Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Magic


We've had an EXTRA SPECIAL CHRISTMAS around here.

It wasn't just about opening presents, although that certainly did happen.


It was more.

For one thing, there was the singing.

On Christmas evening, our family gathered, singing carols while the children held candles in glass jars.


Here's a little video clip from the evening.

You'll hear my son's tenor voice over the others.  Still, you'll get the flavor of the occasion.

video

Another special thing -

SNOW.

Lots of snow.



Maybe the special-ist thing of all was ...

SIMPLY BEING TOGETHER.

That includes a Wild Rumpus. . . maybe several of them.


It also includes merriment with COSTUMES.

GYMNASTIC FEATS play into the mix.


And BOLD SWORD FIGHTING.
Heaven forbid!

AND LOTS OF HANGING OUT.



A special thanks to my valiant kids, Arian and Jill, who hauled these three kiddles


to join us for the holidays.


They head back across the pond tomorrow.


I suppose all special things must come to an end.

Life is transient.

Life is good.

And Christmas is magic.




The Ohio gang of six (Leah & Cody's family) sensibly stayed home,
having their own holiday adventures.


So grateful they could spend time here during the summer.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas is coming!


There's no stopping it now.

Christmas is on it's way and one perky elf is in the holiday mood.


Well, except when she gives up her elf identity and turns into Chica the Dog.


This ever-so-clever Rella May absconded with Chica's leash 
and managed to get one end around her neck and the other end around the door handle.

Such a little rascal, that granddaughter of mine!



The tree got up, just in the nick of time for Kristen's Ornament Party.


I scored in a BIG WAY at this beloved traditional party.

Out of thirty-six possible ornaments, I was incredibly privileged to land the jewel created by Kristen herself.

 

She knitted it, then added dazzling embellishments and somehow insert wires into the legs for multiple poses.



At 2:00 a.m. the party was officially over and I left with a warm and happy heart.



Yes.  Christmas IS coming,

. . . and so are my family members living in the British Isles.



They are on their way.

Yippee!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back to the Brits



Next week, my kids and grandkids in England will be arriving for the holidays.

Originally, I designed seven posts about my time with them in Oxford.

I managed to produce two, not seven and that's borderline pitiful.  (HERE and HERE)

SIDENOTE: I've also failed to document my 2012 experiences in Romania, Albania, Sicily, Santorini (Greece), and France.  Sigh.  Maybe some day.  

Anyhow, in honor of my kids return, I'm sharing my favorite shots from a fabulous excursion we took back in May:



It was actually a 'country home' for the Dukes of Marlborough.

Winston Churchill was born there.

Just imagine him toddling around in one of the many drawing rooms . . .



. . . or nibbling at his supper here, in a high chair:


My three grandkids were real troopers about handling the walking . . .
and OH BOY did we walk!

They've grown accustomed to lots of walking since they don't have a car in Oxford.  It's the norm over there.
They rent Zipcars as needed. 



The gardens, lakes, and woodlands of the estate are as fabulous as the palace itself.


On one of the lawns, there was a jousting tournament.



The blows were powerful.


In the background of this photo, you can see a downed knight being assisted by a comrade.


Just look at this expression of pure tenacity:


My grandson Kenneth wanted a sword and shield sooooo badly.  He got one.


Despite several sworn promises of safety, the sword was simply beyond his capacity of restraint.


After a few scary "incidents", Daddy exchanged the sword for a Legos castle, 
complete with little Legos knights and dragons.


Hats off to my son who came up with such a creative solution!

The little town of Woodstock is located near Blenheim Palace:


It's ever-so quaint.
I loved this door plate, situated on an unassuming venerable home:



If you're ever in England, be sure to see the Blenheim Palace and the town of Woodstock.



Totally worth it!


Thanks, dear Brit kids, for designing amaaazing excursions for me while I was visiting you in the Old World.

With three kids in tow and a mountain of obligations in Oxford, it was a sweet sacrifice on my behalf.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Back to My Childhood


October 2012
This is my childhood home in Northern California, outside of San Francisco.

Here's how it looked in 1960 with my sister Patsy out in front:

1960

I had the chance to spend a few days kicking around there,
team-tagging it with my trip to Hawaii.

I visited the following people:
old neighbors (2 of them), 
elementary school friends (2),
high school friends (3)
church friends (2)
niece & nephew (1 each)
cousins (3)
and numerous other fine people (at least 20).

 Sashi and David provided me with fabulous lodgings.


Sashi and I met in second grade and our friendship has survived for the last 53 years.  Wow.

Her husband is from Jamaica and he's so delightful.  (See HERE.)

Taken in 1991
They've also taken on the role of godparents to my three munchkins
who now all have babes of their own. 

Recently, S & D acquired a home in the 'Wine Country', north of San Francisco.

I took this shot on the most gorgeous fall day ever.

They put fresh flowers in my bedchamber and that's just the beginning of their hospitality.
Me, in the 'Wine Country'
As I mentioned, it was my pleasure to visit three dear cousins while in California:

Peter, Margot, and Steve.

Here's Peter:
Cooking Abalone.
True confession: I had a crush on him when I was 12 years old and he was the same age.

During this trip, he treated me to an abalone feast which was absolutely divine.

That sweet guy actually donned a wet suit and swam out into a Pacific Ocean bay and collected the abalone.

This is the colorful shell of an abalone:


Peter pries out the meat and fries it up in the most scrumptious batter.

Like his apron states, it's "The Other White Meat".

In addition to collecting and cooking abalone,
Peter also makes these custom conga & tumba drums:



 If you've always had your heart set on getting a conga drum, head straightway to his website: HERE.


Just have to say, this trip to California surpassed my expectations.  I felt like I was really coming home.

THE BEST PART:

Being enfolded into the arms of dear family and old friends.


April 2012
My son checked out his mom's childhood home while he was in San Francisco on a business trip.

Wasn't that sweet of him?


He and his family of five will be coming all the way from England to be here (in Utah) for Christmas.

HURRAY!



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