Friday, September 21, 2012

40 days.

Crew had a happy birthday two days ago and is thrilled to be 4 now! His birthday started out right when we awoke- which happened to be 'late start' day at our house. Late start days are my favorite midweek mornings because our schools start an hour later on Wednesdays. I was happy that Crew got an extra hour with Brock and Bella and Ava to open presents and just be more relaxed as we kicked off his fun day. I wish we had late starts everyday! But I don't want to get greedy, so we are thankful for one day a week to not rush around as much as the others.
Crew asked for a simple cake with "blue frosting" and he loved that he got extra candles to blow out too. One can never have too many candles. Until about age 20, I believe. =) Happiness is a pretty easy thing to buy a four year old. He has lots of growing up to do yet, but I am confident he is going to grow into just the man he was meant to be. It's kind of wild having a front row seat to the process, but one that will have lots of stories to share with him through the years too!
Our other big not-so-great-thing-to-celebrate is that the house that we are living in and renting as we wait for our home back in Michigan to sell has just sold. We have 40 days or less to be packed up and moved out. It seems like we just did that and as I recall, I wasn't all that thrilled about it either! So, this time around we will be moving somewhere local. We jus don't have a clue as to where yet. And it gets a bit more complicated as we would like to stay in the same part of town so the girls don't have to switch schools- or so that we don't have to drop them off and pick them up everyday. We would also like to find a house that meets some of our big needs- especially when it comes to Wyndham. That means ideally we would love a full bathroom and if we get really lucky, a bedroom for her on the main floor too. But so far a home to rent for our size family that meets those needs hasn't presented itself to us. Yet. So feel free to join us in praying for those things to end up on our next home's checklist. Feel free to pray that our house in Michigan would get a buyer too. It's been on the market for 10 months now and we have yet to get an offer that comes close to our asking price.
I am trying not to stress out and worry about it. I know that we are 40 days or less away from being in our next place. It would be a miracle if we could call that next place "home" for more than a 12-month lease agreement. I have my doubts. But at the same time I am trying to believe in a miracle too!
In the meantime, I am scrapping. In part for fun. In part to take my mind off of things out of my control. And in part because I just love when my kit arrives each month and I have fresh ideas ready to scrap with great products! The sneak peeks you see here are from Cocoa Daisy's upcoming October kit called "Aspen Grove." The kit and add-ons will be available soon...and they have been selling out more and more quicly each month. So get ready to grab one this time around!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One, two, we go!

So here we are. On the last day of Crew being 3! It has gone way too quickly, as time just has a way of moving. Yet it has felt like Crew has been a part of my life forever too. I can't imagine life without him in it! I clicked back to September 2008 and voila! There he was in his debut post. He was a charmer from the very beginning and received 100 well-wishes from many of you too. I think that is one of my favorite ways to describe my little guy- he's a charmer. He has a way of lighting up a room. With just his eyes at times. Or his larger than life grin. And most often his favorite way to make an entrance is to be heard even before h has been seen! He's a loud one!
But we have grown to love every single aspect of him. Even the ones that push our buttons and make us have to literally hold him down for a few minutes to get his little mind and body to drift off to sleep. Even at almost age 4.
He came into this big world of ours in a rather mellow way. He was my easiest, fastest delivery and his birth was an even planned affair as I was induced just 3 hours before he made his appearance. We were so ready to welcome him into our lives and home and family. Even when skeptics criticized the way our family was contributing to the economic crisis in America, we knew without a doubt that he was going to be loved and cherished and make this world a better place by being in it. I still remember those first hours, days and weeks when he was placed in my arms and as we got to know him and feel the weight and warmth of him in our arms. We were all on cloud 9 for a long time. Well, for about 6 months, truthfully. And then he realized he wanted to go and do and get into everything else that he saw his siblings going and doing and getting into. =)
But he was a wonder and a true gift and here we are. One, two, three and on the eve of turning foure years old, I can tell you that he still is a wonder and a gift. He has filled our lives with love, joy, laughter, tears, pain, fun, and so many other things in between. I recall holding his tiny body and just staring at how perfect he was and wondering what I had ever done right in my life to deserve something- someONE- so wonderful as him. I still don't have an answer to that question of mine. But I am thankful an infinite number of times over that he was born into our family and we feel lucky over and over to have Crew Tillman in our hearts and lives as a result. Forever.
Happy birthday, my dear Crew. You are one loved, loud, lovable and lucky little guy. We can't wait to see you blow out 4 candles and eat cake and grow a little bit more into who you were made to be! xoxo

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sometimes I think my biggest issue in life...

We are living in a beautiful rental home right now, awaiting the sale of our home in Michigan. We've been in this house just a few days shy of nine months now. Most of the people in our small town have been very warm and welcoming. But we have a young couple living next door to us. Our front step is probably 10 yards from their driveway. We have them come and go a hundred times or more. We have large, full-sized windows that wrap arund the side of our home that faces theirs. We spend a lot of time in this living room. It's hard to not notice when they come and go.
And yet, not once, in 9 months, have they said hello. Only 3 times have they responded to our waves. And when I say "our waves", I am talking about when the kids or I are sitting on the front step blowing bubbles or eating string cheese or any other snack outside. They look over, but quickly turn away. We have never imposed on their property. We have never been obnoxious- at least from my perspective. =)
I have tried to teach my kids to treat others with kindness and respect. I know from experience that you also cannot possibly know what another person is feeling or thinking. But I still believe in a good old-fashioned neighborly hello and a response to a friendly wave.
I tried on another occasion to bring a loaf of banana bread to this young couple. I know a few things about them. He is an electrician; he drives the company van. They are very particular. They keep their {white} cars washed and spotless. They edge their lawn a few times in the summer. The man rides an orange motorcycle most often on weekends. The woman rides a bicycle with a wicker basket in front. She often wears a colorful scarf. And/or sunglasses.
The thing is, they seem so 'normal' and so I just assume in our small community and in the family-type neighborhood in which we live that they would respond to friendly gestures. It feels "odd" to me that we have lived and seen them and know lots of little things about them- bu have never exchanged names or hellos. Or bread. =)
Yesterday I wrapped up a little loaf of pumpkin bread and attached a small tag to it and set it on my counter to bring to them when they got home. It just so happened that they didn't return until after dark. So my attempt at being a nice neighbor fell to the wayside.
Chip has told me to just "drop it". Get over the fact that they don't want any type of relationship with their neighbors and let them be. I feel bad that we live in a society where people no longer feel the need to be 'social'. Given the realm of "social media" and the way people connect all over the world, to me it is a sad testament that online relationships and virutal friendships can and have and are easily replacing "real life" relationships. I just think it's sort of a sad reality that people can be so aloof that they can't even wave.
I realize that maybe one of my big "issues" in life is that I sometimes 'care too much'. I get that I am a people person and I love that everyone has a story. I love that we can be "total opposites" and yet be best friends, or we can be so much alike that we laugh and point fingers at our own quirks. I have many. I am not always the best friend. Both online and in real life. But I do hope that I never become so shut out to people around me that I can't respond to their waves of hello. And in so doing, quite possibly miss out on a little home-baked goodness too.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

More milestones.

Brock, Bella and Ava started school two days ago. We are in full swing of adjusting to a new fall schedule/routine and that is always a bit challenging when you have 8 people plugging along nicely with a laid-back summer schedule. But I know we will find our new groove. As we do each year at this time. My biggest challenge is to get some ready and out the door and keep the others from following that are supposed to stay home! =) Teague and Crew would gladly throw on flip flops and join the 'big kids' for a bus ride. They think it looks fun and we have had a couple of mornings of "meltdowns" over not being able to accomodate their young wishes.
Wyndham is getting ready to start a new schedule soon too. We just don't have all the details of what that entails for her quite yet. But the process is underway. I wrote an update on my FB status yesterday about how hard the first day of school is for me as I process grief in the mix of my kids growing up too. I have never been able to picture Teagan growing up- even as all her siblings do- and so to think of my little girl as a sophmore this year literally brought me to tears yesterday morning. Not a long, hard cry. But the kind of cry where I realize we have had to surrender so many dreams we had for her and we missed out on so much of the living that we imagined with her through the years. Knowing she would be so grown up and yet having only photos and mementos left of her as such a little girl just makes my heart wince with a pain I have felt over and over the past decade and more. I miss her especially so on days like this. Yet I know without a doubt that even a split second in Heaven will more than make up for whatever it is I have had to endure here on earth. So I hold tight to the hope of glory and the promises that God is making all things new. In His time.
When the kids came home from school yesterday I had baked a brownie pie and as we sat around the table eating the fresh-baked after school snack and discussing the exciting events of the first day, Bella looked across the table at Wyndham for a moment. She then turned to me and said, "I wonder if Wyndham is sad that she didn't get to go to school today?" I explained to Bella that Wyndham went to a meeting and she will likely be starting her own classes soon.
I thought that would be the end of that conversation.
Instead, my thoughtful, new fifth grader looked right into my eyes and her eyes started to well with tears. Without a bit of hesitation, Bella replied to me, "I wish I could trade my body with Wyndham for a week so that she would be able to know what it feels like to be a normal kid like the rest of the kids in my class". She was so serious and so tender and passionate and even hurt about not being able to actually act on something she wanted for her sister so badly. My own throat got that feeling in it that I feel every so often about wishing things so different. At that moment I wished that none of us was having this be a part of our "first day back at school" afternoon chat. It's heavy stuff over a piece of warm brownie pie!
I couldn't hold back my own emotions. Not after I had cried over my broken dreams with Teagan earlier in my day. So I let my tears fall and I gave Bella a hug as her own lip quivered and I told her that that was a remarkable thing to wish to do for Wyndham. She seemed sort of surprised that I would say it's amazing to want to do that for Wyndham. She said to me, "I would if I could, Mom! I would give anything to let Wyndham just be a regular kid for once!" Oh Mommy heart felt like it could burst. I was moved at the sincerity and empathy from one daughter; I was wishing the world for another; and I wanted a do-over with Teagan all at the same instance.
I don't live in this kind of emotional and heartfelt world all the time. More often than not there are arguments between kids over silly things, there is 'drama' over remotes and Wii's and who gets to play the computer next. But in that instance I realized that aside from all that stuff we are learning and experiencing stuff firsthand that makes us more sensitive to others- more aware of struggles. Ours and others too. A "normal" afterschool snack felt like a divine experience- even though I'm not even fully certain of what occurred. All  I know is I could "feel" Bella's heart. I could see Wyndham's own face with a smile on it as she ate her chocolate brownie bites, and my own heart was feeling gratitude, longing, amazement and peace all at once. It was just abit later that Wyndham was playing with her iPad and she literally poked me and turned the screen my way as she pointed to it. She has an app with all sorts of word choices that she has been getting to learn a bit at therapy and by playing with it at home. This time she had formed a 3-word sentence which read, "I want carrots". I looked at her beaming face and said, "You want carrots?" and she got so excited that I had got the message. She was so proud of herself and I was proud and blown away too! I of course, got right up from my spot at the table and brought back a little dish of mini carrots for her to eat. She was so excited all over again. It was so cute I took the picture even though the lighting was terrible. I knew I wanted to remember such a major milestone moment with her. I don't know how far she will go with the challenges that lie ahead of her. I don't know what any of my ids will face in our futures to come. But I do know that the ride is amazing and full of emotions at times that make my head and heart spin. I am so glad that 3 of my kids are off to a good start this school year. I am thankful that we have so many reasons to be thankful- no matter what we will face. I am thankful that my kids are learning to care about other people who are less fortunate than themselves and they have a front seat to how extra-special needs people can be the ones to enrich our lives- as Wyndham does in ours every single day.
The milestones may "look different" than I imagine them at times. But they are treasures and gifts that make the journey so great. Even at the twists and turns that I wish we didn't have to take at times. I am thankful that God is leading the way.