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 ♥

February Daybook

Outside my window…it is beautiful.  Spring is in the air.  It may be cloudy outside today, but sunny days are soon to come.

I am remembering…those chubby little arms and cheeks, that chipped front tooth, those golden curls and I am wondering why it all passes by so quickly.

I am thankful for…remembering I grew edible flowers for a reason.  It makes me happy to look down at my food and be greeted with the cheeriness of spring.

 

I am watching…for snakes everywhere I step.  Last year I had a run-in with a rattlesnake while we were at Big Bend and I swore I never wanted to repeat that.  Yet I have…I almost stepped on one again.  We went out to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge last week to see if we could spot some Whooping Cranes.  No luck with cranes.  Plenty of alligators (too close for comfort), a rattlesnake and a couple of tick bites later and I’m not sure spotting a crane would have been worth it.  Oh who am I kidding?  It totally would have been worth it.

I naively thought that this little guy that we saw from the “Alligator Viewing” bridge was the only one in the park. Far from it. He’s got plenty of friends out there.

Here are two of the five we saw on our hike along Heron Flats Trail. It was a good day for reptiles to sun themselves apparently.

My lethal friend…he and I are both glad I didn’t take one step to the right. And I really never want to see a snake hissing at me in such close range again. Ever.

He clearly wasn’t a fan of me either…or the crowd I attracted with my proclamation of “ooh!  ooh!  ooh!” He hightailed it into the bushes.

I am wondering…why I can’t seem to remember that not everyone asks for my help.  Not everything is my problem.  I need to repeat that many, many times (and hope it sticks).

I am hoping…to get started on my new herbal course soon.  It’s sitting there taunting me with its sheer volume.

I am pondering…the question Mary Oliver asked in her poem The Summer Day (“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?“) and soaking up the interesting thoughts from this author of Everyone forgets about Mary Oliver’s Grasshopper.

I am laughing…because I’m not sure Choo-Chi realized what he was in for when he jumped up on that trampoline.

I am planting…seeds from Strictly Medicinal again.  This time we’re attempting their Hoedown Seed Collection.  Hoping I remember to water them.

I am reflecting…on some of Mary Oliver’s poetry.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read poetry and connected with it.  It’s been an even longer time since I’ve read poetry and felt inspired to write some of my own.  Her work is so beautiful…it’s like she knows what’s in my heart.

In the schoolroom…we just entered our third and final term of the year.  I’ve completed a consultation with the ladies at A Delectable Education and have already begun browsing used book shelves in search of next year’s books.  It has been a beautiful and fruitful year.  Next year will be bursting with even more goodness…Katie will officially join us in our studies.

Around the house…I “Marie Kondo”ed the baby clothes…all that beautiful empty space.  I’ve now managed to fill it with books that we aren’t currently using.  The emptiness was lovely while it lasted.

I am wearing…black pants and this flowy sheer top that has a lime green camisole sewn into it.  Very much not my style but sometimes random hand-me-downs are a surprisingly good excuse to stretch my boundaries.

We are preparing for…spring.  Glorious warm days.  Sunny days.  Blooming flowers, sprouting weeds, chirping birds.  And mosquitoes…oh how I dread the mosquitoes.

Someday I am going to miss…bike riding with these little people.

I am readingThe Road Back to You, still trying to figure out which enneagram number I am, a little afraid that I fit so many profiles that I’m clearly a new, undiscovered number.  

One of my favorite things…camping, camping, camping.  If it were up to me, I’d camp my entire life.  I’d need some kind of laundry solution because not doing laundry is my usual camping laundry plan (and running out of underwear is usually the reason I go home) and I think I’d need to consider training my kids to be chiropractors because I think eventually that air mattress would do my back in, but other than that, I’d happily spend my life driving and camping.

A peek into my day…(leaving my phone unattended is never a good idea)

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

Nature Study: Henbit

This little plant is one of my favorites.  Last year it, alone, managed to pull me out of a dark winter funk.  It’s peppery and spinachy and purple and pretty and all of those things make me happy (well with the exception of spinachy…I have a loathing attitude toward all dark greens).

Henbit (Lamium ampelxicaule) is in the mint family.  Plants in the mint family are easy to recognize with their square, hollow stems, opposite leaves and usually aromatic leaves (think of plants like {obviously} the mints, but also basil, lavender, sage, and thyme).  Just roll that little stem between your fingers and you’ll feel how it doesn’t roll…because being square it has no round edges.  There are some plants with square stems that don’t fall in the mint family, but smelling the leaf will give you another clue.  Crush a leaf between your fingers and chances are, if it’s in the mint family, you’ll be rewarded with a delightful smell.

Henbit in its entirety

The best thing about henbit is that it is literally growing all over our city, most likely right outside your front door (and if it’s not in your yard, check your neighbors’ yards).  This makes it a no-excuse nature study plant since you don’t have far to go to see it.  It begins growing in the fall, goes dormant under the snow (or in cities like ours with beautiful, sunny winters, it just keeps growing) and then finishes up right around the time when spring begins.  Seeing henbit last year after a long, cold and gloomy winter let me breathe a sigh of deep relief knowing spring was on its way.

Henbit, just as the flowers are beginning to appear

My kids LOVE finding henbit.  Aside from its square stems (green when young, reddish-purple as it ages), it is easy to identify with its scalloped round leaves that grow in a rosette and its pretty little tubular flowers (the flowers, when open, remind me of a miniature orchid).  We all especially love finding it when it’s in our untreated yard…the entire plant is edible.  We nibble on it raw, but it can be cooked or used in a tea. You can toss it in smoothies or even make a pesto with it.

While it could be confused with purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), both have edible leaves (although you should wait to harvest deadnettle until it flowers so you can be sure you’ve properly identified it as it looks very similar to many plants early on, some of which are poisonous, and deadnettle should not be used when pregnant!).  Personally, I think the deadnettle leaves look very different from henbit, but at a glance, there are definite similarities between the two.  (Deadnettle is really only found in East Texas…I’ve never seen any growing in this area.)

Beware of creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) as you first learn to identify henbit.  When it is young, it has leaves that are similar in shape to henbit.  Creeping buttercup will produce yellow flowers and will look quite different from henbit as it matures, but it’s still one to learn and be mindful of.

Henbit with budding flowers

Pop out in your neighborhood and see if you can find any henbit growing around you.  Come back and share with me what you’ve found!

{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 Glorious New Year Awaits

Yesterday was New Year’s Eve.  I had planned to sit down and reflect on the year that was and the year that is to come.  Instead I spent the day on the couch shielding my eyes from light and trying to block out the noise of my rambunctious children while I nursed myself back to health from an annoying virus.

I thought about the day.  It had been awful…not just because I felt miserable but because I let my misery drive my actions.  I had barked at my kids, shooed them away, and tried my best to ignore them.

Some days are like that.  There are good days and bad days and days in between.  There are days we reflect on as we lay in bed at night and wish we had done everything differently; there are days we look back upon with joy and gratitude; there are days that thankfully end when our heads hit the pillows; there are days that drag into the next.  There are wasted days and thoughtfully spent days.  Joyful days and sorrowful days.

Years can be that way, too.

Some years are amazing; some are rough.  Some start out rough and end beautifully.  Some years we claim to be our best ever while other years passed by uneventfully marked, but no less lived.

But the beauty is that just as each new day offers a new beginning, so does a new year. The new year brings us each a gift…a book with our name on the cover, followed by 365 pages.  365 blank pages just waiting to be filled by the way we choose to live.  365 opportunities.  365 pages just waiting to be written.

Some days, some years, they just seem less intentional.  Begun without a clear direction of where we’re headed.

I’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions but I do love the idea of living with intention.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

When we choose to live with intention, we open up a whole new world to ourselves.  No longer do we get to the end of our days wondering where those 24 hours went or look back at the month and rack our brains wondering what we did this month.  When we live with intention, we live in this moment, with purpose.  And living with intention, at its simplest, is being an active participant in our own lives.

It’s about this moment right now and how this moment will set the path for our future days.  While the past tends to influence us, it doesn’t dictate a path for us, so don’t waste time wallowing.  We are only promised this moment right now and when we live it with intention, that intention helps us stay the path that we so desperately want our lives to follow.   Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s about purpose for all things yet to come.  All 365 days yet unlived.

It’s January 1st.  I’ve managed to do the dishes, wash the clothes and take a nap.  I still feel miserable.  This certainly isn’t how I wanted to write the first day of 2019, but there’s still something intentional about using this time wisely, both to heal and to think.  I don’t want 2019 to be the year remembered for the shows I watched or the Facebook feed I scrolled through.  I don’t want to wake up this time next year and wonder where my 365 opportunities disappeared to.  I want this year to be remembered for the intentional moments.  The moments I lived with purpose.  What are your intentions for 2019?

Here’s to 2018: May It Be Filled with Extra-Ordinary Moments

There are moments that stick with us forever.  Fleeting glimpses of what really matters.  And then, of course, there are the moments in between those prophetic moments.  The daily, ordinary moments that end up defining our lives.

I remember once, when I was about 14 years old, I came home from school and headed straight for the hammock in our backyard.  I dramatically threw myself in, thankful the drama of the day was over and I could just bask in my book.  There was nothing unusual about this…this was a completely ordinary moment for me.  But that afternoon, I laid my book across my chest and just soaked up the moment.  I stared up into the tree above me and I intentionally took note of just how perfect the moment was.  The weather that day was lovely…an odd combination of low humidity and a crisp autumn breeze.  Leaves were falling around me and I could smell one of Grandma’s pies through the open windows.  I had left the phone inside and, of course, this was pre-texting and pre-Internet days.  So it was literally just me and my book and this moment.  I thought if I could bottle this weather and this moment of content, I would.  And I’d live in this moment forever.

In hindsight, I realize that the only reason I could appreciate the beauty of that particular afternoon (and probably the only reason I remember it) was because it was a moment different from all the daily moments.  And not because there was something extra special about that particular moment.  On the contrary, I took an ordinary moment and made it extra-ordinary just by paying attention to all its details.

Sometimes we need to make our ordinary moments extra-ordinary to help us see the beauty of our everyday lives. 

2017 has been a year filled with the ordinary moments: work, school lessons, family meals, laundry, ballet, piano and strings lessons, playtime, sibling rivalry, and all the joy of milestones in between like birthdays and lost teeth and learning to read and camping trips.

But 2017 has also had its share of noticed extra-ordinary moments which have helped us appreciate the beauty of our daily moments.

In the spring the kids and I spent a week homeschooling in the woods.  It was a week to recapture some of the things we had lost in the busy shuffle of school lessons.  We remembered how much we loved to read together and tell stories and watercolor paint in our nature notebooks.  We spent the week uninterrupted by text messages, phone calls and Facebook notifications and we reveled in the small discoveries we made…a rock in the shape of a heart, the idea that we could hike over four miles with small children, the joy of singing folksongs over a campfire we had built ourselves.  We came back with a new appreciation for our family culture and our ordinary homeschooling days.

In the fall we trekked out, as a family, to West Texas for ten days and developed a whole new appreciation for the suburbs and the convenience of civilization.  But those ten days?  Full of extra-ordinary moments.  We rediscovered our joy at playing games together and conversations by the fire lit sparks in our souls as we connected and grew together.  We spent hours hiking and exploring and reveling in the beautiful simplicity of nature.  We delighted in the break from the ordinary and then we returned to the ordinary with eyes wide open.

But not all of our extra-ordinary moments were moments when we were away from the dailiness of life.  Sometimes finding extra-ordinary moments meant stopping long enough to see the ordinary moments with new eyes.  In a culture where everything is rushed, sometimes this takes major effort.  But each ordinary moment deserves respect…after all, these ordinary moments add up to define us.  I catch a glimpse of beautiful little Katie, who begged for a bike with a basket for her fourth birthday, and I watch her as she now goes up and down the sidewalk without her training wheels.  It’s extra-ordinary: for her, it’s the joy of feeling the wind in her hair; for me it’s this realization that she’s growing up.  SHE is extra-ordinary.  All of my children are.  I look over at long, lanky Joseph (who now has a preference to be called Joey) and I stop and listen to that beautiful melody that he’s tapping out on the piano.  That’s a culmination of ordinary moments: piano lessons, hours of practice and a love for music.  Or how about William?  I sit at the top of the stairs in my parents’ house and I listen to him have a conversation with my dad.  A conversation about engineering and chemistry and physics.  And I realize that somehow this 8 year old has turned into a conversationalist, who asks wise questions and attempts to argue his way through life logically.  And then sweet Andrew.  Every day for the past five months, there has been an ordinary moment trying to teach him to read.  And now he does it.  I don’t even remember the day when he could do it, but as I listen, I hear his sweet voice sound out each blend, each consonant and I marvel that so many ordinary moments could add up to this extra-ordinary moment.

Unlike generations past, we don’t live in a period of time where survival is a constant threat.  We don’t live on rationed food.  When we worry about a loved one, they’re typically just a text away…we don’t have to wait weeks wondering whether everything is okay.  We don’t live in a time where we are reminded daily of how precious this life is.  But this life is precious and these moments, even the daily ones, are extra-ordinary.  It’s up to us to stop long enough to breathe in the delight of our daily moments.  Because while the extra-ordinary moments help us keep things in focus, the ordinary moments are the ones that define us.  Which leaves me wondering…what do my ordinary moments say about me?

As a new year approaches, I am reminded that all of our lives are one year shorter as another year has passed us by.  Our time is limited in this precious life, so I implore you to let 2018 be the year that your daily moments define you in the way you want to be remembered.

Let every ordinary moment be extra-ordinary in this new year. 

One Chance: Appreciating Each Moment

I am having one of those nights.  You know the kind.  The kind where you waste precious moments wishing you could press rewind and re-do the last scene (or two).

It all actually started last night.  I went on a delightful shopping trip out to our new outlet shopping center, a mere 25 minutes away (19.7 miles, an estimated $1.64 worth of gas according to MapQuest). I window shopped for the first part of the excursion but then I got sucked into the sales.  Oh the glorious sales.

I tried on a lovely pair of shorts and while I was waiting in line, I thought ‘why one pair of lovely shorts?  I’ll get two,’ and so I grabbed another pair of the exact same shorts in the exact same size but in a different color.  I left the store on a euphoric high…I had shorts that fit in my bag.  Shorts that didn’t squeeze my mommy tummy out of the top; shorts that didn’t show off my pathetically sagging backside.  Life seemed so, well, lovely.

Morning arrived.  I gleefully pulled my new shorts out of the bag, ripped off their tags, tossed the tags into the trash and the new clothes into the washing machine.  (Just a random note, but I NEVER throw away tags until I have washed the clothes…until today.)  Hours later I tried on the shorts just to be sure I had not dreamed all their loveliness.  The khaki shorts were just as lovely as I remembered.

But the gray shorts?  The ones that were the exact same size, exact same shorts…yeah, there is clearly nothing exact about them.  They are tight in all the wrong places, or in our house they would lovingly be referred to as shorts with VPL: code name for Visible Panty Line (as coded by my father for the times when we needed a fashion adjustment).  Something a mama in her mid-thirties should definitely not be wearing.

march-2017-077_2_1

Yesterday’s clerk’s face swam in front of my eyes as I remembered him specifically saying, “You may return anything for 90 days as long as the tags are still on.”  The tags.  Oh those precious tags were definitely no longer attached but maybe if I could find them, I could still attempt a return.  I quickly dug through the kitchen trash can.  And then I remembered that Dax took the trash out this morning after my de-tagging moment.

So I headed out in the cold drizzle and yanked this morning’s trash bag out of the trashcan.  I pulled it over to the single bulb by the backdoor and began digging.  But there was so much trash in there.  And it was so cold outside.  And every time I adjusted the bag so I could see better, I just ended up with the run-off from the roof dripping in my eyes.  Frustrated I tossed it back in the trash can and vowed I’d search tomorrow.

I walked back into the house grumpy.  I barked at Daxson, who, with good intentions, asked why I hadn’t tried on the shorts.  I barked at William who was bouncing around.  And then I barked at Andrew.

Andrew had walked out into the kitchen as I was washing the grime off my hands (and arms) and said, “You know what Mommy?”  And I snapped, “Not now.”  But he didn’t miss a beat.  “Mommy. it’s just 90 more years til my birthday,” and then he realized his mistake and grinned that great big grin with those missing teeth and my heart softened just a bit, but not fast enough because the next words out of my mouth were, “Andrew, not now.”

Still he persisted.  “I mean 90 more MONTHS til my birthday.”  And then he crumpled into giggles as he realized again that somehow that wasn’t right either.  I paused my inner drama queen and turned to face him.  “Mommy, it’s 90 more something til my birthday.”  “90 more days?” I asked.  He wrapped his little arms around me and said, “Yes!  You got it right!  90 more days.  I know because,” and here he leaned in close and beckoned me with his little hand, whispering “I counted each day on the calendar.”  And then unfazed by my mood he turned and skipped off to the bedroom to tell his brothers that in 90 days it would be his birthday (which, just for the record, is a bit off).

march-2017-081_1_1

And I stood there, alone in the kitchen and I thought about those moments.  I thought about how I had set a terrible example, letting my anger get the best of me as I needlessly barked at everyone as if the blame were to be found somewhere outside of myself.  I thought about how I snapped at Andrew not once but twice and had he not been so persistent in his joy, I probably would have snapped a third time.  I thought about how he wasn’t even fazed by my grumpiness…he didn’t let my mood affect him and I thought how lucky that was because in my grumpiness I had the power to ruin so many moods tonight.

But there was at least one little mood I didn’t ruin.  Andrew’s.  And in his joy, I found my anger dissolve.  I found myself sucked into his excitement about 90 whatevers til his birthday and suddenly my drama over a pair of shorts didn’t seem nearly so important.

I wanted to press rewind.  I really did.  Because I didn’t want to snap at that excited little face.  I wanted to go back and look into his eyes the first time he tried to get my attention.  I wanted to cup his little face into my hands and celebrate the excitement over an upcoming birthday with all the attention it deserved.  But I can’t.

I just get one chance.  One chance to live each moment.  One chance to celebrate each moment with proper attention.  I have to be careful not to lose myself in the drama of superficiality.  I am learning to immerse myself in the beauty of each precious moment.  Because I just get one chance.

With Every Intention: Here’s to 2017

2017 is upon us and here at With Every Intention, we truly have every intention to make 2017 a year to remember and we want to invite you to join us.  This isn’t a sneaky ploy to get you to make and keep resolutions.  It isn’t a goal-making guide or a step-by-step solution to being more organized, more perfect or even healthier.  It is a journal of our individual journeys, our swim upstream that we want to share with you.  We want to show you that intentionality breeds beauty, truth and goodness and we want to show you how we strive each day to live our moments with every intention.  We want to encourage you in your own intentional journey.

I am not a resolution maker.  In fact the few times I made resolutions, I sat down and demanded goals of myself.  I waited for the first of the year and then I sunk under the lofty weight of my own goals.  It felt like so much pressure.

But while I fail at making and keeping resolutions, I am learning to excel in living intentionally.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

intentional-2017-with-every-intention

Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s meant to lay the path for future days.

So what does living intentionally actually look like?  For me, sometimes it includes lists of intentionality (the act of being deliberate) such as the books I plan to read, the projects I mean to complete, the design I hope to follow, the food I fill my body with; other times it is as simple as being present in the moment, delighting in the idea that as I live deliberately, I am marking the path for my future, the future of my marriage, the future of my children.  Living intentionally is an opportunity to slow down and savor the goodness, the beauty and the truth of all that surrounds me.  It is an opportunity to cultivate gratitude as I appreciate the little moments that mark the passage of time.

One of my favorite stories of all time is The Three Questions, a story by Leo Tolstoy.  In it, there is a king who realized that if only he knew the right time for every action, the most necessary people and the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he undertook.  So he called for all the wise men to come forth and answer his three questions.  After listening to these supposed wise men (and all of their contradicting answers), the king decides to go and seek the wisdom of a hermit.  After various events that day, the hermit concludes with this advice:

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important–Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”

There it is.  The heart and soul of living with intention: being present in this moment right now, being present with the people you are with at this moment right now, and doing good at this moment right now.  In other words, living this moment with purpose and intention.

A lofty goal, but an achievable one that reaps rewards through every fiber of one’s being.  Mind, body, and soul.

Please come and join Leslie and me this year as we begin a new year filled With Every Intention.

 

 

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