Friday, September 28, 2007

My head is spinning...

By Friday afternoon, after going to kindergarten field trips, lunches, recess hours, helping with special art projects and then teaching my yearbook makes my head spin and I am ready for a nap.
What really happens though, is my head keeps spinning- thinking and planning out all the activities that I have to add to my 'to do' list, or simply trying to figure out how I can get everything done that I need/want to do. Then when I realize it's too much, I blog or do things not on my lists. =) So tomorrow I will be hanging out and scrapping and just having a great time with my SISter friends- new and 'old'. Nothing like taking one's mind off the tasks at hand in order to be renewed. That is my hope anyway. =)
The pictures here are just a few recent ones that have been ready to be blogged, but just didn't get posted. (Oops! I just noticed a couple of them have been posted already. See what I mean? I need a nap on Fridays!) Someone recently asked about my camera and my photography skills. I do not consider myself a good photographer. I take 1000's of lousy, blurry photos. I get a few good ones from time to time. Those photos I then play around with in a photo editing program...and sometimes they look better when I'm done with them. That's my secret. =) I have a Sony CyberShot DSC-R1. It is a 10.3 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. I love it- even though I don't know how to properly use all the settings. I am learning as I go {slowly. Reading the manual would help, I'd think since I'm a teacher now I would do stuff like "read the book"...but I haven't. You'd also think I would use proper grammer and sentence structure...but I don't. I like doing things my way. See previous post if you haven't will shed some light on why I dont' read camera manuals.}
The first two pictures here I was fairly proud of- not just for the fact that my girls are looking at me, but because I didn't have to edit them much to get these results. The picture of all three of my girls together I posted for my friends and family. I know it would have melted some of their hearts to see my girls holding hands walking down the street together. Not too long ago, this picture was simply a "dream". It still makes my head spin to see Wyndham walking and keeping up with her sisters and classmates. She is adapting so well to school that really, despite the fact that I'm not the most 'comfortable' in classroom settings- especially those with small children- I can't help but be thrilled to be in Wyndham's room watching her learn and thrive. It's my daily witness to a miracle. I personally think miracles should really make everyones' heads spin. To me, they just never get old. =)
Here's wishing each of you the eyes to see and the ability to appreciate miracles in the world around you. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A little off-beat fun...

Maybe it's the fact that I realize I'll never have a spic & span clean house as long as my kids are young and at home. Maybe it's the fact that I've never really loved structure and routine and 'rules' or maybe it's the fact that I am just trying to make sure my kids understand that art and play and having fun really are some of the most important lessons to be learned as a kid. No matter what the reason, I think the best part is that I don't even have to have a rational explanation as to why me and my girls dyed Easter eggs today. We just did. It was really fun, exciting, and totally out-of-the norm for a September morning at our house.
My girls were thrilled with the idea when I told them what we were going to do for an activity today. They were even more thrilled when we did a mini lesson in mixing colors. =) All this fun for a mere 22 cents. Yep. I'm the crazy kind of mom who buys the clearance egg coloring kits 3 weeks after Easter. Then I put them away for use at a later date.
For no special reason. But it makes special memories. I have been particularly aware of all the things I long to do with Teagan but can't. Like getting up from my computer in the midst of blogging and walking over to wherever she might be playing in the house or yard and telling her I love you and I just wanted you to know you are amazing to me. I miss stuff like that. Or not even miss it...but just ache at times at the reality of those moments that will never be.
Coloring eggs was one of her favorite activities. When I woke up this morning it hit me yet it does so many mornings, "Teagan's not here and I wonder what kind of fun stuff we could have done together today." Rather than let sadness wash over me with such thoughts, I have learned to use them as springboards for creating fun and embracing moments. All of my kids love eggs and hugs and kisses and mixing color and doing special holiday things on days that aren't even holidays too.
So don't think I'm some mom full of great ideas or filled with inspiration to do spontanoues outrageous things on a routine mid-week morning. It's true- I do love to shake things up in life a bit. My hubby knows this all too well. =) But mostly, my motives come from wanting to not miss a thing...wanting to love and live in the moment...and to do NOW what I may never get to do at a later date. Like color eggs and listen to the laughter and experience the untainted happiness and joy of my kids- on an ordinary fall day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm a 'working' mom now...what do you expect? =)

That's all I can think of when I think of my blog lately. I am busier with work and class schedules and I can honestly say it is a challenge for me to be out of my house for more than an hour each day! I didn't realize how much of a home-body and 'quiet' person I am...{my sisters and a few of my friends are probably laughing at that statement!} but having to hang out with kids (young kids; K-2nd grade) for at least 3 hours per week and then to teach some senior high students a few afternoons each week is really draining on me. It's not that I don't have 'material' to blog, or pictures to post (I went on the kindergarten field trip to a local dairy farm operation yesterday...LOTS of pics!), but rather my mind has so much going on I am not even keeping up. I don't know how people do it with more demanding lives than mine. Seriously. =)
Then the other part of me has had a spiritual struggel going on. I have really tried to focus on living my life as a daily sacrifice to God and others the past several months, and part of me is pleased with the spiritual growth that has occured in my heart and life...while another part of me is overwhelmed at the reality that I will never be able to give enough of myself away...still another part of me says, "You are just you. You are nothing on your own." and that thought sends me back to the Word and thanking God for His grace and mercy, while at the same time struggling with what to do with myself now that I claim this undeserving gift.
I know that some of the people who read here understand that free gift and the responsibility that comes with it. It is one of the reasons I try to keep up with my blog so often and to share the ups and downs- the Joys and sorrows of my life. I KNOW that I am living life in light of an eternal salvation and that brings me unspeakable joy and peace. I know that it is because of this gift that I am forgiven and free and the blessing and knowledge of that inside of me just wants to spill over into all parts of my life and I don't want to keep it all inside! I want others to know, not just the things I do...but why I do them. In addition, I want everyone to know that what I have to be excited about, and to have joy and peace and Hope about, is not exclusive to me. It is available to anyone who is willing to ask and receive.
Therein lies my spiritual struggle. I live a life of peace, contentment and Joy {yet still have occasional days where a bad attitude jumps up from out of nowhere and threatens to steal it all away!} through nothing I have done on my own. I have simply opened my heart, soul and mind to God and have accepted Him at His Word. In so doing, I have an eternal Hope and future, but I also sense that life is fleeting and my desire grows more deeply and more urgently to have others come to know this same faith in which I live each day.
I'm trying to seek God and His will for my life. The things I do each day I do in hope that in some small way they will be evidence to those who those who don't have a solid faith, but yet long to believe and to know the Truth. How teaching classes and packing lunches and scrapping and loving my kids and husband and getting groceries and blogging fit into all of that is the part that's not always clear. Well, some things are...but others are a bit hazy.
That's what's going on in my heart and mind. And to think some of you have checked back here just for this. =) It's not really all that's just what's real in my life at this moment. Right Now.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A little something...

My hubby and some friends were up at the crack of dawn to go golfing and then had tickets and went to the Notre Dame football game this afternoon. I decided to lay low and didn't even do laundry til 7:30 pm. I stayed in comfy clothes all day long too.
I found a bit of time to hang out with my kids and they played while I scrapped. It's really quite cute for me to see how interested they are in so many of the products I use. Ava and Bella LOVE my button jar...they dump and sort and line the buttons up. They group them and "plink" them into the jar and do it all over again. Wyndham likes to look at one of my mini project books as well as cut things...when I allow that. =) Brock was busy outside, but did get in on the tail end of this layout and he wanted to know how a person decides what to put on the page when you have so many things to choose from. I told him that's the challenge...he thinks he'd like to try it sometime. =)
I ended up with a just-for-fun; I'm glad we got to meet and hang out layout of me and my friend Jo-Anne. She lives in Holland and we spent time together in Chicago with Scrap In Style TV this summer. I appreciate her friendship and that of ALL the girls I hang out with over there. What a great place...what a lot of exciting changes coming up soon! I will keep you all in the loop, and if you'd like to see the full layout I scrapped today, it's in my gallery here.
Nothing like creating something to feel like I'm beginning to get my groove back. It's been a long week for me, and I am so glad to know it really was okay to have a few down days. And you all know I really am just plain old me...human as the rest of you! {wink}

Friday, September 21, 2007

Surviving kindergarten.

So it may surprise some of you, but young children are not really my thing. Yes, I know I have lots of them, and yes, I try my best to soak them up and have fun with them. But beyond my own kids, I'm not really all that great. So having to spend the day in kindergarten today was actually a big deal for me. I have the utmost respect for people who have the patience to work in jobs that require ongoing interactions with young children. Hats off to teachers, coaches, therapists, doctors, librarians, day care workers, YMCA staff and all the other people out there working with kids.
I have lots of reasons behind my "young kids are not my thing", but mostly I think I am selfish. Kids are demanding and take lots of patience, as I said. I think that's why God has given me so many's one way to force me to work on the characteristics I have that need "pruning and refining". I think maybe it's working a bit, because I actually enjoyed some of my time in the classroom today.
Here's my favorite story. I just couldn't resist recounting this "totally kindergarten moment" with you. {Even in leaving out the names I think it is still very funny.} The teacher was working with the whole class on their phonics lesson. They are learning the vowel sounds first. So there was a review of the letters 'i', 'u' and 'e', and then the letter 'a' was introduced today. The children repeat the letter and say the sound it makes several times. We said {loudly....kindergartners LOVE to do phonics's actually cute to listen to the sing-song rhythm of their little, excited voices} "E says 'eh' as in elephant....e says eh eh eh". When it came time for 'a', the teacher practiced it a few times and held up cards with the letter a on it. Then she asked the kids for words that start with 'a' and make the "ahh" sound. One child said "Ah like in my name Alexandra" and another kid said "Ah like apple". Then the room got quiet for a few seconds until one little boy's hand popped up as high as he could reach. (He was sitting just in front of the teacher, so she called on him right away.) He said, "I know! A says 'ah, ah ah'- Jellyfish!!"
My stomach almost hurt from holding my laugh back. (This is where I would fail as a teacher and also where I have deep respect for teachers at the same time.) Without missing a beat the teacher said, "Let's see...'ah, ah, ah'... jellyfish. Say jellyfish". All the kids said "jellyfish". She repeated, "juh, juh, jellyfish...A says 'ah, ah, ah'." She looked right at the boy who had just said jellyfish and he was almost jumping out of his seat when he exclaimed, "So I was right then, huh!" I'm quite sure I laughed outloud, and even the teacher looked over at me with a little snicker and smile.
Let's just say it was quite a memorable phonics lesson...and I sure hope that I get the chance to tell this boy's parents just how cute their son was in class. While in kindergarten I took the liberty of taking a few pictures in class of my own girls. I couldn't help but sit at the little tables and think that this moment- this day- is something I will think back on and wish I could get back for just a little longer not too many years from now. It's like I close my eyes and pretend that this is my past and then I savor it even more. Realizing the present moment is here for me to cherish is really an amazing thing. No matter how routine the schedule may be. These little things- days at school; learning and growing and having fun; doing life together are the things my heart is gonna wish I could get back. So I was actually really grateful that I had this day. Even if young kids aren't really my best thing. I think I learned a thing or two. (And I'm not just talking phonics here.)
Brock met up with us in the hallway on the way out of school...wearing a rainbow clown wig. I've never really liked clowns know, scary movies and weird people in clownsuits come to mind when I think of clowns. But this was funny to me. Or maybe I was just happy to be done with class by that time of the day. =) Either way, he was all smiles. He was loving life in his rainbow, curly hair. He wore it home. He wore it and made funny faces for his sisters. He let me take some pictures and then he had me try it on too. Then he wanted to see a picture of me in we snapped one looking into a really spattered mirror.
Later on, he wore it to McDonalds. (Yes...we had DINNER at McDonalds! I think I broke 3 of my own rules doing that tonight, but hey...I was exhausted from a day in kindergarten! What do you expect?!) I'm sure some of the employees and customers thought we were all crazy even though he was the only one in a clown wig. It made it all the more funny to him...and to me. So, if you were in this place and had to see me and my kids, I apologize for all the fun we were having eating our Happy Meals and actually being happy. =)
Now on to more serious, quite possibly, controversial things. Brock got that wig at school as part of his magazine drive. Our school holds a magazine fundraiser each year, and we have a couple of weeks left to collect orders. Last year when I posted I recall that there were a few 'anonymous' comments from readers who felt I had 'crossed the line'. I really didn't know that there was such a line in blogging...really I see my blog as my thing and the place to share my life and stories and pictures and insights and whatever else it is I post from time to time. So, at the risk of offending people in regards to some invisible line, I am inviting you- only if you want to- to email me about magazines. Our school has a number and I will send you that and the link to the website for you to browse books, magazines and music to order. Each order helps to support the school with 40% of the total purchase. I know some of you enjoyed browsing the magazine titles, and some of them are better deals than most of the subscription offers out there. For example, you can get 22 issues (2 years) of Cooking Light magazine for $20.00. Martha Stewart Living is 12 issues for $25.00 and Blueprint is just $15 for 6 issues. Simple Scrapbooks is $20 for 6 issues (one year) and Creating Keepsakes magazine is $22.00 for 12 issues. Did I mention the funky Domino magazine is on special at $15.00 for 12 issues...or that Everyday with Rachael Ray is $18.00 for 10 issues? Oh. Right. I forget that I am not trying to offend anyone...I'm just throwing it out there for anyone who is looking to subscribe to anything or has a magazine they could renew through this project.
I truly mean no harm, and really in the end it is mostly just a fun way to raise funds for our school and for my kids to get cheesy prizes that totally make their days. Or weeks. I have a feeling this wig is going to be around for awhile! So, my point here isn't to cram some hard-sell offer down your throat, but to say, "Hey! If you're interested, email me and I'll hook you up with a link". You don't even have to make a are welcome to just browse the deals. And to my fashionista friends who are magazine-inspiration happy, I'll post at SIS for you. But you can still email me to say hello. { }
Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me all weekend. I have a feeling that's how long it's going to take me to recover from my day at kindergarten. =)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to school I go...

I'll be in kindergarten all day tomorrow. Wish me luck! =)
I'm in a little better mood...and I have a feeling that hanging out with 5 and 6 year olds will be just what I need to bring a smile to my face. Oh. It's Friday too...they always have pizza on Friday. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I've tried just about everything...

and still I can't snap myself out of a bad mood today. I have no explanation for it. It has been in my system since I first awoke this morning. There was no 'drama' or chaos as Brock headed out for school and Chip out for work. I had my quiet time and it even spoke to my heart.
My girls have been their usual selves...all kissable and huggable and cute one minute, and leaving markers and bits of cut-up paper all over the floor the next. At lunch, after I had made a few different items just to make them each happy, I was feeling particularly down. For no reason...which is even further frustrating me. Bella decided that she wanted a sandwich too, and really I was not in the mood to make one more thing. But I told myself, "If Teagan were here you would give anything to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich", so I headed to the cupboard and grabbed the peanut butter and I made her a sandwich. Not just a sandwich...a puzzle/heart sandwich. I cut two small hearts into the bread with a cookie cutter. She was thrilled. Her excitement drew a bit of attention and the next thing you know I had to make one for Ava and Wyndham too. Still, their smiles and laughter and simple delight wasn't enough to feel back to my usual self. So, I put them in the tub after their meal. They were all freshly bathed and smelling clean and their hair was combed soft. The sun has been out and shining all day long. It is a beautiful fall day., the kind you hope for this time of year. Still, I couldn't snap out of my grumpy feeling.
Just as I was planning on heading out the door to pick up Brock and Wyndham from school and therapy respectively, Chip called to say he could swing by on his way back to work from meetings in the area and save me the trouble. Okay. That should do the trick, right?! It didn't. I feel terrible. I made a batch of zucchini bread and a flank steak marinating for dinner. I've got laundry done and my dishwasher has aload of clean dishes inside of it. Brock got a perfect score on his spelling test and life couldn't be more routine and happy. Yet something is missing today.
In spite of all I have to be thankful for...all the blessings I can see and feel...I'm just not feeling it.
And it makes me feel even worse. So, there you have it. A full-blown Nitty.Gritty. bad attitude- for no real reason at all.
I hope I have a great post soon telling you what it is that snapped me out of this. I can't begin to imagine what it's gonna take. All I know is I hope it happens soon, and in the meantime I guess I'm gonna have to blame the tail-end of the cold I've had. That's the only thing I have to explain it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Entertaining guests.

That title is a play on words, if you didn't notice. We entertained some guests in our home...but they are the kind of guests who normally do the entertaining. Chip's sister, Melissa and her bandmembers spent the afternoon playing with our kids and relaxing in our home and catching up with laundry as they made their way from Detroit to Chicago as part of their tour. I had fun snapping a few pictures of them altogether...they are formally known as Visions of Atlantis.
Chip made his famous spicy ribs and topped their meal off with homemade pumpkin cheesecake with spiced cream and chocolate sauce. Most of the bandmembers are from Austria, so it was fun to talk about the differences in our cultures. Although I was laughing seeing my family- especially Chip, interact with them, because even if we didn't have different countries to compare, we live such contrasting lifestyles anyway. =) Chip and Melissa are always giving each other a hard time about their differences (Melissa is Chip's younger sister), and so they bring up topics from politics to globabl warming and recycling to religion and everything in between. I love the picture of the two of them together. I had to post if for their Mom to see. It must make her smile to see how diverse her kids have 'turned out' after they were raised in the same home. I imagine my own kids will have their differences and I will see their personalities come through more and more as they grow.
I also had to snap a picture of Melissa washing the dishes after dinner, just to show her Mom that she is a great houseguest. All of the bandmembers were. They only had to be told to turn their music down once. =) It was actually kind of funny...our kids had just been tucked in their beds for the night and a couple of them decided to do some practicing.
And I was just beginning to look through my blog and at my life and was thinking, "how very routine and ordinary...why do I even blog anyway?!" and the next thing you know I am hanging with rockstars in my own kitchen and watching my hubby and son try to look cool with electric guitars. =)
Good luck with the rest of your tour, VOA...and I hope you all made it safely to Chicago! With fresh clean laundry!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Down and out...

I've got a nasty cold that came on suddenly yesterday morning. I thought baking cookies and getting to bed early would help knock it out of my system. I guess that's one reason why I'm not a medical didn't work.
My sweet hubby did go to the store and he brought some medicine to at least keep me on my toes enough to look after the three girls today while he and Brock went to the NFL MN Vikings vs. Lion's game in Detroit. His beloved Vikings must have colds too...cause they got knocked down and out a few times today as well. At least all our neighbors will be happy for the week...but as Chip would add...probably not much longer than that if their happiness depends on their Lions. =)
I made a double-batch of my mom's recipe of creamy broccoli soup, despite feeling less than stellar today. The girls all loved it and I actually could still taste it a bit. Hopefully the vitamin C in that will start to do it's magic in my congested head. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing board games and making cards. I made a couple of simple Christmas ones, as well as played around with a new owl stamp {Thanks, Sherri!}. I may post the cards later- if I get a burst of energy.
Besides baths and catching up on some blogs, I tried to take it easy. I know the coming week is gonna wipe me out if my cold is still hanging on. I have to say that feeling lousy sure makes me appreciate feeling 'normal'. It's a reminder to me to be grateful for my health and for that of the rest of my family. I have a list of people that I pray for that are battling things much bigger than my cold. I know it's not easy, but even in the midst of the pains and weary days I find there is always something to be grateful for and to thank God for those blessings. Even if I have to start with the really obvious, simple ones. I find myself today feeling down and out when it comes to my health. But I still laughed and played with my kids; I appreciated nourishing food; I heard and uttered the words 'I love you' several times; and I recalled Teagan and her smile that always encourages me. I may have an ordinary, simple life...but I have more than enough to be grateful and for that I consider my life extraordinary. It's all how you look at things. Even on the days when you're feeling down and out!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekend recovery...

I was ready for a nap at 3:30 yesterday as I walked in the door from school. I mentioned on a thread on the SIS message boards that I have new-found respect for people who work full-time at a job away from home, and then still manage to keep their home in order. I am only away from home for about 15 hours a week with class and helping Wyndham at lunch/recess, but it has been quite an eye-opener to me at how demanding full-time schedules can be!
Really, I was thinking it would be a simple task to add a few demands to my schedule, but I didn't factor in things like having to make lunches for 4 kids and staying on top of papers for 3 kids in school plus doing some prep for my own classes. It's been a little bit crazy, but good at the same time.
I managed to bake some bread, lemon bars and right now chocolate chip cookies, as well as having meat loaf and mashed potatoes at dinner once this week. I was thrilled one night when I noticed that all 3 of our laundry baskets were empty {!} as I crawled into bed. That meant I had not only washed the clothes...but folded AND put them away too. I told Chip if I kept up this pace I would like a day at the local spa as a reward. =)
Today we've been taking it easy. I now fully understand why people look forward to weekends. I used to love Mondays...but I think they tie with Saturdays now. The kids have been enjoying getting into some of my scrappy stuff and trying their hand at a few things. Here you see Ava and Bella adding stickers to their folders, and Brock and I worked together to cover a composition notebook for him to write his 'secrets and thoughts' inside. The stickers? High School Musical stickers, of course. At least they all like something the same at their ages right now- that's a big thing!
We've still got Barbies out all over the living area. I've been enjoying that 'mess' all week long. In the previous post Chip talked about tension the missing items have created in our marriage over the years. I have no idea what he's talking about. There was never any 'tension' for me...I always knew it was his fault. {I'm kidding, Chip. You know I love you no matter what turns up missing next!}

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Treasured Memories....the story behind the story by nitty gritty hubby (I can't believe I called myself that)

There has been one source of tension throughout our marriage, and I think Jody will agree on this, it's that I throw out treasured memories. It started when we moved to Michigan when at some point, during the moving process I threw out our wedding video. It continued when I was in the hospital and I didn't keep track of a photo album that was thrown out. And in our last move I threw out Teagan's Barbies.
It always continues to amaze me that I would keep doing these things. It also amazes me that these things continue to turn up.
The wedding video turned up a couple of years after I threw it away in Florida. How it got to Michigan is one of the great mysteries of man.
The photo album turned up a week later in a paper bag. Jody said she prayed really hard and God put it in the bag.
And now the Barbies turned up. I am still waiting for an explanation on how they went from the landfill to our attic.
I can't until we move again someday, just to see what I can throw out next and then try to figure out how it reappears years later. Treasured memories- indeed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Treasured memories.

A few nights ago I came across a box of things I hadn't seen in a few years, including this Barbie suitcase. It has been 'missing' and presumed gone for more than 3 years now. You can't imagine how happy I was to find this treasure! Inside were all of Teagan's Barbie dolls that she spent hours playing with when she was alive. In the months after her death, I used to imagine at times that she was still upstairs in her room playing Barbies. It was hard to accept the reality of her death, and sometimes I would find myself just waiting for her to call me from her room asking me to come up and join her in play, or to see what she had done with her Barbies.
I remember some days, usually when I was making lunch or throwing the laundry in the wash machine that I would find myself aching with my stomach in knots over the fact that I couldn't hear her laughing and playing or singing the jingle from Barbie ads ("Great time to be a girl...Barbie!").
I sometimes pulled out the Barbie suitcase just to look at the dolls and remind myself of the happiness and innocence that filled Teagan's life- the simple joy she had playing and being a little girl. I had a longing in my heart for those stolen moments...I wished I had soaked them up more when I had the chance. My heart hurt that I didn't have pictures of Teagan- other than the ones of her in my heart and mind.
So, when the Barbie suitcase 'disappeared' in our move to our current home, it was a little thing...but it was still a 'big then' when you consider the sentimental value of a suitcase of Barbies that held so many memories. I had basically given up ever seeing this suitcase and dolls again. In fact, just a month or so ago I went on a hunt looking in places I thought I had missed. It turned up nothing. What a sweet, unexpected surprise for me to find the suitcase tucked in the bottom of a box oy toys and videos and puzzles...all which brought back forgotten memories of Teagan.
I pulled out the suitcase and explained to my girls that this suitcase of Barbies was extra special and that Teagan had played with these Barbies and now they could play with them too. Each Barbie is special in some way...the first one she ever got...the one she got that looked 'like Grandma Genie'...the one I gave her just two or three days before she died- just because I wanted to make her happy that day and I had one tucked away to give to her at some point in time. You have no idea how often I was grateful that I didn't wait for an excuse....but instead I gave it to her for no particular reason. And it happened to be the last chance I would have- but I didn't have an incling that it was to be the last Barbie Teagan would add to her collection.
My heart is glad today. I am typing to the voices of my girls playing Barbies and having fun together. I remember longing and wishing for another chance like this- the very thing that is happening in my home right now. I can't help but think that God IS watching out for me and my family and that He is happy to give me such moments in life. Moments where I recognize the simple desires of my heart are not vague memories...but that they are reality at times. Unexpected blessing showed up in the form of a suitcase full of Barbies. Bringing with it fond memories, new memories and more gratefulness in my heart. I am glad more times than I can count, for the almost 4 and a half years that we had Teagan in our lives, and for the joy she has brought and that continues to grace our lives everyday.
I have a feeling the Barbie suitcase won't go missing ever again. I plan on keeping it safe and sound...while still allowing my girls to play and have fun with the goodies inside. =)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

I took these pictures as I waited to catch the train out of Chicago's Union Station back in July. It was a beautiful sunny day and hot and sticky inside the hall. I didn't even mind the heat and humidty though and really just sat on a bench reflecting on freedom and what that means and how often I take it for granted. Today, especially, I remember. My heart is in prayer for those who continue to ache from the grief of that day, for those whose loved ones are away and serving our country to protect our freedom and seeking Peace, and for those whose memories we cherish and remember in a special way today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Isn't is crazy...

how much the price of groceries has gone up in just the past few weeks? Have you noticed this too? I just came from Meijer and shopped for my weekly groceries. Granted, my kids are growing bigger each day, but they don't account for the increased tab all that much. It's nothing earth-shattering or profound. It's more like a simple hit me when I went to buy Reddi-wip and the bigger can was $4.09. I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Even though I am the biggest supporter of whipped cream straight outta the can to create happiness in an instant.
I am almost ashamed to admit it...but I have my limits on how much happiness should cost. Looks like we'll be finding it in things other than Reddi-wip for awhile. Or we'll be saving it for special occasions.
But, if you know me by now, you can guess that I will turn something as simple as "Thursday" into a 'special occasion'. Time to start budgeting 'happiness' into our monthly grocery allowance, I guess. =)

Life can be fun sometimes.

Friday I found myself tired and that usually takes the fun and spunk out of the way I see life. I had some obligations during the day, but then the afternoon slowed down a bit. The UPS guy dropped a package off just as I was deciding which spot to sit down in and curl up with one of my girls. What I got was a scrap layout back as well as a copy of Simple Scrapbooks' special issue "Scrapbook Play". One of my layouts was selected and so I got my layout back as well as a copy of the magazine.
I thought I'd post picture of me with know, just to show you that I do scrap from time to time. =) I had no idea I had the magazine upside-down when I took the picture. You think I planned it that way, but really I laughed when I clicked back to see it in my viewer. I have to say there are some great layouts and ideas in there for any of you who have never scrapped, or for some who might find themselves "stuck for ideas" at times. I am enjoying it and I plan to pull some pictures out and change up a few of the ideas I've already spotted that I want to try. Fun. My dad is in a part of one of the photos on my I think this is his proud moment in scrapbooking! Congrats on being 'published' Dad! =)
I found a few boxes of good things and surprises up in my attic yesterday. One item I'll share at a later time, but some of the memorable things were my baby book and this picture of me taken when I was in kindergarten. I had to post it along with pictures I took yesterday of Bella (who is the same age as me in my pic) and Ava...just because I caught her looking toward the camera AND grinning. I'm making progress with getting better pictures of her.
So, it's Monday and the start of another full week. I hope you find a few things each day that are "fun" in the midst of routine. If not...I challenge you to create some fun. And then tell me about it in the comments or via email. As far as I'm concerned, I believe there IS fun in nearly every just have to be willing to seek it! Have fun. =)

Friday, September 07, 2007

My "typecasted" self...

I owe several people heartfelt thank-you's for some really fun and thoughtful gifts and cards in the past couple of months. Something as simple as a blog has resulted in me taking on a sort of 'identity' and it's almost as if I have typecast myself in a cute way. I really appreciate the random mail and gifts I receive and today I thought I'd share some recent goodies and give a big Nitty.Gritty. thanks to some of you nice readers.
Seems that when people think of me a select list of 'things' come to mind...cupcakes, Starbuck's, Hello Kitty and owls- just to name a few. Yesterday I got two packages- one FULL of Hello Kitty and cutesy treats from {SISmetrochic!} Heather, and another envelope full of all things "owls" from Mahlin...all the way from Sweden!! How crazy and thoughful is that?! Thank you SISters... you know I will have fun scrapping and playing with all the fun things you sent my way. My girls were loving my mail too! =) I also have been enjoying a pound of Starbuck's coffee beans and some select items from Nikki who I know through SIStv too. I love that scrapping has brought such neat people 'into' my life and that there is so much generosity and goodness among the people at this unique website. It is a wonderful community of people- sharing life and inspiring one another- but also encouraging and just having fun together. You can join us there anytime!
That funky owl necklace/earrings set came from the Allisons in MS earlier this summer. I've had a few emails asking where I got them...I really can't tell you precisely, but I bet you could find some cute sets on eBay or through Then there was the giant Hello Kitty stickers from 'Jiggy' and some more Hello Kitty love and sweet card from Christine. Our lives have connected at a time when Christine needs lots of prayers and good thoughts coming her way. She inspires me with her scrapping and I appreciate so much, our new friendship {you can check out her blog and pray for her too!}.
Besides all the fun mail and cards and links online to fun sites and products, I also get a lot of letters from some of you sharing your struggles, your hurts and your questions about faith and getting through hardships. I am following several peoples' Caring Bridge pages, even now, and I know that there are a lot of trials going on from day to day for many of you or your friends and families. My heart aches when I read such notes, but I also am humbled that you share so openly with me.
I have come to see that the more I write about my pain and the journey I am on in my own life, that it resonates in different ways with others. I see that as a gift of grief- that I can learn and grow through it is amazing, but then to be able to share my experiences and perspective with others is truly the blessing of embracing pain. In a couple of notes recently I was asked about the 'peace' I seem to have- even as a result of living with tragedy in my life. It is real to me- I DO have peace and contentment in my life, and it truly is a miracle and gift that I do not deserve.
Some time ago I heard this beautiful description of 'peace' and I think it maybe will explain the peace I claim each day. An art institute asked individuals to submit paintings depicting the idea of peace, using the local mountains and lake as the focal point. It is said that they received several artists' renditions of this beauitful landscape. The paintings showed calm waters, or a glowing sunset just behind the mountains casting warm colors across the waters at the base of the mountains. Another was of a valley and stream, where the wildlife ran free and the water trickled along toward the glassy sea. All were beautiful and serene. Except one. The artwork showed the mountains and the waters, only they were dark and fierce with storm. The trees were bending and the waves were tossing violently. It looked anything but peaceful! In one part of the mountainscape, however, the artist had painted a crevice in which one could see a large nest. There inside the nest was a mother bird, and in the midst of the violent storm she had her wings spread and was covering her tiny babies. They were warm and had no idea that a storm was even raging.
That painting was the one chosen for it's beautiful depiction of the idea of peace. It has been one of the images that comes to my mind so often, and truly how I see peace in my own life. My life has had several 'raging storms' and continues to have struggles and challenges that seem overwhelming at times. Yet in the midst of these trials, I have sensed God surrounding me with His presence and His peace. I'm like the baby bird tucked under the strong wings of the mother- who is protecting her young with her life. I have come to trust in God in such a way that I know no matter how hard the winds blow, or how violent the rains come, I can simply rest in the shelter of His wings. It is a peace that transcends all understanding, yet it is unmistakeable and real. I can't help but share this reality with others, because I know some of you are in the middle of the fiercest storm of your life, and maybe you are wondering how you will survive. Peace to me then, is not the absence of uncertianty...but the knowledge of knowing that I am safe and secure. I pray for the reality of peace in your life- which I have found can only be found in trusting in the One who holds all of us in the shelter of His hands- every single day.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Capturing the moments...

Here are some pictures of our first day of school this week. You know I have to post mom is counting on them. =) I loved that I was able to capture a glimpse of each of the kids' personalities and feelings as they prepared to head out on that first morning. Brock was fairly nonchalant about the occasion, and simply turned and waved to me as he walked off to hop into the car. Bella on the otherhand asked as we snapped pictures, "Are we done yet?...Can I go?" As soon as she heard "yes", she ran off excitedly and Chip helped her up into her spot. Wyndham grew more and more excited as she watched the other two race ahead of her. I don't know that she fully understood where she was going or what was going to happen...but by the time it was her turn to get buckled into her seat, she was waving and smiling and almost too happy.
I laughed to myself as I imagined her walking into her classroom thinking, "This is what we took pictures for and got all hyped up about? It's just school!". =)
Later on that morning Ava and I headed out to our classroom and met my students for the first time. I was pleased with how the day went, and am even more pleased that on morning #3 we still seem to have it altogether here on the homefront. I was able to bake some cinnamon rolls and boil some eggs for the kids' breakfast, I showered and had a cup of coffee before they even needed to be dressed. It's a nice feeling to not have stress as we start this new schedule and routine each morning. There have been no tears from anyone, and it just feels good.
I imagine there will be days where things go awry and nerves are frazzled, but for now I am soaking up the ease that has been a part of this transition in our lives. It has been a simple blessing to me this week...and I have learned to never take a single blessing for granted. I love when peace comes in what otherwise could be a storm in life. I'll share more on that later. =)