Wednesday, October 31, 2012

30 Days of Thanksgiving (day 8)

Today happens to be the day that the majority of people we know are participating in something we don't. And it's a day that I am very thankful we get to make that choice. It isn't a popular one, because a good number of people take our non-participation as personal "judgment" against their decision ... but that's just the unfortunate by-product that we see taking a "side" on anything popular. I've come to expect it, and it *almost* doesn't bother me anymore.

Tonight, however, after a very slim turnout for Bible class (it's very upsetting to me, but I'm going to hold my tongue), we came home and built a fire in our backyard fire pit. The girls pulled a big blanket out and we sat around the crackling fire roasting hot dogs and then marshmallows. If you asked my girls how their Halloween was, they would say it was the "best Halloween EVER". In fact, they did say that to us many, many times. Thankfulness that my children have learned how to find joy outside of  "the norm" abounds tonight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

30 Days of Thanksgiving (day 7)

Nothing will make you realize the frailty of life like a major scare. We've had two this year. The first was in May, when Levi was born 9 weeks early almost 13 hours away from us. The second was last night, as Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy set her sights on the mid-Atlantic coastline, making landfall dangerously close to our "kids" in Baltimore. It was not easy going to sleep last night knowing what they were in for, but as with Levi's birth and the weeks in the NICU that followed, we knew it did no good to worry and fret. All we could do is pray for God's hand to be on them ... and leave it at that.

He has certainly heard our pleas in both cases and answered with a flourish. Levi is thriving and right on track for weight (and almost with height ... he is a short, squatty little guy) despite his tiny and fragile start, and last night their little family was spared any damage or even loss of power. This is one of those nights that I am definitely just thanking God that He will handle the cares of our hearts as faithfully as He does.

I'm thankful I don't have to worry.

30 Days of Thanksgiving (days 4,5, and 6)

This past weekend I have willingly given up use of the computer (and the room it is kept in) as hubby and I hosted his dad for a few days. The two of them took a motorcycle day trip a few hours away to an Army retiree's appreciation day, and I stayed home with the girls. They had a blast, and I got a few wife and daughter-in-law points for letting "the boys" go play. Well, maybe.

At any rate, the last few days has made me thankful that God has brought me to a place in my life that I'm not so insecure. NO, I'm not boasting. I'm just saying that there was a time not so long ago that I would have been furious if hubby DARED to do anything that didn't include me. Now? Well, now I'm not that person anymore. I might have shocked a year or two off of my poor father-in-law's life span by suggesting they go without me ... but it's time he wouldn't have gotten with his son otherwise. I'm glad to give that gift to them. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

30 Days of Thanksgiving (day 3)

Have you ever thought to be thankful for pain and exhaustion? Me neither, but today as I drove home from spending a few hours at the pumpkin patch with the girls, I realized that they are both sort of a blessing. Can you imagine how dangerous life would be without pain? Not chronic pain (I have that too, and I'm still working on how to be thankful for it), but the temporary, has-an-obvious-reason pain that comes with injury or illness?

Without pain you would never know to slow down because your body can't handle something. Without pain, you might never know you needed medical attention. Without pain, you could likely work yourself to death. Without exhaustion, same thing. They are the body's speed bumps and stop signs. They tell us to stop or to at the very least, slow down and rest. As much as we all detest having our plans sidetracked, sometimes we need it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

30 Days of Thanksgiving (day 2)

I promised myself I wasn't going to make up something cutesy and profound just to make an impressive blog post, so today, I'm going with this:
Yes, I'm actually going to say it "out loud", and put it out there for the entire world to see. This is one of those days that you lay your head down in bed just thankful that it's over.

And I am.


That it's over.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Days of Thanksgiving (day 1)

This morning, I needed a little bit of a break from the debate chatter on the news and on Facebook, so I decided to do a little catching up here and there in blogdom while the girls read and played and wrote out their own versions of "recipes" (that's about all of the creativity I can get out of Jamie some days, so I run with it). While I was trying to avoid a few anti-homeschooling articles that I came across, I stumbled upon Homeschoolin' Mama's 31 Days of Thanks blogfest ... and it hit me like a year-old fruitcake. There are THIRTY days until Thanksgiving. One month! YIKES! Ya know, no matter how well-planned I try to make my calendar out to be, no matter how on-top of things I seem, November still sneaks up on me EVERY year. Thanksgiving isn't the scary part of the holidays for most people. No, most of us have our anxiety attacks over the chaos that ensues the day after the grand feast, and for the four weeks (give or take) that follow. And yes, every single one of us has said, probably at least once every other year that we are definitely not "doing that again". But we do. Every year.

I would love, love, LOVE to find a way to break this crazy cycle. I'm sure the mystery of a stress-free holiday lies right up there with curing the common cold, though. Everybody knows that the best medicine is prevention.

Sigh ...

Oh well. I guess sometimes the best we can do is to try to refocus our minds before the chaos hits us and hope to goodness that something 'clicks' in our brain to keep us from getting caught up in the insanity. I suppose that's one of the beauties of Thanksgiving. What ridiculous irony that the lead-in to the most stressful  month on the calendar is a day set aside to give thanks for the blessings we are going to obsess over and pitch hissy fits about for weeks to come?

This year at our house is an odd one. For the first time, both of our older children will be absent--one in a foreign country with a rifle by his side, the other with her husband and baby boy in their new home hundreds of miles away from ours. Our daughter-in-law is here in town near us, but this is no "normal" holiday season for her either. If there is anything I remember vividly from my days as an Army wife, it's that deployments change everything. Nonetheless, we still have five little ones at home who are looking forward to the excitement of the holidays, so we will do what we have done in years past--we will make the best of what we have. That brings me to the entire point of this blog post. I am going to try to spend this next thirty days focusing on my gratitude. NOT just for the obvious stuff, like health, children, material prosperity, a full pantry, etc.; no--I want to redirect my own thoughts to being grateful for something that normally gets under my skin. It's said that if you can do something for thirty days, it becomes a habit. Maybe I can prevent at least some of the holiday crazies by reprogramming myself? We shall see.

~DAY 1~
Probably foremost on many peoples' minds right now, especially with the election coming up in just two weeks and so much being repeated to nauseating degrees all over the media is the subject of our economy. Let's be honest for a minute--I don't know of anyone who is "better off" than they were four years ago. Shoot, I don't know many people who are better off than they were LAST year. Most people I know are struggling just to keep their head above water, or to be able to afford to put gas in the car. Extras are not exactly forthcoming. We ourselves had planned on taking a family vacation this year finally, since the girls have never been on one that didn't involve going to visit someone, but things are just not working out. We *hope* to be able to have our heads above water to be able to afford it sometime next year, but that seems like decades away right now. So what all is to be grateful for in this mess?
Perspective is a biggie, as is being forced to REALLY take stock in what is important to us. Our kids will not have thousands of dollars of toys under the tree this year. They never really do, but this year is definitely going to be lean. There is just no wiggle room in the budget for frivolity. But you know what? That is actually a good thing. It is forcing us to really examine what we do and why we do it with regard to just about every detail of life. And when we examine it, when we take a really good, hard look at the life we are living now, we have realized just how good we have it. We aren't just blessed; we are RICH. What's almost pathetic is that I have sat down and thought about what we would buy for our girls "if money were no object" and there really isn't much I have come up with that they don't already have! No, our children don't have a TV in their room ... but then again, neither do we. There is only one TV in the entire house, and in all honesty I would love to disconnect the DirecTV from it so we aren't saddled with the bill OR the temptation to watch too much garbage. No, our girls don't have iStuff. And they won't, either, as long as we can help it. No, there aren't many designer labels in the mountain of clothing that fills the girls' bedroom. I don't see the point. They are all well-dressed (when they want to bother matching their clothes, that is), and the heaps of laundry are testament to just how well-clothed they are. What do you "get" for the child who has everything (that their parents will allow)? So what's the point of fretting over outdoing what we did for them last year?
This economy, and the financial strain everyone seems to be under, has made us realize that we just can't give our children the one thing we wish we could. At least not until the economy starts looking up. I wish we could have their grandparents closer so they could be a bigger part of their lives. Now that Pete and I are grandparents we are realizing all the more just how much our older kids missed out on. We are grateful that all of their grandparents are still around--we just want to do a better job as we can of being around them.
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