Sunday, November 30, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30

Today I am thankful for...30 days of thanks!

I did it! Wahoo! 30 posts in 30 days! I'd get up and do a happy dance except I'm too busy cramming Parmesan and herb crusted pita chips in my mouth. Mmmmm. (Note: Today I am also thankful for Parmesan and herb crusted pita chips.)

When I first thought up this challenge, I was worried I wouldn't be able to think of anything to be thankful for. After all, I'm in the midst of the terrible twos with peanut and I was afraid I'd be thankful for his bedtime for 30 days straight. That or wine. Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for those two things, especially when peanut's bedtime is followed by a nice glass of chardonnay on the sofa with the hubby. But I found myself, throughout the month, very mindful of the fun moments, the silly moments, the oh my gosh my life would not be the same without peanut moments.

I found myself also more aware of those little things that the hubby does to make our family life fun and my load as primary care giver and house "manager" easier to bear. I always knew he was doing these things. I try to thank him for these things. But during this little exercise, I found myself appreciating them in a new way. In a way that made me bite my tongue about how he was doing something and just let him do it. In a way that made me see how alike the hubby and peanut are. In a way that made me see just how lucky I am to have these two as my family.

Each day, I found myself ticking off a laundry list of things I was thankful for. Peanut's stellar behavior in church. The nice bagger at the grocery store who helped load the car with groceries. The ridiculous nekkid baby time before bath with what seemed like a choreographed series of events repeated over and over for at least 20 minutes with the hubby and I in tears laughing. The attempted phone conversations peanut had with his family on turkey day and how much that meant to him later in the evening when he recounted each and every one of them again and again. The safe and healthy arrival of two new babies this month to two mommy friends. Peanut's "I did it!" exclamations after zipping up his own pants, putting on his own socks or peeing in the potty before his bath. The quiet moments I found with a book or a cup of tea. The snuggle moments with peanut before his nap. The snuggle moments with the hubby while watching a movie. The list goes on and on...

The difficult part was choosing something to write about. And some days, the hard part was just writing in general. This exercise, however, forced me to sit at the keyboard and put thoughts to text and I know I will grow from that experience. I hope, along the way, that I picked a few things that some of you could relate to or could share a laugh about or at the very least kept you reading! After all, I am most thankful that you all take a few minutes out of your day to stop in and see what self-indulgent topic I'm writing about on any given day. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting both here and when I see you in person.

So today, although I am thankful that I am officially done with this public, month-long gratitude journal, I hope that I continue to be mindful of all that is good, funny and blessed about my days. Maybe we'll see 30 Days of Thanks revisited or reconfigured...who knows. Bottom line, I'm thankful that I did it and that you all were along for the ride.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

Today I am thankful for...Christmas decorations.

I am admittedly a "damn Yankee" - a Yankee who moves South and then refuses to leave. My parents moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts when I was 5, my sister was 2. Our formative years were spent in the South and I consider myself more a Southerner than a New Englander...although I do still have a taste for coffee ice cream, prefer a rocky beach to a sandy shore and still call ice cream sprinkles "jimmies."

I do remember how every year while I was growing up my mother would proclaim (and probably still does) surprise at the overwhelming Southern tradition of putting up your Christmas decorations immediately after the Thanksgiving meal is over and taking them down practically after Christmas dinner. My mother's northern tendencies always had us putting our tree up slightly later and taking it down on or after New Year's Day.

Since getting married, we have tended to follow my mother's lead. I have never put my tree up before December 1st, although we do tend to put it up on the early side of the season simply because we're always gone for Christmas and want to enjoy our decorated home as long as possible.

Well, with the shortened time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and the fact that it's raining and we're home alone for an unprecedented four-day weekend, we went and purchased a Christmas tree this morning. I'm eagerly anticipating getting the house decorated this afternoon and explaining it all to peanut as I unwrap each ornament. I'm not sure how much he'll retain this year or how much to explain to a two-year old about a nativity scene, but I'm excited nonetheless.

So today, I'm gonna:

"Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute."

Friday, November 28, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28

Today I am thankful for...four day weekends.

I know I'm lucky as a stay-at-home-mom that I'm not a slave to a corporate clock-in and clock-out schedule. Oh, I have to worry about naps and meals and snacks and play dates, but overall, the flexibility is fantastic. It's definitely not something I take for granted.

But boy is it nice to have a four day weekend with the hubby home. It's like a little vacation for me to be able to take a long enough shower where I can wash my hair and shave my legs on the same day. Or to pee with the door shut. Or to have the option to leave the house during nap time. Not to mention, playground time was so much more fun today when the three of us went.

So of course I'm going to take advantage of these four-days of extra help and get something done I typically don't have time for during the week! Something productive. Something exciting. Something...

...Ah, who am I kidding? We had turkey leftovers for lunch. I'm going to eat pie and lay on the couch. Mmmm, vacation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

Today I am thankful much.

We are blessed to have a healthy, funny, adorable child who has brought more laughter, happiness and fun to our lives than I ever thought imaginable (and I imagined a pretty big amount!). I am blessed to have a husband of 10 years who is my best friend, my confidante, my sidekick and my parenting partner in crime. We are blessed to have a family who supports us, celebrates with us and provides us grounding. We are blessed to have a home and community that sustain us. We are blessed to have the life that we have.

My Thanksgiving wish today is that you all are blessed with the family, love and hope that will provide your heart with peace and joy not just during the holidays, but every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

Today I am thankful for...the smell of apple pie baking.

Although I am sure we made the right decision to not travel for the holiday, it has been a strange day. No packing and calling the folks to let them know we're on the road. No maniacal house cleaning before family arrives here. It's a bit sad to be on our own, but the upside has been a relaxing, soaking in the moments kind of day.

My sister and I always made the apple pie together. She and her husband often arrived at our house first. We'd open the wine and start cooking Wednesday evening which always led to fits of laughter and a series of inside jokes that would keep us busy the rest of the weekend.

Today, the peanut and I came home from the park and he became my new apple pie assistant (sorry High Heeled Sis!). He loved dumping in the flour, sugar and the cinnamon, patting down the crust and sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar on the crust. Now, it's baking, peanut's napping and the smell of Thanksgiving is filling the house. And it smells GOOD. I wish there was a scratch and sniff hyperlink so you all could take a whiff. Mmmmmmm.

It's amazing how I immediately felt relaxed, at peace and excited about the big feast tomorrow simply by inhaling that heavenly aroma. Just because it's the three of us doesn't mean it won't be meaningful, delicious and fun. In fact, because we can truly relax into it, it might be more so.

No matter what, I know there will be yummy pie. The trick will be not devouring it this afternoon. Easier said than done!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

Today I am thankful child's sense of humor.

Peanut's favorite phrase lately has gone from "No" to "I don't...". It started out as "I don't like..." or "I don't want..." but quickly was abbreviated to "I don't" to fit any situation or activity that he does not want to participate in.

Time to wash your hands. - "I don't."
Time to take a bath. - "I don't."
Let's go to the park. - "I don't."

The list is endless and it appears to be his first response regardless of whether he truly agrees or disagrees with any given request.

Luckily, for every 10 "I don'ts" he comes out with one statement or action that reduces me to a fit of giggles. It's like his own built in mommy-pressure-release-valve. A few silly moments:

* Recently during a visit to NC, High Heeled Sis was helping with the bath and bedtime routine. While na*ked baby was running around the upstairs, HHS jokingly told him he had a bottom like his mama (this is a long-running sisterly tease). He stopped and told her, "Mommy has a booty!" Then took off down the hall while HHS and I were rolling on the floor in tears.

* During lunch, peanut looks into his milk and tells me, "There are people in there."
Me: "There are people in your milk?"
Peanut: "Yeah."
Me: "Well, if you drink the milk, you must be drinking the people, too."
Peanut looks into his milk, takes a big sip and: "Mmmm. Yummy people!"

* After draping all the resistance bands around his neck during our stroller workout, peanut announces to all the mommies, "I am so cute!"

* While trying to prep dinner one night, I did a rough outline of a turkey on peanut's easel and asked peanut to paint in the feathers. After a few minutes he started asking "Where's the turkey? Where da turkey go?" I took a look and he had painted so many layers over the top of my outline that you'd never know it had been there. Funny enough on its own, but later he walked by the drying masterpiece, leaned in close and said "Turkey come back."

Typical kid behavior, I know. But these are the moments during these tumultuous toddler times that I cherish and look forward to daily. It would be so easy to get wrapped up in the negativity, the reprimanding, the repeated (and repeated and repeated) requests. Instead, I'm choosing to be thankful that peanut and I can take a step back to enjoy each other and share a giggle.

Laughter, after all, is the best medicine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Today I am thankful shipment tracking.

A week and a half ago I ordered some sassy new boots online. I was so excited about them. I'd been looking and looking for some flat riding boots that I could incorporate into the winter wardrobe without breaking the winter budget and I had finally found the perfect pair.

(I know, I know...Flats? I have some fantastic heeled boots, but they aren't practical for Music Class the playground or the grocery store!)

So, I got an email notice last week that they had shipped and I should expect them 4 to 8 days from the original purchase date. When they had not arrived by this weekend, I took a look at the tracking. Here's a quick summary:

They left the facility of origin in Ohio on 11/17.
Arrived in Doraville, GA on the 18th.
Then Salt Lake City on the 19th.
Colorado on the 20th.
The 21st was a busy day - two town in Kansas to Little Rock ending up in Memphis.
No activity over the weekend, but today, they have arrived back in Doraville, GA.

Let's take a closer look at this - I live in Atlanta, a mere 22 miles south of Doraville. I could have driven to their facility, picked up my boots and been home in less than an hour. Instead, they've been on a week long, cross-country tour for who knows what reason. I only hope they are actually on their way to my house and not back to Salt Lake City!

Today, I'd like to be thankful for my new boots, instead, I'll have to settle for the chuckle I got at their road trip adventure.

The least they could have done was send a postcard.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

Today I am thankful for...productive weekends.

We painted our kitchen. Two coats of crisp, clean white on the ceiling. Two coats of beautiful, calming "rejuvenate" green on the walls. Everything from the cabinets to peanut's refrigerator magnets have received a thorough scrubbing. Open shelves have been reorganized. A new mail system has been put into place to reduce the weekly paper clutter.

It feels fantastic. It looks even better. I hate that it took me four years to decide on a color, but it was worth the wait. And worth all the sanding, spackling, edging and rearranging that was necessary.

The hubby and I are both exhausted from handling such a big project - not to mention the satellite dish install the hubby tackled in tandem. I'm overwhelmed with the normal weekend tasks that aren't quite finished - the laundry's only half done, we didn't make it to the grocery for our weekly run, I still have no idea what I'm making on Thursday - but I'm typing this in my sweats with a glass of wine knowing that I accomplished something this weekend. A project started and finished in 36 hours is something to be proud of.

The fact that we accomplished it without ignoring our two-year-old...priceless.

Here's to hoping your weekend was just as productive!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

Today I am thankful for...Garth Brooks.

The hubby is Apple addicted. We've got iPods, Nanos, iPhones, iTunes. Yikes! Call me a Luddite, but I enjoy popping a CD in and cranking up the volume. Figuring out which setting the stereo needs to be on to wirelessly beam the music from the computer to the speakers, not to mention remembering the hubby's cryptic password? Eh. Too many steps. So it was only recently, after harassing the hubby for months, that we pulled some of my CDs out of the attic.

The peanut and I have been enjoying a new rotation of music throughout our day as a result. Surprise favorite? The peanut loves the Beatles "1" album. I'm not sure if it's because he saw the number one on the cover and thinks that's cool or because he likes to dance to the songs, because he does. Either way, it's a win-win on a cloudy, cold afternoon.

This morning, the hubby and the peanut headed to that oasis of maleness, Home Depot. I was left at home and immediately started prepping to paint the ceilings in the kitchen while I was free of a toddler underfoot. I recently painted our "keeping" room and decided that I loved the color so much, it needed to be extended into the kitchen and pronto. I put on the ratty jeans that are worn so thin they feel like cotton (and I would wear every day if they were suitable for public eyes), pulled the hair back and scanned the new-to-me-again CDs for some motivational tunes.

My go-to cleaning music is the soundtrack from "The Commitments" (run, do not walk, to your nearest Netflix account to rent this movie if you haven't seen it already). I needed something stronger than "Mustang Sally" to get me through this project. And there it was. The Garth Brooks Live double CD set. Perfect. (Yes, I like Garth Brooks. I also love Motown, Prince, Coldplay, 'NSync...really, I have random, some (the hubby) may say questionable, taste in music).

I can't even remember the last time I danced around like such a fool, singing at the top of my lungs. It made a horrible task bearable. And my paint brush got a serious workout as a microphone. Nothing like singing into objects, shaking your booty to make you feel 13 again!

And my ceiling already has two coats of paint on them. So thank you Garth and your silly "Friends in Low Places." I couldn't have done it without you. Well, maybe I could have, but it certainly wouldn't have been as much fun.

Oh, that reminds me of "The Dance"...

Friday, November 21, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Today I am thankful for...not having to travel this Thanksgiving.

If we were going to NC this holiday to see the family, I'd be a mess already - organizing meals for the few days we'd be home, making sure we don't have too much or too little food in the house to sustain us, doing laundry, planning what to pack in the suitcase and the car and the diaper bag, constantly coordinating with the hubby on which family obligations take place when, stressing about how to manipulate peanut's nap schedule around that many meals to ensure a happy toddler and debating which day to leave town to avoid the most traffic and use the fewest of hubby's precious vacation days.

But, I'm not. (Insert High Heeled Mama's happy dance here!)

Since we made the two recent trips home to see the family, we decided to skip Thanksgiving. It's a little odd, actually. Last year was the first Thanksgiving in our married life that we actually went home. We usually hosted this holiday and invited everyone to us. If you came, great. If you didn't, catch you at Christmas.

Last year, we wanted to spend Christmas Day at home and so we traded Thanksgiving. It ended up not being any easier since we were packing up the day after Christmas to drive up to NC and spend New Year's there anyway.

So after two trips home in the last month, we knew we couldn't swing both the Thanksgiving and Christmas trips. We had to make a decision. As much as we loved waking up in our home Christmas morning, going to our own church for services and spending the holiday quietly watching our peanut play with wrapping and boxes instead of the toys inside of them, we felt it was more important to be surrounded by our larger family at Christmas.

Our families have a lot going on this year with grad school, new houses, babies on the way, so we'll be spending turkey day as a three-some this year. I'm okay with that. I admit that I did take it a little personally at first -- it seemed extremely easy for folks to not come after just one year off -- but I know in my heart of hearts that it's not personal.

I am honestly excited to be home with my boys. It will make for some lovely memories to involve peanut in the cooking and the preparations. We can do a few little projects and maybe get our Christmas tree early (like all good Southerners should) and bring out all the Christmas decorations over the holiday weekend. We can snuggle in for a four-day weekend without the exhausting pressure of having to be somewhere. I can finish (well, that does imply I've started, which I haven't) painting my kitchen.

So today, this Friday before Thanksgiving, I am not stressed out about packing. I am not stressed out that I have no real idea what I'm going to prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner yet. I am not overwhelmed with to-do lists of things to get done before Thursday. I am, instead, curled up with a blanket, looking forward to a dinner out with the hubby and peanut at a favorite (family-friendly) locale, and anticipating a weekend that is currently wide open to the possibilities.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Today I am thankful for...nap time.

As a working gal, we used to always threaten to use the sick room for a quick nap. Our theory being that a 15 minute cat nap would certainly make us more productive than slogging through media lists, press releases and running back and forth to the break room for coffee and Diet Cokes while trying to keep our eyes propped open with paper clips after a late night strategy session or early morning call time.

Of course the sick room didn't have a lock on it (don't get me started on how ridiculous it was that this was the same room they recommended nursing moms pump, yeah, not going to happen when creepy IT guy could have just barged in at any moment), so we never tested the nap time theory.

When we moved to Atlanta and I was working from home, it was oh-so-tempting to take advantage of the fact that no one really knew what I was up to. But I was entirely too honest for my own good and always reported to the computer on time, worked through lunch most days and often worked much longer into the evening than I would have in an office just because my files were always there. Always begging to be finished. Always whispering to me when I walked past on weekends.

Then I got pregnant and that horrible first trimester had me nauseous and gagging and exhausted. I still got my work done, but I have to admit to snagging a quick nap around 3pm on a few days. And boy, did it make all the difference. I don't know how I would have worked in an actual office feeling like that. My hats off to all the women who do it every day. Those occasional, secret naps really got me threw those first 15 icky weeks.

Of course then baby arrives and you sleep whenever you can, whether that's at 10 at night, 10 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. Whenever. And it was so easy. I might not even have felt tired, but if peanut was sleeping, so was I. It was like a switch.

Then he got on a schedule. An honest-to-goodness predictable schedule. Now, he takes a lovely 2 to 3 hour nap after lunch every day. This is my quiet time. I quickly take care of a few necessary tasks, but then the rest of the time is mine. Mine to read. Mine to blog. Mine to fool around on Facebook. Mine.

Today? Today, I nap (or will try to, anyway). Why? Because I was supposed to have jury duty today. Because I woke up at 4am terrified I'd sleep through the alarm which was set a good hour earlier than I normally get up and then proceeded to stare at the ceiling until 6:30. Because I managed to get down town, sweet talk my way out of jury duty (ah, the primary care giver exemption), and get back to the house by 9:30. Because I've been chasing my "I don't" two-year-old around since then and am now so beat I can barely type in a straight line.

So today I give into the sweet temptation of a nap. Today I cherish the loveliness of a nap. Today I am thankful that I have the opportunity to take advantage of such a delicious act as a nap.

Hmmmmm...sweet dreams!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 19

Today I am thankful for...cocoa.

Sometimes it's the simple things, isn't it? Today was cold, cold, COLD for our outdoor work out and playground time. While we were moving, we were okay. Then, we were doing the mommy playground guard watch as the kids ran wild and the chill quickly came back as we redonned all the layers shed during our work out.

The tomato soup and grilled cheese peanut and I shared for lunch and the pre-nap snuggle under a pile of blankets while we read stories helped warm us both up. But I've got some water on and some cocoa ready for slowly sipping while snuggled on the couch catching up on some trashy TV on my DVR (hello season finale of "Desperate Housewives of Atlanta").

Sure, I should be taping off and painting my kitchen ceiling or working on that Christmas gift project, but I'm thankful for cocoa and all the deliciousness it has to offer me for an hour.

Nothing like a couple of guilty pleasures to while away an afternoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 18

Today I am thankful small house.

When we moved from DC to Atlanta, we chose to downsize our home. We had a beautiful, new construction town home in the DC suburbs, but the commute was a bear (an hour of cars, buses and trains). When we knew we were moving to Atlanta, we decided we'd buy for the investment and that we'd buy in-town.

Location was key. The hubby's random school schedule made it important for him to be relatively close and my new status as a work from home employee meant I wanted to be close to some action, ANY action, so I wouldn't go stir crazy and could be just minutes away from any client meetings.

In terms of location, we hit the nail on the head. We are close to the highway, practically around the corner from a hospital, moments from Midtown, moments to the heart of Buckhead, a short drive to the airport, close to museums, parks, the Zoo, restaurants, shopping and in the best elementary school district in the city. Score.

Unfortunately, our price range meant that we significantly downsized our square footage. We are now in a two bed/two bath ranch home. Some days I feel like we're bursting at the seams, and we probably are. But I have really come to value a space's function and, as a result, maximizing every little corner of our home.

We actually sacrificed little of our furniture when we moved. The coffee table in our living room had to go based on the layout and placement of the front door (we'd be banging our shins every time we passed through the room), but the ottoman was easily repurposed with a tray to serve as a table top. The hubby's drum set had to be put in the attic for a little while. The futon left once we had to make room for peanut's furniture. But the rest, all strategically arranged throughout our little home.

The hardest part has been the closet space. Three closets in the whole house took a lot of getting used to. The up side? We have been forced to really evaluate what we own, what we bring into the house, what we keep. It's like a built-in clutter honor system.

Living in a culture of consumerism with bigger cars and McMansions, I am thankful for the lessons that living smaller are instilling in our family. Sure, if we could live in a bigger house I'd do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the hubby and I are totally too responsible (two oldest siblings here). We know how tough the market is for selling homes in our neighborhood right now. We are still hesitant to leave our perfect location. I am enjoying my time as a stay-at-home-mom and want to take advantage of it a little longer before having to depend on a second income to make a larger mortgage payment.

So we have the blueprints for an addition plan that await stability in the economic situation. We clean out the closets and cabinets every six months and rearrange the furniture periodically to see if we can't freshen things up with a slightly new perspective.

Even though it's old, even though it's small, even though it needs some TLC, it's home. It's where we brought peanut home when he was 48 hours old. It's where he took his first steps. It's where we laugh and share meals and chase naked baby around and into the bath tub every evening. It's a home that brings us a lot of joy and comfort. And that's really all you can ask from a house, isn't it?

Note: Congrats to the hubby's brother's family as they move into their new home this week! What an exciting time to make a new house a home - just in time for the holidays and a new addition. Wishing you all the best as you create a host of new memories in your new home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17

Today I am thankful for...Piedmont Park.

Two to three times a week, nearly every week since peanut was three months old, I have bundled him up or lathered him in sunscreen (depending on the weather), popped him in the stroller and headed out for a workout at Atlanta's Piedmont Park. I was never an athlete. I was active, sure. I played soccer in the fifth grade and ate my share of orange slices. I did flag corps for eight years (geek alert!) and had the best arms to prove it.

But an athlete? No. A jogger? No. A regular exerciser, even? Not for longer than a few months at a time, usually after the holidays like everyone else.

Then, I had a baby and a friend told me about Stroller Strides. I've been hooked ever since. Not only has it gotten me into pretty good shape considering I've birthed a child, but I've made some great friends there. It's a guaranteed hour or two of talking to adults and keeping peanut occupied with a playground and his own friends.

Today, as we sprinted up a massive hill and I was sucking wind, I reached the apex and was treated to one of my favorite views in the city. Midtown skyscrapers raising into the blue sky, geese skidding to a landing in the duck pond, trees fluttering in the cold, morning breeze, leaves crunching underfoot. Piedmont Park is truly an Atlanta gem. A serene, green place in the middle of the city. A place I am thankful to enjoy every week. A place I am thankful to build memories with peanut in. A place that has made Atlanta home for our family.

A place you can find me in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. See you then!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

Today I am thankful outings.

We took peanut to his first theater performance today. The hubby recently surprised me with a date night out to see a comedy show and, when he was buying tickets, he noticed that there was a live production of "Goodnight Moon" coming up. He snagged tickets right away.

The show was slated to last an hour with no intermission. I was slightly nervous about how peanut would handle sitting still for that long in the middle of his nap time, but was very excited for him to see his first live performance. The hubby had the forethought to purchase peanut his own seat even though, at two-years-old, he didn't require one.

We arrived about 10 minutes before show time. Peanut happily held his ticket and proudly handed it to the usher himself. We got settled in our seats - piling our coats behind peanut so he could sit up near the edge of the seat to see better. Once he got his bearings, he was having a grand old time kicking the cup holders on the back of the seats in front of us and I began to fear the worst.

But, when the lights went down and the music started and he recognized items on the set from the book, he was hooked. He sat completely still the whole time, staring at the action. After songs he clapped energetically. When it was over, he said "more!"

We decided to throw nap time to the wind* and went out for ice cream after. We all enjoyed our treat and peanut recounted his favorite parts of the show. His very favorite? "The moon talking."

I had a wonderful time, my heart bursting with joy at his excitement and pride at his good manners and excellent behavior. Whether it's a walk in the park, a special outing for lunch, watching the shuttle lift-off, or a play and ice cream, I cherish the time we spend experiencing things as a family.

To use peanut's favorite new phrase: "It is awesome!"

*Note: He IS napping. The excitement and the sugar must have caused a crash and he's out: "Good night light and the red balloon..."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15

Today I am thankful for..."like father, like son."

The hubby loves the space program. There was a time in his life when he wanted to be an astronaut. Really, really wanted to be an astronaut. Too bad his eyesight and complicated relationship with heights and airplanes has kept him grounded.

But he's still close to the program. There are many nights we've stayed up until the wee hours to watch a shuttle return home on the NASA channel. We've been to the National Air and Space Museum annex at Dulles Airport where he was like a kid in a candy store. He's researching the missions for the next few years so we can plan a trip to see a launch in person before the shuttle is out of service in 2010. He still gets sincerely emotional at the Challenger disaster. So much so that when I saw the Columbia disaster on the TV screens as I was running through O'Hare to make a tight connecting flight to LA, my first thought was to call him to make sure he was okay, risking my spot on the flight. His knowledge of the science and physics related to the program and each launch is truly amazing.

Last night, the shuttle was slated to lift off at 8pm ET. He managed to wrangle peanut onto the potty and into the bath early so that he was diapered, lotioned and pajamed in plenty of time to watch the last checks of "go's" and "no-go's" at the 9 minute countdown mark. He even managed to get a two-year-old to sit still during the countdown, explaining as much as he could in two-year-old terms.

Then, the hubby held peanut's hand and they watched lift-off with the same expressions of awe on their faces. I admit to missing half of the launch, instead watching the two of them watch it. Peanut kept pointing and saying "space ship" with a huge grin on his face. This morning, he asked repeatedly to watch the space ship again and again and again (and because the hubby recorded the hour of replays the NASA channel airs from 70 different angles, they watched it again and again and again).

Seeing this obsession passed so easily from father to son has been so sweet to watch. I am thankful for one more thing that they can share together. I am thankful for peanut's sense of curiosity that he most certainly inherited from the hubby. I am thankful that I was able to witness the same childlike excitement in both the hubby and my son as they shared this experience.

Of course I spent the rest of the evening telling peanut there was no way he was ever going to travel in space, drive a race car or play a football position that has a high rate of injury. I may be thankful, but I'm still his mommy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14

Today I am thankful for...tickle time.

Peanut's gotten pretty stubborn lately - no big surprise. He is two, after all. Part of my job, apparently, is to creatively make him think that all things he refuses to do are really his idea so he does what mommy wants anyway. Don't want to get dressed? Pick something with zippers so he can do it himself (he's really into zippers right now). Don't want to put a jacket on to go to the park? Let him pick out an extra shirt and sweater instead. Don't want to wash hands before dinner? Pull out the stool and ask him to show the stuffed animal of the day how to do it.

Lately, he's been trying to persuade extra stories (beyond the two he is guaranteed) before nap time. I start moving into song time and he starts to protest, whine, struggle. Enter, the tickle! I insert the word tickle randomly into his favorite songs ("Twinkle, twinkle TICKLE star...") accompanied by a well-placed tickle and he gets to giggling to the point of full-on belly laughs. Not only does it distract him from the stories, but allows us to share in a pure moment. A moment of laughter. A moment of smiles. A moment of real happiness. A moment I treasure. A moment I envision telling peanut about while I hold his new son or daughter decades from now.

So, am I glad that peanut's in the stubborn two-year-old stage? Not particularly. But without it, we might not have discovered the joy of tickle time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

Today I am thankful for...words.

I remember learning to read in kindergarten. Not the mechanics of it, but the sheer excitement of putting a whole sentence together and the world that opened up as a result. Ever since that first "Cat on the mat" sentence, I have been in love with words. In second grade, I wrote my first real story. I was a voracious reader in elementary school. Our school participated in the Pizza Hut Book It! program (which I was shocked to discover is still going strong) and let's just say we ate a lot of free pizza thanks to my literary habit. I excelled in English classes and spent summers buried in piles of books.

Early on, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It's been the one constant in my life. But it seemed impractical. In college, I followed the practical writer's track: Journalism School. My job in public relations seemed like a natural fit for the writer in me. But it wasn't enough. Once I had peanut, this blog became the outlet. But it's not enough. Of course the practical side of me tends to win out and the bathroom gets cleaned or the laundry gets folded instead of my fingers flying across a keyboard, my brain chasing an idea, watching letters become words that become sentences that express a thought or portray an image or maybe even offer perspective.

Although I struggle with the doing, I still find comfort that the words are there waiting for me, like fish in a lake, viciously swimming and churning under the calm, cool surface. It takes a lot of patience and a little coaxing to lure them to your line, but the persistent fishermen always win out with a catch. Maybe with a little time and a little practice, I'll catch the big one and finally finish that novel and maybe even see my words in print.

And oh, what a fishing tale that will be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12

Today I am thankful for...friends.

I am truly blessed. I have friends in my life who love me no matter how bad I am at keeping in touch, who laugh at my bad jokes, read my blog (hi!) and forgive our differences knowing that our relationships are fostered not just by what we have in common, but what we don't.

I have mommy friends, single friends, married friends, family friends, college friends, work friends, high school friends, neighbor friends. No matter the category, I truly do value their roles in my life. The places in my heart they have touched are forever changed.

As peanut gets older, I have watched with great excitement as he develops his first friendships. There are two other little boys, the sons of two of my mommy friends, that he plays with several days a week. Peanut talks about them a lot. He misses them when we're away. And as they get to an age when they actually play together as opposed to next to each other, they are developing the silliest little games of chase and tackle. It is a joy to watch:

Birds of a feather...

Tower o' toddlers

I look forward to watching my peanut develop and grow as a result of his friendships. I am thankful for the friends that just having peanut has brought into my life. I am thankful for the love my friends have shown my child. I am thankful that I was able to see so many of my friends this past weekend. I am thankful that James Taylor made popular such a wonderful song about friends that I will leave you with today:

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come runnin' to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall
All you've got to do is call.
And I'll be there.
You've got a friend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 11

Today I am thankful for...veterans.

On Veteran's Day it is extremely important to remember the men and women and their families who have given all that they have - their strength, their honor, their babies' birthdays, their innocence, their time with family, their lives - in service to this great land. I have a grandfather who fought in World War II, uncles who served and fought in Vietnam, an old high school friend who flew planes for the Navy in Bosnia and the Middle East, a friend who served in Operation Desert Storm, and countless friends and acquaintances who have loved ones serving in the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. And, thank God, I have been lucky enough to see each of these people in my life come home. I pray that those who are still overseas return home safely soon.

As a mother, I can't even imagine how military wives and husbands say goodbye to their spouses and raise families alone, all the while under the cloud of fear and doubt that must be ever-present. The last time peanut and I flew this spring, there were several soldiers heading back out to Afghanistan and Iraq on our flight. I cried hearing the stories they told. One described meeting his son when he was 15 months old. Meeting them. Totally missing the baby stage and meeting his child when he was already walking. I couldn't imagine. It is a monumental sacrifice and one that I truly appreciate. I feel that saying thank you is such an inadequate expression of gratitude.

But thank you. Thank you for putting your life on the line to defend our freedoms, to defend the defenseless in our world, to protect all that we take for granted. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I remember, I acknowledge and I thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 10

Today I am thankful for... grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

After a long weekend away and a Monday morning routine that includes a workout and playground play date lasting until lunch time, grocery shopping was out of the question for the first half of the day. It's more important to me to get peanut back into his weekly routine than the house stocked with food before 10am.

Ah, but there was a loaf of bread in the house, so all is right with the world. A loaf of bread plus a few slices of cheese and a jar of peanut butter and jelly meant lunch for peanut and me. And means a postponed trip to the grocery store until after mommy's shower and peanut's nap.

Sure, a nice chicken salad would have been more satisfying and balanced, but the quiet coming from down the hall meaning that peanut is sound asleep is oh so worth it. We'll get the real food later.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 9

Today I am thankful for...slap happy toddlers!

There is nothing like managing a six hour drive with an overtired toddler. Will they sleep at all? How long? When should you stop to eat? Where will we stop to eat? Will a coloring book be enough or do we need to break out the DVD? Why are they always asleep when you have to pee?

I can't really complain. Peanut is really a good traveler. He doesn't sleep much in the car anymore, but he also doesn't get terribly cranky. He's easily distracted by a book or toy. He'll happily sing-a-long to his CDs. We only have to rely on the DVD as a last resort (but what a lifesaver!).

My favorite part of any road trip with the peanut? The slap-happy period that inevitably follows that much time trapped in a car seat. Tonight he ran around the house forwards, then backwards (saying "whoa!" the whole time). He babbled completely incoherently during dinner. He "counted" his girlfriends (apparently five). He sang songs. He was completely hysterical. His blowing off steam helps makes the hubby and I laugh so much that we do the same. No matter how tired we are or how much we need to do to get life back to normal after time away, it's always easier to do so with a slap-happy-toddler-induced-smile on our faces.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 8

Today I am thankful for...Chapel Hill.

This year marks 10 years since I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. May 17, 1998 I stepped across the field of Kenan Stadium in my Carolina blue gown to turn my tassle and enter the "real world." This weekend, we are in the Hill for Homecoming.

Chapel Hill was a special place for me, as it is for many of those Tar Heels you may come in contact with. I decided Carolina was where I needed to be after attending the bicentenial celebration in October of 1993. Charles Kuralt spoke his famous words (see below), President Bill Clinton spoke, and I watched a stadium full of people - students, alumni, professors, fans - and teared up as I watched these Tar Heels express such pride in their education, their campus and their Chapel Hill home. In that moment, I wanted to be a part of this family, this place.

Oh, I've written about my love of Chapel Hill before, but I truly am thankful that this place is a part of the fabric of my life. I am proud to go home this weekend, don my Carolina blue and cheer the Heels against Georgia Tech. I am excited for peanut to experience, with slightly more understanding this year, the pre-game festivies of band practice, the Old Well walk, step-off, kick-off, half-time, the alma mater (which he can sing!). I am thrilled to see old friends. I am looking forward to walking the brick sidewalks, strolling through the fallen leaves on the Quad, posing in front of the Old Well and remembering the good times I had as a student at Carolina. I am glad to be in the place where I can remember L (has it really been four years?).

Today, I am thankful for Chapel Hill and everyone I know and love who makes it the magical place I love.

Today, I leave you with Charles Kuralt's words from UNC's Bicentennial in 1993:

"What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. Or the crisp October nights or the memory of dogwoods blooming. Our loyalty is not only to William Richardson Davie, though we are proud of what he did 200 years ago today. Nor even to Dean Smith, though we are proud of what he did last March. No, our love for this place is based on the fact that it is, as it was meant to be, the University of the people."

Friday, November 7, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 7

Today I am thankful for...the hubby.

I can't really put into words how much I love, depend on, care for, need the hubby. We've known each other for 17 years. Most major events in our lives we have done side-by-side - moves, losses, weddings, funerals, grad school, house purchases, layoffs, new jobs, and, of course, peanut. He's the first I want to talk to when something happens, or I hurt, or I need a laugh. He is truly my best friend.

Today, I hope, he has a great day. Today, he is taking part in a unique Carolina basketball experience with my brother-in-law that my sister and I arranged for their Christmas gift. I hope he has a blast - he deserves it for everything that he is to me and the peanut and everything he does everyday to make our lives joyful, easy and loving.

Thank you, hubby! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 6

Today I am thankful for...surprise gifts!

After running to Music Class this morning, then the library, then Target, then to hurry home to finish packing so we can load up the car after lunch and drive back to NC (yes, we were just there) for UNC's Homecoming this weekend, I came home to a box sitting on my porch. Now, oftentimes the hubby will order some nerdy computer book from Amazon and not warn me of its arrival so I am typically disappointed once I see the label on the box. But this was bigger than a book box. And it was addressed to me.

I happily dragged it (and the peanut and the two Target bags and the box of kitty litter and the diaper bag) into the house and eagerly tore it open. Inside was a pretty gold bag. Inside the pretty gold bag was a pretty white wine: "Mommy's Time Out Pinot Grigio." Next to the pretty white wine was a lovely note from High Heeled Mama's Aunt P.

A perfect gesture in the perfect moment. She couldn't have known it would arrive in the middle of such a hectic day, but it served its purpose. It caused me to stop, take a breath, read a caring note and smile. So thank you, Aunt P. I truly appreciate it. Unfortunately, due to the six hour car ride looming ahead of us in just an hour or two, I can't crack it open just now (although I am extremely tempted to). I'll just have to chill it and have it waiting for me after the return trip on Sunday when I'll REALLY need it!

And the bonus is the box full of Styrofoam peanuts that are keeping my peanut occupied while I type this and finish packing. The gift that keeps on giving!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 5

Today I am thankful for...sunny days.

"Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away."

Ah, those glorious words from Sesame Street. Puts a spring in your step, doesn't it? One of the benefits of living in the south is relatively mild weather year round. Sure, it's brutally hot in the summer with air so thick you can feel it and we have our share of cold, blustery winter days. But the south does transition seasons marvelously well with warm, green days in spring and crisp, clear days in fall. Add in a two-year-long drought and we have more sunny days than not.

Today is one of those beautiful transition days. Clear, sunny, dry skies with mild temps in the low 70s. One of those days where our outdoor workout was perfect - warm, but not too hot - and the post-workout playground time was fun for moms and peanuts. One of those days where you have to stop and enjoy just how beautiful it really is, basking in the warmth of the sunshine.

Peanut has always loved being outside. He would instantly quiet as a newborn just stepping onto the porch. There were plenty of evenings when the hubby would come home from work to find us sitting on the front porch simply because peanut was happier breathing the fresh air. He hasn't changed a bit. We spend time outdoors EVERY DAY (unless there is a deluge, which is not too common in these parts lately). As long as it's above 32 degrees, we're out there. Bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens in the winter, lathered in sunscreen and hitting the pool when it's miserably hot in the summer.

I am so excited to spend time with peanut as he grows up doing the outdoor things that I loved doing as a child - hiking in the woods, sailing, camping, picnics, biking, going to the ocean. Days like today give me a glimpse of the future of memories that our family will create. Days outside. Beautiful days. Sunny days.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 4

Today I am thankful for...the right to vote.

It's finally here. This election has gotten downright nasty. Barbs, accusations, threats. It felt personal on the days when I heard I apparently was not a real Virginian because I lived in NoVa or the insinuation that I'm not a real American with real problems because I live in a city and not a small town.

But the fact of the matter is, we're all Americans. And we all have a voice. It's the beauty of living where we do. And with that right comes great responsibility. Responsibility to engage in the process and make a choice. Responsibility to respect another's right to make a different choice than you. Responsibility to come together behind whomever the next commander in chief is and work to find solutions to the very real problems that affect both democrats and republicans.

So, today I am thankful that the line only took me an hour and change to get through. I am thankful that peanut behaved relatively well during our hour long wait. I am thankful for the North Atlanta High School PTSA for having a bake sale with treats that I could bribe peanut with during those last 20 minutes when the books and coloring books weren't enough. I am thankful that I cast my ballot. And I am extremely thankful that we won't have to sit through any more negative messages.

If you haven't yet voted, get out there! You'll be thankful you did.

Monday, November 3, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

Today I am thankful for...paint.

I spent the last several days painting our "keeping room." I don't really know what a keeping room is, but it's the random room next to our kitchen that we currently have set-up with our casual dining table and occasionally serves as my home office. It has desperately needed paint since the moment we moved in four years ago, but there were other rooms that were tackier and took a higher priority. Then we had a baby and weekend, DIY projects like that just fell to the wayside, along with our free time.

But it was time. Peanut and I spend a lot of time in that room eating meals, snacks, playing Play-Doh, doing projects and the tacky, wet-Band-Aid brown that had been shoddily slapped on the walls in an attempt to cover the tackier wet-cement gray-green that was underneath it was no longer cutting it. So, after a couple of trips to Home Depot, I put on my painting cap and got started.

In our house, I'm the DIY leader. My dad taught my sister and I how to paint a room the right way. We helped paint living rooms, painted our own bedrooms, repaired holes in the wall, helped choose colors. The painting in our married home has largely fallen on my shoulders. I don't mind it, really. It's so satisfying to watch a physical transformation that you are responsible for.

And that's where I am today. Basking in the glow of my accomplishment. Loving my clean, beautiful sage green walls that are aptly named, "Rejuvenate." Ahhhh.

I'm almost inspired to paint the final room in our house I haven't touched yet...the kitchen. Almost.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 2

I am thankful for...calendars.

And subtle hubbies who ask, "Did you have a reason you chose 31 days for your blog when November has 30 days?"

Um, no reason other than not thinking about how many days are in November. Oops. More proof that the pregnancy stupids never go away.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

30 Days of Thanks: Day 1

I am thankful for...Date Night.

Before I had peanut, I used to secretly laugh at married couples who talked about date night. Oh how cocky I felt in my freedom. Before peanut, we did not have any need to schedule a night out. We just went out. Whenever. At the last minute. To expensive restaurants. To movies. To anywhere.

Once peanut arrived and it took me two hours to plan for our first trip out for breakfast that turned into lunch because it took so long to get these novice parents out the door with a two-week old baby, I realized how naive I had been. With family and therefore readily available and free babysitting two states away, it's been a struggle for us to commit and plan on date nights.

Luckily, we did find a great babysitter and we have friends who are also in the same boat and willing to swap sitting services, but it's really easy to settle into our homebody life and spend our free nights at home with Netflix. So, it was a lovely surprise to have the hubby tell me a week ago that we'd be going out tonight. That he had gotten tickets for a comedy show, that he'd lined up some friends to come watch peanut, that I didn't have to worry about anything other than what to wear.

And on our one weekend home together out of four weekends, it's just what we need. Some alone time. Some time together to laugh. Some time together to reconnect about something other than grocery lists, peanut's nap schedule (because we're still trying to make -up sleep from last week) and planning our next drive to NC next weekend.

Not to mention it's a great excuse to pull out those new heels I bought. Now that IS something to be thankful for.