Here I have condensed my ongoing list into a single page. To join the Gratitude Community, visit http://aholyexperience.com/.
1) kicking up a six-inch carpet of oak leaves along ATV paths
3) a 21-month-old snuggling down with absolute trust in your arms
4) having so much to give that you never lack for ways to exercise creativity
6) cousins who are willing to share their woods
7) friends w/whom you can pick up where you left off, even after a long absence
8) living parents
9) living grandmothers who get to know their great-grandchildren
10) porch swings
11) a little tumble-kin swimming laps and stretching around the obstacle course inside my abdomen
12) the joy of giving joy to someone else—especially a child
13) a fiscally responsible husband, who ensures that recession is nothing more than an inconvenience
14) the smell of dead leaves
16) always having another goal to reach
17) an extra-good choir rehearsal
18) sunlight breaking all along the crest of the hill beyond the creek bed
19) sitting in the woods in mid-November
20) the love of a man who stands by me, even when I don’t deserve it
21) the love of a man for whom forever is not negotiable
22) turkey dressing
23) kisses from preschoolers and toddlers
24) the dawn of language comprehension
25) divine inspiration
26) that God gave Julianna to Christian and to me—two people whose lives are public from top to bottom, from Christian’s job to our music ministry, the lessons we teach, and our Natural Family Planning witness. I am grateful that God has given us, and Julianna, an opportunity to encounter hundreds of people who will see that Down syndrome is nothing to be frightened of. That life with her is rich, beautiful, good, holy. Chaotic, yes, but precious. Oh, so precious.
27) That there are schools where youths with Down syndrome, like Kristen Pass, Annie Bryant, and Jesse Campbell, can be elected homecoming royalty.
28) Julianna’s enchanting smile
29) Julianna’s charming giggle
30) Alex’s giggle, which defies all descriptors. Seriously the best little kid giggle ever, and he cracks himself up all the time!
31) Julianna’s first, tottering steps, on Friday, which charged the air in the house with excitement as Gerti (her PT), Alex and I all clustered in the living room and Julianna’s face turned into one enormous, mouth-open smile. She knew it was a big deal, too.
32) News from the GI specialist, saying we don’t have to do surgery after all, since her symptoms have cleared up—which means no worries about gluten. Hurrah! We’re going to celebrate with a big pot of meat sauce and penne this week.
33) A new Christmas tree stand, which is far more stable than the old-fashioned tripod. How lovely, not to have to worry about the tree tipping over on my little monkey, on top of keeping her out of the ornaments and presents.
34) Several nights in a row of good sleep, all of them unaided by Benadryl, and several spent entirely in bed instead of on the couch
35) The joy of watching Alex’s excitement as he helped sort gifts for parish families and shut-ins on Friday night
36) The joy of watching my family decorate gingerbread and sugar cookies….
37) Not to mention the joy of not having to do it myself!
38) Lunch and a movie with my husband
39) Warm, solid walls that block the bitter wind blowing an ice storm our way
40) A successful studio recital and the beginning of our “Christmas break” from teaching
41) Weather clearing in time to make our last choir practice free of travel worries
43) The day when butterfly kicks become something more
44) The day when strong kicks become stretches, with distinguishable body parts
45) Reconnecting with lost friends
46) A 4-year-old who still likes to cuddle and be “chewed” on
47) New syllables…”ba” and “wa” and “la”…from the almost 2-y-o
48) A *very* productive writing day today
49) The kindness of a nurse at the lab, who is willing to run the nasty glucose drink out to me so I don’t have to spend an hour in the lab with kids
50) A firstborn who is such a sweet, conscientious big brother
51) Physical therapists and stretches
52) Nearing the completion of a big project
53) The day that Daddy takes the kiddos to swim lessons
54) Anticipation…even though I just want the third trimester to be over, and have the baby in my arms!
55) Gene Speichinger
56) Naps…for kidssos, and for ME!
57) Birthdays, and the understanding of how much we gain from one to the next.
58) Watching my children delight in each other’s presence. It’s not surprising that Julianna adores her older brother, looks up to him, and thinks he’s the coolest in the world. But it does sometimes surprise me to see how Alex’s sun rises and sets wherever she is. He dotes on her…even when he’s frustrated with her. It really struck me at lunch today—I took them to Culver’s and watched them giggle across the table at each other…21 months apart in age, and a gap that widens with each successive day. And yet they are inseparable. They love to wake each other up by “ruffing,” cuddling, tickling, hugging or kissing.
59) Watching the flow of the Silver Fork tripping over rocks and licking at the frayed edges of the ice. We don’t often have creeks freeze solid, but this winter’s been on the cold side…even if we haven’t gotten any precip. It looks just like a Nova video. Beautiful.
60) A new niece (whom I can’t wait to meet!)
61) Good, hard critique partners with obsessive focus on things I never give a thought. Even if I don’t agree with them 100%, I always find that moderating their obsessions improves my writing.J
62) A sixty-degree day in February.
63) I’ve put this on the list before, but when I arrived at the Pinnacles today and started across the grass kicking up six inches of oak leaves, my heart just squeezed with joy. There’s just something about kicking up leaves.
64) Online venues to reconnect with people you might never encounter again, otherwise.
65) An unexpected twenty-minute snuggle on the couch with Julianna.
66) Beautiful weather and the promise of spring
67) a good day with my children right before leaving them with grandparents for Baby’s arrival
68) a morning at the park with glorious weather
69) progress and fun in therapy
70) a walk in the woods
71) flowers sprouting from the rested earth
72) a deliciously comfy couch
73) the impending end of pregnancy
74) for the spicy, earthy fresh aroma of the woods
75) A great anesthetist and team for my 3rd C-section.
76) A healthy baby
77) A weeklong visit and help from my mother-in-law
78) Rapid weight loss postpartum!
79) Nicholas picking up his head at 14 days
80) The experience of helping a child with Down’s learn developmental skills, which makes us better able to help her younger brother learn, too.
81) the cacophony of birds making a joyful, disorganized noise
82) pink dogwood and double daffodil and multicolored tulips
83) the explosion of yellow-green in the woods that appeared overnight
84) dozens of leaves on the sugar maple sapling that barely survived last year
85) iris buds shooting skyward along the east foundation of the house
86) the fine mist that dampened my hair as I walked
87) a new high-back swing made of heavy logs, to enjoy it all
88) the husband who put it together
89) a four-year-old who throws himself, heart and soul, into every aspect of his life
90) a two-year-old who has suddenly become chubby and, if possible, even more adorable (and chewable!) as she totters on the edge of biped mobility
91) a six-week-old, newly baptized, who is just sweet as can be
92) the smell of chrism
93) the joy of having family and friends in the house
94) so much to be thankful for that by the time I get to the computer to write them down, I can’t even remember half of them.
95) Bright yellow daisies gleaming at the edge of the woods
97) New bicycle
98) One day devotional
100) A bike ride with Alex, and no baby
101) Color on the walls
102) Seeing students improve
103) The squeeze in my heart when I hold Christian’s hand for the Our Father
104) An aspen outgrowing its cage
105) A comfortable couch to retreat to on a sleepless night
106) Julianna’s progress toward toilet training
107) Ghirardelli brownies
108) Seeing the way my children love to love each other
109) Sitting in the dark counting my blessings, listening to the crickets and frogs outside the window.
110) New opportunities to advocate for my daughter and even more, for children like her yet to be born
111) The enthusiasm and irrepressible energy of childhood
112) The bighearted, non-grudge-holding of childhood
113) Having a long line of priests who have helped and continue to help me grow in understanding of my faith
114) Safe return for my parents after overseas travel
115) A life exciting enough to keep me up at night
116) Learning how to get my baby to go to bed at 8
117) A therapy team that is jmore than professional, but who have become friends, lifelines, and loved ones
118) A perfect evening for a mile and a half walk with my baby…air shimmering gold in the sun, and brooding blue in the shade, with the perfect breeze nudging fluffy clouds across a pristine sky, newly washed by rain.
119) Bright baby eyes turned behind in the stroller, fixed upon me, the center of his universe (oooh, that’s a moment!)
120) Hours spent outside
121) New friends
122)The serious business of baby bath time, which ends with a lot of water kicked out of the tub
123) Three hours circling a race track…time in which spouses can talk
124) Christian’s boss, who kept Nicholas for several laps so we could walk hand in hand…
125) Julianna’s first bounce house
126) Sleeping with the windows open
127) That dreams, however vivid, always go away in the morning
128) Bright blue paint
129) Space ship wallpaper border
130) Nicholas sleeping through the night
131) Julianna walking
132) A community of faith
134) Air conditioning!
135) Baby giggles
136) Feeling well again.
138) Blogs and Facebook (keeping up with friends!)
139) A filigree-and-marmalade sunrise
140) Safe return home on a night when we got stuck in traffic on the highway
141) A neighbor generous enough to help mow our lawn without being asked
143) Baby razzing
144) Bright baby eyes
145) Toddler kisses
146) Preschool moments
147) The sensation of touch
148) The return of fertility
149) A visit from a good friend
150) Cool weather
151) I am thankful for the first quiet day in weeks, in my own back yard.
152) I am thankful for the enthusiasm with which my kids greet their grandparents’ arrival.
153) I am thankful for getting to go ice skating for the first time in four or five years.
154) I am thankful for the reminder that sometimes, trial and error is the best teacher.
155) I am thankful for Central Dairy ice cream.
156) I am thankful for sleeping through the night. I never thought that was going to happen again!
157) I am thankful for the opportunity to write my Advent book.
158) I am thankful for the rush in my blood that accompanies inspiration, and especially writing music.
159) I am thankful for the friends, neighbors, and parish community who wrap us up in love we don’t deserve and can never live up to.
160) I am thankful for scrapbooking.
161) I am thankful for my jade plant, given to me by Angeleita, which is the only plant I’ve never managed to kill, and which is a constant memento to me of a very special mentor.
162) I am thankful for the end of the spit-up era (for this baby, anyway).
163) I am thankful for generous input for my next article.
164) I am thankful for Christmas lights.
165) I am thankful for beauty in all its various forms.
166) I am thankful for the luxury of recreation.
167) I am thankful for the opportunity to advocate for my daughter and others like her.
168) I am thankful for the people that I have met through this advocacy.
169) I am thankful for the way parenthood (and marriage) stretches my soul.
170) I am thankful for the end of the nursing strike.
171) I am thankful for good food.
172) I am thankful for the cute and tender and funny moments that my children give me.
173) I am thankful for the beautiful autumn.
174) I am thankful that the harvest is finally moving well, late though it is.
175) I am thankful for the chance to see family, immediate and extended.
176) I am thankful for my family, who now calls me upstairs to nurse and teach and dress.
177) A warm home on these frigid January days
178) Five stockings on the mantle
179) Early morning quiet reflection time
180) The sense of well-being that follows it
181) The abundance of gifts given in inspiration, that force me to choose and never do as much of any one thing as I would like.
182) Grateful for the feel of Julianna’s hand in mine…
183)…for her sudden shift into a (sort of, sometimes) cuddle bug (even if it’s only when she’s hungry and she wants to see what I’m making for dinner)…
184)…for her enthusiasm for putting on and taking off her coat, which indicates that she loves everything she’s learning at school…
185)…for her adorable enthusiasm for “talking” on the phone…
186)…for the way she wants to help me around the house…
187)…for the wisdom to direct her desire to get into EVERYTHING and use it to teach her to follow directions, and along the way teach her concepts like in, out, up, down, on, get it out, put it away…
188)…for finally running out of clothes, which means I get to shop for her!…
189)…for Alex giggling at having his cheeks chewed instead of getting angry…
190)…for his willingness to ride his bike almost a mile with his daddy the other day…
191)…for the improvement in his writing…
192)…for his dogged determination to earn money for a new toy…
193)…for the stolen cuddle early this morning when he climbed into bed with me because he was scared…
194)…for Nicholas’s mischievous eyes and his adorable laugh…
195)…for the way he loves to snuggle against me…
196)…for the inspiration to pull out all the frozen breast milk and start feeding it to him…
197)…for nice moments cuddling with Christian…
198)…for the anticipation of a Valentine’s Day date…
199)…for opportunities to advocate
200)…for the beauty of evening light playing on the woods behind my home
201) …for the discovery of music that entrances my daughter and fills my spirit with joy
202)…for the opportunity to sleep with my husband (Julianna’s spent the last few nights in my place, because when she’s sick, she won’t sleep without Daddy)…
203) …for the opportunity to sleep in my own bed…
204) …for a bowl of strawberries, grown by the labor of my own hands…
205) …for new acquaintances in the land of Holland…
206) …for long morning cuddles at the breast, completely irrelevant to nutrition, but holding on to the nursing bond as long as we can.
207) …for Missouri streams
208) Sunrise through the trees
209) A day without traffic noise in my back yard
210) Cornflower blue skies and every cloud a familiar shape
211) A kaleidoscope in green leaves
212) New artwork for our bedroom wall
213) Birth stories
214) Dinner on the deck
215) A baby who absolutely insists on being a Big Boy, even when he’s clearly biting off something wwwwaaaaayyyy too big for him
216) Unplanned ice cream excursion
217) Playing on a recital with college friends I don’t see often
218) Fresh paint (especially when I didn’t have to put it on the wall!)
#219. The blogosphere and FB community that took Julianna’s picture on Parents.com and ran with it.
#220. My firstborn telephone talker-pacer.
- #222. The little ones’ delight in passing car time together
- #222. My mother’s thank you to the people of her legislative district
- #223. Watching my daughter make friends with a kittycat
- #224. A chance for Alex to share a love of all things green and growing with his grandma
#225. Baby in Grandpa’s truck
- #226. Cuteness, especially when it needs no explanation
#227. Watching my family delight in a much-needed rain shower
#228. Homemade Marble Cake
229. A weekend away (there are about three dozen buried in here, but we’ll leave it at that)
230. The way, when I say, “I’m gonna get you!”, they run toward me.
231. How I can tickle Alex without even touching him.
232. Playing “cry/hug” with Julianna (I cry, she hugs; repeat—this game is her invention BTW)
233. How Alex says “constructions” instead of “instructions.”
234. The way Nicholas’s eyes flicker to whoever else is in the room before he decides how much cheese to add to his Cute Pizza.
235. Sympathetic criers
236. Julianna’s great hugs
237. How Alex adores his grandparents and the way he talks on the phone to them (and everyone else).
238. How much trust they place in us
239. How utterly perfect they look when they are sleeping.
A wonderful new work space.
A great big tax deduction
A dedicated shelf for my scrapbooks…out of reach of tiny Julianna hands.
An 85-degree day that feels like spring after weeks of blistering 100+.
Sleeping with the windows open, serenaded by crickets
Waking to find the house almost chilly at 72
Completion of a novel, ready to query (again!)
Of fun in paddleboats
Of new clothes
Of breaking into a new phase of life: school years
My poor, beaten aspen making a valiant attempt at a comeback after its summer baking
The list of thank-you’s I made in my head, which ascended to Heaven sometime in the night and are now gone
…a brilliant early morning starscape
…a place to lie down on the gravel path and watch them
…a thread of fire tracing a path from north to south, a split second of beauty that makes my breath catch.
…the khee khee khee and ch-ch-ch-ch-ch of the insects filling my ears
…dawn creeping westward, stealing the stars one by one.
…the dewy imprint of rabbit tracks on the concrete, followed, a moment later, by the rabbit itself startling from its hiding place in the grass and darting across the street.
…the trees in our little creek valley silhouetted against the murky light of predawn.
…birds flying silently across the sky, as if positioning themselves for the morning chorus.
…as the sky visibly brightens, as the last stars wink out, the singing begins.
…the warm gold of ripening soybeans threaded with emerald, glowing softly below a steel-gray sky.
…the tranquil fuzziness of the pond that reflected all my nightly celestial wanderings.
…the comfort of knowing, in a world constantly shifting, that some things never change: the same hulking behemoth in red, visible from half a mile away, needing work, as always. Being coaxed back to life, as always, by a man wearing the same blue snap shirts, the same jeans and the same suspenders as always.
…Grandpa and forklifts and tractors.
…visits with distant aunts (mine) who give wheelbarrow rides.
…piles of dust and dirt that attract tiny bottoms with some magical, unstoppable magnetic force.
…the realization that in a world of insider trading and Senate seats bought and sold, the dirtiest work is sometimes the cleanest.
A novel scene buried in a not-quiet evening on the swing
A snuggle buried in a way-too-early-in-the-morning smoke alarm
For monochrome rainbows,
and the chill of Missouri clay seeping upward below my back
For subterranean streams
and Jonathan apples
For running water,
clear blue skies,
and the irrepressible energy of childhood
For restful nights
and a rich life
For little boys in Easter hats
and chubby hands pressing down on cookie cutters
and a little girl who has decided she loves Mommy after all
For hugs and kisses from small ones
and choir members who lift me up
and blog friends
and the chance to make a difference through the written word
For stories that keep me up at night
and brand new baby nieces with cheeks I could chew on all day
and too much to do and so much to see and not knowing how it’s all going to end
For Christmas lights and childish excitement
and Alex belting “On That Holy Mountain,” fighting with me for the octavo while I sing a duet with the man who taught me a new meaning for the word “home”
For frosty mornings spend inside
and brisk walks with my little one, who is no longer a baby
For progress in toilet training, if not in speech
Chubby hands, more munchable than the cookies they cut…
My little one, who takes the cheese factor to a whole new level when he sees a camera
Having lots of help to decorate the cookies
For hayrides through remote, beautiful winter woods
For rows of trees marching over the rolling hills
For tranquil hills wreathed in mist and cloaked in silence
For running children
For the magic of watching children transfixed by beauty
And an Advent wreath in the darkness.
Perfect Snowflakes: One drifting down to rest on spidery crystal legs on the rubber strip below the window of the truck. One on the head of one perfect little girl
The way the energy level of the house changes when Alex comes home from school, an immediate electrification of the air, an instantaneous alchemy of completion.
The warbling giggle of my almost-22-month-old as said big brother chases him around the house roaring, and Julianna sits off to the side giggling uncontrollably at the rank silliness of the menfolk.
A DQ Chocolate Extreme blizzard, shared with my girl
Wonderful teachers for my children
Choir members who build a community around us
A few stolen moments by the river, watching the ice grind itself into perfect circles as it spins around the bends on its way to warmer weather
(Gratitudes that are not meant for public consumption)
The chance to submit a manuscript
The chance to make a difference by working at the diocesan level, and by teaching NFP
The privilege of the writing gift, which I must remember is just that, a gift, and less important than my ordinary, humdrum life
The structure that limits my writing time, which makes me focus and produce instead of wallowing and wasting time. (At least, not wasting as much time.)
Grandmothers who have lived long enough to be known and loved by their great-grandchildren
Homemade pizza, in preparation as I type on a Saturday afternoon
Hope, even if it did turn out to be misplaced
14 1/2 months without a hospital stay…and counting
A quiet retreat to my room to work, and the Heavenly artwork displayed on the wall via an open window, a sunny afternoon, and a shiny book cover lying on the bed
Twentyish pages of a manuscript churned out despite snow days
Honey bears and play dates and homemade soup
Nicholas’s exploding vocabulary: “baby” and “mama” and “dada” and “wa-wa” and “peeeeeee” (please) and a couple others that are escaping my brain right now
Oh yes, sledding…(a list of four)
Not to mention the fact that we live in such luxury that cold and snow gives us an opportunity for recreation, instead of threatening our continued existence…
Did I mention thank you for homemade pizza?
A bounty of adorable little girl clothes, given to us by a good friend
Alex to Julianna, as she comes upstairs for bath, still dressed in her pretty new clothes: “Hi, Miss Pretty!”
Alex’s adorable, infectious giggle, which soon spreads to all three children
Gradually building connections with other area DS families
A great conference weekend, full of ideas and networking to help us get Julianna talking and get a support group up and running in our own town
A chance for the kids to play with cousin, aunt and friends while we were concentrating on Down syndrome issues
The fact that the coats we left at my sister’s house can migrate home with my parents in only a week
Dinner at Denny’s, which inspires its own moments of cuteness (x3!)
My sister’s suggestion for Julianna’s schooling, which cleared a long-standing haze of confusion
Fog-frosted trees in the darkness
Sunshine and melting snow before the next round moves in
A big home project to structure the time we expect to spend snowed in this week
And yes, the contemporary group, full of devout, devoted people called to share their gifts in the service of God and their fellow worshipers; my husband’s hands on the piano; the opportunity and the responsibility of leadership, challenging me not to stagnate in my faith
Reconnection with a past choir member, who joined us for Julianna’s family birthday dinner
Unposed, unplanned Kodak moments
Crisis moments, which burn away all the pettiness and help us identify how blessed we really are
The sound of giggles from downstairs: my children are playing together. They’ve been playing together for half an hour without bickering—just enjoying each other.
Alex’s voice, in the quiet: “I love you, Nicholas.”
Humor and the chance to examine my conscience
Julianna turning to her big brother and smiling, then crooking an arm around him…Alex turning his head and smiling at her, nose to nose, eye to eye. Love pouring out of their gaze, smacking me with the sheer force of its power, stealing my breath for half a second.
Understanding anew how love can be so powerful that it becomes a physical force in the world, like the Holy Spirit, an uncontainable manifestation of the love of Father and Son.
Having babysitting on Friday for the first time in weeks
Getting a lot done because of it
Having the house back, with all family members going where they’re supposed to go M-F.
Alex growing and stretching and relaxing into his role as big brother—and luxuriously enjoying it!
A good book
The first step toward reclaiming my weight
Calvin & Hobbes snowmen, courtesy of my husband
A snow-hush over the creek
conflict and the associated discomfort, which knock the legs out from beneath my pride
a trip to the symphony
a 10-hour date with my husband
safe travel to St. Louis
a pianist with fingers that danced over the keys like water over Baker’s Falls in the woods at home
the privilege of attending a concert in a hall with a splendid foyer
Also Sprach Zarathustra
being told by a priest who was a deacon in my parish when I was in junior high (25 years ago) that I look exactly the same as I did then
Julianna stuffing chicken into her mouth till she couldn’t chew it, and then signing “full!”
playing Transformers with Alex, and finding it not unbearable
the return of the peep frogs
being kept busy with gigs, music edits, Lent book, and more
Missa “Ecco si Beato Giorno.
candidate Teaching Couples, enthusiastic about helping us spread the good news of NFP
things to look forward to
our first toddler tantrum…on a Sunday morning…I mean, the first ever tantrum in this household–because it reminds me how blessed we’ve been for the first six years of parenthood, not to have them!
an amazing dream
growing up in a small, rural parish where there was little pretension and a great openness to all forms of beauty in music
that God won’t stay in the boxes we try to put him in
hand drums and drumsets
electric guitars and keyboards
pipe organs and glorious trained choirs
chants and Renaissance polyphony (okay, so that last doesn’t support assembly song, but it can still lift our souls)
Handel and Haugen
Pope Gregory and Rich Mullins
for the inSpiration that touches all artists, whether they choose to make good use of it or not
for the constant renewal of the Church in the gifts of its members
for the constant tension between embracing what is good from contemporary culture and holding on to truth—however imperfectly the balance is held
for online arguments that remind me never to take for granted the blessings I’ve been given
- The grace to meet and talk with people without feeling awkward or socially inept
- Which led to making connections with writers who write what I write (what a concept!)
- Which led to being introduced to an editor I was pitching the next day, and getting to make a personal connection with her ahead of time
- And because it was so natural a progression, I wasn’t nervous or awkward with HER (because it’s in my nature to make an idiot of myself around people I respect
- The chance to see an old friend of my husband’s, and spend time with her and really make her my friend, and someone who amazes me at every turn
- Good, beautiful conversation with her, covering topics of so much greater importance than writing–but that, too!
- The overwhelming expansion of my reading list (didn’t need that, but it’s still a good thing!)
- A brief, but nice, visit with my aunt and uncle, who loaned me a bed for Friday night
- A successful pitch or three, both fiction & NF (none of them guarantees of publication, but successful nonetheless)
- A spur-of-the-moment visit with my sister on the way home
- A great CD to listen to, inspiring a change of heart
- Arriving home on Saturday night to a house that I left in a disaster, and found in a state of almost-cleanliness! (Yes, my husband rocks. No, you can’t have him.)
- And last but most certainly not least, the reaction of my children when I pulled in the driveway and came inside.
- A day without simmering resentments, a day free of bickering between spouses, and with very little yelling at kids.
- For three cuties on a bunkbed
- and moving the boys in together at last
- for their enthusiasm over the idea of being roommates
- For a Mother’s day brunch enjoyed outside
- and homemade pizza
- For almost two uninterrupted hours, spent on the delicious pleasure of working on a novel
- and the fact that the words finally began to flow on the novel again, after months spent procrastinating while I do other paying projects
- For a husband who fixes lawn mowers and makes mattress supports for bunk beds, and involves his sons in the process
- For a day spent loving each other instead of working side by side—even though we were working side by side, in many cases, I’ve never fully appreciated the difference before
- For beautiful weather
- and a concert with my firstborn to end the day
- a perfect day for a bike ride (except for the mosquitoes)
- the beauty of the river
- picking up where we left off
- new friends
- a grown-up “sleepover” (especially nice b/c at the end of it I got to sleep in my own bed, not in some uncomfortable sleeping bag!)
- An amazing Monday morning sky as the clouds drift in:
- the air yellow and intimate
- cornflower blue sky dotted with salmon-colored clouds in the southwest
- smudgy gray clouds, almost disappearing into the sky, outlined in brilliant white-silver
- cotton ball blobs atop shimmering gray-yellow formations in the east
- the low grumble of thunder
- My love for my sick child
- The end being in sight for all my deadlines
- An improvement in attitude
- “bad years”
- Julianna’s lovely giggle
- Spiritual insights
- Two boys who adore each other
- A 1 a.m. snuggle with Julianna when the wind and rain woke her
- Cricut work waiting to be enjoyed with Alex
- A good day for toilet training
- Poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and English muffins
- A 2-year-old who is so eager to help that he goes and gets out the canisters of sugar and flour without being asked, and brings them over saying, “Beah, beah” (bread).
a baby energetic enough to cry for food
nursing while my baby’s fingers play with the satin ribbons on my pajamas
Settling in bed with the baby against my chest
Five a.m. is for me and Michael
the sensation of his weight spreading through my body
living fully in the moment
For a visit home…overnight
the soul-filling silence of a winter afternoon in the country
and a glorious night of stargazing with my oldest
two brief shooting stars
deep darkness outside the windows
and a gentle sunrise that wraps the world around, uninterrupted by other houses
For the smell of my home church wafting out to greet me upon entering the familiar space
and the chance to worship with four generations of my family
For unnamed reconciliations
For morning snuggles with a preschooler in the crook of each arm
For conversations that illuminate yet again how blessed I am in my life
and the conversations that remind me that I can never stop wrestling with the hard questions
For a baby swing that made it through three kids, if not the fourth
and a husband who managed to make it last that long
For the blogging history that reminded me my current frustrations are fleeting and familiar
For a husband who supports my endeavors, even when I question myself
and a huge playground that kept them all well-entertained for two hours while I worked
For completion of a project that was weighing down my heart
For toasted (well, okay, baked) ravioli and fried mozzarella sticks
strawberries and grapes
and a fun movie to watch with the kids
For pleasant bath time
and going to bed with gratitude in my heart
for sleeping till 7:15
and being awakened by the slanting rays of sunlight instead of a baby’s cries or an obnoxious alarm clock.
for a husband who knew he could offer me a welcome rest by taking two kids with him when he went to visit family…
and who took the child I most needed a break from
for sleeping in the middle of the bed
children who were in bed by 8p.m.
sleeping with the windows open
for novel writing
for a much-needed reminder that the child who is hardest for me to deal with right now is probably the one who needs me most .
that the quiet, the bed to myself, the sleeping late, was only for this one night.
For a rain chain
three pairs of pajamaS
and a rain gauge
and more importantly, 4/10 of an inch of rain to go with them (even if that’s barely enough to scratch the surface of the worst drought in 50 years)…
For a twenty-mile bicycle ride with my husband and a relaxing picnic beneath a tree beside a soybean field
For hundreds of online well-wishes (Facebook rocks, I don’t care what anyone says) especially the thoughtful and personalized ones from people I respect
For a student coming to help me clean house in exchange for lessons and the end of the overwhelming set of deadlines coming into view
For Nicholas officially becoming the first of my children to be completely toilet trained, even at night (woohoo!)