Little things I’m thankful for, day 7: my family

The past six days of “little things I’m thankful for” posts have been about things that somehow make my life easier. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d write about the people I am most thankful for (and the reason I started this blog in the first place): my family.

I am thankful that I married Chase. He is so patient (unlike me) and such a hands-on, devoted dad. I can handle being a working mom because I have him as a partner. We’re a team and I am so glad that I flew across the country for his brother’s engagement party and met him. I thought he was cute, but he lived in California and I thought California was weird. I still think that, but moving here was the best decision I ever made. I married the love of my life and had two beautiful babies with him.

I am thankful that Clay was my first-born. He is such a sweet, smart, handsome boy. He asks so many questions and never stops talking, but he cares so much and so deeply about everyone. Clay is cautious and introspective. He is honest and loving. Clay will make a wonderful husband someday, but for now I’m thankful that he “wants to live with us forever and make us dinner while we relax and watch TV.”

I am thankful for the joy and light that is my Avery Grace. For the first two years of her life, she only cried if she was tired or hungry and not much has changed. Avery is the type of person that everyone wants to be around – she lights up a room and makes us laugh constantly. She is independent and bossy. She will make boys crazy, but they won’t be able to resist her charm and the way that smile makes them feel like a million dollars.

This Thanksgiving, more than ever before, I feel like I have everything . I am so thankful for our many blessings, but even if we had no material possessions, we would have each other. The patient one, the sweet one, the one who makes me laugh and me. Today, it’s not such a little thing that I am thankful for. Family is everything.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Little things I’m thankful for, day 6: iPads

The scene in our bed, almost every morning…iPad time!

I swore when I had kids, I would not use the TV as a babysitter. I’ve stuck to that promise, since although you can watch shows on it, an iPad is not a TV! iPads are pricey, but if you add up the 30 minutes my kids use them each morning while we get ready, it is cheaper than a babysitter would have been for all those hours. The kids can also turn them on by themselves (unlike our TV that has three different remotes), which saves me time.

My brother is an Apple fanboy, so naturally he bought us our first iPad for Christmas in 2010. Clay was two and I was amazed how easily he could find and watch Elmo videos on YouTube’s Sesame Street Channel. And so it began…we now have two iPads. One has a red cover and the other has a white cover, so we have a “boy iPad” for Clay and Chase and a “girl iPad” for Avery and I.

The kids watch their favorite shows and play games on them. Chase and I read books, check football scores and pull up recipes. iPads are easy to transport and provide entertainment for kids and adults alike. There are many educational options on their iPads, and I feel much better about them using an iPad than I would if I were plopping them down in front of the TV. Each morning I think how thankful I am that my kids can learn and have fun each morning while we get ready. At night when my boss emails me at 10:00 p.m., and I can respond from my bed without even turning on the light, I think the iPad is pretty great for adults, too. Thanks, Apple!

Little things I’m thankful for, day 5: quality child care

I did not plan on including child care in my “little things I’m thankful for,” but today when Clay couldn’t wait to go to school, it seemed fitting. Child care does not save me money or time, but it does save my sanity knowing that my kids are in a happy and safe environment when I am working and that makes quality child care invaluable.

When both kids were babies, we had nannies for the days that I went into the office (I worked from home twice a week). When Clay was 15 months old, we put him in a home daycare and Avery started there at 14 months old. The teachers there are like family to us. They adore our kids and the feeling is mutual.

Our daycare uses a preschool curriculum, but since he turned four this year, we sent Clay to preschool at our local elementary school to get him ready for kindergarten. His school is closed this week, so he is at daycare with Avery. Some kids might not like to go back to daycare after preschool, but Clay could not wait. He told me last night that he was too excited to sleep because he couldn’t wait to go to his “old school.” He was in my room at 5:00 a.m. and told me that his “old friends and teachers were going to gather around him because they would be so excited to see him.”

I’m not sure who was more excited when the kids arrived there this morning – Clay or his teachers. When I picked the kids up this afternoon, they went on and on telling me how well-behaved (maybe they could talk to his preschool teachers?) and smart he is. His daycare teachers were a big part of the kid he’s become, and for that, I’m so thankful.

Little things I’m thankful for, day 3: Amazon Prime

Onto day three…I remember when I was in college, Amazon.com was merely an online bookstore. I loved the smell of a bookstore and liked to flip through books (still do), so I saw no need for this service. Times have changed and so has Amazon. Amazon is not just a bookstore anymore. It’s the world’s largest online retailer, and I could not imagine my life without it.

My statement above may sound a bit extreme, but it’s true. Amazon sells nearly every product you would ever need: from nail polish to grill covers to car seats. I started using them occasionally a few years ago when I found great prices on a new TV and computer. My brother, who is a busy business owner, turned me on to Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a simple and genius service. For $75 per year, you get free two-day shipping on any order. You can also pay $3.99 per item for next day shipping. Often items say they will take two days to arrive, but arrive sooner. I’ve never done the math, but I know I am saving hundreds of dollars in gas alone by using Amazon Prime for our household purchases.

In the past week, I placed four orders, all for small items that arrived at my house in two days or less. This included face wash and lotion, stepstools for the kids, a new dish brush and a book about a mongoose (Clay is obsessed with them since learning they eat King Cobras). To buy the same items I would have had to visit a dermatologist’s office, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and a bookstore. My car gets 14 mpg. The gas money I would have spent shopping for one week’s purchases alone, makes up half of the annual fee.

Even if it weren’t for free/fast shipping, I still might use Amazon Prime. Have you been to a suburban Target on a weekend? Parking alone tests my patience. Going to four different places would have taken me hours. Instead, it took me 30 seconds to order online and five seconds to grab my packages off the porch.

I know this post sounds like a big commercial for Amazon Prime, but that’s okay. And no, they are not paying me, I’m happy to recommend any company that saves me as much time and money as they do. I’m so thankful for Amazon Prime. Now if only they would deliver a Thanksgiving turkey…

Little things I’m thankful for, day 2: drive-through pharmacy

My local CVS (complete with broken “D”)

Before kids, I would go by drive through pharmacies and wonder who used them other than elderly people. Are people really so lazy that they can’t walk into the drugstore? This was coming from a girl in her 20s, who rarely got sick. Gosh, was I naive.

I have been fortunate that Clay has only been prescribed antibiotics twice and Avery never has. (I am knocking on wood right now). Clay was eight months old when he got an ear infection. He was grouchy and uncomfortable. That was my first trip through the drive-through pharmacy. It was great to be able to keep him in his car seat, where he had finally fallen asleep.

My second trip through the drive-through, was only a few weeks later when I developed mastitis. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you’re lucky. It’s like having the flu, but add in the extra treat of having a breast that feels like it’s on fire. Good times! I might have passed out if I got out of my car. The antibiotics my doctor called in were a Godsend and I don’t think I’ve been inside the pharmacy since.

I drove through last night to pick up a prescription for myself. While I waited, I checked email, looked at Facebook and didn’t have to stand in line next to the creepy guy who doesn’t respect others’ personal space. While drive-through prescriptions cost the same as going into the drugstore, you don’t pass by the temptation of gossip magazines and new hair products, so you are less likely to buy things you don’t need. There is a chance you’ll save money after all!

I’ve realized those “lazy people” I used to wonder about are just busy. Thanks, CVS for making the little things easier!

Little things I’m thankful for, day 1: Costco prepared foods

The giant pie from Costco!

This month, several of my friends have done daily Facebook posts acknowledging something for which they are thankful. I think it’s a great exercise, to take the time to recognize all the good in your life, leading up to Thanksgiving. I’ve enjoyed reading their heartfelt posts, but it got me thinking about all the little things I’m thankful for. Particularly things that help make my life easier – saving time or money, or both. I thought it would be fun to do 7 days of “Little things I’m thankful for.” So here goes…

Day 1: I am thankful for prepared food at Costco!

It has been a crazy few weeks at work for both Chase and I, which couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time with social commitments, events at the kids’ schools and the holidays coming up. Chase getting sick this week didn’t help. But in comes Costco to save the day…

We went to Costco as a family on Sunday (yes, we are crazy) and knowing it was going to be a busy week, I bought a rotisserie chicken. I ate it for dinner that night and for the lunch the following two days. I did not have to cook anything, just put it together with a salad or wrap and it cost $4.99. Can’t beat it!

Clay has a Thanksgiving feast at school tomorrow. We’ve had something every night this week, not to mention we’ve been worn out from our crazy work days. I actually don’t mind baking, but I knew I wouldn’t have time. So I ran into Costco last night (on my way to girls’ night) and bought a huge pumpkin pie for $5.99! I couldn’t even make one for that price, not to mention the amount of time it would have taken.

These are just two examples in the past four days. Costco prepared food was made for busy moms, and for that, I am thankful.