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Thankful Thursdays #68: quotes

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Although I mostly use Pinterest as a place to collect online recipes I want to try, I also run across quotes and food for thought while browsing pins, and I wanted to share the ones I’ve found that are centered around gratitude. I hope you enjoy these, I found them all very inspiring, encouraging, motivating, and uplifting!

And here’s a video bonus, a song called “Thankful,” sung by perhaps my most favorite male vocalist, Josh Groban. It is a powerful, inspiring song, with a powerful voice behind it.

Thankful Thursdays #66: modern medicine

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My appreciation for modern medicine is surely shared by many.  I’m sure most everyone alive has been thankful for it at some point in their lives, those that have survived cancer and life-threatening injuries probably more than we will ever know.  Personally, I depend on it daily to survive and that constant reminder when I take my pills and my insulin makes me continually thankful.

Without modern medicine, I would have died before my 21st birthday.

I was diagnosed with Graves disease, a thyroid disease, when I was 19.  This is a hyperthyroid disease (which means faster metabolism, faster heartbeat, etc.-my resting heart rate was 140 beats per minute) and has the fun bonus symptoms of a goiter and bulging eyes.  Being young and reckless, I thought I knew better than my doctor and decided that rather than take the pills he gave me or take radioactive iodine to kill my overactive thyroid, I would try natural remedies and cure myself that way.  Unfortunately in my case, I really needed an aggressive treatment to nip the disease in the bud, and while I was able to significantly improve my bulging eyes through chiropracty, bringing them back to the state you see them today, my disease was too progressed to be taken care of quickly enough with natural cures.

I clearly had a goiter on my wedding day, but I wouldn't be diagnosed with Graves Disease for another three months.

I let it go on for a year after my diagnosis.  Then I started getting new symptoms.  I would get strange floaters in my vision that became larger and larger as weeks passed, until I wouldn’t be able to see at all for 30 minutes to an hour after I ate.  I was thirsty all the time and had to pee all the time.  This too progressed until I kept the largest size cup that Quik Trip offered at my desk and drank one filled with water every half hour, and literally peed every five to ten minutes. I became weaker and weaker, and I remember going to buffets and Dennis having to get my plates of food for me because I couldn’t get up.  I made a point never to squat or sit down on the floor because I wouldn’t have the strength to get back up.  Eventually I couldn’t muster enough energy to even leave our apartment and I stopped going to work.  When I did leave, Dennis had to carry me out to the truck.  Despite eating tons of fattening food, I lost 30 pounds in 3 months.

Some people thought I held my eyes unnaturally wide, but this was my relaxed look. My eyes were so distended that when I blinked, one of them didn't fully close. You can also see the goiter on my neck is much more pronounced.

Dennis was worried I had diabetes but I refused to accept this.  I knew it was just my Graves Disease getting worse, so I finally broke down and scheduled my date with the radioactive iodine pill.  I hated the idea of taking a pill to replace my thyroid hormone for the rest of my life, but now that prospect seemed so much better than what I was living through.

By the time this picture was taken, my eyes had gone back into place thanks to months of chiropracty, but you can see how unhealthy I still look. My hair and eyebrows were thinning and I was losing weight. My bathing suit was hanging off me and my arms have never been this thin in my adult life, before or after.

Dennis had to roll me into the hospital in a wheelchair because I didn’t have the strength to walk.  Simply standing and moving from the wheelchair into the doctor’s chair caused me to pant with exertion.  The nurse who was only there to do some preliminary stuff caught a whiff of my breath and said it smelled like acetone, which she was familiar with because her Mom was diabetic.  She checked my blood sugar and it was 697.  I hadn’t eaten anything that morning so that was my fasting blood sugar.  I can’t imagine how high it had been after meals.

I found out later that thyroid disease will eventually affect every organ in your body if left untreated, and that’s why my pancreas shut down.  Because I didn’t want to utilize a cure for it that would leave me taking a pill for the rest of my life, I ended up causing myself another disease which requires four shots a day minimum.

So what was supposed to be just a quick swallowing of a pill turned into a week-long hospital stay while they brought my blood sugar into a normal range, replenished my electrolytes and taught me how to manage my disease, including the hardest part–injecting insulin.  I nearly passed out before I got the gumption to stick that first needle into myself!  Thank God my Mom was there with me, or I never would have been able to do it.  We agreed to do it together on the count of three (hers was filled with saline solution) and that’s the only reason I was able to finally stick the needle in my stomach.  After that, it was much easier.

This photo was taken five years after the last one. Happy and healthy again!

I know the normal reaction to discovering you have a disease is shock, denial, and “why me?” but all I felt was THANKFUL.  While I’d been outraged when Dennis suggested I had diabetes, I had been through such hell before the official diagnosis that all I felt when I got it was relief.  I’d already went through the shock, denial, and “why me?” when I was diagnosed with Graves Disease.  But when I went into the hospital that day, I was at death’s door and a part of me knew it.  When I found out there was an explanation for it, and that it could be managed with modern medicine, I was happy.  Seriously happy.  Overjoyed.  Every day I was in the hospital, I felt better and better, was able to start taking walks, and it was like I was really living again.  I was so thankful for modern medicine because I knew it had saved my life, despite my ignorance that had nearly snuffed it out.  Modern medicine gave my life back.

That same thankfulness that was overflowing in my heart while I was in the hospital is still with me today.  Because of it, I’ve never dealt with the regrets of diabetes.  It has never felt like a burden to me.  Sure, there have been times when I’ve wished I could just go on vacation without having to tote enough medicine to allow me to live through it.  Sure, I’ve wished I could just eat a piece of chocolate cake without calculating how much insulin I’ll need to take to cover it.  Sure, had terrifying experiences with low blood sugar that brought me closer to death than I’m comfortable with.  But those thoughts are few and far between.  Mostly when I think of my diabetes, I still feel that same thankfulness that I have something that can be managed with modern medicine.  This wasn’t always true, and even when insulin finally began to be used, it was a terrible and painful process to administer it (in earlier times, they used reusable huge glass syringes that they boiled after using!!) and there was no way to monitor blood sugar so there was much more room for error.

So now you know why I have such incredible gratitude for modern medicine.  Despite my pancreas not working, which is something required for my survival, I’m still able to live simply because of the time I live in.  Thank God for modern medicine.

In what ways have you been/are you thankful for modern medicine?  How has it impacted you personally?

Thankful Thursdays #63: Friends part 2, Memories

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I hid behind the refrigerator with my friends at a neighbor’s house, waiting to scare the neighbor’s Mom, who was coming through the door.  Unable to hold in my giggles, I ruined it by drawing the others to giggles and soon I was laughing so hard that I peed my pants, causing the others to laugh even harder while the Mom stared at us in bewilderment.

My third grade crush insulted me in front of the whole class, but I held in my tears until it was recess time. My friends surrounded me and hid me from view, ready and willing with hugs that soon mended my broken little heart.

My best friend and I stayed up late, playing MASH, and giggling.  We were so afraid of anyone finding out our secret desires of who we wanted to marry that we tore each paper up after it was filled, and flushed them down the toilet.

It was our first middle school dance and we were so excited.  I met my friends at the dance and not long after I arrived, wearing my tiny mother’s dress that was way too adult for me, I proceeded to rip the seam up the back almost to my butt while doing the running man (as a joke).  My friends stayed around me in a circle the whole night so no one would see.

It was the night before a big test.  I met my best friend at her house and we quizzed one another relentlessly and every time I missed a question, she thought of a way to help me remember the answer.

We sat on the kitchen floor of a friend’s house in a circle, eating cookies and telling each other funny stories.  “OK, don’t make me laugh,” I warned them.  “I’m going to get up because I have to pee.  Don’t. Make. Me. Laugh.”  As soon as I stood up, one burst into giggles and the rest followed suit.  I crossed my legs as tight as I could while I squealed with laughter, but it was no use.  I peed all over the floor and my friend’s Dad came running just in time to witness the glorious event.

Swimming at El Dorado Lake, the wind caught my inner tube and, wanting to show off to the surrounding boys, I quickly took off after the float.  Not realizing how far I might have to swim, I started to panic as I reached the halfway point, trying to float on my back to avoid drowning as I sputtered and gasped for air.  Suddenly, my best friend was beside me and gave me her float before swimming after the runaway float.  She probably saved my life!

We walked in the procession to pomp and circumstance, eager, excited, and sad.  Would this be the end of our friendship?  Would our separate journeys as adults divide us?  What did the future hold?

It was my big day, and I’d just gotten married.  I hugged person after person who went through the reception line, and I kept looking to see where my best friend was.  She waited until the very last to join the line and when she hugged me, she burst into tears.  “What’s wrong?” I cried.  “I just feel like, you’re leaving me behind.  That you’ve found a new best friend.”  “No, we’ll always be friends,” I promised.

We were painting addresses on curbs to make some extra money, and my best friend and I came across a freshly paved square of sidewalk.  Looking at each other with juvenile orneriness dancing in our eyes, we conspired together and wrote on it: “Let me out! I’m underneath this square of pavement!” before jumping in the car and taking off in a fit of girlish giggles.

We got a job together at the same place and sometimes I’d find a note underneath my windshield wiper after work that would make me bust out in laughter.

Scloomp, scloomp, scloomp. You've officially been scloomptified!

She brought me to Christ, is my long distance pen pal, makes recipes she finds on my blog and uploads pictures and pimps me out on Facebook, which always makes me smile.

We walked to the park with her kids and my other bestie, and when the latter joined the children in playing on the playground, we gave in and joined her, realizing how fun it is to let loose and not let the expectations of adulthood inhibit us.

We take vacations and weekend retreats together.  We call and text each other with good and bad news.  We mail each other packages and letters, share our favorite music by sending CDs.  We email frequently.  We buy things impulsively that reminds us of one another.  We rejoice in each others’ triumphs, and console each other when tragedy strikes.  Through the years, I can say that I made it through them joyfully because of my friends.  Friendship is one of God’s greatest blessings to us because when we call on Him for comfort, it seems like that is how it is delivered, through a smile, kind words, a hug from a friend.

And then there are my online friends, who are just as important to me as my real-life face-to-face friends.  Our connections vary in depth, but every one is a blessing to me, bringing me joy daily, and comfort in times of distress.  Some I confide in, baring my soul to them, including some readers who I know through no other medium than my blog.  Some have become so close to me that I do consider them real-life friends, even if I’ve never seen their face other than in pictures.  You know who you are. :)

Thank God for my friends.  You are my “quiet angels,” and I dedicate this song to you.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Thankful Thursdays #57: my itty bitty sweetie

Continuing with my top ten thanksgivings, this one is expanding on #3:

“Here is where I would likely list my children if I had them, but my Jessie girl takes the number three spot because she is my only child.  A dog-hater my entire life, it’s hard to believe how quickly she turned me around with those puppy grunts and her tiny tongue and tiny, dime-sized paws.  Now, it is such a joyful thing to come home to her enthusiastic greeting every day.  The big smile, the wagging tail, the soft panting as I pet her.  I now fully comprehend the saying “dogs are a man’s best friend” because I have experienced firsthand how well-suited they are as human companions.  Their devotion and unconditional love is something that we’d do well to learn from and apply to our own relationships!”

OK, as the title of this blog suggests, I call Jessie my “itty bitty sweetie,” but the truth is, she hasn’t been “itty bitty” for a long time.  She’s a larger mixed-breed dog, and according to the vet, is about 10 lbs. overweight.  Most dog parents are probably aghast that we have overfed our dog to this degree, but I’m kinda proud she’s not any heavier.  It is really hard for me to say no to this face.

There is a song called “God Gave Me You”  by Dave Barnes that Blake Shelton remade after hearing it during a low point in his relationship with his wife, Miranda Lambert.  The chorus goes, “God gave me you for the ups and downs.  God gave me you for the days of doubt.  For when I think I’ve lost my way, there are no words here left to say, it’s true.  God gave me you.”  The song really is meant for a partner, but the music video applies it to other relationships (like mother-daughter), and to other random people God puts in our paths to help us through life (like an EMT at the scene of an accident).  And that’s how I feel about my Bitty.  God gave her to me, to us, because we really, desperately needed her.  And we didn’t even know it!

Jessie was born on June 4, 2004, on our fourth wedding anniversary.  It was a year after we’d been trying to get pregnant, and at that point we weren’t very concerned that it hadn’t happened.  But God saw there would be a need to fill a hole, and helped fill it before we even realized there was going to be one, and Jessie certainly has.

My youngest sister, Lacey, rescued the last surviving puppy from a litter in a bad home, where they were starving the Mom and she had eaten all her other puppies to survive.  Dad wouldn’t let Lacey keep her, and she asked us if we would take her since we had just bought our own home.  Well, I had been an avowed dog-hater my entire life because I thought they were stupid and ugly, dirty and smelly, and worst of all, they barked at everything.  But when I saw Jessie, who was rescued at just three weeks and was so young she couldn’t walk without falling over, I couldn’t say no.  I couldn’t see the last surviving puppy go to the pound and possibly be killed there.  So we took her home, and I’m so glad we did.

When we got her, Jessie was covered in fleas, and when she got sick a week later, we discovered that she also had worms.  We got rid of her fleas and worms and gave her the nourishment she’d been lacking.  (Her pot belly in the above picture is due to the worms, not fat.)  I really became this fur baby’s mother, and would even wake up in the middle of the night if I heard her get up–once falling out of bed in my rush to go to her.  She wasn’t fully housebroken until a month later, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to spot-clean the carpet and shampoo it.

She became the most horrible little hellion, biting, biting, biting, biting, BITING!  She drove me to tears one night because she had been so nice to my sister while she was visiting, and then bit me bloody after Danielle was gone.  She had so much energy, and we simply couldn’t walk/run, or play with her enough to diminish it.  And she would. not. listen.  Jessie chewed on the baseboards, ate our shoes, and our once clean carpets and floors turned into stained messes with dog fur in the corners.

I tell you what, this dog taught me patience, and to let go of my “clean house standards.”  If I ever have a child, whether of my own or adopted, I can tell you right now that I will be a much better mother because I first raised Jessie.   Marker & crayon all over the walls?  I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. You should see what Jessie has done to our front door!  (Dirt and claw marks out the wazoo.)  It will never recover.  And here she is, pretending to be so innocent!

Besides teaching me patience, her energy also whipped us into physical shape because we had to walk her an hour a day, minimum, or suffer the consequences (i.e. come home to a house  that looked like a Tasmanian devil had spun through it a couple dozen times).  Coming home from work became something I looked forward to, because I knew I’d have a puppy spazzing out with glee on the other side of the door as soon as she heard me pull into the driveway.  There was something about her huge smile and heavy panting (something I’ve come to recognize as almost the dog version of laughter or an expression of deep-seated contentedness) that could fix anything and everything.  Just her presence made me feel whole, even through all the tears of frustration as hopes of becoming pregnant were crushed month after month.  In addition to my relationship with God, I really feel her presence helped me come to terms with our infertility a lot easier and faster than if we hadn’t had her as a “child”  already.  (You can read my sob story about our childless-ness here if you care to.)  There is nothing like a dog head resting on your lap to make you feel better. :)

It has taken Jessie almost eight years, but her energy has finally diminished to what I would consider a “normal” level and she has turned into the dog I had hoped we were getting when we took her in.  She is kind, loving, and best of all listens and obeys!  I really  never thought there would be a day when I would call her and she would come to me, even for a treat.  But it’s here.  And Dennis is glad that she no longer pulls his arm out of socket every time we take her on a walk.  She walks at our pace now–a miracle!

Recently, Jessie was attacked by another dog at our vet’s office and her knee cap has been out of place ever since, about a month.  She is on pain medication and glucosamine to rebuild the cartilage and we hope that it will go back in place on it’s own because otherwise she might need a surgery we can’t afford yet.  Seeing her limping around gave me a preview of what it will be like when she is old, and has left me more aware than ever of how short a time we will have with her.  At best, another eight or so years.  I do not look forward to the day when I will have to say good bye, but I do relish every day we have with her.  She is my sunshine and makes me happy when skies are gray.  She not only fills the hole where children would be, but fills in every hole where sadness might lurk.

Jessie does this thing when she can tell I’m mad (well, it’s obvious, I start to get loud).  She comes into the room I’m in and gives me a worried look with her tail wagging cautiously.  Sometimes she’ll come up and put her head underneath my hand to make me pet her instead of yelling.  She knows that her presence will instantly change my mood and it works every time.  She is the magic cure.  It doesn’t matter how mad I am, as soon as I see her expression and that tail, as soon as she puts her head under my hand or reaches out to me with her paw and pushes on my leg, everything bad in my heart flies away in an instant and I apologize and comfort her so she knows I’m not really that mad.  What a gift!

I know I said Dennis completes me a couple weeks ago, but honestly, Jessie does too.  Life wouldn’t be the same without her and I thank God for her.  She is such a blessing.

Thankful Thursdays #55: true romance

Last week, I embarked on a new adventure in my Thankful Thursdays feature by taking the first of my top ten thanksgivings, and fleshing it out a little by sharing my testimony.  Continuing the adventure, I’m now moving on to the second thanksgiving on my list:

2. My wonderful, most perfect husband. I always tell him he is perfect to me, because although he’s obviously not literally perfect, he is everything I need him to be and honestly, I don’t think there is anyone in the world I could love as much. I feel that I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve, and I’m so thankful for it. He completes me.

I was corrupted by romance novels at the tender age of twelve.  (Is that a funny way to start telling you why I’m so thankful for Dennis?  Bear with me! lol)  My Dad has always had a hobby of buying and selling, well, pretty much everything, and I found a bookshelf lined with romance novels in our basement that he had been selling at the flea market.  I snuck them away one at a time, devouring them and wondering if I’d ever find a man as wonderful as the ones in the novels.  (I was corrupted, I tell you!)  They captivated me because they depicted such colorful and passionate people, and relationships (and details I really didn’t need to be reading!) that were so much different than the ones I observed in real life.

The men and women were gorgeous, of course.  Physically perfect.  The men were tall and strong, bold, brave, always stepping forward to defend or rescue their woman when necessary (which was alarmingly often), serious, brooding, forceful in a take-charge sort of way, and passionate.  Without realizing it, I came to believe that these men and these relationships were normal and what everyone had (except my parents, who I always knew weren’t normal-lol).  I decided I had to have this too.

Dennis with his cousin Mike and friend Coz

The first time I laid eye on Dennis, I was seventeen years old (he was 30, total cradle-robber! haha) and had just started taking a class called “Personal Efficiency” at the Church of Scientology.  Dennis was on staff as the Promotions I/C (in-charge) at the time, and we passed each other one day while I was exiting the church to go to the classroom behind it, and he was passing me to go into the door I had exited.  I smiled at him as I walked down the stairs to go to the classroom, trying not to let my eyes devour him and reveal how cute I thought he was, and then looked back over my shoulder to check out his butt as he ascended the stairs and I remember being impressed with what I saw.  It was pretty much lust at first sight for me! LOL!

Dennis and his friend Jack, the one who just got baptized!

At this point, I had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed by anyone other than my cousin when we were six years old, and was utterly convinced that I was going to die an old maid.  I was desperate, and thus began a relationship with someone who was very ill-suited to me (picture a gothic emo dude that cries to Phantom of the Opera while screaming his ex-girlfriend’s name), simply because he asked me on a date.  I was absolutely miserable in the relationship but was unsuccessful in my feeble attempts at breaking up.

Dennis, front left, with his band, Zencraft in 1992

Dennis worked with my boyfriend, let’s call him Dragon, and he started coming over for Dragon’s “Mage” fests.  Mage is a role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons, and neither Dennis nor I was very much into it (OK, so I wasn’t into it AT ALL), so we very innocently started hanging out together instead of at the Mage parties, with no ulterior motive other than escaping Dragon’s crowd.  Dragon trusted Dennis and thought nothing of it when Dennis whisked me off to the movies every week.

Although the only time we had to talk was during the ride to and from the theater, I was absolutely thrilled and astounded that communication between a man and a woman could be so easy.  So relaxed and comfortable.  Dennis didn’t make me feel like I was an idiot, he actually considered what I said, and didn’t judge me.  I found myself able to speak my mind rather than keeping quiet for fear of sounding stupid, as I did with Dragon.  The exchange of ideas and thoughts was free and effortless, and just so…wonderful.

Dennis and I doing target practice (at my foot, apparently) in his parents' backyard, 1998. I want to make lots of excuses for this horrible photo, but I'll let it be. :)

After only a few weeks, my growing affection for Dennis, and the realization of how lacking my current relationship was, gave me the the strength I needed to end things with Dragon for good.  But what I got with Dennis wasn’t exactly the story-book romance I had always thought I wanted.

Dennis took me to my senior prom, 1999

Let me tell you, if you have been corrupted by romance novels like I was, please do not let the men in them be your standard for potential suitors!  If I had done that, I would never have married the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.  Dennis is strong, sure.  He has practiced martial arts since high school (check out his fab nunchuk skills–promise I didn’t speed it up–and part of his staff form in this video).  He also plays the guitar, so he’s got the sexy musician thing going for him too.  :)  He’s intelligent, witty, and kind.  But Dennis isn’t particularly tall, and although I find him very attractive, he’s not one of the tall-dark-and-handsome super-studs that parade through romance novels.  He’s easy-going and probably wouldn’t recognize if I ever needed to be defended or rescued until I’d already been slaughtered.  He’s a complete and utter goofball (you’ll also see evidence of that in the video), he snores to beat the band, is missing a tooth, tries to kill us every time he gets behind the wheel (or so I’m convinced), he lifts his pinky off his spoon when he eats soup, looks like Shrek when he wakes up in the morning, and his hair is thinning and going gray.  Where was that in my romance novels?

What I found instead was something real, and with time I’ve come to realize it’s so much better than fiction.  You won’t find any man in the romance novels suffering from food poisoning and curled around a toilet when his woman calls him and asks if he can bring her insulin to work because she forgot it.  And him have to change his pants twice before leaving the house to bring it to her, because, well, you know, accidents happen when you’re suffering from food poisoning.  (For the record, I did not know he had food poisoning when I called him!  I would never have asked him if I had known.  But he came anyway!)  No man in the romance novels ever whined like a baby at the suggestion that he try a new food, or threw back the shower curtain and started doing kickboxing while wet to air dry, or tried to pee without using his hands so he wouldn’t have to wash them afterward, and ended up making a huge mess instead (that he most definitely cleaned up himself, thank you very much).  I had no warning for what I got with Dennis, but my journey with him has been a complete joy.

Sometimes, as in the case of the Pioneer Woman (if you haven’t read her book, From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, I recommend it highly!), real-life romance does live up to the novel and you get your beefy hunk that is so masculine that testosterone oozes from  his pores and your knees go weak if you even sense he might be within 500 miles.  Dennis and I did, and do even more so now, have a strong physical passion for each other, but it was never the driving force behind our love, like it seems to be in the romance novels.  It’s more like our souls are linked together and I need him in my life to be complete.  I crave him and relish our time together, no matter how it is spent.

What I got with Dennis is true romance.  I really feel I took the most perfect man alive away from every other more eligible woman, but I don’t regret it one bit!  He’s all mine, and I’m keeping him!  :)  And I really hope that every person reading this feels the same way about their partner.  Or that, if not, you will follow Jesus’ advice that I have to repeat to myself when Dennis is about to push me over the edge with his antics (believe me, they’re not all funny or adorable): take the log out of my own eye so I can see the speck in his better to help remove it.  (Matthew 7:1-5)  So far, I’ve kept myself so busy pulling logs out of my eyes that I haven’t had much time to try to remove any specks from his, and I’m pretty sure those specks I’m seeing are just splinters left behind from the logs in my own eyes!

So there you have it, the concise “story of us,” and why I feel such gratitude for the man in my life.  He proved to me that reality can be stranger (we’re an odd couple, all right!), and much better than fiction.  I thank God every day for him.

Dennis putting the finishing touches on a coconut cake he made for me. :)

At The Flying Pig before this back room was turned into the massage room.

Paddle boating on the Arkansas river

Dennis was doing some Kung Fu moves with this bat'leth (Clingon weapon for you non-Trekkies like me) before I snapped the shot.

Us today! :)

Thanksgiving 2011 and No Recipes For You!

As an homage to the soup Nazi, there will be “no recipes for you!” this week.  That’s right, I’m going to do an entire week of non-recipe posts.  I love posting recipes and usually give them first priority, but I have several non-recipe posts to share and I thought I’d get through them before I get to all the December goodies I want to share with you.  (Oh goodness, now I’m wondering if I can really handle this.  I might have to cop out but I’m going to try!)

Let’s start with the Miller family Thanksgiving!

As we have every year since we started dating, Dennis and I headed north to spend the holiday with his family in Abilene, Kansas (Eisenhower’s birth place, the end of the Oregon trail, and the original “sin city” back in cowboy days*). Usually we stay over the night before so I’m there to help Phyllis, my mother-in-law, with all the cooking, but I couldn’t this year due to my work schedule. She still pulled off an amazing dinner, with some side-dishes and desserts help from everyone who came!

*You know, a long time ago, when the original cowboys freely roamed the Earth.

When I first started coming to Thanksgiving in Abilene, all of the extended family came to the Miller house for lunch, but the count has now dwindled as each family has decided to have their own separate celebration.  What used to be utter insanity in the Miller house is now manageable thanks to smaller numbers.  See our happy hostess below?  That’s my MIL, Phyllis.

Dennis got his sense of humor from her. Here’s what I found when I went to reach for a plate. Bob is her brother, our Uncle.

Only a candy mouse for you!

The Thanksgiving ritual at the Miller home is to wait until everyone arrives, doing the final food preparations (cutting the pies, putting servings spoons in all the dishes, etc.) & chatting with one another while trying to pretend we’re not starving and ready to eat the person’s head off that we’re talking to.  When everyone is present, including those that told us not to wait, Uncle Robert, of the mouse plate fame, leads us in a prayer of thanksgiving. This is Robert and his wife, Becky (they are parents to the four beautiful young women throughout my photos, three of them in the background of this one):

We then let the elderly and the youngest go through the kitchen first to fill their plates.  The rest of us continue to play nice and pretend we’re not eying the forearms of our family members and envisioning them as turkey legs.

And then the glorious moment arrives when we all sit down and eat!

That's Dennis' Dad, Al, who had to be censored! LOL!

This year I brought praline sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie…

pumpkin pie truffles…

corn pudding…

and broccoli-cauliflower bake, which I didn’t photograph separately, but there’s a bit of it on the back center-left of my loaded plate.

I forgot to take a picture of my dessert plate, but I was overjoyed that cousin Jessica (the one helping her two little boys with their plates above) brought pecan pie.  It’s my favorite but I never make it for that reason, so I always hope to find it at Thanksgiving, the one time a year I allow myself to eat this evil, but delicious, pie.  I also didn’t photograph the Thanksgiving staples (turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, creamed corn) except the ones that made it to  my plate, but I did get the other side dishes:

Jessica brought this rad turkey vegetable tray!

After we eat, the men continue watching their football game…

the children divide and conquer playing fields of their own creating…

and the adults continue to chat.  Katerina amused us for a while with her Smartphone as we looked up music videos on it.

Loved this photo of Katerina, Tessa, and their nephew Greyson!  He’s such a cutie!

While most of the young adults eventually moved outside to do sports-like activities, I followed them outdoors and exercised my forefinger taking pictures instead.  I’m pretty sure if I had tried to join them in volleying balls and whatever other sports-like nonsense they were up to, I would have broken my eyebrow or something, and I’m kind of fond of my eyebrows.

Here’s a photo I shot outside of Robert and Becky’s girls while they weren’t busy flinging balls or Frisbees or other various  and sundry things in the air.  Left to right: Andrea, Tessa, Katerina, and Jessica.  Andrea and Jessica are responsible for all the kiddos at our gathering.

I loved this photo so much I had a little Thanksgiving-themed fun with it!

I managed to pass the camera off to get a photo with my TALL and handsome nephews, Carson (left) and Lance:

and with their Mom, the best sister-in-law in the world, Joan:

You can tell how much fun she is by her smile!  :)  Oh, and if you’re wondering about my shirt, the front says “How do you mail a turkey?”

“Bird” class mail, of course! Hardy har har! :)  Working for the postal service, I couldn’t resist, even if it is super lame.

I took  this photo right inside the door at an Abilene restaurant called Joe Snuffy’s the day after Thanksgiving.  I thought it quite fitting for this holiday, which is mainly spent with family around a table.

I know that we love to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to pig out, but when it comes down to it, most of us aren’t thinking about food when we think of what we’re truly thankful for.  Usually it’s the people surrounding us during this holiday that we’re most thankful for.

I happened to catch the Thanksgiving episode of “The Middle” where the wife was flipping because everyone was cancelling their travel plans to join hers on Thanksgiving.  “Thanksgiving without family is just overeating!” she exclaimed, and I had to laugh.  It’s so true.  We love Thanksgiving because of the plentiful food, but we love it even more because it gives us a reason to gather together with the ones we love.

Thank God for so many reasons to be thankful. :)

Dennis with 92-year-old Grandma Joy.  She truly is a joy and I’m so glad she has passed her sense of humor down through her daughter to my husband. :)

I hope your Thanksgivings were wonderful, and that whether you celebrate the holiday or not, you have many things to be thankful for!

Thankful Thursdays #36: a pie-ful day

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I made a thanksgiving resolution to find something to be thankful for every day until next Thanksgiving.  Here’s what I am thankful for this week!

Thursday: For another day of life.

Friday: For the most fun, most uplifting day I’ve had for a while! I spent the morning and early afternoon teaching my friend, Teri, how to make pretty pies and we had such a blast, it’s almost ridiculous.  (We agreed back in December it would be a fab idea for each of us to teach the other something we know that they don’t.  I know pretty pies, and Teri knows homestyle cooking.  So after many busy months, we finally made the time for our first lesson.  Can’t wait for mine!).  Then we joined Teri and her husband for a Bible study in their home!  She served us a wonderful summer meal comprised of many different hearty salads, and we gobbled pie for dessert.  Then we delved into God’s word.  It was the type of day that at the end of it, you feel peaceful & content to your very soul.

This shows one each of the pies we made (we made two of each of the smaller ones). Clockwise from top: Brown Sugar Peach, Triple Berry, Dixie, and Cool Strawberry.

Saturday: My first day as a “career” employee at the USPS Remote Encoding Center!  (For those new to my blog, I have been a transitional employee there for 7 years.) Although my new schedule is unpredictable and I’m having trouble adjusting to the later hours, I’m very thankful for the ≈$3/hour raise and the benefits.

Sunday:  Due to my new schedule, which will require me to work many Sunday mornings (the only real complaint I have with this position), I had to find a replacement to teach Sunday School for the next three months, and the first lady I asked agreed.  I am so thankful for her help!

Monday: That orientation lasted 6 hours so I only had to work for two hours.  :D

Tuesday:  Finally got the invitations out for our annual Davis-family reunion (AKA “The Pig Roast“).  (I am on the planning committee and have been in charge of invites for the last 6 or 7 years.)  This is our 35th and final year at Uncle Pete’s and Aunt Nadene’s (the same place Dennis and I got married!), so I really hope I can make it.

Wednesday:  RAIN!  I was surprised when Jessie cut our walk shorter than usual and led us back home after just a few blocks, but realized why when as soon as we got inside, the heavens opened wide and a waterfall gushed forth!  Boy, did we need it.  Thank you, Lord!!

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