Lisa at JoyfulChaos is hosting a blog carnival of sorts each Thursday through the month of November where we are supposed to write 10 things that we are thankful for, and since I have had so many blessings one after another in the past few years, I thought I would join in on the fun. Especially since I have been sick the past two days, and need a fresh perspective on life.
Ten Things to be thankful for
1. My husband...
My charming, handsome, gentle, and incredibly strong husband. The joy of my life and my best friend. I know it must be hard to be the breadwinner in a single income family with 5 small children in this day and age. He gives his all at his job during the day, and when he comes home, he gives us even more. He cleans up the kitchen, bathes the kids, reads stories and puts them to bed each night, and since the twins have been born he has often done it all carrying a baby in an arm, or on his chest in a baby carrier. When I'm sick, he doesn't hesitate to hop on a bus and come home as fast as he can to take care of me, and when I'm tired, he let's me sleep in, and brings breakfast (and lunch if need be) on a tray up to my bed. He has the most adorable smile, the strongest arms, and the wisest eyes I have ever known. I will always be thankful he asked me to marry him 7 years ago.
2. My Children
How could one mom be so blessed to have been given five precious children before she turned 31? They are all in the cutest years too: six years old, 3 1/2, 18 months, and 2 babies 6 weeks old. They have taught me better than anything else to let go of my selfishness and grow in generosity. They love me, even when I'm grumpy and mean to them. They draw me wonderful pictures, and give me the bestest hugs you could ever get. Even my little H gives me kisses each day. I always have reason to smile when they are around.
3. My extended family
With the birth of the twins, I have never felt so loved or taken care of. Everyone has surrounded us with their love and generosity. So many people our age live apart from their parents and siblings, growing their careers in different cities... but we have found the secret to a happy life: stay close to your family. We are so blessed to live near so many of our loved ones: Mom, dad, grandma, my sister and her husband, sean's parents and his brother and wife... They all add such joy to our life and the lives of our children. I can't imagine being able to manage my life without their love and support.
4. Our wonderful friends
When sean and I first got married we didn't feel like we had lots of friends, or even that we fit in anywhere. Being converts to Catholicism, we were sort of alienated from many of our protestant friends, and lost a lot in common with them, and we didn't know anyone in the catholic church because we were so new. We prayed often that one day God would find us some good friends and boy has he ever delivered on that!!!
We have always kept up a beautiful friendship with two of my friends from junior high and their husbands, and to this day they are so much fun to be with.. Especially now that they have their own babies!! There is such a comfort in being with a girlfriend you have known since you were only 12 or 13 years old.
We have also been given a large community of friends through Church and the various apostolates we are involved in. When the twins were born we were overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone. We have been given so many diapers that 6 weeks later I still haven't bought a single one, and our two freezers are so full of meals that we have no room for anything else!! I have also had so many people offer to come and play with the kids, take them out, read with E to help her schoolwork along, pick up groceries for me, pray for us, and even clean my house for me. People I hardly even know have been helping us.
Friends add such a richness to my life. I only hope that I can be as good of a friend to others when they need me.
5. My faith
I'm not sure I would have been able to get through the shock of finding out we had twins, having them born the next day at home before the paramedics got here, having them in the hospital for 2 weeks, and having sean go back to work so soon leaving me home with 5 kids under six, without my faith.
Through my whole tiring pregnancy, and the craziness that came afterwards, I always had my faith to keep me strong, and hold me up. I have a tendency to become a real worrier, and my faith has allowed me to take one step at a time, not worrying about what is to come after the next step.
When I think of all the coincidences and timing of everything to do with this pregnancy and birth, I can clearly see that God was taking care of us. Firstly, we weren't even trying to get pregnant this time. We wanted more children eventually, but right then we were taking a little break, or so we thought... (of course we are always open to the gift of new life, and were so excited when we found out we were pregnant, but the very fact that we weren't trying to get pregnant makes the twins even more of a gift and blessing to us). Secondly, I was on an airplane from Kelowna a mere 30 hours before the boys were born!! In fact, 30 hours before they were born, I didn't even know I was having twins. Thirdly, because my labour was so short, if sean hadn't been home at the time, I would have likely had to deliver the babies myself with three kids running around. Now that would have been a good news headline!! Fourth, they were born at home like I wanted, without any interventions and excitement of doctors and nurses whisking them away asap. Fifth, they were born on the feast day of the twins St. Cosmas and Damian. Cool! Sixth, Peter, who is named after my dear grandpa Pete who passed away two years ago, was baptized on the anniversary of his death. What a beautiful way to redeem that day.
6. Baby Carriers
I love baby carriers.. slings, pouches, wraps, backpacks, mei tais... It's so fun to pick out beautiful carriers to buy on the internet, and to hunt for bargains in the secondhand baby stores, and there's nothing that beats the feeling of carrying a newborn close to your heart in a carrier while he sleeps. Not to mention, how would I ever get anything done around here without them? We don't have lots of baby contraptions like swings and vibrating what-nots that play music and twinkle and sparkle to keep babies entertained. We don't really have room for them, and I can't leave babies that exposed to the antics of my other kids anyways. Plus, I love the physical contact with my babies, and they love it too, I'm sure. What a great invention!
This has been such a blessing to our family. Firstly, on a practical level, I don't have to take my grade oner to school each day, bundling everyone up into the car in the morning and again in the afternoon. Secondly, the kids love being together, and I don't know what I'd do without my 6 year old's help during the day. Thirdly, I love learning alongside them, and watching them grow. It's such a joy to be with them all day each day.... oh, and it gives me great excuses to buy more books :-)
We spend a lot of time each day here immersed in books. Whether listening to books on tape, or reading at the dinner table, or at bed time and nap time, our family loves books. Nothing can stretch your mind and take you places you haven't ever been like a good book. They promote creativity, concentration and patience, and expand your vocabulary and knowledge. We have so many books, we are running out of book shelves, and I am sure that we have paid for a few extra shelves of books at the library in late fees by now :-) I am currently feeling a bit lost here because I have read all of the fiction in the house, and haven't had the time to find a new good book to read. When I have a bath, it feels so empty without a book in hand.
9. Debt free living
Oh the freedom of not having debt hanging over your head. I am so thankful that my husband has been strong enough to lead our family out of all debt (except our mortgage of course). We live simply, and within our means. We have a small house, and one car, and we have been blessed with the generosity of friends and family where we have needs we can't meet ourselves. It's funny, the more we try to simplify our home and cut back on buying material goods, the less we want the stuff we already have! It seems like every week I'm sending a bag full of stuff to donate to the goodwill, and when requested to make a Christmas list up, I struggle to think of anything that I could possibly want or need (besides a housecleaner and more frozen meals LOL).
10. TV free house
More freedom!! We have been without a TV for so long I can't even remember now... Probably 8 years now. This has been a huge help in number 9 above, because we don't see the commercials, and all the cool stuff that the reality TV show people have. We don't know about all the new gadgets, the latest styles, and the fancy cars that 'everyone' has because we don't watch it on TV.
Also, we have so much more time for reading books together as a family, for playing games, going for walks, talking, and my favorite... Sleeping. The kids are so creative in their play, and rarely get bored. They know how to entertain themselves without me having to organize everything for them, and they don't even know what the latest and greatest toys and breakfast cereals are. I think that the secret to the success and happiness of our family is the lack of television.