Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Media Fast

I'm not going to be blogging for the next seven days. After spending the last several days on the computer much more than I should have, I decided to take the week off, and only check my email once each evening. Just email. No blogs. No uploading pictures. No Snapfish. No ebay. No Amazon. Just email once a day.

Then I thought to myself, "Why don't I take an entire media fast for seven days?" So, I decided to "turn the T.V. off" for a week. No Netflix videos in the evenings after the girls are in bed. Eric is going to join me in my media fast, too. And the girls are going to go a whole week without videos.

I'm going to read some of the many book I have in the house. I think I'll start with a novel by my favorite author, Janette Oke. Eric loves reading in the evenings, so it will be fun to read "together." As for the girls, they love to have me read to them, so that is what we will do instead of a video.

So, I'm signing off. I'll let you know how it went next week. I am so excited!

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Sheets

There is something wonderful about a new set of bed sheets. It almost helps you sleep better. We got "new" sheets from our friends, Jeff & Heidi. They were the sheets that didn't sell at the garage sale they had at our house, and so Heidi gave us a queen set and a few twin sheet sets. Yesterday was "change the sheets day" and I put the "new" sheets on all the beds. Amber's sheets are blue with the globe printed all over them. When it was time for bed and she went into her room and saw the sheets, she was so excited! When I told her they used to be Drew's sheets (her best friend) she was even more thrilled!

I put the "new" white sheets with light blue flowers on our bed and last night I really think I slept better! Everything felt so new and clean and it smelled like flowers in the spring and I could hear the flutter of a butterfly wing...

Okay, so I digress. Anyway, there's just something wonderful about new sheets and I had to share it with you. Nighty Night, Sleep Tight!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More Kids Stuff

Soap Opera:
Tonight I learned that if I was ever to threaten my youngest child with, ".....or I'll wash out your mouth with soap," she wouldn't care. I told the girls to meet me in the bathroom so we could all brush our teeth. When I walked in the bathroom, Amber had her toothbrush in her hand and Autumn had little bits of dial soap in her hand, and more in her mouth! She was chewing the soap like it was gum! This is the same child that--at dinner tonight--ate chips with very hot salsa and asked for more!

Amber's boyfriend:
When Amber got home from her first day of pre-kindergarten Tuesday, she said that Drake--a boy in her class--asked her to sit next to him at lunch.
"He really did?" I asked.
Amber said, "Well, yeah, he told me to 'come over here and sit down.'"
"So, what did you do?" I asked.
"I went to sit next to him but Dillon took my spot, so I sat on the other side of Drake."

Amber's philosophy on sharing:
Regarding preschool, Amber said to me a few days ago, "If someone doesn't share with me, I'll just stomp off in a huff and play with someone else!"
I had to conceal my laughter as I tried to correct her thinking.
Amber's bad dream:
At breakfast, Amber told us that she had a bad dream. It went like this: "I dreamed that there was a lady carrying a big basket of walnuts and there was a man and the lady dropped her basket and the walnuts went everywhere and people ate them all up!"
Eric asked her, "So, what was the bad part of the dream?"
Amber said, "The walnuts got all eaten up!"
Now to Amber--a lover of food--that would be a bad dream!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Day of School

This morning I dropped off Amber at Noah's Ark Preschool for her first day of pre-kindergarten. She was so excited! Last night, at about 6:45 p.m.(90 minutes before her bedtime), she said she wanted to go to bed so she could sleep and then go to preschool.

With lunchbox in hand, Amber walked out the door and I was determined to not shed a tear. I drove her to school, passing up big yellow school buses, and fought back tears. I took her into her classroom, introduced her to Miss Debra and Miss Rory, and fought back tears. (On a side note, when we walked in to class, Autumn promptly sat down at one of the tables, thinking she was going to school, too!)
I gave Amber a hug and kiss good-bye and walked out, tear-free. I almost made it, too, except that I had to pass by the office to pay tuition. As I was casually chatting with the administrator...uh oh, my eyes welled up with tears.

What is it about the first day of school that gets to me--and a lot of moms? It's not that I'm going to miss Amber. (Oops, did I just say that out loud?) I think it's because we, as moms, get an overwhelming sense of the fact that another year has passed us by--a year that we can't re-live, even if we wanted to. It makes us aware of the fact that our little one is another year older, and growing up so fast that if we blink, we're likely to miss something.

So here I am, blogging about my 4 1/2-year-old while my 21-month-old is getting into mischief at my feet in the office. And one day soon, I'll be getting all teary-eyed over her first day of preschool. But when that time comes, I'll be crying several days before the first day of school even starts!

Fried Squirrel

Yesterday, we were without power in the house from about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. We were in and out of the house all day, so it wasn't a big deal. But the times we were in the house, we were HOT! It made me appreciate our swamp cooler even more. I have no idea how I grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., except to say that I went from my air-conditioned home to my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned job and back.

Anyway, at 6:30 p.m.(after eating a dinner of cold leftovers), we decided to go out for ice cream to cool off. On the way, we stopped by a neighbor's house, where the electric company was working on the problem. We asked our neighbor what had happened, and he told us that a squirrel was walking on the wires and crossed the wires, thus electrocuting his little varmint body and melting the lines that keep our entire neighborhood (two blocks long) in power.

Our neighbor said that the squirrel was lying dead in one of the other neighbors' back yard and proceeded to show us what the squirrel looked like. Eric wanted to take a picture of the squirrel for my blog, but I told him that is where I draw the line with picture-taking! (See, I don't take pictures of everything!)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Allergies and Monkeys

My daughter, Amber, knows that I am allergic to rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and just about every dog breed (except the tiny, annoying-yet-cute, yappy dogs). That's why we used to own pet snakes...I'm not allergic to reptiles.

The other day, we were driving to Ventura and Amber said that she had a "great idea."

Amber: Mommy, instead of a dog or a cat, I've decided I want a monkey for a pet.

Mommy: Oh, I don't think we can get a monkey.

Amber (in an exasperated tone): Why? Who's allergic to monkeys?

I was laughing too hard to respond.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fast Food

Even though I love to cook (and was a Pampered Chef kitchen consultant for more than eight years), I just can't get excited about cooking dinner these days with a toddler and a pre-schooler underfoot. So, I've been trying to find ways to speed up the preparation and cooking process while keeping the meals nutritious. I like the idea of frozen meals, but dislike the additives and preservatives that are in most prepared foods.

Then my friend Lisa turned me on to a stir fry dish with tofu, and it was a hit. Tonight after dinner, I went to the kitchen to put away the leftovers, and there weren't any! I grilled Trader Joe's extra firm tofu (comes in a 2-pack for 99 cents!) Then I added Trader Joe's Pacific Shores Stir Fry Vegetables (frozen with no additives or preservatives and it costs a dollar and some change!) I cooked them in a little garlic oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce. To round out the meal, I steamed some white rice. It took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish and cost under $3.00 total to feed my family of four! I am so excited about this!


Another way I've done fast food the nutritious way is buying Trader Joe's frozen pizzas. (This isn't a free ad for TJs) Before trying their pizza, I had yet to find a store-bought frozen pizza that didn't taste like the cardboard box it came in. But I and my family have enjoyed TJs frozen pizzas (with no preservatives and no artificial colors or flavors). Our faves are the Three Cheese, which we added pineapples to once, the Pizza Margherita and the Spinach Pizza. Each pizza costs $3 to $5, and you need two pizzas for a family of four who really enjoys pizza, like we do (or one pizza and a nice salad).


Bon Appetite!

Lost Boys of Sudan

Tonight we watched an excellent documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan. (You can get it from Netflix.) The story follows two Sudanese refugees through their journey from Africa to the U.S. I must admit, it was hard to watch the movie while sitting in my comfortable recliner in our nice home. But I highly recommend viewing it. It was eye-opening and convicting and uplifting. It was not a downer. Let me know what you think of the documentary.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lizards and Frogs and Skunks, Oh My!

Tonight--as happens quite often in the summer--I'm just sure there's a skunk walking around outside our house. I've never actually seen one, but I sure can smell it through the open windows. Tonight I smelled it coming through our swamp cooler.

What we have seen this summer are a lot of lizards. I know, everyone sees lizards in their backyard in Ojai, but we've found two baby lizards in our house! Amber found the first one. "Mommy, mommy, I see a lizard!" she said to me one day this week. At first I thought she was pretending, and then I thought she was just seeing things. But she insisted, and sure enough, under a blanket in the laundry room was a little baby lizard. I'd never seen one so tiny; it was about the size of a push pin. I thought we'd never catch it, but once we did, that little fella was quite tame. It crawled all over Amber's arm and didn't try to escape. Then we set it loose outside. (I would have taken a picture but our digital camera broke!)

A few days later, we found a second baby lizard in the track of the front window. We had an even harder time catching this one because he kept escaping inside the track. He also was quite tame once we caught him and took him outside. Now I'm wondering...where's the mama lizard that birthed these babies in our home?
As for the frogs, they live in the drain pipe in our outside patio sink. Oftentimes one of us will turn on the water to wash our hands and out will hop a little frog. Every time, it startles us and makes us jump back! Autumn and I had fun one day with the frog in the kiddie pool. Don't worry, he survived and is back at home in the pipe.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oh, Mercy!

This morning, at 12:02 a.m., my bladder woke me up. It was unusual, because my bladder generally wakes me up around 5 a.m. I stumbled out of bed and into the hallway where I heard loud noises coming from the living room. It was only by God's mercy that I didn't run back into the bedroom, shut the door, wake Eric up and tell him someone is in the house and to get the baseball bat (especially since we don't even own a baseball bat).

I faintly recognized the sound in the living room. It was Michelangelo and The Difference--a hard rock/alternative band--singing "Give the Children Mercy" at volume 12 on our stereo. But why were they singing it at midnight?

This past Saturday, we helped our friends have a garage sale at our house. (The Yellow House Yard Sale) Being at our house, we got first pick of the goods, and we bought a CD player/stereo. I was so excited because this system played 3 Cd's, whereas our old stereo---that was broken--used to play only one CD. (Don't bother to mention the fact that I'm behind the times. Remember, I don't even own a cell phone, let alone an ipod.)

So, yesterday I eagerly set up the stereo and put in three Cd's: Third Day, Everybody Duck and Michelangelo and The Difference (MaTD). I must have had Phoenix on my mind when I selected the last two Cd's. Anyway, we enjoyed music in our home again. The girls danced, I cooked dinner, a bluebird started singing along outside, a little squirrel stopped climbing the tree to listen to the music, I saw a lizard dance a jig on a rock in the back yard, the world was in harmony...

Okay, so where was I? Oh yeah, the loud noise at midnight. Well, when I set up the stereo, I must have set the sleep/alarm clock thing for 12 a.m. The background noise probably woke me up, not my bladder. So, I turned the power off and unplugged the speakers, just in case, and went back to bed, only to be woken again at 6 a.m., this time by my bladder!

Well, I better go plug back in the speakers.

"What does POOR mean, mommy?"

That's the question my daughter, Amber, asked me two days ago as we sat on the couch looking through our most recent World Vision* newsletter. It was my fault for prompting the question when I pointed to a group of kids on one page and said, "Most of those kids only have one toy each. Some of them don't have any toys." My daughter's eyes widened. "Why, mommy?" she asked. "Because they're poor," I answered. "What does poor mean, mommy?" My tongue went numb.

How do you tell a 4-year-old who has everything she needs, and then some, what it means to be poor? I said, "Well, sweetie, being poor means that most of these kids don't have the money to buy toys. Most of them only have enough money to eat, and some of them don't even have enough money to buy food sometimes." Amber's eyes welled up with tears. "That makes me sad, mommy." I couldn't say anything, for my eyes were getting misty, too. We sat there in silence as I held and rocked my daughter who, at that moment, had a heart too big for her 4-year-old body.

"I'm still sad." Amber broke the silence a few moments later. I said, "But we help out two of these kids so they have food and...." She was still sad. I had an idea. "Why don't we color some pictures for our sponsored kids and their friends and mail it to them." She said, "Okay." Then I added, "And we can buy them a present at Christmas-time and send it to them." Her eyes lit up. "And how about me? Can we buy a Christmas present for me, too?" Amber said, her big heart shrinking a little. I started to explain the irony of her last statement and then stopped myself. Someday she would understand. Meanwhile, I was still proud of her compassionate heart, even if it only lasted a few minutes.

* www.worldvision.org

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Catalina Island!

Eric and I recently returned from a 4-day trip to Catalina Island--just the two of us! It was an awesome trip and a wonderful time of recreation (free diving) and relaxation (sleeping 10 hours each night). This was my fourth trip to Catalina, and I've decided that when the girls are older (teens) I want us to live in Avalon for a year. Eric likes the idea, too. It's just such a neat, little island. It has two newspapers--believe it or not-- that could use some good writers. And I'm sure all of those golf cars need repairs once in a while. We met a family there last week who vacation each year in Avalon. They have three teen-age daughters. The parents said they give their girls $20 each day and let them roam the island until supper-time while they sit on the beach and read books all day! The husband said, laughing, "They can't get into too much trouble. And there's no freeway, so where can they go?" So, that got me thinking about moving there for a year. It would take the first six months just to get used to the island (like where you can and can't park your golf car), and the next six months to just enjoy being there. Anyway, here's a few highlights of our trip:

* We spent several hours each day free diving (no tanks) and spearfishing. We dove at Ship Rock, Church Rock and Frog Rock. We drove by Seal Rock and Bird Rock (which is about 8,000 square feet and for sale for only $3 million).

* I "speared" my first yellowtail. Yes, there's a catch...Eric speared it, and barely got it. It was "hanging by a thread" and thrashing all over the place. So, he called me over and asked me to also spear it. I did, and I "stoned it" which means I speared it in a part of its spine that instantly killed it. And that's not easy to do. (I hope there are no fish-lover, animal rights activists reading this right now.) I was excited to have a part in landing that fish! It was, however, the only fish I speared. Eric speared a calico bass and five yellowtail, weighing 18 to 27 pounds.

* On one dive, I jumped in the water before Eric did. I looked below me through my mask and saw two 6 1/2-foot long sharks circling me (this is not a joke). I yelled at Eric, "Get me on the boat. Get me on the boat RIGHT NOW!!!!!" He hoisted me up on the boat in two seconds. I knew they weren't great white sharks, but I still didn't know what they were. Eric jumped in the water to check them out. They were soupfin sharks that only eat fish. So, I jumped back in the water and took some pictures of them with my underwater camera. Eric touched one, too! It was so cool!

* We slept on our little boat in Avalon Harbor each night. After diving each day, we went onto the island each afternoon for shopping and dinner and the best ice cream at Big Olafs!

* We played miniature golf at what is perhaps the hardest mini golf course I have ever played on. I won by 1 point (or stroke or whatever you call it). We saw "Ratatouille" one night in an old, Phantom of the Opera-style theatre. It was the neatest theatre I've ever been in, with painted walls and ceilings and a beautiful, plush lobby. I got my eyebrows waxed one afternoon at a spa.

* While we were diving one day, we saw a boat approach us and a guy waving at us. We were intrigued, and then discovered that it was our boat partner. What are the odds that our boat partner from Camarillo would be on his friend's boat diving at Catalina the same week we were, and that we'd run into him?

* We are blessed to have Catalina Island practically in our back yard. I just love the ocean and all of the sea creatures that God created. God is so creative. I am so glad He chose to share His creation with us. Thanks for letting me share this with you.

P.S. Our daughters had a blast with Eric's parents while we were gone, too. They went to the water park, took the trolley into town to go to the library, went on walks and picked neighbor's plums and made applesauce from scratch with apples from Papa's tree!