A mom, a dad, and two nutty kids.

Today Sucks – So Let’s Be Thankful!!

This morning was a little crappy. Yesterday my Mazda5 started making a really loud rattling noise, so I got off the highway and to the closest gas station, where I waited for Ian to come and pick us up. This morning I brought it to my mechanic, who had a look and a listen and informed me that I was now in the market for either a new engine or a new car – my call. Le Sigh.

Anyway, I’ve been sitting here moping about 1. How can I possibly afford a new engine (or a new car)? 2. How on earth am I going to get the kids to and from school tomorrow?  3. Why didn’t I notice sooner that there was something wrong? 6. Etc. Etc. Etc.

And then suddenly I thought to myself, I’m pretty goddamn lucky! I’m sitting here in my heated house when some people who have houses can’t afford to heat them and others don’t have homes at all. I’m worrying about the fact that I can’t drive to the grocery store when a) I’m fit and healthy and could walk there; and b) I have enough food in the house that I don’t actually have to go anyway. I’m worrying about a car that I don’t owe anything on when just being able to drive a car, let alone owning one outright, is a bloody luxury. I had to cancel Ben’s violin lesson tonight because I can’t drive him there. Violin lesson? How many kids get violin lessons??

So I’ve decided to set a timer for 1 minute and in that time write down everything that I can think of that I am thankful for. As they say on Top Chef, “Time starts…now!”

1. I have a working computer to write this on and a reliable internet connection.

2. I have beautiful, articulate, gifted children with no medical issues.

3. I have a loving, supportive husband, who comforted me on the phone this morning when I was blaming myself for the car.

4. I have people whom I can ask for help at a moment’s notice – like the woman whom we met when she used to work at our farmers’ market who is picking Ben up for me and the friend I called for advice about the car yesterday when I couldn’t reach Ian and who offered to lend me his car to finish my trip to Toronto.

…1 minute is up…

5. My fridge, freezer, and cupboard are full to overflowing, even though I haven’t been to the grocery store for a week.

6. I have credit and savings enough that though it will be an inconvenience, I can get through this.

…2 minutes is up…

7. I have a funny, active 3 year-old who is “bugging” me as I do this, giggling and pulling my hand away from the keyboard.

8. I have a skilled and sympathetic mechanic who looked at my car this morning even though he was swamped, had his son give me and Molly a ride home, and is going to find me the best deal on a used engine that he can.

9. I am healthy and happy – really happy – and since my depression is treated I actually can think about the positives in my life instead of being overwhelmed by the one negative!

10. I have to keep resetting my timer because it keeps running out before I finish thinking of blessings!

…3 minutes…

I mean, seriously – could anyone look at this kid and not grin back?

80s Molly

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” Molly channeling the 80’s in her dance outfit.
©PicklesINK 2013

As Bif Naked would Tweet: “Word of the day: Gratitude *beam*”

~ karyn

What are you grateful for today?


Dear Neighbour (Ben’s Thank-You letter)

There is a house in our neighbourhood that is just…no other word to describe it…spectacular. It is on a massive corner lot and is known as “The Mayor’s House” due to its history, and every year the owner puts up the most amazing Christmas light display.

The first December that I noticed it, I raced home to get Ian and by the time we got back to the house they had been turned off…and off they stayed for weeks. “Karyn’s imaginary Christmas lights” became a running joke and I endured weeks of teasing before I finally dragged him over to the house in the daylight to triumphantly point out the thousands of tiny LED bulbs scattered over the many trees and shrubs on the property.

They finally turned on again for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and for the next 11 months we mused over whether this was going to be a yearly tradition – Was this incredible display meant to be a secret known only to those select few who happened to drive by on one of the three days it was randomly turned on?

Lights 2

One view of the property showing lights on trees, a wreath on the gate, and the lighted eaves. ©PicklesINK 2012

Happily, the following year and those subsequent have seen the lights on far more frequently! I’m afraid the pictures really don’t do it justice because it’s impossible the capture the extent of the display in one shot, but all of the trees and shrubs on the property are strung with tiny LED lights in all different colours, the eaves of the multi-peaked roof are hung with white lights, the two large driveway gates are adorned with huge pine wreaths, and one tall pine tree by the house is decorated with baubles and ribbons. Above it all shines a large star, seemingly suspended in mid-air but in reality mounted on a pole atop the tallest tree. When driving up the hill from downtown, all you can see is that single star suspended in the sky and the effect is truly breathtaking.

Lights 1

Second view, showing the tallest multicoloured tree, lighted eaves, and the star on the right.
©PicklesINK 2012

Needless to say, Ben and Molly are pretty enamoured of the whole display, and throughout the Christmas season any time we came home in the dark the anticipatory conversation took place: “Do you think the lights are going to be on?” “I hope so!” “I love those lights!” “I see the star!” “Yay, the boo-ti-ful lights are on!” We have been talking a lot this season as a family about the idea of gratitude and Ben is a big fan of thank-you notes, so when he suggested that he could write a thank-you card to the owner of the house with the lights, I agreed that it was an excellent idea (Woo-hoo! Voluntary practice for my reluctant printer!), and away he went.

Ben writing letter

Ben, hard at work writing his letter, with the list of words he had requested spelled beside him.
©PicklesINK 2012

The finished letter, Ben’s original composition, read:

to Neighbour

Thank you for the beautiful lights.

Me and my sis love to look at them when we drive by.

Do you use a remote to turn them on?

From Ben and Molly

Finished letter

Completed letter and card.
©PicklesINK 2012

When he was finished, we folded the letter into a Christmas card, walked down to the house, and dropped it in the mail box. Who knows if we will get a reply, but Ben was very proud of himself and hopefully he brightened someone’s day!

~ karyn

PS – Readers who are Angie Nussey fans should have this song in their heads by now and readers who are not yet Angie Nussey fans should definitely check her out!

How do you feel about thank-you cards? Do you write them? Do you expect them?