Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Thanksgiving through the end of November

Wow. I cannot believe that November is over tonight and tomorrow is the very first day of December. The past thirty days have flown by. I'm always left in shock when a month ends because there are times when it feels like it drags on forever and then, whoosh it's over. So here it is- the wrap up to my Thirty Days of Thankfulness.

Day 27- I am thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a kid I never really appreciated it. I enjoyed learning about the pilgrims and the Native Americans because that appealed to my heritage. Sure, whipping up butter and making pilgrim clothing out of paper bags was fun. Then there's always the food to look forward to. A Thanksgiving feast meant a delicious gold oven roasted turkey, whipped mashed potatoes, buttery corn, cheesy broccoli, sweet and tart cranberry sauce, steamy stuffing, and mom's pretty pearl onions; however there weren't presents! Lame.  Every Thanksgiving morning I woke up to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, which felt like an all day event. Surely the turkey would have been done once the parade was over and Santa made an appearance. My impatient youth didn't allow me to really appreciate the true beauty of Thanksgiving. It took moving 1,000 miles away from the family I grew up with to truly be grateful for Thanksgiving. That special Thursday in November means waking up to tradition and that feel good excitement of knowing a parade is starting that will instantly transport you to your childhood. Thanksgiving means truly being grateful for your parents who gave you all they could while growing up and never letting you down when the holidays came around. I never knew until I was old enough to catch on that we went without a lot of things. Thanksgiving means spending time with family near and far (through the phone) and loving every moment of it. It means the beginning of the Christmas season when all things seem magical and the possibilities are endless. As an adult and as a mom, I am truly thankful for Thanksgiving Day.

Day 28- I am thankful that I do not have to work in a grocery store on Black Friday and that I can sleep in.

Day 29- I am thankful for a mom who always gives me a pep talk and believes in me no matter what.

Day 30- I am thankful that God knew that I was ready to feel like I had more than I could bare and lead me back to church this morning. It felt like coming home.

So there you have it! Thirty days done and over with. My fall decorations are packed up and the Christmas decorations have come out. It's also the first day of Advent, which when I was growing up was one of my favorite times of year. My heart is singing and saying, "Welcome to the Christmas season!" So with that I am going to have sip of eggnog and head off into dream land.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Days 15-26

Happy Thanksgiving! Turkey Day is here and I could not be more excited. A little more on that in a later post because I have to catch up.

Day 15: I am thankful for my friend, Mary. We've known each other since 10th grade and even though our schedules get busy and we go days (and sadly months) without talking we can pick back up where we left off like it's no big deal. That's a special friend.

Day 16: I am thankful for quiet Sunday.

Day 17: I am thankful for evenings spent with my husband after we both have had a long day of work, especially when he's not home for 8 days straight.

Day 18: I am thankful for the view out my window during any kind of weather. It's like my own personal living piece of art.

Day 19: I am thankful for my cats, Sammy and Mick. They have really started to embrace the Baby Monster. I love watching Mick try to give my son some cat snuggles.

Day 20: I am thankful for a sweet desert every now and then to celebrate a friend's birthday. I'm glad that the world has happy people in it because we need to that joy to hold on to.

Day 21: I am thankful for the few early out days I get because it means more time with my son. Those days are even sweeter when they happen on a Friday before a break.

Day 22: I am thankful for spontaneous days out with my family that lead to laughter and fun.

Day 23: I am thankful for a dish washer. Enough said.

Day 24: I am thankful for the time spent with my mother baking holiday cookies. The holiday tradition brings me back to happy childhood memories filled with warmth.

Day 25: I am thankful for the new tradition of meeting up at lunch with my co-workers, who are now friends. We do this one a month and it's something I always look forward to.

Day 26: I am thankful for my sister-in-law who was one of my best friends before she came a member of my family. We just get each other! I'm also thankful that it is Thanksgiving Eve!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Days 12, 13, and 14

It's short and sweet today since it's Friday and I'm whooped.

Day 12- I'm thankful for my Crockpot. Yes, you read that correctly. Some days can't be beat when you have had a hectic time of it only to come home and remember that your dinner is done because it's been cooking all day long. That takes one more thing off my to-do list and allows me to relax with my husband and son. I know my ancestors would have been thankful for a slow cooker too!

Day 13- I'm thankful for a body that functions like it should. My body my not be at my ideal fitness level, but it hasn't given out on me. It allows me to exercise, play tag with son, dance with my husband and hug my mom. When I get frustrated with my looks I will remember this.

Day 14- I am thankful for a best friend-turned-sister-in-law who is also a wonderful aunt and her equally wonderful husband.  The Baby Monster received a special Halloween treat today complete with a trick-or-treat bag for next year and a set of fantastically fun Halloween books. The Baby Monster is blessed to have those two loving people in his life.

Enjoy your Friday night, ya'll!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day

My day 11 of my Thirty Days of Thanks is dedicated to all of the service men and women who selflessly gave their time and their lives to protecting the country that I love. Throughout my life I had many veterans to look up to. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII as did my great uncle. My father was part of the National Guard. The Vietnam War ended right before it was his turn to deploy. I am forever grateful for what these brave men and women do. They are proud, courageous and patriotic- they are everything this country stands for.

I was teaching my students about the importance of Veterans' Day on Monday. It was important to me that they understood why we did not have school today. They were astonished when I told them that the members of our Armed Forces had to report to work today while we were at home with our families. Then they cried out in disbelief when they realized that those same men and women wouldn't be home for Christmas. Right then and there they began to understand the importance of this day. We are going to continue learning about veterans this week. Tomorrow we are making thank you cards to send out. It's my hope that this week's lessons stays with them throughout their lives.

Thank you to those who have served, those who are serving and those who will serve in the future. Without you everything we love and hold dear in this country wouldn't exist. You are heroes and never forget it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coffee Memories

It's November 10, which means I am on my tenth reason to be thankful. Today's thankful thought was brought on by my friend. She took her daughter to get her first coffee drink and shared the sweet moment with us. When I saw the picture of her daughter holding a warm cup of peppermint mocha it brought me back to my first taste of coffee with my mom.

Going to the mall with my mom was a special treat. Growing up we were all so busy. For a long time my mother acted like a single parent taking care of three children while my father worked two back- to -back jobs. His part-time job bordered on full-time hours. My mom had to clothe us, feed us, get us to school and still make sure we made it to dance classes and baseball practices. We also threw Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls in the mix for good measure. As the oldest child I missed having my mom to myself, so a trip to our mall with only her made my world go round.

Many a mall trip would result in a stop at The Beanery. It was this little coffee shop in the mall with just a counter and a register. My aunts and uncle claimed it as coffee gold and my mouth watered whenever I stopped by with them. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee would fill my nose and make me just want to try one little taste. The request was always met with, "I'm sorry, but you're too young." Then there was that one special trip...

We made our usual pit stop at The Beanery after walking through the mall and stopping in at the Franklin Mint. I loved gazing at the beautiful porcelain dolls they sold. My mom was ordering something delicious. Darn it, I was old enough to try it this time! To my delight my mom walked me to a bench so we could sit, relax and talk. We chatted, she sipped, and we chatted some more. Then she handed me the cup. Giddy was the way to describe it. Finally, she noticed that I was old enough to have coffee just like her.

It was decaf...that's why!

"Finish it. It's yummy," she told me. Oh was she correct. At the bottom of the cup was a milky brown liquid with what looked like a swirl of chocolate mixed in. I had my first taste of mocha! That was it- I was hooked. I sipped the last of the mocha concoction until was gone, licked my lips, and grinned up at my mom. She smiled back at me. Then we stood up and continued to walk through the mall, looking at Yankee Candle. When we came across this store it mean that our trip was almost over.

Getting in the car I licked my lips one more time, savoring the chocolately coffee taste while gazing up at the moon through the car window. In that moment I knew I'd  never forget having my first coffee with my mom. The experience is like a precious gem that I have tucked away safe and sound, but enjoy taking out to admire every now and then.

Every minute with my mother is a gift, and everyday I am thankful for each and every moment with her. Even the coffee filled ones.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Days 6,7,8 and 9

Can we just press the pause button? I need to catch my breath and try to wrap my head around the fact that by Friday we are halfway through the month. Why does time accelerate as we get older? I can't figure out why it had to turn out like that. Even more reason to be thankful for all of the little things!

Day 6- I am thankful for my students. I don't remember if I've already mentioned them, but if so it's okay because I am truly grateful and privileged to be their teacher. My kindergarten students are sweet, hilarious and offer me the best perspective on life. They remind me not to get caught up in life and just stop and smell the roses!

Day 7- I am thankful for my wonderful, amazing and beautiful fellow teacher and friend, Livie. We've been teaching together for three years now and I couldn't imagine doing it without her. She makes me a better teacher and person. She's a saint. A girl needs good friend in her life. I'm proud to call her mine!

Day 8- I am thankful for my friend Danielle. I'm so happy we wound up having classes together in college. She's an amazing! She's also a force to be reckoned with. I'm also proud to call her my friend. I think it will be a lifelong friendship- who else can I obsess over Once Upon A Time and Harry Potter with?

Day 9- I am thankful for my son's smile. He's at that stage where he wants to show affection, but only on his terms. When he smiles at me my breath stops, my heart is ready to burst and I want to cry. He's a gift from God. His smile is going to change the world.

Tomorrow is a Monday. I'm making a promise to myself not to get caught up in the Monday Blues, but to take it on with a positive attitude.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Days 4 and 5

And let the thanks continue!

Day 4- I am thankful for a wonderful group of mothers I met through Facebook almost three years ago. They were there while I was pregnant as understanding and sympathetic mothers and mothers-to-be when Dr. Google became too overwhelming and when I just needed someone to talk to. A few years later I still keep in touch with those amazing ladies. I haven't met them in person, but I feel like they are a group of friends I can count on. Maybe one day we'll actually meet! 

Day 5- Today I am thankful for coffee. That's right, I said it. It perks me up in the morning when I unwillingly wake up in the morning. It's the perfect reason for planning an outing with friends. Also, it tastes delicious! I can't believe I waited until I was almost a senior in high school before I decided it was a necessity. Thank you, coffee! You give me the extra push I need. 

I wonder what's in store for Day 6? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Days 1-3

Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays in the last couple of years. I enjoy the history behind it and I love the message that it brings front and center each year. While I am thankful for the people and blessings I have in my life, it's just nice to really focus on those blessings during a special time each year. For me, this time of year, Thanksgiving, is a time of reflection. Instead of celebrating a bountiful harvest, it's a celebration of the blessings I received and using them to  move forward. With that being said, here are my first three blessings that I am thankful for.

Day 1- I am thankful for my husband. He loves me unconditionally. He thinks I'm beautiful, smart, and perfect.Some days a girl just needs that validation because getting through each day is though. A person could lose themselves in it all, but he makes sure I'm always on the correct path.  Everyday he reassures me that I'm the one for him, and not everyone can say they have that. I am thankful for my best friend.

Day 2- I am thankful for stories. Whether they are told by family members, friends, movies or book, a story is special.  The ability to slip away into another world, real or imaginary, is a gift. It's also fun!

Day 3- I am thankful for the snuggles and cuddles from a sweet toddler. Everything in my world is put into place when I can hold my son in my arms. It's a privilege to know the feeling of trust and love without any hesitation.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why Do I Do This?

Seriously? I haven't written a post since July? You think to yourself, "I have time to do it later." Later never happens though. I obviously lost a lot of "laters" because it's been nearly 3 months since I  have taken the time to sit down and write. Life gets too busy and I wait for down time, but when will I learn that down time doesn't exist? Nope, time flies by.

In the past three months a lot has happened. The Baby Monster turned one! I still can't believe it. He's such a vibrant little character. It may not be correct to call him The Baby Monster, he's a toddler  now. Where did my baby go? The Baby Toddler doesn't sound right. Baby Monster is here to stay! Parents are right when they say you will always be their baby. The Baby Monster could be 40 years old and he'd still be my baby.

You can't tell by this picture, but he did have a wonderful first birthday party. We did a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme since he LOVES Mickey. All of our friends and family came to celebrate our sweetheart's first year of life. It was all smiles and fun until the cake came out. The Baby Monster HATES cake. The icing freaked him out. He looked at the cake with huge wide eyes because it was pretty amazing, but the moment the icing touched his fingers it was all over. Maybe next year I should try a giant cookie?

Other things that have happened...I started my first year as a kindergarten teacher. It's been a fun ride so far! Kindergarten is where I belong. It's a joy to see my kiddos' smiling faces each day. They crack me up at least once a day and definitely make me see the world from a different perspective. It's crazy to think that I started my journey into the field of education thinking I was going to teach secondary education. I thank my lucky stars that I decided to teach elementary education.

In three months time I have watched my little boy grow and have taught my heart out. Coming home from a day of teaching to an active toddler is much more exhausting than teaching a full day of third grade and coming home to a newborn. The Baby Monster is keeping me on my feet. Oh, and making me go blind. He broke my glasses today!

So, I'm back in the saddle and plan to take time for myself to write. Maybe this month I'll focus on what I am thankful for. This time of year can get crazy for me, especially when I set my expectations too high for a perfect holiday season. I need to focus on what is most important- family, friends and the blessing of seeing a new day.  I need the reminder because I let the things that matter to me just slip away sometimes. Time does not stop, so I need to keep up, take it when I want to and appreciate the small things in life.