Brady's bachelorette bash...

When my friend, Brady, does something, she does it with style.  Today was her bachelorette extravaganza.  Brady, along with her thoroughly entertaining entourage:  her two sisters, me, my friend, Annie and five other amazing girlfriends, met at a rented home in the wine country.  We were then gathered up by the biggest "party bus" I have ever seen. 

We tasted through four, very well chosen and quite different wineries.  We picnicked while listening to live music.  We returned to the house for swimming and more unbridled laughter.  What a very entertaining mix of women.  I can not wait until the wedding next Saturday.  Unbelievably fun.

True love stories never have endings. 
~Richard Bach

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LA for visa...buono!

Steve and I left this morning at 4:30 for Los Angeles with hopes of meeting with a visa agent at the Italian Consulate some time today.  Without an appointment, we were risking it but we felt, with less than two months before our planned departure we had nothing to lose.

It was tense at times but eventually we were seen.  Patricia, the agent, was familiar with our case and she said, "I'm the one who makes the decision.  While I can't tell you 100% until I can review all your documents, what I see so far looks really good." She might even have said "promising". 

We went directly to the grocery store for a bouquet of flowers for her and biscotti for the male receptionist.  We just hope they both know how much we appreciate their help.  No we wait for two to three weeks.  We are more hopeful than ever.  Italy... here we come!

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Boating Balboa...

Our Thursday was spent boating with the in laws.  It was a great day to take in the sights, have the wind in your hair and float about with out a care.  It could not have been a more spectacular day.

Today, Steve and I are going to 'crash' the Consulate, in Los Angeles, to see if we can submit our Visa paperwork.  Life is crazy fun!

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Knott's Berry Farm for the night...

After the Angels' loss, we distracted ourselves with a fun night at Knott's.  Kozo, Judi and I meandered through the park. At times we would hook up with the kids and ride a ride together, and then go off on our 'adult' own.  My greatest fun is playing "big kid" and we all seemed to do that well.  I loved spending time with my old friend, Kozo and getting to know my new friend, Judi, even better.

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My exhaustingly fun Wednesday...

The Daisen student group is in town and yesterday was the only day I could participate in any of their activities.  So after a delightful breakfast at Mark and Carol's, Kozo and I joined thirty eight more enthusiasts for an Angels' game.

Judi, my successor with the student exchange program, did an amazing job.  Our seats could not have been better.  While the Angels were trounced, yet again, the Japanese and their hosts seemed to have a blast!

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Fun times back home...

We have hit the Temecula ground running.  Well, I have.  The only thing running on Steve was his nose due to a souvenir cold (all is better now).

Thursday, my mother-in-law, Betty, and I went to Newport to take my visiting niece to lunch.  It was fun to see her again even though I just saw her in Salt Lake.  It is always delightful to get near the beach.

Yesterday, a dozen 'Chicks' met for a sumptuous lunch at Wilson Creek Winery.  It had been over three months since we'd all been together and the conversations were flowing.  We then went to see the romantic comedy, Letters from Juliet.  A must see (especially for the Italian scenery).

Today, my MIL and I spent hours having a Victorian tea with my sister-in-law.  It was to celebrate Betty's birthday and spend the afternoon delighting in each others company.  It has been a great few days with incredible, future plans filling our calendar.  It's good to be home.

Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
~Henry Van Dyke

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The wanderers have returned...

Here we are (after 3+ months and 11,000+ miles), back in Steve's folks' backyard.  Someone asked us what the best part of our trip was and both Steve and I agree... it was the people...the new friends we made, the family we got to know better, the old friends that became better friends.  It truly was the people.

And's good to be home.

Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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Last Day in Northern California...

Since today was a work day for Christy, we picked Brenton up and spent the day together in Petaluma. 

Experience the Charm of one of the oldest cities in California, with one of the best preserved Historic Downtown Areas, on the National Register of Historic Places. Victorian homes and Iron Front buildings surround this charming Riverfront town.  Centrally located 32 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County Wine Country, Petaluma is the ideal base for exploring.

While we didn't do a whole lot of exploring, we did have a delicious lunch together and watched a pretty complicated and quite well done movie, The Inception.

Dinner was with Christy, at our camp.  It was a sad to say 'see you soon' but we have plans in the near future and great comfort in knowing they're doing so well. 

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Frolicking on the river...The Simple Life

Our Sunday was spent in complete perfection... our children with us while we relaxed on the shore of the Russian River. 

When we returned to the car, none of us realized just how long we were there.  Perfect.  Dinner and cuddling while watching t.v. ended the wonderful weekend.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...
to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring -
these are some of the rewards of the simple life. 
~John Burroughs

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Russian River and Luther Burbank...

We then drove along the Russian River with the goal of finding a perfect place to float tomorrow.  The lower Russian River is comprised of all river towns west of the Highway 101. This is the most popular area to enjoy river activities. The geography is hilly and wooded.  We were enchanted by the huge redwood trees and quirky architecture along this road.

We then learned about Santa Rosa resident, famed horticulturalist, Luther Burbank by visiting his home. 
On this garden site he conducted the plant-breeding experiments that brought him world renown. His objective was to improve the quality of plants and thereby increase the world's food supply. In his working career Burbank introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants including over 200 varieties of fruits, many vegetables, nuts and grains, and hundreds of ornamental flowers.  This was not only a beautiful place to visit but also very educational.

Shopping and dinner in Santa Rosa brought our day to a very happy, albeit tiring end.  Wonderful!

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Korbel for a champagne tour...

We began the day, like all perfect Saturdays should begin, sipping champagne on the patio overlooking the beautiful redwoods and lush vineyards of Sonoma County.

We toured Korbel Champagne Cellars.  In the mid-1800s, America offered new hope to three brothers seeking to escape political unrest in their European homeland.  The product of years of hard work was a delicious sparkling wine that we enjoyed tasting and learning all about.  Truly a wonderful start to our day!

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Rohnert Park with Brenton & Christy

Our three month adventure started in Rohnert Park and now ends there as well.  Steve's folks, Kegan, Steve and I are spending the weekend with Brenton and Christy.  Dinner and reconnecting occurred in their very cute apartment.  Way fun.  Tomorrow, a group explore is scheduled!

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Sadly, the party has to end...

Our last night in Yosemite, after a delectable dinner, was spent recapping the incredible week.  Everyone submitted their photos which were then put together for a slide show, set to the most appropriate music (We are Family, Don't Worry be Happy, Homeward Bound, etc).  It was such fun to see the photos of what everyone did for their adventures.

Afterward, there was an awards assembly and Steve & I were honored with, "The Best Imitation Boudreau" Award.  Truly the highest honor we have ever received.  The certificate came with the amazing gift of Boudreaux's Butt Paste® which was specifically formulated by a pharmacist with direction from a respected pediatrician to provide effective diaper rash care.

There is no way to explain the phenomenon of this week.  We are so happy we were there.
On the road again... Sonoma County here we come!

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This is who we are with... what a blast!

Carol Boudreau-Jones is related to a riotous, welcoming group of individuals that Steve and I have delighted in getting to know.  They are talented, generous, loving and best of all, best friends with one another.  This has been so much fun.  Still two more nights... woo hoo!

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