Friday, September 30, 2011


When you're three and smallish, it's tough to not be the center of attention. Despite this fact, Benett has been so good about letting Gavin enjoy his birthday and all of the wrapped packages that go along with it.

He asks softly if he can open a gift too... gingerly taking a wrapped package from a bag... hoping that if he's quiet big brother won't notice. Not the case...

So, Benett has decided that he's going to do all of the fun things that Gavin in doing, "in a week, for my second birthday." Then he proceeds to nod his head vigorously, eyebrows raised in question... his little eyes pleading, "please, mom..."

We just nod right back at him. Silently agreeing.

But Benett won't be daunted. He works extra hard to prove that he's growing up and worthy of big-boy things... Mom and Dad brought over the tiny little two-wheel (actually four wheel) bike that Gavin learned to ride on, at their house. Benett hopped on it and pedaled away as fast as his little legs could go... he didn't look back and he didn't slow down.

Proof that he's ready for the big-boy limelight too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


At 6:35 PM Gavin turned eight.

If someone would have told me, eight years and one day ago, just what this boy would mean and how he'd fill my heart with love, I'd never have understood.

I've loved him for as long as I've known of the idea of him... the second I saw and held him, it sealed the deal. I was head-over-heels in love.

But the kind of love that I have for him was something that I couldn't fathom before his birth. Love is love, right? Not really. The love for a child is all encompassing. It's a living and breathing love that takes on a personality and shapes us... it forever changes us.

Gavin made me "Mama." He gave me my new 'name' but more than that, he gave my life a true purpose... He made two people a family and with that love, we all have shaped a life that is meaningful.

And what do the next eight years have in store? I don't have any idea, but one thing I know for sure is that I'll be happy to walk that path, with my love-filled heart and this sweet boy at my side.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The hour from 6-7 PM at our house is one of the most difficult times of the day. It's this one hour that makes me long to live next to this solitary little tree... on the prairie, in the quiet breeze.

The bewitching hour is anything but quiet. Every one of us seems to have exposed nerves. We're all overly sensitive and edgy, trying to wind down from our respective days. Each of us is tired and every single action is magnified. There is whining. A lot of whining.

As it happens, everyone is also famished my 6 PM. Everyone wants to eat, NOW. There is no patience to wait for meal preparation. There is no interest in trying new things. I bet on any given night I'll hear the words, "I don't like that!" about a dozen times.

Yet somehow, we make it through the bewitching hour. Everyone eats, more or less... eventually. Everyone settles down and into the nightly routine of clean-up and bed-time rituals. That part of the day is lovely. The little people seem to soften and become pliable. They become easy-going and dare I say compliant. That softening process is enjoyable to watch unfold.

Enjoyable, perhaps, because we're stronger and wiser from living through that bewitching hour... as opposed to going to live amongst the wild flowers and the little tree on the prairie.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My kids have learned, by being siblings, to take careful stock of their environment. They have formed a sixth sense in that regard. It's as though Gavin knows the second he’s walked into a room that Benett has played with and subsequently moved one of his most beloved possessions.

Benett likewise, has learned to keep a watchful eye on his brother. He knows that just when he’s feeling most in control, Gavin will swoop in and set things right… there is obviously an unspoken rule that little brothers never get to run the show. Ever.

This relationship, albeit challenging at times, has been wonderful (lively) to watch unfold. Seemingly from the second that Benett was born, Gavin has been protective and loving, competitive and a thoughtful all at once. I don’t think there is jealousy… I hope there hasn’t been… we’ve worked hard to see that each of these boys, because of their competitive nature, are given time and opportunities to be individuals in their own unique stage of development.

So just when they think they have this sibling hierarchy figured out... we introduce another person into the equation... and look how the whole dynamic changes! Poor Ellie... I think she's going to be a rough and tough little girl... because her brothers treat her just like one of the boys.

No children were harmed in the making of this photo story... although Benett was on the receiving end of a stern warning (again) about "neck hugs."

Monday, September 26, 2011


Some of the best things in life are those that are unexpected. Like finding that your favorite sweatshirt is warm, in the dryer, on a chilly day. Or when three little people decide to sleep in on Sunday morning.

It's getting a discount coupon email the day before a planned purchase. Or finding pretty little flowers tucked into a bend along a quiet path.

Surprises are plentiful these days. The little people seem to be surprising me on a daily basis... learning new tricks and perfecting old ones. Somehow I don't think that will change anytime soon... and it may sound surprising... but I'm okay with that.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


This weekend, we slowed ourselves down. Sometimes it's not easy to be slow... being fast is rewarded. Being fast is necessary, most of the time, to keep up with the pace of life. Being slow is a luxury...

Today our slow pace led us to an impromptu nature hike. We let the sights and sounds distract us. We stopped to watch the slow critters and find beauty in the quiet and the gentle.

It was amazing how the little people were able to be slow and quiet along with our surroundings. I knew they had the ability to be quietish... but the will?... Turns out they do.

Autumn is upon us and I'm thrilled. I love this season, with the chilling air and the turning leaves... the transformation of sight and sound... It makes me want to spend as much of my time outside as possible.

And spending that time in the woods is where we find ourselves at this time of the year. Walking along the trails with leaves crunching under foot and falling from above is therapy. The kind of therapy that give one a whole new outlook on life... that makes adults able to slow down and enjoy slow things with the wonder and amusement of a child.

And when it was all over - it was sure to end - we left that place of quiet and started to get back to reality, we were rewarded once more. This time with a slow toothy smile from the littlest person. She too was happy to have slowed... she was happy to have enjoyed the crunchy leaves and time spent discovering... it was so simple, so enjoyable... worthy of a slow little smile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It seems as though dental hygienists are notoriously brutal flossers.  Perhaps that’s just my experience. My all-too-rare date with the floss was especially painful yesterday. The hygienist almost sounded surprised when she told me that my gums were bleeding… from my vantage point, it seemed as though that was her goal.

But the floss wasn’t the best part. The hook/ice pick that she used in an attempt to take the white off my teeth was the real treat. I’ve never had a problem with the dentist. Luckily, I have decent teeth… and thus far the little people do as well. I realize how much of a gift that is. A gift worthy of diligent care… maybe just not so diligent with the floss part. (We’re working on it.) But the grappling hook she used to scrape at the exposed root on one of my teeth sent me into the rafters.

Again, she seemed surprised at my reaction when she said, “Yeah, you have some recession there. That must hurt.” Why yes… yes it did hurt.

So my exposed root and I decided to ask the dentist if there was anything to be done to help such a sensitive little tooth. To my delight, there is a treatment – varnish. “Sounds nice” I thought to myself. So I was quick to agree to a little varnish for my little peek-a-boo root.

After another spine-tingling trip to the rafters, when my tooth was rinsed and dried with the world’s most powerful air-hose, my tooth was ‘varnished.’

I don’t think ‘varnish’ is a good term. It should be called ‘horrible-tasking-smelly-UV dried-makes-your-tooth-feel-like-you’ve-just-eaten-a-very-green-banana-shellacking procedure.’ It was quick. It was mostly pain-free. And I have to admit that my little tooth feels pretty good today… despite the run-in with the ice pick.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Ten chubby little toes, perfect for telling stories about piggy’s and their journey to market – or not. Two sweet little arms contentedly wrapped around my middle. One sweet little head resting on my shoulder, softly exhaling warm breath on my neck.

These moments as mother are fleeting.

Today I find myself very conscious of every little move. Each soft touch… each gesture or twinkle of the eye... each silly word or phrase. All the while, trying to hide my fragility, telling myself to quiet my mind. Telling myself not to think about “what if…”

Today I can’t help but place myself in the shoes of another mother. One who lost her own child of 25 years... her baby. How can she breathe? How can she feel? What does her world look like in the darkness? I’m thanking God that this isn’t my reality, and feeling guilty the whole while… feeling broken for her and other mothers whose bourdon of loss is stark and real and painful.

I won’t live forever in “what if…” but today that’s just where I am. I’m letting “what if…” be the reason for inspecting toes and reading extra stories and being still and quiet and loving my children to the fullest extent of my being… because these moments as mother are fleeting.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Meal time with the little people is always interesting.

Tonight we decided to take advantage of the perfect weather and picnic at a local park. It wasn’t anything fancy… it was actually an impromptu treat. A treat for the kids, because picnics are always fun. A treat for Monte and me because there was no post-meal cleanup required.

The meal was pretty simple, just sandwiches and cheese and fruit. Easy stuff. Everyone seemed happy… even Benett ate everything. Gavin begged anyone within earshot for a ‘bite of theirs’ and Ellie bit into her sandwich with gusto.

As we were enjoying our surrounds and concentrating on our meal, Ellie began to squawk a little. I didn’t pay too much attention, to which she got louder… and started a flap her hands a little. I thought she was just excited about PB & J, who wouldn’t… but her squeaking turned to sheer panic. I started to pay attention.

This is all uncharted territory for me… but what happened next was harrowing.

Ellie had a bite of bread stuck to the roof of her mouth. She couldn’t get it down for the life of her. She was panic-stricken. I knew what I had to do… but the thought of having to stick my finger in her mouth to dislodge the bread gave me my own little panic attack.

Ellie’s not a biter… per se… but I also don’t trust that mouth full of big, solid, sturdy, sharpish teeth. But I’m the parent… so I had to. Gingerly, I poked at the roof of her mouth… nothing. That thing was stuck tight. So again, I stuck my finger in her mouth and just when the bread started to move she bit down. Yup. My finger. Yup. It hurt. I think there are still tooth indentations on my index finger.

We both learned a lesson. I learned to trust my gut… if something looks scary it probably is… precede with caution. And Ellie learned that it’s okay to bite the hand that feeds you… as long as the hand belongs to Mom.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I'm not a patient person.

I can admit that. My wiring doesn't work that way. I'm nothing like Monte... He seems to have been blessed with this bottomless reserve of patience.

I'm trying to be more like him. But learning patience is tough, and the one person I'm finding most difficult to find patience with is myself. That ironic realization was like a light bulb turning on. (Not one of the energy efficient ones that slowly turns on... but an old-fashion bulb that instantly jumps to life.)

I like to get things done. I don't like half-finished things... be it a project or a relationship or an idea. I like to put the blinders on and get things done. Check it off the list and move on to the next item. (Except while procrastinating... but that's another topic for another day.)

Now don't get me wrong. That mind set can be handy, especially in the projects arena. But when it comes to most other things, slow and methodical can be so much better. Take Monte for example. He never seems to get wound up about anything. In reality, he's processing things. Taking time to let ideas settle in and be considered. He's like a duck on a lake. On the surface looking calm and leisurely... but under water, those feet are paddling furiously.

I see Benett being more like me. (Impatient and three is not an ideal combination.) But also like me, I see him trying. Trying to not go off the deep end when things don't go his way. Looking to me for reassurance when he's not sure how to react. Trying to be more like his daddy. And I see a new reason for me to try harder to slow myself down.

Who knows, maybe both Benett and I will both be able to tame our impatience. To re-wire ourselves and be a little slower to react and a little quicker to give ourselves a break.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Can you guess what I did today?

Seventy-nine, vine ripened and beautifully bright red tomatoes were transformed into nearly 30 jars of pizza sauce, pasta sauce and tomato sauce. I now have a sauce for every occasion.

We started right after lunch and finished up just as we were setting the table for dinner. It was a long day of blanching, peeling, pureeing, stirring, filling, capping, pressure cooking and hoping.

Last February, when Gavin and I planted all those tiny little tomato seeds, I had no idea we'd have such a large harvest seven months later. It's been a bit of work, but quite satisfying. I wonder if I'll have the same feeling next weekend... there are still all kinds of tomatoes hanging on the vines in the garden.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I spent this week traveling for business. It made for long days at the office. But at the same time it was an invigorating week and the work felt important and new and exciting.

Even though I was only gone a couple of days, I missed home and my life as mom. It doesn't take long, when being away, to become twisted up in the competing demands.

When I walked into the house last night, everyone ran at me in a rush. It was a thrill to see everyone, even only after a few short days. It was wonderful to hold the little people. It was good to be back where I belong.

I'm still twisted up with competing demands, but the kind of work I do here at home is the kind that matters in such a different and important way.

Monday, September 12, 2011


He seems so old... so wise. But the exchange we had tonight reminded me that he's just a little boy. A little boy with a fanciful imagination.

Gavin: "Mom."
Me: "Yeah Gavin."
Gavin: "When I rub my eyes [hard] I can see the future."
Me: "Gavin, don't do that. You'll hurt your eyes."
Gavin: "I'm going to play chess in the future."
Me: "Okay."

I love that he can see the future. And I love even more, that of all the things 'Future Gavin' could do, chess is what he's settled on.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Twelve years ago today, I married my best friend.

He's more gray now than he was on that day. But I love that shade of gray. It speaks to all of the trials and tribulations... the happiness and joy... the tears... the laughter... it speaks of so many moments that we've lived and cherished in the last twelve years. Moments that I wouldn't trade. For anything.

It's true, Monte chews very loudly and is the world's loudest swallower. He watches an excessive amount of sports television and listens to 80's music... A lot of 80s music.

He does make up for these obvious character flaws, by doing the dishes... Lots and lots of dishes. Allowing me correct his grammar. And by putting up with me in general on a daily basis. He's patient beyond all belief. He's sweet and kind and a little sentimental.

I can't imagine a better dad or husband. I love you Monte. Let's fill the next twelve years with just as much hope and joy and love as the first twelve. (And if you want to try to swallow more quietly, I'd be okay with that.)


Lavender is my favorite flower. It's not showy. It's not grand with brilliant blooms. It's quiet. It's hardy. It smells divine.

It's sweet that the little buds grow not only in clusters at the end of each stalk, but also near the leaves... in two's and three's the little purple bulbs arrange themselves as if they can't help themselves.

I only have two plants, but I love working near them. Each time I brush up against the foliage, I'll pause expectantly for the perfume to reach my nose. That scent is instant relaxation. No matter how much trouble the little people are causing in the garden (or elsewhere) that smell makes the chaos dissipate... a little.

We had a lovely weekend. The weather was wonderful. I feel like we need to soak in these last few weeks of summer... so we spent a bit of time picking flowers and running with bare feet and our toes in the dirt. Ellie was so grubby tonight that she had to soak extra long in her bath. And I promptly scrubbed the tub after she went to bed. I had no idea such a little person could be covered with so much dirt... I try not to think about how much of it she ate.

The little ones are all in bed now. It's so quiet. It's amazing how quiet this place can be, when they're all sleeping. I think I'll venture back outside and cut a few of the purple flowers. It seems like the perfect thing to do and finish the day in relaxing style.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Some folks have rabbits or deer or aphids or potato beetles making a mess in the garden, eating everything in sight, marring beautiful fruit and killing foliage. Fortunately, we don't have any of those garden pests this year.

Unfortunately, I have a much more elusive pest. And being that our garden is organic, it's considerably more difficult to keep this pest at bay.

The other challenge that I have to consider is that this little pest is cute... and it's tough not to laugh when we catch her taking a bite of a juicy red tomato or popping a ripe raspberry into her mouth regardless of the dirt or bugs that may be on it.

Wash any of these items, and serve them up on a plate at meal time and she'll surely turn up her nose... So in an effort to get some fruit into Ellie's system, I'll most likely continue to look the other way (and giggle) as our little garden pest continues to reek havoc in the garden.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today I've felt like I'm forgetting something. You know, it's that nagging feeling somewhere in the back of your mind suggesting that there is something you've overlooked.

I've searched my memory banks and can't come up with a single thing. Sure there are plenty of things that I could have done today, which unfortunately, I just couldn't get to... most days seem to be like that lately. Yet I can't figure out this feeling that there is something else.

I'll figure it out... sooner or later. Maybe, I should take a page from Benett’s book. His 4-step technique seems to give him a very clear-cut picture of the world.
  1. Examine things very closely.
  2. Ask loads of questions.
  3. Get a snack.
  4. Take a nap. (Sleep solves so many problems.)

With any luck, I’ll wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to tackle my day so I can head into the weekend without that icky nagging feeling and a clear picture of my world. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


She's little. She's the youngest. In my mind those two things seem to be preventing my brain from comprehending that she's grown into a toddler. A toddler who is constantly watching and learning from what's going on around her.

This image is a great example.

The light was pretty in our family room on Tuesday morning, almost as if the sun were celebrating the start of school with us. Ellie's wispy yellow hair was glowing. A yellow-headed child coming from me is still something that I'm thoroughly enamored with and so I had to snap a picture of her. I wanted the image to be more eye-level, so I squatted down. She promptly did the same. So I stood up and said, "Ellie, stand up tall for mama." When she did, I squatted back down to snap my picture. She promptly squatted back down.

This little exchange repeated and I realized I'd never get her to stand up into that pretty sunlight. She was too busy doing as I did, not paying attention to what I was saying. Whoa. She's paying such close attention to us all... watching... learning... repeating.

My next conversation was with Monte about how we have to be more careful about what we say and do around this little sponge. It was very reminiscent of the moment we discovered that Gavin could decipher what we were S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G to each other. We had to either learn a new code or save some conversations for after our little super-speller was in bed.

Miss Ellie, may be smallish, but she's certainly no baby any longer. She's also forcing us to be even more mindful that our actions speak louder than our words. Luckily, I don't think she can spell Y-E-T.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Hello morning routine, I've missed you. I've missed the orderliness of you. I'm not so sure the rest of my family would agree... but me, we'll I'm happy for school-year routines and the imposed timeline that public transportation creates.

We were rusty this morning, but not bad. I made sure we had time for the requisite First Day of School Photos. It was fun photographing Gavin on his special day... he's gotten so big. As I looked at all of the photos we took and I was struck by how much he's grown since last year.

I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that he's just a little boy... because he's not at all small, physically. He also has a sense about things that makes him seem much older than his 7 young years would suggest.

Our Gavin is a very sweet and special boy, who makes me crazy at least once a day. I love him to pieces. And if I'd been strong enough not to cry, I would have said these words to him this morning, "Congratulations, Gavin. I love you so very much. I know you'll do great things, in the second grade and beyond." He would have looked at me and said, "Okay."

It seems like my heart was screaming those things... but my mouth didn't say them. Instead I gave him a hug and just said, "Have fun! And don't forget that your milk-break snack is in your backpack..." as he ran down the driveway towards the waiting bus and his future.

Then I turned around and saw these two hooligans... and I realized why I don't have clean windows. Ever.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Farewell Summer

The end of summer went out on a decided cold and rainy note.

We didn't get to much that was on our weekend wish list, with the exception of some fishing. Since our time at the lake, Gavin has been fancying himself an angler. Although the river was muddy and the day was overcast and chilly, he enjoyed his fishing time with his dad.

Autumn is seemingly upon us and truth be told, I'm happy about that. I'm happy about donning an extra layer in the form of a soft sweatshirt or sweater... and adding a heavier comforter to the bed. I'm happy that the garden is growing at a slower pace, almost as if it's waiting for me to catch up.

I did a little catching up this weekend and canned the first of our tomatoes. Seventeen pints in total. I think they look pretty. And I have to say that listening to the jars as they cool and pop is one of the most satisfying sounds.

They're difficult to see, but the little pink things on the right side of this picture are Ellie's toes. I just couldn't crop them out of the image. I love those chubby little feet. Ell enjoyed "helping" me clean and move the jars to the cellar. To tell the truth, I think she just liked all of the sound affects I was making each time she'd nearly drop a jar. I must have sucked all of the air out of the room at least twice.

So, summer is over. We're all ready for school to start tomorrow... Gavin was really getting bored. I know he'll have a great year at school. I think he'll be challenged and I'm excited to see what's in store for him.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that my house may not be as neat and tidy as I'd like it to be, for the foreseeable future. The little people seem to delight in the game, "Follow Behind Mommy and Undo the [insert cleaning term here]."

Meal time is especially trying.

Could someone tell me why meal time has to be so messy? I can't think of one single meal that can be prepared, served, eaten and cleared away without a mess of epic proportions. We had carrot sticks as a snack two days ago... and even those were messy! How can that happen?

Today, I gave in. Cupcakes. They ate. They spilled. They tossed crumbs to and fro... I say "crumbs" but with the two little ones, it's more like chunks. Both Ell and Benett have this really bad habit of putting anything they don't want to eat (or look at) on the floor. It. Drives. Me. Crazy.

Sweet Gavin isn't so messy... he won't let a crumb get away. He gobbles everything on his plate most days and then plays 'Feed the Dog' in order to get Benett to feed him things from someone else's plate. Ugh.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this. If you happen to stop by and notice that my house is a bit crumb-strewn, please just ignore it. I will be.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Plan

We're making plans for our long weekend. Nothing elaborate... maybe just a nice combination of fun and relaxations.

Perhaps we'll even mix in a little bit of work to finish up a yard project or two... but only as long as the work doesn't come at the expense of the fun.

A few of the things on our agenda...
 > Trip to the beach
 > Selecting mums for our planters
 > Daydreaming and cloud gazing
 > Fishing
 > BLTs with fresh garden tomatoes
 > Bonfire and toasted marshmallows

We'll be soaking in this last bit of summer. Running through the grass, with bare feet and shoulders, filling our reserves with liquid sunshine. All to quickly the warm summer air will chased off by a crisp Autumn breeze.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Birthday parties this year are taking on a simpler style. I'm quite sure what we'll cook up for Gavin's party yet... If you have any great ideas, let me know!

Since we celebrated part of Benett's birthday at the lake, and there were lots of cousins, we wanted to create a party that everyone could enjoy. A treasure hunt was just the thing. The older kids read the clues and everyone ran along, keeping things fast paced and fun. In the treasure box we had a bag for each child with small treats and toys.

To eat we made individual cakes in 1/2 pint canning jars. They were like cupcakes, only a little bigger, which was a hit with the boys. Sometimes a cupcake just isn't enough!

I made the cakes a few days in advance. While they were hot out of the oven, I put the lids on them to seal each cake. Then, just before the party we unsealed the jars, frosted and decorated each. The best part is that they were simple to make and were easy for big or little kids (and adults) to eat.

The decorations were very easy too. We created streamers by using a circle punch and sewing all of the resulting circles together. Easy!

We couldn't throw the long streamer away, so now it adorns Benett's bedroom walls. It adds a fun pop of color and is a great reminder of a fun day.