Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30 -- It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

"At Christmas, play and make good cheer, 
for Christmas comes but once a year."
--Thomas Tusser

I feel like I need a drum roll or something. This is the last day of November, and therefore, the last day of my 30 million days of thanks. (What's that? It was only 30? Odd. It felt like more.)

And today I am most thankful for the upcoming Christmas season. And to celebrate, I would like to make a list -- who doesn't love a list? -- of the reasons I am looking so forward to Christmas.

1. Celebrating Grandmama's 104th birthday on Christmas day. Talk about special!! I can't wait!

2. Chocolate-covered cherries. I'm not sure why, but we only eat these at Christmas. Santa always left a box under the tree.

3. Getting to hang out with family, including my cousin's baby who I've never met. That is so sad. We live in the same city, for Pete's sake.

4. Christmas music playing in stores. Two thumbs up to the stores that play music that reference Jesus since, duh, it's kind of His day.

5. Creepy dancing Santa in my neighbor's window. We like to sit in front of their house and watch from the car. I can't believe the police haven't picked us up for stalking. 

6. O Holy Night, sung by my dear friend Jen. Homegirl can seriously sing. Like, rattling-the-windows-of-the-church sing. I look forward to her solo every year.

7. Stocking stuffers. I love the little things Santa stuffs into a stocking more than the big gifts under the tree. They tend to be either extremely cool or extremely useful. Either way, I'm a fan.

8. The kids waking us up on Christmas morning. I'm not a morning person, but I make an exception for this one.

9. Calling brownie bites, cocktail smokies, miniature sandwiches and other party fare a "meal."

10. Hearing "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" on the radio and watching my kids' surprised faces when I can sing every single word.

I'm looking forward to working on the bucket list some more. I hope to check off something before the end of the year.

What's your favorite thing about the arrival of Christmas? 
Share with the rest of the class.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29 -- Baby, It's Cold Outside

"Never take a job where winter winds can blow up your pants."
--Geraldo Rivera

As the end of November arrives, I am thankful for warm weather, something I have experienced none of today.

I live around Columbia, SC, one of the the hottest places on earth. And yet, I have been cold all day today. 

Don't get me wrong; I love winter. I love Christmas and fireplace fires. I love sweaters and jeans and boots.

I just wish it didn't have to be cold to enjoy them.

It was cold (45 F) and rainy here today. My feet are numb, my nose feels like an icicle and my sweater is just not thick enough to keep me comfortable.

But since I'm not one to complain (I see you laughing!), I'll focus on the weather I do enjoy.

Image: Stoonn /
Give me a 90 degree day with the sun beating down on my shoulders. Give me a day on a boat with frequent dips in the water to cool off. Give me a laundry basket full of shorts, beach towels and bathing suits instead of thick socks, heavy sweatshirts and (blast them!) tights!!

I'm looking forward to the holiday season, but I'll get through it by looking at pictures of past vacations and tropical locales.

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 27 and 28 -- Olé

"Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book."
--Arthur Helps

I sat down yesterday to read a book. It doesn't sound like a major achievement, I know, but because I read all day long for work, I don't always feel like reading when the work day ends. (That's probably why you can find all kinds of whoopsie-doodles in these blog posts.) I need to do better because I really love books. When I crack open a book, I feel like I've gone to my own private retreat where I can escape for a bit. The best books are so interesting that they keep me from editing as I go. When I read a boring book, I'm always restructuring sentences and moving paragraphs around. A great book makes me forget I'm reading and lets me just enjoy the story or forces me to look at something from another perspective. So . . . yep, I'm thankful for books. What if I wrote one some day? That would be spectacular, wouldn't it? I feel my bucket getting bigger.

Oh, how I wish I were a better photographer.
When I took the top off this container,
each item had a little golden halo,
and I heard a host of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
Tonight, my Stephen stopped on his way home from working late to pick up Mexican food . . . just because I wanted some. I'm uber-thankful for him, obviously (duh!). But I'm also pretty darn thankful for Mexican food. What's not to like? It hot and spicy, ooey gooey and comes in a nifty container that keeps its awesomeness awesome. Of course, now I feel like a fat toad, but this is the price I pay to have something to write for you fine people. 

You're welcome.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 25 and 26 -- Go Cocks!

"I can’t wait to get out there and show them what we got."
--USC receiver Alshon Jeffery

Yesterday my dad had surgery on his back. I'm thankful for a smooth procedure and praying for a smooth recovery.

Today I'm thankful for radio. While it has always held a place in my heart (I LOVED being a radio reporter), I have never been more thankful for it than I am tonight. Our TV is on the fritz. If not for radio, I wouldn't be listening to my Gamecocks whoop up on in-state rival Clemson tonight.

I'm sorry. Is my Carolina Girl showing?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24 -- Apparently I'm Weird

"Mom, we're all family. We don't care that you're weird."
--Mo Roddey

Oh, that Mo has such a way with words, as demonstrated in her quote above. But I realized that I am very fortunate to have some people in my life who accept me, despite my  . . . quirks.

It's nice to have a great, albeit small, group of people who love me and all that comes with me -- my sarcasm, my oddball sense of humor, my tendency to dance with unsuspecting people, my affinity for red wine and Cheez-Its, my ability to attract trouble, my sensitivity when trouble comes, my prayers that rhyme, my clumsiness and my off-the-beaten-path socks.

First step toward overcoming the bird phobia?
Yes, I realize it's just a decoy. Get off my back. I gotta start somewhere.

To the friends and family who love me for me, I am thankful for you.

And to all of you reading, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23 -- Reading, Writing and -- Holy Smoke, Do These Kids Ever Stop Talking!!

"I don't think most teachers realize how much impact they have."
--Scott Hamilton

Today was the first day of Thanksgiving break for my kids. They helped me make cupcakes and work on some of my DIY Christmas gifts, we folded a mountain of laundry and played a game Mo learned at school.

And then the clock struck 9 a.m. From 9 a.m. until 4:15 p.m., it was nonstop sound around here. These children of mine covered every topic on earth, one right after the other. 

I actually started counting seconds of silence between topic changes. The highest I got was two seconds. Two seconds of silence in 7 hours and 15 minutes! 

To be fair, they did go up to a neighbor's house for an hour and a half (thank you, BB. You saved my sanity.), but I have no reason to believe they stopped talking just because they were in a different house. The only reason I got a bit of a reprieve at 4:15 was because Jack had swim practice and was underwater.

So today, I am thankful for teachers.

Image: Carlos Porto /
I can't imagine being surrounded by not two but 20+ children for 8 or so hours a day. I nearly lost my religion with my two, who I love more than life itself. To have 20 or more kids talking and laughing and crying and fighting and sniffling and coughing and drumming pencils and poking each other and sharing stories and needing to go to the bathroom and not making it to the bathroom -- well, let's just say that I admire what you do.

Come to think of it, I kind of admire myself for being a stay-at-home mom. How did I make it through the summer with these noisemakers?!

So today, I salute you teachers and respect you for finding a moment to actually teach in a room full of chatterboxes.

Now excuse me while I leave the solitude of my office to tuck my little angels in bed. Where'd I put those earplugs . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22 -- On My Way

"The beginning is the most important part of the work."

I interrupt your Thanksgiving preparations to inform you that I have created the first homemade Christmas gift of the season. And I got supplies to start working on at least six more. I would love to share photos with you, but since some of the recipients may be reading this blog, that will have to wait. 

But I'm so excited that I have a decent shot at scratching another item off the bucket list. And in keeping with the theme of the 30 Days of Thanks, I'm also thankful that I had a couple of legitimate ideas for gifts that aren't lame.

Image: Stuart Miles /
And now, back to your regularly scheduled Thanksgiving celebration.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21 -- Zzzzzz

"A well-spent day brings happy sleep."
--Leonardo da Vinci

Without a doubt, today I am most thankful for my bed.

Maybe it's the fibromyalgia, or maybe it's the fact that I ran all over town twice today taking the kiddies to school, editing a bit, going to the bank, hunting down some things I need for Christmas, picking up  milk and OJ, taking Jack to swim team, picking Mo up from dance, the list goes on and on. But I am so worn out right now, I can't think of anything but getting a shower and crawling into bed.

There will be no humorous anecdotes to share tonight. I am going to bed . . .

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20 -- In the Can

"Just pop the can and slice the cran."
--The Wiggly Tendrils

On this day, I am thankful for cranberry sauce.

We got together with cousins from my mom's side of the family to celebrate Thanksgiving today. And while all of our favorite foods (Mama's corn, the dressing, Daddy's turkey, the ever-present pickle tray, etc.) were delicious, the day would not have been complete without my favorite: the cranberry sauce.

Not homemade or even whole-berry. I adore the canned, jellied cranberry sauce. I get that it's not the classy option for your cranberry sauce needs. But I love opening the can, plopping it onto a plate and slicing along the ridges the can left in the cause. I mean, come on, now -- the can tells you where to slice to get your servings the right size. How nice is that!! I love how it immediately adds color to the plate, I love that you never run into those pesky seeds that like to camp in your teeth, and I love how Thanksgiving becomes Thanksgiving as soon as someone comes in with the can. And just try to find a better topping for the turkey on your day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Photo courtesy of Rick Kimpel
So today, I salute you, canned jellied cranberry sauce. Your simplicity speaks volumes. 

Apparently I'm not the only one who loves the stuff. Check out this song from The Wiggly Tendrils (you know, the band that wrote the song for Grandmama) that celebrates the allure of the beloved can of sauce.

So, what's your favorite way to have cranberry sauce? Or if you can't stand cranberry sauce, what's your favorite food on your Thanksgiving plate?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 18 and 19 -- Drive Through, Please

" . . . Having someone else do half the work is very convenient."
--Larry Wachowski

Day 18: I am thankful for drive-thru windows. I hate that we live life in such a rush that they are necessary, but man oh man, I am grateful every time I don't have to leave my car to pick up prescriptions for a child with an ear infection or get my caramel macchiato fix. Especially in the rain. With two small children.

Day 19: Today I am thankful for a Gamecocks win. I'm not a rabid football fan, by any means. But a Gamecock win today means a happy hubby this week, and for that, I am extremely thankful. Go Cocks!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17 -- Birds!!

"Hear the birds? Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm deaf and I try to imagine what it's like not to be able to hear them. It's not that bad."

--Larry David

Oh, friends, today I am most thankful for plastic shopping bags. I realize they aren't the most environmentally sound option, but without them, I may not have been here this afternoon to share this with you.

You see, I went to the store today to buy a container of cheese puff balls the size of a whirlpool tub. On the way back to the car, dozens (or at least twos) of birds flew right at me, beaks aimed directly at my face (or maybe not. I tend to exaggerate when birds are concerned).

Those of you who have known me more than 7 seconds know that this is not an option. So, I did the only thing I could at the moment. I wrapped the handle of my plastic shopping bag securely around my hand and swung that big ole container of cheese puff balls wildly over my head. I'm sure I looked completely sane doing it.

Thank you, cheese puff balls and plastic shopping bag. You saved my life . . . ish.

I'm happy to report that not a single feather touched me, and I managed not to injure the birds either. (I may not like birds, but I'm not a monster.)

I'll be even more thankful if no one managed to record the incident and put it on YouTube.

I think it might be time to tackle #21  on Ye Olde Bucket List. I'll keep you posted.

Background: When I was in middle school, my best friend gave me a sweet little newborn lovebird for my birthday. It couldn't fly yet, and I mixed up his food and fed it to him several times a day. His name was Bo. We bonded as he grew and learned to fly and eat on his own. When I would let him fly freely around the house, he would always fly to the highest point in the room. One day, I left the ceiling fan on, and when Bo flew up to perch on a fan blade, it knocked him unceremoniously down the hall. From that point on, he was the meanest bird on earth. He clearly had a bone to pick with me. If I got my hand anywhere near his cage -- even just to feed him -- he would try to peck my hand off. If I let him fly around, he would swoop down on me and bite my shirt, leaving holes. Or when I offered my finger as a perch, he would clamp down and twist my finger. It hurt. Apparently, it traumatized me. I can't handle birds so well anymore. Something about the swooping and beaks. I love the beach, but seagulls are almost more than I can handle. I'm trying to work through it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16 -- I See

"For we walk in faith, not by sight."
--Jesus Christ

Today I am thankful for contact lenses.

My vision is terrible. Let me put it this way: If we walked by sight and not by faith and I didn't have those slippery little suckers in my eyes, I would be seriously screwed.

I placed an order on Monday for new contact lenses, only to have the order cancelled because "that eye doctor does not have you listed as a patient." Hmmmmm. I guess that's not surprising, since I haven't been to the eye doctor since just before I got married. About a month before my nuptials, I had a major detailing while I was still on Daddy's insurance. So, for those of you keeping up with the math, that's about 13 years since I visited my friendly neighborhood optometrist.

Sooooo, in order to get more contacts, I had to have my eyes checked, which I did today. Yay me!

I read the eye chart first with my contacts in. Not to brag, but I aced that bad boy! Showed it who was boss. 

Then I took my contacts out, and I vaguely remember kinda seeing, if I squinted and tilted my head just a smidge, that big black E at the top of the eye chart. Who knew?! If I'm awake, I've got my contacts in, so I never really realized how sad my vision is.

Anyway, I got a brand, spankin' new prescription for contacts (and I'll have you know that in 13 years, my prescription changed only .25 contact lens point thingies). So there.

I salute you, contact lens. Without you, I'd have a very difficult time renewing my driver's license.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15--A Story in Photos

"May you live all the days of your life."
--Jonathan Swift

Jack decides to rake the bajillions of leaves in the backyard.

Not to be outdone, Mo joins in.

They work very hard, and Mommy is so very proud of their initiative and teamwork.
She also enjoys a little solitary time in the kitchen to try out
some new holiday recipes.

While Mo helps Jack load a pile of leaves onto his rake,
she busts him in the mouth with the end of her rake. He cries, she cries,
and both run in the house. Mommy's alone time comes to a heartbreaking end.

Ten minutes, an ice pack, an apology and two hugs later,
they head back out and celebrate a job well done.

I don't know how to phrase it, but today, I am thankful for all of that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 13 and 14 -- Memories (or Lack of Memory)

"I've a grand memory for forgetting."

--Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh, y'all, I did it again. I forgot to update yesterday. Sorry. Again. I can't believe I forgot, because I am a list maker. I have little lists everywhere -- in the car, at my desk, sometimes even in the bathroom. 

So my thanks for November 13 is sticky notes. Just the yellow ones. The yellow ones mean business. The pink and blue ones are too cute to take seriously. If not for stickies, I'm sure I'd forget to pay the credit card bill, send an invoice, pick up the kids from school, breathe.

If I could just remember to write, "Update blog."
For the record, I also adore my red ball-point pens. There's something satisfying about editing a paper in red ink. It's much more satisfying than blue or black ink, and it's certainly more satisfying that making edits on a computer screen. 

Today, November 14, I am thankful for my parents and their marriage. Today is their 41st anniversary, and every day I am thankful for them and the example they have set for me. They've lived through health problems, "lean" times, and two teenage daughters (who probably caused the lean times) and rather than letting the stress tear them apart, the tough times have only made them stronger.

Congratulations on 41 years, Mama and Daddy! I love you and am so thankful for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12 -- And We Danced

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of Peace."
--Romans 10:15

After watching a group of children and young men and women rehearse tirelessly for three hours to prepare themselves for a performance to benefit children with special needs, I am thankful today for  the folks at Turning Pointe Centre for the Arts.

What a blessing these young people are!

Some sing. Others dance. Still others act. But all are using their talents to help others, not to bring attention to themselves.

At the same time, I can't think of another time I felt quite so clumsy. These dancers prance around the stage on tippy-tippy-toes with ease and grace. I trip over the rug in my bedroom every single morning.

I encourage you to go see these young people serving their Lord with joy as they perform their production of "The Lovely Ducklings" on December 10 at The Township Auditorium in Columbia. All proceeds go to benefit The Therapy Place, a facility for children with special needs.

Mo's bedtime prayer tonight: "I'm thankful that [my teachers] are such good dancers and are willing to teach all of us. And I thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to be in The Lovely Ducklings to help children that weren't born with the luxuries I was."

Puh-leeze! Can I get a witness!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 11 -- Salute to Veterans

"On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind."

--Dan Lipinski

Happy Veteran's Day!
Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 10 -- Follow That Blog!

"I am a real ham. I love an audience. I work better with an audience. I am dead, in fact, without one." --Lucille Ball

On this day, I am thankful for each person who reads this blog on a regular basis. Believe it or not, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what I'm going to write about (it may not always come across . . . but still) and it tickles me to see that people care enough to read it. And when I get that email that tells me someone has commented on something I said . . . well . . . I can't even stand it. I get giddy-headed. (It's kinda pathetic how excited I get, now that I think about it . . .  but I digress.)

Ice cold and super sweet
So to you, my dear friends and loyal readers, I raise a glass of sweet tea. And I add a lemon slice and sprig of fresh mint for the ones who comment here on the blog itself. (I still love those of you who email me and comment on Facebook and in real life, but if I'm honest, I don't have the organizational skills to remember to comment everywhere. If you'd all comment on here . . . even anonymously . . . I think this dialogue thing would really take off.)

I'm also apparently quite thankful today for the ellipsis. I think I used those three precious dots more today than I have in  . . . oh, I don't know . . . ever. <wink>

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 8 and 9: Nature and Stuff

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."

--Ashleigh Brilliant

Day 8: 
Yesterday I gained a new appreciation for nature. I'm not the tree hugger type (my idea of roughing it is having to go hunt down the cordless phone), but the leaves around here are so stinkin' pretty right now. I know science-y folks say the color has something to do with temperatures, but I'm pretty sure God knows when I need a pick-me-up, and He sent those fabulously vivid leaves just for me. (We're tight like that.)

My personal ray of sunshine. I can see it out the kitchen window.

Day 9: 
Today I'm thankful for car line. If it weren't for the 20 minutes I spend waiting on the kids to get out of school, I probably wouldn't have had a chance to update my 30 Days of Thanks list today either. I'm sorry I'm having to clump these together again. This posting everyday thing is quite the commitment. I'll try to do better. (Promise!) (But don't hold me to it!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 7 -- Date Night

"We did talk about cheese on our first date." 
--Jane Kaczmarek

Day 7

I am thankful for date nights. 

I had the most wonderful date with the most wonderful gentleman last night. Stephen was working late, and Margaret had dance rehearsals, so after swim practice, Jack and I went out for sushi -- just the two of us. That rarely happens. Stephen spends a fair amount of one-on-one time with Jack, and I spend a good deal of one-on-one time with Margaret, but rarely the other way around. 

We shared a salad, each let the other sample their sushi, and I learned that he is the class clown and he struggles with timed tests. He told me jokes of questionable taste that he knows not to share in front of his little sister. They were crude and hilarious. He asked me what I'd like to order and then he told the waitress for me. 

At the end of the meal, we shared the fortunes that came in our fortune cookies and discussed what they might mean. Mine left little to interpret.

Creepy fortune much?
Stephen and I instituted a standing date night a few weeks ago. Each Wednesday night, we sit on the couch and watch a disturbing horror series on television. I look forward to that time each week. Our schedules are hectic, and knowing that I will have at least one uninterrupted hour with my husband midweek is usually enough to get me through the first half of the week.

There's something to be said for uninterrupted time spent with one special person. Time when you're not distracted and can share ideas. Time when you can focus on what makes that individual someone worth spending time with.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 6 -- Rally On!!

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." --C. S. Lewis

Today I am thankful for my church. 

As I write this, I find myself choosing my words very carefully because I know there are people in the world who want to criticize me for loving my church. So let me be very clear up front: I love my church, but I worship and adore my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We celebrated an event called "Rally Day" at my church today. We'd never had one before, so I was excited to see what it was all about. 

It ended up being more like a homecoming. Past choir members returned to sing in the choir, church friends brought their friends and parents and children. The smallest choir members (my own little cherub included) opened the worship service in song. The biggest of the small ones (my 10-year-old gentleman included) were recognized for their hard work in learning the Catechism. The adult choir was full, and there was a general sense of renewal.

Centennial ARP Church
I love worshipping in my church. The building is granite and impressive. The pews have comfy cushions. The pulpit is marble. Brides love getting married in it; it's just that beautiful.

We are Associate Reformed Presbyterians, sometimes jokingly called "the Frozen Chosen." You won't hear lots of clapping and "hallelujahs" there. The organ is massive, with huge pipes that round out the choir loft. The songs are traditional. I love them. The church has history.

I have a history with the church as well. My grandparents are/were members. My parents were married there. My sister and I were baptized there. I met my Stephen there, we were married there, and our children were baptized there. I've known a lot of the members my whole life. And there are relatively new members that keep things fresh.

That church has introduced me to some of the best friends I've ever had. If not for the church, I never would have met these wonderful women of God, who lead our children, teach Bible studies, work in missions, and offer unconditional love and friendship to me. When things in my life get blurry, these women help me to see with Christ-inspired clarity. 

And in addition to the group of women I consider my besties, I have close relationships with men and women of such varying ages and backgrounds, who are all joined together by a common desire to know God. It's really a beautiful thing. I cherish them all.

My favorite example of the unselfish spirit of our church is when Mo was sick. She was just a little thing, not yet walking, around 9 months old. She was hospitalized by her pediatrician (who is also a fellow church member) for RSV (it's a respiratory thing). She had been in there several days, Stephen was getting ready to leave the hospital for the night, and I started feeling sick. 

This is when things get hairy, so bear with me. 

I would say that I threw up, only that's not really what it was. It was more like my stomach turned itself wrong-side-out, climbed up my throat and literally fell out of my face. It was all I could do to drive myself home without compromising the interior of my trusty Honda. I crawled up the stairs and spent a fitful night on the couch.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my dear Stephen got sick at the hospital after I left. He called early the next morning to let me know he was on his way home, leaving our little wheezing daughter to fend for herself. I tried to heave (a little pun intended) my aching body off the couch to go be with my baby, but Stephen and I had contracted rotavirus (I'm assuming from the elevator buttons or doorknobs in the hospital. Wash those hands, folks.), and neither of us was allowed back in the hospital until we were free of the yucks. 

I immediately started crying. You mothers out there will understand the fear and horror that accompanies the idea of a 9-month-old in the hospital with no one to look out for her but strangers in white coats. 

Then Stephen told me that the pediatrician (C. Guy Castles, III at Pediatric Associates, for anyone needing a doctor for their baby; the man is a genius and a super great guy) had taken it upon himself to line up childcare for little Mo around the clock -- not nurses and hospital volunteers, but fellow church members who we knew and who loved Mo. 

I can't even describe the relief and gratitude I felt. Some of them would work a full day, get off work and come to the hospital to spend half the night holding my baby while she got breathing treatments or IV fluids. One poor soul even took on the unfortunate task of calling to tell me that they were having to put my sweet girl on oxygen because her lung had collapsed.  I'm tearing up now as I remember their sacrifices for my sake. 

Of course, most of those selfless people also contracted rotavirus, which I still feel just awful about. 

To make a long story just a bit longer, I got better in a day or two and was able to once again care for my patient, but the way the members of my church rallied around our young family is simply astounding. And it wasn't an isolated incident. I have seen them do it time and time again when tragedy strikes. 

Those are Centennial's true "Rally Days."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Days 4 and 5

"You can be a good neighbor only if you have good neighbors."
--Howard Koch

I'm usually fairly quiet on the weekends, but since I forgot to write about what I'm thankful for yesterday, I need to play a little catchup. It has been a long day, starting at 6 a.m. to get Jack to a swim meet. That went until 4:45 p.m. and then we were off to the church for pizza and a trip to a corn maze. Therefore, I'll be brief.

Day 4: I am thankful for my neighborhood. I love my house. It's not fancy, but it suits us. And the folks surrounding us are our friends. Not just neighbors, but friends. The men cook out and share lawn tools. The kids go to school together during the week and ride bikes together on the weekend. And the women -- what can I say? -- the women are my lifeline. I can count any number of ladies in our neighborhood who I can call to feed the cat or collect the mail while we're on vacation. But on top of that, I have at least 10 people whose houses I can see from mine who would rise to the challenge if I needed hairstyle advice (sometimes I don't even have to ask for it) or if I needed to get out of the house for some adult conversation because I'm starting to sound like the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba. To my girls in the 'hood, I cherish you!!

Girls in the 'hood

And for today, Day 5, I'm thankful to be out of the corn maze. Amen.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

"The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."
--William Ross Wallace

Today I am thankful that I can work from home. I've had an at-home writing/editing/proofreading business since before our oldest child was born. And every day, I'm thankful that I'm able to stay at home to be with my children. I so admire mothers who homeschool, but let's face it: I will never have the patience or discipline to do that. But my mother was always there to pick me up from school and hear about my day, and that's my favorite part of my day: finding out what great or horrible thing happened in the 8 hours they were away from me. It's very rewarding to know that I'm teaching my children enough about life and getting along with others that they can manage very well without me.

My partners in crime!

Sure, there are difficult days--when I can't focus on work or kids, when I feel like it's all a little overwhelming, when I can't believe I'm sharing office space with a La La Loopsy doll and assorted Nerf weapons -- but I wouldn't trade my situation for any other job in the world. All the good and tough times add up to a rock-solid relationship with two spectacular little people.

A special shout-out to Stephen for making it all possible. Woot! Woot!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanks and a Song

"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse."
--Henry Van Dyke

Happy November! I love the tradition of giving thanks for something each day of this month. I missed yesterday, so I'm going to share two things today.

I am thankful for my faith. I understand that it is a gift from God and not anything that I have achieved on my own. Without it, I would have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ and, therefore, no hope. So . . . yeah . . . really thankful for faith.

Second, I am thankful for my family. From my husband and children, to my sister, parents and grandparents, to my cousins and in-laws, I am more than blessed. Their unconditional love and support are unmatched. And I am supremely grateful for each and every one of them (even the weird ones).

On that note, you may remember that Grandmama fell and broke her hip several weeks ago. I talked about how much she means to our family

Well, as luck would have it, I was clicking around online and stumbled upon a link to the California-based band The Wiggly Tendrils. The website included a note that said you could contact them with song ideas, pay them $50, and they would write a song based on your idea; or you could call 440.TEN.DRIL (440.836.3745), leave a message, and if your idea is "really inspiring," they would write you a song for free.

I don't think anyone on earth is as inspiring as Grandmama, so I called and left them a message telling them about Grandmama. How her biscuits are little bits of heaven, how she could pat-a-cake like a champ, how she made buttermints from scratch to give as gifts. I explained that she's 103, and while we know she's not going to be with us forever, I was looking for something that the four cousins could have so that we could reconnect with Grandmama and each other when she's not around. 

Within a couple of hours, Conor from The Wiggly Tendrils called me to tell me he was going to write our song. I was beyond thrilled. It had been such an emotional time for us, with Grandmama in the hospital and having to undergo hip surgery, that I didn't even have the words to thank him properly. 

That next week, he sent the most precious song to my inbox, along with the accompanying sheet music. He had listened to my message, read the tribute to Grandmama here on A Drop in the Bucket, seen the pictures here, and written a song that we all cherish. It's called Grace, You Amaze Me. 

If you don't have the right media player, listen to it here and tell me what you think.

And Conor from The Wiggly Tendrils: A million thanks. My cousins listened to the song last night and loved it. And it gave us a much-needed excuse to take a break from our hectic schedules to just be together.