In the spirit of the holidays I thought I would take a quick snapshot of my life right now and what I am thankful for.  This isn’t your normal thankful list but it is mine.

I am thankful for…

1. Fear

As soon as Annalise was born all things mean, scary and evil just got a tad bit worse.  Whatever used to make my stomach hurt now aches in every fiber of my being.  Bullies seemed to stand taller, kidnappers seemed to be closer and all the darkness in the world became so much darker.  I am scared.  Terrified in fact.  How could I possibly shelter my baby girl from a world full of hate and heinous acts.  Truth is, no matter how many nights I lay awake standing up to fake bullies on the playground and chewing out boys who broke her heart when she’s 15, I realized I just can’t protect her from everything.  BUT what I do know is that I do have the power to teach her.  I can teach her simple things like looking both ways before she crosses the street.  I can teach her inner beauty and kindness will win out in the end no matter how much it may suck to be the nice girl right now.  I can teach her that what she reads in books can be a reality.  That bullies usually have a darkness in their heart that needs healing and to forgive them.  As much as I want to save her from this world and put out fires before the flames get to her, I know I just can’t.  I am thankful for this fear because it fuels my desire to make her the strongest, most driven, most beautiful and kindest woman that I can imagine.

I have a lot to teach you little one.

2.  Unpredictability 

I haven’t the slightest idea what my life will look like in 3 months, in a year or…sheesh… even 10 years.  In the past year we got married, sold our small collection of things in Hawaii, spent two months in Japan, headed back to Indiana, made it through pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  Phew. I remember being in a job interview 4 years ago and being asked where I saw myself in 5 years.  I would have never, ever thought this was the life I would be living.  God dropped Chris in front of me and I had no idea where we would lead each other.  But I’d say we’ve made a pretty good run thus far.  Currently we are still living in our “apartment” in the top half of my parents’ house.  It has been such a blessing to all be together (although Dad likes to blare the TV in evenings when I am trying to get some sleep.  Dang you Bananza reruns!). 🙂  After experiencing families all living together in Hawaii and in Japan it wasn’t hard for us to follow suit.  It can be tough though to be going against the grain of the midwest.  While others are buying big homes and setting roots in communities, we are itching for more adventure.  What could that be?  Well, I have no idea.  We are now responsible for showing Annalise the world she can play in.  That’s a pretty big job in itself.  Chris is missing Hawaii; I have looked at housing in Saipan and Florida.  The thought of even moving down the street from my parents brings tears to my eyes.  I don’t know what I’d do without all of us eating dinner together in the evenings listening to dad’s jokes and eating more than we should of mom’s cooking.  I’ve thought about hosting a foreign exchange student, becoming foster parents, volunteering with children in the community, helping high school kids get into college, learning to speak Spanish fluently, running a mini marathon, moving to Canada, etc.  Whatever and wherever Chris and I are needed, we will go and we will do.  But for now, I will try and not be overwhelmed with options and stay cuddled up with my family watching Christmas Vacation and episodes of the New Girl.  Maybe tomorrow we will decide our next adventure.

“Wait, wha? You don’t have a plan yet, mama??”

3.  My Body

So I gained 60 lbs during my pregnancy.  Oh yeah.  The end was extremely difficult to get off (or roll off) the couch and simply climb the stairs.  Tying my shoes was out of the question and walking to the mailbox was enough exercise for the whole day.  But my achy body created LIFE.  It was the house that grew a baby.  My baby.  That is miraculous in itself.  Now that Annalise has been vacated for 8 weeks, I am still dealing with the aches and pains that pregnancy left me.  My hips, knees and ankles are still giving out from time to time and I have to have Chris carry Annalise down the stairs when my legs aren’t feeling completely solid and stable.  As frustrating and exhausting it can be when your body doesn’t do what you want it to I am still thankful that I have a body that will recover.  One day (and I am sure it will be soon) I will be able to bend over, stand up, run the stairs and pick up Annalise without struggling.  My feet will fit back into my size 6.5 shoe or maybe they won’t.  But I can walk and soon will run.  A lot of people aren’t that fortunate.  So to my shaky and achy body, thank you for creating life.

8 weeks pregnant
The morning I gave birth… oy

4.  Today’s Man 

Women are kickin’ butt in the workforce and men are changing diapers like a boss.  The world I am living in is much different than women before me.  I am so thankful for a husband that is so involved in our daughter’s life.  He never left my side in the hospital after I gave birth.  He slept on that “comfy” pull out and woke up every 2 hours (and more often less than that) with Annalise.  He watches Baby Einstein on his lunch break encouraging Annalise to make animal noises and learn famous music composers.  He puts her to bed so I can get a head start on sleep so I can wake up early with her. He changes diapers (but still calls in for backup when things get out of control).  He is just as involved in her life as any mother would be.  He goes to every doc appointment with me and we even got into a fight over soy milk.  While the lines of distinct male and female rolls are blurred in our home he still makes me feel like his wife and I hope I can make him feel like my husband.  I realize this isn’t for everyone and isn’t necessarily the “right” way to parent.  Because is there really a right or wrong way? But when when I come out of the shower to find him playing guitar for her, my heart melts.  He is the father I wanted for my children and for that I am very, very thankful.

5.  Music

Music is part of my soul.  And it doesn’t even matter what kind of music.  If it moves me, then I love it.  I love singing terrible 80’s and 90’s songs to Annalise late at night.  I love hearing Chris play his guitar to me and Annalise as I rock her early in the morning when we are still in our PJs.  I love finding new dance remixes on Spotify for me to dance around the room attempting to get some exercise (really it is just my way of letting loose and having fun).  I love watching my niece and nephew dance to Gangham Style in our living room over and over again.  “Hit play again!!!” I love that one night when I couldn’t get Annalise to stop crying Chris swooped in and grabbed her from me.  Then he asked me to put on Rock With You by Michael Jackson and skip to the chorus because it is her favorite part.  Then the two of them danced around the room singing “I wanna rock with you…allllll night” and she stopped crying.  I love that we still sing loudly in the car even with a sleeping baby… because she has to learn early that that is just how the Courtney’s roll.

The dancing we encourage around here:

Daddy guitar time:

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