Sunday, December 30, 2007

Success!

I just finished super-gluing four damaged ornaments and I did not get one drop of superglue on my fingers or hands! They're drying, so I have to resist the urge to check on them right now. (See my original Superglue story for some laughs.)

In other news, today Amber and I were pretending we were friends getting together at Starbucks. We were "ordering" our drinks, and Amber said with confidence, "I'll have a Decaf Mocha with caffeine and coffee in it." Sometimes she's just too darn cute!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Days After Christmas

Well, it's three days after Christmas and I only have two presents under the tree to give away (to a friend and a babysitter). Not bad. We had a wonderful Christmas; Eric's parents came to our house from Santa Barbara with almost the entire lunch, a simple chicken dinner. We opened gifts first, went on a walk around the neighborhood and then had lunch. After lunch, while Autumn took a nap, so did everyone else but me and Amber. We went outside to see the neighbor girls. One of my favorite things about Christmas day is going outside and seeing everyone playing with their gifts. The girls next door got new bikes and our neighbor across the street (the dad) got a radio controlled helicopter. It was fun watching him get the thing going in the air and then see it crash into the bushes! "It's not as easy as it looks," he yelled to me. I think some of the best gifts to give kids (and adults) are the ones that get them OUTSIDE of the house, like bikes and skateboards and surfboards and radio-controlled cars and jump ropes and sidewalk chalk. I gave Eric a bocce ball set and after everyone finished napping, we went to the park to play bocce ball. When it was too dark to see the ball, we went back to the house to eat leftovers from lunch. It was such a fun and mellow Christmas!

Yesterday I took the girls and my friend, Laurisa, and her little boy to Ventura to my favorite place to shop after Christmas: Target. The sales are awesome, and I saved so much money and didn't spend over $40. It was fun shopping with a good friend. The kids were so well-behaved. (Why can't they be like that when it's just them and me?) Amid the half-price Christmas stuff, the employees were setting out Valentine's Day decorations. That used to really annoy me, but now it doesn't bother me at all. I mean, how can I expect Target--a major corporation--to do anything but what they're designed to do: sell stuff!

Anyway, after spending hours in Target just taking our time (it was so nice to not have to rush), we went to McDonald's and then to Michael's so I could buy plain paper bags with handles to decorate for next year. I saw this idea where you take the front of old Christmas cards and glue them on plain brown or white paper bags and add pompoms or pipe cleaners for decoration. They make such cute Christmas gift bags.

While we were at Michael's, Amber and Wences had fun taking the marked-down ornaments off the rack and decorating one of the artificial trees with them. As we drove home, Autumn gave Wences a bloody nose when she stuck her finger up his nostril. Yikes! It was hard to keep from laughing about my shy little two-year-old giving an almost-6-year-old a bloody nose!

It was a fun Christmas season at the Hodge Lodge. I'd love to hear about yours!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

- Luke 2:1-20

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lights, Cookies, Caroling!!!

We have had a lot of fun this Christmas just staying close to home. Here's a few things we've done lately, some new and old traditions!

LIGHTS: Every year--even before we had kids--we've gone driving around Ojai looking at Christmas lights. One year before the girls were born, Eric blindfolded me and took me on a drive. I had no idea where we were going. He drove down Burnham Road in Ojai, pulled over and untied my blindfold. I opened my eyes to see several houses decorated with lights. I will never forget that wonderful memory!

Speaking of not knowing where I was going, a few days ago--as we set out as a family to look at lights--I decided to drive the car so I wouldn't get a headache with all of the winding and sudden stops. I had a specific route in mind and asked Eric if he would just let me drive the car and not comment on my driving or where we were going. He obliged. We made our way down La Luna to Lomita to El Roblar and eventually to the most brightly decorated house in downtown Ojai (on Ventura St. near Grand). The girls loved getting out of the car and spending time looking at the display. Then we headed to Drown Street where there were two more big displays. Then back to Grand Avenue and down toward all of the houses behind Vons. I kept driving and driving and finally--rather timidly--Eric said, "So, where are we headed next?" I said, "To the houses behind Vons." He said, "Oh, because we just passed Gridley Road." For those out-of-towners, I was driving away--far away--from my destination. I said to Eric, "Why did you wait so long to tell me I was going the wrong way ?" He said, "Because you asked me to not say anything about your driving."

COOKIES: This year I decided to get out the cookie cutters (for something other than pretend play) for the first time since Amber was born. I have been somewhat intimidated by the thought of making cutout sugar cookies with the girls, and for good reason. But I could not avoid it any longer if I was going to start making Christmas memories with the girls in the kitchen. So we got out the cookbook, flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, cream of tarter, vanilla and almond extracts and made the dough. Then we got out the rolling pins, cookie cutters and sprinkles and started to cut out shapes.

I was already exhausted from making the dough with two little girls, but I decided to press on. I put a handful of dough in front of each child and went to the kitchen to get more flour. I returned to the dining room just in time to see Autumn pour out the nonpareils sprinkles all over the table and floor! (Those little balls can bounce and travel far!) The rest of the time, you could hear me say things like, "Autumn, don't eat the dough!" And, "Amber, please wait for me to help you with that." And, "Autumn don't eat the dough!" And, "Oh Amber, I'm sorry your angel's head got cut off." And, "Autumn, don't eat the dough!" I'm convinced that cookie-making is a two-adult sport, at least in our household! I took lots and lots of pictures, just in case I never attempt this by myself again. In the end, Amber said, "Mommy that was SO MUCH fun!" I thought to myself, "You really think so? Even after all of the yelling and chaos?" Okay, maybe I will do this again next year. After all, I have 11 months to recuperate!

CAROLING: This morning we went Christmas caroling around Ojai with our church family. Some of us were on a horse-drawn carriage and some on bales of hay on a flatbed trailer. We drove through Ojai singing carols to those who were outside on a Sunday morning, and we stopped at a few nursing homes to sing to the residents (that was our main purpose). It was sheer joy to watch my girls and the other children go up to the seniors and hold their hands or give them a hug. It was even more joyous to see the delighted faces of the older ones in their wheelchairs. It was the most fun I've had at Christmastime in a long time!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who are you, and what have you done with my children?

This evening, as I was chopping the lettuce for our dinner salads, my two girls kept coming up to the cutting board and grabbing pieces of lettuce. Once, Amber grabbed a handful! Then, when I was chopping the broccoli, they started stealing pieces of it, also. No, they weren't hiding it somewhere in the dining room. They were eating it! And coming back for more! Now, they usually eat their veggies at dinner, but not with such vigor and vim (don't you love those two words together?). Anyway, I just stared at them and then asked out loud, "Are you two for real?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I will praise the Lord all my life

Yesterday was a bad day. I had received some very disappointing news. I was sad. Then I was mad. In the end I was just wiped out from all of the tears and emotions. The girls were both in rooms taking naps. Autumn was asleep in the girls' room and--definitely an act of God--Amber was actually sleeping in our room instead of just reading quietly. I got out my Bible.

Rule no. 1 when you are mad or sad: Read the Psalms. David had a hard life, and not always by choice. In every other psalm he writes about tragedy, betrayal, life-threatening situations and just really bad days. I started reading Psalm 136. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever..." Then I read on until I got to Psalm 146. "Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life. I will sing praises to God as long as I live." Then I stopped. I just stared at those words and then said to myself over and over, "I will praise the Lord all my life." I am so sad, but I will praise the Lord all my life. I am so mad, but I will praise the Lord all my life. I seriously felt so much more at peace, and that doesn't always happen when I read the Psalms. But it did yesterday. Then I ate a bowl of mint chip ice cream with homemade chocolate fudge sauce.

Rule no. 2 when you are mad or sad: Don't eat a huge bowl of sugar! Especially when you are going to go work out in 30 minutes! Yeah, I was sick to my stomach! But I had all the more incentive to go work out. My babysitter arrived a half hour later and I headed to Curves.

Rule no. 3 when you are mad or sad: Go work out! I recently found out that working out for at least 20 minutes everyday releases endorphins in your body that are natural pain killers. So, I went to Curves and did my 30-minute workout and chatted with the ladies there and had a wonderful time! On the way back, I felt like a new woman. And all the way home, I kept saying, "I will praise the Lord all my life."

Big Girl Bed

Sunday night, Autumn (2) graduated to a big girl bed! We took down the crib and put up a twin daybed that friends of ours gave us. She has done fine at night and not gotten out of bed. And she did well Monday and Tuesday during her nap. But today, she has gotten out of bed four times already to play in the room. Yikes! Oh, I have to go, I hear her playing in there AGAIN! Enjoy the pictures!
P.S. So, after going in the bedroom about seven times to tell Autumn to get back up in bed, I just checked on her. She's asleep at the end of the bed with her feet hanging over the side of the bed, as if she was going to get out of bed again, but fell asleep in the process! I would have taken a picture, but I'm afraid I'll wake her!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I love Christmas! It's my most favorite time of the year. Here are some random reasons I love Christmas...

I love giving gifts (my most favorite thing to do at Christmas-time)! I also love writing our Christmas letter and sending our family photo! I love peppermint mochas and candy sprinkles that look like Christmas trees! I love wrapping presents while listening to Amy Grant's Christmas Album! I love decorating every inch of my house! I love "the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree" with my husband and two girls! I love unwrapping the ornaments and reminiscing about who gave me each one! I love wearing tacky Christmas earrings (gingerbread men and bells and angels) that I wouldn't dream of wearing any other time of the year! I love the almost-cold weather and scarves and hats and mittens and a fire in the fireplace! I love red and green together with a splash of gold! I love making a list and checking it twice! I love white elephant gift exchanges and parties! I love putting out my nativity scene and telling the real Christmas story to my children! I love hanging the stockings by the chimney with care! I love my dad's famous fudge and my mom's almond sour-cream bread! I love all 10 of my Christmas cds! I love baking pumpkin bread for all of my neighbors! I love my cheesy fiber-optic wreath! I love taking the girls out looking at Christmas lights! I love singing Christmas carols and church musicals and preschool performances! I love watching Amber open presents because she thoroughly enjoys it! I love Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Family Vacation 2007


It's been three weeks since we went on our vacation and I am finally sitting down to blog about it. Eric took the girls out for ice cream, and so I have a few minutes to myself.

We drove up the coast to Cambria, a little town (smaller than Ojai) in Central California. We've vacationed there as a family or just the two of us for the past eight or more years, I think. We always stay at our favorite place, Cambria Pines Lodge. It was a fabulous week of relaxation, refreshment and fun. Here are a few highlights of the fun, funny and interesting things that happened:

* We celebrated two birthdays on vacation: Eric turned 32 on Monday and Autumn turned two on Friday. On Eric's birthday, we met a guy at the jacuzzi who was also celebrating his birthday. On Autumn's birthday, we met a little boy at the playground who was also celebrating his birthday. What are the odds?

* Amber had her first sleepwalking incident (that we know of) on vacation. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. one morning to Amber yelling, "Mommy, Daddy, I need help! I don't know where I am!" She was in the bathroom. I led her back to bed and she was out in less than 30 seconds! I used to sleepwalk. One time I walked out the front door!

* We got to watch me on the Price Is Right on Wednesday in the hotel room. You could see me in the studio audience several times. (BTW, Did anyone tape it for me?)

* Amber & I went on a "mommy date." We had lunch and a mocha/hot chocolate and then got pedicures at this over-priced salon. Amber had a flower painted on each big toe. Good thing we took pictures of her feet because later that day, all of the polish came off all but one of the toes after Eric took Amber swimming! She had such a good attitude and said to me, "Well, at least we have a picture of my toes."

* In out hotel room, we watched Arizona upset #2 ranked Oregon in an awesome football game (32 to 24). It was one of the best games I've watched on T.V. in a long time (okay, so my team won, and so we don't have cable, but it was still one of the best games I've seen!) Go Wildcats!

* During vacation, a woman at the salon said Amber was going to be a reporter, and then a man at the pool said Amber was going to be the first female president. Does our daughter have a strong personality, or what?!

* We discovered that Eric is the "Squirrel Whisperer" as he fed two fat squirrels out of his hands and petted one of them, at the beach.

* We went hiking, saw deer outside our hotel door, watched the elephant seals fight for their mates at Piedras Blancas beach, saw Zebras at San Simeon and Amber got to hold a monarch butterfly in her hands for a long time (maybe she's the "Butterfly Whisperer").

It was an awesome vacation!