Wednesday, October 27, 2010

She makes it look easy.

What a whirlwind couple of weeks it has been for my family this October. There has been so much going on- good, bad and in between, that I haven't had a moment to catch up here at Nitty.Gritty. I also find that being home around so many family members made it 'less urgent' for me to post, since we were sort of living out what I might otherwise blog home to them about. So that's the explanation I have for not updating here.
We packed our whole family of 8 into an RV and took a 12+ hour roadtrip across 5 states to be with all of my family and friends to remember our dear Grandma Shirley as she passed away October 17th. It was a bittersweet time for many of us as we have such fond memories of sharing life with her. They say there are two types of people in this world- givers and takers. She was a GIVER through and through- always giving joy, love, happiness, a word of encouragment or sharing a meal made by her hands and heart. She will be missed and remembered by so many and I am grateful I had the chance to be home in Minnesota to take part in celebrating who she was and always will be. As my great-uncle John said, "Shirley was a true love machine". I was lucky to know that, feel it from her firsthand, and hopefully take some of that with me and turn it around to pour out to others as I walk through life too.
That top photo is a picture of me with my family- my parents and my four siblings. We haven't taken a picture together like this in years. Being together was special- but after driving all those hours home with our youngsters, Chip and I vow not to do that again for a long, long while.
And I'm not kidding.
AT about the 8 hour mark each way we were ready to have the trip be over. Especially Crew strapped into his carseat and screaming to let us know he had had it. Not fun in Chicago rush-hour traffic. Or anywhere for that matter. And at that 8 hour mark you realize you are only two-thirds of the way to your destination. It starts to feel like a terrible mistake to be traveling; but somehow we made it there and back. The kids LOVED spending time with their cousins and catching up on the fun they've missed out on the past couple of years. There were lots of fun and games and laughter and screaming (especially from Wyndham when Grandma Genie pushed her wheelchair while running through the halls of the building where we stayed!) and there was lots of crying, yelling and 'drama' too. I won't even go into all of that but you can just be thankful along with me that we didn't have to have surgery to try to reattach Crew's fingers. That's all I'm going to say about that- we're all still traumatized from that elevator incident! Eeeks!
Now for an update on Wyndham. Today marks 4 weeks since she had her double-foot surgery. It has felt like a long, long time for us, so I can only imagine how long it has felt for her. She can only sit in her wheelchair, or lay on the couch or her bed. Oh yeah, she has a special toilet seat to sit on once in awhile too. Yesterday she saw her surgeon for some x-rays and was re-cast as part of the ongoing recovery process. This time around she picked pink casts. I think she was actually starting to tire of seeing those bright orange ones and just wanted a little change in scenery. You can see she was checking them out this morning and then gave me a thumb's up too. What a steadfast spirit she has about her. I could learn a thing or two from her about patience and perseverance. I wish a lot of times I could be more like her. Look at the smiles on her face as she does her coloring pages. That's how she is most of the time.
We keep trying to make things "fun" for her as she's healing, but she's the one that smiles through the pain and monotony of her situation. We bring stuff to her- like the dollhouse that normally sits on the floor, and she also loves to spend time doing the paint application on the computer. She's very good at it and can start the program all on her own. She inspires me everyday; she makes it look easy!
Just before we wnt to Minnesota one night I was needing a chocolate fix of some sort, so I quick whipped up a chocolate cake mix. Instead of just pouring it into a 9x13 pan I poured it into the giant cupcake pan and decided to frost it and let Wyndham blow out 2 candles in "celebration" of surviving 2 weeks with her casts on. It was sort of a way for us to turn a bad situation into something a tiny bit wonderful. Right away when the kids saw the cake they wanted to know who's birthday it was. =) I told them it wasn't for a birthday, but instead it was for letting Wyndham know how proud we are of the way she is handling having to wear double-casts right now. They were so excited to see her blow out candles and celebrate something like being home from the hospital. It has been rough for us as a couple (I could write a short book on that!) and as a family, and I know it has been difficult for Wyndham too. She doesn't smile all the time and sure wishes she could be doing what she used to be doing, but at the same time, I am proud that we're all still hanging in there as best as we can do.
That's one of the many gifts I think my Grandma handed down to me and now I occasionally find I pass along too. I told her years ago, after surviving the loss of a child and living through tragedy, that she had made the suffering look "easy" to me and so many people around her through the years. You'd never know it from first meeting my Grandma, because of the smile on her face and the joy in her life, that she had lived a life of trials. She was so good at trusting God and giving all her burdens to Him. I learned from her that you don't have to live a life feeling sorry for yourself. You can move through your sorrows and suffering and she lived her life as an example of that- finding ways to turn her trials into opportunities to experience God's love, mercy and grace.
I feel like I fail more than I thrive when it comes to stepping up to these life challenges. But I hope that even through my failures I will learn that there is reason to keep going. I am so thankful for my Grandma's life, for the love and support of my family, and even the inspiration of Wyndham in her suffering. She makes it look easy and that never ceases to amaze me. I hope to become more like her- and can sense that God is growing patience in me right now too. Not always easy; but it is a good thing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I don't know if there's spaghetti in Heaven...

But if there is, these two could be slurping it and enjoying it together today. My Grandma Shirley passed away last evening and because of her belief in Jesus and His death on the cross for sin, I know she is in Heaven today. This picture of her and Teagan is more than 10 years old already. Yet I still remember the fun we all shared together and I can still "hear" what their laughter sounded like on that day.
Our family {my mom's side} and so many people are going to miss my Grandma and who she was in our lives. She lived an amazing life- one touched by tragedy and grief more than once- still she exuded joy and happiness to hundreds of people over the span of her life. There is so much I could say about her and truly, if you met her you blessed as a result.
We will be packing an RV tomorrow and driving from Michigan to Minnesota to be with family and friends as we share memories of grandma and our say final good-bye. We are sad on one hand, but filled with peace at the same time as we know she is home with God for all eternity now! What a thrill Heaven must be!
You can pray for us to have safe travel to and from home, as well as semi-well-behaved kids for 12+ hours, and that Wyndham will do well too. Although she is the one that is used to sitting in one place for hours at a time right now! I just know that my Grandma would be happy to hear that so many people are coming together from all over to remember her life, share in our sorrow and celebrate her faith that spurred her on until the very end. I'd love to tell you more about her and will do so when I get that chance. I look forward to seeing her in Heaven again. Someday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For those of you who are checking in on us...

{Cookie photo and recipe credits go to Dawn Finicane at Vanilla Sugar blog.}
I made a batch of these cookies tonight and ate some of the dough plus two cookies. For dinner. The kids ate an actual meal before they got their cookies, but I didn't get around to the dinner part. That's sort of how things are going around here right now.
Not bad.
But not really the way they should be.
Or how we wish things could be.
Having a newborn in the house is a challenge.
Having a fiesty, possibly ADD 2-year old in the house is a challenge.
Having a 9 year old in diapers and unable to speak is a challenge.
Having your challenged 9-year old in double-casts is even more challenging.

Trying to keep life "normal" for the other three who go to elementary and middle school is a challenge just because of all the other challenges.
I have to admit I feel like we're in over our heads most of the time. I also will admit that I realize things could be worse too. Much worse. Or should I say, more challenging.

It's not the end-of-the-world to eat delicious, fresh-baked big chewy cookies for dinner. It's not like I had a wasitline in the past 9 months anyway. =) I do sit and wonder what God could be trying to teach us in all of this right now. Maybe it is patience. Maybe it is to help us empathize with others who have needs and issues that seem unfair or overwhelming. Maybe it is a time in my life for me to just "be still and listen". I'm not sure what it's all about, but can tell you it is harder than I thought it would be. And I'm not just speaking about the physical challenges. I highly recommend the chocolate chip cookie recipe linked above. And our whole family appreciates those of you who keep checking in on us and lift up prayers for us too. If it weren't for the prayers, I probably wouldn't have gotten to eat dinner tonight, nor cookies. So, thanks for praying.
From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

Monday, October 04, 2010


My parents left this morning to go back to their home in Minnesota. They were such a great help and support system for us this past week. We will miss them around here! Grandma Genie gave Ava her first major haircut and Ava loves it this short.
As for Wyndham, she is still doing well right now. Chip is doing most of her care and has a mattress he pulls out next to her bed so he can be near her at night. Things like brushing teeth and bathing are tricky and take longer than normal, but we're finding ways to modify such tasks and get them done. The kids are being very sensitive to Wyndham's needs and have been looking for ways to keep her entertained and happy. They dance for her and blow up balloons and turn on dvd's and just try to make the misery of being confined to bed or wheelchair less miserable.
Even Grandma found a way to involve Wyndham in making brownies. She brought the bowl and eggs and batter and spoon to Wyndham, and as you can see from these pictures, Wyndham wasn't shy about dipping her finger in the bowl to get a quick taste before the brownies went into the pan either. She is most happy when we help her to 'forget' about her casts. We still have a long road of recovery ahead of us {I say "us" because we ALL have had to make changes as a result of this surgery}, but so far we're adjusting about as well as we all could have expected. Keep saying those prayers for us and we'll keep baking brownies and try to dance as much as we can for Wyndham's happiness sake!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

She picked orange.

Wyndham came home from the hospital yesterday. Just under 48 hours after surgery. We never expected her to do so well, but she was taking her pain medication without incident, so her doctor gave her the green light. I have to say that we were not prepared for such a good response from her. Typically she is extremely sensitive when it comes to nausea and medication, but I know there were so many of you praying for her that it shouldn't have been such a surprise that she came out of this surgery so well.
As you can see, Wyndham picked orange for her cast color. It's her favorite color. The surgeon said she was ready for Halloween and hunting opener. =) We are settling in as best we can- considering there is a 2-year old and a newborn in our house too. There is a lot of activity and not a whole lot of 'safe' places for Wyndham to spend her time. She has to be moved by Chip and can sit up in her wheelchair, or be in her bed or on the couch. I have a feeling that the next couple of months are going to feel long for all of us. Just trying to change diapers and figure out things like bathing and teeth brushing are presenting small challenges. Your prayers for our patience and stress to be kept to a minimum are appreciated.
I also have a feeling that once this ordeal is all over, we will be thrilled to have "normal" back. It will feel extraordinary!