July 4th, 1923


On July 4, 1923, my beloved grandmother was born.  As a child she thought everyone was celebrating her birthday as fireworks were set off. She passed away in March at 91 years old.  She is missed so greatly, not a week goes by that Laney doesn’t say to me that she wishes G.G. was still alive.  And it means so much that she knew the great-grandma she was named after and that she felt a special connection to her. IMG_1445

Dorothy Mae with Magdalena Mae

She oozed love and maternal-ness.  (My Nana and I in 1977.)

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She taught me how to make a bed and set the table and taught me so many things about cooking and making pies.


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This is what I wrote to include in the bulletin for her funeral:

Dorothy Mae Castle Fallin, 91, of Heathsville, VA, passed into eternity on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at Rappahannock General Hospital in Kilmarnock, VA with her son and grandchildren by her side. 

Dot, as she was lovingly called, was a faithful wife to Roland for 53 years, a beloved mother to Michael and Susan, a cherished Nana to Jason and Tara, and a treasured G.G. to Malachi, Elijah, Ezekiel, Orion, Madeleine, and Magdalena.



She will be remembered for her joyful laugh, lovely singing voice, and dancing feet.  Her laughter could fill a room, whether she was telling a joke or laughing at episodes of “I Love Lucy”. She was a soprano in the church choir for at least 15 years, singing many solos for their services. She did a mean jitterbug as a young adult and would gladly show off her dancing moves well into her 80’s.


Visual arts were her specialty. She could draw, paint, sew, and crochet. Many gifts of her handiwork have been enjoyed by her family and friends through the years.  Hungry bellies always looked forward to her cooking.  Her lasagna, crab cakes, pork chops, fudge sauce, and many pies were among the favorites.

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She was always up for a challenge, like learning to drive for the first time while in her 40’s or with a friend, daring to stomp grapes to get the juice to make wine.

She was very active and social, participating in political meetings, going to group luncheons, and sharing crocheting, sewing, and cooking activities with friends.  

Dot’s green thumb for flowers and Roland’s green thumb for vegetables meant their front and back yard always looked amazing and the basement shelves were full of her canned vegetables.  Their flowers and vegetables attracted lots of attention. She could tell you about every deer, blue heron, duck or bird that visited their yard.  With a giggle, she’d share stories of the otters, hummingbirds and squirrels’ antics.  

Her grandchildren will always hold on to the wonderful memories of spending many weeks during their summer vacation down in the country.  Swimming with their Nana at the pool, playing games of Uno and Scrabble, and their many road trips around the United States are among their favorites.    


Tragedy and pain went hand-in-hand with her happy and full life.  The unexpected death of her college-aged daughter was an unbearable burden, but Dot found strength to carry on with the help of her family, friends, and faith.  As she aged, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and with her family, friends, and faith by her side, beat it.  As she beat her cancer, her husband’s worsened and she cared for him until he lost his battle.  


She was brave, compassionate, generous, loving and kind.  The love she showed to her family and friends will be felt for generations to come.

These are her pieces of handiwork that we treasure oh so dearly, five crocheted afghans and four crocheted animals.


The chevron baby blanket she made my first year of marriage in 1999, she wanted me to put it away to keep for her great-grandbaby, just in case she had already passed on before she met him/her. (She knew all 6 of her great-grandkids, and got to hug and love them!)


My Pop-pop passed away in 2000, well before any great-grandbabies were born, but she made sure to keep one of his flannel shirts that he wore to work out in the yard and she used it as the kerchief for this little piggy.


She made this afghan for me in 1992.


This is the baby blanket she made for Malachi, she didn’t use a pattern, she made up this teddy bear design herself.


And that little crocheted dress was mine.  My mom kept it all these years and just passed it on to me last summer.  It fits Laney perfectly right now, and she wore it to the services for my Nana.


She is greatly missed and thought of daily.  And with all these special thoughts and memories her favorite hymn is what gives me the greatest comfort:

In the Garden  by Charles A. Miles

Verse #1
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Verse #2
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Verse #3
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Tho’ the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go, thro’ the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Last Day of the 2014-2015 School Year


These three won’t be in the same school again until high school, when they’ll be in 9th, 11th and 12th grades.


Last day of 2nd grade for Zeke.


Last day of 4th grade for Elijah.


And last day of 5th grade for Malachi.  He earned a special award given by the President of the United States, a handful of his classmates did too.  IMG_7941 (1)

Also, he was given the Kindness Award by his teacher for his classroom.  IMG_7948

Malachi and his friend, Noah.




And off to middle school for our oldest.  He’s excited for the new adventure and I’m breathing big, slow breaths. He’s gonna do great and love it,  my emotions are just trying to catch up.  :)


And more after-school photos with special friends.

The Perfect Spring Evening

There were no sports games, we ate dinner outside, and the weather was amazing.  I could feel the stress peeling off me as we sat around the table and then lingered outside.  I decided it was a perfect evening to capture some photos.




I know, I know….he’s looking so much older.  So. Much. Older.


What could be more perfect than eating your treat with messy hair, a dirty dress, and bare-feet?




This creek won’t know what to do without this boy.  (If/when we move….or when he’s not a boy anymore!)IMG_7530 IMG_7531

If he goes in, she’s never far behind.

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This boy’s pitching is getting better every day.

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That sun….the warmth….the yard full of glowing dandelions…..everyone playing outside.  A perfect evening.

The Simple Beauty of Nature


Whenever I’d first find out there’s a little one growing inside me, I’d start to dream of what that little one was going to be like. We never ever know, but we can only hope that some of their likes and dislikes are similar to ours.  This one, my youngest one, loves to be outside (she has an older brother who loves it as much as she does), and it gives me joy whenever she asks to go outside(it gives me joy whenever he asks too!).  She looks at the bugs and worms under the walking stones, she stands on the rotting tree root called “The Hobbit Hole”, she climbs the sour cherry tree, and makes her way down to the creek.  She collects things to throw in or tries to climb across on the fallen branches.  This yard has been a place of renewal and a sanctuary even though there are a few not-so-pleasant-spots, I’ll spare you the details, but it is a gem in the middle of a bustling city.  We hope to buy our own place soon-ish and all of us are so sad to leave this yard behind.  I love that Laney loves to be out in it, experiencing it, seeing all the life being lived out all around her.  I love that she explores unafraid (although we have had to set up rules for being around that creek without a brother or parent around!!)  I love that she chases the birdies, and feeds the ducks and watches the squirrels.  So glad God gave me kids who enjoy his creation as much as I do, who notice the details of the flowers and the trees and stop to observe the endless changes.








“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”  Anne Frank


They come as quickly as they go and their ages are in the middle of their childhood.  They can dress themselves, feed themselves, shower themselves, read and do their homework.  There’s a part of me that is so happy that my life isn’t as physically exhausting as it once was when they were still small enough to carry around, but now there are discussions about life and how it comes to be and how there are injustices all around us.  There are big questions and big ideas with big words talked about frequently and sometimes I think, how can it be that we are already this far along?  I miss those babies I cradled in my arms, but I get glimpses of the young men they are becoming…….compassionate, honest, caring, giving young men.  And in those glimpses, among the squabbles, fights, and arguments, my breath is taken away. He, who has begun a good work in them, will carry it on to completion.  We talk with them and we hope with them and we pray with them and for them and we slowly let go. Thankful for this journey God has allowed Brian and I to have with these young men.




Here’s what 8,9, and 10 look like for the week.

And because this mama’s heart is feeling sentimental, thought I’d share what this one week looks like all the previous years.

2014:  7,8,9


2013: Ages 6,7, and 8


2012: 5,6,7 (The first year I intentionally shot the stairstep photos.)


2011: We’ll pretend it isn’t Malachi’s birthday and if it was the day before their ages would be 4,5.6.IMG_6498

2010: Ages 3,4,5


2009: Ages 2,3,4ps_IMG_0878

2008: Ages 1,2,3


2007: 0,1,2


always scanning to find the perfect view


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