Thursday, August 31, 2006

I was good!

Today I had a phone interview with some judges as part of the Creating Keepsake's Scrapbooker of the Year contest that I am a finalist in. I have to say, that it was a fun step in this process of finding out who wins this big thing.
I was on the phone with Lisa Bearnson, Ali Edwards, Tracy White, and Leslie Miller. And do you know what I said when they called me? I said, "Hello...welcome to my home!" I told them if they were to actually stop by, I would have offered them all a piece of the zucchini bread that I had just baked. So, I am pleased with how that part of the contest went. My biggest regret is that I couldn't keep them on the phone for an hour. I could have talked a lot longer...but I definitely feel that I gave them a taste of the authentic me- so now it's up to them. The title here refers not to me doing an exceptional interview, but rather that I kept my cool and didn't do any of my silly cartoon impersonations or any other less than professional gigs that I am known for in some circles. The types of things that my hubby flashes me a look for when we are out with his boss or with members of his club. Or the things that my kids love about me- but hey, most of them are preschoolers...and you know what kind of humor those kinds of kids like! So, I was good- in that I tried to be myself, yet I behaved at the same time. That takes skill for me!
There are a lot of talented, amazing designers in this contest, so I know that whatever happens from here on out is just gonna be more fun for me. Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support from so many of you.
Now we get to sit and wait til October 10th, when the winner is announced. I'm sure the day will be here before I know it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Marriage is what bwings us together too-day"

This post is not meant to spark a debate {nor was that the intention of my previous post}. I'm not writing here to come off as a know-it-all or even that I have the right answers sometimes. Besides, I recognize that I am 'young' and that my beliefs and ideas are constantly being challenged, reviewed, refined and in the end, either changed to fit my new way of thinking, or they grow in credibilty and truth. And, in case you're wondering about the's a line from one of my beloved movies of all time, "The Princess Bride".
I say all that because of where I am headed with my thoughts. Keep in mind, that is what they are- my thoughts. You may agree or disagree, but that is for you to test and find out in your own life. I like to share my thoughts, first, for me- I have them to come back to and to "see" what I was thinking on a particular day or in certain instances of my life. But I write them also, to make you think, and sometimes I get feedback and that makes me think too. That's what I like about blogging versus journaling- there are other ideas coming at me- often times they encourage or support me and even stretch me. It's a two-way street. (At least it ideally, Mr. K...wink!)
I had the rare opportunity of seeing about 7 minutes of the Oprah Show on Monday this week. Oprah's guest that day was Lance Armstrong's ex-wife. (Which, right off the bat fuels the 'debate' that I am addressing here.) The part of the conversation I caught, was about marriages and how the very basis of it requires that a person submit and lose a part of themself to another person- or simply the institution itself.
I listened, maybe not long enough to get the whole story, which is why I am not knocking Oprah and her show, but long enough to want to share some of my own thoughts and the questions it raised in me.
First off, let me say that I fully believe that it is not right for every person to be married in this world. In fact, I know several people who are married who would have been "better off" staying single. Or at least single long enough to learn that they indeed wanted to be married. I think people marry for the wrong reasons all the time. I think weddings have become 'big business' and they create a longing in some hearts- which draws people to 'think' they want to be married, when in fact, they just want a really cool, big, personalized party with lots of fanfare and fun- or maybe simply are craving love and attention...and weddings can certainly fill that longing.
I also have been married for 11 years, so what I'm saying comes from that perspective and that I understand some of the challenges and issues that marriage can bring into life.
The idea that marriage means losing yourself can be very real in a lot of relationships. However, I believe that it comes from things being out-of-balance in the lives of the married couple- not from the marriage itself. Oprah suggests that she hasn't married because she didn't want to give up a part of herself- probably the part she feels she has worked very hard for in life. And I think it's great that she has recognized that within, and not gotten married. It very likely would have ended by now. She has a big name and a self-confidence and lots of people pulling her in every direction at any given time. To think that she could share all that within a marriage and not have issues seems impossible to me (although she could pull it off if she chose to, with the right person and only with God at the center). I applaud her for 'knowing' that she shouldn't marry and for being smart and following her own intuition.
But, I still have issues with the idea that marriage somehow often means that one or the other person loses a part of themselves in the process. That certianly happens alot, but I believe it is a result of people's choices and ultimately can point back to the fact that we live in a broken (sinful) world. So, why would marriages be any different? I think that if a marriage is based on love and respect and keeps God at the very center, it is very difficult for that marriage to fall apart. Not that it can't ever fall apart- because even some of the greatest marriages have failed; not because of marriage- but because the people married are human.
The example of Lance Armstrong's ex-wife made me sad. Just like when I talked about Nick and Jessica. The very fact that I can't type this lady's name because she is referred to as another person's ex-wife is part of the problem. I'm sure her name was flashed up on the screen at various times throughout the show. I'm sure Oprah introduced her and called her by her name- but she talked about losing herself- and yet she goes by someone else's title in life- still! I am not passing blame here, but I would think she would want to go first by her name...and then occasionally use the title- as a reference maybe, for people to understand her crediblity. Or in my case-to think through some of the issues that resulted in her divorce. She talked about always giving and always seeing herself in light of her husband. It's sad that she and HE were willing to sacrifice their marriage for the things that they did. Again, I don't know all the reasons, but I'm sure a big part of it was Lance's career and fame. It's obvious that to be where he's at in his game (biking) required him to take more from the relationship and marriage that he gave.
I think that's what happens in many marriages. Other things- jobs, money, self-image, kids, the belief that you are owed 'more' out of life...any number of things- become the priority, and that sets up marriage for failure. Virtually every time.
In the end, I can say that marriage is not an easy thing. If it is easy for you, then you must be doing it absolutely right all the time- and that can only be done, I believe, with God at the center too. That's how He designed marriage. He wants each person to love Him first, the other second, and themselves last. It should never be a situation where a person loses themself, but it should be a place where you 'find' yourself and become all that God has designed you to be- if He so intended you to be married in the first place.
That's my take on all this. As always, the place for your questions/concerns/feedback/support is open for you to do so in the comments or in an email to me. Next stop for me? To google Lance Armstrong and see how far down I have to go before I find his ex-wife's name. =)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A quick response...

To whomever it was who posted about it being God's will that Teagan was killed by a car crashing into a restaurant- that God's not like that. I have this to say...and I mean this most sincerely too.
I do not believe it was God's will for Teagan to be killed in that way either. I believe that it hurt Him- not just her death, but what happened to all of us there that day. I do believe that there is sin and evil in this world, and because of that, bad things happen- even to so-called good people. We were doing nothing wrong that Sunday morning....going to church services and out for brunch as a family. But somehow, evil touched our lives and caused utter devastation- through the selfish acts of one woman.
While I do not believe God wanted that to happen, unfortunately, that is the choice that the woman driver made. Her actions claimed Teagan's life. However, I know for a fact that Teagan is in Heaven with God today, and that most definitely IS His will for her life. I hope beyond hopes that it is His will for the rest of my children to spend eternity with Him, as well as all my family, friends and many others I touch along the way.
That is why I choose to accept what has happened. Not because I believe it was God's will, but that I hope my assurance and faith leads others to seek God and find this same faith that I have. One that offers assurance of Heaven, and one that teaches me that someday, all that I have lived through will make sense and will give me peace forever.
And in case anyone else has questions such as this, I appreciate them and the gut-level honesty they address. Faith is not an easy thing to understand. Which is exactly what I struggled with late yesterday afternoon. But, I find that God is there even when we question Him, and sometimes just having this type of "dialogue" strengthens my beliefs. And that is a very good thing indeed. So, thank you, anonymous, for that deep thought. I hope my answer helps you out.

It takes me back.

I have to be honest here, since that's what I believe my Nitty.Gritty. is all about. I don't want you all to start believing that I am a superhero or something.
Yesterday, as the day went on, I realized that I still hold some 'raw', edgey feelings inside. After last week, where I thought about, prayed about, talked about, and then watched a part of my life's story (the very moments that altered the course of my life forever) unfold in front of me again, I was very in touch with those feelings I still carry around with me. {See my July archives for more of my story.} I guess I have gotten good at moving through my day to day routine without digging them up all the time. Some days, for various reasons as I just noted, those feelings come rushing back at full speed.
I found myself "slipping" throughout the day, and the hurt and pain and reality of my life kind of overwhelmed me. More than it has in a long time. My throat hurt. I ached in my heart and hurt for myself and the stuff I live with as a result of our tragedy. Not that I'm owed a pain-free life or have it so rough...but still, I found myself wishing.
I was wishing I didn't have to take Wyndham to and from therapy- that she could walk and talk just like lots of kids her age. I was wishing I didn't have to change her pants and give her a shot- because everytime I do those things it is a constant reminder that no matter how many days have passed since our incident, we still bear scars. And there will always be pain and hurt because of what happened to us that day.
So, I was getting snippy with the kids. Which I always find ironic- that the more I miss Teagan and the way my life could have turned out, causes me to snap at every little thing. You'd think I would be hugging my kids more and giving them a break. But for some reason, I start feeling sorry for myself and they get the short end of it all. Now, maybe they just were pushing my buttons more than usual, maybe it was the rainy, drizzly day. Maybe it was that I didn't get my morning bike ride in- I don't know.
I finally told myself that maybe I needed to hear my own message. Even though I'd heard it and seen it the day before, I felt like I needed to reassure my inner being. I think I needed to see that I wasn't just saying the words, but that I still believe them in my own heart. So, I pulled out the video of Teagan's first memorial service. It was held not quite one month after her death. Both Chip and I spoke at her service. I had myself in tears. Definitely a mixture of tears- those of sorrow and of relief. What surprised me most is that after watching and listening to myself and Chip, I found that our story hasn't changed- even after 5 years.
Much of what we said at Teagan's service was what we repeated in church on Sunday. That same peace and hope that I share with you on this blog and that I feel in my life, was what we talked about since the very beginning of all of this. Our pastor at that time talked in great length about the two of us, and that we how we were responding to our incident was simply an extension of what we felt inside. We had a deep faith, a deep peace and an even greater hope- that we will see Teagan again someday. We were living our faith.
I thanked God through my tears yesterday, for giving me those gifts. The fact that I feel sorrow and sadness doesn't mean that my faith is waivering, but that I am still on the journey toward what I hope you all seek. The journey toward Heaven- where we will not be separated from God any longer. I realize the ache in my heart sometimes isn't because I don't feel or believe the reality of my faith- but that I long for it to be complete. I know that can only happen in one place- in the presence of God.
Until I reach that glorious destiny, I guess I should expect times in my life to take me back. And thankfully, when I go back to that 'place' in my heart, I find what I need to get me through. Faith and hope and eyes that look forward to eternity. There's nothing better than knowing that you are on the right track. I thank God for His continued grace and assurance in my life. I hope you find it in your life each day too.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Practically 'live' person...

Here you are. The link to the message Chip and I shared with our Pastor and congregation at church this morning.
A few things to note- it starts off with a portion of our story as it aired on the Oprah Winfrey Show- you will hear audio which describes what happened to us the day our tragic incident unfolded.
Next, Pastor Bill Rudd does a sort of interview, in which Chip and I answer questions or share our thoughts in response to his questions or comments.
Click on the following link, and it will get you to the page in which you can choose which format you would like to listen or download the message. Our story is told within the sermon on Aug. 27, 2006 series #8 "Why doesn't a loving God eliminate suffering?". I hope you find this worthwhile.
And for the record, Chip, you are right. I do tend to speak too fast when I get talking about this part of my life. I'll work on that for next time.
Thanks to so many of you who prayed for us the past day or two. We felt very much at ease telling our story, and I didn't even have issues with what to wear to church this morning. Sometimes that can be the biggest hassle of getting out the door. Not today. Even my hair cooperated with me. All went well. =)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hopscotch & buttercream =)

Summer countdown-

First of all, I was surprised that none of you really loyal readers left a comment in regards to bumper stickers yesterday about me. I thought for sure someone would say they want a 'Nitty.Gritty. for President' or an 'I read Nitty.Gritty.' bumper sticker on the back of their SUV. Or SAAB or classic black 1984 Porsche. Doesn't anyone want the value of their vehicle to go UP? =)
The final countdown of summer is happening at my house right now. We've done some school supply shopping already, and have had several fights over the new backpacks and who gets what.
I thought it would be fun for us to do the 'Twelve Days til School Starts' as an activity for the if they need more drama and excitement to wrap up their summer. I told Brock we could make a list of 12 things to do before summer is over and school starts. We are already behind by a day or two...but I'm sure we can make up for it and do 2 or 3 fun things in one day. Today, I tried to just hang out and let the kids do their thing. That included a few games of hopscotch {pictured here}, sprinkler fun, Ava found a puddle at the neighbor's and got very dirty and loved every second of it, popsicles, and pizza.
The main event for the day then was baking cupcakes, frosting them and do-it-yourself sprinkles. Uh-huh, those were a hit, and I've got lots of them under the dining room table to prove it. To those of you who were back in the swing of things already- hope all went well. And to those of us who have another full week of summer left- hang in there!
Tomorrow morning is the day Chip and I speak in church. Some of you have asked about getting a copy of our service or a link online. I'll see what I can do for you. {After I see how it goes and whether or not I'd like for you to hear it! =)} That's called editing- I'm getting good at that.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Read any good bumper stickers lately?

How good is that? I can go from talking indepth about faith to chatting about bumper stickers with nothing in between. Anyone that knows me well would tell you that I am just like this in real life too. I can change topics at the drop of a hat. Maybe it's from growing up as the middle child. I don't know. That whole birth order explanation for how people turn out in life is being used for lots of things these days. I told you I can change topics quickly. You maybe didn't even notice I had done it- I'm that good at it. =)
Today, on my way to dropping off Wyndham at 'syrupy' {therapy}, I was stopped behind a truck with a bumper sticker that read, "The more people I meet, the more I love my dog". I know I've seen it before, but this time I actually started to think it through and I wondered to myself, where is this guy hanging out...where is he meeting new people? I hope it's just a joke in the end, otherwise I think it's really sad. That either he has no control over who he is meeting; maybe because of a job he can't leave, or maybe he has some new, nasty neighbors. I don't know, but sometimes I think people use bumper stickers to express truths in their lives.
So, here's my little gig for you today. If you were to stick a bumper sticker on your vehicle, what would it say...or if you already have one, what does it say? I think this could be interesting.
Maybe I could even scrap a page about funny bumper sticker sayings. Alright now, go. As an extra bonus, tell me the color and make of your vehicle. I think that tells a lot about a person too! Like Heidi Swapp...she's selling her little 'bug convertible'. That car is just so her. {cute!}

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If there is such a thing...

I personally don't believe there could be a point in someone's life where they get 'faith overload'. I know in my life, I have had a deep-rooted faith since the age of four, and I feel like I am just now- nearly 30 years later beginning to understand what faith is all about. I am not a theologian or one who reads and studies as much as I can about religious or faith-based topics, but I do spend time reading my Bible each week (notice I didn't even type 'each day'...I don't always get into the Bible like I should).
I try to read a daily devotional- if nothing else to get my thoughts jump-started on a topic that may make me question my faith or lead me to a deeper understading of my faith because of the truth it contains. I pray everyday, and I am constantly asking for God's strength and guidance in my life. That is something I will need from now until I step foot into eternity!
My thoughts the past few days have been focused on different questions and answers I have found in life because of this faith that I claim. My faith is based on a personal relationship I have with Jesus, God's Son. I believe He died on a cross and paid the penalty for my sins, and now that I have asked for forgivenenss of my sins, I have received the free gift of eternal life with God in a place He is preparing called Heaven.
It's not something I have earned, it's not something that has made me perfect (just ask Chip!), and although it was a simple thing on my part, to put my belief in God, it has not always been easy.
That is sort of the basis of what Chip and I will be sharing with the people of our church this Sunday morning. We will be speaking with our Pastor about how a person can have 'Hope in the Hard Times'. Chip and I have the privilege of sharing the life and death of Teagan and some of the challenges we have faced as a result of grief, trauma and the ongoing struggles we now live with as a result of someone else's bad choice in life.
In thinking of what it is that I have to say, and in response to many of the comments and emails I receive each week, I am first of all, amazed as I look back on all that God has led me through in life. I realize that I have lived through some of life's biggest hurts (that of losing a beautiful little girl- full of potential and love) and had the security and routine of my life pulled out from under me. Many of you know that life can be stressful enough- without any 'added' challenges thrown in most of the time. The day to day things in life can wear us thin. Marriage and kids and jobs and money and inlaws =) and bosses =) and even the checkout lady at Wal-Mart can or the people in the car in front of us on the freeway...all of these can create stress or tension or discouragement or depression or self pity or worry or just ongoing hurt. These things, all on their own, can zap the fun out of life in a hurry. Or little by little, but it turns into a big thing after awhile.
I had a lot of that stuff going on in my life even before the incident on July 29, 2001 that created the greatest pain of my life to date. Chip and I had only 6 months earlier, found our daughter, Wyndham blue and not breathing- she was 3 weeks old and weighed about 5 and a half pounds. She was airlifted to Hurley Hospital in Flint, MI and hooked up to life support. There are a lot of details that I could go into, but the short version is that we were able to bring her home after five days in the ICU. She needed close attention afterwards and some medication, but she was alright. At that time, we were thanking God for how He had spared Wyndham's life, and when we got home to our other kids, we realized that a lot of the 'big concerns' in our lives suddenly didn't seem so big. We were overjoyed to just be together and have our life back to 'normal'.
Then, almost exactly six months to the day later, all three of my kids plus Chip, were airlifted to the same hospital- all listed in critical condition. Wyndham was even admitted to the very same bed that she had had on her previous stay. It was eerie. It was unbelievable. It still chokes me up when I picture the scene in my mind. I couldn't believe that the God I had fallen to my knees for asking Him to give me Wyndham back, was now allowing me to go through this pain- only to the greatest extent I could imagine.
One would expect in that situation, that the reality of my life would overwhelm me and that I wouldn't stand a chance at ever becoming 'whole' in life again. That's what I would think too...and it was happening TO ME. But do you know what? God was there, just as He had been in my life, since the young age of four when I invited Him in. I remembered so often wanting to give God all of me, but feeling like what I had to offer would still never be enough- even if it was all of me. I can tell you that in those moments of my life, when I didn't want to live through the next moment because it hurt so bad, or I didn't want the next update from the doctor- because what he would say would rip out whatever bit of hope I was clinging to at that time, when I didn't want to think, breathe, eat, sleep, feel, hurt, or even begin to know what to do next, in those very moments God was there. And He was real to me. More real than He had ever been in my life before. Even when things were at their best in my life- I had never experienced God as I did when things were at their very worst. I remember telling God that I couldn't make sense of what was happening, that maybe I didn't even want to make sense of it, but that I would do one thing in the midst of it. I would trust Him.
That is all I have done from that moment on in my life. I have trusted Him when things didn't seem worth living for. I have trusted Him when I was overwhelmed with worry and grief and despair in life. I have trusted that somehow He could make sense of it for me...maybe not even fully, but enough of a way so that I could find reason for living and finding hope in life once again.
My belief is that an individual can have 'Hope in the Hard Times' first and foremost through a faith in God. I don't know how people get through life's hardships without faith. I suppose that is why there are so many people in this world messed up in the wrong things. Like alcohol and drugs and addictions to shopping and sex and work and a host of other things that people think are gonna bring them change and happiness in life. Those things leave people empty and wanting more. I believe that the pain of those situations in a person's life is the very thing that could drive them to faith in God.
When you realize that nothing tangible in life brings peace and happiness- no matter how good or wonderful it may be- when you realize that there is nothing you can do on your own to bring inner comfort and peace, I believe that is where you find God. And when you surrender your life to Him and live each day dependant on Him as your source of comfort and strength and joy, then you will experience freedom from any trial or hurt that life may bring your way. That is how you find hope in the hard times.
Now I suppose I can go print this out and read from it on Sunday morning when I get to share this amazing reality with the people of my church. I only hope that it makes a little bit of sense.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Maybe I should start collecting retro goods.

I've been more and more excited about vintage prints and patterns and clothing and home decor than ever before in my life lately. My sisters will tell you that they are not surprised by that. I shopped at a local Ragstock when I was in junior high. I was never really into the latest fashion trends. (Sometime I'll scan and post my senior picture and you'll realize this statement fully.)
After that line about Nitty.Gritty. June Cleaver, I spent some time looking up vintage clothing and specifically retro aprons. I found some great patterns, including the Butterick apron pictured here today.
Hmmmm. I'm thinking in all my free time I might just have to go pick some funky fabric out and find myself a simple pattern and sew myself a little apron. I promise if I actually make one, I will post a photo of myself wearing it. No matter how poorly it turns out in the end.
I was thinking of baking my favorite zucchini bread tonight...instead, I just had a great idea for a scrap page. So, I'm off to jot a rough draft of the layout in my notebook. Then hopefully I'll get some creative time alone in my scrap room tonight to work on the real deal. Here's to finding ideas and retro stuff too. Love that!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The not-so-perfect Kodak moments...

Because I believe in fair and balanced journalism, today I present to you the 'other' photos. These include ones where my kids are not looking into my camera nor are they thrilled with having it in their face in the middle of an ordinary day.
Yeah- I even included a picture of three of them fighting on the floor. I am a scrapbooker through and through- I take pictures of my kids fighting, and then crying when life doesn't turn out the way they would have liked it to.
The funny part of these photos is the stories behind them though. Like the one of Wyndham in the mirror. More often than not, she takes her pants off herself, or doesn't let me put her skirt back on her after being changed. So, here you see that played out in the photo. Most of the time I try and crop the photo tighter, or have her sitting down. Not this picture. It's her looking into a dirty, smudged mirror. And that one of Ava? I had taken a few of her smiling- her first time in her big girl bed. Then when I turned to go and said 'goodnight', she changed her whole facial expression. The reality had just sunk in that she was expected to stay where she was the rest of the night. Suddenly the smile was gone.
That picture of Bella crying makes her burst out laughing when she looks at it now. In the moment it wasn't funny one bit. Now she LOVES that picture. Silly girl. She's gonna be one fun teenager, I know this already. =)
There you have it. Now you know it's not always nice and pretty at my house. If I were to post pictures of my house at this moment, you would wonder who ransacked it while I was away. Crayons, books, Thomas the Train, Barbies, you name it- it's everywhere.
I'm not the Nitty.Gritty. June Cleaver kind of chic I portray myself as everyday. That's why I posted these pictures. It's real life around here, and today that means things are a little bit scattered. But that's okay with me...once in awhile.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Things that stir my heart...

I went over 24 hours without turning on my computer. I can hardly believe it myself! A whole day without writing on or reading other blogs.
In that time, I snapped a lot of pictures. I am learning that I can get some great pictures of my kids when I snap them individually versus trying to get more than one kid to do what I like. Basically I am learning that doing anything with them- four little ones against me, is a challenge. So, the one-on-one time or using candy as a bribe seems to be working well around here. =)
Those four smiling faces can make me look deep inside and say, 'I'm not worthy'. I still remember saying over and over again, "I'm never having kids", and now look at me. I've been blessed more than I should ever have been through them.
Music. I have loved music my whole life. My mom claims I used to sing hymns in their entirety even as young as age four- in my sleep. =) Funny. Chip never claims to hear me singing in the night these days. But, I still sing-everyday. I sing with the radio in the car. I crank cd's and belt out songs at dinner with my kids (my poor neighbors during the summer months). I sing in my head when words come to mind. I sing with my eyes open or shut. I love all sorts of music, but find inspirational songs stir my heart.
Last night, Brock and I went out on a date. Just Brock and me. It was a gorgeous night and so we headed downtown Grand Haven and took in the fresh air and sat in the second row while we watched 'Selah' in concert. From old hymns to 'God bless the broken road' to Dolly Pardon's 'Coat of many colors' was awesome. We had time to save our seats and grab a little something at the Dairy Treat before it all started. Nothing like letting your kid know that you love spending time with him, enjoying a Maui flurry (Hello, Coconut! What did you think I'd order?) and taking in the sights of the boats on the waterway with uplifting music touching my soul.
I didn't even miss my blog yesterday. As for my email...I see I am getting way behind in responding to some of my 'new fans'. My apologies. I have read all of the notes up til 5:00 pm tonight, and usually I try to drop a reply right back at ya. I've had some Scrapper of the Year stuff that's kept me busy the past few days as well, so that is partly why I seem to have slipped.
If you don't hear from me and you'd really like to, drop me another email in the next day or two as a reminder. That way I'll see that you really ARE a fan. =)
In the meantime, I hope that you take time in your week to think about or enjoy some of the little things in life that stir your heart. All you have to do is look around or within yourself. Surely if you stop and think about it, there is more than enough in your life to make your heart sing!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What is it about her anyway?

Earlier today I was torn away from the computer to give my kids some morning lovin' and get them breakfast. I had kind of gotten sidetracked in my blogpost anyway, so now I am back trying to bring back my original thoughts and make sense of them for you to read.
I was humbled, once again, when earlier in the week I started getting emails from people via Carrie {Colbert} Batt's blog. She and I met at my awesome scrap event in Birmingham back in April. We talked maybe 10-15 minutes, snapped a photo together and I remember thinking how I could never imagine being her- tall, smart, beautiful, young and seemingly had life all figured out.
Anyway, she blogged some really nice things about me, and I am grateful to her for that. I didn't beg her to say those things, there was no exchange of money...nothing like that. I did however, earlier in the week, pray and ask God for my blog to touch someone who needed to hear a word from Him. I asked God to use me for His purpose. And do you know what? The next day I opened my inbox and had more than one note answering this prayer I had just prayed.
I don't know why I find it amazing. I mean, I should totally expect that God would do something so simple- such as my blog. I mean, in the past He has used burning bushes, floods, giant fish, small loaves of bread, blindness, prostitues, tax collectors, donkeys, angels, and even rods and snakes to make Himself known. So, why I should I be surprised that in this century, He even uses words on a computer screen?
My point is that I want to make it perfectly clear, that I am not the one responsible for who I am and how I have been able to respond to the difficulties in my life. I have had a personal relationship with God, who has held me together when my world was falling apart. He has shown grace and mercy and given me more blessings than I deserve. I have a hope that there is something beyond this life that He has waiting for me someday. If it were not for my faith and this hope, life would simply be a cruel hoax.
Instead, I have found that God is true to His promises- offering me comfort and peace and joy in my life, despite my doubts, anger and hurt. He has taken the brokeness of my life and transformed it into something that makes me look good most of the time. =)
I know that not everyone shares this same faith that has sustained me in life's most trying times. I know that life still has some rough spots ahead...just as it holds for many of you. It may be financial struggles, relationship issues, or physical conditions that strike to the very core of your heart and mind. And yet, I believe that it is at times such as these, that God wants us to hand Him all our problems. I think He wants us to realize there is nothing we are able to do about these things on our own. When we recognize this need, and then hand Him the problems we are facing, the questions we are asking, and the pain that we are feeling, it is in these things that He makes Himself clear. Perfectly clear...if we are willing to seek Him with our whole heart.
That is what you see in me. {I hope.} That when I had nothing but pain and hurt and anger and bitterness and emptiness to offer this world and those around me, THAT is when God began to pour Himself out into me and make me something totally different.
I am constantly seeking to become more of that. I choose to ask God for all that He can be in and through me. Anything good that you see in me, comes not from anything I could have said or done on my own. It comes only from being willing to be a vessel for God to be seen in me. That's what my faith is about. I encourage you, if you don't share this faith, or if what I am writing creates more questions for you, that you will simply ask God to make Himself known in your life. If you have hurt, anxieties, challenges, or any issue consuming your thoughts and clouding your joy, I urge you to hand them all to God. Ask Him to hold you and your mess, and I promise you that you too, will be amazed at what God can do- just by piecing the broken parts of you back together.

Commercial jingles-

I mentioned awhile back that I rarely watch television, even though there are three of them in my house, and they are on almost all the time. So, when I get a commercial 'jingle' in my head, it usually is one that is no longer running on tv.
Take, for instance, a Sprite commercial...if you remember this one sing along.
The words are, Verse 1:
You know you make me want to laugh.
I like the funny things you do.
You're such a kick to have around...I like the Sprite in you.
v2: The way you make me want to smile. I like the way you sparkle too.
You've got a style that's all your own...I like the Sprite in you!
(Don't quote me on those exact I said, it's been awhile.)
I have no idea why I still remember this little tune. I do remember singing along with the tv on this one. It was cute and catchy- there was something about it that clicked with me, I guess. In advertising, that doesn't happen often. (I do buy Diet Sprite every once in awhile- but most often I choose Diet Squirt or Fresca as my clear softdrink choice.)
I'm writing all this to say that I think some of you think of me like that Sprite's cute and it's got some nice things to say. But maybe you're still not buyin' it. The 'it' here is me.
You come back for a quick read each day or at the end of a hectic week, and I'm still here. Got my pictures and my funny mishaps or thoughtful insights and sort of look like I have life all figured out. I've even come through some horrible things, and I'm not too shabby because of them- in looks or attitude. I know some of you are wondering "what gives"? Like there's gotta be a catch somewhere.
In fact, not too long ago, one of you {anonymous} asked if I had ever taken anti-depressants or other medications to help me after my trauma and to deal with grief. The answer is 'no'. And my husband, Chip, and I have not been to grief counseling or support groups as such. We did have overwhelming community support, a wonderful church full of friends who would do anything for us- anytime- we just had to say the word. Or even not intentionally say the word. Here's one example. I was talking with some friends while we sat at Chip's bedside after it had been a couple of long weeks already. I happened to bring up the subject of hospital food. (I apologize if you work in hospital food service- I'm not directing this at you, if this strikes a chord with you.) I had grown tired of the food that was served- even though there were lots of choices. And actually, when I think about it now, it's not just about the food, but about being 'tired' of the whole hospital environment and experience. It was completely draining and exhausting most days. And yet, I hardly slept a wink in three weeks. SO, back to my story.
I said something about the food and how I couldn't wait to get home and get something homecooked and tasty. Then I added, "I could go for some good icecream too." That was it. Imagine my tears (that flowed for ANY reason back at that time in my life), when we came home to a brand new upright freezer, stocked full of food items, so that Chip and I didn't have to plan meals and cook for ourselves. A group of our friends had pooled their money and bought us a freezer. They made and bought items to fill it, including several pints of Haagen Daaz and Ben & Jerry's icecream. It was this kind of thoughtfulness and care and support that Chip and I appreciated and have leaned on more than we probably should have some times. And, we have the most amazing families that have come to our side more times than they probably wished sometimes too!
I was planning on sharing something other than all of this, but this has been good too. I've got little ones waking up telling me they love me and that their tummies want breakfast. I will finish my thoughts later today, or tomorrow, when I have more time to type.
And if you have the Sprite ad song in your head all day, my apologies. Really. =)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Balance and color and playing around...

Totally a thing I would I did it. There are probably a million other things I should be doing or could be doing (like writing belated thank-you's for Bella's birthday gifts last month), instead, I'm playing with Photoshop.
You can click on the image to see the photos enlarged...and then leave me a comment about what color you like best. You know- like a Nitty.Gritty. reader survey. I suppose I could leave these in a strip and turn it into a bookmark. I was just thinking that the pink might be a little too 'Heidi Swappish'. I've heard comments that I look like her or could be her sister. In this scrap-business, that's a compliment, but I definitely have my own thing going on. Actually, I think all the colors suit me- I think it's more my personality to have several colors as my signature. Not that I have split personalities, but that I lots of energy and interests...and I love colors!
I have no idea where all this bold, self-talk is coming from. I'm just having fun getting to know my inner self. I think it has to do in part, from the "me-time" I've been getting lately. Chip bought a new bike a few weeks ago, and I have managed to get up for morning rides (20-25 minutes) each morning...or at least almost every morning. It feels good. That fresh, morning air, the quiet of my neighborhoods, the birds chirping and the sun just starting to warm my face. It has made me realize for the first time in 33 years, that balance isn't just a nice idea to strive for in life, but that it actually has rewards and benefits.
I'm beginning to understand how all the 'parts' of me fit together- the spiritual, the mental, the emotional and the physical. While I know I'll never be a "Twiggy-type", there is something to be said about doing something for yourself physically to feel your best. I am loving the fact that for 20 minutes or so each day, I am refueling myself in more than one way. In doing a physical activity, I have added time for myself metally and spiritually. I haven't had to stretch myself out more thinly in other areas of my life, or taken away something to make way for this added benefit. It seems that it just naturally has worked itself out. I think that's the key to balance in the end. Not to give up, or to take away...but to somehow create an environment where all the pieces work together and run smoothly simultaneously.
Hear me out on this one, though. I'm not claiming that there aren't still issues in my life, or daily challenges and struggles. But, these pieces all have their place in my life. I guess one of those pieces is my creativity. Which is why I played around with colors inPhotoshop. Part of having balance in my life means having room for fun. Sometimes too much fun maybe. That's my choice...and as far as I'm concerned, fun and happiness always adds more balance to my life. I hope you find ways to incorporate balance into your own life. If things seems out of balance, maybe you should start by adding some color- some fun- some fresh air. Just add a little something to make you feel good, and I guarantee you, your life will for whatever reason, feel a bit more balanced. And that's a neat thing!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A new phase in our life-

We are in transition mode at my house this week. For the first time in almost ten long years, we do not have a crib in our home. Everyone is sleeping in a big-kid bed...or at least that's the long-term goal. =)
I'm a realist. That's why we started now, rather than in a couple of weeks at the start of school too. That would just be asking for trouble. So, there have been a few issues, a few new rules, and slowly, I am confident that this new phase will all be a distant memory in our minds.
Next goal- getting everybody out of diapers. I imagine myself being asked about my biggest accomplishment in life {this could be several years down the road}, and I will still answer, "getting all my kids out of diapers". I've got 3 down, two to go. I often joke with Chip, whenever he complains about aches and pains and aging- that he's not allowed to start wearing diapers until all the kids have a least been out of them for a year or two. Oh yeah, he LOVES when I say that. Hey? I told you I'm a realist!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Scrapping makes me happy.

I was in the middle of making this 2-page layout when I started seeing links for Elsie's 1st challenge posted on different blogs and scrap sites. I tried posting this at a couple of places, but apparently I need to scale down my file size. SO, in the meantime, I thought I'd post it here first. For all my scrap-readers to view.
The "100 Things" torn bits are and green-dot paper are KI Memories. The other background page is DCWV retro prints pack, and the smaller sheet of paper is from Studio K. It's also from a multipack paper out right now.
I won't list all the 100 things that are swirling the pages, but #26 originally read 'cats'. Now, I don't hate cats; I'm just not really a cat-person. I do love Hello Kitty and I know some of the songs from the musical 'Cats'...but that's about it. Oh yeah. ANd once my siblings and I won a snow sculpture contest for making a huge Garfield out of the snow in our front yard. We even had it colored orange and black, with food coloring and water. We got our picture taken by it, we won $15 I think, and our family celebrated with a pizza party.
As for a couple of other details- I was asked about those Caribou coffee bars yesterday. Yep- they are in some grocery stores right now. I think Target carries them too. As for my own homemade latte...I do have a froth maker thing. But, usually I just brew my coffee a tad stronger, then I cool it and pour it over a generous splash of that CoffeeMate coconut (liquid) creamer, some skim milk, and lots of ice. Saves me about $3.oo a cup. I still get the Starbucks beans- so it tastes almost like the real deal. Nitty.Gritty. style. That's it for today. Catch you later!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Coffee to go...

If you are a coffee lover in any way, you will understand my happiness with the production staff of this new product...Caribou Coffee Granola Bars. Sometimes I think that Teagan is up in Heaven in charge of new products like this one. Caribou Coffee is a Minnesota based- growing- national coffee shop. They specialize in pretty much the same stuff as Starbucks, only with an up-North, cabin-like feel to their shops. I think it was actually a trip to Alaska where some masterminds were hunting Caribou and instead they stumbled upon some good coffee. Yeah. That sounds like something that would make a group of men say, "Hey...we could market and sell high-end coffee with this stuff."
Anyway, Teagan loved Caribou Coffee...mostly the kid's flavored 'Hot Moo drinks', but also the Caramel Cooler. It's only fitting that Brock has picked up on one of her loves in life- better the love of coffee than her obsession for Barbie Dolls. =)
So, when I spied these on the shelf at our local grocery a couple of weeks ago, both Brock and I got a thrill. Right there in about aisle 8. I don't think the people behind these snacks have any idea how much simple joy they brought to our home that day. ANd the next, and the next. All of my kids love these. Six bars in a box doesn't last long around here. They smell as good as they we get a BoxTop to save for our school. Bonus!
I know Teagan probably has more exciting things to do than design products and goods that make me think of her or bring back fond memories. But it's fun to think she could be in on inspiring minds with ideas. I have no idea what angels do all day. Still it's fun to dream.
To all you coffee lovers out there, I highly recommend this new product. To my family, friends and fans in Minnesota, this makes me miss you all a little bit more. Okay. Maybe I just miss a tall Turtle Mocha, skinny- extra hot...but either way, consider yourselves thought of today. =)

Monday, August 14, 2006

I call this one "Nitty in Pink".

I guess it's not the worst thing a kid has had to do in life, but I sort of feel badly about 'making' Brock and Bella take a bunch of pictures of me the other day. This is one that I got when it was Bella's turn. She actually started having fun and kept making up lines for me to say before she would snap my picture. She'd hold the camera up and wait until I repeated her word or phrase, "Say banana" or "Say funny 1-2-3". I just might have a photographer in the making.
I reviewed my pictures, and then played with this one a bit. I'm supposed to submit a colored headshot for my CK scrapbooking contest. So, my big decision is whether or not to spend some money on a "real photo shoot", or just keep giving my kids more candy bars for their time and effort.
In the meantime, I have some of your addresses on file in my inbox from previous posts...I might just autograph some pictures and randomly mail them out. You could stick them on your fridge and wish me luck everytime you look at me. Or as my sister told me, some of you might just click and save this photo as your new computer screensaver. I know some of you are Nitty.Gritty. fans to the end!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The honeymoon phase was over long ago.

I should get used to my life, the way it is most of the time on a daily basis. Yesterday, our 11th wedding annivesary wasn't much different. Hear me out, though. I'm not complaining. I'm just telling it like it was.
It started with Ava chipping off a piece of Bella's tooth- by throwing a small plastic nail polish brush at her. It hit Bella just right (or wrong), I guess...and so we had a dramatic start to the day. Lots of tears and trying to figure out what exactly had happened. Bella spent the day drinking water, off and on, to try to make it "grow" back. We will have a trip to the dentist this week.
Then there was a couple of episodes involving Wyndham....and her issues that I didn't go into detail about in her post the other day. Let me just say that she has problems drinking and swallowing sometimes. Leads to lots of clean-up, loss of appetites for the rest of us, and usually a bath. Fairly normal, for my life, anyway.
Finally, there was the tucking into bed and retucking into bed until everyone was fast asleep. It reminds me that I am needed and instrumental in a few things in life. Like making sure everyone has sweet dreams.
Someday Chip and I will have uniterrupted, long stretches of time together. I'm sure we'll end up talking about lots of things from our past. Like the time Bella got her tooth broken off on our annivesary.
I recall an annivesary from years past, in which both Chip and I were in wheelchairs. We could only hold hands and hold back tears...our bodies, minds and hearts hurt so badly. We had my Mom help wheel us down 3 floors to visit Wyndham, who had just gotten moved out of Peds ICU. It was a memorable anniversary indeed. I remember thinking things could only get better from here on out. And do you know what? It has.
Even though there wasn't much romance happening with all the routine {chaos} going on around our home, I realized that there's a lot of love and good things around us. It made for a simple reminder to me. Just being together with the one you love is a VERY GOOD day indeed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nitty.Gritty. wedding photos-

Awwwwe. =) Wedded bliss is the best.
Tomorrow Chip and I will have been married 11 years~ August 12, 1995. It was a wonderful day and time in our life. One of hope and optimism and the belief that anything in life was possible- simply because our hearts were joining as one.
As most of the world knows by now, I love weddings. It's been that way for a long time. My first set of stitches came when I dove under a table to get the small bouquet of flowers that my sister had tossed as we played, "Here Comes the Bride". I don't know what it is exactly; I think it's mostly about the details. I love seeing the "personality" of the couple and their tastes throughout the event. Maybe it's the colors and designs and the fact that almost everyone is always in a good mood. Maybe it's the flowers and decorations. Maybe it's about the cake...and sometimes on rare occasions, it's about the BUTTERCREAM.
Whatever it is, I have enjoyed looking through my own wedding photos and reliving the events of our day. We were married in the backyard of Chip's parents' home, by the pool, among the flowers. It was a casual, yet spiritual ceremony. It was a special occasion and one I would do again. I'd have a lot more ideas and opinions at this point in my life- just because I have lived and learned and fine-tuned my likes and wishes. I would probably wear the same dress, and even had it on yesterday and it still fits. Just thought I'd throw that in. It made me happy- in a really simple way. =)
The one thing I wouldn't change is my choice in marriage partners. The more years we mark together, the more I believe that I didn't totally "choose" Chip- but that God brought us together. We have seen each other at our best and worst...and I can honestly say that because of our love it is a beautiful thing either way. Love and marriage hasn't always been easy or a bed of roses for us. But I think that's what makes it more beautiful. I think that's what true love really is. Chip and I have had differences- different passions, different desires, different dreams. Yet, we have supported and encouraged and stood by one another in those differences. Those differences have helped shape who we have become as individuals- yet it is those same differences that has helped our love to deepen and grow.
To Chip- the greatest man in my life,
Happy wedding annivesary. I don't remember what the food tasted like at our reception. I don't remember caring that the rain was pouring down as we left our reception. However, I do remember thinking that nothing was impossible in life because we had each other. I know that God has been the one to give us strength and tolerance and devotion...and that He is all we've needed. No matter if it's good times or bad. I had no idea I could love you more than I did on our wedding day, and yet here we are, eleven years later. More in love, more in tune and more devoted to one another than ever. I wish for us more of that and look forward to seeing our love played out in reality- with great expectation. Yours forever. Sweetly~ Jody

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The deal with Wyndham.

So, in response to a couple of people asking about what Wyndham's condition and issues are, I am posting some pictures, which I always have on hand, and this post.
Wyndham received a traumatic brain injury (TBI-closed-head) at our incident five years ago, when a car crashed into the restaurant where we were dining. She was not quite 7 months old at the time, and happened to be strapped in her infant car seat. That saved her life, but left her with a massive head injury. She has had two brain surgeries- one to place a permanent shunt- which is a tube running from her brain to her abdomen, to drain fluid. She was initially not expected to survive her injuries. At least for the first 4 or 5 days. Then, when her shunt was placed, the neurosurgeons, again, were not hopeful, but they had to try. SO, it was no small miracle to the doctors and nurses who treated her at Hurley Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, that she came out of her surgery, better than expected. She came out of surgery off of her respirator, and was semi-smiling 24 hours later. That's was the first time in two weeks, that I began to be hopeful at her chances for recovery. It was grueling to be her mom and be totally helpless, other than to pray.
But, think about it. I had just started to come to terms with the reality of the death of her big sister, Teagan, and the fact that our lives would never be the same. My heart was torn apart inside! I remember thinking I wasn't going to be the best support for Wyndham and all the special needs she was dealing with now. I had no idea all the things she would face medically, because of surviving her injuries. I think that was the best thing going for me...I was totally naive and unaware.
Wyndham has received ongoing physical, occupational and speech therapy since August of 2001. She has made consistent progress, and always put forth her best effort. She puts me to shame somedays. When I don't feel like going to therapy or rearranging my schedule for doctor appointments, all I have to do is look at her and I realize that SHE is the one going through life with the odds stacked against her. I'm simply along to watch her overcome the challenges. I hurt for her a lot of times, but she has never made me feel sorry for her.
Her attitude is admirable. She always tries her best. At age 5 and a half, she is doing very well, but still has a lot of issues. Because of her head injury, she has gross motor and speech delays. She does very well with her fine motor skills, and her comprehension is good. That means, she understands a lot of what goes on around her, she just can't always do things on her own, and she doesn't speak. So, we are all learning sign language along with her, and trying to find ways to keep the communication gap from growing larger.
Wyndham seems to have her own ways of letting us know what her needs and wants are. She has a great sense of humor and gets along great with all the other kids in the family. In fact, I don't think they really know she has such special needs- except that we bring her to therapy three times a week. {Isabella always says, "Wyndham, you're going to 'syrupy'." It's so cute...they think she's lucky because she has fun games and toys to play there.}
In the end, Wyndham's doctors can't give us a definitive prognosis in terms of her brain injury. We were told that she may never walk or talk. She started walking last fall, and it still makes me smile everyday- to see her up and on her feet. She's getting stronger and faster each week. She has the ability to make sounds, and has said about 8 words...including SpongeBob, and most recently Momma. So, we continue to treat her as normally as possible and push her as much as she is willing. She has come a long way in 5 years, but still has a long road ahead of her.
As far as Chip and I are concerned, anything is possible- and we're never giving up. I think that's the best thing she has going for her. I'm humbled that God would have us witness the miracles in her little step at a time. I didn't think I was cut out for the job- but I am grateful to be entrusted with the role of being her Mom and cheerleader in life.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hey there...

Hi. I'm just popping in to my own blog to say hello. I'm here, sipping a homemade iced coconut latte made from Starbuck's Terraza Beans, after downing a Grilled Goat Cheese sandwich. I plan on stopping back and posting a few pictures and something more worthwhile to read- at least to some people out there. Anyway, happy Wednesday morning to a bunch of you early risers. Catch you later! Ciao for now~

Monday, August 07, 2006

My closest friends and family will enjoy this post.

Here are some pictures taken not long ago of the kids enjoying summer. Water balloons, kiddie pools, sunshine and smiles. I have a feeling these lazy days of summer will be over much too soon. We are soaking up as much of the laid back routine as we can. Loving every minute of free time and no demands from our day. At least not that many.
The reason my friends and family will love this one is if they look closely, they will see Wyndham standing up on our sloped driveway...she's just doing her own thing. I can't thank her therapists at Hope Network enough for their efforts with her and fro pushing her to make constant progress.
A week ago I had just gotten the call that I was a finalist for the CK Scrapbooker of the Year contest. I may have mentioned that a time or two here. =) SO, it was a good Monday, a neat way to kick off a great week that I had. Now, just minutes ago, Wyndham looked right at me and said clearly and distinctly, "Momma". She makes various sounds and says an occasional word...but this time it went straight to my heart.
I didn't know anything could top my news from last Monday. Having Wyndham say "Momma" just did the trick. I wonder how I can top that next week? =) Never mind. I'm just gonna sit and enjoy the moment I just had, and relish in the miracle that just rang clearly in my ears. Happy Monday to you too!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The scent of this Nitty.Gritty. woman.

I guess I have a thing for pleasant aromas. I could smother myself in any of the fruity/tasty flavors of body products from the lines at Those girls that run that product line could be my friends- just because you know they would always smell good when you're around them. SO, I picked up some more maple syrup body scrub, and now I think I have enough on hand so that I'll smell yummy for at least the next 6-9 months.
My other Nitty.Gritty. thoughts for today are such that you may think I am revisiting old topics again. But, in church, our pastors have been doing a series all summer on 'Hope in the Hard Times'. The messages have been about suffering. I have been so in tune with the speakers, as the steps in my life have taken me down the road of suffering of which they speak. In fact, Chip and I will be sharing some of our thoughts and experiences in church for the last Sunday of the series coming up on August 27th.
Today I realized that it was only 5 short years ago that I went to church with such pain and injuries that I had to be in a wheelchair. Because of muscle, nerve and tissue damage to my legs and back, I was in that wheelchair for 6 weeks. It felt like forever at the time, and now I realize that I sometimes forget that part of my story. If you had told me that morning in church, that my heart would dance and sing again someday, and that my legs would too, I would have laughed at you. Actually, I probably would have cried. Everything in my life hurt so bad. I think I would have cried at the thought of ever being happy or caring about anything in the world again.
Here I am, once again, five years later, and I am happy at the simple thought of getting maple syrup body scrub in the mail this week. I am glad that I have determined to find simple happiness in life again. I am glad that I have been surrounded by people and opprtunities that have helped me heal the unimaginable hurt in my life.
I am beginning to realize that I have a very good quality in life that I never knew I had before- it's that of being resilient. Nobody told that all the years I was growing up. I don't ever remember getting birthday cards that said, 'To a little girl whose sweet as ever. Hope you know you're getting more resilient each year. Love Grandma and Grandpa'. None of my teachers ever typed it on my report card under the area for notes. They usually wrote, 'Uses time wisely, or consistently puts forth good effort.' I never saw resilient. Until now. I guess it's taken time and events to shape this character in me. I must say, I'm not sure if it has come from my family genes, my supportive husband, family and friends, or from God. Probably it is a cobination of all three.
Whatever it may be, I hope that it rubs off on the people I meet in life and that it leaves a pleasant 'aroma' with them for a long time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Some enchanted evening...

This was my view and my company and my evening last night. Boating with some new friends, some terrific friends, my sweet hubby, and some rare breed dogs. A few hours without our kids, perfect temperature on Lake Michigan, and the sun and wind in our hair. Perfect. Just so you know, sometimes I find myself in just the right place at just the right time, and life is peaceful. That's how I would describe this boatride. Relaxing, enjoyable, fun.

I occasionally like to think about who I would like to trade my life with for a few hours, a couple of days, or even a week. Not yesterday. I was content to just be me. Hanging out on a boat. Thinking about how it would be tough to top the week I've know. The one that started out with a phonecall saying I'm a finalist for Scrapbooker of the Year contest. Yeah. I've had a good week. Did I mention that the winner gets a contract with CK Magazine and $10,000?

Funny story here; I'll keep it short. My son, Brock says to me, "If you win the whole thing can I have $5000...half?" I said, "there's a little thing called taxes that you have to pay, even when you win money. So, it would only be about $6,000 in the end." He responds, "How about you just pay the $4,000 taxes out of your other money and still give me $5,000. That would be half."

I just had to smile. Hope you've had a good week too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In case you haven't had grilled cheese in awhile...

May I suggest a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich for your next lunch? I found a recipe a couple of years ago in Cooking Light magazine, for a Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich. Maybe you can look it up on the recipe search over there, but I modified it to suit what was in my kitchen at the time, and I must say, it's been one of my favorites ever since.
Funny though, it sometimes gets forgotten among all the other meals we eat around my home, and so I have to specifically think about it and intentionally buy the stuff to make it. Which is what I did the other day. I grilled this baby up, sunk my teeth into it while it was still toasty and I said to myself, "I am going to have to put this on my blog!"
One quick 'scrappin' thought' though before I share my recipe; it's just fitting for today. I was thinking who I could compare my "style" and "look" to in the scrap industry. I've had people tell me that I look like Heidi Swapp...which is a compliment! But she's got so much style and fashion sense, and come on!...she's got the color PINK! I love her stuff and her scrap-look and real-life look too, but she's in her own league at the top. Next, I totally admire Elsie (Flanningan in case some of you don't know her by her first name yet) for her carefree attitude and for her quirky style and love of almost everything in life. She's young and already knows what matters and what she wants out of life. Yep...I'd love to do what she does everyday! I definitely see bits of her style rubbing off on me...yet I can't claim to be her! Additionally, there's Carrie (Colbert) Batt and Cathy Zielske, whose ideas about what to scrap about hit me squarely between the eyes. They made me realize that I SHOULD be doing this too. That stories are that important. They have their own unique styles and techniques, and I've seen myself study their work in regards to design and style and I've gleaned some things that have been poured out into my pages from them. I been filled by them in so many facets of my life- beyond scrapbooking. There are others too. I guess I just love ideas and inspiration.
So, all this made me think the past few days about how I could be described in 'scrapbooking terms' and I think I found a good comparison. If I had to label myself, I would say that I'm the 'Rachael Ray of Scrapbooking'. How funny is that? =) But, I think it fits me. She's like the girl-next-door of cooking...the Marianne, not the 'Ginger, movie star', of Giiligan's Island. There's something about her that is very comfortable and easy to like.
I think that's what I am doing through my scrap pages. I want people to be able to see them, read the journaling and somehow relate to my story, or feel like they know me- as if we could be friends. I hope that as I continue scrapping my stuff will inspire people to pick up their own supplies and start trying some things out for themselves. Just play around with it- make it easy, modify my "recipes", you know? Like Rachael Ray in the kitchen. Go out there and have fun and make it 'taste' good and meaningful in your own life. I'm not about glamour and getting to be the best. My hope is that through scrapping I get others to dig a little deeper, try something they might not have otherwise tried, and be pleased with the end result.
Maybe my 'scrap thoughts' are totally off the wall. I don't know, it's just what came to me when I started thinking it through some more. I may not fit a mold in the industry, but that's what's so cool about it- that there is room for new faces and ideas and even making stuff up. Just being true to myself has already gotten me this far. Nitty.Gritty. EveryDay. Me.
Now, here's that Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich...if you're into modified gourmet. =)
I use different bread for this sandwich, and so far it's been all good. Usually I pick up a loaf of Cinnamon Raison Swirl, but I've also used that Cranberry Walnut and Blueberry Swirl bread too. Any kind of 'sweet' toasting bread works here. Pick your're the one that's gonna eat it. So, you butter your bread on the outsides, and then spread goat cheese on one side of the non-buttered slice of bread. I buy just plain goat cheese in small tube-like packages. It sort of crumbles when you spread it, so just cover one side of your bread. Easy. Next, spread jam- again, I use different flavors, depending on what I have on hand- blackberry and apricot are two of my favorites. I've also used Cranberry Honeymustard for a more savory flavor. I think that's what the original recipe called for...something savory. Oh yeah, if anybody has a really good Fig Jam (I think you can buy some for me at Williams-Sonoma, hint.hint) can send me some. That would be yum-o. =) Put your jam or spread on the other slice of bread, also on the non-buttered side. Place your goat cheese and jam bread together, and grill as you would any other grilled cheese. In a skillet or grill pan over medium heat for a few minutes on either side. That's it. You'll feel like you're a really terrific cook when you eat this little sandwich. Be careful of your first bite or two...the goat cheese gets really hot. Good, but hot. If you make this, for real, email me your thoughts. I'd love to find out if this recipe translated well and tastes good in your kitchen too! Final note on this sandwich...I've eaten it for all three meals, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Anytime of day, this little morsel will satsify! I hope you try it and like it! I'm off to go fix one myself. {}

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Big camera, big dreams...

This picture wouldn't upload when I tried to post it yesterday. Chip said that it would ruin my chances at winning the scrap contest. I don't know what my chances are for "winning", but my thoughts are still spinning a bit. I put winning in quotes, because I think that it is a subjective term in this situation. Even if you don't scrap, you probably get this analogy...I say it's like American Idol. Some seasons it seems like there is more than one winner- whether a finalist goes on to sign a big contract or not. And remember Reuben and Clay Aitkin? Clay was runner-up, but if you ask him, he'd probably say that he won big time. He is living a crazy life- not from taking first place, but by following his dream and passion.
I think that's what I'm doing in the middle of this contest. I went way out on a whim and had no clue where it could take me, but I knew I couldn't miss if I gave it my all. Me and this crazy camera are headed out west, all because I believed in a dream that was too big I didn't even think it all the way through to the end. Now I just have to wait til October to see that part!
I told you I was gonna blog about this too much. Just make sure you start leaving me comments when you get sick enough from hearing too much.
And I promise to throw in a few bits of "real life" too. Like today. Big day lined up. Actually, I already rode Chip's new bike for a half hour ride- just me and clearing my thoughts and getting "in shape" (mentally and physically) for life. Next up, taking Wyndham to therapy and the rest of the munchkins to Target. I told you, "big time", right?! I just like to make my life sound probably do most of the same things I do all day too. Enjoy your day, and your laundry- like I plan on doing myself!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Never hurts to try...

I am a new firm believer in that statement, "It never hurts to try." Guess what trying earned me? (Is that correct English?) Anyway, it just earned me a spot in the top 10 finalists for Creating Keepsake's Magazine Scrapbooker of the Year contest. Can you believe it?!
I did it thinking it would be totally cool to have my pages completed and in an album- for me and my family. I did it thinking it would be cool to submit pages to a contest- having neither scrapped pages nor entered a scrap contest. What did I have to lose? Well, besides a certain amount of money invested and for postage...and some sleep, because I was cramming when I found out I was headed to Minnesota before my pages were all done.
I have to say that I am surprised to be chosen as a finalist, just a bit. I mean, I totally wanted to give it my best shot, and I learned a lot about going after something you really want. I am happy that I went for it and I didn't give myself excuses and that I didn't care who else was entering, or how my stuff would compare. I did it for me- just to see what could happen.
Now I'm one of 10 really great scrapbookers who gets to wait until October when the winner is chosen. I'll be headed out to Las Vegas for a Memory Trends covention...and I get to meet some great people and hang around some major scrap inspiration. This is what I'm doing as a thirty-something middle-class mom who has just started realizing her passion and decided she should look into it. And now my new passion is kicking into high-gear and I am imagining my "Never hurts to try" page layout.
Remember my buttercream obsession after my gourmet cake class last year? Maybe not, because that was a couple of months prior to the birth of this Nitty.Gritty. blog. Let me just tell you, I couldn't get enough of the stuff, and I worked it into daily conversation just because it made me happy. Get ready for some major doses of scrapbook talk around here. I'm a little bit fired up, all because I tried. And that's my personal 'Nitty.Gritty. press release' today. Not formally written, but a glowing report nonetheless!