i woke up thanksgiving morning early, with my baby. the house was still and a touch cold. i was grateful when the heat kicked on and the warm air swirled from a nearby vent sweatering my chilled toes. i snuggled my baby and considered everything in my life i am grateful for:

the basic needs of life: shelter, food, clothing, and companionship and the means to provide it all.

healthy children that bless my life every day.

a husband who loves me more than the air he breaths.

parents whose sacrifices and love are so profound.

a sister who always spells understanding and comfort.

my photography and tutoring and the validation and accomplishment they both give me.

my freedoms.

great neighbors, who care.

and my friends who are present, even when i am not.

i am grateful for the constants and the things and people i know will always be there when i need them, and i hope they know i will always be here for them too.

i am especially thankful for the people that come into my life at certain times to show me a certain love or a certain support.

my girlfriend shannon is one of those people.

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before we moved to our new house shannon and i were neighbors and were in close contact. we had so much in common that it was obvious we were going to make great friends! shannon is the type of friend who gives so much without expecting in return. she used to make me meals when i was sick, pick up prescriptions if she was headed to the store before me, and would watch gunnar whenever she was available. she listened when we were together and i was consumed with something, made me think of  a different perspective when i had tunnel vision, and showed compassion and understanding when my heart was hurting or life was making me feel spent. i tried to do all i could so she would know i cared about her too. the allurement of a large house and a little bit of a backyard moved us away from our neighborhood and good neighbors like shannon and brian.

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the day we moved in fact, these two were there with moving-dolly and all. shannon was like 8 months pregnant even with their 2nd, but she made things happen to be there for her friends. brian made countless trips with jaren to get all of the boxes and furniture moved from point a to point b. they are good, good people. it was a bittersweet move for us. we were moving farther away from good friends, but were moving to more space which was a good choice for our growing family. i knew shannon and i would stay in touch, and we did. our conversations would ebb and flow, and she was usually the one to call me first (i am just not good at that), but she understood and was happy to talk when i returned the call. we kept in touch through email and text and met up for special events when we could. we teased them about moving out by us; we dreamed of how great it would be to live close to their family again.

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two years later we got a call that they were moving.

two streets down from us.

we still can’t believe it, and feel so grateful to have our friends back as neighbors.

the move was a total blessing in our lives. we are so grateful for them and all they do to love and support our little family. shortly after they moved jaren got word that he was going to be commuting one and a half hours to work each day. three hours total. our perfect plan of him being home by 4:00 so i could get to work was spoiled. we felt anxious at what we were going to do to be able to make things happen. shannon stepped up and offered to help with our children. i don’t know if i will ever be able to thank her fully or properly for this sacrifice and gift. i hope she knows i am here for her too, and that i am so appreciative. i hope she knows that i admire her selflessness and kind heart. i hope she knows i think she is wonderful.

she is also the talent behind my first giveaway. she has offered to make countless invitations and cards for birthdays, thank you’s, showers, etc. and she does it because she wants to help, not to get anything in return. i am so grateful for that. she is so creative and takes any idea and spins it into something so distinctive and inventive!!

another plug for her and her little business: if you are in need of anything gift related or of some fun decorating ideas, ANYTHING, check out her blog and get in touch; she is so amazingly talented; I am blown away with what she creates and how she sees things. run to her blog and enlist her help for all your holiday and gift giving needs!

 a few photographs. just for her.

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i love to see her husband interact with their children. he is such a good dad!! seriously, out of all the fathers i know, he is one of two that i think could stay home with their children and actually juggle it all. my son loves to spend time at their home because he, brian, (shan too, but you know what I mean shan..:)) is such a fun person. he jumps on the trampoline, kicks that ball around or throws pitches, actually plays geo-tracks instead of sending them off to play by themselves, and he is full of compassion and kindness. traits that i know most fathers have but don’t show readily. brian does, and i am grateful for that influence on my children’s lives when they are present in his home.

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i am grateful for friends for gunnar to have over; friends for gunnar to play little league with and grow up with.

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it was shannon’s idea to bring the lollipops to the shoot! it was perfect, another testament to her creativity and consideration. they were just what her boys needed for a little incentive and i think they made for some really great moments:

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little brother says while eyeing his big bro’s lolly:

“once i am done with mine, i will eat yours.” ;)

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i am so grateful for these friends. they needed to be back in our lives right now. i am so grateful that the plan of their life is intersecting once again with ours.

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shannon, may you always feel how grateful i am for you; may you always know i am a friend to you too. thank you for everything you do for me on a weekly/daily basis; a thousand thank you’s isn’t enough. brian, may you always be the father who gives his time to his children and the neighbor kids too. ;) brae and tanner, may you always feel loved when you are at our home (and may you have a sister to love someday too! ;)

we love you guys. thank you for being such present friends and loved ones in our life.

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