Living with Intention

As I was driving out to help Ty feed the cows today, I heard something on the radio that really resonated with me and my life as of late.  The DJ spoke about the recent passing of her father-in-law and the impact his death has had on her mother-in-law.  This woman has become much more reflective and introspective about her life and what she has accomplished.  She says that while she has done many things and accomplished many goals in her life, she feels like she hasn’t really lived.  She’s completed an unknown number of to-do lists but she doesn’t feel that she’s fulfilled much of a purpose in her 80-plus years of living.  “There is a difference between swimming and just treading water.”  How very true that is.

This radio discussion got me thinking.  Am I just treading water?  Am I really living?  Is my only accomplishment finishing a to-do list?  Whew.  Pretty tough questions.  Especially for me, a habitual list-maker.

I can honestly say that during December and most of January I was just treading water.  The incredible changes that come with having a baby would probably have been enough to slow me down, but we had a bit more to deal with than just that.  Henley’s heart problem added an overwhelming amount of strain and pressure on me, Mr. Rancher, and our families.  Learning how to care for her and finding the balance between enough awareness and worry about her health has been a process, that I’m still not perfect at yet.  But things have slowed down.  Henley is doing very, very well.  We don’t see the doctor every week anymore.  I’m healed from my c-section.  Life is normal again.

So shouldn’t I be swimming again?  Metaphorically, of course!  As a compulsive planner, I like to have goals for myself.  I know I am much more effective when I have a plan and try live on purpose.  Rather than just waking up and seeing where my day takes me, I like to make my day work for me.  I like to live with intention.  I must admit though, I haven’t been doing a very good job of this lately.  I’ve been sitting back and letting my life happen to me rather than living it for myself.  And I wonder why I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with everything I have to do?!

It comes down to this, we all need to live intentionally.  Live on purpose.  Actively pursue our goals.  Life is not passive and it will pass you by if you let it.  I’m certainly not saying that we have to be going and doing every second of the day.  It’s just as important to take time for reflection, to spend time with our own thoughts, to watch the clouds, to notice the brilliant colors of nature.  However, introspection and meditation is vastly different from spending four hours watching television, Facebooking, pinning Pinterest pins, or playing video games.  Maybe I’m unique in this, but when I don’t set goals for myself, when I don’t live with intention, I usually wind up spending way too much time watching TV or on the computer.  Other things that are important to me get neglected and I get to the end of my day not knowing how I accomplished so little and still feel so tired!

Life should be about more than just making to-do lists.  At the same time, to-do lists can be very effective tools for accomplishing tasks.  I suppose the key is to know what you want out of life and determine whether your goals, daily activities, and to-do lists are helping you to get there.  For example, the very most important thing to me is my family.  More specifically, Henley.  If I say that raising Henley to be an intelligent, happy, honest, faithful, kind, productive human being, but let things like doing the dishes or folding laundry or watching TV over-take my time to spend with her, I am not accomplishing my goal.  A list of things to get done should never take precedence over a person to be loved.

Please don’t think I’m condemning housework, Facebook, TV, or even nap-time for adults.  I like all of these things!  What I am condemning is passive living.  Sit down and watch your favorite TV show, it’s an excellent way to decompress and relax.  Just be sure you get back up from the couch and continue on with your day!

There are definitely times in life when all we can do is tread water.  Times when it’s all we can do to get up out of bed and face the day ahead of us.  These days, weeks, months happen and it’s okay.

All the other time in our life should be spent in living to our fullest potential.  I’m recommitting myself to finding the joy, beauty, and fun in my life.  I don’t want to look back and say “well, I guess I made it through my life.”  I want to look back and see a legacy of hard-work, happiness, accomplishments, relationships, fun, and growth.

Have a wonderful weekend, readers!  Thanks for letting me be part of your day.

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Book Review: The Berenstain Bears

This review is of all the Berenstain Bears books in general.  To be brief, these books are awesome.

To be not so brief, these are wonderful books about morals, values, and dealing with a variety of hard things.  The illustrations are very colorful and well done and the writing is detailed enough to make a point but simple enough children can understand what is being said.  Henley loves to look at these books with me and I love reading them to her.  I like how each book is centered on some principle–honesty, forming good habits, health, family relationships–and how artfully the authors teach those principles.  I haven’t read all of the Berenstain Bears’ adventures, but those I have read are wonderful.

I just purchased “Too Much Junk Food” and “The Truth.”  Henley and I read both of them within the first thirty minutes after arriving home from the store.  Such good books!  I would highly encourage any parents out there to actually buy these books for your children’s home library.  I know it can get spendy–believe me, I have a three month old and have already spent too much on literature for her–to buy books for your kiddos and you want to make sure you have quality over quantity.  These books are well-worth the expense.

And I’m not getting paid to promote these stories, I just love them so much!  Have a great Wednesday, enjoy a book with your little ones.

Cow Models

As of last week, I am working on getting a close up picture of all our cows.  I’ve downloaded a new cattle record keeping software and it allows me to upload a photo of each one and input data about her breed, calves, vaccinations, and such.  Since I don’t work with these ladies every day like Mr. Rancher, having a photo on hand will come in handy every time he calls to ask me for details about a specific cow.

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I love how almost every cow has a bunch of hay dangling from her mouth.  Excuse me for interrupting your breakfast!

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Hmmm…posed much?

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Oh how I love pictures of mama cows and their babies.

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See how proud she looks?  And intimidating.  I think she’s warning me to back away slowly…

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Look at that expression!  Cows may not growl or bare their teeth at you, but they have their own way of making their wishes known.

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Their faces can be quite expressive, and if that doesn’t work they have no problem charging at the much smaller human holding the camera.  I have yet to be run down by a mother cow but I always try to use my telephoto lens and keep as much distance between myself and the cow as possible.  Especially if she has a new baby.

Daddy’s Girl

Little Miss Henley is turning into quite the daddy’s girl.  She had a blast chillin’ in the truck with Dad while I took pictures of the cows.

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See the pink blankie on the steering wheel?  Ty has a lot of pink, frilly, and girly things in his future as the father of a sweet baby girl.

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And many more pictures as the husband of me!  He might as well suck it up and smile once in a while!

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Oh boy.  My child is doomed to have many more experiences like this one.

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Baby Henley riding the newest baby calf.

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Okay, I have no idea what Mr. Rancher is doing here.  Is he trying to let the mama smell Henley to see that she isn’t dangerous?  Is he herding the calf back to its mother?  Is he feeding my baby to the somewhat suspicious mother cow?

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Seriously, what is he doing?!

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Smelling to make sure that this is indeed her baby.

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A little nuzzle on the bum for comfort.

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And now the stink-eye for Mr. Rancher.  “Keep your strange human baby away from my baby!”

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“I mean it!”

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PJs, Pictures, and Pretty Cows

Henley and I went with Mr. Rancher to feed today.  Not much to say about the experience, but I did get a lot of fun pictures of the morning.

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Oh, one thing, the first baby calf showed up today!!!

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We also took a few photos with “flat Megan” my niece’s version of “flat Stanley.”  Her class is doing a project and we are the lucky ones to take flat Megan on adventures.

Here she is with our awesome cow-dog Bo.

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And here she is on top of a pile of hay…

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Creepin’ this calf out.

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And here is the newborn calf with his mama!

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Flat Megan must not have been too scary, or maybe the calves were just really hungry.

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Aren’t these ladies so gorgeous?  I kinda like ’em.

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And there’s my cowboy.  It makes me smile how intently that long-horned lady is watching him.

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*Sniff, sniff*

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Little miss didn’t make it out of her pjs before we had to head out the door.

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And she is soooo happy the cows waited to have the first calf until we made it out to feed again!

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Library Trip

Henley and I took our first trip to the library a few days ago.  The actual trip was pretty uneventful.  Henley slept, I lugged around her carseat, picked out a few children’s books, and one book for me.  Getting back to the car was a bit more of an adventure.  Two hands are simply not sufficient for juggling one, heavy carseat, a wallet, a set of keys, a cell phone that won’t stop ringing, and four books.  Regardless, we made it home and didn’t break or drop anything in the process!

We sat down the same day to read one of the Henley’s books and somehow ended up reading all three.  Henley absolutely loved the books!  I know you’re probably thinking it’s all in my head, but I promise she really did enjoy them.  I propped her up on the couch next to me so that we could both look at the pictures while I read, and she studied each and every page.  She is starting to really focus on objects she finds interesting and those books caught her attention.  Obviously I’m the teensiest bit biased on this subject since I want Henley to love to read as much as I do.  Going to the library was one of my favorite activities as a kid; I would fill my backpack clear full of books to read and speed through all of them in a week’s time.  And one of my favorite things about summertime was the summer reading program put on by the library.  Yes, I really am a nerd.

We’re headed back to the library today to re-stock on children’s books.  I haven’t even cracked mine open yet!  There are only so many hours in the day and I feel a bit guilty if I settle down on the couch to read a book for myself when I have a sink full of dishes and several baskets full of laundry that need my attention.  Snuggling and reading to my baby is a completely different matter though–I don’t feel the least bit guilty.

What to Call This Photo Winner

Thanks for all of your suggestions for naming this picture!  The winner of the name game is Amanda Watts with “I just pooped my pants.”  Can you guess why?

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I had just gotten Henley out of the bath, all dressed, and snapped this cute picture before she completely blew out a diaper.  We had to change her clothes as the diaper wasn’t enough to contain the mess…

Thanks for all the suggestions, I loved reading your captions!

 

Book Review: Financial Peace

Yep, I’m nerdy enough to read Dave Ramsey’s book Financial Peace for fun.  I’m that girl.  In my defense, I never really had a chance of escaping Dave’s influence, after all my mom forced me to listen to him every day, on our way home from school.  In my tweener years, I seriously despised getting picked up and listening to all of his financial wisdom.  Talk radio, especially the Dave Ramsey show, was totally boring and lame…sound like any twelve-year-olds in your life?

Now that I’ve had a taste of the real world, I must say that the very practical, common-sense Dave Ramsey plan is quite comforting to read.  Mr. Rancher and I are working very hard to build a successful ranch, and that is no small nor easy feat to accomplish.  We try very, very hard to live within a very small budget for personal expenses and channel as much money as possible into our business.  This means having patience, saying “no” to ourselves…a lot, and prioritizing our actual needs over our wants.  Reading an entire book devoted to singing praises  to this kind of lifestyle is oh so validating for me.  I can honestly say that I love reading Dave’s plan for building financial wealth.

I recommend all of the Dave Ramsey materials–books, classes, and radio show–to anyone and everyone.  We live in a spend-happy society and thrive off of the instant gratification that comes with swiping our credit cards anytime we want something.  And that is why debt and financial ruin are so common in our society.  Money management, saving, and sticking to a budget may seem like old-time concepts, even so, these really are the keys to making your finances work for you.  I could go on and on about how our money habits are a great reflection of our character and the importance of teaching kids how to handle money–obviously I would be speaking from the child’s perspective since Henley is way too little to be learning about finances–and yadda yadda yadda.  I’m not going to because I’m not an expert and the whole point of this post is to review a book which covers these subjects in detail.  Read the book.  It’s awesome and it’s encouraging, especially if you are living on a tight budget and need some affirmation.