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USA

USA 2014

Happyhannah

We went to USA for a couple of months.  Here are some non-linear highlights.

Andrew, Hannah and Ben became comic book heroes and went to ‘APE’, an alternative publishing event.

comicheroes

We made new friends and found some new tribe.  One even had a matching tattoo that he got in Egypt as well.

tattoos

We got to go to our old house in the middle of the Redwoods.  We were living there when Hannah was born.

house

And who goes to the Redwoods without driving through a tree.

tree

We went on a magical cupcake tour with Lizzy, our cupcakeateer daughter.

cupcakes

We traveled by plane, by bus, by friend, anyway we could to get to where we needed to go.

bags

We hung out with some hippies and other vehicle dwelling people.

hippybus

We got to see alot of family, including….

got to see

Grandma!!!

grandma

We got together with family and friends and had lots of great food together. Here we are enjoying some gourmet ice cream at ‘Bi-rite” in San Francisco.  Later on we will tell you where we found the best BBQ on our America trip.  I think you will be surprised.

ice cream

Hannah studied ‘very’ hard for her GED and passed….at 16 years old!  Booyah!

hannah ged

We learned about, made and distributed “fair-trade hot sauce” with Michael Toy himself.  And, the answer is yes, he does live at Toyland.

hot sauce

We celebrated Halloween up north and went on a Halloween parade with people we love and a whole lot of strangers through a ‘Pirate Town’.  That is TJ dressed up as a sugar skull.

halloween

We celebrated Thanksgiving in California with more people we love.

thanksgiving

Actually, we had lots of meals and parties with lots of people we love.

party

At one of the parties TJ got to learn some magic from a real live professional magician.  Can you believe his name is Mike Toy, do you see a theme here?  And, no, he does NOT live at toyland.  At least I don’t think so.

magician

Did we mention the great coffee?  We stumbled upon ‘free coffee friday’ at Bicycle coffee.  I mean what coffee shop does that?  A whole day offering fantastic free coffee.  Andrew was VERY happy. The inner scotsman and the inner kiwi were smiling.

coffee

All in all, a great time.  Thanks everyone for putting up with us, pampering us and especially for loving us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
USA

A Special Birthday going across the Dateline

Andrew always jokes about skipping someone’s birthday.

Well, this year it almost happened. We celebrated Hannah’s 13th birthday on a dramatically shortened Friday the 13th as we flew across the dateline from U.S.A. to New Zealand. The plane took off, in LA, on the 12th of January and we landed, in New Zealand, 13 hours later, on the 14th of January.

We had a multiple day celebration as we sometimes do when we just can’t fit all the fun into one short day. It started with a Birthday Party at “Chuck-e-cheese”. This is a noisy, child friendly pizza parlor that most parents try to avoid whenever possible. We brought in gifts, balloons and a cake. The balloons and a plastic birthday crown became the common denominator over the next several days. Hannah was hardly seen without them as she enjoyed multiple birthday cakes over the next few days. She had a ladybug cake at Chuck-e-cheese’s, a brownie cake on top of a swingset, an ice cream cake at Johnny Rockets and some chocolate cake left over from first class by some very nice flight attendants. Many people loved her big gift of “five-fingered” shoes. I think she had a good birthday.

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USA

Last few weeks in the USA

The last few weeks in the US have been a whirlwind. Here are some of our pics and memories. We had a great New Years eve at the Crowne Plaza south of San Francisco. What a great time. We have always seen the balloons dropping on people’s heads at the stroke of midnight but never had the full dropping balloon experience. We were there as guests of the owners family – how cool is that. Felt like real posh people if it wasn’t for our clothes. People really decked out for this thing and well…. dang…. I don’t have anything that fancy. Actually… I have never owned anything that fancy… except my wedding dress, maybe. So, I think we did pretty good except for the fact that my top was a t-shirt and Lizzy was sporting bright coloured converse trainers with her dress.

It was difficult leaving the San Francisco area. We have so many dear friends in the area. You know those type of friends that give you warm fuzzy feelings and sometimes tears well up in your eyes from the pure joy

and honour of having rubbed shoulders with them. Hard to leave the area. Time is short now, in the states. Seeming really way to short. I want to linger longer with friends who hold my heart.

On to southern California. On the way down we found Elephant Seals. How great is that! Hundreds of them laying in great big rock-like lumps on the beach. My kids especially enjoyed the exhuberant, almost continuous, belching. Gotta love it. Even me and Andrew had a bit of a giggle.

I thought we all needed to see some more seals hehehe (abi put the picture in). 

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USA

One Big Family

Here we go the Cosper side of the Jonesberry family. A big group huh.

Some of my favourite memories from this Christmas. Holding my new nieces and seeing my kids do the same. Thanks, Eric and Jenny, for being such nice relaxed parents that you let us hold your beautiful treasures, Lola and Grace. Playing games. Working a puzzle with my sisters. Baking cookies with family.  A great heartfelt conversation in front of the family photos with my brother, Eric, and my sister, Pam. We learned new things about our family past and our individual reactions to it.  Seeing all our kids together. Spending a lot of time with my sister, Pam, and her family. We are a year apart ,in age, and inseparable when we were younger. I think the closeness of our relationship gave us the courage to become complete opposites in our teens. Now that we are all grown up we are able to not avoid our differences, or each other because of them, but to enjoy our friendship in the celebration of our differences.

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mum's rants USA

Dancing Skeleton’s at the Christmas Table

It is early Christmas morning. I am the only one awake. We have been having such a great time with my family. The month has just raced by. You know, we haven’t gone back home for Christmas in America for 10 years. The last time the kids have been back was about 5 years ago. Yeah, I know, we should come back more.

So, I watched the sun come up, laying on the floor with my family in my dad’s study. Thinking about the talks, family dynamics and the individuals. We are quite a diverse lot. I am the oldest of 4 kids. We have gone on to collectively bring 16 grandkids into the family. I want to go off into multiple tangents of wonderful and serendipidus experiences at this point but I am determined to stay on target so I can get breakfast started.

This is my thought.

At these family gathering points we contemplate family history.

We laugh and play.

We reminise and cry.

We give and receive lots of hugs and kisses.

At least in my family.

Inevitably skeletons come out to play with us. You know those skeletons most families keep shoved in the closet. Well, ours seem to like to come out and dance on the table. Some seem scandalous to us and we have a childlike giggle. We like to think of it as a knowing smirk but it always becomes a childlike giggle.

Some skeletons make us want to cry. Some make us angry.

It is the angry part that woke me up early this Christmas morning. We have a choice you know.

One of the biggest wounds in our family happened about 25 years ago. We have talked in detail about where we were and how we have reacted. The wounds still seem so fresh.

If we allow the anger to continually visit the fountain of youth we give it power over us. Power to control our lives and our destiny.

The deal is, if we are completely honest, we get angry because love has made us vulnerable.

I choose love and a life of trying to live in that love rather than to live a life of bitterness and anger.

Categories
USA

Big Road Adventures in the Western U.S.

So, now safely in Oregon. Oh, the sights that we saw.

We were quite well looked after with our full-service pit stop crew.

We were well motivated with our dashboard mascot. Isn’t she photogenic.

We had interesting diversions along the road. We saw lots of cotton harvesting into huge cotton cakes. We felt motivated and went into one of the fields for a bit of an after harvest activity.

We found snow in Colorado!!!! Just a bit. Enough for some artwork

and a very small snowman with spiky hair. I think we shall call him…. spike!

We found a great, interesting C.S.Lewis fan. They are called “Lewisans”. She might help us with our roadschooling english. She has some great ideas.

We also found an American Diner heaven. Like a mirage, an oasis, on the eve of the blizzard. Real people, real food, hotel attached and a quiet, understated celebration of family. As if to state, “It is hard to travel with a family these days. Why wouldn’t we supply a few distractions and some discounts for family?”

ALSO: We got stuck in a blizzard.

We found a unicycle rider going down the other side of the highway closed post-blizzard.

And, the icing on the cake. The prize: Whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. FAMILY!!!

Categories
USA

BLIZZARD!!!

 

So here we are going home for Thanksgiving. What do we see? A Blizzard. Seriously! The blizzard is coming in, they have closed the roads!. We are checked into a hotel in beautiful Ogden, Utah. Turn on the weather channel and they are talking about our blizzard with lovely Ogden smack in the center. Heck they are showing little movies of the Blizzard in Ogden. We are just trying to get to my parents house in Salem, Oregon in time for the Thanksgiving meal. Not sure. I better get in touch with my sister to see what time they are eating the meal. Seeming more and more like it will be down to the minute.

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USA

SAMMMMMM!!!!!!!

Check it out.

 

We found our big boy, Sam! Unfortunately we had to leave Lizzy in Houston to go to Austin to find him. We took the Sam tour of Austin which included

taking us to his work, at Cafe Medici, and preparing us drinks.

He showed us his flat, that he signed a 9 month lease on. Check out the amazing decorating. We have known his flatmate,Jenna, for a while. Never knew she was such a glutton for punishment though. She is a real wise big sister for Sam and we are grateful to her.

We also were treated to some fine dining at a trailer near his flat.

A great time with Sam.

He is with such great people that care about him.

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USA

Lizzy!!!

Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy, we got to Lizzy. We love Lizzy. We miss Lizzy. We found Lizzy! We found Lizzy in Tomball, Texas.

Yeah, I know why would Lizzy be in Tomball, Texas. The very good reason is Jessica. We Love Jessica and Lizzy came to Tomball to be with Jessica.

Lizzy is here going to Lone-Star College and working at Walgreens.

Jessica and Lizzy took us to see the more Jones side of Houston.

We went to an art museum.

Actually the “Artcar” museum.

Showing many beautiful works of art.

I think the car art scared Andrew a bit. Thinking what I might want to do to our car or truck. Poor Andrew.

We also went to “Chocolate Bar”. Being somewhat sensible I got a beautiful chocolate milk. TJ, being more cheeky than sensible got jellybeans. Half of them were delicious flavours, like berryblue and chocolate pudding.

Half of them were not delicious, like rotten egg and bugger. The problem is you don’t know which is which until you commit.

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Roadschooling USA

Montgomery, Alabama

We picked dad up in Atlanta, GA and got on the road for Texas via Montgomery, Al. Check out my handsome man in front of his sweet ride.

We were encouraged to come to Montgomery by our old friend, Alan Cross, to come for some “good ‘ol southern hospitality”.

Of course we started out with some great food.

We went to a southern food buffet with a healthy sized line of hungry patrons at “Fried Tomato Buffet”. Very rich, beautiful, southern food which put Andrew into a deep “digestive sleep” and prevented any further driving that day.

We had to find other diversions while Andrew slept.

TJ saw the Spanish Moss hanging from the tree. She heard about how people use it for mattresses and pillows. She responded appropriately and gathered herself a pillow.

We got a history geek/teacher tour of Montgomery, Alabama. We got the full scoop on Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders and Martin Luther King Jr. Here we are hanging out in the church where the “Bus Boycott” was organized. Such interesting stuff. The kids were kinda tired tho. I think it is all kind of hard for them to understand racism. Even though we see it and the evidence of it they don’t understand how a normal person can hate someone, or think they aren’t as good as us, simply based on the colour of their skin. They don’t seem to understand the weight of racism. They get these confused looks on their faces as if to say, “are these people on stupid pills?” It is interesting how racism simply doesn’t fit with the innocence of childhood. Unfortunately, some kids have their innocence taken away way too young by first hand experience of such terrors.

This photo is taken right outside the church. Check out how close it is to where the seat of government was for the south.

Next we heard about the “Freedom Riders”. They were an integrated group of white and black bus riders and the violence that met them in Montgomery.

I asked about what happened to the Klan. Victory over the clan was tied in with Montgomery, Alabama too. What a place. Apparently, right around the corner from Martin Luther King Jr.s place,  a lawyer who was appalled with the Klans gang activities started suing them every time they would do something. He bankrupted them. I like that. The lawyer saw injustice. He looked at what he had in his hands. Who he was. What tools he had. He used what he had as a weapon to fight injustice.

Alan explained his passion about the whole situation. He said that the whites really thought they were being good people. All the violent acts towards blacks. They thought they were doing the right thing? In the current light you would think “How could that be?” This is what Alan is trying to figure out. How can people do such horrible things while believing they are doing something good? He believes there has been no sufficient resolution. Almost like someone saying “oops, I guess I won’t do that again” but not “I am really sorry, I was wrong, I never should have done that. It was bad.” You know, something like that.

You know, a lot of kids grow up with “Say you’re sorry!” I really don’t do that with my kids. Thought it sort of numbs the conscience and encourages them detach their words from their hearts. Instead we do something that takes a bit longer.

“Did you want to step on your sister’s foot?”

“No.”

“Well, you did and she thinks you did it on purpose unless you say something to cause her to believe differently.”

Am I being too simplistic to think that we need to say sorry in our words and in our hearts?

I am so sorry about what the whites have done to the blacks in the name of God. I am sorry for the things that were not done. I am sorry for the pain and the broken relationships that resulted. I am sorry for the wrong that is still being done as a reaction and justification for the original pain.

Wow, there is so much to say sorry for. My head is spinning with the injustices. I don’t know where to go next. Is that why people don’t like to say sorry. It opens up your heart to a whole world of wrong. A world that lives inside our hearts and influences the world around us. I want my heart to be honest so I know when I am allowing junk in that will cause me to make poor decisions and wrong those in my world.

It seriously needs to be more personal too. I am sorry for what I HAVE DONE. I am sorry when the poison in my heart takes over and causes me to see what I want to see rather than what is real. I am sorry when I judge based on first impressions. DANG! I am sorry when I judge, PERIOD! Judging is so dangerous! I am sorry when my selfishness and laziness and fear get in the way of my own acts of justice and mercy. I am sorry! I don’t want to do that anymore! I want to love without agenda or prejudice or self-preservation. I am sorry for the part of my heart that I allow to follow the same path of those who threw Rosa off the bus, that circled that church and threw stones at the people inside. That was seriously wrong and should NEVER happen again. But it has and does over and over again. Are we on stupid pills or something?

We left Montgomery 23 hours after we arrived. Our stomachs, gas tank, heads and hearts full. Thank you friends in Montgomery.