I’m back!!!

Hi there! I just wanted to let those of you know who are interested that I have begun my new blog. It is called Living and Dreaming in the Southbay. I will not be making future posts on this blog.

I have been away from blogging for two months now and I have to tell you that on the first few weeks I felt like I was on vacation! I think that I did not use the computer at home for at least a week after my last post. Fast forward to present day and I am super busy, like always, and wonder where did I ever find the time to write so much? As a mom I must say I just made it happen.

Anyways, I hope that 2013 ended on a good note for everyone and that the new year has begun with a bang. My new blog is similar to this one, but I think I will be writing more and this time around using fewer pictures. Feel free to check it out and continue following me if you desire.

Take care,
Tieshka

ps- I have finally started working on my ‘chapter book’ and all I can say that it has a long way to go, but we have the ideas flowing and the writing has begun.

pps- Happy Valentine’s Day!!

À bientôt, a più tardi, see you soon

The day is finally here- a break after 365 days of blogging. I started blogging by chance and continued on by choice. A little after 100 days of posting I received my first award and that encouraged me to continue on. I never picked a name for my blog- it picked me- Jardin Luxembourg – taken from my email. It was so fitting though since I have a big passion for Paris. I somehow managed to write through vacations and moving and my computer dying…. I wrote through days of being invaded by ants and having to pack up our place to be fumigated. Early mornings, late nights, a girls’ weekend, concerts, date nights-nothing stopped me from continuing on. It is nice to achieve a goal. I hope it can inspire me to do more things that I would like to accomplish.

At first I did not know if anyone would look at my random blog about my life, my travels, and my family. The first days I was in shock to have anyone “like” what I wrote and even more shocked to have someone “comment” on my posts. I am actually really proud that I have had at least one like on every post! I told some friends what I was doing and it has been fun seeing them email, text, and sometimes comment directly on my blog. I have met some great people from the WordPress family too.. thanks to you all for taking the time to check out my little blog on this big forum.

So now I am taking a break for the holidays from posting. I have to admit I am addicted to blogging at this point – but I will never post daily for an extended period of time again. It was a really big commitment. I think my family needs the break as much as I do! I started this blog with my kids in mind – I wanted them to know a bit about me, what I did when I was younger, how I have always enjoyed traveling, and what I do with them now on a daily basis. I cannot wait to share this blog with them one day. I hope that you have all learned a bit about me as well and I look forward to returning to blogging sooner than later. I will post here one more time with a link to my new blog when I figure it all out.

picture with santa

In closing here is a fun photo I had taken of the kids this past weekend, at our church nonetheless! I love living in Southern California, near the beach with my family. There is a lot of sun, tons of beaches, the beautiful ocean, always something to do, and it is only cold for a short part of the year (please winter go away ). For now I must say à bientôt, a più tardi, see you soon!

(day 365)

A Few Photos from My Travels

I love to travel. It is a big passion of mine. Whenever I can go anywhere out of town I become excited. I prefer to leave the state of California, but with the kids being so young it is hard to hop on a plane to Europe, especially when you need $6,000 just to begin your journey in the summertime. With that being said California has a lot to offer too! I still have not seen all of the central and eastern parts of the state. One day I hope to travel more outside of the state- but for now I plan on going to visit that last “local” California mission (San Gabriel) before the year ends.

Below are a few photos from my two favorite cities - Paris and San Francisco and a country that I have grown to love and appreciate even more since meeting and marrying Max- Italy. I am proud to say that that I have been to 38 states and 19 countries at the age of 41. I hope that by the age of 61 that I can raise these numbers including visiting another continent or two with Max and the kids who also love to travel!

Monet

Notre Dame

Tour Montparnasse

Paris

Chinatown

North Beach

Golden Gate Bridge

Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco

the beach

Tribunale Ordinario di Firenze

Lucchetti dell’amore

Ponte Vecchio

Italy

(day 364)

Photographs of the Past and Present (Paris)

Preface: This is a short story that I wrote many years ago while I was living in Europe. My time living abroad was incredible with many adventures… but they all started with time spent in Paris with a close girlfriend of mine. Enjoy…


I felt a drop in my stomach as the plane fought with the wind. The turbulence had everyone grabbing onto their seats and loved ones. VROOM… another smooth landing; I was only in doubt temporarily. Landing in Philadelphia I was only one flight away from Paris. Now all I had to do was find Lisa who had flown to Philadelphia from Los Angeles. Lisa is a good friend who had vacation time and loved to travel. I had left Los Angeles a month before heading to my parents’ house to pack and relax before the voyage to France where I would be an “au pair” (mother’s helper).

Frantically searching the arrivals screen I saw that Lisa’s flight was about to land. Gliding past others on the horizontal escalator I made my way to her gate. I began jumping up and down when I saw her. After a quick hug we decided to pass the layover time in a restaurant. Sitting at the bar we began drinking beer and eating hot dogs going over our carefully planned itinerary. We had spent hours on the phone and computer checking various train schedules to use with our Europass; we thought we knew it all. I rambled on about how excited I was to return to Paris after being away for a year. I was so excited to show her my favorite European city.

Taking off an hour later we toasted once again with free booze and spent time in our guidebooks, people watching and talking. The realization that we were in Paris finally hit us as our plane landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Clearing customs we headed to the RER, the suburban high-speed rapid transit (subway), that runs through Paris. This was the beginning of my struggle with my bags. Attempting to reach our hotel in the cheapest manner possible we opted not to take a taxi or shuttle bus; subways were the only way to go. Besides I was experienced taking this route – why not do it again?

Looking around us I saw that I was the only one struggling with too much stuff. Attached to my body were two suitcases, a backpack, and a shoulder bag. Almost tumbling down the escalator a stranger offered to help me. I said no about three times before he took my two suitcases, not taking “no” for an answer. Talking on the way to the city we discovered our new friend’s name was Gilbert and that he lived in the outskirts of Paris. Going out of his way he escorted us to our stop and helped me up the escalator to the bustling Boulevard Port Royal above.

The walk to the hotel was hell on earth. Having been in this very spot, just a year ago I knew the way with my eyes closed, but one thing was different on this trip versus the previous one. On the last trip I did not have half of my life neatly packed into four bags. Imagine this scene, dripping with sweat, attempting to lug bags from almost every limb, limping down the street. That was me! To complicate matters I discovered moments after departing the subway that the wheel of my suitcase had broken; we were not even half way to the hotel! A dark black streak from the wheel was left on the sidewalk to mark our path.

As we walked down the street a woman stopped me and pointed at the sidewalk. Knowing what she was going to say I shook my head in agreement that there were indeed markings on the sidewalk from my suitcase, but there was nothing I could do to fix it short of stopping and walking to the hotel by lifting the suitcase for half a mile. I apologized and we continued on. You can not imagine how happy I was the day I threw that suitcase out for a shiny red Parisian one!! Eventually we arrived to our street and hotel. Shelter is just what we needed after our long journey to Paris from the States.

Opening the door to the hotel we were greeted by the scent of fresh baked bread. The hotel’s restaurant was calling us to sit down and eat, but there was no time for that now! We had plans to meet our new friend Gilbert that evening. Storming up five flights of stairs our pace slowed down. By flight three I wanted to be carried the rest of the way. I settled for moving everything to the room in two trips.

After a short break we headed out again and hopped on the metro towards the Champs de Mars. As the Eiffel Tower came into view my eyes welled up with tears. I was very happy to see my beacon of hope. A smile crossed my face as I took a moment to let it sink in that I was really here. I glanced at Lisa and she smiled. Crossing from the Trocadéro walking down a set of stairs and past the fountains we made our way to the base of the Eiffel Tower. I watched people buying ice cream and crepes while others followed tourists attempting to sell them everything from gold plated Eiffel Tower key chains to purses. Lisa spotted Gilbert as he walked towards us with a bag. Inside was a bottle of wine that he brought for us to enjoy at the top of the monument.

Following his lead we went towards the West Pillar, which had the shortest line. Making our way up the first set of elevators we took in a great view of the city below. While they talked I zoned out and daydreamed about my future. Next we made our way to a second elevator that took us to the top. Exiting the elevator Paris was at our feet. The city lights glistened and I could feel the magic. We toasted to friendship as the wind ripped around us. Walking around we skipped and laughed like school children enjoying the moment. After arriving to the bottom we walked to the nearby metro. We said our goodbyes and made plans to see each other the next morning.

Glancing around the metro’s entrance we saw no one. The ticket window was closed. We did not have return tickets and the automatic ticket machine was broken. Taking the first of many chances during our European adventure we crawled under the turn-style and hoped the video cameras were not on us. Thirty minutes later we arrived safely to our station. We stopped for snacks and beer and continued the short walk back to our hotel. After the long voyage sleep was first the first thing on our agenda now.

I woke up to car horns on the busy street below. Looking around I remembered that I was no longer home. I was in Paris. I began thinking of what a busy day we had planned. Gilbert and I wanted to give Lisa a taste of the city and had planned on showing her some of our favorite highlights around town: including the Champs-Elysees and the ever so famous Arc de Triomphe. I have always enjoyed visiting this landmark, and this visit was going to be extra special.

Back during World War II (sometime between 1943-1945) Lisa’s grandfather had spent time in Paris. Spending holidays with her family I had loved sitting at her grandparents’ kitchen table hearing him tell stories about riding a bike with a baguette in tow around the French streets of a small village not speaking a word of French, yet having everyone smile and give a friendly wave to him. At Gabriel and Mary Ellen’s house there was a black and white photograph in the hallway with him and two friends in front of the Arc de Triomphe after the war. Every time I had viewed that picture I was mesmerized thinking about what Paris must have been like back then.

Lisa was determined to take a photo with two people in front of that very monument one day. When she had first mentioned it to me I saw no difficulty in doing just that, even though we needed to seek out a third individual to join us. Having met Gilbert the day before we knew he would be glad to join us for this ever so important photo.

To say the least the highlight of the afternoon was taking that photo in the same spot that her grandfather had stood in so many decades before. Lisa had realized a dream and would have that picture to share with her grandparents. That day I enjoyed showing her many of the famous landmarks around Paris – but we had time to stop along the Champs-Elysee too for an ice cream. There is always time to relax and people watch. We spent the rest of the afternoon unwinding in the Jardin du Luxembourg and exploring the neighborhood stores before having a home cooked meal at another friend’s apartment.

The next day we awoke knowing it was time to pack up and continue on. Our time in Paris was short, but nice. We would return a month later and see more of the city so we were not sad to go. I would also continue to stay in Paris after Lisa’s departure until I had a work assignment as an “au pair” somewhere in Europe. In less than two days we had accomplished so much. We met a new friend, visited with an old one, and saw a few of Paris’ famous landmarks. I learned that the Eiffel Tower still brought tears to my eyes, and that the Arc de Triomphe’s history continues to live on in photos linking the past with the present.

(day 363)

Alligators, a Lighthouse, and the Warm Atlantic: Thanksgiving in Miami

P1000320


The following post is by guest blogger Lisa (lisabay), an old friend that I met in college and fellow WordPress blogger. I asked here if she would do another guest post for me since I am finishing this blog in a few days. This is her 3rd posting on Jardin Luxembourg.


True story:  We got the idea to go to Miami for Thanksgiving, because a three year old accidentally texted me…  Let’s back up.  My husband was itching to take a vacation, since he had some temporary help with his job.   He hadn’t taken off more than five days in almost ten years.  He had his eye on Maui.  But Maui wasn’t meant to be, with the astronomical ticket price.  We had talked about going to Miami before.  Alex had been there for work on a few occasions.  But I had never been to Florida.  We had dinner with our neighbors one night who are from North and South Florida.  “You should really see Miami someday.” they said.  Yeah, someday.

Then just when we were about to book a trip to a more local West Coast spot, our neighbor’s son accidentally sent me a video text of himself.  He was playing with his mom’s phone.  He somehow made me think of Miami.  Hey, I thought, Florida is the same distance as Maui, warm, and has a much better ticket price.  And I’ve never been there.  Of course this is what excited me most.  I absolutely love to visit new places.  I believe we are only on this planet once, and you might as well see as much as you can of it.    So we took the plunge and booked the trip.  “Do you have family there?” people would ask.  “None whatsoever.”  It was probably the most random thing our family has ever done.

Now the only thing I knew about Miami before this was from CSI Miami and the movie Scarface. (I wasn’t really allowed to watch Miami Vice as a kid, though I hear it was good.)  I set out to do some research.  Along with scouring the internet, I read novels set in South Florida.  I think if you really want to get a feel for a place, find an author who loves where they live and writes about it.  Even though it might be fiction, you can get a sense of a place.  I read a couple of books by Carl Hiaasen.  He has been writing about South Florida since the 80’s.  Many of his books are funny over-the-top crime novels.  He has a line of children’s books as well.  I also read part of Stiltsville, by Susanna Daniel.  Stiltsville is a real place, which I will get to later.

After all this research, I had big plans.  I wanted to see the Everglades, go to the Florida Keys, see the lighthouse at Cape Florida, eat some good Cuban food, and go on an Art Deco tour in South Beach.  And oh yeah, spend some time on the beach and pool.  (I’m not really a lay-out, sit-by-the-pool kind of person, so eventually, I have to move around.)  With a family of four, which includes a young child, we didn’t do it all, but we did have fun.  Miami is an exciting city.  It’s also very big and spread out, with lots of traffic.  The reality was, once we got to our hotel, we really didn’t take our car out that much.  Dinner was always somewhere local, because there were so many options nearby.  We were fortunate enough to be within walking distance to Lincoln Road, which reminds me of Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, with shops and restaurants, and closed to traffic.  I can tell you where the most highly recommended Cuban spots are, but we didn’t end up going there.  We did eat some Cuban food though.  It is pretty much everywhere.  If you like pickles and mustard, that’s a good thing, because it’s in the sandwiches.  My kids and I also love black beans and tostones, which are twice fried plantain chips, marinated in garlic and lime.

P1000325One day we decided to take an airboat tour of the Everglades.  It was a perfect day, not too hot, without rain.  My Florida friend recommended Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours on the Miccosukee Indian Reservation.  This was a great choice.  It was very informative and exciting.  I knew what to expect, since I saw some You-Tube videos, but my family weren’t expecting to get so close to the alligators like we did.  This place had an interesting story.  Buffalo Tiger was once the chief of the Miccosukee.  Back in the 60’s, the US government wouldn’t recognize his tribe, so he went to Fidel Castro, and somehow got the government’s attention.  He then created casinos to raise money and help his people.  Later he retired and wanted to educate visitors about his land and people, so he started the airboat tours.  They can go out much farther than the other tour companies, because they don’t have to worry about running into national park land.

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photo (2)After our drive out to the Everglades, which was a bit tough with traffic, and the kids in the back seat, I realized I had to sacrifice the trip to the Florida Keys.  Even though, I am fascinated by them, we would be driving all day where I wanted to go.  That would not be pleasant for my husband or kids.  Instead, I suggested University of Miami.  This is only because I wanted to get out and see a different part of the city, but I knew there would be space for the kids to run around, and it would peak my husband’s interest since he is a long time college football fan.  We had a very pleasant time there.  It’s a beautiful and unique campus.  I’ve never seen so much water at a college before.  But there’s tons of water all over Florida.  It rains so much, the ground is squishy.

P1000382On Thanksgiving Day, we went to the lighthouse on Key Biscayne, about 40 minutes from South Beach.  It is in a state park, and very picturesque and peaceful.  The lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Dade County.  Most things around it were destroyed in 1992 with Hurricane Andrew.  After that, they fixed it up for tours, and painted it white.  (Scenes from Miami Vice show the lighthouse with brown bricks.)  From the lighthouse, you can see Stiltsville, a group of seven houses on stilts, about a mile off the coast.  Stiltsville used to be a thriving party/ vacation community.  Back in the 50’s there were casinos and clubs with mob ties.  Ted Kennedy had his bachelor party out there.  As the years went by, hurricanes destroyed most of it.  Now there are only seven structures left, and are part of a preservation trust.  I think you can rent the houses for events, or be invited by a member of the trust.  You can also take boat tours out there to get a closer look.

Stiltsville

Stiltsville

On our last day in Miami, we opted for no car excursions, just beach and pool for the kids.  My husband played tennis in the morning at a local park, then we switched off with the kids, and I walked to the Art Deco walking tour, and learned about some of the old hotels in South Beach.  The next day it was time to go to the airport and take the 6 hour flight home.

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Oh what a trip!  It was definitely something we don’t usually do, and led us somewhere very different from home.  Almost every night, we went out on the beach, ran around in the sand, and touched the water.  We were the only ones out there, by the way.  Those crazy Northern Californians couldn’t get over the warmth of the Atlantic.  Will we go back?  Maybe someday.  I still have to see those Florida Keys.

photo (3)


(day 362) Guest blog by lisabay. Lisa, thank you for your contribution to my blog and I look forward to you writing on my new blog too!


Christmas is coming & almost time to say ‘goodbye’ !

christmas tree

It is time to start the countdown to Christmas –only 19 days away. What have I done in preparation for the holidays?

I have done 40% of my shopping!!!

The tree and decorations are up. – check

The Christmas cards arrived yesterday – check – now I need to address them all and send out this weekend.

The kids and I have plane tickets to go visit my parents in New Orleans. – check

I have some ideas for kid friendly activities to do while in New Orleans – check

I have a babysitter to look after the kids I can go out to the French Quarter with my brothers and sister-in-law to drink - check

What haven’t I done?

Gone ice skating. For me it is not the Christmas season until I take the kids ice skating. Perhaps this year Matteo will start skating by himself.

I still have not found the winter coats and the temperatures are dropping lower and lower each day. I should correct that statement- I have my coat- the kids are missing their coats!!! This weekend I will sort through moving boxes until I find them.. I just heard a forecast of possible freezing rain this weekend.

I have 60% of my shopping to do still. Thank goodness I am a big online shopper.

One thing I would really like to do this holiday is learn how to make homemade eggnog. My dad does this every year and I have no clue how he does it (surprise, surprise). I will sit down and write everything down to practice later at home. I will be sure to add a little rum to mine too since no one else in our house drinks eggnog but me!

It is time to take out all the fun Christmas movies for adults and kids alike. I always enjoy watching these films.

To say the least I am on the right path to have the most important things finished by Christmas. It may be a mad rush to do it all – but I will give it a try.

Anyways I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year now. I will only be writing on this blog for another 4 days until after the Christmas holiday – but don’t worry … I will be back sharing stories and photos of our trip to you all on my new blog.. .. I think that it will be similar to this blog except I will not be writing daily this time around- only crazy people do that!!

(day 361)

Concerts, concerts and more concerts

On the way to work the other day my 4 year old son Matteo asked me which band was playing on the CD that we were listening to. It was an Irish band, The Cranberries. He then asked me if I had ever seen them in concert. I took a moment to reflect and eventually I said yes. Then he asked me who I went to this concert with and I knew that answer immediately, Kathy. I even remember the venue – The Greek Theater at Griffith Park.

From that random question I started to think back on all the concerts I have attended. I made it a point to attend at least 1 concert each year since that first concert until the year I had my daughter Malina – and that was the year that I somehow drove to local bookstore, less than a week after being able to drive (after having a cesarean section (c-section)), to see the Barenaked Ladies sing a few songs promoting a children’s album that they had just released. I left Max at home with Malina and was off!!

There is something about music that makes me extremely happy. Seeing music live makes me even happier! I have gone to concerts alone, driven 2 hours down to San Diego after work to see a show with friends (and then proceeded to drive back to Los Angeles to go to work the next day), I have been to just one concert in Europe (Germany to be exact), and driven all the way to Sacramento for a weekend to catch a concert that was at a hotel, and the stories go on and on as to the crazy things I have done to see a live show.

I am a very organized person…. I keep way too many items that I should throw away. Included in these items are concert tickets! Yes, I have saved almost every concert ticket that I have ever bought. With that being said the last 7 years (since having kids) has thrown me on my bottom and I do not have everything so organized as I once did. I have placed the last 7 years of knick-knacks in boxes that are just waiting to be put in a scrap book. The reason I have mentioned my scrapbooks is that right now I am going to list all the concerts I went to pre-kids just to have an organized record of it all and to see how many concerts I have attended.

I still remember my first concert was Kool and the Gang and I went with two of my cousins. By chance I saw Kool and the Gang open for Van Halen 2 years ago with Max. Talk about full circle. I will guess that I have seen many Barenaked Ladies concerts and the first show that I saw them perform at was at the American Legion in Hollywood- great small venue. The last saw I saw them perform at was the Santa Monica Civic Center in Santa Monica- that was a Christmas show…. For those who do not know the Barenaked Ladies they are a Canadian band that I first heard living in Western New York in a town that was 10 minutes from the Canadian border. Okay I am rambling… can you tell I’m excited???


Here goes nothing….


Kool and the Gang, NYC Fresh Fest III, Midnight Star & Whoodini, Genesis, INXS, Debbie Gibson, Steve Miller Band- (2 concerts), Billie Joel, B- 52’s – (3 concerts), USC Homecoming Concert, EMF, U2 – (4 concerts), Erasure (2 concerts), Ocean Blue- (2 concerts), Depeche Mode- (2 concerts), Lollapalooza 1994, I Mother Earth, Barenaked Ladies – (8 concerts), Natalie Merchant, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Refreshments, Porno For Pyros, David Bowie with Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Whitney Houston, Violent Femmes, Jane’s Addiction, Smash Mouth, The Cranberries, Coachella, Dave Matthew’s Band, and The Who.

Recently I have seen Blink 182 (2 shows) and one day when I organize my boxes of knick-knacks I will recall what else I have been to… How fun it was to put this list together. No surprise to me the Barenaked Ladies are the group I have seen most- 8 shows and in second place is U2, a band that I have been listening to since I was 8 years old thanks to my brothers playing their “War” album before I was even double digits in age. I even wrote an English paper in college about U2‘s album “War” back in the day (I would love to see that now). For the record my total concerts is 49 from this post- that is without most of the last 7 years that I have settled into parenthood. I hope you have enjoyed this musical journey with me today… Feel free to let me know your favorite concert or your favorite bands if you wish!

(day 360)