Monday, April 30, 2012


We've been trying (really trying) to help Gavin to be more independent. Helping him to learn how to make choices and live with consequences. Sometimes that's not an easy thing to do... after all, we just want what's best for our little people. The thing that's been toughest for me is letting them learn to make their own mistakes.

Gavin has a list of chores, that contribute to help our household run. His chores are physically easy, but necessary... sweeping the floor, feeding the dog, etc. But since all things in life are seldom clearly defined, we decided to change things up a bit and add a new one to the list... a chore that wasn't expected; making dinner one night in the week.

When we talked to Gavin, he chose Monday has his night to cook. He was excited all day long, thinking and planning his special meal. There was a lot of talk about what he knows how to make... and musing about what is out of his league. I was prepared for a dinner consisting of toast and cereal, with a side of microwaved left overs... but instead he asked for a little bit of help from Mom, to make tuna sandwiches with yogurt and apple slices on the side.

I pointed him in a few directions, and he ran with the instruction. Gavin asked questions and requested just a little help wrangling the can opener and using the oven.

The result was a tasty meal that didn't include cereal. A proud boy (and mama). A new skill learned. And a bonus for me... one less meal to prepare. I'd call that a success, any day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I didn't think about it much when I was snapping this picture, but Benett looks just like the Lorax... except for the orange fur. Don't get me wrong, Benett is furry... but his is a light-ish shade of brown. (He has the hairiest back I've ever seen on a three-year-old... poor thing...)

Also like the Lorax, this one speaks for the trees... actually, he'll speak for just about anything; most often Benett feels compelled to speak for his sister. But that won't last much longer. Ellie doesn't need a spokesman, she does just fine on her own.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Some battles simply are not worth fighting. Every day as a parent I try to remind myself of that fact. The reality is that there are days when that concept is much easier to remember than others...

But dealing with children and the occasional strife that comes along with it, is easy to understand. After all, they're trying to learn boundaries. Trying to see how much they can manipulate siblings and parents. Trying to test boundaries is a kid's job.

So we as adults choose our battles and the lessons we want to teach our little people, all in an effort to help them learn. But I think kids have a good sense for choosing battles as well.

Ellie for example, has decided that if a very persistent chicken wants to be her very best friend, it's just easier for everyone if she goes along with that plan... for today...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Sometimes the best remedy for a cluttered mind is a wide open space, playing a simple game of catch, with a little boy that you love very much.

Monday, April 23, 2012


One of my favorite parts of the bedtime routine with the little people is time spent snuggling. Some of the most straight-from-the-heart things come during this special time. Last night didn't disappoint:

Gavin: "So, Mom... what do you want to talk about tonight?"
Me: "I'm not sure. What's on your mind?"
Gavin: "Let's talk about zen garden."
Mute Me: "Eh?"
Gavin: "What is that look for?"
Still Mute Me: "Huh?"
Gavin: "Come on, Mom. Zen garden is in Plants vs. Zombies. What did you think I was talking about?"

I knew that he enjoyed time spent in the garden... and I was only a little disappointed to find out that Gavin's idea of a zen garden and mine are totally different.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I could have asked him to turn around, but I just couldn't ask him to break his concentration. Plus, this picture of the back of his head speaks volumes more than one of his face could, in that moment. He's into baseball. Big time.

So with the sun shining, a big lawn to play on, an uncle to pitch and a cousin to trade at bats with... the pick-up game today was a sure thing.

Benett tried to get into the action too... and he made a good attempt, for a while. But it's not always easy playing ball with the big boys. They were patient with him and Benett worked hard to make his little legs go as fast as they could. But in the end, he was more interested in playing inside. Some days are like that... and that's okay by me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Yesterday I had the great opportunity to enjoy lunch and then dinner with two different friends. It was lovely to chat and catch up with each.

It felt like a blessing to be able to spend time with both, chatting away... carefree. Some of our topics were light and frivolous; while others were weighty and deep... eking out and speaking the things that tumble wordlessly in one's heart. That time, even though it's spent too seldom, is precious.

All of the laughing was good for the soul. At the end of the day I felt rejuvenated and light as a feather. Like a tender green seedling, ready to stretch and grow some more... ready for a new day and new adventure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Have I mentioned that there is one person in particular who is smitten with the gals? And actually, I think for the chicken pictured here, she feels the same.

Benett has become a little chicken wrangler. And much to Ellie's chagrin, this gal follows the wrangler (and undoubtedly Ellie) around every chance she gets. That has more to do with  Benett feeding her each worm he finds (which seems to be a lot, for some reason).

Notice that the other birds are not in the frame of these pictures. That's because they're smart and don't have the same level of affection for Benett... they've opted for a cautious (borderline hysterical) approach, which also means they're not frequently found in close proximity.

For as much as Benett loves these critters, Ellie doesn't. Simply put, she freaks out whenever they come near her. She's not a fan. However, she's got a good case of the "me too's"... which means if Benett's holding a bird, she'll at least touch it. (As far from the beak as possible.)

To tell you the truth, I'm with Benett. I think the gals are really entertaining and have been a lot of fun. And what's better than pets who contribute to breakfast?

Monday, April 16, 2012


As can be the case with two cooks in an actual kitchen, these two are finding it challenging to coexist. Let me revise. I'm finding it challenging for them to coexist. You see, they don't actually seem bothered by the bickering.

There are five years between Gavin and Benett. For the longest time, Gavin wanted his little brother to play with him... He was so excited that he had a hard time understanding why, as an infant, Benett didn't want to play. It didn't stop Gavin, who became great about playing in a way that Benett could understand. Whether it was stacking blocks with the baby who just loved to knock them over, or introducing an older Benett to the wonderful world of Hot Wheels, being 'big brother' is serious business.

As Gavin is growing up, that role is changing. It's still important to Gavin to be a "good" big brother, but if you asked him what that means, I'm sure the answer would be very different than just last year.

These days Gavin's version of play is colored with a competitive shade of gray. He wants to play with Benett, but he wants to do it on his own ever changing terms... and prevail. To and eight year old boy, it seems there is nothing better than winning... It's a game has the potential to frustrate everyone but the architect.

So they argue. Monte and I interject... try to redirect... try to suggest... try to let them sort out some of their differences on their own; letting the little boy code of justice prevail. Those days have a tendency to be long... with a whole lot of parenting going on. It's exhausting for everyone involved.

Not every day is like that and when they're working together, when those two chefs are preparing their culinary masterpiece as a team, those days are so much fun for the boys. And a joy for Monte and me.

I know it's just a phase... and that this too will end. I'll even wager a guess and say that in the not-too-distant future, I'll look back on this time fondly and wonder how it changed so fast. Until then, we'll take what we can get from the chefs... knowing that many times the result will be more akin to a TV dinner than a gourmet meal.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


We're still on a sugar high here. All of that Easter candy is like a siren song to the little people.. it's tough to remain composed when in the presence of chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs and jelly beans.

Actually, for the most part the little people have been doing a really good job of enjoying in moderation. Except for Ellie's periodical appearance with the telltale chocolate ring, each are satisfied to select a small item from the basket with a clean dinner plate.

Don't tell the little people, but I'm always glad when the baskets are emptied and ready to be put away. Do you ever "help" that process along? Monte does. I think he sees it as his personal responsibility to liberate a few items each evening... armed with the logic that "they don't need so much sugar." I do find it curious that he makes that argument only when the little people are tucked into bed and sleeping.

Apparently taking candy from children is okay when they're sleeping... and when there are peanut butter eggs involved.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Three days post-surgery.
Monte recently had a little work done on his nose. A procedure called Mohs Surgery was performed on his schnoz to remove a common type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. The surgery went really well and he's on the mend, despite the shiner and the bandage. (I'll spare you the view without the bandage... which is covering 12 stitches and a long incision.)

This little detour caught us off guard. But it's a lesson we can all learn from.

We noticed the spot a few months ago... it was small and innocuous, just a red spot at first. Eventually, it started to look like a scab that wouldn't heal. It lingered. I nagged. Monte had it looked at. A biopsy came back positive. Hearing that word is unsettling... I don't ever want to feel comfortable with the word "cancer" no matter how common it might be.

As I understand it, the damage was done to his skin years ago. Back when as a youngster, applying sunscreen wasn't a high priority. Back when the cancer thing wasn't something that people gave much thought to.

Now we know. We liberally apply creams and lotions; we wear hats. This summer we'll take extra care to ensure that the little people are protected from the sun.

The doctor told us that for most men, skin cancer presents itself as an ingrown hair that doesn't want to heal. For women, a stubborn blemish. Many times, it's a spouse that notices the spot and urges a doctor's visit. If that sounds familiar to you... don't wait, see your doctor.

We feel very lucky that the outcome was successful... we'll take extra care in the summer sun and I hope you will too.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Talk of the Easter Bunny caused some raised eyebrows today. Gavin asked if I was SURE he was real... After all, "Nobody has ever seen him. Ever." Honestly, I'm mostly okay with the Easter Bunny being a made up thing... but I'm still on the fence, so we pretended he was real today, for Benett and Ellie's sake. Gavin was great about playing along.

In an uncharacteristic move, the "Easter Bunny" even hid eggs outside today. This picture says it all. They were so excited... which for Gavin translates into goofy poses when asked to "smile" for a picture. Of course the other two are little copy cats.

This weekend was filled with a few little activities and quite a bit of lazing about. I took a marvelous nap yesterday. I'm sure I'll still be raving about it next week at this time. It was delish.

We also colored some eggs, which turned out lovely. The kids had so much fun being creative. The theory of messy = creative was true yet again. I'm sure everyone will have red/blue/green stained fingers for several days. On a side note, I also now have entirely too many hard boiled eggs; which I'll be choking down at every meal for the unforeseeable future.

We've had a lot going on in our little lives as of late... all of that 'stuff' really drives home what's most important. For us that is to be healthy, happy and loved.

Easter Blessings to all of you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I've never been that person who randomly bursts into song. Except while driving solo... but that's a given. All people do that, right?

When Benett was tiny, I found myself singing to him and Gavin more and more frequently. Our repertoire is small but all of the sudden with a very talkative little girl in the house, we find ourselves singing often. It's turned into a little bedtime routine, at least with Ell. She'll run through the three little songs on her request list and then ask to go to bed.

She's even managed to get Monte involved. When ever she gets the opportunity, she's asking him to read/sing "If You're Happy and You Know It." (Or in her words, "Happy Know It.") The book is colorful and the illustrations are very cute. Benett and Ellie just love this time with Daddy.

I've never really spent too much time thinking about singing. It's such a small thing. But tonight, while Benett was in the tub, he started singing. It was so sweet and it made me realize that singing is important. It's like our little soundtrack. Complete with dancers... because undoubtedly whenever there's a song (and even when there isn't) Gavin's bursts into a dance routine. It's crazy and funny and impossible to not be happy in the midst of it all.

Monday, April 2, 2012


As the days get longer, our evening routine gets pushed out further and further... it's incremental to the amount of extra daylight. We all race home in the afternoon, to hurry through dinner, so we can all enjoy some time outside. It feels like a well deserved reward for being cooped up inside all day.

Gavin is constantly asking to play catch... give him a football, baseball, basketball... normally he'll throw any of them around. He's not choosy. But lately, the wind has captured his attention. He's all about flying kites. Tonight he had his kite so far out, it looked like a tiny spec in the sky. It was fun to watch.

Benett and Ellie are my little sidekicks in the garden. They love to dig and play right alongside me. Benett looking for things that wriggle in the dirt, while Ellie just moves soil from one place to another. She loves to arrange and rearrange things.

As dusk begins to fall, we make our way for the house. Dropping boots and shoes by the door. Clothes get strewn between the entry and the bathroom. I'm not sure why the kids feel compelled to disrobe as they walk into the house...

Off to the tub each of the kids go. They all want to be the first in... soaking with bubbles feels extra nice after such intense playing. And afterwards, snuggling with clean little bodies when we tuck them into bed, is a little treasure. I love the way their little heads smell, with just dried hair.

All of those little heads are tucked into bed; no doubt on the verge of sleep. And with those little people tucked in, maybe I'll find time for a bubble bath myself.