Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gratitude--Days 9, 10, 11

Well, I have three days to catch up on now, don't I?

On Saturday, I was grateful I said "yes" to the invitation to play the piano for a family baptism first thing in the morning. I didn't really know the family, but I never regret attending a baptism even if I don't know the person. There is just something about seeing someone else take the plunge (quite literally, in our church) that brings tears to my eyes every single time. It's a big deal, making a commitment like that, and it says a lot about a person and their family who supports them. It motivates me to recommit myself.

I was also grateful that we made some serious progress toward our home projects. It's been a long time coming, and while froofing up our home often feels like a pointless and shallow pursuit to me, I also recognize that beautiful and orderly surroundings make life better. (I have very conflicted feelings about money, stuff, and materialism in general.) Just so you know, we are turning the main floor laundry room by the back door into a mudroom. I want to get this done SO BAD before winter hits full force so I don't have to look at the piles of coats, boots, scarves, hats, gloves, and backpacks all over the kitchen floor anymore. It's a bit ridiculous that a newer home of this size doesn't have a mudroom worked into the plan already (especially because they are so popular here in Utah--the land of big families), but we're going to take care of that by putting a stackable washer/dryer combo in our master closet and then utilizing the small closet-like laundry room that is already upstairs by the kids' rooms. (The older two--and maybe even Elizabeth--are SO going to start doing their own laundry on a regular basis! So she says . . .) So the prep work in our closet in finally finished (except for all the dust I need to vacuum), and now we just need to find a cabinet guy who isn't already in over his head with other projects, or even some nice pre-made lockers for this imagined mudroom space. We also moved the beds out of the little girls' room on Saturday ($50 for both AND the mattresses if you are local and interested!) and moved in a new set of bunk beds and a big bookcase. This created a lot more space as well as a better home for all the books and useless stuffed fluff they adore (which I have voluntarily purchased over the years for some dumb reason). Again, for all the space we have, the kids' bedrooms are fairly small. (We have large hallways. Seriously.) I then spent FOREVER "helping" them (did they do any of it?) dejunk their room, because these girls know junk. Oh. My. (Gotta love the gum and candy wrappers almost always hiding under Elizabeth's bed and pillow.) I also may have met with someone who took measurements of our main living space, as I intend to finally buy some real furniture. We have lived here for almost a year and a half now using the same furniture we had in our 50's and 60's boxes in both Iowa and L.A. Not only do we have lots of empty spaces, but what we do have is something special. My favorite is the tiny beat up Target desk with an even more beat up fake leather chair with stuffing coming out of it that sits in our beautiful executive office with hard wood ceilings and a fireplace. It's awesome. So you can see this will be a fun process to switch some of this stuff out. (Or totally uncomfortable as I pick out pillow covers while thinking about the starving children in Africa and China, or even people a little bit closer to home who are likewise struggling. You see what I'm up against? Why can't this just be fun for me?)

On Sunday, I was grateful (again) to belong to a church that is run by regular people who just volunteer the heck out of their lives (leadership included--no paid clergy), and that my family and I get to do a little bit of that volunteering. It's just good for the soul to volunteer your time to other people/a cause/something you believe in. I'm grateful I get to play the piano for the church choir--especially at this time of year when we are practicing gorgeous Christmas music. I also enjoy (sometimes) coordinating activities for the adult women in our congregation and spent some time working on the advertising arm of the whole process on Sunday. (This month we're going to be getting together with the teenage girls to make fairy wands for the children at the hospital where Brandon works, and maybe a foster care organization as well.) Will helped me for about a half an hour before church, cutting and stuffing the program with a little flyer thingy I made to advertise the activity. (Will really liked the commercial grade paper cutter. I'm grateful he didn't cut a finger off. That would be bad for cello playing.) His willing and helpful attitude was even more impressive since he had already spent an hour that morning at a planning meeting for the leadership of his age group followed by an hour going around to the homes in our neighborhood with Brandon to collect "fast offerings". (In our church, we fast for 24 hours one Sunday every month--usually after dinner on Saturday night until dinner on Sunday--and then we give the money that would have been spent on food to the church as a "fast offering" to be distributed to the poor and the needy. Most people give much more than the cost of food, and yes, this is in addition to the 10% tithing that is used to build churches and temples, produce teaching materials, Books of Mormon, etc. I'm afraid this is coming off as sounding self-righteous, but this is just totally commonplace church wide.) Elizabeth also went to a song practice for an upcoming musical number in church, Brandon taught Will's Sunday School class, and after our 3 hours of regular church (this gets better by the minute, doesn't it?), Kate and Will both went to different homes of people in our congregation where they had a "mini mission" experience of eating food from a different culture/learning about the culture (you can imagine how many people around here have been on missions and can host this kind of thing--we're doing Japan next year, for sure!) and then sharing a short lesson that they taught with a companion which both Kate and Will had prepared at some point earlier in the day (in between all the other stuff!). Needless to say, we were all kind of wiped by the end of the day . . . which is why I was SO grateful to spend a couple of hours on the couch that night reading my latest favorite book, Quiet, by Susan Cain. (I'm doing an upcoming segment on Studio 5 about extroverts raising introverts. I think it's a fascinating topic and the book--which is about introverts--is SO GOOD!)

And then there was today. (Well, yesterday, since I fell asleep while typing last night and am now wrapping this up during a fit of early morning insomnia.) Again, lots of stuff to be grateful for. I was grateful to remember and honor our Veterans by putting up American flags around our neighborhood at 5:30am with Will and a small handful of other boys his age and their dads. (Normally, Brandon would have done this, but he's been fighting off sickness since his horrific call weekend last week when he got really low on sleep, so I got mad at him when I found out he volunteered to do this on the one day he could sleep in and insisted I take his place.) This is a really cool tradition here in Utah on all the major patriotic holidays: Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, Presidents Day, 4th of July, etc. It's how the youth raise their money for their activities. Everyone makes a once a year donation for the service, and then the boys and girls take turns (yes, with the help of their parents) putting up and taking down the flags in the early morning/evening on those special days. Which is why Will and I were found getting doughnuts at the local grocery store at 6:30am. I haven't had doughnuts for breakfast in a LONG time, and let me say, it was dang good. I love doughnuts a little too much, so I try to avoid them like the plague. But not yesterday. Yesterday we honored our veterans by putting up those flags all over the neighborhood and then eating doughnuts for breakfast after.

I was also grateful yesterday for another day of stellar weather. So stellar that I took my favorite bike ride in stretchy pants and a t-shirt. GORGEOUS! I'm grateful for each day that I get to take another bike ride in the warm sunny sun. (Because I know what's coming.)

And I was grateful to end the day with a real, bonafide Family Home Evening (another very Mormony thing--we've been very Mormony the past few days). We sang, we prayed, we talked about Veterans Day, we listened to Kate and Will do re-caps of the lessons they taught their families the night before, we made and ate the ugliest, but tastiest carmel apples. (We should have stopped at the carmel. Things went awry when we tried to drizzle melted chocolate over the caramel and then cover them with purple sprinkles per Rachael's request.) It was like a poorly made church movie on how to do Family Home Evening right, with a little bit of wrong mixed in. I was happy I pulled it off, and yes, grateful.

Now that it's almost time to get up, it will be fun to see what this new day brings. When you're looking at your life through the lens of gratitude, it's hard to be disappointed.

Two of these are up for grabs for $50 total:

Will, the practicing missionary:

Our doughnut run (jammies under my coat and no make up):

Is that BACON on those maple doughnuts?

Oh, and I'm SO grateful for the cute little creatures in my life that keep me moving all. day. long. and bring me the kind of joy that can only come from little creatures. I mean, can you even look at this picture and not feel happy?


  1. Hi Allison! I am very interested in your girls beds!! I live 25 minutes west of Salt Lake. My husband works downtown. I'm not exactly sure where you live. Could you contact me asap? Thanks!! Heidi E.
    Email me at bnheskelson@hotmail dot com.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. How does Susan Cain define "introvert?" Gina read a review of the book and another article based on it, and she is now convinced that she herself is an introvert trapped inside the body of an extrovert. She bases this conclusion solely on the fact that she dislikes small talk at parties. I told her that I am not sure that makes you introverted.

    Do I have to read the book to find out? I was afraid you'd say that. Does it have a lot of pictures? I really only like picture books. Maybe Eric Carle wrote a version I can pick up?

    1. I also think I am an introvert trapped inside the body of an extrovert, so I feel Gina's pain. Brandon's office AND hospital party are on two consecutive nights in the beginning of December and I think I may have to take something to endure the small talk.


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