Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stopping Time

Tonight we took our 3-year-old, Autumn, to a birthday party for her little friend. The tots were all dressed in princess clothes and they were twirling and dancing to Disney music. As I watched Autumn dance--her fluffy white dress billowing out as she spun around in circles--I was overwhelmed with a thought that has never really crossed my mind before with either of my girls: "I don't want her to get any older. I want her to stay 3 years old. I want her cuteness to stay...her playfulness to stay. She is just plain adorable right now and I don't want that to fade."


(I probably wouldn't have thought this last week because she was still in diapers and I definitely wanted that phase to be over.) Anyway, Autumn will get older and, like her big sister Amber, I will find more and more things to love about her. We will be able to do more things together and have more serious discussions and grow even closer as she gets older, but right now I want to freeze time. Aside from taking pictures and videos, and writing in my journal, all I can do is tuck away these memories and just enjoy living in the moment with my little princess.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

love you

Last Friday, I started potty training Autumn and it has been going amazingly well. When I walked into the kitchen that morning, I saw a not Eric had left me saying that he loved me and was going to be praying for me. I really enjoy getting notes of any kind, and this one brought a big smile to me face.

After hours of countless trips to the bathroom with Autumn, it was "nap time." The girls were fed and in bed and I was sitting down to eat my lunch and read my Bible. Eric stopped by the house to make a sandwich and said, "You look tired. Why don't you go in the office and relax and check your email." He's never said that before. I shrugged it off and put my quesadilla on a plate and decided I would eat lunch in the office and then go have some quiet time.

I saw three messages from Eric in my email inbox. "love you" was written in the subject lines. Eric rarely sends me an email, so I was very excited. The first one said, "Just"
The second one said, "Just a"
The third one said, "Just a note to say I love you"

It was just the encouragement I needed to get through the rest of potty training day. My husband is awesome!

Monday, January 26, 2009

One Little Heartbeat at a Time

For several months now, I have been wanting to post the lyrics to Steven Curtis Chapman's song for moms called "One Heartbeat." It is the most encouraging song for me as a mom of two little girls. Every time I hear it, I almost cry and then I get this sense of joy and an urge to keep pressing on. Anyway, I went to my friend Lisa's blog this weekend and she had posted the song lyrics. Click here to read and be encouraged..
One Heartbeat

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lessons

I have two fun happenings to blog about: Amber's sewing lessons and Autumn's potty training...

For those of you who know me well--yes, you read correctly that Amber is learning how to sew. But I am not the one teaching her since I barely know how to thread a needle. I can not sew, not even a proper button on a shirt. Eric usually has to sew on his own buttons. Not only do I not know how to sew, I do not want to learn. Years ago my mother-in-law asked me if she could teach me to sew. I politely declined, informing her that my mother, who sewed all my clothes growing up, offered me sewing lessons and I also turned her down. I was too busy taking writing courses and going to writer's conferences to want to learn another skill. Now I am deep into scrapbooking and card-making, so I have no desire to add another hobby to my list.












That doesn't mean that I want to hold my children back from learning to sew, if they desire. So a few months ago when I watched my 5 1/2-year-old, Amber make an outfit for her doll out of paper, the wheels started turning. Amber laid her doll down on a large piece of paper, traced around the doll, cut out the shape and started gluing and taping to the doll. She made straps for the shoulders and sides and the finished product looked like a pair of overalls. It was so cute; I should have taken a picture. Back in September, when we were in Phoenix, Amber also was very interested in Nana Gow's sewing box, and enjoyed watching my mom repair some of her doll clothes. So I told Amber that she should ask Nana Hodge to give her sewing lessons. Nana was overjoyed. Last night when we talked about today's first lesson, Eric's dad said, "It's going to be very basic at first. Maybe you should sit in on the lesson." I thought, "No way. I know what you're trying to do!"

Today the first lesson took place at our house and in 30 minutes, Amber knew how to thread a needle and had sewn three buttons on a piece of fabric! Nana got a kick out of teasing me as she said to me, "You know how to thread a needle, don't you?" Ha ha! I almost found myself getting caught up in the learning, though and had to walk outside for some fresh air. After all, I only hung around to take pictures!

When the first lesson was over and she was leaving, Nana once again teased me by saying, "Now if you need a button sewn on something, you know who to ask." I could tell Nana and Papa were having way too much fun at my expense! : )

During Amber's sewing lesson, I called my friend Gina and said, "You'll never guess what my daughter is doing right now." Gina thought I was talking about our 3-year-old, Autumn, and said, "Sitting on the potty?" I told Gina that would be a miracle since Autumn has told us outright that she does not want to learn to use the potty. I had to call Gina back later to tell her that her guess became a reality. Autumn sat on the potty and went pee pee tonight!

It all started at about 7:30 when I read Autumn a book we brought home from the library, "Annie's Potty." It's the story of a little brunette who does not want to use the potty and how her little blond friend Samantha comes over to play and uses the potty. Autumn's best friend Stella (who is a blondie) is potty-trained and has used the potty chair at our house numerous times, but it never made any difference to Autumn. Tonight I changed the names in the book from Annie and Samantha to Autumn and Stella. After reading the story, we went into the bathroom and sat for 20 minutes reading books and then it happened--Autumn went pee pee in the potty chair! We did a dance of joy, she got a little prize and she called her friend Stella on speaker phone to tell her the good news. When Stella's daddy, Brian, said, "Good job, Autumn. We are so proud of you," my little 3-year-old just beamed. Then I showed her the new undies she gets to wear (I've shown them to her many times) and she was giddy.

So tomorrow we are going cold turkey. No diapers. I know the road ahead is going to be tough and messy, but at least we are finally in the right direction. Yay! (I could use all the prayers I can get, though.)

Whew! What a day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lobster, anyone?

I have so many things to blog about, like the fact that my daughter, Amber, aced her first test today. Or that I went to Laguna Beach with girlfriends for the weekend. Or that we celebrated Christmas again with Eric's sister and family last week. But I may never get around to writing those stories, so I thought I'd brag about Eric. A few weeks ago he came home with a bag of lobster he got at the islands. My friend Lisa is studying marine life with her children as they home school. I sent her these pics and the following information. I thought I'd share the same with you...

The lobster were caught at Anacapa Island (in the Channel Islands) by Eric. The biggest one is 4 pounds. Eric went free diving (held his breath) and grabbed them. If you are not a commercial fisherman, the only way you can catch lobster is to grab them with your hands. You can "catch" seven lobster per day from October to March (there are specific dates). Last year the Fish and Game Department implemented a new "rule" that you have to record when and where and how many lobster you grab per day. They are keeping record of the number of lobster taken by non-commercial divers, now. Enjoy the pictures!





Friday, January 16, 2009

High and Lows

Every few nights at dinnertime, we go around the table and say our high for the day or week and our low. Last night this is what everyone said: (BTW, this is not about my headaches; it's about Autumn's funny answers.)

Eric's low: Seeing Christine have headaches all week.
Eric's high: Getting to go diving with his brother-in-law and nephew.

Christine's low: Having a 7-day headache.
Christine's high: Looking forward to a weekend away (tonight!)

Amber's low: Mommy having headaches.
Amber's high: Getting to play with McKayla.

Autumn's low: Mommy's headaches.
Autumn's high: Daddy getting a shower.

We all cracked up at Autumn's answer. Eric said, "Are you saying I was stinky earlier?"

Then this morning, before I got a shower, Autumn gave me a "good morning" hug and said, "Mommy you stink!"

Gosh, now we have "the smell police" in the Hodge Lodge.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Healing

I recently returned from the memorial service for my good friend, Kelly (Nordyke) Murphy. All day I dreaded going. Inside I was having an all-out battle. I did not want to go. I did not want to cry. I did not want to see Kelly's family hurt so much. I did not want to see the picture slide show that I knew would be a part of the ceremony. However, I knew that going to the memorial would be, in the end, a very good thing for me to do. I knew that it would be the beginning of the healing process for me. Memorials are good. They help. They are a necessary part of grief. So I went, obviously. Even though I did not want to grieve, I would not have missed the service for anything. And it was a good service, one that I am so glad I was able to attend. Pastor Richie spoke words that were healing to my soul. I learned that I am not alone in the grieving process. I think that sometimes we think we are alone on our journeys. But we are not. We have family, friends and even better, Jesus Christ to help us get through the hard times. Even if we don't know Christ or don't want to know him, he is here waiting to heal us. It was good to hear that. I even got the courage to share a funny story about Kelly, and share how every time I saw her, she was the bright spot in my day. I will miss Kelly more than I can even put into words, but I have hope and assurance that I will see her again. Meanwhile, I will still grieve, but I will heal. The process has already begun.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Amber's First Book!

Today Amber read her first book, "Al and Nat." She was so excited! Last week we got out the Phonetic Storybook Reader #1 (the short a book) and she has been working on the vocabulary words in the book. After a two week Christmas break, it was hard for her to recognize the words she had already learned, so we've been working diligently on them. At times I thought we would never get past this setback. But Eric said that yesterday morning, while I was getting ready for the day, Amber had gotten out the flash cards--all on her own initiative--and was working on the words. She had to read 52 words without sounding them out before she could read her first book. Today she accomplished that. She was so tickled to read the story. It was 21 pages and the sentences were longer than I thought they would be. She did well and enjoyed the story of Al and his dog, Nat. It is so good to see her excited about learning once again. Now we are studying singular and plural words...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Real

I am usually happy-go-lucky in my blogging, but today I thought I'd be a little more real, raw, honest--that's not to say that my other writings are fake. : ) Anyway...

Have you ever felt like crying right in the middle of the grocery store aisle? If you are a mom, I'm sure you have. If you are a mom and you haven't ever felt like crying in the aisles, well I guess you get to shop without your kids. Lucky you! : ) Today, I almost lost it. I mean the tears were coming to the surface until a sweet mom about my age with two kids about my girls' ages smiled at me--you know, the kind of smile that says, "I know how you feel" and "I've been there, too" and "You'll get through it." She was the ONLY gracious person I encountered on my shopping trip from hell. Let me back up to 12:15 p.m.

I had just picked up Autumn from preschool and the girls and I were on our way to Ventura to go to Target and Trader Joe's. I stopped at a 4-way stop, waiting to turn left when the man in the huge semi opposite me motioned me to go ahead of him. I guess I did not step on the gas pedal fast enough because he waved his hands at me and shook his head back and forth so vigorously I thought it was going to fall off. Then he decided to go ahead, shaking his head some more. I smiled, and as he glared down into my car as he passed, I waved at him and smiled even bigger. "Kill 'em with kindness," I thought.

I proceeded to Target at the mall and had an good time with my girls, buying the necessary toilet paper and diapers and contact solution. The girls were really good but became squirrely at the check-out counter. That's when I encountered Meanie # 1 & # 2 . I brought a bunch of misc. reusable shopping bags (the cashiers at Target hate them, even when they are the Target brands). I had no where to set them so I asked the customer in front of me if I could set them down on the check counter to free my hands. She did not respond, and not because she did not understand me. So I set them down. This must have bothered her, because she acted all huffy, and I was thinking, "You could just communicate with me if I am bothering you." I then said that I was sorry. No response. Of course at this time my girls are running all over the place and my anger is beginning to rise. I told the woman that I was sorry again and got silence in return. Then I said, "I am really sorry if I inconvenienced you!" (Although my tone of voice held no compassion by the third go round.) She left in a tizzy and I said to the cashier, "It would have been nice if she would have acknowledged that I was talking to her." Now I have been to this Target many, many times. Why I even decided to strike up a conversation with the cashier is beyond me. She was already flustered because I had brought a slew of reusable bags. She was less than gracious and I thought I saw her roll her eyes, but I can't be sure of that.

After I paid for my purchases, we proceed to the car and I told the girls that I was in a bad mood and to be on their best behaviors. (ie.: Watch out for Mount Momma!) My bad mood was put to rest when I remembered that at my nest stop, Trader Joe's, the cashiers and people are much friendlier. Well the cashiers are definitely nicer, but I found no sympathy from the rushed and crabby customers I came in contact with. It seemed that I was always in someone's way (even though they, in turn, are probably in someone else's way-- I mean, do people ever think about that?). What made me feel even worse, though, was when my sweet and very helpful 5-year-old seemed to be in someone's way as she got the sunflower seeds or peanut butter from the bottom shelf. I just wanted to scream at them as they shot rude looks at me and Amber. I also wanted to say to them--usually middle-aged men, by the way--that they would be more sympathetic if they would just take two kids under the age of 6 around the store with them for five minutes as they shopped. Just five minutes, not three hours like I had to endure. Just five minutes with two young kids on a shopping trip might just keep those rude looks at bay in the future.

After an hour in TJs, repeating "I'm sorry" until I didn't mean it anymore, I was spent. It was then that I almost shed tears--in the water/dried fruit aisle, after Autumn accidentally spilled water all over Amber's dress. Yep, there I was, mopping up the water on the floor with napkins I had in my purse, when I got another glare from a man who obviously had never mopped up water, anytime, anywhere. The tears started to flow and then that sweet young mom pushed her cart full of groceries and kids past me and smiled the most empathetic smile and said something sweet to me. I can't remember what she said because I was in shock at her kindness. I mumbled, "Thanks so much. I really needed to hear that." Then I paid for my food and headed home, vowing to never take my girls shopping with me again. I make that empty promise to myself every month, not because of the kids, but because of the grumpy people in the stores. But then a month goes by and I forget the hassle of the previous month. Besides, I can't go shopping without them anyway, unless I go at night, and I definitely don't want to be around crabby 9 to 5ers as I shop.

So now I am going to look on the bright side: my fridge and cupboards are full for a few weeks, and Eric is in the kitchen making dinner.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Empty Cabinets

About this time every year, I decide to do a crazy clean-out of some part of my house. This year it was the kitchen. Yesterday I took EVERYTHING out of the bottom cabinets and most things out of the other cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. The result was that I had way too many kitchen tools. As a Pampered Chef consultant, I got everything free or at 1/2 price, and I had to have everything in order to sell the products. Well, now I realize that I don't need the glazed and unglazed baker, two sets of salad tongs, a pie server I'll never use, etc. I set aside the things I did not need and the pile was so big that I just had to share the wealth with my friends. I gave away 42 kitchen tools, and I'm not just talking little chip clips (although those were a hot ticket item). Some of the tools were practically new. (I still have a banana tree, brushed stainless serving picks for appetizers, aprons, a sugar dispenser, spreader and a few other small things. If you live nearby, come on over.)

Anyway, when I rearranged the kitchen and put everything back in the cabinets, I had one full bottom cabinet EMPTY, and one counter completely BARE. I had been wanting more counter space to bake and prepare lunch and dinner, and now I have it!

Needless to say, I am very excited, but not just about more cabinet space! I also had so much fun giving things away. This is how it should be. No eBay or garage selling. Instead just giving. I had someone say that I could have gone on eBay and gotten a lot of money for this stuff--and I know I could--but I honestly have way more fun giving to my friends than pocketing money. Upside-down thinking, I know. Maybe all the early marriage years of going without and having people give to us has instilled in me a joy of giving, or maybe I was born with a bent toward giving. Either way, it is true what the old adage says, "Tis Better to Give than Receive!"

Next, I think I will tackle the hall closets!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Family Mushroom Hike

Today Eric, his dad Bob, Amber, Autumn and I went on a 4-hour hike to look for mushrooms. The girls were real troopers. We started out hiking the trails near the river bottom in Ojai, and ended up way back in the canyon. It was beautiful, and the prime place for mushrooms. We saw russulas, boletes, waxy caps, destroying angels (those are deadly) and LBMs (little brown mushrooms). Along our hike, when we would see a mushroom near the trail, we often would kick it over and leave it upside down near the trail (keep this piece of info in mind for the end of my story). We ended up picking the stalks of a ton of Honey Mushrooms (the stalks are the best part to eat) and a huge Lion's Mane. This mushroom is the size of a cantaloupe and grows on a tree and really resembles it's name. I wish I had taken a picture before we cut it up and ate some of it. Anyway, on the way back down the trail Eric had the Lion's Mane in his hand and several people stopped to ask what it was. One man was really intrigued by our shrooms and their interesting names. He was all excited and asked this question, "What do you call the mushrooms that grow upside down by the side of the trail?" It was all I could do to not bust up laughing at him. Eric kindly said with a smirk, "Those are the mushrooms we kicked over earlier on our hike." When he left, we had a good laugh.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!!

I can't believe it is 2009.

I am so competitive that I was hoping to be the first to post something. We'll see...

Now I can go to bed.

Good night (actually Good morning!)