Our day of being tourists...
I love seeing our town through the eyes of first time visitors.  This week has been a great reintroduction to Temecula.
MMS is the sister school to Nakayama Jr. High, in Daisen. A visit is a must.  Both my boys are alumni and I spent many a volunteer hour here.  It was wonderful to be back!
My family loves thrift stores and we wanted to introduce the Japanese to this American tradition.  When you shop at Goodwill, you are supporting job training and placement programs for people with disabilities and other disadvantages.  Goodwill stores feature gently used and new items that are bargains for smart shoppers (I bought a really cute dress for $7.99).
We were invited on to the Pechanga Reservation.  A big treat for me was to see Rancho del Paisano.  This was where mystery writer, Erle Stanley Gardner, made his home from 1937 through his passing in 1970.  Gardner is best known for writing Perry Mason novels, the basis for the Perry Mason television show.  I have known about this amazing place since I moved here and I am so happy I finally got to see it, firsthand.
I was extremely excited to be a tree huggerTo the Pechanga people, the land and the Great Oak that stands upon it carry meaning that transcends physical presence. The Great Oak has come to embody the identity and character of the Pechanga Band: strength, wisdom, longevity and determination.
The Great Oak is the largest natural-growing, indigenous coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia ) wi'aashal tree in the United States and is estimated to be anywhere from 850 to 1,500 years old, making it one of the oldest oak trees in the world. The tree has been used by countless generations as a gathering place. The Great Oak area, Wi'aasha, is home to numerous culturally sensitive, historical and archaeological sites, including tribal interment sites from time immemorial.
We were given an informative tour and history lesson by Raymond Basquez Jr., of the Cultural Resources Department.  He shared with us the story of creation as we all sat, spellbound, in a sweatlodge.
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians (Payomkawichum-the Western People as they prefer) has called the Temecula valley home for more than 10,000 years.   What an interesting afternoon of learning and friendship!
Lori, my friend and City employee, and I delighted in showing the Daisen guests the sites we have known well.  We were both impressed by the rich and interesting history of the Pechanga people.  We learned a great deal and had an extremely fun day!

A beach day with Daisen friends...

My day was spent being a tourist with a wonderful group of visitors from our Sister City in Japan.  Robin, the City liaison, invited me to join her on the drive to Los Angeles to gather the group.  We then headed to Balboa Island for ferry rides and a delightful lunch at the end of the pier.

What a glorious day to be at the beach.  I am loving California in November.  I think our Daisen friends loved it as well.  What a great introduction.

"Our memories of the ocean will linger on,
long after our footprints in the sand are gone."

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Family fun at the beach...

Today, we met Christy's family at Carlsbad for pizza, beer and our feet in the warm beach sand.  It was a delightful afternoon of more fabulous family fun.

"My life is like a stroll on the beach...
as near to the edge as I can go."
-Henry David Thoreau

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Thanksgiving with Family...

Celebrating Thanksgiving with family...
How thankful we are being with our sons, their girls and all our family.  Here's introductions:
We were a group of 18 consisting of some very delightful people.
Steve's mom, Betty, is truly the hostess with the mostest!
Steve's brother his wife, with his son and his delicious apple pie baking girlfriend.
Steve's middle brother and his wife who live in Temecula, too.
My oldest...
C's family:  Michael, Julie, and Dan (on left).
Kegan and Monica whose family is in Portland, Oregon.
My boys... I'm a super happy mom.
I thought this was a great centerpiece... Mums and persimmons!
My father-in-law, Ross, created this amazing table for 20.  It will be used often and gleefully.  How wonderful that we could all dine together!
Ross is an expert turkey wrangler!
The food was plentiful and delicious.
My in-laws live the rural part of town.  Across the street is an alpaca farm and around the corner are horses.  After the meal some of the group went neighborhood exploring.
Brenton made a new friend.  So sweet.
Are you still newlyweds when you're a month away from your two year anniversary?
I'm pretty certain Monica is getting horse kisses.
A holiday isn't quite the same without my boys posing for a classic photo.  Here they are trying to be alpacas!
Thanksgiving with all the families together was a perfect welcome home.  We have so much for which to be thankful.  It is good to be home!

Knott's Berry Farm for Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving...

Since we are celebrating the holiday a date late, Steve, Kegan, Monica and I went to Knott's Berry Farm while Brenton and Christy spent the day with her family with all of us being together here tomorrow.

Knott's was very fun.  It was Monica's first trip to an amusement park so we all delighted in her joyful expressions and unbridled laughter.  It is always wonderful to be with someone experiencing something for the first time.

The only way our day could have been more amazing is if Brenton and Christy could have been there as well.  Next time!

We hope you are enjoying everything you're thankful for!
Being thankful means that we have been IMPRESSED
with a sense of kindness expressed towards us and want to acknowledge it.
It means we are grateful.

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