Monday, June 26, 2006

Off to Europe

Lindsey and I are leaving Thursday with 17 wonderful high school students from the bay area to travel for 3 weeks in France, Italy, and Malta.

The organization we are going with is called People to People. It was started back in 1956 by Pres. Eisenhowser. I was hired on in November and began meeting with the delegates in January. Lindsey was added on in...I think it was February.

We've been having meetings in the bay area for nearly 6 months. In that time, we lost a few delegates for various reasons, but 17 have stayed with it. Lindsey and I have grown so attached to them and feel very blessed to have this opportunity to travel with them. This is an educational trip, with the delegates earning high school credit and the opportunity to earn college credit. They've had to give cultural presentations in our meetings...and keep a journal on various topics.

Our first stop will be Paris. We'll also visit Versailles, Lyons, and the French Riveria - all in France. We'll then go to Monaco and then on to Italy. In Italy, we'll visit Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Naples. In Sicily, we'll visit Palermo and other cities...then we'll be off to Malta. In Malta, we'll be staying with host families to experience what daily life in the Mediterranean is like. There we'll visit Valletta, Mdina, and cruise to the small island of Comino where we'll swim in the Blue Lagoon!

Hopefully I'll be able to post to this blog...or to while we're traveling. Keep tuned in....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

One of Life's Milestones

There are certain milestones in a person's life. Some may be more important than others in the long run, but whenever one's huge!

Today a milestone in Thalia's life happened...she learned to ride her bike! Oh my gosh, she was SO was I! We went down to the middle school to begin to learn how to ride. We thought starting on grass, even though it would be slower, would not be quite so scary in case she fell. She got on her bike, I held on to the seat and the handle bar and told her to PEDDLE! She did...until she would forget. After a while I would barely let go of the seat and tell her she had been doing it a little on her own. She was excited.

After a while, I had her just sit on the bike and life her feet up - just to feel herself balanced. Now this was fun! A little confidence was gained...then we started off again...her peddling, me running along beside. Well, it wasn't long before she REALLY did ride a little ways...more confidence...ride a little longer...confidence growing....

Twenty or so minutes into this, she rode about 40 feet. When she realized how far she had ridden, she stopped, and SCREAMED "MIMI I RODE MY BIKE!!!!" The adrenaline was pumping...two more times she rode a good distance...maybe 50 YARDS all by herself. The grin on her face went from ear to ear. "LET'S GO GET JOSH, MIMI."

Off we went...walking the bike back to the house. Thalia was SO EXCITED to tell Josh she had ridden the bike! We got him and headed back to the middle school.

Now Mimis and Dads are different. Josh wanted to know
if she could steer...well, not exactly I said...we were just working on balance, on riding in general. Why was she riding on the grass and not the blacktop...well, the grass is softer. Josh just shook his head and told Thalia to come on over to the black top. Well, she did GREAT...she rode just fine on the blacktop...and when he told her to turn and steer, she did just great again. Um???

The next obstacle was starting on her own. My solution? Just help her until she builds some more confidence. Joshua's solution? Teach her now. He taught her in minutes. She still has a little trouble starting...but she can. She and I went riding today...I might have helped her just a little!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Day with Mimi and Josh - by Thalia

a day with mimi and josh...once mimi josh and i went to the fern canyon. mimi and i climbed a huge broken tree trunk.we sall lots of difrint birds. mimi told me you can kiss a slug. after i kissed the slug my mouth got so sticky. josh had to wipe it with his shirt. after he wiped it with his shirt then his shirt got all sticky. but the slug that i kissed was green. that day when we went there it was hot. when we climbed the tree trunk josh took a picture of mimi and i sitting on the tree trunk.

today mimi josh and i went to go ride modos. we went by the beach. josh took us on a lot of hills. when we went on the hills it was sceary at first but then we got yust to it . when we got yust to it then it was more fun than it was.

Mimi and Thalia on the modos!

A Day with Thalia

Life is fun with a 6-year old! Today I played with Thalia all day. She started off by coming in about 7:30 a.m. "Good Morning, Mimi!" with a sweet kiss. I pulled the covers back so she could climb into bed with me...sometime a little later she was up and gone.

Once we were up and moving around, Thalia was ready for a fun game of CANDYLAND! Thalia won twice and I (Mimi) won once. After that, Thalia, Joshua, and I got ready to go ride the "modos"...aka 4-wheelers. It was patchy fog when we started...but quickly turned into an absolutely beautiful day. Thalia has all the gear...she has her own 4-wheeler, plus all the 'stuff'...helmet, chest protector, gloves, special pants and shirt...she looks the part! The hardest part for Thalia riding is her THUMB! Her thumb starts to hurt from holding in the throttle so much. But we rode. This was a breakthrough for me because I finally learned how to really ride a "modo". I even got it into 3rd gear!

Thalia loves to DRAW. She is incredibly talented...our refrigerator now is the proud owner of 3 Thalia Originals! After some intense modo riding, she drew. She doesn't need anything fancy...just any ole paper will do. Actually, on the way home from riding, she wanted to draw, couldn't find any paper, so she started drawing on her Starbucks paper cup from her morning hot chocolate!

Loving BUGS is another side of Thalia. Today she found lady bugs while we were riding, and 'rolly pollys' once we got back home. She decided the rolly polly was PREGNANT...and to top it off, the PREGNANT ROLLY POLLY had her babies in Thalia's hand! Um? This entertained her for quite a long time.

Thalia LOVES to talk on the telephone. So she called her MOM. She told her all about the BUGS. Erica must have been asking Thalia how to spell certain words, because Thalia was just spelling and spelling words. She would look at me to help her spell, then tell her mom that she hadn't had any help at all!

For dinner we had CRAB! Now CRAB is Joshua's all time favorite food. He LOVES CRAB. MARVIN loves crab, of course, since Marvin is part of our family, he came over to see Joshua and Thalia and to eat crab with us. Thalia decided she didn't like crab so she wanted a SANDWICH. Being the doting Mimi that I love to be, I made her a sandwich. But being a 6-year old, she decided she wanted crab. So Joshua and I picked her some.

Speaking of crab, there are two main ways to eat it. One is what I would think is the usual way...pick a little, eat a little, pick a little, eat a little. Well, not MARVIN...he picks the WHOLE crab, then sits back and enjoys it. I don't think I could do that. If Marvin wasn't 92, we'd probably try to distract him and steal all his picked crab.

Thalia also loves to play on the computer. She came up here to play games on the Nickelodeon website. She did that a while and now wants to type on this here comes Thalia!....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Visiting Northern California

There can't be too many places more beautiful than northern California. When my nephew, Addison, and his girlfriend, Kasi, came out in May - Ron and I showed them all around. Addison had been here before - when he was a little guy, but Kasi had never been to California at all. Here's some of what they saw.

We started in San Francisco...a perfect place to start. Fisherman's wharf is a huge tourist place...but that's what we were. Addison bought a magnet for Saddie...we took pictures with Alcatraz in the background, and of course, we laughed at the antics of the famous sea lions.

Lombard Street is a top tourist spot. We walked UPHILL to walk DOWN Lombard! We also visited Ghiradelli Square. Kasi wanted to buy CHOCOLATE for her Mom...I, of course, bought DARK very favorite. That night, we - along with 100,000 other people, went to a free Los Lonely Boys concert at Pier 30 and 32. It was a bit cold. That was all on the first Saturday. Sunday, we met Lindsey and Donnie at THE ballpark to see if Barry Bonds would hit THE BIG ONE...he didn't. But it was fun to see the Giant's play.
From all the beauty of San Francisco, the city by the bay, we ventured north, to the unbelievable natural beauty of the north coast.

Addison and Kasi took a bike ride to Clam Beach. I don't think they found any clams, but they took some great photos.
Later in the day, we were off to Lady Bird Johnson Grove. That is ONE beautiful stand of redwood trees. There is a loop trail, can't remember how far - maybe a mile or a little more - that winds through a beautiful redwood forest. Addison reverted back to his little boy days and he climbed - or attempted to climb - trees. He hid in burned trees and even went off to do his know how little boys like to mark their spot...
On Tuesday, Addison and Kasi went out with Ron in the WOODS! They looked for a BEAR...but no bear wanted to be seen. In the afternoon, we were off to Fern Canyon. Once again the little boy Addison emerged...climbing, climbing, and playing with his stick. Kasi and I took a lot of photographs. She did her fair share of climbing too.
Patrick's Point,which includes Agate Beach and Sumeg Village, was the order of the day for Wednesday. Kasi filled me in on Addison's climbing. Apparently he got STUCK on top of a BIG rock...I think it was near Wedding Rock, and Kasi had to help him down. My brother doesn't want me to talk about Wedding I won't. On the left is a view from Wedding Rock. On the right, is looking down on Agate Beach.

Thursday we were back down to Gabe and Emily's. It was late when we arrived, so Friday was the big day. Addison, Kasi and I went back to San Francisco to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. We rented bicycles from BLAZING SADDLES! We rode the bikes from Fisherman's Wharf, across the Golden Gate Bridge, to the town of Sausalito. We ate lunch and then caught the ferry back to San Francisco. Back to Gabe's we went...

Saturday was a big day. We again met Lindsey and Donnie and went to Alcatraz. That place was amazing! From there, we rode the CABLE CARS up to CHINATOWN. We ate lunch at the HOUSE OF NANKING...well, we all ate except for Addison. He wasn't too fond of Chinatown's Chinese after we said our good-byes, Donnie and Lindsey took him to another great California establishment...IN 'N OUT BURGER!
We had a great 9 days with Addison and Kasi...Sami thinks "it's not fair" since she didn't get to come. Well Sami, here's your invitation! Here's the group for the 9 days: Judy & Ron, Addison & Kasi, Gabrial & Emily, Donnie & Lindsey

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Being Neighborly

Marvin is our neighbor...our 92 year old neighbor. We have other neighbors, but Marvin is the best.

We first met Marvin and Nell when we were building our houses. Well, we weren't building them, but Harry was. Harry would work on something in our house, then run across the cul-de-sac and work on Marvin and Nells...and so it went. We became close as time went by...we had one set of neighbors move (Carol and Dennis) and one set of neighbors died (Dorothy Jean and Don)... the rest of us have been steady. The newest people in the neighborhood have been here at least 10 years! John and Cheryl have been here nearly as long as us. We feed their animals and they feed Eskie when either of us are gone. It's the neighborly way to live...we love it!

A little over two years ago, Nell died of lung cancer. We were all devastated when she got sick and heartbroken over her passing...and Marvin being alone. They were best friends...I think they had been married 57 years? That's when we discovered the sweetest meaning of being neighborly. We started having Marvin over as often as we could...usually once or twice a week. We average about once a week now. We started this to try and lift his spirits, to keep him from being so lonely, to make sure he had some good meals. Well, we became the recipients, not the givers. We learned to stop...stop, relax, and spend some good ole sitting-around-visiting time with a neighbor. Marvin, Judy, and Ron

We have grown into a sort of routine. Marvin comes over about 5:30 and has a beer and nuts/trail mix with Ron. I'm usually finishing up dinner. We all just hang out around the kitchen visiting...catching up on each others families. Around 6 - 6:30, we eat dinner. Marvin is a guinea pig, along with Ron, for all my new recipes from Cooking Light. He doesn't seem to mind...he just isn't crazy about squash. Actually tonight he told me he wasn't too crazy about polenta either.

After dinner, out comes the CRIBBAGE BOARD. Now Marvin is THE master of cribbage. He can count cards before I can even notice which cards are there, much less count them! We usually play 3 games. Marvin use to always win...and Ron would win a respectable amount. Every once in a while I'd win a game, but not often. I recently was on a streak...that felt exhilarating! The last two times, we've each won one.
Ron likes lots of toppings on his ice cream...Marvin says he's just "plain vanilla". They both love oatmeal cookies!

Marvin also really enjoys Camilla...and Camilla enjoys Marvin. Camilla's cancer fight has touched Marvin, probably because of Nell's fight, and also because he just adores her. We've had some game nights,- Marvin, Camilla, Ron and I,- around the fireplace...of course, Camilla usually wins. It is a rare night with Marvin that he doesn't ask about Camilla.

Ron and I have adopted Marvin as part of our family. When Joshua came home from Iraq and we had a big crab feed for him, Marvin was here. He's also a fellow Marine! My buddy, Jake, and her husband Jim (also a fellow Marine) and my buddy Terri (as in the Terri who drives the boat) and her husband Hollis (another fellow Marine)were also here for the crab feed. As a matter of fact, Jim caught the crab and Jake cooked the crab...and they brought it over for us all to celebrate Joshua's return.
Jim, Joshua, Hollis, and Marvin...all Marines

That's being neighborly!

Monday, June 05, 2006


In the summer before Lindsey went into third grade,her friend Katie's cat had kittens. I had lived my entire life not liking cats at all...I was allergic to them, I felt they were sneaky, and I just didn't like cats. Lindsey and Katie set out that summer to change that view.

Lindsey called me from Katie's one day to ask if she could bring this kitty up for me to see. "No," was my answer. Lindsey pleaded...I stuck to my answer. After a while, maybe the next day?...Katie called to just let me know that Lindsey had been crying a lot because she REALLY wanted me to see this kitty and she REALLY wanted it. After some coaxing, I agreed. OH MY GOSH! It was THE most gorgeous kitty...white/grey with these huge blue eyes. To make a long story short, Lindsey got to keep the kitty, but I insisted...IT WILL NOT BE IN THE HOUSE. Um? Did I say that? Well, I called one of my girlfriends, Elaine. Now Elaine can get a bit excited. She came over and was GIDDY over this kitty. She wanted to be the one to buy him a litter box and litter...which she did. Then, here's the truly Elaine part...the kitty went to the bathroom in the litter box! Elaine was absolutely cheering him on! Yep, that's my friend, Elaine!

The Kitty became Eskie...short for Eskimo. Now it is 17 years later and Eskie is one of the loves of my life. I love that cat and cannot imagine life without him.

Our refrigerator now not only has pictures of people, but it has pictures of CATS! Eskie is there, of course. But then so is Fluffball, Smores, Cookie, and Embers. There's one cat not on the refrigerator yet, and that's Pumpkin.

Lindsey and Donnie don't have children, they have Fluffball! Fluffy is a bit spoiled, he's their baby. Two years ago, they carried him along in a backpack when they went on a trip for their first wedding anniversary. Now he's big and black and vocal. By the way, that's Donnie with Fluffball on his head!

Smores was originally Emily's cat. After she and Gabe married, Smores acquired a Daddy! They don't have children either, they don't have room for babies because they have three cats! Cookie was their second kitty...and he's ADORABLE. Cookie will let you hold and pet him..but he is jealous of Pumpkin! Pumpkin was adopted, I suppose, when Gabe and Emily moved into their house. Poor Pumpkin had been abandoned. Pumpkin is sneaky...he sneaks into the house whenever no one is looking. Pumpkin walks around on high heels all the time, or at least that's what it looks like.

Embers, is Camilla's cat. She had wanted a kitty for a long time, and then when she got leukemia, she sweet-talked her folks into letting her have a kitty. Embers and Pumpkin look a lot alike, but Embers doesn't wear high heels.

Now there's Joshua, Erica, and Thalia. They don't have cats, not a single one. They have two HUGE dogs...and a fish!

We can't forget about grey kitty and yellow kitty...but they didn't make the refrigerator.