This masterpiece is available as a T-shirt, wall clock or hand puppet for a small fee.

It's weird the things that stick out in your memory. I can remember one Thanksgiving while I was still in elementary school when the teacher had given us the assignment to take each letter in the word “Thanksgiving” and come up with one thing for which we were thankful starting with that letter.

I was going like gangbusters till I got to “V.” I couldn't think of a single thing. “V?!” What is there to be thankful for that starts with a “V?” I didn't care anything about the violin, was completely ambivalent about the state of Virginia and verbs.

I was so proud of myself when I finally came up with “vision” that I turned to the girl next to me to show off. Her “V” word was “Very Happy.”

That didn't even make sense. How could you be thankful for “very happy?” I can remember trying to explain to her how that didn't make sense ...

And 30-plus years later it's still bothering me, because I am THAT much of a nerd. A nerd who LOVES the holidays. I love getting turkey crafts sent home in the kids backpacks and going to parties where the kids wear slightly racist Indian headdresses and we celebrate the fact that we left England for a better life! (That last bit is a little in-joke between me and the hubby. He calls Thanksgiving “That time of year when you Yanks celebrate giving smallpox to the natives, right?”)

I have so much to be thankful for this week, this year, and I'm going to do it (literally) old school-style:

T is for toilet-training! We're 90 percent there! I can't get any more specific without spoiling your Thanksgiving dinner.

H is for hair cuts. My beautiful little man finally got one from the nicest, most patient beautician at a Supercuts. Her name was Mary. Now that we've started reading Christmas stories, every time the Nativity comes up, Billy points out “Baby Jesus and Joseph and Mary ... Mary cuts your hair.”

A is for autism. It's always there; a part of every holiday, for better or worse.

N is for Nan, as her grandkids call my mom. She has a close relationship with all her grandchildren, and particularly with Billy. There are so many times that she can get through to him when no one else can. He's made so many breakthroughs in her company. It just goes to show that sometimes love is the best therapy.

K is for Kindermusik! I discovered both Billy and Willow's love and talent for music in this special class, and we'll miss it after this semester when our wonderful Ms. Jaci moves on to other musical opportunities. So, Jaci, next semester we're cool to just drop them off at your house on Saturday mornings, right?

S is for Sisters: Mine is hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year! Thank goodness, because my house currently looks like we keep a herd of goats in the living room. “S” is also for Willow's favorite new way of describing herself: “I saucy!” she tells us regularly.

G is for gymnastics. Billy rules the school on the balance beam. This from the kid who literally falls out of his chair at the dinner table 16 times before he can finish a cheese sandwich.

I is for “I,” a pronoun that Billy has started occasionally using. It's still a rare occurrence, and you're still likely to hear him scream, “You don't need a poo-poo!” at the top of his lungs, much to the alarm of passersby.

V is for vegetables, which thanks to ABA therapy, we are occasionally managing to get our son to swallow. With great effort. And bribery. Um, I mean reinforcers.

I is for Immodium and Immodium for Kids, without which our family wouldn't have made it through the last week. (Am I oversharing again?)

N is for neurotypical. I may write more about Billy, because this is an autism blog. But I thank God every day for both my kids and the fact that the second one has been so easy ... which probably means, of course, that on her 16th birthday she's going to get her eyelids pierced and elope with a motorcycle gang. Eh, it's still been worth it.

G is for gang. HA! Just kidding. Actually, I'll go with that – my gang. You know who you are. I'm related to some of you. Some of you I've adopted because you listen to me whine so regularly that you're entitled to be the beneficiary on something. Some of you I've never actually met, officially, face-to-face, but I talk about you to the rest of the gang so frequently that we've decided to give you a jacket and let you in on the secret handshake. To all of you: Thank you.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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T is for...

T is for Thank God it's over. I know that makes as much sense as very happy but I hope toucan forgive me. It's all I've got.

N is for Nougat

I tried to do this exercise based on a prompt from my friend Sherri's blog, but when I could only come up with "nougat" for the first N, I knew that I had to throw in the towel.

A VERY Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Just a quick comment between calories. I'm pretty sure I'm well on my way to 4,000 for the day, calories that is. Love you post, again. You'll have to write a cr@ppy one soon so I can say something mean... but not today, on Thanksgiving. You all have a lovely day. We flew to NY to celebrate with my wife's family. It's very Norman Rockwell here. Talk to you later.

--Michael (aka:

p.s. My daughter did Kindermusik since she was a tiny girl. Oh, and the eye piercing comment made me laugh... LOL as they say online.

"Eyelid-piercing"...ouch! Maybe she'll go for something less disturbing, like purple hair!

Fun list, Amanda...I hope you guys have an amazing Thanksgiving!


Big Daddy stole my comment.

But, it is good to know that somewhere out there, someone's representing my praenomen well. (Can you guess what my new word of the week is?)

LOL today my oldest, Corbin (8) , told me he was so thankful for the Pilgrims because without them we wouldn't have Thanksgiving- I quickly cut him to the core and asked shouldn't you be thankful for the Native Americans...his response, "You mean the Indians?"

Not So Bad

My baby sister got an eyelid piercing and eloped with a biker gang. It's not so bad. We see her every now and again on America's Most Wanted.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Total 7 comments

Ok, I'm taking care of pukey kids today, so I leave you with the photo below. Give me your best caption ideas, and the winner (chosen by Willow) will win a brand-new (I promise, it hasn't been watched even once by my kids) special edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon, not the one with Jim Carey) still in its shrink wrap.

This is a shot of me and Willow from Billy's Thanksgiving lunch at school. And yes, that is a giant trash can right next to our table.


Just post your caption ideas below, and Willow will choose the winner by Monday. (Disclaimer: Baby cannot read and may be assisted by mother.)

Reader Comments


Think she spotted the trashcan and had a vision of the days ahead? Your poor family. I hope you are all back to healthy and felt great for Thanksgiving!

"We already did the smiling shot - now's the silly face one. Right?"

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.


Willow the vampire, as she moves in on your neck.................

I need to driiiiiiiink!

Don't enter me in the comp, I couldn't view the DVD anyway as different regions so am just joining in for fun:) Jen

Remove this silly hat and nobody gets hurt.

Or -
"So .... hungry.... Must ... eat .... mommy's ... hand."
"You won't be smiling after I swallow your pinkie."
"Vertigo. All those colors in your blouse are giving me vertigo. Gonna hurl. Where's the trash can?"

(Sorry about that last one. It really is a pretty blouse. I swear.)

This One Has a Snowball's Chance in ......

Really, mommy! I DO NOT need the Heimlich maneuver!

Turkey? Where's the Beef?!


(prepare for a lion-from-Wizard-of-Oz reference:) "If I...were king...of the forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrest!"

Sorry your kids are illin'. It's tough to watch little ones fight the yuckies--especially when you're not feeling so great yourself. I hope you're all on the mend so you can enjoy a happy and turkey-filled Thanksgiving!

Total 10 comments


As we prepare for the big Turkey Day holiday next week, it's easy to get caught up in the preparations, the stress that comes with housecleaning and menu planning and overnight guests. The irony is that many Thanksgivings have passed without me behaving in the slightest bit thankful for anything.

Today's guest has already made me re-think my priorities. Jessica Watson is a very talented blogger sharing her life's stories at Four Plus An Angel. Her blog is named after her five children, "four in my arms and one in my heart," as she describes her beautiful bunch. In October of 2007, she gave birth to triplets at 28 weeks of gestation, "and my sweet daughter Hadley passed away in my arms on her third day of life," Jessica tells us.

Over the next week, I'm going to be especially thankful that both of my kids have a place at our table, and I'm going to save a special corner of my heart for those parents who have suffered an unimaginable loss.

In Jessica's own words ...



Parker and McKenna's first Thanksgiving in the NICU

We've Got This One

Since we lost our daughter, holidays have not been my favorite. Hanging six stockings instead of seven and filling one less Easter basket is enough to make me want to sleep through the day all together. But I have a wonderful husband and four living children who would not dare let me stay in bed during their waking hours so I have learned to face reality and scale holidays back to what I can handle. I just don't have it in me to manage the craziness of big parties and the hustle and bustle of all the holiday happenings that were our life before.

But Thanksgiving I can do. Actually I think I'm pretty good at it.

If there is one thing that losing a child has taught me it is to be thankful. I struggled with this in the beginning, the thought of being thankful when I was bitter and felt cheated out of a lifetime with my daughter, but her last breath left me with an understanding of the fragility of life that will forever change the way I cherish life around me.

I wake up every day thankful down to my toes to have a house full of living, breathing children because I know things could have turned out much differently. Of course there are days they can push my patience to limits I never realized I had but in every tantrum, mess or sibling argument there is always a moment when my mind quiets and I am reminded that I am lucky for the simple fact that they are alive. The gratitude I now have for life is hard to explain. I have watched life stop when I had no idea that it would, to watch it go on and on each day never ceases to amaze me.

When I put my kids down to sleep at night I am very aware of the fact that there are moms out there who pass by an empty nursery each day that they have never been able to use but can't bear to take down and when my husband is running late from work I immediately run through my head to our last conversation to make sure I told him I loved him and the answer is always yes, because I never forget, and I dish out the I love you's like candy in this house.

Sometimes I wonder if it is morbid to think this way, to live each day like it could be the last, but it has become the only way to find peace for us. I don't think I will ever look back and regret living my days so consciously, reminding myself often that all I have is to be cherished.

I don't think my children will look back and be sad that the dishes were piled in the sink while we were all playing hide and seek or that Mommy and Daddy ran to them a little too quickly and smothered them with kisses if they got hurt because we were a tad on the paranoid side.

I think, at least I hope, that we are building our family with a contagious amount of love and gratitude and a deep appreciation for the fact that Thanksgiving is the one holiday that we have in the bag.

Reader Comments

What a beautiful post!

Beautiful Post

Thanks for this Jessica...I have new perspective going into this upcoming holiday week.

Thank you

First, Jessica, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your perspective is really quite amazing. It's inspiring.

I've never lost a living child, but I lost two before they were born. I could relate to what you said about your level of gratitude for the things you have, and how you lavish your children with love because of it. I've always sat in awe of the way some form of goodness tends to spring from pain. Maybe it's partly a survival instinct, but I like to call it grace and wisdom.

I hope you find peace this holiday season. What a beautifully written post. (And thanks, Amanda, for introducing Jessica to your readers.)

Total 3 comments

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