Day 22: Summer


We celebrated my oldest’ birthday today, and I enjoyed watching him do all the things he chose and seeing him have fun. What he wanted most today was to hang out with family and friends, and to have red velvet cake. 🙂

Simple dreams come true.

I love being his mom, and I am thankful for another year together.

What are you celebrating this month?  Make it good!! xo

My New “Daughter”

I feel like I have another child, in a good way.

Akie has become part of our family now. She is comfortable asking for what she wants and shares in our activities.  She is loving and kind and polite and I adore her.

Today when I picked my girls up from school (I always wanted Juliana to have a sister!), they both wanted to go to a birthday party for their Japanese friend at the park.

We have a google group between the parents of host families and I had read about the party invitation from the host mom this morning. She was bringing chocolate cake and drinks and all were invited to attend. I was happy for our family to be part of the celebration and so we brought a gift and some food to share and off we went.  I love kids of all ages. I especially loved walking up to the park and seeing small Japanese children under the age of 5, playing with and teasing our students. At first, I wondered if they were siblings of one of the host families. I quickly realized that there were young, Japanese moms playing with their little kids at the park, and the little kids made a connection with our “real” Japanese teenagers. There was a natural connection for them and the little kids and big kids were all playing and having fun together, chasing and tagging and running around together. I loved this moment and realized that there is a natural comfort in the familiar that we all share.

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We sang “Happy Birthday” and the birthday girl blew out her candles. I hope she enjoyed celebrating with us today as much as we did celebrating with her.

After the birthday party, I dropped off Charlie at his practice and brought the girls to Daiso, so that Akie could compare the Daiso in Cupertino to the Daiso in Japan. They were both relatively the same, of course. We also drove by the Apple Headquarters campus that is being built and tried to use English words to describe headquarters.  What words would you use? I think she understood.

Tonight I decided I didn’t want to cook and clean again, especially because we had a very busy day. I hosted a tea party for several friends this morning and had been busy all day, with no time to cook. We decided to go out for American fast food at Taco Bell, instead of eating left overs. She picked what looked good from the picture menu displayed and we ordered a couple other things for her to try. She really liked her steak burrito and the nachos. She tried the mild sauce and it was pretty spicy for her. This is why we chose Taco Bell over Chipotle, because she doesn’t care for spicy food. It was fun to see Taco Bell through the eyes of someone new. Even the girl working behind the counter was intrigued by our new “daughter.”

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The girl behind the counter came over to my side of the counter to ask me a question. She wanted to know if she could give Akie a hug, because she had never met a Japanese girl before and she was so curious and happy to see her. I told her that in Japan, there isn’t a lot of hugging and kissing and that this would be uncomfortable for her.  Having a stranger ask for a hug would be weird in any culture, but I could tell that she genuinely was wanting to see her and connect with her. As we ate, I told Akie about the strange request. As we left the establishment, I introduced Akie to the girl and they bowed to one another. This was a really cool moment. I wish you could have seen it. Love sees no color.

Today was busy and rewarding. I learned a lot again, even in Taco Bell.

How was your day?

Painting with Friends

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Before I hurry off to sleep, I wanted to share the highlights from the painting nite party I attended with my friends.

Jessica is my BFF from my hometown and we were celebrating her birthday tonight. The best gifts are shared experiences and creating memories together. Thanks for choosing a great way to celebrate wonderful you, Jess and including us!

If you’ve never done this before, there are organizations that bring friends together and provide all the supplies and a coach to help you be a master painter for the evening. Tonight we met up in Mountain View at a restaurant and painted a nature scene. There was music playing, food and drinks and a very funny instructor who helped us all leave our fears behind. It was fun to start with a blank canvas and to build on the different layers. I also enjoyed watching the other artists’ interpretations of the same idea and how different all of our pieces turned out. Everyone was so creative.

Life is Good!! Happy birthday, Jessica!! And many more. xoxo

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We are THaT Family

We are perfectly imperfect with quirks and craziness, wrapped in laughter and unconditional love.

My sister said it best, summarizing our night after our dad’s birthday party:

“This is my family. It may not always be perfect, but it’s my perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. This family knows and exhibits what unconditional love is all about….We have all had our trials in life, and each member of this beautiful family has held each other up and has been the foundation for our strength since it began. ”

We always come together to celebrate life’s good moments, and to lift each other up during challenging times. We laugh and tease and argue and work together and play and best of all just love each other.

This love reaches out to our extended family and friends. We had probably 100 guests at the party and many more who couldn’t make it. I loved seeing everyone there and sharing stories throughout the evening, and missed those who couldn’t make it.

I loved getting ready for the party, almost as much as I enjoyed the party.

I loved making the flower arrangements with my sister and cousin and my kids. I loved seeing my boys work with my dad to assemble his new Traeger and then to hang out by the smoker with the guys as the tri-tips were prepared for the party. I loved that my other sister took all the kids to her house while we were getting ready for the party so the house could stay neat and the cousins could have cousin time. I love that I got to go shopping with my mom to pickup all the food for the gathering. I love that my brother and his wife made home made chicken taquitos, guacamole and salsa that we all devoured around the table. And I especially loved how happy my dad was with his special night.

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Happy birthday Pops and thanks for having another birthday so we could celebrate you! Thank you for being you and for all you do to spread love and cheer!! You are loved!!

Life is good.

I know not all families are perfect and I hope you get to celebrate life’s moments with your loved ones too.

Namaste.

Birthday in Berkeley and Views of San Francisco

We celebrated our friend Christine’s 40th birthday today in Berkeley. It was nice to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in awhile and to hear and share stories of work, travel, literature, and new babies. I got my baby fix, holding C & A’s beautiful little one and watching Juliana hold an itty bitty little one. My favorite photo from the party was of two children ponied up to the bar, chatting away with the bartender. So innocent and cute, and don’t you love the bar sign all lit up?
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After the early afternoon party, we walked around the town a bit and then headed over the old Bay Bridge, paying our $5 weekend toll to experience probably our last ride over it before they open the new span next month.

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I never get tired of he views of and through the city. We spotted a cargo ship that might be carrying our container from Holland. It is scheduled for arrival today in the Oakland port. Let’s just hope one of them is ours. I’m really ready to resettle all the way back into my cozy nest.
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Jeff is so good about navigating through the city. We decided to drive over to the west side for an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Thanh Long, for garlic noodles and roasted crab. I kept taking pictures along the way and texting them to Tricia, reminding her of our city and where she used to live…I wish she still lived close by!!

20130817-214241.jpgNaked men in the Castro, again.
20130817-214357.jpgfog in Twin Peaks

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After dinner, We walked a block to our car. I needed my beach fix, so we then drove along Ocean Beach and up to Land’s End to soak up the sun and incredible views on a remarkably warm day.

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20130817-214734.jpgFlowers along the walk…I love walking, as you see so many more details than when you’re driving.

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We drove by Fort Funston and along Highway 1 into Petaluma and Moss Landing and through the new tunnel that is now open near Devils Slide. I had not been through it yet and it gave us something new to experience. It’s amazing how foggy, wet and damp it was in this part of town. Coming back over the mountain, the sun was shining again, so we cut over through Woodside and saw an incredible sunset filled pink sky. Silicon Valley is a gorgeous place to live.

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I Am (almost) happy to be home again…

Life’s A Beach

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We made it to the beach today, my happy place. I loved the drive over highway 17 and through the mountains and down the other side. I was expecting fog, but the sun had already broken through by 11 am when we arrived.

We caravanned down with three other vans full of kids for a 14th co-ed birthday party. There were 16 kids and 4 adults.

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We spent the entire day together, just chatting, watching the kids and soaking up the sun. I think I loved it just as much they did.

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Kelly and Kate ordered Subway sandwiches for everyone and brought snacks, drinks and cupcakes for dessert to celebrate their children’s birthdays. I so appreciated how easy they made everything look. They thought of everything and were so relaxed. The kids had boogie boards and beach balls and had a blast being in the water together.

The water was a bit too cold for me, but I did at least stick my feet in. I couldn’t bring my paddle board as I still don’t have a car to transport it. Hopefully next week I will.

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Kelly and Kate were also very diligent about keeping eyes on the kids at all times, making sure we had an active head count knowing who was where. The lifeguard came down to tell the kids about rip currants and safety. It was nice to know there was an extra set of eyes watching over our large party. And the kids were all such good, kind, considerate kids. I loved watching them all interact, especially when they all agreed to put on their party hats. They haven’t become too cool just yet!!

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Life is good.

Where is your favorite place to be?

Day 326: Today is My Birthday!!

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I Am Happy!

I love birthdays! I love mine and yours and celebrating life. I love the songs and presents and decorations. I love the attention and the meaning of birthdays, and bringing people together.  I love chocolate cake and ice cream and blowing out candles, as long as I don’t think of spit flying out on the cake when you blow!!  I am so thankful every time another milestone comes and have no problem with getting older, except I don’t really like the wrinkles and gray hairs that serve as receipts for the aging process. I’d just as well skip the receipt!!

Today is my birthday and Father’s Day and I was lucky enough to celebrate it in Amsterdam with my family and friends, out on the water. Nothing makes me happier than being on the water, in the sunshine and being with loved ones. Thanks, Kurt and Ali for sharing your boat and day with us. And thank you Blythe for my cool card and delicious birthday cupcakes. You made my day!

I Am truly blessed and am filled with gratitude for the 40+ years of my life! It just keeps getting better! Thanks mom and dad for giving me life. Thank you to all of my friends, family, teachers, mentors and acquaintances who have connected with me and made my life more meaningful.

My birthday wish is to share with you peace, love and happiness. Namaste.

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Char and I went for a bike ride with the Bakfiets this morning and found a fun, new little park.

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My “twin” boys enjoying each other on the tram ride into the city. I love when they get along.

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I love Amsterdam!

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Beautiful Amsterdam from the Prinsengracht

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My honeys making our birthday/father’s day dinner. Juliana picked the menu and Jeff helped her while I got to lay on the couch. Thanks, guys!! The best part was not thinking of what to eat/cook and hearing Juliana say she understands how much work it takes to get a family meal on the table. Love her. Love this life. Loved the dinner! xoxo Thank you!!