Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lori's Boot Camp

After all the pomp and circumstance, the San Francisco adventure began with an early morning boat ride to Alcatraz on May 30.  The typically foggy, cool morning set the scene perfectly for our prison adventure.

Though the buildings have been battered by weather, the flowers and landscape are beautiful.

Nonetheless, the weathered buildings made for good black and white photos~my favorite cousins' photo!

The amazing audio tour of the prison was filled with stories and details of life within the walls of the most famous prison in America.  

With crazy eyes, he plays the prisoner part well.

A rare photo with mom and me!

A former inmate now makes a legitimate living in his old age selling his story to tourists~aka us!

After spending the morning hiking around the island, we cruised back across the bay to Fisherman's Wharf where we found a cozy table for 10 at Bubba Gump's.  We filled our bellies in preparation for the afternoon of city boot camp!

The hills of San Francisco are most memorable if you hike up and down them!  We paused at the bottom of Lombard street on our trek to Chinatown.

The bustling streets of Chinatown are filled with sights and sounds influenced by a homeland far away.  We explored the stores and visited the Golden Fortune Cook Factory and Portsmouth Park before finding the cable car stop.

We piled into the already full cable car for our ride back down to the water's edge. The boys snagged outside seats!  The rest of us held on to our bars and gratefully swayed with the car as it went up and down the hills!

The car emptied quickly as we made our way to Ghirardelli to enjoy ice-cream desserts beneath the iconic cityscape lights of an old landmark.

Our final trek was back to the car.  Twelve hours after we began our adventure we arrived home again, ready to rest our weary feet.

We have a photo album full of fun snapshots of the day, but it doesn't capture the banter of voices and easy laughter that makes family so fun!  

It was truly a memorable day.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Milestone

Family tumbled off the planes on Wednesday, May 28~some earlier than others due to predictable airline unpredictabilities.  Nonetheless, they all arrived safely and in time to share in the celebration.

The next morning Graduation Day arrived with the final day of high school, so the girls were off early for their last exams, but by noon, teenagers were filling the house before heading off to bask by the pool in the sunshine and kick off summer vacation.  (Though all those California girls in bikinis stressed my sister-in-law as her son followed them out the door!)

Later the aroma of grilling tri-tip filled the air as Daddy careful tended the grill, and the succulent meat disappeared quickly as guests lined up and filled their plates.

Then we were all scrambling to get ready and out the door for graduation.  We scored a parking spot~nothing short of miraculous, and then we washed through the doors with the sea of parents. We escaped to the balcony where we discovered front row seats awaited!

In the predictable lull of ceremonies, I sat there quietly as my mind slowly started to absorb the reality that my daughter was graduating from high school.  The same little girl that introduced to parenthood and patiently endured our learning curve.  That little girl who I held so proudly in my arms after a short,  intense delivery.  That little third-grade girl who so bravely went off to camp up the Boulder in Big Timber, Montana.  I blinked and there she her graduation cap and gown standing tall and beautiful in the back row.  Then I felt my heart tighten and tears well up...and I breathed just as deeply as I did during delivery.

She is so excited to embrace life, and I am so proud of her, but it is hard on a mama's heart to let her spread her wings and fly, as she will always be my little girl.

Congratulations, Nikela!


Day 1

The challenge of creating a birthday cake for Kiahra is the fact that she can bake an amazing cake from scratch.  I cannot compete--nor do I want to, except for this one day out of the year.  In my anxiety that the connoisseur may be disappointed in my attempt...I instead sought out my faithful fruit pizza recipe.

16 candles burned briefly to the tune of "Happy Birthday," and dessert disappeared in a single sitting!

Day 2

A road trip for the ice-cream connoisseur to Dairy Queen for her favorite cake kept me busy!

Snapshot moments = Laughter and Smiles

And then a wish...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

0 to 18.

She changed our world forever.

From the first moment I laid eyes on her, the bond I felt from the first flutter kicks was welded forever.  As I held our tiny baby girl, I fell in love--a love so strong and so deep that even potty training and the teenage years couldn't shake it!

As I stared in wonder at the tiny life we had created, my heart melted.  Her sweet pink lips, button nose, tiny hands...and little toes.  She was perfect in my eyes.

I dreamed of the little girl she would become--full of smiles, who would grow in love and give love and find that elusive happiness.

I never dreamed the years would go by so quickly.

I never dreamed she would be blonde and 5'9" tall.

I never dreamed she would play water polo.

So, so many things I didn't anticipate, as I held her in my arms for the first time,

18 years ago. 

In our culture, she becomes an adult today.

High school graduation is just a few weeks away.

She is strong and ready for the next steps in her journey.

 But I never dreamed it would be so hard to let go...

even as I dreamed she would soar.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Precocious from the start, Miss Kiahra charms us with her sweet smiles.

Mamas have a heart full of their favorite moments that begin with that first flutter of movement. 

I love this photogenic moment with those gloriously kissable checks.

The sparkle in her eyes...and that full mouth smile.

The chubby little hand already intertwined in her shoelace.

Pure baby sweetness.

Six months old.

Now sixteen years old.



Still precocious.

Still Mama's baby girl.


Angel Island

The fog clung overhead, as we waited patiently with our bicycles for the ferry, watching the pier slowly came alive with people.  Anxiously anticipating our excursion, Kade and Chayse rolled up and down the wharf.  Finally the ferry arrived, and soon we were cruising across the bay to Angel island.

We debarked last, pushing our bicycles down the gangplank.  The brisk bay breeze greeted us as we sought out a map of the island.  Soon we were pedaling down the trail--but only for a brief moment before it was up the trail!

This brick hospital sat alone atop the hill.

Evidently we were a curious sight as we continued down the trail.

We rolled down the hill into Camp Reynolds.  During the Civil War, the federal government established a couple garrisons on the island to prevent attacks on the Bay Area by Confederate sympathizers.  

My rolling days were short lived, as I had a flat tire.  Adeptly Ron tackled the challenge with our emergency patch kit.

As we sat on the road quietly, we heard a tapping.  This little woodpecker was next to us searching for breakfast!

Finally, the tire seemed ready to roll again, so we trekked back up the looonnng hill.

The morning fog started to lift and blue skies peeked through.

The dynamic views made the climb worthwhile as we kicked off spring break with Kade and Chayse.

The scenery not only took my breath away...but also the last of the air in my tire...again.  

Ron and Kade took the wheel off and headed back down to the dock where a bike rental shop stood in hopes that we might be able to buy a new tube.  The request for help was met with some resistance, but eventually Ron talked them into letting him buy a tube for twice the market price.  Then they reluctantly allowed him to use their hand pump even though the air compressor stood silently next to it.  Wheel in hand, Ron headed back up the trail with Kade in the lead.

As we waited Chayse convinced me it was lunch time, so in the warmth of the emerging sun we dined bayside gazing across the horizon at the Bay bridge, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate.

Chayse discovered that the vibrant flowers nearby were the California state flower.

Soon our boys returned, ready for lunch too!

Reluctantly, we left our scenic vista and resumed our ride around the island--enjoying the freedom of the downhill ride and feeling the burn back up the hill.

History came alive as we rolled by the landmarks.   As we neared the end of our journey, we paused at the immigration center that opened in 1910.  Once again I stood on the dock where the immigrants welcomed the sight of land after crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Then we climbed all the steps into the Immigration Station Museum.

After recent visits to the National Archives, I read several typed interviews that occurred this room...probably typed on the typewritier...

Actually, it was more of an interrogation process, and it required waiting (it was after all, a government process).

Cramped quarters were an understatement.

And it inspired the poetry of heartache.

Kade discovered carved artwork on the walls--even though it had been painted over.  

As we roamed the stark quarters, we could only imagine what life was like here 100 years earlier. 

Standing in the quietness of history is oft the most powerful lesson.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

An escape to the craggy California coast is always an adventure.  The salty cool air fills our lungs, and the crashing of the waves fill our ears.

It inspires "rock" ballet.

We revel in the freedom and beauty of nature.

It helps us find balance.

Rockin' it!


On tippy toes as the cold tide surges onto the sandy shore.

Partners in crime.




Never forget the laughter.