Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christian Romance?

I was playing Yahtzee with Amber tonight when I found a scribbled little note on the back of a score card from when Eric and I were on vacation this past summer. I had meant to blog about it because I thought it was so funny...

We were shopping in Avalon at Catalina in the only bookstore on the island and I wanted to see if they had the newest book from one of my favorite authors of Christian romance-type novels. After scanning the store, I approached the very young clerk.

"Do you have a Christian fiction section?" I asked.

"Have you heard of The Shack? We have that." she answered.

"No," I said. "I mean Christian romance."

She looked at me, cocked her head to one side and said, in valley-girl style, "I've never heard of Christian romance. You mean, like, they meet in church?"

I chocked back my laughter and went to find Eric.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Once a year

Once a year, my neighbor down the street makes homemade Chex mix. Next to my moms, it is the best Chex mix I will ever eat! So two days ago when she told me that she may not get around to making it this year, I said, "Oh that's okay" when in actuality I was thinking, "Oh, I hope she makes it!" You can imagine my delight this morning when she brought by a generous serving of my favorite savory holiday treat. We ate some of it at 10:30 in the morning!

Once a year my dad makes incredible fudge, the only fudge of it's kind--I have never had it's equal or even a close second. It's my favorite Christmas sweet. We eat some now and freeze some for later--although it never makes it until "later" as we eat it right out of the freezer whenever we remember it's in there (which is every day)!

Once a year my mom makes cranberry bread--I don't even know of anyone else who makes cranberry bread. She also makes almond-sour cream bread--another one-of-a-kind creation that only my mom makes. This tasty bread with just the right mix of almond and sour cream is mine and Eric's favorite quick bread. It's a secret family recipe that I have now, but I refuse to make the bread while my mom is still able to do her culinary magic. With her new found energy and waking up at 4 a.m. not able to go back to sleep, my mom has been able to be the kitchen fairy again. She has made all of these treats and her famous caramel rolls which I have tried--and failed--to duplicate. While my sister was visiting, they also made what they called "the world's ugliest sugar cookies."

When my mom called and told me she was sending a box of all the goodies, I said that she didn't have to. And I meant it. Still, they sent it and it arrived today--just now. So, of course, my girls ate some of "the world's ugliest sugar cookies" right before lunch--and loved every bite. Eric and I delved into the fudge, too.

After all, it only happens once a year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Healthy Lions

One evening we were eating a venison roast that Eric traded fish for, when we got to discussing predators and their prey. Eric told Amber that a mountain lion has to eat roughly one deer a week to survive. Amber said, "Cool! They probably eat very healthy."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Down Time

Being a mom who teacher her children at home, I don't get a lot of chances to be in the house alone without the girls. So it was a treat to get some surprise "down time" yesterday. I took the girls down the street to a Gingerbread House-decorating party. I had no idea it was a "drop off" party. My friend said, "Come back in 3 hours. Go have fun!" I walked back home and didn't know what to do with myself--for about a minute! I knew I wasn't going to do any housework. I decided to work on a project I had been wanting to do for months. I framed several of Amber's drawings and hung them on the wall in the hallway. Last night when I walked out of the bathroom into the hallway, seeing those beautiful sketches in pretty frames cheered me up. Today I am watching my friend's two girls so she can be alone in her house and wrap Christmas presents. She'll need some down time after hosting that party yesterday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just call me Dora


This morning I went to Autumn's preschool to help with the Thanksgiving Feast. As I walked onto the playground, a little girl (pictured right beside me in this photograph) called to me, "Aunt Dora, Aunt Dora."
I looked behind me, but I was the only adult standing there. She kept calling, "Aunt Dora," so I walked over to where she was at the swing set and asked her if she was talking to me. She said, "Yes, you're my Aunt Dora." I thought she was just playing with me until her teacher said that I look like one of her aunts. I said to her, "I'm not really your aunt." She said, "Yes you are. You're my Aunt Dora and I saw you last week at a party." She was serious and continued to call me Aunt Dora as she asked me to play with her, push her on the swings, ride with her in the helicopter. It was hilarious! I didn't even get to play with my own daughters because this little girl kept me occupied! I guess I must have a twin somewhere in Ojai.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn Is Five!


Autumn Brooke turned 5 today. She celebrated at preschool with her little friends. I brought pumpkin mini-muffins that Amber and I made. They were a hit! After school, Amber gave Autumn her present--a Strawberry Shortcake doll that used to be Amber's doll. Amber knew that Autumn wanted it, so a few weeks ago when Amber was giving away toys to the thrift store, she set aside Strawberry Shortcake and surprised Autumn with it. After Eric got home, Autumn opened the present from us--roller skates. Last month, we took Autumn rollerskating with Young Life and she loved it, so Eric wanted to get her a pair of skates. She was so excited that she took a little spin outside in the dark, with some help! Then we went to Autumn's favorite restaurant for dinner--Sea Fresh. I think she just likes it because of the stuffed fish and big shark on the wall! She had such a fun day that she fell asleep on the 10-minute drive home!






Monday, November 15, 2010

This is all that I can say

Sometimes someone else can say exactly what you are feeling at the moment, and sometimes say it even better than you can. I found this to be true as I was on my walk today, listening to my iPod, tears streaming down my face, feeling like my heart has been ripped out.

Both my mom and Eric's mom are battling terminal cancer right now and they may leave this earth a lot sooner than I want them to. Lately, my morning walks are my most difficult times to process this grief as I have a lot of silence (even with the music playing in my ears) and 2 1/2 miles to think about these incredible women God has blessed me with. This morning when this David Crowder song came up on my iPod, I was tempted to skip it because it's a very slow song, but I decided to let the words minister to my aching heart. The third verse is what really spoke to me. Through all of this mess that doesn't make any sense to me, Jesus is crying with me. God is holding me.

All I Can Say by the David Crowder Band

Lord I'm tired
So tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone
And Lord the dark is creeping in
Creeping up to swallow me
I think I'll stop, rest here a while

And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
That's my everything

And didn't You see me crying?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember where you sat it down

And this is all that I can say right now
I know it's not much
And this is all that I can give
Yeah, that's my everything

I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that that was You holding me
I didn't notice You were crying too
I didn't know that that was You washing my feet

And this is all that I can say right now
I know it's not much
And this is all that I can give
Yeah that's my everything...

Friday, October 29, 2010

My favorite thing

Yesterday the girls and I were watching a Barbie movie in which a character was skydiving. Amber said, "Is that your favorite thing to do, mom?" I said it was one of my favorite things. Then Amber said, "My favorite thing to do is love people."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Hodge Lodge Funnies

When the girls say something funny or something out of the ordinary happens, I quickly jot it down on a small piece of paper. I had quite a stack building and so I thought I'd put them on my blog before the papers end falling behind my desk never to be seen again.

July 2010:

Autumn was pretending to read her new children's Bible. One chapter was about ice cream. Another chapter was about putting on shoes and going to the fair. Then Autumn said, "Chapter 4 is not amazing."

August 2010:

Eric and his friend--who has equally long hair and also wears a beanie cap a lot--were listening to Bob Marley when a young girl on a scavenger hunt came to our door. After asking for her items, she asked them in a valley girl voice, "Are you, like, Reggae?"

Amber said this after weeks of Autumn--on purpose--not responding to Amber's orders and instead ignoring her: "Mom, I think there's something wrong with Autumn's hearing."

My 13-year-old niece, Rachel, said this on her visit after I mentioned that I was 40: "I thought you were 28. Seriously, you don't act that old, your personality, I mean. You act so young." She also said we were the best relatives.
After she said these things, I gave her my car and told her she could come live with us if she wanted!

September 2010:

Amber is learning about the United States in school. She calls Louisiana: "A-loozy-anna."

One day I was complimenting Amber on her new blue hair clips. She said, "I think it's called awkward marine." (Aqua marine)

October 2010:

When Eric was cleaning a lobster that he had just got on a dive trip, Autumn said, "I want to see the lobster poop."

Even more disturbing...When Amber goes out on the boat with Eric, she likes to hold the beating heart of the fish in her hands after Eric has gutted it.

And...Today in church I was helping in Amber's class. The teacher (Jan) said that Moses was a shepherd for 40 years. Amber's hand shot up and she blurted out, "That's how old my mom is!"

Well, I am 40 for a few more hours anyway...

Friday, October 15, 2010

That's a great idea!


This morning, I woke up earlier than normal. Eric was already out of the house and--amazingly--the girls were still sleeping! I had some time before breakfast and starting school, so I tiptoed into the kitchen, fixed myself a big cup of coffee, grabbed a warm blanket, curled up on the recliner and started to read my book for Bible study. I usually don't get to have quiet time until after lunch, so I was feeling particularly warm and fuzzy inside as I sipped my coffee and cracked open the book. Well, I'm sure you can imagine what happened next. No sooner had I finished the first page than I heard the pitter-patter of four little feet in the hallway. "Oh well," I thought to myself. "It was a nice idea, anyway."

I transferred myself and the blanket to the couch and let the girls curl up with me as I read them their newest favorite book from the library. Then we had breakfast and Amber asked what I was doing earlier. I told her that I was about to read my book when I was interrupted by two little fairy princesses. Amber said, "I have an idea. Why don't you take a long bath and read your book in the tub."

It was a great idea, I knew that. And Amber was a sweetheart for suggesting it. Still, my gut reaction was to just get a quick shower and put off my quiet time until later today. Then I paused and thought, "I have plenty of time this morning. I should take my daughter's suggestion." I filled the tub and grabbed my book and coffee that I had yet to finish drinking. As I trotted off toward the bathroom, Amber got out the play dough for her and Autumn. She turned to me and said, "How's my idea working, Mom?" Speechless, I gave her a big smile and marveled at how blessed I was to have Amber, my daughter who is very often filled with compassion and gratitude and a giving heart.

It was perhaps the best quiet time I've had, not because of the warm bath or because I got to sip my coffee for once or because I got great insight from a good book. It was the best quiet time because of the selfless suggestion of a 7-year-old who demonstrated kindness beyond her years.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

School Project

As part of "Science/Nature/Art," Amber and I have been working on a really neat project. During school, we've been going on Nature Walks--mostly on the Ojai Meadows Preserve trails next to Nordhoff. The goal was to find nature items (treasures, as Amber calls them) to use in making doll furniture. After several Nature Walks, we got down to the business of building doll house rooms out of cardboard boxes and only the items found on our walks. We just completed the project and I thought you'd like a peek at the finished product. Amber's creativity really shone in this project. She did all the designing; I just used the glue gun. Autumn made one house, too. It was a really fun project!

The treasures.

The baby/big sister room.

The baby and big sister.


Big sister changing baby's diaper.



The living room.


Amber proud of her work.


Autumn's room.


Autumn made the room for her ponies.


The kitchen.


The biggest sister's bedroom.


The stable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reverse Crank Calling

Tonight I was in the kitchen making apple crisp when our home phone rang. Eric answered it. The man on the other line asked if we were selling a motor home. Eric said no. He asked if we were sure. Thinking it might be work-related, Eric said, "No, but I've worked on motor homes." Then Eric suggested that maybe the man dialed the wrong area code.

A few minutes later, the phone rang again. It was the same man. Eric put the phone on speaker and answered it. The man said that we had called him. Eric said that he called us. The man then asked, "What's your name?" I waved to Eric from the kitchen and shook my head. Eric said, "Fred." The man said, "Noooo?" Eric said, "Fred Flintstone." We all started laughing; the girls thought it was so funny. The man heard all of us laugh, so Eric hung up.

I really wanted the man to call back again so I could answer the phone and say, "This is Wilma speaking."

Friday, October 1, 2010

October

October is my favorite month, and it's not just because my birthday is in October. Here's the other reasons:

- Halloween--one of my favorite holidays. I love to dress up!
-Fall--some time this month, we get the cooler fall weather (although it's debatable this year).
- Decorating the house for Harvest is so much fun, especially now that the girls are a bit older!
- Croptoberfest (3 days of scrapbooking) is in October. Need I say more!
- It's the only time of the year that I am in touch with my "orange side."
- I get to drink coffee out of my big mug that's shaped like a piece of candy corn (like I'm doing right now).
- The changing of the colors. A few trees on our block are just beautiful with red and orange leaves.
- Baking, baking, baking!!!
- You can leave the cobwebs up and people will think they are a part of the decorations!

Do you like fall? Why?

Happy Harvest!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fishie, Fishie!!

I swallowed a goldfish tonight.
A real one.
A live one.
Without water.
On purpose.
I love being a Young Life leader!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cardboard Sign

I meant to post this last week:

9-8-10

I was on the bike trail this morning--halfway through my morning walk--when I saw a young man across the street holding a cardboard sign that said “Need work. Anything helps.” I kept on walking, wishing I could give the guy a job when I remembered that our front grass was growing quite tall and our jungle of a back yard had an overdue date with the clippers. I crossed the street at the next traffic light and made my way back home, in the direction of the young man. Inside I was having one of those silly debates that went something like this:

“I should hire him to do some gardening.”
“Yeah, but how is a few hours of work going to help him?”
“Well, the sign said, ‘Anything helps.’”
“Yeah, but I don’t even know the guy. And I don’t have any extra cash on hand.”
“He’s just going to be mowing the lawn, not moving in. And I’m sure Eric has some extra cash to pay him.”
“Well, what am I going to do, just have him follow me home?”
“Yes, and then you can get to know him.”
“Fine, you win. And for the record, it’s what I was going to do anyway!”

By the time my mental conversation was over, I was introducing myself and hiring the young man. He said he could work right away and he walked back with me. I told him that I walked fast, but he had no problem keeping up. On the mile back to my house, I asked him a few questions and found out that he rented a room in a house nearby, but that he was homeless before that. He has a 3-year-old son, too, who lives with his ex-girlfriend nearby. He is trying to find a job so he could see his son again, but even the fast-food restaurants are not hiring right now. So, this morning he decided to stand on the street corner with his cardboard sign. It was 8:30 when I saw him. He had been on the curb for two hours already. He said he was grateful for the work, even if it was only for a few hours.

When we got to our house, he set to work on mowing the grass and I made him a big breakfast. Eric chatted with him before heading to work, and I started school with Amber, who really wanted to skip the whole thing and stare out the window at our new friend as he clipped the rosebushes. A few hours later, the front lawn was manicured and the back yard looked a lot less like a jungle. We were finished with school and on our way to an appointment and so I drove our friend—with cardboard sign in tow--back to his spot on the curb. Inwardly, I prayed that he would find more work today and a permanent job soon. I also prayed that he would be drawn to Jesus.

Later, I was on the phone with my sister, recalling the day’s events. I said, “I know that $40 isn’t going to help him tremendously, but more than anything, I just wanted him to know that someone cared.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Locks of Love

Today Amber had her first major haircut (unless you count the time she was 3 and cut off all her hair with her new kiddie scissors!) Amber wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that uses real hair to make wigs for kids who lost their hair due to illness. The hair has to be at least 10 inches long--Amber's was 15 inches! Here's some before and after pictures...





Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Geek

The computer I currently have--the one I am using to type this blog post--is on its way out the door. The USB port doesn't work. The disc drives do not work. It's slow. I can't make photo cds or upload songs to my ipod. I can't open half of the documents people email me. So, it was time to upgrade.

My new(er) computer arrived today. It is sitting on the floor in the middle of my office. I am staring at it. I am wishing I could just click my heels or wriggle my nose or wave my daughter's magic wand or snap my fingers and all of the documents and photos and videos on this current computer would transfer to my new one...and my new computer would be in it's perfect place under my desk...and the dust mites that are currently occupying that space would be vacuumed up...and I could sit down and browse iTunes or upload photos or...

I guess if I keep on wishing the job will never be done and my new computer will still be in its place in the middle of the room.

Sigh!

Anyone know a good computer geek fairy?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Getting Ready

Today I am sharpening pencils, gathering reward stickers, organizing books, going over curriculum, finding flash cards, typing out a schedule, dusting off my desk and getting excited about teaching on Tuesday!

Amber will be in second grade--it's hard to believe that myself! Autumn will be in her last year at Noah's Ark Preschool, in pre-kindergarten! So my day also was filled with packing extra clothes for her, going over parent information, getting teacher gifts ready and dusting off Autumn's lunchbox.

Of course, that means that I had a large cup of coffee at breakfast, a few chocolate-covered espresso beans with lunch and I just finished an ice-blended peppermint mocha. I think I'm ready for school.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm bragging again

Today Eric got 1st Place in the Los Angeles Fathomiers Scramble Meet (spearfishing tournament). He speared a 37-pound white sea bass and a small barracuda and calico bass. This is the second time he has won a spearfishing tournament this year! Way to go, sweetheart!






Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cooking & Crafts

This summer, I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking. Tuesday I made a big bowl of guacamole, an even bigger bowl of peach salsa (3 jars) and six loaves of chocolate zucchini bread. I was in the kitchen for 4 hours that day! We have a lot of summer produce that I don't want to go to waste, so I make salsa of some sort once a week and either a cobbler or quick bread every week.

When I'm not in the kitchen, I've been scrapbooking and making jewelry. I've made several necklaces and some bracelets. My daughters and I have made scrapbooks together, too, and crafts using items out of the recycle bin. They are getting quite creative.

I also read two and a half books.

What have you been doing this summer?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Confetti in My Hair

Last night I took my nephew and niece, Pieter and Rachel, to State Street in Santa Barbara to walk around and do some shopping. It happened to be Fiesta weekend and the street was lined with people throwing confetti, waving giant glow sticks and having a good time. (Some of them were having too good of a time, but that's not what this story is about.)

Eric dropped us all of at the corner of Carrillo and State, and headed back home to his parent's house a mile away. Pieter had a wad of cash to burn and so he bought all of us confetti-filled eggs. Rachel cracked one on Pieter's head and in turn Pieter cracked one on Rachel's head and then they turned to me with mischievous looks in their eyes. Silence. More mischievous looks. Hesitation.

"Go ahead, crack one on my head," I said and then braced myself.

"Really?" Rachel said, and with that I was covered in confetti.

We had an awesome time window shopping and eating frozen yogurt and helping Rachel, who is 12 years old and five foot 9, find a pair of jeans. Okay, Pieter didn't enjoy waiting while Rachel and I were in the dressing rooms, but the two of us had a fun! We scored big at one store. We found jeans that fit Rachel perfectly, and when the cashier scanned the $54 pair, they had been discounted to $9.99.

From there, we decided to head home. We had thought of calling Eric's dad to come and pick us up, but decided the long walk in the cool night air would be fun. It was almost 10:00, and we were back at the corner of Carrillo and State. Then we saw them. They're called Pedi-Cabs. Little bicycle-driven carriages that--for a small price--will take you where you want to go. I hadn't spent any money except on yogurt, so I decided to treat my niece and nephew to a sweet ride home. We barely fit on the seat in the "carriage" and I felt bad for the rather small guy and the heavy load he was carrying--us. But he assured me that he could do it. Pieter and Rachel really enjoyed the ride, and the comedy of it all.

We started out down State Street so slow that we could have walked faster. Our driver was pedalling so fast and we were going so slow that people on the sidewalk started cheering and I heard one lady say, "Poor guy, he's pedalling so hard!" We turned onto Carrillo and picked up a bit of speed as we were on more level ground. Then we were really flying--for about a minute--as the road went downhill. We had our driver drop us off a few blocks from Eric's dad's home, when the incline looked too steep for him to make it. We paid him more than it was worth because we had such a good time and walked the rest of the way home.

I rarely go to State Street. It's not a place to take little kids at night. It's crowded and loud and a bit sketchy at times. Eric grew up near there, so he rarely wants to walk around downtown. However, I enjoy going there every once in a while--to drink coffee, people-watch, window shop and be in a place that doesn't shut down after 5 p.m. It was so much fun to hang out there with my niece and nephew--who live in the middle of nowhere in a town in Alberta. We all had a night we will long remember. Lights. Music. Confetti. And a slow cab ride home.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tha Canadian Cousins

Sounds like the title of a western novel, doesn't it?

A few weeks ago, we had cousin Sarah visit us. She lived in Canada until a month ago when they moved to Las Vegas. Sarah is the daughter of Eric's oldest sister, Sonja. Sarah is 10, and she and the girls got along great together. We all had a wonderful weekend. We made jewelry, crafts, swam in our neighbor's pool, had a tea party and--of course--Uncle Eric took all the girls on a boat trip the the islands.

Today, and through the weekend, we are having fun with the other Canadian cousins, Pieter and Rachel. They live in Alberta and belong to Eric's other sister, Amy. Pieter is 14 and Rachel is 12. Right now, Pieter is helping his Uncle Eric made soap and Rachel is braiding the girls' hair. They've only been at our home a few hours, and Rachel wants to move here! Pieter is anxiously looking forward to tomorrow, when Uncle Eric takes all the cousins on a boat trip to the islands. Here are a few pictures.

Amber & Sarah showing some strong Hodge genes.
Their baby pictures look very similar!

The Hodge girls!


Having fun with Eric!




Rachel & the girls.

Autumn is representing the brunettes of the world.



Pieter, Rachel, Amber & Autumn.

Quite a height difference.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And coffee, too!

This morning I woke up and shuffled into the hallway. I thought I smelled coffee wafting through the house, but I shrugged it off. Eric was still asleep and the girls were playing in the living room, so my nose must have deceived me. Then as I walked into the bathroom, my girls came running up to me.

"Mommy, mommy, we made breakfast for you--AND COFFEE!!" They were so excited and led me by the hand into the dining room where a plate of yogurt, toast with butter and coffee with my favorite creamer awaited me.

I tasted the coffee and it was good! I've never shown Amber how to make coffee, so she must have just learned by watching me. It wasn't too strong or too weak. I was very impressed.

Later this morning, I was sharing with my friends about how the girls now get up and play on their own for about an hour sometimes while we are still sleeping. They get themselves breakfast sometimes and make us breakfast sometimes, too. Amber makes lunch for the two of them occasionally. Right now they're taking a shower all by themselves.

I'm not sure when they turned the corner--the proverbial corner where they are a little more self-sufficient. I can't recall the day they started letting us sleep in or made us breakfast in bed or took their first shower--it just happened. And I am blessed to watch them grow a little more each day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gotta love a bargain!

I got the most amazing deals at the "Second Helpings Thrift Store" in Ojai today...

Cressi-Sub fins, my size, like new, $3
O'Neill full wet suit, Amber's size, like new, $5
Nike and TYR goggles for the girls, $2.50 each
TYR swimsuit for me, like new, $3.50 (these swimsuits range from $60 to $125)
SwissGear briefcase/bag for Eric, like new, $1.50
Canvas print for the girls room, really unique, 50 cents
2 flower-print square dessert plates, 75 cents each
2 tall drinking glasses, like new, 50 cents each

I love a bargain! I think I might go there again tomorrow and see if I missed anything! He he!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eavesdropper

The land line phone rang a lot tonight. For Eric.
When the phone was finally not in use, I went to call a friend. Then the phone rang. I waited and waited for Eric to get off the phone and Amber said, "Mom, you can use the other phone." I thought she was talking about the cell phone, but she pointed to the other land line receiver.

I said, "Amber, I can’t use that phone when Daddy is on the other one. They’re the same line."

She said, "Oh that’s right because when you’re on the phone I get the other phone out of the office and listen to what you are saying."

I was shocked and after I stopped smiling, I said, "When do you do that?"

"Last month I did," she said.

"Amber, you shouldn’t do that," I said, almost laughing. I couldn’t be as strict as I wanted to because I thought the whole thing was rather funny. She is growing smarter and more clever each day.

She reassured me by saying, "Don’t worry mom, I never tell anyone what you say."

I was finally serious and said, "That doesn’t matter, Amber. You should never listen in on a phone conversation."

"I forget what you say right afterward anyway," she said.

I don’t reveal my innermost secrets on the phone, however I still I hoped her last statement was true!

Yikes!

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Place!

I just have to brag about my man. Yesterday Eric was in the "Blue Water Hunter Spearfishing Tournament" in Santa Barbara. He got First Place for bringing in three fish totalling 81 pounds. He also won the Largest Fish award for spearing a 46-pound white sea bass. We'll be eating good all summer!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Rose by any other name...

This is the "out-of-the-blue" conversation I had with Autumn, my 4 1/2-year-old, at the dinner table tonight.

Autumn: Mommy, I want to change my name.

Me: Why?

Autumn: I want to change it to a pretty name--a really, really pretty name.

Me: Like what?

Autumn: Rose. (That's her new friend's name.) It's pretty, like a flower. I want a flower name.

Me: We're not changing your name. Daddy and I carefully chose your name. You were born in autumn when the pretty leaves are falling from the trees.

Autumn: What does Amber's name mean?

Me: It's a color.

Autumn: I want a color name.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Silly Songs

My girls have this Cd set that has a bazillion kids songs on it. Some of them are classics. Some of them are newer songs. Some of the songs just don't make sense, like Bonnie lying over the ocean or Feeling like a morning star. Seriously? They couldn't think of better lyrics! And then there are the songs that just state the obvious. For example:
"She'll be comin' 'round the mountain when she comes."
She will? You mean she won't be coming around the mountain when she goes? I'm glad you cleared that up for me.
How about this one:
"The grand ole duke of York, he had 10,000 men. He marched them up to the top of the hill and he marched them down again. And when they were up, they were up,"
Now way?
"And when they were down, they were down,"
Really?
"And when they were only half-way up, they were neither up nor down."
Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Backyard Treasures!

Lately, we've found a lot of things in our backyard. Some of them are treasures, like the two plastic Easter eggs I found today and yesterday. Each had a dime and some stickers in the eggs (no candy) and were leftover from our Easter egg hunt in April! The girls enjoyed those treats!

Definitely not a treasure, Autumn found a bloody, dying rat on the backyard path. Eric finished him off and buried him.

The best treasure of all, in my opinion, was found today by Amber. She came running in the house to tell me that she saw a snake in the bushes by the back fence. Of course, I didn't believe her 100 percent and thought it was just the tail of a lizard that she had spotted. Upon further inspection I did see a tail--a long, skinny, orange tail and it was attached to a long snake. We watched in stillness and the snake turned around an let us have a full view of her! She was actually checking us out! She was beautiful! I think she was either a garter snake or even a corn snake. She was very long with a black head and an orange body that got deeper orange toward her tail. I just spend several minutes on Google and Wikipedia but didn't find an exact match. I tried to catch her but she was fast! I thought it would be really neat to have another pet snake, like we did seven years ago. Well, maybe we'll see her again tomorrow. She may be living in our backyard, eating the mice. That is good! But she also may be eating the lizards and frogs, and I like having those creatures around.

One last backyard treasure we've been enjoying lately is the new family of blue jays who are quite used to us now. They should be--the baby birds hatched in a nest right outside my office window. We've watched them fly for the first time and find food. They let us get close to them to throw them a crust of bread every once in awhile. It is really fun having them as our "pets." Maybe we should name them.

Being a former "big city girl," I am really enjoying all of this nature right out my back door.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer?

It's nice fall weather we're having today. I think we skipped summer and went straight to autumn. I was having coffee with a teen friend today at an outside coffee shop in Ojai. I was wearing jeans, a jacket and a wool cap and I was still chilly. Weird! I absolutely love this kind of weather, but it is the 5th of July and by now Ojai is usually heated up. It just seems odd that I am debating putting a fire in the fireplace. I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Camp Highlights

Last week Eric and I helped take a bunch of Ojai teens to a Young Life Camp in the Sierras. The week was awesome! I laughed a lot, cried a lot, talked a lot, listened a lot, walked a lot, got covered in mud, got a pie smashed in my face, climbed a 60-foot tower, got bit by a dozen mosquitoes, danced, swam, played frisbee golf, fell up a hill, counted the bruises on my body, sang silly songs at the top of my lungs, drove a sand-rail around a dusty track, dressed up in numerous costumes, made bracelets, stayed up past midnight every night, drank a lot of coffee and had the best week of my life AGAIN!


The Ojai girls!
  Climbing the 60-foot tower!



Yee-haw!

Monday, June 7, 2010

School's Out!

Today was the last day of school for me and Amber. (Eric still has two more math lessons to teach her.) After our final lessons, we celebrated with extra games and double prizes for each winner. I also gave Amber an end-of-the-school-year gift: a strawberry shaped notebook, and I let the girls pilfer the sticker box. They had so much fun!

Below are a few pictures of the last week of school. Today we ended our sign language lessons. I have been teaching Amber and Autumn sign language, and they have learned well.

Last week Amber and I went on a nature walk along the Ojai Meadows Preserve trail and found the tiniest frogs we have ever seen. We took them back to Autumn's preschool to show the kids and then relocated them in our backyard. A week later, they're still alive. We keep seeing one of them hopping around our garden.

Friday was the homeschool group's year-end swim party. The girls had a great time.

Now it is officially summer at the Hodge Lodge. Wednesday my sister arrives from Denver and Saturday Eric and I get on a bus with a bunch of teen-agers and travel nine hours to Woodleaf, a Young Life camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We'll be there for a week, climbing towers and riding zip lines, getting wet and muddy, singing crazy songs and sharing our lives.

The rest of the summer will be full of reading, scrapbooking, making crafts, spearfishing, swim lessons and a whole lot of relaxing! Happy summer!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hi, My name is Christine...

I think I need to go to "Organizer's Anonymous."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Free Day

Yesterday was the first day in two weeks that I really felt good, so I ventured out into the "big" city of Ojai to run some errands. I went to my favorite store in town, "Second Helpings Thrift Shop," and scored some great deals on clothes and accessories that we need to take to Woodleaf in two weeks. While I was there, I saw my friend Jennel, and gave her a ride home because she doesn't drive. As we pulled into her driveway, she pointed out the five large bags of clothes that were sitting on her porch. Her sister, who happens to be my size, did some spring cleaning and was more than happy to pass her clothes on to me! If I hadn't given Jennel a ride home, I would have missed out on a sweet deal! I couldn't wait to go home and try on the clothes. I found the cutest tops and jeans and shorts and sweats. They were in such good condition, too. There were far too many clothes for me, and so I passed some of the bags on to a friend so she could have a new wardrobe, too! Then I did some spring cleaning of my own.

Later I took my girls on a walk and one of my neighbors had a bunch of things on her porch to give away. More spring cleaning and more free stuff for me! I only took what I would use:

* a set of oars, which comes in handy since we broke an oar at Catalina Island last year.
* a wooden folding chair--I have been looking for nice folding chairs for years because we entertain so much.
* a Rubbermaid set of drawers on wheels--next week I was going to buy a plastic bin to store costumes for Young Life and this is even better!
* a wet suit to loan (give) to the next high school student who wants to go surfing with Eric.
* a chalkboard for the girls to use outside.
* and a plastic sword to replace my pirate sword that Amber broke last year (my Jack Sparrow costume is complete again!)

This just goes to show you that if you wait long enough, you don't have to pay for anything, and that includes food. To end our "free day," we ate out at Farmer & The Cook gratis because Eric fixed the owner's car door and he was paid with a gift certificate.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, "If it's free, it's for me!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Perspective: found on the sidewalk

I just recovered from having the flu. I spent the last four days in bed--literally. While I lay in bed day after day, my outlook on life got grimmer and grimmer until I felt like I was in a pit of despair (no wise cracks from Princess Bride). Not only was I sick, but I had my usual headaches and there were a few other troubles thrown in the mix. It made for one hurting, crabby and very sad Christine. Until last night. I decided to surrender all of my troubles to the Lord. I had been doing that all along, but my natural tendency to control things found me taking all my troubles back.

Today I felt better--physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was the first day I felt good and so I decided to go on a walk, since I had missed a week of my morning walks. On my way back home, I saw a friend of mine and crossed the street to chat with her. I inquired about her husband, who recently had back surgery-gone-bad. She told me that he has not improved and for now he can't even walk. He can't even walk. He can't walk. I had to pause when I returned home to let that sink in. I felt pretty miserable after my inaugural walk (a touch of the flu still in my body) but I was still able to walk. I walked to the bedroom to change my clothes. I walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I walked. It put things in perspective for me. Now I'm not discounting my former feelings of despair or pain or sadness. Most of them were valid and true. But I got out of bed this morning and I can walk.

I can walk.

I can walk.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Real Conversation and Instant Communication

I was talking to my husband tonight about how disconnected we, as a society, have become. With texting came easier, faster, instant communication, but at what cost? I know most of you have read the articles or heard the experts talk about how texting has fostered an inability for teen-agers to have face-to-face conversation. This is not what I am writing about.

Lately I've been disappointed with the fact that it is getting more and more difficult to have a real conversation with another adult. By "real conversation," I mean one that is uninterrupted by a phone call or a text message. More than once I have sat in a coffee shop with a friend who has checked her phone throughout our short time together. Sure, the phone is on vibrate and it isn't ringing the whole time we talk, but it is sending her little signals to check her text messages, which she so dutifully does. She assures me that she is paying attention to me and tells me to "continue" with what I am saying, but at some point it gets rather old, and I feel that what I have to say isn't really important. The truth is, it isn't.

This happens not only in the coffee shop, but it happens as I talk with people who are visiting in my home. It happens during Bible study, and yes, I have even seen people text in church. I guess what the pastor has to say isn't that important, either. At least I'm in good company.

I may have ticked off a few friends by what I wrote. After all, who am I to talk about texting, I don't even own a cell phone. On the other hand, maybe no one will read this since blogs are a thing of the past. But I really am concerned with how far we've come in this techno-savvy age we live in. Have we come so far that we've forgotten the importance of a real, uninterrupted conversation--a conversation in which both people can talk and be heard, really heard? Have we forgotten that the people who are right in front of us are--at least for those few moments--more important than the people who are on the other end of the cell phone? Instant communication has its costs, just like instant gratification, instant coffee and instant mashed potatoes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Woodleaf Family Ministry Getaway

It's been more than a week since we returned from Woodleaf, and I am finally sitting down to record some of the highlights of our 10-day stay in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the second year we've gone to Woodleaf, a Young Life camp, so that Eric could help the camp mechanic service and repair camp and staff vehicles. In exchange for Eric's help, we get to stay on this beautiful campus free of charge. This year, we got to stay in a home that is 100-years-old! That was fun!
While at Woodleaf, we went on walks in the woods by ourselves (me), went on walks as a family, fixed cars (Eric), homeschooled, petted horses, picnicked by the lake, picnicked on the porch, painted (the girls), fed the birds, fed the fish, took lots of pictures, found an elf, had dinner at the Gardners, had lunch at the Greshams, had dinner at the Gardners again, had lunch at the Hagenbuchs, went on a muddy walk with Becca (me), slept in, babysat the Gardner kids, went on a date (Eric & I), made a lot of crafts, went to a Ladies' Bible study, raided the Lost-N-Found, cleaned and organized the Falck House kitchen, went hot-tubing, ate ice cream at the Sugar Barrel, had a fish fry with Eric's sea bass, strengthened relationships, made dandelion wishes, stopped to smell the flowers, saw six baby goslings, saw dozens of geese, helped build a fence, built a fort in the living room, watched it rain, watched it hail, WATCHED MY GIRLS DANCE IN THE FALLING SNOW!

The 100-year-old Falck House front porch
(I failed to get a pic of the whole house!)

Dancing in the snow.

The girls.

Amber took this adorable picture!

Daddy & his girls by the lake.