Family Trek through the Sequoias!

Hi all– Just back from 5 days with family at Sequoia National Park.  Growing up, every summer, my Mom and Dad would stash 4 kids and piles of camping gear in the station wagon, and head up the interstate to Sequoia. So it was big fun to do it again with my Sis and some of our kids!!

We set out one morning to hike our way around bright and brilliant Crescent Meadow (an old favorite for me and my Sis, Lulu!)



Midway around the meadow, we found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and a chance to rest our hiking feet!  And then on we trekked…


We finally arrived at Tharpe’s Log– a fallen redwood tree that became the home to the first settler in that area, who raised sheep in the adjacent meadow.


It was a fine full day–and being immersed in such beauty filled my soul.  I was thanking God for the glorious views all around me.


Thanks bunches to Charlotte, Micah, Jodi, Maryann, Larry, Jobay, Laurel & John (and Ted & Lu!)  for being the best adventurous, intrepid hiking buddies.  Let’s do it again!!


Wedding Weekend

Hello all– We had kids come and stay a few days for a wedding weekend.  Our niece Alyssa and her Nick were married on Saturday and it was such a thoughtful, beautiful time together. So happy for them in their new life together–God Bless.   Here’s the highlights:

My favorite part of the wedding was 91 year old Grandpa Stu giving a blessing in the ceremony and a wonderful prayer before the wedding meal.  Here he’s chatting with the bride & groom.  And Micah, Jodi, Ani and Brian at the reception.

And after the wedding there were sunny days with Lois and her parents around the house –and at Grandma Lo’s pool.

Nothing better than time with the family– from the beautiful celebration to the  low key times around the house talking and eating together.

Wandering in Wisconsin

Friends— We arrived in in Wisconsin for our John & Laurel’s wedding (more on that later!!) and since then have been taking in fun and food with our other kids winding our way across  the state.  A little “scrapbooking” of some of the best bits…

We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to explore the Effigy Mounds National Monument–a series of Native American burial mounds set in a forest overlooking the Mississippi.  A green and leafy afternoon hike.  Loved it!


photos:  forest, pretty lichen, Larry, Brian & Lois on the trail, the Mississippi River, The 3 Heungs by some burial mounds.

Next stop– the Great Wolf Lodge complete with the country’s biggest indoor/outdoor waterpark.  Aside from my first harrowing trip down a water slide, it was a lot of fun splashing with grand-girls in the water.


photos: Charlotte, Jobay & Maryann complete with wolf ears,  Jobay– the rope bridge champ!, 3 bathing beauties, in the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge.

A trip over to Milwaukee, demands a brewery tour. A little beer sampling and an animated tour guide named Winston made it a lively afternoon.


photos: Lakefront Brewery building. after tour snacks, Winston, soft pretzels and savory spreads.

Next morning, we walked along Lake Michigan to reach the Milwaukee Art Museum, a monumental structure, by the architect, Santiago Calatrava (Spanish!).


Lakeside view of the museum, Ani in the reception hall, Larry by a Chihuly glass work, Lois on the prowl at the museum.

One more stop, at the Pabst Mansion, built in the 1890’s by the brewing family, an elegant look at their sumptuous life.


photos:  The Past Mansion, the womens’ salon, bathroom doors, our bright tour guide with Captain Pabst, the servants dining room.

Finally, Larry and I explored the Milwaukee Public Museum–a well done natural history museum–complete with butterfly room!!

photos:  Display of the museum exhibits back in the 1800’s. The butterfly room and a couple of it’s residents.


It was a fine full week, traveling across the green and glorious state of Wisconsin– thanks to Micah & Jodi & those 3 fun girls, thanks to Ani & Brian and our littlest tourist.  You all made it such a wonderful time together.  I am thankful.

Out & About In Ojai


Hello friends– Last weekend Larry and trekked up the coast to Ojai for a day with the 3 grand-girls and their dear parents.  After these crazy winter rains, the citrus groves and hillsides stretched out green and lush–beautiful drive into the valley…

Jodi pulled out the wok to make us a tableful of a delicious lunch, while Mary Ann and Grandpa set up for a round of her latest game invention– Buzzing Bee.

There was a hike down to the creek and some splashy wading (for girls, not grandmas!)


Also, a lot of browsing and a few selections at Bart’s Books (a rambling indoor/outdoor used books store) — followed by pizza and gelato at Papa Lemon’s.


And Jodi rounded us all up for a few family photos just outside their front door (thanks Jodi– you know this grandma loves family pictures!)

Thanks Micah and Jodi– loved loved the meals, the talks and time with you all… It’s the best!!

To China and Back


Hello all– Our three grand-girls and their amazing mom have been off to China for about 6 weeks.  They traveled to Hunan Province for Chinese New Year with their other Grandparents there!  From all I heard it was a sweet time– here are my favorite photos:

The girls with their grandparents in China.

Jodi and the girls sitting down with her parents for the sumptuous New Year’s feast!  (Jodi’s mom is an amazing cook!)

Twelve amazing dishes for the feast! –my favorite  rice coated meatballs–and the crabs!!

Welcome Home at LAX.  Missed these girls and their mom, so glad glad they’re home.  Love that big smile Jobay!!!

P.S. Thanks Jodi for all your beautiful photos!  xox

A Walk in the Woods

IMG_2995Hey there– While the kids were here, we had a chilly picnic out at Carbon Canyon Park. We wandered along the lake and hiked back to the Redwood Grove on he edge of the park. It’s the largest transplanted stand of redwoods in California.  Felt great to get out and ramble after all those big meals and Christmas cookies.


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It was a fine day, good to get out of the neighborhood and take a little mini-vacation with Micah, Jodi and the grand-girls.  Thanks for the hike time together M&J!

Wonderful (& Wild) Wedding Weekend

Sunset at Paul and Andrea’s  Beautiful Beachside Wedding

Hello all– Last weekend we went from a little house of 2 people to a bulging house of 11.  Kids came in for our niece adorable Andrea’s wedding and I loved every crowded noisy minute of it.

11822858_10204674970575896_3730882765683165991_n     11219519_10101297814102144_8912496234809558510_nThe wedding day was brilliant and so were the bride and groom–  photos: Andrea with her ever-loving’ Dad– and the happy couple after the ceremony.

And we sandwiched a little more fun into the weekend with kids in tow.

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11794378_10104479821094423_2002550834861642123_o     11222728_10104478528419953_8163597927642699430_o  photos:  4 gals snapping selfies in the backyard,  Laurel & John celebrating Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier, John greeting the mastodon at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum on his L.A. tour, Brian-Harry-Ani out for super burger dinner and a stroll around Fullerton.

11791899_10153160423171478_1343325681399519460_oIt warmed a mom’s heart to have kids around the house and all dressed up (!) for the lovely wedding together– thanks all –for the memorable weekend!!

Good Times in Big Bear

Taking a break on our hike along the town ridge trail, overlooking the lake. 

Hi all– just back from a long-ish weekend in Big Bear with some of our kids.  And-yikes!– I took too many pictures.  Here’s a bunch to remember the good times together–  Monumental hikes, water gun fights, picnic dinner by the lake, reading on the back deck under the pine trees…

Warning: I’m about to test your limits of endurance on how many photos should be loaded onto one post.

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Brian and little Jobay lead the hike.  Charlotte at the trailhead ready to climb.

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Ani and Brian start up the trail with Harry.  Brian the rock climber!

View from the top of Castle Rock (This is Jodi’s picture– I did not made it that high!)

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Three little mountain goats and their Dad.  Grandpa Larry & Charlotte point out the trail!

The whole group together at the end of the Castle Rock Trail.  (Do we look beat?  We are!)

Of course, we had some good eating together –our favorite pastime.
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Gr. Larry serves up the pizza at Saucy Mama’s & grills burgers to eat out on the porch.

The last night we all ran through the grocery store to pick up an impromptu picnic for dinner under the pine trees by the lake.

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Jobay has something to say to her dad– and french toast back at the cabin for breakfast.

And, of course, you can’t have too much ice cream on vacation!!

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And we celebrated Chinese “Dragon Boat Day” with an afternoon lesson on how to make sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves– followed by a luscious (& spicy!) Chinese feast at a place M&J like in Big Bear.  Ganbei!

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We spent a sunny morning out on the lake in paddle boats– lots of splashing and crashing and an occasional high-five  going on.

And mostly we just hung out around the cabin–
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The girls pushed their way through the rose thicket to “explore” behind the cabin, gathering pine cones and picking wild flowers.

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Brian hanging out on the back porch– and the last spring wild roses blooming in the yard.

There were screaming rides for 3 grand-girls on the swing!

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And ferocious water gun fights with Aunt Ani —  and a tranquil view off the back porch.

Good times at the Big Bear Cabin for Larry, Jodi, Brian Jobay, Ani, Maryann, Micah and Charlotte.  So glad for the days there with them all.

So thanks you all for making the trek up to Big Bear.   It was just grand!

P.S.– Thanks bunches Ani & Jodi for all the photos I stole from your Facebook page.

Back in Ojai!

Sun setting off the back porch in at Micah and Jodi house

Hello friends–  So happy to say that Jodi and the 3 grand-girls are back from China!!  Been missing them all 4!  So today we trundled up to Ojai for welcome home hugs and a little birthday cake for Jodi.  Loved the sweet time together.

Out and about in Ojai– trying out the new Sushi restaurant in town–a grand-girl favorite.

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And back home there was some awesome double rainbow watching and a little soggy puddle jumping.  Things are never dull with the grand-girls back– Love those lively, lovable  girls.

Crafting Christmas Wreaths

IMG_3220Hi friends– I’m not much of a Christmas crafter– No painted ornaments, no knitted stockings…   But when we were up in SF over Thanksgiving, Jessica took us down to Studio Choo– for a morning wiring together Christmas wreaths– and it couldn’t have been more fun!

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We got a quick lesson and then were left with bountiful buckets of greens and berries and the tools to go to work!…

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It took us a while.  And every wreath was individual– from Ani’s pinkish flowery wreath to Jessica’s asymmetrical berry laden one.

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All around the studio, everything was beautifully organic.

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So fun to watch how each wreath developed stem by stem wired around the ring.

Thanks Jessica for one of the best “Girls’ Day Out” ever!!


Girls Galore!!

IMG_2624Hello all– It’s been a crazy fun couple days.  Micah, Jodi and the grand-girls drove down for the weekend and we’ve been eating, romping, story-reading and play-grounding away!  Here’s a couple of the highlights:

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We laid out on the kitchen floor to draw out this years Thankful Heart Chart– and the girls had a grand time crawling in and out of their new “sleeping tents.”  (We had their little tent village in the front room for bed time).

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There was some “zip lining” at the neighborhood park.

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Always bedtime stories and the morning French toast.

Thanks Micah and Jodi for making the trek down from Ojai– for a just right weekend together.  (note: Maryann’s got a hold of new family member BooBoo– they are dog sitting for a few weeks.)


Top Ten with the Fam

Here’s our “not quite ready” family portrait the weekend Micah, Jodi and girls arrived.  Thanks for trying Aaron!!

Hello there friends– Well, if you’ve been reading this little blog at all for the last few months, you’ve seen plenty of pics of the grand-girls while they were living at our house, just arrived from Shanghai.  But they’re sadly gone, moved on.  And things are pretty quiet (dull?) around here!

They are settled up in Ojai, two hours north, where Micah and Jodi are teaching.  The girls are ensconced in a new school and they are hiking the hills of Ojai!

So just to remember the time with them, I’m making a little “scrapbook” post of our time together.  It was a whole lot of chaotic fun and I miss those girls now every day…

IMG_8437     IMG_8866#1.  We had lots of every day fun, reading library books, making puzzles, bath time and cooking up muffins.

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IMG_1142#2.  And we spent a full day galloping through the La Habra Children’s Museum.

IMG_8545     IMG_8551#3.  There was the big bonus of Jodi’s home cooking,  real Chinese food!

IMG_8381     IMG_8387    #4.  We walked our legs off on a hot day at the Los Angeles Zoo–  Those girls are troopers.

IMG_0954#5.  The 2 big girls and I spent a couple days making summer scrapbooks– lots of photos, simple sentences and 5 & 7 year old art work.

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IMG_0849#6.  One Sunday evening we cooled off splashing at Newport Beach and riding the Back Bay Ferry to get a frozen banana.

IMG_0936#7.  Back behind the garage we planted zinnias and sunflowers for some fall flowers.

IMG_8506     IMG_8507#8.  There was some splashy Easter egg dying when the girls first arrived.

IMG_9988     IMG_0926#9.  With plenty of snipping and stitching, the girls put together their doll quilts.

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10463722_10103321999558063_6632792410892087368_o#10.  And the highlight of our summer together was a trip to San Francisco to visit Aunts and Uncles, play with Harry the wonder dog and to meet cousin Baby Mae!

So glad Micah and Jodi and those 3 girls for the time with you herewith us– and glad you’ll be close by ahead.

Beachy Summer Evening

IMG_0881Hello friends–  Spent a warm summer evening with the family hiking across Balboa Island, ferrying over the bay and splashing on the beach at Newport.  Sort of a farewell to summer as well as to the kids.  Our son Micah has a new job teaching physics 2 1/2 hours north so they’ll be moving up…   I’m already missing them!

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Charlotte on the island walkway– view across the bay.

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Took a breezy ride across the back bay on the little ferry, past the fun zone to the beach.

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Three soggy girls spent an hour happily jumping into little waves.

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Goofy faces as we ambled back across the island with a stop along the way for the requisite chocolate covered frozen banana (with bright sprinkles for girls!).  Thanks Micah & Jodi for the sweet time together.  Looking forward to summers ahead with you…

Almost On Their Way

Hello blog friends–  I have wonderful news for us here– “jumping up and down, can’t get to sleep, making lots of plans, rearranging the house” kind of news.  Our three grand-girls, along with their mom and dad, Jodi and Micah are moving to California from Shanghai, China at the end of March!!

We’ve made lots of trips to see them over the last 10 years.  And they’ve come this way a for some special events.  But now, they will be at “arm’s length”.  Think of all the trips to the library, the zoo, the mountains!  All that cookie baking and flower picking and park playgrounding…

OK, I’ll stop.  But I just wanted you to know the news.  So excited!

Sledding through the Bamboo Forest


Hey there–  Last summer we drove up into the mountains outside of Shanghai to a lush bamboo forest.  The whole time we were hiking up that mountain trail amid the bamboo, I was eyeing the sleds on rails that sliced down the mountain.  Being the coward that I admittedly am, I was secretly thinking, “Glad we’re not planning to have that little adventure!”  BUT, wouldn’t you know it, that is exactly what happened!  Once we reached the peak it was all aboard the sleds for the trip down.  You can see how much I loved every minute!

IMG_3732Here I am, hanging on to the brakes for dear life!  It turned out to be more fun than I thought, in a scary sort of way…

IMG_2843     IMG_2844         We had other forest adventures– leaping across the lily pond on stepping stones.

IMG_2849     IMG_2850And winding our way up the first half of the mountain aboard an ox cart.

IMG_2854     IMG_2853Then there was some happy hiking (and maybe a little whining) on up the mountain.

IMG_2888     IMG_2892We loaded ourselves into the zippy sleds and set off back down (and I do mean down!).

IMG_2898     IMG_2902A little more exploring in the mountain stream, and across the bamboo bridge, and we set off for home…   Thanks Micah and Jodi for the big day out in the bamboo forrest!

IMG_2906It was a glorious, grand day together.  Can’t wait for more adventures ahead…

Off to see the Grand-girls!


Hey there– You can’t tell just reading this, but I am practically jumping up and down with excitement!  We’re flying off Friday about midnight to stay with Micah, Jodi and the grand-girls in Shanghai.  It’s going to be stories and puzzles, the parties and runs to the park.  And Micah has promised a few days in the coolness of a bamboo forrest.  I’m already packed to go in my head!

You can betcha’ they’ll photos of big fun with girls to come on this blog!   Oh yes. I am thankful.