Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We had a good holiday, and I hope everyone else did, too. I cooked a big dinner and we STILL have ham left. Clint put a facebook status up yesterday that said, "Sophia is mowing down her books, Benjamin is mowing down his video games, and Brittany is mowing down a well-deserved nap," and I think that about covers the state of us post-holiday. I've always liked this week between Christmas and New Year. It feels so relaxed. I always had toys and then new books to read when I was younger, and no school, and now I'm an adult and my kids are on break from school, we're eating leftovers, watching new movies and reading new books, and napping. Amen to napping.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

Clint's big present this year. SWOON.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tis the Season

A season for snow, hand knits, and lights from the tree making me happy. I think I'll be finishing up almost all the gift shopping today, and although I'm pretty happy with what we've done in that area this year, it still feels like too much somehow. Do others feels that way? Like the search for gifts to give, and particularly I'm thinking about shopping for our children here, can be painful to both the spirit and the wallet sometimes? I don't know. I want to get them something with joy. I like finding the right gift. I guess I wish we had started things differently when they were younger. Like, I think Santa should bring one present. Going over The Lists and trying to figure out what can be afforded, and equally, and so on just isn't what I want for the season, but somehow we just got into that pattern.

But it's not all bad. I say all that but our family is still on the smaller side of the gift-giving extravaganzas I've seen or heard about. By necessity, sure, but also by choice. I find I like the smaller things we do so much more. Going to get our tree, baking cookies, making cranberry tea on the stovetop, bringing out the familiar ornaments and holiday books, the cards and wrapping paper the kids draw and make... these things are the holiday season more than the gift-giving, and I hope my kids get that and carry that forward into their adult lives. I think they will.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

You may not know this about me, but I have an entourage. Also, Mukluks, which is good because it's freezing here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Making Merry

We went and picked out our tree over the weekend. This is actually our first real Christmas tree. I've always wanted one, but we just never tried it until now, and my family always just went with the artificial kind so I had no prior experience. So far, I'm in love with it and can't imagine not having a real tree after this.

making my turkey brine

We had a lovely Thanksgiving here. It was just us, and it was a quiet, warm, and good-smelling day that I enjoyed thoroughly. I roasted my first turkey (my, this is a year of holiday firsts, isn't it?) and was beyond thrilled with how it turned out due to brining. Seriously the best turkey I've ever had, and I don't think that's because I am particularly skillful... it's the magic of brining!

Lots of sitting in front of the wood stove around here. We've had our first snow and all the white-laden tree branches just fill me with delight. I am a true Northerner at heart; I was never particularly happy when we lived down south. I love the snow, the winter, I love pulling on woolen things and the deep quiet of a snowfall at night. So far this is shaping up to be the best holiday season yet, and I couldn't be happier or more grateful for any of it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Double Digits

My eldest baby is now 10 years old. I don't know how that happened already, but there it is. And there she is, and she is magical and I am so astonished and grateful to be her mother.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day

in Afghanistan

We sure do love our soldier. And we thank everyone who has ever served, along with all the families who wait for them to come home.

To The Bone

Life right now feels a lot like Nox with his bone. It's good. I am more content than I can ever remember being, my entire life. Oh, nothing is perfect. I'm not saying I'm totally satisfied with everything, either. For instance, my house needs a major overhaul. I'm talking going room to room with a trash bag and a donation box overhaul. I wish I was getting more writing done. More laundry, too, come to that. Clint will be leaving for Missouri in January for his Captain's Career Course while the kids I stay here, and I'm not looking forward to another 6 months without him. And he's in the Army, so there's a guaranteed supply of more of that to come.

But it's good, it's so good. Every evening we sit in our little living room around the fire going in the wood stove and my little holiday lights I love so much they stay around all year twinkle and the kids have their warm slippers on and play chess on the floor. I have a mug of something warm and a dog or two pressed to my side or against my feet and my husband in the chair beside me and it is all so good I want to chew my life down to the bone and then keep on going.

I just have a feeling like I have left discontent behind. Not that I won't ever be sad or frustrated or scared or anything, because I will be. More that somewhere along the years from high school to now, from old home to the new home we've made together, my mindset has shifted from the place that says, "And if I could just have/do/accomplish..." to one that says, "I have everything important to my happiness." Everything else is icing.

Or a good, juicy bone.

Monday, November 8, 2010


(photo taken with my phone)

On Friday afternoon we ended up going to the ER and Benjamin ended up with three staples in his head. He was given three balloons by the kind doctor.

See, he was standing on a kitchen chair (yes, that's why you don't stand on kitchen chairs) and they were messing around, and he lost his balance and fell, clipping the edge of a cabinet as he did so.

He also got a splinter in his finger yesterday from carrying wood and has been trying to get a very loose and sore tooth to come out all weekend.

The kid is a mess. I think he needs extra snuggling time in front of the wood stove tonight. And tea, maybe. And a book.

I'm rather looking forward to it, too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Day

I've been waiting for a guy to come and fix our thermostat today, so we can actually use our furnace. (The wood stove has been doing a good job of keeping us warm in the meantime.) He told us last night he'd stop by today, but he wasn't sure what time he'd able to... he thought it would be in the morning. Well, it wasn't. It's afternoon now and I'm still waiting. I'm not in the least bit angry at him. He was perfectly upfront with us, and he's done some work for me before and I've been very pleased with him. I just feel like I've wasted an entire day because of the way I am. I quickly threw some clothes on this morning without showering, got the kids off to school, and waited. I thought when he left I'd take a quick shower and run to the store for a few things, hopefully take the dogs for a hike. So here I am, unshowered, feeling awful, nothing done. And it's all my uptight fault.

The thing is, I often feel deeply disappointed with "my day." Most of the time I don't feel like my day has been very productive, and I feel frustrated and defensive about it all at once. As if a day was a complete and finite measurement of time and I dropped the ball. I don't know. On one hand I think I need to cut myself some slack and on the other I think I need to quit all my lazy habits.

But there's always tomorrow, I guess?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I hope everyone had a spooky, fun Halloween. It was really cold here. Like, it snowed a little the afternoon before trick or treating. But that's not unexpected up here, so no one was surprised.

Sophia went as Athena this year. She's really into Greek mythology right now. She's always really enjoyed it, but the Percy Jackson books really kicked her interest up to obsession. Which I love, being the type to obsess over my interests as well. Bonding!

Benjamin went as Death, partly because he just plain wanted to look spooky and partly because he loves the character of Death as created by the great Terry Pratchett, two of whose books we've watched the movie equivalents for (The Color of Magic and The Hogfather).

It's been a good Autumn here... we had a woodstove installed in our fireplace and have been enjoying that. We went apple picking and visited the cider mill. I love it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

I love how much she loves books, and bookstores. I love that we can share that. Her ever-widening mind is a joy and wonder to behold. Every day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I've been feeling a lot like this recently. The days are getting cooler and it's been drizzly and gray off-and-on outside, and I mostly feel like hanging out in my house. Looking toward winter and hibernation.

And speaking of hibernating, it will that much more cozy this winter, because we're having a wood stove insert put in our fireplace in a couple weeks. Exciting! We had three face cords of wood delivered last weekend, so we're ready for a few cold months, anyway.

Now I just need to focus on the other instinct I'm feeling strongly: cleaning, organizing, and arranging my house in a more efficient and inviting way.

I'm really a homebody at heart, and I like it that way.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tomten

...is not just a very favorite, magical children's book character! It's also a very squee-worthy Elizabeth Zimmermann sweater pattern that I managed to complete over the weekend. YAY!

I made one for Benjamin first, because while Astrid Lindgren's book about the Tomten who lives on a farm and visits all the animals is pretty much adored by all of us, Benjamin has always been especially enamored with him. It was his go-to, most requested book for a very long time. Also, he's the smallest, and sometimes starting small is a good idea.

Incidentally, I really wanted to name any future additional daughter Astrid, but Clint vetoed the name. Can you believe him?!?!?!?!


Benjamin was really excited when I had him try it on. He says he really likes it, which is of course what any knitting mama wants to hear, and bless his little ninja boy heart for at least faking enthusiasm for my benefit. All I have to do is sew in the zipper now. I made several mistakes and it's not perfect or in the best yarn, but I'm still pretty ridiculously pleased with it. Especially today, when I've accomplished almost nothing but can look happily at it lying on the table and pretend I'm not a lazy, unmotivated slacker.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

Had my stylist cut bangs. Celebrated 11 years with that man of mine. Bought a new french press. It was a good week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Never Know What I Was Thinking, So Don't Ask Me

For some reason, I totally thought this summer was going to be easy. I envisioned all this spare time that I'd have. Because my kids are older now, see? So in my brain, that somehow equaled more of me typing away on my laptop, or reading more than two chapters of a book every night, and even (gasp!) getting my house clean and organized.

I'll just pause now so you can get that laugh out of your system.

So, no, it wasn't a summer filled with all that free time I thought it would be. It wasn't a hard summer by any means, it was just full and busy and there wasn't a whole lot of time for solo, uninterrupted stuff.

And then last week, the kids went off with my parents in West Virginia, and what do Clint and I do? We rip up the carpet in our living room. (Because it is nasty and WHITE for godssake and will not get clean no matter what I do!) And so I spent many weekday hours pulling staples out of the wood floors with tiny pliers and thinking mildly violent thoughts about the individual who was obviously so very enamored with his staple gun when he was putting down the carpet pad.

On the other hand, I did no cooking that week.

Anyway, our summer is almost over. The kids start school after Labor Day, and I hope to pick up some part-time work myself. Clint is having shoulder surgery the end of September and will probably be lying on our couch for a good deal of October. I can feel Autumn hovering in the night air and it makes me so very, very happy.

Which reminds me to go work on that sweater I started for Benjamin.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

This week, filling out paperwork at the dealership, the man asked, "Is it ok to put down homemaker for you?" Sure. I'm proud of that. But I still pulled out the journal that came a few weeks ago when I got home. I looked at my name on the page. Some day, hopefully, I'll tell someone to put down "writer" when they ask.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Last night we were supposed to have black bean soup in bread bowls for dinner. Except after I sauteed the onions and bell peppers, chopped the chipotles, and assembled everything along with the dried beans in the slow-cooker, instead of turning the damn thing to HIGH I accidentally set it on WARM. You know, that setting that keeps your meal nice and toasty after it has cooked already. And then I went about my absentminded business and so, when Clint came home at 7pm from a long, frustrating day of work there was no dinner ready. BECAUSE THE DAMN BEANS WERE STILL AS HARD AS PEBBLES.

I am so epic.

Anyway, I was disgruntled and also sticky (hello, humidity!) and threw in the towel and we all got in the car and went to get a sandwich.

Clint has been having a lot of trouble with his shoulder, and will probably end up having surgery on it, but right now he's working through some physical therapy torture stuff and it was really bothering him last night. So he took one of the percoset they gave him before we left to go get our sandwiches. And apparently percoset really affects him, but we didn't know that. So by the time we got home, he was walking to the house with the dubious assistance of his arm across my shoulders, which delighted me and annoyed the shit out of him.

So I sent him to bed and brought him some water, and even though I failed at dinner and it seems like more often than not, it's that guy looking like a James Bond puppy-rescuer who is doing all the saving-the-day, there are some things I am best at.

Putting people in this house to bed is one of them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sometimes they do this, this half-hug, half-wrestle, chewing on each other's leg or ear. The kids do, too, brother and sister, fighting yet loathe to be apart. In many ways, I look at this picture of our pets and it seems to be the perfect metaphor of family.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Summer rainstorm. So we made tea, lit a candle, and pulled out a favorite board game. It made me long for Autumn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This is Nox.

And he was at our local SPCA. But now he's here with us.

I can't say enough good things about the SPCA. They do important work. We got Purdy, our border collie, from them a little more than a year ago now. She had been left locked in a bathroom with a few other dogs when the owners moved. We figured (with the help of our vet) that she was about 3 years old when we adopted her. And she is the best dog ever. No, seriously. Best. Dog. Ever. I can't imagine life without her. So we thought we wanted to add another dog to the mix, because she really enjoys other dogs and there are always great dogs that are waiting for home. I said no puppies, both because puppies are a lot of work and because I really pictured us bringing another grown dog home, one who needed another chance. But there was Nox, and it was love, and truly, he needed a home, too. And he's fitting in really well. It's nice to see Purdy wrestling with him, because she's never really been comfortable rough-housing with us. (We think her past owners were less than kind to her, so I'm sure that has something to do with it.) And he's a lot of work, but we're armed with some great training material, plus we'll be taking him to a puppy obedience class after his 3 month shots. And, well, he's lovely.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My husband's leave is coming to an end; next week he'll be back to work. This is the longest stretch of time he's ever taken off, and yet it's felt so short. Part of me feels regretful... maybe we should have stayed put more, tried to do less, just hung out with less distraction.

Things march on, vacation time can't last forever. We have swimming lessons to get to and a porch to work on and books to read and meals to make and so on. But man, do I like having him home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday - {This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

He picked the tobacco worm off the plant and studied it, fascinated. This boy, who runs from moths... but loves butterflies.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We're back from our vacation to Williamsburg, VA and visiting family in West Virginia. It was a great trip but it's really good to be home. I'll have pictures from our time in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, but here's a shot from the 4th. Sparklers are so fun, aren't they?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A late List Monday

We had visitors and then yesterday our internet was out. It's still out, actually, and I suppose I'll have to call our provider if it's not back to rights by tomorrow. But today the sun is shining after what felt like a long stretch of gloomy days. Soon Clint will be on block leave. The kids have a week and a half left of school. And the flowers are blooming along the fence in our yard and everything is conspiring today to make me happy. Don't you love those days??

Things I Want To Be When I Grow Up*

1. Author

2. War Correspondent

3. College Literature Professor

4. UNICEF Ambassador

5. Pre-K teacher

6. Bookstore Owner

7. Midwife

8. Dog Rescuer

9. Portrait Photographer

10. Travel Show Host

* In random order and without regard to practicality.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Glory of Coffee, and the Season of the Farmer's Market Begins

Every morning must start this way. The deep, smoky smell of coffee beans scooped into the grinder, the loud whirl of the motor grinding them for brewing. Cold water and coffee grounds producing that dark cup of liquid. I need to sit, quietly, with my first cup of coffee in the morning. It's a time of savoring and gearing up for the day. The early mornings before I get the kids up to school are my favorite. In the fall or spring, when I pull on a sweater and enjoy my moments on the sun porch. In the winter, when I sit under a blanket on the couch and curl my fingers around the hot mug. Summer, seeking out a few minutes of relative cool.

I've cut down on my java drinking. Most days I only have one (not precisely small) cup when I rise. I used to drink at least half a pot every day, maybe more. But it's that first cup in the morning I could never, ever give up, nor do I ever wish to.

The weekly farmer's market is open again here in northern New York, and I am so very, very happy about that. I made it this morning before the rain and came back with three bags loaded with my goodies. It's been very cool and overcast here this week. I'm actually wearing a sweatshirt right now. I'm not complaining about that, though.

The kids are perfectly happy to eat all their fruit fresh with no additions, no sugar, nothing. But I did get all that rhubarb, so I think a cobbler is in store for us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm calling this List Monday

Because I really enjoy making lists. I usually do this with paper and one of my special, specific, don"t-you-dare-take-this-off-my-table-or-lose-it pens. But I saw this on another blog. Another list lover writing lists once a week, as a writing exercise. And I liked it. I liked it very, very much. So...

Very Small Things That Make Me Happy

1. dog greetings and dog smiles

2. red shoes

3. sparkling wine

4. baby cheeks

5. hellmonkey (aka, my offspring) chortling

6. striped socks

7. sharpening pencils

8. sun porches

9. my husband smiling at me

10. clean sheets, on my big iron bed

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday- This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

(tradition from SouleMama)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sometimes, usually after maybe our third month of intense snow during the winter, or when it snows in late April, I forget how really beautiful it is here in northern New York. Even the snow is beautiful, lying quietly on a brisk and hushed night, fat flakes falling from the darkness. And then spring comes, and then early summer, and we're driving along on our way to have a Saturday night Japanese dinner in Syracuse and Clint pulls over to the side of the road because we've just spotted an amazing cleft of rock and a waterfall. And I hop out of the car and take a picture of it. A few days later, I download it onto my laptop and open it full-sized on the screen, and I remember.

Yes. It's so beautiful here.