Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the Thanksgiving list

For the last several years, we have been making Thanksgiving lists. We always talked about thanks and remembered what we are grateful for on Turkey Day, but thanks to our wonderful Pastor, we have a tradition of the list. Our kids have to make a thanksgiving list BEFORE they can make a Christmas list-it's the rule. Now, well meaning relatives who are bound and determined to get their shopping done usually beg for lists before, so we allow a little wiggle room, but for the most part, it's thanksgiving list, then Christmas list.

I think it's a good way to live: give thanks before you ask. Remember your blessings before you put out your hand for more. I want to be the one who thanked Jesus, not the one of the nine who forgot.

It's also made the whole process a lot of fun. This year, it's a bit of competition between the girls as to who has more items and Gabe is writing a bunch of his "thankfuls" himself for the first time. After dinner on Thursday, while we are listening to "Christmas Island" (jimmy buffett) for the first time this year, the kiddos will make their Christmas lists.

So, in the meantime, here is my thanksgiving list. I am grateful for:

God, my faith even when it seems too small or not enough
my family, big and small, the ones I enjoy and the ones who drive me crazy
my oldest daughter who is growing too fast for me, but just right for her
my younger daughter, who is changing and growing just as God wants her to
my son, who is still my baby even as he is learning to read!
my husband, simply my life-even with our hectic existence lately
my home, which after a year and half still takes my breath away
my friends-couldn't live without them
coffee, specifically Starbucks (again, don't want to live without it)
the change of seasons
the change of presidents
a warm home on a cold day
having enough always
our cars, with their combined mileage of nearly 300,000 miles!
pedicures (though infrequent)
messy kisses from a 4 year old
the occasional chance to sleep in, even though it comes with a wiggly kid or two
the chance to be a writer, and the hope of more to come

I am sure there are more, but I have to wake someone for school. Oh, yeah, I am thankful for school :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

apparently, I suck at being grateful

Well, my best intentions to keep up with my blog have as usual, gone by the wayside. I don't know why I neglect this little spot; sometimes I don't know why I write it either. But, for what it's worth, I do.

So, let's see, it's almost mid month and am I still living in gratitude? I am not sure. I am finding it hard to concentrate lately and getting caught up in and rattled by the minutia. Small, but time consuming writing projects that make me feel less like a writer and more like an outsourced drone, tedious household tasks that need to be done again even before they seem finished the first time (laundry for example), not enough time with the people I love, not enough creativity, not enough warm socks and hot coffee, too many phone calls, but not enough conversation, abrupt emails that should have said more, wondering if I am on the right path these days.

All that sounds like ingratitude, huh? Well, this morning knocked me off my feet. My middle child, who is always full of either vinegar or sugar, came into the kitchen dressed for school and nearly took my breath away. Where did my little one go? Not the baby, not even the toddler, but the little girl, with the rounded cheeks and soft features, the one that always had trouble waking up and would want at least 20 extra hugs every morning? Thankfully, she is still snuggly, but she is looking so grown up.

I dropped everything and sat down with her to tell her all my favorite things about her from when she was little and from now. How when she was little, she used to sneak in her sister's room and lay on her bed and play with her stuff while she was at school. I also confessed how I did the same to my sister when I was little. I told her how much I love it that she is reading my books from when I was a kid (Charlotte's Web this week). Also, how Charlotte's Web was the book she carried around and "read" when she was 2.

So, I am grateful, so very humbled and grateful. Grateful perhaps beyond mere words for this answer to prayer. See, things with this girl have been tough lately. She's been having a tough time and so have we. We have all needed patience that only God could give us and I have been praying and praying for help. And, today, here it was. I saw her through new eyes. My most fervent prayer is always to see people as God sees them, not as I see them, and I think today, for a moment, that prayer was wholly answered with my daughter and, I am grateful.

When God sees her, I think he must see her like this:

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Ahhh... November. To the retail industry and most of the media, this month is nothing but a speed bump on its hurried way to the biggest money making holiday known to our western culture. Of course, I am talking about Christmas, but that has become the holiday-that-must-not-be-named these days. But, to me, November is a welcome respite, a time to reflect, to think and to be quiet before the hustle and bustle of Advent and Christmas. The trees look bare, the leaves having all but fallen. The weather is chillier and darkness comes earlier.
While Thanksgiving isn't a religious holiday, I think the Pilgrims had it timed just right. Give thanks for the harvest, give thanks what will carry them through the long winter. While I may have the conveniences of modern life and don't have to store up supplies for the coming season, I do have to take stock of what I have in my life and give thanks. And, I plan to do that here for November. Some will be deep (I hope) some will be frivolous, but I will be grateful for all. So, today, I am grateful for the opportunity to express my gratitude here on this blog. And, if you are reading, I am grateful for you.

Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus for you

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fall is also called Autumn

Well, I have made soup, my toes are a little cold and my house is decorated in harvest/halloween!! It must be fall. I seriously love this time of year, it is a welcome respite after the rush and heat of summer. The (now) quiet afternoons, the chill in the air that makes my kids actually get a jacket without being told, and the calm it seems to bring to my soul: I am grateful for all of these.

The seasons have always been a reflection of God's love and grace to me. First, the beauty and power in creation. The new life of spring, the vibrance of summer, the stillness of fall, the hibernation and waiting of winter. Each season has its own beauty and if you watch for it, there is reason to stand in awe and thanks for the gifts each will bring. Second, there is the message. It is so easy to draw comparisons to our lives, our faith and our moods from these seasons; it is almost too simple. Sometimes we are bursting with joy, sometimes we are waiting out our own personal winter. We find time to gather our harvest and bring family together. To me, the change of season means a time to refocus on my faith and Autumn is the best time for me to do that, with a return to schedule, to quiet time with kids in school, to knitting and cooking and baking-all with a heart of gratitude.

And, I like decorating my dining room for the "harvest"!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

there just might be

Okay, so we are in the third week of school, with 2 kids full day and that little one going every day for the afternoon, and I have to say-things are good. I have wondered for a while what it would be like when I didn't have anybody home and, well, it's good. The last time I had no one home was when I had a little alien invading my body (that would be the middle one) and my oldest was in preschool 2 mornings a week. It didn't last long, as eventually, she was born and my tiny window of nothing was replaced with feeding, changing, holding, more holding, you know the drill.

So, now. it's good. I think there might be a grown up inside me trying to get out. Today, I realized that I was sitting on the sofa in the middle of the day, drinking a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend in the middle of the day with no kids at home. And, tomorrow, you know what?? I can do it again. Of course, my "free" time is limited since I am taking on some larger projects, and technically, I only have 2 hours and 18 minutes (but who is counting??) between dropping off kid 3 and kid 1 coming home.

Don't tell anyone, but school is good :)

I leave you with a photo of the space left behind when you take out the ugliest medicine cabinet in recent history:

Friday, September 05, 2008

september cometh

So, September is here. As I sit in my dining room with the window a/c blaring directly in my face, it's hard to have warm feelings about the idea of fall. What I would like is cooler feelings in general and less 90+ degree weather. It seems that even though I swore off the a/c for the season, I cave in on the 5th day of heat and turn it on (and am secretly thankful that my husband didn't have time to take the units out last week.)

Since I last posted, I have become the mother of a middle schooler, a second-grader, and a 4k-er! Okay, I have always been the mother of these kids, but their respective grades are giving me a little pause this September season. I know many moms who feel as I do-that September is the new year, the time to start fresh, the time for resolution. Really, my life looks pretty much the same on December 31st as it does on January 1st, except that I generally have a new Turkey Hill calendar on the wall. (and my kids are searching the back for the ice cream flavors and bugging me to use the coupons).

This year, my resolutions are to be organized enough to be open to some new opportunities. I am praying and waiting to hear about some exciting new jobs that might be coming my way. I am going to be ready if they arrive! I am also ABSOLUTELY SCHEDULING IN time for exercise and creativity. I am doing this and eventually this. Which as this point seems crazy since I have never been a runner, but I just have this feeling that I should run.

Today, I am both cranky and grateful, mostly cranky due to the heat, but also because I have a stack of articles to rewrite with SEO optimization and the most interesting topic seems to be powerwashing. Also, as I listen to NPR today, it's science friday which generally makes me feel just a little less smart than usual.

Also, a little heartbreaking, I BROKE my camera last week. The last 8 days without a camera have been painful to say the least! Luckily, I got the first day shots before it broke!

I am grateful that we live where we don't have to board up our homes or evacuate and I hold in prayer everyone who has done that for Gustav or is doing it for Hanna or will do it for Ike. After spending several years raising money to help the reconstruction effort for Katrina victims, my heart aches for all the current troubles in the Gulf and the southeast.

I am grateful that my kids are healthy and happy and that they have a/c at school (our 90+ year old elementary school only has it in a couple of rooms and mine have it!).

I am grateful for friends and family.

I am grateful for my faith and for the peace it is giving me as I await (somewhat impatiently) news.

I am grateful for my husband's job and for his willingness to work so hard for our family, even when he isn't satisfied with what he is doing.

I am grateful for my a/c (have you noticed a theme here?)

Have a wonderful and safe weekend.

Monday, August 04, 2008

army guys and bows

so, yeah I am feeling pretty pleased with the cake I made for Cecilia's birthday. I have absolutely no professional training or experience with cake decorating, but I do have that irresistable combination of optimism and enthusiasm that allows me to pretty much try all kinds of things that I have no experience doing. Like refinishing wood floors, electrical work, and using fondant on a cake. I mean, I do watch Ace of Cakes now and then, and I do still love using play-doh so what could go wrong? This time, exactly nothing went wrong and the cake for my oldest daughter looked fabulous. Now, before you ask me when I am starting my professional career, I must share the other cake I made for the same party:

Not exactly Ace of Cakes material, but this army rendition of the pool cake made one little four year old boy VERY happy. The river is made of jell-o. I wasn't too happy with the way the color came out, it pretty much looked like a vat of grape jelly, but luckily, the birthday boy didn't care about the color. He just loved the combination of army guys and frosting, so life was good.
Now that two of my children have "turned" a new age, I am finding myself feeling nostalgic. We are headed into uncharted territory this year. The oldest is bound for middle school, and the little one is headed for every day pre-school at the big school. It feels like kindergarten to me even though it is officially called 4-k. I feel a little like someone pulled the rug out from under me and my kids have grown up without me noticing.

I am not a fan of change, so this year should be interesting. Just the thought of all the new schedules and activities has me a little anxious, but anxious or not, the new school year will be here in 3 weeks!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

in the groove

We are certainly adjusting nicely to the lazy days of summer. My kids have a tan (well as much tan as kids who favor their 1/2 Irish mother can get), I am sporting what I like to call my savage tan (again-see the Irish comment), The house is staying wonderfully clean because we are pretty much never in it, and we are all staying up late, the kids are sleeping late and everyone is in a vacation-type mood.

As of right now, we don't have any big summer plans-thanks mostly to gas prices and the price of heating oil that is lurking just around the corner for us in the fall. We are also going to be saying goodbye to our 11 year old car soon and a reluctant hello to a car payment for the first time in about 4 years. So, it's close to home for us but we are making the best of it and having fun together. The summer days go so quickly-we've been out of school nearly a month already and I am not sure where it went.

So, all this brings me to my gratitudes for summer, I am thankful

that I can be home to share summer with my kids

for the pool we belong to

that we are all healthy

for family

for summer birthdays

for the beauty of creation in this season

for 99cent shakes at sonic

for packed lunches and dinners eaten at the pool

for sunscreen and chlorine scented kids

for air conditioned libraries and movie theaters

for the 20 minutes of reading time required daily to get a free Dairy Queen blizzard at the end of the month

for friends

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

this is what it looks like

when you have left your aunt and cousin in the baby pool and decided to just jump into the big pool all by yourself, with no grown up, not even an older sister in the pool. If you are Gabe, you would have a hard time understanding why that is not a good idea, because, as he puts it "but mom, I can totally swim."
Good argument, actually, but I won't tell him I think so. For his crime, he had to sit out for a few minutes. I would have liked to keep him in exile a little longer, but the wind was so chilly, I thought it would be heartless.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

summer's here

So, we had a picture perfect day on Sunday and I have no pictures to prove it. We had a nice breakfast of pancakes with strawberries, maple sausage, coffee and orange juice. My kids said it was weird having pancakes for breakfast-I guess it's been a while since we had breakfast for breakfast. We usually do breakfast for dinner around here because my idea of a good breakfast is a cup of coffee.
We took the kids up to the school playground and "practiced" softball with all of them for a while. Gabe got too hot, so he and I came home and packed some snacks for the pool. We hit the pool around 3 and stayed till 7-stopped at the store on the way home and then had dinner around 8:30. It was 10pm by the time we got the kids into bed and they were all tired and smelled of sunscreen and chorine-probably my favorite smell in the whole world.
It was a day of simple pleasure, just being together with no agenda and nowhere to be.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? Either way, this portrait of Cecilia took my breath away. Cecilia takes art classes at a local studio in the Fall. It is a great place to be creative, an old house by a pond, with a little stream and a koi pond right inside. So, the daughter of Cecilia's teacher is very talented and created this portrait of her last year and we finally got to see it today.
The portrait is indescribably beautiful. It totally captured her personality. I was pretty much in tears when I saw it yesterday and that took me by surprise. The artist is using it next year to apply for college and then I am hoping we can purchase it! I need to have this portrait.

Friday, May 23, 2008


this boy is so much fun and he has his grandfather's ability with knots and string. My father-in-law could tie a knot that no one, and I mean no one could untie. He was a cook on merchant ships that ran a trade route from Europe to Africa. He would be gone on long voyages, gone for more than a year at a time. Of course, this explains the spacing of my husband's siblings quite well.
He could tie a knot, and now Gabe has somehow genetically inherited his love of all things tie-able (not sure that's even a word. He is constantly tying knots, tying string, taking my bathroom robe belt and creating marvelously intricate patterns and knots, tying chairs together, tying himself to things. If he could get the cat to stand still, he'd tie her to something.
So, last week, when he found the ball of string that I used to tie up the climbing roses on the trellis on the front porch, he was in heaven.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

here it is

Now, two posts in one day. Apparently, the woman who lived here before us LOVED roses. She had planted many rosebushes and lovingly stenciled roses and vines and ivy with roses and little patches of roses all over the house. While the stencils were covered within days of moving in, I have taken over the care of her living roses and this is the first beauty of the year. I pruned all the roses in March, and was hoping that the plants would be okay after my attempts at caring for them, and it seems that they are!!


So, without resorting to self-loathing and excuses, I cannot believe I have not updated this blog in more than two months. All my good intentions have gotten me nowhere and I have neglected this little journal miserably.
April was truly a blur this year, starting off with what we like to call Tonsilectomy on Tuesday (can you tell that Julianna is into Magic Treehouse books right now?). She handled the surgery really well, but it was both scary for us and reassuring at the same time. As I answered all the pre-op questions, I said a little prayer of gratitude for each "no" I was able to give: no heart problems, no liver problems, no kidney problems. You get the idea. It really helped give me some perspective on how healthy and lucky we all are. For some parents, a tonsillectomy would be a joy and they are just hoping that their child will live. I don't want to forget that; I want to be grateful as I share this time with my kids.
We also have become a sports family-which has been so much fun and busy and crazy. Cecilia has taken to softball like a natural and is starting a skills class this week. One of the coaches has suggested private pitching coaching for her (who even knew this existed?) At the rate of $40 an hour, I think we will wait just a little for that one.
I, for myself, have been up to my eyeballs in busy! I have taken on several larger writing projects which, although not very inspiring, have been good for me. Squeezing work in around the kids' schedule and spending time with Gabe this last year before school has been an adventure and a challenge. We are also in full swing Vacation Bible School planning mode. And,now I am up to my ears in the end of the year excitement. School awards, preschool picnic, ladies lunch at church, field day, pool day for the fifth graders, Alex's Lemonade stand for the fifth graders, it's all good and all fun, but wow. It's a lot to pack into one week. Now I know why the Duggars homeschool their kids-the schedule would kill them.
I am going to take a picture later of my very first rose of the season-it's on one of the red rosebushes out back.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

she is seven!

I can't believe my baby girl is seven today!! She has been sick with some type of stomach flu all week and hasn't been to school yet this week, but her birthday has arrived anyway. All in all, she is handling it well, with breaks of crankiness and complaining, mixed in with the enjoyment of being home and some birthday gifts already. We always give "sibling gifts" first thing in the morning.
We also stayed up late and decorated the dining room with photos of the birthday girl.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

so, yeah, I scrapbook

Well, I haven't scrapped in just about forever. Last month at my crop for Katrina, I attempted to work on some pages, but my purpose in being there is really to make everyone else comfortable and serve food, and handle all the details. I like to crop a little while I am there, but can't focus for long. So, this weekend, during Friday's snow day, I scrapped:

And, while Friday was our first measurable snow of any consequence, only one of my children had any desire to go out and play:

Sorry he is sideways, but I forgot to format the photo first. He had a blast and we made a snow-snack, which was a little hershey kiss shaped sculpture because the snow wasn't wet enough to really pack. We stayed out for about an hour and then it started to really sleet and we came in. We had a really nice day of movies and crafts and snacks and (for me) scrapbooking.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

at the risk of being redundant

I am again forced to blog about my dining room. I know my faithful blog readers have been wondering what exactly my dining room looks like these days, and now, you know. We finally have our fabulous table! It is more beautiful than I had imagined, all 7.5 by 4 feet of it! It is so strange sitting so far away from each other, since our old table was only about 28"across. We aren't quite settled into it yet and I am very cautious about allowing drinks around it, but so far I am in love with it.

As is usually the case with me, one piece of furniture arriving has put other pieces of furniture into motion and now my house is bordering on chaos. The old table needed to be relocated to the basement where it will serve as a desk. This required the removal of the old desk and some shelves as well as the painting of the office area. All of this, including the purchasing of $5 paint, happened between 1 and 3:30 pm on Saturday-not bad if you ask me. The office is green, which is my favorite color, but a shade that is slowly growing on me. Of course, when I told my husband I got the paint for $5 he proclaimed it to be the perfect color. Moving the old table downstairs was more work than I had anticipated, but now that all the pieces are in place, I really like the way it looks. I think it will work better as well.

At the same time, I decided that Gabe's room needed some work and cleared a bunch of toys out of the basement so that I could move the toy storage from the basement to his room and move his nighttable back up to Cecilia's room because she really needed it.

Sometimes I am amazed that my husband still speaks to me!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

winter inspiration

So, because I am always inspired by this blog I thought I would try to find something beautiful about winter. I am way more of a bah-humbug type when it comes to winter. I don't like to be cold. I have a 3 year old who doesn't like to wear a coat and who still needs to be buckled into a carseat with a coat he didn't want to wear anyway. I spend the winter looking for the longer days and waiting for the warmer weather.
The idea is winter white and because there's no white stuff on the ground around here, this is my offering. This lovely mixture became my favorite muffins-cinnamon strawberry from Cooking Light magazine. I don't think they end up being very "light" around here because we can't stop eating them, but at least they start out that way.
Today I spent the day cooking and baking (after a little work this morning and while Gabe had his friend over). I made some meals for friends who are going through some rough times. One had surgery yesterday for breast cancer, the other is awaiting news about brain surgery. It felt good to be making the "good soup" for them. Something small, not a cure for the cancer or for an unexplained mass on the brain, but something. Slicing onions, cooking the soup in the stock pot that's so big I could actually have used a stool to reach in for stirring, filling the containers, all of it was a prayer, something sacred.
Galations 6:2
bear one another's burdens and in doing so,
fulfill the law of Christ

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