Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Tree Named "Laughter"

This morning I helped Ojai Trees plant a Fuji apple tree in our back yard in memory of my brother Steve, who passed away last February 2008. My daughters got to help plant the tree, also, along with the Gonzalez girls who are staying with us for the weekend. It was fun digging the hole and filling it with new life. Two students from Brooks Institute of Photography heard about the memorial tree planting and were here to take pictures for their school project. That was cool.

Last month, when the year anniversary of my brother's death was approaching, my friends Lea and Keri asked me if I was going to anything in his memory. I had wanted to plant a tree in a park in Ojai, but decided a fruit tree in the back yard would even be better. In a few years we'll be able to eat apples and remember Steve with every bite.

After the tree was in the ground, we had a tree-naming ceremony and I named the "Laughter" because Steve loved to laugh and his laugh was infectious.
Breaking ground

The tree-naming ceremony

The family

The tree named "Laughter"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Tough Girl

This afternoon Amber fell more than 8 feet in our back yard. Before I go on, she is fine and on the couch right now watching Blue's Clues because I made her rest. She'd rather be twirling around the living room with her sister, though, as she insists she is fine.

Around 4:00 today we were in the backyard playing. It's hard to describe if you have never been in our back yard, but it's quite a jungle out there--literally. The people who owned the house before us, made the back yard twist and turn with rock pathways and trees and thick foliage and ivy. At the very back against the side fence is a "stairway" that leads to a ledge against the back fence. In the middle is a "cliff" that overhangs. When Eric and I first bought the house, we used to sit up there and watch the sunset. I told Amber this today and she brought three chairs up there so we could sit and play. Amber and Autumn were already sitting there and I was down below on the pathway, making my way to the "stairs" when I heard this ear-piercing scream and caught Amber's fall out of the corner of my eye. The chair gave way (it was probably on loose ground) and came tumbling down with Amber right behind. She fell on her left side and by God's grace she did not hit her head and did not break her arm. It also was by God's grace that she did not hit one of the many rocks in the back yard and she fell on top of the ivy. She hit the ground hard, though, because she had an ivy stain that went through her double-layer dress and tattooed her skin.

Amber was wailing, and I carried her to the nearby bench and had to focus my attention on Autumn, who was still sitting on a chair on the overhang. I had to get Autumn down so I wouldn't have two accidents on my hands. I called our firefighter friend, Sean, and then Dr. H, and it was determined that Amber would be okay and did not need to go to the ER. She will need ibuprofen, though, and some rest, although she was up and wanting to play foose ball with her sister 10 minutes after she fell. Her ivy tattoo washed off in the bath and was replaced by a nice-sized bruise.

How is mom? I am fine, but I took the chairs down. I am also very grateful to God that Amber did not get seriously injured.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This is what my babysitter does

I have an amazing babysitter, Andrea (and no, you may not have her phone number). Last year she watched my girls every Wednesday for four hours so I could go to Bible study and work out at Curves. She still watches them in the evenings about once a week so Eric and I can go out on a date. She is a beautiful artist, although she'd never admit to that. She does crafts with my girls every time she's with them, and makes things from scratch such as paper dolls--yes, she draws the dolls, cuts them out and makes dresses and teeny-tiny accessories for them. She once made a chest of drawers where the drawer actually opens--all from paper. She also makes jewelry with the girls from pieces of scrap paper I leave them. Here's some photos of her work.

Paper Doll and accessories

Lipstick, compact, blush, eye shadow

More accessories

Chest of drawers with opening drawer to store the accessories

Crown, earrings, necklace, bracelet

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Never a dull moment

I love the idea of living in community, and while I must admit that I do not want to live in a commune, I like the fact that some days/weekends it feel very much like communal living around our home.

Take this weekend for example. Yesterday afternoon we entertained the three girls from next door, who frequently come over to play hide-n-seek inside and outside the house. That evening we had out-of town friends over for some of Eric's now famous "cream of chanterelle soup." We enjoyed sharing a meal and having deep conversation afterward while the children ran around the house, playing without one argument or disagreement. We are training our kids at a young age to live in community.

Then today after church our 9-year-old next-door-neighbor, McKayla, came over to play, as is the tradition now every weekend. Sometimes I feel like I have a third daughter--a very sweet "daughter" who is so easy to love and gets along well with my girls. After McKayla left we got a call from a neighbor's friend who is in town and was supposed to already be on the road back to Oregon. Their trip home was delayed when they discovered their brakes needed to be replaced. While Eric rarely works on a Sunday, he told them to come over and in less than 30 minutes they were on the road again. While the men were outside replacing the brakes, I was inside entertaining the rest of the family--two moms and four adorable little girls. We played with the playdoh we had made earlier today and I got to know a family that I may never see again. We asked them to stay for dinner, but they needed to go.

As they left, a friend from church arrived with his spear gun and wanted advice from Eric on how to rig it. As they chatted--I kid you not--another friend stopped by to trade Eric wahoo (tuna) for chanterelle mushrooms and to get Eric's soup recipe. Of course, the three men talked awhile about fish and 'shrooms and cars and boats as I cleaned up the playdoh mess. Eric heated up a bowl of his famous soup for one of the men to sample, and I thought, "This is communal living."

This is what I envisioned our home to be. I want people to feel free to pop-in unannounced for food and fellowship, a cup of water or coffee, assistance or a listening ear.

Now I'm going out for a quiet cup of coffee. Communal living can be exhausting!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Wondering

This post is more for my Ventura County friends, since it's about a store in Ventura.

Is it just me, or are the clearance areas at Target in the mall getting a little overwhelming? I love Target, as many of you know. I love the dollar section and I really love the "end aisles" as I call them--the end of the aisles where they mark down items with those bright reddish-orange stickers. Well, I just got back from Target and I bought the usual household items (t.p., hairspray, pull-ups, etc.) and then I headed over to my favorite area, the end aisles near the office supplies section. I was checking out all of the deals when I glanced down the aisles and it seemed like EVERYTHING is marked down. I saw "Clearance" tags and reddish-orange stickers all up and down many of the aisles. So, of course, I had to peruse those aisles and it just got overwhelming. Some of the things aren't even marked down enough to call it clearance. I spent way too long in the stationery aisle looking for "thank you" cards for a friend and my eyes got all buggy. It just wasn't worth it. I was definitely overwhelmed. Am I the only one?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I have "good ears." I can hear really well and I am sensitive to faint noises, sounds that Eric doesn't even hear. February was a crazy month with a few unexpected changes. Last night as I lay awake in bed listening to the noises, I came up with this list of sounds that we (or sometimes just I) hear every day...

* Three weeks ago our fridge died, so our sweet neighbor gave us her spare fridge. I'll have to blog about that, it's a funny story. Anyway, when it runs, it makes this noise that sounds like a ship from outer space. Even Eric can hear it. It sounds like aliens are landing in our kitchen.

* Two weeks ago we switched out our defective Arrowhead water cooler for one that worked and also upgraded to an energy efficient model. When it runs, it makes a lot more noise than the old model. Eric can not tell the difference.

* Three days ago our heater started making a noise at the end of it's running cycle. When it stops, it makes a squeaky noise like a creaky door that needs oiling. The heater is right outside our bedroom door!

* The ceiling fans in the bedrooms make a clickety-click noise. It's been like that since Eric and his dad installed them last year. And yes, we have had to use the ceiling fans already this year!

* Lately, I've been hearing voices in my head, too. Just kidding!
* In the spin cycle, our washer sounds like an airplane taking off. It's always sounded like that!

* We have a family of owls living in the tree outside our bedroom and they hoot all night long.

I don't like obscure noises, especially faint ones. Help! (No, I'm fine really, I think!)