Thankful Tree 2014

We had our usual Thankful Tree up this year, but it was a little bigger than before. The kids were great at initiating and writing down their own leaves. We did a paper version on the wall. It took a while for me to cut it out, so I’m re-purposing it as a place to hang our Christmas cards during December. Here’s what we had to be thankful for in 2014:


  • Anja
  • Heat
  • Space
  • That my migraine pill worked
  • Beef stew
  • Supper
  • Heidi’s teaching (the kids)
  • Warm house
  • Markus
  • Heidi
  • A car


  • Anja’s storytelling
  • Caring friends post-miscarriage
  • Snuggles with Markus
  • God’s financial provision
  • An evening with a good friend
  • Markus’s enthusiasm for Alaska
  • Halloween candy
  • The library (twice!)
  • Husband’s diligent work on the toilet handle
  • Jan Karon
  • Time playing basketball at the gym
  • Family nights
  • Worshiping with my 3rd/4th grade small group
  • Glitter snow
  • Free mittens
  • Laughter
  • Sunshine on a long day
  • Considerate friends
  • Homeschool
  • Hot soup on a cold day
  • Markus doing T25


  • Markus!
  • MOMS group
  • TV
  • Mom!
  • Snow
  • Light and darkness
  • Dad
  • The fun time I had with Malia and Nolan
  • Supper
  • Grandma and Grandpa
  • Swimming
  • Grandma and Grandpa’s arrival
  • That we got to set up the tent
  • Jungle Book
  • Happy times
  • Jesus
  • Fun, new Kindle game
  • Day and night
  • Jesus. Without him the whole world wouldn’t be here.
  • Mama
  • Christmas
  • Warmer weather


  • The Avengers
  • Candy in my Halloween bag
  • Beautiful trees outside
  • That the snow has dried up
  • Pot pie
  • Earth, because otherwise our house would be floating in space
  • Snowmen
  • Snow
  • The number 6
  • Being taken care of when I’m sick
  • Our house
  • Eating this food
  • Jelly and peanut butter
  • School
  • Fun with friends on Halloween
  • Ninja Turtles
  • Swimming
  • My new shirt
  • Building a house with blocks

Thankful Tree 2013

We did a slightly different take on our Thankful Tree this year: a paper version on the wall. I have too little counter space in my kitchen to give it up for a whole month during baking season! And this worked really well. Both kids were writing a lot of their own items to put on the tree, which was fun to see. Markus also added two very tiny but very detailed beehives. They are the white-and-gray things you see on the trunk.


Apparently Daddy had a busy month of evenings (we usually share our thanks around the dinner table), because his list was short. But I know in his heart he is very thankful for many things. 🙂

– Coco (her stuffed dog)
– Mama
– Books
– Markus
– Dad
– Markus
– Mom’s love (awww….)
– Flowers
– Art
– Daddy’s job
– Jaylee (her cousin)
– School

– When Anja is obedient
– Pizza
– A home
– Candy

– Mama
– Room (his room, I assume)
– Mama
– Love
– Ninja Turtle costume
– Caleb (a friend)
– Jaylee
– Watching “Peter and the Wolf”

– Our own home
– Markus’s mouth when he colors
– My musical experiences
– Humor
– Mr. Tim is still alive (a friend of ours had a near-death experience)
– Husband
– Books
– Coloring crayons
– Nutritious meals
– Our church
– Anja
– My girlfriends
– Classical music
– Brownies
– Markus
– Quesadillas

So there you have it! Just a few of the things for which we are thankful. God has richly blessed us.

Month of Thanks 2012

We did a Thankfulness Tree again this year, and the kids enjoyed it even more than last, I think (especially Markus since he “got” it more this year). Here are our lists of that for which we are thankful. Anja may have significantly more than the rest of us, because she wrote many of her own and added them to the tree even when we weren’t around. There were also several full of scribbles that Markus put on the tree which I was unable to interpret. 🙂


  • Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
  • Family
  • Health
  • Our nice fire pit


  • My girl and my boy
  • Books
  • Crafts
  • Creative kids
  • Pinterest
  • Friends
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (it’s been my friend this cold season!)
  • Hot breakfast
  • Jesus’ death for our sins
  • My husband


  • My friends
  • Mama (twice!) 🙂
  • Malia
  • Marbles
  • School
  • Tea parties
  • God
  • Sherman
  • Daddy
  • Water to drink
  • Markus
  • Cookies
  • Christmas
  • Leaves
  • Grandma
  • Anja  🙂


  • Spiderman
  • My “guys” (his stuffed animals he sleeps with)
  • Mater
  • Mama
  • Blocks
  • Family
  • Curtains
  • Chairs
  • Grandma
  • Nubia and Sandro (our Compassion kids)
  • Monsters
  • Daddy
  • Lightning McQueen


  • To be here with my family


During the month of November, our family “grew” a Thankfulness Tree. It was a lot of fun, and it gave us time each day to think of things we were thankful for together. Since I’ll be throwing away all the leaves from the tree, I decided I’ll record the things we were thankful for here for posterity. Markus had to be encouraged not to put “books” on his leaf every day, and Anja had a hard time coming up with ideas besides food. And some of the kids’ ones crack me up.  Daddy has less because he wasn’t always with us at dinner time when we put up our leaves.

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My job
Warm house

Grandpa Mike’s help on our house
“Cooking” with my kids
Hot, healthy food
Snuggles with my kids
Central heat
Mornings at home
Fresh water
Anja and Markus
Daddy’s hard work cleaning the garage
pretty chirping birds

Yummy Owl S’mores
Sweet oranges for yummy snack
Cat picture I colored
Trees (she wrote that herself)
Bananas and fruit
Our old house
Alydia, Sherman, and my other toys
If someone will fix my kitty
Colorful leaves
Pretty birds and yummy fruit bananas
Coloring crayons
Beautiful rainbows
Daddy and Mama

Biggie (his lovey)
Green leaves
Graham crackers
Toy school bus
Mama and Daddy
Fingers (twice!)
M & Ms
Boomer (his fire truck)

A Visit to Grandma

It seems to me we’ve been at my mom’s for the last few years over Memorial Day weekend, and this year was no exception. Husband was working on the house, so I took the kids alone this year (no. fun. driving.). We spent as much time as we could outside or in the basement. Anja comments on a regular basis about how Grandma’s house is her favorite place on earth because of All the Toys in the Basement and All the Good Food and All the Fun in the Yard. It makes me happy, because I really loved visiting my grandparents growing up, too, and I want my kids to have great memories at their grandparents’ homes the way I do from mine.

There was:
– playing in the basement
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– riding trikes on the patio (Markus’s personal favorite)
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(possibly my favorite picture of the trip)
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– exploring nature
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– tasting nature
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– more trike riding
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– walking with Grandma, in the yard and around the neighborhood
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– mischief, and apparently, getting caught in some sort of crime?
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– cuddling with Uncle
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– sidewalk chalking with Auntie
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– sleeping in Grandma’s bed
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– rocking “guys”
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– kicking a ball
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– getting body-checked by a sister
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– so much good food that Mama gained 2 pounds (but we won’t post a photo of that)

Thanks, Mom/Grandma! We had a great time!

Grateful for Snow

The snow will melt eventually.  I know this from 31 years of experience.  It can be hard to see the beauty in it after five months of white, gray, white, gray.

But a few nights ago I was able to get out for a quick walk in it, just falling, making it all white again.  It was so refreshing.  I made tracks (sometimes in circles just for fun), followed rabbit prints, kicked icicles and snow “glass,” watched visible breath.

Husband and I used to go out for almost-nightly walks in the snow when we lived in Fargo.  This was pre-children, of course.  I look forward to the day when we can all go out as a family, making four sets of tracks instead of one.

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(My kids, cooped up.) 🙂

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I’ve been adding to my gratitude journal almost daily.  It really is a great exercise.  I have also been using my camera as a visual gratitude journal, recording daily graces, sometimes easy to spot and other times insignificant-seeming.

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Thankful for the little hands that leave a heart necklace clanking on my bedroom doorknob for days.

Ending the Year with Gratitude

2010 has been one of the toughest years on record for me.  Maybe THE toughest.  I say bring on 2011!

That said, I have been keeping a gratitude journal (inspired by this post) since mid-October.  It is sometimes easy and sometimes a true exercise to write out the things for which I am thankful.  Today, it was easy.  And since we should use our words to encourage and uplift, I dub it appropriate for me to write some of my lists here.  Please leave some of your own thoughts in the comments; it would encourage and uplift me!

Today, I am thankful for:

  • steam rising from my mug of green tea, visible by the light of the window
  • rain on the glass–a mild day for late December
  • the piles of beautiful snow we’ve received this season
  • watching my boy “push push push” his way down the hall on his little car, his feet barely able to reach the floor
  • anticipated delight in the ginger cookie that will accompany aforementioned tea
  • silence

Friends, I am also so thankful for this community.  There are lonely days, too-busy days (Who am I kidding?  Too-busy seasons!), and pull-my-hair-out days, but the gentle reminders, the “you’re doing greats,” and just knowing you are struggling and working through these times, too…it blesses my heart.  Happy New Year!