Monday, March 29, 2010

Experiencing everyday Grace.

These are some miscellaneous pictures of Wyndham taken over the past couple of weeks. She has gotten her energy and personality back and we are so happy that she is healthy and strong again. She had a rough several weeks this winter, but you could never tell it now.
I have been struck several times while going about my daily tasks the past few days of just how much grace I experience because of Wyndham and the extra-special needs she has. It has been in the forefront of my mind much more than usual, as she her surgery date came and went- I have actually "felt" the grace we're experiencing right now as her surgery was rescheduled. I don't often share the ugly realities of living with her ongoing needs, but trust me, they are there and we have learned {I think we have anyway!} to take them in stride most of the time and to just accept that Wyndham's challenges are just a part of our normal routine.
What you don't see are the difficulties that result of a traumatic brain injury- even years later. Things like having to diaper and change a 70 pound, 9-year old girl. It's not very pretty and many times a week we wash and remake all her bedding too. I can't really tell you how hard it is to bathe someone of her size and needs too. She requires extra help getting in and out of a tub and depends on us to take care of all her personal grooming. Wyndham continues to work hard several times a week in physical rehab in learning and developing the skills necessary to walk up and down steps and to climb up into her seat in our minivan.
As I've helped assist her in many of these situations the past few days it has occurred to me that I am living with "extra" grace right now. All of her daily challenges are only going to be magnified and even several more will be created after she has her {double-foot realignment} surgery later this fall. She will be in casts over both knees and I can't even begin think of all the added demands that will make for all of us. I don't really like to actually think about it at all, because it is overwhelming and scary.
But that's not where my heart is right now. I just can't help but be even more aware and grateful of how blessed we are to soak up the things she IS able to do and I am seeing how even her challenges are "easy" for us compared to how things could be. I have a greater sense right now of what a gift she is and how we are so fortunate for the strength and health she does have- and I am grateful even more for all the things God has brought her through. I know that she faces a lifetime of 'stuff' that many will never know, and to be completely honest with you many times I get frustrated and angry that she/we have to deal with them at all. She's never done anything to deserve the added difficulties and pain she carries with her everyday. But I also know she/we are given more Grace than we deserve to work through the challenges and to even 'accept' them as normal and part of our routine.
I sometimes 'forget' that I am a mom of a little girl labled handicapped in her files. It is because of grace that that is true in my life. I just want to publicly thank God for His grace in our lives and to praise Him for the gift of Wyndham and even thank Him for her handicaps today. For it is because of them that I can see more of His grace- and nothing compares to experiencing everyday Grace.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On my mind today...

These colorful felt pinwheels caught my eye on Elsie's blog. You can purchase a bouquet of pinwheels here... and find more inspiration at the creator's blog- Giant Dwarf. I just think it's fun to share ideas and things that inspire me from time to time. Simple things. I think it helps remind my husband that I'd rather have a bouquet of felt pinwheels than roses too. He forgets how practical I am at heart and I know he still reads my blog from time to time, so this post is especially for him. {wink}
Now. On a totally different topic...
Do any of you feel relieved and convicted at the same time when you hear ongoing media coverage about such people as Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock? I'm just thinking outloud for a minute, because it's something that's been on my heart and mind the past several days. First of all, my heart breaks ANY time I hear that a marriage is being rocked. Whether it's because of financial strain, marital infedelity or any number of other reasons. I know firsthand what a challenge marriage is to maintain, and especially in our American society, it is so easy to "throw away" when the going gets tough.
So when I hear stories of struggling marriages I stop and thank God that He has and continues to hold mine together. It is a challenge to make a marriage relationship a priority and it is easy to let stuff pile up or come between a husband and wife. I am humbled and grateful that my marriage- while far from perfect- is still intact and even wonderful at times. I don't take that lightly and I know what a gift it is. Every single day.
The other thing I have been thinking about is how easy it is to stop and point a finger or to feel "arrogant" when {especially big celebrity couples} marriages break down. It seems all too easy to say, "Boy, I'm glad I would never do something like that... or How could that even happen?". The fact is, none of us are immune to the things of this world that seek to tempt us, drag us down, rip us apart and in short, break up a sacred union. We live in a fallen, sinful world and these sorts of stories in the news- as much as they make me hurt for those behind the headlines- seem to be quiet reminders that I need to do as the Bible says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Prov. 4:23
Having the world at your fingertips, and money and fame may seem to be glamourous and wonderful. But in this broken world I am learning to thank God for what I have, to be content and even very satisfied with the things I do have. I have been praying for people I know in stressful marriages and even praying that God can be glorified and bring good out of the hardships and struggles that marriages can encounter. He is the One thing that has been the source and strength in my marriage to Chip and I know that He desires nothing more than to bless even the rockiest marriage. I am glad that we can trust and turn to Him. No matter how tough life gets at times.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starting to think about baby.

Now that I am into my second trimester I am so happy to leave behind the morning sickness, fatigue and lack of energy to do anything. It is a relief to know that I actually do have desire and even a bit of energy to do some creative stuff in my "spare time" again. Half-way through the first trimester I began to think I may never create anything with my paper products again!
So this past week I was glad to have the chance to make a little something for a friend of ours who had a little book shower in the kindergarten class at school. The top three photos are pictures of the mini album I gave them to fill with pictures and notes about their adorable baby girl, Nora. I know that Nora's mom loves vintage things, so I pulled out a mix of my vintage and tiny flower patterned papers and then cut them up and glued/tied them together into this baby book. It was not only fun for me to put together, but fun to see how some of the random scrap stuff I have laying around my scraproom mixed and matched and turned out to be a cute little book.
In just a couple of short weeks we have an ultrasound and will likely be able to find out if our baby is a boy or girl. I am thinking after I find out I can start making another book and have it ready to fill with pictures well before our baby comes later this summer. I am looking forward to making a few baby things- it's my way to unwind, do some dreaming and use up my stuff all at the same time. A win-win!
One of the other projects I just came across and bookmarked is the cute shadowbox baby collage you see in the last photo- which I found here at giddy giddy blog. This could be a great project for not only babies, but kids of any age, weddings or just a neat way to show off a miniature collection too! I thought it was simple, sweet and I was definitely inspired and hope to make one of my own.
I am still overwhelmed at the thought of a newborn in our home, but at the same time I have been feeling some baby kicks and have to admit that it is a humbling and great honor to look forward to such a gift. We're also still gathering ideas for baby names, so feel free to leave your suggestions for us here. Baby naming is a task all its own! =)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

She got her wish.

If she were here with us, Teagan would be turning into a teenager today. It's her 13th birthday. We were privileged to be able to spend 4 birthdays with her here on earth. Several times in the days after she turned four she would say, "I just want to be 4 forever". I questioned her and tried to talk her out of such a wish. I told her about lots of fun and beautiful things that life held for her as she would grow up into a lady.
It was simple wish and one I never imagined would actually come true. But it did. I sometimes wonder if her heart and soul were connected to Heaven from the beginning. I tend to believe the answer is yes. I will never fully understand and especially on days like today, it hurts and the wounds of grief feel fresh again. To miss her is one thing. To wonder how things might be is another. And the process of surrendering and accepting this reality of ours continues.
Even as my heart aches, I still have a peace and a comfort in my heart. Teagan got her wish and it changed me. I am glad that our spirits are forever connected- no matter how long or how far apart we are. As she celebrates today in Heaven, and we remember her here on earth, I am glad for the Hope we cling to- that we will be together again someday. It makes me realize our hearts aren't that far apart afterall.
She might have been turning 13 today... but I will always remember her as four. She got her wish; as heartbreaking as that is, it also brings me a certain Joy too.
Teagan will always be the love of my heart.
Happy Birthday to the little girl who changed my heart and life forever...
even at the age of 4.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Princess for a day.

Ava celebrated her 6th birthday yesterday. She had requested a pink frosted castle cake after seeing a similar blue one in a book that the kids all like to look through. She was awakened by all of us saying, "Surprise!" to her too- after she had requested that the night before as well. =) Funny how she "planned" her own party, but seem genuinely surprised and happy when it all actually came true before her eyes.
There were presents and brunch and an afternoon out of the house at a lacrosse game and playing with the neighbor kids too. It was sweet and simple, but as the pictures show, she was as happy as could be. It sure is fun to be princess- if even for a day.
Happy Birthday, Ava. You are loved- just the way you are!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Feels like spring!

The sunshine has come out for a couple of days here in Michigan and today our temp should be around 50 degrees F. It is beginning to feel like spring! I am anxious to spend some time in the fresh air and the kids are anxious to get their bikes out and ride around after school too. It's the kind of weather that rejuvinates your soul after a long winter and sickness and grey days.
I came across this cute {free download} tutorial at Creature Comforts blog for painting tea cups with real tea. I think they are adorable and I am inspired to get out my china teacups today and have a little tea party with Ava while Crew naps later on today.
What sort of things do you love and look forward to at the first sign of spring? If I could, I'd have you over for tea and we could chat and enjoy each other's company. Instead, feel free to share your random thoughts in the comments and just pretend your sipping some tea at the same time. With a fresh squeeze of lemon on the side too. =)
Happy {early} Spring... which hopefully will last a little while around our place!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A wise lesson indeed.

Photo of Benjamin Franklin credited to the National Archives.
Yesterday I was proud of Brock and several other students that attend school with him. They had competed in an elementary speech meet a week ago and the those who placed in the top of their classes were able to share their speeches/poems in front of a larger audience of students, teachers, parents and friends. It is something they do each year and it's actually one of things Brock looks forward to doing- which is surprising since public speaking isn't normally something kids {or even many adults!} like to do.
This year Brock chose a piece from the category "Presidential Orations". There were several options in this category including Martin Luther King's "I Had a Dream" speech and Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. The challenging part of this event isn't just that the kids perform in front of their classes, but their piece must be given from memory. Their final score is judged on several things including how many helps they need, presence and rate/volume of speaking. Being a college graduate in communications, I happen to really like that their school encourages such a challenge for young students and even though it is scary and intimidating for many of the kids, I just think there is such value in such an event.
That's a long preface to basically tell you that I was proud of Brock and all the other kids who stood up and gave their speeches a second time yesterday. Some were cool and confident, while others were well-rehearsed, but clearly were not entirely comfortable in front of the crowd. The best part of it all is to hear the poems, Scriptures and parables retold from the voices of our next generation. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling pride for their hard work and their willingness to be vulnerable and put in the spotlight- and that's just how I felt for all of them. Proud.
So {this is mainly for my parents who are proud of Brock too but didn't get to hear his speech yesterday} I am sharing Brock's speech selection here with you all today. I love that he is enamored with American History and that he challenged himself to learn several new vocabulary words in order to do a good job on this piece. We had some good discussions about what the lesson in this story meant for Benjamin Franklin and how it still is relevant for many of us today. I love that someone's life lesson which occured over 200 years ago still touches and impacts lives in 2010. Without further ado, I give Benjamin Franklin's life lesson called, "The Whistle". I hope you enjoy it too!
"The Whistle"
When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too much for his whistle."
If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, "Poor man," said I, "you pay too much for your whistle."
When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle."
If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle."
When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, "What a pity," say I, "that she should pay so much for a whistle!"
In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Growing a belly.

Here is my official first belly picture of my pregnancy at 15 weeks. Which, by the way, where do the weeks go? In just a few more weeks we will have an ultra sound and decide if we want to find out if we're having a boy or girl. And just next month we'll be at the half-way point- and I tend to "go early", so that means we'll be over the half-way mark. Crazy how fast the weeks go by compared to the first time around. =) I don't plan to document and post my growth as often as last pregnancy, but it is fun to do occasional updates for my friends and family who won't see me for the duration.
I am finally feeling a bit of energy come back and have for the most part, put the nausea behind me. Thank goodness! I was thinking that the queasy feeling might never end! I also have been trying to watch my calorie intake as I feel like I am going to be very big at the end of this nine months. But, I can tell you that I indulged on something worth every calorie and delicious bite last week. You know we were having a rough week with Wyndham being sick and the rest of us just barely recovered from a month-long of colds and stomach bugs. Anyway, Chip and I had the rare opportunity to grab a quick breakfast together and at a local cafe, much to my delight, there was a new item on the menu. Carrot, Oat and Nut Pancakes topped with a dollop of Cream Cheese spread. When they were placed in front of me I couldn't have been happier. Two plate-sized pancakes filled of shredded carrots, sugared pecans and oats. They were so delectible and if I had been blindfolded I would have thought I was eating carrot cake for breakfast! I think it was one of the top 3 breakfasts I have ever eaten in my life. Yum! {The other two were: Room-service breakfast when we were put up at the Omni Hotel as guests of the Oprah Show... I had Vanilla Bean French Toast with a side of pears. The other was on our honeymoon in Kauai- Macadamian Nut Waffles with Coconut Syrup and fresh ground Kona coffee and cream. The fresh air as we sat near the beach was the perfect setting for such a meal too!} Okay. Back to real life. =)
I did find a recipe online for Carrot Cake Pancakes and I vow to try to make my own at home soon. I also came across this amazing-looking recipe from the blog Abbey Goes design scouting for Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies {the photo above is credited to her}. I figure if I am going to be growing a big belly, I might as well have a little fun with it along the way. Right?! If you happen to have any other fabulous carrot cake recipes, feel free to link me up here. I am more than happy to try them out, or at least dream about how they might taste. Maybe having a big belly isn't such a bad thing afterall! =)