~ Our Wonderful, Bitter-Sweet Stay at Sequoia ~

I love our one and only family picture....except..... how can I edit out my butt?

This has been an unusually rough summer as news of hubby’s company (Bausch and Lomb) acquisition (by Valeant) loomed over our heads. We knew that the day would come….but surprisingly, It wasn’t long before the ax brought hubby home! On 8/7, hubby came home with 5 boxes of work stuff, including his favorite Chinese tea set and puffy casual office slippers.  Though we were in for a challenging August (and onwards), I knew this was a special time for our family. We’ve never experienced layoffs in our lives (another blessing to count!), so this was a golden opportunity for the kids (and parents) to learn how life could still be fun and meaningful without all the stuff and guarantees! While tossing out online resumes at lightening speed, hubby also spent lots of time playing “Texas Hold’em” with the kids, cooking delicious foods (like steak and chinese chicken noodle soup), and hanging out with us! Back in June, we had already booked a 7-day stay at a modest cabin in Hume Lake Christian Center at Sequoia National Park, so we decided that we should stick to our plans. This was a good opportunity to get away and not think about job openings and interviews (or the lack thereof, at this time).

The coordination of 4 beloved friends to care for our numerous feathered, furry and scaly friends took more communication and time than the packing itself, and I’m so thankful that all of my buddies (despite one mom’s extreme fear of any creature with a small head and a beak) offered to help out without hesitation (they may be regretting now, but I’m out of reach on all electronic levels, hahahaha). I hope my two sweet chickens don’t fly over the wall, attack their chickie-sitters, or get stolen/eaten in our absence….
Abbie does NOT like the little triangle house.... We all kept bumping our heads on the walls!

After a gruelsome, nauseating 7.5 hour trip up the mountainous terrain to our final destination, we were shocked to find that our online elegant, 2 bedroom cabin turned out to be a triangle (half-built-looking) scrawny little homestead with a super hot triangle attic/loft divided by a piece of board (carving out the website’s touted “beautiful 2 bedrooms”). It was like ordering a big, fat, juicy premium burger from the menu and being handed a tiny, dry value-deal cheeseburger…without cheese.  

Find Abbie among the Card-playing, Dodger-watching boys!

We eventually accepted our fate and it turned out we didn’t need all that much space after all, since grandpa Caleb, grandson Caleb and daddy Mark spent 85% of the day planted on the sofa playing “The Game” (as it was called by hubby, ‘cuz he doesn’t know what that game  was called). Maybe it was Napoleon or Bridge or something. The excitement wore off after 2 hours for mama Soph, because I was literally living like the olden-days mom in the black and white 60’s TV show….I love Lucy?!
The kids built super cool forts at Hume Lake!

There was no cell phone connection, no Texting/WhatsApp/Facebook/Email/Internet access, no TV (well, there was, but the boys hogged up the Dish-network watching Taipei vs. Japan Little League baseball & Dodgers games all week long), no rice cooker/toaster……..not even sofa space for Soph! I didn’t know what to do all day long! So I read and read and by day 3, I’ve exhausted myself of all my books, magazines, even reading all print-outs stuck on the cabin fridge, and was sooo ready to go home. I was bored to tears by Monday night and decided that hubby should not consider applying to be a Hume Lake full time employee, as we originally daydreamed about earlier in the day.

ROARING RIVER WATERFALL (from 12,000 ft elevation)!

The good thing was that every day I walked about an hour down, then up the mountainous roads to the General Store in order to experience some type of civilization besides sitting around with my beloved card-playing, junk-food eating, TV-watching couch potatoes. That was the highlight of my day! Each day I walked up and down the 45 degree mountain sweating and realized know why people have so many kids in the olden days….. because there was simply NOTHING to do all day long!   So, people had to DO SOMEthing, right? Anyways,   I insisted we leave the house at least once a day. We had fun driving on our golf-cart for the free tour and hearing the Hume Lake tour guide share about the history of this wonderful 320 acre Christian Center. It was a miracle they were able to buy this huge place back in the 40’s! (http://www.humelake.org/about/hume-history/)

We also went down to the south side of Hume Lake and enjoyed hours of playing in the water! The kids (grudgingly at first, esp. tween boy Caleb) spent 2 hours building their cool forts/moats while Grandpa took beautiful scenic pictures for his next book.  I was just glad to be out of the cabin! Tomorrow hubby, Caleb and I will go on the Zipline (glide down a dinky metal wire with minimal safety gear) ride! I can’t wait to go on this ride because that will be the highlight of my day.  

Can you spot me in the picture? For my birthday wish this year, I’m gonna be adventure,
enjoy God’s surprises, and hang on to the tail end of my 30’s!

Each day in the mountains felt like 40 hours instead of 24. The day stands still when you are in the middle of nowhere (ESP. without mom friends to chat with). I was beginning to have conversations with the squirrels and tiny pine tree sprouts crossing my path because I seriously had no one to converse with. Now I think that’s ok because I should savor the moments that daddy and grandpa are occupying the kids! Abbie doesn’t come to me and whine, “I’m Bored” every 75 seconds anymore! I suppose Human Nature always complains of what they do not have at the moment…. Like wanting a Vacation when stuck home in the daily rat race, and complaining that home is sweet and comfy while we are stranded on the mountain top (with super dry lips and sneezing uncontrollably from pine pollens). Yesterday Abbie and I went for a 1 hour walk…only to get caught in a thunderstorm after we bought 6 Airheads at the General store….a mile away from our cabin! My first reaction was “this is horrible!”….but now I think it is extremely memorable, because we’ve never been so wet and helpless and determined to reach the same goal (Get Home!) together!! We also raced to pick up the prettiest pine cones lining the hillsides, and look forward to decorating our front yard with them! What I thought was Boring was now exciting, and what I thought was exciting (Access to electronics) were actually Distractions! My perspective slowly began to change. 

Simple Pleasures: Making PB and J sandwiches for everyone by the river!
Today Abbie and I wandered off to the back patio, looked down, and discovered a slope full of baby pine sprouts! As I beheld these little ones, a thought hits me, “Wow, if under these harsh, dry, and rocky conditions, a 2-inch sprout can grow, thrive, and reach 7 or 8 stories high over time……Then surely hubby, and I, and the kids, can overcome our challenges however difficult they may seem right now!!”  ((^_^))  Who knew that playing with pine cones and transferring little pine sprouts could bring about such a big inspiration! This trip was beginning to take on a special meaning.
Abbie poses with little sprouts....then we replanted them back!

God wanted to show me something bigger than my own self-preoccupation. Another thing that struck me was that, these Sequoia trees, and squirrels, and Blue jays, and wild mallards, and whatever else was crawling/flying/growing out there…..Didn’t have a care in the world and didn’t mind if people were watching them, or if no one was watching them. They enjoyed BEING, period. They don’t need to please, perform, compare or compete with one another. Maybe people get away once (or many times a year) to the mountains or oceans where no one knows them exactly for the same reasons….so they can be anonymous and carefree and just BE.

God's Comforting Words were everywhere during our stay!

It’s harder to be in this natural state when you have neighbors, bosses, coworkers, parents from your kids’ school, friends, relatives, or phone/door marketers all revolving around you on any given day. It’s actually quite liberating not having to do anything productive but just vege out all day long. The result of this cherished down time is a super clear mind… and an enlarged waistline (esp. with the amount of real and junk foods we consumed)…..unless you hike up and down a steep mountain road 1+ hour a day. I enjoyed taking pictures of all the wildlife and majestic scenery of mountains, Giant Sequoias and the Lake ~ And I’m thankful my Samsung Galaxy was actually really clear and the pix came out great!

So after we descend this mountain, we will begin a brand new adventure. Not only will it be a new school year for the now 3rd/7th graders, but for hubby and me as well (Gasp! I will be 39 years old when we leave our tiny triangular cabin on 8/24!). We don’t know where God will lead us geographically or vocationally, but I know that if we walk with Him daily and grow spiritually, anywhere is a good place to be!! Thank you all for your love, prayers, friendship and for just BEING here!

Hugs and blessings,
Soph (Written on 8/20/13)

Cute Yellow-legged frog hangs out with blue dragonfly

I wanted tiny bottom-feeder fishes for my birthday ~ So hubby went and scooped away!

p.s. We came down the hill on my big “39” birthday yesterday (8/24) and I was blessed with well-wishes from all my dear family and friends! (^_^) Thank you ALL!!!!   (On 8/25/13 at 6:12am)