Williamsburg in Summer

Williamsburg in Summer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Look who is a Girl Scout!

So I turned 40 this month.  What did I do?  I joined the Girl Scouts?  Can't think of a clearer way to symbolize a mid-life crisis.  As part of my commitment, apparently I have made a pledge:

Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:

  To serve God
    and my country,
  To help people at all times,
  And to live by the
    Girl Scout Law.

In all seriousness...I did join the Girl Scouts of America, but only because Kate joined the Girl Scouts, and I had to be a member to volunteer for her troop. She is officially a Daisy this year.  We have never been a Boy Scout or Girl Scout family.  Well, I take that back.  I vaguely remember my brothers doing scouts for awhile.   I remember my best friend, Michelle, was a Brownie, but I never sold cookies or camped or earned badges when I was little.  I don't think it was never given to me as an option.  And although Josh is ALWAYS prepared, he never joined the Scouts either.

Last year Kate was in kindergarten, and we got a flyer to sign up.  We were new to the area, and I had no real sense of a schedule or agenda for the year. I just put the information in the huge "to look at later" pile that resides on the side of my desk.  Then sometime in October when later equated with missed the deadline to join, I tossed the flyer in the recycle bin.   I didn't give it much thought until all the other girls in the neighborhood were going off to Daisy meetings.  And I wondered if I had missed an opportunity for Kate.

All the kindergarten girls in our neighborhood were lucky enough to all be in the same class at school.  Living in walking distance to one another and being in the same class was a great way to get introduced to the wonderful community we now live in.  By the end of the school year, Kate was starting to make some good friends, and she was beginning to feel like this was home now.  With first grade came the introduction of many classrooms; some friends remained her in class but others were spread out down the hallway.  Daisies seemed like a good chance to keep Kate connected to the girls' who were in different classes this year and continue to make new friendships.  And I am all for any organization that encourages my daughter to serve others and be helpful and kind. 

I think Kate is going to love being a part of this troop.  We have a Mother-Daughter Tea coming up in the fall, and I am sure Kate will dress as if she was going to the Queen's corrination.  And there are at least two camping outings planned.  Kate has been begging to go to camping for well over a year now so she will be beside herself with excitement when I tell her the plans.

As for me...I get to be fall product sales coordinator.  And I get to meet a lot of wonderful moms who are in my neighborhood and have girls Kate's age.  I think I may be blessed by this venture as much as Kate will be.  It's good to be connected to community again. 

But if I think about it long enough, I still find myself giggling at the thought of being a Girl Scout.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9-11

Today, my 7 year old daughter went to a flag raising ceremony for an event that she knew nothing about.  She wasn't alive the day the twin towers crashed into the core of America's heart.  She doesn't remember the fear that gripped the nation nor the tears that we shed for weeks.  She doesn't feel the ache that still lingers after so many, many years.

In some ways I envy her not knowing.  She has an innocence that most of America lost 13 years ago.   She had that innocence until today. 

Today I told her.  I told her about 9-11.  I told her about the many lives that were lost.  I told her about the pain our country felt.  I told her why it is important that we remember.  There are still many details I will wait to tell her, but the important part is she knows.  She now knows that being an American means being united with people that loss something great.  She knows that our country is worth fighting for.  She now understands a bit more why sometimes people have to go to war to protect what they believe in.  She learned a little more about what it means to have pride in America. I hope the flag will mean a little more after today.  I told her so we all can remember.

Ironically, I found a poem today that my mom wrote on the 1st anniversary of 9-11.  It is twelve years since she wrote the poem, but it spoke to me as if it had been written today.  I am trusting she won't mind me sharing it here. 

In remembrance...  by Donna Gallagher

The wind is restless today...
Not violent...not gentle...just restless
Stirring grass, trees and leaves
Stirring memories as we grieve

New York, PA, DC
Flags and Tears flow free
Memories etched in souls
Ashes now grown cold

Remember-we must do
Honor those we knew
Salute the men of blue
Stand strong - resolve anew

Our President declared
We'll fight and will not fear
Each name, each story lost
With resolve we'll count the cost

Today, the anniversary,
Infamous day in history
Neither wind nor the lot we see
But we feel their presence in every breeze

The wind is restless today...
Stirring every soul
Souls standing on blood soaked ground
And those set free and heaven bound

The wind is restless today...
Brushing cheeks of streaming tears
Shaking off remaining fears

The wind carries a gentle embrace
To all who remember a missing face
Let it blow, let it stir within all who feel
Let it descend with hope, let it heal

September 11, 2002

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Busy Weekend...

Since last October Nathan has been asking almost weekly when we will be able to back to the pumpkin patch.  And Kate has been eager to get to an apple orchard for an afternoon of picking.   This weekend we made both the kids happy, and we had a lot of quality family time in the process.

Saturday morning while Josh was working hard, Grandma Ann, Kate, Nathan and I headed to a small mom and pop orchard just down the road from us.  Being new to the area we are still exploring the farms trying to find out which ones to frequent.  I'm not sure I'll be going back to this one, but we made the best of it and the kids had a lot of fun scouting out the good apples.  Kate got to pick from the tree this year - only having to jump for a few branches.  Nathan searched the ground for apples worthy of taking home - and at a 50% discount since they were on the ground.  Not bad.    We have a large bowl for eating and another bowl waiting for me to make them into applesauce this week.

On Sunday we met my parents at Brookfield Farm in Frederick, Maryland.  This was our third year returning to their Pumpkin Patch.  We love that we are supporting a local farm.  I also love the emphasis on autumn harvest rather than Halloween.  No witches or ghosts to be found at this farm.  It was an added blessing having Papa and Gigi there to find the perfect pumpkin...or pumpkins as the case was.

The hay ride is one of Nathan's favorite parts of the pumpkin  patch!  He and Kate both got to sit on the tractor. 

Daddy made it fun game searching the fields for the perfect shaped pumpkin.  Daddy picked his and the kids got to choose their own too!
 Papa Gallagher and Gigi both left with pumpkins too.  Gigi and I both took home a Jarrahdale Blue Pumpkin.  They are know for a sweet flavor and make a fantastic soup.

They also have a field of cooking squash.  I usually stock up on my butternut for the winter.  I must have left with about 15 -20 pounds of butternut squash.  And tonight we had one of my favorite fall soups with one of Sunday's picks:  Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash Soup.  (See side bar for the recipe.)

The day was beautiful on Sunday, high 70's with sunshine and a cool breeze.  The fresh air was hypnotic calling us on to another adventure.  Josh suggested we stop by Cunningham Falls State Park and take the kids on a hike to the base of the falls.  They had a blast!  We all had a blast!  I love hiking with the kids and Josh.  I look forward to doing more of it in the future.

 Nathan searched long and hard for a walking stick.  He couldn't have been more proud of his find!

I love autumn - the crisp air, the bright blue skies contrasting with the magnificent reds, oranges and yellows of the changing leaves.  The smell of fireplaces burning in the evening.  The roadside stands filled with Honeycrisp apples, squash, and corn.  It has always been my favorite season.  You can take the girl out of New England but never New England out of the girl. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

School Days

Kate has begun kindergarten.  She is doing very well.  Being a teacher, I've been watching Kate and encouraging her to start reading, but she has never been interested in my willingness to instruct her.  She wanted to play not read.   I knew that once she was ready it would kick in, and I hoped that some of my academic genes would be in her too.   I am happy to say, Kate is LOVING school and is asking me to teach her things when she gets home.  I am LOVING that!   Here are a few highlights from Kate's first weeks of school.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Best Farm with Kate and Papa Gallagher

A few weeks ago, Kate and I met my parents at Best Farm in Frederick, Maryland, for an impromptu photo shoot. I love having one kid to my self and being able to do something special with that child.  We had a fun time focusing on Katie Norah, and ended up with some great shots.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summertime...Summertime...gone to the breeze of autumn's whisper

I really do hate it when I let months go by without posts.  I so enjoy writing.  And this blog is one outlet for me.  But this summer has been CRAZY!!!!!    It is all a big blur.  But I wanted to fill you in on a few highlights to catch us up to date.

JUNE:  MOVING, UNPACKING and more unpacking

We moved into our new house on June 1st.  We love our community here in Purcellville, Virginia.  It has been fun exploring new roads, towns, playgrounds, and shops.  It has also been fun getting to know the neighbors.  All in all we are so blessed to be living int he home we have in the community we are in.

 Kate and Nathan at town hall.
 Nathan had to visit the local fire department!  They have free ice-scream sundaes every month throughout the summer.  It is a very big hit with my kids!

Hamilton Park has also become a favorite spot for my kids.
Papa Dan took the kids to Leesburg Animal Park one afternoon.  That was a lot of fun!

And Kate lost her first tooth in June with the second tooth falling out soon after.

JULY:  ROAD TRIP - Ann was spending some time in Washington state with her daughters and other grandchildren.  Then she was tasked with driving their car back to Virginia.   Ann made a few stops to visit family in Oregon and Idaho.  Then I met up with her in Utah to finish the drive.  We spent a few extra days in Moab, Utah, exploring Capital Reef National Park (my favorite), Arches National Park, and Canyonlands.  Amazing country- like nothing I have ever seen before.   I loved being there.


 Nathan and Kate tracked our progress across the country on a big map that Papa Dan set up for them.  Each night they would mark our route after I called in to say goodnight. 

 We were blessed to see an amazing sunset as we drove across Kansas.  Beautiful.
 The history teacher in my loved the historic monuments.  I was very excited to see the Mississippi River too.  Our country is so big and so diverse - I hope I get to see a lot more of it years to come. It was a fun trip for me, but it was also the longest I've been away from my kids.  I was ready to get home.

AUGUST: Fair and birthdays!

I made sure I was home from my trip in time for two occassions:  the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair and Kate's 6th birthday.  It's a tradition now that we go to the fair on her actual birthday.  Both kids were so excited and looking forward to it, so Josh and I decided we would drive back to Maryland so they could go to the fair again.  Plus, Kate's pre-school teacher, Mrs. Russo, has lambs and pigs in the fair.  She was willing to give the kids a behind the scenes look at the animals.  Can't resist that, now could we?  :)

 Keeping with the animal theme, we had a pony birthday party.  Kate has been very interested in horses this summer.  She was able to visit a friend's horse in July and something clicked with her.  I definetely see horseback riding lessons in Kate's future.  Good thing we live in horse country now.

Kate leading Harper down a path.  Big horse.  Little Kate.  Nervous Mommy.  But they did great together!  At Kate's party we had a pony that gave each of the kids rides.  And another minature horse that the kids could pet, and groom and "decorate".  It was a lot of fun.

August also brought us a new family member, Salem the kitten.  He is the most tolerant cat I have ever met.  Kate adores him! She had been asking for a kitten for 2 years now.  So thought her birthday would be a good occasion to grant her wish. Salem is technically Kate's cat, but we all love him.  We adopted him from the animal shelter at 4 months of age.  He is the perfect blend of tolerant and playful.

It's been a good summer.   A busy one, but one full of laughter, blessing, and family.