Sunday, September 30, 2007

When Life Gives You Lemons

Disclaimer: I was planning on blogging about my daughter's lemonade stand anyway, but I certainly did not plan on telling the following story!

No doubt you've all heard the phrase "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well today my daughter and I learned that very lesson...literally!

First, let me give you some background information. There are 1.2 billion people in the world who do not have access to clean water. About 5 million people die every year of water-related illnesses; one child dies every 15 seconds. The Christian women's group I attend is raising $10,600 to build two wells in Africa. That's a lot of money for the small group of 55 women, and they are raising the money in 11 weeks time!

I told my 4 1/2-year-old, Amber, what we were doing. She borrowed and idea from a friend of hers and decided she wanted to have a lemonade stand and donate the money to the well project. Last night we made three pitchers of lemonade: regular, strawberry and mint lemonade. Then she helped me make a sign and put stickers on plastic cups. I emailed all of our nearby friends to tell them that after church we were going to sell lemonade. I even made an announcement in our little church this morning.

As soon as church ended, Amber and I raced home to set up the lemonade stand. (Eric and Autumn drove a separate car to church so they could stay afterward to chat with people.) We got home and set up two kiddie tables and chairs. Then we placed three full pitchers of lemonade and a bucket of ice on one of the tables. I had taped the sign to a garment rack and rolled it onto the sidewalk next to the table. (Yes, there is a reason I'm including all of these details...bear with me.)

The sign kept falling over, so I had the brilliant idea to back the car up to the sign so the garment rack could lean against the car. I sent Amber to the front of the house so I could back up the car. I slowly backed it up until I felt it touch the sign. Then I got out of the car and heard Amber wailing. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with her until I looked at the sidewalk. There, all over the concrete and running down into the street, was three batches of cold lemonade! And the pitchers--well, let's just say that plastic does shatter and I'll be putting in a Pampered Chef order for three new pitchers! "What happened?" you may be asking. From what I can tell, the sign bumped my big chair that bumped the little table with the pitchers of lemonade.

Have you ever felt like you were in another world? Like, "this didn't just happen?" Well Amber was crying and I was crying and then Eric drove up. He got out of the car, looked at the mess, looked at us and basically told us to "get a grip." Our first customer had just arrived, also, and Eric told us that we'd better get in that kitchen and make some more lemonade. (Thank God--seriously--for level-headed husbands and daddys.) The three of us set to work on making two new pitchers of lemonade and our first customers--Jackie and Blossom--waited patiently until we were set up again and ready for business.

I told Jackie the story, and she said that when things like that happen in our lives, we have a choice to give up or get up and move on. She said she was glad we chose to "make more lemonade!" Amber's lemonade stand was a hit, by the way. We made $42.25! She's going to bring it to church on Wednesday.

Amber may not get a lot of life lessons out of today, but when she's older I'll remind her of the day she not only helped provide clean water to people in Africa, but she also "took the high road" and didn't wallow in her disappointment. Life handed her lemons and she made lemonade...literally!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Don't Give Up

By 9:30 this morning, my strong-willed daughter, Amber, had done everything possible in the way of disobedience and disrespect. (I'll spare you the ugly details.) After yet another time out, she was supposed to help me fold the laundry, but instead I heard her playing nicely with her little sister in their bedroom. I knew it wouldn't last long, so I decided to let her play and give myself a little break from her. I started folding the laundry, rather aggressively, when I heard Amber singing in their bedroom, "Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up if something goes wrong."

I thought, "Wow, God, you'll even use my stubborn little daughter to teach me a lesson in perseverance with her." Maybe things will get better today.

A few minutes later, Amber walked into the living room and said, with sincerity, "You started the laundry without me. Thank you, Mommy!" We folded the rest of the clothes and put them away. Then my sister-in-law, Amy, called from Canada and I got to talk to her for 30 minutes with few interruptions from my children. Wow! Maybe things will get better today!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Full Service

This morning, after I dropped Amber off at preschool, I noticed that my car was on empty, so I pulled into the nearest gas station, the 76 station across from Vons. I get my gasoline there occasionally when my car is on empty and I've just left the preschool. It is one of the few gas stations left in this area (maybe the only one) with a full service pump, but I always pull up to the self serve side. Every time I get out of my car, the very nice gentleman (I think I should ask him his name next time) is already over at my car and ready to pump my gas. I give him my money or run my credit card and he does the rest! He even washes my windows until they sparkle! All for the price of self serve! Now I know I could go into downtown Ojai or up to Oak View to get cheaper gasoline, but it's worth it to me to pay a few extra cents per gallon to not have top pump my own gasoline (not to mention that I might run out of gas by the time I reach Oak View!). And the gentleman always smiles these wide smiles that tell me that he really enjoys his job and likes to see me smile back and him and thank him through my clean, sparkling windows. Full service at self service prices...it's just unheard of these days.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn's First Rain

Last Friday we experienced the first rain of the season. It was quite unusual because we hardly ever get rain this early in the fall. It was also the first time Autumn Brooke really experienced the rain (last year she was still a baby).

Earlier in the day, Eric had told Amber that it might rain that afternoon. She could hardly wait! Off and on all day, she would ask me, "Is it raining yet?" She was so eager to try out her new 99 cent umbrella (what a deal!). A few minutes before 4 p.m., the rain came, and it poured down fast. Everything was wet in just a few minutes. Amber was in her room playing, with the shade drawn, so I thought I'd surprise her. I got Autumn dressed in her rain coat and boots, and yelled down the hallway for Amber to put on jeans and socks. At first she protested, and then I told her to look out her window. We were out the door in seconds!

Amber was excited to show Autumn how to splash in the puddles. We all had a great walk in the rain! Autumn enjoyed it immensely, even though she couldn't figure out how to hold up the umbrella the whole time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Football, Again!

Okay, so I think I like football more than I thought...high school and college football, that is. Some of my favorite movies are about football: Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, Facing the Giants. And the sitcom, Coach, is one of my faves.

Today I was finishing up watching Facing the Giants (It's rare that I see a movie in it's entirety in one sitting, unless I'm at the theatres.) Anyway, Autumn and Amber were watching it with me, and I discovered that Autumn really likes football. I'll have to take her to the Nordhoff games. When the players would collide, Autumn would throw herself down on the floor, acting like she was tackled. And when the kicker scored a field goal, Autumn threw her sippy cup across the room. (She's got a good throw, too!)

I had to explain a few things to Amber, though...like the fact that the players are supposed to hit each other...and the coaches are supposed to yell a lot...and that the main goal of football is to win the game. Then she started asking me how the game is played. I started to explain it to her and got a few words out before I realized that I didn't even know how the game is played.

We finished watching the movie and I was crying and the actors in the movie were crying and then I had to explain to Amber and Autumn that it was a happy cry and that Mommy was okay. No matter how many times I watch the movie Facing the Giants I always cry my way through it. It's not the greatest movie, as far as Hollywood goes. Actually it was independently funded and filmed and the actors aren't even real actors. They're all members of this big church somewhere in the south. But it's still a great movie. If you can get past the first 45 minutes of bad acting, it draws you in and has an awesome message of faith that I think all of us need to hear every once in a while. The bonus features are cool, too, because they explain who the "actors" are: the football coach is a real coach. The announcer is a real announcer. The teachers are real teachers, etc. Anyway, it's worth viewing.

So, now that my eyes are puffy, I think I'll go see when the next Nordhoff home game is, because I think I really like football.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Autumn

I just love the fall season! (You thought I was going to post about my daughter, Autumn, didn't you?!)

Now I know it's not officially fall until September 23, but it just feels like fall today. It's a little more gloomy outside--not gloomy in a bad way, though. There's a small, cool breeze tickling the trees. I got to wear jeans today--my favorite article of clothing. And I got to dress my daughters in jeans. I just love jeans on little kids! As I was putting a hoodie on my 22-month-old, I just got all happy inside...like I was "one with the world" and it was going to be a great day!

Yes, fall is definitely my favorite time of the year, for several reasons. My woman's Bible study is in full swing after an extremely long summer break! The weather is cooler! I get to decorate the house with pumpkins and leaves and cute little scarecrows! I can finally light candles and fill the living room with the scent of pumpkin pie! My birthday in in the fall! So is Halloween and Thanksgiving and almost Christmas. (I decorate my house for Christmas at the end of November, so it technically fits into the fall category)!

I know this cold front is only temporary and it will be hot again next week, but while it lasts, I'm lovin' it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Documentary of Eric

I get to post my first video on my blog...but it's not about me, or even my kids. Below is a link to a video, a documentary that our friend made of Eric and his mobile automotive business. Our friend, Greg, works at Brooks Institute of Photography and did this video for the students to see. I hope you enjoy it. It's only five minutes long.

While watching the video, I laughed when I saw Eric writing in his daytimer with one of my flower pens that I made. He's been using my flower pens for years. When I first approached him about using such a girly pen for such a manly job (there go the roles again--see previous blog), he said that he liked them because they are hard to lose, and his customers always comment on how nice they are.

As I continued to watch the video, I started to cry. I am so proud of my husband...his work ethic...his generosity...his Christ-like attitude. Well, you'll just have to watch the video to see what I'm talking about. Then let me know what you think.

http://www.zinkwazi.com/wp/2007/09/16/eric-hodge/

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Roles

The other day Amber was coloring in her coloring book and asked, "Is Elmo a boy or a girl?" I said, "A boy." She said,"But he has a flower and flowers are for girls."
Where did she learn that? We sure have clearly defined the roles of men and women.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Community

While our neighbor was painting our house a few months ago, his little daughter, Natalie, came over to watch him paint. My girls were asleep, so Natalie busied herself with the toys in the back yard and started riding Amber's bicycle. As I looked out the back window, I thought, "How cute. I'm glad she's riding the bike." Then Natalie zoomed around the corner and disappeared, and I thought, "Well, I hope she doesn't think she can keep Amber's bike!"

Yikes! Where did that though come from? It certainly isn't the mindset I want to have. Rather, I want to have a giving mindset and a heart that is open to sharing my things (really, God's things) with others. That really is where my heart is, so why do I sometimes slip back into the "mine" mentality? I think it's because I was (as we all were) born that way--with a selfish heart--and society has done a lot to reinforce that selfish thinking.

I am trying to combat my natural selfish tendency by reminding myself that everything I own is God's anyway and I need to share what I have with others. I want to live in community with those around me, especially my neighbors. Recently we hung up a tire/disc swing in the front yard and it was my desire to see everyone in the neighborhood use it, and to show my daughter, Amber, firsthand about community. The first people that walked by the swing while we were all out front, were complete strangers--a family out on an evening walk. But we invited them into our yard anyway. Eric pushed the little girl on the swing and we told them they could swing on it and play on the slide in our front yard anytime. I thought to my self, "Now this is community. This is what I long for in a world of "ours verses theirs."

The swing has brought us much closer to the two young families that live next door. Many evenings, the "girls" (as Amber calls them) come over after supper to take turns on the swing and play with Autumn on the slide. Eric and I spent hours outside one night just pushing the girls and playing the freeze game and having so much fun until it was too dark to see ourselves. It reminded me of the neighborhood I grew up in--a street that came alive with kids after supper time playing baseball, tag, marbles and riding big wheels. I think some neighborhoods have gotten away from that and I was so happy to "bring it back" to our street.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Love Weddings!

Last night we attended another wedding! In the past few years we've gone to several weddings of former youth group students we worked with. It's so neat to see these young couples pledge their pure love to one another, and then see them later on down the road serving the Lord together. It's one of the few times we see the positive results of working with teen-agers. And it's very rewarding.
In a beautiful outdoor setting, we watched Tim & Nicki exchange vows. We've known Tim since he was in junior high; in fact he was one of the first students we worked with as new youth leaders more than 10 years ago! We've only known Nicki for a few years, but she stole our daughter's heart when she was Amber's preschool teacher last year. Amber just adores her Miss Nicki!

After the ceremony, we ate a delicious dinner of tri tip and barbecued chicken (I love Southern California weddings!) and danced and ate cake and had a wonderful time! I think it's funny that we have to go to a wedding to get in a good dance now and then. Our daughters couldn't wait to get out on the dance floor, and Autumn--our little Happy Feet--made us all laugh with her fancy footwork!
I love weddings!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Football?

I'm not really what you would call a football fan (okay, I'm not a football fan at all). But I do enjoy watching high school and college football, if you can call what I do at games "watching." I think I attended every single home game at the University of Arizona during the five years I attended school. I had season tickets every year, sometimes on the 50 yard line (I'm told that's a good spot to sit). And yet, I still know very little about the sport. I do know that the players have four chances to get a first down and that they must go 10 yards to achieve that. I know that you get six points for a touchdown and can score another one or three points...okay, I just lost myself. That's the extent of my football knowledge. So, what did I do at all those games, you ask? Well, I did what I'm very good at: talking. I talked to my friends Jennifer and Michele during every game, every year, for five years. I cheered when everyone else cheered and I stood up and jingled my keys when everyone else did (I think it was for each kickoff). And I loved every minute of it!

Tonight I went to the first home football game at Nordhoff High School in Ojai. Eric is out of town and I got a babysitter and met my friend, Danielle, and her family and we "watched" the game together. It was so much fun, first of all because I got to get in free and sit in the bleachers right beneath the announcer's box. Every time Nordhoff scored a touchdown, someone would throw candy into the stands, and I had the primo spot for catching it. I ate so many "extreme sour warheads" that I am sick! (I haven't eaten them in years!) It also was fun because I got to go down to the field after the game and meet Danielle's dad, the head coach. I felt so important (when in actuality, anyone probably could have gone down there). We scored four touchdowns (I think) and I didn't actually see one of them. Why? Because I was talking Danielle's ear off. I haven't had that much fun since...well, since Jennifer and Michele and I watched Arizona football together.

Oh, we won, by the way. I think the score was 30-14. But I wasn't paying attention.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Snippets

Since I didn’t blog at all last week, I thought I’d just offer you some snippets of life at the Hodge Lodge these past few days.

Not Too Hot to Trot: On the hottest day of the week last week (and perhaps the hottest day I’ve experienced in my 11 years in Ojai) I saw one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. It was 110 degrees outside (in the shade) and the hottest part of the day. I just happened to look outside my kitchen window to see a woman power-walking. She was covered from head to toe in clothes. Long sweat pants and a long-sleeved fleese hoodie–with the hood on! I saw her again a few days later, wearing the same outfit! Maybe she was avoiding the spa and creating her own personal sauna. All I know is that looking at her made me feel even hotter than I already was!

Pop Goes the Goosebumps: Somehow, during the hot spell last week, Amber was cold for a brief moment. I said, "You have goosebumps." She said, "Mommy please don’t pop them!" (Thinking they were zits!)

Rules for the Road: We were leaving the house to take the girls to their babysitter, when Amber started telling her imaginary friends–Rhea and Gracie–the rules they had to keep while at the babysitter’s home. She said. "No fighting. No taking toys from the dog. No eating the turtle’s broccoli." I didn’t know they had a turtle?

Cooking with Christine: My good friend, Gina, and I had a blast preparing and assembling more than a dozen meals at Dream Dinners in Ventura. She wrote all about it in her blog:http://onceuponatimeisnow.blogspot.com/ Check it out for the full story, and more pictures.

The Harvest is Plentiful: Amber picked 55 cherry tomatoes from her tomato patch today. It’s her own garden she planted with her grandpa Hodge. She waters it and takes care of it all by herself (which is good, because I have an extremely black thumb and might sabotage the whole project with just one look).

Lights, Camera, Action: Eric’s friend Greg–who works at Brooks Institute of Photography–did a documentary today on Eric and his mobile mechanic business. This is the second time someone has done a documentary on Eric (Jeff Frazee did one a few years ago). No one has ever wanted to do a documentary on my life as a stay-at-home-mom. Hmmm...now that would be a story!!!

Go Fish!

Yikes! After my week-long fast, I just finished reading about 30 blog posts, and commenting on almost all of them. (I just love to "dialog," even if it is through cyberspace). It took me about an hour. And now I am ready to post some funny things that happened last week while we were playing a game as a family.

Last Wednesday evening, Eric, Amber and I were playing the Go Fish card game.
Eric said, "Christine, do you have a brown starfish?"
I said, "No."
Amber said, "I do," and held it up.

During another game, Eric asked Amber, "Do you have a, um," and then he paused.
Amber finished his sentence, "A blue marlin?"
Eric said, "Yes, Amber, do you have a blue marlin?"
Amber handed it over.
And she still wins almost every game!

Amber won another game (as usual) and she stood up and did a victory dance and said, "Ha ha ha ha ha!"
Eric said, "Amber, you shouldn't laugh when you win."
I said, "Why not? I do."
Everyone laughed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Results of My Media Fast

My "media fast" ended last night, but the funny thing was that I thought it ended tonight. So, I am excited to post this blog, and read all my friend’s blogs on Google Reader today!

I picked perhaps the worst week in the entire year to do a media fast, as it was over 110 degrees each day in Ojai (one day it was 117 degrees in the shade outside our home!) Our swamp cooler just didn’t do its job last week, so our home stayed a hot 85+ degrees inside all day. All I wanted to do was watch a movie or go on the computer, in fact that’s about all a person could do. Housework was out of the question because any slight movement would raise my internal temperature. Going to the park or running errands was unheard of! But, I am a person who likes to finish what I started, so I plugged along with my media fast.

Instead of watching movies, in the evenings I read a book and magazines, scrapbooked and made Christmas cards. Eric read books (he didn’t do any crafts!)

The girls were great about not watching videos all week. My 4-year-old, Amber, was the one who surprised me the most. She only asked a few times to watch a video, and when I reminded her of our fast, she said, "Okay." I have to admit, with the house being so hot, I would have loved to stick the girls in front of a T.V. all day! But instead, we put together puzzles and did more involved crafts that we normally wouldn’t do (rubber stamping on cards, decorating picture frames, scrapbooking).

The hardest part of the fast for me was not being able to post blogs about my cute kids and family happenings. We played a game as a family one night and some funny things happened and I wanted to blog about it, but I wrote it down on a piece of paper to blog about later (tomorrow’s blog).

Surprisingly, I didn’t mind at all not being able to watch videos. The book I was reading was so captivating that I looked forward to reading it every night. I didn’t finish it, though, so I’ll have to discipline myself to watch a little less videos this week until I finish it.

However, when I realized last night that my fast was over, I was so excited to watch a movie! (I thought it was pathetic that I would be that excited.) I got a beverage for Eric and I and we sat down and watched "One Night With the King." I had never watched it before. It was so romantic!

Other things I wanted to do last week but couldn’t: Google a new store I heard about in Ventura. Print out a few pictures for my scrapbook. Look on Amazon for a book for my mother-in-law.

The funniest thing that happened as a result of my media fast: Just two days after I started the fast, Eric’s dad asked me to print out some pictures I had taken of him and his first yellowtail he speared. I really didn’t want to because of my fast, but he was in town and wanted to show them to a friend. So, I snuck into the office while the girls were in the living room playing. Amber walked in the office and caught me and said something like, "Hey mommy, you’re not supposed to be on the computer." I literally jumped. I felt like I had been caught and I had to explain to Amber that grandpa made me do it.

Well, my media fast is over, so you'll be hearing a lot more from me now. Yay!