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Category: Gratitude

  1. Thursday, September 25

    Why My Birthday is More Than a Birthday

    Right now Owen’s birthday cake is in the oven. I will be attempting to shape it into Ripslinger from Planes a little later today. (Heaven help me.) Owen is sitting at the counter playing with a few of his Thomas trains while we wait for the cake to bake, chatting merrily away to himself, creating stories of near misses at the countertop’s edge. I am feeling beyond grateful for this moment.

    owen's 3rd birthday and thoughts on motherhood from @janemaynard

    Three years ago Owen was born on my birthday. Without a doubt it was my best birthday ever and Owen was the greatest birthday gift I could ever have dreamed of. Three years ago was also, without a doubt, the most traumatic day of my life. After a calm morning of labor, suddenly things changed. And, before we knew it, Nate was alone in the labor and delivery room and I was in an operating room being put under general anesthesia. Neither of us would witness Owen’s birth. Nate met him 15 minutes later. I met my son 2 hours after his birth.

    thoughts on my son's birth by @janemaynard

    I will never forget every last detail of that day. For nearly a year I would cry just at the slightest thought of those events. Now I just cry once in a while, usually when I least expect it. I always cry on my birthday, though. I can’t help it. I am just so grateful, it’s overwhelming. Grateful to have this greatest-of-all birthday presents in my life, playing with trains and asking me to play the Planes soundtrack yet again.

    thoughts on my son's birth by @janemaynard

    When I was being wheeled from the delivery room to the OR, I was a complete basket case. My anesthesiologist was a saint who talked me through the whole experience, with a calm and loving voice. The thing I was so fixated on was that I would not see Owen born like I had the girls. I couldn’t stop saying that over and over. As I look back it almost makes me laugh. There was so much on the line in those 6 minutes between discovering the problem (prolapse cord) and Owen’s birth. And the only thing I could think about was that I wouldn’t get the happy birth moment I had envisioned and experienced before. I didn’t think once about Owen’s mortality and, honestly, I am so grateful my neurotic brain didn’t go there, that I was protecting myself from those thoughts. I’m even more grateful that everything turned out okay in the end. We were so lucky.

    owen's 3rd birthday and thoughts on motherhood from @janemaynard

    I joke with people that Owen ruined my birthday. Not only did he steal it from me, but he turned it into my #1 PTSD trigger! Seriously, though, I love sharing my birthday with this amazing kid and I know that it is miraculous.

    Life is good. It does not always go as planned. Sometimes it is more than we can bear. But it is always beautiful.

    Happy Birthday, Owen.


  2. Friday, September 11

    Reflections on The Gratitude Challenge

    The Gratitude Challenge is officially over. It came at an interesting time for me…it was the quietest three weeks of our year…no school, no traveling, no classes or sports…just three weeks of me and the girls at home getting our chores done. As a result, a good portion of my gratitude ended up being directed towards my children, and that was a good thing for me (if boring for all of you!). It’s always beneficial to stop and really think about the people I love, especially these little ones who rely on Nate and I for everything. Parenting is a daunting task. Sometimes the gratitude gets lost in the hustle and bustle.

    roasted cereal

    For those of you who have been following along, here’s a quick break down of the weeks.

    Week 1: Be Grateful for What You Have

    Week 2: Be Grateful for Everything Around You

    Week 3: Be Grateful for Who You Are
    I didn’t outline any of the ‘assignments’ from this week on the blog. The tasks included things like standing in front of the mirror for 5 minutes and focusing on five things you love about yourself, performing random acts of kindness throughout the day (be grateful for the power you have to make someone’s day), writing a thank you note to yourself and mailing it, and a few more related tasks.

    This third week was probably the most challenging for me…no matter your self-esteem level, I think it always feels a little strange listing reasons why you yourself are so great. But I think it is a healthy thing for all of us to do. And I did. I’m just not going to share it publicly. 😉

    (PS: I have great news…they are expanding the Gratitude Challenge to everyone! Phase 2 of The Gratitude Challenge will launch on September 21, World Gratitude Day. I’ll share more information as the day gets closer, in case you want to do your own three week challenge!)

    So, for my final “I’m grateful for” moment…you may be wondering what the picture is on this post. The last morning of our camping trip last weekend, the kids at our campsite started roasting cereal on a log. It was just so cute. And made me once again grateful that I get to watch little minds at work each and every day.


  3. Sunday, August 30

    Week 136 Menu…and more gratitude!

    Today for the Gratitude Challenge I’m supposed to take a photo or video of a person, place or thing that makes me feel grateful. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to photograph, and then I realized it was right behind me, chatting and humming away.

    Ever since Cate was a little baby, she has had the biggest imagination and can play {literally} for hours on her own. I love that about her for so many reasons. Here is a video of one of my most favorite sounds.

    Okay, on to the meal planning!

    MONDAY:
    Aaron & Lindsay’s Chicken Tortilla Soup Extravaganza (plus another link to a follow-up post on this recipe)…I didn’t do this last week, we ended up with lots of leftovers throughout the week, and we only ate out once…love those weeks!

    TUESDAY:
    – Tortellini, with maybe pesto…a few of you did something similar last week and that sounds good!
    – Salad and bread of some sort

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Beef stroganoff w/egg noodles
    – Veggie

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY-MONDAY:
    – Camping at Big Sur!

    Please share your menu plan for the week! Since I’m on a gratitude theme, I really am so grateful for your menus. I browse through them every week, so thank you.

    Also, for you camping aficionados out there…any tips or recipes for cooking while camping are most welcome! Nate and I don’t have a great track record and we’ll be camping for three nights! Also, Labor Day ideas I’m sure would be welcome, too!


  4. Thursday, August 27

    Sensing Gratitude

    One of the Gratitude Challenge tasks this week was to focus on the five senses, taking note of the gifts that come to us through each port of entry.

    To stop, at any given moment, and focus on one sense is not something I often do. It really forced me to observe the world differently, to take notice of small things that are beautiful and miraculous in my life. And it made me oh so grateful for each and very sense that I have, allowing me to appreciate what I have now and not take it for granted.

    Sight. Watching my children watching the world.

    Taste. What would I do if I couldn’t taste this?

    Sound. The best part of fireworks is the feel-it-in-your-bones loudness of it all. I literally squealed with delight when I saw these a few weeks ago. They were so loud, in fact, not a soul knew I was squealing. It doesn’t get better than that.

    Smell. The smell of fresh baked cookies. Let’s be honest, the smell of fresh baked ANYTHING.

    Touch. Feeling the weight of this tiny child on my lap, this amazing little person that for some reason I am entrusted with. Knowing the time that she fits on my lap will pass in the blink of an eye, and appreciating it even more for that very reason.


  5. The Gratitude Challenge: Days 7-11

    It’s been a few days since I did a Gratitude Challenge post. Time flies when you’re having fun! I have been doing the assignments each day, which have involved a lot of writing and contemplation. Here’s a quick summary of each day’s assignment so you can join along!

    Day 7: The Gratitude Challenge provided me with a Flip camera (thank you!) and my assignment was to create a video blog post talking about how the challenge has changed my perspective so far. Obviously that post isn’t up yet! Don’t worry, I’ll do it. And, yes, I’m grateful for the camera…even though I have to put a video of myself up here. Maybe I’ll hire an actress…

    Day 8: Send thank you notes to five people who deserve a little recognition.

    Day 9: Enjoy the people around you. Take a moment to appreciate their unique talents, abilities and personalities.

    Day 10: Pick one of your five senses to focus on each day and discover how many gifts come to you via that single port of entry.

    Day 11: Try to see the world through the eyes of a child. Think about the things you take for granted on a daily basis, and express gratitude for the necessities that sustain your life.


  6. Saturday, August 22

    The Gratitude Challenge: Days 4-6

    The Gratitude Challenge is going along swimmingly. Just a quick update on the last few “assignments” in case you want to do any of them yourself!

    Day 4: “In your journal, write a short message of thanks for some of the “negative” things in your life…describe how it’s added something positive.”

    Day 5: Take 5 minutes to write in your journal about the wonderful things you have in your life right now.

    Day 6: “Take a few minutes to call someone you haven’t talked to in a while {whom you appreciate}.”  I called my Grandma. I am so grateful for this strong and elegant woman. I am grateful for her generous heart, for her example of what it is to be truly good, and for her hands that are constantly helping others and reaching out to the ones she loves.


  7. Wednesday, August 19

    The Gratitude Challenge: Days 1-3

    For the next three weeks I’m going to be participating with a great group of bloggers in The Gratitude Challenge. We each received a gratitude kit, with tools and activities aimed at making us more grateful and focused on living in the moment. As part of the Challenge, I’m going to report on some of my experiences here on my blog. I look forward to you sharing your thoughts and joining me on this little journey.

    Years ago I kept a gratitude journal. Each day I would write down 5 things I was grateful for. I’ve long since slacked-off on this habit, but I never stopped believing in the positive influence that journal had on my life. I am really looking forward to the next three weeks…it will be good for me to specifically focus on the things that I’m grateful for once again.

    Day 1 (was Monday): I signed the pledge and have now told you all about it. I’m committed and ready to go!

    Day 2: We are supposed to write in our gratitude journals a list of things we’re grateful for…using the alphabet, A to Z. I thought this would be easy…but some letters were tricky! I actually broke out the dictionary to find words, and found something for each letter. X was the most fun…Xanthan Gum. I really am grateful for that stuff…makes homemade frozen yogurt oh so yummy!  If you’re feeling like getting into a grateful mood, sit down and make your own A to Z list…and share your favorite letters here!

    Day 3: “Write a blog post about something you feel grateful for in your life today.” That’s easy…all day I’ve been feeling unbelievably grateful for my 20-month-old Anna. She toddles around chatting up a storm (her little voice brings me so much joy) and makes us laugh countless times a day. Oh, I just love that girl!