TToT – Complications

I don’t even know why I call these posts ten things of thankful anymore – I’ve long since given up listing or counting anything.

I suppose it’s because that’s how it began and it’s how we continue to identify with one another. This is a great little group we have here and that comfortable identity is a good thing. You know what you’re in for when you see a Ten Things of Thankful post – goodness, gratitude, camaraderie, and a focus on what is positive in life, despite how bleak things may seem sometimes.

I guess that’s what I’m doing today – finding what’s positive in the midst of the bleak.

For example, I clearly spoke too soon last week when I said I was feeling better and pulling out of the flu. Ha! I went backwards from there ending up with horrible bronchitis as a result of the initial bout of the flu. This is what they mean when they say “flu-related complications.” And I can tell you that it kind of sucks.

So what is there to be thankful for? Well, I’m pretty thankful it’s bronchitis and not pneumonia. That would be way worse. At least with bronchitis I know the drill. I can’t say I’m enjoying the drill and I’m really kind of tired of dealing with it. But yeah, it could be worse.

I’m definitely thankful that the Hub and Zilla are back to normal. The worst thing they have going on is some residual coughing and maybe some residual fatigue. Nothing horrible. So that’s positive.

And they have both been more than helpful and patient with me while I’m still getting my butt kicked by this thing. It’s comforting to know that they can (pretty much) fend for themselves and not leave the house in (too much) disarray while I’m on limited duty.

I am thankful that I work from home and don’t have a boss pressuring me to go back to work sooner than I am really able. I’ve been there before and it’s awful. This way I can take care of me and still not get too far behind on things I need to accomplish.

Speaking of being at home, I’m thankful for the long weekend we’re having. Granted, we have all been inside recuperating while it’s a lovely and unusual 60 degrees out in February, but we’ve had the windows open and have been able to enjoy some extra time to get well. Zilla is catching up on missed school work and I love that I have a kid I don’t need to nag about getting the work done. And since the Hub works at the school, he’s off as well.

The only down side to all of that is, well, normally on  Monday I have the place blissfully and silently to myself. I work and put my week in motion. The Rottens sleep like crazy. But on a Monday holiday? Not so much. Still, the blessing is that we are all able to be home together. Not everyone has that opportunity.

I’m glad I got a bit of writing in this week that made it to the blog, even though it wasn’t much. I also got some writing done offline and got some helpful feedback on a couple of things I’ve written lately. I’ve also had a bunch of time to read so maybe I’ll finally finish the way overdue library book that’s been sitting here in my house forever. That’s all good.

And truly I love our new “extended hours” here at Ten Things of Thankful. Having the link-up open through Tuesday is so helpful for me. Rather than rush to get in before my weekend explodes or trying to cram in before the link closes on Sunday evening is proving to be a very good thing. Now I can do my Monday morning reflective TToT the way I really like to without feeling like I missed the party all weekend.

Oh! And I am thankful for new life. Two different cousins welcomed new baby girls over the course of the last ten days. Everyone is happy and healthy.

Life goes on…

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Snow Days and Preparation – #10Thankful

Late Sunday evening and I’m finally sitting to think about my Ten Things of Thankful post.

That happens a lot lately. (OK, it happens all the time.) I start my posts early in the week, I plan to get in there on Friday evening, and then…life happens.

And I’m so very glad that it does.

I sometimes wonder if I’m too distracted to sit for a minute and focus on the moments and people that make me feel thankful each week. But it’s not distraction – it’s simply that I’m living my life and enjoying every last second of it. I am aware of the sense of thankfulness weaving and swirling its way through the moments of my days and taking its place in my heart.

I realized not long ago that what this means is that I’ve developed a mindset of gratitude and also of awareness. I don’t just go through the motions of my life; I live my life. That may be the greatest item of thanks there is for me.

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From a more practical perspective, I am quite thankful that I have several available leftover options for dinners this week. I have two choir rehearsals this week – both on Zilla’s karate nights, of course – which means dinner prep time is virtually non-existent. Dinner needs to be an absolute no-brainer and I’m prepared. I am also so glad that my family are willing consumers of leftovers and they never complain when a meal or a part of a meal shows up a second (or even third) night.

In these very cold days this week, I have been so thankful for a warm home, warm clothing, warm food on our plates, and plenty of fuzzy socks. I am painfully aware of those in the world, both near and far, who do not have enough of anything, no matter the season or temperature. I do my best to help where I can.

I have my week planned out and notes in my planner already. There is much to be accomplished this week, but having it all plotted gives me a sense of calm and control so I can wake up in the morning and hit the ground running. I just have to resist the urge to hit the snooze button and grab just five more minutes of snuggling before getting in gear…

Zilla was feeling a cold coming on today and asked for homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner and a batch of my “sick tea.” I love how aware of her self and her body she has become – not just about colds, but in general. She is growing into such an amazing person right before our eyes and it is exciting to behold. It is my hope and prayer that she continues to develop that gift of self-awareness in all things and use it to her best advantage. This weekend I witnessed again her beautiful and generous heart at work. I am blessed to know and to be mother to this child.

I am blessed with a wonderful husband and partner, too. We are a great team in all things from getting the chores and errands done to corralling three rotten cats to raising our daughter. I am grateful for all of the things we share as a couple and I am grateful for the things my Hub does for me every day, little things that mean a lot. He puts out my meds for me, he makes coffee, he makes sure we have the milk and creamer I like…and so much more. Those little things are huge.

While I still have a few tasks to accomplish this week and my house is far from picture-perfect, it is a place of love, warmth, respite, and joy.  I am happy here, even in the midst of a bit too much cat hair on the floors and a basket or two of laundry waiting to be put away. The chores will get done – they always do. We took advantage of the snowy day on Saturday and some empty hours on Sunday evening to simply rest, relax, and enjoy one another.  We read books, watched holiday movies and silly TV shows, did some decorating, and made some holiday plans and preparations.

Our hearts are ready.

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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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#10Thankful – Standing in Motion

I believe I am standing in motion.

I worked on a thousand things all week, produced results, and yet I somehow feel as though I have accomplished little because none of my projects can be moved to the “finished” list.

But maybe finished does not always equal successful (or vice versa) and just being in process is quite a good thing all by itself. To be about the business of living, doing, and becoming is a noble endeavor indeed. It is far too easy to slip into the trap of thinking about what we should have done and I know so many of us do it, at least once in a while. I am really trying to remain focused on what I am doing with my life, not what I or anyone else thinks I should be doing.

The Hub, Zilla, and I are taking advantage of the summer to enjoy different experiences – so much so that I’ve managed to miss the last couple of TToT link-ups (Oops and sorry!) (But #sorrynotsorry, you know?). We’ve been to the library, read to therapy dogs, watched a movie under the stars (almost) right in our own backyard. Our township shows movies in the local parks and we just happen to live adjacent to one of the locations. That was mighty cool. Zilla’s been to summer enrichment classes and swim lessons. I’ve been working on my kids’ book series and purge/clean projects at home. The Hub has projects at work and home in process. Now that Zilla’s a bit older, we’ve been introducing her to the wonder of board games and card games for the older crowd. Last week she learned how to play Life and Monopoly (Lord of the Rings version, thank you very much) and how to play Solitaire the old fashioned way – with real cards.

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That all kind of adds up to a whole lot of thankful right there. But it’s only the beginning…

I’m quite glad that I’m sitting for a few minutes with a hot cup of the best coffee in the world by my side so I can get this post written in the first place. Thanks, Husband, for the best coffee in the world. Always.

Keeping with the Husband theme, he deserves a spot at the top of the list always because he is among the best of men and the best of husbands. He stands by me completely through the better and worse and I am thankful to fall asleep and wake up next to him each day. Well, assuming he makes it up from his technology den before falling asleep, that is. But even then, I can be thankful for the entire bed to myself (and the three Rottens) for a few hours. Silver linings.

Time makes my list this week. Summer allows me to spend unscheduled, unhurried time with my daughter. It doesn’t matter what we decide to do (or not do), but we are enjoying the time together. I think the highlight of my summer so far was the day she said she loved grocery shopping with me because we get to be together. I think her point was that we were doing something necessary, a chore, and still enjoying each other’s company. I love having her along and I will miss that come fall when she is back in school. Of course it does take longer and cost more with her helping…but so worth it. Plus, she’s learning in the process. We read labels, decide what foods are good choices, plan meals based on what is available that week, practice math and money skills, and so much more.

I have also enjoyed some alone time with my Husband seeing concerts and eating a few meals sans kid. This week we’re getting an extra big dose – we escaped for a quick daytime sushi lunch while Zilla was in school, had dinner together while she was at a social thing at her karate school, and tomorrow we have dinner and a concert date. The couples-only time is so important for so many reasons. Of course, the mom guilt creeps in a bit – are we spending too much time without her? Does she feel neglected? I think we’re good, though, because she is always busy in her own right while we’re out and is always in the care of people who love her. She’s beyond excited to spend time with my Sister and my Mom at my sister’s house tomorrow and I love that.

I am amazed at what a strong and beautiful girl our Zilla is becoming. This week she dealt fabulously with some kid issues, earned her red belt in karate, and made her own breakfast. The unthinkable has happened – all the baby is pretty much gone from her and what remains is this lovely and fun person who needs me to help just a little less than she used. to. It’s bittersweet for sure. The only moments I catch a glimpse of her baby self is when she’s asleep, totally relaxed, and those sweet little cheeks take on that soft baby chubbiness for a few hours. I think that may be the real reason moms get up and check on their kids fifty times a night – for just one more moment of that.

We have experienced the beauty and wonder of nature this summer. We’ve spent some time hiking at our mountain (sadly, those photos are down the composting toilet with my phone) and on our last trip saw more and closer raptor sightings than we have on most of our trips. Awesome. We watched a pair of blue jays defend their nest from a redtail hawk who decided to perch on their lamppost and visit for a while. Fascinating. Sadly, Zilla and I saw a fledgling bird in its final moments of life as he died in our driveway. Unfortunately, we were too late to help him and he wouldn’t have survived the trip to the nearest wildlife rehab facility. We talked about life and death and I was glad for the opportunity for lessons the situation provided. We’ve watched sunsets and moonrises, enjoyed gorgeous summer days and watched truly fierce-looking storms roll in.

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I am so glad we have a share in our local CSA farm. We love our farmers and how they run things. We love the fresh, local, organic produce each week. During CSA season (for us it’s usually June through early November), I love planning our meals around what arrives from the farm. It makes me so happy that the Hub and Zilla are willing to try new and different things and that most of the time they like the results. I love how the array on my counter top and in my refrigerator inspires beautiful, healthy meals. Pinterest, of course, is a great resource for ideas.

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Of course, there are always smoothies as well. This was one of the most beautiful looking and delicious that I’ve made yet. I think it was kale or spinach, mixed berries, cucumber, water, and flax seed. Oh, and peach! So good.

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I received a sweet memento in the mail this week from our Listen to Your Mother leaders. It was a nice way to remember such a great experience. I was reminded what a cool thing that was to do. I believe that people and experiences touch our lives at particular times for particular reasons, even if we may not know exactly why right away. I’m certain that being part of Listen to Your Mother was one of those scenarios. There are over 500 videos to enjoy from this year’s shows (by all means check them out – they’re wonderful), but here’s mine. I loved sharing this story so if you’ll indulge me, I’ll share it again here. Be gentle, OK? I was recovering from a horrible upper respiratory thing complete with laryngitis and it was by far the WORST camera angle on me ever.

I am glad for plenty of time to read my always-growing pile of books. Between what I already have on the shelf, what I’ve recently acquired from the bargain table, and the public library, I have no dearth of material. Are we friends on Goodreads? We should be. Find me over there. I’m sure I can put a widgety thing on my front blog page, but I’ll have to figure that out later today.

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I am glad for the company of cats when I am here all day by myself. These guys are loads of fun. I have to give Cat One a little shoutout here for taking his meds like a man, so to speak. A few months ago, you may remember, he had some intestinal issues and now takes a kitty laxative twice a day. The stuff is a nasty sticky liquid and he hates it. He often spits it out and drools it all over himself and all over everything. I called our vet and they contacted a local compounding pharmacy to do his meds in compound form so it can be flavored – are you ready – like chicken. Yup. So when I tell him it tastes like chicken (which I have been for three months), it’s actually true now. He seems to be accepting it better than before and most of it stays in him rather than on him, so that’s progress.

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I guess taking a couple of weeks off makes for one very full TToT post! That’s it for me today. My coffee cup needs to be refilled. The house has grown a bit dark because the rain and storms have taken over once again. I love the sound of the summer rain. We’re going to spend our rainy (and disgustingly humid) summer afternoon teaching Zilla how to play Dungeons and Dragons.  So if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be.

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? How are you spending your summer?

You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em and make sure to check out the rest of the posts in the link-up!

 

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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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#10Thankful – Are We There Yet?

I am so ready for this school year to be over.

I kind of thought when I left the classroom that I wouldn’t feel so stressed about this time of year.  I figured without final exams, end-of-the-year textbook collections, and the rest of the things teachers have to do in June, I’d have no worries. I was wrong. Know why? My second-grader decided she was done and over it two weeks ago where school is concerned. That’s why. So here I am, Distracto-Mom, trying to get Distracto-Kid to the finish line when, frankly, I’m kind of done and over second grade, too. I feel like the kid in the back seat of the car on a long trip: Are we there yet? But when you’re the one who has to drive and you feel that way? Even worse.

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Let’s get on with it already…

I think that’s probably a good sign, though, despite the angst and drama of pushing pulling fighting dragging through this end. We’re ready to move on, get a fresh perspective and a new routine. It’s time to see what’s next.

So let’s talk about all things new and fresh this week, shall we?

Continue reading “#10Thankful – Are We There Yet?”

TToT – Long Weekends

Here we are at the weekend again and, as is usual of late, it’s nearly over before I get my TToT in.

It’s a fine thing, I suppose, because the only reason for my tardiness is that we’re out living, doing, and enjoying this very long weekend – five days for us. That’s not even a weekend; it’s nearly a week! Thanks to the lack of snow around here this year, Zilla’s school decided to tack an unused snow day on to an already long Memorial Day weekend. No argument here; it has provided the opportunity for staying up late, sleeping in, watching movies, taking a day trip or two, goofing around, getting some chores done (OK, maybe less of that than the goofing around, but whatever), and just taking a breath before we head into the last two weeks of school.

So before we head out on today’s adventure, let’s get on with the thankfuls…

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#10Thankful – Fragmented

Fragmented. That’s the best word I can come up with to describe my week.

It’s been one long stretch of a whole lot of jumbled pieces and small bits of time, none of which have added up to much of anything. But of course, if I sit long enough and think about it, I know I will realize that there is something in there. Perhaps we’ll get there by the end of this post. I have to be honest, though, and say I really don’t feel much like thankful-in tonight.

It’s not that I don’t feel thankful for so many things. I definitely do. And I’m not sad or bothered by anything. I’m just…mentally fatigued. All that fragmenting this week has left this girl exhausted.

So let’s see what we can come up with…

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