Monday, December 23, 2013


I'm a big fan of homemade gifts. There is something really special about the act of giving something made by your own hands. It's important for me that the little people witness the process of making and understand how those kinds of gifts are as important (and in some ways more so) than the newest electronic gadget that tends to cost way too much. It's important that they also understand how receiving a gift that's handmade is like receiving a little part of the person giving the gift.

Every year at Christmastime, I have big plans to make something for everyone on my list. Maybe the item will be significant, or maybe just a small token, but something handmade for everyone is the idea. Every year I fall short. Sometimes my problem is time; it's tough to find the time to get everything done that I would like to do. Other times it's execution, my end result doesn't match the picture I have in my mind.

My gifts typically include knitting or sewing projects and jam or other preserves from our spring and summer efforts in the garden. And although I am giving some of those kinds of gifts again this year, I did fall short of my goal yet again.

However, I did try something new. I tried my hand at vanilla extract. It was very easy to make, the most difficult part of the process being the amount of time it takes to transform from vodka to a baking necessity. But shocking as it may sound, I started the process back in October and was able to bottle my concoction over the weekend. A pretty bottle and a simple tag, and ta-dah! An easy and practical gift for the bakers in my life.

On the heels of this minor success, I should put together my plan for completing hand-crafted gifts for next year. The secret is clearly an early start! Sounds like I have a good reason to spend some additional time on Pintrest in 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013


We enjoyed our second and final Christmas concert of the season. Benett and Ellie both did a great job, belting out their respective songs, even taking some creative liberty with some of the words. It's always entertaining.

Actually, they had their songs down. Both of the littlest people took every opportunity that they had (mostly at the dinner table) to practice. And no matter how many times they repeated the festive carols, we enjoyed the performance. My personal favorite was Ellie's rendition of "Let it Snow." She can sing it beginning to end and even adds a few gestures.

Traditionally, the night of the concert is when the little people visit with Santa. The big man was there yet again and didn't disappoint. Gavin was right there with everyone else, the biggest of all of the little people... actually he was first in line. This year was the first ever that he was even willing to consider a scenario in which there was no chat with Santa.

Gavin had wresting practice that same night and was really torn between which was more important. Ultimately, he decided that if he was one of the first 9 kids in line, he'd wait his turn. If he were #10 or further back, he was willing to skip Santa and go to practice. (Apparently they were going to be working on a new move at practice, something he wasn't keen on missing.)

Ellie's desire to see Santa was solely to avert disaster. She wants a Hello Kitty toy for Christmas. Badly. When she found said toy in the back of the car, she was in shock and dismay when Monte told her the toy was for her cousin. (There were lots of tears.) Her only purpose for visiting Santa was to make sure he KNEW what she wanted, in very specific terms. Very. Specific. When Santa asked if she wanted anything else, she said, "No. Just Hello Kitty." With her wishes made known, she bounded from his lap with candy cane in hand.

I was curious to see how Benett would respond to the typical question... "Have you been a good boy?" Benett opted for denial. His vigorous nodding was compelling, if not accurate. He's trying... some days are better than others... Either way, he shared his wishes for gifts and couldn't have been more thrilled. I think the visit was more akin to a confession of sorts; clearing his conscience and creating a blank slate.

For the most part, I think we're ready for Christmas. I'm to that point where whether I'm done with my shopping and baking or not... I'm ready for Christmas itself. Ready to spend time with loved ones. Ready to enjoy Christmas morning, watching three little people happily ripping into packages delivered by Santa... finding their heart's desire in each box, excited to see and enjoy the tokens of Santa and Mom & Dad's love.

Friday, December 13, 2013


It took them longer that I thought it would, but eventually they noticed the first gift sitting all alone under the tree. They sat quietly under the glowing branches for the longest while, chatting about the parcel and trying to determine just who it was for... eventually Benett spelled it out, but only after the "to:" situation was clarified.

They've always had these quiet little talks; private discussions for just the two of them. I could sit and watch them like that, heads together, working through some important issue with their young perspectives.

I think about Benett and Ellie in terms of twins so often... twins with an 18 month introduction. Benett seems to have always felt this bond with his sister, even before he met her. He was so little, but had this funny connection with my growing belly... like he knew this secret that no one else could fathom.

Their bond is a part of who they are as individuals, although I think that means something different to each of them. I'm sure as they grown that bond will change, but I hope they're always close. I could do without some of the plotting and instigating, but I'm sure in a few years I'll look back and miss even that mischief.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Although I love the thought of a real Christmas tree, we have typically opted for an artificial version. I think real trees are so beautiful, but there is something about cutting the tree that seems wasteful. Maybe a little bit frivolous. And yet, this year we decided that we should introduce the little people to the process of cutting our own tree.

I thought it would be fun to wander through a lot, enjoying one another and considering all of the lovely trees. Ultimately, it wasn't quite so idyllic... someone was begrudgingly waking up from an impromptu nap, someone else had to go potty and simply could - not - wait. Monte was recovering from a 12-hour bug and I was upset that my perfect little tree-cutting activity wasn't going to plan. Gavin was a trooper, determined to be the best helper. (Although I think that has more to do with him wanting to be the keeper of the saw than anything else...)

We walked through the little forest of tidily groomed trees and critiqued each. This one is too small, that one is too large. One a bit crooked while another has an awkward bare spot... 

The truth is that each tree was beautifully created just the way it should be, just like each of us... flaws and all. And just like each of us, we can position the tree so that the imperfections are turned towards the back, and seem more charming than glaring... putting the best side forward.

We ultimately settled for a tree that looked to be about the right size. Ultimately, I compromised and let Benett pee in the woods. Gavin used a saw. Ellie stopped crying when she realized there was no way that Mom was going to carry her through the woods, and settled for holding hands.

We all have our flaws... but in the end that's just the way it's supposed to be. Learning to love and even appreciate them is the real treasure.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I didn't think he would like to get quite so dressed up for his school holiday concert, but Gavin appreciated dressing smartly. His attire made me appreciate the pure genius that is the tie. It possesses transformational qualities, magically imparting manners and reason, banishing rowdy and rambunctious behavior. Gavin, and his siblings by association, became models of the most refined manners.

Plus he looked handsome. (I think that handsomeness is equal parts tie and manners.)

There is something charming about a reserved child... But truth be told, I feel a little strange being around my kids when they act that way. (It doesn't happen often.) Even though they aren't reserved very often, I do find them charming being themselves. I like that each of them are comfortable in their own skin.

That's the part that I think is so fascinating as we watch Gavin grow. Each day when we think we can predict what he's going to say or how he's going to act, he throws us a curve. It's just because he's trying new things in an ongoing effort to figure himself out. He and I are alike in that regard, I suppose.

So on this day, he was a smart, reserved version of himself. Which Gavin and I both appreciated, on that day, in that moment.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I have to say, Thanksgiving this year was a big improvement over last year, if only because we didn't spend any of our day at the emergency room. It's been a whole year since Gavin earned his scar.

I say earned because when we're lucky scars come with lessons learned. Gavin will never forget how he earned his scar. I'm not sure he's attempted to climb a tree since that day... but the lesson he learned was to never climb a tree; rather he learned to be aware of his surroundings.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's his age, but Gavin seems to be a bit more careful about things. Don't get me wrong, he's still an impulsive child, I'm sure he will always lean that way... he's still rough and tumble and manages to pepper himself with bumps and bruises every day from his extreme boyishness... but he also seem more contemplative about some things. He may even worry a bit... that is something that we talk about, something that will take age and experience to help calm.

For the kid who seldom got worked up about anything, his new found concern about some situations is new. We talk about worry and what it means and how it differs from awareness and concern. I want that to be a lesson learned young.

Hopefully, in the process, I'll be able to take some of my own advise. You see, that scar that Gavin earned is part of me too. Every time I see it, I am reminded of my own lesson. How quickly things can change, how that scar on his temple is a physical representation of luck and resilience and a measure of what is really and truly important in life.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


We had reason to celebrate on Thursday; our Thanksgiving holiday was doubly festive. My grandmother, who I always referred to as Gram; who the little people have always referred to as Granny, turned 90.

It was so nice to see her, and in such great spirits. I think she was excited to see everyone... and it was a busy party.

My little people were joined by three other little people... little boys... little boy cousins... little boy cousins who Ellie was happy to give a wide berth all day long. She said she was, "Shy of them." I think it's one thing to hold one's own with two brothers... but add three cousins and there is no chance. So Ellie dined at the adult table. She was delightful. (Meaning: she didn't embarrass her parents.) And the little boys enjoyed their own accommodations, which involved Matchbox cars and talk of video games.

I think about how much Granny has seen in her 90 years. It boggles my mind a little bit to think about how much the world has changed in that amount of time. I'm so thankful that my little people have great-grandparents who can maintain that link to the past. There are so many things to learn from the past. So many things to enjoy about their elders. I know Gavin appreciates those things... the others may be too little. For Benett and Ellie, we talk about the Grandmas and the Grandpas; we visit as often as we're able... I just wish the visits could be more frequent. They'll need those visits, to keep the memories strong enough to grow with them.

It was nice to see my cousins and their little ones. I enjoy that time and it's important for my little people to know their little cousins... even though we don't see them much. It didn't take the kids long to warm up to each other. Before long they were running and playing like fast friends. Miss Ellie was content to color, which seems to be her new favorite activity.

And a party wouldn't be a party without dessert. And I have to admit, pumpkin cake could be a substitute for the traditional birthday cake fare any day! It was delicious... just ask Gavin he 'sampled' each of the dessert options.

This day was like most Thanksgivings in that it involved a bit of work and was over too quickly. We were all ready for a nap by mid-afternoon, Granny especially.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I love to read, but as a young person learning to read, it was frustrating because it didn't come as quickly or as easily as I'd have liked in the beginning. Eventually, I got the hang of things and was introduced to those choose your own ending books. I would read through them making my choices, and then re-read them making a whole new set of choices to see how different the story would be. That process eventually lead to a great love of reading.

Even with reading being something that I enjoy, when I think about teaching my kids to read, it seems like a daunting task. Both Monte and I read to the little people a lot, but when I think about all of the initial memorization work that is required by the end of the first year of school, it seems impossible.

In reality, I know it is possible... I think my disbelief stems more from thinking of my kids in terms of babies and not independent readers. In fact they are... or are becoming so...

We started reading Paddington Bear chapter books with Gavin when he was about to enter into kindergarten. He loved them and we both really looked forward to our time reading together. As he got older, we graduated to other kinds of books and would take turns reading. He reads at a break-neck pace now, which amazes me. I think a part of his success as a reader is his insatiable thirst for information. He has to know it all. (I tell him he's nosy.) It's also why he is such a great speller... Monte and I would spell out conversations to each other, when we didn't want Gavin to know what we were discussing... we did that until he'd tell us what we were spelling.

Now there is Benett. He is starting to show some real interest in reading as well. Like his brother, he too seems to enjoy reading while shirtless. (I hope that is a normal little boy thing...) He loves to be entertained and wants to be a part of the reading process, but his journey will differ from Gavin's.

We read together and have tried a chapter book; Stewart Little. That process was a little long for him... so we backed away from those bigger books and have been spending our time reading things that are manageable for him. He memorizes the words so he can read too. We started with the word "the." Each time it would occur in the text, it would be Benett's job to read that word. He enjoys being able to read along and that process is translating into recognizing the word in other texts. I love seeing his pride as he builds his reading repertoire.

I think we'll take that reading thing and carry it on in our Christmas gift for Benett. I have an idea formulating in my head... with any luck, I'll be able to execute my vision and create a fun little space just for our newest budding reader.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I'm sure it was a steady, gradual pace... but somehow, since the last time I was here, life moved along. As I was looking back, I realized that I didn't have my camera out as much as I'd have liked. I miss having images to reflect back upon. It was a reminder of just how important it is to try and capture the moments.

That being said, I thought maybe a little recap was in order.

We said good-bye to baseball, "enjoyed" a short football season and have now found ourselves with a wrestler in the house. I'm not sure Gavin is practicing his techniques so much as roughhousing. Either way, so far the sport is a good outlet for his seemingly endless supply of energy.

Two birthdays have been celebrated. There are now five and 10-year-old boys in the house. They seem very different from the younger versions of themselves.

Red Velvet cake, his favorite. And according to him, he has a "very sophisticated palette." I guess I agree that his palette and his vocabulary are indeed sophisticated.

Just as his shirt depicts, this child is a meatball. Always has been. I hope he always will be. He turned five just before the start of the school year, being on the bubble, we made the tough decision to not send him to kindergarten. Academically, he's ready. Like every proud mother, I think he's as quick as a whip. 

We just didn't want his young age to catch up with him down the road. There is enough pressure on kids in the school system, without adding an age element to the mix for Benett. 

He's loving preschool and amazes me each day with his inquisitive nature.

Speaking of nature, we introduced a few new gals to the flock. Is it weird that I think they're pretty? I may or may not tell them that. 

He's in fourth grade.
He is a very tall boy.
He can eat his weight in pasta.
He loves to read.
He's sweet and energetic and full of life.
He keeps us all on our toes.

I was a millisecond from capturing something nearly as illusive as Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster... all three of them looking at the camera. At. The. Same. Time. 

I'm convinced that it will never happen.

I'm convinced that for the next several years, if I want a picture of them all smiling and looking at the camera, photoshop will be involved.

Halloween involved a jail bird and two dinosaurs. If you're wondering why I only have a picture of 2/3 of the group, please see the line above.

Last weekend, we had a cookie baking day with Ellie's sweet Godmother, Rosemary. Ellie loves her Godmother... and chocolate spoons... needless to say, she was in heaven all day.

Life certainly did move along while I was on hiatus. Actually, the last year has been filled with change. So many things going on... life does seem like a juggling act sometimes. And like any great act, the show must go on. It may not always be pretty, but it sure is entertaining.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The summer baseball season is over for us now. I'm not sure who'll miss it more, Gavin or his adoring fans. (Monte & me and the littlest people.) We've grown accustom to spending a couple nights a week at games. It was fun to watch the boys play... and see them improve game to game.

Benett and Ellie enjoyed playing with their baseball friends... the adoring fans of Gavin's team mates. These fun, new friends kept them thoroughly entertained throughout the games.

I know Gavin needs a break, before school starts. Our summer has been moving at a break-neck pace. It will be good for things to slow down a bit... if such a notion is possible.

But in honor of our favorite game, we decided to play our own little version here at home. It's nowhere near as fun as the real thing, but it might just tide us over until our next sporting passion picks up in the fall.

Friday, July 26, 2013


He tries so hard to be just like his big brother. He's always watching. Watching the good. Watching the not-so-good. Everything seems to be absorbed.

This summer at the lake, that meant fishing was a big deal for Benett... maybe some of that was due to genuine interest, but I think mostly because fishing is a big deal for Gavin. Even though his big brother didn't want to be close by, Benett kept his on on what Gavin was doing... the bait he was using, the way he was casting his line... every last detail was absorbed.

Luckily, the fish were biting, so Benett didn't have to just watch. He got in on the action too. He was thrilled to haul in his catch, even though it looked more like bait. That didn't matter to him.

Unlike his brother, Benett had no qualms about handling his catch. He loves to get his little hands dirty and is really good about trying to experience new things. In that regard, Gavin could learn a thing or two from his little brother...

Friday, July 19, 2013


He's always been the high-flying type... the only thing that's changed since Gavin was a baby, is the degree to which he attempts to fly. He's always trying to be faster, higher, more fun than previously. (He has the bruises on his shins to prove it too.) Sometimes it seems as if he is on a quest to liberate himself from the confines of gravity.

Some things never change. He's been like this from the very start... he went right from rolling over to sitting up to walking and we've been chasing after Gavin ever since. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Yes, he wears me out. Frequently. But it's who he is. I love him to pieces for the very same reasons that I get so frustrated with him. That sounds strange to say, but it's true. I love his feisty nature, quick whit and the fact that he's smart as a whip... until those things stand between what I think Gavin should do/say/consider and what Gavin thinks he should do/say/consider.

I've always treated Gavin older than his chronological age. But things are different now... my mom-sense has been tingling... he's changing and becoming more mature. (Most of the time.)

We find our tall, lanky kid remaining to be very outgoing and gregarious, although it's tempered a bit with some shyness now. Maybe he's even embarrassed by his parents from time to time? And yet, I don't think he's quite ready to give up being our little boy... He shows us that, when he holds my hand in the grocery store parking lot or puts his arm around my waist as we walk, when he asks to sit on my lap or curls up under a blanket with me. That's when I long for my high-flying boy to freeze. If love could make the world stop spinning, the minutes would stretch on and on... I would freeze things for a few seconds more, so that I can soak it all in.

As is only natural, he slips his hand into my own on fewer occasions. Although I can almost feel the way his little hand used to feel in my own, when as a small boy... he'd squeeze my hand as he marched along next to me.

No matter how fast and how far he flies... I hope Gavin feels as though he can still do that as he grows up... Maybe he won't... But a mom can hope.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I can't say that I've been suffering from writer's block; truth be told, most of the time I don't sit down at my computer with anything specific to say... things just come. (I'm not sure if that's good or bad...)

I thought I'd been lacking inspiration in my daily life, but then again I have an abundance of fodder provided by my little people, at a break-neck pace. Life in the summer is very busy... but not so busy that I shouldn't make time for myself. So the question remains, why have I been unwilling to sit down and tap out my thoughts? I've been wresting with that for a week or two.

Today was very likely the hottest day of the summer, thus far. I think they call it 'corn-growing weather.' The hot, humid conditions are perfect for corn... we can almost watch it grow before our eyes. The weather also brought out an abundance of fireflies. Their glowing bodies were beautiful and inspiring to watch, almost like a string of twinkle lights shedding their soft glow along my path, to guide my way.

Their glowing light, in all its beauty, made me think of limits. Fireflies are beautiful and magical because of their flickering light. A slow, rhythmic, randomness that invokes sweet memories and has a way imparting a feeling of calm.

Their purpose isn't to emit a harsh or imposing light, like some neon sign set ablaze in a permanent state, because they HAVE to... doing nothing more than showing how bright they can be for as long as possible.

The fireflies reminded me of limits because today we seem to be rewarded for glowing as bright and hot for as long as possible. We always have to be ON. On our game. On the ball. Connected... We overwhelm ourselves with everything and nothing all at once, in an effort to squeeze an unreasonable amount into each and every day... taking this concept of living each day to the fullest, and pushing it above and beyond... burning ourselves out.

I feel that myself. I think the little people feel a bit of that as well.

But I want to be like the firefly; glowing in a rhythmic way, giving way only to the natural ebb and flow of life... glowing not because I feel like I have to, but because it comes naturally and it gives myself purpose and those around me enjoyment.

Some of this feeling is the result of little people who are no longer so little. They don't need me the way they used to... they still need me, but in a different way now. In some ways, their needs now are more demanding than when they were so little. They look to Monte and me for unspoken guidance, learning how to respond based on our responses.

When it comes to mothering, that urge to always have the light blazing, to be ON, is strong. There is nothing I want more, than to be a good parent. I want the best for my little people... if that only made it easy...

The fireflies reminded me that being here for my kids doesn't necessarily mean I have to fix everything... I need to be there emotionally for them, while being true to myself. I need to be next to them for the mundane as well as the monumental...I need to let them make mistakes... (gasp) Cheer when they make good choices. But in the end, I can only be the best versions of myself with limits... like those fireflies, glowing when I need to, not because I have to.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I'd like to introduce the newest members of our feathered family. In one weak moment, our flock doubled.

Actually, I've been planning on these birds for a while. I wanted to start some chicks, but didn't want to hassle with the heat lamp and all of the other things that seemed to be involved... it just seemed like a whole lot of extra work. Up until now, I was perfectly happy to have my gals grown a bit for me, bringing them home when they were better able to fend for themselves.

But honestly, I'm not sure how I ever resisted chicks before... they're really not that much more work, for now anyway. And the cute factor is out of control.

I love their little peeping sounds too... it's almost comforting... but ask me how I feel about that sound tomorrow morning... they're surprisingly loud, given their small size... but I guess that goes for all of the little things that live in this house.

Little people and little birds also have the common ability to make quite a mess. They don't seem to be able to eat without their food becoming scattered all over... and getting a drink requires full submersion. I find myself wondering how Ellie winds up with food on her forehead after most meals...

Despite the messes, I'll keep all of my messy little people and messy little peeps. It certainly makes life more interesting this way.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Today was Gavin's last day of school. I am so very proud of him and all the hard work he put into third grade. This year has proved to be a bit of a transition... He's grown up emotionally in many ways over the past year; not that things were always easy, but honestly, when are they? What I mean is that he seems to be growing up right in front of me. Some days I can feel it happening right before my eyes... Sure, he's still goofy and does some strange things sometimes, but he's a boy, so I chalk those oddities up to his gender.

I think he can feel himself changing and growing up, too. Yet in some respects he's still my little boy. I expect him to be embarrassed about his mom and dad... but oddly he doesn't seem to be. Even where his friends are concerned, he doesn't shy away from me or Monte.

He was even excited for me to come into his classroom last week to do an art project with his class. He was equally excited to have a cafeteria lunch date with me. But I'm not sure if it was so much my company, or the food I brought... but I'll take what I can get.

The art project was just a simple printing plate, made with Styrofoam. Gavin was excited to show his friends how the project worked. I really enjoy seeing him so engrossed and involved. He made several plates and showed all of his classmates how to make the plate by firmly-gently pressing a design into the foam, roll on the paint and make prints.

Watching kids create, ask questions as they go, help one another and then let their imaginations run wild is such a thrill. I must have been an art teacher in a former life...

Fourth grade is right around the corner. Gavin will be 10 - double digits - in just a few short months. I'm not sure how that can be, after all, we just brought that blue-eye'd baby home from the hospital yesterday... or so it seems. But I'm getting ahead of myself... I do that sometimes; become thunderstruck by the time that has passed... I catch myself thinking how these 9 years passed so quickly, surely the next 9 will pass all too quickly as well.

Before I know it, my mind's eye has Gavin 18 years old and a senior in high school. There is a long time between now and then... lots of time for Gavin to continue to grow... but sometimes it takes a conscious effort to convince myself that isn't right around the corner.

We have lots of time... time for him to continue to grow into the young adult I see glimpses of every so often, looking back at me with deep, wise and knowing eyes. Time for him to learn to make good decisions. Time for me to learn the best ways to guide him in his own decisions, not just my own choices iterated by a boy for his mother's benefit. Time for us to soak up one another, enjoying this time for what it is and nothing more.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I have a sweet tooth. It's a pretty severe condition, but with more than a little willpower, I'm able to keep the upper hand. (Most of the time.)

But as a kid, I recall one of my favorite things to do in the spring was to take a coffee mug from the cupboard, fill it about half full with sugar and make my way outside to the rhubarb patch. Upon arrival, I'd snap off the biggest stalk I could find, dip the freshly liberated fruit into my sugar and proceed to eat the whole thing raw.

The best part was when the rhubarb was so sour that it made the back of my mouth hurt. A close second-best part was the crunchy texture of the sugar which would combine with the juice from the fruit to make this instant syrup in my mouth. 

I wonder if my mom ever knew I did that? Maybe she suggested it? Either way, it's a great memory. But the adult in me has a hard time getting past the unwashed part... And I couldn't imagine letting my own kids get out the door with half of a mug filled with sugar. Just the thought of it makes me feel as though I should lock down my sugar canister, for fear that the little people will concoct a plan to eat unwashed rhubarb with a side of sugar.

Today I spent time at that same rhubarb patch I used to visit as a child. It's just as large as my child-sized memory recalls; filled with epic proportions of lush and beautifully blushing fruit. Even though some of the stalks are just the perfect size for dipping directly into sugar, I've traded my mug for a slightly different approach.

After a thorough washing, I added copious amounts of sugar.... I cooked and stirred. I ladled and processed. The end result being several batches of jam and preserves. Some were made with strawberries, some with blueberries.

And best of all, some were made with just with sugar alone. 

Friday, May 24, 2013


After the long winter, exceedingly rainy spring and cool temperatures, the garden is finally starting to bloom. I must say, it's a welcome sight.

The dreariness has made it difficult to be inspired when it comes to the out-of-doors... Rather than filling our time planting gardens or even photographing the changing of the seasons, we've been spending our time trying to keep water away from the foundation of the house and keeping ourselves occupied with indoor activities.

We'll all be glad to put that stuff behind us and get outside and get our hands dirty. The little people were good garden helpers last summer and I'm sure this year they'll be even more adept in their 'helping.' We did plant peas and kohlrabi about two weeks ago. Benett and Ellie really tend to enjoy that kind of stuff more than Gavin... but despite his indifference in some aspects of the garden, Gavin still sticks close by and keeps us all entertained while we're happily toiling away.

Sometimes it's as much of a challenge to keep everyone engaged as it is to complete the actual task at hand... I thought this might get easier as the little people grew... but now it's not their size that can inhibit our activities, but rather the uniqueness of their individual personalities. That said, I'm so impressed with how the boys are getting better about playing together. They're both very competitive, which makes for some touchy moments, but in general they seem to each make an effort to play 'WITH' and not 'AT' each other.

But, no matter the game, it always turns into a wrestling match in the end. And not to be left out, Ellie always jumps in (or on) the action. Sometimes the game ends in tears. Somethings it doesn't, but either way, I think the little people would agree that they'd rather be outside getting dirty than wresting inside. With any luck that will happen this weekend.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Just when I thought nothing would ever grow again, new life is bursting forth from the cool, dark soil. Each spring I become enamored with photographing asparagus. That's most likely because it grows so satisfyingly fast. Just about the time that we can't wait another second for spring to begin, the asparagus begins to grow... and in just a few day's time it goes from small purple nubs pushing through the ground, to long tender stalks.

The only thing that beats photographing the first spring veggies in the garden is harvesting them. Small though they were, I cut a few stalks to use for dinner. It was a meager side, but they were so tasty. I think that first bite made me forget all about the long, brutal winter.

So starved for the color green, the little people and I spent some time outside examining all of the growing things around us.

I love to see the wonder on their faces as they discover the details in the things that surround us. Things that we look at each and every day take a new shape when given a closer look. Even the Maple trees become special with their delicate little flowers.

Spring is certainly working its magic on us.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Some people install water features in their homes to create a relaxing environment. I have a water feature in my home, which is unfortunately NOT relaxing.

After the 12+ inches of wet snow and then a day and a half of rain that fell last week, the ground around here is saturated to the max. Luckily we have a sump pump. Unluckily, it seems to be fussy about working properly... sometimes it stays on and other times it doesn't want to kick in. The whole thing has me nervous... my environment is anything but relaxing right now.

Gavin has been a trusty co-pilot in this situation, running down to check on the situation in the basement every so often. He can be such a great help.

Even with Gavin's help, I feel like the only thing that will make the situation better is cake. Cake with a thick layer of frosting...

The cake pictured above is from Ellie's infamous water park birthday. It's just a simple box cake, that we baked and then inserted into plastic push-up containers. One layer of cake, a layer of frosting and then another layer of cake... and the best part of all, a big dollop of frosting on the top.

The cake-pops went over big with the little people last time and they sound like a good way to make me feel a little bit better about the situation going on here. After all, cake fixes so many things, stressful basement water features included.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


The daycare that the littlest people attend does some really great things with the children. One of those things is yoga. I hadn't really given it much thought... yoga seems like a great transitional activity for their morning routine, getting all of the kids acclimated after drop-off and before breakfast. Aside from helping the kids adjust in the morning, The benefits of yoga and the impact on concentration and overall health are great, yet I didn't think it had much of an impact on my little people. 

Benett, however, surprised me one day last week when he excitedly told me all about his yoga, in great detail. He was so excited to share that he decided to show me some of what he's learned. This activity is obviously much more than a transitional exercise and it's something that is having an impact.

As I sit here typing, I can't recall the names of each of the poses, with the exception of this one... this is aptly called "Dead Bug." I like his technique, specially the facial expression. Benett is great at getting into character...

There are so many parts of my kids' lives that I wish I had a bigger window into. The little things... the big things... the boring things... the thrilling things. I want to know and see it all; soak it in.

I used to have that nagging feeling daily. It would live like are dark cloud in the back of my mind. Hovering over me when I wasn't with them, but strangely, at times it would happen when I was with them, but not fully engaged... if I was giving more attention to my work. It was a little like the two parts of my life couldn't cohabitate in a balanced way.

Happily, I don't feel that way as often anymore. There is a better balance. But even so, things like this really make me wish I knew, really knew, all of the little details of each of my little people's lives. Even when they're as mundane as yoga.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


The winter has been so very long. It has felt as though spring would never come... despite the persisting wintry weather, the willow in our front yard just couldn't resist any longer. Both of the shrubs are full of soft and fuzzy catkins that are a true and real measure of springtime.

The little people were so excited to see this interesting occurrence... So much so that we decided to take a few cuttings and bring them in to dry. Maybe we'll make a wreath or add them to an arrangement... Even though I'm not quite certain how we'll use them in the future, Benett had his own immediate plans and decided to take one of the slender branches with him to bed. The catkins are a botanical replacement for the soft silky edge of his blankie that he strokes when attempting to drift off to sleep.

Now that the willow has opened my eyes, I'm seeing other signs of spring too... tender shoots of grass, the irises pushing up through the cold and wet ground, buds on the cherry trees and chickens contentedly scratching in the boundary of the yard looking for a patch of dry soil in which to bathe. All of these things seem so simple and glorious and helping to fade that memory of winter ever so slightly.

Despite my skepticism, it appears spring is here to stay... even so, we haven't put away our winter coats just yet... after all, I don't want to jinx anything.

Monday, April 22, 2013


We tried to console ourselves yesterday with some baking. It seemed the only sensible thing to do, when faced with a snowy day in April.

I think I could have cried when we rose on Sunday morning to snow... snow on the ground, snow in the air... the snow was replaced with rain later in the day... but somehow that didn't feel like much of an improvement.

The little people are taking their lack-of-spring frustrations out in a much different way. Their tactic is to refuse to sleep at night. They've got stalling down to an art form. And for an encore, they've resorted to additional late night tactics.

We're used to Ellie wandering into our room in the wee hours, but until recently, we could convince her to go back to her own bed to sleep. Not any more. She stands at the foot of the bed crying loudly, if you can call it that, until she's satisfied that we understand her frustration. After we've managed to fall back asleep, we're roused by Benett for round two, with some pre-dawn issue of his own.

I swear, when the sun shows itself, I plan to have those little people outside running until sunset... I want them to be so tired that they fall into bed and sleep from the moment their head touches the pillow until we wake them the next morning. That may never happen... but a mama's gotta dream...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I love the footie, zip-up jammies for little people. They are so warm and snugly and when the little people required late night diaper changes, they made that process a measure easier.

Now that the little people are older, they have started to express their own PJ preferences. Benett, like me, loves the footie pajamas... but for a very different reason. He uses them the way I use my purse; as a great way to take important things with me, and keep them close at hand.

It's not uncommon to see him unzip to his belly, stash a few match box cars or a stuffed animal in and zip right back up. Even when those small cars work their way down into the feet of his PJs, he remains unperturbed. Sometimes I wonder if Benett has the same problem I do, finding that lost article that is inevitably collected somewhere at the bottom of my purse?

I will say that it's always an adventure helping Benett out of his jammies in the morning. I never know what I'll find.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


This weekend, we decided it was time for Ellie to have a smart new haircut. I say that a little like we planned it... but that's not really how it happened.

It was time for a little trim, and that was our intention when we stopped at our favorite little spot on Saturday morning. But when Ellie hopped into the chair and we asked her (jokingly) if she wanted to cut off her pony tail, she said, "Sure."

"Sure..." Like it was no big deal. It had taken her three years to grow that pony tail into something that actually hung as opposed to those short little bits of hair we used to wrangle into sparse bunches which we lovingly called 'Piggy Tails.'

"Sure..." I guess it's only hair... but I will miss seeing my half-dressed little girl, pausing to play, with her wild and crazy hair trailing down her back. She'd pause only as long as it took for me to ask if I could brush her hair... and off she'd run again.

"Sure..." She can decide for herself if she'd rather have long hair or short. With summer coming, it makes sense to cut it short... it's easier that way. Even though braids are so much fun...

"Sure..." With little time to rethink the decision, off went the pony tail. The treasure was handed to me for safe keeping. I have the blondish bundle safely tucked into my hope chest... I can't part with it; not yet... who knows, perhaps years from now I'll wonder why I felt so attached... most likely I won't.

I think the reason I never planned for this hair cut is because I would over-think it. I would get sentimental... I would think about this last part of my little girl that remained from when she was a baby... and I'd find a reason not to do it. All the better to put the decision into the three-year-old's hand and let the sharp scissors do the rest.