Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

9 days with my nephews

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

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At Christmas time, my dad’s gift to me was a ticket to visit my sister in Texas after her second baby was born in March. April was a busy month, we moved! But early May was perfect for my visit.

My sister SS lives with her family in The Woodlands, a planned community north of Houston. She has two boys; JWS is going to be two years old in June, and JNS was born on March 30th so he was living his 6th and 7th weeks while I was there. Both of my nephews are at very fun ages! JW loves to play, play, play. He likes to read books, mostly so he can turn the pages, and put together puzzles, play with balls and cars, go to the park, and most of all he loves Technology. He’s an expert at scrolling his dad’s iPhone with his chubby little index finger, and he’s always happy to look at photos, videos, and listen to music on the computer or TV. He had a little toy camera that he would pull out whenever I had mine in hand and we would take pictures of each other and with each other. Even the cheap little calculator I keep in my knitting bag was good for some intense button-pushing and number-clearing. His favorite word is “More,” with the accompanying baby-sign-language gesture of tapping all fingertips together. (Meaning, more crackers, do that trick again, let’s watch another video.) He also says “baby,” “cracker,” “juice,” “bubble,” and of course “Mom” and “Dad.” I tried to get him to say “Aunt KT” but he didn’t quite get there.

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JN is a perfect little bundle of baby. He has a pointy little nose, pointy little chin, and expressive eyebrows. Most of the time he looks very serious, but he is starting to give some heart-melting toothless baby grins. He likes to wave his hands around, kick his legs, and he made some excellent progress in the holding-up-his-head department during my visit. I knitted him a stuffed turtle, which my sister named Herman.

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On our way to the park. The neighborhood is picture-perfect.

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Along the path. Lots of pretty trees. I went jogging here in the mornings.

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Part of the “big deal” about me visiting Texas was the very different climate! I packed very light – just threw some cotton dresses, tops, and shorts into one of those good-sized carry-on bags. When I arrived, it was already quite warm and humid. My sister’s home is of course air-conditioned, and they have a pool. But to my Oregonized constitution, it definitely felt like summer outside. I got up early to go running before it got too sticky. Then, halfway through my visit, we had a big thunder storm with downpour of rain. That was exciting! And the best part was, the weather was beautiful and non-humid for the rest of my visit. This sunset was made even more enjoyable by the fact that I sat on the driveway in flip-flops to watch it.

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JW and I got to play outside a lot, in the yard and at the park.

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JN is too little to play at the park, but he liked his activity mat, especially when his big brother would turn on the lights and music and Auntie would swing the hanging toys for him. He kicked the crinkly sound-maker all by himself. Who can resist a tiny person in a T-shirt that says, “Hi, I’m new here.”

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The day before I left we took an excursion to the Woodlands Town Center. It’s sort of downtown-ish, with lots of shopping in a sort of outdoor-mall style. We got sandwiches and ate them outside. It was lovely in the shade.

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The Woodlands Town Center. It's like a big outdoor mall.

There’s a waterfront area with boats, birds, and fish to look at. JWS would have trotted all around the nearby arena if I’d let him.

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All in all, it was such a wonderful trip. I had a great time visiting with my sister and just hanging out in her life. We hadn’t had so much time together since we both lived at home with our parents, and so much is different now! We had some major catching up to do. I really enjoyed just playing with JW, holding JN, and helping her with their care. I also enjoyed cooking in her enormous kitchen.

Thanks, Dad, it was a gift I will always treasure.

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Short but Sweet

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

That was my summer. Not that it’s totally over – I’m going to savor any more warm weather we may get – but it really did seem to go by quickly this year.

BN and I took a few camping trips earlier in the summer. That was nice, to get away. I’m happy to announce that BN completed his PhD in Math from the U of O! I am very proud of him for sticking with it through thick and thin, mostly thin, and I’m excited to see what’s next for us. We are moving out of Student Housing week after next, to a place north of downtown but still close enough for bike rides to the market, library, etc. BN will be job-hunting, and then it’s pretty wide open where we could end up.

My sister GC came to visit us. She was here during BN’s big thesis defense presentation, so she joined us in celebrating by swimming, camping, whitewater rafting, and blueberry picking. That was a ton of fun.

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Then we went camping in Lassen with my parents and my 4 youngest siblings.

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One of the major highlights was hiking to the Mount Lassen Summit in time to see the sunrise.

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We also rock climbed…

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… played games, made music, swam in the lake, hiked around, and generally had a wonderful time.

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Camping Paradise

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

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This weekend we spent two nights at Paradise Campground, which is along the McKenzie river near Belknap Hot Springs. It was definitely heavenly to soak in a hot pool after a cold afternoon on Day 1 and a hike on Day 2, but some of the amenities at the campground were out of order (nearest available toilet about 1/2 mile from our site). But it sure was pretty. And it hardly rained at all, so that was nice.

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Our day hike was to Blue Pool / Tamolitch Falls. I think it was peak moss season – everything was covered in a layer of beautiful spring-green moss. We stopped to eat a snack at the top of a cliff overlooking the river. BN got a picture of one of the bright yellow birds we saw, a Western Tanager.

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A small opening on this cliff led down into a cave. BN decided to explore it, and discovered that it was HUGE down there. Or I should say wide, extending far in several directions, right under the trail. The ceiling was very low and the floor was uneven, as I learned when I joined him after awhile. The only light we had was the camera – BN took flash pictures to see what was ahead.

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The Blue Pool is astonishingly blue! It’s so clear that it’s hard to tell that it’s really quite deep. These are the same factors that make Crater Lake so blue.

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On the hike back BN got some detailed shots of the Moss Ecosystem. To get a sense of scale, those are pine needles in the lower right of this first picture:

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Hiking home along the river…

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Silver Falls

Friday, May 7th, 2010

During HN’s visit we took a day trip to Silver Falls. Wow, what an amazing place! It should definitely be moved up in status from being just a State Park. National Monument would suit it better.

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I hadn’t been to a place where you can walk around behind the waterfalls before. So cool!

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Our hike between waterfalls was very slow, we kept stopping to photograph all the lush green plants and unusual mosses. BN and I recently purchased the same camera that HN got for Christmas, and she was able to give me some tips about using the manual features. I shared some insight about the concepts behind aperture size and shutter speed.

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A Day in Portland

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

We had my 15-year-old sister visit us in early May. She flew into Portland and the three of us spent the day there together.

We went to Hoyt Arboretum.

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We saw a bunny, who reminded HN of her dear departed Toby.

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We saw lovely moss-covered scenery and native wildflowers.

We had tacos for lunch and walked around downtown. We were amused at this dire warning to those who would ride their bikes over the streetcar tracks.

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In the late afternoon we took the streetcar to see Cirque Du Soleil KOOZA!

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It was an amazing show. After a yummy pasta dinner we made our way home to Eugene, looking forward to a whole week with HN.

Girl Time

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Last weekend I went on the WBC Women’s Retreat. We stayed at a beach house just north of Yachats. It was actually more like a beach hotel – it was huge. It was a few steps away from the beach, and the whole back surface was windows; the view from upstairs was amazing. The weather, while not constantly sunny, was calm and that was very nice. Beach walks are only enjoyable if you are not buffeted by wind.

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This year I was in charge of organizing the food. That was a really fun task, especially because everyone (there were about 22 of us) outdid themselves in bringing plenty of yummy food and all were appreciative of the meals that I planned. On Friday night we had 4 different soups with cornbread, biscuits, and spinach/pear salad. Saturday breakfast was bagels, muffins, and fruit; then we had lasagna, garlic bread and salad bar for lunch.

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We had a wonderful time of sisterly sharing, prayer, and just hanging out. On Saturday night, some ladies had gone home but 12 of us stayed and had a fun, silly game night playing Catchphrase and Salad Bowl – both word-guessing games with verbal clues and charades. It’s hard to gain points for one’s team when one is laughing too hard to speak!

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My friend EL brought her jewelry design supplies and I made a pair of earrings. I already knew she was a wire-wrapping genius, but I have even more respect for her mad skills now that I tried a wire-wrapping project. It came out well but I’m going to have to practice some more!

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Redding Reunion

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

My uncle (Mom’s oldest brother) and his family have lived in Tennessee for as long as I can remember. It was always a special time when they came out to California for a visit – girl-cousin time! My cousin A is 3 years older than me and M is 3 years younger. When we got together it was as if we’d never been apart. When I was 17 I got to fly to TN by myself and visit them during the summer. M and I were BFFs during that time and A drove us around, mature college student that she was.

Uncle D and cousin M came on various visits since then, but I hadn’t seen Aunt N or cousin A in 14 years! This year they all came to CA, including A’s husband and 3 year old son. At first it seemed that I wouldn’t be able to see them, since they were coming the week before our Thanksgiving traveling. But the stars (my job, our travel plans, and Amtrak) aligned and I got to go down to Redding and catch them while they were visiting my other uncle, aunt, and cousins.

I took the train. The only drawback (besides 9 hours in a moving vehicle) was that it arrived in Redding at 2 am. My Saint, I mean Aunt, picked me up at the station and I crawled into cousin M’s bed, just like old times when we were teens.

It was a great visit.

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On Friday the ladies went Junkin.’ My Aunt N is a professional antique store treasure-hunter and her daughters are right up there with her. We browsed vintage lingerie and antique glassware and had a great time. That night we filled an entire section of high school gym bleachers to cheer for my cousin DR (my uncle’s namesake) in his basketball game/fundraiser night.

On Saturday we drove to Burney Falls. It was beautiful day, and a lovely drive, minus a bit of carsickness for the 3 of us girls in the back of the big rental van. My Uncle P was also with us, visiting from San Francisco, and it was fun to see the 3 brothers together.

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On Saturday night Aunt M’s sister hosted all of us for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently gracious hospitality runs in their family! It was a lovely party and it included a magic show provided by PW, cousin A’s husband.

I had such a great time, re-connecting with my cousins and meeting the added members of their bunch. It made me wish we all lived in the same city and could be together all the time.

What a great-looking family, huh?

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After the Tennessee folks had departed, I stayed 3 more days with J & M and their kids. That was such a nice, relaxing visit. They have a beautiful home outside of Redding, with spreading oaks and horse ranches nearby. It’s soooooo quiet there. BN arrived on Tuesday night, and we drove to Tahoe on Wednesday morning.

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Kauai

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

It’s hard to take in the beauty of Kauai with only two eyes, let alone capture it on film (or whatever we call it in this digital age). From the moment we arrived, I felt like just driving along the road was a sight-seeing experience. The plants and trees are so lush and beautiful, the clouds are always changing from glory to glory. Here is a small selection of images, a glimpse of the island.

Arrival. Our westward journey was quite grueling… it was like my nightmare-day, a endless morning with no lunch in sight. BN and I got up at 4am in Portland for our 6am flight, met up with my family in SFO, and arrived in Kauai in the early afternoon.

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First day, at Ke’e beach. We snorkeled. BN and RC built a sand-cube.

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Hanalei: the countryside surrounding the location we stayed (Princeville.) We could see this double-tipped mountain and nearby waterfall from our condo dining room.

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Waimea, the “Grand Canyon” of Hawaii. We watched helicopters taking people on tours, swooping near the waterfall.

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Our hike near the misty Kalalau valley.

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Parts of the trail were very steep, and the muddy portions were very slippery. Glad it didn’t rain on us because that might have made it impossible. Ferns and moss, lush and green like Oregon… but so hot!

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More snorkeling… “Tunnels” beach was a lot more challenging than our first day. It was easy to get lost and end up on shallow reefs. I scraped my knee…

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Our big day, hiking the Na Pali coastline. Lots of interesting plants and trees, breathtaking views… and a picnic near a creek that fed into the sea. The waves were too dangerous for swimming.

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Hanging out at the condo – our home sweet home for 10 days. BN and my dad found and booked a posh pad for us, on a golf course – it was pretty luxurious. We lived like the wealthy as far as accommodations, but we couldn’t dine like the wealthy – groceries are twice the price in Hawaii, let alone restaurants. We cooked almost all of our meals, which was fine with me since I love cooking for my family and they like my food! We enjoyed the fresh pineapple and coconut. BN provided the board games.

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Lots of beautiful plants around the complex.

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We hiked to the top of “the Sleeping Giant” for a great view of the east edge of the island.

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The only place to get cheap food on Kauai – Costco! We ended up going there about 4 times because it was near the airport and the hospital. $10 for a huge pizza, ice cream treats for under $2. And chickens! Can’t beat that.

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Lithified Dunes – really cool wave-sculpted rocks. Careful not to step too close to the edge, you can’t tell how far under they are cut. We saw people horseback riding on the beach and some horses hanging out, rolling on the grass back at the ranch, near where we parked the car. We also checked out the Blow Hole, where water spurts out of the rocks through underground channels.

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On our last full day we wanted to find a good beach for body-surfing. The first place we tried had huge waves crashing against a steep beach – only BN and RC were brave enough to enjoy that. We found a place that was tamer and it was so fun to be out in the water as long as we liked, playing in the waves without teeth chattering (like all my previous beach experiences…)

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James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

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Philippians 4:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Psalm

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? ... I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27: 1, 13

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CA trip highlights

Friday, July 31st, 2009

… other than the new babies:

My mom hosted a family gathering on Saturday, and it was great to see my grandparents, some aunts and uncles, and have mostly everyone together.

We went to Great America to get a roller-coaster fix, we hadn’t been to any theme parks since before we were married. It was a good day, sunny but not too hot, and not crowded at all. The main flaw was that Flight Deck (previously known as Top Gun) and Invertigo, the two most popular and exciting roller coasters, were closed for the day. Boo. My favorite ride that we did go on was Survivor the Ride, where you sit facing out on a big rotating disk (with about 25 other people) and it travels on a swooping track while it turns. Lots O Fun.

We visited my brother and sister-in-law at their new house in Gilroy. It’s new, beautiful, and huge – you could fit our entire apartment into their master suite. What I really envied them for, though, is the closet space and the little office alcove. We brought pizza fixins and had a nice visit with them.

BN’s mom hosted a dinner with several of his siblings and their kids, in her beautiful backyard that she’s been working on landscaping the last few years. Lovely roses.

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I went out for lunch with my freelancing partner IK (I do contract design work for her firm) and a fellow designer that I hadn’t met in person before, IL. I love the flexibility of working at home, and the opportunities available for working remotely, but it’s great to get some “face time” with the girls I spend so much time on the phone and email with!

I also met my friend FT for lunch, this was our first time meeting since I had moved out of state. We graduated together from the SJSU design program (9 years ago!) and had been in touch off and on, until recently when we re-connected on Facebook and became loyal readers of each others blogs. We had a wonderful time catching up on each others lives and talking about family, faith/philosophy, science, and even a bit of politics. I wish we lived near each other – FT would make a great next door neighbor.

The food bloggers meet over vegan-Asian-fusion - delicious!

The food bloggers meet over vegan-Asian-fusion cuisine - delicious!

I also visited two other dear friends. JI’s day took a downturn right after I arrived, but I was glad to at least see her for a little bit, and see how her boys are growing… so fast! I visited TS twice in one day – breakfast with her and the kids, and then some more intensive KT&T time in the evening, both of our husbands were away on camping trips.

BN got to go camping with my brother, his father-in-law and brother-in-law, my dad, and my little brother. The 6 of them had a great time, including BN’s first time sailing.

BN’s dad was also out of town for the weekend so I got to hang out on Saturday with BN’s stepmom. Lunch, a little bit of shopping, and she got a peep at my baby nephew too.

Because RC was on the camping trip I got to top-bunk-it in GC’s room. It’s been a long time since I shared a bunk bed with a sister! We got some good chat time in on this visit. I got a walk to the mall in with MA and HN, GC, MA and I played Taboo. HN and I did our best but it’s hard to beat a team of sisters who see each other every day and have so many inside jokes and shared experiences. Coonskin cap? “The King of the Wild Frontier wears this!”

Whew… It was a packed week and couple of weekends! More family time to look forward to when we go to Hawaii.

New Little Ones

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Last week we were in California visiting family, including 2 new members – my sister’s son JWS and BN’s brother’s daughter EAA. I had been so eager to meet these two little ones – Facebook pictures are not enough!

Little E was born in March. She has wonderful sparkly blue eyes and pink cheeks. She’s a little character already, and we can see resemblance between her and both of her parents. She hit it off with her uncle BN right away. We are so glad to welcome this precious little girl to the family.

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It was a special treat to meet my little nephew, the first grandchild on my side of the family. My sister is a terrific mommy, and she and my brother-in-law are having a great time with J. They are a bit sleep-deprived, but happy. I’m so glad I got to see him at 4 weeks old – still very new. He’s a super-baldy, just like my siblings were, and he’s got a serious forehead that reminds me of his mom’s baby pictures. He’s too young to really be smiling yet but when he does he’ll have dimples like her, too. He has a perfect little cleft-chin, taking after his dad. I was struck by his long fingers and toes. He likes to wave his hands around and with those long fingers I think he should become a musician someday.

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My favorite time was when he was on the changing table, all clean and dry, looking around and wiggling his arms and legs. His aunts have a new hobby – baby-gazing. He’s just so fun to watch.

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It was fun for me to see my little sisters with the baby, it really brought back memories of when they were born – I was HN’s age when GC was born, and GC’s age when HN was born!

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My mom is a lucky grandma… J lives just a block away! (Lucky for J’s mom, too!)

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And here he is with me, proud Aunt KT:

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Next time I see him he’ll be 6 months old. I wonder if he’ll remember me?

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