Today is a big day. A day filled with more gratitude than even I have words for. Since 1971 Momma Bear has worked with the Michigan Department of State. She started part time as a clerk issuing driver's licenses and car title transfers. She retires today as the head of the Motorcycle Safety Division for the entire state.
There has been so much I have learned watching her throughout her career. She has taught me persistence, and diligence. She has taught me courage in pursuit of a better life. She has taught me to be fearless in the face of opposition. She has taught me independence and strength. As an adult, I have come to understand the sacrifices she has made for us as her children.
Today several chapters end and a new one begins. There are still many pages left to write in her book. There is still so much she has to give. There are still many lessons I have left to learn. The first begins on Saturday when she calls the southwest her new home.
Yes, I know I missed yesterday, but let's be honest, who doesn't focus on what they are thankful for on Thanksgiving. We spent the day with the scarecrow and his wife and her parents. We sat around the table eating a delicious meal, followed by desserts, and then a few card games. We chatted about this and that, and there was a heated discussion about whether Beef Stew or Spinach was more plain. I voted beef stew, but those in opposition argued at least beef stew can be seasoned, spinach is just spinach. I argued in favor of the spinach because it is colorful, flavorful, and quite healthy. I even used the word "saucy." Scarecrow suggested I dress up as a leaf of spinach for Halloween next year and see how many people call it "saucy." He's rather snarky that one.
I ended the evening with a picture to send to Momma Bear, and the word courage came to mind. As I focused the frame and did a little jig in a failed attempt to get the wee one to smile, I realized every person in the picture lived their life with courage.
Scarecrow exemplifies courage every day by not being defined by a life altering medical condition. One which would leave me rocking in the fetal position in the corner of a dark room. Cosette demonstrates courage by following her heart and living within a set of circumstances that are not part of the dream she built for herself. Hollywood showed much courage by maintaining his standards despite being bullied at school for them. Curly showed courage in attempting to read regardless of the stumbling books she faced and now reaps the fruits of her labors. The wee one probably demonstrates the most courage of all. She has the courage to do naughty things every day in spite of the fact she knows she will be totally busted for them. Her precocious nature is undeterred in sprinkling pepper on the play food, smashing play- dough against the walls of the closet, and lathering the dog in sun tan lotion, because at the end of the day, the thrill of the experiment is more meaningful to her than the time out she receives. Lets just hope she follows in the footsteps of those before her and uses her powers for good not evil.
It's been a crazy day around here. Between the baking of pies and rolls for the big turkey day tomorrow, cleaning, work, and school, the last thing on my mind was dinner. So after picking some more of those delicious tangerines and grapefruits, we headed off to dinner. It's been awhile since we have had Chinese, and one of my favorite places is over by Grammy's new digs, so we decided to have dinner there.
This particular establishment has these savory cream cheese wantons as appetizers. I mean who can't love a deep fried crispy dough stuffed with cream cheese, green onion, and watercress? While debating whether to purchase 4 or 6 of these bite size pieces of heaven, I was informed that Wednesday is Wanton Wednesday and they are only a quarter each. At that price it was easily determined that 10 would be the perfect amount.
After a feeble attempt to enjoy a delicious dinner with a maniac two year old, a sassy six year old, a grumpy nine year old, and a tired husband, the fortune cookies were quickly distributed. We all took turns reading ours, and sucrose guy read his last. His said "You will have a good position and a comfortable salary." He thinks it was fate he received that particular fortune in that particular cookie, when really he could have received any other cookie with one of our forgettable fortunes just as easy.
Either way, with $.25 wantons and a fortune like that, how can I not be grateful for today?
Tuesdays just might be my favorite day of the week. On Tuesday, it's all about the music. For a few hours every week, I don't have to be a mom, a wife, a teacher; or think about the bills, the laundry, or what to make for dinner. I just sing. I have come to understand that part of who I am craves the opportunity to create. Everyone needs that. To be creating something, or feel validation in something they are doing. Music and writing do this for me.They make me feel connected to something bigger than myself and my day to day struggles.
Today was an extra special Tuesday since Pilgrims and Indians sang too. There was one adorable little Pilgrim standing proudly on the end of the second row with the rest of the "blue group." She was accompanied by rain stick and maraca shakers, and four little drummers. But the music teacher looked like she took a few hits from the peyote pipe before the performance. I might too if I was orchestrating 80 Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys. Or maybe she was just in her creative zone...
There are certainly more than ten things I could list for the many reasons I am grateful for this guy, in fact, if I thought about it long enough, I could probably do 30 days of gratitude all on the subject of him. Sure he drives me a little bonkers on occasion, but mostly, he does things for me I would never do for him.
When we were married only about 3 years, both Logan and I had the flu. Not just any flu, but the mother of all flu's. The kind where you can't even lift your head from the pillow without projecting all kinds of nasty from your mouth flu. It was so bad we even gave it to the dog, so he was left to clean up after all three of us. On his birthday no less. Three years later, when that flu came back around for him and he spewed all kinds of nasty all over the bathroom door in his feeble attempt to make it to the toilet, I was not so generous to return the favor of cleaning up after him. There are a lot of things I can do, but vomit, even from kids, is something I am just not capable of dealing with. That there is just a small sampling of the many things he sacrifices for me.
Today, we are just grateful he is coming home. We have missed him, so now, we are off to the airport to fetch him and give him a grand welcome home!
Did I really commit to 30 days of gratitude? Seems a little excessive. I am already struggling at day 3. Hmmm.
Today was a rather sad day for me. I was released from being the Primary Chorister at church. To some, teaching 100 kids songs every week might sound as apealing as repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a knitting needle. But for me, these little people are a bright spot in my week. I love their crazy comments, I love their smiles and their laughter, I love that whenever I see any of them at school, or in a store, or at the park, they always come up to say hello. The younger ones will even run up with their arms wide open for a hug.
Being with the adults really isn't as fun. They don't enjoy human spinner. They don't jump up on their chairs when singing "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." They don't even sing "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." This whole hanging out with people my own age is definitely going to take some getting used to.
I love autumn. I love everything about it. The crisp air that almost burns when entering the lungs, the hues of red, yellow, and orange in the turning leaves, the smell of apples being pressed at an orchard, and the taste of a warm cinnamon sugar doughnut at the mill.
There are not many of these things to be found in central Arizona, but there is one thing I can always count on. The pumpkin patch. For me, going to the pumpkin patch in October for Halloween is as big of a deal as putting up a tree in December for Christmas. This year sucrose guy thought perhaps we needed to bypass the trip with the grim financial forecast we are experiencing. I told him I would take to the pole for a few nights if I had to so we could go. The compromise was taking a hit from the grocery budget.
Growing up a city girl, I have always found a certain novelty in visiting farms. The baby pigs in a pen to pet, the little yellow chicks running around pecking the ground, the shimmering black cow mooing, and the goats eating from my palm all bring me delusions of having my own animal menagerie one day.
Someday, I will have the white salt box house with black shutters on 6 acres of sloping land with one brown spotted cow, 4 baby chicks pecking the corn meal scattered about, and a pink pot belly pig lying on the front porch next to the dogs. Noticeably absent will be the nasty, pellet pooping, stinky goats that run up and ram you in the bum when you are not feeding them enough.
Until then, I will always be thankful for the pumpkin patch.
It's been a rough week. I have been channelling my inner grumpy Gus. Or maybe I feel a little like Alexander and his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." Either way it's not good. Last week at church I was asked to be the Assistant Compassionate Services Leader. I cried. I told them they have the wrong girl, because I don't really like people. They laughed. I wasn't kidding.
Then I saw this video and felt like a loser. I know how much I have to be grateful for. I really should start expressing it more and show more joy, less sarcasm. To this end I am attempting an experiment. I am going to express my gratitude for the little things every day. Things like the play dough smashed against the back inside wall of the craft closet compliments of the wee one while I was vacuuming yesterday. I am going to chronicle gratitude for 30 days. Perhaps it will help me show more compassion to those I serve (Umm, doubtful). Perhaps my heart will grow from it's current condition of "two sizes too small." Or, perhaps, it will just help me develop the habit of writing every day. But let me start with today.
Today, I am grateful for the free tangerines we are picking from a family friend's tree. They are truly delicious. The juice runs down your arm before you are even finished peeling them. They are also sweet enough to stave off even the wickedest craving for gummy bears. I hope the same can be said when the chocolate pies at Thanksgiving appear.
She looks so innocent lying there. Like maybe that's how she behaves all day. Well that would not exactly be true. Something inside of her has awakened...and I am not going to lie, it's a little beasty. She is not the first of my children to have this awakening. In fact, we are three for three. It is during these awakenings I want to send them on the slow boat to China for a six month cruise.
But because there are now two older siblings to try and outwit, she is getting pretty crafty. Last week when we went to Costco, I promised her a churro. Upon receiving said churro despite questionable behavior in the store including a rousing game of "Where's Waldo," she immediately licked one entire side so that I couldn't share it with her. Did I mention she's two? Two.
This week's antics include squirting carpet cleaner into the tv while I was trying to srub out the blueberries she mashed in the carpet, resulting in the tv shorting out and being unusable. She has peed countless times on floor because she didn't want to stop what she was doing to go to the bathroom, most notable was was when she peed at the table because she didn't want to leave her dinner. It was not quite the cooking compliment I was looking for. She has stuck gum in her eyelashes, stickers up her nose, drawn on every wall up the stairs, and painted her foot with white out from daddy's office. Yesterday I found a pink streak of lip gloss down the dog's back. She's lucky she's cute...it could very well be her life saving mechanism.
I must admit, Halloween is my favorite holiday. After all, it is a holiday with the sole purpose of collecting and consuming as much sugar as your insulin receptors will allow. In our house, it is also the only time I can talk Hollywood into going shopping with me. We go to lunch, and then we plot out where the best place is going to be to find the perfect costume. We get to talk about friends and things happening on the playground. This time we even had to have the conversation about the difference between when a girl says she likes you and when a boy says he likes a girl. Which boils down to the difference between "like" and "like like" Aren't forth grade girls supposed to be into Barbies and Easy Bake ovens, not my son?
Then it's Curly and the Wee one's turn. This year they decided to be matching kittys. We had to scour the valley looking for the right size. We found it about 45 minutes away and headed off. The conversation with a six year old and two year old is quite different than that of a nine year old. We sat on the bar stools at Johnny Rockets for lunch and talked about who was nice at school over grilled cheese squares. We talked about getting our nails done and what color they would be. The wee one interjected a few thoughts, but mostly she just blew bubbles in her root beer.
When the big day arrived, the pumpkins had been carved, and the mummy dogs consumed, we headed out with some friends for the big night. The four big kids were done about an hour and a half into it. Not the wee one, she was a warrior. We kept asking, "Are you done?" The answer was always, "Not yet."
The next morning she locked herself in the bedroom with the dogs and consumed 2/3 of the haul. A preempted strike was then formulated by Hollywood and Curly to protect their loot. If only they were so vigilant with the laundry.