Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First day of school

We started school today. The girls have been begging me for two weeks to begin, so they were very excited when today arrived! Here are a few pictures.

Moving up in the world!



The girls with Mom, their teacher. (Dad teaches math, but he played hookey today and went fishing.!)

The girls and their reading tutor, Joanne, with some of the students they will be in class with a few hours a week.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Anniversary, Airplanes, Awards, Bats, Books, Balls, Horses, Henna, Weddings, Wardrobe

Our Summer in Pictures...

We celebrated our 18th Anniversary in Santa Barbara, stopping on the way down to eat lunch at a Greek roadside stand in La Conchita.
For Father's Day, we surprised Eric's dad with lunch in Ventura.
The surprise? Eric's two sisters, from Canada and Nevada, made the trip for the special weekend!

Papa Gow and the girls flew to Denver to stay with Auntie Deborah.

The girls stayed with Auntie Deborah (and Uncle Rich and Chloe the Wonder Dog) for two weeks. Christine joined them for the second week.

While in Colorado, the girls did many things, including making Bat Houses at Berry Patch Farms.

Christine and the girls were richly blessed while in Denver when they got to visit with their closest friends, the Frazees, whom they had not seen in more than four years!

Back in Ojai, the girls had tea with fairies and their friend, Gabi.

The girls went to Horse Camp for two weeks.
They learned about horses, got to groom them, walk them and--of course--ride them!

Amber hosted a Book Club every Monday.

The kids read and discussed "Treasure Maker," a book about finding their true identity in Christ.

We were blessed to be a part of our neighbor's Indian wedding celebration, which lasted all week!

At one of the nightly celebrations, Christine and the girls had Henna painted on their hands.

It was sad when, a week later, the Henna finally wore off!

The whole family joined our church friends at the County Fair one evening to watch the stock car races and cheer on Eric's business partner, Darren, in the Demolition Derby! He got 4th place out of 8.

The Barn Community (our church) played in a summer county soccer league. We ended the season with a perfect record: ZERO WINS! But we had fun. We were told over and over by other teams that we were the most fun team, and the best losers!

At an "awards ceremony" at The Barn, everyone received awards. Eric got MVP for scoring one of only 3 goals that were scored the whole season!

Christine surprised the girls with a trip to Westmont College in Santa Barbara to see the wardrobe that was in C.S. Lewis' home in Oxford, England.

This is one of the wardrobes that was in Lewis' home when he wrote the Narnia series and it is said that this is the one on which he based "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

Just checking to see if we can get to Narnia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lunch for Teddy

My friend, Susan, is visiting us from Thailand and today we took her to downtown Ventura to thrift store shop and go to the museum. As we were leaving the first thrift store, a man standing just outside the door asked us if we had a dollar to give him. I asked him if he was hungry and he said that he was, and so we walked next door to the Mexican restaurant and I ordered the man, Teddy, a burrito. Susan and the girls sat down at a booth and I waited to pay the cashier.

As we waited for the burrito to be made, Teddy told me that he was trying to get some money for two things: a haircut and food. He said, “I got enough money for the haircut and now I can eat. Thank you.” I noticed that he did look like he had just had a haircut, and I appreciated his honesty. He went on to tell me that he was very grateful for the food because he was very nervous about having to get a shot later today for the “voices in his head.” He said his case worker was going to take him to the doctor later and he is afraid of the big needle. I asked him if I could pray for him. He grabbed his burrito and we sat down in the booth with Susan and the girls. I asked if I could lay my hand on his shoulder and he said “yes.” I prayed for Teddy, for his upcoming doctor visit and for peace and then I prayed that he would make wise decisions today.

I said "Amen" and we said our goodbyes to Teddy and proceeded to walk across the street to the next thrift store. We were halfway through the crosswalk when I heard shouting. I turned to see Teddy waving his hands and shouting, “You left your purse! You left your purse!” It turned out that Autumn had left her purse, with her allowance money, in the booth at the restaurant. We walked back across the street and retrieved the purse. I was completely blown away by the fact that Teddy flagged us down and returned the purse, with the money inside. Now it was my turn to thank Teddy. That purse was particularly special to Autumn, one that could not easily be replaced. I was very grateful. As I retold the story to Eric tonight, it dawned on me that God had already answered one of my prayers. Teddy did make the right decision today by returning the purse.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wildflowers in Ojai

Almost every year, I take pictures of the girls in the field of mustard flowers at the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Despite the drought, this year the flowers seem brighter and more plentiful. It is breathtaking!

Mustard flowers as far as the eye can see!

Check out the butterfly in the upper right corner.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amber's NARNIA party!

By the Lion's Mane, Amber turned 11. For her birthday, we had a Chronicles of Narnia costume party, based on the books more than the movies. It was AWESOME!!! So far, it was the best theme party I've hosted. We didn't spend a ton of money, either. We handmade decorations and crafts, borrowed dishes and shopped at thrift stores. The most money we spent was on the food, and even then it was very economical. It was a family party, so there were as many adults as there were kiddos. Everyone really got into the theme and had an epic time. Below are several pictures, with detailed descriptions in case you ever want to throw a party like this yourself. Enjoy!

The birthday girl, Amber, as Aravis.
Mom (Christine) as Susan and sister Autumn as Lucy. We got all three dresses at thrift stores and garage sales.
Amber's art teacher painted the Dawn Treader on a bed sheet. We hung the sheet on the door frame of the front door and propped a huge empty frame (we got at a garage sale) against the door. We left the door open and guests walked "through the painting" into the house.
We decorated the mantle with Narnia-ish items we had already. We printed out well-known Narnia quotes (found on the internet) and framed them in frames we already had.

We displayed our two boxed sets of Narnia books.
Dad (Eric) dressed up as Prince Caspian.
We had a Narnia Photo Booth so guests could dress up and have their picture taken. We used costumes we already had and bought a few more at a thrift store.

We had 3 craft stations. This is Peter's Crown Station. We bought blank gold crowns and self-adhesive gems and let the kids decorate a crown. This was so easy!

Lucy's Cordial Station was Autumn's idea.

The guests filled empty amber glass bottles with water and added a few drops of essential oils to make a perfume (or cologne for boys).

This station was the most popular, even with the boys.

Edmund's Sword Station was also well-liked.
We cut several pieces of bamboo from our backyard and pre-assembled them by wrapping twine around two pieces to form a sword.

The kiddos used black electrical tape for the handle and silver duct tape for the sword. Papa Hodge (as Aslan) helped the kids with the duct tape.
We didn't give out treat bags because the kids would be taking home plenty of fun goodies. Instead, we labeled brown paper grocery bags with the kids' names so they could put all of their crafts inside.

Susan's Archery Lessons were the most popular with the adults. We had two Archery Contests (kids and adults). Each guest was given 3 arrows to shoot at balloons. The one to pop the most balloons was the winner! In the event of a tie, we had a shoot-off. We used 5-inch balloons and taped them to an old comforter attached to the garage door.
It's harder than it looks!

Another contest was Free the Creatures from the White Witch's Spell. We froze plastic wild animals (2 1/2 inches each) in large ice cube trays. The first one to melt the ice and free the animal was the winner. They could only use their hands. The adults also loved this game!
The food table. We borrowed pewter plates and mugs from our friend who caters weddings.

I'm not a cake decorator. This cake was easy-peasy!

I was not about to make Turkish Delight from scratch (15 steps and a 2-day process), so I cheated. Here's how I made 10-Minute Turkish Delight: I bought two boxes of Cherry Lara Bars and cut each bar into fourths. Then I rolled each piece in powdered sugar and assembled them on a pewter plate. *You have to do this the day of the party, not before, or the powdered sugar will soak in and disappear.

Mr. Tumnus' Hot Chocolate Station had cocoa and marshmallows.

It's so much fun to drink cocoa out of a pewter mug!
We had a contest for the Best Costume. The White Witch won the prize! The prizes for all of the contests were either homemade (hot chocolate mix) bought at thrift stores (used Narnia books) or from the dollar store (plastic swords).

Best party ever!