The house

I loved the house in terms of the home that it was for our family. I have so many precious memories there of the children. The land it sits on is a great piece of property, as I mentioned before. And the work that Dad did on and in the house was top-notch in terms of quality and style. For example, he installed new windows, upgraded the baseboards, installed engineered hardwood flooring, did interior and exterior paint, did a major remodel that added two rooms and a sundeck, granite countertops in the kitchen, etc., etc., etc. The place needed a ton of work when we bought it. Now, there is not a single place that you can look where he didn’t do something do it to improve it.

It had been majorly remodeled at least twice (once long before we moved in). That is great is some respects, but I don’t like the feel of a house that has been majorly remodeled, and the floorplan never quite sat well with my tastes. Homes that have been majorly remodeled tend to have non-standard floor plans that are cut-up and don’t flow well because they weren’t thought through by a single designer before the build. Multiple designers over multiple builds at multiple time frames tend to produce floor plans that don’t feel unified, to me at least. The place feels like that to me. But, when people see the house for the first time, their impressions are positive because all the work Dad did. So I don’t mean to say that it is ugly. It is just unusual, different.

While there, I am sure I said a couple times, “I’d like us to find a home with a normal floor plan.” I also remember wanting to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, so that we could feel safe when going for walks. But I see now that we rarely took the initiative on anything regarding our family. To take that sort of initiative would have opened us up to all sorts of criticisms and invasive inquiries, so in some ways it was just easier to stay put.

Even so, we had a lot of great memories there. There are volunteer berries that would sprout up in the summer and the kids loved to eat them. We had many vegetable gardens, and the kids would sit in the tomato plants and eat the tomatoes. We ate the veggies from the garden for dinner a lot. One summer, the weeds got so tall in the backyard that the kids made a maze out of them and I could not see the tops of their heads. We made lemonade with lemons from the lemon tree, and at least one summer the kids had a lemonade stand on the street. We had family meals around the dinner table most nights, with food that I cooked from scratch. We participated in homeschooling events such as science fairs and I still have the ribbons. We read lots of stories on the sofa, and watched lots of movies on the TV. The kids climbed trees and rode their bikes up and down the driveway. We took the trash out in either the little red Toyota truck, or Dad’s tractor. We recycled and had several of those recycle bins. When the girls got a little older, I bought them some kids cookbooks and they would make recipes that looked good to them. They always did a good job. I made and decorated many, many birthday cakes from scratch over the years. Off the top of my head I can think of the dinosaur cake, the whale cake, the number eight cake, and the heart cake. There were a lot of square, rectangular, or round cakes layer cakes too. I had a cake decorating book for inspiration.

I also took many, many photographs of the kids. There used to be a box of them there at Dad’s place. When you look at them, you may notice that I am missing from most of the pictures. That’s because I am the person behind the camera.


The forest made of weeds

One summer, there was a strange sort of seed that blew or somehow migrated into our backyard. The weeds that grew from those seeds grew into very tall weeds. The weeds were so tall and there were so many of them that the kids created a maze from them. I couldn’t see the kids or the tops of their heads when they played in that maze! I think Rebecca was about ten, so Rachel would have been nine and Joel five. They had so much fun playing out there. Dad finally mowed them all down with his little tractor, and I secretly hoped they would return the following summer. But they did not, and they never returned after that.

Book review: Catholics and Protestants–What Can We Learn from Each Other?

I’m reading Peter Kreeft’s book, “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?” So many gems and great discussion starters here. I think it will be a great help to both sides. Kreeft is a convert to the Catholic Church, from Presbyterianism. It might be tempting for Protestants to think he is going to be very partisan, and to make a case against Protestantism, but he doesn’t do that. Among other things, he describes what is excellent in Protestantism, and how (some, perhaps many) Catholics need it. He is rather critical of the Catholic Church for not doing a good enough job emphasizing the need for a personal relationship with Christ, but he does not downplay what the Catholic Church brings to the table.

Probably the most important point he makes is to say that the issue of justification has been solved. In other words, Catholics and Protestants don’t believe differently about justification, even though we thought we did going all the way back to beginning of the Reformation. It was, in fact, the impetus for the Reformation. So the central issue that sparked the Reformation has been solved.

People of good will on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide will benefit from this book. At the very least, it can provide many talking points for people to use as spring boards for open and honest discussion.


Where family members are buried

I don’t know if this is too much of a grim topic, but I thought it might be good to list the places where family members are buried.

My dad is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery. His plot number is 14-404.

A few family members on my mom’s side are buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana. Larry, my grandmother Mary, my grandfather George (they were divorced), and my aunt Laurie. She was their middle child, between Grandma and Auntie Joanie. She died at the age of nine from heart issues. I never knew her.

My great-aunt Esther and great-uncle Paul are buried in one of the Catholic cemeteries in Los Angeles. Esther is Mary’s older sister. Ga (their mother, my great-grandmother) is buried in Corona del Mar. She died when I was 19. Her first husband is my great-grandfather from Ireland who died in the 1920s of TB. His name is Ferrell O’Biren (not sure of the spelling), and he is buried in a veteran’s cemetary somewhere. Grandma thought maybe in Riverside, but when I asked her if it was the same place as my dad, she said probably not since that cemetery is relatively new.

On my dad’s side, my grandmother and grandfather (Beatrice and Arthur, also divorced) are buried in OKC or thereabouts. Rebecca and I went to her funeral in the fall of 1994. I was pregnant with Joel. The pictures of Rebecca and Jessica (my cousin Teri Dawn’s daughter) were taken at that time. My dad has three sisters, two older and one younger than him. One of the older sisters, my aunt Helen, died in about 2002 of breast cancer. She was cremated and some her ashes were scattered in the mountains near Gunnison, Colorado, and the rest were buried in a cemetery there. Uncle Terry, Teri Dawn’s father and Aunt Jeannie’s husband, died in June of 2016. He is probably buried somewhere in OKC. I have a first cousin once removed, Pete Barber, who died suddenly in about 2010, I believe. He is one of Janice’s sons (Janice is one of my first cousins, my aunt Helen’s eldest daughter). He is buried in Gunnison next to my Aunt Helen.

As of right now, all of my first cousins are still alive on both sides of the family.

I had a dream about Jesus

Back in February while I was staying with my mom in Vegas for a few days, I had a dream about Jesus. He was standing in front of me, and I thought, “It is the Lord.” For some reason I didn’t associate his name with his face until I work up. But it was him. Nothing else happened that I can remember.

Wild Animal Park trips

I spent the evening with Rachel and Alex on Sunday. We chatted about different things, and it turns out that Alex has never been to the Wild Animal Park. Rachel and I were incredulous at that, since it’s not far away. I took the kids there many, many times when they were growing up. I asked Rachel how many times she thinks we’ve been there and she said 100. I laughed and said, “It can’t be that many!” We did go a lot of times, but I don’t think it was 100. That would be ten times per year for ten years. Maybe it was 8 times per year for nine years, which would be 72–still a lot. Plus the times the girls went with the Girl Scouts. So I dunno… lots of times though.

We had a membership so it was super cheap to go. Lots of times we went when I was too worn out from homeschooling. It became a field trip, and we had lots of them. We also went to the Zoo and Balboa Park from time to time, but the Wild Animal Park was much closer to home. The food there was super expensive and not that great, so I’d pack a lunch for us to save money.

So many fun and interesting animals to see there. Was the bird show our favorite? Not sure but it was super cool.

We saw tigers, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, flamingos, and many others. It’s called the Safari Park now. The name was changed in 2010, I think. We are going to try to plan a trip out there soon so that Alex can see it. It will bring back a lot of wonderful memories.

Potato seeds

potato seeksOne time, before the kids were born, Dad and Curtis and I lived together in a small house we all rented on York Drive in Vista. We were at the dinner table, talking about planting a garden. Somebody mentioned planting potatoes. Either Curtis or I asked a question about potato seeds. We might have asked what they look like or where you get them.

I don’t remember the exact question we asked, but whatever it was, Dad started laughing so hard! He thought it was the funniest question. Curtis and I just looked at each other. We didn’t understand what was so funny. He said that potatoes don’t have seeds, that you just cut up a potato and grow a new potato plant from it. We all laughed about it, and it became one of those inside jokes as years went on.

Even though potato plants can be started from cut up potatoes, and in general this is considered the better way to grow potato plants, I was never convinced that potatoes don’t have seeds. That just didn’t make sense to the way I understood basic botany. So I went along with the laughter but inside I always wondered.

Play-dough sharks

My kids liked to play with Play-dough when they were little. One time, Rebecca made a shark with it. She showed it to us and we were very impressed. We made a big deal about it. It had a body and fins, including a dorsal fin. She did such a good job that I took a picture of her with it.

Then Rachel got a little jealous because Rebecca was getting so much praise for her shark. She tried to make a shark too, but… well… it didn’t turn out quite the same. It was more like a blob. I didn’t want her to feel bad, so we made a big deal about it and I took a picture of her with her “shark” too.

The pictures turned out really well, and we would look at them from time to time and smile at how adorable the girls were. They both look happy with their creations.

Animal farm

We had a lot of different kinds of animals while the kids were growing up. We had the “normal” ones, such as cats and a dog. Our dog, Annie, had three litters of puppies before I got her spayed. They were so adorable and the kids cried when we had to find them new homes.

We also had:

  • Chickens
  • Turtles
  • Turkeys
  • Geese
  • Cockatiels
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hermit crabs
  • A king snake (very briefly)
  • Rabbits, not as pets, as food. That’s another story. 😦
  • We took care of a ferret briefly. It belonged to a neighbor and had gotten loose in our yard.

I think having animals was good for the kids. I’m glad we lived on a piece of property that was big enough to make it work, .72 acres if I remember correctly. It is actually two lots with two different assessor’s parcel numbers. I always loved that property.

I didn’t love the structure of house, although I did appreciate the amount of work Dad put into it, and the quality of work he did. He is a craftsman and it shows. But the floorplan never sat well with me, and that aspect of the house was out of his control. There is only so much even a good craftsman can do, unless you tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.

But the land? Whole other story. I loved the land, which has mature trees, including mature fruit trees, and amazing views. We had vegetable gardens many years, and that was always fun. In the summer the kids loved to sit in the tomato patch and eat the tomatoes when they were ripe. The winter gardens did better than the spring/summer gardens, I think, because there was more rain, and fewer bugs and weeds. In the winter we planted lettuces, radishes, green peppers, spinach, broccoli, beets, onions (onion planting day is Nov. 10 in southern California). In the summer we planted corn, tomatoes, squash, green beans, radishes. We probably planted other things but I don’t remember what they are right now.