I have a Tradition here on The Blog, where every Thursday during the month of November, I talk about something I'm Thankful for! There is so much to be Thankful for, when we take the time to stop and reflect. And It's got me thinking about other Traditions we do . . .
When you Marry someone & become a new Family, you have to take Traditions from both of your Families & combine them together. And then it's fun, as you become a Couple, and then Parents, to come up with some Traditions of your own!
Some of my Favorite Family Traditions happen around Holiday's; Since our Children were little, for Valentines Day, we would have a "Fancy" Family Dinner together, complete with Candle Light, & Give Sweet little gifts (John & I would save our Valentines Date Night for another day, to spend Valentines with our kids) and our kids always look forward to it! For Birthdays, we might not have always had a lot of money to spend on big gifts or party's, but we always made it special! I've always thought the biggest responsibility of Parenthood, was to create Great Memories for your Children! There are Fireworks on the 4th of July! And Carving Pumpkins in the Fall! And on Thanksgiving, we have certain foods we Have to have, or it's just not Thanksgiving! :) And I like to go around the table and tell what we're Thankful For! And then, getting up really early on Black Friday to go Shopping is so much fun, and the perfect way to start off the Christmas Season.
We have a lot of Christmas Family Traditions: Decorating! Baking Cookies, using my Mom's Recipe! Watching
Christmas Movies as a Family! Looking at Christmas Lights! Reading The
Christmas Story out of The Bible on Christmas Morning! And my Favorite Christmas Family Tradition is that for every year, since my Children we're born, we have had our kids' picture taken with Santa Clause! I have 2 Photo Albums full of the Photo's. It's so much fun to look back through all the years of pictures! And the miraculous thing is my kids still do it! That's right, they are now 18 - 25 years old & every year we still go, to keep up the tradition, and get our picture taken with Santa! My Heart is as full as these Photo Albums! What are your Favorite Family Traditions?
Las Vegas, Nevada is only about a Five and a Half Hour Drive from Phoenix. I've been there once as a Teenager, then again about 10 years ago for a Friends Wedding! (Where Elvis Sang!) ;)
Recently my older Brother Danny, had an idea to have our Cousins meet us in Las Vegas for a Reunion. We are spread out around the U.S. Only a few of us were able to go; Danny & I from Arizona, Brother & Sister Robert and Cheryl from Michigan, and Kathy from Oklahoma! Throw in some Spouses, plus Kathy and I also brought our Sons and Daughter in Laws, to make it a reunion of two Generations!
My Road Trip Partners, Kyle and Katie, in a photo I call "What Are You Looking At?"
(. . . "Nothing!") :)
And I have found when you travel with Hipsters like Kyle & Katie, you find yourself in Hip places, like this cool little Coffee Shop, that plays only Vinyls, they found in old Las Vegas!
Proof that my cousins Cheryl and Robert have gone over to the Dark Side! But, I think we all knew that! Haha!
This is how I woke my kids up in the morning, by playing Katy Perry's Waking Up In Vegas song! :)
Now there are some things I really like about Vegas, and there are some things I Really don't like about it, for instance I am a Big City Girl! I'm one of those strange folks that actually love crowds, traffic, buildings, etc. and there is tons of all those things to see and experience in Vegas! But seeing people in all manor of dress (or undress, more accurately) or publicly drinking with small children in tow, are just some of what I dislike about Vegas.
This is the first time I have experienced Fremont Street, which is in Old Las Vegas, it was "The Strip" before The Strip that we now know, back in the days of the Rat Pack! There is a cool light show above you, though I felt we needed to Bleach our eyes out after some of the things you'll see there! :0
I much preferred spending my time seeing the sights in "New York, New York!"
Or in "Paris!" Day or Night!! :)
We all had lunch at the Top Of The World in the Stratosphere & could see the whole City from there!
I couldn't sit too close to the windows though! :) Then we saw a show of a Magician who had been on America's Got Talent.
There is a lot to see and do in Las Vegas! But of course, some of What Happened in Vegas, Stay's in Vegas! ;)
And if you go you have to check out the Bellagio! It is just Lovely!
The Garden's inside are always Amazing! They change with the Seasons!
And of course the Fountains outside, as seen in the Movie Oceans 11, are Awe Inspiring!
My Cousin Kathy's son Larry & his wife Sabrina in front of the Welcome To Las Vegas sign! So cute!
The Fabulous whole group, wearing our Reunion shirts, in front of the Sign as well. It was great getting to see some cousins I haven't seen in way too long & catching up with them. We plan on having more of these Family Reunions. We're talking about Branson, Mo. next year! And hopefully more of us can be there!
For years now, I have been doing every November, here on the Blog, what I call Thankful Thursday. Where on each Thursday during the month of November I share something I'm Thankful for. Last year during November I read a great Book called One Thousand Gifts, you can read about it here;
And throughout this past year I have kept a Gratitude Journal, as well as a note on my phone to keep a running list of things I am grateful for. I jot down Big Things, Small Things, Any Things that come to mind, to remind myself to give Gratitude for the things I've been given. And eventually I will get to 1000 Gifts myself!
Here is my list to date:
1. The Love of my Life: John, who supports me, laughs with me & loves me. He is too good to me.
2. My First Born: Kyle, who has always been his own person. And brings fun where ever he goes. He's a party waiting to happen.
3. My Baby Boy; Zach, who's smart & funny. Gifted in more ways than he knows.
4. Erica Starr; My beautiful, smart, talented Daughter. Who feels things deeply and is courageous & Brave.
5. Alexia Jewell' My precious girl, who's loving and giving in so many ways. She's talented, beautiful and smart.
6. Katie my Daughter in law; who loved Kyle & lets him be him. She's brilliant & beautiful, and fits right in.
7. Kendra, my soon to be Daughter in law; who laughs right along with me. She's caring, beautiful & she's good for Zach.
8. Tinkerbell; our faithful companion who's always so thrilled when we come home!
9. Luna; our newest addition who's cute & cuddly and is quickly becoming part of the family.
10. Books that speak of Love! God's love for me, romantic love, friendship, a mother's love, sisters, Etc.
11. Memories in the form of pictures!
12. My bed. Rest & comfort.
13. Healthy food that tastes great too.
14. All our temporary jobs on our way to a more permanent "real" job!!
15. My Car. (which actually was a gift from my Mom!) And all the places it takes us!
16. Glimpses of my Mom in myself and in my kids.
17. My kids really want to hang-out with me! And even like it! My Nieces too!! I'm doubly Blessed!!
18. Public Restrooms tha thave just been cleaned, with the seat still up! :)
19. Twisted Peppermint! the fragrance of Christmas.
20. Coconut, the Fragrance of Summer.
21. Bargains! I love getting great deals on great stuff!
22. Music that gives voice to what you're feeling!
23. Movies and/or Books that make you laugh and/or cry!! (or Both)
24. The United States Solder. We live in the land of the free, because of the brave!
25. A President that Pardens hard working, goodhearted Immigrants as to not tear families apart!
26. Soft, fuzzy socks that keep your feet warm.
27. When I meet someone new & they thing I'm too young to have a married son. Because I am! :)
28. Our Families; Parents, In-Laws, Brothers, Sisters, Nephews, Nieces, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, they are my backbone and they have my heart!
29. Christmas! The most Wonderful time of the year!
30. Black Friday Deals & spending the day shopping with my Family!
31. Tammy Zuschlag, my Friend.
32. Hope! The word God gave me for 2014. (Jer. 29:11)
33. The Ped-Egg. Pretty & soft feet are so much nicer than dry, cracked heels!
34. Christmas Ornaments given to me from my Sister.
35. My Mom's Christmas Cookies!
36. Safety while driving around the Phoenix area!
37. My kids, who continue to humor me, and get their picture taken with Santa Clause year after year, after year!
38. Finding just the right gift for just the right person!
39. Even though I hate when my eyes go blurry, yet I'm thankful for a signal, so I can take something to help minimize the Migraine headache!
40. Being able to afford Christmas gifts.
41. That my Niece, Andrea, get to Travel around Europe!
42. That I have his age 50! (my sister never did)
43. A new Year! New Opportunities!!
44. Friends & Family to ring in the New Year with.
45. Gifts picked-out just for me that I love.
46. That my girls are earning and have their own money!
47. Grace! The work God gave me for 2015!
48. That there is no end to His Amazing Grace!
49. Good Resutrants to eat at.
50. The Beautiful State of Arizona, in which we live. Mountains, Desert, Etc.
51. Watching my girls' Dance!
52. Listening to my children practicing their musical instruments is literally music to my ears!
53. The heater in my car, that works great on cold days!
54. John's safety. He could have been in a bad accident, but was spared. And Kyle as well, who spends most of each day driving!!
55. That friends & family would drive an hour to come to my Birthday Party!
56. Book Clubs. Places we can talk about Books & the topics they bring up!
57. My Girls' passing their drivers permit test!
58. My car passed emissions testing!
59. That my Girls' have John as their Dad. He is good for them, and them for him!
60. Friends that will take us out & want to be with us! Though they are few, I'm Thankful for the ones we do have, like the Staggers.
61. Questionaires that give Churches a way to get to know us a little, and will hopefully lead to a new ministry position.
62. The Theater! Plays & Musicals. Broadway!
63. That Lexi gets the opportunity to play in the pit orchestra for the schools production!
64. "It's Your Breath In Our Lungs!"
65. That Jesus overcame, and through Him we can overcome!!
66. Bright colored & Big Hand Bags!!
67. Tax returns!
68. Good & affordable car mechanics!
69. A cool pillow.
70. That You will rescue us!
71. We didn't get a ticket when we got pulled over.
72. Andrea is home safe & sound from her trip around Europe!
73. My sister in law, Judy's house sold quickly.
75. The Arizona Aloha Festival, and time spent with my Girls!
76. All things Hawiian!
77. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross for my sin & healing.
78. Easter! He is risen!
79. "Forbis Family Fun Days!
80. Kyle's new job!
82. Counselors & wise counsel!!
83. Sunshine & Sun Tans!!
84. God's Favor!
85. The ending of the delay! Amen.
86. That I didn't miss my J.C. Penny's Fit-Events like I almost did!
87. A Dad who taught me how to parallel park. (for those odd times I need it!)
88. These Afflictions eqlipsed by Glory! An ocean of Grace. He loves us, oh how He loves us!!
89. The man who drove by & picked-up all our stuff form cleaning out the garage. So, we didn't have to make several trips to donate it! (And hopefully he'll make some money on it as he sells it!)
90. Getting to work the Bloggers conference!
91. Blogging! Blogger's; Women supporting other women!!
92. Charities! Giving Back!
93. Ice Cream! :)
94. Education! And opportunities for my kids.
95. Being a Mom!
96. Not getting in an accident or becoming a victim of road rage.
97. That Erica got the help she needed & no longer feels the need of self destruction.
98. Beautiful & fragrant flowers.
99. That we caught mine & John's high blood pressure before it got real serious.
100. Good Neighbors!
101. That I can realize small problems are not the end of the world!
102. Job Interviews. Where I get to meet new & interesting people & get to talk about myself! :)
103. Family that will help one of their own move, Etc.
104. I got a raise!
105. God hears my Prayers!
106. Dress for Success! Women empowering & encouraging other women!
107. Zach's safety when his car broke down at the Grand Canyon.
108. Good Movies!
109. A fun filled Vacation! That included new experiences for my kids!
110. John being offered a new Job with Emblem Hospice!
111. That I didn't have a stroke or heart attack when my blood pressure was dangerously high!
112. That The Loft (my favorite store) wanted me to come work for them at the coolest mall (Scottsdale Fashion Square) :)
113. Air Conditioning! When it's hot outside. And it's always hot here in Arizona!
114. Zach getting his first apartment!
115. Burt's Bees' lip gloss! (in plumb)
116. Jury Duty. It brought Zach home for a few days!
117. A Husband who will kill scorpions who show up in my house, uninvited.
118. A Husband who will et up early to check my car battery & change it before he goes to work.
119. Siri, so I can test (hands free) while driving! Safely.
120. The Girls' friends who drive & will give them rides when we need it!
121. Fall Decorations & Fragrances!!
122. Girls & Women in Kenya, receiving freedom in the form of menstrual pads, that are washable & reusable, so they can continue their education, even while on their periods, when they would normally have to stay home! And a Church that made them & took them to them.
123. That Lexi got a Turtle, like she's always wanted. And for the Friends who gave him to her.
124. Health Insurance!
125. Inexpensive Prescriptions due to Health Insurance!
126. Good Friends who think of you, & bring you back gifts from their Vacations!
127. Dressing up in Costumes! Make-Believe!
128. Being in the right place at the right time! Being able to help women at Dress for Success.
129. Our new Living Room Furniture! And for Katie's Parents, Paul & Cheryl, for giving it to us!
130. Mental Health!
131. Erica finding her calling in Sign Language, and her desire to be an interpreter.
132. Lexi finding her niche at Cosmetology School!
133. Apricot Lane for employing Erica for this past year!
134. Lexi getting her first job! And for Shannon at Bath & Body Works for hiring her!
135. Funny Group Text's with all my Children!
136. Zach and Kendra's safe trip down through the snow & accidents in northern Arizona, coming to Phoenix for their Wedding!
137. Pumpkin Seeds.
And this list will continue to go on . . .
All year I've just tried to remind myself to notice the little things as well as the big things. And to be Thankful for what I've been given! I've even dubbed this year my Year of Grace! Grace is my Word of the Year! And all Gifts are Grace! I am Thankful, and not just on Thursday's, but Everyday!
And hopefully this is a reminder for you, to remember to be Thankful for all you've been given.