Be Thankful

It is Thanksgiving week and all month there has been talk of being thankful. If there is any time of year that reminds us to be thankful for all we have, this is it. I've noticed people writing a daily thankful post on Facebook each day and although I've enjoyed reading them, I haven't posted a single one.

It is not because I can't think of things I am thankful for, I have plenty. More than plenty. I guess every time I start to write what I am thankful for my answer is always the same. My kids, my husband, my family.

Sure, there are a million other things, smaller things, that I am thankful for. My incredible friends, my Starbucks Chai Tea Latte's, my job, my health, and so forth. They just all seem trivial compared to these two.

These last few months I find my self obsessing about the bad things that people go through. It seems like people die that shouldn't. People who left us all too soon and who deserve to be here, enjoying their lives. My dear friends lost their sweet Angel Baby. Two of my sisters each lost one of their dear friends. My Dad lost his best friend and I lost a "second Dad." I know loss is part of living, but sometimes it doesn't make sense and it is nothing but unfair.

I recently mentioned how my friend's 10 year old niece passed away last month and then I came across a story of a 4 year old boy who also lost his battle with cancer. I find myself reading the Facebook posts and blog posts about these children and feeling sick over their death. I'm sick for their parents, siblings, family and friends. I am so sad that they are gone (although I didn't personally know either of them.) I find myself sobbing through the parents words, trying to imagine their hurt. It is torture. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Honestly, I feel like it is the least I can do. I feel like the are living in the hell of losing their sweet children so how dare I complain that it is too hard to hear their stories or share in their pain.

I know that sounds crazy, but I feel like I am so lucky to have my amazing husband and boys that the least I can do is listen to their words and share in their pain. I feel for them and I don't want them to feel alone.

In the grand scheme of my life, nothing makes me more thankful than my family. It doesn't matter how much money I have, what kind of car I drive or what size my jeans are. The only thing that matters to me as they are with me when we say goodnight each night. In the end, I am not me without them So, for them, I am oh so thankful. Today and every other day.

For those of you who have lost someone you can't imagine losing. I wish you strength, peace and love....with a simple reminder that you are not alone. Happy Thanksgiving. xo

Missing in Action

Well hello there! It has been so long since I've written anything I almost don't know where to begin. I think when I last checked in Jason and I were planning our trip to Germany.

We made it there and back without any issues and only some minor harassing regarding my water-logged passport. I can confirm that the German customs agents can be very scary and intimidating. It was an amazing week that Jason and I enjoyed so much (even if he did have to work for part of it.) We did so much and Cologne is a beautiful city that I would suggest you visit if you ever get the chance.

Cologne is located right on the Rhine river and as you come into town on the train the first thing you see is the Dom Cathedral. It is breathtaking. It is one of the oldest and largest cathedrals in Germany and is what Cologne is known for (well, besides Eau De Cologne...the birth place of cologne!) The city is full of amazing history including how the entire area was bombed and destroyed during WWII, except for the Dom. It was used as a beacon all lit up in the sky so the allies would know where to bomb. They destroyed the city but never bombed the cathedral.

Looking down the aisle in the Dom.

It really was incredible to visit and our hotel was right around the corner so I spent every morning having a coffee overlooking the cathedral. It is free and open to the public and although it has thousands of visitors walking in and out all day, it has a stillness you'd expect to find in a church. I found myself sitting in a pew almost daily just enjoying the peacefulness and craftsmanship found inside. There are no words to describe it and these photos don't do it justice. I am so thankful I was able to experience it.

I walked for hours each day enjoying the city, taking in the sights and the river, the hustle and bustle of it all. The people were incredibly friendly and I hope I get the chance to visit Germany again. I ate a lot of pretzels and strudel while Jason enjoyed the sausage and Kolsch beer (his new favorite!)

One of the traditions is to "lock up your love" on the bridge that crosses the Rhine. You put a padlock on the fence and then throw the key into the river. I know this is done in London and Paris as well. I walked this bridge almost daily and loved looking at the locks. Jason and I bought a small lock and locked it up on our last day there.

It was a wonderful week away and by the end of our trip we were anxious to get home to see the boys and honestly, I couldn't eat another pretzel and still zip my jeans!

Germany wrapped up our September and then we were full swing into October. We still had baseball, hockey and flag football seasons to finish up so Fall was busier than ever. Work in a trip to the pumpkin farm and regular work / life stuff and the month literally slipped away.

October ended on a sad note as I learned of a little girl whose journey I was following had passed away from brain cancer. Gabriella Miller was 10 years old and she is the niece of one of my friends / parent at our school. I had been following Bri's story since I learned of her diagnosis from my friend last November. She did amazing things in the year after she learned of her inoperable tumor and fought until her last days to make a change in pediatric caner research. I urge you to visit to learn more about Gabriella and how we all can help make a change. This incredible girl deserves to have us all continue this fight, she was inspirational.

The hard part, besides learning that a 10 year old has died, is that anyone who knows me knows I don't easily process things like this (not that anyone does.) I had a rough week trying to work through why things like this happen and trying to logically talk myself into understanding that just because bad things often happen, it doesn't mean they are going to happen to me or my family. I just can't help but think that this could be my life. I know I should focus on how blessed I am to have healthy children but I just keep thinking about Gabriella and her parents and know that this could happen to me, or you. No one is off limits, unfortunately. It is a hard lesson to learn and has reminded me to be thankful for all I have. I am trying to work through my anxiety and to not literally panic at the thought of such a loss. For me, this is easier said than done.

The boys were super excited for Halloween and although we had rainy weather they trick-or-treated until they were soaked to the bone. I would love to show you pictures of Jack as Jason the psycho killer from Friday the 13th or Joey as a ninja, but I didn't get a single picture. It was pouring and they were rushing to get out the door with their friends and I was lucky I even caught up with them at all. I missed the opportunity and by the time we got home they were too wet and cold to even consider taking a picture. Take my word for it, they were creepy and ninja-like! I am enjoying the candy that they worked so hard for.

I am happy we are into November and I'm  looking forward to some family time in the coming holiday season. Tis the season to be thankful!