December Daybook

Outside my window…it’s cold.  It’s a temporary coldness, though…by Friday, we’ll be back up to 80.  One day we’re bundled up, the next we’re back in shorts and ready for the beach.  Oh the joy of the constant flux in temperature in South Texas.

I am remembering…Christmas 3 years ago.

Mom had just returned from a long, unplanned stay at the hospital, we were dealing with water issues in our city (again) and my children were miniature versions of their current selves.  I’m still incredibly grateful for Mom’s recovery.  I’m in awe of how quickly my children have grown.  And I’m still giggling over this note left for Santa…

I am thankful for…recitals and performances that allow these budding musicians to shine.  In the past month, the children played for the local Music Club, performed in the hymn festival (and all earned gold stars) and joyfully performed Christmas carols (mostly) for family (and friends) at the Christmas recital.

I am watching…children grow.  Nature unfold.  Life through others’ eyes.  I am learning to be still.

I am wondering…how some people seriously make it look so easy.

I am hoping…if you’re local, you’ll join me next week at the Oso Preserve where I will attempt to squeeze a million amazing facts about local medicinal herbs into a one hour presentation. 

I am pondering…the upcoming Winter Solstice.

I am laughing…at this ridiculously accurate depiction of how my kids felt about their gingerbread houses.

I am planting…nothing new right now.  Just keeping the medicinal herbs I planted in the summer alive and reaping the benefits of having medicine at my fingertips in my own backyard.

I am reflecting…on this quote from Charlotte Mason…”We all have need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life.”

Around the house…beautiful decorations, twinkling lights and Advent stories to fill our souls.

I am wearing…a fluffy robe.  Because it’s actually cold enough today for one.

We are preparing for…a visit from Granny, a whole bunch of Nutcracker madness, and a Savior to be born on Christmas Day.

Someday I am going to miss…this.

I am reading…The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton for book club and a whole lot of books about Chinese medicine for my herbal studies.

One of my favorite things…the puppies over at The Puppy House.

A peek into my day

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

Chihuahua Syndrome

**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2017)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is.  Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**

You know that whole idea that little dogs that hang out with big dogs think they’re big dogs because they look at the other dogs and just assume they’re the same size?  We call that the Chihuahua Syndrome over here.  And Katie has it.

She hangs out with the boys all week long and while (luckily!) she doesn’t think she’s a boy, she does think she’s much bigger and much more capable than she is.  Case in point:  A few months ago the boys climbed up on top of the air conditioning unit and were jumping off with wild abandon.  Katie followed, thinking she was quite capable of the same dangerous feat and ended up spraining her wrist in the process.

Sometimes it works to her benefit.  She learned to swim at two, well and without fear, because her 4, 6 and 8 year old brothers were doing it.  She “does” school and eagerly “writes” letters alongside the boys.  She’s quite capable of self-care, never realizing that she’s got a two year gap between herself and the next brother.  She demands equality, telling us that she can stay up as late as the boys, she can go on that ride at the fun park.  Doggone it, she can DO whatever the boys can do.  And it’s not about gender to her.  It’s about a fuzzy view of self.

She looks at them as if it’s a mirror that reflects her while completely avoiding the fact that she is, in essence, nothing like them.  She’s her own unique little being and she’s not meant to live her life as a reflection of someone else.

One day recently we were out bike riding and I was explaining to William about Katie and her chihuahua syndrome and, while the essence of the topic completely escaped Katie’s thoughts, it did manage to kick her imagination into gear and she said to me, “I’m the baby chihuahua and you’re the mama chihuahua.”  After which she completely dissolved in a fit of giggles and “arfs.”

But her casual thought got me thinking.  “…you’re the mama chihuahua.”

It’s true.  So true.

I look at other moms and I treat them as a reflection of me and I begin to think that I must do what they do because, after all, I need to keep up with the big dogs.  I click from Pinterest project to Pinterest project and scan beautiful blogs with beautiful stories and I actually allow myself to see me reflected in them.  I meet a mom at playgroup and I see how calm and together she is and I think that’s what I should look like.  I gather with friends and I am sure that their ideas are the answer to everything wrong in my life and I must do things just as they do.  I allow myself to actually think that I must do whatever they do because, doggone it, even if it kills me, I must keep up with them.

I see the perfect cupcakes, the clean house, the adorably dressed children, the impeccable yard and I just keep trying to keep up.

But this is wrong.  All wrong.

Because I am bound to fall and sprain my wrist if I continue to try to keep up with the big dogs.

How can I possibly read that beautiful post that reflects the journey of that family and allow myself to think that perhaps my journey is meant to look just like that?  How can I see those Pinterest projects and think that doing something like that defines me as a mom?  How can I continue to fall into the comparison trap knowing that I’ll always find myself lacking?  How can I keep trying my best to be a big dog when I’m really just a little dog with my own little puppies?

I can try and try all I want but I’m NOT that mom.  I’m me.

See my little family over here.  We’re completely different than that family over there.  Our house looks different.  Our schooling looks different.  Our meals look different.  Our conversations sound different.  Our journey is different.

I am my own unique little being and I’m not meant to live my life as a reflection of someone else.

Security

We live under a false illusion that we are safe.  We put cameras on our doorbells.  Locks on our doors.  Bars on our windows.  But as my wise old man says, “All locks do is keep honest folks honest.”

It turns out that thieves sometimes manage to find a way in despite our best efforts to be safe.

We were recently returning from a few weeks in the Redwoods when we received a phone call from our security company that our alarm had been triggered.  Despite opposing reports from police and neighbors, we returned home in the middle of the night to discover that we had, in fact, been broken into.

The garage and the office were a mess.  Torn apart.  Items of value were gone.  Things were broken, carelessly tossed about in the rush to search every inch of our space.  It looked as if a whirlwind had come in through the window and left through the door leaving destruction in its wake.

We marveled at how much could be taken in such a brief period before the alarm was triggered.  We laughed at how disappointing it must have been to break into our house (we have a lot of books and Legos…not a lot of electronics or valuables…things of value to us maybe, but not to the market of thieves).  We puzzled over how they’d gotten in and how they’d chosen us.   We were surprised that someone could come into our house in the middle of the afternoon and manage to walk out with guns, a dirtbike, and so much more.

We felt angry, sad, confused, scared.

Because it was our space.  And now it wasn’t quite feeling like our space anymore.

Somehow our precious space had become a community hot-spot for a group of worthless thieves for but a moment.  It doesn’t matter how brief that moment was, though, because that intrusion has forever changed the way I see our home.

My illusion of feeling safe has been shattered.

Normally I spend the first few days after traveling processing our trip, unpacking and slowly folding ourselves back into the daily grind.  But this <inconvenience> robbed me of that transition.

Instead, the days following the break-in were annoyingly spent fixing what the thieves had broken, stolen and destroyed.  We invested hundreds of dollars in cameras and doorbells and extra security.  We closed bank accounts, rekeyed every access point, put fraud alerts on our credit reports, filled out police reports, fixed broken shelves.   We talked to neighbors with the hope that someone had seen something.  We spent far more time making reparations than what they took in destroying our home.

The reality is that at the end of the day what really matters are the ones we love.  The people in our lives.  It’s not the stuff we’ve accumulated.  It’s not the things we collect along this journey.

I know that.  I get that.  But still I feel violated.  As if my once safe haven is no longer safe or a haven.  And that’s a terrible feeling to have.

I suppose I should be thankful that we weren’t home when it happened.  That would have made a scary situation much scarier.  I should be thankful that the alarm worked as intended and scared the intruders away.  I should be glad that in the end they only got away with a small fraction of valuable things.  I should be grateful that each of my people are safe and accounted for and, that in the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be okay.

Except that I don’t feel thankful, glad, or grateful.  I feel violated.  I feel mistrusting.  I feel hurt and angry.  I imagine someday my home will once again feel like a comforting place to walk into, not a prison to lock myself into.  I know that one day I won’t be suspicious of every car that drives down my street.  I trust that one day I will feel safe and my dreams won’t reflect the fears in my heart.

But in the meantime, I walk into a store and I look into each person’s eyes that I pass and I wonder how broken they are and I wonder how desperate they’ve ever been and I wonder if they’ve ever crossed that imaginary line that exists that keeps the world relatively good.  And, of course, I can’t help but wonder if they were in my home just days ago.

I know this feeling will pass.  I know that.  And I know that the world is mostly good.  That people are mostly good.  And I know that one day I’ll look back at this without a seething anger.  But for now I’m basking in my anger.  I’ve let go of the notion of ever finding these petty criminals and I’ve accepted the idea that bad exists even in this beautiful city of mine.  I’m trying my best not to sound bitter, but it’s hard.  My view of the world through rose-colored glasses has been shattered and I’m over here trying to put those glasses back together, the best I can.  In the meantime, please take note that my doors and windows are locked and clamped, the videos are rolling and the lights are motion triggered.

**I began this post back in September immediately after the event occurred.  It’s taken me a few months to re-write it so facetious anger isn’t dripping out of every sentence.  Being a bit more removed from the event, I can say that life has gone on, as it should, but I am still haunted by the idea that safety is such a fragile feeling that can be shattered so easily.  Please be smart and cautious.  Be conscious that while we hope for a safe and sheltered life, the reality is that evil exists.  Tend to the ones you love, protect the things you’ve worked for, trust in the goodness that exists, but remember to lock your doors, turn on your alarms and be a nosy neighbor.  Samantha’s neighbor in Bewitched, Mrs. Kravitz, probably prevented many break-ins.**

 

Cardinal Days

There’s a cardinal outside my window.  I have been hearing his voice each morning for the last few days.  The incessant “pew” of his laser.  This morning I went out to spot him.  And I couldn’t.  Despite his loud red coloring, I failed to see him hidden among the leaves.

I feel like that cardinal some days.

Bright red.  Loud.  Incessantly talking.  Yet still unseen.

I always say that mothering is a hard journey.  We’re surrounded by people all day long yet we feel lonely and unseen.  But I’m beginning to think it’s more than just mothering that’s hard…it’s humaning that’s so hard.  Because despite our need to be seen and heard, we manage to hide ourselves amongst the leaves, afraid of being seen and heard.  It’s a catch 22.

And sometimes we finally summon up the courage and we put ourselves out there, with all of our vulnerability and shame as Brene Brown encourages us to do, and we’re just not noticed.  Like the female cardinal, we blend into our surroundings, overshadowed by the vibrant beings around us.

All of the business of being human and being broken is hard. The need to be seen and heard, acknowledged and loved often overpowers rational thinking.

Sometimes all we can do is get out there, sing our little hearts out and not worry so much about being noticed.

 

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

A Retreat in my Mind

You know that place that the visualization gurus tell you to find.  Your happy place.  A place where you feel completely relaxed.  A place where you can close your eyes and imagine yourself there.  A place where your hunched up shoulders relax, the tension just melts away and for one brief moment, all is right in the world.

Sometimes those gurus forget to tell you that it’s got to be a place that’s written on your heart…it’s got to be carved into your DNA so you can feel it, smell it, truly be in it.

I have a place like that.  A place I slip away to when the kids are bouncing off the walls, the checkbook is missing and the bills are waiting to be paid.  A place where I feel totally accepted and happy and stress free.  A place that I can smell and see and feel when I close my eyes.

retreat-hocking-hills-with-every-intention

It is a place carved into my heart.

It’s a retreat of my mind.

But this retreat wasn’t imagined into being.  It was once a real retreat.  A retreat where I walked barefoot and relished the native plants growing wild around me.

A retreat where the sun streamed in the windows and there was no pressure to do or to be, no expectation to meet.

A retreat where my kids’ eyes shone a little brighter with the immersion into a captivating summer world complete with jars of fireflies, bowls of freshly picked ripe black raspberries and adventures exploring a winding creek.

It was a home away from home.  Made possible by the thoughtfulness of one amazing vacation rental owner.

The details were attentive and deliberate.  We felt welcomed in as if the home had been waiting just for us to arrive.  The fluffed pillows, the soaps scented with essential oils, the throw over the back of the couch for the evenings when the sun had set and a chill settled over my feet.

The books on local flora and fauna just waiting to be looked through, the telescope aimed directly between the break in the trees so we could catch glimpses of stars far away.  It was all so incredibly thought-out, as if we were long-awaited guests not simply renters.

But it wasn’t just the property.  We were smack dab in the middle of a luscious valley that sparkled with waterfalls and blossomed with plants brought to the area many years ago by the Shawnee Indians.

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It was an adventure with medicinal flowers and edible plants and zip-lining through the tall trees.  It was quaint restaurants, long bike rides and the library of a nearby university lined with oft-coveted pre-1963 books.

It was lovely.  Absolutely lovely.

There is not a bad memory from that week.  Not a fight or an angry word.  Not a frustrated sigh or an impatient glance.  It was as if time stood still and we all remembered that kindness matters.  It was a moment to snuggle and whisper late into the summer evenings.  It was a moment to read with abandon, a moment to write with heart.  A moment to breathe.

And sometimes that’s what we need.  A moment to breathe.  A moment to re-live the happy moments.  A moment to escape our reality and find ourselves immersed in a peaceful memory.

There is value to visualization.  Value to remembering happy moments.  Value to imagining ourselves somewhere happy.  It gives us a moment to recenter ourselves.

It allows us to remember what that peace feels like and to find it again in this intentional moment.

 

 

 

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

Sometimes we get so focused on the destination that we forget to look down and see where we are RIGHT NOW (and what’s beneath our fast moving feet).  Slow down today.  Be mindful of everything around you, not just what’s ahead of you.  That’s intentional living.

glimpse-intentional-life-with-every-intention

Being intentional is easier said than done. It’s easier imagined than executed. So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words. Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional.

Be inspired. Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention. And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us? Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}.

A Letter to My Hardworking Husband (from a grateful stay-at-home mom)

**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2017)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is.  Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**

with-every-intention-hardworking-husband

Dear Hardworking Husband,

The alarm clock rings.  I barely register the sound in my subconscious.  Quietly you flip the switch and pad noiselessly into the hallway.  You sneak out under the darkness and begin your day, careful not to disturb the sleeping souls you pass on your way out.

Meanwhile, I snuggle a little deeper under the warmth of our duvet, resting my head next to a sweet baby’s cheek.  Daylight slowly creeps in.  Little feet pad into my room and crawl up in bed with me.  Tiny voices whisper sweet love songs into my ear as we snuggle and watch the rays of light dance across the bedroom floor.  I am grateful for this moment.

Out in your office, you down a few cups of coffee and hit your day head-on.  The phone rings, text messages buzz and the fax machine hums.  You, my introverted loner, plunge head first into a day full of noise and people.  Today’s equivalent of slaying dragons.  And you do it for us.

I spend the morning knee deep in mundane tasks…making the beds, cooking the breakfast, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, but unlike your day, my day is interrupted by gleeful accomplishments (the baby said “mama!”, the toddler learned to hop, the preschooler read his first word, our school age children learned a new skill), little hands pressed into mine and moments of gratitude.

You spend your day busy, staring at a computer screen, calculating numbers, running averages, estimating costs.  Or perhaps the monotony is broken up by an appointment with a client.  A meeting with co-workers.  A training session.  Even jury duty when the time comes.

It’s not all drudge for you.  You have the luxury to make it through a task without getting sidetracked.  You can make a phone call without an interruption.  You can listen to music while you work.  You can concentrate.  If you need to run an errand, you can do it without buckling anyone in or keeping anyone’s hands off of everything in the store.  You can set your own schedule, change your mind on a whim, potty without an audience.

I spend my day chasing children, cleaning up messes only to discover new ones in my wake, educating (sometimes ungrateful) bright minds, juggling four little souls with all of their idiosyncrasies.  I cook, I clean, I wash, I educate, I discipline, I love.

But if I had to choose?  Between your world and mine?

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I’d choose mine.  Time and time again.  Hands down.  No hesitation.

And you make that choice possible.  

I am grateful that I am able to stay home and witness the growth and change in these little people we created.  I am grateful that I get to experience the power of innocence and the wonder of childhood.  I am grateful that I get to fill hungry little bellies with good, home-cooked food.  I am grateful that I can stop in the middle of a moment, grab four eager little listeners and snuggle up on the couch for a good story.  I am grateful that my kids know the security and familiarity of a steady home.  That they get to continue growing and thriving alongside me, the same me that nurtured them inside my womb and brought them into this world.  I am grateful that I am the one that gets to wipe fevered brows and rub upset tummies.  I am grateful that it’s me they run to for comfort, it’s me they ask for advice, it’s me they write love letters to.

I realize that for all my gratitude, my life is nothing without you.  Without a foundation, a home has no ground on which to grow.  You make my lifestyle possible and it is because of your hard work and sacrifices that I get to stay home and count my blessings.

So thank you.  Thank you for getting up early.  For thriving in a world that tests your limits.  For responding with earnestness to the genetic call to care for and provide for your family.  For slaying dragons on our behalf.  Our kids don’t realize how incredibly lucky they are.  But I do.

I love you,

Your Stay at Home Wife