Christmas Video 2023: 10 Years of Lip Syncing!!!

The tradition of creating this video is so treasured by our family. We are humbled and amazed when people tell us watching the video has become part of their own holiday tradition. A few families even tell us that when the new video is released, they make it a point to watch the videos from every year before they allow themselves to do this year’s big reveal. Since we started these lip syncs with…


Spending Summer Together. Bickering, Barriers, and Basketball.

This summer was one of the first in years where we chose not to sign our kids up for camps. In years prior, we preserved our sanity by breaking up the endless together time with 3-4 hours a day where one kid or the other was at least a 10 minute drive away. From that distance, it miraculously became impossible for them to find reasons to bicker.  Don’t get me wrong here—the two occasional…


A Beginners Guide to Hiking: The Otts Take the Rockies

Our family has been taking trips to hike in national parks for the past three years. Over that time, we have loved getting to understand hiking culture. We started hiking like you start anything—unprepared, innocent, ready and able to make mistakes. Mistakes like starting a hike at the wrong end, so what is meant to be an easy descent from a peak becomes a brutal climb with no views. (No, we do…


Christmas Video 2022: Searching for Joy

One of the best parts of the video is when it is done and ready to be delivered. We create the link, print the cards, and release it to the world! We love when comments roll in about favorite parts—it makes it all worth it. But nothing is quite like seeing people react in real time! As we make the video, we have no idea which parts other people will find as funny as we do. We watch it so often,…


The Unauthorized Episode of Something Bit Me

Vivvi has always had a dark side. When she was a toddler, she loved her fluffy pink hedgehog stuffy with giant sweet eyes. “Look, mom!” she said as she snuggled him under her chin. “His name is sweetie. He likes cupcakes, and sweet things, and he kills people with his spikes!”  In a study of nature vs. nurture, it’s revealing. WallyBen does not have these instincts at all. Where she is twisty, he…


To All the Animals Who Adventured with Us

We were in the parking lot of the Logan Pass visitor center in Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road, the most beautiful scenic drive in America according to everyone who ranks these things. It was 6:30am, and we weren’t the only visitors there. And I don’t just mean the 30 or so other humans who had woken up at 5am or some God-awful dark and peaceful hour to drive and secure a parking…


Green: Stories from a Life Lived without Me

Driving down the lane They will feel the pain Putting up a shot My game is on fire, hot I chant the above—on a whim, mind you…improv style—and when I am done and thoroughly impressed with myself, Wally Ben rolls his eyes. “Good mom,” the sixth grade boy says. “Very good…,” he trails off as he clears his cereal bowl and heads downstairs to pack up. He is not as impressed as I am but very nicely…


Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Thorns

I was chitter chattering with my kids before school and reacted to something my son Wally said. Vivvi, my nine year old, proceeded to roast me in the most elegant fashion. The girl doesn’t need wit or poetry to take me down to a humble level—just the tools in her toolbox she has been perfecting since birth: expression and imitation. Photo by Jennifer Heim Photography At first when she started…


Come With Me on a Little Walk in Bryce Canyon

Our trip had been fun, but started with a few disappointments. Our flight the first day was delayed, which meant we landed in Vegas at 2AM—excellent for a bachelorette party, but not so great with an 11 and 9 year old. Our planned time at the pool the next morning was delayed a few hours because another family who braved Sin City with children had let said children leave a deposit in the…


Watching the Wolves

I am sitting upstairs, looking out the window, and in the distance I can see WallyBen playing catch with his friend. Every time they catch the ball, I feel myself closer and closer to tears. I should back up. Over the course of the last year, Husband Wally and I spent a lot of time discussing one question: If you could fast forward right now to the end of COVID times, would you? His answer was…