The Little Things

I’ve noticed that as my kids have gotten older, I’ve forgotten some of the little things.

I don’t mean phone numbers or where I put the keys.  

Nor do I mean specific memories or special dates (although I have been known to forget both of those).  

I mean, I literally forget the little things.  

You see, when my oldest was five, I got really good at understanding five, but then he turned six and I had to understand that.  Now he’s 11 and I’m over here trying to work out an 11 year old’s brain inside mine but I’ve forgotten about the glory of being five.

I forgot how being five is a time of great growth and development.

And how being five is as simple as fingerpaints and slick paper.

How being five is as simple as the delight of a cookie.  Or a snuggle in the middle of the day.  Or rocking to sleep in the big blue chair.

I almost forgot that being five doesn’t require running around from activity to activity…sometimes it just requires paying attention.  Listening.  Trying to understand.  

Being five and saying “Mommy, watch me,” “Mommy, let’s play together” isn’t an invitation to put it off because one of these days she won’t be five and she won’t be begging me to pay attention.  This is my chance.  Right now.  

I’m glad I was sleep deprived when I ordered school supplies this year and dumped an entire kindergarten artpack in my cart.  Because now I remember that fingerpaints at five is a serious highlight of the day.  I’m so glad this moment didn’t pass us by.

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 ; )

Stolen Words

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. 

Delighting in observation.  Taking a moment to just sit and watch.  Finding joy in the awe of a moment.  This is living with every intention.

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}. 

 

 

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Plutarch via The Charlotte Mason Plenary and Why It's My Preferred Guide

CM-Plenary-Plutarch

A few months ago I introduced you to  A Charlotte Mason Plenary and I told you about their lovely annotated version of Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1.  You, of course, took my advice and headed over there and are now walking around with Volume 1 under your belt, right?  Not to worry if you didn’t…you’ll be able to pick up a copy of their annotated volume from their website soon.  Or you can jump in on the Plenary Session for Volume 6 beginning later this summer.

In my original post about the Plenary, I also voiced my excitement over all the projects they have in the works.  Just today I saw the announcement that they’ve now released their first artist study on Vermeer.  But that’s not what’s got me excited!  I’m excited to announce that they have just released one of my now favorite CM help guides.  It is their first Plutarch guide (with another soon to follow).  This first Plutarch guide covers the Life of Publicola.

I hear the wheels grinding in your head.  You’re frantically searching your memory base for Plutarch, wondering which class you learned about him in during your schooling.  (You’re wishing this blog post was annotated like The Plenary did with Volume 1, aren’t you?)

There’s a good chance you’re coming up short in your memory bank because Plutarch isn’t someone studied regularly these days.  While Plutarch used to be considered a source which fell into “everybody’s reading” (everyone from Shakepeare to Lincoln read his works), you’ll now find his works are favored by (and sometimes only known by!) scholars and academia…and also by Charlotte Mason educators.  The study of Plutarch was scheduled into CM’s schools beginning in Form 2A (our 5th grade) and that is where most of us following CM begin our Plutarch study.

So who exactly was Plutarch?

Plutarch was a Greek biographer who is famous for writing about the lives of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  His most famous work was entitled Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans (now known simply as Plutarch’s Lives) and it contrasted the life of one Greek with the life of one Roman.  Typically his biographies were written about statesmen, generals and public figures such as Alexander the Great and Marc Antony.   If you were to read all of his Lives, you’d find yourself well versed in the basic history of all of Greece and Rome up until Plutarch’s life (despite the fact that his book was written as a biography not a history).

So why should we include Plutarch in our studies?

Charlotte Mason was all about introducing our children to the people of history and giving our students the chance to witness character formation.  Plutarch allows that.  Plutarch wrote his Lives to include both a character’s strengths as well as his weaknesses.  Plutarch doesn’t spell it out for us…he chronicles the lives of these famous men and then allows us, as readers, to make our own character assessments.  We see how the small decisions shape the future and form our character because it is often from the tiny details of life that our character emerges.  “…a man’s most brilliant actions prove nothing as to his true character, while some trifling incident, some casual remark or jest, will throw more light upon what manner of man he was than the bloodiest battle, the greatest array or armies, or the most important siege.” (from Life of Alexander)  So essentially, Plutarch is a character guide, a training in moral development.

So why a guide?  And more specifically, why the CM Plenary guide?

Charlotte Mason encouraged us as educators not to get between the child and the book.  We are meant to prepare the lessons for our children and discuss with them after their narration, but we are not meant to limit what our children learn by making connections for them or pointing out every moral moment in a story.  That’s all fine and dandy when my kids are reading something a bit less, um, difficult.  But when it comes to Plutarch, I’m a fresh slate.  I didn’t study Plutarch in school and I never read any of his works until Joseph began Plutarch this past year.  And let me tell you, (regardless of which translation you choose!) Plutarch is a bit difficult to navigate as a newcomer.  A guide is just lovely.  Not for my students so much… but FOR ME.  I am ashamed to admit it (although I know I am not alone in saying this) but without a guide, I probably would have quit Plutarch in the beginning…I just don’t have the background or the experience or even the practice of reading works like this to guide a conversation with my child.  I needed help so I could succeed!

Enter the CM Plenary’s Plutarch Study Guide.  Help at its finest.  {Insert a sigh of relief here}

**Please note, we did one round of Publicola using Anne White’s guide which was nice, but then we went through Publicola’s life again using the Plenary guide and Joseph and I both agreed that the Plenary’s guide is definitely our preferred guide!  My goal here isn’t to compare and contrast…rather, I’d like to explain why I’m a Plenary Plutarch customer from here on out**

The Plenary has included all kinds of useful tools…from vocabulary definitions to discussion questions to annotated notes.  I appreciate that the vocabulary, notes and discussion questions are all in a sidebar, alongside the Plutarch text…no flipping back and forth to look up words or find side notes.  At the beginning of the guide, there’s a Who’s Who page…very convenient for reference.  The guide includes pronunciations of some of the names which is super handy so I don’t either a) butcher the name or b) have to grab my phone to look up the pronunciation. And the discussion questions proved to be discussion worthy; they didn’t simply ask for information recall, but rather gave Joseph and I thoughts to ponder and discuss.  There’s also an appendix with relevant information included.

The first lesson in the guide does an incredible job of giving us background information on Publicola, something we definitely lacked using the other guide.  There was quite a bit going on that Plutarch assumed his reader knew (which naturally, I did not).  The Plenary’s introduction lesson was vital in helping Joseph and I understand and appreciate Publicola’s story.

The Plenary has also offered an incredible wealth of information on their Publicola help page which Joseph likes to browse through in his free time…some of the links they’ve included have really given us some insight into life during Publicola’s time giving us a more complete picture and while they certainly don’t replace the lesson (we don’t even use our lesson time to browse through the links), they definitely augment what we read during our lesson.

One thing that sets the Plenary’s guide apart from most other Plutarch helps is that they chose to use the translation by George Long and Aubrey Stewart.  This may not seem like a big deal to those of us who barely know Plutarch to begin with, but it is important in our studies.  Long and Stewart translated it directly from Greek whereas the popular North translation was first translated into French by Amyot and then later North translated it into English so it’s a translation of a translation.  Personally, I always like a first translation…it keeps what I’m reading closer to the original.  North is a popular translation because Shakespeare himself used North’s translation in some of his plays.  The Plenary plans to annotate the passages and quotes Shakespeare used with North’s translation so you won’t lose out on Shakespeare’s references.

There’s a reason I personally really like Long and Stewart’s translation over North’s.  It’s easier.  Yep, I said it.  We went through Publicola using Anne White’s guide first (she uses mostly North’s translation with a little of Dryden’s translation) and there was a lot of me reading and then retelling it to Joseph to give him a clear picture.  He was getting lost in the language and he wasn’t retaining nearly as much as I would have liked between lessons.  With Long and Stewart’s translation, I can read it to him directly from the text, and while it’s challenging and complex, Joseph gets it and he retains it.  I find North’s translation more difficult to read than Shakespeare (and that’s saying something, right?!)…I relied heavily on Anne White’s guide and her summaries to explain what I was reading; with the Plenary’s guide, they are literally guiding me to get the most out of the text.  Anne White even had to include “introductions” to each lesson where she recapped the last lesson…those summaries were important in helping Joseph and I journey through the text…we don’t need an introduction or a recap of the last lesson with the Plenary’s guide because Joseph understands the text so much more and he’s able to recap on his own.  While I value reading complex language and challenging texts, I’d much rather read and understand a different translation than choose a translation that we spend our time struggling with and gain nothing from.

Another thing that The Plenary’s guide offers that Joseph and I loved was the Epilogue.  For Publicola, they wove Publicola into American History by connecting the Federalist Papers and the pen name Alexander Hamilton used to Publicola.  I just can’t tell you anymore because the history is fascinating and you absolutely must read the epilogue yourself.  It was a satisfying ending to our study on our first Plutarch life.

And finally, I haven’t seen them in person yet but it looks like they’re going to release a picture study to go with the Publicola study soon.  (Hang on, I’ve got to go add that to my wish list for the fall.)

All that being said, I’m surprised you’re still here and not over there checking it out.

Here’s hoping your Plutarch studies are character building and full of virtue training and that you allow yourself the gift of The Plenary’s guide…you’ll be glad they’re holding your hand as you venture forth.

 

The Tale of a Little Ballerina

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was surrounded by a world of blue and toy guns and boys.  All day long she dreamed of pink and tutus and dancing.  She watched ballerinas with wonder in her eyes and dreamed of the day she could dance across a stage just like them.

Then one day she turned 4 and her mommy asked her if she wanted to go to dance class.  The little girl remembered all the stories that inspired her: Angelina Ballerina and Fancy Nancy and Anna Pavlova’s book I Dreamed I was a Ballerina and the little girl was delighted that her day had finally come.

She picked out her pink tights and her pink ballet shoes and her black leotard and that little girl practiced and practiced…long before she even set foot in a classroom.

Then classes began.  And the little girl marveled at the idea that there were other little girls….just.like.her.  Little girls that loved fancy and pink and tulle.

The little girl fell in love with her teachers.  She watched with awe as they danced with grace and poise and the little girl wished to be just like them.  She hung on their every word and basked in their praise.

The little girl practiced her ballet often.  She enticed her brothers into practicing with her with the promise of stickers and praise.  She went to class twice a week, with enthusiasm and excitement that never wavered.

She sat rooted in place, her heart full and her imagination fueled, when she went to the ballet productions put on in the city.  She cheered and clapped when one of her teachers took the starring role in Giselle.  She dreamed that one day she would dance across that big stage under the bright lights.

She continued to practice.  She dressed up her plain black leotard for class with as much fluff as she could…leg warmers and tulle skirts, bun covers and sparkly hairpins.  Then her costumes for the recital arrived and the little girl oohed and ahhed over the beautiful fabric and the yards of tulle.  Her costumes were hung on a fan in the school room to allow the layers of tulle to settle and every day she waltzed under those costumes, dreaming of her day.

Finally, her day arrived.  The day she would dance on the big stage, under the bright lights.  Of course, her first experience would be a rehearsal but it all felt so real because everything had to be exactly as it would be on the night of the official performance.

The little girl sat still while her mommy put on make-up.  Just a little to offset the harsh lights on the stage.  A little blush, a little mascara, some eye shadow and lipstick.  Concealer was applied to the scrape below her nose where just a few days before she had taken a nose dive off of her bike.  Her hair was swept up into a bun.  She looked adorably perfect.

She arrived early to the theater, surprised that she got to enter through the door for performers.  It was real.  Soon she would be performing!  She went upstairs into the dressing room and joined the other girls, big and small, as they all put on their costumes.  New pink tights, worn ballet shoes and her beautiful new costume.  She was ready.

Soon it was her turn.  She joined her classmates and walked up on the stage.  It was dark and each little girl tiptoed their way to their starting mark.  The lights flashed on and the music began and that little girl danced her sweet little heart out.

The little girl had to wait for her turn to come again so she could dance with her second class.  While she waited, she found her friends (the ones who also loved fancy and tulle and sparkles) and posed for photos. 

She returned to the dressing room ready to dance again.  While she prepared, she watched the big girls get ready.  They put on their costumes and applied their makeup and when the little girl worked up the courage to tell them how beautiful they were, they adorned her with compliments of their own and the little girl basked in their attention.

The little girl soon joined her second class and they watched a group of the big girls dance.  The little girl watched in awe as they twirled and spun and her eyes lit up with the idea that she could be just like them. 

It was her turn again and she went up on that big stage under the bright lights and she danced with a joyful heart.  She felt special and important and most of all, she felt she was really a dancer.  Just like the big girls.  

After her rehearsals were over, the little girl returned home to anxiously await the night of her official recital.  She hummed and danced wherever she went.  She counted down the minutes until she would dance on the big stage again.

The night of her recital arrived.  The little girl was proud to show her family how much progress she had made.  Finally, they too would know that she was a dancer. 

She gathered with her friends (the ones that love fancy and fluffy and sparkles) and when their turn came, they danced a beautiful dance.  

And when she was finished dancing, the audience clapped and cheered and the little girl knew that she had done well.  She was proud of her hard work.  Her daddy brought her flowers and she knew she was special.  She was a dancer.  

{And this is only the beginning of her story…more dancing is yet to come}

*please note that the videos are taken by an amateur…clearly they don’t do justice to the beauty that took place on the big stage under the bright lights

Spring Daybook

In my backyard…we have had some beautiful visitors…

I am remembering…how lovely the boys played at the Performing Arts Center in March and then a month later in their year-end final recital.  We are so very thankful for such a beautiful year of growth.

I am grateful for...kids who love nature.  

I am in love…with nature this spring.  So many wildflowers.  So many birds.  So many things I have never noticed.  I am so thankful for our Charlotte Mason way of life.  

I am watchingHomeland, Season 2 and getting a little freaked out by the whole idea that an unknown terrorist could somehow deceive the people and find himself elected and in a position to kill ideas.

I am listening… to Velva Jean Learns to Drive.

I am laughing…at this.  And I am thankful that a box, some wood and some old wheels make these kids this happy.  

I am reflecting…on this from a fortune cookie, thinking of how often I doubt myself, how often I lack trust in my decisions.  Maybe this is the Universe’s way of reminding me that I have an internal barometer that I should tune into more often.

In the schoolroom…we’re wrapping up our year.  Just another few weeks to go and then we’ll take a few weeks off to gather our thoughts and prepare for a new year of adventure.

I am a little sad…to think that this kid is growing up.  He’ll turn 11 next month.  This past week he went with his Youth Odyssey group on a kayaking trip.  The seven kids that showed up for the trip are my new heroes…the winds that day were on average 22 mph with gusts up to 34 mph.  That kind of wind requires serious rowing.  I would have been worn out…they came back still smiling and delighted with their accomplishment.  

Around the house…the laundry is waiting.  Lunch needs to be made.  But I am stealing this moment for this blog.  Because I wish I could bottle up all these moments to remember them later on…blogging is the closest I can get.

In the kitchen…fresh blueberries are washed and patiently waiting to be baked into a pie courtesy of Andrew.

I am wearing…an amazing new bracelet.  (How did I get so lucky to have such an awesome friend who not only teaches me so much about natural living but also makes some pretty darn cool things!)

We are preparing for…Katie’s ballet recital.  {sigh}

Someday I am going to miss…this look.  It’s a pretty standard face to make when Pappy measures them on his wall of measurements.  It’s the “if I suck it in and make my eyes super big then I’ll gain height”…a flawed but cute theory.  I love that there is an entire wall that documents the growth of all of these babies over the year.  

One of my favorite things…this kid.

A peek into my day…an utter failure at a family self-portrait…one kid walked out of the frame, the dog was distracted by a fly and not realizing I had set the camera for 10 quick shots, I began to panic wondering if the camera secretly had a plan of its own.  10 shots and not a single good one.  

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

 

 

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{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.

Driftwood Coffee: Drinking Coffee with Intention

Coffee.  It’s a morning ritual for so many people.  It’s dark and deep and mysteriously bitter yet surprisingly delicious.  Maybe the ritual is about the smell.  Or maybe it’s about the taste.  Or maybe it’s about the routine.  Or honestly, maybe it’s just about the glorious caffeine.

But what if you could make it about more than any of those things?

What if your morning coffee experience could be an intentional moment?  A moment to stop and savor.  A moment to prepare for what lies ahead.  So many of us grab a cup o’ joe and hit the ground running.  There’s no sipping, no savoring.  It’s all a rush.

But that coffee that you’re sipping?  It has a history, an origin.  It doesn’t just appear in your cup.  There’s a process to it and as with all art, it deserves more than a cursory glance (or in this case, sip).  But it’s hard to adjust our minds to be intentional about something that we’ve taken for granted for so many long years.  So maybe it’s time to re-examine the coffee that fills your cup, your belly and your energy level every morning.

Start local.  Find a company that consciously chooses their coffee bean, based on things like ethical farming and country of origin. {Remember: Allow your spending to be intentional!} Then let that local company roast that bean to pure perfection.  Buy it fresh.  Then use delicious pure, filtered water and pour your cup immediately.

Now sit and savor.

Here in Corpus Christi, we have a local company that does just that.  Driftwood Coffee Company, a locally owned and operated coffee roasting company began as a hobby but it quickly grew into a dream of bringing ethically harvested coffee to the local community.  Over the years, Driftwood Coffee Company has grown and expanded but it has never lost its original intent.

Randi and Steven first began roasting their own coffee beans in 2009 when a friend shared his hobby with them.  A popcorn popper, some online green beans and Steven found himself falling in love with the science and the art of coffee bean roasting.  Randi fell in love with the idea that she could choose where to get her coffee beans from and by doing so, she developed an appreciation for its origins.  She researched farm after farm looking for real folks ethically raising beans and supporting causes that she believes in (such as Women’s Coffee Alliance).  And she found them.

After a few years of roasting beans for themselves, Steven and Randi spent a year away from home doing missionary work and while they were gone, they found themselves missing the familiar routine of roasting beans and then savoring a cup of freshly made coffee every morning (they served in central Asia where fresh coffee was hard to access and a rare treat).  When they returned home in 2013, Steven quickly picked back up his hobby.  Soon Steven and Randi began to see a vision for something beyond a hobby.  They wanted to share delicious, ethically raised, perfectly roasted beans with local folks so with a leap of faith, they bought a real roaster, converted some personal space into a roasting area and began marketing to local coffee shops and coffee drinkers.

Now four years later their specialty beans can be found in seven local shops and stores (including places like Coffee Barrel, a non-profit cafe where all profits go to providing restoration for victims of human trafficking) and their website hosts an online shopping experience where you can have their beans shipped directly to your door or you can read their blog and learn all kinds of fascinating facts you’ll be glad you now know (and your coffee drinking experience will surely be enriched by this newfound knowledge).

Randi and Steven are a beautiful testimony to allowing intentionality to seep into life.  Despite the chaos of being parents, working full-time jobs and volunteering with their church, they still manage to find time to sit down first thing in the morning with a cup of freshly made coffee, made from beans they have lovingly roasted to perfection and intentionally savor the moment.

Couldn’t we all benefit from a little more sipping and savoring?

 *Start sipping coffee intentionally today.  Allow Driftwood Coffee Co to introduce you to some amazing beans…you won’t be able to help being intentional when you taste that goodness in your cup!  If you’re local, head over to one of the shops that features Driftwood Coffee’s amazing coffee or you can order on their website and have it shipped directly to your door.

**Photos are courtesy of Taren Martin Photography**

 

A Tea Party

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Katie met a kindred spirit, Eliza, at ballet a few months ago.  Fancy Nancy was the common factor (along with a love of pink and all things fancy and dancing, of course).  Katie began dreaming of celebrating their mutual love of Fancy Nancy with a fancy tea party from the moment she found out their mutual interests.

Then a few weeks ago Eliza came to ballet and announced that she was moving.  Katie was crushed.  She rushed out of class to tell me that she absolutely had to invite Eliza over right away for tea.  Eliza’s dad gave me her mom’s number and we began texting trying to work out a date to get the girls together for a tea party.  After a few weeks of scheduling and postponing and rescheduling {repeatedly} (all on my part as we’ve had a lingering cold virus hanging around), Katie finally got to celebrate their fancy friendship with a wind-blown Fancy Nancy picnic.

(Originally it was planned as a tea party, but upon cleaning out the cupboards, Katie discovered my fancy picnic basket from my college days of nature trekking and the tea party morphed into a fancy tea party picnic.)   So a few Mondays ago, we packed the picnic up and all of our fancy clothes and then we headed over to orchestra lessons.  As the picnic would be on that same side of town, we avoided trekking back across town by readying ourselves while waiting for the boys to finish their lessons.  Katie was rather pleased as I let her pick out eyeshadow and lipgloss to wear.   A freak cold-front blew in right before the tea party picnic but all of the picnic attendees were good sports.  William and Joseph insisted on bringing their instruments to play music for us (although as soon as the food came out I noticed the music disappeared!).  Katie planned the menu with brownies and pirouette cookies and lemon wafers along with sandwiches (cucumber for the more refined tea partier and peanut butter for the rest of ’em), a fruit bowl and refreshing liquids, of course, which included raspberry tea and lemonade.  It was a beautiful picnic despite the wind and overcast sky.

The actual picnicking was followed by a rather odd game of duck-duck-goose (clearly, I need to make an effort to teach the actual rules).  It started off normal enough.  Duck-duck-duck-duck-duck-goose.  But then the goose would chase “it” on a serious wild goose chase…not around the circle as it’s meant to be done.  The best part was that as soon as “it” and the goose took off, all the rest of the kids followed with wild laughter filling the air.  It was a rollicking good time and entertaining to watch.

I’d be cheating the lovely afternoon out of my favorite part if I didn’t include here the fact that it wasn’t just Katie that met a kindred spirit…Eliza’s mom, Amy, and I discovered over the course of scheduling and rescheduling that we too share a love for many things (including fancy tea parties and Downton Abbey, blogging and children’s literature).  It’s terribly sad to meet a kindred spirit only to have them whisked away.  Of course I have to remember Anne Shirley’s wisdom when she said, “Remember, true friends are always together in spirit.”  So despite the fact that Eliza and Amy (and sweet little Jed) have up and moved, Katie and I are already delighting in the idea of a reunion to celebrate all things fancy sometime again soon with such dear, kindred spirits.