hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

Perspective February 28, 2013

Filed under: Family,Inspiration,Kindness — hiddenblessing @ 4:34 pm
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I have been thinking about perspective for some time now.

It started when I went to order a new pair of glasses. It was the most ridiculous purchase ever – I already had a perfectly acceptable pair that I just didn’t like. I was out shopping with E, who needed a new pair, and while I was waiting for him, I tried on a pair of frames. I fell instantly in love.

I thought about it for a few days and when I still just couldn’t quit thinking about them, I knew I had to have them. That’s my qualifier for any really selfish purchase…. IF I have the money and IF I still want them after walking away for a few days, I know it’s not a purchase I will regret. So I tapped into my private rainy-day-slush fund (ok, so tapped isn’t quite right, depleted might be a more accurate choice) and bought them for myself.

I waited and waited and waited for them to come in. It was going on the far end of the 7-10 business days the optical shop promised and I kept checking my phone… did they call yet? No? Ok. Thirty minutes later… did I miss a call? It was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous! But I was soooo excited for these glasses to come in. These glasses were going to be SO AMAZING and so cute and make me feel so happy!

I walked down to the cafeteria to get some lunch and I heard a voice call out my name. As I turned in response, I recognized that voice and inwardly sighed a bit. It was a woman I had worked with a year or two ago who had had cancer. She and I had gotten through all the employment-related mess that treatments and absences bring. Now, after all was said and done, whenever I saw her she emphatically wanted to hug me and talk.

I am a hugger. I really am. I am a big fan of hugging and showing those you care about that you care – it’s just that… in the cafeteria, everyone is watching. And when you are an HR girl, you just can’t quite be a huggy person. And especially not at work. With your employees. The next thing you know, someone’s claiming favoritism, or harassment or God-only knows what else. Plain and simple, it’s just not acceptable for an HR girl to be hugging. People don’t even like to be caught talking with HR people, let alone hug them by the salad bar.

So she calls my name and I sigh, because I know that today is going to be one of those big, public hug-days and I kind of wish I could’ve waited another 30 minutes to decide to walk to the cafeteria. But as I turn and catch a glimpse of her face, something stops me in my tracks. She just looks off.

“Hi,” I greet her as she comes up to me. I’m searching her face to see what’s going on. She offers me a weak smile and reaches out her arm into a half hug. I hug back.

“How are you doing?” she asks and I quickly mutter a dismissive reply, pushing her question away. Her face tells me this is no time for water-cooler chatter. She started to talk and then she choked on her words, breaking off into silence.

I took her back to my office where she sat down and told me that she had just gotten a call. When her doctor was doing some routine followup with her, he found a “suspicious” spot. A “suspicious” spot for a cancer survivor is not an ok thing to have. Suspicious means Danger!! Danger!!, and a much bigger-badder danger than it would mean for a non-cancer survivor.

She stared down at her knees and said softly and quietly, “I can’t do this again.”

So I did the only thing I could do; I pulled HER into a big hug, and I held her as she sobbed.

I don’t know what you say in those moments. So I didn’t say anything at all.

When she left my office a while later, and I ventured back down to the cafeteria to get my forgotten lunch, I thought about my call. Here I had been anxiously waiting for a call about a stupid pair of GLASSES… an idiotic, selfish, vain THING, a PURCHASE… and meanwhile, on the same floor in the same building, another girl was waiting for a call about whether her CANCER was back. We were both anxiously watching our phones; but from completely different angles.

Talk about putting things into perspective.

How much time do I really spend worrying about, thinking about, exerting precious time on… things that matter not one tiny little bit? When I sat on my laptop all last night working my SECOND job, as Little One watched repeated episodes of Dora and climbed into my lap and I got mad because he accidentally caused me to send an email to a whole contact list instead of one person… how ridiculous. How completely unimportant.

I need to readjust those new glasses of mine, and hope that I can keep some perspective on what’s really important.

It doesn’t matter whether you think life is half full, or half empty… it’s recognizing the precious gift of having a glass to begin with.

Cheers, my friends.

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Silent night December 19, 2012

Filed under: Inspiration,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 11:13 am
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Silent night…

                Peace.  Love.  Gentleness.

This is all I know how to do, to try to offset the horror that befell our nation a few short days ago.  Speak softly.  Kiss my children’s sweet sleeping faces at night before I tiptoe out of their rooms.  Gaze out into the backyard and look up at the starry sky.  Remember that there have been other tragedies, too.  Breathe deeply.  Trust.  Close my eyes and ears to the constant media coverage.  Reading it again and again only intensifies the sorrow; more details don’t make the tragedy any greater or any less.   Unplug from society’s chatter.  Really look at my beautiful children, and tell them I love them.  Spend time talking to them, enjoying them, soaking them in.  Put down my fears.  Rest.

 

Holy night…

                I went to church on Sunday.  It has been a long time since I’ve been there.  But I went because I needed to feel comfort.  I needed to remember I am a child of God, and be surrounded by others who share my beliefs.  Together we are stronger than alone.  I needed to put some perspective on this season, to remember the reason that we are celebrating Christmas in the first place.  To remember that Christ was born to save us.  There is no evil in the world, not even a psychotic school shooter, who can conquer God.   We will be ok.  Our hearts are broken and grieving with the families in Connecticut; we are now fearful to send our children to their schools where we thought they were safe, but in the end, God is still with us. 

At night, when I lay in bed, I hold a space for God.  I ask him to come into this space, where I will be quiet, I will just listen.  My soul hears what my ears and mind cannot. 

 

All is calm…

                This is a month of many fears, many tragedies.  Is there something in the air that is causing so much chaos and fear?  Something that’s not tangible, something we can’t see, but we are feeling in our hearts?  I wrote some time ago about letting go and giving it to God.  Having faith.  Trusting in God.  This is the most important thing, I think.  My beliefs have changed and evolved many times over the years, but right now, I’m circling back to my earliest Christian beliefs.  I was taught at a very young age that Satan wants to steal us away from God, to cause us to turn our faces from him.  He wants to tempt us into serving Ego, Selfishness, Greed and Fear. 

                I also learned that when the end of the world was near, Jesus would come from Heaven and save all of those who believed in Him.  What if… the horrors we are experiencing, the fears that are continuously being introduced to us, the warnings and the alarms and the dangers… are truly a test of our faith and trust in Him?  A temptation of Satan, to cause us to lose our faith, our trust… our joy?

                Psalm 56:4 

                In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?

 

All is bright…

                I look around at all the beautiful lights of the season.  The twinkling of lights on the tree in my home, the soft glow of the tiny white candle I lit in remembrance, the homes on the streets that sparkle in all their holiday beauty. 

                I will be a light in the darkness.  

This darkness that has put a cloud over the world may be large, but it’s not large enough to extinguish the light of the good in the world.   There are too many blessings, too much laughter, and too much belief in the power of Love for darkness to ever conquer.   Believe in this.  Have faith in this.   Look deep into your heart and listen to what your soul knows to be true.  Trust. 

We are loved.  We are safe.   The essence of what is really truly us cannot be harmed by anything, anything¸ on earth.  We existed before we were born.  We will exist when we no longer walk this earth.  There is no weapon, no chemical, no illness, no person who can ever change that.  And the same is true for our love.  This time spent on earth is just one rest stop on much bigger travels.

 

                1 Corinthians 13:6-7

                Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

 

                Always.

Merry Christmas to you my friends.  I wish you love, and comfort and peace… true, soul-soothing peace.. this Christmas.  Shalom.

 

My top five September 11, 2012

Filed under: Family,Kindness,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 10:32 pm
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I came across an article today that was titled Ten Things I Hate About Being A Dad. Ouch. I’m not sure I would ever want my children to have a list in hand of all the things I supposedly “hated” about being a parent. Talk about a guilt trip.

Now obviously, being a parent is not easy, by any means. It’s not even fun all the time. That includes me… there are nights, tonight happening to be one of them, that I am tired and grumpy and less than the mama I’d like to imagine myself. At one point, B and I were arguing like mad and at another, a saleslady in a store we were at was trying to bribe my children with candy because quite frankly, it was total mayhem and the line was ridiculous. But even so, I still love it. Even when it’s ugly and hard and infuriating and I’d really just like to hide away with a glass of wine and earplugs.

Now that my kids are in bed and my blood pressure has returned to a relatively normal level, I want to add my two cents about that Top Ten. Here are the top five things that I LOVE MOST about being a mom.

1. Walking through grocery stores with Baby L. I’m not talking about Walmart, mind you. We already know how that goes. But I’m talking the better moments… the ones where he insists on wearing his cowboy boots and Superman cape. The ones where he says “hi” to every man and woman over the age of sixty, and he wants to talk to every “friend” who is under three feet tall. Where the grandmas smile at me, and him, and I pray that I remember these moments and are not TOO jealous when I don’t have a small, fuzzy-headed baby whose legs pull up and his bottom sticks out when I pick him up. He doesn’t actually do that anymore, and I already miss it a little bit. Thank God he’s still tiny enough to let me kiss his squishy cheeks whenever I want to. But that pride I feel, that love that swallows me up, when I am out and about with a happy baby.

2. Holidays. There is so much magic in celebrating holidays with children. Now make no mistake, grown-up holidays are fun, too. I absolutely love long, leisurely dinners filled with wine and celebration with friends and family. But I love the magic that reflects in my children’s eyes even more. I love everything about it… the dyeing of Easter eggs, the messy carving of pumpkins. Mailing off lists to Santa and grinning at the explosion of wrapping paper that has engulfed my living room after presents have been opened. Making cookies that I know will be eaten almost as quickly as I can get them out of the oven. The shock and awe at the possible sighting of the sleigh in the sky and the way they squish their eyes closed to wish for sleep to come THAT VERY SECOND BECAUSE WHAT IF SANTA IS REALLY, REALLY CLOSE??? Reading “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the holidays.

3. Getting woken up in the night. Now bear with me here… I’m not saying that I love it for the sake of being woken up. But I love that my sleepy B still comes crawling into my bed and snuggles right up to me when he can’t sleep or has had a bad dream. I love the way his eyes are puffy and they roll back in happiness when I run my fingers through his hair. I love that he tells me more about his life in the middle of the night than any other time, and I love the way he yells random things in his sleep. I love that Baby L still sleeps with his butt in the air and cries out for me in the middle of the night because he wants his sippy cup refilled with water. I look at E and I already miss this. Every once in a great, great while he will watch a scary movie and come wake me up to talk to me about it. And I am absolutely ok with that…. it’s so rare now. I have to cherish the few times it does happen.

4. Activities. I think about all of the things that I can do without any concern for what anyone else thinks, purely because I have children with me. Disney movies? Absolutely. If I didn’t have the boys, I’m pretty sure I’d be a little self-conscious renting The Lorax. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t even know what The Lorax was. Think of all the movies I would have missed if I didn’t have them… Up. Shrek. Tangled. Rio. We go to the pool all the time, and even if I would rather NOT be wearing a swimsuit in public, when your boy begs you to go down the “toilet bowl” water slide with him… YOU DO IT. I can say with almost 100% certainty that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have kids. Going to carnivals. Pumpkin patches. Kite flying. Cheering like a crazy girl at the parade because it’s my children’s buddies out there marching and doing cartwheels in the street. Watching baseball and soccer games, sitting for hours at swim meets. Yes, we are busy. Too busy. But if I had a choice between being a mama and camping in 100 degree heat with a group of Boy Scouts, or being at home, alone, with an armful of books and a cup of tea, I would still choose to be a mama. I’ve got years to read and drink tea. I’ve got only a few to camp with Boy Scouts.

But number 5 has to take the cake. The number one thing I love most about being a mama is nearly impossible to put into words. It’s the way it makes me FEEL to know that these beautiful children are mine. That it is my responsibility, and duty, and the biggest blessing imaginable, to have been given these children to nurture. I love the sheer joy that caring for these sweet boys has brought me. I love the pride that fills up within me, and sometimes spills over and down my cheeks, and the gut-wrenching devotion they inspire in me. The raw, pure, fierce desire to protect and cherish and honor and love these human beings.

Goodnight, my friends. Sweet dreams.

 

This Way to ADHD August 30, 2012

Filed under: Parenting — hiddenblessing @ 12:47 pm
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Child Putting on Shoes“>

Photo credit to Poppy Thomas-Hill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkpoppyimages/

I was at a party the other night, with a roomful of people I didn’t know. I was listening to a woman talk about her new husband’s children and somehow the topic of ADHD came up.  She immediately began to very loudly express her views on ADHD, which were something like this:

“There is no such thing as ADHD or ADD. There’s not! It’s totally made up. It’s a concept made up by teachers who just don’t want to deal with kids. It’s just an easy way out for parents and teachers who just don’t want to deal! What they really need to do is just DO THEIR JOB and parent their kids and DEAL with these kids’ behaviors.”

I nearly choked on my drink as I turned to her, just waiting to hear what more insight this woman had to share.  My best friend and I made eye contact over the people in our small circle, and I just sadly shook my head.

One of my children has ADHD.  It is not, and I repeat this in the biggest possible letters ever, NOT from a lack of parenting, discipline or teaching.  My husband and I have “parented” him relentlessly.  My boy has been in time-out so many times in his short life that I’m surprised the carpet isn’t worn out on the stairs where we send him to sit.  We have tried charts and redirection and rewards and, yes, turning the other cheek.  We’ve counseled, talked, taken things away, grounded him… you name it, we’ve tried it.

ADHD is an ugly, snarling beast.  I wish it was something made up, because if it were, I promise you I would have found a way around it.  What nerve this woman had, to tell a roomful of people she didn’t know (or not very well, obviously) about how it was due to a lack of parenting.  She has no idea.

I promise you, she has never wiped tears away from her child’s face as he cries to her that he “just must be bad.”  She has never sat in a roomful of people  and watched as a teacher shook her child’s homework at her and spat his name out with frustration and intolerance.  She has never tried to explain to her child why it is that he has to take pills every morning, when no one else has to. She has never sat up late at night, worried about how to help her child be successful when he struggles to get through five minutes of homework, let alone eight hours at school.  Or interrupted a birthday party sleepover to bring meds, because she is afraid he will never get invited back again if he wakes up and doesn’t have his pills right away.

Or the worst – which is, totally lost her cool and yelled at her child for his inability to brush his teeth, put on his shoes and get his backpack on in the last fifteen minutes before they walk out the door for the day.  This is the one that happens the most frequently… and the one we struggle the very most with.

Just put your shoes on. Please!  No – don’t look at the TV.  Why is the TV even on?  I turned it off twice already!  I don’t care if the Annoying Orange is almost over.  It’s time to go.  Shoes. SHOES! … What are you doing NOW?  Put down the cat.  SHOES.  Just shoes!

This is the one that haunts me through my whole day.  Because he’s at school and I can’t pull him into my arms and apologize for yelling at him.  I can’t try to explain how mama just needs him to please remember to get his shoes on and his teeth brushed because it would make our mornings so much easier.  I can’t be sure that he’s not hurting and sad, because the last thing he remembers of his mom that morning was how angry she was. Again.

But here is what I know to be true. This beautiful child, this marvelous boy… this is my son.  He was given to ME for a reason.  There is a life lesson, something he and I are supposed to learn together, and this is why he is mine.  ADHD is a monster, for sure.  I hate the fears, tears and pain it has brought into my sweet child’s life.  But it’s a monster that for whatever reason, God chose to place in our path.  And slay it, we will.  One way or another.

For his sake, if I could choose to make it go away, I would.  Of course.  What mother wouldn’t?  I want what all mothers want for their children – for them to be happy, to love and be loved, to choose paths that honor the bright light that is them, and nothing else.  ADHD doesn’t change any of that, it just makes the road a bit more thorny than others.  There are a few more dips in the road.  But dips in the road only make your legs stronger, in the end.

But for me – for me alone, I wouldn’t choose any differently. I have learned so much on this journey.  For starters, it put me in my place.  It slapped me across the face and showed me that I’m not half the mom I thought I was.  And then it yanked me back onto my feet and told me to get working.  In the end, who knows?  Perhaps I will actually be a better mom for having trudged through this particular forest.  It taught me patience, and how to pick my battles.  It brought me friends – other moms who have the same fears and frustrations and breaking points.

It also is my real-life story of not judging until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes.  Miss Lady At The Party, I really do wish that what you said was true.  I wish it were true for every child who truly struggles with ADHD and other learning disabilities, because it would make it so much easier to fix.  And you know what?  I don’t know what your story is, and maybe you have a personal experience with a teacher that led you to form the belief you did.  But for me, and the other mamas out there who fight this with their sons and daughters, please don’t tell us it’s because of a lack of parenting or a lack of discipline.

My sweet child and I are walking through this snarly, bramble-filled path together.  And it is exactly because of parenting, that we will be just fine in the end.

 

Going to miss this July 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 6:33 pm
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At this very moment, L is wearing a superhero cape and licking his arm.  Barney is singing in the background (I didn’t know Barney was still around), E is getting set up the scrabble board for us to play a game, and B has rode his bike to a friend’s house to play.

Life is good.

Very good.

I sat on the deck with my sweet hubby the other night, and we had a rare night of lots of conversation, talk about dreams, our home, our kids, our jobs.  He had gone inside for a moment and I sat, looking out into the yard, reflecting.  It was just one of those beautiful moments that you are completely present and totally aware of just how amazing this life is.  I looked at my wrought iron table, our empty glasses resting on it, the solar globes softly lit in the corner of the deck, the moon and stars shining down upon the hush of the yard in the night.   No texting, no Facebook, no glow of electronic applications interrupting us.  It was just us and the sky and the yard and our dreams… our beautiful boys all snug and safe in their cozy beds inside and absolutely nothing more pressing upon us than whether or not we should really head to bed.

That song, “You’re Going To Miss This” came into my head.  The one by Trace Atkins where he talks about just how fast it flies by.  I spent so long being so excited to grow up, have babies, be a mommy… and then I did, and when E and B were babies, life was a straight whirlwind of insanity.  We were poor, we were young, we had no idea what we wanted to be when we grew up…but we made it work.  We loved our boys, juggled our jobs, and argued our way through the first few years until we finally figured out how to communicate, and even more importantly, figured out how to let things go.  To pick what really mattered and drop the rest.  The drop-the-rest part was the most important thing, I think.  Focus on what matters… your spouse, your kids, your health, your family… the rest is disposable.  There will always be another bill to pay, the air conditioner will always break, your kids will always need haircuts.  But that man that you love?  Those kids that make your insides burst with the sweet goodness of them?  Those are the things that deserve your attention.

I am going to miss this.  I already do.  I already miss my E’s sweet little boy voice, my B’s desire to let me read to him.  I miss SO MUCH already.  But I also know how very good I have it, too.  I am so glad that I can view this picture from outside the frame sometimes, even if it’s  just for a moment.

Goodnight, my friends.  My boy and his Scrabble board are waiting for me.  And that is a moment this mama can’t miss.

 

A most beautiful tree July 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 8:57 pm
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I want to start this by thanking the new friends who chose to follow my blog.  You inspired me ridiculously!  I was going to write today, and then I just wasn’t… and then I saw YOU!  I saw your friendly faces had LIKED what I had said and then oh, my goodness, am I so happy!  So thank you.  YOU are my hidden blessing of the day.

My cousin, who is a Marine, spent two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  He came back to the United States for a few weeks, and then went on to Afghanistan, where he was stationed for eighteen months or so.   Somehow he managed to miss every Christmas with our family.

Our Christmases have kind of changed in the years since my grandmother passed.  They’re not worse by any means, they are just different.  I say that with only a tiny smudge of sadness.  There are a lot of ways in which this is a good thing – I get to host at my home now, for example, and I get to spend days on end with my mother and stepdad in theirs.  But for my father’s side of the family,  it has become a nearly impossible feat to try to get everyone together in the same house.  Mostly, this is just because The House, her house, isn’t there for us anymore; a nesting place for us to all fly back home.  And so not only did we not get to come together again, but the Marine couldn’t come at all.

He finally was scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in late February.  We planned, we texted, we Facebooked, we emailed… we made all the plans in the world trying to figure out what weekend we might all be able to come together to celebrate this young man’s safe return home to his family.  And then this giant blizzard came through Russia and halted all travel.  We suddenly had no idea when he was coming home, or how long he’d get to stay home because he had to turn around after a certain number of days and go to North Carolina.  We just didn’t know.  So we waited.

Finally, finally he made it home.  All of us who could traveled hours and hours to converge upon my aunt and uncle’s home in Minnesota.  The home was filled with laughter, hugs, stories, and just plain… joy.  And a few more hugs.  The afternoon turned into evening and a group of us left for the airport to pick up another of our travelers.  Dusk and then early evening decended upon the city.

Turning back into the street upon which my aunt and uncle’s home sits, we all looked in surprise at the house.  There were Christmas lights lit, lining the porch and garage, a giant lit wreath above the garage.  We went inside and suddenly noticed that there was garland lining the woodwork in the kitchen, and then we saw that our aunt had put plates of Christmas cookies out.

The had decorated and baked Christmas cookies for the Marine, who had missed four years of Christmases with his family.  They had turned on the Christmas lights and decorated the most spindly, measly looking tree you have ever seen.  They stuck it on the deck next to us as we all sat outside on this cold March night in Minnesota.  My aunt’s father (who is in his eighties and is not a relation to the Marine) came over in full military attire to  pay his respects to the Marine.

It got darker and then we noticed it… the big evergreen that was lit up in all of its Christmas glory.  This tree, though, was not decorated by my aunt and uncle for their nephew.  This tree wasn’t even in their yard; it was a tree in a neighbor’s yard, on the other side of a wrought-iron fence.  This tree had been lit up by a neighbor… a neighbor who knew about the soldier who had missed so many Christmases, and knew about his homecoming that weekend.

This tree was the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.

It was radiant because it wasn’t just lit by pretty lights and all the retail packaging corporate America sells us over the holidays.  It was lit by kindness, and honor, and respect.  It radiated gratitude and friendship for our fellow neighbors, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.

That, my dear friends, is an image I will never forget.

 

Surprise date night May 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 5:25 pm
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My hidden blessing today is a night alone with my husband!! Not completely alone, but just us and Little One, which is really exciting. Alone time for the just the two of us is too rare… last fall, when I first started having my Fridays off, Fridays was a fun us-day, when it was just us and Little One. It kind of felt like we were young again… back when it was just us and the baby… only this time around we have enough money to go out for lunch at a microbrewery instead of ramen noodles and Leinenkugels eaten over the hand-me-down coffee table in our apartment. But those Friday lunches quickly got absorbed by doctor’s appointments, grocery store trips and other errands and that extra day became my get-everything-done day. Unfortunately, this also meant that my husband and I’s quiet “us” time went right out the window.

Today we celebrated B’s birthday with a party in the backyard. Originally I was rather disappointed that 3 of the 7 boys we invited couldn’t make it, and I was actually a little worried about whether we had enough kids at the party. But like most things in life, everything happens for a reason. We had so much loud, raucous, manic BOY ENERGY that we could barely keep it in check. The “wounded soldier” game was the best… each team sent out a soldier to run to the crest at the back of our yard and lay down. Then the teammates ran out, wrapped up their wounded soldier in toilet paper and lifted him onto his gurney (i.e. beach towel) and carry him back to safety. But it quickly became teepee-the-house and drag-the-soldier-by-his-feet-until-he-has-grass-stains-on-his-butt. Then we had random children running into the house by themselves searching for their prizes and B in tears because his missile-balloon wouldn’t blow up… ahhh, sometimes I think the $150 Chuck E Cheese ticket is worth leaving all the stress behind – but there’s something to be said for creativity and backyard fun, too.

When the last boy was picked up, the kids begged his mom to let B have a sleepover. I happily obliged, because E is at a sleepover tonight too, and I knew B would be sad being home without him (especially on his birthday-party weekend!). But after he was gone I realized that this is actually an opportunity for a great date night! After the baby goes to bed, we will grill some steaks and crack open a bottle of wine. Rent a movie, snuggle on the couch… ahh, heaven. I am blessed indeed.

I hope your night is as wonderful as the one ahead of me!! Goodnight, my friends!