This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

How much gratitude can I pack into one year?

The goal was 52 Graces. The reality is 36 (well 37, for those of you with careful reading you'll note I repeated one number twice). I think I can do better. I know I can do better. It is the last day of 2009. My last chance to review the year and decide what things have truly been a Grace in my life this year. There are so many, yet I find myself struggling to complete this post. Are my Graces good enough? Grace-worthy? Well, I suppose that would be in the Eye of the Beholder, right? Okay, in no particular order, here goes:

Grace #37 Coupons
My inbox has no less than 50 spam emails at any time on any day because I give out my email address like Santa hands out candy canes. My husband is appalled at the junk I get, but I love it and I'll tell you why: coupons. I get more discounts, coupons, special online offers, and rebates just by signing up, filling out all those reward card applications, and giving up my email address to every business who asks for it. This Christmas nearly every item I purchased was subsidized with a coupon, rebate, or at least free shipping. The spam price is high, but so are the discounts.

Grace #38 Benjamin Moore Paint
I've been looking around the old homestead lately and been thinking that I'm ready to take on the next project: my daughter's bathroom. The sophisticated burgundy/gray color scheme doesn't mesh well with the fuschia/orange/pink polka dot shower curtain picked out by a 10 yr old. I have been using Benjamin Moore paints for years and I really like the quality of the paint. I know that I'll have a lot of primer on the walls to cover that burgundy, but when it finally is time to put on the new color I'm glad I have a product that I know will look great.

Grace #39 Milton-Bradley and Parker Brothers
Our family loves to play games. I don't know exactly when board games became popular,but I do know that as a way to connect that doesn't involve dressing/undressing a Barbie or an American Girl doll, playing board games can't be beat. This year for Christmas I bought our family the new Clue game that involves spies, missions, undercover agents, and even text messages sent to your cell phone if you want to use them. I also bought the newest "boutique" Monopoly that uses cell phones, blow dryers, and handbags for tokens and has you owning properties like nail salons, cab companies, and coffee shops. Between those 2 games we have spent hours over Christmas break just hanging out as a family and enjoying each other's company.

Grace #40 Rankin/Bass Productions
Ever seen Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Santa Claus is Comin' to Town? Twas the Night Before Christmas? They are all products of the talented team Rankin and Bass. I don't know where they got their inspiration, but I love it! I grew up in the 70s and clay-mation Christmas specials were the coolest most cutting edge form of holiday entertainment. Now, 30 years later I still look forward to those Christmas specials every year. I hope they never stop airing them. Whoever Rankin and Bass are (were?) they certainly knew good holiday entertainment and the songs and clay-mation never fail to take me back to being 9 years old, ecstatic for Christmas, sitting in front of the TV, hair still wet from my bath, in my flannel nightgown and waiting for the Christmas special to begin. Without cable, TiVo, remote controls, DVRs, VCRs, and the youtube we had to wait for something that only came on once a year. You had to actually watch the show when it was aired and you had to sit through commercials. It was a different world back then, but it was magical.

Grace #41 UPS
I don't care who you are, we as a human race get excited when the UPS truck pulls up to our homes. What's it going to be? Who will it be for? Is it something I ordered or something someone sent to me? And arriving home to see a big box on the front porch? Forgeddaboudit! That's hugely exciting! Who among us doesn't make it a priority to drag that box inside and check out the recipient name? I love UPS. I'm sure I'd love FedEx too but they never seem to bring me anything, perhaps I'm not cool enough.

Grace #42 My dad's Christmas gift to me
This year my dad sent me the best Christmas gift I have ever received: he painstakingly digitized every slide photo from my childhood and then sent me a flashdrive that contained, well, my childhood. That's right, my entire childhood was contained on a 4g flash drive and is now copied to my hard disk. Pictures of me napping when I was 2, dressed for Halloween at 10, and going to prom at 16 all jumbled together with family vacations (we seemed to visit a lot of cemeteries...), birthday parties, Christmases, Confirmations and graduations and everything in between. I always look forward to The Year in Photographs that CNN has on their website at the end of the year; this was like seeing My Life in Photographs. I didn't grow up with photo albums, scrapbooks, and framed pictures dominating the walls. I grew up with infrequent gatherings around the blank wall in the dining room with the projector set up on the table. I never got to see myself growing up as I was growing up. It's quite revealing, healing, and entertaining to see my developing body, changing hair colors/styles, and the fashions of the '70s and '80s all as captured by my dad. It's an amazing gift and I will always be Grateful.

Grace #43 Snow
Not much of a Grace to many people, I know, but snow is still magical to me. I suppose it's good to feel that way because as I sit here snug in my kitchen the snow is falling...hard. It's beautiful. The evergreens are coated, the bare branches are outlined, the street, grass, and sidewalks are all blanketed. I don't have anywhere I have to go today. I don't have anything I have to do. I can just enjoy the beauty of a New England winter. I can see it. If I go outside I can smell it. I can taste and touch it. And I am Grateful.

Grace #44 Chai Tea
I've never been a coffee drinker. I love the smell of coffee, so much so that I filled the glass votives around my candles with coffee beans so that my whole house has a subtle, warm coffee smell when the candles are lit. I first discovered chai tea when it was served to me at a Tastefully Simple party. I had a mug of Oh My Chai! and I was in love. Warm, spicy, aromatic, and comforting; I finally got what all the coffee-hype was about. Then when I discovered Cafe Escapes chai tea for the Keurig, I knew my world was complete. I feel pampered when I am sipping a mug of chai tea, flipping through a magazine, and relaxing. I feel trendy when I am running errands, driving around town with my Starbucks cup in the cupholder. I feel energized when I have had a long, busy day, I am exhausted and that hit of caffeine starts to work. I feel

Grace #45 Hoodies
I cannot think of any article of clothing that could be warmer, snugglier, or more versatile than a hoodie sweatshirt. I have a fleece hoodie from the Gap that Steve bought for me for Christmas in 1996. It's still in commission, still being worn, still adored, and still by-God-the-snuggliest-thing-I-own. I love wearing hoodies and I love hugging people wearing hoodies. Lately Steve has been adorning his body with Patriots, Bruins, and Red Sox hoodies. Hoodies make people huggable. When our daughter sits on my lap with one of her Aero hoodies, watch out! I don't want that child to ever leave. I sometimes even replace wearing my apron with the big front pocket by wearing a hoodie, also with a big front pocket! Front pockets, draw string hoods, oversized, and made of the softest fabrics on the planet: hoodies are great!

Grace #46 HGTV
I don't know exactly when HGTV was offered by my cable provider, but I do know that since then my life hasn't been the same. I watch HGTV to be inspired, to relax, to criticize, to learn, to make changes, and to laugh. There isn't another network that provides such a diversity of experiences for me or that I enjoy so regularly. My current favorite shows are Color Splash, Divine Design and Colour Confidential. I used to watch Designed to Sell and Get it Sold faithfully, but thankfully I am no longer trying to buy or sell a house so I don't feel as drawn to those shows right now. I have had the courage and know-how to take on more projects just because I've seen them on HGTV. And it's free with my basic cable service, what a Grace!

Grace #47 Granite countertops
In my lifetime of homes in which I have lived I have had formica countertops, butcher block countertops, tile countertops and granite countertops. Hands down the granite is my favorite. I love how my counter sparkles with these little reflective bits in the granite. I love the solidness. I love the easy clean-up when my daughter got Sharpie permanent marker on it. I love the pattern and color and the natural-ness of it. I know there are now more trendy counters: quartz, cement, and marble. I know that someday, in the not-too-distant future having granite counters will be like having formica counters: something that dates your house and is a turn-off for homebuyers. Trends come, trends go, I know that I may not always salivate over my own kitchen counters. I'll look back on this post though, and remember: my granite counters make me happy every single time I walk into my kitchen and that's a Grace.

Grace #48 Long-distance Friends
Somehow I have managed to connect with the 3 people in this world willing and able to keep up a long distance friendship. I know how rare the quality is because, having moved around a lot, there are a lot of "moving casualties" in my friendship circle. My Christmas card list bears testament to the number of people that I thought I'd always know, always have in my life, that are now mere names on a list: people about whom I know almost nothing and with whom I have very little contact. I appreciate each and every one of these people on a basic, visceral level. You have kept me sane when my life was crazy, kept me connected when I knew not a single soul within 1000 miles, kept me loved when I didn't care too much for myself. I cherish you, and I am Grateful.

Grace #49 Target
I love shopping at Target! I've never been much of a Kmart girl, and Wal-mart feels too controversial, but Target -- Target never lets me down. Need a fast, fairly inexpensive update for your living room? Target has your back: a few sparkly picture frames, some glittery throw pillows, a scented candle or two and your old, shabby place looks great. Sick of your bedroom? No worries: a new duvet cover, perhaps some decadent sheets, a few throw pillows, more candles, more picture frames and you're good as new. Lighting emergency? All the cool kids get their lamps from Target! Last minute gift? Emergency wine glasses? Trendy mirror or clock? I'm getting a little excited just thinking about where else can I buy gorgeous velvet cheetah-print gloves AND dishwashing liquid AND pick up a Starbucks chai latte as I walk out the door. Bliss.

Grace #50 Disney
I'll admit it, I am in the Disney fan-club. I still have fantastic memories from the trip we took to Disney World, almost 7 years ago, I still get excited when a new Disney or Pixar movie is coming out, I still regularly watch Phineas and Ferb, and I think that the High School Musical movies are sheer cinematic genius for the tween crowd. I miss having a child young enough to make a regular pilgrimage to the Disney store, and I fully intend to return to Disney World next year. I know it's a cliche and I don't care. I wear my mouse ears with pride and I'll never forget how much joy all of the toys, games, and movies have brought to our family. Disney sells magic and to those who are willing to believe, it's a great thing to buy.

Grace #51 Burt's Bees
I am currently wearing the Papaya Lip Shimmer. My hands smell faintly of almond from the almond hand creme, and my feet tingle in peppermint happiness from the foot creme. Burt's Bees provides the perfect balance of crunchy-granola-natural that I crave with the decadent smells, easy availability, and fairly reasonable prices that I need. Not as perfume-y as The Body Shop, not as expensive as Avalon Organics, not as hard to find as some other natural products, and adorable packaging to boot. Recently I had a rash (I could just leave you hanging there with all sorts of gross visions in your head) from my sports bra strap. I smoothed on some Burt's Bees Res Q Ointment and all was well. No dangerous chemicals, no environmental worries, no fake ingredients, just Burt and his bees and some herbs. Try that with a petroleum product!

Grace #52 This Blog
Not unlike my Life in Pictures that was gifted by my Dad, this blog is my gift to myself. A log, a chronicle of sorts of my life. A good barometer I can use to see if I'm moving forward, getting stuck, bitching too much, exercising too little, or having faith in God. I look back on posts made a year ago and I am astounded at the grumpy, Realtor-hating, no-faith-in-the-Universe person who was so worried about finding the right house. Where was my faith? Why did I eat so much sugar? Who was I? I hope to look back a year from now on this post and still feel grateful for all the things I've listed plus a thousand more. I don't have any resolutions, but I do have plans: plans to continue my much-reduced-sugar-intake; plans to continue blogging; plans to upload more pictures, decorate more rooms, reduce more clutter, and organize my life. I'll know how I'm doing, and so will you because of this blog. Deb made me start blogging, and I am Grateful.

Happy New Year!


Deb said...

We're gald you started blogging too! It's good to check in on how others view things going on in our world. Your insight is always refreshing! Looking forward to your new year of new ideas...
ps-thanks a lot for finishing your Graces! Way to add the pressure! (haha)

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