Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #63

A Year of Gratitude #63: Pedicures 

 It's been getting warmer and warmer here in Atlanta, and as a result, I've been wearing my flip-flops more. I've been embarrassed to admit it, but it was time to go and get a pedicure.

I tried to remember the last time I had one, and I think it's been about EIGHT MONTHS. It was definitely time... and I was sort of embarrassed to go today and get one, but I figured, I'd be paying good money, and if they didn't like it, they shouldn't be in that business (right???). 

Not only did it feel amazing to have my feet rubbed and massaged, but my calluses are gone and my heels are smooth and soft. I'm not embarrassed to show my feet anymore.

A Year of Gratitude #62

A Year of Gratitude #62: Grandma Ghrist's Milkshakes

When I was a kid, we'd go over to my grandparents' house and have dinner with them on a weekly basis. Every Saturday was dinner with them (usually pizza) and we'd always ask if we could spend the night. We lived less than a mile from them, and it was very convenient for us to just stay.

My Grandma Ghrist ALWAYS said, "Ask your mother." when we'd ask if we could spend the night. She NEVER said no... and I don't remember my parents ever saying no. 

Spending the night at her house was ALWAYS a treat. Seriously. We would stay up playing cards... either Go Fish or Old Maid. We would read together, watch television together, and laugh. But the greatest thing about staying the night there was that she would make us the most delicious vanilla milkshakes.

She had the blender holder built into her counter (does that make sense?). She'd just open the metal cover and put the blender pitcher onto the blender part. She always added vanilla extract and Karo syrup, milk, and vanilla bean ice cream. That was it. 

I don't know how she did it, but everything that we liked that she made, she ALWAYS had on hand to make for us. I don't remember her ever not having something and needing to get it from the store. She was ALWAYS prepared for anything.

I decided to get some vanilla ice cream and make shakes for us. Steve wanted Oreos in his... and while he liked it, he said it was too sweet. I made mine according to how it's SUPPOSED to be made and hoped that it would taste close to how my Grandma's shakes tasted.

Not only did it takes incredibly close, it even smelled the same (I think it's the Karo syrup). It brought back so many happy memories and made me shed a tear. Gus was only allowed a few sips... but he approved as well. I'm eager to see what kind of things my mom and Sue Ann make for my kids when they start spending alone time with them. 

A Year of Gratitude #61

A Year of Gratitude #61: A Husband Who Knows Me So Well

I am not going to go into a lot of detail on this, but I am so thankful that Steve knows me as well as he does. He knows how to read my body language and signals that I send. I do things (unintentionally) and he is able to pick up on what I'm doing, and knows if he should back off or make me talk.

I tend to get rather withdrawn and quiet... almost looking depressed, when I'm PMSing. After the fact he'll say, "I knew it..." and when I ask how he knew, he always says, "You get moody, withdrawn, and sad." I'm thankful that he's aware of me enough to know what I do when it's PMS time.

I'm also grateful that he knows exactly how to help me deal with my moods and he knows just what to do and say.

A Year of Gratitude #60

A Year of Gratitude #60: My Cousin Terri

My cousin Terri is my dad's sister Ellene's middle daughter. Terri is married to Chuck and has two kids, Nick and Natalie. Nick is married to a Natalie and they have two kids, Alex and Jack. Nick's sister Natalie is still in high school (I think she's a senior).

Anyway, I grew up seeing Terri and Nick all the time. She is older than me by like 15 years or so, and while she wasn't old enough to be like an aunt, she was too old to be like a sibling. So yes, we're cousins, but my relationship with her is totally different than the relationship with cousins my own age.

Terri is good at so many things, but the one area that I think she's so very very gifted in... is dogs. She knows dogs unlike ANYONE I've ever met. She trains them, and is very good at what she does. She's able to identify any dog just from looking at them. She's fascinating.

Well... now that Elphie is gone, we're a single-dog household and actually enjoying the sense of peace and calm that has returned to our lives. We've had Ned since 2005 and long before there was a Gus. When Gus came into the picture, Elphie entered at the same time. Literally.

So while Gus threw our world upside down, so did having Elphie. As we've figured out the parenting thing, we've adjusted to being dual dog owners. While Elphie was incredible at keeping Gus entertained, she was a lot to deal with, and even more so when we moved. Her constant escaping and digging up the yard were too much for us. Now that she's on the farm (and quite happy I'll add), we've had time to sit back and just say, "Ahhhhh."

Gus still looks for her and says, "Where'd she go?" while calling "Ayeeee....sheeeee." It's hearbreaking. I know he loved that little dog more than anyone and he misses her.

So we've decided that when Ned is no longer with us, we'll get another dog, and this one will be Gus's dog. We're thinking anywhere from two to five years from now. So yes, we've got some time before this happens.

I sent Terri a FB message asking if she'd be willing to help us and she said to give her a call. I did and we talked for about an hour. She was so helpful and gave me a whole list of things to do before we look... including contacting our insurance to see if there are breeds that they won't cover. 

She said when it's time for us to get serious about looking for a dog, she'll put out her feelers, get in touch with some of her contacts, and see what she can find for us. I did a dog compatibility test online and it said the best matches for what we're looking for were: Doberman Pincher, Corgi, Samoyed, and Pit Bull. I've taken it again and it added the Bulldog and some mixed "designer" breeds as well.

Terri suggested a Collie (not a Border Collie), Dobie, Vizchla, Corgie, and Burmese Mountain Dog. She also said the Samoyed, and Australian Shepherd were good dogs as well. 

I'm thankful to have Terri there to help us when the time is right. So many people go into adopting a dog and go with their hearts and not their heads. She gave me a lot of suggestions when it's time and I'm grateful for her superior knowledge in this area!!

A Year of Gratitude #59

A Year of Gratitude #59: My faith

I was raised Catholic and went to mass weekly with my mom. I went to religious formation classes as a kid and enjoyed them, though, looking back, I wish I had paid more attention.

I went through a phase when I went to college, where I questioned my religion, and was curious about what else was out there. My beliefs never wavered during this period of religious exploration. 

I went to a Pentecostal church, a Methodist church, a Baptist church, and a Lutheran church and lastly, a non-denominational church. Each new experience brought upon more and more questions, but yet, I still longed for more. I never had that "I'm at home" feeling.

If I'm being 100% honest, I STILL haven't found that feeling anywhere. However, that being said, I cannot deny my beliefs... or more simply put, my faith.

I know what I believe and I know what I feel in my heart. I KNOW there is a God and I believe adamantly in the holy trinity. I am most assuredly a Christian and believe that Jesus was sent to Earth to die for my sins, and the sins of mankind. He knew why he was sent here, and loved us so much that he let God's will be done without bucking the system. 

I thank my mother for always instilling in me a solid sense of what is right and wrong, and for always helping to lay the foundation of my own faith. She is my most trusted spiritual advisor, and I am thankful that she's in my life, not only as my mom, but in this capacity as well.

When I am having moral issues, or questions about my beliefs versus what the Church says I should believe... I go to her. I hope to be as solid of a role model with my children, as she is with me.

There's never been a time in my life that I didn't know the Holy Trinity. I've always known that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are apart of my life in equally profound ways. And even when I've considered leaving the Catholic Church, my convictions and beliefs haven't changed.

I don't think I need to drill it into Gus's head that he's a Christian. In fact, I don't know what he is... he'll get to decide that for himself when he's old enough. Until that time, it's our job as his parents, to give him a foundation and help him know God. I want him to know that he is special, that God loves him, and that Jesus and The Holy Spirit are always there for him.

I sometimes get sad when I think about friends and family members that don't have the same beliefs that I have, because I honestly think they're missing out on something wonderful. However, everyone is allowed to do as they so choose, and if they don't want a relationship with God, that's their right. 

I am just thankful and full of gratitude that even though I don't agree with what my "religion" says... I know in my heart what my spiritual beliefs are. And to me, they're more important than anything any Church could tell me to believe.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #58

A Year of Gratitude #58: Playdates

I'm not going to write much about this, but I'm so thankful to have playdates to attend. Not only do they get me out of the house, but it's great to see Gus playing with other kids his age, and watching him learn things that I can't teach him.

I'm thankful to have met the moms that I've met in MOMS Club. What a wonderful group of women. They're so warm, welcoming, and friendly and I'm truly grateful to have their support. 

It's never fun to move to a new place and not know a soul... but I was hopeful that I'd be able to find my niche and settle into a routine. I never thought it'd happen so soon. We've been here almost three months and I feel more at home here than I ever did in NC. 

Don't get me wrong, I miss my friends from NC, but I feel like this is where I am meant to be.

It's a comforting thought and I'm grateful that I feel this way and that I have met people that I can call friends.

A Year of Gratitude #57

A Year of Gratitude #57: Grandparents

For the past two weekends in a row, we've been blessed to spend time with Steve's dad. He came down by himself last weekend, and then this past weekend came back with Sue Ann.

I grew up less than a mile from my grandparents on my dad's side. When I was young, my Grandma Burney (my mom's mom) lived on her own, but then she eventually ended up moving in with my Grandma and Grandpa Ghrist (my dad's parents). For as long as I can remember, I'd go over and all my grandparents were there together.

We celebrated holidays together. We were over there every Saturday for pizza. Being there with them was just something that we always did and I loved it. I knew them, loved them, valued them, and appreciated them.

When my Grandpa Ghrist passed away, I was in high school and had not quite faced the facts that my grandparents weren't going to always be there. His death hit me very hard and I can vividly remember being "okay" through the viewing and the funeral, but at the grave-site, I lost it. The physical being that was him was gone, and I'd never see him on this Earth again. It was a hard reality to face and I found it so difficult to leave the cemetery.

His death brought me closer to my grandmas. I made sure to see them more, to call, to send post cards on trips, and to always make sure that they knew how important they were to me.

When I went through my divorce in 2002, I kinda "fell off the planet" and didn't spend as much time with either of them that I should have. It's one of my greatest regrets... I wish I had gone to see them more. 

My Grandma Burney's health started to fail and my mom and Scott (my twin brother) were doing things for her that no child or grandchild should have to do... and yet they did it without complaining. I should have stepped up to help them, but I was swimming in my own world... truly lost.

My dad's sister Ellene basically is an evil person. She managed to talk my Grandma Ghrist into kicking my Grandma Burney out of her house. There's more to it, but that's it in a nutshell. So my mom had to find a place to "put" her mother... and it ended up being a convalescent home.

Whatever you picture when you think of a convalescent home... that's what she lived in. There were lonely old people "dumped" off by their families. Thankfully, my Aunt Mary was so supportive and helpful in getting my Grandma Burney into the place that she was, and the staff knew that she was my aunt's mother. She was treated kindly.

My mom and Scott went to the nursing home daily. I went when I could, but it was extremely hard to go and see her "stuck" in there with people who were sad, alone, and out of their right minds.

It killed my Grandma Ghrist to ask my Grandma Burney to leave. It didn't take long for my Grandma Burney to pass after being separated from her best friend. She passed on November 1.

When she passed away, it was so hard to face. I think it was even worse because I was old enough to have really made some incredible memories with her. I hurt for my own loss, but more so for the loss that my mom was dealing with.

I'll never forget the terrible cries that came from my Grandma Ghrist when she walked into the funeral home for the viewing of my Grandma Burney. It was heart-breaking.

Three months after my Grandma Burney passed, my Grandma Ghrist passed. I am still not over either of their deaths. They were so influential in my life and made such a mark on who I am.

I'm thankful for the time I had with them and thankful that my parents made sure to raise us with them in our lives. My parents always told us, "Grandparents are special and should always be treated as such." We loved them, cared about them, and valued them.

The time spent with them was priceless. As a result of this style of parenting, I make it a priority to make sure that Gus's grandparents, all of them, feel like they're special and appreciated.

I want him to grow up knowing them, loving them, and cherishing them like I did with my grandparents. It's hard being so far from all of them, but I feel like Steve and I are doing a good job of staying connected (either by visits, phone calls, or texts and Facebook).

After spending this weekend with Steve's dad and Sue Ann, and watching them spoil Gus, play with him, and just adore him, I'm so thankful to have a foundation started for Gus like I had with my grandparents.

As my parents always said, "Grandparents are special people." I look forward to many many more visits together, and memories to be made with them. Gus is loved by so many, and I want him to be able to look back on his childhood and say that the most influential people in his life (besides us), were his grandparents.

A Year of Gratitude #56

A Year of Gratitude #56: My Camera

I'm thankful that I have my Canon. I never thought in a million years, that I'd love photography as much as I do! I guess it's just one of the many passions that I've discovered since Gus happened.

I'm thankful that my dad trusted me with his fancy-schmancy Nikon for a few months back in September of 2010. They came down for Labor Day and we went to the beach and I loved his camera. He let me "borrow" it for a few months (until November) and I had the perfect subject... sweet baby Gus.

I look back on those first few months of using his camera and I love how "green" I was. Everything was with the flash on!

I'm thankful that Steve bought me my Canon for my birthday that year. It's perfect for a beginning photographer and as time has passed, I've developed the need/desire for other lenses. I actually have two that I'm hoping to get sometime in 2012.

While it's not the camera that makes a picture great (it's the photographer's eye and ability to capture the right moment on film)... having a great camera and awesome lenses doesn't hurt!

I'm thankful that Kristen and Thom trusted me enough to take their family pictures. It was a wonderful experience taking their pictures and it was awesome that Grace already knew me... it made it an enjoyable photo shoot.

When Michelle asked me to take her labor/delivery pictures, I was so flattered. It was the second time that someone trusted me with cherished moments. It's one thing to take pictures for yourself, but when someone else asks, it's incredible.

While the labor/delivery wasn't possible, I am so honored that I was able to take June's pictures at the hospital, and here at my house at a week old.

I don't know where the future will take me in regards to my photography passion, but I'm thankful for those who support me, who lift me up with their kind words and feedback, and for those who trust me to take pictures of their family.