehow was my deepest issue and really shaped a lot of the choices I made along the way.
I am no expert in diets and can't give anybody a magic formula as to what has worked for me to get to where I love and accept me the way I am... it's really a long list of things, and as I said, a process or journey that has evolved over a long time. I just want to give someone hope out there who might feel all hope is gone. If even to inspire one of you to find the Joy I have found and to be changed as I have been changed, well to me it is worth those years of struggle and I am more than happy to be able to say "You can do it". I want even that one person reading this to know that you are worth the pain and challenges and sacrifices you may have to make in your life to get to a place of contentment and acceptence. I'm no stranger to the battles that come at you- the ones that you hear in your mind telling you that you are worthless. Or those lies that you believe by watching 'perfect people' on tv and magazine covers and who start making you believe that you are less than who you are simply because of the way God designed your body.
So, as I've added on pounds with this pregnancy for the past 35 weeks, I knew I was in for some 'mental struggles', besides the obvious looking in the mirror and seeing my body grow and change. I knew it was going to be difficult and so I did a few things that I think have made all the difference this time around. One of the first things I did was thank God for the gift of life that He sent to me by way of a baby. I wanted to be grateful for something so amazing, so undeserved- something that others cry out for and long to have happen in their life. I wanted to look at this pregnancy not as something to dread...but truly as a unexpected blessing. I also have prayed many times that I would love and accept ALL the changes this has brought and will continue to bring into my life- weight gain, concerns, and even the sleepless nights. I have been so surprised, although I shouldn't be, that God has heard and answered those prayers. I have said it before, but sometimes find that we don't really ask God for the things we need- the really simple things, because maybe we think He is 'too big or too busy' to care. Instead, we move along in life carrying worries or burdens that He would love to lift off of us, but we are not willing to turn them over to Him. I think that is one of the biggest lessons I have learned in my life the past several years...God WANTS us to know love and Joy and contentment, but we have to be willing to give Him all our concerns- no matter how big or small they may be.
When I think of all the hurt I carried because I let myself believe I wasn't 'good enough or thin enough' for so long, I still ache inside because I now know that God loves me with an everlasting love and when I couldn't love myself, I was in effect saying, "God I don't like the way you made me- I don't love what You created me to be". I realized at one point that since God designed me, I COULD love me just the way I was. It was in accepting me and all my imperfections that I began to be able to change and become even more of who God created me to be.
I now choose to do things for my body and for myself because I know that God wants the best for me, and when my thinking lines up with that reality, it is so much easier to actually follow through. I'm talking about eating healthier, and not watching tv or reading fashion magazines or actually going for walks or doing things for other people that make their lives better. I believe that the less I focused on me, the more I was able to change. It seems so backwards- so opposite what you think you need to do, but really, that is when I have seen change happen in me.
When I started telling myself I didn't need a boyfriend to affirm my love and worth back in college, well, that is when I started to get asked out and months later met Chip and fell in love. When I began to just focus on loving life and others around me, that is when others started to love me back in bigger ways.
I was depressed through my whole pregnancy with Teagan, but can honestly say that the moment she was placed in my arms after her birth, my heart literally cared a fraction about me and was totally overwhelmed and consumed with her. Nothing mattered to me at that point, about my weight or looks or even how much sleep I would or wouldn't get...I olnly wanted to be my best and give her the world. I thank God that He allowed me to struggle through 9 months of pregnanacy with her- even as I questioned Him and was angry and depressed. Because in the end He gave me the greatest gift of being able to love more and give more of me than I ever had in my life.
I had no idea I would write this long chapter in my life here today. I actually meant to just post a few photos to 'prove' to a few of my friends that when they tell me I look so good this pregnancy, that it most definitely hasn't been true in any of my previous five. But instead, I have spilled some of the deep parts of my heart and soul. In so doing, I truly hope that someone else will be challenged to want to be more than they are at this moment.
Maybe it's the hormones and the squirming going on in my belly even as I type this that made me want to get this all out right now. Maybe it is the humble disbelief that God really does love us and wants us to bring all our concerns to Him. Maybe it's the reality that there is a life inside me, being entrusted to Chip and me to love and encourage all the potential this baby has to give the world in just a matter of days. Maybe it is any number of things, but in my heart I just want to share the good, the bad, and the reality that we all can choose Joy and seek God and He will help us become exactly who He wants us to be. That is a truth that I never want to forget.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Missing link...thanks, Sara.

You can view the layout from yesterday's post here. Thanks to a comment left by Sara I was able to find the link to the photo mosaic. It was created by Ali Edwards and you can see credits for the tiny pictures by following the link here.
Besides that really helpful comment, I see that others of you still have yet to learn blog comment etiquette. I always appreciate debate and thoughtful insights, but never care for downright rudeness, which for some reason people seem to think they can do since they are posting anonymously. Chip and I are very aware of names and our choices impacting our children as they grow up. Not that I feel the need to defend any names we're considering, because the truth is I have never been one to change an opinion of mine based on someone else's opinion. Nor has Chip. In all our baby-naming through 5 children we have always picked names we like. Teagan's name wasn't one that many people encouraged us to choose; Wyndham's was frowned upon by others. Did we consider peoples' opionions...yes. Did we ulitmately decide for ourselves...yes.
All that to say that I just thought it was in keeping with my 'open book theory' here on my blog to share the list of our current choices. Nothing is set in stone, and certainly we will make our decisions with several things in mind. Even {gasp!} possible nicknames. Now, Chip and I fully understand that ANY name can be picked on or turned into a 'bad nickname'. I, myself, was called "Fatso" through several years of anybody gets that from "Jody" is beyond me. I was also called "Buddy" in highschool because my maiden name was Hackett. Chip will tell you that he has been called among other things: Potato Chip, Chip-shot and Chip-off-the-old-block.
His birth name is John after his dad, but he has been called Chip since about the time he turned one. We have thought of doing John III, but it hasn't been a name we feel compelled to carry on. Chip's sister has a Jonathan and Brock would have likely been the boy of the family to carry on that name. However, the name Jock is a derivitive of John/Jack and our connection with that name is a very positive one. One of Chip's 'favorite bosses' is the Head Golf Pro at Interlachen Country Club in MN and he has always been so kind and supportive to Chip and our family. He is a reputable man in the golf industry and an upstanding family man as well. We feel nothing but respect to him and he has proved that a name is more how you grow into it, than how you allow others to make it shape you. That is just part of the reason the name "Jock" is on our list. If you happen to hate it, that's your personal choice. I believe that no matter what name you choose for a child, you will offend or turn somebody off. That is why Chip and I choose names we like.
The idea of naming a baby after a family member can be good. In fact Chip and I gave Isabella Teagan's name as a middle name- we felt we were being blessed with another girl so soon after Teagan was born and we wanted Bella to have a connection with her sister in Heaven- who died less than a year earlier. We also really liked the name Teagan and so it was another way to just carry a piece of her that we loved so much with us. Bella happens to like it- in case you're wondering.
Beyond that though, the list of names in our family doesn't leave us many choices in the way of baby boys- at least according to the criteria Chip and I have used in the past. The names of the grandpas are: Floyd and John; the grandfathers' names are: Wilmer, Melvin, Arnold, Ezra and Royal. Some of them have been incorporated as middle names with a couple of our nephews, but we feel confident that we aren't offending any of our family by not choosing among this list of names.
That was long for me to 'not defend' our baby name choices. =)
I really think that something will just click as soon as this baby arrives. It's always happened in the past. So we're not even worrying about it at this point. We're just having fun throwing out possibilities!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Name that mosaic...

I just love that I get a box of scrap supplies in my mail each month. I feel very lucky to be on such a fun design team and get some really edgy products through Scrap In Style tv. This month the collection of scrap goodies is called "The Urban Prep Collection" and you can actually pre-order it right now, by clicking this link here. The top photo is a peek of the whole set and the other photos here are peeks of a layout I made and will post in my gallery tomorrow. Such fun colors and textures in this stuff...I am loving it all! I scrapped my layout based on a challenge posted at the "Inspired by Amelie" blog. I rarely do challenges, but thought this one was perfect for my subject.
So, I opted to scrap a photo mosaic that has been sitting on my scrap desk for awhile now. I browse so many different blogs for insipration and this photo mosaic happened to be one I printed out, but now I have no idea where I originally saw it online. If you happen to know who or where it came from, I would love for you to hook me up with the creator so that I can credit that person as well as find out who the mini photos all belong to.
Besides that, if you have a Flickr account and create mosaics, feel free to leave me a comment and link so that I can check out your creations and be inspired by you too!
Speaking of my last post I mentioned we have not decided on a baby name yet. We do have several options in mind and if you want to comment on those, by all means, add your two-cents today. Here are some of the choices {in any combination too} that are in consideration:
Jock Bennett
Finn (Finnegan/Finley)
and I have lots more, but this list is already too long for Chip's liking. His two picks are already listed. =)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trading spaces.

I found a container with some newborn baby clothes in it as I cleaned out a portion of Ava's closet the other day. I guess they were items I had bought and saved to give as baby gifts to othter friends. They happened to be almost all newborn baby boy items, which made me happy and I feel like after washing a small load of baby clothes that I am more prepared for the changes to come in the next several weeks. It's funny to me how I can go from feeling 'in over my head' to 'totally on top of things' with just a bit of organization. =) There's something that gets me about tiny packs of socks and hats too. I can't resist getting anxious after folding a load of these baby goods.
So the baby room is basically in place- with the exception of a bit of decorating. Ava has been so good about being moved from her room into the room with Bella. I had to post a picture of their new shared space [you can click the image to make it larger], as Grandma Karen sent them matching Hello Kitty bedding and my parents helped to make and put up their bulletin board 'headboards'. I plan to add some photos or name banners or something fun to them soon too. There's always so many things I could be doing/making around here, and there's never a shortage of ideas in my head either. The tricky part is getting the from my head to reality!
Bella and I did manage to make a library sign for her room awhile ago after she asked me for one for about 2 weeks. She flips the sign from 'open' to 'close' at random...and I think basically has fun having some 'power' over the books and who gets to read/check them out at any given time.
So the basket of diapers is ready and waiting. We purchased all our school supplies yesterday and the kids' backpacks are ready to go. I suppose now that I feel so on top of things, this baby will make us wait for his arrival until much closer to the due date. Which may just turn out to be a good thing, since Chip and I are still undecided on a name. =)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Smiles and good-byes...

Last night we hugged and kissed Grandma and Grandpa and the cousins good-bye. The girls spent the afternoon crafting and making things with fabric (you can see the pouch we sewed here) and playing in a fort and just having fun. The boys were busy doing other things. =)
It was a fun week together, and I think there is just something so special about kids spending time with their grandparents. Ava used my Dad as a jungle gym as often as he gave her the chance to do so. There were plenty of hugs given and received, but even as my kids got their jammies on last night there were tears and complaints that "it went too fast" and "I didn't get enough hugs and kisses!".
If you are fortunate to live close to your family, I hope you appreciate and soak in their hugs and kisses the next time you're together. It really is a wonderful thing that is easily taken for granted. My kids are already looking forward to the next time we visit family or they visit us. Hopefully the photos and the memories will be enough for them to enjoy until that next time comes.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Short update and some pics.

Here are some pictures of a bit of our fun and adventures this week. It's gone really quickly and yet hopefully the memories will last a long time in the hearts and minds of the kids. All except their run-in with the wasp nest. That's been the most-talked about event the past few days. Thankfully everyone has healed well from their stings and Ava's eye is back to normal.
I did have another nearly-sleepless night of false labor. I'm still hoping that this baby will settle down for at least another week or two, but the good news is that the baby nursery is much more ready and usable than last pictured here. So while we are feeling more ready, we're still in no hurry.
Lastly, just for my friend, Rachael {pictured above with Wyndham}, have a safe and happy move and even though I mowed part of the lawn yesterday, I promise not to do that anymore during this pregnancy. I promise. =)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"For better or for worse..."

We looked a little bit younger in 1995, didn't we?! Thankfully our hearts were meant to be together forever and always. I love you, Chip...Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my husband, Chip of thirteen years!
I have about a hundred things I could blog about tonight, but since it is our anniversary I'll just touch on a couple of them and then go squeeze in next to Chip to watch a bit more of the Olympics on tv.
My family (parents, niece and nephew) arrived at our home at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning after an all-night drive from the Twin Cities, MN. Life around here has been nothing short of dramatic and event-filled ever since then. Hence the lack of blog posts. And some of you probably thought I was just trying to rest myself and keep from going into early labor! Ha!
There has been lack of sleep, lots of food and laughing and bath time and catching up with stories, in addition to a trip to Lake Michigan beachfront, attack of bees and lots of other stuff in between all of that.
Poor Wyndham and a neighbor boy got stung two and three times yesterday. Then today, the wasps attacked again and struck my nephew 3 times, Aly once, my Dad once and Ava got it in the eye. That's why you see her "winking" in the last photo. Her eye totally swelled shut from her sting. We adults all felt so bad and Chip made an emergency run to the store and has since taken out every nest around our home. So hopefully we have taken care of the bee problem...we are lucky nobody is seriously allergic to them. We've now officially had enough of their aggression for one summer. Or two or three!
As we watched our wedding video this evening, with all the kids and my parents at our side, I just think back to what I had visioned in my head as my future 13 years ago on this day. I couldn't have been happier to have Chip at my side- pledging his love and committment to us forever. I was so happy to be committed to "us" as well- although I really had no clue what it would entail. But here we are...marking 13 years of marriage in our lives and it's really a wonderful thing for me to see that although my 'vision' and reality have very rarely even aligned with one another, that the story is still charming, full and always adventure-filled. Not in the way I pictured it...but the fact is I feel blessed to play a leading role alongside Chip everyday.

The "worse" has been far worse than I ever dreamed it could be.
Yet the "better" has and continues to exceed my expectations.
Bee stings and all.
I publicly announce my love and committment to Chip and to my family again today- just as I did to him 13 years ago. I didn't know then what our future held, but I knew Chip was the very one I wanted to be beside me as it unfolded before us. One day- one moment at a time. There have been struggles. There have been miracles. There have been tears of sorrow and tears of joy. There has been so much, that I can't help but love him more- for and through all of it.
Happy annivesary, Chip. I love you today.
I will loved you yesterday.
I will love you tomorrow and forever.
Thank you for being with me. Through it all.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Nesting... and More Partying.

Okay. I must be almost maxing blogger out with the number of pictures I have posted on my blog today. I just had some more stuff to share and thus the pics and double-post.
My friend, Wilna, posted a SIS Fashionista Challenge earlier this week and included a downloadable pdf file of the cute bird images you see on the cupcakes. As soon as I saw them I knew I wanted to have a little cupcake-birdfest and today happened to be the perfect day for such an event.
I was thinking of my family in Minnesota and how everyone is still so shocked and sad at the sudden death of Chip's uncle was his funeral. {He was just 47 and had a sudden ruptured aorta and there was nothing that could have saved him...we're all very sad and will miss him at all our family events for a very long time.}
In the midst of all this though, there has been so much playtime and fun with my kids- as though I am compensating for the sorrow by over-doing the fun. But I also know how little time I will have to do this sort of thing very soon- with a new baby about to burst on the scene {which, incidentally, you can click here to see the latest self-belly pics at 33 weeks} as well as my kiddos about to start back to school. I just know how things get as summer wraps up. NOW is the time for fun and enjoying the chance to do this sort of stuff- "just because".
The girls were so thrilled with our "Just because tea party". It was extra special because I pulled out all the stops- including the special tea set {Teagan got it for Christmas one year and it is still very special to me.}, the colored frosting and decorated cupcakes and of course, the little birds to make it all the more fun. We took lots of pictures and there was more laughing and sticky fingers and crumbs all over by the end of our little party, but it was so worth the effort that went into this brief moment in time.
So what's up with me in a bathrobe?! Well, I splurged on myself and bought a pink robe {for $10 bucks!} at Target this week and figured I will be getting lots of use out of it as I lounge around and care for the baby soon. I thought I'd show you that we are in the process of setting up a nursery and I feel so 'ready' just because the bassinet is all washed and waiting. =) I do have a few things collected for the layette- isn't that onesie cute! It was made for me by another one of my new scrap friends, Amy Tan.
I am feeling very blessed these days with so much anticipation, so much to be thankful for each day, and most importantly for the energy and health and strength to make little "big" stuff happen. Life isn't always cupcakes and parties, but when it is, it feels really good and I want to savor it that much more. Everyday is a day to celebrate. I'm so glad I had another chance to do that with my girls today. I think Teagan must even smile down on us when she sees us using her tea set and Barbies and all. I will always miss her- especially on reflective days- but I am also so glad for the opportunity to live with new Joy and make new memories along the way.