Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving: Gratitude Challenge 25th

Is it twisted to be grateful for the chance to be grateful? I've really needed an excuse to look for something to be grateful for. I'm so blessed and I really have taken advantage of so many blessings! And I've needed something to change my mood. I dont think I'm "all cured" yet, in fact, I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm ready to end the challenge. Mostly because I'm running out of things to say. Not things to be grateful for, but things to say. Its time to move on to the next task on this blog.

Thanksgiving was great. I spent it with Ranger's family. First we ate with Ranger's grandparents and extended family on Ranger's Dad's side, then we went and picked up Ranger's mom and had Thanksgiving with Ranger's immediate family (mom, dad, and brother+sister-in-law, as well as her parents and siblings). I LOVE his family. Is that unusual? I've already  raved about his dad, but he deserves it. What a man! And Ranger's mom is pretty great, too. She wants the best for her son, even if she's not quite sure how to show it. And as far as Ranger's brother's concerned, well he lives a different lifestyle than I do, but he's cool with that, so I am, too. He's easy-going, he's easy to get along with, and he is cool with the fact that I'm dating his brother, so I guess that's that, hu? At any rate, it's much easier to get along with them than I expected. But that's how this whole relationship's been: easier than I expected. 

Some People are Better Than Me: Gratitude Challenge 24

This gratitude is actually a little mixed. I'm really grateful that Ranger is so helpful. That is one of the things I love about him. It was one of the first things that I saw in him and admired about him. It means he's the type of guy I want in my life. But when it comes to sacrificing MY plans, I'm not so good at being grateful. So that's why I'm glad that some people are better than I am. I'm glad he helps, even if it annoys me sometimes. I can already see it that this sort of frustration will happen A LOT! He's so giving, he often doesn't think about personal sacrifice at all. I admire that about him, and I pray that I'll get over my frustration. And even come to emulate that characteristic. I wish I were more like him.

But Not All of it

 The things you say when this is your first romance are different after you're already a mom. See, he can't have all of my heart. A piece of it is already taken. And although they say your heart grows with each new love, it seems like most couples start out with a larger percentage they can give than I can. The only way I could explain it was to write it in poetry form. (Trolls, please don't steal my work...)

I love you,
           Yet you are not my only love.
You have my heart
           But you still don't have all of it.
You mean so much to me, 
           Yet you are not my everything.
I can't wait to spend time with you, 
     I start my days wondering when I get to see you,
           Yet my life does not revolve around you.
You are my love,
            But you are not my life. 
You mean the world to me,
           But you are not my world.
I treasure you,
           Yet you are not my only treasure.
I'm blessed to have you in my life,
           But you are not the only blessing.
You are not the reason I'm alive.
You are not my one and only.
I am not nothing without you
            Because I'm still Mom. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Playing Catch-up: Gratitude Challenge 23

I am a control freak, I admit it. I like everything to be neat and orderly and I like to know what is going on with everyone. My house is often messy and unorganized, but that's not the real me. The real me has a very organized house, the problem is she's so busy organizing everything BESIDES her house, it often doesnt show. It was nice to still be "snowed in" yesterday, only in my own house. I got to get a lot done. And I'm going to continue organizing and getting things done today, too.

Hence why this post is so short. I'm off to work.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow Days: Gratitude Challenge

I spent all day doing nothing on Monday. It was wonderful. I was snowed in at Ranger's dad's house, and both of them were at work, so I had ABSOLUTELY nothing to entertain me all day. I wasted a whole day and can't feel bad about it because there was nothing to do, anyway. Didn't have to take B to school, because she was stuck there too.

Some times it's good to do nothing all day.

Shhh... it's a secret.

No, not that secret. Another secret. Like what I'm giving everyone for Christmas this year. Do you want to know? Are you a good secret keeper?

I had these mugs in mind anyway, and then I saw this idea on one of the blogs I follow, and I LOVE it. So I'm gonna try it out. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Repentance and Clean Babies: Gratitude Challenge 21st

While we were in Boise this weekend we spent some time with my family. It was great... sort of. I learned that I'm not so impressed with some of my siblings' choices. But they're not me. They have their own choices and lifestyles and I need to just love them anyway. So, I spent a lot of time thinking. I love my family. I want what's best for them. I don't want them to get hurt or be stuck in bad situations. Especially because I know how it feels to hurt and be in bad situations. I was really worried for them. For where their lives will take them.

And then I got to hold a little baby for one of my mom's friends. So fresh and innocent. So simple. And he even smelled good! And as I held this little guy, I wondered what his life would be like and what he'd get to experience. I wondered what he'd see and do with his life. And how I wished some people could just stay in that clean, innocent state forever. As I kept thinking, I realized, we all have a chance to go back to that. Except when we go back, we'll be a lot wiser and a lot more prepared than this little baby is now. And even if my siblings aren't ready to make those choices right now, some day, they may be. And I'm grateful that they'll have the choice to change their life. I can't protect them from the consequences of their choices, but I can love them anyway.

And I will love them anyway. 

Salesmen that are Good at Their Jobs: Gratitude Challenge 20th

For most of my life, I've hated salesmen. Or at least I've hated the good ones. I'd say its nothing personal, but the truth is, it is. I hate feeling manipulated or pressured. HATE that feeling. I swore I'd never be a salesman because I cant stand the pressure of walking the fine line between encouraging a sale, and manipulating people into a sale. Even if the product's great. And I've had experience in sales. They give you this magic formula to say to potential clients/customers. And it always frustrated me. I don't want to sell a product because someone else says it's good. I want to sell the product because I know it's good. And if I don't know if it's good or not, then aren't I lying to them to convince them to buy such a "great" product? This feeling grew stronger once my ex left with his girlfriend, because I looked back and saw just how good of a salesman he was. How many things he got me to do that I wasn't comfortable with. And that made my resolve to hate salesmen and manipulators all the more. I learned their tricks in order to turn it back on them. I can tell when I'm being persuaded. I can tell when someone's being fake or pressuring. I'm not saying all salesmen are bad. Or that all salesmen manipulate. But I have never been comfortable with that line between encouragement and manipulation. It's too thin for my tastes.

Saturday, however, I learned what a good salesman was like. I spent about 4 hours talking to a salesman, and I feel more edified for it. And I didn't even buy his product. He had values. He had insights as to what I even wanted, and those insights rang true to me. He was good at reading my expressions and my thoughts without using them against me. He knew his facts and gave me full disclosure. He educated me about the products I was looking at. So much so that when I met up with Ranger later that afternoon and told him how impressed I was, Ranger wanted to meet him too. So we spend MORE time talking to the salesman. And still didn't come out with any purchases, but we both feel wiser about any decision we would make in the future.

I wish all salesmen were like that.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Close" Games: Gratitude Challenge 19th

What  if everything was blue and orange? What if even the grass was blue? And if everyone's dressed in blue and orange, even orange boxers (yeah, I saw those, too. Not from anyone I know, mind you. Drunk people are a bit candid with their... information). What if everyone is excited and bubbly and talkative and friendly, and willing to wait around in 36 degree weather... and still thinks it's fun. And some of those people are a little drunk, and think anything's fun.

So what if...?

Well, you must have been at the BSU game with us! Boise State vs Fresno State. 51 to ZERO.


Seriously. As many of my friends went to BSU, I've heard over and over that they need to be in a higher league, but I didn't pay much attention until I saw it for myself on Friday! I sat behind the North goal post, and for the first quarter, I thought I was in for a long night and that football must be better on TV. I had NO clue what was going on. And then in the second quarter, I realized my mistake. The problem wasn't being AT the game, it was that Boise was so good that for the first quarter, everything was on the OTHER half of the field. And then when they rotated, we got a really great game. When it was 4th quarter, we all sat back, knowing full well we'd seen all the action we were going to be able to see for the rest of the game. Bronco touchdown turf was on the other end of the field. We'd be able to get cozy and warm in our seats. And with a score like 51-0, it's no surprise we felt that way.

 It was a great game. Cold, but well worth it! And those that know me would be less than surprised that I was the idiot out there in sandals. People kept giving me a hard time, and I just took it. They didn't believe I'd still have toes by the end of the night. Well I'm happy to report, I still have all 10 toes and they work just fine. One of the guys in front of us thought I was faking the fact that my toes were just fine, so he dropped his beer bottle cap and dared me to pick it up. With my toes. And I did. I mean, sure it was cold, but I was just fine. I sit on my feet anyway, and so they were nice and cozy all night. And my ears were under a hat. And my hands were in gloves. Believe me, I've been much colder for much less.  I might not get to go to another game for a very long time, and never thought I'd actually have the opportunity, anyway, so to me it was surreal. And worth a little bit of "Idaho weather."

At the very end of the game, the jolly guy sitting behind us clapped his hands and said, "close game, close game. Wasn't sure who'd win there for a while." And we all just chuckled. Yup, close game.

Had to throw this picture in for my talented sister. And for the record, I think she did much better. But I may just be a little biased.

What others had to say:
Quotes by Fresno's Coach.
A breakdown of statistics for the game.
I like the first line in this article. So true.
Good quality writing.
More good writing by same site.
A lot of stuff my little (not football-oriented) brain can't understand, but written by BSU.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Surprises: Gratitude Challenge 18th

I was supposed to have a week left of work. 3 days, at least. And I go to work, get half way through my shift and the manager pulls me aside to tell me that she managed to get the schedule situated so that I didn't have to come in at all next week. And I had to negotiate with someone so I could get Saturday off (big plans), so, viola! Thursday was my last day of work! Yay! Things might have to be reevaluated soon, but for now, my needs are met, and I'm SOOO ready to be done. It was messing with my priorities, and my moods. It just was not good for me or for my daughter. I see better grades, more quality time, and a much less stressed me in my future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Days: Gratitude Challenge 17th

Some days all you can be grateful for is that they're over. It wasnt necessarily a BAD day, it just was gray and mopey and I got nothing done and I wasnt in a good mood. And the weather really affects my mood. When it's mopey, I am mopey. Sunshine does WONDERS for me.

I asked my mother what I should say I'm grateful for for this day, and she says, sometimes all you can be grateful for is that you got out of bed, survived the day, and then it was over. And that's okay. She reminded me that sometimes we need days like that to remember what a good day is, and that it reminds us to be grateful for the fact that we're alive. She said sometimes that's enough.

The problem is, the day could have been wonderful! And when I really look back, it was a good day, it was all just my attitude. I just wanted to stay home and be a bum. And I was doing a good job of it, too! And Ranger KNEW that's what I was looking forward to. And then he went and made plans! Dang him! ;c) His friends decided to elope, and he was the witness. So he said I was coming along. Well it was time to get a reality check FAST since I was NOT going to ruin some one's wedding. Especially because I was one of 3 other guests. And one of them was the officiator's husband.

But wedding aside, I still wished I could be home and be lazy. However, I think from what I know of Ranger, that will rarely happen. He's the type that when he finds out someone needs something, our plans will change, and we'll be going to help. We've already done it twice. On 2 of the 4 dates we actually planned. And so, no matter how much I want what I want, I think I'll have to get used to the idea of sudden detours.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not Fair: Gratitude Challenge 16th

I have ... an acquaintance who is sooo caught up in whether or not things are fair that she's frequently grumpy, rarely happy, and always frustrated. Before, she's directed this frustration towards others, and I guess it's finally my turn. And I'm glad it's my turn, because her influence was starting to wear off onto me, and I was frustrated by that (ironic. Frustrated by frustration). But now that I have a chance to step back, I have come to this conclusion:

If you're caught up in what's fair or not, no one ever reaches their potential. You don't because you just stop working. Others don't because you're holding them back. And life becomes miserable. You stop noticing the beauty and the good in others and only realize what they're NOT doing. How they fall short, and how you're better than they are. You become proud and place yourself above the rest. You frustrate everyone else because they will never be able to reach your standards because you will keep raising the bar. And they're sick of your whining. You ostracize yourself until you have no real friends, because they're not good enough for you anyway, and then you realize that you're lonely and have no one else to blame. You become unteachable. You start to feel like you know everything, and that no one knows more than you do. And, you're never happy.

Well, I don't want this for my life. I enjoy helping others reach their potential and I hope they help me reach mine. I want to see the beauty around me and the good in others. I want to be humble. I want to be friends with others, and I hope I don't annoy them. I want to be surrounded by real friends. I want to be teachable. And most of all, I want to be happy.

I realize that sometimes life just isn't fair. And that's okay. It'll work itself out in the end. Sometimes things aren't the way I think they should be, but I think it's time for me to stop worrying about everything and everyone else, and just work on me. I think I will like the results a lot better.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's an Orca

I was asked if I could make an Orca piƱata recently. I knew it'd be challenging but I jumped at the chance. I think it turned out pretty cute. Here's the shape:

I make it with a wire frame and then paper mache over the top of it. As you can see, it still looks kinda boxy and blah, but I've learned that doesn't matter. 

Starting to get some details. I learned from this endeavor that covering it with black first is completely a waste of my time, however for a white coat it probably would have been smart. Notice my kitchen getting messier and messier. Hence why the finished product pics are taken elsewhere: 

The girl has brown eyes, so I made the Orca with brown eyes. 

And I loved them, until I glued them on (you know, so they weren't gonna move no matter how much I needed them to) and realized the eyelashes went the wrong direction.  Oh well. I still think it's way cute. And I'm sure I'm the only one that noticed the eyes.

Teachers: Gratitude Challenge 15th

My daughter is stubborn. My mother likes to point out that she gets this from me on a regular basis. In all honestly, we're so much alike it's scary. I'm hoping to use that to my advantage when she's a teen because I will be able to relate to where she's coming from. Otherwise, we'll be in BIG trouble, because we will NEVER get along. 

One of the things B is stubborn about (and I was, too) is that moms know nothing and teachers know everything. I've just resigned myself to that truth because my mom keeps reminding me she knows how I feel and that gets old. Just kidding, Mom, I love you...

My mom likes to tell this story about when I was younger, she decided to test the magnitude of this "awesome and unknown power" of teachers. She called the teacher up and asked her to tell me to come home and clean my room. The teacher laughed and thought she was joking. Mom politely informed her she wasn't, and just wait and see what happened. So, my teacher (who was probably laughing to herself) came up to me while we were doing a project of some sort and told me it was important to keep our rooms clean so that we could be safe and have fun. Any guesses what happened that night? I came home and cleaned my room. 

Well, B is the same way. She had NO desire to learn the alphabet or how to read or anything. But now TEACHER says it's important, so she's excelling. She started school 2 months ago knowing very few letters and couldn't even spell her name (the first letter was enough for her). Now she writes her name on everything, knows all the letters and can put them in alphabetical order. She can read and even write. She knows how to spell "I," "see," and "my." Now, I know, this is no grand achievement. Some day, she'll be reading paragraphs. And chapters. And novels. But right now, that doesn't matter. My little girl can read. 

While I was working on a pinata for a friend (pics to come) B was coloring a picture for me. When I was cleaning up, I looked at the picture, and sure enough, there is every word (minus her name) that she knows how to spell. And yeah, the "S" is a little goofy, but hey, I can understand it. She's learning how to spell colors right now, too. Pink and Red and Blue. She can recognize yellow and green, but that's just because she looks for the y and g. At any rate, I'm so proud!

It's a mom thing. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Answers: Gratitude Challenge 14th

I have a problem. It's the yucky word called Fear.

See, I've been so excited about the relationship with Ranger. And it's slowly been sinking in that this relationship's getting pretty serious. And that scares me! Suddenly, I'm asking myself, "am I really ready do to this? Am I really emotionally healed enough? And what if this gets that serious and find out that relationships are just like it was before? What if that's what life is really like? What if he's not right for me? Would I even accept it if that really was the case? Can I handle his faults, along with his talents? Can he handle me? I mean, I'm sort of outspoken and moody and all over the place. And are all of these fears trying to tell me something or are they just  because I've been hurt before?" I get in that chain of thought and just keep worrying, worrying, worrying.

And then Sunday comes around, and I'm still worrying, and wondering what to do with this fear, and praying that I come up with an answer quickly. Church started off with a Missionary sharing a lesson he learned on his mission. It was that we should look forward with hope and not worry. We should take our worries and cross them out and not think about them, and look forward to the future. Okay, I can handle that. I think. And the next speaker talked about watching out for those that need our support. Completely different, right? Sure, up until the point that he started talking about how fear can keep us from doing what we want and should do. That we should stop being afraid. And then Sunday School talked about how fear will keep us from being good leaders. And then, I help out with the young women in my church. And their lesson was on how fear and worry are a waste of time. Well, I don't know if it ever actually came up, but it did to me. That was what MY lesson was on.  And by then, I'm saying "Okay, I get it!" and we were listening to the Sunday music channel here, which plays uplifting music along with uplifting messages. And guess what the uplifting message was on? Overcoming fear and just doing what you're afraid of.

And then, to top it off, this morning I found this message: (please ignore the grammar errors. They make me cringe):

So, the answer that I needed to receive was this: Stop being afraid. Enjoy life, don't miss out on the opportunities because you were too busy worrying. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with the direction this is going. I feel an underlying peace, even though I should work harder at keeping it with me (and not complaining or worrying so much). We'll see how things go from here. :c)

Freedom of Thought: Gratitude Challenge 13th

Had work on Saturday. Not such a fun day. But I was already grateful for 3 weeks, and it kinda seemed... ungrateful to be grateful it's down to two. And we're going for positive, here, right? So, on the positive side, I'm grateful for the right I have to hate my job. I'm grateful that I at least have the opportunity to quit.

And further more, I'm grateful that the reason that I hate my job is a right I have, too. I have a right to think for myself. What a  wonderful blessing! To be able to make choices, to do things the way I want to (even though I don't have that right at work, I'm grateful to know the difference). I am grateful that I know that I have worth and that I should be treated with respect. I think of so many countries and careers that don't get that right. And I am grateful to know that  I do. I'm grateful that I have options. If something isn't working, I can change it.

Now... Just to survive 2 more weeks.

Libraries: Gratitude Challenge 12th

Do you ever have that sinking feeling that maybe you should have rethought the last 10 seconds before you closed the door? Or get half way to your destination and then realize your pockets are a little too empty? That you are missing an important something-or-other?

Yes, I locked myself out earlier this week. It happens quite regularly, actually. I have a knack for locking myself out. I think I've done it 6 times in the past year. I keep remembering "that other time" and the tally keeps growing. One time I locked myself out and had to walk to church (which wasn't so close) and the whole men's group had their lesson on "How to break into Keira's house" I'm hoping it was at least an entertaining one. And then there was the time I left my spare keys at my friends house in case anyone needed anything while I was on vacation (because I wouldn't put it past myself to forget to have done something before I left) and then she had to drop everything because I was locked out and had to be to work PRONTO. And then when I left my keys with her again, in case the same thing happened. And it did. And then the times I had my spare keys locked in my garage in a padlocked case so I could get to them but no one else could (there are 2 of those times), and then this time. When I had Ranger get the Halloween candy ready because I forgot to get it out, and so he had the spare keys and  I just kept forgetting to get them back from him. The problem is, he works every day until about 6. And I was getting B from school at 3 when I discovered their absence.

What do we do for 3 hours? In the cold almost-winter? Well, go to the library, of course!

I've been too busy to go to the library for a while. Add to that the huge fine I have had on my card for quite some time (did I mention I'm forgetful? I shouldn't be responsible for remembering library books), and that makes it even less likely we'll go. But I had 3 hours to kill and it was a great opportunity to spend time with B.  So, with all other endeavors put on hold (some of them important), B and I read books. And more books. And B got to play on the library computers. And we read MORE books. And all in all, it was a nice break. And a nice place to stay warm. For 3 hours.

Ranger asked if I wanted my spare keys back. I said maybe he'd better hold onto them, so that if this happens again, I can get in.

I say "if," but I mean "when." 

Lets face it, with me, it's almost a guarantee. 

Air Force Veterans: Gratitude Challenge 11th

Did I mention I'm an Air Force Brat? Well, kinda. I rarely lived on base, and we didn't have to move so much, but I still got the taste of it. We still moved more than the average kids, and I added it up once, my dad was gone for 8 years out of the 17 I lived at home. But even though it's been years since I've been home, I'm still just as proud of the title.

Being an Air Force Brat means I'm pretty stubborn and independent, but know when I've gone too far. It means I still believe in respect, both toward my country, my "elders," and my peers. It means I know what the flag stands for, I stand for the Anthem, and I say the pledge. It means I know the meaning of sacrifice. It means I'm proud of the work that our troops are doing overseas and have seen the effects on both US soldiers and those lives they touch. It means I have lived through some pretty tough and scary times. And it means I'm happier than ever that my dad made the choice he did.

He's my hero. 
In more ways than one. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reunions: Gratitude Challenge Nov 10th

Yeah, November 10th, I'm a day behind still (I write the Gratitude Challenge the day AFTER), so today I should also write for the 11th, and then tomorrow, I'll write for the 12th (today).

Got to meet with old friends I haven't seen since college on Wednesday. It's funny, some of them live so close, and I've yet to visit with too many of them. Or even SEE many of them. It was great to reminisce about old times.

Ironically, I'm also grateful I've grown since college. I wouldn't say I've reached some grand "maturity" level worth noting, but I've definitely come further. It's nice to realize how far you've come.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Legs That Walk: Gratitude Challenge

I love walking. I mean it, LOVE. I grew up living outside a small town, where it was much too far away to walk anywhere. And when we moved, we moved even FURTHER out of a small town. So I never had the chance to walk to wherever I needed. And I really LOVE walking. I love living close enough to go to the store or the school or the bank or wherever without getting in the car. I love the way exercise makes you feel, even if it's not that much exercise to even count. I love that I am saving money and that makes me feel good. And technically, I'm supposed to be training for a 5 mile run and have done absolutely nothing to prepare thus far, so walking is my only saving grace! I think it's funny, but every time I walk, everyone offers me a ride. No one seems to enjoy walking as much as I do. I guess they're all in a hurry, or maybe they're cold, and I'm cold too, but to me it's worth it.

Well, after getting 3 offers for rides in one day I was about to hang in the towel, so to speak, and just drive everywhere, when one of my freinds pulled me aside and said "Keira, you are my inspiration. I see you walking everywhere and I want to be more like you. " I am so glad she did! Because I was about to give up something I really enjoy just because I was sick of making people worry about me! But I mean I cant just stop doing something if someone else admires me, can I?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

3 weeks: Gratitude Challenge

I have tried to like my job. I really have! And I DID like it for the first few months. And then they have made changes and undid changes and changed again and every week is a new change. And the managers and supervisors started treating me like I was a teenager and couldn't think for myself. And... well it just has escalated from there. And finally it got to the point where it was starting to affect other things.  I've been moody and chaotic and scatterbrained recently. I have had to turn down some great opportunities. And it's taken away my weekends. So I finally decided that it was time to quit. And then, right before I went to talk to the manager to put my two weeks notice in... someone else did. And I thought, "well that kills it!" So I couldn't put my two weeks in, because I have this problem about feeling bad for people. I wanted to have Thanksgiving off and the manager had said no, so I was quitting before Thanksgiving. But after the person quit right before me, I just couldn't do that. So I will still be working Thanksgiving weekend. It will be my last day.

I had work yesterday. And the whole time I had to keep telling myself that I only had 3 weeks left. Only 3 weeks. I just cant wait to be treated like a grownup again!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Oak Tree by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr: Gratitude Challenge

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree's leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You'll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn't sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I've found, with thanks to you
I'm stronger than I ever knew

This poem was shared at the CES Fireside yesterday. I absolutely LOVE it. I can relate with the tree in that I'm grateful to realize how strong I am now. And I feel like I've been in that wind storm before. And I hope that I can have the same attitude all the time. It reminded me of one of my favorite songs, Roots before Branches. 

(hey, hey! I just figured out how to get videos in my blog posts again! Yay for me!)

I've always felt that it is smart to know what you stand for. I feel like if I lose sight of who I am and what I stand for and who I want to be then I lose myself, so it's always been something I cherish "down deep." Throughout the years, I have learned and re-learned that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love him. I am bold and sometimes I'm too pushy. I am a truth giver and truth seeker. I am a marriage advocate, and a divorcee. I am eclectic and a contradiction. And most of all, I am okay with who I am, even though I will still try to be better, and even though I'm far from perfect. 

Ranger's Dad

We took a 6 hour trip in the middle of the night for Ranger's job over the weekend, nonstop driving there and back. I came along to keep Ranger awake (don't worry, we had to check in with both parents frequently. No chance for any trouble). Before we left, Ranger's dad made sure he was prepared to pull an all-nighter. I guess you could say he put his foot down. He spoke with such conviction, I'd stay awake while driving not because it was the safe thing, but because I wouldn't want to disappoint this man! I can tell that he's the sort that when he says something and means it, you'd better listen. Which should be a scary thing. My past has taught me that someone who exerts so much control is someone to be feared. But the difference is this: What he said he said with such love that mountains could have moved if he needed them to. I have no doubt that he loves his son. Every firm word he gives is so enveloped in love it becomes that much more powerful.

So where did B go for this all-nighter? Asleep in the spare bedroom at Ranger's dad's house. It was so touching to see how nervous his dad was to be the caretaker. When we got there, I could tell he was nervous. I don't wonder, either. I mean, not only has it been a while since this man has had to care for a five year old, but Ranger's family consists of men. No little girls who like princesses and pretend and pink. And I think the angels were watching out for him that night, because B came in all kinds of excited. She wasted no time in introducing Ranger's dad to all the stuffed animals she'd brought for entertainment. Or informing him that she'd brought movies to watch or that she was doing such-n-such in school. Completely at ease. Which is a big deal, for B. I could hear the sigh of relief in his voice when he said "yeah, she'll be just fine here." And I sighed, too. Not because I was worried about anything, but because it meant so much to me that he was worried. Silly, I know. Must be a mom thing. And when we got back, in the wee hours of the morning, there she was, all tucked in, with every stuffed animal lying next to her.

But it doesn't end there! My original plans for the weekend included making frosting to teach a cake decorating class early the next morning. And since those plans changed, I had just resolved to buying some icing the next morning. And Ranger was going to be out and about so he agreed to grab some for me so that I could get ready for the class. And then he got held up helping family out. So I was all ready to go take an immediate trip to the store, get what I needed and nix the shower until after the class (yeah, sorry. TMI). I started asking Ranger's dad if he'd watch B (who was still asleep) while I ran to the store to get the things, and instead, he dropped everything and went and got icing for me. And decorator bags. And he had a busy day ahead of him,  too! I still feel guilt for having him help me, honestly. I hope he doesn't think I used or manipulated him. Or his son. The morning was complicated, and it very easily could have been a terrible day, but it wasn't.  And full credit to that goes to Ranger's dad. I don't think he'll ever understand (mostly because I can never express) how much that meant to me. It wasn't "this is your project, you do it." Something needed done, so he did it. And then apologized because Ranger was held up. Seriously! When I feel guilty for needing his help, HE apologizes.

I have met very few men that hold such caliber. Such quiet strength. Such dignity. What an awesome man. No wonder he's Ranger's hero.

Gentlemen and Their Fathers: Gratitude Challenge

This piece of gratitude is hard for me to express. I don't want to sound like the "ex-wife," and I don't want to get anyone's hopes up for the future. It's easy to express gratitude for the semi-personal things. It becomes a much harder challenge to express gratitude for something that touched you so deeply, put some fears to rest, and reminded you what it really means to love and to live. Especially when the only way to explain why it means so much is to talk about some of the yucky stuff - stuff like divorce, the term "ex" in general. I've tried so hard to not discuss too much of what my life was like before I got divorced. It is in the past, I chose my marriage, and it had its purpose. It could have been something miraculous and good, could have been everything I ever wanted. And for a long time, I still had hopes for it, even though it wasn't miraculous OR good. I still thought it would work. And now I look back and I'm so grateful it didn't. It's a hard thing to admit. I am still very much a marriage advocate. I believe in marriages. I believe that any two people can make a marriage work, ANY two people. The clincher is that both people have to want it. Both people have to do what it takes. And sometimes it's not fun, and rarely is it easy, but I still believe that it's worth it.

But my marriage failed. As strong as my beliefs in marriage are, I cannot change another's. And as hard as it is to explain my marriage, I'm grateful that it taught me what is not okay, not good enough for me. After my ex left, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted out of life, what I wanted for myself and for my daughter. What would make me take down some barriers and let myself love again. And a lot of it was respect. I wanted someone who would treat me like I mattered, like I was special. And I've already expressed a little bit about it, but it goes further than that. Any project I had was my deal. Any issue B had was my deal. Diapers, midnight feedings and nightmares, cuts and bruises. Locking myself out of the car at Walmart,  needing groceries so I could cook dinner. Any project, or get together, or family occasion - it was my deal. My problem. And if things went wrong, man did I ever beat myself up about it. Dinner couldn't be late, the house needed to be spotless, and B had to be on best behavior, or I had failed. And I thought that was just how it was. That I wasn't doing enough. It's funny, but now, I look back at life and wonder what he really did all day. The first thing that came to mind was work, and then I remember that he didn't have a job for half of our marriage. What DID he do all day? And how was that okay with me? I mean, I still take full responsibility to have a clean house and a well mannered child and like the "domestic" part of being a wife (some day) and mother, but I didn't need to beat myself up about it. And just because that's my chosen "job" (some day) doesn't mean I couldn't use or have used some help. Or a kind word. Or any form of gratitude.  And my ex-father-in-law... well he made me fear the concept of fathers-in-law. He told me that the affair was all my fault. That if I had treated my ex better, then he never would have wanted to go elsewhere. That if I had just done more, been more, this whole thing never would have happened. He told me I was evil. Seriously, that was his word. Evil. I have not seen that man in 2 years, and would like to keep it that way. I cannot express how much what he said to me really hurt me. I had thought that this man was someone to be respected, to look up to. And for him, someone I admired (or at least thought I admired), to say I was evil and not good enough... yeah, it hurt. And it was no surprise that everything was "my deal" because that's exactly how my ex-father-in-law made me feel, too. I didn't need any help from him, it was all my deal. If I couldn't do it, then I shouldn't have signed up for it. What it all boils down to is that I was empty. And I thought that was just how it was. I was empty, life was empty, marriage was empty. 

And then life suddenly took a change for me, in the form of divorce, and I learned how much there really is to life. Or at least I thought I had learned it. But really I had no idea how much I was still missing. I had higher expectations, higher ambitions, and higher perspectives, so I thought I was set. And then I met Ranger. And he blew those expectations, ambitions, and perspectives right out of the air. My expectations were SO low. I wanted to be treated like I was human, but with Ranger, I'm treated like a queen. I wanted to be valued, but with Ranger, I'm treasured. I wanted to be respected, but with Ranger, I'm honored. I have never known such respect. If I had even thought I deserved such value with my ex, I would have been shot down; it was pride talking to think I deserved treated that way. I needed to work harder before I could be treasured. Or even valued. 

I thought Ranger was too good to be true. And then I met his dad. If Ranger turns out just like his dad (hopefully with a few less trials), that would be just fine. 

Little Girls Who Know Everything: Gratitude Challenge

I was taking B to school on Friday, and just listening to her talk. I love listening to her. I admit sometimes I'm impatient and too busy or distracted, or just forget to listen. But when I rediscover my daughter and her thoughts, I am often sorry for the time I missed. Friday was one of those days. She's so wise and logical in a way that doesn't often make sense to the rest of the world. The observations she comes up with just astound me sometimes. I'm sure every little kid goes through this stage, and I cherish it.

On the way to school, I learned that God lives in a spaceship in space. That B's friends are going to get married because they think that each other is funny, and that B's gonna marry one of her good friends because he asked her to. But that he's silly because he follows her around. "But that's okay." I learned that B hasn't watched TV things for "twenty five years," even though she watched it the night before. I guess 25 years goes a lot faster than I thought... Actually, I guess I already knew that. I learned that B spells her name "5" and that black is a girl color and that the leaves fall from the trees because they're scared of snow. 

I'm often reminded, while listening to my daughter, of Lucy from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

LUCY: And way up there, the little stars and planets, make the rain that falls in showers. And when its cold and winter is upon us, the snow comes up, just like the flowers. 
CB: Now, Lucy, I know that's wrong. Snow doesn't come up, it comes down. 
LUCY: After it comes up, the wind blows it around so it looks like it's coming down but actually it comes up out of the ground- like grass. It comes up, Charlie Brown, snow comes up.
I took her to see this play a few years ago, and she LOVED it. Some kids don't do well sitting for so long, but she eats it up. She could watch plays for hours, and we often go to see the local high school preform them.  When she saw this part, she was so outraged that Lucy would tell people that the snow comes up, because she knew for a fact that it came down and shouted it at the top of her lungs. Everyone got a good laugh that a real 3-year-old was telling a pretend 5-year-old what she thought of such an outrageous assumption! And now she's just like that! It makes me smile every day, and it's a memory I'll treasure forever.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friends: Gratitude Challenge 4

I am so lucky to have so many good friends. People I can count on to get me through, help me out, and pick me up. Having friends has been such a blessing while I'm trying to support my little family and provide for our needs. Whenever I've needed a sitter for work, I've always been able to find someone. And they always make me feel so comfortable about it. So "oh, it's nothing! She fits right in here, and we love her" that I don;t feel like I'm overusing our friendship, even though I know I am. But it's more than that, too. I know if I need anything, they'll be there. And I enjoy talking to them and learning with them and growing from them. We have good times together, and I am so grateful that I have them.

So, dear friends, this one's for you: 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Music: Gratitude Challenge 3

This is becoming easier. I actually had this one picked out before it was time to write about it.

I am grateful for good music. For songs that express exactly how I feel, that let me indulge in good moods or help me get over grumpy ones. I love it when the song puts things into words for me, in a beautiful and poetic way you just cant get in speech.

Songs I've been loving:

Sugarland's Stuck on You. B LOVES this song. It's pretty catchy. It doesn't necessarily fit my life (and the music video does even less), but it holds promise. And it's so fun!

Carrie Underwood's Mamma's Song. I love the chorus. "He is good. So good. He treats your little girl like a real man should. ... He makes promises he keeps. No, he's never gonna leave."

Brad Paisley's Little Moments. I love Brad Paisley. He's good at funny songs and serious songs and a combination of them both. I like how he loves the silly things in this song.

I cant explain really why these are my favorite songs right now. I just like them. I don't have a reason. And there's more. Those are just the songs I find myself singin' over and over.

Brad Paisley - Little Moments

Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song

Sugarland - Stuck Like Glue

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gardens: Gratitude Challenge 2

I am grateful for gardens. For the sense of accomplishment I feel while it's growing. I am grateful for harvest, although next year I hope to actually do something with it before it all goes bad.... yeah, that didn't happen this year. But I'm still grateful for the chance I had to grow a garden. And how excited I was at every carrot and every jar of green beans. Even if we didnt get to enjoy them because I didnt get around to it fast enough.

But I knew when I planted the garden that this would be a busy year and that I probably wouldn't  have time for the harvest. That's not why I grew it. I mean it would have been nice to harvest everything and use it. That is what most people grow a garden for. I grow a garden because it makes me feel self reliant and strong and able to take care of myself. Because it's fun. Even if I dont have time for it.

Next year, I'll do much better. I'll actually harvest AND take care of the produce I get from my garden. And maybe I'll even find the time to plant it on time instead of in June.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Morals: Gratitude Challenge, part 1

What a funny thing to be thankful for. But I am. I'm grateful for morals. For an inner sense of right and wrong. For the way I was raised. My mother always expresses that shes feels she didn't do enough for us kids. She blames our teachers for how we all turned out. And yet, even though I can't convince her, I know the truth. I know how much she really did for me. She instilled in me a desire to be good, to do good, to want good things. And I've really been thinking of that lately. How easy it would be to do the wrong thing. To mess up. To disappoint my mother and those around me. How easy it would be to give up the rewards of being good to just be bad for a little while. But it wouldn't be worth it, as easy as it is.

Another reason I have been thinking of morals has to do with Halloween. I went shopping for a Halloween costume recently and had trouble finding one that was modest. They were all too tight or too short or too low. The one I got wasn't modest either. I had to modify it quite a bit. I had to wear leggings and a skirt and a shirt underneath. And I was still worried that it was too suggestive. It's such a shame to pay so much for a costume I have to modify. But the rest were worse! It saddens me that the world has such low morals! And just think how much more confident a girl feels when she knows she's not putting herself in a bad situation.

I'm also grateful to be dating a man with morals. Who wants to make good choices and wants the best for me. I'm grateful that I can talk to him about what we see as right or wrong and discuss why we feel that way. I'm grateful that we are both determined to make good choices and the opportunities that are before us because of those choices. I'm grateful for a moral compass that keeps me good.

Bandwagons and the Gratitude Challenge

It seems that every year around this time people take the "Gratitude Challenge" in order to remind themselves of how blessed they are. The framework is all the same: write something you're thankful for and why every day. Some end at Thanksgiving, some go until December 1st. Some keep it up until Christmas. Some write lots, and some write little. Some post it on Facebook, some on blogs, some don't share with anyone.

Now, I'm usually one to avoid doing something that everyone else is doing. Seriously, ask my poor mother. I think she'd worry every time someone told me to do the right thing because I was a rebel, and that often gave me the excuse to do the opposite. She learned quickly not to tell me what to do. And I'm sooo glad she did, because I worry about who I would have become, had she not. That whole "everyone else is doing it" worked backwards for me, and she knew it. She never had to give me that standard line of "if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?" Because I would have said "well that was stupid, why would someone jump off a cliff just because everyone else did?" And when teachers or leaders would tell the class to do something I was already doing, it would really frustrate me! Like, "Dang it! Now I will be doing what everyone else is doing! Now people will think I'm doing this just because I was told, and not because I wanted to."

However, things are different this year. I feel a little selfish, greedy and, well... ungrateful. Life is really going so well, and yet I still find things to complain about. I had such a hard 2 years and am proud of the way I got through it, but now that things are going really well, relatively speaking, I feel so weak and pathetic and lazy! I don't think I am who I could be, and I feel like it's time for me to grow, and not stay stagnant like I have been. What worked for me during the past two years isn't enough anymore. It's time for me to break out of survival mode and take that much bigger of a leap. So in an effort to improve myself, get over bad habits, and generally be a better person, I will join this year's bandwagon of "Gratitude Challengers" and find something each day to be grateful for. 

So, ready, set, here I go...