Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blessed. (#1161 - 1185)

Wrote this on Christmas Eve, one of the few days I wish that I work at an office, bank or store, or in nursing leadership or an outpatient clinic.
I wake up in my warm bed after working the night before and call out to Loki, who runs into the bedroom and jumps onto the bed, into his spot when I am sleeping during the day. I find my husband formatting the laptop that is for me (his mom's old computer). I give him a kiss, take a quick shower and get dressed in fun, Christmas scrubs. We sit down by our little Christmas tree and exchange the gifts we got for each other. Loki helps. Christopher got me the movie, Inception, a subscription to the magazine Prevention and a microwavable coffee mug to take to work that he knew I would like by listening to me say that I want to create no waste at work (i.e. no styrofoam cups). Any gift that I will use several times a week until it breaks is a great gift, in my opinion. In case you are curious, I got him ceramic ramekins, plastic spice jars and a gift certificate to a spice store that he has been wanting to visit. (Yes, all of his gifts encourage him to cook yummy food, which also clearly benefits me.) We open some thoughtful, fun gifts from friends and then we have a yummy dinner with eggnog for dessert. We talk about the next day when Chris will drive and I will sleep the whole way to Minnesota so we can celebrate Christmas with (most of*) our families.
And then a go to work, slightly grumbling about having to go to work at 7pm on Christmas Eve.
As I get report, the house supervisor goes into one of my rooms and starts a new IV for my patient. I have been at work for 16 minutes and he has already solved one of my problems.
I go into another room and my patient asks what I am doing for Christmas and I tell her that I am going home tomorrow, knowing that she will not.
Soon afterwards I enter another room, help out and talk briefly with that patient and I leave thinking that he will most likely not live another year.
I am thankful for some perspective, knowing that working on Christmas eve isn't all that bad. And, as stated above, I did have a fantastic evening. I can choose to see work as the blessing that it is and instead of grumbling, I can choose to be thankful.
After all, today isn't about gifts or yummy food or working or going home. Sometimes, even on Christmas, it is a good to get a reminder that it isn't about me. It seems silly that after reading the gospel accounts of Christ's life this month and preparing my mind and body for his birth, I still need that reminder. To reflect on my Savior, the beautiful story of his birth that highlights prayer and obedience and his life.
Merry Christmas!
* I have added an item to my bucket list: spend a Christmas in Beijing ... but I'll revise that if the Butz family moves somewhere else. Just an FYI for Chris and his family. =)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looking a lot like Christmas ...

1148. My Savior
1149. hearing his life put to music, Handel's Messiah with my in-laws
1150. Their trip here also included yummy Indian food and breakfast at our favorite coffee shop. (I love that we are beginning to have places to call "ours")
1151. Eva. There are many reasons for me to be thankful for my friend Eva, not the least of which is how she called AAA and helped me get my keys unlocked from the inside of my car. 
1152. AAA 
1153. Schedules that align and roads that are clear for lunch in the middle
1154. Christmas gifts under our cute, little tree
1155. Celebrating Jesus' birth with new friends who I hope will be good friends. 
1156. Successfully navigating an issue in our relationship with Christopher
1157. Dinner with family in my grandma's farm house, and, how, in a coincidence, our visit coincided with my aunt and uncle's visit with two of their grandkids.
1158 and 1159. So I was served strawberry tea and read Winnie the Pooh books for a few hours
1160. Christmas is coming ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

list of fun things =)

In other news, Chris is done with his first semester today; he'll turn in his paper this afternoon. Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! If you ask him what he is going to do during his month-long break from school, he would tell you that he is going to cook great meals and clean the apartment - basically take care of me when I am working. I hope there will be some of that but I also hope there will be some evening walks in the snow, a trip to our favorite park and an ample amount of board game playing.
In the mean time, though, his parents are coming to visit and we are going to go see Handel's Messiah by the Milwaukee Symphony. I am blessed to have a good, mutually enjoyable relationship with my in-laws and when we said goodbye to them after Thanksgiving and his mom said "maybe we'll see you before Christmas ... " it just made my heart happy. And now they are coming. tomorrow. another yaaaaaay!
Other fun things on the docket: a quick trip to the Dells to see a dear friend who is willing to drive 2 plus hours just for lunch. A trip to Oshkosh to visit my grandma on her farm. Getting a small tree for our apartment. And our first ever "Christmas Breakfast" - which I want to come up with a stellar name for because if it is a hit, we'll hopefully make a tradition out of it. And that is just in the next few weeks, don't get me started on the next few months 8-)
And, of course there are things to be thankful for.
1129. safety in the snow. The "blizzard" was less intense here 'cuz the rain we got the whole day before hand made the snow too wet to blow around like crazy.
1130. getting one of my car doors open when I thought they were all frozen shut.
1131. my fun Christmas scrub top - a pleasant change to my all green scrubs, another throw back to my Mayo days (incidental blue is the one color we can't wear)
1132. figuring out why I was so tired (nope, not pregnant ... actually/oddly just needed to sleep a little less)
side note: every time I write something that I think could possibly be interpreted as a slight suggestion that we are pregnant, I want to clarify that we aren't. So, just so you all know - you people who I love and e-mail me at the unintentional hint of a baby brenna on the way - when I want you to know, you will know. I will not hint around or hide it in the middle of a post. You'll know. I promise. So I'm not going to clarify any more . Okay dokie? (hmm ... baby brenna does kinda have a cute ring to it, huh?)
1133. Christmas carols. on pandora. on the radio. in stores
1134. snow covered evergreen trees
1135. Loki's boots. We are looking for a jacket for him 'cuz OUR routine to get ready to go for a walk looks something like this: put on long underwear and warm pants. Pull on sweat shirt and winter coat. Find hat, scarf and mittens. Bundle up. LOKI's routine to get ready looks something like this: Find boots. Find the 4th boot. Put on boots.
1136. Yoga. I heart yoga.
1137. phone dates. I heart phone dates
1138. my warm bed in the morning
1139. on-line shopping
1140. forming new habits: flossing, drinking enough water daily, keeping our kitchen table clean
1141. warm mittens
1142. soup simmering on the stove
1143. crystal light drink mix
1144. Christopher's words of truth lovingly spoken when I am discouraged
1145. a semester behind us
1146. kisses from my husband
1147. Yoga being interrupted because Loki thinks that since we are playing on the floor we should be playing with him

Today I felt like a Mayo girl ...

Of course where I come from will effect what kind of nursing care I give but last night I did a few things that are decidedly "Mayo"
- I put a flat sheet under my patient, rebelling against the way we are supposed to boost patients (with a chux for you nurses) because I simply don't like it.
- I took up the torch (again) for a mock code committee - actually just a mock code event. Having a plan (or an idea of who is going to show up) for something like that is a necessity, I think.
- I realized that scanning meds has made me type A - ish about charting meds (on paper here). And I'm not type A about much of anything, although in this case I think "type A" could be interpreted as "legal"
- My orientee - yes, I have an orientee - walked into our room and said "wow, your sheet looks so perfect" - that may be a 8MB thing and not really a Mayo thing, I'm not sure.
I can honestly say that the thing I miss the most (note: not my co-workers ... I said "thing") is policies. Mayo's motto could be "a policy for everything and everything has a policy" In my opinion that comes before computerized charting and doctors/residents rounding early.
I am learning that I can be glad to go to work even though I don't love my job. I can still give good patient care and, hopefully, instigate some change. In the mean time I'm going to use sheets how I see fit, campaign for a mock code committee and better med documentation and be really happy that I am a Mayo girl.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Loki,
Just a little reminder that your monthly budget is $50. 
There's always next month buddy!
the one who brings home the (figurative) bacon

Friday, December 10, 2010

A short list

1123. Fantastic tasty food filling our kitchen (and our bellies)
1124. the box from MN filled with love -- and anticipation of our girls Mexican vacation coming up.
1125. and Christmas songs, which rock.
1126. the unique nativity set on our table
1127. Books for Advent
1128. Loki. Hey, I can be thankful for him every week, right? You can't tell how cute he is in that picture 'cuz he's all black but that's okay because he was also a little worried about why I was trying to put the paper chain around him.

In other news, I actually make a plan for my blog - gasp - for next year. It involves the camera I am getting for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!), picasa and hopefully some more pictures of us people ... basically motivation for me to be creative and get to know a new camera and a way to share a quick glance into our life.

That's all -- like I said, short.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"just press play" ... my letter to Tony Horton ... (the guy who does P90x)

I had planned on writing down my gratitude list this morning but that would involve some pictures and moving to get them but since the laptop is carefully perched on top of Loki and some pillows on my lap, it doesn't seem worth it right now. So this will have to do, instead. 

 Dear Tony Horton,
My husband and I started P90x several months ago, after being inspired by success stories on-line. We had just moved and figured we had the time and motivation to do it. However, prior to this, putting my name and the words exercise and intense in the same sentence did not really exist. But still, we committed to it and have been going strong. We aren't doing it in 90 days, though, as that just isn't realistic for our life. Instead, we workout with you 4 or 5 days a week and that works for us.

Right now, we are on a rest week, which I think is an oxymoron ... kinda like the "breaks" during your workouts that involve running in place and jumping jacks. We got bands after about a month and I realized I had been dogging some of the lifting workouts and it has been rewarding to see see the numbers on my tracking sheet change.

I realize that there is a muted option and I understand why but so far we have yet to use it, opting instead to quote you and comment as you explain, yet again, the difference between static and ballistic stretches. As annoying as you sometimes are, you are motivating and the "just press play" phrase a good reminder that simply starting is the first step to success. The only time I am truly annoyed though is when you talk about not aging -- because even though you are probably aging really really really well, your body isn't the same as when you were 20, I hate to break it to you.

I don't have a favorite exercise (excluding StretchX) -- I like Yoga, Kenpo and Plyo all equally. But my least favorite is Legs and Back because of how sore I am after wards. And, I'm not going to lie, I'm not a huge fan of the recovery drink but when blended with some frozen fruit it is better and it does seem to help me feel better (i.e. no longer starving around midnight at work). I haven't seen much movement on the scale, which was frustrating. For some reason, I always think I should just be able to exercise and that that is enough but it isn't (for me). So now I'm keeping track of my intake and seeing some changes.

So, thank you for invading our living room several times a week and entertaining us somewhat in the process.

Still pressing play,
Rachel B

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Cards (for Liz .... kind of)

The topic of Christmas card came up during our Thanksgiving visit to MN and Liz, a dear family friend, declared that she just had to have a Christmas card from us. Now I usually dismiss the idea of Christmas cards with pictures and a newsletter and all the do-dads, even though I really enjoy getting cards from our family and friends in the mail. This year, though, it seems practical, seeing as we got married and moved – it will be a good way to send out our new address seeing as the cute “we have moved cards” never made it out of the box. 

Shutterfly has a huge selection of Christmas and holiday cards, making it difficult to choose a favorite. The selection is classy, easy to create and huge. In addition, they have personalized mugs – like the one I just gave my friend for her birthday and easy to make photo books – like the one the holds pictures from our wedding. I also think I will make a yearly photo book for us and have started to design 2010. The thing I like the most about Shutterfly is that it is easy to use and fairly intuitive. 

Also, Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free cards – follow this link for directions. Hey, we all know how much I like free things =)

And so, I am going to start a new thing and send out Christmas cards – but I’ve decided if they make it out anytime before the new year, I will be happy with that. So, Liz (and several other people) you’ll be getting nice Christmas card from us – enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1097. Pandora, Christmas style
1098. Safe trips to MN and back
1099. And a dog that travels in the car wonderfully
1101. Thanksgiving dinner: an abundance of wonderful food, family and friends
1102. Seeing my oldest friend, her family and her cute baby belly
1103. Playing monopoly ... actually that is a little deceptive ... i should say "playing a game where my little brother doesn't cream me" (okay, well, he just lost first but I'll take that)
1104. Sleeping in my parents' new guest room (aka Johnny's room)
1105. Relaxing time spent at my in-law's.
1106. Envisions of our children running around and enjoying Grandma and Grandpa's house as much as my brothers and I did.
1107. Loki - I have mentioned how much I love him, right?

1108. Realizing that praying for my husband is a gift and I can do it uniquely because I am his wife
1109. Small, simple, daily goals - and the "Yes" after them (I decided a check mark wasn't as motivating)
1110. My father-in-law's waffles on Sunday morning
1111. Friends who stay and play long after the fantastic meal is done
1112. Hugs
1113. The group of people who have welcomed us into their biblestudy recently
1114. Advent readings
1115. Apple cider, especially the second time around, after I realized it needed a little bit of sugar
1116. Afternoons when Chris doesn't have any school work scheduled.
1117. Knowing that home can be two places
1118. Talking with Chris about communication
1119. Long underwear
1120. Heat
1121. Slippers
1122. Christmas trees

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving, 2010 edition

I wonder if it is a first world "issue" to wonder what would happen if I didn't have something ... if I didn't have a job ... a house ... a car ... enough money to pay for heat or clothes or food ... would I still be happy? thankful? would I still believe that God is good? Would I have a better understanding of what it means to trust God (literally) for my daily bread? Would I even recognize myself if I lived in a different time period or a different country?
So far in my adult life, my solution to those wanderings have been to try to be a good and wise steward of the many many things I have and, more recently, to be thankful for them. With Thanksgiving just this week, I do wonder at the ethicalness of simply being thankful while sitting in a warm house, with all my family, eating a huge dinner. Should thankfulness produce change? Should gratitude cause me to live differently? Has it?
Now being thankful has changed my attitude toward my job, my possessions, and even my relationships. I know that I have begun to approach God differently. I enjoy life more and I am less anxious. And I believe that is a good place to start: I want any change in my actions to reflect my thoughts/attitudes/beliefs. Now, more often than not, I find myself saying:
"I am incredibly blessed. What does an incredibly blessed life look like?"
How do I translate a spirit of thankfulness into my giving, my actions, my time? I don't have many answers right now. But I do know where I should start.
In prayer.  
And also, to use the simple act of writing something in a public place as motivation and accountability, two other things: become more involved (through prayer and letters) in the lives of our sponsored children and begin the application process to volunteer ministry in Milwaukee.
 And so, to continue my list for this week:
1078. I have a job that I enjoy (even though I claim to be bored sometimes) and get paid a nice chunk of money.
1079. rain when I realize it has been awhile since I watered my tulip bulbs
1080. a walk in the rain with Loki that was much warmer than I thought it would be. The long underwear helped with the wet, not the chill
1081. A wonderful visit with a good friend and her husband
1082. where I held her new baby, basically the entire time we were there
1083. my husband driving the whole way home while I slept - I had a hard time adjusting to being up during the day during my weekend off
1084. hair that smells like fall
1085. learning that laundry is much easier - and less overwhelming - when I have a system for doing it (two loads once a week on a night that I am staying up late before a night shift). It was a complete myth that two people don't make that much laundry - but I know it is much less than a family =)
1086. Psalm 139 read beautifully at church
1087. my head on Chris' chest, listening to his heart beating, his arms around me
1088. starting my Christmas shopping ... 'cuz I usually do ALL my shopping in one day. But it turns out that doing a ton of something you don't really enjoy (shopping) in one really long day isn't really fun. So, I'm brainstorming some creative fun gifts that I can make and that makes me so excited that I just want to skip out of work and create things. But I wont ... and, instead, will love the anticipation of the next few weeks until I can.
1089. Speaking of which - I finished this blanket, my project for the last month
1090. Plans for vacation that materialized so quickly. Seriously, in one day, I realized that I have enough PTO (vacation time), was granted my vacation request and found a co-worker to work a shift for me. Oh, and did I mention my sign-on bonus that will come at a very convenient time?
1091. cold, clean water in the fridge
1092. Excitement over going home and seeing people that we love.
1093. Days off, all strung in a row for this weekend
1094. flannel sheets
1095. an encouraging e-mail from my sister-in-law
1096. waking up to my husbands gentle touch when I sleep past my alarm

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In between working 7 out of the last 8 days, my attempts at gratitude have been kinda weak ... alternating between reasons why it is actually a good thing that I am committed to working night shifts for the next two years (that list was kinda hard, by the way, since I really don't care that much about the money) and my list of things I am excited for in the future (a four day weekend, meeting the cutest lil baby girl in the world on Saturday, Thanksgiving, the two days that are labeled "craft-y-ness" on my calendar, time off for Christmas and a trip to Mexico that is looking more and more like a reality). 
And while all those things are well and good - except my lame attempts to make myself feeling better about not seeing the sun recently - none of them involve now. Today.

And there are, of course, many things to be thankful for today:
1060. My husband who takes care of the dog and the dishes, especially when I am working.
1061. Meals in the freezer from our night of crazy, intense cooking night earlier this month
1062. the part of my check stub that says "PTO: 36 hours." Hey, I can not care about the money but totally care about the time off, right? 
1063. knowing that I am enough
1064. reading through the gospels in preparation to celebrate Christ's birth/life
1065. completing a project I have been working on for awhile (pics to follow)
1066. Loki resting his head on my foot while he sleeps next to me during the day
1067. the fact that the workers are done working right outside my bedroom window
1068. team work with new co-workers
1069. favorite sweaters ready for another winter
1070. the laundry room all to myself, late at night 
1071. knowing answers to questions at work
1072. starting IV's again
1073. days without the computer and internet
1074. being consistent with P90x - not every day but usually what we have planned for (4 - 5 times a week) and seeing the changes
1075. the window scraper
1076. and heat blasting on feet on my drive home

  1077. Oh, and it's Thursday! My work week is done and I can taste the freedom - in the form of time with my husband, dog, family and friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

some pictures, you say?

1035. changing of the seasons

1036. fall in a bowl
autumn stew, and - coincidentally - all local and organic =)
1037. the first month of not paying rent and mortgage!!
1038. and knowing that is an answer to prayer
1039. driving around last week, 6 stores/stops in 2 hours ... umm, yes I can navigate the south west Milwaukee suburbs, thank you very much
1040. a bag of tulips, my favorite purchase
1041. my husband, the chief financial officer of our household
1042. and did I mention that he bakes too?
ahhhh, yes, pumpkin pie #2. they just keep getting better and better, baby!
1043. chilly bike rides with Loki where he rides like his tail is on fire. Seriously, a pronounced change from a few weeks ago ... maybe because it is cooler?
1044. gifts from friends: mango salsa from the Rochester farmer's market, this super cute purse and fun slippers
don't they say you are supposed to change purses in the fall?
1045. beets. umm, I love beets - who knew? from the farmer's market, naturally, my new favorite place
beet risotto, further proof that my husband is a culinary genius
 1046. time to be still, quiet and reflect on my God, my rock and my redeemer
 1047. Whirlwind MN trip #2 ... at the risk of sounding redundant: 
1048. friends and family and the fact that every time that we took a breath, we were headed off to the next fun thing
1049. seeing both my brothers for an entire evening
1050. feeling like a "doggie mom" and missing Loki when we weren't in the same place (yep say it with me "awwwwwwwwwwww")
1051. holding Megan's hand as we walked through the Mall of America
1052. and seeing how much Ethan has grown since July
1053. dinner at Good Earth with Ian (I am so happy we are friends)
1054. church. 
1055. hugs from our Rochester peeps, enough said
1056. watching Chris' face light up as friends said they will be coming for Thanksgiving dinner (esp. Eva)
1057. and knowing that Mom B will welcome our friends to Thanksgiving dinner
1058. coming home with 2 baskets of clean laundry, free of charge (now I know that someone (my parents and Chris') DO pay for the water and electric that helped our laundry get clean, but it was nice not to also feed the washer and dryer.)
My parent's elderly neighbor recently passes away (not what I am expressively thankful for -- it takes some explaining) and she wanted me to have her knitting stuff which, in itself, is a small treasure.  But more importantly, it made me remember many years ago when, after a visit to my grandma's where she tried to teach me to knit, I walked next door to ask Dorothy because I really didn't understand. And she watched me struggle for awhile and then said in her crisp British voice "here, let me help you" and I, eventually understood and learned to love it. And then, not too long ago, I walked over with a project that wasn't exactly right and she looked at it for awhile before she looked at me and asked in her crisp British voice, "did you check your gauge?" but she knew I didn't even though I should. 
And so to one of the woman who passed one the love and knowledge of her craft to me and now, her needles, yarn and patterns complete with notes: thank you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear new home owner,

Today you will acquire our house and I could get all nostalgic and tell you that I fell in love in that house and how my sweat is mixed with the dirt in the back yard and the paint on the walls, but instead, I am going to give you some practical tips from my first few years as a new homeowner:
- When you are at the store buying equipment for the house and you are standing before, say, hoses and you want to buy the shorter - and cheaper - version ... don't. Always go for the larger, longer option, you wont regret it. For instance, when you send your fiance  over the roof with the hose to spray out the gutters on the other side, a nice long hose comes in handy. In the meantime, however, Gideon, the old guy across the street, has everything you may need and then some.
- The yard may seem a little daunting at first but if you take care of the weeds and overgrowth, that will go a long ways to making it look nice. The first year, it's a good idea to wait and see what comes up so that you don't go messing with something that is already there. My general rule for weeds is that if they weren't there yesterday and they pull up easily (short root system), then I am safe to rip them up to my hearts content.
- A squirrel has spent the last two winters in the shed and I haven't done much about it since I don't think it does any harm. So, just don't let him scare you in the spring. And a rabbit sometimes lives under the gazebo ... I call him/her/it Thumpy but he/she/it does not respond.
- I am sorry about the grass ...
- two words: weed hog. (or fertilizer). ok, three words.
- maybe it was because I was a single girl for part of the time I lived there but if I left the leaves un-raked or the sticks un-picked up or the snow un-shoveled for too long, one of my neighbors, usually the Bosnian guy would just do it for me. They are nice neighbors and they are all retired in the I'm-going-to-sweep-my-sidewalk-sort of way so don't even attempt to compete with their yards. In fact, instead, let them help you with yours (that was my motto anyway).
- always, always, always get promised work in writing.
That's all! I hope you enjoy the house, kitchen and yard!

by the numbers

(a shout out to the layout of my cousins' Christmas cards)
48 hours
558 miles
1 dinner with Chris' family
1 lunch with mine
a few text messages exchanged which resulted in 10 friends for dinner at my fav place ... so good for my heart!
22 signatures (a piece) to transfer the title of our house over to a stranger
3 banks and an undisclosed amount of money wired to the title company (this isn't the place for me to grip about the amount but it is, indeed, a number)
1 successful run to Hobby Lobby to pick up 1 ball of yarn - and a good reminder to get enough yarn the first time 
6 (I think?) lovely pictures viewed on Dunn Brothers walls
30 minutes Chris spent on the roof. in the freezing wind and rain
1 last token trip to the compost pile with 2 bags of wet leaves. did i mention the freezing wind and rain?
2 friends over for dessert and 1 long conversation in Colby - love you ladies!
3 doggie toys went with us ... 2 came home
1 thankful and happy heart. Selling the house is an answer to prayer and going home for a visit was oh, so much better than leaving  =) 
all this and Loki and I still had time for 1 nap on a super comfy couch while wrapped up in snuggies
oh, and 40 - 50 mph wind to push us back home
Can you say whirlwind?!? We get to do it all again (with slight variations) in 8 days and I couldn't be happier!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Multitude Monday: the wordy version

1015 -1017: Quiet nights at work. Yes, I may say that I am bored and wish for busier, sicker patients (only health care professionals can wish for people to be sick and it isn't odd) and I will be happy when that time comes but I am also enjoying the time to sit, think, read, write (type) and talk. I do my best thinking at night (hence the name of this blog) and the last couple of months are no exception. And I'm reading a book that is rocking my world: Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart. (thanks Gina for the suggestion! You are 2 for 2 -- did you know I was counting? Crazy Love is next!)
1018 - 1021: Choosing what is important. When I work consecutive night shifts, I wake up around 4pm and am on my way to work by 6:30pm, leaving about two hours of time to see Chris and do a few things. That also leave some time for me to decide that I'd rather make dinner with Chris than finish putting away the laundry from last week. I'd rather sit on the couch with him than make sure my hair is perfectly straight. I'd rather bike with Loki than putter around on-line. If I only have two hours with my love, I am determined to make those one hundred and twenty minutes count.
1022 - 1026: Going to Rochester. After I sleep and Chris is done with class today, we are driving to Rochester (i.e. home) where we will see some of my favorite people, eat at my favorite restaurant and do a few of my favorite things. We'll also finish some paperwork to sell our house on Friday. I think the next few days will be as much about closure as long hugs, good food and laughter. And I get to spend several hours all strung together when I am awake in the same place as my husband -- major bonus.
1027 - 1034: That brings me to the next one: Christopher. I find so much security in knowing that I am known, listened to and cherished by him. He knows what makes me happy, what helps makes working nights easier. He takes care of Loki, makes me fantastic meals, spends awhile holding me in the morning while I fall asleep and sends me sweet, reflective e-mails when I am gone. He is wonderful and the way he selflessly loves me gives me a glimpse of God's love.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One Year ...

It has been a year since I started counting up to 1,000 gifts and I completed my goal this week. That is roughly 2.7 things to be thankful for every day (which actually doesn’t sound like all that much right now).

A year ago I sent my first gratitude list to my old roommate working on the Africa Mercy and somewhat stealth-ly started this little journey. This week I walked through the woods and the leaves crunched beneath my feet, so many leaves that, at times, it was impossible to see the trail but for the opening in the trees, and our little black dog panted contently at my side and I reflected on the significance of my year of being thankful.

I now know that simple things can be rituals that fill my soul: tea or coffee in my favorite cup in the morning, morning prayers, open windows, post-night shift mornings that find me curled up next to Chris, sitting with Loki on my lap, farmer’s market produce, individual time with friends.

I have found that cataloging the things I am thankful for has made me more aware of the things I really enjoy, I have found what makes me tick: coffee with friends, snickerdoodle cookies. working out with Chris, the changing of the seasons, playing in the dirt/doing yard work, knitting, making dinner for friends, having a clean kitchen sink and getting real paper mail.

These things happen every single day, they make me happy and remind me of God’s generous and abundant provision.

I think being thankful has caused me to be more present, in a in-the-moment sort of way. For many years, I have had a sense that I was waiting for the next “big” thing … event … trip … life change ... something. During this year I have focused on enjoying today, weather if be a laundry/house work/mail tending to sort of day or a crazy/fun/adventure filled sort of day. Both are needed: one is like the kidneys of life (taking care of business) the other is like the brain of life (where the magic happens). And who’s to say that taking care of business can’t also be magical? If you talk to a human anatomy prof or a renal doc, they may beg to differ that the magic happens in the brain but that kinda thwarts my analogy right now so I’m not going o go there. Anyway, I have managed to find the magic and gifts in the everyday and I consider it a blessing to be on this journey.

I am happier and more content and it so simple to explain: I encounter God everyday by being cognizant of the gifts that surround me.

I hope that when I am 82 my list will be long … 20,000 gifts … 50,000 gifts … I’m not sure what is realistic.
I hope I will teach my grandchildren the importance of being thankful and maybe they’ll say “grandma, you were alive when they had blogs?!?!?
I hope that my grave stone will say “grateful child of God.”

But most importantly, I hope I will give thanks in all things and for all things and that the spirit of thanksgiving will lead me closer to the Giver.

And so …

1001. this past year
1002. God’s generous and abundant provision
1003. street lights on a dark road
1004. the sky right before the sun sets
1005. the so quiet doggy on mornings when I am sleeping
1006. a near-perfect work schedule for next month
1007. attending a new biblestudy
1008. listening to a little girl read a Psalm
1009. connecting with a couple … before we moved, Chris and I didn’t really meet many new couple friends so it is novel we realize that we both really like the couple we just met and that feeling seems mutual as dinner invitations hang generously in the air.
1010. listening to majestic music while running errands
1011. the little things Chris does with and for me
1012. feeling loved and cherished from said things
1013. hearing my dear friend talk about her new motherhood
1013. finding "our place" - a beautiful park on Lake Michigan
1014. losing Loki's ball in Lake Michigan ('cuz he simply wouldn't fetch it) and being reminded of a similar incident on a super fun date when we were still dating. (Loki took the loss of his ball much better than Cinder's did though ... but we did eventually get Cinder's ball out of that little lake in Lanesboro)

Hope you all have a beautiful, blessed weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

How can I keep from singing?

the first several items, i wrote last week when I was sick ... the rest are from today. 

967. LOKI
i love this dog more everyday =)
 968. wearing a winter hat for the first time. I love winter accessories.
969. discovering all the trails in the woods. right next to our apartment complex
970. taking Chris to school
971. pumpkin spice coffee with a friend
972. farmer's market produce

973. Chris taking care of me when I am sick.
974. Loki laying on our bed, and on my lap, uncharacteristically happy to lay around with me all day
975. saltine crackers
976. the gadget we saved for so we can watch Netflix movies (and youtube and listen to pandora) on our tv. so cool.
977. seeing the pattern of my knitting project take shape. and then changing the pattern to make it easier to not make mistakes

978. this weekend.

979. this

980. and this
981. and this, trying to be a spaniel
982. these girls
983. and these guys
984. and this girl (she gets her own 'cuz she's special)
985. watching my lovely friend develop her hobby - beautiful photography
986. i mean, when the weekend ends like this, you know it was good.    

987. Six other people sleeping in our apartment
988. discovering beautiful places in Milwaukee
989. being there when Eva decides she likes something - anything - but on Saturday, Thai food
990. Sunday morning doughnut runs
991. Chris' face when something we make is really yummy
992. bowls literally licked clean
993. videos from Nigeria
994. finding comfort in the proof that friendships aren't destroyed by distance
995. friends who have fridge rights =)
996. feeling better
997. looking at my husband's schedule and knowing that he worked his mornings around me coming home from work
998. moments when we walked around a corner in the woods and stood speechless at the beauty of God's creation
999. and walking into an open area and being stunned again
1000 (!!!)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Things

When we moved I knew that things would be hard and then things would get better. And then, suddenly, without warning, the homesick-ness would slap me and demand to know why I had forgotten about it because it is still very much there. It was a strange combination of things that caused that to happen.
We had two couples over for dinner last weekend and it was lovely - nice to cook with Chris for other people in our house, exciting to get to know these new friends better, and fun to teach them a new game. At one point I realized that it seemed a little strange as they were waiting for us to be "hosts." Apparently (of course!) entertaining is different when it is with people you just met vs. friends who have shared your life for several years. Why I didn't realize that before that evening is beyond me but I think I recovered enough so that it wasn't awkward. And while I am so thankful that they came and they were very polite guests, it made me miss that people who have "fridge rights" in our life and who will sit at our table and drink wine while we finish cooking and who help themselves to whatever they want.
Then, a few days later we accepted our buyers counter offer and we now have a closing date for the end of October.
 I AM thankful ... and (to be honest) also sad and relieved and frustrated that we will lose money. It is the last physical thing that ties us to Rochester and while I thought I had dealt with most of the sad feeling about moving and selling the house, having a date, a finite ending of that phase of my life, is sad. 
And so, Monday night had me curled up on the couch with a black ball of sleeping warmth in my lap wearing smart wool socks, sipping good earth tea and watching 24 on netflix.  Comfort things ... coping mechanisms. I'm not sure it is a grand idea to list the things I miss ... so I will do it only once ...  I miss my yard and the dirt beneath my hands ... I miss my old job for so many reasons ... I miss our friends (the things above are in part comfort things because they remind me of them) ... and dinners at Mom and Dad Brenna's ... and worship at Salt and Light. I know that I miss these things because they are good, because I am blessed, because God is faithful. He is faithful and will continue to provide, in this place, in this phase of life. And my gratitude list will continue to grow.
And so, for today ...
934. being thankful when it is hard
935. family
936. friends
937. my handsome husband's sweet kiss as he gets out of bed (and I get to sleep for much longer)
938.calling Chris' parents "Mom and Dad B" ... somehow, in the last few weeks, that has begun to stick and I like it. =)
939. I am thankful that our house will be sold next month. It is an answer to prayer and an example of God's provision.
940. New friends around our kitchen table
941. and a mostly successful "mission" to convince them that they also like board games  =)
942. yummy smells from the crock pot
943. Walking the dog through neighborhoods - instead of just apartment land
944. the smell of fall air
945. chunky peanut butter inside the kong, helping to keep Loki quiet while I sleep
946. Chris' listening ear as I talk/vent about my work schedule
947. fantastic deals at local grocery stores. (HyVee does not compare!)
948. encouragement from a woman I hardly know
949. hoodie weather
950. comfy socks
951. tea in my favorite mug
952. truth touching my heart
953. a leisurely walk through the orchard that is a few miles from our apartment
954. planning when to go home next
955. planning fun things to do with friends when they come to visit!!!
956. the cappuccino yielding house supervisor from last tonight
957. finishing P90X workouts and knowing I am getting stronger because of it
958. and ... ummm ... skipping P90X and going to get ice cream ...
959. spending an afternoon with my grandma
960. the flexibility to adjust schedules in order to have quality time
961. long conversations about money, the next few years, and what is really important to us
962. mornings when i get to fall asleep in my husband's arms
963. An improvised cookie recipe turning out okay -- our oven isn't working, we didn't have milk and I wanted to make them healthier - and, after all that, they are pretty tasty.
964. reading my sister-in-laws blog and knowing that we share the same feelings from moving even though we did it in different countries for different reasons and in a different stage of life.
965. layering clothes
966. the hat for Chris taking shape beneath my hands

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dinner @ the Brenna's

Some people have recipes that have been passed down for generations before them written in their grandma's handwriting with directions for "to feed a family" and "to feed an army." Some people use recipes from television shows, where it inevitably takes longer to make it in a normal kitchen where chopped garlic doesn't magically appear in a bowl. Some people use recipes from Good Housekeeping or the Food Network magazine where the recipes have been tested and tried under various conditions, using substitute foods and methods.

I have my own recipe. It reads like this:

1. Fall in love with a man who loves to cook.
2. Marry him.
3. Do your best to pick out the things he needs from the store.
4. Compliment him.
5. Encourage him to try new things and cook for dinner parties.

So, here's what we've been having for dinner:

Speaking of dinner parties, we had a mystery dinner for some Rochester friends awhile ago, the menu had items such as: "plant naked pain", "cruel beer me", and "sporadic poet carpets." We had a great time cooking up some good food: deviled eggs, cold cucumber soup, barbecued ribs and creme brule. And watching them try to figure out what to "order" and putting together their plates was a lot of fun too.