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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Notice the Gifts: Long Lazy Weekend Edition

Today, I spent the whole day with Flanna-banana, and we had great fun.  We found a bed on Craigslist for our guest room (yay!), and the woman selling it was so kind and lives just down from Flanna's school, and let Flanna pet her dogs, which Flannery just loved.  Then we went shopping and had some spare keys made and got some new running shoes (on super sale!) for us girls. Later, we set up a kiddie pool in the back yard, and we met with the new baby-sitter who's going to be picking Flanna up from school a few days a week.  Tonight, we ordered yummy Indian food from down the street and ate it while watching the UGA game.  And now I'm listening to Flanna playing with her train while Robi watches the game (which must be going well by the loud way he's watching!).  

Things are settling down and hopefully we'll have a good routine here soon.  The hardest thing is juggling work and parenthood in a new place when we don't yet have a support system in place.  It's amazing the little things we take for granted when we have them (like trusted babysitters and cousins and grandparents and friends across the street!).  But I know by this time next year, our support system and network will be huge, so I'm trying not to rush it.  

Anyway, this week I noticed so many little gifts!  I took a photo of a few, but not all:

27.  the wind blowing through our open windows at night as we fall asleep
28.  fresh cut grass that the gardener takes care of every week (so luxurious!)
29.  sweet people at the park who let Flannery love on their kind dogs
30.  listening to Flanna chat all silly with her older cousin on the phone
31.  photos texted like a little surprise peek into the lives of my family
32.  fluffy clouds in the sky (we don't get many of them here, so we treasure them when they are here!)
33.  the smell of the lavender growing in our yard
34.  working alongside such a dedicated and caring team of teachers and special educators that all work hard to make parents feel at home in our schools
35.  the little boost of pride I feel when I can actually complete a gazillion phone calls in Spanish and not confuse anyone too horribly
36.  my tech-savvy husband who sets up our internet and TV and keeps our home functioning smoothly no matter what technological learning he has to do. 

37.  a built-in shelf in my shower.  I've never had one of those before!

38.  Vanilla lotion from Prague.  Cause that's just how we roll.  (Thanks to my West Coast BFF!)

39.  A cool bathroom window that opens upside down and allows for privacy and fresh air, so I don't have to use that stressful loud bathroom vent/fan.  So nice!

What gifts have you noticed and named this week? Has it helped you live a bit more in the moment?  I'm hoping it's cultivating a habit of thankfulness in me.  

Our Life in Pictures: Peach Pie

Yum!  We made peach pie with the peaches from our tree.  I also froze some peaches for later.  We had so many!  Flannery loved making the pie, and loved the whipped cream on top, but didn't actually turn out to be a fan of the peach pie itself.  No problem--more for me!   :)  

What do you make from scratch or home-made that you just love?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Naming Gifts Saved Me from a Stress-Induced Funk

Today, I was folding clothes, and I found this adorable teal corduroy doll jacket with a bear embroidered on it amidst the socks.  And I named it as a gift and gave thanks for:

#26 - Finding tiny doll clothes in with the laundry. 

Appreciating that tiny jacket made me smile.  Which made me stop worrying for a moment.  (FYI - I'm in the thick of trying to scramble to find after-school care for Flanna with zero notice whatsoever!  Deep breaths, deep breaths. :)  )  Which made me realize how tense my shoulders had been before that.  Which made me realize what a crazy person I am sometimes for getting so wrapped up in the things I can't control.  Which pulled me out of a stress-induced funk.

So, there you have it.

That is how naming gifts saved me today.

What has saved you from a stress induced funk lately?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Share in the Wonder: 1,000 gifts my daughter helps me see

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he or she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in."  -- Rachel Carson

Some days it's easier than others to share in the wonder of the world we live in.  Today was a busy and long day, but I'm thankful for many things, and especially the way my perspective is improved when I try to look at things through the eyes of my sweet girl.  

Here are some gifts I name today: 

17.  our cool giant sized washer and dryer that are actually fun to watch
 (at least to me and Flanna!) and save me hours and hours of laundry drudgery!
18.  Art supplies that survived a trip through the desert. 
19.  What we thought at first were really bad plums growing in the back yard,
which actually turned out to be really tasty nectarines!  :) 
20.  An impromptu picnic dinner
21.  The mystery of a home-maade fort

22.  diligence at work in our rock garden
23.  striped shadows falling on water balloons

24.  a husband who is playful and good-natured
25.  the light on my daughter's face in a little window
seat she scouted out at a restaurant

What child brings you a bit of wonder here and there?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

11.  her beautiful bedroom suite from
Aunt Kathy & Uncle Mark, & coverlet from Grandma

Flannery's room is coming along.  Just when I think I have it organized, I walk in and everything is all mixed up in a big heap, but her Raggedy Ann doll is teaching school and all of the Barbies are listening and having a snack of pretend food from her kitchen set, and so I really do understand why she needs all of the bins from her closet and under her bed out all at once.

Sometimes I look around at her room and try to take it all in, with her tiny treasures laying around and so many sweet toys and books.  Too soon, I know the toys will be left behind for more grown-up pursuits.  But, ah, for now, they are loved and mixed up and made into messes daily.  And that is a gift.  

12.  How Curious George books get a laugh out of Flanna, even now as she's almost 7. 

13.  Jelly cat (Flanna's favorite gift from when she turned one)
 hanging out in the American Girl doll bathtub. 

14.  The care and precision Flanna took repairing the floor of her Barbie
kitchen, which was damaged in the move, with cute black & white checked duct tape.  

15.  tiny fingers playing with my old Holly Hobby doll house
cast iron stove and wooden table/chair set.

16.  The tiny easel Flannery found and set up in the
Barbie nursery.    

What do you love best about your home, that makes you feel like this is the place you really belong? 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Experience Nature: 1000 Gifts in my Own Backyard

Our little back yard is really special.  It's a neat shape and has cool fruit trees and shade and flowers and even trees the right distance apart to hold our hammock.  These are the things I am thankful for today.

2.  Our peach tree, heavy laden with ripe and wonderful peaches.

3.  the late bloom of a hydrangea, which reminds me of the
South and makes me feel more at home.

4.  this neat flower which I cannot name, but I think my mom has them  in her yard in FL,
and it makes me feel closer to her when I look at them.  

5.  The brick and wood fence that stretches along the side of our yard
and reminds me of our Pulaski St. garden back in Athens.

6.  Flannery's easel set up in our garage, some beauty amidst the unpacking mess.  
7.  sidewalk chalk that doesn't disappear for ages -- since it never rains here!
8.  my thoughtful and industrious husband who saves us from
the yellow jackets but protects our honey bees.  

9.  my daughter running toward me when I come outside from doing
 laundry.  She bubbles over with wonder. 

10.  a camping hammock on a quiet lazy afternoon

What are you grateful for that you can find right in your own back yard? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Notice the Gifts, and Name Them

1.  A flowering vine that grows by Flannery's bedroom window.
The buds look like little pyramids before they bloom.  
I read a book a few months ago, and at the time, it didn't seem all that ground-breaking.  It was called "1,000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, and it was about how Ann Voskamp changed her life by making a list of the gifts she noticed each day, on a dare by one of her friends to write down 1,000 gifts she was thankful for.  It was a neat book, but I didn't think it was life-changing for me at the time I read it.

But, as I have been unpacking here in California, starting from scratch to refill bare walls, and repopulate the medicine cabinet, and reorganize our linen closet, and recreate a feeling of belonging in our nervous little hearts, the words I read have come back to me over and over.  Like these lines:

"I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives."  -- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

"Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow." -- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

"Every breath's a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy."  --Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Of course, I know that thankfulness is well-documented in the happiness literature as important in happiness. But the idea of making thankfulness a habit, of cultivating in myself a noticing of small gifts each day, and in so doing, opening myself to the present moment more (and thereby to God, who is "I Am," and not "I was", or "I will be"), the idea that thankfulness can be crafted into a habit of being, is really interesting to me.

And so, because I know that moving puts me in a delicate place, happiness-wise, and that starting over in a new place and figuring out how things work in a new routine is always a drain on the energy I have for living my life intentionally, I am challenging myself-- this year, in this new place, with picture frames to-be-hung still stacked against the living room wall and so much left to do and sigh about-- to list the gifts.  To specifically name the beautiful and amazing things in my life each day.

Until I reach 1,000.

What fun!  Will you join me?