Dance Like No One is Watching

Remember what it was like to be three years old and to dream of being a ballerina? Okay, if you are a guy, you probably don’t remember that… and if you do, it’s okay. When I was a little girl, I loved to dress up in tutus and sequins and dance and sing… I still love to do those things, only it is not socially acceptable for a woman of my age to do so.

Which is why I has so much fun watching Harper a couple months back. You first met Harper when I blogged about her and her family here. I took almost a thousand photos that day (and I am not exaggerating!) and have had so much fun going through all of them. Some of my absolute favorites were taken during an impromptu one woman show, performed beautifully on the large granite rock in our backyard (who knew it doubles as a stage?).

It started off very innocently… I took a few pictures of the pensive Harper sitting on the rock, not knowing the spectacular performance she was about to begin.

The Prolouge


First, we must thank the costume designer for assembling such a dramatic ensemble. The zebra-print tank with pink giraffe ruffles, combined with the blue tutu screams STARLETT!!! Although Harper looked the part, she was a little shy at first:

Where shall I begin?


Not to worry, after a few warm-up moves, Harper was a-rockin’!

Here I go!





Not sure what this move is called, but I like it


I wish that my camera had video, because there was some fabulous singing involved. But since I don’t have video, here is a little montage of from the finale of Act I:

Applause, applause.... applause!


As you can see, Harper’s performance contained raw, unabashed emotion. After a brief intermission, Act II promptly began, complete with more singing… more dancing… more Harper!!! I just couldn’t get enough! I took a different seat for the second half, just to have a different perspective. 

A dramatic pause


Can I get some love from the back row?


A one, two, a one-two-three-four!


Harper’s moves were fierce! I think she has a future career on Broadway… don’t ya think?

Future Tony Award Winner


Each time I look through the one hundred-ish photos that I took during this impressive performance, I smile. And during those times when I am feeling a little down, I think about Harper’s production and it makes me happy. So thank you, little one, for being such an inspiration by just being you. And for reminding me to dance like no one is watching.

You go girl



Emergency veterinary medicine is an interesting job, mostly because you never know what may come through the door. A dog hit by car, a cat with an abscess, a goat attacked by a mountain lion (yes… this did actually come in to our clinic late one night). Today was a new one. An ambulance pulled up with two tiny passengers. The medics were posted at a nearby park when they noticed a resident cat stalking two baby ducklings. The medics observed the situation for a while and waited to see if the mama duck would return. After 45 minutes, the ducklings waddled up to the medics who then scooped up the babies and brought them to our clinic. Those poor medics must be deaf after all the high pitched screaming we did when those ducklings arrived. Can you blame us? I mean, look at these guys:

Waddling around the yard

I'll go this way, you go that way...

After a little bit of exploration, the ducklings settled down into a nice spot in which to take a nap:

This spot looks comfortable


Sweet dreams little ducklings

I called Gary and asked him to bring some duck food. He arrived with Ella and the first thing that he said is “NO!” as in hell no, we are not taking those things home! Which is fine because Marsha has already claimed them. She was more than happy to show Miss Ella the babies. Which was a good thing since I was scared, yes, scared of the ducklings. I was worried they would peck my eyes out. Anyhow, Ella was super excited to meet the ducklings:

Marsha introducing Ella to her new duckies

Happy babies

After Ella left, the ducklings spent the early afternoon snacking and napping in the comfort of their private cage. It was really nice to hear the little quack-quacks all day long.

I didn’t think the day could get any better… but it did!

Bath time!

We love water!

You lookin' at me?

Duck races


Almost deep enough to swim

Shake your tail feathers

Flapping my nubs

Okay, so are they not the cutest? I must say that these ducklings totally made my day, if not my week. I didn’t get pictures of them waddling around behind their new mommy Marsha, or curling up next to her outside on the grass. Trust me, it was completely adorable!

Marsha, I envy you for taking these little guys home. Dare I say, you are one lucky duckling!

Chloe’s Cow Art

It must be bovine appreciation week at pre-school, as today marks the second day that Chloe has brought home a cow art project. And her daddy is just beaming with pride. Monday, Chloe brought home her cow painting, which she quickly put away in the cupboard with all of her other paintings. But I thought it appropriate to hang on the refrigerator. With rumen magnets.

Cow portrait


God bless her teachers for being patient. I don’t know what they must think when they saw this cow-spider hybrid appear in their classroom. Eh, she’s three. So what if it is not anatomically correct? Her dad is a doctor for cows, so what better judge of anatomic correctness than him? If he had a spare frame handy, he would have framed it on the spot and hung it in his truck (his mobile office). I don’t think he has been more proud of his little girl than when she brought this painting home. 

Until tonight. When he came home and found Chloe’s latest art project sitting on the kitchen counter:

Chloe's cow sculpture


Her clay bovid sits upon marble feet, complete with macaroni horns perched proudly atop her misshapen head. And yes, that is a red barn and cow pasture backdrop made of cardboard. A frightening site to any innocent passerby. But not to her daddy. The moment Gary walked through the door tonight and saw the sculpture, he squealed with delight. It was the type of reaction I would expect from, well, me. Gary was so excited that he scooped up Chloe’s macabre creation and ran over to the couch where she was laying. “Chlo-belle! What did you make today?!?!?” Chloe’s reaction?



All that sculpting really pooped her out… Oh I wish I had my camera to capture the look of pure disappointment on Gary’s face that his daughter didn’t answer him. When I said “it’s a cow”, he looked at me with, dare I say, a pout and said “I wanted Chloe to tell me”.

Tomorrow I’ll be sure to have Chloe present her daddy the clay cow. I don’t know who will be more excited…

Ella’s “New” Rocking Chair

Gary’s mom gave Ella a new rocking chair. Well, it’s not really new. In fact, it is almost 100 years old. The rocking chair belonged to her aunt Doris… does that make her Ella’s great aunt? Whatever the relation, it is really cool. It is painted red, which grandma thought would go great in Ella’s room (with it’s red accents). Grandma even custom made a cushion from fabric left over from Ella’s drapes. Would you like to see Ella’s antique?

Here it is:

Ella's rocking chair


With custom cushion


Cushion close-up


Gary’s mom wanted to have the chair repainted. But I love it just the way that it is, with it’s chips and tiny imperfections that shows how loved it has been.

Back of the chair


Chair legs


Under the seat of the chair is Aunt Doris’s initials

Carved initials and a note


Grandma hand wrote a note and stuck it to the bottom of the chair so that we can always remember where it came from. And hopefully Ella will pass it down to the next generation.

Grandma's note, in her distinctive handwriting


I tried to get Miss Ella D to model in her chair. That was not easy:

The reluctant model


Ella and her rocking chair


Thank you grandma for the charming rocking chair. I’m sure, one day, Ella will love it as much as Aunt Doris did.

Oh, Yosemite

I’m a wee bit sad this evening. You see, every year that Gary and I have been together, we have made our annual pilgrimage to Yosemite. Usually sometime in the winter or early spring, when there is snow on the ground and a lack of tourists. It is our special place. It is where we were engaged, and where we would have gotten married if we wouldn’t have felt so badly about making 250 people drive there. And it has become even more special now that we have children. Chloe has been to Yosemite three times and Ella two, if you count the year that she was in-utero. But not this year. Somehow it slipped away from us…

So rather than lament about how disappointed I am that we are not upholding the McArthur Family Tradition, I am going to re-celebrate our visit from last year. Would you like to join me on my trip down memory lane?

We will start with our first night there. We usually eat in the dining room, but the thought of taking two small children there was frightening. So we ordered in and ate on the floor of our room. 

The carpet picnic


It is really funny to look at this because Ella is laying down. It is hard to believe that girl was ever not able to run around at the speed of sound. Ella was 5 months old and I needed to take her portrait for her 12 month frame at home. Here she is, looking very official:

Five Months


Oh how this photo makes my heart smile. Again, difficult to imagine her non-ambulatory.

The next day we wandered about the valley, all bundled up to keep warm. Ella in her Ralph Lauren bunting (thanks for the gift, Gracie and Rosanna), Chloe in her new fleece hat (which she hated):

Snug as a bug in a bunting


Chloe and her evil fleece hat


Here’s Chloe and her daddy. Ever wonder where she gets her personality from?

Chloe aka Gary Jr Jr


During this trip, I was getting pretty serious into photography. Gary was kind enough to watch the girls so I could go and play with my camera. I spent endless hours in the snow, trying to get some photos for a class that I was taking. Here is my favorite:

Yosemite Falls at Twilight


And as much as I love that shot of the Falls, this is still, and always will be, my favorite shot from Yosemite:

The McArthur Family


I hope to repeat this shot every year, a sort benchmark for us as a family. I don’t know if we will make it this year, but I sure hope so…


Eight years ago, I was having a bit of a tough time… I was adjusting to several new roles in life: wife, veterinarian, business partner. The stress was unbearable for my young, immature self and I was completely depressed. Gary tried, in his Gary way, to cheer me up.  He offered help in the form of jokes, which helped very little. Because I had sunken to a very low point and I needed more than his humor to lift me out. In an act of desperation, he advised that I “find the beauty in a sunrise”. If you know Gary, this is highly unusual advice. My rough and tumble mountain man is more likely to get a pedicure in a fancy salon than suggest something as fluffy as to “find the beauty in a sunrise”. Instead of making me hopeful, these words made me angry… I couldn’t believe that he was trivializing my emotional torment in such a rude and heartless way. Those words almost broke us.

Fast forward eight years. I am happy to say that I have come a long way , embracing the roles of wife and veterinarian and my new role as mommy. I can’t imagine my life in any other form than the one that it is right now. Sadly though, I am usually too caught up in the day-to-day activities of changing diapers and chasing toddlers to notice how blessed my life is. Not to say that I don’t appreciate it, but I am usually too busy to realize it. I do, however, have the occasional moments of clarity where I am struck by the awesomeness that is my beautiful and wonderful life.

Yesterday I was driving home early in the morning. I had worked a 15 hour shift at an emergency clinic, and was hurrying home so that I could see my family before heading out to my next job. I had only 5 hours of very restless sleep before my drive; to say that I was exhausted is an understatement. My mind drifted to some very odd places during that delirious, 2 hour drive. I was about 30 minutes from home, driving across rice fields when I was suddenly aware of the song that was playing on my iPod. I heard Zack de la Rocha, asking me in his angst-ridden voice “you brain dead? You got a f*@king bullet in your head?”. It was a wake up call and it hit me like a hollow point right between the eyes. I am brain dead. I am so busy trying to get from point A to point B that I don’t stop to enjoy all that is good in my life. My beautiful children, my amazing husband, my family and friends, my job, my house, my motley crew of animals at home. I have taken them all for granted.

And in that moment, I noticed the black sky of night was beginning to glow as the sun was about to rise above the mountains on the horizon. Normally, I would be too focused on getting to my destination that I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. I mean, the sun comes up every morning… I looked at the clock and realized that I had made good time on my drive. I found a driveway along the road and pulled in. I turned off my car, stepped into the chilly early morning air and found the beauty in the sunrise.