Can you believe it's the last day of November? That means there's only 25 days until Christmas. Three weeks, people!! And I haven't really done a lick of Christmas shopping.
Thankfully, Peanut and I are going to get a good start on that today.
Speaking of thankful....it sure has been one heck of a month, hasn't it? Who would have guessed that I had so much in my life to be thankful for? Well, I would. Because, the truth of the matter is, I could keep going if I wanted. I don't think I could ever really run out of stuff to be thankful for. Each and every day that I wake up, I should start my day at least being thankful that I made it that far.
And, I have to say, it's quite the feat to be able to fit as many "Thankful Photos" in to one collage. I had to select the ones that were the most important to me over the past twenty nine days and fit them in to that photo, somehow. You'll notice that my coffee photo didn't make it in to the cut. Surprising, right?
The top left are all the photos of my family. My kids, Hubby, my parents, P-Momma, and Katniss. Those are the people that I love more than anyone in this world. Those are the people that have molded me, guided me, shaped me, and put up with me...and are responsible for me being the person that I am today. All of them. Yes, even Katniss. Because even a feline that I love like one of my children has her way of helping me see the good in bad situations or turning frowns upside down. So, if you happen to be reading this and can't stand the person that I am... there are your targets...the people to blame. It's all their fault!! HA!
I know that I wouldn't be where I am today, or be able to write all of these thankful posts without them. All of them have been in my life through the good and bad, thick and thin, ups and downs. And no matter what I've put them through, they've all made it to the other side still loving me, caring for me, and teaching me the joys and comfort that life has to offer.
My parents taught me the values I hold strong in my heart. They taught me how to fight for what I want, work hard, follow my dreams, be independent, and never take anything for granted. My children taught me unconditional love, and that there is no greater fear on this earth than one of them being in danger or getting hurt. That I could and would move mountains for them, and travel to Hell and back, if they needed me to. Hubby taught me that there is another man on this planet, besides my dad, that can love me, care for me, and treat me like a princess. That there's another man on this planet, besides my dad, that can put up with all of my personality traits, accept the fact that I work too hard and love every second of it, and that no matter what our differences are, he's still going to be there for me. P-Momma taught me that it is possible to love another woman like a mother, without it replacing any of the love I have for my own mother. That blood doesn't have to be thicker than water in order to use the word "family". That no matter what, she's there for us. She is a grandmother to my children, a mother to Hubby and I, and is there for me anytime that I need her. And Katniss. Oh, Katniss. She has taught me that some cats really do have great personalities. They are loyal and faithful, they are caring and considerate. She knows my moods, knows when I need her just to snuggle and make me feel better. She knows how to make me laugh. And, she's willing to put up with being carried around like a stuffed animal by Jelly because she knows that it makes me love her even more.
The top right picture contains the pictures of all my children that happily and lovingly call me "Mom" or at least treat me as if I'm like a mother to them. They bring joy in to my life each in their own way. Whether it be a hug when they see me in the hallway, by sending a text message just asking how my day is going, or walking down to my room each and every day just to say hi. They are very close friends with Peanut, but they have each built their own special relationships with me...and I care about each and every one of them very much. I became a teacher so that I could build strong, lasting relationships with my students, but I never imagined building such strong relationships with kids I never taught...that just happen to have taken the time to get to know because they are friends with my oldest child. I have laughed with them, cried with them, and let them yell out their frustrations to me. While dealing with my tough situation that I've been dealing with, three of those kids have gone above and beyond to help me through it.
That handsome football player has been there for Peanut. In more ways than I could ever describe. That boy would walk to the ends of the earth if it would make Peanut feel better. He is always a phone call or text message away when she needs him. And I feel OK knowing that if she can't talk to me about what's bothering her, she can turn to him. Because that's what true friends do. He has helped Peanut through some of her darkest times, and always brings her out with a smile on her face and an understanding that nothing is as bad as she sometimes thinks.
The happy, beautiful girl pictured with Peanut in the middle is also another great friend to Peanut. She has spent more time at our house than any other friend, and always makes herself at home when she's here. She endearingly calls me "Mom" and she knows how to make me laugh. She has an old soul that adds to her charm. And, any friend that manages to break Hubby out of his shell is A-OK with me!
The boy in the bottom left has become the closest thing to having another son. He calls me "Mom" and actually means it. When I broke the news to the kids about what was going on with the "situation", he happened to be there. Even though it's not really in his nature to show much affection, he didn't hesitate to give me a hug. And has pretty much every time he's seen me since. I've gotten to know a side of him that he doesn't show many people. He has to see me daily just to see how I'm doing, how my day is going, or just to say hi. On the days we don't get to see each other, I can expect a text message asking all of the above. He's good friends with Peanut, but he's also built relationships with Butter and Jelly. They are like brothers, and brother and sisters. After school each day, I can usually find him watching over Jelly outside on the playground, talking and laughing with Butter, or hanging out with Peanut and their other friends.
It means a lot to me to have such great kids in Peanut's life...and in mine.
The bottom left picture is my work family and my besties. The people I work with, the kids I teach, and the secret pal that has made my last couple of months so much happier and brighter. The two girls I've known since college, and have stuck by me, are the closest friends I could ever ask for. I just couldn't ask for a better bunch of people to have in my life.
My fourth grade team really are like a family away from my family. We laugh together, cry together, stand by one another, and support each other. I know that I can count on each one of them for anything work related...and even anything non work related. I can tell them pretty much anything, and know that I will receive all the love, support, encouragement, and advice that I need.
My principal has definitely helped me understand why it's spelt with PAL at the end. She is my boss, but so much more. She took a leap of faith when she hired me, and gave me a chance when nobody else would. She's embraced and encouraged my outgoing and passionate personality. She's given me words of advice, constructive criticism, and done everything in her power to help me be the best teacher I can be. Not only that, but she's been a friend. She's been there when I've needed her. She's helped my biological children overcome fears and struggles. She's guided them, nurtured them, and helped them realize that there's not another school in the world more suited for them than our school. Her passion and drive are contagious, and there's not a single minute that goes by where she's not doing something to better the lives of her students, her faculty, and her school.
The students are the reason I get up each and every morning excited about the day ahead. They give me purpose, and a desire to care more than I probably should, believe in them, and push them to be the best that they can be. I care about each and every one of them, and they all hold a special place in my heart. I do what I do because I love working with kids, but the kids I get to work with every day make me realize that teaching is so much more than enjoying working with kids.
And, I hate leaving out the rest of the staff I work with. The people that took me in, made me one of them, and treat me as an equal each and every day. They also help reinforce the fact that I'm exactly where I need to be, and there's not anything that would ever change that.
And, lastly, my besties. I love them like sisters. They've helped me in more ways than they could ever understand. They've stood by me, supported me, and helped get me through the toughest two years of my life. I know that I wouldn't have made it through my junior and senior years of college as well as I did had it not been for them. I also wouldn't have made it through the tough year following college when I couldn't find a teaching job and almost gave up hope. They kept me believing, kept encouraging me, and kept my head held high knowing that someone, somewhere would see my potential and give me the chance I was so desperate for. I don't get to see them as much as I'd like, but whether it be days, weeks, or months that go by without seeing them... I know that when we do get together, we can pick up right where we left off and enjoy every minute together.
Wow, I had no intention of this post being so long. I was going to merely explain my thanks for having so much to be thankful for... but I guess I had to highlight those people most important to me, once again, in order to do that.
This month really has been such an eye opening month. It has helped me realize how much I take for granted. To think of the amount of times I've sat here and complained and boo-hooed about stuff not going right, not having enough friends, minor problems that I blow way out of proportion.
What this month has taught me is that I'm blessed beyond blessed. I have everything a person could ever ask for, and more. That for 30 days in a row, I've been able to sit here and share all the wonderful people I have in my life, all the wonderful things, all the wonderful experiences. I truly feel like I couldn't have a better life than what I have now.
And my goal is that I don't forget this month. I take it with me and cherish it, remembering all I have to be thankful for. I haven't done anything special to deserve so much happiness and love in my life... yet I have it. How quickly I can forget what's important. And these past 30 days have helped me realize what's truly important in life.
So, today, I'm thankful that I did this. That I took a month to digest, embrace, and bring to light everything I have in my life that makes me who I am. I have so much to be thankful for, and I just need to remember anytime I think life is a little tough.
Tomorrow, my blog goes back to normal...sharing my daily goings on and life in general. But, I have a feeling that there will be some changes. Not so much complaining. Not so much whining. Because I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm counting my blessings and plan on using this blog to capture those blessings.
Life is a gift. A gift to be cherished. A gift to be cared for.
And every minute of the remainder of mine, I want to be thankful for it.