How to Watch a Sunset {With Your Kids}

How to Watch a Sunset With Your Kids:  7 Step-by-Step Instructions

I originally wrote this essay a few years ago and never published it.  At the time I felt like maybe I was being a bit melodramatic.

My kids are older now (the one in the pic is twelve and in middle school!!) but I now feel that this kind of thing is timeless.  I still cherish these kinds of quiet nature moments that are strikingly beautiful, and in this loud world, I sometimes still need the reminder to center myself in the moment.

Enjoy :)

How to Watch a Sunset with Your Kids

1.  Find a Spot With a Nice View

A sprawling forested mountainside or the sparkling shore of a vast ocean would be ideal, but a small yard decorated with those, ahem, artistically placed brown dirt patches and a rusting grill {that you’ve been promising yourself for over a year now that you would clean} will suffice.

Work with what you’ve got.

2.  Relax

Sit down.  Lean on a railing.  Lay out on a towel.  Chill.

This one actually may take some preparation.  For example, if you don’t want to find yourself trying to run through the house with a child in tow after nearly choking on your soda when you heard the shriek of, “Mommy, I have to go potty RIGHT NOW!” then be sure to do a potty break {or diaper check} before you settle in.

3.  Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Or at least turn off the ringer.  If you’re like me you’ll probably want to snap a few photos with your phone, but don’t take any calls.  Don’t surf the web.  Wordle can wait.

Trust me, Facebook doesn’t need your attention.  In fact, it probably won’t even miss you.

4.  Take Off Your Shoes

It helps with the relaxing.  It removes literal and figurative pressures.

And your kids probably won’t argue, if they still have their shoes on.  My kids, for example, are constantly trying to take their shoes off.  At church, at Target, at the library … everywhere except our house, when they suddenly want to model every pair they own.

But running around outdoors without your shoes on helps you to live in the experience.

5.  Laugh

This one’s important.

6.  Let Them Get Dirty

Let them crawl around in the sand, the surf, the dirt.  Let them run though the grass in their bare feet and dance in your neatly raked piles of leaves.  Let them explore.

True, that grass stain may never come out of that shirt, but from here on out it will now function as a happy reminder of this magical moment.  If you let it.

7.  Never Take Your Eyes Off Them

As the pastels soften the horizon and transform the world around you, never take your eyes off of your children.  Because the sun will set tomorrow, just as it always has, and just as it always will.  But the sunset of your child’s youth will happen while you blink, and their innocence will disappear overnight.  So never take your eyes off of what is most precious in this world; more precious than jewels.

Watch the sunset in the crimson and coral glint on the hair of your child.  Watch the sunset in your child’s shifting shadow as it dances across the sand or the dirt or the grass at their feet.

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New Kittens and a Resolution Not to Overdo It

Well, here we are in 2021.

It’s been quite a journey. Now, I’m not one of those people who’ve been hoping that we’d all wake up on January first and find that all the struggles of 2020 had magically disappeared. Things rarely change in a single day. But I’ve slowly been coming to the realization that I need to change the way I do things. And now is as good a time as any to start.

First, as you can see from the photo, we have kittens! Up until about six weeks ago our fur babies consisted of a fluffy doggo, Zari, and one black cat, Luna. On my birthday last month we ventured to the pet store during a gathering of fostered kittens. There were so many. But these two, they caught our attention.

I hadn’t planned to add more black cats specifically to the mix, and certainly hadn’t planned on getting more than one. I had hoped to bring home someone to keep Luna company. But these two were brothers. And so precious. Our daughters took them into their arms and, well, the rest is history.

So allow me to introduce our newest snuggle buddies: Milo and Jinx. And now, our fur babies consist of a fluffy doggo and THREE black cats.

I’ve heard so many foster moms talking about how hard it is to adopt out the black cats. People still hold to the old superstitions. But these babies are like my good luck charms. And we now have three tiny panthers running around the house.

This, in my opinion, is a literal representation of joy.

Plus, as a way to not overwhelm people with an abundance of fur baby photos, I’ve started a new Instagram account. Just lots of furry happiness.

You can see it here:

I did mention resolutions in the title, did I not? This post, after all, is not simply an excuse to share kitten photos.

Technically I never do New Years resolutions or promises or whatever. But this IS the time of year when I’m packing away the Christmas decorations and it naturally lends itself to a time of cleansing and rejuvenation.

And this happens to be the year that I realized I needed to give myself a break.

You see, awhile back I had decided I needed to just try a little harder in order to accomplish everything that I thought needed to get done. I could do it. Sure. I could work full-time, take care of my kids, go back to school for my master’s degree, plan a wedding, and pack up and move to a new house.

AND I could do it all while getting back to publishing posts on my blog full of projects and recipes and tons of gorgeously staged and perfectly lighted Pinterest-worthy photographs.

Yeah. I convinced myself that was all going to happen.

Just try harder, I thought.

I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed. I had too much on my plate. The blog wasn’t happening at all and the wedding took more work than I expected. I had to take a break from going to school myself once my kids were sent home from school due to the pandemic. House hunting also became complicated with the suddenly changing market.

And then, last fall, I got sick.

Out of the many experiences I’ve had in life, including difficult childbirth and repeated bouts of mono, Covid is by far the worst. People often say “it’s no joke,” and while that on one hand feels like a devastating understatement, it’s also frightfully accurate.

Besides, laughing causes coughing fits.

It’s the end of January and I’ve been in pain every day since the end of October. That’s a great many days of heavy pressure in my chest, a fog stunting my very thoughts, a fatigue so intense it’s crushing. So many nights of lying awake shrunken into a shaking ball struggling to inhale and worrying that if I fell asleep I may not wake again.

Even after the worst of the pain dimmed, and after two trips to the hospital, I was still left with “long Covid” symptoms. So here I am, in a new house without the energy to unpack boxes, my degree still on hold for the foreseeable future, and with my emergency leave depleted so that I’m back at my job where I end each day relieved that I’ve managed not to pass out.

It’s no longer about “trying harder.” There is no hidden reservoir of energy that will suddenly well up if I just will it with positive thoughts. No way to even pretend that I can “do it all.” I can barely do what I need to do to sustain a semblance of regular life most days. And many days, even less.

It’s tough. Which is, yet again, another understatement.

But it’s also given me a great deal of time to sit and think. Is this really what I wanted out of life? Such hectic busyness just to produce some outward appearance of perfection?


What makes me happy in life? My kids, my husband, my pets. Reading, writing, being creative. These are the things I need to focus on. Without giving a damn if the accompanying photos are magazine-perfect. I can sit in a chair and read. I can do crafts with my kids. I can play with the fur babies. But it doesn’t all have to be in one afternoon.

It’s time to breathe.

One breath at a time I can do things I enjoy. I can live life slowly and still be valid. I can take my time and still be happy.

The laundry doesn’t need to be folded. Breathe. The spots on the bathroom mirror aren’t bothering anyone. Breathe. There’s nothing wrong with eating on paper plates because the “real” plates are still in the dishwasher. Breathe. A degree isn’t necessary to prove your worth. Breathe. Unpacked boxes in the corner are not the end of the world. Breathe. You are not a bad person for calling out sick from work. Breathe.



Smile at your kids. Sit with your family and read a book aloud. Scratch a fur baby behind the ears.

Catch your breath.

It’s time.

Take the time that you have and use it well. And don’t forget that it’s okay to spend it slowly.

One breath at a time.

I Have Seen Beyond Infinity

From Beyond Lovecraft Quote

As you may have noticed, if you follow my blog, I read a wide variety of genres . . . but there’s a special place in my heart for horror.

I love how there’s so much you can do with horror, how it can encompass everything else, from science fiction to romance.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a little Lovecraft lately, and while he has many quotable phrases, this particular bit stuck with me enough that I felt I should illustrate it.

So I made this graphic.

It reads:

I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars . . . I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness . . .

The imagery conjures something vast, something terrifying, but in words that translate the concept of cosmic horror with a sense of beauty.

Or, it does for me.

This quote can be found in From Beyond, a story from the collection The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft.

The photo features a small but very active galaxy in the Camelopardalis constellation and can be found on NASA’s website.

And you can find more images like this that I’ve made in my Quotes section.

Enjoy.  :)

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A History of Noms de Plume

I just had to share this infographic!

This stuff is fascinating.  Obviously I knew some of these facts – but I still learned SO much by reading this.

And – I’ll have it known – I’m seriously considering changing my pen name to Secretary to the Emperor of the Moon.


I’d love to hear any stories of pen names that you’d like to share!

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(photo credit:

Bored? Not Even Close.

Spring Break Boredom Busters | Activity Books | Roaming Rosie

Am I bored?

Not even close.

In fact, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the chance {as you may have noticed} to update my blog in a while.

But this Boredom Buster graphic rolled across my Facebook feed, and when I thought about how Spring Break is coming up, I was also reminded of everything I’ve got going on right now and everything that need to get done.

For example, my girls are having a birthday party soon.  In a week, in fact.  A.  WEEK.

So I’ve been busy putting together goody bags, making mermaid tails, painting sharks, organizing decorations… stuff like that.  {All of which, of course, will soon be featured here.}

And I’ve also started a new job.  Part-time, but hey, that’s still that many more hours out of the house every week.  Plus, I’m still trying to get everything organized to do my taxes.  I’ve been selling books.  And I’ve been writing again, too.  The writing part is awesome, {really, really awesome}, but it tends to be a bit consuming, too.

Thus:  not a ton of blog posts.

Well, no.

Not a ton of finished and published blog posts.  A whole bunch of partially finished ones, though.  Just sitting there waiting for me….

Anywho, my apologies for those of you that noticed my absence.  Hope you didn’t miss me too much.  :)

Oh – and if you DO need some boredom busters, you can find the books pictured above at

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Phrenologically Speaking……

phrenologically speaking...

So I’m reading a novel on my tablet and this particular word was bothering me because it was SO familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.

What does it mean?  What does it mean?  What does….. oh, wait!  I can look words up on my tablet!  Sweet!

And this is the definition I get:  phrenologically: (phrenological) of or relating to phrenology


I mean – REALLY?

You know, when I was in school {granted it was many years ago} we weren’t allowed to use the word we were defining in the definition.

Apparently Google Books doesn’t have the same restrictions.

Of course, I soon afterwards picked up a book that used the word repeatedly.  But by then, I’d remembered what it meant.  Because I looked it up.  In a real dictionary.

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10 Things I Never Expected to Say {Or: A Typical Day in the Life of a Mom}

10 Things I Never Expected to Say OR A Typical Day in the Life of a Mom from

Motherhood has brought with it many unexpected surprises.

Most of them are phenomenally, euphorically amazing. The rest are…


{That’s putting it mildly.}

And these are some of the unexpected words that have crossed my lips in the first 5 years of my daughters’ lives.

Things I hope I won’t have to say again {but know that I probably will}.

10 Things I Never Expected to Say

1.  I ran out of tissues; just use my shirt.

2.  Why are you naked?

3.  I didn’t know diarrhea could shoot that far – you almost hit Grandma!

4.  No, no: throw up on me, not the couch!

5.  Did I just step in syrup?

6.  No, I don’t need a tampon, and I certainly don’t need a handful of them … where are all the wrappers?

7.  Don’t stick your fingers in the dog’s butt!

8.  I don’t care how cold you are, you’re not getting back in the bathtub until I clean all of the poop out of it.

9.  Get your hands out of the toilet!

10.  Did you just put my ChapStick in your butt?

My second favorite chore is ironing.  My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.  Erma Bombeck

Please share some of the unexpectedness you’ve experienced in the comment section!

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{Top Photo Copyright Rebecca Abell | Dreamstime Stock Photos}

This Day I’ll Live {a poem}

This Day I'll Live:  a New Year's Resolution poem at

It may be a little late, but this is my New Year’s Resolution post.

I resolve to live this year.

Fully and completely.

Despite pain, despite heartache, I will be happy.  I will overcome and I will rejoice.

I will live.

……. and write more poetry.  Apparently.

Here’s my tribute to the New Year:

This day I’ll Live

a new dawn lashes
out i fight i won’t
let go let go let go

let go

i fight the fall
but fully freely fiercely hard
a broken shard to pierce
the sky and rain down stars

so lightly on this earth
so deeply dancing dreaming


i fight i climb i break i win
i live

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The Bookmark

Child Reading a Book Vintage Art

I have many bookmarks.

And by bookmarks, I mean tiny pieces of paper or old receipts or expired coupons that find their way into my books.

Part of the reason for this is that I can’t ever seem to find the few actual bookmarks I own when I go to start a new book, which leads me to the other reason:  said bookmarks are already being used within other books.

I tend to read multiple books at one time.

Or maybe I should say that I “start” to read multiple books at one time.  Over the years, there are more than a handful of books that I’ve drifted away from during a chapter that lagged and simply never finished them.

But I digress.  I came here to discuss bookmarks.

And sometimes you don’t even need bookmarks.  For example, one book I’m in the middle of is on my tablet.  The magical electronic device remembers my page for me.  In fact, when I was a kid, I didn’t even use bookmarks most of the time.  I just remembered the page number where I stopped.

My memory is no longer equipped for such a task.

Granted, my OCD forces me to look at the page numbers when I’m turning them to make sure I don’t miss a page {as if I wouldn’t notice}, but whether I put the book down for a few hours or a few days {or a few months}, I now find bookmarks to be essential.

Even tho I recently used a recipe that I’d cut from the back of a box of pasta as a bookmark, my normal go-to these days is two Post-it notes stuck together.  I usually have little pads of them lying around to jot down ideas or phone messages or grocery lists.  And I’ve found that by taking two Post-it notes and sticking them to each other with the sticky edges at opposite ends, it makes a nice sturdy square of paper.

Perfect for an impromptu bookmark.

But the fact that it also looks precisely like a normal Post-it note is what lead me to believe that my four-year-old daughter was just playing with a piece of the nearby pad of Post-its when I saw the yellow paper in her hand.

Until she opened up my big hardcover book, stuck the Post-it in between some pages, and closed it again.

Recognition {and panic} dawned.

“Was… was that my bookmark?  Did you take it out of my book?!?”

“Yes,” she answered, smiling sweetly.  “But I put it back.”


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{photo source:  Zazzle}