A Lesson in Thanksgiving

Two years ago we were spending Thanksgiving in the pediatric intensive care unit.  Mia fell down and then suddenly had a huge hematoma.  Before her eyes we watched her body be covered in unexplained bruises and dark red spots.  At the hospital we found out that she had no platelets left.  Over the course of days they diagnosed her and worked on treating it.  This all happened the day after we arrived at our new duty station.  So we found ourselves with a sick child in a new city CAM00167with no friends or family celebrating Thanksgiving and just being grateful that our children were alive and we were together.

And so at this time of year when we are being grateful for our blessings, I think back to that scary time and to the lessons I was reminded of during it…

I am thankful for my faith.  Riding in the ambulance with lights flashing, Mia looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not scared.  I know that God is with me.”  And she was right.  As our minds started to fill with panic our hearts were filled with faith.  God doesn’t make us sick and He doesn’t necessarily heal our body, what God does is walk beside us, loving us, giving us strength and preparing us for the way ahead no matter what it might be.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

And I am thankful for the love with in our family.  Zoe would not leave Mia’s side.  When they wheeled Mia up to her room, Zoe rode next to her hugging her.  She laid in her bed, played with her, brought her food, and cried when Mia screamed in pain.  She was everything a sister could be.  I am proud of both of my daughters.  And I am proud of the family we have created and the love we all share for each other.

I am thankful for our friends and family, for all those who love me and love my children and love my husband.  People may be far away at times but our lives are filled with loved ones who will pray for us during our sorrows and celebrate with us during our times of joy.

And I am thankful for the generosity shown to us by both friends and strangers.  That Thanksgiving one of the doctor’s arrived with his family and a Thanksgiving dinner for us.  It was an act of such pure kindness I still tear up thinking of it.  But I am grateful not just for grand gestures like that, but for every time a stranger held the door open for us, gave my family a smile, picked up a dropped cup.  People are kind and we need to remember that.

I am thankful that my daughter is healthy again, yes.  But I am also thankful that our family survived the challenge and that we have learned and loved through it.  It has been a reminder to me of all that we should truly be thankful for–faith, love, friendship, and kindness.

Family Magnets–Stay Close When Far Away

Even though we have always lived away from our family, with our recent move the girls felt as though we are even farther away.  And of course they had to leave their friends behind.  family magnetsSo to make it easier and remind them of those they love who live far away, I made these magnets of their family and friends.

Using photoshop, I cropped recent photos and then resized them so that they would look similar when I printed the wallet sized photos.  I also added the names to each picture to make it a pre-reading activity as well.  We’ve also used the cards to make family trees and talk about relationships.

magnets closeThis is just a great way to keep family that lives far away close by.  I wish I had done it sooner when the girls were babies and recommend it to all my friends with little ones who are growing up far from loved ones.

 

 

Our Big Move

We recently moved a few states over due to military orders.  I would love to say that things went perfectly and I have a whole list of tips and tricks to share, but the truth is there is a lot that I would do better or completely differently next time.  Sometimes I felt like I was clutching my seat waiting until it was over.  But our most important goal–making the move a positive experience for our daughters and not scarring them for life–was one that we actually got right.  Well, I think so.  I hope so.

The trucks arriving with the crates filled with all of our belongings.

The trucks arriving with the crates filled with all of our belongings.

When one of our girls ended up in the hospital during the move, we were able to see just how well we had prepared them to deal with this difficult time.  For whatever it’s worth, here is what we tried to do and how it worked out.

Stay positive and get excited. 

I had lived in our last city for over 15 years so moving anywhere would have been hard for me.  But we tried to stay upbeat with our girls.  In fact, when our original orders to North Dakota were cancelled they started crying and wailing, “But I want to go to North Dakota!”
We also went online and looked at pictures and places around our new town to have something to look forward to.

Warn them about what is coming.

We looked at a calendar many times throughout the process and talked about each thing that would happen. After the packers had been to the house, my husband warned the girls that it would “look different and maybe scary but it was just our stuff in boxes.”

Surprising their Nanny by hiding in the packing materials.

Surprising their Nanny by hiding in the packing materials.

Keep them involved.

It’s easy to find jobs for even the littlest helper.  They can pack or unpack their stuffed animals or toys.  We had the girls go through their toys and choose items to donate ahead of time.  We also had them set things on the counter while we unpacked and collect the packing paper after we were done.

Focus on the family.

We tried very hard to make this a family adventure.  This was an exciting time for the four of us to stick together.  When things went awry, such as when we were forced to sleep in our car because bad weather had filled every single hotel in town, the girls just considered it one more adventure.  And they learned that we stick together no matter what.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

This lesson paid off big time when our daughter ended up in the hospital from a blood disorder.  Riding in the ambulance was just another adventure in her mind (she asked if we could take a picture of her) and there was no question that all four of us would be staying at the hospital together.  It was a Thanksgiving we will never forget!

Have fun!

This is a stressful time for any family–well, it was for ours–but you can still have fun.  It’s part of your family history so make some memories.

A proud Zoe poses next to the R2D2 they created while her sister is inside the robot.

A proud Zoe poses next to the R2D2 they created while her sister is inside the robot.

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