Tuesday, May 31, 2011


There is something appealing about a field of corn in the spring. The tender green shoots emerging, slowly changing the brown landscape to green. Although it's a gradual process, it's almost surprising how quickly a quiet, seemingly barren field springs to life.

The whole orchestra of putting a crop in is the result of hard work and more technology than ever, mother nature and a healthy dose of patience. Something that seems so simple, can be quite complicated. This business of feeding the world is amazing and interesting.

As much as anything, I think I just love the order of it all... evenly spaced and symmetrical... I aspire for my own little corner of the field to look as evenly spaced and orderly as this... I guess that's the difference between the professionals creating this landscape and the two-year-old who helped create mine...

I act disgruntled about it... but the truth is, I love my crooked little rows... it's proof of the love that our family feels for this place... For the land that we have such a connection with... that may sound strange, but anywhere else, and I don't know that it would be as important as it is here... I guess if a family lives in a place for a hundred-fifty years or so, it just becomes a part of your DNA... This way of life is as much of who we are as anything... and to pass that along to my kids is one of the most important things that I can do.

Monday, May 30, 2011


In case you're wondering, our good little mother has been tending her nest faithfully. Today she spent some time cleaning up her modest home... it was a little frustrating to watch. The wind blew and blew, all day long... yet she worked her way around the little Barberry bush removing the debris that would blow in. She even had a friend over to help... I'd like to think that was father bird, making sure that everything was safe and sound.

She's difficult to see in the image above, but she's right in the center, nestled into the rocks. Camouflaged and quiet. I have never been able to get close enough to one of these birds to notice their interesting coloring. I especially like the white eyebrows. (I can relate... why my gray hair is congregating there I can't fathom... but that's another topic for another day.)

She have been very vigilant. Even the fainest sound (or faint to my human ears) sends her scurrying from the nest in order to draw danger away from her clutch of eggs. Instinct. She loves those little eggs... so she keeps them warm and dry... safe from danger... Like any good mother would.


It was beginning to seem like this might be a permanent condition... all of the crying and fussing, restless and sleepless nights and lets not forget all of the mucus... ugh... But finally tonight Little Miss Ellie has turned the corner and we seem to have a healthy child on our hands again. It's a Memorial Day Miracle!

It's true, Ellie shuns the camera. I'm convinced that I'll ever have a picture of her looking into the camera... much less smiling. This picture is more her style. Dodging out of sight at the last second, off to more interesting things... Posing for the camera is just so... Gavin! That child, on the other hand, will stop everything to make a face.

With all of the healthy little people tucked away into bed, I'm going to cap off my long weekend with a frosty cold beverage. Cheers!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


As we journey down the path of life, each of us encounter people, places and things that will change us forever. Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to understand quickly that we’re forever changed. Other times, it’s not until much later in our journey that we recognize how different we’ve become, for our life experiences.

I have been blessed in my journey. The path hasn’t always been easy. But that’s not the point. The point is that the path has been filled with things that have forever changed me… some things have made me stronger… some have filled my heart with fear… through some I have learned love… with all I have evolved.

I’m thinking about my journey because this week I feel things changing. On the surface, I have lost a luxury… the luxury of a convenient friendship. Each day I knew that I’d be able to see my friend at the office. We didn’t always have the opportunity to connect, but at least she was just a few steps down the hall and that was a comfort.

On one hand, I’m sad that I won’t see my friend each day. On the other, I’m just the littlest bit little relived… relieved that she has found a new calling… relieved that I can simply call myself her friend.

Digging deeper, we all have to consider that life can’t remain static. This change is just a new reality that we all will become acclimated to. It’s a little like walking down a country road… it may look simple. Undulating and dusty… but the things you experience along the way, no matter how small… a flower, an insect, a small bird singing a song from a perch on the fence post… well those things are important, even if they’re small. They help form an appreciation for the things in life that can be significantly bigger.

And at the end of that undulating and dusty path… home… or some other welcome destination… is a place where you share and impart what you’ve learned along the way.

Good luck, my friend. I know you’ll be great. I can’t imagine my life without you in it, so please don’t forget to travel down this dusty country road on your journey to greatness. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


Poor sweet Ellie just can't seem to shake this cold. She's had a low grade fever for a couple of days, and her runny nose and cough are getting us all down.

I was hopeful tonight that our little one was starting to feel better. She ate a good dinner and danced and played with her babies. We even caught a glimpse of a smile... but it didn't last long. She's been crying on and off, in her crib for the last hour...

I'm sure she's crying because of the traumatic experience that her and I had trying to get her cleaned up for bed. All I was trying to do was wipe her nose/face... with her, that's not so simple.

That girl can sense you coming at her with a kleenex no matter how engrossed she is in something else. By the time you catch up to her, she's all arms, flailing and squirming to get away. She whips her head from side to side ferociously... I don't know what to compare it to... all I can say is that it's not fun. And leaving her nose isn't an option for me. It just looks... uncomfortable. So she screams and flails and I practically sit on her and try to get what I can off her face. At the end, we're both sweaty and mad.

I hope we're at the end of this crud. We're all ready to move on. I'd like to place an order for some sunshine and warm weather... the fresh air will do us all some good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


A diligent Killdeer is nesting in our landscaping. I have to admit that these birds are more interesting to watch going about their business in the yard than they are to hear going about their business in the yard. They have a very loud, distinctive call...

This nurturing bird, when perched in the 'nest' seems quite content. The eggs seem to have been laid gently, maybe a bit haphazardly, in the river rock. They can hardly be identified... were it not for a very noisy bird, we never would have noticed them at all. Aside from some of the bits of litter from the corn harvest last fall, there is nothing nest-ish about the setup.

I mentioned that the nest is in our landscaping... It is under a scraggly little shrub that nearly didn't make it through the long (long) winter. It also happens to be directly in front of Gavin's bedroom window. He has taken it as his personal responsibility to check on the nest... frequently. It's also curious how the nest updates become more frequent in the evening... when little boys are supposed to be in bed.

We'll be keeping tabs on our little bird friend. I'm sure when the chicks hatch there will be quite a commotion. (The little ones are cute... and not so noisy.) But knowing my luck, I'm sure that commotion will also happen when little boys are supposed to be in bed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Five Minutes

Next week, school will let out for summer break. That means, this is a sight I won't see again for a while... three children waiting for the bus. Faces pressed against the glass...

Despite the hectic nature of our mornings, I have to admit that I like those last five minutes we all spend together before we each go off for our day's work. It's that time when the rushing has stopped, and we're all ready to go... coats and shoes on... backpack, diaper bag and briefcase filled and ready for the day ahead. While we wait expectantly for the bus to arrive, we talk about the day ahead... our hopes and our expectations. I love to hear what each of these little people have to say about their day to come.

When summer has ended and the bus returns once again, this scene will be different. The kids will each be a little bigger. Gosh, I can't even imagine how different they'll each look... what new things they'll have learned... the slightly bigger versions of themselves that they will have become...

Not only will the kids be bigger, but we may not have five minutes to spend together in the mornings... I don't know what my new routine will be. I find myself wishing I knew what the future had in store for us... but what fun would that be, right? A life without surprises would be so much less interesting!

So for now, I'll just hope. I'll hope that things won't change too much. I'll hope that the kids don't grow up too much. I'll hope that we will still be able to enjoy five minutes of peacefulness together, in a new routine.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It's beating me up, this cold. I can hardly form a coherent sentence. I'm trying to think healthy thoughts... thoughts of warm sunny days... where cough syrup and Kleenex are replaced with lemonade and time spent playing with the children in the garden... I'm thinking about chives...

Hmmm.... do you think the lack of sleep and over abundance of cold meds are taking their toll on me? Normally, I don't spend time thinking about chives... Let's just go with it, okay?

I didn't realize how pretty this herb is. The purple flowers are so delicate looking. Who doesn't love a plant that is not only fanciful to look at, but pairs perfectly with sour cream on a potato.

Aside from them growing like weeds in my garden, I think they're great... especially on a day where most things don't feel so great at all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Today has been one of those days where the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other seems like an impossible feat. Ellie decided to share her cold with me... and so I have an adult-size version of her runny nose and sore throat... queue the violin music.

It's a good thing today was stormy and inhospitable, or I'd feel guilty for not being out in the yard. We did get to spend a little time outside when we ventured over to Mom & Dad's. The boys love to spend time on the farm. We all do... but they turn it into a major production.

In today's adventure they had to climb the tree. As a kid I climbed that same tree... I recall sitting in those same branches... and hanging from that one limb that was, and still is, perfect for climbing. It was fun. A little adventurous. A little dangerous.

For Gavin, adventure and danger are right up his alley... so he spent some time in the tree this morning. We must have been encouraging him... telling him how good he was at climbing the tree... because when he got down he pronounced that he was 4% monkey.

Living with two little boys has been.... interesting. They are always on the go. Always saying the funniest things. Always with a truck in hand. I've had to give in at meal-time, or the screeching would never end... so I now allow trucks at the dinner table, but they have to park beyond the silverware. And in case you're wondering, etiquette dictates that trucks are always set to the right of the service knife and soup spoon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I discovered tonight that using a hand saw is not only the worlds best arm and shoulder workout, it's also one of the most frustrating activities. Of all time.

Our plum trees were looking terrible, so it was time for them to come down. We decided to cut them by hand (don't ask me why) and use the trunk for the base of a bird feeder. It sounds a little odd, but I think it looks cute... in a rustic kind of way. It also looks like a page right out of the Lorax.

So good bye purple plum trees... we'll have to content ourselves with these pretty little purple flowers, until we can find a better variety of plum to plant in our soon-to-be-orchard.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garden Chores

I stayed out in the garden until after dark. Only good sense and the promise of a late dinner brought me in... I think I could have happily remained outside all night.

With the kids in bed, the dog was my company, alternating between his quest for something to chase and resting on the lawn. Luckily he didn't find anything to chase... I'm not a fan of the field mice who like to nest in the compost bin. I like that Jackson watches over me, keeping the mice at bay!

I was able to get the raspberries cut back and all the dead canes removed. I burned the litter and that little fire gave me just enough extra light to carry on in the dark. It was good to get that job done... now it's all ready to till and thin into rows this weekend... provided there's no rain.

I'm sure tomorrow I'll even have a little helper in Benett. He's always thrilled to spend time beating the dirt into submission, digging and getting dirty in general. Actually, he's a pretty good helper... and he's great company too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today we reached a major milestone. Benett wore his (very cute) undies all day... without an accident!

He was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing... like he's been doing it his whole life.

I think he may have heard the hubbub about not being able to move up to the next grade-level room at daycare, until he's out of diapers... that gives us about a week to get the underwear thing figured out... sigh... I have to keep reminding myself, "one day at a time... one day at a time..."

To celebrate Benett's big accomplishment, he got to take a few extra "one-more-times" down the slide at the playground before we left for home... after all, he's a big boy now, and that's just what big boys do - stall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Some of the very best things in life are those that are unexpected... I think that holds true for everything from babies to dessert.

This is rhubarb dessert #3. It has been my favorite thus far... and it was an improvisation, which I think is a little exciting. Don't call the Dough Boy just yet... I think it may have been a fluke. Anyway, I gave it a name... I'm calling it Rhubarb Upside-Down Shortcake.

Little Miss Ellie loved it. She couldn't seem to take a bite without flopping side to side. It was a funny little happy dance... homemade whipped cream makes me do the same thing... it may be a genetic thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Each day is a new adventure. Some days we're forced to cover some rough ground. For me, today was one of those days.

This morning, daycare called... they said Ellie had spots on her legs that looked like ringworm. (!Ringworm! Needless to say I was horrified.) I called the pediatrician. We made a trip to see her.

Seventy miles, an expensive co-pay and three-and-a-half hours later I was able to return Ellie to daycare and go back to work. It was not a parasite living on my daughter's legs... it is very dry skin... so in addition to the aforementioned expenses, we now have creams, salves and pastes to lube her up with several times a day.

Upon my return to the office, a fire was waiting to be extinguished. I did my best... but not all fires need to be completely extinguished. Sometimes it's okay for things to smolder... I'm okay with that.

When I got home Gavin & Monte rushed off to baseball practice. That left me outnumbered with the little ones for dinner theater. Some nights dinner feels more like a stand-up act than anything... they were a tough crowd...

After dinner I decided we needed some fresh air. Benett decided that meant I should pull him around in the wagon, while he 'drove' his 4-wheeler. (And I carried Ellie... it's not safe for her to ride so closely to her brother... he's a menace.) The fresh air didn't seem like such a good idea anymore, as I was huffing and puffing around the yard.... and did I mention that the 4-wheeler has buttons that when pushed say things like "Turning Left", "Turning Right", "I'm going to Win!" And Mr. Benett was yelling, "Faster Mama! Don't Stop! Keep Going!"

I'm pooped. Today the terrain was bumpy. Thankfully, not all days are like this... but it sure does feel good for this day to be drawing to a close.

Monday, May 16, 2011


It was glorious tonight. A light breeze, mild temperatures and a pair of helping hands in the garden.

Benett loves to be in the garden nearly as much as I do... when Miss Ellie is too tired to stay and Gavin had other games to play, Benett stays with me... digging and planting, chattering and watering.

I love how his dirty little hands gently helped, sowing seeds. He would carefully take a "pinch" of seeds and sprinkle them in the row. (An act which required the "sprinkling" voice... a quiet-ish high pitched "prinkle... prinkle... prinkle...")

It's these quiet times... the simple actions that have had the biggest impact on me as a mom. This little person is testing and growing... learning by doing... finding out who he is. I'm so glad to be a part of that and teach him some meaning along the way.

There is something so special about this garden... it was once a neglected corner of the place where a field and a yard met... but it's grown into a visual representation of our family... It's grown as we have.

It's been loved and nurtured... It has taught us lessons. It has provided us with modest little harvests... with fruits and vegetables happily eaten by children, only because they grew them themselves. But most importantly, this little plot has provided us with memories that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The recipe turned out okay. It looked pretty. It smelled delish. It tasted okay... it's not at the top of my list, but it wasn't bad.

I think Gavin liked it. His comment was, "I wish my mouth was bigger so I could eat more."

I have this idea that I'd like to make every recipe in a single cookbook some day. I guess today's as good a day as any to get started... after all, rainy days are best spent baking.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Finally, the rhubarb was big enough to pick tonight. The boys and I got down to business picking the best looking stalks. There didn’t seem to be as much as we wanted… no matter…  we found enough for our purposes. I’m sure next week we’ll have more to harvest.

Benett even found a ‘baby barb’ which he tenderly carried into the house. I love the color of it… the bright fuchsia and green are the iconic colors of spring.

I tried a new rhubarb recipe too. If it turns out to be tasty, I’ll share it here tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It was only on for three weeks, but it seemed a lot longer than that... but we wait no more... today Gavin got out of his cast!

He was thrilled to be able to wiggle his fingers and make a fist. He was excited to see the inside of the cast... while I was petrified... I had an inkling of how much dirt had accumulated in it... it was gross indeed.

Most of all, Gavin was excited to grip a baseball bat and take a few practice swings. He's really getting into the sport. I'm not sure who's more excited... Gavin or Monte. It's great that they have a common interest in baseball.

Gavin's pinky is still aiming for left field. It's going to be that way for a while... but the doctor assures us that it will head back infield as Gavin grows older. I'm amazed at how quickly a child's bones can heal... and the technology involved in healing bones today... It's just amazing.

He's still getting used to having both hands back... it was funny to watch Gavin eat dinner... he continued to use his right hand. I didn't point it out to him... he was too buys rushing to finish so that he could finally take a bath. He's been waiting to soak in the tub for three long... LONG... weeks.

Look out everyone, the Southpaw is off the D.L... he's squeaky clean and ready to make up for lost time!

Monday, May 9, 2011


This scene, and shared seat, is a rarity. Lately, the relationship between Benett and Elle has been... well... it's been cantankerous at best.

They're both growing and learning... that process is an important business for little people. For Benett it means learning how to get a reaction out of those around him. He must be on a Master's course, because he's getting pretty good at it.

Ellie is learning more about her physical surroundings... she gets around so well, and is sure-footed enough to almost run. (Life with two big brothers is just cause for learning to get out of the way quickly.) Elle doesn't talk much, but I know she understands a lot of what's being asked of her. She seems to just soak up her surroundings... taking it all in... digesting the goings-on and trying to figure out how she can use that information another time.

The learning and growing is fun to watch. It's a noisy environment. It's a happy environment.

These two are so different, but one thing they have in common is joy of reading. I just had no idea that they enjoyed reading so much that they'd even tolerate a shared seat to peacefully read to each other. Ellie would point to the picture and Benett would tell the story. (Using real words, for the most part.)

It was a short lived scene, but fun to watch. And one that I hope to see again soon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Mom, you've always meant so much to me. You've enriched my life... taught me so many things. You've set a powerful, wonderful example.

I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to raise the children with you as close and involved as you are. That is a gift for all of us... The kids don't understand how unique that situation is. I'm glad that they don't know a growing-up where visits are just for special occasions... but rather a part of everyday life.

You once said that to have children was to have your heart outside of your chest. I think I understand that now. My kids have changed me forever. But there is also another side on that coin... Being a mother means constant love and constantly being loved. You are a blessing and a gift... you are loved, constantly.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Ellie and I each learned something today.

Ellie learned that dandelions don't taste so good, and that they are difficult to spit out.

I learned that the Sunmaid Raisin girl and I are one in the same. No, we don't just look alike. That is me on the box... and I don't even own a red bonnet.

That Benett... he is so funny. I'm not sure that Ellie is always laughing, mostly because Benett has no concept of personal space. When he's in the room with her, he's most likely sitting on her... or kissing her... or force feeding her dandelions.

I'm convinced that his lack of space for Ellie is because he's just so in love with her... it's just difficult for him to show it sometimes.


We've had our share of wet weather this spring... but finally it seems to have passed, and we're left with a rainbow!

Today the farmers were out in force... finishing and preparing the soil for planting. I love all of that hustle and bustle.

We did a little hustling and bustling ourselves, just on a smaller scale. The asparagus and strawberry beds were cleaned out and prepared. We even got the deck furniture out and the pots on the deck filled with pretty blooms... spring seems to finally be here.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Getting the kids to eat a well balanced meal is like mission impossible at my house. We've tried so many things... bribery, trickery, ranchery... all are hit or miss.

The level of our effort is equally matched by the level of resistance. It's like anything else... it's obvious when one is trying too hard... and when it comes to mealtime, that warning flag goes up at a moment's notice by one and the other two quickly follow suit. When that happens, nobody's eating anything healthy-ish.

Some days that fight just doesn't seem worth it... tonight I probably should have realized that was the case... but I just couldn't do it. Benett just had to eat some fruit... one slice of pear... that's all I was asking... how hard could that be? Pears are tasty, right? Not today... not for Benett. It was a knock-down, drag out, full-on crying jag. Yuk.

In the end, he ate the slice of pear. But I'm not sure it was worth it... the bribe was pear for a piece of Easter candy, and I think those two things might cancel each other out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Summer baseball practices started tonight. The anticipation has been akin to waiting for Santa... tough to keep that excitement contained... Gavin was so excited in fact, that he thought he would have to miss school today... after all, one can't have baseball practice AND school on the same day. Poor kid... it was quite the letdown to find that wasn't the case.

Gavin still has a cast on his left hand, so I was a little concerned about how he'd feel... not being able to do all of the same things the other boys were doing. But true to form, that didn't seem to bother Gavin. He has this great ability to just pour all of himself into whatever it is that he CAN do. It's that ability to make lemonade out of any situation... no matter how sour... that really makes me admire this little boy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Garden

We're nearly delirious from the fresh air. I don't want to jinx anything, but it is starting to feel more like spring. Even the little stone crop are starting to burst forth, in earnest. I love these little flowers and their tiny fuchsia spots.

Actually... this time of year I find myself "loving" most anything that's green and growing in my garden.... it means I've been able to actually spend time in my garden, enjoying my surroundings, and that's a great thing in my book.

The boys and I rushed through dinner in anticipation of spending some quality time in the garden. We loved every second of preparing the raised beds to receive those tomato plants we've lovingly tended since February. It was great!

I was pleasantly surprised that Benett and Gavin stuck with it for so long. Breaking up the crusty top soil, and smoothing the dirt. It was like therapy for all of us.

Benett was especially in his element... He chattered and dug and played as Gavin and I worked. Eventually he became fascinated by the worms that we uncovered. Benett surprised me when he wanted to hold each, and when I expressed how careful he should be, he obliged.

Not only oblige... in fact, Benett decided that a part of being gentle and careful with the worms meant that he should hug them before he 'tucked' them in to a hole he had lovingly prepared for them. I can honestly say I've never considered it myself... but it seemed perfectly natural for Benett. I thought it was cute and sweet... Gavin just said, "Uh... gross."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where Was I?

When did Miss Ellie stop being a baby? Only yesterday her barely-there piggies were more fuzz than anything. Only yesterday she was learning to stand unsteadily on her own. Only yesterday she was that tiny baby we joyfully brought home from the hospital. Only yesterday she needed me for everything.

Today she's a genuine little girl... loving all of the things that are reserved exclusively for little girls. She loves to hold her babies. She loves to dance and sing. She loves her independence.

When did all of this growing-up happen? Where was I? It seems like I would KNOW if my baby girl all of the sudden grew up on me... but it's only when I look back at how small she really was, that I can see how big she truly is now.

Her piggies are still barely-there... this blonde-ish girl of mine just doesn't grow hair very quickly, which I'm thankful for... because in every other way she is growing too fast for me.

Little Miss Ellie... My darling, my dear... when we were saying "So Big!" it wasn't a request. We thought it was just a fun little game to be played... We love the way you put your arms in the air... so cute... but it was only a game. I think you took us seriously... we don't want you to be "so big..." we want you to stay just like you are...

Please, just give mommy another chance. Stay small for me just a little bit longer. I promise, I won't let another minute of your growing up pass me by.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Gavin: "Mom, are you going to get groceries today?"

Me: "Yes."

Gavin: "We need more ranch."

Monte: "Maybe we need to take a break, with the ranch."

A very worried looking Gavin: "Mom, if you don't get some more ranch, I may never eat another carrot again."