11.26.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 5}

~Road Trips~


We just returned from a road trip to Montana for Thanksgiving. As a family, and even before the kids were with us, we have traveled so many miles that we can define ourselves as a Road Trip Family. Our destinations usually involve visiting family and are rarely less than seven hours. When I was a child I spent a lot of time on the roads with my parents as well. In Montana, the fourth largest state in the union, to get anywhere takes a few hours. It's just in my blood to get on the road again and I just can't wait.

All the memories of trips we've taken, especially now with the kids, makes my heart swell with gratitude. We pile in the tightly packed van with blankets, pillows, books, CD's and screens and settle in for the long haul. We try to keep the kids off the screens for long periods of time so they can look out the window or we can have lively conversations (which mostly happens at the end of the trip when my nerves are frazzled).

Road trips are also a time for reflection. Adam and I make our plans for the future over sips of Starbucks and around potholes or even herds of cattle. We also take advantage of the time together to listen to inspiring CD's (usually about Saints) and pray the rosary together. It's good for a family to get away together and our road trips provide a that time for us. It's like a mini family retreat.



~Scattering Agates~

I started this blog in January of 2009. That means in a couple months it will be ten years of blog bliss (I just used my fingers to count...I can't believe it has been that long!).  I'm so grateful for my little corner of cyberspace where I can share my tumbled thoughts, and you are free to take or toss them.

Scattering Agates began, so I thought, as a way to communicate the contents of my brain in a cohesive way that all the world could understand. A friend at the time told me, in essence, that I think about things and they roll around my head until someone comes along and picks up my thoughts like she picked up agates on the beach. Hence the name of my blog.

At that time, I thought blogging would be the answer to my communication problems. I hoped I could scatter my thoughts, my agates, in a way I wasn't able to in conversations. Instead of incomplete thoughts with a person here and there and everywhere, I could actually complete my thoughts and make a difference in the world.

What I found by blogging (that may be a word now because my computer didn't underline it in red) was that I was still misunderstood. Eventually, I decided it didn't matter, and in the meantime, my reason for keeping a blog changed from a desire to be understood and communicate effectively to a place to continue and pursue my passion to write. Here is what I understand now, readers hear what they want or need to hear. My writing takes on a life of it's own after I hit publish. Most interestingly (to me) is when I write to vent frustrations, often readers find what I say funny. I never imagined I could be funny. I also never imagined the positive feedback I've received by scattering my thoughts.

And so I've continued on and on for ten years and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon!

It seems a little silly to be so grateful for a space to dump out the contents of my head, but I truly am. Thanks to you, my faithful readers, for sticking with me. I wonder if any of you are still with me from way back when I started (besides my mom, of course)?

~Gratitude Notes~

I'm grateful for the completion of November Gratitude Notes. This was a task I set out to do to get myself back in the writing game. The format was good for me because it was a challenge. I intend to keep writing on a weekly basis, maybe more. It seems this writing thing really soothes my soul and I need some soul soothing. Don't we all? 

11.18.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 4}

~The Holy Rosary~


Oh where to start with my gratitude for the Holy Rosary? Well, for one, the picture above is my rosary and I love it for many reasons, but mostly because of the natural beads and beautiful colors. It is from company called Rugged Rosaries and I specifically bought a rosary from them because they claim to be unbreakable. Mine (like all my rosaries) broke. I had to send it back. Thankfully, it's good as new. But, that's not the reason I love the rosary.

Maybe it's best to list:

1. The rosary is very Catholic. It's not (gasp) in the Bible and so non-Catholic Christians don't get why it's such a big deal. I'm not thankful for it because it's not in the Bible and other Christians don't "get" it, just thankful for it's very Catholic identity.

2. Each of the five decades of the four different sets of mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous) help me to recall different scenes from the life of Jesus, ironically, from the stories of him in the Bible (so it is Biblical!). I'm grateful for how the rosary helps me to recall those important moments without flipping through the Good Book and also how my imagination comes into play. Often I imagine myself in those scenes while I meditate on them.

3. I am grateful for all the different kinds of rosaries and how they range from highly functional to ornate. Each rosary has it's own personality and usually fits the person who owns it (see photo above of my rosary). It's kind of like dog owners and their dogs.

4. I love our Blessed Mother and am so thankful for her in my life as my mother in heaven loving intercessor (we call her Queen of All Saints). She is pretty central to the prayers of the rosary. In each decade we pray ten "Hail Mary's."

5. The #1 reason (I should have done a countdown) that I am grateful for the rosary and its prayers is....PEACE. Have you ever seen that bumper sticker that says, "Pray the Rosary for Peace"? It's true! In those times when our family is not at peace, when I'm not at peace, when things are scary, horrible, sad, frantic, or mean, praying the rosary brings peace. I pull out those beads and begin to pray and the demons flee.



Here's a link: How to pray the rosary.


~Whistle blowers~

I tried to only put part of the interview of Siobhan O'Connor. It's near the beginning of this newscast. She was the personal secretary of a bishop who was covering up sex abuse in the diocese of Buffalo, New York. Although  I don't like to highlight the horrible news that keeps coming out about our beloved church, I am so grateful for people like Siobhan and others who are holding people accountable even when it is heart wrenching and difficult. I hope, especially if you are Catholic, that you watch her interview. She nails it with such grace and humility (it starts at about 4:15).


~Anniversaries~

Seventeen years ago on the 24th of this month, Adam and I were married. That happens to be one of the top five best days of my life (we have four kids). Adam and I were married about six months after we met. Those first few years were a bit of a shock as we got to know each other. Plus, Grace joined us just under a year after our wedding day. Of course Adam and I both have personality quirks and selfish tendencies, but what amazes me is how marriage and children has slowly chipped away at our pointy edges. Both of us have changed and grown over the years as we practiced the, sometimes very uncomfortable, dance of give and take.

I wouldn't say our marriage has been rocky, but it has not been easy. What I am most grateful for is our shared faith which we have depended on to get us through. When times were tough, we each had a fountain of graces to draw from that gives so much help in the hard times and it's also a place to come together in times of thanksgiving. We have stood side-by-side during the joyful times of our babies' baptisms, and have stood in line together, heads bent and hearts heavy, for confessions. In each circumstance we have come out refreshed and ready to begin again.

I'm so grateful for this day, our anniversary. It is such a joy and a privilege to be married, to have someone to walk side-by-side with to our final destination. I am especially thankful that my partner is Adam. Even though we didn't know each other very well, God knew each of us intimately, and I'm convinced it was a match made in heaven.

~Thanksgiving~

As cliche as it may be, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, specifically the first Thanksgiving. Each year my kids and I remember the pilgrims and their trek across the ocean in search of freedom. Although they were not the first colony in America (that happens to be a Catholic colony in Florida established by Spain), the reason we remember them was because of the Mayflower Compact. Maybe you already know this, but my early education was hazy and sporadic and so now I understand better why that was important. It was important, in part, because they were the first colony of people that claimed themselves (we the people) as the leaders. They did not pledge allegiance to a king or country, but established their own government. It was revolutionary and the seed of the American Revolution over 150 years later. I'm grateful for the pilgrims bravery and fortitude. They are a continual example to us to strive and even fight for freedom from tyranny, and especially religious freedom, because inevitably someone wants to control who or how people worship.

11.12.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 3}


~Cielo Vista~


A few years ago, Adam and I tried really hard to move to Montana. I grew up in Montana and have always dreamed of moving back to the Big Sky state. We even found a house we hoped to buy on a street named Cielo Vista.  I looked up the meaning of cielo vista and determined it basically means "sky view." It became clear as time went on that we were not going to move to Montana and eventually bought a house in the same town we lived in just off the Oregon coast. It touched the sky with its hilltop location, and I thought it was our cielo vista (If not for all the trees and forested hills around us, we would have had a great view of the sky). Two years later, and quite unexpectedly, that house on top of the hill became our ticket to move to western Idaho. Now, it turns out, we have such an amazing view of the sky, and especially the sunsets, it is most definitely our cielo vista! Although we moved to the Gem state and not the Big Sky state, the western Idaho skies are mighty big with few trees and hardly any mountains to obstruct our view.  At times I still miss the mountains and forest trees, however, I'm so thankful for our sky view.


~Classical Education~

A classical curriculum, I have learned since using it as a home school teacher, is so much more than studying the ancient Greeks and classical music. It is more of a method of teaching and training a young person's mind to think critically. It starts at the very foundation of communication, the spoken word, and then builds, piece by piece. It seems to be very intuitive to a child's development as well. There is lots of memorization at the early stages and writing comes later when the child can actually write without being frustrated by letter construction or spelling errors, and can write fast enough to keep up with his thoughts. The part that makes my heart sing is the deliberate exposure to beauty and stories of virtue. 

I wish I could do a better job of describing classical education. It turns out, I may get a better handle on it because I volunteered as the Enrollment Coordinator  at a new local charter school called, Treasure Valley Classical Academy (the position kinda fell in my lap, thanks be to God).  When it opens next fall, my kids will be students there too!



~Soul Gardening~



It arrived! The Fall 2018 issue of "Soul Gardening: A Mother's Journal." When I turned to page 20, there it was.  It was titled, "Autumn Grace," and I wrote the reflection! I'm so excited for my first ever legit published work. I really enjoy reading this paper journal where I can turn the pages and write notes in the margins, and I am so grateful (and humbled) to be a contributor this time! I thought about copying what I wrote here for you to read, but maybe you'd like to subscribe yourself to "Soul Gardening Journal." It's free! 


~Amy~

My friend, Amy, came to my house this last weekend! It was unexpected. She is getting ready to bring more goodness into the world (baby #7) and was in need of a vehicle upgrade.  There was a great deal on a 12 passenger van in Boise, and I only live an hour away. She got a ride over (from the coast) with Adam and she and I went together the next day to pick up the van. She stayed a couple nights and we had such nice time together. We laughed a lot and had many "important" conversations to solve all the world's problems. Amy is one of my faithful readers, so excuse me while I talk to her specifically: Love you, Bridge Building BFF. I'm so grateful for your friendship!!


~Friends~

Having Amy made me think how grateful I am for all my friends near and far, old and new, inside of family and out. Friends are one of life's greatest blessings. I'm so grateful for all my friends!!

~Cottonwood~


We had a cottonwood tree in our front yard when I was a kid growing up in Montana. The sound of the wind blowing through its hardy leaves and the snow-like sprinkling of the cotton seeds in the spring are all too familiar to me. While cottonwood trees are happy to live in the Bitteroot Valley of western Montana, they were not so happy on the Oregon coast. Now, in western Idaho, I have my cottonwood trees back. They love it here too! So, I'm grateful for cottonwood trees. I heart them.

~Small Victories~

Right now I'm thankful that I've come to the end of this week's gratitude notes. I still have many more things to be thankful for and look forward to next week, but I'm glad I am finished right now.  And, as a stay-at-home-mom, finishing anything is an accomplishment, so I'm grateful for that.


~


11.05.2018

November Gratitude Notes {2018: week 2}


~Books~

A few nights ago I closed the novel I had been reading, OutStealing Horses, by Pers Pedderson.  This was the second time I had come to the end of this book. It is unusual for me to read a book twice. The second time was even better than the first (about ten years in between). I love the descriptions, the reflections on youth and aging, the setting and the depth of feeling and thought the author so beautifully portrays. It is not a happy story, but not super tragic either. It’s real. If a novel is too happy and ties up neatly in the end, I feel let down. I want to be able to identify, at least a little, with the characters and plot line, Neat and tidy stories do not ring true to life (I do like those types of books too, they just don’t speak to soul in the same way).  

Sadly, my phone and its easy access to the world wide web has taken away copious amounts of my reading time (I don’t think my phone will make it into my gratitude notes, and yet it is my ever-constant companion). I have made an almost desperate effort to bring books back into my life in the last few months. It’s rare to see people reading books anymore, they are like an endangered species. I remember when I was in high school and a local lineman had brought into the classroom a dead eagle he had found. We all gathered around to observe the majestic bird, and an endangered species. What if, years from now, kids gather around a book in the same way?  Save the books! I better get a bumper sticker.

~Straws~

If you haven’t seen me in a while, you might be surprised that my crooked smile is flashing silver (and even yellow and blue). I have braces. Since I have passed the hallowed age of youth, my teeth have gotten more and more crowded. It seems I’m constantly at the orthodontist for my kids, so I decided to give it a go myself. I did not have the option of adult preferred ceramic braces and I didn't want to pay for the clear retainer type, so you can now refer to me as metal mouth . When I first had the braces, I forgot to use a straw when drinking coffee. My teeth turned yellow. In order to offset the yellow, I got bright blue bands on the braces. It was slightly awkward to be over 40 with brightly colored braces. One gal who hadn’t seen me in a while said, “I didn’t know you had blu…blu…braces.” It was so funny! Since I had my teeth cleaned, I no longer sport bright blue, just a boring grey. Now I am sure to drink all my colored beverages with straws. I am now thankful for straws and how they keep my teeth from turning yellow. I'm also thankful I don't live in San Francisco where straws have been banned.



~Leaves~
All the stages of the life of a leaf intrigue me, but I get almost giddy when the colors start to change before winter comes again. Driving is especially magical in the fall. I’m enchanted by leaves that race across the road like a crowd of runners, or are sprinkled on the tops of cars like glitter. The flash of reds, oranges, and yellow catch my eye and I gasp and cheer (to myself) like it’s the Fourth of July. Around each corner a new tree shines and shimmers, “That one is my favorite,” I think, until I see the next one.

~Nap Time~

With a toddler around again, I am so thankful for nap time. Matthias is a pretty active little guy and has many demands (to say the least). It is always a relief when he lies down for his nap. It is then that I look at him and remember what a little angel and blessing he is. Then when he wakes up, we begin again.


~Bullet Journals~

I’ve already started a new book. I’m on a roll! It’s called, The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future. Doesn’t that title sound dreamy? A friend of mine lent the book to me. She already uses the Bullet Journal Method and she loves it. Years ago I thought I had tried the method and it failed. After reading the first few chapters of this book, I know now that I had gone about the method in the wrong way. I have started a new Bullet Journal and am going to try to keep it up for a month. If the system works for me, I’ll purchase a bigger journal that will take me through the year. I’m pretty excited about this method and thankful for the creator, Ryder Caroll, and this book he’s written to better explain it. Check out this website to learn more: BulletJournal.com. It’s basically the same as the book without the back story and inspiring words of advice for a more organized and more meaningful life. 

~My Mop~

I love my mop from Norwex. It's lightweight, easy to use and easy to clean. It's also expensive. As much as I don't enjoy cleaning, I have tried everything to make the task a little more palatable. Needless to say, I've purchased many different kinds of mops. This one is by far the best I've had. If you want one, do what I did. Ask your mom and sister to go in together for it and give it to you for your birthday. You won't be disappointed and it will probably make your gratitude list next year.

~Blog Photos~

I am not a photographer. I wish I was. I wish I could capture the beauty I see all around, because I'm always looking for it. I'm well aware how important images are on blogs and never having photos to post on this blog has stopped me at times from writing here at all. I've reached out to a few people to help me with this problem, namely my daughter and sister who constantly snap beautiful images. The other day I mentioned to Adam that I'd asked my sister to help me (Wendy, if you are reading this, hint, hint!!). The very next day he came home from his parent's with pictures he had taken on the drive. He took them for me. I hadn't thought to ask him. Wasn't that sweet? So, credit for the photos on this post go to him. Thank you, Adam. I love you.



Thanks for reading. Tune in next week for week 3!