My mom, Linda Dunlap, was a school teacher and had been since I was young. She LOVED her job. Everything she did was centered around her students learning in a fun environment.

She made learning fun and easy for hundreds of students. As I grew up and the months turned into years, I saw just how dedicated my mom was to teaching. The excitement of being in her class was huge at the private school where she worked. There was always something magical happening in her classroom.

From Chinese New Year celebrations, to the Tales written by Beatrix Potter, and the history of King Tut. My mom would create elaborate units on so many different subjects.

When she would put these units together, we would make a trip to museums and different towns to gather everything we could about the subject. It was so much fun. I remember trips to China Town in San Francisco and running down to LA to visit all of their museums and art exhibits. We would hunt for treasures and trinkets to take back home so she could use them to teach her kids about what she learned. Her bulletin boards set the mood for her current theme. They always involved so much detail and information. Once you saw them, you couldn’t help but want to learn more. They lite up the eyes of her students, staff, and parents.

My Childhood

I was born in Nevada, and we moved to California when I was just 3. I have two older brothers that were around 4 at the time. My parents built our home on a 2.5 acre piece of property in what is known today as Royal Oaks, California. When we moved there it was still considered Watsonville, CA, aka strawberry capital of the world. We were just 20 miles south of Santa Cruz and a few miles from the beach.

My mom was a stay at home parent until we made our move to California where she started working as a school teacher at a private school. We spent a lot of time at that school growing up. It was not just where my mom worked, but it was also a church that we became members of and attended regularly during my childhood.

The school was small, but the staff there were (and still are!) incredible people. Although I wouldn’t consider the school to be small anymore, they have grown a lot over the years. The other teachers, staff, and teacher’s aides became my second family.

As I sit here and think about all of the people who were around for every part of my childhood, I get tears in my eyes. I was so lucky to have so many people who supported me, loved me, but above all; they were there for me. They were my village!

Through the good times and the bad, they were a constant in my life. I am lucky because today I am still in contact with some of these lovely folks today, thanks to both my mom and dad. I would love to reconnect with the few who I haven’t spoken to in awhile. If you are reading this and you are one of them, please send me an email!

My mom had the same work schedule as me and my brother’s school schedule, which was wonderful because we had the same days off. We did a lot together growing up. We all worked hard keeping up our house and property. We had different animals at our house including a pig, chickens, cats, dogs, rabbit, and even hedgehogs. There was also a huge garden, which my parent’s had a passion for. My dad would grow boxwood shrubs and trees and shape them into fun shapes and even animals. When one of us kids got an award or would graduate, my dad would plant flowers in the shape of our initials in the flower boxes. There were a lot of trips made with my mom. We would go on a ton of day trips around the Bay Area. Visits to museums, shopping malls, parks, amusement parks, beaches, cities, missions, aquariums, the list just goes on and on. We also traveled a lot as a family. There were several trips to Hawaii, road trips to visit our family in different states, and we even had a pop up tent trailer at one point.

I spent a lot of time with my mom while I was growing up. Even though there were times we didn’t get along, and other times I was rebelling as a teen, we always came back to each other. She was my best friend. We laughed, cried, shopped, cooked, worshiped, prayed, traveled, and worked together. This was the foundation she gave me. Thank you mom.

This picture is of me and my mom very soon after we moved to California. It was at my tea birthday party.

My Mom