A Brief Expression of Fluish Thankfulness

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming thought: I need to write.

I often feel that way, so this isn’t something new or surprising. What was remarkable this time was that I haven’t sat to write or do anything else for about the last five days since our home got hit with the dreaded flu.

Yup, flu.

As far as I remember, the last time we had actual flu in this house and not simply colds with flu-like symptoms was when Zilla was an infant. That was the year of the horrible Swine Flu epidemic here. Anyone remember that? I do. She was so sick I honestly thought she wouldn’t make it through the night. I was never as scared as I was that night and have not been since. So let’s start with that – I’m grateful that Zilla made it through that awful night (and that whole experience) about eight years ago safely to be the light and joy of our lives that she is today.

Speaking of flu, I suppose I’m thankful that all three of us went down together. I know, weird. But in my mind, all of us sick at the same time means we potentially get it over and done with once rather than trying to avoid (unsuccessfully because come on, it’s flu) passing it from one to another in a never-ending cycle.

I’m even more thankful that we’re on the backside of it. The Hub was the first to be back in action and returned to work today. He has the immune system of steel and seems to be nearly back to full capacity. Zilla is next and seems to be just a bit behind her Dad. One more day of rest at home should do it. I, unfortunately, am trailing behind. Of course my RA complicates things so I’m not surprised, but I am getting a bit frustrated with the length of this. Still, I’m thankful we are all on the mend.

I am thankful for how much the Hub has been able to for all of us these last few days. Being the most upright and functional allowed him to keep all three of us well cared for. I am thankful for how completely pleasant and cooperative Zilla has been through the whole thing. She is a good and patient and compassionate soul and that has shone clearly these last few days. Being down and out when you’re a high-energy kid like she is can’t be easy. Honestly, we’ve all done a pretty good job of taking care of one another and, all things considered, done it with minimal stress or discord.

I am also so thankful to Lizzi for her brilliant idea of the TToT in the first place and for all the time and love she has put into it. I am thankful that she is willing and able to pass the torch to someone else to carry for a while. I’m thankful to Josie for willingly taking up the torch so we can all continue to connect and focus on the good in our lives. Participating in the Ten Things of Thankful hop has been life-changing for me so I’m glad to see it continue.

And now I see that I have about one minute to get this linked so I’m out. Time to get back to bed and kick this stupid flu.

 

 

 

Hello. It’s Been A While. (A Ten Things of Thankful Post)

It’s a good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to post here more.

Somehow I got out of the habit of delivering any finished product to this page. It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration; I have a ton of things drafted and scribbled in my notebooks. They somehow just don’t make it to the page. If a messy desk is a sign of genius, I should be producing a whole lot more brilliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s probably more that I got distracted (not that distraction is new for me). It goes without saying that the headlines of late have been pretty overwhelming and that has definitely affected my state of mind. I had to back way off of the Internet and social media. So if I seem absent…I am. On purpose. Let’s call it self-care.

I’ve also been distracted by my physical state lately. There is no question that for the last week I have been in the throes of an active RA flare with a whopper of an eczema flare thrown in for good measure. A result of stress associated with the news? Maybe. Hard to say. At any rate, I’ve been trying to focus on what my mind and body need to be more at peace. It’s only fair to say here how thankful I am that my Hub and Zilla have been more than understanding, even though I’ve been pretty horrid.

So what else has been going on…?

Well, I guess my biggest news is probably that I entered a writing competition. Yup, I did it. I just put up a post about that experience if you want to check that out. If not, then keep moving along…

I actually have been doing a bunch of writing, but so far most of it has been for my eyes only. What will become of these efforts is yet undetermined. But the writing feels good. I have started a ton of things to join my semi-usual link-ups – Six Sentence Stories, Finish the Sentence Friday, and Ten Things of Thankful. But despite those efforts, I haven’t managed to join. I plan to remedy that moving forward.

I’ve also been reading a lot more lately than I have in recent months. More self-care, I suppose. That feels amazing. I read three of Bradbury’s books in a row – Dandelion Wine (a re-read), Farewell Summer (stunning), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (completely creepy in an awesome way). Right now I’m working on finishing The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie – book is even better) and I have about five things queued up to hit next.

Absorbing others’ words has been good for my mind and my soul. I’ve joined a couple of writing challenges for 2017 and choosing books for those has been fun and also helped me continue to take advantage of the offerings at my public library. I’m doing a handful of reads for folks I know who have published their books and I’m thinking maybe I’ll review those here on the blog and introduce you to to their work. Stay tuned.

What else?

Thanks in part to the accountability factor provided by the Graviteers, I’ve managed to hit a weight loss goal (again) so I think it’s safe to say that I am steadily working toward my weight loss and health goals. I’ve been walking more regularly and upping my number of steps each day (insert eye roll). That feels good. Next stop: The Bowflex machine. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but sure enough one has joined the team in our basement next to the treadmill and I’m planning to get on there regularly. Weight-bearing exercise is important for women, especially as middle age creeps closer on the horizon. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Kidzilla is kicking butt and taking names with her school work and all related sub-topics. That little girl works so hard and loves learning so much. I love that she sees hard work has tangible rewards. And speaking of school, the Hub is back in school working on a new degree – one more step in this journey of career change that was forced upon us. He’s also doing a fantastic job and just a few weeks in is already ahead of his projected timeline for this term. I am so proud of both of them. Shameless gushing. <3

I’m happy to report I’ve found my groove again in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like I pulled away from cooking anything decent at home and we resorted to bring-home or go-to options far too often over the last several weeks. Granted, the holidays are a strange time and then we were all so sick during and right after Christmas and into January, so maybe that’s just it. But even with my flares lately I’ve been happily tossing pots and pans around in the kitchen again. We’ve tried some new things and I’ve gotten back in my habit of rolling leftover parts of one meal into the next.

We’ve had pinto bean tacos with cabbage slaw, oven-baked lime butter cod served with the leftover slaw, some awesome Mexican street corn as a side – that was delicious. We tried mujadara – lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions – which is a new favorite here. Red beans and rice are always warming and satisfying, Salisbury meatballs were a hit for my meatball-lover daughter. Up tonight is a basic roast chicken because I’m out of chicken broth and need to make some. So I’m out to get that little bugger in the oven. Besides, I think I’ve rambled on here quite long enough.

I haven’t counted or numbered, but I’m certain I have at least ten things in here. For these and for so many more…I am thankful.

I’ve missed chatting with all of you here. What’s new and exciting in your life? What have you been doing the last few weeks? How are your self care habits? Talk to me…

 

This Christmas

“This is going to be the best Christmas ever.”

This is what my daughter told me this weekend as we brought out our Christmas tree, shopped for some new strings of lights, and hung the ornaments on our tree.

We’ve been easing our way into our Christmas preparations. We like to take it slow, focusing on one thing at a time. While many people love decorating and shopping for Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend, we spend the entire weekend relaxing and enjoying time together, reflecting on the blessings in our life.

Not too long after that, though, we start to bring out our special Advent and Christmas books. We read every night, but we save these books for this time of the year. In the books of Christmas, we’ve read about the legend of the Candy Cane, the life of Saint Nicholas, and many more. We have books that range from short and sweet and silly to more serious and lovely and deeply meaningful. She loves them all. And I can’t wait to introduce her to some new-to-her classics this year. I think she’s ready.

We begin December concentrating on Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord at Christmas and she’s all over it. She helps find the Advent prayers to say as we light the candles each week. She insists that we bring out  our Nativity sets first – but no other decorations until later in the month. I don’t know how my eight year old child acquired such an appreciation for savoring each moment, each day, each individual joy, but she does and I am so glad to know her heart works that way.

Around this time of the month, we bring out the tree and start thinking about gifts for those we love. We’ve already gathered gifts for several donation collections and she has about three more she wants to help. She was bothered a bit that we didn’t take a food donation to church this morning – my fault, I forgot. How did my child gain such an awareness that there are others in need and that we are responsible for helping?

Her class worked on writing friendly letters in class over the last few weeks, adding a letter to Santa last week. Zilla finished hers this evening, asking only for two small things for herself. As she wrote, she asked my husband and me what “non-thing items” we would like for Christmas. I told her I’d like peace and happiness for my family, the Hub told her he would like the gift of time. She included those in her letter. I was floored. When did my little girl gain an appreciation for the gifts that money can’t buy?

We’re enjoying all the trappings of the season, things like hot chocolate and footed pajamas, warm slippers and cozy socks, candy canes and cookies, holiday movies and popcorn… And of course she is wound up and silly and taking full advantage of the slightly relaxed rules about weekend bedtimes and screen time and sweets, just like any other kid. But even in her silliness, there is balance, and it amazes me. Have I taught her these things? She teaches me always…

She gets it – all of it. She understands the fun and frolic and she understands the significance of this season in our faith narrative. She believes in Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus and in the gift of the Christ Child. She believes in what is right and good and that those things will always triumph. She believes in love.

My daughter believes this is going to be the best Christmas ever.

I believe she’s right.

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An Awareness of Smaller Moments – #10Thankful

I always think it’s interesting how – or when – certain moments strike my awareness.

I spent all weekend half-thinking about writing this TToT in the back of my mind, but never quite sat to do it. It’s not that I don’t have much for which I’m thankful, it’s that every time I tried to come up with a list or a theme, the grander ideas eluded me.

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But I did notice small items of gladness and gratitude here and there – just nothing that I could really spin into a larger, more profound thought. Sometimes life is really just about the little moments, though, not the profound ones. Sometimes it’s about simply being in the right place at the right time to become aware of these moments that matters and leads us to gratitude.

For example…

Right now I am very thankful that Cat Three opted to puke on the hardwood floor, rather than the carpet. It’s usually the carpet that gets hit. We have carpet in exactly two places in our house – the stairways – and somehow the cats always find their way to the carpet when they get sick. So while I’m not happy to be cleaning up cat yerf, I’m pretty glad it’s not a carpet job.

It is fall – finally and for real this time, I believe. I am never more at peace than during the autumn of the year. I saw a line go by somewhere over the weekend that sums it up for me. It’s a half-line, really, and taken quite out of context, but still it shows up all over the place at this time of year. “Are we not better and at home In dreamful Autumn…?” is the often-quoted snippet, but there’s much more to the poem (“Autumnal” by Ernest Dowson). I love how well that expresses my feelings about this time of year, but am also glad it sent me digging for some long-forgotten words of poetry to enjoy again.

Through the Branches Crop

I have a friend (actually more than one, now that I think about it_ who is having a tough time with some things right now. I can’t begin to ease the pain in this person’s life. I can’t find words that will comfort that won’t sound completely trite. But I can stay in touch, ask how things are, lend an ear, send a card…small gestures to say the least, but I know that they matter. So that’s something.

I’m bursting at the seams this morning over Zilla’s successes of late. She’s working hard, putting tools and strategies to use, and seeing very positive results. She revels in her successes and feels confident about herself – and it shows. This morning we discovered an unfinished homework assignment that a year ago would have been a huge setback for the rest of the day. Today? I saw so much resilience in her and it made me so happy. She accepted responsibility, handled it, and marched into school with the work finished. No meltdown. No upset. No kidding.

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I was struck the other night by just how wise my Husband is. I can’t quite remember what the discussion was, but he offered such calm and rational wisdom that I couldn’t help but see things more clearly after the conversation. He grounds me and reminds me to keep my eye on the big picture, and not over-focus on minute details. On the flip side, though, sometimes when I get overwhelmed it’s because I’m worried too much about the big picture. In those moments he reminds me that the way to get it done is to focus on one thing at a time. Why he’s so much better at sorting out which approach is the right one, I’ll never tell you. It’s just one of the mysteries of our relationship that I’ve come to accept and treasure.

I’m delighted to have a huge pile of books that I’m working my way through right now – some lovely fall reads, some new books by friends and acquaintances, some old favorites. I’m also glad to be able to make time to sit and enjoy them, even if I’m not getting through them as quickly as I’d like.

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I’m happy to have a plan right now. I’ve been working on some projects – slowly and distractedly without a doubt, but nonetheless surely – and after quite a few days of thinking, I believe I have a good plan in mind to really make some progress. More on that as we move forward, I suppose.

And at this very second I’m very grateful for alarm clocks that tell me it’s time to move to the next task of my day. So, friends, I’m out of here for now. I don’t have a link-up thing to share this week, but drop your TToT (or other post) link in the comments and I’ll get around to visit.

Have a wonderful week!

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#10Thankful – A Heavy Heart

It has been a week of such sadness.

I’m sure most of you know of the terribly sad and tragic headlines that have filled our news feeds this week. My heart is also heavy for people in my life who are grieving the loss of family and beloved companions, people who are struggling with illness, emotional and physical pain, financial difficulty, and so much more. There are so many hearts out there in need and lately it seems that there is far too much hurt to be helped.

I’ve started my list of thankfuls at least ten times over the last few days, and each time I sit in front of it, it seems…something. Trivial? Wrong? I don’t know. None of those is either true or fair, really. We are not wrong to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, yet many of us find ourselves thinking that somehow we should not be celebrating when so many are hurting. I know I’m not alone in this; a few friends have shared similar feelings. It’s more than OK to go on, to live, to continue putting foot in front of foot as we make our way through each day set before us. And yet, somehow, things like weight losses and spiralized vegetable noodles and replacement mobile phones seem…trivial. Wrong.

I’m dancing dangerously close to the deadline to add my list to the link-up for this week, so unless I’m planning to just opt out because I couldn’t figure myself out, I need to make a little haste here. I would rather get a few short things down and acknowledge them here than give up. Love wins. Goodness wins. I do believe that with all my heart, no matter how much evil floods my news feed. I refuse to believe that there is no good, no joy, no blessing in life. I’m not blind to what’s happening. I’m not ignorant of the problems in the world. I know. We all know.

I also know that light and cool meals made with spiralized veggies are perfect on a hot summer evening.

I know that reaching any goal is better when you have friends to encourage you.

I know that I am so very glad to have the opportunity right now to live my life in a manner that allows me to spend time with my daughter and my husband and do the work I love from the peace and comfort of my home.

I know that I am glad when we check projects off our to-do list.

I know that I am happy when our Cat One feels better after a bout of his tummy troubles. And I am definitely glad when his tummy troubles don’t land on the new carpet.

I know that losing a cell phone down a composting toilet shaft is definitely not the end of the world, just a relatively minor inconvenience to replace contact info and the phone itself. I do have to admit being very sad for the loss of some very special photos that had not yet been transferred to my computer. That bugged me. But they’re photos, not the actual people in them. Everyone is alive and safe and I know I will always hold those memories in my mind and my heart.

I know that I am grateful for my Husband’s patient ear when I need to talk and cry a bit.

I know that tears are wonderful, powerful things. And I know that crying helps and is necessary sometimes.

I know the same is true of writing – at least for me. It is a wonderful, powerful endeavor, even if the words never see anyone’s eyes but mine. It helps and it is necessary sometimes.

I know that the world is not all bad all of the time. If the world were good and perfect all the time, well, it wouldn’t be this world, now would it? It would be something else entirely. I know that love wins and eventually, somehow, some way, good does triumph over evil. We just have to keep working on improving our selves, our lives, our world, one little bit at a time.

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#10Thankful – Another Year Older

So my blog and I both had birthdays this week.

My blog is four years old. Imagine that. And me? Well, I’m four and then some. Birthdays have a way of prompting retrospection, don’t they. At least for me. I often find myself reflective around birthdays – take time to consider where I’ve been, where I’m going…just think.

So for starters, I’m thankful for another year of life and one that has brought many changes and surprises. It’s been a year of progress (my One Word, as I recall) and that is always a good thing. I spent time on my birthday with the people closest and most dear to me. I received many thoughtful cards and messages and gifts – all of which really touched me in so many ways. And the Hub started the day off by leaving me several little birthday notes in places he knew I’d find them. Too cute.

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I am thankful for CSA produce! I know I put that on here every week lately, but it really is awesome. I love having the fresh produce straight off our local organic farm fields. And it makes meal prep kind of easy, too. The ingredients are supplied; I just have to put my creativity to use and figure out how to use them.

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This week we had another round of the sugar snap pea pasta we had last week. It was delicious. Again.

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The new carpet on the stairs remains (knock wood) unspoiled by Rotten Cat deposits. We are very happy for that. And the dark color keeps the stairs from looking filthy the minute one of the Rottens drops even one black hair on it. I suppose the down side to that is that it’s easier to forget to vacuum…but we’re working on that not being the case.

I am thankful for things like Shark Week and Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament week during which they show Christmas movies on TV in July and fireworks and summer theatre excursions…all the things we enjoy together as a family that help maintain and strengthen the bonds we already share.

We’ve accomplished a few more small projects around the house this week and have plans in place for many more as the summer unfolds. Maybe it’s a throwback to my years as a teacher or just to having time off from school in the summer as a kid, but to me summer is the time to work on projects and improvements. I’m not much of a spring cleaner, but summer gets me going.

I am very glad to be tackling at least one of my writing projects this month. Yup, I signed up for the CampNaNoWriMo thing during July and have committed to getting a few of the books I want for my kids’ book series written, edited, and illustrated before summer is over. My goal is to start shopping for some readers and (hopefully) a publisher come fall.

I’ve also been doing a tremendous amount of reading just for pleasure, something I used to do quite voraciously and over time due to college and work and marriage and work and buying a house and having a kid and grad school and just all the things I fell out of the habit. I have a huge list and pile of things I want to read and I’m so very happy to be working my way through.

I am always thankful for Kidzilla and the Hub. They are my loves, my life, and they make every day beautiful.

And now I am thankful to finish this list and get on to other things. I didn’t do so well at getting around to read other posts last week (sorry!) so I hope to do a better job in that department this time around. It won’t be until after the long holiday weekend, though, for sure. We’ll be off doing…

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? What are your favorite summer activities and habits? You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts in the link-up by clicking that blue button down there.

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#10Thankful – Sharks and Such

I have to be totally honest here.

I do not like writing my #10Thankful post on a Sunday evening. And yet, here I am again doing just that. *sigh* So while I am very thankful for so many things, I’m feeling a bit petulant about the whole thing because, well, I would much rather have finished this two days ago.

So let’s get to it.

I am thankful once again for time spent around the table with family and friends.

On that subject, I am thankful that we have enough to eat. I am painfully aware that so many people do not.

I am so happy that our CSA season is in full swing and we are enjoying the bounty from our local organic farm. The beautiful fruits and vegetables we receive each week have provided inspiration for meals such as this stunner – a sugar snap pea and penne pasta dish with a side salad of fresh field greens. Fast, simple, fresh, and delicious.

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Speaking of the kitchen, I have focused some energy there this week. One of my projects was to install a long-desired Spicy Shelf in the spice cabinet. What a difference this little gizmo has made! I wonder if Sarah can spot the item she sent me as a thoughtful gift a while back?

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The Hub ordered some replacement wheel sets for our dishwasher and installed them this week. That’s a task we put off far too long. So now that job can get checked off the project list, too.

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Today marks the start of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which we thoroughly enjoy around here. We watched some shark shows today and had plenty of friends to keep us company! I am thankful for things that our family enjoys doing together – hiking, reading, games, Shark Week…it doesn’t really matter what the endeavor. I just love that we love spending time together and pray it will always be so.

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I am thankful for my Hub. I am blessed to be married to my best friend and to have the most wonderful father for our daughter. He is good and kind and patient. He works hard, loves well, and makes Zilla and I both feel safe, beautiful, loved, and appreciated. And he makes a wicked good cup of coffee, too.

I am thankful for a sustained weight loss thanks to the support and encouragement of Clark and the rest of the Graviteers. As a result of that happy loss, I’ve rediscovered a pile of things in the closet that I can wear again. I’ll take it!

As much as I’ve always said I hate summer, I’m happy to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this one so far. Yes, it’s been pretty hot a few days, but I find myself seeing the beauty rather than the irritation. I am enjoying a slower pace and abundant time with Zilla. We do find ourselves needing some quiet time to ourselves each day, but I’m glad that we recognize and respect that. I think we are all enjoying the delicious feeling of well-rested that only the first week of summer break can bring. I’m thankful for long days and the freedom to do things like stay up late to watch movies or look at the stars, to sleep in a bit and snuggle under the covers a bit longer, to go barefoot and take life just as it comes.

So maybe a Sunday night TToT isn’t so bad. It just is. We’re having a wonderful time and that’s all that matters.

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? How have you been spending your summer days and nights? You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em! Have a wonderful week!

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#10Thankful – Home and Family

While it was my intent to have my thankfuls ready to go on Friday evening, here I am on Sunday afternoon marveling at how full my days have been.

We’ve had a great week here, starting with Zilla’s birthday celebrations last weekend. If you saw my very brief post last weekend, you know how very thankful I am for her presence in our lives. She’s terrific in every way. She sings, dances, speaks, and generally makes noise from the moment she wakes up in the morning until ten minutes after she goes to sleep at night, but I’m certain that I would hate the silence if she didn’t.

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I am thankful for all the ways she has grown this year, for how happy and confident she is. I am thankful for her company as we putter around the house working on projects and doing chores together, and when we are out in the world taking care of errands. I found myself more than a few times this week just stunned by how grown up she is. It’s a bit of a bittersweet revelation for me, which I think I’ll talk more about in another post.

I am thankful for new carpet on our two stairways. FINALLY! Our carpets were ten years, two grownups, one kid, and three cats old. They looked it. (And smelled it, sadly. Thanks, Rottens.) We finally bit the bullet and replaced the carpet and we are all so happy. Here’s the after. I suppose I should find some before shots to give the full effect, but I’m short on time here. Maybe I’ll dig in the place I think I have those a bit later.

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We had our second CSA pickup of the season this past week and we are thoroughly enjoying the bounty. Salads, smoothies, soups, and other dishes made with farm fresh vegetables and fruits…heaven. Just look at these strawberries…and they are only the beginning!

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Reading! I’ve finished two novels this week! Not sure how I managed to get that time in, but I’m glad.

I’m delighted that my latest new “stable weight” is sticking so well. The Graviteering efforts are paying off and I’m hoping to pass a milestone before the end of the month. Yay. I’m taking better care of myself and it’s paying off in lots of ways.

A bit in advance, I’m looking forward to a lovely ladies night out with my Sister and Mom. We’re doing to dinner and to see Harry Connick, Jr. in concert. Zilla and her Dad will have a date while we’re gone and that is also a wonderful thing for them. Oh and we had several occasions in the last week to enjoy good food and good company with various members of our family. I’m glad for the text messages and phone calls we’ve shared this week. I am always thankful for the rich relationships we share.

I am thankful for the Hub. For all that he is, all that he does, for his wonderful relationship with our daughter, for all the cleaning of cat puke, dealing with nasty bugs, making great cups of coffee, being an amazing husband, father, and man…and so much more. He makes me insane. But I wouldn’t want it any other way and I can’t think of anyone better to drive me there.

And on that note, I must take my leave because it’s nearly time for the evening’s festivities to begin!

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Your turn…what are you thankful for this week? How has your week been? What are your plans for the summer? You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em!

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TToT – Thankful for a Life

Our daughter turned eight this week. I can’t even imagine how that is possible.

As trite as it sounds, it seems only moments ago we sat in a hospital room holding our newborn, grateful for her safe arrival. And now? It’s still amazing to me every day that this wonderful little person is here, whole and healthy, thriving and happy, and we get to enjoy watching her life unfold.

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Continue reading “TToT – Thankful for a Life”

#10Thankful – Things of Significance

I sense that great things are about to happen.

No, really. I wish I could explain why, but I can’t. I just know that things are somehow falling into place as they should.

I’m late again this week – very late – but that’s OK because once again we have been out living. I can’t think of a better way to fuel my writing than by living. How about you? I’d love to give you a fabulously written intro here, but it’s quite late and the link-up is going to close soon, so I’m opting for expediency.

I’d also love to tell you I grabbed a fabulous photo somewhere this week, but I didn’t, so maybe you’ll allow me to share this one – pulled it from some pics from our visits to our CSA farm last summer and added it as a new header. After the rainy and chilly weather here over the last couple of weeks, I’m so looking forward to more days like this!

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So let’s get down to thankful…

Continue reading “#10Thankful – Things of Significance”