Gratitude Prompt Days 9, 10, and 11

I love when I get to go into a long weekend worth of gratitude…though I wish I had the time to do them all one day at a time! No, that’s not true. I love that I don’t worry about things on the weekend. I focus on having fun, making memories, and living my best life. That brings me to days 9, 10, and 11 of gratitude.

What’s a moment in your life that was pure joy and light?

The first night both of the twins were home from the NICU and we were able to put them into their sweet little bed in our bedroom, together, for the first time. Carter was discharged a day before Charlotte, and we had to leave her behind. They were in the NICU for a week after they were born, and we lived in the hospital with them – even after I was discharged, they let us keep our room.  We were in the NICU every three hours, 24 hours a day, to feed them, cuddle them, and spend time with them. When Carter was discharged, we made the decision to stay as late as possible, go home and be with our older girls, take them to school in the morning, and then come back. I cried all the way home with a broken heart. I never imagined being in a position where we’d take one baby home but not the other.

My heart was broken all night long, and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to be with our girl the following morning. When we got there, they were so excited to tell us that they were sending her home with us. She had a very rough night – as did Carter – which wasn’t something they’d ever had. They were both so upset and inconsolable for the first time since they’d been born, but when they were together again…they both relaxed, calmed down, and were happy and content once again.

The moment we got home and had all four of our babies together, the twins together, was the sweetest moment of pure joy. It was the first time the girls got to hold Charlotte (they held Carter the night before when we got home) and see the babies in person because of NICU rules. It was the most magical moment.

What season are you grateful for?

When we had Addison, we knew immediately we wanted all the babies. When we decided to have number two, we were shocked, crushed, heartbroken, and horrified when I suffered two miscarriages before our sweet Ava joined us. That season was the single worst thing we’d ever been through in our lives separately, together, and in our marriage. Losing babies is debilitating – even when you never got to hold them.

I would never wish that season on anyone, ever. But, it is the season I think that I am most grateful for in hindsight. We’d never been through anything difficult in our marriage or life until then. To go through that was a moment that hurt more than anything in the world, but to see how much stronger it made us, how much closer it brought us, and how much we leaned on one another during that time…that’s strength, and I cannot tell you how much more we appreciate one another, love one another, and how much less we taken for granted in life as a result.

I hated that season, but I’ll never forget our sweet Ava the day she asked us a question that made me realize that God’s timing is flawless.

“Do you think Carter and Charlotte are our angel babies we never got to meet that went to Heaven? Because I think they are. God decided we needed them,” and that’s when I realized that our season was awful, but she’s right. We did need them. If we’d had them before, we never would have known Ava, and what would life be like without her? God knew what we needed, and He provided.

What was the best thing that happened today?

Well, I’m writing this in advance, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what the best thing is that happened to me on the day that I’m writing, so it’s not specific for the day this blog is going live (full disclosure and stuff).

It’s still early in the day, but this is the moment that delighted me beyond measure already today. Per usual, I was awake and enjoying a cup of coffee while working in our bed. Charlotte woke up, woke Carter up, and went into the kitchen to ask Craig to make their breakfast. I could hear Charlotte telling daddy all about her dreams from the night before, and Carter came into the master to say good morning. He never misses a morning of coming to see me when he wakes up before I have a chance to put things down and come out to hang out. He walked over to me, he reached his hand out for mine, and I put my hand in his. He then pulled my hand up to his sweet little face and kissed the back of my hand very gently and said, “I love you, mommy,” before he told me he had a dream about chocolate muffins the night before.

That little moment just melted my heart. What could be better than that?!

Gratitude Prompt Day 6: My Proudest Accomplishments

As I sit here writing this, it’s still the weekend and it’s early. I have my coffee in my office where I’m watching my husband water the flowers around our front porch. Our hibiscus is growing vibrant pink flowers that make me smile every time I see them. Our gardenia is overflowing with fragrant white blooms that we can smell from the driveway on the far side of the house and along the walkway all the way from the driveway around the garage and to the front door.

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The French doors are open to the lanai. The picture windows along the front of the house downstairs are all open letting the cool air in, and the girls are playing quietly on their own. Our son is following daddy around ‘helping’ him with the watering. I’m reminded that these are the mornings I have always pictured in my mind when I thought about life as a grown-up. I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and of gratitude and of calm happiness. Life is messy and loud and chaotic and crazy most of the time, but it never fails that those moments are fleeting in the midst of the simple things that mean the most. Which brings me to today’s gratitude prompt – the sixth this month.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

That is the single most loaded question in the world, isn’t it? What are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished? What is an accomplishment? Are we talking personally or professionally or something different? I feel a great sense of accomplishment in knowing that I began a successful business doing something not even remotely related to the educational path I chose – something I love with a passion – when I was 25. Something that’s grown so much over the past 12 years that I never would have imagined happening.

I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment that I was able to birth four beautiful babies, but especially two at the same time, and that we have raised (mostly) well-behaved, polite, kind, funny, silly, intelligent little humans who are a lot of fun. I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment at the fact that we didn’t follow the ‘standards’ or the ‘norms’ when it came to our life in any capacity. We don’t have ‘traditional’ lives by any means. Growing up, our generation was always taught you go to college, you get a degree, you go to work for someone else Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 and you bring home a paycheck and you go on a vacation every year with your family somewhere okay, and you raise kids who play sports, you go to church, you donate both your time and your money to good causes, you buy a nice, normal house and you dream of ‘one day’ living in your dream house, and you sit around waiting on raises and retirement and ‘the golden’ years to show up.

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I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment at the fact that the above scenario is not our life. I can’t imagine working for someone else. I can’t imagine being required to be somewhere and do for others what I do for myself. We both work from home. We share a home office. We were 29 and 30 when we bought our dream house in our dream neighborhood after already building our first home when we were only 20 and 21. We don’t wait around and think about ‘one day’ having what we want and doing what we want – we live that every day. We travel. We have fun. We enjoy our lives and our time, and we don’t fall into the norm. That’s an accomplishment to me.

But, at the end of the day, are those the accomplishments I’m most proud of? I don’t know. I can say that I feel a profound sense of accomplishment in things that are a lot smaller…simpler might be a more appropriate phrase.

I feel so much accomplishment being almost 37-years-old and surrounding myself with the same core group of friends I’ve had my entire adult life – almost all of whom are living life on their own terms working for themselves and running successful businesses and have made their dreams come true. People who are so like-minded that there is no negativity. It feels like an accomplishment to find people to do life with who are always interested in what’s going on with you, and who always cheer for you and celebrate successes with you, and want to be part of every detail of your life. People who just want to see you succeed and aren’t worried about comparison or keeping up with anyone else or trying to outdo one another. For many years, I thought this was normal – but it turns out, after being exposed to some other groups of adults, this is apparently not the ‘norm’ and it’s rare to find people like that.

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To have a group of people who are so close that our kids were born together, have known one another since before they were born, and whose successes and accomplishments I feel I’m part of. When they succeed, I feel like I succeed, too. Watching them grow from the time we were young adults through now and seeing them killing it makes me so proud and so happy, and it’s because I love these people so much. We love them so much. Between my family and my friends, I am surrounded by the greatest people in the world, and that is the most amazing accomplishment. The kind of friendship where you spend multiple days/evenings together every week and always look forward to it because there’s nothing better than being with people you love making memories with your family, with them, with the kids…that’s what life is all about.

I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment in the fact that I get to live my life according to my own terms. It’s a powerful feeling to embrace a Monday while the rest of the world detests it. It’s a powerful feeling to know that I’ll never have to dream of the weekend or live for Fridays (I mean, they’re great and definitely the best days, but I don’t have anything to escape from, and that is a big feeling). It’s such an accomplishment to know that if I think it, I make it happen. So many people spend their lives talking about what they’re going to do, discussing ‘one day’ and how they’re ‘going to’ year after year until they one day wake up and realize that one day was that day and talking about it isn’t the same thing as acting on it. I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I didn’t settle for anything.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment at being comfortable with myself. In knowing that no one else’s opinion matters nor does it bother me. In knowing that if you love life, it loves you right back. In knowing that I can honestly say I’m living my best life every day, even when the day isn’t the best one.

So, what’s my biggest accomplishment? It’s living a life I love in every aspect. Balance is hard, but we make it work, and that’s a gift.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Gratitude Prompts: Days 2, 3, and 4

Happy Monday!

I figured I’d add a quick disclaimer on here; I’m not blog posting my gratitude on weekends…I save those for my family. But, I’ll be adding my additional gratitude for those days on Mondays or maybe Fridays so we don’t miss throughout the month. Does that sound fair? Here we go…

Gratitude Prompt Day Two: Describe your happiest memory.

This one is so easy. November 17, 2007. My husband and I had been married a few years at that point, we’d been traveling the world, living our very best lives, and enjoying our time together immensely. I didn’t think that we could be any happier than we already were. We had all we ever wanted, plus so much more, too.

But, that morning was the morning I was officially six days away from starting my period for the month. When we were in Hawaii for my birthday just a month before, my sweet husband asked me to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I gave it some thought. Ultimately, he was born to be a father, and I knew that. So, we decided to go for it. I didn’t think I’d be pregnant, or even that I’d get a positive test result with one of the ‘try this test six days early and find out,’ tests. But, I had to try it out because I could not wait any longer.

I’d bought the test the day before. We both work up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to take the test because we could NOT wait. We had plans to go to Gainesville that afternoon and attend the Gator football game, and I was so excited. I took the test. We sat on our bed, and we waited two minutes. We prayed together. Then, we got up and we went to the bathroom to read the results. I couldn’t do it at the last second. I just couldn’t look at it if it didn’t say what I wanted it to say, so my husband did it for me. His smile told me everything before his words formed, and I knew the test said, “Pregnant,” and we were having a baby. His face. His excitement. The absolute happiness in his smile, his eyes, and his voice; that was the best day of my entire life.

Gratitude Prompt Day Three: What makes you happy to be alive?

My family. What else? That I get to live the life I love with the people I love is everything to me. It’s literally everything. Sometimes, I find myself ready to complain about a bad day or a bad moment, and I am reminded that I get to live this life. I look back and remember when every single thing I have and get to do right now was just a dream in the minds of my husband and I when we were planning our wedding. We wanted to live in a big house in this beautiful neighborhood. We wanted to have a family to make memories with. We wanted to both have the freedom and ability to work from home and create our lives together. We wanted to make our own rules and our own paths, and we get to do that every day. This family of mine. This life of mine. It makes me happy to be alive.

Gratitude Prompt Day Four: List the treasures around your life.

Happy kids. Faith. A husband who still compliments me and calls me pretty and sexy and wants me every single day, who makes me laugh, who is always on my team even when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Friends who love us and who we love so much. Extended families who are so amazing.

I have a lot of treasures, many of them materialistic, but these will always be the ones that meant the most to me.