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Has it really reached that time in our lives where Danny and I are edging toward being empty nesters? It can’t possibly be. Our youngest – the twins, are 15 so we still have a short time, but I experienced a dose of empty nest life the last couple of weeks, and it was so different from what I’m used to.

So, here’s what’s been going on….Jude and Mycah flew to New York.

Jude is an amazing writer/illustrator and has been writing children books over the last couple of years, and attended a children’s book conference in New York. Mycah went along as her support, cheerleader and best friend. Jude learned so much and came away feeling very encouraged with great insight, tools and direction.

We are so excited for her. I’ll ask her for permission to write a couple of her stories on the blog for everyone to see how talented I believe she is! While in NY, the girls have spent some time with their cousin, Miriam, who flew out for a few days to join them, as well as our sweet friend, Hannah, who is there visiting her sister. We know her from sailing. Miriam, Jude and Mycah spent some time in the Africa exhibit at the museum – feeling at home among the animals from their roots!

It has been so fun to FaceTime them and listen to their exciting adventures. I told them about a few places to check out, like Zabars…a store full of delicious foods from everywhere.

Jude, who is the roast chicken addict, was so happy to find rotisserie chicken to take back to their hotel room. They ate hot dogs from a vendor, NY cheesecake, the best bagels, pizza, visited the Statue of Liberty, rode the subway and explored Central Park, went thrift shopping which is a favorite of theirs, and have frozen their little butts off the entire time. Mycah’s Christmas gift to Jude this year was Broadway tickets to Lion King, and they loved it so much. I received texts from them at intermission telling me they just have to go to Africa now. They’ve always wanted to, but now they’re even more driven.

Tomorrow mycah will return here to Idaho, and Jude will continue on to Florida. It will be a tough separation for them because they are pretty much inseparable. In fact they have already been on the phone with me plotting and planning when and where they can meet up next.

In Florida, Jude will take her STCW and Powerboat 2 courses, which will be great experiences for her to learn and grow from. They will open doors for working on yachts and following her dreams of life on the water. Later on this year she will travel to Alaska to work on fishing boats for a season.
Once Mycah returns she will be heading to see the Northern Lights in Canada for a week or so with a friend. She is loving being able to check things off her bucket list that I haven’t checked off mine yet…like going to Broadway and seeing the Northern lights. She loves to rub it in my face! After her Canada trip she will return to Bali for about 6 weeks to do her Yoga Instructor Training and all this while, she’s continuing to finish up her senior year of high school. She has been so excited for this for a long time now, and is so passionate about yoga. She’s amazing at it and we have no doubt she will be a fantastic instructor.

During this time, Aidan and Emma have been having a blast and a half with our friends in Montana.

They have been sledding, hot tubbing, playing games, watching movies, doing school work, eating and sleeping nonstop. We love Keith and Renee and their kids so much and look forward to many many more adventures with them in the future. You can watch their sailing videos on Youtube at Sailing Zatara. I’ll be meeting them to get the twins back today, and can’t wait to see them.
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While all this has been going on, Kjira and I have been having a blast hanging out together in between her work schedule. We took an oil painting class together, and decided we’d best stick to sketching. Our paintings were supposed to look like the three on the easel in the front of the class, but didn’t quite make it!

She did hers in Green and I did mine in Burgundy. We had a good laugh and enjoyed the time together!

We’ve also watched movies, eaten yummy food, had a blast at an Escape Room, had long talks and laughs and even picked out a new man in her life for her. She named him Prince but has not kissed him yet. He is a Cuban Tree Frog.

As many of you know, frogs and especially toads are my least favorite thing on the planet, and I am working very hard to embrace the fact that I now have one as a family member. I even held it for a little while and admired his cute little toe pads. Are you proud of me Mom?

I’ve also been busy taking care of some medical issues… A couple of days ago I had hernia repair surgery.

The hernia was caused by being nicked in a previous surgery, and has continued to grown larger. When we shipwrecked and salvaged belongings across the reef for 10 days in French Polynesia, I think I probably ripped that baby wide open and have had the company of a cute little bulge on my belly for the last few months. Dr Chamberlain here in Idaho Falls did a great job sewing me back together. My heart appointment for my pacemaker went well and all is as it should be there. I have 5 – 7 years left on my battery. I got some answers on some other blacking out issues I have, which was very interesting, and on Monday I have an appointment with the spine surgeon to discuss the bulging disks I have in my back. So, all is well and I feel great and am grateful for good insurance due to Danny’s hard work, and also for knowledgeable doctors. I won’t book our return tickets home to Bali until after my appointment on Monday.

All this time, Danny, who is usually gone on work trips when I am home, has been home almost this entire time. He’s been spending his days relaxing on the beach in 80 degree weather, reading, dining, doing some online training and he did have about a week long ugly battle with salmonella poisoning to deal with. I wish I’d been there to help him. He flew to the jet in Beijing yesterday and will be flying the owner to Australia and New Zealand over the next couple of weeks.

So, there it is. It’s been busy. Just as soon as I feel like I’m adjusting to the cold, I freeze to death, but life is good and I’m grateful for it.

The adventure continues

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After leaving our sweet friends in Montana, we were all so excited to see Hunter, Nonna and Zailyn! Our journey was as always, full of laughs, conversation and beautiful memories made. Danny and I had met Zailyn right after she was born, but Jude, Mycah and the twins had never met her. I made sure they all understood that I was going to be the first to get to hold her!!!

It was so sweet to watch the creatures with their beautiful little niece. Mycah started to cry when she held her and mentioned how absolutely perfect she is.

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Hunter was amazed at how much Aidan had grown in the last 18 month. Not much longer and Hunter (who is 6’3) will no longer be the tallest of them all.

I love the way these creatures love each other. As a mother, I can’t think of a greater gift.

We spent every day playing with our beautiful little Angel, who took to us immediately.

She painted with Aunt Jude….

played the guitar with Dad and Aunt Mycah…

It was such a treat to listen to Hunter and Mycah sing and play together. I’m not sure Heavens choirs could deliver anything sweeter.

Aunt Emma drover Zailyn around at the laundromat,

Uncle Aidan taught her how to hi-five…

and Aunt Kjira played and cuddled and carried and loved.

Uncle Jonathan had to work and couldn’t make it. We had so much fun helping Nonna and Hunter prepare for Zailyns first birthday party. Nonna had already done so much and we just help with last minute details. We made some trips into town for supplies – never missing an opportunity for love and laughs.

Hunter and Aidan relaxed a bit and played games once in a while and while eating ice cream we watched movies and played with baby Z in the evenings.

The birthday party was mermaid themed – since Zailyn is the newest little mermaid, so Kjira used her amazing art skills and whipped up some posters for games.

We made an octopus veggie tray,

Cookie clams, which became Zailyns friends. She would motion for me to take her over to the fridge so we could peek in and see if they were asleep yet. Crazy little critters never did go to sleep, keeping their eyes open all the way to digestion!

We made dolphin yoghurt cups,

Starfish rice cookie treats,

Seaweed grape skewers,

and Hunter and Nonna ordered her a beautiful cake.

Emma kept with Hawaiian tradition and made Zailyn a beautiful flower lei.

She of course looked gorgeous in it!

The party was a great success!

Hunter and Nonna are amazing parents. The spend so much time playing with and loving Zailyn,

and balance it beautifully with disciplining her well and allow yours truly to spoil her to my hearts content!

We kissed our Angel,

and cuddled her for 10 days! Though no amount of time in the world would be enough.

When it came time to say ‘see you later’, none of us were very happy.

Getting a serious photo of the creatures was practically impossible.

Ok maybe literally impossible.

Ya. It just doesn’t work!

Goof ball! How can Danny and I be so blessed?

We love our beautiful little family so much.

Loving Montana

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The Creatures and I have decided that as far as living on land goes…Montana has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

On our way to Nebraska, we took a detour and visited our sailing friends (s/v Zatara) at their beautiful cabin.

They met us at the base of the mountain since our 2WD rental truck was too gutless to make it, and as soon as they exited their vehicles we all embraced with giant hugs! It was so good to see them. The Creatures had so much catching up to do and spent every second laughing/chatting/playing together.

We bundled up in borrowed snow clothes and loaded up on snow mobiles and made our way to ‘The Bowl’ – a fantastic place to sled.

Aidan, Jack and Finn were really brave on ski scooters.

Keith was an absolute (skilled) maniac on the snowmobile.

And everyone enjoyed tubing and sledding for a couple of days while Renee and I took way too many photos,

until they were so sore from crashing,

and wet and cold – ready for the hot tub!

What an amazing group of boat kids, who care so much about each other!

The hot tub felt so good!!!

The best part of it all was just being together.

There’s something magical about being with the Zatara crew. Maybe it’s Keith’s delicious cooking….

or maybe it’s that we all have sailing in common with shared time on the water together and love laughing and playing as one big goofy family…

I think it’s all of it! Our kids get along so well, Renee is an amazing BFF and who can’t love Keith! He reminds me so much of Danny – a little boy in a big mans body! It was tough to say good bye to them when it was time to leave, but we all knew that we’d meet up somewhere in the not too distant future again. The morning that Keith drove us down to our truck, was gorgeous with fresh falling snow.

Our next adventure would take us on an 850 mile road trip to visit Hunter, Nonna and sweet baby Zailyn, and we were so excited!!!

Enjoying Idaho

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Our time in Idaho has been action packed! We’ve been helping my mom move to a flat in Idaho Falls, spending time with the Keck Family and Kjira, and getting my medical nonsense taken care of. We also made a another trip to Utah to a special family baptism. It was so fun to see the creatures with their cousins again. Aidan and Emma were born a few months after their cousin, Gabriel, so the three of them were often referred to as ‘the triplets.’

The three of them are still just as cute together!

They are all such a goofy, fun bunch.

We sat and played games through the night and. Into the morning hours.

Kjira took Jake and us to Targhee Ski Resort for a day and taught her siblings how to snowboard.

They did so well as I followed them around on ski’s.

The view from the top of the mountain was so gorgeous.

We played and played, had a BBQ in the parking lot,

until Aidan got nauseated, tachycardia confusion and extremely pale. We recognized it as altitude sickness, had him checked by the first aid nurses and they confirmed it, and left to get him to lower elevation. We of course had to stop for a square ice cream cone in Swan Valley.

Everyone was freezing so they ended up with a hot drink in one hand and an ice cream in the other!

At the Keck’s house we built a snowman.

We rolled snow into huge balls very quickly – it was perfect conditions for snow man building.

Jake had to help us lift the huge, heavy balls of snow…

The final result was an anatomically correct happy snowman.

Dave and ZoAnn made sure we made him an IT right away!

Mycah is now the proud owner of another Teton instrument. She has progressed beautifully in her ukulele playing and has wanted a better quality instrument, and picked out a Teton. While she was in the store trying it out she sang as she played, and was asked to record a couple of songs with them for their Youtube channel.

She did an absolutely beautiful job. I’ll keep you posted when they air it.

We left Idaho Falls yesterday and have traveled to be with our friends, the Whitaker’s, just outside of Townsend, Montana. After being here a few days we will continue on to Nebraska to be with Hunter, Nonna and our sweet baby, Zailyn. Her first birthday is January 27th and we are so excited to share it with her.
Montana is absolutely gorgeous! We are sledding, tubing, exploring, playing games, watching movies and hot tubbing. Life is good and many photos will follow…

Baby it’s cold outside…

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It’s fascinating to be in a place where the butter on the kitchen counter doesn’t melt and the salt is not all stuck together. The cereal stays crispy once the box is opened, items in the drying rack actually dry, and two minutes after rubbing lotion into my hands, it’s disappeared and I need another round. As we walk outside we follow a visible cloud of exhaled air, take cautious goofy steps to avoid falling on ice and find ourselves discussing when frost bite will set in.

When we arrived in Salt Lake City and exited the terminal to head to the car rental area, Aidan and Emma spotted snow and ran for it.

Emma gathered too cold snow into a snow ball, and threw it at her brother just to feel it disintegrate and settle all over her. She quickly told us that snow is colder than she remembers!

We spent a couple days in the Salt Lake area visiting our daughters, Ashley and Aundrea, and were also able to see some of my sisters kids. Being with family is such a beautiful thing.

It’s so interesting being back in the US after all this time. Everything is so spread out and so commercialized. Advertisements are everywhere you look, and constantly replay on the TV. There’s so much stuff. Everywhere! Huge stores of food. Piles and racks of clothing, and everything else that one does not need. It’s all there – everywhere, just dollars away. I listened to the kids talking in the hotel room…
Emma – ‘Is the tap water drinkable?’
Jude – ‘Yes, it’s all fresh’
Emma – ‘Really? We can just drink it right from the there? It’s available to everyone?’
Mycah – ‘Yep, it’s safe for everyone. What an amazing thought!’
Emma – ‘That’s amazing. Even poor people have water to drink. No one has to buy it. It just comes out fresh right there from the tap.’
Mycah – ‘Isn’t it amazing. So much fresh water.’
Emma – ‘I’m going to drink from it all day. If anyone needs me I’ll be by the tap. Drinking free, fresh water.’

I love that our children don’t take priceless gifts, like fresh drinking water, for granted. In so many places we’ve been and lived and explored, people are sick, they are dying, because they are so thirsty and dehydrated and desperately drink from polluted waters.
A glass of water. What a gift.

The creatures have been so excited to be back with Kjira. We are loving spending time with her and my sweet Momma. Jet lag is kicking our butts a bit, but we are adjusting as we visit with friends and family, drink Reeds Dairy Chocolate Milk, and venture out into daily highs of 7 degrees and other crazy numbers that should not be found in nature.

Beautiful new adventures are being embarked upon, memories are being made and we continue to draw closer still as a family. The creatures got really close yesterday as they tried to all fit into a photo booth!

Life it good. It’s freaking cold, but its good.

Heading to the US

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Christmas was wonderful! We felt so blessed to have Danny with us and enjoyed a relaxing day at home as a family. Since Christmas trees are pretty much non existent in Bali, we used a potted bamboo plant as our tree.

The creatures lined up just like they did when they were little, and were such a joy – as always full of love and sweetness with each other. We shared so many laughs and made many more priceless memories.

Emma was so surprised when Mycah gave her this crazy looking jacket for Christmas. Emma likes wild looking stuff and saw it in the store a while back and loved it. Mycah recently purchased it on a good sale and Emma is so excited! She plans on wearing it everywhere she goes in the US! It’s grand…just like her personality.

Jude and Mycah went to the Bali airport the day after Christmas to leave on their trip, just to find out that China Southern Airlines has cancelled all travel to and from Bali till January 8th. The girls quickly rerouted with Korean air and left later that night. Max also left to return to New Zealand. It was fun to have him hang with us. Just for the record, we’ve had several of our blog reading friends ask if Max is in a relationship with any of the girls, and the answer is no. He’s an awesome friend and the creatures love him like a brother. Thanks for trying to play match maker though lol.

When the girls reached Seoul, Korea, I told them they were now Seoul Mates. The two of them are having so much fun traveling together. Their sisters, Ashley and Aundrea, will pick them up in Salt Lake City, and wait for the twins and I to arrive tomorrow. We’ll be kidnapping Aundrea and taking her back to Idaho with us since she’s on school break.
Danny left to return to Hong Kong yesterday morning. I missed him the second he was gone. It has been such a treat to spend 10 days with him! We’ll see him again in February.

The twins and I have been playing tourist as we wait for our flight out tonight. We left home yesterday and stayed the night in a hotel, as our villa is being prepped today for Airbnb guests to arrive and stay while we are gone.

It’s been fun exploring streets and alleyways here in Seminyak. It’s definitely a touristy part of Bali, with tons of little stores and scooters everywhere we look.

Hindu offerings have been reverently laid at every intersection and doorway as we walk through town,

and some have been artistically arranged in interesting places…

We passed this little stand, and I thought it was funny.

Aidan and Emma are so much fun to be with. It’s strange being Momma to 11 creatures and having only 2 left to hang with right now. I feel kinda naked.

But, they certainly have enough spunk, creativity and humor to make up for several people though, so in some ways it still feels like there are more of them around. Our little cabooses! I love them!!!

We will arrive in SLC tomorrow and begin our month long adventure in the US. We are so excited to see friends and family and are a little nervous for the cold. It’ll be a blast and a half.

Who’s the Alpha?

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When we returned to Bali from Phuket, the dogs greeted us with major tail wags and kisses. Stanley ‘talked’ for some time, telling us all about their adventures while we were gone. Angel was so happy as well, but let Stanley do all the talking. I realize now, that part of the reason he was quiet is because he was silently stewing about the fact that Danny was home…he recognized that he had competition for the Alpha Dog spot, and wasn’t very happy about it.Usually when we get home, I unpack completely, put everything away and get a load of laundry going before I sit down to relax. Danny, on the other hand, opens is suitcase in the middle of the floor and as each day goes by it looks more and more like a textile factory exploded in our room. Angel saw Danny’s open suitcase as an opportunity and lifted his leg to the open suitcase, then scrambled outside to continue marking his territory. The new rule: no dogs in the house. Angel couldn’t care less but Stanley is fighting it and thinks it’s unfair.

It rained so much the first few days that we were home. The parking area of our yard right outside the main gates, were completely flooded.

Outside our villa the street flooded and the canal overflowed. The local kids broke out a surfboard and played in it all day.

When Danny and I had to leave to run some errands, we had a blast riding through the flooded streets.

We drove an hour up to Ubud to visit with our friends, the Amat family, and loved snuggling with their sweet baby.

What a sweet little guy.

This short 10 day span we have here in Bali, before heading to the US, is action packed with errands and preparation for Christmas, continued preparation the get our villa Airbnb ready and then traveling. Since we will be gone for a month we have listed our home and have just booked our first guests. Danny and I have been so excited.

Right after I’d cleaned the living room really well, Danny had spoken sternly to Angel about his territory marking issues, and about five minutes later we walked into the living room to find that he had opened the door, brought two birds in and spread feathers EVERYWHERE! The poor birds had naked patches and sat starring and wondering what on earth had just happened. I’m not entirely sure who Alpha dog is at this point, but I think Danny must be in the lead because he’s in the house and Angel isn’t!

Being back in Bali has been wonderful. I never tire of the 100’s of shades of green, the crazy scooter rides and the smell of incense and spices in the air.

Mt Aging continues to blow steam and ash, which has made for some very quiet streets and beaches. Though it’s more peaceful, I realize it’s financially devastating for the community.
We recently received word that our tickets to the US with China Southern Airlines, were cancelled, so I’ve been on the phone each day trying to reschedule.
Life is good. I am so grateful for this Blessed time of year as I contemplate our Saviors birth.