Sunday, December 9, 2012

only half correct...

keith: alexa, all we ever do is play your girly, boring games!

alexa: girly, but not boring!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

there are no words

we were doorbell ditched tonight. i have absolutely no idea who did it. i honestly probably couldn't even come up with a good list of possible suspects if i had to. but it doesn't matter. that's not the point, and i know that. i'm touched. truly, truly touched.

it was a big garbage bag. there was a toy for each kid in it. great toys. toys they'll all love. plus gift cards for us for and some cash. i was thinking, this will help a lot in getting us to california for christmas. i don't even know what to say. i was moved to tears when i realized what all was in that sack.

i can't describe how blessed i've felt in the last few years. there have been so many thoughtful people in our life giving and sharing and helping out, sometimes anonymously, sometimes not. the lord has been kind to us. and i'm so grateful for that. i'm also grateful for the people who are generous with their time and resources, and choose to be an instrument in the lord's hands. i really hope someday we're in a position to help others as much as we've been helped. though i know, there are always other ways to help.

what i'm trying to say is, thank you. whoever you are. i don't know if you'll ever see this; i'm guessing not, but thank you. from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

such a boy...

keith was moved to the back bedroom, which means his stuff got moved to the tall dresser. he's just barely tall enough to peek over the top drawer when he's standing right up next to it. he put his shirts in that drawer and his pants in the next drawer down. the bottom two are empty. i asked him why he didn't put his stuff down lower.

he said "i can reach up there."

"but you can't see what you're grabbing," i said.

to which he responded "it doesn't matter."

you'd never hear alexa say that, hahaha.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

it's becoming almost comical...

our garage door decided to go out a few days ago. it won't open past about 18" for some reason. we spent some time looking at it tuesday night and realized that the turn wheel above the motor that the chain sits around is broken. it's still there and it's kind of working (it goes down just fine) but because there is a break in it, it can't seem to create the power it needs to lift the extremely heavy wooden door. awesome.

so i just parked the suburban outside. no big deal.

but today it rained. all day. it's still raining in fact. i like rain, for the most part. however, i got in it about an hour ago to take a quick trip to kinkos with paul so he could fax something and discovered that it's leaking. inside. on the top there's a spot to attach a big radio antenna, and apparently, the area around it is no longer water-tight. so there's water dripping down behind the a/c controller for the backseat and onto the floor.

oh, and on top of that, my defroster isn't working. everything works, but it needs freon. but the real problem is that it needs to be flushed out before new freon is put in. that costs money. and therein lies the problem. (does anyone else think it's stupid that you need freon for the defroster? clearly, i don't understand how it works...)

the underside leaks like a sieve too. power steering fluid mostly, i think. but, really it could be just about anything. i know so little about cars.

don't forget i don't have a passenger-side handle! (better than driver, right?)

we have two house doors that won't close when the weather changes due to swelling/shrinking and poor strike-plate placement. again, not really a big deal, but a pain at least.

a couple weeks ago the garbage disposal went out. i didn't want to try to fix it myself in case i messed it up. then it would be my fault and we'd be in trouble. so instead we let the property management company know and they sent a guy over. turns out it was an easy fix. just had something wrapped around it. but since it wasn't "normal wear and tear" it's now still our fault and going to cost me $36.

paul got a phone call that he was delinquent on a student loan bill. we thought it was on forbearance. apparently, it wasn't. it was sent to collections. we had to pay that somehow, and then fill out the paperwork to get the forbearance reinstated (hence the trip to kinkos). 

also, he went to ausland today to inquire in person and discovered that the VP of operations just passed away very suddenly (he was young.) he was involved in the interview process (one of the two guys that did paul's interview), so naturally the whole company is distressed and things are kind of on hold in the hiring department. so, who knows how much longer before we know about that job.

i don't write all this to whine, because honestly, i'm fine. like i said, at this point, each new thing is almost funny. really, i'm writing partly to document it (mom asked me if i'd journaled it. i should still do that, but this is better than not doing it at all), and partly to explain why i really am starting to feel like i'm at the end of my rope (you don't even want to know what my savings account looks like). i'm hoping this is all a good sign. that this is satan's way of trying to beat us down and make us lose hope because he knows something good is close if we can just keep doing what we're doing. they say it's always darkest before the dawn, right? there's always this extra-high pressure period before it's released. like a parting shot?  <~~~ actually, that kind of made me laugh.

gosh, i sure hope that's true. if not, well, somehow we'll survive. and we've been really blessed that the suburban has had so few problems in the time we've had it considering it's age. and most of this stuff is cosmetic or an inconvenience. it's been a good vehicle really. we've been so blessed in so many other ways too. and i really feel that way. 

but, really, it wouldn't hurt my feelings to have something great happen now.  :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

he's the man

for a little extra cash paul got a job two nights a week cleaning. one night he does a toyota dealership and the next he does a diner and the local bowling alley. since mom and chuck were here for thanksgiving, i went with him last night, and let me tell you, that was a whole new experience. not the cleaning part, but seeing the whole inside of a car dealership. including the service garage, the locker rooms, and the boss's private bathroom including a shower and a dresser.

the first thing i thought when we got there and paul started pulling out cleaning stuff was "wow, this sucks." which i said out loud. paul said "you didn't have to come, it's okay." but that's not what i meant. i meant, wow this sucks that after working so hard to get through years of schooling while having kids and working part time for bad minimum wage while still taking out student loans that he still has to take a night job cleaning to make ends meet. kind of. it sucks that he has a degree to do something he loves and instead does jobs that are very boring and un-stimulating because that's what he has to do to take care of his family.

 i loved him all the more at that moment, and now probably every time he continues to go out to clean and go to his regular day job because it's all we've got right now.

and you know what? he never complains. other than occasionally saying things like "i hate retail." (who can blame him?). he just does it because it has to be done. because, seriously, he's the man. oh yeah, and then, on top of that, after he's been out cleaning until 3:00 a.m. he gets up in the morning to take keith to school or feed the kids breakfast and when i tell him to get some sleep he says things like "but i want to be with you!"

if he has to work anyway--and he does because we're poor and don't have any money to our names--then i sure wish he could be doing something he loves. something that pushes him each day. something that gives him the chance to grow and magnify his talents. daddy that's happy after a rewarding day at work is much more fun than daddy who's bored and frustrated and doesn't ever want to talk about work. and i want him to be happy.

so, for this reason, and many others, i am really, really hoping paul gets this job. but either way, i hit the jackpot. seriously, this guy is gold.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


i have so much to be grateful for this holiday. so, so much. we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. i thought of the standard at first, especially family. but then, they started tumbling out. and i would feel so ungrateful not to take a few minutes to mention just a few of these things that i am almost inexpressibly grateful for.

family, especially kids that make me laugh and are quite laid back. really, they're super easy. they like to hug and kiss and cuddle and laugh.

a husband who takes really good care of his family. who does whatever needs to be done and whatever he can do to make ends meet, even when it's terribly unpleasant or a total waste of his hard-earned degree.

a house, in a great location, for a decent price, with good insulation, a good sized yard and enough space for all of us to not be completely on top of each other.

food in my cupboards and fridge. enough to feed my kids and myself and not worry if my kids will have to go to bed hungry.

a mom who loves me and loves my kids and always makes me feel that she's happy to see me. and a step-dad that treats me as his own and has patience for days, especially with my wild kids who love him so much.

a healthy family, all around. kids who have had very few problems.

a strong, healthy, capable body with so few problems that i am free to do pretty much whatever i want and not worry about how it can/will hurt.

talents, hobbies, and endless interests that keep me engaged. and things like the internet, the public library, and friends to help me learn about and enjoy said hobbies and interests.

the fact that paul has pretty much always had a job. and the times when he didn't were pretty short. that there's a job possibility on the horizon, either in his actual field (praying!) or somewhere else that's not his first choice, but pays better than his current job.

being sent to oregon where it rains a lot and it's beautiful and i've made lots of great friends.

immediate and extended family that are very supportive and constantly praying for us and sending us good thoughts vibes.

this list is short and really incomplete, but these are a few of my favorite things . . . oh sorry, had a song moment there. i have much in my life to be grateful for!! and though things could maybe be a little bit better, they could be a whooole lot worse, and i'm happy with where we are right now in life. really.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

funerals and tender mercies

a few weeks ago i got a phone call from a woman in my ward i don't even know. not because she's inactive, but because her husband is in the presidency of the single's ward so, of course, she attends church with him across town. her father had recently passed away, and they were looking for a piano player for two family musical numbers. she was given my name by the woman who has played for them in the past, but was out of town. i am so, so glad she gave her my number.

i'm always so flattered to be asked to play at funerals because they are so special to the people involved. i feel like there's a lot of trust placed in me to do it well. it's something the people involved remember for a long time to come. not that they remember my playing particularly, but the overall feeling. if i played really badly though, they probably would remember that! 

it was a group of about 25 people or so (bigger than our ward choir!), all children and grandchildren of the deceased. talk about a musically inclined family. i like to think that mom will live for another 20 years at least, and that will be our family someday at her funeral. :)

anyhoo, i got with them sunday evening to learn the song. it was a beautiful arrangement of "i stand all amazed". they learned it super quickly. i got with them again early(ish) monday before the funeral. they were amazing. there was also a small group of 3 women who sang "pie jesu" which was also just beautiful. 

they were talented, quick to learn, and the song was so much fun to play. it was a piano part with real substance. it was full of notes and dynamics and tough parts. on top of that, everyone was, of course, so super kind to me. basically, it was the most enjoyable time i've ever had playing for a funeral. they were all saying "thank you" to me, when i felt like i should be thanking them for the opportunity to play! 

today, i got a "thank you" card in the mail from one of the daughters. i don't even know which because there were so many of them and i didn't really have time to put names and faces together. thank you cards are always nice. it's nice to be acknowledged. but on top of that, there was a costco gift card inside it. wow. talk about twice blessed. it probably wasn't that big of a thing for her, but it's a huge thing for me!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

how did THAT happen?

today i went to volleyball, like i always do on thursday mornings. when i got back, i hopped on fb. i'd gotten a wall post that said: 

"I have a package for you. Apparently the post office can't tell the diff between Christina West & Christine!!"

when i read the first sentence, i thought "oh, looks like she's been hacked." then i kept reading, and my confusion grew. 

you see, christine wood is in my ward, but not my neighbor. in fact, she lives about a mile away. on a street called white oak. i live on siskiyou. not at all similar. her address: 300. mine: 2595. also not at all similar. sure, her first name is christine, and her last name starts with a w. and has four letters, but i was always under the impression that they processed mail by first looking at the state, then city, then street, then house number,  then possibly name. but let's face it, even if everything else matches except the name they still deliver it to the address on the envelope/package. heck, mail doesn't really even have to have a name for them to deliver.

so, how, on earth, did my package wind up a mile away from my house at someone's house i just happen to know?

and the weirdest part: in the box was the garments i had ordered from slc for myself and paul! i assume that if it had ended up at maybe chrissy's neighbors' house they would've looked at the address said "wth?" and circled the address on it before stuffing it back in their mailbox to give the inept USPS another chance to get it to the right house. 

but maybe not. and that could've been awkward. plus, then i would've been annoyed that my stuff never showed up.

i'm not sure where the breakdown in that whole thing happened, but i don't think it was mere "coincidence" that it ended up at a ward member's house. even if said ward member does live a mile away.

'course, next time it would be nice if they could just get it to my house the first time. :) and i did get kind of a kick out of it, even if it was really bizarre.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

are you there autumn?

it's september. in oregon. for some reason, i really expected it to be a little cooler by now. 

it's supposed to be 98* for the next two days. what's up with that?? i'm very very ready for cooler weather, soup, hot cider and sweatshirts. 

oh, and rain. i'm ready for rain.

the warmer weather is nice for exercising very early without freezing, but i'm not sure that's worth the trade-off of everything else. if i had a pool, i'd be happy to take it, but now, not as much.

come on autumn! the leaves are starting to turn and it's still in the 90s. that feels wrong. i hope it gets cooler soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

unexpected blessings

when paul and i realized we were going to have to move to give us any hope of survival, i mentally prepared myself for a large sacrifice. see, i love the valley. well, mostly. i love what the valley has to offer so close. i love that you can make a day trip to the beach, or be up in the giant sequoias in less than two hours. i love that it doesn't get really cold, but there's enough to give me a break from the summer heat and to make me happy for the summer heat to come back. i love that so many kinds of fruits and vegetables don't just grow there, but thrive there. i don't so much love the smog and the dry, ugly nothingness of the undeveloped land. i also don't love the crime and the taxes.

so, though i was ready to move, i was worried the lord would need me someplace that i liked far less than the valley. and i would've gone willingly and cheerfully, but wasn't necessarily looking forward to it with excitement. and when paul got a job interview with a company in texas (which was the furthest he'd gotten with any company, sadly still is) i was steeling myself for a new adventure. i was even starting to get excited about it, looking at houses online, reading up about things to do. i wasn't happy about the distance from any family though, and it still in my heart didn't feel quite right. but i wasn't sure if that's because a part of me really didn't want to go or because it wasn't right. well, now i know. but because of that slight uneasiness i was a little relieved when he didn't get the job. disappointed too, of course, but relieved. and yet, i still felt like there was some big sacrifice coming.

then, we had to start the process of trying to figure out where we were going to go because we were still definitely moving. when paul said he'd felt drawn to oregon, i was surprised. and excited. 

could we really be sent somewhere we'd already discussed living "someday"? it almost seemed too easy. of course, it hasn't all been easy. far from it, but there have been so many blessings being here that it has made up for, in large part, all those things we hoped to get just by being obedient moving. financially, we're still struggling. more in some ways than we were before we moved. but in other ways we've been blessed so abundantly, i can hardly believe it.

it's beautiful here. they have four, distinct seasons (i'm really looking forward to fall). there's a lot to do and see here (though, really that's true almost anywhere if you have a sense of adventure). our ward is starting to feel like home and the more i get to know the people, the more i love them. there's an awesome group of women whom i share so much in common with. more so, probably than any of the places i've lived before. we play basketball and volleyball together. we share and laugh and get along easily together. last night, we had a ladies night out. we went to dinner and played volleyball. i can't believe i got so lucky to find--or get sent to--a place where there are so many women who think that's as great a night as i do!

at times like these, it's impossible to deny the lord knows and loves ME. though this move hasn't solved the problems we thought it was going to when we moved here, it has greatly blessed and enriched my life in ways that i never expected a year ago. 

and i am so grateful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pear Harvest!

for those of my readers that don't know (are there any?), the LDS church is very self-sufficient and has many different kinds of farms all around the US (world?) that contribute to the church's welfare system. in the san joaquin valley we harvested grapes to dry and make raisins. a very hot, very dusty, and frequently juicy, affair. i loved it. i was sad to be leaving that when we moved away, but then was happy to hear that they have a large pear orchard here. 

and it is LARGE. they invite all able members over 12 to dedicate 12 hours or more to the harvest as early as possible in the harvest. i thought that was a lot of time at first, but now i understand why. 

monday morning paul and i went at 5:00 a.m. to pick pears for our first time. our ward had the platform assignment for the 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift. but we had a lot of people show up, so we did ground picking in front of the platform. it's pretty easy work, ground picking, that is. easier, i'd say, than grapes. last night sarah and i went out and got there early enough to get on the platform for picking.

this is the platform

it's massive, and quite impressive. four people stand on either side facing out. that closest platform raises up a lot higher than the other one so we can get the whole tree. they put a harness on you and hook up a rope to your back so you can't fall out because you really have to lean to get some of those pears near the center of the tree.

then they start rolling by. slowly, but when you've got a group of pears all at once, it can seem much too fast! you stick your hands out and grab everything you can before you get too far. then you try to move out of the way from heavy branches sticking way out. it leads to lots of scratches on the arms, getting whipped in the face with branches and i even had a pear fall on my neck at one point. that hurt.

sarah came with me and we did the 9:00-midnight shift. it's very tiring work. much harder, physically, than grape picking. 

all i had on me was my phone, but i wanted to capture the moment! you can kind of see how big the bins are there behind me. we filled 10 of them last night in our 3 hour shift. we matched the record.

last night, i got home and washed my arms because they were so filthy. the soap in the scratches all over made them burn profusely. i wasn't prepared for it because they don't really look that bad. today, they still smart, but only a little. my shoulders and clavicle on the other hand. oy. between the bucket full of pears pulling on them, and the harness while i leaned as far as it would allow, they hurt something fierce!

i'm not anxious to get right back up there (mostly due to the soreness), at least not for a full 3 hour shift, but i did really enjoy myself and will definitely do it again! glad i found a substitute for the grape harvest. and bonus, it's way less dirty.

Friday, July 13, 2012

the winds are blowing again

the winds of change that is. i feel like i just did this . . . big changes, i mean. but here we go again. i guess the winds of change are pretty much always blowing, but sometimes it's a gentle breeze and sometimes it's a gale. a forever-life-altering kind.

my sister and best friend has decided to make some positive changes in her life. and i can't tell you how grateful i am. i've (and so many others) missed her terribly in the last several years. i've thought about her frequently and wished there was something i could do to help.

and now i can. she's decided to get out of the valley . . . can't say that i blame her there. and she's coming here to live with us and start over. soon. like next week soon.

paul and i both feel really good about this decision, and though it's going to take some sacrifices and adjustments for everyone involved, i feel everyone can come out better on the other side. i find myself vacillating between apprehension and concern about this new unknown and my ability to handle the situation properly and excitement and joy about the possibilities that await and the desire to re-kindle an amazing friendship.

so, wish us luck, or better yet, if you're the praying kind, toss out a thought or two for everyone involved because we can definitely use some divine guidance in this venture. i know that's what's gotten us to this point.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Fun

we have a picture almost just like this of keith at about the same age. i will have to find it and put them side by side.

he's finally jumping into the deep end all by himself (without bribes or threats)! YES!!

 i love this girl.

these two . . . they keep my life really fun.

look at him go!

i really like this one.

trying to dive . . . more like lots of belly flops, but we'll get there.

they were so happy on this raft. so many smiles! love these faces.

and on a side note, these are the first pictures i've seen of myself  in a long time that didn't make me think 
"yikes, that's what i look like to other people?" 
it's a good feeling.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


i think i figured out what's been causing my shinsplints. and the good news is, it's actually because of something i did right

how, you ask, can you get shinsplints from doing something right? well, i'll tell you.

i was talking about my frustrating shinsplints with a friend, and we were talking through the possibilities trying to figure out what could be causing them when she mentioned weight gain/loss. sometimes gaining or losing a lot can throw your body off as it readjusts to the weight distribution. and as i thought back, it seemed the problem and the weight loss seemed to coincide, if i'm remembering my time lines accurately.

and then i thought, "but i've only lost about 12 pounds." then i did the math. even at 12 pounds of weight loss, starting out at 165 means i'd lost about 7% of my total body weight. i suppose that's probably significant, especially since the first 8 came off in just a few weeks. 

so, i cut back on my runs and haven't had any problem. i think i was already starting to adjust before since my weight loss stagnated a little for a couple weeks, and i'm losing more slowly now. but, anyhoo, it's nice to have an answer! and i have to say, it's even kind of cool knowing i've lost enough weight to affect my body that much. i'm about halfway to where i want to be now, and still losing. i'm optimistic. 

memorial day fun

we haven't had much time or money to go explore since we've been here, but yesterday we finally drove up highway 62 towards crater lake, though we didn't go all the way there because we didn't want to pay to go into the park. it's a beautiful drive, and it follows the river almost the whole way up. we stopped and let the kids out for awhile. there were several people fishing. then went a little further up to lost creek lake. it is a HUGE lake, and there were lots of people out there, but it still didn't feel crowded. we didn't really spend much time at the lake though, but took a nice little walk through the trees between the lake and the lost creek campground. we weren't really equipped to play in the lake unfortunately because we woke up to all clouds and didn't know if it was going to warm up or not. hopefully, we'll get to spend some time there later this summer.

rogue river

super clear water

we brought the stroller...and ended up pushing it empty.

he was faking being sad

alexa's off ahead, like the was almost the whole time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

there's always a light

today has been a better day than i've had in awhile. i wish i knew what all the contributing factors were so i could reproduce them day after day. of course, i have my guesses, and there are a couple things i did differently today that i know were helpful. 

maybe it was just a temporary emotional crash and i can get back to normal again. that would be nice. i didn't care for feeling like a mean/bad mom, not to mention the feeling of just wanting to cry all the time.

the last few days have been really beautiful here. the earth is waking up, the trees are getting leaves, there's tulips and daffodils everywhere, and i think it's helping me to shake off the winter doldrums. thank goodness for the seasons!

thanks for all the support from everyone who's been there to listen or let me cry, or say the right thing at the right time. each part is always equally important. 

i love the way heavenly father answers prayers. instead of just a single answer, it is almost always given to us a little bit at a time. and while this serves the purpose of giving us only what we can handle at any given time, i find it to be such a blessing in that i get to experience heavenly father's hand in my life multiple times in a short period of time. it might be easy to ignore or explain away one answer or small miracle, but when so many little things happen at once to create a bigger picture it's much harder to ignore or explain away the divine assistance as mere "coincidence." he cares enough about me to create an entire network of people and answers that all work just right for me (and somehow for everyone else at the same time. amazing!) and that makes me feel loved and important.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Day Fun

so, in case you're curious why these are two weeks late, it's because we decided to put off the commercial easter celebration in order to better help our kids and ourselves focus on the real meaning of easter. i got this idea from the march ensign and liked it, so i decided to run with it. i think this will become standard procedure, though i'm not sure when it will be, especially since easter moves every year. it's fun to have an extra day to look forward to as well. i found this much more fun and enjoyable for me as a parent, not having to worry about making sure the kids were really understanding the holiday a midst the candy and fun. i just got to enjoy their smiles and revel in their fun, plus it made for a good family home evening. 

 the boys had a lot of fun dying eggs.

and dying their hands...

their works of art (they haven't really gotten past the one color thing year. ;)

check him out, jumping down

checking our their hauls

love the duck lips. i asked him if he needed help and he was in the processes of saying "nooo."

you can actually see the caramel hanging off her fingers, hehe.