Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the category “Thankful Thursday”

NICU Awareness Month

Apparently, September is NICU Awareness Month. Before having a child in the NICU, I had no idea such a month existed ( though should have guessed since every cause/affliction seems to have a month).

I’m in a few Facebook NICU parent groups as a lurker/liker as I found it helpful in the month we spent in the NICU to remind myself that we would get out of there and bring our son home. It’s heartwarming to see all the preemie babies with their before/after shots, especially in the last few weeks as many parents post first day of school photos.

I’ve struggled a bit with being a NICU parent because my child “looked normal.” He was born only 4 weeks early and at a healthy weight and size, despite his traumatic birth and lack of oxygen at the time of birth. There were babies in the NICU that were born at 25 weeks when we were there, another was less than 2 pounds, and others born with medical issues. Gray was perfectly fine inside up until his birth so seeing the struggle of some of the other families made our situation feel less dire– sort of like that saying “if you throw your problems in a pile with everyone else’s, you’d take yours out again.” One day in the NICU when we thought our little guy had a kidney infection, I was pretty upset and crying. I stepped out of the room with my mom to go eat breakfast in the family room ( no food is allowed in the baby’s room) and there were 2 mothers in there whose babies were born with some pretty serious medical issues– was sort of the perspective I needed to count my blessings. There were families in our area of the NICU that had been there over 120 days– we spent exactly 30. It was heartbreaking and difficult, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like if things had been much different.

When Gray was born, there was a lot of unknown about his prognosis. With the lack of oxygen at birth, he had to be resuscitated and we didn’t know what damage had been done to his body and systems. He was cooled for 72 hours below normal body temperature to preserve his vital organs and functions- we basically had to wait until those 72 hours were over and they slowly warmed him over 48 hours to know if he would be okay or not. One (horrible) doctor told us he might be brain dead ( it was clear by the end of his birthday that he was not that because he was moving his limbs and responding to stimuli). Babies who come off the cooling treatment often have complications with other body functions and while Gray is doing spectacular for a 3 month old baby, we’re hyper vigilant about making sure he stays on track with all the developmental milestones. We know he is a miracle and are thankful for every single moment with him.

What surprised me the most about the NICU was how many people in my universe had babies spend time there- more than I realized. You often only hear about folks with scary medical conditions or babies born very early– but the NICU is also for full-term babies who have issues of various kinds- breathing issues, heart murmurs, digestive issues and so on. It gave me a lot of hope and strength to know that we’d get through it because lots of people I knew did it before me. It didn’t always help when Gray was struggling to eat or we couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t gaining weight, but we always knew in the back of our mind we’d bring him home.

Thankful Thursday #13

I’m thankful for….

Great coworkers.

When you work 14 hour days together (not all the time!), you have to like the people you work with. I’m really lucky to have coworkers who are friends, including a few who have become more like family. We spend so much of our lives working so having good people to share the days with is important to me.

One of the reasons I’ve been at my job 8 years is because of the people– even when the work situation is annoying, stressful, and frustrating, the coworkers are often the ones who provide the levity and laughter needed to get through the day.

Thankful Thursday #12

I’m thankful for having a brother!


David is my first friend, no matter the trouble we caused together or because of the other.

He is just shy of 2 years older than me, but I was the bossy little sister who acted like I was older and walked in to take the remote control from him when we watched TV after school.

He’s an amazing artist and creative person with a great imagination and spirit for adventure. He can put together a piece of Ikea furniture in no time, install a ceiling fan, and win any trivia match involving Disney, comic books, or superheroes.

No matter how we’ve argued or how different we can be on some things, we share the same values of family being important. He’s a kind, compassionate, funny, and all around great human being. Like our Dad, he would drop what he’s doing and help you out in any situation without asking for anything in return. He’s pretty fantastic and I don’t thank him enough.



For many years, we were the same height, but now he towers almost a foot and half over than me!

Thankful Thursday #11

I’m thankful for another year of health and happiness.

As I celebrate turning 33 tomorrow, I’m more aware than ever of the abundance of blessings and goodness in my life. I may complain about the mundane or get frustrated with details, but when I look at the expanse of life and everything in it, I realize I live a fairly privileged life.

I’m thankful for the family and friends, far away and close by, those still with us and those gone ( but never forgotten). I’m thankful for the small joys and the big victories.

As I ring in “my new year”, I’m filled with gratitude that despite the junk that can get in the way, the noise that muddles all of our brains on some level– that I can say how blessed I am. No matter the speed bumps life throws my way, I have so much appreciation for the love and light in my life.

Thankful Thursday (#10)

I’m thankful for my home.


My happy place- aka my sun room

It’s hard to believe that this coming spring will mark 7 years in my house. It feels like a lifetime, probably because owning the house was the beginning of some tumultuous times for me. But it’s also the place where I found myself after my divorce. And now, even though the address and house has not changed, I’m making it into a new home with Q and Little Man.

It’s an old house, built in 1930, so with that come so many quirks like walls and floors that are less than level and old dirt. But it also comes with amazing charm like the sun room, the original moldings and built-in bookcases, and gorgeous hardwood floors.

Quirks aside from its age, but also from weird things that are on the endless list of house projects, I love this place. It’s small with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, but we have a good yard, huge basement and attic, and the sunroom truly is the best place, even if it overlooks a parking lot of the businesses next door. If I could pick up the house and move it to a quieter neighborhood, I would. When I dream about the possible future for us, I wish I could take the house and just add another half bath, a small bedroom/office,  and a smidge more counterspace to the kitchen, because otherwise it’s really the perfect spot for me.

Whatever happens next in life for our little family, I know this place will always have a special place in my heart.

Thankful Thursday #9

Gratitude is on the minds of many this month, so here are a handful of thoughts from some more well-known thinkers on the subject.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

–Elizabeth Gilbert

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

–G.K. Chesterton

Sometimes I need only to stand where I am to be blessed.

–Mary Oliver

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

–William A. Ward

Thankful Thursday #8

I’m thankful that I live in a place that has four distinct seasons. I love each of them for their own merits and in typical New Englander fashion, also loathe them at times for those same reasons!


Image via here

Fall is by far my favorite season of the year- often warm enough to still wear only a layer or two, but the chill of the nights brings cozy blankets and comfortable temperatures for enjoying a backyard fire, walks in the woods on sun-filled weekend afternoons without too many bugs, and the ability to turn the oven on for some yummy pumpkin bread. I loathe the raking of leaves and allergies that come with them, as well as the amount of work required around the house to prepare for winter.

Winter supports my love of hours spent reading or watching movies on the couch curled up and helps me keep many tea companies in business with my several cups of hot tea each day habit. I like snow when I don’t have to drive in it or shovel more than a foot, but loathe it almost every time after that.

Spring seems to be coming later and later each year in New England, but I love the excitement of those first slightly warm, sunny days where 4 layers of woolens is not required. I actually enjoy doing a deep spring cleaning and the excitement of planning outside activities and longer days. I hate spring for the allergies it brings me, the amount of mud and grossness that winter leaves behind, and the amount of spring yard clean up to do.

Summer is excitement for outside fun, drinks by the water, and BBQs. It’s the ease of summer dressing, not having to blow dry my hair when it’s wet in the morning, and how amazing freshly grown produce is, especially summer tomatoes. I dislike the hot humid days where breathing makes you sweat and mosquitoes.

But keeping gratitude in mind, the greatness of this place outweighs the bad moments and today, as I sit in a sun-filled room, I’m filled with grateful feelings of happiness that I’m in my favorite season.



Thankful Thursday #7

I’m sending out love and gratitude today for where I am in life.

It’s still a bit of a question mark about what might be next for me and my family, but I have worked hard for the life I’m making and I’m proud of that journey.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the privilege of education, learning, and exploring options in life, and can continue to do that to figure out what my next steps will be.

I’m grateful for opportunity and possibility!

Thankful Thursday (#6)

Today I’m grateful for sunshine– in my office in the mornings, on my drive home at night, and filling my sunroom so I can enjoy reading in its warmth on the weekends. After our long, cold, brutal winter, I’ve never been so happy for the arrival of spring.

Thankful Thursday (#5)

Life is busy and I’m struggling with simple tasks like making a grocery lists that equals healthy foods to make a meal ( sidenote: how does that happen? $75 of groceries and barely enough to actually nourish ourselves. Bad planning, of course). I’m not going to apologize for it, just informing mostly. It’ll get better ( as I am telling myself on repeat, most days).

All of this whirlwind craziness of life has me especially thankful today for my family. We are a fiercely loving, loyal clan of people that is made up of blood and relatives by choice. We might be loud, in your face, and all up in your business sometimes, but we are there for each other no matter the circumstance or time of day. We love with everything we have and make our time together count, even if it’s only a phone call. I’m grateful for them as a support network to lean on and get advice from, but mostly I’m so thankful to have them in my corner because I know that whatever life throws our way, we all have each other’s backs.

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