Thankful, Grateful, Blessed


If you are friends with me on Facebook you likely saw my oversharing of photos from this past weekend. (Sorry) I had the opportunity to take a trip to Houston with Karlena to visit my best friend Gindi and her daughter Lillie. We also got to spend a little time with my dear friend Cathryn and her daughter as well. Cathryn was a friend of Gindi’s and over the past year I have gotten to know her through Gindi and Voxer and it has been such a gift to share life with these women every day.

It was the first time that I have ever traveled alone with one of our kids. Karlena was both excited and nervous. She was a wonderful travel companion and it was so much fun watching her experience all of these new things. Her unique personality came out this weekend and it was interesting seeing a different side of her outside of our family unit.

I was worried about Karlena being shy around Lillie, but the moment she got in the car they started talking and they played so well together the entire weekend. At one point they both needed a little alone time to rest, but there wasn’t any fighting or arguing. Gindi and I talked about how it was just such a joy to see our girls becoming friends. Just a few short years ago she and I were strangers and today I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.

We had dinner on Friday night at a yummy Mexican restaurant, Los Tios. On Saturday the kids had breakfast, made cut-out sugar cookies and played and we got ready to head out to see an afternoon showing of the Nutcracker. Gindi had some very special tickets to the show and so we were treated to some light snacks before the show, pictures with a couple of the characters, a beautiful nutcracker to take home as a gift and the most fabulous ballet production as well. The costumes were stunning, it was definitely a show to see if you are ever in Houston in December!

Saturday night Cathryn came by with her daughter Carsyn and the girls decorated sugar cookies and had a little “contest” where everyone was a winner in one way or another! Next we loaded up the car with hot chocolate in hand to drive around and see some of the beautiful light displays that Houston residents have to offer. My favorite were the wrapped trees with the light strands that hung down. I don’t suppose that would work in the cold and snow of Minnesota, but it sure was beautiful.

Sunday morning we went to church and then made a stop at a nearby mall so that Karlena could experience the American Girl store for the first time. She was so overwhelmed, she walked in and told me that she was just shaking all over. I had a weak moment and let her pick out a little dog that she has since carried at her side non-stop. We made a few more stops in the mall and then went back home for lunch and relaxing a little before our next big event.

We had tickets to see a Broadway production of Sleeping Beauty on Sunday evening. So we went downtown to the Hobby Center and had dinner and then went over to see the show. We all thought that we were seeing the classic fairy tale rendition, but this version was a bit different. They had a bunch of audience participation, which was good to keep the kids awake through a show that lasted until 10pm, but there was a lot of “adult” humor in the show, many Houston related jokes and some songs that were way over Karlena’s head. I was entertained, but I think we expected something completely different!

Karlena showed her first real signs of being homesick on Sunday night. She climbed into bed with me that night in tears telling me that she felt so lonely and just wanted to see her brothers and daddy again. It was really sweet and was such a precious reminder of how valuable our entire family is.

On Monday we got up and Sam, one of Lillie’s brothers was home so Karlena got to hang out with a brother figure for a few hours! After breakfast Gindi pulled out gingerbread house kits and the girls got to decorating. They had planned on doing it the day before so there wasn’t an extra house for Sam, but he didn’t mind. He got out some graham crackers and set to work making his own gingerbread creation. It was fun to see him make something so amazing.

Sadly after we cleaned up our mess it was time to shower and pack and get ready to head to the airport. While our trip was a short one it felt like we filled it with so much laughter and fun. It was interesting because we got on the plane and Karlena said that she was glad to be going home, but she had tears in her eyes as she said how much she would miss Lillie. I think we all can understand that struggle when we leave a piece of our hearts with dear friends that live far away!

I too was excited to be heading home to see my family, and yet so very grateful to have been given the time to get away. We come home to a busy week of last minute things before celebrating Christmas with our families. A winter storm is now in the forecast for later in the week and we had to make some changes to our work travel schedule as a result. And I have a pre-op appointment with my Doctor on Wednesday to discuss my surgery which as I write this is a mere 9 days away. Life keeps speeding on by it seems….

But this weekend I was so blessed to be able to spend some time laughing with my girl and my best friends and it filled me up in more ways than I can count. Thankful, grateful, blessed indeed.

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