Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trying to get connected

Wow-- I was just checking my calendar the other day when I realized we have actually been in California now for one month.  A little over a month, really.

And during this month of moving in and getting acclimated to our new environment, my kids and I have been jumping in all these different activities held around the community, but not really involved connected.
I have to admit, getting connected has not been the easiest feat.  It's like our roots are still back home and we're just floating around trying to tie those loose ends to some anchor out here.  I know it's important to find those connection points, and that it takes time (sometimes months or even years for many people), but for the kids especially it just hasn't been happening fast enough.

Ny asked me the other day why none of the kids seem to come out in the neighborhood to play.  I thought that was a good question.  She seemed peeved by it (and I would be too if I were 8 and needed some playmates!), so I did what any mama who loves her kids and believes in God would do.  I prayed.
"Mama, maybe some girls my age will come out in the courtyard tomorrow and I'll be outside at the same time", Ny said.
Yeah, maybe.  I didn't give it a second thought.  Until the next day (which happened to be yesterday) I noticed a few girls around her age outside in the courtyard playing ball.
Whoot!  "Get on your shoes and go play!" I yell...and Ny is off running outdoors.
Finally the beginnings of what I hope to be a good play group for her around our home. 
Prayer really does work, and the faith that children have-- phenomenal.  Now, if I can only have the same kind of faith for myself.
While hubby is at work, I've just been kind of getting us settled in.  He's been out making those work-related connections.
But on my end, I haven't really gotten involved with anything since we've been here -- not any thing that's not kid-related, that is.  We visited this church downtown that we really liked this past Sunday and I am thinking of joining one of the small groups.  I love that they have an awesome kids ministry and my children seem to enjoy it there (that's always one of the first things I check for before settling on a church). 
I did sign up for a Pilates class this weekend, but I'm wondering if I'll really follow through with it or postpone it.
At this point I am still in the out-of-sorts mode- still unpacking a few things at a time and arranging our lives here at home. We still can't find a few items (I know they're in a box somewhere)...and there are times when I just get so frustrated because I want this stage of the unpacking and settling process be over.  Completely over.
I want to sit on my patio and enjoy a fresh cup of tea and watch the sunset without the nagging reminder of the boxes in my living room I still have yet to unpack.  I'm tempted to leave them packed in case we move in a few months down the road a piece -- but...there's always that unsettled feeling one gets from realizing they still have unpacked boxes.  I want to feel settled.

Part of that unsettled feeling will be quenched once I make some connections, meet some people and make some friends...and being thousands of miles away from the only friends and family I know makes it all the more important to me.  It's like a necessity. 
I don't see how anybody could do it alone.
This is a bustling military town where re-locations and new faces are a natural part of the life and blood of what makes this place unique.  I am positively certain that there are other stay at home moms in this city who are experiencing the same feelings as I am.  Just wish we could run into each other?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Never alone

Since my last post a few people have mentioned that it must be hard transitioning from one part of U.S. to the other, and others have wondered how the kids have dealt with this big of a move.

My answer to that is: we stay busy, busy, and busier.
To be honest, as much as I would like to really sit down and reminisce, I realize that I cannot afford to, either practically/logistically or emotionally.  It's just not healthy.  And that's how I've kept the kids from sinking backward into "I wish..." mode.  We simply move forward, taking one day at a time, learning to embrace everything life has to offer us today...yet never forgetting yesterday.

So our days are filled with school and play.

Ny is working on a Saxon 5/4  worksheet.  I added a plastic sheet protector which I cut in half and taped to it so I wouldn't have to keep making copies and wasting paper.  She whizzes through most of these now and we're getting much better with our multiplications.  We are currently working on improving our 8's and 12's.
Z's been interested in these counting bears for quite a while now (I brought them out last summer).  Besides sorting and counting them, she just likes playing with them now.  I am trying to think of some new gadgets to either buy very cheaply or make for her now that these bears are beginning to lose their luster. 

Stringing beads are still a hit with Z.

Anytime any one of us begins to feel like we miss someone back home, I suggest that we either call or write a letter.  Ny has found some solace in talking to her friends and writing letters-- not to mention it's just good practice (letter-writing).  I am trying to show my girls that although we are in a different place, we are not alone and we are not lonely.  We still have people who care for us dearly and love us, and everyone is only a phone call, letter, email, or Skype call away.  (Oh, and Facebook chat).  Plus, we have those big trips and planned visits on the horizon to look forward to.  I never stress the idea of being far away, but the truth that really, it's a small world- and we're still in every way connected those whom we love.

We write letters to family and friends back home.

Because hubby and I are keeping this tone in our home, it frees us up to enjoy our lives here, which is something the Lord has been helping me to see.
what to do next?

Rock climbing at one of our local parks.  She didn't get too far but it was a fun try!
The Lord's been showing me a lot about freedom and trust.  The trusting part is obvious.  He opens a door to an opportunity to move across the U.S. and we could have easily turned it down out of fear.  Fear of the unknown, mostly.  Trusting Him was obviously a tremendously HUGE part of our lesson in this move, and this lesson is not over, but still very much in progress.
But He is also showing us some things about freedom.

Freedom is being able to enjoy the small things in life.  The smallest pleasures can be our treasures when we are not cluttered with fear.  I am finding that just a walk to the park with my girls has become an enormously deep pleasure imprinted in the depths of my heart- moments I will never forget and that I will always treasure for life.
You might say, "but it's just the park"...but to me, it's so much more.  In this new phase of my life I think I am becoming awakened to the art of appreciation in a new and profound way.
sitting on a whale in front of a local museum

These next few pictures may not mean much to you, but to me they mean a lot.  It's because the lessons my husband and I are learning about embracing life to the fullest are trickling down to our children, sometimes consciously and maybe at times just inadvertently.  So, I allowed Ny to use my camera today to snap some photos around the city, just at random.  What I found was that she was surprisingly eager to learn more, embrace more, take on more with that small camera in the clutch of her palm.  And even though these are random pics of store signs, they meant a lot to Ny...because this is now HER city and HER life.  It doesn't matter how long this time will last-- what matters is that we enjoy it, and take it one day at a time.
It's probably obvious that these are pics that mean something to her. Her idea wheels were spinning as she's mapping out some potential opportunites in her own life.  I love to see my kids feel inspired, empowered, and motivated!
Again, another art studio.  Do you see a pattern here?

I think Ny took some pretty good shots.
You know, as I mentioned earlier, we always want to stress to our kids that they (and we) are never alone- no matter what.  And we mean that in every way possible and with all sincerity.  And I think that God must think that too...
He must surely have created us to feel that way because, after all, so does He.  The fact that no matter how far away we feel we are from Him, that He is never far away.  He is always nearby, in our very hearts and lives, in fact.  He promised that He would never leave nor forsake us.  How much closer can He possibly be?  He is with us all the time, wherever we go.  Every step we take, God is there.  If we ask for His direction, not only will He be there, but He will direct us so that we take the right steps as well.  I don't know how much clearer He can possibly be to us that we are never alone.  Ever.
So as His kids- all of us- we are never to fear.
 Eventually the sky darkens- seasons change- people come and go- things happen that don't always make sense.
But it's in those moments that I am reminded of something very, very important.
Jesus alone-- He is our rock.  
Everything else will change, but He never will.  
As long as we find refuge in Him, we can never, ever be alone.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life near the beach

In my last post I talked about being stretched--spiritually, that is.  Well, truthfully, in every way.  I have never been this far away from family and friends- ever.  So, that's a big transition.
Although I miss home, I want to embrace my new home- whether temporary or not so temporary- however that turns out.  So...I've been taking lots of photos of the girls as we visit the hot spots around town.

As we were driving through downtown Pacific Grove into Monterey I thought this view was an eye catcher:

More of the bustling city with a small town feel.

Mountainous backdrop
I've never lived this close to mountains before-- except when I was a little girl (around 7 or 8 living in Montana).  The memory is refreshing...and although we're not exactly in the mountains but on the coastline, it's still really nice to see them in the distance.  They feel so close.

Here are a few historic buildings with great architecture.

Pacific Grove at night.  

I'm not really sure what's up with the  lit trees. Down south that's a Christmas thing...but it is very pretty, nonetheless. 

The girls have been really enjoying the view.

2 streets behind our home is the Pacific coastline and beaches.  It's still a bit chilly, hence the long sleeves--but it definitely adds a new dimension to homeschool.  Once in a while the sun peaks through and warms things up for a minute.

This is a hot spot on Cannery Row- a restaurant called Fisherman's Wharf, if I'm not mistaken.

Fishing is a huge activity here and freshly caught fish and organic produce is one of the city's highlights.  One of these days I'd love to take my husband out to this restaurant if he doesn't beat me to it first!

After the beach the girls wanted to stroll down Cannery Row.  Ny wanted to visit Candyland and the Chocolate Factory.
Cannery Row

Chocolate Factory on Cannery Row

Right before turning off to my street entrance we stop to take pictures

Monterey Bay from Pacific Grove view

I could sit here for hours- maybe be inspired to write a book!

Geese, ducks, and sea gulls are always nearby...
 There is always that empty feeling of being so far away from loved ones (namely my family back home and my precious friends)...and yet there is something so vastly unique and inviting that beckons me to embrace the new place and season in which the Lord has given us this opportunity to enjoy.

I can't deny that this place is beautiful and my thoughts and ideals are changing daily.
What is life really?

Just a week ago, my father in law passed away.  He was a cornerstone in my husband's family, a true patriarch and we all miss him dearly.  His sudden death coupled with our pulling away from our roots and moving cross country only 3 weeks ago took a toll on me-- not a bad toll, but a life-changing, soul-searching tool for awakening me to the reality of what life is about.
When I realize how hard we work for the things on this earth, and then how quickly those things dissipate when they are no more- either through earthly cataclysmic events (tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods), or through sudden death, or through a life altering event like a huge move where you have to reassess who you are in light of your new surroundings all over again-- it makes me really, really think about the true meaning of life. 
Life is beautiful.  Life is precious.  There is no time to throw away those precious moments- even in the midst of our toil and labor.  There has to be meaning, there has to be a rhyme and reason to our very souls being alive on this planet.  It is so much more than hard work, new houses, material possessions. 

My newest journey is one that the Lord is leading me in to. It's a season of searching Him in a way that perhaps I used to but for whatever reason (life, busy-ness, etc.), I haven't been as active with it. When I say "seeking Him", I mean studying scripture, seeking His will for direction, being open to His leading, not restricting Him with my ideas of what I want or think I should have, but letting HIm be in complete charge of my life.  He will be my director and I will simply let Him lead.
But that means letting go of some things- some things I've built, some projects/ministries/businesses I assumed

I would continue when I arrived to California.
Amazing how when things are shaken all around us, the first thing that begins to shake is our mentality.

I truly believe that this is the season for God's people to do some true soul-searching.
What are your desires?  Why do you desire these things?  What will you gain from them?  Will God take care of you?
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you".

My first lessons at life on the beach!  I'm sure there will be more to come.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


These past few weeks have been stretching...s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g say the least.

Three weeks have turned into nearly a month and yet I feel as though I've been in Monterey for a very long time.  But it's not quite "home" just yet, and I still have so much sorting out to do- both mentally and, yeah, physically (unpacking, shifting around boxes, making space, etc.)  And although moving in was a lot easier than moving out of our home in Alabama, it's still a pretty tremendous transition to be suddenly transplanted from the South to the West Coast.

My stretching this week has a lot to do with finding my way around the city and navigating.  This place is not difficult to get around in- there are taxis and citi buses everywhere and once you learn the map and know which streets are one ways, you can get around.  The cool thing about Monterey is the amount of people riding bikes or walking and jogging along the recreational trail.  It's definitely a place to stay green and active and I'm hoping to add a daily walk in the city as part of my own regimen, but for now...I'm just happy to find my way around to the local grocery store, pharmacy, library, parks, stuff like that.

The other big stretch for me is making new friends.  So far I have met a lot of nice people, but I haven't really connected with anyone on a friendship level- and yeah I know I have to be patient-- friendships take time.  I guess I am in such a hurry to pick up where I left off in life before Monterey that it's been a bit of an adjustment for me to start completely over from scratch.  Family and friends are far, far away.

But you know what?  I'm not afraid or scared...just feeling really STRETCHED right now.  It's like the Lord is showing me how to truly be transilient, how to really, truly trust Him for His provision in my family's life.

The move here was a blessing and a miracle in itself.  Maybe one day I'll be at liberty to talk about how God worked all of this out for us, but it was definitely a move we needed and saw coming (just not one we thought would take us this far away from family and friends).  But it was an answer to our core prayer, and my husband and I are really extremely thankful.

Just being stretched right now.  New job, new environment, new place, new people--need to find a church, trying to get plugged in wherever we can.

That kind of stuff.

Pray for us?

Oh, and I'm thinking really seriously about switching over to Blogger (blogspot).  This domain name will expire in a few months and I'm not sure it's worth renewing it.  I'll give you a heads up if I should decide to switch.

Okay...well off to story time for my kids here in Pacific Grove.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Libraries, haikus and art

We've been visiting our local libraries a lot.  It's free, it's nearby our home, and we're all bookworms in our family.

Even though we try to go a few times a week we still end up coming home with 2 or 3 bags full of books.

We LOVE getting out and having a library just a few blocks away- within walking distance- from our apartment is awesome!  Plus, getting to the library completely takes my mind off the fact that I have just moved.  I am still in shock from it all.  It happened so quickly.

I like that of the 2 libraries closest to us, we have 2 storytimes a week for Z's age (4 and under) and one for Ny's age, an after-school school story activity hour.  This gives us something to look forward to each week.  I'm sure we'll join more or our local activities for kids and homeschoolers soon, but for now we're just doing good to situate our belongings and furniture and find our way around town!

So, yesterday Ny wanted  a book about how to draw horses.  She's been really getting in to drawing a lot more lately, especially horses- her favorite thing to draw.  We brought home some horse books, along with a book called "Hip Hop Speaks to Children- a celebration of poetry with a beat".  I actually enjoyed the book just for me! Ha.  But I used it as a starting point for a lesson on writing poetry.

Here's the book:

A CD comes with it, which makes it a lot more fun than the kids listening to me read yet another story :-)

The poetry is urban, some free form, all encouraging messages and thoughts, and helps children to learn (through example) how to express themselves through rhyme and beat.

I listened to this with both girls and asked Ny to take anything that inspires her as a springboard to write her own poem.  I sent her to her room with pencil and paper and nothing more.  She was to come out with a poem.

About an hour later she emerges from her room in deep thought then returns to her room for more writing.  Then she comes bounding out of her room again- this time with a haiku (of all poems!) AND an illustration.  Tell me I wasn't proud!

Here is her poem and drawing: (she used a page of her "Top Secret Personal Beeswax" June B. Jones book)

She later realized the second line only had 5 syllables, and not she changed it to "I would feed it every day".

This is her version of the original picture found in "Drawing Horses and Foals" by Don Bolognese.  Here is the original drawing in the book:

Now, here is Ny's version of it (no tracing, only drawing- and she's drawn herself riding the horse).

I think she has a good eye for we'll be looking for art activities around town for her to participate in.

So, that's all for now.  More updates to come next week...

Settling in

These past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of moving in and getting settled...but still we've found time to get in some educational fun.  Z is drawing sky pictures on our bay window.

Paper plates and fixing your own meals.  I'm almost tempted to keep that going :-)


Ny works on Saxon math 

Z sorts shapes for math

Then the furniture arrives- whew! 

 So...we get out of the house for a change of scenery.

Taking a walk to the beach behind our home.  It's definitely not "beach" weather so we're still in sweaters and hoodies, but we are just grateful for the change of scenery.

So beautiful.

I am hoping that this move will teach me to rest.  Really.

Every time I view the surrounding nature I just want to bask in God's presence.  I want to relax and enjoy the true peace of God- not the kind that comes from trying to be "supermom", or from home education, or from money (with or without), or from friends or family (although SO important)-- but my foundation has to be, HAS to be, in the peace of God.  The only True Peace is Jesus.  It's in Him.

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