March 1st, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Friendship, Writing, Motherhood, Father and Son, Ukraine, Denver, Colorado - Molly Rees Photo - Documentary Photography - grandfather making a toast by M. Menschel

Thank you for Laura meeting me at story-time today.  For Eloise and Aiden sitting side by side on the orange library rug.  For Moses who felt suddenly cured after we made the decision for him to stay home from school.  For pulling the table into the middle of the kitchen and setting it with cloth napkins and the good plates.  A dinner of sausage, potatoes, bread and salad with Orest’s father and his stepson Bogdan from Ukraine.  For Askold as I always think of him, holding up a glass as if to give a toast, making some irreverent joke that ends with his own deep chuckle.  Orest’s face responding with laughter, saying something in turn that makes his father laugh again.  For watching them across the kitchen table and thinking about how when I first met Orest, he hadn’t spoken to his father in several years.  And even now, how it always feels like a privilege and a gift to see the two of them together.

February 29th, 2016

Blog - The Pen & Camera - Gratitude Journal, Inspirational, Friendship, Writing, Motherhood, Denver, Colorado - Molly Rees Photo - Black and White Documentary Childhood Photography - boy making sister cry by M. Menschel

Thank you for that conversation with Johannah this morning, unexpectedly connecting deeply with someone from long ago.  Thank you for Moses (home from school) who I have never seen so still.  Who sat like a small, cross-legged statue in the bathtub until I finally conceded to let him out.  Thank you for Julian, who I found today with his head all the way inside the enclosed litter box, clinging onto the rim of the toilet bowl (twice), chewing on the toilet seat lid, sucking on an orange marker, eating cat food, crawling outside into the yard by himself, laying in a pile of Moses’s dirty underwear, and trying to climb inside the dishwasher.

Thank you for a reason this afternoon to use power tools.  For Orest’s new jogging sweatpants (because logically, the first step towards a new running regime is buying a fancy pair of sweatpants).  And thank you that life gives us moments that cause us to stop, laugh at our own failings, and realize that at least we’re trying.  Like today when I was feeling particularly self-congratulatory after making it successfully through an entire Target trip without having to take Julian out of his carseat, which I had placed in the shopping cart.  And then after loading the groceries I unbuckled Julian and took him out of his carseat to put him in the car.  It’s been that kind of day.

February 26th, 2016

photo by Neal Menschel

photo by Neal Menschel


Thank you for Orest fixing my car door.  Though I had never told anyone, it was all I had wanted for Christmas.  And now, for the first time in over a year, I can open the drivers side door from the outside without having to reach in through the backseat and open it from inside the car.

Thank you that due to a few choice knots learned from years of jury-rigging canoes onto vans and trailers, I have never come across a piece of furniture that I have not been able to strap onto the roof of my car.  For finding two free doors in an alley north of Sloans Lake that were the perfect size for shelving in the newly acquired shed, and hoisting them on top of the Volvo in the hot sun while Eloise and Julian sat patiently in their carseats, eating cheetos and listening to eighties rock on the radio.  For that flash of nostalgic gratitude that I felt for my boating days of yesteryear as I formed the final loop of the truckers hitch, complete with the obligatory tug on the taut rope that according to my dad all boaters did.  Saying out loud to themselves (as I, too, said aloud before getting back in the car) “That’s not going anywhere.”

Thank you for the lady who met me in the parking lot of King Soopers in Aurora to sell me a set of vintage American Tourister suitcases for $20.  She had offered to meet on the edge of town so I wouldn't have to drive the dirt road to her house, and when she saw me pull towards her she stood beside her car and smiled.  There was something unadulterated about her wardrobe and the genuine kindness of her face - a plain fleece jacket, a classic nineties perm, a pair of clean-pressed jeans.  She showed me the suitcases stacked neatly in the trunk of her Subaru, which she and her husband no longer needed as they had received a new set of luggage for Christmas.  They had used these up until that point, not because they were cool vintage suitcases but because they had owned them for four decades, and they still worked fine. 

Thank you for the two small pamphlets about God that I found in the inner pockets of the suitcases when I got home, which did not warn me about going to hell but mentioned only the name of the lady's church and that God loved me.  It made me feel a measure of endearment for the woman, so that I emailed her again just to say thank you, and that the suitcases were perfect.  And she wrote back saying how she loved when everything came together in just the right way.