Original post November 30, 2015
November is the wonderful time of year when humanity becomes well more human:) I don't think it is a coincidence that the nice factor shoots up during this time of year, we are counting our blessings and planning heartfelt gifts for our loved ones, in other words...we aren't focused on ourselves, our challenges, wants and needs. A happy life is really "out there" loving, serving and being grateful for every tiny thing that makes life beautiful!
I pinned this "Thankful" project by Elise (lil gik) because I wanted to celebrate my gratitude this month. When I began really looking at the prompts, a groan escaped my lips...I would have to be thankful for me too. I forged ahead thinking it would be good for me to get out of my gratitude comfort zone:) Join me!
Thankful (a daily photo journel)
My Thankful project:
Day 1-something about your personality
It is interesting to really look inward and think about things you really like about yourself. I found my mind wandering more to the "don't like me list"...so trudging over to the "like me list" was a challenge but quite liberating!
I am thankful to be a gatherer, the quintessential mother hen, something that comes from being an oldest child. My siblings weren't so fond of this quality as we were growing up, my teenagers found it constricting, but the family members that come to gatherings, friends that come to parties, and the ladies that come to Nellies Cottage appreciate my gathering nature! We need each other, the good, the annoying, and even the "I can't take this anymore from you" because loving each other makes this journey of life more interesting and enjoyable.
I have a desire to connect people in a meaning, a life long way, and because I am a southern woman it usually involves food:)
Day 2-something about your physically
Oh my, you should have heard the voice in my head on this one! You know those girls with tall thin willowy bodies...yea well I obviously got in the wrong line in heaven for that one:) However this is about something I AM thankful for...my hair! Some of us are old enough to have survived the straight down the middle in your face 70's hair and the bigger than Texas permed hair of the 80's! I have survived the cheap because we were in school for so stinking long haircuts that did nothing to enhance my round face. I have survived several chop it all off rounds, glamour shots, and thinking blonds have more fun. Happily, I have found the perfect hair stylist who is under orders not to die before me:) I love the layers, the perfectly "natural" hair color and even the ladies who take pictures of my cut in JoAnns and Hobby Lobby because they want to copy my look. Thank heavens for my hair, it gives me a reason to open my eyes in the mirror:)
Day 3-your significant other
I married a foreigner, a tall handsome and very stubborn Englishman when I was but 18, which is a whole other story! He is the steady to my frantic, the chocolate chips in my pancakes, and the one I was meant to travel life with...the one who sees the world through very calm rose colored glasses (which can be maddening!)...he is my knight in "doesn't care if they are shiny" clothes (not interested in fashion) the "do it yourself even though it would be easier to hire someone" thrifty guy. I could not have chosen a more beloved father for my children, great provider or spiritual giant to keep our family on a good path. He has been my Nellie's Cottage bank, handyman, and tractor guy. I am thankful for the autonomy and freedom he freely gives me. I am thankful for British accents, slightly silvery hair sparkles, and that "do you really need a picture smile!"
Day 4-your children or pets
I could have chosen either having had four children and four dogs. After careful consideration I am probably slightly more grateful for my children:) Four children, 2 boys, 2 girls..I always said dividing a dozen donuts worked out perfectly! I cannot express in words the treasure I have in these four unique and extraordinary individuals who call me mom, kimbo, momma, yo slice, mommy, and probably other things behind my back:) If they have learned as much from me as I have learned from them, I am happy. Keith is a restauranteur, with a lovely Welsh wife, and 3 little stepsons. Aaron is balancing an orthodontic residency with a beautiful wife, very bouncy 4 year old and twin cuties. Brittany mother's 3 little blond girls, caters for my retreaters, and shares her life with an amazing hubby. My baby Danielle is very anxious to move back to Texas after hubby graduates and is planning a career as a PA. These short descriptions do not really describe them. Keith has a way of sweetly parenting me. Aaron teases me and loves me simultaneously. Brittany is my right hand girl who shares my love of mothering and creating. Danielle is my thoughtful sweet cherry on top:)
I am thankful for the privilege of being their mom.
Day 5-a family member
My brother Todd is the family diplomat. He is the jolly and the serious, my partner in childhood crime, a comfy soul that shares my love of peanut butter and steins syrup:) I played cars (he made the best car sounds ever!) with him and he played barbies with me. I bossed him around until he became bigger than me, after which we became friends. I still remember the first time we sat and talked as teenage grownups. I fondly remember time we were "convicts" for the day, painting the roof eaves as punishment. We both love fast cars, fancy wheels and bluebell ice-cream. I am the oldest, but he is like an older brother, calling me out when I need it, helping me keep "bridge burning" to a minimum:) My best tribute to Todd is a toast to Saturday morning cartoons with unlimited cereal, "punching it" in dads Impala just to hear the engine roar, and oooie wheels!
Day 6-the town you call home
I live in the town I grew up in, the town my parents were born in, the town my grandparents came to after losing their home in the depression. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is still here. Oh there are things I don't like such as a reputation that perpetuates itself with blind ignorance because it is easier to believe the negative. My focus is deliberately on the good, on the things I can help change, the service I can give to make it better. Southerners are generally friendly and polite. Here, men still open doors and stop if you break down on the road. This little town is full of educated professional people who serve on committees and charitable organizations. It is also full of rednecks who are survivors and innovative in creative outdoor living. If there is a famine, I will take rednecks over white collar guys anytime:) Many people wonder why my husband and I do not move to a town more "suitable" for us. I declare this small, no traffic, see someone you know in every store, shut down main street for a homecoming parade, town suits me. There is a memory around every bend. I may be a tiny minnow in a small muddy pond, but by golly I want to make it the best muddy pond because I swim here... and for that reason, this is home.
Day 7-an item that makes your home a home
This one took me a minute, generally it's the family that makes a home. I remembered a compliment someone made when visiting for the first time "Your home is gorgeous but homey too!" Nailed it:)
I took a tour around my house and realized the particular item(s) that makes this place a home really is the family, or rather, pictures of our family hanging on the walls! Apparently there are decorating rules stating that you shouldn't have family pictures in certain rooms. I ignore them all. In the dining room hang my children's senior pictures and the girls bridals. Up the stairs are engagement & graduation pictures, a bulletin board and grandkids board full of pictures. In our British movie room pictures from England trips dominate the space. And of course there is the ever present holiday and seasonal scrapbooks on the coffee table. Too much family, not enough art? I don't think so:)
Day 8-an appliance
I inherited a few things from my grandmother Nellie. The most sobering of these items is a washboard. This hit home for me one day as I was unloading bedding and towels from my latest retreat group at Nellie's Cottage. I scowled at the giant pile until a little voice in my head said
"at least you have a washer." I could then see Nellie bent over a tin washtub scrubbing clothes with her washboard. These clothes would then have to be wrung out, hung on a line to dry outside, and then ironed. You could say I had a massive attitude adjustment about my laundry pile! Our modern lives are so easy it's hard to see beyond our normal, to remember to be thankful for the conveniences. I no longer complain about laundry no matter how big the pile:)
I am totally a suburban girl. Apparently short Texas women love these tanks, so I am in the right category:) I am now on my 5th suburban! What is not to love? I can wait months to grocery and household shop, go to Sam's Club and fill this baby with enough supplies to practically last a year.
I can buy those really spectacular mirrored nightstands on my wish list without needing a trailer (aka asking hubby) I can transport several twin mattresses, enough bedding for an army, & 25 bags of mulch. These SUV's are the ultimate vacation chariot as my Uncle Joe says:) I have tried smaller cars but I feel like a bug on the road, I have tried smaller SUV's but they don't hold enough stuff at once....so suburban it has been, and will continue to be! My new suburban even sports Nellie's Cottage lettering on the back windows, although I have been contemplating taking the lettering off, it's hard to never cut people off, pull out when you shouldn't, and drive sweetly all the time as I described in this post...
Day 10-a TV show or movie
I originally had written about "Sweet Home Alabama"in this category...then I remembered this project is about gratitude, not favorites!
I am thankful for the movie The Blind Side", a movie based on a true story.
I do small things for charity, filling Thanksgiving baskets at the Christian care center, donating for toiletry bags for trafficking victims, or taking treats to the Salvation army at Christmas, but this woman REALLY did something to help. She took a boy into her home and made a real life changing difference for him. Years ago my husband brought 4 hispanic men home who had broken down on the side of the road and I completely read him the riot act. We had 2 teenage girls home at the time. All was well and they were very nice men, but honestly I wouldn't let him do it again for fear of safety. I so admire this woman's courage and compassion, and am thankful for her example.
Day 11-a song or book
This year I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, a book recommended by a sweet friend. It is great! I would recommend this to everyone. Happiness seems illusive & unreachable some days, and yet we all have the ability and even the responsibility to create our own happiness! My happiness cannot depend on the behavior of others. It cannot depend on my physical appearance, my wardrobe, or how many likes I get on a Facebook post. My happiness must come from deep within, from an understanding of what true happiness looks like for me. The author of the book took a monthly project, something to improve and work on and found that at the end of the year she was truly more happy! I am now re-reading this book with highlighter in hand, planing my own happiness project for 2016.
Day 12-a sport or hobby
Since I would be laughed out of the family for writing about a sport (for good reason) I will write about what suits me...scrapbooking I am truly thankful for my love of photos, memories, and the resources to embellish them! When I have the time to sit at my desk and create, a feeling of profound peace and and happiness fills my soul. There are many, many creative things I would love to do. I choose scrapbooking because I want to leave my children a photo history of our lives, hoping it will weld my grandchildren and their children to us even after we are gone. Scrapbooks are my "quilts" created for future generations to feel my love in a tangible way. Our family story may not be fantastic, or movie worthy, but it is ours and that is enough for me:)
Day 13-your drink
Hahahaah....This made me think of the usually downcast face of our waiter when we order water to drink with dinner, instead of the wine they are hoping to boost the cost and therefore the tip:) Never fear my little waiters, we are good tippers since the hubby waited tables in college. I am a straight up plain water girl, maybe lemon and that is it. I am very thankful to live in a country where water is safe to drink! I am thankful I don't particularly like soda's or much juice which saves more calories for chocolate:)
Day 14-a delicious meal
As a true southern girl this is a serious question! I am thankful my mother insisted we eat together as a family, which I continued with my children and hope they are doing with theirs! Caution: not all family meals are enjoyable, we had our fair share of spilled milk, "I don't like this!", and "she always gets the biggest one!"....still, we also had our fair share of fun conversations, and bonding that would not have happened if we were not around the same table at the same time. Our family loves breakfast so much it is our Christmas dinner! French toast, homemade buttermilk syrup, bacon, strawberries, hash browns, eggs, biscuits, the whole works. Family & delicious food go together in the most marvelous way:)
Here is a favorite biscuit recipe
Day 15-an even more delicious dessert
This was a hard one:) Belonging to a family of premier bakers, family pride often manifests itself in dessert which means there are many to choose from. After much agonizing between Missisippi mud cake, made once a year for my hubby's birthday 34 years running, and banana pudding made with grandmother Nellie's stir on the stove custard, I must go with the latter because it reaches back into my childhood! I have memories standing on a stool taking my turn stirring this custard. Mom would be close by reminding me that when you could drip it off the spoon and see "tracks" in the pudding it was perfect:) Cooling the custard before adding banana's and vanilla wafers in layers was a must, as well as a good long chill in the fridge before serving. It's funny how a mixture of milk, butter, sugar and vanilla can project such fond family memories. I am thankful for Nellie's custard not only because it is deliciously smooth and creamy but mostly because it connects me to her:)
Nellie's old fashion custard
Mississippi Mud cake
Day 16-something you made
What a challenge to choose just one! However this was a good exercise in contemplating the "why" of my creating. I make scrapbooks for family history, I make cookies for brownie points with the family, and I make decorative items for, well... truthfully my own enjoyment. But since this is about being thankful, what "made" item falls squarely into that category? With tears forming in my eyes I got it...I am thankful I "made" Nellie's Cottage. I am NOT taking credit for the building by my grandfather, or the lifetime legacy my grandparents left me in the cottage. I am simply grateful I could see the vision of what it could become, for the strong desire to restore their home and legacy, and for my hubby, the resource and support to actually do it! Women have come, created, & bonded with friends. Families have come to celebrate 50th and 65th wedding anniversaries. Daughters, sisters, aunts, and grandmother's have come to celebrate their relationship. How could I not be grateful that I "made" Nellie's Cottage. It seems as if this was part of my destiny, my mission in life, to create this place of love and friendship. I am thankful for Nellie's Cottage.
I immediately thought of the difficulty of deciding between my color favorites, but once again focused in on the "thankful" aspect. This project really changes the persecutive of how I feel about different things. I love red, purple, pink, and turquoise the most, but the color I am most thankful for is blue. Blue skies, blue water and the blue eyes in our family. Blue is calming, inspiring, and helps me reach heavenward in my attitude and aspirations. A blue blouse usually wins me a compliment from the hubby, blue water my pool means it is clean, and the blue shutters on my front porch adds a bit of New Orleans flair:) Blue represents sincerity, responsibility and devotion. I have a few "blue" personalities in my family and they live up to this description. I am thankful for blue, all shades, hues, and creations in nature, especially the sky which inspires me to higher and happier thoughts!
Day 18-a luxury
I began by thinking of the years growing up when butter was a luxury we only had at Christmas time, the years of schooling when going to a movie other than a dollar movie seemed impossible. People who live in 3rd world countries live with the reality that clean water is a luxury. Here in America luxuries that others only dream about have become common place, even thought of as necessities. Everything in my world is a luxury that I am thankful for...air conditioning, hot water, appliances, well stocked grocery stores, & gas stations on every corner. Pedicures, chocolate in my pantry, and Christmas dresses for the granddaughters then become "super" luxuries!
Day 19-a piece of equipment
As I am doing this project I am finding that definitions of objects vary greatly. Equipment can mean almost anything! Office equipment, cleaning equipment, construction equipment, landscape equipment... I am thankful for all of the above. But if I have to chose one to be the most thankful for above the others it is my new gold Cricut Explore Air. It equips me with the ability to embellish my scrapbooks with almost unlimited images, and fonts by simply typing in a category. If I need 52 pumpkins, 33 rocking chairs, 94 fish, or 67 Christmas stars...I just push a few buttons and load the paper. This profound appreciation comes from all the childhood years of hand cutting out letters for my mom's PTA posters, and church classes:)
so.... suffice it to say I am entirely thankful it is gone!
Day 21-something that has stood the test of time
We are not at the end, more like in the middle, but I think almost 33 years of marriage could fall into this category. We have weathered twelve years of schooling and training for Michael, 12 moves, 1 house building, several renovations, 4 children, 4 college educations, 4 weddings, loss of a parent, illness, grumpiness, and sometimes just plain forgetting why we thought this was a good idea:) Anniversaries, regular dates, and becoming empty nesters all served to keep the love fire burning. We like being old marrieds, it's comfy and sweet. We hope time will be on our side to continue this journey called life together for better or worse:)
Day 22-cool weather apparel
For many years I didn't have any boots. Our southeast Texas winters aren't usually cold, at least not for very many days in a row. We had to introduce our son-in-law from Utah to our Texas "cold front" kind of winters where it could be 79 on Christmas day. A few years ago we had a bona-fied winter with 12 freezes (normally we may have 2)...it was then I decided to finally get boots. I am thankful for my boots which keep my tootsies warm but also make me feel young and hip, stylish and edgy:)
I am now having to hold myself back from buying too many!
Day 23-a bright sunshiny day
Down here on the gulf coast we can see rain for days, even weeks. It comes down in sheets or as we say, "it's raining cats and dogs!" The first day of sunshine after such rain always fills my soul with happiness and gratitude. It is a life lesson for me every time, a reminder that difficulties do end and life can be full of joy again.
p.s. I created a sunshine art piece for my craft room after such a trial:)
Day 24-a grey day
I have a love hate relationship with grey days, on the one hand they can be a bit of a downer, like this forlorn week when the rain kept our little ones indoors. On the other hand, they can bring a sense of relief from a busy life, encouraging that just want to curl up with a book feeling. It doesn't usually mean I can actually curl up and read a book, pretending that nothing needs my attention. I do feel thankful that grey days allow me to sigh a good sigh and slow down my pace just a bit, conserving energy for the next sunshiny go day!
Day 25-stop and smell the roses
We did have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend in Dallas with 2 of our children and families. Visiting with grandchildren is always exciting and I am happy to say that when we are there I pretty much stop and "smell the roses"...aka stop and snuggle and play with the children. I don't want to miss a minute of this privilege. My dad left this earth at 46 leaving behind his first 3 grandchildren, ages 11months to 5. He said not getting to watch them grow up was the hardest part about his cancer diagnosis. Leaving behind my to do list for a few days smells like fruit snacks, teddy grahams, and macaroni. Forgetting about my regular obligations feels like squishy little bodies, tiny fingers wrapped around my pinky, and soft hair snuggled under my chin. These little "roses" are the sweetest smell in all the world!
Day 26-a trip
On the 26th of this month we took a trip to Dallas to be with children for Thanksgiving! Day 26 literally. I do admit to writing this on the 30th:) Yes I have skipped around a tiny bit! This trip was really about being with the knee and waist high mob of blue-eyed grandchildren. Entirely devoted to their happiness, we braved the mall for a peak at Santa which was a riot. Three days and two nights of immersion style grand-parenting leaves us a bit tired, the good kind of tired:)
Day 27-a laugh out loud moment
Savannah, while holding baby cousin Madeline said "Why her weren't wearing her hair?"
Day 28-a smell, sight, sound, taste, or touch
True to my southern roots I decided on taste:) Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious, however one taste of the creamed corn by my daughter in law and I was a goner:) The moment this creamy concoction hit my taste buds it was true love.
You can find the recipe here...
Day 29-a surprise
I was washing dishes when Michael came up behind me and said he had put money in my account for new wood floors and paint in the living room! The carpet was about to be 20 years old, and the paint was red, which I loved 6 years ago but now...not so much:) The prelude to this surprise was a fair amount of hinting:) I wasted no time in picking out floors and lining up our favorite contractor. They are almost finished, just a few trim pieces to go! As usual with renovation the new flooring and grey paint on the walls led to a new decorating dilemma...what to do with the cabinets and mantel!
I am thinking on it, probably white?
Counting our blessings is the number one family priority in November! Through the years we have cut pictures out of magazines and hung them on a plastic tree, filled in the tree leaves of a scrapbook page, played a clapping "I am thankful for" game, and recited blessings just before the Thanksgiving dinner prayer. This year Michael issued our family a challenge to list 1000 blessings collectively. He began an email chain that flew around the family including dictated blessings from our little children, and even presumed blessings listed for 4 month old Madeline and our 23 month old twins Ethan & Charlotte. Some of the blessings were for brownie points with a spouse "thankful for a hot wife!", some were serious, some smarty, and some even hilarious. We covered all the bases of our extraordinarily blessed lives and are the better for it. The children thanked their dad for the challenge which I consider another blessing to count:)
Enjoy these other thankful posts!
"Thanksgiving Blessing tree printables"
"Thankful for me, a child's perspective"
"Everything full blast"
"30 days, 30 notes of thanks"