Sunday, August 31, 2008

40 Years!

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part.

After church today, we drove to Santa Barbara to help Eric's parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! Forty years ago today, Robert and Myrna Hodge were married in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Forty years ago this October 13, another special couple were married in St. Louis, Missouri: my parents, George and Vivian Gow. Forty years. Forty years. Forty years. Just let that sink in for a minute...........

Forty years is a long time! It's a long time to stick by someone when sometimes they don't seem worthy of being stuck by. Forty years is a long time to sacrifice your desires for the sake of another person, or just to simple think of someone besides yourself. Forty years is a long time to stand beside someone who is not always pleasant, not always loving and not always in the best of health.

Eric and I have been married 12 years, and although we have had to make sacrifices for each other, we have not had to live out the "in sickness and in health" part of the vows we recited to each other on our wedding day. Both my parents and Eric's parents have put that vow to the test. My mother and mother-in-law are both breast cancer survivors. I have watched my dad, as well as Eric's dad, persevere through the dark days of their wife's cancer. Those men were by their wife's side in the hospital. They were by their side in the chemo room. They were by their side at home. And they were by their side when things did not look hopeful.

On the reverse, I have watched my mom and mother-in-law stick by their husbands through major surgeries and minor illnesses. "In sickness and in health" are not trite words to these couples. The are reality.

In the past few years I have seen couples divorce for a number of reasons, and it breaks my heart. But then I look at my parents and Eric's parents who have vowed to never ever let that sacred bond of marriage be broken, and I have hope. And I rejoice. And I celebrate.

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hodge and Mr. & Mrs. George Gow!

"So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matthew 19:6

George & Vivian

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ten Random Things About Me

I saw this in a friend's blog last year and have wanted to do this...

Ten random things you may not know about me:

1.) I was an extra in the 1980s movie, American Anthem. (If you look really, really, really, really, really, really hard, you can see me in the stadium crowd.)
2.) I'm a direct descendant of Geronimo. (A few of you knew that already.)
3.) I was in the 1996 swimsuit issue of Glamour Magazine. (I was NOT in a swimsuit, though. I was in an article with Eric about our upcoming wedding.)
4.) When I was 2-years-old (I think), I had stitches inside and outside my mouth for climbing up the back of a folding step-ladder. It folded on my mouth! I still have a faint scar.
5.) While we're talking about scars, I still have a pinhead-sized rock in my right knee from when I fell down the stairs at church as a child. (I was an active kid!)
6.) I can't whistle.
7.) I have an ugly toe. (Just one.)
8.) I met and had my picture taken with presidential candidate Sen. John McCain when I was in high school.
9.) I played intramural soccer for my dorm in college. I played right fullback. We were pretty good.
10.) In college, I completed line dance lessons and became a Dry Gulch Dancer, participating in line dance competitions at bars and county fairs. After college, I taught senior citizens how to line dance at a retirement home. One of the ladies wanted to call our group, "The End of the Line."

Okay, so I won't tag any of my blogger friends, but I'd love read your random facts when you get the time to blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School for Everyone!

Today was Autumn's first day of preschool, Amber's first day of kindergarten and my first day as a homeschool teacher! We all survived, and we all had a good day!

We started the day with a hearty breakfast (eggs & toast) and left at 8:00 a.m. to take Autumn to Noah's Ark Preschool. She attended six months last year, but this was her first day in a new class with new teachers, Miss Susi and Miss Megan. She did fine, and was happy when her good friend, Stella, walked in. Autumn didn't cry when I left and I didn't cry, either!

We returned home and straightened up the house until 9:00 and then started school. We are using Sing, Spell, Read & Write curriculum. We started with the Raceway song and the A to Z Phonics song, and then hit the books to work on writing her first and last name and the letter of the day: A. Amber practiced writing A in uppercase (which she has obviously mastered by now, her name beginning with A) and lowercase. Then she did a cut & paste page that helps refine her skill in using scissors. Then we played Sound-O Bingo (I sound out the letter and she finds it on her score card) and a letter pairs game similar to Go Fish. Then we sing the A to Z Phonics song again, and the day is over, before 11:00 a.m.!
We will work on one letter each day and then after 26 days, we will go to the second workbook, which focuses on vowels, vocabulary development, reading, grammar and manuscript writing. We are all very excited about this program! The only downside to homeschooling: I can't get the A to Z Phonics song out of my head!
P.S. We also joined a homeschool group, Sun Valley Educators, that does special events and field trips. Amber is also going to do gymnastics on Fridays for her sport. When Autumn isn't in preschool (M, W, F) she will color in a book and just learn right alongside Amber.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Dead Rat!

Believe it or not, we came home tonight after running some evening errands, and I walked into the house and said to Eric, "The smell is back!" We went around to the side of the house and there it was--another rat keeled over in the dirt right below the swamp cooler! Eric's theory: Our neighbor has put out rat poisoning, and the rats are dying and trying to find one last gulp of water, so they make their way to the swamp cooler, hoping to catch a drip of condensation and -- too late -- they take their last breath! What's your theory?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fire Drill

My 5-year-old, Amber, is the self-appointed Fire Drill Instructor for our church. When she was 2 years old, she pulled the fire drill in the sanctuary, setting off the alarm. Well, she did it again today. After church--when there were a few dozen people left talking in the sanctuary--Amber saw the thingy on the wall that you pull in case of a fire. I was standing nearby talking to Lea when I saw Amber's hand go for the lever. She asked, "Mommy, what's this?" not waiting for an answer. I yelled, "Amber, don't touch..." Too late! The alarm went off. I tried to push the lever back up, but all I did was make it look like I had set off the alarm because all eyes were on me and my hand at the scene of the crime. I stepped away from the alarm, pointed my fingers at my daughter and said, "She did it! I didn't do it! She did it!" Yes, I really ratted out my daughter in front of everyone. She didn't care. And it didn't matter anyway because no one "believed" me. They said they didn't see anyone near the lever except me. Jeez! I'm still getting blamed for things I didn't do! (Oh wait, I'm the youngest child in my family; I was never blamed for anything!)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The 1980s

I love the 80s! I loved the styles, the hair and especially the music. So I was way too excited when my friend Melissa invited me to an 80s girls night in. It was a blast listening to 80s music and looking at yearbooks and photos of my friends when they were in high school. Even though I didn't grow up in Ojai and I didn't know any of these gals when I was a teen-ager, it was fun looking through their yearbooks and reading all of the cheesy things people wrote inside. It was fun watching Laurisa and Debbie do the moonwalk, sprinkler and roger rabbit (no, we didn't breakdance)! It was fun saying things like, "Do you remember when..."

Here's some pictures of now...and then. I won the contest for the best 80s hair back then. Incidentally, I am going to my 20th high school reunion in Phoenix next month. Yay! I love the 80s!
Me, Melissa & Laurisa
My high school press pass. It took me an hour in
the bathroom and a lot of hairspray to achieve that look!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three Dead Rats

(sung to the tune of "Three Blind Mice")

Three Dead Rats,
Three Dead Rats,
Oh How They Stink,
Oh How They Stink,
Eric Had To Bag Them All Up,
Christine Was Very Grateful,
Now The House Smells Good Again,
Three Dead Rats,
Three Dead Rats.

Yes, Eric just bagged up three dead rats that had been causing quite a stink in our house. Now before you get too grossed out, the rats were not in the house. They laid their bodies to rest outside, right below the swamp cooler! Earlier today, I turned on the cooler, loaded up the kids in the car and went off to Amber's very long doctor's appointment. Hours later, I returned to the house, walked inside and--yuck--what is that smell?!

At first, I thought it was just a bad musty smell from the rain last night. So when Eric came home, I asked him to spray some car freshener into the cooler vent. That's when he discovered not one, not two, but three dead rats below the cooler. In a matter of minutes, the smell was gone. I am very grateful! I didn't ask Eric what he did with the rats. I don't want to know.

Thunder & Lightning

This morning I woke up at 2:15 to the sound of thunder. I opened my eyes to see lightning casting shadows in our bedroom. I got up and wandered into the living room, pulled back the shades, sat on the couch and looked out the window at the lightning dancing across the sky. In that moment, I was instantly a kid again.

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I vividly remember evenings of leaning over the back of the couch, looking out our big front window at lightning storms. We had thunder and lightning storms for days and weeks every year. It was a part of my childhood I fondly remember. I was never afraid of the booming thunder or flashes of light. It was as natural to me as a Goliath beetle is to a kid who grows up in the jungles of Africa. (Okay Heidi, I know that's a weak analogy.)

A few minutes later, Eric joined me in the living room and was fascinated with the storm.
"This is so cool," he said. "We never get this in Ojai!"

"We used to get these storms all the time in Phoenix," I told him as he walked out onto the front porch to get a better look at the lightning.

We sat on the couch and watched the storm together. The rain really started to pour and the power went off and on a few times. We saw lights on in our neighbor's house across the street. I guess we weren't the only ones watching the light show. It was awesome!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Catalina Island Trip

It's been almost a week since Eric and I returned from our vacation to Catalina Island and I'm just now sitting down to the computer to blog about it. When we returned, I hit the ground running with unpacking, laundry, housework, getting ready to homeschool and just spending time with my girls. Then I got a cold and that set me back further. So finally, here's some highlights of our trip...

Just The Two Of Us:
August 4-8, Eric and I got to go to Catalina Island on our 22-foot boat. This is the second year we've been able to do this by ourselves. This year, our daughters were watched by Eric's parents for 2 1/2 days and our friends, The Pedersons, for 2 1/2 days. We left Monday morning, trailering the boat to Los Angeles and launching it out of Cabrillo Harbor. It's only an hour boat ride to Catalina from there. We stayed there until Friday morning when we returned to L.A. and back to Ojai.

Eat, Sleep & Spearfish:
We lived on the boat while at Catalina, tied to a mooring buoy in Avalon Harbor. Each morning we woke up around 7:30, ate breakfast on the boat (yogurt & granola), drove the boat to a dive spot near the island, suited up and jumped in the water with our spear guns, no scuba tanks. We free-dived for a few hours, ate lunch on the boat (sandwiches) and dove a bit more before getting out of our wet suits and into regular clothes. After changing clothes, we'd pull the anchor and drive the boat back to the harbor, grab our backpack and hop into the little avon inflatable boat and Eric would row us on over to the dingy dock where we'd tie up and then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Avalon. We'd shop, eat ice cream at Big Olafs, read a book at the park and go out for a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant on the island, The Landing. We ate there almost every night.

Entertainment On The Island:
The first night we saw the new Mummy movie at the one-room theatre they have on Avalon. It was a good, entertaining movie. I like Brendan Fraser because he's not a big hot-shot movie star. He's funny. We also played miniature golf twice at the run-down but challenging course on the island. Eric won both times. (I recall winning last year, though, but who's keeping track?) It was so funny when we arrived at the golf course the second day to play another game and were right behind the same mother and daughter (Trish & Sierra) that we were behind the day before. They were such nice people and we practically played both games with them. It was fun to connect with strangers that way.

It's a Small World on Avalon:
We weren't on the island more than a few minutes the first day when we ran into the Dalto family, friends of ours from Ojai. Which Dalto, you may be asking? The entire family: Andy, Aaron, Brian, Tony, etc., etc. Tony told us that his grandparents have been coming to Avalon the first week in August every year for 100 years! Tony and his family have been coming for more than 25 years. The reunion includes 100 to 200 people each year! We ran into one or more of the Daltos every day we were on the island. We also saw our friends, Bob & Patty Howell. And in the harbor, we saw Eric's dive buddy from Santa Barbara, Brian Coreak. The world just kept getting smaller and smaller. We also saw former L.A. Lakers' star Vlade Divac. A few people were asking for his autograph as he walked around Avalon. Man is he tall!

We'll Deal With That Later:
One night, as Eric was rowing us back to the boat, one of the oars broke on the inflatable. A nice, but somewhat crabby man, in a much larger inflatable with a motor offered to tow us back to our boat. Here's the funny story: He sees us in our little boat by the dingy dock and asks, "Are you coming or going" because he wanted to tie up at the dock. I said, "We're going, but our oar broke." He said, "Come on, don't say that." I said, "It's true." He said, "Here, I'll take you back to your boat," and he starts to rig up an elaborate way to tie our lines together. Eric says, "Our boat is not that far away, I'll just hang on to your boat with my hands." So the man starts taking us to our boat. But we can tell he's in a hurry and he starts to drive his boat faster and our boat starts to fill with water. Eric says to him, "Sir, our boat is filling with water." With a wave of his hand, the man says, "We'll deal with that later." Eric thought, "Like when we're at the bottom of the ocean!" and he let go of the guy's boat. The man finally caught a clue and slowed down, and we arrived safely--and wet--at our boat!

The Ones That Got Away--And Didn't:
From the boat, we saw flying fish, a marlin, seals and dolphins. While diving we saw many different fish and Eric saw a black sea bass. In the end, Eric shot two yellowtail and I missed two yellowtail! Eric said it was a big deal that I even got a shot off, but I was pretty disappointed to not land anything. Oh well, there's always next year. I did have a great time with my sweetheart and a relaxing, rejuvenating week.

(Where are the pictures? Eric's camera broke before we even took one picture!)