Saturday, September 6, 2014

With gratitude

So after all the ice buckets, it seems like the next big thing on Facebook is to challenge friends to do a little "count your blessings" exercise, listing 3 things for which you're thankful everyday for 5 days.  When I was challenged, I felt a little awkward about posting it on Facebook, but it somehow feels different to do it here (you all knew this site was going to be very Emily-centric when you clicked on over, but you didn't necessarily bargain for that in your newsfeed).  I'm going to morph the rules a bit and write a gratitude post of 15 things, rather than 5 different Facebook updates.

Incidentally, I was having a rough morning when I decided that I should do this.  It was one of those days when I seemed to wake up with less energy than I went to sleep with, and I couldn't help but look down at my ticking time-bomb of a belly and wonder how in the world I'd ever get things settled before the baby makes her arrival.  (Side note, I was further progressed at my 36 week check-up yesterday than I was at 39 weeks with Anna.  This probably doesn't mean anything besides this isn't my first baby....but the knowledge that I'm already beginning to move towards delivery isn't exactly comforting when absolutely nothing is ready!)

Anyway, I thought about the challenge, and started to wonder if I would participate by listing my blessings.  This was before I decided to do a blog post, so it was mostly a thought experiment since I felt awkward about the whole Facebook thing.  I thought of a thing or two, and suddenly I had a flood of ideas.  And with the ideas, true gratitude and a brand-new wave of energy and enthusiasm.  It was such a cliche moment, but I started to realize that all of the things that were stressing me out were minor side effects to major blessings - blessings that many people would love to have.

We can all check the news and give a sort of superficial "oh, I'm so thankful for my nice life" but until you actually make yourself stop and think - but for the grace of God, there am I - it's hard to acknowledge that we COULD be the ones stranded on a mountain and being persecuted, or the ones dying of incurable diseases, or the ones struggling to decide between payments life-saving drugs or food for the family.

There are obviously so many more blessings in my life than could fit in a 15-point list.  Some of the things (ice cream, Emily, really?) are not nearly as important as others that I left out (not being persecuted, for one), but this isn't an exhaustive list, nor is the order particularly relevant.  But one thing's for sure - it's all things I'm very glad I have, and the big - and little - joys in life that, when I remember to keep them in perspective, really turn a bad day around.


That I have thus far been able to conceive, carry, and deliver healthy babies.  I know that the minor discomforts of pregnancy are nothing compared to the crosses of infertility and miscarriage, crosses that so many people have to carry.


As I strive to create a comfortable and loving home, I recognize all the more what an incredible blessing it was to grow up in a home that was exactly that.  Unlike so many of our peers, my siblings and I never had to wonder if my parents loved each other or us.  And my parents are still amazing and will do things like drive 5 hours each way to spend the entire weekend running a carpet cleaner and carrying things up 2 flights of stairs.


This incredible man deserves a bullet point all of his own, but I also couldn't help but reflect on the amazing blessing of marriage in general.  Justin and I will often note how thankful we are - both that we don't have to go to the trouble of searching for someone, but also to have the security of each other's love and the knowledge that, come what may, we will be have someone by our side to weather those storms.  After discovering Marie Miller's song "6'2" in quick take posts last week, I can't stop listening to it.  It touches me with a haunting remembrance of the time of longing and of uncertainty, of wondering if my wonderful prince charming would ever come along.  (Spoiler alert, he did).


Justin often jokes that I'm solar-powered, and I am definitely very affected by the presence (or lack thereof) of sunlight.  I'm thankful for the glorious windows in this house, including a 2-story wall of windows in the living room, and this beautiful patch of sun where Anna and I get to eat lunch and watch our birdie friends dine outside.

(bonus picture - Justin would sometimes take me to the growth chamber in his lab at Cornell, which was basically a big, wonderful box of sunlight intended primarily for growing plants but also very effective for wife mood improvement on grumpy winter days)


This is one of my favorite pictures, ever.

Sometimes I just stop and reflect on how many amazing people who have come into our lives over the years.  We have some incredible family and friends, spanning childhood, high school, college, career, Ithaca, etc.  I've had the moments where I stop and think - "wow, these people really want to spend time with ME?!"  


Sheen love story

It's hard to fathom the blessing that Jesus Christ is present - body, blood, soul, and divinity - to us in the Eucharist.  And, what a comfort to know that in every Catholic Church in the world, a little red candle burns, reminding us that there He waits in the Tabernacle.  Our new parish is right at the end of the road into our neighborhood, and so I pass it every time I drive anywhere, and I find just driving by Him to be a blessing.

(Photo from my incredible friend (see #5) Meg's site - go here to read her awesome reflections on the Eucharist, all of which have helped me to grow in my understanding and appreciation of this gift!)


Yesterday, both Anna and I had check-ups at the "dod-dors off-ice" and it reminded me how thankful I am that we have access to quality healthcare, and that we have been able to find pediatricians and OB-GYNs both here and in Ithaca that we really like.


It's been a joy to see Justin embark on a job that he loves and one where he absolutely excels.  (He'll tell you he's still just figuring out how this whole professor thing works, but I can tell that this is truly his vocation and that his gifts are perfectly aligned in this position.)  

Side note - he does not regularly drink champagne in the classroom, but this picture (from his PhD defense) is the only relevant picture I have.  Second side note / secondary benefit - I do not complain about how handsome he looks everyday all dressed up for work :)



My thoughts exactly, Anna.


(Of the thousands of hours I've logged, apparently this is the only photographic proof of me having ever used a computer)
It can be a distraction and a temptation to waste time, but more often than not I'm grateful for the Internet and all it does to keep me connected to family and friends - and even new friends.  Skype lessens the blow of Anna being hours away from her grandparents, and seeing even quick status updates from friends across the country makes it feel like they're not thousands of miles away.


Pictured here: my new Eucharistic devotion medal (#6) that I ordered from Etsy (#11) with the gift card that the lovely ladies  (#5) from our mom's group in Ithaca gave me as a going away present.

The ability to buy everything we need (and most of the things we want).  After a grocery trip, I'm amazed by the bounty of opening the refrigerator.  And with pregnancy + toddler + economically depressed town, I've become (more) dependent on online shopping - thank you, Amazon...and sorry, Mr. Postman.


It is so amazing to watch Anna learn and develop.  In the last month, her verbal abilities have just exploded, and having a window into her little brain has been so much fun.  She was SO excited about her second birthday this week, and it was fun to be able to celebrate with her and know that she understood what was happening (I still hear her wishing herself "Happy Birfday, Anna!" from her crib as she falls asleep at night).  Hearing her count to ten for the first time was an incredible moment.  I'm thankful both for her development, and for having a front-row seat to watch it all.


We might not have everything set-up yet, but we've already reaped a lot of benefits from the house where we're staying for this year (like this beautiful view from the front porch).  I feel like I'm living in the lap of luxury with a garage, a garbage disposal, and a master bathroom.  We might be spoiled after this year!


I have to admit that I'm easily annoyed (at least internally) by people who are (by choice rather than health) extremely picky eaters.  I'm thankful that - first of all - none of us have any food allergies, but also that Justin (and, for the most part, Anna) is an adventurous eater who honestly enjoys everything, including fish, vegetables, beans, meat, salad, etc.  It makes certainly makes cooking healthy meals a lot easier (and more fun).

(Back story about that photo - it was from the first time I made dinner (granted, it was just frozen chicken fillets and steamed broccoli with some reheated potato casserole that someone had generously brought to us) after Anna was born, and I absolutely felt on top of the world).


My creative hobbies - from sewing to home renovation - bring me a lot of enjoyment, have saved us money on things like curtains and decor (savings probably negated by my extensive stash of unfinished projects), and have resulted in a lot of neat finished products for ourselves and for gifts.  I'm grateful that my mom passed along the interest and the know-how of working with my hands.

Bonus gratitude: my awesome mother-in-law is currently visiting, so Anna will have grandma time tomorrow morning while exhausted mama and daddy sleep in and I don't have to feel guilty about how long this post took me to write and how late I (accidentally) just stayed up!


I guess part of this thing is that I'm also supposed to nominate some people to count their blessings.  It honestly was a really worthwhile use of my time and gave me a much needed "attitude adjustment."  So - I encourage everyone to take some time and do it.  Any one else want to write a post?  My blog-friends in similarly crazy stages in life (when - I know - it's easier to lose track of this big picture)?  Mandy?  Ellen?  Rosie?  Rachel?

P.S. Thanks, Maria, for the challenge :)


  1. I accept and raise the challenge! I shall put a gratitude list on my work blog. Thanks for another peek into your world. Miss you all!

  2. Emily, this post made me tear up and also laugh out loud (Anna with the ice cream bowl = pure gold!). I did the Facebook gratitude challenge last week and felt as if it really did readjust my attitude most days. I thought about nominating you because I knew you would have GREAT items, but feared you might be too busy for it at the moment. Sending you a shot of my new-found second trimester energy :)

  3. This was great. I'm grateful for my good eaters as well, but my waistline probably isn't ;) and is it weird that I that I know kinda where you are in town based on your picture and description of how close you are to church?