31 May 2009

Ian's High School Graduation

Last week we drove to Wyoming to see Ian graduate from Star Valley High School on May 27th. We had fun with Ian and his friends at a celebration picnic in the afternoon and attended the commencement that evening.

Elliot, Abbie and Claire were in Utah last weekend to throw their Mom an early 50th birthday party, and although Abbie had to return home, Elliot and Claire were in Wyoming to see their little brother graduate.

For his graduation present, we are sending Ian off to spend ten days with Abbie and Alysson in New York. After that, he will be heading down to live with us in Long Beach, where he wants to attend City College before leaving next year for his mission.

While in Utah, we enjoyed staying with Dad, and before leaving Provo on Friday morning, we had a wonderful visit with Karen and Ron at their home.

We are so proud of you and look forward
to having you here with us in Long Beach.

28 February 2009

New Home Teaser - My Favorite Room

We're still settling into our new Long Beach home and we still have lots of unpacking and room arranging to do, but I wanted to tease everyone with some pics of my favorite room - the dining room.

From the entry, an arched doorway leads into the huge formal dining room. The morning sunlight comes through the windows and falls beautifully across the room.

This home was built in the 1920's and has some amazing features. There was a call system set up throughout the home, including the dining room, where there is a button in the center of the dining room floor you could press with your foot to ring the butler!

The dining room is large enough for my Grandparents' table. This dining room set belonged to my Father's parents (the Allgaiers). I am finally able to use beautiful family linens that have been in a cedar chest for decades. The table is the perfect length for Scott's Grandma Rife's banquet linen and my Grandma Mary's tablecloth which she crocheted herself as a gift to me over 25 years ago. A built-in mahogany cabinet displays my Great Aunt's china, my Mother's silver, Claire's and Abbie's Lladro, and various pieces of family crystal.

This view from the living room through an arched walkway shows how our 8' x 12' rug fits perfectly under the table, and there is still so much room! The doorway in the background leads to a breakfast nook.

More family heirlooms finally on display! Scott brought these beautiful Lladro home from Spain 30 years ago for his Mother, and she gave them to Abbie and Claire.

Click here to see more photos, and come by and visit soon to see the entire house in person!

03 February 2009

Lovely Ladies of Long Beach

I had some special experiences in December when I met two very lovely ladies.

On Saturday, December 6th, Scott and I went to the Long Beach Motorcycle Show, then headed over to Bro Randy's house to hang before going to the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. Randy lives just around the corner from a long-time McDonell family friend, Fanie Daly, whom I had not met until that day. We walked over to her home where she welcomed us both with big hugs. What an amazing, lovely lady. She's in her 80's and looks 20 years younger - so full of life and energy. I enjoyed listening to her and Scott reminisce about the many years their families did things together in Long Beach, as well as her fond memories of Joyce and Bill and all of the children. She seemed especially fond of Scott and wanted to be sure I know what a lucky woman I am - which I assured her I do!

Sunday the 7th was another full day of visiting old friends and celebrating the holidays. We headed back to Long Beach for a get-together with several of Scott's high school friends hosted by Scott Anderson, who still lives next door to his parents on Winslow. We had fun catching up with Bob Whitney and Dave Okura, and I met a few more of Scott's classmates. The highlight of the afternoon for me, however, was meeting Scott Anderson's Mom.

Mrs. Anderson, another absolutely lovely lady, knew Joyce very well from serving on the PTA with her for many years. I told her that I never had the privilege of meeting Scott's Mom in person and she jumped at the opportunity to tell me all about her wonderful memories of Joyce. She told me that Joyce was the nicest person there could be and that Joyce never said a bad word about anyone or anything. She couldn't say enough wonderful things about Joyce. Mrs. Anderson was so warm and genuine while she told me about Joyce and she really wanted me to understand just how special Scott's Mom was. I felt a bond with Mrs. Anderson through her love of Joyce and her desire to want me to know that.

We sure do spend a lot of time in Long Beach, don't we? We've often talked about moving back there. Hmmm....stay tuned!

27 January 2009

Doo Dah Parade 2005

It's been over three years since I marched in the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade with the Synchronized Barbecue & Hibachi Marching Grill Team, and I finally figured out how to get the newscast off my DVR.

Near the very end of the video, you'll see me holding one end of the Wiener Slinger, a funnelator we made for launching hot dogs into the crowd. Man, that was a fun day.

22 October 2008

RIP Uncle Mike

Phillip Michael Whitwell
July 31, 1948 - October 15, 2008

Our first anniversary was one of celebration and sadness. Celebration because Scott and I finished our first year together - the happiest year of our lives, but sadness because my Uncle Mike passed away last week.

On Monday, our anniversary, an exact year to the day that Uncle Mike blessed our marriage, we attended his viewing, and yesterday he was buried.

He was adopted as a baby by my Grandparents, and was adored by his sisters Felicia (my Mother) and Fran. His ministry touched thousands of lives and included two trips to China in recent years. His memorial service was attended by hundreds of people, all who were touched by his goodness and generosity. He will be missed greatly, but we all rejoice that he is at peace in heaven now.

To view Uncle Mike's memorial, click here. On the right side of that page, click on the images or movie links to view photos of Uncle Mike, Aunt Rose and their family.

RIP Uncle Mike - We Love You!

13 October 2008

Michele's Chorizo Chili

If I had my way, I'd cook everything over
charcoal on my Weber barbecue.
Yesterday, Mary and I decided to do Michele's chorizo chili, using the Dutch Oven that Claire gave me. Just had to blog and brag on how amazing it turned out.

Step 1
Dutch oven on top of the hot coals, cook the chorizo well...
Step 2
Remove chorizo then cook the hamburger and onions in its grease...
Side Note
Mary and I grind our own meat for hamburgers and tacos and such. This blend was off-the-hook good - tri-tip beef with lean pork ground up and mixed together!

Step 3
Dump the chorizo back in, add the spices, tomatoes, tomato paste and Pabst Blue Ribbon (or ginger ale, if you prefer), then set on grill with coals spread around the outside of the Dutch oven. Cover and let simmer/cook for about an hour, stirring from time to time. I also added about 12 fresh coals around the outside of the Dutch oven after about 30 minutes. By the way, leave off the cover to the Weber...
Step 4
Dump in the beans with their water, let simmer for about another 1/2 hour. Wrap some tortillas in foil and place on top of the Dutch oven during this time.
Finished Product!

29 August 2008

Some of you may have heard that I quit my day job a couple months ago. For nearly 12 years, I worked for Sage Software as principal engineer for their MAS 90 and MAS 200 product lines. Although I had a great, secure job and tons of good friends that I worked with, I reached a point where I had lost much of my passion and was feeling burned out.

I spent most of July in semi-retirement mode - taking it easy, hanging out with Claire, helping with Abbie and Alyssons' wedding plans, and just plain messing around. I also put the word out that I had left Sage, and received many calls and emails from friends in the industry that wanted to discuss my plans. A company in Chicago flew me to their office and courted me for a director of engineering position, and another company close by in OC also offered me a job. I finally decided that if I wanted just a job, I should have stayed at Sage. What I really wanted to do was start my own gig.

A few weeks ago, steezware was launched. I've already completed my first consulting job, and have others in the pipe line. Several Sage resellers and developers are talking to me and, hopefully, I'll grow this thing into something fun and profitable. It sure has been fun so far, and I really need to thank my awesome wife, Mary, for being so supportive and for bringing home a regular paycheck while I get steezware off the ground. Also, all thanks to Alysson for designing me some cool logo stuff, and to our good friend, John Strain, for setting me up a very bitchen web site.

Check it out... http://steezware.com

As you hover your mouse pointer over
Who/What/Where, click to see more information.

03 May 2008

Birthday Weekend - FUN, FUN!!!!!

For Scott's Birthday this year we planned a three day weekend up in Los Osos at Michele and David's beautiful home. We packed up the bike early Saturday morning and headed north, with perfect weather for our ride up the coast.

Our first stop was Santa Barbara, where we enjoyed coffee and bagels at a sunny patio table in front of a cute little shop, then gassed the bike up for the rest of our trip.
We made it to Michele and David's at 1:00 and had such a relaxing weekend. We were treated to fantastic food, hikes down to the bay and tide pools, fun times with Dustin's adorable new puppy, Izzy, and great company.
Michele has a fabulous garden, and I had to share this photo of the incredible plant she has growing in it...a Geranium Maderense. I've never seen anything like it! Isn't it awesome?!
Monday was Scott's birthday, and we had to head home.

We reluctantly packed up the bike that morning. What a peaceful, fun weekend we had with Michele and David and Izzy. Hope we can do that again soon.

That night we went out to dinner with Elliot, Rob, Randy and Felicia at Gordon James in San Clemente, then headed back to Mom's place to open presents.
We've both been having fun with the Guitar Hero III gift all of the kids gave him for his birthday...Pops rocks!!!!!

11 March 2008

Long Beach State Homecoming 2008

Our 25th Anniversary!!!
On Saturday, March 8th, we attended CSULB's Homecoming celebration. Many don't know this, but Scott and I both received our Bachelor degrees from Long Beach State's College of Business Administration at the same time - May of 1983. In fact, we were in the same commencement ceremony but we did not know each other at the time. In 1986 we worked for the same company (Add+On Systems), and I had my degree hanging on my office wall. When Scott saw it, he told me he also received his degree from Long Beach State. When he looked at the date on my degree, he realized that we both graduated at the same time. I often wonder how many times our paths crossed during those college years, not knowing that we would be married to each other 25 years later! I've located both of our transcript, but haven't compared them to see if we were ever in the same class...more to come on that!

We were treated to a great buffet lunch, and given free hats, cups, pens, stickers and tickets to their basketball game later that day. Scott even won their raffle for two tickets to one of their Musical Performances this season!

The highlight of the day was a booth that had all of the year book albums on display. We found the 1956 year book with Grampa Bill listed for receiving his Bachelor Degree, and he was also in the 1958 book for his Masters Degree! AWESOME! Next year we hope he will be able to join us.

On the way home, Scott treated me to a pasty, which I had never had before, at this great little place called The Pasty Kitchen - yum - if you've never had one, you've got to try them!

10 March 2008

The DeSchepper Boyz

Before I blog about our visit to Kelly and David's on March 1st, I need to mention that we bought a new motorcycle about a month ago. I enjoy riding with Scott, and the one he had wasn't really designed for two-up riding. So we sold his V-Strom and bought a beautiful Yamaha Road Star Silverado which is great for touring. We planned our first long trip; a 200 mile ride that started on the Ortega Highway where we stopped for breakfast at Hells Kitchen (YUMMY!); on to Idyllwild (it was warm and beautiful once we got above the clouds); through Garner Valley and down to Temecula to see Kelly, David and D Boyz.

What a great visit - Eli is getting sooooo big, and D Boyz are so cute and sweet and fun! I love them all!!! Here's a picture of 5 of them on our new bike (Adam was inside bowling on the Wii). I wish we could have stayed longer, but it was very cold that day, and Scott was coming down with a cold, so we wanted to get home before dark and could only stay a few hours. We'll plan another trip when it's warmer!

09 March 2008

The Blasters and NASCAR!!!

The weekend of February 24th/25th was a lot of fun with Michele and David here to share it with us.
On Saturday night we went to The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano to see The Blasters perform, along with Graceland Mafia, Three Bad Jacks, and Hacienda Brothers. It was a lot of great music, good food, and fun. I wore this awesome dress I found among some of the clothes Abbie left in her closet here, which was perfect for our night of Rockabilly music. Abbie told me the dress belonged to the Grandmother of one of her high school friends, and I received so many compliments on it!

Sunday was the NASCAR race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The plan was to go to the race, then head to Kelly and David's for dinner. Unfortunately it rained all morning and the race was postponed. We finally headed to the speedway in the early afternoon after the rain stopped. We have never been to a NASCAR race before...WOW - what an awesome experience...we became fans. Unfortunately, after several hours of racing and a lot of yellow flags because of accidents caused by the wet track, the rain came back and the race was postponed. By then it was too late to go see Kelly and David and the boys, which was disappointing. The next morning the four of us drove back out to the track to see the finish of the race!

29 January 2008


It's hard to believe that Scott's youngest child is 17 years old today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IAN!!! I am so blessed and happy to be Ian's Stepmom - he's such a great, talented, handsome, smart young man with a sharp wit and great sense of humor...so much fun to be around. I hope he has a wonderful day today, and wish we could be with him to celebrate his birthday. I look forward to having him back home in Cali this summer! I love you, Ian. XXXXOOOO

16 December 2007


When I was recently cleaning the garage and found the old lamppost sign (see post below), I also found the license plate from Pop's old Mercedes...

Remember when Dad had the WAMJM license plate in the 70's? That one took a bit of explaining, but so did this Tintic one, I suppose. Hard to believe the last time Dad had that car registered with this plate was 1993. He sure did love that car.

Just checked on the Cali DMV site, and neither of these plates are available:

Wonder what wonderful Cali residents own these plates? I'd love to meet them, cuz they must be the best people!


When Mom and Dad moved out of the family home, I snatched a few things...
  • I have the dinner bell that hung in the back patio next to the kitchen window
  • I have the all-electric-home medallion that hung above the doorbell
  • My biggest score was the sign from the front yard lamppost....
When I took down the lamppost sign, in my heart I hoped that someday a McDonell - me! - would be putting it back in its rightful place. The last owner contacted me a few years ago when he was selling the house, but no way could I afford what he was asking. Who knows? Maybe it'll come back on the market at a price that Mary and I can afford.

Worse case scenario: I also have the original, complete blueprints so I guess I could just rebuild the house somewhere else someday. I also have Milo's original sketch of the swimming pool, so I can make a fake of that, too. But what would really be cool is to own the real thing - my family's old homestead.

04 November 2007

Babies, Please!!!

This weekend one of my projects was cleaning out the linen closet and going through the cedar chest. In the linen closet I found two gift boxes with Scott's name on them. They contained some of his precious baby clothes which were carefully wrapped in tissue. I have seen baby pictures of Scott wearing these! His beautiful white linen suit complete with tie and belt; his soft blue and white knit jumper, sweater and cap with felt moccasins; a white seersucker hat with blue and white striped seersucker shoes; red and white Christmas shoes - they are all so adorable, just like him!! I have carefully re-wrapped them in tissue and placed them in the cedar chest, awaiting the arrival of our Grandsons...I sure am looking forward to being a Grandma! Elliot, Abbie & Alysson, Claire, Ian...not to rush you into anything, but when the time is right...babies please!!!

31 October 2007

My Cowgirl Bride

Thought I'd jump into the Halloween fray and show off my cute cowgirl...
Check out Wild Bill's belt buckle...
Yippee Ki Yo Kayay, I'm a lucky guy!

28 October 2007

The Honeymoon Continues

I can't get over how wonderful the first week of marriage to my beautiful bride, Mary, has been.

Today she made me pancakes with a heart.

I Love You, Mary!

PS: I'm sure this newlywed stuff sounds corny, but I'm liking it!

27 October 2007

The Perfect Honeymoon

A week ago today I married my Sweetheart, my Best Friend, my One True Love...this has been the happiest week of my life. Our wonderful families arranged a surprise honeymoon for us on Catalina Island where Scott and I enjoyed the peacefulness of beautiful Avalon Bay. We stayed at the Hotel Vista Del Mar in an incredible ocean front suite on the third floor. We enjoyed the sunrise every morning as we sipped our coffee from the balcony overlooking the bay. Every evening we relaxed in the moonlight and stared up at a sky full of stars as we listened to the peaceful sound of waves rolling up the sand on the beach. A fireplace and two person jacuzzi tub in our room topped it off!!! It was hard to leave the room, but there was so much to enjoy on the island. The weather was sunny and warm as we toured the Casino museum, hiked to the botanical garden and Wrigley Memorial, window shopped up and down the quaint streets, and enjoyed great food highlighted by a delicious dinner at the Catalina Country Club. WOW! Truly the Perfect Honeymoon!!! Endless thank you's to our family members who made this possible. We love you all so much.

18 October 2007

Pops and Mary

After a very, very long wait, Dad and Mary
finally met each other yesterday!

I know they both longed for that moment,
and it was wonderful to see them together.