La Famille Diez interviewed for cross-cultural blog

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It’s a facebook world…we’re just living in it

alone time

I’ve been noticing some interesting things since my self imposed social media hiatus. No one uses plain old email anymore! I got on facebook in 2008 and in that time facebook has become everyone’s go to medium for communication all over the world. In some ways, I completely embrace it. What happened in Egypt was incredible to watch. I love how when I’m planning a trip somewhere and I go to a travel site, it instantly gives me my friends’ recommendations and reviews. What a time saver! Most of all, I love seeing people’s photos of faraway places, their kids growing up and other fun things that people share. One of my friends was recently in Paris and he would tag me in all his photos from all my old haunts and it really took me there in little doses, which was so great. A piece of my heart still resides there.  I just want to remember to not replace all other communication with facebook and twitter. As fun as it is, nothing takes the place of a well timed phone call when a friend is going through a hard time. There is nothing like your friend or loved ones’ laugh, humor, encouragement, even shared tears. Those are moments only shared on the phone or even better, in person. We even connect on facebook with people who live down the street! What a sweet surprise it is when a girlfriend calls for a spontaneous coffee chat. Sometimes we just need a hug! I honestly do find I have more time and energy to oh, I don’t know, clean my house! I baked some gluten free bread made from coconut flour! And I’m back to the book I left half read a few weeks ago. Seeing my much emptier inbox has felt a little sad, but I just think well, everyone needs a little alone time. In fact, I think it’s something we need and crave. Since my son is home for the summer, I’ve had none and well, I think that’s why I haven’t written in the blog all summer. I thought it was because I just wasn’t inspired, but I need to be alone to gather my thoughts, to think things through and to write. So, I’ve decided to embrace this “alone time” as I try to strike a balance in this whole new world we’ve got going here. Can I choose the simple path AND be on facebook? I’m sure I can….I just have to, as Tim Gunn says, “make it work!”…by figuring out what the balance is for me.

Posted in baking, being present, choosing the simple path, coffee chats, e-mails, facebook break, friendship, gratitude, paying attention, phone calls, social media | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Ties That Bind

What is it about the ties that bind us that have the power to make us feel so good? My husband’s niece, her husband and their two adorable children are here visiting us from France for the week. My son has been in heaven. I haven’t seen him this “good in his skin” for months. There’s something about family that tells you deep inside you are loved for who you are, exactly as you are. At least we are lucky enough to have family like that. It’s all love, all support, all fun, all the time. I could adopt their nine month old daughter right now. The whole gang went to Legoland today and left me home with the baby girl. What an amazing day I had and it reminded me how far I’ve come since those in the trenches days of first babyhood, when your days and weeks consisted of rocking, singing, changing, bathing, feeding, burping, dressing, playing, reading, maybe taking a stoller walk to the park and back, or a Mommy & Me class. It was fun to imagine myself back in that mode. It was a very relaxing day…just the two of us. My job was keeping her happy and fed. Simple beauty, simple pleasures. And when I took her on an outing into the hood, she was the star at every stop. And people just look at you differently when you’re pushing a stroller…like “hey, that’s the next generation you’ve got there.” There’s something about a baby that just brings us hope…for the future, for the possibilities. Didn’t hurt that she is achingly beautiful! The women in the post office were doing backflips over her. It was fun pretending I was her Mom for the day. Then my big 11 year old came bounding in and everyone told me what an amazing tourguide he was today and how much fun they had. I’m amazed at his command of two languages, his poise, his kindness, and most of all his joie de vivre. I know he came like that, but I’m proud of whatever part I had in it. And so grateful for not only our amazing family who also helped shape him but also our tremendous extended chosen family of dear friends who form our local family as well. Mmmm, those ties that bind….I think they can tell us who we are. I’m so lucky that I like what I see.

Family Ties

BabyMama for the day

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Each time Honolulu City Lights…will bring me back again.

Stacy, Lianne and I at Honolulu International circa 1985

Like most of the world, I have been riveted by the trickling out of information about the demise of public enemy number one this week. After visiting the International Spy Museum in DC with my son, the details of the operation are not surprising but nonetheless, breathtaking. I found the articles in TIME this week to be particularly fascinating. I don’t want to diminish the profound nature of this event and it’s meaning to all of us especially those who lost someone. However, on a lighter note, I did want to blog about something that just popped in my head. While watching a particularly hilarious segment on Jon Stewart, I was reminded of pre 9/11 flying. It’s crazy to think of our collective naivte just ten short years ago. Much in the same way our collective “innocence” was lost after Kennedy’s assasination, everything changed that September day. Jason Jones was joking about getting ready to get on a plane with his Big Gulp, his nail clippers, his big bottle of shampoo wearing his high, lace-up boots! Hysterical. Yep, our kids will never know what it is to board a plane like that! With all the traveling we’ve done lately, I have that little plastic baggie of liquids down to a science! Having an 11 year old harbor a second magic plastic baggie in his backpack of toys is a special bonus, right? “No, it’s not for your shampoo, it’s for Mama’s skincare products!” It just got me thinking about all those changes and what I was most wistful about… and, for me, it’s the cute, tropical terminal at Honolulu International. There was something that tugged at your heartstrings every time you arrived or left Hawaii. Upon arrival, a relative might meet you at the gate. You’re looking for them and you finally spot them, standing there with a lei or two, tanned and smiling, so happy to welcome you home. Or when leaving, noticing people with many leis around their necks, some leaving for college or a job or going back to their new home in the mainland….the aroma of plumerias and gardenias and pikake filling the air…the blue lights out on the runway, the balmy air….the wiki wiki buses that take you to baggage claim. I guess those days are gone. How about you? What do you miss?

me and my Dad, same day

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Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh BACON!!!

I’m accepting the wordpress challenge to dare to discuss….BACON. I remember a physical trainer that I worked out with briefly way back when saying to me, “NO ONE should EVER really eat bacon.” And I gave it up. For a time. But ever so slowly….be it sprinkled on a spinach salad, or cooked into a delicious quiche or sugared and fried at a breakfast joint along with eggs and pancakes, it made it’s way back into my repertoire. A fellow drama geek friend of mine even wrote a song about it that has become a family favorite in my house. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I now enjoy bacon without guilt in all of the above ways. One of our favorite things to do with bacon is to make spaghetti carbonara; a simple, rustic Italian dish that I learned how to make when I lived in France. This recipe comes from the Italian grandmother of a dear, African friend. Enjoy!

Mama's Spaghetti Carbonara

Mama's Spaghetti Carbonara


2 tablespoons Butter

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Bacon (about 6 pieces)

1 egg yolk

Pepper (optional)

Green peas (optional)

Cook your bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels.

Cook your spaghetti and drain in a colander

In a pot, melt your olive oil and butter, stir in the crème fraiche

Add in your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce using tongs

Remove from flame and add the egg yolk. Stir vigorously with a fork.

Add the bacon, a little pepper and freshly cooked peas. The bacon alone is the more classic version.

Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled as desired.

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Why should we give until it hurts?

Japanese cherry blossom

In the aftermath and on going tragedy in Japan, I’ve been thinking about the nature of giving and receiving every day and in times of need. These disasters and tragedies seem to keep coming and we may find ourselves thinking, how much more can we give? Maybe you gave heartily to Haiti and many of us may think “if I were well off I’d give or I’d give so much more all the time.” The truth is that money only makes us more who we already are. If you are a generous person who gives where and when you can, you will be even more so if you have more money. If you are generally someone who is fearful and tightfisted with your money, you will be even more so when you have money. I’ve heard that many times  and I believe it to be true having seen it in my own life and borne out in the lives of others. For me, personally, I was born with a charity chip firmly embedded in my make-up. Starting at about eight years old, watching the Jerry Lewis telethon each year, I would sit my mother in front of a phone with tears streaming down my face and say, “look at that kid! Call right now!” I just kind of always knew that we were here to help each other along. I recently read a speech by Nelson Mandela where he said not only is it our task in life to care for one another but to care for ourselves. We must be careful in our decisions, careful in our relationships, careful in our statements. We must manage our lives carefully, in order to avoid becoming victims. Obviously, it’s not always easy, but I would venture to say that it’s most rewarding and revealing when it’s hard. It’s our pain in life that makes us strong and makes us connected to each other. This is never more tested than when it’s your turn to receive. There is nothing more humbling and spiritual than when you are just laid bare and need to reach out your hand. And I promise you, that time comes for all of us. A day when we are brought to our knees by death, divorce, illness, disaster, job loss, tragedy, depression….a day when our fellow man gives us their hand and pulls us up…..and both are saved. Many of us shy away from the pain, this kind of intensity of feeling…of giving and receiving. But again, like with so many things in life, in and through the pain comes beauty.

Why should we give until it hurts? Because it hurts so good.

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Get outta Dodge! Who knows what you’ll find?

a river runs through it...

About a month ago, my stepsister offered us a week in her condo in Kirkwood, Tahoe. It would work out well with my son’s week off from school, but a ski vacation…really? Now? It felt extravagant. But I said to my husband this was one of those things we needed to say yes to. No regrets. So, after borrowing ski equipment, digging out all our long stored ski clothes and packing up our car with all the Trader Joe’s supplies we could manage, we were off on a family road trip! After much consideration due to snow and ice, we decided on the 395, not realizing what a great decision that would turn out to be. None of us had ever driven this road and it was extraordinary (see above photo!) Just breathtaking mountains, streams, cows, wild horses, snow, tiny towns. We ended up taking a little known side loop to avoid using chains, which is where I got the above shot. I felt like I wanted to get on a horse in some chaps and a cowboy hat and ride into the sunset! As we drove through Hawthorne, we all wondered aloud what the heck all those miles of underground bunkers were all about. Certainly top secret military operations that your average citizen can know nothing about. Aliens? Secret Ops? Does anyone know? Fascinating. We stopped and ate at Jack’s in Bishop and found out that the original owners were a couple who started the business after the war and that after Jack died, his widow married their short order cook! Fascinating. We eventually made it up to Kirkwood and spent the week in the beautiful mountain “cabin”, which felt like a 5 star lodge, cooking scrumptious meals, playing jenga and bi-lingual scrabble, watching movies, popping popcorn, taking epsom salt jacuzzi baths and because it was so cold, cuddling all together in the big king size bed each morning. Oh, and there was so much snow we built a snowman named Bob on the balcony! And then there was the skiing. My first time skiing in four, maybe five years and my son’s first official ski lessons. The year I was diagnosed with cancer, 2007/8, was the year I was going to make my dream of us being a ski family come true. We were going to ski that February vacation, get our son ski lessons like I had when I was his age. But here we were, the three of us riding the lift together….in Tahoe no less, the very place where I first learned how to ski at 10 years old…just like my son. Synchronicity. It just felt right. I told them of my dream and how here we were, making it a reality.

beautiful day

It didn’t take me long to get my “ski legs” back. I guess it’s one of those riding a bike things and what was so amazing was how I suddenly recognized myself. I thought, “I know this. I remember this. This rocks!” I had this overwhelming feeling of, “this is me.” And it all kind of came together that I need to say yes to things…. to life, to getting out of my comfort zone, getting the hell outta “Dodge”. Who knows what you’ll find? Maybe you.

Posted in being present, choosing the simple path, epiphanies, gratitude, memories, paying attention | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments