Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vacation #1 Reno, NV-Tragedy in the Midst

I usually only get one vacation a year (if I'm lucky.) This year however we had 3. Two mini vacations and one big one. Our first vacation was a trip to Reno to see my dad and a family reunion/camping trip at their property up at Frenchman's Lake where I spent every summer growing up. Little did I know the tragedy that was about to unfold.

It's been a long time since my cousins and I have been together, so I was really looking forward to it. Also, I wanted our new foster son to get to meet the family and go camping for the first time.

I made my hubby stop several times at beautiful, picturesque spots. What's a trip if you're not looking for adventure along the way?
 We've never been able to spend time with my dad on Father's Day (we grew up in CA with my mom & he lived in Nevada) so we planned to bring him a homemade present from my sister and I. She read an amazing life memories story for him and then presented him with the was a hit!
My sister Stacy and my dad after she read her beautiful tribute letter.
The next day it was off to the property. Hiding in the thicket along the road was this mama and her baby. Bambi? I stopped and slowly crept up to get a good shot without scaring them away. It was short lived.

As we turned down the dusty road, all my childhood memories came flooding over me. What fun and adventure we had here.
We walked down to the creek (It's become very small from the more swimming holes.) We walked across logs, rode ATV's, sat around the campfire telling story's and reminiscing about "the good ol' days." We walked down to the lake, watched the kids swim, rowed in the raft, and then returned to camp.
Our new son got to drive all by himself on his 14th Birthday! He said it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
Then tragedy struck.

My sister went into a full Grand Mal Seizure. I'd never seen one before. I jumped up and held her by her neck and head as her body went stiff as a board. She was now sideways in her folding chair. Panic set in as my sister-in-law ran all the kids into the trailor. I tried to talk calmly to her, but quickly noticed her lips turning black. I began to yell, "is she breathing?" No one responded. Everyone seemed frozen and unsure of what to do. My husband was standing above her and I yelled, "Pray for her!" My cousin had dropped to her knees and was praying. My sister was fading away. I literally watched the color drain from her face, starting from her neck and moving up until she was completely gray. As I held her head, I knew she was passing away. She had stopped breathing. Her now dead eyes were blankly staring at me. I knew that I needed to get air into her. I haven't had CPR training since 7th grade. But as clear as someone was talking out loud, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "BREATHE FOR HER NOW!" I breathed three times. After the 3rd breathe, she gurgled, sucked in air and began seizing again. It finally stopped. SHE WAS ALIVE! Our prayers were answered. The Lord showed up mightily right there in the middle of our campsite.

After everything calmed down and my sister was doing okay. I ran into our tent, dropped to my knees and sobbed. I thanked the Lord for answered prayers; for saving my sister. I read some scriptures and let Him fill me up. My hubby took a walk with me down by the creek and prayed that the memory of my sister's dead eyes would be removed from my mind. I couldn't get the look out of my head.

It was a bitter sweet trip. The family time was incredible. The fact that we were able to leave the campsite with my sister, safely sitting in the backseat of our car, I can't put into word's what I was feeling.

When you get to carry a true life miracle with realize, there is nothing more precious in this world than family and life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



After my near drowning on Saturday, and the passing of Newport Beach, CA. Lifeguard/Hero- Ben Carlson while saving a man's life; I realized how incredibly dangerous large swells can be even for the most experienced. I decided to head to "The Wedge" on Monday to take a few shots. The waves continued to swell to unbelievable heights. To my surprise there were several people actually charging out into the water, speedo's on (which isn't commonly seen in Orange County, CA., but I overheard them saying that trunks always fall off) and fins in hand, excited to ride these monsters.
Can you say, "CRAZY!"
Seriously, there were bodysurfers as young as 12-13 chasing these incredible waves. They were obviously very experienced even at their young age, along with "The Wedge Crew" (a group of seasoned bodysurfing veterans.)
In between the click of my lens, I found myself praying for them, setting my camera aside to scour the white wash waiting for them to pop up from the humongous waves that had just crashed over them. My anxiety level was definitely heightened as I recalled being tumbled, thrown and disoriented under water; losing perception of up or down under waves half that size.
The crowds excitement and adrenaline kicked in as each giant grew to enormous height...taller and taller. They would gasp and stare in awestruck wonder. Even captivating these three active young boys attention.
It was definitely something to behold in person. The lifeguards coned off the area to make sure that inexperienced people didn't get too close and risk getting swept out to sea. They stood along the shoreline, ready and waiting to risk their lives for someone in need. I'm sure it was a difficult day for them while still mourning the loss of their fallen brother. 
Until you see these waves in person you can't begin to understand the volume of a lifeguard's job.
I was lucky enough to get there before the huge crowds arrived and found a perfect front row spot. 
To see more pictures from the day or order prints...stop by my website:

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Anthony saw a rare day moon coming out of the waters edge today while GoPro'ing. The waves were big and rough when I decided to join him in the water w/my boogie board while he was filming. I stood at the edge a little nervous because it looked pretty brutal out there (original plan to snorkel got instantly cancelled w/the conditions.) The waves that were crashing into shore were knocking everyone off their feet & dragging them in, clothes and all.

Not one to be a sissy, I headed out. Anthony started to film me as we talked, when all of a sudden we realized a set had rolled on top of us & we were in the impact zone. I ditched the board to go under. It was so strong I heard my neck crack & thought, "Hope I'm not paralyzed!" I popped up only w/seconds to breathe before I was hit again and sent rolling on the bottom. The waves rolled right after the other, "4" MORE TIMES! I was smashed over & over again. I thought..."This is it?" I have no more air." As I prayed under water, "Jesus, please save me," the last wave finally rolled me up, instead of sucking me back out, close enough to where I could touch. I never even had a moment in between the waves to try to grab my board. I was lucky to gasp even a little bit of air while trying to spit out the salt water I'd swallowed.

As I struggled to pull my bathing suit up, I guess I only managed to get the front up because Anthony finally realized that I was in trouble (he'd made it out of the impact zone after the 1st wave...every man for himself) when he turned around to see my big ol' bare butt hanging out as I scrambled for the safety of the beach! LOL!!! Yep, I was a flasher today. I seriously was so out of it I had to sit at the edge of the beach to regroup. WOW! I need to listen to my instincts (rough, brutal, large surf) DO NOT ENTER! 

**Disclaimer: I walked past a group of about 7, 18-20 year old boogie boarders/body surfers who had been caught in like me & they were saying to each other, "That was crazy, the only way I got out of there was getting lucky enough to catch one of the waves in. They didn't go back in again after that either! I'm not such a big sissy SEE! Just a flasher!!! Anthony even came in after a while and said, "WOW that was rough!"
Hahahhaha my life! 

Here's my hubby's reaction after getting held under for a while too:


***Check out the war wound on my arm...not sure if the leash got wrapped around me or what?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day to Both of My Dad's

I was lucky enough to grow up having two dad' dad and my step-dad.

Although the years were not long enough with my step-dad, I'm grateful for his unconditional love. When he married my mom he became an instant father of 3. He was patient, kind, supportive, caring and strict (as most policeman are with their daughters.) I was taught the valuable lesson of chores, being independent, and consequences for my actions. (I was difficult...very mouthy and stubborn.) One of the most special days of my life came a few years before his passing. He told me how proud he was of me for the mother I was and the person I'd become. To hear those words from a man I admired and respected meant the world to me! 

My dad lives in Reno, NV. and every summer we'd fly out to visit him for a month. My dad's an outdoorsman through and through. So needless to say, I learned to love the outdoors...hiking, camping, sleeping on a cot under the stars, baiting my own fishing line and cleaning fish. I even learned how to dig my own holes when I had to go to the bathroom, (Oh Joy!) LOL! Yes I can rough it with the best of them. As I look back over the years...I realize that it was important bonding time. The nights sitting around the fire pit with my dad, listening to spooky stories over the radio, telling jokes, playing dice games, scaring whoever's turn it was to walk down the hill & turn off the generator and walk back up in the pitch dark. Then as summer would end, my dad, (the tell it like it is, rough exterior of a man) had to say goodbye. As he hugged us, a crack in his armor would start to roll down his cheek. Tears of love. Tears of a dad who had a difficult time sending his kids away until next year. 
I'm so blessed to have been instilled with the traits of both of these amazing men. 

Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you!

Friday, June 13, 2014


On June 10, 2014, AMFAR (a foundation dedicated to ending the Global AIDS epidemic) put on a fundraising event "Inspiration Gala" in New York at the Plaza Hotel. Josh Duhamel hosted, (his wife, singer Fergie, also attended) and Sarah Jessica Parker was a Presenter. This is always a star studded event and raises tons of money. The 80's band, New Order (from my high school days...aka "Old School") entertained the crowd.  The event also had a fashion show. My son, Jullien Herrera, (Re:Quest Model Management) walked for designer Thom Browne. Since most of us (me included) aren't able to attend these swanky gala's...I thought I'd share some pics from the night with you.


To see more fashion from the event click here: MODELS.COM