Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursdays hosted in May by Laurie @ Women Taking A Stand
Happy Thursday and second-last day of May!  Summer really IS just around the corner now... even for us!!  Thankfully, we've had many days already that have felt distinctly summer-ish.  Lately, we had a bit of a cloudy, damp stretch, but that was wonderful for our The Man's newly-seeded garden.

I'm thankful he enjoys working in the garden.  I have never enjoyed it.  I love being outside, but not for gardening!  I do love to EAT the results of gardening, however, so I'm thankful we plant a garden every year, even though I generally dislike whatever time I need to spend in it.

I'm thankful for family who are good friends, too.  Last weekend my parents were out and on Sunday evening, I invited all the other local family members we have out here for a potluck barbecue and birthday party for my sweet friend/cousin-in-law who'd just turned 40 the week earlier.  It was so much fun.  And I was really quite relaxed about it all, which I'm extremely grateful for because a few years ago, I wouldn't have bothered even attempting it due to the stress it would have caused.  I was still pretty unorganized, this being the first time I've had more than one individual family over for a meal and all, but got help from everyone, so it was really good.

My parents left Monday shortly after noon, and after school, we were expecting one of the school parents with whom we're on a committee regarding school business.  He'd missed our last meeting and wanted to be brought up to speed before the next one, which will be open to all school parents.  His son (who happens to be one of AJ's classmates) was going to get off the school bus with the girls for a bit of a playdate before they went home for supper.  No problem.

Except that I had COMPLETELY forgotten I'd instructed The Man to invite their family to stay at our house for supper!!!

When he and his son weren't leaving and weren't leaving, and then his wife showed up after work, I started to wonder.  I finally managed to get The Man into another room to ask what on earth the plan was.  Naturally, he reminded me it had been my idea to invite them for supper.

I had a moment of panic, but then literally followed the example of The Man's late grandmother and just added more water to the soup.  (well, and some more bouillon, frozen veggies, and cut up leftover sausage, too!)  Thankfully, though it was a simpler meal than I would normally plan for company, it was the kind of meal that could be easily stretched.  And thankfully, they're the kind of friends to whom I can admit these memory lapses and misunderstandings and we can all have a great laugh at my expense.

I'm thankful I don't feel the need to have a sterile, immaculate house or put on a fancy, multi-dish meal anymore when expecting guests.  But I'm grateful I'd forced myself to wash dishes in the early afternoon and to give the bathroom a quick swish 'n' shine!

What are YOU thankful for today??

* Click the button at the top of the post to visit our hostess and other thankful bloggers!

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When there's no time to stop

>> Wednesday, May 29, 2013

...is exactly when I most often NEED to stop.

I was preparing for my parents' visit this past weekend, which was going to include hosting a mini family gathering of my dad's family members living in the area, plus I was looking after a few other things that needed doing before Friday and I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  ("cranky" is probably how my husband perceived it!)

Thursday morning I announced that I needed to go for a walk.  I surmised my anxiety was partly the things going on that week, but probably even more so a result of not having taken a walk for the last couple of days.

The Man said, "Seriously?  You figure going for a walk every day will change anything??"

I bristled a little at his tone and didn't respond as gently as I probably should have, but I reminded him that my walks had nothing to do with exercise, and everything to do with starting my day out with a half-hour prayer time.  It's part of the time I set aside each day to concentrate on my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and, I've found, is more vital even than my Bible reading.  Not in terms of developing wisdom and discernment, but in terms of focusing on Him, on others, and seeing myself and my circumstances in light of who HE is, rather than who I am.

It's pretty key to setting the tone of my heart attitude for the day.  And I generally find, if I haven't had that walk for a few days ~ whether due to inclement weather or laziness or not being at home or having company, or any other reason ~ I am just a little more out of sorts.  I'm not as focused.  I tend to get anxious or depressed or cranky more easily.  Self-pity and entitlement raise their ugly heads.

And when the schedule is full, it is all the more important to do what I can to avoid those tendencies.

A little later that same day, I noticed The Peaceful Mom had posted along similar lines and I just love the graphic she used:

(Used with permission)
I completely agree with the sentiment, but I particularly love that she chose a graphic with dandelions.

In the course of trying to learn the secret of contentment, I have come to realize that little, oft-overlooked blessings surround me even in my mundane daily routine.  Some days I have to look a little harder for things to be thankful for than others, but they're there nonetheless. Talking with God about the details that make up my life, thanking Him for His protection, provision, and providence, and all the little blessings He throws in along the way do much to improve my attitude about pretty much everything!

Even if the only blessings I can think of are the bright, cheery yellow weeds that polka-dot my entire lawn right now.  :)

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Somebunny to love

>> Friday, May 24, 2013

We had a couple of bunnies fall/get out of their cage and somehow end up inside the barn wall last weekend.  We're not exactly sure how they ended up there, but their mother didn't appear to want them back.  They're a little too young to survive on their own, and so the girls are playing foster moms this week.


Unfortunately, we lost one a couple days later and AJ was heart-broken, but the remaining bunny ~ ToughNut ~ looks to be doing well.  He is actually eating and drinking all on his own already and getting quite comfy in the old hamster cage.




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Leader of the Pack

>> Monday, May 20, 2013

I am one proud mama.  But then again, every mom thinks their kids are exceptional, and so, as a rule, I try not to brag on my kids too much here or in real life ~ well, except maybe to their grandparents ~ but this time I just can't help it!  I am just so proud of Mack and her performance at her first-ever track meet!!
 
Now, Mack LOVES to run (figure THAT one out, geneticists!!) and had signed up for virtually every single running event available.  Obviously, we encouraged her to aim to win, but because it's ALL the Gr. 5-8 students from the entire division meeting to compete, I cautioned her a little to be prepared to lose, too, especially since this is the first time she's ever competed in anything like this.
 
Well, whatever preparation she may have done for losing was somewhat moot, because she placed in every. single. event!!!!!  The pictures pretty well tell the story of how her races went ~
 
easily competitive in the shorter distance events...
 

...but virtually alone out front in the distance runs.


(The Man and I scoured the above picture for the second-place runner because we didn't think it had been THAT much of a spread, but we can't see one.  The one 'figure' at the top left-hand of the track that appears to be running is actually a wooden cut-out silhouette, so it doesn't count!)

We know speed isn't her greatest strength, but that kid can run
F-O-R-E-V-E-R without any noticeable change of pace, so her placements came as no surprise:

3rd place:  4x50m shuttle relay
2nd place: 50m sprint, 100m dash
1st place:  4x100m relay, 2x400m relay, and 400m

Unfortunately, she didn't get to run the 800m, which I sort of suspect might have been her best event.  It ended up being cancelled due to scheduling issues, but since the 4x100m relay was immediately after the 800, it's probably not an all-bad thing.  She was disappointed to not be able to race twice around the track, but I think it would have been much worse for her to run it, and then not have enough juice left for a team race.  She's very hard on herself, especially if she knows other people are counting on her.

In any case, we are just bustin' our buttons and Mack is already plotting her strategy and planning her training regimen for next spring.  She's really hoping the snow will melt earlier than it did this year so she won't have to wait till just two weeks before the meet to start training.

Seriously, whose kid is this??

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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursdays hosted in May by Laurie @ Women Taking A Stand
Happy Thursday, everyone!

I'm so grateful the weather is FINALLY starting to feel like it SHOULD feel this time of year!  The grass is getting quite green and the trees are covered with buds and seed pods, so any day now, the colour will explode!  I can hardly WAIT!!

And I know I've said this here before ~ probably several times ~ but I'm reminded over and over again how fortunate it is that my girls are each other's best friends.  I am SO THANKFUL they get along so well.  I'm also grateful they're developing into responsible, trustworthy young women, too.  Mack's old enough to handle being in charge for a couple hours here and there and it's just so freeing to know that our instructions will be followed even while we're gone, and that they won't get into all sorts of things they shouldn't.

Haha, I wrote all the above stuff this earlier in the week and then last night we had a bit of a trustworthiness issue while The Man and I were at a meeting at the school.  We'd brought the girls and their bikes to town with us so they could hang out with some of their friends from town, but the ONE rule we made, they broke!

All is well... and I'm thankful my "missing" AJ ~ who was SUPPOSED to stay together with her big sister ~ appeared after only half an hour of cruising around town.  It seems she and her little friend decided to pay her friend's grandma a little visit.  While they HAD actually told her friend's dad (he'd told them it was okay, but just to pop in briefly to say hello), he seemed to have forgotten or just assumed they wouldn't still be there, because he was biking around town looking for them, too!

I'm grateful The Man and I decided together beforehand what the punishment should be, how to carry it out and that we calmly, rationally delivered the sentence together.  I'm also thankful Mack has the kind of conscience she does ~ she ended up getting the same punishment her little sister did because after sitting in on AJ's sentencing, Mack tearfully admitted she'd actually broken the rule earlier in the evening as well.

In talking with them, we realized, and had to admit, the rule had maybe been a little unrealistic and not well thought out, but, we reminded them, it had still been the rule.  So while punishment was still necessary, we promised to try and make a better rule the next time we happen to have this situation.  I think it was actually a good exercise for all of us.  Not a FUN exercise, but probably one that will stand us in good stead in the long run!

It was a rough evening, but I'm thankful the sun is shining this morning and the girls woke up happy and cheerful.  (we'll see how happy and cheerful they are when they get home from school and remember which customary privileges have been removed for the next several days!)

What are YOU thankful for today??

* Click the button at the top of the post to visit our hostess and other thankful bloggers!

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My Kids Don't Make Sense

>> Friday, May 10, 2013

As mothers, we tend to assume (and usually take some pride) that we KNOW our children. Like, inside and out.  I mean, we LIVE with them, right?  We've been with them since birth.  Of COURSE we know our children!

I don't.

Seriously, whenever someone asks what Mack and AJ would like for their birthdays or Christmas, or as an activity to enjoy with an aunt, stuff like that, I inevitably say the wrong thing.  I'm constantly thinking they'll like or dislike the wrong thing.

Their likes and dislikes simply do not fit their personalities!  It's downright maddening.

AJ, my younger, random, hyper daughter always chooses the GT Snow-Racer when daddy's pulling them behind the quad in the snow.  She wants to be able to control where she goes.  Mack, my older, quieter, calmer daughter chooses the toboggan because she prefers the randomness and chaos of NOT being able to control her ride.

That same thrill-seeking older daughter chooses newer, scarier rides at the fair every year, but won't dive off the diving board at the pool.  The younger one ~ the one who has to work on herself the entire day at the fair to try the new ride her sister did ~ didn't ever have a first "attempt" at diving.  She just did it.  And looked like she'd always been doing it.

The calm, quiet, bookworm Mack has a hard time sitting through more than one TV show and prefers to go play in the toyroom or outside.  Wired-for-action AJ could sit glued to the TV or computer screen for HOURS if we'd allow it.

Gentle, sensitive Mack doesn't want to have anything to do with butchering (we raise rabbits for meat) while rambunctious AJ is right in there like a dirty shirt, helping her daddy.  But it's Mack who loves wandering around the yard, shooting birds with the BB gun while AJ ~ who constantly asks her dad to bring her along the next time he goes hunting ~ mourns grievously over the death of each one.

So don't ask me if my girls would like this or that for their birthday, or if they'd like to go somewhere for a fun outing, because chances are, no matter what I say, I'll be wrong.

I just don't have them figured out yet.




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A Tale of Two Mondays

>> Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Long story short, here's Monday, April 29:
 
 
Roughly four inches of snow, temperatures hovering around freezing.
I wore a heavy sweater under my spring jacket, my mitts, and my winter boots.  The roads were slushy and looked like this on my way to work:


And here's the same spot that snowman stood just yesterday, Monday, May 5, a week later:

 
It was 29.5C/85F out there yesterday.

I broke out a pair of shorts and a tank top to rake the lawn.


Innocent drivers were blinded briefly by the glare of my bright white legs as they drove past our yard.
But it. felt. AWESOME!

The end.

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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thankful Thursdays hosted in May by Laurie @ Women Taking A Stand
Happy Thursday, everyone!

Looking outside, you'd hardly believe it was the first week of May, but here it is, nonetheless!!  We have had a VERY long winter and things were just starting to look spring-ish when we got hit with another snowstorm over much of the province.  We were lucky and only got a couple inches.  My sister-in-law who loves three hours east of us along one of the big lakes got about a foot and a half!!

Nevertheless, I am thankful:
  • that the songbirds have arrived once again (haha, with the fresh snow -- poor things!)
  • that the aforementioned fresh snow that arrived Monday and Tuesday is half gone again and should be ALL gone today or tomorrow
  • that we FINALLY have the kind of forecast we've been waiting for since about a month ago!!
(for the Celsius-challenged, that's temps ranging from 43-72F)
  • today is my last day of work.  Tax season is over for another year, and now it's just a matter of finishing up the last of the printing.
  • I actually got a day off yesterday for the two people after me in the client tax package assembly-line process to catch up
  • I got a LOT done!  My whole to-do list PLUS a raid of my closet and dresser drawers to get rid of much of what I don't wear because it's either too small, doesn't fit right, or has been taking up space, unrealistically waiting for repair.  (let's face it, I'm not gonna do it, I'm not really willing to pay for it because I feel like I SHOULD be able to do it, and so it's never gonna happen.)
  • for a visit last weekend from an uncle and aunt, together with a cousin and his wife, who've never been to our place before
  • for simple, no-time-to-cook meals like chili with chips or buns, and ice cream cake!
  • a bike ride and visit to the horses a mile south of us with AJ last Saturday when it was T-SHIRT WEATHER while Mack was away at a birthday party.  I felt like I really didn't have time, having done no housework for almost 2 weeks due to almost full-time work and expecting our guests for lunch after church the next day, but I'm really grateful I took the time anyway.
  • SUNSHINE and the promise of summer, no matter how desperately winter seems to hold on!
What are YOU thankful for today??

* Click the button at the top of the post to visit our hostess and other thankful bloggers!

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Happy First of May!!

>> Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The time has come now Spring is here
I hear its voice in my frostbitten ear
Through the trees its breezes blow
Through lifeless twigs where icicles grow

Thoughts of love are in the air
There goes a mating polar bear
And lovers snowshoe two by two
Their rosy cheeks a healthy blue

It's time to don a wardrobe new
A parka, toque and mitts should do
A walk along the river is nice
To watch the floating chunks of ice

And now I've got the lawn to mow
But it takes so long in three feet of snow
The freezing rain, the ice monsoon
I hate to think it'll be winter soon

When I got out my bike they called me a fool
But I'm tired of driving a zamboni to school
I hope the thaw will get here soon
'Cuz long johns sure itch in the middle of June

My thermometer must have some leaks
For I've seen no mercury in at least three weeks
Those fabled flowers are surely missed
The colour green does not exist

If I could land one Springtime wish;
May I need no jackhammer with which to fish
I would like to view the lawn once more
Or see the knob of my front door

But this is wrong I should not whine
For all too soon it's summertime
The blistering sun, the endless heat
The pain of skeeter-bitten feet

Yet through bugs, through bees, I'll not complain
'Cuz in six short weeks.... It's cold again!!


~ "Ode to an Ontario Spring"
by Brett Statham

Sunny
* These pictures are all taken on April 29 and 30, but don't worry, it still looks like that outside today! :)

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