December 31, 2009

Happy (pink) New Year!

Yesterday, I drank pink coffee.

Well, that is only half true.

It was pink, but it wasn't coffee. For the first time ever, I drove through Starbucks and ordered something other than coffee. Shocking, isn't it?

It was Tazo Passion Fruit Iced Tea Lemonade. Shaken, not stirred. With two Splenda.

Ooooooohhhh my!

Someone save me. I'm drowning in Ice Tea Lemonade bliss. I may never go back to coffee again.

(Just kidding, coffee. You know I love you.)

Seriously, though. It was THAT good.

I also liked this Tazo Passion Fruit Iced Tea Lemonade because it afforded me the pleasure of drinking something pink.

Yes, I'm a girl. Yes, I like pink. I'm not afraid to admit it.

I'm also not afraid to admit that this tropical pink beverage, with its citrus-y flavor, reminded me oh-so-much of summer and drinking it was like taking a mini-vacation back to July. I wanted to find my flip-flops. And sunscreen. Maybe grab a towel and go lay out on the beach.

I miss July.

Anyway, Happy New Year y'all! May 2010 bring you lots of opportunities to try new things! (Because you never know when you might find something delicious and cold and pink!)

December 29, 2009

A Piece of Quiet

10:17 pm.

Caleb is in bed. He was allowed to stay up later tonight, thanks to a rare two-hour nap this afternoon. He's not asleep yet; sounds like he's listening to police scanners in there. But that's just his new favorite toy: a large, rather realistic looking (and sounding) police car. Caleb has barely been parted from it since Christmas morning.

Course, I don't let him bring it in the car. The last thing I need is to hear sirens, see lights, and pull the car over only to discover the policeman is my son in the backseat. Heh.

The other new favorite around here is a set of Handy Manny tools, complete with singing tool box. Caleb loves pretending to take things apart with the screwdrivers and whacking his other (unfortunate) toys with the hammer.

Ah, the sights and sounds of an almost-three-year-old after Christmas!

Our Christmas was good, albeit busy. Busy and happy.

Today that busy-ness came to an abrupt halt. Mom and Harry left this morning before the sun came up. Caleb and I spent the day at home. We played with his new toys, his new jungle gym, read new books and watched new Veggie Tales movies. I don't always make the time to play with him like I want (and some days it's beyond my control), but today was fun. Restful. Just right.

You know what else I did today?

Are you ready for it?



I did nothing. And I had to give myself permission to do it, too.

I'm a busy person by nature. This is both a good and a bad thing. But this morning, realizing how insanely busy we've been the last six weeks, I decided to halt my To-Do list before it gained momentum and ran me over and decided to put everything off til tomorrow.

The late Christmas cards that still need to be mailed? They can wait.

The Amish Friendship bread I wanted to bake? Eh, one more day won't kill the starter.

Dishes? Those can wait, too.

Today was a sabbath, my first in quite some time. Even Caleb got into the spirit of things and took that nice, long nap while I frittered (yes, frittered) away the afternoon on WoW.

At first I felt guilty. My list of projects grows, and housework always needs tending to. But I heard a Still Small Voice telling me to rest today because I needed it. My family needed it. So I did.

Boy, did it feel good!

Tomorrow will come with its demands and responsibilities, but for now I'm enjoying the peaceful end to a quiet day.

December 24, 2009

Deck The Halls!

Would you believe we decorated our Christmas tree this morning?

Normally, the tree would've been decorated weeks ago; but this month has been especially busy for us and, well, let's just say I'm thankful we even put our tree up this year.

Even though it's Christmas Eve, decorating the tree today meant that Mom and Harry were here to participate with us. (Actually, Jason had to work and Harry made breakfast, so the only tree elves on duty this morning were Mom, me, and Caleb).

Caleb's old enough now to enjoy the ornaments, if still a little young to understand they're supposed to stay on the tree. Details, right? So I let him pick out a couple of sturdy ones and he played chase with a one-horse open sleigh and a felt snowman.

I love pulling out our ornaments every year. They are old friends; each one holds special memories, because every year, I buy a new ornament that symbolizes something important from our year. Like the stone memorials of the Old Testament, our ornaments mark momentous moments in our life as a family. What God has done for us, what God has done through us. They are a remembrance of His blessings.

May I share a few favorites with you?

2004, the year Jason and I were married

2007, Caleb's First Christmas (and first birthday shortly thereafter)

The Masquerade Dance from Phantom of the Opera. This ornament is a personal favorite because it marks the year I graduated high school, started college, and began falling in love with my future husband.
It's also a favorite because "Masquerade" is my favorite song from the musical and this ornament plays a clip of that song.

Nativity Scene from Peru (2005). A two week missions trip, our first together as a married couple. There are llamas in the stable instead of sheep.

A Celtic Cross (2001), from a summer missions trip to Northern Ireland. I met Lindsay on that trip, who would eventually become my best friend and adopted big sister.

This is our ornament from last year (2008). It's Noah's Ark with
woodland animals and pine trees. I bought it because it reminded me of our trip to Washington last summer and because I hoped God would eventually move us there.
(He did).

'Course, some ornaments are bought simply because they're fun!
For example, my S'Mores Snowman:

Caleb's Pirate Ship.

And because we love our Veggies:

to be joined this year with this (compliments of my Mom):

Here's this year's ornament:

A little squirrel moving into an acorn.

Pretty much says it all. :)
God is good. And He is faithful. I am reminded of that more during Christmas than any other time of the year (except perhaps at Easter).

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve and a Merrier Christmas Day tomorrow, dear friends!

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi
from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
~ Matthew 2:1-2

December 20, 2009

I Need A Silent Night

Hello? Hello?

Well now, I do believe this is my blog.

Aaa-choo! Wow, dusty in here! And what's that over there? A cobweb?

Oh my. We have work to do.

*pulls out the broom and mop*

While I'm busy, here's a song I've wanted to share with you all month long. And with it, our Christmas season (thus far) in pictures.

I've made the same mistake before

Too many malls, too many stores.

December traffic, Christmas rush

It breaks me until I push and shove.

Children are crying while mothers are trying

to photograph Santa and sleigh

(there's a story behind these Santa pictures; remind me to share it sometime)

The shopping and buying and standing forever in line

What can I say?

I need a silent night, a holy night

To hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise.

(I apologize for the quality, or lack thereof, of these photos. My camera misbehaved

all night long while we looked at lights.)

I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here

to end this crazy day with a silent night.

December comes, then disappears

Faster and faster every year.

Did my own mother keep this pace?

Or was the world a different place?

(my sweet mother-in-law)

Where people stayed home, wishing for snow

Watching three channels on their TV.

Look at us now, rushing around

Trying to buy Christmas peace.

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise

I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here

To end this crazy day with a silent night.

(here is the jungle gym, mostly complete. It is, however, missing the most important part:
The Slide!)

Do you think he likes it?

I think he does.
-- "I Need A Silent Night" by Amy Grant.
This song has played in my head non-stop, since I first heard on the radio right after Thanksgiving. It has been my song this Christmas; I identify with its sentiments. All month long I have struggled to simply slow down and relish the quiet joys Christmas brings. I think I'm finally getting there.
Merry Christmas, friends!

December 12, 2009

A Merry Change of Plans

So my mother-in-law calls this morning. She and my father-in-law are gone for the weekend, so her call was a bit of a surprise.

"Hey Nicole! We're at the Lights of Christmas on Camano Island. This place is just amazing! We've got a hotel room, and John and I were wondering if you guys wanted to come up today and stay with us? We have two extra tickets and Caleb would just love it!"

She goes on to tell me about the petting zoo, the trails all lit up with lights, the dinner theater, the Polar Express train rides, and the Victorian Carolers. I listen and drool.

But then I say, "Kim, I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure we can't come. Jason and I were planning to paint Caleb's jungle gym today."

[This is where the I-don't-handle-change-of-plans-well part of my personality surfaces]

But I do go on to say, "I will talk to Jason and see what he says; I'm not sure we can swing it, but I'd really like to come."

[Enter the I-would-really-like-to-come-but-I'm-positive-my-husband-will-say-no-so-I'm-not-going-to-get-my-hopes-up attitude. I'm sure Kim could hear it in my voice].

I hang up the phone (or rather, I hit the cancel button on my cell) and march down the stairs to Jason. I begin to relay to him what his mother has just told me.

"Well, would you like to go?" he asks. I look at him. One of those looks. A look that says Please don't mess with me. He smirks at me and says "I guess I already know the answer to that."

"The real question is, is it worth it? To put all our plans on hold?" I'm a planner type of person. I don't feel comfortable changing plans rapidly; it kinda scares me, actually. And if I leave work undone, I feel guilty.

But. I do want to go. This place sounds amazing. And after all, it is Christmas. :) So goes the internal struggle.

That's when I brought up the website for Warm Beach. We started watching a little video presentation on these Lights of Christmas, and after 3.6 seconds, Jason says: "Ok, I've seen enough. We're going."

I sure love that man. I do. :)

And not because he agrees to take me fun, beautiful, amazing places. But rather because he allows room for changes and isn't bothered by putting off work and chores when something unique and special comes along.

So today and tonight, instead of painting, we will be caroling and petting animals and riding trains and eating freshly fried doughnuts. :)

Merry Christmas!

December 4, 2009

Snapshot (and Soapbox) of the Week

All year long, I've had this little calendar keeping me company:

It belonged to my Grandma; she always did have an eye for pretty things. When Mom and I started going through her stuff last January, we found an extra one and Mom said I could have it.

I was thrilled, because as you can see, this calendar is quite beautiful. It hung above my desk in our apartment in San Diego. I'm the kind of person who needs calendars around; otherwise, I forget what day it is and then I start post-dating checks, missing appointments (like I did when Heather was here), and skipping birthdays. Seriously. I need help. That's why I like calendars.

Not only is this calendar pretty to look at, it has some fun quotes, too. So imagine my surprise when I flipped the page up to December on Monday and found this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."

As I read it through the first time, I was absolutely expecting it to say ". . . but Jesus." After all, it is December, the Christmas season, and even in our secular culture you see a lot of Jesus references and manger scenes this time of year.
If the calendar wasn't going to mention Jesus by name, I at least expected something like "Nothing can bring you peace but a joyful heart" or "a selfless life."
But "yourself"? Really?
I'm sorry, Mr. Emerson. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.
Boy am I glad that I don't have to depend on myself for peace! I would constantly disappoint myself if that were the case.
Poor Ralph. No wonder the guy had serious depression issues.
So bothered was I by this misguided quote, that I decided to fix it. After all, I'll be looking at this calendar for the next 31 days:

At first, I crossed out Ralph's name and wrote my own. Then I realized that I can't really take credit for the idea of Jesus bringing us peace. That one was all God. So I fixed that, too.

"But now in Christ Jesus
you who once were far away have been brought near
through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one
and has destroyed the barrier [between us]."
~ Eph. 2:13-14
Merry Christmas!

December 1, 2009

The Elves Are Busy in Santa's Workshop

Some of you may remember the Project? El Proyecto Numero Uno? Well, it's finally underway.

*does happy dance*

We started building it Sunday afternoon, after a family trip to Home Depot (and by family, I mean the entire Neuhauser clan!). And yes, I took pictures to share with y'all!

Michael, Jason, and John brainstorm ideas. I offered a few of my own, and then mostly took pictures while they yammered and hammered. :)

Rough sketch, looking from the back (against the wall) to the front. The rectangular object in the upper right hand corner is the slide. The plethora of verticle lines in the lower left corner represents a network of stairs leading up from underneath the platform to the top of it.

Michael drawing some ideas for those stairs (this sketch is not drawn to scale):

Something closer to what the finished product will look like. Rope railings, race car track next to the slide, and a rock climbing wall beside that.

Half of the basic platform, already built! It stands about five feet tall, so Caleb has room to grow.

This little boy is going to have one epic Christmas. :)
Because we hope to have the whole thing finished by then. Without him knowing. Our plan is to build it in pieces in John's garage, then to move and assemble it in our den Christmas Eve. When it's in place, we'll close off the downstairs entirely and wait for Christmas morning, when the whole family can be here to watch.
I get all smiley just thinking about it. :)
In other news, I read an excellent post today over at Hope Scribbles. If you haven't had the pleasure, please head on over and be blessed. Lady Felicity is a wonderful, insightful writer and her blog always brightens my day. Her post today was especially good, because it addresses a topic for Christian women that I fear is too often overlooked or ignored.
Speaking of ignored, my poor little blog feels a bit dejected these days. I haven't had much time for posts; indeed, I haven't had much time for anything. My livingroom is awash in Christmas decorations, Jason's car needs tires and brakes, and we have a jungle gym to build in just four weeks. Life is good, my friends, but lordy, life is full. :)
So if I'm a bit absent this month from Bloggie World, it's because I'm trying to put Christmas lights on my two-story house without breaking my neck, mmkay?