Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I love to scrap...

When I am "in the zone", everything I see and experience becomes an idea, inspiration or trigger that makes me want to scrap and create something. I am so happy to say that that feeling and desire has returned to me in full force the past couple of months. I know it may sound crazy to some, but I will admit that I actually included scrapping in my prayer life. I have written about my struggle with depression and just feeling like life was getting the best of me from about the time Wyndham had her major surgery and I had a newborn plus  other kiddos to care for at the same time. I had already "let scrapping go" in a way because the site and friends I had been so active and close with at SIStv shut down and most of us went our seperate ways since we are actually miles and miles apart in the physical world.
So as things became progressively overwhelming in life and I became progressively bitter about parts of my life, the thing I felt least like doing at that time was documenting the details of my life. The details were not "pretty". They weren't fun. Or exciting. Or even different. There were stretches in that time of my life where I went days without even leaving the house. One stretch was a full 17 days! It wasn't for lack of my wanting to leave; but the fact was I couldn't leave. Chip and I were {and still are} Wyndham's full-time caregivers. When she was in double casts, we were the ones to change every diaper {and we still do}, administer pain meds round the clock, bathe her as best we could, and get anything and everything she needed, since she was immobile. It was and sometimes still is exhausting, just to meet her daily needs. Throw in 4 other rambunctious, growing, healthy kids and one newborn nursing baby into that equation, and it's no wonder I couldn't step foot out my front door to even get the mail at that time. Chip would grab groceries on his way home from work every couple of days, and other than dropping off and picking up the kids from school, we were stuck at home.
It was hard. It felt unfair. It was smothering. It was tiring.  I can't tell you the number of loads of laundry I did. I can't tell you the number of times I wished I had a different set of life circumstances at that point in time. I can't tell you how many months Chip and I didn't even get to sleep in the same room- much less go out and have some one-to-one couple time without worrying about meeting someone's needs.
It was a time when our world seemed very small. And yet our "problems" felt very big and real.
Flash forward through nearly 2 years and we have come a long, long way.
My attitude has started to come back to the one I remember and love best. The kind of attitude that says, "Yes, rough stuff happens, but we have it oh so GOOD!". The clouds have lifted in my heart one tiny bit at a time as I have watched Wyndham gain at least some strength back and finally gotten to the point where she can move around on her feet instead of a chair. She is not "the old Wyndham" that we had before in that she basically sits/stays in one place all day unless we help, ask or demand her to move. She used to walk around the house and play what sh wanted to play and interact with her siblings and do stuff like open the fridge and point to what she wanted to drink. She has an iPad that she loves now. She doesn't use a wheelchair at home, and she is close to herself at least when it comes to her sense of humor being back. So we are thrilled with that type of progress. But I wonder at this point if she will ever be like she used to be. I never want to hold her back, so I support her and push her and we continue to have her in therapies each week.
Teague has gone from newborn to a big 2 year old now. He wants nothing more than to do everything the "big kids" do around here. So that means he has mastered the iPad. And Angry Birds on our cell phones too. He plays hard, eats well, laughs lots, looks for trouble, gets in trouble, still takes daily naps, and basically continues to capture our hearts all while we try to find ways to wrangle him and keep him from too much trouble.
We have moved. We are not settled. But as I wrote earlier in a post about excuses in life, I knew that just because I didn't have spot set up or my scrap supplies unpacked didn't mean I had to give up the creative side of me that was craving the opportunity to make stuff. Between all the demands of life and the stress of not being settled in a home is about the time when I decided to take my 'cravings' to God. Why I didn't just come to Him with one of the great needs of my heart in the first place, I don't know. Maybe it's because I think in comparison to some problems in my own life and certainly in our big world around all of us, it just didn't seem to deserve a spot in my prayers. Maybe it's because I just felt like I should be able to meet my needs in that area of my life all on my own. Maybe it's because in all the Bible stories I have ever read since I was a little girl I don't ever recall anyone asking God to give them opportunities to scrap and create stuff.
But for me scrapping isn't just about cutting and gluing and playing around with cute stickers and ribbons and stuff. It has been so much more than that to me. The most important part of it has been the friendships I have established with other scrappers/creative people. These people have become a part of my life and connecting with people who have the same passion for the same kind of stuff is a truly wonderful thing to me. It has gone beyond sharing pictures and projects- to sharing hopes, fears and even wild dreams too. It's true I was missing the "stuff". But more than that I was missing the people who love to share that stuff and love to see me share too. It has been more than just putting memories and photos down on pages and in mini books. Scrapping in my life has opened doors and given me expereinces with people I would otherwise never have crossed paths with in my daily life. It has stretched me creatively and grown a part of my heart that I would have otherwise never have known existed.
It has become a way for me to share what's in my heart in a tangible way. It has become a wonderful outlet for me to express some of the funny or serious, or simple and quirky, or heartfelt and fleeting things that touch my heart and mind. I used to think that scrapping meant you took your kids' school photos and glued them to a page with stickers and the name of their teacher that year. But it is so much more than that. One of the things I love most about creating pages and other things is that there are no set rules. There are no 'right or wrong' ways of doing things. You don't have to put your pictures on a straight line. You don't have to match your alphabet letters to your paper. Anything goes. You don't even need pictures. You can just make what you want, how you want to, and out of whatever you want to use. And in the process of doing that stuff I have made some great friends and filled a few albums with pages of stories and pictures that I hope will give the people I love glimpses of what was on my heart and mind at that time.
Being a part of the Cocoa Daisy community has been an answer to my prayer. I was asking God to give me ways to connect with others {being a stuck-at-home mom is hard work!} and ways to tap into the creative side of life that I had been missing and craving. Without even knocking on it or looking for it, the door to Cocoa Daisy swung open. I felt from the first moment that it was God's way of answering my prayer. I am so thankful that He is a God who cares about the smallest details of our lives. I know I have bigger,pressing needs (like selling a house, for one) in life, but I love that God sees our hearts when we open them to Him and He even meets our needs in ways that surprise us.
The pages I share with you today are a couple that I created using the September kit called, He Said, She Said. It goes on sale to anyone that wants one on September 1st. That page about Teague in his sock monkey jammies just makes me happy. I cut strips and strips of paper and stapled them down and then added a bunch of little details that I thought were so fun. He has outgrown those little pajamas, but I couldn't help but want to hold on to my memory of him in them anyway. I called him, "Mr. Monkey Pants" in the morning when I would get him out of his crib. So the journaling reads, "You may grow up and hold a distinguished title someday, but I'll always be grateful that you started out as Mr.Monkey Pants to me."
The second page is a snapshot of some of us eating ice cream cones on the front step. We haven't taken big trips or done major summer outings as a family, but just seeing the smiles on our faces made me realize we have such an amazing life regardless of the stuff we might not have. Just recognizing that the ordinary days of summer- where we are all healthy and together and laughing and eating ice cream- is a gift and I am grateful for every ordinary day we have.
My heart is full right now. I love that scrapping fills it up a bit too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The usual around and scrapping.

I was keeping up with Nitty.Gritty. with all those wedding memories, and then suddenly nothing again for 10 days. I can tell you that real life mimics my blog much of the time. Summer is a time where things are very laid-back and as you can see, inconsistent in our home too. =) I am working on striking some balance somewhere, but trying to get 6 kids on board with my idea is proving to be the most challenging aspect to that.
Chip and I had a quick bowl of soup at the hoagie joint downtown Northfield on our anniversary. We marked 17 years by trying to come to a decision about whether or not to rent a home here in town long-term, while we continue to wait for our house in Michigan to sell. The house we're renting right now suits our needs- but has been very frustrating to us as the realtors have had several showings and that means we {I} have to clean the house top to bottom and we have to get 8 of us out of the home for a couple of hours. No easy- or fun- feat! We should have just enjoyed our soup, but instead we made pros/cons lists and tried to solve world peace together as we reflected back on 17 years of life together. Let's just say we didn't solve world peace. But we did eventually decide to just stay put in our current rental for now. We are still praying, waiting on God's timing and hoping that our house will finally get an offer on it so that we can begin to settle our family in more permanently here in Minnesota. Can you believe that we've been here 8 months already?! It goes quickly and yet we would love to be 'real homeowners' again. So we wait for all that big stuff to fall into place. Easier said than done!
Besides our anniversary, Teague turned 2 on the 19th! Chip was busy with a tournament at the club all weekend, so we had sort of a mellow day for Teague. But 2-year olds don't need a whole lot and they can get excited anyway! Part of his day involved getting a new red tricycle. He has loved it from the first sighting of it! He also got to blow out his candles that were poked into a frosted doughnut. He loves doughnuts and even got to come to the store to pick the variety along with me. He was cheering when we got to the case of pastries. I am pretty sure that means he has a sweet tooth. =) Later in the day we also had a "Banana Bar" where we had sliced bananas that everyone dipped in melted chocolate and then there were a bunch of cupcake liners with miscellaneous toppings to dip the chocolate slices into and then eat. It was a bit of a mess, but a whole lot of fun. And I think that is exactly what turning 2 should be about.
We love our little strong-willed, loud, funny, energetic, cuddly, and doughnut-loving little guy. He has brought a whole new dimension to our lives the past two years and we are thankful that he has been a part of our lives and heart since we first learned we would be having another baby Ferlaak. I am sure we will have many more stories, fun, laughter and sweets with Teague in the coming years too. I hope he always keeps his sense of humor and his love of music too!
Finally, I am just getting into my latest box of scrap fun from Cocoa Daisy! The September kit is called "He Said. She Said." and it is such a great mix of colors and I have a bunch of ideas for those tiny wooden cutouts that I decorated.  I am still absolutely loving my spot on the design team there. Each day on the message boards I have been getting to host a thread called, "QOTD" which stands for Question of the Day. You are more than welcome to register on the Cocoa Daisy site and when you do that you are welcome to read the message boards, participate in any thread you like, play along with the challenges and we would love for you to start a gallery and share your own creations with us there too! You do not have to be a subscriber of the kits or stamps to do so. We love having people around and sharing ideas...and who knows?! Maybe you will want to get an occasional kit or a subscription of monthly scrap goodies. I can tell you from my own experience that it is a great deal...the kits are SO stylish and full of a great mix of papers and extras to craft. You will not be sorry. But like I said, you are free to just join in the fun and check us all out for a bit too! I would love to get to know you better through the message boards. It's just a fun, lively place to "hang out" and connect with other people online. I promise that we are a lot of fun too. =)
That is a recap of the life and times of the Ferlaak family the past couple of weeks. We are hoping to get a bit of warm weather in the next 12 days so that summer will feel like it was summer before it is over so soon. We have loved our lack of schedule and the way we have gotten to sleep in, stay in jammies, make messes, and not worry about homework, alarms, or making lunches by 7:30am. I sometimes wish it could stay summer year round! Ok. I would like one week of fall, one week of winter and maybe even a couple of weeks of spring. But I do love summer the most!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Our happily ever after...

I drove past a marquee today that had the names of a couple and their wedding date {August 4,2012} under the heading "Happily Ever After". When I look at these pictures taken just seconds after we were pronounced husband and wife, I love that I see smiles and sunshine and applause from the people around us who were in our lives and supporting our love for each other on that day. I love that even as I remember trying to keep my heels from sinking too deeply into the soft ground as I walked, that what was most on my mind was the fact that I was now "a new person".
I had just become "Mrs. John Ferlaak". Chip's real name is John. Nobody calls him that since he was given the nickname 'Chip' when he was about a year old. Nobody has ever called me Mrs. John Ferlaak that I can recall. But on that day I changed from Jody Hackett to Jody S. Ferlaak and I knew something big had occurred. I knew it was a big change. I knew that my name changing hadn't changed who I was exactly, but rather it was going to shape the who I would become for the rest of my life.
I am humbled to look at the beauty and joy and happiness that I can see when I look at all the photos from our wedding day. People search the world high and low to find what Chip and I have simply had from even before our wedding day. I knew without a doubt as I walked down the aisle that day that Chip would be with me by my side until one of us should perish. I knew from this day forward he would be by my side through the ups and downs- laughters and tears.
I am so grateful that he has not only walked hand in hand with me, but that he has been a rock when I'v needed him to stand strong for both of us. He has also been my soft place and a warm embrace over and over again when life has demanded that we simply weep together because there are no words. I am eternally humbled and even overwhelmed at times that we found this in one another. Those beautiful moments of happiness and joy as we walked hand in hand to our own version of "Happily Ever After" are even more special to me now as I look back and see where life's path has had us trod. My heels have often threatened to sink down deep- figurativeyly speaking- many, many times. I am just so lucky to know that I have someone willing to walk beside me and hold my hand...and because of him I am still to this day "Mrs. John Ferlaak". That name has changed me in many ways- it's true. For the better. And better. And I imagine, that if we are granted many more days and years together, there is better yet to come too! We are a very, very lucky couple!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I owe them a big "thanks"!

Chip's mom, Karen, commented to me on FB that her memories of our wedding day vary just a bit from the ones I have written about here the past couple of days. I knew that all along, but when she made mention of it and as I thought about it I realized I probably never thanked Chip's parents enough for all they did do for us that day. I maybe thought our smiles and joy through that day spoke for themselves. I hope I said thank you back then. But after 17 years, my memory is a bit fuzzy when it comes to the kind of thank you I may or may not have said.
So today I am remembering back to our beautiful wedding day and I am making sure that my thank you is loud and clear. =) THANK YOU, John and Karen for everything you did to help make our wedding day one to remember so fondly. You see, most of the time the parents of the bride are all a flurry before and on the wedding day. There's no doubt my parents were busy with extra demands at that time because of our wedding. But in our case, Chip's parents bore most of the 'burden' of the actual event.
Chip and I had been attending church together when we dated and during our year engagement. But it wasn't the kind of place we would have held our ceremony in- as the church was meeting in a high school auditorium at that time. We spent several hours looking at different churches and parks for a location to have our wedding, but nothing was working out for us and in frustration and because we were running out of options we decided to pose the question of using Chip's parents' backyard as our location site. It seemed very plausible to Chip and me, but I do remember feeling like I was holding my breath while we presented our idea to them and waited for their objections. I am sure there head to be some objections. But I guess we were either very convincing, very pathetic, very naive, or maybe a combination of all of them and the next thing I knew Chip and I were excited to know that we now had a place for us to be married.
We didn't think much about the weather {see previous post}. =) I don't recall being concerned about bathroom space, or how much time and energy would need to go into preparing the gardens and yard. I do remember wondering and discussing a bit how the parking arrangements would work for all our guests, but I also recall not caring too mch because I knew I would have a 'front spot'. How selfish of me...yet how absolutely true about me at that time too. I just wanted everything to work out. So the less I worried or made something "my problem" the easier it was to deal with! How nice if I could still live that way, right?! =)
In addition to hosting what ended up being about 175 guests, Karen also made my wedding dress. She made my veil too. She made all of the bridesmaids dresses as well. She tended the garden. She had two teenagers at home at that time. One had a broken leg. Seventeen years later and with an abundance of life experiences under my own belt now, I have a much greater appreciation for all she did for me to pull off our wedding. She must not have slept for the whole month of July and those first 11 days of August that summer. I have no idea how she did it. But I do know I owe her a big thanks. Even all these years later.
I couldn't help but think that after all the planning and sewing and cleaning and rearranging and gardening and everything else that she and John did, that when they finally took their seats in the heat of the sun under the tent with the rose arbor and blooming garden and pool as the backdrop to Chip and I saying their vows, they probably just wanted to breathe for a moment and take it all in. I imagined my own self sitting down in a chair seeing the happiness on my son's face as he is about to make the biggest commitment in his life. I thought about how Chip's mom must have felt. All the times she had sat out in that back yard and watched Chip play with his siblings and neighbors. All the hours she spent waiting for him to come home from the hospital as he had been an extrememly sick, premature baby when he was born. All the memories of him growing and changing and becoming the man who stood before her in her garden. She had put years of hard work into that day. And I apologize now for hardly giving it a second thought.
If ever I owed someone a thanks, it is more than fitting for me to say it here to Chip's mom, Karen, and to his dad, John, as I reflect back on August 12th, 1995. Without them it never would have happened the way it did. Without them my memories of my wedding day would have looked very different. So it is with this understanding and with my most sincere gratitude that I say thank you. Thank you for your part in making our wedding day the most beautiful, special day that it was. Thank you for your hard work, your years of helping to shape Chip into the man of character that he is. Thank you for supporting us as a couple and loving us enough to make even our most outlandish ideas come true. We are so glad for the part you played in our lives and in our wedding day. I am sure Chip would love to join me in saying, "thanks" to you today and for everything you've done for us throughout all our married lives too. We love and appreciate you! 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

That morning.

I can't tell you what I had for breakfast that morning. I wasn't really a coffee drinker at that time in my life, which is funny to me now considering how much I love my morning cup of coffee. I would definitely include a latte on my wedding morning to-do list if I were getting married now. I would have an extra dollop of whipped cream on it for good measure too. =)
I can tell you that I remember everyone else around me being a bit panicked about the weather. Our ceremony was scheduled in the afternoon and it was set up outside in Chip's parents' backyard/garden. I wasn't thrilled with the showers that were literally darkening the sky and pouring down rain on our mornng, but I can remember not feeling "worried" about it either. I just had this feeling that whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I didn't want my lack of control over the crazy weather happening outside to spoil my mood. Which, was one of total happiness inside- even though I have a very pensive look on my face for this photo. I was truly feeling a mix of calm and wonderful excitement all rolled into one.
Someone passed along the news to me that Chip's car battery was dead. And the rain showers were not expected to let up for at least a few hours. I remember thinking I probably wasn't going to eat lunch. Which I didn't. I was thinking that I would make up for it by eating a bigger piece of cake later on. =)
Looking back on it now I realize that I was doing then what I have so often had to do on occasion the past 17 years and that is- be flexible; be adaptable; be prepared to see beyond the immediate and be content that somehow it will all be beautiful in the end.
And you know what? It was!
As I finished putting the final touches on my hair and lipstick and stepped into my heels the clouds were literally beginning to part and the sun was starting to appear. When we first started our photos outside, there was still wet cement around the pool/patio area and friends and family were wiping down chairs from the rain and setting up a couple of large canopy tents. Which turned out to be needed even though the rain stopped. Because as the rain moved through, the humidty and sun kicked into high and it was a hot, sticky August afternoon for formalwear. The tents were a bit of shade from all the sun that showered down on our ceremony afterall.
I remember thanking God for both the sun and rain that day, for it gave me the opportunity to see that He cared to work out the little details of that day that just happened to be "big details" to Chip and me and the rest of us at our wedding that August 12th. I was so thankful that our plans all fell smoothly into place even though things didn't go as we had planned them. Oh, what a foreshadowing of what the rest of our lives would be like! I am glad that Chip and I stood hand in hand and invited God to be the center of our lives together from that day forward. I had no idea how much we would be unable to handle on our own, and how much we would indeed need God to carry us through. I am so glad that even as we declared our love in such a beautiful setting under a bright, sunny sky, God held our whole future in His hands.
I remember that the most important thing on my heart and mind as I finished getting ready and waited to wal down the aisle on the verge of the biggest event in my life, I was thankful that God had chosen Chip for me before I ever knew who he was. I was thankful that we loved Him and one another and I believed with all my heart that life was going to be amazing and beautiful. All of it.
What I have learned all these years later is that I was right. Having Chip by my side through the good and the bad has been a beautiful thing. I can only imagine there is a bit more beauty if we are blessed with more days and years together too. And I thank God already for bringing us together to walk our chosen path in life- the rainy days and the sunshiny days. All of them are a part of our story. If I could rewrite any part of our wedding morning, it wouldn't be to take the rain away. I would change the part of not having coffee. With an extra dollop of cream on top! =)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Looking back on our wedding day...

Chip and I are coming up on our 17th wedding annivesary. It doesn't seem like we are old enough for that to be happening! =) But that must be a good thing, right? That the years seem to go by so quickly and we don't feel we age as fast as they go by.
I thought I would challenge myself to blog a photo and a memory or two of that time in our life all week as August 12th approaches. What I must say first of all as I think back to that amazing time in our lives is that I never once had any doubt that we were meant to be together. I never once questioned the step we were taking by getting married and choosing to spend our lives together from that point on. I never once had even a tiny thought that maybe we were too young, or this was happening too soon or that we needed to spend more time getting to know each other or thinking more thoughtfully about this huge commitment we were about to make together.
I was all in.
I was 100% sold that we were going to be a team forever.
I was so certain that I wanted Chip to be on my team. =)
*     *     *     *     *
I am so glad that we said our vows to one another and that all these years later we can still say we are thankful to have made them to each other. I love seeing this photo and thinking back to how absolutely happy we were to know that we had each other for the rest of our lives. I am so happy that in spite of many challenges and bumps in our road that we still find ourselves lost in an occasional kiss like the one in the picture here. That is amazing and lovely and a gift that I don't take for granted in our lives now- nearly 17 years later.
I will tell you that those flowers were very heavy as I held such a large bouquet! Ha! I do remember that! I would definitely go with a smaller bunch of flowers if we were doing our wedding over. I would probably not mke Chip wear such a formal tux for an outdoor garden wedding again, but that just goes to show that we have changed and grown and gives me even more reason to be thankful that we are still a team.
I hope you don't mind my memories, photos and even a bit of sappiness as I recount our wedding day all this week. I just feel like marriage is something that is so worthy of time and discussion and I feel so blessed that Chip and I are still together that to me it just makes sense to write it down and share a tiny bit of this blessing with the rest of the Nitty.Gritty. world.
Tomorrow...another story and photo. And if I am lucky, I might even get a guest post from Chip this week too!