Sunday, November 22, 2015


Rita came to me on Halloween of 2000. She was a scared little puppy, hungry and full of fleas. My roommate, Jessi, wanted to name her Little Spooker.  We didn't have any dog food for her so we gave her some Doritos and she gobbled them up. We thought Dorita would be a good name, and then the name "Rita" popped into my head and became the perfect choice. Rita kept me up most of the first night that we had her, crying and carrying on.  The next day, I gave her a flea treatment and she moved into my room. She became my constant companion and went everywhere with me. Even while I went to class in the evenings for the teacher ed program, she would stay with my sister in the dorms. She was fiercely protective of me and would bark or growl at strangers if they got too close to us. Upon meeting Phil, he was the first stranger she approved of and didn't bark at. She soon earned the nick name "Queen of the World" for her strong and mighty presence and fierce attitude. We often joked that the back step was her throne.

Rita was my friend through thick and thin and greeted me with complete joy each and everyday. She couldn't wait for the boys to go to bed at night so she could hop up and snuggle with me in the couch. She loved to burrow in our blankets and curl up right against my stomach with a little sigh as she finally found the right position. 

The last few years with Rita have been hard. Her health started to decline. Her eyes slowly clouded over with cataracts and her hearing left her. She became mostly silent and stopped her howling greetings when I would come home.  She would only bark when her majesty wanted to be let in or out. Her most difficult ailment was congestive heart failure. She became more and more lethargic. 

On August 8, 2015, my Rita Baby passed away and I said goodbye to one of my best friends. I miss her everyday but I am so thankful of the years that we spent together. 

"Founding Day" October 31, 2000 - August 8, 2015

House Rennovations

The second that we got the keys to our house, I could not wait to get going on the house projects. Immediately we met with a painter and a contractor. I had only 4 weeks until I had to start working again at school! We had the whole house painted and gave the kitchen a complete facelift. I felt absolutely giddy with the results. 

I spent many hours reprinting this craigslist entertainment center...

And this bookcase too.

The quilt on this sofa is such a favorite. I so enjoyed making this at my grandma's this summer.

I still can't believe this house is ours. I sometimes feel like I need to pinch myself. 

I also have enjoyed having a mantle to decorate seasonally.

About a week after we moved in to our house, I had to say one of my hardest good byes. 

Busy Year

Last year, I went back to work full time. The boys were both in school and it seemed like the right time. Phil and I also wanted to move closer to all our friends and to church and felt that we had outgrown our house. We started doing some repairs in January last year, then listed our house in March. Our realtor prayed over our home once we listed it, which gave Phil and I some reassurance about the whole process.  Within three days, we had accepted an offer on our home. We hadn't found anything that we wanted to buy, so we were faced with the reality of living in my grandma's house on the farm and putting all our things into storage. 

During our escrow period, we took an amazing trip to Hawaii with my family to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary. 

My mom had arranged for us to get leis as soon as we arrived at the airport. 

Getting to our resort in Hawaii on Maui was breathtaking. I couldn't get over how gorgeous the resort was and the ocean was so blue. I have never stayed anywhere as amazing as our resort. The boys had a POG on the first night after we arrived. Ryan decided he was going to have one POG at each meal for a total of 21 POGs for the entire trip. He made it to 20 and got sick of it. 

Phil and I went to the Old Lahaina luau one night while we were there. We really enjoyed it. We even ran into another couple from Bakersfield while we were there. Small world! 

My favorite pastime on the trip was snorkeling. We swam with turtles and amazing, colorful fish. I felt like I was in a giant aquarium. The warm water made swimming so enjoyable. I think I'm spoiled for life now. 

One thing that was on my Hawaii bucket list was to drink out of a coconut. It was not as good as I wanted it to be, but at least I did it. Something else I enjoyed about Hawaii was the fact that I could go anywhere in a swimsuit and cover up and it was never considered inappropriate. What a life! 

We also celebrated my mom's birthday while we were there. Jack drew this picture for her birthday gift. After having a piƱa colada with her birthday dinner, we saw the parrot man selling parrot pictures on the street. My mom indulged the boys and took this picture. 

This trip to paradise was a an amazing break in the craziness of moving out of our house. When we got home, we had one week left to move everything out of our house and move to my grandma's. That week was one of the more exhausting weeks in my life. 

It was so strange to say goodbye to our home.

Moving to the farm was so fun but also so strange to live without any of our things. The boys spent copious amounts of time exploring outside and would go so far into the orchards that I had to buy them walkie talkies so I didn't lose them. 

We also had the privilege of living next to my cousins for the summer, which was great fun for all of us. The boys and their cousins would wake up and ride bikes to each other's houses, while Kelly and Katie and I would spend our time talking and enjoying each other's company. I had to impose an 8am rule where no one could visit until that time each day. 

After living at Grandma's for a few months, we found our house. (Please forgive the quality of the photos. They were from the listing.) Even though there were changes I wanted to make to the home, I could see my vision for the space, and best of all, Phil could too. After a rocky escrow period, we were finally owners of a home! 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New School Year

Monday is going to bring a lot of new changes for our family.  Jack starts kindergarten, Ryan will be in second, and I will be a full time second grade teacher.  I haven't taught full time in six years.  I'm sure we'll have some adjusting to do, but we're also really excited for this year.  Jack was so happy to find out that he was in the "froggy" classroom and Ryan is thrilled that he is with his same teacher from last year, along with his friend Jaxon.  Thankfully Phil's job is the same so he can help the rest of us hold down the fort.  

Part of becoming a full time teacher again meant I had to move to a new classroom.  I had a lot of fun decorating my new room, but I sure missed my teaching partner!  It's a lot more work to do everything by yourself.  I wanted my surroundings to make me feel happy in my new home away from home as well as be inviting for my students.  I'm really happy with how my room looks and am excited to start a new year.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Road Trip to Portland 2014

We just got back from a really great road trip to visit Doug and the girls in Portland.  Our boys are finally not needing naps or strollers so this trip was tons of fun.  There was nothing relaxing about it, but we loved every second of it.  

Our first travel day started bright and early at 6AM.  We stopped first at the Sacramento train museum.  Before we went inside, we saw a mini donut shop across the street so a snack was in order. We needed to prevent the infamous Ogden "hanger."  We got to watch as our donuts were made.  It reminded me of the book Homer Price.  

Next up were the trains.  Now that Ryan is seven, he was asking Jack to slow down so he had more time to look at the trains.  How the times have changed over the course of a few years.  

After the train museum, we set our sights on Ashland, which was our day one stopping place.  We passed by Lake Shasta along the way, where the drought and the water level were abundantly apparent.  

We were super happy when we crossed the border because we knew Ashland was just a bit further.  

On day two, we got up and headed for Doug's.  We made a stop in Eugene to see Geoff and Shanna, and then we caravanned the rest of the way.  Jack asked incessantly to see his cousins along the way.

He was finally and happily reunited.  

On day three, we spent some time in the park across from Doug's house.  Georgia, who was not too sure of me on the first day, became my friend at the park, even though she looks pretty unhappy in this picture.  We went down the slide about a million times together, which started off our friendship.  

The littles were ready for a nap at this point, so our family stayed in the park to do some exploring in the woods.  We promptly found a garden snake that Ryan wanted to keep.  

That evening, all the grown ups went out to dinner to celebrate Doug's birthday.  We ate at the Pied Cow after first trying Pok Pok, where the wait was going to be two hours.  (This reminded us of the Portlandia brunch episode, so we had to watch it after we returned home.)  Our evening was awesomely Portland.  

We then went to Salt and Straw for ice cream.  It certainly did not disappoint.  

Day four, we went to Doug's church and then in the afternoon, we went to the Children's Museum.  The kids had so much fun!  The girls and Jonathan had never been so it was so much fun watching them.  

Voodoo Doughnuts, the zoo, and a visit to Anna and Mike's were on our itinerary for day five.  

Jack thought he was going to die waiting in the line for his donut.  

He also thought that I ordered him the wrong donut when I asked for a chocolate glazed bar instead of a "chocolate maple bar" as he calls them.  He fell on the floor and cried.  Luckily, when he saw that I got it right, things improved.  He slowly devoured his entire donut and a carton of milk, then carefully licked each finger.  It was epic.  He also didn't eat anything else until dinner that night.  

The zoo was next.  

Ryan and Phil had Lorikeets land on them and drink nectar.  Because of this, Jack had another meltdown and said, "They're NEVER gonna land on me!", followed by tears.  (We may have also been going too hard and resting too little at this point.)

Our last stop for the day was Anna and Mike's.  I got to hold Joseph.  He is the squishiest and snuggliest baby ever.  I loved meeting him and holding him and Anna and I also enjoyed catching up.  I had a hard time saying goodbye that night.  Living so far away is tough.  

The next morning, we gave Georgia and Carolina the donuts that we brought back for them.  The girls were pretty excited when they saw the chocolate frosting.  

Next, we took the boys to OMSI.  At this point in the trip I felt like I had a hang over from too much fun and not enough sleep.  It took till about noon before I felt like I was really awake.  The boys loved OMSI. (Which, is pronounced AWMSEE, not OHMSEE.  We were corrected by our Portland friends.)  

We got to see the dinosaur exhibit, the planetarium, and do a ton of cool science experiments.  We practically had to drag the boys out of the museum and we had been there for about five hours!  

We left OMSI to visit our friends, Ben and Alli.  We were wondering why all of our Portland friends had to live in different suburbs that were all in opposite directions from one another.  We had another very enjoyable evening, and again, we had a hard time wanting to say goodbye.  

We had to tell the girls goodbye before they went to bed that night because we were leaving the next morning before they got up.  This was so hard, but was made a bit easier by the fact that they didn't really understand that we were leaving.  Carolina and I were already buddies before this trip and we had so much fun together.  Georgia and I got to know each other really well this time.  She even told me "I yuh you."  She melted my heart and has me around he little finger.  

We left bright and early the next morning and really didn't make any stops until we got back to California.  It rained the entire drive out of Oregon, but stopped about five miles into California.  I was hoping our family could bring the rain back to California.  

We made it to Vacaville by the evening and were completely beat.  We picked up finger food and just had a picnic on the floor of the hotel room.  We all went to bed early to catch up on some much needed sleep for our big day in San Francisco.  

Our plan was to drive into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge and then to stop in the viewing area and take some pictures.  The whole city was bright and sunny except for a giant bank of fog that covered the entire bridge.  We could barely see it even as we drove across it.  The bank of fog never lifted the entire day.  When we made it into the city, we parked in Fisherman's Wharf, then went to the Musee Mechanique. 

There weren't many people around since we were there right when it opened.  

Right outside the doors to the Museum, was this cargo ship from WWII along with a submarine.  They boys wanted to go inside both, but because we only had one day to spend in the city, we made the boys pick one.  They picked the ship.  

Ryan could have stayed on the ship all day, but Jack and Phil were stricken with a case of hanger and we had to find food quickly before someone got hurt.  After lunch, we got in line for the cable car, which surprisingly wasn't very long.  

As the cable car pulled away from a crowd of people, Jack said, "So long, suckers."  I about died.  I don't know what  I'm going to do with that boy.  

We spent a little time near union square and Market street, then walked up Grant through Chinatown and on to North Beach.  

North Beach was our final destination for our day in SF.  We got coffee at El Greco, our favorite coffee house, and all the boys got a snack.  Phil ordered strawberry ice cream for Jack, strawberry lemonade ice cream for Ryan, and tiramisu for himself.  When Phil set all the food on the table, Jack started crying and said, "but chocolate is my favorite."  Phil, being the kind father that he is, traded Jack and let him have the tiramisu.  

He ate EVERYTHING and then said, "I love coffee AND chocolate!"  We do too, Jack, we do too.

Our family was totally exhausted at this point and had about a five hour drive to get home.  We started the journey back to the car and after a MUNI jaunt in the wrong direction, we caught a cab, found our car, and started the drive home.  This little mistake in direction also satisfied the boys' desire to ride as many forms of public transportation as possible.  

We made it home just before midnight and realized how amazing it felt to sleep in our own beds that night.  We learned that we don't hate road trips like we previously had thought.  It turns out that as the kids get older, things like this trip get to be a lot more fun.  This was probably one of the best family vacations we've ever taken and we can't wait to do it again!