I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genius, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplexing and perfect God’s creativity graces us with its presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

Zoe (responding to something Jase just mentioned to me and then holding a wet paper towel up to her face and making a random comment, all without taking a breath):
Why was that man smoking? Hohoho, look at me I’m Santa Clause!
In response to Malakai’s fake coughing fit, I say: Kai, I know you’re pretending, please go to sleep.

Malakai: No, I’m not pretending, I have diabetes!
Evidence you’re children aren’t listening to you:

Coming up to the girls after I hear screaming, I say: Who was screaming?

Zoe: I was.

Me: Well, that was very loud Zoe, please don’t do that again.

Zoe: Awesome!
Saying goodbye to the kids as I was leaving the house, I give Kai a hug and kiss and say: Bye, Kai. Please listen to Daddy.

Kai: You too.

Zoe: Remember when we went to that garage sale and they had one thing for free?

Me: No, I don’t. Were you with Mama and Papa?

Zoe: Well, I remember and it was a looooong time ago in 2008.

While watching me wash and strain some grapes, Malakai asked me, “what is that thing called when you strain the solids before the liquids?” Assuming I heard correctly, I said, “a strainer.” He said, “No, when the solids get strained before the liquids.” Realizing this was a thinking conversation, I put on my thinking cap, “That can’t happen, honey. Because the liquid particles are smaller than the solid particles, they leave the strainer first… Unless, you somehow boil the liquid out and catch the evaporation that then pools into something that can hold the liquids.” To this he replied, “That can’t happen.” Picking my righteous pride up off the ground where Kai just threw it, I said, “Uh-huh. What do you think happens with rain? The water evaporates into the clouds, leaving the solids in the lake behind, and then drops the liquid somewhere else.” Malakai, still barely hearing me, says, “Mommy, you’re messing up my theory. The liquid particles wouldn’t be smaller than the solids because you could just shrink the solids so they’re smaller than the liquids and then the solids strain before the liquids.”

Brilliant. Now to test this theory of his and find a shrink ray somewhere.

I’m not really a morning person… physically. Mentally, I really enjoy “waking up with the chickens”, as someone in the Redwoods once pointed out. I like knowing that I’m waking up just as the sun is waking up the rest of my side of the world. When I wake up early, I don’t feel like an uninvited person to a party, I seem less anti-social and I have much more time in my day. However, there’s a disconnect with the communication from my brain to my body. I think I need some medication or something to get the connectors connected again because trying to convince my ears, eyes and the rest of my body to be alert and functional when I first wake up is nearly impossible. Whose idea was it to get a semi-conscious person to operate such complex machinery, like a coffee maker, so early in the morning? How can the coffee start working in my body if I can’t even get the equipment functioning properly??

Which leads me to the problem I had with listening and understanding this morning. As usual before I have caffeine in my system, my children like to have a full-on intense conversation with me. I think it’s a cruel joke that they carry out on me, on purpose. Truthfully, I think I answer and nod my head but have no comprehension of what’s going on in the exchange. Zoe was attempting to give me the lowdown on the entire show that she had just finished watching. I was getting several breakfasts ready as well as coordinating the appropriate amount of vitamins for all four of us (I’m not good with math) and figure out the “detailed mechanics” of the caffeine provider. Somewhere in the chaos of my mind, I heard her say this, “…they all got *ucked up.” Huh?? Yeah, I snapped to attention REAL QUICK. When did my five year old start cussing, when did she learn THAT word and where did she learn it from?!?!? Geez, I didn’t think I’d have to worry about protecting my little Kindergartner SO SOON! AND WHY is she using it so casually with me?!? I blurted out, “What? What did you just say?” and then she repeated, “They all got sucked up. In the tornado. The tornado sucked them up.”

Ok, I’ve still got some more years of innocence and protection to go. Whew!

Btw, adrenaline works MUCH faster than caffeine.

I learned a long time ago that a lot of comedians deal with depression and use laughter to cover that up. It was a sad realization to me but then I realized that it’s always been a coping mechanism for me as well. When feeling shy and awkward, I’d tell a joke and people would like me. I learned in junior high (being the outcast / caucasian minority) and in all three of my high schools that I could fit in better if I just made people laugh. It helped to have a crazy, funny, out-going dad and 3 crazy brothers. Laughter is what overwhelmed our meals and scarce family times. But music and laughter have been an integral part of me sustaining this life.

However, I’m finding that I seriously have an addiction to laughter. Oh sure, there are the times when I’d rather silently sit and study the world and people around me. But, for the most part, I find life so much easier to handle if laughter if sought out and shared.

I spent an entire weekend, laughing more than I have in years. I forgot how freeing and energizing it was to laugh.

I also notice that I’ve lost some inches around my waist. Oh yeah! There just aren’t enough, so, look out diet books!

I’m writing a new one: “Tell a Joke + Hear a Joke= Lose weight!”

Oh, which reminds me, Jase and I created an amazing book within the last couple of years. We had this amazing epiphany that when you don’t have money, you don’t eat. So… here is the title and the contents of the entire book:

Lose Weight By Giving Me Your Money

by Jase and Jen Smith

Give us all of your money. It will prevent you from over-eating. Giving us all of your money will also make you feel better because you will be losing weight AND helping the poor, at the same time. The End.

I think it’s pure genius.

So, my third grade son, Malakai, came home from school with homework that his entire class had to do: “Write a letter to your teacher and explain how you will talk less.”

He was confused and didn’t know what he was suppose to write about. I thought I’d give him a clue.

“Obviously your teacher thinks that your entire class talks too much. You all need to explain to her that you are sorry and give her examples of how you will be more respectful and talk less in class.”

He was clearly frustrated by my response and ran upstairs yelling, “I got it, I know what I’m going to write!”

I checked on him a little while later and found he was finishing up his letter.

“Dear Ms. [teacher],

Our class can talk less by using contractions when we talk. We could say more simple sentences. We can just say the connection and not the detials [sic] or story.”

Looks like I need to be the one to do a little less talking.

My daughter is in kindergarten and they have a system in place for good and bad behavior. A vertical color chart has clips that stay in the green for average behavior, can move up to blue — or higher to purple -— for good behavior, and moves down to yellow — then red — for bad behavior.

My daughter replicated this chart yesterday, including clothespins with the name of every member living under this roof written on it. I thought it was cute but didn’t know it actually served a purpose.

I know. She did NOT get her crafty-creativity from me.

She was sounding sick yesterday and should have gone to bed early last night but when I went out with my mom, I failed to let Jase know this. So, she was up late and woke up with croup. When she woke up, I told her that it was my fault that I didn’t let her dad know to put her to bed early. To which she immediately replied, “I need to move down your clip.” So, I moved into the yellow zone(!). Ten minutes later, out of the blue, she passes me, walks over to the chart and says “you can move back up now”.

Later in the morning, she came downstairs and coughed. Which was immediately followed with her saying, “I came downstairs and coughed because I know Cali is sleeping up there.” I turned to her and said, “Thank you so much Zoe! You are so kind and respectful!” To which she replied, “I’m going to move up!” and moved her clip to the blue zone.

This is fun! 🙂

While on subject of her crafts, here’s a couple of pics of a birdhouse she made out of a Capri Sun box, fastened to an outside metal bracket with her Disneyland hat. I think she’s the next MacGyver.