Saturday, November 26, 2011

And finally...Happy Birthday Part 3

And a cool coincidence with Thanksgiving...(only I forgot to post it until today)...

31.  I am thankful for airplanes and skype.  Good to see the faces of friends and family and know that they are only a plane-ride away.

32.  I am thankful for grandparents who love us, and our children, with lots of energy, lots of time, and lots of themselves.  And a mom who talked to me about the 3-finger approach of "Praise the Lord" that I secretly rolled my eyes at, but that set the tone for my own journey of gratitude.  It made the vocabulary not so foreign to me.  Thanks, Mom.

33.  I am thankful for the opportunity to sit on a couch in Melbourne, FL on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a book while watching the restless sleep of my new-mom best friend, kindred spirit, or in the words of Anne of Green Gables, bosom buddy.  What a gift just to be in the same room with her!

34.   I am thankful for kids who work hard raking leaves.  $1 a bag with no help from Mom or Dad.  That would be 10 bags.  That would mean Dad is out 10 bucks.

35.  I am thankful for the little street urchins we call neighbors...the gang of 4th Ave.  I love watching this array of kids playing in our yard.  I love their persistence and their acceptance.  


36.  No, I'm not 36.  But I just couldn't stop.  I am thankful for the gift of grace.  And mercy.  In the words of Voskamp, "The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it’s the art of gratitude that makes joy possible. Isn’t joy the art of God?"  But I am finding, as I am seeing more deeply and practicing the art of gratitude, that I fail as often as not. I can in a split second recognize something to be grateful for and then give into the urge to feel stress, frustration, overwhelmed.  I turn on the precious ones in my way, or withdraw in self-comsumption from my dear husband.  

But... there is grace.  And mercy.  And its new every morning.  I am flawed.  But I am grateful for that, too.  It is a constant reminder to look outside of myself.  To the only one who did it perfectly, knows me fully, and loves me deeply still.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Part 3

And on we go...

21.  I'm thankful for fairies dancing in my back yard, kung fu fighters, and fireworks.  Independence Day with friends was a good reminder that we do have friends here.  And community will come with time.

22.  I'm thankful for the resilience of a 4 year old.  A broken arm on his birthday, a move across the country away from friends and grandparents, and food allergies, asthma, chiropractors, naturopaths, voo-doo trial and error...this kid has been through the ringer this year.  But he has been so tough, so brave, so...resilient.  I am grateful.
23.  I'm thankful for water-proof casts.
24.  I'm thankful for good books.  Poisonwood, Narnia, Hunger Games, Piggie and Elephant, Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, Madeleine, Jesus Storybook Bible...some for sharing, some for retreating, all for savoring.

25.  I'm thankful for 305 West Glenwood.  A lot of good life lived.

26.  I'm thankful for 3 good years spent within driving distance of family.  We cherish those years of convenient relationship.

27.  I'm thankful for local farmers.  Farmer Terry of Oneonta, AL was our first.  Mr. Paul of Rochester, MN is our current.  I love that I know and shake hands with the men who labor daily to feed and care for the animals that are our sustenance.  I love that Taylor Beth jumps hay bales with the little girl who gathers our eggs.  Beautiful circle of life.

28.  I'm thankful for gingko trees in AL and Maples in MN, both lit up on fire in autumn sun.

29.  I'm thankful for the "hard" of transition, for it forces me back, deeper still, to stand on the rock.  It takes me to the end of myself.  And reminds me to be thankful.  Reminds me of grace and mercy.  And joy.

30.  I'm thankful for full nights of sleep.  Uninterrupted.  Except for the occasional nightmare.  Or sickness.  Or need for nearness.  For that I am thankful for rocking chairs and the pallet by my bed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Part 2

I should make a gratitude is in no particular order.  The next installment...

11.  I'm thankful for my new camera.  As one author puts it, "The lens is my ink, for cameras have sensor eyes, and pixels record."  My D70 had a mishap last fall.  My husband was gracious and generous enough to bless me with a D90 for Christmas.  Best gift ever.  Except for the year he got my first, the D70.  That was pretty fantastic, too.  I am especially grateful for it when it is in the shop for repairs.  And especially grateful that those repairs were covered under warranty.

12.  I'm thankful for my new laptop.  This has been the year of technical difficulties.  Or technical deaths, whichever.  Either way, I'm thankful for the replacements.

13.  I'm thankful for this guy...
My partner, my friend, my Luvuh.

And this guy...
Always makes me smile.   Still smiling in year 34, with 10 years of marriage under the belt.  In the words of my dear friend, Lauren, "I would much rather do nothing with you, than do something without you."  Well said.

14.  I'm thankful for frogs.  Weird, yes.  But this summer our backyard here in MN was swarming with frogs of all sizes.  Tiny frogs, fat frogs.  Frogs that all ended up in our window wells.  The monkeys became enamored with them.  It became a part of regular summer morning routine.  They helped our MN mornings to feel normal.  All because of frogs.

15.  I'm thankful for my swagger wagon!  I know.  Don't judge me.  I never thought I would embrace the mini-van persona, but here I am.  Loving it.  For more than 2 monkeys it is a dream.  I think I'm cool enough.  Maybe.

16.  I'm thankful for family hikes.  I love being outside with my family.  With nowhere to go.  Just walking.  Until someone falls apart.

17.  I'm thankful for the joy of watching my eldest ride a bike by herself for the first time.  It is such a thrill, but also a bit terrifying, to watch her independence grow.

18.  I'm thankful for chapter books and reading lessons on the front porch swing.  Miss that swing.  Loved those moments.

19.  I'm thankful for Queen Anne's Lace growing wild on the side of MN highways.  A reminder that sometimes beauty doesn't need any help from a human hand at all.

20.  I'm thankful for strawberry fields with friends.  The summer-ripe juices of berries and season-ripened sweetness of old friends reunited still fresh on my palate.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Celebrated a birthday this week.  Thirty-four.

They become less and less exciting.  But more and more reflective.

At the suggestion of a dear friend (thanks Mother!), and as a birthday gift to myself, I am making a list of thirty-four things for which to give thanks on my thirty-fourth birthday.  It has been a crazy year and I have much to be reflectively thankful for.  Here goes.

1.  I am so grateful for a community of women who have loved me well and often, challenged me continually, and encouraged me intrinsically.  They span the globe and they span the life-spectrum, but I would not be the same without each one of them.  You know who you are.  I love you.  And today I stop to say thanks for you.

2.  I am thankful for three fabulous monkeys who, yes, make my life more hectic and complicated, but also add so much richness and meaning.  Motherhood did not come to me by choice or decision, but come it did and, six years down the road, I know and see the wisdom and blessing in it.  I am thankful for the ways it has molded and shaped my perspective of life and the world, even myself.  I know myself more fully because of them.  I laugh more readily, appreciate more completely, and love more deeply.  All thanks to three little people I like to call my monkeys.

3.  I am thankful for chocolate.  Dark, please.  Really dark.  And sometimes with almonds or cherries.

4.  I am thankful for running.  My sanity.  And Moving Comfort sports bras and Nike running shoes.  Running wouldn't be the same without them.  And I wouldn't be the same without running.  Sometimes far, sometimes not.  Never fast.  But always moving forward.

5.  I am thankful for coffee.  Good coffee.  What the Hubs calls my sanity.  He says my whole demeanor relaxes when I get my hands on a good cup of coffee.  Just one is all it takes.  I learned to drink it black this year.  But I still prefer a touch of cream and a drizzle of honey.  Yes, honey.  The earlier the better.  I'm not sure that this is good.  But it is something I feel grateful for.

6.  I am thankful for quiet.  Little snippets of quiet.  The elusive moments of my week when I can be still.  I am oh, so grateful for those.  Especially when they include coffee.  Or chocolate.  Or both.

7.  I am thankful for Target.  A steady job, with hope of a future, and a steady income.  With benefits.  And that doesn't require regular out-of-town travel.  That is something to be very grateful for this year.  I am well aware of how rare and special this is.

8.  I am thankful for one house payment.  This time last year we had two.  In a housing market that is all too unpredictable and down right despicable, I am very grateful for just the one.  It might be small (the house, not the house payment).  It might be humble, but it is ours and it is our one and only.  Thank you, thank you.

9.  I am thankful for craft nights with the girls in AL.  We sometimes had 3-4 sewing machines going at the same time!  Usually coffee.  Sometimes wine.  Always good times.  I miss those nights now.  But I am so grateful I had them then.

10.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my first monkey last year for kindergarten.  It was hard.  It was frustrating.  But it gave me the opportunity to really bond with her and learn her in ways deeper than parenting to that point ever had.  We pushed through the hard.  We pushed through the frustrating.  And I got to see first hand the growth.  I got to witness the light bulbs going off.  That is a gift to a Mom.  And I honestly can say I miss her now when she is away.  And I so look forward to holidays and weekends when she is home.

So there are the first 10.  More to follow.  Don't want to overwhelm.  And I want to invest the time to really reflect.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

River Run

Civil Wars, Adele, Mumford and Sons in my ears, the soundtrack of the life-gift River Run.

Mud on my shoes.

No stroller, no toddler ticking time-bomb.

Time to stop and explore strange flowers, muddy trails, waterfalls, limestone cliff-boulders.

I feel life pumping in my veins, in my ears, in the sweat beading up on my temple.

Reflective thoughts begin to seep from the depths where they have been pushed down by the incessant details of the "now"...

     "Why did I ever think I hit my peak in my twenties?  Whoever told me that my twenties would be the pinnacle of my existence?  I feel so much more alive, settled,, mid-thirties, then I ever did 10 years ago.  And the life-giving part of acknowledging your age and aging is realizing that it is only getting better!"

     "Perhaps the further I move from myself as I add to the number of people I am daily responsible for, the closer I am actually getting to myself, knowing myself, loving who I am.  Could self-denial be the key to self-awareness?"

These thoughts I don't get to visit as often as I used to.  But today the River Run afforded me the space, the time, the opportunity.

This day I am grateful for a 7 year old birthday party on the other side of town so that I could make the excuse to stay out and enjoy a River Run instead of returning home before pick-up.  I should afford myself these "excuses" more often.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I had forgotten in our 3 years away the behemoth, street-smart squirrels in Minnesota.  I don't know if it is the same with all big city squirrels everywhere, or if the harsh winters over time and with micro-evolution have evolved this tougher, smarter, more resilient race of rodent.  Either way, these dudes are relentless.  

From our street we have seen, yes, your common everyday gray, fluffy tailed squirrel.  We have also seen black squirrels, albino squirrels, fat squirrels, mean squirrels.  But this summer we saw a rare species that stopped us in our tracks and begged the question...

"What is that???"

A rabbit?  (Plenty of those.)

A gopher?  (Plenty of those, as well.)

And then truth dawns...It's a tailless squirrel!

For a time we have been aware of critters gnawing on our lovely pumpkins, but the other day we caught him in the act.  Lo, and behold, there was the elusive, tailless squirrel elbow deep in our jack-o-lantern!  And the brazen thing sat there and kept gorging while I took pictures through a glass door!

Our little friend is the picture of resilience and survival to me.  We can feel the bitter chill of winter coming in our bones, and, believe it or not, he will stick around for it all.  Today I am happy to do my part in fattening this little guy up for the long winter ahead.

And I will look forward again next spring, as the first green shoots peak their heads out of our winter blanket, to meeting our little friend again.

My role in the circle of life  ( I did buy that pumpkin, after all) makes me grateful today.  And laughter.  I can never underestimate the power and grace of laughter.

PS...This post is in honor of Squirrel #406 and Squirrel know who you are.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


And the list grows.

Ann Voskamp writes a blog over at  I decided to take a peak last night.

Somehow I landed on a post titled "10 points of Joyful Parenting".


It was all at once convicting and encouraging.  Heartbreaking and hope-giving.  Challenging and relieving.

Please take a minute to check it out.

I am so thankful for the blessing of this list and plan on printing and displaying it so that I can use it as a regular reference.

Today I was grateful to "fight feeling with feeling".

I am praying for "strong words".  "Grace words."  I am all too aware of the "death words" (and "death tones") I have spoken and how it has taken life from my dear ones.

I am so thankful for today's small opportunities to draw close to my individual children...
(I like to call this our Calvin Klein shot.)

Impromptu hugs for the eldest which I cannot disconnect from the impromptu "I love you, Mom" I got tonight while fixing dinner...

Extended story time with the middle followed by an awesome team workout in the front yard.  He's got a mean push-up.  Or ground-up as he calls it...

And sweet, cuddly rocking chair songs at naptime with my baby.

This is not to say that I haven't always done these things "pre-manifesto".  But today I was present in those moments.  I felt real joy in the midst of them and my natural response was to "treasure them up in my heart."

And this is not to say that the day was filled with complete peace.  But these small moments gave me hope.  And some joy.