What a year!
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin
This year our biggest surprise was a new puppy and our greatest delights were the lessons we learned. Our year held so much change and a beautiful steadiness. Like many other years, it simply flew by. We look around at our kids and cannot believe how big they are. Cashel (age 11), Camper (age 9), Corban (age 8), Copeland (age 5) & McGuire (age 4) keep us on our toes and of course laughing.
In 2023 all the kids tried new things and continue to love school. We are so grateful for this fact and it doesn’t go unnoticed that they love learning and also the social aspects of school. Parenting together is our greatest honor and joy and the hardest thing we have ever done. We have a complex and dynamic family and it comes with unique challenges and so many opportunities to learn. We are grateful for modern medicine, therapy, things that help our busy household run more smoothly like an angel that helps us clean and manage our space regularly, grocery delivery, and meal kits! Benjamin cooks most of the time and Alex is often found outdoors both in her career and on our property. She is busy with the giving garden, seed saving, constantly creating new spaces and gardens and dreaming about what is next.
Cashel tried baseball and loved it, and has also been in the garden club, before school choir, and continues to love fishing most of all. More recently he has become quite the crabber too. Camper tried his hand at coding, constantly dabbles on the piano, is currently in the “tag club” at school and loves it. He also played “Patch” in CSTOCK’s summer showing of 101 Dalmations, and has had several parts in in his school assemblies this past year. Corban is just about to begin basketball and is giddy with excitement. Corban also took 6 months of art classes and continues to love to draw. He has a true appreciate for all kinds of art but prefers pencil or pen sketching himself. Core is a man of many interests and participated in garden club, soccer club at school, and had a speaking part in his school assembly and played a Dalmatian puppy (whom he affectionately named Theo) in CSTOCK’s “101 Dalmatians” summer production as well.
Copeland completed his last year in the forest at Magnolia Forest Preschool and started this fall at “inside school” with his brothers. He figured out all on his own that this was his one chance to be in school WITH Cashel, so he wanted to go! He also tried t-ball with a beloved teacher this past Spring and had a real affinity for batting, but wasn’t such a fan of the rest. He also played a shark in CSTOCK’s “Go Fish” production this summer. McGuire is now in her second year of forest preschool and loves going with her best friend Winnie. McGuire loves “purple and dark pink,” She can hold her own in the forest and on the farm and doesn’t mind the cold, wet, or mud. She also requested a “tea party” for her birthday this year and chose “steak and crab, and green tea” for her birthday dinner. She loves to wear dresses, dance and especially sing.
We also added a new puppy to our family this year. His name is Bhaaloo (Hindi for “bear”) and is often also called “Bluey” a nickname bestowed upon him by McGuire. He is a wee thing but has just won our hearts and has really been the best companion for our big dog Charlie. They play and get along so well and we are grateful for the snuggles and love our Bahloo provides. Our studly cats Harvest Moon (“Harvey”) and Ralph are doing a wonderful job protecting the farm, snuggling their humans, and holding their own for the fierce predators around.
Alex is in her second year of teaching with Magnolia Forest Preschool, but this year took on a new role as a Site Director. She is helping launch a campus in Port Orchard and it has been exciting to watch the team develop, the campus grow, and the families become excited about what Magnolia has to offer children. You will never hear the end of how much she loves her team, how grateful she is for the families of “Goat Hill” and how passionate she is about bringing child-led and play-based forest education to as many families as she can.
Benjamin is with Boston Consulting Group and while his role and title is ever evolving he is steady, reliable, innovative, and incredibly hard working. No matter who you ask at any BCG event they know these things about Benjamin and I (Alex) can tell you that, true to his character, he seeks to make himself valuable and to benefit his team and the company in any way he can. It is so wonderful to see a company reward that and to recognize him for his strengths. Additionally from the years he has spent in this industry we have gained life-long friends and had some amazing experiences!
The Farm on Levin continues as a giving garden and gives all its blooms and produce away freely. The flower cart, little, free library and the seed rack all were a buzzing place this spring and summer. It was a beautiful thing to see friends, family, and neighbors gather at the farm and fill it with laughter, music, friendship, and community. Again this year we are giving donations to Juvenile Diabetes Research, a teacher grant, and the 2024 farm project which is slated to be a hoop house. We also will be releasing our first ever dahlias that originate from our own seed here on the farm. They are affectionately called “Gretchen K” after our beloved neighbor who grew up in our home (1944-2023), “Mackie Sue” (after our girl), and “Harvey Da Moon” (after our sweet Kitty). These three dahlias were grown from our own seeds, and then grown out for an additional year to watch to see if they remained the same. Next year we will share them with a few people to again watch that they grow with the same characteristics. It’s so exciting to see our very own dahlias going into the world!
It is both an honor and joy to work this space, share what we grow and see what we believe come to fruition before our eyes, that “gratitude and generosity are contagious.” We have a post full of farm photos if you’d like to see it here.
As a family we are still attending Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bremerton, WA and we are grateful for a community of like minded individuals who believe in equality for all people in all places. Having new friends join us there this year has been exciting and inspiring.
We did some camping this past summer, traveled to quite a few fun locations throughout the year as a family and as a couple, and a huge highlight was traveling to Hawaii with Alex’s parents and sister to celebrate Michael and Wendy’s 40th wedding anniversary. What a memorable trip and we are already talking about when we can return. We stayed in Kihei on the island of Maui and spent two weeks swimming, boogie boarding, digging in the sand, eating wonderful food, seeing beautiful locations and adventuring all over the island. The kids for sure have the traveling bug!
You can see more from our trip here.
We all also loved participating with Larchaven Summer Camp. Our three eldest got to go to sleep away camp for 5 days, and then we went as a family to their 2 night family camp experience and it was a highlight of the year for sure. We would love to have more family or friends join us if you are interested you can learn more here, or reach out with questions. We wanted to share a film that Heather Rotter Photography put together for us and we hope you will check back for other family updates here. We would love to have you visit the farm and come for flowers too!