Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Oh The Places You'll Go"

"Slowtravellers Unite" Savannah Georgia
Another great party at Palma's desert Slowtrav GTG

Athena's summer in NYC

Angel's stadium, Anaheim California

Athena in London

Cliffs of Mohr, Ireland Athena celebrates her "20th Birthday" September

Athena in Paris

Top of the Duomo on Aria's 24th birthday, February

Firenze: Stefano, Barb, Aria and Daniele "Fancy meeting you HERE!"

We did alot of traveling this year. Sometimes it felt like Grand Central Station with bags packed, making reservations, discovering the "how to maneuvers" of new cities, but all in all it was a year of many adventures.

This is how 2008 stacked up for the us:
January: Recuperate from the holidays and gear up for travel
February: Barb to Italy
March: Re-Opening Ceremony for the Jingu Family Japanese Tea Gardens in Texas
April: Barb's "Slowtravel Get-together" Savannah Georgia
Aria and Daniele to Paris for Easter break
May: Athena to NYC for summer Penguin Publication internship
June: Aria finishes her Fulbright in Sardinia. Off to Rome, Florence and southern Italy
July: Barb to Bay area
August: Everyone's home to celebrate Daniele's 1st visit to California
September: Aria starts graduate school, University of Wisconsin, Athena to Ireland
October: Barb and Mike to Charleston, South Carolina
Palm Desert "Slowtrav" Get-together at Palma and Brad's
November: Cleveland Ohio family visit
Thanksgiving in Las Vegas
December: Athena to Paris
Everyone home for the Holidays!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There Will Be Signs

Laguna Beach Aug. 2008...a stranger left us a nice note in the sand

My normal morning routine is to rise pretty early and go straight to the computer. I check email, I read blogs, I spend far too much time on my favorite internet site "". The first thing that caught my eye today was on my slowtrav friend, Kim's blog. She quoted a piece of writing entitled, "Footprints". It's something that seems to come along every now and then with just enough time between readings that when you re-read it, it is meaningful all over again. I love things that seem to come along just at the right time. It's soothing, comforting. What it feels like is that your questions are being heard and someone is listening to you and is answering you. The thing is sometimes you don't know if anyone is hearing you and then a sign pops up, or a quote on a blog or something obscure appears in your path written in the sand and you feel like you are not alone and you are certainly being heard. I was reminded of a time in my life when I felt particularly stressed, feeling torn and overburdened with responsibilities for my mom and my children and work and taking night classes. That morning I was driving along filled with anxiety. The light turned red and I slowed the car to a stop. I glanced down to the bumper sticker pasted on the car in front of me. This is what it said: "Don't worry, it's in God's hands."

Sometimes that's all you need to remember. There will be signs.

Here is the "Footprints" passage.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?" The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you." Mary Stevenson

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Annual "JINGU Bells" Family Christmas Party

We all know Jeff's line, "Ciao Bella!"

Great to have Aria and Daniele home with us for Christmas!

Cousin Ann baked all the cookies.

Everyone wanted to steal Sonya's diamond studded glasses...

....except ME!

Merry, Merry Christmas Everyone!

Holidays would not be complete without our annual JINGU family Christmas party. Cousins, aunts and uncles, grandpas, grandmas, nieces and nephews gather from far and near. This year Daniele shared his first American Christmas with us. The "white elephant" gift exchange was the hit of the night. Everyone wanted Sonya's diamond studded sunglasses. Sorry Aria but I had to steal your pedicure set but good thing you have a nice boyfriend who stole it from me and gave it back to YOU! What a lot of laughs we had. Everyone wanted Sonya's diamond studded butterfly sunglasses but no one wanted your piece of COAL. Buon Natale-Merry Christmas!!

Speaking of Thrill rides

I think this picture that I found from 1995 will tell you how everyone in my family feels about thrill rides.

A rainy day at Knott's Berry Farm

A good day at Knott's with Aria and Daniele...
Bumper cars are harmless fun ...
Swinging boats are getting a little scary (notice Daniele, Aria and Mike are the only customers)

This is them upside down!

One of the things we did while Aria and Daniele were here was to take them to Knott's Berry Farm. The unfortunate thing was the only day we had free to do this was a rainy day. Despite the weather we had a great time. During one of the drier moments Aria, Daniele and Mike went on one of those crazy upside down, super fast roller coasters. It was Daniele's first time on a coaster ( in italian it is called "montagne russe"). She tried to convince him to go on another one but he said the one experience was "fine". They did manage to convince him to go on one of those giant swinging yi yiii....I stayed on the sidelines and took pictures. We did all the shows, live theater, snoopy skating performances etc. I did go on the log ride and bumper cars...that's about all that I can handle. It was a lot of fun despite the rain.

My first blog

I'm making the big leap here and starting a blog for the new year. Will see how far I get and if I can find things to fill the pages. Someone once said, "Every end is a Beginning" and so I hope as 2008 comes to an end I will continue to experience wonderful beginnings in 2009. This past year has been filled with lots of learning and opportunities for new adventures. I traveled to Italy to celebrate Aria's 24th birthday, made fond memories experiencing her life in Sardinia. I met so many wonderful friends in Italian language classes and also shared adventures with friends who enjoy "Slowtravel". I had great visits to Savannah Georgia, San Antonio Texas, Charleston South Carolina and San Francisco throughout the year. I can only hope that 2009 will continue to be as fulfilling and adventurous as this past year has been. In my own small way I am trying to follow a path which is personal and true to who I am. I am trying to "Follow My Bliss".
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