Those Thriller Days

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I couldn’t help but blog about the loss of Michael Jackson today. One of my first cassette tapes was from The Jackson Five. I listened to his song “Ben” as many times as the rewind button would allow. When I was in the fifth grade with my bowl haircut and my matching Hunt Club outfit, in the heart of the Thriller Days, my friends and I would trade magazine pictures of Michael and even performed our own rendition of Thriller for the school talent show. And the ultimate, was the slumber party where someone had the VHS of “The Making of Thriller,” which we watched over and over and over until we drifted off to sleep in our sleeping bags. I even had a Michael Jackson button… which I “earned” after memorizing scripture verses (isn’t that right, Mom?)!! His music left such an impression on me that you’ll often see me bust out the moonwalk on occasion (it’s my favorite dance move). My friends and I even learned the Thriller moves for my 13 Going on 32 Thriller Birthday Party. So many happy memories.

It was clear that the King of Pop had a sad and lonely life during the past decade or so. But rather than going into that, I’ll leave you with this classic.

Such Great Heights

As a friend so aptly said, Carl went to great heights this past weekend. He asked. I said YES! Oh, and did I forget to mention that this all happened 3,000 feet up in the air in a hot air balloon overlooking the vineyards of Sonoma County? Truly great heights. I don’t feel like I’ve landed yet. After years of catching the random bouquet at a wedding (or running to the restroom to avoid it), and even being voted most eligible bachelorette at my 10-year high school reunion (oh wait.. I was the only single girl there!), many prayers have been answered and the “Hallelujah Chorus” is echoing in my ears.

ringThe funny part of the story (and anxiety-producing for Carl), is that the balloon proposal was supposed to happen on Saturday morning. Carl persevered and went through Plan A, B, C, and D, before the conditions were just right. Here’s how it rolled out… we arrived in Healdsburg on Friday to have a “cycling” weekend through the wine country with our friends, the Hyatts. On Saturday morning, Carl woke me up at 5:00am (ouch) for my first “test” – as he liked to call it. En-route, he got a mysterious call that caused us to turn around and crawl back in bed. (Apparently, the pilot thought there was too much fog for take-off.)

Instead of Plan A, we had a great day of cycling through the vineyards, and having a picnic lunch overlooking the valley. Plan B was soon eliminated when I fell asleep for an afternoon nap and ruined Carl’s hopes of an afternoon stroll. Onto Plan C – the Madrona Manor for an incredible dinner. I must say that the Maitre-D tipped me off when we walked in and he said in his french accent, “We’ve reserved the best table in the house for you. Oh, and would you like some champagne?” I’m used to getting crammed in the corner next to the kitchen and begging for water refills! I figured something was up… but Carl decided to take a gamble and hold out for Plan D. He’ll have to tell you about his experience of eating duck tongue. I’m not joking.

Plan D had us back up the next morning at 5:00am and on the road in thick fog. It did not look good. Fortunately, Carl had a heart-to-heart with the pilot the day before, who guaranteed there would be lift off in the hot air balloon.

balloonWe drove an hour east, over a few hills to Hidden Valley where we were able to locate some sunshine (but no salad dressing).We had lift-off, with the 14 other passengers and our trusty pilot. Thirty minutes into the ride, Carl asked if I’d like to take a leap. I said no. Then he asked if I’d like to take a different kind of leap – a leap with him. And then he showed me the ring. There were great cheers from 3,000 feet up with the other passengers who rode along with us… many of whom were celebrating their anniversaries and who also loved being a part of a proposal in the air.

Once we landed, Carl insisted that we had to get back to Sunnyvale by 2:00. Why? He had to do some weeding. I, of course, pressed him on that one. He insisted that he needed to do some yard work. Something was fishy and I figured I better drop the subject since there must be some sort of party with his family in the works.

surpriseWhen we walked into his parents house, my parents were there to surprise me, as well as my godparents (Steve & Margie – I know you love it when I call you that). Carl got me with that one. We had such a great time celebrating together!

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Remembering Uncle Stan

Magician, Fisherman, Pastor, Jokester, Golfer, Back-Packer, Competitor, Chief Nutracker, Husband, Grandpa, Friend… Uncle Stan was all of these things and so much more.  It’s still hard to imagine life without the vibrant life of Uncle Stan. He was truly a kid at heart with an infectious heart for life and others.

He won my heart at an early age when he dressed up as Santa Claus and delivered a cage-full of six baby chicks to Matt and I. Uncle Stan later passed along his love for puzzles, fishing, and his competitive spirit for any sort of game – whether it be a game of double-nine dominoes, tennis or bowling. He’d even practice his jokes on us with his stack of index cards that he’s always stash in his pocket. When I was 13, he baptized me in the pool in his backyard… and like every good pastor, we practiced our synchronized swimming afterwards. Throughout the years, we’d pester him to do a magic show, and beg for him to spill the beans on how he did the tricks. (I still have no clue.) And everytime I’d see him, we’d do our special handshakes – the Fisherman handshake, Garbage Man handshake, and Lumberjack (displayed below).  And his signature parting gift… a beautiful bag of cracked walnuts.

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Regarding loss, Dallas Willard has said, “This will be a challenge to your joyful confidence in God.” But I know that Uncle Stan would want us to rejoice that he is united with his Father who has welcomed him home. What an amazing thing to meet God face to face. I can’t even imagine what joy that will bring.

We miss you and love you, Uncle Stan!

Two Passions

On the Southern California Road Trip 2009, Carl and I made our way down to San Diego to visit my grandparents. I just have to say this every time I blog about them – – my grandparents have been married for 70 years (and in about a month they’ll reach 71)! They are amazing. Earlier in the week, when I told my Grandma we were coming down she said, “Things are lookin’ up kid!” 

P & GPapa made his famous buckwheat waffles for breakfast for my parents, and Carl and I. We also got the grand tour of the woodshop to check out Papa’s latest masterpieces. At 93, he’s still creating beautiful pieces of art. Papa and Carl had a little show-and-tell time for their different passions.

woodPapa’s = Wood

bikesCarl’s = Bikes

Buns in the Oven

There will probably need to be several posts to catalog the recent road trip to Southern California, so I’ll just start from the very beginning. Julie Andrews always said the beginning is always “a very good place to start.” Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

weddingOne of the many highlights from the trip was going to Carolyn & Liam’s wedding at the Santa Barbara Zoo. We were greeted by Toucan Sam on the way in, and even got to say “hi” to the giraffes. Too bad I built up the famous crooked-necked giraffe to Carl, to find out the poor giraffe had died. Carl cried a little, but he recovered. 

pregosI also got to connect with many great friends from my old homegroup, and 3 friends who all have buns in the oven – Leslie, Martha, and Andrea!

zooAnd in case you didn’t believe me… here are the giraffes. I’m glad we got all dressed up for them. I’m sure they enjoyed the live band Senior Year!

KaBOOM!

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was warned about the 4th of July. It would be foggy and freezing, and all I’d hear was the boom of the fireworks as the sparks disappeared behind the clouds. But, San Francisco has figured this out. So they have their 4th of July fireworks a bit early – in May. They call it Kaboom – it’s a fireworks show set to music. I felt like a giddy kid the whole time. I give it two big thumbs up.

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We enjoyed watching the Rif Raf and the Los Lonely Boys with Eric and Kelda, and considered buying corndogs and glow-in-the-dark necklaces while waiting for the Ka-Boom!

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The Floatys Reunion

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In 1995, the Floatys were known for dominating on the innertube waterpolo playing fields. They were fierce competitors who showed little pity to underclassmen. Fourteen years later, the Floatys still seem to have what it takes. Just check out their moves and skillzzz…

Krista won the dance-off competition for pure passion and skill and Shannon received the prize for most inspirational dance moves – a well deserved Precious Moments shower cap.

tinaWe had a fabulous reunion weekend in Palm Desert – relaxing by the pool, playing bocce ball, riding in the golf cart, and eating lots of great food. We missed Christina though!! (We’re proudly displaying the keychains she sent us.)

International Food Tour

One of the many things I love about San Francisco is the diversity of ethnic food. I truly think you can get almost anything here. There’s even an Eritrean Restaurant down the street. (In case you’re wondering, that’s in Africa.) Yep, I’m bragging about the good food.

Here’s a recent culinary tour I took with a few friends…

stephWhen Steph & Tammy came to visit, I introduced them to Burmese food at Burma Superstar in the Inner Richmond District. This place usually has a 2-hour wait because it is soooo good. The Tea Leaf Salad has been talked about on The Food Network. Yummy. The next night we went out for Spanish tapas at Zarzuela on Russian Hill. 

ethiopianInjera, anyone? The next stop was Ethiopian food at Axum Cafe on Lower Haight with Matt (who came up for work), Wendy and Carl. Seeing that most restaurants in the city have a major wait time, Wendy called ahead to see if we needed reservations.  We laughed when we actually walked in the doors. Besides us, there were two other people and a loud soccer match blaring from the TV above the bar. Did we make a bad choice? No.. the food was so tasty! We’re not quite sure what we ordered, as it all just appeared on this huge plate. The restaurant’s big selling point is that “when you get tired of utensils, come here!” Aren’t you just sick of forks? Ummm.. maybe not. Probably not a good first date place, as you eat everything with your hands, scooping up the dishes with pieces of Injera (a spongey-like tortilla). 

coffeeI’m going to say this place is a French Bakery. La Boulange sounds kind of French, right? I got Matt hooked on the butter and lattes that this place serves up in lower Pacific Heights, the last time he came for a visit. In fact, this place is what convinced him to come into the city. I think this place comes in at a close second after spending time with his sister, right Matt?

normaLastly, Norma & Dave (Martha’s parents), stopped off in San Francisco during the tour of the California Missions. I introduced them to pumpkin curry at Osha Thai near the Embarcadero, downtown. Now, I never saw pumpkin curry served when I was in Thailand, but it sure is goooood.

Tennis Whites

Last weekend was a great Palm Desert weekend in the sun at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. On Friday, Carl and I joined my parents for some great center court seats where we saw Nadal, Safina, and Querry, and ran into good friends, Thomas & Andrea, who just happened to be sitting a few seats away! The next day we went back with Matt & Sarah for some nose-bleed seats on center court, where we could kind of see Federer, so we mostly hung out on the outer courts where we saw the new Yannick Noah – Tsonga – who was super fun to watch. At first, I couldn’t find our nose-bleed seats until I looked even higher into the stands and saw Matt and Sarah sitting there with kleenex hanging out of their nose. Good times.

tennisThe next day we had our own official “Tennis Whites Open.” Who do you think was best dressed? We played some mixed doubles, and finished the tourny with a game of Around the World. Olivia went home as the champion!

library-2635library-2634Tennis anyone?