December 31, 2013

holiday scenes

My loves.

Gifting, and what I hope will be the future of something big...

Christmas morning.

The sleepy mama of a toddler who was up until 3am the night before. Enjoying our Christmas morning tradition.

December 21, 2013

the party

Last weekend Grandma threw a party for the new two year-old. Knowing our boy's love of balloons, Nate had the brilliant idea to do a balloon drop. I have never seen this boy so happy. The squeals of absolute joy were priceless and it was amazing to have all of his grandparents and close family there. So much love in one room. It was the best day of this little boy's life. And quite possibly mine, too!

All photos are by my talented brother-in-law, Andy Johanson. (Check out his work here.)

Last year, he was overwhelmed by the cupcake, the candle, and the singing. Remember this?...

December, 2012 - First Birthday
This year we spent a few weeks practicing blowing out candles while we sang 'Happy Birthday'. Nate baked him a special sourdough cupcake with homemade frosting (his first taste of chocolate!) and this year, he was ready!

It was a good day. Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen, especially Barb, Andy and Stephanie!

Some Zander memories...

7 days old

One year old
Happy 2 year-old

December 11, 2013

two years

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did - that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that - a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
Debra Ginsberg

Zander, last week you completed your second trip around the sun. Two whole years. It's just amazing to watch you grow and for your daddy and I to grow with you, as parents. There are times I find myself still trying to figure out this new life with you and how to make it all work. Sometimes there's chaos. But then you take my hand in yours and lead me out of my world and into your world, where nothing else matters.

I will never forget the day you came into this world and how it changed me forever. Two years doesn't really seem that long, but already, I can't imagine life without you.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy.  

November 26, 2013


I sit here on a cold and snowy day, cozy in front of the wood stove, while my husband and son both sleep peacefully. There's a certain calm that washes over me when they're both asleep. Like all is right with the world. Everything is quiet, and I'm left to think about and do the things I can't do when I have others to worry about and care for. My own time.

And so I sit here, thinking. . .

It feels like we've been searching for a farm for forever. Six years, to be exact. Though that seems a long time, I'm grateful for it. I'm so glad we didn't buy a farm sooner. During that time we've lived on several different farms, made many mistakes and had many major accomplishments. We've learned so much about ourselves, animals, farms and living and working with other people. Our needs, wishes and desires for a farm have changed so much over time. And so has the place we call home.

We've often wondered about searching elsewhere for a farm. There's the issue of drilling for gas that's been sweeping the state and that has us concerned for it's effects on our air, soil and water. But there's something else.

Part of what drew us in to sustainable farming was that it's a common thread that brings good people together, like a big family. People working hard for a cause that's important and true to their hearts. No one knows hard work, loss and sacrifice like a farmer. And no one knows the joy and pride in feeding your family the vegetables, meat, milk and eggs you raised, or in aiding in the birth of an animal, or nursing an animal back from near death all on your own like a farmer. There's an unspoken camaraderie among fellow farmers.

But lately, in all we've seen and experienced, we haven't been feeling that love and camaraderie. It's there, but not as strong for us right now. Maybe we're jaded by all we've been through and maybe part of is it us, but we haven't felt like farmers are loving and helping each other and we often find ourselves thinking about other farming communities. New York, Oregon, Vermont, Maine. Perhaps another country? It's exciting and scary, both at the same time, to think of starting over somewhere new. There are times we feel we're ready to move on from Pennsylvania, but there's one thing that anchors us here: our family.

We both have mothers who live alone and deal with physical challenges, and we have my father and other family close by as well. It just doesn't feel like the right time to leave. We've had struggles and celebrated victories and our family has been there through it all. When farming was just a dream and we weren't sure we could pull it off, they were there encouraging us. Each time we've fallen, they've helped us up, brushed us off, and given us the push we needed to go on. They wouldn't let us give up. We're so grateful for their love and support. And now we have a son to share with them. When I was little, we lived far away from my grandparents and I didn't see them very often. I love that Zander knows his grandparents and that they know him so well. What a gift.  

With that important decision made, we know it's time to find a place where we can begin to put all of our love and energy into starting our real dream. It's taken time and lots and lots of careful searching, but we may actually be close to buying a farm.We have one in our sights. We've been this close before and it's fallen through. Fingers and toes crossed. We need all of the love and light we can get right now.

We just might be able to make this happen.

October 23, 2013

you're going to break my heart

Someday, sweet boy of mine, you're going to break my heart. Right now, although a divine combination of amazing and exhausting, you need me. You need me a lot. You depend on me for comfort, for help falling asleep, and for my milk.

But I can see it...

I can see that you're trying to grow up and have some independence. I can see that you're starting to really bond and have the time of your life with your daddy. Sometimes you choose him over me and I love that. I love to watch you two together. Someone once told me that there was nothing better than having a child with the man you love. All of a sudden, there is a new, smaller version of him that the two of you made together, out of love. She was right, it's amazing. Most days I feel I could just explode with love.

But I can see it...

There will come a day when you no longer need me this way. And then you'll start to pull away and before I know it, the days where I embarrass you and you no longer allow me to kiss you in public will be upon us.

I love watching you grow and I celebrate every milestone. I'm not resisting your growing up, my love, I promise. I'm just preparing myself.

See, no one ever told me how completely consuming motherhood can be. How easy it is to neglect your own needs and to lose your identity.

No one ever told me that you have to just let go, that having control is a thing of the past.

No one ever told me that perhaps the secret is to embrace the chaos, instead of fighting it.

No one ever told me just how wonderful it is to watch your child discover and experience the world.

No one ever told me how beautiful and painful it is to love someone so fiercely.

No one ever told me that motherhood would be the hardest and the best thing I've ever done

No one ever told me that you'd break my heart.

Go easy on me, little one. This is my first time.

October 14, 2013

beach days

We had an amazing time on our annual trip to Chincoteague Island a few weeks back. It was so nice to spend time with good friends. Some days were really warm, others cool and breezy, but overall it was perfect. We love this place because it's not commercialized and we enjoy going at the end of the season when things are quieter. It's a small little island town and the folks are always really friendly. The beach is a wildlife refuge with all kinds of wildlife to see, including wild ponies. It's close enough to Ocean City that we can get a taste of the boardwalk scene if we want to.

The little one had a blast and was such an easygoing traveler. I was seriously impressed. He's definitely a beach person and I loved how this year, he was independent enough that he just went off and explored the beach on his own. Watching him run around in the sand, happy as can be, made my heart swell.

When I say this trip was much needed...well, you really have no idea.

True happiness.

First time 'floating' by himself.

September 26, 2013

we are here. . .

. . .on Chincoteague Island. Living, loving and laughing with friends. Much needed.

August 27, 2013

the weekend

We had the perfect weekend. County Fair with friends and Deep Creek Lake with family. Beautiful weather, good times and great company. We even rode a camel!

Nothing like a good tractor pull.

August 25, 2013

the garden

Feeling a little bummed that our tomatoes have succumbed to late blight. Boo. Not all of them are affected though, and we're still getting a good amount. The rest of the garden is in great shape and I'm taking lots of notes for next year. I've learned a lot of important lessons about spacing. Especially with squash and all things viney.

Right now we're picking tons of squash and zucchini, hot peppers, cucumbers, kale, chard, tomatoes, carrots, melons, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, onions, turnips and lots of fresh herbs. We're pickling and canning all of our excess cucumbers, beans and hot peppers. Lots of pickles!

This garden of ours is keeping our bellies full and keeping us busy! We're so grateful.

August 16, 2013

this moment

We set out for the garden to see what needs to be done. I weed and harvest a few things while you entertain yourself. You make your rounds. First you check to see if there are any ripe tomatoes, even a few unripe ones will do. You don't really eat these, but you sure enjoy playing with them. I ask you to please not pick the green ones and try to give them a chance to ripen, but I take a deep breath and realize that we have plenty. Next, you grab a handful of broccoli and start munching. Then, you stumble upon a surprise, a second coming of raspberries. Just a few, but a miracle in your world nonetheless.

You love to dig in the dirt and search for worms. I periodically pop my head up to see where you are, ever thankful of the fence keeping you in the garden. Are you eating something you shouldn't? Have you discovered the hot peppers? Are you torturing a millipede (your favorite)? I hand you a sugar snap pea as you pass by and you happily snatch it up and start crunching.

After our work is done, we find ourselves in the blueberry patch. You know the drill. You lift the bird netting and slip underneath. You have scores of blueberries right at eye level and you dig in. I move about the bushes, filling a carton. I slip under the netting and sit with you while we both keep picking. Mine go in the box and yours go in your mouth.

Our eyes meet and you sign that you want milk. There we sit, nursing, hidden amongst the blueberry bushes. Just the two of us. I stare at your sweet berry-stained face and remember the days, not so long ago, when I couldn't even leave you to go to the bathroom or take a shower. I notice how big you are, how your long body is quickly outgrowing my lap. I kiss your sweet smelling head and hope that no matter how big you are, you'll always let your mama kiss your head.

I lift my head up, face to the sun, and I'm so grateful. For you, for this moment, this sunshine, these blueberries, this life.