Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gratitude Day 30 - Done!

So for my final day, I'm cheating a little.  I'm recycling aspects of my previous lists in order to highlight the top #3 things that I'm most grateful for.  The irony is that none of them are "things":

1) My Heavenly Father, who has given me a compass to follow, a moral code that improves my life, a belief system that inspires eternal hope, and a village of like-minded people in which to raise my family.
2) My wife, as my marriage to her was simply the best decision I have ever made.
3) My children, for they bring joy to my life and hope for the future.

So, I did it.  I finished 30 days of my Gratitude List.  At times, it was actually pretty hard to think of things that I hadn't done before.  For today, I cheated a bit but this was really how I wanted to end this anyway.  So ... what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gratitude Days 27-29

Ack, so another few days have gone by without me posting my Gratitude List.  I've only got a few more days, which will be somewhat of a relief because life is, frankly, busy, and being required to write every night has been a pain.  Anyway, here's my list for today, related to events from the past few days:

1) I'm grateful for good friends who bring us Christmas goodies.  Even though my hypoglycemic wife can't eat any of it, I sure do appreciate it!  And she does appreciate the sentiment, even if not the goodies.
2) I'm grateful that my children have a great piano teacher that cares about them and encourages them and, the meanie, forces them to have bi-yearly recitals to show off what they've been learning.  Without those, I'm not sure they would learn anything at all!
3) I'm grateful for the good people that work for me.  I lead a small team of software developers -- one of many of the duties that I do at work -- and each one of them is a reliable, responsible, and effective worker.  A few years back, when I was assembling my team, I was throwing the dice looking for a few good programmers, and the team that I have is awesome.
4) I'm grateful that my oldest son has finals right now.  He hates studying, but my wife and I are having a wonderful time torturing him.  We're so glad that he's being forced to be responsible with his schooling and take things seriously.
5) Related to this, I'm grateful that my wife is such a great teacher.  She has bachelors degrees in elementary education and special education, and even though she's never used those degrees in a professional setting, I can honestly say that whatever measure of success my children have had in school is a direct reflection of her amazing influence.  Right now she's drilling my oldest son on the structure of the federal government and how certain states rights are limited.  Awesome.
6) I'm grateful for Christmas.  I think I said something about this before, but my previous item was about the holiday season.  I really am grateful for Christmas itself, and how it is an opportunity to remember the great gift of the Savior and all the amazing things he has done for us.
7) I'm grateful for the U.S. Postal Service.  I know there's lots of people that want to do away with it, but I appreciate the fact that I can send a letter for a reasonable price and that mail is delivered to me reliably.  At this time of year, we use this service quite a bit exchanging Christmas cards and the like, and I am grateful that we can count on them.
8) I'm grateful for Christmas cards.  We take all the ones we get in the mail and tape them to the back of our front door.  This has been a tradition that I got from my parents, and it is a wonderful thing to see, at a glance, many of the wonderful people that we have crossed paths with in this life and who, at least for this one time of year, think about us and we about them and how they are doing.  Despite the evident cost savings that come from sending digital "cards", I hope that social inertia keeps people sending physical cards around.
9) I'm grateful for my health insurance which I get through my work.  I hate unexpected bills, and my HMO keeps me from getting nasty unexpected bills in the mail at random times.  The fact that my wife and I can go and randomly visit the doctor for various purposes (including getting physicals and blood work done for our adoption efforts) and never worry about the overall cost to us (okay, I admit that I detest paying out for co-pays) is something that I actually do think about and appreciate.

So, that's it for tonight!  2 more nights to go!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gratitude Days 23-26

Wow, so I totally fell down this week in doing my Gratitude lists, so I'm going to do them all in one blow.  A few notes from this week ...

 Wednesday I came home late from work and found all well with my family.  My wife was still suffering some of the worst effects from her cold, but she was doing all right.  We did nothing noteworthy that evening.

Thursday I went to work in the morning for a review to determine the readiness of my software to be deployed for use the by Mars missions (which went very well, as usual) and then came home early so I could get a nurse to look at where I had my TB test done on Tuesday.  I met with the wife and daughter and we went out to lunch and had a great day.  I tried to work from home the balance of the day, but it was scattershot due to my wife still not feeling very well and me volunteering to go pick up my younger son from school.  My older son, though, went to volunteer at the library (2 hours of sorting books -- woo hoo!) and then he and I went to the church for a white elephant party with all the young men and women from our ward and our neighboring ward.  It was sorta silly, but I wouldn't say it was "fun" because people didn't bring very inspiring stuff (the hottest gifts were some pink Christmas socks, a Christmas blanket, and a remote control spider that supposedly climbs walls).

Friday (last night), I went to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles with my oldest son.  The occasion was a field trip for the kids in his grade who are taking Spanish.  We took the Metro (1 hour both ways!) to get there and he was grouped with a bunch of nice kids.  We wandered the street for 4 hours!  We didn't need anywhere near that much time, but that's how the Spanish teacher scheduled it.  Myself and another father were the chaperones for our little group of six kids and it was quite nice to visit with him.  It took us a few hours to figure out that we were both members of the church, and he actually attends our old ward over in Valencia.  It's funny how we Mormons tend to find each other ...

This morning (Saturday), I went with my kids over to Lowe's for a workshop where they assembled a little wooden train. This was the third Saturday and the final one to get the complete Christmas train.  Afterwards we went to the mall and wandered around.  3 hours later we returned home nearly empty handed ... I had some light bulbs for some nightlights that we've needed and my younger son had purchased a little gift for his mother.  Ah, gotta love shopping right before the holidays.  We had some funny discussions about how when we go shopping for Mom for Christmas it's a tough job because it has to be a combination of something she wants or needs, but at an acceptable price, which is tough to do knowing what a bargain shopper she is.  We giggled about how she's not averse to taking things back that she gets for Christmas and all the kids thought it was funny when I said, in a high-pitched voice, "You paid how much for that?" mimicking my wife.  Okay, it wasn't funny, but ... well, okay, it was funny.  Meanwhile, my wife was off at Costco braving the crowds and not having any fun at all.

Now, I'm blogging instead of cleaning the toilets ...

So, my Gratitude List:

1) I'm grateful for being a salaried employee, so that I can take the time to be home when I need to be home, and make it up at other times.
2) I'm grateful that my work supports telecommuting and teleconferencing, for without that, it would be so much harder to make up those times ...
3) I'm grateful for the ability to telecommute and teleconference, in all its various flavors, so that I can work with people all across the country and in Europe and barely flinch at the differences in time zones and environments.
4) I'm grateful for my older son's voluntary attitude.  Sometimes he volunteers to help a little too much (example: he will on occasion offer to help people do the work that they are paid to do), but his willingness is always surprising.
5) I'm grateful for Christmas parties and that they only come once a year.  If they came more often then they wouldn't be so special.
6) I'm grateful for the school my oldest son goes to.  It's a charter school and is focused on college prep, and it actually hard for him.  As a smaller school with a dress code, it doesn't harbor many of the problems that run rampant through the regular junior high schools.
7) I'm grateful that my daughter is being home-schooled.  It's a wonderful blessing for her to be home with her mother and I appreciate the time they have together.  One of these days she's going to go back to public school and I think my wife is really going to miss having her here, and my daughter, I know, is going to miss having that time with her mother.
8) I'm grateful that my younger son has the wonderful 1st grade teacher that he has.  He had her last year in a kindergarten/1st grade split, and he's been cycled back in for his 2nd year.  She's a fantastic teacher that loves her students and I'm grateful that he has her as a teacher.
9) I'm grateful for my wife and that she is a very frugal woman.  She makes it possible for our little family to always have what we need because she uses the resources that we have so well.
10) I'm grateful that I have time to be with my children and to be able to go places with them.  Just walking the mall with them (and telling them "No, we're not buying that" about a million times) is such a rewarding thing for me, as I feel so blessed to have them.
11) I'm grateful that each of my children are healthy.  Talking with the other chaperone last night, I discovered he has a Down Syndrome 2-year-old, and I can't even imagine how challenging that must be and the long road he has ahead of him.
12) I'm grateful for Christmas lights, for they make everything look so bright and cheerful.

There, I think that catches me up ... a little random, but there you have it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gratitude Day 22

I stayed home from work today in order to go get a tuberculosis test this morning.  My wife also had the same test and also had a physical examination by the doctor.  We had to do these things as part of our paperwork to get ready to adopt.  Apparently, they want to know that we're not going to fall down dead the second after we get children in our home.  I can see their point, but it's a terrible hassle.  Worth it, though, we think.

The mid-day interruption, though, completely killed my productivity for work.  Ah, well.  That's the way it goes sometimes.  It didn't help that my wife wasn't doing very well this morning, so I took the time to take my boys to school.  This killed a good 45 minutes, but on the way, somehow my oldest son and I got talking about anti-trust laws.  It's so weird to have these kinds of conversations with him, as this is quite a grown-up topic.  Even so, he was fascinated as I shared with him the tale of Microsoft and their clobbering of Netscape in the browser wars, and how they were taken to court due to their anti-competitive policy of bundling Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system.  Crazy stuff.

Later, I heard some interesting news from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that is now recommending that all handheld usage for texting and talking be disallowed due to such activity being such a prominent cause of accidents.  They would make it illegal for drivers to use these kinds of devices, including in so-called "hands free" modes.  They make no such statements for passengers.  I can totally see their point, and I know I am not a great example when it comes to using such devices while I'm driving.  It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

So, my Gratitude List is an odd one today, related to these three topics:

1) I'm grateful for doctors, because it is very nice to be able to go to somebody who -- most of the time -- can provide words of wisdom, direction, and help when I'm not feeling so well.
2) I'm grateful for the NTSB.  Really, I am!  I watch The Amazing Race enough to see what the rest of the world is like for drivers, and I'm very, very grateful that we have such a governmental organization whose sole purpose is to seek for better transportation solutions.  They're not a flawless organization, to be sure, but I'm confident we're better off with them than without them.
3) I'm grateful for anti-trust laws.  The fact that we, as Americans, can go into pretty much any kind of store and be confronted with such an amazing assortment of choices at prices as low as they are (yes, they really are low compared to most other places in the world) is testimony to me that having businesses compete is by far more beneficial to the consumer than otherwise.

These things are a little random, but I do appreciate them!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gratitude Day 21

Today was my second day back at work since getting sick.  It was ... well ... it was.  I had a decent day.  I finished reviewing a 51 page document, met with some people to dispel some misunderstandings they had about how expensive it is to do some of the work that I do, and made plans to attend meetings in the near future in places that will be much colder than it is here.  I'll have to

1) I am grateful that I live in sunny southern California, where even when it's not sunny, the weather is still better than pretty much anywhere else in the country at any given moment in time.
2) I am grateful for opportunities that I have to travel to other places.  I prefer doing so with my family but I don't mind so much when I need to travel for work.  I appreciate that I have the freedom and the resources to do so and I most especially enjoy being able to explore new places and to experience new things.
3) I am grateful that I have the job that I have because, well, I actually like it.  This is huge, I know.  The other day I was looking through some stuff from my past and came across the final report for my senior project.  When my daughter asked what it was, I told her that it was the source of all things that enable her to live a comfortable life.  She didn't get it, but it is absolutely true that the genesis of all of the success I have seen in my career is that little spiral-bound senior project report.  Funny how life is ...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gratitude Day 20

Today is Sunday.  It is supposed to be a "day of rest", and today kinda was.  I ended up flying solo to church with the kids because my wife still isn't very well.  She seems to be bouncing back today, though, and we'll see how well she is doing tomorrow.

Sacrament meeting was pretty darn peaceful.  My kids were well-behaved and the speakers were quite good.  There was a musical number by seven sisters in the ward who played a musical number on the flute.  It was quite good and I was very impressed.  Playing the flute seems to be a dying art, and it was surprising that there were so many in our ward who play.

True to expectations, I didn't get a chance to share my lesson during deacon's quorum today.  The new secretary needed to be set apart, and the boys needed to debrief from the campout, and we needed to do some training on how to appropriately stand when they pass the sacrament.  All this ate up all the time, and when they finally turned the time over to me, we were already due to end the meeting.  So much for my preparations, but at least I was able to give the boys something to walk away with.  I had prepared a flyer on the Duty to God that outlined steps for finishing their deacon duties.  It's another tool they can use to help them make progress ... and another one for them to ignore, if they choose.

Anyway, after church we came home and had some quiet time and then I took my oldest son over to the church for a board of review so he can advance to the rank of 1st Class in the Boy Scouts.  He was well-prepared and I didn't worry about him at all.  The rest of the family joined us and we went in to visit with the bishop for tithing settlement this year.  It was a nice meeting, but my wife still wasn't doing well, so I sent her home pretty quick.

The rest of the day my wife and I called our parents, we played with the kids, dinner was made, dishes were washed, laundry was folded, and we watched The Amazing Race from 2 weeks ago.  The kids were happy and they each did what they each like to do ... the two oldest kids read and my youngest played with cars and Legos.

A good day.

So, my Gratitude List for today:

1) I'm grateful for the Boy Scouts of America.  It's a great program, which has given so much to me personally and to my family collectively.
2) I'm grateful for Legos.  They're expensive, but worth it.
3) I'm grateful for books.  My children are readers and it is special to be able to share so many ideas with them.

Well, there you have it.  Good night!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gratitude Day 19

Today was a strange day.  I actually got up and went garage saling with my wife, and we found a few really great things.  One was a baby gate, which we managed to get for a song, and we also got a bunch of winter clothes that we've been needing, which we later found was worth several hundred dollars.  Score!

Later in the morning, we went over to Lowe's for their workshop, where the kids made a "coal car" for Santa's train.  Next week they'll build the actual engine, which should be interesting.

After that, we stayed home and mostly did laundry and picked things up.  We started reorganizing the room where my wife's craft stuff was kept, which we will be turning into an honest-to-goodness bedroom again for the child/ren we hope to adopt in the new year.  This meant we also needed to do some cleanup in our room, as most of that stuff is going into there.  We've done some furniture shuffling (I moved the treadmill and a bookshelf twice!) and have even gone through and weeded through some books that we've been hoarding for years.  It's been therapeutic in a way.

We also did some cooking to prepare for the Ward Christmas Party, which I went to without my dear wife, who is still quite sick from the cold she caught.  It seems clear she caught my daughter's version of the cold, as the symptoms are not quite like mine and she seems to be bouncing a lot faster than I did.  We'll see, though.

My oldest son finally got home from his camping trip a few hours before the party, and he was safe and happy, so we are, too.

The party was great.  As always, the ward did a fantastic job pulling it together.  There were a few songs, a performance of "The Night Before Christmas" (including an appearance by Santa!), and, best of all, a video about the birth of the Savior.  They had tri-tip steak, baked potatoes, corn, rolls, and brownies with ice cream to eat.  The kids were in heaven, though I'm grateful my wife stayed home as she couldn't really eat any of that except the meat (we brought a lot home for her).  As for me, I was mostly anti-social.  I remember a time when I used to visit with everybody, but tonight I mostly just felt like sitting and watching.

The kids came home happy from the party, and quite full.  I tried to be Responsible Dad and only let them have one serving of the dessert, but after the kids were so insistent about it, Cool Dad made an appearance.

Later tonight, I prepared a lesson for church tomorrow, which I probably won't be able to give because the quorum meetings are so darn slow going.

Quite the day!

My Gratitude List today includes a bunch of random stuff sort of related to this:

1) I'm so very grateful for our great ward, with such good friends whom we love and appreciate.
2) I'm so very grateful that we live in a safe place where we can enjoy peace and tranquility and where we can have civility enough to enjoy these kinds of things.
3) I'm so very grateful for meat.  And brownies.  Seriously, I love them both.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gratitude Day 18

Yesterday my wife began exhibiting signs of a cold.  I felt horrible for her, because what I've had has been no party. Her symptoms, however, are more like those of my daughter, and my daughter was able to get over her cold relatively quickly.  I'm hoping that's what my wife has instead of the long-slog cold that I have.

Today I actually made it to work for the first time since before Thanksgiving.  It wasn't exactly a party, and I spent most of the time in meetings that have been put off forever and the rest of the time frantically testing to finish up what I needed to finish yesterday.

My oldest son went camping tonight with the Boy Scouts from church.  Normally, I'd be there with him, but seeing as I'm still recovering from my cold, it's probably best for me not to go sleep in the outdoors in near-frigid temperatures or brave a 10-mile hike that they'll be doing tomorrow.  Feeling the way I do, I don't feel too bad about not going, though I do regret that I can't participate in their breakfast.  No joke, the boys planned the breakfast menu to exclusively consist of doughnuts and apples.  Clearly this was boy-planned and there were no women in the room when they did so.  The very thought makes me laugh!

So, tonight my wife and I are going to find a way to put the kids down early (or something else distracting), so we can just sit on the couch and be bumps on a log while watching TV.  We'll probably watch Survivor, which we're 4 weeks behind in watching.

Anyway, my Gratitude List tonight includes the following:

1) I'm grateful that I was able to go to college and get the college degrees that I did so that I could get the job that I have so that I can take such good care of my family.
2) I'm grateful that my wife also went to college and got the college degrees she has, as it is ever so evident that smart moms make smart kids.
3) I'm grateful that my entire family has a love of reading, and that we can enjoy many of the same books and talk about them and experience them together (well, not at the same time, because, you know, it's tough for 5 people to read the same book simultaneously).  I'm thinking here of the Harry Potter series, but there are many others, particularly the scriptures.

That's all for tonight!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gratitude Day 17

Today I've been busting my tail doing some software testing for work.  I'm still home, blowing my nose ever 5 minutes and coughing every 2 minutes, but this work needed to get done and get done today, which it isn't.  Oh, well.  I have to finish it up tomorrow, I suppose.  And my head hurts, too.  Did I say that I have a headache?  Some funky sinus pain right above my right eye, related to blowing my nose, I think.  My heads hurts.  I said that, didn't I?

Anyway, so right now I'm sitting next to my 6-year-old as he's doing a writing assignment.  He's very distracted right now, and my poking him in the side to motivate him isn't really helping.  He's writing about how "someone" comes on the night before Christmas to deliver presents.  And he keeps giggling about the fact that Christmas has the word "Christ" in it, which he knows is kind of the point, but he still finds it funny.

This reminds me of a conversation that I had (don't ask me why, my head hurts) with my daughter not long ago about how she wishes that we could live in an environmentally friendly manner.  I asked her what she thought that meant, and she talked about living outside.  I asked her what she would do when it got cold.  Or hot.  Or rainy.  She then said it was more about living simply, without electronics, and I asked her about giving up TV, and movies, and music.  She didn't like the way the conversation was going, and I reminded her that everything we have that enables us to live comfortable and content lives is related to the industrial world we live in, including all the clothes she wears and all the food she eats.  It has to get transported to our house, and we use cars and trucks to do that, but somebody has to build the cars, and they need all the stuff to build the cars, and it takes industry to do that.  The book she had on her lap represented a marvel of modern industry, which included everything from logging trees to chemical treatment of that wood, to the chemical composition of the ink to print on the page, to the metal industries required to build the paper rollers, and the oil industries required to make the glue to hold it all together.  The fact that we spent only a few dollars for all of that amazing industry to come together so she could sit on the couch under a warm blanket with soft pillows and enjoy the words printed thereon, made her head swim with its implications.  I like reality checks sometimes.  Tree huggers and environmentalists and Occupy people need to get off their high horse and appreciate what they have sometimes.  Did I say my head hurt?  A little stream of thought, this is.  Like Yoda, I am.

So, my gratitude list:

1) I'm grateful for the industrial revolution, which has led society to this point where I can sit in my house with a laptop on my lap typing out something as unfocused as this here blog post.  I'm reading a book right now about Columbus's voyages to the Caribbean and it went well.
2) I'm grateful for the fact that while I do this, my young son is actually sitting with paper and pencil and struggling to get words on the page, and that I can sit next to him as he does so.  This is an important skill so he can learn to be more like his old man.
3) In general, I'm grateful for homework.  Given in appropriate amounts, it can reinforce within my children's heads the lessons they're supposed to be learning throughout the day.  The much harder part aside from doing it is actually getting them to do it, meaning that once they sit down to do it, it's usually not all that hard.

Anyway, wow.  I need some Tylenol.  I'm grateful for that, too ...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gratitude Day 16

Today I worked from home (I'm still miserably sick) all morning and then in the afternoon a social worker came by to do her first evaluation of our household.  This is a necessary step for the State of California to ensure that we aren't some crazy family (which we sorta are, but don't tell her that!) that wants to adopt children for the little bit of money that comes with them (which we aren't).  The meeting went well, and much of our anxiety about changes we'd have to make in our household to accommodate another child were dispelled.

For example, we had previously been told that we couldn't have children in the house sharing a room that had an age gap greater than 6 years.  We figured she would tell us we'd have to move our oldest son to a different room from our youngest son (despite them only being 5 1/2 years, and we were prepared to argue the distinction).  This would've seriously caused problems in that we don't have 2 extra rooms available (1 for our oldest son and 1 for the new child). Nevertheless, this turned out not to be the case. 

In addition, we were worried that she'd go all Nazi on us about earthquake proofing the house, which also wasn't the case.  We do need to get some child safety locks to lock up our medicines (expected), anything chemical-related that is marked "keep out of reach of children" (mostly expected), and the chemicals in the garage (unexpected).  In the end, we felt buoyed up and quite prepared to take on another child, which is good because, you know, we already have 3 and they live safely with us, too.

Some of her questions made us laugh.  My favorite was when she asked if we have enough food in the house for 3 days.  We reminded her that we're devout Mormons with a substantial food supply.  But, really, 3 days?  Who doesn't have enough food on hand for 3 days?!  We showed her the fridge (full), the cupboards (full), the closet under the stairs (full), and the shelves in the garage (full).  Yeah, we're not worried about that one.

The two things that surprised her quite a bit were that my wife has dual-degrees in elementary and special education (she kinda knows how to take care of and teach little ones ...) and that I have been CERT trained, both the normal training and the psychological training (I kinda know how to respond in the event of a major disaster).  The astonished look on her face was priceless when we shared these tidbits with her.  She was also surprised that we had done so much homework on the whole process and that the children were so well-informed and supportive of the idea.

A few things that pleased her was that we are interested in a child that is older than an infant, up to about 4 years old, and that we're open to adopting more than 1 child if that is an option.  Our only caveat is that at least one of them must be a girl (to maintain balance in the household).

This interview by her was the first of 3.  The next one will be lengthy one-on-one interviews with each member of our family.  The last one will be a "final check" prior to getting certified.  We also have to go through some training classes, which will eat up our Saturdays in January.

So, my Gratitude List today is related to this experience:

1) I'm grateful that the state has programs in place to keep children safe when their parents don't.  I wish they were even more effective.  It is troubling to me that somewhere there is at least one child that we will be adopting that may be in unsafe or neglected conditions right now.
2) I'm grateful that my wife and I feel confident in our decision to adopt another child.
3) I'm grateful that my children are not only willing but anxious to adopt another child.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gratitude Day 15

My list today includes things that are related to comforts we have in our home.

1) I'm grateful for electricity.  It's a marvelous thing that provides so much benefit to us that we often take it for granted until it's gone.  Everything about our modern life utilizes the principles of electricity in one way or another, and some of the scariest literature I have ever read discusses life (and death) after losing it.  A temporary power outage has hit some local people recently due to the wind storms and that is terrible enough, and I pray that we never experience any catastrophe that makes it anything more than a little temporary.
2) I'm grateful for air conditioning.  See here, this wouldn't be possible without electricity, but I'm grateful for its application to make our homes, cars, stores, and places of work conditioned with air that is comfortably cool.  Here in the deserts of Southern California, when it gets hot, it can get really hot, and it is no exaggeration to say that I most definitely would not be living where I do without air conditioning.
3) I'm grateful for heaters.  See here, this little convenience could be possible without electricity, but the modern form that I have in my household utilizes electricity to sense the household temperature, to light burners (that burns natural gas that is piped here using electricity, naturally), and to turn fans to move warm air around.  I was talking to my oldest son the other day and he was complaining in the car that it is always either too hot (and so we need the air conditioner) or too cold (and so we need the heater).  I told him that people are fickle that way.  He didn't appreciate that comment.

I'm grateful for these things today, and I'm usually even more grateful for them when I don't have them.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gratitude Day 14 - My Children

Wow, these 31 days of a Gratitude List is turning into my ode to being sick, because this cold just won't let go.  This weekend the head faucet (i.e. the nose) started running and I just can't get it to turn off.  I keep hoping I'm getting better and with my undeserved sense of optimism I keep making myself believe it.  "I'm feeling much better!  I think I'll go for a walk!"  Right after I take a hot bath to warm up ...

So, in honor of my cold, my Gratitude List is NOT related to it:

1) I'm grateful for my oldest son, who is a great young man and makes me proud with every success he achieves.  On the flip-side, I roll my eyes at him when he does incredibly stupid stuff, but, as a pre-teen, he just rolls his right back.  Even so, I'm very grateful for him.
2) I'm grateful for my daughter, who is a wonderful young woman and makes me proud with every success she achieves.  Her good nature and peacemaker attitude keeps her brothers alive, and I'm so very grateful for her.
3) I'm grateful for my youngest son, who is a wonderful young man and makes me proud with every success he achieves.  His love of life, curiosity, good-natured boyness, and quickness to laughter is such a delight and I am very grateful for him.

Okay, I realize I'm cheating a little today.  3 kids = 3 items for the Gratitude List.  And I realize I said the same thing, really, for all three of them, but isn't it true that I can be grateful for each one of them?  They are three of my greatest blessings, and in hindsight, I'm a little surprised it took me 14 days to get to them because, frankly, they belonged on Day 2 right after my wife.  Better late than never, I suppose!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gratitude Day 13

Today has been pretty miserable.  The faucet in my head keeps running, so I've got a sore nose from dealing with that.  I stayed home from church today with my daughter and we spent the day watching Christmas movies.  We started with The Santa Clause, moved on to Miracle on 34th Street, then finished up with the Muppets Christmas Carol.  We normally don't watch all that much TV on Sunday, but nobody was feeling very good.  Even my wife took a nap this afternoon, which is practically unheard of.

As for me, I am improving a little bit.  I think yesterday marked the worst day of my illness, so if I measured that day as a 10 out of 10 on a sickness scale, today was probably about a 9.

My Gratitude List today is related to the stuff I was able to do, between blowings of my nose:

1) I'm grateful that I was able to mindless watch these movies with my daughter, and that she seems to be doing a lot better than me in her recovery.  It is a wonderful thing to live in a time when media is so available and that I can share these things with my children.
2) I'm grateful that I was able to sit and read quietly with my youngest son, as it is a very special thing to be able to do.  He is doing very well with his reading, and it is wonderful when he bursts through unfamiliar sentences.  He hasn't taken to reading as voraciously as his siblings, so his progress is heartening.
3) I'm grateful that I was able to make my oldest son work on some of his Duty to God stuff, because I want what is best for him.  The new program seems to not be taking too well anywhere, but at least I can say that I, as a parent, am doing my part to help him succeed in it.

So, that's it for today.  Good night!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gratitude Day 12 - Paraphernalia to Manage a Cold

My cold, which has kept me home all week giving me false hope that "tomorrow" will be better, has doubled back and walloped me a good one this weekend.  I'm far sicker than I was earlier this week, and the cold has moved into head (well, mostly my throat and nose, which is running incessantly).  Therefore, my Gratitude List tonight is dedicated to the paraphernalia that comforts me when I'm miserable like this:

1) I'm grateful for a warm bath, which I can draw without a second thought as to how the hot water was collected, cleaned, treated, and delivered to my house so that I can soak in it until I finally get warm.
2) I'm grateful for Kleenexes, which I use without reserve as I nurse my ever-running and starting-to-get-sore nose.
3) I'm grateful for warm blankets, which I can throw across me to keep me warm as I lay like a log on the couch staring mindlessly at whatever is on the TV.

This whole gratitude thing is getting pretty easy.  All I have to do is think about the things that made me the least happy in any given day, then look on the bright side and voila! I've got my list ...

Well, 12 days in that's how it is anyway ...  ;)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Most Pointless Sentence Ever

I have to tease my daughter a little bit for this sentence that she constructed on a trip she would like to take to Hawaii.  This sentence followed another sentence that listed a few things she would like to do:

"Those things are things there, but there are things there to do, too."

Awesome.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gratitude Day 11 - Parties

Okay, so maybe doing this Gratitude List during the Holidays is too darn easy because we're in the midst of parties, shindigs, and all other manner of social events designed to celebrate the Christmas season.  That said, here's my list for tonight:

1) I'm grateful that my wife throws a cookie/ornament exchange party every year because I get to try lots of great cookies while my wife gets some adult female interaction that she so sorely needs.  "Happy wife = happy life."
2) I'm grateful that we have family Christmas traditions so that we can use the time to remember these special times and enjoy their familiar and heartwarming uplift.  While I wouldn't say my little family is overburdened with tradition, we have just enough to suit our needs but not too much that they ever feel like a burden.
3) I'm grateful that Christmas traditions aren't just a family thing, but largely a cultural one as well, that we can feel a kinder bond to our neighbors, friends, and coworkers.  Even my Jewish friends, I think, feel differently at this time of year, even if for other reasons.

So, that's it for tonight!

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