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To some, a road-trip is just a mere commute – a mindless journey from one destination to another spent focusing on the pavement and the radio while anticipating the “end of the road”. To others, it is an escape or a distraction from daily routines and problems with an expectation that the hiatus will somehow transform the future upon the return to reality. These vacations are deceptively more complicated than we anticipate when first starting out, as anyone cooped in one vehicle for days on end can attest to (sometimes the act of trying to “have fun” can be exhausting and frustrating – shit happens).

Road-trips can be purposeful and educational, with trip-tics and “to do and see” lists as you methodically map out the itinerary; or a little more relaxed and adventurous, to see the back-road oddities and local color with a loose
timeline and an edgy attitude. If you’re lucky, in addition to learning about
the sights you have seen, you can also learn about yourself and your
travel-mate if you take the time to not just idly observe, but really immerse
yourself in the experience (this then becomes the real lasting educational
value).  A road-trip has added layers of emotions that start way before we reach our destination:  anticipation, excitement, apprehension, fear, heart-lifting happiness, heart-breaking sadness, acceptance, rejection,

In the end, road trips are not as much about the journey, but rather the journey’s end. Surprisingly though, we often find that the journey’s end is not always the destination we were aiming for:  that’s when we realize that home is where you are in the moment; while you were driving in that car for all those miles, you were just as much home as anywhere.  Finally, for the very lucky few, a road-trip becomes a journey of unconditional love and self-awareness, encompassing all facets of human emotion and traveling beyond any tangible destinations.  It becomes its own entity, taking on momentum and meaning far beyond expectations – in a word, life-fulfilling.  So, we approach our upcoming road trip with anticipation and exhilaration and look forward to strengthening the connections between us with lasting memories and moments…progressing from one horizon to another.


In 2009, my Dad and I took a cross country trip in my minivan and shared many, many special moments and experiences.  But, our great country is VERY BIG and we missed quite a few locations, so we decided to continue our quest this year – this time in a motorhome ( Our RV Rental Demo ) with emphasis on the eastern seaboard.  Just like last time, we don’t have much of a rigidly planned itinerary, instead we will plan as we go and partake of the local events and activities and opportunities as they present.  We hope to see some of the more quirky and obscure parts of the country along with some iconic destinations and fall foliage while catching up with relatives and friends along the way.

I am so fortunate to have this opportunity to share this time with my Dad. Although there is never really enough time for everything, we have been able to create and share a special bond that will last forever in our hearts and minds.  These trips are a source of accomplishment and wonderment beyond compare for us.  Last time, we identified a positive thought for each and every day of our travels that came to us as an inspiration.  We will do that again on this trip as an affirmation that we can find something positive each and every day, if we take the time to look for it.

I want to thank my husband for being so understanding and supportive of me to go away for so long and I promise, once he is retired, we will share adventures and destinations like this together also. I want to thank my Dad, for having the spirit of adventure and self-confidence to venture out of a comfort zone to experience new things and re-visit the past during our journey (also for doing most of the driving, as I know he will).  Finally, I would like to invite all of you to travel along with us through the accountings on this blog. My goal is to provide regular updates of our progress (both geographically and personally), photos of interest, some recipes from the road and our daily words of inspiration.

So, put on your seatbelts, roll down the windows to let the wind blow through your hair, put your sunglasses on and get ready for our Road Trip 2011 (starting October 4) and discover what is around the next bend in the road!


New Beginnings

We are proud to announce that our family will be getting a new addition in May 2012.  Our daughter is having a baby!  This will be our first grandchild and we are looking forward to welcoming him or her into our loving arms.  As you can imagine, this will be a transition for all of us (especially the new parents) as our “youngest” is now 23.  You can see the anticipation and excitement in their eyes and also remember our own joys and fears when you realize that you are pregnant and your whole life is about to change. Hopefully, I can pass on some of my wisdom and experience to my daughter and help her adjust to her new motherly role, but we all know there is a crash course of motherhood and fatherhood that awaits them once their little bundle arrives!  We all survived it and I have confidence that they will also.

While walking with Dad in the park today, we reminisced about our own experiences.  He and my my Mom were barely past 20 years old and had been already “trying” for over a year – but timing was a bit off and my Mom was 5 weeks pregnant (same as our daughter is today, give or take) when she had to get on a ship to come back to the mainland from Hawaii (where my Dad was stationed).  Technically, she was not allowed to sail because she was pregnant, but she kept silent, fibbed (a little) and did it anyway.  Morning sickness + an ocean voyage – THAT must have been a real stomach turner!  How I wish that she was still with us to see her great-grandchild with my Dad.  I pray that she is watching over us, smiling and being a guardian angel for our daughter and her developing child.

It has been a long time since we had to have diapers (haven’t missed those much!), cribs, highchairs, strollers, security locks, bottles and binkies, baby food jars and little spoons that go zoom like an airplane, sippie cups and toys, toys, toys (if they can get them away from their uncle, great-uncles and Dad).  Looking forward to lullabies, first tooth, first step, first word, trips to Disneyland, Chutes and Ladders, Sing-Along DVDs, Peek-A-Boo, Patty-Cake, Little Piggies and “I Love You One…I Love You Two…I Love You Three…etc”, Christmas and Easter Egg “hunts”, Butterfly Kisses and Bear Hugs.  Then comes the whirlwind of years that fly by:  potty-trained (at last!), first day of school, taking off the training wheels, science fairs, recitals and sports, homecoming, puppy love, teen-angst (yuck!), prom, graduation, college, career, engagement, marriage and children of their own.

First official advice from Grandma and Grandpa:  Time goes quickly so make the most of every precious day.


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As Dad and I walked in the park this morning, we took it slow as it had been quite awhile since we had walked regularly.  The summer heat was too much for us, so we suspended the activity for the duration.  Not only did we miss the exercise, but more importantly, we missed our philosophical talks and observances about the world and about each other.  So, with our re-start of our walks, so to, did we re-start our discussions. We talked of the recession, the state of or government and some observations about relationships today.  In the end, all of our endpoints fell to a collective decision of two choices: commitment vs convenience.

Convenient choices are short-term, often self-serving, border unethical or illegal on occasion, greedy on some level or another and easy.  Divorce, affairs, schemes, fraud, waste, pollution, filibuster and the list goes on…are all some manifestation of convenience.  On the other hand, commitment tends to be long-term, giving, responsible, serves collective good and mostly hard.  Staying the course with a sense of purpose and service, thinking of the other person (people) in your life and those that you have never met, respecting each other and the environment and so many other selfless acts of kindness and generosity (monetary and emotional). Commitment takes a conscious effort, whereas convenience is more opportunistic.  Maybe that is why convenience seems to be ahead of commitment in the human race today…

You may be wondering if this rant belongs in this particular blog page about Family Connections, or not.  I believe that there is a connection because I have been fortunate to experience it first-hand, on many levels in my family.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we are NOT saints by any means and convenience has shaped many a decision in our family-tree.  What is true, though, is that the decisions and actions borne through commitment have really been the lasting glue of our family that has survived generations – and we are all better off for it. When we explore the threads in our family fabric, it becomes evident that the strength of the cloth lies in the inter-weaving of commitments that give us strength and longevity. Today’s families are really struggling and vulnerable to convenience over commitment and this is eroding our values and principles to the detriment of us all.  I would like to share a few simple examples of how commitment has shaped my own family and helped us to remain connected.

Some of our family immigrated to America to seek a new life.  They were not wealthy and this commitment was a hardship, not a pleasure cruise by any means.  Times were hard when they arrived.  A new language, new culture, obstacles and prejudices engulfed them. They reacted with ingenuity, hard work and an urgent sense of commitment to make their way in their new world. Their strength and fortitude brought them through it and allowed those that followed them to enjoy our freedoms and advantages.

Hard work and commitment to your job, profession or business is an ethic that has been passed down through our generations – pride in yourself and your ability to do the best job you can do. My grandparents were farmers, steel workers and truck/bus drivers – arduous hours invested in making a good living for their families.  My parents were entrepreneurs who worked together to build a successful business.  All of them set an expectation of success and excellence and pride that we try to pass on to our children, no matter what vocation they have chosen. Even in the midst of an unplanned failure or loss – we can all hold our heads high because we know that our commitment profiles our value and talents.  Sometimes, we have had to re-invent ourselves into new roles, but stay committed to evolving in a positive direction – even when it might have been easier to just give up or choose a negative alternative.

We hold our traditions close to our hearts and make a concerted effort to bring the family together to celebrate holidays, special family occasions and accomplishments and rites of passage.  It would be easier (i.e. more convenient) to let everybody just “do their own thing”, but it would also start to erode at the edges of our traditions until they became non-existent. The commitment to repeat the traditions is important to the legacy that the traditions represent.  We resist the urge to take the easy route lest we should leave our fond memories on the side of the road.

When demons knock on our door, it takes commitment to overcome and control them by binding ever closer to those that we love.  This is when family ties become very important.  The concept of unconditional love and support is the pinnacle of commitment and is invaluable when hard times are at hand. It would be more convenient to ignore or ostracize; and certainly more convenient to abandon or avoid – but in our family, the commitment to support and help those in need has mostly overpowered the convenient cop-out.  This has resulted, not only in a faster recovery and successful outcome for the unfortunate, but also in strong ties between us and the comforting assurance that we are not alone.  When we need each other, there is a positive response and with that, the bonds that connect us grow stronger with trust and love.

I encourage you to reflect on the commitments within your own family trees which have strengthened and nurtured the love and trust that exists within.  Learn from these sacrifices and assimilate them into your daily lives.  Pass the ideals down to your children and grandchildren.  Take the time to commit to each other in tangible and ethereal ways.  Be less tempted by the easy and convenient road.  Work on making your marriages work, invest time in nurturing your kids.  Make the best of your job – even if it is tedious it is still the means of financial comfort and stability in today’s unstable world – do your best to appreciate and commit to doing the best you can do and have pride in your accomplishments. Invest more effort in positive thoughts and actions and avoid negativity as much as possible.  Set the bar for commitment over convenience.  Commit to invest in your family – the rewards are long-term and satisfying.



This blog is dedicated to my family – you are the source of my pride and strength.

                                I am not much of a gardener, but I am proud to have nurtured the branches and roots of our family tree.     

                                                     I am not much of a navigator, but I am confident that we will always find our way when we follow our hearts.                         

                                                      I am not much of a seamstress, but the fabric that is our family can always be mended and forever will be a strong bonded seam.

                                 I am not much of a musician, but the melodies of your voices and laughter fill me with joy.     

                                                 I am not much of an artist, but the brush strokes, of each of you, color my canvas with beauty.         

                                           I am not much of a negotiator, but my love, for all of you, is unconditional.

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Tribute to my Mom

My novice trek into the world of blogging would not be complete without honoring my Mom, who forged into the cyber-world years ago before it was fashionable and mainstream.  Uncharacteristic of her peers of advanced age, she fearlessly took on the task of setting up her own blogs,”Memories and Moments by Granny Jo” and “Grandma’s Couch,” that had a loyal group of followers.  They enjoyed her recipes and associated stories about family and personal insights. With her physical health failing but her mentality ever stimulated, she was able to CONNECT with others in a virtual way, which gave her great satisfation and pride. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2008 – too soon.  I hope that her essence is floating on the airwaves and she is watching over my efforts.  I hope she is proud that I am continuing her legacy.  I intend to re-post some of her articles from time to time.  It keeps our DOTS CONNECTED…

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I grew up in an era without video games or computers to stifle my imagination. Instead, we were content with a coloring book and crayons (the box of 64, if you were lucky!) or a puzzle book. I was especially intrigued by the dot to dot puzzles and methodically followed the numerical or alphabetical pathway to unveil the “secret” pictures. Even though the picture was fairly obvious before you completed the path, it still was quite satisfying to watch it unfold as you connected the dots. Once the picture was revealed, you could stop awhile to admire your accomplishment and then move on to another challenge. So simple and pure and so fun!
Another game, that was usually reserved for pre-meal restaurant lag-time or waiting room distraction, used only a blank sheet of paper (the back of a placemat worked very well) and a pencil. First, the setup – dots had to be placed in an equidistant grid-like formation on the page (the more the better). Each person would take a turn to draw one line, anywhere on the grid, connecting only two dots. The object of the game was to prevent the other player from completing a full square and for you to complete as many squares as possible, in return. When you found a box with three completed sides, you gleefully completed a square and proudly placed your initial in the middle to “claim” that territory as your own. The person with the most completed squares won the game (and, most importantly, bragging rights). You had to learn to pay attention and to form a strategy to succeed. A life lesson on a placemat!
Now, I am older and still connecting dots of another kind with the same enthusiasm, strategy and sense of accomplishment. These dots are not on a page, but rather, they are the dots of our family tree. This is a more challenging exercise, as the dots are always in motion and sometimes they don’t want to cooperate. But, I keep plugging away at it because I believe that fostering healthy relationships within a family unit is an essential exercise that is often overlooked in our rat-race society. It really is our responsibility to seek out and facilitate connections between us. I prefer to think of it as an advanced version of my beloved dot-to-dot games. Hence the evolution of this new blog: Dot-Two-Dot Family Connections.
As we interact and share experiences (both good and bad) the lines between two individuals will take off in many directions and enrich and strengthen our relationships. This blog will share some of those experiences and, hopefully, inspire others to begin connecting the dots in their own relationships. Let’s reveal the secret pictures that make us special and work together to use the squares we claim to build a stronger family foundation…

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