All I Want For Christmas

December 14th marks the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. One year ago twenty babies were taken from this earth in the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history.

Yesterday I came across this video on Facebook.

Emilie Parker was one of those babies taken from us. And yet, as her mother reflects on the unimaginable tragedy, she shares with the world that “Evil did not win”.

Also on Facebook, one of the first members of the DEN, RJ Stangherlin, shared one of the best posts I’ve ever seen:

“At HUP yesterday for a post-stem cell transplant MRI check. The result: lymphoma free. That makes me an official cancer survivor. God bless all of you for traveling with me on this journey.”

It’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday hype. The newest toys, shiniest electronics, and hottest new trends. As much as I love watching my boys light up as they open a new gift, I can’t help but think of those who would give anything to have what I’ve been blessed enough to have: a healthy, happy family.

So this Christmas, as I make my wish list, I promise to cherish every moment with my family and never take for granted the joy they bring to my life.

All I want for Christmas:

  1. For my 3 sons (Michael, Owen and Kellan) to know how very much I love them. How proud and humbled I am to be their mommy. How much I love every hug, every kiss, every laugh and every cry.
  2. For my husband Brian to know there is no one in this world I would rather share this journey with.
  3. For my parents- the infamous Frank and Fran- to know how blessed I am to be their daughter.
  4. For my siblings- Mary and Mike- to know how awesome it is to be their sister.
  5. For my Grandma Pierce- to know how much I treasure our texts, Facetime chats, emails and get-togethers. And how much I appreciate the example you have set for me.
  6. For my in-laws- MB, John, Amy, Dan and Mike- to know how grateful I am to have married into such a loving family, and how thankful I am that you welcomed me with open arms when I moved to Atlanta all those years ago. You made me feel at home.
  7. For my extended family- Oppold/Washburne/Pierce/Burns- to know how lucky I feel to be surrounded by the world’s most amazing family. All of the cherished family traditions- stockings from Aunt T, videos from Uncle Mark, Thanksgiving with the Washburne’s, 40th birthday bashes, grab bags and Lake of the Ozarks. The memories I’ve made with you are truly cherished.
  8. For my friends- near and far- to know how freaking awesome they are and how much I enjoy every hangout, phone call, email, text, and FB post we share.
  9. For my work family- to know how honored I feel to be part of a team that works tirelessly to transform teaching and learning, and has fun doing it.
  10. For me (yes Ginny, I’m talking to you) to know that I am proud of all that you have accomplished, and to never let your fears get in the way of your dreams. The world needs you.

What’s on your Christmas wish list?

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Gratitude

I’m sitting on my couch, home alone on  a Saturday afternoon. After a year and a half, I have just submitted my FINAL project for grad school. Once all of my projects have been graded and posted, I will have received my Master’s of Science in Instructional Media. For the first time in a long time, I am able to exhale.

Now that it’s over, I can’t believe I did it. Trying to keep up with the projects, discussion boards and assignments as a full-time working mother wasn’t easy. Nothing worth accomplishing ever is though, is it?

I’m home alone because my husband knew I needed space to clear my mind and work. He packed up the car with our 3 boys and headed out for a few hours. He’s done this more times than I can count over the last year and a half. And he hasn’t complained once. It hasn’t been easy spending my precious free time away from my family, and I can’t wait to FINALLY look forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing to do except play with my kids.

After submitting my final project, I happened to come across this video from Soul Pancake.

In the video, they share the science behind one of the greatest contributors to overall happiness in your life: Gratitude.

It’s with this in mind that I would like to take a second to express my gratitude to one of the most influential people in my life: My husband.

Brian- I met you when I was 18, and I knew. I always kept you in mind, and when the timing was finally right, I somehow convinced you to be my boyfriend:) It turns out, that was the best thing I’ve ever done.

You are the reason I’m where I am today. You have supported me every step of the way, taking on more than your share of family responsibilities so that  I could go back to school. And you do it all with enthusiasm, grace and love. I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am, how much I love and appreciate all that you do. You are everything I have ever wanted, and more than I deserve.

I know it hasn’t been easy. I know I’ve been stressed, overwhelmed, annoyed, tired, and irrational more than I care to admit. Thank you for always listening, always caring and never letting me quit.

I love you more than you will ever know. Our three boys have been blessed with the world’s BEST dad, and I have won the lottery in the husband department.

Here’s to you. Thank you, for everything.