my kids think they're lucky to be working all summer

Don't get me wrong. We play in the pool quite a bit in our "off hours," but my kids don't have the typical summer vacation. They go to work with me each and every day, and they help. Like truly help. We don't travel to far-off lands or exotic places, and though I don't think they'd turn down the opportunity to do so, my kids actually think they're lucky to be working all summer. 

We don't travel during the summer because our clients do. As a professional pet sitter and work-from-home-mom, when the kids are out of school, they accompany me–aka free child labor–on my visits. They generally know my schedule, and they know all of the creatures in the lineup, so if we're seeing some of their favorites, they'll often be dressed before 5 a.m., ready to make the rounds. 

This week is particularly fun because we're looking after one of our favorite animal families. They have a dog, a cat, two horses, and three chickens, and my kids wouldn't let me leave them behind for anything.

Admiring the horses, chatting with the chickens and giving the cat some love.

Admiring the horses, chatting with the chickens and giving the cat some love.

Sometimes I feel like my kids are deprived because they don't get to do much of what their friends are doing over the summer, but then I review the pictures and see their enthusiasm and realize that putting them to work for the summer doing something they love while spending time together is just as valuable.

It's like our own private petting zoo, all summer long. 

the wild horses of the Arizona desert

IMG_9469 There is a stretch of road–the infamous highway 347–that stretches between Phoenix and the city of Maricopa through the Gila River Indian Reservation. As a day-in day-out commute, the desert's beauty can sometimes lose it's luster, but there is one main attraction. If you're lucky enough, you can catch a glimpse of the wild horses.

We've all seen horses, so it may not seem spectacular, but it is rare to see so many at once in the wild. They come out predictably just after the rains that stimulate the brush to be as lush as it can be in this parched climate.

Since it rained a lot last week and we had to drive that stretch of highway a couple of times this weekend to visit some animals, I thought we had a pretty good shot at catching a glimpse of them. Searching for them keeps the littles occupied during what would otherwise be a long, dull trek. There are only so many cacti a kid can take.

Typically, the horses appear as tiny figurines in the distance, their movement and grazing barely perceptible. Sometimes you'll be lucky enough to catch them running. The tell-tale dust cloud is easy to spot, but when it's so hot, they are usually still, conserving their energy.

What a fantastic surprise it was to see them grazing just yards from the road yesterday!

Since I'm always telling the littles that it's far too dangerous to stop on the 347 if they've dropped their shoe or graham cracker, they were amazed when I pulled over. They could see just fine from the safety of the air-conditioned minivan, but I braved the spectacular danger of standing inches from cars blazing past, commonly at 90 mph. There were several of us parked by the road in awe, and I've seen some fantastic pictures–far better than mine–posted on my friends' social media feeds. What a treat!

We could see their sinew and ribs, but they seemed strong and powerful. And so calm, considering they had human spectators and screaming-fast cars just yards away. The sight of them was truly spectacular.