Week Five: I am immensely grateful that my family recovered from The Plague of 2014.
It began at the end of January. I was the first one to get sick, and I tried to ignore it, but it knocked me off my feet for four straight days, and still, a month later, I am not 100%. During that time, I was a terrible, whiny patient, and Mr. Arndt did a fabulous job of taking care of me. He also got sick, and so did Emily Rose. We were a mess. If it weren't for forced bed rest, a patient and understanding boss, and terrific doctors (Dr. Eric Lambeth at Red River Family Practice and Dr. Wes Glazener, Best Pediatrician in Austin), we might have lost our minds. The only good thing that came out of this forced hiatus was it gave me the opportunity to start Downton Abbey. When the Spanish flu hit Crawley family in season 2, I was right there with them, rolling around in bed, moaning, and feeling very sorry for myself.
The photo below about sums up that experience. Pardon the hideous photo of me in the smack dab middle of being terribly sick, but this shows what kind of man I married. Sick himself, he drove to Walgreens to find just the right variety of Robitussin that doesn't make me hallucinate. The Facetime session that ensued was hilarious, because it was half of Tim's chin, and half it was a dizzying view of all of my cough syrup options. I spent the entire session complaining that they didn't have the one without "D," because I am paranoid about taking OTC drugs. It was even better because this Facetime session came with a canned Stevie Ray Vaughn that was playing at Walgreens. I would have laughed, but I couldn't because when I did, I'd cough so hard I would see stars. I'm just grateful we survived it, and thankful for everyone who put up with me during that dreadful few weeks.
Week 6: I'm thankful for my job at InsideView. Because of where I work, I am challenged daily (in a good way). My job challenges me to work harder than I've ever worked, but working hard is different when you truly believe in what you are doing. Watching my company grow -- even when it's messy -- is one of the most exciting things about my job. When I feel frustrated, I have people who actually listen to me. When I have a suggestion that makes sense (some of them don't, for sure!), there are people who will help support those ideas and do something with them. That's extremely rewarding. When I want to grow and learn more, there are mentors. From the CEO down, I work for an organization that is filled with passion and commitment. I've made friendships there that will last a lifetime. That, and we have a guy who showed up wearing a chicken hat to work. If you ever run into this guy, ask him to do a whiteboard exercise for you. It will blow you away.
Week 7: I'm thankful for girl trips with my mom. My relationship with my mom will get an entire post devoted to her (around Mother's Day, if I plan that correctly!), but toward the end of my plague recovery, I took the train up to Dallas for a little writing time and a girl's getaway with my mom to see Sting and Paul Simon. We stayed at the coolest little boutique hotel in Dallas, the Belmont Hotel, a place so cool I almost don't want to tell you about it because I kind of hope it stays a best-kept little secret. After a glass of wine in their simple, lovely lobby bar, we had a delicious dinner at Smoke, ran into a girl from my hometown who's a writer and really fabulous. She was also there with a friend for the Sting and Paul Simon concert. We shared a cab over to the venue, and in a crazy turn of events, the usher upgraded our seats from the nosebleeds to seats that were simply perfect. I'm a happily married woman, and so is my mother, but getting that close to Sting was a thrill of a lifetime for both of us.
This pic is a bit blurry, but who cares. Paul Simon still has a great voice, but bless his heart, he looks like death warmed over. Sting, on the other hand, is doing just fine.
Week 8: I'm Grateful for Handwritten Valentines. Mr. Arndt's birthday is on Valentine's, so we really get into Valentine's at our house. However, one of the things that I fret over is having enough time to make sure the kids have handwritten notes. They'll love the money and the candy and all of that, but I think it's especially important for kids to read -- in handwritten letters -- how much their parents care about them. I have boxes of saved handwritten letters saved. My mother in law, stepfather, mother and sister still send them, and those, among the love letters that Tim and I send each other, and the handwritten notes from my children, are my most prized possessions.
This is Emily Rose on Valentine's morning, reading the Valentine Tim and I gave her. The same day, I received a Valentine from my beautiful stepdaughter Stephanie that was so beautiful it validated every minute I've spent being her stepmother. I urge you to take the time to write one if you haven't in a while.
Week 9: I'm grateful that I get to watch my friends' kids grow up. I have friends of all ages, so many of my close friends are just now starting their families. When I married Tim, I married into an instafamily, so I've been around kids since I was in my mid-20s. Now that two of my stepchildren are at college and Emily Rose is no longer a baby, I am really enjoying watching my younger friends start their families. When they come to me for advice, I am tickled about that because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I started out as a parent, and often still don't, but in some ways, I feel like I can dish out a little advice here and there, and that makes me feel special.
This is just one of many pictures of the little ones that I am watching grow up before my eyes. I love that my amazing girlfriends Amy, Amy and Joanne have started families. These two kids on the left belong to my friend Amy. We had a play date the other day, and the kids spotted the ice cream truck (one of the creepiest things ever). Amy's daughter (far left) ordered a "Two Ball Screwball," which we decided sounded more like a Mardi Gras drink than a kid's ice cream treat. Her brother (middle) loved his rainbow snow cone, but was also partially obsessed with the Two Ball Screwball. It got really funny when the kids ran off to play and my friend Amy accidentally dropped the leftover rainbow snow cone, then tried to lie to her son when he asked where it went. She's a terrible liar, but sometimes, you have to make up a little while lie to prevent a meltdown. We parents get it, no worries!
My kid (far right) loves being around these little ones because she gets to be the oldest with all of the answers. I can't look at this picture without smiling -- it's childhood innocence, pure and simple, and it makes me happy.
I'm glad I'm caught up. I have a LOT to be grateful for, and this project is great because when you are doing it, it's dedicated time to positive thought, and it's impossible not to smile when you are counting your blessings. Good times.