Monday, September 6, 2010


Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. John 17:11

Early in my husbands diagnosis of terminal Brain Cancer, GBM, I learned to open gifts each day. Gifts bestowed upon me, treasures that needed to be opened and shared. It was easy to see the devastation that Cancer is, but much more difficult to see the Gift that Cancer can be. A beautiful christian woman explained that if you open a new gift every day, you will open your eyes to the blessings right before them. Blessings that you might easily miss if you succumb to wallowing in self pity.

I would like to share with you one of the greatest gifts my husband gave me, besides my children. He gave me his family. A mother and father who love me as their own. A sister who is one of my dearest friends. A family who love a care for me and my children and continue to share their lives with us and wrap their arms around us every day.

They live 8 hours away but we talk all the time. I recently visited them and stayed with Mom and Dad. I would like to share the gifts we shared together this journey to visit MY family.

I arrived early, so after picking me up from the airport, Mom and Dad took me to lunch. A beautiful restaurant, overlooking water. We sat on the patio, the weather was perfect. We drank Bloody Marys, ate simple but elegant California cuisine and planned our afternoon. Next stop...the winery's in Temecula. There are, to my amazement, about 50 wineries in Temecula. Of course, we couldn't go to all of them, but we did give it the ol' college try. Dad was our designated driver, so Mom chose a few of her favorite, and we were off and running. Shannon, my niece, met up with us at Wilson Creek. What fun. If you have never experienced wine tasting.......GO!

I had my favorites at each winery. I think at Wilson Creek, I loved the port. The tasting was incredible. They served their award winning Port in a chocolate cup. You drank 1/2 the cup then they filled the cup with champagne mixed with the Port. Now that is an experience.

The next morning we went to Balboa Park. We ate at Prado. Some of the best calamari I have ever had, anywhere, hands down. Mom had their Kobe Burger. They also have a signature cocktail. Salads, divine and their desserts are world class, of course, I had to have cappuccino.

We ate on the patio overlooking a wedding in the garden. After, we walked to the botanical gardens and around the Coi ponds. Balboa Park is huge. I definitely will go back. There is a Tea Garden and Art Museum. So much to see. I have been to Southern California so many times and each time my eyes are opened to more beauty. Below are some photos I captured.

I have never seen a pitcher plant before. (the middle photo). I was captivated by the way these little pitchers formed on this plant. Some of the most unique and beautiful flowers grow here.

After enjoying a peaceful afternoon with Mom and Dad on their patio, we went to the Gambling Cowboy restaurant in Old Town Temecula. It is owned and operated by a local family. It is both casual and elegant. Decorated with the family's history and the atmosphere is fun and inviting. Locally grown and sustainable food. You can either dine in the elegant dining room or on the balcony overlooking the town. Either way, you are in for a real treat.

I finished my trip by sleeping in, waking to fresh coffee, Bloody Marys and breakfast, cooked by Dad (and Mom). Shannon, Chad, Gwen and Michael all came to say good bye and then it was time to head to the airport. What an amazing weekend. What loving family I have been blessed with by my sweet husband. A "Gift" I shall treasure and hold near to my heart forever.

With all this world has to offer it is the simple gifts bestowed upon us that are the greatest. I am blessed. I encourage you to open your gifts each day. It's easy. It's fun and it keeps you happy and mentally healthy. I will continue to share my gifts with you as I open them. Won't you join me?

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