October 30, 2009

Bad Weather Begets Fun Projects

I feel I ought to preface this post by saying that we had an absolutely glorious summer here in the Pacific Northwest. You guys should know; I only posted fifty billion photos of ocean, trees, lakes, and hiking trails, all of them glinting in the gorgeous summer sunshine.

Then autumn came. And we had another glorious month and a half of cooler-but-still-sunny weather. We went berry-picking. We went to the Olympic Penninsula. I baked pumpkin spice cake. (enter angelic singing here)

Then . . . I got sick. One, two times. Working on #3 right now (stupid sore throat). And as if to commiserate, the weather has turned just as sour. Gray, windy, wet, cold. The epitome of Ick.

I have no business acting surprised. People have been warning me about the winters here since we moved. Heck, even before we moved. I knew this was coming. I know I can expect more of the same Ick until March.

Now to just survive until March . . .

So. I've been praying, friends. I've been praying real hard, because I know that many people struggle with depression during the cold seaon up here, and I DON'T want to be one of them. What can I do? I ask the Lord. Help me stay upbeat and positive and happy. Help me stay busy.

And this project idea came to mind:

Build Caleb an indoor park.

Oh, it'll be a miniature park. We don't have THAT much space. But I already have a design in my head, and I have a father-in-law able and willing to make that design a reality.

I'm so stinkin' excited. :)

I've seen indoor play structures like this before. Caleb has one at his school. They are small jungle gyms, maybe only four feet tall, with little ladders or steps leading up and a small slide going back down. Some have crawl spaces underneath them. Some fancy ones have bridges extending from one platform to another. Ours probably won't be that extensive, but I'm hoping we can put in a ball pit. Caleb loves ball pits.

The best part about this project is that Caleb will have a place to run his crazies out no matter what kind of Ick we have outside (and no matter how many times I get sick). Rain or snow or wind, he can play downstairs and climb around to his heart's content.

At least, that's the idea. We're going over the in-laws for dinner Sunday, and John and I plan to discuss the particulars then. Everyone loves the idea, and I think this just might be Caleb's Christmas present this year. Hopefully, we can find all the parts we want/need and hopefully, it won't cost too much.

In the meantime, check out this website I found earlier today. Some pretty cool stuff here. I definitely got some inspiration from these designs, and even ordered a catalogue. Can't hurt, right?

So that's our little slice of life right now. I'll keep ya'll informed on how it all goes, and I'd appreciate your prayers these next few months, too, as I acclimate. Or hibernate, as the case may be. ;)

Happy weekend, all!

October 28, 2009

The Day the Child Went Ka-Boom! or A Peek Into My Day

Let it be known that when a certain toddler heard Mommy was going to be blogging about their day, he rubbed his little hands together and with an evil grin whispered "Most excellent." This toddler then proceeded to plan an offensive attack that, quite frankly, blindsided this mommy.

Such is the case when we decide to show off our lives for others to read. Murphy's Law is never more present than when you want to make a good impression.

Also, the same Mommy and Toddler were recovering from a nasty flu bug at the time of this bloggie chronicle; therefore, the Peek you are about to receive should NOT be taken as the gospel truth, normal Tuesday-ness we usually experience. Usually, there's a lot less coughing. Thank you.


7:16 am - I'm awake, but I don't want to be. The sky is pitch dark outside. Who wants to get up while it's still dark? Hubby, that's who. Hubby is up and getting ready for work. I strain my ears for sounds coming from the other bedroom, but hear nothing. Ahhhh. I close my eyes and allow myself a few more minutes . . .

7:45 am - The Alarm Clock is up, banging around his room, knocking at his door, begging to be set free. That's my cue; good-bye pillows! Good morning, Caleb!

We settle out on a chair in the living room for a rare morning snuggle. My son, most of you may recall, is NOT a snuggler, so the few minutes he spends sitting on my lap while I rock are precious. They are also my chance to fully wake up. While the sun has risen by now, the day is pretty gray. I do notice, however, that the howling wind from the night before has calmed down. The outdoors are quiet and cold and still.

8:00 am - Caleb's done snuggling and wants his customary morning banana. I pour myself some water and the two of us sit on barstools drinking and munching and rubbing the last of the sleepies out of our eyes. Then I change his diaper, get him dressed, and we're ready for breakfast.

Caleb has waffles, I get toast and canned peaches. While we eat, I let my mind wander . . .

What should we do today? Laundry? I look around the kitchen. It's trashed. A unintended victim of the flu bug. Nah, no laundry today. The kitchen is gonna take priority.

As breakfast winds down, we hit our first snag of the day: Caleb's decided he wants an apple. Mommy says no, you already had a banana and what do you think I am, a fruit vendor? Caleb whines. Mommy huffs. We have a discipline moment.

8:55 am - I grab Caleb and his little preschool bible and we sit down in the living room for devos. Today we read the story of the widow who gave her two small coins to the temple treasury. When we're done, Caleb flips to other stories, looking for pictures of fish and animals. We end with a prayer, asking Jesus to help us be loving nand gentle and patient today.

The prayer is as much for me as it is for him.

Serious time turns into tickle time, and for a few minutes I chase Caleb around the living room making him giggle and laugh. . .

. . . until I start hacking up a lung. That darn cough hasn't gone away yet, and so I have to cut the chase short. I put on a Veggie Tales movie for Caleb instead, and head into the bedroom to have my own devos.

10:00 am - The wind is starting to pick up outside as I take chicken out of the freezer for dinner. Grrrrrr. Guess I'll get dressed and try to get Caleb outside while I can. I am soooo not ready for winter.

Snags #2, #3, and #4 occur. More whining ensues. So do more disciplinary moments. I am getting frustrated with my precious little angel. He's fighting me on everything today: putting on his shoes, putting on his jacket, taking toys with him in the car.

Doesn't he know I'm trying to blog about today? Doesn't he know I need him to be good and sweet and perfectly obedient???

Obviously, someone didn't get the memo.

10:32 am - The park is cold. The only other family we see leaves shortly after we arrive, so we have Ft. Nugent all to ourselves. Caleb runs and plays and seems to be enjoying himself. He loves slides. Unfortunately, today the slides do not love him back.

Fifteen mintues into his play time, he slides backwards, down a particularly long and slick slide, only to slam his nose on the ledge at the very bottom. Bashed nose. Much blood. Loud screaming. Worried mother. Caleb is NOT happy, and I'm beginning to realize that we're in for a tough day.

I clean him up as best I can. He doesn't want to walk, so I carry him back to the car and try to get him settled comfortably in his car seat. I don't really want to head home just yet, so I turn on Caleb's favorite Baby Einsteins music cd and go for a drive.

We drive west until we hit the ocean, then turn south to follow the coast. In the distance, I catch glimpses of the Olympic Mountains. The clouds have lifted and the mountain peaks display the first snow of the season. They are breath-taking. Beautiful. I wish I had my camera.

11:50 am - Back at home, I get lunch going: grilled cheese and apples. Jason comes home from work, and we take our lunch downstairs to the den. Caleb watched some Bob the Builder on the lap top while me and Jay sit at our respective desks, on our respective computers. I check my email, look up some scrapbooking stuff, and do other assorted fun computery things.

1:06 pm - Jason heads back to work. I put Caleb down for a nap and get dinner started. Tonight, we're having chicken and dumplings ala crock pot. This is one of our old favorites and one I haven't made in a while. I cut up chicken, slice potatoes, add spices, and set the whole thing on High while an old Michael W. Smith cd plays in the background.

Time to get to that kitchen. Gulp. What a mess! Remind me never to get sick again. I can't stand the clean up afterwards.

While I clean, I talk to Linds on the phone. Then I sort through bills and junk mail.

More dishes. I'm feeling kinda lonely today (another repercussion of being sick all week), so I call my mother-in-law and invite the family over for dessert later. I'm elated when she says yes, they can all make it. Woohoo!!!

Lonliness is something I've struggled with since we moved here in June. I am (slowly) making new friends, but that process can take a while and you can't rush relationships.

4:30 pm - Caleb is up from his nap and in a much better mood. We read a book together about Grover, the cute furry blue monster, then I put on Madagascar for him so I can put the biscuits in the crock pot and finish cleaning up the kitchen.

5:12 pm - Jason is home!!! We sit down to eat and talk about our day. He checks out Caleb's nose, which is still oozing blood; doesn't appear to be broken, just sore. Poor little guy.

After dinner, Caleb finishs his movie while I clean up the dinner dishes and make room on the table for cards later. I indulge in some more tickle time with my son, but that pesky cough gets in the way again. It's ok, I tell Caleb. Uncle Mike will be here soon. He'll chase you alllllll over the house. :)

7:10 pm - The family shows up, bringing cheesecake with them. John and Jason talk about work, Kim and I talk about canning, and Michael plays with Caleb, as promised. We laugh and joke, chat and cajole. I cough, and cough some more. I love seeing my house full of people. There's just something about it that fills me up inside and makes me happy, cough and all. After Caleb goes to bed, we play a round of cribbage. Mike and I play partners, but John and Jason win.

9:06 pm - Our company bids us good-night and Jason and I once again head downstairs to the den. He messes around with an old game on his system while I just sit and stare at mine.

"Jay? I'm thinking about getting back into WoW. . ."

For the next twenty mintues, we talk about computer games and how he would feel if I wanted to re-activate my account. I still have friends in the game who I would love to reconnect with. Not to mention, I have a feeling this winter will be hard on me as I adjust to life with no sun, and I'm thinking the game might help get me through.

We end our conversation with me deciding to give it some more thought. Thought, and prayer.

I realize that I am pretty tired and kiss my husband good-night. Upstairs, I put away leftovers, give the counters one final wipe down, then head to bed. I hear Caleb whimpering next door and wonder if his nose is hurting him.

10:15 pm - I'm in bed, snuggling down under the flannel sheets. Caleb lies next to me, apparently much happier in our bed than his. I just hope he doesn't kick. :)


October 26, 2009

Grumpy Flu Bug and the Great Canning Caper

We are on the mend. Praise Jesus! Fevers are gone, strength is returning. We still have hacking coughs and stuffy noses, but I'm hopeful we'll make a full recovery by the weekend.


Before all this sickie nonsense started, I had a post. A post with pictures. A post all about my Great Canning Caper last Tuesday. I planned to share it with you much sooner, but that crabby old Flu Bug hog-tied my fingers. Anyway, better late than never, right?

Some of you may remember our pear tree in the front yard. It's not a very large tree, but good grief! was it ever full of fruit when we moved in! Since the three of us love pears, I kept an eye on them and when they started to ripen, I picked a whole heap and stuck them in our coat closet to soften up.

What on earth am I going to do with all these pears??? I wondered to myself. Well here in the Northwest, that answer's easy: you can 'em.

Can't be that hard, I thought. I read up on the process and instructions on the internet. My mother-in-law had all the equipment. I borrowed my father-in-law's crab pot for the boil bath. I bought 12 1-quart jars from the local Country Store.

Last Tuesday was The Day. In the morning, I put all the jars in the dishwasher to sanitize while Caleb and I went on a hike, to make sure he wouldn't be too wound up later. Then we stopped at Blockbuster for some movies to keep him busy. Back home, we ate lunch, leisurely watched Madagascar 2, and I chatted with Jason. Somewhere around 1pm I washed and peeled my first pear.

. . . and somewhere around 10:30 pm I washed and peeled my last. Jason helped for a while after Caleb went to bed (he took pity on me when he got home from work, and it's a good thing! Otherwise, I would've been canning late, late into the night).

Who am I kidding? I was up late, late into the night anyway. The last jar came out of the boil bath around 11:00 and with all the clean up, I wasn't in bed until after midnight.

But I think, I think, it was worth it:

There they are! The pioneer women of the 1800s have my undying respect and appreciation after this adventure. Canning is SO MUCH WORK! Next time (if there is a next time, which is debatable at the moment), I think I'll try to coerce, um, I mean, engage some girlfriends to help me.
In the meantime, these jars are going up on a shelf in my livingroom for all to see. No one shall ever eat them. They represent too much hard work to be eaten. They shall be showcased instead. For all eternity.
The pears that Nicole canned. Oh yeah.
Just kidding. I don't even have a shelf in my livingroom. And since I put in twelve hours of labor to produce these pears, someone better eat them. ;)
And that, my friends, was the Great Canning Caper.

Well now that I'm feeling better, I hope to be around the Bloggie World more in the coming days. I especially look forward to this event over at YLCF on Wednesday:

YLCF Blog Carnival

The whole point of this Blog Carnival is to give each other an honest glimpse into our lives. In a culture where image is everything, I think this sounds like a refreshing idea. I look forward to peeking in on other ladies' blogs on Wednesday and maybe making some new friends, too!

Now I will bid you all adieu and wish you pleasant dreams. May your sleep be sweet and filled with many plump pears!

October 24, 2009



We are still sick. Sickie sickie. Apparently, we caught a nasty flu bug that's been going around Oak Harbor. It's such a nasty bug, it made the news here in our little town.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I HATE being sick. I've had a fever for 2 and a half days now, and it stinks.

The good news is that Caleb was pretty sick on Thursday, but he's feeling lots better now. No more fever for him. Just some residual coughing and sneezing. I am very happy about that, because he was so pitiful on Thursday. Wanted to be held allll day long. Didn't want to eat anything. My poor sweet boy, it broke my heart. But he's better now, so that's good.

Now if I could just get better. *rolls eyes*

Anyway, I'll probably be absent from Blogger for a few more days. Not sure I'd make a whole lotta sense if I tried to write bloggie posts right now. There's just something about a 100+ degree fever that makes a coherent post unlikely. ;)

If you guys could pray for a speedy recovery for us, I'd appreciate it. And also, that Jason wouldn't catch this bug. So far, he's in the clear. I just hope it stays that way. Thanks ya'll. :)

October 17, 2009

One Rainy Saturday . . .

Here's what I woke up to this morning:

I wasn't really surprised. It's been raining on and off the last few days, with lots more wet weather forcasted for next week. Amazing sunny autumn days are gone it seems; wet, damp autumn days are here. But I don't mind.
When I consider the gorgeous summer we had, and the beautiful fall we've enjoyed thus far (all of September and the first half of October anyway), I can't complain. Without the rain, we wouldn't have the beauty. The cloudy wet weather makes me appreciate the sun all the more and I will gladly make the trade Washington requires. Five months of rain for seven months of glorious splendor. I don't mind.
On account of the weather, we treated ourselves to a lazy Saturday morning. Caleb watched Monsters Inc. Jason read a book. I cleaned my kitchen.
I wanted to clean my kitchen this morning. This whole last week was a catch-up week for me. Happens every time I get sick. I'm sick for a week, then spend the next picking up the pieces. Housework gets let go; errands go un-run. And no matter how hard I tried this week, my kitchen would. not. stay. clean.
Cooking and baking doesn't help, but what am I supposed to do? Not feed my family? Not bake goodies for the women's bible study? Not try out delicious new recipes from Bakerella??? I think not. I'm not a bad housekeeper. I just need a Mary Poppins around to snap her fingers whenever I make a mess. ;)

Anyhow, I had the kitchen half-way done last night before we left for Comedy Night at my in-laws church. This morning, while Caleb happily giggled over hairy blue monsters and one eyed cretins, I suddenly found myself with all the time I needed to get that scrubbing done. And oh! I enjoyed every minute. Cleaning is very therapeutic for me. If I can do it alone and uninterrupted, that is.
I sorta assumed that, with the rain and all, we wouldn't go anywhere today. I thought to myself, sponge and dirty platter in hand, Wow, this will be the first Saturday in months that we haven't gone hiking. Weekend hikes have sorta become a family custom since we moved, one that all three of us enjoy.
Turns out I assumed wrong. After his movie, Caleb started his customary I-have-way-too-much-energy-so-I'm-going-to-bounce-off-the-walls-now routine. When I caught him with a mouthful of Tums pilfered from the bathroom, I knew this whole stay indoors thing wasn't going to work. For him or for me.
Jasooooon! I'm going to kill him!
That's my code for "Honey, we need to get him out of the house. NOW!"
So we bundled up and introduced Caleb to some new friends: these shiny green rain boots.
These boots were made for walkin'

And that's just what they'll do!

One of these days these boots are gonna

Walk all over you!

We went to Joseph Whidbey SP, which is where we go when we aren't feeling too adventurous. It's familiar. The paths are easy. It's our home away from home.

Yeah we got wet, but you know what? We didn't care. We saw a bald eagle. Caleb ran around and tried to catch the rain. We breathed in the smell of wet fir trees. We came home, changed our damp clothes, ate lunch. Caleb went down for a nap and we watched some Burn Notice. I listened to my husband laugh while I snuggled under some blankets on the couch. Whenever I went into the kitchen for something, I sighed contentedly at the sight of NO DISHES on the counters and NO DIRT on the floor. I may never want to cook again.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday, eh?

October 13, 2009

Just Another Tuesday

"This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24
We're heading out to the post office this morning to pick up a package from my mommy dearest and Harry the Happy. Then we're mailing two packages of our own, one headed for Pennsylvannia and one headed for California.
The weather is gloomy this morning. And COLD. Brrrrrrr. Rain's supposed to come our way tomorrow and Thursday, but so far it's dry outside. And cold. Did I mention that already?
Caleb and I cleaned his room this morning. I did most the "cleaning", but he did help me sweep. Sort of. His room gets dirty so fast, I don't even try to keep it clean. I have better things to do than continually pick up after my son and his 4,725 various plastic toys. But we're going to work on that. Maybe a quick clean-up session right before bedtime? I like that idea. We'll see how the idea likes Caleb.
Later, we going to attempt baking cookies together. I'm in such a mood to bake! Tomorrow is my day to bring snack to the women's bible study at church, so today I have an excuse to turn on the oven. I haven't decided what I'll make, but if it turns out yummy, maybe I'll take a picture and post it here.
Speaking of bible study, I'm waaaaaaay behind in my homework. A whole week behind. *lowers her head dolefully* We're stuyding Esther in a Beth Moore book and we'll begin chapter 5 tomorrow. BUT, I still haven't done the homework for chapter 4. Darn sickie germs! They threw off my whole groove last week.
Anyway, there's not really a point to this post. In case you were wondering. Just wanted to write a little blurb about what we're up to today, and to say that I'm rejoicing that God made THIS day and wrote it in His day planner long ago. Nothing takes Him by surprise and for that, I'm very grateful.
Happy Tuesday, ya'll!

October 10, 2009

Photo of the Week

The Road Goes Ever On and On
Dugualla State Park, last weekend

Jason and I absolutely love this picture. There's something profound about it that we can't quite put our finger on. I had a hard time naming this Photo of the Week; Jason helped and between the two of us, we came up with several other possibilities:

Country Road, Lead Me Home
Endless Possibilities
How Many Roads Must a Boy Walk Down
But in the end, I chose the title you see above because its a Lord of the Rings reference and because I liked it the best. :)
We have such a goof-ball for a son. Not a day goes by that we don't remark on how exceedingly silly Caleb is. Not a day goes by he doesn't make us laugh. But sometimes, every once in a while, he also makes us stop and ponder. This picture is one such moment, and I'm so very thankful I got it on my camera.
Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

October 7, 2009

This is my real Wednesday life

And now for some never-before-seen photos of the office and living room! That's right! Be the first to view these treasures and partake of their beauty. But beware! The household's Mommy and Little Boy have been sick; these photos will not reflect the clean, idyllic setting the house usually enjoys (insert sarcastic laughter here).

Think Nicole keeps a perfectly clean house? Think again! Dear readers, I bring you:

My real Wednesday life
(click on the photos to enlarge them if you can't read the blurbs)

Yep, that's the state of my house right now! Clean? Nah. Lived in? Definitely.

Happy Wednesday!

October 4, 2009

Honest Scrap

My thanks to LeAnna over at Thoughts and Whatnots for including me in this meme.

I took an impromptu bloggie break last week. Not because I had nothing to say, but because I've had so much running through my mind, I wasn't sure how to go about writing it all down. I wanted to blog; I just didn't know how to begin. But thanks to LeAnna, I think this meme will be a good place to start. ;)

Now I'm supposed to tell you ten honest things about myself. Hence the name "Honest Scrap." Here goes:

1) I am an only child who grew up dreaming of siblings. I wanted brothers and sisters so bad, I invented six of them to play with in my backyard: William, Whitney, Luke, Audrey (me), Priscilla, Nathaniel, and baby Florence. In this imaginary world, we lived on a farm. William was away at college, Whitney was already married and lived on her husband's farm (are you seeing a theme here? Just wait. We'll discuss farms in #2), Luke and Nathaniel slept in the barn and Luke was my best friend. Priscilla and baby Florence spent most of their time in the house with our mother, while I worked in the fields with the boys.

What an over-active imagination I had as a child . . .

2) Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prarie books were my uttermost favorites growing up. I lost count how many times I've read them. As a result, I dreamed of living on a farm and growing up in the 1800s somewhere in the American Midwest. As a girl, I wore boots and long skirts as often as possible; my grandma even made me sunbonnets and petticoats. I still have a white petticoat she made me once, and I still wear it sometimes under my long denim skirt. Call me crazy, but I find it comfy. Like flannel sheets on a cold winter night. Ahem.

3) I rarely order anything off the menu. This used to drive Jason nuts. At fast food places, I almost always ask for something special, such as a #1 with no lettuce, tomato, or onion, please. At Taco Bell, it's a bean and cheese burrito with no onions, no red sauce, and extra cheese. Sometimes, I even order something not listed on the menu. Whenever I visit Starbucks I order a tall, iced Americano, decaf, with two Splenda. Pour it into a venti cup and fill it up with ice and water, please. :)

4) I would dearly love to see Paris some day. The Opera House, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Palace at Versailles. The list goes on. But I do have a list. And a dream. I just don't have the money.

5) Rock-climbing scares me. Seriously. My palms are already sweaty as I sit here typing the words "rock-climbing." I don't like heights. I don't like resting my weight on a mili-fraction of an inch of ledge while my body flails for footholds and handholds that I can't see. I tried to overcome my fear in college. Took a rock-climbing PE course. Didn't work. Half way through, found out I was pregnant with Caleb. Had the biggest grin on my face when I told the instructor my doctor said I couldn't climb any more. I couldn't risk falling and hurting the baby. Or, you know, myself. :)

6) I am a recovering World of Warcraft addict. It's been seven months since I last raided, farmed, 5-manned, or PVP-ed. On my honor. I haven't missed it too much, but Brewfest is killing me.

7) My infatuation with farms as a little girl evolved to include outdoors in general as I grew up. Edible plants, in particular. I became fasinated with the idea of living off the land, and educated myself on basic edible plant information. Based on those studies, one day I picked, dried, and ground up a bunch of rose petals into a kind of corse flour. Rose petals are edible, and I postulated that I could make pancakes out of said flour. Rose petal pancakes. That looks so much better on paper than in reality. In reality, I made myself sick and couldn't even sniff a rose for months after. You'd think I learned my lesson, but no. Later, I made myself sick again with fresh thyme, jelly, and cream cheese. Some people never learn.

8) I am running out of things to say. Just bein' honest. ;)

9) Growing up, I wanted to be married by 17 and have 8 children. Well, I married at 20 and now that I have a child, I think I may only want one more. Three, if I decide to live dangerously. Funny how experience can change your perspective.

10) I am known as Nicole to most, Cole to close friends, and Coley to a select few (mostly family members). My mom calls me Me-Me, and I call her the same thing. We don't know how this started, but it has stuck for years.

Well, whadda ya know? Thar's ten honest thangs about me. (Don't know where the accent came from . . . it's after midnight now, so maybe it comes with sleep deprivation). Night all and have yourselves a great Monday!