Saturday, February 5

Traveling Buddy

Today was our monthly trip to the temple. As I have a wee nursling - much too little to be left at home for that long! - we take her along with us, as well as someone to watch her while we are in our temple session.

My oldest daughter has claimed this as her privilege. She loves coming with us. She loves talking to us on the drive there and back. She loves holding her baby sister, and she loves the attention she gets because of it from the temple workers and the other temple patrons.

I must say, she is a good traveling buddy. She is pleasant company, enjoyable conversation, and good with the baby. Also, I can usually count on her to take a nap on the way home, so I can have an uncensored conversation with my husband.

I am thankful for my daughter, for her willingness to help out, for her eagerness to facilitate our temple attendance. She's no push-over, but when she decides something is worth doing, she does it right and does it with style.

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, February 4


Today is Friday. I can hold out all week long, no matter how hectic it gets, because I know that if I can just make it to Friday, I get to go out. I am such a lucky girl. My husband takes me out of the house and away from my mundania every week to the mystical and magical realm of Date Night. What bliss!

Oh, all right. Not every date night is bliss. Sometimes, we are too exhausted to do anything worth bragging about. Sometimes, the only thing we can think of to do (or can afford!) is put the kids to bed and watch a movie on NetFlix instant watch. But to me, a movie is the lamest cop-out for a date.

Some date nights are much better. We have gone visiting to friends, we have eaten out, we once toured the Basilica doesn't matter what we do, really, just that we are doing something (anything!) together.

My favorite date night activity? Talking.

Stop it. Don't laugh. I'm not the only one that talks. I also get to listen while my husband talks. I love it. We can talk anywhere: while we're watching the moon rise; in a corner booth at a restaurant as we each nurse a soda; in the Student Union building's reading room (they have such comfy couches!); holding hands on the swings at the park; walking aimlessly through the supermarket...It's basically the most romantic thing ever.

It is also much more effective than therapy. I really enjoy hearing what goes on in my husband's week and in his head. I enjoy how he listens to me and the minutia I am prone to drone on about. I find myself saving up thoughts and observations to bring up on date nights, just to get his take on things.

Talking. Talk-Talk-Talk. Don't knock it. It's about the best date night activity ever. And it's free! Talking keeps us a team, and keeps us up to speed on each other's lives and hopes and dreams. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go out and to talk to my husband, and to listen to him talk.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, February 3

Snow Day

We have been in the middle of some phenomenal winter weather. Well, actually, we're on the outer edge of it. There are plenty of people who have been pounded by this storm. Our little neck of the woods actually faired pretty well. All the same, schools have been closed all week, and the university campus where my husband works has been closed for the past three days.

I feel a little selfish enjoying this storm so much. I know a lot of people all over the Midwest are deeply impacted by it, even in danger because of it.

But I can't help it. I love being home as a family, with nothing particularly pressing on our agenda. We have made cookies, played music, danced a little, goofed off a lot. It's heavenly.

Not too long ago, I would have been panicking myself into a deep spiral of anxiety over this sort of weather. Mostly, because my husband used to have a horrid commute. But also because this is the first employment position that pays him for things like "sick days" and "vacation" and even "jury duty". So any day he wasn't clocked on was going to hurt a lot come pay day.

It is such a comforting feeling to have my husband home, to enjoy down time as a family, without the specter of the checkbook looming over our story time, our snack time, or our snuggle time. I am thankful for snow days, particularly when they are underwritten by someone else!

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, February 2

New Faces

Today, for the first time ever, I hosted a home school party at my house. I dreaded it and couldn't wait for it, all at the same time.

It was a Valentines party. My daughter spent the morning making sugar cookies. We all helped clean. We have spent the last several days making crafty decorations to spiffy up our house and make things festive. I planned the activities, and sent out the invite + timely reminders (since I know from personal experience how forgetful home school moms can be!).

Three different families came. My home was fullfullFULL of active, slightly-cabin-feverish kids, and there were only three adults on the premesis. An amazing array of red, white, and pink sweets materialized in my kitchen. A blizzard of craft supplies attacked the dining room. Crafting ensued, with snarfing up of said sweets trailing closely behind. Goofiness followed.

Sounds like a headache-inducing disaster? It wasn't. It could have been, but it wasn't at all. It was wonderful! The craft activity did not go the way I had envisioned, but no one cared, so I made the conscious decision not to care. The children had fun, I got to meet a whole new home school family in our area, and we got to talk and visit and get acquainted for almost two whole hours.

It was lovely. And before they went home, all of the kids got down on the floor and picked up. So when ten extra kids left, my home was still clean! I'm not in a hurry to throw another party (...well, OK, in my head, I am, but for real, I'm not), but this one was great.

Today, I am thankful for the chance to have people over at my house for a fun activity, and for my children to make some new friends, and for an opportunity for me to meet new faces.

What have you been blessed with today?

Tuesday, February 1

Working Class

Today, we cleaned the house. And by "we" I mean myself, my children and my husband. We have totally re-vamped our chore system. Whatever it was we have tried in the past, none of it has worked for any great length of time. It bugged me a great deal, not only because I really like living in a nice, clean house, but because I want to teach my children cleanliness and responsibility and work ethic and satisfaction in a job well done. Home is the lab for so many skills one simply does not learn elsewhere! This really IS the working class for the rest of life.

So, at lunch a few days ago, we absolved our children of all pre-assigned chores. No more "you're on dishes, he's on laundry, I'm on vacuuming." Nope, now we all help in all areas. Like at the Home Depot, where those tacky orange aprons that every employee wears says "Hello, my name is _____, and I help in all departments!"

And we work together! I pick the most pressing task, call everyone together, and we blitz it. Chores that used to take hours of nagging and whining and threatening and procrastination are suddenly done in 25 minutes of cooperation with a dash of comradery. It's not all cupcakes and sunshine, but it has changed the spirit in our home almost over night. We are a lot tidier, too. Not all the time, mind you. There are still nine people rattling around in this house all day long, and I am no Martha Stewart. It turns out, though, that my children all know they will be part of the clean-up team, and are therefore mysteriously self-motivated to maintain it. Sweet.

Today, I am thankful for our new working class. Particularly the part where it works!

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, January 31

Shopping Buddy

Today, my husband and I sat down, drafted our grocery list, and sallied forth into the world of supermarkets to restock our pantry (and refrigerator, freezer, and seriously depleted goody stash).

As my husband is a minion of the State, he is paid once a month. We've lived with this pay schedule for almost six years now, but it still kicks my puh-tootie on a regular basis. I guess I should have thought more carefully all those years ago when I prayed for the Good Lord to help me learn patience and better self-control. Feeding a family of nine with minimal trips to the grocery store has certainly pushed me in that direction! I've heard people talking about how they are trying a new-fangled financial challenge, where they only go to the store once a month, and all the money they are saving, but how hard it is when they run out of stuff after only two-and-a-half weeks, and I think, "Yeah, tell me about it!"

I digress.

We made our list, and went shopping. I realize how lucky I am that my husband goes grocery shopping with me. He even wants to come. He built me an Excel spreadsheet for our grocery shopping that tracks what we purchased last month, and automatically totals our grocery bill before we ever set foot in a store.

We carefully go over our needs and wants and the upcoming events, to be sure we aren't stranded on Week Three with an obligation (like a birthday, or a Church potluck) and no recourse whatsoever. This means we have to be organized: we check our calendar, we inventory our current pantry stock, we project our needs for the coming month. I used to do this as a restaurant manager. Little did I know then how much I would need those skills now.

We left the house by mid-afternoon, and were home only three hours later (trust me, that's a land-speed record). I would never be so efficient or speedy without my husband. He has made this a game for us (which we are quite good at!), but for him, it is an art form.  I am grateful for my shopping buddy.

(And the next day, that huge winter storm system full of snow and blizzardish weather hit, and pounded us for three days, and boy-oh-boy was I glad our shopping was done and my pantry was stocked, and we could just stay home and stay cozy!)

What are you blessed with today?


We had to drive down to the city today. There was no way around it. An icy drizzle had been falling all morning, but we couldn't put it off. We said a prayer before we left.

In the last six weeks of 2010, we had to replace two different tires on our vehicle. It was not in the budget either time. One of the tires went out with a dramatic farewell, and was mildly traumatizing. But we needed the van, so we took a deep breath and replaced the tires. We tightened our figurative belts and trusted that the Good Lord would see us through.

Today, I am thankful for those new tires. They made the difference in our safety. I am inclined to wonder if God didn't have a hand in those two flat tires, knowing in advance that we needed new tires for our safety, but that we wouldn't replace them until it was an emergency. I do not doubt His ability to answer prayers before I even think to say them. I am thankful for new tires, for safety in travel, and for a Father in Heaven who watches over me so tenderly.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, January 30


Not every post of thankfulness has to be deep and profound. Today, I am thankful for chocolate chip cookies.

Especially chocolate chip cookies that are still hot from the oven, that are gooey enough to be floppy in your hand and licked off your fingers.

Especially when I am sharing them with friends at the end of a chaotic day, at the end of a long and stressful month.

Especially when you get to eat the dough with your kids, and still have enough for several pans of big, yummy cookies. And if I get to take home a plate of cookies to stash on top of the fridge for extended enjoyment tomorrow, so much the better.

Yup, I am pretty sure chocolate chip cookies are something to give thanks for. Particularly under these circumstances.

I am grateful for chocolate chip cookies. And good friends. And the God's good grace to get me through a tough month.

What are you blessed with today?


This is the post for Saturday, January 29, but we didn't get home until after midnight...

Today we traveled to see family. My nephew was getting baptized, and everyone on my husband's side of the family who could make it was going to be there.  It looked for a while there, that we were not going to be able to go. But, miracles come in many sizes, and God gave us one just the right size for us to be able to make it (on time!) to the baptism.

It was wonderful. And afterwards, we stayed and visited. I love visiting. The kids played with their cousins. We met our soon-to-be aunt (they got engaged this week!). We stayed much longer than we should have, and had a very late, long drive home. But it was worth it.

I am thankful for the opportunity to travel (and for safety in travel) and to see people we love.

What have you been blessed with today?