~thankful thursday~ butterfly effect



~30 days of gratitude~ day 21

When the frost covering my windshield called for me to dig up my ice scraper this morning, Quinn said, “Ooh! Can I help?” And I felt so grateful sitting in the driver’s seat, sipping my coffee, while he did his detail-oriented scraping.

Riding on a school bus full of seventh graders headed East on Highway 20 this morning, I felt grateful (I realize that sounds far-fetched, but it’s true). Quinn and his friend played chopsticks, coconuts, and I Spy, requiring nothing more than their hands and voices to be entertained indefinitely. The tree-filtered sunlight projected the smiley faces drawn on the frosty bus windows across the gray seat backs, and they danced and smiled and stretched larger as we drove along.

A Newport grad gave us a campus tour, and then we watched the women’s basketball team be amazing. Quinn’s sound sensory overload in the basketball arena quickly dissipated when I distracted him with my Sudoku app. Watching his awesome teachers handle everything so capably, I felt very grateful. I feel especially grateful for teachers like the one who shared with Quinn her own story of growing up in two households, and how jazzed she was when she got to her college dorm and had all of her things in one place at long last. He is with others more and more, and with me less and less, so it makes me feel good that others care enough to relate to him on such a meaningful level. The boy, all the kids, the teachers, the grad, the team, all made me feel optimistic about the future.

After my day of chaperoning, I was grateful to check a very big item off the to-do list, and Quinn now has a passport application pending. A swim lesson and a karate class later (grateful for these instructors as well), and now we have eaten our nachos and are toasting with kitties by the wood stove. We have eaten nachos an undisclosed number of other times this week already, and I am grateful that my dudes never complain about having them no matter how November it gets around here.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 22

One of the best things that ever happened to me happened during the cold, frosty, dark part of the year. I was a single mama having just debuted a schedule including two father-son overnights per week. One of those nights of the week featured a yoga class to which I signed up, and there was a handsome man in the yoga class, and we went on our first date on the shortest day of that year, seven years and eleven months ago.

Now his name pops up in my phone as “Rich husband person” with a picture of us being wind-whipped on Agate beach in our wedding attire, the day after we got married, two years and four months ago, and laughing our faces off.

This morning as we wished each other a happy dorkaversary (as we do on the 22nd of any month) he teased that I had probably already run my background check on him by this point in the year, but as you may have noticed, I write things down. According to my documentation, my trusted background checker had not yet reported back on his worthiness as a crush. Soon, she would give me two thumbs up, and our yoga teacher (who would end up officiating our wedding) would pair us up as partners and start assigning us some partner poses that made it somewhat difficult to focus on the breath.

Recently we went on a date to the play Tiny Beautiful Things, an amazing performance we both thoroughly enjoyed, though I basically sobbed my way through it. The play (and the book it is based on) peer into the shadows, much the way I have spent this November, but ultimately the story shines such a warm light out to the world. As we settled into our seats before the show, the woman next to me joked, “I only brought enough tissues for myself.” I reassured her that I had brought some for me, then turned to Rich. “Honey, I hope you brought something.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue shop towel! Of course. Industrial strength.

I’m grateful for his steady, stable presence. So big and strong, yet very flexible – as evidenced by the way he is wrapped right around the pinkies of three granddaughters. We’re a great team, through thick and thin, and even internet swooning.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 23

Because religious dogma and personified male deities are subjects I have grappled with in my life, I have taken a long time to embrace the application of the action verb to pray to my personal noun, but when I look at the way I relate to the spirit and energy in the universe, I find that there are a few one-word messages I say to it that are prayers.

Each day as Quinn leans towards me, letting me kiss the top of his head before he lugs his giant red backpack off to middle school, I inhale his cinnamon scalp, then exhale a prayer for his safety as I pull away from the curb. Please.

When I kiss my husband as he goes off to build metal fuel tanks out of fire aboard floating grease tubs: Please.

Each time I think of Mom awaiting the results of her most recent round of medical tests: Please.

I utter many prayers of Please. Prayers of Thanks? I think I spend November intentionally focusing on these, because the scale is usually tipped well over to the Please side of the balance the rest of the year.

My intriguing son. Thank you. My loving husband. Thank you. Mom, Dad, kitties, wood stove fires, library books, coffee, veggies, nachos. Thank you. The way my fairy dog is snuggled under the blanket on my lap, her soul string knotted securely to my heart. Thank you.

It doesn’t seem to matter that my prayers of Thanks are repetitive. Threading gratitude onto a string like popcorn and cranberries, I tend to alternate Rich, Quinn, Rich, Quinn, with some other nuts and berries and cinnamon sticks mixed in at intervals, This still results in a long, festive strand of gratitude garland with which to decorate my dark December interior. November is spent running my fingers over each of these nuggets, like rosary beads, breathing each one in, breathing out like a prayer. Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 24

Today I am grateful for sleeping in, sunshine, and a breakfast date.

For dog snuggles, for making our home cleaner together, and for a nice chat with Mom.

Mom and I both feel like November has rushed by. When November begins, at least for the past four Novembers, I feel this daunting sense of “30 whole days?!” when I’m committing to doing this gratitude challenge. Then suddenly, it’s day 24! Blink, it’s December.

I told her I still feel like this gratitude thing is good for me, especially at this time of year. It has become my way of intentionally setting the tone for my hardest season, of dwelling on the good of the present moment.  A small change in the initial conditions of my winter might be enough to determine a very different set of outcomes for me, by the time I make it to next spring.

I think someone has already called that the Butterfly Effect…



~30 days of gratitude~ day 25

I am grateful for good news and good signs today.

I am grateful for natural beauty that makes me pull over the car and get out to look at it, with my mouth hanging open.

I am grateful for dinners leading up to thanksgiving that I like to think of as “gathering together ghetto”, in which parsnip fries and roasted kalettes are sides to… hot dogs! We’re not trying to create too many leftovers in the early part of this week, after all. Another gathering together ghetto dinner I like is to top Papa Murphy’s faves with fresh organic veggies from the farm! Now you see why I’m not a food blogger.

I am grateful for time to get my turkey and cranberry shopping done today.

I am grateful for karate kid movie nights with my rainbow love.

Popcorn and cranberries, repeat.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 26

I am thankful for my brothers, one of whom is celebrating a birthday today. I feel particularly grateful for their positive role model position in my son’s life. They both take him under their wing for various areas of expertise when they get around him (one for chess and computer stuff, the other for drums). But it’s more that they are nice, caring men being themselves in his general vicinity that I really love. Neither one of them is afraid to be who they are, not afraid of hugs or babies or rolling out a pie crust. Both are wonderful fathers and the most excellent uncles.

None of these are very recent photos, but they are all special ones that I was looking through this evening, feeling the sibling gratitude.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 27

Speaking of rolling out pie crust… I am thankful for a reliable family pie crust recipe. I am grateful for the threats from Rich to wake up in the middle of the night and start eating the chocolate bourbon pecan one that is cooling on the table. Luckily the threats are empty, because I would sleep right through that. I am also thankful I know what to make for dinner when I’ve been in the kitchen long enough for one evening already. It starts with the same letter as November.

I am very grateful that Quinn comes home tomorrow. There is a special kind of gratitude to be felt watching a boy who is growing at an obscenely fast rate eat plate after plate of food, so tomorrow will be the perfect homecoming during which I can heap abundance upon his growth spurt.

I’m not usually grateful for cold hands, but I certainly tend to have them this time of year, and I’ve heard they are useful in making pie. “Cold hands, warm heart,” the saying goes. Last night as I made grilled cheese (it’s still non-leftover meal week!) I thought of how my mom began a tradition of “putting the love in” the sandwiches when we were kids that my brothers and I do for our sons. I like to think of the food I feed to my guys as a love language, and foods like pie, where each molecule of buttery dough is held in my hands before being filled with sweetness, seem like especially good vehicles for conveying food love.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 28

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s been a day full of abundance here at the dragon house. Abundant sleeping in, abundant good food, abundant wood heat, and abundant love.

Today I am feeling very grateful for our parents. Rich got to talk to his Oklahoma Mom and Dad today, and it is nice to hear their updates filtered through him, as well as hear his side of the conversation. He says such nice things about me when he talks to other people, and I really like that about him. I found out that Bob (of the legendary popcorn) has been ninja-reading my gratitude posts. We are very grateful to hear that they are both in good health.

I am also grateful for Rich’s Oregon Mom, to whom I refer as my outlaw-mother, who came and saved me from having to carve the turkey. She is our one local parent of our five parents, and we feel lucky and grateful to get to celebrate holidays with her. I particularly enjoyed watching Quinn sit side by side with her as they laughed hysterically at YouTube videos this evening.

One of the first things that I learned about Rich, even before our first date, was that he has two moms, and that he loves them both very much. I knew he was going to be a good one, from that moment. You want a guy who loves his Mom. And this guy loves both of his!

My Mom and Dad… well, I talk about them a lot already, but I’ll always be very grateful for them. My appreciation for them grows all the time. I don’t know why I was thinking of this today, maybe because Rich and I took a walk through the frosty back yard and walked right by the spot where we gave our wedding toast, but one of the main things Rich and I agreed on wanting to mention during that toast was our parents. For their love, their support, and the wonderful example they have set for us. I’d like to honor them by dedicating this Thanksgiving Day gratitude post to our five wonderful parents!

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