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Counting has been a big point of interest around our house for the last few months.  Little Drummer Boy has been proudly demonstrating his prowess at counting to twenty, and bravely guessing at the unknown world beyond that benchmark.  “Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten….”

Squiggle has been learning to count to three, primarily in the context of “one, two, three, go!” and the subsequent 2-year-old land speed record.  In true Squiggle fashion, he prefers to skip right past the one and two, and focus on “three, go!”  Why take time to contemplate the process when you can just hit the ground running?  Despite our best efforts, he seems to think three is the only number at the moment.  We try to count as often as possible: french fries as they go on the plate, blocks as they go in the bucket, arms and legs as they go in the shirts and pants, steps as we go up or down them.  But, Squiggle clearly prefers three.  Each step is “three, three, three.”

On August 30, we counted Baby Girl’s fingers and toes for the first time–ten of each.  Then, because of a minor nerve injury to her right arm during her delivery, we were counting reps in her little home-grown physical therapy sessions–bending at the elbow, raising over her head, and rotating palm up and palm down.  Hub really put her through the paces with 3 sets of 10 or 12 reps.  She’s more in shape than I am.  Now, she’s pretty much using her arm normally, and we’ve stopped mentally counting each time we see her lift it on her own.

Hub has been counting pennies and desperately trying to find two to rub together.  My maternity leave was wonderful, but it meant less money from my day job and even less time for my freelance writing jobs.  My return to work full time was good, but added another day care tuition to our budget.  Winter has come early for us in Hub’s business with project work dwindling.  So, now we’re counting the days until we hear back from extra job applications.

As for me, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.  I’ve been adopting the taking names, counting check marks, and staying in at recess approach to thinking about our worrysome circumstances–assigning blame, complaining and criticizing.  Financial struggles and concerns are the top of the list in the family-buster stress category, and it’s been all over us like white on rice (as they say here in the deep south.)  It’s funny.  I never thought I was one to take the easy way out.  But, blaming, complaining and criticizing are SO easy.  It is so much easier to focus on someone else’s short-comings or mistakes than it is to take responsibility for my own.  Nitpicking my children into frustration is easy.  It’s so much easier to push my frustration on to them than to wisely deal with it myself.  Letting uncensored thoughts fly out of my mouth is a no-brainer.  It’s so much easier than exercising self-control.  It’s so much easier because it’s all about me.  It’s always easier to take care of Haley than it is to step outside of myself and my needs.  When faced with big things, it’s so easy to be small–to let the littlest things tear down and destroy.  It seems I need to relearn to count.

I grew up going to a Southern Baptist church (a couple, actually). Not that the distinction really matters, except to say that in Southern Baptist churches you stand up and sit down a lot, usually to sing.  One of the old standby hymns we sang was called “Count Your Blessings.”

Count your blessings.
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings.
See what God has done.

Yep, counting sounds pretty important right now.  In trying times, the hard stuff muscles its way to the front.  Those are the times when counting matters.  It’s a conscious, thinking action — counting, naming.  It forces me to push beyond the easy, to lay aside the temporary frustrations or disappointments and see life-long realities.  Blessings that can’t be shaken.  To count them is to keep a record, to acknowledge them, to give them a name, to signify their importance.

It’s fitting that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  What better time to start counting?  So, I’ve decided to embark on a mathematical journey to quantify the blessings.  Complaining and criticism, be gone!  I’m challenging myself to reflect on Thanksgiving and document my joy in posts for the 12 days of Thanksgiving (no, there’s not a song.)  Let the count-down to turkey day begin!


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