Friday, April 26, 2013

A day in the life.

It's Friday. Fridays are mixed emotion days for me, because while I love that the weekend is just around the corner, Friday nights have taken Chip away from us and leaves me with the 6 kiddos at home. We have come up with some things to fill the nights with fun and activity, but my inner/better mom still feels guilt that we "never do anything fun" as far as going out or doing anything exciting. Last Friday was another one of 'those nights'. Chip actually took Brock, Crew and Bella to work with him though. Brock got to hang out and bus some tables {and he managed to make some good tips too!}, and the kids always like to visit the club, eat dinner and play games in Daddy's office. It gave me a bit of a break with just 3 kids to entertain at home. I grabbed Happy Meals and shakes for the three that stayed behind so that they had some fun of their own.
Then that picture of Wyndham is a peek into the rest of our Friday night. I asked Wyndham if she wanted her picture taken on the iPad. She loves taking pictures of herself. My jean jacket just happened to be out on the arm of the chair she was in, so I put it on her and brought her next to the window in her room for the last bit of evening natural light. She is the one who started to pour on the charm and big personality. She was playing air guitar and doing silly faces and just making a big deal about her impromptu photo session. I was happy to get a front row seat to her show. =)
As I have been thinking about the way life goes sometimes, I was realizing this week just how awesome and lucky and special it can be to GET to stay home and do nothing. Sure it gets boring for middle schoolers and kids who want more of an active social life, but truly, as we hang out and play games and pop popcorn and laugh while answering random life questions around the table together, it is a pretty amazing thing all it's own. I know we are still making some wonderful memories to look back on. Even if we never leave our home. And that's  something you can't put a pricetag on. Even when it's considered "boring" to some. I am trying more and more to simply embrace the place we are at, the limited things we can do sometimes, and to see the spectacular in the typical day-to-day life we live. I sometimes wish it was more hyped up and exciting. But I am seeing more and more how it sort of is all that.
This week I have been scrapping Cocoa Daisy's May Record Label kit. I am so thankful each month to be on such a great team and to get to scrap such great stuff all the time. I love that it 'forces me' to put the memories and pictures of our lives right now down on a page. I am having a blast with the cool designs and funky bits and pieces in this new kit especially. I scrapped Wyndham's picture already and look forward to taking more pictures of our "boring Friday nights" and other exciting days in our life to scrap too. Here's to making memories- no matter where you find yourself having fun!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When there is no love.

I'll be honest. There is a lot of stuff going on in the world and nothing grabs my attention more than news stories where everyone is minding their own business and trying to just enjoy their corner of the world, or partaking in something fun or beautiful, when suddenly their lives are forever changed by something horrible. I feel their pain on a very real level and know what grief and healing and finding a "new normal" means. Since the most recent bombing at the Boston Marathon, I have lifted prayers for the victims and their families a number of times in just the past two days. It is heartbreaking and it is a jolt back to reality that none of us knows how much time we have on this earth and that we need to make the most of each day we are given.
I have been struggling with the move back here to Michigan- away from family and many new friends. It has been an unreasonably long, cold winter, and the gloom of cold dark days lingers even now. We have had our snow melt away, and the temperatures are starting to climb, but between the news stories, this move, the long winter and all that goes into that, I am so, so ready for sunshine and fresh air again. I am ready for new growth and new life. Literally and figuratively.
I am almost embarrassed to say that one of the things I am struggling with in the move back to our home is our yard. It seems such a trite thing in the scheme of things, but it is something that in the past we put a lot of time and effort and energy into. We use our yard so much and love to be outside, but as the snow has melted away it has only revealed just how awful our yard turned in just one summer's time of neglect. Last year happened to be a dreadful summer- between the high heat and the lack of rain- that our yard just couldn't sustain itself with no tennants. We moved back in November and I knew it was going to be dead this spring. But I didn't realize just how "dead" it was going to be. The top photo is from a couple of summer's back. The next two pictures are of our house yesterday. Even though the sky was blue, the photos speak for themselves. Chip- my eternal optimist husband- says it will be back and better than ever by June 1. I am more reserved in my support of that thought and would be happy if we just had a thin layer of grass sprouting back by then. The whole yard and landscape have to be redone.
It has opened my eyes to the fact that "good" doesn't just grow. Weeds grow. Good dies. Green turns brown and dried in a hurry of it's not watered and nutured and cared for properly. I can't help but tie my thoughts of the dead, lifeless wreck of a yard to the events of Boston and how tragic that situation turned out. All the good people who worked and trained so hard for that marathon. All the years of the race being one of the most sought after to run in and with such a repuation that people come from miles around the world just to be in that place. And within seconds, that turned to tragedy and carnage and people will live with the horrible images and physical pains and some with grief from the death of a loved one, all because someone chose evil over love. When love is absent, there is darkness, hopelessness, despair and evil. I am sorrowed and saddened that such acts exist in our world that can rip lives apart in the blink of an eye. Through no fault of their own, people now will love with the heartache of such acts. I wish they could turn back the clock. I wish we could erase the last 48 hours and write a different ending.
But there is no chance of that- so everyone moves forward. I have found that moving forward in life sometimes means having to go places you'd rather not. Or leave places you wish you could have stayed. Or simply wait it out and hold out hope for brighter days. But just as our yard looks dry and dead and barren, I choose to believe {and hold out great hope!} that Chip is right and that new green growth is mere weeks away. I choose to believe with time and effort and energy poured into our yard it will look as good or maybe even better than it did before. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to take time? Yes. Is it going to be worth the investment? I sure hope so.
To those touched by life's heartaches- wherever you may be- I hope you choose to love, to believe in brighter days; to hold out hope and to always keep the faith. We may not know why there are times or places or hardships in our lives at times, but we can always pour ourselves into giving it our all and for sure, to always love. It makes the biggest difference of all.

Friday, April 12, 2013

When they actually listen and act too...

My kids are growing up far faster and with lots of stories and details than I keep up with on my blog these days. I used to be so much better about it, but as I said, the ease of FaceBook to post short sentences, links and upload photos has taken much of the place of blogging in my life. But I do like to come here and write when I have more time and space to do so. I also have been reading back through months past and noticing just how neat it is to actually have all these stories, photos and memories in a place like this. It sort of inspires or motivates me to want to write more. But lately every time I say I will be better about writing it just leaves me missing yet another goal. So I will simply hope that I can do better about this- but I won't bank on that happening.
So here I go...some thoughts and a couple of stories about my kids lately.
Wyndham is doing very well right now. She loves being back in her aqua therapy and is quite the swimmer from what I hear. I have yet to have the chance to see her in the pool at her therapy facility because I am always home caring for Teague and Crew while she has her appointments. But Chip tells me that she loves it so much and often splashes and jokes around when she doesn't want her pool session to end. She has been healthy for quite a long stretch now and that makes things so much easier for all of us- obviously. Between last winter and this winter she has not had a major illness- at least the kind that requires hospitalization. Prior to that she was in the hospital every winter, sometimes several times and sometimes in the summer too. So I think she is stronger and her immune system might have finally caught up to where it should be. I have loved seeing her personality shine and it is extra fun to see her act more like a preteen than a little girl. She has a very sharp sense of humor and we all love that most about her!
One of the things that jumped out at me about her last night was that she was the last person sitting at the table for dinner. The younger brothers are always the first to leave {or be excused!} and the others had run off to play and do homework. I was starting to clean up the kitchen and asked Wyndham is she was ready to move to another room too. She got up {which she rarely does on her own} and then picked up her plate and fork and brought it over to the kitchen sink. I was so proud of her and praised her for being a good helper! She loves to help set the table and mix things when we're cooking, and even likes to wipe the table when we're done. But it was cool to see her take the initiative and just do something that she is fully capable of doing, but rarely does. I know I could and should 'demand' more of her and all my kids when it comes to stuff like this. It still made me happy inside to know that she did it all her own and that she was pleased with herself too. It's hard to know what respnsibilities she should have, and even hard to not just do them all ourself because it is easier on her and on us. She beams- just like you see in her picture here today- when she meets or exceeds expectations. Don't we all?!
Then there is Brock. he deserves the spotlight around this blog too. As the oldest of the kids that ARE so demanding around here, he often gets added chores or time blocks where we ask him to help out. He still is always so willing to do whatever it is we ask. I don't praise him enough for that, and although I sometimes take him along to Target or to Barnes & Noble- and he also gets to go to sporting events and hang out with his friends there and at youth group, it is still nice to hear the praise too. So I am going to publicly say thanks to him for his generous spirit and helpfulness to Chip and to me at home. The kids look up to him and love him- even as much as they annoy him and hang on him too. I thought it was pretty impressive that a young check-out girl at Target actually noticed and said to him, "You're a good big brother" as he pushed Teague in the cart while I unloaded and paid the tab. Just by watching the way he responded to and entertained Teague for those few minutes was enough to make an impression and speak to his character that was seen by the girl ringing up our groceries. It made me realize that he is dependable and kind in how he treats his siblings. He told her he likes being the oldest of the 6 kids and Teague put on quite the show by barking and panting like a puppy right back. =) hee hee
I was thinking today about how much time and effort and prayers and tears and feelings of inadequacy fill my life when it comes to parenting and raising kids these days. That is much of my life from morning til night- and often even in the middle of the night too! But oh how wonderful and affirming it is to have glimpses of your kids "getting it right". I am realizing that though they need endless reminders and lots of guidance, they are learning at the very least what the expectations are, and that when they hit that mark it hopefully fuels in them the desire to keep going and strive to be the best they can be.
I wondered how I am doing on that level in regards to my spiritual life. After years of knowing what to do and how to do it I still need reminders and lots of guidance and encouragment to do the right thing. The walk of faith can be long and winding and daunting. Yet I know that I am going in the right direction and my heart still yearns to beat like that of Christ's. But I fall short everyday. Still, I know that God loves my efforts...He loves to see me {and all of us!} try our best. He loves when we listen, follow and obey. No matter what the cost; no matter who is watching.
I know that even on the days I am less than beaming for Him that He still wants the best from me, and expects it too! I know nothing I can do will make God love me more or love me less. Still, it is a neat picture to imagine Him smiling down when we get it right. Simply because we are being who He created us to be. I am working on being a better listener too. That way you know just what He wants and I know in turn my kids will see a better example of what I hope they grow to be too. More like Him.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Hello April!

I am posting from Michigan, after having just spent a few days back in Minnesota. We were supposed to be there the rest of this week- for spring break. But, as luck would have it, the night time sleeping wasn't going well for some of us, and that meant lots of daytime fussing and not-so-much fun as we had hoped. So we re-packed our new van and drove back early. One of the biggest lessons I am learning in life, and especially so as we grew to be such a large family, is that you have to be willing to change plans. Even if they are extra work, take away fun memories and cause their own bit of hassle too. Oh well. I don't blame the kids for all of it, as it is hard to travel so far {10 1/2 hours on the way over...12 on the way back}, sleep on airbeds and be on a different schedule in a different time zone. We are now just happy to be back with several more days to sleep in and just hang out before it is time to go back to school and routine.
The past week was another busy one! Besides the drive over and back, Chip flew over and back and drove over and back, all while getting his new golf course open and running a huge Easter brunch too. He celebrated his birthday with us by getting a text from me at 4:15 am asking if he could change his flight and come and help drive us home. Crazy, true and probably felt more like an April Fool's joke to him. But he willingly did as we asked him too and in the end we managed to make a memory by having a family dinner together on our long drive home. I owe him a birthday present now, but did make sure to tell him a big thank you for being a great dad and being so flexible too!
The kids did enjoy some parts of our trip- especially Easter and seeing family, friends and dressing up and finding some eggs with a bit of candy and money inside too. Wyndham has been so cute with her big smiles and showing off for the camera even moreso lately. =) I love that.
We are getting more and more sunshine {and had awesome blue skies as we drove through Chicago on Thursday afternoon!} and I am happy to share some full scrap pages I made for my April gallery at Cocoa Daisy. It is available for purchase right now and this Forecast kit has gotten rave reviews! Cocoa Daisy also has a few new things going on including a special "Day in the Life" kit. I am just getting started myself with doing Project Life and am very excited about how to document some everyday big and little details.
So, hello to April and spring and more sunshine and hopefully to growing a new yard at our old house again too. We continue to settle in here in Michigan, and being back in MN made me and the kids miss a lot of things about living there. I am not sure when we will get back there again, so for now, we will continue to send our love and be thankful for the family, friends and fun we have waiting for return that pick up right where we left off.