Category Archives: Pets

May Came

At least that’s what the calendar says…and now June is almost here. School activities are keeping us running and busy with field trips and end-of-year celebrations.  Mother nature is keeping us busy with planting, weeding, and tree climbing.  Make sure you get that last on in.  Life was meant to be enjoyed in a tree!

Last month was barren and cold and suddenly it’s blooming and beautiful.  

We decided to put the chicks out so they could get some fresh air.  But really, it was all about me; they are so smelly and stinky I needed them OUT.
Tenny, of course, was going crazy.  The sight of a bird makes him lose all rational thought.  He spots a robin and is off like a race car, speeding and careening until the robin cheeps with delight before flying away.  Such a tease.  We put a chicken fence around the chicks as a safe guard.  The natural dog inside Tenny has not yet been overcome.

“Mom, I think we should put Tenny inside,” Brynne said.

“He’s fine,” I said.  They can’t get out and he can’t get in.”

You already know this isn’t going to end well, don’t you?

Aren’t they cute?

I am not going to tell you the end of the story yet, because it’s a tragic one that will detract from the lovely blossom pictures I’m now going to focus on:  
Today I’m focusing on the happy things.

But in my mind I can still hear the screaming…

Let us now focus on the running in our lives.  There has been lots and lots of running this month – wahoo, it’s been so exciting.
This was Cope’s last year at her little elementary/middle school, and her last year running track (no track at her high school…so sad.)  She was a super star, running the mile run.  She won her first race (I may have been a little teary-eyed b/c watching my children run does something terribly wonderful to me), and here she came in third.  She gained A LOT of confidence this year, was well-coached, learned strategy, and how to find her pace.  There are so many great lessons learned from athletics.

She qualified for the state meet and ran her personal record of 6:09.  What a great season!
Nellie, also on the track team for the first time, bonded with his sister on long bus rides, and ran the mile, the 800 (2 laps), and threw javelin (the highlight of his life – a long spear he was actually encouraged to use.)  He missed qualifying for the state meet by .2 seconds (like the snap of your finger).  

This boy is so fast, he has a long running life ahead of him…he may have even beat his mother this weekend at a 5k.  Twice.  He ran a 21:50 5k today…I just couldn’t catch him!

I tend to be more…vocal at track meets.  Here, Daddy watches with that phone in his ear.

The girls were always super-excited to stay for long track meets.

Last month was blah and barren.  And now the world is lush and beautiful.

I found a turtle in the middle of the road.  Did you know that keeping a snapping turtle in NH carries a $10,000 fine?  I sent one to school and was promptly told this information.  Why does this make me laugh?

While older kids went to track practice, girls ran home to Mama.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Apple blossoms bloomed

Dandelions bloomed and were picked in big bouquets

I can’t seem to do a million things at once, and lost my mind several times.  My dear mother-in-law had to turn off the oven after I was 40 minutes away and realized I was cooking English muffins.  Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Brynnie boo had a birthday!  Donuts on a string….

The black flies attacked Paige and her ear swelled three times its normal size

And the girls ate the donuts with gusto.  Happy Birthday, Brynnie!  This is kind of a lame birthday post, but I love ya, girl – you know I do!

I’m not sure why this is so fun, but it has been vastly entertaining.

Especially when it pops repeatedly in sister’s face

Waah!  My ear hurts.

In bloom

The climber of trees

I’ve been after the kids for running outside with their dirty feet and then coming inside with their dirty feet and then running up the cream carpet with their dirty feet…

Sometimes I think I just need to let it go.  But something inside of me just can’t do it.  My solution is…they WEAR shoes when they go outside.  Is that so wrong?
This is supposedly a weed

For one week out of the year, this crab apple tree blooms the most beautiful pink blossoms

And we must pick them and swing from tree’s branches.  And the tree is happy.
I like this quote:

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. 
-Rachel Carson

Why does the sight of Daddy mowing the lawn make me so happy?
I can’t stop loving them, either.

May came.
Happy May.


Dear, Sweet Lavinia

We lost a chick yesterday
Lavinia, the smallest of the chicks
too much handling?
too much love?
we’re not sure.

Lavinia was so sweet and small; she just lay down, with labored breathing until she stopped.  And that was that.
The girls took it hard
but had a very nice burial
with gathered stones and dried flowers
and a homemade gravestone

Of course the paparazzi (their mother) had to capture it all.

I’ve seen Brynne walk down to the burial site, several times, with letters she has been reading to Lavinia.  Of course, when she’s not watching I’ll go down and read them because I’m very snoopy like that.

The fact that it was Lavinia made it all that more dramatic.
A solemn occasion

Ah, life is hard on the farm.


Downton Abbey, Chicken Style

Because I’m a sucker for “experience”
Because I didn’t learn my lesson last time
Because they said please please please and I just couldn’t say no

I had nothing to do with the naming.  The girls knew exactly what our new additions should be named, weeks in advance.
Please meet, “Anna”


“Mrs. Hughes” (the girls decided she should stop wearing so much black)

“Lavinia” is the smallest of the bunch, a little fragile.

“Sybil” and “Mary” are Bard Rocks and hearty egg layers.

The three sisters; Mary, Edith, and Sybil.  Mary’s kind of a loud mouth and queen of the pecking order. She’s so aggressive we wonder if she’s actually “Mr. Bates,” in which case we’ll have a cock-a-doodle-doo wake-up call every morning.  If this is the case, we won’t have Mr. Bates for very long.  And then Anna would be very sad – after all they’ve been through!  We won’t know for a couple of weeks.  There is a 1% chance “she” is actually a rooster.

I just really like those legs.

Starting is easy:  A chick water feeder, food feeder, chick feed for less than $10, a bin with wood shavings, and a heat lamp.  They’ll stay inside for 5-6 weeks, growing like they’re on a high dosage growth hormone – in a week they’ll be double the size.

And then they’ll start to smeeeeeellllll, but we’re not thinking about that yet.  They’re still cute.

Doggie can hardly stand it
Let me att’em…just a little sniff sniff…we had a little mishap last time…so doggie isn’t getting near the Downton clan.  We must protect our nobility.  We are honored by their presence.

The little ‘uns have promised with all their hearts that they will take care of them for the rest of their living days.  Feeding, watering, collecting eggs even in the dead of winter.

Nelson boy wants nothing to do with the girls; he’s still smarting from the rooster attacks years ago.  But perhaps the famed Downton beauty and charm will win him over.  Brynne and Paige can’t keep their hands off them and swear they’ve never been so happy in all their lives.  This Downton addition comes at the perfect time.  Today is the first day of school vacation; best week-long entertainment ever.
cheep cheep.
cheep cheep cheep!
oh my goodness it’s already driving me crazy.


A girl’s best friend

Paigey…what are you doing over there?
Feeling a little sleepy?

Dogs are messy
they run away
they cost money
they smell
they bark at the neighbors
chase leaves
eat your chickens
Dogs take lots and lots of time
to train
to clean
did I mention chasing?

Sometimes I’m still shocked we ever got a dog

It’s been so worth it.


Chocolate Pie and Inside Out Running Pants

Strange things going on over here.  Is it me or is it them?  Gregor looks at me like he’s worried about my brain.
1.  It’s obvious I am getting soft when Paige asks for chocolate pie for breakfast and I say yes.

2.  Tip:  Do not feed young child chocolate pie for breakfast.  She will feel sick.  Eat it when she goes to school (as if that wasn’t obvious before?)

3.  In the pew at church, Brynne looked at me funny.  “Your earrings don’t match.” Yes, they do.  I just picked them out, I said.  “No, mom!  They don’t match!”  I took them both out and indeed, they most definitely did not match at all.  I put them back in and don’t think anyone else noticed.
4.  I went running with my buddy and it wasn’t until I came home that I noticed my running tights were inside out and backwards.  Did she notice or was she just being polite?
5.  I googled Honey Boo Boo, to see what I was missing.  America, this is utterly appalling.  Hope ya’all redneckognize that.
6.  It’s obvious I have girls when I try to wash my hair and all THREE bottles of shampoo are empty.  I end up having to use the Dog shampoo.  This feels totally more shameful than when I used Mane ‘n Tail for horses in college.
7.  I bought a bottle of baby food carrots in the grocery store.  I had to have it.  It was just so cute.  I’ll make a carrot cake with it.  Someday.  I can barely stand to open the lid and ruin the cute jar.
8.  Paige and I made rolls the other day.  Have I mentioned I love having her home with me in the mornings?  Bliss.

9.  We played Candyland too.  And have I ever mentioned that I don’t ever need to play that game again?  I play it for you, Paige, only for you.

10.  I saw a baby bear the other day.  He came running down the road and then ran across my neighbor’s lawn.  My only regret was that I didn’t have my camera!  But then a little later I was standing in the kitchen and the back door squeaked.  Then it creeaaaaked slowly, slowly open and a big, brown bear poked its nose into my kitchen and started padding across the floor.  I froze in horror.  And then I realized it was just my neighbor’s big brown dog, Georgia.

She wandered around my messy study and gave Tenny a thrill.  I told her to “come” and she paid me no mind.

Then she wagged her tail at the rolls and I had to draw the line!  Photo shoot was over and I hauled her outside.  Well, Paige and I thought that a rather exciting morning.
This experience feeds into a terrible fear that I will not be able to confront a robber who comes into my house.  I will have the same reaction:  Frozen horror.  Must learn to lunge for the bread knife.
11.  And finally, tomorrow is election day!  How exciting.  If only to STOP the mass amount of phone calls I get every. single. day.  I kept one of the messages it was so funny.  The guy was sooooo obviously bored and sooooo reading a script.  He read it so fast, in the most monotone voice I’ve ever heard, I couldn’t even understand what he was saying.  If he was working for me I would tell him to get another job; this is not your thing, honey!  
Another funny thing was a letter I got from a candidate’s mother.  Defending accusations against him.  It was hand-written and photocopied on pink paper.  From his mother.  Okay, I pretty much switched parties on that particular office.
My dad called the other day and I wasn’t here.  He told Cope, “Tell your mom I liked her political blogpost and to give me a call.”
Uh-oh, I said. (I did laugh too b/c my dad is the nicest person ever)
“If you have to go to Republican Recovery Program, we’ll come and visit you,” Gregor said.
Hope your week is grand and you make it to the polls!


Feeling Sorry

Sweet Peanut

I practically begged my friend, Becky, to let us keep her child’s hamster for the summer.  One, Peanut is adorable.  Two, my children are constantly begging for a pet and babysitting for two months out of the year is the perfect solution.
Peanut came to us obviously very well cared for.  A nice cage, toys, hamster wheel, outdoor hamster wheel, special treats, 5 star bedding.  The only thing children didn’t like:  Cleaning the cage.  But it took less than 15 minutes and between the four of them, it’s a piece of cake.
I don’t know if all hamsters are nocturnal, but Peanut was.  He liked to sleep during the day and then I would hear his wheel turning at night.  My admiration grew:  This was a hamster who got his daily run in!  I think he was training for a marathon.  His mileage was very impressive.  He also liked to eat my apple cores.
As you may have noted, I am writing in the past tense concerning little Peanut.  Yesterday I told Nelson he had to clean the cage as it had been a week and this humidity was not helping the odors in this house.  So, I moved the cage to the table so he would be sure to be reminded and I would be sure to nag lovingly remind him.  I noticed our dog, Tenny, was going crazy, crazy.  He was running around, barking, crying, being very annoying.  I don’t know why some days he’s like that with the hamster and some days not.  But, our doggy cannot reach the table, nor can he jump up on it, so we left for a morning of soccer camp. 
Do you feel the impending doom?
Our dog did not eat Peanut, but when we came home from soccer camp, I went to visit our little furry friend.  To my horror, Peanut was lying in his cage in apparent state of frozen fright.  He was very, very still.  Oh dear.  Have you ever been entrusted with a very special possession or pet?  My first thought was, Please no.  Becky’s going to kill me.  Nelson’s first audible thought was, Ronan’s going to kill me.  
Becky has made several attempts to give Peanut away, but her son, Ronan, loves him so much, that they just couldn’t do it.  
Many thoughts went through my mind:
Buy a look-a-like!
This really didn’t happen.  Close your eyes and try again.
Run far, far away
Go call Becky right now

Becky was getting on a carousel with her son, a perfectly wonderful summer day.
She was very nice to me.
Oh, it’s a horrible feeling to be responsible for something you are…not responsible with(?)
My children offered several possibilities:
He was too hot (it was a very hot and humid day)
He was poisoned!
He had a disease
He was old
His cage wasn’t clean enough (Nelson’s lament)
He had a heart attack because of Tenny (Cope’s theory)

I don’t know.  But I better stop writing.  It’s making me feel worse.
Becky asked one thing.  Was it possible to save Peanut for Ronan to see when they get back for school?
The only solution seemed to be cryogenics.

Here Peanut lies, next to the freeze pops.  He was put in a Nike shoe box in honor of his nightly runs on the hamster wheel.  It was a sad end.  
When you were a child, did anyone ever kill your pet?



1.  Paige insisted on going running with me this morning.  Miles run:  1.  Maybe.  She was quite the site with her pajamas still on, her tangled hair flying behind her.  She also insisted on holding my hand most of the way.  Looking on the bright side.  At least she wants to go running, right?
2.  In-between rope swinging and canoeing down the Saco River in North Conway this weekend,
 we indulged in some retail therapy.  Wicked cool new running shoes.  Will they cure all my ails?  They are the Nike Lunarlon, a minimalist racing shoe.  Paige helped me break them in.  Pictures and review sure to follow.
3.  I lost my husband’s BFF (phone) on Saturday evening as I was trying to unpack the car.  Terrible.  I felt so sick, even digging through trash, drawers, basement, sleeping bags.  I found it this morning on top of a black tool box in the garage. ?  I have serious worries about my memory.  I have to believe in God too, since I’m sure he’s constantly rolling his eyes at all the things I lose and beg for help finding.   
4.  I just drank a 16 oz. diet coke lime.  Not bad.
5.  We have been watching a nest of baby birds for days.  Their mother is very protective and chirps loudly when approach.  Upon coming home from the grocery store, one of the babies was ready to fly.  How wonderful, what a learning experience for my children.  We watched with delight as the mother escorted the baby out.  It flew a few feet, landed, hopped, got ready to fly again and POUNCE!  Tenny (dog) leaped and grabbed baby bird with mouth.  The screaming and running from the girls (and myself) (and grandma) could not deter doggie.  He pounced again, bird in mouth, and ran for the back yard.  Mother bird attacked The Birds-esque when grandma approached nest to see how many babies were left:  One.
Brynne, hysterical, screamed at her beloved dog, “How dare you interfere!”  The baby is quite dead.  There was a burial with the epitaph, written by Brynne:  “Our little feathered friend, killed in 2012.  Farewell.”
6.  Quite an eventful morning as I sit down to write.  Words edited in my 100,000 word manuscript today:  0.  And so, farewell, little birds.  I too must work.  Time to write with children watching movie:  1 hour.  Good thing I drank all that caffeine or I might opt for an afternoon summer nap.  

The Artist and His Buffalos

The day school was cancelled due to bus vandalism, was a magnificent fall day.  It was very odd to have all the kids home in fall weather.  We decided to take a walk up the hill.  Though there is only one child on the street, we always encounter happiness and play in other ways.

Just up the hill is a beautiful old farm dating back to the 1800s.  It was bought a few years ago by an artist and his wife.  They have their work cut out for them!  One of their projects is revitalizing this old apple orchard.  There are hundreds of trees.  Lasts year the project was just pruning them.  They are learning that it’s impossible to have an organic orchard in New Hampshire.  You have to spray the buds or everything will be eaten.

Within the next five years they hope to have the apple orchard thriving.  And then boy oh boy will I have applesauce to make.  Sometimes I dream about have a little store with applesauce, granola, handmade knitted items…knitted by someone else…eggs from my nonexistent chickens, maple syrup made from the trees on my road.  Wouldn’t it be quaint?

Apple trees drop hundreds of apples everyday.  These are called “drops.”  Drops are how I make applesauce.  But drops on this farm go to three very special creatures.

Say hello to Monet, Sargeant, and Picasso.  Did I mention this is an artist’s farm?  

Here Jay feeds one of the water buffalo.  I’m not sure which one this is.  Sometimes they escape and run around the neighborhood.  Sometimes we get a knock on the door – “Have you seen the water buffalo this morning?”  It’s quite hilarious.
Someday I will photograph Jay’s art studio; a converted barn.  His paintings are stunning.  He tells me it’s 97% work and has very little to do with his talent, something I have a very hard time believing.  He’s often commissioned for artwork that sometimes takes him years to complete.  I haven’t yet asked him to paint my children – his works sells for 1000s.  How do I approach the subject?

They come running for apples.

And off we go, back down the hill, taking in Halcyon Valley, which literally translates to “Heaven.”

What Makes You Feel Like a Real Man?

For Nelson, it’s a new pair of running shoes.  Genuine.  The real deal.  The kind of shoes made just for running.  That aren’t from Wal-mart.
He’s been wanting to run everywhere!

He is very careful with his shoes and will not wear them if he thinks he’ll get them dirty.  The novelty hasn’t worn off yet – he ran two miles with Gregor and me this morning.  And made us work for it!

He feels even more manly if I let him wear my GPS watch that tells him his time, pace, and distance.

He had some chores to do so he couldn’t wear his manly running shoes, but the magic must have rubbed off because he cut down a small tree for me.

This guy requires more than running shoes.  For months and months our neighbor has been asking if Gregor will buy his John Deere Mower.  I have been opposed.  We purposely bought a real-man big-time DR Mower so he could walk and get exercise.  But Gregor drooled from afar and wished with all his heart that some day his manly pursuits would be realized.
Then finally, Mr. Goody (that’s really his name and he really is GOOOD neighbor!) made an offer.  Gregor crawled home on his hands and knees and no joke, honestly asked with…”I won’t ask for anything for my birthday, anniversary, or Christmas…”  Seriously, how many times did you use that one when you were a kid?
Well, it worked I guess.  He loves his John Deere as any real man would.  He is in a new John Deere club with all the farming neighbors who tilt their hats at him when they pass him riding his John Deere tractor.  They recognize this great passage in life.  Oh he loves it.  He wants to stop at all the John Deere stores and talk John Deere talk.
He keeps saying, “Pinch me.”

He makes up stories about the lawn needing mowing so he can go outside and ride his new John Deere mower.  You see?  Dreams do come true.

Tenny, what makes you feel manly?  Just look at that old-man face.  We promise not to dress you up in ballet dresses for the next little bit.  Sometimes a man just needs to be a man.

Lessons of Life and Death

Once a week we have Family Home Evening (FHE.)  Usually it’s on Sunday night because that’s the night when Gregor can be home.  It’s a night where we make announcements, sing a song, say a prayer, have a little lesson, play a game, and eat a treat.

Right now, Brynne loves FHE the most.  She begs for it constantly.

We rotate jobs.  “Activity” is the one everyone wants the most – they get to choose the game.
It all sounds grand but some nights are definitely better than others.
Shawni’s blog gave me this idea:  weekly awards.  OWW means “Obeyed Without Whining.”  I wish I was better at remembering to hand them out!

Paige got the “Neat As a Pin” award.  I think this was a give-away.  She needed an award and no one else qualified.  Ever.

Paige likes when she’s in charge of the song.  Then she stands up and sings a Little Mermaid song and accompanies it with a dance.

Our lessons are usually a story from The Friend Magazine.  It has so many good stories.
UNO is usually the game of choice

Sometimes our Family Home Evenings don’t end well.  Actually, it’s quite miraculous if everyone is happy at the same time.
But the other week we had a very special lesson.  Our first pet, Marvin the fish, died.  He was at the bottom of his bowl, didn’t move or eat.  He was a funny color and looked like he had already started decomposing.  Since Marvin is a bit neglected, we hoped no one else would notice and we could tell the kids the next day at FHE when Gregor had the lesson.  He would give it on the Resurrection.  How everything will come back to life and be like it once was.
“I have some sad news to report,” he began.

The kids were very sad and said good-bye…
but then all of sudden Marvin swished his little tail!  He began swimming around – he lived!  Right before our very eyes.  I don’t think we’ve ever had such an effective lesson of the Resurrection before.  It was quite perfect. 

Sometimes when Cope has the lesson she writes Manifestos…”When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for parents to listen to their children…”  In this case she wanted a guinea pig.

She was tackled by her sisters and couldn’t keep a straight face, but it was a pretty good lesson.
P.S. Marvin died for real a few days later.  This time we were sure he was dead.  Flushed.  But I sure was proud of our little fish who mustered up the strength to provide a real life learning experiment just for us, and FHE.