November 22, 2013

Settling Into an Attitude of Gratitude

November 14
Me: Preschooler Praise.  Thursday was full of so many amazing moments for which I am thankful.  But two completely stand out.  The first was actually the last of the day.  We were reading our Bible at bedtime when Ryan asked, "Does this have the story where Jesus dies?"  I told him it was and asked if he feels sad when Jesus dies.  He nodded, and we launched into a talk about why Jesus died, and how much He loves us, and how He didn't stay dead, and how he "killed" death so that all of us can live eternally with Him.  We talked about what Heaven might be like (Allie is sure there will be lots of yummy bacon), and if we will miss our life on Earth when we are there.  I was amazed by their insight, and the deep things they think about, and the big things that they totally get.  But my favorite moment of the day?  Allie was sitting at the piano, I was making dinner at the stove.  She says, "Mommy, I wrote a song.  Would you like to hear?"  Of course!  She starts gently tinkling the keys and singing about Jesus, and how much He loves us, and how He gives her every good thing (like Mommy and Daddy).  Cooking with original Preschooler Praise in the background - best part of my day!
Allie: Mrs. Ann.  We had a church meeting at our house.  One of the women was here for the meeting as the twins were doing their thankfuls.  We recently were at her house for dinner, and I think she became one of their favorite people.  So Allie was thankful for her, and she was honored.
Ryan: The Number 8.  Honestly, I was completely thrown.  As I wrote it on his little handprint, I nonchalantly  asked, "Why the number 8?"  He responded, "Because it is SO amazing!"  Still confused, but wanting to understand, I asked, "What, specifically, makes it amazing?"  He answered, "It is 2 circles on top of each other!  Isn't that amazing!"  Yes!  How did I not see it before?  Thank you, God, for the enthusiasm of a preschooler that opens my eyes to the amazing-ness of a number!
Ryan's School Picture
November 15
Me: My Husband.  It was a rough week.  It started with the kids being sick (and me getting sleepless nights as a result).  And then I got slammed with a migraine that I couldn't completely shake, but I had to take pictures at the preschools and we had meetings at our house almost every night.  By Friday, I was sort of shot.  And Friday is my day with the kids.  My one day where we have no other commitments.  Usually, we try to clean a little in the morning and then bake or do craft projects or go on a local adventure in the afternoon - simple, fun things together.  On this day, I was so drained from the week that we didn't do anything special (except watch a movie...or two...because that was all I could handle).  Then Lucas came home and made dinner and took care of bedtime and cleaned up.  Being rescued by a knight in shining armor sure looks different after you have kids...
Allie & Ryan: I KNOW we did the thankful hands this day, but later I could not find them anywhere on the tree!  And I cannot remember what they said.  Boo.  If/when I find them, I will update.
Allie's School Picture
November 16
Me: A Clean Craft Room.  If you've been to my house, you probably haven't seen my craft room.  When I create, things tend to get scattered...everywhere...  And, since I'm not naturally crafty, once I'm finished I'm SO finished with the whole project that I walk away...and never clean it up.  It doesn't take many projects for my craft room to become a disaster, and then I cease to create because the room is too messy for me to find the things I need.  Saturday morning, I settled into the new project I have taken over for Lucas - the bills.  I was deep in a sea of receipts, statements, and bills that I was sorting, paying, and filing.  Lucas comes in and says, "It makes me smile to know that you are doing something I hate and I'm doing something you hate."   Lucas was downstairs cleaning and organizing my craft room!  He needed some help later, but it looks so amazing.  I can't wait to create!
Allie: Ryan.  She loves her brother.  So much.  For school pictures, they had to say what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Ryan said "Astronaut."  Ever since, he and Allie have been discussing what that separation will be like when he is in Space, how much they will miss each other, and how they will make it until he comes home.
Ryan: Baby Lightning.  Yet another member of his Lightning McQueen "family" for which he is thankful.  This happened to be one that he had lost and found again while cleaning his room.  So perhaps he is also thankful for Mommy making him clean up?
When I Grow Up I Want To Be...
November 17
Me: Food and Nourishment for my family.  So basic, but I am truly thankful for our "daily bread."  We went grocery shopping, and I had been working on using up what was in our freezer and pantry so things were getting pretty low.  Our budget it relatively small, and we had to restock a lot of items, but we worked it and really stretched it for all it was worth.  Once home, I was amazed at, and grateful for, the bounty before me.  We not only had food, but truly nourishing food - an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein laden meat and cheese, and even organic snacks for the kids - rather than some of the inexpensive yet nourishment-lacking foods that I know fill the pantries of far more families than I would like to admit.  Families whose budgets are far less than ours and who truly cannot afford anything more.  And then I thought of the many people who barely have enough to keep them going.  I've read that 45% of the world's population live on $2 a day or less.  We had friends who spent a year in the Philippines and spent a couple weeks living on $2 a day - like the majority of their neighbors.  On their blog, they showed pictures of their meager meals and talked about the things they gave up in order to just buy the food they needed for the day.  It brought the numbers to life, and left me thinking of the people living in those circumstances often.  Yet, here we are, having enough to not only buying food for our family, but for the youth group that eats here on Sunday evenings...and for church potluck...and to host family for the holidays.  In a society where it is so easy to be convinced that we don't have much, it is wonderful to be reminded how abundantly we are truly blessed.
Allie: Ryan.  Lucas wanted to have a "no repeats" rule.  But I like seeing the recurring gratitude they have for people/things.  I especially love seeing her recurring gratitude for her brother.
Ryan: California Zephyr.  The train we rode on our train trip to Nebraska.  It might seem out of the blue, but they have been begging to take another train trip lately.  Clearly, riding the CZ is on his mind!
When I Grow Up I Want To Be...
November 18
Me: Kitchen Time with the Twins.  The twins LOVE helping in the kitchen.  Partly because of the awesome new skills they have been learning at preschool.  Partly because of the fun new cleaning products we got from Norwex.  Partly because of the time they get to spend doing "Grown Up" things.  On this particular day, we made pumpkin muffins (and then they got to clean up with a new Norwex rag that we love).  They helped me scrub dishes (after going to the store to get a second scrubby brush because they were fighting over who got to use the one to scrub).  They helped me chop onions (NOT my idea.  They used the Slap Chop, not knives.  And they got to chew gum for the first time ever - breaking the Mommy-made "No Gum Until You Are 5" rule - because it keeps the onions from making your eyes water.  For the record, it really, truly works!).  And they helped me make the sides for dinner.  Pretty much, anything I was doing, they wanted to help.  They are getting really good at these things too.
Allie: Mommy.  So sweet. I melt.  The night before, Ryan had an accident in bed and I rocked him while Lucas changed the sheets.  After he was in bed, we started hearing funny squeaks.  It was Allie.  She wanted to rock and snuggle with Mommy a little too. I, of course, didn't turn her down.  All too soon, rocking them will be just a memory.
Ryan: Bumble. His favorite friend.  Today he also asked me if Bumble was going to be in Heaven because he wasn't sure if he would like Heaven without Bumble.  Later, I told Lucas that Bumble is our family's Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”   - The Velveteen Rabbit

November 19
Me: Shared Interest.  My children have had cameras for a while.  But the batteries ran out and we put them on a shelf until we bought new batteries, and the we forgot.  My children rediscovered them and begged for me to change the batteries.  I did, and immediately they wanted to go and take pictures.  The next thing I knew, we were outside taking pictures.  And then we were going on a walk to take pictures.  I loved seeing what caught their eye, and their pictures were really interesting.  I also loved the opportunity to play with my new lens (my Christmas present - early so I could use it for a project).  I love it.  And I love my mini-photographers.
Allie: Ryan.  Okay, this time she might have said Ryan because she was hoping he would say he was thankful for her in return.  Did he?
Ryan: Ruffster.  He did not.  Instead, he went with Ruffster the Super Dog.  Lightning McQueen's pet dog who apparently also has super powers.  Allie fully understood his choice...
November 20
Me: Fast Photo Editing.   I took the pictures for the twins' preschool.  I needed to edit and I knew that if I could just download a few preset actions, it would go a lot faster.  But I have never been successful at downloading actions.  After hours (seriously HOURS) of searching online, attempting one way and then another, and getting frustrated and walking away only to return shortly after to try again, I finally found instructions for my (old) version of Windows combined with my (old) version of PSE.  Actions successfully downloaded!  Lightning fast editing followed.  Of course, now to put all of those pictures together into the directory and then e-mail them to all of the parents...
Allie: Kelsey.  We were babysitting for a friend, and Allie adored having the little girl follow her around for the evening.
Ryan: Racey & Mickey Mouse.  Our fish.  In case you are wondering about Mickey Mouse, Gracie passed away early in the fall.  We were sad about the loss, but after an appropriate mourning period, we took Ryan to get a new fish.  He picked a gorgeous, blue fish that he named Mickey Mouse.  So far, so good.  All fish are healthy.  And Ryan is thankful for that and them tonight!
Allie's Picture
Ryan's Picture
November 21
Me: A Good, Long Walk.  Without going into a really long story - our adoption process has been antagonizing lately...or for about a month....or 2.  And most of the time, even though it has been an emotional roller coaster, I'm doing pretty well.  But every now and then something brings it all to the forefront.  Often, it is nothing even outwardly related to adoption, but it triggers an emotional response that I cannot control.  On this particular day, it was a brief conversation with their preschool teacher about changing their schedule next semester, if we are interested.  I managed to get out of the preschool without crying, but then the tears overflowed.  Even though it was cold (and raining a little) I knew I needed a good, long walk.  I went to a local park that has a fabulous walking trail, and walked several miles.  Sometimes crying (thankfully, because of the rain, I was mostly alone on the trail), sometimes praying, sometimes just reminding myself that it is okay to be emotional.  It was what I needed.  I left feeling peaceful, invigorated, uplifted, and ready to rationally face the decision presented.  So, today I'm thankful for the time that preschool gives me for exercise, prayer, and contemplation and the needed peace that time brought me.
Allie: Little Kids.  We've been doing a pre-Christmas purge - going through the toys and pulling some out to either 1) store for potential future siblings 2) sell 3) donate.  The stuffed animals we are donating to an organization that cleans them and then gives them to children undergoing traumatic situations.  Allie has been thinking a lot about these little kids.  This may have been more of a prayer than a thankful...
Ryan: Trains.  Both at home and at school.  Today, I picked him up just before he had completed putting together their train set.  Apparently, the one at school is bigger than ours at home.  I love my train-obsessed little man.

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