Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Amber is going on her first (non-parent-arranged) sleepover. She was invited to spend the night at our next-door-neighbor's house this Friday. Julisa is two years older than Amber. The plans were made last Friday and it's just about all Amber has been talking about since then. It's only next door and it's still two days away, but Amber has gathered her clothes, nightgown and swimsuit (oh yeah, you never know when the hot weather will set in!) She wants me to get out her little pink suitcase, too. "And I don't want to forget my toothbrush," she reminded me. I told her that she's only going next door and she can brush her teeth when she returns the next morning, but she said, "Julisa said I HAVE to bring my toothbrush." We have plans for Saturday morning, so Amber is really only going to be next door for a short visit. However, she and Julisa have made all sorts of plans for the sleepover, which include a possible trip to the mall, movies, lots of food, playing in the backyard (if it doesn't rain) and performing a little musical.

I got to thinking about Amber's sleepover, and the excitement of an almost 7-year-old over a few hours of fun that hasn't even happened yet. Do I get that excited about an upcoming trip or retreat or vacation? Or do I see it as "one more thing to do?" Do I anticipate a getaway with statements like, "I HAVE to pack the suitcases." Do I say that "my schedule is so full" just because it includes a weekend away from normal life?

I hope I approach new adventures with anticipation. In some ways I think I do. I almost always pack for a vacation several days in advance. Still, I could take a few more cues from my daughter and try to view time away with friends or family as something very exciting--something worth talking about well in advance. The anticipation Amber has had over this Friday's sleepover has brought cheer to the house, to the dinner table, to our conversations.

Well, I better go dig out the pink suitcase.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Overheard at the Hodge Lodge

Lately we've been having a hard time with our youngest, Autumn Brooke, who is 4 1/2 years old. She has been very disobedient, disrespectful and she whines about practically everything.

"Autumn has been really hard these last six months. I think she's going through the terrible fours," Eric said to me tonight. "Amber has been really good lately. She gave us a hard time in her ones, twos, threes, fours and slightly into her fifth year."

I needed a good laugh tonight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Eggs & Toast

Every year on St. Patrick's Day, I make a special "green" breakfast for my daughters. They have grown to anticipate this with much excitement. This year, they started talking about the "green day" weeks before today. A few days ago I told them that I was going to serve broccoli, kale, spinach, green beans, peas and rainbow chard (after all, leprechauns like rainbows). While they do like all these greens (except the chard), they protested to my ideas. We all had a good laugh.

This morning I prepared green eggs, shamrock toast with green butter and green milk. They enjoyed the fun breakfast, as usual. Amber picked up the fork and said, "The fork is green, too!" It was a joy to see their expressions as they began their day of green. Below are a few pictures so you can see what I'm writing about. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
"The fork is green, too!"

Two "Irish" cuties. (we have a wee bit of Ireland our genes)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lunch With a Homeless Man

Today my daughters and I had lunch with a few homeless people in Ventura. It's a long story, but a neat one...

Our homeschool group had a field trip scheduled in Ventura today at 1:00. It's a 30 minute drive to the event, and I had my women's Bible study before hand, so I decided we would leave from church and go straight to the meeting place. I packed a lunch this morning so we could just eat in the car on the way. When Bible study ended, I looked at the clock. It was only 11:30. I was an hour off. All morning I was thinking that we ended at 12:30. We end at 11:30 every week, so I don't know where my mind was this morning. But I really think that God had it all figured out. I decided that instead of going home for an hour and eating our lunch, we would just drive to Ventura and have a picnic before the field trip started. After all, the car was already packed with food.

We drove to the beach, and parked the car near Eric Ericssons (for you So Cal folks). There's a playground right on the sand. As we pulled into the parking space, I noticed a group of homeless people sitting on the sidewalk. I remembered that in the trunk of my car I had one last "homeless bag" (a large ziploc bag filled with granola bars, water, gum, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, etc.). I grabbed it and Amber said, "Can I give it to them, mommy?" She really likes giving these to people.

We walked up to the the two ladies and one man and Amber said hello and handed them the bag. They said "thank you" and "God bless you" and we started to walk down the sidewalk to find a place to eat our lunch. Then I got to thinking, "Why don't we sit down and eat with them?" There was an empty bench right there in front of them. So we turned around and sat down near them. The girls sat on the sidewalk and I sat on the bench. I started talking to the man about music, because he was wearing headphones. I asked him what he was listening to. After a few minutes, another man rode up on a bicycle. He parked it near the others and started chatting with them I could tell they were all friends. I asked the newcomer (his name is August) if he was hungry and he said "no."

"You know what I really, really want?" he said.

"What?" I asked.

"To talk to someone."

I patted the seat next to me and said, "Well, sit down and let's talk."

"Are you for real?" August asked me with questioning eyes.

"Yes," I answered, still pointing to the bench.

August sat down and said, "What do you want to talk about? The Lord?"

I said, "No, unless you want to talk about the Lord."

He looked at me with curious eyes and said, "You just want to talk? You don't have an agenda?"

I assured him that I didn't.

"Then why are you being nice to me?" August was still skeptical.

"Because I like to be nice to people."

"Come on, there's got to be a reason you're being nice to me. It's because of Jesus, isn't it?"

"Okay," I admitted. "I'm not going to lie to you. I am being nice to you because I read the Bible, and in the Bible Jesus was nice to people and He helped people wherever he went. And I want to be like Jesus. But I did not ask you to sit and talk to me because I wanted to tell you about Jesus. I really just wanted to be nice to you. You wanted to talk and I wanted to listen."

After that, we settled into a real conversation. He told me of his addiction to drinking alcohol and how he wanted to quit but didn't think he could. I told him that maybe today was the day for him to quit and he was honest with me and said that he didn't think it was today. He showed me his hand, the finger that once wore a wedding ring and he told me he had children. Then he told me that he thought I was an angel. I told him that I was most definitely not. Then he said, "I really want to say something." I could sense that it might not be a good thing so I asked him if it was appropriate to say in front of my girls. He said that it wasn't appropriate and we talked about something else. I asked him again if he was hungry, offering him some of our lunch.

" No, I'm not hungry," August said. "But I am real thirsty."

What happened next warmed my heart. Both my daughters almost leaped up off of the sidewalk and handed August their water bottles; they were the metal reusable kind. He took Amber's bottle and hesitated. He said he couldn't drink from her bottle. I said that she didn't care. They could share Autumn's water, anyway.

"She wouldn't have offered you her water if she didn't want you to drink it. Please drink it," I said.

August drank the water and the girls ran off to play on the nearby slide, having finished their sandwiches. That meant that they were out of earshot. August got up and turned to get his bicycle. Then he turned back and said, "I really want to kiss you right now."

"That would be highly inappropriate," I said, holding back a giggle.

He smiled, thanked me for the water and conversation and rode away. I silently prayed for him, and I thanked God that we got to have lunch with those precious people. I thanked God that my daughters were with me and that they--in reckless abandon--offered their water to a stranger.

A few minutes later, when I retold the story to a friend of mine at the field, she said, "There was a reason you were an hour off this morning. There was a reason you didn't go back home to eat lunch. God wanted you to be there at the beach at that exact time so you could talk to that man."

Yeah, I guess so.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Music To My Ears

Overheard at the Hodge Lodge lately:

"Can I vacuum, please, daddy? I've only vacuumed once ever in my life!" Amber Shea

"Mama, is there anything I can do to help you set the table?"
Amber Shea

"Broccoli! I LOOOOOVVVEE broccoli!"
Autumn Brooke

"Mommy, you're my best friend!"
Autumn Brooke

"Mama, you make the best chili in the whole world!"
Amber Shea

"You're right, mommy."
Amber Shea

Canine Hero

I saved another dog today. I can't count how many dogs I've rescued in Ojai over the years, bringing them into my house (despite the fact that I am highly allergic), calling their owners and keeping them safe until the owners come and get them. (They can't stay in our back yard because we don't have a gate.) I've rescued little dogs and big dogs. I've pulled over on the side of the road and let dogs hop into my car so I could deliver them safely back home. I've even corralled a dog at church (the same dog several times) and kept him safe until his nearby owner came. Dogs just like me. They are attracted to me and I think it's ironic because I can't even as much as touch them before I start sneezing. Still, I feel compelled to be their hero. Most of the time, though, their owners aren't very appreciative of my help. Like today when I called the owner of Fido, she said she knew that he escaped earlier today but she didn't have the energy to chase him down. I couldn't believe it! Once, I kept a dog at my house all day--ALL DAY. He tore to shreds my Tupperware bowl that I used to give him water and he kicked a board loose in the fence outside. I should have let him go--he was a maniac. And when the day was over and his owner came to get him, I did not even get a "thank you." Can you believe it? Oh well, I will still continue to help wandering canines. My daughters like it because they temporarily get to have a pet. So, if you have a dog in the Ojai Valley and it goes missing, give me a call; there's a good chance he's hanging out at my house playing with my girls!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One flower plus a hike in the woods equals a lot of medical bills

It's been crazy here at the Hodge Lodge lately. One thing after another keeps happening. At the beginning of February we took Autumn to the doctor because she was complaining of bad pain in her leg. A series of x-rays showed no signs of disease. Chalk it up to "growing pains." We no sooner received the bill for that trip to the doctor, and then--well--you'll have to read it to believe it...
Feb. 8: The Calla Lily & the E.R.

Young Life ended early on February 8, and Eric remembered that we had been invited to a friend's birthday party. They said we could arrive late, after Young Life. And so, with 35 minutes before our babysitter expected us home, we made an appearance at the party. The festivities were in the backyard and it was dark. Eric's friend said, "There's no cake left, but here, you can have this," and handed him a flower garnish off the cake. It was covered in icing and Eric thought it was some sort of cream cheese lettuce wrap. He ate the whole thing. As soon as he swallowed it, he said it felt like 1000 bees were stinging the inside of his mouth. His throat started closing up, too. We fetched another garnish from the cake tray and discovered that he had eaten a calla lily, After a quick google search, it was determined that the calla lily flower is poisonous. Eric popped some benadryl in his mouth and I wished him off to the hospital, thankfully five minutes away. However, once we were in the emergency room, we had to wait another 35 minutes before being seen. The only other person in front of us had a shoulder injury and he said we could go in before him. Still, we had to wait. Eric said to me, "I need some water," and--through a telephone--I told that to the receptionist behind the impersonal glass wall. She snipped at me, "He shouldn't have anything until he sees the doctor." I said, "And when is he going to see a doctor." She assured me that we were next in line and I said, "Does the words 'his throat is closing up' mean anything to you?" Yeah, I was more than irritated and Eric told me later that he appreciated that I went to such lengths to try to get him seen right away. In the end, the benadryl that he took at the party and a novocain cocktail relieved the pain and by the next morning he was feeling much better. We have insurance, but a high deductible. I can't wait to see the hospital bill!

Feb. 25: I think it's getting bigger!

Mid-February Eric discovered a big bump on his back (a glorified zit) and we kept an eye on it. It kept getting bigger and became hard as a rock. A visit to Dr. H confirmed Eric's suspicions--he had a staff infection. The doc had to lance it to remove all the.... Anyway, Eric was given a prescription for antibiotics and was sent on his merry way.

March 2: Casualty of being a hunter-gatherer

Eric wasn't even finished with his first round of antibiotics when he had to go back to Dr. H for another prescription. Only this time it was for an entirely new problem. On Sunday, after Eric went mushroom hunting, I pulled a tic out of his arm. I got the whole tic, but--of course--it had already done damage. Today Eric went back to the doc and was told he has an infection (not lime disease, don't worry). While he was there, Dr. H told him that the lab results on his back zit showed no signs of foul play. That's good news.

So tonight Eric is taking two different antibiotics and resting peacefully in bed. And we are all praying for a normal day for him tomorrow and the next and then next. We are also thankful for a tax return that will arrive hopefully before all of the medical bills.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Procrastination, a poem

My "in basket" is overflowing.

I am blogging.

I can see my "in basket" out of the corner of my eye.

I am thinking of watching a video on Netflix.

Or writing in my journal.

Or taking a bath.

My "in basket" looks sad, neglected.

But if I cleaned it out today, what would there be left for me to do tomorrow?

I wonder what's new on Netflix?