So I'm a little late on the "thankful" posts, but better late than never, right?
I have an abundance of things to be thankful for in my life so I've tried to narrow it down just a bit to the biggest and most important.
First and foremost are my parents and the unconditional love they not only show me but my daughter as well. I could write an entire post full of stories of their kindness, compassion, sympathy and dedication that they have shown to me in my lifetime but I don't have the time nor the Kleenex. Some people in my past might have called my upbringing pretty "Leave it to Beaver" because my childhood was stable, secure and full of love and laughter. I always knew there would be food on the table and seated at that table would be people who were looking out for my best interests. I felt safe, cared for and cherished. My parents also stressed the fact that without the deep love they have for each other....none of the rest of our family would have been possible. They provided a wonderful model for a Christian marriage - God first, spouse second and children third.
Granddaddy holding his only granddaughter for the very first time.
Nonna and her granddaughter.
The three generations of women.
And without their model of how men and women should treat one another within a relationship, I never would have been able to recognize what I could have and build with this man.
We have really seemed to hit a stride this fall - life has been crazy with all the insane STUFF we've dealt with but we are solid. We are good. We have somehow managed to find a great balance of the marriage-family-work-personal thing and we are just chugging along. He is by far my best friend which is why I knew I needed to marry him in the first place.
And without him and the life we built together, I wouldn't have this little munchkin.
Oh my dear, sweet little girl. She truly is a joy in my life from her giggles to her love for baby dolls and even to her determined nature. I am enjoying getting to know and understand this darling daughter of mine and even on the days when "NO!" is her favorite word, she is still a blessing in my life.
Our family portrait taken when Natalie was fourteen months old.
I have known these two ladies, Heather and Amy since we were all in grade school together. Our friendship over the past twenty (eek! TWENTY) years has seen it's fair share of heartbreak, catastrophes, anguish, joy, celebration and tragedy. We have attended each other's weddings, birthday parties and baby showers but we also have mourned the loss of a father and held vigil after the overdose of a brother. The three of us are an interesting mix of bubbling creativity, organized realism and take-charge intelligence.
They are MY Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
And this lady named Kate and I have literally known each other since we were born. Our mothers met in a Bible study and then taught pre-school together as well. All our childhood photos involve one another - me as the tall and serious brunette and she the petite and lively redhead. And now there is a second generation of friends Natalie is ten months older than baby Audrey. Kate and I have shared the woes and joys of motherhood, marriage and dealing with in-laws over margaritas and Mexican food. I am thankful that I truly have her in my life because she gives great advice and always with a needed dose of humor and sarcasm.
And then THIS happened with Amy. Because it's really not a kid's birthday party without a belly & duck face photo.
My dear, sweet Angelina Marie. This is one of my most favorite pictures of her because it shows the intensity of her eyes. Angie is such an interesting dog and certainly not one with mass appeal, but she is my girl and my comfort. I'm going to sound like one of those crazy dog people (which I probably am) but she and I have a certain understanding and we really share a wonderful bond.
And here is Mr. Ajax. I'm thankful that this guy ventured into our lives almost one year ago in January. He is Craig's buddy and is almost always willing to put up with Natalie's shenanigans. Like this morning....he dutifully sat in bed with her as she "read" him the stories and showed him pictures from her books. He is gentle, sweet, peaceful and loyal. And a good antidote for Angie's attitude.
In my life, I have been very blessed with the amount of travelling I've done. I've been places, I've seen things and I've gotten a good antidote for the ethnocentrism that seems to exist here in the United States. I know how lucky and privileged I am to live in a country where I have freedom, safety and independence from tyranny. But I also have visited countries where they are equally as proud (and rightfully so) of their heritage, history and culture.
Travelling has given me great perspective.
And very good stories to tell when I am older.
June 2007: Sipping on summer beer in Munich.
August 2010: Standing in front of the Trevi fountain in Rome.
June 2007: Walking along the remnants of the Berlin Wall.
March 2006: My parents in the square of St. Marks in Venice, Italy.
August 2010: The kick-off concert of the European leg of the U2 tour.
March 2006: Standing under the plaque in room of the Vatican Museum that is dedicated to my great-grandmother.
March 2006: The island of Capri, Italy where my mother and grandmother spent their summers.
My life and my heart are full of love for good people, memories of good times, and lot of hope for the future.