Words of Gratitude from a Chicago Mom on Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving only a day away, it's easy to get caught up in the craziness of it all. All the eating, drinking, shopping and parade watching is wonderful, but it can be a bit much. It's hard to avoid the vortex of the approaching holiday storm and to not start spinning out of control. That's why we all need to try to stay grounded, stay in control and stay focused - tomorrow and for the entire holiday season. What helps me do all that and more is my family. And, my family is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

This year has been a one of reflection for me. And, whenever I look back at the year and all the special moments that dot its timeline, I see my family and their smiling faces (phew!). My husband and I are so thankful that our sons continue to go with the continuous, ever-changing flow of our lives which has included new cities, new homes, new schools, new friends and new experiences. Anyone who knows us knows that we're not scared to make changes, and we're so glad our sons have been able to adjust, dig in and enjoy it all. Our collective ability to make hard decisions and run with them for all it's worth is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

Earlier this year I started this blog in an effort to chronicle our efforts to start to expose our sons to the world - starting with our adventures at home in Chicago. By writing this blog, I am able to stay true to our resolution - and feel like I'm accountable to you all to keep at it. I also am glad that it gives me a forum to share our experiences with you and others who love and want to get to know Chicago, the world and all of the people in it even better. The opportunity to open our sons' eyes and minds to the world - and share it all with you - is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

This summer we took our sons on our first trip abroad - and it was so worth it. We got to spend an amazing couple of weeks in Paris, France together as a family, travelers, explorers and adventurers. We had so many wonderful experiences and forged a ton of precious and funny memories that will last a lifetime. And, we were able to show our sons how it is to be in a country with a different language, customs, foods and ways of life - just one step in our efforts to raise them as world citizens. The ability to take our sons to Paris and share so many new and wonderful experiences with them is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

I have always felt lucky to be - and loved being - a twin. And, this year I felt like that feeling was amplified for both of us. Even though we're identical twins, my sister and I live completely different lives and that can sometimes make it all the more challenging to make time to truly enjoy each other. But, this year, while we were both not working for a stretch of time, we took the opportunity to stop, reconnect and have a lot of fun. Together, we've shared our experiences, our twin takes on life in the city, and even some old photos in our joint blog. The opportunity to spend so much time together and have so many wonderful moments with my twin sister is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

With two blogs out in the online world, I have had plenty of opportunities to let my creative side run a bit more wild this year - and I've enjoyed it so very much. Writing for these two blogs unwittingly makes every experience, adventure and activity something new and different. I look at things through a new lens, try to capture every detail via notes and photos, and then look forward to sharing it with you. And, just recently, I started writing a "best of French in Chicago" column for the My French Life online magazine. I love this opportunity since it gives me another, slightly different creative outlet and lets me share my love of all things French in Chicago with you and other Francophiles. I mean, for my first column, I sampled lots of amazing, authentic French bread just so I could share my thoughts on some of the best French bakeries here in Chicago with you. Just wait to see what's next! The chance to write more, experience more and create more is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

I know I'm lucky to have family - my parents and aunt - just a short car ride to the 'burbs away. And, I love being able to see them, and have our sons spend time with them, as much as possible. My sons love spending quality time at their grandparent's house and take fully advantage of being the suburbs whenever possible. And, I will always be grateful to my parents for taking our sons to Medieval Times - without me and my husband. Even though my husband's family is further away in New York and Florida I know we're always in their thoughts and their hearts - and the distance just makes each visit all the more special. We just need to figure out a way to get them here more often! I am grateful that my mother-in-law braved the Chicago cold to come visit us a few weeks ago - and my sister-in-law is coming tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with us. We love all of our family so dearly. Being surrounded by loving family (near and far) is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

So, what starts with my immediate family needs to end with my immediate family too. Who and what I am today is because of the support and love of my husband and the new experiences I have with my two sons each and every day. My husband is the compass that guides me down the best paths of my life. I am forever grateful to his former employer for sending him here for a project from New York City and the fact that he never went back! My sons have an amazing ability to open my eyes to new things, to make me look at things in a new way, and to laugh out loud all the time. A family that makes me happy, teaches me so much, and keeps me on my toes is what this one Chicago mom is so very thankful for this year.

I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving. May you cherish all that makes you grateful this year, and may it help you stay happy, grounded and in control this holiday season too.

Here's to raising world citizens - and enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

Aimee

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The "tree of thanks" collectively done by my sons. It's so very precious and insightful to see what they're thankful for - at least on that particular day at one specific time.

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