Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Heavenly Man

I just finished reading a book that Eric's parents gave to us--The Heavenly Man: The remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun. It is an amazing book that I highly recommend reading. It opened my eyes to how persecuted Christians are in some parts of the world. This autobiography is not a downer; on the contrary, Yun has an amazing way of sharing how he was persecuted without getting caught up in the "glamour" of it. In everything he wrote, he lead me to the cross of Jesus. I emailed my friend who is a missionary in Thailand and told her about the book. She had already read it and asked me what I liked about it. Rather than write a book review, below is my response.

It obviously challenged me in my faith. Even though it detailed all of his beatings and imprisonment, I still ended each day/each chapter with a sense of love for God and a desire to do His will. The graphic details in the book never overtook the strong message: "to be in God's will is the BEST place for me and everyone."

I was challenged by his devotion to the Lord all the time.
I loved the part where he talks about serving your family because that is God's ministry He has given to those who have families.

What else did I like? I like how he said to not pray for persecution to end in China because persecution brings people to the Lord and keeps the ministry going. And I like that he said persecution in China comes in the form of imprisonment and in America it comes in the form of words (rumors, slander, etc). He also encouraged people to be in ministry where they are at (like Eric and I are doing with the lost teens of Ojai.)
So, that's what I like about the book.

(If you live nearby and want to borrow the book, let me know. You will be blessed indeed!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

What we've been up to...


The girls and I have been doing more crafts in the house lately. Two weeks ago it was because of the heat and not wanting to be outside in 110ยบ weather, then last week it was because of the pouring rain and winter-like weather. I've never seen such an extreme temperature twist in a all of my 12 years in Ojai. It was scorching one day and a few days later we had a torrential downpour, at least at our house. We made life-sized cutouts by tracing the girls' bodies onto butcher paper and decorating them with old clothes and curly ribbon, etc. We made quill pens out of large bird feathers we found outside and used real ink to write notes, like in "the olden days." It's hard to write using the tips of feathers! The girls, of course, took their first dip in the kiddie pool, too. And we rescued a baby bird who was stuck in the rose bushes and returned him to his parents, who were very happy to have him back. We were prepared to "adopt" the bird, but we discovered that it's a wives-tale that once a baby bird is touched by humans, the parents won't accept it back. The bird and his folks had a wonderful reunion. The last two pictures are of Amber--our little rocker--who turned an old keyboard into an electric guitar, and Eric who--after being out on the ocean all day--fell fast asleep in the recliner clutching the pillow that reads, A fisherman lives here with the catch of his life. I thought that was so cute!

What have you been up to? Have a great week!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sweet-Smelling Tot

Just a few minutes ago, I walked down the hallway toward the girls' room to check on Autumn (she was taking a nap). Usually when I round the corner, I smell a poopy diaper coming from the room (sorry for the gross details). Well today I smelled something sweet and fruity. It really smelled good and I immediately knew what was up. I opened the door and Autumn was sitting on her Amber's bed with Amber's Cinderella Grape Lip Balm in her hands, actually she was holding a container that used to house lip balm. The tube was empty and Autumn's bare feet, hands, face, two toys and part of the bedspread were covered in sweet-smelling grape lip balm! Amber and I had a deal that she could keep the lip balm in the drawer near her bed as long as Autumn did not get into it. Well I learned my lesson and in the future the lip balm will be hidden away on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet and Amber will only be allowed to use it when Autumn is asleep or away. (That was my original plan anyway.) I've cleaned up Autumn and the toys; now I must return to the bedroom to clean the bedspread. Maybe I can spot clean it and avoid doing another load of laundry. I have to look on the bright side of things: Autumn and the bedroom smell really good now!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And so we commence...

We started potty training Autumn last week, and tonight--for the first time--she went pee pee in the potty chair. YAY! Another journey begins...

On a different note, tonight Amber wanted to write words on a paper and was asking us how to spell things. We laughed when she asked us how to spell "dot com."

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Clean Corkboard

It sounds like a mystery novel, doesn't it. Or maybe a "how-to" book on organization. It's neither. It's just an empty little cork board. Remember my post a long time ago about my empty drawer? (which is still empty, by the way) Well, yesterday I got on an organizing kick (I know, it's a sickness) and decided to toss old paraphernalia and consolidate my three cork boards. Okay, I might as well just address that issue now...yes, I have three cork boards in my office. One is regular-sized and is for holding nothing other than cute little comic strips and old name tags and pins I never wear and stickers...things from my past that I can't part with but that I don't want to stuff into a shoe box or a drawer (even if I do have an empty one).

The second cork board is a huge one that I bought to be used for what cork boards are supposed to be used for--phone numbers on little pieces of paper, event fliers, school schedules, party invitations, little school pictures from relatives and an occasional newspaper clipping. I LOVE that cork board and it is well used.

The third cork board is a half-cork/half wipe-off board that I used when I was a Pampered Chef Consultant, which brings me to my story. Yesterday I cleaned it off and now it is empty and looking very sad next to my other filled-up boards. Now I have an empty drawer AND a clean cork board and the OCD person that lives inside me is disturbed. What will I do with a handful of push pins and nothing to push them into.

Yeah, I DO need serious help!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shapes

Today Autumn and I were playing with a shape sorter. I was naming all of the shapes and she was repeating them after me.

Me: Circle
Autumn: Circle

Me: Square
Autumn: Square

Me: Triangle
Autumn: Cryangle

Me: Star
Autumn: Star

Me: Parallelogram
Autumn: Yes

Friday, May 16, 2008

I love being a mom!

There's no catch, no hidden meaning behind my title. What I wrote is true. Lately I've had an overwhelming love for my daughters and a sense of peace and contentment for where I am in my life...motherhood.

This morning I called my friend Gina and told her, "I have something to tell you that may shock you. (pause for effect) I love being a mother!" Now the reason I called her and told her this is because I have on numerous occasions (sometimes daily) called Gina or other moms for help, to seek prayer or just vent about my children. Today I remembered the Bible verses that teach us to share the joys as well as the sorrows of life (if I stop to look up the verses, I'll never finish this post). Anyway, I called Gina to share my joys: Amber & Autumn.

Now there is nothing new about my girls that gave me an overwhelming sense of love for them. In fact, it's been a crazy week. (Remember my recent post One of those days?) But I still feel very joyful about motherhood. And I am still writing this post after discovering a few minutes ago that Autumn had written in ball-point pen all over all the couch cushions...our couch that we paid full price for and bought brand new two years ago...our couch that still looked like new until a few minutes ago...our couch that (oh, sorry, back to my story about loving motherhood).

So I've been loving on my kids more and just plain enjoying them and reveling in this feeling because I know it will fade, as all feelings do. But when the feeling fades, I'll look back on this story and smile. I'll keep loving my girls regardless of how I feel. And I will share both the frustrations and joys with you along the way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I feel old

That's not just a line from the first Pirates of the Caribbean, that's how I felt when I recently purchased a weekly pill box. I don't know why it took me so long to buy one. I love organization, and those boxes are very handy. I guess I put off purchasing one for so long because I equate those pill boxes with being old...not older, but old--and I don't want to be old or even look like I am aging! But I got tired of portioning out my multi-vitamin, my calcium, my allergy vitamins, the girls vitamins, the zinc for all of us... Anyway, I would set out the vitamins on separate napkins each night to save time in the morning. It did save time but I had to make sure my vitamins were out of reach of the girls. Now every morning I just have to open the little box of the day and pour out all of our vitamins and distribute them. It saves even more time and I really like it. When I bought the pill box, I opted for a "newer model" instead of the ones that say M, T, W... and I got one that is child-proof and still easy to open! But every time I use it, I feel old.

Animal Charades

Amber went to the Santa Barbara Zoo with her preschool Tuesday and that night she was trying to describe to us the animals she saw. The ones she couldn't remember she described with full body language.

Amber: It's like an otter but with a big puffed-up tail.
Us: A beaver?
Amber: That's it!

Amber: It's a big bird with feathers on his tail and big feathers on his back.
Us: A peacock?
Amber: Yes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One of those days...

Every once in awhile you just have to blog about those "less-than-perfect" days. Today was one of them. From 2:45 to 4:45 (in just two short--or shall I say "long"--hours), my girls have managed to do some serious getting into trouble that has created quite a bit of work for me.

First, Amber decided to feed her and her sister a snack without asking me. Had it been the Goldfish crackers or Cheerios, I wouldn't have minded, but Amber chose applesauce. When I came out of my office after working on our budget, Amber said in a cheerful voice, "I decided to give us a snack today so you wouldn't have to." What I had to do was clean up spilt applesauce and change the girls' clothes because their shirts were splattered with their snack.

The next thing they decided to do was get into the fresh olallaberries in the refrigerator, dripping berry juice all over the tile floor, their dresses and faces and hands. Autumn's hands in particular were completely pink. After cleaning the girls' off, having them change clothes AGAIN, spot cleaning the floor and wiping down the table and chairs, I returned to my office to finish addressing a birthday card for my nephew. Not long after that, I walked into the bathroom and into a big pile of water, or so I thought it was. Actually, Autumn had removed her diaper and peed all over the bathroom floor. Maybe she was attempting to potty train herself. Nonetheless, I had to mop that section of the tile floor and take off Autumn's dress. This time I decided to let her go topless. (I just did the girls' laundry and now I have another new pile to clean.)

The last thing that happened occurred while I was typing this...Amber and Natalie (our 7-year-old neighbor) bumped heads and Amber has a tiny bloody nose. Yikes!

Two things I am thankful for in all of this is that I did not lose my cool one bit today--I guess that book on "mommy anger issues" that I studied last summer paid off. And I am also thankful for Natalie playing here today. She is the one who alerted me to the girls' berry incident. She is the one who called me into the bathroom to show me the "water" on the floor and she put a new diaper on Autumn while I mopped. Okay, so she did put a baby doll diaper on Autumn at first (that was SO FUNNY) and she did accidentally give Amber a bloody nose, but she was still a real help.

There you have it...my "not-so-perfect" day. Actually, I've had much worse, but it was still fun to write about.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

After-Prom Party

Now that the Ojai Valley News finally ran my story yesterday on the After-Prom Party, I can put it on my blog. It happened two weeks ago, but it was such a neat event that I still wanted to blog about it. I was there all night as a chaperon, and it was a blast! So, if you live out of town (or don't get the paper), here's the unedited scoop:

Alcohol-Free After-Prom Party in Ojai
By Christine A. Hodge


About 115 Nordhoff High School juniors and seniors were found partying at The Village Jester and Ojai Playhouse Saturday night, and not one drop of alcohol was served.

Young Life Ojai, a youth outreach program, together with Ojai youth groups, hosted the event. Young Life rented The Village Jester and the Ojai Playhouse from 11 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m Sunday to host the free party for prom-goers. With help from a generous food donation from Jersey Mike’s Subs and many other businesses, the party was designed to give teen-agers a fun place to go without getting into some of the post-prom activities that might lead to unintended consequences, such as drunk driving arrests, fatalities and pregnancies.

"We wanted to give students a fun alternative after prom this year," said Danielle Sloneker, Director of Young Life Ojai. "It not only provided a safe place for students but also showed that you can have a great time without drinking or drugs."

There was a variety of activities for the students to participate in, including karaoke at the bar, My Space laptop stations, video games and a movie in the theater next door.

"Seeing two girls in their prom dresses standing on top of the bar singing karaoke at the top of their lungs, with a rowdy crowd behind them, having a great time with nobody was drinking alcohol, that really said it all," said John Hasbrouck, business owner and supporter of Young Life. Hasbrouck volunteered his time at the party.

Besides the entertainment and food, students also had the opportunity to get a free DVD/CD case engraved with their name, a "green screen" photo with their picture on the front of a magazine and a chance to win everything from gift certificates to a custom-made Cory Coffey Specialized-brand bicycle.

"It was totally awesome! I had tons of fun," said Dash Walczak, a junior at Nordhoff who won the bicycle. "I think everyone had fun. It was a really cool set up. There was a lot of different things to do. I hope it happens next year."

Nordhoff junior Nicole Collier gave it a "two thumbs up," as she displayed her thumbs in front of her prom dress. Junior Nick Biava also said he enjoyed the party. His favorite part was being with his friends. Many students said they enjoyed the free food and prizes.

"It was exciting," junior Tanner Starbard said. "I won three things!"

Many Ojai business donated gift certificates and clothing to be given away in a free raffle throughout the night. Sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s Subs, soft drinks, ice cream, and cookies were plentiful.

Leading the way, Jersey Mike’s Subs owner and Ojai resident Dan Burrell was eager to help with the After-Prom Party.

"We’re all about community and helping," he said. "I hope our participation will encourage other local businesses to do this type of thing." Jersey Mike’s Subs provided more than enough sandwiches to feed the entire crowd.

The Ojai Playhouse, which was under lobby renovation until a day before the event, generously provided an almost free rental of the theater, Hasbrouck said.

"The Ojai Playhouse was more than accommodating, adjusting their construction to meet our needs," said Ryan Smith, Associate Pastor of Youth at Ojai Valley Community Church.

When Jester owner Nigel Chisholm was approached about renting out his business for the evening, he also was eager to help, despite the risks.

"I think it’s great to be able to provide a fun place right here in the middle of town where kids are safe", he said. Chisholm surrendered his liquor license during the private event, which was approved by the Alcohol and Beverage Commission.

Several Ojai youth pastors, volunteer youth leaders and Ojai residents came together Saturday night to make the After-Prom Party unforgettable for the teen-agers who attended. Ryan Connel, Youth Pastor at Church of the Living Christ, was pleased with how everyone worked so well together to accomplish that goal.

"People notice when unity is in operation and so serving our community united has made a very clear picture that we are here to serve the teens of the Ojai Valley," Connel said. "We’re so relational people and so anytime we do anything together it’s better than doing anything alone. Ojai is a small town and all of the leaders are friends anyway. It’s fun doing life together and serving teens together."

The party lasted into the into the early hours of Sunday morning with the event that most of the teen-agers had been waiting for--the bicycle raffle, which took place in the theater. Walczak was sitting in the front of the theater and, at first, couldn’t believe that his name had been drawn.
"I’m so excited! I’m so stoked!" he said as he lifted up the bicycle and posed for a picture.


Sloneker said the event was a success, and not only in her estimation.
"It’s the buzz of the school," said Sloneker, whose husband, Jeff, teaches chemistry at Nordhoff. "Everyone is talking about it."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Autumn's Prayer

Not to be outdone by her sister, Autumn is starting to pray now, too. I thought I'd write down a few of Autumn's recent prayers before I forget them...

Yesterday's prayer:
Dear Jesus, Thank you (for) Diego. Thank you (for) Stella. Amen.

Tonight's prayer:
Thank you (for) mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy, sissy. Have a good day. Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Under Construction!

It's my 1-year blogging anniversary! So to celebrate, I decided to change the look of my blog. I added a picture of our house, changed our family picture and changed the colors. I started this process at 10:30ish and it's almost midnight. After I thought I was finished, I looked at my blog and said to myself, "It doesn't look any different than before." But, of course, I've looked at it 100 times in the past hour. Now I am too tired to even think about it anymore. Tomorrow maybe it will look new and fun to me. What do you think?

Amber's Prayer

At bedtime tonight, Amber asked if she could pray. She usually prays at meal times, but not at bedtime. So, after I prayed, she prayed the following prayer. I thought it was cute because this was the first time she mentioned someone other than family...

Amber's Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for Taylor & Alex, Sage & Aspen, Raye & Jeyda, Benny, Molly and Liberty. Even the ones I don’t know, I love them, too. The end.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Retreating

This weekend I went on the church Women's Retreat to Avila Beach, Calif. It was a nice time in an adorable little town. My highlights were:

- Shopping in Santa Barbara on the way up.
- Seeing Heidi again and getting my baby Zach fix.
- Watching "What Not To Wear" with the girls in Room 215.
- Taking a long walk on the beach with Debbie.
- Singing 80s & 90s songs at the top of our lungs with with Laurisa and the girls.
- Playing Spoons with the girls in Room 215. (I still say that Rhonda & I won the game!)
- Sleeping in until 9:00 a.m. Sunday (even if I didn't get to bed until almost 1 a.m.)

It was fun!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Klutz!

Today after my daughter's 5-year checkup/followup, we were walking down the stairs to the car. Rewind to the walk up the stairs on the way to the office. Amber Shea asked, "Why are we taking the stairs, mommy?" I answered, "Because it's good to take the stairs whenever we can. It's good exercise." Yeah, well it's not very good exercise if your feet decide to skip a few steps and you tumble down the rest of the way. I fell about four or five steps to the landing, holding on to my 2-year-old's hand and bringing her down with me. Autumn landed face down and started screaming. She was actually fine, just startled. I, on the other hand, have a nice raspberry on the top of my foot/ankle and a very sore right side of my body. What a great thing to do the day before the Women's Retreat! Oh well...

And I want to thank all of you for coming to my pity party. I hope you had a good time. Watch your step on the way out...literally!