Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Things I'm thankful for as this year comes to a close:

1. Friends coming to visit - so fun to spend tonight with our dear friend, Mark!
2. Warm chili on a cold day...
3. My new warm, red, winter coat! (My dad will think he's really cool - I bought the same one he has!)
4. Candlelight and Christmas lights.

5. Good music! (Missy Higgins, Amos Lee, Corrine Bailey Rae, Jason Mraz, Eric Hutchinson, Donovan Frankenreiter... and the list could go on!)
6. Bailey, passed out by the fireplace for the ENTIRE evening!

7. Cornbread made in an iron skillet!
8. Toasting the New Year!

9. Surprise tickets to "White Christmas!"
10. Losing enough weight that my heart rate monitor won't stay in place anymore... Ha ha ha.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today is a Day.

Do you ever have one of those days that you just don't feel like yourself? It started yesterday afternoon - everything lost it's sparkle... Everything made my eyes fill with tears... And it's continuing! I was hoping I'd wake up today, refreshed and renewed, back to my joyful, giggly self. But alas, the fog still clings.

It's snowing outside - beautiful, soft, feathery flakes falling from the sky. A perfect day for some hot cocoa and a book. And all I can think of is the roads and my bald tires! Ugh.

My house is clean and full of yummy treats for our Book Group Christmas Party tonight (it's already been delayed 2 weeks because of weather)... And now all I can think of is the snow canceling the gathering AGAIN! I miss them... The break over the holidays has been too long - we're a great group of women, with all different backgrounds, that LOVE to LAUGH together! I could use their contagious laughter today...

My husband left me a little surprise note today. Romantic and complimentary. So nice. All I could think of was how crabby I've been the past 24 hours. Poor guy.

And we have a large payment due in 2 weeks for our trip to Ireland. A big surprise, since we thought it was due the middle of February. Can we say stress?! Needless to say we were not prepared for this so soon... We are busily contemplating how to make it work in a way that doesn't leave us with no emergency funds for the next month and a half... Stress and frustration abound!

As I'm typing this, there is a quote on my desk that says, "Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life's blessings." As I look through this post, I'm realizing that all the little things I'm crabby about are either possibilities in the future, or things already in the past. Hmm... Maybe I should just get my head screwed on right and enjoy where I am right this very moment, huh?

Things I'm thankful for, despite my crabbiness:

1. A warm bed.
2. People who care that I will be leaving one of my jobs at the end of June, and are nice enough to tell me.
3. A boss and pastor that is a dear friend - and listens to my woes with an open heart.
4. The beautiful snowflakes.
5. Nice, romantic, notes.
6. Possibilities - joyful possibilities.
7. Silence.
8. The dog romping through the new snow.

9. The gift of working with great teenagers - cheerful, considerate, and fun.
10. The anticipation of seeing old friends in the coming week!

As I seek to re-kindle the joy and enthusiasm this blessed life has given me, today - I encourage you to notice the little things in this very moment, too!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Who Woulda Thunk?!

So... this morning, after not working out for many days over the holiday break... I got on the elliptical. I lifted weights. I did push-ups... And it felt really good! I didn't realize how much I have come to enjoy the feeling of my heart pounding, sweat rolling down the face and back, and noticing the "burn" in my arms and legs! I felt like a "real" person again - not a sloth! That is a breakthrough like no other!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Health and the ability to exercise... and like it!
2. Sleeping in and cuddling with the pooch.
3. A clean house - now we can eagerly await our guests!
4. Sunshine! It somehow makes a Minnesota day seem warmer... even when it's not...
5. An unexpected visit with Dad!
6. Nice notes from friends.
7. Bubblebaths.
8. Anticipating a fun Book group party tomorrow night!
9. Jason Mraz music to work-out to - love him.
10. Chocolate-covered orange sticks from Trader Joe's. (I'm weaning myself off the holiday sweets...) Mmmm...

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Family Celebration is Past...

Well, we enjoyed another Christmas celebration with my hubby's family this weekend. It was a weekend of a lot of time in the car, lots of chaos, lots of laughs, lots of confusion, and lots of food! Here are some things I am thankful for:

1. Hugs and giggles from the niece and nephews - Lauren, Evan, and Brandon.
2. Delicious meals from the Mom-in-Law, Joan!
3. Excited chatter about our future trip to Ireland with Mom-in-Law, and Aunt-in-Law, Annie.
4. Seeing Sister-in-Law, Kerry, happy with her boyfriend!
5. A surprise visit from the Sister-in-Law's (Michelle's) Father- and Grandmother-In-Laws. (Figure that one out!)
6. Mom-in-Law's retirement!
7. Safe travel. (With Bailey as our co-pilot!) 8. Only spent money on gas for the car (presents were already bought, and no eating out)!
9. Bailey, our dog, didn't get sick after eating Evan's chocolate candy...
10. Everyone enjoying my box-o-cookies! It's fun watching them ooo and aaahh over the variety - and finding the ones they love! Watching people's reactions makes it worth the 3 days baking every year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Kayla!

Today is my sister, Kayla's, 17th birthday! Here are some things about Kayla that make me thankful to be her sister:

1. She makes me laugh - great sense of humor!
2. She's thoughtful and sincere.
3. She shares my appreciation of quirky socks and bright colored scarves!
4. She has good taste in music!
5. She's smart and loves learning!
6. She was a gift to our family when she was born - she brought us closer together (with a 15 year old and a 10 year old in the house - that was a great gift!).
7. She gives a good back scratch!
8. She's a great photographer and artist!
9. She's confident and assertive.
10. She's a beautiful person, with a beautiful heart.

I love you, Kay!

Christmas Day Thankfulness...

Ahhh... Our first Christmas gathering of the year is past - with all kinds of things to be thankful for!

1. Kayla's monkey bread! YUM!
2. Warm sweaters and fuzzy socks - and I mean FUZZY!
3. Cudding by the fire (a REAL fire, not a fake gas fireplace!).
4. Dad's funny pj pants.
5. Mom getting home by noon from work!
6. Emily's phone call - miss you!
7. All the weird similarities in gifts given between the sisters (socks, mugs, recycled and "earth-friendly" gifts).
8. Grandma's Christmas dessert! YUM!
9. A family card game of "May I".
10. A favorite gift - Grandpa's Loon. Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

One of my favorite nights of the whole year is almost upon us! Christmas with my family has always been magical, full of love and warmth, spirit and laughter... And as I get older, I only treasure it more each and every year!

Today, I pick up the house, pack all the presents and goodies, plan surprises for the hubby, deliver tins of cookies to friends, celebrate with one of my church families, then go to my parents' house to share in the magic!

We will share our favorite appetizers (the ones so bad for you, you only eat them once a year!); the candles will all be lit; a fire in the fireplace; Mom will have the house decorated to be a Christmas wonderland; and Dad will have a candle lit in the window for loved ones who can't be with us! We will open gifts tonight - one at a time, so we can all oooo and ahhh - thank yous will be said and hugs shared. Then it will be off to the church I grew up in for a candlelight service.
"Santa" will visit the neighbor kids as he visited us every year. Dressed in his red suit, beard white as snow, and a pack of toys slung on his back! (We saw Santa every year growing up - I don't know how we got so lucky! We'd sneak up on him stuffing our stockings... or see him running down our street with his LONG list dragging in the snow... once we even set up a camera with a trip-wire to get a photo!) Santa has always brought the magic and wonder to our house - laughter and mystery, and a sense of generosity in the spirit of the season. Now we get to help him visit the neighbors' kids and grandkids. So fun!
Dad may even share one of his original Christmas stories with us. Often, he will spend lots of time in his office shortly before Christmas... Writing and re-writing a special Christmas tale to be told on Christmas Eve by candlelight. It may be about a young shepherd boy, a special Christmas gift, a walk through Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, or stories of his own adventures through life that have brought him to believe so strongly in what Christmas is all about...

We will go to bed stuffed with goodies, content and peaceful, exhausted and thankful - only to wake to filled stockings and warm coffee! Tomorrow is just as much a celebration as today - just a little more low-key. A day to rest and enjoy the blessings that surround us - the joy of Jesus' birth and the new life that is shared with each one of us!

My 5 things I'm thankful for today:
1. Sunshine and beautiful snow-lined streets!
2. Gifts wrapped and under the tree - no procrastination this year!
3. My sisters - both of which are treasured friends (I will dearly miss Emily's presence at the house tonight as she celebrates with her own small family in Pittsburgh for the first time...)
4. My parents - and all that they have taught us about celebrating such a special holiday! The memories and traditions will live on forever!
5. Christmas music - I've been listening since the middle of November... and am still not sick of it! LOL I realized yesterday that my ipod currently has 12 hours of Christmas music on it! Whoa!

May the peace - and laughter and joy - of the season surround you tonight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to One and All!

As I think over the last year... There have been many ups and downs - joys, scares, sadnesses, and delights - and as I think of celebrating another Christmas with my family and friends, I am more thankful than I have ever been!

This February, we saw the birth of my beautiful little niece, Finley Jean to Emily and Karlin;

March and April had me dealing with a pre-cancer scare;

April brought my adorable god-daughter, Ellen Mead to Emily and Jeremy;

our summer was spent with friends and family, exploring the Twin Cities, going to new resturants and seeing live music; we enjoyed a trip to Pittsburgh to visit the Bilchuks and loved every minute!

September brought Mike's trip to the North Shore with Mark,

and my trip to the Austin City Limits Music Festival with Amanda.

I've been blessed to be part of the ministries of Faith United Methodist Church and St. Paul's United Methodist Church - and was so excited to start a new Book Group at St. Paul's UMC - the ladies of this group have become true friends and joy to be around every single week!

It always amazes me that when we take inventory of our past year - we list so many things that we are thankful for! And, oddly enough, I think one of the things I am most thankful for this year includes my cancer scare... It forced me to take a look at how I live my life, where I place my faith and trust, who I look to for support and encouragement, and what I am most afraid of. I was able to see how much I mean to so many people (a rare gift) - and how much they mean to me. I was able to trust in God and prayer in a way that was deeper than any other point in my life. I learned to make health a priority through eating healthy, exercising regularly, and resting when needed. It made me realize that my biggest fear is leaving the people I love - so to enjoy every minute we have!

I've always been a pretty laid-back, easy-going, and happy person - this year has shown me to take a little more control of making the small miracles happen. Laugh even more. Tell people how much you love them. Be thankful for each and every moment. Smile at those who are having a bad day. Give hugs. Be generous.

This season of Christmas is a celebration of life and love, of faith and miracles. I hope we can all live this season all year round - and be thankful for it, every moment.

Peace to you and yours,

Never thought I would do this...

Hello friends! (And welcome to my new blog!)

So... I've been talking and sharing with so many friends during this holiday season about being thankful - and truly living in a way that is full of thanks - and I thought I'd start a thankfulness blog. It's so easy to focus on the negative everyday - especially during this rough economy... But life can be so good when we look at the blessings that surround us everyday, and say "Thank you!"

And so, I begin with 5 things I am thankful for today:
1. My husband - full of surprises!
2. My friends - lots of laughter!
3. My job - all kinds of ways to touch peoples' lives and share in their journeys!
4. My family - I can't wait for another magical Christmas Eve with them!
5. My dog - a poodle named Bailey - she brings smiles and laughter everyday!

What are you thankful for?
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