Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taking a little 'me time'.

It's no surprise that I rarely find a minute to myself in life right now. It seems like there is always someone or something that needs me. I am normally pretty good at juggling everything, but lately, and most likely due to this new pregnancy, I feel more like I'm drowning than swimming through most of the day. Early pregnancy for me means I am tired. A lot! I have been able to get to bed early a few times the past couple of weeks and I try to sneak in an occasional nap when Crew takes one. I am queasy almost every morning and every night. Which doesn't help my energy level. But this should all be fading in the next couple of weeks as the second trimester approaches. By the do the weeks go so quickly when you're counting down to number 7?!
I'm looking forward to the sun shining more as spring approaches too. I'm not the kind of person to enjoy winter. I do wear a hat most of the time and if you see me around at Target or getting groceries, I probably look something like the photo here. Stop me and say hello. =)
I have not felt like blogging, nor have I had the 'spare time' to do it even if I wanted to. However, today I came across a question and answer post that I've seen a few times on the internet since the new year rolled around and thought, why not! So, here is a little bit about me. And feel free to share a little bit about you in the comments or blog it and link me up! Sometimes the little details are what make people the most interesting. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about me.

1. What is your current obsession?
Just trying to keep my kids' stuff picked up and feeling frustrated that our mealtime isn't more mellow. It seems like the most 'dramatic' time of the day. Maybe I need to hire Alice from The Brady Bunch. =)

2. What are you wearing today?
black yoga pants (that I've never done yoga in) and a gray sweatshirt that says "Minnesota Athletics"

3. What’s for dinner?

That's a good question- last night Chip made braised lamb shanks with tomatoes- delicious!

4. What’s the last thing you bought?
diapers, wipes, Lean Cuisines and boxes of Valentines/treats at Target yesterday

5. What are you listening to right now?
the dishwasher running, Crew playing on a Little Leap Pad and Max & Ruby on tv in the corner

6. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
Someplace warm all year long; it would be nice to have family nearby too!

7. What is one thing you want to change about yourself?
Find a way to stay on top of clutter that piles up; or be able to part with "stuff" easier!

8. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
I think it would be heartbreaking, but life-changing to be able to spend an hour on a street in Port au Prince Haiti...Even if I can't give medical aid, I think it would be enough to even hold some orphaned, hurting kids in my arms for 60 minutes. Love changes people.

9. Which language do you want to learn?
I'm still learning sign language along with Wyndham. I wish it was taught in school curriculums- it's sort of universal!

10. What’s your favorite quote?
"Faith is... believing in advance that which only makes sense in reverse."
by Charles Swindoll

11. Would you cook for me?
I'm a better baker than cook, but the answer is YES! Come on over! =) Actually, I wish I could have my mom's cooking right now. I took meals for granted all those years I was growing up!

12. What is the right way to avoid people who purposefully hurt you?
Hopefully there aren't too many out there- but I have had some negativity on my blog from time to time. I try not to "avoid" them, but instead be gracious to them in response. That usually ends it. I have to say, extending forgiveness in life when it wasn't warranted changed me too. For the better.
I could write a lot about that. =)

13. What are you afraid of the most?
The pain my kids will experience in their lives. Everyone feels it sometime or another. It's just the way it is. I hope they are strong enough to endure it, and that they will have sense to lean harder on God when it comes.

14. Who do you want to meet right now?
Kate McRae and her family- she's battling cancer right now and I pray for them everyday. I wish I could give them all hugs and let them know that despite unknowns, God is bigger than what they're going through. I hope they feel His peace and comfort in a tangible way right now.

15. What is your favorite color?
If the Vikings had beaten the Saints on Sunday I would have to say purple and gold until the SuperBowl. But after their disappointing loss I'm going back to aqua right now.

16. Give us 3 styling tips that work for you.
Me? Styling tips? I'm lucky if I wear make-up once a week! I will say that short hair has made my life much easier as I had more and more kids. I think using shampoo that doesn't have Dr. Seuss names and pictures on it (like Horton Hears a WhoBerry) would make my hair look better. But most the time I just grab what's nearby!

17. What is your dream job?
I think Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes has my dreamjob. He makes cakes, hangs out (works) with his friends and even gets fun side-gigs like doing cartoon voice-overs. I'm all about buttercream, friends and adventures!

18. What’s your favorite magazine?
We don't get any subscriptions at our house, but I love to flip through my old Martha Stewart Living, Weddings, Kids and Baby magazines and Cooking Light too.

19. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
I'd line up a babysitter and take Chip out somewhere- it's been too long since we've been out just the two of us! Who wants to babysit tonight?!

20. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
Anything I did before 2004. Including home perms!

21. Who, according to you, is the most over-rated writer?
I am so out-of-the-loop when it comes to popular literature right now, but can tell you when I was a kid I loved any book about horses or dogs. I also LOVED Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side comics. Does that say anything about me?

22. What brings a smile on your face instantly?
An unexpected cup of Starbuck's from Chip every once-in-awhile, handwritten cards or letters, and seeing my kids get along while they play or eat a meal. No wonder I've been grumpy lately!! {wink}

23. What is one word that you say a lot?
He's constantly doing something or climbing somewhere he shouldn't be.

24. What kind of haircut do you prefer?
On me? See #16 and #20.
I do normally like my hair best about weeks 2 & 3 after my cut.

25. What are you going to do after this?
Start some laundry and get Crew down for a nap. Wish me luck!

26. What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?
I stop blogging because I feel like I have nothing to offer. I also quit answering the phone. Poor Chip. I do other stuff too and I think I really drive him nuts when I'm in a funk!

27. What makes you go wild?
The dancy-dance parts on Yo! Gabba Gabba! That and carrot cake. =)

28. What are your favorite movies?
I love family classics- like Sound of Music, The Parent Trap, Old Yeller... and lots of others too. Although I am not a big movie fanatic. In fact, most of the time I've never even seen the movies nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

29. What inspires you?
Hope in the midst of hopelessness. Oftentimes the most simple things can be the most inspiring- I never want to look past beauty around me.

30. What do your friends call you most commonly?
Crazy... at leat those closest to me do!

31. Would you prefer coffee or tea?
Coffee... but it has to have cream in it! I will tell you that I've hardly had any coffee since becoming pregnant again. It just doesn't sound as good as it used to. I've been drinking Sprite Zero and orange mixed together in the morning. The fizz is a good thing.

32. Which other blogs do you love visiting?
One of these days I plan to make a long list of my favorite blogs. There are a lot of them. I will share these 5 with you now....and more later!

Becky Novacek's blog- She's a friend of mine who seems to have it all together. She has great insights on food, home decor, photography, balancing life and I just hope to be more like her when I grow up!

100 Layer Cake- This is such a great inspiration blog... you know how much I love weddings! Plus, I love all the links they have on their sidebar. Bonus.

oh, hello Friend- There is always something pretty or simple on this blog. I love the "tone" of it and all the fun links to the cool things Dani finds. She seems so sweet and down-to-earth too.

Sheye Rosemeyer's blog~ The photos are amazing, but her words and life-story get me even moreso. She has experienced the loss of a little SuperPrincess girl and so I feel like our hearts connect- even if it is only through a computer screen.

Simply Breakfast- The art of breakfast blog... I could eat breakfast 3 times a day. Sometimes I do. Everytime I stop by this blog I wish I was eating whatever it is that's pictured. Simple and delicious-looking without fail- every time!

33. What is your favorite dessert/sweet?
Carrot cake! And Cream Puffs. And Chocolate Bread Pudding with Spiced Whipped Cream. And Pumpkin Cheesecake. And T.G.I.Friday's Pie-in-the-Sky from back in the day. And old-fashioned malts. And fresh fruit. This question obviously struck a chord with me! I guess I love breakfast AND desserts. =)

34. How many tabs are turned on in your browser right now?
Just this.

35. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
I need to start using wrinkle cream.

36. What is your favorite season?
I love something about every season, but there's something really great about summer... warmth, sleeping in and eating outside!

37. What is one wish that you really want to see come true?
That Wyndham could be potty-trained. She wants to wear big-girl underwear so badly! It has to do with her brain sending her body messages. Things just don't work the way they should for her... but we still can hope!

38. What breaks your heart?
Knowing that people hurt and suffer without Hope.

39. What's one thing you really want to do in life?
I would love for my gravestone to read, "She lived what she believed." and that in simply doing that people around me would know that God is real and believe in Him. I want my legacy to be one that shows people God is enough for whatever it is that life sends your way!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

French inspiration.

Sort of. =)
I've been seeing occasional updates from Heidi Swapp's facebook status as she's been enjoying an amazing adventure in Paris. I doubt I'll ever get there in my lifetime, so it's been even more fun to click through her pictures and enjoy it through the computer screen.
I happen to be a BIG FAN of anything pastry, and the crepes and other delicious food in Paris just got me inspired. So yesterday I pulled out my recipe for cream puffs and then whipped some cream, filled them with pistacio pudding and drizzled Hershey's Special Dark chocolate over them and we all enjoyed our French Inspiration.
I doubt they tasted anything like what we'd find in Paris, but they were tasty nonetheless and they were eaten so quickly I didn't even take a picture. {The photo you see above is from xtheowl on } My sudden urge for cream puffs just happened to be the perfect way to "celebrate good grades" that my kids brought home on their report cards too. I never like to miss an opportunity to let them know we're proud of their effort and hard work.
Poor Wyndham though. She's been sick all week with some sort of tummy bug. She's keeping liquids down fine, eating little bits of food- like crackers and milkshakes, but wasn't up for a cream puff with the rest of us. She's still not herself today and we're really hoping she perks up soon. It's no fun to see her in tears and unable to tell us how she feels. But I'm sure we'll whip up some more cream puffs when she gets back on her feet and is ready for a treat. She will have earned hers for sure!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beyond our imaginations.

Life was hectic at our house this week. With several of us having some sort of stomach-bug for the better part of the week it felt long and we're glad to all be on the upswing at this point. The worst of it was when both Chip and I overlapped in not feeling very well. The kids definitely outnumbered us in energy and their needs felt even more demanding. But somehow we managed survive and life is back to "normal" again.
As you can see, Crew creates his own "normal" and keeps us all very entertained around here. Somedays I wonder what I did in my free time before he came along. Other times I remember vividly what I did with my free time before he came along. I blogged more. =)
He's quite the handful, but we couldn't imagine life without him. He gets lots of attention when I take him out on errands to places like the grocery store and Target while he's wearing his winter trapper hat. He didn't like it at first, but now he likes he so he can pretend to "hide" under it and act shy when people talk to him in the aisles of the stores. He's definitely got his own personality and I think sometimes he's a little too smart for his age- but the part of him that's charming just makes him irresistible in the end. To think there was a time in our lives when we nevered dreamed he'd be in it seems crazy. And yet the reality of another little one joining our family is beginning to sink in and within months we'll be saying, "we never imagined life without you in it, Baby".
All that is sort of a prelude to some thoughts I've been mulling over since before Christmas. I learned of my pregnancy about a week or so before the holidays came and went and I found myself deep in thought about many things- including how life doesn't always "go the way we plan" it. I was especially moved as I thought about the journey of Mary and Joseph as they traveled many miles to the town of Bethlehem to register and then while there, found themselves without a place to stay just as the time came for the baby Mary was carrying to be born.
I was thinking about how Mary must have felt- knowing she was carrying the Christ-child and fully trusting (as an angel had told her she would bear God's Son) that God had His hand in every aspect of what was happening to her and Joseph at that time. Still, she must have wondered (out loud or in her heart) how there could be no place for them to stay once they arrived. Afterall, God had brought them there and certainly He had made arrangements in His plan for them to have a nice place to stay and bring His Son into this world. I wonder if she thought someone was just trying to "mess up God's plan", or was she totally surrendered to the idea that God had it all in His hands and it would come to be as He had ordained. I wonder if Joseph felt torn that maybe he had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the journey or felt that God should be leading them somewhere else. I think the two of them must have felt a bit overwhelmed when they "felt" they were in the "right" place and yet it appeared to be a "dead-end".
I have to admit that I might not have been so willing to settle down in a cold, dusty stable and accept that this was God's plan for the birth of Jesus. Yet I also have to admit that at times when life seems so bleak and mixed-up and confusing is most often when I have felt the peace and presence of God so strong that it is undeniable. Those are the times when trusting the unseen hand of God takes little effort. It's beyond my imagination how this happens, but it is a truth I have lived through more than once. It's amazing and true.
I have been feeling somewhat tired in this early stage of pregnancy and also pondered some tough questions as I stated that the reality of another baby is sinking in more and more. We are excited that God is sending another baby into our lives. Yet a big part of me also aches at the same time because I have so many friends and know that lots of people are on a journey of hoping to be where I'm at- expecting a baby- and yet it seems no matter what they try or do or how hard they pray, their journey ends at a "dead-end" time after time. I can't help but feel some of their pain and wonder how God's plan can be trusted when it seems so cold and bleak. Yet I know that God is the Creator of all- from everlasting to everlasting He is God. His timing is always right. His ways are higher. What we find confusing as we walk life's journey so many times turns into something that goes beyond our imaginations as we look back and we can "see" how He in fact did have it all mapped out. Perfectly dependable; totally reliable; Almighty God. I take great comfort in knowing that even when life's path gets bumpy or takes a turn I hadn't planned for, none of it takes God by surprise. He is with us through it all and has our best interest at heart. And He has a BIG heart too!
Maybe you find your own self struggling with something in life right now that seems overwhelming, dark, beyond what you can bear, or simply leaving you without any peace at all. I hope I can be an encouragement to you that God is near and He will see you through. Your journey might not look the way you had imagined it or wish it would look, but God is always in control and when we give our hearts and lives and futures to Him, He promises to make something beautiful out of our offering. That promise gives me peace, joy AND hope! I trust that it does the same for you too!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A big family-

I am home from church with Crew and Wyndham this morning as they are both just a bit under-the-weather today. I decided now is a good time to answer a few questions that some have posted in my comment section here and others of you may be asking in your own minds. Questions about how "we do it as a big family"- how do we love enough and meet needs enough and just fit it all in.
My first response is to say, "We're far from perfect". Just look at that family photo. I have come to accept that we may never take a "perfect" family picture- one where we're all looking and smiling at the same time. I have come to accept that I will never be the perfect mom who has it all together either, and you know what? That's okay in this fallen world in which we live. What is more important than perfection though is trying your best and leaning on God to meet the needs you can't fill and trusting Him when you fall short.
Some days it is daunting to think of the huge responsibility that Chip and I have in our care every single day. With another baby on the way it might seem that we would ready to throw in the towel at times and say we've had enough. But the surprising thing is that sometimes the more demands we have in life- the more we "step it up" and better we "become". Let me explain what I mean. When I think back to when I had just one baby in our house I recall being so overwhelmed and exhausted. So tired and afraid of doing things wrong that I found myself frozen on my couch not doing anything for hours at a time some days. I was so proud of myself when Teagan was 3 weeks old that I made Jell-o for dinner. I even called Chip at work to tell him what I had done! Now that I have several kids I find it hilarious that I felt I had accomplished something so "big"! I thank God and credit Him for giving me the energy I often need to keep up with the demands of more kids. I now have days where I do more work around the house before breakfast than I did in a whole week when I had just one baby. My perspective has changed and I while I still wish I had a maid or housekeeper to help me out, I also know that it is a privilege to be able to care for my kids and meet their growing needs. I feel lucky that I can be their mom and show love to them by taking care of them in our home.
The other day Chip was telling the kids that some things will change when we have another baby at our house. One of the changes will be that we have to buy a different vehicle. Ava shouted out, "How 'bout we get a limo?!". We all laughed with her and along with her- I didn't even know she knew what a limo was! I guess she thought she would look cool getting dropped off at school each morning in a limo. =)
That little story sort of sums up a lot of dynamics of having a large family. One such thing is that we do a lot of things together. We eat meals together (we miss Chip when he works really long hours in the summer, but appreciate all his cooking and being with him in the off-season at dinnertime), we go to church together, we play games and puzzles and do crafts and tell jokes and watch dvd's and sometimes we even have sleepovers in the living room. We find that being a large family doesn't mean that we don't have time for one another, but that we just have to be more creative with how we spend our time than certain smaller families might have to do. Do our kids feel neglected or unloved or left out? I guess you'd have to individually ask them that, but I have no doubt that they would answer a resounding, "no". They all know that they are loved very much. They are cared for the best that Chip and I know how to care for them. They are fed and bathed and wear clean clothes and even go to the dentist at least twice a year. Are we perfect? No. I'll say that again and again.
I don't feel I have to defend my love and care for my kids, but I do want to erase any doubt someone might have of my kids having their needs met and more. I live most of my life caring for my kids and making sure they know they are loved. I have a heightened awareness after losing a child that makes this even more of a priority of mine than ever before. I stay home with my kids 24/7- with the exception of an occasional trip for groceries or errands at Target almost 365 days a year. Chip and I have made our kids the focus of our days and sometimes I wonder if we even go the the opposite extreme and "overdo" it with them. I've blogged about how we have only taken one overnight "vacation" from our kids together once in the past 5 years. One of us picks them up from school each day and we drop them off too. I know a lot of families that have kids come home to an empty house for a couple of hours each weekday until they get home from work. I feel lucky, again, that I can be there for my kids and listen to what has happened during their day and help them with their homework for the coming day and get the after-school snacks and just spend time with them everyday. I know other people who because of divorced family situations, they only have limited time with their kids- some only see their kids every other week or others that see their kids a few weeks out of the whole year.
Would those kids say that their needs aren't being met? I hardly think so. I am not here to judge who is being most loved and cared for, but since the questions were raised and they certainly struck a chord with me, then I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the matter with all of you. Chip and I would also tell you that some days we do better than others and sometimes we have stretches where we're really on top of things and others where we wonder if we'll ever get it right again. Some days it means we wake the kids earlier and take them out for breakfast and spend special time with them before the day fully starts. Other times we take one or two of the kids on special outings- like to open skate or to a basketball game. Chip has been bundling up and been sledding with the kids and having snowfights and even making snow angels with the kids the past couple of weeks as the weather has been perfect for those kinds of things. Have our kids been to Disney World together? Besides Brock and Wyndham, the answer is no. Do we have furniture that's 10 years old and carpet that could be updated? Yes. I could go on and on, but hopefully those who questioned can now see that parenting- whether it's one or 20 kids, is a job that requires sacrifice and love. It demands the very best from the parents and makes you feel as though you'll never measure up- all at the same time somedays. It is a Joy and a gift to have kids and even though this next baby DOES come as an unexpected surprise to our family (imagine that you have one chance to win the lottery and then you actually do...that's sort of what happened here), we find ourselves excited and thanking God that He is going to gift another child to us. We do not take our roles as parents lightly and while a big family is more than we ever dreamed we would have, we are humbled and grateful to God for each one of the children He has sent our way. Our hopes for our children as they learn and grow is that they will not expect us to be perfect, but that more importantly they will know they are loved by us and God.
I have to close by saying how thankful I am to have a supportive, involved husband and some really wonderful friends who help meet our needs when they arise too. Most importantly I credit our faith and trust in God for keeping our family in His care and always providing us with the grace and comfort to survive what comes our way- good and bad. We know we cannot fail with God as the Head of our Home. He is our Rock, our Peace and everything we need. Chip and I fail all the time, but thankfully God never does!!
Whether you have big family or no family, that's the most important thing of all!
Thanks to the overwhelming love and support that you all have shown to our family. Your kindness is appreciated too!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wyndham's happy news!

She is all smiles today and we're grinning with her! Wyndham had a doctor appointment with her endocrinologist today and he told her {us} that she can STOP taking her daily growth hormone shot for at least a month! From the time Wyndham turned two years old she has been given an injection by myself or Chip every single night. Until tonight! We are so happy to be given this news and also, it means possibly her body is beginning to make low levels of hormone all on its own. We'll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, we won't miss a single shot. I suspect she won't miss them either!
I snapped a few pictures of her just minutes ago as I talked about how happy I am for her to not have to get poked at nighttime now. I think she understood exactly what I was saying. It's not often that she gets such great news, so of course, I am more than happy to share it with all of you! Our year seems to be off to a good start. And we're all soaking it in. It's the little stuff that is really big stuff sometimes and this is one of those times. Hooray for Wyndham!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Nine is a big thing.

Today {and yesterday} our family celebrates Wyndham turning 9! She had a small party with a BIG cupcake cake at Red Robin yesterday and then games and fun at Chuck E. Cheese with our family and a few friends. She really seemed to like her cupcake- topped off with her favorite color flowers. It's a big deal for her to have a birthday and be able to enjoy her party too.
In years past several times she has been very sick or even just coming home from the hospital on her birthday and there's just something not-so-fun about IV's and tummy ache's that take away the thrill of the party. We're so happy that she is strong and healthy and happy this year to actually take it in and enjoy her special day.
As I stopped to think about what has gone in her nine years of life it is nothing short of amazing. Scary and heart-wrenching too many times, but inspiring and hopeful more than anything! Wyndham at 9, has lots of daily challenges and has only spoken a few words in her whole lifetime. She still wears pull-ups and can't run and jump like her friends can, however her heart is huge, her willingness to try to learn new things and never give up, and the sparkle in her eyes when she accomplishes the ordinary are a joy to witness.
I remember the nurses gasp as they placed her tiny body on the baby scale just minutes after she was born and announced, "Four pounds; six ounces"! My heart skipped a beat and for a moment I was afraid something might be really wrong. (She was born 12 days early- but wasn't preemie.) Moments later she was wiped cleaned, wrapped in a blanket and placed in my arms. She was perfect. Tiny, but perfect. She managed to maintain a normal body temperature {which is one of the big concerns for tiny babies} and we took her home a couple of days later and all was right in our little corner of the world. Teagan was as proud as any big sister could be! She was nearly four years old and took on the roll of helper and charmer to Wyndham. =) Brock was more or less indifferent to Wyndham's entrance into his life. He did ask to hold her from time to time, but seemed content that she slept a lot. Wyndham was born into a family who loved her and I recall feeling like the luckiest Mom of three kids ever.
Could we ever dream this far into her future and see how much she would endure? Not in a million years. Would I take her place and suffer for her if I could? In a heartbeat. I have dropped to my knees, shaking inside with tears pouring from my eyes begging God to spare her life and heal her. He has answered my prayers for Wyndham more than once. Could we ever have imagined that she would pull through her critical injuries and one day beam at her cupcake cake topped with 9 glowing candles? Never.
But it has happened. It is a big deal. This day rips at my heart for what it could have been for her, and yet it grips my heart and fills me with a pride for her I cannot fabricate on my own. She inspires me everyday- even in the trying times. I feel horribly unqualified to meet her needs so many times, but I am also humbled and know just what a privilege it is that I get to call her my own too. We are so happy to have Wyndham in our lives and overjoyed to be able to sing Happy Birthday to her in words and sign. She has more than blessed our lives, and somehow I feel like she'll never fully know how much she means to us and so many others. She is one incredible little girl and whether or not she knows that, it's true now and always. Happy 9th birthday, dear Wyndham!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Lucky #7

Guess who's going to be a big brother this year?! We are all in shock and awe around here. It's early in the pregnancy too (just coming up on 7 weeks), but word is starting to get around and with the speed and connections of the world wide web I figure that I either have to tell everyone or no one. Since our kids already know this big news it's really only a matter of time before they can't help but tell everyone they know too. And yes, I'm being serious and truthful and trying to let it all sink in myself. Me. The one who once said "I never, ever, ever want to have kids" is now expecting baby #7. I can't help but trust that God knows what He's doing, because otherwise I could find myself totally overwhelmed.
Tomorrow is Wyndham's 9th birthday and I am feeling a bit reflective and emotional about that too. It's sort of unbelievable to me how the events of our lives have played out over the past decade. It seems like everytime I feel like I'm starting to feel a little bit in "control" God chooses to send another challenge/blessing our way. I just wonder how many more times He can surprise us anymore. =) But He's done it again!