Day 26: For funny kids. I always dreamed of laughing with my future kids the way me and my sibs laughed with my mom, and that dream has come true. There’s no better feeling than laughing with your family. More about that in this post. (which includes some photos which will probably make you laugh too).
Day 27: For Abundance. With a capital “A”. So much of my speech and thoughts come from a place of scarcity. “I don’t have enough space”, “I don’t have enough money” “I don’t have enough energy” “I don’t have enough time” “I don’t have enough sanity”, “I don’t have any family living on this continent”, “I don’t have enough hair”.
This is a great pity because I really am blessed with extraordinary abundance and I would be so much more content if my focus lingered on that rather than constantly chronicling what I feel I lack.
I don’t have “enough” space because my warm and cozy home is overflowing with beautiful, happy, healthy, kind children, warm clothes to wear, books to read, toys to play with, beautiful things to look at, comfortable furniture to rest on and more than enough food to eat. Regarding my lack of “enough” money, my husband has a stable job in his field, a great education and a stellar work ethic. We are blessed with so many generous people in our lives. A kind sister who bailed us out of an unforeseen and potentially devastating crisis this year without a hint of judgment, only compassion, who together with other generous family members helped to buy the exorbitant plane ticket on short notice so that Aaron could fly home to be at his beloved dad’s funeral. Friends who are constantly passing along useful items so we don’t have to buy them, who come up with creative ways to allow us to earn extra money or to barter for opportunities for our children to do extra-curricular activities. I have a handful of jobs, some of which are extremely fulfilling to me, which allow me to make some extra cash while still enjoying the incredible blessing of being a stay at home mom.
My deficits in sanity, energy and time are made up by an amazingly willing, capable, kind and patient husband, by long-suffering and thoughtful friends who drive my children hither and yon, often without reciprocation, who offer childcare for Ella when they know I am stressed, even though they may be equally stressed, by family and friends both near and far who are always available with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, an endless supply of love, counsel, comic relief, prayers, advice and encouragement. I am blessed with good healthcare and insurance to preserve and protect my health, both physical and mental, and that of my family. I have access to resources, medication and education to help me when I am dealing with depression and anxiety.
I have an ever increasing myriad of ways to stay in contact with my far-flung loved ones, and angels who step in as family in their stead.
And well…who needs good hair, right? I have product and hats are totally making a comeback.
I am indeed abundantly blessed in all things and for that today, I am truly, truly Thankful.
(This is hanging on the wall in our living room this month. I am grateful to the internet for providing things to hang on my wall.)
First off all, can I please get some props for coming through with the posts I promised? Not all of them yet, yes I know, but give me time, I’m on track! I even have another one ready to roll after this one! Why, thank you! I appreciate your unsolicited encouragement and praise!
Anyway as mentioned, I read this article, I’m going to refrain from saying “this whiny article” because that’s unkind and judgmental and it’s possible I misinterpreted it, but when someone is complaining that we “Broke Thanksgiving” by virtue of making and sharing lists of things we are grateful for, because they feel that Thanksgiving really should be about the beauty of dysfunction (and they weren’t even being ironic!) I feel that it might warrant the dreaded “W” adjective. But that’s just me and what do I know. (Actually when it comes to whining, a LOT. So basically I am a pro, and I deem it so). Moving along.
I have made daily gratitude lists in November on my blog for several years now. I got the idea from my fabulous friend Julie (you should be reading her blog), back before it became A Thing, (but I’m not going to whine about it becoming A Thing because I think it’s a wonderful Thing to catch on.) And I’m fairly sure that it is no coincidence that since I started this practice, I have felt a lot happier and more content with my life, for at least the month of November. It’s scientifically proven that expressing your blessings makes you happier (you should watch that by the way, when you are done here), and the more miserable you are, the more it helps. I would wholeheartedly testify to that.
This year November started out hectic, and chaotic and crazy (in the literal sense. Meaning, I was crazy. In the literal sense). And I seriously considered blowing off the tradition because I was not feeling like I could possibly take on one more thing and I was also feeling particularly ungrateful (on account of the craziness). And then in a moment of lucidity I realized that this was precisely why I had to make a special point of doing this, (and that was before I saw that there was Science to back up that realization!) Even though I scaled back by moving the practice to Instagram, and paring it down to just one grateful thing a day, it was better than nothing. And that is what I have done.
Truly, I have felt progressively better for each day that I did it. I think you can actually sense that when you read the captions as the picture progress. (You can access my instagram account and see the last few photos on my feed if you look in my sidebar over there----------> )But I really wanted to have it on my blog too. Because I’m like that. As you know. So now that I have a moment to spare, I thought I’d bring the gratitude posts home. Hopefully I can update daily with gratitude posts from now until the end of the month. Apologies, I took a lot of screen shots so I wouldn’t have to wade around trying to find the photos again, so forgive that the colours are weird. They are all much prettier in instagram. You should go there.
Day 1: Grateful more than I can say that my children have a dad whom they trust and adore with all their hearts. He is their safe place.
Day 2: For the sweet tenderness I observe between my children. Not always but very often. They love and like each other and have each other’s backs.
Day 3: For this sweet, smart, delightful, happy boy. I love him so! We went on a beautiful long walk together today and I loved every moment of his cheerful company. We gathered quite an impressive leaf collection too.
Day 4: For beautiful parks and woods in my town. Just a couple minutes from home can put me in a place where I can feel the magic, peace and restorative sense of being one with nature.
Day 5: For this beautiful boy, inside and out, my angel Gabriel-aptly named.
Day 6: (Gracie and Ella meeting Robin Press Glasser illustrator of the Fancy Nancy series (and illustrator of the year, 2013! at our local library). We are so thankful to have such an amazing public library in our town!
Day 7:For this cool, hardworking, driven, smart, low maintenance, funny, handsome, good kid. I’m so glad he is mine.
Day 7: For the resilience, joy, love and forgiveness of kids, even when their mom is a disaster.
Day 8: For constant reminders of a higher power.
Day 9: For unexpected blessings on bleak days.
Day 10: For beautiful people who stand strong and supportive when I fall apart.
Day 11: For the beauty, interest, variety and education I have gained from the diverse experiences, people and places I have been blessed to have known.
Day 12: For friends with impeccable timing bringing care packages which can feel like lifelines to a drowning student.
Day 13: For my sisters and brothers and my parents. My greatest sadness is that I live so far away from my family and we are not in as regular contact as I would like. But when I am in crisis, they are there for me with unconditional love and support. They know me better than I know myself and are some of the wisest, kindest, most generous, good, intelligent, interesting, sincere and funny people I know! Thanks mom and dad, Shona, Seth, Thalia and Luke! I love you!
Day 14: For the fact that when we run out of food, getting more is just a matter of going to the nearest grocery store. Shopping may seem like a drag, but there was a time when we did not have that luxury, and many don’t. I try not to let it ever become something that I take for granted. Oh and I’m extra grateful for Goodwill where you can pick up miniature shopping carts for a buck and for cute little bums in tights.
Day 15: For my awesome surrogate mom Joan who came by today with decadent baked goods, her legendary chex mix (perfect study food) and a listening ear.
Day 16: For wool socks. Preferably ski socks. Do not let the unsexy deter you. Do not attempt winter without them. Wear at all times. They are life-changing.
Day 17: For days which feel and smell like Spring in November. For friends to shelter and feed us in a storm, for not being sucked up in a tornado, for people who support me in my studies and for finally submitting that final assignment, the first final assignment of my grad school career, at 1:30am.
Day 18: For a warm and cozy little house, filled with warm and cozy little people.
Day 19: For naptime. Not just because I get a break from being a mommy slave for a bit. But because when I lie down next to her to help her to go to sleep, I have the chance to breathe and pray and meditate in the middle of the day. I relax as I feel her warm little body becoming heavy and limp next to mine. My heart rate slows down and my breathing becomes even and deep as I listen to her breathing becoming slow and breathy. Then I get to gaze at her serene, angelic face as she dreams her sweet little dreams. It is a sublime experience in the middle of an ordinary afternoon and I cherish it every time.
Day 20: To have survived my first quarter of graduate school (and to all the people who made it possible).
Day 21: This was a throwback Thursday picture of Caroline at her 6th (ballerina) birthday party. So cute! I am grateful for this beautiful, kind, funny, smart, talented daughter of mine. She is a wonderful young lady and I am so proud of her!
Day 22 (on instagram this is a video of us raucously caroling on a carriage ride but I couldn’t get it to transfer over here so please enjoy this picture of Ella’s wandering awe as the town tree was lit) The caption that went with the video was: For friends to carry out ridiculous traditions with. Like our yearly raucous caroling on the carriage ride at the down town tree lighting (much to the chagrin/bewilderment/amusement) of our fellow passengers. Traditions are awesome. Even when they are ridiculous and freezing and half of the kids are hating on them. #wewillmakehappymemoriesdammit
Day 23: For the charms of small mid-western towns. With traditions like tree lightings and holiday parades. The holiday parade was actually our first experience in this community, on this very day, November 23, 2003. We were so impressed and our 4 little ones were so delighted with the huge candy haul. Today, we attended our 10th consecutive BG Holiday Parade, marking a very quick decade of living in this small Midwestern town. Our little ones are bigger now. They march in the parade. But we got a second shot at the magic and awe (something else I am grateful for!) Our little Ella really “got” it this year and was just as delighted by the candy piled high on her stroller tray (and even a teddy bear!) I complain bitterly about the winters here and whine that it is not the most exciting place to live, but we have been very blessed to have raised our children in what is as close to a Norman Rockwellesque community as it gets these days. This is a great little town and if we ever do leave (as I swore we would that first winter-before the next one!) , I will miss these perfect small town moments very much indeed.
Day 24: For my faith and an infinitely kind, loving and patient Father in Heaven who sends me so many opportunities to allow it to grow. I often rebelliously refuse those gifts, but He never gives up on me. I have no words to adequately express my gratitude for that.
Day 25: For dear friends, like Muss Cindi here, and so many other angels who have loved my children and provided them (and Aaron and I) with the sense of having extended family close by. Such a great blessing and comfort to me.
Before Thanksgiving is upon us, I thought I would
subject treat you to a epic, impressively redundant, minimally edited photo dump of Halloween related activities. Once again, because I did this over a period of days (because there were approximately 4, 5621 photos to work through), this is going to be especially random. I could go through and cut and paste everything into chronological and related groups but then you would be able to tell when I put the same photo in twice, and also since my computer doesn’t like to cut and paste photos right now, it would take a long and annoying time and it’s already taken too long and caused me to pause for many uncomfortable seconds and ponder the photo taking compulsion and where it may come from and whether or not I should seek help for it or just embrace it as an adorable yet irritating quirk. Moving along.
I was a Headless Freudian Slip. Just kidding! No really, I actually did have a head but in order to see my costume I was forced to zoom in and cut it off. Which wasn’t a great hardship (really, really bad hair day). The Invisible Man (Benj) was at a US Women’s soccer game that night. It’s not like I would have let him get away with not being in that picture. It’s me people. Snaphappy Mommy Dearest.
Trunk or Treat at the church and the after party were a good time, as always. Me with some of my fellow soccer moms. Not sure what’s going on here with the hoisting of Gabe but I thought Ryland’s eyes were impressively Halloweeny.
Aaron is such a tolerant husband. I do love that pumpkin.
Although Ella started out deeply skeptical about the trunk or treating she soon caught on..
Those little bloomers were SO cute but she very demurely insisted that they stay hidden under her dress .
On Halloween Ella made a few dozen cupcakes for Finny’s class. It was exhausting.
Finny and Ella went trick or treating at the Sorority houses on campus a few days before Halloween. It was so sweet to watch Finny making sure she got her haul. And so sweet to watch how much she loved it.
Can I just say how much fun it is to trick or treat with a two year old? Well at least this one. I seem to remember my others being a little more whiny about it. But Ella was just so delighted with all of it. The ringing of the doorbells, the crunching through the leaves, the walking along the edges of retaining walls, the meeting of adoring fans and comparing of costumes, and of course, the CHOKIT.
Love her expression in the second photo here:
“Oh they wanted cute and they got cute. And what did I get? Not one but TWO Chokits. Oh yeah. I Nailed it”
Here she was literally clapping her hands and squealing in anticipation of chokit. Do you understand a bit more why I can’t stop taking photos? Because she can’t stop being cute? Do you get it? Ok great, thanks. If it wasn’t for Aaron holding her back, she totally could have taken another block. Dads. Sheesh.
Ringing doorbells was a real thrill. She might make a career of it.
It’s been 7 years but yeah I’m pretty sure that none of my former 2 year olds were this adept at Trick or Treating. Or confident about it. Ella does tend to be a bit shy with strangers, not terribly shy, but somewhat reserved. However! Her passion for chokit totally inspired her to dig deep and do what she needed to do. She made eye contact, said “trick or treat”, ignored the cheap candy and went right for the chocolate whenever there was any, and even remembered her thank you’s. She was an old pro.
The quintessential Trick or Treating photo-excited little faces, spiderman making an appearance. I think it is so adorable.
She walked all but half of the last block. At least a mile. What a little pioneer. She was a cold and tuckered out little mouse by the end.
This picture is hazy because I took it right after we got inside and my camera fogged up. Just shows how FREEZING it was. And Ella INSISTED on going sans gloves, sans coat and sans hat from the very start of trick of treating at 6:30 and took her last piece of candy, still unsuitably dressed for the cold, as the town clock was striking 8pm. She outlasted every one of her siblings and their friends but at least a half hour. She was a MACHINE out there. A chokit gathering hardcore machine. A really really cute red-nosed chokit gathering machine. On a related note: why won’t my children wear warm clothing? I find it so disturbing.
I was so happy to bump into my handsome little hero as he ran past us.
Dancing (beauty) queen at the Trunk or Treat after party. And in case you were wondering what the Fox says….there it is. Don’t you love his expression? That’s a kid who just loves having his picture taken. He’s so happy to have a paparazzi mother.
The quintessential Trick or Treating photo-excited little faces, spiderman making an appearance. I think it is so adorable.
Some of our Halloween décor this year.
‘Twas the darkest Trick or treating we’d ever had. Halloween proper was washed out and rescheduled for November, the day daylight savings ended. Dark dark dark….appropriate I suppose but made for difficult picture taking and what is this all about really? The children? Please. The PICTURES. Keep up!
The kids are getting too quick for me to take photos of..there they go
Hooray for photo editing, I got to zoom in on this one. Not exactly an inspired shot but every year I get a photo of Finny and Mateo in action and I couldn’t bear not grab the traditional shot. For posterity. And sentimentality. Really I have a problem.
Perhaps it is because this was the first year Benj did not trick or treat. His choice. I am all for them continuing well into college. He and Keller manned the cauldron on the porch. And now if you will excuse me as I take to my bed and kick off the beginning of my mid-life WHY DO THEY GROW SO FAST? crisis. Omigosh. I honestly have a lump in my throat. It goes so fast. Why does it go so fast? Happily they were really stoked and super animated about their new role so that was a comfort.
Bumping into my little super hero again on our slower route with Ella. Gosh he is a handsome little hero isn’t it? And look! I even saw the Gaber. He was thrilled. What a fox.
The sleeping beauty taking off. She went with friends to another hood.
And here for your viewing pleasure the funniest photo I have ever taken. You are welcome.
The girls unwind after a hard night on the beat. Gracie sorted candy, Ella wrote in her journal about the experience.
And Ella in her leotard and tights inspired me to enroll her in dance class. Because really. Thighs.
On the Monday before Halloween we had a little pumpkin carving party with the Richardsons.
Which means the kids hastily scrawled on their pumpkins, and ran off to play leaving us with the scooping and the carving. And the posing…
Only the shadow knows..
Here’s the sinister group now..
A sampling of our family’s offerings this year. My favourite was the first one. He who must not be named. Sadly the photo doesn’t adequately show his nose slits. But they were there. And they were chilling. I was also rather fond of my leaf.
Our primitive rendition of “mimi mouse” , some trendy triangles and a pumpkin suffering from anxiety.
Anger issues, more anxiety and a daylight shot of Voldermort er He who must not be named, so you can see his natural features better. Isn’t that the coolest pumpkin ever? The raw material I mean. He was born to be bad.
Evolution of a jack ‘o lantern. Ella was very into the drawing part…
Lobotomy, surgery, and illumination. That pumpkin had a really rough day/night. No wonder about the anxiety. Since I am on my way to being a mental health professional I’m going to go ahead and diagnose him with PTSD
Some more pictures of Ella. Bet you didn’t see that coming. She spent a LOT Of time in front of that mirror preening and posing and admiring herself after we got her all dressed up. And I took a LOT of photos of it. (Bet you didn’t see that coming either). I almost cried at how cute it was. I think I actually did get a bit teary.
I posted this collage on my Come Back Manic Epic Post but I feel it bears repeating. Because, I mean really. It does.
And last but not least look at these amazing pinteresting cupcakes my friend Tiffany made us.