Saturday, September 12, 2015

Chatsworth House.

Seen Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly?  This is where that was filmed, Chatsworth House.  Forget dreamy Mr. Darcy, I just want Pemberly.  What would it be like to live surrounded by all that beauty all the time?  Heaven.  IMG_2015We got to spend a magical vivid green day there with these people:  IMG_2066IMG_2064It was one of my favorite days yet.  One of those slow motion, crystally days.  IMG_2019There was this awesome fountain that spanned a long hill that the kids played in forever.  IMG_2046IMG_2048IMG_2051IMG_2056While I took pictures and grown ups talked.  IMG_2060IMG_2068IMG_2069IMG_2075IMG_2091IMG_2099We walked round the massive gardens and through a hedge maze. IMG_2102IMG_2107The light and the flowers and these angel faces were impossible not to snap away at all day long with my camera. IMG_2118IMG_2127IMG_2137IMG_2138IMG_2142IMG_2151IMG_2153IMG_2155aren’t these grounds spectacular?IMG_2158IMG_2161IMG_2162IMG_2165

IMG_2171Perfect place for jumping shots, no?  I know these jumping shots are getting pretty old, but it’s sometimes the only way I can get my kids to pose for pictures!IMG_2172IMG_2169(here’s what we look like before the jumping shots Smile ^^^ still some reluctance going on)IMG_2178IMG_2180IMG_2186IMG_2190IMG_2196It was so fun having my niece Elle with us that day.  She knows how to drink a place in. IMG_2204And oh how I love these people.  Every one of them.  IMG_2213IMG_2223IMG_2229IMG_2237

It was one of those lay-in-your-bed-overcome-with-gratitude days.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015


IMG_5515 A brief interruption in my very slow posting of our summer adventures to acknowledge that my Hazel turned 11 today.   ELEVEN years old. 

I knew the minute I looked into those pool blue baby eyes that crammed inside that tiny body was a deep and wise and old soul.  A huge soul, ready to break loose into the world and tilt it on its axis.  IMG_4278

Today Hazel was the DJ in the car on the way to school.  She chose “Fight Song” (isn’t that the greatest song?) and I started telling her about how I got to swim in the ocean while listening to that song this summer.  I only had to say a few words about that experience of fighting the waves with that music blaring in my ears and she flashed me a look of total understanding.  An “I get how cool that was for you mom” look.  A look that suddenly, in a flash, reminded me that she is of my blood, my flesh and bone.  That, despite all the kerfuffles we have had during these eleven years, despite the yelling matches, the misunderstandings, the mom in training mistakes, she and I are born of the same stuff and sealed together.  Our souls are intertwined in a beautiful mess of mistakes and forgiveness, of trial and error and victory that is the very essence of life and growth and joy.   I think she saw the tears all welled up in my eyes when I dropped her off and squoze her hand.  And I think she knew, without words, what that little interaction uncovered for us. We get each other, our hearts are synched, and beneath the rough patches on this unchartered road there is a solid foundation of love and synchronicity and atonement that will make our any ashes beautiful.

I drove away more grateful than ever that she was sent to me.  That I get to live on this earth and experience that kind of bond. That kind of tugging that carves you out and gives you more capacity to feel.  IMG_4157

Eleven things I love about my Hazel:

1. She grasps life’s experiences and feels them fully.  Nothing inside Hazel’s feeling brain is muted or black and white.  It’s all in high contrast, screaming color.  She is always the first one in the ocean, loves to walk in pouring rain, to feel the earth beneath her bare feet.  She coined the phrase “I FEEL ALIVE!” in our family and patented pose. IMG_43222. Hazel is always up for an adventure and is still always reminding me that “It’s all part of the adventure.”  I am forever grateful that she is willing to help me make adventures happen in our family.  She’s my little partner in crime. IMG_41803. Hazel gets beauty.  She sees beauty in all kinds of unlikely places and is always pointing it out.  Every single time I cut the end off a stalk of celery she grabs the stub and admires the stunning design.  She is always creating beautiful things in unique ways. She has an eye for style and design, her own style and design.  She isn’t swayed too much by trends, she sets them. 

4. Hazel is wicked smart.  I think probably too smart for her britches.  She is dangerously good at debating her point and convincing us to think about things differently.  I can talk to Hazel about nearly anything and she’s right there with me.

5. Hazel knows what she needs and fights for it.  Of course, this is hard sometimes as a parent, but I’m realizing that she’s usually spot on. 

6. I can totally trust Hazel. She will always tell me the truth.  And if she does mess up, she always tells me.  This is like gold.

7. Hazel is the best big sister anyone could ever ask for.  She is constantly playing imaginative games with Peter and Emmeline, getting everyone organized into super creative activities, making sure that our kids get visits from the tooth fairy and all kinds of other fairies and imaginary friends.  She has read half of the Roald Dahl box set to Em and Peter.  They are so lucky to have her.  There's a reason she came first.

8. Hazel is amazing with little kids.  Somehow magically her naturally impatient personality turns utterly patient with children younger than her.  They all gravitate towards her.  She makes everything fun.

9. Hazel is the most generous person you might ever meet.  She rarely has any money in the bank of mom cause she’s always giving it away or buying things for people.

10. Hazel is funny.  And she knows how to laugh at herself.

11. Hazel is connected.  She feels a strong connection to her Heavenly Father and to the Savior.  She has a deeply spiritual soul.  IMG_4182

I love you dear Hazel.  Thanks for being my soul sister.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Up North.

IMG_3619When we lived in England back in 2012 we tried over and over to plan a trip up north with the Schwartz's.  Rob lived up in Cheshire when he was a teenager and Ames had told me so much about the beauty and magic of that place.  But it never happened.  So, Ames and Rob made it happen for us. And it was every bit as magical as they had professed.  IMG_1843

It took us the better part of a day to get up there, but that was mostly due to unlucky traffic and potty/snack breaks.  The first thing we did after arriving and meeting Amy’s good friends who so graciously let us stay with them was to go to Teggs Nose to take a country walk.  It was FREEZING, uncommonly so for June.  While my bones were screaming with cold my eyes were feasting on all that lush green, the vistas, the craggy hills, the wildflower paths, the rock walls.  It was all pretty magical.   IMG_3638My stellar niece Elle was spending the summer in London for her pre-senior year summer internship so we kidnapped her to come up north with us.  My kids were so delighted to spend some quality time with her and I was too.  It’s so fun to have a little more one on one time with her since I usually only see her when she is one of the 27 grandkids.  She pretty much rocks.  IMG_1849I loved watching these kids scamper through this countryside.  Makes me wish they could interact with the natural world like this all the time.  The world wakes us up.  Especially children.  IMG_1852IMG_1854IMG_1860Em’s relationship with Lambie hasn’t really changed in the past 3 years, but they both look a little older and more worn.  (see here for more Lambie adventures in the countryside)[IMG_78423.jpg]IMG_1862IMG_1874Here’s the best group shot we could manage.  Calling all those kids down from their wanderings was an impossible task.  I loved this family that we got to know (and stay with).  They were so gracious and funny and good and took us to see incredible things. IMG_1881IMG_1884I’m gonna let these pictures mostly tell this story.  My words can’t do it justice.  I guess the pictures can’t really either.  I wish you could smell and hear and feel the thrill of an experience more than you can through pictures.  IMG_1886IMG_1889IMG_1895IMG_1900Exploring and climbing on old machinery was another, different thrill for those kids.  IMG_1902IMG_1904IMG_1906Peter always with a stick.  Usually the stick is a sword.  And he’s slaying dragons.  IMG_1908IMG_1914I love these shots of these two friends.  IMG_1916IMG_1930IMG_1931IMG_1936IMG_1945IMG_1951IMG_1952IMG_1954One of my favorite things about this trail was the little library someone had built there, perched on top of the hill, surrounding the countryside.  What a beautiful thing. IMG_3649IMG_1957This kid was cracking me up with his modeling poses.  IMG_1960IMG_1964IMG_1968These girls?  Stunning.  IMG_1970IMG_1975IMG_1977IMG_1984I love this Peter boy.  And I hope one day he’ll marry this Elsa girl.IMG_1990IMG_2003IMG_3669IMG_3677Picking wildflowers, making daisy chains.  This are the crystal moments of childhood.  IMG_3678IMG_3691



Oh England.  I love you.  Your crags and moors and flowers and your green.  Everything in you makes me feel green and lush and alive. 


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