#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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#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 – 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 – 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?

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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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TToT – Transitions and Getting Back on Track

Fall has always been a time of transition and fresh starts for me.

This year is no different. The change of seasons itself is a beautiful time of change – for me, the move from hot and humid to cool and comfortable is glorious. And I love the color changes, too. Although the fresh, bright greens of summer are beautiful in their own right, there is something special about the first pops of autumn color. And I’m looking forward to seeing more in the coming weeks.

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And even though I am no longer teaching, the start of a new school year always feel like a New Year’s of sorts – a time to get back into a routine, start something new, get a fresh perspective. Clean book covers, new school shoes, empty notebooks and freshly-sharpened pencils get me every time, even if they aren’t mine.

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TToT – The Last Long Weekend

Friday evenings hold something glorious and exciting.

But when Thursday is the new Friday and the weekend is four days long? That first evening of the weekend is even more thrilling. We’ve had quite a few long weekends since the Hub only had to go into work Tuesdays through Thursdays all summer. So here we are at the end of the first day of our last four day weekend – the last real hurrah before school and September hit full stride…

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TToT – The Interim

Unbelievably, here we are at the end of summer.

School begins on Monday for Kidzilla, so this is our last weekend of summer freedom. But I still can’t pull my brain away from the thought that summer lasts until Labor Day and this whole back-to-school before Labor Day thing is nonsense.

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So for the next week, we’ll be sort of hovering in the interim between back-to-school routine and what should be the final days of summer. Of course, it’s all moot since summer doesn’t end by the calendar until late September. I guess the answer to the question of when summer ends is dependent upon the person you ask. 

But whatever.

While I’m a bit sad to see summer end, I’m also glad we’ll be getting back to a more structured routine with the start of school. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of each season, but seasons must and do change. I’m ready, I think.

Regardless of what the school calendar says, it’s still the weekend and that means it’s time to stop for a few moments and be thankful for the good in life… Continue reading “TToT – The Interim”

TToT – The Stuff of Distraction

Sometimes I get distracted.

Last weekend, I intended to post a second TToT because I had all the things to be thankful for. Then I forgot where I wrote them.

I found a draft in my drafts folder. It may or may not be the intended second TToT. Either way, I’m going to snag the couple of items here, add to it, and call it a day.

Thankful number one is a lovely photo of our CSA farm’s flower garden…how lovely is this place? Immediately behind the flower section are the vegetable sections. Part of our benefit there is we can pick our own from different sections each week. Can’t say any of us love the part where there are bugs around, but we do OK for a bunch of bug-o-phobes. And while I’d love to tell you we bring home bouquets of these gorgeous blooms each week, the truth is that we do not. Our allergies are just too bad and they make us miserable. So we enjoy them where they grow.

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TToT – Hiatus

Apparently, I’m on hiatus.

Not even kidding. Look back at my blog calendar since June and you will see a significant lack of posting. The TToT still makes it in each week, but lately that’s about it.

Oh, I have ideas…loads of them. Drafts, too. Half-written, abandoned, “meh, nobody will want to read this” kind of drafts. Few, if any, have (or will) see the light of day. I miss the link-ups that have become favorites, but thinking about getting back into them feels…hard. So I don’t.

So let’s just call it a hiatus. A summer hiatus, maybe.

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Because the other option was shutting down the blog and quitting the Internet completely for ten different reasons. But I like the TToT, and if I quit the Internet, that goes away, so…

Let’s get to it. But it’s going to be the sort of TToT you get after I’ve forgotten it’s the weekend, spent the morning out at the mountain, had lunch and a shower, and am now desperately fighting the urge to take a nap. The urge to just say “ah, mañana….” is great, but I think we all know that won’t happen, either.

Onward…

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