Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Costumes

Canyon: Soldier
Alice: Lieutenant Uhura
Lily: Katniss Everdeen
Jane: Rapunzel from Tangled

Not pictured:
Emily: Effie Trinket (Hunger Games)
Dustin: Haymitch Abernathy (Hunger Games)
(am trying to find picture)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pictures From My iphone this past week.

Dustin's granddad passed away and we made the trip up to Portland to attend the burial and memorial. It was moving and sweet and even though the trip was long (driving) and short (one day to be with family) it was worth it. We will miss Granddad's visits and stories.

In Mt. Shasta on our way to Portland. Eating at the original Black Bear Diner. We were able to eat at Aunt Donna's PB & J Cafe on the way home, which was much appreciated.

Playing with our favorite bestie: Sophie

Canyon, holding the flag that was draped across Granddad's casket at the end of a very moving military ceremony, which included crisp respectful soldiers, taps, bag-pipes, and jets flying low.

Home again in time for water polo on Friday.
Alice & Canyon: Thumbs up. (That's friend Amy).
Lily: not so sure (even though she scored about six times)
Jane: Pleaded and pleaded to play not realizing that in the chaos of kids and a ball and water too deep to stand it would literally kill her.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


That day, ten years ago, was like being underwater in a mountain lake where everything is bright and clear yet every movement is deliberate and it’s difficult to breathe. I sat with my one-year-old daughter in front of the TV and watched in that strange filtered moment as the twin towers fell. I spent the morning there, like the rest of the world, glued to the television. My thoughts were cluttered as I tried to make sense of the encompassing tragedy.

The day was strange, like a holiday, but cheerless. It seemed the world had come to a screeching halt. Yet, there was one thing I did that day to ground me to the old life, the life before September 11th. I went to piano lessons and that act of normalcy was like a pushpin holding a random collection of receipts, clippings and photographs to a pinboard. Chaos held together and organized by one thing: music.

I was learning Beethoven’s Piano Sonata 14, the Moonlight Sonata. As I played for my piano teacher I felt all the emotions of the day were released, unconfined.

In the following days and weeks the Moonlight Sonata became my comfort. I played as the High School across the street lowered their flag to half-mast. I played as my neighbors placed flags on their front porches. I played as my toddler looked at the sky with wide eyes, wondering where the silver flash of highflying airplanes had disappeared.

And while I played I thought of the past two hundred years. I thought of all the people who came before me who had found comfort in this same sonata. People who had experienced unimaginable loss. I visualized the music drawing us together. Linking us—past and present—like an invisible web of solidarity.

My daughter is eleven now and while she hasn’t mastered Beethoven yet, her halting rendition of Fur Elise reminds me music is what makes us human. It has been ten years and I still play Moonlight Sonata and when I do, I remember that day and how amidst the violence, I found peace and hope in a humanity that can find solace in the creation and love of music.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Jane woke up this morning, ate breakfast and, as the kids were rushing out the door with backpacks, packed lunches and forlorn faces, she found her way back to bed.

I found her a few minutes later like this:

I thought about waking her up. For a second.

She's still sleeping. She's such an angel when she's sleeping.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Open Letter to the Yosemite High Sierra Camps:

All of us at one of the trail markers.

Dear Yosemite Views,

Seriously. You’re that vain? I mean, there wasn’t a bad side to you. You’re extremely photogenic, from every angle. Really. I mean, streams, rivers, flowers, granite faces touched by watermelon snow, still lakes, valleys, meadows, even your dust has a bit of charm (except when it’s in my teeth).

We’ll get back to the views later on.

Ah, the flowers. THE FLOWERS!

Dear Sierra Camp Chefs,

I know you started out at the Ahwahnee and all that, so it must be difficult to be roughing it in a rock-housed kitchen with no electricity—your only food brought to you by mule. But really, you’ve outdone yourselves. I mean, just look at the menus: cheese penne pasta with blackberry-sauced chicken, hand stuffed ravioli, sautéed garden vegetables, almond-encrusted salmon with rice pilaf and asparagus, pork carnitas with green garlic salsa and cream, and chicken alfredo with sautéed zucchini and summer squash. Oh, plus the desserts: warm chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake with strawberry-sized raspberries, mountain berry cobbler, oh, and pumpkin cheesecake.

That’s not even touching on the breakfasts full of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal and plenty of hot drinks.

Well done chefs. Well done.

P.S. Not that I’m complaining, but there was an exorbitant amount of broccoli.

One of our meals. Really.

Dear Ranger Mike,

Thank you for your campfire on bears, your campfire on wilderness areas, your songs, sharing your knowledge of the history of Yosemite, and being enthusiastic about everything. You rock.

P.S. Love your John Muir impersonations. Spot on.

Dear Bears,

Thank you for leaving us alone.

Dear Tenaya Lake,

Why were you so charming for my children? Because of you, we lost precious minutes on the trail to wading and swimming and adoring.

Lily at Lake Tenaya

Dear trail to Sunrise,

Why were you so deceivingly difficult? We thought we had you under our belts when we got to Sunrise lakes, but we were wrong. You meandered FOREVER.

Dear Sunrise Camp showers,

You were almost too hot. If that’s possible.

Dear mosquitoes,

What the hell? Seriously, go pester someone else. And do you have to travel in herds?

Canyon & I attempting to ward off mosquitoes.

Dear Sunrise Camp sunrise,

Wow. Now I get where you got your name.

Dear Camp Merced,

You were a delicious site at the end of a long, long ten-mile day. Because of your path, we learned all the states and their capitols, the phonetic alphabet, and played twenty questions a THOUSAND times. But you were worth it. A beautiful lake and icy cold river to soak our weary feet.

Dear lifesavers,

You were lifesavers. Literally.

Dear Ranger Mike,

Why didn’t you tell us about the two-mile shortcut? Seriously.

Dear trek to Vogelsang,

You suck. Oh, except for the beautiful meadows. I’ll forgive the 3,000 foot climb in seven miles for the views at the meadow.

Dear Stars,

You were so bright, it hurt my eyes.

Dear Dustin,

Your pack was at least ten pounds heavier than mine. Thanks for carrying the tent and also thanks for offering me your sleeping pad when mine sprung a leak. You were a great motivator and photographer. I know sometimes I seemed kind of grumpy. It wasn’t me, me hips were just tired.

The four of us with our packs.

Dear Scott & Katrina,

Thanks for coming with us. You were awesome. Thanks for always getting extra apples for our lunches and always knowing when we needed a break to soak our feet in a stream. Also, I don’t know what we would’ve done without your homemade trail mix, you know, the one with the spicy ginger. Mm, I’m still thinking about it.

Papa Scott and Canyon.

Dear Sue,

Thanks for the Ambien. It became a hot commodity on the trail. I traded it for all kinds of useful things. Plus, I slept really well every night.

Dear fellow hikers on the trail,

I love you. You would always say hello and stop and tell us what we had to look forward to next. And we would tell you about your path. And we would compare notes and point out views and streams. And we were so amiable to each other. Except for you one guys, you know who you are, who laughed at us when we asked if we were getting closer.

Dear Donna,

Thanks for hiking with us and taking pictures for us. You were a great companion and a strong hiker. You deserve a medal for your one hundred and one mosquito bites and your many blisters. I never heard you complain.

Dear army guys who had a conversation with me while I was showering with the sun-shower,

That was awkward.

Dear sunsets,

Pink and granite go together really well. As do shimmering lakes, white firs and silvery meadows. I also enjoyed the colorful tents lighting up each night as flashlights shone through: glowing neon domes.

Dear Lily and Canyon,

Wow. I’m really proud of you. You climbed like rock stars, or mountain goats or something. You were amazing and you didn’t complain. You carried your packs and drank your water and peed. You peed a lot. Every ten minutes. I never worried about dehydration.

You were funny and poignant and curious all at the same time. I hope you remember this trip forever and ever, cause I will.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


We just completed our busiest week. And are about to embark on, what I hope will be, a relaxing week of backpacking.

We're taking Lily and Canyon on our fifty-miler, leaving tomorrow.

Wish us luck.

I'm trying not to think about starting school the minute we get back. I officially hate school.

See you in a week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer, don't leave!

It has been too long. And I now have two birthdays to report and it seems that birthdays is all I do on this blog. At least we have a birthday break and I can hopefully be more artistic or sentimental or something.

Lily turned eleven. Gasp. This year for her birthday she wanted her own room. She and Canyon have been sharing a room since he was born and I guess she decided that the man cave, which was creeping out from below the bunk bed into the bedroom proper, was getting a leetle to manly (read: gross boy stuff). So we gave her the guest room, which is a bonus because now we can’t have guests. Sorry. (Ok, she said she’d go back to Canyon’s room for very special people). The rest of you can sleep in the barn.

So I spent the few months before her birthday making a quilt and gathering ‘stuff’ to make a perfect girl room. Those things included quilt, pillows, new dresser, clean closet, and her books. Then I sent the two of them away for the weekend and we flurried about and switched rooms. They came home to new rooms and big grins.

A view of Lily's new room.

For her actual birthday we had homemade angel food cake again, which is becoming quite popular here.

Lily’s pretty independent. She still loves to read, she’ll ride her bike all over town to get to her friend’s houses, swim practice or the library. She plays with her sisters and helps me whenever she can. She still doesn’t like to practice piano though. What’s up with that? Seriously, any tricks—cause I’m about to give up. And, we love her. This year she’s starting middle school and so everyone, and I do mean everyone, please cross your fingers that we can have a smooth transition into the teen years? Please?

Lily and her angel food cake.

Now Alice.

Alice’s obsession from space and Star Wars has turned to the ocean and mermaids. She and Jane spend their waking hours doing mermaid swims at the pool and the lake. For her birthday she wanted a mermaid party. So…as you can see from the cake, we kinda copped out with the clip art. But hey, we hung paper circles from the ceiling and told her they were bubbles. I know, I should be on Martha Stewart.

The 'mermaid' cake and cupcakes.

Alice with her cake.

Alice is my best helper. She keeps track of all her things and loves to tidy her room. Seriously. It’s going to be tricky the next few years because we’re starting to learn that Jane doesn’t have the same ‘neat’ tendencies and they’ll be sharing a room for a long time. Yikes! She is very sweet to her sister, to a fault, as Jane is growing up believing that everyone should treat her as well as Alice does. She loves to do her homework and read books about Princess Leia and mermaids.

She did swim team this year and was amazing. She’s a real trooper and never complained and really improved her swimming abilities. We’re really proud of her.

Even though Jane & Alice's quilt isn't finished, we still cleaned up their room.

Alice almost cried when she saw how organized it was. My little OCD, love that!

We are doing other things this summer too, besides celebrating birthdays which include, but aren’t limited to: swim team, riding bikes, hiking, swimming at Bear Lake with cousins, swimming at Del Valle (our lake), reading, cleaning out bedrooms, going to camps, going camping, sleeping on the trampoline, eating at In-N-Out, and trying to survive the ginormous squash that are taking over the garden.

In short, summer is very busy and I’m not ready to see it go. We’re stretching it out as long as possible!

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Expedition Everest

Canyon and his cake, complete with mini Tibetan Prayer Flags.

This is going to be all about Canyon. He just had his ninth birthday, and in a family surrounded my attention-seeking girls, it’s his turn.

He has recently discarded WWII aviator for explorer. Not just any kind of explorer, he’s now determined to climb Mt. Everest. We hit the library bio shelves for biographies of George Mallory, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. He has put together an ‘expedition outfit’ and writes in his expedition journal every night. Here are some of his entries:

“My quest is to conquer the mountain and send news all over the world.”

“Very cold, tempertures drop, more, and more, and more people dying frome altadude sickness.”

“I will go in spring and hopefull make it back before the monsoon.”

“Very much want to have just two sunny days on Everest.”

He also has lists of supplies and drawings of the mountain, George Mallory, and Tibetan Prayer Flags. For his birthday he was fortunate enough to get a map and compass, among other useful expedition tools. Lucky for him he has a mom who was able to score some very valuable, extremely inaccessible Tibetan Prayer flags for his cake and his room. I don’t know how she does it. Amazing.

Canyon's very own room! Complete with flags and map of world. As well as man cave

(that's what Lily calls the bottom bunk).

I think he is really excited for our fifty-mile backpack adventure this summer. We are taking Lily and Canyon for a five-day trip in the Sierras. Canyon already has it mapped out with our camp-sites and mileage.

Here's his authentic 'George Mallory' style Everest clothing. Good luck buddy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Miss Jane Elizabeth Turns Four.

Jane, blowing out her candles on her purple, pink and green cupcakes.

So even though it was a month ago, I guess it’s time to compose a tribute to Jane whose fourth birthday was on January 26th. Four? You ask? Yes. Four. I know.

This year has been a great one for Jane. She:

· Learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Yes. Almost a year ago.

· Started preschool. (She pretends like she hates it, but really she loves it.)

· Likes to do everything ‘all by myself.’ Of course.

· Favorite color: purple

· Favorite thing to do: play Polly pocket while watching Davy Crockett. Did you say Davy Crockett? Yes. I did. She loves that buckskin pioneer who killed himself a ‘bar’ when he was only three. Ok. I get it; my kids have weird taste in movies.

· Likes to be in charge.

· Still loves to snuggle in the mornings.

· Has been going through a phase that consists of crying until she gets what she wants. We’re hoping she’ll grow out of it by the time she’s ten.

· Still, adorably, sucks her thumb.

And we love her. What a great four years it has been.

Happy Birthday Jane!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ahem. Public Apology #1.

Dear Lisa,

Remember when you got a kindle way back when they were shiny spanking new? And I would make fun of you. And you would tell me that it was so cool because when you were sitting in the carpool line at school waiting for your kids, you could just whip it out and read. Or if you were at the dentist waiting to go in, you could pull it out of your purse and read. Or if you were sitting at baseball or basketball or scouts, waiting for your kids to finish…you could open your purse, grab it and read. Remember that?

And I would say, with sarcasm dripping down my chin, “Yeah. Like a book.”

Remember how rude I was.

Then, remember how you gave me your very first shiny new kindle for my birthday because you got a shinier, newer kindle for Christmas?

And I was like, “Cool.” But didn’t even try to hide the, I’m way cooler than this, I’m going to go read my twenty pound Chaucer anthology now, voice. Remember that?

Well. I’ve had that shiny new kindle now for 31 days and, guess what? I LOVE IT. I can’t even begin to describe in words how much I love that kindle. I am so sorry for all of my snarky, snobby remarks.

I thought I was being a defender of paper and proper reading habits. Really, I was just unrealistic.

I LOVE the classics I can get for free. I love the chance to ‘free sample’ a book before I buy (or not buy) it. I LOVE that I can have a book that I really, really want in thirty seconds.

So I’m only going to say this once. You were right. I was wrong.

I bow down and worship you. Thank you for the kindle.

Your BKFF (Best Kindle Friend Forever),


Monday, January 17, 2011


Jane's peeking out from under Alice's arm.
I know it looks great, but it's colder than it looks.

Hasn't January felt long. It seems like we've been in January for three months now and it's not even close to over yet.

The good news for us is that occasionally we get some sun. The kids get a little overly excited and throw on summer clothes, but how can I argue with that? At least they're outside.