16

Thankful for…Laughter

Nov
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The day started off well enough. The bright, California sun was shining. The girls woke up excited. Today was both Crazy Hair Day AND Muffins with Mom Morning at school. The four of us enjoyed a quick but pleasant breakfast in the school cafeteria. After dropping the older girls at their classrooms, I had a few conversations with other moms before heading home to walk the dog. As the morning progressed, the wind began to pick up a bit. By the time the baby and I completed some errands, the wind was downright hostile. Shortly after returning home from school with the older girls, the sun disappeared behind what the local folks refer to as “the marine layer,” but what the rest of us call clouds. Sadly, my energy disappeared with it. The afternoon dragged until my husband called to say he was on his way home.

Regardless of how each individual day goes, most end up the same. It all starts with one short phrase: Daddy’s Home! The giggles of excitement over Daddy’s return are just the beginning. As the evening continues, the giggles turn to laughter. Our family often spends a good portion of our dinnertime laughing. I’m not sure when this began happening, but it is my favorite part of the day. Reminiscent of times spent with my own siblings, the struggles of the day are put away, even if just momentarily, and replaced by the joyous sound of laughter as we share the happenings of our day and appreciate each other’s quirks. Knowing that the liveliness of just being together still occurs with my brothers, sister, and now sisters-in-law, I am confident that this practice will stand the test of time with my own girls. Today I am thankful for laughter.

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15

Thankful for…Food

Nov
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Recently, I enjoyed following along on Facebook as a friend of mine from college conducted a social experiment with her family. My friend spent five days feeding her family at poverty level for a family of four. She spent $4.50 per person per day. That equates to $18.00 per day, or $90.00 for the five days. She planned her menu at the beginning of the week and bought everything at once. The family did not eat things that were already in the pantry. At the end of each day, she posted what the family ate for every meal in addition to what she paid for each item or meal. She also posted their hunger levels and attitudes. At the conclusion of her experiment, her family, particularly her children, had a greater appreciation for what they have and a greater compassion for those who are not as fortunate. I looked forward to reading her posts each day.

I am blessed by an abundance of food…good food. I am blessed to be able to walk into a grocery store and buy what I want. Even on days when I look in my pantry and think I need to make a trip to the grocery store, I have an abundance of food. This is not actually something I take for granted very often because there seem to be reminders of just how blessed I am all around me, from the homeless man on the corner to the young family barely scraping by in front of me in the check out line at the grocery store. Because of this, I feel I need to say that today I am thankful for food.

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14

Thankful for…Hot Glue

Nov
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I have been failing to meet my goal of blogging every single day during the month of November, so today I am going to give myself a little break while still accomplishing my goal. Truthfully, I had a very productive day around the house. I managed to get most of the house clean. This is an impressive feat if you consider that I accomplished this with my free-ranging toddler who gets into EVERYTHING and is a bit of a daredevil.

In keeping with the theme of thankfulness, today I am thankful for my hot glue gun. I did not own one of these miracle gadgets until after I started teaching. I never knew such a simple appliance could accomplish such great things. Did you know that you can attach things to painted drywall with hot glue and then remove it without damaging the wall?? Amazing. Well, today I completed a project that was long overdue. My first-born child was, I believe, part beaver. She gnawed through the rail on her crib like no one’s business. This experiment in teething was not only unsightly, but, frankly, made me nervous about babies ingesting paint chips. After the damage was done, I had the brilliant idea to wrap the rails with ribbon. I replaced the ribbon for my second-born, and removed it when the crib went in the attic. However, since moving, I had yet to wrap the rails for my third-born. Well, that is until today. It’s impressive what ribbon and a little hot glue can do. (Note: The BEFORE photograph only shows some of the minor damage…I had already wrapped the worst of it before I thought to take a picture.)

POSTSCRIPT: Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area of your drywall before you start hot gluing things to the wall! I’m sure certain paints hold up better than others. Also, I have only tried this method of affixing things to my wall with smaller, light-weight items.

Before

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

 

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11

Thankful for…Veterans

Nov
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We are prone to take for granted so much in our lives, whether it is the people we love or the comforts many of us enjoy. Often we take them for granted until we lose them or face the possibility of losing them. For many of us, freedom is one of those things we take for granted. When you are free, the concept seems intangible at times. However, when faced with the prospect of losing freedom, this concept becomes very real, very concrete. In the United States, we view freedom as a God-given right. It’s written into our constitution, after all. I must admit that, despite being married to an active duty service member, I do not wake up every day thinking of the price paid in human lives for my freedom. One of my favorite quotes is found at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., “Freedom is not free.”

The men and women who serve and have served in our military understand that freedom comes at a great cost, and they are willing to sacrifice for the rest of us. Many of them have seen firsthand what life looks like in societies that lack freedom, and they desire to protect the rest of us from experiencing it ourselves. We live in a country made up of multiple unique cultures, races, religions, and ideologies. While we do not always agree with what our neighbor may do or believe, we rest secure in knowing that we can coexist peacefully without the threat of death or imprisonment for simply expressing opposing ideas. The vast (and I do mean vast) majority of people my husband and I encounter are extremely gracious for the sacrifices he and his fellow service members make. However, to the small fraction of the population that disapprove of the U.S. military, these brave men and women proudly defend your right to express that opinion. There are plenty of places in the world where you would not be extended the same consideration. Today I am thankful for our veterans.

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09

Thankful for…Friends

Nov
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I recently completed my seventh inter-state move in eleven years. I have moved so frequently that, truthfully, the idea of NOT moving every couple of years terrifies me. Don’t get me wrong. Moving is incredibly exhausting and difficult. First, there are the physical tasks associated with moving: packing, unpacking, and finding a new home, just to name a few. More difficult are the emotional tasks that must be endured: saying good-bye to old friends, making new friends, recreating routines. I could go on and on with this list. Sometimes I wonder how we survive this major life event so frequently that it almost seems minor.

Well, today I am thankful for the many friends God has blessed me with in each place I have lived. (My reason for missing my blog post yesterday happens to be that I was at dinner with several wonderful ladies who have befriended me here.) I would have lost my sanity long, long ago had it not been for friends. My friends are my lifelines. They are both military and civilian. They provide desperately needed companionship and tips on where to find local resources. They love my children like their own and take care of them when I need help. They give me shoulders to cry on and lean on. They intercede in prayer for my family and me. They invite me into their lives, homes, and families, and for this I will always be grateful. One of the hardest aspects of being a military family is being so far away from family most of the time, but we always end up with friends stand in the gap, particularly for my girls. I would list each by name and tell the amazing stories of blessings my friends have heaped on me over the years, but I fear I would leave someone out by mistake. Someday I might attempt to record these stories, but for now, dear friends, know that I love you and thank God for you!

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07

Detour

Nov
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I saw a meme posted on Facebook today that stated, “November…The month where people who have complained on Facebook for the past 11 months become thankful for 30 days.” This is entertaining because, sadly, it is true for many people. This got me to start thinking, so I am taking a detour from my posts about thankfulness to write a bit of a disclaimer and an explanation.

In my previous posts and, presumably, future posts about the people in my life that I am thankful for, I only focus on their positive characteristics. This isn’t because they don’t possess any negative traits, it’s simply because I choose to focus on the positive. The truth is, the past few days have been really tough with my kids. I don’t get much sleep because the baby still wakes up at night. My older two girls are coming off of the Halloween sugar high (or something), and they have been somewhat disagreeable. Through all of this, I choose to work on keeping my sights set on the traits I love in each of them. I find this necessary because it helps keep my attitude in check. (And my attitude has needed a lot of checking lately.) So if you happen to read my other posts about the people in my life and think they all sound amazingly wonderful, they are.

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06

Thankful for…My Bundle of Joy

Nov
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My third pregnancy was a rollercoaster of emotions…more than the usual hormone-induced kind. I wanted three or four children. My husband wanted one. We compromised with two. When we found out a month after his return from a deployment that I was pregnant for the third time, it was an adjustment, to say the least. (But, let’s be honest, I was ecstatic!) One month after we learned we would be adding a fifth member to our family, we received some pretty devastating news. We were told my husband would be leaving again in less than six months to work in South Korea for the year. Bringing the whole family was not an option. While we should have been excitedly planning for the arrival of our next baby, we were scrambling to rent out our home and arrange for our things to go in three different directions. I still cry when I read my journal entries from these months.

When I was about thirty-five weeks pregnant, my in-laws helped my girls and me move from the D.C. area to my parents’ home in Louisiana. Four short weeks later, my third bundle of joy arrived. The term “bundle of joy” might have been coined in anticipation of my third daughter. She arrived on the scene a whopping nine and a half pounds with dark, dark hair that stuck straight up, and she came home from the hospital smiling. She is only fifteen-months-old, but she already has an amazing personality. People at the grocery store and around the base we live on know her because she is so friendly. She is like a ray of sunshine wherever she goes. I have had strangers tell me that she has made their day. She is a constant reminder to me to smile more often. Sometimes a smile is all someone needs to keep going on a hard day. My hope is that she will always shine so brightly. I cannot imagine her any other way. Today I am thankful that God chose to bless me with this bright, bundle of sunshine during a very dark time in my life. Today I am thankful for my third daughter.

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05

Thankful for…My Middle Daughter

Nov
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Middle children often get a bad rap. I am not complaining. I was the youngest in my family, at least for my first thirteen years of life. There is plenty of research regarding personality traits as they relate to birth order. However, as a mother, I do not think of my children’s personalities based on where they fall in line. When I compare their personalities, it is not in terms of better or worse. I simply delight in observing how God has uniquely created each of them.

Today I am thankful for my middle daughter. In the words of her Kindergarten teacher, “she is delightful.” Her laughter is contagious, which keeps things lively because she laughs frequently. She enjoys making people laugh. Sometimes she is intentional in her humor, but most often, it is her quirky way of looking at the world that makes others laugh. She is extremely good-natured, so she is never offended when others laugh at her. She simply joins in the merriment. She is only five, and I could write a book (or at least a short story) of funny anecdotes about her. Perhaps some day I will.

In addition to her comedic personality, she is incredibly smart and kind and loyal to a fault. My middle daughter loves books, and I love finding her curled up on the beanbag in her room with a stack of books or reading books to her baby sister in the nursery. She is very artistic, and she has incredibly neat handwriting for a small child. She loves a new adventure, and she adapts confidently and quickly to new environments. This is a great trait for a five-year-old who has just moved to her fifth state to have. She loves to cuddle and asks me every night to sleep with her, which I really need to do more often. I fear the day will come that she will quit asking, but, for now, I am just so thankful that God chose to bless me with a second amazing girl!

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03

Thankful for…My Oldest Daughter

Nov
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Parenthood comes saddled with expectations. We expect we will always do some things and NEVER do others. We expect all parents will make the same choices we make because, after all, our choices are the right ones. We expect certain outcomes for our children, whether it is how they will look or how they will act or what they will accomplish in life. The expectations are often greatest with the first child, when we are still naïve enough to believe we have some amount of control over any of this, and so well rested we cannot imagine what it is like to just survive the day. My youngest is now a year old, and while the unmet expectations I have of myself are too numerous to count, I can honestly say that my three children have far surpassed my greatest expectations.

Today I am thankful for my oldest daughter. I loved her the moment I laid eyes on her. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, and I become more enamored with her with each passing year. My oldest daughter is thoughtful and kind. She is extremely creative and intelligent. She loves math and science. She is fascinated by things that make most people squeamish (such as bones, bugs, and dissecting squids). She is dependable and incredibly helpful with her younger sisters, even when she would rather be doing other things. She is witty and fun. She is an encourager by nature, often telling me how great she thinks I am after I have forgotten to send her with a snack or just blown it by losing my temper. While I have always called her “my cautious child,” she is incredibly brave. How many 7-year-olds do you know that have lived in 6 different states? With each move, she adjusts to a new home, new school, new climate, and new friends, and she does it with more grace than I ever expect. I am so thankful that God chose to bless me with this amazing girl!

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03

Thankful for…My Husband

Nov
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I have been married for eleven years. Much has changed during these years…six states, seven cities, and three children, just to name a few things. One of the few constants in my life has been my husband, despite only having lived together less than nine of those eleven years due to deployments. My husband is one of the steadiest people I have ever known, which, if you know my father, speaks volumes.

I am eternally thankful for my husband, and there are a multitude of things I appreciate about him. He is extremely efficient and able to think through every facet of a situation. He is kind and compassionate. I take great pleasure in observing his interactions with our three daughters because they are so different from mine. He has a way of calming my often frenzied, somewhat frazzled state of mind. He works hard and is very driven. He is always willing to do whatever needs to be done, both at home and at work, regardless of how difficult a task or decision may be.

My husband has so many amazing qualities, but one of the characteristics I appreciate most about him is that he is bit of a paradox. He is both analytical and creative. He writes with his left hand, but does many other tasks with his right hand. He can be serious in one moment and dancing around the room in the next. He leads with humble confidence. And while he is steady, he is also continually growing, changing, and striving to do and be better. I have watched him grow in grace as he seeks God, and it is humbling to journey through life with him. Today, and every day, I am thankful that God has blessed me with my husband.

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