Saturday, December 31, 2016
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
Thursday, December 29, 2016
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
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
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
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
our brilliant, sometimes-maddening, hilarious, contentious, loving, pugnacious, gracious, tough, funny 5-yr-old has taken to leaving little guerilla notes like this (this particular note left minutes after being banished from her brothers' room for "rubbing her bottom on my blanket! her REAL bottom!")A photo posted by Matt Smith (@heymattsmith) on
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
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
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
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 09, 2016
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.
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.
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
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
I ain't tryna waste thisEvan, 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."
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
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.