California Dreamin’ – Pt 2

Sunday afternoon was spent leisurely walking along the bay. We ventured over to Hyde Street Pier to look at some of the historic ships.

The history of this city is presented every where you look. The buildings, the boats, the trolleys (which I did not get to ride!), the homes…just every where.

The smell of the bay – it’s pretty much the same smell as on the East Coast. No surprise there! Fish, fish, and umm, more fish!

KODAK Digital Still Camera           Ok – so this is a seal..

The houses aren’t cookie cutters in styles or colors, but they all fit perfectly together along the strip.

The youngest teen stopped in his tracks when he saw the first of a few outdoor workout areas. The concept is pretty cool – but to see people working out, some of those positions are not necessarily outdoor worthy views…if you get what I mean…wish I had a brain scrubber right about now…

We made our way over to a marina where we rested on a bench, watching the boats and seals in the water. A feathered friend decided to join us before the boys decided to play in the grass while we waited for our ride…we used Uber the entire time we were in the city and it was WONDERFUL!!


Life is good!!  ~MJ


California – What a Trip! – Pt. 1

We spent a week in California. And what a week it was!

We split our trip in half – sort of. Three days along the West Coast and the remainder of the week in the California Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, among the rolling hills.

Angels Camp is a beautiful, small town with much to offer visitors. Nestled among the rolling hills in Calaveras County, this tiny town was made famous from many successful gold mines as well as by Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…and this will *have* to be a multi-poster. I mean, how can I just haze over some of the most amazing sights that were seen by a couple of East-Coasters?

We left from Louisville, KY for Chicago, IL before heading west. This trip was the first time the 14 year old flew – and the first in over 25 years my husband stepped on a plane. The flight to San Francisco was educational as we were handed Coke cans in Chinese…I think…even the waitress wasn’t sure.

We flew over some pretty landscapes – even boring Interstate 80 looked pretty from above.

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Our first stop – Lombardi Street. The world’s crookedest street. I thought this street was a few blocks, but thankfully, the crooked portion was only one block. We took Uber to the top of the block and walked down.

From the top of the block, you can see the houses over looking the bay. The colorful hydrangeas planted along the block add beauty to the street.Since one photo doesn’t do justice to the street, I took a few…one of which captured my son walking down behind me – the kid flew in from Salt Lake City in the wee hours of the morning only to go on a trek of the city shortly after breakfast. Yup – we love him to pieces!

From Lombardi Street, we ventured over to the San Francisco Bay. I love history, and seeing Alcatraz in person was another highlight for me. I saw it safely from the pier instead of traveling and dealing with crowds – I do not do large crowds. *shutters at the thought*

We visited the shops and sights of Fisherman’s Wharf along Pier 39. We watched the infamous Sea Lion’s lay claim to their pack of piers.The Sea Lion’s have a fair amount of piers they have taken as their own, to bask in the sun and lounge on one another.

Coit Tower was fascinating to see after watching a movie where the family met there if they got separated, not to mention a point of interest for visitors in Telegraph Hill. The top of the tower resembles that of a fire hose, though that was not the intention of the architect. Instead, it was a tower built in honor of the lady who left money “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved” in a bequest upon her death in 1929. The tower offers a 360 degree view of the city. We didn’t make it to the tower, but we were able to see it throughout the day.

Now for the food – who goes to a new city in a never-before-visited state and not eat the food?! 20160605_12150420160605_121508

Blackened cod and fish and chips – served in a metal pail! Ha! I do have to add a little tid-bit about the bathroom – it was an “open concept” type…you walked in to a large area with double sinks in the middle of two sets of stalls. Two on each side. <whispers> they were not marked specifically “men” and “women”. It was a little unsettling until it was realized that people knew which side was which…thank goodness for locals!


Two Zero

Once upon a time, I thought those two digits together were some type of magical age.

Boy was I wrong! When I was 20, I had a child in tow and a husband. I still have the husband, but now that child is 20 years and no longer the sweet, innocent, adorable, little two-year old she once was.

Don’t get me wrong, she is still a sweet kid young woman. It’s just that her interests are no longer wearing frilly dresses while climbing trees. She has progressed towards gaming, jewelry, books, and guys. Or rather a single particular guy. Not that I have a problem with said guy, I have a problem with her no longer being the child I can command and dictate rules and regulations to guide to the right path and she would listen.

Yeah, I wasn’t a dictator or tyrant. But I did have some strict rules – according to her as she compared every rule to those of her friends. Silly me, I have this wish to know who and where and why and how and what is going on in my children’s lives. I mean, weren’t we all taught the 5 W’s in elementary school for a reason?

Where are they going? When are they going and when will they return? Who are they going with and who are the parents? Why are they going? What are they will be doing once they get there? How are they getting there and/or back?

Okay, so back to the 20-year-old.

For her birthday, the family (and boy friend) had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse (seems to becoming a “birthday theme” around here). This lovely child-no-more did not want anyone to know it was her big day.

She made her two brothers promise on their Bibles that they would not so much as utter anything resembling a comment to the waitress/waiter that it was her birthday.

The silly kid forgot about her parents…sad, isn’t it? Not to worry though because while she couldn’t decide what to have for a drink (a non-alcoholic type, thanks!), her dear father turned to the waitress and said: “You’ll have to excuse her. This is her first day of being twenty.” To which the birthday girl immediately looked up, shocked that he said something. She even made “dad” into a two-syllable word as she flushed ever so slightly.

I reassured her that he did not tell the waitress it was her birthday. Do you see where this is going? Can you imagine the look of horror on her face as I spoke those “forbidden” words out loud? It was well worth it.

After dinner, the crew came to the table and did their little “Texas Roadhouse Birthday Wish” and brought out the famous saddle for the birthday person to pose on. And believe me, my husband made sure there were ample amounts of photos taken of the 20-year-old posing on this sad little saddle.

As we were heading back towards home, she did admit she had a great time, despite the worn little saddle she sat on. She was glad we made her day a little extra special.

I’m glad she is a 20-year-old, independent thinker and able to function on her own. But there is a part of me, ever so small, that misses the 2-year-old who was full of questions.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

This is my teenage son. He is a bit silly and full of wit and humor. Add a little (or a lot) of sarcasm, and you have the character traits of this ray of sunshine. I choose this photo to represent family because his expression captures the fun and crazy times we share – whether we intentionally try to be silly or not. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

Ahh..a good old-fashioned corn maze right before sunset.

A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to a corn maze. Due to work schedules, we ended up arriving just as the sun was setting. Talk about a great time to freak out the children.

Don’t worry, we didn’t do anything scary. Just got them a little mixed up.

Armed with flashlights, warm coats, and a map of the maze – you know, to get us more lost – we headed for the paths shaped to be a football player holding a football and an Indianapolis Colts football helmet.

Where was I? Oh yes. My husband and teenage son led us through this adventure of corn stalks. The 9-year-old boy and I followed with the girlie girl and boy friend close behind.

The sky was dark. With cloud coverage, the stars and moon were playing peek-a-boo with us.

The only lights we saw were glimpses of flashlights from other maze goers and the occasional beam of lights from the barns.

If only we could get back there.

After about an hour of going in what felt like circles, every intersection became like a game of chance.  Heads we go left, tails we go right.

Of course, we just came from that way. Didn’t we?

We met several others along the paths. Each believing they were going the correct direction. It was as if we were the only ones wondering which way to go.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky — part two

As I said in my earlier post, we spent a day along the lake to watch fireworks, celebrating America’s birthday. Well, here is the night sky:

It was a great night for fireworks and family time. We’re already planning for next year!

Morning Messages

My mother is a bit of a nut. She has her quirks and there is not a single thing I would change. One of her quirks is her need to write to all of my siblings at the same time so we are always on the “same page”. Is it because she wants us to stay informed or is it more along the lines of keeping the family together? You decide.

Every morning, before the roosters roused, my mother is awake at her computer, composing an email for her children before she goes on with her day. I have friends who are stunned to hear my mother sends me an email on a daily basis—this is in addition to our regular nightly conversations. My pals are also the same people who nearly have heart palpitations at the mention of their mom contacting them through yet another means of communication. But I guess that’s where I am in life. I don’t mind the emails or the phone calls. In fact, it’s the mornings I don’t receive an email that worry me.

I usually wake up to the buzz my phone sends out, alerting me that once more my mother has sent her children a joint email, spreading happy morning thoughts before she heads off to her job. There are times when I miss the email buzz because I am either in the shower or already driving into work. This delay is brought on by the lag in computer wires communicating and traveling over a thousand miles to its destination of my email inbox. When the delays of receiving the email occurs, I take comfort in the knowledge the email will be there by the time my mid-morning break rolls around.

It doesn’t seem to matter what type of crazy, insane, ordinary day I am having, her email sums up the necessities in life: how many days until the magical arrival of Friday!

After all, during the course of the week who doesn’t think to themselves ugh! It feels like a Monday, again! Be honest, now. You know you have your days of how you wish it was the weekend or your day off.

Yet these little messages of motherly love really carry some hefty underlining meanings. Take, for example, the daily count down to the weekend. Mom’s messages are full of love and happiness that there is X amount of days left until Friday and how she is looking forward to the weekend. That’s a positive message right there, typed in bold purple and accompanied by all sorts of odd little smilies she figured out how to make.

I can’t help but think how my daily conversations with clients would be if I simply stated “It’s Tuesday and Friday is coming!” Wouldn’t they be just as relieved to know Friday is on its way and it didn’t get lost or take a wrong turn back on Wednesday?

I find it helpful to know exactly where Friday is and when to expect Friday to show up. Especially if I am buried in paperwork and don’t get a chance to look at a calendar. Those days are bad enough, but to think it’s a Monday when in reality it’s a Wednesday, is even worse.

Included in these morning messages are other important tidbits. My mother makes sure we all know whether her or my father has a doctor’s appointment. If there are no appointments, she informs us of the results of the last one. Be it for the asthma, heart, health check-ups, eyes, or even toes and fingernails. She does not wish for any of us to be left in the dark about who went where why and what the results are.

Perhaps some of the more interesting parts of the messages help us understand where she is going for the day—usually work; who is taking her—this is vitally important during the winter months when there is snow and ice around; and what time she is leaving –usually marked with “have to run now” to help us nail down the precise time.

I know the morning messages are all of five or six lines, but they mean a lot to my siblings and I who do not live within driving distance. Out of four siblings, only one lives a mile away. The others of us live over a thousand miles, which is equal to 16 hours driving time. Not something we can easily do on a Sunday afternoon.

Knowing my mother is thinking of us, writing to us at once, is just another way for her to keep us all “together” despite the distance. Even if it’s for a few moments every day, she knows we are all reading her morning messages, in our own homes or offices, and even sometimes taking the extra time to respond to all.