greener grass

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Is there somewhere you feel absolutely comfortable and at ease?  For me, that place has always been smushed between my brother and my sister.  The three of us have a similarly silly sense of humor, and coming together always means lots of laughter, inside jokes, and secret languages.
My mom’s best friend (aka her sister) started having children when my brother, sister and I started elementary school, and our cousins quickly became like younger siblings to us.  Before they could question what was normal, we shared our silly secrets and expanded our trio to an incredibly happy sixsome.
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You can tell fate brought us Jon (my husband) and Daniel (my sister’s husband) because their quirky personalities make them a natural fit for our family. Where am I going with all this?  The eight of us got together for the Fourth of July, and the entire weekend felt like home.  I know, I know, a weekend can’t feel like home, right?  But the thing is, being with them – no matter the location – feels like home to me. photo (66)
Making something ‘feel like home’ is a pretty important task.  I grew up in Phoenix, went to college in New Orleans, and then lived in Mexico (volunteering), Chicago (graduate school), Wisconsin (husband’s job) and Minneapolis over a period of 5 years.  During that time, my parents moved to Washington DC, my brother graduated school in South Carolina, and my sister bought a home in Phoenix.  Jon’s family lives in Wisconsin and my grandparents and best friends are in Chicago.  Can you see how spread out my heart is?  The people I love are dispersed all over this wonderful country.
I wish I could convince my nearest and dearest to buy homes on the same street as me, but it’s probably not written in the stars.  Instead, I find all kinds of happiness by bringing everyone together.  That picture above?  A little bit of the greatness – my sister’s husband, my sister, me, Jon, and my baby brother.

Where do you feel most at home?

Graphic made with the Rhonna Designs app.

kickin’ it old school

The Phoenix sun took its toll, and we took refuge in my sister’s borrowed car in the parking lot.  We opened the moon roof, turned on the radio, and crawled into the back seat.  Very high school of us, I know.

Unlike most teenage trips to the backseat, this adventure was PG.  We were exhausted from flying to Phoenix, driving to the Grand Canyon, hiking Sedona, and then going to the spring training games.  I curled into Jon’s arm, thinking about how perfect the trip had been, and marveled at how I’d rather be lounging in the backseat than anywhere else in the world.
How does that happen?  What mix of ingredients does it take to transform the most ordinary of places into somewhere seemingly magical and worthy of travel?

We weren’t in the City of Lights or the Land of Plenty, but I wanted the moment to continue on and on (and on).  If Travelocity sold this vacation, I would buy it without a single question or second thought.
Give me tenderness in the backseat of a beat-up old car.  Show me the stars and let me be giddy about your arms wrapped around me.  We’ll play folk songs and let the world fade away.
When we got back to my sister’s, Jon did fantasy baseball research (he runs 3 teams) while I baked some treats for my family.  I meant to make strawberry shortcake muffins, but I bought the wrong kind of cake (luckily) and ended up with something better than I could have imagined — Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes.

Easy as pie and delicious as, well, cake.  If you want to make your own, make lemon cupcakes, place a strawberry in the center when cooled, and then top with whipped cream.  A recipe so good it should be trending.

sprinkle covered sister

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re exactly where you need to be? If you were offered an instant getaway to Rome or Bali or Paris you simply wouldn’t go because you’re caught up in something that makes you tingle with genuine goodness.  That’s the feeling I got when I watched my baby sister teaching her Kindergarden class to count to 30.  Image
My baby sister, Caity, is a sweetheart with a knack for telling jokes and making people feel loved. She’s worked as a teacher for the past two years, but today was the first time I was able to watch her in action.  And you know what?  She brings all that talent for making people feel special right into the classroom.Image
I surprised Caity’s class with 36 Dunkin Donuts to see what happens what you fill kids with sprinkles and frosting and jelly before 9am.  Start the day off with a sugar high, right?  As you might guess, Caity was (is) the sweetheart and I was (am) the troublemaker.Image
I read her class a story and then I sat back and watched her teach.  As I observed her work, I thought about how proud I am to have such a kind and funny baby sister. Lucky me for making memories with her since 1987.  

nowhere to be

We made our own rules and jaunted up, down, sideways, and around three times.  Crowds marched onward and upward while we searched for interesting rock formations, hidden caves and gorgeous views.  
The original goal was to climb the mountain, but we got distracted by wildflowers about halfway up the trail.  After a bit of a chat and some yoga, we decided we’d rather have an adventure than climb to the top:
Hiking sideways instead of upward (as advised) made me think about about life — it’s not about seeing how far you can go, but learning how to enjoy every step of the journey.  Pause every now and again to examine where you are and take in the goodness of the present moment — if you’re truly enjoying it, why not stay for a while?