Thursday, December 27, 2012

I laughed so hard, snot came out my nose!

Yes, it's true.

My dad has been here for 9 days. He leaves tomorrow for Phoenix. We had loads of fun! We shopped at thrift stores, looked at Christmas lights, saw Santa and played a lot of games of Sorry and Skip-Bo. We celebrated my dad's birthday. We stayed up late talking. We listened to my dad tell stories of his childhood (Amber and I enjoyed that the most). And we laughed and laughed and laughed!

Tonight as we ate dinner, one funny thing led to another and before I knew it, I was laughing so hard, that--well--you know the rest of the story!

My dad and I before we took him out for his birthday dinner.

My dad and the girls with Santa the night we went looking at Christmas lights.

Merry Christmas!

The traditional picture by the tree.

If you can believe it...this is the only picture I got of the two papas on Christmas. I forgot to take pictures of them with the girls. Oops!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas movies are my favorite

I am a sucker for Christmas movies. I’ve probably seen every Christmas movie that was ever made, especially those cheesy Hallmark or Lifetime made-for-t.v. Christmas specials. I’ve seen them all, thanks to Netflix. I don’t even have to wait for the holidays to watch Christmas movies. I can view them any time of the year. And I do. Watching Christmas videos during the summer is fun because for 90 minutes or so, I am transformed from hot Ojai to cold Minnesota or Chicago or New York where it is always snowing and everyone seems happy about that.

I really like watching cheesy Christmas movies during late-November and December, when Ojai finally cools off. Not only do I like the cold weather that comes with Christmas, but I love the whole package--literally. I love the decorations and the trees and the lights and the shiny presents with big bows. Christmas movies deliver all of that. I mean, where else are you going to find presents wrapped with gold paper and tied off with huge, red bows?

Just about every Christmas movie starts out the same—people of all ages are bustling about with smiles on their faces, getting along with everyone as they decorate their homes or shop windows. Deck the halls or Jingle Bells is always playing somewhere in the background and there is snow, lots of snow. (Ever wonder why Hollywood never makes a Christmas movie based in Hollywood?)

Bad acting? No problem. It doesn’t even bother me most of the time. As long as I feel warm and fuzzy when the movie is over, I’m good. I mean, every Christmas movie ends with something unimaginable happening, like it snows in a place where it hasn’t snowed in decades, or a homeless kid finds a family to be a part of, or (my favorite) two people who just met a week earlier fall in love and walk down the aisle. Someone gets their job back. Some kid gets a new mom or a new dad or a new puppy.  

Maybe that’s another reason why I love Christmas movies. I love the hope that is portrayed among the cheesy lines and bad acting.

I love Christmas movies!

Rudolph, Rewritten

My dad is here for 10 days. We've had lots of fun. Today Eric's dad came over and we were just plain silly. Eric's dad started it, we joined in, and soon we had a new version of Rudolph...
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very snotty nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it blows.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names. (Like 'Snotty Face')
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games. (Cause his nose ran.)

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say (Blow, Blow, Blow)
"Rudolph with your nose so snotty,
go get a kleenix neat the potty."

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee, (He's clean!)
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history (Like the handkerchief.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cambria Vacation 2012

The first week of December each year, we take a family vacation to Cambria, just 3 hours north of us. We stay at Cambria Pines Lodge and we have many traditions that we do during the five days we are there. We go to Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals, the beach at Moro Rock, mushroom hunting, thrift store shopping in San Luis Obispo, shopping at our favorite Cambria stores, watching the glass blower in Harmony, touring the gardens at the lodge every morning after breakfast, walking through the Christmas light display at the lodge every evening and hot tubbing sometimes twice a day. This year, we added something: I took Amber on the Hearst Castle tour. History being her favorite subject in school, she LOVED the tour and soaked it all in. Here are some of my favorite vacation pictures.

The annual family picture in the beautiful gardens at Cambria Pines Lodge.

The girls saw Santa in San Luis Obispo.

Moro Rock on a cold, windy day!

Christine & Amber at Hearst Castle.

Eric & Autumn mushroom hunting.

We went to every thrift store in San Luis Obispo!

And...perhaps the most disgusting thing we've done on vacation: Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo. It is a 15-foot high and 70-foot long alley lined with chewed gum. It dates back to the end of WWII. The girls held their noses from the sweet but overpowering smell. It was pretty gross!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Inventor God

Today, as we made a Christmas craft together, Autumn said, "Mommy, you're the best mommy in the whole world. You love us so much. But you love God and Jesus more, right?"

"Yes," I answered. "I love God first, then daddy and then you and your sister."

Autumn said, "I also love God more than I love you because God invented me."

"You mean, He created you?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's what I mean," she said.

If a tree falls in the living room...

It's never to late to blog about a funny story...

If a Christmas tree falls in the living room and no one is around to hear it, did it really fall?

You know the scene in the cheesy Christmas movie where the Christmas tree, decorated in all of its glory, suddenly comes crashing to the floor? Yes that scene. I've seen it many times in movies. Well, it can actually happen in real life, too!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, our family and Papa Hodge joined some friends and boarded a train in Filmore bound for Santa Paula to pick out our Christmas tree. We searched. We found. We chopped the perfect tree down. We ate a picnic lunch and we boarded the train for the ride back to the station. The trees rode back on the train, too.

We tied the perfect tree to Papa's car and drove back to Ojai. That night we decorated it. We went to bed and the next morning we had to do it all over again!

In the middle of the night, our beautiful, perfect Christmas tree fell forward onto the carpet. Funny! What made the story even more humorous was that Eric--having gotten up in the middle of the night with back pain--had fallen back asleep on the living room floor. The tree could have landed on him. Can you imagine...

Anyway, when Eric awoke the next morning, he found a tree lying next to him. He propped it back up and anchored it to the wall with fishing line and a screw. By the time I wandered out of bed that morning, the girls had all of the ornaments on the chair, waiting to redecorate the tree. Amazingly enough, only two ornaments broke; one made of paper and one of clay. Both were not sentimental. Eric didn't take pictures of the tree lying on the floor, but here are a few of BOTH of our decorating times.

Decorating #1: Autumn helping Eric with the lights.

The finished tree #1, Saturday night.

Decorating #2: Amber putting on the Angel.

The finished tree #2, Sunday morning.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Autumn turned 7

On November 17, Autumn turned 7. We took her and her sister to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Thousand Oaks Mall. I haven't had a chance to post pictures, but I didn't want to let this special day go unmentioned. Here's a few pics of the birthday girl. It's hard to believe she's 7.

The birthday girl in her polar bear hat that mommy & daddy gave her.

Autumn with her new bear she made. She named her "Pink Lemonade." I love the Christmas outfit she got for her bear.

The Hodge girls after a fun night at the mall.

Eric and the girls. Amber named the bear she made "Brown Sugar Brave." She got a "Brave" outfit to go on her bear!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Small Town Football Team Wins BIG!!!!

If you've read my blog posts for a few years, you know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE high school football. So, it was no surprise when I cried, literally cried, when I read this title on the internet after the championship game last night.

"Nordhoff wins program's first CIF football title."

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about! The team has never won, not ever, in its 103-year existence.

It was an away game, but we got little updates from our friends who were there at the game, via texting. I never heard the final score, though, so I went on the web and was overjoyed to read that they had WON!!! With a final score of 31-14, the Nordhoff High School football team took the CIF Southern Section Northwest Division championship title.

Okay, now I need to get another kleenix!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There's a snowman in the house!

So much to blog about, so little time. Meanwhile, this is what the girls and I did today...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A BRAVE family

For Halloween tonight, we were the family from the new Disney movie, Brave.  The entire ensemble for the whole family cost under $20. Awesome!

Amber as Merida. She created her entire outfit. She bought the dress, shoes and belt at at thrift store for $6 total. She and Eric made the bow. The wig cost $6, but we used an Amazon gift card and got it free!

Autumn as Angus, Merida's horse. She used Amber's costume from a few years ago, which we bought for $4 at a thrift store.

Christine as Queen Elinor. The dress was bought at a yard sale for $2. The crown was the only thing we bought retail, it was a mere $2.

Eric as King Fergus. Yes, he is wearing a ladies' skirt (what a good sport)! I bought the skirt for $3 at a consignment store. I made the hat out of tin foil and the sword was from my old pirates costume. The bag in front is a reused gift bag.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What a sight!

Tonight I walked in the girls' room to say good night, and I caught Amber reading Autumn a bedtime story. There aren't many things more precious than this...

Young Life--10 Years in Ojai

Yesterday we went to an old-fashioned western carnival to celebrate Young Life Ojai Valley's 10-Year Anniversary!!! Eric and I have been volunteer leaders with Young Life for the past five years and I have written many stories and posted many pictures on my blog about the adventures we've had with this amazing teen ministry. Here's some photos of the fun day yesterday.

We love Young Life!

Ballerina Autumn!

Cowgirl Amber!

Christine & Autumn having an identity crisis!

Amber rode the zip line! Autumn wanted to, also, but the line was too long and the time ran out.

Eric's dad, Bob, rode the zip line, too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall is in the house

I just couldn't help myself. The weather cooled off a few degrees today and I found myself lugging out the two large boxes of fall decorations. It is officially autumn, even if it doesn't feel like it. After dinner, I decorated the house for the harvest season. Fall may not be in the air, but it is definitely in my house.

The Long Day Series #1: Got Sand?

Got Sand?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I am not a beach person. I grew up in a big city with a lot of asphalt. There are no beaches in Phoenix and therefore no sand to get in-between my toes or--heaven forbid--inside my purse or backpack.

Then I moved to Southern California, just a dozen miles from the coast. Over the past 16 years, I've tried to embrace the idea of sand. For years I joined friends at the beach every Sunday afternoon. I would pack my beach bag, grab my chair and head to the seashore. I would unfold my chair and ever-so-carefully set it in the sand and then gently place my beach bag beside it. I would keep my bag zipped at all times, only opening it to retrieve a magazine or towel or snack. I was very careful to not get sand on my body as well, except for my feet of course. If there was a way to keep sand off of my feet, I would have done that, too.

I'm not bothered by the water, though. I like the water. I love the water. I've always enjoyed swimming--in pools or lakes or the deep ocean. It's just the sand I have a problem with. The gritty, microscopic sand.

Well, today was one of those days where I embraced the sand. Eric and the girls went on a half-day fishing trip. I opted to stay on the beach and have some much-needed " mom time" while they fished on the boat. I brought some books, magazines, my Bible and a notebook. I was set. I waved good-bye to the family as they motored out into the ocean. Then I chose a shady spot at the very edge of the beach, far from the water, careful not to get too much sand on my feet. I was set! Then it happened. As I was watching the boat go further out to sea, a guy walked up to me and struck up a conversation. He was a volunteer with the Ocean Conservancy and today just happened to be the California Coastal Cleanup Day. Being a remote Beach, no one had shown up to help pick up trash. For the next hour--glove on one hand and trash and recycling bags in the other--I not only got sand in-between my toes, but tar all over the bottoms of my bare feet. Because the sun was barreling down on me, I also found myself jumping in the ocean for a swim. Now my whole body had little grains of sand on it. It wasn't exactly what I'd planned to do with my morning, but it was a lot of fun. The fishing on the boat was good, too, so I still had a few more hours to myself to read and write.

When my family finally returned, with 137 pounds of  rock fish, Amber asked me to go boogie-boarding with her. I obliged. We swam, rode the waves, tumbled on top of each other and practically covered ourselves in sand! Riding a wave all the way to the shore means you will likely end up on the beach, in the sand. And we did! And we had a blast! And I realized that there was life after sand.

My boogie-boarding adventure was cut short, however, when a wave blind-sided me and I slammed my foot against a rock that was hidden by the tide. I broke my pinkie toe and spent the rest of the time sitting on my board on shore and watching Amber have fun. Soon she joined me and we played in the sand together. Eric and Autumn arrived shortly thereafter, and we all spent the remaining minutes at the beach building sand castles.

It was a fun day and I got one step closer to enjoying the sand. I was still careful when I packed up my chair and belongings, making sure none of the beautiful sand made it back to my house. After all, we want the sand to be there the next time we visit the beach. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The top and bottom

At the dinner table tonight, Amber asked an interesting question. (I don't even remember what the question was, but that doesn't matter.)

I said, "Where did you come up with that?"

She said, "Just off the top of my head."

I replied, "As opposed to the bottom of your head."

Amber said, "Well, the bottom is where I think stuff up and the top is where I ask."

She went on to say, "Sometimes things just stay on the bottom and never come up to the top."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First weeks of school

First Day of School. I now teach 1st and 4th grades.

Autumn working on her letters.

Our first craft of the school year: making bird feeders.

Take a pine cone, attach a piece of string to the stem, spread peanut butter all over it, roll it in birdseed and hang it up outside.

It was fun to look out the window and catch a bird eating from one of these feeders.
History "class" with some friends. My friend, Lori, and I are using the same history curriculum, so she offered to get together every other week to review the lessons and make a related craft.

Lori did an amazing job making this map! The kids loved getting together to review what they've been studying at home and make a craft together. History is still Amber's favorite subject.

First day of art class with their teacher, Miss Rie. She's been coming to our house for more than a year to teach Amber art. Now Autumn is a student, too.

Amber the Artist!

First field trip: Butterfly Exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. For a long time, I have wanted to go to this exhibit that happens only once-a-year.

Amber examining one of the hundreds and hundreds of butterflies we saw.

Autumn getting up close and personal with a Queen butterfly.

Amber has a "eye for beauty."

Amber with her reading tutor, Miss Joanne, and two students from class. The field trip was set up by Joanne.

What a beauty! I will never tire of taking pictures of my girls.