Thousand Oaks

 I love it here and just being with family and friends.

Today I enjoyed family time getting coffees, and having our nails done, while the boys went to see Star Wars. We did a little shopping and ate shared nachos for a late lunch. 

My cousins came over to visit and my mama made dinner for us, sending food home with them. This is one of her many gifts that everyone appreciates.

Afterwards, we played Telestrations together at the table and laughed our heads off.  If you’re looking for a fun game for all ages, this is it!

This picture was of a milk man. My dad is such a funny artist. This one made us laugh so hard.

Life is good in T.O.!


California – I Love You

Have I told you how much I love California? I absolutely love this place. There is so much to see and do and explore in this beautiful state. I think this is my favorite place on earth.

This weekend we drove from Northern California to Southern California. It takes 5 1/2 hours to drive from my house in the Bay Area to my family home in Thousand Oaks along Highway 101. People in SoCal refer to the highway as THE 101, but NorCal folks prefer to leave out THE article and just call it 101.

Before we left Thousand Oaks, the kids all enjoyed swimming in Irma’s pool with our adopted family.


I loved the feeling of being together and in the water and the sunshine. Christian also enjoyed going for a bike ride with his expat friend from Korea. We kept procrastinating leaving, as goodbyes are never fun.


One of a Thousand Oaks.

I wanted to leave early enough so that we could stop in my favorite city along the way.

San Luis Obispo is where I graduated from college and I absolutely love this college town. I hope we have a home here one day. This is my favorite place because people seem to be so happy. There is a peaceful, zen feeling in SLO town and I want to live where the pace of life is SLO and simple, with natural beauty surrounding you everywhere.

We arrived in time to stop for dinner at Firestone Grill on Higuera Street and sat outside on the patio with the sun still shining. The air was cool enough for light sweatshirts.

Afterwards, we strolled down town and the kids stopped in the candy store, Rocket Fizz to pick out some fun candy and Jeff stopped in the adult beverage store to pick up some fun brews that Steve told him about – Tap It, a new microbrew from SLO. We also had to walk down Bubble Gum alley for the smell of Cal Poly nostalgia.


Continuing on our journey, I actually appreciated the sun shining on my face and the wide open spaces and rolling hills. Jeff always appreciates the fog rolling over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the Pacific Ocean.

Our new minivan is like flying first class. The kids enjoyed their music and DVDs with headphones, Jeff loved XM radio and listening to classic hits, and I loved playing Candy Crush, perusing Facebook, texting my sisters and reading magazines.

It’s good to be home in California again.

I am happy.

Day 31: Going Home

Avila Bay from HWY101N

We are on our way back home, driving up “the” 101. Home has been so many places and and I’m glad that my kids will get to experience a new home soon.

San Luis Obispo – our future home?!?

I think moving will be so good for us. It’ll help the kids to be more comfortable with change and to adapt to new environments, especially when it comes time for college. They are going to get practice making new friends, trying new foods, speaking another language, going to a new school, and establishing new routines.

My little travelers have done pretty well on all our trips for vacations and visiting family in different time zones, sleeping in strange places that I think they are becoming adaptable. I hope they are getting practice for the big move!

Sleepy Dutch Traveler

Day 32: Pool Time


Summer to me means being at the pool or at the beach. Growing up, that’s what we did as a family and with friends and it was free and enjoyable and everyone had fun, kids and adults.

Today we had a party at the pool with cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and sisters and brothers and grandparents. Kimmy did such a great job with the food and bringing us all together so that we could have an after party from the wedding and a going away party for my family. We had chips and dip and beer and sodas and chocolate cake.

To see everyone interacting and playing together as a big group was such a joy. We had the oldest and youngest grandchildren together. The kids had chicken fights in the pool and threw each other in. I found myself taking lots of pictures and touching everyone, and looking at each one a little longer than usual. I was soaking them all in, feeling how much love I have for my family and friends and enjoying the gifts they share by just being.


I don’t care what we’re doing, or how weird we are or what quirks we bring. We are a family and we love each other and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. I’m thankful that my cousins spent all day with us and stayed an extra day just so we could be together. Families and relationships take time, effort and work, especially when we don’t all live close together anymore and today was just really cool. I love you guys.

***In the spirit of family and community, I just want to take a moment to think about and pray for the Yamada family who lost their dad and husband yesterday way too early. My heart breaks for them and wishes them strength as they go through this tough time. And tomorrow marks a year that the Kilgore family lost their dad and husband tragically. Wishing your families peace and love.

Day 33: Enjoying Family


We are in my home town of Thousand Oaks this week to be with family.

Yesterday, Jeff and I and the kids drove down to be here for my cousin’s wedding today.

The good thing is that we dropped the kids off with their cousins and Aunties and Oma and Opa and then we got to sneak away for a night alone for our anniversary. The kids were happy and we enjoyed the respite, even if it was just for a night!
Breakfast at the Westlake Village Inn

And then today we celebrated my parents 44th anniversary and my cousin Dani’s wedding in Malibu on the beach! The weather was perfect – not too hot and not too cold.

We all had fun together, just being a family. I’m glad we took the time to drive down even with our crazy schedule.




Day 55 – I Love Sunnyvale!

Where do you consider home?  

For so many years I longed to move home – to Thousand Oaks, where I grew up and where my extended family lives.  And then finally in 2002 I realized, home was no longer in Thousand Oaks and I needed to accept that we weren’t moving and that Sunnyvale was my home.  It’s now 2012 – and Sunnyvale is our home. We have roots here and family we created for ourselves. When my T.O. family comes to visit, we are blended with my Sunnyvale family. My friends and family in Sunnyvale all know my family from T.O. and we share dinners and celebrations and vacations together.  

My community is here – it’s where we hang out – from visiting with families and friends at our close-knit elementary school – Ponderosa, to hanging out at the baseball and soccer fields with families and friends from our team and teams from the past, to our church family, and PEO family, and tennis and Kona Kai friends, and neighbors, and Las Madres and Bunco/ Carmel moms, Mandarin speaking friends, and PELC preschool friends. It’s home now – we have roots here and depth and relationships that have grown over the years of being together. I love Sunnyvale.

Today was a day filled with celebrations. My parents were here to celebrate J’s graduation from elementary school. April was there too. We shared in her special day and were proud of not only her but her classmates and their families. Most of us have been together since Kindergarten and I felt pride seeing all these kids grow up together. We took pictures of J with her friend from PELC who used to carpool together and now they are off to middle school. I wonder if they’ll still be friends and together in high school when we come back.

I’m excited for our adventure, which feels more like an extended vacation because we plan to come back home again. We know we’ll still have our family and friends here and hopefully expand our circle with new international friends as well. And our home will be where we are – engaged with our community. Hopefully you’ll come over for coffee and still visit us wherever we are.  I’ll put the kettle on for you.  xo


Pezzella’s is a family run, Italian restaurant in Sunnyvale. We met the family at PELC many years ago and this is J’s favorite restaurant.


April and Me and J


Oma and Opa and J


Baseball friends – the best part of watching the game!!  

Did you know that Sunnyvale and Thousand Oaks are two of the top 10 cities in the Nation to raise your kids? How cool is that?