“There is magic in the presence of trees,” I mused, inhaling the damp freshness surrounding us. Walking in our rain boots through the lush forest, my daughter happily chatting to her art teacher, I took as many mental images as my senses could hold. I left my phone back in the car when we pulled up (silly me).

This teacher is more than a teacher to Hannah – she’s her FAVORITE. “Mom! Mrs. O’Connor has a real studio!” she exclaimed at the beginning of her first art class last year. “She’s a teacher AND a REAL artist!” We were able to see her work in a local art show last fall and she graciously invited Hannah to come see her studio. To say that Hannah was excited was an understatement.

After the studio tour, Mrs. O’Connor took us all around her lovely space, surrounded by acres of forest land. (Half way through our walk, we stopped and grabbed our cameras!) Having lived here for a few decades, she can imagine living no where else – and it’s clear to see why! It really was a slice of heaven – and a rejuvenating day spent captivated by Mother Nature’s spell.

Teachers: never doubt the impact you have on your students. Read that again: Please do not doubt that you are impacting your students in ways you may never know. (Seriously the last couple of years – whew!) From this mama to one very special art teacher – I thank you especially for taking the time and sharing your gifts. You are a treasure!


Corny Things

With the playgrounds closed, the only thing there is to do lately is to go on walks, hikes, or bike rides. (Or bake). I love to cook and bake as much as the next person, but I can only eat so much sourdough bread. I started painting rocks. I thought it might bring a smile or giggle to kiddos out and about. Multiplied by no parks, stay at home orders, etc., it seemed like a fun way to help get out the stir crazies. Beginning in March, it was a way to fill some time, be creative and get outside a bit.

I remember seeing cute little lady bug rocks out at my favorite trail – they’ve been there for years. The minions and I gathered up some good rocks at the beach and we started painting. One kid painted one, the other kid painting a few but lost interest. I however fell in love with it and have continued on painting little random images onto rocks and hiding them around our neighborhood. Many were inspired by the internet.

Some are better than others. A few are left in our own flower beds. Most I paint and then hide in random trees or by community mailboxes.

I love a good pun, much to my kids’ disgust. I love showing them my latest and them groaning and rolling their eyes at how corny their mother is. “Oh mom!” I don’t even care. It’s funny punny.

Our community has a Facebook group page and people started posting the found rocks with their kids’ smiling faces. My daughter was irritated that I didn’t speak up and post that it was our rocks that were found. “That’s part of the fun – not knowing who is doing it!” I explained. She disagreed. Oh well.

While out walking the dogs the latest artistic creation in one particular tree in front of a house that I know has a couple of littles. I quickly made my deposit last week and I hear the door swing open and I walked quickly away. A window slid open and the mom I regularly wave to as we drive by called out to me.

“He saw you! I couldn’t stop him!” I laughed and agreed that I was in fact busted. “Are you the one that has been painting these rocks?” She asked me. I smiled and said yes, it was me, but that I’d found some in my walks that were not ours – that others had started painting and hiding, too! She said she loved them and it gave them something to look forward to on their walks.

Today as I was finishing up painting a fresh batch, the hubby walked in holding a gift bag. Curious I asked him what it was.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “It was on the porch.” I opened it up and found a card and some acrylic paint pens!

I got teary as I read the card. I remember how hard deployment was with littles under normal circumstances, but with COVID19 on top of it, playgrounds unavailable, stay at home orders – Groundhog Day is likely an understatement. Painting these tiny canvases has been a fun escape but has reminded me of the importance of community. While we may be socially distancing, we still need each other. People need people.

And maybe just a little splash of art.

Day Fiftyteenth: I don’t even know anymore, and does it really matter?

I have basically been at home (with about 3-4 outings for essentials) for 39 days. (The minions were ill 2 weeks before the stay at home orders in our state were put into effect). In these 39 days, I’ve learned a couple of things about myself. I consider myself an introvert, with a few extrovert tendencies. I cherish alone time – not only that, it is essential for functioning. If a solo recharge doesn’t happen on the regular, shut down is guaranteed. Being amongst the peoples drains me. Through this craziness I find I am in fact the “chatty-chat monster” that the minions have long-accused me of being. Who knew I was such an extrovert?! I will talk the ear off of a random person in the checkout line, the checker, the bagger, the checker 2 aisles over – they are adults; let’s converse the day away! I apparently have no shame. Now? Oh man, do I miss the niceties and courtesies that we all share when conducting our everyday business. 

I have been craving the creative. Photography, sewing, writing, and of course art projects with the kids have been recent channels of expression. Blocks of time to fill with no must-do’s create an enormous vacuum, and Netflix, internet surfing and mindless activity will only take us so far. Creativity has been heart-filling and anxiety-dampening.

Nature hasn’t been forgotten, simply not prioritized. I crave nature like oxygen. Hiking, biking, running, walking the dogs, even standing in the back yard and feeling the soft blades tickle the arch of bare feet – it all satisfies. I feel the presence of the divine when lost in my thoughts while lost in nature. More often than not, magic happens when in that space. Not magic in the slight of hand way, but what I call “Universe Winks”. Things like butterflies landing on my shirt, that are more than just “woo-woo”, and far more than coincidence.

Whales are common in Puget Sound. But, in most of my life living here (save a few years of duty stations elsewhere) I have never seen them in the wild. Neighbors had been posting that they’d “seen the whales playing out behind our circle”. I would rush out, and by the time I’d arrived, the whales evidently thought it was time to hide. Disappointed, I would return home. My daughter and I walked along the trails that border our neighborhood looking expectantly for any signs of whales. Lots of seagulls, which I also adore, but no whales. Countless times I walked out expecting to be awed, praying for a “moment”, then immediately chastising myself for asking for something so trivial when I have already been given so much. I felt greedy hoping for more. On one of these outings, an eagle flew right into viewfinder of the camera.


Seriously, how could I desire more with the beauty that already surrounds where I live?!


This is a 2 minute (if that) walk from my front door.

pmgudo2xTTmz2vElQEFsAgfullsizeoutput_1af2But, that is human nature though, isn’t it? We struggle with desire versus contentment. Learning to be content is the key to true happiness. I continued to walk out to the water and desire more.

fullsizeoutput_1b56And then it happened.

The Universe not only winked, it wrapped me up in the best fluffy-sweater, cozy-warm, first-cup-of-coffee-in-the-morning, sun-beaming bear hug. Turns out that sobbing uncontrollably while playing photographer is as hard and awkward as it sounds! Wiping tears off of the view finder while whispering prayers of thanksgiving for such gifts that are not deserved-yet bestowed with flair and grandeur-the camera click-clicked away attempting to capture one of the most breathtaking moments.

Incredibly close to shore! And directly in front of my shore-front driftwood seat!




fullsizeoutput_1b70Not only did I witness a whale, but TWO whales. Oh Universe, you are so extra and I ADORE YOU!

Thank you isn’t enough. But it is what I have.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.




It’s a Wonderful Life

Wow. What a day. I’ll apologize up front if I am a bit incoherent! These kinds of days I never seem to have trouble falling asleep – I literally collapse into bed.  And why I seem to save it all for one day is beyond me. You’d think I would be better at spreading out activities over the days – but lately it has been feast or famine!
Had a fantastic workout this morning – the best in a quite a while. We were sweaty hot messes and it was awesome! Definitely gonna feel that tomorrow! After lunch and playtime with the cousins, we rested a bit (although not long enough for Hannah as she was in rare form!) Then had a snack before running some errands.
Normally I’m not a big fan of having chips in the house, and if we do, it’s tortilla chips. (Mostly because I “can’t eat just one!” If it’s not in the house – I don’t eat it. But Jacob wanted “daddy chips”. They are the the chips Eric eats. How do you say no to that? I didn’t. He ate them and was comforted.
And then Hannah and Jacob fought over the bag:
After the chip bag holding crisis of 2012 was overcome – we hit the road with 3 stops. We were headed to the craft store, the bike store (Jake’s bike is broken) and then the party supply store to prepare for both upcoming birthdays. Why I think with little to no nap that the three of us would make it to all three stops is beyond me.
After we got our goods from the party store, we headed to Michaels. I cannot escape this place with just what I need. They always have other “goodies” and ideas for projects I just can’t seem to turn down. I had a project in mind – and it turned into 4 different projects for 3 of us. But more on that later. So then we hit the bike store for 1 bolt and 1 washer. They don’t sell the kind we need. Of course they don’t. Why would it be that easy to stop at one place? So pile the kids back into the car and down to Home Depot we go where they”should have that bolt.”
After we found a human to help us in that cavernous store, and that human looked in 4 different places 37 times all while I was trying to keep the minions in the cart and not grabbing the loose bolts and washers out of the tiny little drawers, he offers me a bolt that he “assures me” will work.  But more on that in a bit.
So by this time – we are all hot messes, too many stops and Jacob just wants to get home to his project.
So here’s the project run down:
I was making this:
It’s a “feeling thermomether’. Green is “happy good feelings” and the red is “Mad uncomfortable feelings” It’s a tool that we were given at our counseling session for Jacob to be able to articulate how he’s feeling. (We go to Focus – a group on base that trains military families resiliency tools for deployments/family separations and reintegrations. They are FANTASTIC!) I picked up the poster board, markers and sticky-back velcro for the “feeling foxes” that have different emotions and where they fall on the thermometer. We are still getting the hang of it, but not too shabby, if I do say so myself! I managed to even color inside the lines!
Before I set up the kids with their projects and aprons, I attempted to re attach Jacob’s bike wheel so he can ride it. Out come our shiny new bolt and washer and….
it doesn’t fit.
Shocking. So after all the trips and the fiasco at Home Depot trying to find the right one, it’s wrong. And did I mention that in the process of trying to fix Jacob’s bike, one of the drawers on Eric’s tool box is locked open and I can’t even close the thing? It’s completely jammed. Really? Ugh. So I left it there to do art.
I set Hannah up outside with some finger paints and she created this masterpiece:
Jacob found a “treasure chest” at Michael’s and wanted to paint it black. He tells me that “black” is the color that “puts him in the green and makes him feel happy”. Can’t complain when he’s using the tools we are teaching him! Ha! He also found a bag of big beads to make necklaces and bracelets. So we get those, but after being told not to put them into his mouth to spit them into his chest (they are small enough he could still choke) and he did it again – the beads went “night-night”.  And let me tell you how much I LOVED digging the dang things out of the grass – as he had one by one slid them all down the slide!
So he painted black on his chest – here it is all black and drying atop the grill outside.

Somehow during all the painting projects – I decided I needed a little color too!


 I still haven’t figured out how the heck I got it on my leg.


Jake played a bit while I cleaned Hannah’s now poopy diaper. Then he looks at me and says he needs to be changed too. Fantastic.
So between the paint, the dirty drawers, and the backyard being a painted disaster – off to the bathtub we go. Then it dawns on me, that I NEED to mow the lawn or by the time we get back from our upcoming mini vacation – it’s going to be a forest back there and I won’t have time to do it.
So then I drug out the lawn mower while the kids played/fought with each other.
So after the 3rd time of warning Hannah that hitting is “not ok”. She was going to bed. Awesome. Fighting sleep for an hour due to being over tired and Mama trying to cram too much into one day. I got paid back by an hour and half bedtime routine.
Whew. Days like today make me want to be a slug the next! But my lawn did get mowed!
Here’s to a less busy tomorrow!
%d bloggers like this: