Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter fun.

Brock got a snowbaord from his Grandma Karen and Grandpa John this Christmas. He is getting better at it everyday. We have a small hill to the side of our house and it's the perfect size for learning how to snowboard. Crew had his first sled ride with Chip the other day. He normally holds his breath in the cold air/wind and hates being bundled up. But in Daddy's arms and even with snowflakes floating down around him he was enjoying his winter outing.
Wyndham and I are ready for the snow to melt and the sun to come back out. We like it warmer and less slippery and cold. But until spring comes, I think there's still some more winter fun to be enjoyed by the rest of the family.
We are definitely enjoying the leisure pace of life without a school schedule right now. There is something so wonderful about staying in bed longer, wearing jammies all day and not having the pressure of anywhere to be this time of year. I don't know that any of us will stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year, but we will be comfy and cozy in our home. Together. That's the way I like it most of all.
We wish you all a safe and Happy New Year and hope you enjoy some warmth and cozy too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing you a Merry Christmas...

We wish we could have sent you all a handmade card this Christmas. Be assured that even though you may not have received one or maybe we've never even 'met' that my family and I appreciate the support and prayers and care we receive from so many of you throughout the whole year here at Nitty.Gritty. It's like you're practically family!
{Click family Christmas card to enlarge~ if you wish.}
Have a blessed, peaceful and Joy-filled Christmas this year. May the Babe in the manger touch your life and heart in a real way- even now more than 2000 years later. May you come to adore Him as He deserves to be adored.
Merry, merry Christmas from the whole Nitty.Gritty.Family!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yum. Cake.

Yesterday was my birthday. Thirty-seven years of having a good excuse to eat cake in the middle of the busy holiday season. =) I was treated very well by all my family~ Chip kept the kids busy all day; or was it the kids keeping Chip busy all day?! Either way I basically got to enjoy some time out of the house (including a stop for an Eggnog latte) and enjoyed my time back in the house. Chip had baked me the second cake you see here- one of my favorites. It's a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner and the fresh whipped cream is the main thing I love about this one.
That other cake came from the colour lovers' blog. The creator of the blog celebrated his 28th birthday a few months back and his mom and girlfriend surprised him with a very colorful BIG cake! Wouldn't you love that! There is time, thought and love poured into both of these cakes and I am happy to say that I had a great birthday. Even though it meant I got another year older. If you wished me Happy Birthday on Facebook, I saw your note. It took me awhile to read over 100 messages, but they sure made me realize I am loved and that's a good thing when you get old too!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When the holidays hurt...

There's something so delightful and magical about the Christmas season- with the twinkling lights, jingle bells ringing, music playing and people greeting each other with smiles and rosy cheeks. But I can recall all too clearly how suddenly something so magical like the Christmas season made my head and heart pound with ache and pain and nothing seemed merry at all.
Christmas Eve 2000 was a special one for me. I remember clearly how my heart felt so full of blessing and joy especially as I sat with Chip and Teagan and Brock in a dark, candle-lit sanctuary listening to carols sung and Scripture read and feeling the kicks and movements of another baby inside of me. I felt overwhelmed with the goodness that God had given to our family at that special moment in time. We were celebrating a cozy Christmas in the first home we had purchased just a few weeks earlier. My kids were content and everything just seemed so simple and "perfect" that Christmas. Little did I know that the following Christmas Eve I would not have Teagan with me, Brock would be so emotionally distressed that he couldn't even sit at a table for a family meal and tiny infant Wyndham would be taking heafty doses of medication and struggling to re-learn things like how to suck and sit up on her own. Christmas didn't feel anything like I had remembered it, and to recall the former memories I had only brought me to my knees in tears. Grief was my new reality and I remember even seeing twinkling lights on homes as we drove down neighborhood streets made my chest ache and I could hardly breathe. Christmas and all it's magic felt like a cruel joke to me. I wondered if I would ever feel the Joy of this season again.
That Christmas, 2001 things were very different. And yet they were strikingly the same. I had two little ones and Chip at my side, and even a tiny baby growing inside of me- just as I had a year earlier. Yet nothing was the same. I felt like God had gone and messed everything good that we had going for us in our lives. It seemed as though His plan for our happy, simple lives had been replaced with something so tragic and unfamiliar. I had never known such grief and yet it was a part of every waking moment of our lives.
Christmas hurt. However, there was a peace I felt and a calm inside me which seemed to say, "This might not seem like Christmas as you know it, but the story is still the same". God hadn't changed in that year; our circumstances had. Our hopes and dreams had been altered, but I couldn't shake the fact that the Joy of Christmas was still the same. It wasn't about how I felt or the warmth of our fireplace and scent of cookies baking and music playing. The Peace that I was longing for and the Joy I felt had gone from our lives was still very much a part of the season. God's blessing and gifts to us were many that year and the greatest gift He had given us was the same one He had sent to earth 2000 years earlier. Jesus was our Hope and our Joy. I remember crying out to Him in the quiet of my living room as I sat next to Teagan's tree asking Him to fill my heart- not with the things that I wanted in life, but with the things HE wanted me to have in my life.
I can tell you today that God has been faithful and true to give us everything we have needed to walk the long, dark journey of grief and we have been blessed to find life and love and hope and many blessings as we emerged from that path. One of the things I hope others can see as you read here at my blog or witness our lives in person is that God is God and His blessings are available to anyone and everyone who turns to Him. By simply saying, "God, I want you to be real in my heart and life... I trust you fully" therein lies the Hope. Not just of Christmas. But of every trial and struggle we endure and even our future is secure in Him. No matter what may come our way- good or bad, God is with us. That's what the heart of Christmas is all about.
I recall taking great comfort in the fact that God's Son had come to earth to be Love and Hope for us, and also knew that He felt all we feel. He was no stranger to what it feels like to hurt. Even at Christmas. The holidays are strange and difficult for many people that I know and who read what I have to say here- but I pray that the gift of Hope will be yours this season and every step of the painful journey you find yourself on right now.
I share a few pictures here of Ava and Wyndham and me at their Christmas program the other night and a few more cards. There was a time when I didn't know if I could smile at this season or care to send a word of cheer to friends far away. The truth is, this season means so much to me and is a wonderful reminder that God IS near. When my heart and eyes begin to blur with tears and the ache of what I once held dear threatens to steal my Joy, I remind myself to see Christmas as God intended it to be. His gift of Love and message of Hope that He is King and Heaven is real and one day we will sing with all the angels on high. God's plan is perfect. And what a better reminder than to recall Christmas- when Jesus came to earth so many years ago. It may have been cold and dark and the stable was no place for a newborn babe; but God was there. It made all the difference that Christmas and every one since. When the holidays hurt, there is always One who is ready to fill us with something greater. I thank Him everyday for who He is in my life. It is a gift and it has changed my life. Forever.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More cards and crafts...

I was able to make some more cards over the weekend and that makes me happy. The more cards I can make, the more I can put in the mail! I was flattered and humbled that the designer of the paper line I've been using actually called me and posted pictures of my cards on her blog. Thank you, Brenda Walton~ it's been a pleasure to use your designs!
I took a little break from cards and tried my hand at pom-pom flowers. I got the idea from this tutorial/blogpost. Aren't they simply adorable? They remind me of little puffs of snow. I think I may have to host another giveaway and send one or two of you reading this a card and flower too. You know. Just because I need to add things to my Christmas list right now! Wait. On second thought, I think a random giveaway sounds like a nice thing to host in the New Year. I do have thoughts in my head for a blogpost about the holidays not being so merry. Hopefully I'll get those thoughts down here before the end of the week. Then my kiddos are on Christmas break and I doubt I'll get much thinking done then!
P.S. Do you have a favorite cookie recipe? I'm making some for a class party. I just haven't decided what kind yet.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Christmas inspiration...

These things are too good not to pass along to all of you. The photos are taken from a wonderful Australian company/website called Mae. They feature fabric wall stickers- like the adorable deer and owl you see above. You can also click here for a link to downloadable gift wrap. I love it and thought you might too!
I took a short break from working on Christmas cards to make my kids waffles for lunch, start four loads of laundry and then treated myself to some inspiration blogs online. Now that's my kind of laid-back day. I hope you are enjoying a good weekend too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cards and more...

Here are some of the cards I've made in the past couple of days. It's much easier to work on projects when they don't have to be interrupted to drive to therapy or pick up kids from school. Winter has a few perks; snow days are the main one. I guess you have to take the good with the bad. Sort of like my crafty/creative friends. I love them all very much, but boy, they make me feel pressure to get creative before I mail my cards to them! =) It would be easier if I didn't put expectations on myself when it comes to Christmas cards. But the truth is, I LOVE mail and I know some of my friends do too and they appreciate something made and sent with love. So I've decided to scale back my mailing list this year, but those who ARE on my list will know that they truly have a special place in my heart. Especially when it comes to cards.
Now, here are a few of the details- for those of you who are into them. Most of the patterned paper and chipboard shapes are from K & Company. I love this vintage line a lot! I think you can find most of the items at Jo-Ann or Michael's stores and even Target carries some of their lines. For the inside of the cards I've just been using scraps of papers or journaling tags and then simply adding some rub-ons for sentiments. I've also been sewing the background papers to the cards- I like the way it adds to the handmade feel and also I find it's actually quicker to sew than to use glue and let them dry. So while these cards sound like a lot of work, they actually come together quickly once I settle on the design. I may not be getting much baking done (our oven isn't heating properly and we're in the market for a new one), but the cards are hopefully going to make it to their destinations before Christmas. Especially if we keep getting snow days!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All is calm...

We're enjoying our first snow day of the winter today. Three of my kids didn't sleep in, but it's still nice to be in jammies and take in an extra leisure morning. If you do have to be out and about- even as the holiday season progresses- one of my tips for you is to grab a "Perfect Oatmeal" from Starbuck's if you're needing a quick pick-me-up. Skip the fast food burger and instead fill up on this tasty, warm meal. I like mine with all the toppings~ brown sugar, dried fruit and mixed nuts~ but I only use half of each packet. The other half I eat on my next bowl of oatmeal I make at home. As a self-proclaimed cereal fanatic, you now know my top favorite food. Which surprisingly doesn't include whipped cream. =)
The little pink tree is one I put up in Ava's room and it was a surprise for her when she came home from school one day last week. I had to move a pile of stuffed animals to make room for the mini tree and decided that I'd just use them as decorations on it instead of pulling out a whole bunch of ornaments. She was SO happy with it. She kept saying, "You made my wish come true; I love my pink tree!" It was a very simple thing to do, but clearly was one that enhanced her merriment this season. I love when that happens. Sometimes it's the little things that make the season brighter. I have had to threaten to take it down a couple of times already, but for now it's still up and she remains on "the nice list". =) Bella has a silver mini tree in her room and is just as pleased with her tree as Ava. Wyndham has a mini dvd player in her's and is happy to be able to watch Barney's Christmas movie whenever she wants to.
Now... back to some cardmaking and more coffee for this calm morning!

Monday, December 07, 2009


Add anything from this place to my Christmas wish list. All so very cute. Thought you might like to take a peek for yourself. Did I mention how much I love handmade or vintage items? Very.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Merry & Bright.

The top two photos here are not mine. But I am making it my personal challenge after yesterday's post to blog as much as I can through the rest of this month. Even if it's just simple stuff like links and photos of different things that are inspiring me this holiday season.
I am really enjoying how so many people seem to be crafting and creating handmade things the past couple of years- and one of the things I keep seeing all over the place is cute garlands. The scalloped one you see pictured would be sweet hanging up on a mantle in holiday colors/print. You can find the link and tutorial right here. I'm adding that to me "want-to-do list". =)
Right next to the garland on my list is to make some chocolate-covered marshmallows. I know my kids would like these rolled in sprinkles or drizzled with chocolate or even covered in red and green sugar. Nothing says Christmas like sugar on top of sugar...right?! It's the time of year for indulging. Or is it bulging? Ha! Either way, I thought these were cute and fun and if you want you can follow this link and buy them online and have them shipped to you or your friends right here!
I did find a few quiet minutes early in the morning the past couple of days and I pulled out some of the coffee sleeves I've been saving all year long and cut up some patterned papers and then added some ribbons and a few other little things and voila! Little coffee sleeve albums- just waiting to be filled with tiny pictures and handwritten notes. Hopefully I will have them wrapped up and in the mail early this week. I may not be getting all my Christmas cards written, but I am going to spread as much Christmas cheer as I can. Maybe I've even inspired you to save your cup holders and turn them into something fun to pass on this Christmas too. They'd make great gift tags or even cute garland if you strung a bunch of them together and added letters to spell something like "Tis the Season".
Here's to making the season merry and brighter!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Winter is here!

We have white fluffy snow covering everything outside our windows as of this morning. I think it's here to stay! The kids were all excited to try on new snowpants and get their boots and accessories all set out for school today. Except Wyndham. She doesn't like the cold and slippery and bulk of extra clothing. She has sensory issues when it comes to things like winter. I think I have them too- just a little different kind than her. =)
She did get new boots and seems to like her plaid coat. Although you won't see her making any snow angels, when I snapped these pictures I couldn't help but think what a sweet little angel she is on our lives. Whether or not she keeps mittens on. I just thought I'd share these pictures since it's been awhile for me to post anything. I always have good intentions, but life is just so full and I'm never really that inspiring anyway. I figure nobody misses me around here for a few days at a time.
Except maybe my mom. And when she starts missing me too much she just picks up the phone and calls. I guess it's her fault that I don't blog that much right now. =)
I have to share a tasty winter tip with you that might be of interest to some of you. Brock happens to like Malt o Meal hot cereal- for breakfast and sometimes as an afterschool snack too. The fun part is that we make the original {ie. plain, unsweetened} kind and then flavor it with any variety of coffee creamer. It's delicious with flavors like White Chocolate Raspberry or Vanilla Latte or even Pumpkin Spice or Peppermint. Crew gobbles it up once it's cooled for a few minutes. That's it for today! Hot cereal and flavored creamer. See? You're really not missing out on too much when the blog goes without being updated for a day or two. Or more. =)
But now that you've stopped by, feel free to share any fun winter tips or tricks or inspiration that you're enjoying this time of year too. I'd love to read/be linked to more winter fun!