Back home in Tucson, Arizona, July 2008
Timing is everything and once again, it was on Blue Sky's side.  Emma, Phoebe & Drake had an opportunity to go home to visit family, neighbors & friends, so they embarked on a 31 hour journey to Tucson, Arizona.  Saying good-bye to Blue Sky we caught the 7:30 am ferry to get to the airport  in time for our first flight, which was one hour to Kuala Lumpur.  Arriving on time we had five hours to collect our bags and catch the bus to the International airport.  A first class airport, we checked in and were assigned our seats and proceeded to the nearest KFC for lunch. Once on our flight we enjoyed watching our own movies and after eight hours we landed in Taipai, Taiwan, where we had to get off the plane for two hours.  Back on the plane it was twleve more hours to Los Angeles.   Customs was a breeze and in the terminal we had an emotional reuinion with our Redondo Beach friends.  Our neighbors, the Morgan family; Jason, Carla, Alexandra & Nicholas along with Peterdog & Pam. Little did I know that Jim secretly arranged this.  In the Malaysian tradition the clothes I wore covered my knees and shoulders, it was nice being back in LA where shorts and tank tops are the norm.  Our next flight left four hours later and was a quick hour flight to Tucson.  Our journey ended at 11:30 pm on the same day we left, so we gained a day.
The first weekend in town the timing was perfect again, my dear friend, Tara Holmes, in orange, was in town from Zion Utah visiting family. She had been through five of six chemo treatments for Ovarian Cancer.  To celebrate making it this far we had a small high school reunion at my house. To the left is Tara and Kris Thacker, above them is Terri Kessler and Lisa Lovallo and the group includes myself  Laurie Dagostino, Tara and Didi Sadeh.   Drake is swimming with Laurie's son Travis.  I have just learned that Tara is in remission and is a survivor!! 
The third weekend in Tucson, Jim's mom and dad and three sisters flew in to visit.  Left, bottom row is Matthew (Sister Marcia's son from Houston, Texas), Phoebe, Katie, Drake and in the back row, Becca (Sister Lisa's eldest daughter from Steamboat Springs, Colorado) and Forrest her boyfriend.  Bill and Dora Ann, Jim's parents, came from Reno, Nevada and  are pictured below at our favorite  Mexican restaurant, Casa Molina.  My father, Ed, is pictured with Jim's eldest sister, Lisa.
Phoebe plays dress up with Tara's daughter Kayley (my mom has three huge boxes of my old dance outfits and fancy dresses that she has saved since I was a child.)  Phoebe is wearing a shawl that belonged to her great-grandmother Phoebe. 
The view from my parents back yard of the Catalina Mountains.  I have sailed half way around the world and Tucson still has some of the most spectacular sunsets.
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Whenever I am in Tucson we always visit our good friend, and one of my roommates from the UofA, Pepe and his wife Sophie. Their daughter Emma (what a lovely name) taught Phoebe and Katie how to do a whirl pool in the Jacuzzi and Drake experienced playing the Wii with Forrest.  I was treated to a lovely bbq pork tenderloin,  something I can not get in Malaysia, while Pepe and Sophie were pretending to be Malaysian.
Drake and Matthew are wearing ties because we all went to dinner at Pinnacle Peak, located in Trail Dust Town. They serve delicious steaks and have one rule, no ties!  Their ties were promptly cut off by a cowboy ringing a cow bell to make sure the whole restaurant heard.  After dinner we enjoyed walking around the mock cowboy town watching the gun fight, riding the train and having Auntie Lisa treat everyone to candy.
Katie, Becca and Phoebe on the train
Matthew and his mom Marcia
Phoebe, Katie, Matthew and Drake on a covered wagon.
Grandpa Mather and Drake
Marcia with Drake and Matthew in their ties.
My brother Mark and his wife Eileen live in Phoenix, which is a two hour drive away from Tucson. Having three children their schedule was full of summer activities.  Phoebe and Drake wanted to spend as much time as they could with their cousins so we drove the two hours and stayed with them for the weekend.  Drake is pictured with his cousin William, the only 15 year old I know who kept his weekend free to play x-box and swim with his 8 year old cousin.  Phoebe is swimming with Maggie (11) and is all dressed up with Katie (8). The girls enjoyed watching all the latest TV shows and listening to their favorite music.    Phoebe and Drake learned there was a Lego store nearby and were eager to  stock up for the boat, after which we went to a pool with slides and a high dive. A perfect way to spend the day when the temperature can reach over 110 degrees.  The one thing Phoebe and Drake miss out on is organized sports, so it was a treat for us to watch William, Maggie and Katie compete in their final swim meet for the summer.  Our good friend Pablo, Paul Marquis, who went to high school with Jim and the University of Arizona, with us, came over for a BBQ one evening as he lives in Phoenix.  Jim's ears were burning from us talking about old times and new.  Paul is also Drake's godfather, so they had some good bonding. 

Back in Tucson Grandma treated us to a Christmas in July roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner, along with Christmas crackers. A proud grandpa poses with his grandchildren.
I loved growing up in Tucson and whenever we have family or guests stay I enjoy taking them to some of my favorite places.  While Bill and Ed played golf the rest of us played tourist.  Driving west we went over Gates Pass, with spectacular views of the sprawling desert, the city and the mountains.  Using this opportunity as an educational field trip for the children, they were taught about the different cacti  and that it takes a saguaro (the g is silent) 55-60 years to grow it's first branch or arm, the one Phoebe is in front of would be approximately 170 years old.    The next stop was the San Xavier Mission, built over 300 years ago, and founded by Father Kino. Also known as the White Dove of the Dessert it is located on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and still functions as a church.  The walls inside have colorful paintings decorating them, one of which was recently uncovered, having been hiding behind dirt for over 100 years.
The refurbished south tower of the mission.  The second tower was never completed and no one knows why.
Becca, Forrest and Lisa at Gates Pass
San Xavier Del Bac
Marcia, Becca, Forrest, Matthew, Phoebe, Katie and Drake in front of the mission.
Sabino Canyon is another great destination offereing visitors a tram ride  that winds through the canyon over seven bridges.  There was a flash flood caused by heavy rain a couple years ago which washed much of the road away, it only recently re-opened.  My mother, Ruth, pictured with us, is a docent and she shows visitors how to pan for garnets, which are found in the sand within the river.  While on the tram, Drake and Phoebe spotted a rattlesnake coming out of it's den.
Phoebe in front of a saguaro cactus and a prickly pear.
The final night of the family's visit we had a party at my parents house.  Jim's youngest sister, Kara, is pictured with her husband Brian. Paul and his girlfriend Allison joined us as well.  To the right is my brother and his family.
One family member that was missing was Lisa's youngest daughter, Lizzie, who recently graduated from high school and was preparing for University, congratulations!

Located behind my parents house is a stretch of desert and passed that the driving range to the
Tucson Country Club golf course.  Jim and I were married on the driving range with the reception in my parents back yard, Phoebe and Drake pose under the mesquite tree that Jim and I said our vowes under.   

It was so wonderful to spend such quality time together, we are very fortunate to have such a loving and caring family.
Phoebe poses with her new haircurt.