You already know that I believe happiness is a choice, right?
It's hard to pick the two things I'm most thankful for today because there are so many.
- I'm thankful for Strite's Orchard. We went to their Farm Market this morning and bought a car-full of tomatoes, green beans, and fresh grapes. Joe is canning as I type.
- I'm thankful for my Grandma's recipes. Chili sauce, apple butter, spaghetti sauce, pickled beets - these are the foods of my childhood, and they were all homemade by my Grandma and my Mom. Grandma gave them to us so that
Joewe could carry on those traditions. If you've never eaten homemade chili sauce, you are missing out. It's almost like salsa, but with an altogether different flavor.
- I'm thankful for the microwave. Do you remember your home without a microwave? I remember when my parents got their first one; I was about five. They still have it, in fact.
- I'm thankful for evening mealtimes. We make it a point to eat together, at the dinner table, every evening. Sometimes it seems like a pain, but it's important enough to Joe and I to work through the inconvenience.
- I'm thankful for family weekends. We don't spend every single minute together on the weekends, but, for the most part, it's family time. We invite the grandparents and our good friends over on Sundays for dinner. Occasionally, something else comes up (like the big county fair tomorrow), but that's rare. I love spending the hours with my husband and our lively kiddo.
- I'm thankful for Penn State Saturdays. Joe graduated from Penn State in 1992; I graduated from Penn State in 2001. We both have been serious Penn State football fans since our undergraduate days. One of our first dates was the Penn State - Purdue game in 2004, and we soon spent every Saturday together, watching the football games. I can't remember a game we spent apart in the last four years.
- I am thankful for independence. You already know, Dear Reader, that Grace is an independent child. Last night, Joe and I were working in the kitchen, and we opened the patio door so that Grace could play outside on the deck. In a few minutes' time, she had descended the deck stairs, found her Cozy Coupe, and dragged it out into the yard. I was proud that she took the initiative to get what she wanted.
- I am also thankful for dependence. Once Grace got her Coupe where she wanted it, she sat down inside and yelled. When no one came, she yelled some more. It's nice that she's doing things on her own, but it's also nice to be needed.
- I am thankful for deep friend Oreos. No explanation needed.
- I am thankful for the understanding that comes with being a true friend. One of my girlfriends had a baby in July. I kept my distance as she and her husband adjusted to their new life. She kept her distance from me because she was struggling with postpartum depression. We ran into each other today, and both explained why we hadn't called. She was glad for her space, and I was happy to have not interfered. Now that things are better for her, I know we'll be as close as before.
- I'm thankful for my MacLaren Triumph stroller. It was ridiculously expensive, but it is wonderful to push, to steer, and (apparently) to ride in. I use it several times a week.
- I'm thankful for email. I love "talking" to my friends who are all over the world with just a few keystrokes.
- I'm already losing track of what I've already covered. I'm thankful for Oprah. Her new season starts tomorrow, and I can't wait. I Tivo Oprah every single day. Love her and her show.
- I'm thankful for sick days. Joe has a high fever, and he can stay home and rest instead of going to work and hauling wheelbarrow loads of concrete around.
- I'm thankful for over-the-counter medicine. Grace has the same high fever her dad has, and we've been alternating between Tylenol and Children's Motrin every few hours. She's so miserable, and she doesn't understand what's going on. The meds have been keeping her a little more comfortable than she would have been otherwise, and it allowed all of us to get some rest.
- I'm thankful for L.L.Bean totebags. I carry my junk around in them everywhere.
- I'm thankful that we taught Grace some sign language. Drink, more, eat. We're working on help. Those signs have saved all of us a great deal of frustration.
- I'm thankful that I made Grace a CD of lullabies when she was just born. We've played those songs almost every night of her life, and they mean bedtime to all of us.
- I'm thankful for itch cream. For real. I was recently diagnosed with urticaria, which sora explained why I'm itchy. All. The. Time. Itchy, itchy, itchy. Claritin and itch cream give me a bit of relief, and I'm glad, even if it's temporary.
- I'm thankful for Elmo. Grace loves him. I mean, she worships him. She likes him as much as she likes birdies.
- I'm thankful for freedom. I was discussing life in China with someone who visited there this summer. It's amazing the liberties we take for granted. America is a great place to live.
- I'm thankful for the Crockpot. Joe put supper in it this morning, and we ate yummy beef stew this evening. Love that.
- I'm thankful for my mom. I called her this afternoon to say, "Grace has a strange rash all over her body. Can you come over and look at it?" She came. She said "Hm, I don't know what it is," but she came nonetheless. Moral support, right?
- I'm thankful for Harry & David's green apple licorice. Candy is emotional eating at its best. They're delicious. I have a serious sweet tooth and an affinity for fake green apple flavor.
- I'm thankful for Poise pads. Let's not get into those details.
- I'm thankful for music. Even when Gracie is sick, she will smile and dance if there's some good music playing. It cheers her up.
- I'm thankful for Twitter. I love being able to talk to people who are similar to myself and people who are different from me. It's also been a great resource for growing this blog.
- I'm thankful for Weight Watchers. I lost about 30 pounds this year. I fell off the wagon over the summer, but I'm back. I'm working on losing more.
- I'm thankful for Wii. I haven't been so excited about a video game since I was twelve and got my first Nintendo.
- I'm thankful for my Prego Pals. I have known them since we all became pregnant, and I love them. They are, honestly, some of my best girl friends.
- I'm thankful for the medical community. I've been having an issue for a little while, and I have a doctor who is trying to help me. There aren't any answers yet, but at least there's hope.
- I'm thankful that Joe puts Grace to bed most nights. I love sitting with her in the rocking chair, but when she's too wound up, I can't get her to calm down. He does a really good job.
- I'm thankful for eggplant parmesan. It's definitely one of my favorite meals ever, and Joe made it for supper tonight. yum!
- I'm thankful for my Dust Buster. Toddlers make lots of little messes, and our Dust Buster gets used so often that we never bother to put it away. Unless company shows up at the door. But then, we usually shove it somewhere out of sight and still don't put it away.
- I'm thankful for my cellular telephone. Do you remember what we did before cell phones? We stopped at phone booths. The horror!
- I'm thankful that Grace is cute. People excuse a lot of her outrageous toddler behavior because she's adorable. Instead of saying, "Hey, would you control your kid?" they say "What a doll!"
- I'm thankful for the guy at the York Fair who was selling personalized CDs. We got a CD for Grace with Elmo singing and talking to her. It has her name all through it, and she gets so excited every time we play it that she shakes. It might have been the best $30 we ever spent.
- I'm thankful for my dishwasher. Who wants to stand around washing dishes? Not me.
- I'm thankful that someone invented hot pepper jelly. I never ate it before this summer, but it is delicious. I love it. I'm going to figure out how to make it one of these days, too, but for now, I'm happy to just eat it.
- I'm thankful for vaccinations. My kid gets sick all the time. Far too often, in my opinion. I hate that she's sick so much, and these are just normal little kid viruses and infections. As much as I hate to see Grace in misery following her shots, I am glad that they protect her from the big stuff, like chicken pox and meningitis.
- I'm so very thankful that my dad stayed home on 9/11/01. He was scheduled to be at the top of one of the World Trade Centers, but the parts he needed to install didn't arrive on time. Instead, I had breakfast with him on my way to work.
- While I'm talking about my dad, I'm thankful that a kind stranger did found and used a AED and then performed CPR on him for a half hour when he had his heart attack. He's had some close calls, that man, but he's pulled through. It makes my heart smile to see him with Gracie.
- I'm thankful for our local Chinese buffet. We love that place. It's nice to be able to run down the street when we've all had long days.
- I'm thankful for Entrecard. It's great free advertising, and the Entrecard website has linked me up with some awesome blogs and bloggers. Win, win, the whole way around.
- I'm thankful that I've never known the kind of oppression I read about in A Thousand Splendid Suns.
- I'm thankful for my super cool Built lunch bag. It's made of neoprene, and it stretches to fit whatever I put inside. What's not to love?
- I'm thankful that Grace is feeling better. Hallelujah! She's still spotted like a leopard, but the fever is gone and the other symptoms have improved.
- I'm thankful for the kindness of strangers. No special reason, just thankful.
- I'm thankful that all of the local grocery stores have car carts.
- I'm thankful that Grace is ignorant enough of the world to be unafraid. She will become worldly and wise too soon.
- I'm thankful for flip flops. I hate wearing shoes. Maybe I should move to somewhere warm so that I can wear flip flops all year round.
- I'm thankful for teachable moments. My students and I spent a lot of time today talking about hurricanes. They were enthralled. Even though hurricanes weren't on my lesson plan for today, my kids were interested and wanting to learn. They asked awesome questions, and we even pulled up pictures of Katrina and Ike to compare them.
- I'm thankful to live on top of a hill in Pennsylvania. We don't have floods or hurricanes. The occasional tornado blows through, but we've also been fortunate in that department.
- I'm thankful for my Pampered Chef stoneware. Joe has eggplant cutlets baking on the Large Bar pan right now. I can't wait to eat them. They'll be delightful.
- I'm thankful that the September 11 footage stays buried for 364 days a year. I watch a tribute video today. It made me physically sick. I don't want to forget, but I don't want to watch it again, either.
- I'm thankful that we live in a nation where one Presidential nominee is a black man, and the other is running with a woman. It's a great year for people who aren't white men, regardless of your political slant.
- I'm thankful for Saturday morning breakfast. For longer than I can remember, my little sister and I have had breakfast at a local restaurant with our dad on Saturday mornings. For a little while, we went more often. These days, my mom, husband, and baby join us. Good times.
- I'm thankful for my blog. I love writing, and I love attention. Can you tell? Blogging is the perfect hobby/business for me.
- I'm thankful that I grew up in the country. You know, like in the middle of the woods where children play with mice and ducks instead of toys and pee in the outhouse in the yard. I'm a little sad that Grace will miss out on those experiences.
- I'm thankful for patience. I'm absolutely impatient 99% of the time, about everything. But when it comes to Grace, I have the patience of a saint. It doesn't matter how many times she shrieks or how many fits she throws, I don't lose my temper.
- I'm thankful that my husband cooks our dinner most days.
- I'm thankful for hugs. This evening, Grace picked up my hand and put it on her back and hugged me. I melted into a puddle of weepy, happy goo on the couch.
- I'm thankful for hot water. I love taking a loooong hot shower in the morning. I comb conditioner through my hair and stand under the luxurious spray. I know it's not the most environmentally friendly thing in the world, but long showers are a special treat in my life.
- I'm thankful for our CSA. You would not believe the bounty we brought home from Spiral Path today. It was a carload. Joe will be processing tomatoes for most of the weekend, but that means we'll have homemade spaghetti sauce for the next six months or more. All it cost us was the gas to get there (about 95 miles, roundtrip).
- I'm thankful for my dust buster. Kids make messes. Cats make messes. Moms and Dads make messes. Our Dust Buster gets a real workout, every day.
- I'm thankful for laughter. I don't remember what we were laughing about, but Joe and I laughed like hyenas this morning. It feels good to laugh.
- I'm thankful for Gracie's blanket. There's a post in the works about her blanket. Joe just told me that it's like a sleep switch. As soon as she has it in her hands, she goes right out.
Things I love*
I love cats, especially my own four. I love to listen to saxophone music, country music, and jazz. I love to watch tv. I love Penn State. I love flowers, bright and cheery, especially when they're still connected to the plant that created them. I love Mountain Dew and Mango Bangos. I love to eat, but I love losing weight more. I love to read books and magazines. I love baby animals. I love to write. I love scrapbooking, digitally and on paper. I love love love taking pictures. I love garlic and onions, except when they're on someone else's breath. I love my laptop and the internet it connects me to. I love going out for breakfast. I LOVE shopping, especially with a good friend. I love sleeping. I love getting mail, packages and letters and cards. I love french fries and fried zucchini dipped in ranch dressing. I love being a student. I love to go swimming. I love picnics. I love personalized stuff. I love peanut butter-filled donuts, peanut butter pie, and cheesecake. I love bright, energetic colors like red and lime green and hot pink and electric blue and royal purple. I love the sound of babies laughing. I love TiVo. I love the person I've become in the last couple of years, mostly calm and self assured. I love kindness. I love making lists. I love planning big holiday dinners and then executing my plan. I love board games and Wii and card games. I love air conditioning. I love la langue franÃƒ§ias. I love jewelry and clocks. I love buffalo chicken, though not wings. I love watching animals go about their business. I love loooong, hot showers. I love being alone with my thoughts in a quiet space. I love going on cruises. I love the sound of running water. I love homemade salad dressing, especially red wine vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette. I love Skinny Cow fudge bars. I love talking to girlfriends about nothing. I love thunderstorms and the sound of rain. I love presents. I love high thread count sheets, especially when they're right out of the dryer. I love being the center of attention and telling funny stories. I love fancy stationary. I love soft fabric. I love traveling and sightseeing - and sleeping in my own bed. I love heartily laughing. I love cheese. I love warm brownies a la mode. I love Saturdays. I love getting a good deal. I love pecan pie. I love ceiling fans and a cool breeze in the summer. I love pedicures. I love to sit in the sun on a warm spring day. I love flip flops. I love children's books. I love tattoos. I love LOL-Cats and the Northern Sun catalog. I love email. I love Fruity Pebbles with soy milk. I love eggnog. I love summer nights, when it's cool but not cold. I love fancy restaurants. I love Paris. I love staying up late and sleeping in. I love peace and serenity and giddy happiness.
*The rules, according to The Love List Challenge: You can't include a single person you know on your list. No "I love the way my husband laughs" or "I love hearing my little girl call for me." It'll be tough, I know. (Think about it, I couldn't include GRACIE on my list.) But this particular little exercise is about stripping away everyone who defines you and figuring out what you (not his partner; not their mother/daughter/sister/friend) love.