Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Around the blog-o-sphere lately, many of the writers whose blogs I subscribe to have been celebrating birthdays. Kate just turned 25, AJ just turned 30, Annie turned 36. Babies! In the spirit of competition, or one-ups-manship (how do you spell that?), let me just say this. My youngest son, my baby, turned 30 last week.

How can this be? How did this sweet boy…No really, how did this sweet boy…

That’s better. So how did this sweet little boy…

Become this man…?

And how did this young mom…

Become this, um, not so young mom…

I am having a bit of a hard time with this. All this time, I’ve been convincing myself that I’m just barely over 30 myself. I read these blogs written by these young women, and I relate to their lives, not as a mom, but as a fellow human, fellow woman, fellow vegan.  Then, this damn birthday comes along and smashes my illusions all to hell.

Actually, I’m just whining. I’m really happy with where I am in my life. I love my life, my husband, my sons, my dogs, and really wouldn’t want to go back. I look and feel good (please, Debbie, don’t add ‘for my age,’ even in your mind!). I run, I ride, I work, I…well, you get the idea. I have two wonderful sons, two darling grandsons, a teenage granddaughter.

So, why is this so hard?

I think it is because 30 is such a meaningful age. Turning 30 means that you are supposed to be an adult. You should have your life in order, your education complete, your career underway, your family planned. You are no longer a child. So, when you are the parent of someone turning 30, it’s like the double whammy to beat them all.

I am finished having my little pity party now. Happy Birthday, David.


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As I mentioned last month, Alan wanted to take his grandsons to Disneyland to celebrate his (Alan’s) birthday last weekend. As I also mentioned, after searching for deals on the internet and not finding any, we had a choice between going to Disneyland and paying $288 admission, or going to Knott’s Berry Farm, which had all kinds of discounts available, for $102. Not too tough a choice. Sorry Mickey.

Being vegan, I also had some other research to do. Amusement parks aren’t known for their healthy food, so I figured that my chances were slim to none that I’d find any options at Knott’s. They do not allow you to bring in your own food. I started by posting on their facebook page:

After deciphering Stephanie’s post, I thought that she had the best idea. I did check out TGIF and Johnny Rocket’s on-line menus, and although Johnny Rocket’s did have a veggie burger available, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that it would be vegan. And TGIF is hopeless, unless you choose to eat lettuce.

Then last Friday, I received this message on Facebook:

You may note that this message was dated May 10. Well, Facebook notifications had been whacko all week, and I didn’t receive the message until Friday evening. I replied back, but had a feeling that Willie was probably off for the weekend. Oh well, I figured I could tell Guest Services, or if necessary, flash them the message on my phone’s facebook app. We were good to go, food-wise.

Our plan was to drive to Huntington Beach early on Saturday afternoon. The boys had a baseball game at 5:00 that we were looking forward to watching. If you’ve never seen six year old boys (and one girl!) play baseball, you should put it on your bucket list. Seriously, it is so much fun. They are so joyous about the play, they are just starting to learn their skills (and the rules), and, unlike the professional pitchers’ games of today, there is a whole lot of scoring. Some scenes from the game:

Last year was T-Ball, this year the coach pitches (this coach is Alan's son)

Batter Up!

Players rotate positions each inning. That's our grandson the catcher

Base hit!

Action shot...check out his mouth as the ball gets closer.

Another hit. Must be that batting glove.

Grandson on the mound!

See dad? There's some hustle here!

I just love this pose.

He lost the other front tooth a little later during the game.

Sometimes it's hard to pay attention when there is so much going on all around you.

Ready for action.

Sunday morning brought clouds, rain, and cold. Alan and I took a run along the coast and I never felt like I warmed up. I hoped that the rain would pass, but long experience told me that a rainy day is really the best day to go to an amusement park. It keeps the crowds away. But, just not pouring, please.

After checking Knott’s website the evening before, we had one worry. The height requirement for most of the ‘cool’ rides was 48″. We lined the boys up (every family has a place on the wall for measuring, right?). They are fraternal twins, remember. One boy made it easy, 49″. Uh oh, his brother just barely hit 46.5″.  We had to hope that they weren’t too picky about measurements.

As we parked our car on Sunday morning, the clouds cleared, the sun shined, it was a beautiful day. We had decided on a food plan. On the way in, we had stopped at Mother’s Market, which has a wonderful deli with a huge selection of vegan salads, entrees, pizza, and more, and picked up enough for lunch. We decided to leave it in the car instead of hauling it around the park all day. I figured we’d be ready for a break in the action at lunchtime, we could head back to the car, drop off any extra clothing, eat our food, then head back to the fun. Which is exactly what we did, and it was perfect.

We  walked into the park with our eyes skyward, checking out the rides. The first one we chose, La Revolucion, had one of those 48″ limits. We decided to try our luck, but unfortunately, when we reached the front, were were told that our smaller twin would not be able to go on the ride. We decided that Alan would ride with the taller twin:

I felt so bad that we couldn't go on the ride. I promised that we'd go back next year, when he would be tall enough.

Click on the pic and you'll see Alan's feet. Way up there and upside down!

After that, we tried one more ride with the 48″ limit, but when that was a no go, we restricted our rides to the ones which we could all ride (the map had the height limits). This is not to say we didn’t have a great time. The boys won a Big Bird stuffed toy at a baseball toss (see, it paid off already!). We rode the log ride (twice!), several of the faster rides in Camp Snoopy, the Calico Mine ride, where I took my final picture. After that, I dropped my camera (on a wooden floor!), and, well, it died.

One of the rides that we check out early because we would all be able to ride, was the Bigfoot Rapids. However, the sign said, “You will get wet. You may get drenched.” When we (the grown ups) saw that, we told them (the twins, who probably would have been happy to be wet the whole day), that, yes, we would ride that one, but it would be the last one of the day.

So, after a brief lunch break at the car, we headed back into Knott’s, where we caught the tail end of the Stunt Show. I was sorry that we’d missed most of it, because I remember it from years ago. Gunfighters, falling off buildings, shooting it out, all that western fun stuff.

The boys decided that they were ready for the Bigfoot Rapids. Even when we reminded them that it would be the last ride of the day, they said that they were ready. All I can say is, good thing it was the last ride. While the boys remained pretty dry, I got wet and Alan got soaked! I’ll also say that the Family Dryer, that costs $5, but seems like a good idea when you are soaking wet coming out of that ride, does not dry jeans. Nope, Alan pretty much had to be wet and cold all the way back to the house.

All in all, we had a really good time at Knott’s Berry Farm. It has great value, the rides are fun, I can’t wait until we go back with taller grandsons!

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In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to put some random thoughts about my mom into words…

My mom was the neighborhood mom. When we were young, my sisters and I, and all of our friends, played at our house because my mom was the mother they all wanted to have. She was fun without being overly permissive, she spent time with us without being smothering, you could tell her anything and she was never judgmental. Many of our friends also called her Mom.

My mom was a born teacher.  She was a substitute teacher when we were little, moved into Special Education, which was her special love. Her last job was teaching for the county, going to homes in the East Coachella Valley, working with the families of special needs children.

My mom was a born student. She loved to learn.  After years of extension courses, she earned her Masters in Special Education when she was in her 50s. She was always inquisitive and interested in other people. She had a special talent for learning foreign languages. I always thought this was because she was never worried if people laughed at her if she misspoke. She would plunge ahead, and eventually get it right.

My mom, who would have been 83 last week, was a feminist almost before there was such a word. She came from a family that included an aunt who was a Lutheran minister, a mother who was a pianist and teacher, a sister who was a singer and actress, and a father who encouraged women to have self-respect (and a career!).

My mom loved to sing and dance. She used music in her teaching, recording children’s music to play for her students. She discovered Jazzercise when she was in her sixties and became an enthusiastic participant.

My mom had the best laugh! When she let it loose, you could hear it for miles (well, almost)! Of course, as a teen I was embarrassed by such an open expression of happiness, but I sure wish I could hear it today.

My mom loved animals. We always had cats and dogs when I was a kid, plus a few hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice. She allowed me to keep the puppy that I sneaked home from Knott’s Berry Farm. When we moved to a ranch when I was a teenager, we added horses and goats to the menagerie.

My mom was a great grandma. She had three grandchildren, my two boys, Nathan and David, and my sister’s daughter, Brynne. She loved them, took care of them, and was there when they needed her. She helped me so much during my tough times, by making sure that my children always came first.

My mom was an amazing woman. Smart, funny, kind, caring. She took care of us all, me, my two sisters, my dad, our kids, our friends, her “special families.” When she died, in 1992, my sister Lisa and I put together a memorial service for her. Even knowing how she was loved, we were still shocked and gratified to see that the entire church was filled to standing room only with the many people who’s lives she had touched.

I know, in my random thoughts here, that I missed many special moments. I wrote a similar post last year. I hope that my friends and family who read this will add their own memories. Happy Mother’s Day, to my mom and to all.

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Yes, I know that we are over a month into it. And here in the desert it will soon (some will say already) feel a lot more like summer than spring.

But spring means starting over, refreshing, new, and that is how I feel right now. Winter in the desert means great weather (especially relative to the rest of the country), but it also means “the season.” “The Season” means Snowbirds. For those of us in service businesses, like personal training in my case, Snowbirds means “too busy to do much else besides work.”

So, the dawn of spring means the end of 10-12 hour days, relief from the horrendous traffic, the ability to walk in to places like restaurants, hair dressers, Starbucks, etc. without an appointment or reservation and not be turned away. Spring means, in a word, recovery. And, oh God, are we desert dwelling service providers ready for it. Quick, now, before we snap each others heads off!

Not yet, but soon

For me, personally, it means more time to play. Meaning running and riding my bike. Hurray! (gosh now what will I use for an excuse?)

May is still a wind-down month. Many Snowbirds are starting to leave, but many remain. A lot depends on the weather “back home.” Several of my clients will stay until June, so I can’t totally relax yet. But, I can feel it coming. The gym is quieter, the traffic is lighter. And we have the freedom to make plans. So, in addition to probably getting an extra day each of running and riding during the week, here is what is going on in May:

May 1st is my sister’s 45th birthday. This has nothing to do with spring or our plans (because she is in Texas), but I like to keep reminding her that she is catching up with me (hope you’re reading this, Lis!). edit: Whew, I got the card in the mail! Always a challenge for me.

The following Saturday, May 7, usually a riding day, is the Run for Ike. Ike was a police dog who was killed in the line of duty a couple weeks ago, saving his partner’s life as he gave his own.

Alan and I are volunteering, he as the announcer, me as, well, whatever they want me to do. Probably at registration and the finish line, since I’m good at that stuff. I’m not sure how many people will be there. This was put together pretty quickly, plus it’s probably going to be hot (another reason I was happy to volunteer instead of run)!

Friday the 13th is Alan’s birthday. That weekend we plan to take our six year old grandsons to Disneyland. Although I’m sure that Alan and I must have been there since we’ve been together (15 years!), the last time I remember is when my youngest son was six years old. He turns 30 in a couple weeks, so it’s been a while. A very long time for someone who basically grew up at Disneyland. We lived about 15 minutes away and it was cheap back then (about $10)! I like to say I spent my teenage years on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

On May 22, my lovely girlfriend who lives in the valley (that would be the San Fernando Valley for you non-LA types :-)), invited me to WorldFest 2011. She is the one who stayed and rode with me on our disastrous Tour de Palm Springs century. I can hardly express how excited I am about this. Just a bit of the description from their website (click through for more…but come back):

“The WorldFest 2011 Earth Day Festival will be held on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, from 10:30am to 7:00pm, at the beautiful outdoor setting of Woodley Park in Lake Balboa, CA. We will welcome our attendees to a magnificent day filled with entertainment, education and enlightenment. The combination of great music, empowering speakers, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare non-profits, kid’s activities and a delicious food court make for an earth-friendly experience that is sure to be inspiring and enjoyable for all.”

Seriously, I can hardly wait. I get to go to this very cool event, plus, best of all, I get to visit with a friend I don’t see too often. If we actually have time to ride together I may just faint from the excitement!

The last weekend of the month is Memorial Weekend. I have to work on Saturday, but I’ll have Monday off, so it should be a nice weekend. We haven’t made any plans yet, so maybe we’ll just chill out here in the desert (can a sentence be an oxymoron? If so, that is definitely one, because I’m sure it will be over 100 degrees by then). Even so, as much as we love traveling, we’re always happier at home with our dogs (and my vegan cooking!).

Spring is here!

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Well, I did it. I rode my bike. Yes, I know, my dear readers, that I’ve been writing about riding my bike for over two years now and that it is no big deal.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal. While I’ve been busy wimping out, a month had gone by. Yes, you read that right. More than a month, actually, my last ride was on December 11, 2010!
Last Saturday, I had no excuses. The weather was gorgeous in the desert (in most of Southern California, really). Alan and I were heading to Huntington Beach after the ride to visit family, so we wasted no time getting going. The great thing was, even at 7:00 in the morning, arm warmers were all that were needed. In January!
I felt much better that I’d expected. We only rode 26 miles, a little less than two hours, but it felt perfect.

V for Victory!

The weather at the coast was just as nice. We pulled into Huntington Beach shortly after 3:00. Alan headed straight out to the beach to meet his son and grandsons. After a lovely evening, we got up on Sunday anxious to run along the coast. Another beautiful day, a great six mile run. I felt so good, I even attempted to mix a little fartlek in my run.

Imagine. The weather in January was much nicer than the weather through most of last summer, when it was cold, damp, and overcast. After the run, we sat with the family in front of the house, just enjoying the sun.

What a nice weekend. Best of all, I’ve defeated the wimp inside me. Victory!

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>Now that we are two days into 2011, I decided to wrap up last month in pictures. I had a great Christmas (three celebrations, actually), spent time with family, ate lots of food, didn’t gain weight, took a little time off work, caught up on sleep, did not ride my bike enough, ran a little more than usual. That’s it in a nutshell, all in all, a good holiday. I didn’t feel much like writing, in fact, wondered if I should just give up this blog. But today I found myself planning posts as I was running, so I knew I was ready to get back to it. First, though, I’ll wrap up 2010 with some pictures from December.

Beautiful skies over La Quint in early December

Elvis blessing our Christmas Tree

A pink rainbow!

Huntington Beach on Christmas Eve

Gotta love So Cal in December!

I even have great views at work–sunrise over the tennis courts
Santa (who was younger than my son and hispanic) gave me a candy cane! My sis and I heard sirens right out in front of the house. When we went to see what was up, Santa was riding on the fire engine up and down the streets in La Quinta handing out candy canes to kids (like me!).

My niece, Brynne, at our 1st Christmas celebration on Dec. 20

My beautiful FLD Sarah (that’s Future Daughter-in-Law)I think this picture is actually from Thanksgiving, but she looks so cute I wanted to included it.

Our feast–90% vegan

(L-R) Brynne, Sarah, and my son, Nathan

The reason for our early celebration: It was when my sister Lisa and her husband, Bill could fly out from Texas. That’s my son David on her left.

Head of the family at the head of the table: Hubby Alan

C’est Moi!

She may be 20-something, but she’s still the youngest. Brynne gets to play Santa.

My sister found a perfect present for cold weather. A watch cap with built in headphones! Here is Alan trying them out.

Our second Christmas celebration took place on December 24 in Huntington Beach with Alan’s son and his family.

This is Dane. He was part of the best present a man could ever receive.

Our other grandson, Cash. He’s guarding his present.

Cash (all scrubbed up) and his dad John

We were a little iffy about these Razors, but the boys are excited. I don’t know. 10 mph seems awfully fast for a 5 year old.
Grandma helping Cash open his present.

Yes, at five they still get pleasure from the packaging.

Grandpa helping to put those Razors together.

Both Dad (above) and Grandpa (below) had tips for Dane.

Grandpa looks ready to ride!

It took about 5 minutes before Dane was whipping around the alley. He took to it like a duck to water. Cash waited until the next day, then he was out there with his twin.

Group photo! We brought Lily and Olivia along to spend Christmas Eve with the family.

Finally, our third Christmas took place on the actual day. Alan, my son David (who lives close by) and I enjoyed a perfect day. We woke up, took a short run (in Santa hats–sorry no pics!), opened presents, ate brunch (scrambled tofu with soyrizo burritos-yum), then hung out, watched basketball (some of us), and played with our presents. Oh, yes, and had another feast (this time 100% vegan) Yes, a  great Christmas.

He’s still like a little boy at Christmas.
He’s almost 30, but still gets a pile of presents.

Of course, some of those gifts are “useful” items.

From my son. He actually buys me “outfits” these days and does a great job!

Woo Hoo! Got an Ipad!

Do you think Alan likes his new computer?

He may just love this gift from David even more.

I think I should have put on a few more of my Christmas gifts for this pic.

Tried Tofurkey for the first time this year. Loved it! The rest of the menu (all vegan) Mashed potatoes, corn bread stuffing, Sweet Potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.

You may notice that there are no New Year’s Eve pictures. That is because we were snug in our beds at midnight.  Happy New Year anyway. I wish all of you the best in 2011.

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>Alan and I were relaxing at home on Friday when I got a Facebook message from our new daughter in law, Lisa. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know that she is actually a new-to-us daughter in law, having been married to Alan’s son for 16 years (I think). I don’t think I mentioned it in my post, but they own a home in Palm Desert, about a 10 minute drive from our house. Anyway, Lisa wrote that she and the kids were here in the desert and would we like to come over on Saturday.

Would we? Oh, yes.

So, Saturday morning, after our bike ride, we headed over to Palm Desert to see Lisa and the grandkids. She had told them a kid-size version of the story of why they had a new grandpa. They are twins, but they are very different, both in looks and personality, and they were processing their new information a little differently. Dane asked more questions, and seemed a little more confused about the story. His mood shifted from happy to giddy, to grumpy, to a little angry. Cash, on the other hand, seemed to take it all in stride. When we first arrived, there was a bit of discussion about what Alan and I were to be “called.” Maybe pops, or poppy? That discussion was pushed aside as we all headed down to the pool.

Dane on the left, Cash on the right

It was really a gorgeous day in the desert. The high hit only about 102, there was a breeze, and unbelievably, the water in the swimming pool was cool (usually by August, a pool’s temperature would hover around 90 degrees). We spent a couple hours in the water, Alan having a great time doing the “grandpa” things: tossing the boys into back dives, racing the length of the pool, and, of course, doing cannonballs with his grandsons.

One of the absolute highlights of the day was when Cash whispered to Alan, “I think I’ll call you Grandpa.” Alan was glowing.

After a few hours at the pool, we headed home to freshen up (yes, I admit it, we took a nap), then brought our two smaller dogs, Lily and Olivia, back over to meet the boys. They all had a wonderful time. My shy Olivia absolutely came alive, she was having so much fun playing with the children.  Lily was having a good time too, as were the boys, of course. After we were all worn out, we gathered up our dogs to go home, with promises that they would come along when we visited. I’ve got to say that all six of us slept very well on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, we had one more opportunity to see the boys before they headed back home. After our run, we picked them up and took them to IHOP for breakfast. What was really exciting for Alan and me, it was the first time that it was just us and the twins. They were a little nervous, but as we got into the car and headed out, they relaxed. We ate breakfast, then took them to our house to meet the rest of the dogs and cats. They were able to see the new kittens (only about 10 days old), as well as our older, indoor cats. It was a little crazy, the dogs were very excited, but all in all, it went well.  It certainly was great to spend the time with Cash and Dane, and have an opportunity to get to know them better.

We can’t wait until next time.

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