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.