Friday, November 25, 2011

So Much to be Thankful For

This year I borrowed an idea from one of my very creative friends (thanks Erin!) and made a "Thankful Tree". The kids were able to write down (or tell me and I'd write down) what they were thankful for and then we'd put that leaf on the tree. They had so much fun doing it and it was a beautiful reminder all month of the blessings in our lives.
Here are what the leaves said:
*clean running water
*Playing and sharing
*Artwork/being able to draw and color
*the zoo
*vitamins and medicines
*healthy bodies
*Heavenly Father
*The Book of Mormon
*the Farm
*a warm heater in our house
*Grandma and Grandpa Bassett
*Grandma and Grandpa Larsen
*warm socks and shoes
*Lamby (Grant's favorite stuffed animal)
*peaches and pears
*cars and trucks
*building blocks
*tree stars
*a dishwasher
*Anna and Sophia (our goldfish)
*Daddy's job

This year the kids made table decorations for our Thanksgiving dinner. They colored Teepee place cards, colored turkey napkin rings, and painted little pumpkins to go on the table. They turned way cute!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude is a verb

A group of friends and I make monthly goals around a certain theme and work on them throughout the month. This month we have been focusing on gratitude. These extraordinary women each made wonderful goals: one decided to offer only prayers of gratitude; another blogged each day about one thing she is grateful for; and another is writing down three things each day that she is grateful for. I've also noticed that several people post daily on facebook what they are thankful for that day. As for me, it's been a crazy month with school so I decided to do a 'gratitude journal' where I'd write down 5 things each day that I am thankful for. That lasted for like 2 days (I'm a bit scatterbrained and forgot to do it) and it didn't feel as sincere as I thought it would. So then I made a goal to try the 'gratitude-only-prayers'. Those were nice but it still felt like I was missing something. Then I figured out what it was: action. I thank God for my blessings but do I show that I'm grateful? I can write a list a mile long of the blessings in my life, but do I act in a way that shows I am grateful? For the most part, probably not. So this month I have decided to not only focus on the things I am grateful for, but also show my gratitude in varying ways.

1. I am grateful for my children. But how do I treat them? Upon some close personal examination I have noticed that I often put them off for things I want to do (i.e. "Jane I can't color with you, I'm reading.") or I lose my temper easily over stupid things. So, to show that I'm grateful for my children, I have made the goal to make time for them. To watch my temper and not get so frustrated. To see things from their perspective and treat them with kindness.

2. I am grateful for my husband. I seriously won the lottery with this guy! He is the kindest, most thoughtful person and he puts up with me (which says a lot!). But I've noticed that I don't treat him with the love and tenderness that I should. I need to be kinder, more understanding of him and cut him a break. He works hard at work and at school to give our family a good life and yet I complain that he leaves dirty tubberware in his lunch pail or doesn't leave his dirty clothes right where I want him to. In short, I take him for granted and that needs to stop. Every day I need to acknowledge how blessed I am to have him in my life and show him with little acts of love.

3. I am grateful for my health. I have been very blessed in my life to have good health. I wasn't born with any physical or mental handicaps. I don't have any major illnesses or deformities. But how do I treat my body and the health that I enjoy? Pretty much I take it for granted and it's taking its toll. So I've made the goal to be consistently physically active to do my part in keeping my health. For the last 4 weeks, I have stuck to a regular workout schedule and it feels great!

4. I am grateful for food to eat. I have never had to go hungry and that is truly a blessing. Even with Trent and I in school and a very limited income, there is still food on our table, in our bellies, and on our shelves when I know that so many go without. So I've decided to show my gratitude by not over indulging. I think sometimes we eat just because we can, but in a world were so many go without and food is a limited resource, I feel that I can do my part by only eating what I need to. This has also helped with my health the past few weeks so win-win.

5. I am grateful for clean, running water. Once again I have never had to go without this (minus a few camping trips). And although it is in abundance in this country, it is a limited resource that so many don't have. So just like food, my goal is to limit consumption/use. Long hot showers are my favorite but should probably be an exception instead of a rule.

6. I am grateful to live in a safe place. I don't have to worry so much about shootings or drugs or gangs where we live. But to show my gratitude I've decided I need to do my part to keep our neighborhood a nice place to live. My goal is to contribute to my community. Be a safe place for the kids of the neighborhood to go. Give back to my neighbors when they are in need. Maybe even attend city council meetings.

7. I am grateful for a warm house safe from the elements. I am not a particular fan of cold weather and every night I get to snuggle up in a warm, soft bed and sleep without having to worry about freezing. So many don't have that luxury. If I counted, I'm sure we would have over 30 different blankets in our house, when there are people who have fallen on hard times that have nothing to shield them from the elements except for someone else's discarded newspaper. So I've decided to go through our mass quantity of blankets and warm clothes and give them to others who need them more than we do. I can show my gratitude by giving some of what I have been so blessed with to others.

8. I am grateful for the kindness of others. I have so many wonderful people in my life that do little things that bring me so much happiness. Whether it's a call or a note or a text or even a little act of kindness, it goes a long way with me and I am so grateful for the wonderful friends that I have. That said, I feel I need to be a better friend to others. I like to write thank-you cards a lot to tell people how much they mean to me, but wouldn't it be more effective if I showed them? I need to indulge more in little acts of kindness.

9. I am grateful for education. My parents and grandparents sacrificed so much to see to it that I could have an education and I got one--heck I got a 4 year degree. But I don't remember much of what I learned. I crammed for tests and skimmed by just for the grade and four years later I didn't have much to show for myself other than a degree. Luckily I have a second chance. I was able to go back to school this semester to get my EMT certification. I don't want to skim by. I don't want to pass by the skin of my teeth. I want to learn. I need to show that I am grateful for the opportunity to learn by actually learning and spending time studying and caring about what I am going to school for. (which is actually pretty hard for a scatter-brain like myself, but I am trying!)

10. I am grateful for my family. Growing up I wanted to be apart of a different family--one who played sports and was normal. Now I realize just how cool my family is. My dad is a very unique person and I am proud to be his daughter. My mother is a strong woman and I would be happy to turn out like her as a mother and a wife and a person. My brothers are good men with wacky senses of humor. My Aunt Charlene is my guardian angle. My Grandma Larsen was the coolest lady I've known--so strong and independent and giving. My Great Grandma Sundstrom taught me the importance of 'being a lady'. My Grandpa McGary taught me to find joy in nature. I am surrounded by these wonderful people and yet I don't' tell them often enough that I love them and that I am grateful for them. I need to be able to express my love for my family members and let them know what wonderful people they are and how they have shaped my life.

I know in the dictionary the word 'gratitude' is listed as a noun, but this year (and hopefully for years to come) I'd like to think of it as a verb--an action word. It's one thing to silently reflect on what I'm grateful for, but it's a step further to actually show gratitude for those things with which I am so blessed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween, 2011

We had a fantastic Halloween this year. It has been a month of parties, Halloween shows, dressing up, decorating, pumpkins, and make-believe. Grant started to get it this year. He still doesn't speak English all that well but he learned "Trick-or-Treat" pretty darn fast. He also came up with "scary fingers"--he'd wiggle them at you and go "wooooo! ooooooo!" Jane was extatic about everything Halloween. She had a lot of festivities between school and friends and church and was constantly bringing the Halloween spirit to our home.
Saturday we carved our pumpkins. Jane jumped right in tearing out the 'pumpkin guts' but Grant was totally freaked out by them! The kid who eats anything and is into everything wouldn't put his hand inside the pumpkin. It was hilarious!On Halloween, I had to go to class all night so I tried to make the most of the hours I did have with the kids. We made 'Witch's Brew' (aka homemade Root Beer) and the kids loved it!!! They fought over who got to stir and they kept waving thier hands over the dry ice fog in a sinister-witchy sort of way. We also got a Jack-O-Lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's and Jane thought it was the best thing ever. I wanted to take the kids trick-or-treating before class so we went out around 4:30 pm and hit 4 houses before we had to head in and eat dinner so I could leave. I was so sad I almost cried driving to school. Trent took them trick-or-treating around the rest of our neighborhood and then went down to his parent's house in Lehi and took them around their neighborhood. He kept waiting for them to get tired out, but those little Energizer Bunnies just kept going. They took home quite the loot! (Trent had to keep emptying their buckets into a bag so they could keep going). I can't wait for next year. . .

Pumpkins. . . . . . . . . . . . $6
'Witch's Brew'. . . . . . . . . . . $4
Costumes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $40
Jack-O-Lanturn Pizza. . . . . . .$9
The Magic of Halloween. . . . . . . . . . PRICELESS!!!