California's been home to us for a little over a month now─a very busy month full of excitement, stress and uncertainty, but God's been using it all to grow us stronger in our faith and closer as a family....
Read monthly diaries from folks across the country from all walks of outdoor and country life.
State Abbreviation - CA
State Capital - Sacramento
Other Notable Cities - Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco
Area - 163,707 square miles [California is the 3rd biggest state in the USA - only Alaska and Texas are bigger]
Population - 33,871,648 (as of 2000) [California is the most populous state in the USA]
Name for Residents - Californians
Major Industries - agriculture (many, many products), oil, mining, electronics, movie making/entertainment, and tourism
Origin of the Name California - The name California comes from a mythical Spanish island ruled by a queen called Califia that was featured in a Spanish romance ("Las Sergas de Esplandian") written by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo in 1510. The Spanish explorers originally thought that California was an island.
State Nickname - The Golden State
State Motto - Eureka (I have found it)
State Song - "I Love You, California"
I'm not sure if it was curiosity or hunger that caused this adorable, delicate looking deer to venture into our picnic site the other day, but it seriously came within 10 feet of us. As it just stood there staring at us for what seemed like the longest time, my only thought (other than to grab the camera!) was that if its momma was close by it could mean trouble for us. Not that deer are know for attacking people, but I have been chased by one before (a momma, in fact, who's little one was getting too near to us in her opinion out on a hiking trail)....
It's definitely true what people say about the cost of living being higher here in California compared to where we're from in Idaho. Gas is more expensive, sales tax is higher and you certainly don't get as much for your money when it comes to housing. And while I won't argue the fact that money can make life easier, it's also just as true that many of life's biggest blessings and most meaningful moments don't come from things with price tags─things like friendship and laughter, the chance to watch your child triumph over something they've been struggling with, hugs and kisses, sympathy and encouragement, bonds between siblings and cousins and grandkids & their grandparents and of course my three personal favorite, faith, hope and love. So even if our dollars don't stretch as far for us here as they did back in Idaho, I have a feeling we're gonna be just fine. :)...
Do you ever have something that keeps showing up on your 'to-do' list, day after day, for no other reason than you simply don't want to do it? For the past couple of weeks the 'to-do' I've been dreading has been to brave the Department of Motor Vehicles and get a new, California drivers license.
Well, I finally got around to it yesterday. Spent two hours there─standing in line, filling out forms, sitting in the waiting area, people watching, eavesdropping, doing Sudoku puzzles, getting my picture taken, having my thumbprint scanned, taking the written test, taking the motorcycle test, chatting with various people, re-taking the motorcycle test, passing my tests (yay!), handing over what's now my 'old' Idaho license only to have them punch a hole through it to invalidate it and then give it back to me to keep as a form of ID until my new one comes in the mail. And although it was time consuming and a little stressful there for awhile (haven't taken a test in years!), it sure does feel good to be able to check that one off my list!
There are so many nice people here in Redding! And I don't just mean nice as in 'polite enough,' I mean nice as in sincerely kind and genuinely friendly. From the construction worker who first welcomed us here as we pulled into town with our uHaul (plus he filled us in on the best place to go sledding in the winter!), to the two gentlemen we hired to help us unload everything, to a new neighbor who brought over a pitcher of ice water and some cups that day just in case we didn't have any, to another neighbor who gave us a sweet 'welcome to the neighborhood' card, to the principal at the middle school who personally gave us a tour of the campus, to the school counselor there who's kind words and helpful suggestions helped us feel welcome at a time when we needed it most, to all the office staff at both our girls' schools any time we've had a question, to the guidance counselor at the high school who's gone out of her way to help our oldest get her schedule just right, to the post office worker who responded sympathetically to me even when I got a little snappy with him (when I found out I needed to show proof of address to pick up my mailbox key and I had no such document with me!). And the list just goes on and on...so many acts of kindness...all adding up in a very big way to help make this transition of ours seem a little less harrowing, a little more pleasant.
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." -Aesop
The Sacramento River runs through our city. It's big, it's beautiful and it's seriously ice cold (at least the spot we sampled with our toes was!). But what I like best about it is the calming effect it has on me─how soothing it sounds as it steadily flows by; how the fresh earthy scent of it makes me want to breath in deep; and how even the mere sight of it is somehow reassuring, as if its presence and it's movement serve to remind me that, while where I am matters, it's where I'm headed that really counts.
There's just something about watching the sun set that fills me with awe, each and every time─as if heaven itself is peeking through, all regal and majestic like in the purest shades of beautiful, and there I am with a front row seat, compliments of The Master Artist!...
The construction of Shasta dam was a huge undertaking, to say the least. It began in the 1930's and took until 1945 to complete. It's quite a sight to see and even has its own visitor center filled with tons of interesting facts and photos detailing the how's and who's and when's of it all. They offer tours as well. And if you think the dam's impressive, the lake itself is absolutely gorgeous─from the lush multitude of trees surrounding it, to the ground's deep orange-ish tint, to the sheer size of it!...
We haven't watched TV in almost 3 months! Not intentionally really, it's just that we've been moving too frequently to commit to signing a service contract with anyone.
Oddly enough, I really don't miss it. Oh, I'm sure I'd feel a bit more informed and in-the-loop if I tuned in to the 10 o'clock news once in awhile and I wouldn't mind catching an episode of Globe Trekker or Antique Roadshow now and then, but other than that I'm quite enjoying this season of being 'unplugged.' In fact, I'd hate to think of all the fun things I've done and places I've been lately that I might never have gotten around to experiencing if I'd been parked in front of a tv set.
The air here has been thick with smoke lately from the various wildfires burning nearby. So much so, in fact, all you have to do to see it or smell it is open your front door.
Sure does make me stop and realize how grateful I am for all the brave and self-less men and women out there fighting those fires who've given up the comforts of their homes and the company of their families in an attempt to ensure the safety and well-being of the rest of us!
One of my favorite things about school being back in session is that once again my husband and I are guaranteed a weekly weekday date on his day off from work. Sometimes if we've got appointments scheduled or a long 'to-do' list to tackle we may only have time to squeeze in a lunch together, but other times we're able to set aside the entire time the girls are in school and go all out by taking a day trip─which is what we got to do yesterday! We picked Burney Falls as our destination out of our new "Best Easy Day Hikes" (a great book line, by the way, by 'Falcon Guides' and they have them for tons of specific areas/towns/regions!) and that's where we ventured off to on our first of many date-days of this brand new school year.
I'm all for the whole 'time-out' idea─and not just for toddlers learning to play nice, but for us grown ups as well. When life's demands start stacking up and the pressure of all we're expected to do & be in a day begins to weigh us down, sometimes a few moments alone to clear our head and catch our breath can make all the difference....
So many things have changed for our family in such a short period of time. Most of these changes I've met with optimism and enthusiasm but there have definitely been moments of frustration along the way when my ability to be pleasant has ceased to exist, and even a time or two I've found myself in tears─overwhelmed by it all and simply exhausted.
Change isn't easy─even when it's what we wanted. Transition takes time and taking time means being patient─with ourselves, with each other and with the process of whatever it is God is up to in our lives....
This past Saturday, as sort of a last hoorah before the new school year started, I took my girls out to one of the many free-of-charge, ranger-led programs in our area. This particular one included an informative tour of an old historic house built in the mid 1800's and an opportunity to try our hand at panning for gold, just like so many others did way back in the days of the California gold rush....
I just love farmers' markets─all the fresh produce you can choose from, the upbeat atmosphere & positive energy, the opportunity to support the hard work of local families. So when I found out they run here from April clear through the middle of December, I was delighted! We've been going each week and are enjoying every bite of it (especially the peaches and tomatoes!) and I even splurged on a beautiful hand-made basket on our first visit which we now use exclusively for our farmers' market shopping trips.
We've been witnessing our fair share of wildlife lately. Not 'wild' wildlife, mind you, but non-housetrained, outdoors-ish type creatures none-the-less. Like the dove that's been nesting up in the second story eaves where we live. Thankfully she's well-mannered enough not to start her daily cooing until right around 7am. Then we have geckos─all over the place! They're cute enough, but for those of us not used to them it's a bit startling when they scramble out from under a bush or somewhere and scurry across your path. And then there's my personal favorite so far...which was an owl we caught sight of from our backyard the other day. It was perched in a tree about a hundred yards away just as the sun was setting─a beautiful sight! I had just enough time to grab my camera from inside the house and snap a quick shot before he flew away!
Since we moved, our mailbox has been nothing short than a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for my girls─at least that's the case on those sweet, happy days when they open it to find colorful envelopes stuffed with letters and photos and trinkets from their best friends and grandmas.
It's amazing how loved a little thoughtfulness in the form of a few handwritten words and a bit of postage can make someone feel!...
After finding a nearby gym that's geared towards families and trying it out a few times, thanks to our 'one week free guest pass,' we decided to take the membership plunge! Yay for group fitness classes, all the strength training equipment we could possibly want, well maintained tennis courts, outdoor swimming pools, forming healthy habits, meeting new people and getting in on limited-time discounted sign up rates!
All summer long I've been trying to get used to the idea that, come next week, not only will my youngest will be starting her first year of middle school but my oldest will be a freshman in high school! Two major milestones and although I'm not sure how they snuck up on me so fast, here they come.
And just like that, gone are the days of school shopping for boxes of crayons, watercolor paint sets, bottles of Elmer's glue and fun new lunch boxes; now its scientific calculators, trapper keepers and PE uniforms! And while I know this is all as it should be I can't help feeling a little sad as my turn to help out with art projects, reading groups and class parties has come and gone. Those were good years and what fun memories were made! Memories I'll now treasure as I continue along this path of children growing up and parents growing older. So here's to next week and all it's sure to bring with it, to reaching major milestones and new memories yet to be made, and to God, who holds it all, always, in the palm of His hand.