I keep wanting to write a post about what the kids are up to, but it hasn't happened. Really, for the last week or so, what we've been up to is keeping stacks of tissues handy, humidifiers filled, hands washed obsessively and ibuprofen at the ready in a valiant effort to keep the cold germs at bay. Somehow, I think they are just the first we'll be battling all winter long, what with O. bringing fresh batches from preschool twice a week.
I also just watched Alton Brown very methodically flatten a chicken carcass, rip a couple of bones out, and then wrap its legs up through its skin in a procedure that was both disgusting and awe inspiring. Again I say, the Food Network: compelling background noise, all day long. But see, I sit down to write, and something like this comes on, and how do you focus??
I am loving the Thanksgiving coverage this week, though I don't think I'll be changing much of our traditional menu when I host the family dinner this year. There will be thirteen people here for the day. My mom came over today and helped me clean and get ready, and I think we have the seating figured out, and have all the china and serving dishes out and ready. J. thought it was a bit much to have post-it notes in all the serving dishes labeling what dish will go in each, but whatever.
Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment and reflect on my own reasons for gratitude this season. O. had a chance to do that as "fun-work" last week. (Seems to me, if you're going to change the name of 'homework' maybe the 'work' would be the part of the word to change???)
He colored the turkey we were given, and then I was to write down the things he was thankful for. Of course, given his three year old attention span, this largely centered around the items in front of him on the table: the thanksgiving decorations we had just gotten out, his magnifying glass, and his crayons. I did a little prompting, and he agreed to add his sister to the list, came up with his Christmas train on his own, and then made a comment about his teachers. I added all of these to the turkey. Apparently, his comment about his teacher was not one of gratitude, because his report on the way home that day was: "But Mom, Mrs. J said my turkey said I am thankful for my teachers. And I am not. I did not say that. I said decorations, and my train, and my sister. Why did she say my turkey had that on it?" Great. Now the teacher thinks I'm a suck up. He really did mention the teachers.
Anyway, what would I put on my turkey? What am I thankful for? I think it goes without saying, that I'm most thankful for the health and happiness of my family, for my husband's job and our safe and sound home, and that I am able to stay at home with my children. I'm thankful that I married into a family that is only crazy in good and interesting ways, not scary ones. I'm thankful that my brother married an amazing woman this summer. I hope she thinks the family SHE married into is similarly crazy.
But again, those go without saying. I hope I spend a lot of my time showing my gratitude for all these big important things all year long. So here is a list of some totally frivolous things, that nevertheless make my life a little easier. For that I am thankful.
1. The DVR. Not only does this make it possible for me to avoid watching commercials, it also allows me to watch television with my husband. Since he travels so often, I can hoard shows I know he won't want to watch to view on my own, and save the ones that are on when he's not here for when he is.
2. Our grind and brew coffeemaker with the insulated carafe. It makes a delicious cup, and if there's any left after the morning routine, it stays hot well into the day. I would be utterly unthankful for this, given how difficult it is to clean, except J. takes care of it most nights.
3. NPR radio. Sometimes the only other adult voice I hear all day, and more often than not, it offers something delightfully random and intelligent for me to listen to. Often my only source of conversation topics outside of bodily functions or dinosaur traits.
4. The Kroger store on the corner less than a mile from my house. It is soon to celebrate its year anniversary in that location, and I would gladly worship the ghost of Barney Kroger or whoever chose to plow over that cornfield, for all the ways it makes my life easier. Now, if I could just get them to deliver, as I hear my cousin is able to get her grocery store to do, and might never leave the house again. Except, I do need to get out, so, I'm also grateful for:
5. The "Alligator Park" O's pet name for the park we frequent multiple times a week when the weather is decent. It has a great mix of equipment appropriate for both my children, and is in a pretty wooded setting without being scarily secluded. I wish it was a little closer to my house, but most days, I need to get out for the drive as much as anything.
6. Friday night dinner out. It's a standing plan that I don't cook on Fridays, and we rotate between a few family friendly restaurants in the area. Bonus, my children are relatively well behaved in restaurants. Now, if I could just start ordering a little bit healthier.
7. My latest chicken sautee recipe/strategy. I recently resuscitated this one from my bag of cooking tricks, after letting it lapse for I don't know what reason. It basically involves sauteeing chicken breasts in a little oil, then creating a sauce out of whatever liquid and other random items I have in my fridge. A little mustard, a little jelly, a little fruit, some herbs, lemon juice, wine, applesauce: you name it, if you think they'll go together, they go in the sauce. Reduce a little, and serve with rice or what have you. I've pulled quite a few good things out of nowhere with this method lately.
8. My kitchen desk. Yes, it is most days a spectacle of disorder and chaos, and it oftentimes makes me a little crazy. But it keeps my computer available multiple times a day, and all of the other things I need to keep this house running smoothly within arms reach. O's marble he insists on carrying around? Here, safely hidden out of reach of N. The estimate for the radon guy? Here. O's latest art to show whoever cares? Under that stuff, here. It's all there, somewhere, and I can usually find it if you give me a minute. Sadly, it all needs to go away for a day or so this week while I have company, and it will take me a while to rebuild geologic layers.
9. Entertainment Weekly magazine. My best shot at staying current on pop culture, or at least pretending I'm a little hip. The only reason to be excited about Saturday's mail.
10. Parmesan and Garlic Cheezits. I shouldn't be thankful for these, really. They are probably the prime culprit of the remaining baby weight, but boy, when that 9:30PM hunger comes around, boy do they hit the spot.
I'll stop there. How about you? What are the small things you're thankful for this year?