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.