Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 14- Best Decade Ever

I am overwhelmed thinking about all of the blessings that have come into my life this decade. High school graduation. First apartment. College graduation. Meeting and marrying my perfect partner. Moving across the country and halfway back. First car purchase. First house purchase. New people welcomed into our family and a warm welcome into another family. First "child" (our playful pup, General). First grown up job. First career change. Back to school for a Master's degree. Parents celebrating a 25th anniversary and grandparents celebrating their 50th. I could go on and on...

I'm so lucky. I can't wait to see how the next decade could possibly manage to top this one!

Thanks, best decade ever, you made my day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 13- The Dump Guy (not to be confused with a dumb guy)

Today Tom and I made a trip to the good ol' Bandera (Texas) dump. I was not particularly looking forward to this errand, but I'll be darned if I didn't leave that stinky pile of trash with a smile on my face.

As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by an older gentlemen in dusty old jeans and boots. "Compactor's broke. You'll have to throw your trash over here on the pile." He grabbed one of our bags from the truck, and we followed behind him with the others. He flung his bag high and far into the depths of the trash container. Tom tried to follow suit but came up short with his first bag, making it only about half the distance that the old man's had. His second attempt was more successful and generated a "Better, but you still couldn't beat an old lady." Then, Dump Guy turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, "You know, I know there are animals crawling around in that trash. I wonder when they'll start throwing stuff back at us."

As we paid, we chatted with Dump Guy for a while, and it turns out he's from Michigan. He shared a few stories, and we shared a few laughs. Why is it that so many of us complain about our Mondays (or Tuesdays or Wednesdays...) and our jobs and our stress, but this Dump Guy with a job that stinks (literally!) can turn trash into treasure (not so literally)? I once again found one of life's little reminders when I least expected it.

Thank you, Dump Guy, you made my day.

Day 12- Ashley Ferri

I know that this is super cheesy and cliche to say, but I really do think it's as fun to give as it is to receive. I tease Tom about how I end up doing most of our Christmas shopping, but I really love to do it. I spend hours debating each gift and each decision online and in the stores, hoping to find the perfect thing for each person.

I wake up with my tail wagging each Christmas not because I am so excited to open my own gifts (although I should say that I do appreciate them oh so much). Rather, I can't wait to see the looks on the faces of the recipients of these gifts that I have so carefully selected. I must admit that it's somewhat disappointing to see my gifts tossed into a pile or to see that they have not generated any real excitement. They just don't understand what it is yet, I think to myself, or Once he uses it, he'll understand how much he needed it.

Imagine my delight when my gifts generate exactly the response I am hoping for! Today Tom and I had Christmas with my in-laws in Texas, our fifth and last Christmas of the season, and the last chance to see our gifts opened and enjoyed this year. Thanks to Tom's sister, Ashley, we sent out the giving season with a bang. Each gift she opened was met with an "OOOOOOOOOoohhh!" or an "Ahhhhh" or some other kind of thankful squeal. While these noises may often times be used in a fake yay-I'm-excited-but-I'm-actually-returning-this sort of way, hers were not. She made us feel as if she was genuinely overjoyed with each rip of the paper and unveiling of a treasure. If she wasn't, the girl deserves an Oscar!

Thanks, Ashley Ferri, you made my day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 11- Mitch Albom

"The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his." Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith

Ahh... Mitch Albom. This guy is gold. He is not only a great writer, but he writes about things that I believe are truly important. When I read his articles and books and columns, I really feel as if we are having a valuable conversation.

Mitch has written many things over the years that have touched me, made me laugh, made me think, and, most of all, made me feel inspired. He is most certainly on my odd list of fantasy celebrity meetings (a list which also includes Tim Gunn, Kristin Chenowith, and Idina Menzel, to name a few).

Today I began reading his newest book, Have a Little Faith. I have already found so many bits and pieces that speak to me, but here's my favorite so far.

From a Sermon by the Reb, 1958

"A little girl came home from school with a drawing she'd made in class. She danced into the kitchen, where her mother was preparing dinner.
"Mom, guess what?" she squealed, waving the drawing. Her mother never looked up.
"What?" she said, tending to the pots.
"Guess what?" the child repeated, waving the drawing.
"What?" the mother said, tending to the plates.
"Mom, you're not listening."
"Sweetie, yes I am."
"Mom," the child said, "you're not listening with your eyes."



Ahh... if we only spent more time listening with our eyes.

Thank you, Mitch Albom, you made my day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 10- iPod

My iPod knows me. I know that I am the one who inputs the music, but the iPod chooses the songs for me, and it always knows just what to do.

Today Tom and I made the eight hour trek from Michigan back to Missouri, and it was looooooooooong. Luckily, the trusty iPod knew just what to do. When Tom was about to road rage on a guy, it picked out "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz to calm him down. When we were both drowsy, it gave us "Like a Prayer" to get us dancing and keep us alert. When my stomach was growling but I didn't want to stop to eat too soon, it gave me "At This Moment," because it knew I would sing so loud that I wouldn't be able to hear or think hunger. I could go on and on...

Thank you, iPod, you made my day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 9- Foods of Home

On the menu for today-

cinnamon rolls
spinach mushroom phyllo
buttered popcorn
Christmas cookies
gyros
chips
baked Brie (twice!)
Mt. Dew
cheese and caramel popcorn
Flavia drama

Made with TLC by- my lovely parents :).

Result- food baby

Thank you, foods of home, you made my day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 8- Aunt Peach... and the Rest of the Stasik Family

There ain't nothin' not affected
When two hearts get connected
All that is, will be, or ever was
Every single choice we make
Every breath we get to take
Is all because two people fell in love
Brad Paisley

Fifty nine years ago a dashing young Polish gentleman took a stunning Irish beauty on a first date to Midnight Mass. They've been together ever since. Today they celebrated yet another wonderful Christmas, surrounded by the love and family they have created together.

Today's Memorable Quotes

"This isn't even a spiked punch this year, is it? Oh, it is...? Ruh roh!" (Lauren)

"Um, yeah Mom, you can tell Uncle Susie about it." (Matt, in regards to his new lady friend, amidst his teen angst)

"Matthew, we are just as proud of you as you are of us." (Lauren)

"Write that down. Wait, someone is writing that down. Great!" (Maria)

"I did not cry this year when we watched that movie." (Peach)
"You did too, you big pansy!" (Lauren)

"Ooh! Did you need someone to sample that? No? How about that?" (Tom F.)

"I told the girls the other day that they're going to be old maids... there will be no one left, and they'll have to marry each other." (Peach)

"Matt, this isn't what love looks like." (Lauren)

"Oh, aren't I going to be a sexpot!" (Grandma)
"The question is, where are you going to be a sexpot?" (Grandpa)
"...and with whom?" (Geno)

"Is that a fancy hanky?" (Dad, in response to the beautiful custom-made scarf my mom gave Lauren)

"Everyone else got Bo, but we got Woody." (Tom G.)
"Tom gets a Woody all the time." (Peach)

"Ok, ok, we've picked on Matt enough. Let's move on to Maria. So, Maria, who's this new boy? What is he majoring in?" (Mom)
"Theater." (Maria)
"Can he support you with that?" (Mom)

(To Sandy)"Stand up. Put your hands on me. All over me!" (Tom G.)

(In reference to prounouncing khaki as ka-hee-key as a child) "That's a sure sign of a child who spent too much time with books and too little time socializing." (Lauren)

"I'm going to start making a list of things that make me touch myself." (Dad, obviously)

"I like your dress. I could have knitted that." (Peach)

"Put THAT in your birdhouse!" (The Terribly Witty Author of this Blog)

"How come every time I start talking, you put the pencil down? You don't even give me a chance to be funny!" (Geno)

"Why are you all of a sudden acting like you like me? Go away! I want to eat my cake." (Peach)

I couldn't pick a kookier bunch of people as relatives if I tried, and I certainly wouldn't want to. It's amazing how a few hours with my family can energize me in a way that nothing else can. We laughed. We drank spiked punch. We ate until we couldn't eat another bite. We opened presents for hours. We told stories. We picked on each other. We ate again. We created another year of memories to add to a pile that is now fifty nine years old.

Thank you, Aunt Peach... and the Rest of the Stasik Family, you made my day.


P.S. We missed you Amanda and Jason! We thought of you often and probably told a few jokes at your expense so you wouldn't feel left out :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 7- Mierzwa Family

Mierzwa Family Christmas Eve 2009

Cast of Characters:

Sue and Terry
Jessi and Tom
Virginia(Grandma Ginny)
Tim
Adam and Laurie
Trudy and Leonard
Lynn and Bruce
Melissa, Larry, and Hayden
Ashley and Brandon


Memorable Quotes

"It ain't female stuff because I don't have any lady parts left." (Trudy)

"Tim's the only one getting a gift this year because he doesn't have anyone." (Ginny)

"Do you want to watch Family Feud? Anyone want to watch?" (Ginny)
"No, we want to keep the news on so we can see the weather." (Dad)
"Ok, I'll turn it on then." (Ginny flips to FF)

"How come they don't come read the meter on my house?" (Trudy)
"Probably because you live in a really bad neighborhood!" (Terry)

"It's about time they left! I tried to get them to leave an hour ago. What is it they say? If at first you don't succeed, try again!" (Larry)

"If you please your man, he won't mess around on you. I used to do it with your grandpa every Saturday morning. That's how Terry and Lynn were made." (Ginny, of course)

"So I found a hair in my coney sauce. The owner came out and told me he would get me another one if I wanted. I told him not to bother unless they had a whole other batch of sauce. He asked me what I wanted him to do, and I told him to f off. Then, my friend Tom that I was eating with told him we would beat him up. He told us he'd call the cops, and we said 'Do it!' while we were walking out the door. Hmph." (Tim)

"When I called to talk to Terry in the hospital, the lady at the switchboard told me she used to be married to a Mierzwa. 'Barb?' I said. 'No, Irene," she said. 'Irene, this is your ex-husband Tim.' 'Oh.'" (Tim)


Thank you, Mierzwa Family, you made my day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 6- Allegiance Health

My dad is home :). Yay for a full Christmas Eve and Christmas!

Thank you, Allegiance Health, you made my day.

Day 5- Matt Vogrich

This blog hit its first snag yesterday, and I am posting a bit late. It's not because I couldn't find anything positive to say because there is always something positive and always a moment worth being thankful for. Rather, due to some unfortunate circumstances, I did not get home until early this morning. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I got to go to a Michigan basketball game with my family yesterday. Not only did Michigan win, but we got to see freshmen Matt Vogrich sink a couple of threes. I love it when guys like that get in the game and get a chance to hear the cheers of the crowd :). I think it is moments like that- void of inflated salaries or egos or any of that nonsense- that make sports so much fun to watch. In the grand scheme of things, his baskets didn't win a championship or an endorsement, or even a gaggle of jersey chasers, but I am sure he will remember that feeling he must have had for the rest of his life.

Thanks, Matt Vogrich, you made my day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 4- Don the Shoe Salesman

I have been looking all over for a pair of plain, flat, leather brown boots. I did not think that this would be a tall order to fill, but apparently it is (hence the need to look all over). Today, at long last, I found them. And I had a coupon. And they were cheap to begin with. Fabulous.

As if that was not delightful enough, something magical happened when I went to the register to pay for them. Don, the shoe salesman, asked me a real question. It was not weather related. Then, he listened intently to my answer. What's even more, he had a five minute conversation with Tom and me and was attentive and funny and engaging. If I had to guess, I would say that Don is most certainly overworked and underpaid, especially this time of year. Yet, he made the time for real human interaction. He was not sighing and checking his watch after every customer. He was not pouting that he was at work while all of the people shopping around him were on vacation. He was smiling and conversing and making his corner of the department store a better place.

I catch myself sometimes making the excuse that I am "too busy" to do something. Sometimes I truly am insanely busy and don't have time to do everything that I want to. I can't help but think, though, that I am never too busy to make time for people. All it takes to connect with another human being is a five minute conversation, a little friendliness, a question asked and an answer listened to, a bit of effort.

Thank you, Don, you made my day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 3- Miss Caitlin Miller

Two things I really love:

1. Love
2. When good things happen to good people.


Caitlin was one of my good friends in Seattle. We worked together, and she didn't like me at first (I don't make the best first impression, story of my life). She later told me once we were friends that this was because I made an offhand comment one time about how I didn't study a ton in college, and she thought I meant I didn't have to study like some people. We got over that pretty quickly.

Once we both got promoted and shared a wall between our new cubes, we learned that we shared a lot of other things as well- love of celebrity gossip, ANTM, food (Metropolitan Market!! Relish tray!), dogs, NYC, not brushing our hair, 80's power ballads, whirlyball, and so much more. We also bonded over board games, nacho dip, Octoberfest and pub crawls with our delightful men. Caitlin was truly a ray of sunshine in the drizzle and fog of Seattle. She made going to work a little better, knowing that she was just a conference call, instant message, or head pop above the cube away.

This girl who once thought we would never be friends shared some very special news with me today. I couldn't be happier for her for finding someone who wants to make her day every day for the rest of her life :).

Thanks, Caitlin Miller, you made my day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 2- Mother Nature

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


I love the seasons for different reasons, but I definitely love fall the most. Winter brings with it scary roads, less time outside, extra pounds to carry, bare brown landscapes, and months of not going home. I was most concerned about the scary roads today because we are driving back to the mitten for Christmas, and Mother Nature has been dropping major snow all around us.

Imagine my childish delight when I woke up this morning to a lovely dusting of snow on my lawn, bordered by completely clear roads. This is the best winter has to offer :). I hope that people in other areas of the country can find some joy in being snowed in with the people they love. A fire, maybe. A cup of hot chocolate. Pajamas all day. Board games and movies and blankets, oh my!

Thank you, Mother Nature, you made my day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 1- Tom Ferri

My husband recently received a promotion, and I'm quite proud of him. He's terribly busy and important now (so important that he can no longer wear jeans to work and answers e-mails from his Crackberry in boxers at 11 pm). This new job also comes with travel- exciting for Tom, not so much for me. Every time he leaves I feel as if I have been dropped off at preschool for the first time. Last time he left I wore sunglasses to say farewell.

While many people waste away the last few days of work before Christmas vacation, Tom has been working like a madman. Today, in the midst of his hectic schedule, Tom took the time to e-mail me. Not only that, he told me that he hoped I was doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every minute of it. I was so pleasantly surprised to find this in my inbox. I was touched that instead of being envious of my pajamas/reading/90210 day, he was happy for me. I am so blessed to have Tom as my husband.

Thank you, Tom Ferri, you made my day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pre New Year's Resolution (since we all know NYRs are often forgotten and rarely kept)

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. I thoroughly enjoy stuffing myself to the full extent that an elastic waistband will allow. I love coming together with my family to share stories from the past year and memories from the past twenty years. I like watching the Lions play, even though they almost always lose. Most of all, I adore the cheesy tradition that makes everyone else groan- sharing what we are thankful for.

I worked in retail and waited tables for years during high school and college, more years than most could tolerate. Although I had a great time, I learned that it is human nature to whine and complain. Often. The window displays were too provacative. The cook forgot to leave off the tomatoes. The pajamas don't come in an XXL. The line was way too long. The table was too short.

What is rare, in those situations and in life, is for people to do the opposite. Every now and then, customers would let me share moments with them. I cherished these little gems- a shared smile, a laugh at one of my silly jokes, a kind word of appreciation for my work. I began to look for these moments in my everyday life, and I was delighted to find that they were everywhere. I just hadn't been looking for them before.

I want to spend the rest of my life looking. I am so blessed. I have a husband, family, friends, a job, and a life that are all incredible beyond words. I have countless moments of wonderful if I just make the time and effort to look for them.

I try to stretch Thanksgiving as long as I can (my husband enjoys this in the form of cranberry pork chops, stuffing, and green bean casserole). This blog will be my yearlong Thanksgiving. Even if no one else ever reads this, I want to sit down each and every day this year to recognize something that made me laugh or smile or touched my heart. People will make my day if I just let them.

If you are reading this, let me try to make your day. I want to inspire you, to giggle with you, to grin with you, to learn with you, to grow with you, and to share with you. Keep reading, and leave me a note or a quote so I know you're out there :).