Monday, November 12, 2012

Tree of Thanks

I ended last time by saying this post would be a reflection on the past year and what we are thankful for here at the House of Cockrell.  I'm going to go a little farther back than that.  Let me start by telling you a story... Once upon a time, there was this girl.  When she was about fourteen years old, her family made a decision that would change her life forever.  They moved to the great sunshine state.  Just a few days after they arrived, she met this boy and nothing in her life was ever the same.  Although he was just a boy when she met him, he grew to be her best friend, confidant, partner in crime (it's a figure of speech!), and first, only, and greatest love.  Fast forward several years and the boy and girl get married.  They start a life together and enjoy the freedom and excitement of being on their own, newlywed, and beholden to no one but themselves.  They dream big and plan bigger.  The constant refrain is "One day we'll..."  Jump ahead just a little and we watch the boy and girl become parents, and shortly after that, they do something even more amazing; they begin to grow up!  The decision is made that this little boy, this life they created, trumped even their biggest plans for themselves.  It was like all those plans were stars in the daytime and the little boy was the sun, so bright and brilliant, the stars were invisible now.  The girl and boy had made the first real choice that mattered in their lifetime.  I'm not going to lie to you; they took the hard road.  Life has not always been easy since then.  It wasn't always easy before then either.  However, I'm happy to tell you they made the right choice.  Now they have two suns, making those stars even more invisible.  Picture a little girl, hair like golden silk, eyes the exact same color as her Daddy's.  She's holding the hand of that beautiful little boy, his little button nose wrinkled up while he grins.  He's telling her a story and then they're dancing.  Now, look to the side and there's that first girl and boy.  They are on their way to growing up now.  The boy is a man.  His hair is starting to get a little gray (which the girl likes, and she tells him that, but he still doesn't believe her), he goes to work each day and kisses his family before he walks out the door, his big plans now revolve around those two little dancing children and the woman laughing when they get dizzy and fall down.  The girl is the laughing woman.  The man and those kids are her life.  At the risk of sounding cliche, that girl and that boy didn't know devotion until they had this family.  The best thing now is time spent in the evening sitting by the fireplace, talking about the day, those silly dancing children, and the anticipation of the years to come, the travels they will one day take, the places they'll bring the children to see, and maybe where they'll take the grandchildren if they're lucky enough to have them (and debating whether or not said grandchildren will call the man "Gramps").  If you think and look long enough, you can feel how much this boy and girl love each other.  They loved each other 11 years ago when they spent an entire evening at a baseball game, talking about everything but baseball.  They loved each other nearly 8 years ago when they said "I do."  They love each other now when they're too exhausted to stay up and watch a movie and fall into bed as soon as the kids are asleep.  And if I have to guess, they'll love each other 75 years from now if they live to be 100 or more.  John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  Here at the House of Cockrell, we dream big, plan bigger, and then enjoy when life happens instead.

This is probably my favorite time of year.  The weather is getting cold, the days are getting short, the holidays are upon us.  Thanksgiving is next week and we're looking forward to the Macy's parade and the dog show on TV right after the parade.  We're looking forward to Christmas and the kids are desperately hoping for a Christmas snow storm.  The kids and I spent the morning putting together our "Tree of Thanks" bulletin board in the living room.  We wrote down things we were thankful for on paper leaves and stapled them to the tree I made out of sticks.  That wonderful little boy from the story came up with things like, "Parents" and "Food" and also "presents" and his "bear and cat" he sleeps with at night.  My favorite thing he was thankful for though, was "happy."  At first, I wasn't sure if that even made sense.  But the more I've though about it, it does make sense.  How many of us aren't thankful that we're happy?  People all over the world are searching for happiness, and this one little boy is just thankful he has it already.  Meanwhile, I'm thankful for a lot of things:  anti-wrinkle eye cream, makeup, coffee, good hair days...  However, I'm more thankful for the things in my life that aren't things:  being married to a man who wears many hats (husband, Daddy, provider, bossman, comic relief), and who ultimately, is my best friend and lets me know in many ways that I am still the love of his life too, all the while keeping my sometimes slightly overbearing personality in check; two kids who keep me laughing, who make life fun and interesting to say the least and who sometimes stop me in my tracks when I see the wonder with which they see the world around them; a family that may span multiple states, but whom we love and we are eternally grateful that our kids get to grow up with the love of so many people surrounding them from so many places.  I'm thankful for hugs and kisses, even when they're sticky for no apparent reason.  I'm thankful for Titley, the imaginary cat, and all of her adventures and antics that keep us laughing daily.  I'm thankful for little Miss Attitude who arrived in 2011 and has been teaching me things about myself daily ever since.  I'm grateful that she has enough independence and attitude combined with fierce loyalty that will enable her to take care of herself and her brother both.  I'm grateful that her brother has enough compassion and love in his heart to show her the good and beauty in the world, even when it's tempered by something rough around the edges, kind of like her...  So, you probably stopped reading a long time ago because I am the world's worst rambler, but if you stuck with me this long, I want to say we love you and hope your list of things to be thankful for is as long as ours.  Until next time, let me leave you with this thought:  life today isn't what I thought it would be ten years ago.  It's better.   


Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween - the Christmas kickoff holiday!

A dinosaur, a witch, a mom, and a Mammy all drive about a hundred thirty miles or so and in middle of it all take a three mile walk in search of candy...  Sounds like a bad joke right?  Well, it was not; it was Halloween!!  We had the busiest and most exciting Halloween ever this year!  We started the day at about 11am and headed to Harrison to see Gigi Suzanne, Laura, and John.  As always, the kids loved going to visit and of course, play with Gigi's cool toys.  Our second child and only daughter, aka the baddest witch in the world, spent the first fifteen minutes or so mesmerized by Laura and John's wheels (I think she was secretly jealous she doesn't have a stroller like that!), but she got over it and even graced them with her special head bopping, lip pooching dance to Adele.  John also improved himself in her sights when he told her how pretty she was.  With this girl, flattery will get you EVERYWHERE!  The mean, green dinosaur boy gave Gigi his best roar, but refused to do any poetry performances.  I'd like to say it's because he hates to be a showoff, but that's totally not true.  He was just embarrassed.  Anyway, thanks to Gigi for the fortifying cake and cookies to start the afternoon and evening!  Next stop was FedEx to see Pops and drop Daddy some corn dogs for lunch.  (Sonic had them for 50 cents each that day, I think in total, Mammy bought about a dozen...)  After that, we hit the square in Berryville.  We trick-or-treated Mammy's work, mommy's hair salon, the cool used bookstore, and tons of other businesses on the square, not to mention several people who were running for some sort of political office, whom we aren't necessarily going to vote for, but we took their candy anyway!  Our last stop was to be the trunk-or-treat at church in Kimberling City.  The baddest witch in the world was feeling a little queasy in her costume on the ride up, so to save it from a possible vomitrocious explosion, Mammy pulled over at the gas station in Blue Eye and mommy stripped her down and rolled the car windows down.  After a quick Sour Patch run by Mammy, the happy troupe were on their way again.  One more stop at Harter House by mommy for some emergency pacifiers and a bag of Cheetos, we made it to our final destination!  We made our way through the trunk-or-treat, then set off on our grand adventure.  Carrying the witch and trying to keep the dinosaur in check, we trekked up and down hills for about three miles, hit a dead end, and then trekked back.  The mean, green dinosaur claims it was a twenty-eight mile walk and we got "about a hundred pounds of candy."  We did get a LOT of candy, which is almost gone now, and the kids had a great time!  The mean, green dinosaur had always been too afraid to go "real" trick-or-treating, so this was his first year out and about.  He went up to several houses on his own and only got scared a couple of times at some yard decorations (one was a fake snake that really hissed at you, and it was admittedly disturbing).  By the end of the night, Mammy and I were completely exhausted.  The kids spread the candy out on the kitchen table and Daddy helped them go through it all.  They had to separate the chocolate from the other stuff, (Daddy doesn't like his chocolate to end up tasting "fruity") and so we ended up with two mixing bowls full to the top!  Overall, it was a good haul, a great time, and I woke up the next morning with my arms on fire from carrying the baddest witch in the world, who just doesn't walk fast enough to keep up yet.  The mean, green dinosaur says it was the best day of his life so far and actually cried on the way home because Halloween was only one day.  So of course, Mammy extended the holiday and we had a Halloween snack party at her house yesterday.  It's amazing how only grandparents have the supernatural ability to add a day to holidays and, even further, to make grandchildren believe that they really did it. On another note, though you will all probably consider us mentally unstable, we put up our Christmas tree the weekend before Halloween this year.  In years past, we traditionally decorate for Christmas the weekend after Halloween, but we were in the spirit, the weather was cold, the fireplace was blazing, and well, we jumped the gun.  So the House of Cockrell is ready to bring on the holidays.  Mark and I impressed ourselves this year and finished our Christmas shopping the second weekend in October, so we even have presents wrapped and under the tree.  Surprisingly, the kids have pretty much left them alone (fingers crossed, knock on wood!). Our school unit is going to be the letter Uu and Us this week, so I have plans to make a "thankful" or "gratefulness" wreath to hang in the house to coordinate with the unit.  I saw a cute idea in a magazine (thanks again MaMa and PaPa for the subscription!!), where you cut out leaf shapes and let everyone write things they are thankful for and pin them to your wreath.  That's the tone we're trying to set for the hoilday season this year, so it seemed like an appropriate project to start with.  My next post, I plan to reflect a little on what the last year has meant to us here at the House of Cockrell, what the holiday season means to us and what we're thankful for (spoiler alert:  you, our family, are one of them!).  Keep a weather eye out for it (the mean, green dinosaur is into pirates lately!) and in the meantime, even though it's early, may your days be merry and bright!!!