My kids are lucky to still have two grandfathers and one great grandfather still living.

None of their grandparents live close to us and we have to travel to see them, however my father (and mother) often comes to visit us too.

This year we’ve been fortunate to have the time to travel across the United States to spend quality time with these important men in our lives.

In May, we traveled to Colorado to see PopPop, who is Jeff’s grandfather and the kids’ great grandfather. The kids loved hearing his stories and sharing their stories from our European adventure.

I love how they can carry a conversation and have great interest in his life and him in theirs.

We had the opportunity to go camping with Opa, who is my father and their grandfather. I loved watching my dad share his passion for fishing with my boys and how they learned from him.


There was great joy experienced across generational lines. My dad loved helping the kids and I loved watching him with my kids. The boys enjoyed the special attention and just fishing together, especially when Christian caught a fish. Charlie, on the other hand, loved fishing until he caught one and had to touch it to remove it from the line. He refused and that was the end of our fishing joy. Maybe one day he won’t be afraid to get his hands all slimy.

Today we got to spend the day with Gramps, who is Jeff’s dad and someone we don’t get to see very often. At the end of our visit the guitars came out and joy spread across the room. Gramps loves to play the guitar and watching him with my boys, smiling and sharing some tips with them made me happy. They shared a connection.


I am thankful for Grandfathers today, especially PopPop, Opa and Gramps, and for the love they share with my kids.

And I’m thankful for the love I received from my grandfathers who have passed away too – miss you Grandpa, Opa and Great Opa!

Hugs to your grandfathers too!



Do you ever feel stuffed?

This feeling overwhelms me sometimes.

My messy linen closet is symbolic of that feeling.

It is stuffed beyond capacity and there is not enough space to store all the stuff so it quickly becomes disorganized. I’m embarrassed to share it, but let’s keep things real. Life gets messy when you’re busy living happily ever after.

It’s a trade off and I’m ok with it until I’m not because the space doesn’t work anymore because it’s too stuffed, like now!

I need to take everything out and start again and create nice new stacks. Maybe then the stuff will be easier to find and manage.

It just takes time to get everything back in it’s proper place and there is too much stuff to fit in the small space.

I know, I should just get rid of half of it but which half? My linen closet is tiny and stores sheets and mattress covers for 6 beds of different sizes, bath towels, wash cloths, table cloths, beach towels, blankets and Charlie’s shoes. I think I’m trying to have it do too much for it’s limited space. It’s probably why it looks like this.

I know, blah blah blah…stop making excuses and just do it, right? I’ll add it to my To Do list. But for now, I’m “too busy.”

What’s stuffed at your house?

I wish you enough and time to stay organized and unstuffed.

Purge, baby purge!


Water Play

I love water. Just being near it makes me happy. Today the kids convinced me to actually come in the pool with them and we all had fun together.

I got a GoPro camera for my birthday and the kids took it in the pool to play.

This provided hours of fun for all of us.

Charlie asked me to be the mama whale and he would hold on to my back as we swam together through the water. It took me a little while to figure out exactly how to swim the way he had in mind!

I told the kids I felt like I was five again, holding hands with my friend and playing with the kids. Juliana laughed and said “But you didn’t have an underwater camera back then!” She is too wise!



Today I was thankful for friends and time to play together in the water and the sun.

Namaste. Go out and play!


After camping all week, and staying in a small trailer that did not have hookups for water and electricity, I really appreciate my kitchen with running, hot water and a microwave, not to mention the added space and counter tops.

Sometimes I think you need to get away from your comfort zone to appreciate what you have. All of a sudden, my kitchen is more than good enough. Having a big refrigerator and freezer is awesome. Being able to run water and wash dishes without having to think about filling up the tank is priceless.  I appreciate my little kitchen and was motivated to cook dinner tonight, despite the heat.

Cooking feels like such a maternal thing to me. When I cook, I feel like I’m providing for my family.  It’s like I’m giving them a gift, even though they would be just as happy with take out. I feel like I’m taking care of them in a small way.  And when they take a bite and tell me they love my cucumber salad, or the taste of my fried rice, I am happy. I LOVE this connection.  It’s the little things.

Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice

Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice

Cucumber Salad

So many of our memories are tied to food and smells. When I think of what my kids will remember from their childhood, I wonder if they’ll remember my Thai curries or will it be the way I crisped up the Trader Joe’s Frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken in the oven, which is one of their favorites.  Maybe it’ll be something more simple as mashed potatoes or more likely it’ll be their dad’s barbecued or smoked meats on the Traeger and his homemade BBQ sauces.

My favorite memories from the kitchen were my Mama’s Italian spaghetti sauce, my Opa’s Indonesian Sayur Lodeh, and my Grandma’s chocolate glazed cookies without nuts.  I also used to love it when my mom would make her magic bars with a graham cracker crust, shredded and toasted coconut and chocolate chips all held together with sweetened condensed milk.  Oh, and on special occasions, my Aunt Vicki used to make this chocolate mousse cake with crushed chocolate wafer cookies for the crust with a thick, rich, dark chocolate mousse filling that she would then top with chocolate coated leaves that were so beautiful.

Oh, such sweet memories.  What food memories do you have from your childhood? Do you make a couple specialities that your family loves?

Happy Cooking.  Happy Memories. Happy Life.

Unplugged and Loving It

I love technology. I go everywhere with my iPhone in my pocket or know exactly where it is and keep it charged. I love Facebook and Instagram and access to knowledge and news at my fingertips. I love taking pictures (probably way too many) and playing games and texting and chatting. I like my To Do list readily handy in my Notes app, and I love that I have EverNote to keep track of all my big ideas. And my calendar is with me and easily updated every time a new event is created and bells and reminders go off to remind me of my appointments.

Basically, I love being connected and knowing what’s going on in the world and making memories.

But this week, I unplugged from technology and connected to my family and nature and simplicity and being in the moment.  I took a blogging vacation and a real vacation too. 

We went away and went camping with no internet or cell phone access. I didn’t have an agenda. I didn’t have a plan and I was free to be. I flowed with whatever came my way and with whatever the group wanted because I was just happy being out in nature with family and friends, that I didn’t need anything.

I loved this, even though I did miss blogging every night and checking Facebook and reading other blogs too.  But I loved the freedom that came from not checking a screen every few hours or feeling obligated to connect with the world outside my immediate circle.

I loved the freedom. I loved the feeling of being untethered and free from the distractions that social media and the news presents. I loved that the kids were away from screens too. I didn’t worry and didn’t want for more. I was loving the memories we were creating together and that my mind was free to think and relax and just be.  I wasn’t multitasking which is actually liberating.

Here I Am.

That’s what this story is about – being in the moment and enjoying life as it comes and trying not to take myself too seriously and to stay focused on the gifts versus the challenges.

I enjoyed watching my kids run free along the river, fishing with their Opa, paddling and kayaking with their cousins and friends, hiking and rock climbing and seeing the crystal clear stars from the meadow at night.

bliss boga boards

charlie kayak

waterfall hike kids

We shared a few breakfasts and showers at Oma and Opa’s trailer. We had soft serve ice cream from the Bear Den before lunch, slept in and went to bed late, ate s’mores and read books, told jokes and played games and sat around the campsite and on the beach.

boys eating ice cream

We bonded. We played. We laughed. We saw bears and deer and chipmunks and snakes.

bear on log


We relaxed. We shared meals. We worked together side by side. We took care of each other. We cooked for one another. We took each other’s kids on adventures and we loved it up. We even visited a ghost town together, called Bodie, if you want to look it up.


We celebrated a double digit birthday with trailer decorations, presents, cards, homemade ice cream cake, songs and candles.

charlie 10th birthday morning

We had a change from our routine and a break from technology that we all needed. I loved it and missed it all at the same time. I liked that we all weren’t distracted though. I didn’t have to ask anyone to look up or to put their screen away or to turn it off. I didn’t have to nag or monitor time. This was truly a gift.

I have to say I am happy to be connected again and am still working on a backup recovery for my lost photos. The kids are back to enjoying their videos, games, and social media too connecting with their cousin friends and family too. For now, that’s ok. That is what is comfortable to us and it’s summer time – a time for flexibility and fun. And tomorrow we’ll go outside and play again and create more fun memories and take more pictures, I’m sure.

I am content and thankful and I missed you! I hope you had a good week, and if you haven’t tried unplugging lately, I highly recommend this gift to yourself.




Blogging Vacation

Friends – I am taking a blogging vacation. I will miss you and hope you’ll join me again next week. Sometimes you just need to unplug.


Before I go, I’ll leave you with a story.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 am to work on my photo-storage-backup-elephant in the room before everyone woke up or needed anything from me.

I keep putting it off as you know and the elephant died.

I was moving the 3700+ photos to a safe place and before the migration was complete, an error message popped up. All of a sudden, my 3700 turned into 10. Where did they go?

Just lost.


I was extremely sad for my loss, especially as I was trying to fix my problem.

I decided to try to recover. I went through the steps to recover a backup from iCloud. I followed the rules. I read help pages and sought advice.

But my elephant must be just too big.

8 hours later my problem is still not resolved. I felt many emotions. Sadness. Anger. Frustration.

As I sat with my frustration and tried to get control over it, I cleaned and organized everything else. That’s what I do when I get flustered and had a short temper. I get quiet and I clean. Weird. And I laugh when I should cry. And then I cry. And then I say so what.

So what. I mean, really.

They are photos and memories of the past. I’m holding on to the past and wasting the present moment. I hate that. Let it go, mantra, remember?

As I sat there feeling sad and mad at myself for not keeping up with my photo project, I thought of real loss and the families who died in the airplane accident this week, and all the other real pain that people carry. This is nothing. It’s just a little something.

I am walking away from the problem for today as I had enough.

Despite the chaos of life, I always look for the silver lining and there were several today.

My sister was texting me throughout the day and “listened” and supported me and reminded me to breathe. Thank you. I love that you get me.

My kids were so patient when our expectations for the day changed. Even though they had lots of questions, and were waiting, they were helpful and got it even though they thought I was crazy.

My husband is my rock. He went and got lunch for everyone. He helped with the technical solutions, even though he doesn’t really want to be family tech support. When I wanted to give up, he offered another idea and took me to his office where the wifi speed is faster than our home. He didn’t give up on me, even when I wasn’t so nice. I really like you. Thank you.

After nothing was working, I finally chose to give up. We got back in the car with the kids, and I just sat quietly in defeat.

As I sat still, I let go. We have places to be. I will deal with the elephant carcass next week.


I will be thankful for the love and support I received today and be ok with my loss.

So that’s why I’m taking a break.

Going unplugged this week. I need a tech cleanse. Aaaahhhhh.

Namaste. xo

Rock Star Determination


It took 23 days and Juliana just passed Algebra 1 with a high B grade.

I am impressed and feel happy for her. She set her mind to something, figured out how to make it happen and did the rigorous work. I know she feels happy that she’s done and that she accomplished her goal after working very hard. I think having a goal and working hard are secrets to happiness and she is proof.

She went to class for 6 1/2 hours per day and then came home by 4 pm to rest for a short while before studying and preparing for exams for the next 2 to 3 hours most evenings over the past 5 weeks.

Algebra is a challenging subject to learn and you have to stay on top of the lessons because they are interconnected. If you fall behind, it’s very hard to catch up, especially when you’re covering about a week and a half’s worth of work in a normal class during one day of a summer school class. It was so cool to work with her and see how she was processing the information that was being taught and how she was able to apply what she learned.

This took determination and will power and stamina and focus and sacrifice.

She had to get up early every day and sit in a hot, crowded classroom and focus and learn for 6+ hours. She did it and didn’t give up. She did however have to give up her free time and time to play tennis and just to relax and sleep in like teenagers do and hang out with her friends. But I think she’s ok with it, although I don’t think she wants to do summer school again if she doesn’t have to.

It’s really fun watching her grow up and mature and go after what she wants. I enjoyed supporting her vision and facilitating the process, working with school counselors and principals and even the school district to approve her dream, and spending so much time together in the car and studying together most nights. I think we really bonded over Algebra – that seems weird, but it’s true, believe it or not.

I am proud of you Juliana. Can’t wait to see and hear what you dream up next. Congratulations on your success!!

We Are One

Today I am shaken. I am sad.

A missle shot down a civilian airplane traveling from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur. 298 people passed away and I keep getting teary eyed. That could have been my family or your family and I am incredibly sad today. 154 Dutch citizens passed away. My friend’s husband works for Malaysia Airlines and another expat friend travels back and forth between Amsterdam and Malaysia.

“But today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief.” – Prime Minister of Malaysia – Dato’ Seri Najib Razak

We are all one. We all want peace and love and live for the connections we make and share with one another.

Life is not fair and the grief that has been created by a thoughtless act creates uncertainty and fear. This is not how we want to live.

What can we do? We can create peace. We can be loving and thankful and do our best to be compassionate and loving to all we meet, even if they are different from us. It doesn’t cost anything.

I am sad today.I am fearful yet I will not be afraid. I choose love.

God bless all the families and friends who have been hurt today and may you find peace again. Namaste.

Simple Pleasures

Today I met a college friend for coffee at Santana Row. I love this place. I love the ambiance and people watching, even though it is overpriced with high end stores.

We sat outside for hours catching up after not having chatted much since before we moved to Amsterdam. Beth is one of my BFFs and was one of my roommates at College. It was so strange that she texted me yesterday, out of the blue, because I was just literally thinking of her the same day and she texted me two hours later. I was thankful that she reached out and she reminded me that I should pick up the phone and call or text my BFFs when they pop into my mind.

After sitting, we strolled down the street, enjoying browsing in the different stores without a plan or agenda. We just enjoyed being girls, chatting and shopping and comparing notes.

After she left me, I had two hours more until it was time to pick up the kids nearby. I decided just to enjoy more window shopping and walked some more alone. I was happy to not have that busy, mad rush feeling, that I usually carry. I had “nothing” I had to do, and enjoying my friend, and shopping outdoors was a perfect way to spend the day and to just be.

I ended up getting hungry and decided to drive over to Pacific Catch in Campbell to get a Poke salad. This was the highlight of my day, it was that good. I loved the presentation and the flavor and enjoyed every single bite and felt so happy eating it in my car! I didn’t want to miss Juliana’s pick up time, so I took my late lunch to go and enjoyed every bite, all by myself.


I love that food can be that satisfying and still be healhy.

I love that today was just chill and that I did not feel like I had to multi-task with a long to do list. I just enjoyed the day as it unfolded with simple pleasures, visiting with a good friend, enjoying beautiful surroundings, eating a deliciously prepared meal and spending time with my family.

Life is good.

How was your day, honey? 😉

Celebrating This LIfe


Charlie loves to celebrate life. He fought to survive when he was born, and I think he really appreciates being alive. I love seeing the world through his eyes. He’s all about the decorations and the party and making life fun. Hmm… I wonder where he learned this?

He’s turning double digits next week and insisted we have a birthday party. He’s still a kid, I know, but the third time around, I’m almost birthday partied out. Not really, but do you know what I mean? Birthday parties are work and take planning and details and messes and chaos and every bit is worth it, once I get through it and see the joy we create.

This year I tried to get out of it. I’ll admit it. But he wouldn’t have it. Smart kid. And of course I would not deny him the pleasure, but I did consider it, I’ll be honest.

We decided to do a Camp Charlie Theme Party and he invited a handful of friends to come sleep over.

The kids came over at 6:30 pm and they played in the tent and set up their sleeping bags.

Charlie gave each guest a goodie bag with candy, gum and a flashlight for their outdoor adventure.

They played outside and played video games inside until they were ready to make their own dinner.

We bought pizza dough from Trader Joes and toppings for them to add to their homemade pizza creations.


This was a fun event in itself and it was fun to watch them collaborating and working together, coming up with pizza boats, pizza pans and finally cinnamon sticks.

When they were done with their late dinner, they decided they wanted to play capture the flag at the park. I gave the kids glow sticks and we ventured down the street to the park for some late night play. I always loved playing in the dark and they seemed to have a great time too.


Close to 10:00 p.m., we came home to sing happy birthday and dive into Charlie’s homemade ice cream cake, which was so easy to make and a big hit.

It had an Oreo cookie crust, filled with cookies and cream ice cream, topped with cookie crumbles and cool whip. No wonder they are all still awake!!

Luckily they got ready for bed soon after and climbed into the tent to tell stories and play with their flashlights and glow sticks, since they are just now starting to be quiet, close to midnight.

I think they’re all having fun, and I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a fun birthday idea. All the kids, including my oldest are having fun just being boys.

Life is good.

Happy early birthday, Charlie. I’m so thankful that we get to celebrate wonderful you. xoxo