Swamp Beauty.

In our recent visit to Michigan, we visited Tony’s aunt near Roger’s City.  Upon our arrival, after settling in a bit, we went out on the quads, the sole mission to explore.  I brought my cell phone, and figured that’d be good enough.  Yet, we rounded the corner to the lake and sitting atop the lookout was a bald eagle.  In the wild, a bald eagle!

I snapped a couple of inadequate photos with my phone and mourned the fact that I had left my camera with the longer lens back at the house.  Tony, reading easily my disappointment, let his aunt know what we were doing… she nodded sagely, kind of smiled, and said she would wait there for us to return.  She said she knew the eagle landed there, most evenings, some mornings.


We came back and I took a few more pictures and then the eagle flew away, swooping over the swampy lake and soaring majestically into the trees.  I figured that would be the last I saw of it that day.

The engines to our quads roared to life and off we went through the trails, bouncing over rocks and feeling the wind rushing past.  We came to a fork, and as we decided which way to go, I leaned out a bit and glanced up… and there was that eagle again!  I took a couple more pictures, terribly focused, but I was so pleased.  And then it took off again, flying away to a quieter location.


There were so many moments of beauty that day.  Here are a couple more.

These photos of Buddy the dog were entitled by Tony’s aunt:  “Happiness is a romp in the swamp.” 


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Sister Sky Products

When we visited Oklahoma over the July 4th holiday earlier this month, my friend, Tracey, and her family took us on a driving tour of a few areas local to her house. One of those places was a quick stop at the Chickasaw Nation Visitor Center and in there was a display of some  body products.  I sampled the lotion on my skin, and the scent stayed true and clean for the 10 minutes or so that I walked around.  I was pleased, because a lot of products that I sample turn musky and musk scents give me headaches.

I went back to the display and picked up a bottle of the lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash and dropped $45 for the lot.  I felt like I’d walked out of Bath & Body Works, but with only one scent.  The only scent they make (or at least that was sold there and on their website):  Sweetgrass.  It is refreshing, subtle and clean smelling and stays true all day.  I fell in love with it.

I’ve used the Sister Sky sweetgrass products now for almost a month and I am so pleased with them.  The shampoo and conditioner require only a very small amount to get through the entire length of my hair — which is a lot of hair.  The body wash doesn’t dry out my skin like some soaps do and the lotion stays on, even after washing my hands.  I just placed an order on their website for more (I’ve got another 2 months worth in the bottles, but I like having inventory), and am going to try their “Kevin’s care” lotion for eczema or distressed skin, as I have a recurring rash on my arm that happens when the PH balance is off in the swimming pool. I’m hoping that the special lotion will help.

I try a lot of products and am often disappointed, but this time my quest for finding something unique and different made it all worth it and as long as this company continues to make these products, I will continue to buy them.

You can find their website here:  link, and they have a Facebook page, too:  link

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Life Update/Last Weekend-San Antonio

I sit here and I’m debating whether to start this writing with something cliche, like, “Well, it’s been awhile…”  or if I should avoid the obvious statement and just jump right in. I think I’ll just use this paragraph for my segue.

The biggest news the blog doesn’t know, is that for a myriad of reasons, we moved to the giant state of Texas the latter part of 2017.

I landed my dream job here, so we moved the entire family: cats, bird and all — not an easy move.

Tony hadn’t landed a job yet in Texas, so we decided he needed to stay in California for a few months with his parents, while he continued to look.  While not ideal for William, this enabled Tony to be with his family when his mom passed away mid-October.  Her passing was devastating for the family, but we are so grateful that all of the children were able to be there for her last moments.

The transition to living here in Texas has been difficult.  Beyond the usual things of setting up a new home and support system, our bird and 3 of our cats died.  After a month of a quiet bird cage, we decided to adopt a baby parrotlet, we named her Peppermint.  A few months later, after seeing how sad our remaining cat, Snuggy, was over the loss of Tug, who he was very attached to, we adopted a 1 year old cat to keep him company.

Tony did land a job and he moved here, so now both of us have new jobs and seemingly limitless possibilities ahead of us.  Settling in and getting the lay of the land has been our priority   We are closer to family and many of our friends, which works well because traveling is one of our family’s goals,. Everything stateside (except Hawaii) is now within a 2-3 hour radius, and Texas itself has so much to explore.

For example, this past weekend we planned a visit to San Antonio.  Since William is homeschooled, we like to take trips to visit actual historical places, and the Alamo in San Antonio certainly qualifies.  The first thing that went awry was our outbound flight was canceled, so we lost a half day at our destination.  We debated rescheduling the entire trip, but decided to try and make the best of it, so we rescheduled to a later flight.

We landed and headed off to see our long-time friends that we met years ago via blogging (Jethro and Zelda), as they graciously invited us to stay in their home.  We got to meet their youngest daughter, Charlotte, and they got to meet our son, William, who are now fast friends.  We dropped our stuff off, visited for a short bit, and then headed off to see the Alamo.  After that, we returned to their house… and then at 11 o’clock at night, we decided that we needed to go to H.E.B.  Having never been to a H.E.B. before, I cannot lie, I might just go back to San Antonio to visit H.E.B. again.

Sunday we headed over to Sea World San Antonio to check the place out, except we didn’t get very far inside the park before William started feeling ill.  He fed the sea lions and we were charmed by the baby sea lions, and then he got it in his head that he needed Dippin’ Dots (not all about him, I like them, too), but all of the stands were out of them.  So the whole thing turned into a strange scavenger hunt for Dippin’ Dots, mixed with William complaining of gas pains or stomach cramps.  And then he threw up and proclaimed, “Well, that was unexpected.”

Because we weren’t sure if William had a virus or heat exhaustion, we spent the next two hours hanging out in Sea World’s first aid room, where they introduced us to the most fabulous emesis bags I have ever seen.  These things are life changing.


How did I not ever know such a thing existed? They gave us an extra one when we headed out to optimistically try to catch an earlier flight home  (I have no idea why we thought we would be able to do that, given how Southwest had failed us this trip), but what really happened was we ended up spending 6 hours at the airport because Southwest re-ordered the standby list (we had been 1st on the list) on the flight we were trying to catch so we didn’t clear the list, and our original booked flight was delayed.  After a few more rounds of using his emesis bag, we arrived home at 11 pm.

We were so grateful to be home and we’re really hoping our next trip is less adventurous.


Filed under Our Kid is Cute

Letter to our 5 year 6 month old

Dear William,

On June, 8, 2017, you turned 5 1/2 years old.


These days you seem to be a very sensitive and sentimental person.  You hold on to each moment with a desperation akin to the way my grandma used to save the last bite of food on her plate at dinner.  She had been through WWII, but I’m not sure what your excuse is?  Maybe that you’re 5.

One morning when you had awakened, you told me you’d had the best dream about a Monstro whale and that he was a really nice whale, and he liked you.  And you really liked him.  And  you were so sad that he had left you.  You started sobbing.  I told you that sometimes a goodbye isn’t forever, sometimes it’s just “goodbye for now.”  This gave you hope.  I also told you that sometimes you can see your dreams again the next night.  I know sometimes i have the same dream.  You took hope from that… but then there more tears the next morning, because you didn’t see your whale again.  At that point, I suggested that you draw your whale so I could meet him, too.  You were thrilled with this suggestion!  You sat down the next day and drew out the story, like it was a comic strip story… the initial meeting and how happy you were, the playing time with each other, and the the sadness when you left each other.  Now, whenever we go somewhere, if you see a picture of a whale, you claim it as “your whale.”

I finally found a dentist who was willing to do the work that was needed on your molars without general anesthesia. You met with her for a cleaning and you both just fell in love with each other. It was an instant connection. The first visit was cleaning and x-rays, the 2nd visit, she tackled the toughest two teeth (2 hours in the chair), the next visit she did two more difficult teeth (1 1/2 hours in the chair — you decided to take a nap), the 4th visit she did 2 easier teeth (you told her you were going to take a nap… haha) and the last visit she did just a couple fillings… all on your molars. I am relieved and thrilled that we were able to find someone who is so skilled with teeth, such a good fit for your personality. She is now my dentist, too, and when I leave her office, I feel like I’ve just visited a really good friend. We are so blessed!

Travel and Activities:
We traveled to see my Aunt Marjorie in April, and when we got there you curled up in the hallway under all the family photographs and started crying, “I want Uncle Jim back.”  I know you were grieving his loss, and I know that it wasn’t really real to you that he was gone until we got there and you actually realized that he wasn’t there, but … damn… could your timing have been just a bit better?

We’ve visited Legoland and Sea World several times each in the last six months.  One of the times (for each park) we brought your Grandma D.  You held her hand and acted as her personal tour guide around each park, sharing all the things that meant so much to you.  Your Grandma D. is a true treasure, she just let you lead her around and soul-feasted on your joy in sharing with her.

In April we enrolled you in beginner’s basketball. My boss at work was coaching her son’s basketball team and she said she wanted you to remember her always as the first person who contributed to your fame, so she sponsored you.  We have tried… gymnastics, dance (ballet and tap), swim class (although not as a sport, just to learn), ice skating, aerial arts … and it appears as if basketball is your love.  You LOVE basketball.  You were excited the first night, even though it was orientation, and wanted your ball despite the fact that your ball was flat. You didn’t care. You wondered where your coach was… you’were ready!  As far as I can tell, the stories I’ve heard, you are a willing and eager participant in learning to play the game.

The end of May found us doing a road trip to the Monterey peninsula, with an overnight stop on the way to visit a long-time friend of mine in Ojai, who graciously offered their home to us so our drive wouldn’t so long and sent us on our way the next morning with a delicious breakfast under our belts.  We stopped next at Hearst Castle on the way to Monterey. We also, later, drove up further north to see the Redwoods. We were thrilled to be able to meet our friends, Cat and Jake, and their daughter, Scarlett at both Hearst Castle and the Roaring Railroad camp near the redwoods. It was such a unique trip and you loved having Scarlett there to play with. We also met up with my best friend from high school, Bridgett, who also happens to be a cartoonist and she drew you an octopus in your sketch pad, and her friend, Judy, looked for shells with you. They also brought us a yummy lunch from a local deli. It was just a delight to spend the afternoon on the beach with them! Pictures from our trip can be found here: LINK

You finished out your Awana season in the Cubbie group, and next year you’ll move up to the Sparks group. You were excited about that and then the next day you randomly realized that by becoming a Spark, you would no longer be a Cubbie.  Child, I think you outgrew being a Cubbie about halfway through the season, as you towered over the other kids in your class.  You are going to thrive in the next level; you are SO ready.

Your teacher at the co-op preschool group you’ve been attending left the group.  She was driving a long distance to teach our little group and traffic in California is increasing rapidly every day.  It just got to be too much for her.  With her leaving, the other child who was your age also left the group, and the remaining children are a year younger than you.  I think the socialization has been good for you, but I’m evaluating whether it’s time to move on.

In the last few months, you went from shunning coloring other people’s pictures to coloring them with vivid colors and you focus really hard to stay in the lines. You prefer to paint things over coloring them. You still prefer to draw your own pictures. To that end, I found the Draw. Write. Now. books that show you step-by-step how to draw things, starting simple and gradually getting more complex.  I will find you with those books pulled out, a piece of paper folded into fours, and you diligently working on drawing something.

One evening after finishing watching the Moana movie, I had instructed you to go upstairs for your bath.  You disappeared and I followed you upstairs… except when I got up there, you weren’t there.  You had tucked yourself into the corner in the living room behind your desk with construction paper and markers, and you were drawing freehand the kakamora (coconut pirates) that you were seeing on the screen like it was the most important thing you’d done you’re entire life.  When you were done, you instructed me to send them to Disney so they would use them in the next Moana movie.

You’ve also had a turn of attitude in the last few months about workbook sheets, you are now seeing the value in them. You still prefer to work on a chalkboard or a slate instead of paper. If we do that, you will sit there with me for 2 or 3 hours and do the work.  We completed one workbook in a weekend that way, you just wanted to keep doing more and more pages. Even in just the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen that you fix your “pencil grip” yourself without a reminder from me. It is so thrilling for me to see each step of progress that you’re making!

You love, love, love to be read to, especially The Magic Tree House books.  You love good story lines that involve adventures,  journeys or mysteries.  Because of that love, I somehow stumbled onto the Five in A Row curriculum for learning.  We have had the BEST time working through those books and we love the flexibility of it to explore every topic and subject we can think of while reading through the recommended classic literature. You are working hard to learn to read and write, sounding out letters, learning how to shape your letters. One day you sounded out Happy Birthday all by yourself, and wrote it down… backwards. That’s OK, if I remember right, Leonardo da Vinci wrote things backwards, too. ha

As you’ve grown and changed in the last few months, I find that you are more analytical and are sometimes a step ahead of me in your mental processing skills. Yet, there are still gaps that I’m seeing as far as the end result of your decisions. I find that I’m working harder these days to evaluate how the things I teach you will impact you as an adult, and find myself pausing more as I respond to you, while I try to give you coping and problem solving skills that will serve you well throughout the next few years. I see everything in that perspective these days because I’m realizing that some of the methods that have been used by the people who taught me were designed to “shut down” the process of learning instead of “working through” the problem to a solution. I see now, in parenting you, how I have “learned” responses that result in panic and anxiety, because of the “shut down” method I was taught as a child resulted in a fear response instead of a “solving” response.

Our sweet boy… I treasure my time with you. You are equal parts silly, funny, sweet and mischievous. You are always on the move, experimenting, and yet you go completely still if I’m reading to you. I love our snuggle time and I love our active time. Time spent with you and your father are the best times of my day.

Love you forever,


Pictures from the last few months can be found here:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5


Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy, Letter to William, Our Kid is Cute, Travel and Adventures

Hikes After Taco Tuesday

We decided a couple months ago to start doing little hikes after we go out to Taco Tuesday.  I love finding hidden gems right in the city I’ve  lived in for 15 years now.

On tonight’s post-Taco Tuesday hike, we found Bunnyville, where we learned what happens if we combine a theoretically escaped fluffy domestic bunny with a wild bunny. We saw lizards, found a farm in middle of the city, saw pigeons roosting in a tree and a hawk eating dinner.

I can’t wait for next week’s adventure!


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Flashback to Venice

I’ve been reading the Magic Tree House books to William, and we just finished book #33, which talks about Venice. In our homeschooling curriculum, we also read the book Papa Piccolo, which is also set in Venice. Then, when I was looking to consolidate our “green” bags, I came across the bag that was given to us by the shop in Venice where I purchased quite a few tapestries.

Curious as to whether that shop is still around, I looked up both websites that were listed on the bag, but the shop had let both domain names expire. So, I went to Google maps and put in the address listed on their bag. A picture immediately came up of the canal. Surprised, I swiveled the picture around, and sure enough, there it was… the little shop. In the image capture from Google, outside are stands with a bunch of knick-knacks, which I don’t remember being there. Dust collectors wouldn’t have drawn me into the store. When we were there, their entire shop was devoted to tapestries, and I remember they had a dog that slept on the floor inside. Arte Veneziana, S. Croce 557/A, Venezia

My pictures from our visit in May of 2007:

When reading about Venice, every time we started a book, William said to me, “You’ve been there!” Yes, yes, we have. And someday we plan to take him there, too. It’s funny how one thing leads to another, isn’t it?

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Yard Work.

I ran a test of my sprinkler system yesterday.  I noticed one shooting water out the line onto the fence.  Not the way it’s supposed to go. I thought I would just get back there and fix that.

As usual, things are not always as easy as they appear at first glance.  
Plants had grown, some had died, and let’s not forget the really enormous giant bird of paradise plant … immovable, too … that stood guard in front of where I needed to go.  
I had to prune my way in.  I guess I had an allergic reaction to something?  I’m guessing it was the pony tail palm trees?  

I’m not really sure, but around bedtime last night, I decided to actually pay attention to the itching I was feeling on my arms and actually LOOK at them, instead of just putting cold water on them.  Goodness.  Luckily I found some hydrocortisone cream, and by this morning the swelling had gone down.  

Next time, I’ll maybe put on gloves.  

Yeah, probably not.  I’ll just look earlier.  

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