Hopeful New Beginnings

is how I feel as I say farewell to 2015. Such a good year and yet I see the potential for better (it can be a curse-ask Joe). But one specific hope is to be a better friend to those near and far. DSC02528This morning, when the mail lady rang the doorbell with a package from France I was squealing like a kid. My pen pal from France- Helene- and I had lost touch. We met via my seventh grade French teacher requiring us each to have a pen pal. We stayed in touch all through high school, into college, where we eventually met in France (1999). She is this amazing girl who taught me how to be a long distance friend through letters and packages and photographs. We both married men named Joseph and had children. Somewhere along there we lost touch and until this year (thank you Facebook) I assumed she was lost- until she reached out to Joe.DSC02530She sent lovely gifts for each of my children and I am thrilled to be back in touch with her. She is one of many ladies I love but don’t live close enough to hang out with.

Not to mention the lovely friends I have in my life now that are sometimes hard to find time to be with. I want to spend time cultivating those relationships that keep me sane. I don’t need more friends (or shoes or stationary or books) I just need to take care of the ones I have been given.

From an ocean and a continent away I am so thankful for Helene.

Candy Cane

to match my pajamas.

Route 66

We managed to squeeze in just a little bit of this nostalgic past between Barstow and Victorville.
DSC_3349Joe loves the run down and closed up shops. The train tracks running parallel with the road.DSC_3352I wanted to see the Bottle Tree Ranch.DSC02501The very first sign we saw getting out of the car was an invitation of sorts.DSC02523Easy enough to find on the side of the road.DSC02521This is such a lovely and fun yard of art.DSC02513The shadows were long and wintery.DSC02520The kids were thrilled to touch and pull and poke at the art.DSC02506A magical playground.DSC02509Olivine took a long time deciding which rock she wanted to adoptDSC_3307and I kept thinking about how the shadows resembled the designer Orla Kiely’s flowers.DSC_3317This place is worth the detourDSC02510and my family gave it five stars.DSC02522I could have stayed much longer and will definitely find an excuse to wander back here at some point in the future.

Las Vegas

The morning after Christmas we piled into the car and drove into the desert.DSC02446 We wanted a change of scenery and are lucky enough to have family members who own a place out in Las Vegas to stay in. Part of the hassle in travel becomes where to stay and can we cook there. This was Perfect. Thanks Aunt Kathy & Uncle Chris!DSC02482We went to the strip (old and new) mostly to walk the streets.DSC_3197I love crowds, flashing lights, and city life. We saw the volcano show in front of the Mirage
DSC02475and walked through the Venetian. Our kids wanted to watch every puppet, magician, or impersonator they could.DSC02484And of course they wanted to shop (but we only looked). Olivine loved that the colors and sunglasses on these puppies.DSC_3187We also explored the surrounding parts, something Joe and I have never done together. That meant visiting the Hoover Dam and looking over the edge, which made our legs shake.DSC02447The crisp air and big skies made for awesome views.DSC02456We also rode an old train after wandering into some Indian trading posts.DSC02459One of the days we explored Red Rock Canyon, a nearby National Conservation Area.DSC02494The kids were junior rangers and wore buttons in pride.DSC02496The snow still on the ground made me smile.DSC02497Hiking around on the trails was a highlight of our trip.DSC02499The rangers gave us good tips and the kids were let loose, whereas in the crowds we held them close.DSC02500 Parts of the path are bridged because in the summer there are creeks and rivers.
DSC_3240It was gorgeous.
DSC_3216We took our time and really soaked in the fresh air.DSC_3235I will brag that these little ones spent hours talking and looking out the window. They drew in their notebooks and asked questions about what they were seeing (solar farms in the desert).DSC02466They also took turns napping DSC02465because schedules were off a bit and we went to bed later than normal, because there was so much to see. That usually means random day sleeping because they woke up in the mornings at the same time.


waking up to hear whispering children and find them huddled together not ready to peek out in the living room. They are the kind of kids who like to let anticipation build.DSC02419watching them open stockings.DSC02430a little boy being over the moon to receive a bathrobe and a coffee mug.DSC02432a homemade batch of french toast.

DSC02437that Grammy packed extras from last night’s party for the kids.DSC02434that egg nog is in high demand around here.

Merry Christmas.




Merry & Bright

An afternoon with friends at the park and an evening at Grammy’s.DSC02412We are wishing you and yours a happy holiday.DSC02415Enjoy those you love.

Slow Start

This many days into our break, feeling better, we are easing into the free time in the morning.DSC02401There is a leisurely, do as we please, atmosphere.DSC02398And always some wildness thrown in because in our house we love to laugh.DSC02402Before I can even compliment her name writing and Christmas tree drawing she is off and running. It’s Christmas Eve and there is excitement in the air.


defined as awe-inspiring, admiring, astounding, marvelous, surprised…DSC02390a miracle.


Our days were busy until I came down with the stomach flu. I have been mostly in bed the last couple days. This evening I made it to the couch and noticed a little boy busy typing up a story.DSC02377Meanwhile Henry built a temple for Olivine to play in.
They will keep themselves busy as I rest and hydrate.



Kindergarten is a fascinating age of discovery and curiosity. Sometimes I love just watching my middle bear. He loves ramen and noodles, just like his papa. I can mix in veggies and that’s lunch.DSC02361He has an obsession with making notes for Santa. He has drawn several pictures and is ready to leave them out on Christmas Eve. His test is that if they are gone, Santa is real.DSC02366Also he has a sweet friend who he adores. These two are peas in a pod. They like to race on their classwork and climb on the monkey bars at recess. I snapped this at pick up.DSC02367I am looking forward to school ending for two weeks. A little more time with this guy, who has to correct me when I say he is five. Is he really already six?