Happy, Happy

Morris Collage

This is Morris. I don’t know who he belongs to. I was walking last night when I saw him resting with his back to a planter, looking like he ruled the world, as cats often do. Normally the cats in my neighborhood skedaddle when they see a stranger coming, but not Morris. He just stared at me, so I took out my camera to take a picture of him because I thought he was one of the prettiest cats I had ever seen. I was doing that when an older woman walked up and talked for a very long time about Morris. This is how I know his name.

I thought Morris belonged to her, so when I noticed how thin he was I asked her when he had last been fed. She said he belonged to the neighbors who moved, but another neighbor told her Morris stayed behind because, “Kim said he didn’t want to go with her.”

This so-called Kim also gave away her dog, too, so I doubt very much Morris put up a paw and said, “You know, I’m good. I’ll just stay here and scavenge.” I think Morris got left behind and I told the woman as much. Since I knew she had cats (she told me all about her pets), I asked her if she could feed Morris until I came back the next day to meet with the new homeowners. If they knew nothing about Morris, I would make arrangements for his care. The new owners weren’t at home last night or I would have given them the guilt trip then.

No, she didn’t want to do that because (1) “It’s not my problem” and (2) she didn’t want to attract coyotes.

Really. You don’t say.

Then she said he cries all the time, and maybe he’s lonely. I said, maybe, but maybe he’s also really, really hungry because I know those neighbors moved two weeks ago. If the Mister and Mikey weren’t so allergic to cats I would have taken Morris home to live a life of luxury. Stupid allergies!

We agreed I would come back Friday with food and help so Morris didn’t starve. [Pointed stare.] I turned to walk home and didn’t get 10 feet before Morris came trotting after me mewling the whole time. I felt my resolve wavering. And, yes, I also felt smug because the neighbor looked shocked and a little bit jealous. She called Morris back and when she did I asked her (nicely) if she was going to feed him because otherwise it wasn’t fair to call him over and then go inside her house. Morris stood between us like a kid at a custody drop off.

She said she wasn’t going to feed him because blah blah blah coyotes and in my head I said THAT’S IT!

I gave Morris a whistle and called out his named (I’m a dog owner of over 30+ years–I have no idea what I’m doing with cats), but he came and heeled. Then he followed me the mile home. At one point I passed a group of kids playing and one boy stopped what he was doing and said, “Whoa. Lady, are you walking your cat like a dog?”

“Kind of!” I said. Then I called the Mister and asked him to go across the street and borrow cat food from the neighbor because I kind of was bringing home a cat because I had no choice. Morris was starving and he was following me and he needed us.

He was not pleased. He was the opposite of pleased. He might have said, “You are not bringing home a cat. We will never have a cat. If you want me to tick me off, bring home a cat.”

“Technically, I’m not bringing him home. He’s following me, so really it’s like Morris made the decision for us.”


“I’m not kidding!”

“I’m not either.”

“I’m telling you, he’s following me like a puppy dog. My hands are tied.”

“Uh huh. Right.”

When I got home he was still the opposite of pleased and there was no cat food because he was “busy cutting a pineapple.” No matter! I went across the street, got the food, fed and watered Morris, and showed him to the boys. Nico immediately fell in love. Mikey hid behind the door until I confirmed he would not go into anaphylactic shock, but then he fell in love. They fell in love because Morris is lovable. I called the Mister outside to “look at how skinny the poor thing is!” and he did, briefly, before giving me a look that said I brought home a cat. Then he went inside to cut more pineapple.

After the Mister finished cutting the world’s most important pineapple, he went outside to toss out the trash. I heard him talking to Morris and instead of scaring him off, he made sure he didn’t get trapped in the garage as he shut everything down for the night. When the dogs went outside and started barking at Morris, he had the boys bring them back inside. I looked at him and smiled.

He scowled and said, “We do not have an inside cat!”

This is Morris. I don’t know who he belongs to, but I’m hoping it’s us. We all know the decision is up to Morris.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


WM pink and gray Rev3

This week: whaaaaa? I’ll get there in a minute. First, let me explain the title of this post. It’ll take me one minute.

Messy Room, 1

The pictures in this post reminded me of the cover of this book. The colors are happy, and there is childhood innocence involved, but the main adult is crazy.

Those two baskets of laundry sat unemptied for 10 days. Allow me to be specific. They sat unemptied in the boys room for 4 days. They sat unemptied in the family room for 6 days. So, total, 10 days. And it was really inconvenient for a host of reasons, not the least of which that because they were so packed with clothing, Nico couldn’t neatly rifle through them for clean shorts. So every morning for band camp he would come out wearing fleece lined ski pants and flip-flops, and every morning I would tell him to put on shorts. His reply was always the same.

“But, mama! I don’t have any shorts in my drawers! This is all I have!”

And I would get up and help him find shorts but in my head I’d be like, hey! Way to throw mama under the bus, because this exchange always, always, always happened when the Mister was doing something useful and within listening distance.

I know what you’re thinking, because the Mister was thinking it, too. Why not put away the laundry? In fact, the Mister took it one step past thinking and on day 10 said, “Why not put away the laundry?”

I said it was because–and this was the truth–I knew I had to purge the boys clothes first and I didn’t want to do it. Besides, the laundry hadn’t been out that long.

“It’s been sitting in the family room for 10 days.”

“No it hasn’t. Only 6 days! It’s in the boys room now.”

“For almost a week! That’s still 10 days. You’re just procrastinating and making it a bigger job in your head than it really is.”

“Um, excuse me? I don’t want to have to throw numbers at you, but 4 out of those 10 days I had a migraine, so I couldn’t have put away the laundry even if I wanted to. Therefore, I only procrastinated 60% of the time. The other 40% doesn’t count, so it’s like I’m procrastinating half as much as you think I am.”

“There it is! There’s that law degree!”


Messy Room, 2

I did purge the clothes and put away the laundry, though I waited until the next day just so everyone was clear I wasn’t admitting guilt. It wasn’t that bad and went faster than I thought it would (no comment). I thought that would be this week’s post.

But then! Then! The Mister went out of town, as expected, and I planned to watch movies all week long. I even had him buy something for the modem for Apple TV/Netflix so they download faster zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I have no idea. I just asked him to please make it work better and he did.

Messy Room, 3

On Monday I found out a neighbor’s home was burglarized. This was not what I wanted to hear because (1) I was home alone with the boys and would be home alone for the rest of the week and (2) this was the 4th such burglary I heard of, and one of the others happened to a close friend of mine who lives less than a mile away. On Monday night I was freaking out about this on Facebook when another friend told me that an actual home robbery happened that day, again less than a mile from me, and that a few days prior someone tried to break into her house late at night. Clearly, something is up.

That something turned out to be my paranoia.

Messy Room, 5

I couldn’t watch TV because I was way too nervous. Because the burglaries/robberies were happening morning/noon/night (one neighbor was the morning, the other neighbor the afternoon, and my friend at night) I decided to download a romance novel from an atrociously predictable author (seriously, everything she writes is the same and comforting in its predictability and awfulness) and stay up all night reading it with a hammer next to me. You know, for self defense.

Go ahead and laugh, all my friends did when I told them.

Then, I started thinking (after I went a night without sleep) that if a “bad guy” were to break in, the boys would have to hide while I defended the castle. The best place for them to hide would be their cavernous closet, but it is so stuffed with toys that they would never get in there without making a racket and blowing their cover. So, naturally, the only logical thing to do this week was to clean out their closet and create a hidey-hole.

Hand to Bible, this sounded perfectly sane on Tuesday. Of course, I also put a foil wimple on my cough medicine when I was tired.

It only gets better from here.

On Tuesday night I told the Mister that me and my hammer were going to sleep on the couch. “Why?” he asked.
After I rolled my eyes (Geez, this guy is so slow!) I said, “Well, obviously because the couch is centrally located so if anyone breaks in I can hear them right away and then they have less of a chance to sneak up on me. I mean, what if someone breaks in through the kitchen but I’m in the bedroom? I might not hear them as fast as I would if I was on the couch!”

And he said, “Wow. Okay. Huh. Wow. I did not think of that.”

(Duh! That’s why I have the law degree!)

Messy Room, 6

Later, as I was changing into my pajamas, I looked at my soft and comfy bed through the eyes of someone who had not slept more than 3 hours and reconsidered the brilliance of my plan to sleep on the couch. So I downloaded yet another book from the same author and put on my usual camisole/tank dress pajama thing. Then, it hit me. A camisole/tank dress pajama thing is not something I want to wear in hand-to-hand combat with my hammer by my side. So, again relying on my infallible logic, I put on yoga pants and a tight fitting work out tank top. I needed something comfortable enough to sleep in but athletic enough for me to do roundhouse kicks, flips, and karate chops at a moment’s notice. I almost put on a sports bra, but I realized that was a little crazy. (A little crazy! Everything else? Totally sane!!)

That night I didn’t last past 2am, and when I woke up 6 hours later I felt like Rip Van Winkle waking up from a nap. Six hours of sleep after no sleep is like the first pumpkin latte after a long, hot summer. I could have conquered the world with one hand and live-tweeted it with the other.

Messy Room, 7

I may have realized the hidey-hole wasn’t critical at that point, but I was too far into the project to stop. The boys and I kept at it and finished a good portion of the closet. We were able to move in an old storage cubby and shoe rack, and sometime this weekend we hope to organize the remaining odds and ends that we stuffed in a basket.

Messy Room, 4

For now, we have two bags of clothing and a stack of toys heading off to Goodwill and my craziness has almost resolved itself. I say almost because I’m still researching German Shepherd rescue organizations.


This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.


Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

    • Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
    • Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
    • No links to giveaways, please.
    • Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.

On Netflix

I’ve watched some great movies this spring and summer, and I thought I would share my favorites. I love period dramas, and if they are based on classic literature, all the better. In other words, I heart adaptations. (I even love adaptations in book form. I read the sweetest little Pride and Prejudice adaptation a couple of months ago. Perfect for a 12 13-14 year old girl.)

Here are some of my favorites, and please share yours! My husband has a lot of travel coming up so it will be me and the TV most nights.

North & South


North & South, but the BBC miniseries staring Richard Armitage, not the 1985 miniseries with Patrick Swayze. The plot centers on Margaret Hale, who must leave the rural South and settle with her parents in an industrial town up North, where she meets the overbearing cotton mill owner, John Milton. They clash over employee/employer relations and social divides, which is underpinned by the expected Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennett love/hate googly eyes. (Favorite!) We’ve talked about this period drama miniseries before and after having seen several more since, I stand firm: most romantic ending ever.


North and South is based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, aka BBC’s muse. Anything Gaskell has ever written has been turned into a BBC miniseries. I have watched anything Gaskell has ever written that has been turned into a BBC miniseries with the exception of Cranford, which is no longer available on Netflix.

Daniel Deronda


Daniel Deronda, staring Hugh Dancy. This one is based on the novel of the same name by George Eliot. More social divides with a heaping order of religious prejudice, as several of the characters were Jewish. I didn’t find this one as interesting at first, but the religious conflict made me hold on. It’s not often you see Judaism positively discussed–or mentioned at all–in period dramas, and had they tossed in some Catholicism I might have had an aneurysm. I ended up enjoying it, but it wasn’t until the end that I truly appreciated the miniseries.


Here’s the official movie blurb:

Set in Victorian London, Gwendolen Harleth is drawn to Daniel Deronda, a selfless and intelligent gentleman of unknown parentage, but her own desperate need for financial security may destroy her chance at happiness.

Wives & Daughters


The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.

Sometimes the movie blurbs do the movie no justice, but not so in this case. This sums up Wives and Daughters nicely, although I would add that the daughter, Molly Gibson, is a science loving bit of a tomboy. I liked this one as well, but again not as much as North & South. This is another Elizabeth Gaskell book.

The Scapegoat


Set in 1952, as England prepares for the coronation, The Scapegoat tells the story of two very different men who have one thing in common – a face.

Terrible description that does the movie no favors. The Mister, knowing movies from the classic lit section are a sure bet, downloaded this one for me. It was also listed as a psychological thriller, which made me nervous because those can go ridiculous quickly. I thought it was sweet of him to think of me so I watched it and I loved it. He loved it. We loved it, and that doesn’t happen often because he likes his movies to have things exploding and men leaping from vehicles in motion.

If you read the novel by Daphne du Maurier, be warned there are significant differences in time and setting.

Arn: The Knight Templar


In a time of brave knights, powerful queens and treacherous kings, Arn, a skilled swordsman, is sent to war as a Knight Templar, while Cecilia, the love of his life, is imprisoned in a convent.

I picked this mini-series because I thought it was something my husband would like while still catering to my love of mini-series, romantic epics, and history. He was slightly nervous about the subtitles (a fair portion of the movie is in Swedish, but there are long stretches of English), but decided to give it a go because he couldn’t resist the lure of 12th century battles scenes. (I know my husband.)




My final review:

Hot. Freaking. Damn.


My husband loved this miniseries. Loved it. He recommended it to all his friends. I loved it, too, but the ending. The ending! I woke up with a stress induced migraine the next morning. If you search for this on Netflix it can get confusing. This was first a movie in 2007 with a sequel in 2008. In 2010, in was refashioned into a miniseries. From what I can tell, not too much has changed—maybe some sequencing. I only watched the miniseries, not the movie.

If you love action, history, and the idea of an honorable, loyal, hot and sweaty Swedish guy in chain mail fighting his way across Jerusalem to reach the love of his life for 20 years, this is the miniseries for you. If not, I don’t even know what to say except that I hear Robert Pattinson wants the role of Christian Grey in the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey movie.

(I haven’t read the books so I don’t know what Christian Grey is supposed to look like, but the idea of Robert Pattinson being a dominating anything brings me many LOLz.)

(And I know many of you–some of you my friends in real life–are going to defend R.P. and give me 3,000 reasons why he is just the most deliciously handsome mansicle to ever step out of the freezer case but…no. I’ve heard you before and I hear you now but I am not buying what you’re selling. Nope. Don’t see it, can’t see, won’t see it.)

Movies, Miniseries, and TV Shows I’m Considering. Recommendations Welcome!

I also love romantic comedies, which amuses my husband since I’m negative romantic in real life. Road trip moves: good. Road trip romantic comedies: even better. Road trip romantic comedies where the couple start off hating each other: SO AWESOME. Pretty much any Pride and Prejudice/Persuasion plot is going to be right up my alley.

Oh! And I would like to try Sci-Fi. I have never watched an episode of Star Trek, Battle Star Gallactica, or any of the popular series from the last 10 years–or ever, really. If you have suggestions that can ease me into the genre, I’m game! This would be a good way for me and my husband to watch something together.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.

365: Body, Mind, Spirit | Week 12








I could be generalizing, but in my experience, Hispanic family members tell you to your face what they think about your shirt, boyfriend, house, and thighs under the assumption you have waited for their opinion for most of your life with baited breath. My mother, for example, had no problem smiling at my new college boyfriend upon meeting him, chatting him up, and after wishing him a good day and closing the door, turned to me and said, “¡Por Dios, no! Es un salame.”

And that, was that. (Except for the recounting of the many, many, many examples of said salame-ness. That took a while.)

The other day I went over to my parents’ house wearing my compression pants–because that’s all I ever wear now, sadly–and I felt like all eyes were on me. I waited for someone to say something.

Well! Those are some work out clothes, huh?

Are those pants you wear all the time, or just inside the house?

You know, Jules, did I mention I still have a Sports Mart gift card I have never used?

Oddly, no one said anything. I could tell my dad was thinking of saying something. I could see him weighing the pros and cons and ultimately deciding against saying a word. Smart move. Two hours later he called, which I predicted. It’s impossible for him to hold his opinion on anything, ever. Luckily, I don’t have that problem.

[pause for laughter]

“You know, Jules, I saw you in your work out pants today.”

“Yup, I’m sure you did.”

“Well, I just wanted to say that I can tell you’ve been walking. Good job.”

Huh. I wasn’t expecting that one.

Of course a 10 minute conversation on the importance of exercise followed, complete with a detailed account of his own routine plus some suggestions for other ways I may want to work out if I ever get bored with walking now that I have such fancy pants.

I think this lifelong exposure to an overabundance of words is what attracted me to the Mister like a bee to honey.

Unlike every single person I’m related to, he’s more of a still waters run deep kind of guy. It’s not that he isn’t affectionate or loving–quite the opposite. He’s a great guy I’m lucky to have married. But he’s not a guy who’s going to surprise me with two tickets to Paris. Those elaborate birthday presents you hear about, with the trail of clues that leads to the 1st edition book of poetry that reminds him of when you first met? Never in a million, trillion years. I get 3 presents every year (one of them a book), and he puts them all in one box if we have one the right size. If we don’t, they all go in one bag from the birthday aisle at Target. I get three cards. One serious one, one funny one, and one from the boys.

What he lacks in romantic spontaneity he more than makes up for with loyalty and kindness. If I have a headache in the middle of the night, he’ll get up and make me an ice bag and bring me Tylenol. He helps around the house without me having to ask and encourages me to write daily. He’s involved with the boys, and not just with all the fun stuff. He cares about raising responsible, good men and teaches them life skills like how to pick weeds or fold shirts; how to wash a car; the best technique for shooting paper wrapper bullets from straws in restaurants; and which rules are worth following and which could use a little bending.

He would never, ever say one negative word about my weight or appearance. Never has, never will. He knows I do enough of that in my head (drives him nuts), but even if I didn’t, it’s not his style. He not a man of many words, and certainly not ones that hurt. He won’t say anything, really, unless he means it and unless he’s sure.

I was adding one of my daily walk pictures to instagram last week when he walked into the kitchen, covered in grass and little bits of dirt from yardwork, to pour himself a glass of water. I made room for him at the counter and played with filters while he stood there drinking and refilling. Finally he put the glass down, gave me an affectionate pat, and as he walked away in a cloud of freshly mowed lawn tossed over his shoulder those three little words every wife wants to hear.

“Your butt’s smaller.”

And that, was that.

Song of the Week

Classy GirlsThe Lumineers (Nico loves this song.)

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.

Nico, A Love Story

I met the boys’ dad in the spring of 1997. He wore shorts on our first date, and when I asked him how he got the large scar on his knee, he said he fell while pretending to surf on a moving Volkswagen. That was a good one, he said. You could see down past the muscle, and his mom almost passed out in the Urgent Care. He doesn’t have a scar from when he fell off the high dive that one summer in the 70s, and I can’t remember how many bones he has broken. I just know he is accident prone. He went to the Urgent Care a week ago Saturday. He was in the garage and stabbed himself with an old, rusty instrument.

You can see the scars on Nico’s knees when he wears shorts; there are more on the left than on the right. He was a little over a 18 months old the first time I took him to the doctor for an injury–he fell face first reaching for a toy–and six months later busted his lip on a flying plastic dinosaur. He came home with more boo-boo reports in his first year of preschool than Mikey has his entire academic career. I would fear where this is going if I didn’t admire him so much.

He makes us laugh. He makes wry observations and is confident he is amazing. We can’t argue with him. “Mama, I’m the Dominator of scooter riding.” “Mama, I am the Dominator of this Lego set.” “Mama, I am the Dominator of eating pizza.” When he smiles, his eyes turn into little triangles. I love to make him laugh; it sounds like wind chimes.

Everything is fun. When we bake cookies, Mikey follows the recipe to the letter while Nico pretends to be Captain Hook. Everything is awesome. Play-dates are awesome. The dentist is awesome. School is awesome–except for a two week period when he had to accept he wasn’t going to be learning about space full-time. I had to explain to him that even Neil Armstrong had to learn how to read.

Unlike Mikey, who communicates what he is feeling like a tiny Sigmund Freud, Nico fumbles around words and takes forever to make a point. He prefers to rely on a bundle of sound effects. He laughs hysterically when something is only moderately funny, and just as easily cries at the drop of a hat. His world nearly crumbled the day I said he couldn’t wear his favorite green sweatshirt to church. He learned to ride his bike over the weekend. He screamed the entire time. The entire time! I could hear him from down the street, inside, with the windows shut. He is very shy around adults he doesn’t know.

He is honest to a fault, which is why the other night at dinner, in the middle of a busy restaurant, he stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Holy cow, I just farted!” My dad and brother laughed until they cried. He is visual, like his dad. He knows the make and model of all his friends’ cars and when he gets bored in the car he likes to call out the makes and models of the cars on the street. His dad is the same way. He can identify a car in the dark just by the shape of the headlights in the rear view mirror. It’s uncanny.

Right before Christmas, Nico took a tumble down a driveway while riding a plasma cart. Mikey, who can count on one hand the number of times he has injured himself enough to bleed, was horrified. “Dude, your face. It’s just…wow.”

Nico was upset until he stopped bleeding. Once the band-aids went on he was thrilled.

We sent him back to school after Christmas break with an almost clean face. The scabs on his forehead were gone, but he had a small patch of pink, freshly healed skin on the bridge of his nose.

One the second day of school, the front office called me. Nico tripped over his own feet and landed face first on the asphalt. He fell hard enough that they wanted me to take him to the doctor. I explained to the pediatrician my concerns, that it was in the same spot as his injury two weeks ago. He did some cognitive and physical tests, and it was when the he said, “His skull appears to be intact” that I accepted the kind of son Nico is going to be.

On Saturday we let the boys play around the church breezeway as we chatted with a few parents. As we turned to go, Nico fell off a curb and landed, face first, on his much abused forehead and bridge of his nose.

He cried and cried until Mikey made fart noises to cheer him up. Then he laughed and laughed. When he could catch his breath he said, “Mikey, you are the Dominator of farts.”

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.