Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Day 11 - My girl Friday

This is my last year as the mother of a preschooler. Ever. (Sob!) And it's a stolen year, at that. According to her birthday, Clara was supposed to start Kindergarten this fall, but after sending on three other children with late birthdays we finally learned our lesson and let her repeat her 4-year-old year at preschool. And for once, it wasn't a difficult decision. The Man and I both agreed she wasn't ready.  And neither was I.

Clara's preschool is only four days a week so for one more year I get a little friend to hang out with on Fridays.  This is a really special time for me. The days themselves are pretty mundane; we snuggle on the couch for a while then plan out our day and run errands. Sometimes we go have lunch with Ben or--brace yourself--clean the house. She's a great errand buddy and we both cherish the opportunity to spend time together "just the two of us." Which is not to say that she never slows me down or has a tantrum or gets whiny or talks and talks and talks until I suddenly declare it naptime. She does. But I've been through this before when the older kids, now teenagers, were young and I know that peace and quiet can be overrated. (Someone remind me of that bit of wisdom when I'm pulling my hair out around 7PM some night this week.)

I know that next year when I can sit on the sofa with my coffee on Fridays and watch The Today Show instead of UmiZoomi, and I can run all those errands twice-as-fast and in silence, I will miss her terribly. So for today, I am thankful for this last year of Fridays with my girl and for the wisdom to cherish it.

And, who am I kidding, for naptime too.

Princess Clara, one Friday during errands. Eating lunch at the carwash


And I know I didn't blog yesterday. I only made it 10 days into my 30 day challenge. But that's OK. Yesterday, I was thankful for a warm house, and blankets and slippers on a beautiful cold fall day. And for grace when I need it (and I always need it.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Day 9 - A List

Today I am thankful...

For a few beautiful warm fall days, to play outside and wear my flip-flops again.

For children in my home who are still young enough to squeal with joy when the Ta rget Christmas toy catalog comes in the mail.

For a wonderful partner-in-crime at work who totally gets me. And who knows that somedays I'm a little bit grumpy when I have no reason to be, and doesn't hold it against me. (And who does all the talking for me when I'm losing my voice.)

For rhythm sticks and praise music with preschoolers, which could be the best cure for the grumpies ever.

For a best friend who calls just to tell me that she misses me.

For Wednesday night Gilmore Girls with Ally, even if it only happens once a month these days.

For clean sheet night.

And for giving myself permission to write this post in a list so I can go to bed early.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratutude Day 8 - The Man

I'm not sure that November was the right month to take up blogging again. I feel a little as if I'm loosing my mind. I sit here every night and try to think of a positive way to spin the ways I've fallen short every day. I guess that's sort-of the point though, isn't it?  Stopping at the end of day to remember how blessed I really am, even when it feels like I'm being held together with prayer and duct tape. And too much caffeine.

Today I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful that when I left the house looking like it had been it by a natural disaster this morning that he didn't say a thing about it. That he never has. I'm thankful that tonight he took Ben to Taekwondo, and picked up a missing ingredient for my dinner while he was out. Then when I started cooking and I discovered the meat from the grocery store was bad, he went out again to exchange it. And when we finally ate dinner at 8:00 and I whined he noticed that I was dead on my feet, he cleaned the kitchen and put the kids to bed.

I know these do not seem like huge things. But, I know from the days when he is not here what a blessing they are. At the end of a day when I felt like I really didn't have it together, it was such a gift to have him here to fill in the big freakin' holes gaps. And maybe even more of a  blessing that he pretended not to notice they were there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude Day 7 - Counting up

As Ally and I like to say, today was a Monday kind of day. So my thanks are short and sweet tonight.

I am thankful that this dear girl made it into the 100 club.

Or more specifically that there is such a thing as the 100 club, because when she finally counted to 100 last night (after a year of trying) she couldn't sleep with the excitement of showing her teacher this morning. And I'm thankful that I work at her preschool so I got to see her walking around school all day with a medal on her chest and a grin on her face.

And Chick-fil-a, tonight I am also grateful for you.. On days like this, when The Man is gone and I have more places to be than minutes to get there, the fact that my children prefer your food to my cooking actually comes in quite handy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 - Easy like Sunday Morning?

What is it about Sunday Mornings? Yesterday I made a point to wash the outfit I wanted Clara to wear for church and lay it out on her dresser to make it easier this morning. But somehow between that moment and the one where I told her to go get dressed this morning, the skirt disappeared.  Presumably while she was "cleaning" her room. I tore her room apart looking for it and never found it. (I did however find my missing reading glasses and a meat thermometer. No joke.)

And actually for a Sunday morning that was a pretty minor hiccup. Last week, my clock decided to make the time change on it's own a week early and I had 20 minutes to get us all 5 of us out the door. Nearly every week someone looses something, or spills something, or I'm running out to the car with my make-up in one hand in my shoes in another. One week The Man actually left me behind. I walked out the door to join the family in the van and saw it driving down the road. The Man said it was a miscommunication.

I'm still not convinced.

And nearly every Sunday a voice in my head whispers, we could just stay home. We could keep our pajamas on, snuggle up on the couch and watch it online. But we don't. We muddle through the wretched Sunday morning round-up week after week because I love my church.

I love worshiping in the choir next to Ally, even if they do insist on putting my face on that gigantic screen. (Seriously, camera-guy? Ally is way cuter.) I love seeing all the kids I've had in choir or preschool over the years. I love my little 1-year-old Sunday School Class. I love the passion my pastor has for reaching out to people in our community. I even love getting teary every single week during his message. My church isn't perfect. It's full of flawed people with messy lives just like me. But despite of that--or maybe because of it--it feels like home.

And today that's what I'm grateful for.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude - Day 5

Over the last couple weeks months years our lives have become this crazy dance of divide and conquer.  You take this kid here, I'll take this one here, and if we're lucky we can meet up for dinner. Weekends as a time of rest and reconnection have pretty much gone by the wayside. And as much as I know that this is just part of this season in our life, I hate it. Hate it. So today I am exceedingly grateful for the gift of a Saturday with absolutely nothing on our calendar. I was positively giddy going to bed last night, just anticipating it.

And what did I do with my free day?  Slept in late. Did a half-a-dozen loads of laundry. Took Clara to get a haircut from my sweet sister-in-law. Started a new book (passed on from said sister-in-law.) Went to dinner with the family. Played a board game. Just proving that even the simplest things really are gifts.

And the second thing I am grateful today is, ironically, this blog. As I mentioned yesterday, I have spent some time this week wandering through it's dusty achives, and goodness gracious did I ever ramble on? But in those lengthy ramblings I  discovered a treasure trove of things I had completely forgotten. Funny things The Littles said and did. Videos of first steps. Pictures with anecdotes I never would have remembered. Last night, The Man and I were up til 1AM reading and watching and laughing and getting teary. It's amazing how hard it is to hold on to memories from just a few years ago.

I don't know if I'll continue blogging after this month.  I'd love to--although not daily--but the privacy thing is still an issue, and I simply can't manage to figure out how to get sleep and blog at the same time. But I am thankful that at least for a couple of years I took the time to document it all. The messy, the funny and the sweet.

Especially the sweet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Day 4 - How far we've come...

This afternoon I went to Ben's conference at school. It went well. His writing is, as we knew, still a good bit below grade level. His reading, however, is way above grade level and in every other area he is exceeding the curve. And his teacher was gushing. He's bright. Well behaved. Lots of friends. Great critical thinker. Loves to read. A leader.

And I just sat there with a big stupid grin on my face.

Just last week, as I was making the decision to reopen this blog, I read this angst filled post, written two-and-a-half years ago about a very different Ben. He was half way through his four-year-old year in preschool and I was beside myself with worry about whether he was ready to move onto kindergarten the next year. Ultimately we sent him on, and no, he wasn't ready. He had a difficult year followed by a 2nd year in kindergarten at another school (the best decision we ever made for him.)

And now, in 1st grade, nearly all of the concerns that consumed me then have been resolved. He's still a picky eater and packing lunches is still a challenge, but the feeding progress we have made has been phenomenal. And the other things I wrote about in the post, I had honestly forgotten were even an issue. That astounds me. I cried tears, lots of them, over my sweet boy and his development and until I read that post I hardly even remembered it.

So thank you Lord, for a great conference. And for the reminder this week of where we once were, and how many prayers have already been answered.  As I look at the obstacles my family is facing right now, I can't think of a better encouragement..

And secondly, I am thankful that when The Littles and I were at the mall today (On November 4th!) AND SANTA WAS THERE, I managed to refrain from asking him if he could at least wait until my pumpkin rotted before he showed his snowy-white face. Even if I did think it.

That's progress, folks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Day 3 - Waiting Room Therapy

"Hurry up, we're late again!" I said to Clara as we pulled in to the sports facility. She scrambled out of the car in her leotard and Ben trailed behind her, wearing his Taekwondo gi and carrying his reading homework. We dashed into the building just in time for her to join the line of other 4 and 5 year old girls entering the gym. I plopped down on a bench beside my friend, and exclaimed, "I actually made it before class started today. Yay, me!" She laughed and we settled into our catching up routine: Whose kids are sick? Whose week has been the busiest? How did that thing turn out? When are you leaving on your trip?

We talk about the little things (I tried a new recipe. I read a new book. I failed at my diet. Again.) and the not so little things (Clara falling behind in school. Guilt over not doing enough about it.) while occasionally nudging each other to watch something our daughters are doing in class.  And then before I know it the hour's over, and we're both dashing off to the next thing, tossing, "See you next week!", over our shoulders as out daughters embrace goodbye.  And I feel lighter.  Encouraged. Grateful.

And I am blessed to say I have a similar experience each week in another waiting room, on another night, with another dear friend. So tonight I am very thankful for these times each week. For these women who make me laugh and forget entirely to watch my girl do her activities.

The other day The Man said to me, "I thought Clara was supposed to have to choose between ballet or gymnastics. Why is she still taking both?"

"I know," I said, "but she just loves both of those classes."

And I do too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 - Motherhood

I have four kids. I like to tell people that to see their reaction. Some people think I'm crazy. Some people think I must be a supermom. Which, if you know me, is pretty funny.  I am not a super mom. I am more like the opposite of a supermom. I forget important things. I lose my temper. I rarely have company because my house is always a mess. If I actually get everyone to school, on time, dressed appropriately, with everything they need, and without yelling, I feel as if I deserve a medal. (Or at least a salted caramel mocha. Seriously.)

So I have absolutely no idea why God blessed me with my heart's desire to have four children. I have friends, really, amazing mothers--mothers who have probably never sent their kids to school with peanut butter on a hotdog bun-- who have lost a child, or struggled for years with infertility.  Because of them, I never want to take for granted the gift I have been given in the opportunity to mother, however imperfectly,  these 4 unique people.

So, for day 2, I am thankful for my kids. Some days those four people were the whole reason I got out of bed in the morning. And some days they were the reason I didn't want to. But today? Today was just a good day to be a mama. Ally made All-State chorus, and I was reminded again how watching your child succeed is even sweeter than doing so yourself. The Littles, for the most part, were funny and sweet and even seemed to like each other. So thank you Lord today, for giving this not-so-supermom, some pretty super kids.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thirty days of Gratitude, and so it begins. Again.

I haven't been here in a long time: this place I once called my own. I've missed it, pouring my heart out to the masses dozen. But I wasn't able to find a balance between what I wanted to share and a need to respect the privacy and safety of my children, especially as 3 of them are now old enough to read these words.

For now, I'm back. Permanently? Probably not, but at least for 30 days.

The holidays are coming. Ben said to me today, "Mom, it's only one month until December, the month you are grumpy all the time." He laughed but I cringed. It's a joke in our family how much I dislike Christmas. They like to bring me the Christmas ads that show up in September and watch me grimace and make hissing noises. But it's kind of sad, that I can't find anything positive about a season that supposed to be about love, and joy and hope. Especially when I am so abundantly blessed.

Last Christmas was awful. So many things were going catastrophically wrong in my life the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate. I made it through the holidays in survival mode. But survival mode is not the legacy I want to leave my children. And as much as I enjoy them, snarky comments about the holidays aren't either. The truth is I have more to be thankful for than I will ever deserve, so I am going to take the next 30 days to focus on that. I've done this before, in my blogging days, and focusing on my blessings was good therapy. And I am also going to try very hard not to complain to complain less about Christmas. Although I cannot be responsible for my actions during any Kay Jewelers commercials. I have my limits after all.

Today I am thankful for the unexpected cup of coffee delivered by a friend that gave me the energy to stay up and write this post. For the warm bed I am about to climb into. And for the absolute certainty that my sweet husband will come in shortly to kiss me goodnight.