Monday, April 21, 2014

a happy Easter

Often, the week of Easter is busy for us. It's typically the week that Paulie and Philip have spring break. We often travel. I forget during the busy times just how valuable it is to have a low-key Easter, full of the kind of busyness we enjoy most: making hot cross buns, church services, knitting bunny cubes, dyeing eggs, hunting eggs in our own backyard. With the number of snow days we experienced here in NC this year, the boys' spring break was shortened. We had a bit of a staycation instead, which afforded us the kind of Easter holiday that we all enjoy immensely. (The 5th bunny cube is NOT an announcement, as I've been asked, but a bunny for Paulie's and Philip's baby sister at their mom's house.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yarn Along

I haven't participated in Yarn Along for a couple of weeks largely because I haven't done much knitting. Easter is coming soon though, and I found these cute little bunny cubes that are a fairly quick knit (made with scraps, no less!) to add to the kids' Easter baskets. I haven't gotten quite as far as I hoped this week, but I'm sure I can finish the last couple before Easter.

I also just started reading Empty Mansions, which has been on my library list for quite some time. I was fascinated with the story of Huguette Clark when it hit the news a few years ago. Thus far, the book is quite interesting with history of her family and many details of happenings in the world at that time.

The lone finished bunny cube! He needs to start multiplying soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

a Little Free Library

Back in the fall, I heard about a Kickstarter campaign launched by a local woman hoping to put a couple of Little Free Libraries in our area. The campaign took on a life of its own as the goal was surpassed and totaled more than $10k in only 2 weeks. The woman who launched the campaign decided to build as many as she could, more than 20 at last count, and put them all over our region of NC.

Almost as soon as I heard about the project, I sent a message to the Little Free Libraries NC (a page started to keep folks informed on the progress of the campaign) group on Facebook asking how I could help. I volunteered to help paint, along with my kids, or host a Little Free Library.

Paulie, Elizabeth, and Finn painted our Little Free Library when it arrived this past weekend. They decided on solid backgrounds with dripping-paint stripes for the design. And once the post hole was ready, she was set into place.

The Little Free Libraries NC group received more than just monetary donations, but many book donations as well, and this weekend, when our Little Free Library was installed, it also came stocked with the generosity of our local community.

This project thrilled our kids. In addition to helping get the Library into place, they have been constantly checking to see if any books have been claimed or returned, checking for leakage after our rains yesterday (none was detected), and thinking about which of their own beloved books they'd like to share with the community.

If you are interested in learning more about the Little Free Library project, you can find information at They have instructions for building your own Library, a map for locating a library near you, and other ways to support the Little Free Library program. The map takes time to update, which means it might be a few months before our Little Free Library sees much traffic other than our own little neighborhood (or before local folks can find the 9 that have been added to our area just this month). I can't wait to see how this project unfolds for us over the coming years, and I'm elated that we are able to be a part of this movement of sharing some of our favorite stories with the community around us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

spring break at the farm

Elizabeth and Finn were on spring break last week. (Unfortunately, Paul and Philip lost part of their spring break with the snow days earlier this year, and the rest of their break is the week prior to Easter.) Since I had just the 2 of them at home for the week, we decided to head down to visit friends in SC who have a small homestead with chickens and goats. Farm animals, fresh air, and sunshine seem like a pretty great way to spend a few days of spring break! The kids played with friends, pulled and dried wild onions, ran in the sunshine, dragged the wagon all over the homestead, fed the chickens and goats, helped trim goat hooves, watered their burgeoning gardens, and largely avoided Steve, the angry rooster.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

date weekend in NYC

Paul and I were lucky enough to get a date weekend in NYC last weekend. The weather was chilly and rainy, but without kids to chase, we still considered it a blissful weekend. We managed to hit the Guggenheim, the Neue Galarie, a Medal Winners book signing at Books of Wonder, a few hours at the Strand, some fabulous NYC food, and some time with family and a few friends. We always treasure our time in this most fascinating city and consider ourselves lucky to breathe in her magic occasionally.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


The weather yesterday was beautiful, and we took full advantage. Finn and I visited the farmer's market and came home with a Penny Redwing pansy for him to plant in one of the flower beds. He was thrilled to be able to dig the hole and plant it himself.

I also stumbled upon a booth full of Sweet Charlie strawberry plants, which I had trouble resisting. Elizabeth asked last summer if she could have a raised bed of her own. We dug out the grass in that spot and put down landscape paper, but that was as far we got on that project. Once I came home with the strawberries, I asked her if she'd be interested in taking charge of the strawberry bed. She was thrilled.

Although I forgot to take photos of the construction, she helped nail together the boards for the raised bed, then helped pour the soil, peat, and compost into the bed. She smoothed it all out and planted all of the strawberry plants herself. I'm delighted to have a bed of strawberries and even more pleased to have an assistant gardener to help care for them. Now today is chilly and rainy, but at least our lovely plants are getting their thirst quenched.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Yesterday, in the middle of yet another icy day where the roads were too treacherous to have school, as I wandered up the stairs to read aloud to the children while they folded the ever-present mountain of laundry, I heard Paulie say, "Hey, I remember this book. Are we going to read this again?"

"Actually, I'm reading it to Finn right now. We're about 3 chapters into it."

He smiles fondly, "I really liked that book." Then he places the book back onto the rail at the top of the stairs, the often storage place of books in the process of being read, and skips down the hall to the mountain of laundry.

Such a simple exchange, yet it caught my attention, and I reflected on it several times over the course of the afternoon. These teens, with their intermittent snarky attitudes and desire for greater independence, are still the small children that used to sit by my side after I wearily put a baby to bed and took a few minutes to read to them before the end of another long day. They probably won't remember many of the scores of books we read together during the paths of their childhoods, but the glint of fond memory that occasionally rises to the surface makes me pause in gratitude for the spark that might have been lit during those formative, if exhausting, years.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


About a year ago, Elizabeth and I started occasionally watching the ABC television series, Once Upon a Time. She's always been a huge fan of fairy tales, having multiple copies of Brothers Grimm collections, and even several collections of international fairy tales. Once Upon a Time takes great liberties with the story lines of the most famous fairy tales, but the series nonetheless held immense interest and appeal for Elizabeth. After winter break from school, when we watched the first few episodes of the current season, Elizabeth wondered why a few of her favorite fairy tale characters had failed to make it into the story line of Once Upon a Time. She gave a great deal of thought to how a few of the missing characters might enter the current storyline on the show. As she thought, she came up with a great idea for the entrance of Rose White and Rose Red. She decided to write down her ideas, then created a blog to publish those ideas, and she wrote a letter to the producers of the show with a link to her blog, hoping that they might take a look at her ideas.

What was initially a few paragraphs of idea became more and more fleshed out in her mind. Paul bought her a copy of Save The Cat!, a popular book on screenwriting, and we checked out another book on Screenplays from the library. She devoured those books over the course of a few weeks, while reworking her paragraphs of ideas into a more standard screenplay format. She also found a few copies of actual Once Upon a Time episodes online. She studied the lingo, paid attention to how they emphasized words and expressions, and pondered dialogue. Eventually she transformed her few paragraphs of ideas into a full-fledged screenplay. She spent hours over the last 3 weeks or so, reading, writing, and editing. You can find her screenplay here. I have to admit that I'm proud of her dedication to this project. She has been deeply committed and has worked long and hard to reach her goal of finishing this screenplay.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

making lemons into lemonade

The ice storm late last week left many in our area without power, including 18 of the schools in the district where Paulie and Philip attend school. So many schools without power meant that they ended up with another snow day yesterday, despite the fact that the temperatures were near 70 degrees. When Paulie heard that they had another snow day, he knew that this would essentially take away his last day of spring break. That's right; they've had so many snow/ice days this year, they won't really have another break between now and the end of the school year. Elizabeth and Finn had an already scheduled teacher work day. I came up with a plan for a single day of spring break fun. We headed on a road trip to Charlotte to the Discovery Place. We truly made it into a huge one-day spring break event. We watched Hubble on IMAX, explored every last exhibit, watched a stage show about matter (including liquid hydrogen and fire!), watched a brief 3D documentary on King Penguins in South Georgia, and petted both a Bearded Dragon and a Red-footed Tortoise named Herbie. In all, I think it turned out to be a lovely spring break day. And I'm happy to see that my 13- and 14-year-olds still find it fun to just play all day.