August 30, 2009

Tour of the New House, pt. 4

As promised. Welcome to our home! The windows you see lead to the livingroom. The big tree is some kind of maple.

I don't know why, but the numbers for the house address are the same red as the trim on the house. The light was a bit funny when I took these. I love love love the double doors. :)

The pear tree in the front yard... can't wait for these to get ripe!

And now here's the back yard, starting with the deck. I like to have my devotions out here while Caleb plays in the yard below.

A sliding glass door leads from the deck into the dining area.

The back yard . . . Caleb's frontier.

One of the big pine trees in the back yard:

This is Caleb's stump. It was in one piece when we moved in; Caleb decided it would serve much better as a scratching post. Now the stump is about 2/3 the size it used to be. And whenever he goes outside, he points to it and says "Sump sump!" He knows it's his. Oh yes he does.

For good measure, here's our bedroom. It's upstairs and right next door to Caleb's. Since I took these photos, I managed to put curtains up. Just so's ya know. I do actually own curtains. I do actually use them. :) I know you guys were worried about that.

We acquired this dresser from John and Kim when we moved. I love the extra space. And the big huge mirror. :)

Well, there's more of the house. Now for Caleb's room, the den, the livingroom, and the Guest Room. Hmmm, I'd better get on the ball, huh? Those pics will be coming soon. All four are coming along real nicely. Especially the guest room. :)
Until next time

August 29, 2009

Photos of the Week

I love these signs. There's something inherently friendly about them.
A pair of them welcomes you as you enter Oak Harbor from Deception Pass on Hwy. 20. Another pair bids you adieu as you head south toward Coupeville on the same road.

Enjoy your weekend, wherever it takes you!

August 28, 2009

Guess Who's Talking?

Good evening, all! How's your Friday been?

I spent the morning marching around the livingroom at my son's request, singing Colonel Hathi's March from the Jungle Book. Every time I stopped, he'd bring me his little elephants and say "Muh? Muh?" If I didn't start singing right away, he'd try to do it himself. "Hut doo, hut doo."

Before we went to Wal-Mart for our weekly food shop, he helped me bring in the garbage cans from the street. He pushed and pulled with all his might, even though the recycle bin is five times his size; he loves to be a little helper. Along the way, he pointed to a bird flying overhead and said "Bur! Bur!"

Many of you know how long we've waited and prayed for Caleb to start talking. In the last two months, God has begun to answer those prayers. I don't know if our move had anything to do with it, or if the switch in his brain just flipped, but in the last two months his speech has blossomed. Sky-rocketed, in fact.

Now Caleb uses all sorts of words every day. "Cook-ie" is by far his favorite, followed closely by "Nack" (snack), "Muh" (more), and "buh" (banana). He can, and does, say rain, whale, apple, bear, tree, dog, duck, and a whole host of others. He's finally learned his farm animals (after learning all the wild ones first), and can make appropriate noises for each. He can also point to most of his body parts: hands, nose, mouth, eyes, feet, toes, ears.

Today he learned a new body part. Anyone care to guess? I was changing his diaper when he looked down, pointed, and asked 'Ut's at?' (What's That?). It was definitely one of those shake-your-head-with-laughter moments. Certainly one of the funniest in my career as a mommy thus far. He was so matter-of-fact in his curiosity.

But my favorite word, the one I love to hear no matter how often he says it, is ma-ma. More often than not, it comes out "ba-ba", but that's ok. I know he means me. :) I've waited two and a half years to hear that word. And I cherish it no matter how it's pronounced.

That brings me to a huge praise report: Caleb qualifies for Washington's Headstart program! This is pretty much the same program he was supposed to participate in, in California. It's a sort of preschool, only geared toward helping children develop in whatever areas they lack, such as speech, motor skills, or cognitive abilities. And even though Caleb's speech is rapidly improving, he's still technically "delayed." This program will hopefully be just the push he needs to catch up.
When we left California, I had no idea if I'd be able to find something similar, or if Caleb would even qualify. Different state, different policies. And we currently have no health insurrence. But I continued to bring the matter before God in prayer, knowing He would provide exactly what we needed. And whaddyaknow? He did.

I met with various people from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) this week; these people looked over my paperwork from Cali, asked me all sorts of questions and assessed Caleb in the various areas of his development. On Thursday, I found out he qualified for the program. :) :) Thank you, Jesus!

The class begins Sept. 23 and will run two days a week, for two hours each day. This mommy's heart is very thankful. The class will be good for Caleb in so many ways.

Although it feels a bit odd, the whole idea of sending my toddler to class. But that's a post for another day. It's almost midnight now and my brain is shutting off. Coherent thoughts are drifting and . . . and . . . and my spelling has already gone to bed. So I think I shall, too. Night all!

August 24, 2009

MisAdventure Upon Mount Baker

Most every weekend since we moved here, we have made trips to different places. State parks, various beaches, hiking trails. Jason and I are outdoorsy people by nature and living up here gives us ample opportunities to explore and enjoy.

This last weekend, we thought we'd try something new: a hiking trip off-island. Mount Baker, one of the northern-most peaks in the Cascades, is a popular destination, so we thought we'd give it a try. We started planning the trip a week in advance. Jason appointed me hiking-trail-finder and off I went through the Land of Google to find a moderate trail that all three of us could tackle.

I found several, in fact. After running the possibilities by Jason, we settled on Blue Lake Trail. At 3,900 feet of elevation, Blue Lake Trail was, the online trail guide assured me, "a beautiful and easy hike." Round trip was only 1.4 miles. Even Caleb could manage that. What could be better?

Full of anticipation, we woke up Saturday morning to sunshine and good weather.

"Do you have directions?" Jason asked me.
"Yep!" I replied. "We take the 20 east to Baker Lake Hwy. Then we look for something called a service road."

After packing lunches, we made a quick detour to Wal-Mart for new hiking boots for Jason. Then we were on our way. Over the bridge, off the island, and into the unknown. We got a later start then we wanted, but hey! it was an adventure!

Until I realized, a few miles outside a city named Concrete, that I'd written Baker Lake Hwy. instead of Baker Lake Road. And that we'd passed said road ten miles back. By then we'd been in the car an hour and a half and were starting to want those lunches. We corrected our navigational error and before long, the road was taking us into lush forests and foothills. Mount Baker peeked out at us every so often.

We passed Service Road 12, noting with some uncertaintly that it wasn't paved, and decided to drive on to Baker Lake to eat our food. After two and a half hours in the car, Caleb was more than ready to stretch his little legs and get into mischief. We found some maps of the area in a local camp store, and Jason poured over them while munching PB&J. Caleb climbed the Baker Lake welcome sign and pointed out pictures of bald eagles and bears for me to name.

Lunch revived us somewhat, and we decided to drive back to Service Road 12 and try to find Blue Lake Trail. The road may be nothing but dirt and gravel, but we probably wouldn't be on it very long. "It's an adventure!" we kept saying to each other.

10 miles and one hour later, I didn't feel quite so adventurous. Service Road 12 literally took us up a mountain. Up up up, on narrow dirt roads barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other. The views and vistas as we got higher up were incredible. That also meant the drop off from the left side of the road was equally incredible. I was driving and I had to stop myself from freaking out no less than 734 times. Now, the roads were in good condition; I doubt we were ever in any serious danger.

But we were seriously in the middle. of. nowhere. And those ten miles took us over an hour to drive. At least Caleb napped the whole way up.

We knew we had finally arrived when suddenly, there was no more Service Road 12. The road ended in a sort of clearing, and we spotted this:

Apparently, we'd found the trail. Caleb woke up, we doused ourselves with bug spray (having been bitten several times already back at the lake), and we were finally, finally ready to hike. It was now 3:30 pm.

That nap had really re-energized our son, and he took off as if nothing in the world existed but this hike. And even though we were in the middle. of. nowhere. on some mountain with no cell phone (did I mention the phone had died in the Wal-Mart parking lot?), we were well rewarded for our efforts.

Blue Lake, at last.

We didn't spend too much time there. The sun was going down, and we still had the return trip down Service Road 12 to make. But it was beautiful. Truly, breath-takingly, beautiful. Wildflowers bloomed everywhere. Fish jumped from the water. The water itself was incredibly clear.

Then it was back down the trail to the car, and ten more miles of this:
(Jason drove)

We had one more high point, though. About a mile from the trail head, we pulled off to take in these glorious views:
This is Mount Shukshan

And this is Mount Baker:

Covered in glaciers year-round, it rises over 10,000 feet. And viewing it from 3,900 feet, while breathing clear, thin, clean, cool air, was quite an experience.

Jason and I agreed that next time we go to Mount Baker, we'll research our hikes much more thoroughly. Fun as Blue Lake was, we spent around six hours in the car Saturday and only one on the actual trail. We also decided it'd be fun to camp up there for a weekend and do hikes while staying local.
(Mis)Adventure? Perhaps. Informative? Very. Fun?
Oh yeah.

August 19, 2009

Photo of the Week

A Hike With a View
Forest Discovery Trail, South Whidbey State Park

Sunday afternoon. Warm air with a tinge of cool. A breeze brushes our sweaty faces as the salty ocean smell rises to meet us. The water swirls right below our trail, perhaps two hundred feet down. A barge chugs southward down Admiraltry Inlet. In the distance, the Olympic mountains rise tall and proud in the August sunshine. We'll be visiting those mountains next month with Mom and Harry. I can hardly wait.

Truly wonderous how one picture can capture so much. Happy Wednesday, y'all!

August 18, 2009

Friends, Meet Whidbey Island

I thought it high time you peeps got acquainted with the place I now call home. Forgive the factoid-bulleted-list coming your way, but I have shared information with some of you that may not have been acurate and the purpose of this post is to set the record straight. Some of the stories I first heard about Whidbey Island and Deception Pass were flat out wrong; so if I have passed those incorrect stories and facts on to you, you have my deepest apologies. I hope this post makes amends and sends you a whole pound of chocolate.

Ooo, I hope it sends me a whole pound of chocolate, too!

Ahem. Ladies and gentlemen (do any gentlemen actually read this blog? I wonder . . . ) without any further ado, I give you Whidbey Island:

  • Located in the Puget Sound thirty miles north of Seattle, it is the largest island in Washington
  • It is around 60 miles from extreme northern tip to extreme southern tip. Go here for a map. Driving the full length of the island takes over an hour, mainly because the road doesn't follow a straight line.
  • Some sources, such as this sign found at Deception pass, claim Whidbey is the second largest island in the US. Others claim it is fifth.

  • There are only a couple of ways on and off the island: you can drive over Deception Pass at the northern tip, which will take you to Fidalgo Island, then on to Mount Vernon on the mainland. Or you can take a ferry further south. The Port Townsend ferry takes you to the Olympic Pennisula (home of the temperate rain forests and the famous Twilight town of Forks). At the southern end of Whidbey, you can also take the Mukilteo ferry which dumps you off pretty darn close to Seattle. Since we live in Oak Harbor, we generally drive Deception Pass to go off-island:

  • The island boasts 5 state parks; we've been to four of them. :)
  • Average yearly rainfall differs widely at various places on Whidbey. Oak Harbor sees about 26 inches annually. The area south of Coupeville sees the least, at about 18 in. For comparison, Seattle gets 36 in. and New York City, 40 in. We'll see how well I do this winter, since San Diego in contrast sees only about 6 in. Ha. Ha ha. Check back with me in February.

Oak Harbor owes much of its growth and prosperity to the presence of two military bases: the Naval Air Station and a sea plane base. Odd that I've lived close to military bases my entire life, and yet have never been military myself. My parents weren't. My husband isn't. Travel any further outside the family circle, though, and they start popping up all over the place: my grandfathers, my grandma, my uncles, my cousins, Jason's dad. The list goes on.

I guess you could say I come from an impressive military heritage (name that movie).

Or else I'm just using my family history to brag. Nah, I wouldn't do that. Would I?

Ahem. Moving on.

Jason and I haven't gone further south than Greenbank yet, but I do believe Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey. Even so, the city only boasts 20,000 inhabitants (as of ten years ago . . . sheesh, we need a new census!), which is quite a change from San Diego (at around 1 million).

So far, we like the small town atmosphere. People are very friendly, often stopping to chat in Wal-Mart about the weather or the child running loose with fruit snacks and paper clips. Oh wait, that was my son.

The only thing I haven't been able to find up here are Reynold's Foil Baking Cups. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but my mom came to the rescue just in time and is shipping up a whole boatload. My peanut butter brownie cups thank you, Mom.

That's pretty much our new home in a nutshell. If you want to hear an interesting story, scroll back up to the first photograph and read the sign (if you haven't already). It gives a history of the island and how Deception Pass got its name.

Did I leave anything out? Pique your curiosity and then leave you hanging? Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. Mind you, I'm new around here so I may not know the best place to eat sushi or if vampires really haunt the Olympic Penninsula. But if there's anything else you want to know about the island or WA in general, ask away!

August 17, 2009

The Guest Room and Other News

I'm hiding out in the livingroom, hoping Caleb will go back to sleep. He's napped; just not long enough. If I'm very very quiet, can I pretend I can't hear him???

Seriously, I shouldn't complain. After the Great Nap & Diaper Disaster, Caleb did, in fact, return to a normal nap routine. For which I was, and am, very grateful. He misses a nap maybe once a week, but those other six days? Golden.


In other news, the house is coming together! Boxes still lurk in certain corners but the majority of the unpacking is done. Whew! The new project is the Guest Room. If any of you read The Pioneer Woman, the Guest Room has become my personal mini-Lodge adventure. :)

I found curtains at the thrift store this morning. I have pictures picked out for the walls. My hope chest will live in there, as will Jason's old dresser. The only major item we're missing is a bed. But hopefully we'll have one of those soon, too. Because . . . BECAUSE . . .

Mom and Harry are coming to visit us next month!!! We're just a little excited, lemme tell ya. We're planning all sorts of fun ventures that week, which I will fill ya'll in later. But they must have a place to sleep. Must. After all, what's a guest room without a bed? (Well, right now it's just one big messy storage room. That's what.)

We have plenty of guests lined up in the coming months, so this room will see plenty of use. My friend Heather plans to spend Thanksgiving with us, then Mom and Harry will come again for Christmas. I love entertaining, and I love company. Now we have a spare room; and I get to organize, create, and decorate!

I will take step-by-step pictures as I go and post them here. If ya'll have any ideas, feel free to share 'em!

Barbarian Boy is chanting in his room. Guess that means I should get off the couch and release him from his den. At least his father, Barbarian Man, will be home in an hour. And the sun is shining. And I have fresh baked cookies sent to me by my mother.

Think I'll go count my blessings instead of the minutes Caleb didn't sleep. Happy Monday!

August 11, 2009

Photo of the Week

Sunset on the Swings

"Summer days swingin' away,
to oh-oh those summer nights!"

August 10, 2009

The Two Year Old Named Caleb

He keeps me company while Jason's at work. His giggle is the best sound in the world. He can be serious or silly, snuggly or wiggly, but he's always precious and sweet.

He jumps on his bed and says "Hap-py Hap-py Hap-py" over and over. He sees a doughnut in the supermarket and with a hopeful look my way says "Cookie?" while his little fingers swiftly sign "more, please."

He's our bud, our little man, our little boy, who's growin' up way too quick. He's got blonde, high-lighted hair that already turns heads. One day, he'll be a lady killer. ;) He gets excited about rain, can even say the word, and has no problems running outside half naked just to look up in wonder as water comes down from the sky.
He holds my hand while he walks down stairs, runs to me when he gets an "owwie", and clings to my leg as we wade through the lake. After two and a half years, he finally says "mama"; Lord, how I love hearing his little voice!
He's my precious boy, my two year old, my sweet Caleb.
I don't ever want to forget these days.

August 8, 2009

An Afternoon in Provence

Ever since we arrived in Washington, my SIL Helen and I have been making plans. Turns out there's all sorts of fun things to do on the Island, and not just during the summer. Today, we made good on one of those plans: we attended a local lavender festival.

The festival was held at Lavender Wind Farm, near Coupeville. I prayed for sunshine, but alas! every cloud in the northern hemisphere visited the farm along with us. Maybe clouds are big lavender fans, too.

At least it didn't rain.

Lavender has long been my favorite flower. When I lived in the desert, it was one of the few plants I ever grew successfully. I love the smell, I love the color, and today I discovered I love the taste, too. Helen and I shared a lavender & blackberry muffin, lavender lemonade, even a lavender ice cream bar, dipped in dark chocolate. Mmmmm!

The lemonade was my favorite. I was skeptical at first, but it turns out lavender can be quite useful in the kitchen and pairs nicely with all sorts of foods. To experiment, I bought a 1 oz. bottle of lavender extract to take home. I'm going to make lavender butter cream frosting with it, which I hear is very good. But don't get me started on baking. . . that's a tangent for another day!

The festival hosted artisans from all over the island: painters, potters, jewelers, wood-workers, quilters. And along with the yummy lavender foods we sampled were a whole bunch more we didn't: lavender stewed mussles, lavender apple cake, lavender chocolate chip cookies, and lavender wine.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The scent of lavender followed us everywhere, and if you closed your eyes for a moment and inhaled deeply, you could almost imagine you were in the south of France.

I'm very thankful to have Helen close by. After the festival, we got lunch, went home, and watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic." You know what else I'm thankful for? That she enjoys the same girlie things I do. :)