Thursday, December 26, 2013



Last week, I heard a version of a Christmas song that I normally wouldn't pick as a traditional favorite. I love the way it tells the story of what is important to me this time of year. As I press my cheek against the face of my own baby boy this Christmas, I wonder what feelings Mary was having as she cradled her baby boy--so warm and tiny as he was swaddled in her arms. I cry thinking about it. I'm such a sap.  

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem

Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night

To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Emmanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east

To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me

This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah 

"A Hallelujah Christmas" original music by Leonard Cohen, lyrics by Cloverton


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Last Fall

The great storyteller Rudyard Kipling, who lived in southern Vermont for a time, penned some lovely words about the transformation of a Vermont fall: 

"A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods." Rudyard Kipling, Letters of Travel (1892–1920).

Whitingham, VT, birthplace of Brigham Young

This, and more, will be what I look back on about living here in the Upper Valley. Fall here is perfection. This final year in northern New England has brought us down to our lasts: our last beach trip to Maine, our last blueberry picking in Lyme, and now our last fall harvest season surrounded by high-definition warm-colored leaves shimmering across the mountainsides and trickling through the river valley.

Baker Library, Dartmouth campus

Billings Farm, Woodstock, VT

Fire Station in Grafton, VT

Killdeer Farm, Norwich, VT

view of Hartford, VT and into New Hampshire

But has this been our final Fall? Returning as a leaf peeper doesn't feel right. Not too long ago on a family drive through the back roads, Boy and I sat stunned at the charming and unpretentious scene in front of us. There were leaves that sparkled as they fluttered on the tops of trees. There were dairy cows roaming on pastures of grass that were at least seven different gradients of green. There were wise old barns that stood tall and strong despite worn doors and peeling paint. Covered bridges, meandering rivers, jaunty farm stands, and white steepled churches. We looked at each other and asked, "Why are we leaving?" It was then that we made a solemn pinky swear that we'd return in retirement or after our brood of kids leave the nest. So perhaps this won't be our last. Until the golden years are upon us, that question will linger around for now.

Colors are not around for very long. And it breaks my heart to leave this wonderful place filled with wonderful people. Farewell, Fall of my dreams. For now.

"Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay." Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," New Hampshire, 1923. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Golden Girl

My golden-haired girl turned three on the third. Golden birthday.

She has a Hello Kitty fetish. Thanks, McDonalds.
She sounds like Oprah on her Favorite Things giveaway when she announces what's on her mind, "It's myyyyyy BIRTHDAY!" "These are myyyyyyyy SPARKLE SHOES!"
She has a big voice.
She screams and it gives me headaches. It doesn't matter if they're happy or sad screams. They are so astonishingly loud.
She loves pink. I didn't encourage it.
She still calls her black stretchy leggings her 'Cat Girl pants.' She has not yet put in a request for this year's Halloween costume.
She was devastated when Go, Diego, Go! was removed from Netflix. She may have a thing for Latin boys. I think there's a famous Celine Dion song that put it best--her heart will go on.
She finishes her apples when they're whole and untouched. If I slice them into pieces, she'll only take some nibbles on its white flesh.

She's her father's daughter. I've told Boy that if he were born female he'd look just like her. And his name would have been Heather.
She runs like her dad.
She is a klutz. Always running into things. Just like her dad?
She is very smart--Dad.
She likes people--Dad.
She imposes conversations with strangers when we're out: the grocery, the library, her brother's school, the farm, the ladies' room. Um, yeah. It's obvious where she gets that from.

She loves animals. Like people, she imposes conversations with them too.
She was fearless with dogs until a few weeks ago. She used to stick her face right up to a dog and talk to it. Now, she belts out a blood-curdling scream when she sees them move toward her.
She sleeps with an entourage of stuffed animals.
She climbs into her brother's bed for nap time while he's away at school.
She loves her brother, but she knows how to set that kid off:  She'll talk while he is praying--takes his monkey George as if it belonged to her--knocks his building blocks down--and whaddya know? What goes around comes around.
She's kind of a punk.

She's happy when she has Pink Blanket and her left thumb. She asked for PB one day because she loved the way it smelled. I don't think she realizes that PB smells like dried up saliva. Again, I don't encourage it.
She calls her dad 'Daddy' in a squeaky high voice only when she wants something.
She has climbed into her baby brother's crib a handful of times, to my everlasting dismay. She and Teej make each other laugh, so I suppose it's okay?
She is not afraid of singing in public.
She has knows Primary songs better than most eight-year-olds at church.

She is oh, so different than I am. I find it curious that someone as explosive as she came from someone like me. She has inspired me more than she will ever know.

Happy Birthday, my Indy girl.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Two Becomes Three

It was an early Sunday evening when I discovered the gentleness between my eldest and his little not-so-much-a-baby-anymore sister. I was about six months pregnant and the three of us had returned home from church (Boy at the hospital working call shift—so typical). I was worn out—again, typical—so I plopped them on the couch for some TV time as I scurried away in the kitchen to prepare something simple enough for us to eat. A short while later, or at least it felt that way to me, I called for them to come as I was placing dishes onto the table. No answer. I looked across the kitchen and my eyes met with those of my little boy, still sitting on the couch with a blonde wispy head resting on his shoulder, who calmly whispered, "Shhh, Mom. Be quiet. Indy's sleeping."  He had his left arm curved around her, while the other tenderly held her sleepy hand. I watched him lovingly stroke it as she breathed deeply into dreamland. For a then three-year-old who was known in our family for his sibling bossiness and an excited boyish aggression that cannot be tamed, my heart swelled up at the unexpected.

Nine months was not enough time to capture the last moments of their sweet twosome-ness.







Three months later, our spring Easter chick came. Two kids turned into three and we became a party of five. Gentle fingers are not very common around the Tot because baby-sized body parts are just too scrumptious not to squeeze and excitement takes over—I get it. Still, their baby brother gets plenty of loving touches and a whole lot of inclusiveness.

The transition to another little person in the house was welcomed with open arms. For me, it got better. And it is still.

It's a good thing three is not a crowd. I think we'll keep him.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stepping out of a Mess

[via Pinterest]

The stars seem brighter to me these days. I think it's time to start writing again.

For myself.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Well, the World Didn't End in 2012...

"It's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last.
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass."
--lyrics of "A Long December" by Counting Crows


And so go the words sung by a beloved band from my teenage years. Decembers are long 'round here. The sun sets by 4:30 p.m. The sun begins to glint after 7 a.m. A few weeks ago after watching White Christmas, I wondered if we'd get a Christmas miracle of a cold white wonderland. It trickled into the upper valley on Christmas Eve and a few days later, BAM! I'm now living in a Vermont Christmas card.

It's been another year. It started high and ended...well, my feelings are mixed. I choose to live with faith and optimism, but the longer I live, I am exposed to more tragedy that frightens me for the innocent ones  living under my protective wings. But, we all carry on. Life is still a beautiful gift. It must be cherished until the last grains of sand slip through that hour glass called mortality.

So that is where my mind is right now: I'm trying to hold and appreciate all of life's little moments as much as I can. With this being the eve of a brand new year, I feel internal strings pulling me towards the keyboard--must be coming from the reflections from the past six or so weeks. Or it comes from the inquiries from family and friends who are concerned about whether I am still alive.

Hanging by a thread over here, but yes, she has a pulse!

Fact:  I haven't blogged since November.
Reality:  Oh, nobody has noticed? Figures.

Fact:  I'm growing a little human being.
Reality:  This human being is a boy. And he ain't little. Past experience has taught me that he will be born the size of a newborn elephant.

Fact: Most people didn't know this until after I was 20 weeks along.
Reality: This leads me to wonder if others think it's normal to see me walking around with my three chins. Am I really that chubby and frumpy when I'm not pregnant? Ouch. I'll ponder on that.


Fact:  To improve my repertoire in the kitchen, I took two more baking classes from King Arthur Flour.
Reality:  Baking beautiful things ends when I leave the doors of KAF. I won't be posting pictures from the pie crust I made for our Thanksgiving banana cream pie--grade F for presentation, but an A+ for taste.


Fact: My little Indy had her first trip to the ED for four stitches.
Reality:  She had her second trip to the ED three days later for croup.


Fact:  She wanted her pink blanket to comfort her through the pain.
Reality: Pink Blanket took a back seat when Dad met up with her at the hospital.
Bonus: Emergency personnel showered her with new furry bears; the names are as follows: Baby Stitches, Fuzzy Bear, and Doctor Bear.


Fact:  Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go! are sensationally annoying.
Reality:  But nothing puts a smile to my face when Finn shouts jubilantly, "Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping! Swiper NO swiping!" and his sister's chipmunk voice answers, "Oh, maaan!"


Fact:  My two are best friends.
Reality:  But they fight like siblings.


Fact: I love the season of Christmas with children.
Reality:  Christmas with children is a lot of work. I was sweating like a hog anticipating any tiny sleight of hand while the kids and I admired the Hanover Inn's delicate gingerbread display.

Fact: I participated in a holiday boutique again--baby leggings, baby hats, tree ornaments, fabric notebooks, glass pebble magnets, jewelry...
Reality: I'm not cut out for this type of stuff. It's a low blow to my self esteem when passers by don't even give a sniff to my hard work. I think to myself, "not cute enough? is it junk? too pricey? fine, I'll use it myself." After so many hours spent crafting, I now appreciate people who do this type of thing for a living.

Fact: Christmas isn't Christmas without Pomegranate 7up, Pear Cinnamon Cider, and Candy Cane Joe Joe's.
Reality: For the third year in a row, I was deeply irritated to be unable to locate a trace of Pom 7up. Found a decent replacement in the Polar brand. Took care of the last two items after finding a new TJ location while Christmas shopping near the NH/MA border.


Fact:  I made a fascinator hat to wear to Boy's Christmas party with his department. Good thing I can count on my stretchy LBD for these types of outings. I even went all out and bought a $4 bling ring to fancy it out. Mama looked hot.
Reality: My dressy ensemble was overshadowed by Boy's mustache that he worked so hard to grow out for two months.
Bonus: No, neither of us won the contest for "best hat" nor "best 'stache".
Extra bonus: He's clean shaven once again. Hallelujah.
[No bonus: No photo of said mustache included. I refuse. I refuse. I refuse.] 


Fact:  My favorite part of Christmas were the lights and nativity in Sharon, Vermont.
Reality:  While my kids made friends a Palestinian donkey named Annie and admire baby Jesus for a moment, they would rather play with their new trains and doll stroller on Christmas morning.
Bonus:  I realize my kids are still young to understand the meaning of Christmas...passing up my oven-baked quiche lorraine and hot butterscotch rolls to play with toys? What blasphemy!


Fact:  Over the weekend, our local airport (hint: small) had tickets to fly to Boston or New York City for $12 per person. Dost my ears deceive me? Twelve? My heart fluttered for the Big Apple.
Reality:  By the time we heard about this scream of a deal, all the flights were full unless you were flying solo. New Year's weekend down in Times Square wasn't meant to be.

This lengthy post doesn't guarantee a quick return to blogging, but to everyone I love--a very happy new year!

May 2013 be a good year...