Thursday, July 30, 2009

Too many thorns

Mark 4:18-19

18Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

I feel very convicted by this today. I've been feeling for a long time that I am overwhelmed by concerns and details about work. I wake up at night, I wake up early, it's almost all I think about. Some of this is stress that will be alleviated soon when my boss returns. But most of it is just concern about doing a good job and working hard for the investors who have put their trust and money in our hands.

The times I am able to focus on homelife, I find myself being consumed with the need to do chores around the house - the cleaning never ends with two preschoolers! And even when there are not chores to be done, I fill my time watching shows on PBS and playing Cities and Knights online.

For several days now, I have been feeling like although I pray a lot, there has not been very much substance to my faith. It feels meaningless and empty. I hear a voice telling me to spend more time in God's Word. Then I blow it off and read the paper or wash dishes.

This morning I woke up early. Before doing all the chores, I picked up in the book of Mark where I had left off weeks before. The verses above stopped me.

I'm surrounded by thorns. I can describe and name every one of them, and most of them I planted myself or let grow around me. I don't feel like I am producing any fruit - even in the lives of our daughters.

I want to be good, fruitful soil...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Camping in Santa Barbara

Well, I survived it!

Jenetta and her mom were in Chicago for a women blogging convention, so I had the girls by myself from Thursday to Sunday. I decided to take advantage of the time and take them camping.

I wanted to go somewhere cool, and I felt that the drive to the Sierras would be too long. It would be in the upper 90s in our local mountains, so I thought Santa Barbara was a better choice.

Well, it made for an interesting adventure, but it was just as hot and dusty there as it would be here. Live and learn! Our campsite was east and north of Santa Barbara, but it was actually down the ridge on the other side in a canyon, so there were no ocean breezes to cool us at all. And because I was delayed in getting everything packed up, we left later than I wanted to, so we hit solid traffic from Burbank all the way to Santa Barbara and the trip up took over 6 hours!

We finally made it to the campground, and the stove that I borrowed ran out of fuel - of course I didn't have a spare fuel can with me, so the mac and cheese I was making did not turn out very well. We ended up making hot dogs over the fire, which was just fine.

I set up our outdoor shower and got the girls ready for bed. Stories in the tent were a lot of fun, and they snuggled closely to hear what I was telling them. They actually slept surprisingly well, but I doubt I got more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep in total.

The next morning, we drove farther into the canyon to find swimming holes on the Oso Creek. The water hadn't run for some time, but the swimming holes were still filled. When we arrived, there were only a few people, but soon it was packed. The water was green and very stagnant and with all the people jumping into it, I didn't have to wonder why. The girls thought it was yucky, and although we swam a little bit, most of the morning was spent just playing in the mud.

We had lunch by the swimming hole and then went back to get cleaned up for nap time. Continued in the next post...

Below are some photos of the view toward where we camped, our campsite, and the Oso Creek experience. Of special note is our shower. The girls and I built and painted the shower deck together on Thursday. We used mostly leftover wood and old paint. It was a great project to do together!

Camping in Santa Barbara - pt. 2

On Saturday afternoon, we tried to nap at the campsite. It was really hot, and although there was a slight breeze, I had set up the tent facing the wrong way to take advantage of the wind. L napped for about a half hour, but O never fell asleep. We eventually gave up and drove down the hill to beat the heat. We took a wrong turn on State Street and ended up in Goleta. The girls enjoyed the long pier and were fascinated by the fishermen and the kelp.

Then we drove into Santa Barbara and spent a few hours at Alameda Park in an area called Kid's World. It was just about the most awesome playground I've ever seen. There were probably 100+ kids playing on it, and of course, the girls played with different things, so it was really challenging for me to keep an eye on them by myself. Eventually, they hung out together and I was able to take a few photos of them playing. The photo below of the swing set shows about a third of the fort playground. It was really massive! - and it looked really fun!

Across the street is this amazing park with a big grassy area where a wedding was taking place. Near the grassy area was a large pond with a whole bunch of turtles and ducks, so we had fun feeding them.

On the way to dinner, I did something for myself. I had wanted to see some of the older homes in Santa Barbara and to drive down State Street. It was really neat to see all that. I wouldn't mind living there someday!

Then we had a dinner at Denny's (kids eat free on Saturday - did not know that!) and after buying more fuel canisters for the stove, we drove up the hill for our last night of camp fires and s'mores before bed.

The next morning, we ate some yummy gluten-free oatmeal that Jenetta put together for us, and I packed up the site while the girls played with the dog. Then after a four hour trip back (including potty stops and lunch), we were home where a clean bath and a soft bed were a welcome sight!

Would I do it again? Probably... It would have been a lot easier with another adult present to watch the girls while I did all the chores. They were too young to help much, although I was able to give them some tasks they could complete without too much supervision. But the hardest part was dealing with the potty situation by myself. L has probably a 95% success rate, but the accidents are always at the most unfortunate times. I was trying to make some popcorn on the stove and L decided that was the right time to poop a major load in her pants. I had just asked her if she needed to go and of course the answer was "no..." Plus whenever one had to go, all three of us had to make the trek down to the bathrooms or I had to find a place to pull off the freeway, etc, etc...

But the girls asked this morning if I could take them camping again tomorrow. I guess they liked it! Maybe we will go again when it gets cooler in our mountains or make a trip to one of the state beaches sometime. We have all the equipment now - I might as well get some use out of it.

But one thing was so clear - I miss having Jenetta around (and not just for the work and the food prep!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why I love our friends...

We got together for a summer evening BBQ at J&S's home on Sunday night. Our friends have been so supportive of us as we prayed about adoption. And they have continued to be a support for us even though they are parents themselves (or will be soon) and have their own obligations to tend to. One of the cool things is that I can relax and know that the girls have a bunch of extra eyes looking out for them (and when I'm tired from a long day, they still have the energy to play and run around with the girls)... Thanks so much!!!


Last weekend, we did a dry run at camping in the back yard. Didn't go so well...

But I learned a lot!!!

Jenetta and her mom are leaving tomorrow for Chicago and I will be on my own until Sunday. So I'm taking the girls camping along the coast north of Santa Barbara. This could be a time filled with great memories or a frustrating mess - we will see :)

Here is our cool tent. Jenetta got it for free for us!

Friday, July 10, 2009

free dinner

Jenetta always keeps us informed of the latest freebies. Tonight we went to Chick-fil-A dressed as cows for free combo meals. We splurged and bought a shake to share for dessert. Food for four cost us $3.10. Not bad!

Even Grandma Joy and Grandpa CJ got into the act!

The funniest part of the evening was the visit by the cow mascot. O was so excited, she would have followed him anywhere. But L was terrified of the costume. She hid behind me the entire time and wouldn't even look at him when he was around. She whispered to me "I no like him..."

We were looking at the photos we shot and thought - there is no reason why we can't put these on the blog, so at least those of you who have never met our girls can see what their eyes look like :)

On a more serious note, we've had another up and down week with the girls. They were both enrolled in a VBS program and they got so wound up that we had to not allow them to go on Wednesday and today. O gets super hyper and can't seem to control herself and makes very unfortunate choices. L is the opposite. She slows down to such a slow pace, it is a wonder she accomplishes anything. It would take her two hours to get dressed if we allowed it.

We are hoping to have a low-key weekend.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fun Fourth!

It was a bit tough for me starting out on the 4th. My side of the family is all gathered together in Montana on a trip we had intended to be a part of. In the morning, we looked at their blogs and watched the videos of them having fun together in some beautiful countryside. They are all together and have the extra benefit of being with my Oma who I haven't seen in some time. Looking in at their fun through the internet made me really sad that we weren't a part of it all.

We know we made the right decision and that the girls were not ready for something like this just yet. When they get worked up and excited, it leads to a lot of problems for all of us. A week of that kind of stimulation is just not something they are ready for yet. Even though it was the right choice, it doesn't make us happy to be here apart from all of them.

But the time spent with our friends on Saturday really helped us feel at home right here. We enjoyed an afternoon at a park with Gavin and Carm
en celebrating Lily's first birthday. It was fun to hang out and visit with them. I forgot the camera at home, otherwise I'd have some awesome photos of me playing badminton with Brandon, Robbie, and David.

We went home for the girls to nap, and then returned back to RB for the evening with more friends. We went to Brandon and Crystal's home for a BBQ. It was so much fun! After dinner, we walked down to RB High and watched the fireworks together. I am not sure if O and L had ever seen fireworks before. From what they tell us, they never had (or at least didn't remember them). It was so muc
h fun for us to watch them yell "I love fireworks!" over and over and over!!! You can see from the photos below that they really like the toys intended for younger kids, and they feel very comfortable climbing all over our friends. It's so nice to have the extra help when we get together! The girls love our HG friends and talk about them a lot. It's nice to have "family" here in San Diego, too!

Fun times with Grandma

Joy took the girls to the salon to get their fingernails and toenails painted. They had a great time getting pampered together!

Some updates

Well, we believe we are past the most difficult testing period. Both girls are behaving much better now. There are still the usual sibling squabbles and the bickering and complaining that is typical for four and three year olds, but a lot of the really destructive behavior and defiance has passed for now. So we are breathing a sigh of relief. You want to do fun things with your kids and not be punishing them all the time, but when that is what their behavior warrants, you have to do what is right!

So we have been able to have some fun times together. I'll put a few posts together today.

Last Sunday, we took the girls to see Sesame Street Live! at the SD Sports Arena. Jenetta was able to win the tickets for free through a radio station promo. The girls were really thrilled. As the characters came out and danced, they all cheered, but you would have thought the Beatles or Elvis Presley had come to perform by the way they all were screaming when Elmo came out. O jumped up and down and clapped. It was kind of fun for us to watch them responding to it. We haven't been able to go to a theater performance for several years now due to the expense, and we've been wishing we could go back for a weekend at Cedar City, Utah and see all the Shakespeare plays there again. But for now, Elmo will have to do :)

And BTW, we finally got a point and shoot camera. Jenetta got it for us for free! So I'll try and put some videos up here as well. So far, all the ones I've shot have not been usable online because it shows their faces too much.

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