Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Making stuff.

Have you ever made cake box cookies? I'm telling you, they are easy and tasty. I whipped up a batch of chocolate chocolate chunk ones today, along with Ava's help and thought I'd share the recipe link with you here. Easy and good...did I say that already? My tip is to underbake them by a minute or two. They are thin and chewy that way- just the way we like them!
The kids have been painting for the past four or five days on our dining table. The pages and books are drying and I'm swamped with clutter on my counters and buffet table. But for some reason, I have no motivation to clean any of it up. I think I secretly like piles, clutter and chaos. I think I've slowly given in to the reality that I am outnumbered and therefore I am going to have piles and stuff around as long as there are kids around.
Unless a team appears at my front door from one of those TLC clean house shows, I think I'm destined to just get used to the idea of living with stuff. As long as we can still eat our meals at the table, I think it's all okay in the end. I took the day off of doing laundry today and so far nobody has died as a result. So maybe letting stuff pile up once in awhile is not such a big deal afterall. Half the fun of messes is making them, isn't it?!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Five months and counting...

Guess who had his first rice cereal today? Crew is growing up! The top photo was actually taken just after I wiped his face... he looks like he was waiting for a little bit more. It went really well and as you can see in the second photo, he's very interested in food. Or maybe it was just the flames from all Brock's birthday candles. Either way, he's interested. =)
I couldn't help but post a few more photos- from among the hundred or so I take each week. I actually feel like I restrain myself from posting too many pictures and boring my non-family readers around here. But sometimes I just can't help myself and I know the grandmas always love lots of photos.
Other than taking pictures of Crew, I've still been bogged down with extra laundry. Wyndham was the latest in our family to get the flu bug. That's now 4 down and hopefully the last 3 of us will get to skip out on that fun. Which really isn't fun at all!
I think that's my biggest complaint of having a large family. When a virus comes around it goes from one to the next and hangs around way too long. I'm ready for this flu season to be over!
Thankfully Crew kept all his cereal down. And he looked cute doing it too...don't ya think?! =)

Friday, February 20, 2009


All of the things pictured here are things I have spied online recently and can't help but love. {I don't claim rights to any of them.} I think I must be in a muted zone right now because I didn't realize, until I posted these images altogether, that all of them share similar colors/tone. I'm terrible at keeping track of where I find stuff I like- I have a tendency to click and save images into folders, but I rarely ever keep track of the original sources. I plan to edit this post and link up all the neat stuff pictured here today. Just give me a bit of time and I'll go hunting for sources. (Here's where I saw the cute cupcake garland.) (And here's a link to the rainclouds canvas.) (Found the pinatas via this blog.) So, other than the bird wallpaper, I'm all set on sources this time around!
Speaking of love, besides felt clouds and expensive pinatas (the ones pictured above cost $135.00!!) and cupcake liner garlands, I have been thinking about what love really, truly is, and just how hard it is to love consistently in my life. I am good at kissing my kids goodnight and telling them I love them throughout the day, but I have to admit I fall short at 'loving them' when they yell at one another over who's turn it is to play the Wii or when they have to be called 6 times before coming to the table to eat, and other various moments when they're being less than perfect kids.
I find it hard to love Chip when the kids have drained my energy for the day and he walks into the house after work and finds me tired and short-tempered. I find that more often than not, love is not an easy thing for me to do- unless I am consciously making the effort to show love. I am realizing more and more that most of the things I do- my "acts of love" for my family- are so routine that they end up being overlooked. I'm sure if I quit doing laundry for a few days, the piles of dirty clothes would start to make a statement. But in doing daily loads of laundry, it just becomes a "chore" and nobody 'sees' it as love. It's expected and it just gets done.
However, I believe that in doing things for others- our actions- express our love more than simply saying the words, "I love you".
As I continue to strive to live an intentional life, meaning being fully aware and engaged in the things I do and say (or the things I don't do or say), I am finding that there are ways to show love and be a 'better person' if I just act on certain things. It seems like such a simple concept, and it is- but it's not always easy to implement- especially on the long, hard days that come our way at times.
Today, I did a little thing. I took the garbage out to the end of our driveway. Chip most often brings the garbage out on Friday mornings as he's getting the kids loaded up for school. But today he had a meeting and was gone, but rushed home to pick up the kids and drop them off at school. I knew he would be in a bit of a hurry. I knew it was a chore he normally does, but I also knew that by taking the garbage bin out it would save him some trouble. So I did it, all the while knowing it would make his life a bit easier.
When he came home, one of the first things he said was, "You must like to take the garbage out... I see you beat me to it today". I said, "I don't like to take the garbage out, but I know you don't either".
Now, before you start to think I am some superwife or want some bragging rights, I'll tell you I mess up more than I get it right. I am a work in progress. My family knows I love them all very much, but I blow a lot of opportunities to show them just how much I care. I am challenging myself to love in ways that I wouldn't automatically love- in ways beyond just doing the 'usuals'. I am wanting to push myself to love- even when it's not comfortable or expected. I have known what love is for a long time, and I know there are times when it's wasy to love and times when it's hard to love.
But no matter the circumstances, I want to be a person who loves no matter the level of ease. I want to be a person that loves. Period.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To see the goodness

Brock is feeling better and had an okay birthday- despite being sick with the flu. Chip is on the mend too and I have some laundry to get caught up on, but thankfully, Wyndham, Crew and Ava have not gotten the bug. I'm even hopeful that they may miss this round of it- lucky kids!
Guess who turns five months old today?! It's amazing to me after having as many babies as I have had, that they still seems to grow up so fast and grow out of that newborn stage way too quickly. I feel like I have done a better job about taking pictures and letting things go during the past 5 months, in order to savor and be in these moments that much more. But they still seem to have gone by me in a blink of an eye. Above, you see a scrap page and letter that I made in order to capture a bit of what was on my heart and mind in the early moments. {You can see the pages up close in this link.}
As I watched Brock blow out 10 birthday candles last night, I couldn't help but think that time really does move too quickly. Although I feel like some (most) days I am just doing mundane things over and over [ie. laundry, dishes, making beds, changing diapers, picking up toys], I can see how this way of life won't last forever. It really is just a season of life.
To tell you the truth though, I have failed miserably the past few months. I owe Chip and my kids and apology for the way I have been short-sighted in this regard. I have been lacking patience at times when I've needed to exercise it, and I have been crabby over things that really are insignificant in the scheme of things. (Side note here...do not take children under 10 to see the movie Coraline...that's just a bit of free nitty.gritty. advice.)
I have to say that one of my big struggles in life is striking a balance where I feel that what I'm doing in life actually matters beyond this moment. I can be so good at just sitting back and taking life in at times, but then when the days play out the same (or worse, as they did with the flu in our house the past week or so) I find myself questioning the purpose of all I do from morning til night.
Then I have to stop and check myself. I'll tell you that truthfully, the hardest part of 'living' for me is keeping an eternal perspective in the 'low days'. I struggle with the 'fairness of life' when we have down days in our house. I fight the battle of saying and thinking, "Haven't we been through enough already?". Chip can tell you that I don't always win that battle in my mind and that's when my attitude takes a major turn and I'm no fun to be around.
I struggle with wanting things be easy and carefree all the time, when the fact is life can be hard. I struggle with the reality that even though I've done some incredibly difficult things- like signing Teagan's heart away when there was no longer any hope of her survival- it doesn't change the way our days play out now and in the future.
That's the hard part.
I'll admit right now that I wrestle with letting go of wanting life to be 'fair' and clinging to the promises that God has a plan and it might include suffering all along the way. I sometimes forget that so many times the rewards that come from knowing and trusting His ways don't always come to us this side of Heaven. I'm writing all this today to remind myself once again that the way through the 'down days' is to see the goodness that has occurred in my life and to remember that God can use even the toughest of times for His purposes and glory.
These are hard lessons; you know what I'm talking about if you've been through them or are going through them right now. But I do know from my life and the lives of many others, that the Goodness is always there. We just have to seek it with all our hearts.
Therein lies the purpose of our lives- seeking Him and surrendering to His ways- no matter where that may take us. Sometimes the journey may seem long, but even I know it really does all happen in a blink of an eye.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A whole decade!

Happy birthday to the greatest 10 year old I know!
We all love you very much, Brock.
In one decade we have shared a lot of laughter, tears, hugs, beach time, Spongebob Squarepants, movies, music, musicals, playtime, whipped cream and so much more!
I remember what a warm, mellow day it was in Florida the day you were born. You were such an easy-going, quiet baby. Teagan was so happy to have a new baby brother and your dad was thrilled to have a son. Since this day in 1999, I have watched you grow into an amazing boy. You love learning and trying your best- even though we have to push you sometimes. =) You love outdoors and computers and playing with your sisters and loving on Crew too. You love history- especially American history, although you just read Diary of Anne Frank and you were inspired by her legacy.
You love being a peacemaker and hardly ever need to be told more than once to do something when asked. You are thoughtful, caring and even sarcastic- at just the right time. Your dream is to do something on Broadway someday, but even if that never happens, just know I think you are a star already!
Here's wishing you a very happy birthday (even though you had to miss school because you're sick). I hope the next decade is even better!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Candy hearts and cards.

These are a few pictures taken in our home yesterday. The kids are off of school for today and Monday, and so they had their Valentine's Day parties yesterday. There is just something so fun about getting surprise monkey balloons from Grandma and Grandpa, packages with candy and new dvd's and of course, all those little cards and treats from your teachers and friends too.
I loved Valentine's Day when I was a kid. I still love to make and send cards- as I stated here yesterday. I asked Brock to choose a number between 1 and 44 from the comments left here and it turns out that Julie (wife,mom,nurse) gets to watch her mailbox for a little something from me. {Just email me your address: nitty.grittyjody@yahoo.com .}
We also couldn't help but have a little fun with Crew while he sat kicking and smiling and rolling over for the first time too, as the kids opened and looked their their goodies. I found a conversation heart that read "marry me" on it and took a picture of Crew sporting it on his onesie. (If you click on his photo you can read the little heart.) I'm sure his future wife will get a kick out of that picture someday. =)
You can see a few more valentine's day cards here or here.
I'd send you all a card if I had more time in my day. Or less laundry to do...today I'm already on my third load of the day- with two more to go. Happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crazy. This is post #898.

I've been working on making and sending homemade valentines. Some of you will be lucky enough to get a little card from me in your mailbox. I am almost finished with my cards this year, but had to share this link... to one of my *new* favorite inspiration blogs... Inchmark...by Brooke Reynolds. These valentines you see are from her blog.
I happen to think that her little valentine treat boxes are adorable. I would be happy getting one of these in my mailbox. No matter what was tucked inside. Cute, cute, cute.

So, just because I'm in a lovey, festive mood, I am happy to randomly select one of you that leaves a comment here and I will send you a little card in the mail. It might not make it to your box by Valentine's day, but it will come with love and thanks inside it regardless of when it shows up.
Just tell me what you love right now- whether it's a flavor of ice cream, a fun color combination, a Bible verse or quote that speaks volumes, or a link to something really cute.
I'll start.
I LOVE that God has given Jaymun a miracle and has allowed him to be cured of his cancer. Such amazing, wonderful and definitely praise-worthy! I love when God works in ways we would never expect.
I know the Kaat family appreciates our ongoing prayers...and praise for little Jaymun.
Thank you and happy commenting about things you love!
P.S. Bella is still home from school today, but starting to feel better. So far, she is still the only one of the seven of us here in our home, to get sick. I'm praying that God will keep it that way too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In the past 24 hours I have been hugged, kissed, danced for, smacked jokingly, jumped on, spit up on, thrown up on, pooped on and been told 'I love you' by my children. Being a parent has its highs and lows- that's for certain. It just sometimes surprises and/or overwhelms me how these highs and lows can come so close together. Sometimes even happening simultaneously. If you don't have kids, consider yourself blessed for the fact that you don't have anyone to wake you suddenly in the night due to the stomach flu. Consider it a blessing that you don't have to wash 'pieces' out of long hair at 1:30 a.m. Consider yourself blessed that you didn't have to change pants and do laundry first thing the next morning due to a diaper not 'absorbing' all it should. Sometimes diapers that claim to be leakproof don't live up to those claims. That's all I'm going to say about that!
Although being a parent is the toughest job on earth, it does have its rewards. I will say that the good definitely outweighs the bad, even though it's hard to believe that in the midst of the long, sick nights. We're in the middle of the sick-mix right now. It's not fun or pretty, but it makes one appreciate health that much more. Bella is down for the count right now, and I'm praying ferverently that none of the rest of us will join her. Feel free to pray with me...and for me too!
I am happy to share the pictures posted here with you today of Ava and me. She is our ball of energy these days. She is our entertainment much of the time- from morning til night. I snapped these pictures as we were headed out the door to pick the kids up from school last week. Don't you just get a good sense of her personality from those first two photos?! That look says so much...so 'her'. She took off running and wanted me to try to 'catch her' with my camera. Silly, lovable girl.
I got to share a bit of her when I was invited to create something for my friend, Claudine Hellmuth, who is a SIS Fashionista, talented designer and author of this fun, new book/kit. It's called "The Scrapbooker's Creativity Kit" and you can find it online here. Claudine has such a fun, unique style and process for making things. She has been featured on Martha Stewart Living and has her own line of product out too...like I said, she's very talented! She will be teaching an online class based on this book/kit- you can register for it here. Or get the class and book all in one by clicking here.
Those of us who were featured in her book were asked to design a page/project based on two colors and a word prompt. It is so fun to see so many different results using the same starting point. The kits not only offers lots of ideas, but also includes so many inspiration pieces from so many different designers. I am so glad I was able to be included among such a great group of people. You can see Ava's full page here. She was proud to be in a book too.
After a long night last night, and more laundry and household chores to do today, I am trying to squeeze in a bit of happiness too. Today that has already included a stop at Starbuck's with Brock before I dropped him off at school. I'm still enjoying a personalized gift card given to me by Chip's mom for my birthday. Simple, but so wonderful and needed on a day like today when the little things make a big difference! Happiness also means I will {hopefully} be getting some more handmade Valentine's in the mail. Ava and Wyndham are helping me with that fun project. Nothing says love and happiness like a handmade card sent in the 'real' mail. =)
Yes, life has it's ups and downs- highs and lows. When we take them in stride, especially the lows, it's all somehow managable. Sometimes they're even fun!

Friday, February 06, 2009

She's no ordinary girl...

She's so much more than that. She loves the color orange. She loves the letter "w". She speaks volumes without ever saying a word. She is happy almost all the time. She got new polka-dot bedding and dreamsicle sheets from her Grandma Karen this past week.
She loved going to bed and sleeping in late before. She loves it even moreso now. The most challenging thing for her to do each day is to get out from under all the coziness and get up and ready for school and/or therapy.
You can just see the happiness on her face and in her eyes.
I have sometimes ached so much for all the things she may never get to do in her life. But the more I see her so happy and full of love over the simple things from day to day, the more I find myself thankful that she may never lead a 'normal' life.
I think about the fact that she may never have to fill out tax forms or find late fees on her credit card statements. I think she will be lucky to never worry about her weight. Or feel peer pressure to follow the crowd and find herself in situation she wished she wasn't in. I'm more and more grateful that she can express how she feels, yet she rarely gets upset or even cries.
The more I watch her grow and learn, the more it humbles me and yet makes me so proud to be her mom at the same time.
It's hard to even put into words how much her challenges have affected our day-to-day lives. But not a day goes by that I don't thank God for sparing her life and giving us the gift of Wyndham to enjoy everyday.
It's true. She's no ordinary girl. And I must admit, I like it that way. =)
I love you, Wyndham...you're an extraordinary girl!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

In case you don't Facebook...

This is Chip's profile picture on Facebook. He posted a list of "25 Random Things About Me" (almost everyone I know is doing this over there...I haven't made my list yet) the other day and I have to admit I laughed outloud at some of them and fell in love with him all over again because of this simple list.
So, since it's been awhile since he's guest blogged for me, or since I've written anything glowing about him, allow me to share his list with you today. {Disclaimer: It has nothing to do with his #1 thing on his list...I just wanted to share this. He's a heck-of-a-guy, that's all. Oh, and I happen to be his #1 fan too.}
I love you, Chip.
Especially for number 13 on your list.
25 Random Things about Me...by Chip Ferlaak
1. I have been married for over 13 years to a wonderful lady named Jody. Most people thing she is great and special. They think this because she has put up with me for 13+ years.
2. I have six kids, one in heaven and 5 here with me. They are wild and crazy and I get there names mixed up all the time, but I can remember stupid, inane things that happended to me in 3rd grade.
3. My wife led me to a special relationship with Christ that is my lifeblood. I can't figure out how people can handle life and death without Him.
4. I love being a PGA Golf Professional, even on Ladies Days. My favorite quote about being a golf professional is "I may never be a millionaire, but I get to live like one." This is a reference to the many courses I have played that regular people never will get the opportunity too. Except Barry Rageth and Jamie Wishart who get to accompany me at many of these courses, but not all:)
5. I love to cook and am generally regarded as a fantastic one. Classic French and Traditional Southern are my favorites and specialties.
6. I can't wait to embrace Teagan again when I go to Heaven.
7. I love Ireland and would move there in an instant. The most friendly people and beautiful county I have been. Plus you have not had a Guiness until you have had it in Ireland, it is definately different, and despite rumors to the contrary they serve it cold.
8. In retrospect, I have only had one bad day.
9. I watch way too much TV.
10. I hate pets. I don't pick up poop.
11. I love history and politics. My favorite quote is, "Trying to plan the future without knowing the past is like trying to pick up a bucket while standing in it."
12. Sports teams I love: Vikes, Gophs, Twins, Wild, Johnnies, Fighting Irish in no paticular order.
13. I think white belts and pink pants are awesome.
14. I love that I get a new, free set of golf clubs every year, in addition to free balls, shoes, and everything else to do with golf. One of the advantages of my position. And the fact it drives Wishart nuts.
15. I love that Brock is intelligent and very artistic. He has incredible stage presence.
16. I love Wyndham's attitude and work ethic. She has had to deal with more in her short life than most people do in a lifetime, and she smiles through the pain, shots, disabilities, doctor appointments. I have learned so much from her.
17. I love that Bella is and independent spirit, looks like Teagan, and can go from terror to sweethart in a nanosecond.
18. I love that Ava is the craziest kid I have ever met. But, she is going to give me many a gray hair when she is a teenager.
19. I love Crew's smile and the way he smells. (He is still to young to do much else.)
20. I am very passionate, which can be both good and bad.
21. I hate yardwork and wish I could have Brady Bunch grass.
22. I watch Fox News and actually believe they are fair and balanced. Don't attack me.
23. I drive a hybrid, so stop attacking me for liking Fox News.
24. I don't believe in Global Warming...step outside if you don't believe me.
25. I don't like complainers and whiners.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Leggies and stuff.

At just a few weeks old I took some pictures of Crew next to a dollar bill so to capture a sense of his size. Now, at 4 and a half months, I am glad I have that photo and some new ones to compare his growth to them. I also love these new little things- leggings for babies. They are cute and make diaper changes easy when wore with onesies. Or alone. =) You can find lots of styles on Etsy.com. The ones Crew has on here are from good old Target. How can you not love Target?! {Jo!}
I also scrapped a few pages with the new SIStv Collection that goes on sale soon. Maybe even later today. If you like bold, funky colors and patterns, this is the collection for you! Here's a link to the page I did of Brock at 9. Since he's turning 10 in fifteen days, I figured I should get a jump on his 9-year old photos.
That's all I've got today. Nothing earth-shattering. But around here, that's always good news. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 02, 2009

For my friend =)

Happy Birthday, Rachael! You and I have had the best times where buttercream is involved. I hope you have a great day and if nothing else, I hope these photos help you recall some fantastic memories. I know they did for me!
I miss you and Katie Holmes' cousin too. =)
Happy Groundhog's day to everyone else reading this. I hope you get to experience the world's best buttercream someday too! I hope spring comes early this year too.