Birthday Butterflies

Today my baby turned five years old.  He’s not a baby any more.  Somewhere in the passage of years he has transformed from the sleepy, snugly bundle of baby-smell we brought home from the NICU to the precocious, charming boy who drums his day away.

He came into the world 5 weeks early with a full head of beautiful hair and a known single kidney that seems so unimportant today.

In a just few short weeks his eyes failed and he had his first surgery.  The day I learned he would never see is still the worst day of my life.

Despite all of that he never failed to push his ginormous cheeks apart with his wonderful smile!

I’ve watched him learn to explore his world and enjoy what it has to offer!

He loves people… even though he doesn’t interact with them well all the time…

And in many, many ways he’s still my snugly baby boy who needs my protection.

Yet day after day I see him evolve, grow, and become more confident.

Today when his VI teacher tried to show him some hand motions to a song he said, “I can do it myself.  I know it!  I’m 5 years old!”

And sure enough, he is.  My snugly little caterpillar is transforming into a wonderfully marked and accomplished butterfly.  Just like this one from preschool that shares Danny’s birthday.

Happy birthday, butterfly.  Happy birthday, my sweet Danny.


The Grand Tour or… what I learned today

Today I walked 8.75 miles.   I mapped out a monster route encompassing most of Los Osos.

I left the house at noon.  I walked into downtown, past the skate park, through the adjacent neighborhood toward Monarch Grove Elementary.  From there I headed down past the golf course to a nice little trail called Monarch Ave.

I like to reward myself with a little natural beauty every few miles or so…

I crossed through the housing tract back to the golf course.  In front of the clubhouse I was reminded, once again of a very important truth:  no matter how difficult life seems, someone has it harder. In this case it was a family out for a walk.  Grandma was pushing a stroller with twin infants inside.  She was flanked by their parents, both in wheelchairs.  Twins.  Wheelchairs.  Whew!

It’s all about perspective…

Miles 3.5 to 5 is on of my favorite stretches.  The way back bay and Sweet Springs Nature Preserve.

I am never disappointed in the view!

Right about this time I learned a few very important lessons. If one is heading out on an eight and a half mile walk…

1. It would behoove them to eat before leaving… even if they don’t feel hungry.

2. One should take into account the need to use a restroom and map their route accordingly.

Regarding item one:  I sucked it up and ate ravenously when I got home.  As for the second item… well, I am just very thankful someone down by the bay was thoughtful enough to have a port-a-potty in their driveway for the construction workers.

By that time I was on the downward side of my little jaunt and got a bit of second wind.  I circled the bay and took a spin through the Elfin Forest finishing up with a stroll down the bike path, past Baywood Elementary and, sweet Heaven, home.

Other lessons:

1.  Soft sand is evil incarnate.

2.  I may have reached a walking distance where I need a spare pair of socks.  My feet were not very comfortable toward the end.

3.  Sunscreen is a must for a 3 hour jaunt.

4.  I really wish our hot tub was hot.

So there you have it.  Every day is a learning opportunity.

How lucky am I

Two deer, a covey of quail, two pheasant and a turkey.

I’ve worked at the same place for 20 years come April 8th.   Yet until I started training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer I had never seen the beauty surrounding me.

Wondering what the hell I’m doing in their neighborhood…

Today I walked way into the back woods of Camp San Luis Obispo to Fort Miriam… or at least the training area near there.   What a beautiful walk.

When Slinkies go bad….

Only the really smart trees settle in the actual creek bed.

Lucky me to have such a beautiful place to work and walk.

Back in time

This foot bridge leads back in time nearly two hundred years to La Purisima Mission as it was in the 1820’s.

What you can’t see from this picture is how muddy the creek below the bridge is despite all the rain we’ve had this year.  I found this surprising as every other waterway in the area is running like gangbusters – even the dry ones.  It’s easy to see why the Missions were made of adobe bricks.  The creek bed is thick with a sucking, muddy clay.  It practically looks like bricks already. 

La Purisima is quite picturesque.  I expected a Mission more typical of the others I’ve seen here in California:  a main church with attached rooms and perhaps an outbuilding or two.  Instead, I found an entire town of sorts, complete with a Chumash Indian village.
I was there as a chaperon on a field trip with Ben’s 4th grade class. Seeing how much of the educational stuff was outside on the grounds I am particularly glad the rain held off until the evening.  
This is the Lavanderia.  The Chumash enjoyed bathing and used this lavanderia to wash their clothes and bathe.  The kids pointed out the face with the water spout in it’s mouth.  I find that a little creepy.

La Purisima was a fully functional township.  There were shops selling the wares of the weavers, potters, candle makers, and leather workers as well as a blacksmith shop and livestock production.  It was really neat to have the docents dressed in period to really bring history to life for the kids (and me!!!).

For myself, I was fascinated by the craftmanship.  Each heavy wooden door was hand made and unique as were the locks.  There is so much beauty in handmade items. 

Mostly, I reveled in the bucolic setting unmarred by modern technology.  There wasn’t a tractor or truck in sight…  Here are some of my favorite views.

Quiet solitude.  Perfect for meditation…  
The main church and cemetery.  Very anti-climactic after seeing the whole property.  But still lovely.
Here’s my artsy shot.  I loved how the bull’s horns framed the outbuildings.  And the sky just seemed so dramatic.  Very wild-westy.  
My favorite shot…

My best foot forward

Finally!  My Avon Walk for Breast Cancer fundraising page is up and running!!!  I’ve already started my training.  Whoa Boy is that a lifestyle change for me!!!  Instead of spending my weekend wrangling the kids and leisurely surfing the internet I walked close to 9 miles.  I have to admit, it felt pretty damn good!

Here are some pictures I took along the way…

I took the boys with me for a 4 mile walk up and down the 
hills of Los Osos on Saturday.  Danny managed to peddle
his Big Wheel-type tricycle a whopping 2.3 miles before 
I acquired a jogging stroller from a friend for the trip home!
It was a picture perfect day on the Central Coast!
Sunday I avoided the up and down streets in town
and headed to Morro Rock to walk the nice flat beach instead!

Of course, I forgot to check my tide book before I left the house 
and found very little beach to walk on due to the high surf!  
Consequently, I spent a fair amount of time in the dunes as well.
Still, 4.87 miles hardly seemed like work at all when
the view is so awesome!  

I felt a bit like a frolicking dog chasing all the tiny birds 
off the beach.  This is a Least Sand Piper.  The birder 
I asked said “it’s the least amount of sand piper you can get”.  
This is workout me – a self-portrait.  

Visual proof of my passing.  My Sunday walk began 
waaaay down there at the Rock.
I’m thankful I didn’t run across this next group of birds on one of my training walks.
It would have been a bad omen, for sure!!!

Turkey Vultures sunning themselves in the morning light.
I’m feeling fit.  It seems ridiculous after only 3 training walks but it’s true.  Just like making it through cancer treatments, it seems much of training and fitness is mind over matter. 
If you feel like helping me meet my $1800 fundraising obligation you can click the link below.  It will take you directly to my fundraising site.  Or, if you’re more comfortable writing a check just email me or leave a comment and I’ll be overjoyed to send you the forms you need!!! 
Thanks in advance for your support!!!!!

Singing in the rain

All last week the west coast was pounded by torrential rains necessitating indoor activities.  Naturally, Danny turned to his go-to pasttime… singing.   His singing is often accompanied by a myriad of reluctant rythmic instruments.  .  Never mind that Santa hauled a drum set all over the world on Christmas Eve, the wall heater is still his current favorite.  Kids.  Also, someone should never have gotten him a Magic Microphone for Christmas…  Thanks, Santa!

Just because I am proud of Danny’s well-rounded musical taste I will regale you with a list of some of his rainy day favorites. 

  • You’re So Vain by Carly Simon
  • Crazy Train by Ozzy Osborne
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame
  • The Star Spangled Banner 
  • The Donkey Song by Sugar Chile Robinson
  • Tomorrow from Annie
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by the Beatles

Yes.  He actually sings Ozzy songs…  Jealous much?

Ocean or Mountains?

Which one do you prefer?  Which one rejuvenates you – replenishes your soul?

I ask because the answer is often not what I presumed.

I live on the coast.  I love it.  I can sit in the sand or in my car and watch the waves break for hours while I ponder God’s awesome power, the immensity of the universe and my place in it.  The ocean fills me with wonder.  I revel in it’s ever-changing beauty.  No two waves are alike.  No two sunsets the same color.  Foam patterns on the beach are different with each receding wave.  I meditate on infinite possibility. 

But it’s the mountains that heal me. There’s just something about being surrounded by trees that fills me with a serenity I cannot tap into elsewhere.

The sound of a creek waters flowing over rocks and swirling around a sandbar is soothing music to my ears.

I spent the day in the mountains yesterday.  I just drove by myself for five hours.  The higher the altitude became the lighter I felt.

I stopped by Burney Falls.  It was cold and damp from the mist and the late afternoon shadows.  But the smell was beyond Heavenly.  Pine.  Moss.  Damp earth.  Deep cleansing breaths.

Little traffic.  Fading sunlight.  Trees straight and tall on all sides.  Majesty above them.

Peace.  Completeness.  Inspiration.  Quiet.  Solitude.  Wellness.  Integrity.
All these words and more define the mountains for me.
I came home refreshed and ready for another round of parenting, working, struggling to survive. 
Which gives you that renewal?  Ocean or Mountains?