Month: November 2015

Flying monkeys

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There’s not a whole lot to do here at Shelter Bay. This morning was beautiful and sunny, so we took advantage of it, and spent time on projects and outside activities.

I unscrewed the blinds in our berth, and took them outside to scrub. A little Joy soap in water did splendidly, and they are once again clean and white. I set them out to dry for a bit and have now screwed them back in. I also decided it was a good day to attack Jude and Emma’s toilet. It has a leak, so they haven’t been using it. I undid the bolts around the base and removed the hoses attached. Right where one of the hoses attaches, under the bracket holding it tight, I noticed the it was cracked. I could see from the color of it that water had been leaking from it, so I got the hand saw and cut off the end. I hoped this was going to fix the leak, and put everything back together, but didn’t have the strength to attach the hose I’d cut, so I asked Danny for help. He attached the hose, ran the toilet and saw that it was still leaking from around the macerator, so he put a silicon gasket onto it and is letting it dry for 24 hours. Hopefully that’ll do it.

The creatures did their school work and then all went swimming. This marina has a great pool and hot tub.


While they were doing that, I grabbed my camera and went for a walk into the jungle. The pampas grass was so beautiful. It always reminds me of when Jan and I would break off one of the tall stems and pretend they were swords.

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The smells and colors of the rain forest were intense due to the rain. I could smell the rich scent of flowers and decomposing leaves.

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I sat and watched leaf cutter ants as they carried their large loads across the road.


I came across a large family of Capuchin monkeys, making their way across the canopy. They jumped one by one from trees on the right side of the road to those on the left, and after jumping they’d stop and look back to make sure the next one was coming, then move on. In the Wizard of Oz movie there are flying monkeys, and I always thought them to be a fictitious species , but today I was proved wrong. I saw flying monkeys and captured in my lens to prove it…

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Everywhere I looked I saw beauty – in textures and patterns and color.

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As I exited the area, I looked back and took note once more of how miraculous nature is. We live in such an incredibly beautiful world, and I found myself softly humming the song ‘What a wonderful world’.

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Back at Tanda Malaika, we received an exciting delivery this afternoon. Our new dinghy. It’s still all wrapped up, but hopefully tomorrow it’ll be sunny for a bit and we’ll open it up.

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We are still waiting for the water maker and batteries, then we can set sail once again.



Nature Walk

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It rained through the night and into the morning, and when it finally stopped we all went for a walk to see what we could find. Since Shelter Bay was once called Fort Sherman, and was a military base, there are some interesting structures to see. Some of them have once again been occupied.

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The jungle here is filled with extremely tall palms, pampas grass, mango trees and so many other varieties. More than two thirds of the worlds plant species are found in tropical rain forests.

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High up in the tress we saw beautiful toucans. There are about forty different species, and we saw two of those species.

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There is no difference in color between male and female toucans, but the females generally have a shorter bill. The bill appears to be rather heavy, but it is filled with a spongy tissue, making it extremely light in weight. I have always been fascinated by toucans, and was so excited to see them.

We also saw various mammals crossing our path and up in the trees. This little guy is driving me crazy because I still haven’t figured out what he is. I researched for an hour after returning home but came up empty handed.


My guess was that he was some variety of coati, but I’m not certain.

Due to the constant humidity and rain, tree trunks are covered in beautiful lichen and moss, and vines hang like tangled hair. Tiny baby mangoes sit proudly on the end of stems as they absorb ample moisture and nutrients.

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At one point we passed a large, what appeared be, hive of some sort. I wondered if it could be wasp or bee, then Danny suggested perhaps ants, and he was right! Notice how hundreds of then climb the branches to reach home.

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In case you couldn’t tell, I LOVE the rain forest, and all that is in it! I love learning about animals and plants just as much as I love learning marine biology.

Just as we reached Tanda Malaika, it began drizzling once more, and the dog across the dock from us wagged it’s tail at our return. What a wonderful way to start the day.

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Cruising to Shelter Bay

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Yesterday morning was a drizzly one at Red Frog Marina.

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We checked out at the office and took Tanda Malaika over to the fuel dock and filed her up, as well as 10 jerry cans of spare diesel and 3 of gas for the dinghy. We also have two spare cans of water stowed.


We then sailed over to Bocas for a few provisions. The creatures, Danny and I picked up coolant, grease and some groceries, then headed South East and set the sails. The ocean was gorgeous with 8-10ft rolling seas. The creatures sat on the bow and were splashed as they dipped down to the water and backup again. Aidan stood on deck and jumped up as the boat began to rise from a dip, which sent him flying high.

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We all got settled into our little routines and comfy places for our 18 hour sail.

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As evening fell we arranged our night watches. Skyler, Emma and I would take the 9pm -midnight watch, Jude, Mycah and Aidan from midnight to 3am and Jonathan and Danny from 3am to 6am. The evening was beautiful as the sun began to set and colors changed to a richer hue. Danny had set fishing lines and at one point reeled in a nice catch of seaweed and a while later something big took the hook and snapped the entire line.

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When the sun goes down and it’s cloudy, the ocean is a dark, dark place. I took this photo off the starboard side while sitting at the helm around 10pm…


See how beautifully the water matches the sky!!!! It’s an amazing feeling, trusting your boat and your instincts and instruments as you ‘blindly’ sail, unable to see the waves to read them and anticipate dips and swells. Your body adjusts and rolls with it all, as your movements become one with the boat. It reminds me of my days in the saddle as I trotted or galloped and my hips moved fluidly with my horse. It’s a wonderful thing. Everyone on board (except me) took motion sickness pills and it made them a bit sleepy and took the edge off any nausea. I haven’t ever been sea sick but I’m sure my day will come! I’m told it’s pretty miserable. When my watch was over I washed up and snuggled down in my bed. There is no better feeling than being rocked to sleep by the ocean! I quickly fell asleep and woke at 6am.

At the helm, were Jonathan and Danny, and I told Danny to go lie down and I’d take over. Jonathan went as well, and before long, Aidan came up and sat with me. He had wanted to watch the sun rise, and came topside just in time. We were about 2 hours out from Shelter Bay at this point, and could already see huge ships lined up to go through  the Canal. The ships were lined for over a mile.

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As we drew closer, I marveled at how huge some of them were.

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A pod of dolphins came to escort us in, and Aidan and I walked to the bow and watched them bow ride for several minutes. There were probably about 8 of them.


As we rounded past the breakwaters to enter the the bay, we could see the city of Colon’s skyline. Two pilot boats were escorting a huge container ship to the canal entrance.

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As we drew closer to the marina, we could see the coast guard assisting a sailboat that had ended up on the reef. Danny had heard them calling them for help as they beached themselves on the reef, but we were too far from them to assist. Danny called in to the marina office to find out where they wanted us to dock, and I called in to the sleeping creatures, telling them all hands on deck.

We have such a great crew.


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Danny backed Tanda Malaika in to her new slip like a pro, and we all got busy spraying the salt off her and organizing. There are always valuable lessons to learn each time we sail, and this crossings lesson, was to hang the fruit hammock properly on the stern, because if not, we end up with freshly made applesauce all over the deck.


Danny and I took a nap while Jude made no bake cookies. (we call them gorilla poops). I think for dinner tonight I’ll make some pizza. The crew will love that!


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We’ll be setting sail for Shelter Bay in the morning, which is about an 18-24 hours sail from here. Located on Toro Point at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal,  directly opposite Colon, Shelter bay was formerly known as Fort Sherman. As a former US Army base, it was the primary defensive base for the Caribbean sector of the Canal, and was also the center for US jungle warfare training, and was turned over to Panama in 1999. Many abandoned buildings are scattered through the area, and the creatures and I have spent lots of time exploring and watching the monkeys that fill the trees.

To prepare for the crossing, we had a long ‘to do’ list, and everyone worked hard to accomplish all of it. We filled water tanks, stowed and cleaned, made sure the wind indicator at the top of the mast was secure, checked fluid levels in the engines, and did laundry. Tomorrow morning we will stop by the fuel dock on our way out and top off both 52 gallon diesel tanks, as well as fill the 10, 5 gallon jerry cans just in case.

We are so excited to get underway, and haven’t decided yet if we are going to anchor some place along the way, or just go straight through.

Emotionally I’ve had a pretty rough day. The aching within me for my Dad and brother has been intense, and I’ve cried on and off pretty much since I woke up. Tomorrow will be a better day.

The sunset was beautiful tonight, and through it I felt peace.


Hiking to Bastimentos

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We have decided that it is taking far too long for our goods to arrive here in Bocas, and that it’s time we prepare to sail to Shelter Bay. It is a much larger hub for shipping and we’ll be able to save ourselves a couple weeks by sailing there and picking our stuff up. We are watching the weather to see when the best time to leave is, but as of right now it looks like tomorrow or Saturday would be best.

With this in mind, the creatures and I decided that the one place we still wanted to check out, was Wizards Beach, which is the next beach to the west of Red Frog Beach. The doc told Danny to keep his nose as dry as possible for a few days, so he stayed on Tanda Malaika to work on projects here, and the creatures and I loaded water and apples into our backpacks, and set off on our adventure.

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We were stopped by a lifeguard who was very curious about the pickle…


We walked north across to the other side of our island, and then headed west down the entire length of Red Frog Beach.

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It was high tide, and not many people were out, so it was deserted and so beautiful.

While walking we came across two crocs……but they were pretty docile and didn’t bite!

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The ocean was a gorgeous turquoise.

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Down at the far end of the beach, Mycah came across a TV, plugged it in and watched an episode of her favorite show.


Beautiful vines worked their way from the jungle onto the beach, and some of them has pretty purple flowers on them.


We found the path that we assumed would take us over the hill through the dense jungle to Wizard Beach, and started down it. Under my bare feet I could feel movement periodically, and found hundreds of little hermit crabs living under the fallen leaves.

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The path meandered back and forth and at times became really muddy. We all had mud oozing between our toes like melted chocolate. At first everyone tried to avoid the muddy patches, but it became apparent that in some areas it was completely unavoidable, so I told the creatures to just embrace it and enjoy the feeling…so they did. We saw many red frogs, and a couple of them that were an orange color. Their color is directly related to their diet, and obviously these little guys hadn’t been eating their fire ants and centipedes lately.

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We finally reached the ocean on the other side, but there was no sandy beach, just more trail along the rocks and through the coconut palms.

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The farther we hiked, the more the beach opened up, and out of no where a wooden walk way showed up leading into the hillside. We of course, had to check it out.


Then there is was!!! We found a lost city. Giant stone structures from days gone by, lay in the jungle. We imagined the people that had lived there hundreds of years ago, and us amazing explorers from the land of Tanda Malaika, had discovered it once more. We just knew we were going to find stashes of gold someplace close by.

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After closely examining one of the ancient carvings, we realized that they were not so ancient, but instead were made from wire covered with hard yellow foam and then some whatchamacallit that looked just like stone over it.  Ah well, we know we will find a lost city at some point in our travels. Guaranteed!

We finally came to the big open beautiful Wizards. Aidan chased Mycah down the beach, and Skyler squealed as this little crab ran right in front of her and began burying itself in the sand and water.

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We found a shady spot and sat down to rest.. We had walked about 3 miles at this point through many ups and downs, ducking under and around tress and wading through mud, and we were all hot and sweaty. We drank down some water, then made our way into the surf. The water was so warm that it took a few minutes to cool off from hiking.

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We noticed that far down the beach there were a group of people, and we wandered which way they’d come, and if there was an easier path than the one we had just walked. After swimming for a while we each grabbed an apple and started walking toward them to ask. A woman told us that they had simply walked over the hill from Bastimentos! We thought that perhaps we would try find the path and saunter over to Bastimentos too, so we made our way up toward the jungle once more and this time came across a policeman. He couldn’t speak a word of English, but almost immediately his buddy names Salina, who was also a policeman, showed up, and between our Spanish and his English, we understood each other. He explained to us that walking to Bastimentos was very dangerous, especially on weekends, because people hide in the jungle and jump out at the non locals and rob them while threatening them with machetes. He told us he’d escort us to Bastimentos to make sure we arrived safely, just in case. We followed Salina and all along the way he taught us Spanish.


The path was so easy to walk compared to the one we had come in on. After about half an hour of walking, we began seeing signs of civilization.


We stopped at a little shack, where a man who claims to be the worlds greatest surfer, lives and works. He had cold water and fresh coconuts for sale, so we drank our fill.

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He had many surf boards up in his rafters. When Mycah was done with her coconut he cut it open so she could eat the jelly out of it. These coconuts were a lot sweeter than others we have had.

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We continued up over a hill and Bastimentos was spread out below us. Working our way through the homes, we could see that it was a very poor little town, but people were happy and children played everywhere.

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We made our way down to the water and asked for a panga to take us back to Red Frog Marina.

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We loaded into the panga, put our feet up and enjoyed the ride back to our own floating island.

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The shower felt SO good, and it took quite some time to wash the mud stains off my feet. As I walked backed to the boat, I came across Gary, an old sailor who walks with a cane. He had a handful of noni leaves, and I asked him what his plan was with them. He told me he boils them and them wraps them around his knee where his joints hurt, and it takes the pain away. He’s been doing it for several years now, and it’s the only thing that has helped.

We excitedly told Danny about our adventures, and he told us about the things he’d been working on.

We will all sleep well tonight, and dream of the adventures we have enjoyed, and of many, many more to come.

Cycling through Bocas

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Tanda Malaikas crew had an eventful day today. Neither Danny nor I slept very well last night. I couldn’t get comfortable with my shoulder and he was restless and uncomfortable with his aching nose, so when morning came we both felt like zombies. The creatures and I decided to go in to Bocas so the boat would be quiet for Danny to sleep a bit longer, so we loaded into the dinghy and motored in to a place to tie up.

Some of you may know that we have an additional family member that has traveled far and wide with us. Today we decided to take ‘him’ on our excursion with us, so Jude rigged up a carrier for ‘him’.

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The creatures have just started an instagram of the giant pickle and its travels. If you want to follow it, its name is kindofa_bigdill. Jude acquired this giant dill pickle when we lived in Hawaii, and it has been everywhere with us! It’s just part of the Govatos/Willis craziness.

We rented bicycles from Estevan, and set out to see what we could see.

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Bicycles are one of the main forms of transportation on the island, and are ridden everywhere, but our group, looked like a gang! We past the school, which was in session, and a bunch of kids were having PE out on an asphalt court, and when we past we could see they were playing soccer. Some of them ran to the fence and told us we needed to come play football with them. The creatures laughed it off, but I convinced them that we should go for it. I pulled into the school grounds and the creatures reluctantly followed, telling me I was nuts and that we were going to get into trouble. We walked through a wet grassy area along the side of the school, and were greeted with big smiles and surprised faces by the boys that invited us. They told us 5 people could play, so Skyler and I cheered everyone on from the sidelines.

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They pretty much royally kicked our butts, but the creatures had many laughs as they played. What a fun memory they’ll never forget. We wished our new friends farewell and continued on our adventure.


We pulled in at a grocery store and got some drinks, placed them in our baskets on the front of our bikes, and continued on.

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Cemetery’s have always fascinated me, so we rode in to one so I could show the creatures how, when the water table is high, people are buried above ground. Some of the graves had been broken in to, and we could see human remains inside.

We reached a beach and noticed once again how spoiled we have been with the pristine beaches on our island. The beach in Bocas seemed dirty to us, with litter scatted in various places, and lots of debris all about. It was still beautiful though.

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We continued on and found a section of beach that was in a bit better shape. The pickle agreed.

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We cycled all the way around to a place that was clear across the bay from where we were anchored.


In the far distance we could see Tanda Malaika nestled in with the rest of the sailboats.

We saw beautiful countryside.

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Along the way, I found a coconut that was begging to join us…so I obliged.

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If ever you are feeling down and like you’re the poorest person on earth, or like you are deprived, look at these pictures of homes, and count your blessings.

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There were many that were in far worse shape than these, and it reminded me of how blessed I have been in my life.

We passed a place that Emma and Skyler decided that they were going to buy together and move into. It was a treeless tree house in the middle of a field, and looked pretty cool.


Out in the middle of no where, we passed a man named Frank, who looked at the pickle on Judes back and asked what it was all about. We told him about it and he wanted a picture with it and his son, Dominique.


Later down the road, and gentleman rode past on his motorbike and yelled to Jude, “nice vegetable!” We passed a really cool wall that had just been built.


Finally we made our way back in to Bocas, where the streets and parks were busy…

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We returned the bikes to our friend and slowly made our way back through town to our home.

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How do Panamanians fix potholes in the road and holes in the sidewalk? Stuff em with coconuts of course!


We found Danny all rested back at home, and discussed what we needed to still do before returning to Red Frog Marina. He needed a few items from the hardware store, and we decided that perhaps we’d best get a doctor to take a look at his nose just in case. It was hard to tell if it was going to heal up ok, or if it had become infected.


The doctors office was closed, so we made our way to our only other option, which was the hospital.

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The doctor checked him, gave him a tetanus shot, had the nurse scrub the wound clean and put medicine on it, and gave Danny prescriptions for antibiotics. We made our way around to the Farmacia (pharmacy), and waited an hour since the lady there had run to the bank ‘really quickly.’

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Danny got a lollipop for being such a good boy.


We went back to Tanda Malaika where our Angel creatures were waiting for us, pulled up the anchor and made our way back to the marina.


This evening Danny and I used the gift certificate we’d won at the Halloween party, and went on a dinner date here at Castaways, and Jude prepared dinner for the creatures. Emma baked a delicious carrot cake. Everyone is going to sleep well tonight, after our busy day of peddling.

Anchored in Bocas

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This morning we awoke to a gentle rain which lasted until mid morning. I got busy making coleslaw for part of this evenings dinner, while Danny went out on deck to work on the windlass. Part of what he needed to do involved getting into the foreword starboard lazarette, which currently has a hinge problem. While I was busy in the galley I heard him calling from outside and I sent Jonathan to see what he needed, and the next thing I knew he was walking into the salon with his hands cupped under his bloody nose. The lazarette lid had fallen and part of it hit Danny on the side of the nose, luckily only skinning the side of his nose, but it hurt like heck and bled a lot. We stopped the bleeding and put some antibiotic ointment and pressure on it.

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Poor guy! He still looks as handsome as ever but has had a stinging nose all day. When the bleeding stopped we put a smaller bandage on it.

While Danny lay down in our berth for a bit the creatures and I started up the engines, threw up the dock lines and made our way in to Bocas. We anchored on the East side of town so that we were close the the place we had to go to mail off a package. The creatures decided to run the errands in town for us, so they loaded up into the dinghy and off they went. Mycah texted from town saying that once again, it was a holiday, and the post office was closed. They are STILL celebrating last weeks Independence Day! The creatures did some grocery shopping and returned to Tanda Malaika.


Mycah and Jude hung the new hammock and Mycah tried it out. She found it to be quite comfy.

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After eating a late lunch the creatures decided to go back in to Bocas and rent bicycles and cruise around, and Danny and I sat on the bow watching all the busy pangas and people crossing back and forth. Before long we saw a little squall coming our way and figured the creatures would most likely return sooner than later.


It was so beautiful watching it build and move across the water, bringing with it a cool breeze and some refreshing raindrops. Just as quickly as it showed up, it moved through and left. The creatures did return, deciding to bike ride tomorrow instead. We are staying anchored here by Bocas so that tomorrow we can take our chances with mailing the package again…who knows, maybe it won’t be a holiday.

We spoke to Mommy again today, and she is settling back in to life in Idaho. It is difficult emotionally for her to be back, having to face the reality of what’s transpired in our lives over the last few months. It feels like a squall of sorts has moved through our family just as quickly as the one we watched today, and with it, it took two of our precious family members. Now we live in the aftermath and have to try focus on all that is good and beautiful in our lives, rather than the aching we feel in missing Daddy and Jan. I’m finding that there is a very fine line between me being okay, and bursting into tears. Some days I feel like I’m hanging by a thread, suspended over both. I am so grateful for the eternal bonds of love we have between us, and the amazing memories which I relive over and over in my mind.