Daily Gratitude Photoblog

Gratitude for today, one day at a time.

Time.

3/15:  Grateful today for the gift of one’s self.

I really saw that evidenced today.  My sweet cousin is just finishing up her university experience.  She has just a few weeks and, as a theater major, is completely loaded with school work, upcoming shows, oh, and she’s getting ready to take a summer job so her room is in the middle of a major cleanse.  Today was her first free day during spring break. And how does she spend her time?  By sharing time with me and BabyGirl, a little breakfast, some quick shopping and a tour of the local library.

This library is no joke. I remember it from childhood.  The children’s section was in the basement, no windows and a cool set of pillows to sit on and read.  It was a little place when I moved away nearly a decade ago.  Now it is a children’s wonderland, with statues, puppet show stages, story times and this incredible stained glass. BabyGirl was in awe of all the cool things to look at, imagine when she realizes that we can read the books, too.  This was just a quick shot of them taking time to look at this artwork.

Sure, it was a few minutes out of her day, but it was a great time for us and really showed us, again, how much she really cares for us.  And it reminded me that the gift of time is really the gift of one’s self.  Really, by giving of your time you are giving of yourself. One of the very best gifts.

I’m very grateful for that gift today.

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Kin.

Personal note:  Again, I have fallen off the wagon.  But, like anything, the best way to finish a goal is to keep at it.  Everyday.  This is what I’m learning as part of this process. That, and to be grateful.

3/14:  Grateful today for my kin.A quick snuggle.

It is so good to have some time with family.  We just arrived and are getting adjusted to a new schedule.  BabyGirl is having a harder time than I had expected.  Tonight we ran a quick errand to the store and when we returned my BabyGirl was comfortably asleep in GrammaT’s arms.  It may be a simple thing to her but spoke volumes to my soul.  I feel so very blessed and humbled to have family that loves us so much.  Kindness abounds.

So, I’m extra grateful today for an aunt that just takes time out to have a moment to love my BabyGirl and ensure that she feels safe. And me too.

And for this, I am truly grateful.

The roller coaster.

2/22:  Grateful to take a step back and just breathe.

Splashing it up!

I’ve been on a hiatus from these postings.  Sure, I’d like to call it a sabbatical, but really it was just a hiatus.  It feels good to get back to completing this goal.

The past few days have been an incredible time being together as a family and I’m so grateful for that.  And true to form, we are back at the military life.  The grind of the military lifestyle can sometimes be so very stressful; in fact, today I’ve been thinking that this is just like those first few seconds on the roller coaster.  Did she really just say roller coaster?  Who thinks of a roller coaster while talking about military life?  Do they even have roller coasters in Hawaii?  Nope.  Stick with me here.

After waiting in that ridiculously long line, being herded like wayward cattle up the turnstiles and listening to way too many teenagers try to curse their way to cool, it is your turn to ride. You’ve strapped in, some helpful employee has come by to check the harness, never once looking you eye-to-eye and that causes a bit of concern.  The rickety old cart starts forward then you see that huge hill in front of you. The sound reminds you of John Deere revving the engine, even though you’ve never really heard one aloud. For some reason, the cart has to pause at the base of the hill, making you look closer at what’s going on and then, finally, you are being tugged upward.  The sound of the chain grabbing the bottom of the coaster seems to ring in your ears. Clink, clink, clink.  The sheer anticipation of what is beyond that crest is about half of the thrill of the ride. Your mind wonders, “Is the loopty-loop on the first hill or does it come later?” Clink, clink, clink. “Is this one of those rides that goes backwards, too?”  Clink, clink, clink. “Why did they convince me to go on this crazy old ride?  How old is this thing?  What am I doing here?”  Clink, clink, clink. As he crest of that hill has been reached you’re nearly screaming to yourself, “Why do they always put the biggest coaster next to the parking lot?  Don’t they know how teeny the cars look from here?  I’m gonna puke!”  And then… pause.  “Why the pause?  I hate the pause!  Just get this stupid thing going!  Oh crrrrrap!”  And you’re off!

Ah, sweet anticipation.  I say let the ride begin.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over this past little while is that there are some things that I simply cannot control. Or fix. Or trade-in.  It just must be dealt with, trudged through to learn the lesson.  And you know what?   I’m finally ready to learn. I can only take control of my little corner of life, and I’m learning to relax, feel the butterflies in stomach as we make some crazy turns and enjoy the ride.

I’m sure I’ll look back on this one day and think, “Whew.  That wasn’t so bad. The cars weren’t that teeny, were they?”  And I’ll laugh. But that doesn’t mean I’ll want to ride it again.

For the roller coaster ride of this exciting, crazy, stressful, messy, hilariously beautiful life, I am so very grateful.

Checking the details.

2/16:  Grateful today to check off the details.  It’s good to take time and look at the specifics.

She's pluckin' away.

Every night as part of her bedtime ritual, BabyGirl climbs all over me and gets real close to my face.  So close I think she’s going to kiss me or tell me a secret.  Her eyes are wide, and she’s deep in concentration… then her pudgy little hand goes straight for my eyelash!  She’s pulling out my eyelashes! You think it’s a caring little nuzzle, no, she’s taking aim! She wants to pull them out, every one of them! She looks closely, concentrates, and when she concentrates lately that little tongue of hers comes out about half way sticking to her upper lip, then she goes for the kill.  I thought it was a little game we were playing until Daddy came home and she went for his eyebrows.  But who can resist his eyebrows?  They are powerful.

It makes me laugh. It has also made me think that she is really discovering all the tiny details of the world around her.  When she starts to notice a hair on my chin, I’m giving her the tweezers and hoping for the best.  I can’t help but parallel it to my own life.  I was trying to do too many things for too long and had lost so much of the details.  And when you take time to work out the details, there is some real clarity given.  You see the little things in life and it gives you perspective on the big picture.

Today has been a good day of baby doctor’s appointments, tax forms and errands.  I chose to focus on the details and the good that they were providing, and you know what? I really enjoyed it. Taxes, I enjoyed finishing up the taxes. This gratitude is good stuff!

I’m so very grateful.

 

Little girls and dragonflies.

2/15: Feeling very, very grateful today.

Picnic in the park. Practically a cliche.

This week has been full of fun surprises!  We had our friends from home call at 3pm and by 5:30 we were sitting down breaking bread and catching up.  Wow!  It was such a refreshing surprise to see friends, spend time with them and just feel “home” again.

And to finish off the goodness, today we joined a friend and her little girl, just a month older than ours, for a picnic in the park.  It was wonderful.  It’s a little trick to tell from this image, but the statue in this pond is a dragonfly.  I love it!  There were a few dragonflies all around us, too.  We were told when we were younger that dragonflies are good luck, when you see one it means that someone you love is thinking of you.

I like that. I hope to see more dragonflies.  And little girls.

Love Cake and Extraordinary friends.

Mmmm...Love Cake.

2/12:  Grateful today for Love Cake.  And extraordinary friends to share it.

Sometimes people come for a visit on this little island and stop by to see us.  This visit just blew me away.

“Nurse B” was the home health nurse through my Mom’s entire battle with cancer.  She came over regularly in the beginning, daily after the first while and several times a day toward the end.  She quickly became an extension of our family.  I come from a long line of strong, proud, stubborn women who work to get the job done and we don’t like to let people see our softer, weaker side.  Nurse Becky had the most amazing touch with my Mom to keep her comfortable, maintain her dignity and still take care of all the discomforts, clean ups, and treatments.  Mom still felt like a person, rather than a patient. This skill alone makes her a great nurse.

The thing that most stood to me was that Nurse B would come to the house and take care of Mom, then spend several minutes with each of us at home (and toward the end there were several of us staying there), asking how we are doing, how has the day gone for you, is there anything she could pick up for us while she was out.  Not just working beyond the call, but serving, “To infinity and beyond!” kind of service.  Incredible.

Aloha!

She is an extraordinary person with an endless capacity to love.  During that difficult time she gave us a safe place to cry, never judging all of the emotions that came with losing a loved one.  No, in fact, she’d cry with us.  She was definitely part of the family.  Toward the end of Mom’s battle the winter snow had really kicked in and she was stopping by several times throughout the day, at times with her sweet husband in tow ensuring she’d arrive while traveling in those icy cold roads and mountainous snow banks.  She was missing Christmas shopping, family parties and all kinds of holiday celebrations to watch over us. At the very end, she stayed up and told us to get some sleep and she’d wake us when the moment came. She was there when my sweet Mama passed.  And loved us gently in those moments. This kind of sincere caring makes her an extraordinary friend.

Sweet, wonderful friends.

So you can just imagine my joy to see her.  It was nearly overwhelming to share our new BabyGirl, Grandma’s namesake, with Nurse B and her sweetheart.  It was the most wonderful time to reminisce, laugh and catch up with them.  There was such a feeling of kindness, love and joy shared by all.  She really is our family.  They wanted to see our little spot in the world and it was time I certainly treasure.

Next time we get together, there may not be Love Cake, but it will be okay.

For this, I am truly grateful.

Returns

Is it YOU?

2/10:  Grateful for returns.  Some call them homecomings, but to us they are returns.

This is the return time.  My two loves re-connected and I wasn’t sure if BabyGirl would remember…but it only took a couple of seconds and it was back to being family! For us, family time means the time when we stop, take a breath and enjoy just being together, no matter how planned or relaxed that time may be.We plan to enjoy every second we have until Daddy has to go again, no matter how short or long we have.  Perhaps that’s the biggest lesson of all, time goes by so fast and we’ve got to make it count!

Of course, it's YOU!

So, let’s laugh, make some memories and cherish this return.

For this very precious time I am truly grateful.

Ninjas. Lawn ninjas.

2/9:  Grateful  for the lawn ninjas. Do you have lawn ninjas in your neighborhood?  If you don’t, you should get some.

Not our best morning...

Looking at BabyGirl, you have just a glimpse of what our morning was like.  I was doing everything I could to help her settle down.  Nothing seemed to work, then we  heard the lawn ninjas. (cue the mysterious music…) Aaaand we’re back.

After a long morning of her grouchiness, I took her outside. We felt the cool breeze on our faces and watched the lawn ninjas.  They’re called lawn ninjas because while mowing the lawn on the super industrial strength mowers, they’ve got long pants and t-shirts on, often wearing gloves, a bandana to tie their hair back (which is all pretty normal for landscape crews, but) then they take an extra tshirt and pull it on so their eyes can see out of the neck hole and take both sleeves and tie behind their head.  Usually they have glasses on over the shirt.  These landscape workers become…lawn ninjas. I really wanted a picture, but wouldn’t that be just a little too much?  “Excuse me, sir, I couldn’t help notice you were the only lawn ninja around here and I’m grateful.  Can I take your picture for my blog?  It’s because I’m grateful.”  That creeps me out just saying it now.

Amidst the lawn ninja madness BabyGirl was amazed.  We stood outside for quite a while watching their big mowers take laps around our little part of the world, they would wave to her as they passed by and they made my BabyGirl feel special.  The smell of fresh cut grass and gasoline always remind me of summer mornings back home. It was a great moment and gave her a fresh start to the day.  Actually, it gave us both a fresh start again.  I think somedays everyone could use a lawn ninja to help them re-start a tough one.  You really should think about getting some for your neighborhood.  They help.

Grateful for lawn ninjas.

Consistency.

2/8:  Grateful for consistency.  Or at least the goal of consistency.

Shopping's getting fun!

The past few days BabyGirl and I have been working on a little project that has been a lot of fun.  She has tried to help as much as she can and I can see her personality shining through.  Because of this, her bedtime has been a little off, which doesn’t sound like a big deal…

But it has affected EVERYTHING. I had no idea how important it is to stay consistent on this.

I’m the kind of Mama that likes to read about the next phase so I can understand what Baby’s going through as we are working on stages of development.  It just seems to help me.  Tonight I was reading about potty training and signs to look for to know that she’s ready.  And the last line read something along the lines of, “Do not attempt to potty train during a stressful time, that is a move, an illness, a separation.” I just busted a gut laughing.  Are you kidding me?  You just described 75% of my baby’s life.  How have so many military kids been potty trained when they are moving, or possibly sick or separated from a parent all the time? I’ve been thinking about it all day.

I thought of my mission president, the leader who inspired me while serving as a missionary for my church.  He used to say, “The only thing that’s consistent in the field is inconsistency.”  He was right.  But then, life is inconsistent.  The key for me, then, is to establish consistency with BabyGirl so that she feels safe and knows her place, while not being so rigid and uptight that we forget to live. Hmmm….tricky.  To go too far on either side of spectrum is not good for us.

So I’ve been thinking of ways I can be better for my sweet little family, knowing that just getting a plan is the first part, putting it into action is the real key for success. And I’ve got some work to do.

You know, thinking about it made me get back up this late to make sure I post this after struggling for a few hours with an “over-tired” baby who can’t seem to fall asleep.  I’ve committed, I’m sticking to it. and this focus feels good.

Tonight I’m really grateful for consistency.

My Gram.

2/7:  So grateful for my Gramma.  It’s her birthday today, and she is a ball-a-fire!

Gram & BabyGirl at 3 months old.

As far as Grammas are concerned, she is one cool cat.

Growing up we used to spend every New Year’s Eve having a major sleepover at her house. We’d all be in her jammies, there must have been 10-12 of us kids together, dancing to Dick Clark’s countdown, trying to stay up late and laughing like crazy.  It’s where I distinctly remember seeing Boy George sing and thinking, “Hmmm… he’s not what I expected.”  I also remember my cousin, Justin, doing the Safety Dance.  But that classic little nugget is another chapter to be shared.

Every summer Gram would take one weekend and take all the “girl cousins” to the cabin, then the following weekend she would take all the “boy cousins” for their weekend.  We’d laugh and giggle all weekend.  It was wonderful.

Now, Gram is super sweet unless you misbehave, then all the sudden you’d hear her shout out her obscenities, which sounds something like an Eastern European dialect meets a Star Wars Alien life-force.  It’s usually something like, “AAaaahmekeblekeahusshcheenaratscheskiblue!”  It came with such a vengeance that she used to scare me when she’d shout it.  I remember a couple times she’d look me right in the eyes when she shouted, “Hoshamasoshamucheckaleckeekschalouve!”  And I knew she meant it.

Having a moment.

Fast forward to today, I was working on a little project this evening and BabyGirl was trying to help. Trying to help too much.  I finally put her in the high chair so that I could finish up the last couple of details without her interference.  I went to the other room and it took me a couple of minutes to grab something, she started whining a little bit, crying out loud, strained screaming and then all of a sudden I hear her spout out, “AAaaahmekeblekeahuwahnnahnawaheemamaaaaahhh!” I stopped what I was doing, froze really, and had to look at her to see where she learned it.  A generational bond, for sure.  She’s a chip off Gram’s block.  And I couldn’t be prouder.

So today, I’m grateful for my Gram and for the family connections that keep us close, no matter how far apart we are.

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