Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gratitude Month, Day 10 & 11

Life is Good: cupcakes for everyone!

I know, I know. I don't have a Day 8 post. It was a complicated day for me personally. I've written it in my head, but I don't know when I will type it out. I hope you will hang in there with me while I attempt this one post a day thing. If I were a morning person and could get up a little early to write, that would be awesome. But I have never been a morning person. EVER. EVER. And these days, I'm not a night owl, either. Sigh...

Day 10:
Today, I'm grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our Little One's birthday this weekend (a week+ early) with little friends. There will be balloons and balls and boxes to climb into and out of...and cupcakes!

So grateful for the internet and those who share their recipes! I grabbed this one from and adjusted it a bit. Here it is:
Susie's Eggless Chocolate Chipped Cupcakes
4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups ground Enjoy Life brand semi-sweet mini chocolate chips* (due to nut allergies, we can't use traditional cocoa powder like the original recipe suggests)
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil 
3 cups water
3 tablespoons vanilla extract (I use Madagascar)

1. Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together wet ingredients (using a spoon).
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and let sit five minutes to let the baking soda do its "magic".
4. Spoon batter into cupcake pans. I filled mine a little over 3/4 full to get cupcakes that rose enough for a bump but did not run over.
*I used my mini cuisinart and ground the chips to a rough powder so that the cupcakes appear to be "chipped" but spread out more than chips would, thus making the flavor throughout the batter, not just when you take a bite with a chocolate chip in it. Grinding the chips much longer would (hopefully) color the batter to a light brown and taste more like a chocolate cake. I haven't tried this yet, though!

Our Little One loves doggies. So much so, that when he sees any animal, he says, "Arf! Arf!" before saying the real noise. In my mind, I had this brilliant idea to make dog faces on top of his birthday cupcakes. In my mind, it was brilliant. In reality, oh, man. These are, quite possibly, my worst cake & frosting fail thus far. And I've had a lot of fails! I'm pretty sure my cakes & cupcakes are banned from Pinterest! ; )

Day 11
Veterans Day--so grateful for veterans and the people who love them for their many sacrifices. Here's a graphic that I posted on my personal Facebook page:

Quite a few of my Facebook friends posted photos of themselves when they served in the military. Some of them I never knew had been in the military. All of them looked so young. I was especially taken aback by a guy just a year or two older than me. In his photo, he has camouflaged his face and is carrying a machine gun. His mother commented that she really didn't want to see that photo. I understand why. It was really jarring to me. I'm just going to stop there. So many thoughts, but I'm just not articulate enough today to make sense of them. But it is truly jarring to me to think that very, very young people---whom we might even call kids---eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old---are the ones who, time & time again, were protecting our freedoms, fighting for the freedoms of others, losing limbs, giving their lives...

And on Veteran's Day, I'm grateful that my Grandma told me this story about her brother, Bob. I still remember sitting in my grandparents' "front room". Grandma was peeling potatoes in "her chair" by the piano and told me, solemnly, this story about the last time she would see her brother alive. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gratitude Day 9

Life is Good: oftentimes because of the kindness of friends 

Today I am so very grateful for this lady. 

Equal parts Joanna Gaines' number one fan and Mother Theresa with quite a bit of sassafras thrown in there, my friend, Karmin is one of the best. She's loving, nurturing, and supportive. And sends me memes like this one to show me that she knows me well:

She's the kind of friend who, when you jokingly but seriously post on Facebook (when you are a million months pregnant and on bedrest) that all you can think about is pie, she goes and gets a pie and puts it on your porch and then texts you to tell your husband to check the porch and give you the pie. And when I mean she is the kind of friend, I mean she does this exact thing. Amazing. A drop everything to help kind of friend. Not just to me. To everyone. And this is just one example of the gigantic nurturing heart that beats inside of her. 

I never would have guessed in a million years that someone who I didn't know five years ago would be so important to me today. That's the beauty of life. Unexpected blessings. And Karmin is a huge blessing to everyone who knows her. 

Happy birthday, Karmin! You deserve a hundred more years of happiness & delight. Thanks for being a cherished friend. I hope this is your best year yet!

Day 7 of my month of gratitude

Life is Good: so good I'm super busy!

Day 7 of my month of gratitude whizzed by. Some days, most days, I get up and then all of a sudden, it's time to pick up the kids from school and then boom! bedtime. As fast as they go by, the days are long. Having an almost two year old keeps us on our toes. Especially while managing basketball practice and two sets of homework. (I still hate homework!) (Shhhhh!)

Today, my gratitude is for healthy children. And the delight I get in being a mother. I enjoy being a mama so much. The parenting part can be hard some days. Especially now that the Big Kid is in third grade. So many new words and concepts to help him navigate through. And friend stuff. Oh, man. The friend stuff can be tough. But the mama part is easy. The love overflows. The laughter rings throughout the house. Smiles abound and every inch of me feels warm like sunshine. Being a mama is my happy place, for sure.

Some days, I want to hit the pause button. Some days---like Saturdays when we're all together playing board games or making art or snuggled up reading on the couch---those days I want to pause for long lengths of time. But I can't do that, so instead, I commit it to my memory. I'm pretty sure that I will look back and see that these are the best days of our life as a family. And I'm grateful for each one.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Day 6 of Gratitude

Life is Good: time is precious

Today, I'm grateful for the chance to spend a couple of days with my parents. We celebrated my mom's birthday (a little late) with steak and these yummy twice baked potatoes

We savored a 70 degree November day and took our kids to check out a cotton field. 

The more I experience time whizzing by, the more I am grateful for moments with my parents. The weekend zoomed by, but it was worth every bit of the drive to be together. I only pray that I get 38-some more years with my mom & dad. I love them so. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gratitude Month Day 5

Life is Good: just look around

Day 5:
Today, I'm grateful for nature and for all of the opportunities I've had to discover different parts of it.

I've always been one of those people who look up in the sky and see shapes of people & things instead of clouds, but I think my children have taught me to stop and notice the buzz of a hummingbird or the dew on the pinks and oranges of a fall leaf. I'm forever grateful to my kids for helping me notice the moment since I've always been a "thinking about tomorrow" kind of person.

Each morning after I've dropped the kids off at school and I'm walking our Little One home, I gaze up at the sky and marvel in it.

Our move to the suburbs has meant noticing more expansive skies, whether it be a morning sunrise or a magnificent sunset. And of course, these painted skies always make me say, "Wow. God is so creative, huh?"

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Gratitude for Mothers

Life is Good: my mom is the best!

Day 4 of my month of gratitude
I'm behind in my posting again. It's not out of the ordinary for me to be chasing a to-do list. And today's gratitude is dedicated to the one who taught me all about writing lists---my ultimate list maker mama. Happy birthday to the most loving, supportive, generous lady I know. 

When people ask why I do the crazy things I do, they need to look no further than my mom, the one who, throughout my childhood, changed her purse and nail polish every morning to match her outfit, the one who once made a Halloween costume out of chicken wire and thousands---literally thousands---of paper napkins. She's the one who once made a set of birthday cakes for me---the big bad wolf, each of the three little pigs, plus the houses they built. She's the one who sewed the dresses I drew because I wanted something different than everyone else, the one who makes ninja turtle-shaped cookies or teddy bears or baseballs & bats or whatever my kids are infatuated with at the time. 

She's the most creative, industrious, capable lady I know. She's the strongest, too. She knows only the unconditional kind of love--oftentimes to her detriment. She's forgiving beyond measure. She's generous with both her time and her spirit. And she's the epitome of the phrase, "If you can think it, you can do it."

I can only hope that one day my children will use the words, "supportive, empowering, and gracious" about me. If they do, it's because I learned from the best.

Happy birthday, mom. I'm so glad that God let me pick you to be my mom. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How to be Grateful for the Little Things

Life is Good: it's the little things!

I'm not going to say that I exaggerate a lot, (See how I did that?) but I do express my enthusiasm in not only actions, but also words. So I often say, "That's the greatest thing I ever did!" for little things that, I feel, make a big impact.

So today, I am grateful for some of the greatest things I ever did! Like:
* Putting a pencil sharpener on the wall of our pantry. No more complaints about dull pencils or kids asking me to sharpen pencils in one of those dinky little handheld sharpeners!

* Using a couple of extra frames, scrapbook paper, and dry erase markers for a note board. I write down stuff we run out of or things I keep forgetting on these little babies and they don't get lost (OR DRAWN UPON WITH MONSTERS or KNIGHTS!) like pieces of paper do.

* Buying these bins from amazon for the laundry room and adding a tag to them for each member of the family. Five of them plus an extra for detergent, etc fit just perfectly on the shelf above my extra capacity washer and dryer (that I don't love, but still grateful for indoor, in the house laundry!). Now, things come out of the dryer and into the bins. The bins go into the rooms and get put away. No piles of clean clothes in laundry baskets looking all intimidating and time-consuming and messy! 

* Putting this bookcase from Ikea in each child's closet with bins for toys. We are lucky to have big enough closets do to this in our new home. We never could have done this in our 110-year old house. (Which is one reason why we moved!)  I love that everyone's toys go away into bins and their rooms look neat and orderly in mere minutes after even the most major of playtimes. I also have one of these in our mudroom closet. Inside its bins you will find everything from arts & crafts supplies to each kiddos' school paperwork to extra party supplies (gotta keep 'em handy for spur of the moment celebrations!) and practical things like lightbulbs. I have one bin dedicated to adhesives---one of THE GREATEST THINGS I EVER DID was putting all of the various sizes & styles of tape, glues, clamps, etc in one bin! Really!

* Purchasing bins similar to these (can't remember where I got mine!) in our mudroom cubbies. One for each member of the family and one for "EXTRAS". Now everyone's gloves and hats and scarves and whatever are waiting in the bins for them. And none should ever get lost or misplaced, right?!?!

* Buying these slim coolers for lunch bags. No more big bulky ones or too tiny ones. These are just right for my kids' Lands End lunch bags and stay frozen until lunch time. 

* Discovering these child safety locks for our doorknobs!  Our little smarty figured out how to open all of the doors (and raise havoc in every room) really early. These little babies have prevented him from running wild through the house. Well, okay, through a couple of rooms. Our little wild child still manages to raise heck wherever he is. ; )
PS: Love these furniture straps, too! You can never be too careful when you have a little wild child in residence!

So, class: let's review. It appears today that I am grateful for BINS! ha! Well, with three kids plus a mama who loves "stuff", we need to keep things organized to keep things sane. SO viva la bin, basket, and containers of every sort. Life is good! Make sure you note that!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How To Be Grateful Day 2

Life is Good: say it!

So grateful for this dude here. Every year, he just asks where his costume is and puts it on. No complaints, no sighs. Because it's for the kids (and a little bit for me) and it is so very obvious each day how much he loves being a daddy. 

So grateful for all of the plane rides, car drives, and places discovered together...often with him carrying one of the kids!

I'm so grateful that he rode the zip line with the Big Kid so I didn't have to!

And that he runs. So that I don't have to! ; )

So grateful that family picnics by the lake are more exciting to him than hobbies that take him away from our family.

I'm grateful that he is always up for driving. And Mexican Food. And will never turn down sushi.

And for that one time...when I was on bedrest for almost a month. And I called him from the doctor's office with the news...crying...because I didn't know how our family was going to survive. And he said not to fret because we could figure it out. And he held down the fort.(in his own way. wink.) And we, in fact, survived.

And for all of the times that he indulges my need to take (excessive, some would say) photographs...

I have so many reasons to be grateful for Grant. My favorite thing, quite possibly, my most grateful, is his role as daddy to these three never-a-dull-moment little boys. Life is good!

How to be Grateful

Life is Good: so let's document it all month long

I'm going to do my best to blog all this month. This little blog has been neglected and often forgotten. I have written plenty of posts in my head. Why can't Apple create an app for that!?!?

I am the first to say that I am lucky, fortunate, and blessed. My life isn't what I thought it would be and certainly isn't perfect, but darnit, life is good. And while I fail at many things, I hope I'm succeeding at being grateful. I honestly believe that acknowledging the good in your life and being grateful for it is a key to feeling content and being...well, pleasant. ; )

Day 1
I'm grateful for all of the fun we have at Halloween. We started dressing up as a family theme the year of our Little Kid's second Halloween. He was one and it was fun! It takes a lot of my time since I typically make most or all of the costumes. Most years, I start early to avoid stress. This year, I was making our costumes late at night and too early in the morning. But after wearing them for five different events, it seemed worth it!

When our Big Kid was in first grade, he had to write a "report" about one of our family traditions.  I thought he would write about going to Grandma & Granddad's for Christmas or matching Christmas jammies & reading Christmas books aloud on Christmas Eve or mayyyyyybe taking snacks to the staff at Children's Hospital on Thanksgiving to say thank you for the many times they have helped our family, or well, anything to do with Christmas! But, nope. He chose to write about our tradition of dressing up at Halloween and talked about our various costumes and the fun he has with his family on Halloween. And right then and there, it sealed the deal. It meant something to him. It really means something. And so we will continue this tradition until the kids don't want to do it anymore. 

It's a lot of fun brainstorming family costume concepts. I had suchhhhhh a great idea this year! But I got outvoted. The Big Kid wanted to be Buzz Lightyear and talked the Little Kid into the Toy Story concept. 

They decided their dad would be Woody. And I would be...Mrs. Potato Head! Sigh. Whiney and frumpy. Thanks, kids.  After flip flopping between Rex and the Green Alien, they decided our Little One would be the latter. Felt and hot glue were everywhere. A last minute plea for me to be Jessie was finally granted. And then I discovered that Jessie wears cow print. On her thighs. Arrrrrrgh. 

Happy Halloween and Month of Gratitude from Jessie, the Slinky Dog, Woody, one of the Green Aliens, and Buzz Lightyear! I'm so grateful for this family and all of the fun we have--on holidays and every day!