Five Things Thankful

It has been a few weeks since my last Five Things Thankful post.  I have so many things to be thankful for–way more than five.  For everyone’s sake, though, I will keep my list short.

Because good news is good for all of us (but not too much good news).

1.  I am all done entering stores until next Tuesday.

I think I am all done, anyway.  Yesterday afternoon I declared I was all done shopping until the Tuesday after Christmas, and then I ended up having to go to a store today after all.  This time I think I really am done.

I enjoy purchasing Christmas gifts, even though most of my shopping is done online these days.  I also like the challenge of finding bargain prices at the grocery store.  My time is pretty valuable the closer we get to Christmas, though, and navigating aisles and check-out registers is no longer an activity I enjoy.  The crowds are too big and tempers tend to get a bit shorter.

Plus, things like this tend to happen.  Yes, my child has a coyote on her head.  The dead animal is not hers, so please do not send me nasty emails.  And she was at the grocery store.

Very intentionally, I finished up my Christmas shopping with over a week to spare.  Yesterday I wrote our family’s menu through December 27.  Then our youngest daughter and I went on a marathon shopping trip around town picking up groceries, pet food, and anything else we needed.

Now I can focus on more important things in life.  Stuff like children’s orchestra concerts, spending time relaxing with family, delivering cookie plates, and sleep.

2.  The girls’ well-child visits went well.

Every December, the girls and I make a lengthy trip to the pediatrician for their annual well-child visits.  I find it more efficient to do one very long family visit once a year than shorter check-ups for each kid at three different times.

Everyone is healthy and happy, especially the child that thought she would be three feet tall for the rest of her life.  Not only has she grown over three inches this year, but she is even taller than our vertically challenged pediatrician.  Apparently Natalie is on pace to hit 5′ 5″ by the time she is done growing, and that makes her smile.

3.  We have snow for Christmas.

Although I have lived in the upper Midwest my entire life, I have never adjusted to cold temperatures.  Todd says I am more like a cat than a human this time of year.  Which is true to an extent.  If I were given a warm fireplace and fuzzy blanket, I could probably curl up with a stack of books for a few days without complaint.

The cold is not my friend, but I do like snow in the winter.  This fall was so mild for us that our community had no snow until very recently.  And since we are living in a state of permanent deep-freeze now, the snow will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

It is still early enough in the season that the snow looks pretty.  Our youngest daughter loves going outside to play in the snow and burn off steam.  And I can enjoy watching from the comfortable warmth of my cozy living room.

4.  Our homeschool is on Christmas vacation.

I enjoy teaching our kids.  Homeschool is fun.  So are breaks.

Because of our youngest daughter’s learning disabilities, she and I had to forgo summer vacation so that she could get caught up.  Aside from our trip to Disney this summer, she and I have not had any breaks that were more than a week in length since last December.  And since Disney was just as much work as it was a vacation, I am fairly certain it did not provide sufficient relaxation from teaching.

2016 was a good year of learning, but it was a loooooooong one.  The girls and I are enjoying a well-needed respite.  I have caught up on tasks, the kids have slept in, and we are enjoying a much slower pace.

Tomorrow is Todd’s last day of work before his Christmas vacation.  Thursday is our last day of music and dance classes.  And then?  We get to enjoy a whole week and a half of being able to do whatever we want as a family.

5.  Almost one year later, I am still gluten and dairy free.

This seems a little crazy to me–that I am thankful for depriving myself of food.  But I am.  Two years ago, my doctor told me that my lactose intolerance really meant I should avoid as much dairy as possible.  She also said that my chronic eczema and acne meant I should give serious consideration to giving up gluten as well.

I promptly ignored her.  I mean, who wants to give up pizza?  Or pumpkin pie?  Or Reese’s peanut butter cups?  Not me.  So I consulted a dermatologist who prescribed me medications that made things worse.  So I went back to the dermatologist, and they offered up different medications with side effects that threatened to be even worse than those I already had.  A year later, I relented on the food issue.  Giving up gluten and dairy seemed smarter than living the way I was.

I still really miss traditional food.

But I do not miss the acne.  Or the eczema.  Or the stomachaches.  Or the brain fog (a year ago Todd and I were both concerned I had early-onset dementia).  As much as I like pizza, and I really, really like pizza, I like being healthy more.

I am continuing to find alternatives, and some are pretty good.  I am slowly coming to accept my vegan, gluten-free pizza options.  Once in a while, I even get to eat dessert.

And because I am doing this, I feel better than I have in years.  So it is worth it.  But if someone out there knows of a shredded cheese alternative that does not taste like the smell of cat food, I would be grateful.

December has been a good month.  We have been busy and we have been blessed.  I am thankful for the opportunities to share this time with my wonderful family.