The Yardstick


Poolesville Day, an annual community event, has become the yardstick with which I measure the kids’ growth.

We’ve attended these festivities for several years; often, I’ve brought my camera. And the images I’ve collected provide a barometer of age.

The pictures are a better measure than Christmas or Halloween memories, because the exact same setting is reproduced each year.

That’s the constant about Poolesville Day: it’s held the same weekend each year, with the same activities, stationed in the same place each time.

Inevitably, Cayden, Had and Brynn are drawn to certain attractions, and I document these events. The same rope walk, same backdrop, same kid, just a different year.

It is the ultimate measuring stick.

Toddler Hadley:



Hadley now:



Brynn then:



Brynn now:



I prefer candid photos, but in the future, I imagine urging the kids to recreate previous experiences — scaling the climbing wall or clambering atop a tractor when they’re older. Maybe when they’re teens.

If they’re still talking to me then.


The Egg Tree


The other day, Cayden came home in a gloomy mood. I tried to cheer him up with offerings of pizza and unfettered TV use. How about the Ipad?

Nothing worked until I opened the fridge and checked the battered carton on the top shelf. “Want to do the egg tree?”

The egg tree. No relation to the cat tree.

I don’t remember when I hatched (groan) this plan. It was probably about 6 months ago. As faithful readers know, our kind neighbors keep us well stocked in eggs. One day I came upon a few cracked ones — which must be discarded — and just before I trashed them, I thought about smashing them.

Tossing them in the trash seemed wasteful. Plus, I wanted to egg something.

I considered an appropriate target. Some place where splattered yolks would be inconsequential. Where the wildlife would clean up the mess.

And along the driveway there’s a small cluster of junk trees. Surrounded by a no man’s land swath of grass. Ideal targets.

That first day I ushered the kids to the trees and invited them to commence throwing. Like soldiers in a firing squad, they lined up and took aim. (The actual egg tree is a particularly skinny and crooked little tree; perhaps they chose it for the added challenge). The kids were thrilled when they struck their target. When they missed, some of the eggs would survive and make it to the next round.

Since the first egging, I’ve taken to saving up the cracked ones until we’ve got a few. Hurling them is a great stress reliever.



A millisecond before impact

If there’s a more practical use for inedible eggs — a viable method to recycle them — I don’t want to know about it.

Pitching them at a tree is much more fun.



A Land Far, Far Away


Last weekend the girls and I deposited a suitcase, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and Cayden, in front of a plywood cabin in somewhere, West Virginia. This marked The Boy’s first foray into the world of sleep-away camp.

Cayden was blase about our departure, waving a hasty goodbye as he joined his bunkmates.

I wasn’t too emotional, but I did feel as though we’d off-loaded him far from home. That’s the thing about West Virginia: invest a few hours behind the wheel and it’s another world. It’s incredibly mountainous and beautiful, but also remote and sparsely populated. And poor.

After we ditched Cayden, we stopped for lunch in a nearby town (and I use “nearby” and “town,” loosely). The restaurant, which also sold mattresses and appliances, was cluttered with random decor — firemen garb, Jesus loves you signs, tractor parts, military placards and framed newspaper clippings of the town’s claim to fame: a disastrous collision between a logging truck and a passenger train last year.

And as I paid our tab, I couldn’t ignore the sign at the candy counter. My first thought:

One-stop shopping for kids.


Then again, there isn’t a library or a movie theater or a Redbox kiosk for miles. When it comes to entertainment, eating chocolate while shooting things is probably the best gig in town.

Fortunately, Cayden’s camp is chocked full of activities like hiking and swimming. Archery is the only weaponry offered on site.

I think.