In church this morning, Pastor Dave said something that stuck with me. He said that many people will go through the motions of Thanksgiving week without really stopping to give thanks or be grateful at all. At first this thought seemed absurd, but then I thought about my own actions around the holidays and realized that I often fall short when it comes to slowing the pace and spending time in reflection of thanks for all that's been given to me this year. It's true the simple pleasures and traditions of this time of year oftentimes serve as fuel for our own joy and thanksgiving, but it's all too easy to get caught up in the motions and hurry through a time that's supposed to be slowed and experienced fully. Whether it's through a simple talk about what we're thankful for with your littles, hands folded with family amidst a table a turkey and stuffing, or some quiet time to yourself in the car on the way to get groceries, I hope to carve out a few moments throughout this special week to reflect and feel overwhelmed with all the good surrounding me.
One of the things I love to do this time of year is look at old blog posts that recount memories from each of our end-of-the-years together. The pictures and revisited moments make me smile...and make me feel so grateful. This week, I've collected twenty of my favorite images that represent things I'm thankful for.
1. Final days before baby...
We took this picture with my camera's self timer just a few days before Cruz was born. It was one of our last official 'date nights' without needing a baby-sitter, and it was surreal knowing life was about to change forever. Now, I'm reliving so many of those feelings again as we await baby #2. Every emotion is heightened, every moment viewed with a sense of conclusiveness, knowing we are soon closing one chapter of this life of ours. And while it's always hard to turn that final page of one amazing story, the anticipation of the sequel is even better.
2. The chance to relive childhood through the eyes of Cruz
It's been the one thing I've maybe loved most about raising this little boy of mine. The perspective he offers me, even when I'm not searching for it, has shaped me into a better version of myself every day. I have undoubtedly smiled, laughed, and shook my head in awe at life more in the last three years than all the previous before. He's my free spirit, my little light, and constantly challenges me to see the good all around me.
3. The magic of Christmas
We decorated our house for Christmas on Saturday and it is now transformed into this cozy little gingerbread house that begs for wood fires, movie nights, and carpet picnics of popcorn and hot cocoa. I love this time of year for so many reasons, and especially love experiencing it through the eyes of my little sprite. The reflection of another year coming to an end, the recurrence of familiar traditions, and the magic that seems to fill our space during the month of December truly make it the best time of the year.
4. Watching him be a daddy
Perhaps nothing makes my heart swell up more than watching the two of them interact. I knew before I married him that he'd be such a great daddy and getting the chance to be beside him as we figure this whole thing out is one of my favorite adventures.
And soon, I get to watch him with a baby girl.
5. The house that built me
We have spent nearly six years in this house, a house that has and will welcome our two babies, and has become a place that we've truly built together. I became a wife and a mama here, and learned to cook, and garden, and take pictures here. I know that the best place to take pictures is in mid-afternoon by the picture window, just how far to turn the hot and cold faucet on the shower to shut it off, and that the living room looks best right after it's vacuumed. From the hickory kitchen we spent hours building in Ray's shop, to the many nights and mornings crowded in our single bathroom, and that upstairs nook where I tuck Cruz in every night, this house means so much to me.