My Mom. How can I not start with my own mother? There were, of course, times in my teenage years that I thought I "hated" her and wished she were any other kind of mother. But she loves me and all my siblings and wants the best for us. She has a lot of quirks and specifications that I don't understand and sometimes don't agree with, but as a mom she sure was the best kind for me. Always believed in me and knew I could do a good job but didn't let me slack off. She is the hardest worker I know, and I admire her for that.
My Dad. I feel like when I was younger I didn't really know my dad all that well. He was gone a lot and when he was home he was often tired. However, for the last several years (I think about 10 years now), he has become such an important part of my life. He is so gospel oriented and honest and I have learned so much from him. He is the other hardest worker I know.
My Grandparents. I have two sets of grandparents that happen to be around still. I am so grateful for them. They are always willing to help me out when I ask and happy to see me when the family gets together. I love them all!
My sisters. Well, bear with me as I have many. Jasmine: wonderful mother and role model as such. I love that no matter how long it has been since I talked to her or saw her, she is always so happy to catch up and find out what has gone on. I have even considered moving to Oklahoma just because she is there. Jessica: is unafraid to do what she thinks is best. I love her laugh and humor, and love how she expresses her own opinions while respecting others'. Anna: is so enthusiastic and so creative. I love when she cooks or sews or orchestrates anything- I always know it will be good. Shelly: a lot like me. Sarcastic but always willing to help out those she loves. Also extremely unafraid to show who she really is and never wavers in her self-identity. Lauren: I have loved hanging out with her lately. She is a complex teenager and I love to sit and talk to her and hear how her life is going. I know she will do great things in life. Nikenzie: smart and grounded. She is just starting to really grow up (13 in January!) but so far has still shown a great desire for anything that is good and right. I admire her for wanting to be good in such an evil world.
My brother. I guess he gets his own paragraph! I am so proud of him right now in the mission field. He is probably the most loving of us all. I always appreciate when he is excited for me over stupid little things that no one else cares about.
Todd's Family. The good ol' Itri's. It has been quite the adjustment getting to know the customs and habits of the Itri family, occasionally even shocking. But they are a wonderful family and I am so grateful for the things I learn from them and good people they are. Especially I am grateful for my mother-in-law, who sheltered me and took good care of my like my own mom before I was even engaged to Todd. I still am able to call her up out of the blue for any advise or anything else I need. I am also grateful for my sisters-in-law. Stephanie, who I wish I could see more often is an amazing mom, beautiful, and always makes me feel like she considers me part of her family. Lisa and Kelsey are both very different from me, but I have enjoyed getting to know them and learning a bit about their families as well. While it has taken some time, I hope that all of us are able to continue to become better friends and be a buffer for each other against the Itri testosterone.
Puddle. She has been a best friend since high school. I have learned so much from her. She is so strong and beautiful. While I don't get to see her nearly enough, I love every time we get together. I feel lucky to know her and her wonderful husband, Ryan.
Lauren Francis. That is not really her name anymore, but since I always called her that growing up to differentiate between her and my little sister, it is hard to make the switch to Lauren Billings. She was my first best friend in Provo, and has always meant a lot to me. We had a thoroughly bipolar relationship for about the first 8 years we knew each other, ranging from the bestest friends to short-term bitter enemies. But the last few years I have just appreciated her as a friend. She has been there for me and helped me stay young by playing Zelda with me like we used to. I am so glad we have ended our bipolarness and plateaued our relationship in a friends zone.
Christy. Best friend since 2nd grade. I can still call her any time for any thing, and I am so glad that her husband Jason and Todd get along so great. It has made for some really fun evenings and vacations. Christy and I are opposite in a lot of ways, and there are times when I wonder how in the world we ever stayed friends through the years. But I am so glad to have her in my life and for the person that I am because of her.
Miriam. She is in our singles ward and got me my job by giving me an amazing reference when she knew nothing about me. Since then we have become good friends and I love it when I get to see her and work with her. She is even nice enough to have picked me up and taken me home from work a few times. This is very helpful since Todd would have to do it otherwise.
Debbie and Aubrey and Chris. three amazing ladies that I also work with. They are all night shift workers, and I recently switched to working days due to being sick with child. I miss them all a lot, they became very good friends. Chris even got me a souvenir from her vacation, Debbie invited me to a party at her house (not to mention the millions of times she has helped me in nursing or started an IV on someone who had no veins), and Aubrey and I have been out shopping together plus she bought me Chik-fil-A because she knows I love it! One of the reasons I love my job so much is the great people I get to associate with.
Lila and her feet. I am so thankful for my baby girl. She is less than 3 months from officially being part of our family, and she is rambunctious. I say I am thankful for her feet because of all the sad stories I have heard since becoming pregnant about miscarriages and severe birth defects and even having to go to Puddle's son's funeral after a stillbirth. I don't know how any of those mothers are so strong, I don't know if I could handle anything going wrong with Lila. Every time she moves or kicks or does a full on dance recital for me I am so glad to know she is there. Because of her I get to be a mom- and there isn't a whole lot that I could be more thankful for.
Now that my novel is over, I just want to say thanks to all the other people who have been there for me. Even if I don't sit here and mention you by name, you have certainly had an impact on my life and I am very grateful for it. Todd doesn't get his own paragraph because I have already gone on and on about him a few times lately, but he is my other half and has become an appendage I can't live without.
Oh, and by the way, I think Lila is on a growth spurt right now which is the perfect time because I can eat more food now than I have been able to since I was dancing 25 hours a week! Go Thanksgiving food!