Friday, June 29, 2007

Kid Stuff

Recently I was wrestling with what to--and what not to--put on this blog, in the way of kid stuff. I asked a friend what she considered was "bragging" about the kids. We came to the conclusion that if it isn't outwardly saying that your kid is superior to others, and if it's a funny thing that could make someone smile, or encourage someone, or teach someone...then go for it. I think this meets one or more of those criteria. So, here goes:

A few minutes ago, I sat the girls down at their kiddie table with a snack (Goldfish--with preservatives) and went into my office to check my email. About 10 minutes later, I walked back into the dining room. My socks became wet. I looked down to see that the floor had been "mopped." I asked Amber what had happened and she said, "There was goldfish on the floor so I cleaned it up."

She had gotten the Shark* mini-vacuum and swept up the crumbs, then got the Swiffer Wet Jet* and mopped the area. I said, "Wow! Amber, you're such a big helper!" She said, "I needed to do my work and I thought you'd be very proud." I told her I was proud and then came back into my office to post this blog article.

I wrote this as an encouragement to moms and dads with young kids...that there will come a time when your young-uns do things that will make your heart cry tears of joy. So, I cherish times like these and write in my "online journal" so I won't forget.

* BTW, I strongly endorse the Shark mini vac, and the entire line of Swiffer products to help mommys and daddys with the never-ending task of housework.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I do believe, I think

My blog post for today is on Community's Blog (the church I attend). Check out my article at:

http://www.ojaicommunity.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hodge Lodge Humor


Kids aren't the only ones that say cute and funny things. This morning Eric and I were reading a fairy tale book to Amber. After we finished, she started re-telling the rhymes by memory, transposing two fairy tales:

Amber: Old Mother Hubbard lived in a shoe. She had so many children...
Eric: How cute, she's mixing up the fairy tales!

Then it was Eric's turn. As he made lunch, he quoted fairy tales out loud.

Eric: Nat King Cole was a merry old soul...
Christine: (laughter)
Eric: What's so funny?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dumb Crooks

Wow, I can't believe it's been five days since I posted a blog article! It's been a busy, crazy week. I've been wanting to re-tell a story that my father-in-law told us during dinner recently. It's a true story, straight from the "horse's" mouth, so you don't have to wonder if it's an urban legend or check it out on Snopes.

Eric's dad, Bob, was going to the beach in Santa Barbara years ago when he noticed some guys stealing a stereo out of a car. He watched the thieves put the stereo into their car and head for the beach. He went over to their car and decided he would just check the doors. The thieves had left their car door unlocked. Bob retrieved the stolen stereo and was able to return it to its rightful owner. Talk about dumb crooks!


(Here's a picture of Eric and his dad, Bob.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tags and Hangnails

Have you ever done something and--as soon as you did it--you realized how stupid it was? It happens to me all the time when it comes to tags and hangnails.

I hate tags on clothing, especially T-shirts. So, when I get a "new" shirt (usually a hand-me-down, which I love), and I wear it for the first time, I immediately feel the tag at the back of my neck. I reach behind me and tear (more like yank) out the tag while I'm wearing the shirt. It almost always results in ripping the shirt, which will never get repaired because I can't even thread a needle (see my Fun with a Cardboard Box post). I did it again today with one of my "new" shirts from the Swap (see my Free For All post). Don't ask me why I don't just cut out the tag before wearing the shirt, or take the shirt off and use scissors to cut the tag. It's just a stupid thing I do that usually results in negative consequences.

Other things I yank out are hangnails. As I'm sitting down watching a video and fiddling with my fingernails, I notice a hangnail. Instead of pausing the DVD, getting the nail clippers and cutting the nail, I yank it out! Then, the next day, I really suffer because--if any of you know about pulling hangnails--it results in a painful, swollen cuticle that lasts for days.

My children do the same thing sometimes. They disobey me and then suffer the consequences of unwise choices.

So, why am I writing about hangnails and T-shirt tags and kids' disobedience? No reason, really. I mean, I could make some profound, spiritual connection like what happens when we disobey God. But, I'll save that for another day. I was really just rambling.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Free For All

Today was one of my favorite days of the year. No, it wasn't my birthday, or anyone's birthday that I know of. It wasn't a holiday, or a special occasion. It was the Swap at my church. Twice a year our church hosts a free rummage sale. People bring their clothes, toys, books and small miscellaneous items, set them out on tables and then go garage sailing...for free! Those of you who know me well, know that one of my mottos is, "If it's free, it's for me!" And today I lived up to that motto. I brought four brown bags full of stuff, emptied them, and then filled them all back up and ended up taking home the same amount of stuff I came with! Only it was different stuff.

I brought home several shirts for me, shoes for the girls, a Dora swimsuit for Amber, brand new Christmas tea towels and loaf pans, brand new puzzles for the girls, an adorable crocheted hat for me, a throw pillow for our couch, and homeschooling books and unused curriculum (and that's not all). I scored today!

I almost went home with an adorable pair of red sandals that fit me perfectly. However, my friend Candy informed me that they were hers and she had taken them off to try on another pair of shoes. I tried to convince her that they were perfect for me, but she had the audacity to tell me that she wore them in and she was wearing them out!

I had a blast! The Swap was from 8 a.m.-noon. I showed up at 8:18 a.m. I deliberately came a little late so I wouldn't look too anxious. I stayed until 10:30, went to a few garage sales, and then went back to the church at 11:00, just to make sure someone didn't bring in new things while I was gone. I had a great time hanging out with my friends and helping them find things that I thought would look perfect on them. I held up a pair of cargo pants and said to my friend, Nadine, "These would look great on you!" She said, "I brought those today." We all had a good laugh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Graduation!!!

I recently attended two graduation parties for two of the teen-age girls I've had the privilege of mentoring for the past six years, Rachel and Lindsey. Eric and I have been youth leaders for 10 years, and graduation is always a bittersweet time for us. It's fun to see the teens get their diplomas and head off to college, but it's also hard to see them go. (I can't imagine how their parents feel!) Anyway, it's been a blast getting to know these two girls, seeing them grow up and grow to be more like Jesus. When that happens, it's very rewarding to a youth leader. Here are a few pictures: Lindsey, Rachel & I, and Lindsey with Amber & Autumn. Congratulations, grads!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Overwhelmed

The other night when I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, it dawned on me that I was quite overwhelmed and I didn't even realize it. But as I lay awake, it all came crashing down on me. I was overwhelmed by being a parent, and all that it entails. There are so many decisions that I have to make daily for my children, and I am inundated with information that I need to process regarding their well-being. I started to feel like a failure.

Should my 4-year-old be reading and writing more than her name by now? Am I feeding my children too many foods with preservatives? Am I feeding them enough vegetables? Should my 18-month-old be brushing her teeth on her own (after all her older sister was doing that at that age)? I haven't taken my oldest daughter to the dentist yet. I'm not spending as much time with my youngest daughter as I did with my oldest. The list goes on and on. I realized I was comparing myself to other moms and coming up very short.

I've been reading a great book by Sheila Wray Gregoire called "To Love, Honor and Vacuum." In one of the chapters she explains that women in the 1850s, and even in the 1950s, did not have the things we have today. They also did not have the problems we have today as a result of our accumulation of knowledge and technology. As a result, they did not have the long list of worries that I mentioned above. (They just had different worries.) While I don't want to live in the 1950s, and certainly not in the 1850s, I do want some of what those women had...less. Less information (ignorance really is bliss sometimes). Less worries. (But not less technology, I must admit!)

Going back to that sleepless night, I decided right then to give my list of worries over to God. That may sound like a cliche, but it really did help. Letting go of my troubles freed me to be the mother God created me to be--no more, no less. In times like these I find extreme comfort in the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." And He did.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Fun with a Cardboard Box

Yesterday I had another "Mom Moment," as I am calling them now--the times when I really feel like a mom. I was putting away groceries from Costco and as I started to recycle a box, I turned it upside down and said to Eric, "What does this look like to you?" He avoided the obvious answer (a box) and said, "a large hat." He was trying. I said, "No, a puppet show stage." And so began the fun that Amber and I had making it. It's really easy...
Step 1: Get a medium-size box (preferably the ones from Costco that only have two sides, or cut large openings in the two longest sides of the box.

Step 2: Paint the box with either acrylic or spray paint. (If you use spray paint, like I did, make the kiddos stand far away as you paint).

Step 3: Use acrylic paint to paint accents on the front and sides of the box. (squiggly lines, dots--a pensil eraser works well dipped in paint to make perfect dots)

Step 4: (Just because there's more than three steps, don't panic; most things in life can't be accomplished with just three steps.) Glue buttons or pom-poms or ribbon or pipe cleaners to the front of the box for decoration. (We used buttons.)

Step 5: Find some fabric for curtains. (We had to buy fabric because I can't sew and don't even have a scrap of fabric in the house. BTW, Ben Franklin in Ojai is having a 25% off sale on fabric. Amber picked the perfect pattern.)

Step 6: Buy a dowel (49 cents) or use a rod or something similar you have around the house. Paint it, if desired.

Step 7: (This is where it gets tricky, if you are like me and can't sew.) Measure out the fabric to fit over the opening in the "stage." Cut it. Sew a loop across the top of the fabric, big enough for the dowel to fit through. Push the dowel through the hole.

Step 8: Use hot glue or super glue to afix the dowel on top of the "stage" so it hangs over the front.

Step 9: Grab the puppets and start the show!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Conversation with Amber

Mommy: Know what, Amber?
Amber: What?
Mommy: I love you so much!

Mommy: Know what, Amber?
Amber: What?
Mommy: I love you even more than I did a few seconds ago.

Amber: Know what, mommy?
Mommy: What? (anticipating the sweet thing she will say)
Amber: You have an ugly toe!

I laughed so hard! (BTW, I do have an ugly toe.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Sound of a Cry

It’s amazing how much we–as parents--know about our children when they are so young. I guess we should know them well, after all we’re with them day in and day out. At a meeting last night, I observed just how much each parent knew their child by the cry, scream or other noise they heard. Nine adults were in one room and six toddlers and preschoolers were in the nursery next door with the babysitters. Soon, we heard a cry.

"It’s Jeyda," Danielle said. Michaela went to check on her and–sure enough–it was Jeyda.

A few minutes later we heard a scream.
"It’s Amber," I said. She’s just playing.

The meeting went on and later we heard a cry of protest. Michaela went to check on the situation. (Thanks, M, for the constant trips back and forth to the nursery!) When she returned, she said, "They were just changing one of the diapers."

Eric said, "Was it Autumn?" Indeed, it was!

As the meeting came to an end, one of the babysitters came into our room and said, "Do any of you have extra underwear for the girls?"

Immediately--and almost at the same time–Danielle and I asked if it was our daughter who had wet her pants. And guess what? It was BOTH of them!

Wow! We really do know our children. But how hard can it be; each family last night only had two kids to care for? Think about our Heavenly Father. He has a lot more kids to take care of than we do (I’m not even going to try to do the math). In John 10:14 Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me." The first half of the 10th chapter of John is a beautiful picture of how much Jesus knows us and loves us and cares for us. We are so blessed to have a Heavenly Father who knows so much about his children, right down to our cries.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Anniversary

On Friday, June 1, we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary! For some reason, this year the date almost passed us by before we made plans. Maybe it's because last year we made such grand plans for our 10-year celebration (spent the day together, bought expensive gifts for each other, went out to a fancy restaurant). This year, we hadn't gotten a babysitter or set aside money for our special night. So with three days notice, we made reservations at Suzanne's Cuisine and hired a babysitter for Friday.

It was such a nice, quiet dinner. We exchanged cards and talked and talked over a delicious meal. When it came time for dessert, we were only going to order one dessert and split it (to save money that we didn't even have in the first place) and then the sweet waitress encouraged us to order two desserts. She said, "It is your anniversary. It only comes once a year. I'll let you two think about it and come back in a few minutes." We decided we would order two desserts and thoroughly enjoyed the Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte (our all-time fave dessert--pictured below) and a new one, Pineapple Gratina with Coconut Ice Cream. At the time I thought it was odd that the waitress--who has never pushed the dessert issue on us before--was advising us to order two. And then we got the bill. A big heart was circled around the two desserts and the words, "Happy Anniversary. Dessert is on Lea Gonzalez & family." Our wonderful friends knew we were going to Suzanne's and phoned ahead. What a delightful surprise and a wonderful way to remember our 11th anniversary!

Friday, June 1, 2007

My First Field Trip

For those of you who are mothers, you probably have experienced one of those moments in your life when you really felt like a mom. I’m not talking about holding your baby in your arms for the first time, although those are momentous times. I’m referring to those times when you are overcome with the realization that you are a parent, and a little bit of pride wells up inside you.

The first time I really felt like a mom was when I dropped my oldest daughter Amber off at preschool. As I pulled into the parking lot in my little SUV (little compared to all of the vans and Suburbans parked near me), I was flooded with emotions. "This is it," I thought. "This is what moms do." I had tears in my eyes, not because Amber was entering preschool, but because I was a mother of a preschooler.

Today was another one of those times when I really felt like a mom. It was my first field trip, as a mom. My youngest daughter Autumn and I met the other moms and teachers and students at preschool and loaded into vans and SUVs and headed down the highway to the Squab Ranch. As the caravan pulled into the dusty lot, it happened again. I was flooded with emotions. I thought, "This is what moms do. They go with their kids on field trips."

I took lots of pictures, of course, and when I explained to one of the moms that this was my first field trip, I almost cried. I hope she thought it was just allergies from all of the dust. I saw lots of pigeons (this ranch has 16,000 of them) and chickens and geese and baby ducks. I ate walnuts from a 100+ old tree. And inside I was overflowing with joy. "I’m a mom!" I thought. I’ve known that for more than 4 years, but today I really felt like a mom!