Growing At The Speed Of Light

Dear Cassidy,

A little over a month ago, you woke up and dressed for picture day at school. You wore the navy blue dress that I picked out with white tights and brown maryjane shoes. I chose the outfit because it was plain and understated, thinking that you would be the star of the picture. I also chose it because the outfit was age appropriate. It was a navy blue dress for a six year old… and you are six.

We took the time to fix your hair and you curls were looking perfect that morning. You left the house looking like my sweet little baby girl with gorgeous golden curls. Your gaped toothed grin and awkward stance as we waited for your bus proved your little girl look. You had a sense of innocence and cuteness that would be expected for a six year old girl.

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That day came and went and I couldn’t wait to see what your pictures turned out like. I had to order them ahead of time without seeing the final result so I was nervous. Not that you would look bad, but that maybe you wouldn’t be smiling or that you just would have the look on your face that said you didn’t want your picture taken at all. That was the look that was present on previous photos so it wasn’t that I was worrying needlessly.

At any rate your pictures came back finally, and I have to say how upset I am over them. I was certain that the little girl that I sent off to school that morning was you. I was certain that the little girl that I sent off was cute with her little curls. She was sweet with her innocent and gaped tooth grin. That little girl that I sent off to get her picture taken was not the same girl from this photo.

The photo that I received is certainly some other girl and most definitely not a little one.  The pictures that came home with you were of a girl far more mature looking. Maybe a ten or twelve year old. The girl that was in those pictures was not my little baby bear. Clearly there has been a switch!

I stare at the pictures and I think about the very first time I looked at you. I think about the moment that I held you in my arms and looked into your huge sparkling eyes. As I looked at the picture I remembered you falling asleep on my chest as an infant. I remembered your bobble head as you sat up for the first few times. I remember your tiny little body sitting in a huge highchair that could have swallowed you up, for the first time that you ate food.

I kept looking at that school picture and I kept recalling all the moments of your life that have led up to now. This much older looking girl is not you. It can’t be. I’m sure it is not. A switch must have happened. This girl is quite beautiful and poised and there is a sparkle in her eye, but she is just much too old to be you, my baby girl.

The more I stare at the printed 8×10, the more I can’t believe how much you have grown up. I can see you standing in front of your preschool for you very first day. I can see you at home playing with barbies and build a bears and I wonder how you could have grown up so much.

This picture is you. This picture is a preview to the pictures that I have to come for the next eleven years and I am not so sure that I am ready. No doubt that the girl in this picture is gorgeous, but she is just so grown up. She has a magical sort of look about her that I just hadn’t noticed when I sent you off that morning.

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This picture is beautiful. I can see your sparkling eyes now. I can see your golden curls. I can see your grin, only nothing about what I see now is the same as what I saw when I sent you off. I’d say that since I have come to realize that this picture is in fact you, I have looked at you a bit differently in general. You are growing up. You just don’t look like my baby bear any more.

I know that you are still my baby. I realize that you are still my little girl, but lately I am not taking for granted the joys of you being six. You asked me the other day if you could lay down with me and take a nap. I said yes and I cherished every minute. I waited until you fell asleep before I would shut my eyes. I watched as your eye lids closed and then I stared at you a little bit longer.

How many more naps will I have with you? How many more times will you even ask? You are growing so darn quick and before I blink, I will have another school picture to shock me. I love you so much that it hurts sometimes. Watching you grow up is painful. It is rewarding and wonderful but so painful. Someday when you have your own  babies, you will know just what I mean. Until then, I am just going to keep enjoying our moments together and I am going try and enjoy watching you grow up right before my eyes.

Love, Momma

 

A Year Of Thanks And Blessings

Dear World,

As I am sure that those of you on facebook know, this month everyone is counting their blessings. Each day people, including myself, are listing for the facebook world to see, all the things that they are thankful for. I figure any excuse to say thank you is a good one so I am happy to participate. However, I have seen a few snarky comments about the whole thing.

I guess it isn’t for everyone but one of the comments got me thinking. It was something to the effect of “sick of reading all the things people are thankful for this month, when the eleven other months all they do is complain.” It’s not word for word but you get the idea. Well so did I! It couldn’t be more true. The fact that we are thankful any day is great, but the truth is that we should be thankful everyday. There is always something that is worthy of praise even on the days that are filled with the most clouds.

So I got to thinking that maybe a month of thanks is not enough. How about a year. Each day I am going to add another person, place or thing that I am thankful for. I am going to spend the next year of my life counting my blessings and sharing them with you.

Some of you may find it irritating after the first couple of posts and that is ok. I clearly can’t force anyone to read my posts. But my hope is that even  one person would read each post and realize that there are reasons to feel blessed even when things seem dismal. I am a human being that struggles in life daily just like the rest of you. I have ups and downs and moments of insanity that push me to my breaking point and beyond. No matter how full my plate is and how crazy my day, I can still look around and find something to be thankful for. Every. Day. Without. Exception.

I pray that someone in need may read this and suddenly be able to open their eyes and have a different perspective on things. I pray that I may read this and spend a year counting my blessings to gain a true understanding for how wonderful my life is. I pray that each day the blessings become easier and easier to see and my eyes and heart would be open to see things that I didn’t before.

Since I started counting my blessings on November first with the rest of facebook, I am going to just recap those. Then each day I will add another one here. Feel free to check it out daily, weekly or at the end of the year if you want some heavy reading. Either way, I encourage you to count along with me, even if it’s just in your heart.

1. I am thankful for my faith. It is my strength when I am weak. It is the sanity when I am crazy and the hope when I am hopeless. My faith means everything to me and some are without any faith. I am grateful, thankful and truly blessed to have an amazing God that I believe in.

2. I am thankful for my children. They keep me young. They make me old and they make me smile and laugh in between. These two kids are exhausting and they stress me more than I care to be stressed. They bend me almost to the point of breaking on most days. Each night when I check on their sleeping little eyes, I tear up with all the joy and love that they have brought into my life.

3. I am thankful for my husband. He is my up, when I am down. My happy, when I am sad and my everything when I am nothing. Our marriage is work. It is hard work some days, easy on others and sometimes it all just falls into place without the blink of an eye. Every day is a journey together and I am grateful to have the most amazing friend to travel it with.

4. I am thankful that Brian and I have jobs in a time when money and jobs are scarce. We may not love what we do but at least we are doing. I am fairly certain that we would both prefer the job title millionaire to our current titles but none the less we are so fortunate to have the jobs that we do. We may complain from time to time but at the end of the day, or at least on payday, we are thankful to have a place to work.

5. I am thankful that my kids, as well as Brian and I, have health care coverage. I think this is something that many of us take for granted, but there are people out there that do not have the luxury of seeing a doctor when needed. Certain things are luxuries and a doctor visit should not be one of them. I am so grateful that we can care for our family and see a doctor when we need.

6. I am thankful for the noise that fills my house. The running, screaming, laughing, crying noise that means my kids live a full and happy life. The sound of there beds squeak as the jump into them and the giggles that follow make my day. No lies, sometimes I beg for peace and quiet but overall I couldn’t be without the sounds that these two make. The good, the bad and the ugly sounds; I am thankful for them all.

7. I am thankful to have a husband who tells me how much he appreciates me. He may not always show it, but hearing him say it is worth everything. I came home tired and blah from working and he put his arm around me and rubbed my neck. He thanked me for all that I do at home and away from home. Just what I needed! I am so thankful to have the husband that I do.

8. I am thankful for a game of hide and seek with my kids. There is nothing better than all four of us playing a game together. Laughing and being silly together is what makes me really appreciate all that I have. Perfect night!

9. I am thankful for the change in seasons. I love summer but couldn’t do it all year long. Seeing the leaves fall and the beautiful colors around me is incredible. Playing in the leaves with the kids is even better.

10. I am thankful for all of the men and women who have served this country. They do a selfless job that I could not do and I am grateful for them. They have the strength to fight for those of us that do not. I admire them all, and I am thankful for each one of them.

11. I am thankful to live in a country that enjoys the freedoms that we do. We are  so blessed to enjoy the freedoms of education, religion, and speech just to name a few. Many of us take for granted all of these freedoms and don’t realize the price that was paid for them.

12. I am thankful for bed time songs. Singing to my babies before bed is the best part of every day.

13. I am thankful that I am able to care an cuddle my sick little boy. I hate to see him sick but I cherish the moments that I spend holding him and feeling how much he needs me.

14. I am thankful for goodnight kisses. Every night that I get to tuck my babies in is a blessing.

15. I am thankful for my family. I have grown to be the person that I am today as a result of the lessons I’ve learned from my family. The good, the bad and everything in between has made me me.

16. I am thankful for creepy alone time. This is a term Brian and I use for when either one of us is at home by ourselves. For me, it is a great chance to catch up on a million different things.

17. I am thankful for my in laws. I married Brian and gained an entire addition to my family that I couldn’t live without. I love each one like my own blood and I am blessed to have them.

18. I am thankful for my sister. She’s a pain in my butt most of the time and she drives me crazy, but no one knows me better and could be a better friend.

19. I’m thankful for forgiveness. It’s an art that is hard to master but we all deserve it and I try to practice it.

20. I’m thankful for snowflakes. Each one unique just like each of us. Looking at them up close is magical and seeing the blanket that they weave together is amazing.

21. I’m thankful for exhaustion. It means that I have lived today!

22. I am thankful for the tests that God gives me. Sometimes I pass, sometimes I fail… But there is always a lesson learned.

23. I’m thankful for my voice. Until you loose something it is hard to really appreciate it. I appreciate my voice!

24. I’m thankful for my church. I always feel so full of love and hope when I walk out of those doors on Sunday! It may not take long for the feeling to wear off sometimes but I can always go back for a refill next Sunday.

25. I’m thankful for quality time spent with each of my kids. Simply lying down for a nap with Cassidy means more to me than the world. Holding Jacob before bed and singing to him is what it’s all about!

26. I’m thankful for the look on my kids faces when they see snow covering the ground in the morning. Their excitement makes me feel young too!

27. I am thankful for my ability to cook well. I feel like I can really express my love for others through cooking. Thanksgiving is a great day for me to show my love.

28. I am thankful for my family and friends that joined our table for a feast today, as well as the ones that couldn’t make it. It was tight, but love filled the room and our hearts. I am grateful for so many things but these people are really what is matters most in my life. Happy Thanksgiving!

29. I am thankful to have plenty of food to eat and to serve my family. I think of those that have barely crumbs and I realize how incredible that it is that my children don’t go to bed with growling stomachs.

30. I am thankful for change. I love that life changes often without warning. I have been turned upside down so many times that I don’t even know what is up anymore. I still encourage and embrace the changes because they are all a lesson in disguise.

31. I am thankful for the giggles. The snickering when they say a funny word, usually a “potty” word. It just makes me giggle inside when I hear my kids with that honest and untainted giggle.

32. I am thankful for another month that has come and gone. Time really flies so fast anymore. I feel like I am busier each day, but the fact that time is moving means that I am living. That’s what it’s all about!

33. I am thankful for the sparkle in Brian’s eyes when he looks at me. I am far from perfect, but he looks at me like I am.

34. I am thankful for quiet time in the car. I drive to work and really enjoy the time alone to clear my thoughts and plan my days.

35. I am thankful for conversations with family that I don’t have often. It’s so wonderful to speak with a loved one that I haven’t had the chance to really enjoy in a while.

36. I am thankful for my coat. Some people do not have winter coats. I pull mine out as soon as the temperature hits the forties. It is something that most of us don’t think about, but if I didn’t have one, I’d never stop thinking of it.

37. I am thankful to have my family. Time and again they prove to be the one thing that moves me through each day.

38. I am thankful for my positive outlook… Most of the time. I can usually make something out of nothing and it comes in handy when you have a whole lot of nothing sometimes.

39. I am thankful for the person I’ve become. I’m proud of who I am.

40. I am thankful for the passion I see in others. It inspires me to find a passion of my own.

41. I am thankful for chance encounters. Seeing someone that I haven’t in a long time. It really brings me back to a simpler time in my life.

42. I am thankful for the balance that Brian is for me. I’m up and he’s down. He’s up and I’m down. Either way we compliment each other and make life work together.

43. I’m thankful for the laughter that comes about with friends. The kind that hurts your belly when you are done.

44. I am thankful for the differences that we all have. It keeps us on our toes.

45. I am thankful for my bed. Some days it’s really all that I need.

46. I am thankful to take a shower without interruption.

47. I am thankful for the knock on the door when I’m showering. The sweet face that enters is always a warmth in my heart, even though I no longer know what privacy is.

48. I’m thankful for change. Any change really. It always invigorates my soul and charges me up to create something new. Change is wonderful for my creative soul.

49. I am thankful to meet new people. I’m not good at meeting new people but I feel like the practice is useful.

50. I am thankful for the days that I get to go to bed happy.

51. I am thankful for the memories that I’ve made and the ones still in the making.

52. I’m thankful for my God. I am weak and I appreciate the strength when I need it most.

53. I am thankful for hope. It is sometimes the only reason to move forward.

54. I’m thankful for Brian’s perspective. No one makes me see things in a new light, like Brian.

55. I am thankful for board games with my kids. It’s just so much fun!

56. I am thankful to be a support for my family when they need me. I think I’m pretty strong and if I can carry some of their burden than I surely will.

57. I am thankful for the quiet drives to work. It’s a time to process and organize my thoughts.

58. I am thankful for people in the grocery store that shop with a smile. There are way too many grouches out there.

59. I am thankful for Cassidy’s art work. As I organized some of it the other day, I noticed how many pieces say “I love Mom”. It actually made me tear up.

60. I am thankful for Jacob’s facial expressions. Every one of his animations make me smile!

61. I am thankful to be trying new things to get our family more healthy. We are changing our diets and it is scary and exciting all in the same.

62. I am thankful for any day that my kids sleep past 7:15.

63. I am thankful for heat. Some people don’t have it and it’s unimaginable to me.tonight I’m not taking heat for granted!

Can’t wait to see what I can be thankful for tomorrow!

Love, Cherise