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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gratitude: what do pencils, popcorn, and ice have in common?

Boy, do we love to moan and groan about the modern world.  Increasingly complex password requirements.  Ever changing food pyramids and nutritional flip flops – eggs are a healthy breakfast, but they spike your cholesterol, except they provide good protein…No cell service and home security systems gone haywire. 

But I’ll take the bad with the good any day because there are several modern conveniences I’m exceedingly grateful for.  (Yes, my fellow English majors, that should be “for which I’m grateful” – but does anyone else have trouble writing when it comes out sounding so…stuffy?)

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gratitude: the power of REM cycles

It’s amazing what a decent night’s sleep can do for a person.

I mean really good sleep.  In a room that’s not too hot, on a bed that’s just the right amount of firmness.  With a comfortable pillow and earplugs that dampen even the noisiest dog nails to silence.

We’re talking eight to nine hours of solid sleep.  No tossing and turning; no waking up every hour because my nose is stuffy or my head is raging.  No kids tapping my shoulder because they don’t feel good.  No dogs scuffling around or dropping their paws on me so I’ll let them outside for a midnight pee.

540 minutes of Peace and Quiet with a few decent REM cycles thrown in for good measure.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: our own bright lights

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I love traveling.  New sights, new sounds, even new smells.  The chance to experience another life from the inside out, even if only for a week, and gain a new perspective on the world.  It’s a precious gift BrightSide and I have shared for years now.

But there’s a joy in the returning home, too.  It feels like sliding out of a cool ocean and crossing warm, soft sand.  This is clearest when we move between extremes, returning from a busy trip or crowded city.  We step back into our lives, and this is what I see.

Hawks and vultures soaring overhead, feathers outlined against a clear blue sky.  Deer passing through the neighborhood in groups of three or four.  And stars…stars as far as the eye can see.  More stars than I ever imagined would hover above our home, along with a planet or two.

There’s nothing quite like coming back to crystal clear starry nights after a week of bright lights, big city.

My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: where the difference lies

“The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs.  The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.” 
– William J. Clinton, 1997

This is more true today than it’s ever been.  Labels are shouted from the rooftops – religion, race, who we love, who we should hate – all with one aim.  Division.

You cannot dream of peace while denouncing an entire group of people.  You cannot look to the future if you are determined to stand still, feet planted in sour soil with firmly downcast eyes.  You cannot lay claim to Christian love and forgiveness while your actions are incendiary, exclusionary, and dismissive.

But I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  More and more people are stepping out of the shadows, determined to stand up and say, “We are better than this.”  And we are.  We are better than this.

We just have to expect it of one another.

My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

gratitude: the season of friendship

Understanding the nuance of friendship is a part of living in a military family.  I learned this lesson early on – if I wanted to have friends then I’d have to make the effort.  I had to step out of my comfort zone, talk to new people, and find kids I wanted to hang out with until the next move.

This wasn’t that hard as a young girl.  Not surprisingly, it became more difficult over the years.  Something about self-consciousness, fear of rejection, awkward freshman stages and such.

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