I’ve Got Thanks to Give

These past week has felt a lot like a tornado picked up me up, shook me around and then left me confused and in an unknown spot. I haven’t had much time to think of what I’m thankful for, much less check anything off of my to do list! Yesterday though, John and I had nowhere to be until 5pm, when dinner would start at my aunt’s house. I think both of us felt pretty unsettled, exhausted from our week, but also feeling like there were things that we needed to accomplish. We ended up doing a mismash of chores and sleeping on the couch, which left me with some time to think about what I was thankful for.

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In a lot of ways, I pride myself on always staying the same. I’m a steadfast person. I’m not wishy washy. In many ways, I am as I’ve always been. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I have changed. Everyone does, and it was entirely silly for me to believe that I never did too.

I usually notice this change the most when confronted by someone from my past. I realize that some of the things that they believe, say and do, I also believed, said and did at one point too and I’m shocked. They probably are shocked that I’ve changed so much too!

That’s a long way of saying that I’ve changed this year and in ways I can’t even comprehend yet. It’s been a challenging year, with some sad moments in there.

-I went through my first real breakup… and then we got back together shortly after. The breakup was devastating, but the getting back together part was a challenge too, it tested my trust and faith and ability to keep trying. I know that it was the best thing for our relationship, which is 10x’s stronger than it ever felt before. But still, it sucked. And it sucked a lot out of me. It changed me.

-This year, I faced a lot of personal challenges. Relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, even landlords, have had me questioning just about everything. They have taught me to grow a thicker skin, but they have also left me feeling lesser, and occasionally used. One of my biggest internal battles with myself is whether to trust people or not, and 9 times out of 10 I opt out of trusting someone. This year has made that challenge even greater.

-More recently, my cat Cleo ran away and then came back home after being gone for 2.5 weeks. She returned a more loving and demonstrative cat, but something about losing her for those couple weeks made me realize that I hold my little family so dear. John, his kids and my cats are what keep me anchored and warm my home.

What I’ve realized from all of this is that for the first time in my life, I’ve felt confidence. I’m confident in my relationship and we’ve reached a deeper level of patience, understanding and comfort that I never knew existed. I’m finally reached a confidence in my relationship with John’s kids, which I never thought I could feel with kids. I’m confident in my work, because I’m really, really good at what I do. I’m confident in my time, and knowing that my leading a slow life of work, yoga, reading and an early bed time is perfect, just for me. I’m confident in my love, and how much love I have to share, with the right friends. I’m more confident in my appearance than ever before. I’m even confident that I’m a good cat-mom!

Many things have changed this year, and they have been a challenge to deal with. But I’m thankful for all these changes, because they have changed me for the better.

Cleo Came Back!


I feel silly for not having mentioned this sooner, especially after my super emotional last post, but Cleo came back! She went missing on October 18th and she reappeared at our back door on November 4th. A weird coincidence (at least to me) because I first got Lucas and Cleo on the same day, 3 years before!

It was such a weird experience, having her come home. I had woken up at my normal time and started grinding my coffee beans in the kitchen in the dark. I think she must have hear the grinder (both of the cats hate that sound) because when I was pouring my coffee I hear a high pitched meow. I searched the house, thinking it was Lucas, but realized that it was coming from outside! I opened the back door and there was Cleo, meowing and frantically spinning in circles. I ran out to her and she hissed and hid under the neighbors car, but then came rushing out to me and jumped into my arms.

It’s strange, because other than being about half her previous weight, she didn’t look any different. No scratches, no missing fur… she wasn’t even dirty! We think she probably just got scared and hid, too afraid to explore or find food. It’s strange that she appeared at the back door too, because we left a million things for her to find at the front door and we’re pretty sure that the front door is how she originally got out.

I was immediately sobbing and then worried, because I thought that I might have just stolen a random cat. A quick text to John confirmed that I did have Cleo!

At first, Lucas was pretty upset. I know he missed his sister, but he also loved all the attention he got as the only cat in the house. She was scarfing down his food and taking all his attention… it took a few days for him to acclimate to having her back. Just the other day I came home to them playing, which NEVER happens! They’ve also taken to napping in our bedroom together. At opposite ends of the room… but still!

Even though Cleo looked ok, I thought it was important that I take her to the vet, and to get them both chipped, just in case something like that happened again! They did ok at the vet, Lucas was pretty freaked out though (and the vet said he was a little chubby… the nerve!) I had just taken them to the vet at the beginning of the year, so I’m sure that they were pissed that they had to go again and the both ignored me for a good long while before they forgave me. I’m also making them wear collars now, which didn’t go over well either! That visit cost me an arm and a leg though, which wasn’t fun. But I know it was worth it and I also don’t think we will be going back to the vet for a LONG TIME.


Cleo is getting closer to her normal weight and is eating a LOT, which is good :) She’s also a lot more demonstrative and cuddly, which she wasn’t before (especially with John) she got out. She also made it home before Gabriel’s birthday party last weekend, which was wonderful. He loves her and she loves him… it’s so cute to see. Her naughtiness hasn’t completely gone away, but I think she’s more loving than before, and really grateful to be home. I won’t be able to handle it if she runs away again, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she learned her lesson!

Thank you to everyone who shared positive stories, advice and kind words with me. Each one was so comforting and meant so much to me and John.

Olympic Peninsula- North


After spending the night in our awesome hotel in Forks, our next stop was Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point of the contiguous United States. The rain we had expected finally started, and as we were driving, we realized something was wrong. What seemed like only 20 miles away was expected to take us 50 minutes, because the roads were THAT curvy. I get really car sick, so I was trying to hold it together, but the rain beating down on the hairpin turns was making me really nauseous and super cranky. Finally we reached Neah Bay, a reservation town known for having surfable waves. Google Maps started to have us drive in circles and finally John and I just said “We give up!”

We turned around and on our way out of the town, we stopped at a gas station to try and find a bathroom and food. Though it may sound really snobby of me, that gas station made me genuinely feel scared. It was cold, windy and grey outside and I passed probably 20 people at the gas station. A lot of them had missing teeth, huge scars on their skin and many of them were looking at me with a dead stare. It grabbed John and we got out of there, the place gave me the heebie jeebies! I’m a pretty stubborn person, but that experience was more than enough for me. Even though I feel bummed that we missed something on our list, we knew our limits… and we had reached them!

We spent the next few hours driving some more. (There is a LOT of land to cover between outings in the Olympic Peninsula!) Even though we never reached Cape Flattery, our trip out there took us double the time we expected and we were behind schedule. Though we didn’t stop, our drive through Port Angeles downtown was really pretty and we discussed possibly going back at another time. As far as towns go, that was most definitely the largest town in the Peninsula, but also the most commercial. Something I loved about reading the guide books was that they reiterated several times that in almost every town in the Peninsula, you weren’t going to find a Starbucks, and there aren’t chain stores. Even the gas stations were family-owned! There was something very cool about that to me.

Finally, we arrived in Port Townsend with beautiful fall weather surrounding us. As a whole, we really loved Port Townsend and it reminded me a lot of the best parts of Maine. We had lunch at a cheesy 50’s diner and took our time walking through the stores in the downtown, waterfront district and lovingly gazed up at the beautiful old buildings. Pioneer Square in Seattle comes closest to the preserved buildings, but I’ve never seen such old buildings so beautifully displayed before.


After exploring Port Townsend’s downtown, we headed to Fort Worden, which came very highly recommended by a close friend. It took us a while to drive around and find the old, abandoned military bunkers in the park, but once was did it was fun to explore, take pictures and maybe pretend we lived in a post-apocalyptic world for a little bit. One of the bunkers was actually open, and we were able to walk down into a deep, dark series of halls. It creeped me out way too much, but John loved it and found lots of cool, abandoned stuff down there. I stayed outside and hung out with the deer, who were definitely not afraid of humans! IMG_5579 IMG_5512 IMG_20151017_151333518_HDR IMG_5513 IMG_20151017_151529752 IMG_5514 IMG_20151017_151648515_HDR IMG_20151017_151700635 IMG_5515 IMG_5517  IMG_20151017_152714713 IMG_20151017_152728681 IMG_5518 IMG_5519Finally, after our long day exploring, we headed home and took the Bainbridge Ferry. It was John’s second time on a ferry and his first time on Bainbridge Island, so that was a mini adventure in itself!

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Olympic Peninsula- Pacific Coast

After living in Washington for a few years, I’ve been itching to see more of the state. We drive to Eastern Washington every other weekend to get the kids, but other than the Tulip Festival and Whidbey Island, there hasn’t been much that I’ve explored. John and I knew that the Olympic Peninsula is somewhere we had to go, because he loves rainy, dark weather and I love lush forests. We both had never been to a rainforest before and our inner geology nerds took over.

Our goal was to take a look around the “thumb” of Washington, so we drove from Olympia to Aberdeen and then up to Forks. Driving through Aberdeen was a pleasant surprise, because all we knew was that Kurt Cobain grew up there. It was actually a pretty cute town that had just seen some better days.

The drive up to the Hoh Rainforest was… pretty boring. We kept expecting for a forest to envelope the road and to see huge trees on either site of us, but mostly it just felt like were were driving through anywhere. We couldn’t spot the Olympic mountains and most of the drive took place farther from the coast than expected.

When we were officially in rainforest territory, we finally were driving parallel to the coast and in a spontaneous moment that is rare for both John and I, we pulled over, hopped out and climbed down to the beach. The most famous beaches in that part of the coast are numbered, and we think we were at Beach 2. It was exactly as I imagined, grey as far as the eye could see, foggy and chilly. John ran into the waves and played around with the drift wood like a little kid. We both felt pretty happy to have finally seen the Pacific Ocean in Washington! IMG_5594IMG_5463IMG_5466IMG_5624

Once we wiped ourselves out, we ambled back to the car and drove almost immediately into the Hoh Rainforest. The guide book recommended a burger place at the “entrance” of the rainforest, but 5 miles feels like a long time on those twisty interior roads! The Hard Rain Cafe was a funny little place, with one person running a kitchen and small gift shop. The burgers WERE good, and while John and I appreciated the eclectic decor and outdoor picnic tables, we saw one family go in, turn up their noses and loudly proclaim that they would try to find something better in Forks. For us, it was the perfect place to recoup before our hike.


It was another slow 15 miles or so until we reached the Visitor Center and we still weren’t super happy with how the rainforest looked. First, we were expecting rain and it was frustratingly sunny and warm, which only happens like THIRTY days out of the year. Second, the trees looked almost exactly like the Cascades, which I’d hiked through a million times before. John kept repeating that the Olympics are geologically different from the Cascades because the Cascades are composed of volcanic matter and the Olympics aren’t… but you really could’ve fooled us. I think we just had such a vivid idea of what the forest would look like, they were ultimately disappointed. We kept our hikes simple and took the two most popular hikes off of the Visitor Center, the Hall of Moses and the Spruce Trail. The Hall of Moses trip was less than a mile, and yes, mossy, but no more so than any hike I’ve taken through the Cascades. The most impressive part for me (and the most Lord of the Rings-ish) was the moss floating in the water and the cute mushroom at the entrance.

IMG_5468IMG_5469IMG_5470IMG_5627I think I enjoyed the Spruce trail more than the Hall of Mosses because I had zero expectations. There were a few really big fallen trees that we took pictures with and the overall terrain was very Jurassic Parks-ish with lots of ferns and a chance to walk along the water. IMG_5619IMG_5648IMG_20151016_161426727IMG_5659IMG_5479 After our hikes, we headed to our hotel in Forks. Vampire references aside, Forks is TINY,  but 3,000 people make it one of the most populated towns in that area. Our hotel, the Olympic Suites Inn, really impressed us! When I made the reservation, I was surprised to hear that the fee would be $65 a night and assumed that the experience would be more “motel” than “hotel”. When we arrived, we realized our hotel was really just a woodsy apartment complex that had been made over, possibly for all the vampire traffic coming through. The unit had a full kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom, and was larger than most apartments in Seattle! The decor was definitely “hotel” looking, but it was clean and warm and we were incredibly happy with our stay. The funniest part was when we checked in, the girl gave her little speech about the rules of the hotel and ended with “And please, do not clean your fish.” I was occupied with the paperwork, but John said, “Um, what?!” and the woman explained that fishermen come through and occasionally get drunk and start cleaning their catch of the day in the hotel bathtub. John and I looked at each other in a “we’re not in Seattle anymore” kind of way.

After a while of relaxing in the hotel room, we decided to venture out for one more experience for the day, dinner. Forks didn’t have a whole lot to offer, so I proposed driving out to La Push for dinner at a spot that came highly recommended in the books. (Yes, I did a lot of research for this trip!) After a short 20 minute drive to the coast, we were greatly rewarded for our dinner choice. The sun was going down and the fog was coming in, but when we arrived at the River’s Edge Restaurant we saw the most beautiful sight that we’d seen all day. Just outside the restaurant window was a monstrous couple islands surrounded by steep cliffs. If that wasn’t sweet enough, our dinner was amazing. I ordered the Prime Rib special with a mumble of “treat yo self” under my breath and when it arrived I was basically the happiest person alive. John kept looking at me like I was going to keel over, but I did ok! I saved about 10 bites and ate them for breakfast the next day. IMG_5488IMG_20151016_183327707_HDR

I’ll add more in my next post!

Hi Kittens


Last week, one of my cats ran away.

To most people, this isn’t an Earth shattering thing. Cats run away every day. Pets are just pets. Pets can be replaced. To me, though, this is pretty Earth-shattering. For me, my pets are my best friends. I’m a pretty solitary person, but every day I knew that two little furry faces were waiting for me at home. They rubbed circles around my legs and meowed (or tried to) in happiness when I came through the door. I always felt loved, appreciated, needed by these two little dragons, every single day. There’s something so cool about that.

Cleo ran away on the the 18th of October. John and I had spent the night before in a hotel in the Olympic Peninsula and on our short weekend trip I showed John the background of my phone (the picture above) and said to him, “Every time I open open my screen, my heart melts a little.” John laughed and said, “My heart doesn’t even melt when I look at pictures of my KIDS!” We got home late Saturday night and the cats were fine. They didn’t even seem to notice that we were gone. On Sunday, we had planned to have some people from Craigslist come by to pick up our old bookcases. When they came to pick up the bookcases, I was in our bedroom napping and John came to check on me. The front door was open as they were moving the bookshelves and we think that was what spooked her. We haven’t seen her since. She’s not an outdoor cat and never even wore a collar. She was afraid of going outside. It just doesn’t make sense.

It’s been a week and a half and it’s genuinely been a really rough time for me, even though I don’t want to admit it. We’ve combed the neighborhood, sure we would find her under a nearby porch or bush. We’ve left everything we can think of the front porch, in hopes that she’ll smell her way home. We’ve checked shelters, we’ve posted flyers, we’ve posted online… we’ve done everything we can think of.

When I’m stressed, this fun thing happens where I break out in itchy hives. For the past week and half, my legs have been covered with a horrible case of hives, which only get worse the more I stress out. I haven’t cried (all that) much, and I’ve tried to remain as positive as I can, but my body is wearing my grief and is a constant reminder that everything isn’t ok.

Everyone I tell has some great story about how their animal ran away too, but they came home after a day, a week, a month, a year. I’m starting to wonder if Cleo will be coming home. I want to stay hopeful, but raccoons keep eating the food outside and the litter box got soaked in the rain. Every time I see a bushy grey tail streak by, my hopes soar… only to realize that it’s a squirrel. I keep having dreams that she’s going to run towards me, running like the clumsy cat she is, meowing in her so soft that it almost sounds silent way. I wake up crying.

And poor Lucas. He’s glued to my side when I’m home and walks around the house crying. Every time he’s by a window, he jumps up to look out it, looking for his sis. The sis that he chased around mercilessly every day, but that came with him from the hoarder house and who has matching hobbit paws.

Cleo wasn’t a perfect cat. She peed on furniture when she was mad and she clawed at my beautiful couch until the sides were shredded. She cuddled until she didn’t want to anymore and she let you know with a bite or a scratch. She is a bratty, cranky, tough kitty who showed love in the most surprising ways and begrudgingly gave the sweetest cuddles. In a lot of ways, she was the cat that was most like me. While Lucas loves and accepts everyone who comes in the door, Cleo was guarded and only showed kindness to people she really cared about. She loved me, she loved John most of the time, she tolerated her brother and she loved John’s son, Gabriel. We miss her so much and we want her to come home.