Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memorial Weekend

We went to Phoenix for Memorial Weekend to see Stacey and Tony. Cameron was not excited to make this trip. It isn't that he doesn't like Stacey and Tony but it is that he does not appreciate the extreme heat. He also wanted to go camping and hiking which he didn't imagine us doing in the hot phoenix heat. But of course since I am his wife and I have not seen my sister for two and half months I won.

Well I don't know what your weather was like on the Friday before Memorial day but ours in Running Springs was terrible. It was snowing and raining and very very cold. I was very glad to be going somewhere that was much warmer. As I drove down the mountain to meet Cameron in the middle of the afternoon it was foggy to the point of no visibility, it was snowing and sticking to the roads and I had the heater on full blast. But still I imagined it would be hot in Phoenix.

We drove through an amazing thunderstorm with great downpour. But because we were in the trusty subaru we still drove as fast as we wanted. I should have known something was up when I got to Blythe because it was freezing cold in the Carl's Junior play area. I have never ate food inside and been so cold before. (They don't have an off button for their air conditioner in the months of April through October. It has never been needed before.) It was also still raining.

We got to Stacey's house and enjoyed seeing all the work they have already put in to making their house a home. Hopefully they will put some pictures up soon on their blog of all the furniture and great finds they have found and remade.

On Saturday it was still cool in Phoenix. We went hiking in downtown phoenix area and were quite comfortable. It was an enjoyable hike. Here are a few pictures:

Sunday we went to church. A lady spoke about how her grandmother and grandfather had been called on a mission when they were in their twenties and had to leave at home three kids we were under five. I can't imagine how hard that would be. It was amazing what some people are asked to do.

We then took a drive up through Sedona. It was fun and still cold. We saw some ancient ruins and enjoyed talking with each other as we drove.

Monday we spent swimming although it was really still too cold to swim. I guess Cameron got his wish for a nice cool weekend. And we did sleep on air mattresses so it was just like camping.

Our drive home was kind of eventful. While driving we heard a loud noise and we couldn't decide what it was. A few miles further down the road and Cameron decided it was a flat tire. We stopped and Cameron changed to the spare which was only a small one and not big enough to get us home. It was after five on a holiday and I was quite concerned about what we would do although not panicky. I finally called a tire store that was open and five miles down the road we were in Blythe. We pulled in to the tire store and had a new tire on in less than ten minutes. What a blessing it was to have the tire store open for us! I felt very blessed that this did not turn in to a big deal.

We ended up home a little later but it was a great vacation and we loved it.

Monday it warmed up a little and we went swimming

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Ali

We were on vacation so I was not able to blog for Ali's birthday. But my little girl is now six. I can remember thinking it was so weird to have a little baby growing inside me. I wanted so much for her to be a girl. I don't think I ever wanted anything quite so bad as a little girl. I figured it would be a boy and I tried so hard not to be sad by that. I only bought boy clothes and I painted the room in primary colors. When I went in for my ultra sound they couldn't tell and I was so disappointed because I wanted to know what I was having. I finally found out we were having a girl and was thrilled.

I brought her home from the hospital and my whole life changed. She taught me how to be a mom and how to do all the mom things. I learned from her that being a mom is the most important thing to me. I always thought I would be a career woman until I held her. Then I knew that everything important in the world was right in my arms. Ali is always talking about what she wants to be when she grows up. She wants to be a doctor, an investigator, an actor and many other things. She also told me she wanted to be a mommy. I told her she could be all of those things if she was a mom since a mom gets to do everything. She is very excited by that idea.

Ali is a very exciting six year old. She loves to do everything. One of her friends mom's described her as being a cute, well dressed girl who is really a tom boy. She loves to dress up in dresses and necklaces. But then she wants to go bug hunting, or butterfly catching, or she wants to ride her bike and dig in the dirt. She loves to swim and go hiking with us. She loves the beach and camping. She swings in the backyard as high as we can push her on our rope swing. She loves to dance. She puts on the music she lives and puts on performances which are getting more and more choreographed as she learns in dance class. Her dance teacher told me today that she is a good leader and that she loves to perform.

Ali's Kindergarten Teacher told me that she is the perfect student. What a compliment! She meant that she is excited about everything she learns in school and she learns quickly. She is reading almost everything. I bet she will be able to read this blog. She loves learning about life science, math and reading. One day in class her teacher taught her how to spell "tion" as in evaporation. Ali has never forgotten how to spell it or anything else she learned in school. She loves to sing in primary and sacrament meeting. She tries to be the best singer in primary. Her observations are being more detailed and her insights deeper. She is really learning how to be the bigger person in her relationship with her sister. She enjoys bringing things home to Ashling after school.

I love Ali and enjoy watching her grow!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Grateful for moisture

Right now it looks like January outside. There is thick pea soup fog floating lazily around. Two inches of snow coats the ground and everything is dripping. My heater is on artificially warming us and it is still supposed to snow more all weekend. The only strange thing is that the oak trees are in full bloom, the flowers are trying to bloom but wilting a little, and my vegetable garden is planted and waiting for sun. What a strange world we live in! We spend the first part of spring worried about fires and now we are enjoying winter once again.

Yesterday it snowed off and on all day but it didn't stick. At about 4:00 it started to thunder off in the distance. It sounded like someone walking around on my deck and stopping hard. But nobody was there. I started to make dinner and enjoyed one of my favorite sounds. Then just as I had dinner ready for a friend who is sick it started pop corn snowing the biggest balls I have ever seen. The sky lit up better than the fourth of July and the flashes came at least every three seconds. The thunder now seemed to shake the house as it almost kept up with the lightning. In a matter of minutes the ground was covered. I have never seen such big flakes fall to the ground. I decided that it was actually dangerous to leave with all this storm. So I sat with the girls and watched the storm.

Ali was a little worried. I don't think she remembers the last thunderstorm well and this one was so much more intense than the others. She asked if we could say a pray to make the storm go away. Talk about moments that make a mom want to cry. I enjoyed sitting there with my two little girls who were scared and saying a prayer to make them feel safe. I did not ask for the storm to go away as I wanted all the moisture we could receive. So Ali and Ashling each added their own prayers to mine. They wanted the thunder and lightning to stop. Soon the thunder faded off in to the distance and it just snowed little tiny flakes on and off for the rest of the evening.

I am grateful for moisture that seemed to come just when we really needed it. I am grateful for little girls who learn what they are taught and know that their Heavenly Father is real, is listening, and will hear their prayers when they pray. I am grateful for a church that teaches me how to teach my little girls the right way. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who gives us what we need when we need it so that we can grow and develop to be what he wants us to be.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Evacuation List

I decided it was time to make sure that my stuff was in order for the summer for evacuation. Not that we need it today. It snowed today. So we are okay for a little while. But in the future it might be nice to have the list. I decided to post it because it might be useful to someone else. I don't think that many other places have as many fires as here but there have been fires all over the place lately so I thought it was a good idea to post a list. Also I just heard that hurricanes are supposed to be much worse this year. So I guess those areas will have to prepare for evacuating due to a hurricane.

So here's the list:

Evacuation list (for fire)

Depending on how much time go down this list as much as possible. Get things in order as they are listed from most to least important. My 72 hour kit is already in the car but make sure to take that too. Make sure kids and Sierra are in the car and safe.

1. Important papers: (filed on computer desk.) Birth Certificates, shot records, marriage certificate, passports, church membership records, patriarchal blessings. Also wallets, with social security cards and temple recommends. Get Life insurance records, renters insurance records, and an itemized list of stuff in the house. (still need to make itemized list.)

2. Scrap Books: (on bottom of book shelf by dining room table) Also quilts made by Grandma Vira downstairs.

3. Computer: (on computer desk.) make sure to include all cables and charger.

4. Cell phone and cell phone charger:

5. Christmas ornaments: (boxes in garage)

6. Christmas spinning thing from Germany (in kitchen cupboard by garage door.)

7. black box of pictures (in kitchen cupboard by garage door.)

8. A bag of toys for kids: (let them pack while I am packing. It doesn't matter what they pack but make sure it is their favorite stuff. They will need something to do.)

8. A suit case for girls: Include at least five outfits to change into if there is time. Make sure to include socks, pjs and shoes. Also tooth brushes, soap, shampoo, hair brush and clips. Church clothes are a good idea too. If there is room bring a favorite blanket and pillow. Make sure to include bathing suits. (if there isn't time to pack everything grab the dirty clothes basket.)

9. A suit case for Cameron and I: Include five outfits and work clothes for Cameron. Also church and temple clothes. Make sure to include bathing suits. Also make sure to bring extra contacts for Melissa.

10. Videos and video camera: (plus the regular camera and adapters.)

11. If there is time clean out the fridge and bring whatever you can in a cooler. (What ever I don't bring just throw out so fridge doesn't stink.) Also get the dog food.

12. If there is time close all blinds in the house. Take curtains down because they can easily catch on fire.

13. Leave message on phone (if the electricity is still on that we have left and where we are going.)

14. Move propane tank away from house. Or take it will us.

15. Lock the house from good so looters won't try to get inside.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I wanted to write about blessings. I feel that we have had a lot of blessings in the past couple of months. We have been able to pay our bills despite our tight budget since Cameron stopped being able to work over time in March. I really thought that might be the end of the world but we have survived despite gas prices going up so much during that time. We paid our tithing, paid our bills, saved a little and managed. We picked up side jobs, scrimped and saved on groceries, cut back where we could and made it. We now can live with the smaller budget. And this week we found out that Cameron is getting a new job at his work and will be able to work all the over time we need. So it seems to me like an answer to prayers. We learned how to live with less and now we will be able to save more and pay off our debt. What a blessing.

Also I learned how to use coupons since we have had to. I am now making a menu, finding coupons where ever I have to and saving money at the grocery store. I even have been able to pick up several items for food storage and feel much better prepared for an emergency. I even learned to use coupons at the mall. Now I find ways to save money whenever I go shopping.

I also finally found renters insurance that will insure these fire prone mountain houses. So I am now insured in case of emergency which makes me feel much better. I also purchased life insurance so that we are safe in case of emergency.

We have also invited lots of fun people over to our house and enjoyed having visitors. I love having people over! A lot of that has been due to us not being able to go out as many times. We have enjoyed the different people and I think that I enjoy having people over more than going out for the evening. Plus we have got to know the members of our branch better.

I guess a lot of good can come from a loss of income. I am grateful for the experience although I hope I have learned what I need to from it and now don't have to experience it again. Hopefully next time we will have a good savings and it won't be so bad. So my advice to pass on is save, save, save, because you never know when you will have to live on less money.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Host

I love reading. It is so relaxing and exciting at the same time. I love to get involved in the characters of another place and time and learn all that I can about that time. I read everything. I read almost every day and probably too much. But hey we don't have t.v. so what am I supposed to do for entertainment? But I have never been a really big sci-fi reader. It is just a subject that I haven't explored much. So when Stephannie Meyer's new book came out I wasn't sure about it. But since I liked the other books I decided I wanted it and Cameron got it for me for Mother's Day.
I really enjoyed the read. It is amazing how she can come up with ideas that seem so different from the norm. Anyways it caught my attention, didn't turn out exactly like I thought it would and it made me cry. What more can I ask from a book? I finished it today. Now I am sad because what am I supposed to read next? Any ideas?

I also made some strawberry jam. I love canning and feeling the satisfaction of making something for cheaper than I could buy it. I bought everything for less than 15 dollars and made 12 jars of jam. It was a good day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers

I had a great mother's day. My husband and kids woke up early to make breakfast. They also made me cards. Ali gave me a hug and told me, " I just want Mother's Day to be really special for you." The girls looked cuter than usual at church too which is always a blessing. When Ashling threw a tantrum in Sacrament meeting , Cameron took care of it. Ali sang and of course it made me cry. I guess that really makes me a mom now. The girls bought me an outdoor table that seats eight and Cameron bought me the book, "Host," by Stephannie Meyer.

Later we had a huge Brown get together to celebrate the four birthdays in May and Also Mother's Day. It was a good meal and we had four deserts so what was there not to like about that. Ali was spoiled for her birthday a little early. She got a basket ball, a soccer ball, a jump rope, a kite, and a hula hoop to play with outside. Then she also got scrabble junior, dominoes, beads and books to keep her busy inside. In addition she even got some new clothes. It was nice to get so much stuff that was for the older Ali because she has been bored with the toys lately.

I also enjoyed learning to play dominoes the gangster way. At least that is what Shane told me. It was fun to play that game and I will be teaching lots more people how to play that way.

Hope you all had a great Mother's Day too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ashling's photo shoot from her birthday

Ali's Spring Kindergarten Picture

We had a hard time taking a fall picture of Ali with all the moving. Both times something had happened to her face making it impossible to get a cute picture. So we are going to keep the spring picture.

The Great Battle with the Varmits!

Living in the mountains is never boring. We have Santa Anna Winds with 100 mph gusts that cause fires, 2-3 feet of snow, torrential downpours, pea soup fog, and animals. Lately there have been alerts for Mountains Lions and Bears who are causing havoc to certain parts of Running Springs. But I am more concerned with the creatures that are annoying us. We have been having a battle with the creatures that live here naturally. I think we are losing and nature is saying ha ha in our face.

For example yesterday Cameron spent an hour putting water down mole holes and then setting traps to try and kill the moles. Why are we trying to catch them? They are eating our vegetable garden and we need it. I love tomatoes but apparently so do they. They like everything else too. How can we grow a garden so we can eat this summer in the face or rising gas and food prices? So the gophers have got to go.

The moths are a serious problem inside our house. We can't get rid of them. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated because other than Cameron's nightly rampage with a used sock, we don't have any ideas. I am sure they are eating something of mine but I don't know what yet.

All day long wood peckers peck at the house. They are annoying! But a little fun too! I get to pound back at them and then they usually fly away-at least for a little while. I have tried to explain that a bunch of holes in her walls are not what the land lord wants and maybe she should call an exterminator but she is not interested.

Last night the coyotes were at it again too. Right before we went to bed they were in the neighborhood attacking some little animal -I wish it was a gopher or raccoon- but it was probably a cat. Their noise is scary and can wake the living dead but at least I wasn't asleep yet. (My kids sleep through anything. Tip: A box fan in the kids room with do wonders.)

Finally we have a raccoon problem. They are keeping us awake at night and distressing the dog. I am not sure what they do but nearly every night they come up our steps from the yard to the lower deck and then go on the upper deck by our kitchen. Sierra sleeps right there and she barks and growls. The raccoons themselves also make noises. You can't sleep through their growling and hissing. It woke us up at 4:00 this morning. I finally saw the raccoon and even though it was right next to our room on the deck and Cameron opened the door it did not scurry away but just moved very slowly down the steps like it was taking a morning stroll. Also around 9:30 or 10:00 pm the raccoon goes on a walk to a tree by our house gets in a fight with something and leaves. Do you think it is love gone bad? Or perhaps an aggressive stalker raccoon?

Help us get rid of all these animals, we need a break!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Feliz Cinco De Mayo

So Happy Cinco De Mayo. We had a get together yesterday to celebrate Cinco De Mayo the American way. It was great. We invited four families and they all came to celebrate the Mexican holiday which to us just meant eat good food and hang out. I made sweet pork with a Cafe Rio recipe, lime and cilantro rice (also Cafe Rio,) and mexican pinto beans. Another girl brought salsa. But none of it was spicy. We had a burrito and taco bar and everyone seemed very full when they left. It was all really good and we have decided to try and invite people over more often. It was fun. But it felt more like the 5th of March instead of May. It was very cold. The flat landers were very surprised by the weather even after they had been warned.

The kids were able to play on our new rope swing. Cameron made it on Saturday and when I have more time I will get pictures and post them of it. I love the new swing and Ali is playing on it now.

Today I met the girls in town at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. The conversations were too interesting to post and it was great fun. The only weird part is that one of the girls never showed up. What happened to her? That is the mystery. So anyways I hope the rest of you had a good Cinco De Mayo day.