Traveling with Boys

JCP-2-2As the boys grow older I am more intrigued with the differences between them and me. It’s incredible how they are created with an innate sense of wildness. They need adventure every day. It doesn’t have to be extravagant adventure, it can be nature. Every time my boys are loose in nature, it’s an adventure.JCP-49

We recently took a trip to the North Carolina mountains. We spent the days hiking, wading through streams, throwing rocks in creeks and using our “outside voices”…a lot.

I am constantly learning and growing from the way they experience life.

While on the trip some things were made very clear to me about “how to” travel (successfully) with boys.
photoThey need to;
Wander off the path
Throw leaves in the river (at the same time so they can watch them race and see who wins)
Skip rocks at the waterfall.
Walk through spider webs and feel the sticky strings tug the little hairs on their face as they pull it free from their skin.
Take their shirts off and flex their adventurer muscles
at the top of their lungs and make funny animal sounds.

They crave excitement and uncertainty.
They want to see how big God is,
how powerful nature can be and
how beautiful wild flowers/weeds grow.

They need to pee on trees and hock a loogie from the bridge.
They need to hear their voice echo through a canyon and laugh at the mystery of how it sounds.
They need to touch every insect they see and hold a salamander.
Stop and look at the trail they’ve left behind.
Plunge their hands into the mud and get dirt under their nails.
Taste the raindrops and feel the sun kiss the tops of their cheeks, leaving behind its warmth and color.
They need to test the limits of “No Trespassing” signs and jump from the highest point they can find.

They need to wade through lakes with sharp rock beds
See how raindrops form on petals and recognize how delicate beauty can be.

They need to balance on railing, no matter how far off the ground.

They need to play checkers on stamped cement by hopping to their next move.
They need to see all the colors infused into life.
They need to stand atop the largest rock they can find and say in their loudest voice, I’M KING OF THE ROCKS!!!

They need to believe they can be whomever they want to be. A hero, a ranger, a rock star, a professional salamander finder.

They need to know we support their adventures, endeavors and conquers.JCP-30
They need to know we believe in their dreams, no matter how grandiose.

They need to know, because one day when they face decisions about their future and we are not standing beside them, our voice will echo in their mind just like theirs did in the canyon years before. What they hear is crucial to the men they are becoming.

So, moms of boys, the next time he hands you a rock that looks like the last 23 rocks he’s said he “has to take home”, put it in your pocket to add to the collection.

JCP-47When he picks those weeds that look so much like flowers and brings you a handful with a big grin on his face, I beg you, take them, exclaiming in your most excited voice how incredibly beautiful they are and how thoughtful he is for choosing you to give them to.

Take a picture of his finds in his little hand realizing that one day his hands will be big and he will no longer be interested in showing you the petals of the flower he found on the ground.JCP-59So, do you “Have boys will travel?” Where do you like to go? What are you most looking forward to experiencing with them this Summer? Or maybe you want to add to the list about traveling with boys. Go for it, the comment section is yours.

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Travel Theme: Texture

I search for the realness, the real feeling of a subject, all the texture around it… I always want to see the third dimension of something… I want to come alive with the object.
– Andrew Wyeth

For other interpretations or to play along, click here

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

“It happens before you know it…the handprints get higher and higher…then suddenly they disappear”

So embrace every moment. There is no time to waste. Live, Explore, Make Memories. Relish the thought of sticky handprints and dirty soccer shoes. In the time it takes to clean them off, the season has passed. Look around, at all of the beauty in the making.

For more renditions of “Free Spirit” click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Growth is something I’m going through now, only I don’t have a picture of my insides to show you. (Thankfully, right?!) I do have a few examples that involve tangible objects.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
As long as this exists, and it certainly always will,
I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow,
whatever the circumstances may be.
And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
~ Anne Frank ~

Want to see more incredible interpretations of this week’s challenge, click here

Five Minute Friday: Here

This post began as a Five Minute Friday post, but continued long after the timer sounded. Something in me could not stop writing and I think that’s okay. There is much stress in life, right now, today. And so my mind drifts…to a place far less stressful…a haven…here.

Here there is no shortage of beauty
The wildflowers grow just beyond the moss sprinkled fence and
roots intertwine to make an adventurous pathway
Here, where the trees touch the heavens
and the mushrooms look like artwork
Here, where the spider spins his masterpiece
while the river cascades over rocks and branches
down a path not yet discovered
Here, where the only thing heard is the sound of
the earth beneath our feet as we walk to the
waterfalls that willing flow down the granite to the body below.
Here, where little boys are transformed into giants,
ninja’s, pirates and superhero’s
Here, where the fire is warm when the sky opens up
to water the earth
Here, where the mountains ascend from green grass
and reflect their magnificence onto the water below
While cotton like clouds sit suspended against the blue sky

Here, where nap time is not only encouraged, it’s required
Here, where I long to residebreathing in deeply while the
sun warms my face and the breeze cools my neck under my long hair.

Here, where heaven is everywhere and God makes Himself known without saying a word.
Where is your here when the noise of life becomes intrusive?

“Serenity Now!”

I find myself using this phrase quite a bit when I am attempting to find my “happy place” during moments of stress. Well, I found it and it’s too good not to share with you.

Meet Rebecca. She is responsible for some of the most beautiful plants and flowers I have ever seen. Specializing in dahlias of all colors, shapes and sizes. Truly, I have yet to find their equal.

She has other various types of flowers as well. We brought home a beautiful hibiscus plant that will brighten up our front flowerbed. I have assured her I will send a picture as soon as we put it in the ground under the crape myrtles.

Rebecca is located in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, in the town of Cashiers, near Highlands. We have driven past her sign many times and never stopped, but on this particular day, I couldn’t help myself.

With macro lens in hand, I walked up to her porch to ask if I could take a few pictures of the exquisite garden. She was hesitant at first and the more I talked to her, the more I understood.

Rebecca is not only about surviving, she is about thriving. She raised 4 children as a single parent. Three boys and one girl, they are grown now and quite successful. She takes care of this plot of heaven on earth and calls North Carolina home.

She encounters all kinds of people from day to day, especially during the summer. Most are vacationers. Fortunately, she has wonderful, faithful customers. Unfortunately, she also has people drive up and start taking pictures of her beauties without even asking and when confronted, they shove their “I’m a professional photographer” garble in her face and make false promises to send her prints.

I compare that kind of behavior to someone coming up and snapping pictures of my children without my permission and then using the pictures for personal gain. NOT okay. So you can see why she was wary of me.

I had tucked my camera away and after a few minutes, she said that I was welcome to take pictures. When I say that I could have stayed there for hours capturing every intricate detail of these elegant masterpieces with their dainty petals, I am not exaggerating. And Rebecca is beyond knowledgeable about every single flower. She speaks of each one with such passion and adoration.

All of her plants are hand watered and they only receive organic nourishment. There are no pesticides or artificial anything added to them. The soil, the fertilizer, everything is prepared in such a way that the health of the flowers and their foliage is beyond reproach.

The reason I am sharing this with you is because I almost missed it. Do you hear me? I almost missed learning about this incredible lady who worked 17 hours a day to ensure that her children were fed, clothed, educated and had more than a roof over their heads.

Now, her fingernails stained with rich soil and her hands evident of the work she does, she tends to her gardens and shares the beauty of creation with anyone who wishes to partake. If you are in Cashiers, NC, you must stop by Rebecca’s Natural Gardens. Make sure you don’t miss the gift as I almost did and be sure to stay awhile and bask in her wisdom of God’s creation!

Below are pictures of my top 5 favorites. I was going to do 3, but it was too difficult to choose. And I thought 10 was too many. SO, here they are, in no particular order.

This is a dinner plate dahlia. It was larger than 10 inches and can grow to 12 inches around. Hence the name, dinner plate dahlia. I was completely enamored of it.

Look at the colors…the vibrant center. The camera doesn’t do them justice.

This is one of my favorites. We have a front row seat to the intoxicated bumblebee from the nectar of this flower. Clearly he prefers to only eat organic.


Clicking on a picture will open the gallery and allow you to scroll through. If you love a picture, please leave a comment under the one you like the most.
I’m a words of affirmation girl.

Travel theme: Food

Ailsa blogs over at “Where’s my backpack?” I always enjoy looking at the captures of recent travels, but rarely participate in the travel theme because, in this season of life, I really don’t travel that often.

This week is a little different. Though I only traveled in the city, I felt like I had been transported to Japan. I didn’t have my “good” camera, but took some shots with my phone. They turned out pretty good and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share this with you.

Real wasabi root

We had several beautiful sushi rolls. By the time I took my phone out, only this one little piece remained. And though the plainest of all the rolls, it was still delicious.

This is why I don’t share my dipping sauce.
When I’m finished, there are remnants of the various rolls enjoyed.
To have it any other way would be stressful and less enjoyed.

Now to the main that had strangers coming to our table asking what it was…

Isn’t it beautiful! I love the way the Japanese appreciate every aspect of their food.
They are the master artisans of the kitchen.

Here is a close-up of the dish so that no detail is missed.

This is now our favorite sushi joint.
I was showing these pictures to my boys because I think it’s important to recognize where our food comes from. We are so separated from the reality of the process that my children think it either comes wrapped in saran wrap, packaged in paper or from a box.

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too.
And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird ~

There is more to share about this local find in a later blog post
with higher quality pics and more variety.
Stay tuned!

What are your thoughts? Would you rather know where your food comes from
or is it easier to remain uninformed?