Steps to a Happy Thanksgiving

1. Shopping. Usually takes at least 3 trips.2. Cooking. Brine the turkey on Monday, head to the kitchen to start the heavy duty cooking on Wed, continue right on through to Thursday.3. Carve the turkey. Complete chaos in the kitchen. We realize we have an unbelievable shortage of forks, wine glasses, and serving spoons. Seriously, where did they go???4. Stuff your belly to the point of exploding. 5. Clean up time. All hands (and paws) on deck.

Thankful

I am thankful for my amazing husband who somehow manages to become more incredible every passing day. He supports me in every way imaginable, holds me when I cry, makes me laugh more than anyone else. We have so much fun together, and after nine years of marriage, it really does just keep getting better. I am so blessed by the man God has given me to share my life with.

I am thankful for our family. We have a wonderful, close knit family that I feel so blessed by. They are our friends as well as our family and we love spending time together. Far too few people can say that about their families! There have been tough times over the past year, and there are more to come but we have each other and that is a wonderful things. Together, we can get through anything!

I am thankful for my fabulous friends. Whether it’s riding together, Monday night girls night watching our shows and chatting, going out or staying in, or simply emailing up a storm, I am incredibly blessed to have these people in my life. They are there for me, listen when I need to talk, and have been incredibly supportive through the good and the bad. They make my life better, and what better can you say about friends?

I am thankful for my awesome medical team. They work so hard for me and always take the very best care of me. Without my hematologists determination, I may never have received a diagnosis and who knows what would have happened. I could not possibly love my nurses and doctor any more than I do, I actually look forward to my appointments if you can believe it. It makes it so much easier to have people like that taking care of you. I may not like my disease very much, but I love my cancer center friends!

I am thankful for our home. We all love to complain about the falling home values and how upside down we are in our mortgages, but the truth is we love where we’re at. Now of course I wish the value of our house hadn’t plummeted the minute we bought it, but we have plenty of space, we love our neighbors and we adore our comfy cozy house. We may be stuck here for awhile, but we don’t mind because we are incredibly happy right where we are.

I am thankful for our crazy, adorable four legged kids. They bring so much joy and laughter to our lives, I don’t know what we’d do without them. They make our house a home.

I am thankful for my hobbies. Between scrapbooking, riding, photography and reading I can hardly fit it all in. When I “retired,” all the people at my work kept asking what I would do with all my time and thought I would be bored. No way! Especially not with my laundry list of hobbies. They bring me so much joy, offer me a creative outlet, keep my mind fresh, and make my life extra fun! Scrapbooking and photography help me keep my memories alive and bring me extra enjoyment from the little and big things in life. As corny as it may sound, scrapping something allows me to enjoy the memory all over again.

I am thankful for a wonderful year. 2011 has been filled with tears but more laughter, struggles but even more joy. It has been a year filled with growth and love. It has been a wonderful year indeed.

Turkey Day Countdown

The countdown to turkey day is on around here. The grocery shopping was completed yesterday. The house is clean. The recipes are pulled out and ready to go. And tomorrow the cooking begins. This is my fifth year hosting Thanksgiving so I’ve at this point I have a pretty good routine down. That doesn’t mean I’ve figure out how to manage that chaotic half hour before dinner is served, but other than that things run pretty smooth.

This year will bring our biggest headcount yet! Our guest list includes my mom and her husband, my dad, my sister April and her boyfriend, my stepbrother, J’s sister and her four kids and his mom. In case you weren’t keeping track, that’s 14 people! Did I mention we live in a townhouse??? Honestly though, I’m excited for it. I firmly believe that the best memories are made while tripping over one another. I have some things up my sleeve for the kids so that they won’t be bored out of their minds, although really all they need to stay entertained is uncle Justin.

For the second year in a row I dry brined our (17.7 lb!) turkey. I will never go back to wet brining! Dry brining is so much easier, less messy, and you don’t end up with the spongy textured meat that you do with the wet brine. This year we added lemon zest and rosemary to the salt to add extra flavor. After extensive deliberation, I decided on the Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus by Giada over at FoodNetwork. J wanted to help out with the turkey this year so he’s going to make a seasoning mix instead of using  herbes de provence but otherwise we’ll be sticking to the recipe. I like to try something different with the turkey each year, keep things interesting, especially since most of my other recipes stay the same last year. I make sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing in the slow cooker (so good and easy) and cranberry chutney (made it for the first time last year and it was a hit so it made it onto the permanent list). And of course we have dessert, which will be apple crisp and pumpkin bars. I decided to go with pumpkin bars instead of pie because it’ll be a bit more kid friendly. Several members of my family are also bringing things so there will be lots of deliciousness to be had. Hmmm… I’m beginning to feel very hungry…

So, that’s what’s happening around here. Busy, busy but lots of fun. Now I need to start gorging myself so I can stretch my stomach out. I need to be able to fit lots of goodies in there in two days!!!

Ghosts of Christmas Past

As I decorated the tree for the past two Christmases, my mind was focused on what that tree would look like when we had a baby. I would hang the ornaments and debate which ones I would box up to make room for the inevitable slew of baby’s first Christmas ornaments that would accompany our child. I didn’t fully enjoy the season because I was so focused on the future and what I dreamed our holidays would soon look like.

Two years ago, the PNH test came back positive on December 2. At first it was a huge relief. We had been looking for an answer to what was wrong since August so we were all just overjoyed to have an answer. But the following weeks were filled with research, and the realization that the diagnosis had serious ramifications regarding our family starting plans, as well as the fact that the disease was more serious than I had originally thought. I spent the month researching PNH and adoption, failing to really enjoy the holiday season much at all. All my thoughts were on the future and what we were going to do to add a member to our family.

Last Christmas, I received an incorrect diagnosis for an infertility problem in November and so once again, my holiday season was spent researching and undergoing tests. I spent that Christmas worried about whether or not we would be able to get pregnant, along with worrying about my blood counts that were on a downward march for no explainable reason. But the doctor had a plan for us and I believed that come next Christmas, there would be a little one to celebrate (fortunately, I do the research and quickly realized that the diagnosis didn’t quite fit so I got a second opinion. Who knows where we would be at right now if I had just blindly followed the first doctors instructions!). When I look back on that holiday season, all I really remember is worry and an unhappiness that my life didn’t look like what I wanted it to.

This Christmas though, as I hang each ornament, I will be focused on the amazing life that I do have. I will not debate the worth of each ornament and plan its retirement to the back of the closet. I won’t spend my time thinking that Christmas will be better once we have a kid. Instead, I will enjoy every minute of this magical season. I will cherish the special times I have with my husband and will not discount them because they don’t include a child. I have traveled a long and hard road of letting go of my plan for my life and I have finally come to a place where I am at peace with the life that God has blessed me with. I don’t know what God has planned for us. I don’t know if the answer to children is no, not now, or not in the way you have planned. But what I do know is that I finally have peace, and I am content to trust in God’s plan for us. And for the first time in far too long, I am going to enjoy every minute of our Christmas season just the way it is, perfect.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Holiday Album

Disclaimer: If you are not a scrapbooker, this post is going to bore you to tears. Just fair warning!

So, I discovered that the best way to get into the holiday spirit and get motivated on Christmas projects was to just dive right in. My pictures are ordered for our Christmas cards and my album is ready to start filling up with holiday memories. Now I am raring to go! I’ve mentioned a few times here that I want to do a December Daily album. It’s a project inspired by Ali Edwards (you can find more info here) where you create an album and document everyday of December. The idea is to include both holiday memories and daily life with the goal of really getting more out of your holiday season while documenting what life looks like throughout the month. My take on it is going to be just a little different. I’m going to start with Thanksgiving and maybe go through New Years Eve. To me, Thanksgiving is the kick off of the holiday season and we do lots of Christmas stuff that weekend so I feel the book would really be missing something if I left that out. I am going to do my best to document something from each day but I’m not going to worry too much if I miss a day or two here and there. Let’s face it, not everyday is that interesting. I am going to take lots of pictures when I have good lighting of decorations and ornaments that I want to document and I will use those on days that I don’t have anything else for. So, for the album itself I decided to finally use the binder mechanism that I have been hoarding saving from a few years ago when the old book binders were trendy. I made lots of these as gifts for others but never made one for myself so I thought this was the perfect project to finally make myself one! I’ve made some pages so far but I’ve kept it pretty simple. I know that I will have a hard time if I really make pre-made pages so I decided to just make some slightly decorated pages and a few pages that won’t have any pictures. My plan is really going to be to just throw stuff in there as I go. The pages that I have made are in no particular order so I’ll just pull from them as I go. Sometimes it’ll just be a picture, sometimes several little pictures, some journaling, some collected stuff from daily life, etc. I have a little rubbermaid and a paperholder filled with all my Christmas stuff so it’s all just ready for me to grab what I want. Having it all in one place makes it so much easier! Plus, looking at all my holiday scrapbooking goodies has me super excited to get started! I cut up these baseball card holders and put some fun stuff in them, then I’ll add pictures to them on days that I have more than one picture that I want to include.I made a page out of a paper bag that I plan to slip a long journal entry into.I used my slice to cut out a bunch of shapes from the book pages that I tore out of the book, then misted them to give them some fun color. I feel like this is a fun way to add some continuity to the book since I’ll be using all kinds of different lines of scrapbooking goodies. This will help tie it all together (or at least so I hope!). So there you have it. I may add a few more things here and there before Thursday, and I’m planning to cut out some numbers from brown and turquoise cardstock with my slice, but it’s pretty much just waiting for the goodies to start piling in. I’ve wanted to do this project for so long but I always put if off thinking I should wait till we have a kid. Now that my book is ready to go, I am feeling super excited to document our life just the two of us. It’s been a bit therapeutic for me I think, a kind of letting go of what I thought my holidays needed to look like and just embracing the amazing life we have.

My Dog Hates Me

There is something about doing photobooth on my iPad that Maggie just hates. She has no problem posing for the camera when I’m behind it but there is just something about making her sit with me in front of the camera that makers her straight up crabby, which makes me straight up amused. Poor, tortured Maggie.

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20111119-013110.jpg We made grumpy faces together.

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