Sunday, January 30, 2011

our snow dog, very content in winter

Some animals survive best in certain geographical animal habitat environments. Perhaps though, some become most comfortable during certain seasons over others, just like our husky appears to be much more comfortable during winter.

During winter, we are known to live in the nicknamed "snow belt" country of our area. It's within this time frame each year when our husky dog (Sh'nook) becomes re-energized, and completely filled with wellness over the cold and snowy winter season. 


In fact, after each new snowfall, she becomes incredibly enthusiastic and so eager to get outdoors for some frolic and play, jumping and bouncing up and down in the snow to her hearts content. She's so fun to watch as she loves to snowplow right through the depths of snow, nose down to the ground, senses keen and reeling with her entire head often entirely disappearing from the human eye. 

She loves her little "dogloo" house, so similar to an igloo that when we brought it home from a seller on Craigslist in the fall, for it was then she marked it as her own, rarely allowing our golden lab dog inside. 

There is such an amazing and most noticeable transformation from summer to winter for this furry ball doggie friend, for it is here in winter that her sweet loving personality really shines through.  

In summer she wilts with the warmth of the summer sun's heat and becomes very lathargic. 

In winter, she's most content outdoors, the colder the weather the better.

She's such a nice dog, so tranquil and not at all intimidating in the least. She loves human affection, being brushed, her daily walk on the treadmill, and being around other animals, with the exception of small animals, birds and rodents, then instinct kicks in and they are in danger of being her evening dinner. 

This is the nature of this dog though, so rather than allow her to run away and be gone forever, living off such things, we keep her close and exercise her well. She could run for days without food consumption, and we'd never see her again. Fortunately the few times she has run away, she's been returned to us thankfully from her dog tags with our telephone number visible to anyone caring to take a look.

Enjoying her immensely these days, may I present to you a pictorial on our "winter dog" at play.

**Incidentally, I'm not a fan of this new google formating  at all! It has completely removed my own formated html template, changing fonts, colors and photos just don't remain centered. 

Any hints or tips out there are most welcomed... 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ushering in a new year

New Year's Eve - 2010
As is tradition for our family for many years now, we like to dress up and make dinner reservations at a Chinese buffet dinner on New Year's Eve. 

It's a long standing tradition for us, one we can't imagine not doing on such an occasion. When we had wee babies at home and getting out as a family was too much of a hassle, we opted instead to bring in take out to our own dining table. And, we always played games until midnight arrived and we crossed over the threshold and into a brand new year.

The past few years we have made reservations at the same venue, and this year was no exception. I thought of my parents who have been with us the past two years, thinking how much they'd enjoy this night again and the fabulous dinner buffet they had so enjoyed. smiling...

As is also tradition, we had several cameras and cell phones in tow, so a few pictures were snapped of us as a family. I love these photos, such a rare opportunity to be all together, in one spot anymore.

This year, a few friends were invited along and all took up our offer to dress up a bit for dinner. The one on the left was a family friend staying with us for a few days, happy to have him here on his break from university.

The boys weren't sure at first and then each told of how they owned ties and great shirts to get the fancy style of the night. All looked mighty fine in their shirts and ties.

The girls (missing one in the photo above) has also fretted immensely over hair straightening, selecting just the right outfits, and were also looking very pretty.

Off we went in separate vehicles, all meeting in the restaurant lobby until such a time as they called our family to be seated. It usually averages 20-30 minutes this night to be called, so there was time for chatting and sardine-like bonding beforehand.
These friends were also invited back to join us in a few rounds of pool, wii games and the countdown via Dick Clark in Times Square. 

What a great bunch to celebrate and usher in a new year with, good sports with wearing hats and blowing horns at midnight. 

And it was a pleasure to have my hubby still awake to chime in a new year with us, having had a very long nap in the afternoon.
Our entire neighborhood seemed to be out enmasse too this year, such a bunch of noise out there for a while, evidence of others welcoming another brand new year into our lives. 

Prayer for a New Year

God grant us this year a wider view,
So we see others' faults through the eyes of You.
Teach us to judge not with hasty tongue,
Neither the adult ... nor the young.

Give us patience and grace to endure

And a stronger faith so we feel secure.
Instead of remembering, help us forget
The irritations that caused us to fret.

Freely forgiving for some offense

And finding each day a rich recompense.
In offering a friendly, helping hand
And trying in all ways to understand;

That all of us whoever we are ...

Are trying to reach an unreachable star.
For the great and small ... the good and bad,
The young and old ... the sad and glad

Are asking today; Is life worth living?

The answer is only in, loving and giving.
For only Love can make man kind
And Kindness of Heart brings Peace of Mind.

By giving love, we can start this year

To lift the clouds of hate and fear.
~ Helen Steiner Rice

a christmastime birthday

As I've shared with you before, and for those who already know me, yes my actual birthday is on Christmas day. 

I spent many years teasing my husband over how he was one lucky man;
  • His wife had a birthday he "could never" forget. 
  • He never had to take me out for my birthday, and family was always around to celebrate the day with us. 
  • Dinner was always in the oven.
  • For many years, a homemade birthday cake was made to sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus" or my mother provided.
  • He only had to shop once each year for both birthday and Christmas.
Yep, I have one lucky husband! :)

Until such a time as we had to move east, if my mother didn't think (inquiring ahead very discreetly) to ensure a birthday cake for me otherwise, it was the last thing anyone remembered during this busy season. 

Fast forward ahead to now, and even though it's already been over a month since my birthday, I wanted to share with you something new that actually happened in our home. (grinning)

As our children began in late fall to drop little hints for gift ideas, I finally (overdue I suppose), mentioned there was one thing I'd love myself. I hoped to get another "betta fish" because I missed having one around in this home...snickering here, and perhaps if it wasn't too much of a hassle, I would love to have a homemade birthday cake. 

Truth be known, everyone thought I was just jesting in my usual style, so I wasn't holding my breath on either, but we ended up having a good laugh anyhow over my out of the box thinking. 

I mean, who in their right mind makes a birthday cake on Christmas day when the turkey is taking up the oven anyway? Right?

Funny thing though...

Surprisingly, they actually took it all to heart and did do just that! Right in the middle of the afternoon, truth be known, the turkey had to be removed for a time to allow the cake to bake, and then the bird was placed back inside to cook some more while the cake cooled. Such an amazing bunch I have!

For the very first time in my life, I was ushered by my family in the middle of our Christmas day afternoon, sent to my bedroom and told to stay there for a while. 

With a fresh cup of coffee offering in hand, I obliged and it was understood the door wasn't even to be cracked open for any reason at all.

Oh how they all thought they were so funny by placing SO MANY candles on my cake!
As they all sang to me, I thought;
"Happy Birthday to you too Jesus. It's such an honor to share your birthday with you."

They even lit every single one of them! 

Where's the fire folks? Holy cow, those were way too many candles!

After I summoned up the lung power to blow them all out, smoke was rising everywhere! Our younger daughter had to cover her eyes, and for sure we thought the smoke detectors would sound their blaring noisy tunes. Automatically I began waving my hands everywhere. And laughing...

Just as I thought to grab the knife and begin the ceremonial cake cutting, just like magic, one of the candles re-lit its flame again, sending all of us into great big fits of astonished laughter. Fingers began pointing towards it in disbelief, and giggles ensued for quite some time. 

Unbelievable! Now THAT was funny!

See! I told you there were MANY candles on this cake! It's sort of holey now...LOL

Throughout the day, the evening and days ahead, little surprise blessings continued to arrive in my mail box, even after my little birthday party celebration. 

Blessings from our grandchildren, and a few more from family sent my heart spiraling into emotional bliss. 

Thank you to my family for a great gift, one which obviously offered me immense pleasure and for the oodles of birthday memories to treasure. It was THE BEST tasting chocolate cake ever because I know it was made with your loving hands and by caring hearts.

I am so grateful for all my loved ones. 

How blessed I am! 

How blessed I truly am!

The funny above *someone* gifted me with, wow, it sure did offer the rip roaring and hearty belly laugh they guaranteed. 

Go ahead, have a chuckle, by taking a wee moment and watch this very short video clip below. :)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Hospitality 101 - with tea and chocolate

* I edited this blog post a wee bit. Sorry I pressed draft again and had this unexpectedly appear as another new post to clog up your readers.   ~ Renee

Thanks to a good friend, I placed the book below on my newest wish list with my very friendly library lady.

Since I had a nice little list of delicious book delights all written out, I knew many of them were newer printed editions and not yet likely even within the library system, but I thought to try. 

My lovely library lady, actually there are three of them now who know and call me by name (so terrific!), keep my wish lists rolling, working in earnst to find me my requested books. They've even started to hold specific books behind the counter for me, those they think I might like to preview. 

I love my library ladies! One called this week, announcing a book from my wish list was being held for me. Yay! And what a book it promised to be!

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  
~ Hebrews 13:2
I've always maintained the belief that if we were supposed to be more Mary and less Martha, we should easily be able to open our homes to anyone suddenly appearing there, perhaps additionally offering a cup of tea and a little visit before they had to depart. 

Through my married years, it wasn't always easy for me to do this, especially in between babies and a husband on shift work who often had to sleep during the day. 

Over time, through trial and error, I was able to adopt two mottos I knew I wanted to live by; "People matter more than things" and have truly benefited from the motto of "practice makes perfect". Oh sure, there have been some pretty embarrassing times for me to offer hospitality at a second's notice, like the time I was elbow deep in making pumpkin pies, literally barefoot with my most worn blue jeans, flour on my face, messy hair, kitchen upside down, and the doorbell sounded. It was a priest friend, in the area he said, hoping I wouldn't mind him stopping by for a cup of tea. Ha! 

If there was one moment when I wanted to crawl under a rock, that would have been it! Instead, I decided this man was always told he was welcomed in our home, so when he stood before me, I had two choices; send him away until a better time, or just excuse the scene and tell him though I was busy working getting the pies complete, he was so welcome to come on in and join the party. 

Guess what he chose to do? 

Yes! He entered, with a half smirk on his face, following my lead into the kitchen (probably laughing behind my back no doubt), sitting across from me at the table as the kettle boiled and I (still mortified by my appearance) kept on rolling out more dough for pies. Within minutes he moved closer and was now sitting on a bar stool immediately across from the countertop I was working on, offering me great company to my day, while chatting with the children running around us. When the pies were complete, we had a great visit. My pride was all but squashed as I realized what a fool I would have been to turn him away from this scene. At least that's how I felt. And oh, so humbled...

While he sipped on his tea, I offered him a piece of pie fresh from the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. Thanking me when leaving, I was surprised when he not only thanked me for the tea, but he also began thanking me for being "real", and for a great visit because I made him feel right at home. I hope that was a good thing, because we snickered quite a bit over it. And then, I handed him a pie to take home.

If we truly hope to be a good folk and try to perfect ourselves into living our lives as though "people matter more than things", then (as tough as the moment might be at the time) who cares if the house is messy and life isn't perfect for opening that door!

Our homemade dark and white chocolate with candy cane brittle.

Wanting to become better in this area of my life, early in my married years, I developed a method of trying to maintain a habit in the evening before retiring to double-check the clutter about the house, wiping counters in the kitchen again if necessary, just a general tidy up. Coats and shoes away, pillows back on couches, lego in their drawers, piano music in it's wicker box, powder bathroom sink clean and room tidy, that type of thing. It wasn't a big time waster, maybe between a super quick 10-15 minutes overview and declutter. 

I still do this, every night. I confess that it allows me to head to bed knowing no matter what happens by early morning, I am able to begin a new day with a clean slate. By morning, I'm always very sure to begin my day by opening up all the curtains and shades in the main living areas, ensuring some bright and cheery, rather than gloomy darkness, all ready to make my day an even greater possibility! Then, if the doorbell sounds, (hopefully not in the middle of a math lesson), then it's no big deal.

Here's a helpful hint I have offered to anyone who asks me about this; 

Take a step outside of your front door. And then open it up, as if YOU are the visitor to your home. What are the hot spots you see upon entering?

Mine used to be living room on the left, lovely staircase straight forward after the entryway, a small hallway and powder bathroom to my right, and then farther in the distance through the living room, I could see (you got it!) my kitchen sink area in the kitchen.

I decided to make an extra effort to tidy up the living room at night, the kitchen sink area (at least), the hallway (coats/shoes) and the bathroom. If all else failed, and the rest of the house was a little bit embarrassing to show to anyone, well then, at least I had a parlor to sit, a bathroom for a guest to use to freshen up before departing, and there was no hiding part of my kitchen. It was a great escape idea to close the pocket door to hide this particular room more when occasions were tempted to warrant it, but then the beveled glass on the door wasn't any help to me. It was a definite telltale to what lay beyond it when able to see through the glass.

More tips;
  • always have water in you kettle 
  • an assortment of teas 
  • some coffee to brew 
  • ice water with a slice of lemon or lime to serve if someone doesn't like the above
  • and a smile and hug to offer.
Nothing at all would be absolutely necessary, not at all except for your own "in the moment" companionship, however these things are what I want around for my own company's arrival. Actually, true confessions here; when I married I never knew "HOW" to make tea or coffee because I never drank it myself. It was a learning curve for me, eventually trying to figure out how to perform these little things to help me fortify my hope for attaining better hospitality.

Back to the list above; anything else over above basic pantry items, things such as; juice, cookies, a meal, or whatever, is NOT a must, overall though just keep it simple and you'll be able to remain calm and attentive to your guests.

Background music is always good for any occasion though. Mine is usually on...

Even in our most hectic paces of life, everyone always loves to sit for a moment and catch their breath. We do. So, if I happen to have a visitor arrive unannounced, I try to turn it around and consider that to be a blessing and not a curse. I work at this area in my life so I'm able to see "Jesus" in every visitor, not turning them away with an excuse of being "busy", "house is a mess", "don't have time", and whatever else I can offer instead. 

Worse yet, NOT answering the door to someone who may brighten our day and/or allow us a moment of grace could be summoned up as a "missed opportunity", either for us, or someone else.

Perhaps we are to become that "someone" who is able to offer the reverse with grace to them instead, showing some heart to the weary, hope to the downtrodden, and joy to the sad folk having a bad day. Maybe they only came to call to distract their mindset, hoping to return home refreshed from a wee chat, and, they were possibly, even if unintentionally, refused a little grace moment. Sad to think we may be oblivious to angels unaware in our midst...

I have learned through the years the importance of becoming more hospitable. There are times of course as a homeschooling mother when I truly don't have time to sit, knowing I'll lose my childrens' attention during the thick of a lesson. Those who know me well have always been cordial to allow their visit to wait if possible until after lunch or beyond before offering an unexpected arrival. Usually then, it's the case of those who aren't aware of my homeschooling scheduling commitments, or those who didn't know my preferences for visits during schooling weekdays in advance who were the unexpected visitor, so if the time came when some dear soul made an announcement, usually it was a rare and lovely moment to see them and they were completely oblivious to my daily regime and not trying to sabotage my day. Offering them in return a welcome of hearts and if possible, having some flexibility in our days becomes paramount and absolutely key to how we will handle the reception of our unexpected visitor.

For me dear friends, the question during any visit always remains ~ Who becomes more blessed from an impromptu visit, myself or my guests?

When I had our youngest daughter, I was nursing my baby and trying to snap out of a sleep deprived blurr. I hadn't even so much as been able to wash my face yet, my husband asleep in our room from a night shift. The children were in the next room, pretending  (wink) to begin their schooling day after chores were freshly completed, and a car arrived in our driveway. Two women walked up to my door, two women I barely knew from church, and there was no way I was able to make a fifty yard dash to freshen up. I was sunk, and wondered about the timing. Instead, I opened the door and greeted them with my best smile, signaled for them to come on inside, and took a deep breath of air to quiet my beating heart. My pride had all but vanished...smiling.

If I was going to walk my talk AT ALL, this was the time to practice it. I remember muttering something about excusing my appearance, and invited them to have a cup of tea with me. Two very older women who only wanted to have a quick glance of our baby had gifts in their hands, and hadn't intended to stay at all. 

They apologized to me for coming unannounced, and said they weren't going to interrupt my morning by staying. Knowing they were baby mongers, I offered to have them hold our baby while ushering the other children in to say hello. With the kettle on anyway, I thought maybe they were in no hurry just the same, being polite and all, hoping they would take me up on the tea. 

This whole scene ended up being a most delightful visit, just what I needed to jump start my day in a way I never thought possible. From blurr to blessing, I may have missed out if I had turned them away for another time. It still remains a beautiful memory to me, and lucky me, I have a million more of these unexpected treasured visits stored up in the deep recesses of my heart on how they impacted my days.

It is not an inbred ease for everyone to be hospitable at a moment's notice. It takes practice to become naturally hospitable, and I really hadn't much experience before marrying, with the only exception of being able to observe how my parents treated their guests, always hospitable no matter what time of day, to bring someone inside and offer something to drink. My mother had friends who visited one another unexpectedly, a circle who just learned knocking upon their doors was acceptable. I remember when being a young girl, if someone also had a few treats to add to a plate, they did. One woman I remember served a few soup crackers on a plate, that was it, nothing spectacular, just great hostesses and mentors to my own mother.

I am a very friendly and social person, but on the flip side, I am also a private person who requires huge chunks of solitude to recover from the stresses of life. You won't find me knocking at your door unless we've prearranged it, and I won't bother you with telephone calls on the weekends knowing you're with your family. It's just the way I am with regards to doing unto others, and some friends chastise me often for being this way. 

It's something I still have to learn, and I suppose it all came about when not feeling very welcomed (at all), or being turned away a few times after knocking (in the past) on someone else's door unannounced. It felt like a bit of rejection, and seemed to really stick with me.

On the reverse side of this, I am so different in my ability to handle unexpected company and calls on the weekends. My availability sign is usually worn on my sleeve, a little strange I know. My best advice to my children has always been; if someone takes time to knock on your door, at least be cordial to them if it's a case of very bad timing, or offering them to enter for just a few moments so you can later return to whatever it is you must do. Placing parameters around one's time is a whole other topic, one also of prime importance in any family.

I find there are times when I could visit forever, and then for some reason there are occasions when extra long visits become quite tiring for me. I love a visit to break up my regimented schooling day for a change of pace. And one has to take into account, not everyone we may live with are as sociable as we, so in our home, I have to remember to use prudence on such occasions, especially when hours and hours goes by and there may be a bout of unwellness in our home requiring a quieter atmosphere for rest and recovery.

Still, the whole topic of hospitality is so dear to my heart, at least ever since I read Karen Mains book on the topic many, many years ago now. I find not all people are born with the gift of being hospitable, and they need to be taught how to become a good host/hostess. It takes an effort. It takes practice. It's a worthy subject topic in the hope of becoming a gracious host, one that should be at the top of any parent's priority list for training their children to develop this skill alongside of them.

I had always hoped to be a good example while mentoring its importance to my children, so they can take it to their own levels once leaving our family nest. The toughest part of providing hospitality as a family is in training of our children well, teaching them how to behave when we have guests, specially not to be extra goofy when company arrives. There are always the comics, the quiet hidden ones, and those who have to be reminded of their manners (well, not so much any longer now). The poor girlfriends/boyfriends who used to frequent our home many years ago now, for they never knew little ones would become their shadows and follow them everywhere, smothering them with their childlike cherub cheeked behavior. Sometimes parental intervention is required, and it is also in those times within a large family when our older children must learn not only to be hospitable toward their guests, but also toward their younger siblings.

I always get a deep belly chuckle over the photo below, the one of my father with two of our children who are obviously well at ease around him. Foot rubs and head rubs just seem to go together here;

Eventually, instead of offering to play hairdresser with our guests, or taking them away to play games or jump outside on our trampoline with them (every priest who ever came to dinner was offered the challenge of a jump with the teens, and all but one took them up on it), the fruits do grow to become many as they've now all managed to become great hosts/hostesses when company arrives. Upon occasion there is still some minor guest smothering without them even realizing it. :)

 Like when big brother moved out on his own and came to visit.

Or when a cousin comes to see us.
Those same fruits continue onward into adulthood, completely recognizable by their actions, and I always become so very proud of them all rendering usage of those hospitality skills in their own homes, within their own families. Like when grandparents share recent visits with them and tell us how much they loved their welcome there. 

P.S. ~ We are so PROUD of you all over there in the west! 

On a very personal note; this entire topic of hospitality wouldn't be complete without mentioning there are seasons in life when even in the most hospitable situations, being of cheery heart and able to usher one inside isn't always immediately possible. 

Sometimes life gets hard. 

Sometimes we have to honor the tough moments during these seasons, to unwind and look after ourselves for a change because we spend all of our energies doing for others. 

It is during these days of darkness when the white flag has to be hoisted to the skies!  And it is during these times when we unknowingly find ourselves becoming inverted just for a time, diving into the abyss of an overdue sensible recovery when it all seems to become too much. 

Admittedly, I've been there - many times. So has the rest of our family during times of crisis, when our lives are suddenly turned upside down with crazy events and tense situations. We all know well that whole momentary recovery ideal in a deep and intimate way. 

United we stand, divided we fall. 

So we stand, united, yet at times yanking and keeping everyone inside the family bubble, never allowing anyone to drift or push one another away, tending to our own at all times. These truly become the toughest of days for a parent, waiting, hoping and dreaming until the moment arrives again when the white flag swiftly becomes replaced with a brightly colored victorious crowning glory, that of knowing - we survived another hurdle, binding ourselves together through thick and thin.  

There are hills and valleys in our lifetimes when visiting with another ends up taking all our energies away and plundering ourselves into a big pile of mush, for we feel empty and devoid of having anything left to offer another.
It was during one of these times when life was so TOUGH for us, and though I was very private about emotion and details, never complaining and always still quite cheery, two of my closest friends sensed all I was going through. I call that grace in action. They arrived one schooling morning at my door. How could they be there was my first thought, for they too were homeschooling mamas. 

It was a strange kind of morning meeting them like that at my doorway. And then the beauty of the day began to unfold, leaving me in a floating realm, as though I was in a most scrumptious, heart healing, dreamy dream. 

  • My friends cared enough to be there for me, to become my hostesses right in my own home. 
  • My friends helped to heal me that day. They took precious time away from their own families, and taught me a lifetime lesson on true hospitality, which doesn't have to occur in our own homes. It can happen anywhere! 
  • My friends carried me across the threshold of despair and right into the ideal of hope instead.

They (actually!) physically took me and sat me down on my own couch. They removed their coats, and made themselves right at home. RIGHT AT HOME I tell ya! :)  One walked straight to my kitchen and gathered the others round her, summoning them to order. Before I knew it, the kettle was on, goodies pulled out and arranged nicely on small plates, some for the children, some for us. 

It was a visit like no other, one where my friends were blessing me with more than just using their hospitality skills, they were soothing this weary mama, healing and licking my deep gaping open wounds, cherishing me with their friendships, cheering me on with giggles and happy visit chatting, and wrapping themselves about me like a fortress of protection, holding me lovingly close in my time of need. And there in my living room, we were making a golden memory! They didn't know how badly I needed this visit. Heck, I never knew myself. But what a visit it was! Hospitality was evident everywhere in my midst, through my girlfriends, and through myself and our children alike who warmly and happily welcomed them into our home. 

Without them ever knowing beforehand just how difficult life was for us, an unknown terminal illness prognosis, and living at the tail end of a dark time of almost total financial ruin, these ladies were the glue in my day, the icing on my beating heart, the sweetness in life when one begins to sense for sure - all will be well with my soul. And it has been through my self determination to survive in both mind and heart. This beautiful memory still and forever will reign high and linger on for me. 

It always brings a warmth to my heart and happy leaky tears to my eyes to this day, remembering the blessing of friendships, and the friendship gift of hospitality in unexpected ways. It has taught me how bad I am at being a receiver of gifts such as this, preferring instead the pleasure I get from being the giver. 


And so very blessed!  

Hospitality. It's everywhere, beginning in our own homes and spreading out into the world to pay it forward to others. A lofty and worthy topic, one we are sure to keep in practice our whole lives so we might learn someday of those "angels unaware" floating in our midst. 

It's all about how people are more important than things.


"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

~ Matthew 25: 34-35

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

It's time once again for another installment of my "Ten Things" to be thankful for, always varied, always random bits in positively NO particular order.

Yes, the word "random" comes to mind when I hold on to a memory, or jot down a small grateful thing, and then ultimately begin posting some of my "ten things" on the blog.
There will always be no rhyme nor reason to the chosen photos or situations. Sometimes I want to kick myself afterward though, I mean ~ why not post several dozen thankful things instead.

Because I could do that.

I know I could.

Some I may choose to highlight might make no sense to others, but rest assured, all make perfect sense to me. :)

In my recent post on "turkey pot pies", I found myself intentionally hovering near to my husband, focusing on his hands while in motion, as he
so delicately began tenderly molding our family's evening dinner. I've never seen him make pies before, a first. I found myself transfixed (with camera in hand), frozen for a time while watching all in progress.

It's also in those types of very personal and thoughtful reflections when I can easily include the blessing his hands offered that night in my gratitude list, definitely when noting the gentle way he lovingly created those pies for all of us.

Please know for certain that my own personal thoughts on true thankfulness can obviously never be offered, nor delivered in true completeness within one simple post. And in case you just might find it interesting and want even more today, you can always skip along to view other "thankful" posts by clicking onto the archives located - right HERE.

**( Just a note that I finally took the plunge by taking on the new Blogger editor programming, and I'm having a few technical difficulties over font and color issues. Seems all was reformatted in the switch and I'm not totally sure how to reverse this just yet.)

- 1 - I'm thankful for a few new magazines gifts at Christmas. These are currently awaiting my reading pleasures on my night table, for when I have a few stolen moments to drift away and sip a cuppa something hot.

There is always something celebratory about perusing through a "Victoria" magazine this time of year, something elegant and filled with interesting seasonal lovelies. The "Home Companion" magazine is also another I like to glance through upon occasion, always something of interest it seems in every issue. Thanks for these Mom & Dad.

(speaking of Christmas, I have photos uploaded and posts in my draft box, all soon to come)

- 2 - I'm thankful for these two printer type set drawers I found (for a fabulous 2/1 deal) at an antique store a while back, the ones I was able to clean out and use for a specific and most perfect function in my craft/office room. I love these, and if I ever were to find more for a reasonable price, I'd buy them too! I just have to figure out a secure way to attach them to the wall someday, so for now they are leaning on top of my shorter shelving units.

As you can see in the photo above, I had many individual rubber stamps which have been stored for a long time all muddled together in rubbermaid drawer systems. All are now available in a jiffy, viewable at a glance, which makes them even more functional for me to grab easily when thick in crafting moments. They also allow me to replace the stamp again, keeping clean up a breeze, all organized and out of the way.

- 3 - I'm thankful for
some fresh and new washcloths, the ones above made from my mother in law's loving hands - pretty ones just for me. She is a such a gifted knitter, and wonders why we all make such a fuss over being gifted with these. Oh that's easy really, all the gals in the family just LOVE them! Thanks Mom B.

- 4 - I'm thankful for such a thoughtful gift from my daughter, especially when she later shared with me how much she knew I loved candles all over the house now that we don't have wee ones any longer.

I am such a safety freak, I rarely used to lite a candle in my home when they were all little folks, mostly because we have had experience with a house fire and I would always hover within range nearby if one was burning any time. These days I am still a safety freak about candles, fire and all things which burn easily, but much more relaxed about the trade off for producing a warm ambiance in our home instead. Thank you darling!

- 5 - I'm thankful
that she FINALLY decided to begin driving!

With her brother now driving on his own and sporting his own vehicle (still doing the happy dance about that myself!), she is on her way to getting the hang of motoring around. Soon she'll begin her driver's ed and defense classes, and glide forward towards her G2 license. By summer she hopes to have her own vehicle and be able to get herself to college in the fall. Pinch me, the whole thought of it all just really offers this mama such bliss.... ahhhhhh.

- 6 - I'm thankful for not being forgotten this year when the mail lady plopped this postcard into my mail box. Yes folks, when one signs up with Starbucks online, they will send you a free ANYTHING drink card on your birthday. I was so excited to get this! This week I thoroughly savored the flavor of a skinny grande vanilla latte. Yum! Thank you Starbucks for remembering me this year!

- 7 - I'm thankful for wee moments of simple pleasures when sitting for a time offers me food for thought, quite literally, soft little reminders I like to hide amongst my things to discover and ponder over and over again. Yes, this is such a precious quote! Let's ponder it shall we? 

 (She even placed the jar of chocolate peppermint bark she helped to make, so he could take a piece to work with his coffee. The note was a bit damp, all protected and dry now)

- 8 - I'm thankful for the simplest and yet the sweetest of pleasures! As the last man standing by the end of the night, I've been able to have a nightly observation at the coffee pot, always a little note resting propped up against it, as our youngest daughter continues her daily early morning note greetings to her daddy. There is something that almost takes my breath away here, the ever-growing love relationship between these two, when being an observer to the efforts she makes in nightly setting up the coffee pot for her daddy's early morning rise, plus always ensuring a happy morning greeting to go along with it. An extra piece of paper with pen/pencil rests nearby so her daddy can return his own note greeting back to her. 

First thing after she wakes, she pitter pats down the stairs to find her own note, scooping it up and taking it to her bedroom. For quite some time, she was throwing away her own notes and only keeping her father's. I've encouraged her to save both, as together, they do tell a whole little story all their own. I can see these becoming cherished keepsakes for the future, perhaps scanning all into a book someday entitled;
Morning greetings from "Bubbles" and her "Dad". :)

- 9 - I'm thankful for this Christmas gift, the one which reminds us over and over again the importance of HOME! And the scripture verse is just perfectly fitting;
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" ~ Jeremiah 24:15

- 10 - I'm thankful for all the medical care stumbled upon which has turned out to be "God ordained" for sure, since our move here two years ago now.

I will forever remain deeply indebted to persevering and trusting in blind faith, following our directed move here. At first there were many days when I wondered what in the world we were doing here, and now there are few days when all doesn't make perfect sense!

I will always be grateful for the respiratory physiotherapy my husband continues to reap the health benefits from, and even though he will sadly never "get better", we can only hope and pray the ongoing benefits of this type of constant care will hold him and keep all from digressing as swiftly as anticipated every other year or so in the past.

Still not having been discharged from outpatient care at the hospital's resp. physio program, last summer my husband was asked to become a photographer's subject. Over 250 pictures were snapped of him while being directed through a usual routine by one of his physiotherapists. Just before Christmas, and after teasing him for the past few months about being the newest hospital "poster boy", some brochures were forwarded to us in our mail as sneak peaks, along with a thank you note for posing months ago. Well now, so there he was within the pages for all to see. More photos will emerge over time from his "story", hopefully benefiting someone else in the future.

This year we plan to be hanging out much more on our other blog, the one bringing public and cyberspace awareness to his rare type of respiratory disease. In just three months, we have been contacted by four others quite literally around the world who have also been diagnosed with this same disease, all rare people in the medical world. Though not many compared to other types of respiratory diseases, nevertheless, we will begin to dive in and endeavor to expose and bring it out there, in the hope of uniting and helping another.

Come on over and visit sometime, perhaps even consider bookmarking the site. We're a little behind on posts, time has been a factor over the Christmas period. But, if the stats to date can tell a story all by themselves, it's been getting quite a lot of worldwide attention, so we're motivated and planning to devote more time to its improvement, jointly with others who have been in contact with us, those who will also be sharing their stories on the same rare disease.

Here's the link --- "Mounier-Kuhn Syndrome Journey"

Well, there's another ten things from me for now, ten chosen for no rhyme and no reason, just because.

What are your thankful things today, or this week?

Are you jotting them all down on your gratitude lists?

If not, it's never too late to begin. Why not start today?

(P.S. Our older daughter is having to practice much patience, especially over all the time-able labor the past two weeks. Instead, an overdue baby girlie is having baby giggles within, so comfy cozy there, trying to figure out when she wants to come along. Maybe by the 29th, on her Auntie's birthday?)