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