Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

1. My pup, who is always by my side – literally – I have tripped over her multiple times today. Currently, she has her head on my lap, all sweet face and pretty eyes, patiently waiting for a Cheez-It.

2. Friends, old (ha) and not so old who make me smile and chuckle and are close in heart, no matter how far in miles.

3. Bacon.

4. Bones!

5. A kid with a sharp mind who likes to challenge me in games, especially word games, even if he starts SEVENTEEN games of the same game all at once and it takes me half an hour to catch up on all of them.

(Hug!)

Thankful Thursday

In an effort to shake off the residue of awful nightmares, a wicked migraine, and a lack of holly jolly, I am focusing on gratitude. So, today I am thankful for:

1. In spite of how it affects my head currently, sunshine! Because it is so infrequent this time of year and it is making a pretty rainbow on my ceiling. I appreciate simple beauty.

2. My girl will be home tonight!

3. My girl is en route!

4. My girl is just a few hours away!

5. My girl will be home for 3 weeks! That means there will be days when our family unit is once again intact. There will be annoyances and bickering among siblings, good-natured teasing, exasperation, too much stuff everywhere, more laundry, and lots and lots of love and laughter. And I will love every minute of all of it even when it’s maddening and smile to myself when I hear my childen’s voices intermingled in squabbling, teasing, and laughter, because I know these days are oh so precious and there aren’t many more of them to come in quite this way. I will find joy in those cherished moments and hide them in my heart.

Thankful Thursday

I’ve been fighting a bit of the melancholy this week. I looked at the calendar this morning and realized why and got teary. My subconscious always knows even when things aren’t at the forefront of my brain. So, in an effort to combat that, some gratitude and an attempt to shift focus.

Today I am thankful for:

Sunshine. There is some today and it has been so very gray lately, I am ever so grateful for any bright rays we get.

My kiddos and the fact that they are alive and healthy. I can never be thankful enough for that and I will never take it for granted.

Today is the last home boys’ middle school basketball game of the season and it is parents’ night. I am thankful I have the opportunity tonight to go and be there for my youngest.

That my car has heat on a cold winter’s morning and a kid old enough to start the car. (I so miss my remote start in winter, but I was thankful for it while I had it.)

Ice scrapers and a teenage boy to wield same at 7:30 a.m. (I was only driving that early because of him, so it’s fair.)

I hope your day is good. (Hug)

Thankful Thursday – Thanksgiving Edition

It’s been a long day, but one filled with love and laughter, and my heart (and belly) is full. I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well, whether you were surrounded by friends and family or, as some of my friends far away, had a day of solitude and self-pampering.

There is much for which to be thankful, and I hope you can all think of several things today.

Today I am thankful for:

* My family.

* The sounds of my children’s voices all together and especially their laughter.

* Warm clothing on cold, snowy, 15-degree nights. Also tea and pie.

* The aroma of all the foods cooking today.

* YOU. Yes, I am thankful for you, people who are following me, people I have connected with here, people I have yet to connect with, people just passing by. Each and every one of you who sees these words is a unique individual who brings your own special gifts to the world, so today I am thankful for you. You matter.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Hug)

Shattered Glass and the Kindness of Strangers

Once upon a time, my family and I were on a week-long road trip. We traveled through several states, stopping to explore places that struck our fancy, with the last leg of our journey being an overnight hotel stay, then a day spent at a large zoo there, followed by the 6-hour drive home.

However. 

When we went out to put our bags in the truck the next morning, this is what we found.

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Someone had broken into about 10 cars in the parking lot of the hotel, smashing in the windows, and stealing everything of value inside.

Unfortunately, we had not thought to remove our car dual DVD player we had purchased for the kids for the trip, the GPS, some games, a power converter we had also purchased for the trip, and a few other items, including our checkbook.

My son, who NEVER left his Nintendo DS in the car, forgot it for the first time ever that night, and it was stolen too. If you’ve ever had a kid who was quite fond of their video games, you can imagine how unhappy he was. None of these things were visible, all hidden under the seats and in seat pockets, but the thief apparently just smashed in random vehicle windows all over the parking lot and then ransacked the insides for whatever he could find.

The glass though. It was like a bomb had exploded inward. It was EVERYWHERE. Thousands of tiny pieces of glass in every nook and cranny of the truck. I couldn’t believe one window could make that much shattered glass. We couldn’t possibly travel in it as it was. It wasn’t safe to even try to get inside. We were 6+ hours from home with all our suitcases and no place to go.

What on earth were we going to do?

We had to rely on the kindness of strangers. The hotel staff was wonderful. They gave us back our room for our kids to hang out in and a place to stow our luggage while we figured out what to do. We filed the police report and made arrangements with a glass company to come and replace the window later that day. Once all those things had been taken care of, we sat down to figure out what to do next while we waited for the truck to be fixed.

The kids were understandably quite upset, though to their credit, they tried to see it as an unexpected adventure. We loved a good adventure, and I’ve always told them some of the best parts of a road trip are the unexpected and unplanned things that happen, but this was not quite what we had in mind to make the end of our trip “exciting.”

While chatting with the hotel staff, we mentioned we had intended to spend the day at the local zoo, but that clearly wasn’t a possibility now. And then something unexpected happened. They happened to have 4 free passes for admission to the zoo, so we would only need to purchase 1 ticket instead of 5. Then the manager and another staff member volunteered to chauffeur us there and back in their personal vehicles.

They stored our luggage safely in their office, gave us the tickets, took us to the zoo, and arranged to pick us up about 5 hours later. I am sure they felt a certain amount of responsibility to us as their hotel customers, but it was no fault of the hotel that someone had chosen to break into a slew of vehicles in their parking lot. Allowing us more time in our room to sort things out was something I think would be fairly common practice in a situation such as that.

However, I think that giving us the zoo tickets and being our personal chauffeurs so that our kids wouldn’t miss the planned trip to the zoo – and to try to boost their spirits after being upset about not only losing their things, but feeling a bit violated after seeing their truck seats covered in shards of glass – was going above and beyond, and it was enormously appreciated.

What started out as a very upsetting morning and could have been a long and unhappy day, ended up being a fun afternoon at the zoo and a rather enjoyable day. When my kids got back and talked to their friends about their vacation, as well as writing those back to school papers about summer vacation, the one statement we heard again and again was, “We got robbed!”

Certainly, it was a memorable event. My kids have been taught to be kind, and I have watched them extend kindness to strangers themselves many times over, but I think being on the receiving end of it in a situation like that and realizing what a big difference those simple kindnesses from strangers made for us that day, really brought it home to them in a personal way how kindness can make a big impact.

For me, that is what is truly memorable.

[Oh, and all that glass? The people who replaced the window vacuumed the car out for us as best they could, we laid our jackets down on our seats, and still found glass all around us. We continued to find pieces of glass coming out of seemingly nowhere not for months, but for years.]

Photo credit: jeffc5000 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

In the Blink of an Eye

Twenty years ago today, this darling child was born.

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And my life, and my heart, would never be the same. We already had a strong bond after months of my talking to her like she was already with me (because really, she was) and her responding in various ways, often with eye-watering kicks to the bladder or undeniable head rolls (she was breech).

She was my first pregnancy and everything was new and wondrous. I remember well when I first felt the little butterflies and marveled that this was a little person within me, first making her presence known.

I have never gotten over being awestruck when any of my babies would punch or push out on my belly and make a bit of themselves momentarily visible to the outside world – and to me. It’s a feeling I have never been able to adequately put into words.

When the day finally arrived when I had the privilege of meeting her at long last, the moment they put her into my arms, I was forever lost. My heart would never again be safe or enclosed within my own body. It is so very true what they say about a mother’s heart forever walking around outside her body. A huge piece of mine currently resides 6 long hours away.

20141118_213350-1This little girl of mine has been such a gift. She was such an intelligent child, sweet, stubborn, so caring, compassionate, high in empathy. For awhile it was just the two of us and we did everything together. We cleaned, we baked, we played, we sat under a tree on a blanket in the summer and read books together, or looked up into the tree, examined the grass, looked at bugs, explored the everyday things around us that hold such fascination for a child as they discover everything for the very first time.

20141118_214834My baby girl grew and became a big sister, and oh what a protective big sister she was. I remember when my oldest son was born and we first went to the grocery store with the two of them. My shy little girl would speak right up to complete strangers if they got anywhere near our cart and say, “This is my baby brother. You can look, but DON’T TOUCH.” My little introvert was as fiercely protective of her loved ones as her mama.

20141118_213943I’ve watched my girl dance. I’ve watched her “nurse” her baby dolls while I nursed her brother. I have forever engraved on my heart the memory of a little girl in a sweater skirt outfit twirling, long golden hair flying, pretending to be a figure skater like we watched on TV, exclaiming, “Look at me, Mommy! I”m skating! I’m skating!”

There have been bumps and bruises, messed up knees and ankles, and bike wipeouts. There have been cousins and best friends. There have been friends who stopped being friends and soul bruises.

My girl has known heartaches and so many losses much, much too young – an elementary teacher, a childhood friend, family members, more friends. I think it has made her even higher in empathy and even more compassionate, if that’s possible.

20141118_181743-1There were dances and that one boy. THE boy. There was graduation and honors and scholarships. There was the letting go and leaving her 6 hours away at college while I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, but I had to let her spread her wings, because I know this girl has flying to do.

Then there was an engagement. Now there is studying, exams, a roommate (we couldn’t have asked for a better one), college pals. A wedding to plan. Holiday time split with THE boy (and again we couldn’t have asked for a better one) and his family. (I joke about who has custody of her when.)

As I write this, I have tears flooding my eyes and spilling down my cheeks, but these are not sad tears. I miss her so, but these are tears of joy, of a mother’s heart so overflowing with love and gratitude that I have had these 20 years, even though they have passed in a blink; and pride, so much pride.

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I am so proud of the young woman she has become. Her work ethic is impressive. She pushes herself hard to learn, to do well, to make the most of her schooling. She has goals and is determined to achieve them. She is a dedicated musician. She has a fabulous sense of self, knows who she is, and stands firm in what she believes in and doesn’t compromise herself . She has the biggest heart of anyone I know and no matter how many times she’s been hurt, she never lets it stop her from caring about people. She goes out of her way to help others. She is a friend anyone would be so lucky to have.

This girl, this young woman, she is one who can make me laugh like no other, and one of my favorite things in life is our episodes of crazy, gasping, can’t breathe, doubled over, tears rolling, snorting, helpless laughing fits we have when we’re together. It is THE. BEST. 

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This child, my firstborn, my baby girl, is no longer a child. She is a grown woman, today officially no longer a teenager. She is the light of my life. She is my most trusted confidant, and I am so incredibly blessed to now call her my best friend. I learn from her. I admire the woman she is, and the woman she is making herself into.

My baby girl isn’t a baby anymore and while there are moments it is really  hard to wrap my head around that, and certainly there are twinges of missing that adorable little girl who forever changed my world and my heart, I am ever so grateful to have the tremendous privilege of having watched her journey from baby to child to beautiful young woman, and I hope to have the great fortune of continuing to witness her transformation in the years to come as she becomes a college graduate, an engineer, a wife, a mother, and so much more.

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Happy Birthday, Baby Girl! I cherish you. I love you – to the moon and back! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Thankful Thursday

I am drawing a blank on what to write about today. It’s been a busy week and my brain is on overload. So I’ve decided to just take a moment and list 5 thinks for which I am thankful. I may make this a regular thing, since I think it is always good to stop for a moment, especially when stressed, to remind myself how rich I truly am.

So, today I am thankful for:

My washer and dryer. With 3 males (1 grown, 1 not quite, 1 tween), my laundry is constant. I have no idea how they generate so much laundry, but holy cow do they ever. After doing 4 loads today (and there’s more!), and having been without a washer and/or dryer for days, if not weeks, at various points in my life and knowing how miserable that is, today I am ever so thankful for a functioning washer and dryer that are currently humming along.

My taste buds. There are ever so many things to taste in this world, always a new food to try. It is amazing to me how many thousands of flavors and textures – sweet, sour, spicy – I have tasted in my life, and to realize I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg in foods to taste. It’s mind boggling to think about all the things I have not yet, or may never, taste in this world.

But wait, there’s more!