High Desert Holiday

We made it out to Sunriver a few days ago, and have been enjoying taking it easy ever since. We've come out here for many Christmases over the years, but this year is different due to a shocking lack of snow. I know what it looks like in that picture up there, but that is one of Oregon's locally-grown, organic volcanoes, and they show off like that all year. 

Our "snowball fight" included a slightly dangerous mash-up of dirt and ice, as well as a lot of giggling. I was happy to have stayed out of it by yelling, "Lady with a camera!" Lucky for me, my kids don't have great aim yet.

That turquoise sky! Such a treat for a Portlander who is dreading the rest of winter.

Lots of fun, lots of sun, tree strapped to the top of the car...mission accomplished! Hope you're enjoying the holidays in your own way. Please share! I'd love some comments for Christmas...they're free even!


I'm Back.

Yep, I took that! Sweet little lion cubs in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania this summer.
I've taken quite a break from this blog of mine, but now I'm feeling ready to start sharing again. I'm so happy about all the reasons I've been away - safari in Africa, roadtrip from California back to Oregon after the safari, Camp Shutter Sisters in October, and then the general business of growing a family throughout all of it. Along the way, I picked up a few souveniers - lots of really special new friends, an Instagram habit (I'm jenny_sugarsnap if you'd like to look for me), and a couple thousand pictures. Oh, and I'm taking a leap and trying out Lightroom to process my pictures, but things are going a little slowly in that department. It's a bit intimidating, but I'll get the hang of it one of these days. Probably.

In a few days we are headed to Sunriver for some much-needed rest (and hopefully some snow!) over Christmas weekend, and then it looks like we may just jump back in the car and run for the sun - Disneyland style (shhh...that part is a secret for the kiddos!).

I made this following little video for the safari reunion party we went to in October. Our group came together to see each other's pictures, and it was a great impetus for me to actually  do something with mine! All pictures were taken by me (except those of me, which were taken by my camera). The song is Paradise by Coldplay, and the first time I heard it, I knew it was perfect for this. Please enjoy! More from me soon...


Shark Bait!

Paddle boarding is one of the things I've wanted to try for a long time. I even put it on my list last year with the hope that I might try it before my next birthday. Well, how about for my birthday?! Yep, I got a little bit older wiser on Thursday! What a day! I found a surf school teaching stand up paddle boarding, made the appointment, and psyched myself up to learn something new. Not such a big deal for most people, but I have a little bit of a phobia when it comes to fish. What? Don't you?

I grew up playing in the waves in San Diego, never really giving much thought to what was in the water with me, but at some point that changed, and ever since coming to Maui for the first time a couple of years ago, I realized being in the water really freaks me out. I've tried not to make a big deal out of it because I don't want my kids to adopt the same fear, and I think I've actually made some real improvement in overcoming my scare-dee-cattedness during this trip. But it also points to why I was drawn to paddle boarding - you get to be on top of the water! Genius!

The lesson was a lot of fun, taught by a sun-baked guy named Armadillo. I had two other ladies in my group, and one 10-year old...so how hard could this be? Not that hard really! It reminds me of riding a horse, only steering is opposite, and it's more like you're standing on the horse trying to balance. I only fell in the drink once! Well, twice, but that second time was Armadillo's fault. We had absolutely beautiful conditions for first-timers - no wind, and no waves! Hooray! The bad news though was that the tide was very low, which gave us very little wiggle room over all the coral - and there is a ton out there! We were in this perfect little lagoon, and once we started to feel very solid on the boards we sat down to take a break. That was when Armadillo mentioned the sharks......and then we saw them! Crikey!!

At the edge of the reef, about 50 feet from where we were sitting, we could see fins pop out of the tiny waves every once in a while. While I sat there thinking "Worst Nightmare!", my teacher said, "Let's get closer!" Ha ha, right? He told us that they were white-tipped reef sharks, that they were usually in this area, and "pretty harmless". I'm proud to say that I didn't ask, "Where is the motor on this board because I'm outaaaaa heeeeerrreee!" We stayed a few more minutes, and it was pretty exciting to spot them come up into the waves like that! Then we left them in peace, but I will say that I kept looking back to see if there was anything following me. Shiver me timbers!

So, anyway, I did it! I loved it, and I'm going to do it again today! Hooray for trying new things, and for awesome birthdays!!


Meet My New Friends - The Honus

I was surprised that during the first two weeks of our vacation in Maui we didn't seen any green sea turtles (honu in Hawaiian). When I mentioned this to Andy, he said casually, "Oh, I saw some when I was surfing yesterday." But that doesn't count! I wasn't there! Then a few days ago our friends who live here told us about a "secret spot" that was guaranteed to deliver, and oh my gads, did it ever!!

Armed with our new snorkel masks, we dove in to take a look. I am so excited that I got Andy the GoPro camera for Christmas last year. Usually it hooks onto his surfboard so he can get "rad videos of himself shredding," but you can also just hold it and take underwater pictures and videos. Yippee!

You can look, but no touching!! These guys are sadly endangered, and you will get in
BIG trouble if you mess with them.
Check it out! Listen for the crackly noise - I couldn't figure out what it was, and frankly it gave me the creeeeeps because in real life it's pretty loud, but Andy (a walking encyclopedia) told me it's the sound of the fish and turtles taking little bites of stuff off the coral. Chew with your mouths closed, my friends!

Can you believe how close it swam to my little Rachel? Ollie and I were watching from the rocks just above the water (these guys were right at the shoreline), and we were ooohing and ahhhing, and then jumping up and down when we saw that! Getting this close to nature is exhilarating for me - I can't even imagine how my safari will be!! I leave in two weeks! Yaaaaaay!!!


Rainbows of a Different Kind

I am loving all the color around here! We are so lucky...


Green Puzzles

Say hello to my little friends! Love these guys...just don't want to touch them, that's all.


The Summer of Adventure ~ Hawaii Style

Aloha, friends! Well, we made it! Our school year ended with all sorts of fun and activity, including non-stop fieldtrips, a talent show that Rachel participated in (she jumped rope up to 100!), Oliver's class marching in a parade, and me putting together the end-of-the-year slide show for the Kindergarten class. I was very proud of myself for getting the slideshow done on time, not having to stay up all night to finish it while crying about procrastinating and shoving cookies into my mouth to stay awake! Not this time! It did, however, take three days of my life - but it turned out so awesome, and the kids and their parents all loved it!

So, somehow we made it through all that, and a whole lot more, got ourselves packed, and onto a plane last Sunday. Planes, actually. We used a bunch of frequent flier miles to get here, and since my itinerary is a bit different than the rest of my family, I got to fly here by myself! Andy and the kids got to come straight to Maui from Portland, and though I left around the same time, I was on a different airline and had to go through San Francisco. My first flight left a half an hour late, which made me pretty nervous, but the nice ladies at the desk changed my seat to put me closer to the door, so I was almost first class once I got on the plane! I made it to SF just in time to get to my other plane and board. Then something happened that I've never heard of before. Our pilot was a bit of a speed demon - he took us up to the Jet Stream, and got us to Maui an hour early! What? Yes!

So, my family came back to the airport to pick me up (they had been fooling around at the beach already), and we headed to the condo that we always stay at in West Maui. As soon as we unloaded our bags, the kids wasted no time in changing into their swimsuits...then BAAAANNNGGG! Oliver was so excited to run to the pool that he ran straight into the closed sliding glass door! He bounced off of the glass so hard onto the tile floor, that he split the back of his head open. Happy Father's Day, Andy!! So, literally within minutes of getting into our place, we almost called 911! Instead, we ended up at a little Doctors On Call clinic at the Hyatt Regency down the road, and Ollie had to get a few stitches. Poor baby! The amazing thing was, just like when he had his hernia surgery, he was super brave, didn't cry when the doctor had to give him in injection (right into the cut - oh my!), and actually fell asleep a little as the doctor sewed him up. That last part worried me until I remembered the time change, and that to him, it was about 10:00 at night.

With orders to stay out of the pool and the ocean all week, we've been taking it easy and doing other stuff, and his head has healed nicely. He got the stitches out on Friday night, and is excited to do some cannon balls into the pool, and to try surfing with Daddy, and give his goggles a go. We're so lucky that we're here for a month, otherwise this would have been quite a bummer. Rachel has been super sweet and supportive, and she was so upset when he got hurt! She cried more than he did, but I understood completely. Seeing my children's blood on the outside of their bodies is one of my all-time least favorite things. It's nice to see how much they care about each other though.

More soon - I've GOT to get to the pool!


Love, Unexpected

I was surprised recently when, at one of my regular Starbucks visits, my friendly barista took the time to send me this little message! Sweet! I think she loved that I saved a tree and ordered my mocha in a mug. I loved that she took a little time to pass on such a positive thought. Today in Mondo Beyondo, we are challenged to do just this - leave a secret message for someone - anyone - to find, just hoping that through our hope notes, we can change the world, one kind message at a time.

So, thank you for reading this! I hope you have a beautiful, peaceful, and inspiring day! You deserve it!


The Cutest Mouse Ever!

This past weekend Rachel was radiant as a Princess Mouse in her ballet school's production of The Princess and the Pea! She had three performances in two days, and did just beautifully - never tiring or complaining, even though there was a lot of waiting around and it went late into the evening. We got tickets for the Saturday afternoon show, and I was struck by how much fun she seemed to be having on stage! She never told me she was nervous (and I don't think she actually was), she was just very prepared and grinning through their entire scene, which she told me later went by way too quickly. 

We weren't allowed to take any pictures during the performances, but I helped backstage and got a few snaps while they got ready.

You're a star, my sweet!


Mom's Day

Awwww, heck. What a great day! I'm just head over heals in love with my kiddos, and it feels so right to celebrate each other once in a while. Hope you had an awesome day too!


Jolly Good!

Leading up to last week's "Wedding of the Century", I hadn't given much thought as to how I was going to actually be able to watch the ceremony. We cancelled our cable subscription right before we left for Nicaragua (take that, Comcast!), so maybe I hadn't come to the realization yet that I would either have to watch in the middle of the night, or wait for it to come out on Netflix. Thankfully, my unspoken prayers were answered when my buddy Bonney invited me to the viewing party she was going to. In a very giddy text message conversation, I told her, "I would love to watch! I thought I was the only one!" Ha! Little did I know that approximately 2 billion people would watch - but could they possibly be as stylish as I us? Oh, I think not!

Bonney arrives at the party with the breakfast of champions -
cupcakes and champagne. Oh, and wearing the veil from her actual wedding!

I had told Rachel early that morning that if she could get ready for school super fast, then maybe she could watch a little coverage while she ate breakfast. It was the speediest costume change ever! I told her that I didn't want to know any details because I wanted to see it for myself, but I couldn't help asking her, "Did you think her dress was pretty?" She told me, "It's the most beautiful dress in the world, and she's the most beautiful lady in the world." Awwww!

The rest of the day went by in this fantastic, giggly blur. I followed Bonney to her friends' house, hoping that I wasn't imposing, but also excited beyond belief that this was going to be a girl's event! Girls really know how to do these things correctly, I think! Just look at this spread that was waiting for us! We died and went straight to England!

Our beautiful hostess, Pam, had thought of every detail. Seriously, the menu was in a frame!

Bonney, Mo, Pam, Linda & I enjoying one for the team!
After a lot of genuine gasping, ooohing and ahhhhing over the sweet party set-up, plus some picture taking, and after more friends arrived, we finally got down to business and started watching the event. As typical girls will do, we picked apart every outfit (even the men). We loved Kate's mom's dress, were surprised that we liked Camilla's ensemble, and hated everything about what William's cousins, Beatrice and Eugenie, wore. Poor girls! Oh, but didn't David Beckham look like a million bucks??? We couldn't agree about his hair, so we had to do a fair bit of rewinding and freeze-framing to discuss it properly. What?

Then things really heated up when we saw the princes arrive in their lovely car! We took a moment to toast Diana, who we all wished could have been there with her sons, and who we decided was there, actually.

Wow, is Pippa stunning, or what? I didn't even know there was a Pippa until two days before the wedding, but I decided immediately that if Andy and I ever renew our vows, I'm wearing THAT dress!

We were all gaga for the happy couple, of course, but we couldn't stop loving that adorable rascal, Prince Harry! We're also going to start a petition or something to get him together with Pippa. Wouldn't that be grand?!

The best moment of the day! Yes, I know they've been together for eight years already, and it's probably not the first time they've ever kissed, but I'm a sucker for romance, especially on a grand scale. I loved getting this picture of Pam in there with them!

To send us off properly, Pam put together swag bags. Swag bags!! Unbelievable.

Thank you so much to Pam for putting this beautiful party together, and for not minding that I was a total stranger, and to Bonney for inviting me in the first place! It was one of the funnest things I've done all year! (Thanks also to CNN, for giving us the best seats in the house - we saw a lot more than even Kate's mum did!) Good times!