Monday, April 30, 2012

4-24-2012 Chocolate Chip Cookies

After work, in the evening after all she had to do, Jenny had time for one more thing, to whip up a batch of from scratch chocolate chip cookies.  There are fancier cookies, and there are healthier cookies, but chocolate chip cookies to me are the best especially when the chocolate is still a little bit melty.

I'm not sure why exactly, I guess it is the comfort cookie for me.

I'm grateful for chocolate chip cookies and as well as the people that make them.

4-23-2012 My Hygienist

Today was semi annual dental cleaning day.  I used to really dread going, but now I am only slightly apprehensive.  My hygienist has a good mix of praise and pointing out what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong, is mostly pleasant and generally makes the time go by pretty quickly.

I certainly don't dread going any more which means I might get to keep my teeth for a long time.

So, for those and maybe some other reasons I am forgetting, I am grateful for my dental hygienist!

4-22-2012 Spring planting

I had the urge to buy a few plants and plant them.  Where last years plants used to be were just the brown remnants and some weeds.  I made some room, pulled out the old stuff and some more weeds, including the wild vines that were starting to cover the back fence.

I just put in a few things, some raspberry bushes, a pepper plant and a new tomato plant.  But, while doing this discovered some wild blackberries growing behind the fence.  I cut a path back there and was able to pick a few, hopefully I'll get some more.  I hope to get some more plants put in , little by little.

Spending time in the back yard, putting in these new plants and clearing out the old stuff felt, for lack of a better word, good.

I'm grateful for spring planting.

4-21-2012 Garlic

Jenny took the boys out to their Parkour class.  She left out the recipe for dinner, so I thought I'd see if I could prepare it.  I kind of chickened out (pun intended, it was chicken), but I did separate the garlic into cloves and peeled each one.  Just getting this far filled the house with a pleasant garlic smell.

When Jenny cooked the dinner, the smell was even stronger and brings back memories of so many good meals featuring lots and lots of garlic.

With this dinner, the cloves turned soft and had a mild taste. 

So, today I was grateful for garlic.

4-20-2012 Tomatoes

I am grateful for tomatoes, from the store, or the back yard, from a can, or made into spaghetti or pizza sauce. 

Jenny's dad gave us a hanging tomato planter which I've put new plants in the past two falls, so there have been fresh tomatoes right outside the back door. 

It started falling apart, so I didn't replant it this spring but found a big huge tomato plant in a basket at Walmart for just 5.00 which I've hung up and have already eaten a couple of the tomatoes with more on the way.

Sometimes I pick these tomatoes and Thomas likes to snack on them.

4-19-2012 Rain

It has been a bit dry around here compared to what we usually get, but there is some rain on the way.  Florida depends a lot on rain, like most places do.

Rain also refreshes and cools us.  It helps to dampen the pollen which is at a peak right now.

Good clean, cool water falling down from the sky, something to be grateful for!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

4-18-2012 Vultures

Yes, that's right vultures.  They get a pretty bad rap.  And metaphorically speaking, are not well liked.  But, real life vultures are pretty amazing.  They are quickly on the scene to clean up the unfortunate deer, racoon, or other animal that didn't quite make it across the road.  Someone would have to clean up the mess if the vultures were around.

I don't think they are creepy or ugly, I think they are pretty amazing.

I'm grateful for vultures every time I see them out doing their job.


I really enjoy and appreciate being able to look at the forecast whenever I want, look at the hour by hour for temperature and chance of rain.  You used to have to wait for the weather reports, now you can check whenever you need to.  It's pretty amazing.

My son is also fascinated with the weather and checks it each morning when he wakes up.  I guess a lot of people do also.

I'm grateful for

4-16-2012 Grapes

When we took the road trip to Miami recently, on the drive home we stopped at the grocery store for some snacks.  Andy I and picked out some pretty junky stuff, while Thomas decided that grapes would be a good snack, and they were.  It was a hot day and the grapes were a refreshing snack.

Grapes also make wine :-)

...and grape juice

... and grape jam

I am grateful for grapes!!

4-15-2012 Miniature Golf

Took the boys mini-golfing this morning.  It was a place called Congo River Golf, themed to exploring the Congo river.  Waterfalls, caves, old planes, wrecked boats, masks, shields and spears.
Great to be a kid for a morning.  Laughing and thinking about how fun it is and using your imagination.
They also had alligators that you can feed - small pieces of hot dogs on a string attached to a stick.  Don't try this out in the wild of course!!! But, at the mini-golf course in Florida, of course!  Enjoy and have fun.

Be grateful for mini golf courses.

4-14-2012 Trails

I did part of my run this morning on trails.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I was going to run on the paved bike path, but all of the sudden as we passed by a trailhead, I thought, why not. 

Trails have that allure.  Whenever I see one I kind of wonder, where does it go, who made it, how long has it been there?

They can be narrow or wide, in a field or in the woods.  You can see a small strip where the ground has been packed down and you see a small strip of dirt where the vegetation used to be.  Others have been there before, others who saw this trail and decided to take it.

It was a fun diversion and made me realize how grateful I am for trails.

4-13-2012 Biking To School

We live close enough to my son's school, that the best way to get there is on bike.  It's usually faster than driving and is a great way to enjoy the morning and spend a few extra minutes of time with him.  This morning was another breakfast with Dad morning which made it even better.

When I was growing up, it was pretty rare to bike to school (just did it a few times when I missed the bus), so I appreciate being able to do this with my kids.

I am grateful for biking to school.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4-12-2012 An average day

Since I am back-filling this blog again and am determined to not fall behind again, I try to think of something that happened that day that somehow stood out or popped into my head - maybe something we don't think about or appreciate but should be grateful for.

I wasn't coming up with anything, and maybe something did happen, but then I thought about it and maybe it was just an average day.

Average days are actually kind of rare, they are usually at least a little bit better or a little bit worse then average, along with the extremes of the days you wished would never end and the days you'd like to forget.

But, on the average day, you don't run late for work, you don't put your foot in your mouth, you don't stub your toe or get soap in your eyes, you don't win the lottery or get the perfect spot at the grocery store, and you don't get that email with unexpected good news, you don't have a personal crisis or see someone close to you have a hard day.  Things just go along.

Might be kind of boring if every day was an average day, but they aren't, so life is not boring.

But, for when they do happen, why not, be a little bit grateful, maybe an average amount.

4-11-2012 Good Neighbors

Some people live out in the country and might not have any neighbors, some people have neighbors they don't like.

Right now, we have the best neighbors that we've ever had.

It's part of what makes a house a home.

We chat sometimes, sometimes our dogs bark at each other but neither one of us gets upset.

This morning I spent some time talking to my neighbor, some sad news about his brother passing away unexpectedly, it was very sad but I hope it helped for him to tell someone.  It made me appreciate life and family and how little time we have.

Good neighbors are a treasure which I am grateful for.

Monday, April 16, 2012

4-10-2012 Recovery

Sometimes you are hurting for some reason or another, but with some rest, food, and water, your body has an amazing ability to heal itself.  Recovery happens faster when you are younger, slows down a little as you age but still pretty much works the same.

Good thing we can recover, and usually with recovery we get stronger.  I felt pretty good this morning while running just a few days after running in a 50 mile race, it could have taken a lot longer.

So, today I'm grateful for recovery!!  (especially when it is quick)

4-9-2012 Flexible Spending Account

For a number of years I didn't even participate in this, and eventually I put in a little and a little bit more.

You get to put in money before tax and spend it on stuff that insurance doesn't cover but you need - like braces for your kid, for example, or copays.

There are ways to deduct medical expenses, but unless you rack up huge bills it's usually impossible.  But, with FSA, the works pretty much already done for you (just need to remember to save the receipts).

So, as I paid the bill for my sons braces today, I was grateful for FSA

4-8-2012 Easter - the Resurrection

This may be old news for a lot of people, but finally at age 45, after years of Catholic school education, and countless church services, Catholic and otherwise, this Easter Sunday it dawned on me how great Easter is.

I think the problem is the order in which they teach things.  By the time they get to the resurrection you've already learned about God and how Jesus is God and can walk on water, so of course he can rise from the dead (I know I'm kind of simplifying things here).

But, if you take it out of context and think about it, it's pretty amazing, some guy executed by crucifixion simply getting up a few days after dying.

It also made me think about the symbolism how sometimes what seems impossible and hopeless can suddenly just rise from the dead.

Not sure why it took so long for me to figure this out, but, better late than never.

Today, I was truly grateful for Easter and the story of the resurrection.

4-7-2012 Ice

There were so many things to be thankful for today.  I ran a 50 mile race and it got pretty hot out but I managed to survive and do pretty well despite not starting very smartly.

So, of all the things I could be grateful for, I'll pick ice.

I brought some ice with me to keep a few drinks cold in a small cooler.  The race passed by the starting area a few times.  At the start of the last loop I grabbed a few pieces of ice, some I put in my pocket and one I held in my hand to help cool me down.

I thought about how "cool" ice is, how it can keep things fresh and cool you down.  Ice was my friend today and it provided just enough comfort to keep me going.

So, on this kind of warm almost hot day when I needed cooling down, I was grateful for ice.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4-6-2012 Pre Race Pasta

Jenny made pasta for dinner - tortellini, along with a side of garlic bread.  Big race the next day all trails.  Pasta isn't the only thing one could eat before a race (I've had luck with baked potatoes and subway sandwiches, too).

However, there is something about pasta the night before a race that makes it just that much more special.  It gets your mind ready as well as helping you load up on some carbs.

I'm grateful for pre-race pasta!

4-5-2012 Someone Waiting For You

Jenny and the boys just left for Orlando and I'm about to head out to work.  Sammy doesn't know how long we'll be gone.  Dogs don't really care for the sight of suitcases being loaded into a car.  But dogs will wait for us, they are good at that.  They are also good and being so happy once you get home they seem to completely forget that the wait seemed like forever!

When you have a dog, there will always be someone waiting patiently at home for you to come back, and I am grateful for that!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

4-4-2012 Beaches (and people who get me to go)

Today we went to the beach for a short visit.  My youngest wanted to go.  The older one not so much.  I myself am not a beach initiator but am always glad once we go.  It was a short drive (and a surprisingly easy one) from the hotel to Miami Beach.  Found a beach access spot and random and parking was easy.  It was still early out and although warm, not yet hot.

I didn't have towels, but we did have our swimsuits at least (although I was happy to just get my feet in the water)

Seeing the beach-goers, hearing the surf, and feeling the sand beneath your feet, but most of all seeing your soon enjoying the beach and making some memories. 

I'm grateful for the beach and the people who get me to go.

4-3-2012 Upgrades

There was a lot to be thankful for today, so it is hard to pick just one, so I'm sort of picking a random one.  Today was day one of a road trip with my two boys.  I took two days off from work.  My kids were off school and my wife was going to be working mon-wed with an overnight trip planned for them on thu-fri when I'd be working and staying home with the dog.

So, today I was offered an upgrade, and I took it.  Checked into a hotel, which was very nice.  I had signed up for an offer that said if they had available nicer rooms you could get them at a huge discount.  So, the hotel put us on the very top floor with a giant picture window looking out over Miami and access to the "club" room which had free drinks and food in the evening and for breakfast.

Many times in life, you stand in line, you get what you pay for.  That is fair and good and as it should be.  Sometimes, you don't quite get what you had hoped for or expected, and that's ok because it just happens that way sometimes.

Then, sometimes, out of the blue almost, it works out, and you end up with more than you hoped for, you get that room at the top floor.  Who knows if there would ever be a trip like this again.  Kids grow up fast and things change quickly.

But, every now and then, enjoy a little extra if the opportunity comes up, and be grateful for that, extremely grateful!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

4-2-2012 That Excited Feeling Getting Ready for a Trip

We were just going to be gone overnight, taking a little road trip across Florida, the boys and I.  Grabbed a suitcase, packed some snacks, planned the route and updated some music to listen to.

If something bad is about to happen, then the waiting for it can be horrible.

However, the same thing in the opposite way is true of good things, like taking a fun trip.  Enjoy that feeling, it's almost like starting the vacation early!!

I'm grateful for that excited feeling getting ready for a trip.

4-1-2012 Paint

I painted a section of fence today that really needed it.  I also was able to get my son to help me.  The section of fence looked pretty bad.  I could see it each morning while looking out the kitchen window and while sitting on the back porch. Eventually I thought enough is enough, time to paint.

I had to pull some weeds and clean off some mold, as well as nail some loose boards back on before painting.  So, between the prep work for the painting and the actually paint, the little corner of the backyard went from eyesore to white, bright, and new looking.

Painting really made a big difference.  I think about all the times I've painted something and how much I've learned the value of paint.

I am grateful for paint.

3-31-2012 Helpful Retail Staff

I went into a big home improvement store to buy a light bulb for the kitchen.  I wanted to try a new LED bulb and had some questions. The guy at the store was so helpful and seemed to know everything there was to know about light bulbs.

But, the most important thing was that he didn't make me feel stupid, he seemed to enjoy his job and I walked away knowing a little bit more about what I had asked.

I used to work in a store a long time ago, selling plants, fertilizer, bird seed, dog food, and lots of other things.  People had questions, other people that worked at the store had answers, and there were books to consult and we had some training.  I learned a lot while working there and enjoyed helping people walk away with what they needed.

I try not to bother people too much when I shop, but when I need to ask something and someone really takes the time to help me out and treat me like a person, I am truly grateful.

3-30-2012 Board Games

The game "Battle Ship" came up in conversation and it made me think about how great board games are, and how they even survive today in a world of smartphones, gaming consoles, PC's and everything imaginable.

I thought of the lessons that they teach kids (and adults) about how to follow rules, interact with each other and enjoy playtime.  I hope they never go away, the board games or the lessons.

I am grateful for board games.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

3-29-2012 Second Winds

This morning when I ran, I felt sluggish starting out.  But, after a while I caught my second wind and felt fresh.

What a concept, second winds.  You get them when least expecting them and when you need them most.  All of the sudden, you just feel newer and fresher or more awake. 

You can't really force a second wind, they just sort of happen.

But, it's good to remember this lesson the next time you feel worn down, maybe there will be a second wind.

I am grateful for this.

3-28-2012 Second Times

I went to a spin class again this morning.  The first time I went I felt very awkward and it was extremely hard for me, but I gave it another try.

And, it was a lot better.

Sometimes, when you try something and it's hard,  you might want to not do it again.  But, once you go through the unknowns and finding out how much you don't know, you might find the second time around is much better.

I'm grateful for second times, especially when they work out.  Something to remember the next time you try something for the first time and you think, no way, never again.  Maybe the second time will be much better.

3-27-2012 Mistake averted

This morning I was grateful for just barely missing a mistake.  I had confused Tuesday and Thursday and thought that I was going into work early on Tuesday and Jenny was going to take Thomas to school.  After my run, I quickly and efficiently got ready to leave and was going to drop Andy off at the bus stop.  As we were heading outside I yelled "goodbye" to Jenny as I was heading out the door.  "Wait!!" she said.  "You are supposed to take Thomas to school today".  Oh, yeah, looks like I got mixed up.

What a pain it would have been if I had made it out the door before it was too late.

For this one, and all the other close call mistakes that have been averted, I am grateful.