Giving Thanks

Thank you, Lord for the gifts you have so freely given to me and my family. My children are healthy, and so is my marriage. We have a comfortable (albeit messy) home. My parents are enjoying life and the grandkids. And a Disney trip is on the horizon (single digits even!) And as we move into the chaotic, often whirlwindish time leading up to Christmas, I pray that I can slow down and focus on what is really important. The reason for the season. Spending time together. Homemade gifts. Creating memories. And by the way, I hope that for you, too.

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Happy Birthday Cali

Our wonderful golden just turned 12-and I am so thankful for every single day I can spend with her. She was just diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. She will eventually lose the ability to walk. (It is similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease). Just imagining our energetic, ball chasing dog with this debilitating disease is hard, so instead I have to focus on celebrating her and what she has meant to our family. So excuse the sentimentality but I need it to keep from being sad.

I still remember going to the breeders on a whim after seeing the newspaper ad. Watching the 6 puppies scurry around on the basement floor and then falling in love with the cute furball that loved to wedge herself against the wooden wall of her crate. To this day, she loves to sleep with her back against something. Or the funny habit she has of giving you her paw-I think she does it just to feel closer to you (but who am I kidding? I’m no dog whisperer). We immediately chose the name Cali, but the “official” AKC name didn’t come until later–Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Those first few years were lively, challenging, and fun. We didn’t have kids yet, so Cali was our fur child. She chewed on windowsills, the baby gate, and anything else she could get her teeth on. She’s destroyed more stuffed animals than I care to think about before we stopped buying them. And her special football-the one that squeaked–she would chase it down all day. Literally. The football eventually gave way to tennis balls and we had to resort to hitting the balls with a racket to still give her the exercise she craved. We took her on monster walks and had puppy play sessions with friends.

And then all our worlds changed when Taylor was born. But Cali? Ever the gentle giant, she has tolerated pulled fur and babies crawling on her, less attention and fewer walks, more time alone as we head off to various activities. And yet she’s always there to greet us when we get home with a wagging tail and a whimper. Some of our funniest memories of Cali involve food: she’s eaten a gingerbread house we inadvertently left on the kitchen table, a giant birthday cookie we left on the oven, and a entire jumbo bag of M&M’s. (Can we say sweet tooth?) I wish I could better describe how woven into the fabric of our family Cali is. But if you have a pet that you love dearly, you get it. So since it’s Thanksgiving and Cali’s birthday, I give thanks to God for blessing us with an amazing dog.

Brick Walls and a Kick in the Teeth

OK, I know this is no news flash for most of you, but I didn’t make the Disney Moms Panel this year. Yes, I was disappointed but not devastated. All through the process, I kept getting these reminders that really helped me keep it all in perspective. Like the news that one of Clay’s colleagues has cancer again and the doctors are now saying the new treatment won’t work. Or the friend that’s searching for a new job and her mojo simultaneously because she hasn’t done the job search thing in forever. Or the family court case I immediately had to rush to after my “thanks for applying” call–where  my client was petitioning to get her twin 2 year olds back after A YEAR in someone else’s custody. No, I’m not thrilled that these people are dealing with hardships or facing insurmountable odds-but it was something I needed to be reminded of to keep my eye on the “big picture.” I’m leaning real heavy on FAITH and TRUST and hoping that the pixie dust will happen someday-but I’ll be OK if it doesn’t (just don’t tell the selection committee I said that!)

For whatever reason, I have really been thinking alot about Randy Pausch lately. I remember watching the Last Lecture. The goosebumps hearing his story. The “oh my gosh I’m gonna cry lump in my throat” watching his wife as he delivered this inspiring lecture and knowing he would leave 3 kids behind. Maybe my emotions were ratcheted up because like Randy, my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. So when I heard “No”, I ran to pull Pausch’s book off the shelf, searching for the quote I wanted–no, NEEDED–at that moment:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show us how badly we want something.” Amen!

Or as Walt would say, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” (Seriously, this one’s a stretch-that really sounds painful!) So, after my teeth kicking, what now? Well, I am willing to go on record and say Disney better watch out next year because I’m bringing it with everything I’ve got! And for every brick wall I face, I’m gonna go after what I want with even more determination, zeal, and gumption. You’re either a Tigger or a Pooh. Well, excuse my grammar, but I ain’t no Eeyore!

Bittersweet

I’m constantly being reminded that my kids are growing up, but this week really gave me the 1-2 punch. First, my 9 year old daughter asked me if Peter, our Christmas elf from “Elf on the Shelf” fame, is real. And where did this out-of-the-blue idea come from? From a stinking “One Step Ahead” catalog, which sells…wait for it…baby and preschool toys! Yeah, on the back cover, it features “Christopher Pop-in-kins” the elf and reminds parents to “keep moving the doll around.” Geez, I didn’t know I needed to screen my toy catalog from the kids! Way to disillusion my child, people! And what’s worse, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve ordered anything from them either (and definitely won’t now).

So you can imagine the topic of the next question after the revelation about our beloved Peter-yep, Santa Claus. And imagine your child looking at you with those imploring, puppy dog eyes and saying, ” Mommy, tell me the truth.” Granted, I knew this day was coming and truth be told, she took the news with grace and was even enthusiastic about her future role in moving Peter around for little brother, Jared. She seemed excited to be let in on the grownup secret and figuring out what exactly happens to the milk and cookies. She was ready-but I wasn’t.

Which brings me to the second little revelation, this time involving Jared. He excitedly tells me he has a loose tooth and when he wiggles it, it almost pops out of his mouth! Yes, this is my “baby” and the idea that he will soon have a snaggletoothed grin just guts me for some reason. Keep in mind that I cried at the end of Toy Story 3 (then again, most moms I ask say they did too, so I’m in good company). So what if I should have stock in Kleenex? In these moments, I’m reminded why I chose to stay home in the first place- to catch these milestone moments as they happen. And I find myself turning on my mental video camera because I need to remember all this, knowing full well that the tween and teen years are soon to follow. OK, now I REALLY need a Kleenex!

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