Yes, everyone is doing it, but I thought it might turn my mood around to think of 30 things I have to be thankful for this month. Really, there is so much. So here is my "Thirty Days of Thanks."
1. For plenty of food to eat.
2. Tonight I read this post by Jen Hatmaker. She is one of my favorite writers and bloggers. Her honesty about adoption is amazing and inspiring. This post was about "being the village" for those walking through the adoption journey. Tonight I am thankful for our very small village that supported us along the way each time when there were so many others who did not. They were willing to understand and support us, no matter what. This is the ultimate post for friends and family of perspective adoptive parents to read. A guidebook, of sorts. I am grateful for our village and the opportunity to be the village so others in the AP community.
3.This evening we had the privilege of having dinner with a couple at the beginning stages of pursuing adoption. We shared our stories and heart for adoption. As we re-lived each of the journeys we walked to bring our boys home, my heart was filled with joy. What an amazing gift to experience. Learning to trust in His provision and timing was hard, but ultimately we were blessed more than we could have ever imagined. I am thankful for our boys, the journeys we have traveled together, and this special couple preparing for the ride of lifetime! This picture was taken on the first anniversary of Bunte's Forever Family Day.
4. For fresh water to drink... because so many people go without. We took this picture of the water (which many use a dump) in Ethiopia. We drove by this each day on our way to Bunte's care center. After a week or so of brushing my teeth with bottled water and putting tape over mouth while I took a shower, I had a new appreciation for just turning on the tap. Even though I was simply "inconvienced" by this, I had the means to purchase clean drinking water. Meanwhile, many others die each day from disease, such as Cholera, Giardia, and Typhoid, which are spread by contaminated water. When I first met my own child, he was suffering from preventable parasites and bacteria that he would not have had if there had been fresh water for him to drink.
5. I am thankful for my wonderful cousin Willow. She is truly a delight and has impacted me more than she will ever know. This year Willow rode Daisy, my pony, during the show season. Tonight was her night to shine as she and Daisy took the spotlight at the pony medal finals. They looked great, got ALL of their leads, and even took a victory gallop. A 5th place finish never looked so good! I am grateful for my sweet pony and the joy she has brought to our lives, but I am even more grateful for my wonderful cousin, Willow! I was so proud of her tonight!
6. Today is Orphan Sunday. It is estimated that there are 163 million orphans around the world. My heart aches for each little one waiting and hoping for a place to call home and parents to snuggle them to sleep. Tonight, on Orphan Sunday, my oldest son asked me to snuggle with him for the very first time. Payton always asks me for a "little tiny lay down," but Bunte has not...until tonight. I snuggled for bit, amazed at the changes in my son from 11 months ago until today. Our attachment journey has been a long one and we still have quite a ways to go. However, I am thankful for the breakthroughs, both big and small.
7. Bunte got his flu shot today. I am so grateful that we have access to basic medical care, such as vaccines. The flu could be deadly to Payton because of his asthma and it is deadly for so many in the world. It breaks my heart to think of all the people, esp. children, that die unnecessarily because they cannot get vaccinated. So grateful that my entire family is now protected from the flu.
8. For another great appointment with my midwife. She said all looks good! I am grateful that I have pre-natal care so readily available.
10. I am grateful for my precious fur-babies. They are a hassle to care for and can make me oh-so-mad, but they love us no matter what and are so loyal, kind, and loving to my entire family. They make us laugh every day with their silly antics. God knew what he was doing when He blessed humans with a "best friend." Jackie, LuLu and Carmen are a part of our family.
12. For a great big extended family. We aren't without our drama from time to time, but it was so great to grow up with so many cousins!
13. Today I am grateful that an adult adoptee that I had never met before chose to share her adoption story with us and ENCOURAGE us adoptive parents. What a blessing!
14. For a warm and cozy house.
15. I am grateful that today I was able to register with the public cord blood donation bank at Duke University. I hope that all works out well and that someone in need of this unique donation will benefit greatly.
16. Today I am grateful for family time. We have been VERY busy lately. Life just keeps passing by while we zoom from one thing to the next. But tonight we were all home for a "quiet" evening. (Ha, life with two boys is NEVER quiet.) Tonight is Wednesday, so it is "belly picture" night (31 weeks). I got ready for my usual photo shoot when the boys decided they needed to jump in as well. They stuffed their shirts and strutted over to stand next to me. It was so fun watching my boys tonight. I love them... all three of them.
17. Today I am grateful for God's protection. As I was driving home from work today a car hit me in an intersection. She completely blew through a red light. Half a second and I literally would have been smashed and most likely, killed. The only real damage was to the right side of the car and we both walked away unscathed. Immediately, one of my former high school teachers stopped to assist me, and my mom, godmother, and Wes appeared shortly thereafter. We spent some time ironing out the details with the police and insurance companies, then I headed home and called my midwife, per Wes' advice. She sent me to the hospital. I spent a few hours at the hospital so they could monitor Baby for any stress, and he appeared to be healthy and active. Wes picked me up and took me home. I walked in the house and tiptoed in the boys room and gave them great big kisses. I am thankful to be able to give them a kiss goodnight one more time. Life is precious.
18. Today I am so very thankful for my Payton. A child that knows he is loved and is comfortable with who he is. Payton has always been willing to be "his own" person. I had the privilege of picking up Payton from pre-school for the very first time today (I am usually at work). The children were studying Thanksgiving and made posters for all the things they were thankful for. On one poster every child (but mine) was grateful for either their mom or dad. Payton was grateful for "Lightening McQueen." On another, the children said which body part they were thankful for. All of the children responded their hands, back, legs, arms... but mine. Payton was grateful for his butt. Lovely son. So, there, proudly displayed on the wall, is the evidence of my very independent son. It is days like these that I am reminded that sometimes even though my child looks nothing like me, there is so much about him that resembles me. I love my Payton.
19. Today I am grateful for my best friends Erin, Meghan and Ashley. They hosted the most perfect baby shower for me today. It was low key and intimate, with all my favorite people. They even made all my favorite foods (crab dip, spinach dip, spring rolls with shrimp, strawberry icing topped cupcakes...mmmmmmm). So wonderfully wonderful. I am blessed that we have been able to maintain our relationship over the years, regardless of distance. And I am grateful for all the people who attended to show their love and support for our family as we grow...again. (And I would be remiss if I did not also add that I am grateful for all the ...diapers!)
20. Today I am grateful for our local Habesha community. We are so blessed that our tiny town has such a large community of Eritreans and Ethiopians. Today I watched Bunte playing soccer with a teenager from Ethiopia who has been so kind to him and such a role model. I am grateful that Bunte has so many wonderful, local Ethiopian families around to share their culture and love with him. What a blessing!
21. For a God that never fails me, even when I am weak, He is strong.
22. Tonight I attended our annual cross country end of season awards banquet. Although I am not a full time assistant coach anymore, I am grateful that I am able to participate, encourage, and coach when I can and give back to the sport I love so much. I am also grateful for the seven years I have been able to work with the head coach. She is a fantastic coach and a fantastic friend. Way to go, Coach Rinker and SHS CC!
23. Reconnecting with old friends.
24. Thanksgiving Day is here! This is our first and last Thanksgiving as a family of four because next year we hope to celebrate as a family of five. I loved that Bunte was here this year. Last year we were waiting on his embassy date in Ethiopia. He was able to watch the Macy's Day parade for the first time and to meet some extended family members for the first time. I was so happy and so grateful for my family. What a fun day!
25. Holiday traditions can be such fun for families. Bunte asked over and over again if we could put up our tree. Last year I refused to put it up until he was home and though he may not realize it, I think this was a milestone for him. It was one of the first "family" things we did after he came home. He eagerly decorated each branch and made our tree so beautiful. I am thankful for a little boy who is finding more and more comfort and security in what it means to be family.26. Today I am grateful that I was able to go to the UVA/Tech game. Although my school (UVA) lost, Wes and I had a great time together and enjoyed the view from a suite, courtesy of family friends! I was also able to get in some hangout time with my cousin Cristen and her precious little baby, Waverly.
27. A second Thanksgiving! We spent our evening dining with Wes's family and enjoying a second meal. We are blessed to have such wonderful families and delicious food to eat.
28. Today was our last child birth class. We toured the hospital and asked our last minute questions to the staff. As we walked around I just couldn't help but think about how blessed we are to have such wonderful medical care available. We are also thankful for a Wes's mom. She spent the evening with the boys and entertained them.
29. I am grateful for my mom who helped me iron out the details of the car accident with the insurance company and has been an extra help in dealing with some of life's unexpected challenges over the last few months :)
30. Well, I guess this is the last one. After school today I met with my long term. She is a former colleague of mine and it was so reassuring to have a chance to meet with her and prepare as I hand over my classes to her when the new addition arrives. (Baby boy, did you hear that? I am ready now... grow for another week or so and then make your grand appearance....) So thankful for the great staff at my school. They are FANTASTIC!