December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

Hey everyone! I hope y'all had a good Christmas! We did! We spent Christmas Eve at Jason's parents' house with the whole family + three dogs. :) See the stockings, hung with care?

(and bulging with presents???) There are 13 to be precise, including three for the doggies. The family is growing me thinks. :) There's a new one for Jim, my sister-in-law's fiancee, and one for their baby Peanut who'll join the family sometime in July.

Here's us girls in our Christmas pajamas. Me, Grandma (or GiGi as Caleb calls her), Kim (mom-in-law), and Helen (sis-in-law).

And here's the Neuhauser Clan's North Pole workshop . . .

Actually, it's Kim's craft room. But with 8 people bearing gifts from afar, where else were we going to put them??

Christmas morning was a lot of fun, too. Long, but good. :) Caleb woke us up at 6:00 am and the day just took off from there. I have more pics to post, hopefully this week, so y'all can share in the cuteness. :)

December 24, 2010

Please Christmas, Don't Be Late!

It's so hard waiting for Christmas . . .

. . . especially when you already know what you're getting. :)

(For those of you who asked, this is a water table :) Thanks Grandpa Nick!

And Caleb can't wait to open it.

In fact, he can't leave it alone.

"Is it Christmas yet???"

Almost, my little boy, almost.

December 23, 2010

Sleepy Christmas Thoughts

Motivation comes slowly when 7:00 am is pitch black outside and 8:00 am brings twilight. The sun doesn't rise until after 8:00 am around here and sets between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. These are dark December days. I find myself just as excited about the winter solstice as Christmas. I need more hours of daylight!

This morning Caleb and I walked into McDonalds around 7:45 am. Me, barely awake. Caleb, full of energy. As always. :) I was up wrapping presents until 11:00 last night. Caleb bounced into our bedroom at a quarter to six this morning.

Not enough sleep. Sooooo not enough sleep for this mommy.

So McDonald's it was. I was the only mom with child in tow. Around me sat groups of old men, drinking coffee and visiting together. The group closest to me talked about family, plans for Christmas Eve, and politics. Their conversations sounded pleasant and comfortable and I wanted to join them, if only to listen in properly.

Caleb tried to play outside, but it was cold, dark, and windy. He kept opening the door from the play area to the restaurant and saying "Come on, Mommy, come on!"

Nothing doing, kid. Sorry, but Mommy has absolutely NO desire to be out in the cold. Too tired. Too sleepy. Too wimpy.

Poor kiddo. He needs a playmate. Perhaps I should have asked Santa to bring one instead of new toys.

Anyway, we proceeded to Wal-Mart after that because I was trying to avoid the crowds by going early. I was successful, but Caleb obviously didn't get the memo that I was going for "easy" and "quick". After knocking down several boxes of votive candles, breaking a keychain, and putting a hole in a bag of rice, Caleb was confined to the cart. Against his will, of course, and amid many protestations. But hey, the mommy can only take so much.

My goal today was to get all my food shopping done for the week (and the rest of the Christmas shopping). I do NOT want to go near a store tomorrow. I might venture out on Sunday for the sales, but I'd really rather stay away from shops in general until then. Even in our small town, the crowds are cuh-ray-zee.

Thankfully, the presents my Dad ordered for us were ready for pick-up while we were at Wal-Mart. Caleb saw his big gift: it's a water table, and the box is enormous! He got the biggest smile on his face when he saw it. He held on to it all the way to the car, and when we got home, he began to chant "Open! Open! Open!"

Not till Christmas, buddy.

"No! No! No! Open!!!"

He tried scissors, he tried sitting on the box, but it's so big, he actually can't get it open by himself. Much to my satisfaction and his disappointment.

You gotta wait two more days, bud. Just two. Christmas is almost here.

Speaking of which, this kid is going to be absolutely spoiled on the 25th. I'm looking forward to the influx of new toys (especially since we won't have another one till his half-birthday in June), but still... this little boy is going to be in overdrive Christmas morning. And probably for the rest of the day. And maybe the next one, too.

I can't wait. :)

The present I'm most excited about is the Veggie Tales Pirate Ship I found on sale at It comes complete with the crew from The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, and includes Willery and Princess Eloise. Oh boy! Ye mechanical pirates beware! Ye be no match for Pirate Caleb and Captain Mommy. :)

I will attempt to get pictures up after Christmas and also post pics from the Lights of Christmas evening we spent with my mom and Harry at Stanwood.

If you are among those who usually receive a Christmas card from us, please know that our card will be late this year. I've focused a lot more on Christmas baking and holiday activities with Caleb this year, so the cards were put on the back burner. But that is my project for next week: trying to get them addressed and mailed.

Oh, and finding a new washer. Because ours died. And laundry mats are only fun for the first few hours. So next week I'll be card-mailing and washer-hunting. Craigslist, here I come!

Merry Christmas, my friends! May you be surrounded with family, laughter, and good food this Christmas, remembering the Baby who's birth we celebrate and the Man whom we love all the year through. :)

December 15, 2010

Writing When I Should Be in Bed...

Yawn. I really should be in bed. The over-achiever part of my brain is telling I should write this post, though. Or maybe it's God.

Today wasn't a bad day. Just long. Today Jason went back to work after a wonderful two week vacation. The house felt strange and quiet with just me and Caleb. The washer quit on me today, too. December must be a tough month for household appliances because the repair shop can't send someone out until Monday. Boo.

In the interest of sending my son to school in clean clothes, I went over to Jason's parents' house tonight to get a couple loads done. While the clothes washed, I watched NCIS on the TV and curled up on the couch with Willie (the family golden retriever). There was a fire in the wood stove, and their Christmas tree sparkled cheerfully in the corner. I had the living room all to myself. It was nice. :)

I know I haven't been around the blog much this fall. I think I signed up for too many things back in the summer, when I dreaded the coming winter months and thought the best way to combat the short days and wet weather would be to make myself as busy as possible.

Ha. I've been sick three times since September. Still fighting off this latest bug. And if my own scheduling choices weren't enough, parenting sure is. These last few months have challenged me and Jason as parents in ways we never imagined. God kicked "raising Caleb" into high gear and many days we feel like we're just holding on for dear life. But that's a whole 'nuther story, a much longer one and one I hope I can write soon.

All that to say, blogging has been low on the priority list. I don't know if it will stay there or not. I am re-evaluating, re-prioritizing, and re-thinking a lot of stuff right now and I'm not sure where blogging will fit in. This is not a good-bye post. It's just a here's-the-state-of-things post.

It is now most definitely bed time. If I don't post again by the 25th, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. :) We are teaching Caleb the Christmas story this year and as he says "Baby Jesus is coming!" That is certainly something to celebrate. :)

November 19, 2010

Autumn Around Our House

Hey gang! How is everyone? Planning your turkey dinners yet? Not me! :)

Christmas baking? Yes. Thanksgiving dinner? Nope! (Although I will undoubtably spend plenty of time in my mother-in-law's kitchen next Thursday ;)

Anyway . . .

I've wanted to write this post for a while (like a lot of other things in my life at the moment . . . ahem.) But I figure since Christmas officially starts next week, I'd better get on it before autumn is, well, over. But before I get into fall photos, a bit of randomness (because that's how I roll).

See the mocha frappuccino? (Ignore the stuff around it. Please.) See how much of this frappuccino is gone? That's exactly how much coffee I can drink in one sitting. That's exactly how much I can drink to achieve "awakeness" and yet not buzz like a bee for the rest of the day.

I've learned this through a lot of trial and error. And a lot of sleepless nights. Decaf is my friend. But decaf frapps are hard to find. And since I no longer have a coffee pot (which is a whole 'nuther story), coffee is getting pretty scarce around here.

Sad, no?


Dear Santa, I need a new coffee pot for Christmas. Or a truckload of decaf frappuccinos. Or how about a body that handles caffeine better?

And now for those fall photos . . . :)

Here's what autumn looks like in our house:

Decorations on the shelves . . .

. . . and the kitchen table. (See the yankee candle? I love my yankee candles. They're comforting and cozy and friendly and warm. Oh, and they smell good).

Happy pumpkins on the sill above the sink . . .

. . . and the little pilgrim and indian mice sharing a hat, probably waiting for the turkey to be done so they can eat!

Bright autumn colors in the bathroom . . .

. . . and a turkey who guards the toothbrushes from gremlins in the night!

Trees outside our Wal-Mart. Aren't they just gorgeous?

And, of course, with the darker, wetter days we're having, I get to entertain this little fellow . . .

. . . which isn't hard to do. He's quite entertaining all by himself!
So what does your Thanksgiving week look like? Any fun activities planned, other than eating amazing good food?

November 6, 2010

This Halloween Night

(I've been trying to write this post for several days now. Make that almost a week. But, as you will hear later, I don't have a whole lotta time these days. So even though most of you have put away your costumes and pulled out your turkey decorations, I'm still remembering Halloween tonight. For good reason. :)

The first set of trick-or-treaters knocked on our door while Caleb was in the bathroom with me, goin' potty. He got his pull-up on and careened to the top of the stairs just in time to see Jason drop candy into waiting bags.

"Hey, what's 'at???" he asked excitedly.

"It's Halloween," Jason explained.


"Yes. We give out candy on Halloween."

"Candy? Ha-ween?"

"People dress up for Halloween, too."

"Dress up?"

"They dress up and go trick-or-treating. Can you say trick-or-treat?"


"So, when people knock on our door tonight, we will give them candy."


Just about then, someone else rang the doorbell. Caleb crowded around Jason's legs, gaping at the kids in bright costumes as his daddy gave each of them a piece of candy. Well, Caleb though this was just about the bestest, craziest thing he'd ever seen. He danced around the living room singing "Ha-ween pah-ty! Ha-ween pah-ty! Dress up! Dress up!"

Every five minutes he'd run out the front door, hang on the porch railing, and search our dark street for signs of more trick-or-treaters.

This went on for over an hour. I finally convinced him that he didn't need to open our front door every other second, that the people would knock when they came. Instead, we watched from the living room window and when another set of kids came by, I let Caleb pass out the candy.

Let me tell you, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! He was so darn cute about the whole thing! His enthusiasm for this new discovery of Halloween was so sweet and so fun to watch!

Having kids really changes your perspective, dontcha know? Something as simple as dressing up and getting candy becomes magical and amazing to a little one just learning about the world, when we grown ups take it for granted, if we even bother to celebrate at all. But watching Caleb's joy and excitement sparks a new thrill inside me. Some people call it a second childhood. A second chance at being a kid again.

I think of it as an excuse to be silly and have some good, old-fashioned fun. :)

So next year, we definitely plan to buy Caleb a costume. We will carve pumpkins with Jason's family, and probably attend our church's harvest festival. Maybe I will dress up, too. And take lots of pictures. And simply enjoy my son as he enjoys the holiday. :)


Sunday night was precious and while I wanted to share it with you, I also wanted to write it down for me, so I wouldn't forget. Precious memories like these are all too easy to lose, and these days, I need all the sweet moments I can get. We've been going through a rough spot of training with our son these past few weeks. It's led to long days, and even longer nights; it's responsible in part for why I've been absent on The Inkwell lately. We've laughed, we've cried, we've cleaned up broken coffee pots, poop painting sessions, and sugar jars spilled all over the bed. We've talked and we've disciplined, but more than anything else, I think we've prayed.

Nothing like coming to the end of yourself to bring you to your knees. I have never felt more out of control, more helpless and ineffective as a parent, than I have these last few weeks. And that is exactly where God wants me to be right now. He's bringing some of my not-so-great qualities to the surface and working through them with me. I know He's behind all these issues and problems, using them to shape and teach me as much as He's shaping and teaching Caleb at the same time.

So if there are fewer blog posts to read in the coming days and weeks, it's not because I have nothing to say or because I don't love you guys anymore. :) I'm probably just trying to not pull my hair out or catching up on sleep.

I love you guys! If you get a chance, please comment and tell me what y'all did for Halloween? If you did nothing at all, tell me about a dream costume you would love to dress up in one day (mine is a renaissance dress with full sleeves and a medieval hat to match!).

October 14, 2010

When Life Gives You Rocks ...

. . . make a mud hole!

The mud hole was not intentional; I was actually trying to dig up the ground for some bulbs. But I didn't get very far. Our front yard is extraordinarily rocky; I figured this out yesterday as the shovel hit rock after rock after rock. Not the best place to plant bulbs. Not to mention the sheer amount of grunt work necessary to unearth all those rocks was a bit more than I bargained for. After only twenty minutes, I'd tweaked my back pretty good.

Sooooooo, I let someone else have a go at the hole.

He thought maybe some water would help.

And it did! A little water made the perfect mud hole.
And a certain someone thought this was just about the best thing ever. He played in his hole for a solid forty-five minutes and would've stayed out later if I'd let him. :)
Unfortunately, I'm not sure what to do with these now . . .

Planters of some sort are in order. But store-bought planters are expensive. Anyone have any ideas?

October 12, 2010

Slice of Life

Food shopping on Friday
(which is what we do every Friday)
A visit to the Toy Aisle at Wally World
((which we also do every Friday))
We have quite the routine. :)
But this picture? Not so routine.

Check out the cowboy hat and nerf sword.
Mixing our genres a bit, aren't we little boy?
Not that he cares.

Just look at that smile! :)
I may or may not have joined my son for some sword fighting right there in the store.
I may or may not have wielded a nerf ax.
And I may or may not have earned a few raised eyebrows from fellow shoppers who passed by.
I'll never tell. :)
But I will tell you this. The nerf sword went home with us.
Some things you just can't fight. Cuteness is one of them.
But the cuteness didn't stop at Wal-Mart.
Driving into the parking lot of our local produce market, we spotted a mountain of pumpkins.
Well, of course we had to explore!
(Between the two stores, we seem to have lost a pair of shoes. See those bare feet?)

And you should have seen the look on this little boy's face when I told him we could take a pumpkin home, too.

You'd think he'd won the lottery. :)

Ahh, sweet moments that make me smile.

So how are y'all doing these days? I know I haven't been around much. Are you enjoying fall, wherever you live? Savoring the colors and smells and seasonal foods? What moments in your week have made you smile?

September 26, 2010

I love community . . .

. . . wherever I find it. :)

Whether it's over tea,

paired with some delicious food

and shared with some sweet ladies from church . . .

Or whether it's found in an online game, fighting a shrieking, unhappy dragon,

with a group of good friends (many of whom I've never met in person) . . .

Sharing old jokes and thinking up new ones . . . making each other laugh . . . the comraderie that comes from shared accomplishment . . . long heart-to-heart conversations . . . creating memories that last . . . moments that make you smile . . .

God Himself knew how important community was when He said: "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen. 2:18) Ever since the beginning, He's seen to it that we don't fly solo.
I am very thankful for this.
Not just because I am a "people person", but because relationships matter. God uses them to teach us, shape us, bless us, and change us. Unlike anything else on the planet, relationships last. They will last an eternity. And they make all the difference as we journey on this earth.

September 23, 2010

Quiet Thoughts

. . . words that have challenged and encouraged me this week . . .

"Worshipping as Occasion Serves. We imagine we would be all right if a big crisis arose; but the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us. "If God gives the call, of course I will rise to the occasion." You will not unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop, unless you have been the real thing before God there. If you are not doing the thing that lies nearest, because God has engineered it, when the crisis comes instead of being revealed as fit, you will be revealed as unfit. Crises always reveal character."

-- Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

Thinking of the trials God has allowed into my life. Realizing I am not as "fit" as I thought. Asking Him to help me change.
I should be at MOPS this morning, but we've been sick all week. Missed bible study yesterday, too. In fact, the only scheduled thing we've stuck to is Caleb's pre-school. But it's been a restful week, sickies notwithstanding, a week full of World of Warcraft, movies, and books. A week of quiet quarantine at home, snuggling with my Bud. :)
How's your week been? Quiet? Busy? A happy balance of both?

September 17, 2010

My Week in Five Words

I am too tired to write an ordinary post tonight, so rather than ramble endlessly on about the doggie chew toy at my feet which has been de-squeaked (when we don't even have a dog) or the fact that I lose earplugs like people lose money in a casino, I present to you my Week in Five Words. ;)

My Week Was
  1. overcast
  2. exhausting
  3. surprising
  4. rewarding
  5. long
I am so very happy it is the weekend. We have lots of nothing planned. And it sounds perfect. :)

So how about you? What was your week like, in five words?

September 15, 2010

Miss P

I'm not sure I'm ready for this, the first day back to school. My hesitation is due in part to the separation anxiety Caleb's been dealing with all summer. But some of my hesitation is also due to the conversation I had with Caleb's new teacher yesterday.

Miss P called me on my cell phone to introduce herself. We were shopping at the Thrift Store. She sounded . . . young. Maybe a tad Valley Girl. I found myself wondering how much teaching experience she has. Hoping she has at least a little. Because I know, deep down in my inmost being, that Caleb will give her a run for her money. That's what he does. He stretches limits, patience, and expectations. Like most kids do, but in his own, special, unique way.

I just hope she can handle that.

I'm also a tad peeved at Miss P, because when I asked if I could hang around with Caleb in the classroom for his first day, she got very quiet on the other end of the phone.

"Oh . . . ummmmm . . . sorry, trying to make a teacher judgment call here. Well, I guess it would be ok if you, like, stayed for the first half hour."

Excuse me? Really? I didn't think such a simple request would be such a big deal. Last year, parents were invited and encouraged to join the class that first day. You know, so we could meet the teacher, the aids, find out what our kids would be doing and learning. All that jazz. So what's going on? Why do I suddenly feel like I'm trespassing on Miss P's goodwill? Doesn't she want parents to be involved?

Grrrrrrr. Sorry y'all. Mama Bear is out in full fur, with claws extended. I guess I was just so surprised by the teacher's response, it put me on the defensive. No one messes with my cub. :)

We leave for school in a few minutes. I really hope my first impression of Miss P was wrong, or at the least, incomplete. Time will tell, I suppose.

But if you hear about a bear mauling in the PNW tonight on the news, it wasn't me. Honest.

September 14, 2010

Of Volcanoes and Busy Weeks

Hello everyone! I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post! I tell you what, life has sorta swept me off my feet and most days, it's all I can to do to hang on! Jason is in the middle of working eleven straight days; I barely saw him over the weekend, and by the end of Monday, Caleb and I were getting pretty tired of just having each other for company. ;)

Thanks to my impromptu bloggie break, I feel behind. I have all sorts of pictures and stories and adventures I've wanted to share with y'all, but when I think about these backed up posts in my brain, I tell myself "That was so two weeks ago!"

But since it's 2 am and I find I can't sleep, let me tell you about Caleb and the Volcano, or, How I Surprised Myself. :)

Caleb's been into volcanoes lately. He's seen them in the cartoons he watches, and while he still struggles to pronounce "volcano" clearly (which is totally adorable), he understands the general idea: "Bal-Can-O! Boom! Hot! Hot! Hot!"

On a whim the other day, I decided to order the National Geographic video on volcanoes from Netflix. It's an older film, but I thought Caleb would like to see what real volcanoes look like. I also wondered how long a non-cartoon would hold his attention. Well, he surprised me! He sat through the first half of the movie totally absorbed in footage of lava floes and spectacular eruptions. "Whoa! Wow! Bol-Can-O! Fi-uh (for fire)! Hot! Hot!" I taught him a new word: lava. It comes out more like "wava" when he says it, though. Precious. :)

Inspired by his reaction, I decided to take volcanoes one step further and yesterday, we created our very own miniature volcano in Caleb's sandbox. You know the good old vinegar-and-baking-soda trick? Still works! And he loved it! We made eruption after eruption until the vinegar ran out and even then, he asked for "more bol-can-o, peas!" :)

Basking in our geological and scientific sucesses, a stray thought went through my mind:

"Don't look now, but you're home-schooling!"

That thought took me completely by surprise. I've been on the fence about home-schooling since we learned Caleb was speech delayed and would need special classes to help him catch up. Do I have what it takes to be both stay-at-home-mom AND teacher? Will I be able to fill the hours and teach him everything he needs to know? Will I even enjoy it?

That stray thought did a lot to calm my fears. Without realizing it, I had already started down that road. :) And if our fun with exploding mountains is any indication, it's going to be a pleasant and exciting journey! :)

Now if' you'll excuse me, I should really get back to bed. If the last two weeks have been busy, the next three days are going to be NUTS. Everything starts this week. Everything. Caleb's pre-school classes, the new Beth Moore study at church, the MOPS group I just joined, and the women's ministry at church that I'm helping to head-up this year. Crazy good fun, all of it! But I'm gonna need sleep to make it all work. :)

Night all! Thanks for bearing with my bloggie absences!

September 2, 2010

Maybe It's the Terrible Threes

Nothing like a morning at the park to make you feel like a horrible parent. I'm starting to hate parks. They're stressful experiences these days; I feel like I'm on constant alert. I can't relax, I can't talk to other moms because the moment I do, Caleb pulls something.

He throws rocks, accidentally or intentionally hitting another child. He pushes, he shoves, he hits. He tackles another little boy, thinking it's a game only to stare in confusion when the little boy starts crying.

I can't even begin to count how many times I've told Caleb this kind of behavior is wrong and unacceptable. I've put him on time-out, I've spanked him, I've talked to him. Still, the misbehavior continues.

I know his speech delay isn't helping. I have no idea how much of what I say actually computes for him. How much does he really understand? The problem is, he's bigger than most other three year olds. Which means he's stronger, too. Other moms and kids see him, believe him to be at least four, and then expect him to act and comprehend and play accordingly.

I'm so frustrated. Other kids watch and then avoid Caleb. I've even heard a few call him "a bad boy." Other moms watch and then think I am an incompetent mother. And who knows? Maybe they're right.

But the problem is, Caleb isn't a bad boy. He's sweet and loving and funny. He's the kind of boy that runs up to the ice cream truck and says "Ice Ceam, peas!" to the ice cream man. And once the man hands down his snowcone, Caleb will profusely and repeatedly thank him: "Thank welcome! Thank welcome! Thank welcome!"

He's the kind of little boy who hugs and snuggles stuffies and often falls asleep at night with them piled all around him on the bed.

He's the kind of little boy who calls tornados "tomatoes" and when he eats Cars fruit snacks, he'll stop and say "Yummy Police Cars!" because the purple Radiator Springs police car gummy is his favorite.

He's the little boy who who gives hugs and says good-bye to Daddy every morning and after every lunch hour, often watching Daddy through the living room window as he drives away. "Bye, Da-ee! Bye Da-ee!" he says, even after Daddy is long gone. Sometimes, if we're watering in the front yard, he'll look at Jason's parking spot and say "Where Da-ee go?" Then he'll answer his own question. "Da-ee at work!"

This is the kind of boy Caleb is. Unfortunately, at the park and at church, no one else sees that boy. I wish they did; I love my little man and trust me, I know how difficult and stubborn and challenging he can be. But that's not the complete picture. That's not who he is all the time.

But after the third time-out, after the second spanking, when he'd successfully dumped out all the soapy bubble solution at the MOPs kick-off meet & greet today, I'd had enough. I wasn't meeting and greeting; more like chasing and disciplining. So I gathered our things and we went home.

One good thing has come from all this, though. I've realized how totally inadequet I am without the help and support of Someone far greater. Only by His grace and providence will Caleb live to see four. Only by His mercy will I figure out this parenting thing.

Sorry for making this a venting post, y'all. We've been struggling all summer, and I haven't been brave enough to post about it until now. I believe we've made some progress and that Caleb's behavior is (slowly) improving. But I tell ya what, this stage of toddlerhood royally sucketh.