Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Orange Blossoms

The orange trees are in blossom. The smell is amazing. More than anything this is the smell of spring in Southern California. Today I drove by the groves on my way to target and tasted their sweet smell. I wish I was more poetic and could describe it better. Suffice it to say this smell is one of my favorite things of spring and I have been waiting for it all winter.

It also brought back a memory for me. I remember smelling oranges after a busy day of interviewing for my first teaching job. I was just about to graduate and I flew down to California to interview in Southern California. I was nervous and wondered if I would get offered a job anywhere. I was excited to be graduating and finally really growing up. I was proud because I had graduated in 3 years. I was sure I could do a good job.

It felt a little strange to be at Cameron's house without Cameron. The first night we drove up to Forest Falls where Cameron and I were contemplating living. One night of visiting a few run down and torn up houses was enough to convince me that Forest Falls was not for me. There was a flood channel that crossed the road about half way through town. If you lived above that line when it flooded you were stuck either at home or not able to get home. I like to be adventurous but I like to go home every night.

My father-in-law took his day off work the next morning and drove me around to all of my interviews. He discussed interviewing tactics with me and gave me pointers. He showed me areas of southern California and was somewhat of a tour guide. (Now that I know him better I know that he was trying his best to convince us to live close without being pushy.) I interviewed in Riverside County. They did not have a job for me but were just interviewing in case one became available. Then later that day I had a job interview in Yucaipa where I really wanted to work. But first Mike had arranged an interview for me at Colton Middle School in the same district where he was a Principal. That interview went really well-it helps that my father-in-law worked in the district and everyone loved him. Then I interviewed in Yucaipa but it did not go nearly as smoothly.

After we had interviewed we drove home through the orange groves while listening to Sarah Brightman. The trees were all in blossom and even with the windows rolled up I inhaled the sweet scent and wanted to stay in those groves forever. That moment convinced me that living in California could be wonderful. The yucca plants were also in bloom and the hillsides were very green. I wanted more than anything to live there at that moment.

We then loaded in the car and drove up to attend my graduation. After coming home from graduation I received a phone call with a job offer. This was pretty good timing. I was only home for an hour (we didn't have cell phones then) and after that we were going on a four day camping trip to Moab. But in that hour I went from making $7.00 an hour to making $40,000 a year. We were moving to California!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Drop offs and Dogs

I have been having some problems with the drop off at Ali's school. It has taken forever each morning to drop her off for the last couple months. With the decrease in budgets the school decided not to open the gate until 8:15 when the kids have to be in class by 8:30. They are also making teachers responsible for this and the teachers are angry and are taking their time to open the gate. Every parent can not drop off their kid(s) and make it around the loop in 15 minutes. Last Thursday they didn't even open the gate until 8:22. While I am waiting in line Annika is screaming bloody murder and wants out of her car seat but I have to sit patiently in line becaue no one has opened the gate. The principal insisted there was nothing she could do. She told me that budget cuts made us all have to suffer. She is trying to be political and convince me that I should vote for higher taxes in May. But I don't believe her.

We have cut our budget and still manage to get by and she can manage too. I made a huge big stink about it, put it on a public internet forum and called to speak with her. I insisted that she made the big bucks for solving these problems. I insisted that it was unreasonable for us to have to take 20-30 minutes to wait in line to drop off our kids in the morning. She sent home a letter, opened the gate a few minutes earlier and this morning it was heaven. It took about 5 minutes instead of the usual 15-20 minutes that has been the average. I am glad I made a big stink and then next time there is a problem I will not wait so long to cause a fuss. After all the solution was easy but those in charge didn't consider it that big of a deal until I told them it was.

Also I almost got attacked by a pit bull type dog on my walk today. I had Annika in a front carrier and Ashling in the stroller. It came running at us from a house way up on the hill and it was growling and barking. I yelled at it to go home and that kept it off me but it would not leave and if I started to walk away it just came closer. It kept getting closer and closer to us and I was getting pretty afraid it was really going to attack. Sierra (my dog) was cowering against me so I don't think she would be much help. A truck came up the road about the time I was wondering if I should just let it have Sierra. I stopped the truck with a nice burly man in it who fought off the dog. Even though the man was trying to get him away and I was yelling at the dog every time I would walk away at all it was chasing me. Finally another construction worker with a big stick came and helped get the dog away. At that point the owner realized his stupid dog was on the attack and tried to call it. But of course the stupid dog wouldn't come. I yelled at the man to keep his dog locked up. I am pretty sure if I would have been alone Sierra would be injured or dead. With the kids I do not have any hands to carry a big stick. The construction worker suggested carrying a gun. It seems almost reasonable to me. Maybe some pepper spray? Any ideas? I love walking here but do not want to meet that dog again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

She is sooo tall!

I took Annika to the doctor today. She had her two month check up. But she was a little sick so we did not do shots. This is the only picture I could get of her today. She looks like she has a cold and she doesn't feel good. She weighed 11 pounds 11 ounces and was 24 3/4 inches long! Wow for her height. She is now in the 95th percentile for height. I can't believe she grew so much . But I guess that is why the 0-3 month clothes are getting too short.

My favorite thing about Annika right now is rocking her to sleep. She is cute. She cuddles up against my arm and closes her eyes as soon as I swaddle her. I love spending the time to rock her to sleep. Although I only do it half the time because I want her to sleep on her own too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ding Dong Ditch baby shower

Today I heard a knock at my door and went to answer it. On my doorstep were 7 bags full of gifts for Annika. I did not have a big ward baby shower. One friend threw me a little shower during the day when plenty of people were at work. Another friend met me for a surprise shower. My sister and mom gave us our own shower full of presents. My sister-in-laws offered to throw me another shower but I wasn't sure who would still want to come. So they threw a little family shower. Without a formal shower I didn't think most people would feel any need to give Annika something. But many people have brought presents by to give to me through the couple months of Annika's life. Each time I think there is something I will need to buy for her another sister from my ward drops by with a present that fits that need.

I wouldn't have thought there was a single person from our ward left who had not given us a present. But to my amazement I now have a bunch of very cute spring outfits for Annika when she is 6-9 months old. (I didn't have any summer clothes for her because the girls were that age in the middle of winter.) Thanks to the sweet sisters in my ward who have been so thoughtful and even when there wasn't a shower to attend they have helped keep our little baby dressed so well. I guess this is one way that Heavenly Father provides for us through my kind ward sisters. I will be featuring her outfits on the blog when she is big enough to wear them. (Which may not be very long at the rate she is growing.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Be not afraid

Today was Stake Conference. We had a hard time deciding whether to go. It was Cameron's weekend to volunteer at Snow Valley and I thought I would have to take all 3 kids by myself. I was a little worried about that. But Cameron told Snow Valley he was busy and they let him stay home. Still we weren't sure that 2 hours of church with three kids would be enjoyable. Also it was snowing... and the roads were bad. I reminded Cameron that we always have such good talks at conference and that I wanted the blessings from going plus we have driven on rough, snowy roads and they never stop us. There were accidents on the road and we stopped for some people who had driven over the edge of the road but they were okay. Finally we made it to conference.

I really enjoyed it. My kids were good. I printed some coloring pictures from the Behold Your Little Ones Nursery Manual for them to color. I also let them bring one small Barbie each. Ali also brought her book of Mormon. Lately she has loved bringing it to church and I kind of want her to have her own scriptures to read- but I also want to buy her scriptures for her 8th birthday so for now she has a paper back Book of Mormon. Annika slept through most of conference- even the loud and beautiful Stake Choir music and the Spirit of God sung by the entire congregation.

Two talks really impressed me and I took some notes about them. Our Stake President talked to us about Hope. He told us that having Hope in Christ is a power and he taught us how to develop this hope. He encouraged us to count our blessings and spend our time with hopeful positive people. He asked us to pray for hope in our prayers daily because it is a spiritual gift. He asked us to think positively and ponder daily on the atonement of Jesus Christ. He also suggested that we give Hope in Christ to others as it will strengthen them and will strengthen our families.

President Poulson said that the economic conditions are necessary to give us the wake-up call we need. He said the most important things in life center around the gospel of Jesus Christ and that as we have to rely more on the Savior we will learn this lesson. He then let us know that Hope in Christ will bring us through our trials in life.

Elder Cordoba (spelling?) from our area Seventy talked to us about a few concepts. He encouraged the youth (and I think it applies to us all) to Be Morally Clean and said that "wikedness was never happiness." He said to stay close to your parents and have family prayer and family home evening. He also suggested that we Pray Always. He promised that if we do these things we will have Eternal Happiness. I have always wanted to be happy and so I will try to do these things. He also suggested that we remember who we are... We are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us...

Lastly he talked to us about increasing our faith. He said that as we live in hard times we need to learn not to fear. Heavenly Father's purpose in life is to provide for us and he will continue to provide for us if we are faithful. "And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. D&C 104:15 I really like this scripture along with the following story.

He told the story of Jesus and Peter when Jesus helped Peter walk on water. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore dist thou doubt.
(Matthew 14:26-31)

I love the ideas of these two scriptures. Heavenly Father will provide for us and we do not need to fear. Our Stake has very high unemployment and very high forclosure rates. In our own famiy we have felt the strains of the economy strongly but I am surprised that each paycheck has been enough for our needs. I even can afford the increase of diapers, wipes, and clothes for one extra child. As we continue to trust in the Lord, I believe we can make it through these hard times and I will try harder not to fear the unknown.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Annika is 2 months old!

Annika is now two months old. Where did time go? She is getting really fun. When she is awake and not nursing she loves to coo and smile. She smiles when I pick her up and when she wants to be picked up she arches her back and tries to get me to pick her up. She is getting a little less fussy in the evenings and dealing with tummy gas a little better. She finally likes her swing and stays in that while I am making dinner. I danced with her the other night and she loves the beat of the music. She also likes going on walks and looking at the outside world now that it is a little warmer. I will have to post how much she weighs after we go to the doctor next week. But she is growing out of lots of 0-3 month clothes. The 3-6 are still pretty big though. I think she has long legs for a baby because she is growing out of the pants first and the onsies still fit just fine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A quick trip

We went on a quick trip this weekend to St. George this weekend. It was Cameron's grandma's 80th birthday. By quick I mean we left after work on Friday not arriving until 1 in the morning. Then we left Sunday soon after waking up. But Saturday was a fun day.

We tried to visit Snow Canyon in the morning. We didn't know there was a race though and the runners came down the canyon and crossed the road right in front of us... so we were not allowed in the canyon. Cameron loudly proclaimed that runners sure do not think of the environment- they leave their water glasses everywhere. We instead went on a fun hike just outside the canyon to another beautiful canyon.

We then met the other Brown's at a park after stopping at Cafe Rio for lunch. (We Californians have to travel to Utah and then get Americanized-Mexican food because our Mexican food is too authentic.) We enjoyed catching up and playing at the park. Cameron, Ali and Ashling went swimming at the hotel, but I was not prepared with my bathing suit so I got a little shopping done with Annika.

Then we met for the big party. We took pictures-we always take pictures of everything, we ate dinner, we enjoyed a slide show about grandma Moore and learned some things that no one seemed to know about her. We also visited. It was fun but much too short. I would have liked a lot longer to enjoy each other. In the morning we returned home early hoping to somehow avoid the vegas traffic.

PS pics are courtesy of Cam's cousin, Lynn. She took over when I realized my camera batteries were dead.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Signs of the times or The Stake Sweet Heart Dance

During these troubling economic times we have to get more creative with our date nights. I was please that the Stake deemed it necessary to provide us with a free activity to strengthen our marriage this weekend. We had a Stake Sweetheart dance. It was a much bigger deal this year than it has been any other year. In the past I can't even remember when it was but this year we were given invitations and asked to RSVP. The invitations were beautiful and the menu looked exciting plus it was a free evening without kids. Cam's parents said they would baby sit adding to the free aspect!

408 people RSVP'd to the dance! It was the best attended Stake event to date. I wonder if Stake Conference ever gets those numbers? It was highly appreciated by all as they had a free evening away from the kids and time to socialize with spouse and friends.

When we arrived they had little snacks in the court yard while everyone was arriving. We mingled and then were asked to get in groups of 10 and only have two couples from each ward in a group. Thank goodness for us we are only a branch and thus we were very sure the rule did not apply to us. we sad with other members of our own branch.

The young men and young women served all dressed up as waiters. The entire gym was decorated as nicely as any wedding with chair covers and round tables with table clothes. They had the lights dimmed and only some white lights and torch lights along the walls for light. We had saled on the table served in little chinese boxes with chop sticks. Then they served chicken cordon blue that was brought to each table. (No big lines to wait in for this church activity!)

The program was wonderful with a good singer from the stake, a skit of famous couples from the past, a movie of couples courtships that seemed almost professionally done and then dancing. I thought it was a great program and I post about it here in case anyone else needs a good idea for a Stake activity.

I really enjoyed spending the evening with Cameron and dancing with him. I realized that wearing heels I actually look him straight in the eyes. I also enjoyed getting to know the members of our branch a little better.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

we are a skiing family

We took the whole family skiing today. It was nice weather and it was fun. Here we are at the top of chair 1 about ready to ski down the mountain. We skied today and everyone graduated to the blues. I am a little dismayed to say that I am now the slowest skier in my family! I will try and gets the guts to ski faster and Ashling is learning to get the control she needs to ski a little slower. Ali is a pro at skiing. She can ski anywhere she wants now and how ever she wants. She is interested in learning how to do jumps and goes over them although she has only caught air once. While riding the chair life up she loves to watch the snow boarders and skiers in the terrain park. We even started cheering for the really good jumpers on our way up. It was fun to ski with her and watch her do a good job.
Ashling skied like a pro today. She went up lift 1 and 3 and skied the blues most of the day. She goes so fast when skiing but we are working on teaching her to turn. A few times she skied behind me and was able to follow in my tracks very nicely. I can't believe how quick she went from not being able to ski to skiing wherever she wants!
This is Cameron skiing with Annika. He did a great job and helped Ashling too. Annika loved skiing although she was not nearly as fond of the chair ride up.
Family picture again...

We ate lunch in the car because it was busy inside...
The view from the chair lift....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Got Milk?

I woke up this morning and the worst thing had happened. Since last night my last gallon of milk had disappeared and all that was left was an empty container on the counter. I was very unclear as to what had happened to the milk but it didn't matter because I had two thirsty girls who wanted milk. Instead I filled their light pink cups (they don't like the dark pink cups) with ice and water.

I tried to remedy the situation and bought 4 gallons of milk hoping that it will be a long time until we are out of milk again. But when I opened the back of the car a gallon of milk jumped out of the back of the car and ended up spilled all over the garage floor! Got milk?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Annika is 6 weeks!

Here is big sister, Ashling, and Annika

Annika is now six weeks old. She is still a sleepy newborn but she is so awake and alert when she does wake up. She loves to sit under her play gym and play with the toys and make them move. She also loves to look at her sisters and see what they think is interesting. She also likes to talk to Daddy early in the morning. She is still sleeping through the night as long as I wake her up right before I go to bed. But she is an early riser and wakes up when Daddy's alarm goes off at 5:40. She loves the bath tub and enjoys splashing and smiling in the bath tub. She will start smiling in the bath tub even if she was screaming a second earlier and it will last until the water is cold and she has to get out. Every night she has a fussy period and I can't decide if she truely has an upset tummy or if she is just tired and letting off steam at the end of the day. I love dressing her up in all her cute clothes and putting shoes and hair bows in her hair. She is just like a little doll!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A ski date

It has been a long time... much longer than six weeks since we have been together without at least one child around. In fact if you want to get technical it has been a full year. In celebration of Annika's six week birthday we decided to go on a ski date. We have tried to resolve ourselves to dating more often... at least every two or three weeks- but the dates have got to be cheaper. We can not often afford the typical going out to dinner even sans movie.

Anyways I dropped the children off at Grandma and Papa's house. None of them seemed to mind at all - even little Annika. She had a bottle of my milk and so she was set. I drove quickly up to Snow Valley and met Cameron (he was doing his Host at Snow Valley Day.)

Then we load on the chair 1 or my least favorite lift in the whole world. It is not high speed detachable and since it is the main Snow Valley lift it is very fast.... it hits you in the knees and you fall to a sitting position. When you get off you better be skiing fast or else... Cameron taught me quite a bit about skiing and I learned at leat 1/4 of it. I had my best ski day ever and enjoyed the feel of the breeze, speed and no one demanding my attention except my sweet husband. I also enjoyed my new skis which are very nice and were given to me by a friend. We enjoyed talking without interuptions and without distraction. We ate our lunch on the top of the world. Or at least the top of Snow Valley. We could see at the mountains around and discussed possible hikes for the summer. Finally it was time to go home and he walked me to my car (he still had to finish his host day,) and kissed me good bye.

I really enjoyed our date and the best part was that it was 100% free!

Friday night ski

Cameron had his first day off on Friday. I was a little upset because it came even earlier than it was supposed to. But it was a wonderful day. He took Ali to school, watched Ashling while I went to the doctor, gave the dog a bath, and vacuumed the house. Then we all headed up to Snow Valley for Ali's lesson and Friday skiing. I love having ski passes and going skiing at will.

There were several friends in the lobby waiting for their kids who volunteered to watch Annika so we all could ski. Chalon came up with her girls and I spent most of my time skiing with Denali and Torrey. Cameron taught Ashling another lesson. Finally she learned to ski on her own. She is like a little torpedo and you better watch out for her! She loves the speed but we wish she would be hesitant and slow like most beginning skiiers. But no she craves speed.

We brought a crock pot of queso dip and chips and shared with everyone. It was a great dinner! The kids had fun skiing together and I loved having Cameron home on a Friday. I won't be ready for him to start working Fridays if the economy ever improves!