Sunday, December 27, 2015


Our long holiday weekend is drawing to a close. We have celebrated, we have snacked, we have ripped open packages, we have played and played and played.

No matter how much they want to deny it, the little people (and big ones too) are tired. So many late nights, so much sugar... and as much as we've enjoyed the festivities, it will be nice to get back into a bit of a routine tomorrow.

Since waking on Christmas morning and finding (much to their great surprise?) that Santa had stopped and left a few goodies, the little people have been lost in their own individual worlds of play. My living room... and sunroom... are covered with legos and toys. It makes me twitchy to have stuff all over, but no matter how I try to tidy up, there is always a little person following behind me pulling things out again. As much as it pains me to admit defeat... I think it's best to leave the pieces and parts where they are and try cleaning up another day.

Although Christmas is behind us, we're still not ready to let it go. Benett and I tried to remember all of the days of Christmas tonight at bedtime. We did pretty good until we got to eight... we couldn't recall if it was Lords a-leaping or Maids a-milking... so we decided that seven swans a-swimming was enough for us. That's the kind of thing I'll miss when we get into January and it's no longer acceptable to sing carols at bedtime.

We have a few days left in December... maybe we'll figure it out yet and get all the way to 12. And if not, we'll have a great time trying.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


About two days before Christmas I had this panicked feeling deep in my belly. I realized that there precious few hours remaining to squeeze in all of the things I wanted to do, to create Christmas memories with the little people.

It was not a logical reason for panic.

The truth is, memories are created in the times that aren't always planned. They're not always as idyllic as the imagined version, but they are much sweeter.

I hadn't planned on singing Christmas carols at bath time with Benett and Ellie. But that's when it happened. The acoustics were fantastic and we really spiced up the "five GOLDEN RINGS!" The sound of their laughter is the sweetest thing I can imagine.

I didn't plan on Benett enjoying the Christmas season without his two front teeth. I could listen to his lispy little voice for hours (if he's not whining). More than once, he sang, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth!"

It turns our he wanted more than that, and his generous grandparents obliged. He has legos upon legos and spent the entire day today assembling them. I love how he puts his mind to a task and has the ability to stick with it until it's done.

I really didn't plan for her to be such a big kid this year, but Miss Ellie isn't a baby anymore. She's tall for her age and she loves to be where all of the action is at. As a littler girl, she was content to keep up with her big brothers, but today she's a bit more independent. Benett is always close by... but I thing that's as much for his own peace of mind, as for her benefit.

The excitement that they exuded on Christmas eve was so... loud... and uniquely them. B and E were attached at the hip, and trying to soak up that rare cousin time.

Gavin is getting really tough to catch with the camera. I've been noticing that for a while now, but going through the few pictures I managed to snap in the last few days, so few include him. He is growing up... He's so tall he hid the Christmas tree behind him, in the group shot. He's almost a teenager. Almost. He teeters on the edge of child-like excitement and that teen 'try-not-to-look-excited' thing.

The truth is, no matter how much I want to make this season special for the little people, I will never be able to get everything packed into the month. I will never be able to photograph and document all of the things that make them and the season special. I hope I'll remember all of it, but that most likely will fade as well. I'm trying to be okay with that... but in case I'm not, I've already started making my list for next year.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


We gathered yesterday to bake; we do it a few times a year and the little people and I look forward to it. Every. Single. Time.

We make Chocolate Crackles, always. That's the only requirement. There are typically 2-3 additional recipes that we try. I love that it's a tradition we create together. I like that the cookbooks consulted are old and floured, passed from and to hand. The recipe cards are from my grandmother's kitchen. They're carefully written in her beautiful hand, with notes about modifications or preferences and a well placed caution to not "over bake."

At the end of cookie day, the counter is typically filled with the work of the day. Little people lingering for one last bite or a spoon to help clean up. The loot is bagged and packaged, ready for cookie jars and the freezer. It's satisfying in so many ways.

Yesterday was different. Rosemary introduced bread. The little people had never made bread and the entire process was filled with opportunities to get their little hands involved. The kneading was especially fun.

With bread rising, we moved on to the cookies. Crackles, followed by Chewy Molasses, Chocolate No Bake Cookies and a new Shortbread recipe. Though they sounded Delicious the counter never filled with rack after rack of cooling cookies. Yesterday wasn't a successful day for cookies.

It was all about the bread. It was warm and satisfying and perfect. A treat in every single way.

Despite the lack of cookies, yesterday we were fed the kind of nourishment that we really need to live in this life and know the kind of love that only these traditions can convey. This cookie-less day in the kitchen was as perfect as can be. It was food for the soul and filled me right up.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


We recently lost our dog. Jackson was a lovely part of our family. At 14 human years old, he lived a long life and had the streaks of gray to prove it. Despite the gray and the slowing of his pace, he didn't seem like an old dog to me until quite recently.

He was having such a difficult time getting around; we could see how much pain he was in, even though he tried so hard to do all of the things he's always done.

I'm glad he's not in pain anymore, but I miss him. Even now, I still look for him when I come home at the end of the day. I expect to hear him announce a vehicle in the driveway. I can almost feel his calming presence at my side when I'm in the garden. I can feel the softness of his ears.

That last day, we took a long walk. I think about it now as the long walk home. It was a beautiful morning. Hank and I walked slower and more patiently, wanting Jack to be as near as possible... soaking up as much of his presence as we could.

I have a feeling that even though he's gone, the lessons that sweet old dog taught us will continue to present themselves. Through the painful times, those filled with happiness and most of all when we consider what we're most thankful for.

Monday, September 14, 2015


His first day of school was last week. I was lucky enough to be there when he stepped off the bus, which made me grateful and sad all at the same time.

Grateful because that first day, he was a little quieter. He seemed to be reserving his thoughts for another time. In the morning, it was the nerves. I could tell by the things he didn't say.

But that same afternoon it was something else. His demeanor spoke in ways that his voice wouldn't. It was the way he examined his shoes and quickly made his way from the bus to the house. Happy, perhaps. Relieved, most certainly.

I was sad, because that one day last week isn't our routine. It's not the norm that we all enjoy... mom waiting to meet the bus, ready to absorb all of the information from the day that seems to tumble more freely from those happy-to-be-home lips. The dialog that can only occur in the quiet, unrequiring moments at snack time, before the demands of the evening routine take precedence.

In those quiet moments, everything seems right with the world. With everyone safe at home and the grumbling tummy satisfied for a few moments, things as magical and unusual as a nap can occur...

This is not my routine. No matter how much I wish it were, it is not. And so, I think I'll settle on grateful.

I'll be grateful that I was there for any small measure of comfort given to this new version of my biggest little person.

Grateful that he emerged safely from his first day at school, if a bit quieter than usual.

Grateful for the quiet moments we enjoy together, no matter how fleeting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


For the longest time, she's wanted to go to school. To be like the older, more sophisticated kids in her life. To learn things. To meet new friends. To garner a new audience.

It's tough to be the smallest of three. It's not easy to see the two people you love most in the world, go off and see and do so many fun and fabulous things.

Not today. As of today, the time for waiting is for someone else. Miss Ellie went to school.

Her subconscious woke her up early. She sat upright in my bed at approximately 4:44 AM and said, "How did I get here? Am I awake? I must have been slept-walking."

Her bewilderment quickly turned to excitement and the inevitable next question, "Is it time to get dressed yet?" It wasn't. And with the thunder and rain, I wasn't eager to get out of bed anytime soon... first day or not.

She helped to put the boys on the bus and settled in to enjoy breakfast with mom and dad. (She really enjoys that alone time, in metered doses.)

Thankfully for both of us, Ellie's first day was a half day with parents. I tried to soak it all in, but had this feeling that I wasn't doing it quite right... I must have snapped a few dozen pictures, some of the most mundane tasks. Other things, it didn't occur to me to take a picture at all. (Right about now, I'm wishing I had a picture of her holding that too-big lunch tray... or wrestling with the milk carton to get it open.)

We came home and promptly did her homework; an part project. She was in heaven, coloring and drawing with a fervor I haven't seen in a while. That new excitement and responsibility is fun to see. I know kindergarten is going to be a great time for Ellie... and I think I'll enjoy it as well, provided I can do a better job of living in the moment, right alongside her, and not looking off too far into the distance. After all, I know how fast this time goes... it won't slow no matter how much I wish it would.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


This picture might be one of my summer favorites. No, I'm not that self-absorbed... As a rule, I don't like being photographed. I feel like a gawky-gangly thing. Awkward.

The picture isn't particularly flattering, but he's in it. And that never happens. Never. I prefer the business side of the camera, but what about him? Well, he prefers anything that is outside of the scene I'm framing up. Anything.

But the icing on the cake is that he's got an almost-smile on his face. You know the one... the kind where an almost-teenager is having an almost-good time... and almost doesn't want anyone to know it. Almost.

This never happens; the stars must have been aligned.

I would be happier with this photo if it were cropped differently... you see, the parts of it that I like best aren't the focal points. I love Gavin's face and remembering the way he looks in the middle of the summer... that's when the white pigmented spot on his left cheek shows itself. It's how I know he has a proper summer glow.

I love the way he's not just sitting next to me, but leaning on me. I love that even if he can't always tell me that he needs me, his body language does the talking for him.

And I love the hand on his shoulder. I'm such a fan of hands... hands have this ability to tell the best parts of their owner's stories... and mine is trying to tell you how much I love this boy and that even though I want to hold onto him forever and ever, I cannot. My hand can linger on his shoulder to help guide and direct and comfort... but my time for holding seems to have passed.

This seldom happens, but I wish it would again.

Benett actually captured this moment. He was so excited to do so, and despite the weight of the camera and being on a swaying boat, he did what is rarely possible on dry land in ideal conditions. He managed to eek a smile out of an almost-teenager and get his mom to forget how much she hates being photographed.

And that is a rare thing indeed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I think I love this picture so much because I can hear the happiness. The slow smooth sound of the reels working, the zip of a line being cast into the lake, the lapping of the water, the quiet sound of boys chatting about the things that matter most... or saying nothing at all... being completely in the moment and comfortably in their element.

They are joyfully present.

That seems like a rarity - being completely in the moment. People don't do that anymore. We are mentally rushing off to the next thing, ticking off the bullet points on our mental to-do lists. It all happens in the name of efficiency... it's all very innocent, but before it even occurs to us to think about where we are, we've missed the essence of being present.

There is a lesson to be learned from boys on a sun-warmed dock.

I'm guilty of it myself. There are so many things I want to do... so many things I need to fit into a 24 hour period... I'll push and jostle, scrimp and rush... I'll multitask like a pro, all in the name of getting things 'done.' But at the end of it all, what does that mean? Have I set a good example? What have I really accomplished?

The ones teaching the lessons worth learning are right where they should be... body, mind and spirit.

Even after the long, slowish days of summer are replaced with the crisp fall breeze, I'll try to remind myself of the lesson these boys are teaching. That when the sound of happiness is deafening, and even when it's not, there is no other place to be than right here. Right now. Body. Mind. Spirit.

Monday, August 31, 2015


As the little people get older, their perspective changes right along with their growing minds and bodies. No longer am I able to color the world, and their place in it, in quite the same way.

I want to protect my children from the scenes that I see and those that my imagination creates when I look at current events. I want to shield them from the power of money/religion/politics/business. I want to add context to facts... not sugar-coat things, but explain for myself not just the 'what', but the 'why' and in a context that matters to us.

Regardless of what I want, the little people are slowly removing the foggy goggles and seeing things plain and clear for themselves. I'm very thankful for the measure of influence that I still have, especially when it comes to the tween in the house, but wish that in some respects I could ask them to keep their goggles on for much longer.

That's too much to ask, but still I find myself striving for a quieter and more controlled environment, especially as we get closer to the start of school. For the first, and only time, all three will be in the same school building. All will be on their own journey, taking in that plain and clear view without me at their side.

When school starts, their minds will be exposed to all sorts of thrilling things. Some carefully planned and measured by our trusted teachers... others things taught and carried out by peers. All will be important learning experiences, not all will be weighted in the same way.

All of that is a part of growing up... all of that is a part of taking the goggles off. What I failed to realize is that I too have been viewing things through a foggy and distorted lens. And now I'm forced to remove mine as well. Thankfully, when I do, I know that the lessons that my little people will teach me will not be carefully planned and measured, but taught and carried out with love. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I wouldn't necessarily consider Gavin quiet, he's quite the boisterous individual. As one can plainly see, by this illustration of how we find Gavin "relaxing" or doing his homework. This is not an action shot... it's just how we often find him. I suppose he's just unconventional... Unconventional is good, in my book.

Although he's not quiet, in terms of volume, Gavin is quiet in terms of sharing the 'stuff' that happens in his life. Maybe it's his age, maybe it's his personality... maybe he only seems quiet because his siblings are over-sharers. Whatever the case, I see that starting to rub off on Benett too.

While B isn't typically found in a contorted position on the floor, he does seem to spend time reflecting internally a bit more, enjoying that time in his own head. I can see the gears moving with him, and almost feel when he has a question to ask. He's great about asking out-of-the-ordinary questions; questions that are creating an eclectic foundation and shaping his view of the world. I could do without some of the outside sources that color things differently than I'd like... but I suppose as a parent, dealing with those less than ideal things, and our reaction to them, also serves a purpose.

Gavin too asks questions, but as he gets older, that is changing too. His questions seem more designed to test than in a quest for information. I know there is information being gathered too... but he doesn't take answers at face value. 

And whether he likes it or not, Gavin finding himself in the role of teacher for Benett and Ellie. He's teaching them through is happiness and his frustrations. Brother and sister are always close at hand... when he wants them to be, and when he doesn't. As a result, he's teaching them when I want him to, and when I don't. They learn from his reactions and interactions, the same way they do with Monte and me. I like that together we shape each other, good and otherwise, it's all very elastic. I like that, but I have my moments too.

Gavin has always been like one of the adults. I think he still considers himself that way, when compared to his siblings. So much so that from time-to-time he'll spell conversations that he doesn't want Benett to understand. And much like when Monte and I used to do that to him, Benett has caught on. He hasn't started telling Gavin what he's spelling... yet... but it's coming. For now, he just spells my name, when he wants to get my attention. "M - O - M, will you help me over here." Or my personal favorite, "M - O - M, I don't want to have ____________ (insert any kind of food here) for dinner. I. Don't. Like. That." (Followed by grumpy-face.)

I guess the trick with tweens, and everyone really, is to find a way to connect. That's not easy, but as it turns out, some of the most rewarding things in life are down-right perplexing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The boys are going through a bit of an evolution. More and more, I see them partnering in their endeavors, mostly to antagonize their sister. Part of me is very happy to see them connecting in a way that feels a bit more equal, while another part of me is feeling very sorry for the little girl who can't seem to keep up anymore.

It's not because she's slower; Ellie can't seem to keep up anymore, because of their power in numbers. They can be a force to reckon with. They've even managed to share some major milestones. Gavin lost his very last baby tooth, on the same day that Benett lost his very first. It was exciting for both of them... and each of them individually.

Like many things that Gavin does, he lost his tooth completely on his own. Letting us know, almost as if it were an after thought. "Oh yeah, I lost my tooth. I guess I can get my braces now..."

While Benett's experience was a very typical, theatrically-dramatic event involving an aggressive game of catch, with a baseball. You know, the kind of game where one uses one's chin to stop the ball. Accounts differ, but the end result was a lovely note and a tiny pearl for the Tooth Fairy.

At first, I worried that we wouldn't be able to make each of their moments special... maybe that's how twins feel about sharing a birthday... but in the end, I guess it was special, because they got to do it together. And it was proof to me that there is no need to "make" anything special, because when it is, it just is.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


A couple of weeks ago we had the great pleasure to participate in the marriage celebration of two beautiful people, who committed themselves to one another, becoming one beautiful family. Individually, they're both so sweet and special, but together they're something even more amazing. They're an inspiration.

The weekend in the city was special for us not just because of the auspicious occasion, but because we had a chance to spend time with those we love in a different environment. I love interacting with the little people in new and different places. I enjoy watching them acclimate to their surroundings and take it all in. Every day things, like a game of Eye Spy, became new and exciting, while sitting on the hotel room floor, studying the downtown skyline all around us.

For Gavin, who has had the opportunity to see and do more than his younger siblings, the surroundings were not quite as new and exciting... or maybe that's just how he wanted to portray himself, being the sophisticated 11-year-old that he is. Being a tween really is a unique place to be. He's caught between wanting to do some of the things the littler people do and wanting to be more grown-up. I know he had a good time, and for me, seeing him looking so grown-up and dashing was a treasure. (Although, I know he was more happy than anyone to shrug off the suit at the end of the night.)

It's true, being away from home with three little people is a challenge... add fancy clothes to that and it has the potential for stress. Thank God for Monte. He's great at keeping things on the level and making sure nothing goes too far sideways. Simply put, he's great at managing me and distracting the little people. That's why I like this picture so much. It speaks a truth about each of us... Monte, calm and steady. Gavin in the middle and willing to smile - again. Benett being happy when he is and Ellie hiding when she can. And me, well I'm there taking a deep breath and a long blink.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Very distinctly, I recall worrying early on that she would never talk. She was such a quiet baby; there was always so much to take in, talking must have seemed unnecessary.

Five years later, she's a chatterbox who becomes a very sad little girl when without an audience. She loves to talk. It doesn't matter if she's talking to herself or someone else, there is always a conversation to be had. Being "shushed" is the ultimate punishment for Miss Ellie.

It's funny how babies come to us. Each of my three have their own story; each a bit different, but all the same in the ways that matter most. For Ellie, her quietness is a part of her story. She has been easy going from the very first moments. She was quiet in the womb, maybe that was contentedness, but I worried about her quiet nature from the very beginning.

She didn't make me sick for weeks and weeks. She didn't roll and move; I don't recall her fetal bouts of the hiccups. She just nestled in and grew, quietly. She missed what I thought to be her due date, I'm sure she just didn't want to impose... when the doctor insisted, she came into the world, strong and pink and perfect and not all that noisy.

She looked nothing like me, taking after her father, she quietly made our family complete. She and Gavin and Monte all look like they belong together. Benett and I are the odd ones with dark hair and eyes. She just belonged; assumed her position as the baby of the family.

That baby has grown so much and despite her love of talking, she's done it quietly. Not in the sense of volume... that's something she's mastered right along with her vocabulary. Her quietness is in her being. She has this wonderful willingness to try. She doesn't fret a whole lot... she's more interested in getting to it, putting her head down and doing. That's one of the things that I love most about her.

I've hardly noticed how she came to be five. It seems impossible. She'll start kindergarten next year and after that her first day of college. *sigh* Although that will come all too quickly, today we celebrated five. A hand full of years; no more trying to keep that pesky thumb down.

Her request was chocolate cake... and a picture with her two favorite boys. They were happy to quietly oblige.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Yesterday we took the little people to the YMCA, to swim. It's a treat for them to go there. I love it because it's a new environment with lots of new people. The little people love it for one reason and make a bee line for the pool.

Before we even arrived, they were begging to stay longer. They wasted little time doffing their warm, winter gear in favor of their swimming suits. The walk down to the pool deck must have been like an eternity for them. We shouted several reminders to walk... WALK... and they were off. Plashing and playing in the water for 3-1/2 hours, until they were satisfactorily pruney did they emerge, in a state of complete and utter starvation.

Back into our cold weather gear and we were off down the street, to see what kind of treat we could find at the co-op. With a cookie in hand, it was easy to see the delight and contentment in each of their gleaming faces.

Benett was especially giddy, so much so that he shared a list of three things he likes most in the world. I'm not sure how the topic came up, but that little exchange will live in my heart for ever and for always.

Benett "Mom, do you want to know what I like most? There are three things."

Mom "Of course. Tell me."

Benett "First, I like the fair; the one where there are rides and stuff. Second, I like Love... you know our family. And last I like fishing. Well, maybe I like fishing first... but I definitely like Love too."

That little boy's wisdom is pretty special, and I agree with him... I like Love too.

Monday, February 23, 2015


On Saturday evening, Ellie informed me that, "Penguins don't have elbows." That simple little nugget of wisdom came to her at church. It was also something that must have given me an entertained expression, because Ellie went on to tell everyone seated in the pews around her, the very same thing. The chuckles must have emboldened our priest; the ensuing homily seemed more lengthy than usual.

On Sunday, Benett was adamant that for each story we read, the ending had to change. He wanted the first time through to be read as written. The second time around, he requested a new ending. Okay... Interesting request... and not all that easy, especially when the literature topic is rainbows. I don't know many alternate endings that don't involve ROY G. BIV.  Reading to a child is not always an easy thing to do, and shouldn't be taken lightly... There is a lot going on in those young minds.

Gavin also had a request yesterday, one that topped them all. He wanted to wrestle. He wanted to wrestle with everyone in the house. No matter how big or small. He wanted to really, wrestle. The whole deal. No half-measures allowed. After getting his wish, he wanted to watch wresting tutorials on YouTube, only to ask everyone to wrestle again, so he could inflict his new moves.

All three of these examples can mean only one thing. The little people have got full-blown cabin fever. Everyone is restless and tired of being cooped up. The adults included; I'm beyond tired of the treadmill and the same old view.

So we made an effort to get some measured doses of outdoors. A nice long snowshoe trek, with sled in tow, meant that Ellie had an opportunity to live like her elbow-less penguins for an hour. Gavin was able to burn off some of his energy goo. And my run, outside, yesterday reminded me that there are good things about the treadmill. Temperature and incline control topping the list.

As for Benett... well he was no dummy. He wanted nothing to do with the -32 wind-chill. He opted to remain inside. As a result, we're planning a pool-side hotel stay for next weekend. I'm not sure I can take two weekends in a row of alternate ending requests.

Monday, February 16, 2015


It's her natural smile. You know she is loving whatever is in her midst, when this glowing grin is on her sweet little face. Eyes squished by those plump, rosy cheeks... and that one tiny little dimple...

That tiny little dimple, and her silly little smile are just what I need to brighten my days.

Days need brightening, when from out of the blue, life throws us a curve ball and introduces change. Life is full of change, but in this season of change, it is decidedly not something I'm looking forward to with excitement.

We are faced with losing our church, a gift passed down through the years, since 1913, to myself and my little people.

That gift is being taken from us. We have been informed that our church is no longer viable. Despite a building in good repair and a bank account adequate to sustain our needs. We will be asked to worship someplace else. Our faith community will cease to exist. Because it's small. Because it's rural.

That small, rural place is my faith. It's a legacy that's been passed down and entrusted to us, by those who came before. With it goes my faith. With it goes a part of me... with it goes the dream I'd had for the little people.

I'd very much have liked to see this little clenched grin, standing before the same alter as I had, receiving her first communion... confirmation... marriage... and the baptism of her own children.

Sadly, someone who doesn't know us has decided that isn't important. History, our roots, are things that are easily transferable.

I don't agree. History is important. Where we come from matters.

Life is full of change. I don't know what will happen over the course of the coming months... but one thing I know to be certain is that this infectious grin will continue to brighten my days, even when those days include a sense of uncertainty...

Maybe that tiny little dimple should be my new religion. After all, that sweet little grin is like magic, teeming with the power to heal.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


These days, we are finding notes all around the house. Benett has a great love for drawing and art, which has recently been accompanied by a love for "mail." He leaves his sweet little letters wherever he thinks they'll be noticed and read. Some of his little musings aren't postmarked at all, they're just cut or taped together or randomly left laying around.

One place most of them are not - in a notebook.

With that in mind, Santa had his thinking cap on this year and decided to give B a fun book in which to keep his drawings. Since December, he's taken it to church or wrestling tourneys or just in the car, adding some fantastic images. When its full, I'll stash it away. I already can't wait to rediscover and enjoy the creativity.

Because the vast majority of his drawing is of the loose-leaf variety... and way too cute/funny/sweet to recycle... stacks and stacks of paper can be found around my house. On the kitchen counter, in the secretary, my bathroom, the entry way, his bedroom, my car, my desk at the office... and the list goes on and on.

I'm not a huge fan of clutter, but as stacks of paper go, his are my favorite kind.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


It’s safer back there, lingering in the protective shadow of someone with whom you've entrusted your love. This is where we find Ellie much of the time. She’s behind him, but don’t interpret that as weakness… she’s perfectly capable of standing on her own, she just prefers to be close to him. And she’s happy to let him take the lead, on the days when being bold doesn’t seem like the thing to be.

She prefers the familiarity.
He enjoys that she is most likely thinking the same thing he is… and when she’s not, its great fun to have a laugh about her silly thinking.

She prefers the partnership.
He enjoys having a slower partner in crime… but wishes that she could or would keep a secret for more than 10 seconds. She’s just too honest for him sometimes.

She prefers his brand of rivalry.
He enjoys playing the role of teacher, with such an eager student.

We don’t worry about Ellie standing behind her brother. They are true to themselves and hold each other up… No matter who’s in front, or whether they’re together, they both prefer to be a pair.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


When I think about saying goodbye to someone, in death, I think of the movies… where tearful souls sit bedside, telling their loved one how much their life has meant to them. In the movies, characters seem to express to the full extent their feelings, at which time their beloved is able to peacefully slip into the arms of God.

In reality, saying goodbye can happen bit by bit, over a long period of time, without our awareness. Sneaking up on us and stealing a person long before they’ve left from this world.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to my grandmother.

Granny, as she liked to be known, began her departure long before her body was ready to rest. That is the heavy burden of this sadness that lingers. It’s the nagging voice in the back of my mind, chiding me for not spending more time with this woman who meant so much to me, telling her how I felt… recalling memories together and not just listening to her, but taking the time to better hear what she was saying.

I think (I hope) in her heart she knew how much she meant to me. Even so, I wish I’d done a better job. There is no substitute for telling someone how much you love them.

So we gathered, we remembered and we honored this woman who was so complex and so loving… this woman who seemed to emanate confidence in self and possessed this ability to speak the difficult truths… this woman without whom three generations wouldn’t be gracing the Earth, with their own gifts and love to share with those surrounding them.

If I had one more chance, I’d just tell her that I love her, “a bushel and a peck.” The conversation could be short, but ideally taking place in her garden, in the green bean row to be exact.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Sports are important to Monte and me. It's important for us to see the little people working with other kids as a part of a team, and at the same time finding enjoyment in their activity. This fall, both boys are enjoying wrestling.

I didn't grow up around the sport, neither did Monte. We are as green as the boys... We are, however, finding out that the sport has a die-hard following. People love it or hate it. There doesn't seem to be room for the wishy-washy type.

As a result, I'm finding myself mat-side most weekends...

We wanted to give the boys an opportunity to learn through sports, but this season, I think I'm learning as much as they are.

I'm learning that Benett is tougher than I thought he was.

I'm learning that Gavin's isn't as carefree as I thought he was.

I'm learning that it's not easy to see one child show up at a meet and run through his bracket, with a gigantic smile on his face... while the other gives his all only to walk off the mat defeated and in tears.

I'm learning that I'm more competitive than I perceived myself to be.

I'm learning that a mother's love is fierce in ways I didn't understand before.

At the end of the day, both of the boys are right where they should be. That's not easy for me to say... because I want to see Gavin happy; to give him everything he works so hard to try to achieve. But he's a new-comer to a sport that starts very (very) young. Most of his competitors have been wrestling for 6-7 years. This is his second season.

He gives it his all... doesn't give up... but just isn't able to make things happen the way he'd like. Yet he goes out there every weekend, because he wants to... because he's got confidence in himself. And in my mind, as long as he's able to take something away from the match, it's a success. Today he told me he was proud that he didn't give up but that he needs to do a better job of "visualizing his matches". I think that alone should earn him a spot on the top of the podium. (Although he wouldn't agree.)

And this one... well, he may very well be on cloud nine, at this late hour. He was a blast to watch... and to see his excitement, well that's something I can't put into words. That look on his face at the end of the round, will live in my heart and be the image I see in my mind's eye when I think of happiness. He ran off the mat and squeezed me so tight around the neck that I thought I might pass out. He vigorously gave me a kiss on the cheek and then ran up to the stands to share his excitement with his dad and siblings. Pure joy.

Today was two sides of a single coin. Two lessons learned and one mother who is glad to have been there to hold their hands no matter what the outcome.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


We're already 6 days into January and still no resolution. Last year, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. It seemed so easy, but this year things feel different. So, in an attempt to learn where I want to take myself, I decided to look back and where we've been.

In 2014, Benett went to school, and Ellie learned to be independent. We spent time pursuing the enjoyment of the outdoors. Monte and I even got away, which in and of itself is a minor miracle. Three doting cousins have the sweetest baby boy to which to show their endless affection.

In 2014, I logged more than 800 miles. That includes four half marathons, which was my resolution and goal for the year. A challenge for my 40th year on Earth. That feels like a very big journey. I'm not sure I can even recognize the person I was before my trajectory changed. It's been a gift for myself, and the little people. I hope it's an example for them...

The little people aren't so little anymore. They surprise me each and every day in their display of just how much they've grown. It's funny to look back at photos of them from just a year ago, their chubbier cheeks and rounder faces make me realize that good or bad, this day will not last. They'll never be as small as they are today. Tomorrow they'll be a little more grown up.

Tomorrow they'll be a little bit more reluctant. That reluctance seems to grow as their chubby cheeks fade. They're not quite so willing to wait for a photo op... especially if one is an 11-year-old. I just don't have as many pictures of Gavin anymore... each of them really...

Perhaps that should be a part of my goal for 2015... For all of us to work on being less reluctant to try new things, to live in the moment or to forget how much we mean to one another... and to express those feelings.

That sounds worthy of a resolution, but I think I'll remain unresolved for a bit. This year seems like it can hold much more than that.