Blog a la Cart

Month: August, 2013

For My Ursa

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My sweet sweet Ursa,

We met just over eight years ago. You, that wriggling, fluffy, black puff of energy with the coral colored piece of yarn wrapped around your neck. And me, that bright-eyed, naive 22-year old en route to my first job, my first apartment, my first taste of life as an adult.

We chose each other. And for that, I am forever grateful.

We buried you in the place where your daddy and I first fell in love with this home. You got sick right after we bought this house, and I remember thinking that the only positive side to this news was that we now lived in a home where we’d be able to have you close by when you left us. You lived in seven different homes with me, and yet, we’d finally found the one where we intended to stay.

You will now always be a part of Cartwheel Farm, just as you are forever a part of us.

We were told we’d have 4-6 weeks left with you. And instead, we had four months. We had a whole summer of your super dog dives. And lake swimming. And field running. And butt rubs. And those soft silky ears that could quiet even my scariest days. You inspired so many, schooling us all in perspective and resilience. You were brave until your final breath. While you’d stopped eating by Tuesday morning, you thumped your tail and wriggled your bum, despite all the pain and discomfort. When the vet arrived at our house to help you finally sleep, you, in one final burst of energy, hopped toward her, wagging your tail. Your daddy and I held you and told you that we loved you. Over and over we promised you that you were safe. That we were here. And that it was okay to go. That the pain would be over and we were ready for you to sleep. You went quickly. And peacefully. And your daddy and I buried our faces one final time into your warm, silky ears and held you, saying our goodbyes and promising to find you in our dreams.

We buried you together, tucking a tennis ball under your chin so that you’d have your favorite thing in the Universe by your side forever. Sunny asked that we have a funeral, and so she picked flowers from our garden, and covered your grave in bursts of purples and pinks and yellows. She asked that we tell stories of what we love most about you, and sing together, and cry. And so we did. Our family, aching at the void. At the quiet. At the emptiness from your departure. And tonight, before bed, Sunny asked that we all go up and say goodnight to you. We stood where you now rest and wished you sweet dreams. Sleep well, our beautiful Ursa.

And while a part of me can’t help but feel cheated of at least six more years with you, the other part of me is so stupidly grateful that we had these eight years together, the most transformative and important of my life. And that I could hold you as you took your final breath. Don’t we dream of dying in the arms of those we love, of those who love us most in the world? I am so grateful that your daddy and I could do that for you. While I have brought life into this world and I have saved life, nothing compares to the strength it took to let life go. You did it so gracefully, so beautifully. I felt a wave of relief and comfort wash over me as you left us, knowing that you were now at peace. Knowing that no matter what, you are forever a part of me.

I will miss you everyday.

And I will always, always love you, my Ursa Bear.

143 Mama


How lucky I am that I have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.  – Winnie The Pooh


Sweet dreams, my Ursa Bear.

I’ll see you in my dreams, and I’ll be sure to have an endless supply of tennis balls on hand.

I love you forever and ever.

This Photograph

Makes my heart explode. So perfect. In every way.



Earlier this summer, Sunny and I were on a walk and passed a home where a woman was mowing the lawn.

Sunny: Mama, something must have happened to the Daddy at that house.
Me: Why do you say that?
Her: Because Mommies don’t mow lawns. Daddies do.

Womp womp.

I visually cringed knowing that I was indeed reinforcing a stereotype about divisions of labor based on sex, as I myself had never once operated a lawn mower in my thirty years of life; thus the girls had only ever seen James mow the lawn.

I grew up in a household where my parents hired out lawn mowing responsibilities, and then, prior to returning to Williamstown, all of our rental agreements had included lawn care. Our house in Williamstown had a tiny lawn that James mowed with a hand-me-down lawn mower from his parents, a task that he had grown up doing, was familiar with, and didn’t seem to mind.

Granted, he had started to mind when we moved to Vermont and he then had an acre of land to tend with a push mower. He’d mention that I should mow, but I’d brush it aside and claim that that was his job without any real reasoning or explanation to back of my claim.

Sunny saw through my own inherit sexism. Women are obviously perfectly capable of mowing a lawn, and yet, there I was, falling trap to stereotypes about work related labor as determined by sex, primarily because it was an easy excuse not to have to learn and do it myself.

Pathetic, I know.

So yesterday, motivated by the poor lesson I had already begun to teach my daughter and determined to change that, I spent four hours mowing the lawn. While Kaki merrily pushed her toy mower (a gift at her 2nd birthday party from James’ parents) by my side.


Here’s hoping that my daughters learn to tackle all tasks, regardless of the implied gender-responsibilty. Whether or not they enjoy the work is another issue entirely, but it’s not like I enjoy washing dishes or doing the laundry. But it’s work anyone, regardless of sex, is more than capable of doing.

Next up, learning to change a tire! Oh, and finally being the one to make the trip to the transfer station for a trash/recycling dump. My girls are making me a better role model every day.

Proper Weekend


This image so succinctly sums up how I feel about this weekend. Steaming cups of coffee sipped lazily while curled under cozy blankets with my loves. Everyday feels more like fall, absolutely my favorite season of the year.

Boy did we ever need a weekend on the farm to just be. We had an incredible dinner party with our neighbors and friends on Friday evening, people that feel like family, under the gorgeous Vermont sky. On Saturday and Sunday we started our mornings slowly, without plans or expectation. We eventually painted the house and mowed the lawn and watched our children play in the ways we dreamed when we first stepped foot on this property. And we ended the weekend with another dinner gathering with friends that have come to be our local family.

Granted, James and I collectively slept about five hours last night, but such are the ebbs and flows of parenthood. No more ice cream before bed, and more grooming for Hanna so she stops expelling hair balls like she’s part feline in the middle of the night. I’m holding on to the essence of that photograph to overcome today’s fatigue.




“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Sunny: Quite pleased with her rock mustache.
Kaki: I’m loving that top knot of blonde hair.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

Why We Rescue

I have waited over three months to share this very special experience with all of you.

In May, Theron Humphrey, of Maddie on Things fame, visited Cartwheel Farm to tell the story of our rescue pup, Hanna Banana. Theron has been traveling the country profiling rescue animals in all 50 states as part of a project titled Why We Rescue. I’ve followed his incredible Instagram feed for awhile now, so when he mentioned this project and included a link to be one of his potential stories, I jumped at the opportunity. I submitted Hanna as the potential Vermont dog, but given his 310,000 followers on Instagram, I figured our chances of selection were slim. This was back before the holidays in 2012. Imagine my surprise in May when I got a phone call from a super friendly, laid back Southern dude hoping to drop by later that day to take some pictures and capture our family’s story.

It’s a really awesome thing to see our life on the farm represented by Theron. He does such a unique job of capturing the simple moments of our daily lives.

He has a way with still life of the everyday.

And he is so kind and approachable, easy to be around. It was a pleasure to drink vanilla milkshakes and talk about our mutual love of animals under the Vermont sunshine. He is a special guy, indeed. James and I will always remember that afternoon.

And I feel completely honored that Hanna is Miss Vermont, and that I got to tell her story, OUR story, through Theron’s wonderful project. I hope you’ll take a peek at the resulting images and audio. (And, apologies for the scratchy audio. A certain two-year old wouldn’t leave my side during the interview. That also accounts for my awkward giggles mid-storytelling).

This is Why We Rescue.


Photo: Courtesy of Theron Humphrey

Happy Weekend


I know. Gag you with a spoon. James and I so rarely get time alone. Together. Without a dependent in sight. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a little lovey dovey in front of the camera. Especially after an uninterrupted night’s sleep. One of only a handful in nearly five years! So much energy. THAT is what it feels like to be well-rested! After this we bench-pressed cars. And by bench-pressed cars, I mean consumed the most epic breakfast bagels you’ve ever seen. It was a great 24 hours, indeed.

Currently Reading

QuotableThis. A million times THIS. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. Let’s get with the program, America! Full article here. Hat tip to Kaki’s FGM.

Courtland Whaley Cart


^^This kid received an apple, rocking whale, and wagon cart for her birthday from James’ parents.^^

A nod to our Courtland (though the apple is spelled Cortland) Whaley Cart.


^^The girls love it. For whatever reason, Kaki has convinced Sunny that hauling her around the yard in the cart is the most fun game in the Universe.^^



^^Maybe it’s because Sunny finds great delight in pulling her little sister uphill and then promptly letting her go…^^


^^Until the joke’s on Sunny.^^


^^Oh that cheeky grin. What trouble.^^

We’re just returned from a far too brief vacation by the sea. James and I had a night sans dependents on Martha’s Vineyard (thank you, Auntie Kimmy and Doda!) and then two days by the beach with the kids on Cape Cod. It was the first time we’d seen my mom since her emergency, and it was lovely to all be together, basking in those sunny days and that salty air. Many more pictures and stories to come. But now, to sleep, for while vacation is a delight, the resulting upset sleeping schedules of my needy dependents (canines included) are not!