Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Reflections

I took this picture the other night...captivated by the reflection of the tree in the window.  I loved the imagery...especially since I've been so reflective lately.

This time of year can be so magical.  The children's excitement and wonder are contagious.  The decorations and lights remind us of this special month.  The reason for the season can inspire us to grow closer with God and journey further into relationship with Him.  But for some, this time of year can be hard.  Really hard. 

The last few days my mind has been filled with thoughts and prayers for friends who, during this holiday season, are struggling in relationships, praying loved ones through surgeries and illnesses, and mourning the loss of loved ones or the loss of relationships that once brought them joy.

And, if all of that isn't enough,  a tragedy occurred yesterday...something so incredibly sad that caused me to pause in the middle of my crazy, running-out-of-control day to hug my children a little tighter and to tell my husband just how much I love him and appreciate him.

The tragedy didn't affect our family directly.  But it was someone Animesh and I both knew.  And the story that surrounds this situation is heart-breaking.  Out of respect for this family I won't share details.  Let's just say that it is so very, very sad.

I write all of this not to be a "debbie-downer" at Christmastime but out of my belief that we experience difficulties and tragedies occur for reasons we may or may not understand on earth.  Personally, I believe that God has opened my eyes to these situations in order that I may cling to Him more tightly and worship Him more as I stand firm in my belief that He is the One True God who reigns over all the earth....even during difficult times.

Emmanuel.  God is with us.  No matter what.

And THAT is a Christmas message to be joyful about.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

It's party day today...and one last 1/2 day tomorrow before the break.

And we're ready for the holidays...complete with mild, comfortable
Yes, Christmastime in Texas suits me just fine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmastime in Texas

My favorite lines in the song:
"There may not be snow...
in San Antonio...
but it's a Texas Christmas
to me!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

It was a....

....hot chocolate drinking....

....gingerbread house making....

....Christmas parade float riding kind of weekend.

Loved it all.  But I'm now ready to
get some things accomplished.

And since I'm thinking I might be tied up for a bit...
it might be awhile till I post on the ole' blog.

Meanwhile, you can visit me here if you'd like.  
Since they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Who is "they," anyway?

I discovered Posterous awhile back.
It just took me awhile to figure it all out.
It's so easy!
And it's a fun way to post via my phone.....
Which is handy for me since I'm almost never home.

Speaking of never being home...
it's time for me to jet off again.
The to-do list is long.
But, as my friend's husband reminded her
when she was stressed about her to-do list....
it's all fun stuff!
Good stuff!
Festive stuff!
I just need to take a deep breath...slowly...
and remember that it'll all get done.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 22-30

Wow.  I really fell behind the 8-ball with my gratitude posts.  But it's not for lack of being thankful, that's for sure.  Our Thanksgiving weekend was packed full of reasons to be grateful.  Family.  Food.  Friends.  More food.  Our health.  Laughter.  Even more food.  A chance to relax.  No alarm clocks to set.  No place we had to be.

I didn't want the weekend to end.

We started off our holiday week by making our traditional "Thankful Tree."  It's going to stay up till next year to remind us that Thanksgiving isn't just in November.  It should be every day.  Even when we have to dig deep on those days when we're feeling not-so-grateful.

We enjoyed a lovely holiday meal with my parents at our house (I don't have any pictures...I was too busy being sous chef for Animesh...he cooked a fabulous meal, but I can see why chefs have a very stressful job!  I was exhausted!).

Saturday we drove into downtown San Antonio to enjoy the Christmas lights on the Riverwalk...and dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on the river.

After dinner we stopped by the Alamo for the traditional tourist photo op.  The Alamo is so pretty all lit up at night.  Remember the Alamo.


In front of the Alamo stands the city's beautiful Christmas tree with, as Deven put it, "the most gigantic ornaments I've ever seen!"

We ended our fun evening with a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown San Antonio.  

Priya was in heaven during the carriage ride.  It made the whole evening for her.

And it wouldn't be a true family outing without Deven getting so cold that he had to borrow Daddy's jacket.  It was actually only about 55 degrees, but this kid is always cold.

Of course Trevor sacked out the minute the car started rolling.  Precious....

Next up?  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Fred...our Elf on the Shelf.  He's due to make landfall somewhere in our house tomorrow so he can keep track of the naughty-ness and the nice-ness and report it all back to Santa each night while we sleep.

And Saturday we are riding on our church Christmas float in the Boerne Weihnacht's Christmas Parade on Main Street!  Come on out and see us...and welcome December!

Monday, November 22, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 19-21

We had a busy, full weekend.  Thursday evening was the 3rd Grade Family Fun night, and the moms who planned this event did a great job focusing on "giving" and "community."


The 3rd graders made place mats for a nursing home, and they also brought canned goods to be donated to Hill Country Daily Bread....such a tremendous ministry located in our own charming town.

Friday after school we delivered the goods to the nursing home and to Daily Bread.

And Sunday morning our Girl Scout troop (along with my boys and hundreds of other Daily Bread volunteers) helped sort food and pack Thanksgiving boxes for those in need in our community.

It was a great weekend of giving.  And it reminded me how grateful I am for food and shelter and clothing.  Blessings we often take for granted.  Especially as we plan for our feast on Thursday.

We spent Sunday evening at church decorating for Christmas.  Afterwards there was no shortage of yummy food to eat as we enjoyed one another's company and sang Christmas carols.  It was after a rousing rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that it hit me just how close we are to Christmas.

It'll be here before we know it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 17 & 18

It's been a really rough couple of days.  Today I'm so grateful for the little things that have helped boost my spirits.

Monday I took my friend to the charming town of Fredericksburg for her birthday celebration.  We started this tradition last year...and it was so much fun we decided to do it again.  This trip I remembered to bring my growler.  Had it filled with my favorite brewsky at our favorite lunch spot.  Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I enjoyed this beverage oh-so-much.

Speaking of Tuesday...I'm  usually ready for bed by 8:30pm, but I stuck it out for a guitar lesson.  I'm so thankful I did, because Richard always makes me laugh.  I'm learning fun songs (see playlist), and the "jam session" (I've always wanted to say that...) was a real mood pick-me-upper.

Yesterday we drove past our old house in San Antonio located very centrally but in the midst of a swirl of traffic and noise.  For the first time in 6 1/2 years I didn't miss our old home.  I am happy to be exactly where I am.  Centipedes, scorpions, armadillos, and all.  Today I got to enjoy actually being at home--a rare occurrence in my crazy busy life.  I had the pleasure of enjoying a very quiet lunch on my very quiet back patio.  Enjoying this view on a 60 degree day.

Making myself write these gratitude posts has been therapeautic...especially on days when I least feel like expressing thanks.
Things are starting to look up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 12-16

It's been hard to keep up with my gratitude posts.  I knew it would be.  I'm spread too thin...busy as a bee...trying to keep it all together as a wife, mom, friend, female.....  But, after reading lots of Brene's blog posts and her new book, "The Gifts of Imperfection,"  well, let's just say I'm okay with myself for not posting daily like I said I would.  I am not perfect

This past weekend was incredibly taxing for me in many ways.  It was physically taxing in that Friday and Saturday I was on the go constantly.  It was mentally taxing in that I needed to make sure the 3 little Indians were cared for while I was otherwise occupied since Daddy was traveling.  It was emotionally taxing in that I heard so many inspiring stories of survival and witnessed so many moments of selfless giving that I was brought to unexpected tears on many occasions.  I have found myself counting my numerous blessings time and time again on Saturday and the days that have followed.  Healthy children..especially Dorothy's.  The health of my family.  The many selfless bakers who volunteered for the cause.  The wonderful friends I spent the day with and who visited the booth and supported the cause.  The incredible opportunity to give back.

Our Cookies for Kids Cancer Bake Sale is over for this year (click on link if you still want to donate!).  But the memories remain.  And the joy we all felt in doing our little part to try and make a difference will be forever embedded in our hearts.

Thank you Nicole and Amy, for sharing in the journey.  You girls rock.  And to Deb...well...you are just the wind beneath all of our wings.

And to the fabulous bakers...we couldn't have done it without you!

We are truly blessed to have been a blessing to this cause.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

Today I am thankful for the brave men and women who have and still are serving our country.  Both of my grandfathers were in the Army....and someone especially close to me served nearly 30 years in the Air Force.

Thanks, Colonel Dad, and ALL of you who have served to defend our freedom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 9 & 10

Yesterday, today, and always I'm thankful for these two little guys...known affectionately in our home as "the boys."

They are so unique.  They are so different from one another.  Yet they are two peas in a pod.  Just like the title of that book..."Same Kind of Different as Me."

They are each so funny in their own way.  
They are affectionate in their own way.  
One is a morning person like me.  One is definitely NOT.  
One is a perfectionist.  One is definitely NOT
One is a creature of habit.  The other is NOT. 
They are the best of friends and the worst of enemies.

Both are funny.  
Both are affectionate.  
Both have their own way of being a "mama's boy."  
Both are sports fans.  
Both have the most fantastic belly laugh.

Both boys bring our family such joy.
And it is such a joy to watch these boys turn to men...

Monday, November 8, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

Today I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve others.

We just spent an amazing weekend in the Texas Hill Country with our church family.  Existing bonds were strengthened.  New bonds were formed.  It was fantastic.  I was served by my friends...and I was blessed to be able to serve in return.

Now it's time to focus on a big event that's occurring this Saturday.  It's the Cookies for Kids Cancer Bake Sale at Boerne Market Days from 10am-5pm.  My friend, Nicole, is organizing this event for the 2nd year in a row, and, as a parent with healthy kids, I'm so grateful for the chance to help raise money for pediatric cancer research so that other parents may see a glimmer of hope when their child is diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease.  I was a part of the bake sale last year, and I'm looking forward to doing it again Saturday.

I had the honor of writing an article about Nicole's efforts in one of our community's local newspapers.  Last week it was published, and it was a thrill to see my name in print (I am a closet writer....).  You can view the article here (just ignore that it's found in the obituary section!  It's the story at the top.  Keep clicking on the article until it enlarges).  What a joy it was to (hopefully) shed some light on this cause and how those in our small town can help us this weekend by donating.

During this month of thanksgiving my gratitude cup overflows--but every day I'm grateful for healthy children.  Hope you'll show your gratitude this weekend for your own healthy kids by visiting our stand and contributing to this worthy cause.

Won't you join me in leaving a legacy that includes helping out others?

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 5-7

This weekend I'm giving thanks for time spent away...with family...and friends...

We're headed to beautiful Mo Ranch for our church's annual Family Retreat.  I've been to Mo many times both as a camper and as a youth leader.  But this will be my first time to visit Mo Ranch with my own children.  And I'm really looking forward to it.

This is the "chapel on the hill" where we'll worship Sunday morning.  Beautiful.

It's going to be a wonderful time of relaxation, fellowship, and family time.

See you on Monday.  Keep on counting those blessings...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Today I'm thankful for this hobby.

When I first began knitting earlier this year, I'll admit that I didn't see what the big fuss was all about.  It was frustrating...maddening, really....to attempt to create a piece that didn't look like a puppy hadn't chewed through it in a million places.

My friend, Nicole, insisted that knitting would bring me peace.  That I would come to love yarn stores and needles and patterns.  Research studies have discovered that knitting can also help people combat stress and to manage life's downs. One study notes that knitting "helps people put into perspective any traumatic issues that would normally dominate their waking thoughts -helping them to find a stable balance between problematic events and feelings and more positive, pleasant sensations within the current moment.  It's a state of mind where you're not mulling over the past or fretting about the future."

I didn't buy any of it.  Knitting was stressful to me.  Until a few months ago.

My first creation was a disaster.  I almost gave up.  Until I changed my perspective.  And now I'll never get rid of that cape/triangle/thing-ma-bob that sits in my dresser drawer.  It has meaning to me.  So much meaning.

And all that stuff about knitting combating stress and helping to manage life's ups and downs?  It's been true for me.  I knitted like a mad-woman when our puppy, Buddy, unexpectedly died.  I've knitted as I've waited in doctor's offices, the school pick-up line, and restaurants.  I've knitted during karate lessons, soccer practices, and swim lessons.  I've knitted while sitting, standing, lying down, and walking down the hallway.  I've knitted when I'm happy and when I'm feeling pretty down.

Knitting, for me, has become like therapy.  The bonus?  Some pretty cute hand-made birthday and Christmas gifts are being created out of that therapy. 

I'm teased by my friends that I only make scarves. Maybe someday I'll branch out and knock out a glove.  Or a hat.  Or a pair of socks.  Or a gigantic shawl.   Or...GASP...a blanket!!!!

All of that seems too stressful.  Think I'll stick to scarves for now.

Baby steps.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3

Today (and every day) I'm giving thanks for our beautiful daughter.


Priya  is growing into a kind, loving, helpful, smart young lady.  She sees everyone as equals.  She is eager to please & respectful.  She is a talented artist and singer.  She loves to break out into dance at unexpected moments.  She makes the funniest faces.  She adores her brothers.  She is a pure joy.

Last night I was frantically assembling bags for the Family Church Retreat this weekend.  Animesh took the boys to the Urgent Care Clinic (we've got some strep-like symptoms in the house), so Priya offered to help me stuff the goodie bags.  I would have been up all night if she hadn't given me a hand.  I am so grateful, even if it meant her staying up past her bedtime.  We completely enjoyed our mommy/daughter time.

We're so grateful for our precious first-born.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 2

A good teacher is like a candle - 
it consumes itself to light the way for others.  
 -Author Unknown

Today I'm giving thanks for my children's teachers.

The kids attend an amazing school.  This is our 4th year there, and the teachers our children have been blessed with continue to wow us.

Priya has two AMAZING 3rd grade teachers who are team-teaching together for the first time this year.  While these two teachers are great friends, this is the first year they've tried this system.  And Priya is thriving.  I couldn't have asked for 2 better teachers for her.

Deven's 2nd grade teacher is WONDERFUL.  I get to know her better and better each time we talk, and our parent/teacher conference that was supposed to last 15 minutes evolved into a comfortable 45 minute chat leaving me loving her even more.

And Trevor's Kindergarten teacher?  Well, she's is FANTASTIC.  Neither Priya nor Deven had her for Kinder, but we knew of her and have since felt so incredibly blessed that Trevor is in such a warm, positive classroom atmosphere.  And since when do Kindergarteners learn about nouns and verbs??  Trevor came home explaining the difference to us a couple weeks ago...I could hardly believe it!  Last week I read to the Kinder class, and I was moved by the loving and gentle manner Trevor's teacher is guiding these sweet 5 and 6 year-olds during their first year of elementary school.

Yesterday Trevor shared with us something his teacher taught the class...how to spell the word "WOW" using their hands and facial expressions.  His hands are the Ws, and his face is the O.
The picture doesn't do this justice.  Watching & listening to Trevor say "WOW!" while doing the motions cracked me up.

Thank you to ALL the teachers who are making a difference in the lives of our children.   We appreciate you so much.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Re-Cap......and 30 Days of Gratitude

Once again our Halloween was fun.  We feel blessed to have my parents' neighborhood to trick-or-treat in...since Animesh and I are "old school" trick-or-treaters and love walking from house to house.  It's impossible to do that in our neighborhood given how far apart the houses are...in fact...no one even trick-or-treats where we live.  So, we're grateful that the 3 little Indians are still pounding the pavement every October 31st just like we used to do.

 We had a punk rock witch....

....a teenage mutant ninja turtle....

....a blue ninja....

...and a knight.

3 Little Indians

The ninja and the knight battle it out pre-trick-or-treating.

 The family prepares to hit the road...I was a witch, too.

 Usually Dad stays home to give out candy 
and Mom walks the 'hood with us.  
This year Dad decided he wanted to join in the festivities.  
Since he'd bought a costume and all.  
He's still such a kid-at-heart.

 I'm pretty sure he had as much fun as the kids did.


The 2 "good" witches.  :-)

And, now, it's November.  While October was filled with fun events and heart-warming memories, I'm breathing a sigh of relief that the month is over.  Because last week was rough for me.  I mean....really rough.  Nothing serious happened, but every single day a situation arose that was disheartening or frustrating or maddening.  Ever have one of those weeks?

In the midst of last week's struggles I made a conscience decision to start focusing more on what I had to be grateful for.  So I bought this pretty journal to start documenting in writing. 


And I'm also going to do a month-long gratitude post in pictures.  Every day.  This journal is my first gratitude photo.  I love to write...I'm a closet writer and one day hope to do it on a more regular basis. 

Sometimes what I write in my journal will correlate with the gratitude picture I post.  Sometimes it won't...especially since the journal will undoubtedly be more personal.  What I'm hoping for is that these 30 days of "giving thanks in all things" will evolve into a habit so that if when I have another rocky season in life I will be able to reflect on my written journal and see all that I've been blessed with.....rather than all that seems to be going wrong.

I'm excited.  And nervous.  Because those of you who know me are completely aware that my plate is full.  And that I hardly have room for more commitments in my life.  But, I am convinced that only good can come from this...living a life of gratitude.  I belive it's appropriate for this new month of November that is upon us...a month of Thanksgiving. 

I'd love for you to join me.