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.**

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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

 

Nature Study: Old Man’s Beard

It’s hot these days in South Texas.  Really, really hot.  But waiting for perfect nature study weather is nothing more than a perfect excuse to stay indoors.  And I can’t stand being stuck indoors.  So we load ourselves up with tons of water, our favorite nature journaling supplies and off we go.

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We were out at Hilltop recently and I noticed the seeds on the Old Man’s Beard were maturing and leaving behind long feathery plumes.  With some flowers still in bloom and some with feathery plumes, it seemed like an ideal time for an object lesson so off we went (with friends in tow) to study Clematis Drummondii up close and personal.

{An object lesson, part of Charlotte Mason’s nature study philosophy, is a perfect opportunity to allow our children to become more observant.  We call upon them to carefully observe and examine an object using their five senses.  Object lessons should appear to be by-the-way, somewhat spontaneous discoveries where we are out and about and come across something fascinating.  Considering the fact that I am not well-versed in nature study and I am learning alongside my children, I tend to keep an eye out when we’re on a nature walk for items that I can use in our next lesson and then I prepare my object lesson before we head out.  I aim for one object lesson a week so my kids have time to absorb what they learned and to notice it in future nature walks.  I do require them to make a drawing and write down a few notable facts in their nature journals to help cement the object in their minds.  You can read more about object lessons here and here.}

Clematis Drummondii, also known as Old Man’s Beard or Texas Virgin’s Bower, is a vine in the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family.  To identify a flower as being a part of the Buttercup family, look for multiple simple pistils at the center of the flower.  You’ll also find that the pistils have hooked tips.  Clematis is a word from ancient Greek meaning “climbing plant.”  It can grow as a shrub but is most often seen as a climbing vine.

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The variation of Clematis that we have growing around here, in abundance, carries the name Clematis Drummondii in honor of the Scottish botanist Thomas Drummond who was an early plant explorer in Texas.

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Old Man’s Beard is a dioecious plant meaning the male and female parts grow on separate plants.  The flowers have four petal-like sepals that sport a light greenish-yellow, almost white, color.  The stamens on the male flowers are clearly visible whereas the female flowers grow more upright like pineapples.  Also, upon comparison, the male flowers appear larger than the female flowers.  The flowers bloom sometime between April and October and when the seeds on the female plants mature, the vine will appear to be covered with great masses of silky, feathery plumes.  The plumes are actually referred to achenes (covered seeds).  The achenes will last until December.

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While Clematis Drummondii is a climbing vine, there are no tendrils.  The leaves serve as hooks for climbing.  The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound and deciduous, with the blade divided into 3 to 7 stalked leaflets.  The plant itself is a perennial that thrives in full sun (just in case you want a fence climber in your backyard).

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The sap of the plant is caustic so while the foliage, stems and roots can be used for dye, they should be used with extreme caution.

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Clematis drummondii is host to the fatal metalmark butterfly.  The fatal metalmark butterfly is a common, tiny little butterfly.  It uses the vine as a larval host and as a nectar source.

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{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

A Wish Come True

William once said that he couldn’t decide what he loves more…camping or being in Austin with my parents.  “If only I could combine the two,” he sadly lamented one day.

William is the kid that thrives in the great outdoors, away from the stress of everyday life.  He lives for exploring and hiking and whittling sticks.  He craves the freedom of being outdoors.  His whole face lights up when we announce we’re going camping (he once vomited on the morning we were leaving to camp and tried not to tell us so we wouldn’t cancel the trip…we found out and naively did not cancel the trip but that’s a whole different story).

He’s also the kid that relishes early mornings with Pappy where he can ask a million questions and he has someone’s undivided attention.  He loves popping up early and sneaking downstairs in my parent’s house where he knows there’s a cup of coffee waiting for him along with someone who shares all of his interests (he once asked if Pappy was coming to a birthday party we were hosting so he’d have someone to hang out with).

He loves Granny and all that entails…sweet snuggles, silly songs, and games galore.  He craves her attention and loves that she shows an interest in what he’s interested in.  He’s the kid that loves making people happy and he sees a kindred spirit in Granny…she loves making people happy, too.

So to combine the two – camping and my parents – well that would just make this kid’s dreams come true.  (And throw in their little dogs and Auntie Leslie, Uncle Dustin and Alex and well, it couldn’t possibly get any better.)

Mom and Dad recently bought a pull-along camper (which is giving us all flashbacks to the ’80s and the camper we had then), outfitted the whole thing (fancier than my house), and then invited us to meet them for a week of camping in the Lost Pines at Bastrop.  William couldn’t believe his luck.

He popped up early and dragged a brother alongside him each morning we were there so he could enjoy a cup of coffee with Pappy.  He spent the days roaming the woods and exploring with stops throughout to chat with Granny or play a game of Mancala with her.

He convinced Pappy to bake a cake with him (using the recipe they created) and he gladly accepted (on behalf of his siblings) an invitation for movie night in the camper (buttery popcorn included).

It really is the simple little things that we do today that create the memories that we’ll be reflecting on for many years to come. 

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the week of memories you created with us ♥

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

We live in an incredibly noisy world.  Stop.  Focus.  Seek out the noise that brings joy to your heart and ignore all the rest.

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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}.

Stolen Words

I’m not big on posting the same thing in two places, but considering the fact that my post was actually snagged off of this blog, I’m re-posting my thoughts here.

Recently I discovered that one of my blog posts had been copied onto someone else’s website.  Literally, just copied and pasted, photos and all.  When I discovered it, by a random fluke, I felt rather violated…and annoyed.  It felt like high school all over again.

{*the names have all been changed in this story to protect the innocent and the accused*}

Back then, before the days of blogging and social media, I wrote poetry…you know, with a pencil and paper.  Every now and then I’d get all fancy and type it up on the computer and decorate it with clip art.  Clearly I thought I had been gifted with Kvasir’s blood as I had the tendency to express my thoughts and then share those writings with others as if I possessed all wisdom and empathy.  I thought I had a gift and it was my duty to share it.

One day I walked into my 9th grade Literature class and everyone was hovering around my friend Amelia.  I joined the group and nudged the girl next to me, “What’s going on?” I whispered.

“Oh, it’s Amelia.  Remember how Luke broke up with her?  Well he wrote her this incredibly sweet and romantic poem to tell her how much he has missed her and she’s considering taking him back.”

I leaned further in.  Everyone was reading over Amelia’s shoulder and oohing and ahhing.  I started to read it and was swept away by his emotion.

Until I realized.

That wasn’t his emotion.  That was mine.

Amelia looked up and caught my eye.  (I’ve never been good at hiding my feelings so the shock must have been written all over me).  “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Where’d you get that poem?”  I managed.

“Luke wrote it for me.  Isn’t it incredibly sweet?”

“No, it’s incredibly deceitful.”

Shocked gasps from all around.

“I wrote that,”  I said.

More shocked gasps.

“But I don’t understand how he got his hands on it,” I added, “the only person I’ve ever showed it to was Nikki.”  In a moment of heartfelt empathy, I had shared a poem with Nikki expressing my loss over a recent breakup I had just gone through to help her feel…I don’t know…solidarity.  Compassion.  Understanding.

Amelia stood up and marched right out the door.  We followed.  She approached Luke with her typical Amelia attitude and demanded to know where he got the poem.  He stuttered that he’d written it to show his devotion and love for her.  She called him a liar.  She told him she knew he hadn’t written it.  Finally he caved.  “Nikki wrote it.  She gave me a copy of it and told me I could use it to win you back.  I had the best of intentions.”

Amelia crumpled the paper and threw it in his face.  “Those aren’t even her words.  She stole them before she pawned them off on you.  I couldn’t possibly get back with someone who keeps company like that.”  And off she stormed.

It sounds a bit like a soap opera, I know.  But that’s how it happened and for 14 years I didn’t show a word of my writing to another soul, afraid my thoughts might be paraded around carelessly or stolen by some undeserving person.  I stuffed all of my old poems in a binder and shoved them in the back of my closet.  I kept journals but destroyed most of them.  I wrote poems but crumpled them up and threw them out.  I penned long letters and can only assume that those have found themselves buried deep within some landfill.

14 years passed and I forgot about the incident.  The stolen poem.  MY stolen words.  I had my first two babies.  Facebook launched.  Blogging took the world of stay-at-home moms by storm.  Suddenly there was a platform for writing that gave anyone who had something to say an instant audience.

At first I stood back.  I signed up for a Facebook account but couldn’t quite bring myself to update my status often.  But the longer I stayed home with my kids, the more I felt a need to communicate, even if only through written word, with the larger world (namely, adults).

So in January of 2010, I finally launched a blog.  In the beginning, I mostly kept my blogs family focused.  I monitored what I said.  I didn’t give much of an opinion or broach controversial topics.  I told myself it was just an online scrapbook…a way to keep track of all the events happening in my kids’ lives without having to dedicate hours to hand writing journals or piecing together scrapbooks.

The years passed and I kept up with my blog sporadically.  I had two more babies.  Some months I wrote often, some times months passed before I wrote.  It was my space to do with as I pleased.  I started writing for Corpus Christi Moms Blog and I found that I had an opinion about some things and I enjoyed expressing that opinion so I started a second blog that was meant to be a more professional platform (the opportunities seemed endless if I ever found time to dedicate myself passionately to writing).

And then it happened.  My blog was pilfered.  Which ironically came during a dark night of writing.  I had depleted myself in so many emotional ways this past year and my blog took the brunt of my exhaustion.  Then to have my hard work stolen so someone else could make money?  I felt defeated.  What was the point of writing if someone could so easily lift my words?  So I used that as my excuse to stop blogging altogether.

And so I have stopped writing and posting.

But now I just can’t.  I miss it.  I may not be the same girl with stars in her eyes who wrote poetry while pretending to take notes in class, but I am still the same girl with a whole lot to say and a whole lot of emotion bubbling beneath my surface.  I have grown in lots of ways as the years have passed and my writing has morphed along with me, leaving behind the notion of having drunk Kvasir’s blood…I know I do not possess all wisdom, nor do my words affect all that read them.  But sometimes they do.  And even when they don’t, they affect me…they help me process my world.

So I’m getting back in the saddle, so to speak.  I’m not waiting another 14 years nor am I reverting back to my pen and pencil.  I’m just here, in this cyber spot, putting my emotions into words.  I wrote them.  And I hope you find joy or comfort or compassion in them.  I hope they speak the words you want to say, but my words and my photos are all copyright protected, so please don’t just take them.  If you’d like to borrow them, please seek permission and acknowledge me as the author.  It’s a small price to pay for admittance into my head ; )

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

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.

It’s all too easy to stay inside until the rain is over.  Next time, step outside and don’t be afraid to get a little wet.  You never know what you will find.

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}.