Category Archives: summer

A Really S-L-O-W Summer

I’m feeling something I haven’t felt in years: the huge relief of a slow, summer day. Honestly, it makes me a bit weepy.

At the moment, my two older kids are traveling (England) and working (grounds maintenance) and the younger two are in school until June 23rd (have to admit…it’s lovely quiet!) Graduation has occurred, the class I teach is finished, and I’m feeling a lightness while taking deep breaths. And there’s that weepy thing.

This summer is needfully slow.

Two years ago we were gearing up for Europe, It was a most wonderful experience but not exactly relaxing.

Last year at this time I was sitting at my desk when my husband came home and said, “I got a phone call – want to come to the hospital with me?” We had no idea how serious it was. In fact I was a bit annoyed to be interrupted from working, to waste a trip to the hospital because surely Heather was fine and would not like all this fuss.

But Heather died. And two weeks later, Cassie left us.

It was not the summer we were expecting. I didn’t really get to my “Design Your Summer:”

Last year’s plan that went awry

You know, so much happens in a year. Life changes very very quickly. “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

Two homes were combined. We sold a gazillion things. We acquired stuff that holds a lot of years and memories. Dearest Arthur (my most wonderful father-in-law) came to live with us. My study became his room. Nelson’s room became my study. The awful basement became – a livable gathering place – and yes, Nelson has a room!

The basement last August. Nelson and Cope slept in random places for three months.

It’s been a hard year emotionally, but we did more than survive. We are good. We are doing really well (and hallelujah it’s behind us.)

And now it’s truly summer.

Because I am taking our Cope out to college in late August we are not taking our usual western trek across the United States. My children, Brynne and Paige especially, are salty about this, quite aghast, fearing I’ll make them do nothing but clean(!)

Besides one week of camp for Brynne and Nelson, we don’t have any other camps or lessons on the schedule. We have two shorter family trips planned: an ocean excursion and Acadia/Prince Edward Island.

I have goals (well, of course I do) that include:

Home and Yard:

Purge the house. The excitement I feel rivals my love of hair products. Yes, it’s that deep. I have a notebook with many notes. I’ve heard of the “40 bags in 40 days challenge” and might try that. I also have projects that need much attention like a huge garage clean-out. This year I’ve decided to pay the kids to help with huge jobs like this. Win-Win.

Yard: Tree trimming and weeding. The garden was a sad, neglected mess last summer. This summer the tomatoes are in and the peas, carrots, and lettuce is growing. Bliss. 

Reading and Writing:

Reading: I have a stack of books on the bedside table. Yea! At the moment: THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd (love it) and next up: HOURGLASS by Dani Shapiro (can’t wait!) For the girls: an hour of reading everyday – they like this plan! Maybe some math facts thrown in.

Writing: I’m working on a new novel and vow to have my really crappy first draft done by June 23rd, the last day of school! I work on it for a minimum of two hours of day, setting my buzzer and doing it as early in the day as possible. First drafts are the worst (for me, anyway). Plow through the self-doubt. Get the words on the page!


I feel so much better when I take care of myself (duh). Luckily, I have running and soccer buddies who make me move. Today, Maryn got me out for 5 a.m. intervals (horror!) while the sun was just coming up and guess what? Fabulous. Done by 6. Nap at 1 🙂 Lovely! Also, my upper body is getting soft and flabby. I’ve got a little routine I need to get back at.

Running! Need shoe ideas? I’ve got them 🙂

Soccer with my peeps!

Also planned: a short, daily soccer training plan for Brynne and Paige and daily excursions to our local lake. 

Trip Tuesday:

Really it’s just me, Brynne, and Paige, which is more manageable to think about. Kindof stinks to grow up and have to work. So before that happens they are going to play mini-golf with me. Or hike mountains, or pick strawberries and blueberries, or see things in New Hampshire we’ve never seen.

I plan on making a daily list for the girls that I can laminate next to their beds that includes: scriptures, prayer, make bed, ukulele or piano, tidy room, exercise, reading, summer chore. When it’s done, it’s free time! This will likely include dressing up in heels and a costume to frolick the yard with Tenny (dog), a little show to watch, and LOTS of cousin time (because the cousins are MOVING HERE!) This shall be followed by mandatory eating of lots of watermelon.

Summer Meal Planning:

One cannot eat cereal for every meal. Or maybe we can…the meal plan is something I’ve got to get a handle on. Ideas?

Of course, as slow as I want it, the days are still busy with chores and cooking and driving kids here and there, like driver’s ed three days a week for Nelson and driving him to work every morning at 6:50. There will be orthodontist and dental appointments, and a family reunion, BUT this summer feels different than last (because IT IS different!) and it’s a glorious thing.

Yes, much changes in a year. It changes over the years, too. It used to be I was actively seeking for THINGS TO DO! What could keep my kids busy? Because being in the house all day with four kids was long and torturous – they got bored, hot, cranky, and were prone to annoy me and each other. I did not feel the same glee as I do today.

But it’s a new stage of life and today it’s SLOW and wonderful.

What about you? Summer plans?

Yahoo! Happy summer to you!


The End of Summer and Start of School (woo-wee!)

The night before school required one more trip to the water…unnamed-2 We were a wee bit excited!


Woo-hoo! (why are my pictures fuzzy? I must have been jumping, too.)
unnamed-1Mama, the water is cold….! I love how kids never seem to mind those minor details
unnamed-10And just like that, the sun set on summer. We turned toward a new school year, which always requires a new mindset and is always epic in its own way. The Professor and I looked at each: “I wonder what’s going to happen this year.

The next morning the alarm sounded in the children’s bedroom…beep, beep, beep. Horrifying noise.

Paige was most excited about packing her lunch because her mother had bought her a YumBox! The Professor rolled his eyes. “What is this, lunch boxes of the rich and famous?” Hey, I it was reasonably priced ($20 with a coupon,) and a justified purchase as packing a lunch no longer requires non-recyclable plastic bags (and maybe because it was just so super cute!)

unnamed-6 And now I become one of those parents who post pictures of their child’s school lunch. Hey, I get it now – it’s fun!

IMG_1778Paige thinks cutting up little pieces of food is FUN. She practically skips around the kitchen.

Sadly, after I bought one for Brynne, she chickened out: “Mom, I’m in sixth grade! I can’t bring a Yumbox.” Sigh.

IMG_1776Food groups. FUN.

I’m stopping now.


unnamed-9The next morning, only two of our kiddies were going to school. We have entered a new era.

unnamed-8I told the boy to stand by his sisters. “Ha ha ha…you have to go to school.” Aren’t brothers the best? Just you wait, Nellie, your time is coming and ninth grade ain’t no walk in the park!unnamed-7

Always my favorite picture…we’re holding this hand TIGHT. It’s the last hand. The sixth grader had already dashed off! But she still gives me kisses.

unnamed-3Meanwhile, the new high schooler cashed his paycheck to buy some preppy clothes. #landsend

unnamed-5And he made his own duct tape keyboard case for his iPad. Do you think he’ll get beat up? (kidding!) Love his creativity. He sure loves me taking his picture.

Happy new school year.



Best of Summer

poppy Early summer. I pondered what in the world these were?DSC_0030 For days I watched them start to pop.DSC_0036 They’re poppies! I adore them. June flowers.IMG_3792 The man is always so full of surprises.IMG_3869 We had awesome grandma and grandpa time.IMG_3808The man is very particular about his barber.

IMG_3802One on one time with the darlings.

DSC_0115Baby birds break out of shells and fly

DSC_0086Bees pollinating

clean Children cleaningDSC_0370Boy kicking

DSC_0096I talked my mom into getting a suit from lime ricki. Isn’t she so vintage chick?

IMG_4817Trader Joe’s is evil.

IMG_4845Some writing time. Here I interview on the front porch – the only quiet spot. IMG_4815 Paige reading Dick and Jane while daddy gets ready for a wedding.IMG_4793 Oh, the beautiful weddingDSC_0572 Climbing a lot. Spectacular views.IMG_4531A family reunion. Bonfires.


The ocean IMG_4167The World Cup

IMG_4158Peaceful swims

DSC_0049 HayingDSC_0064A garden that grew

DSC_0079 Nelson’s adidas design he’s selling to adidas, of course!DSC_0087An attempt at organization. Brain Research by A Better Blog. Because that makes sense.

IMG_4136Toothpick dolls and thread

IMG_4127 Summer stormsDSC_0047Flowers in the window


If Brynne had a million dollars she would like a duster for the house. I think this says way too much about my housekeeping.

DSC_0311 Summer afternoonsDSC_0295 DSC_0216 A Sunday afternoon photo shoot attempt. They kept flying around in the sky.DSC_0065And kissing

DSC_0418And growing.

Have I ever mentioned I have trouble with transitions?

When I polled the children on whether the summer was too slow, too fast, or just right they said…”a little slow.” And I smiled and said, “that’s just right.”

And here we go again.


Summertime Peach Cobbler

The other day, on our 17th(!) wedding anniversary, the man and I picked from a tree dripping with peaches. In two minutes we had two full bags, with dreams of smoothies, cobbluhs’ and pies dancing in our head. One very ambitious bike ride later (he hurts me) we did make peach smoothies. And then came my attempt at the cobbler.

Tastes like a luscious peach pie, only it’s so quick and easy, with no dough to roll out. This cobbluh’ is a little different because batter is poured rather than thickly dolloped on top. It’s sooo divine and just the thing to make my husband say yes to one more year with me 🙂

The first thing I would do is blanche the peaches. Drop them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then drop in ice water. The skins should fall right off. If they don’t, drop in boiling water for another minute, then back into the ice.

butterWhile peaches are cooling, melt 1 stick butter in the microwave (about 45 seconds and yes, take off that wrapper 🙂 I used Kate’s Homemade Butter so I feel better about such things. While butter is melting, mix the dry ingredients.


This is the flour you are going to use – Self-Rising!

brown sugar  DSC_0004  DSC_0006

In a separate bowl, add 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, 1 Cup Self-Rising Flour, and 1 Cup Milk.


Once the dry ingredients are mixed, go get your buttuh’

DSC_0009  DSC_0012  DSC_0018

Whisk in melted Butter.

Spray pie dish with coconut oil (or any spray or butter) and pour batter in.

Add Peaches*. Yum!

DSC_0015I could have added more peaches but I didn’t want it to spill over.

DSC_0037Bake about 1 hour or until top is a golden brown. We like a little bit of crunch on top of the golden peach goo so we kept the cobbluh’ bakin’ until the edges were a little crispy.

DSC_0036It’s so good it’s not even fair.

Anniversary Peach Cobbluh’

1/2 Cup (1 stick) of Butter

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup Self-Rising Flour (very important)

1 Cup Milk

3-5 Cut Peaches*

Directions: Melt butter in microwave. While butter is melting, mix dry ingredients In a separate bowl: brown sugar, flour, and milk together. Whisk in cooled butter. Pour batter in greased pie dish. Drop cut peaches* into batter. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

*I blanched the peaches first which just means dropping them in boiler water for a few minutes and then in a bowl of ice water. The skins come right off. You can see pictures of such a thing HERE.

Lest you think Maisymak has become a food blog…it hasn’t, I’m just cooking a lot these days and can’t seem to catch up to the rest of life documentation. With school starting, I hope to be a better and more consistent writer. For now, off to eat some anniversary cobbluh’. For breakfast.




Fresh Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Maple Syprup Walnuts

Keep reading. Beets are known to be perfect for wooing.

I love when a friend brings a healthy, fresh dish that’s so good you follow them around begging for the recipe. Thank you, Molly, for this gem of a salad! beets beet2

Molly wrote down the recipe right in my kitchen; it’s that simple and she’s that nice. I three-hole punched it and slid it into the cookbook binder as I knew it would be a salad staple.

The fresh beets, goat cheese, and candied maple syrup walnuts have been a huge hit with guests and family all summer. We even served it at a wedding party dinner.

You’re sold, right?

If not, I understand. Beets used to be the very last vegetable on my childhood wish list. I thought they grew in a can. Blech! But times have changed, my friends. Beets were the underdog and they’ve made a comeback.

A few months ago I began eating beets only because they were healthy. I drank them raw, in smoothies, with the edible greens; beets make every smoothie pretty.

Over the last few months I’ve eaten beets boiled, roasted, chilled, and grilled. And now sing beet praises. With enough exposure (and improved cooking methods!) the palate changed and adapted – so can yours!

Full of antioxidants (cancer fighters), vitamins, and minerals, beets also help detox the liver. They are huge for endurance because of the sugar/carbohydrate content (making them excellent sources of energy), but because of its high fiber, the carbohydrates are released slowly into the blood sugar. Versus chocolate.

Need one more benefit? Yes, beets are also known to be aphrodisiacs. Who knew?

So. Let’s dig in. Literally, or find those beets at the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Wash fresh beets well and cut off greens (edible!). Under no circumstances are you to use canned beets. Promise me.

You can boil the beets in a small amount of water (save the leftover liquid for smoothies!) or even microwave them, but my favorite way is roasting. Cut beets in half, skin on, and roast with a tad bit of olive oil. About 40 minutes. When soft, let cool, and rub off skin.lettuceSnip mixed greens from garden. If your grocery store isn’t on strike, you can buy lettuce there. Wash, dry, and put in salad bowl.DSC_0237 Next, over medium heat, put 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts into a frying pan.DSC_0235Pour 1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup into pan. Stir. In mere minutes, walnuts will caramelize and become like coated candy. Divine. Watch carefully, stir often. Scrape immediately onto greens. If you leave them in the pan for later it will be a hardened disaster.

salad Just like this. Beautiful, no? Tasty, yes?

DSC_0060 Add beets and small spoonfuls of fresh goat cheese. No, I have no goats to milk or cheese.

That’s it. So simple. But we do need a dressing:DSC_0241Combine 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar, alt and Pepper. Stir & pour just before serving.DSC_0250 It’s a monster hit.goatcheese

Fresh Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Maple Syrup Walnuts:

For Salad:

Mixed greens

2-3 Fresh Beets

8 ounces Fresh Goat Cheese

1 Cup Walnuts, chopped

¼ Cup Maple Syrup


¼ Cup Olive Oil

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Wash beets, cut off stems, cut in half. Roast in oven for 40 minutes or until just soft. Let cool.

2. Over medium heat, add 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup pure maple syrup. Stir constantly until walnuts caramelize. Put on greens.

3. Rub skin off beets, cut into small pieces, and put on mixed greens.

4. Add goat cheese

5. Add dressing.

Enjoy! And swoon.

Last night as I was laying down with the girls at bedtime, Brynne whispered…”I just want to go to sleep…and eat some beets.”

Looking for more salad ideas? Try these:



With Market Basket on Strike, I’m Glad For a Garden

I always thought my grocery store relationship was unique. Special. It’s like my boyfriend. I mean, I really really love my Market Basket (I’m particular about location.) I know the aisles like I know my house. I can cheerfully direct traffic to the correct aisle. I watch the sales. I brag about the produce seconds. I’m awed by the quality cilantro, delighted that every single variety of apple is always 99 cents/pound. Not to mention the 4% always taken off the bill. Just because. MB loves me like that.

I’ve long raved about my great Market Basket love. And if you haven’t heard or don’t follow east coast grocery store drama, Market Basket is in trouble with a capital T. You can meet the players HERE. A few weeks ago, a family feud forced out a beloved CEO, Arthur T. Workers demanded reinstatement. Employees refused to work. Trucks stopped delivering food. Now, instead of stocking shelves, employees stand outside with signs – HONK FOR SUPPORT.

I always honk. I admire the pluck. And I admire a CEO who can garner such support from his troops. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels love and loyalty.

But I’m struggling. How long do I hold out? We’re on the last loaf of our Market Basket 12-grain bread (2 for $4!) And even if bread is stocked, am I supporting “corporate greed” by shopping there? I just want a loaf of bread. I’m holding out, mostly because I’m too ashamed to walk through the throng of protestors without covering my head with a blanket or wearing a Sydney Bristow wig. Which actually might be awesome.

The last time I shopped at Market Basket was like a Tom Cruise Armageddon movie. Shelves looked ransacked. Except for a few measly and less-than-appealing apples, the produce was gone! The few cashiers left, asked me to sign a petition to bring back Arthur T. I signed…and prayed for deliverance! Whatever it takes – bring me back my Market Basket.

It’s been eye-opening. If there were no grocery stores, we might starve. We have food storage, but our meals are completely dependent on what other people supply. And you know, a food crisis can happen within days – shelves can be emptied in mere hours. We could be subsisting on dandelions.

I dragged my feet this past spring when it came to planting a garden. But now? I’m very thankful for the bounty.DSC_0046Freshly picked strawberries and rhubarb from a neighbor’s garden. Here’s my first attempt. It wasn’t pretty. The crust? Sure, I could grind my own flour. I have a vitamix and a wheat grinder, but I’m mostly dependent on flour from the grocery store.

peasThe peas were the first to pop.

DSC_0605And a beautiful thing it was.

DSC_0355I was scared to plant cabbage. But it grew!

DSC_0169And was turned into our first homemade slaw. It was delicious!

DSC_0214And used in a variety of ways.

IMG_3034Green beans

beetsBeets! Glorious beets.

Here’s one of my workers…I wonder if they would protest if I was fired?DSC_0130

DSC_0064Another worker weeds. The teenagers finally got out of bed after multiple threats from their beloved CEO 🙂 and weeded the blueberry bushes.

DSC_0342 Tomatoes are the slowest, but they are slowly making their way up toward the sun.

blueberriesBlueberries popped this week. If we can keep the birds away we’ll actually have a bumper crop.DSC_0323Nectaries were procured from grocery store. They were pricey even though they are in season. White nectarines? Oh my goodness delicious. This is what I’m overdosing on every day: Full fat Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and nectarines. Satiating and so tasty.

DSC_0266Kale from the garden. Easy and delectable: Saute with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s so good! And for Grandpa’s birthday we gave him a kale bouquet. Cause cookies don’t grow in the garden…but kale does.

kale bouquet

IMG_3036The most delightful surprise this season was the potato!

DSC_0199 Beautiful, purple, fingerling potatoes. We’ve eaten so many potatoes the kids say NO MORE POTATOES PLEASE! DSC_0148 Potatoes grow right in the dirt. You just have to dig for them. And plant them, of course.DSC_0154 The bounty.DSC_0228The purple taters were made into a colorful and tasty potato salad accompanied by our chicken eggs (have you ever noticed how YELLOW farm fresh yolks are?)

DSC_0036Spinach and our first carrot. We were so proud I almost sent out a birth announcement. Morning smoothies have been…adventurous.

DSC_0230 Colorful carrots are tasty any way you slice ’em.DSC_0136 And come out of the ground with such character!DSC_0089Gardening and photography are not naturally compatible – it’s messy! But I could not resist.DSC_0068I thought this was a melon. Sadly, it’s actually some sort of squash or zucchini I don’t recall planting. I’m delegating it to the husband.

IMG_3035My mouth is salivating for these babies to turn red. Tomatoes are the real reason I garden. I’m such a tomato snob that they’re hardly worth eating unless they come from the garden.

DSC_0164 This represents work.DSC_0153And reminds me that everything starts messy. In this case? Worth the mess.DSC_0142It’s worth it even when you can’t account for all the bugs, birds, and roaming deer who are going to eat your hard work.

Grocery stores are a great luxury I used to take for granted. For our family, gardening is a personal hobby, not a necessity. But will it always be like this? If my garden didn’t grow, I’d be incredibly frustrated, but I’d hop skip and jump to the grocery store.

I’ve always been able to depend on the store for food – until I couldn’t.

Though the Market Basket strike is annoying, I’m grateful for the pause. Our food supply is the best in the world. Who else but Americans can always find blackberries, raspberries, and exotic peppers at any time of the year? Real people are growing food for us. But if they disappear, there is no food. And then what? I have a feeling we’d all care a lot less about our Twitter following and a lot more about the wheat harvest.

This summer, when the food disappeared from my grocery store, I could drive to Hannaford or Walmart or Shaws. But with no Market Basket, even they were having a hard time keeping shelves stocked. I felt the panic.

I turned to the garden. We ate local. Real local. Like right from the back yard.

Food is a precious commodity that can be yanked at any moment – leaving us in a precarious situation if we’re not prepared.

I don’t have a garden all year round and I’ll still continue to buy honey rather than keep my own beehive. But if I had to, could I? Could you?


The Live Free or Die Family Reunion (iPhone Style)


Live Free or Die is the NH state motto, so it was only appropriate for the family reunion to follow suit.


You gotta just go with it, says Brynne and Charlotte. The pirate party took this motto to heart and confiscated the electronic devices – in exchange for chocolate and rum – and writing a ransom note.


The pirate body guards were mighty scary :



All of Grandpa’s little rascals


Scout had some great looks. “Are you taking my picture again???”

Had to throw this next one in. As we were standing in line at the grocery store, buying food for yet another hike, we saw the cover of People magazine. And the guy is standing right next to me in line! Ah, it was a beautiful moment. For the record: only one of these guys is a bachelor!

hot swaddle

Baby Luke. Do you like being swaddled?

Every party needs an Allison to organize all of the games:IMG_4430 diaper

We find it necessary to document all events, even changing diapers on the bus. But this just shows the resiliency of the patriots.

The last day everyone was here (except for my twin who had to go back to work in New York), we went to Boston. We ate at Faneuil Hall. Gregor and I had Indian 🙂boston IMG_4286

Headquarters of the Revolution!


Would my brothers have fought in the Revolution? Would I have been a smuggler?

IMG_4300 IMG_4304

One last ocean trip to Wallace Sands…Here are our two oldest teens. I’m putting a plug in for Lime Ricki swimsuits because they are super duper stylish AND modest. They’re having a sale…

IMG_4239 IMG_4259 IMG_4267 IMG_4275

And then, sadly, the porta potty left. Then Eric, Cassie, and Scout. The beginning of the end.

IMG_4444 IMG_4316

We went to a farm for comfort. They served cashew-based ice-cream. A fascinating concept!

IMG_4458 IMG_4463 IMG_4494 IMG_4481

When the goat wouldn’t go back in the pen I decided I would take pictures of my brother corralling it back in. “You’re not helping!” Patrick said.

Alas, the five McDonalds left next. Doggy Tenny wanted them to stay too.IMG_4576

Paige was so sad…


But more cousins came and got on the bus!IMG_4626

And paid homage to the sunset…


We had one last hurrah back at the ocean


And a Red Sox game.


The Sox pulled it out that night after being down by three. Which just goes to show you can never count the good guys out.

The Live Free or Die Reunion was left on the streets of Boston.

Until next time – Carry on, Patriots!


From Porta Potties to Donkeys: How to Host an Epic Family Reunion

Dear Darlings, it has been way too long!

The last three weeks have been jam-packed with back-to-back family reunions hosted by yours truly. After downloading 1000 + photos (seriously, I have a problem), I find it difficult to narrow it all down…

Most of the time, my family travels out west, but this year it was our family’s turn.

Since we live in a very different environment than anyone else in my family, my biggest concern was, would everyone have fun? Would there be enough beds and space for 30 people in our little house? Would we drive each other crazy? Would it be 100 degrees outside with 100% humidity?

My husband’s biggest concern was worrying that our septic tank would explode. So we rented a porta-potty. Which seems like a good place to start this story.

portapottyDelivered in the middle of a rainstorm, the potty came to live in our backyard for a week. The children were mortified and said we officially looked “trashy.” And see those busses? This is how we traveled with 30 people for two weeks.

Epic. Yes.

So what do we do out here in New Hampshire for fun?

MN6TWcpM6vRWlpnq76Q4GsFPrLhYI8uuA7Cw_1JA-lY,rj0RIxuy3uSeKoe4trzc3UQCgi2XF22ZLg0Yl97bvgQ We introduced everyone to our neighbors

fZulrVWn433qVPZukqXk_N-NZOuipOwgLWYf9bcBpF4,vFnpN5uJxeBDCSJTE6Xxv5UVFm7ztDLsaFOqEguFlacAnd had lessons on how to survive in the wilderness

65KvBJTnSIPFR277kCiNyHFyBHMyl1yD1OhJnCpHKks,ZGDi6oWvJ_QBql23JNig_sho9iT-sc6XmuJ3NzluPKw,U2duGjDEhYbHLhnM45tDGHDcNo7rvZEJTLipMBkcLtUWe took walks. This picture makes me so happy because 1. My husband has his Wolverine beard and 2. The men are pushing the strollers. My brothers are such good dads.

JzwnpKiFypxDfC47QJfMLWLRMcjy3lr6xv34724MUXI,TQPMyPZvvXlYmp2wJL-10Qz8oliIQXCQV34fnkDBvUQ-3Thankfully the weather was magnificent most of the time (after Hurricane Arthur came through, that is.) Thanks, Cass, for the beautiful shot!

DSC_0182We ate A LOT of good food, rotating the cooking among every family and keeping track with a big chart on the wall. That is a organizational post all by itself!

DSC_0523And each evening we ate outside while the sun went down, followed by a devotional which everyone took turns giving. Fantastic thoughts.

Where did we all sleep? Each family had a bedroom and we had three tents outside for kids. And when that still wasn’t enough, my in-laws hosted my brother and his wife and kids.hike We hiked Mount KearsargeDSC_0143 Where it was so windy we almost got blown off the mountaintop!

DSC_0154 DSC_0158Cousins. Cope and Savannah already plan on rooming together in college. Which is a mere three years away. Stop it.DSC_0265We live so far away from family that once a year is all the face-to-face time we get. No matter what, we make the once-a-year family reunion happen. Even though it costs money. Even though it takes time, travel, scheduling headaches, and family picture outfit coordinating. We make it happen. And we have the best time. And cousins are best of friends.DSC_0283And my son finally has some men around! 4tC8eldRFSIL2OGoRAOmDryegiMXBh7r42-5s0yEzPY,0q3b93zYA5SU8n1UvzCyQoJBaB7b9a-r9HeutjC0cGI We took the family to all the hot spots – like this icy cold rock slide on the Kancamagus. We were so proud of our little Ernie who is obviously enjoying the water.DSC_0553 The key to hosting a family reunion with so many people in a little house is to not actually be in the house. Here is the top of Mount Major, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, my husband’s favorite lake in the world. DSC_0537The hike wasn’t exactly the Death March we hiked three years ago, but it wasn’t a piece of cake either. Here we climbed up trails with giant spider legs. 5-year-old Tate said, “You never know what scary things lurk in the forest!”DSC_0576 Here is Glenn, Kim, Tate, and Finn from Denver. Kim is pregnant with TWINS (happy dance!) and was nauseous the whole time she was here, but she made it all the way up (miles!), dragging a child behind her and speaking in a much sweeter voice than I ever could. That, is my definition of toughness.DSC_0568 All the Makechnie cousins who can do hard things.DSC_0586Here we are wondering why in the world we didn’t bring water bottles? We put on a smile anyway and subsisted on small blueberries all the way down the mountain.

DSC_0412We went to the ocean. Here’s my dad from Arizona, brother Patrick, and sweet baby Luke all the way from Sunnyvale California.DSC_0434We all loved the ocean, even the freezing New Hampshire waterDSC_0431 Trey came from South Jordan, Utah. He liked the boogie boardDSC_0365 Darling Baby Charlotte from New YorkDSC_0366 _xUq4bnQ2KrsnJEF7nfGuC_QVQPzTLFMFw9xn0so76c,hpPPE-0dX_0YiVXWbTG9ruFOp8IFDklWcCeUFGl38jI

One day we left Grandma and Grandpa with the babies and went to the big city of Boston. We pondered great questions like “Which pastry shop is better? Modern Pastry or Mike’s?” My loyalty lies with Mike’s.

DSC_0525Grandma hosted her annual pirate party. Here the grandchildren watch The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. They also drink “rum.”DSC_0504 We lit fires in the backyardDSC_0530And as soon as they came, they had to go. And this was very sad.

But not to worry, I have 1000 pictures to choose from. We can just keep this theme going a little longer…more to come 🙂




18. How Many Summers Do You Have Left?

A couple of years ago I wrote down all the places I wanted to go with my children during summer vacation. I was then shocked to realize there were more places than years before my children were 18.

It was kind of a terrible reminder. Children grow up.IMG_1148This little boy would not swim without a face mask covering his nose. Until one day he did.

IMG_0955Sometimes those family trips in the car felt like they would never ever ever ever end…until they do.

IMG_4387Streaking is getting more rare. How sad.

IMG_4777 So is biting


IMG_9726 paige


18 summers!??? Does that feel like forever? Oh yes…especially on a boring, hot humid day where the house is an absolute disaster and no one cleans up and you’re going crazy.

IMG_1482 IMG_2602 DSC_0733


But I only have four summers left with this girl still at home.

It’s not a guilt trip. Just a reminder: make this summer a good one.



The End of Summer Dance

We dress up and dance around the yard to celebrate summer and the beginning of school and fall…
We smile and clap when we get our very first chicken eggs!  Good girls, er, chickens!

Um.  Well.  I was going to keep this quiet.  In case I died of running too many miles.  This was an 18 mile day.  Really.  I didn’t die.  It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. Dear brother-in-law, inspirational Glenn,  texted me in early August:  “Are you in or are you out?”  I had to say, “IN.”  We are running the Hartford marathon October 12. Tomorrow’s training run: the 20-miler.  If you don’t hear from me again, I’m somewhere out there…and it was so good knowing you.

I hate buying gas.  I don’t know why, but getting out of the car to pump gas seems like such a waste of time.  It occurred to me that I don’t have to pump the gas anymore.  I have children.  Awesome.

You know why our chickens lay eggs?  Because I feed them.  This is a 40-pound bag of chicken feed that brings back the wedding advice I foolishly ignored:  “Never do once what you don’t want to do for the rest of your life.”  The good times just keep getting better!

I should have never started doing laundry either.  You can see I obviously don’t do my hair.

Soccer coaching has begun.  I love my whistle.  Especially since I can’t raise my voice.

Cope is happy she gets to mow the lawn!  
Father and daughter discuss mowing strategy

The weekly letter typed on a typewriter.  Let it be known that we will never have a parrot.

Eldest got a phone.  This is what she does at the beach now.

I look up and want to fly, too

No parrot, just Purr the Cat

My first Red Sox game – it was awesome!  I could get into this.  The crowd was really mean to A-Rod.  And he still hit it out of the park.  How do you have that mental edge?

The Fab Four

While out in Hanover, we went to Dartmouth and Gregor opened the vaults to find his thesis – it was there!  All theses are printed, bound, and kept in circulation. I’m digging the pink shirt.

Garden tomatoes and basil.  Yes to happy.
We even smile when school has to start.  It’s an odd thing, that there are only three of them starting elementary/middle school.  Eldest daughter was sleeping in.

Girls who will still hold their daddy’s hand.

But someone is having a wee bit of a tough time adjusting to a full day.  She’s been to the nurse every day.  They sit and eat saltines together and then she goes back to class.  “It’s too long,” she sobs.  “I miss my Mama!”

The girl left this morning for a four-day wilderness trip in the mountains.  All incoming students at her high school have to go out on orientation.  She was nervous, excited, and then, vanished.  I wonder what she’s doing now?  It’s so dark outside.

It’s just me and the snake.  We keep busy.  He hangs out on the porch and for some reason I miss him when he’s not there.  And I don’t even like snakes.
Good-bye summer, hello Fall. 
It’s a brave new world out there!