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 sorta new pony


We are no longer pony-less.

Rocky arrived last Monday.

Arrived sounds weird — like FedEx deposited him on the front porch. I retrieved him that day. And home from school, the girls bolted to the barn to see their new pony.

But his stall was empty.

In my absence, Rocky scuttled under his stall guard and ran into the front field.

The kids spent 15 minutes chasing runaway-Rocky — unsuccessfully — until I armed them with a bucket of grain.



Ponies are inherently crafty and cunning, and Rocky will teach the girls a thing or two. But overall, he’s a good-natured soul. Oddly enough, I knew him 10 years ago. Actually, he lived at our farm for a summer.

Here’s my friend Hunter riding him, circa 2004. Rocky was 6 years old. None of our kids existed yet.


And it’s not like I followed Rocky, or knew what happened to him through the years. But the horse world is like “6 degrees of separation.”

But more like 2 degrees of separation. Everyone knows everyone, hence the Rocky reunion.

In less than a week, he’s displayed a tolerance of sheep dog herding, skittish cows, kids on bikes and other nonsense.


Hadley & Rocky’s maiden voyage


My one complaint: Rocky’s too much of a good thing.

Brynn has been incorrigible since he arrived; she just wants to ride. Her teacher reported that she was “unmanageable” on Tuesday. And Wednesday morning Brynn announced that she was sick. “My head,” she said. “It hurts. I’m sick.”

“You can stay home,” I said, then added, “but you can’t ride Rocky. If you’re sick, you can’t ride.”

She frowned. “Okay, then I’m not sick.”

It’s amazing how fast a pony can cure what ails you…



Ode to The Dress


Rarely does this blog served as a fashion forum. But this week we’re saying goodbye to a veteran of the kids’ closet .

Well… if they had a closet.

The Dress. An unassuming but perfect piece of child couture. 

It’s a juvenile version of the little black dress — a versatile, plaid frock, suitable for any occasion.

It was a hand me down before we inherited it. And it’s been in heavy rotation for five years. Since Hadley first donned it at 18 months old.



By the time she’d grown out of it, Brynn was ready to slip it on.


Scrolling through my photo library, The Dress surfaces in oodles of images.

Why is it so great? Well, it’s classic preppy, quasi-dressy & quasi-casual (Tommy Hilfiger, for you label conscious readers). And it’s impervious to stains. Food tries to latch on, but The Dress repels edible products in Kevlar fashion.

I thought that Brynn would don the dress for another season, but she retired it. She saw me assembling a bag of hand me downs for a friend, and Brynn told me to add The Dress. “My hands don’t fit in the pockets anymore,” she said.

I felt a faint pang for this ever-present swatch of plaid fabric.

But The Dress will carry on its mission: clothing another kid — and repelling ketchup blobs and melted ice cream, in a single bound.