Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving

The boys have been working on a fort with the neighbor boys for a week now.  They built a small one last week and it took them the entire day to figure out how to do it.  Since then they have been tweaking and expanding.  Now that they understand how to make it work they have gotten better and better.  The two little boys--Eli and Jake run to the forest behind the house and collect fallen branches and then drag them back to the older boys.  Once the fort was built they all ran inside and drug blankets outside.  It has provided hours of fun for them.  I have to try and ignore the urge to be frustrated by the clean blankets being drug across the muddy grass and collecting sticks and leaves that then get drug back in the house at the end of the day.  It is quite the chore to wash them and fold them all again but I really believe in boys being boys.  I love that they can use their imaginations to create and build and have fun outside.  And then I also believe in them cleaning up the mess they made as well...it will be cool when they are old enough to do the laundry by themselves.  :)

This picture is funny.  Isaac came home with a black eye at the beginning of the week after he run into a pole at school.  That very night he also lost his tooth that was turning grey (his teeth don't ever want to fall out!).  We teased him that it looked like he had gotten in a boxing match with his black eye and missing tooth!

This Thanksgiving was a memorable one.  I wrote about how I have been feeling anxious and stressed lately and I was thinking a few weeks ago about Thanksgiving coming up.  I knew that Mike would be right in the middle of his projects and papers because he only had two days of classes once he went back after Thanksgiving break.  I also knew that this year it would just be our family and Mike wouldn't get out of class until Thanksgiving.  After thinking about ways I could make less stress in my life I decided that making a Thanksgiving meal for just us really didn't need to happen.  I was surprised to find that Mike was totally on board and so we decided that instead of one stressful day of cooking and eating and then cleaning all the mess up, we would ask the boys what foods they really wanted this Thanksgiving and I would make them throughout the week and then on Thanksgiving day we would go to a buffet and a movie.  

The boys were really excited about our plan.  Will brought home an origami Thanksgiving book and folded all these cute foods to put in a basket for our table.  Isaac made the drumsticks at school and included them in Will's Thanksgiving basket.  I thought it was cute that they were getting all festive and making decorations.  
Throughout the week we had devilled eggs, turkey and mashed potatoes (the boys requested fake ones--made my life easier even if it isn't as good as real ones!), green bean casserole, slush, and pie.  This way we could still enjoy the normal Thanksgiving foods but I wouldn't have to stress about making a big meal all at once, just something each day.
On Wednesday the boys worked on their fort with their friends while Mike did his normal long day at school.  We ran some errands and Will and I made a pie.  That night we watched a movie and the next morning I caught this picture of the kids all sitting on the couch together.
Thursday was a good day.  Mike and I got to sleep in and then we just did stuff around the house.  Mike worked on the room he is building in the garage to make the machine for our business quieter.  It is currently too loud and for my sanity and the sanity of the neighbors we need something to make it quieter.
After Piper's nap we headed to the movies.  There were only two other families there so Piper got to walk around and climb up and down the stairs.  We didn't eat lunch because we were going to go to dinner right after.  We bought some popcorn and enjoyed the movie.  After the movie we drove to Golden Corral.  We hardly ever go there but the boys love it.  Isaac loves to get hot wings and Will likes the pizza.  They all like the cotton candy and there is always something that someone will like.  Upon arriving we discovered that we were thirty minutes late!  We got there at 5:30 and they had stopped letting people in at 5:00.  The boys were so disappointed.  They were skipping and laughing on the way in and upon realizing that they couldn't eat there their faces were crestfallen.  They walked back to the van with shoulders sagging and eyes welling up with tears.  They said, "What are we going to eat now?"  Mike and I tried to think fast and decided that it could be fun to drive to Walmart and let the boys choose anything they wanted to eat.  They seemed to be ok with that idea when they realized they could get donuts or hot wings or really, anything.  When we got to the Walmart parking lot we gasped at the amount of cars.  The entire parking lot was filled and cars were parking into the parking lots across the road.  It was ridiculous.  Honestly, nothing is worth that to me! The boys by this time were hungry and discouraged.  I remembered that I had bought cheap pizzas for them earlier in the week and they were in the freezer.  I also had chicken strips and left over ice cream as well as the pie Will helped me make.  So we drove home and ate a Thanksgiving meal of frozen pizza, chicken strips, pie, and ice cream.

I was pretty pleased at the boys and their attitudes.  They were clearly disappointed.  They had been looking forward to eating at Golden Corral all week.  Mike had even mentioned a couple of times during the day that he was really looking forward to going out to eat this year.  I was looking forward to not having to cook all day followed by cleaning up the mess.  We were all pretty disappointed when we discovered we were 30 minutes late!  Yet, the boys never said anything ungrateful to us.  They never blamed us for not getting there in time.  They didn't throw a fit or act unkind.  I was grateful for Mike and his effort to help us find a solution without having a bad attitude and even helping us make jokes about it.  I was totally impressed by the resilience of the boys.  Each time they were disappointed but it didn't last long and they were able to quickly overcome their disappointment and make the best of the night.  I really believe that if they can continue to have that kind of attitude throughout their lives, they will be successful.  The ability to bounce back and enjoy what they have is such a valuable quality.

At the beginning of the month I had to give a lesson in RS about living gratitude.  I did a lot of pondering, reading, and praying to give the lesson.  It was such a good way to start the month and focus on gratitude.  I shared this quote in my lesson,
  "Said one well-known author: “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
I feel like our experience brought this quote to life in a small but real way.  I am grateful to be able to teach the boys that life can throw disappointing experiences at us but we can still find goodness in our circumstances.  The thing I learned most this month about gratitude is that even when we are lacking things we can still find so much in what we have to be grateful for.  We may not have had a good homemade meal, or even a hot one that someone else cooked for us, but at least we got to go to a movie, have pie, and be together!

I imagine when the boys are older they will say, "Remember that year when we had cheap pizza and chicken strips for Thanksgiving dinner?"  Hopefully they can also remember how earlier in the day their dad showed them how to use a staple gun and played minecraft with them.  I hope Will remembers making pumpkin pie with me the day before and how we took them to the movies and put up the tree.  

Later that evening there was a knock on the door and we opened it to find a sweet, generous woman in our ward standing at our doorstep with a bag of turkey and a pie!  It was such a thoughtful gesture and I am so thankful for her wanting to give what she had so our Thanksgiving dinner wasn't quite so lame.

I am thankful.

1 comment:

Jess Clark said...

Last year we were supposed to be with the Clark side for Thanksgiving but Jen got a stomach bug the night before. We ended up cancelling all our Thanksgiving plans with her down and out for the day. We ended up having hot dogs and nachos for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was indeed memorable.