December 17 prompt from ReSound11: What's the one thing you've come to appreciate most in the past year?

I can't choose just one….seriously, I'm supposed to choose just one?! Impossible, when I sit and actually think of everything in my life. There's no way to really compare so many different things from different parts of my life. I appreciate the joy and little gifts that my kiddos bring me (almost) every day, my daughter's sassy personality and how she expresses herself in an, ahem, interesting way without care for what others think, and that they remind me to find joy everywhere. I'm thankful that even though money is beyond tight as a freelancer I am able to decide how I spend my time and even join my two little ones for birthday lunches; in a few short years, that special time will be gone. I appreciate that Erin made her First Communion with such an innocent, open heart and that her brothers were there, celebrating with her, and so very protective of her. I appreciate the amazing circle of friends I have in my life, who have become more like a chosen family. They know when to give me either a safe place to be or a swift kick to the rear (and sometimes both). Some, like Diana and Christine, brought me food and surprises when I so gracefully broke my foot this month and couldn't bear the thought of standing in the kitchen to make dinner. There are the girlfriends, like Gina and Rebecca and Michelle and Ann who cheer for me, believe in me and bless me with their unique personalities. I appreciate the monthly prompts of Ali's class, which gives me permission for the little time I carve out to glue paper to paper, get my hands messy and allow my mind can wander. I am giddy about sweet surprises, pretty flowers and the fact that I let my Match subscription go.

So even though I can't choose just one thing, I can definitely narrow it down. I appreciate my life, and all the triumphs and challenges that combine to make it uniquely mine. It's not perfect, but it's real. It's what I make it. And for those who like to keep track, the beauty far outweighs the dark. 

 One of my potential goals for 2012 is to become a better photographer; I had a great vision of answering this prompt with a cute slideshow or grid of pictures that would communicate exactly what I was trying to say without actually saying a word. Turns out I don't yet have the eye (or the skill) of a photographer. But these are a few images that summarize what I'm so thankful for this year (with my apologies to the real photographers out there, like my friend Diana, who does this so much better!):