I have a confession to make: With five children in our family, I can no longer remember important individual milestones. Were you to ask me at what ages each of my children walked, talked, cut their first tooth, I couldn’t say. I could give you a range, which would be, “Somewhere between the ages of birth and two.”
I love my children deeply for the individuals that they are; ask me today about their personalities and tastes, and I’ll tell you in detail. But past details have all receded into the fog of thirteen years of sleep deprivation. I cannot recall my fourth child’s first word, what...
The baby is beginning to have strong opinions.
At the moment, his preferences manifest themselves most in the matter of food. For the first four months of his life, for a variety of health reasons, he subsisted upon a pre-digested infant formula called Nutramigen. If the words “pre-digested” make you shudder, let me assure you that this concoction smells like something you’d find in the dark recesses of a dairy barn.
But the baby didn’t complain. He gulped down the formula happily at every meal. His sisters held their noses and carried him at arm’s length, but he didn’t care that he smelled...
There are seven people who live in our house, and then there are the ones you can’t see.
I learned long ago never to use the words “imaginary friends” to describe these beings of light and air. No; they are very REAL, so the proper term is “invisible friends.”
Invisible friends first showed up sometime during the first three years of my eldest daughter’s life, although I’m not sure whether they appeared during the 20 months when she was an only child, or the following year when she was a de facto only child, with only one infant sister for company. What I do remember quite clearly is one...
We went to Maine this summer. It felt like a minor miracle that we were able to pull off this trip: the only normal, scheduled event that hasn’t been cancelled in our lives since the COVID-19 pandemic wiped our calendar clean and confined us to our home. I will be reminding my children about our Maine trip anytime they complain of boredom for the rest of the summer.
Gong Child: “I’m SO BORED!”
Me: “Remember how we went to Maine this summer?” (Unspoken, but implied: “You ungrateful wretch!”)
Oddly enough, one of the best parts about going to Maine was coming home.
“Ah!” we sighed in wonder...
Much to my surprise, I am writing this column from the front porch of our rental house in Ogunquit, Maine. It is the tenth summer that I have spent a week at this beach with my husband, our growing brood of children, and my parents. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down and cancelled everything else in our lives, I assumed that we wouldn’t be able to make our annual pilgrimage to the shore. But then, at the eleventh hour, COVID-19 cases in Maine and Vermont dropped low enough that both states declared reciprocal travel was allowed, with no quarantine necessary. So, here we are.
I’ve been known to say, “More love is always a good thing!” I’ve been known to live that maxim, too, which is how I ended up with a husband, five children, a dog, a cat, 18 chickens, and 8 ducks. But I do have my limits, and I offer the following proof: We’re not sure about getting alpacas.
Most of my children love animals, and they’re prone to treating animal acquisition like it’s an arms race. “Why can’t we get another dog?!?” they’ll whine, after learning about a friend’s new canine — or fill in the blank with the species du jour.
We are friendly with one particular family — we’ll call...
Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein'
This morning, I collected our family’s weekly order of library books at the pickup spot in Ilsley Public Library’s back garden (an event that inspires a level of excitement in my children just a notch below Christmas these days.) Included in our bag of books was my book group’s pick for the month: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. So today, a cloudy grey day when the temperature has dipped into the 50s and it feels more like the last days of autumn than the first days of summer, I am thinking about monsters.
More accurately, I am thinking about evil. Monsters are the embodiment of evil; beings...
My children have done many things to amuse themselves while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have read, read, and read some more. They have logged in countless hours on our trampoline and ninja slackline. They have played games: chess, poker, Apples to Apples, Unstable Unicorns, and Monopoly Deal. They have made art, baked, finished embroidery projects, and all four of my daughters are currently at work on novels.
But one of their most enduring hobbies throughout this time has surprised me: The taking – and making – of personality quizzes.
It started back in March, when a...
For the past 65 days, one of my lifelines has been a quarter-mile strip of sandy gravel. Its surface is mostly white, except for the places where we attempted to patch the potholes with cheap grey gravel. From the look of things, the potholes are winning.
My lifeline has been my driveway.
Our family has developed a daily routine around the driveway. First thing in the morning, while I’m fixing breakfast, my husband takes the dog for a run several times up and down the driveway. After breakfast, I strap the baby into a chest carrier and set out with my daughters for a single pre-school lap up...
In addition to the garden, the chickens and the children, Faith Gong has some ducks.
This will likely be a short column, because we are in the midst of putting in our garden.
I have a complex relationship with my garden — as, I suspect, do many. Starting around March, a feeling that has lain dormant throughout the winter begins to stir in me: panic. Suddenly, I feel the urge to start drawing up a planting schedule and ordering seeds. This feeling intensifies as the days lengthen. By the time we start planting, usually in late April, my panic has been replaced with a lingering guilt. I feel guilty if I’m not out working in the garden when the weather is fine. When the forecast...