Category Archives: California Dreamin’

October Poetry, Day 23

Deeper blue, thick with water,
the ocean stretches fingers out from the bay.
Back one, now two miles, down urban streets,
among skyscrapers and taco shops and
the concrete boxes where your people live in smaller boxes.

Drunken laughter, taxi horns,
a homeless woman’s cart beating the endless rythem- cha-chunk, cha-chunk,
Bus vibrations, a dogs bark, now two, the street poet’s confused
prose, the saxophonists blaze, the baseball roar, the helicopter hum.
This is your strange California jazz, and on the edge of
America we your people dance our samba,
our clumsy ballet of business and pleasure and what we do because we know
nothing else.
We extend into one in the movement of your nighttime masses,
We plie back into many, the slow release of morning.

4 am, alone.
I stand upon the cusp, looking into the gray of your morning fog,
towards a vast, rolling body I
cannot see. The body
of your voluptuous mistress,
the one that eats away at your edges but you will never ask to leave.
This fog is her checking in, are
all the children in their places? Act 10, Scene 13 is about to begin.
San Diego Saturday, take one and go.


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Filed under California Dreamin', Poetry, San Diego

Return of the Blogger

Aaaaaaaaaand, I’m back! Good grief, has it really been a week? Please accept my sincerest apologies for my long absence; it won’t happen again. Or at least it won’t happen again until someday when Tyler takes me on a Caribbean cruise or some other such wonderfulness. The Week of Moving Madness was just that: a week of madness. This is the list of what I did over the last week:

  1. Pack up a flobbity-jillion boxes.

    The moving truck, before and after.

  2. Put said boxes into a moving truck.
  3. Follow behind my husband driving said truck in our car.
  4. Wait on the side of the road for the mechanic to come and look at the moving truck to determine why it wouldn’t move.
  5. Ask the mechanic if he could jump off my car while he was at it, since the battery was dead.
  6. Spend the night in a hotel after driving for eight hours to get to a place we should have gotten to in three and a half.
  7. Finally get to  the new apartment a mere 24 hours after we left Bakersfield.
  8. Unpack the moving truck and drag all out stuff up to the seventh floor. For five hours. Yipee!
  9. Discover that our car is dead…again. Wait for AAA to come and replace our battery.
  10. Unpack all those boxes that are now in our new, shiny home.
  11. Try to remember to eat at least twice a day.
  12. Try to remember to sleep a little bit.
  13. Steal moments to read when I’m “going to the bathroom.” *wink*

What did you do this week? Whatever it was, it was probably 29 times more exciting than what I did, but it was all worth it in the end. Hencefourth, I get to wake up to this every morning:

Now that we are here, I’ve been very busy. I have been…

  1. Not getting up before 8:30 am. Rough.
  2. Setting up house. My first order of business was setting up a reading corner, though the kitchen and bathroom are pretty much squared away, and the closet shall join them shortly.
  3. Looking out the window a lot. I’m still in awe of our cityscape.
  4. Reading. I started this lovely little book today:

    The Secret Lives of Wives by Iris Krasnow

    It is really interesting so far. Some of these women say having a man on the side has helped the, some say illness is what made them strong, and some say their arranged marriage is the best thing that ever happened to them. I’m not necessarily advocating for any of that, but I am fascinated.  Being married long enough to be passed the newlywed stage but not long enough to be considered a pro by any means, I’m really interested to delve into this topic. So far, if someone asked me the secret to our happiness these past four years, I’d say a strong underlying friendship, our shared commitment to our faith and core values, and honest communication. At the end of the day, no matter what has happened, that man is still the best friend I have in the world, which gives me something to fight for, no matter what. But in another four years, or eight, or twelve, who knows what I’ll say?  What about you? Man or woman, what would you say the key to longevity is? How do you keep a happy marriage? For that matter,  how do you keep any long-term relationship going?

  5. Taking an obscene amount of Cambria pictures:

    Sorry about missing Caturday! This little quartet pretty much sums up what she's been up to, though- sleeping and chilling out in odd places.

  6. Cooking dinner and other domestic type things.
  7. And tomorrow I will begin hunting for the perfect wall color. I’m thinking a nice, bright yellow.

Like I said, life is really tough right now. Another endeavor I plan to undertake soon: find every bookstore I can reasonably walk to/take the trolley to in San Diego. There are two just on the street I live on alone! But right now I’m going to sleep for the next ten hours. But I promise not to abandon you! I will surely be back tomorrow, my friends, granted I can pencil you into my demanding schedule.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, California Dreamin', Cambria, Cats, Caturday, Love & Marriage, Odds and Ends, San Diego, Tyler

House Hunters: San Diego Edition

On today’s edition of House Hunters, Tyler and Amanda are looking for a starter loft in Downtown San Diego. With a budget of preferably-not-highway-robbery, and less than 24 hours to make their decision, will this young couple find the loft of their dreams, or will they be stuck roughing in the tent city while they try to figure out what on earth they’ve gotten themselves into?

The Last Resort.

First, they previewed several old-building lofts. The building is over 100 years old, and was renovated into live/work lofts with in-room laundry and central heat/AC in the 90’s. The spaces are a little bit bigger, and feel more livable and less sterile than the new-building lofts, but you have to pay for parking, and there are no decks or outdoor spaces. This was Amanda’s favorite building by far, but there were two layouts to choose from, which made things tricky.

Old Building, Loft #1, 770 sq. feet.

Apartment F: L shape separates bedroom from living space, six large windows let in a lot of light, but they look out over a parking garage. Boo.

Old Building. Loft #2,800 sq. feet.

Apartment A: fewer windows, but a better view and more space.

Second, they toured a penthouse-level loft at the very top of their price range with high ceilings, an amazing view out of floor to ceiling windows, a deck, one parking spot included and not much else. If you could see Tyler’s face in the photo, you would know it was his favorite.

Penthouse Loft, 600 sq. feet

Gorgeous view and a balcony, but pricey and small.

If you’re wondering why there aren’t more pictures for this one, it’s because there wasn’t really more to take a picture of. There was a bathroom, a closet, and a kitchenette to the left, and then some space. I called this the casserole loft because everything- kitchen, bedroom, livingroom- was all thrown in there together were little opportunity for separation of any kind. One could practically have fried bacon from the bed, but that view is incredible!

And third, was the “second choice” loft: a platform loft apartment, with a three step-up into the bedroom, a half-wall separation between rooms, so it was still two rooms but it was open, one parking spot included and two closets. It had a decent amount of space, didn’t feel like a casserole, and had a great view, but no balcony.

Raised Platform Loft, 720 sq. feet 

Cute design. Everyone's second choice.

So after spending waaaaaaaaaay too long deliberating, what did our enterprising young couple choose?

An old-building loft with lots of character? The penthouse loft with an amazing view but little space? Or the compromise loft with two closets and a cute design?

*Drumroll please*

We chose the second old-building loft!

It has the great view Tyler had hoped for, but it’s large enough that I think I can a: make it through a day without feeling claustrophobic and b: turn it into a nice home. It was the best compromise, and we’re very excited about it. We move in 10.14.11!

I’ll be back tomorrow with something  bookish and/or more interesting than the pictures of empty apartments, I just wanted to show off our new pad and some of the amazing views of our new city. T-minus 4 days and counting until this is my home…

San Diego, here we come!


Filed under California Dreamin', Odds and Ends, San Diego

In Which I Imagine Books Can Talk, Feel Way Too Many Emotions At Once, and Almost Turn Into Augustus Gloop, but Stop Myself.

I am depressed. It’s for a silly reason, and I know it. Maybe it’s because I’m running on little sleep and I haven’t taken in enough caffeine to make up for it (which is also responsible for the typo in my post title. Sorry!); maybe I’m projecting my feelings about leaving Hingepoint onto something that’s easier to deal with; or maybe I’m just a super-nerd and I don’t want to own up to it. Either way, I started packing up my books last night in preparation for our upcoming move to San Diego, and I got really sad.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! I'll never let go, Jack!

I feel like I just shoved my best friends into boxes, dooming them to lonely darkness for the next several weeks. I keep imagining poor, lovely Zhivago snuggled between my worn copies of Quixote and Gatsby, feeling abandoned and trying to remember the good times…

Zhivago: “I remember once when Amanda was sick, and she curled up with a cup of tea and read me for hours. She used to keep me on her desk in case she felt blue and wanted to read her favorite book. Those were the days! *Sniffle, sniffle.*”

Gatsby: “Amanda used to read me once a year, and now I’m stuck in this musty box. I don’t think she loves me anymore, boo hoo hoo.”

Quixote: “Oh, Zhivago, remember that time in college when she was writing a paper, and she carried us around in her bag for two solid weeks! That’s when I got this wicked spine crease. *Sob* I miss her so much…”

Then Pride and Prejudice chimes in bitterly from a few books below: “Will you babies stop your snivelling! At least you got unpacked after the last move! Hamlet and I have been stuck in here since South Carolina. You sound so spoiled.”

Zhivago: “Be kind to us! Have you no heart? We’re grieving!”

Or maybe they’re just cozy and hibernating in there. Or maybe they are inanimate objects without thoughts or feelings. It’s anyone’s guess, really. All I know is that I feel almost as bad as if I had to pack, say, Tyler or Cambria or my mom into a box, tape them up, and label them, “Husband/Cat/Parent: DO NOT PUT INTO STORAGE!”before stacking them to the side.

Thankfully this traumatic stage of book-packing is almost over, but then I’ll have to pack up everything else, and I’ll have to retrieve my silly cat from the plethora of new hide-outs that an emptying apartment affords to a fuzzball of her stature. The most recent little hole she’s found for herself is in the box spring under our bed, which was, until last night, a storage spot.

I suppose this is a comfy place to chill and spy on your humans as they sweat and toil.

So I may not be around much in the next week and a half. I apologize in advance for my absence, but I will try to pop in for some updates.

And I’m still going to try to read a book each week, for my own sanity. I’m feeling so many things right now: I’m excited to move and see what’s up ahead of us, but I’m sad to leave Hingepoint, sad to leave some of the dearest friends I’ve ever known. In a lot of ways I’m grieving, even in the midst of my excitement. I have weak moments of nervousness, when I let myself think too much and I’m afraid to be lonely. With Tyler at work all day and no church home and no friends nearby, what will I do with myself? I’ve never been a housewife before, and it doesn’t come naturally to me. What if I hate it? Then I have moments of frenetic energy, when I am so ready to just be there already, when I can’t wait to find out who we’ll meet and what we’ll learn. We’ve been working towards me staying at home for years now, and I know God has a purpose in these rare days when I will be at home but without children. Who knows what I’ll get to do!

Honestly, I’m starting to feel a bit bi-polar.

Books and prayer are the two best things I know to help me focus when I start to yo-yo like this. Prayer aligns me with God, centering me on Him and helping me remember what He says, what is true, in the midst of my chaotic thoughts. Books help me remember what life is really like when I am in danger of getting too wrapped up in my mind, too in danger of becoming my own version of The Underground Man. I used to throw copious amounts of chocolate in the mix with books and prayer, but then I got chubby, so I don’t do that these days.

Don't judge me! It's genetic!

So I will still read, and I will still blog. And I will resist the urge to gobble chocolate like Augustus Gloop. But I warn you, I may sound crazier than ever. Love me anyway? Good.

What about you? What about moving is hardest for you? What’s going on in your life that you have mixed feeling about? What do you do to help yourself cope?


Filed under Books, California Dreamin', Cambria, Odds and Ends

Caturday 10.1.11: Cambria Builds a Cat Fort, And Also, We’re Moving

Like a small child, Cambria likes boxes more than toys. She especially likes boxes that are already turned on their side so she doesn’t have to waste the effort to jump in.

Cambria is very good at being as lazy as possible while still getting what she wants. She feel’s this is a talent that should be shared, thus she wants to present to you…

Cambria’s “How to Build a Cat Fort for Dummy’s and Smart-But-Lazy People”

Step 1: Sniff out the box that is a:easiest to climb into, and b: filled with the least amount of stuff and the most sunshine.

Step 2: Try to lie in it in several positions to check for ultimate comfort.

Step 3: If/when your human tries to get you out, purr loudly and look as cute as possible. They will melt, and let you keep the box.

Step 4: Relax and enjoy your victory with a nap in your new cat fort.

And there you have it, one of Cambria’s greatest talents, along with always managing to spill her water, and somehow tunneling under the bed even though there is literally no room down there because we use it for storage. Seriously, it’s like her own personal Moria, and I have no clue how she does it.

I guess I should tell you about the second part of the blog title now, and why there are so many boxes available to Wonder Cat, huh?

As the title implies, we’re moving. What the title doesn’t tell you is that we’re not just moving apartments, we’re moving cities. Two weeks from yesterday we will be moving to San Diego, California.

Long story short, Tyler has a friend who works down there, and had been after him to move. We always ignored him, figuring that there was no way God was calling us away from Hingepoint, the church plant we moved here to help start. But his friend is a persistent little man, so after dismissing him out of hand for several months, we decided to pray about it, assuming that God would confirm that we should stay in Bakersfield. Nope. So here we are, almost four weeks later, packing and apartment searching, and already resigning our jobs.

I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet that we’re really doing this. A month ago, moving wasn’t even a thought in our minds, and now we’re off on yet another adventure. And though we don’t know any of the details yet except for where Tyler will work (and admittedly large detail that we’re very happy is nailed down), we are excited! God is doing big things, and we don’t ever want to miss out on it.

Cambria, of course, is blissfully unaware of any of this. When I asked her what she thought of moving, she just got super excited and licked my ear, because moving=boxes. And because cats are just weird like that. As long as there are boxes and tuna, she will follow us anywhere.

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Filed under California Dreamin', Cambria, Cats, Caturday, Faith, Travels

Stories From Inside A Whale, French Food, and Other Micsellanious Updates

Just a quick update, since I neglected you so unjustly this weekend.

The fair on Saturday went really well. Thanks to everyone who prayed! We shared Jesus through story with fifty or so kids, and several prayed to receive Christ! It was such a sweet experience. I’ve never really thought of Jonah and the Whale as an evangelical story before, and I was really impressed with how they pulled it off. And, of course, the kids were a ton of fun, as kids are prone to be.

We told our stories inside this air conditioned plaster Whale, because we told the story of Jonah and the Whale, duh. Some of the comments we got from the kids were:

  • “If the whale was air-conditioned, why was Jonah complaining?”- Jocelyn, fives years old
  • “Is this a real whale? Did they catch it and stuff it like my dad does deer?” – Emily, six years old
  • And my favorite, “Whales have nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus would not have been swallowed, he would have ridden the whale like a surfboard.”- David, seven-ish years old

Clever, those kids. Also, one of the kids called me a heathen because I’m not Catholic, and stormed out. All in a days work.

After my story shift ended, Emily and I wandered the fair for several hours. We basically watched the pregnant cow exhibit and ate a ridiculous amount of fair food, which included gelato, some heavenly cheese fries, and a huge plate of ribs and corn on the cob. In order to properly enjoy our ribs, we hid at a dark picnic table and unleashed our inner-man. Seriously, we scarfed these babies messily and without shame. Or at least a minimal amount of shame, which we chose to ignore.

No shame!

More recently, we just got back last night from an overnight trip to San Diego. It was our first time there, and we loved it! We stayed in a suite at the Andaz Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, which was pretty legit.

The Living Room

Big, Comfy Bed. You can't see it, but there's another flat screen TV in front of the bed.

We had dinner Sunday night at the Cafe Chloe, a little French Cafe in downtown San Diego. It was incredible! I had some superb French onion soup, mussels in a cream sauce, and a fabulous pistachio bread pudding. It was all wonderful, but what was brilliant about my main course was the unusual choice to put shoestring french fries in with the mussels, which I nicknamed Americana Chic in my head. They soaked up the sauce and were waaaay too delicious for words. I am drooling just thinking about it. I wanted to take a picture, but we were with a few people I’d never met before, and Tyler made me promise not to do anything embarrassing. I figured taking pictures of each course as they came would not be considered normal, so I abstained. (This is also why I only named the seafood-and-french-fry dish in my head and not out loud.)

*Sigh* Now that I got my hopes up only to have them dashed, you know this legendary sushi is all I want to eat.

We spent Monday driving around, through Balboa Park and around Coronado Island, and being generally touristy. Our friend Kristen used to live in San Diego, and she really talked up Sushi Deli. Unfortunately, they closed fifteen minutes before we got there. My sushi-loving self we rather sad, but oh well. It gives me an excuse to go back!

And now it’s back to the daily grind. This week is going to be busy. I’m working my usual schedule, and building one of my larger sets ever…in five days. Am I crazy, you ask? It’s looking like that is the case.

Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that today is the Birthday of not one but two of my lovely sister-in-laws! Happy Birthday to Charity…

Charity is the beautiful one looking at the camera, in case you were wondering. 🙂

and to Allyson…

Sorry for stealing these pictures from your Facebook, Allyson!

We love you two an awful lot! And in typical Stroud fashion, your gifts will be late. But I bought them early, so that must count for something! Have a wonderful day, mes soeurs!

And have a wonderful day everyone else, too! I know I will. Especially because I got to skip Monday for this work week. No case of The Monday’s for me! Woo hoo!

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Filed under California Dreamin', Odds and Ends, The Monday's, Travels

Craft Geek

A lot of my conversations since moving go like this:

Friend/Acquaintance: “Oh, you moved here/there to help start a church? Is you husband the pastor? Are you the pastor’s wife?”

Me: “Hahaha….no.” (If you’ve met Tyler, you know why this is funny. Tyler+Public Speaking=Panic Attack.)

F: “Does he lead worship? Are you the worship pastor’s wife?”

M: “Um…no.”

F: “Oh. Then what do you do?”

M: “He’s not a pastor at all. And I make stuff.”

F: “Oh……”

These conversations are frustrating to a certain degree, because it really is easier to show you than to tell you. So for the sake of avoiding future awkward conversations, this, dear friends and acquaintances, is what I do…

Which is to say, I make things. Specifically, I make sets to go with each new kids series for both the elementary and preschool class rooms, and I come up with and make the crafts, games, etc. for the elementary class each week.

I also do this…

We had only boys one service, so we did the logical thing: we built a Ninja hide-out from chairs and the twister mat.

Sock puppets!

Singing and/or Dancing. It's hard to do both at the same time.

Ollie Octopus, our craft area mascot.

Dress-up relay race, anyone?

Which is to say that I play games, make stuff, laugh a lot, and learn even more with the coolest 1st through 5th graders around every Sunday. I love it! Some of the best blessings and biggest lessons I’ve learned have come from my time spent with these kids. (And although you wouldn’t know it from Jonah’s face in that last picture, the kids have almost as much fun as I do.)

And this is what Tyler does…

Which is to say that my husband is the Hingepoint Church sound guru who likes to take pictures of the service and his gear on occasion from behind his soundboard. He also records and mixes the sound on any albums the Hingepoint worship band might drop.  I have zero talent in the music and sound mixing business, but I’m told by those who do that Tyler is very good at what he does.

So there you have it. In California, much as in South Carolina, I’m a craft geek and my husband is a nerdy gear-head. That is what we do.

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Filed under California Dreamin', Odds and Ends