Friday, September 16, 2016


I don't recall who wanted to plant them. Maybe it was me. I love the way they stand so tall and lovely, keeping a watchful eye over the entire garden.

As much as I love how they look, my favorite part about sunflowers, and really everything in the garden, is sharing the beautiful details with the little people. We examined way the outside leaves are so think, like a protective shell... how they are covered with the same kind of peach fuzz that is on the back of Benett's neck. How each of the petals are tucked inside, perfectly ordered and folded into place until they open to greet the sun.

As the season evolves from Spring to Summer to Autumn, the sights and sounds and smells of the garden change too. I love that the kids know what that means within their own little world. The way Ellie laments the lack of lettuce in the garden in September, only to find the raspberries is proof. She gobbles the sun-warmed berries up one by one before she can collect a handful to top her breakfast yogurt. We can't enjoy the firefly's light show anymore, but the entertainment provided by a chicken chasing a grasshopper is nearly as fun.

As the petunias have given way to the mums, the sunflowers lost their bright yellow petals and the seeds themselves have turned from green to brown. The heads bending ever low under the weight of the bounty, tonight I decided to harvest the seeds.

After plucking the seeds, washing and sorting and boiling and roasting and stirring, I can say with 100% certainty, that sunflowers are best enjoyed in flower form. If however, the seeds are half as good as they are time consuming to process, they'll taste like summertime in a shell. Which sounds just about right... and we'll have enough to help remind us of summer, well into the winter months.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Today has been difficult.

Not for them, they were filled with that nervous excitement that goes with the first day of school. The two little ones were pure joy, while the oldest of the bunch shared a rare glimpse of worry. Would he get into his locker? What should he take to each class? Where would he meet his teammates for the game? By next week, this will all be easy, but today we shared our nervous excitement.

Like always, we brought out the chalkboard for each to write their name and grade. Taking care to write their name neatly, I hope they can feel the tradition and the history of the small board, worn smooth by so many hands. Theirs and many more before them.

Donning new shoes and something special to wear, they picked up their back packs and headed out into the world. Gavin is in 7th grade this year and growing taller and wiser by the moment. The wisdom is often genuine, only sometimes invented for someone's benefit. He's not a little boy anymore. He's tall and strong and has his own ideas. He is sweet and kind (but not too kind) and ready to have great fun. I think he'll do great things along the way, but there is no sense telling a 12 year old such foolishness.

Benett is in 2nd grade. He is such a practical little person. He wants so much to be autonomous, to do his own thing. I want to let him and hold him back all at the same time. Autumn and the first day of school is like that for me. I want them to go on and up, but I don't. I want them to stay like they are, because they're just perfect.

Benett's whit and personality is so much fun. So innocent but sharp and dry and perfectly hilarious. I hope people continue gravitate towards him for those reasons.

And then there is Ellie. She is never too far behind Benett. I suppose that has been true from the very start. Close in proximity, but never the same she is her own person. I love her joy and spirit. She makes my heart happy.

She will be just fine, but I think I worry most about her. Maybe it's because she's the youngest... maybe it's because she's my little girl... maybe it's because she is so trusting and wants to take care of everyone else. She told me last year that she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. I think she would make an excellent one.

I hope all of them let their dreams take them as far as they can imagine. And that's the difficult thing about being a parent. We prepare them to go off and do these great things, all the while waiting and wishing for just a few more moments with them.

So as difficult as it is today, we sent them off. Their hearts full and their minds ready to learn, hoping to get them back having given as much love as they received.