gratitude: the choice to come and go

I doubt you’re shocked to hear I’ve got some strong opinions about our country.  I mean, I’m grateful to live here for so many reasons, but I disagree vehemently with the laws enforced in certain states.  Being such a diverse citizenry means there are people who feel just as strongly as I do except, you know, the opposite.  Welcome to a country that champions free speech.

We’ve got ups, downs…positives, negatives…all the ins and outs of a country our size.  But for what it’s worth, in a nation with an eclectic collection of states under one flag, there’s one freedom that’s especially precious.  We enjoy a wonderful freedom of movement in America.

On one of our visits to Charlottesville we found a section of the Berlin wall on display.  The kids were equal parts fascinated and perplexed as we tried to explain how a wall could appear overnight, dividing a country in two.  How people could become prisoners in their homes.  How families were separated, communication severed for almost three decades, lives torn apart.

Recently we were watching a show about the DMZ between North and South Korea.  T-man’s been interested in this area ever since meeting his Tae Kwon Do master, a gentleman from South Korea, and the stark difference in reality between those two spaces is eye opening to say the least.

It’s made me appreciate how blessed we are to be free to come and go as we please within our own country.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: there goes the book

BrightSide and I are not typically a fly by the seat of our pants sort of couple.  I keep a crazy absurd ridiculously detailed calendar.  We coordinate schedules.  We make plans.  When we leave town we have an itinerary, even if large blocks of it are dedicated to Down Time.

I’m not gonna say we always go by the book, but we definitely aren’t used to tossing the book out the window entirely.

Until last weekend.

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gratitude: pitter patter on the window pane

Not everyone’s a fan of rain.  My kids surely aren’t – there’s no faster way to ruin a perfectly good day than to have droplets start falling from the sky.

But me?  I love rain.  Not so much cold, biting rain, or those days when I had to slosh across campus through a downpour…still, there’s a lot more beauty than bitter in the raindrops.

  • We have a lot of natural light in our family room.  (Seriously. A lot.)  When rain clouds move across the sky the room dims, and suddenly it feels like a cozy cocoon.
  • The steady sound of rain against our windows creates a perfect background for napping.
  • Something about rain just makes me stop and take a breath.  There’s no rushing about – games are cancelled, plans at home get rewritten – it’s like hitting reset.
  • Misty rain is a refreshing spray against my face.
  • Harder rain triggers giggle fits as Bear and I sprint to take cover.  We almost always end up bent double, laughing at the madness of trying to duck raindrops.
  • The rain brings the green…the green brings the smiles.

My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: our not-so-little T-man

I’ve read that Gotcha Day can be a hard concept for adoptees.  The idea zeroes in on a narrative that says “we’re so lucky you joined our family [and therefore you are so lucky we came along]”  and shies away from what might be difficult about this particular day.  Skirting the pain of feeling abandoned by a first family, ignoring the possibility that a child might be torn between what is and what could have been.

I acknowledge this and honor the possibility that May 31 might stir conflicting feelings in your heart.  So here, in my little corner of the world, I’d like to sing my praises for this day.

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We dreamed of having children, and when we didn’t we waited for you.

We dreamed of being parents, and one day your birthmother trusted us to be your family.

We dreamed of being a mom and dad, and one day we were blessed to call you our son.

We dared to dream, and then you were there.

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Today I’ll tell you I love you, each and every day.  That I’m blessed to be your mom, and what a joy it is to watch you growing into a strong, smart, kind young man.

gratitude: our happy dance on the downhill slide

I know I’m not the only one doing a jig these days.

Parents, teachers, teaching assistants, club leaders, students, PTO, administration, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians…we’re all doing the happy dance.  Some of us right out in the open, some when no one’s looking, but feet are tapping all over the county.

We are on the downhill slide to to summer.  Can I get a hallelujah?

I know, I know…the end of the school year requires a frenetic pace, kind of like a mouse hopped up on amphetamines, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is so worth it.  Down days, no homework, a change in plans.  There may be schedules to keep in the summertime, but the idea of getting to basketball camp instead of rushing to homeroom is much more palatable.

It’s so close you can almost taste it.  Are your dancing shoes ready?


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: because sometimes double P stands for Deliciousness

Ice cream.

I could probably start and end this gratitude post with those two words – ice cream – and most of you would be like, “yeah!”  But what would be the fun in that?

We’ve lived in this area since 1997 and been in our current house since…oh, I don’t know…2009?  Maybe?  This is the sort of thing responsible adults usually know.  This is also where my weakness for numbers rears its ugly head.

At any rate, we’ve been around a while but only recently discovered a local restaurant in the downtown area.  It’s across from our historic courthouse and has two Ps in soda shoppe so it seems extra old-timey.  Now, it’s not vegan or fusion or organic anything, but it has a solid menu that anybody can order from.  (Well, maybe not anybody.  Sorry, vegan niece.  Love ya, mean it!)  All four of us can eat dinner there and no one’s the least bit grumpy about what they “had” to settle on.

But this place also serves The Best Old Fashioned Hot Fudge Sundae around.  Like, for reals, people.

And you know I’m hardcore serious about my ice cream.  My standards are forever set at Ben & Jerry’s nirvana, so if I’m gushing about the dreamy goodness then if you’re in the area you know you oughta stop on by.

The vanilla ice cream – I’m a purist, can’t get anything other than vanilla – is creamy deliciousness in a tall sundae glass.  Their warm, thick, sweet hot fudge – no wimpy chocolate syrup here, no sir – coats your throat like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.  And the ice cream to fudge ratio is precisely as it should be in a world where too many people drizzle a topping over scoops and dare to call it a sundae.  These folks put hot fudge into the glass before adding any ice cream, drizzling it down the sides and into the bottom so every delicious sundae bite has cool vanilla bean dreaminess with warm, gooey fudge.  Of course they add a healthy dose of hot fudge to the top as well as a nice dollop of whipped cream…because, well, Soda Shoppe.

Mmmmm…all hail, ice cream.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: freedom comes in many flavors

Oh, lo, do I love a free day.

Even if that free day is actually a “drop the kid at school and cram in five loads of laundry while blogging” day, it still counts.

Not being on a schedule.  Not having errands to run or appointments to keep or sports to coordinate.  Not having to fix my hair (HA! as if I “fix” my hair) or put on makeup or even wear a freaking bra if I don’t feel like it.  (And let’s face it, how many of us actually feel like wearing a bra??)

Sometimes “free” means two hour naps or folding laundry to a Netflix marathon, dog cuddling or picking up the house, painting toenails or reading or catching up on chores.  But if it’s done from home – at my own pace and in my own order – then it feels like a free day to me.

Sweet, sweet freedom.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: when even my kids think my siblings are cool

My brother’s held the title of Cool Uncle J. for a while now.  Years, actually, but we’ve all learned to live with the blinding spotlight of his über coolness because, well, he’s über cool.  No point in swimming upstream, right?

My sister rocks it out in the aunt department, too.  The kids love their Aunt Bee, and let’s face it…what could possibly be better than childhood memories of deliciously realistic bulldozer cakes?  I’ll tell you what: nothing.  Nothing beats deliciously realistic bulldozer cakes.

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