Thursday, September 24, 2009

Same ol'... same ol'

Do you ever feel as though you are just coasting through life and the days sort of just blur together? That's how I feel right now. Actually for several weeks now. Not that it's a 'bad blur', but it just seems as though I find myself doing and saying the same things over and over. Whether it's bread-baking or bed-making or picture-taking, it all seems to just repeat itself from week to week.
That's probably part of the reason I don't blog all that often. I don't want to bore you all with the repetition- the same ol' stories and details and random thoughts I drum up. I have had some of you write me and say you don't care what I post- you simply enjoy new posts. Thanks for the encouragement. If you have something you'd like to hear or see here, let me know. I'm always willing to share my heart/mind on new topics.
This weekend I will be sharing part of my story- especially in regards to forgiveness- at a local church's women's event. I know it is fresh and new to those who have never met me. I hope that God continues to receive glory from my life. No matter how exciting my days may or may not be.
With that, I am off to do 3 loads of laundry today among other things. I also am looking for a fun/tasty/simple applecupcake recipe. If you've got one, feel free to share! Happy Thursday! =)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Simple and sweet.

The birthday boy and everyone else is asleep in their beds for the night. Today we celebrated Crew turning 1 and it was a low-key, mostly mellow day. Just enough fun and excitement so that everyone knew there was something special and different about the day, but simple enough that so Crew could enjoy it.
First off, Chip was up and gone early and ran his first half-marathon. He finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes and was very happy with that time. We didn't see his race, but we're proud of him and were glad to have him home for most of the rest of the day.
One of the hardest parts of throwing a birthday party for a one-year old- the youngest of 6 kids- is that he really didn't need any new 'stuff'. However, one of his gifts was a waffle maker that makes farm-shaped waffles and it was a big hit with Crew and all the other kids too. Our waffle maker recently quit working after 14 years and after our recent trip to the local dairy farm this just seemed fun and fitting. Crew loves waffles. Even better than that was the fun he had climbing on and over the box. Isn't that how it always is with little kids! They love the box 10 times more than what's in it! =)
Later on I made Crew a birthday hat and as you can see from these photos, he didn't like it as much as I had hoped he would. In one of the pictures I think he is saying, "It's my birthday... get this thing off od me right now!"
I also had plans for some cute letters spelling out his name for the cake, but when this Elmo card came in the mail from Grandma and Grandpa, well, it just seemed suited to be used as a cake topper. Crew was thrilled with the cake- even though you can't sense his excitement from these pictures. He's had a thing for Reddi-wip since he was about 6 months old and had his first squirt straight out of the can. His eyes lit up as he watched us top his cake with whipped cream and then we let him sit and eat right off the cake for several bites after he (we) blew the candle out. He seemed very surprised that we would let him eat off the big plate. I was surprised at how little mess he made. He was very good about licking his fingers clean. =)
It's been a wonderful and challenging pleasure to have Crew join our family this past year. He has found a special place in all of our hearts.
I found myself thinking at different times during the day that at some point these moments that we shared and savored and enjoyed together will be moments I will recall in the future and I'll wish I could have them back. It's a good day- birthday or not- to realize what a gift the here and now truly is. It may not have been perfect or filled with lots of fanfare, but it was simple, sweet and a day to be treasured for years to come.
Happy Birthday, dear Crew. We're so glad that we have you in our lives to celebrate... today and always!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A quick game of peek-a-boo.

Crew initiated this round of peek-a-boo. Gotta love when a game doesn't leave small pieces lying all over the house. Bonus when the game is played next to a window with lots of natural light streaming in.

Guess who's running a 1/2 marathon tomorrow?

Some of you are probably as surprised and amazed at this as I am. I'm proud of his ongoing effort and committment to health and fitness and even to pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Now, if only a little bit of that could rub off on me!
Join me in wishing Chip good luck tomorrow morning. He'll definitely have earned a piece of cake when we celebrate Crew's birthday later on in the day. It's gonna be a small piece, I bet. Good luck, Chip!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guess who has a birthday at the end of this week?

How did that happen so fast?! I see cake and frosting in Crew's future. =)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Polling the audience.

I don't know what to tell you about my sparse posting here on my blog except that Crew never stops finding new things to dump out, tear apart, climb up onto, open up, toss down the stairs, chew on, unroll, unwrap, bang together, and more. He's a whirlwind from morning til night.
So that's my excuse for not blogging. I don't blame you for not reading. =)
Today I'm asking your opinion, if you're so inclined to leave a comment. It's an easy multiple choice answer. I colored my hair (twice) and cut it myself yesterday. Yes. I have issues. The question I pose to you is this-
Does that make me:
a) desperate
b) cheap
c) crazy
d) all of the above.
I'll still like you no matter how you answer the question. I also might just blog a couple of more times before this week is over too. If Crew allows it, that is.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Squeezing in some fun.

We finally enjoyed a nice little stretch of summer weather. Just before it was time to head back to school for another year. The kids were happy when I dragged a mattress out to our driveway one sunny afternoon and let them jump and play as long as they wanted. I don't know what my neighbors thought, but at this point in the summer it was simply all about fun!
We had an afternoon at Lake Michigan's beach... the water was cold, but the sand was perfect. Ava was proud that she turned her own self into a mermaid. =) I was happy that Crew only ate two big mouthfuls of sand while we were there. We grabbed ice cream and playtime at the Whippi-dip last night and everyone was in bed right on time.
Brock and Bella headed off to their first day of school today (Brock in 5th grade; Bella started 2nd) and Ava and Wyndham will be starting kindergarten tomorrow. We're hoping for a great year of learning and growing and still squeezing in as much fun as we can- even if it means jumping on an old mattress on the driveway.
I hope you have a great fall season too!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What if.

My head is full of thoughts and wondering again, so here I am blogging 'outloud' and trying to make sense of those things. I think these thoughts are coming out of the recent funk I blogged about and spent some time wallowing in, as well as a new month {Hello, September and pumpkin-flavored stuff!} and the verge of yet another changing of the seasons.

Those top two photos are pictures of Teagan (and Wyndham) and are a couple of the ways I will remember her in my mind forever. It's been heavy on my heart and mind that next week- Tuesday- if she were still here, she would be starting 7th grade. I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that she would be in junior high. I have a hard time picturing Teagan as anything other than my little 4-year old girl. Most the time when I think of her I recall her dancing and twirling and jumping and giggling and just having fun. Which, I suppose, is a lot of the same things 7th grade girls do too. =) I share this so that those of you who live with grief can 'see' how I process and live with grief too. I share it for those of you who have not walked this path of grief so you can 'see' a little bit of my world and maybe let it change the way you appreciate your own life. I share this for my own kids, family and self so that we can grow and learn and remember and change and find that grief isn't something that holds us back, but makes us who we are on so many different levels.

The questions are there from the beginning of the grief journey and they never seem to end. The what if's and why's and how come's can consume thoughts and conversations. They can draw people closer and tear whole families apart. I've lived them and continue to do so, as this post testifies. Right now they sound like this in my head: "What if Teagan were still here... would she be excited about school to start? Would she be a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, or still prefer dresses and something sparkly on her lips or in her hair?"

"What if we had never gone to lunch at the Old Depot that day? What if Wyndham were able to run and jump and talk like all her friends? What if she cdidn't have to wear diapers and go to therapy hours at a would our lives be different? What would we do with the 'extra time' we'd have? Would we appreciate Cheerios scattered on the floor the way we do now? Would we find that even at the end of an exhausting day that tucking kids into their beds is a gift and blessing to thank God for?"

You see, with grief and loss the questions are always there. The dreams that you once carried in your heart and mind are never satisfied. They will never be. Therein lies the hurt. But in the same token, therein lies the choice. I have found (and blogged about it somewhere in the archives here) that you can ask the questions, cry and shout at them and let them grip your heart and life, and you can "stay there". You can let the hurt and pain hold you back, OR you can accept the reality and let the questions come as they do, but not let them get in the way of your living. It's a hard choice and one that demands much of you. I do not always respond to my grief the same way each time it comes at me. Sometimes I am better about the wondering, and other times it brings me back and the wounds feel fresh and sting just as they did years ago. What I do know after years of riding these waves is that the quickest way into the darkness/funk is to feel sorry for yourself and to think only of you and your loss. It should come as no surprise then, that the quickest way out of the darkness and wallowing is by looking beyond yourself and outside of you. It's not easy to take your eyes off your hurt, but both Chip and I have found that it has been instrumental for us in order to move beyond it. We both loved Teagan with all our hearts, but to try to 'hold onto her' would have held us in a cycle of pain, bitterness and misery. We learned early on in our journey of sorrowing that wishing things were different couldn't make them so. It was only when we moved ourselves to action that we have been able to break out of the dark.

We still ask questions as you can see. I tend to ask them and wonder a whole lot more than Chip does- and that's a whole other topic I could blog about too. My point to this thinking outloud is to note that we ALL have questions and mine flow most often out of my life/grief experiences. But those times in life when we have pause to consider, seem to be opportunities to define where life will take us. I'm glad that for so many reasons, Chip and I have fought to find Joy out of sorrow and to ask more out of life than what came to us one fateful day. I'm glad that there are many of you willing to support and encourage us on the days we find the darkness and circumstances overwhelming and you still want to be our friends when things aren't always pretty. I'm glad that when all seems lost- in the bleakest moments when our direction in life is most uncertain- those are often the times when life gives us choices or chances to shine. I hope that as I continue to grow and change and seek to become who I was created to be that along this path I will find it easier and easier to take my eyes off me and look for ways to touch others, or be changed by God.

There are a couple of opportunities I want to highlight as I wrap up my nitty.gritty. thoughts in this post and those are the two guys pictured above. The guy next to the F-16 is Chip's boss/golf club owner, Dan Rooney. Although Chip works for him and his family, Dan has become a good friend of our whole family the past several years. He has also lived through a defining moment in his life out of which was born the Folds of Honor Foundation and Patriot Day. I invite you to check out the website and see how you might be able to get involved with this great cause this Labor Day weekend. This weekend marks the 3rd Annual Patriot Golf Day. If you golf, it will be easy for you to do a little something, and if you don't golf, you can still be a part of this growing cause. I'm proud of Dan for not just thinking about the families touched by profound injuries/death as they've served our country, but for being moved to action. It's already made the difference to so many deserving families!

Finally, the last picture is of the president of charity: water, Scott Harrison. His vision and desire to help others is raising awarness across the globe and is bringing clean water to people who are in desperate need to it. On Sept. 10th, he will be the guest on The Well Radio and you can listen to how his wondering and wishing things were different for billions of needy people is inspiring many and making a world of difference. I hope that for each of us, myself included, when life pours out questions and longings that we will seek to answer them and fill them up with something bigger than us.