Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Happy birthday, Sophia!

Dear Sophia,

Your birthday is one of my very favorite days of the year. Reflecting on the person you are and the family we've created is such a gift.

This year has been one that will be a marker in our lives. The hard parts of life are the growing opportunities, and you have grown deeply. This year has brought disappointment, loss, fear and change. You have allowed these to be opportunities for growth and reaching out instead of isolation. I am amazed by you every day.

We have had much to celebrate this year, too, and those lovely days have been all the more sweet and full because you have felt the true range of feelings. Your sweet, outgoing spirit has been a joy for us and for all your friends. This year has brought new depth to your friendships, as well, and I'm so excited to watch that happening.

You are a remarkable girl. I am so grateful to be able to be one of your guides for this part of your life. Each year, from here on out, will be leaps and bounds as you develop and strengthen your spirit. I can't wait to see what this year holds for you and our family.

Love you deeply,


Thursday, August 24, 2017


I love evenings like this. I got to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Imagine my surprise when as soon as I opened the first window, I burst into tears. It was in that moment that I realized I haven't opened the windows since Gabriella, our beautiful and complicated cat, had to be put down.

Gabriella hadn't been eating most of the spring or summer. Just refusing food, then not able to keep down anything I could force or hand feed her. She had still been herself for the most part. Actually, not quite herself. She had been so sweet and snuggly and kind to all of us. That was our first clue. The blood tests came back clear, so the next level of tests were a huge cost with no guarantee of result. Meanwhile, she continued to waste away. Before we could decide for sure about the tests, we left on vacation while Sophia's babysitter checked on her daily.

When I came home from vacation without Erick and Sophia in order to go to Illinois for Grandma's funeral, Gabriella was not well. She yelled for hours that first night. When I got home after the funeral and day at the farm, she was miserable. I won't describe it because it's too sad.

She was such a good cat. I honestly miss her a ton. She was a great friend and her ornery spirit always managed to bring a smile to my face, even when her claws drew blood. Gabriella was a great cat, and she cannot be replaced. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

First Day of Fifth Grade

Sophia headed off to fifth grade this morning. It's her last year in elementary school. Captain makes fifth graders feel special all year, and they do a wonderful job of helping them transition to middle school. She has had a rough few weeks of nervous energy and fears around the beginning of school, but she was off and ready this morning!

Leo and I are adjusting, but maybe a little sad...

It really does promise to be a great year. And the routine of school is going to be a lift for all of us! I'm excited to see what this year brings. For me, it looks like I'm going to still be at home - spending my time volunteering and with a small job. I get to focus on helping Sophia and myself, and Erick when he needs it, through everything that comes next!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Goodbyes are so hard

My Grandma Lock passed away a week ago yesterday. It's hard for me to write about this particular loss for some reason. Maybe it's because she never liked to be the center of attention. Maybe it's just because I'm not ready. Since I know I'll never be ready, I'll just give it a go.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I believe that it's hard to write about her because she was too essential to describe. It's like trying to describe the ocean just by talking about the waves. Or describing a quilt just by using color. I can't find the right way to describe what she meant to me because every time I try to pin it down, it slips away. Here are my best efforts.

Grandma was as constant as the stars. Always there with a cup of tea and an ear when you needed it. She was the best listener. It must have been the practice of living with an epic storyteller. She always seemed to know when you had a story to share and just how to draw it out.

I will miss her whimsy the most. When we were kids, she loved to tell us stories about the fairies and the sprites. All of her favorite recipes included a good story as their most important ingredient. With the practical, and sometimes hard, life that is farming, my grandparents - especially grandma - made sure to take time out to have light-hearted fun.

Service was her daily bread. I don't know that she went a day of her life, at least as long as I knew her, without doing at least one thing for someone who needed it. She was always thinking of others, trying to ease the burden of someone else. It's what did the most to ease her own.

The surface has been scratched. I hate saying goodbye. Sophia and I are baking up a storm and sharing it with our world. Grandma made the world a better place every day, and I'll try to do the same.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Little Grand Canyon - Pomona, IL

Although I haven't been great about posting about it, we are still trying to do some of the 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of St. Louis. 

There is one in particular that I've had my eye on since we got the book. The description is so lovely and the length was just right (3.8 miles). I've wanted to go for years, but the reality is that it is two hours away from us. Also, with the unknown, that can make for a very miserable day with a child who hates being hot and/or tired.

So, being as today was my first day with Sophia away at Cub Creek Camp, I decided to keep my mind off how much I miss her by finally going on this hike. 

After a pretty lengthy jaunt along a ridge, I was starting to wonder when I was going to see some of the vistas promised in the book.

Finally, I came to this. Now, I've been on several hikes in Illinois that have this same view, so I admit that I was a little disappointed and confused. The "Little Grand Canyon" wasn't seeming very canyony.

Back at the beginning of the trail, there had been a sign that said the lower trails were closed because of flooding. However, since there weren't any actual barriers, and I'm sure the sign was old, I decided to take off on one of the lower trails.

While the trail was lovely and dotted with streams, I was having a hard time understanding the fuss. It just felt like I was in a steep valley more than a canyon.

Then, I happened upon the end of the trail, so to speak. The only way forward was down and through.

This was looking back up a draw after I had descended it. Now we were talking. I was not exactly positive that I was on the right path, but I came across some other hikers at just the moment I was starting to doubt.

After a lengthy hike and splash through lots of canyon like the one above, I emerged into this:

I'm still not sure exactly what that was, but the ground was still soft from flooding. The only way to go was to turn back into the woods. I wasn't sure I was on the right trail because through here it was all flat and cleared out from water. Footprints were helpful, but going many different directions. Then I noticed the diamond. I had seen them earlier but didn't need them. Once I spotted them on this side, I was grateful!

The rest of this lower hike was next to a steep cliff and a little stream. Very nice and peaceful. Then I came to the next sign.

Go back the way you came or up the draw. So, I went up the draw. The picture below is the first of many levels.

It was an incredibly fun hike. However, I won't be taking Sophia back with me. Even if she could make it up and down the draws without slipping or deal with the mosquitos, I'm sure she couldn't deal with the piles of larvae that I had to pass to get out of there.

So glad I took this little adventure! A rigorous hike with lots to see, but really none of the views I was expecting. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017


When I married Erick fifteen years ago, fifteen years sounded like a long time. Now, I realize fifteen years is just the beginning. I don't feel like we have reached some sort of threshold or that we've made it. I am still amazed every day that I get to wake up next to my favorite person - even when I don't want to admit he's my favorite.

Fifteen years ago, we were kids. We're still young and have a lot to learn about each other and ourselves. It's the best part of my life. And I have lots to be grateful for. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Hey this is Sophia! Today I would like to tell you how my dream came true. Well, almost... Today my mom told me that doing horse back riding for a month is almost as expensive as pasture boarding a horse. ( That means we would get to keep our horse in the pasture. ) So my parents said that if I take a break from lesson, didn't do shows, and no pony club. I could possibly get my very own horse. Now I know you are probably thinking, " Sophia, just wait to get a horse until you can do all that!" But you don't understand, I have wanted a horse ever sense I started horse back riding almost 4 years ago. So the fact that it is possible to get a horse of my own. I would get to ride anytime I wanted to. My mom said I could do practice shows too. So yeah. But my parents said, "We will not be getting a horse in 2017." But 2018 is so far away. :(  But by the time 2018 rolls around I might be a lot better of a horse rider and not need as much work as far as lessons go. Having a horse would be a time commitment, but one I am very ready to take!