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Simple Things I Am Thankful For…

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, where I was born and spent the first eight years of my life.  We are not celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada today (we had it last month), but with all the disturbing things going on in the world right now, it makes me think of the things in my life I am thankful for.  Here they are, in the order I’ve thought of them:

1. A Healthy Love Relationship.  I am thankful to have found a man who loves me, works hard, is an amazing father, and would rather cut off his right arm than hurt me or our children.

2. A Loving Family.  We definitely argue, but I don’t know what we would do without each other. 

3. Clean Water.  We can turn on a tap and have an almost unlimited amount of clean water!

4. Clean Air.  The air that we breathe is very clean, and smells good most of the time.   

5. Plentiful, Fresh Food.  We can go to a store and buy nearly anything we need, or grow it ourselves in uncontaminated soil.  We have a refrigerator and a freezer to help keep the food preserved.  We have a stove and a microwave to cook the food. 

6. A Roof Over Our Heads.  I can’t imagine not having a warm, clean place to come home to.

7. Freedom of Movement.  I can go where I want, when I want to, without being afraid. 

8. Freedom of Speech.  I have the right to say, write, read, or listen to almost anything without fear of repercussion (within libel/slander laws).

9. The Right to Vote.  Thanks to some outspoken women who came before me, women in Canada have had the right to vote in federal elections since 1919. 

10. The Ability to Read and Write.  I could not live without books, and writing keeps me sane.  The ability to read allows me to learn new things every day.

11. Government-Sponsored Health Care.  If my child is ill, I can take her to the doctor without worrying about how to afford the treatment.

12. Music.  Good music makes me feel a huge range of emotions…there are so many talented musicians in our world.

Please take a moment to think about all the simple things you are thankful for…

I hope that all my family and friends have a wonderful holiday!  Thank you for taking time from your busy day to visit me in Hammond River!

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Filed under books, family, food, friends, music

Rediscovering Our Home…

On Saturday, I saw something I hadn’t seen in quite a while: my kitchen counter!  It was amazing!

Here’s the background: A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from an old college friend in Ontario, who said that he and his family were planning to vacation in the Maritimes this summer.  They wanted to stop in to see us.  Great – that’s exciting!  However, our house is a disaster most of the time – only relatives are allowed to see it in that state!  I realized that we would have to do some serious “rallying of the troops” in order to accomplish our mission of convincing our guests that they made the right choice in staying at our house instead of in their tent at a campground!

Did I mention we’re procrastinators?  Brad and his family were scheduled to arrive on Saturday afternoon…we started cleaning Thursday night (yes, the Thursday two days before THE Saturday!).  After about 4 hours, I couldn’t believe how much I’d accomplished (although I was the only one doing anything productive at the time)…it really doesn’t take that long once you get down to it!

Jim had the day off on Friday, so I took the day off too (you can do that when you’re self-employed).  We got up early, Jim dropped the kids off at school (half-day for the younger ones – last day, high schoolers had to go and pick up report cards), and arrived back home.  Jim had volunteered to do the bathrooms…he set about scrubbing and washing blinds in the bathtub…he looked very cute in his teal rubber gloves!   I started on massive amounts of laundry.   It wasn’t long before it was time to pick up the kids at school…off Jim went again.  I put some Jann Arden on, and continued my cleaning.  I love having the house to myself – I can play my music without any kids whining “What’s this crap?”

When the kids got home, I got them started sorting through their stuff in various rooms.  Anna and Brianna cleaned the kids’ bathroom downstairs, which was a jungle of girls’ paraphernalia – makeup, hair products, nail polish, ponytail ties, headbands, hair dryers, and straighteners.  Hope carefully went through the things that were piled willy-nilly in the corners of our dining room, laying them out on the table for their owners to pick up and put away.  Devin had to work for his school’s tech crew on Friday (for graduation exercises), so he was excused from housework that day.

By Friday night, we were starting to see some real progress…why hadn’t we done this before?  I stayed up until midnight drying clothes.

Saturday morning, we got up early again…I decided it would be a good idea to do our last minute grocery run first thing, since I wasn’t sure what time our guests would arrive.  The kids cleaned while we were gone, and Devin helped put away the groceries when we got back home.  I picked up some dulse (dried seaweed) for the Ontarians to try, and a local paper since I knew Brad was a news junkie (they brought us a bottle of wine, and some local beer from Cambridge).

I folded the huge pile of laundry, and the kids actually put it away right away (we will, however, need to have a sock-sorting party – I don’t sort socks, especially since the girls like to mix and match them, which creates more “orphans” later).

We continued cleaning right up until our guests arrived about 3 in the afternoon.  Brad and I were glad to see each other (it had been six years), and I was happy to finally get a chance to meet his wife and daughters.  Jim and Christy drove the kids into town to the midway (they came back in time for supper).  I enjoyed showing them our garden (we had fresh salad with our BBQ).

I had decided to put Brad and Christy in Anna’s room…it was great to see her floor when it wasn’t covered in dirty clothes!  I’m sure Brad appreciated the Twilight posters and the pink zebra print comforter too!  Hope had blown up the double air mattress and set it up on the floor of her room for the two girls, who got to stare at multiple images of Justin Bieber on Hope’s walls (she gave them a lot of her extra posters – she only collects Justin!).

Brad and his family left after a big breakfast on Sunday morning (and a photo session in the back yard)…it was fun to see them…I hope they’ll come back again when they can stay longer!

I’m hoping we can keep our house in the same shape it’s in (and keep working on it to make it even better)!

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Counting My Blessings…

After a particularly horrendous week, I feel the need to stop wallowing in self-pity and take stock of the good parts of my life.  Here are some of the people and things I am grateful for:

1. Jim.  He came into my life 2 years ago…I waited a long time to find the “right guy.”  He is gentle, loving, supportive, and a great dad (and stepdad – how many stepdads help their stepdaughters dye their hair?).  Jim drives the kids wherever they need to go.  Our birthdays are four days (and one year) apart – we’re so alike it’s scary.  We rarely fight because we know why the other one reacts that way.  We love to travel on short trips, and go to concerts and shows.

Jim and I at the Eagles Concert - Magnetic Hill, Moncton, Summer, 2008

2. My parents.  My mom died in September, 2007, but she raised me to be a strong, independent woman.  I will always remember what she taught me.  My dad came to live with me to help with the kids after my marriage broke up (he’s been with me for almost 12 years now).  We run the bookstore together, and he does a lot of chores around the house.  We don’t always see eye to eye (we’re both stubborn!), but get along well most of the time.

3. My kids and stepkids.  All of them are smart, and reasonably well-mannered. 

Kaylee is the oldest – the mommy of my granddaughter (see #4).  She has expressed interest in being either a photographer like her Gramma was, or a radio person like her dad.  Kaylee lives with her man, Scott.  They both work hard to raise Elise.

Scott and Kaylee...

Devin is Jim’s son and our only boy.  He is our junior techie, and keeps the many household computers running.  Devin is part of the tech crew at school, and has put in some very long hours working behind the scenes on their theatrical productions.  He lets our dog sleep in his room at night while the rest of us are upstairs.

Anna is my middle daughter.  She is a talented artist and photographer, and active on her school’s cheerleading squad.  Anna is our fashion plate and delights in spending my money.

Brianna is Jim’s daughter.  She also does cheerleading.  Brianna is our giggling girl.  She loves jumping on the trampoline.  Brianna also enjoys drawing, and likes dogs.

Hope is our youngest.  She is an amazing singer.  She takes care of Jake, making sure he’s bathed, walked and fed.  Hope is our most assertive child – if we forget to get ketchup at the fast food joint, she will go back and ask for some.

Kids in Shediac - Summer, 2009

4. Elise.  This little sweetheart is only 7 1/2 months old, but she has stolen my heart.  I always said I wouldn’t be one of those grammas who carries a photo album around in my purse, but I do anyway (just in case I run into someone who doesn’t have Facebook).

Elise - Seven Months...

5. Jake.  Even though he’s been “in the doghouse” all week for destroying my seedlings THREE times, I don’t know what we’d do without him!  Every morning when we come downstairs, he greets us at the door with tailwagging and kisses.  When we come home from work, he tries to look innocent, even though he’s probably destroyed something while we were gone!

Jake...

6. Jim’s parents.  They help transport children to and fro, and hold family dinners at their house.  They got medicine for us when we were all sick with the flu.  They have welcomed me to their family with open arms – I couldn’t ask for better in-laws. 

Jim's Mom at her 70th Birthday Party...

7. Our extended family.  We both have siblings, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, who we don’t get to see as often as we’d like, but we always have a great time when we do get together.

8. My friends.  I have been fortunate to make some wonderful friends in many cities across Canada and the U.S.  You know who you are – I love you all!

9. Our country home.  We moved in almost 18 months ago.  I appreciate our picturesque view of the river and the hills on the other side every day.  We all enjoy seeing the variety of wildlife and birds who live here: deer, foxes, beavers, porcupines, raccoons, groundhogs, the occasional garter snake, eagles, hawks, ducks, seagulls, chickadees, goldfinches, robins, starlings and crows (haven’t seen a skunk yet, and hope not to!).

A Bird in Our Yard (taken by Jim)

10. My business.  I spend the day surrounded by old books.  Not much makes me happier than finding a gorgeous binding from the 1880’s with gilt-edged pages!  I have met some very interesting people through the store, and I learn new things every day.

Our Curved Front Door at the Store...

Thank you, everyone, for being an important part of my life…you’ve all helped make me the person I am today!

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Filed under family, memories, self-discovery