Monday, December 1, 2014


I was asked today what I thought about the events that have been unfolding in Ferguson, over the course of the past few months. I'm finding it really difficult to have an opinion on the topic... not just because I wasn't there, but because no matter the circumstances that have lead us to where we are today, it's a tragedy.

It's tragic because I can't consider a world where a police officer is afraid, or feels so entitled that it's within his right, to provoke another man because of who he is.

It's tragic because I can't consider a world where a young man feels that there is no better way... no other options than to provoke a man because of who he is.

It's a tragedy, because I can't consider the situation without thinking of these two boys.

These boys love each other like brothers. Not because they aren't supposed to... not because they have to... but because they want to. Differences, similarities and everything in between. I don't want to consider these two amazing boys having to live in a world that expects or tolerates anything different.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I believe that a few quiet moments, lying in the grass, watching the clouds is one of the best things a person can do for herself.

The trick is to forget all of the other things that one could or should be doing and to tune out any little people who may or may not be rough-housing in the close proximity. Just lie still, ants and bugs and creepy-crawlers be damned. Don't let those bugs convince you to opt for a chair... it's not the same. There is so much more perspective to be gained from a low, out-stretched posture.

Amongst other things, in my mini therapy session today, I learned that Hank is quite the little grasshopper wrangler. His stalking technique is second only to that of the gals.

Unlike the gals, Hank has no interest in eating these jumbo bugs, he'd much rather toss them around until they're sufficiently docile... at which time it's acceptable to roll on them.

I'm not sure why he rolls on them. They don't smell all that gross. They're hard exoskeleton is pretty rough. And they blend into the surroundings, making it tough to continue the process of rolling, without some intense post-roll searching.

After watching him for a while, I came to the conclusion, that for small dogs, rolling in a small catch... no matter what it is, is just instinct. Instinct is pretty powerful, for all of us.

As a mamma, instinct tells me which cries are induced by pain and which are simply a ruse. Instinct tells me that when three little people are playing quietly together in the next room, I need to investigate - post-haste. Instinct helps me decipher the different meaning of tears.

Instinct, combined with common sense and a heart filled with love, makes the days of being mamma a little easier... especially when one of those days has involved a lengthy lounging in the shade of a tree, under a big blue sky... with or without a grasshopper chasing dog close at hand.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


For the first time ever, Ellie left the house this morning, alone with her Daddy. She wasn't a part of a pair, she was just Ellie Bug, all by herself. She was excited to be the only one going to daycare. She was excited for a measure of autonomy.

She got herself dressed. She made sure to put her shoes on the correct feet. She selected her favorite baby to bring along. She smiled her biggest Ellie smile. She told me a silly story and gave me a hug and a kiss. She was happy for her new little solo adventure.

I wonder if she realized how much her relationship with Benett would change today...

Today was Benett's first day of Kindergarten. It's something he's been looking forward to for a very long time... he has been giving it a lot of thought... it's been worrying him a bit too.

Actually, growing up has been something that Benett worries about from time to time. I get that; I can relate. Those unknowns are scary.

One thing Benett has always known is that he has a huge fan in his sister. He's pretty fond of her too...

Up until today, Benett always had more in common with Ellie. They have this funny and special and electric connection... almost needing to be in proximity with one another.

To some degree that changed a little today. I knew it was coming... but for some reason, it still caught me off guard. I readied myself to see that little boy wearing a big backpack, walking down the long driveway, stepping on that big bus. Happy through it all... giddy with excitement.

What I wasn't prepared for was how that would change his relationship with is brother and his sister.

Being in the middle isn't easy. I am not a middle child; Monte isn't either. But I can see how it could be tough being in between the trailblazer and the baby. Not old enough to do the same things as his big brother does, and not as needy as the littlest.

Today, a bit of the 5 year age difference between Benett and Gavin was bridged. They seem to have this new secret, between just the two of them... an unspoken trust. A language that only school-age boys know how to speak.

A language that is foreign to a little sister.

She missed him today. Her friend at daycare told me as much when I came to pick Ellie up tonight. She was happy to be doing her thing, but she missed him all the same. I'm not sure it was that she didn't have her built-in playmate, that automatic, sure thing... It's that she was missing the person who got her. That person who knew what she was talking about, when nobody else seemed to understand. That person who spoke her language.

When she got in the car and Benett was there, sitting next to her, she seemed to feel relieved. Or so it seemed in my mind.

Tomorrow will be a new day. Ellie and Benett will go off, yet again, on their separate adventures, finding their own way, and with any luck they'll come back together to pick up right where they left off today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


At some point it became difficult to write about the little people and what's been going on in our lives. Not because there was anything wrong... but because it seemed as though there was nothing new.

At some point, things just seemed to be so much the same. There were none of the major milestones that happen in such rapid succession, with infants. Instead, we were just busy. Busy caring for the little people... keeping all of the plates spinning.

But all that time, there were changes. Subtle changes. Not measurable on a daily basis, but changes nonetheless. They're all bigger, that's inevitable. But there are other changes too. Things that didn't happen all at once, but were so much more gradual. The way Ellie has become so drawn to music. Her taste trends to pop, but anything will do as long as she can understand the words and dance to it.

This summer Gavin worked hard and dedicated a great deal of effort to baseball. It was fun to see him get emotionally attached to his team and the activity. He grew so much and that was as much fun to watch as his games. He's such a wonderful boy. I love him so very much. And for every bit that I love him, he frustrates me. He's just at that age... he's trying to understand the world around him and trying to come to his own conclusions. Defaulting to Mom and Dad's "way" isn't really top of mind with him right now.

That too was bound to happen and like Ellie's dancing, it didn't happen all at once, even though it feels like it sometimes. I try not to get frustrated or upset, but that's not always easy.

And Benett. My little mirror. He will be a kindergartener tomorrow. He's so ready for school. When I look into his eyes I can see that he wants to learn. His curiosity and wonder will take him to some wonderful places. I can only imagine how he will feel.

He doesn't seem frightened about this new adventure and I wasn't either. Until after his orientation, when I rushed him back to daycare and rushed myself back to work. When I finally sat at my desk it hit me.

All at once.

It wasn't incremental, it was like a ton of bricks. This boy who has always been at my knees will not always be hugging my leg. He's going to grow, little by little, no matter whether the plates are spinning or not. My job is to document as much of that as I can... even if it seems like there is nothing new.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Generally speaking, I like to be behind the camera. It's safer on that side. I like the idea of trying to preserve the life that is happening all around me, saving it for another time and place, hopefully to recall it all again... the mundane and the monumental, side by side, all weighted equally.

There is one exception to my place behind the camera, and that is on Mother's Day, when I ask Monte to help in my quest for preservation. My only requirement on Mother's Day is to have a picture taken with my little people. The people who transformed me from just your run-of-the-mill, only-as-responsible-as-I-have-to-be sort of adult-ish person into someone who's heart no longer resides safely within the confines of my chest... someone who needs to considers other's needs first and most...

Even though this picture was only taken a week ago, I already love looking back at it. It already seems so long ago. I love the little story it tells; the memory it evokes and the way it fits into the bigger narrative of our life as a family.

The shy way in which Ellie now approaches being photographed, how Benett is front and center with is tattoos emblazoned on his forearms and how Gavin seems to happily approach most things that are asked of him.

These people represent the best of me. Although I know I'll never be able to articulate to them how they are my world and that I love them always and forever (even when we aren't smiling and happy)... I hope they'll know it in their hearts... On Mother's Day and every other day, always and forever.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


This is Hank. He's new at our place.

He's very sweet. We love him to pieces. Little Hank is a Cheweenie (Chihuahua + Daschund).

Monte and I started discussing a house dog quite innocently. We were both raised with pets and want our little people to have the same experience. As a couple, Monte and I have had a few pets as well... mostly dogs; big dogs. But when thinking about a pet in our home,  a big dog seemed like something we just couldn't handle. The thought of another body in the more congested parts of our house was something I just didn't want to deal with.

We though small would be much more manageable. And a little less intimidating for Ellie, who is still very cautious around animals.

So we started looking for little-ish dogs and spotted Hank's picture on a pet-rescue site. With parents in the 9-12 pound range, we though he looked like a great size; someone we should meet.

Long story short, Hank lives with us now.

As with most puppies, Hank loves to chew on shoes (or favorite slippers). He doesn't have manners yet (although he's working on that). He doesn't like the cold (which doesn't help with the manners, specifically as it relates to doing his business OUTSIDE). And he loves to eat crumbs (and anything else) off the floor.

Even with all of those things, he's just what we needed (although I could do without the messes in the house). Some days get the best of me. Some days I'm able to give the best of me. Hank, like so many other things in my life are an exercise in patience. In my head, I hear Mr. Miyagi... "Patience Grasshopper."

Some days, I'm able to listen to that internal voice and dig a little deeper, finding a new reserve of patience. Other days.... well, let's just say, there are days when the well seems to have dried up. Those days make me sad, but we all have them. It's best to just go to sleep that evening and vow to do better the next morning. That system re-booting always works wonders.

It means everyone at my house is learning... learning to adjust... learning to be patient... learning to just stop and enjoy life, as it happens before us... mess and all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I think a lot of things in life can be compared to floating in a pool. The more you struggle and tense, the less you float. The amount of stress in your body is directly related to floatability.

But relaxing in the water is not always an easy thing to do... especially when you don't know the depth of the pool. When the water is cold. When there are a bunch of other people splashing around you.

I'm trying to believe that I'm not out of my depth, trying to relax myself and let the water support me... warming me through and rejuvenating my spirit.

That's just life. Some things are certain, and other things are not. The trick is to enjoy the time that we have in the pool and just go with the flow.

Teaching that to the little people requires daily practice. More on my part, to lead by example, than on theirs. They have the beautiful ability to lean back, relax themselves and let the water and their doting parents support their bodies as they navigate the waters and those other splashing bodies.

I suppose at the end of the day, they have more to teach me, than I them, when it comes to floating.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


There was something about being the parent of a three-year-old that made me feel like my children, and family I suppose, was a young one. We no longer have babies in the house, but somehow three seemed not so far removed from all of that baby stuff.

Now Miss Ellie is four. And when I stop and look at her, she seems so grown up to me.

The truth is, Ellie has never acted her age. She has this amazing vocabulary. It's her gift. Don't ask her to walk a straight line, or across a room without bumps or bruises... she's as klutzy as ever. Rather, ask her to describe or recount a scene and she'll do it beautifully and elaborately.

Just last week she was explaining her "opportunity to spend time swimming at the hotel." I was unreasonably giddy to hear those words... I tried to get her to say it again, this time with film rolling; I wanted so badly to capture that moment in full audio. But she was on to me. I had missed my "opportunity."

Even without the audio, she looks older. More than anything, that's what strikes me. Ellie is as tall as some of her school-aged cohorts at daycare. She looks as though she's ready for school. Combined with that amazing vocabulary, it prompts people treat her differently... people, including me. She looks older, she should know better. She should be able to do those big-kid things. She shouldn't be so emotional.

She looks older, but doesn't know better... can't do all of those things and four IS emotional. (For everyone in the vicinity.)

Reminding myself that she's just a little girl is something I do frequently. Despite how fast she's growing and changing, she is indeed a little girl. A little girl who could use some slow, quiet words of comfort, designed in size for a four-year-old.

I love being a part of her growth and witnessing her change. (Although some days are easier to witness than others.) She's so delightfully different from her brothers and in many ways doesn't act like a sibling... she has a mothering personality. I love the way she'll hold someones hand or stroke a cheek the way only a loving mother can. The way she calls the subject of her affection "honey" makes my heart melt.

She's four now. Still young. Still my little girl. I don't think any of that will change, no matter how big her words or how old she looks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Sometimes life is tough. Not fair. There are times when parts of life seem all out crummy. 

But just when things feel like they're never going to go "my way" again, something happens to highlight the preciousness of it all. As if God came through and highlighted a single line on the page of my life to show me what was right before me.

Highlighting the part that is worth fighting through the tough stuff.

Highlighting the part that is never crummy, no matter the situation.

Highlighting the essence of life... purpose.

Life doesn't always go to plan, following the straight and clear route that it "should." It winds and drifts, taking detours along the way. Introducing us to new people and places and experiences. Changing us along the way.

That process can be exciting... or frustrating... or scary... depending on the day and what's at stake. 

What doesn't change is the purpose. Keeping that purpose... essence... in full and clear view is the tough part... but the part that is never crummy, no matter the situation and at the end of it all, it's what we cherish most.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


He used to squeal with delight, as a small boy, when his mama and daddy would surprise him with a big smooch. One on each cheek, making a little boy sandwich.

He used to wear this sparkling, contagious smile at all times of the day. Especially at 5:30 AM when he'd be wide awake and ready to start his day, regardless of the sleeping habits of his adults.

He loved perching on my lap, snuggling in for as long as he could remain still. (Which was never long enough for his mama.) His hand always able to find mine, holding tight in only the way a little boy can hold his mommy's hand.

He was this little boy who emanated life and love and pure joy.

Gavin remains a happy child, but in a different way... toned down, tweenish. Lovely in his own, new way.

I don't know when it happened; maybe it didn't happen all at once, maybe it was gradual. But somewhere along the way those things that seemed to define him as a little boy have faded away. As he grew, those things about him diluted or evolved.

Back then, in the moment, I took those things for granted. Didn't soak them up the way I should have, because now that they're gone, I want nothing more than to go back and enjoy them all over again.

You see, now he doesn't really care for big smooches so much. He's okay with a peck on the cheek or forehead, but not much more. (Although he's a great hugger.) He just shows his affection differently.

He still wears a big smile and is filled with more energy than I can even imagine... but it's tempered. Still happy as only Gavin can be, just a little different.

He snuggles a bit, and will even hold my hand on occasion... when nobody is looking. (Which is never often enough for his mama.)

Last night when I went down to check on him one last time (to make sure he wasn't reading too late into the night) I realized that I couldn't recall the last time I could really give him a big smooch, without the auto-response, "Mo-ommm..." It made me miss that little boy Gavin and appreciate the 10-year-old version all at once. I also felt like all of this happened overnight.

In reality, it didn't. We were busy living life when things just began to shift.

It scares me to think that if I have this thought 10 years from now, he'll be an adult, living a new adventure.... and that.... that brings me back today and will help me to appreciate now. Smooching him as much as I can, holding his hand when I can, hugging him tightly always... regardless of the tweenish objections.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


This picture says it all.

It's been cold. Unimaginably cold.

We're in the winter weather equivalent to the dog days of summer. Where the cold and wind and snow seem endless. So conditioned are the hearty folks that live in this part of the world, that at minus single digits, it seems 'warm enough' to get the kids outside to play... bundled in layer upon layer of winter-weather gear. If only for 15 minutes.

The upside to the cold and snow and wind, is that we have these drifts that are gargantuan. This beauty has encased our small stand of apple trees, the tallest of which you can see poking through the top of the mound of snow. The smallest... well those may not reappear for quite some time. Our little barn is nearly buried as well. These snow drifts are awesome for making snow forts. The snow is hard packed and sturdy. Digging a small cave big enough to curl up in is something I recall from my own childhood. And just like all those years ago, snow forts are something that kids love.

For me, the upside to this weather is that I don't feel guilty for not being outside... doing something. I am completely content to be in the house, curled up with the little people watching a movie and working on one of those fun little projects I've collected along the way.

This project has been long overdue... every single pair of Benett's jeans need mending. He's just like his older brother (and every other boy on the planet) who has played hard enough to wear holes through the knees of his pants. And I'm just like many moms who refuse to buy new jeans when these holey ones aren't even two months old!

So, we decided to embrace the holes and add a monster mouth. Benett likes the result and I didn't have to buy any new pants, making everyone happy.

And since Benett is a creature of habit, he already has a new hole in the mended pants, and because there is no end in sight to this winter weather... I'll have plenty of time and work to keep me busy.

I suppose that makes everyone happy.

Monday, January 13, 2014


For Christmas this year, I wanted to give the little people something that was crafted for them. Made just for them, crafted with love. Made for who they are at this moment in time. That was a tough prospect for me, when it came to Gavin. He’s at an age where video games and Legos reign supreme. I wasn't so sure I could make something that he would like and use.
But for Benett and Ellie, that was an easy thing to do. They were in desperate need for a teepee. Maybe “desperate need” is a little bit of a stretch, but they need a place that is all their own, where they can be closed off from the rest of the family to do their own little thing. They have these private little conversations that only they comprehend; playing and imagining, giggling and being silly.

The teepee was the perfect size for them and all of the pillows and blankets that I imagined them dragging in. It was big enough for a mom and a dad and maybe even a big brother, if we were invited. It could be private for them, but close for me. A teepee was just what they needed.

It was easy to put together and both Monte and I were able to get into the fun. It was inexpensive, but doesn’t look ‘cheap.’
The result is a cozy little space that we spend quite a bit of time enjoying. It’s been up long enough to seem like a semi-permanent fixture, although I’m not so sure how I feel about that… but moving it down stairs to the family room would make it less accessible… less fun. So it remains in my living room, where I vacuum around it.

I imagine Benett and I cozying up with a book, buried under blankets, with pillows piled high around us. That hasn’t happened yet, only because I am unable to enter the structure without immediately growing sleepy. The softly filtered light and warmth are perfectly conducive to a little nap, for us adults. For little ones on the other hand, it’s a perfect play-scape for some fantastic adventures.

Friday, January 10, 2014


The Christmas holiday is behind us. We gathered with our loved ones, gathered in our faith, gathered in our joy.
Gathering in our faith, Benett and Ellie made an appearance as Mary and Joseph. We had a shepherd in the production as well... Gavin and the other alter server actually performed their duties as shepherds all through mass. They did such a nice job.

There are so few small children who attend our parish, yet these six children were able to keep this tradition that I recall as a child, alive. That part of their symbolism was very moving for me.

We gathered with love.
The little people were so excited to be on the cusp of a gift-opening extravaganza that everyone looked at the camera simultaneously. Nobody teased or blinked or frowned. Nobody minded having pictures taken. I wish I'd snapped even more. It may have been the miracle of Christmas in live form.

We gathered in our Christmas jammies... it's a Christmas eve tradition that my kids get new jammies to sleep in the night before Christmas. They love it, and the control freak in me can rest knowing that Christmas morning pictures will have one less thing for me to worry about.

Not all of us were able to gather for as long as I'd have liked... Poor Gavin was sick. After opening gifts, he was off to find a quite place to rest on Christmas Eve. But don't worry, his jammies were 10-year-old approved.

Yes, the Christmas season is behind us.Well behind us in fact, but I feel that though I'm only now getting caught up with the calendar. I'm always sad to see the season end, but in past years I had work that was demanding my time and attention, forcing me to begrudgingly move on to other things that needed to be done. I didn't have time to dwell.

This year I feel incredibly lucky to indulge in the season a bit longer, without the same kinds of demands on my time as previous years. I'm taking full advantage of it.

So we're still gathering. Gathering ourselves with this sustained Christmas spirit into this new year, gathering our courage, gathering our laughter and humor, gathering our patience and gathering with each other.