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.