Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Brighter Skies"

You know what they say... "Ask a busy person to do something and you'll likely get them to answer, 'yes'. That's why they are a busy person!" Well, it goes something like that. I couldn't help but say yes to my friend, Christine, when she invited me to be the guest designer for September's Cocoa Daisy scrapbooking kit club. I have not been scrapping or being creative at all lately- unless you count making a baby =), and so this was not only a fun kit to work with, but a great opportunity for me to get back into scrapbooking again. I've been missing it!
The pages and Starbuck's mini album can be clicked on and enlarged to see details and journaling, if you like. The full kit and all the product details are here- at Cocoa Daisy's online store. I just love the mix of papers and the fabric covered brads are fun for added texture and dimension on the page. They made cute closures for the mini album too. I am feeling so happy about scrapping again, and I am grateful to have been given such great products to design with that I want to give one of you the chance to get happy about scrapping too. If you leave a comment on this post with your name and city- and maybe your favorite picnic food or summer dessert since it is Labor Day weekend just around the corner- then you'll have a chance to win the Cocoa Daisy custom cloud stamp and a few other goodies that I'll pack up and send to you. I'll choose a winner on Friday... good luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

He's growing and changing every day!

Our baby is a week old and growing up already. He has started opening his eyes for longer periods of time... and his little belly button cord fell off too! Before we know it he'll be in 6th grade and taking on the challenges of middle school. Oh wait.
That's Brock.
And we have a week to go before that happens. How is it that even 11 years goes by in just a blink! Seven babies later and I'm still trying to figure out how to not miss a thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We're a "party" now ~

These are just a few of the 300 photos I've taken in just the past 4 days or so. That family picture was snapped just minutes after Chip brought Teague and me home from the hospital. As you can see it is a "real life" shot of us- half of us still in our pj's. =)
The transition from 7 to 8 has had some wonderful moments and some not-so-hot/I'd-rather-forget-these moments too. I won't claim that it's easy, because it's not. To top it off there has been a 24-hour virus going through the kids causing fever and complaints from 5 of the 6 kids so far. Teague has thankfully not gotten it {yet} and I am trying to be as cautious as I can to keep him from getting it too- but let's be realistic- germs go where they want!
I did think it was cute when Chip pointed out to a couple of the kids that if we go to a restaurant now and the hostess asks "How many tonight?" we will say "8", and technically that makes us a "party". Ferlaak... Party of 8. He said if they choose to add an automatic gratuity it will end up saving us money- because Chip {after years of food industry and waiting tables} has always been a good tipper. =) I'm not sure how long it will be before we all venture out as a "party", but I can already sense that it's going to be fun! Challenging fun!
So, Teague came home weighing in at 6 lbs. 9 oz. and he has been very mellow, a good eater, a great sleeper {so far!} and loved and adored and gushed on by everyone. Even Crew is happy to hold him and he thinks it's funny when Teague squeaks or opens his eyes. I've been most challenged by Crew in the past few days- but not because of Teague- simply because Crew was Crew even before Teague got here. =)
The itching has been back in spurts and I'm not handling that as well as I had hoped- I was hoping it would be gone! Thanks again for so many wonderful well-wishes, thoughts and prayers for our family/party. We often need them and certainly appreciate them as we go about our days and figure out how best to get along with one another. It IS a blessing to have a big family, but it sure can be a mixed blessing at times too. Hopefully we will find that being a party of 8 is something to celebrate every single day. Even the challenging ones!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Teague's first photos...

He's here and we couldn't be happier with how healthy he is, how mellow he's been so far and how blessed we are to have another baby in our family. Thanks so much for all your prayers for us as we welcomed Teague Easton into the world yesterday morning at 10:15 am. {He is our biggest baby weighing 7 lbs. 2 oz. at birth; and 6 lbs. 14 oz. after breakfast this morning. =)}
I was scheduled to be induced around 5:30 am and instead, when I awoke at 4:30 am I realized within minutes that it was "really happening"- all on its own. It's as though Teague knew that the day was his and after a relatively fast and easy delivery he took his first breaths. Even after 7 babies born to me I am still brought to tears when a new life enters this world and melts my heart.
How anyone can doubt that there is a Creator behind the intricate details of this universe is beyond my comprehension as I stare into the face of a new baby. The tiny fingernails and wrinkled toes and soft skin and hair are all I need to be more than fully convinced that there is a God who is initmately involved with the design of every being and every part of all His creation. Teague is nothing short of a miracle and a gift to our family- we believe that with all our hearts. We're humbled and thrilled to be able to share with you just one more glimpse of what God has given to us. There will be more photos in the future, as even now, just 24 hours old, Teague is beginning to change his look. He definitely has features similar to everyone of us, and that's fun to see how he is a part of each of us already.
To top off such a wonderful birth day, I was able to sleep without ice packs for my itching arms last night- even if it was only an hour and a half of sleep. It felt great and I am trusting that the condition is resolving itself now that Teague is here. Besides having black and blue marks all over my arms from 3 blown IV's, I am feeling good and look forward to getting more rest in the coming days too. Life feels very full and Teague is more than we could have hoped or asked for. Sometimes the things we least expect to happen in life turn out to be the best blessings of all. Today I am thanking God, once again, for giving us what we didn't even know we wanted in life. He is a great, big, wonderful God!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's time!

Today we've been telling Crew it's his last day to be the baby around here. I'm not sure that he is ready to be a big brother, but he sure likes to act 'grown up' a lot of the time. The top two photos I took several weeks ago when he woke up from a nap. He still loves a bottle when he's tired and I'm a slacker mom when it comes to breaking him of something he loves so much. Thank goodness he loves cups "with no lids" even more than bottles. He is just "passionate" about certain things, is what Chip would say. =)
Then, because I had the oven on and was feeling guilty about all the times I've snapped at all the kids over the past couple of weeks (mostly due to my extreme itching arms and lack of sleep as a result) I baked a yellow bundt cake and frosted it before it was even cool at dinner time last night. The kids were all excited about the cake and wanted to know what the celebration was all about. I told them there wasn't a special reason except that I appreciate that they put up with me being crabby in life right now. They acted like they didn't know what I was talking about saying, "We think you're the best mom and you've been nice a lot lately too!".
The cake was still a big hit and it made them happy and made me feel like I just might be able to pull off being a good mom even as we add another member to our family afterall. Tomorrow morning Chip and I will head to the hospital and I am hoping that the induction goes well. It's mainly due to the itching and change in baby movement the past week or so, but I am ready as ever- even if I was feeling "normal".
As long as our internet connection works at the hospital you can expect an update or post and likely some photos in the next day or two. It may be Chip jumping in on here, but he has my blessing to hijack my blog if I'm too tired {or crabby} to post. =)
Thanks for all your excitement and thoughts and prayers for our family as we prepare to be blessed with yet another baby- a gift we know that comes with great responsibilty, but also one that will allow us to grow our love that much more too. We never dreamed it would be "time" for us again... but God knew otherwise and we are trusting Him to give us more than we need to step up to the occasion. I guess we have another reason to eat cake afterall... another "birth day"!

Friday, August 13, 2010

As I get poked in the side by a foot...

Hi and thanks to everyone who offered Happy Anniversary wishes as well as suggestions for my itchy arm condition with this pregnancy. Chip and I didn't manage to get away from our duties with work/family on our anniversary, but I did have a non-stress test for the baby and then an ultrasound today. Everything appears to look good and 'normal' at this point, but my doctor has me on the books to head to the hospital a few days early if that doesn't happen on its own by Thuursday of this coming week. SO, there is an end to my sleepless/itchy nights- at least to be replaced by caring for a newborn rather than icing my arms with icepacks. =)
Also, I have had a few questions/emails about keeping everyone posted (at least as much as possible while hooked up to IV poles and fetal monitors and whatever other fun stuff the nurses have in store for me) and that will most likely happen through Face Book status updates on my page or Chip's. I added a link to the left here and feel free to add me as your friend- just let me know you read this blog and you're in! =)
Hopefully it will all be exciting and uneventful all at the same time. Not that I know how to make that happen- but we're going to try! As always, we appreciate your prayers for our family and look forward to sharing more stories and photos as soon as time allows. There's bound to be some major adjustments, and I have a feeling that will include a few noteworthy Nitty.Gritty. blogposts for you.
Now... wish me luck as I go try to take a quick nap before dinner!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our colorful start...

Tomorrow (August 12th) Chip and I will celebrate our 15th wedding annivesary and so I thought it would be fun to share a few photos and thoughts of how it all began. Fifteen years ago it was 1995; I was 22 and Chip was 27 years old. We had dated since January 1994 and were engaged in June that same year. We thought that we had been through a lot- both good and bad by that time, and we were ready to take on the world. Together.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I had no fears or reservations- only excitement and happiness inside! It felt like one of the most "right" things to do- I think I can speak for both of us when I say that. {Right, Chip?!} We had counted down the days, planned and prepared and looked forward to whatever life held for us from that day on.
The day started out overcast and quickly turned into Minnesota summer showers. I held my breath and hoped that the sun would come out just long enough for us to pull off our poolside/garden ceremony that we had set up in Chip's parent's backyard. I got my wish along with some major heat and humidity too! The rest of the day went just as we had planned. Family and friends surrounded us and shared the moments with us in which we vowed our love to one another and invited God to be at the center of it all.
Now, fifteen years later I can honestly say that it has been nothing like I imagined wedded life would be. Chip and I have not only been through some of life's darkest trials together, but we've faced things I never even dreamed. I had entered into a commitment with Chip thinking it would just be "us" forever- there were no kids in our future. We were both so surprised when on our first annivesary we learned that those plans had changed. Teagan arrived and changed my focus and heart toward kids. Then came Brock and Wyndham and a few moves across the country and the purchase of our first home and some financial worries {for me anyway} and then medical crisis for Wyndham and soon after, we even said our good-byes to Teagan forever- this side of Heaven.
In my wildest dreams, as we stood hand-in-hand on our wedding day, I never could have pictured how things would play out in the story of our life together. To think that we've been blessed with Isabella and Ava and Crew and now any minute another little baby will join our story, seems surreal at times. There have been moments where life felt like it couldn't get any sweeter... and other times when we were ready to give up on hope and each other for the simple fact that it just seemed as though it would be easier that way.
Thank goodness for me {and hopefully Chip would say for him too} I married a man who doesn't give up even when the world is stacked against us. He has no desire to "take the easy route" in life and I've seen him at his best sometimes when presented with challenges that would make others throw in the towel. He is fiercely competitive at his very core- but inside that same heart of his is a passion and love for me and all our family that shows itself so clearly- and makes my worries melt away whenever I am at my final straw too. He seems to know just how much of the world we can carry, and never tires of bearing more than his fair share through the years.
I consider myself to be blessed beyond measure when it comes to having Chip at my side. When we first met I would have told you that we were 'all wrong' for each other. But thankfully God knew what He had in store for us. I am so glad that Chip was persistent and bold and ready to romance me and then assure me that I was the right one for him all those years ago. I am thankful time and time again that God spared Chip's life- when our world crashed in and around us. I don't know that I would have survived such a loss without growing bitter and allowing my heart to grow cold for the rest of my days.
I have learned that marriage is hard- even on the good days, but is more than worth fighting for, even if we only lived 'bad days' from here on out. I would want those days to be with Chip and feel humbled and privileged at the same time, that I get to spend my life with him. Although I have no idea what the rest of our story will tell from this day on, I do know that it will be wrought with beauty and blessing and likely more challenges too. I look forward to whatever our future holds- as long as Chip is at my side. For 15 years now, my faith has grown, my love has deepened, my belief in us-with God at the center-has only affirmed that no matter how winding the path may be, it will never be more than we can bear.
* * * * *
To Chip, my husband and best friend,
May you always know that my heart holds nothing but love for you- even when the outward me has a hard time making you believe that as truth. I swore my love and devotion to you nearly 15 years ago and I meant every word. I still do and probably owe you many apologies from that day forward too. I know you love me with all your heart and there's something still so magical and wonderful and comforting in that. I don't take you for granted and hope I never will.
I thank God that He brought us together and planned things we never did. It has been a wild ride, but as the journey continues to unfold I know you and I are meant to live it together. For better; for worse- until death do us part.
Happy anniversary to us. Thank you a million times over for asking me to be yours. I am forever changed for the better.
All my love, Jody

Sunday, August 08, 2010

With 2 weeks to go...

Or less.
That's right. The countdown is definitely to when this baby will be born. The kids are anxious, my belly feels huge most of the time, and we still are making baby name lists- with lots of opinions weighing in on them. The process of choosing a name is always one of the most challenging parts of pregnancy for me {and Chip!}. =)
I am finding that besides choosing a name, there are other challenges too. Like the excessive, intense itching that started in my upper arms several weeks ago. It has gotten much worse and more extreme the past couple of weeks- to the point where the only relief I find is to hold ice packs on my arms to numb them. I waken at least 3 or 4 times each night having to replace the ice packs for new, colder ones. I have discussed it with a couple of doctors and they are stumped and recommend allergy medications- which have not done a thing. I am hoping that it is somehow pregnancy related and will start to go away after or very soon after delivery! I can't handle any more burning in my upper arms- it's making me go crazier than I already am! SO... wish me luck with that and if anyone has suggestions or insights to this, I'd love to hear what you know about the topic.
The other tough thing is trying to stay on top of the household chores- things like keep the fridge stocked and rooms picked up- knowing that at any time I may be gone for 2 or more days. I like to be in control of things and the unpredictability of my absence makes me a bit edgy. Just ask Chip. =)
While we never planned any of our pregnancies and consider each of our children blessings from God- that He knew were to be a part of our family and were handpicked by Him before Chip and I ever even met- it's still a bit scary to imagine how life is about to change. Babies have their own personalities, agendas and demands that are unrelenting at times. I know this because I've had six of them already. I know what to expect. And don't know what to expect all at the same time. I do know that babies mean sacrifice, and I am willing to do my part, trusting that God will give our family strength, patience and grace for the changes that lie just ahead.
I have to say that I am anxious and excited- just like the kids in many ways. But sort of wish I could freeze time right now too. We have reached the point where strangers ask questions and give comments to us when we're out and about in public... the kind of questions that make me feel like we're really an extraordinary family- in a not-so-extraordinary way. Questions like, "Are these all your children?" and "Are they all brothers and sisters?" because I guess some blended families do have lots of kids too and that helps people explain things in their minds. But to think that a couple would actually choose to have as many kids with another on the way sort of takes people aback. Most are pleasant and encouraging- saying things like, "Good for you... and your kids seem so well-behaved" {which I credit to things like Dum Dum suckers when I have to take them all to Target or out for grocery shopping}. They also add things like, "I never could have handled that many kids" or "You must never sit down during the day!" {which makes me feel like Super Woman or Crazy Woman- depending on the day.}
It's been interesting, exciting, nerve-wracking and a lot more the past 9 months. I have a feeling the next several months will hold much of the same. I am hoping to get some sleep before this baby arrives, and am asking God to give me whatever else I need to be my best to this baby and everyone in my family.
With less than 2 weeks to go, I appreciate your prayers too. I have a feeling I just might need them. =)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Oh, the craziness!

For Bella's birthday she got to go and pick out a new bike with Chip last week. She loved this one for a few reasons, but most of all because it has a kickstand. She is a very practical girl. She also loves anything and everything Pokemon- no matter how often or how hard we try to talk her out of it. She's loved the game and characters and cards for a few years now, and it looks like her love affair with Pikachu isn't going to end anytime soon.
You just can't change some things about kids- so you learn to love the things they love. As long as it's all good. =)
I sometimes think my kids are trying to make me crazy with the things they love and how they like to spend their time and energy, but it also makes me love them like crazy, because their individual likes/dislikes is what makes them each special and unique. Bella has her own sense of humor and is by far the one who takes things very literally and she likes things to be fairly obvious to her. She is a very smart girl and gets good grades in school- but she does things her own way and at her own speed. I have no idea what she will choose to do in life when she gets older, but I do know it's going to be fun to see how she grows and blossoms and changes. She's going to do it all her own way. I know that much already.
Besides posting these pictures from her birthday, I just have to write this down for the record too. She was having a conversation at the dinner table the other night and it ended up going like this:
Ava said, "I know where Pokemon stuff comes from; they made it up in Japan." Bella added, "I know, Ava. Lots of video games and electronic stuff comes from Japan and China." Then there was a pause... followed by this thought from Bella, "Hmmm... I wonder why they can make a lot of cool stuff like games, but they still didn't invent the fork."
She was so serious about it too.
The thing is she had chosen to eat at a Japanese Hibachi restaurant for her birthday meal just a few days earlier and the kids all had so much fun using their kid's chopsticks. Even Crew ate a whole plateful of Chocolate Cheerios, one by one, with his sticks. I ended up holding back my laughter so that I wouldn't hurt her feelings, because she had obviously been thinking things through. And it's just the sort of crazy, unique, thoughtful way I would expect my Isabella to be. I love that girl and all my kids and today I wanted to hang onto some of the little reasons why. Before they really DO make me crazy! =)