Yesterday I was a bit down…missing back home and such.  But today, God just totally took me for a loop, as He has been known to do. With time the kids and I are adjusting pretty well now and finally getting into the swing of things.

For one, I am finally finding my way around this place.  It’s not so hard but like any new city you go to, it can be a challenge.  It takes some getting used to driving and parking downtown with all the 1 hour/30 minute/3 minute parking spots. There are a few parking garages.  Thankfully, parking meters are reserved for our famous Cannery Row area, a main tourist spot.  Typically when the girls and I want to go down that way, we just park a couple of blocks down and walk.  The more we walk around town, the more we get used to the area and driving seems easier.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective (getting around on foot is a good way to spot those easy-to-miss places when you’re driving/zooming by).  So we’ve been walking around a lot.
I am also getting used to taxis, taxis everywhere.  And city buses.  My husband got us some bus passes this week so we can try it out a bit.  We’re sharing one vehicle and that’s different for us too…but it has been fun, actually- sharing a car.  We’ve been able to work out the scheduling with the car each day so we each have it when we need to.  Still, it’s nice to have that bus option, just in case.  My husband’s been really good at helping me to find my way around by car- without him I don’t know what I’d do.  He’s a life saver.  I always have my backup Google Maps plan, too.  I use it about every day now, especially street view.  I’m so vision-oriented that if you just tell me directions I sometimes get lost in a sea of words.  I need to visualize it…so I Google Map it and find out which landmarks are nearby, like “there’s a red building next to the stoplight, turn right there”.  I’m a bit funny like that, but that’s what works for me.  Hubby tried showing me how to use our GPS, but I’m not quite there yet.  He’s my GPS guy.
Another thing we’re getting accustomed to- apartment living and laundromats.  It takes me back to my college dorm days.  The good thing about our temporary apartment-style living is whenever we have an appliance issue, we just call maintenance.  No having to scout around for a plumber or handyman.  It’s also a pretty nice place with some extra perks (like a pool, which NO one has used lately that I know of- unless they just love the idea of swimming in 50 degree weather), and a courtyard, which has been loads of fun for Ny (it’s where she meets other kids outside to play soccer).  It’s quite an adjustment, though, when it comes down to laundry.  We will probably be moving again really soon and hopefully will have our own washer/dryer again, but until then, I’m just living in the moment, doing what I have to do you know?  Being at the laundromats hasn’t been so bad.  The kids have met friends there, and the owner of the laundromat always brings her puppy for the girls to play with while I wash. 
As inconvenient as a lot of this may sound to some, it really has been quite an adventure.  I’m in good spirits now (can u tell?) and nothing can get me down.  Oh, I’ve had my days when I am tempted to think otherwise…but I just don’t let myself go there- at least not for long.  There are too many people who are suffering for me to worry about the small matters of temporary inconvenience- like using laundromats.  It’s amazing, too, how God will use those “inconvenient” situations to bring us much joy and show us how rich we are in Him. So I can’t complain. 

Wanna know another really cool thing?  Today we unpacked that last box!  (Yippee!)  And now my children’s bedroom is livable again.  (Hallelujah!)  Ny and Z are totally enjoying their room now that they have their books and toys organized and a place to relax and listen to their music, play guitar, etc.  They still don’t have bedroom furniture yet (dressers, toy boxes, storage bins, etc.), but we figured out a unique way to store their unused books and toys in boxes with lids down, scoot them side by side and cover them with a blanket- then place Ny’s showcase items and alarm clock on top for decoration.  Looks just like a small table in the corner of their room, plus it serves a practical purpose (storing items) and makes their room look more decorative.  If I can remember, I’ll try to post a picture next time so you can see what I mean.
I am giddy with excitement over the small stuff now.  Everything means the world to me.

More updates:

My oldest daughter, Ny, is now enrolled in a weekly sign language class with an organization that offers a variety of classes in all kinds of subjects to public/private/and homeschool kids.  The classes range from hands-on art (with local experts- yay!), star-gazing and hands-on tours to humanities and foreign languages.  They even offer mock trials and spelling bees.  I am really excited about having Ny be a part of these programs/classes.  Next time we’ll probably try out an art class. I’ll update on that.

We also have been on a strict wheat-free, gluten-free diet this week (the girls have, at least).  I wanted to see if Z’s eczema would clear up.  So far we held out the diet okay, but the girls are getting a little tired of the specialty bread (made of brown rice flour). It’s not bad, but it definitely has a harder texture than our typical, soft wheat bread we’re so used to.  Everything else went well, from the wheat-free pancakes most mornings, to the wheat-free crackers.  We even skipped the improptu pizza that arrived in our home without warning (thanks to my dear hubby!) and vegged out on our homemade pizza  made with gluten-free flour instead.  Everything was super easy to make and work with (thanks to Whole Foods and Trader Joes).  

This picture doesn’t show it, but the wheat-free pasta was really good this evening. I didn’t tell the difference, really, between it and the regular pasta.  To me it tasted slightly better than wheat pasta.  For sure, it’s way better than quinoa (so if you’re thinking of going wheat-free, you might want to eeeease yourself into quinoa pastas if you don’t want to confronted with a distinct taste).  Me, I prefer my pasta to taste less and the sauce to taste more.  So the gluten free pasta we used was made of rice flour, which I think has a milder taste.

BTW, those chocolate chip cookies in the middle were the bomb!  The kids also love the crispy rice cereal…tastes very similar to the chocolate rice krispies.

 So this week we’ve also been out a good bit.

On our walk to the beach, we ran across some deer.

We headed down to the beach where Ny collected a few sea shells to study.

“Look at this sea shell!”

Me too!
Nature- the world’s best classroom.
Z wants in on the action


An incoming tide
Peaceful.  Imagine seagulls in the background.

While there we met a lady with her toddler, slightly younger than Z (who happens to be really into babies right now, for some reason).  They hit it off really well.  We exchanged phone numbers and there might be a small play date in the making.

Can’t forget our weekly preschool storytimes at the library.

Later on that day I also met some hippies and I mean that in the literal sense.   Besides homeschooling, which we do have in common, there were so many things we didn’t have in common (they were dressed differently, live pretty much free of electronic gadgets, and taught me a bunch about hemp seed oil!)  They were pretty cool and I enjoyed talking to them.  It also made me realize how that in our preconceived notions about people and even places, we can sometimes rule out the best opportunities to let God use us- or even just teach us, for that matter.  I also realized just how narrow-minded we can tend to be (as Christians or even just as people who are accustomed to one type of culture).  If we overlook outward appearance and learn to truly connect with people even if they are different from us, we can probably find a lot more in common than we think.  And even if we can’t, there is a purpose in the appointment. (You never know what God wants you to learn through your divine connections unless you drop the judgementalism and listen up to His prompting). 
I honestly didn’t mean to get all preach-y right there…but I am just excited about the things God is showing me, even if they seem miniscule or elementary to some.  Again, the small things are important to me now!  Being uprooted cross-country kind of did that to me.

Anyway, there are some cool things happening in my neighborhood and we want to get involved.
This weekend is our community’s “Good Ol’ Days” celebration- carnivals, bands, food samples, parades and all kinds of fun stuff are in the works.  The Chamber of Commerce is expecting over 30,000 visitors to show up, so it will be super crowded.  It’s right around the corner from my house, but I definitely don’t plan to move the car- no telling if I will find parking.  We’re planning to walk or bus downtown and enjoy it together- so that’s a fun outing we look forward to this weekend.

Then in a few weeks our family plans to celebrate Passover.  We have a local messianic congregation that might be hosting a passover seder, so I’ll be checking into that.  Either way, we’ll have our own at home also.
Speaking of that– we’re still looking for a good church to plug into (although I admit we’ve visited one at least twice that might be the winner!) It has a nice children’s department and is more of the charismatic nature.  We love the worship and the messages are life changing.  It also helps to hear that familiar southern accent (the pastor’s from the south) out in the middle of the west coast.  Makes me feel at home 🙂

As for Z…she really is growing up a lot and changing right before my eyes this week.  I realize now how much her efforts at learning sometimes get lost in the shuffle when we focus a lot our school time on my 3rd grader.  Sometimes it’s easy to let the preschoolers coast along, forgetting that they are no longer infants or toddlers and can really use some intellectual stimulation besides a bit of coloring and block-building.  I finally got the message when she started to literally beg me this week: “Mommy, do gool (school)?  Gool?  I want you to do gool with me”.  She surprises me all the time with her little quips and sayings.  Like, “Mommy, I want to be a mommy one day.”  Uh….okay we need to wait a few decades on that one!  Or my favorite one: “Mommy, I want to be married.”  Well.  I can only hope she says these things because  she thinks (after living in our home and observing me and her dad for some time now -ha!)- that being married is fun.  Either way, she’s a funny one.  Keeps me laughing and is very insightful.

So, here’s a cool activity we did today.  Some matching, sorting, and counting using activity kits I made from this workbook:

Take It To Your Seat Phonics Centers” .  Publisher: Evan Moor.
 (we got grades PreK-K)

If you can get this on Ebay or on sale somewhere it’s worth it for preschoolers.  I think they have the math centers too.
Basically, you have to cut them out and laminate them yourself, so there is some work involved.  But once you get the envelopes created for each activity you are set for years.  I originally made these for Ny when she was 4- and I am reusing them now, 4 years later for my 2nd kid.
If I get inspired to create my own (I’ve been tempted to save some money and try to do it myself), I’ll let you know.  That all depends on if time permits and I feel up to a fun challenge!  If I do decide to create a few of these myself I’ll be sure to post these and, of course, add these as resources for you to download too.
I’m not promising anything– but maybe.  We’ll see.

Well…that’s enough updating for now.  I said a mouthful in an hour and it’s time for bed. 
I’ll keep you posted.