Archive for February, 2011

FunOnTheRun Youth Program

Frisbee Beach WorkOut.

Frisbee Beach WorkOut.

Yoga Instructor with her impossibly cute kid at Obesity Prevention Workshop

Fire Fundraiser and the Band Played On.

Happiest Flagman On Earth.

A Rhasta Man of Men in the groove.

Triton Girl's B-Ball Coach gets her 500th win.

Seven people in this Rollover and nobody hurt.

Heads up and almost in, but there's always next time.

More Rhasta Grooviness.

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Former Shuttle Astronaut Jose Hernandez speaks with the future.

SAN CLEMENTE –(CA)- You might not often make a connection between sweets and space, but 11-year-old Mikaela Bellomo of San Clemente says she’s more determined than ever to one day open a candy shop after hearing former astronaut Jose Hernandez speak at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens.

“You can be anything you want, but the key is an education,” Hernandez said Monday afternoon to about 200 local residents, including 60 children from the Boys & Girls Club.

Hernandez detailed his 2009 mission aboard thespace shuttle Discovery, spending 14 days circling the Earth every 90 minutes and traveling more than 5.7 million miles. The mission was to deliver 18,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station and collect and put in place several experiments.

Young artist with his Space Cow.

Hernandez also spoke about his early childhood as the son of migrant farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. He started working in the fields early each morning alongside his parents, brothers and sisters, picking fruit and vegetables. It was still dark outside, and Hernandez would look up to the stars and the moon. He decided at 8 years old that one day he would be an astronaut.

But due to the nature of migrant work and traveling a lot, it was hard to attend school consistently, he said. Each year, his family returned after the picking season to their home in Mexico for three months or more, making it difficult to stay proficient in English.

Hernandez reached a turning point when a teacher went to where he and his family were living, near his birthplace of French Camp, to talk about the importance of education. His parents spoke no English and the teacher spoke no Spanish, so it was up to Hernandez to interpret.

“So I would go back and forth explaining everything,” he said. “My teacher … told my parents, through me, that children, much like trees, have to be in one place to put down roots and grow, or in other words, get an education. So soon after that, we just stayed in California without returning to Mexico except for two-week vacations.”

His parents encouraged him to follow his dream, he said, saying he could do anything he set his mind to.

Hernandez showed Monday’s audience a 20-minute video of his Discovery mission. Then he accepted a $5,000 check for his charitable foundation, Reaching for the Stars, from Dr. Ronald Redmond, a local dentist who sponsored the event.

Hernandez took time for pictures, autographs and words of encouragement for the eager kids surrounding him, including Cara Kitts, 12, a San Clemente resident who aims to be an engineer.

“My favorite part was to see how the two parts (the space shuttle and the International Space Station) made the physical connection,” Kitts said. “I asked him what he thought about the space shuttle Discovery’s last mission right now, and he said he was sad because it was the one he was on.”

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Maddie James///Photo Courtesy of the James Family

DANA POINT, (CA)– Maddie James loves to draw – usually something with fish, dolphins, sea lions and beach scenes. So now, as the Capistrano Beach 5-year-old nears the end of her young life, her family wants to give her a lasting legacy – a place where other children can learn to love the ocean as she does.

Maddie has an inoperable brain tumor that has left her with weeks, maybe days, to live. Her mother, Kajsa James, 38, says that though it’s been a challenge to explain Maddie’s condition to her, they have plenty of happy memories to reflect on, especially last year’s Ocean Institute summer camp for kids.

It’s why the James family has started the Maddie James Foundation to help raise the remaining $1.3 million needed for the institute’s $4 million Seaside Learning Center, which the family hopes will carry Maddie’s name. The project is expected to break ground this summer or fall at Dana Point Harbor, according to Dan Stetson, Ocean Institute president and chief executive.

Kajsa and Collie James with a drawing by their daughter, Maddie James.

According to the foundation website, a donation of $1 million would be necessary to have the project named the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center.

“We realize this is a huge number and have no idea if we can get anywhere near it,” the family says on the website. “There are other naming opportunities in a lower donation range, but we have decided to reach for the stars (or maybe sea stars in this case) and try and raise as much money as possible. We will do whatever we can with the funds raised to make sure Maddie’s name lives on in perpetuity at the center.”

Stetson said in a statement that the institute has been “deeply touched and inspired by the courage of this very special little girl. We would be honored to have our Seaside Learning Center commemorate Maddie’s life by creating a place where everyone who loves Maddie can go and remember her, as well as a place where other children and their families can visit, share memories and learn about the ocean and its preservation.”

Maddie can no longer attend her kindergarten class at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel, so her classmates plan to march with a banner in support of her foundation in the opening parade for Dana Point’s 40th Festival of Whales on Saturday.

All of this has happened quickly. Kajsa James said she noticed on a Friday afternoon in mid-January that her daughter was not her usual self. By Sunday morning, she and her husband, Collie James, 40, got news no parent wants to hear.

Maddie has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, a cancerous growth that affects about 200 American children each year and offers no chance of long-term survival.

Now, Kajsa and Collie, after being separated for a year and a half, have come together to live in the same house and work side by side in the care of their daughter.

“They showed us the X-rays and the results of a CT scan and an MRI, and so I just asked the doctor point blank, ‘Is our daughter going to die?’ and he said, ‘Yes, she is,'” Collie said. “We just needed the truth.”

Dr. Michael Muhonen, Maddie’s attending neurosurgeon at CHOC Children’s hospital in Orange, suggested they get in touch immediately with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and go away somewhere to create some positive memories with their daughter. Within days the family was in Maui accompanied by several of Maddie’s friends, playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, her favorite activity.

Even now, as Maddie’s condition deteriorates and she is able to do less and less, the family still visits a community pool where she can get in the water for a couple of hours each day.

“In the water she is free of her physical limitations and what she is experiencing from the medication … she gets to be herself,” Collie said.

Since Maddie has been unable to go to school, she has been at home under hospice care, with the adults in the house under a “no cry” rule. Her teacher visits with the latest class assignments every few days.

In mid-December, before the news of Maddie’s illness, the family, on a whim, celebrated her 5½-year birthday. Now they’re glad they did, and they’ve decided to celebrate her 5¾ birthday a little early, this Sunday. The family plans a surprise party with her friends at Maddie’s best friend’s house, complete with a big Scooby-Doo cake and a ride in the Mystery Machine, the green van from the Scooby-Doo TV show and movies.

Her mother is trying to fit parts of all the good things an entire lifetime might have had in store for Maddie into her final days.

“Maddie loves to draw, so we drew out what she wants her wedding cake to look like,” Kajsa said. “There’s even a phone app where you can make your own birthday cake. You can blow out your candles, so we started with 6 and then 7, 8 and 9.”

The Jameses say the support from Maddie’s school, relatives and friends has gotten them through it all so far.

“It’s hard not to be overwhelmed, but we have a lot of living to do,” Collie said. “Staying in the day gets me through it. I’ll have a lifetime to deal with this.”

The Orange County Register story:


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CORONA DEL MAR, (CA)- Kalani and Oleema Miller believe a great bikini should have a good fit, be comfortable, come in a load of colors and give a girl confidence on the beach. The editors of the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editionapparently agree, giving the Orange County sisters’ 1-year-old swimsuit company, Mikoh Swimwear, three pages in the issue, which hit newsstands Feb. 15.

Last year’s Swimsuit Edition featured one suit from the fledgling company, making a big enough impression on the editors and models that the Millers were invited back.

“Our suits are sold as separates, they are seamless and they don’t have any hardware. We’ve worked hard to have flattering cuts with custom prints,” Kalani Miller said. “The suits really sell themselves.”

Kalani, 23, Oleema, 22, older brother Jason, 25, and younger sister Hana, 19, all were raised in San Clemente, surfing and enjoying the outdoors. All appeared with their dad, Jim, in thesurf documentary “Step Into Liquid” by director Dana Brown. Kalani still lives in San Clemente; Oleema lives in Corona del Mar.


Kalani and Oleema, former Roxy girls clothing models, said it was a natural progression last year when they opened Mikoh Swimwear and began selling their swimsuits. They often finish each other’s sentences when explaining the inspirations for their bikini designs, describing the overall theme as “slim and flirty.”

“The theme for this year’s line is ‘Tepre Pacificum’ which essentially means ‘calm seas,'” Kalani said.

Oleema added: “We find inspiration for our designs in all the things we come across in our daily, regular lives. It’s really a consensus of everything and doesn’t come from any one thing.”

Though both are involved in all aspects of the company, Kalani handles most of the business side, with Oleema working on designs and colors. “We’re best friends,” they said at the same time, with big smiles.


Mikoh Swimwear’s website says the Millers “were raised in a household where creativity and self-expression was always encouraged.”

Oleema has long had a love for fashion. She learned to sew from their mother, Charlene, and created her own wardrobe.

Kalani liked to paint and write and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a communications degree.

Oleema says she has a perfectionist streak that will flare up and she relies on Kalani to say when enough is enough.

“I really get into how the suits are made,” Oleema said. “The head seamstress says I am by far the most picky of all their clients she does work for, but I want the suits to be perfect. It’s really like they are going to be mine and they have to be good – better than good.”

The company name, Mikoh, translates from Japanese as “female shaman” or “medicine woman.” It is a mix of the last name Miller and the first initials of Kalani and Oleema and the first initial of Hana.

Kalani said it has been amazing to see how a company can grow in a year. Oleema said that while she might be a little in awe of their success, it makes sense – their mother said that if you want something badly enough, you can get there through hard work.

Mikoh has 10 suits in its 2011 line, all hand-sewn in Bali. They are available online at mikohswimwear.com,barneys.com, shopbop.com and revolveclothing.com, retailing for about $200 for a complete top and bottom. According to the Millers, the price is in the middle high end. Celebrities including Cameron Diaz, LeAnn Rimes and Kourtney Kardashian have appeared in their suits on the pages of magazines such as Us and People.

Kalani and Oleema say a big part of their purpose is living a life their parents can be proud of, and that includes helping others. When rains brought devastating floods to Queensland, Australia, in early January, leaving thousands stranded and homeless, Mikoh donated all its profits over 10 days to the cleanup effort.

The Millers will soon travel to Bali, a trip they make several times a year, to finalize their 2012 line that will include not only bikinis but also more wraps and cover-ups. The company is looking ahead to the Miami SwimShow in mid-July.

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Yellow Ribbon Cut Up.

SAN CLEMENTE-(CA)- Family Assistance Ministries officially opened its newly renovated Gilchrist House transitional family shelter in San Clemente, completing a three-month renovation after purchasing the building last year with the help of a city grant.

FAM board Chairman Nick Mastroni, Executive Director Mary Perdue and San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak cut a yellow ribbon Thursday for the grand reopening of the 26-bed apartment building for single women and women with young children.

Residents are allowed to stay at the facility – one of three such shelters in the city – for up to 12 months while they find a job and learn life skills. The women come from a variety of backgrounds, including homelessness and domestic abuse. Some stay as little as three months before “graduating” to living on their own, Perdue said.

More than 400 women and children have been helped since the shelter was established in 2003, FAM says.

A year ago, FAM purchased the building, which it had been renting, with help from an $800,000 grant approved by the city in 2009.

“It’s our pleasure to support something so valuable as this,” Donchak said.

Funds to renovate and upgrade the facility were made possible by government redevelopment grants, said Denise Obrero, a housing specialist with the city. FAM received more than $200,000 for the renovation.

Just Hanging Out Waiting For Mom To Get Home.

The project was approved in July, and a contractor began the work in November, putting in new paint, tile floors, new cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchens and upgrading electrical wiring. Workers also completed parts of a roof that was unfinished since the structure was built.

FAM program director Lucy Stafford-Lewis said volunteers from the Seapointe Women’s Association, Community Presbyterian Church of San Juan Capistrano and a Girl Scout troop from Mission Viejo helped paint. Local resident Belisa Davis visited with her two daughters to pick weeds, clean up and haul away trash. Other volunteers decorated with curtains, wall paintings and furniture, Stafford-Lewis said.

“It’s been an amazing thing to see the before and after,” Stafford-Lewis said. “Everyone worked over the holidays and all the volunteers pulled through.”

Gilchrist House is named after late FAM founder Ellen Gilchrist, who “would be so pleased to know the energy that has gone into this home and into FAM,” board member Jim King said.

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Thanks for the cozy blanket.

CAMP PENDLETON, -(CA)- Donated diapers, wipes and clothes for 574 children of military personnel rolled into Camp Pendleton on Thursday morning, courtesy of the Assistance League of Capistrano Valley.

And Tia Thorpe, manager of the San Onofre Community Center, where the goods were distributed, is glad they did.

“It benefits the families, so it’s a good thing. But it also shows that other people care outside the military. It hasn’t always been that way,” Thorpe said. “The families really appreciate it.”

According to Ann Steinhilper of San Juan Capistrano, chairwoman of the local Assistance League’s “Chapters for Children,” the organization holds three distribution days a year for different age groups, including a “back to school” day in August. The group raises funds through lunches, mailers, website donations and federal and state grants.

Steinhilper says the group focuses on the north end of the Camp Pendleton Marine base, where extra help isn’t as widely available because of its remoteness. The league purchases the diapers and wipes in addition to providing two complete outfits for each child. The cost comes to about $14 per child.

Checking it out.

Two new programs include volunteers knitting and sewing and making quilts and sweaters for toddlers. The Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo provided handmade sweaters this year, and Heart to Heart, a Long Beach group, sent handmade quilts.

Many mothers have been to the event more than once, saying the help makes a difference with their husbands away for up to a year on deployment.

Christina Blackwell visited for the first time with her children, Emmalin, Elsa and Ashlyn, and slowly walked among the tables full of clothes and quilts. Elsa and Ashlyn quickly wrapped themselves in a multicolored afghan Blackwell picked out for them.

“These women (volunteers) are great, and the things they do for our families is amazing,” Blackwell said.

Marine Sgt. Ruchir Patel made his fifth visit, this time to help distribute diapers and wipes, load cars and clean up.

“I utilize the program myself. I have four kids, and I’m here because I want to give back,” Patel said with a smile.

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Maybe a young doctor one day.

Dana Hills Dancers.

Reagan; An American Journey---The documentary.

More Dana Hills Dancers.

Treasure Hunt Road Show stops in San Clemente.

It's a lonely job but he does it like nobody else.

Everyone made it out okay with no injuries.

Handmade organic toys made from surplus sandal parts.


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