Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Heartfelt Thanks 2011

Once a year I like to stop the rat race of life and reflect on the Top Ten Things for which I give thanks. Each year its different. Each year it reflects the past 12 months. And, each year I find myself overwhelmed by just how many people or products I owe a debt of gratitude. Wowzers!

Sometimes quirky, but always heartfelt, here we go...

1) Rick and Connor -- Easy. Every night I whisper a thank you to God for bringing these two gentlemen into my life. Both are a treasured gift and both challenge me to be a better version of myself. Love these boys!

2) The Ladies Tee Party Board of Directors and Volunteers -- Holy Heartstrings, Batman! These people give it all and then give a little more. Love the dedication of my inner circle of supporters -- prepping and planning for this event takes an entire year (and many bottles of wine!). They put up with my mood swings and creative impulses with grace and humility. I'm equally humbled by the amazing volunteers who take a day off work and offer it to the Ladies Tee Party. We now have more volunteers working the event than participants in the original that took place on the lakeshore almost 8 years ago.

3) Homemade Chex Mix -- Seriously. I make it the old school way, no frills or fancy seasonings. Lots of butter, worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt. Yes, garlic salt. Sure it makes your breath a little zesty, but that's what icy cold beer was made for...washing down all that Chex Mix. Mmmmmm! Now, that's a two-fer in the thankfulness department!

4) Maximize Technologies -- My husband and his partner, Keith Torno, have collected a super nerdy bunch of techs, each with heart and a sense of humor, at Maximize Technologies. West Michigan businesses are better off when they link with this brain pool -- for everything from software development and customization to network engineering and help desk support. Plus, I just adore their families! This photo is from our gathering this summer at a Whitecaps game, including everyone's spouses and kids -- what fun!

5) Neighbors -- When you buy a house you rarely think about the most important facet of that investment -- your neighbors -- until its too late. In our case we hit the jackpot! We have fantastic neighbors who have become dear friends. They've provided my son with a dog to love, a baby to look out for, incredible big brother role models, babysitters, coaches, and a fan base who really cares. I could just hug 'em all, but that starts to feel a little too Wisteria Lane for me, we'll just leave it at thankful!

6) Blandford Nature Center -- What a treasure right in the heart of the westside of Grand Rapids! We walk to a trailhead from our house and then wander under the canopy of trees along the trails, always discovering something we've never seen before. Each season brings new experiences along those trails and lots of time to chat about life with my little adventurer.

7) ARC Angels -- We were tossed together by chance...and the pursuit of a non-workstudy college job on campus. Today we remain friends because we share that history, but also because we're intrigued by each other's unique life path. Heck, we like each other! As ARC Angels, we worked in the Academic Resource Center at Grand Valley State University (okay, it was a college when I started, I think I still have paper cuts from the mailing we hand-assembled announcing the transition to University status!) for Dean Mary Seeger. Mary Beversluis was her administrative assistant at the time and took care in selecting each of us -- or so we like to say! The first photo is from a gathering just last spring, we connect several times a year with as many of our crew as possible. The second photo was taken in 1989 on campus at GVSU without Mary or Dean Seeger...see, the Angels haven't changed a bit!

8) My Parents -- I am so thankful that I was raised by two people who shared their love and values without casting judgment or restricting potential. John and Jackie Fitzgerald were in love with each other and adored their children...all nine of us! While I miss them daily, I am so grateful for all of the years we shared. I often wish that I could ask them for advice today about everything from parenting to finances to movies or football.

9) Baseball -- From Little League to the Big Leagues, I'm a fan. What's not to love about a game that is played in the sunshine (most of the time!), requires teamwork and strategy, but showcases personal dedication to the craft. Take me out to the ballgame...anytime, anywhere!

10) Daily's Frozen Drink Pouches -- Another one of those ideas that I wish I'd thought of! Margaritas or daiquiris, among other treats, sold in the supermarket, premixed in foil pouches. Just toss them in your freezer to create portable slushies complete with liquor. The Frozen Lemonade was a personal favorite this summer on the beach! It's like fun size candy bars, except they're your favorite cocktails -- fantastic!