Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

In honor of Thanksgiving, I've listed 99 things I'm grateful for. I hope I never take them for granted:

Colorful autumn leaves
An unexpected snowfall
Fountain Diet Coke
Someone writing on my Facebook wall
A Sunday nap on a sunny couch
Hot drinks on cold days
Cold drinks on hot days
Finding the perfect rock
A belly laugh
Photo albums
Gatherings with loved ones
A hot bath
A massage
A good book – anywhere, anytime
Primary presidency meetings (really!)
D.C. in the spring
Having all my family home safe and sound at night
Google (what did we ever do without it?)
Hydrangeas in Takoma Park
A fully tummy
A crackling fire
Music, music, music
The National Portrait Gallery
Being a U.S. citizen
Having confident kids who know they’re loved
A phone call from a friend
Spotting crocuses on a warm February day
A warm, comfy bed
Road trips!
Playing cards with Mom, Dad and Darryl
Shopping and lunch with Kate
Seeing “my” egret on her pond on the subway ride home from work
Parents who are storytellers extrodinaire!
The smell of rain on red rocks and sagebrush
Lakes, streams, rivers, ponds
The sound of Kate with her friends
Eating breakfast for dinner
Adventures to New York City
Access to doctors and medical facilities
Down from the Mountain album
People with a sense of humor
A good stretch
Darryl’s belly laugh
A colorful family history
Primary songs and hymns
The view out my office window
Puffy clouds
Blue, blue skies
Soaking my feet in hot water in the bathroom sink
A clean house
Having the missionaries over for dinner
Book club
A pantry full of food
People who share because they want to
Compassion and gentleness
Bear hugs
Good families and vigilant parents
A fiercely orange sunset
Growing up surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles
Mom’s chili sauce
Walking through University Park in May when everything is blooming
Bright colors
David’s calm and even tempered nature
Keeping a secret
Alone time
Bread pudding with caramel sauce
Just-picked fruit, tomatoes or corn
The farmer’s market
Second chances (or third or fourth)
Primary kids – wiggles and all
Open mindedness
The long days of summer
Friends who me and still love me!
Reading books with kids
People who look me in the eye
Stupid/funny movies
A heavy rain with lots of thunder (as long as I’m inside)
Getting out the Christmas decorations
Mom’s oatmeal raisin cookes

The Mail Order Tree

Two years ago I was googling what the best Christmas tree was. I was intrigued by the frazier fir but, alas, none of the tree lots here carried them. So I googled even more and found out I could order one from Maine. They'd cut it and ship it the same day. It would arrive at my door. So, with great enthusiam I ordered the tree and anxiously awaited its arrival. Here's a picture story of what happened.

The In Between

It's Thanksgiving Eve which means it's less than a month before Christmas! So, this is the time we try to squeeze in the holidays -- the in between time where we have big holiday dinners TWICE in a month! And haul out all those decorations. And shop, well over shop, for our family and friends. It's a time when we squeeze in a ridiculous amount of parties and get togethers. It's a time to cook and bake like a maniac. For me, it's a time when I resolve to do things differently THIS year, but I usually don't. I guess that's how traditions are formed. so now I'm spilling the beans about the traditions that I have created for myself...and love:

1. Crazy baking. When everyone is gone or asleep, I like to make a ton of candy and butter balls. I whip around the TV so I can see it from the kitchen, get in my sweats and bake away.

2. McShopping. I take a day off work without telling anyone in the family. I get up early and shop and I always stop at McDonalds for a hamburger, french fries and Diet Coke. These must be consumed while driving between stores and Christmas music must be blaring.

3. Wrap a Thon. Again, a solo activity. Must have use of the entire living room and have at least 10 kinds of wrapping paper with loads of different ribbons and card tags. A humongous Diet Coke and some homemade caramels must be within reach!

4. Christmas Clean. I think I got this from my mom. The house has to be spick and span for Christmas. This means every nook and cranny. And it can't just look clean, it has to smell clean. The ironing gets done while watching a Christmas movie. The fridge gets cleaned while the Carpenters serenade me.

5. Candle Mania. I will spend a lot of money on candles. I love Hobble Creek's Orange Spice candle. It IS Christmas! I spent well over $100 last year just on candles. Candles = Happiness!

Now, what I always say I am going to do, but never do:

1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
2. Adopt a needy family.
3. Read the Christmas story out of the New Testament
4. Go to lots of free Christmas concerts
5. Go easy on the presents
6. Write thoughtful Christmas cards to family and friends
7. Watch "It's a Wonderful Life"
8. Play board games with the family
9. Invite people over for dinner, games or dessert

Yeah, those things never get done, so hopefully I'll have a lot more Christmases to work on it.

Monday, November 10, 2008


This is absolutely, positively, unequivocably my favorite time of the year!! I am struck speechless by the dazzlingly colored leaves. I can't get enough breaths of the crisp, chill-laced air. I can't stop looking at the brillant blue sky. I love all the bright red, yellow and green apples piled high. I want to buy every single pumpkin and gnarled squash and gourd I see. I want to skip down every leaf covered sidewalk and kick up leaves into mini leaf swirls.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am rock freak. I love rocks. I love to look for them, pick them up, hunt them on the cliffs and hills of Utah, along the streams of Maryland, and in the fields of Pennsylvania. Well, I have a secret: I am a leaf freak, too!! I brake for pretty leaves. I will go right up to someone's house and knock on the door and ask if I can take some leaves off their trees or grass. I will go on leaf-hunting walks (paper bag in tow) just to find the perfect leaf. And I will arrange them and feel them and look at them and wallow in the wonderfulness of their amazing colors.

I have two new leaf collections right now. One is my "Waldon Pond" collection -- acquired last month when we went on our "Autumn Road Trip" to New England. The other is my "Election Leaves" collection, which consists of gorgeous leaves I picked up after walking to the elementary school to vote. A gentle rain had just stopped and the sun was at that oh-so-perfect afternoon place where everything looks cleaner, brighter, more vibrant. I didn't ever want to go back into the house. I just wanted to walk and breathe and collect and bask in the wonderfulness of the moment.

From my office window, I can look out over miles of trees -- clear into D.C. At this time of the year, the National Cathedral is surrounded by a sea of yellow-orange trees. I practically have to pinch myself to believe that I am blessed by such a site.

And so, I will love every single moment left during this glorious time of the year....and I'll have my secret leaf collection to steal glances of when Winter finally has her way and spreads her wintery arms across the land.