Thanks; Giving of

This morning, all of my children were up at 7:30. This NEVER happens. I have to drag the last two out of bed, crying and screaming for the nearest Child Services group, at the latest possible minute. But today, they were all up. The boys got the baby out of her bed while I brewed coffee, and then, later, while I stood out on the deck with my morning coffee and cigarette (yeah, I smoke. I'm ok with it, so back off) and I listened to my children have a Smackdown Showdown in the living room. It was total WrestleMania 3000. I listened to the slightly-deeper-than-they-used-to-be ughs and the barely-audible-except-to-dogs eeks and the pre-pubescent-shrilly oh-my-balls! and it hit me just how much I have to be grateful for.

I am thankful for:

My children. If you need the whys of it, I have 800 or so blog posts I can direct you to. But I am so happy that there are 3, and that they have a huge age gap. I am thankful for what they teach each other when no one's looking.

I am thankful for the 8,429 stretch marks I have. Even after my kids are gone to college and grown up life, I have the roadmaps they left behind. I can re-trace their lives through them. They take their futures and do whatever they choose with them, but I will always be the keeper of their beginnings. I wouldn't trade those stretch marks for the world. I would, however, consider trading them for better boobs.

My husband, who allows me this privilege to dedicate the past 9 and the next 16 years of my life to raising our children. Lots of men give good lip-service to the importance of staying home with your kids; he gets it. He values what I do, and I will never not be grateful for that. He lets me spend way too much money at the grocery store, and is currently eating the babies toes so I can bake cookies even though there is a pile of laundry the size of a small elephant I should be washing right now. He is also starving himself today to keep room for my dinner. That's just flattering.

My brother, who taught me many things, including how to defend myself against duct tape while I slept, who taught me how to cook, and who showed me that anyone can be great, even those of us from the humblest beginnings. I am thankful for his wife, who gave him the reason to be who he is.

The 6 empty seats at my table today. Somewhere in Denver, 5 people will sit down to dinner, and we will not be there. Somewhere in Vietnam, a baby will spend the day being loved by her momma and daddy, her grandparents, uncle, and auntie who are too far away. I will wish they were all here, and I will wish it so much that it hurts, and I am thankful that I have them to love so much that there is a gaping hole in my world while I'm away.

I am thankful that my mother-in-law is in South Africa right now. Who in their right mind WOULDN'T be happy about that? Seriously, though, she is one year into two years in the Peace Corps, and thought I question her decision to go, holy smokes is she setting a good example of giving back and doing good for my sons.

My internet connection. Without it, I may have waited on Andy and David in a bar, and they may have hit on me, and that would have been that. I never, ever would have met The Retropolitan, or Kelly, or Diane, or Ron, or Beth and Chris, or any of you who share your lives with us all. I never would have found my brothers who are sweet and lovely and, I am sad to say, quite hot (thank you MySpace). You guys make it lovely. Thank you.

I am thankful that no matter how hard I try, my house is always a cluttery mess. That just means that we have more than we need, and I am thankful every day for that.

Oh, hell, I could do this all day long. I am thankful for every day that I have, for all the ups, all the downs, all the laughter and lessons. I am thankful that I can learn, and read, and that I can grow, and that I can love. I am thankful that I can accept where I came from, and choose where I'm going, and know that those two things don't have to be the same. And dear god in heaven, am I ever thankful for chocolate.