Tuesday, November 23, 2010


(The view out my back door this morning)

In honor of Thanksgiving this week I wanted to share a few of the things I've been thankful for lately. I compiled a list of 30 things; one for each day of this month. It's sort of like doing the whole Blog Everyday In November deal, but in one concise post. (Yeah, it's the easy way. Call me a cheater if you want, I'm cool with it.)

In no particular order, here are the first 30 things that come to mind when I'm feeling grateful this month:

1. The amazing sunrises and sunsets I can see from my house each morning and night. The mixture of various hues of pink, orange, red and purple serving as a backdrop to the clouds, mountains and trees is breathtakingly beautiful.

2. My amazing family. This whole process of being a good mother and wife is ongoing and I'm thankful that they are patient with me as I continue to work at being the best I can. They make me laugh and cry. They teach me to love unconditionally and deeply. They make me proud. I am one blessed lady when it comes to my family.

3. This talk. It serves as a wonderful reminder of making the things that are really important my priorities - and without making me feel guilty.

4. Living in a place that has 4 seasons. I'll admit that I wish autumn was a bit longer and that winter was much shorter, but this is where I chose to live so there's really no point in being a whiner about the snow. Besides, the snow is really quite beautiful to watch outside my window from inside my warm, cozy house. I love watching the seasons change on the mountains and in the giant tree at the end of our road.

5. My health. Despite the various maladies of pregnancy that I've been experiencing this time around, I am so thankful to be in good health. I can see. I can hear. I can walk (okay, sometimes I waddle) and talk and dance and sing and drive and eat and sleep and... the list is endless.

6. I am so thankful for the family that I married into! I have a whole second family that loves me, quirks and all, as a daughter and sister. Being compared to my mother-in-law is one of the greatest compliments I can receive because she is AWESOME. I'll admit that sometimes I get gripey about dumb little things - but when it comes to things that really matter, my in-law siblings and parents are an amazing support system and some of my truest friends.

7. Writing. I love being able to express myself and use a whole variety of adjectives and descriptions to try to put my thoughts in some concrete form onto paper (or, more commonly, the computer screen). At times I have even had people suggest that I write a book - this makes me happy.

8. Being almost completely debt-free. The only debt we have is our home! We don't own any credit cards and we are able, with patience and saving, to pay cash for our purchases. Allen's company sponsored a program for their employees a few years ago to encourage debt-free living and we have lived it and loved it.

9. Having a marketable skill. If anything were ever to happen which made it necessary for me to help support our family, I could jump back into being a sign language interpreter anytime. It is something I love to do and it pays well. What a blessing to have been born into a family where ASL was my first language!

10. Awesome friends. If tried to name them all individually - from casual acquaintances to those friends that feel more like family - I'd have the rest of my list filled in no time. There are those who have been around since my childhood, people I've met as a married woman and some who have only been a part of my life for a short time. Regardless, I am thankful for such a dynamic group of people who I am lucky enough to call my friends.

11. Socks! If I see a unique pair for a reasonable cost I have a hard time passing them by. If I see a pair that screams my name then I come up with some reason to justify their purchase despite the cost. Knee-high socks are my favorite but anything at least calf-length is good. Flowers, stripes, skulls, plaid, argyle, polka dots - even socks made to look like shoes are in my collection. I am thankful that socks allow me to express myself in sort of a quiet, hidden way that makes me happy.

12. I am thankful for photographs. The ones I take and the ones I see. They allow me to capture moments that words can sometimes not adequately describe. They let me peek into the lives of others - their families, their adventures, their perspectives of nature and architecture and so on. Pictures allow me to vicariously travel to places I have so far only dreamed about going (Australia, Europe, New York and Disney World to name a few) and to enjoy the beauty that others enjoy.

13. My crock pot! I am so thankful on busy days when I am not sure if I will have time to make a decent dinner that I have my trusty crock pot. I just set it on the counter in the morning, fill it with the required ingredients, then enjoy the delicious smell of my house all day. I periodically look over at that little kitchen miracle and think, I love you, Crock Pot. Because I do.

14. Laughter. My kids know a secret about me. If they start laughing, I must laugh as well. I can not remember when this started but my children's laughter is contagious. Even at inappropriate times, like during maturation class in the 5th grade. Even at times when I am angry and want to stay in that miserable state. Laughter always has a way of bringing me out of a funk and making my heart a little lighter.

15. My siblings and parents. I would not be who I am without their influence in my life. The things we experienced together had a huge impact on what has shaped me into the person I am today. I think it is safe to say that I would not even change some of the tougher times we had as a family because the memory of those trials have taught me some lessons in compassion, generosity and kindness.

16. MUSIC. It can transport me to places in my past. It often expresses my thoughts and feelings better than I can myself. Over the years music has held the power to transform my thoughts, my attitudes, my emotions and even my clothing choices. I think there are certain people who are very moved by music and I count myself as one of them. Music has the ability to work its way into places in me that words alone can not reach. Music is powerful and I am thankful to have it in my life.

17. Star Wars. Kind of strange to see on a thankful list? Not for our family. Everyone, from my teenage kids on down to Little O, can not get enough of it. Just mention Star Wars to Little O and he'll start singing you the theme song. The kids even suggested dressing as Star Wars characters for a family picture this year - but where can you find an authentic looking Chewbacca costume at a decent cost? Star Wars just makes me smile.

18. The good in people. It seems that the best in others comes out during the holiday season more than any other time of year and I love reading and hearing about random acts of kindness and charity and brotherly love. These kind of news stories are so much more uplifting than the kind we usually see. I am thankful for kind, generous people who give unselfishly of themselves.

19. Thrift stores. I am glad to have quite a few stores nearby which offer secondhand goods for sale. I love shopping for and finding amazing bargains. It makes my day to discover the perfect clothes or books or serving dishes or toys at a fraction of the actual cost in the aisles of one of my favorite thrift stores.

20. My metabolism. I always tell people that this is one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me. When someone asks how I am able to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy size so quickly or how I've stayed so thin while having a whole passel of kids, I always credit my awesome metabolism.

21. Teaching and teachers. I really miss being a Sunday School teacher at church. I still get sweet little notes from my cute class with hand-drawn pictures and phonetically spelled words. I am also thankful to be able to teach my own kids the things that I think are important. On that same note, I am thankful for great teachers. The ones who really 'get' my kids and their quirks. The ones who go out of their way to present my kids with a challenge. The teachers who love my kids enough to overlook their shortcomings. The ones who are not afraid to contact me when one of my children needs some parental involvement. They are not paid nearly enough but I am thankful that these exceptional teachers choose to continue to teach.

22. The internet. I can remember life before the internet. It consisted of many trips to the library to look things up in encyclopedias and other books of knowledge. But now? Just this morning while still in my pajamas I typed in 'How to keep apple slices from turning brown' (because I forgot, okay?) and learned about some ways to accomplish this that I had never heard of before. (Lemon juice was what I was looking for - but did you know you can also use any lemon-lime soda or apple juice? You're welcome.)

23. My religion. What can I say, really? Words can not express the gratitude I feel to be a member of my church. It has helped define who I am and what kind of choices I make. I am a better person because I try to live what is taught and do what is right. It makes me think deeper. It makes me a part of something bigger than myself. It teaches me to love and serve others. I will forever be thankful to the missionaries who taught my family 30 years ago and introduced us to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

24. My church congregation. Once I left the congregation where I grew up I never really felt like any other congregation that I attended was like 'home' - until now. The people are not perfect (they never are) but we care for each other and look out for each other. Our congregation has become an extension of our family.

25. Allen's job. Allen has worked for the same company for ten years now. It was a company started by our next door neighbor and Allen was hired as one of their first full-time employees. I love that Allen is happy with his work environment and enjoys what he does for a living. The company is family-friendly and loyal to its employees. They put out a magazine which featured an article this month about Allen and 2 others who hired on 10 years ago. I love this company so much that the article made me cry. I know, I'm a total sentimental baby. But as I read I couldn't help but think of all the ways this company has blessed our family over the years and how thankful I am that our neighbor saw potential in Allen and offered him the job.

26. Our home. I am often asked when we are moving because of the size of our family in comparison to the size of our house. The truth is that if circumstances allow, we will be content to live here forever. Our neighborhood is awesome. The location is perfect. Where else can you live within a 5 minute drive of a shopping mall, schools, and grocery stores but still see mountains out every window and be surrounded by pastures and farms? There are goats and horses next door. Cows and chickens down the street. Mules and sheep around the corner. Our neighbors share their fresh eggs and garden produce often. And none of that even accounts for the actual structure which we live in but I am thankful for it, too - for the protection and comfort it offers us.

27. Good books. I am thankful for books that are well written and engaging. I love getting to know the characters and feeling like they are my friends by the time I turn the last page. I am thankful for stories that make me think and change my attitude and perspective. I love the books that create mind-pictures as each scene unfolds. I am also thankful that my kids love books as much as I do.

28. My naturally curly hair. Most people I know who have curly hair complain about it but I really love my hair. All it takes is a little spritz of water to get the curl back if it's going frizzy or flat. It can be worn in a variety of ways - although I am pretty much a creature of habit when it comes to my hair. The other great thing is that I can straighten my hair if I ever want a change. I never do this on my own, but every time I go to get my hair done Raylene (call her, you won't be sorry) straightens it for me and I feel like Giselle when she gets made over in Enchanted (minus the dress and shoes).

29. Unique restaurants. My favorite kind of food is the kind I don't have to make myself. Well, most of the time that's true. But when I find an all-around great restaurant (food, service, atmosphere) that is quirky or offers something different from the norm I quickly become a loyal customer. I love it when people tell me about a great place they've tried, too - so feel free to share the love.

30. Packages. All packages are awesome, but unexpected ones are the best. There is nothing that makes my day quite like getting a package on my doorstep or in the mail! And it's not necessarily about what's inside - it's the idea that someone was thinking of me and put those thoughts into a concrete way of showing me that they were thinking of me. And the most amazing packages are those that remain completely anonymous. I am usually pretty good about discovering who the giver was, but someone once left a box which contained several pair of new, unique, high-quality socks on my doorstep and I am still guessing on that one. Another someone left me a box of donuts once. Long story, short: I am thankful for packages and the happiness they bring.

There's my 30. But I guess I could add here that I'm thankful you would take the time to read my list through to the end.

Thanks for being who you are - and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saying Thanks

"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." ~G.B. Stern

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because it reminds me to recognize the many things I have to be thankful for.

And, well, the pumpkin pie doesn't hurt, either.

Come join me at Four Perspectives and share what it is that you're grateful for today.

A Day of Gratitude

photo found at wordpress.com

Despite the fact that the retail market and radio stations have once again forgotten one of my favorite holidays, I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving. I love wearing sweaters, the crispness in the air, the leaves blanketing the ground and the plentiful supply of pumpkin-infused treats that become available in the autumn. Most of all, though, I love the time spent with family and friends over this holiday as well as the personal reflection on things that I am thankful for.

This time of personal reflection has brought about a bit of a problem, however - every thought seems to be laced with emotion. And I'm not talking pregnancy hormones. I have just been overwhelmed with thankfulness for how amazing my life is. What's the problem with that? you may be wondering. The only way I can think to describe it is to say that these thoughts and feelings are something for me alone - they are personal and even sacred to me and they are all I can think about. This makes for scarce blogging - because I don't really want to share how awesome my husband and kids are. I'm afraid it will come across the wrong way and those who read will roll their eyes and think I'm seeing through rose-colored glasses. (I'm not.)

It makes me feel braggy but I have a grateful heart nonetheless. Let me give you the gist of it...

Every time I look at my husband or any of my children lately I am overcome with a mixture of pride, happiness and emotion. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the gift I have been given in being able to bring another little one into our family. We are immensely blessed to have Allen love his steady job at an incredible company that is supportive of families. We live in a wonderful neighborhood - not only for the location but especially for the good people that we are lucky enough to call our friends. My family is in good health. Honestly, I could go on. And on. This is not bragging. The simple fact is that my life is awesome.

I have noticed that quite a few other bloggers use this month to write every day about something they are thankful for. I think that is a great idea and something I may even try one of these years. However, for now, instead of writing more about me and my blessings I would love to hear from you. Let's take time to recognize and focus on the great things that are happening in our lives. If you have to, go ahead and put on those rose-colored glasses. It's time to remember what we have to be thankful for...

Even if it's Christmas music playing 24/7 on the airwaves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For Your Reading Pleasure

Sorry I've been so quiet lately. We've been cleaning up the Halloween aftermath, among other things.

I forgot to mention that I did post on Four Perspectives last week - and all from my cell phone. (Are you impressed? I was.)

And I just posted over at 4P again about 7 minutes ago. Better late than never, I always say!

Generation Gap

Coolister (the tall guy) and some of his awesome (and also smart) friends.

When I was in high school my friends were all much more intelligent than I. It's not that I wasn't smart - I just didn't have any expectations to meet so I suppose you could say I didn't care about what grades I would get as long as I was going to graduate. High school graduation was as far as my parents got and it was as far as they expected me to go.

Fast forward to my senior year...

All of my friends were getting acceptance letters to colleges and universities before I even knew what the ACT Test was. I found out that my long-distance friend in Washington was accepted to a junior college in Idaho called Ricks with a whopping ACT score of 17. I didn't even know what the ACT was, but I signed up to take it so I could apply to Ricks and be roommates with her.

A score of something close to 17 became my goal.

Actually, the term goal is used loosely in that last sentence since I showed up the morning of the ACT armed with a pencil and my driver's license. I didn't even think about studying because I didn't know exactly what the ACT was or what I would be tested on. A few weeks later I got my score: 25! I was ecstatic.

Now fast forward to the present...

Not only do I want my kids to receive a college education - they desire this for themselves. It started with reading books and learning colors and letters with them as wee ones and continued throughout elementary, middle and high school. Education has always been a priority and they know it. Learning happened as much at home as it did at school and there have always been expectations.

My eldest child is a senior in high school. Not only did he study for the ACT well in advance, he took it his junior year. He got a score of 32 and was disappointed. He took it again last month and found out that he increased his score by one point. He was pleased, but still wished for at least a 34. For those of you who may not know, a 36 is the highest score you can get. I love that he sets such high expectations of himself.

I try not to brag too often in the blog world about how awesome my kids are, although I am tempted to do it all the time because they make me so dang proud. In fact, about 10 things just ran through my mind that I could gush on and on about, but I will refrain. The point of this post is this:

I love how a major, positive change in a family pattern can happen in just one generation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Now My Thumbs Hurt

Just so you know, I am totally writing this delinquent post from my cell phone as I sit in the outpatient lab of my local hospital. I have been fasting since last night so that I could come here and drink 10 ounces of syrupy-sweet orange nastiness in order to be tested for gestational diabetes.

This is the definition of misery for me...

Today is Allen's birthday. As is tradition for our family, the kids and I woke up early to make a hearty breakfast-in-bed for him. Wheat and honey pancakes with fresh-whipped cream and raspberries, eggs, sausage and a tall glass of cold orange juice. Just writing all of that out was painful. Did I mention that I am fasting?

This is the definition of torture for me...

However. As my sleepy-eyed crew and I delivered our breakfast creation to our much loved and appreciated husband/father while singing "Happy birthday to you!" I had an overwhelming feeling of indescribable joy and appreciation for this family that I am blessed to call mine. The fact that we are able to add to this happiness by adding to our brood makes the misery and torture bearable.

So, despite my queasy stomach this morning, I would have to say that today has really been my definition of bliss.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Neighbors Would Probably Hate Me If They Knew

photo from maps.google.com

Tomorrow is voting day. I'm not generally too political, but I do have a strong opinion on my city's proposition this time around.

Signs started showing up around my neighborhood in support of our city's Proposition 1 almost a month ago. Like, seriously, all over my neighborhood. I had never heard of Proposition 1 so I looked it up in order to make an informed vote. The gist of it is this: my city would like to build a new, updated recreation center to replace 3 existing facilities; the much older existing recreation center, senior center and the old armory where community classes and events occur.

And here's my deal. I am not against a new recreation center. But I will NOT be voting for it, and here are my reasons why:

1) I am against raising property taxes. We already had our property taxes raised not too many years back in order to build a newer public library. Here is the information sent to me by the city regarding the increase in property taxes I can expect if this Proposition is passed:

The owner of an average $195,000 home would pay $2.61 more per month, or $31.32 more per year, in property tax. Together with the portion of property taxes that is currently paying for the library bond, that would come to $6.37 per month or $76.45 per year. (In three years, after the library bond is paid off, the full $76.45 would go towards paying for the recreation center for the remaining 17 years of the bond.)

So, if I understand this correctly, they are going to continue charging us (via property taxes) the same money I am paying for the library bond after it is paid off in 3 years but use that money instead for the new recreation center in addition to the extra $30 or so per year that the vote would approve.

What are they going to build after the recreation center? All I see is a continued increase in my property taxes with no end in sight. I'm not cool with that. Once the library bond is paid off, that should be the end of that tax. It's not right to tack that existing expense on to a new project.

2) I am irritated that the location of the new recreation center (the baseball fields for my kids' high school) is already being cleared out for building. The new ball fields are already being set up just down the street from my house as if the vote has already been won and the bond approved. Sort of makes me feel like my vote isn't going to matter since they've already got things in the works. That doesn't seem right to me.

3) I think that if property owners are the ones who will be paying for this new recreation center, we should be the only ones who get to vote for or against it. I don't understand how it is fair for those who will not be taxed (non-property owners) to be allowed to vote in favor of this. Basically anyone who is registered to vote can approve an increase in my taxes while they get to enjoy the new recreation center without having to pay for the bond. In addition, I would be even happier with this if only those who approve of the bond are charged for it. If they don't get enough votes to collect the money that is needed, then too bad.

4) My family would not use the new facility. The only thing my family does through the city's recreation center is take swimming lessons at the city's outdoor pool and it is more than adequate.

I would love to hear your opinions on this, especially if you live in my city.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!