Showing posts from July, 2009


I found this taped to the boys' door. No idea where they come up with this stuff. Do not try this at home.

Happy Campers

Where they went:
The Campsite: The highest spot that could be driven to: The things Daddy let the kids do when Mom isn't there: Waterbaby Benjamin:
Waterbaby Nathan:
Out of the swimsuits but not out of the water:
My very favorite color, found in nature! No, Daddy did not let the boys play in this particular pond:
Quick change artist on his 3rd outfit of the day:
Daddy's campfire cooking, teriyaki chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes:
My three favorite boys ever:

Boys in Tents

To me, camping is cold water at the Sheraton.~ Judy Rose (my mother)

The intrepid explorers pack the trusty mule, er van, high and head out on the trail... I never camped growing up. Seriously. I didn't make up that quote about the Sheraton, my Mom said it all the time when I was a kid! And I was the ultimate girly-girl. I didn't even own a pair of jeans until the fifth grade, and I barely wore them because they weren't as comfortable as the skirts and dresses I'd worn my whole life. Michael, however, used to do the kind of camping where you hike in twelve miles and carry a shovel to make your own toilet out in nature. Nothing at all like the Sheraton! And not something a girly-girl would be caught dead doing! The first time I went camping was shortly after I married Michael. He took me to a very rustic tent-only spot high in the wilderness of the Sequoias for my inaugural trip. No showers, no flushing toilets or running water, recent bear sightings, and lots of graphic …

Sewing, Sixes, and Snakes

When I was growing up, I lived far from my grandparents. I only saw them at Christmas or Thanksgiving. One magical summer my parents sent my brother and I one at a time to stay with my Dad's parents down in Fallbrook, CA. My Gran used to run a sewing club for the neighborhood girls. She'd drag out her sewing machines and start the girls on a new project, serve them lunch, tell them a story, and then send them home with their creations. I was years younger than the girls in her group, but she still let me participate. With dogged determination I mastered machine sewing in a week, coming home with a skirt I made myself, a baby doll quilt, and an apron. My Gran used to proudly say I could sew before I could write my name. My Mom used to say she was happy she didn't have to teach me, as grandmas have much more patience for that kind of thing. My Mom is an excellent seamstress. As a young woman she sewed all her clothes. I desperately wanted to do the same thing, and in middle …

Happy Blogaversary!

Wow, the last twelve months have flown by! My goal was to update the blog every day, and I came quite close with 338 posts over the last 365 days. A year ago Michael was on a business trip in Macau and I was thinking of ways to make our old family website more of a blog to update everyone on our adventures when we moved overseas, yet again.

That day I'd taken the boys up to Rocket Ship Park, which overlooks the entire Los Angeles Basin and the shoreline from Palos Verdes to Malibu. Both boys were missing their Daddy, and I found Nathan sitting on the swings, looking at the amazing view. I couldn't resist snapping a photo before I took the swing next to him and asked what he was thinking about. He said there were so many places in the world that he hadn't seen yet, and he marveled over how big it was! I said that what he was looking at was only the Los Angeles Basin, that the world was actually quite a bit larger. Then he asked if we were going to see it all. I asked him if…

Family BBQ

You know how on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and sometimes Easter you gather with family, stuff yourself to excess, and spend a couple of hours trying to catch up with everyone's activities during the last year? I've long felt that there should be a summer holiday which would gather the family together for grilled meat, fresh corn on the cob, and fruit-filled desserts. Not ones to stand on ceremony or stick with long held traditions, we made up our own! We invited Michael's brother Mitch, wife Jamie, his sister Holly, Alessandro, her friend from Italy, and Michael's parents to a Sunday afternoon food-fest complete with rib-eye steaks, 24 hour slow baked beans, corn on the cob, broccoli-bacon salad, blueberry cobbler and chocolate-caramel brownies. There was little to no conversation while everyone stuffed themselves silly! If you've been reading this blog very long, you know that I tend to not be a fan of cooking. But the strange thing is that I love cooking for a c…


My mom and her mom were natural redheads. I inherited their pale skin but not their copper locks. I was a towhead (white-blond) until high school when I accidentally permanently dyed my hair pink for crazy hair day (in the days before pink hair was actually cool). After that I changed my hair color with the season to whatever caught my fancy. I generally went red in the fall but for the last three years it's stayed various shades of rust. It suits my nearly transparent inherited skin. My kids were both born with pale golden hair which turned to a dirty blond around age three, just like their Dad. During the summer, their hair lightens quite a bit. They seem to have inherited both Michael and my Dad's darker, tanning skin. They turn a buttery bronze color and look just like the So Cal beach bums they are. The one thing they've never had was a sun burn. And this is only because I happen to be the sunscreen police, applying it whenever we go out, year round despite hearty pro…

A duck to water

The boys have swim lessons every weekday during the month of July at the local public pool in our city. This is the same pool (called "the Plunge") where my parents swam when they were kids, and where Michael and his siblings swam in their youth. My Dad told me my mom used to go to the Plunge to meet boys. Evidently, she met the best boy of all (my Dad) and then gave up swimming. I don't have a single memory that features my Mother in a swimsuit!

In my childhood we lived in a neighborhood where our house was the only one without a pool. My little brother and I would suit up, grab a towel, and go door to door during summer to find someone willing to let us swim, unsupervised, while the occupants went off to work. We always found someone happy to let us use their pool. Things have changed quite a bit since then, huh? This year, the boys are in two separate sides of the pool. I sit in the center on the viewing deck and whip my head back and forth to see Ben swim and th…

Extreme Makeover, Nat Edition

Before: After:
Sigh. I had to do it. I didn't want to do it. But with the swim lessons and hanging out at the beach and the way Nathan wails when you try to come his hair... it had to be done. I can't tell if he looks significantly older or younger. He definitely looks more preppy. The skin that used to be covered by the longer locks was pasty white for a day or two, unaccustomed to the rays of the sun. The good thing about hair? It grows back.

Birthdays Galore!

July 7th is a popular day to be born! At least among the people I know! My father in law, my friend Selena, and my friend Roger were all born on that day, decades apart. Two out of the three of them celebrated their big day at Disneyland, and since we have those convenient Annual Passes, we joined them!
It was awesome for my kids to have other little kids to play with while waiting in line. Selena and her hubby Ron have three boys, but they left the youngest at home, bringing the six and four year old along for the fun. Ben and their oldest were thick as thieves all day, talking about who knows what, and he rode Big Thunder Mountain with my boys while I sat about three rows back and tried not to fret. Which was easy as I was riding with Ron, who was yelling like a maniac (and video taping us) the whole way. We are so blessed to know this family: Ron always answers his phone when I call, even though he knows it's generally because I need him to do something crazy like build me a se…

Beach Day!

This week is packed with old friends! In an unusual change from how things normally go, one of my very best friends moved away a few years ago. It was a bitter blow to me, and it sure made me experience a bit of empathy for the trail of people we've left behind. The good news is that they moved about an hour away from my parents, so we do our best to get together every time we're up there for a visit. But this week they were down here and wanted to go to (where else?) the beach! Of course my kids are always up for that! Left to right: Nathan, Benjamin, and Joshua. Nathan's new boogie board was really put to the test! On land, Nathan is somewhat awkward... but put him in water and he's... well, like a fish! He's still learning how to catch a wave rather than let the wave catch him though! He was pretty battered at the end of the day, lots of cuts, scrapes and a bruise or two (which again means a 10 out of 10 on the Excellent Boy Adventure Scale). Nathan said he's …

Old Friends

Because of all the moves we've made, we have to use the wonder of modern technology and keep in touch with old friends via the Internet. It isn't often (or in some cases, ever) that we get to go back to the places we've lived to see people face to face. One family we've kept in touch with throughout the years is our friends Jamie and Dawnette. We met them on the 4th of July in 2002, when Nathan was just 18 months old. They'd just had a little baby girl and they had a son about a year older than Nathan. Both of them are originally from Southern California, and they travelled down here for the week to visit family, holding a special open house where all their So Cal guests could meet the newest member of their family. The drive was about an hour and a half, but waaaay shorter than the eight hour drive to where they live! Of course, since we moved away their family has doubled, they have another little boy and now another little girl. But they appear as if they themse…

Fun on the 4th

We live next to the park where the city of Torrance launches their huge fireworks display. Throughout the day they offer food booths and lots of stuff to buy. We walked over and had some BBQ sandwiches and sno-cones, then enjoyed a free ride on the trains that are run by volunteers. After a quick visit with Grandma and Grandpa (who were expecting a quiet day while Auntie Holly was off in the mountains- ha! Fooled them! There's never quiet when my boys are around!), we came home and I cooked up several enormous batches of my favorite Spanish rice recipe to feed 80 people. Every year a family on our street hosts a huge Independence Day party with food and bouncers and all sorts of fun. This year it became more of a block party as all the neighbors came out to enjoy the great company while the kids played. We never live anywhere long enough to get to know the neighbors, so this was a wonderful treat for us! We enjoyed delicious carne asada (no simple hot dogs for this block!) and a t…

God Bless the USA

At 15, I spent the summer traveling around what was then Communist USSR as a student ambassador along with a group of forty students from across the USA. The experience was eye opening, and completely changed me and my attitude toward the United States of America, with all the freedom and privileges we enjoy. I returned home just days before the start of the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, CA where singer/song writer Lee Greenwood gave a free concert, which my parents had to drag me to. For his encore, Lee sang the song he is most famous for, God Bless the USA. After experiencing first hand the lack of freedom in the USSR, I found the words to the song struck a sensitive chord and I couldn't help but cry deep, heaving sobs of gratitude onto my Dad's shoulder that I was a citizen of such a great and powerful country. To this day, I can't hear the song without shedding a tear or two.

Michael and I were going through old video clips and came across one with five year old Natha…

Beach bums

It's such a fabulous thing to live so close to the beach. It's two miles from our driveway to the sand. We take advantage of this and go as often as we can. Most of the time we go close to dusk with a blanket and jackets and pick up the Albertson's $5 chicken dinner and dine on the sand while we watch the sun set over the Pacific. I've always lived near water, whether the Pacific Ocean, Lake San Antonio, the South China Sea, the San Francisco Bay, Elizabeth Lake, or Tokyo Bay. I equate the water with peacefulness, particularly the repetitive waves that crash on the shore. The ocean air draws out the excess energy that my children are overflowing with, leaving them calm and restful. Nathan screams at the waves, as loud as he can. Sometimes I think the roar of the ocean is the only thing consistently as loud as my son!
I took them to the beach this week and watched as they grew more bold by the minute, creeping in until the waves were crashing over their shoulders. Anoth…

Birthday Boy Benjamin

Our baby boy Benjamin turned six years old! He wanted a special birthday shirt, so I let him pick out the fabric and the color of the tee and I stayed up late making it, while Michael wrapped his gifts.

Thanks to Disneyland's yearlong promotion of allowing guests into the Disney theme park of their choice on their birthdays, we decided to celebrate with Mickey and the gang. But wait, you say, don't you have annual passes to the Happiest Place on Earth and therefore get in free anyway? Why yes, yes we do! And so, in a very generous move, Disney grants Annual Passholders a gift card in the amount of a one day ticket to be spent on merchandise in the Park. Benjamin shared his with Nathan and they were both able to build their own Star Wars Light Sabers. Daddy was drooling because he wanted to make one too! Tuesday is a working day for Mike, but he joined us after he finished up a few things. It was the very first birthday (other than the day Ben was actually born!) that Michael wa…