after the first 10,000

Saturday afternoon chill poolside at a friend’s as we celebrate one of their grand babies’ first birthday.

No complaints y’all. Not one.

I brought my camera, as I almost always do because I am the Mamarazzi and any good mamarazzi knows you never know when the moment to take a snapshot might pop up. All good mamarazzis are prepared.

That’s true.

That’s some camera! Are you like a professional photographer?

No. No, I’m not. I just like to take pictures…a lot of pictures.

Hubs adds, A LOT of pictures!

You must be good with a camera like that.

Well, I take like 10,000 pictures and maybe two or three or four are really good.

Hubs adds, She IS really good.

Thank goodness my darling husband appreciates the photos I take…

and display.

everywhere under The Big Top.

Literally everywhere!

With more than thirty three years of memories  and moments captured in snapshots of course they would be everywhere.

Thank goodness my darling husband appreciates all the photographs that I must display since he is the one to help me hang the photo ledges that display so many of them. As I sat in our sitting room this morning, drinking my morning cup of coffee, I couldn’t help but feel home surrounded by years, decades of memories.

Downsize my moments captured? I don’t think so. I remember reading once about the passing of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis where she went peacefully surrounded by those she loved and her books and her photographs. I can only hope and pray for an end like that someday…hopefully a very long time from today.

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.

~ Eudora Welty


do you wanna build a pantry?

The dust is settling…actually there seems to be much less dust uptown away from the orchards, dairy farms, pumpkin fields and major thoroughfares here at the new Big Top. But yes, the dust is settling somewhat here; and it remains quiet uptown, save for the trains which one can hear anywhere here in Manteca. Boxes are quickly being unpacked and our home is feeling much more like our home. I can park the Dory car in the garage because my darling husband loves me and wants me to be happy which means organizing the garage so that I can park my car in the garage. It’s the little things y’all.

My darling husband walks into the house from the garage feeling very accomplished as he smiles and says:

You know, I’m really liking this quirky little house.

Yes, The Big Top is a little bit quirky being the 80s built house that she is. I thought we did a great job downsizing until we moved our downsized circus into this 600 square feet smaller Big Top. This circus of mine literally has too much stuff still! So we adjust and adapt and downsize a bit more…and we discover that yes, we are liking this quirky little home of ours as we make it our own.

Well, except for the reality that there is literally NO STORAGE in this kitchen; like no storage at all! And so, for the first time ever for us, we find ourselves exploring IKEA and finding what we believe the perfect pantry and shelves to meet our circus needs. And because the only other alternative is our pantry foods stored in boxes, we make our very first IKEA purchase.

We might be unicorns.

Friends laugh and tease us with the horror of putting together anything purhased from IKEA. My darling husband is not phased recalling all the disposable and not so disposable furniture and Barbie dream houses he has assembled for this circus over the last three decades. This will not be hard, he laughs.


Three giant boxes full of all kinds of IKEA fun. This might take awhile.

There might have been moments of self doubt and what the fresh hell is this piece and why??? But I press on with my handy little IKEA tool thingy along with a Phillips screwdriver and a level and my youngest daughter, my son and my darling husband.

There was quite a bit of sweat…no tears…no cursing, which might be a miracle…voices were raised once or twice or a few times more.  But eight hours later…


Yeah, we are feeling pretty accomplished right now because IKEA assembling badge achieved.


And yes, we are really liking this quirky little house that is our Big Top.

Want to know the key to a long-lasting relationship? Don’t go with your loved one to Ikea. One psychologist says the stress of a visit to the popular furniture store can cause serious friction between couples, whether it’s disputes over what to buy or spats while you assemble the items that you bought there.

Juan Williams

focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting & achievement displayed

I took a break from unpacking and organizing  to meet with the family at Daniel’s Tae Kwon Do studio the other night…the promise of Mongolian Barbecue after made it all the more enticing. Watching Daniel work his way around the room sparring with his fellow classmates his age, older, younger, bigger, smaller, boys, girls, I was struck with how far he has come from this:

So much taller. So much more hair growing in its own unruly way. So focused. So strong. So quick. So disciplined. So full of heart. I wanted to grab a quick picture or a video. I even reached for my iPhone. Then I stopped and I watched instead. In the moment. In this moment of Dan…so amazing! It truly is miraculous sometimes watching him. He might not be the greatest fighter. He hates hand to hand sparring. Yet here was, doing it and so focused he was not even aware of his sisters and mom watching…and maybe talking too much in the quiet zone where we were seated. For him, Tae Kwon Do is not about all the fights won or lost or the punches or kicks. Tae Kwon Do is about the self-discipline, about ethics and manners and benevolence and fairness that is seen in his study and practice…and now hanging in his room.

Seven years of practice and study all there symbolizing so much strength, so much heart, so much perseverance, so much Daniel.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

Saint Basil


the adventure of moving

Walking through The Big Top this afternoon, passing the boxes in the sitting room and the kitchen that have yet to be unpacked, Hazel declared that it looks like we are all done with moving…and in her nearly eight year old wisdom and mercy, she pronounced it all to be good. It was then that I pointed out that regardless of all of the unpacked boxes and the big to-do list on the refrigerator and the pantry from IKEA that still needs to be delivered (and assembled), Papa STILL needs to get the garage organized because Mima needs to park her Dory car in the garage. So no, we are not all done moving.

Oh. …You’re right, Mima. You’re not done yet.

Such is the almost never-ending adventure that is moving and setting up the new Big Top. There is always something that needs to be done, to be hung, to be put away, to be fixed, to be tossed, to be ordered, to be installed. At least I have begun pounding holes in the walls a lot sooner than last time. Perhaps because this feels more like a place to stay, a place to live and place that doesn’t remind me of the dream that we lost in a short sale. 

It felt that way when we first saw this place and walked through it and tried to imagine all of our stuff most of our stuff in it…even the laundry room, because I do still live for laundry.

Hmmm…looks like there is no gas hook-up for our dryer, honey. That is going to be a problem…

Our dryer is electric.

I’m pretty sure it’s a gas dryer…

No. I installed it. I should know. We have an electric dryer.

Okay:::moving on to the next room and imagining, planning:::

Then, moving day, the end of the day as the last load is being loaded off of the truck and brought into the new Big Top:

So honey, guess what?


About the dryer…

What about the dryer?

Well, our dryer is a gas dryer.

Like I told you that it was.


That’s a problem.


It’s a good thing I budgeted a little extra for this move. :::mentally erasing the plans I had for that little extra:::


And that, boys and girls, is how I had a new dryer delivered today. No, not cherry red, like it’s older partner. Shinier, newer, very white but promises to work just as hard and as efficient and green. And today I find myself to be super excited about doing laundry because it has been two weeks since I was last able to do laundry. Two weeks makes for a lot of laundry here under the new Big Top.

I don’t mind.

I was right…

as I often am.

And I have a shiny new electric dryer.

On to the next adventure that is making this new Big Top home.

We shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us.

Winston Churchill

it’s quiet uptown

Uptown, it’s quiet. It really is,

Well…except for the evening s’mores fueled entertainment and shenanigans…it’s quiet uptown.

Inside the new Big Top it is messy and crowded because in spite of aggressive downsizing, we haven’t downsized enough…and because there are boxes EVERYWHERE…and disorder…and mess…and I can’t park my car in the garage; which anyone who really knows me knows that this is a problem…a big problem.

But all will be fine here under the new Big Top…eventually.

For now, in between the unpacking and organizing and downsizing and making room in the garage for the Dory-car, and all the other stuff that must be done, we are going to enjoy the quiet uptown.

Right here, right now, I’m thinking the best decision ever in moving The Big Top was to have this sweet oasis set up…to escape the chaos and endless to-do list inside The Big Top…to enjoy the quiet here uptown…here…home.