Saturday, December 31, 2016

12:34 December 31

Oldest & youngest Smith cousins.

We are ringing in the New Year in Kentucky with Matt's mom and sister Sarah and her family. Matt and I went on a lunch date and now we're home, watching football with a pot of chili simmering on the stove. Sarah and Dan are out on date now. Baby Joseph is sleeping while the bigger kids play. There's a lot to be thankful for in this particular moment. I suppose that's been the lesson of writing each day this year about gratitude. There's almost always something tucked away in the course of a day that's worthy of gratitude. Even on our hardest days.

Matt and I have talked about how we'd like to carry the twelvethirtyfour Project forward. We will continue to set our daily alarms and try to take a moment to be mindful of what we are thankful for. We will not write here daily, but we are talking about teaming up to post regularly in this space. We'll share more as we know more.

Until then, wishing you and yours a New Year full of love and light. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 30, 2016

12:34 December 30

I'm still enjoying the glow from an awesome birthday yesterday. I'm thankful for and humbled by all the birthday wishes and blessings.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

12:34 December 29 - Happy 40th, Matt!

Window seat #durm #thefed #datenight

Dear Matt,

Today, you turn 40 years old. We met when we were both 18 years old, so today marks your 22nd birthday we’ve celebrated together. I have spent more than half your life (our lives) loving you. We are also nearing the end of a calendar year during which we have written about our daily gratitudes. Today, and every day, I am thankful for you.

I’m grateful for your help. Most recently, we hosted my family for Christmas, and you were up early every day to make breakfast. You washed and folded countless loads of laundry, making sure everyone had clean linens and our kids' new Christmas clothes were ready to wear on our next road trip. While I have come to expect and rely on you to be right beside me, helping with whatever we’ve got going on, I never take it for granted; I appreciate it tremendously.

I’m thankful for your authenticity. Our first decade together felt like smooth sailing. We finished college, got married, found jobs we enjoyed, moved to Durham, got me through law school, and welcomed our precious first child. All along the way, we made a multitude of life-long friends together. Our second, most recent decade has felt much more difficult. While we added two more beautiful, healthy kiddos and managed for me to stay home with them full time, these years have also been punctuated by the loss of your father, my cancer diagnosis, and the financial stress that accompanies being a one-income family while also enduring a major medical crisis. Through it all, you’ve been steady and reassuring. But you’ve also been very honest about your own sadness, anger, and fear. I suppose that’s something we’ll spend the rest of our lives figuring out: how to navigate life’s sorrows--which we can’t help but experience individually and differently--together.

I appreciate your kindness. I often joke that you are just naturally a nicer person than me, but I never want to make light of how truly gracious you are with people--how you put them at ease. How you see and bring out the best in them. I’ve seen this most poignantly in your care and concern for struggling students over your nearly 17 years teaching. No matter how life or society has marginalized these kids, you have done your best to consistently reach out and connect.

Closer to home, I’m grateful for how you honor each of our kids individually: talking books and sports with Tobin, singing and dancing with Evan, and swapping endless knock-knock jokes with Lauren. My favorite view is from the kitchen sink, where I watch you play in the backyard with the kids. Lately, that’s been football with the boys. You come in laughing, giving me a detailed rundown of each boy’s highlights: how Tobin threw a pass with perfect touch and how Evan managed a spectacular catch while being well-defended by his big brother.

Sports has been part of our lives from the beginning. In the fall of our freshman year in college, we watched every game of the World Series together, when my Atlanta Braves won. A few months later, you would initiate me into the fandom of Kentucky basketball, as we followed their championship run together. These days, we still watch SportsCenter most mornings, with our coffee, in the quiet before the kids awaken and make their mad dash out the door for school. I’m thankful that we’ve passed on our love of sports to our kids--that we’re cheering them on from the stands and sidelines at their own games now.

I am thankful for your love. More than anyone in my life--family or friend--you have made me feel most at ease in my own skin. You have made me feel adored, even when I have felt least lovable. That has been especially true in recent years when I’ve felt quite broken in body and spirit. You’ve always had tremendous faith in me--whether starting a new job, navigating motherhood, or facing illness. Your confidence in me has been my lifeline.

In a very blessed life, I count as my greatest gift that we met each other when we did and that we’ve spent so much time together already. I’m grateful for the decades behind us and hopeful for the ones to come. Thank you for being you. Happy birthday!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

12:34 December 28

Today on our road trip, we listened to two different versions of "Microphone Fiend." At different points today, since making it to my mom's house, I've heard all three kids saying to themselves "A smooth operator operating correctly. . ."

I'm thankful for kids who accept and love all kinds of music, and I'm thankful for Eric B. & Rakim.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

12:34 December 27

Today our Walsh family left, heading to Georgia to spend a couple extra days with my sister and her family. In this Season in which we celebrate the arrival of God as Child, it is so very poignant that we welcome two new children into our family.

My sister Ashley and her husband Donnie have been on a years-long journey to start a family. They have most recently been trying to adopt, and through a serious of unexpected and fortunate events, they welcomed a daughter, Tamrah, into their home earlier this month. You can read more of their story here. We enjoyed a brief visit with Tamrah in our home, playing with her cousins, over the last couple days. Tamrah, Ashley, and Donnie epitomize courageous love, and I'm thankful for each of them and the chance to spend some time together.

Today we are doing laundry and packing, preparing to travel tomorrow to visit Matt's family in Kentucky, where will meet our new nephew Joseph, born to Matt's sister Sarah and her husband Dan, the day before Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for my kids' excited anticipation of meeting their baby cousin.

I'm grateful for an abundance of love in our extended family this holiday season.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

12:34 December 25

I'm grateful for a Christmas at home--with lots of love, laughter, food, football, and family.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

12:34 December 24

I'm thankful for gumbo, cookies, family in town, and the first Christmas Eve I've spent in North Carolina in about 20 years living here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

12:34 December 23

It's Christmas Eve Eve. The boys are sleeping on a pallet on our floor. Our small house is overflowing with guests. I finished my holiday shopping and baking just today. I'm not so good at doing Christmas. But tonight, I've adjusted to the crowd in the house, watched my children spend all day playing and basking in the adoration of family other than us, and even managed a dinner date night out with Matt. I'm grateful for this holiday, in all its staying-home-and-hosting peculiarity.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

12:34 December 22

The boys used to sleep in the same bed on these sheets at our old house. Tonight, they're sleeping in them again as we begin to welcome family into town for Christmas. I'm thankful for family and memories, old and new.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12:34 December 21

I'm thankful that the holiday break has finally rolled around.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12:34 December 20

I was getting annoyed with Lala at dinner tonight. She was relentless, and I had a moment where I wondered the last time either Allison or I finished a sentence. She continued in that mode for a while, then dropped this note.

It was a good reminder that she's exploring and expressing and pushing, but that's what she's supposed to do. I tried to right my attitude after, and we had a sweet bedtime story and end to our evening. I'm thankful for tangible reminders of the full scope of her spirit.

Monday, December 19, 2016

12:34 December 19

I survived today. By "survived," I mean all I have left to do is bake cookies, address Christmas cards, and watch football. I'm thankful to be at this point in the day.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12:34 December 18

I got to watch our kids interact with other kids and adults at church and at a party for the staff at school today. I'm thankful for their confidence and comfort being themselves around others.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

12:34 December 17

At the end of a long week, that included a lot of work for me, I was thankful for the chance to sleep in and spend time with my family and our neighbors.

Friday, December 16, 2016

12:34 December 16

I'm thankful for a great long-term substitute at work who has helped me tremendously over the last few weeks.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12:34 December 15

On a cold night, after a very busy day for all of us, I'm grateful to share a meal of chili and some post-dinner music.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

12:34 December 14

I was genuinely angry for a brief time today. It was exhausting, and made me feel on edge for a while. It was also a good reminder of how infrequently I feel like that. I'm thankful that anger is largely an alien emotion in my life right now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12:34 December 11

I'm grateful for a restful almost-winter day of church, football, pizza, and a cozy fire.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

12:34 December 10

Allison wrote nicely about Tobin's class's celebration last night. I took this picture while he was presenting his work and fielding questions from his mom. I'm thankful for how much of his personality is conveyed in this snapshot: his sense of joy, sense of humor, confidence in his work, and love for his mom.

Friday, December 09, 2016

12:34 December 9

Tobin and his friend Margaret, who is a Duke freshman. Together, they worked on a month's-long project, meeting at least once a week. It's a wonderful program organized by T's teacher and Margaret's professors.

Back in September, Tobin was paired up with Margaret, a Duke freshman, as part of a months-long service-learning project--a collaboration developed by Tobin's teacher and Margaret's professors. The student pairs met weekly to work on a project of their choosing. Margaret and Tobin, both avid readers, decided to consider what makes a great book.

Tobin & Margaret (not pictured) presented their Great Books project last night to all Tobin's classmates & their families.

Tonight, Tobin, Margaret, and all the other college-elementary student pairs presented their projects to Tobin's classmates and their families. We started with a potluck dinner, featuring everything from homemade tamales to roast lamb. Then we all wandered the halls of the third floor of T's school to view the project presentations. The projects covered, among other things: cooking, geodes, rockets, Anime, and warrior history.

t and margaret at the duke buddies' celebration.

At the end of the evening, we all gathered in a classroom to view two stop-motion films created by student pairs. (Bonus: you can view Tobin's best friend Oskar's film produced with his friend Allie here.) Then the students exchanged gifts and hugs, and Tobin's teacher Mr. Rogers (seen above) facilitated the students sharing what they were grateful for. Tobin said, "I'm grateful for almost everything, but especially Margaret."

I'm thankful Tobin has opportunities like these in his public school. We are immeasurably grateful for Tobin's classroom teacher, who in this project and many others--including production of a Shakespeare play in the spring--builds community among his students. Matt observed that this project is a testament to the power of relationships in education. I'm grateful for the beautiful diversity in culture and interest on display in our potluck dinner and the project presentations. And I'm also thankful for Margaret, who put my somewhat shy kid at ease and helped him confidently explore his love of reading.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

12:34 December 8

I'm thankful each of the kids was reading a book right before bedtime tonight.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

12:34 December 7

Today, I was very mindful of the many connections to people in my life, past and present. I'm thankful for those--for the memories they evoke and the possibilities they offer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

12:34 December 6

Evan said something this morning that I've thought about all day. I've had the De La Soul song "Here In After" stuck in my head for a few days. It opens with a few lines about having lost loved ones:
I ain't tryna waste this
Took a long time cryin', cryin' ain't a crime.
I got my mom, she passed away, my daddy ain't alive
Before they murdered Fudge, I prayed for more time
Had y'all on my mind all week--I missed the last
Evan, being the empathetic soul that he is, asked whether Dave's mom and dad were really dead. I told him they were, as far as I knew. We listened to the song a little more, then he smiled a big smile and said "I just can't believe someone can make the truth sound so beautiful."

I've thought a lot about what it might mean to make the truth beautiful. I guess it's a struggle sometimes to see beauty the way things are. That's also what makes it special when it pops up. I'm thankful for Evan especially today, but also for beautiful truths and those who note, sing, and celebrate them.

Monday, December 05, 2016

12:34 December 5

I'm thankful for butternut squash soup. Tonight was the first time I've made it since last winter/early spring.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

12:34 December 4

I'm thankful for De La Soul. I listened to their most recent album while running home from church today. Their first record was the first CD I ever bought, and I feel like we've grown up together.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

12:34 December 3

We are expecting to not be away from home much over the holidays, so we got a real Christmas tree for the first time. The kids are fascinated by its size and smell and curious that we have to water it. Lala hugged the tree before she went to bed. I'm thankful to be in the midst of making fun memories.

Friday, December 02, 2016

12:34 December 2

I'm thankful for friends who check in on me at work and offer their assistance. This was a long week made better by good teamwork.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

12:34 December 1

I'm thankful for a Thursday night out, followed by a Friday off.