Friday, October 31, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Carvin' Out Some Fun

This weekend we went to an annual pumpkin carving party hosted by Lynn and Neil Johnson.  There were lots of families there to participate in the carving fun and enjoy some fellowship with friends.  Calleigh stuck to carving a traditional jack-o-lantern.  Carson strategically planned to carve a Dallas Cowboys pumpkin, complete with a star, "D", and football carved into the pumpkin.  He did this with the assumption that Lynn and Neil, avid Dallas Cowboys fans, would be the people judging the pumpkins.  You have to admit that was smart thinking on his part.  The only thing was Lynn and Neil were not the judges.  Better luck next year, buddy!  The pumpkins that did win were very elaborate and way beyond my creative ability.  They were impressive!  Here are my little pumpkin carvers with their pumpkins. . .


Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing. . .The Beautiful One

Andi:  Do you feel beautiful today, Calleigh?
Calleigh:  I don't feel beautiful.  I am beautiful!
No lack of self-confidence with this little girl.  :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

She stands in awe. . .of her hair

Picture this. . .Calleigh slept in braids all night so her hair would be all crimped for school.  As the braids are removed from her hair, she stands wide-eyed looking at herself in the mirror.  After several self-proclamations of how beautiful her hair is, she proceeds to have this conversation with Michael.

Calleigh:  I still love you daddy.

Michael:  Okay.

Calleigh:  Even though my hair is beautiful, I still love you.

All of this said while she continues to admire herself in the mirror.  

I have to admit she really did look cute.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Do You Know. . .

For those of you with little princesses around the house, you probably think I am about to break out into Giselle's song "How Do You Know" from the movie Enchanted.  Although it is one of Calleigh's and my favorite songs to sing around the house, I will spare you the dramatic entertainment.

Instead, I want to share how you know when the seasons change in Southern California.  The weather here for the most part is a consistent 70-80 degrees.  The sun always shines.  The leaves stay green and on the trees.  You can swim in your pool year round or go to the beach (granted, wearing layers due to the breeze off the ocean).  So it is hard to tell the difference between Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.  However, I have noticed one very tell-tell sign that the seasons are changing.  Inflatables.  So far I have witnessed inflatables of every imaginable size.  They rest in the yards of well-manicured homes.  The sit on top of high rise office buildings.  Seriously.  The take up every inch of yard space in the homes of some overly zealous season fanatics.  Inflatables are everywhere.  Right now we have pumpkin inflatables.  I hear that I will also witness giant turkey inflatables, gingerbread houses, Santa with palm trees, etc.  I am really looking forward to the changing 
of seasons.  For now, I'll leave you with this picture.  I'll be sure to post more pictures later as I encounter more seasons and more inflatables.

If you really want to hear the song How Do You Know from the movie Enchanted, you can click Enchanted and prepare to be enchanted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What I Learned

We've lived in SoCal for four months now, and I can honestly say that we are official Californians.  We've experienced the fun things like Hollywood, the beach, and Disneyland.  We've experienced the uniquely Californian things like earthquakes, Santa Ana winds, and wildfires.  Now that we've had our first wildfire experience, I can look back and reflect on what I've learned from the past two days.
  • The month of October is known for the Santa Ana winds and wildfires in SoCal.
  • The Santa Ana winds really blow.
  • The Santa Ana winds magnify the destruction of wildfires.
  • You just never know when it comes to wildfires.  The fire may be moving one direction one minute, and then the complete opposite direction ten minutes later.  There is no guarantee because the wind and the fire have a life of their own.
  • Much like native Texans view tornado watches as "just" a tornado watch and don't really feel a sense of urgency until a tornado warning is issued, those who have lived in SoCal for any length of time view wildfires as "just another fire" and they don't prepare for evacuations until the fire has reached the house next door.
  • In fact, they really don't call for evacuations until the fire is right upon your house.
  • Face masks are not just for mowing lawns.  They are a necessity.  The smoke lingers for days.
  • It really does rain ash.  Looks a lot like large white/grey snowflakes coming down.
  • You get used to the smell of smoke on your clothes.  Even when they are fresh out of the dryer.
  • Some people don't have a clue what they would take in case of an evacuation.  Other people have a list of what they would take.  Whether or not they know where those items are is another thing.  Me - I have my things in Rubbermaid tubs on a shelf in the garage ready to load into the car.  The only outstanding  items to grab in the house are medicines and Eddie & Myrtle.  I guess I suffer from the I'm New To California And I've Never Done This disease.
  • The helicopters and airplanes that bring water to the fires are really cool.  And they are huge!  And they retrieve water anywhere it can be found.  The golf course in our neighborhood, for example.
  • You get really tired of hearing the same helicopters and airplanes constantly flying overhead.  And then, when they are gone, you kind of miss their noise.
  • The people here are really generous and thoughtful.  Many offers came our way to camp out at their houses in case we needed to evacuate.  SoCal people take care of each other.
  • Schools and businesses close for fire days instead of ice days.
  • Everything is just material.  It's all stuff.  You find out what is really important to you when you have to fit it all inside of a four door sedan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Part I - Driving up to church yesterday morning, the kids and I noticed a cloud of smoke in the distance.  It was immediately apparent this cloud was a result of a wildfire.  Seeing this as a teachable moment (you know me!), I explained to the kids about the threat of wildfires and how the Santa Ana winds play a factor in spreading the fires rapidly across the mountains.  We said a prayer that the firefighters would be safe as they attempted to put out the fire, and that anyone living in the path of that fire would also be safe.

Part II - Michael and I awoke last night around 3:30am to the electricity flickering on and off and the sound of high winds (the forecasted Santa Ana winds finally arrived).  Eventful enough. . .so I thought.  

Part III - I turned the news on as the kids were getting ready for school and noticed that same wildfire from yesterday plastered across our tv screen.  It not only was not contained, it was spreading quickly.  Thankfully, I noted that it did not appear to be coming our way, the kids and I said another prayer for safety, and I carted them off to school.  

Part IV - In the midst of my Monday morning errand runs, I walk out into the parking lot and see this. . .
which quickly turned into this. . .

I rush home to check out the news and learned that the winds accelerated the spread of the fire and shifted the fire in our direction.  The visual of brilliant blue skies assaulted by orange/grey plumes of smoke was surreal.  The smell of smoked quickly filled the air.  It really was something I have never experienced before.  This is what it looked like when I pulled up at home. . .

In the meantime, Michael is at work.  The news reports state the fire is spreading into Porter Ranch and Chatsworth, right where our church is located.  Celeste calls to tell me the church pre-school is being evacuated.  Michael checks in to tell me that he is safe, but needs to remain on the church campus to ensure everyone gets evacuated and everything is in order at church.  A little later he calls to tell me the land surrounding the church is on fire, the fire department is using our church parking lot as a staging area to combat the fire, and they are stuck (literally) at the church as all roads leading to/from are closed.  From his vantage point he can see the fire coming over the mountain heading to the church. . .

the fire approaching the lower church parking lot. . .

the fire approaching the upper church parking lot. . .
the fire surrounding the church property. . .

 and the amazingly braze men and women fighting hard to keep our city safe. . .

The vast majority of Michael's day was spent under a cloud of unforgiving orange/grey smoke.  The winds changed direction and the fire moved away from Simi Valley.  The smoke cleared.  The charred effects of a day of wildfire remain on the land, but our church and our home remain untouched (see pic below).  I was blessed by friends who called to check on us and offer their home as refuge should we need to evacuate.  I was thankful for the word, "Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  I was blessed by family who called to check on us and solicit the prayers of their church family.  We are so very thankful.

Part V - After a long and very exhausting day for all involved, Carson gave Michael this bit of consolation, "I'm glad nothing happened to you today daddy.  Cause mom would have to remarry and I wouldn't have anyone to play football with."  Interesting train of thought, son.  Goodnight to all.  I am exhausted!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Fun

This afternoon while Michael was at church, I took the kids to a pumpkin patch in Simi Valley.  Having driven by this particular pumpkin patch several times, it just looked like something the kids would enjoy.  In the past we always made a point to go to the pumpkin patch in downtown Rockwall, and they loved every minute of it.  So when I told the kids that we were going to go to a pumpkin patch, they were thrilled!

This particular pumpkin patch has lots of things to entertain the kids - petting zoo, bounce houses, slides, rides, and pumpkins.  Carson kicked off the fun with some jumping. . .

He was a little scared of jumping too high and was not about to attempt a flip.  I kept telling him to jump like he was at Tyler's house.  That made him smile.  

Calleigh took a turn on the "tea cups". . .
She is fearless!  She loves the fast rides, the high rides, the daring rides.  I think I have a little risk taker on my hands.  But her smile throughout the ride is worth a million bucks!

We left with pumpkins in hand and came home to paint our pumpkins and set them on the front porch.  In many ways this was very similar to our pumpkin patch/pumpkin painting tradition we started in Rockwall several years ago.  Regardless of the geography, it is still great fall fun!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Good Advertising

Setting:  Downstairs watching a movie while the children sleep peacefully upstairs.  Or so I thought.

Enter Carson

Andi:  What's up buddy?

Carson:  My toe hurts.  (he scraped it outside earlier this evening)

Andi:  Well, then, let's go upstairs and doctor it.

Carson:  Let's put Neosporin on it because the commercial says "Neosporin stops the pain and heals 4 days faster than any other medicine."

Now that is good advertising.  At least he listens and remembers something.  Maybe next time he'll remember to put his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper.  But wait.  There's not a commercial for that.  Oh well.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rainy Day in Simi

All week the weather forecast has called for rain on Saturday.  And since it doesn't rain here very often, this is BIG news.  Kind of like when Dallas has a wintry weather mix with ice in the forecast and it consumes the headlines of the newspapers and every news broadcast.  Everyone is talking about the pending rain.  The L.A. Times mentions the "Early Fall Storm" heading our way.  Even the moms at school were full of conversation about the upcoming rain.  "You know it is going to rain on Saturday."  "Can you believe it is going to rain on Saturday?"  "The weather is calling for rain on Saturday!"  

And so we awoke this sleepy Saturday morning to none other than rain.  A slow every-now-and-then sprinkle is more like it.  But since there has been no precipitation of any kind since I've moved here, I'll joyfully take the little sprinkling of rain.  The mountains look stunning with rain clouds hanging low over the tops.  The air feels cool (high of only 67 degrees today).  The city seems to have come to a stop in awe of the rain.  It is good.  It is very good.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Carson's Letter

In Carson's class, they are learning the art of letter writing.  What follows is Carson's letter.  My reason for posting it is that I think in very simple terms, it wraps up what we are all feeling as a family as we adjust to our move.

Dear Nana and Papa,

It is great here.  I am having lots of fun.  But I miss you.  I wish I could come to your house on Mondays and Thursdays.  I have some friends and their names are Dane, Wytte, Roaman, Tanner, Andrew, Angel, Madason, Abby, Sara and Colin.  They are all very nice.  I miss you alot.

Love, Carson

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Praises from a Songbird

Calleigh is my little songbird.  She constantly sings.  Her playtime is surrounded in song - sometimes a wonderfully creative made-up tune of her own and sometimes a song from church or God Rocks.  She even sings her conversations and prayers.  I guess she gets that last one from me.  I am always singing around the house and I firmly believe that simple conversation sounds so much more fun when it is said in song.  Regardless, she is my songbird and tonight she wanted to sing a song for me.  I couldn't resist pulling out the video camera simply for her outfit (notice the little pink tutu) and for the performance.  Little did I know what song she would choose.  Sweet, simple, praises.  Words of truth.  Words that are frequently sung by children yet are often lost in the fullness of their meaning by adulthood.  Thank you, Calleigh, for singing a song for me.  Thank you, God, for your sweet reminders through the innocence of a child.