Monday, December 31, 2012

That's a wrap!

Good-bye to twenty-twelve. It has been a wild year for me and my family in so many ways. A year of things we never imagined, planned or expected all sprinkled with some amazing new {lifelong!} friendships, memories to cherish forever, and lessons lived and learned that could only have been learned through the events and people that wrapped themselves up in the form of 2012. It was the year we moved twice. Across several state lines. With 6 kids- including 3 in diapers at one point, and with stress levels that would make everyone's blood pressure spike.
But there were gourmet cupcakes. And bunches of fresh bananas and chocolate milk in the midst of the stress too. There was laughter and hugs and prayers and good wishes. There was a little groundhog outside our window that was busy and playful and provided entertainment as we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a table that my parents got us that 8 people can actually sit at all at one time. There were new songs to be sung, names and faces to learn, new library cards and books that led us on new adventures all their own.
From the pigeon longing to drive a bus to my kids standing at their own bus stop and climbing aboard to new schools and friends that would force them to grow and change and step outside their former comfort zones too. There was much to see, do and embrace~ and even re-doing things too. Like taking driver's test for our licenses. And reconnecting with 'old' friends. It was a year of ups and downs and twists and turns and never quite knowing what was going to be around the next turn.
But isn't that what life is made up of? If there is one thing I have learned in my 40 years of living, it is that no matter how much we plan and prepare and think we know what life is going to bring, it very likely will go its own way and look nothing like the picture you imagined it to look.
I scrapped a mini book about welcoming the new year, two-thousand and thirteen, with the fantastic kit from Cocoa Daisy for January. You can order a kit or sign up to subscribe and get it every month here, if you like. Jumping back into scrapbooking has been one of the highlights of my year and I am excited to be on the team this year too. Creating has been the one thing that has helped me process some of the crazier parts of this past year and also it is my launching place for the hopes and dreams I hold for this new year too. It does take up some of my time and energy and sometimes I wonder if it is the best use of them, but even Chip has noticed that scrapping fuels my inner joy and helps bring out the best in me, so he approves and is very supportive of my hobby and creative time. I am lucky that he allows me to let things slide around the house in order for me to fill my heart and express myself through paper and stickers and ink. I just loved the process of making this little book of quotes and words that I want to set the tone for me as 2013 rings in later on tonight. I am using the word "soar" as my focus word and hoping that I can find new ways to be invigorated and stay positive as we wait for a job for Chip and continue to resettle back here in our Michigan home. It has been a hard transition for me, much more than the kids. Leaving such close friends and all the newness of what life held has been hard. I feel like it was a big 'trick' to get such enough taste of what life can and does hold, but then got taken away from us all too quickly. It has felt like a huge step backward in life to return to the place we had said our goodbyes too and have to try to start again, only this time the house and yard were in rougher shape, my spirits were low, my optimism dashed, and a big piece of my heart was left in Minnesota.
Making a little book and surrendering to the many things I have told myself and learned over and over- things like create your own Joy and trust in the One who sees the big picture- is the place where I find solace and rest. It is the place where my spirit is still and I find that in the quietness and surrender is a fountain of hope. This past year has been so many different things to me and my family. This new year will likely be filled with suprises, blessings, more challenges and ultimately more opportunities to rise to the occasion, dig deeper and shine brighter when it's all said and done.
I am thankful for all of you who hope for good things to come, and who cheer me and my family on through the rough waters too. You are a blessing to us and I am still working on mailing some of you cards too. So from my heart to yours, thank you and best wishes as you wrap up 2012 and watch 2013 take flight. I hope it is a year of adventure and growth and seeing things from places you never dreamed you would find yourself~ be willing to be amazed at the view. No matter your vantage point. We're seeking to make two-thousand thirteen our year where the good outweighs the bad. That is always a good approach to anything...especially a new year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Some fresh beginnings!

{click on photos if you want to see them up close}
It has been another whirlwind couple of weeks! There was my 40th birthday- which happened to be my kids' last day of school before Christmas break began, so it was a day of parties for them and excitement and a band/choir concert for us to attend. Lots of work went into it for me and I was thankful that we were all healthy and could get through it. To top it off, although it wasn't a day of partying for me, Chip did make cream puffs for me and when we got back from the kids' program we all got our jammies on, and there was candle blowing, wish-making and happy birthday song-singing, so it ended on a nice note. A good way to start a new decade. Mellow, a dollop of whipped cream and smiles all around. My life rarely looks the way I imagine it, but it is always better than I deserve and there is happiness all along the way. Even if it gets pushed to the bottom of the agenda at times.
My goal for this coming new year is to constantly remind myself that happiness is there...I just need to keep my eyes and heart open to the way it is packaged. That's probably a good goal all the time!
So the new year is coming and today I have a few sneak peeks before the big reveal of Cocoa Daisy's first kit of 2013~ Pemberley! It is so full of wonderful teals, pinks and yellows. I was up in my scraproom playing and scrapping away the past few days. I was loving it so much! There is definitely a lot of happiness in my scrap room right now. Even Chip says he wants to make something sometime! That's a pretty big claim and surprise to me. If he makes anything, I will post it here for all to see. =)
I scrapped one page from my heart as it continues to feel heavy and sorrowful for the families of Newtown. I will post it in more detail and tell you some of the thoughts I had while making it. Please continue to lift their broken hearts up in prayer. I know firsthand how the pain and sorrow got so much heavier and real as the friends and families around me got back to "normal" in their life, where in my own life the hole Teagan left just got bigger and Wyndham's needs pressed in harder on Chip and me. Grief is hard road to walk and I just know these souls will need prayers for comfort, strength and healing for a long, long time.
One of the other things I made this month was a mini album to hold hopes and dreams of mine for this fresh new year that we are about to jump into. A big part of me can't wait. I know the number 13 is unlucky for a lot of people, but Chip and I are determined to make it a year of good luck for us. I hope we rise to that occasion, and in this tiny book I am writing down quotes and notes to keep me going and pushing toward new and wonderful things. If you have any good quotes or thoughts on the New Year, leave them in the comments here. I would love to add some more thoughts and phrases to my book. I will show you the inside pages of that soon too!
In the meantime, here is the link to more sneak peeks and you are more than welcome and personally invited to be a part of the reveal tonight on the Cocoa Daisy message boards. There is always a flurry of activity, fun and some RAK's to the boutique too! SO if you have the time and want in on the fun, come on out tonight! And if I don't get back here in time, Happy New Year 2013 to you!! I hope you enjoy a fresh start too!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Growing up and stuff. =)

The other night after dinner the funniest thing that my kids have said happened in a long time. So funny, that I decided I had to share it here for the Nitty.Gritty. archives. =) The background is that my kids are getting older and we're all growing up around here- and with growing comes changes! There had been some 'meltdown' among the kids and in the middle of the round this time, was Bella. She is 10 and in fifth grade. At that nice age where sometimes you think you're still a kid, and sometimes you think you don't want to be one anymore. Throw a couple of younger siblings/toddler in the mix and it can be the perfect scenario for a meltdown.
I don't even recall what the fuss was all about, I just know that I had called to Bella to calm down or to back off or go to a different room a couple of times and instead, I had to go 'break it up' myself. Not that there was fighting going on, it was just playtime getting too loud, wild and in my mom's mind- the perfect timing for an injury. So to avoid it, I asked her to go to her room and take a break. I told her she could read a book or write or just hang out. Instead of happily heading to her room, she sighed and seemed even more upset. I was just outside her room doing a load of laundry and I could tell she was upset. So I went into her room and asked if we could just talk for a few minutes. It turned into one of "those talks".
The kind of talk where a mom tells her daughter how much she loves her and that feelings are okay- no matter if they are happy, sad, angry, disppointed, excited or whatever. I talked to her about how because she's a girl and because of her age sometimes there will be days {or moments or weeks!} that you feel things and you're not even sure why exactly. I told her about hormones. I told her about body changes. I told her about emotional highs and lows and how lucky she is to be a girl! {insert sarcasm least a little bit, right ladies!} After our talk she was feeling so much better. She had lots of questions that I could answer, and I know we have more talks ahead of us. But we both felt good about what we had shared and we ended with some big smiles and big hugs.
Flash forward to just a few minutes after dinnertime. I was in the kitchen cleaning up and Bella and Crew and Teague were just a matter of feet away from me in the master bedroom off our kitchen. Bella was supposed to entertain the boys for a few minutes- with a Christmas show or something "calm" while I cleaned up. Easy enough, right?! Well, I started hearing lots of noise and I could tell there was nothing calm going on in that room. So I looked up from what I was doing and saw Bella half-jumping on my bed and the boys were all over her with glee.
I said, "Isabella! You need to mellow out and find something calm to do right away!" To which she replied as she laughed loudly too, "'s the hormones!" I started laughing and barely a split second later Crew shouts out happily, "I want to buy hormones!" He was so serious and happy as he said it. Bella laughed outloud and quickly replied to him, "You don't need any're wild enough already!"
Ha...ha...ha! I am still laughing as I was that night too. It was all so fast and funny. Crew still has no clue what a hormone is- nor does he get that you don't normally buy them. {Although Wyndham was on hormone shots for 7 years, so maybe he thinks he could use a few doses.} =) Bella, it turns out, equates hormones more with happiness, excitement and adreniline. Which is in part, very true. We just have to have further talks, it seems. Me? It turns out I do have lots of things to blog about just like this. I just don't have the time I used to before 2 little boys were added to our family mix. The pictures here are from last March too. I found a bunch on my phone and have been adding them to my computer a few at a time. I take so many photos!
And now for a bit more "stuff". If you left a comment on the previous post and want a possible Christmas card from me, I said I would pick a couple names by Thursday, but instead, I need you to email me your addresses BY Thursday! I wasn't thinking of how much time I need to get them sent off to you by Christmas. So, here you go: Put 'christmas card' in the subject line and I will send out as many as I get the chance to do! I baked some Christmas cookies yesterday and had a very thoughtful, heart-heavy weekend, as so many of us did. I have lots of thoughts and am still praying and processing as I hold the families of Newtown close in my heart. I hope the whole community can feel all our love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Considering this date doesn't happen again for another hundred years, I figured it was profound enough to take a bit of time out of my busy day and actually write a blog. When I go days or even weeks at a time without even a photo posted, it usually isn't for lack of something to say, but more often than notit means so much is happening that I don't have time to stop and take note of it here at Nitty.Gritty. It also is very likely that I am dealing with stuff, emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually that are just hard for me to articulate, or that in fact, I would rather not even be dealing with, so I absolutely don't care to write it down and share it with the world.
I do always promise to keep it real around here- and have been criticized for being too raw even! But the fact is sometimes even I can't write it down and get it out in this format as I trudge through it. So I hold it inside and I am sure there will be lessons learned or great insights to this stuff later on. Sometimes you just have to sit in a place and let it unfold and then looking back it takes on a whole new meaning. I am sitting and waiting for meaning right now.
Now, when I say 'sitting and waiting' you know that isn't literally what I am doing! My to-do list as a mom to 6 kids ages 2 to 13 is never-ending and after having just moved a month ago and throwing in Thanksgiving and now Christmas, well, it is just a phrase I use. I am sitting and waiting in my heart and mind. But I am otherwise busy keeping up with the kids' schedules and events and getting them back into their new-ish routine. There are things that changed and things that stayed the same since we moved a year ago, and it is still a bit of an adjustment getting it all feeling "back to normal".
I have been busy trying to make some cards for Christmas {that's a couple of different ones turning my favorite stamp into a Christmas card/banner} and actually get some in the mail before too long. I love playing with my scraps and glitter and just listening to Christmas music while I think of the people I am writing my cards to. It is a nice way for me to put my heart into something that is such a traditional part of Christmas. The mail! I know that real cards in the mailbox are getting rarer and rarer as technology has connected us more and more in recent years. But to me, instead of seeming like a waste of time, paper and energy, it seems even more important that the art of Christmas cards not get lost. To me it tells the receiver you are indeed as special in my life as I hope you know and this card is a way of saying so. I hope to never get too wrapped up in computers and phones and such that cards aren't a part of Christmas. Last year we had just moved and there was no way I could get cards out to friends. This year feels good for me to be able to do that and to handmake some of my cards is a gift to me as much as it mightbe to anyone else who gets one.
To prove my point and to just have some random holiday fun, I would love for any of you who still read to leave me a comment and just say Merry Christmas, or share your favorite holiday food or Christmas cookie. Tell me a way you are going to make this year special for someone less fortunate than you or where you are heading for Christmas day. Any comment will do, really. I will choose one {or two, if that many of you actually leave a readers are sparse these days!} and send you a Christmas card and photo. Just make sure to share your email address or come back and check to see if you've won. I will choose the winner by next Thursday {Dec. 20th} which just so happens to be my 40th birthday too! It should be a wild day for me!
I posted a picture of Wyndham and me here because she is just doing so well right now. I always worry a bit more about her as the winter approaches because she has not faired so well through the years when it comes to her weakened immune system and all the viruses and junk that gets passed around everywhere you go. For her, even a cold and flu has far too often turned into a hospital stay. Last year was her first year since she her head injury that she didn't need an ER visit or extended stay for any reason. I am hoping we can make that a tradition too and go for at least two consecutive years! It would be a wonderful thing for her and us as a family. Hospital stays are rough on everyone!
Wyndham is finishing up some evaluations at her rehabilitation center and will be back on a regular schedule again. She so loved her aquatherapy before and the pool was such a motivator for her. She has been much more mobile and even a bit independent in our home sine moving back here. I don't know if she is just more comfortable in the space or what it is exactly, but it is still even a bit shocking for me to look back to the dining table for instance, and see that she has left her spot and is off in another room. After not having gotten up from her spot for over 2 years, it is just surprising to see her do things like that on her own. The fact that she doesn't speak or really make noise is another reason it's unexpected and surprising. She would make a great spy I think. =) Her happiness is something that I never take for granted.
I love the picture of her and I because the truth is it was a bit cold and windy that day out at the beach. She doesn't really like being outdoors in the first place, much less in the cold, wind and blowing sand. I am just so proud of her and the way that she lets us push her sometimes and proud of how she pushes her own self at other times. It's sometimes a tricky dance to do- especially as a mom whose heart is bent on her comfort and ease and happiness moreso than on her growth and overcoming obstacles. She didn't want to take one step onto the state beach for our family pictures that day. We coaxed her as the other kids took off running. Teague and Crew were ahead of all of us, even though they're the youngest and smallest. She made some faces to let us know that she was unsure, uncomfortable and would much rather get back inside the toasty van and watch us all have fun without her. But even as we tried telling her that the sand was okay for her to walk on and that we certainly weren't going to let her lose her footing in it, she held on tightly. She looks to us for a lot of support, and yet we know that it's not always best for her to just sit back and watch life happen around her. The more steps we took, the trickier it got for the first bit of the beach. The sand dunes are tall and the wind was really blowing and the sand was in the air too. It wasn't your typical day at the beach.
She hung in there. We got a blanket out and let her sit down and just get a sense of the space she was in as we gathered the other kids around for an attempt at a family picture. I fully expected her to be in tears as I reached down to straighten the corner of the blanket she was on and the wind snapped it and sand went in her hair and eyes. As I helped brush her off and get her eyes cleared, instead of tears, Wyndham let out a small chuckle. I knew then that she was going to make this experience better than I had expected. She ended up walking a long ways down by the water and she held some items the kids picked up- a stick, some dune grass and all the while I was thinking how amazing it was that she was even here. How many times she pulled through something that was threatening her physically. She has had too many listless days for me to count over the years. I have seen her at her worst and it still comes to my mind in nightmares at times. So to see her beaming in a place where I would never expect her to shine was a really special thing for me to see. I could brag on all my other kids {and maybe I will get some more time to do so!} too, but Wyndham's smiles will always be a bit different and hold a meaning that I feel in my heart better than I can put into words. To have been by her side as she has lived through some really traumatic things; the challenges she still has and always will; the day-to-day struggles that she has endured and yet to see her smile in a picture like this as though life has been nothing but sunny is astounding to me. I know there will be days that are hard for her yet to come. But knowing she has such strength and a deep happiness in spite of it all is inspiring to me. I haven't been on top of my game lately, and I hoping that reminders like this from Wyndham will light the fire in me again. She certainly deserves me being my best and I love her so much I am willing to shoot for that now and always! Okay...the comments are open if you care about getting a card from less-than-perfect me. =) Happy twelve, twelve, twelve Day too!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Happy month of December.

Happy December, indeed. I am so looking forward to this month of reflection and celebration. Even, or maybe because of, a year of feeling unsettled and yet blessed in so many ways, it just seems fitting to take some time to ponder it all and to look to the One who is the cause of joy in our hearts and lives always.
I am sharing some of the things I created using the December Cocoa Daisy kit called, "Hello my name is". It was one of my favorite kits to date since I joined the team this past July. I have loved setting up my scrapspace in our new "old" home the past couple of weeks. I have loved getting to make cards and miniboooks and pages using a whole host of fun, colorful and new products~ including my personal favorite stamp exclusive to the Cocoa Daisy boutique- those antlers. =) {You can view my December gallery here.}
My love for them has grown seemingly out of nowhere, and it continues to grow too! At one point antlers became my symbol for hope and anticipation. So it's only fitting for me to use that image during this Christmas season, but also anytime I need to hold onto the ideal of what is yet to come. They sort of embody for me what life is about- that spot in our hearts that believes in a bright future and of good yet to come. For me it's not just about the fun and festivities, but the true belief that God is still at work in our broken, fallen world and that the belief in His Son, Jesus whom He sent t earth as a baby in a manger came not just as a cute story for the holiday season. But He came to enter into our human world and feel and experience it- as dark and cold and bleak as it is at times- He not only lived it and felt it all, but He brought hope and light and healing to those of us who believe in Him as Jesus and God. He came to save. He came to restore. He came because He is God and He is love! That reality never changes, no matter what our circumstances are in life. For that reason alone, we ALL can celebrate and choose Joy this time of year. I love that this time of year brings reason to rejoice- or maybe just the reminder for many of us who have forgotten or were overwhelmed at times in our year that there is always hope, always more peace and love and joy out there for the taking. We just have to have open hearts and eyes that are willing to look for it and then sit back and wait for God to reveal it to us in His way and in His time.
I am ever grateful for the way He shows us He is still very much involved in our world. In big and small ways. The Bible tells us that He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He cares and loves us always! What a wonderful promise and yet more reasons to celebrate the God of every season.
I don't know what my future holds. I don't know what job my husband will get. Or if I will have to get a job too! =) I don't know why we moved out of state and back again in a year. I don't know why we were called to have Teagan taken from our lives more than a decade ago, and yet we miss her and wish she were still a very real part of our family photos to this day. I don't know why Wyndham has struggled to get back on her feet for two years, nor do I know what she will accomplish in her life as a result of her hard work in therapy for more than a decade now too. I don't know what the future holds for any of my kids or for any of us. But I do know that we can rest assured that when we take hold of not just the story of Jesus, but if we truly believe in the one who was sent to save, that we can walk day by day with a peace that passes all understanding and that gives assuarance to us that everything is going to work out in the end.
I am hoping to rest more and claim that peace even more in the coming days and years even. God is so good and even when we can't see it, feel it, sense it or taste it in our daily lives, I do know that we can trust God to be true to His promises to us. Always.
Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."