Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Cheer and 2015 Year-in-Review

Instead of the annual holiday letter and a day full of addressing cards, this year we're presenting a year-in-review!  We'll still send out a few cards, but our goal this year is a more lovely recap of the year with lots of photos that will be a double win, sharing a more vivid update with friends / family and saving us the intense time of sending cards to almost everyone we care about (there are a lot of you)! We think this will be more fun for everyone. Thus, on with the show!

This year....

We've continued to love our home among the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.  I'm also still a huge fan of visiting the ocean with every grocery visit because I find it so breathtakingly beautiful.

Tracker came back from guide dog school.  He flunked at the end of training for a fluke which left him beautifully trained to be a private service animal. He became Cameron's autism service dog.

We visited LegoLand as a family, plus Cameron's best friend, Nat.

Andrew's parents and niece visited us.  Cameron and Cousin Emma are wonderful together.

Andrew started work at Looker, a company based in Santa Cruz.  He's loving it and we had fun together at their holiday party!

He's also continuing work on his Minecraft site in spare time and getting lots of traffic so that it supports itself!

My beautiful niece was born and grew!

We visited Atlanta as a family and enjoyed a wonderful conference! Cameron met his online literature teacher.

Andrew and I started clarinet lessons together and Andrew has become enthralled.  He's joined a symphonic band and loves the instrument.

Cameron graduated 5th grade which is the end of elementary school here. (Year book page and hugging the principal at graduation)

Throughout 2015, Cameron did many more studies with Stanford. He's an expert at the fMRI machine and we've got soooo many colorful pictures of his brain!

Over the summer, Cameron house sat for neighbors with farm animals. He liked the goats. It was his first paid job outside of the studies.

He went to two camps and almost three.  He had his first experience of home sickness and decided that two was enough. (OVY camp, Camp Altitude... he loved the counselors)

My best friend visited with her family and we explored lots of local attraction.  So wonderful to have friend time :)

We went to Sea Ranch for a visit with my parents.  They dealt with a serious health challenge this year and it was wonderful to spend quality time together. We played lots of games together and apart and brought the clarinets too.

I started singing in a local chorus that does barbershop and is stretching my skills!  I've made my first recording with them and been coached by famous international directors.  Exciting!

Cameron started at Scotts Valley Middle School. He also changed from doing intermediate gymnastics every week to doing it only monthly.  He began a new martial art called YAMA.

My aunt and uncle visited from Vermont.  We explored and visited the Winchester Mystery House.

Cameron turned twelve and had a birthday at the park again. It was just what he wanted.

My mom and I visited Safari West for our birthday and enjoyed all the exotic animals!

We spend the Thanksgiving holiday at my parents' house for the annual Chanukah / Thanksgiving / Family Photo tradition.  Lots of smiles :)

The fall is hear and we're all doing well.  We've enjoyed many fires in our wood stove and are looking forward to a cozy season!

May your holiday season be filled with warmth and cheer!

Rachel, Andrew, and Cameron

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sharing Cheer - My birthday!

It was so much fun, I'll share here to keep the smiles close :)


Hello everyone,

I think a few Facebook posts and a couple good things cover this week which has been full of smiles :)

Status report... so far I've had lots of snuggles, opened presents in bed, devoured one of my husband's gourmet omelettes, picked out this years pumpkins, walked along the pacific, enjoyed my favorite Mediterranean take-out, received lots of video and email well-wishes, and redone my little zen sand garden. I'd say this birthday is going super-spectacular-ly!!!!

Rachel Miner I also woke up with this playing in my head "It's my birthday and I'll smile if I want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to..." Feeling so much happy today 
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 Happy birthday to sharers! Happy un-birthday to everyone else! Happy, happy day!!!

Rachel Miner Animals from my special outing with Mom. Kelp harvested by Cameron when he went scuba diving. Sea urchins found by Andrew at Sea Ranch. Santa Cruz sand dollar from my beach strolls. Redwood cone from our house... thousands of them around. Stone from my behind the scenes tour with the Cordairs. Lots of happy here!

Rachel Miner Grand finale included another family walk, one of the best formal dinners my kiddo has every accomplished (manners-wise), finding a new favorite Zinfandel, snuggling on the couch and reading Harry Potter where the reader and the smugglers alternated, and in just a few minutes a tucking into bed by my wonderful husband. Definitely a day of full, blissful joy 
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Also this week:

Lots of thoughtful interactions with teachers regarding Cameron's latest challenges… such big feelings in a kiddo trying so hard and yet so wanting there to never be any problems

I need to learn the A flat keys on the clarinet… I've been playing with my flute book and enjoying myself!

Andrew tried out the Cupertino Symphonic Band and decided it’s a match! He’s getting super snazzy and super skilled for only six moths into the instrument!

and… two extra gorgeous ocean visits later in the week too (bonus goodness because the monarch butterflies are returning and flitting all around the coast)!

Here’s to celebrating happy and beautiful things,


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cameron's Help Naming Trees

Something I forgot to mention over the summer was that Cameron started coming with me on my walks to the white fence and back again and became my fellow tree namer!  Thus, I have more introductions to make!

This one took us awhile, but we finally decided that the red looked like craggy lava and the top of a toad's head, so first I present Lava Toad.

This was another tough one.  We finally named it Sir Percy from the Scarlet Pimpernel because it has  grace and elegance and a beautifully textured trunk.  It also seems like it's doing a foppish bow, but three trees have broken across it (so it's actually much stronger than it looks)!

Next we have one of Cameorn's favorites... the Pepper Pecker tree.  He didn't know what "pecker" could be slang for, but after his giggles we still agreed that it was pepper colored and had lots of wood pecker holes so the fun alliteration stuck :)

Split Fire got it's name because it splits as it arches over the road and has a red top. We also liked that it sounds like "spit fire".

Sky Diver seems to be jumping straight out horizontally and spreading arms in the air!

Spartan Spears vs. Spartan Spikes
First, we thought there were nine and they're in a ring, so Andrew helped me name it The Fellowship of the Ring.  But, then we found there were ten.  Cameron and I recalled that the Spartans sometimes set up a rule of ten in cities and then we had a long debate about the shape of Redwoods being more like spears or spikes... I think he likes spikes best, but be ready for an earful if you ask!

I think we had the longest discussion over this tree because I thought it was most like the character of Murtagh in the Eragon series who changes from a bad guy and, at the end of the story, has made himself a better person and is just starting on a virtuous path haltingly. The tree itself looks dead, but a lovely vine twines around it and seems like a lovely new life starting.  Cameron thinks it's most like Frodo because Frodo goes off to the undying lands after the the trials of ring (a place with is beautiful like the vine and the trials were withering... the tree).  So, we started bargaining... "Murphy" like a combo of the sounds of Murtagh and Frodo.  Cameron came back with "Frotag" since he found Frodo more applicable.  We were both pretty set in our ways and thus we present this tree as "Murphy Frotag" with some good-natured grumbling on each side.

Emerald dancer was actually easy to name because there's vibrant green moss and it seems like people leaning away, limbs posed in an elegant dance.

This one is unofficially named "Animal Menagerie" because we see many different animals in it.  The easiest one to see is the sperm whale, the knoll is the eye.

Cameron hasn't agreed yet, but I think of this one as Gandalf because it's a bit apart and different and old and gray.

Elephant  Warrior or Elephant Hero
Cameron sees the trunk of the tree as the body of the elephant.
It's standing on it's back legs and it's front two legs are thrust out.
The next branch going to the right is it's trunk and there's a knoll by the trunk that looks like an eye.
There's also the red tree branches intertwined which he sees as a red serpent being fought by the elephant.

Finally, Galadriel's retreat is named because it's such a grand old tree and it has a twirl in the top where she could sit and enjoy more of a elven cottage feel when leaving the huge mallorn trees for some quiet escape.  It's quite stately and grand, but in a much more cozy way.

She could sit right in that little, circular crook in the top, middle, left... and have a lovely view.

Voila, Cameron and I have been busy traveling our road and imagining together :)

UPDATE (A few more additions, but he's now focused on middle school so we'll have a break.)

He said he named this one Aragorn because it's close to the others, but a little apart and is majestic and tall and healthy. It's also a different kind of tree as Aragorn is a different kind of human.

We named the thin, white, straight tree on the right "Ranofer" and the dark one coming and attacking it from the left "Gebu" after the characters from The Golden Goblet.  Ranofer grows straight and prevails despite his horrible situation, but ends the book slight and just at the beginning of his dream.  Gebu is stronger and bigger, but bent and falling at the end. We spent the walk looking for a good Ranofer tree and found the Gebu one a bonus!

Finally, I named this one Atticus because it's tall and strong and guards the entrance to our house.  It has a scrawny side tree which can be the Atticus from "Go Set a Watchman".  The Atticus I know and love is still soaring and strong and standing tall!

These are two trees we don't have names for yet, but will figure out.  One is part of the Ivy Ladies, but has a split bottom that needs a story.  The other has such interesting textures and leans away from the road in an intriguing way.  That's it for now :)

One update, the one above is now called Adult Ranofer.  The idea is that Ranofer's life was going sideways at the beginning of the novel, but he stayed honest and good and, as an adult, would be straightening out and strong.  It's a beautiful tree as is the life we imagine Ranofer would build.