Tag Archives: kids

Dining room in new home

A Trip to Narnia

Scooby is gone, I declared as walked out of the shed.
What do you mean he is gone? Darren answered in disbelief.
I mean…he is not in the shed. He is gone. Go look if you do not believe me.
It’s not that I don’t believe you; I just think he must be hiding, He replied and went in to see for himself.
You are right. He is definitely not there.

We had closed on our new house approximately 45 minutes earlier. The moving trucks were in the driveway and the guys were needing direction on where to put the boxes and I was coming apart by the prospect that I had killed my 14 year-old cat on moving day. I deserted Darren and hopped on the bike to scour the new neighborhood. Here kitty kitty kitty…. Here kitty kitty! Not only had I killed the cat but I was also positioning myself as the new neighborhood crazy, crying cat lady. Not a good start. I abandoned my futile quest to come home with Scooby in my basket and headed back to the house to be there in time for the girls to come home from school. As they came down drive, their faces had a WTF kind of look. They were not smiling and had already been informed of the missing cat. They stared at the trucks and the people carrying all of our possessions into this strange place they now called home. Ella burst into tears and my heart broke a little more. I had killed the cat, abandoned Darren in the task of directing the movers and now my oldest, who has a hard time expressing her feelings, was easily coming to pieces in front of me.

Our happy day, the day we had anticipated for months, was finally here and it totally sucked. I just wanted it to go smoothly for everyone because moving is hard no matter how you look at it. The act of uprooting your life and all of your possessions and taking it to another location whether down the street or across the country is not an easy endeavor. I tried to tell myself that a lost cat was not as bad as a lot of things and it is not like somebody had presented me with a my dead cat on a platter. He was simply missing. Though I did not buy into my own rationalization and kept thinking about my scared cat wondering the world alone trying to avoid getting eaten by the neighborhood foxes.

Friends showed up and kids began ripping through the house and the yard. Everyone reassured me that he was a smart cat and that he would come back. The wine and the friends and the happy chaos helped brighten my mood a little bit. Ella was distracted with hide and seek and the people around me reminded me why we chose to move here in the first place. It started to get dark and I told myself not to think about him until it was quiet and he might present himself again. He would never come back with all the commotion happening. I was just going to have to wait.

As the evening went on, I gave tours of our new home. It is smaller, it is older and it has less flow than our 80s ranch. The kitchen has a range from the late 70s and is begging for a makeover (more like a complete tear out/remodel), but this place just feels good. Maybe it’s the people that surround us, the light that comes through the windows, the beautiful details that past owners cared to create or the yard where the kids will spend all of their time and the vegetables will grow, but we know we have moved into our forever home.

After a collaborative dinner effort, Darren came to find me so I could help him move a box. I followed him to the shed. He opened the door and Scooby peeked around the corner, wide-eyed and ready to bolt.

He came back!! I screamed.
He never left, Darren said.
Then were do you think he was? There is no place to hide in this shed.
He went to Narnia and now he is back, Darren said.

I picked him up and buried my face in his neck while we walked to the house. I found the kids and told them the good news. The word had spread about the missing cat and my mental state so I think everyone was relieved and happy that the cat came back from Narnia and a small celebration ensued. My family was in tact once again.

We did it. We uprooted ourselves, left our comfort zone and created a bunch of stress in search of a simplified existence where we feel “at home.” It was crazy. Two weeks post move it is still crazy because we can’t locate anything and our baking goods don’t fit in the kitchen, but it is all okay because we have time and we are home.


Scooby’s favorite new spots.

daisy yard

Daisy girl in her new space


Can you see the potential?


The morning light in our dining room.


Sprinkler fun on the new turf.

Sunday dinner in the hood.


Home Sweet Home.





La Sal Mountains

Full Moon Rising

Yesterday we arrived at home from a six day road trip to Utah.  I was reminded instantly by the request for Saturday morning media that we were no longer powered by propane in the Utah desert where the early requests consisted of warm snuggles in the sleeping bag followed by the assistance in building a campfire to escape the morning cold.

Camping for our family takes the good moments from real life and neatly tucks them in to a beautifully wrapped package just begging to be unwrapped, savored, a gift to behold.  Of course, there are the hard moments too.  These are accentuated by the absence of modern shelter, amenities and extremely tired children who, when presented with the opportunity of being outside with their friends nonstop for days, do not know when to turn it off, sit back and chill.  There is always the next adventure to be had, a rock to be scaled, a fire to be built and a campfire story to be performed.

Kids on the Hunter Canyon hike

Kids on the Hunter Canyon hike

There was that 50 mile and hour wind day when four families were trapped in our pop up except for some of the Dad’s who we thought may have been blown off a desert rim while conquering a must do mountain bike ride.  Nik was the exception.  He stayed behind and thankfully makes good conversation and the perfect margarita.  They got us through – Nik and the margaritas.

La Sal Mountains

Campfire view

Living out of our comfort zone for a few days taps the extremes.  It takes the good and bad to their maximum and sometimes the beautifully wrapped package is hurled into the mud.  It’s a matter of finding the balance and the place that allows me to accept the snot mixed with dirt topped off with sticky marshmallow.

The place were food tasted better, the fire felt warmer, the wind blew windier and the stars appeared more abundant.  Tired is an understatement and when my head hit the pillow it was almost cathartic.  Nature was ever present.  Coyotes called in the night. The March full moon rising over the La Sal mountains lit up our sky and turned it into something magical.  Sometimes I would stop and inhale the moment to make sure that when later arrived it was there right with me.   I got to this place a few times and left the snotty marshmallow in the dust along the trail.

Full Moon March 2014

Full Moons by Darren

The first day of spring highlighted the inevitable changes ahead. Our trip was coming to an end and stress started to churn in my belly.  I haven’t heard from the accountant.  We are moving house in less than a month.  We need a packing schedule.  Would my old pets come out of this move unscathed?  How are we going to afford to make this house comfortable?  Darren inquired a few times on our last day.

What’s wrong? You don’t seem right.

Honestly, I was not in a self aware place and when he first asked I dismissed the question entirely.  The second time, I used the excuse that I wasn’t feeling all that great, which I really wasn’t.  On the drive home, I thought about my mood and the reentry into life and all the things ahead of us this spring.  Why was I stressing? How is it that I can turn good things into ridiculious problems? All these things on the horizon that were stressing me out are actually amazing opportunities – products of this magnificent wave of goodness we are riding at the moment.  A new house.  A house that for the first time ever we chose without the urgency of simply needing shelter.  So.  I thought about these good things in my life.  I have a trip to Napa to celebrate my littlest sister, Mary Susan, turning 40 and my biggest sister, Mary Sheila, turning 50 and, on the last day, I get to see my amazing friend, Wendi who lives in the area.  Then we go camping again with all of the wonderful friends that I will, in a few short weeks, be privileged to call my neighbors.  And then we move into the house that we chose, in a giving community, a hop skip and a scooter from the elementary school my kids attend.  And, if we can’t afford to furnish it who cares?  That’s not what a home is about anyway.  It’s about the people and critters that call it home and I hit the jackpot there so life is good and BAM my perspective is different.  It’s a start anyway.  I am giving up creating problems where there are none for Lent because it is so silly to give up french fries again.

So as Liam asked to pee the sixth time in 3.5 hours on the road, I reminded myself to receive the request gently and I could tell Darren was trying hard too.   He is a potty trained three year old boy who has a tiny little bladder.  How is this a problem? React with grace. It’s so easy to remember and to forget.

After the first of seven loads of laundry hit the washer and the coolers were cleaned out, we sat down to dinner.  Usually we talk about our favorite parts of the day.  Last night, we talked about our favorite parts of the trip.

Ella: The giant sand hill and the campfire lit up by tumbleweed.  It inspired the kids to dance around like cave people and chant iiiuuugggAAA!

giant sand hill

The giant sand hill

The iiiuuugggAAA fire!

The iiiuuugggAAA fire!

Juliet: Running into her best friend from school and getting to make a purchase at the amazing Rock Shop.

The last stop before hitting the road

The last stop before hitting the road

Liam: Campfires and marshmallows

Fire, friends and marshmellows

Fire, friends and marshmallows

Darren: Hiking up the river in Hunter Canyon and defying death at Corona Arch

Hunter Canyon Hike

Hunter Canyon hike and Finn catching air

Corona Arch Picnic

Corona Arch picnic

Leenie: Waking up and having coffee by the campfire with family and friends and our hike to Corona Arch

Cinnamon buns by the fire

Cinnamon buns by the fire

Corona Arch (photo by Darren)

Corona Arch (photo by Darren)

As I tucked each child away for the night, I was reminded that one of the best parts of going on an adventure is coming home.  Tonight we will go through our dinnertime ritual again and our favorite parts of the day will be less adventurous and more ordinary – a play date, a board game, watching Star Wars with Dad.

I will cherish our stroll along the trial of ordinary over the next few weeks while we prepare for our move. Everyone is going to be ejected out of their comfort zone and it is my job to make sure that this next family adventure goes off without a hitch.  Needs will be greater and emotions will run high.  Gratitude will be at the center of my prefrontal cortex in hopes of warding off any problem-making creativity. I will remember the desert and that the best part of any adventure is coming home.

Anna on the trail

Anna on the trail





Create A Cute Felt Owl

It’s so easy a ten year old can do it.  We celebrated Ella’s double-digit birthday last week.  She wanted a small sleep over with two of her besties.  I thought about things that we could do for party fun now that they are 10.  They are young enough not to be distracted by social media – thank god, but too old for traditional party games.  So we settled on a craft with Ella’s owl obsession as the central theme.

Felt Owl Craft

Here is what we used for each owl:
4″ styrofoam ball
28 mm googly eyes
mini glue guns
3 different colors of felt rectangles (plus one piece of brown for beak and ears)
This template ( though we deviated for the feathers).

I used the instructions on this site, which was very useful and deviated when it came to cutting feathers to save time as I was cutting felt for the three girls and myself.

Tip:  I cut out the felt prior to sitting down with them to create and glue.  I also bought little glue guns ( I picked them up at Micheal’s for less than $5 a piece) for each girl.  It saved me time and any discussion about who got to use the one and only glue gun.

1. Press your styrofoam ball against a flat surface to create a flat bottom.  It will keep your little owl from rolling away.

2. Print out your template and cut out each piece.  First, cut out the feathers.  In the template the feather is #3, but this is where we did our own thing to save time.  In total, you will need about 50 feathers per owl.  To save time, we used a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut the feathers.  We cut them into a diamond shape and made them about the same size as the template feather.  It was much faster to use the rotary cutter rather then scissors.  Some of the girls used two colors for the belly feathers and one color for the back feathers.  Some used two for the back and two for the belly.  It’s up to you to get creative.

3. Stagger and glue on the feathers on top of one another starting at the bottom of the ball and working your way up until you have almost reached  the the top of the styrofoam ball. You don’t have to cover the ball entirely since there will be a cone shaped head covering (#5).

Felt Owl Craft

4.  Cut out the felt for pieces #1, #2, and #5 from the template as well as the brown felt for #4, which will be the beak and the ears.

5.  Glue the small eye piece #2 onto the large eye piece #1.  Next glue on the googly eyes.

6. Glue one of the felt brown triangles (#4) for the beak directly to the ball and center it.  Then pinch wide part of the last two brown triangles together at the base with some hot glue. You will have to decide where you want the ears before gluing on the eye pieces.  Once you have decided, glue the ears to the ball and then glue on the eye pieces make sure everything is looking anatomically lined up for your round little owl.

7.  Lastly, glue your cone shaped felt (#5) and center the tip of the cone shaped felt  between the eyes making sure to cover up any bald spots not covered by your feathers.

Good Luck!