Thursday, June 30, 2011


I was so glad for Gavin's game to be over tonight, so I could get out of the oppressive heat and into a climate controlled environment. I'm such a wimp. 

Gavin was really feeling the heat too, but he had more of a reason to be as bright as this pretty Pincushion flower. You see, his baseball team tries to get kids to play in a variety of positions... to see where kids naturally excel and to give everyone a chance to try their hand at everything.

But Gavin loves to catch. He caught for all of Tuesday's game and all but one inning tonight. All of those pads are hot. He is a sweaty mess at the end of each game... and his cheeks are more than just rosey. He's red.

And like my vibrant little flower, Gavin is reaching out too... trying new things. Trying his hardest to be the best that he can be. In our garden and in our life it's so much fun to see things grow and blossom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This is Jackson. He is a sweet dog who has been with Monte and Me for 8 years. He had a sad beginning that lead him to what I hope is a happy ending.

As a puppy he was mistreated by his people. Like many labs, Jackson was a very high energy puppy with a touch of separation anxiety. I believe his owners didn't know how to deal with those things and eventually just didn't care for him properly.

In the end, he wound up at the local veterinary clinic with a severe leg injury. He ended up needing major surgery, which left him with a pin in his little puppy leg.

The surgery and subsequent treatment was a painful ordeal for little Jackson. The first time I met him, I remember being struck by how sweet he was, despite his pain. He was also loving to those humans caring for him, despite his experiences that lead him to surgery. That and he loved Kermit THEE Frog.

We couldn't resist him, and Jackson became a permanent part of our family after his treatment was completed at the vet, in 2002.

Jackson still loves to play, even though the arthritis in his hip is painful. He doesn't whine about it. He isn't ornery, cantankerous or distant. He's happy despite his challenges. He loves his people... and we love him right back.

Some of us love Jackson more than others... He and Ellie have a... strained relationship. She's just not so sure about him, and most of the time, she feels the way she looks in this picture.

She's getting better. And I can see that Jackson is happy that he's beginning to win her over. Every now and then, when she's not paying much attention, he'll steal a kiss on her leg or foot. It's sweet. He wants to love her, but he knows she'll be upset, so he does his very best to contain his affection.

Jackson is growing gray around the muzzle. I think he looks wise in his old age. But he still acts like a pup... Racing too and fro, taking every opportunity to play with all of us. I really think this is a happy time for him, and that makes me very happy too. With any luck, Ellie will turn the corner and grow in her fondness of him... which I think will be the icing on his cake.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


If I were describing myself, one word that I would not use is spontaneous. I wouldn’t call myself rigid, but I’m one of those people who would rather have things figured out in advance. I’m a list gal. I’m a planner.

If there’s one thing my kids have taught me, it’s that not everything can be planned. Some things just happen. Actually a lot of things just happen, but even so I’m usually not caught completely off guard. But last night was different. I surprised myself.

Monte and Gavin were at a ball game. That’s a regular thing for us these days... either Gavin is playing and Monte is watching or vice-versa. With the baseball boys away, that left Benett, Elle and I at home. We had a few things to do outside, and those two are happy to indulge me. So we picked cherries. We climbed on the fence. We picked lettuce. We weeded the raised beds and checked the gopher trap. They were helpful in their smallish ways.

The last thing I wanted to do was give the perennial bed on the South side of the house a good soak. It dries out quickly especially on warm and windy days like yesterday. As I was watering, Benett somehow came between the end of the hose and the flowers. It was a cold jolt that made him squeal in delight. Ellie couldn’t resist the fun either. And me… well as it was happening, my thought process went something like this:

I really shouldn't be doing this.
They’re both going to be soaking wet.
I’m going to have a mess when they get in the house.
It’s really windy. I’m sure they’re chilly.
I shouldn’t be encouraging this.
Every time I need to water the flowers, they’re going to expect this.

But then… I couldn’t help but laugh. Their revelry was completely contagious. They were both having so much fun, and when I stopped trying to convince myself that this whole thing was a bad idea, I realized that I was having fun too. 

Their deep, contented belly laughs must have carried on the breeze to the neighbor's house... Benett, with his brazen little self threw his head back and laughed to the sky. Ellie, tucking her arms at her side racing through the dancing water. They were both loving it. They were both grinning from ear to ear, running up and down the sidewalk as I squirted them with water.

I was wishing that I had my camera with me to capture the looks of pure delight on their sweet little faces. I wished I could stop the Earth from turning and keep all of us in that moment for a long, long time. I wished I could scoop them both into my arms and tell them how very much I love them... and be reassured to know that they understood it all the way to their middle... and even more, I wished they knew what my love for them really meant. I wished Monte and Gavin were there to be with us in that moment so I could hold them tight too.

Alas, I didn't have my camera. My heart feels the burden of being solely responsible for remembering yesterday. Remembering the looks on their faces. Remembering their laughter. Remembering them the way they were in that moment. Remembering what it feels like to have love bursting from my being... feeling my soul and how it connects me to my children.

That moment will live in my heart. I've tucked it way, safely under an emotional lock and key. Even if one day I don't remember that special spontaneous moment... when the details of that summer night are fuzzy, and with the passing of time that moment becomes all together forgotten, the feeling in my heart will live on as long as I do... 

No matter how careful or meticulous, that's just something that can never be planned. I'm sure I'll always be a list gal, but I'll never take spontaneity for granted.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I was under some misguided impression that summer was filled with 'lazy days' and 'carefree fun.' Something seems to be awry, because our July is shaping up to be anything BUT lazy or carefree.

It may be a new phenomenon, but it seems as though we are becoming a little less anti-social... just maybe... We are booked up every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, each Saturday and most Sundays.

Looks like these three cheese balls are going to get a little social interaction time. I apologize in advance to those of you who we'll be spending time with in our busy July.

Do you like the tractor shirts? The little people love them! Benett's worn his twice in three days. We had to bribe him to take the shirt off the first night. Trust me, if it hadn't been so dirty I would have let him sleep in it... if only to put off the fight about taking it off for the next morning. It's amazing how much more tolerant I can be after a few hours sleep and a cup of coffee. It's like magic.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garden Love

All of the kids enjoy time outside. For Gavin, time spent playing in the sand or dirt has been traded for time practicing baseball. He's in love with that sport. When we're outside, he'll ask anyone and everyone to pitch to him. He loves to play catch too. It's all he seems to think about when he's outside.

Benett loves to be in the garden. As we finish eating our dinner, he will invariably ask, "Can we go play in the garden?" To which my answer is a resounding, "YES!" I love that time too.

Lately, he's been enjoying 'pruning' my trees. He also likes to dig random holes. These aren't holes in which to place plants, these are just random holes. Everywhere. It's like my refuge is being booby-trapped. Between him and the gophers... let's just say I have my hands full putting things back in order.

Ellie is a garden lover too. I've realized that I'm much more easy going with the little people in the garden now. (So sorry, Gavin.) I used to be a little bit... let's just say I wasn't so relaxed about where little feet step and what they step on. I've let go of that baggage. They can pretty much go anywhere. Do anything. And Ellie is taking that to the extreme. She likes to eat dirt. We're working on that one... I'm afraid that she's seen Benett eat too much off of the floor. *Sigh....

Despite all of the baseball playing, hole digging, dirt eating little people who step on anything and everything, my garden is in bloom. The mint has officially taken over. The chives are spreading like weeds. And we're loving every second of it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I've been looking forward to today for a week.

Today was Great Aunt Minnie's estate sale. I just knew there would be some treasures to be found. I didn't know what exactly we'd come across, but I did know that throughout her 87 years, Minnie has been a crafty gal.

From painting to sewing to needle craft, there were supplies that told the tale of so many projects. Some were unfinished, waiting on a closet shelf for someone to take home and lovingly finish. The quilt tops... they seem to have a story all their own. I wasn't ready to help finish telling that story. They were a little intimidating. But the spools upon spools of thread were calling to me. These little beauties are all silk. The colors just pop.

Each of the spools are wooden, which I love. They speak of another place. A time when things were simpler. Slower and more deliberate. Each of them were marked $.25. They're precious.

Even Benett seemed to understand that these little things were special. He sat close by me on the floor as I snapped pictures. He couldn't not touch the little treasures. But he was a quieter version of himself. Knowing to be careful... that he should use his most gentle touch.

We also found buttons. So many buttons. I'm not sure what project these things will be used for, but I know that I'll think of Great Aunt Minnie the entire time.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Gavin has become an avid reader. It's not unusual to find him sitting, cross-legged, on the floor reading a book or magazine. It's something that I'm so proud and happy to see.

I love to read as well, but as a young child it was a chore. It didn't come easily at first and because I was slow, it was frustrating. I remember seeing my cousin, who was younger than I, quickly and confidently read passages with little apparent effort. You see, she was a faster reader. I equated fast with good.

The curriculum in Gavin's school involved timed reading activities. During the school year, Gavin brought home passages that he was to read in one minute. We'd count the number of words he could correctly read in that minute and record the results. He had three chances to improve his 'score.' It was a reading race.

That exercise was something that I didn't really care for. We seemed to be placing more of an emphasis on saying the words quickly than we did on actually understanding the passage. We seemed to forget that reading without understanding and comprehending is a waste of time. What good is it to read fast if you don't have any idea what it is that you just read?

It all brought back memories of my own slow reading. I was sure that this boy, who thinks everything is a race, would become one of those kids who speeds through reading as a monotone exercise. A race to the end, with no inflection. No emotion. No joy.

But there is joy. There is delight in a story. There is fascination in the words. There is a sense of empowerment that I can see in him. He can be independent when he reads. He can understand. It's that independent streak in him, and in the 7-year-old version of myself, that keep us reading... building those pictures in our minds that the printed words on the page inspire... and keep us coming back for more, no matter how fast or how slow we might read the words.


Today was one of those days where everything seemed to take forever. Traffic didn't move fast enough.When I finally got to work, my computer wouldn't boot fast enough. When it was booted, I couldn't seem to type fast enough to get all of the work done that I wanted to accomplish.

When we did decide to take a quick break for lunch, it was anything BUT quick. We waited an hour and 10 minutes for our food (a salad and a burger) only to get frustrated and ask for it in a to-go box... From there I had to rush back to work, sit at my desk and try to eat my salad quickly so that I could get to my next meeting.

When we finally got home, I couldn't seem to do anything fast enough for the little people... Ge them in the house, get them a little snack, get dinner made... they were just STARVING. It was one slow thing after the next.All. Day. Long.

Even though everything, at the time, seemed painfully slow, the day (and this week) moved at break-neck speed. It was all a blur, with barely a moment spared in reflection. Somehow it became Friday. We're all ready for a couple of days at a self-inflicted slow pace. Not the frustrating kind... I'm thinking of the easy, summery kind where schedules are thrown to the wind and we do what ever strikes our fancy.

That slow and easy pace is something that all of us are ready to raise a glass to. The kids... well their glasses were filled with water. Mine tonight... well that will be filled with something more of the fermented variety. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The transition times are difficult for the little people. Transitioning from home to daycare in the morning and vise-versa in the evening, is trying. Ellie cries and wants to be held. Benett is whiny. Getting everyone home at the end of the day is my least favorite part of our routine right now.

Though the transition is less than ideal most nights, if I can get the two little ones distracted in play, they quickly forget that they're unhappy. Which makes preparing dinner considerably easier.

Most of the time, Benett is so engrossed in his own little world of play that quite a lot gets past him. Tonight though, he was a little more nervous. Perhaps it was the ominous looking clouds that have been hovering over us all day... Tonight he was needy. He needed his mama.

Me: trying to get out to the garage, to bring in Ellie's pacifier.
Benett: "No Mommy! Don't go."
Me: "Benett, I'll be right back. I just have to go to the car."
Benett: "But Mama*, don't leave me. I'll get lost..."

He was so scared. He was doing his best to use words to convey his message. He just didn't want to be left behind. No matter what.

Me: "I'll never leave you Benett. No matter what."
Benett: "Okay mama."

*I never really thought of myself as a "mama."
But I have to say, I love it when the little people call me that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


This year we've decided not to spend a week of our summer at the lake. It wasn't a very difficult decision to make... it's a lot of work taking three kids (especially two of them) out of their element and disrupting the routine.

The thought of Benett and Ellie missing their naps for a week is enough reason, in and of itself, to stay put at home.

Although the decision wasn't difficult, we'll still miss our getaway. There is a distinct feeling about being away on the annual summer vacation that you just don't get at home... the carefree feeling of a boat gently rocking. The tired feeling from a day of swimming and having fun. The vastly different surroundings... sounds... you know.. that vacation feeling.

Gavin is so small in this picture. I'm trying to remember how old he was... he must have been 4 (and a half). It seems like a lifetime ago that he was so small. I remember loving this moment, even though it may not look like it... I was deep in thought. Thinking about how nice it was for my boy to sit quietly and want to be held. I think I found more comfort in that moment than he did.

Maybe that's really what makes vacation week so special... realizing just how much the family you're spending time with is a comfort and a joy. And a gently rocking boat.

Monday, June 20, 2011


She's 15 months old now, and each morning when we pluck Ellie from her crib it becomes more and more noticeable that she's a little less of a baby and more of a little girl.

That transformation is fun. That transformation is bittersweet. The little baby who used to fit perfectly in the bend of my arm is now a squirming 25 pound person with opinions and ideas. (Mostly about food.)

I love my little Elle. She is a sweet child who is so strikingly different from her brothers. It's amazing and fascinating to watch her... especially the way she nurtures and cares for her babies.

I'm just a little bit surprised that she's so nurturing and loving, and that she's not completely jaded. You see, her brother is a tormenter, who seems to revel in her dismay. I'm not sure how Ellie manages to squeeze out even the smallest giggle on some days. Benett just can't leave her be... I can't even tell you how many times I say to him, "Back OFF!" Or have to physically move him away from her and distract him with another activity.

If she is happily playing with something, he needs to have it.
If she is enjoying a drink out of her favorite pink sippy cup he steals it from her.
If she's dancing, he's pushing her.
If she's sitting, he's sitting on her.
It's. Never. Ending.

She puts up with it so well. I could learn a lesson in patience... although when backed into a corner, she screams at the top of her lungs... and let me tell you... that girl has got a healthy scream. Really. It's loud. Ear piercing. So much so, that it scared Benett to tears yesterday. And to tell you the truth, I wasn't the least big upset about that. Maybe he'll think twice the next time...

A little piece of advise for you, Benett... If there are two things you DO NOT want to mess around with... Karma and a little sister. Both will eventually catch up with you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My life has been blessed with several very special people. We celebrated the dadness of two of them today.

Monte, it's true... you are a fabulous dad. You see, I don't think you really realize how amazing you are. Day in and day out, you are a steady calm place in our wild and crazy life. You are so patient. You are so loving. You are so calm. You are teaching our children great life lessons.

I'm so happy to be on this parental journey with you. I wouldn't want it any other way.

And to my dad, I love you. Always have. Always will. Words don't do justice what you mean to me... what you mean to all of us... so I won't try to tap out something that can only half say what is welling up in my heart. Just know. It's big. It's a lot.

Happy Fathers' Day. I love you both.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This week at work we had a little excitement. A little wildlife making a home in the loading dock area. These six little skunks were cute. Despite their flaws, their defense mechanisms, they were adorable. The kind of adorable that makes one actually consider what it might be like to have a skunk as a pet.

It made me think about my own little ones. How the young versions of themselves make their many flaws cute. The kind of things that on adults are considerably less cute. Need an example? I'll give you five:

  1. Benett's freakishly hairy back. He's got some serious fur. On an adult... not cute. 
  2. Ellie's habit of eating things off of the floor. Forget about the 5 second rule, she doesn't discriminate.
  3. Gavin's tendency to wear his pants entirely too high. Can you say snuggie? On an adult... not cute.
  4. Benett's inability to keep his cleavage hidden. And he isn't a plumber.
  5. They all pick their noses. I'm not proud... It's gross at any age... but somehow more forgivable when they're little.
My kids all have adorable moments. I love each of them so much... quirks and hairy backs and all. (By the way, there are more than 5 quirky things about my kids, but I'll spare you all of that today.)

Friday, June 17, 2011


It has been so much fun watching as Benett tries to figure out how to be the big boy version of himself. Each day he discovers new things that he didn't know he could do.

He's developing so fast... part of me is excited to see the transformation. The other part of me is a bit sad that my little boy is getting so independent. He hasn't been a baby for a long time, and it's clear that he isn't a toddler anymore either... *sigh...

I've enjoyed each stage of the kids' development. I can say that now. When I was in the middle of some stages it wasn't so much fun. But looking back is always a treasure. It feels good to laugh about some things that were significantly less funny at the time.

I don't remember the potty training thing for Gavin being so easy. I know I didn't help that... we didn't have a strict routine. We were too laid back for a quick transition from diaper to undies. Part of that was my doing. At the time, we weren't expecting other children. So as crazy as it sounds, I didn't mind all of the diapers. I didn't necessarily want that to come to an end.

For Benett, the routine at the Center has made the transition much quicker. He's become quite independent about the potty. He can take care of most things on his own. (Although I like to be in the room to make sure that no funny business is going on... and because watching him try to put his undies back on is always good for a laugh.)

I think I'm being brave about this transition for Benett. I'm not so sure how I'll feel when it's Ellie's turn... I'm still content for her to be my baby, and when that ends... well... I'm not sure how I'll feel.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Today I had several meetings, in a new office, with my new associates. It was fun. It was invigorating. It was an opportunity. It is an opportunity... an opportunity to reinvent myself.

In my head, this is not unlike going to college. There too, I had an opportunity to shed my identity and replace it with a new and improved version of myself.

Over the years in my current office setting and corporate culture, I've formed routines. Settled myself into a niche... with the environment, and my desire to survive in it, shaping me.

This new office presents new opportunities... to use what I've already learned about this industry that I'm involved in... lend those bits and pieces I've picked up along the way towards a new purpose... That's powerful stuff.

I'm feeling surprisingly at ease through all of this change and transition. It's all so new. Fresh. And that feels pretty good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I don't believer there is ever a time in life when we're not looking for something. Maybe we're looking for love... a calling... an answer... a thing... a purpose...

This is a relatively new discovery for me. For a time, I was under the misguided impression that all of this searching in life was more or less a phase. A temporary state. And when I figured things out, that meant I'd 'made it.'

In high school, I was looking for college.
In college, I was looking for an interest... a path to a career.
After college I was looking for direction.
As a young professional, I was looking for a career.... etc...

All of this was me looking for the life that I wanted for myself.

After we looked for and found each other, Monte and I began looking together towards the horizon for the life we wanted together.

Along the way I realized that all of this looking was never a destination. It was real life... being filled with experiences and defining who we are together and individually. I'd found that elusive thing that meant I was a grown up... Imagine my surprise when I realized that it wasn't an ending point. It was a beginning.

Although our gaze today is focused in the here and now, Monte and I are still looking... but differently. We're looking for a new way of life. Looking for different ways to work towards happiness. Looking for meaningful ways to teach our children.

We're looking in the here and now, but also forward to what comes next. Trying to anticipate some things and preparing ourselves for the things that we're not intentionally looking for, but will be discovered along the way nonetheless.

Monte and I are conscious of the fact that if we're not careful, life will quietly pass us by, if we're too busy looking for what comes next. So as uncomfortable as it may be (for me) to not know what's happening 5 steps ahead of this one... I've decided that the trick is to look for the big things... those things that are dearest to me... those things that really matter most... (the things that aren't THINGS at all) and everything else will fall into place.

And that leaves plenty of time to enjoy not only the looking, but also time to revel in the finding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


One of my favorite things is tucking the kids in to bed. Everyone is squeaky clean from their baths... they're winding down, and after a long day filled with play the pace is a little slower... everyone is ready for bed.

The routine for each is different. Each is special and suites the personality. Tonight Gavin asked me to lay with him. He was down in the dumps and just needed a little extra snuggling. I was happy to oblige. The exchange that followed is why this time is so dear to me.

Gavin: "Mom, do you know how much I love you?"
Me: "Hmmm?"
Gavin: "All the way to space."
Me: "Oh honey, I love you too."
Us: Quiet. Enjoying our little exchange.
Gavin: "Mom, you know... space goes on forever."
Me: Still. Blown away. Tearful... Grateful... Thanking God for this little boy.

He teaches me something each and every day. He is always keeping me guessing. Making me consider so much... How can someone so small have such a earth-shattering impact? How can someone so young have such an old soul? How can he be so much of my everything?

I suppose it's simple. He's my Space... after all, space goes on forever you know.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Our party preparations this past weekend involved a couple of balloon projects. We were inspired by one that I saw here, and tried to recreate our own.

We made a mini version first. You can see it hanging above Gavin. We were pleased with the results, so we moved on up to a much bigger version. That guy ended up being about 10' long. It was a monster... it was so big in fact that after it was all assembled, we didn't know how we were going to get it to fit in the van to transport it to party central. In the end, we managed to stuff it in the vehicle... but wow! It was big.

Normally, I don't let the little people play with balloons. They are dangerous, and a choking hazard. The warnings on the package clearly state that balloons are not for children under the age of 8. But in reality, the warning should say, "Balloons are not only a choking hazard, but be aware that fighting will break out within 5 minutes of opening this package. Use at the risk of your own mental health." That would be a helpful warning.

However, I was feeling brave, and let Gavin play with a couple of the leftover balloons. He used the little hand pump to blow up the balloons. Then he and Ellie would watch them go whizzing across the room. Poor Benett missed out on the fun... but come to think of it, that may be why I was feeling so brave... and why there was no fighting... go figure.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


If you listen very carefully, you'll surely hear a small sound, not unlike a sigh. It's my feet and back thanking me for sitting.

Today was a whirlwind... the kind of day filled with purposeful work doing something that was not only satisfying but fun. We celebrated Sharon's retirement after teaching for 38 years. She is so very good at what she does, and spending 38 years doing it... well that's just plain something that deserves a party!

We had a great time. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves and were so good all day long. It was a long day, but they were in it for the long haul. They also provided some of the entertainment, which is always fun to watch. (Most of the time.)

So we're all partied out. My kitchen finally looks less like a disaster area and we can actually see the counter tops. Gavin even helped me do the dishes, what a treat! I washed, he dried. There is something camling about that rhythm. We chatted... all the while our hands busy. It was good.

I'm off to tuck myself into bed. It's going to feel good to sink in... who knows, maybe I'll even be able to keep my eyes open long enough to read a chapter... if not, that's okay too.

Good night.

Friday, June 10, 2011


We're flexing our creative muscles this weekend... giving the Silhouette machine a workout in the process. (I'm loving all of the creativity that goes into making our own cards and stuff... I can't wait to finish the Chore Chart so that I can share it with you!)

Tomorrow I'll get the little people involved in flower arrangements. I'm doing my best to store up extra amounts of patience... they just love to help... so with that in mind, our arrangements are going to be rustic and countryish. The picture I have in my head is charming. We'll see what the finished product looks like though.

Even though tomorrow is Saturday, there will be no lounging about. No sleeping in. No shirtless flexing. We're going to get an early start... with all of the Farewell, Graduation and Retirement parties this weekend we'll need to stick to a schedule. But I'm determined not to feel hurried or stressed.

But before we get started on our creative-muscle-flexing weekend, I think I'll enjoy my Friday evening in a comfy chair, next to Monte. Perfect.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Miss Ellie walks a fine line. It's a balancing act to have fun yet stay out of the fray. I can see that she's always watching... learning... just taking it all in.

That sponge time is quiet time... time when she goes unnoticed by her bigger brothers. She can quietly play just out of reach.

But it's not always so much fun sitting on the sideline. There are times when you just want to get out there and do... try... be on the outside what you are on the inside.... All of those things require letting go of the candy coating, that protective shell that keeps us from melting.

Each day she grows braver. She can hold her own with Benett. And she knows how to get what she wants from Gavin. (He's a pushover when it comes to her.) But I think some of Ellie's quiet reserve is just shyness. Maybe even a little streak of introvertedness.

That's me too. Not always. But sometimes that protective candy coating is necessary for big reasons... or small ones. At times it's more productive to turn everything inwards and work my way out. It's one of the best ways I've found to sort through 'the stuff.'

As a kid, even as an adult, Dad used to tell me that I often looked mad... My response would be something like, "That's just my face. It's the way it looks." But I wasn't intentionally trying to look mad. I'm not mad in general... but perhaps preoccupied. Thinking things through... considering... apparently I'm not a smiley considerer.

That's Ellie too. She's such a serious little soul... which isn't bad at all. Serious is okay... the world needs serious... but even the serious need make sure lighten up from time to time. As she has gotten older, I really feel like she's changed in that regard. There are times when she seems to try so hard to just be one of the boys*.

Life as a mom is a learning process, there's no doubt in my mind. But I also believe that my kids have taught me more about myself than I ever could have learned on my own.

I believe that a part of my journey in this life is to let them continue to teach me as I teach them... especially Ellie... Perhaps we'll teach each other how to give thoughtful consideration, turning challenges inward and working back out, but not at the expense of having fun. We both have to learn to be smiley considerers.

* I promise, the boys do wear shirts from time to time... and Benett... well he just likes to play in his undies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I can honestly say that I've never had my toilet photographed... But Monte just couldn't let this one go unnoticed, and I'm so glad!

You see, we have a growing boy who lives in this house. Just ask him, and Gavin will tell you himself that he's an "eating machine." With that comes some not-so-great side effects. So... we've asked Gavin several times to make sure that when he leaves the facility, he's leaving it in the same flushing condition it was in when he entered.

But tonight, we were all outside, enjoying the lovely cooler weather. He was heeding my instruction... and because those gears are always turning, he knew he'd better get the message across... somehow.

Although the subject matter is... atypical... the note is priceless. I can't help laughing every time I look at it.


On Saturday we celebrated Mom & Dad's 39th wedding anniversary. It wasn't a big to-do. Just the eight of us... when Mom, Dad and Ryan arrived at our house, Gavin said, "Hey look! The gang's all here." I love the way his mind works and the phrases that he puts together as a result. Those gears are always turning.

It was a lovely night, so we celebrated as a gang of eight, enjoying our meal alfresco. It's not the night that I originally had in mind... that night was a lovely evening of adults... enjoying a drink, a meal and entertaining conversation.

I guess in the end, the night still encompassed all those things... Monte did a great job preparing our meal. (He's become quite the propane chef.) And we did enjoy a drink (or more accurately, a few) and the conversation was definitely entertaining (as were the kids).

This wasn't the event that I had in mind, but rather time spent enjoying each other... the still of the night... the warmth of the fire... the light of the moon... the laughter... the company of those you love and those who love you back. Not fancy, but still pretty nice.


We still have no internet connection at home... grrr... Hopefully, I'll be back online soon, but until then, consider this image that I found on Pintrest.

Unfortunately, I can relate to this kind of scene... the problem that I have is that the mice in my life don't confine themselves to the stairs... but I'll leave that story for another day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I promised myself that I wouldn’t lament, but I can’t help it… after all, anytime spent outside in the summer is a good thing, right? Um, no. Not on a beautifully still night, when the gnats are trying to eat you alive.

The only thing that will keep them somewhat at bay is by waving one’s hand around one’s head like a lunatic. Not a pretty picture and I can only imagine what passers-by think. It’s also quite difficult to get anything done with all that flapping.

These pests wouldn’t be so bad if they were content to just confine their high pitched whiney-buzz to a respectable distance. Instead they try to fly into my eyes, ears, nose… All the swatting and snorting wasn’t getting me anywhere…

So I tried running away from them. (Have you ever tried to run with a full watering can?) But alas, I was just winded… and they took that opportunity to fly into my gasping airway. (I think I need a little more exercise in my life.) Finally, after 10 minutes I was so frustrated that I was forced indoors.

I’m probably tempting fate, but why is it that these bothersome bugs done follow me inside? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad that they don’t, but why? They take every opportunity to buzz and bite at any exposed flesh outside, but they won’t come in… they must know better.

On the upside, this happy little face was waiting for me when I got in! Just when I thought she’d never show her smiling face for a picture, Ellie was more than happy to comply tonight. She even said, “Cheese!” (Although it sounded more like, “eeezzeee.”) Benett tried to ‘help’ her smile and show her teeth, but that wasn’t so successful (picture him prying her lips back) so we put the camera away.

We’ll work on the toothy grin tomorrow, for now, I’m ready for a cold beverage and a soft chair… all that lunatic hand waving has me worn out.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


This weekend has been wonderful! Both yesterday and today were near perfect. If I had my way, we would have spent exactly 10 minutes in the house all weekend long. Days like these are meant to be spent enjoying the outdoors.

Benett was asking to go to the garden before lunch today. We managed to distract him until after Miss Ellie went down for her nap. It was just the two of us, digging in the dirt and soaking up the sun. If not for the gnats (who must thoroughly enjoy taking their frustrations out on humans) I think I could call that time spent alone with Benett "perfect." It's about the only time all weekend that Benett was enjoyable to be around. He's taking this terrible two thing to new extremes. Unfortunately... for all of us... especially him.

While we were transplanting some raspberries, I pointed out the Lilacs to Benett. They were just so fragrant and every now and then the scented breeze would envelop us. It was lovely. When he saw the flowers, Benett said, "Oh, princess flowers." I'm not sure where that came from, but I like it. I think we'll refer to them as such from now on.

The other princess in our life also spent some time outside today. I've learned very quickly to be careful with her outside. She has such sensitive skin... A little bit of sun goes a long way with her. I've taken for granted my own tough skin... I don't burn often, and I'm not sensitive to lotions or things with fragrance or dyes... not Ellie. But thankfully, she's been okay with wearing her sun hat, so her blonde little head will be protected.

I'm not ready for the work week to begin again tomorrow. These summer days have made me selfish with my time and wanting nothing more than to be at home. The thought of spending 10+ hours cooped up inside isn't appealing... but maybe if I'm lucky, I'll be able to sneak in some fresh air in the middle of the week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Full Swing

Gavin's busy summer schedule is in full swing. There is so much going on, especially in June, that I had to create a calendar to get it all in one place. Between baseball, swimming lessons, kickball and daycare activities... he's going to be a busy guy.

I think the thing that Monte is most excited about is Gavin's gradually increasing interest in sports. Since Gavin was a baby, that's one thing that Monte has looked forward to... up until recently, it didn't look like Gavin was going to have a sports interest. But now, well now he's all about baseball... practice a couple of nights a week and at least one game a week... it's a big step in an athletic direction.

I have to admit that I'm getting into it too. I love watching Gavin and Monte playing catch. I always have... but now it's practice. Monte's giving pointers, Gavin's take some and complains about others, but he's improving.

Plus he's super cute in his uniform.

Not only are all of his summer activities important to him, but fitting in is getting to be more of a thing for Gavin... and these white pants were a big faux pas on my part... I was sent to the store with one instruction, to pick up some baseball pants. Pretty simple.

When I got there, there were two colors, white and gray. But the only medium that was left was white... no big deal, right? WRONG. At the game last night, Gavin was the only kid (on either team) wearing white pants. So, can you guess where I'll be tomorrow? Yep, that's right... shopping all over for youth, size medium, GRAY pants.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Last Day

It's finally here, summer break! We made it through first grade, with mostly flying colors. Academically, he's ready for second grade... Translation: lets hope that Gavin will mature a little over the summer, so the social development part with catch up for the next school year.

All in all, we're very proud of Gavin and all he's done. He reads at a third grade level... and he's quite the math and science whiz... which is something that is totally foreign to me. Math has always been my nemesis.

We'll be spending the next couple of days, adjusting to our new summer schedule. I know there will be lots of lego building, swimming, baseball, bicycle rides, time on the farm, kickball games, more legos, hiking, campfires, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and just kicking-back in general. We're really looking forward to it.

Too Much

Benett was just way too much for me tonight. He had me outnumbered and he knew it... It wasn't any one thing that he did to get under my skin, it was everything he did.

As a parent, I remind myself (repeatedly) to pick my battles. I think there are two sides to that... while I have to choose what to let roll off my back and what to get whooped up about... but the offender also makes a choice about when to follow the rules and when to throw them to the wind.

Well tonight, Benett took every single solitary opportunity to take a jab at me... and when he couldn't get a rise out of me, he went for Ellie.

I knew it was time for a change in tactic when Benett said, "Oh God?" Now let me say, I try really hard not to say that... Sometimes it comes out "God! (long pause) Bless America." So let's just call this little outburst of mine tonight a really short prayer.

And as they always do, in time, my prayer was answered. I managed to get both Benett and Elle in their jammies without too much drama and we went down stairs to read. It was just what everyone needed. He was compliant, funny, agreeable and fun... that's the thing about Benett that makes his terror streaks so tough... he can be just a stitch and a tender lovable kid... basically the polar opposite of naughty.

You know, I've been through this all before, with Gavin. But I don't recall the terrible twos being this maddening. But just like the pain of childbirth, some things are better when you can't remember the details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Two kids quietly playing... nobody is crying or shouting must mean that everything (knock on wood) is okay. Everyone is sharing... everyone is collaborating... everything is swell...

 It's only upon closer inspection that you notice the 'stay out of my way' kind of playing going on. Benett's technique is to use his rear to keep his little sister, and her grabby hands, far enough away from the thing he only halfheartedly wants to share.

I am convinced that this is a mechanism which is learned by children, only to be developed and perfected by adults. Sometimes things are just faster/easier/less complicated when you do them  yourself... After all, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. (Right?)

It's the same for little kids at play and big kids at the office... to keep everyone playing nice... collaborating... sharing... It's important to remember that easy isn't always synonymous with best. I don't think it matters if you're a carefree toddler or a corporate professional, pushing the halfheartedness aside is sometimes difficult thing to do.

I'm just unsure who is going to be more difficult to teach the lesson to... my carefree toddler or myself.