I have so much to be thankful for. We all do, really. I have enjoyed seeing the daily posts on facebook. It's a good reminder to soak up the good and focus on the positive in life. I wish it was like that every day though. Every month. Not just at Thanksgiving. I had planned on doing this blog to list the things I am thankful all at once even though I thought of it every day when reading others.

So here we go- 

1. God and my faith- It is my foundation, my rock. I honestly don't know what I would do or the person I would be without knowing that He is up there protecting us, loving us, and guiding us every day. He makes life possible and worth living every day. 

2. My husband- After a decade together, I can honestly say I am more in love with him today than I was when we said "I do". He is the best husband and father I know. He takes care of us in every way. My shoulder to cry on, my best friend, my laughing buddy, my confidant, etc. He works so hard for us. I love you, Graden. 

3. Our boys- the two here and the one on the way. Being a wife and mother is my greatest joy. They have taught me so much. They make me laugh. Hunter is so sensitive, smart, and sweet natured. Henry has a great sense of humor and is full of personality. They are healthy and happy. What more could I ask for? 

4. My parents- My mom who is one of my best friends. She gives solid advice and someone I can go one day without talking to even if it's just a short text. I am the mother I am because of her example. She took care of us and made sure she was preparing us for the "real world". I am so grateful for that. 
My dad who is smart, funny, and giving. I knew what I wanted in a husband because of what he was and is to this day. He is the person I want to be like most. 

5. My siblings- my built in friends. We are always there for each other. We laugh together about the past. We celebrate with each other. They know me best and still love me. I feel the most comfortable with you guys. I love you Amber, Sam, Jage, Peter, Gabby, and Colette! 

6. My in-laws- see number 2. I know my husband is the person he is after being raised by them. Graden is so much like his dad and it makes me laugh when he acts like him especially when frustrated. I can see why Graden choose me to be his wife when I look at his mother- she is strong, independent, and cares a great deal about being a homemaker. 

7. My friends- the old and the new. You've seen me through phases of my life with words of support and advice. I am especially grateful for my current group of friends- they are truly great women. Fun, smart, giving, thoughtful, etc. I love you guys!!! Especially the best of them- Sara Todd and Catherine Kousma. My sisters from another mother. You know me and I can trust you. 

8. My home- I have a roof over my head. But not just a roof- it is my sanctuary. I love coming home and feel comfortable here. It's pretty and clean and ours. And in 12 years or less, will be paid for! 

9. My health- I have so many people in my life that have been through health scares or deal with daily issues. I don't take it fore-granted that I feel good most days, rarely get sick, and only go to the doctor for routine checkups. I hope this never changes!! 

10. My church- the place I get fed. A great pastoral staff and a good church family to hang with a couple times a week. We cry, learn, and laugh together. 

11. Quitting work this past year- It has been a dream come true. I love having my days free to go places, bake, do chores, and spend quality time with my kids. I am more relaxed, happier, and feel like I am doing what I was born to do- be a wife and mom.

12. Provision- we have a roof over our head, food on our table, our bills are paid, and we have money left over. I don't take this fore-granted. We never have to worry about money and for that, I am very grateful.

13. The internet/ Facebook- For me, it's my social outlet. I connect with family and friends on a daily basis from the comfort of my home. I couldn't delete my account- it just brings me too much joy. I learn about things, shop, check the weather/news- all from the comfort of my home.

14. Books- I love to read and it's something I've had more time for lately. We don't have cable and this is my past time. I love getting engrossed in a good book and laughing out loud or crying. My imagination is always better at painting the story than any movie.

15. Coffee- my drug. I can't go a day without it. It is my wake up call. My go to to pep me up or calm me down. I love the smell, the taste, the flavors. Nothing like a cup of joe!

16. My minivan- I have always wanted one especially after having children. So much room. So many cup holders. Seats for plenty and cargo room galore. The doors open by themselves with the click of a button which comes in handy since my hands are normally full! It could get better gas mileage but I'll take it.

17. A great city to live in- everything I need is within 5 miles of my house. It's clean, friendly, and full of great people. Good schools, good museums, libraries, malls, restaurants, concerts, etc. I have lived here my whole life and have no intention of moving. Bonus- both of our families live here too!

18. My husband's employer and job- He likes what he does. Great pay and benefits. Close to home. He's treated with respect and is constantly learning new skills. And he can still be a family man.

19. The Coopers- my client of 8 years. Good friends. Practically family. Katie and Thomas- my kid's best friends. Love you guys and happy to see you most days of the week.

20. Spotify and Pandora- I listen to one or both every day. Get to learn new artists or listen to the ones I love. All for FREE.

21. Shopping- Just got some great deals for Black Friday and Christmas. A good excuse to get together with people I love like my family or girlfriends (Sara Todd!). I also have done a ton of online shopping this year- thank you Kohls and Amazon.

22. Candles and my Scentsy pots- they make my house smell good and homey.

23. My iPhone- always connected to the ones I love. Convenient. Easy to use. Pretty much by my side at any given moment!

24. Things that make me feel pretty and confident- spanx, make up, my hair stylist, cute clothes and scarves. I know beauty comes from within- blah, blah, blah... but these things sure do help. A husband that frequently tells me I am beautiful.

25. The seasons- I don't love extremes and experience both but they are all beautiful. The rain and freshness of spring- a new beginning. Summer with it's fun of swimming/parks/being outdoors and wearing less clothing and flip flops (Yay for less laundry!). Fall with it's beautiful colors and mildness- a truly a relaxing time of year. Winter with it's pretty snows and a time of togetherness and fun holidays.

26. Food- I love to eat. All kinds of food! Chinese, American, Mexican. It makes me happy and frequently it brings people together and I love that too! Also blessed with great metabolism so I can pretty much eat what I want when I want. Lord, please don't let that change EVER.

27. Great doctors and teachers- the ones who take care of me and my family when I can't.

28. Freedoms- freedom of religion and speech. The right to choose what we do, when we do it, and with whom (most of the time). It's hard to remember some people don't have those basic rights and privileges.

29. Things/People that help me relax- Prayer, family, friends, wine, a good book, yummy food, coffee, sweaters/blankets, music, etc. Sometimes, we all need to just chill out.

30. A million reasons and things to be thankful for- they are all around us. Every day. We are so blessed.

An island- far, far away

I am blessed. I don't have much to complain about- really.  But sometimes, I just want to run away. Away from the drama. The expectations. The bills. The discipline. The chores. The cold (I know, I know- it really hasn't gotten that cold yet...) I wish we lived in a world where we all get along and agree all the time but that simply isn't reality. I can't please everyone all the time although I try my best. I guess I really just want one day not to be overwhelmed by ANYTHING.

So my solution is an island. I am not even sure if I am alone or not in this fantasy.... but I do know this- it's quiet. And peaceful. And warm. And expects nothing of me except than to just be there. I can read. I can watch chick flicks. I can eat whatever I want. I can listen to good music. I can sleep, a lot.

And I know I can't have that. I am mother. A wife. A friend. A sister. A daughter. Etc. I love all those roles I play. I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving and a long weekend with only a couple things on the calendar. My husband is even taking off an extra day and will be home for 5 days straight. I plan on trying to do some of the things mentioned above and take time to reflect on all the things I am thankful for. I'll take what I can get.

32 weeks, 6 days

That is how far along I am. In 7 weeks (hopefully), we will have a baby boy. Our lives will change once again. We will loose a little bit of our freedom. We will gain another life to enrich, teach, and love. We will stay home more. My boobs will hurt. My body will be lumpy and misshapen. My heart will soar. The tears of joy and being overwhelmed will overflow.

I will more than likely chop off all my hair like I did the last two times. I will have someone to cuddle and love on whenever I want without protest. I will have to change diapers again. Cereal will be served for dinner. I will do laundry and put little clothes up to my face to breath in their sweet scent. I will kiss tiny feet. Lullabies will be sung and listened to.

I will awaken at least a couple times a night to little cries. Binks will be found in my purse, coat, pants, diaper bag, and on tables throughout the house. A spit up rag will be my new fashion accessory. I will have to wear Spanx again. I will anxiously wait for the first smile or coo.

Oh yes, seven more weeks. Baby boy, mama is waiting, wanting, and wishing for you.

Crying over spilled milk

I've been weepy lately... crying over lots of things. Nothing bad per say, some good. I've always thought that the most emotional states of pregnancy are the first and last ten weeks. And let's face it, I am an emotional person anyways so throw some extra hormones in there, I'm bound to be a little loopy.

-I cried because things are so good right now, I'm scared of something bad happening. I know it's irrational. I have no reason to think anything detrimental will happen but what if? I don't want this bubble to burst.

- I am sad that my 7 year old can independently take a shower, wash his own hair, and get dressed all without me.

-I've cried at the show Parenthood more times than I can count. That show has a way of reaching into my heart and squeezing really tight until tears pour out. If you have parents, kids, or are married- watch it.

- I've cried for and about the people of Africa. Our pastor recently made a trip there and the stories he's told have touched me more than anything has in a while. A woman who makes twelve dollars a month weaving baskets. One basket takes three days and she kept trying to give them away when he was there. A group of slave farmers offering their crops, their food, their one possession to the Lord. WOW. And their genuine heart of praise and worship. They give Him everything. This is rocking my world right now.

- I get choked up every time Henry talks to the baby. " Hi Harrison, I missed you" when I pick him up from Sunday school. " Goodnight baby Harrison, I will see you tomorrow" as he pats my belly. I could eat him up in these moments.

Eight more weeks of crying come Thursday plus postpartum. Get the kleenex.

My nemesis

I have a nemesis. He stands about 38 inches tall and weighs roughly 38 pounds. He will be 4 in January. He loves superheroes, pajamas, and bath time. His name is Henry. He is my son.

 He looks so innocent, doesn't he?

When I was thinking of a title for this blog, the first word that came to mind was "nemesis". The definition goes a little something like this in the dictionary-

Nemesis (nem e ses)

a) one that inflicts retribution or vengeance.
b) a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent.

Ok so maybe it isn't verbatim but on certain days at certain times, he is exactly that. I even used the words " if you are nice to me, I will be nice to you" today. Who says that? To their child?! This mom! He fights nap- and while he is fighting slowly peels wall paper off the wall around his bed, plays with the blinds, sings, and kicks the wall.  And he does this with a vengeance (see definition above). I could practically pull my hair out. I have tried EVERYTHING but given up on him because I know he is capable of listening and being a good boy.

And then he wakes up and we have this age old conversation about how he has lost privileges and how if he had just laid there quietly while falling asleep it wouldn't be a problem. He knows this. I know he knows this. He is super smart (TOO smart). A minute later, he is giggling bouncing around the room saying yelling "bouncing Bob!" I shake my head, roll my eyes, and laugh. Life would be so boring without my children. They have taught me more about myself and stretched me more than anyone or anything in my life. I love them more than life itself. The thought of them not being here brings me to tears. So does nap time and tantrums- wish me luck tomorrow.


Do you ever have days that you just soak up all the good all day long? It's nothing special but somehow you are just more aware of all the blessings and all the good that has come your way. Today was one of those days.

Today was a day for rest. A day for pumpkin muffins. A day to leave the windows cracked so you could feel a nice fall breeze. A day for candles. A day for fresh laundry.

A day for jammies, legos, and blanket forts. A day for crockpots. A day for reading. A day for yoga pants. It was nothing special but oh what a good day it has been.

Our first heroes

Recently, my dearest of friends, Catherine, lost her father to cancer. It was hard to watch her and her family go through such painful time and being powerless to stop it. What can you say but I am sorry? I wish there was something I could do. It's not fair. I'm praying for you.

Our parents are our first heroes. They kiss our bumps, bandage our scrapes, and check under the bed for monsters. They teach us, love us, and provide for us. They fail sometimes but get up every day and try again. They are our first loves.

Catherine and her papa 

Watching her go through this time has only reminded me of how much I love my own parents. My dad,  my rock. The measure of a true man- an amazing husband and father. My husband, Graden, had big shoes to fill. He is my Words with Friends buddy, my politics sounding board, my all around "Mr. Fix It", etc. I tease him about his belly or the fact that I have inherited his wrinkled forehead- thanks, dad! I love how he answers the phone "Jess, mobile" or watching him go through the routine of saying goodbye to our boys- pound it, head butt, raspberry, hug and kiss. 

My parents, Jim and Sheila, who will be married for 30 years on October 15. Wow! 

My mom, my best friend. My advice giver, shoulder to cry on, and trusted advocate. She's raised seven children. Seven! I have trouble keeping sane with two. She's the only other person I talk to every day besides my husband. That I have to talk to even if it's just a text checking in. Our children adore her. Both have stated that she is their favorite time and time again. How could they not with how much she cuddles, spoils, and loves them. She has been through more than most and remains strong. 

Grandparents day at preschool 

I don't know how to live without them. The thought brings tears to my eyes and a heaviness to my heart. I wish I knew why God decided to take Catherine's dad, Dan. He was going to be 58 in just two months. Too soon. It's not fair. But this is my prayer- 

God, give my friend peace. Let her know it's OK to be sad and angry. Let her know I am here. Don't take her mom for a long time. Please, oh please. Give her time to understand Your plan for their family.   And God, grant me at least 30 more years with my parents. I know it's a lot to ask but You know we need them. I need them. Rest in peace, Dan. Watch over my friend for she means the world to me. 

Dan Halligan "Papa" 
11/18/1954 - 10/2/2012