The Scent of Change – A Six Sentence Story

She hated the smell of Christmas.

Once upon a time, though, that wasn’t so. Christmastime had always provided a heady mix of memories, happy evenings spent listening to the pop and hiss of the fire as it warmed the room and all within it, breathing in the woodsy outdoors of a sledding day brought into the center of the room on snowy branches turned green and sparkling with lights and ornaments that reflected the crackling firelight.

Like her memories, the ornaments were a jumbled mess of handmade expressions of love and the store bought kind she always thought of as “fancy,” the pastel sugar-frosted ones with cut out spaces for Santa, snowmen, and angels. Christmas was always like this – a collection of perfect moments captured forever in their annual certainty.

But now, Christmas was different – still filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of years past yet empty in the moments where their smiles belonged, cut out spaces filled only with the certainty that Christmas would forever be changed.

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is PINE. 

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.

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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Two Days of Rest – #10Thankful

Sunday evening again. My least favorite time to write a TToT post.

Why, then, does it seem that I’m always doing mine on Sunday evening?

I thought I might skip this week because I have been sick. The yearly mandatory bout with bronchitis. I tried not to let it get away from me. But it did. It always does. I think I just have to concede that I have a chronic bronchitis thing and be done with it.

But let’s commence with the thankfulness because, honestly, I have too big a headache to give this much of my energy. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

So first off, I’m thankful that I’m writing this at all. There, I said it.

Frozen homemade spaghetti sauce with cleaned and prepped fresh broccoli, all courtesy of our wonderful CSA membership. This means my family got a good dinner and I didn’t have to do much work (or cough all over it) to get the job done.

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I’m thankful that I didn’t tell off someone who really irritated me this weekend. Considering my level of crankiness due to being sick, that’s not bad. And I’m so very grateful for my mom’s friendship and guidance in that situation and in all others, always.

I have not made much tangible progress with my NaNoWriMo projects this week once we got past day one. But. I’ve been planning and plotting and doing some reading and research so as soon as I kick this germ out of me once and for all – or at least enough that I can concentrate on writing – I’ll forge ahead and hopefully catch up. And hey, I didn’t go bonkers and decide I’m a failed writer because I got behind the eight ball, like instantly. OK, maybe once. A little. But I moved on.

Here’s a little convoluted hypo-gratitude for you: I’m thankful that I’ve had bronchitis enough times to know exactly what my doctor would tell me to do and that I had all supplies and treatments on hand already. I caved and started the antibiotic this afternoon, but it was clear that we had reached that point. And I’m glad I had some at the ready in the medicine cupboard.

For hot tea and the Hub’s amazing coffee and all other manner of warm drinks to soothe my body and soul, I am grateful. For a pile of good books to plow through curled up in bed or on a chair or on a couch. For enjoying a beautiful autumn day (twice) from just inside the sliding glass doors while plowing through books. For my Hub and Zilla for being perfectly happy to have an at-home weekend while I’m sick and for the fact that we were planning that anyway since last week was crammed full. For the best snuggles ever with my Zilla. For tissues.

I am thankful.

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In Which I Tell You I’m About to Disappear – #10Thankful

This is going to be tremendously short.

First, let me say that I most definitely do not enjoy writing my TToT posts on Sunday evenings. If I’m here on a Sunday evening with fingers to keys, it means either A) I had a hard time figuring out what to put on my list, B) I was out doing stuff all weekend and never saw my desk or keyboard, or C) I plain old just didn’t get to it.

Whichever answer is true – and this week it’s B – I still don’t enjoy the Sunday night write because it just feels so forced and deadline-ish.

But. I’m doing it still.

The tremendously short version of my list of thankfuls is that we’ve had a wonderful weekend enjoying the completely not-fall-like weather (mid 70s the last two days – bizarre) and taking a little weekend getaway that we love. Fun. So I’m thankful we were able to do that.

I’m thankful the port-a-johns at the farm where we visited a fall festival today were unbelievably clean. I kid you not. And I’m glad we got to enjoy a  nice very not-crowded afternoon with Zilla and a cousin at said fall festival. They had a good time.

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I’m tired as can be, but I’m glad for that, too, because it means my body can get up and move around fairly well and my muscles got used in good ways. I’m also pretty thankful for a little ibuprofen and some tea and a comfy bed on which to put up my feet and recover.

I’m pretty thankful that no one in this TToT crew is going to mind that this is short (although is it really at this point?) and haphazard because hey, whatever you do is fine and this crew does not judge.

Finally – this is the thankful where I finally get around to explaining my – I’m thankful to have a (sort-of) plan that may help me reach some of my personal and professional goals. I’m about to kind of disappear for the next month. See, I’ve decided to go ahead and give NaNoWriMo a try again. Last year I put a project in the system and got exactly nowhere. This year I have three projects in the works that I want to make significant progress with and so I’m doing it. I have all sorts of reservations about NaNoWriMo – the obligation versus desire factor where writing is concerned, the actual quality of anything banged out in a 30-day mad dash, the realistic potential to sit and write that volume every single day… But you know what? I need these three things out of my head and in any form of semi-half-baked completedness on screen and page.

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So this space may remain empty many days. It is my hope to continue posting semi-regularly. I may not get around to read or comment or share at anyone else’s page for a few weeks. It is my hope that I will because I love reading all of you. My house probably won’t get cleaned very often if I’m writing that intensely. It is my hope…. Pfft. Who’s kidding whom? I wasn’t going to clean anyway.

I may or may not “succeed” in producing anything for NaNo. But if I’m absent in the online world, let’s assume it’s because I’m getting something done. You know where to find me if you want or need me and I’ll pop in at least for a bit – you know that much is true.

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And now I have to end this and move on, mostly because I’m falling asleep at the keyboard and it is time to go finish out my evening, put my kid to bed, and relax.

Pretend I left you with a snappy and entertaining close here.

See you soon!

~ XO <3

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A Sense of Home – #10Thankful

I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately.

Kristi’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt this week was “when it comes to home…” So, naturally, I spent time thinking about the idea of home. And while I procrastinated pondered, I took a look at the things I had saved for my #10Thankful post last this week. Many were simple and beautiful moments of home that touched me in a particular way. Thinking I was onto something, I wondered if these two themes of home and gratitude couldn’t be married…

 

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There are so many ideas regarding home, so many interpretations. If you look up quotes about home, you find words and ideas as varied as the people who spoke them. Each one of them (and at the same time none of them) offers an answer. One or two of those quotes may resonate with this person or that, but not with a third. The reason, at least in my mind, is that the concept of home is something so very personal that perhaps there cannot be a definitive answer.

In his poem, “Death of the Hired Man,” Robert Frost wrote,

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,

They have to take you in.”

Obviously, there’s a whole lot going on in that poem and we could talk about just that for the rest of the day. But let’s just stick with that little part…that statement about home. It doesn’t say what it seems to say. The line is not “when you go there”; the line is “when you have to go there.” That makes it different, doesn’t it? It seems more about where you go or to whom you turn when you need home…whatever that may be.

So what is home?

 

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For many people, the idea of home is attached to a physical place. But when time moves us forward, as it always does, and that physical building is no longer our home, we find home elsewhere. For some that physical place may be a house – complete with walls and floors and windows and closets. For others, that physical place may be a hotel room, a shelter, or even a cardboard box. Are these any less “home”?

A home may include the people you love and live with every day. But some people live alone. Does it mean they have less of a home? I have lived among family, friends, and roommates and I have also lived alone. In each case the situation was definitely my home. Not all of those circumstances were ideal, not all were meant to be anything more than temporary. At the very least, each one was the home I needed at that time and I never felt as though I didn’t belong.

So home could be whatever sense of belonging we have. That feeling when you are surrounded by who or what is most important to you. Or is home more a state of mind, a sense of being where we belong in life, either physically or emotionally. Maybe home is doing the things that bring us comfort. For me, home is cooking for my family, my daughter learning by my side. It is playing games, reading books, or watching movies together. Home is our everyday routine, the rhythms and patterns that make up our days and nights. Home is that sense of normalcy and “this is what we do.” I am so grateful for the nest my little family shares together and the time we spend in it together. But even when we spend time together out of our physical home, there is a sense of home that goes with us.

 

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I sometimes think home is a season. Certain times of the year make us feel most at home, regardless of where we are. For me, the return of cool weather and the changing of nature’s colors feels like coming home. Maybe it’s because fall signals a return to school and routine and that’s comforting. Or maybe it’s that fall is that harbinger of the homecoming season – the fall and winter holidays where people tend to return to their hometowns, their families, their memories.

Maybe home is any way we grow and learn and change – as a physical home is built, so is the home of “self.” Maybe it’s about working on better balance in life, staying on top of schedules or homework or activities. Maybe it’s getting and keeping the house cleaned or doing some painting or remodeling. Maybe it’s getting more sleep or exercise, working toward a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Whatever process of change brings us to a better version of ourselves could be what makes us feel at home.

Perhaps home is a return to our truest self. Do we feel most comfortable, most “at home” when we finally submit to that? When I consider the person I am today, the life I’m living, the goals I have set before me, I find that none of it is what I would have expected or desired ten or even five years ago. But maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to work. There’s that process of change and growth, of self-realization that takes place and one day not-so-suddenly we wake and realize that this – this – is who I am and who I was always meant to be. For me, it feels like a return to center, a return to what was always there, waiting for me to need to arrive. So if go back to Frost’s line, even if we’re talking about a return to self, it makes sense. When we’re ready to arrive at our true self, when we need to arrive, we have to open the door.

And so home is all of this and more. It is a feeling, a sense of self, something that lives within.


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Ten Things of Thankful
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This has also been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s topic is “When it comes to home…”

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Our host this week, as always, is the lovely and talented Kristi Campbell from Finding Ninee.

#10Thankful – Cycles and Seasons

If one thing is certain in life, it is cycles.

Seasons come and go, night turns surely to morning, and years pass more quickly than we might hope.

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It’s hard not to see this time of year as an end. It is the end of summer, the end of sleeping in and staying up late, the end of a distinct freedom that exists when nights are brief and days are long and rich. But summer’s end ushers in autumn’s beauty, a time of warm sensory splendor. The vibrant colors of the changing foliage, the crisp smell of apple cider and pumpkin spice everything, the quiet entrance of a slight nip in the evening air…all serve as not-so-subtle reminders that the passing of warmth brings a certain hurtling toward the dark and cold of winter.

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It’s hard not to see winter as bleak, and many people do so. We trade long, lazy days for long, drowsy nights. We swap the feel of hot sun for fuzzy sweaters on our skin. We bemoan the cold and hunker down to wait for spring. But why?

The older I get, the more I grow to appreciate the beauty in each season, to see that each season serves distinct purpose, whether in nature or in our lives. Winter nights may be long and cold, but morning will surely follow. Ice and snow may cover the ground, but soon will melt and ready the earth for new growth. Winter is a time for rest and renewal, a preparation for what comes next. The snows of winter blanket the earth, softening the landscape and smoothing the rough edges. Without winter to provide a period of rest, spring is perhaps less interesting. How can we appreciate light and warmth and renewal without understanding dark and cold and exhaustion?

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Just as the seasons flow surely one into another, our lives will always cycle through good times and bad. While it may be difficult to recall the feel of summer sun or the smell of springtime blooms, we can ride out the latent hours of winter secure in the knowledge that even though far away, the new season will eventually come. And no matter in which season we wait, it is imperative that we seek  what is good and beautiful about each season of life.

 

This summer, I have been so grateful for the gift of time. We spent time as a family doing all the proper things of a summer vacation. We enjoyed day trips and hikes and movies outside under the stars. We stayed up late, chased fireflies, watched sunsets, and slept until our bodies were satisfied. We enjoyed the fruits of the summer, both literally and figuratively. We enjoyed fresh produce and icy cool drinks, slogged through humidity before collapsing, relieved, into chilled indoor spaces. We played games and read books for hours, with little concern about the hour for meals or sleep.

We lived.

Now that summer is passing its torch to fall, I am grateful for a return to routine. Back to school means back to regular bedtimes and regular rising. Autumn means it is time to gear up for the season of harvest, of coming home, reaping the benefits of what we have sown. The fruits of the earth change with harvest time, but are no less enticing. Autumn brings a return to warm drinks, cozy blankets, and hot soup simmering on the stove. We will feel the sting of icy wind on our cheeks and breathe the cold, clean air. We will shield our eyes from the bright sun reflected on sparkling surfaces after a snowfall. There will be time to play games and read books for hours as the wind howls and the snow falls outside the windows.

And while we await spring, we will live.

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The Fallow Period

Words do not always come easily.

Precious few words found their way to this space over the last several months – a mere dozen posts since the first of June, and none of them in August. It’s been a strange and wonderful period in which my mind has been filled with words and ideas, but my published page has remained empty.

As I look back over the last few months, I realize it’s a period I can only describe as fallow.

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A fallow field is plowed and harrowed, but left unsown. Since ancient times, farmers have utilized the practice of leaving fields fallow in order to improve the quality of the soil and allow for rejuvenation. Doing so results in more fertile soil and, it would logically (and hopefully) follow, healthier and more abundant crops.

I wonder if this process is also true for the creative imagination. Think about it. The term fallow is often used to describe a long period of time in which a writer, musician, or artist produces no new work. It is a period during which very little happens – or in which little seems to happen. But progress is not always marked by tangible or visible means. Perhaps allowing creative energies time to lie fallow may produce similar benefits – rejuvenation, fertility, and abundance. And just as the farmer makes a conscious choice to leave a field uncultivated, the choice to allow a period of creative rest should be no accident. It must be an act of will, an intentional short-term investment in order to yield long-term benefits. There may appear to be no activity, but beneath the surface there is work being done.

It has been a while since I have shared my words with anyone other than my Self. Rather than fear this period of inactivity, though, I have welcomed it. Rather than see it as a sure sign of failure, I believe it is a sure sign of great things to come. Even more than a period of rest for my mind, it has been a period of silent and unseen cultivation for my heart and spirit as well.

I look forward to sharing the fruits of this unseen labor with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#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!

 

Ten Things of Thankful
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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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