My youngest brother is here for the week, and my girls are just beside themselves. I picked him up at the airport last night, and they’ve been crawling all over him since. He’s on his way to his new duty station after spending two years in Germany, not far from our middle brother and his young family, and stopped here in Maine to see us. We’re excited to have him for keeps when his enlistment ends, a little more than a year from now.

While J did homework and the girls hung out with their uncle and grandparents, I drove over to help a friend set up for the winter clothing swap she was hosting today. She’s the owner of the yoga studio here, and I love the way she uses her space to support the community. I’ve never attended a swap, and though I love the idea, I was a little skeptical as to whether people would embrace the spirit of the event and bring useful items to share rather than keeping them to sell themselves. Happily, they did, far beyond what I expected. So many useful items! I didn’t have much to swap for adults, but had some little girls’ clothes and shoes, and a pair of brand new work boots that never quite fit J. I came home with sneakers and boots for the girls, boots and a couple of tops for myself, and a really great chunky sweater. Even more, I got to spend a little bit of time chatting with the mamas of our community, and experience the kindness of those bringing items specifically with my girls in mind. A hot cup of tea, a lot of smiles and chatter, and I was on my way home again.

We did a little internet research today, out of curiosity about our adopted home state and after casually chatting about where my brother might settle when he separates from the Army. In terms of population density, we grew up in the 9th most populated state (Pennsylvania) and moved here from the 5th most densely populated state (Maryland). Maine drops in close to the bottom ten at #38; according to the 2010 census, we live in the least populated state east of the Mississippi River. And while the large western states have the most military veterans purely by number, here in Maine, roughly one in ten people are vets. Some interesting statistics that support much of what we’ve determined anecdotally since moving here.

Tonight we’re belatedly celebrating my mom’s birthday with cake and family, the first time this crew of us have been in the same place in over a year. I’d love to hear how your weekend went, and what you’re hoping for in the days ahead!



crossing them off


I didn’t have the wherewithal to tackle my office last weekend. I walked in with a cup of coffee (#4 for the morning, if you must know), looked around, and walked back out. I even closed the door behind me. I just couldn’t do it; it was too much for the day.

Instead, I took Stubby for a nice long walk. I lingered in the shower, wasting hot water just because it felt good. And then I tidied my side of the bedroom. I put all of my laundry away, and chucked all of the “potentially important, but probably not” paperwork that had wound up there. I cleaned out a tote of random stuff that had been collecting dust for eons, and finished unpacking my suitcase from our trip at the beginning of the month. I even organized the top of my dresser a bit, though I didn’t dust. Gotta draw the line somewhere, you know.

It’s been a week of setting up the pins and knocking them down. I’ve completed an entire To Do list, and am working through a second, which is unheard of around these parts since having children. To be fair, a lot of the items are basics like making my car payment, and having oil delivered. But there were a few items that felt good to get accomplished.


While J worked on prepping the chicken coop for winter the other morning, I took a little bit of time to scrub one of those cast iron skillets he had acquired for me. The weather was gorgeous, so we worked together in the yard while Beans played in the sandbox and had us take breaks to find “buried treasure.” I managed to get most of the rust off, and it’s now tucked in the shed, covered in oven cleaner and wrapped in a trash bag to strip off the layers of use. Tomorrow or Sunday I’ll begin to re-season it.


And today, I finished two trick-or-treat bags! The fabric was purchased on sale the day after Halloween in 2014, washed and folded, and tucked away until I finally had time to put them together. Last year, the girls ended up using paper gift bags that I decorated a bit, and I kicked myself the whole time for not getting these finished. It felt really good to put the final stitches in them today! I followed the Nested Fabric Buckets tutorial on Whipstitch, opting for the medium size, and made a few changes as I went. In my mama fog, I bought medium/heavy fusible interfacing, rather than the batting the pattern called for, so these are not quite as cushy as they might have been, but I think that works to their advantage. I went with a single strap, and used webbing instead of making handles out of the main fabric. I made sure that the ends were stitched inside the lining a solid inch or so, and reinforced each side with a big stitched X. The last thing I want to have happen is for the strap to tear loose when the bucket is loaded down with treats! I had Swee test it by filling it up with Little People, and it seemed good and strong.


The instructions were really easy to follow. I think the hardest part was cutting out all of the pieces and keeping them straight before putting them together. My hope is that the girls can use these for many years to come! Now, to figure out the costumes to go with them…

What did you accomplish this week? 

moving slowly


I’m writing from the kitchen table this morning. I’m assuming my poor husband fell asleep over his Nutrition homework last night since he is still asleep on the couch despite the noise and movement around him. His spot in the bed was filled by our two-year-old and our Schnauzer, both snuggled in through the night. We’re all moving a bit slowly this weekend, working through what I can only call grief.


The girls and I went to a harvest potluck last night under the Hunter’s Supermoon. Adult conversation came in bits and snatches as I had to fly solo, and mine were two of the youngest littles in attendance. It was nice to connect, however brief each interaction was. And I received some much needed affirmation that we did the right thing for our Cody by not waiting until Death came knocking before easing his transition. I’ve been wrestling with the weight of our choice, alternately sobbing and feeling at ease. Two very kind mamas shared their own experiences, and though I’m afraid in the moment I was not able to be coherent and gracious, it really did help.

It was really nice to see everyone come together and watch the children of the town run in a pack, playing Manhunt in the moonlight. One wonderful young lady (yep, I sound like my mom) kept track of my oldest for a bit so that Beanie and I could run inside to gather our belongings. Sweebee’s in this odd place now, somewhere between the babies and the big kids, too big to want to hang with the potty-training set, and just a bit young to run with the pack. Swee let me know that her “Big Girl Friend” held her hand or “upped” her the whole time, which amounted to maybe ten minutes. She was so pleased to be able to stay out with the big kids for a few minutes, and mama got a wee bit of practice in loosening her hold. I remarked to our hostess as we were leaving that clearly it was a much needed gathering, for all of us.



And in all of this, the biggest news of the week got lost. We have eggs! Wednesday, Friday, yesterday, and this morning – all in the same nesting box, presumably all laid by the Pinkster herself, as she’s the only one we’ve seen going in and out. The first was a really nice size, somewhere between medium and large I’d say. The rest have been a bit smaller, but all with strong shells and good, dark yolks. Today’s was still warm in my hand when I walked up the hill to bring it inside. Less than an hour later, it was in the pan for J’s breakfast. Definitely farm to table.

So here we are at the start of another week. My girls have been spending a couple of hours with my parents on Sunday mornings, which has quickly become such a blessing. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with today’s free time yet, but the stack of projects is pretty tall and my office is a disaster area. Organizing my personal space could be yet another definition of “self-care,” and goodness knows that’s needed right now. Maybe I’ll start there.




run free, little dog



There’s a hole in our hearts and our home today. We said goodbye to our Cody yesterday morning, and I finally understand why people get another dog so soon after losing one. It feels empty around here, even with two kids and a Schnauzer.

We miss you, little man. Run free.

shifting gears


The seasonal shift is upon us, sneaking quietly before packing a wallop this week. I feel as though I hardly noticed the change begin this year. Perhaps it began as a slow creep; J had mentioned hearing that we wouldn’t see the same bright colors due to the drought, so perhaps it took us unaware. Despite that, here is the color, vibrant and blinding in the thin October sun. And yet, it’s already turning muddy in places. Driving the back roads today, the leaves drifted lazily down to the pavement, yellow-brown and spent.


We’re seeing it here in our yard as well. A little less grandly, but it’s readily apparent. Beans decided several weeks ago to harvest our pumpkins, so instead of fighting it, I helped her do it properly, cutting the stems instead of wrenching them from the vines with that superhuman two-year-old strength. They’ve been hanging out under the glider to cure, and today we moved them to the front steps. They’re small, numbering five in all, but they’re ours. Homegrown, and a first for us. I think we will have frost before long, so I will need to find a safe place to stash them inside.


More applesauce, and the last of the tomatoes. There are dozens of tiny green ones out there, but they’re so hard, I doubt they’ll amount to much more than chicken food. Speaking of chickens – our feathered freeloaders still aren’t laying. Not quite sure what’s up with that, other than they’re still just youngin’s but goodness gracious! We’re ready for some eggs!

We’ve begun the shift inside as well, attempting to make our indoor spaces more usable on a regular basis rather than a depository for our junk before running back outside. I’ve switched out the girls’ clothes, moving Beanie up a size and packing away sweet little summer things she never even wore. I’d like to rearrange our books and craft supplies, just for a refresh, and maybe move some furniture. Right now, I’m trying to get a handle on the kitchen counters, though organization is evading me thus far. When our house in Baltimore was on the market, I grew to love the clean, staged look of empty counters, and haven’t been able to replicate it since. Where does all this stuff come from!?

Even as we celebrate this gorgeous fall weather, I’ve got the sense that the next shift is close at hand. J spent some time on the chicken coop today, and as it looks like we may be wintering in place, we need to have more fuel delivered. I made it through last winter without boots or a solid coat, but have a feeling this year won’t be quite so mild – I’ll need to venture out and do some shopping for myself (what a foreign idea!). Thanks to the kindness of dear, dear friends, our girls are set with warm hand-me-downs for yet another year, though I’ll be on the hunt soon for extra mittens. You can’t have too many mittens, hmmm?

How are you shifting gears?


postcards from the fair


Our little alarm clocks scampered down the hall at an unholy hour this morning, waking us before dawn by crawling into our bed and sticking their cold piggies on our skin. And to think I was worried we’d oversleep. I could see my breath as I stumbled down the hill to feed the chickens and let them out, my flip flops sliding a bit on the wet grass. Coffee, but not too much coffee, because today we were going to the fair!

We picked up my mom and were on the road only half an hour after our target departure time. We made good time, and though it was brisk, everyone was happy and comfortably attired in sweaters and knit hats. And that’s about where the day stopped going to plan. No, nothing dreadful happened. It was just a typical attempt at a day out with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old. Potty breaks. Demands for snacks. In the stroller, out of the stroller. Onto mama’s back in the pack, back down on the ground. More potty. More snacks. Those grand plans of doing? Abandoned, first unintentionally as we sought food for hungry bellies and  missed the talk I really wanted to attend, and then just totally written off.

I came home kind of cranky, but going through the photos just now, I can see all the fun we did have, even if it didn’t look quite like we had hoped. The girls slid down the big hill on cardboard boxes and leaped off of a huge hay bale into a soft pile. They got their faces painted, looked at all manner of critters, and patted the oxen team. Beanie got to see her beloved tractors and eat popcorn. We heard excellent music, and I even fangirled a little when I saw Amanda Soule and family at the Taproot booth (she is real!). We ran into some neighbors at the blacksmith shop and did a lot of people watching.

It was a good day with good people. My people.