Friday, December 21, 2012


If my fingers hadn't been transformed into frozen appendages, I would have snapped a picture of  the gigantic drift that surrounded the hen house. Although we'd been marveling at the drift, from the warm comfort of the house, I took my time getting out to check on the gals this morning. I was procrastinating, it's true. It took some time and self-encouragement (and maybe a little chiding) before I bundled myself against the cold and wind and made my way to the coop.

I figured the gals were tucked safe and snug inside their refuge, not needing me in any urgent way. When I reached them, our hardy gals were indeed inside, but I'm sure that was due less the peaceful nature of the place and more a result of the drift that encapsulated their home.

When I was finally able to liberate them, all eleven of our feathered friends indignantly made their way from the coop. It seemed like they enjoyed their new freedom, until they discovered that their water and grain were buried somewhere in the epic drift. I'm pretty sure I could tell they were wondering why they wanted so badly to get out, when there was just more of the cold and snow outside.

After we found their feeder, the flock made quick work of the grain and then filed one by one back into their cozy little home. After all, they each have a job to do. There were three eggs neatly laid in the top-most nesting box. That place also happened to be the only spot in the coop that didn't have remnants of a blizzard. I imagine a few of the gals had a keen eye on that spot, which looked 'comfortable.'

I'm a bit surprised that the flock is as hardy as they've proven to be thus far... seemingly unperturbed, they continue to lay their precious eggs through the cold and blustery weather. I feel much less hardy... could it be that I'm getting soft-ish in my older age? Maybe I'm beginning to understand why people (and birds) long to fly south in the bitter cold and dark of winter.

But since there is no flying south for me, hardy I will become, for I too have work to do.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Santa has been a bit conflicted as of late, when it comes to the names of two little boys. You see, these boys are also conflicted... they say that they want to be on Santa's Nice list, but their actions put them firmly on the Naughty side of the margin.

I know that Santa would really like to stop at this house and bring a gift to each of the three little people that live here... but I'm not so sure that will actually happen. That's never not happened... but this year may be the first.

Santa doesn't want to hurt any feelings, but there is a reason for the list keeping. Santa is no different than anyone else... he knows the power of incentives. His incentives aren't complicated... there are no points or black-out dates. No coupons or card punches required. His plan is simple: Be honest, Follow the rules, Love one another.

I understand that sometimes those things can be more difficult to remember... and so, we parents can help to pass along reminders. Starting in late November, mine sound a little like: "Oh boy... it's so sad that Santa has to see (and hear) all of this fighting..." My volume level may fluctuate, but the message tends to remain pretty constant.

Even with all of those 'helpful' reminders... Benett and Gavin both have their work cut out for themselves, and will have to make a very concerted effort in the next several days. We've been talking a lot about compromise. But that's tough to grasp sometimes... and when competition is so fierce. I think for Gavin, compromise means "losing." Sometimes that's just what it is... and when you're nine, losing is never okay.

And then there is Ellie. She deserves a visit from Santa. She's been such a darling... helpful as can be (most of the time). Even if she tends to get noisy and bickers with Benett a bit, she's doing a great job for a two-year-old. (Even when not compared to her brothers.)

So, Santa is conflicted... will he bring a gift for only one child? Will the boys shape up and turn things around in time for a visit from the jolly elf? I'm not sure; there's only one person who knows for sure... and I hope he has an eraser on that magic pencil, because a week is a long time.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Last night, Benett and Ellie got to show off their singing skills at the holiday concert that their daycare hosts. Or perhaps they mostly just showed off... I'm not quite sure... Actually Benett knew all of his songs through and through. And, he's been singing them at every opportunity that he gets. I love the way he bursts into song in the middle of some seemingly random moment.

Of course Monte and I enjoyed watching both of them strutting their stuff. Ellie, being the oldest child in her class, stood out. The other kids are so small compared to her. I remember when she was that child, standing up front with other kids that looked so much bigger and older than her. She was just a baby. But now, she's the big kid who knows all of the hand motions to the songs and dances and wiggles up front... hamming it up for all to enjoy.

Benett was his usual self. Someone said to me, "He sure is a spark plug." That pretty much sums it up. He is indeed a spark plug. My little spark plug. I only wish he was a little less sparky every once in a while...

All of the little people, Gavin included, were on pins and needles waiting for Santa. When he walked in the door, every child in the room formed into an instant line. Nobody wanted to miss a chance to sit on Santy's lap and tell him how good they've been and list all of the things he should bring.

Even Ellie took her turn this year. She was so excited, calling out to Santy from her place in line. I was just sure when the time came, she'd lose her nerve and come over to me, not wanting to sit on Santy's lap. But she surprised me again. She sat on his lap. Told him that she wanted a baby and then asked for a candy cane. He obliged with the candy and she was happy.

When I asked Gavin to share what he said to Santa, he refused to tell me. Holding out hope that Santa is real means not telling Mom or Dad what he really wants, because Santa knows and that's all that matters.

The spark plug, being true to form, was full of the dickens. I'm not sure Santa needed to ask if he's been a good boy or not... he knows... he knows...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


In honor of today, 12/12/12, I'd like to list twelve of the thinks I'm most thankful for.

Since the people in my life could fill up the list a few times over, I'll keep this list to other pleasures. In no particular order:

  1. When the little people crawl into bed, not too early in the morning, snuggling in to catch a few more zzzz's.
  2. A meal with friends.
  3. Watching an old movie, snuggled under a blanket and falling asleep half way through.
  4. Starting a sewing/knitting/crafting project.
  5. Finishing a sewing/knitting/crafting project.
  6. Finding a dollar in my coat pocket.
  7. Chocolate
  8. The loyalty of a beloved dog.
  9. Giggling
  10. A great book that just can't be put down.
  11. The love of my husband.
  12. Silly, funny, genuine comments that come straight from a little person's heart.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I think this is the only chicken, at my house, who appreciates this change in weather. The remainder of the gals have decided to keep themselves sequestered away for a bit, only venturing out into the snow for a moment or two, before quickly making tracks back to the warmth and protection of the coop.

The little people on the other hand, couldn't wait to get out into the snow. So after breakfast we began the task of bundling everyone up into double socks, snow pants, coats, mittens and hats. The first 'bundling' of the season is always funny to me... everyone seems to forget how much work it is to get dressed for the cold.

All of the kids enjoyed themselves today. Playing in the first real snow of the season is something special. They shoveled snow for quite some time and only gave that up so that they could sled down our little hill. The snow conditions are perfect for sliding... and snowmen. The snow is sticky and holds shape just perfectly.

If you ask me, the best part of spending time outside in the cold is coming in for a warm drink. Cocoa was on order... with a handful of "smarshmallows." I fixed a mug of the warm brew for each of the little people as they came into the house.

Ellie was first in. Her cheeks were bright red, and she was a bit chilly, so Elle was excited for a warm drink. Her technique was to count and drop each marshmallow into the cup one at a time. She stirred them all up and then plucked each marshmallow out one at a time, with her spoon, to eat them.

Next into the house was Benett. He just couldn't wait to get out of his snow pants... he can be really fussy about his clothes, especially when they feel "funky." Without his funky snow pants, he was happy to sit and slurp is drink. By the time he was done, half of it was dripping from his chin.

Gavin was the last to give up the cold. When he walked into the house he was wet from head to toe... seemingly un-bothered by the wet state that he was in. He promptly sat down at the counter and dumped all of the marshmallows into his cup at once. Stirred the whole concoction up, guzzled it down as fast as he could and then ran off to watch the football game. That child is all boy and football is very important to him.

It looks like we'll be getting our share of snow today. As a result I have a feeling we'll be outside again, after naps... Actually, they'll most likely ask to go out again just as I get all of the snow gear dry and put away. But that's okay... because it will give me an excuse for another cup of cocoa later.

Monday, December 3, 2012


There is something about the chill in the Autumn air that makes me more eager to knit. I caught the bug early this season and started knitting up a few things... but that enthusiasm has tapered off. I had high hopes of knitting up a whole stack of things before Christmas, but that doesn't look to be in the cards.

In reality, there are a whole host of things that I pictured myself doing this fall and winter, but somehow none of that has come to pass. I may have slightly underestimated the amount of work it takes to stay home with little people. I'm not quite sure what I do each Monday and Friday... but I can tell you that I'm exhausted by the time everyone is tucked into bed. (And maybe even a little bit excited about going to work, so see and talk with adults...)

I can also say that my house is no where near as neat and tidy as I'd imagined it, in my idyllic little vision. But despite any of these things, I'm glad for this time with my kids. I'm appreciative of the opportunity to see a side of them that I didn't see before. And although I know this will come to an end at some point, I'm thankful for having had the chance to change my life, no matter how tired I am or how messy my house has become.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


This picture is completely out of focus, but I think it will be one of my favorite pictures of Ellie for a long time to come. This smile, this girl, is my heart.

If you meet Elle for the first time, she seems serious. Actually, if you've lived with her for the last two and a half years, she seems serious much of the time... 

But this little girl is so very sweet; she’s a happy child who’s great at going with the flow… a requirement with two big brothers who can be significantly less go-with-the-flow-ish…

But when it comes to flashing a big broad smile… well that’s a little more elusive, especially when the camera comes out. I think that is due less to her serious side, and more as result of Ellie's natural reaction to a camera, which is saying, "Macaroni and CHEESE, now can I see the picture?" Needless to say, the majority of our pictures are her either not smiling, or clearly talking. 

It's funny... even though we have so many pictures of her where her mouth doesn't seem to be smiling, her eyes clearly are smiling as big and as broad as the image above.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I'm just now getting a chance to review the school pictures that I purchased for Benett and Ellie. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that they're six weeks old and I hadn't even taken a peek.

I just can't believe how old both B and Elle look! They're not babies any more. I'm not sure when that happened... I'm not sure that I'm fully on board with this grown-up-ness.

Someone needs to tell Elle to slow down in the growing department. She's 18 months younger than B and as you can plainly see, she's just as big as he is. Ugh.

I'm finding myself caught between enjoying the little people at this stage and missing their smallness. Enjoying their new-found skills and silliness. Missing their tiny arms wrapping around my neck and the soft breath on my cheek as they drift off to sleep at night. It's funny how a single picture, like this one, can make a mama so proud and so misty all at once.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Raising kids, actually dealing with kids in general, can be a difficult thing. I want nothing more than to raise a group a kids who are strong enough and smart enough to do what's right. To be able to swim against the stream, and friends, when necessary.

Yet kids need to do dumb things, sometimes, in order to learn. I can only hope the kids who decided to throw yogurt at my car tonight are learning such a lesson. Not that they got caught... despite my transformation into a ranting old lady, lamenting the state of today's youth at the side of the road... I'm hoping they have decided on their own that they did a dumb thing, a thing that shouldn't be repeated.

I was a whipper-snapper who did dumb things once... heck, even as an adult I would like do-overs from time to time... Not being your best is a crumby feeling. A feeling that makes transforming, learning, an easier thing to do. So I'm hoping tonight there is a repentant kid who has decided that yogurt is for eating, and not for throwing. And for that kid, it seems a little bit easier to say, "that's okay... we all make mistakes... my car needed to be washed anyway."

Friday, November 23, 2012


Yesterday, I really thought a lot about being thankful... what that means to me and how to try and carry that feeling of gratitude forward in a more prominent way. I didn't spend much time thinking about the luck quotient and how being just plain lucky is something that I'm extremely thankful for.

You see the day started the way most do; nothing out of the ordinary to report. We were excited to see family and have a big Thanksgiving meal. Kids played, adults chatted... it was a beautiful day and all of us spent some time out in the sunshine enjoying the mild weather.

It was time for pie when the day began to take a detour from the ordinary. The big kids came running into the house. Gavin's cousin first. She had an urgent look on her face and sought out her father for a hushed conversation... when she pointed to Gavin, who was rushing into the house. He was holding the side of his head; blood streaming from between his fingers. He wasn't crying. He had a similarly urgent look on his face.

It seemed to be playing out in slow motion. Everything was quiet. He was trying to explain what happened, but I didn't hear him, and I couldn't figure out what the big red thing was under his hand.

That's when slow-motion stopped. Everything got noisy again and I jumped from my chair. Gavin had a big gaping wound on the side of his head. He wasn't crying...

I would have liked to have freaked out... but having a melt-down didn't seem like the thing to do. And Monte's aunt, well she's amazing. She calmly moved Gavin's hand to reveal a sizable wound on his left temple. She applied pressure and guided us to the bathroom to clean up and get a better look under the light.

It seemed to take forever to get to the emergency room. When we finally did, we were ushered right in. The pediatric doctor did an assessment and determined that there was no nerve damage and that the wound would be easy to repair. A few hours and seven stitches later, I was fully aware of the luck quotient.

Gavin was lucky that the tree branch that hit his head didn't make contact an inch to the right... or that he wasn't up in the tree when the branch gave way... or any other number of scenarios didn't come to pass.

Even though I say he was lucky, Gavin has always had a guardian angel watching over him. We know it's more than luck... luck is just an easy word to use as a description.

So, we've been successful in our attempt to carry our gratitude and sense of thankfulness with us. Although our list of things we are thankful for has grown to include luck and guardian angels.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I am indeed thankful for many things. I’ve been blessed to have a great abundance; treasures that take the shape of people… people for whom I care a great deal.

My greatest treasures are my little people. They keep me grounded in love, if not patience. And on a day like today, when I make an effort to really think about what they mean, instead of running through the day doing all of the things that need to be done, I can feel my heart overflowing with gratitude. I need to make a conscious effort to remember this feeling on the days when they are bickering and whining and making such a ruckus that there is no longer a quiet place in this house where I can retreat to for a second of peace (if not quiet).

I am guilty of not appreciating this abundance… recognizing the blessings which have been bestowed upon me and my family, on a daily basis. It takes a special day, one dedicated to giving thanks, in order to see how many gifts we’ve been given. I wish life weren’t too busy for true thanksgiving on the other 364 days throughout the year. But perhaps even if my weary mind is too tired on many nights to thank God for all that I’ve been given, my contented heart is surely giving thanks with every steady beat.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


My kids are generally healthy little people. I'm very thankful for that. I've never had to deal with chronic ear infections... which some of my friends have suffered through with their children time and again. Actually in the ear infection department, we've had two total, between all three kids... until today.

It never really occurred to me that older children can get ear infections too. And that's the case. Poor Gavin has such a sore ear. He actually mentioned it last night, when I went down to check on him, before I turned in for the evening. When he said his ear was sore, I thought that maybe he just laid on it funny... never really giving it much thought, instead chalking it up to the excitement of the night. Perhaps a sugar induced ear ache...

But when he came up stairs in the early morning hours, fighting back the tears, I knew it was something that would require a trip to the doc's office. Yep... a double ear infection. So, in one day, we doubled our nine-year ear infection tally.

It's not really how we wanted to start off our November... but, Murphy's Law always prevails... so we'll just go with it. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


If you've ever wondered what a happy Storm Scout looks like... this is it. He's grinning from ear to ear under that mask; loving every candy-filled moment. Gavin and his cousin raced from house to house tonight. We've never really let him do that kind of thing... but even though he's my little boy... he's old enough to be on his own in the neighborhood. He loved that freedom... that coupled with wearing a mask and hiding his identity was liberating. He didn't protest at all when it was time to head back to the house.

Benett tried to keep up. His little legs moved as quickly as he could make them go. Keeping up with the big boys was a challenge for him, but he did a great job. He was content to move as fast as the other kids pushed, as long as Dad wasn't too far away.

Ellie took the short route, stopping at only a couple of houses with her littlest cousin. I think she enjoyed being the big girl in the situation and encouraging her cousin to keep up.

All in all, the night was filled with fun, just as it should be. And I can count it as a success because the kids were back home... with teeth brushed, PJ's zipped up and prayers said by bedtime. Now, if I can only keep myself from peeking into their treat buckets, the night will be a complete success.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012


They have been asking several times a day, "When's Halloween?" It's safe to say that the little people are excited about their big night.

Even Elle is excited about the affair. She seems to have a better understanding of what it's all about... and more than anything, she wants to share that fun with her friends. Every time we talk about getting dressed up for tricks and treats, she asks if she'll be able to show her friends. I think she's more excited about having fun with her friends than she is about the candy.

Because she's two, and at an age where she can be fussy about what she wears, especially when it outside of the norm, I was concerned about her little get-up. But, much to my surprise, she's thrilled to wear her hat... so much so that we had a little drama tonight when it came time for bed... and removal of the hat. I guess that's better than the alternative, because without it the costume doesn't seem much like a costume.

Now, if you're thinking that she's looking pretty cute in her little hat, I'd agree. Wholeheartedly. If you also think that Benett in a similar hat would make them doubly cute, I'd again agree. Wholeheartedly. However, Benett was NOT on board with that plan. So, we're being flexible around here and costuming independently.

I guess that's okay... It's their night after all. Benett wasn't the only one being stubborn, Gavin didn't want a home made costume either. Apparently, it's so much cooler to buy one from the store. I guess that's okay... It's their night after all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It seems as though when he was a young child, Gavin would ask "Why?" about 157 times each and every day. That curiosity and hunger for knowledge still exists in him today... but in a different way. Today, he still asks "why" but it's in an attempt to get to the bottom of how things work. He isn't satisfied with cursory responses and generalizations. He needs details.

Benett on the other hand is an entirely different child. I don't recall him going through a phase where he repeatedly asked why something was the way it was... As a matter of fact, he frequently tells Monte and me that we're wrong. I'm fairly certain he says "no it's not" as much as Gavin asked "Why?". I tell myself that's just him being a confidant boy... I can say that now, because he's in bed and not telling me what to do. When I'm in the moment with him, I'm not always so rational about his know-it-all-ness.

And Ellie... well I'm not sure which end of the spectrum she'll land in. At the moment, she seems to be very content with 'because.' Things just are the way they are in her world, mostly because there is very little time when she's on her own. She has two big brothers to rely upon... and she does... for better or worse.

All of the little people have taught Monte and me quite a lot about being parents. And yet, there are moments when I feel like I did when they first placed Gavin in my arms nine short years ago... completely and utterly unprepared... feeling like being is a parent is the most mystifying and frightening thing that could happen to a person... certainly there must be some kind of certification needed to have such an important job...

And yet, each day we wake to the bright shining faces of those three kids and the first thought that races through my mind isn't terror... worry about what kind of tough questions or situations I'll find myself in that day... it's a deep and all-encompassing gratitude for having the important job of being a parent to each of them; individually and collectively.

The terror... well that comes later in the day... especially when a headstrong four-year old decides that I'm wrong and that he in fact does not need a nap. At that moment, I'm quite sure that even the highest degree of parental certification would leave me unprepared for the battle about to ensue.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Today, as I was powering through my impromptu cleaning list, all I could think about is the story by Laura Joffe Numeroff, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie. My kids love this book and the others like it... Maybe I've ready these books a few too many times, because as I was going about my business, I was narrating my own little story... a mom's variation of the story... It goes a little something like this:

If you give a mom a clean shower, she'll ask you to clean the rest of the bathroom. But since there is nobody at the house willing to listen to such an audacious request, she'll decide to do it herself.

With a clean shower, mom will notice that the rugs should be washed too. When the rugs are washed, mom decides that the floor surely could use a scrub as well. But the floor can't be scrubbed with dirty laundry piled on it, so she starts washing clothes. While she's washing clothes, mom will decide to sort out the summer things and start a box for Good Will.

Scrubbing the floor will remind mom that it's been a while since the sink and vanity have been wiped-down, so she'll clean those too. The toilet goes without saying; so that gets a little extra attention too. All of the toilet cleaning will remind mom that there are two other toilets in the house... so she cleans those as well.

At the end of all that cleaning, mom wants nothing more than to take a shower, but since it's freshly scrubbed, she opts for a cookie instead.

(If you've never read the Mouse Cookie book, the preceding will seem odd... but I promise the children's book is very cute and tops on the littlest people's list.)

I'm ready to put my feet up... and the next time Ellie asks me to read the Mouse Cookie book, I may ask her if she wants to hear my version, If you Give a Mom a Clean Shower... she'll probably say, no... because she knows that if Mom starts talking about a clean shower, chances are she'll want to clean the rest of the bathroom.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


On October 16, 2010 I decided that it was important for me to spend more of my time writing. I enjoy that creative process and since I have plenty to say about my little people... starting a blog seemed like a great way to accomplish my goals while gaining a better understanding of some techy tools.

In the last two years I've enjoyed my time in this space. The process of organizing my thoughts and trying to be creative in how those thoughts spill onto the page has become something that I crave... some days more than others... but I think that comes with the territory when it comes to writing. Some days I find my words remain tangled up and trapped in my head. The simple task of forming an interesting thought is as impossible as flight for pigs. Thankfully, my little people have a knack for helping to remedy writer's block.

But tonight, I wish I was the one with a remedy, for one of my little people. Benett, my boy with the immune system of steel, has ruddy cheeks and a fever. He's so sad and weepy, complaining about his "sore eyes and legs." He wants nothing more than to snuggle on my lap... which I enjoy, even though he's under the weather.

I think we'll take things slow tomorrow, enjoying some slow and quiet time, while soaking up all of that cuddling before he's up and running again.

Monday, October 15, 2012


There is something fantastic about fall weather. The way our usual surroundings transform into something totally different, yet familiar. The way a cozy sweater is the perfect outer layer for a walk in the woods.

We love this fleeting season, and try to soak up as much of it as we can. With that in mind, the littlest people and I decided to go on a leaf walk today. We climbed and climbed and climbed until we reached the top step on our walking path. (More than 500 steps to the top!) I was so surprised they climbed all the way to the top of the bluff. My intention was to just select leaves that we spotted along the way... knowing they would get worn out and become too tired to continue. (After all they can't seem to muster the strength to walk up the flight of stairs in our home, most days.) But much to my surprise, they were on a mission to reach the summit. They did a great job.

At the top, we searched out leaves of different color and shape. I loved the way those leaves smelled. I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but the smell this morning reminded me of something... another time and place. Benett and Ellie were oblivious to my internal revelry... they just loved picking up each leaf, examining it and adding it to the stack or discarding it... jabbering as they went.

Descending all of those steps seemed to take longer than the trip up. And true to form, both of them had spells that made it impossible to walk a single step further... so I carried each for a while. It's funny how being carried will perk a little person right up.

When we arrived home, we put our leaves into a press. I think on Friday, we'll take our flat leaves and make a little display. Not quite sure what we'll do, but something will come to me. And as for the steps, I think we'll stay on level ground for a while. My legs need some time to recuperate.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I feel like I've been away for so very long. I have no good excuse... just living a life that seems to be quite busy, from time to time.

The days pass me by in a blur most of the time... and quite honestly, most evenings when I think about booting up the laptop, something else seems to win out... sleep topping that list.

I've been enjoying the autumn with the littlest people... some days more than others... although I'm not so sure they'd say the same thing. Some Monday mornings they beg to go to daycare. Some Monday mornings I silently beg too.

Gavin and I are also enjoying some time on the weekday afternoons when he returns from school before his little brother and sister. We both love that time spent together, just the two of us. He is a different boy when he doesn't have to be a big brother.

All in all, life is good. A busy, hectic kind of good.

While I know life will remain busy for the foreseeable future... I will try to be here more. Time spent here organizing my thoughts is a little like therapy... something of which I could certainly use a little bit more.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


It's just about impossible to think about, but Gavin turned nine on Saturday. A part of him growing up, maturing, is displayed in how he reacts to exciting situations. He was cool and calm on the outside, in anticipation of his celebrations. But on the inside he was turning cartwheels. I could tell by the twinkle in his eyes.

That is the way with him... he is twinkly and bright, and at the same time wise and insightful.

His twinkly-bright self indulged in all of his favorites on Friday evening... spaghetti, football and video games. His favorite friend (who happens to be twins... they count as ONE best friend though... just ask him, he'll tell you in no uncertain terms) stayed the night. His first sleepover was a success. Although he worried about it a bit, before the big day... he what-iffed himself into a little bit of stress. In the end, it was just fine.

I have to admit that it was a little bit difficult for me to stand back a little more on his birthday; to let him run and do all of the things that 9-year-old boys do with their friends... That is, until I couldn't contain myself anymore... and when the boys were having a snack, we talked about the time of day Gavin was born. I do that on all of the little people's birthdays... hop into the way-back machine and recall that other time and place... try to bring those thoughts and feelings and places back to the surface if even just for a moment or two.

All of the boys talked about what time they were born. I think Gavin liked that... maybe it reminded him that other kids have moms who like to remember similarly odd things, like the time of day when they first met their babies and were able to look into the depths of their child's eyes and see the future. Mom's don't forget those things... no matter how wise and insightful, that is something a 9-year-old boy can't understand... yet he indulged me in my memories of that day, nine years ago... because that's the way with him.

Monday, September 24, 2012


We've been watching with fascination as a group of men make repair to the barn, across the field. They seem so at ease in such a high, steep place. Like ants marching along the peak of the roof, we watch their progress. And if we're lucky, when the wind is just right, from the North, we can hear bits of conversation and the thwack of a hammer as they chat and carry on with one another.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about how natural they seem as they go about their work, not giving a thought to being so high off the ground, not tethered to anything that might prevent disaster. Making steady progress in their task.

They're very capable and efficient. They make it look so easy as they perch on the roof. They're craftsmen and very good at their work.

I have found myself longing for that kind of sense of craft. To naturally go about a task and revel in the resulting detail... the steady progress... perhaps even making it look easy.

For this reason I'm considering, more than ever, the prospect of going back to school. It's been a nagging thought in the back of my mind for years. I've always had reasons for not doing it, and although I still have those reasons... three of them to be exact... the time feels right.

I haven't committed yet. But maybe... just maybe that will happen soon.

As for those craftsmen, they also just so happen to be Amish, which for some reason makes the way they work together seem different. Mysterious. It also makes me chuckle to wonder what they'd think about us watching them go about their work and how it's inspired an English girl (they refer to us as English... it's an us and them kind of thing...) to make a big change in her life.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I've never made grape jam before. Then again, I've never had a reason to... But this year, as I was doing a little garden work at my grandmother's, I came across quite a few bunches of grapes growing wildly in her garden. It was a little like stumbling upon treasure. I knew the grape vines were there, but didn't think we'd find so much fruit.

Gavin and I harvested as many bunches as we could find... it was a fun process... each time one of us would find more grapes, we'd give a little cheer. That is until Gavin came across the first spider. After that, he was content to be far from the garden, no matter how much fun I 'seemed' to be having.

Although they look like blueberries, there were two varieties of grapes in the garden, so we just decided to put them all into the pot together. I didn't know what to expect, but cooking the grapes down yielded a good amount of juice... and the color was just fantastic.

With pectin and sugar added, we boiled and stirred the juice, adding it to our jars as directed. It looked a bit thin, but I was sure with some time to set, by morning the jam would be thick and lovely. Not the case. And because there is no reason for several jars of grape syrup, we opened each of the jars and emptied them back into the pot to be boiled and stirred all over again... this time with fresh pectin. The second time it worked like a charm.

We have plans for each of the seven half pints that this little adventure yielded. But just to make sure the end result was worthy of gifting, we had to open one jar to give it a try. Jam on toast... I'm not sure there are many things quite like it.

And if I do say so myself, it was tasty indeed.

And the stickiest, most beautiful, color purple.

Monday, September 17, 2012


If there is a home canning equivalent to a marathon, I feel as if I've just run it... well, maybe more like a home canning 5K. I didn't decide to do all of these projects at once, but that's how things turn out sometimes. All of my projects should have been easy. For the most part, I know in my mind how long things are supposed to take... but with little 'helpers' in the kitchen, the timeline inevitably requires some adjusting.

The last few days have been filled to the brim with the last few summer projects that I've wanted to get done. Now that they are, I think I can finally put my canning supplies away. I'll be happy to not look at them for a while.

I have a few pictures to share, but not tonight. I think I'll save that for later this week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


He seems to be a carefree boy. A child who happily goes from one thing to the next, without giving things much thought at all. It seems as though he can be happy in just about any situation.

Gavin is also getting to an age where he can better disguise his feelings. I'm beginning to realize that there is so much more going on under that carefree surface than he might let on.

He's maturing, getting older... but as his mom, I find myself trying to see past this carefully composed surface to detect what truly lies below... to move the veil just a bit so I can understand what is really in his heart and on his mind. This older version of Gavin lacks some of the transparency that used to exist when he was smaller, when everything was right there on the surface... easy to detect.

I have no cause for alarm. This process seems natural... he's becoming more self-sufficient and has a good head on his shoulders. A part of growing up means learning to use those two things independently. Not an easy thing. But I'm finding out that for as difficult as that process might be for Gavin, it's equally challenging as a parent.

I'm no different than any other mom... I simply want what's best for all of my little people. Up until now, that's been a pretty easy thing to determine... but when it comes to third grade boys... well, they're more of an enigma.

Let me rephrase... it is still easy to determine what is best, even when it comes to third grade boys. The difficult part is waiting for Gavin to come to me when HE'S ready to do so. The easy part doesn't change... it's as simple as loving them. Everything else falls into place when love guides the heart.

Friday, September 7, 2012


If it's wrong of me to love this new school-year routine, I don't want to be right.

Yes, we miss Gavin during the day... But he's having a blast at school. So, we do our thing all day long and wait for him to arrive in the afternoon.

The dynamic is so much different when it's just the three of us. Benett and Ellie are so good together when it's just the two of them. They're content to play and pretend or just sit in a box... as long as it's just the two of them.

When Gavin gets home, they'll be in a different state of mind. Less willing to share a box... more apt to bicker instead. Maybe they're trying to show their big brother what they're made of, in a 'don't mess with me' kind of way. Or maybe it's just the pre-supper bewitching hour that makes people in this house go berserk.

Either way, I'm enjoying today even though I don't fit into the box.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


When one door closes, another door always opens.

Goodbye Summer

Hello Third Grader

Friday, August 31, 2012


I came across this picture on my phone today and it made me realize that summer is almost over. This photo seems like it was snapped just a few days ago, and at the time, it seemed like we had all the time in the world. The sun was warm and the air was filled with the smell of sunscreen and the sweet sound of laughter... just the way a summer day should feel.

Now the days are getting shorter and the nights turning cool. I do enjoy the transition to Autumn, but there is something about the back to school time that feels final. Like fun needs to be metered and the sunscreen put away. That must go back to when I was a kid, in nervous anticipation of the first day back to school.

There's still fun to be had and as we get back into the school-year routine, we won't let the shorter days tell us that we can't have fun just because our laid-back summer is over.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


He's four now.

When asked about the big event, he said it very simply, but very well... "I was three when I went to sleep last night. When I woke up this morning, I was four."

I've noticed him changing in recent months. A gradual, persistent shift inwards. Not in terms of his personality, he's no introvert... but in terms of his behavior. I can see him thinking things through... using his great imagination to devise these fantastical play scenarios.

His imagination seems to be running at full tilt. I can't wait to see him in the mornings, to find out what kind of animal he transformed himself into in the night. As he makes his way up to see me in the mornings, I know by the barking or the mooing what kind of animal he's going to be for the day. He tends to stay in character for the majority of the day... especially at meal times.

All of this growing and changing takes a lot out of Benett. After all, his emotions are growing and changing too... becoming more complex. He and I are both trying to figure out that change... as a result, I see this face quite often. I'm certain that the look on my face that he sees gazing back at him is infinitely less cute and much more bewildered on many occasions.

He went to sleep at night and woke up the next day a whole year older.

I went to sleep that same night, wondering if I should tip-toe down the stairs to sit at his side, as the clock mercilessly ticked and tocked, to watch his sleeping face change to that of a four-year-old. I didn't, because the rational me knew it wouldn't. The emotional me wasn't so sure... I only wanted to watch this little boy sleep... suspending time just a bit by recalling the baby and toddler and child that he was... wondering about how much different and the same he is, all at once.

He went to sleep at night and woke up the next day as a four-year-old... who was a dinosaur. So on his special day, we were a dinosaur family... especially at meal times.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Sometimes it feels good to give up... well... maybe it feels better to let go than to give up. Either way, for the first time in recent memory; perhaps for the first time ever, I've been able to let go of so many things. Things that in the long run didn't really matter anyway. Things that stole time and bandwidth only to dissipate as the current of life swiftly moved us on to the next thing.

I'd like to say this letting go thing came naturally, that it was an easy thing to do once I set my mind to it... but that's not even close to the truth. In reality, lets just say lean towards a Type A mentality. I like to know what's going on and when. I like to know what to expect and be prepared for any outcome.

I didn't wake up one morning and realize that life isn't always neat and orderly. At all. Maybe there are parts of life that could be fashioned to fit within my rigid requirements, but certainly not where my little people are concerned. (Although we ALL love a good, consistent routine.)

These little people are teaching me that there is only so much I can do to change a situation. I feel like I have less control than ever. However, I can guide most situations to an outcome that we can all live with... eventually. Before, I would have considered that any easy route... just following along... but in reality following along is not always easy. It does however, feel more like working with the current of life than fighting against it.

This whole thing is a work in progress. Sometimes I'm unable to let go as much as I should... those are the days I go head to head with Benett. We're so much alike. That likeness leaves little room for compromise on some days... so we try to find common ground.

As it happens, the chickens live on that common ground. All of the little people have come to regard our flock as their own. And although we enjoy how much they love being free to come and go on our property, they are a traveling mess.

You see, they really love to follow us everywhere, leaving a mess of trampled flowers, scratched dirt and droppings in their wake. They've also adopted the back patio as their own. I'm convinced it's because they can see us and hear our voices. It comforts then. But makes us crazy... We tried shooing them away, but to no avail. So, we've given up for now... but we're also building a fence. When it's complete, we'll let the gals out to follow us around only occasionally... I'm sure it will be an outcome we can all live with... eventually.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


We're trying to make the most of this tail end of summer. There were so many things that we had on our summer 'to-do' list that we just hadn't gotten to... so we're trying to get as much in as we can. It makes for some full weeks.

I'm not sure if it's a result of being so busy trying to squeeze in all of the fun stuff, or just because everyone is ready to get back into a school-year routine, but it seems like some fuses have become a bit short. (Mine included.) Gavin too seems to be easily frustrated with his brother. He needs a change of routine. I think the start of school will be a good thing for him.

Lately, I've also been hearing the little people say things that make me stop in my tracks. I wonder how they come up with some of the things they say... and then I realize that they're just repeaters. They repeat what they hear. Ellie especially is like a little parrot, repeating my words to the boys... correcting them when I do and even when I don't. She's becoming quite good at policing... to the boys' dismay... and mine sometimes as well.

It's funny to think about how we are reflected in our children. Different phases show different reflections... sometimes it might be a gesture or a phrase or even the way they look. And before we know it, all those things have changed and they're on to something else. It happens so quickly.

I've noticed how much Benett has changed this summer. He'll be four soon and although he still looks just the same to me as he always has, he's gotten so grown up. He acts older. He plays older. His imagination seems new and different. I hope he always remains silly though.

Those changes come fast in the little ones, but I notice now too that Gavin seems changed as well. He had a few friends over this week and to hear him interacting with them was fun for me. It was like a little window into his life that I don't get to see that often. He's normally the big brother, running the show with his siblings, but on this day it was a new dynamic.

We have a few more things to pack into our summer... and then before we know it the days will have grown shorter and the nights cooler and we'll be looking at our summer in the rear view mirror.