““I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

-ROALD DAHL, “My Uncle Oswald”

So here’s to the first week or so of May 2014!

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Lunch with many amazing ladies at Journey at Pechanga: all of these women amaze me with their lives and the way they live them, fearlessly. One is about to return to Ghana for three years; one has sought exotic travel around the world, and one is pursuing a branch of her narrative from her past. All of them tell the most engaging stories. Many were my teachers and then my colleagues, and as our relationships span in many cases twenty years (or more), I continue to look at them for inspiration. So thankful I got to see them all!

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We took Open Gate out of Newport and back to Catalina Island, this time to Two Harbors. This port of call beckoned to me a bit more than the more touristy Avalon. We hiked around, talked to the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse, had a bit of lunch, and took in the island vibe. What a relaxing adventure last week!

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Eric dozed on the way back from Two Harbors…

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The setting sun sparkled on the water…

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Dad made good time over the choppy waves

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Right as we were about to enter the bay, we saw about a dozen dolphins diving all around us. They came quite close to the boat, and the moment was magical. We are not currently big Sea World people out of concern about their practices (the kiddos have never been, actually), so this was extremely cool!

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Our local blueberry farm opened up the first weekend in May, also! By far the earliest they have opened! The berries are luscious and plump this year and taste so sweet and so much like summer. I anticipate many more visits.

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We enjoyed swimming last weekend after the blueberry picking!

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Last Sunday we celebrated my William at the Crystal Apple teaching awards. I am always so proud of him and so thankful for the hard work that he does. I got to see many of my former colleagues, and listening to the students speak, I must admit that I missed my profession quite a bit. If only I could be in two places at once, but I can’t…and right now, I adore teaching my little people so much.

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My mom and the kiddos and I also fit in another hike to the Santa Rosa Plateau. We’ve been trying to go at least once or twice a week. This past week we hiked to Monument Hill near dusk. Lovely.

 

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We managed to fit in a Disneyland trip, also. Could there be a more visionary place? A day there restores all of us so thoroughly and is a welcome break now and then from the intensity of homeschooling. We go there to play, to savor the magic, to experience delight and precision. Everyone is so nice, the machine is so very well run…it is the best of human nature and production. I love this picture of Eric and my mom in the rockets. Sheer delight (and maybe a bit of terror, ha ha)! I love it, too, because my mom and her siblings used to go to Disneyland all the time when they were younger, and as we walk around she shares family memories. Even as things change, having a place that changes so little is a way to share memories and experiences with the generations that have come before us.

 

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We also had a chance to go on a family date to see our friend Beth perform in the Southwestern Women’s Chorus and their spring Broadway show. In all the years I have known Beth—first as a student, then on committees as a student, then as a colleague and friend (she was my direct admin)—I had never heard her sing! What a beautiful voice she has. In addition to performing in all of the numbers, she also had a solo from My Fair Lady, one of my favorites.

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With Beth and our friend and colleague Patti, after the show. You know what I adore about people? That even after years of knowing someone, people are so rich and full of talents and gifts to be unearthed and seen and appreciated. I am so glad we got to watch and listen to Beth perform. I did tear up royally during the chorus’ rendition of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Memory from Cats. My Uncle Eric loved, loved Broadway tunes, and this whole show reminded me of our mutual affinity for them. When I was growing up, a book of sheet music for Broadway tunes stayed perched atop my Nana’s piano, and even now when I watch a musical I am reminded of my Uncle whom I miss so very, very much. But the threads of someone’s life are never fully lost or cast aside. We pick up those threads and keep weaving, in the actions we take and in the way we seek out connections and experiences that speak to the people they were.

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Also on Sunday: Katie and I got up super early for a 5K charity walk with my friend L (also a former foreign language teacher of mine and eventually a colleague and now a friend) and her daughter down in San Diego near the Convention Center. The drive was easy, the morning misty, and the time with my girl a treasure. Bill watched Eric at home, so it was just the two of us this time. See the Coronado Bridge in the background? Every single time I see that bridge in my life, I remember singing along to the Spice Girls with one of my best friends, Shil, as we went to Prom as friends together in our junior year. Seriously: every time. “Make it last forever/Friendship never ends…”

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We walked for the Miracle Babies foundation. Katie was not a Miracle Baby, but she was born early and spent most of her first day in the NICU due to some minor lung issues. My mom was a preemie who spent the first couple of months in one of the only incubators (at the time) in the state. So we feel a tremendous empathy for these families, and we also believe that teaching a heart for charity starts young. Katie and I have another Stanford-related philanthropic event coming up this month that we are super excited about, too. It is not always easy to find charities we can actively participate in as a whole family (especially since we do not affiliate with any organized groups that routinely have a charity component), but I have been working on it and researching for years. Philanthropy has always been a huge part of my life, especially in high school and college and the past few years have felt a little out of balance that way. We do what we can through donations, but I prefer to be as hands-on as possible. I am thrilled that the kiddos are getting old enough to start making a difference, too.

 

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And finally: the life of farmers, chicken-raisers. My dad and Eric helped to put up some chicken wire along the back fence. We were not able to let them out for a small period of time due to their discovery of how to get under the fence. This led then to one of the girls starting to be hen-pecked. I swear with animals it is always something, but figuring out the solution is part of the challenge and then fun. We were able to work our way through the egg eating incident late last fall, and with a pecking block, beefed up feed, and the ability to run free again, we are noticing less pecking. But the life of a chicken farmer should be its own blog entry! In the meantime, here is a picture of my boy working away with his friend Boppa.

I think this takes care of some of the general catching up…for now! Oh, and I also had to finish a final project for a certification I have been working on for the past couple of years. That was a crunch this week, but I pulled it through. Katie was super helpful and contributed some writing (her idea!) to it, as well. So the first nine days of May have been rockin’!

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