So, I've decided to change my attitude this month, since it's all about Giving Thanks. Or at least I have made that decision during this exact moment on this particular day (or maybe it's because of the extra hour we picked up.) Whatever the case may be, I am going to spend each day of November thinking about what I am thankful for and take the time to appreciate what I have. Since this lovely idea came to me six days into the month, today I am going to list six things I am grateful for - and since family is first that means I am starting out with my mom, my husband, my brother and sister (they're a team, because we are a team...a team of siblings...Go Team EMB), my precious baby and stepkids, my dado and my in-laws. I mean really, I have a super fantastic family; all of my aunts and uncles that check up on me all of the time (even if it is to leave me voicemails about rich Chinese billionaires, Uncle Rick), send me such sweet, thoughtful presents (loving the lotion and body wash Aunt Mary and Aunt Pauline) and the gigantic carmel apple (Aunt Kathy and Uncle Doug) and the flowers (Uncle Mark and Aunt Maureen), the pizzas (Aunt Connie and Uncle Hugh), and Evan's favorite toy, his glow worm (Aunt Miriam and Uncle Joe). Oh, and we can't forget our precious Cousin Conner who sent Evan the Miracle Suit to sleep in - he looks like a sumo wrestler.
But let me take a moment to explain my family to you:
November 1: I am most appreciative of the most genuine, self-less, amazing woman I know, my mom. The second she knew I needed her, she quit her job and essentially moved in. My mom has pretty much been raising Evan since I am unable to do it and there is no one better for the job. I know that no one can love him and kiss him and care for him the way that I can, except for my mom. She has put her life on hold while I put my life back together and I am so grateful for her. She never complains, never says she wishes her own time back and never lets me down. She has watched me go through this roller coaster of a year and is always 100% supportive, even when I am pouting about not wanting to do something. I am so thankful...and so lucky.
November 2: P.S. These are in no particular order. I am sitting in my bed with an empty spot next to me because Brian is out of town, but of course, I am thankful for my amazing husband. Last night, we went out for the first time since my surgery and had so much fun together. It's these moments when we aren't fighting cancer or managing three kids and two careers and millions of calls to insurance companies and doctors that I realize how much we are meant to be together. He is still my amazing partner, a brillant manager and devastatingly handsome. I am so lucky he has been by my side during this time; I have needed his directness with doctors, his shoulder to cry on and his hand during Evan's delivery, my chemo, my kidney stone, my mastectomy, my nausea, my fatigue, etc. I have not been the best partner the past six months but Brian hasn't waivered once. I am so happy the love of my life is by my side.
November 3: Noogs and BK. Or Meghan and Bryan. I couldn't have two better siblings or better godparents for Evan. Meg is another surrogate Mom to Evan, taking care of him while I can't. She often volunteers her time to help out with Gavin and Cohen on nights where it just gets crazy here. I told her that I needed her help while I am recovering from surgery and she postponed her kickboxing class for eight weeks to be there for me. Plus, she tries so hard to make me feel pretty even when I have no hair, no eyelashes, no eyebrows and the inability to work out. Meg sends me at least one card a week in the mail telling me to be strong and encouraging me to get through this. My sister is so thoughtful. And my brother....even though he isn't near and has a crazy busy schedule in NYC, he sends me so many texts just to see how I'm doing. He worked out his schedule to fly home for Evan's baptism and likes to check in to see how we all are doing. And even though BK has his own health challenges, he is so complimentary to me about how I am handling mine. I am so lucky to have such involved siblings and know that they will be just as close to Evan as I am to my aunts and uncles.
November 4: My sweet little Evy Pie and Gavin and Cohen. I didn't realize I could love someone so much as my little Evan. Not only did he save my life - my getting pregnant helped to detect my cancer - but he showed me what it really means to unconditionally love and put someone else before myself. He is just as sweet as can be. His health issues, including his reflux, break my heart, because it's so hard to see him in pain. But I am grateful that Grand Rapids has excellent medical care and we are going to get his little tummy all figured out. And for my two stepsons, Gavin and Cohen...stepsons has such a negative connotation, but I just feel so blessed that they are such good boys and such wonderful older brothers to Evan. Gavin and I just spent time working on his student council election (he won!) and Cohen and I came up with a school-approved Halloween costume. They are warm and gentle and lovely and I am so thankful.
November 5: My Dado. Never has there been someone who doesn't complain and works hard and is at his happiest when his family is around, like my Dado. Any drive and self-motivation I have comes from him. Only my dad can run marathons, start a new career at 56, tell his wife how beautiful she is everyday and make sure that he calls all of his kids at least once every few days. And like his father before him, Foster, he loves when all of his family is with him (especially if that time includes happy hour). The name was passed on to my dad and brother and we were honored to pass it along to Evan Foster. My dad is an amazing man and I am blessed to have grown up with a such a fantastic role model.
November 6: Not only did I win the lottery of step-families, I also won the in-law lottery. I love Brian's family. From the beginning, they have accepted and loved me and included me in everything they do, including my quirky, non-Murray ways. Brian's mom, Cindy, is all things gentle, sweet and compassionate. She even lets me tell her when to stop spoiling her grandchildren (though she doesn't like it). Ed is always there for me when I'm ready to talk about things, and is even often there to talk to me even when I am not ready :) For the Murray family picture, I pulled the cancer card on Ed and begged him to take one with the entire family in December. He finally relented. And I adore Brian's sisters. Tricia lives in Rochester with her family and Alison is in Colorado but I love when we are all able to get together. It's an interesting family dynamic and I love even more when all of the Murrays get going and Jim and I can roll our eyes at each other :) I think it's fabulous that all of the cousins get along so well - Gavin and Cohen love Laney and Kylie like their sisters...and it will be so fun to watch Evan and Jameson grow up together, being only five months apart. So, picture soon to come, once I drag them all to the photographer in December. At least they comply with me.
So, six down, twenty-four to go. I have so much to be thankful for; the only way this list could get any better is if I had a scanner to include some really old pictures. Because friends are next on my list and I would love to show you the sweet photos that Gwennie and I had taken in eighth grade, with crayons, or the pictures that Lacey, Katie and I have with gigantic sunglasses on when we were 19. But stay tuned...