Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Thirty

Well, it is fitting that my Thirty Days of Thanksgiving happened to end on the actual holiday.  I did hope to be able to do this little assignment in October, completely, but I like how it turned out this way.  I've enjoyed the exercise to find something every day to be thankful for.  I was a bit ashamed, though, at how difficult it was some days to figure out something unique to post about.  Am I really that ungrateful?  I don't know, but I do know I have room to grow in my character and what I choose to focus my thoughts on.

Today I am thankful for so much.  Topping the list, of course, is my family that I get to spend time with.  I am grateful to have a family, to have incredible parents, a loving husband, and two amazing children.  We have material blessings, educations, countless opportunities to learn and follow our passions.  

I think it is fitting to end my 30 day series with this quote that I have on my kitchen window to remind me how to change my perspective and choose what to focus on.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Contemplate beauty in the world around you, and you yourself will become beautiful. -- J. Donald Walters 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-nine

I am thankful to have had the chance to work outside in the sunshine this afternoon.  We don't get very many sunny days this time of year, and lately my luck has been that I have had other obligations during the sunniest times.  I just did some tidying up in the front, but I took a few moments to rest in the middle of my work and walk around with the camera.  I like to record what is happening throughout the seasons.  When I am old and grey, if we still live in this house, my vision is to have a record of the years as they have passed.  

This garden was an untended blank yard with a few trees and scraggly bushes when we moved in.  During the past 5 1/2 years that we have lived here, I have been working in fits and starts to make it beautiful and fitting to my personality.  This is the first time I have had a place that was all my own to work on.  It is overwhelming at times, especially when you throw kids into the mix.  But I am reminded whenever I take the time to work on the garden, how much I enjoy it and how fulfilling the labors are.  

Following are some of the photos I captured today.  The light was golden at the end of the afternoon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-eight

I love to see my guys having guy time together.  Today, Aaron took Gabriel along for choir practice, and when it turned out it was canceled, they had a morning of exploring parts of the city.  They saw the troll under the Fremont Bridge, touched the vintage equipment at Gasworks Park, and had lunch out.  They got to talk about their favorite things together.  Gabriel loves spending time with his Daddy, and I am grateful that Aaron will take the time to bond and create memories with our little guy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-seven

I am thankful for the spirituality of young children.  

Last Sunday, Gabriel wanted to take my giant study Bible with him to church, and was upset that I wouldn't let him.  So I pulled out one of our extra generic Bibles to give to him.  I was going to get him something like that for Christmas, but since it was so important to him, I decided to let him have one now.  He reads it by himself every day.  We haven't told him to do this; he figured it out on his own.  He underlines passages and puts notes in the margins, just like he sees us doing in our Bibles.  I showed him a few parts he might be interested in, or that would be easier reading (he was reading in Kings or Chronicles or Numbers or some difficult section), but otherwise he has been taking this project up on his own.

Today we brought one of his friends home with us from school until his mom could get here, since she was running late.  They walked behind me a few steps, and I could hear their conversation.  Gabriel was telling J that he was incorrect about a Bible verse J had told him about a week or two ago.  Gabriel told him how it was really supposed to go.  I think the subtleties were lost on J, but then they were moving on to compare the sizes and coolness of their Bibles they each had.  These kids go to a public school, so I think it's neat that they talk about their spiritual life with each other on their own, as un-selfconscious as if they were talking about toys or tv shows.  

Then, this evening, Gabriel finished his homework and got some paper out.  I thought he was drawing or simply procrastinating about going to bed, but he was working on writing a "scroll" for himself.  It said something like "Rule 1: Obey God." and "The Golden Rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated."  I am paraphrasing here, since he's got the scroll in bed with him tonight.  He rolled it up and put paper clips on the edges to keep it in a cylinder shape.  

How did my son get to be so spiritual?  We don't even do all the things we "should" be doing to train him in the way we would like him to go.  He asks tons of questions, though, and we've had so many deep discussions about all kinds of topics, ever since he could put sentences together.  How does he effortlessly weave his spiritual thoughts and conversations into his life, friendships, and artwork?  I am humbled and a little afraid of the responsibility we have as parents to shepherd this little guy to adulthood, with the best foundation for his life.  It seems a lot simpler to teach basic manners than spiritual depth, and it is easy to let the God-focus slip for weeks at a time in the busyness of daily life.  I hope and pray that Gabriel will keep his thirst for knowledge, and not grow too cynical as he ages.  And I wonder, as I have since he was conceived, what he is going to be like when he grows up.....  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catching Up

I haven't felt much like writing here lately.  I've been writing in my journal, writing about my morning devotionals, writing about my therapy sessions, and writing to try to get a freelancing career going.  It seems I don't have much left for writing here.  Now I'm feeling kind of guilty. I haven't kept up on my 30 days of Thanksgiving at all.  It is going to be the actual holiday soon!  

Here are some photos from the past few weeks:

We went to the aquarium one day. Annika's favorite part was the octopus.
Here she is climbing on the beautiful sea otter carving:

I've done some baking.  Annika loves to help.  She gets up to her elbows in flour.

We tried a new recipe for us out of Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread book.  It uses sorghum flour as the base.  It turned out pretty good:

I taught Gabriel how to use the index in his new Usborne children's atlas, and he loves to look up places now: countries, continents, states or cities.
 I couldn't figure out how to explain looking up names in alphabetical order, but he has a lot of persistence and can usually find what he wants.

Gabriel also has been imitating experiments he has been doing in school. You can't see very well, but he is wearing his white science coat from his dress-up box. He did some sink-float experiments in various iterations. He tried toys, craft items, and spices from the cupboard.
He even cleaned up (most) of his mess without me asking him. He took a bunch of photos, and stuck with it for quite awhile. So cool!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-six

Today while I was at the store, I ran into a lady who had come one or two of my hikes last summer.  I lead hikes for a local parks department.  Most of the hikes are for women, and I strive to make the atmosphere calming and relaxing.  I give the gals time to meditate, and encourage everyone to notice the natural world we are surrounded by.  Anyway, my former client had high praises for my program, and told me how much she appreciated my leadership style and the way the trips went.  She felt comfortable and safe on my trip, while she hadn't felt the same on another trip with different people.  

It was truly gratifying to know that my hard work and planning paid off.  I had a vision for what I wanted to do with these hikes, but I didn't know if I could pull it off.  It is neat to see that I was able to make a positive impact in someone's life.  It feels like there are so few times I am able to translate my idealistic ideas into a practical plan.  I look forward to refining my program next year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost Tooth

Yesterday I promised you a picture of Gabriel's missing tooth.  Here it is!

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-five

I am thankful this evening because I got out of the house for a bit to write.  I got the kids to bed after dinner and left them at home with hubby, and went to a coffee shop for some mint tea.  I put my headphones in so I couldn't hear all the juicy, gossipy conversations happening around me.  I neglected my email, refused to surf the web, and was able to focus for a whole hour on analyzing a magazine and brainstorming about my writing.  It was awesome!  I feel invigorated and hopeful.  I have more clarity and perspective about what I want to do next. Nevermind all the chores I left undone this evening; they'll still be waiting for me tomorrow.  Now, when is the next time I can get away.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-four

I am thankful, in a bittersweet way, for being able to watch two special children grow up.  Today Gabriel lost his first tooth.  He's been working at it for awhile.  Yesterday morning he tried to open the toothpaste with his two bottom front teeth (which were both loose), and really loosened one of them.  It bled some, and hurt, and he cried and had a hard time eating throughout the day.  He is a sensitive, emotional little guy.  We tried to tell him that the only way it was going to get better was if it came out, but he was scared.  I remember those times as a child, really wanting that tooth out, but being too afraid to yank it.

Well, today after lunch, he realized his tooth was gone.  It was nowhere to be found.  We are pretty certain that it came out in his food and went down the hatch.  He was upset that he wouldn't be able to leave it for the tooth fairy and get money (how do kids learn these stories??) but Grandma gave him the idea to draw a picture of his tooth and leave it under his pillow.  The tooth fairy snuck in at some point this evening and left a gold coin for Gabriel.  Oh my, was he entranced and impressed.  He declared that he was not going to spend it ever, and it was going to go into his box of special things.  This black box with silver trimmings has a combination lock on it, and is one of his most treasured possessions.  

He confided in me this evening as we were discussing the several "accidents" he had tonight, that it is hard growing up.  I told him I understood; it is hard to have to take more responsibility, to watch your body change and feel out of control about it.  I wanted to cry myself when he said that to me.  I am learning that watching our children grow and enter new phases is one of those heartbreaking yet completely necessary tasks of motherhood.  Gabriel has changed so much since he entered first grade a few short months ago.  I almost feel like this phase rivals the babyhood phase in terms of growth spurts and rapid changes.  I wish I knew more how to deal with it, and I pray I have enough love and wisdom to shepherd him along without exasperating him.

I'll try to post pics tomorrow.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-three

Well, I try to avoid politics as a rule, beyond voting.  But today how can I avoid posting about witnessing a great moment in our country's history?  I dropped my ballot off at the library and got my "I voted" sticker.  (I do miss voting at polls, though the convenience of mail-in ballots is nice.)  I listened to the radio all day, and could hardly wait until 4pm when the polls in the eastern states closed, meaning the first results could start trickling in.  I listened all evening as I cooked dinner and washed dishes.  Then I watched the national tv channels to see the maps in person and watch Obama's victory speech.  I let Gabriel stay up late to see it, and tried to explain to him how historic this night is.  I told him that when he has kids in school, they'll read about this night in their history books.  He really couldn't comprehend what I was talking about, but it was good to open up discussions of the electoral college, the history and legacy of slavery, and the amazing ways our country has changed.  I hope we'll be able to talk more about these topics in the future, and that I will be up to the task of teaching him.  It's hard to explain these complex topics to a six-year old, I admit.  

For the first time in awhile I feel hopeful about the direction our country is headed.  I am thankful I live in a place where I get to vote and have the freedom to live the kind of life I want to live.  I haven't been this excited about an election in many years.  I think I'll go write in my journal now....     

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-two

All day I had been planning to write about the bald eagle I saw this afternoon near Green Lake.  It appeared huge as it circled low over the houses and cars in the city.  It is still a thrill to see bald eagles, even though they are fairly common around here.  The feeling has stuck with me all day.

But I just had to focus on a few moments that I spent with my son this evening.  I was tucking him in to bed, and sat down with him to chat and reconnect.  I asked him about his first loose tooth.  We expect it to come out in the next day or two.  He said he is excited but a little nervous.  He also told me that Annika has been really shy in church.  She doesn't want to sing when they practice the songs they will be performing for the Christmas service.  She finds an adult to hide near, and sucks her thumb.  I suggested we might pray for her shyness, and asked if there was anything I could pray for for him.  He said he'd like to play a sport like basketball or gymnastics, so he could become good enough to win a medal at the Olympics when he is older.  He wouldn't care if it is gold or bronze, because he is really into minerals.  

It was interesting for me to hear what was on his mind.  He has not expressed much interest in learning sports, with the exception of taking Taikwando with his friend form school so he can kick and punch.  I was grateful I took the time to talk and to ask him questions.  He has always been strong in verbal communication, but I have found since he started going full time to school this fall, I have not had very much time with him to learn these sorts of things.  I was grateful I sat with him long enough to talk a bit and get a window into his life.  He's such a cool kid, and I hope we can stay close even as things get tougher in the pre-teen and teenage years.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-one

We had a lot of fun yesterday for Halloween.  Gabriel was really into it this year.  Annika had no clue what Halloween was about, but she quickly understood it involved candy, and was gung-ho.  We were supposed to meet some friends in downtown Edmonds, where the city closes off the streets and kids get candy from the shops.  We never found our friends, and we only lasted for about a half an hour in the crowds.  It just wasn't that fun for me, having to stand in line at each door to get a piece of candy.  But it was funny watching Annika.  She dug into her candy immediately, and was eating it through the wrapper before we even noticed.  This kid has a major sweet tooth!  She was sneaky, too.  

Gabriel was a dinosaur this year.  He wanted to be a dragon, but when I showed him a few costumes we could order online, he chose the dinosaur from Magic Cabin, which I actually liked the best, too.  He'll be able to wear it for many years, and it is not a toddler costume like many of them were.  Annika picked the giraffe costume from our stash.  

It had rained all day, but by 5pm the sun was out and it was mild and pleasant outside.  After we finished in Edmonds, we came home and anxiously waited for it to get dark enough to go knock on some neighbors' doors.  Then I had the kids trade in half of their Halloween candy to me for some art supplies that I had bought instead.  I want them to be able to enjoy the holiday and have fun being a kid and eating candy, but not to go overboard.  This is the second year I've done the trade thing with Gabriel, and last year he didn't even finish all of the candy he kept.  He was just as excited to get new art supplies as he was to get candy.  But he had a hard time letting go of his sweets when it came down to it.  I had to help him through the process.  He wanted so badly to hang onto his sugary loot.  He loves his new art stuff, though, and has been busy creating since he made the trade.  

It is cool as a parent to have these fun family times together, and to create memories and traditions for our kids.