Mt. Jackson 7.8.15

We have been very slowly chipping away at the 48 NH 4000 footers list. For the past couple of years we have camped in Crawford Notch and so we’ve been trying to check off some of the easier ones in that area. This year we decided to do Mt. Jackson.

The sky was trying to decide whether to keep raining or not when we got up but we decided to give it a go anyway. It was expected to clear up and we figured we could always turn around if it got too wet.


We found the trailhead just south of the depot on 302. The parking is across the street and the trail head itself is a bit hidden from the road. Well maybe not if you were driving at a reasonable pace. Maybe I’m providing commentary on Steve’s driving, not on the trail head.

It was pretty steady climbing. Not difficult, but steady. And it became painfully clear that I was woefully out of shape. But onwards and upwards, right?

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The trail was quiet. We passed one other couple and then a large group of campers passed us in the opposite direction. I was surprise how quiet it was. I realize it was a Wednesday but it was still VERY quiet. This was our first glimmer of a view.


At some point Tess decided to help me bring up the rear. (No pun intended).  She’d scamper ahead and then wait for me to catch up. It actually worked out quite nicely, giving her plenty of breaks and letting the boys go up ahead.


When we finally made it to the top it was amazing


And windy. So very windy. We rushed through the obligatory family shot on the summit and looked for a more sheltered shot to have lunch.


One last selfie before we headed back down. I just can’t help myself. I carry the camera and so if I want to be in the picture without having to set up some sort of self timer precariously perched situation, selfies it is.


We headed back down the way we came.


And here was my moment of panic. How in the world was I going to get down that?


I mean he looks like he’s walking off the edge of the mountain. So I scooted on my bum. Slowly. But surely.

Here is Steve carrying the kids’ hiking poles. And my pack. While taking the dog.


Speaking of the dog, she has apparently decided that she doesn’t need a stinking bridge. Ever.


But she’s so cute, I’ll forgive her for the mud.


We stopped to have a snack at the Silver Cascade crossing. The boys had gotten pretty far ahead from Tess and me and so we set that as our meeting place. Tess wanted a candy break and we were trying to ration all of our stops so we could get to the car. The kids had fun playing in the water until Tess slid in and came up drenched to her armpits.

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But still with a smile on her face. I would NOT be smiling, let me assure you. All in all a fabulous hike on what turned out to be a gorgeous day.



Every now and then I find myself with a moment of spare time and I find myself back on the create new post screen. But it always trips me up when I attempt to answer the same question – Do I address the fact that I’m a terrible blogger and the fact that it’s been a few days since I last wrote (534 to be exact)? Or do I ignore the 534 pound elephant in the room and just write like no time has passed. And so I sit, typing and retyping, until my moment is gone and life calls me back. And so it sits, relegated to the drafts folder for another day.

So today I’m doing both. Or neither. I still haven’t decided.

But the truth of it is that I was pretty consistent for a while there… and now when I log into Facebook in the morning and it tells me I have memories to look back on (a feature that feeds my need for nostalgia, by the way) it is often a blog post. And it makes me miss writing, and capturing our little adventures.

Our life has been full these last few months. I don’t want to say busy, because busy has become an affliction. And while there are days that waking up at 5:30 on a Sunday morning to drive two hours to a soccer game is not my first choice, it is our choice and we are blessed to be able to make that choice so I don’t, under any circumstances, want to come off as complaining. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start back to school for my Masters. Sure I don’t adore spending my weekends working on Cost Accounting, but I realize that I made that choice and I am grateful for it.

But the reality of it is that school is out for summer and there’s an unfamiliar pause in the grueling soccer schedule of a 10 year boy. Dance classes can wait for one more week. The woods are calling. There’s a mountain top with our names on it and it’s waiting for us. Shhhh, can you hear it?

Less is More

I’m feeling inspired. Maybe I’m just a little overwhelmed by the onslaught of Christmas stuff that is still hanging around 27 days later. But I think it may be more than that. It seems as if signs keep adding up and leading me in a certain direction. A friend of mine has been recently talking about Tiny Houses. I’ve been following some minimalist pages on Facebook with catchy slogans about being more with less, about not letting your possessions possess you. I’ve joined the 2014 in 2014 decluttering challenge at Nourishing Minimalism.

And somewhere it has struck a chord within my heart.

Before Steve starts hyperventilating – I am not packing up my family and moving them into a 200 square foot home… yet. But I am committing to taking steps towards a more simple way of living. As Steve has so kindly reminded me, we can’t live in a 200 sq foot space if I can’t remember to close cabinet doors. But baby steps, right?

I look around my living room and I see stuff. Stuff to clean, stuff to put away, stuff to manage. I can’t sit and read this book, I need to clean. Not that I do, but you know what I mean…

Thinking back to my word for 2014 I’m starting to think that maybe this is a natural progression. Respect. Do not take more than you need. Live simply so that others may simply live.

This is my (mini) manifesto.

  1. To minimize our possessions. What do we need? Really. Just because we have a place to hide it doesn’t mean we should keep it. Do we use it? Do we love it?
  2. To eat simply. Real foods. Mostly plants. Local when possible.  Does it nourish? Does it feed our soul or does it burden us with toxins?
  3. To move. In nature. To run, to hike, to play. To feel dirt between our toes and fingers. To witness the miracle of creation.
  4. To show gratitude. To others. To God.
  5. To share love. Love of self, love of others.
  6. To lead my children by example and hopefully help them to create a love for life and others and not things.

Aren’t all these things ultimately about respect? I don’t know where this will lead. Maybe this is just too much caffeine on a Sunday morning. But for now I am just going to let this be and see where it takes me. And I’ll leave you with this:

source: becoming minimalist
source: becoming minimalist

Pages, Snowflakes and Other Miscellaneous Reasons Not to Leave the House

On Friday morning we woke up to another bonus vacation day. School was supposed to start back up Thursday but Mother Nature had other ideas. 24 hours of snow meant that we could spend our time in the warm cocoon of our house. I love snow days. I love the opportunity to cuddle up and be lazy relax. It’s like the sky is providing us with thousands of unique excuses of why we have to stay inside today. It’s not like I take much convincing, but it’s nice to have a reason why I’m not leaving the couch.

It’s the perfect day to fall into a book and have the hours disappear. I have been in a phase of devouring books lately. In the past two weeks I have read five books.  2400 pages, to be exact. Speaking of thousands of reasons not to leave the house… 2400 reasons why my dishes aren’t done, the laundry isn’t folded and I’m wandering around the house with a dazed look on my face. Because the truth of the matter is I don’t devour books as much as they devour me. I fall into them like Alice into the looking glass and the rest of the world falls away. I tried to explain it to Steve this summer when I went through another phase of devouring. “The book takes me in and even my inner monologue starts taking on the book’s style.” Crickets. “You know, that voice inside your head that narrates your life as you’re living in.” Blank stare. “Uh, you do that too, don’t you?” I really must remember that some thoughts are inside your head thoughts.

I started vacation with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Nothing like starting out on a cheery note, huh? I don’t know what I expected. Please, if anyone can recommend a book about the Holocaust that will not make me feel like the grand canyon has opened up in my soul by the end, please,please share. I’m convinced that’s why I love the Sound of Music so much. There’s nothing like 4 hours of singing through the mountains to let you pretend there was a happy outcome to at least one story. Unless it’s a the live version of the Sound of Music. That opens up a whole different cavern in your soul, but I digress.

From there I tried to change things up by reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. It was a beautiful mix of fairy tales and family history switching between narrators successfully as compared to some recent attempts I have read that left me wondering what the heck was going on every time they swapped voices.

After this I picked up Bridget Jones #3 by Helen Fielding. I read the first three lines and I put it down. Apparently I was the only person on the planet who didn’t know that Mark Darcy isn’t in the book. It would seem that I should read the book jacket BEFORE checking books out from the library from now on. But come on, it’s Bridget Jones. Is there any way I’m really not going to read it? I suffered through the second book, I can certainly muscle my way through the third. But something happened about 20 pages in. I laughed so hard, I snorted. I’m not ashamed. Maybe I have a weakness for poop jokes, but in the time it took to read 2 pages I had forgiven Helen Fielding for doing the unthinkable and I was in the boat. The beautiful, hilarious, drunken calorie counting boat. And there were points that made me cry, but in the end the funny outweighed the sad and I loved it, and I’m not ashamed to say it.

We had finally made it back to our local library and I grabbed I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak and The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton because I had enjoyed the other books by them. I Am the Messenger was a disappointment. The writing was choppy and I didn’t really care what happened but I finished the book hoping it would get better. It never really did. The Secret Keeper started out much the same. It was tedious reading at first. I didn’t care about the characters or really care for them at all. We were trying to solve some big mystery that as it was progressing mattered less and less to me. I was frustrated because I had enjoyed The Forgotten Garden so much. But I have a hard time abandoning a book so I pushed through. And the payoff was there. I only wish it hadn’t taken 250 pages to get there…

We forced encouraged Miles to branch out in his reading choices. If he re-read one of those Diary of A Wimpy Kid books one more time…. We went on a family field trip to Gibson’s. He picked out three new series to start reading and right now he’s ‘Shhh, don’t bother me’ deep in the Ranger’s Apprentice book 1. He falls into books the way I do. It makes my heart happy to watch him read, to watch his face as he discovers a new world unfolding on the pages before him.


And Tess? Miss ‘I Can’t Read Anything’ proudly read Pete’s New Lunch to us. Over. And over. And over. I think it’s time for another trip to the library.





I’ve chosen my word for 2014. Respect. So in keeping with my tradition of always having a song stuck in my head, I need to find out what it means to me.

Respect others. We need to work on this in our house. As an unnamed child sat on the couch playing video games, the comment came out with a bit of a snarl. “I thought you were making hot chocolate.” My less than dignified response came back with a bark. I’m not going to even repeat it here, but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of “I know you are, but what am I?” (Which one of us is 9?) I know I just can’t stand in the kitchen and bark about being respectful and respecting your parents. I need to create an atmosphere in this house of respect. A lofty goal, indeed.

Respect myself. This takes on several different forms:

Respect my body. Is it respectful to hide over by the slider shoving cupcakes in my mouth so that no one catches me? Nope. Is it respectful to sit on the couch playing Candy Crush when I could be exercising? Not so much. Which also leads me to…

Respect my time. I have zero time management skills. I squander my time and then try to cram an impossible amount of tasks into a ridiculously small amount of time. It’s obscene, really.

Respect other people’s time. Nobody wants to wait for me because I’m running late…again. While we’re at it, my kids don’t need to see Frenzied Mummy because I sat on the couch playing one more level of Candy Crush when I should have been getting ready in a calm manner. Steve called me out on this last week (he needs to do that more often, but don’t tell him) I had a leisurely morning doing nothing and then I kicked it into warp speed because we were going to be late…again. I started barking out orders and whipping the house into a frenzy. Steve stood in the kitchen. “Nope. You’re not stressing us all out today.” He was that lighthouse in the pictures with the ocean crashing around all sides.

Respect my limitations. Part of respecting my time means learning what is humanly possible to achieve within said time. My intentions are always usually good, but I tend to underestimate what I’m taking on, over promise and ultimately under deliver. Steve and I sat on the couch watching Christmas Vacation. It was then that the frightening realization hit me. “I’m Clark.” Without looking at me, “If you mean that you always turn things into a bigger project and make things insane, well…” Insert shock and horror, “But my intentions are always good…” Silence. I suppose there’s a reason they say that thing about the road to hell and it’s paving method of choice.

Respect my passions. There are certain things that feed my soul. I need to do more of them. Up there when I talked about time – I need to fill my free time with those things. (Part of the reason I’m trying to write (type?) again)

So that’s where I stand. 9 hours and 51 minutes into 2014. I’m sure that my definition will evolve and change. But I’m hoping that it stays as the underlying theme of my year. My goal right now is to check in with my word periodically. Reset and realign. But I’m not making any promises. It’s that whole respecting my limitations thing.


The Rhythm of Summer

I hate summer vacation. Yes, I said it. But it’s not for the reasons you may think. I’m not longingly counting the days until school starts. In fact, much the opposite. This is my opinion of summer vacation:

You decide to go on a relaxing raft ride down the lazy river. It takes you a little bit to figure out how to find a comfortable lounging position but you finally get the hang of it when suddenly you hear the rushing of the falls ahead. Suddenly you find yourself clawing to every rock you can find as the lazy river keeps rushing you towards the inevitable crash landing of back to school.

A bit over dramatic? Perhaps. But don’t act surprised.

I’m having a stomp my foot and scream ‘I don’t wanna!’ sort of day.

It all started innocently enough. A casual conversation about back to school this morning at swimming lessons led my mind to meander. We’ve finally hit our summer groove. I’ve found a way to balance working from home while still keeping the kids fed and not completely plugged it. I feel like our day has a rhythm to it, even if it is syncopation. And despite the unfortunate fact that it has taken me almost four weeks to find that rhythm, it still feels nice.

But then we arrived home to packages on our doorstep.

Uniforms had been delivered.


And with that, the rhythm of our summer has a ticking in the background. A faint tick tock tick. Just loud enough to remind me that our days of summer are numbered and we will have to learn a new song before too long. As much as I look forward to the adventures ahead, it feels a bit like an impending waterfall.

I’m trying to tune it out. I’m trying to focus on the now. But I’m having trouble hearing it over my foot stomping hissy fit. So I’m going to stop my whining and put the uniforms back in the boxes. There’s still 5 weeks until preseason starts. We’ve got plenty of song to sing.


Thirty Movies to Watch with my Kids

Last night we watched The Princess Bride with Miles. I’m not going to lie, watching his face when he saw the whole “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” exchange was pretty cool. So being the oversharer that I am, I posted about it on facebook. It sparked a conversation about how important it is for kids to have a solid foundation of important movies in order for them to turn into well rounded adults like ourselves. (Don’t laugh.)

As we were brushing our teeth, I recounted the conversation to Steve since he refuses to join facebook.

We need to make a list.

We don’t need to make a list, he said, rolling his eyes. (I’ve decided that simultaneously brushing one’s teeth and rolling one’s eyes is a skill akin to patting your head and rubbing your tummy)

Yes. We need a list so that we don’t miss anything.


I started rattling off titles. Back to the Future, Goonies… Batman

Wait, you think he’s ready for Batman? His eyes lit up.

(I need to interrupt myself. You see, when Miles was little we were very careful about what he was exposed to. We checked the ratings, we pre-screened movies. We waited until it was ‘appropriate’. When Tess was born all bets were off and she watched everything that Miles watched. Until the night we flipped on Raiders of the Lost Ark. The kids had played the Lego game. How bad could it be? We happened to catch the point where he’s writhing around in the snake pit. Tess didn’t sleep for a week. She was crying uncontrollably in her bed later that night. “Why did you let me watch that,” she sobbed, “Why would you think that was a good idea?” Point taken. Tess isn’t allowed to watch things anymore.)

But every now and then Miles gets to stay up after Tess goes to bed and watch something new. We have been slowly going through Doctor Who episodes and then there was The Princess Bride.

But you know me. I like to make things official. And over done. And way more complicated than they need to be.

So without further ado. No, forget it. Drumroll, please…..

thirty movies

(in order of release date)

  1. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
  2. Parent Trap (1961)
  3. Herbie the Love Bug (1968)
  4. Star Wars Trilogy (1977, 80, 83)
  5. Indiana Jones Trilogy (1981,84,89)
  6. The Last Unicorn (1982)
  7. ET (1982)
  8. The Secret of Nihm (1982)
  9. The Dark Crystal (1982)
  10. The Neverending Story (1984)
  11. Back to the Future Trilogy (1985,89,90)
  12. Ghost Busters (1984)
  13. Karate Kid (1984)
  14. Flight of The Navigator (1986)
  15. The Princess Bride (1987)
  16. Harry & The Hendersons (1987)
  17. Beetlejuice (1988)
  18. Willow (1988)
  19. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
  20. Batman (1989)
  21. Field of Dreams (1989)
  22. Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
  23. Home Alone (1990)
  24. Hook (1991)
  25. Mighty Ducks (1992)
  26. Newsies (1992)
  27. The Sandlot (1993)
  28. Rookie of the Year (1993)
  29. Babe (1995)
  30. Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001,02,03)

Here’s my criteria:

  • The movie had to be made before he was born
  • Trilogys are counted as one if it is necessary to see all three to fully appreciate the single movie.

I’m sure I left some off my list. What did I forget? What did I put on there that you would have left off? I’d love to know!!