Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanks for family

I can't let the month of thankfulness end without telling what I am most thankful for - family.

While growing up, our family seemed huge. There were so many aunts and uncles and cousins and when we all got together at my grandmother's house, well, I'm really not sure how we all fit. Family also consisted of mom, dad, and 2 -4 kids, for everyone in the extended family too.

Now our family seems so much smaller but no less important. There aren't as many opportunities to get together and that does make it harder. Plus family no longer means mom, dad, and 2.5 kids but they are still family and they love you and accept you, no matter how stupid you are. And they are proud of you, even if the accomplishment is tiny.

And with the acceptance of families no longer having to fit a certain mold, then I was able to make my own family, and having my daughters is easily the single thing I am most thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful is an understatement

When making a list of things I am thankful for, the coincidence of National Adoption Month falling into the same month as Thanksgiving is not lost on me. To say I am thankful for adoption is the biggest understatement I could possibly make. There are so many people, most I will never know, some who have no idea how they impacted my life, but all who brought me to the best my life has ever been.

So to name a few people for whom I am thankful in regards to adopting my daughters, I must start with the birth mothers, not just my daughters' mothers, but all birth mothers who make the truest sacrifice and make the decision to allow their child to be adopted. I'm not sure that I would or could make such a decision, but will be eternally grateful to two mothers in particular, who gave the ultimate in selflessly when they took the time and care to place my daughters in public places so they would be found in hopes of a better life.

I am thankful for the birth families as well and feel a tinge of sympathy for them as they will never know what fantastic beings they are missing in the make up of their family.

I am thankful to the people at the Social Welfare Institute, who provided the initial home for my daughters, who acquiesced and allowed strangers into their facility who disapproved of their methods at times, but allowed them to make the changes needed to provide a nurturing environment that my daughters are able to form bonds and show love.

I am thankful to those who, stateside, sent checks supporting these children they did not know, ensuring their health and safety, and even provided a few bright spots in what could otherwise have been dismal childhoods.

I am thankful to my Auntie Peggy and Uncle George, who were so ahead of their time, sought out adoption and provided the earliest glimpses of what that family could look like.

To my sister Jana, who persevered in her decision to adopt, even when faced with the effect it might have on her life.

To my niece, Darcey, who, from the first instant I saw her, made me fall in love with these beautiful children in China who needed parents.

To Eileen, who chose to be a single mom and when I heard her story, knew I had to find out more.

To those here who helped provide funding to get us to China two times and bring my family home.

You see, the list could go on and on While we credit ancient proverbs with the saying, It takes a village to raise a child", it is quite obvious that adoption involves so many more.

My heart is full of thankfulness to all of you who impacted the source and presence of my family.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Very unexpected things to be thankful for

Friday started at 3:30 am when I woke up way too early and knew there probably was no chance I would go back to sleep. Too much was happening and I was more than a little worried about some of the details as I was also trying to avoid some memories.

Friday was Veterans Day, which you already knew, but it was also the day my little sister died so suddenly that even five years later, it still seems impossible.

Last year, right before Veterans Day I went to a program on palliative care for veterans called Wounded Warriors: Their Last Battle. The speaker addressed the need to thank our veterans for the services they provided to keep our country free, before they die. Since I have always been one who feels that if there is a need, it is up to me, I quickly planned a breakfast to thank as many veterans as I could. It felt good to have a new focus for a day that had taken on such sad memories and was successful enough that I decided to plan something much bigger and better for this year.

So what I thought I would be writing that I was thankful for would include some of the people who helped or thanks for a job that allows me to do this type of program, or thanks that it was a success, instead I am thankful for the things you could NEVER plan and could not have made happen.

As the event drew to a close, it was great to hear that people had enjoyed and appreciated the event. I admit I was feeling pretty good about what we had done and I was just about to sit down, take a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. As I poured my cup, I saw a woman and who I thought was probably her son, come into the auditorium as the tables were being cleared.

They had gotten lost and no, she was not the veteran, he was,.

All the extra food had been cleared from all the tables, but I encouraged them to at least sit down with me and have a cup of coffee. I found a server who would locate two more breakfasts and they agreed to stay. It seems he had not been out of the service long, but his 5 years in, and his deployments to Iraq had taken their toll. Here was a mom, trying to find that connection again, with a son, who had changed from seeing war up close.

For those of us sitting there, we wished we could offer more than an ear, when about that time, someone else came in late, only this is where you have to know that someone or should it be Someone, had a greater purpose for our little event.

The other late attendee, specializes in finding those resources, providing those needs, helping make those connections. She knew the right questions to ask, she quickly offered her services, and helped begin to build that bridge, that connection back, back for the family that once was.

How can you not be thankful for that?

As I said, Friday was also the anniversary of my little sister passing away. I was glad that the day had been so full and that I was so tired that I really had not had the time to sit and grieve and that did not dawn on me until late in the afternoon as I went to pick up my girls. As I sat at the  traffic light, I looked up right as this truck drove by.

I am thankful for things that I cannot control that work out so much better than I could ever plan. I am thankful for someone who cares enough to make these surprises, these unexpected things happen and makes me stop and take that moment to think, to feel, that I might have missed otherwise.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great things to be thankful for

Since I last sat down to write so much has happened to limit my thanks to the last three days will be difficult, but I will try.
I am thankful for my health. If you saw my medical history, you would probably wonder how I can still be here. It is long and complicated and more than once have had what the airlines call "near misses". There are plenty of things I would like to improve regarding my health, as my blood pressure, although in the normal range, is at the top of it, and the same holds for cholesterol and there are always pounds I would love to disengage myself from, so when I was offered the opportunity to participate in a special program at work to help combat these issues, I decided to take them up on it.
Yesterday I went for my initial consultation.
First the nurse asked what illnesses I had.
None that I could think of.
Then the nurse practitioner came in and asked the same thing.
I started wracking my brain trying to remember if there was something wrong with me.
Finally the doctor came in and said I probably did not qualify because I was healthy!
Got to love that! I am thankful for my good health!
Then as soon as I think I have the final details of my big program confirmed for Friday, it began to unravel.
When I exhausted all of my resources, I turned to my friends on Facebook. I should probably put friends in quotations so you know and understand the rest.
I am very thankful for friends that are always there and ready to pitch in, calling in favors for me, following up, and making sure I got it "fixed". The best part is that some of these friends I have never even met!
So while I am thankful for friends, this is not where I am going to comment on them, yet, but I want to say how thankful I am for friends I have never met!
At the end of some of these marathon type days at work, I find I am especially thankful for a nice, warm bed to provide the rest needed to make the next day even better.
It's not about sandwiches! It's about my life!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blessings for today

I've gotten into the habit of going to the grocery store on Sunday afternoons. I am still trying to plan a menu and meals that I can prepare somewhat in advance so our crazy evenings aren't any crazier than they have to be.

Today I chose Aldi, which in some ways makes you even more responsible for what you choose to buy as you know you are going to be handling it several times, in the basket, out for the checker, then you have to bag it and load it into your car. Then of course bringing it in and unpacking. I think if you go to a regular grocery store, maybe you don't have to get quite so personal with your food as others will handle it for you.

Anyway, we were studying about laying up treasures in heaven, rather than earth, and our tendency toward excess, and had this in mind, as I weighed the decision on each item that went into my basket,. What was needed and what was excess?

So this brings me to what I am thankful for today:

I am thankful that I can go to a grocery store that is fully stocked, with multiple choices, and I can buy what my family needs, not all that they want, but can buy not only what we need, but can also buy extra to fill the request from the local children's home and for veterans and their families who have fallen on hard times.

I am thankful that our stores have a wide variety of foods, the individual ingredients to cook from scratch, packaged products for when time or desire is short, and fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, and there is no line to get in, and I have the money to pay, not a card issued by the state, but money I earned.

I am especially thankful for these things because I am preparing them for those who have not always had these luxuries. As all who lived through the Great Depression (although my father says his family was already so poor they did not know it even happened), my parents were thrilled to get an orange as a Christmas present, not be able to buy large bags of them. Frozen food did not exist so vegetables in the winter came from a can or a jar when you canned yours that you grew. Meat was served only when an animal was slaughtered, with absolutely no part of it wasted. Families were large and times were lean and money was scarce.

I have never experienced true hunger. I rarely even feel hungry, but have never known hunger. For my daughters, hunger has been a reality, a part of their day to day lives, as it continues to be for so many throughout the world. The faces of those starving rarely make the evening news. I guess it doesn't bring in the ratings or is too disturbing. Instead our news focuses on those who have excess and the petty problems they face and it is called news.

I am truly thankful for the food, the variety, the sheer volume that is available for me and my family.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More things to be thankful for

Thank you to all who shared things you are thankful for. I'm sorry it doesn't show here, as they did it on Facebook.

But on with things I am thankful for:

I am thankful for the volunteers I work with every day and have for the last 10 years or so.

These are the most dedicated and hardest working people I have ever met. These people are reliable and trustworthy. When they say they will be there, they are. They work hard and receive very little in return. They fill a need that we could not afford to fill. I'm not sure how they ever found time to work with all the good things they do full time now. They take their job very seriously.

Sometimes you know someone for a very short time but realize how thankful you are for them very quickly.

Recently Grace has been teaching herself to play some new songs on her guitar. She plays each night, watching videos to teach her the chords. Annabel has also resumed her playing since we got her guitar repaired recently. Last year, we took advantage of the free lessons in our neighborhood, which got them started, but the required attendance of class 4 days a week was overwhelming this year with the load of homework they have each night.

I've been holding our purse strings so tight it was hard to make the decision to do it, but I learned about a new guitar teacher in the area who came highly recommended and felt that the initiative they were showing on teaching themselves deserved some help with a professional.

Grace's second lesson was yesterday but Annabel's was this morning.

She and I got up and ready to run out the door with just enough time to still get there and when I reached for the car keys realized they were not there. With all pointing fingers at each other, we soon had to acknowledge that the keys just were not here and probably had been left at mom and dad's from the previous evening.

I hated to do it but I called the teacher and told him we could not make it. I wasn't sure what his policy was on missing classes but before I had to find out, he volunteered to come to our house to teach the class.

Wow! I am thankful for our new guitar teacher!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


On Facebook during November most people post something they are thankful for each day.

I decided I would post mine on my blog instead.

You see, growing up, I really liked November, hate Fall, but like what all November represented with Thanksgiving, both of my sisters' birthdays, the arrival of the Christmas Sears Catalog, and two days off from school.

But five years ago that changed with the passing of my sister in November and for the last five years I have begun to dread November as early as August.

Last year something great happened in November though.

My first great niece was born and Isabel Rose made November get better. I'm not sure if her parents planned that but feel certain that God did.

This year in November, we have another exciting event, as another niece is getting married.

So finding something to be thankful for every day is getting easier than it has the last few years and since it is already the third day of November, I will tell you three, all of which became evident first thing this morning.

1. I am thankful for seat warmers. After a brutal summer, with record breaking heat, I was not sure if I could ever feel cool again, but as is usually true with Texas weather, we like to go to extremes and the temperature dropped rapidly last night. So this morning, in my very base package car, I am thrilled that seat warmers are considered part of the base package.

2. While driving my daughters to school, we came across a wreck where a car sat straddling the median, which made me think, I am thankful for all the 100's of safe trips we have had in our commute to school.

3. This might sound rather simple, but once I dropped the girls off at school I enjoy listening to the radio and I switch from a station that is all fluff to NPR, depending on how challenged I want my brain to be that morning. So I am thankful to have the radio and the varied stations we have available.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

People we miss

At this point in my life, it seems like I should be used to people coming in and out of my life.

BUT there is one person who is no longer in my life that I hate to admit, but I grieve for regularly AND it is my fault she is no longer a part of it.

This person was extra special to me. Every two weeks, she would come to see me. In preparation for her coming, I would always pick up and put things away, anxious for her arrival.

She seemed impervious to all the mess that I seemed able to create. In fact, she seemed to be challenged and invigorated by it.

She was the best. She did not even care if I was home when she came to see me. She was willing to come as often as I wanted her to.

She did not need to be entertained, fed, or cared for in any way.

She seemed like her sole purpose was to please me.

And I miss her terribly. Some days I think I will grab my cell phone and just call her and beg her to come back, even if she could come to see me just once a month! At least that one day my house would be clean. About the same time I break down and reach for the phone though, some unexpected bill or repair or school cost comes up.

You see there was only one thing she ever wanted from me. She did expect to be paid. There just aren't a lot of people who want to come and clean your house for free.

Boy, do I miss her today!