Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat!

Wow! This Halloween was packed-full of activities for us. Between birthdays and parties and trick-or-treating, we've been busy these past few weeks! Here's some snippets and pictures of our fun-filled holiday...

Train Ride to the Pumpkin Patch with Amber's preschool: I'm not sure who had more fun, me or the kids!

Pirates of the Caribbean: I threw myself a "Pirates of the Caribbean" costume party for my 38th birthday. Then, two days later we did the same thing for the Young Life teens at our house. I was Capt. Jack Sparrow and Eric was Will Turner. We really got into the theme of things and everyone had a great time!
Trick-or-treating and passing out candy: For the first time ever, Eric and I stayed home and passed out candy on Halloween. When we were first married, we lived on an apricot orchard in a guest house not visible to the public. Then we moved to another hidden guest house. Then we started going to the Harvest Festival at church. But this year we stayed home and I passed out candy while Eric took the girls around the neighborhood getting their own loot. It was so much fun! We had a lot of teens come to the house, which I love, and we got to know our neighbors a bit more. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October Happenings

Has it really been 1 1/2 weeks since I posted a blog?! I have been quite busy lately. It's probably been the most busy month I've seen in awhile, and it's not even over.

It's my birthday month, along with several other friends and family members, which has kept me busy wrapping gifts and mailing cards (I love birthdays...everybody's). And last week was the first Young Life event with the teen-agers...bowling night! (Eric and I are Young Life leaders now--I'll post about that soon.)

Then there's Halloween coming up...Amber & Autumn are going to be Tigger & Pooh. And preschool pictures are in a few days. Also, I've reintroduced myself to the world of print journalism. I've have two long articles (and one picture, of Eric) printed in our local newspaper, with my byline. The stories are features about what the Christian community is doing for people around them, locally and globally. I'm going to write another story next week, too. It's hard to get anything printed in the Ojai Valley News, so I was jazzed for awhile...still am.

Oh, and I can't forget last weekend...I scrapbooked for two whole days with my girlfriends! Eric watched the girls. It was awesome, and I almost completed an entire scrapbook! So, that's what I've been up to. What's new in your corner of the world?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top Ten Things To Do Before I Die

One of my friends recently posted on her blog some things she wanted to accomplish in the next year, and some of them were steep! So that prompted me to post my list of things I want to do before I die. Some of them will most likely never be accomplished, like #4 , but they're staying on my list...who knows! I made this list 5 years ago in my journal. (By the way, when I die, I hope someone reads my journals.) Okay, so here it is...

Top Ten Things I Want To Do Before I Die (not necessarily in order):

1.) See a bear in the wild. (remember I'm a big city girl)
2.) Milk a real cow. (there's a story behind that one...maybe for another post)
3.) Learn to play the drums.
4.) Sing as a background singer for Steven Curtis Chapman or Michael W. Smith. (just once)
5.) Publish a book that I wrote. (I have self-published two poetry books, but that doesn't count.)
6.) Catch or spear a marlin.
7.) Meet either Chuck Swindoll or Janette Oke, my favorite authors. (Now I would probably change this one to something more exciting, like taking fencing lessons.)
8.) Get my pilot's licence.
9.) Fly in a helicopter. (I think I've flown in just about every other machine, except a blimp.)
10.) Go back to Belgium, or go to Scotland. (where my dad's heritage lies)

When I wrote this list, I had already started taking up skydiving, or it would have been on the list, too. I was tempted to put it on the list and then cross it out. He He!!

So, those of you who have blogs, I want to see your list on your blog. If you don't have a list, make one. It's fun and I've always been an advocate for dreaming, even if some of your dreams never come true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gardening?

I've often heard the phrases, "Life began in a garden" and "God is closest in a garden" and blah blah blah!

So, now you know how I feel about gardening. I have never been good at gardening. I have an extremely black thumb. All I have to do is look at some living green thing (I'm not talking about moldy cheese) and it shrivels up and dies. You don't believe me? Just last month my friend, Nadine, told me to take home her potted basil. She said it would go well with my tomatoes and she wanted me to have it. I refused. I told her that it would die in my care. But she insisted. I brought it home, and even watered it, and in two days...TWO DAYS...it was brown. Not a speck of green could be found on that plant. Then there's the times that Amber has brought home little plastic cups of who-knows-what, only to have them sprout up out of the soil and then wither as soon as they saw whose home they were in!

My father-in-law, on the other hand, is the Plant Whisperer. All he has to do is walk by a plant and it stands at attention and immediately produces fruit or veggies or flowers, even in the off-season. I'm not kidding. Papa is the reason our tomato plant is still alive and producing yummy tomatoes. The garden is his and Amber's garden. In the beginning, when they planted the tomatoes, I told him that I wanted nothing to do with it. I told him that it was not good for my self-esteem to see one more plant die on my watch.

So, why am I telling you this? Today I was fuming after yet another battle with my oldest to get her to eat her food. I called my friend, Gina, and she told me that a walk outside in the fresh air helps her calm down. So I decided to go outside and pick some fruit. I picked a few remaining tomatoes and some pomegranates and some beautiful roses. It did help, and I thought to myself, "Maybe there's something to this gardening thing. I think I understand what all those women are talking about when they wax eloquent about getting back to nature." I decided to pull a few vines away from the roses that they had wrapped themselves around. And then...OUCH...I stabbed myself on a thorn! Then another. Then my arms started to itch from rubbing against the scratchy vines. Then I started cursing those women who find gardening such a joy. "Oh, forget this!" I thought, and went inside to put the flowers in water. You see, I'm just not cut out to be a gardener. I never have been, and I never will be. And I'm okay with that. Now I need to go wash the scratchies off my arms!

P.S. I took a picture of what I gathered in the garden, before the flowers wither and the tomatoes go bad! I don't think I can sabotage pomegranates, but you never know!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fire Safety

*** Okay, another one about Amber (you don't have to read them, you know!) I'm not sure where I'd get half my blogging material if it weren't for my girls! ***

So, the other day I was going through a fire safety book with Amber. Our conversation went like this:

Mommy: Amber, you are never to play with matches.
Amber: I know, Mommy, unless we're playing "Go Fish."
Mommy: No, Amber, you are NEVER to play with matches!
Amber (exasperated): I know, I know, Mommy, unless we're playing "Go Fish."
(Okay, so some of you have caught on by now, but I was still clueless.)
Mommy: NO, Amber, you are NEVER EVER to play with matches!!
Amber: Yes, but what if we're playing "Go Fish" and I get a match, then we're allowed, right?

She is too smart!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Price is Right

I left Ojai this morning at 9:30 and headed for Hollywood to be a contestant on the Price is Right. CBS invited the ladies from Curves in Ojai and Oak View to be a part of the studio audience and have a chance to be on stage with Drew Carey, the new host. Before I share with you my exciting adventure, I'll answer the question that is on all of your minds...no, my name was not picked. I did not hear those magical words, "Christine Hodge, Come on down. You're the next contestant on the Price is Right." I did not get to hug Drew Carey (thank goodness!). I did not win a new car and I did not win the Showcase Showdown. But I did have a blast!

We arrived at CBS Television City at noon, registered and then ate our sack lunches that we brought. Then we waited. First, we waited for a seat on the long, uncomfortable benches. Then we waited for the people with the red coats (pages) to bring us little pink papers to record our name and ss# (in case we win). Then we waited for the pages to bring us our nametags. Then we waited to be interviewed. Ah, now it's getting interesting.

Contestants on the Price is Right are not just randomly picked out of a hat. Anyone who wants to be on the show, must be interviewed. Well, it's not as glamorous as you'd think. This is how the interview process went...We lined up in groups of 12 and one of the producers asked us where we were from and what we did for a living. I said, "I'm a stay-at-home mom to two preschool girls and I work with teen-agers." Well, my job must not have been as exciting as the health inspector, train conductor, pediatric nurse and house manager who actually got to go on stage and try to win prizes. None of us in our group could figure out just how they choose the contestants. We thought they chose the most enthusiastic people, but in the interview process, there was never a chance to show your enthusiasm. The selection process is rigged, we just couldn't figure out how!

Once we were interviewed, we started the waiting process again. We waited in a long line to go through security and we waited on those hard benches again to go into the studio. While we were waiting, we had fun chatting with the people around us and commenting on everyone's names, since we all could see each-other's name tags. You had to use your full, legal birth name on your name tag. One big, biker-type man's name was Harmony.

Then, at almost 4:00 (four hours later) we were led into the studio where the fun really began! First of all, they do some major trick photography when they air the Price is Right because the studio is very small. It's smaller than my church sanctuary. Seriously. And the set looks like it's the same set they used more than 30 years ago, although I understand it's been revamped. The audience is less than 200 people. (I was number 96, btw) We got to sit in the middle and the camera was on us a lot, so I'm sure we'll be seen in the audience when the show is aired. And there were at least a dozen crew members on stage the whole time. It's amazing that you don't see them when the show is aired!

After a few instructions, they called out the first four contestants. One woman's name was Kay-Anne Pepper (like cayenne pepper). No wonder she was chosen! A guy two seats down from us was called and a guy (Freddie) directly behind us was called. He actually won $37,000 worth of total prizes, including the Showcase Showdown. When they call the names, the contestants only have to run a few feet down to the stage, yet they make it look so much longer when you see it on T.V. One guy was so excited, he tripped and fell on his way down, and we had to wait while the on-site EMT cleaned his scraped elbow. He ended up winning something.

The first item they bid on was an iphone. I would have won because my friend just bought one and I knew the price. I guessed $795 from my seat, and the total retail value was $798. I should've been on the show!

Drew Carey was very funny. He cracked jokes and made fun of the contestants when the cameras weren't rolling. It was like we got to see a free Drew Carey Show. He sang and almost danced. He was very entertaining. He makes a good host!

Even though the show is taped live, it isn't aired live, so they actually do things over if they're not good enough. They re-taped one of the contestants' husbands shouting out prices to her. They asked him to get all excited again and shout out numbers to her as they zoomed the cameras in on him. And the announcer had to re-announce products. It's all rigged! I wasn't surprised.

Well, I had a blast even if I didn't get on the show. On the way home, we drove down Hollywood Blvd. and I saw the stars on the sidewalk and the Pantages Theatre (from the moving car). We got home at 9:30 p.m. I am tired, but too wound up to go to sleep.

If you want to watch me in the audience, the show is #4081-K. Go to cbs.com and click the Price is Right to see the air date. It won't be available for a few days. If you do watch the show. I'm wearing red and white.

P.S. We couldn't take cameras into the studio, so all I have are a few pics I took from the car.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On Being a Mom

This post is not nearly as engaging as yesterday's, but here goes...

My youngest daughter is in the "tearing up books and magazines" stage. I do not like this stage in a toddler's life because I love the written word and treasure books. So, lately I feel like I should open a children's book repair business because I've gotten quite good at it.

Speaking of repairs, my oldest daughter came up to me the other day with her play watch that was damaged and said, "Mommy, can you fix my watch so I can sell time?" Oh, I wish she could sell time because these days I'd gladly buy some more!