Thanksgiving Gratefulness

The holiday season has begun and we have just celebrated Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is always a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. When you think about it, it’s pretty cool that out of all the holidays we have that sometimes to me seems only like a money scheme, that we have one that seems positive and promotes a spirit of reflection. I think we go through life at a very fast pace all the time. Because of that, it is rare ,if ever, these days we stop and think about what we are truly grateful for. So, as I have done in years past, here’s my 2011 list of what I’m grateful for this holiday season:

1. Being alive -With the recent passing of my brother in law, being alive tops my list this year and life has taken on a whole new meaning. Coming face to face with death causes you to truly appreciate life. When you see how quickly life can leave a person, you try not to take for granted life itself.
2. Being in good health -I am truly thankful for having a reasonable amount of good health. Being able to wake up each morning and move about on my own is a blessing and not to be taken lightly. I can put on my own clothes and do things for myself and not have someone take care of me.
3. My immediate family-I’ve been blessed with a wonderful husband and two wonderful kids. My kids truly bring me smiles when no one else can and they bring a certain level of order and balance to my life. They enhance my reasons to press on when I feel like I can’t take another step.
4. True friends-I saw firsthand who my true friends were during our recent ordeal. I experienced some hurt and disappointment at certain friends who “disappeared” during our difficult time and I thought out of all the people they would have been there. But on the contrary, to my surprise and gladness we had some true friends who unselfishly gave of their time and their prayers along the way. I’m truly grateful for every text, visit and call just to say how are you and let me know if you need anything. Some of the special memories are our friends that drove 5 hours to be with us on the night of Derrick’s death and a past co-worker that came to his funeral as an act of support for me. Those two memories took literally my breath away as I thought about their sacrifice and how much they demonstrated their care instead of just saying it.
5. Great Career-Wow! When I think about the career I’ve had, I’m in amazement at the progress and success I have had. I’m humbled by it all and can’t take any credit. I remember changing my major midstream and at the time I had no clue what I was doing and where I was going. But every step has been guided by God with every job and every experience. In a time of high unemployment, I’m grateful for a good job that I enjoy.

Not a long list, but an important list. Simply grateful.

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Christmas 2010

We had a great Christmas a week or so ago. We opened gifts on Christmas Eve morning so the kids could have the time to play with their gifts before we got on the road the next day for traveling. There were surprises all around and here are some pics that captured some of the moments.

A White Christmas

In my 35 years of living, I am sure I have never ever seen a white Christmas. First of all, I grew up in Huntsville, AL where snow comes pretty infrequently. So combine that infrequency with the December 25, the odds are pretty slim you will have a white Christmas.

Well, enter in 2010 and the odds won out. Huntsville, AL received 2-4 inches of snow I heard in some parts. The oddity is that I now live in Birmingham, AL and we did not get any snow so in my front yard there was not a white Christmas.

But, all hope was not lost. We traveled to Tennessee Christmas Day and was able to see some snow driving on the way there. It was absolutely beautiful to see. The kids were excited and it made Christmas even more special. It feels like it solidifies the season, the moments, and the day. Snow seems very peaceful and its beauty has a way of altering your mood and emotions I think.

When we got to TN, there was snow at my in-laws house and their grandmother offered to take the kids outside and play in the snow. I let them share that time together in the freezing cold weather and they had a blast!

Christmas 2009

We had a great Christmas! Lucas was semi-aware of what was going on. He was excited to tear the paper and open presents. He wanted to open them all, even the ones that were not his. By next year, he will know more about what is going on. Lauren enjoyed herself too. Her big present this year was a Nintendo DS that she has begged for since last Christmas. She was very excited to get that.

We did the usual fare: opened presents as a family Christmas Eve night and then headed home Christmas day. On Christmas Eve night, “Santa” and the local fire department paid a visit in the neighborhood as they traditionally do.  Here are some pictures of our holiday season:

Thanksgiving 2009

Today is a day set aside to give thanks. I appreciate this holiday because it is a great reminder and catalyst for us to pause amidst our busyness and say thanks.  My life the past few months has been hurried, chaotic and full of routine chores of wife, mommy, employee, friend, etc. Hectic is an understatement. But, today as I pause and catch my breath, I am thankful for several things:

1. God’s grace-I feel so undeserving of it and stand in awe that he continues to allow me to experience it.

2. Family- My kids and husband remind me constantly of unconditional love. I am glad for the times we get to share and spend together. My beautiful daughter Lauren is so smart and so full of life. She is always trying to learn something new and is so loving. Lucas has shown me just how quickly my heart can turn to putty as he looks up at me with his big brown eyes and long eyelashes.

3. Friends-The world would be a lonely place without my friends. I appreciate the times they call and check on me when time has lapsed. I appreciate them being happy with me when I am happy and caring for me when I am sad. I appreciate being able to be who I am and they still want to be friend after seeing “who” that is.

4. My job-In this time of recession, I am thankful for being employed and I love the company I work for. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my career and I am indeed grateful for the opportunity.

There are other things that I am thankful for but I am out of time, space and breath for now. I am glad for this pause in my life and I hope to maintain this level of thankfulness even when the busyness returns…

Happy Mother’s Day

I had a good Mother’s Day. When I came home from work Friday, I declared it Mother’s Day Weekend! I called a family meeting and informed them of my declaration and what it meant. I explained to them that mommy was on vacation until Monday morning and that even though they saw me, I was not really there:) Of course, Lauren immediately went into “question box” mode and spit out question after question. I explained that all her questions, needs, wants, favors should be directed to her father. I let her know that mommy was not making any decisions or doing any work the entire weekend. It was liberating just to even say that!

Everyone played along with my declaration and gave me a much needed break. Marcus took care of the kids the whole weekend. He cooked breakfast on Sunday morning while I slept late until 8:30 am! They surprised me with cards and gifts (shoes, pedicure treatment, dinner). The best gift of all though was when I actually left the house for about 5 hours and shopped all by myself. It was peaceful and quiet.

It was a great day and I am thankful for my two beautiful kids. Otherwise, I would not have been able to make a declaration..it would have been just another Sunday.

Valentines and Waffles

This was the “weekend of  love” as many celebrated Valentine’s Day. I must admit Marcus and I do not go to the extreme to celebrate this occasion anymore as in times past. The holiday never goes by unnoticed, but it is not one where we plan big things or buy big presents. We never want to go out to dinner that night andwait for 2 hours amongst all the “teeny boppers” we call them. You know, teeny boppers are the young teenagers who are out overdressed andgiddy because they get to hang out late with some guy that just started paying them attention 2 weeks ago. Or if you are not waiting beside teeny boppers, you are beside the couple who are in their early to mid 20’s that are still dating and the girl is hoping that this may be the night he proposes.

So, I ask myself  where does a married couple of 5+ years with 2 or more kids fit amongst that? They fit at home ordering in a pizza trying to grab some alone time as soon as the kids go to bed.

But, that is not what this post is about. It is about a brief article featured in the Birmingham News today. The article talked about Waffle House tried a new concept this year to celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of  the stores in Birmingham had candlelight dinner for its guests on Saturday. They  had white tablecloths, candlelight, and romantic music playing over the PA system. When I saw that, I was between laughter and confusion. I like Waffle House and I will give them credit for having some of the best waffles and eggs. But, when I think  of romance and love, the thought of syrup, waffles,  and a jukebox do not enter my mind.

Who goes to Waffle House to celebrate Valentine’s Day? I am sure they had customers in there on Saturday that had a taste for breakfast food, etc. But, did they purposely go to eat by candlelight across from their love and whisper sweet nothings? Not quite sure of Waffle House’s intent or marketing scheme, but if I were them I would just stick to waffles and syrup!