Angels Do Have Wings

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We arrived at SEATAC airport (Seattle Tacoma) at 5 am headed to Ontario, California two days ago. Everything was smooth. From Richard dropping us off at the curb to locating our gate. Our assigned seats were located at the rear of the plane (row 31) and we marched our way down the aisle. I didn’t bump into any elbows nor did Owen’s backpack hit anyone in the face in passing. Our seat was second to the last row and I was pleased that we sat in front of a mother of two little ones. I had already befriended the 5 yr old girl and I was looking forward to making her 1 yr old sister smile.

We settled into our seats and that’s when a problem presented itself in paws and a wagging tail. A service dog with its master parked themselves behind us. My eyes widened as I met Owen’s worried look. We didn’t see this one coming. Owen is allergic to pets. He started rubbing his eyes and I immediately asked an attendant if they had some kind of Benadryl. I needed one for my son who is allergic to the dog. That’s when the magic began.

I’ve never been the type who gets over dramatic about situations that aren’t going as planned. I remain positive and always find the silver lining. The Alaska Airline attendant immediately got to work and told me to give her a moment (to see if she can find us another seat). I look over at Owen and his eyes are red and watering. He is starting to wheeze and I calmly explain to him that the attendant is doing what she can to alleviate the unforeseen issue. I remain calm and wait patiently.

Not long after, the attendant caught my eye and she gives me a motherly reassuring nod and smile. A tall gentleman with a red beard was trailing behind her with his things in his arms. We made way for this Good Samaritan and I thank him whole heartedly as he claimed his seat(s). He gave up his seat at the front of the plane, row 12 to be exact, for a little boy (& his mom).

As I sat in my seat reflecting, I felt tears come to my eyes. I started to think, what if no one had given up their seat? Would this mean Owen & I would catch the next flight out? Would they have asked the service dog and its master to do the same? Would we need to flip a coin on who stays on and who gets off? Would Owen have to endure the (short) flight in complete discomfort? I told myself to breathe, relax and be simply grateful. It doesn’t matter anymore. The good deed has been done. I later introduced myself to Eric and shook his hand. He gives a “no problem” gesture and smile, like it was nothing. Evidently, as a mother, it meant a lot to me and to Owen’s lungs.

It turns out earth-bound angels are in places you least expect. I’m not religious but I am spiritual. I believe in humanitarianism, spirit guides and having good karma.

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Meaningful Friendships

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About a year ago, we embarked on this journey of traveling by trailer in search of a good home.

I (still) sharply remember getting very homesick. I missed my family and friends.

The brave act of selling everything we owned, including cars and house; was very new to me and I had doubts by day 3; but at the same time, I embraced the obstacles and dealt with it as best I could. We were following our hearts and letting go of our fears. We were looking for a better and happier life.

I remember meeting a woman and her dog as I walked along the shores of a lake at Bridgeport, CA. I felt so lonely and this earth-bound angel befriended me. We walked along the lake talking as if We were friends for years. She gave me all the love and reassurance I needed. After that, she was gone. Came and went, her mission accomplished.

Throughout the year during my travels, I lost communication with a friend or two. Long distance friendships aren’t for everybody and sadly I had to accept it and let go of them. It was hard to do. I kept hanging on to what we used to have.

On the bright side, I have a handful of close friends who stuck with me; checking up on me, texting and/or making me laugh from thousands of miles away. These are friends I send postcards and Holiday cards to. I am grateful they are in my life.

Losing some friends also meant gaining new ones. Not too long ago, Owen made a friend at spring camp. I connected with his friend’s mom and we became friends. She lifted me up spiritually when I was at my lowest. Needless to say, she came at a very good time in my life. Once again, at a time of sadness, an earth-bound angel appeared.

One thing I learned: When I was up in life, my friends got to know who I am. When I was down in life, I got to know who my friends are.

Owen & I are in California for a few days. We’ll be getting in touch with his old friends and rekindling friendships. As for me, I have one goal: to personally appreciate that friend who made a difference in my year of stressful and lonely moments. Friends who I consider my on-call personal earth-bound Angels.

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Socialization. (We got this)

We’ve been staying more local, mainly focusing on Owen’s academic and social life. There are many stereotypes on homeschooled kids; socialization is one of them. His social life is different from someone who attends a public or a private school, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Don’t feel sorry for him nor treat him any different. He makes friends his own way and let’s leave it at that. If you worry about his socialization, please don’t.

Owen has a healthy social life; he is exposed to children of all ages, different cultural backgrounds, kids in all walks of life. When Owen meets a like-minded individual, they become friends for life. He has meaningful and loving friendships with penpals and friends.

I think Owen used to be a knight in his past life. Here he is with friend Jake having a sword fight. Jake and his mom Jeannie Pierce live 1 hour away but the distance doesn't stop us from visits. Owen found his big brother in Jake, just what he always wanted.
I think Owen used to be a knight in his past life. Here he is with friend Jake having a sword fight. Jake lives 1 hour away but the distance doesn’t stop us from visits. Owen found his big brother in Jake, just what he always wanted.
Owen met Dillon at the homeschool workshop held at Hands on Children's museum. They learned about optical illusion. Dillon gave Owen his email address so they can keep in touch. I met his mom Kim and she will be inviting us to homeschool meet ups soon. Here they are driving a police car without their license.
Owen met Dillon at the homeschool workshop held at Hands on Children’s museum. They learned about optical illusion. Dillon gave Owen his email address so they can keep in touch. Here they are driving a police car without their license.
Homeschool kids go on field trips, too. But in smaller groups.
Homeschool kids go on field trips, too. They’re not kept in basements or closets. They wear funny hats but they’re normal as can be.
My homeschooled son plays with kids of all ages and size. He has a heart for little ones.
Owen plays with kids of all ages and height. He has a heart for little ones.
Girls, boys, toddlers? No problem! If Owen likes you, he'll play with you.
Girls, boys, toddlers? No problem! If Owen likes you, he’ll play with you.
Hanging out with like-minded kids.
Hanging out with like-minded kids.
Jacob from our old neighborhood regularly facetime Owen.
Jacob from our old neighborhood regularly facetime Owen. All they do is giggle and laugh.
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Owen’s array of friends are not all homeschooled. He is taught to accept people for who they are.

So, as you can see, there’s no reason to worry. We got this.

Owen’s New Classroom

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I found a volunteer opportunity here at a family support center (a homeless shelter). It’s specifically for families, providing them shelter and resources to help them get back on their feet.

For additional info: http://www.fscss.org

I was looking to do something to keep myself busy and at the same time, expand Owen’s homeschooling. This is the place where I can teach him what humanitarianism is.

I attended a volunteer training a few weeks ago for a host/greeter. It’s basically babysitting the front desk for 2 hours. I was supposed to sign up on the schedule but have been dodging their email because I didn’t want to do it. So hard to say no to such a good cause.

Finally, I wrote back and gave them an honest reply. I said it’s not what I had in mind for me and my son. I wanted to be more hands-on and use my talent. I explained that my personality type required me to be on the move constantly. Sitting at a desk at a quiet environment with nothing to do will be torture for me (& Owen). I asked the coordinator to please keep me in mind should she need help in other areas.

My honesty paid off because she wrote back and asked me what I had in mind. I proudly talked about my experience as a children’s event coordinator & host; providing arts & craft activities for the kids, hosting Lego nights, etc. this is where I would excel, I told her. I also emphasized that my son will be with me.

She wrote me back right away and Gave me two good news. One, she said its a family-friendly atmosphere and Owen is welcome to be with me.  Second, she had wanted to implement an arts and craft activity at the center on a regular basis. She asked me to come in to meet with her to collaborate.

The center is not like a homeless shelter you’ve seen in the movies. It looks and feels more like a center. It’s a place where I’d be comfortable hanging around with Owen, to be honest. They have offices there for the coordinators and an open lobby where the front desk is situated that overlooks the common area. The common area has a business corner, a TV/living area and a children’s section where I’ll be.

Our meeting was Monday and it went very well. I will be the center’s volunteer Arts & Craft teacher! Katherine the coordinator and I bounced off some ideas. We are going to have a sign up sheet to determine how many will attend. We’re also going to allow them to tell us what kind of activities they’d like to do. More importantly, we’re going to let parents sign up as helpers. Our first activity is decorating holiday-themed cookies.

Like I did at my community back in California, I will be taking pictures of the kids and creating collages and displaying their masterpieces and highlighting them on a bulletin board at the center. Starting January 2015, I will be volunteering twice a month. The best part is: Owen will be involved and meet children of different backgrounds. His humanitarian training starts here. The second best part is: I get to teach kids art and give them a sense of pride towards their creations.

Moral of my story: my goal was met when I started with being honest.

What I learned: My God-given talent is going to be used to make a difference in a child’s life, starting with my son’s.

Washington State Fair, Puyallup

Owen enjoyed the giant slide.
Owen enjoyed the giant slide.
My bumper-car riding boys.
My bumper-car riding boys.
Richard says he could do this all day and take a nap in it.
Richard says he could do this all day and take a nap in it.
Archery Club members were there for the public.
Archery Club members were there for the public.
Chess Club members were there to offer tips to chess players. This particular person wasn't too happy to play with Owen. You can tell by her body language. He later tells me that she was grumpy.
Chess Club members were there to offer tips to chess players. This particular person wasn’t too happy to play with Owen. You can tell by her body language. He later tells me that she was grumpy.

The good that came out of this painful game of chess was meeting a homeschooling mom. As soon as I said we’re home schoolers too, we connected. She friended me on facebook that second and invited us to a field trip at a farm located in our city. We’ll be keeping in touch.

We had a special parking spot specifically for oversized trucks. It was so much easier getting in and out.
We had a special parking spot specifically for oversized trucks. It was so much easier getting in and out.
Picture of the day.
Picture of the day.

See you later Oregon, hello Washington!

We haven’t been able to share any updates for one  reason:  we didn’t have a strong wifi signal. Loading pictures took two hours and as you can all imagine, it can be frustrating. And it’s not that we had nothing to share. We have a lot to blog about…

But before I start, I’d like to share some of the Oregon pictures that got left behind:

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Ashland, OR, our last night. After exploring in Ashland and Medord, we realized it’s not the city(ies) for us.
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Roseburg, OR. I’m always happy when Owen makes a friend. Here he is showing Shane how to make dragon origami.
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Move over Starbucks, the Dutch Bros Coffee rules the streets of Oregon here. We lost count after 28.
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Salem, OR. We walked around downtown where the capitol was located. I like anything to do with maps and directions and found this sign very fascinating (especially the upside down boy.)
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Downtown Salem, OR. This was my first time eating at a sushi place that serves you via conveyor belt. I was above the moon! Our entire lunch cost $20!!

 

Going cuckoo for sushi!
Going cuckoo for sushi!

Mount St. Helens, Washington

July 27, 2014

What a fun day it was! Our day started off slow with morning chores and finally got out of the city after lunch. Way too late to start the day, but Mount St. Helens was only 30 minutes away and we had nothing else planned the rest of the day.

Owen earned another badge at the visitor center by completing a Junior Geologist Booklet. There’s a great exhibit with detailed pictures and facts about the eruption that took place 1980. (Please stop by the tab entitled “Education on the go” to see pictures.) He learned a lot, but he learned more by going on this helicopter tour…

 

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I nearly threw up when Richard and Owen suggested we go on a helicopter. My fear of heights wouldn’t get us far. So it was decided that they’d have a father & son bonding hour. I had my happy hour on earth with my feet planted on the ground. More about that later…
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Owen’s reaction is priceless!!

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This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys' lives.
This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys’ lives.

 

 

This is where I was. Safe on earth.
This is where I was. Safe on earth.

I’m sitting under the umbrella making friends with the safety officer. He is from Juneau, Alaska and was giving me must-do and see during our trip to Anchorage next week. He told me about this funny story during his July 4th.  The entire block have front yard barbecues and fireworks go off in the sky and you can barely see it because the sun doesn’t go down. Still, the residents ooh and ahh at the fireworks even if it’s faint in the Alaska skies…

I also met a woman who happens to be Captain Soren, (the pilot)’s girlfriend. They are from Portland, Oregon. When I expressed that we’re interested in spending winter in the area, she gave me a lot of pointers. She told me what to expect in weather, job opportunities, apartment rental-locations, etc. I basically interviewed her.

Later on, we were talking about how nice it is to hire a maid to do our house chores. I told her I used to have a housekeeper and often felt guilty; but boy, did it feel good to come home to a clean house! I don’t know how we ended up talking about that out of the blue… It was great to have met her.  She kept me company while she waited for her boyfriend to be done for the day. It was nice to have met a friend…

 

Powell’s City of Books, Downtown Portland, OR

 

 

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Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.
Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.
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Powell’s City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books.

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I roamed around Powell’s Bookstore admiring the 5×5 cards on the shelves. They were informative, eye-catching and humorous. I took pictures of my favorite ones to share with you.

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Shelly, a shelf-talker maker. While walking around, I met an employee behind a desk. She was illustrating something on a 5×5 card. I introduced myself and we got to talking.
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I learned about the art technique she was using with water color pencils. She gave me a few useful techniques using her fingers (or brush). It was just what I needed! I was so inspired! She let me take a picture of her and her current work.
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I learned that all the employees made shelf-talkers. Some write out recommendations, some create book summaries while others illustrate to catch readers attention.

Lithia Park, Ashland Oregon

I met a woman named Malia and we got to talking… (like how I met most of my friends). She volunteers at the community events and teaches arts and crafts to children. (I practically met myself!). I told her we’re always open to meeting locals and being one with nature. She recommended a few local hot spots for Owen to enjoy.

Lithia Park was one of them.

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This park had trails galore and goes on for miles. You can choose dirth path or paved. You can hike above Ashland Creek and be amongst the trees or along the creek where you can hear it rushing continously. You can walk your dog or your stroller. You can get a good work out or just have a picnic along the creek.

We chose to hike along the creek around the evening and it was such a humid warm day. Not as enjoyable but the deers we kept encountering made my sour disposition go away. We saw about 4 and two babies.

We ventured to the far end of the park where Malia told me about the dam where the kids swim at the reservoir.

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We saw local kids swim at the reservoir.
We saw local kids swim at the reservoir.
That would be a deer grazing while the hula-dancing class swayed away.
That would be a deer grazing while the hula-dancing class swayed away.

These are beautiful houses along Lithia Park.

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I made a friend!

Josiah from Garfield Park.
Josiah from Garfield Park.

Looks like my magnet for children is active even outside California! This little boy was such a delight to talk to. He’s got middle-child written all over him.

He shared his Etch-a-sketch with me and Richard. He told me he liked broccoli, green beans, tuna fish and mayo. He reported that at age 5, he quit school. Why, I asked, “because teachers keep telling me what to do and I don’t like that.” He had me grinning and we were BFF in no time!

When he found out Owen is my son, he exclaimed, “No he’s not…. He can’t be. You’re his sister!”