Sunday, July 28, 2013

California Road Trip - Part 2

Hi everyone! Did I leave you hanging waiting for the rest of our CA trip photos?  Here are the ones from Monday, July 8th, when we were in Milbrae visiting my Auntie Alice, Uncle John, Cousins Guy and Paul, and my Grandma Marina.   

Sami, Guy and Jake.  Auntie Alice's Living Room.  Guy is sandwiched!

Sami, Guy, Jake, me and Paul.  My cousins Guy and Paul crack me up!

See what I mean?  Look at Paul.  He is very animated. 

The TV crews (whores) hogging the parking lot where we went to walk down at the Bay.

I think Uncle John was going to give them a piece of his mind.  Or Auntie Alice. We had to park outside the area

Jake, Auntie Alice (love her hat!) and Sami - Bay Area walking path

And Uncle John Espinoza!!!!!  See Jake and Sami's sweatshirts?  Santa Cruz, baby.

The three of us. 

The reason for the news crews.  On the left is the Asian flight that crashed on Saturday.  Crazy.  And the planes coming on the runway have to pass it, and see it's burned out carcass.  Two teens, my daughters age, were killed.  So very sad.

Sitting on the dock of the bay..watching time roll away! (LOVE that Song!  Guy?  Do you remember singing it when we were young?)

Visiting Grandma Marina, who will be 101 in November.  That's right.  Sami is looking at family photos. 

I love that we got Grandma to smile, and she got up to hug me when we arrived! 

Grandma, and a photo of her boyfriend on the side table (Grandpa Leonard)

Me and my Grandma

I love this photo...

Me and Grandma! 

Grandma loved Jake's sweatshirt!  She read it out loud, and it must have sparked some great memories for her.  Auntie Alice thinks big signs need to be made for her in the future.

Sunday night, after our Santa Cruz adventure at the boardwalk and the beach, and dropping Brian  in San Carlos (my old stomping grounds when I was a young teen and in my early 20's - before and after my three years of High School in Missouri), we drove a short distance to Millbrae, to stay with my Auntie Alice, Uncle John and cousins Guy and Paul for the evening and a short visit in the morning.

Side Note: Auntie Alice is a very special woman to the majority of the female decedents of the Campos girls (she is my birth mother's older sister - well, she is more mature). She has played the role of surrogate mother to a few of us when our own mother's could not handle the trials that life dealt them - either externally or internally (self inflicted drama or mental illness, depending on your own opinion).   I actually lived with my Aunt and cousins for a brief time while my mom attempted  to get her act together - and unfortunately, she never quite achieved that task, which is her story, not mine.

We loved staying with the Epinoza/Magallanes clan.  Their home is the coziest place on earth.  Jake repeatedly said he liked their family room, so much, I thought he was going to stay!  Sami and Jake and I shared the Master bedroom - even though I am sure the fancy fifth wheel motor-home would have been just as cozy!  We were spoiled rotten.. and loved every single minute of it.

Monday morning my Uncle and I went for a short walk to get my coffee fix - I have to say, this is 'our' tradition on the occasions when I get to visit - only three over the last 14 years - we need to fix that!  I am a very early riser, so he and I take off for a walk.   Millbrae is so beautiful!  Actually, lots of places in the Bay Area are beautiful.  Lots of hidden gems.  Then, after breakfast and the kids finally waking, we went for a walk along the Bay, and then Uncle John dropped us off to visit Grandma Marina, a short walk away from my Auntie's house.

My Grandma did not recognize me the last time I saw her, which was at her 100th birthday party in November. So I was a little worried how our visit with the kids would be. The last time they saw her she lived in Freedom with Auntie Rachel, and , at that time, she was repeating stories, and she cried when it was time for us to leave.  The kids were fairly young, yet compassionate, and understanding.  And they were just as compassionate on this visit.  I am blessed with two beautiful children!  And this visit with Grandma?  It  was heavenly.  It's hard to not get emotional about our visit.  My Grandma stood up to hug me when we came to see her, which took a lot of effort for her.  She smiled the entire time, and she tried to talk as best she could.  My heart was full to see her this way. 

After our visit, we walked to Auntie Alice's home, and said our goodbyes, and started our drive back home around noon.

The rest of the day consisted of  taking the kids to see the ranch their Father grew up on and where we lived for the first 3 years of our marriage (near Willows, CA) and then to Chico, to visit another friend I have known for 30 years, and then from there we drove Burney, CA and stayed the night.  All that was accomplished on this same day, Monday, July 8th. 

I have more photos to share, and I will post them in a third post.
Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Second Chance Foundation - Wyatt Harris and Kobe Chen

 I originally wrote the text below on July 16th......

Today our speaker at Rotary was the young man who started a foundation whose purpose is to give orphan children a chance in life and through rotary exchange programs.  Our club, it turned out, was the very first club to host one of the orphan children from Taiwan.  Very first.  Kobe came to us in September.  As is the general format, the student has three separate host families, each for 3 months.  For Kobe, two of the families fell through, and he ended up staying with one family most of the time.  The Wilcox family.  Steve Wilcox was a Rotarian of our club and was very patient with Kobe.  Kobe’s English was not very good.  But he sure progressed. He was also shy, and Steve did a great job of encouraging him to speak up.. share what he did on his weekend trips to get to know the area, the state, etc.

For some reason, I could understand Kobe when he spoke (some of the others could not).  And, I really liked him.  I thought he was a cute, young, stumbling kid who was just a nerdy kid like my own son.  One who doesn’t run with the pack, but sits back and soaks it all in, and has such a great future ahead of himself. Sounds like my Jake, right?

I did not know Kobe was an Orphan.  I remember hearing he had a ‘sponsor’ that paid his way to America, but I did not know his circumstances in life.  We found out that when it was time for Kobe to go, on the drive to the airport, he was very quiet and sad. Our Exchange Student chairman finally pried out of him what it was that was bothering him.  His answer?  He wished the Wilcox’s were his family.

My heart dropped when I found this out.  I cannot imagine what Kobe's day to day life will be like when he returns to Taiwan.  I only hope that he sees that he has a future and can do anything he chooses to do.  That he can rise above it.  And that he does have a family, many families in La Grande, because as it turns out, a few of us fell in love with that quiet, gangly, awkward boy from Taiwan.

However, this story is not about Kobe.  It is about his sponsor.

What Harris came to us today to speak.  Unfortunately, he was not on our 'docket', and we almost turned him away, due to miscommunication between the host and the bulletin chair at that time.  Thank goodness for gracious Rotarians and the ability to be flexible.  Turns out, Wyatt traveled all the way from Virginia (instead of a local location which could easily be rescheduled) and was traveling to see his family in Oregon and along the way visiting with as many Rotary clubs as possible to share his mission and story.

Turns out, Wyatt, was born in China.  He was abandoned as a baby and left outside a factory in the month of March.  And, Wyatt has one deformed arm.  Wyatt ended up in an orphanage and was adopted at the age of 3 by an American family.  Due to his second chance, Wyatt had lots of opportunities and he ended up becoming a Rotary Exchange student in Taiwan while in high school and again when he attended UofO.    When he went back to Taiwan on that 2nd exchange, he went to China for 2 weeks, and decided to find his biological family.  He first landed at the orphanage were he started life, and saw that all the children were deformed. He realized this must be a reason he was abandoned.  He also got to meet his caregiver.  And he met all the other children that were also babies when he was there, yet, did not get adopted.  Only he and 1 other child were adopted.  He was lucky.  He rec’d a lot of media attention when he shared his search - he told his story on radio and in print, yet his family did not come forward. He left China w/o his family.  When he got back to Taiwan, a reporter contacted him to say his family came forward.  He went back to meet them and told them he had two questions to ask, and if they were not asked he would not stay.  He wanted to know why he was left, and if they ever thought about him (I think).   He found out his family was very poor, his birth brother and sister did not finish grade school, only 7th and 2nd grade.  He was the 2nd son and his family could not afford him.  They tried to leave him once, and his mother went back to get him. But they could not afford to keep him, and they knew it. The second time they went to leave him, they watched from a distance to make sure someone found him.  Someone did find him and took him to the orphanage.  His dad found out which orphanage he was at, and visited him often, but did not tell the caregivers who he was.
So, as it turns out, Wyatt was loved.  And thought of often. 
Wyatt cried the most he ever cried in his life when he returned to China and met the children that were with him as a baby, and when he met his family.  And he called his mom, in America, to tell her he wanted to do something to help other children, who did not have the chance he had.   
His mom told him to write a book.  
And, he said, like every good son he listened to his mother.
He wrote the book. And the proceeds from his first book are what started his foundation and financed our Kobe. 
Amazing, isn't it?  This story?
Of love.  Of change.  Of 2nd changes.

The most notable quote today from Wyatt? Give and take 2nd changes in your life.  And, thank you for hosting Kobe.  

I was really taken by this presentation.  It touched me.  And makes me think of the things I am doing and what 2nd chances I would like to give and take. 

Here is a link to the foundation:  You can also find a link to a story that Kobe wrote about this life.

Thanks for listening...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

California Road Trip - 2013 - Photo Heavy!

Road Tripping - The scenery was lovely!  Day 1

Whole lotta goofiness goes on on a road trip - we have a million of these

Cocktail at the end of a 12 hour drive on Day 1 - Destination:  Davis, CA.  That is Matt

My BFF of 30 years - Erin and her daughter Shannon and us, Davis Farmers Market, Saturday

Back on the Road, Saturday am to Sonoma.  Sami took a photo of her camera taking a video - like the McGiver setup?  Me too!

We logged One-Thousand-Seven Hundred-Twenty Miles (1,720)  on our whirlwind 5 day trip to CA and back.

Three states were traversed:  Oregon, Idaho (No - You Da Ho! - inside joke for sista Paula), and California.

Sonoma CA - Love the views!  SO Californian

I love MapQuest!  And Teen Nagivators

Me and my babes Sami (15) and Jake (14) at St. Leo's Catholic Church, Sonoma, CA

Sami and Auntie Avis (one of my younger sisters)

Me and my sista Avis.  We are 18 months apart. 

A photo of my dad's family - he is the one straight in the back, with the big smile

My Uncle Tim Walsh, reading a poem he wrote about his Mother, Avis Walsh, whose funeral we were at

Kids and Auntie Avis, hotel pool in Santa Rosa, CA

Sassy Sami in her new bikini, hotel room

Kids and Auntie Avis outside a great Mexican Restaurant near our hotel


The Mariachis - boy, were we lucky!  They rocked!  Another band came in and they had a mashup

Uncle Tim, his daughter Nicole, Me, Avis and Aunt Andi - Tim's Wife.  They all live in Colorado.

We went for my Grandma Avis' funeral.  She was 101 when she died.  She was well loved by her family and her church.  The father who gave the service was Father Joe Joe. A young whipper snapper who has been with the parish only 2 years.   He did a wonderful job sharing his stories about her.  The parish ladies kept telling him to visit Avis, and he was surprised at her alertness, intelligence, and beauty.  She wanted to dance with him, when he visited her while she was dying.  She smiled all the time.  And he knew, she was a special spirit that God has with him now.

On Sunday we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge

My copilot was very busy

And I drove, again

But we made it to Santa Cruz!!!!!!

Jake was on a mission... Digging...

This is Brian K.  Another BFF of 30 years! 

Me!  I love the sun..The sand was toasty warm.. bottom of your foot jumpin' hot warm

Those are my two.. and those are Pelicans!

Did I mention I love the sun?

My gorgeous daughter - she is a CA girl!


Jake.. digging some more!

Sami burying Jake - at his request

That's all that was left!

View of the ocean from our lunch spot on the pier

Chalkboard Car - grab chalk and leave a message! 

Sami's Message

Jake's message

And the Giant Dipper... Oh my neck hurt for 2 days!
(more to come in another post)........