Category Archives: visitors

Friends, The Internet, and Finding My Soul Sisters

The first person I ever knew who met someone on the internet was my sister. It was the early 90’s, back when the internet was all new and scary, and actually meeting someone from the internet was akin to making yourself a date with an ax murderer, or at the very least, a weirdo.

So my sister was living with us at the time, and she was out super late one night. By the time we’d started to get worried, she was home, telling us about the coolest guy she’d ever met. They’d first started talking in an AOL chat room, and decided that they needed to meet in person. She hadn’t told us where she was going because she didn’t want us to 1) talk her out of it, or 2) warn her that he’d probably be, well, an ax murderer or a weirdo.

It could have ended badly. But, thankfully, he was not an ax murderer. Or a weirdo (although he did eventually become my brother-in-law, which is almost the same thing.)

Of course, since then I’ve known of countless people who’ve met their spouses, significant others, friends, even birth parents on the internet. These days, it’s downright commonplace. But back then? Back when my love affair with the internet first began? The idea that the internet, this veritable pool of knowledge and resources and information, could also be such a source of connection = Mind. Blown.

And it would turn out, especially as I was drawn to unschooling and gentle parenting and eventually to a whole variety of “hippie” ways, that the internet would be not just useful for making connections with other like-minded moms, but invaluable. It made me realize I wasn’t alone.  For the first time, I would find people who truly got it. People who understood. People who didn’t like me despite my “weirdness” but because of it. Yes, some of the best friends that I’ve ever made have matriculated from this same online tribe.

Last week, I got to spend five days with one such friend, when Jess visited from Michigan.  In many ways, we didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary.  We never made it to Sedona.  We didn’t step foot in the desert.  The only mountains I showed her were those we passed on the highway (and considering we drove around the entire east valley, we were on the highway a LOT)


But we also laughed a lot.

We chatted a lot.

We ate good food, and drank good drinks, and went to Jamba Juice at least 3 times.


And there’s just something… comforting… about being with a person who GETS YOU.

Someone who doesn’t think your dreadlocks are weird because she got hers six months before you did.

Someone who doesn’t question why you’d want a fourth tattoo, because she’s right beside you getting her second, and faithfully handing you lollipops for the entire grueling 3 hours.


Someone who doesn’t think it’s at all unusual that you love God, but that you haven’t been to church regularly in more years than you can count.

Someone who you can be completely honest with, not just with certain parts of yourself, but with all the parts.

Someone who treats your non-stop, energetic, firecracker of a daughter (and all of your boys) as well as she treats her own kids.


Something special indeed.

So while I have moments (and days and months) of pretty much loathing all things internet and social media – or at the very least, some of the people who know how to use them – as long as they keep bringing these people into my life, I will forever be indebted.



Filed under friends, life, visitors

Arizona, Visitors, and Coming Full Circle

Every time someone hears that we used to live in New Hampshire, they ask the inevitable – and fair – question:  “What brought you to Arizona?”  And with few exceptions, my answer is a little bit different every single time.   Not because I’m unsure, but because there were just so MANY reasons, both large and small.  And what I’ve come to realize, and need to start telling people, is that the truth is really no more simple or complicated than this:  This is where our path has always been leading us… way back before there even was an “us”, way back before I painted that southwestern landscape picture in high school.  
This is just where we’re meant to be for now.  Will we stay here forever?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that as we’re approaching our sixth year, we have not even an inkling of being led to move somewhere else, a feeling that surfaced well before year number six in both Worcester, MA, and Andover, NH.  
When we moved, even though it was a positive move for us, there was some major external yuck that surrounded it.   There were strong reactions, and stronger words, and we ending up leaving with some severely hurt feelings…. and we were not alone.  It took some perspective that only time could provide, but I eventually came to see the situation from all sides.  And it just felt lousy all the way around.  I wished for a long time that I could delete it all, that I could go back and erase entire conversations, entire emails, entire periods of time.  I wished that I could forget, because I hated knowing that something that was originally so exciting for our family had gotten mired in such negativity and sadness for multiple parties.  
Fortunately, there’s sometimes truth to the cliche that states that time heals all wounds.  Time did in fact heal the wound.  The feeling of sadness about the way we parted ways with New Hampshire inevitably became replaced with feelings of happiness about our new life in Arizona.
The only reason that I am thinking of it now is that last week we saw Mike’s brother and his family for the first time since we moved here 5 1/2 years ago.  His parents have been here several times now, and his youngest brother came out two years ago, but Joe and Allison had not been here yet.   Although we’d all more-or-less kept in touch through Facebook (the blessing and curse that it is) I felt like we’d never truly “complete” with his family until we’d all actually SEEN each other again, in person, in a positive setting.   
And it really was a great visit.  Even looking from the outside you could see that.  
We went to the zoo

 Went off-roading

Went to the AZ Museum of Natural History

 Hiked in the red rocks of Sedona

Watched the newly acquainted cousins play and play 

Made cupcakes and cookies and pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.
Went out to eat
Stayed up late and laughed.  A lot.
Beyond all of that though, it made me feel as though we’d come full circle.  It made me feel as though we’d simultaneously moved forward, and moved back…. not back to the way things were when we moved, but back before that, back before we’d even decided to move, back when things were simpler.   Back to those days a hundred years ago when we’d all hang out in Mike’s parents’ backyard on Sunday afternoons.  Only this time we all brought six more years of maturity, six more years of parenthood, six more years of perspective.  We got to watch our children meet for the very first time, and we got to catch up – for real, not in the way you catch up by reading 140 character status updates. 
We did much-needed things you just can’t do long distance, and I’m forever thankful that we got that opportunity.   It only took five and half years.


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Filed under Arizona, family, visitors

Cousins and Legos

Tonight my brother in law and his family are here from New Hampshire. It’s the first time they’ve been out to Phoenix since we’ve moved here, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been over five years. The kids wasted no time in getting to know each other…

Autumn & Tegan

And the big kids are currently bonding over Legos.

Tomorrow is a visit to the zoo, Saturday we hope to do Spencer’s postponed off-roading trip, and otherwise the plan is to hang out and catch up on 5 1/2 years.  

And it’s good.


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Phoenix in April

Last week, Skip & Barbara, and Rob, Celia and little Ayla all came to visit. I posted this one picture (the rest of the weeks pics can be found here, here, here, and here) because the outdoors seemed to be the theme of the week. We spent much of the time just sitting out back – watching the kids play, chatting around the patio table, eating (always eating!), and catching up. We spent a day at the Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium, another exploring an old ghost town, and an afternoon playing at Makutu’s Island. We watched Paxton’s baseball game, celebrated at Everett’s 5th birthday party, and rocked out on Rock Band. Celia made us an authentic puerto rican meal, filled with yummy foods with fancy names that I vowed to myself I’d remember, then of course promptly forgot.

The week wasn’t without it’s snafus though. We never did get to take them geocaching or offroading. I never made my berry dessert (I hope introducing them to Jamba Juice made up for it!) We learned that the children’s museum is closed on Mondays, that Mike’s truck will overheat after too much heavy mountain driving, and that it takes a long time to get 11 people all moving in the same direction at the same time. I’d like to think we’d all agree it was worth it!

It was so good to see them all, to get to spend time with our neice who we’d previously only known through photos, and to share our little corner of the world. I only hope they all had a good time, and that their vacation was a great one.

And last but absolutely not least:

Happy, happy birthday to my beautiful five year old Everett. I loved petting all the baby goats with you last week!!!!


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Filed under Arizona, Everett, family, visitors

A Week in Pictures … and a few words too

Has it been only 9 days since my last blog? What a full and eventful 9 days it’s been.

First, I’m sad to report that we lost the praying mantises. :( We still don’t know what went wrong, but every last one of them had died by the time 3 days had passed.

On a brighter note, on Friday we released our butterflies. It actually took some coaxing to get them out of their habitat (I think I was envisioning them just gratefully bursting forth as soon as it was opened) but they eventually found their wings – and their freedom – among the bushes in our backyard.

In other animal news, Paxton’s leopard frog tadpoles are still doing well, but Everett’s tadpole is… off. We can’t yet tell if he is dying or if he has just slowed way down because he is a critcal stage of his transition. I’ve been following the instructions, feeding him regularly (but not too regularly), keeping his water cloudy (but not too cloudy) etc. I guess all we can do now is wait.

We actually haven’t had a lot of time to think about butterflies and tadpoles lately anyway, because we’ve been busy visiting! Our good friends Doug and Erika were here for five days and we had such a great time. We hadn’t seen each other in six months so we had lots to catch up, necessitating lots of busy days and late nights… and in one case, staying up till 4 in the morning playing Wii, PS2 and baking cookies.

Our first order of business was going geocaching. We’d been wanting to do it forever, and were happy to finally have an excuse to go, and some willing cohorts to go with us. For the uniformed, geocaching is like a big treasure hunt game. You plug in some coordinates into a GPS, hunt for the cache – which is filled with little trinkets – sign the log book, take something & leave something, and re-hide it for the next person. It was a blast and it is now officially our new favorite family hobby. We can’t wait to go out and do it again.

We also went to the Phoenix Children’s Museum for the second time, and it was every bit as fun as the first.

Last, but most definitely not least, we celebrated both Spencer and Tegan’s birthdays in one big party on Saturday. Tegan loved spending time with her grandparents and aunt and uncle, and she had a blast opening her presents

But the highlight for Tegan, in traditional Tegan style, had to be eating and enjoying her first ever birthday cake. I have to note again, for the people who have not yet heard me say it, that the lamb cake was made from the very same cake mold that made my first birthday cake 34 years ago. I was so very excited to make it for my own daughter, and what made it even more special was learning from my Mom that she too had a lamb cake for her first birthday. Three generations of little lambs! She commented that my grandmother – who passed away 5 years ago and whom I still dearly miss – would be tickled to know that Tegan had a lamb cake too… and I know that she was.

Spencer loved his cake too

and his presents

and having a real life police officer to show him how to use his new fingerprinting kit

All in all, it was a great day, and a great week… with great family, and great friends.


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Filed under birthdays, family, geocaching, Spencer, Tegan, visitors

In with the new…

I always get very excited about New Years. I love the idea of fresh starts and clean slates, new calendars and to-do lists. Out with the old, and in with the new. I did not however, make any resolutions this year. I want to live today for TODAY. If there’s something I want to change (or improve or quit or start) I will do that when I feel the need, regardless of the time of year. In fact I’ve made some changes in a few areas lately that I’m very happy about, and they will carry right through to 2009.

Our final week of 2008 was a busy one, and full of many firsts. Skip and Barbara were visiting for the week and we – in no particular order – rode downtown on the new light rail, went bowling, ate lunch at PB Loco and Cooperstown, visited the new children’s museum, and drove aimlessly around Scottsdale looking for a little out-of-the-way cloth diaper store (we found it.)

I posted more museum pictures on my Facebook page. Too many to choose from! And while I’m on the subject of Facebook, are you on it? I think it’s a pretty amazing thing. Where else can you socialize with your inlaws, your parents and siblings, your ex-boyfriends, coworkers, old classmates, old friends and new friends… all in the SAME PLACE?


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Filed under Facebook, New Years, visitors