Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 59: Help

Today I had to go into work earlier than I was expecting because of reasons that totally sucked.  I actually don't usually go in on Fridays, but I had scheduled an art-pickup for today and then had to be there earlier than worked for our schedule. 

Working part-time is a blessing for our family.  I have so very little to complain about, because what I have is exactly what I want.  However, when you work part-time it is very hard to figure out what to do with your kids in unexpected instances like today.  Because my mother-in-law watches my children two days a week simply out of the goodness that oozes out of her heart, I feel awful asking her at the last minute to take over while I run into work.  Because my husband actually gets paid to do a full time job, I can only ask him to "work from home" a limited number of times before it becomes questionable. 

But I am so lucky to have people that are willing to help.

Today I am thankful that I live close to family that is willing to help.

Raising kids is hard.  Might as well not do it alone.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 58: 5:00

Last night I fell asleep about the same time as Liam.  How do I know this?  Probably because I fell asleep in bed while tucking Liam in. 

So in truth, I probably fell asleep before Liam.

I wasn't feeling well, and I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before...there were a whole host of reasons.  Basically I was prepared to sleep the whole night through with no disruptions and no reason to get up.

And then 5:00 came.  Actually, 4:45 came, and along with that, a little 18 month old that suddenly decided his crib was the worst place to be in the whole wide world. 

Looking back, I was probably a tiny bit bitter. 

I made him cry.  I went in and patted him.  And then made him cry some more.  I made myself coffee and rocked him a little.  Then made him cry a little longer.  FINALLY at 5:05 after 20 minutes that felt like FIVE HOURS I went in and scooped him up.  Actually, "scooped" seems way too cheerful.  It was more of a thrust, or a grab perhaps.  Whatever it was, it wasn't as lovely and magical as "scooping".  I stumbled out to the living room with my coffee in one had and him in the other.  I sat down on the couch ready for the long-haul of the morning where I get nothing done and spend a lot of time trying to remember to breath.

But then there was a moment.  There, in the dark with my coffee and my son we had a moment - which is rare with the youngest.  He told me story after story that I didn't understand, and I nodded in agreement and asked questions that he pretended to answer.  Watching his lips move, seeing him point in earnest, and figure out expressions that are meaningful - that was my gift today. 

Today I am thankful for that hour I got to spend alone with my youngest son.

 It was way better than trying to figure out how I was going to edit the 483 photos that are sitting on my computer waiting for some attention (not even an exaggeration - you can come look if you want (but then I might trick you into watching my kids while I take a nap.))

Day 57: Green Day

This morning I was driving the long stretch of gross highway on my way to work and aimlessly flipping through the radio when I stumbled upon a Green Day song from many many moons ago.

I am not a Green Day fan.

But I once was.  So in honor of my 17 year old self I cranked of the radio and smiled warmly at how everything about this scene completely mirrored my morning drive to high school over 17 years ago.
  • The long stretch of highway.
  • The early morning winter sun.
  • Me a bit bleery eyed.
  • Grunge radio blaring out at me.
The only thing missing was a black Corsica with my little brother in the passenger seat.

Which made me think of high school.  Unlike about 80% of the population I wasn't completely miserable in high school all of the time.
But I'm really glad it's over.

Today I'm thankful that I get to be an adult.

Life is so much better when you grow up to realize that those things that left you insecure and restless don't really matter.  Learning to be my own person was worth the wait.  Experiencing life beyond high school is such a beautiful privilege and if I could give today's students one gift, it would be the premonition to see that.

Circa 1995
And the good fortune to know that someday they'll have their own family, and they don't have to make them wear matching polo shirts if they don't want to.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 56: Safety

Tonight I was in a daze and blew through a stop sign.  That is hard for me to write down on here, and I spent a considerable amount of time getting up the courage to write it.

Because it may not seem like much to some people, but it shook me to the core.  If I think too hard about it, it can turn my stomach.

It was such an irresponsible thing to do that could have cost me my life, or the life of someone else.  It's that simple. 

How often we do things that could go one way but end up silently retreating with no consequences. 

It reminded me of the times God protects me from myself or others.  The times others are protected from me.  I've lived a life that could have been cut short a number of times; more times than I can count.  And those are just the times I know about.  What about the times I think of as inconveniences, but are really just diverted close-calls?

Who was God protecting (besides me) today when I made a mistake?

Today I am thankful for the times I have been protected, or others have been protected from me.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 55: Reunions

I went away this weekend with my oldest son and what happened was a weekend filled with reunions - big and little.
  • A brief reunion with my parents, who collected Miles so that they could spend a special weekend with just him while I gallivanted around Northern Indiana like a college girl again.  
  • A weekend-long reunion with my college girlfriends - which resulted in eating too much and laughing too hard.  A time dedicated to connecting with the people who know every bit of what I've given to this world, and what this world has taken from me.  Solving all of our problems, and the world's through deep discussions, blatant sarcasm, and cuddling with each other's babies.  I miss these women when we are apart too long.
  • A reunion with my oldest son and my parents at the end of the weekend when I collected him and they treated me to breakfast.  Seeing my parents recharges my batteries and gives me permission to forget about being completely responsible for everything that surrounds me for two minutes.  And seeing Miles again after we both had spent the weekend doing our very favorite things, hearing about it all of the way home, and singing along to the radio even louder than we had on the way out to Indiana.
  • And finally, a reunion with the rest of my boys at home.  Oliver sitting on the couch waiting for me to kiss him before lying down for his nap, and Liam waking up bleary-eyed hours later - a look of excitement on his face - I don't think I've ever been greeted with such unabandoned joy in my life.  And of course my husband, who makes my heart slow down and relax the minute I can feel him next to me.

Today I am thankful for reunions.  

They are the medicine for my soul.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 54: One-on-one

Having three children can be difficult at times.  There are challenges that come with having more kids that hands and a line of babble that never stops.  There are times when I feel like I haven't spent enough time reading with my oldest, or playing with my middle, or holding and cuddling with my youngest.  There are conversations that are started and interrupted and questions that go unanswered because someone walked in with a request that came with more urgency.

In the midst of this there is something that I've decided is the absolute best thing about juggling three little ones at once; it is the sacred moments you get with just one. 

They are those special moments with just the two of you - a long distance car ride with uninterrupted conversation and loud karaoke sing-alongs.

Today I am thankful for the extra time I got to spend with my oldest.

Free of little brothers and ipads and cars and trucks = a few hours of getting to know my little boy on a different level. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 53: Safe Travels

The older and more into the throws of parenthood I get, the more I hate to travel by myself.  Yesterday I hopped in the car with Miles and we hit the road for four good hours.  We listened to CD's made by volunteers, CD's made by Sunday School teachers, and books on CD.

And eventually we arrived safe and whole.

Today I am thankful for safe travels.  

I find that arriving somewhere safely became so much more important to me when I had three little ones that I don't want to grow up without me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 52: Wind breaks

We have a very leaky window in our living room right now.  On windy days I can sit on our living room couch and actually feel the wind coming in and hitting me.

Yesterday was one of the windiest.

And as I was sitting there working on grades and emails and all sorts of boring things I don't want to write about, it occurred to me that I could more to another seat.  Heck, I could move to another couch.  Or to my cozy bed.

I have options.

Today I am thankful for the shelter that keeps me out of the wind.

This winter has been brutal, but somehow I am lucky enough to have a warm place to safely shelter my family from all that it has to offer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 51: Teaching Art

Sweet little Artist Miles many years ago.

After my lousy day yesterday I had a hard time sleeping last night.  Insomnia doesn't come to me often, but when it hits, I usually know what I need to do.  Sometimes it's as simple as a glass of water. Sometimes it's opening my book back up for a few minutes reading.  Sometimes it's getting up and fixing a cup of tea and then sitting down with a pen and paper to write out exactly what I need to do the next day to make myself feel better. 

Today it was getting some concrete things accomplished and tweaked so that I could go into the next few days confidently. 

Something important about today...

Today I taught my first Art Lesson.  With some encouraging from my mother I approached the public library and asked if they would let me teach art lessons there.  I had no idea who would take said lessons.  I had no idea if they would say "yes".  I had no idea if it was something I would know how to do after years of being away from the elementary classroom.  (Was I ever in the elementary classroom?)

As 9 eager 3rd and 4th graders sat down in the library basement I instantly got excited about what the next hour would hold.  They asked questions, and answered my questions.  They weren't afraid to be creative and quirky.  This huge leap of faith ended up being incredibly refreshing and energizing. 

It was exactly what I needed on a day like today - preceded by a day that was frustrating, lodged into a week of unmet expectations. 

Today I am thankful that I took this chance.

I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but if the first day is any indication, I have a lot to look forward to.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 50: Laughter

Today was a really bad day for me.  One of those days where you feel like everyone has shoveled all of your insecurities into a big honkin' pile and put a sign by it that shouts "She doesn't have a clue what she's doing!"

It was brutal, and disheartening, and lead to me thinking about how I've just fallen back into traps I thought I had outsmarted a long time ago. 

So tonight I have been wracking my brain thinking of something to be thankful for.  But then I remembered this moment from this morning in the car. 

And it all melted away.

For at least 56 seconds.

Today I am thankful for light-hearted moments.

They break the really terrible, very bad days into small fractions of what they once were.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 49: Birth

Today I am thankful for a new niece, Emari Nicole.

 She's only been here less than a day, and she's already accomplished so much.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 48: Snow

Liam and me digging a maze in our front yard.
Last night when I heard rumor of a snow storm coming today I felt a little giddy.

I'm totally aware that this is not popular, but I am seriously loving this snow.
Even after rushing to work this morning so that I could transfer a cart of artwork from one building to another before the snow hit, only to have to navigate said cart through swirling crazy blizzard-like air - sacrificing my own warm down coat to cover precious artwork - even after that I still love it.
Even after being kicked off campus after only being there for two hours when I really needed 10 to get everything done today, AND having my class canceled for the third time this semester, ruining most of my lesson plans - even then I love it.
And even when I have to chisel the sheet of ice from my windows and drive 35 mph on the highway all of the way home - even then I love the snow.

These are words I never thought I'd hear come out of my mouth.  I've spent a lifetime loathing the snow - every year giving it the official unvitation as soon as January hit.  I've wasted a lot of nasty and hateful words in my past - directed at the snow and all of the turmoil it brought to my life.

And this is honestly the most snow I ever remember seeing in my entire 34 years of living on planet earth.  It's almost laughable.  Just when it starts to get dirty and drippy, a new blanket of the fluff descends upon us, freshening the clean white palette.  I mean, can any of you actually believe how much snow is out there right now?  I'm pretending I live in a fabulous Scandinavian country...

I'm giddy just picturing it.

I'm honestly not sure what has changed.
I think it's a mixture of how pretty it is to look at from my warm house, or that my boys are now old enough to play in it, or how the blanket of white softens all sound so you suddenly feel secluded yet cocooned at the same time.

Today I am thankful for the snow.

I know it's not the popular opinion....

But haters gonna hate.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 47: Worship

Today was one of those days at church when you remember why you get up every Sunday morning after getting up every other morning that week and go off to do something that isn't required, or even expected of you.  Today was the type of day that reminds you why you wrestle with your one year old to put on socks and your five year old to brush his hair while your husband lies in bed with the flu.  It reminds you why, even when you're tempted to give up and climb back into bed, knowing your kids would not know the difference, you instead make them all brush their teeth, pour yourself a coffee to-go and climb through your tundra of a yard to get to your car. 

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to worship in a congregation of my choosing.

My faith has never been forced on me.  I had excellent Christian role models growing up - people that modeled love over everything and who showed me what it is like to live a life of love and acceptance - of inclusion. 
And because of that my faith has formed into something similar.  And because of ALL OF THIS I am able to belong to a church where I feel comfortable and loved and people I want to walk alongside this adventure.

Today was a great day to be a member of my church. 

I feel lucky to have been there.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 46: Getting It.

Sometimes I completely drop my guard and start confessing about the things I really struggle with as a mother.  It's not pretty, this confessing, and it certainly isn't something I'm proud of. 
These moments of weakness are usually summoned by someone's listening ear, the leaning in of shoulders and knowing nodding heads.

It is in these moments I can go one of two directions, and my decision can result in one of two reactions. 

In the worst of moments I say too much, receive too little, and leave feeling like I've just given something of myself that I can never get back.

In the best of moments I still say too much, but there is someone there receiving it that understands, and commiserates, and says I have been there girl.

Today I am thankful for connections with people who GET IT.

...and those people who  offer themselves up for that connection.

Those are the people who make this struggling girl know that she is not alone in her fears.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 45: A Day for Love

It's no secret I love Valentine's Day.  I love it even more now that I have kids.  I love the colors, the message of love, the little tiny valentines.

I'm starting to realize through writing on this blog that I generally just love holidays - any excuse to celebrate.

Today I am thankful for celebrations.

I love the happiness and togetherness celebrations evoke - the warmth of belonging to something fun and celebratory.
Tonight I had a very romantic Valentine's Day dinner planned with my four valentines - complete with heart shaped tortilla pizzas, red sparkly juice (wine for me - don't kid yourself), candlelight, and  the soundtrack from Frozen being played in the background the whole time.  Of course, nothing went perfectly.  The cookies we made earlier tasted like hollow cardboard and the scavenger hunt had multiple clues that had gone missing in the 2 hours since I had hidden them.  Miles found the presents long before he was supposed to, and during our candlelight dinner all anyone wanted to do was turn the lights on the whole time. I went to upload the pictures I had taken of all of the festivities only to discover I had never put a memory card into my camera.  And because I just wanted it to be over so we could congregate in front of the t.v. with popcorn and a movie, we didn't play a single game I had slaved over.

Still worth it.  Still fun.  Still learning.

Happy Love Day friends.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 44: Long Distance

I'm convinced my life is much better and less lonely than it would have been had I been this person, this age, many years ago.

I think it is because the people I love from far away are so accessible, which wasn't the case when I first got married and moved away from everyone I loved over 11 years ago.

That winter was snowy and cold as well.  I was jobless and lonely.  What I would've given for a Skype conversation with my best friend or my Mom or even some person I barely knew, but looked somewhat familiar because they were also a Buckeye at heart.

I love Skype and Facebook and Texting.  Today I was able to have have "conversations" with my Brother in North Carolina, my Mom in Ohio, an Aunt in Ohio, a another friend in Northern Ireland.  I can send out a message and instantly have answers and updates from the people I love on the other side of the globe. 

Today I am thankful for technology.

I, like everyone else, have a love/hate relationship with it.  But for today I'm going to focus on the love part - the part that makes my life so fantastic at times. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 43: A Crowd

Last night was a restless night in our home.  Oliver woke up multiple times during the night, which is so unlike him.  In fact, there were points throughout the night that everyone woke.  How might I know this?

In the early hours of the morning I woke up absolutely smothered between two little boys in flannel pajamas and toasty warm feet. My back was sore, and I couldn't roll over off my side, but I had only positively warm thoughts of my crowded bed - a little strange since I find the empty spacious bed to be SACRED.

Today I am thankful for a crowded bed.

I complain about my kids driving me crazy all of the time.  When we first became parents I was terrified of co-sleeping and what it would progress into.  Before I had kids I had firm boundaries and limitation.  Before I had kids I knew an awful lot about what my life was going to look like after I had kids.

The "awful lot" I knew was all wrong.

It turns out letting your kids climb into bed with you is delicious, and letting them watch a little television during the week is divine.  Toys don't stay in the toy box, not even after you put them in there five times that day - not even after they put them in there five times a day.  "Cute" tennis shoes aren't easy for them to put on themselves, and sweatpants really are the most comfortable thing to wear on cold winter days. Combing their hair before shoving on a stocking cap is overrated, and there are times you won't notice the Nutella smeared across their face until they turn around to wave at you on their way in to school.  I'm not above bribery and negotiation is my middle name.  Kleenex is for wussies and pajamas don't have to match.  Socks don't have to match.  Entire outfits don't have to match.

So I didn't really know much about being a parent, except I did get one thing right....

I knew I would really love it.

And this morning lying in a crowded bed I remembered why.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 42: Library

Since we've moved home I tend to spend a lot of time thinking of ways to make this little town we live in better.  I find myself thinking that there is so much untapped potential in so many places that it practically keeps me up at night. 

It's a sickness to care this much about what could be.

So I thought I would focus on what it has done right.

Today I am thankful for our public library.

I am not lying when I say I go there practically every day.  The librarians know me by name, and my kids seem to think they own the place.  It is an amazing source for books (who woulda thought?). I've never had a book I couldn't either find there, or have delivered there for no cost.  They have a huge selection of DVDs to rent, including new releases, (for free). They have this amazing story time for preschool kids that includes the making of a cute little craft.  It's a warm place for Miles and I to hide out and read books after we've dropped Liam off and are waiting to go back to school in the afternoon.  There are classes galore that all sound interesting and maybe someday I'll actually get to engage in.  AND they have coffee.  Seriously - it's like Starbucks meets Barnes and Noble meets my grandma's living room.

It is absolutely my favorite thing about living where I live right now.  I love the ladies that work there, and can't think of any time the library has let me down.  (They even have the cleanest sidewalks in town - which is a HUGE deal for me this winter.)

This is ending up sounding like a commercial for our public library, but I promise they aren't paying me anything for this.  (They just promised me free movies and books - oh wait, you mean they do that for everyone?! snap.)  (And who would seriously pay to advertise on here anyway?)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 41: Ordinary

Tonight on my way home from work I was trying to think of what I would write about on here for my Year of Gratitude.

I really had some trouble.

In the words of my little son Liam at bedtime prayers every night, "I just don't know what I'm thankful for."
Today wasn't a rotten day, and nothing bad happened.  It was just a busy day that equaled a lot of me running around and not a lot of me being present and in the moment.  It felt sort of like a day from my former life, but with less brow furrowing and more it will get done when it gets done.

So I wasn't feeling particularly reflective or introspective tonight on my 20 minute drive home and mad dash through Aldi's.

But maybe that's okay.

Today I am thankful for a productive and ordinary day.

Sometimes the quietness of ordinary is lovely.

And often we take the ordinary days - the days where not much happens besides living - for granted.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 40: The Nap

When I was in college I had to train myself to nap.  I wasn't the type of high schooler to fall asleep on the couch in my parents' living room, or to even sleep in much on the weekends.  I don't know how old I was when I gave up naps, but based on information I've been given about my childhood, I would guess that it quite early. Even in my early years of college I wasn't one to nap.  I could stay up until the wee hours of the morning, get up for class the next day, and still opt out of a nap. 

Naps were so rare, that I still remember the moments I finally allowed myself to give in to the idea of an afternoon nap.  It was just the most outstanding feeling I had ever had.  It was fall in Chicago and I was doing my student teaching.  It was a rare warm Sunday afternoon and I had packed up my books and some coffee into my backpack and headed out to a neighborhood park that jutted out onto Lake Michigan.  I remember throwing a blanket on the ground, lying on my stomach and rather than pulling out my textbooks and lesson plans, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to drift off.  It was completely unplanned, but something that was so magical that I still think about today.

For years after that naps were still something I opted out of.  I often felt worse after I woke up from them, and I had trouble just falling asleep out in the open. My husband would fall asleep everywhere and I would eye him with jealous on week nights at 6:30 while he dozed on the couch as though he had absolutely no obligations.

Having kids changed everything.

I am just seriously tired all of the time.  Naps are amazing ways for me to remember that I can be alive again after a particularly hard day. 
And the weekend afternoon nap - SHUT. UP.
 I've started climbing up into my son's top bunk to sleep during their quiet time, and kicking him out into my bedroom for the allotted two hours I make them stay in bed.  The beauty of this is that when they get up and play earlier than I'm ready to, they totally forget I'm even in the house and go about their business without waking me up to ask if I remember what Mater said yesterday in the book we read on our way to the shop at 7:34 in the morning when we were buying milk. Or if I can get them food.

Today I am thankful for a good solid nap.

To feel revived and refreshed when you still have half a day in front of you is something pretty spectacular. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 39: These two

Tonight I went out on a birthday date with two very dear friends from my days of teaching high school art.
When I say "very dear" I don't just use it like these are people I enjoy having wine and food with.  I mean more like, these are the people who helped me breath and survive AND the people I enjoy having wine and food with.
Where do I even begin?

How about with "yes".  They are the yes people in my life.  Not just yes, but HELL YESSSSSSSSS people.  When I started my MFA, they were my biggest cheerleaders.  In fact, they were such big fans that one decided to live with me in San Francisco for an entire summer while I lugged around a giant large format camera and complained about how much everything cost. Six years ago when I opened an art gallery and wine bar one said "Not without me you don't" and the other said "I'll be there every Friday even if I'm the only one."  When I brought home my first baby they cheered.  When I was pregnant with my second they guessed before I could muster up the courage to tell them.  When I moved away they cried and celebrated for me.  While I was gone one was my most loyal correspondent while the other struggled through things I couldn't help her with from far away.  When I came home we all picked up where we left off, but with a little more wear and tear in our lives.

We've survived through job changes, divorce, separation, babies, puppies, cancer, Las Vegas, brokenness, wholeness, poorness, and richness.

Today I am thankful for THEM.

My life is different because of them.  My life is fuller because of them.  My life is more adventurous because they're in it cheering me on and telling me yes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 38: Work

Today I had to go into work and take care of one of those Plan Bs I had written about last week. You know, the ones that have taken over my life since this is the winter that just won't stop? 
Then I got to change into a fancy dress in the luxurious community college public restroom before running off to a gala where my husband won a fancy award for being awesome at his job.

It's been an interesting day of wishing I was at home in my stretchy pants watching t.v. while hoping that everything I had to do outside of home went smoothly.

I've been a little anxious about how this one event I've been planning for work would go.  There was inclement weather last week, forcing us to cancel, forcing everything to change and become complicated before my very eyes.

Today I am thankful for the people I work with.

They are kind and helpful.  They are forgiving and teaching.  They are "yes" people.  For that I am thankful.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 37: Neighborhood

I've mentioned it before; I never intended to move to a small town.  There are times when I wonder if this is the best fit for our family, and if we need to be in places that offer different experiences, but I don't regret being here, in the smallest of small towns, at all.

Yesterday we were tucked away again in yet another snow day - the millionth one of 2014.  But you won't hear me complain.  Okay, maybe I will complain a tiny bit because I actually really needed to go into work and do some things.  But nothing that couldn't wait in the scheme of things.

I think part of me actually missed snow while we were gone...and an excuse to stay in my stretchy pants all day.

Earlier yesterday morning the boys went out to play with their Dad in drifts of snow piled on top of already large piles of snow.  At one point I looked out the window and say them playing with the neighbors - running down the sidewalk next to an empty street full of snow.  And I felt so happy.

Today I am thankful we moved to a small town.

The neighbors are friendly.  The neighborhood is safe.  We can walk everywhere we want to go.  Right now, at this moment, it is the best fit for our family..

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 36: My Dad

My Dad at 26 - Shockingly hard to find a casual picture of him with a shirt on during this era.
When I was 22 my Dad made me get a new car.  Correction - a new to me car. Up until that point I was driving an old black Chevrolet Corsica that my parents had purchased for me with the agreement that I would use it to drive my younger brothers wherever they needed to go, and myself to a job at Tiny's Dairy Barn. 

I really liked that car, and couldn't understand why my Dad suddenly thought I needed to buy a new car with my own money that cost more than twice as much as my beloved Corsica had.  It was swiftly replaced by a Honda Accord that was a pretty nice consolation prize, and that I kept until the day I watched it drive away down my in-laws driveway.  It's a pretty weepy story you can read HERE.  Have tissues handy.

After I got married I spent many of our beginning years complaining about our car.  About how the Corsica had never run out of air in the tires.  The Corsica never had engine trouble.  The Corsica never leaked oil. 

It turns out The Corsica did all those things and I just didn't know it.  What I failed to remember is that The Corsica stranded me a number of times before cell phones were a thing that people carried around in their purse - one of which was (luckily) in front of a payphone on the toll road in the middle of the day when my dad had to leave work to come rescue me.  Allegedly, the Corisca had an entire engine replaced.  Allegedly, The Corsica wasn't awesome at all.

My Dad was.

Today is my Dad's 60th birthday and I hope as I write this he is being showered with lovely cards written by the people he has touched over the years. 

Today I am thankful for my Dad.

The reason my car seemed so perfect is because my Dad took such good care of it without me even realizing it.  The reason I had an safe and loving childhood is because he, along with my Mother, created that. The reason I could call him for help in the middle of the day when I was stranded on the side of the road next to a random payphone on the interstate was because he had written down every single one of the possible phone numbers where he could be reached onto a piece of paper and had stuck it in my wallet. 
He is the reason I can change my own oil and dribble a basketball between my legs.  The reason I love movies and rollerskating.

I think if everyone was lucky enough to have parents as lovely as mine, then there would be a lot more love in the world. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 35: Special Delivery

This week has been filled with special surprise deliveries for me and my family.  A combination of my birthday and just having incredibly thoughtful people in our lives has lead to awesomeness coming at us almost every day via the mailman.

Last week it came in the form of a few care packages from people I love very much.
Yesterday it came in the form of fancy tea and an electric kettle that takes me back to Northern Ireland.
Today it came in the form of a simple but thoughtful birthday gift, and then a huge surprise of dress up clothes and transportation books packed along with RED VELVET M&Ms.  Sweet goodness.

Today I am thankful for these signs that people are thinking of us. 

I feel loved.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 34: Reliving

Yesterday we shared about our experience in Northern Ireland in front of our home church.  It was the first time I had talked about it on an open stage to people who knew me before my experience and after.  It could have been stressful and worrisome, but it was fun and relaxed.
People listened attentively and acted interested. 
There was head nodding and encouraging smiles.
It was exactly the audience I would have wanted to have listen to me talk about something so dear to my heart.

Dustin wrote out our talk before we actually shared it. 

If you must know the most simple way in which we are so very different, this sort of sums it up:
In his version there were about three pages of History and 1 paragraph of feelings.
My version was very much the opposite.

When someone asks me to share my experience in 40 minutes or less I can't help but feel cheated. It becomes incredibly emotional for me. 

But at the same time, I do realize that most people don't want to hear the 40+ minute version.  Nobody has time for that. (If you do, call me - we'll go out for coffee.  I promise to ask you questions too.)

Perhaps the reason it becomes so emotional is because it is starting to get dream-like.  We were here, then we were there, now we're here again. 

Did it really happen?

How did the rain feel when it hit my face?

How long until I forget?

The soft whisper of the Croi - I can barely remember.

But I held it together. I talked about Peace Walls and Ray Davey.  I joked about tea trolleys and art activities. 

But then at the very end Dustin had stuck this picture in...

And I just couldn't talk.

Because I miss them, and others like them.  And this was my experience.  

Today I am thankful that I got to relive those emotions.

Even though it makes me sad, it is a feeling.  A very real feeling. Proof that I was there.  Proof that I loved.  Proof that it happened.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 33: Super Bowl

Today I did something I haven't done in almost three years - I watched the Superbowl.

Of course, I use the term "watched" loosely.  Anyone who was there could make the argument that I just ate a lot of food and talked about how amazing Red Hot Chili Peppers were.

I would be lying if I said I was a football fan.  Besides the television series, Friday Night Lights, and the drumming of a good pep band in my chest laced with the smell of popcorn and hot chocolate, I really have no attachment to this weekend ritual.

As I told my sister-in-law tonight...I'm going for the tacos.

It's one of those things that is distinctly American and you don't really realize it until you're not living in America.  I remember the some of the volunteers sort of getting geared up for the game, and us trying to explain what makes it fun even if you don't follow football.  I remember actually telling someone that I wanted to make some traditional Superbowl snacks for the game, but didn't know how to because their country didn't have Velveeta.

Have you been to a Superbowl party without Velveeta used in at least one dish?

Today I am thankful for the small nuances that remind me of home.

Whether it's the Superbowl, or authentic Mexican food, or a good Velveeta dish...there are things I do love about living here.

And P. S. Anthony Kiedis KILLED IT at halftime.

That is all. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Day 32: Plan B

This winter has been filled with altered plans, cancelled plans, and postponed plans.  Plan B has been brought into action multiple times this weekend alone, and yesterday afternoon at work I even had to move on to a Plan C.

My younger self would have gone absolutely nuts.  I hated staying in, hated cancelled plans, and a snow day on the weekend felt like a jail sentence.

Now it feels like a free pass.

A free pass to breath in and out.
A free pass to watch a movie at 11:00 in the morning with my kids.
A free pass from showering or combing my hair.
A free pass from running errands and getting groceries.
A free pass from obligations I didn't even realize I wasn't looking forward to.
A free pass to take a long afternoon nap.

Today I am thankful for Plan B.

It's not always convenient, but for some reason it often comes at the right times.