Saturday, July 28, 2012

A bit of scrapping fun!

Tonight is the first "reveal night" that I have the privilege to be a part of over at Cocoa Daisy. If scrapping is as fun for you as it is for me...or if you want it to be, come on by and see what Cocoa Daisy has in store for the month of August. The pictures here are some of my sneak peeks and I was in love with everything I got to cut and glue and create out of this kit called Santa Fe Sunset.
There is even a thread on the message board where some of us have shared our favorite memories and/or places where we've experienced amazing sunrises and sunsets. We had a beautiful sunset a few nights ago just after a storm rolled through. The billowy clouds came out. The sky turned bright pink and then burst into a firey orange that had Crew almost jumping up and down. He was so excited he said, "Mom, look what painter did!" We saw a rainbow a minute later and I always so appreciate the reminder of the rainbow that God is ever-present. He is always at work in the world...and He will never let us go. Oh how I need that reminder so often!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

She's brought us more joy {and cupcakes too!}

My Bella. We call her Bella, but she was born, Isabella...10 years ago today. Oh how the years go by so quickly it seems! The days can feel long at times, but the years are swift and leave it to another birthday to remind me of that. So my sweet Bella is having a birthday today. She is out with Chip and all the kids for lunch- except for Teague, who is napping and which is why I am enjoying a quiet moment to blog. And to reflect.
I wrote an update on FaceBook today about how she was born early in the morning and under scary circumstances. For whatever reason, and we'll never know for sure, her heart rate stopped when I was at the hospital, in labor (at 8cm) and suddenly everything in the room went for normal, calm breathing to high alert/panic mode. I'll never forget the look on Chip's face. I'll never forget the stern, firm words from my doctor as they suddenly prepared to deliver her. The doctor told me, "Normally I wouldn't ask you to do this, but you have to just do what I're going to push and have this baby in the next contraction. There's no other way." That was the moment Chip panicked and as the room sort of swirled and buzzed around me I remember that I pushed with all my might and much to all of our surprise and I am sure a helping nudge from above, Bella was born.
She was tiny. Not my tiniest, but at 5lbs. 10. oz. and 18 inches long, she was small. And after a moment or two of oxygen and rubbing from the nurses, she was healthy and doing just fine. That all happened on July 25, 2002. Four days shy of the first annivesary of our incident in which Teagan was taken from us so suddenly. It was almost surreal to me at that time, and it still i now when I pause to think about it all, that in the time span of one year we lost one daughter, had a brush with death with another and yet held her in our arms amazed at the new life God had given to Chip and me again. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. Not as I had been with becoming a mom all over again with my other kids, but with the knowledge that all my kids were gifts from God no matter how long they would be in my arms here on earth. I was overwhelmed with the way God was showing Himself to be real in our lives- in spite of our tragedy and broken hearts. He knew before Chip and I did, that the very thing we needed in life was someone so small and perfect to be a stunning visual, baby soft reminder of God's mercy, tenderness, might and sovereignty in our lives.
Isabella was all of that, and so much more. I have loved her and wept over her with tears of joy and the belief in my heart once again that I could absolutely trust in God's ways and in His timing. She was a gift to our lives and hearts when we would have closed ourselves off to goodness in this world simply because we were hurt so deeply. But God reached down into the depths of our hurt and sent Bella to us at such a perfect time. We couldn't have planned it any more perfectly than it happened.
She is 10 years old today. In those ten years we have watched her grow and change and continue to become more of the person God made her to be. She is sensitive. And feisty too. She loves Pokemon and computers and she is amazing at art and writing and she is quick-witted too. She would stay up reading late into the night every night if I let her. She would still probably be the first or second one awake. =) She is Crew's best buddy these days, but also connects with Ava as one would expect sisters so close inage to do. If I told her she could never go outside again, she would probably clap her hands and shout, 'hooray!'. She sys, "I am more of an inside kind of girl." I love that she knows what she likes and what she doesn't. But she sometimes surprises me at what she will venture to try too.
One night a little while back as I was tucking her into bed for the night she had sort of a downcast look about her. I sat on the edge of her bed and asked, "Bella, is everything okay? You look kind of sad". Her response blew me away...and yet totally affirmed what I already know to be true about her. She said, "Mom, I feel sad you know why?" I asked, "No...why?" She replied, "I can't stop thinking about some kids in the world. There are kids in the world who don't have a mom or dad or someone else to love them. I feel sad when I think about kids who don't get a hug or kiss goodnight." And then she told me this, "When I grow up I want to travel around the world meeting kids who don't get love and giving them hugs and kisses."
If every heart were as sensitive and empathetic as hers, this world would be so full of extra hugs and kisses that I think we would overflow with love. I actually hope that she does grow up and find herself able to tend to people who need love and give some of hers away. She is good at showing her love and to know that her love could change the life of another person is an amazing thing to me. Her love already changed me. So I have no doubt that God is working in her and will do what He wants to do through her.
I was flipping through my scrap albums with Teague yesterday afternoon. He was surprisingly gentle and really interested in the pages in my books. I was surprised by that! One of the first pages we turned to was the one I posted here about Bella. She was 5 at the time. I love that I captured that conversation and moment in her life. I love that not much has changed. =)

Monday, July 23, 2012

My most sincere thanks.

Our family went out for pizza to celebrate my mom's birthday this past Friday. It was a wonderful spot {Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis} and fantastic food too! I love when that happens; when a night out exceeds my expectations. It was just dinner and spending time with my family (except that Bella and Ava are with Chip's parents up north for a week of Grandma Camp, so we missed them, but they are having their own fun!), but it was a really nice treat to just enjoy each other's company and a great meal at the same time. I just had to post a picture of our dessert too. The pizzas are outstanding and one-of-a-kind. This sundae topped it all off. It's homemade vanilla soft-serve drizzled with olive oil and cacao nibs too. I could have eaten a dozen of those sundaes. Luckily Crew kept pushing my spoon away and so he saved me a few calories and indulged himself for me. =)
There happens to be a photobooth in the restaurant. Chip dragged me in there with him. {ha!} You know that's only partly true. He knows how much I love photobooths and so he invited me to join him and I happily went in for a few snapshots. It was just one of those nights wherelife felt really good. We had a little bit of drama and fussing from Teague on our ride home...and Crew complained of being car sick, but for us that's nothing. =) I can' help but look at these photos again, in light of the anniversary of Teagan' death and our incident at the Old Depot, which is coming up this Sunday.
The days line up perfectly to the dates that fateful July 2001, so maybe that is why my awareness and memories seem heightened. Maybe it is in light of the clouds that have lifted and my realization of just "how good I have it" truly is in my life right now. I am not entirely sure. But nonetheless my thoughts turn back over a decade to that time in our lives in contrast to the backdrop of these photos and our place in the world right now.
And do you know what first comes to my mind when I look at Chip and me smiling from a pizzera photobooth? It's not, "oh ,what a cute couple" or "wow, they are doing so great". Which I happen to agree with. tee hee...I joke. The truth is when I look at these pictures I think to myself, "I never would have imagined we would smile like this again. We have a lot of people to thank for that!" Yes. My thoughts turn to the people who have loved us, supported us, walked with us, cried with us, helped us laugh again, listened to our stories through our tears and theirs, made us want to believe in happiness again, or let us into their own pain so that we might not feel all alone in ours. Many of those people are YOU! The fact that you are reading this- no matter if this is your first post or 1200th post, I owe you a big thank you.
One of the scariest parts of grieving and living out such a 'high-profile story' all those years ago is that we were suddenly a big story in our small town and as a result there was no way to "hide" our pain and grief. I wrote about it some in my previous post. Our hurt was so big and enormous that sometimes simply walking into a grocery store would cause someone we knew and met in the aisles as we shopped burst into tears too. Our hurt was other people's hurt too. And that was hard for me. Hard because no matter where we went or what we did someone would ask us how we were doing and our nightmare was front and center all the time.
But as time went on I realized therein lies the gift of our pain and tragedy too. We COULDN'T hide it. We couldn't avoid people saying they were caring and praying for us. We had strangers sending us cards for months afterwards. We had people all over the world wishing us strength and healing and comfort. As I look at our smiling faces in the photobooth picture this day, I recognize and honor the prayers and outpouring of people from far and wide. We NEEDED that kind of support. We absolutely know that the prayers of many sustained us when our trials seemed to much to bear alone. I doubt Chip and I would be together if it weren't for the love and care and prayers of friends, family and strangers {which includes some of you blog readers!} from the first moment on. Today I write to say, "Thank you". From the bottom of my heart I want to say thanks.
I know it isn't "easy" to come alongside someone whose hurt and pain and sorrow in life you have never 'tasted' or known. So it means even more to me to those who have opened your hearts to our hurt. To our 'story'. To reach out in whatever way you have is to show great compassion. I recall times in my life when I heard about or knew people who were experiencing life's tragedy and loss in a big way. Sometimes I even remember distancing myself from them because I simply couldn't think of what I could say to ease their pain. There was nothing. Oftentimes that's just the way it is. Life can throw such curveballs that even those closest to the hurt don't know what to say. Sometimes it is "easier" to just back away.
But then there are people, who have such sensitivity or are so compelled to just be or do or say something to the wounded, and those are the people- you are the people- that Chip and I have to thank for the smiles in our pictures a decade later. There were days I was so consumed with the rawness of my breaking heart that Chip would walk through the door and find me weeping, my shirt soaked through from hours of tears, and he would sit next to me or wrap me in his arms. Sometimes he would just hold me. Sometimes his eyes would well up and he would sob with me. Sometimes we would just look at one another and try to grasp how we would ever be happy in life again. It seemed impossible. It seemed as though our lifetime would be too short for us to journey to happiness again.
These pictures amaze me, to tell you the truth. To see that we are happy- and not just faking our smiles- but we are truly filled with joy in life at times- well, that is a wonder to me. It is nothing short of a miracle as I think back to those dark days and as we prepare to mark another annivesary and year lived beyond our grief. Behin our smiles we hold Teagan's memory close. She is and always will be a special part of our lives. But I can't deny that our sorrow and grief is now more than a distant memory. It is sometimes the backdrop and basis for the happiness we do experience. Our smiles mean more to me now than they did before. I know what it has taken for us to get to this point. Our tragedy hasn't smothered us and jaded us, but it has made us appreciate more. Especially the simple things; the ordinary moments; the small happinesses in life, like a sunny night out for pizza and ice cream.
In light of the Colorado movie theater shooting, I am brought back to that place how our lives turned upside-down in one instant. I know that we never have a guarantee in life. Our next breath, the next day we're given is a gift. Every single time. There are people who will hurt in this life in grand ways. There are those of you, those of us, who can come alongside of them and make them believe in brighter days. Today, my heart is full of gratitude to every one of you who has cared for us and prayed us through. For those who have raised a frothy Coke Float in memory of Teagan and in order to make a new memory of your own. For those who wished our hearts would ever heal again after such a loss, I thank you for wishing that kind of goodness and blessing on us. For those who still listen and enter in to our world and care to be friends with us no matter the cost to you I say, "thanks". You are a gift. You are reason for us to smile. You are the reason that I blog and share so much- because you care about us- good and bad and everything in between. Today I simply say to you, my most sincere thanks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm an official Daisy now!

So my "secret" is out this week. I was invited to be on the design team for Cocoa Daisy! Cocoa Daisy is a fun scrapbook kit club and website full of great people and inspiration too! I have been so, so happy to finally be scrapping and playing around with funky patterned paper and lots of ribbons and stamps and so many other cute doo-dads too. Whether or not you are a scrapper, you are invited and more than welcome to come over and visit the site. There is a message board and I plan to be there with my thoughts and random chit-chat often. =) Stop by and say hello and get in on the fun, if you like. You just might find you are more crafty than you think. Or you might just have fun seeing what all this obsession is about. It has definitely lit a 'fire' in me again and I am thrilled to feel that happy feeling inside.
It feels like "the clouds have started to lift" around me. And even though nothing has changed- meaning we still have two rents to pay, I still have endless diapers and laundry to attend to each day, I still want to unpack boxes and settle into a house that feels like a home- but despite all that I am feeling such a peace and happiness again. Sometimes I wonder if we go "through the clouds" and have dark times in our lives in order to appreciate and relish in the lifting of the clouds that much more. Sometimes I wonder if we do through the darkness and come out of it on the otherside- notso much for our own sake- but to testify to others in the "dark" that the light is coming. To be able to say "hang on" to someone who is hurting and questioning and wondering and feeling tell them that the day is coming when they will see light burst on the scene again, well, I can't help but wonder if that is in part why we go through the muck and mire. If so, I am even more adamant about declaring to the world that there IS hope and light and days worth hanging on for.
I am holding on to this and documenting it for me as much as for anyone else out there. Because I know that life ebbs and flows. One day I will need the reminder again, that the bright days exist. That happiness is worth chasing. That Light is always on the horizon and is always worth the trek through the dark. I am just so happy to be embracing the light and the good right now. A happy heart is something to be celebrated. And I am overjoyed to be in this place right now.
So, the big question is 'how did I get here'? Right. I know. I wonder that myself. I wonder if it was me or timing or just the world spinning to the right place or what it is exactly. This is what I do know. Life is a journey and as I said there are ups and downs. Sometimes we just have to ride it out. I believe that. Sometimes we have to stretch out our hand and let someone pull us or lad us along. I look to God, my husband, my family and some special friends in my life for that many times. I am thankful they are always there. This time, the joy seems to have burst on the scene because I finally allowed myself to open up and receive it. What does that mean?!
Well, I have been missing this creative outlet in my life for nearly two years now. Between Wyndham's double-foot surgery and a new baby at that time and 4 other kids to mother and care for, well, it just got side-lined in my life. And once I was so overwhelmed and unable to make time or space for this part of me, I started making excuses too. Now, let me tell you about excuses. We ALL make them. Sometimes they are even valid! But, and here's the thing...sometimes we allow our excuses to drag us down, hold us back, or steal our joy. Did you hear that? Yes, I believe we let our excuses steal us of the very thing we are trying to go after or seeking in life. No matter what it is. From scrapbooking and being crafty, to having or wanting a baby. Or finding a mate. Or finding financial freedom. Or getting in better shape- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I think we sometimes start believing our excuses and soon- even the valid points- these 'lies' start shaping what is happeing in us and to us.
Now, I don't want to sound all zen or preachy or whatever. But I do want to take responsibility for a lot of the unhappiness I have felt over the course of two years. What starts out as a little downward spiral and "cute pity party" can totally spin out of control. I desperately wanted to 'find happiness' and feel it again in my life. But at the same time I was looking at other people and comparing my life to theirs or wishing for time and space and energy to do things I wasn't doing. And in so doing my time and energy was going to my own demise! It's crazy how that works. And I'll tell you, it's hard to get off that train that is headed in the wrong direction.
For me, my "ticket" off that negative, hard train was the realization that I wanted off and that I had to just start taking steps to get off. Sounds easy, but when your mind is telling you that life is stacked against you....or each month that pregnancy test comes back negative...or your credit card debt keeps mounting...or those blind dates go awry every single week, well, it gets hard to even WANT to try again. I get that! It gets more and more challenging to see the light as the darkness closes in. That is where I found myself. Feeling overwhelmed and then starting to care even less. It's a dangerous place to be! And I truly believe that sometimes we have to hit our own rock bottom in order to find a starting point back "up". So I wanted off that train and out of the dark.
I finally had had enough. I was getting tired of seeing everyone else having all the crafty fun I was missing and craving. I was getting more and more sad at myself for not doing something about it. SO that was the first step. Recognizing that I was the only thing holding me back! I was the one stepping in the way of happiness. I was in the dark...but I could step away from it whenever I wanted to. What would that take?! Well, in this situation- which I realize is minor compared to lots of life "stuff". I don't want anyone to think I am comparing the lack of joy and happiness I was missin from being crafty to their personal struggle with infertility or anything of that magnitude. But happiness IS a big deal and when you miss it for almost 2 years that darkness just hovers and starts to smother and affect so many other parts of your life. So this wasn't just about scrapping anymore. But the way my kids were responding to me as a mom and person of influence in their life. It was affecting a lot of me and my world. I knew I had to find a way out. And as crazy as it sounds, I took a tiny step forward. I walked into a scrap store and purchased some new things to play around with. Not because I needed them. Because goodness knows I have boxes of product unpacked at my house right now! But that was overwhelming to me! So to spend $35 on new stuff and start to feel that thrill of happiness at the thought of making cards and other things, well, that was the step of action that I needed to start the spark in me again. I had prayed too.
I prayed a lot the past 2 years for God to show me happiness and joy in life again. I think He was waiting for me to do the searching and take the step. Once I had the "new stuff" and that spark started, I STILL had lots of excuses. "Crew and Teague will get into it all", I told myself. "They're going to wreck my new things." I tried scrapping a tiny bit here and there. Even with my reservations. And then I played the Dr. Phil game- the "what if game". The one where you lay your excuses out there and imagine what is the worst that could happen. So, what if Teague and Crew wrecked my stuff? Well, I could buy more, right? Or I could get over it and just let them play around with my paper scraps andhave fun too. I could use their interest and love of my new stuff for us to be together and have fun too!
When I started to see that evn my worst case scenario could turn into happiness I began to find a new freedom! And in the midst of my finding a tiny bit of happiness and fun in crafting again, someone took notice. Suddenly my happiness started to direct my steps! Christine at Cocoa Daisy saw a couple of things on my FB posts and she contacted me to be on the design team of her kit club. To say I was blown away and surprised is an understatement. Here I went from longing and wishing to be 'back in the game" to being asked to be on the front lines! It seems to good to be true.
But that is why I am sharing it here on my blog- the way it is. Because I think sometimes we all need to see someone else ride it out, get a break or see the clouds break open before we can believe in our own circumstance enough to want to have the light burst through our own clouds. If I can be the tiny spark for someone to believe in something that their heart is longing for...well then, it is abslutely worth all the darkness I have been in just so I can shine the light a bit brighter in the life of another. I am humbled that I am experiencing such happiness and joy in life right now. I do not take that lightly. I know I can thank God for helping guide and direct my steps and even open doors to such goodness in my life again. I am humbled, yet thrilled, to be able to pass a tiny bit of it on to all of you too.
If you are in a place where you need to believe there is a way out, or a future that holds beauty and happiness for you, let me encourage you today. Hold on. Keep fighting. Silence your excuses and expect God for a miracle in your life too. That is my hope and prayer for you!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Still unexpected.

This post. This is the reason I come running back to my blog, even when I have other 'important' life things going on around my home. This is the place that I come to to put it all out there. This is the way I take what spills out of my heart, mind and soul and put it into pictures and words as though that will somehow help to make sense out of the still senseless sometimes. People have often told me or written me emails saying, "I don't know how you do it". They are talking about this kind of post. The ones that come from the depths of grief and sorrow that still wash over me at times. People wonder how one can put words to feelings and emotions that have such powerful ties to memories that are fading more and more, yet can come out of nowhere and make my wounds from years ago feel raw and fresh and 'real' all over. I don't how to answer the question of how I do it, but I can tell you that after years of living with grief I feel like I am still learning 'how' to do it and it is ever-changing. Much like time. You can't explain it or see it, but it is very real and sometimes goes way too quickly, and at other times it seems to drag on forever. Yet the length of a moment never changes. It simply is.
What I can tell you is that for me to run to a pen and paper, or a keyboard and blog in this case, is part of the way I deal. It has become part of the way I heal. I have found that for me to hold my stories inside of me is too much to bear, but to put my stories and feelings out there and then let them be, it just feels "right". It feels right for me to know that maybe my burdens can be shared by another. It feels right knowing that my grief and stories might connect with another, and both our souls can be touched in a tiny way when our hearts connect in this way. Even if I don't know you. Even if I'll never meet you. Even if it is only the universe that takes in what I attempt to put into words I choose to do this. I simply write and share because I know I can't bear this kind of thing alone. Maybe that is the biggest lesson I have learned in all these years of carrying the weight of loss in my life and that is carry it alone is to walk in darkness and be consumed with sorrow. I knew I couldn't live that way. But to share your grief with another is to lighten your load or at least toy with the light because there is something so beautiful about bearing one's soul knowing that someone else is willing to let your burden touch their heart and that their ears are willing to listen to your cries as you seek to put them into words. This is why and where I choose to share.
What I can tell you about the journey of grief I have been on for almost 11 years now, is that the biggest wonder of it all is when it washes over me at unexpected and surprising times and places. I am most surprised that the moments when I am hit with the "reality" of the death of my little girl so often have nothing to do with the very things I loved most about her. It isn't seeing Barbie dolls lined up in packages on store shelves or hearing her favorite songs or pulling out photo albums and looking back at pictures of her smiling face. Those have strong emotions tied to them to be sure.
But it was yesterday and then last night. It is actually the month of July, I have come to learn after all these years, that simply makes the feelings I feel resurface or show up so unexpectedly. I sat in a chair holding Teague and as I rocked him and sang to him his goodnight songs last night I suddenly had tears well up inside of me and I heard my voice begin to tremble and the next thing I know there was so much pain and sorrow in my heart and throat that for a brief moment I couldn't even breathe. I went from singing softly, to tears flowing and my shoulders shaking from the sorrow I haven't recalled or felt in a long, long time.
To be sure, I think of Teagan all the time. Our family even recently celebrated Coke Float Day as we do every year and it was a wonderful, memorial day and one of happy new memories too. It is an unusual thing for me to even cry at all anymore. There ws a time I thought I would live my life crying everyday. There was a time I learned to weep silently because I didn't want to wake Chip or upset my little Wyndham or Brock too many days in a row. Those times I thought were gone. I have healed, I told myself. And I believe I have. We have. Our hurt is something that most people cannot "see". It is something we choose to share or not share at this point in life. It is something that is always there...but not always present.
And if that does or doesn't make sense I don't know. I am simply trying to express what it is that I have inside. I am simply writing today to get this out. It was such  profound moment last night in that chair that I am simply writing it out, lest I hold it in and let it take up a tiny piece of me.
Earlier in the day I had washed, dried and folded clothes. Like I do a hundred times a week. That is nothing new. But yesterday as I turned one of Crew's summer tee's right side out the size 4 on his tag jumped out of me. I held his little shirt out at my arm's length and made a mental note as I studied it. Next to Brock's shirt in the clothes pile it looked so small. Crew has other size four shirts that he is starting to wear and the latest clearance shirt I got at Target for him was a size 4/5. The label says, "extra small".
As I sat singing and rocking my Teague man last night, my mind suddenly couldn't contain what I had seen and tucked away earlier that day. In the midst of a pile of laundry, there it was. It was in my hands as I held up Crew's tiny shirt. She was that small. Teagan was that small the last time I held her. She was "extra small".
As the chair moved back and forth and with the weight of Teague in my arms all fresh, clean and snuggly and close to me, I could contain it no more. The wave of that hurt and the acceptance of my loss of Teagan all over again flooded my soul and turned into tears and weeping that I haven't experienced in a long time. I cried for a moment or two. And I thought that was it. I continued my singing and wiped my tears on my shoulder and Teague seemed unphased by it all as his eyes grew heavier and the rocking chair swayed. But as I looked down at him and prepared to tuck him into his crib for the night, another wave came over me. And I couldn't catch my breath for another short moment. This time because the memory of my last night at home with Teagan filled my mind. It was as clear as could be.
That night we had finished some Chinese take-out. Teagan even gave her fortune cookie to Brock and I made her one of her favorite desserts instead- tapioca pudding. She didn't eat hers all up, so I covered her little bowl up and put it in the fridge for later. There would be no "later". That night I tidied up the house and got Brock down for the night first. Wyndham was tiny and still nursing at bedtime. When she went down for the night I got myself ready for bed. Chip and Teagan were always the night owls at our place and that night Chip told me to "go relax for the rest of the night" while he would look after Teagan and tuck her in. I grabbed a parenting magazine to flip through and climbed into bed. The final article in the magazine was called "Losing Isabella" and it was the story of one mom's loss of her little 18-month old daughter to an unexpected illness. I ached for this mother and remember looking over into Wyndham's crib thinking she looked especially precious to me that night. I couldn't imagine what the pain of standing next to the bedside of your daughter must feel like as she lay there hooked up to life support. I couldn't imagine how anyone could deal with the pain of knowing their child had no hope and would soon take her last breath.
I had no idea that within the window of the next 24 hours I would know firsthand what this mother I was reading about was feeling. I couldn't have imagined that by taking Chip up on his offer to tuck Teagan in that night, that I would never have another chance to do that myelf. I had no way of knowing that as we drifted off to sleep that night we would never sleep cozy in our home together again.
Last night, between the tiny t-shirts in my laundry and the place I let my heart and mind drift to as I rocked Teague to sleep was a combination so potent that it overwhelmed my body and soul. I will never understand how our lives could go from so ordinary and 'comfy' and sure to pain and heartache and questions so big that they linger and show up unexpectedly years and years later. I may never grasp the answer to the question of grief for as long as I live.
But I can tell you it is real. I can tell you I still feel Teagan's spirit with me each day. I can tell you my singing to Teague even through tears last night somehow felt "right". I sat there singing and wishing that I had been the one to tuck Teagan in and lay by her and sing her to sleep that final night at home in her bed. I sat there rocking Teague and wondered what the future held for him. I wondered what is in store for all of us. It hurts in that place- that place of wishing and wondering. But it also makes me look at this day- each day- with different "eyes". Eyes that know this day matters. Eyes that know this day is a gift. Eyes that know as big and independent as my kids seem at times the reality is they are still kids and I need to embrace them as they are that day. Eyes that know I am not alone in my grief. Eyes that know others have hurt even more than me. Eyes that treasure this world yet know and long for and believe in a place called Heaven; where my questions will have answers and I will have no regrets. Eyes that know sharing this stuff that I live through and think and see and feel- might just help give you who read this new "eyes" too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summertime in the kitchen.

With seven mouths to feed and sometimes one more, when Chip is home from work, I find myself in or around the kitchen most of my waking hours. At least it seems like that in the summer. I am lucky that most of my kids wake up and are pretty mellow about easing into the day as far as breakfast is concerned. They love a hearty breakfast and Brock especially enjoys his morning coffee. But nobody really wakes up demanding food. Some of them even go to the pantry and pick a box of cereal or make themselves a piece of toast without any help from me. So that is a nice perk to having night owl kids. =)
I still have a hard time making meals that all the kids like, and I still feel like our repetoire of foods get boring very quickly. I would love for my kids to like more varieties of foods, but it just turns out to be more trouble than it's worth when I make new recipes these days. We eat as many fruits and lots of fresh vegetables this time of year. We cannot keep enough fresh berries or watermelon or corn on the cob around here. I think my kids could live on blueberries, raspberries and peaches if I let them for three months.
I thought I would share a couple of pictures and recipes of two of the things we had to eat this week. Both these recipes are easy, semi-healthy as far as muffins and pie go, and they were gobbled up by every one of my kids.
The first is recipe is for Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins. I modified the recipe when I doubled it and used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. I added fresh blueberries and fresh peaches diced up too. They were very good, especially piping hot out of the oven. I am going to make them with raspberries and peaches next time, just because I love that combination too.
The second recipe is one that has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. I never liked chocolate as a kid; I have since grown to appreciate and even love rich, bittersweet, delicate chocolate in many forms. But my first love is still toward the vanilla, custard-type and anything coconut desserts. This pie is so easy to make that it has earned the name Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie. Or Impossible Pie for short. The ingredients are placed in a blender and it makes its own crust. It is virtually fail-proof. Which is a wonderful thing for beginning pie makers. I know there are a couple of variations to this pie- one even calls for Bisquick, but I have always stuck to this recipe my mom made. There is something to be said about tried and true.
The recipe is as follows:
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar (I use less becase I usually have sweetened coconut)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup coconut
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup of melted butter or margarine
Directions: Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until combined. Pour into a lightly greased 9" pie plate and place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Bake for about one hour.
I always keep an eye on it those last 10 minutes or so just to make sure it doesn't get too golden brown on top. We ate ours with fresh whipped cream and peaches and we polished off the last piece between 4 of us for breakfast the next morning. I figured it had enough eggs and fruit in it to count as a jumpstart to breakfast. My kids didn't argue with me about that.
If you have any favorite summer recipes you make over and over, I would love you to tell me so in the comments. Especially if you think kids would love them. I am at that point in the summer where I am ready to try anything new in the kitchen. I hope my kids might be ready for something new too!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hey,'s me again!

I have been so busy with summertime. And recently with scrapping again too! Needless to say, I have been way too "quiet" around here and I know I keep promising to post more often. I am going to keep that promise soon. I am not just typing that this time either. So for all of you who keep checking in here for something- anything- I am not always sure what you are hoping to see or read, but more is coming. =) Feel free to write me a note about what you DO like to see when you drop by here. And I will be mindful of that as get back to more regular blogging. In the meanwhile, it's not like I am quiet all the time. I am on Face Book way too often and sometimes do "live chats" on my wall if you want to find me there. Come on over and friend me and get your dose of Nitty.Gritty. facebook style. =)
I hope you are having a full and wonderful summer. Ours has been hot- just like most of yours has been too. Stay cool and I'll be checking back soon and looking forward to your suggestions in my comments. Say hi!