Posts Tagged With: Mom

Shanti’s final baby shower!

Once I got back to Florida for the long stay, my mom threw me an intimate baby shower that had all of my favorite childhood food, a “mom-mosa bar” and a group of amazing women.

Planning it and setting up with her was just as memorable as the actual day of celebration. I’ll hold back the details of our hilarious moments considering none would be as funny as they were in the moment, but here’s the final set up before the guests arrived!

Games, gifts, hugs and love… everything was perfect and all one could wish for!

Thank you to all of the women who took time to come and celebrate this new beautiful life about to meet the world. A special thanks to my mom… all of your thought, effort and attention to detail made this event exactly what it was!

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Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Music for the soul & friends for the spirit

You all should be familiar of the tunes I’ve been sharing (you’re welcome) all over this blog for years now. The band Heritage has made its way on several posts and some of my most memorable ones are Grass bottom dance floor4th of July, Santa Rosa beach style, and the unforgettable opportunity going on tour with them shown in A man becomes what he thinks about! This round, I was lucky enough to score two evenings during my visit to Florida. Check out the scene at Fudpuckers in Destin, Florida!

The second show was at a new outdoor venue on 30A!  The Hub offers a stage, several dining options, indoor/outdoor bars and a welcoming seating area for groups to gather.

Hello friends!

Nightfall just enhanced the mood with well placed lights and a perfect moon to end the evening. 


Not all live music has to come from a big stage to brighten the day. Let’s move on to a Sunday afternoon with some of the vibrant people shown above. Enlightened Studios is. Home based production company that provides an environment to “promote positivity through music production, performance, and education”. With bright colors, happy decor and a variety of instruments, this house shouts as a wonderful gathering place!

With a surrounding like this, how does one refrain from making music? They don’t.

Wander outside and you’ll find the garage turned lounge, ping pong court and art gallery. The fun just doesn’t end! 

Hugs, love and all the good vibes to go with! Thank you Cole for your irreplaceable smiling eyes and always open door. You make a difference in the lives around you!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Last bundle of Barbados… for now.

Confession time. I’ve been so consumed with an abundance of events, exciting adventures and new friends that any spare time I’ve had, was taken by eating, pretending to sleep or getting ready for the next excursion. I’ve also learned that a blog can wait when the elderly man next to you on the plane decides to tell you a story or you get a spontanious invite during your prime writing time. With that said, here’s what I’m going to do for my own sanity and the benefit of future posts. Since so much has been happening, I’m simply going to compact the rest of Barbados into this one last post so I can catch you up to my current playground… country to be announced soon!

Here’s the rest from my island home away from home!

As you already know, my mom made a quick trip out to stay with me that allowed for us to share some of my favorite spots! A jaunt to Holders Market provided us with fruits, veggies, coconut chips and plenty of hugs from our earth loving friends!  

    
   
World, meet my dear Kenneth. His undeniable passion for this planet and the creations that abide here shouldn’t go unnoticed. His consistent smile and energy towards a healthy mind, body and spirit reaches beyond his wellness products. If you desire any of his goods or you’re on the island and what a one on one tour, please feel free to email him lutakenkwam60@gmail.com

Lovely Azizah fills our world using her creative new concepts for handbags and jewelry. I was actually sent on this day to pick up a purse for an international friend! If you’re interested in her designs please email her at aonifa@gmail.com or call (246) 267-1100.    

This happy fella created his product by hosting small dinner parties for friends and family, then expanded his ideas beyond the kitchen. He now serves up cocktails with local fruit, hand picked herbs and creativity. He’s still developing the business, so contact info is coming soon. 

On the way out of the market we stopped by for a familiar greeting from this Barbados born and raised author. Edison not only rememebred my name after our first meeting, but continued our conversations every week. Click here if you desire a deeper look into purchasing this entertaining book of short stories from the Caribbean!  

 Next up is a day at the pool where we first put our toes in the water during our first vacation here. If you can recall the post Not just a dolphin tour Barbados is the location I surprised her with for her 50th birthday in which we celebrated just months after her final chemotherapy treatment. The first collage is us at the same spot back in 2011.

  

We returned to Accra beach for a walk down memory lane and a day of relaxing. I blogged away while mom took a swim with my new friend from afar Fanie (you’ll meet him later). Happy thoughts and sunny smiles!

I’m sure you were wondering “will she get to see Cafe Moya?” Of course! Making her third appearance is the kind spirited Marguerite and her creations at one of my favorite eateries.  

An evening out started with a surprise reunion with the group that first invited us to return to this magnificent place! Back in 2011, the segway polo team traveled to my hometown of Folsom for the Woz Cup of Segway polo (a team sport similar to horse polo, except instead of playing on horseback, each player rides a Segway on the field). See Just the beginning of Barbados for more details.

Here’s a collage of our first meeting back in California.  

On this night we got the privilege of attending their gathering as they celebrated the trophy of this years Woz Cup. They are the 2015 World Champions!    
After a round of hugs and a few speeches, mom and I headed out with a few of the boys for an entertaining evening on a popular strip known as 2nd st. Thank you Ryan for bringing the sombrero… a brilliant accessory to a night out on the town!      

I’d like to close this post by showing a few random shots that were taken during the past weeks. No rhyme or reason, just more to admire from my favorite island.  
  

          

   
    

To my incredible friend that I get to call Mom. With full gratitude, I thank you for sharing your time, laughter and love with me. You are my biggest fan and I want you to know that I still feel your unconditional support even when we’re thousands of miles apart. I love you!
  
 
  

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We aren’t guaranteed “someday”.

So there I was skyping with my mom, making the usual wishful comments of what we would do if she was here in Barbados with me. “I would show you this place… have you try that food… take you there…” and so on. Although she’s traveled here before, it’s been years and since her last trip and I have explored the island a bit beyond her experience. Soon after several skyping sessions, I could feel her leaning farther into the reality of actually returning to this magical place someday. As most people will confirm (especially after surving a traumatic life experience) that we aren’t guaranteed someday so yes friends, you guessed it… she made it!  

 I’ll just jump right into the surprise I had been keeping from her since the moment I found out she was coming.  “Ok, I love you and just trust me (what every mom dreads hearing, right?) put your suit on, pack for the pool and hop in!”
Here’s a photo of us on the way to her (soon to find out) day of spoiling!

 
Welcome to Cool Runnings!

There are a few catamaran cruises here in Barbados, but only one (in my opinion) has the right to boast of their phenominal customer care. In years past, I’ve been able to experience Cool Runnings Barbados and since then shared the adventure with others. You can read those specific posts from my 2012 trip or last years Teaching a frog how to dive. 
Cool Runnings has now launched their new luxury cruise which is on a more intimate scale due to a smaller group and a range of high quality products. For me, there was a feeling of familiarity as the crew greeted us with a sincere smile and welcoming warmth (it wasn’t just the Barbados weather). “May I get you a beverage as you settle in?” Who wouldn’t want to hear that at the beginning of what is set to be a day of sailing, snorkeling, dining and optional dancing?

Before we left the dock, I took a quick loop to give you a photo tour of this stunning catamaran. 

  

    
    
   
Within moments of stepping on board you’re offered a beverage ranging from coffee and tea to juice and soda as well as a large selection of adult beverages. A serving (or 3) of homemade banana bread is passed around and then it’s time to depart! 

 
The crew for our day consisted of three outstanding men who seem to have mastered the ability of balancing a fun social energy with the upmost sense of professionalism. We were even lucky enough to have Robert aboard. He’s the king (more properly “the captain”) of this floating castle and made sure we all were having a brilliant time.   

 
The other two gentlemen were equally as accommodating making sure there wasn’t an empty glass in hand and that all needs were met. They were so on point with the passengers, you would of never guessed that Douglas and Kevin were also in control of the entire boat! 

 
Their capabilities went even further than that. Try stearing the boat while gripping a girl who’s randomly upside down next to you. Well done Douglas, thanks for being a trooper!  

 
While the gentlemen were hard at work, the guests were hard at… well, relaxing. Our only responsibility was to have a good time and judging from observation, we succeeded!    

     
      

   
     

The two stops we made allowed for some swimming with the turtles, an exploration of sea life and a piece of sunken wreckage. They give you the option of snorkleing gear and flotation devices depending on your preference. Ever witness a group of adults giddy like children? It’s silly to take yourself seriously with flippers on!
    
    

After the water play (that was so graciously guided by Kevin) everyone swam back to our home for the day. Before you had a moment to even consider hunger, they were offering appetizers. House made bruschetta and/or curried chicken on a crisp won ton. Another beverage? Of course. 

  
  The lunch menu served up mouth watering options for everyone. The plates were stacked and ready for all who desired the assortment of lamb, king fish, shrimp skewers, scalloped potatoes, roasted vegetables, fresh salad and sauces to top. I’m confident that everyone went back for seconds and if they didn’t, they stole a bite from their partner that did get another round.

  

After lunch, our empty plates magically disappeared into the world of “I don’t have to do dishes today” and we were encouraged to enjoy the catamaran as we headed back to the starting point. 
     

 

Robert, Annika, Douglas and Kevin…  you really have something special here and I’m so grateful to of been a part of this day. I was treated like royalty, met new friends (that I’m still in touch with) and got to watch my mum absorb the experience to the fullest. This is one happy girl, thank you!
  

For more information or to book your day of luxury, please visit www.coolrunningsbarbados.com or call them directly at 246-436-0911. I invite you to tell them that Erika sent you from herhappytrails!

  

Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beaches, boats and ballads.

I finally arrived in Florida to visit my marvelous mom and naturally, we had our toes in the sand within moments of my arrival.

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Surprise for me! On this night we got to go to a show of my ultimate favorite local band, Heritage! You may remember these quality fellas from the post, “A man becomes what he thinks about”. With music that feeds the soul and energy that boosts the mood, you really can’t go wrong by surrounding yourself with their unique vibe!

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This is my favorite photo of the evening simply because of the bright smiling blonde enjoying the music. Priceless!

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Who’s this? No seriously, you can barely see us… but standing next to me is a fine gentleman by the name of Tyler. Within moments of our first eye contact, the conversation was flowing as if we’d known each other for years.

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2 days later

Did I mention that this new pal wake boards? With my quick acceptance to his casual offer, I found myself on a boat with non other than fun loving Tyler and a handful of his closest buddies. Yep, it happened.

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The drive inland takes us lakeside to a perfectly placed country house that just so happens to be the home of Andrew. I didn’t ask permission to expose his full name or his professional past… Let’s just say some may consider him to be “kind of a big deal”. (To be said sarcastically but half way serious).

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Time to suit up, stretch out, get wet and throw some tricks! I’m speaking in regards to their abilities of course. Mine would go more like, “Suit up, cross your fingers, get cold and score some bruises!”. Either way, good times all around.

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I forgot to have someone snap a picture of me doing super-skills (ha.ha.ha), but I did snag a few sweet ones of the boys!

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Check out the clouds in these next photos. Definitely a typical Florida sky showing signs of potential rain with a side of rolling thunder!

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That’s our cue to head in and tie up. My curiosity peaked when I couldn’t see a dock, but was quickly tamed when they informed me of the plan. His backyard had flooded a bit which made for a smooth transition from boat to water… to slimy mud… to grass… and finally to his deck. Ignoring the idea of water moccasins tangling between by ankles or swamp alligators sniffing out my new lotion, I jumped off like the rest of them and made the trek towards his house.

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With the barbecue fired up, we made time for quality conversation and an assault attack of some yellow flies (please google them if you’ve never heard of these aggressive insects). Not pictured below was the entire group running, swatting, slapping and yelling threatening phrases at these vicious little creatures!

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The sunset brought a calm ending to an energetic day and the perfect opportunity for a handstand.

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Much gratitude for the open invitation and hospitality shown by this group. I look forward to the next adventure… Soon to come!

ADDITION:
A week later, I got to head out again except this time there was twice as many riders and some of the best in the world (seriously). These famous athletes were shooting film to promote next seasons gear. From England to Australia and a few Cali kids, this boat towed some extreme talent and I was lucky enough to observe!

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Without much explaining, here are some photos I captured throughout the day. I’m sure they’re not as incredible as the ones snapped by the professional (that’s using a waterproof-inspector gadget camera getup), but hey…

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Positive people, amazing wake boarders and another event in which I was honored to be a happy little fly on the wall.

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Creative color of the day…

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Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not just a Dolphin Tour

I like to focus on the present with a positive look forward, however just for a moment I’m going to step out the “travel blog” and tip toe through a bit of my past personal life. I feel this is necessary for you to grasp the emotional energy that surfaced during this part of my journey.

Please take note that some of the pictures and comments might “hit home” or “strike a cord” with some of you depending on your own experiences. I mean no harm… Just sharing what I view as a beautiful story.

Pamela is her name. The woman that carried me, delivered me, and raised me.
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I claim my mother to be one of my biggest fans. Most parents tell their children that “You can achieve anything you put your mind to”.
When my mom says this to me, she’s teary eyed and expresses it more like “I’m so amazed by you. You’re something special on earth and I love watching you accomplish your dreams. You’re going to impact so many people and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Yeh, I know… What do you say back to that? I feel like “Thank you” is an understatement for the unconditional love that she has supported me with all of these years (even the moments in which she claims aliens took her sweet girl and replaced her with a teenager).

Her story went like this:
Mom in the middle of 2008: “I have an abnormal mark on my breast”.
1st nurse practitioner gives Mammogram and exam: “Looks like you’re fine.”

6 months later

Mom: “I know my body. I don’t know what’s wrong, but something isn’t right.”
Nurse practitioner orders an ultra sound: “The ultra sound shows nothing to be concerned about”. During the test, the nurse tech mentioned that mom had dense breasts and that can make it difficult to read.
Mom: “Try again, look in a different spot”.

3 months later

Mom went back and asked for a different doctor. They sent her to a female surgeon.

New Doctor: “I haven’t seen your films, but nothing is jumping out at me. Breasts can change over time and this is normal.”

2 months and and many phone calls from my mother to the doctors…

Doctor: “For all patients who think they have cancer, following everything you’ve had done, the next step is a fine needle biopsy”.

First two came back negative so they followed up with a third fine needle biopsy.

It’s now September of 2009

Me: “Mom, I trust you, but they did tests and said you’re clear. No more stress ok?”
Mom: “Not ok.”

Doctor calls to set up a PEM Scan (Positron Emission Mammography).

Test results showed cancer and encourages them to give her a PET scan and a Needle Biospy MRI.

After 2 mamagrams, 2 Ultra Sounds, 3 fine needle biopsies, a PEM scan, PET scan and an extreme amount of persistence…

Stage III Breast cancer.

Nov 23, 2009- Bi-lateral Masectomy with 22 Lymphnodes removed.
January 2010- 6 months of chemotherapy (she refused 6 weeks straight of Radiation treatment).

Obviously all that was described above included many long nights, dreadful hospital visits, tears, exhaustion, teamwork, support from friends, patience, courage and an uncountable amount of hugs.

The morning she woke up with a rainbow of hair on her pillow, she called me that day. “It’s time to take it off”. With a hesitant but courageous stride she walks into my shop and sits while I prepare the clippers. Leave it to us to have a little fun with it.

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The beauty underneath it all…
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Personally, I think she dominates the bandana look.
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Then we head in for her first treatment. Previously they inserted a device underneath her skin so that they would have a direct line site rather than peircing her arm or hand each time. This was the first time it was put to use and not the last time I held her hand through it… Literally, I didn’t miss a session.
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All hooked up.
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Moms sassy side kept my faith up…
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..and her attitude kept the treatment center smiling.  Really take a look at the nurses, that’s not fake.  They loved her!
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They kept the room super cold but always had a heated blanket for us.
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During her treatment she would often say “When (not if) I make it through this, I want to be on an island.  Just give me sun and warm sand next to pretty water.”
She had no idea, but during this entire process I was planning to make it happen. So after her first “clean” test (and first haircut) we jet set to the gorgeous island of Barbados. What a vibrant place to celebrate her 50th birthday of life!
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She’s happiest near water so I set up a submarine tour.
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Goofing off on the boat.
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Before and especially since her cancer she has developed a “bucket list”. A list which includes the day that made my trip to Panama City Beach such a memorable one.
BLUE DOLPHIN TOURS is owned and operated by extremely kind people. Ted and Karen have a warm-hearted nature that is present in all conversation and a welcoming spirit that invites you in. If you are ever in this area, I can only suggest to the best of my ability to check this out. It’s an unforgettable experience!

www.bluedolphintour.com .

I could write chapters about this excursion, but I’ll keep it to the point with some fun pictures.
On this day I got to watch my mom go from a  51 year old “survivor” to a “full of life” 12 year old!
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This was our guide, Russell. He was another great addition to the day, in fact, he made the “tour” feel like a day on a boat with friends. His knowledge of the water and everything in it was impressive and comforting. Thank you Russell!
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We got to make him blush.
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Off we go!
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Snorkeling along the way! Russell jumped right in and starting searching for cool stuff!
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I chose to stay in the boat to capture these moments and had no idea of the emotions that would play in my heart. To see her truly happy from within, absolutely made my heart smile.  At one point I had teared up with inexpressible joy. My mom was finally in the water with these amazing creatures, doing what she had always spoke about.
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Survey says?
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Winner!

Dear mom,
If I got to pick again… I’d still choose you.

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