Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to life, back to reality...

I started back to work this evening, so bitter sweet and so conflicting. But I'm not here to talk about that, only to mention it as an excuse for why this will be very brief and possibly incoherent at parts. I want to stay on track and finish out the month strong but I also want to get sleep. Being that it is 12:53 am, my goal is to be sound asleep by 1:30 am. So here goes.

Day 23- Mild Sickness

Thanksgiving night, the night before heading back from Nashville, Tim got sick. I call it a mild sickness because it wasn't lethal but I'm sure he wouldn't call it that. Why am I thankful my sweet husband got very ill? It reminded me how important he is. I depend on him for so many things. When he is out of commission I am at a loss. I was taught this right after Imogen was born and he came down with a mysterious virus but apparently I forgot the lesson quickly. I was reminded that I don't like this life all that much without him fully in it and I am far from super woman when he is not around. It also makes me so thankful for the women out there who do it alone all of the time, or much of the time like my friend Amy Johnson. They are rockstars and I don't hold a candle to them.

Day 24- My Home

I love vacations but I also love coming home. I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with owning my own home. It is a lot of work but there is nothing like coming home after a long drive to the familiar. I love how we've made it our own and used our spaces wisely and meaningfully. I love that we don't treasure it so much that we're afraid to paint words on our walls but that we also respect it enough to invest in major upkeep like our recent siding and gutter replacement. I love that after looking at houses all day back in May of 2008 we finally came to the last house on our list and it was the perfect fit. I hope to use our home even more in the New Year to benefit others, keep you posted on how that plays out.

Day 25- Family & Ancestry

I used to roll my eyes when my mom would try to tell me about my ancestry. Now, as I age and grow my family I am thankful for such an amazing heritage both Tim & I pass on to our children. I love the fact that we are adding to that. I love that I come from a long line of genius women and Jadyn is following right in those foot steps. I love that Tim has musicianship woven throughout his family history and Isaiah seems to have inherited that. I can't wait to see what parts of our lines Imogen manifests. I am thankful for our parents who have researched our family stories and have passed them on to us so we can pass them on to our little ones.

Day 26- Stretch Marks

Just the other day Jadyn was commenting on my stretch marks and I found myself not getting upset but instead telling her about them with pride (this is true). If you know me well you know this is no small feat. I explained to her that they went up to a certain point when I was pregnant with her and then grew a little more with Isaiah and even more with Imogen. (and yes, I tried magical cremes to no avail, it truly is in the genes). I remember the day clearly when I first realized I had stretch marks. Tim had been taking "belly shots" weekly through my pregnancy with Jadyn and it was about 39 weeks and I looked at the picture and yelled "when did those show up!". I had truly thought that I had made it through without stretch marks. Back then I was horrified, but now I'm just proud. And a bonus is that I have a great excuse never to wear a bikini again. The pressure is off.

And Nashville was a blast by the way, hopefully you got to see the pics from Facebook. If not, here are two of my favorite.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Confession Time

So I did not write this post today. I actually had the forethought to write it before we left on our trip knowing full well there was no way that I was going to be able to blog while on vacation and also knowing that I did not want to get too far behind as we finish out this month of Thankfulness. Go ahead, you can be impressed with me. I know I am.

Day 19- Consumerism
Since this is part of confession time, I have to admit I am really thankful for Target, the Mall (any one will do really), and shopping in general. I have a love/hate relationship with spending money that mostly comes from my inner struggles of what constitutes a real need and what is the most responsible way that need can be met. That being said I am a sucker for a great deal (not just a good deal mind you). I even like to window shop and "just look" a lot of the time. And as many other women (and some men I would guess) could attest to, there is something truly cathartic about shopping. I give thanks for the healing it brings during a tough week and for the jobs it provides.

Day 20- Another Stream (remember every 10 days I get to stop being Thankful for the hard things and just let loose)
Jadyn's artwork, Imogen's face when she sleeps, Imogen's face when she laughs, Isaiah's kisses (if you haven't had one you need to try it), backrubs from Tim, oversized hooded sweatshirts(usually Tim's), milkshakes with chunks of candy bars in them, Isaiah singing, a fresh haircut, health of myself, Tim and our children, electricity, freedom, egg nog, a good sitcom or drama on TV, rom-coms, being comfortable enough around someone to say most of what's on my mind, thoughtful and heartfelt gifts, dinners with neighbors, a full calendar, a not-so-full calendar, that I'm old enough to have nephews and nieces, friends who feel like family, our refrigerator magnet collection, clean water, pajamas, time away from home with family...more on the 30th

Day 21- Starbucks
I really should curse them since they end up with more of my money than I'd like. BUT, it does make my heart so happy when I get to drink a salted caramel mocha OR an egg nog latte OR a caramel apple cider OR....OK the list could truly go on and on. I know I shouldn't spend as much of our hard earned cash on such a trifle but I am thankful that I get to, especially during the wintry season when a delicious hot drink can change a day from hopeless to full of possibilities.

Day 22- Grocery Baggers & Checkers
Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm not sure if I just didn't pay attention before or if it is just different here in Georgia but my grocery shopping experiences are often the most pleasant experiences of my week. At the Publix grocery store right next to our house many of the checkers and baggers there know my family and I. They have seen Isaiah grow up and Imogen come into this world and they ask how the kids are doing. They notice when I change my hair color and they always ask if they can help me out to the car. And sometimes I let them. I understand that a lot of that they are required to do for the job, but it doesn't feel that way which means they are very good at what they do. When we first moved here it would drive me crazy how much small talk occured in the check out line but it has slowly become one of my favorite things.

We are having a blast on our trip. Hopefully you've been able to see some of the pics on Facebook. Wishing you all a Thanksgiving that fills your hearts with gladness and your bellies with goodness!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eking It Out

As this month progresses it seems to become harder and harder to do this. This is not because there is nothing to be thankful for but because time has become very precious as we come to the end of my maternity leave. We head to Nashville tomorrow for the break and then I start back to work one week after that. It blows my mind and fills me with a sense of excitement and extreme sadness. So here are a few work related thanks.

Day 15- Evening Shift
I truly am thankful that I work the evening shift at my job. There is a whole lot that I don't like about it but that's not the point of this thankfulness exercise so here are the things I love about it.
-It's not night shift (3:15-11:45p is doable)
-It is my most alert and productive time of day
-There seem to be less politics and I feel I have more autonomy
-The people who work this shift tend to be the younger crowd, they keep me fresh
-I get to be home with my kids during the day when they are young
-A lot of the fun thunder storms happen at this time and we have an amazing "sky light" in our lobby
-I get to put my patients to bed and they look like angels when I'm leaving as they sleep
-Totally against traffic

Day 16- Arrangement
Tim & I have a working arrangement that may not be ideal but I believe is the absolute best for our family at this time. He works during the day at a job he loves, is gifted in and excels at while I stay home with the littlest of our little people. Then we do the "hand off" as we literally have 10 minutes to go over our days and then I pass the parenting torch off to him as I head in to work the evening shift. This is good for us in many ways especially in that we both get a chance to parent our kids 1:1 (or 1:2, 1:3). This set up also opens up our budget since we are not having to pay for childcare and those precious resources can be used elsewhere. Lastly, we both get to do what we feel called to alongside raising our sweet children. And yes, the time we have together just Tim & I is rare but it helps us to cherish it all the more for now and look forward to when that time will be abundant instead of scarce.

Day 17- The Brain
As I was coming towards the end of nursing school I thought I had made a huge mistake. It wasn't that I didn't feel competent doing the job, it's just that I didn't seem to like it all that much. That was until I hit my psychiatric rotation. As I watched a schizophrenic woman do the cha-cha for what was probably the hundredth time that day before she sat down (she was compelled to do it with any change in position) something woke up in my soul. I knew these were my kind of people and I loved them. As I've moved further into the world of mental health I continue to be fascinated with the mind and how mysterious it is. I love that God has made these people so special and that He allows me to see the potential that He sees. It is a privilege to be able to try to help those afflicted with mental illness in their times of crisis and if I can't help to just show them they are loved and cared for.

Day 18- Holiday Traveling
Many people would not have this on their lists of things to be thankful for but I guess I'm not those people. I love holiday traveling first and foremost because I rarely get to do it. When you work in certain fields, nursing being one of them, holidays are just another day to work. It is hard to get time off during the holidays and so, more often than not, we end up just staying close to home. Thanks to the birth of my 3rd being when it was I was able to stretch out my maternity leave to just past Thanksgiving. So of course we are headed out. We are taking a road trip to Nashville with my Mom and brother and sister. My sister is checking out Vanderbilt and we (as in Tim really) have been dying to go to Nashville. I have many a happy memory of family road trips despite all the craziness that went along with most of those trips. I love being able to create those kind of memories in my own family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The First Quad

Up until this post I had been tackling three days at once but things were a little busy around here (and will be from here on out) so I've bumped it up to four. Here goes...

Day 11- Charity

Our church is ALWAYS asking for something and I am truly thankful that they do. I mentioned Northstar briefly in my day one post. Both Tim & I have been a part of and visited a wide array of churches (really great churches and some not so great) and we can honestly say that this church is the most "out reaching" church we have been a part of (if that makes sense). Almost every day they provide opportunities for you to give and serve. It might be time, money, diapers, food, backpacks, lunches for school kids, scarves and hats, baked goods and the list goes on and on. They are always practical things and more often than not benef those right here in our community.

There are many reasons we stay at this church rather than being a part of some of the other really great options in this area but this is the number one reason. The church functions to serve the community rather than itself and that feels right to us.

This last week we finished up our boxes for Operation Christmas Child and also our Thanksgiving dinner bags. We get the kids involved and they love it.

Day 12- Diego & Dora

I confess that I let my children watch more television than I believe to be ideal (especially Isaiah in recent weeks). I won't give my sob story of why I think this is necessary in my life at this point but only tell you that sometimes I need a nap.  So...Dora and Diego entertain my child(ren) while I rest (along with a smattering of other shows including but not limited to My Little Pony, Yo Gabba Gabba, Backyardigans, Wonder Pets, and Dinosaur Train ) I am thankful that since I feel the need to utilize the television that there are these wonderful and educational programs that I can opt for. My kids are constantly telling me about stuff that I know I didn't teach them but they have absorbed from these shows. I could be shamed by this but instead I choose to be grateful.

Day 13- In Laws

Yep, I'm thankful for my In-Laws...all of them. There have been some amazing people that have been added to my life through marriages. This has ranged from my own husbands family (Papa Mike, Nana Ivy & Raymond, Selena and all the extended Villegas and Murillo sides) to brothers and sisters in-law (Adam & Veronica), and even the aunts, uncles and cousins in-law if you can call them that (too many to list). I love the diversity it has added to my life and our families.  I love all the new things I learn from these people. I love how they become family in my heart even more and more as time passes.

Day 14- Being Stretched

Today I am thankful for opportunities that force me to "be stretched". Believe it or not I have a very small "comfort zone" generally speaking. I'm shy even though I try to present as out going. I'm often insecure though I try to present as self-assured. I don't like things that mess up my schedule. I don't like getting out of my pajamas before I'm ready and on and on and on.  But there are times when I go ahead and choose the uncomfortable route and more often than not I'm glad I did.

Tonight I'm thankful that we drove longer than we normally would have on a school night to go to the house of a couple we just met to be a part of a group to discuss intimate issues including family, marriage, God and other such things.

Since the end of our last group that we had been with for 3+ years I have been reluctant to be a part of something like that again. Having to start fresh, to be vulnerable and get to know people again has not sounded appealing to me. But my friend Liz encouraged us to come and I'm really glad she did.
I'd like to think that these times of validation will encourage me in the future to choose the uncomfortable and be stretched. How else can I truly grow?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Third of the Way There

(this title is in homage to my Dad who used to say that to us on every road trip if we ever asked "are we almost there?")

Day 8- Houseplants

When we rented our little home in Altadena, CA one of the things I cherished was having a gardener. I've never had much of a green thumb (that's Tim's specialty). When we bought our home here in GA we decided that we would do the yard, lawn, plant, etc maintenance ourselves to save money. It has been quite the learning curve and I have learned to truly love our outdoors but I think it is still Tim's forte. BUT, the indoors are all mine. Thanks to inspirations from the Botan and Lowes clearance section our house is now it's own mini "garden". It helps the air and it helps my soul. I've had some casualties as I've learned what likes to live in my house and what doesn't but here is a snapshot of what's thriving today.

Day 9- Geek Friends for my Husband

Hopefully this will not be taken the wrong way but I am SO thankful for men in my husbands life that he can just "geek out" with. Geek here is being defined as "A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest". You'll be hearing more about this amazing man in my life in the days to come but today I am thankful for the people in his life that help him obsess on his passions. Some examples of this are music with Marco and Naveen (although they may refer to themselves as music snobs instead of geeks), sports with Scott, technology with Micky, and politics and theology with Lee (though it's been awhile) to name a few. You men make my "geeky" husband happy and that makes me happy.

Day 10- Self-indulgent day

So if you've been following these posts since the beginning of November you know I'm trying to find things every day that I wouldn't normally think of first when "counting my blessings". But I figure every tenth day I can just let loose. So here goes

Tim (duh), Jadyn, Isaiah, Imogen, my parents and siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and all other family, friends that are like family, making new friends, sunshine, fall smells and colors and tastes, naps, music but especially with a good drum beat or handclap, a good cry, a shower all by myself that is uninterrupted, my sofa, salted caramel mochas, my yellow front door, vacations, the new unplugged venue at church, ice cream, pictures, connecting with people, letters in the mail and packages, my job, my education, books, pancakes, my baby's new laugh, other cultures, our map of the world, fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, crisp mornings, an open field, chicken biscuits from Mountain Biscuit, camping, our cars, scripture, gourds of all colors, the artwork in my home, back rubs, health (mental and physical), pants that fit just right, incredible wealth, people I want to end up like (Miss Tricia), my phone, household conveniences like my washer and dryer and dishwasher, the wildlife in our backyard, routine, serving others with my family, the crazy things my kids say, really liking the person I'm married to, where I live, where I've come from.

OK, I better stop there so there will be more for days 20 and 30 but how's that for stream of consciousness. I just had to get it out of my system.

And I leave you with an update of our thankfulness tree.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Unexpected, Diversity & Storms

Day 5- Unexpected Major Life Changes
I wrote a few blog posts ago here about how Imogen came to be a part of our family.
Often when I would casually mention to people that the pregnancy was an unexpected one they would launch into their own stories of unexpected children and how they were the "biggest blessing".  I would listen graciously and then turn away and roll my eyes because of course that's what people have to tell you when you're lamenting to them about the seeming wrench in what you thought was your life plan. BUT I have to concede, despite how cliche they all sounded (and I now sound), that they were right. I am SO thankful for this little girl.
I prayed hard before she joined our family that God knew what He was doing because I was sure that He did not. Even this early on in Imogen's life God is showing me that He does know what He's doing and what a gift He has given me in her. For example. she gives me this face not only once a day but hundreds of times a day and has been since day two.
Seriously, can you stand it???

(I am not exaggerating, she has been "real smiling" since her first week of life. By the third child you can tell a real smile from those gas smiles.) She sleeps like a dream for us and looks like an angel while doing it. She is goofy and fun and beautiful with her wild hair and grey eyes (for now).
My heart is over full with aching love once again and so I give thanks that the unexpected is possible despite my Type A personality planning and attempts at total control over this life of mine.

Day 6- Diversity In The People In My Life
Be it friends, co-workers, family or just people I run into frequently I appreciate and give thanks for the diversity. There is diversity of thought, background, ideas and ways of living. If I had my way I would be surrounded by people who looked at life like I did and lived like I did but how would I learn, grow or be stretched without different kinds of people around me to inspire me, challenge the way I think or just give me a different perspective. It is often hard for me to give thanks and appreciate this, but today especially (election day) I choose to give thanks for the differences.

Day 7- Storms
I am not talking about metaphorical "storms in our lives" and definitely not about "super storms". Hurricane Sandy has just ravaged the east coast like many other hurricanes have done to other areas before it. These storms I do not give thanks for.
I am talking about storms like the beautiful rainstorm we had today with the sudden downpours and smatterings of thunder and lightening. I am like a giddy little school girl when we have rain, thunder and lightening (or even a little hail). I tend to squeal a bit (ask my co-workers). Perhaps it comes from a life lived in southern California where thunder and lightening are akin to unicorns, practically mythical creatures. I just love the raw power of a mild storm and how it generally refreshes things, helps keep things growing and sends a little thrill throughout me. It's been a little over four years now and that thrill hasn't worn off and I'm hoping it never does.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Aging, Distance & the Interweb

Day 2: Aging
When I was studying the older adult population in nursing school they had us participate in a mental exercise that almost sent me into a full blown panic attack. The instructor told us to close our eyes and imagine ourselves at age 30, 40, 50 and so on. I think I barely made it to 40 before I began hyperventilating. I just could not wrap my brain around the idea of being older than my parents (at the time). Now I am less than a decade away from 40 and it's not at all how I pictured it. I still fear much that comes with getting older but am so very thankful for the place I have come to in my life so far. Examples?
-I am now one of the more experienced nurses at my place of work instead of the one the doctors confuse the adolescent patients with
-I worry less about making every person happy (because I've learned no matter what I do I can't)
-I am more forgiving toward myself (never before would I have allowed a picture of myself without make-up, sticking out my tongue and showcasing all my wrinkles to be front and center on my personal website)
-I feel more at peace in general
-I have been able to keep and cultivate the things that matter and let go of the things that don't (always a work in progress)
-I still learn new things but now they are the things I want to learn about instead of the things I have to learn about
-I look forward to what the next decade will bring and then the one after that and so on (no more hyperventilation)

Day 3: Distance
Our move to Georgia rocked my world and still does. We moved away from almost every person that was dear to me, that I relied on, and that I needed. After 4 plus years it is still one of the hardest things but here are some examples of things I am thankful for with the distance.
-my best friend Erin & I get to have Skype dates frequently. Hours of conversation, generally with a glass of wine in hand. They are honest and real and essential to my survival
-we carve out a few weeks each summer to "go home" for vacation and spend some concentrated time with our loved ones
-family takes vacations to see us and spend concentrated time with us. This was most recently my sister Tiffany, her husband Adam and my nephew Caleb (and that was Adam & Tiff's third time out to Georgia!)
-it has forced us to be more intentional in our relationships (not take them for granted) and has revealed the ones that matter most and will last despite the distance

Day 4: the Interweb
How else could I video conference with friends and family, check facebook to see what EVERYONE is up to, look up anything I want on Wikipedia, get inspired by other blogs, websites, Pinterest, check the weather and read news from sources all around the world. That's obviously just a smattering of things I do on the internet. Sure, there is a lot of bad that has come from the rise of the internet but for me the good has outweighed it and I would be lost without the world wide web.
Here are a few links to some sites you might want to check out that I like to look at frequently (aside from the blogroll on our front page).
Relevant Magazine  entertainment pieces, thought pieces, theology pieces...good reads
Acts  World Vision's activism page
100 Days of Real Food good whole foods recipes

PS- the thankfulness tree is already starting to look amazing

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Not something I like to do in general. In this case though, I have a feeling it's going to be a good decision. Thanks to a few facebook buddies (Kelly Mellen in particular) I was challenged to participate in 30 Days of Thankfulness.

Last month I discovered a gem of a book and blog called This Ordinary Adventure written by the Jeskes which I highly recommend. I was needing some inspiration in a bad way and got it in droves. They have a thing called "Amazing Days" and challenged people for the month of October to live out 31 Amazing Days. You'll have to read for yourself but their definition of "amazing" is very loose. They basically encourage you not to try to be "amazing" but to recognize the "amazing" in each day. I jumped on that bandwagon a little late in the month but this exercise will be a natural extension of that way of thinking and living.

My challenge to myself this month is to recognize something each day that I wouldn't initially say I'm thankful for but in reality I truly am (see more below).

My challenge for our family was to name something we are thankful for each day and write it down. We created our own version of a thankfulness tree and started it tonight from branches in our backyard and leaves cut out from construction paper. (Our pumpkins are still alive and well as you can see but Tim has some pumpkin chunkin plans for tomorrow.)
A little bare now but will look amazing by the end of the month

On our leaves tonight you ask???
Tim: that mommy (that's me) is home (for now)
Briahnna: a heater that works in 30 degree weather (this SoCal girl likes to be cozy in the mornings)
Jadyn: a delicious dinner (I cooked so that made me happy because we all know Tim is the chef)
Isaiah: that hurricane Sandy wasn't as bad as it could have been (he didn't come up with that on his own, his sister gave him the idea)

I won't be posting every day, but frequently I hope. And they won't be as long as this one (you can breathe a sigh of relief) or necessarily written beautifully or even grammatically correct for that matter. But I hope to finish out the month with an understanding of just how good life is and share it with you. So here goes.

Day One: I am thankful that I live in Georgia. If you know me you know this is often a hard thing for me to say and to really mean. So why am I thankful to live in Georgia?
~Because we are able to own an amazing home with amazing neighbors like the Jayasekars and the Newlands.
~Because we get to have jobs doing things we are passionate about and feel called to AND work with incredible people (too numerous to list but you at Kincaid and Ridgeview know who you are). ~Because our kids can be in class sizes under 30 students (for now).
~Because there are actual seasons, Fall is my favorite.
~Because we found a church Northstar that is the most giving church we have ever been a part of and through our time there have met our substitute family in people like the Furrs, Kaisers, Nelsons, Kibbes, Torberts, Fishers, and Kehlers.
~Because I met my MNO buddies Carrie and Emily (also GA transplants)
~Because I get to live closer to my Mom and Avalon and Gabriel than I can ever remember being

I know there are probably many other reasons but it's almost midnight and my brain is getting foggy so I'll end this here and hope that as others have inspired me this will inspire you (if even just for this moment) to take stock and be thankful.