14,000 is my new favorite number

By Mir
January 24, 2008

Remember Love Thursday? I was thinking the other day that I sort of miss it.

And then some fine ladies brought it back, because Love Thursday will not be denied, man. It’s a powerful force that will not just go away. Let’s face it—in a world where the news is topped by supposed adult politicians bickering like children, famous actors overdosing, and any other number of tragedies, I dunno about YOU, but I could certainly use a little more Love Thursday. Just sayin’.

So I started thinking about it, and first I thought that love is my husband saying that yes, sure, let’s have a dozen small boys over to the house to run around and eat pizza and popcorn and leave greasy fingerprints on everything. And that led to me thinking that actually, love is me telling him that yes, I would dearly love to spend a day looking at campers we can’t afford. But that was before last night.

Chickadee is a worrier and an obsesser. (I have NO IDEA where she gets that.) (Shut up.) Bedtime can be particularly hard for her—when the body stops moving, the brain tends to kick into overdrive. One of the strategies we’ve adopted with her is the concept of a Happy Thought; each night I give her something happy to think about as she falls asleep.

Sometimes it’s something specific (“Tomorrow you’re having a friend over!”) and sometimes it’s something silly (“Giant marshmallows!”), but it seems to work. The only problem is that now she’s so dependent on this ritual, on the rare occasions when I might not be here at bedtime, she is prone to FLIPPING OUT that she will not be able to sleep if I am not here to give her the nightly Happy Thought. I try to make sure I give her one before I leave, but last night as I was trying to get out the door she melted into a puddle over various things, ending with how EVEN THOUGH I’d given her a happy thought, it wasn’t the SAME as when I’m not there at bedtime.

Well, we are not the sort of parents who buy the kids a lot of STUFF and/or whip out random gifts “just because.” But Otto had picked up something a few months ago and was saving it for Chickadee’s birthday. Upon encountering this sad scene, however, he quietly asked me if it would be okay to bring it out, and I—having completely forgotten about it—was thrilled and relieved to agree with his inclination.

And that’s how I ended up being able to leave the house last night while my daughter sat and beamed at her newest prized possession, and also why I really had a hard time getting annoyed, this morning, when I saw that she’d neglected to make her bed.

Sometimes, a little help goes a long way.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s to the old saying—you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.


  1. Stephanie

    He’s a keeper, that Otto is. :)

  2. birchsprite

    What a star you have as a husband

  3. Sunshine

    I have that book – and I love it. One of my favorite ‘things’ is: the litte line that makes an O a Q. Here’s to lots of happy thoughts!

  4. Megan

    How lovely that all of you have figured that our so early for Chickadee. I came upon my night-time fret much later in life than she and so didn’t figure out the “favorite things” sort of solution for much longer. Shames me to remember how long it was before I learned to tell myself, “there’s absolutely nothing I can do about any of that at 12:45 in the morning. I’ll just have to deal with it tomorrow.” Funny how the next day it isn’t quite as horrendous as I remember the night before…

  5. liv

    i love that book — it’s my favorite book to give as a gift, too. :) what an awesome dad otto is!

  6. Randi

    Awww! So sweet!! Hopefully you can add “The Patriots won the superbowl UNDEFEATED” to that book! I’ve never seen it – I’ll have to check it out!

  7. Nancy R

    Otto rocks.

  8. Sara

    One of my favorite bedtime stories to read to my 3 year old is “Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep”. She (and her older sibs) love it and we find plenty of happy thoughts before the bedtime tuck-in. But! I needs me some (more) happy! I will now be hunting for that book.

  9. Melisa

    That is sweeter than giant marshmallows!

  10. All Adither

    Thank you for that strategy. I think I’ll need it in another couple of years.

  11. hokgardner

    I’m going to have to get that book. My oldest is a worrier, too. One night she said, “It’s like my body is only 7 but my brain is grown up. It thinks of too many things.” Maybe a nightly happy thing will help her. Thank you.

  12. Flea

    Oh, your Otto is a true gem.

    When you said Giant Marshmallow, my first thought was Ghostbusters and the giant StaPuff Marshmallow man. That’s not such a happy thought. But it makes me laugh, which I guess makes it happy.

    Time to go find that happy book. Thanks for the smile!

  13. Stephanie Chance

    Is there a book called Stop Thinking So Many Happy Thoughts and Go to Sleep Already?

  14. Leandra

    That should get her through many, many nights! Let’s see, how many years would that be? Umm….Ummm…thiry something years? Sheesh! That really is an awesome gift!

  15. dad

    Add my stamp of approval and admiration to the swelling “praise Otto” list.

    Great find!

  16. Aimee

    Otto is THE AWESOME.

  17. Chewie

    ohohoh…I was guessing it was one of those voice recorder list maker little things and instead of a list, you would leave a happy thought for her to play at bed time….

    but the book is cool too.


  18. Laura

    That is beyond sweet.

  19. Lucinda

    That was WAYYY better as a bedtime crisis gift than a birthday gift. She will never forget how he came through for her in such a unique and special way.

    The longer I read your blog, the more parallels I see between Chickadee’s personality and my own daughter’s. Thanks for sharing. There are days when it helps to know I’m not the only one going through it.

  20. maggie ann

    So so beautiful in every single way.

  21. Kristen

    Otto is the greatest! That was so sweet

  22. The Other Leanne

    #14,001: Finding the book “14,000 Things To Be Happy About.”
    I wonder where I put it…

  23. jennielynn

    The best thing of all will be when she looks at that book and remembers how much Otto loves her. What a great guy!

  24. Shalee

    First time I heard of that book was at a Second City Improv club in Chicago. An audience member was asked to yell stop to find a page and then yell stop to find a specific thing. Then they did a whole elaborate improv scene trying to incorporate that thing on which to be happy.

    The thing to be happy about? Cold Chili

    Yeah, it was one funny improv.

    Glad to see the book is still causing smiles 12 years later.

  25. MomCat

    I had the same reaction to “giant marshmallows” as Flea. *giggle*

    Delightful to have Love Thursday back! A nice, fuzzy Awwww every week is great.

  26. Vane

    That was truly sweet of him!

  27. E

    Can we get a clone of Otto? I say we get modern science working on it pronto!

    Oh, and I’m using the happy thought thing for my own little worrier. I’ve done something like it on occasion, but never thought to do it as a nightly ritual. Gee, you’re so smart!

  28. Heather

    Parent points to Otto :-) That’s a great ritual. I may just try it out – and I think I’m going to have to hunt down the book, too!

  29. Heidi

    Whoo hoo, way to go Otto!

    Maybe on the nights you won’t be at home at bedtime, you can have a special envelope for Chickadee to open at a specific time. Kinda like the Oscars. “And the winning happy thought is…”

  30. mojo

    And here I was all ready to suggest a fishbowl of little slips of paper with happy thoughts. I have never used this technique before but I may have to suggest it to the oldest who is still ruminating and singing to herself at midnight most nights (why yes, my mornings are hell). We did use ‘dream spray’ (lavender scented linen spray) to help with the night terrors when she was 4.
    Huge kudos to Otto.

  31. TC

    I LOVE that book! A friend of mine, back in the day, used to email me one entry each day, because she knew that I (like she) was prone to being a little, um, gloomy. Chickadee’s gonna love it, too.

  32. angelfeet

    Whilst I waiting for the picture to pop up, I was really hoping it wasn’t a puppy you’d been keeping in the cupboard for a few months. That looks like a fab book and as my number one girl can be a bit of a bedtime worrier too, I’m going to go hunting for that.

  33. Angela

    That really is so great, to get to have the “new” parent be the hero!

  34. janethesane

    That’s a great story. Chickadee sounds like a little sweetheart and Otto is def a prize.

  35. The Over-Thinker

    Like Chickadee, I’m often kept from slipping into slumber by thinking too much (hence my name)…I think this book will be my next Amazon purchase. Maybe they’ll have something like, “USERS WHO PURCHASED THIS BOOK ALSO PURCHASED Black-Market Valium and this paisley patterned sleep-mask!”

  36. Cele

    You have no idea how much I needed that book 20 years ago. Wow.

  37. Pastormac's Ann

    Yay! Love Thursday is back!

    You’ve got a great guy there.

  38. dynamitt

    yay for bringing love Thursday back. I got the idea from you orginally and have been doing love Thursday myself the last few months.

  39. lolly

    I was a troubled sleeper too. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t fall asleep as I worried so much while I was that I couldn’t stay asleep, because then I’d have anxiety dreams. My mom actually did the same thing except we called it Sweet Dream Insurance. We would take turns thinking of fun and fantastical things for me to do in my dreams. We also ran into the problem of what to do when Mom couldn’t be there. Her solution was to have me draw the scene out a bit and then to add her own touches so I would have something tangible to keep reminding me. I still have a few of those, and I still bring them out sometimes even though it’s been at least a decade since the last one was drawn.

  40. Melinda

    I love this idea. One our rules in our house is no one goes to bed mad or sad but really I haven’t done a lot to be sure that isn’t the case. At least with my little man who is a bit more sensitive. I like the happy thought before bedtime. And I totally like the idea of this love Thursday thing. I will certainly be back to visit.

  41. Carolyn, the other

    I love the idea of Love Thursday. Thanks for clueing me in on that.

    And as the founder and head step-mom of Step-Parents Association of America – Wicked Not! (SPAAWN), I bestow Otto with the Golden Shield of Valour, which will absorb any blows but return only the glint of love and goodness emanating from the light in his heart.

    Aw, Love Thursday made me all mushy.

  42. Daisy

    That Otto? He’s a gem. I’m so glad Love Thursday’s back. Believe it or not, my son mentioned the other day that I hadn’t posted a Love Thursday in ages.

  43. Meramoo

    We do Happies every night before bed (borrowed from my church’s small group), where everyone has to say something they like about everyone else. It’s so nice to go to sleep on a good note.

  44. Jill

    I have that book, too!!

  45. Karate Mom

    AWWWW! I love that book!

    I have a friend who is an Christian author who used to make up “lists” of things to thank God for and give them to people…like, for example, she did one for my mom’s birthday and listed things like “Sweet times with a daughter, Lisa” and “Fun travels with a sister, Linda”.

    Anyway, years ago I saw “14,000 Things to Be Happy About” in Hallmark and told my mom, “Hey! Jan should write a book like this!” So, she bought one for Jan and who went on to write “10,000 Things to Praise God For”…and she even dedicated it to me and my mom!

    OK, sorry that comment was so long. I’m so glad that Chickadee loves her book so much! You’re such a good mom and Otto is a rockin’ stepdad!

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