The Lion of Palms: That Time We Made a Life-Sized Lion out of Sand

It was hot at the beach that week. Hot and windy. And we were enjoying every moment of it—lugging a wagonload of stuff to the perfect spot we’d staked out early in the morning, digging holes that we hoped would hold the heavy umbrellas in place for some respite from the heat, and slathering on gobs of sandy sunscreen over our burns from the previous days. It was just like any other summer…


The Otts Take Boston: A Family Adventure in Beantown

This summer we decided to get going on our list of places our family wants to vacation before the kids are grown and gone. Because we have a puppy this year, we knew we couldn’t tackle any of the bigger, longer trips on the list, which left some of the cities that felt manageable in 5 days. Because neither of us had ever been, and it was starting to feel stupid that it was so easy to get to and…


Inspired to Travel: How Babies Ruin All the Fun

Our kids had an extra long summer this year because of construction at their school. The summer previous had been a disaster of togetherness—we had just moved and the boxes and lack of neighborhood friends or area activities combined to make me practically shove them on the bus on the first day at their new school. “Have fun, make friends, and don’t come back for at least 7 hours!” we yelled as…


Let Me Take You on a Magical Vacation to Disney

We just spent 5 magical days in the most magical place on earth. I had last visited Disney in high school with my band. When I was there, Animal Kingdom was a brand new park, and my girlfriends and I got in massive trouble for taking 2 extra rides on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (the newest ride at Magic Kingdom at the time) instead of heading to the bus after the fireworks. (Whoops! Was it…


Do You Sense Me?: On going to Italy, and coming home.

I am sitting on the hardwood floor in my daughter’s room and we are doing one of the things I am least likely to say “yes” to most of the time: playing pretend. We are holding 3-inch high figures of animals in wild colors that wear hats. I am the cat, running the restaurant and she is bringing various customers in. It takes me a while to realize that she is recreating the same story we played the…


My Quest for My New Best Friend

A testimonial as read at the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn's Women's Day Apart, on Friendship. Last Sunday afternoon I found myself staring out the window of a very slow moving car full of 4 other women, racing slowly, so slowly toward the Denver International Airport for flights home that at least one of us was certainly going to miss. We had left with plenty of time to get to the…


Yosemite: A Complete Ottventure

“Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” ― John Muir “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ― John Muir On our last vacation away from the kids we decided to check out the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had ever visited a National Park, so we weren't sure what to expect. My…


Cottage Times: A Family Adventure at the Lake

We went to Wally's family cottage this weekend. Wally's Grandma Ott owns a cute little house in Sawyer, Michigan, just past the Michigan/Indiana border on Lake Michigan. The neighborhood is built in the middle of a gorgeous forest full of steep hills, creeks, and tall trees. The streets wind on and on.


There they go, getting older: The annual Big Chair Picture

This week, I compiled our annual "chair" pictures from Silver Lake. Every year, we go to Wally's crazy family reunion (that they don't call a reunion) in Silver Lake, Michigan. We hang on hard to family traditions there (or at least I do—even though I've only been going for less than a decade, I feel we have to mind our traditions, pushing the rest of the people who have been going for 50 plus…


Silver Lake: A Loony Tradition

We just returned from our annual getaway to Silver Lake, Michigan, a tradition set up by the "Loonies," Wally IV's mom's side of our family. I don't know the roots of the name Loony, but anyone who spends time with them can take a guess—after all, what family spends an entire week together every year for generations and does not call it a family reunion? Once a year, the first week of August,…