Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Well, it is official.  We have experienced our first earthquake.  And I have to tell you that I am so glad we went to the California Science Center last week for their earthquake simulator.  Before I describe what it was like for me and the kids, let me say that earthquakes can be exceedingly dangerous and devastating.  In no way am I minimizing the power of earthquakes.  I am merely sharing our first earthquake experience. 

It is a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day in SoCal.  I have the sliding glass doors and windows open to let the gently breeze fill the house.  As I stand in the kitchen preparing lunch for the kids, I thought to myself, "Wow!  The wind is really picking up."  Then I hear the house making that creaking sound that houses make in Texas when the wind is really blowing fierce.  Then I realize my feet are moving side to side.  It was like trying to stand on your mattress while someone is shaking it back and forth.  Not that I've ever tried that.  Then it dawns on me that this is an earthquake!  Within seconds it was over and the kids come running to me in the kitchen.  Carson proclaims, "That was AWESOME!"  Calleigh was not quite as excited as Carson.  She was a little scared, but was quickly reassured.  

One thing that I find interesting - A friend who has been a longtime California resident and through two major earthquakes called me shortly after the earthquake to find out what to do during an earthquake!  She said that since I was recently at the science museum and have taken the time to educate myself, she wanted to know what the experts are now saying to do during/after an earthquake (they no longer tell you to stand in the doorway).  From what I am hearing on the news, it has been so long since California has had an earthquake of any significant magnitude, most people have forgotten what to do and how to be prepared for an earthquake.  They news anchors are encouraging everyone to treat today's earthquake as a drill and to use this time to become prepared for a stronger earthquake.  So, I shared with my friend what I learned at the museum, and I told her that I will be happy to share the contents of my earthquake readiness box (you know me. . .of course I already have one of those stocked with flashlights, weather radio, extra clothes, food, water, etc).  

Thankfully, we are all safe.  Thankfully, we were well educated.  Thankfully, my kids reacted well to what could have been a very frightening experience.  But most of all, thankfully we have a God who is bigger than any earthquake.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Exploring Again - The Getty Center

I took the kids to the Getty Center in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in LA.  I had never heard of the Getty Center prior to moving to SoCal, but my curiosity was peaked when a wonderful lady at church told me about it.  Since admission to the museum is free and all you have to do is pay to park, I thought this would be a fun half day exploring adventure.

  • The Getty Center is a museum, but so much more than just a museum.  Spread across 750 acres are beautiful buildings housing famous artwork, photography, and sculptures.  There are fountains throughout, a beautiful garden, waterfalls, and a flowering maze.  In case you are thinking, "that doesn't sound like a kid-friendly place," then let me tell you what else they have.  There is a Family Room where parents and kids can spy art in treasure hunt walls, step into a painting, decorate an oversized medieval manuscript, build a giant sculpture, and relax in a bed like 18th century royalty.  This Family Room allows kids to explore various art displayed throughout the museum - only on their level and at their size and where they can touch/feel it.
  • The Getty Center also has these cool Art Detective Cards - baseball size cards with a picture of a piece of art (painting or sculpture) found throughout the museum.  The cards tell you where to find the actual pieces of art (so you go on a treasure hunt) and then gives you questions to ask about the pieces.  
  • There are some green grassy areas where kids roll down the hill and run around while parents sit under the shade of a tree and relax.  
  • You have to ride a totally cool monorail to get from the parking garage to the museum at the top of the foothill.  The kids LOVED that part.
  • It would be a great date night thing - live music, beautiful scenery, relaxed atmosphere. . .
The kids actually outlasted me at the Getty Center today.  There were two times when I asked if they were ready to go and they both said NO!  They wanted to see more!  Never thought I would hear that from my kids.  I have to say this exploring adventure was a hit.  And, I didn't get lost this time!  That makes it even better for me  :-)

America's Team

We are fortunate to have a little bit of Texas in California for the next few weeks.  The Dallas Cowboys are in Oxnard for training camp, and that is just a short little drive from our house.  Michael took Carson yesterday on the first day of training camp to catch a glimpse of America's Team.  Carson proudly wore his Romo jersey and Cowboys baseball hat.  Although they were not close enough to get autographs or meet the players (there were thousands of people there), Carson did see Romo in action.  It was a good "daddy time" day for Carson.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All in the Name of Education

This past week was a very educational week for me in the area of earthquake preparedness. We have not experienced one first hand (praise God!), but I was briefed by many adults who have been through their share of earthquakes.  There were some who claimed the small earthquakes are fun, really, like roller coaster rides.  There were some who lived through the 1994 Northridge earthquake and who are still affected by the trauma that inflicted.  You remember, the big one where the bridge collapsed?  It was just right up the road.  Been on that road.  I digress. . .

One very helpful tidbit gleaned from these conversations was to take my kids to the California Science Museum where we can experience first hand what an earthquake feels like in their earthquake simulator.  Since I have yet to prepare my kids for the natural disaster of earthquakes in California (Calleigh was rattled enough by the thought of rattlesnakes - no pun intended!), I jumped at this opportunity to educate my kids.  But this also meant that I had to drive into downtown LA by myself for the first time.  I've heard stories about that, too.  

I load up the kids, get the movie playing in the car because this is going to be a long ride, set up the GPS system, and set my mapquest directions & LA map out on the seat in front of me.  One can never be too prepared, right?  Well, apparently  I was not all that prepared.  The roads in CA are confusing to this native Texan.  Some exits are on the right, some are on the left.  There is little signage for what is coming up next.  There are no service roads where you can easily just make a u-turn and go the other way.  And the traffic - oh, the traffic.  I've never driven to downtown LA, but I can now say that I am a semi-professional.  I managed to miss our exit on the way and end up in Chinatown.  No big deal.  Just a few minutes at the gas station to read the map and then we were on our merry way again.  As we left the museum, we could not exit where we entered, so I had to take another road that led us into the hood.  No big deal.  We made a very illegal u-turn, and found our way back to the highway.  I would rather risk a ticket than getting lost any further there.  My kids had no clue that mommy was getting us lost either time.  They were merrily singing God Rocks Bible tunes in the back seat.  I am 100% positive the scriptures quoted through song out of my kid's mouths is what guided us back to the right roads.  God heard our prayers.

The museum was very nice.  The earthquake simulator was cool.  Their whole section about structures and how things are built in Southern California to withstand earthquakes was great.  It was so helpful for me to educate myself and my kids at the same time.  Carson loved the simulator and wanted to go through it twice!  Now, as I tuck my kids in bed, I can rest assured that they now know what an earthquake is, that we have them in SoCal, and what to do when we experience the real thing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Picture Perfect

Calleigh asked me to take her picture with Michael.  She is enamored with her daddy.  I hope she never runs out of kisses for Michael.  

Carson wanted in on the photo session, too.  So he posed with Michael for a quick shot.


Then Calleigh decided she could take a picture with me, too.  But only one.  So much for sharing the love with the momma.  :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mermaids at the Lake?

This week is VBS week at Rocky Peak and I am helping out in the Bible Blast storytelling room.  The sets, props, and costumes are quite elaborate and it has been fun watching all of the day's dramas come together.  

Today we told the story of Peter walking on water.  Our set was a boat in which the children sat, an old Jerusalem-type city skyline in the background, and ocean waves around the perimeter.  I told you it was elaborate!  As we were building the set yesterday, the team's creative minds decided it would be fun to add an orca whale, sea bird, and mermaid to the set by having members of the team dress up as such characters.  

I was nominated to be the mermaid.  I wore a floor-length royal blue sequined dress with aqua and royal blue sequined scarves tied to my wrist and wrapped around my head as if a crown.  It was something!  And the kids loved it!  The little girls were in awe of the sequins.  Calleigh proudly told her friends "that is my mom!"  The orca whale was fabulous!  She even talked whale like Dory in Finding Nemo.  The sea bird was hilarious!  She squawked, did the whole "mine" thing from the "mine" birds in Finding Nemo.  She even squawked things throughout the story like "focus on Jesus, squawk!" The whole production was a sight.  Our storyteller was Captain Courageous, and she did a great job communicating the Bible story to the kids while making it a fun learning opportunity.  So, I guess there really are mermaids, whales, and sea birds at the lake!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Thank God for New Friends

We've been in Simi for almost one month now, and I can't begin to explain the warmth and hospitality of the wonderful people we have met so far.  Our church welcomed us home with two huge tubs full of much needed household necessities and super fun goodies (plus toys for the kids!).  We've been invited to BBQ's, dinners with swimming and fellowship, one-on-one lunch, low-key hanging out time, play group at the beach, and swimming during the day at friend's houses.  Our kids have been included in sand play, ocean & pool play, and re-enacting the musical numbers from the new Disney movie Camp Rock.  From the moment we arrived, we have been loved on, included, and welcomed with open arms.  

Moving across country is hard.  When you have lived 35 years in essentially one place and have been surrounded by your entire family since birth, moving away from all that you know and all those you love is a grief beyond explanation.  But the healing grace of my God abounds.  He has surrounded my family with other believers who are passionate about our God and who extend love in abundance.  It is a wonderful blessing to know that I not only rest in my God's arms, I rest in the arms of the ones He places around me.  As one of my dear friends once said, "New friends build a fence around the hole in your heart left by leaving old friends.  They can't fill the space but they keep you from falling in."  I thank God for each one of our new friends and the fence you are building around our hearts.

Free Movie Tuesdays

Wonderful news!  The movie theater down the street shows two kid movies every Tuesday morning for free!  Yes, some things in life are still free. . .but there are some things you must know in order to really make this a free event.  And I've learned a few of those things just from my two attempts to see a free movie with the kids.

Week 1 Movie The Water Horse or Elmo in Grouchland - Celeste and I had a brilliant plan to walk with the kids to the movie.  It is only 2 miles from our houses, the weather is great, and it is excellent exercise for both the moms and the kids.  So, off we went.  It was fun.  Colin rode his big wheel while Carson and Calleigh alternated running and walking.  We were so proud of ourselves for this industrious idea.  Then, we get to the movie only to find out The Water Horse has no more seats available.  Huge bummer.  My kids are way over Elmo, so that doesn't even sound remotely fun to them.  So, we ended up buying tickets to Kung Fu Panda instead.  Bottom line:  leave early to get a seat.

Week 2 Movie Shrek the Third - This time we DROVE to the movies and left in plenty of time.  All is well, we have a seat, and we get to see the free movie.  Yipee!  Only, I forgot about snacks and drinks.  Mind you this is a 10:00 AM movie, but it appears when one goes to the movies, one must have movie snackage.  The time of day does not matter.  As I look around me I see a theater full of prepared mommies with their water bottles, sippy cups, home-popped corn, store-bought candy, etc.  I look down upon my $25 purchase of popcorn, soda, and candy.  Apparently this is okay with the theater because these mommies are in no way trying to hide their smuggled in treats and drinks.  They are proudly displaying them in their bulging purses/diaper bags.  Good to know.  Bottom line:  bring your own drinks and snacks.

Next week I will not only leave in time, I will smuggle in my own drinks and snacks.  Maybe then it will be a "free" movie.  :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Playgroup at the Beach

We went to the Wednesday Playgroup at Zuma Beach yesterday.  It was a great day (sunny and warm) and the kids had another fun day playing in the surf and sand.  It is a great way for the kids to have fun and meet some kids their age from church.  At one point, Calleigh turned to a little girl whom she met previously and said, "You're here.  I didn't know you were here.  Why are we not playing together?"  She also told a group of older boys not to play in the hole that she dug in the sand.  :-)  That's is my little assertive girl, not afraid to tell the big boys what they can and cannot do.  Michael joined us after work and we ate fish and chips at Neptune's Net, a little hole in the wall place right off the beach.  Here is a pic of the kids in the holes they dug out of the sand.  They relaxed in those little holes for quite a while.

Up close with Carson in the hole.

Up close with Calleigh in the hole.  This one is for Memi.  Calleigh asked me to take her picture because she is "cute" and told me to send the picture to Memi.

Believe it or not, my kids can work together nicely.  That is a blessing to experience after two very difficult days of their nonstop bickering.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fresh Flowers


On one side of our house we have a little rose garden with a stepping stones pathway and covered archway.  On the other side of our house we have several rose bushes grouped together with other flowering bushes around them.  The colors and sizes of the roses blooming on these rose bushes are incredible!  Bright pink, red, coral, white, multi-colored, and even yellow!  It is so much fun to go outside and pick fresh roses from my garden and arrange them in vases throughout the house.  I've always loved fresh flowers and roses have forever been my favorite flower.  I think it is amazing that God planted me and my family in the midst of beautiful rose buses.  And I think it is cool that the rental home comes with a gardener so these flowers do not have to rely on my gardening skills (or lack of) to keep them alive!