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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

signs of spring

Despite the fact that we had 2 separate snow/ice events in the last week that caused school closings and many folks in our area to lose power for several days, the signs of spring's imminence abounded this weekend. As I restocked our groceries on Saturday, I noticed that our local Whole Foods had a special weekend sale on berry bushes. Although it felt strange to think of planting raspberries when most of our yard was still covered in ice, I brought 3 bushes home anyway. With the 60 degree temperatures this weekend, the ground was soggy and soft, perfect for planting a few shrubs.

In addition to the raspberry bushes, I noticed that the peach seedlings which Elizabeth rescued from the compost last spring, had not only survived the winter, but they had buds just beginning to shoot forth. It's amazing that these seedlings not only grew over a foot last summer, but also had the fortitude to survive the coldest winter we've seen in several years.

We decided they must be of hardy stock. We took a chance on them and transferred them from the pots into the ground. We mixed them with manure and potting soil and heavily mulched them. Wouldn't it be amazing if we were ever able to harvest peaches from those little seedlings rescued from the compost?

In addition to the planting, we just generally enjoyed the beautiful weather. The kids played outside for several hours, riding bikes, getting muddy. Ahh...spring! We know it's a bit early to think you're here to stay, but we'll enjoy the company while you visit.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yarn Along, and other crafting

I have to admit that the late-winter, post-Christmas/birthday knitting blues have hit. Knitting and I have largely taken a breather from each other for the last week or two. I do have a pair of scrappy socks on the needles for Finn. He loves his "crazy socks". A stitch here or there is really the only attention they've been getting though. We just started Little Town on the Prairie during our family reading time. The kids seem happy to be back in Laura's world. And it's comforting to read this well-worn copy that sat on the bookshelves of my childhood.

I have taken to the sewing machine for a few minutes this week. Actually, the bulk of the time in this project was with the scissors. This scrappy pillow to match our Cherry Christmas quilt whipped out in about an hour once all the cutting was complete. This pillow has been on my mind since I finished the matching quilt last summer. Unfortunately, I never seem to have time for Christmas crafting during the months of November or December because I'm so busy with present crafting!

With that same thought in mind, I also picked up my embroidery again this week and made a few stitches on these little ornaments. It might end up being the front of another throw pillow. I'm not sure yet.