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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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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Forgotten

I’ve forgotten how closely she watches me.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember when she’s engrossed in a book or staring at a movie. It’s difficult to remember when she’s hunched over her Legos, brows furrowed as she figures out the best combination of bricks to make the structure she sees in her mind take shape in this world. It’s difficult to remember when she’s determined to do things her own way, in her own time.

But every now and then life provides us the jolt we don’t know we need. For me, it came the day my daughter padded into the bathroom where I was getting ready and stepped on the scale.

I was stunned.

Why does my eight year-old care what she weighs? Why does she think this is something she needs to know? And then I remembered – I step on the scale every day. It never crossed my mind that she watches me do it, deciding this something we do.

There’s nothing wrong with checking your weight, of course. But I had to stop and consider whether all points of this scenario are in balance. Are the messages I’m sending about health and food and weight management and body image the ones I want my daughter to learn?

It came again when she handed me a tiny yellow note with a picture of herself crying – crying – and a caption that clearly communicated her feelings. She was feeling unloved.

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I was horrified.

What kind of mother am I? How can this girl who is the very air I breathe not know how deeply and completely I love her. How could she possibly feel like this?

It was a bad evening, truth be told. We had a nasty meltdown – both of us – over a homework assignment. It was the perfect shitstorm of all the things we both are and do colliding to create a perfectly awful situation. I knew I had to step away because we weren’t getting anywhere positive, so I sent myself to my room, leaving her and her homework in the more rational care of her father.

It was a short time later in my darkened room that she delivered the note. I called her to me immediately and asked her to explain, prepared to tell her she was over-reacting, seeing things through an over-dramatic lens. My daughter looked me in the eye and told me her truth – things I have said and done that hurt her, made her feel unloved.

“Get out of my aura, Zilla.”

“I’m just not interested in this, Zilla.”

“I have work to do, Zilla.”

My own words lept from her lips to my ears.

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I was crushed.

Not one of those words was spoken with malice, but I had to admit I remembered saying them. Hearing my own words leap back at me from her lips, though, I realized she was right. Those were not words of love. It is easy to forget that the words we say are not always heard the way they sound in our head. Sarcasm sounds mean. Lightness is mistaken for gravity. I have to remember that what may seem innocuous is given much weight by my very literal eight year old child. Because she watches me.

And I have to remember that not only does she watch me do things like step on a scale, but she also watches how I admit a wrong and how I handle an apology. She watches how I deal with adversity and success. She watches how I treat the cashier at the supermarket or the annoying driver in the car ahead of me. She watches how I argue with my husband and how I parent.  She watches me seek the best balance between personal needs, work, and family. She watches whether or not I look at my phone during dinner. She will watch how I face life’s milestones, how I grow older, how I face death.

At every moment, she will watch. She will learn how to live and love and be.

And she will remember.

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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s topic is “The things I’ve forgotten…”

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Our host this week, as always, is the lovely and talented Kristi Campbell from Finding Ninee and our sentence starter comes from Hillary Savoie of HillarySavoie.com.

#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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Will the Village Protect My Daughter?

There’s an African proverb that tells us it takes a whole village to raise a child.

I often wonder, though, do we really raise our children as a village? Do we look out for them throughout their lives and protect them – and one another – as a village? When I read the headlines every day, I am reminded that all too often we do not. And I wonder, when did we stop living and acting as a village?

When my Husband and I told my Grandparents that we were pregnant, they were thrilled, of course. One of the things my Grandmother said to me that day – with no malice whatsoever – was “Good luck. I would not want to raise a child today. It’s a whole different world.”

My Grandparents were no lightweights when it came to raising children. They raised their children through the 50s, 60s, 70s, and into the 80s. By the time Zilla arrived, they had already been helping to raise grandchildren and great grandchildren for nearly 40 years besides. They had probably seen just about everything.

I remember thinking, “Holy crap! What have we gotten ourselves into?”

Kids are different today than they were when my Mom and her siblings were kids. They are different than we were as kids. They’re even different than they were a short 10 years ago. But while that is true, it’s not really the kids that makes raising children today so terrifying. It’s the rest of the world.

Decades ago, it really did take a village to raise a child – and the village did its job. Everybody knew everybody else and if your neighbor’s mother told you to straighten up and fly right, it was just as good as hearing it from your own. When you did something stupid, your parents knew about it before you walked in the back door because the other parents called them and told them, not because they wanted to ruin your life, but because they wanted to protect it. They did it because they cared. To me, that’s not nosy or presumptuous. That’s a community raising its children together.

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But now? I often wonder if people care about anyone but themselves. I know, I know – that sounds terribly cynical. And I know that there are people do care. I have friends and family who do look out for one another’s kids, who aren’t afraid to speak up when they smell trouble, who aren’t afraid to have an opinion. But as a society? We have become so afraid of being criticized or sued for taking an interest in someone else’s well-being that we have isolated ourselves to the point of destruction.

Continue reading “Will the Village Protect My Daughter?”

#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?”

#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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#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”

TToT – A Week of Weird

This has been a weird and crazy week.

For starters, our parenting efforts have included addressing the topics of clubs that include only certain people and exclude others, balls (yes, that kind), menstrual periods, why some men might prefer to dress as women, and why poems about knife-wielding gummy bears are not appropriate material for the recess yard (or anywhere else, really).

Ho. Ly. Cow.

 

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All of these topics came up in relatively ordinary context. And yet none of these is really ordinary, if you think about it. All require very thoughtful and sensitive explanation. But can we talk about how we managed to get hit with all of this in one week? Seriously, Universe? Too much.

And that doesn’t even touch anything else that happened!

So I’m going to get right to the thankful part before I lose my mind. Here we go… Continue reading “TToT – A Week of Weird”

Six Sentence Stories – Take My Hand

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”

He sat in the pew, staring, listening, recalling those words read from the pulpit on his own wedding day, his bride standing next to him in the same spot where the young couple stood now. The priest had forgotten the “kiss your bride” part; when they finally did, she squeezed his hand and nothing else mattered.

 

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Continue reading “Six Sentence Stories – Take My Hand”