Happy Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrate 29 years of marriage.

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WOW!

Where did the time go? We blended two families together-6 kids! We are now 11 grandchildren, 3 great-grand children, and a significant number of significant others (all whom I am  glad to say we love dearly).  It was a great deal of hard work and sacrifices along the way…

but let me go back 29 years…

After dating for almost 2 years, we decided to plan a vacation with the kids. After much research we chose a houseboat on Lake Mead in Nevada. It sounded like a great idea! By this time we knew we were going to get married and in fact had matching wedding bands made. It had come down to settling on the specifics of a wedding. Lake Mead, if you don’t know, it  just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada-and as you probably do know is a hot spot for weddings. It wasn’t much of a leap at this point to decide to elope and allow the houseboat, with all of the kids to be our honeymoon.

Without saying a word to anyone, we made a plan. We didn’t even tell the kids until we were enroute for fear they would not be able to keep such a big secret.  At the time we worked in real estate so the only person who knew was the printer who in advance of the wedding printed up my new business cards. It was how we would spread the word to our co-workers. We told the kids to be sure to pack one nice outfit but due to the rush of last minute preparations I did not follow up on their chosen wardrobe. As a result, we were a bit of a rag-tag looking group for the wedding which did not matter in the slightest.  I grabbed the newest dress I had which my sister had given me for my birthday the month before.

Needless to say, most of preparations for this trip were focused on the things we would need for 7 days on the houseboat. We purchased 56-6 packs of soda (okay, a bit of overkill and math isn’t my best subject anyway),  blow up tubing and toys for the lake, sunscreen, food, games, and all of the expected things one might need in the middle of a lake in the brutal desert in mid August.

As we made our way on the just under 4 hour drive to Las Vegas we announced to the kids of our pending nuptials.  At this early stage in our relationship we were in no way the idea of a blended family but they took the news rather well we thought.  Perhaps they were just anxious to get to the vacation on the lake.  Who knows. There were no cell phones in those days so no worry of them tipping anyone off.  We would make the appropriate calls to family after the ceremony.

When we arrived in Las Vegas,  I settled the kids into our two hotel rooms at the Landmark Hotel (we almost cried years later when this hotel was imploded). Thommmee made arrangements including a limo to pick us up and take us to a cute wedding chapel-the limo ride a real treat for the kids!  Our group somehow managed to pull ourselves together and before we knew it we were standing before a minister reciting our wedding vows . There was no Elvis look-a-like or any other corny theme (well, just my cheesy fake flower bouquet).

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It was just simply a beautiful moment.

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  We were soon off then to a buffet dinner in a hotel I cannot even remember.

With a whirl of activity and before we knew it, we were honeymooning on a lake in confined quarters with a group of kids. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect honeymoon!  The kids still talk about what a great trip it was.

29 years ago already and it has been a beautiful journey. Of course that is not to say it was always easy or even fun, but it was our journey . When people see us with our family now there is not usually a mention of a blended family. We don’t consider them your kids or my kids but our kids-our family.  We believe that God has blessed us and brought us to where we are today. We are grateful, we are thankful.

At 25 years we renewed our marriage vows.

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It only gets better!

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Happy Anniversary to the most amazing husband-my husband-my Thommmee. Here is to the next 29 years!

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Where have all the flowers gone…..

Well, maybe not flowers.  Where has mommermom gone?

This is not meant to be another sad story about why I have not been blogging for these past months. No excuses. Many of you have had circumstances that might have interfered with your blogging and yet….you kept on blogging….so no excuses.

It really comes down to one thing-

DO I REALLY WANT TO CONTINUE WITH MY BLOG?

I have asked myself this question many times. I have felt guilty, made excuses to myself, and simply could not answer that question.  At least in my absence of first few months I kept up with my favorite bloggers and then poof! I could not even manage to do that very much.

Sigh…..

I thought about the years I blogged, the time and effort I had put into my posts, my increased followers, the friendships I established, the interesting posts I was missing and yet I still could not seem to settle down to either read nor post. Then, I read an honest post from The Blue Jangmi  and she grabbed my attention immediately!  I realized I could come clean. I could throw myself on the mercy of my blogging friends and  community to ask for forgiveness.

GULP

Okay here goes. Please forgive me for disappearing so abruptly,  for ignoring your heartfelt posts,  for deleting you from my inbox often without more than a cursory glance,  for allowing myself to think I was too busy or whatever to stay connected. I apologize that you were kind enough to follow me and I was simply… unavailable.

So, you might ask, will I continue with my blog? I want to but I don’t want to make a promise that I might not keep.  I do promise, however, to be honest about my decision. If you are willing to hang in there with me a bit longer,  I would be grateful.  As you well know a bunch of hard work goes into blogging!  I could not bear to be a half-hearted blogger so for me it is all in or it is out!  I might need a little time to catch up with you all so patience is appreciated.

Thank you dear friends, fellow bloggers, and visitors.

Sincerely,

mommermom

 

 

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California Citrus State Historic Park

A few weeks ago on an unexpectedly sunny Sunday afternoon, (say that 3 times fast!) we decided to get outside and enjoy the day. We are not used to so many cloudy or rainy days around here.  We headed to Riverside to visit the Citrus  State Historic  Park. Having driven by this place a few times over the years, we really didn’t know much about it or what to expect.

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With only about a 30 minute drive we arrived in time for the (free) 12:00 tour. There were about 10 people in our group, consisting of all ages. Some were local and others were visiting from colder climates and enjoying the California sunshine. Bree was our volunteer docent / guide. She is a full time high school biology teacher by day. She was very knowledgeable and made the one hour walking tour very interesting.

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After giving us an empty  bag and a promise of free samples,  Bree gave us a brief history of the Citrus industry in Riverside, California. At one time this was the California Gold. Soon we headed off to the magnificent orange groves for a few citrus lessons up close and personal.

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Naturally there was one person there who just wanted to buck the system and seemed to perhaps think that because of her age the rules simply did not apply to her. Shockingly she was probably the oldest person in the group! Perhaps she felt her age entitled her to some special privileges such as picking up dropped fruit from the ground when we were specifically told not to. It is a state park after all, so we must know you are not allowed to take anything out of the park. I felt sympathy for our guide when she had to politely chastise this overzealous visitor.

Anyway, as we walked along a very smooth pathway we stopped at various trees for information about that specific type of tree. There were also many photo opportunities and since it was such a gorgeous day we took advantage of it.

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The palm trees were added to distinguish the dirt roads within the grove.

As we stopped at each tree she educated us on the type of fruit, its history, and other  citrus related information.  She  occasionally, but carefully (to not harm either the fruit or the tree), cut a piece of fruit for each of us to take home. We came home with lemons, grapefruit, navel oranges, tangelos, and blood oranges just to name a few. Who knew there was so many varieties? The grove works closely with the University of California at Riverside in the development and education  of new and existing varieties of citrus. This would include disease resistance as well as trees specifically for grafting to produce the new varieties. I did not know that a citrus tree does not generally grow from a seed but from a graft. Some trees are specifically grown just for this purpose.

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Not just dropped fruit-a tree specifically for grafting.

 We had a picturesque and easy walk  around the grove.

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Notice the smudge-pot in the lower left of the picture. These were heated with oil to keep fruit from freezing years ago. Now, water is used. Much more environmentally friendly.

All too soon we were taken back to the main building and gift shop. On the patio our education continued along with slices of the various fruits.

20170129_132221.jpgI grew up in Riverside and spent most of my life driving around orange groves. I really did not think beyond the beauty of the trees and the groves themselves. It was just the way it was. Sometimes we don’t miss something until it is gone.

There are almost 400 acres of citrus trees in the park.

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A small Museum, gift shop, and outbuildings which are available for rent to host events make up the remainder of the park. For a mere $5 entrance you are able to spend an enjoyable afternoon and actually have something to take home with you! Perfect for history buffs, the curious, or for a local outing.  With the Cara Cara oranges being our absolute favorite, we stopped at a roadside stand and purchased a bag.

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Sometimes when you take a moment to look around your own community it is  amazing what points of interest you might stumble across. I highly recommend this to Southern California locals or visitors. Although orange groves were very commonplace throughout the areas here, eventually it was decided that the real money was in the real estate and  many thousands of acres throughout Southern California were plowed over in the name of progress. Now, homes fill the landscape. I suppose this is something that happens all over as we get away from a more natural environment to a more commercial or industrial environment. I’m so grateful for state and national parks in that preserve uniqueness and beauty.

What are your favorite protected parks?

A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day this year we decided to bypass the traditional candy, flowers, or dinner at a crowded restaurant. With a desire to enjoy the sunshine, avoid crowds, and spend some together time away from life distractions, we packed the camping gear, loaded up the car, and headed to our favorite place…

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I know, doesn’t sound very romantic, does it?  For some crazy reason (to some anyway) we love this place! Over the past 30 years we have been here about 25 times and each visit is unique as well as beautiful.  Maybe it is the serenity, the diversity, or  the peacefulness that calls to us but we are drawn back here year after year. Last spring we came in early March to experience the Super Bloom.

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2016

Once every decade or so, the desert comes alive with a magnificent show of flowers. The almost magical conditions of dormant flowers seeds, rain, and weather have to be just right for this phenomenon to occur.  It really was a sight to behold.

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2017

 We left home at 4:00 am and arrived before 9:00 am. The campground much busier than expected but we found a couple leaving so we were able to get a great campsite. We had packed light for our brief visit and set up was completed in no time.

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We now had a full day to soak up some much needed sun and enjoy the day.

After settling in and taking some time to appreciate the day before us, we decided to head over to the pool at Furnace Creek Ranch. There is a marvelous spring-fed swimming pool that maintains about a 80 degree temperature year round. For a mere $5.00 each we could use the pool and showers for an entire day. We had a lovely swim with snow capped mountains in the background. I actually forgot to take a picture but more information and pictures are found in the provided link.

A few hours later we headed back to the campsite for lunch and a brief nap.

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 We wanted to make the most of our short visit so soon pulled out our beloved Scrabble game for a few ‘friendly’ (but competitive) games.

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It was Valentine’s Day after all so we continued the celebration with some bubbly.

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We completed a lovely day with barbecued steak and baked potatoes, a campfire, and star gazing. The nighttime sky is unbelievable!

Before we knew it we were enjoying the sunrise from our tent…

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…and it was already time to pack up and head back. We might have stayed another day but we have two new kittens at home and were not yet comfortable leaving them for any length of time. I know our cat-sitter had things under control but you know how new parents are!

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After breakfast in the cafe, we decided to take the scenic drive out of the park and headed towards Badwater, at about 279 degrees below sea level. Furnace Creek is almost at sea level. You can see the snow capped Panamint Mountains in the distance.

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While I was snapping pictures of the salt flats at Badwater, Thommmee was snapping pictures of me!

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We lingered along the way…in no hurry to leave.

Jubilee Pass

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It is not often you see such green in the desert. We have had a great deal of rain this season with more expected. This is seriously helping our drought situation!

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For us, this was a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.

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Life is a journey…

Like many people, I have the best of intentions of eating right and exercising more. Like many people, I often do not meet my goals-in fact too often throw the diet and bathroom scale out the window! I want to be healthier, I follow blogs and Instagram that offer marvelously healthy recipes, visit websites that attempt to encourage and motivate and like many people have a gym membership that is currently being ignored and a bike that is gathering dust at the side of the house.

WHY????

Oh, I have bad knees, a busy schedule, birthday parties to attend and…well…frankly I have many other excuses too!  I’ll do well for a few weeks at a time but before I know it I am pretty much back to where I started. Maybe not all the way back but far enough.

One day I was catching up on blog posts and came across a posting that caught my eye at Blue Jangmi. She was participating in a Whole Food Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to remove specific items from you diet for 30 days, restart your metabolism,  and change the way you think about food.  When you reintroduce items you can possibly determine if certain foods are causing you problems.  You can then eliminate these foods from your diet. Also, after 30 days, you will have (hopefully) broken your bad food habits and maybe then you can begin healthier eating habits-right? Sounded good. I chuckled and commented to her that although it sounded nice, I just didn’t have 30 days in my life where I could avoid eating certain things and so good luck to her.  She kindly replied letting me know that there was never a perfect time to do something that was important for yourself.

…And I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
…And I decided to do it!

I didn’t talk about my decision very much because, frankly, I didn’t know if I could really do it. What started out to just be a personal challenge with some hopes of success turned into a meaningful journey. I committed to the September 2016 Whole 30 Challenge.

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I relied on Instagram for most of my information, motivation, and encouragement. I began to follow other people who were participating in the challenge and before long not only was I using some of their recipes but I was posting some of my own. I began to experiment and try new foods. Instead of just zucchini and yellow squash I tried acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. I learned to drink my coffee black, to forgo artificial sweeteners, to create a pumpkin chill that  was husband approved,  and make scrambled eggs with grated sweet potatoes (who knew you could do so many things with sweet potatoes???)

I read product labels for hidden sugars and started using something called coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to enhance the taste of some foods. I stared making my own ghee (a clarified butter) instead of actual butter. Full fat coconut milk and avocados became a part of my diet. No more wine with dinner (for 30 days anyway) or bread…but somehow I didn’t really miss it all much. (well, maybe the creamer in my coffee)

In a short while I noticed changes in the way my clothes were fitting. Since you’re giving up your relationship with food and your scale, I was not supposed to weigh or measure myself the entire 30 days.

Did I actually feel better you might ask? Well, yes and no. I was sleeping better but my joints still hurt. I didn’t have any specific food issues previously so I couldn’t judge changes in that way. I seemed to have more energy and I was not hungry between meals. My favorite meal of the day was dessert and I didn’t ( and don’t) even miss that!! Apples seemed to satisfy my sweet tooth most of the time.

I did feel a sense of accomplishment when I completed the entire 30 days.

I lost 11 pounds and a week later I was down 15 pounds. By November down 20 pounds. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a ways to go. The funny thing is I rather like maintaining this paleo-ish eating style. As we entered into the holiday season I knew there were many eating opportunities/challenges before me  and I took advantage of some (and maybe many?)  But… I needed to remember one of my favorite quotes:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

So I planned and tried to make choices that worked for me.

During this time, one of my daughters  was busy jumping out of airplanes and challenging herself. She bought a motorcycle. She was learning to make changes in different ways  Her thoughts were if she can do this she can do anything!!  She was an inspiration to me! Anything is possible….

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I am happy to announce she eloped this past weekend!

(talk about moving out of your comfort zone!)

While I had no plans of jumping out of an airplane, don’t like motorcycles,  and happily married to Thommee for almost 29 years, I was excited to see where this journey might take me.

A January Whole 30 Challenge began this month and I jumped back on board.

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I felt the tune-up would help keep me on track after the holidays. It is going great. I will complete this challenge on January 30. I plan to continue on a somewhat Paleo diet. I love zipping up my jeans and tying my shoelaces. While my path might be somewhat modified, I found many people and supporters making this a life mission. They inspire me too! I am in awe of their dedication to good health but I don’t think it will happen for me in quite the same way. We all need to find our own journey and what works for us, right?  It is amazing what a few changes and attitude can make…and we can always learn and grow.

If you would like to review my journey, check out my Instagram. If you are curious about this Whole 30 program, just click on the link.

Any obstacles you are facing these days?

Happy 2017

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Computers and Life

As you may recall, our computer has been acting up for some time. I have come to realize that a new computer will be moving up on the priority list fairly soon. It’s hard to make that decision when you’re faced with completing a new kitchen floor that is halfway finished, preparing for a Thanksgiving road trip for a 90th year birthday celebration for Thommmee’s mom, and then of course Christmas is right around the corner. We’ve been limping along between two ailing laptops for a while now. Both of them have their own quirks and problems. I have spent hours on the phone with our internet service provider trying to resolve some of the issues but….the bottom line is, we need a new computer.

I recently commented that the public library have computers available at no charge but somehow….. the inconvenience of trotting down there is, well frankly… inconvenient!  I do rely on my fancy little smartphone for most things but for blogging it just doesn’t cut it. It makes a person wonder how we got along without such necessities for so long, dosen’t it? Games,  email,  searching,  blogging….. If you are a blogger it’s rather important,  I think.

Life offers highs and lows and in actuality this is not the end of the world. I have certainly been blessed with more ups than downs so my complaint is really just a moment of voiced inconvenience. Sometimes it is the frustrations of ordinary life that get the best of us!

Silly,  huh?

Farewell to Summer

Our summer here is officially over.  Fall begins tomorrow. The high temperatures will linger into October but the nights will begin to cool. In November  we will experience our “fall” in Southern California.  From now until then we will have dry dusty days without rain, Santa Ana winds, and abundant sunshine. The palm trees will remain green, native plants will flourish, hillsides will continue to brown,  leaves will drop and blow in the wind, but a few splashes of fall colors maybe found.

Summer was wonderful.  Although we spent more time at home than usual, we enjoyed many opportunities to get outdoors and appreciate summer. Rather than bore you with details,  I decided to showcase a few highlights and allow the pictures to tell most of the story.

A visit to Berkeley and the University of California

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Exploring Berkeley and visiting with family.

Visiting a winery near Gilroy, California

Salinas, California-Home of John Steinbeck.

Beautiful Monterey Bay

Camping in Big Sur and exploring the California coastline.

Laughing in amazement at sun bathing sea lions.

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A Phoenix sunrise. One of two trips we made to Arizona.

Who knew Arizona could be so green?

We loved our visit to Oro Valley north of Tuscon, Arizona…

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…and even enjoyed the rain!

Our small garden yielded us tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, and strawberries.

I worked on a few sewing and craft projects.

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We spent a great deal of time with family, friends, and just hanging out.

(and of course eating and shopping!)

So while we say farewell to the Summer of 2016…

I am looking forward to what comes next!

How was your summer?

(or winter-depending on where you live)