Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekend fun- Part 2.

Here's the wrap-up of photos for Memorial Day weekend and the fun time we all had with my mom visiting from Minnesota. I am so grateful to everyone who has served and who continues to serve our country in so many different capacities to ensure that we live free. That freedom is such a privilege and I want to say thank you- to any and ALL who sacrifice so much- including those families who live without their loved ones while they are away or have paid the ultimate for this freedom.
We so often take for granted that we can go to carnivals and church and play outdoors and simply enjoy whatever life has to offer us without giving it much thought. But I know that the smiles we all shared have come at a steep price for others. I love that this visit with my mom allowed us to make some wonderful, new memories, yet we still talked about our past and remembered the people we love who are no longer with us. We remember the past, but we don't live it in.
I think that's so important for being able to live a full life after the loss of loved ones.
Teagan would have been in the middle of all our fun and memories. She was just that way and I'm sure the years wouldn't have changed that about her. I know she would have licked her bowl of cream puff and whipped cream and strawberries clean- just as Ava did. She would have squealed on the "fast rides" and helped with the gardening and laughed as much as the rest of the kids. I'll admit it- I still miss her everyday. But I also know to appreciate every smile and hug that the rest of us share that much more. Memorial day weekend was special. As special as some of the other "ordinary days" we've had this month too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Goodbye and Hello.

Our Memorial Day weekend has flown by all too quickly. The sun shone almost the whole time. Grandma Genie showered the kids with love and attention. They ate it up and gave it right back twice as much. She leaves for home tomorrow. We're going to miss her. A lot. {More photos of some of our fun coming soon.}
This is our last week of school too. We're all very excited to welcome summer. We're hoping to love summer. A lot.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Once upon a time...

In the months after Teagan's death and in light of my injuries and all my family's recovery that seemed to define us and be the only thing on our hearts and minds from morning til night, and often throughout the whole night, I wondered if we could ever feel or care about anything other than our pain. It was so intense and all-consuming. I couldn't imagine that the hurt would ever lessen enough to be able to live a "normal life" ever again.
Part of me never wanted to feel "normal" again, because the truth is, that would be it's okay to live without Teagan and the relaity of how our lives had changed in one instant. But as the years have passed, and as the pictures and words I share here testify, our lives have changed to include lots of "normal days" and caring about the little things of life.
This morning feels like a really wonderful, ordinary day in my not-so-fairytale life.
Ava pulled her little chair to the counter and just helped me make banana bread which is now baking in the oven and filling the house with a comfortable aroma. Crew is happy and crawling and smells like the mashed bananas I fed him as I made the bread. Brock and Bella are at school- counting down the days til summer is here. =)
Wyndham just started feeling better after being sick for the past 3 days. She's still in jammies and is gearing up for a bath. Chip is on his way to pick up my mom from the Chicago airport. We're all very excited to have Grandma Genie coming for a long weekend visit. We don't get to see any of our extended families often enough- so this is definitely something special, without a lot of fanfare though, like at Christmastime.
As I closed the oven door on the little loaves of banana bread, I closed my eyes and thanked God for bringing all my family so far. It's these kind of moments- the ones where all my senses are engaged and I actually can look back and see that it's been a struggle worth fighting for. The struggle back to finding and creating a "new normal" that is equally as good as the life we once had. Different than it was once upon a time, but truly ordinary and wonderful in its own special way.
May you be able to say, "Thank you God for the gifts you've given to me in my life, including and maybe especially for, the struggles". It's a joy that gives life a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Even when clouds come...

I made this little decoration to remind me to see joy in my everyday. There are a few "layers" to it that make it more meaningful. The first thing is that the piece of cardboard used as the base of this wallhanging was torn from the edge of a box that Wyndham's shot medication was shipped in. I really don't find joy in giving her a shot every night, but it is a part of life we can't avoid. In using a piece of that box, it helped show me that I can choose to see good- even in things that hurt.
The little clouds and umbrella represent to me the cloudy days that sometimes darken our lives- but we have the choice to "cover ourselves". My 'umbrella' is the Hope I hold in my head and heart of heaven and knowing God's in control of everything. Clouds included. =)
The butterflies sort of speak to the rebirth- the 'newness' of each day we are given. They also make me think of Teagan. She LOVED chasing butterflies and I also have friends that come to mind when I think of butterflies. They are fun and funny to me at the same time.
God never promised any of us a perfect, easy life. He did promise to give us comfort when needed and strength for the journey. I'll leave you with a couple of verses that are so meaningful. I hope they encourage you that even if hardship clouds your life right now, there is joy under, behind, or even in the midst of those clouds just waiting to pour down on you.
Psalm 126:5-6
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seeing joy in every day...

Seeing joy in every day is something I've been intentional about as part of a new Biblestudy I'm doing online with some girlfriends. It's such a simple concept, but not always easy to do. What I have noticed this past week is that children are so good at it! My little Ava has more joy before breakfast than I do in my whole day most of the time!
Watching my kids and the way they get excited over the smallest things- like an unexpected bag of mini powdered donuts on Saturday morning, or seeing ducks waddle down the street in our neighborhood or even laughing when someone says something funny* that wasn't intended to be funny- these things make me wonder where there joy comes from? [*That was Ava too. The Pink Panther cartoon came on our tv and she said in a very loud voice, "Oh! I love this one because it's pink!" We all laughed at her- she's charming like that sometimes.]
I know that joy comes from many things, but sometimes I lose sight of joy in the every day. Just this week I've seen it in the little things. It's a wonderful thing- no matter what age we are.
So, for the sake of my own mind wrapping around the concept of joy, I am listing valid reasons for joy in life. Feel free to add to my list in the comments. I'd love to see where you experience or notice joy in your own life too!
1) Joy comes when we know we are secure.
This is the first thing I noticed about joy- especially as a I watch my kids. Crew is happy when I am holding him or when he is familiar with his surroundings. His mood gets much more serious when someone else tries to hold him that he doesn't know (like at church) or when he is somewhere new (like the grocery store). He isn't at ease when he's not secure.
In my other kids I see those same traits- it's hard to be joyful when you're not sure of the people or places around you. I think as adults it's true too.
We get hung up and can't experience joy as easily when we are unsure of a relationship or feeling unsure about finances or job situations or have health concerns. In order to be able to experience joy, it seems to be that we must first feel secure.
I think that's why knowing who we are in Christ- that we are saved from sin and eternal death- is the most important step toward having real joy. Once we know we are loved and forgiven and have the hope of Heaven, our circumstances and relationships can't steal our joy. It is through Christ that we can have joy- even when life throws us curveballs.
2) Joy can happen anytime, anywhere.
I think kids do this best too. They are so much better about just living in the moment and taking life as it comes. Bathtime can be a full-blow happy event, whereas for most of us, personal hygiene is something that we just have to keep up. It' sometimes the one thing that wakes us up in the morning- that hot shower is your jumpstart for the day- not something you jump out of bed all excited for. The more we do things then, it seems we lose sight of the 'joy' that is in those things. We take a lot of really wonderful things for granted too. I've noticed that being grateful for little things each day helps me see that there is a lot more joy around me that I just don't take advantage of often enough. Joy is there for the taking!
3) Joy is a choice.
Just as I said there is so much we take for granted, well, we have to acknowledge blessings in order to experience the joy in them. I've been working on this for a long time and have actually come to like doing loads of laundry most days, because they serve as reminders that I am lucky to have so many great people in my immediate life. I blow it so many times too- letting a whole day be "ruined" at times over something trivial. I am trying to remind myself in the heat of "big drama" in and around my home to let things go, and in so doing, there is more chance for joy to show itself again.
4) Joy is different for each of us.
What brings me joy may not be what brings you joy. That's okay too. I am getting better at knowing what my kids love and sometimes letting them 'break a few rules' having whipped cream out of the can at breakfast... is perfectly fine. It's a great joy for them. I find that joy in others often brings me joy too.
Editing photos and playing around creatively brings me joy- so I spent some time on and the pictures of Ava here today are the result. Chip would rather play a golf Pro-Am and that doesn't mean one of us is better or wrong than the other. It's in fact, what makes us all unique and special. Knowing what brings joy to the people around you is a great help at birthdays, in times of need, or just to turn an ordinary day into something extra special.
5) The world will zap our joy if we allow it the opportunity.
It's so much easier to get dragged down with the news headlines and demands from our daily lives than it is to be filled with joy each day. How many times can one little negative comment stick with you and affect your mood for a whole day?! You oftentimes don't have to do anything and you can get depressed or discouraged or down- about petty, insignificant things too. But to counter that it takes effort and energy. Joy doesn't seem to come naturally, even though so much of it is free and based on attitude and choice. I have to stop and think about it or as I said, choose it, or even create it, in order to experience it.
But the good news is that Joy is always available.
It is always good for the heart and soul.
It turns the darkest days into days worthy of dancing.
It is simple, beautiful and free.
I'm challenging myself to try and live with more Joy.
It can make all the difference in the world.
Now it's your turn... what do you know to be true about joy in your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A major milestone...

Crew's first Ritz cracker. 5'09
It appears that necessary fine motor skills and pincher grasp will be mastered before his two bottom teeth break through his gums. Photos taken of this milestone...35. Moments like this are not to be missed. I did that with Teagan, Brock, Wyndham, Bella and Ava. I'm so happy that I've finally learned my lesson. Even if it's taken 6 kids. {click photo series to enlarge}

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So proud.

These pictures were taken less than 2 months apart. The top one was taken at the very end of March and the second one was taken on Sunday. I want to publicly tell Chip how proud I am of his efforts and willpower as he continues to make his health a top priority in his life. His efforts are paying off in many ways, and I just want to recognize his hard work!
Chip has lost more than 20 pounds in the past several weeks and that is obvious. He has a goal set for himself, but in the meantime I am just so proud of how good he feels and how well he has embraced the changes he has made in his life. His diet isn't anything "special", except in most part he chooses healthy food options, eats smaller portions and still eats a few treats now and then. Only those treats are things like 100 calorie ice cream bars or one cookie instead of a small handful. In addition to eating and snacking healthy, he has been intentional about working out and exercising. It wasn't easy the first few times, but even in the last week or so I have seen him "want" to exercise! That's a major change for him- he has gone biking in the evening instead of watching tv. He has put workout sessions into the schedule of his day and he has stuck to that schedule.
I think it's something to be proud of. I hope he knows I support his health choices fully. I know changing bad habits and altering one's lifestyle is never easy. But when you believe you are worth it, take small, intentional steps in the right direction each day, don't get discouraged when you take a step or two back and start really feeling and noticing the results of your hard work, well that is just something to celebrate. But maybe not with a big piece of cake smothered in buttercream, but rather a round of golf or a bowl of fresh berries. Or both. =)
If you are working towards a goal or overcoming obstacles in your own life, I hope you know you are worth it, and I wish you all the best as you challenge yourself and sacrifice things in order to become more of who you want to be. And remember, everyday is a new day full of opportunities and choices- make them count!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day wish

I got a small wish of mine today- a family picture with everyone in it! It's no small feat with the schedules we keep and the number of little people to get posed for a moment, and as you can see, Crew was asleep. But I still got my picture.
I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a wonderful bunch of kids and a truly amazing husband too. I love them all more than I show them most of the time. I am happy to be the one that gets to do their laundry, make their meals, brush their hair and teeth and even step on their toys that end up all over our house. I am lucky to know their likes and dislikes and recognize the sounds of their laughter individually and I know their cries too. I feel blessed that, in spite of wanting to never have kids, I ended up with more than a handful. They give love in abundance to me and try to make me happy. They are growing and learning new things every day. I treasure the time I get to spend with them and feel privileged to have them as my own.
Mother's Day is one in which I am happy to call my mom and tell her how much I love her too. She's a gift to me as much as any of my kids. I am lucky on both ends of the "mom spectrum".
I do know however, that this day is a tough one for many women though too. Many of whom I know who would love more than anything to have a child of their own. Many who have lost babies or children, feel that ache and emptiness even moreso on days such as this. I know many people who have lost their moms and that void can never be filled. It is magnified on a day made for celebrating moms. So to all of you who marked this day with smiles or tears, I want you to know you are cared for, prayed for and not alone. Some of us know both sides to Mother's Day. I felt it today too as I imagined just how it would feel to hug Teagan and hear her laugh again. I won't know that for a long time. But I still consider today a special gift.

Friday, May 08, 2009


While baking a double batch of zucchini bread in the morning, Chip brought me a Starbuck's latte and oatmeal. [Nice.]
While he had stepped inside the house for just a minute, he left the car running and door open. He came back to his car, after making me a happy, to find a big, stray dog had jumped in car and muddied the seats and dashboard all over. [Not nice.]
Later on, we brought bread to deserving teachers and staff at school. [Hopefully they thought it was nice.]
Came home and enjoyed the sunshine and cherry blossoms outside our front door. [Very nice.]
Children got out of car when dropped off from school- scurrying and arguing. [Not nice.]
Calmed them quickly with afterschool snack and listened to the recap of their day. [Nice.]
Kids in jammies and tucked into bed at their usual bedtime. [Nice.]
Crew awake throughout most of the night...teething and stuffy nose. [Not nice at all!]
Rocking him and realizing these sorts of days go by so quickly, I closed my eyes and thanked God for every blessing He has given me and asked for more patience and insight to "be in" and even enjoy the not-so-nice moments. [Undeserved...but very nice.]
May 6, 2009... a day that could easily blur from one to the next, but I'm learning to savor and remember these "ordinary" days as much as the "special" days. [Nice.]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You can just tell sometimes.

Crew got a little plaid/argyle outfit from Grandma Karen the other week and looks like such a little sport when he wears it. If there was any question who he looked like before, it is settled now. He even dresses like his Daddy! =) He already loves lacrosse and had his first 'practice' with Brock and Chip the other night. Being outside is a sure way to calm him down and make him happy.
As for Wyndham, I asked her if she wanted to hold Crew for a picture. She didn't say yes or no, but when I set the Gameboy aside and put Crew in her lap, well, it was obvious. The answer was "no". She really wanted to play Gameboy instead. Sometimes people ask us how we know what Wyndham wants when she doesn't speak. The answer is sometimes she uses sign language. Sometimes she nods yes or no. Sometimes she points. Sometimes she uses her Dynavox communication device. Sometimes she gives you a big grin. Other times you can just tell. =)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Music and lyrics.

You may notice that I changed my playlist up just a bit and also turned the autostart back on. If you don't want the music on while you read, just click the pause button on the player to the left side of the posts.
I was recently introduced to the group Downhere, who are first on my playlist right now. I'm really enjoying their music and lyrics and wanted to post the words to their song, "Not About Wings". So poignant and true...
Lyrics to Not About Wings :
Wake dove, stretch your feathers,
Worry not love, how far you could fall.
Fly now, darling find how; A broken wing can feel the best to soar on.
It's not the perch you've climbed to reach,
But the broken wing that's made you meek; that's when He lifts you high.
Believing is not about seeing,
Faith is not about reaching, and on this journey I keep learning,
Flying is not about wings.

Sparrow trapped by a window,
every resource spent for just one goal.
It's not by work you find your escape,
but in your defeat when you seek His face;
that's when He lifts you high.

Maybe you need to hear this too...

I turned on the radio for about 30 seconds today and this is, in part, what I heard in that short amount of time...
"There is a Power in this world that's bigger than the circumstances you walk in."
It really struck me and spoke to me in a way that I needed to hear. It's easy to get wrapped up in our problems, isn't it?! How great it is to know that God didn't just create this world and then leave us all to fend for ourselves. He cares intimately about every one of us and offers us strength and patience and grace and abilities and whatever we need to go through our days. He cares about our great days and our not-so-great days.
He gives us new mornings and fresh starts and offers unconditional love no matter how many times we fall down or doubt or fail. He is good and promises to meet our every need. He even knows our needs before we do. He is faithful to those whose trust is in Him.
I needed to hear that again today.
I hope to encourage anyone else that needs to hear it too.
Nothing we face is too big or beyond the realm of God. He can do it. Our task is to trust fully in Him.
I often wonder how people go through their days without having God to lean on and carry them through. I don't know what I would do without His care.
I need it- every hour of every day!
Maybe you do too!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Say hi to me 'in person'!

Happy (NSD) scrapping Saturday! I've got a challenge posted and am chatting here for awhile. Stop by and say hello. I'm ready for some conversation and fun!