December 29, 2011

While I was driving . . .

On a normal, average day, a trip from Seattle/Tacoma Airport to our home on Whidbey usually takes two and a half hours. Today it took us four.

Of course, we did make a side trip to the Northgate Mall. And a stop off at the Smokey Point rest area. And then the drive-through at Panda Express for dinner. And then there was all the traffic in between those stops.

Apparently, one should not expect to drive quickly on a major freeway during rush hour. I'd forgotten that.

Driving through the big city was fun until the sun went down. We listened to music, called Daddy to ask him what he wanted for dinner. Caleb told me stories about his green Red Robin ballon we'd got at lunch. We both agreed on how much we missed Grammy and Grandpa (already). Then the sun went down. Everything got dark. Nothing fun to look at except tail lights. Nothing to do except count down the exit signs between where you are and where you want to be. 48. 47. 46.

Somewhere around Stop #2, I was ready to be home. Turned on loud keep-me-awake music. Chanted to myself "Raviolis and a nap! Raviolis and a nap!" (Inside joke: if you are not familiar with the work of comedian John Pinette, look him up on YouTube or Netflix. You'll thank me later.)

Chanting got old after a while, so somewhere between Stop #3 and home, I wrote a musical. A Christian 80's musical. Complete with off-the-shoulder sweaters, tube socks, and funky hair. Featuring the music of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Brian Duncan, and other such big 80's singers. Oh yeah. You should have seen me blocking the choreography in the car. Running lines with Caleb. It's gonna be a big hit on Broadway, let me tell you. I can see the neon lights from here.


Ok, so it sounded like a good idea at the time. While I was driving. Bored. In the dark.

Where does your mind wander to when you're driving?

December 28, 2011

Twas a few days after Christmas . . .


Bedding tumbles in the washer downstairs, Caleb giggles to the antics of a very curious monkey, and the back door opens halfway to usher in fresh rain-washed air.

Can I tell you how good it feels to just sit?

And maybe munch on a milk-chocolate-with-caramel-latte Ghirardelli square? Ooooo yeah.

There is entirely too much chocolate in this house. Hershey's kisses, See's Candy, Ghirardelli, MnMs. You name it and we probably have it in a variety of flavors. Heaven help us.

I blame Christmas. Darn candy-filled holiday. Halloween? Psshhh. We accumulated more candy this month than the last three Halloweens combined. And I have no idea what I am going to do with it all.

Eat it? Bake with it? Use it to stucco the walls?

In other news, we had a happy Christmas on Sunday. We opened presents here with my mom and step-dad (who are visiting from CA), and then spent a couple of hours with Jason's family at his parents' house, doing Christmas all over again. I felt like I'd run a marathon by the end of the day, and the living room still has not recovered.

But hanging with family is always merry. The Neuhauser men taught Harry how to play cribbage. I got to ooo and aaahh over my adorable nephew. Caleb ran around, sipping everyone's sodas and stealing cribbage pegs.

Oh the joys of the season, eh? :) Children bring such a spirit of curiosity and hilarity with them wherever they go. I sit and watch and laugh and count myself lucky that I get to be the audience for my son's antics. He's such a goof ball.

And now for a moment of randomness: my hands smell like celery. Probably has something to do with the chicken soup in the crockpot. I've decided I really like the smell of the celery. Bath and Body Works needs to come out with a celery fragrance. I think it'd be a big hit for them.

Anyway, that's about it for now. Mom and Harry are sightseeing down south today before heading back to Cali tomorrow. I still have presents to put away and homes to find for all this chocolate. If I don't post before the New Year, I hope you all have a fun, safe weekend, and a bright 2012!

December 6, 2011

In those days . . . along came a dinosaur

"In those days Caeser Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register."
Luke 2:1-3

Our own Joseph and Mary have been steadily traveling through the house as they make their way to Bethleham. And they've picked up an unexpected companion. See?

Forget about a star shining so bright. Yesterday Caleb decided the dinosaur would show them the way. And when we told Daddy about it last night, he said

"Well, the bible doesn't say how they got to Bethleham. Who knows? Maybe they had some help."


What has made you smile today?

December 2, 2011

His first prayer request...

I heard Caleb pray for the first time last night.

It was dinner time and I was in the kitchen.

(Dinner time is not my favorite part of the day)

Caleb was hounding me for food. Literally. Begging and whining and crying. Because I never feed him anything. Of course. Duh.

He'd already had snacks. Snacks (plural). As in more than one. He wasn't starving. But the tears and the whining had to stop. So I sent him to his room on time-out.

(Not my favorite part of the day. Have I mentioned that?)

I continued to cut vegetables for a salad while a pot of water boiled merrily on the stove. Then, from his bedroom down the hall, I heard:

"God? I want a banana. Pweese!"

It took a moment to register. I poked my head around the corner. Did I really just hear . . . ?

"Caleb, did you just ask God for a banana?"

Teary, snuffily sounds. "Uh-huh."

I started cracking up. Quietly at first. Then louder. I couldn't help it.

What's a girl to do?

Caleb heard me chuckling and came padding back to the kitchen.

"Oh sweet boy! You're in luck. God just changed Mommy's heart. You may have a banana."

How was I gonna say no after that?

Caleb happily sat down to munch his banana. I stirred the pot, still chuckling.

The banana was quickly gone, but then Caleb wanted crackers.

"No, Caleb. I'm making dinner. You need to wait."

"But but but, I want to ask God!"

Hey, it had worked for the banana. Why not try it again?

I paused to stifle more laughter. He wasn't going to give up easily, was he? I wanted to encourage his desire to pray, but at the same time let him know prayer was not some magical way of getting whatever you want.

"You can ask God for anything, sweetie, but that doesn't mean the answer will be yes."

"But," the tears were coming again, "but I want to change your heart!"

Oh my. Ooooohhhhhh my.

Well, he didn't get crackers. He sure prayed hard for them, but the Mommy's heart was unmoved. I sorta feel to blame. We've been asking God for snow all week. Apparently, Caleb wanted to see if "asking God" worked for other things too.

Jason and I had a good laugh when he got home. Then I called my mom and we shared another good laugh.

It's just so precious to see a little boy learning about faith and how things work. It blesses my heart. Truly.

Merry Christmas, friends! Happy December 2nd!

December 1, 2011

In the Beginning

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning."
John 1:1

Happy December First, everyone! Caleb and I started our 24-day advent calendar this morning, and John 1:1 was the verse of the day. See our snowflake? Caleb put it in the mitten pocket and found three MnMs waiting for him as a reward. :) Guess who will be eagerly waiting by the calendar tomorrow morning?

Mary and Joseph also started their month-long trek through our house today. See the happy couple? They're hanging out on Caleb's jungle gym downstairs. Tomorrow we'll move them to Blue's Clue #2 on a nearby window sill.

Eventually, they'll make their way upstairs and on Christmas Eve, finally arrive at the stable!

What's with the Blue's Clues you ask? Well . . . it's one of Caleb's favorite shows and he's always on the lookout for clues. I figured the paw prints would be a good visual way for him to see where Mary and Joseph are going. Plus, he helped me tape them around the house this morning, mapping out a route and picking places for them to go each day. Including the freezer and the back porch. :) We had such a blast! Originally, I was going to do all the prep work myself, but I'm so glad he was part of the process.

Well, that's what we're up to today! What are you up to this December 1st?

November 23, 2011

The Day Willy Hurt His Foot


We've inherited a dog for the week.

Willy. Our dog-in-law. Whom Caleb loves dearly. (I do, too.). He's a sweetheart, and he and Caleb have been great pals for a long time. Caleb calls him "Wih-wee."

We took him hiking with us yesterday morning. We often borrow Willy for hiking.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until we brought him home. Next thing I know, there's a trail of blood leading up the stairs, down the stairs, and all through the den.

Oh my.

"Outside, Willy! Outside!" Ugh. Cleaning dog blood out of the carpet was so not on my To-Do list yesterday.

It's not like Caleb's out of school, we're having company over for Thanksgiving, and I have baking, cleaning, and shopping to do. Not at all. I have all the time in the world for things like bloody carpet cleaning sessions.

"Ok Willy, let me take a look." I was done being mad about the mess and had remembered that I do actually like this dog. I checked each of his paws, and sure enough, his back left paw was bleeding. He had partially sliced the pad.

That's when I knew the rest of my afternoon would not go according to plan.

"Kim? It's Nicole. I think I need to take Willy to the vet. No, no, he's fine. Just cut his paw. Not sure if he'll need stitches."

Most of the in-laws were already out of town for the holiday. Which meant I was now responsible for taking an 80 lb. golden retriever AND a 50 lb. four year old to the vet.

The visit went better than expected. In fact, it turned out to be a great learning experience for Caleb. He was very interested to see the "dog doctor" and to watch her take care of Willy. He only got worried when they tried to put a cone on Willy's head. Thanks to Pixar's movie "Up", the Cone of Shame just about cost us a tantrum. But I was able to convince Caleb it would help Willy and as soon as we got home, we took it off.

"The paw needs to stay bandaged. Make sure he doesn't chew on it. Make sure it stays dry. Tie a plastic bag around it when he goes outside. Give him these antibiotics twice a day."

Good grief! I had no idea having a dog could be so involved!

But Willy is a good doggie, and didn't chew on his foot.

"Kim? Willy's going to be ok. They wrapped his foot up and put him on antibiotics. But he needs to be watched. He can't go outside unless the foot is covered. Do you want John to bring him out to Bremerton when he comes? Or . . . "

Ok. I'll confess. I offered to keep Willy for the week. We love Willy-dog, and Caleb kept asking if he could stay.

Maybe I felt a teensy-bit guilty that the accident had happened on my watch.

Maybe it was seeing Caleb "take care" of Willy last night, propping his hurt foot up on a pillow and covering him up with a blanket.

Or maybe I just like having a dog in the house.

Whatever the reason, our dog-in-law is spending Thanksgiving with us.

And Jason and I are talking about getting a dog of our own. :)

November 21, 2011


I picked out Christmas cards today. As usual, I agonized over the design. (I do this every year). I'm a big fan of photo cards, so I also have to find the absolute perfect pictures to share. After all, ALL our friends and family will see them. Which ones do I choose? The one of me in the snow didn't make the cut. Neither did the picture of live crabs, freshly caught and not long for this earth.

What kind of person puts a picture of crabs on their Christmas card, anyway? Who even considers it?

Apparently I do. At least I caught myself at the last minute. No merry Christmas crab card this year. Sorry folks.

Between the pictures of our family and our personal greetings are the words "We are so very blessed."

That's what sold me on this specific design. More than anything, that's what I want to say to everyone in my address book. We are so very blessed.

Some days it doesn't feel like it. We've gone down a long road this year, and we're still walking.

I know I sorta left you guys hanging when we went to find out Caleb's diagnosis in October. He was diagnosed with PDD (pervasive developmental delay) which is on the Autism spectrum. They also strongly suspect he has ADHD, and have already warned us that he will probably need medication when he's older.

Getting a label was a relief in so many ways, but difficult in others. And I've begun to realize just how long this journey will be. I've spent a lot of days running, and many others hiding. But I am slowly finding my way.

So why do I say that we are very blessed?

Oh, for so many reasons!

For the little boy who comes into our room around 6:45am every day and asks "Is it morning time yet?"
For the new job Jason just started, which has answered many prayers for us.
For the perfect moments, when life is good and right and as it should be. Like our afternoon at the beach on Friday. 38 degrees and a breeze weren't enough to stop Caleb from playing barefoot in the sand. He's happiest on the beach, and watching him frolick like we did so often during the summer, was a perfectly happy moment.
For pillow fights and Halloween songs, both a part of our daily routine.
For a high-functioning autistic kid. Our struggles could be so different.
For church, which we have missed for months due to nursery challenges. We're attending once more, and it's wonderful.

Blessed, friends. Blessed. The Lord is helping me to see just how much. Maybe that sounds sappy and spiritual. But way down deep, that's how I feel.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

November 14, 2011



Full of bright November sunshine.

A wild, thrashing ocean, stirred to a frenzy after last night's storm.

Coffee with a friend who's been where I am.

Gentle, real conversations about the things nearest my heart. The fellowship that common experience brings is a healing balm. A gift.

Swinging my son on his indoor hammock swing. A new sensory toy to help us get through the winter.

Kicking leaves with Caleb in the front yard. He's very pleased with the whooshing sounds they make as he runs through them.

Talking with my in-laws and planning on-the-spot birthday celebrations for my father-in-law. (Secretly rejoicing that the whole family is going out to dinner and I no longer have to cook!)

Solid, sweet words from Psalms that speak to my heart; whispered promises from my soul's lover.

Hoping for a few minutes to blog and maybe watch an episode of Jericho later. :)

Loving the stories that I am a part of.

This is today.

November 11, 2011

Rainy Days and Rabbit Trails: Ye Be Warned

Hello? Heeellllloooo?
(dust flies everywhere(
Cough, cough, ackkk!
Where the heck is the light switch in here?
Oww! *loud banging sounds*
Tripped over the darn profile pic . . . finally! HERE's the light switch.
Wow, look. It's my blog. I can't believe it! The ol' girl's still here.
*stupid grin*
*clears throat*
I have many deep brain things to share with you all about my most recent bloggie absence. Brain things. Deep. Many. Lots going on here, lemme tell ya.
But they will have to simmer on the stove for another day. Because today I'm sick, so my brain isn't functioning normally AND because I have a rabbit trail I want to follow. Don't worry. You'll like it. I think.
I read this story today on Bing: The New Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Now, not that there's anything wrong with the original Seven Natural Wonders. Apparently, someone somewhere just wanted to make a new, updated list. But this one? Really??? First of all, nearly all of them are in southeast Asia. Two are from South America (The Amazon Rainforest I happen to agree with). Then one random pick from Africa that really isn't all that spectacular. That's it. Nothing from Europe, Australia, Russia, India, or North America.

After leaving an outraged comment on the Bing site (which was echoed by dozens of others from around the world), I got to thinking. What natural wonders would I choose, if it were up to me to make a "new" list?

(As I said, I'm sick. And tired of shopping on without money. That's only fun for so long. You know? So I'm afraid you're stuck with me and my natural wonders wondering.)

So here's a few I think should have made that list (with all my limited travel experience backing me up!):

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii (continuously erupting volcano)

Lake Baikal in Russia (largest/deepest freshwater lake in the world)

Dead Sea (lowest point on earth and 8 times more salty than the ocean)

Redwood National Forest (tallest trees on earth)

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland (oddly crystl-shaped rock formations on the coasts of both N. Ireland and Scotland). See? And hey! I've been there!

I'm the one in front. :)

So yeah. Those are my thoughts this sick and rainy day. What about you? Any natural wonders you'd want to see on the list? Let me know what you think!

And now I'm off to play Plants and Zombies with my ever-so-patient son. Talk at you later, friends!

October 2, 2011

Girl Surrounded

I find my house overrun with humans of the male persuasion tonight.

But Nicole, aren't you outnumbered like, all the time?

Why yes, yes I am.

But tonight especially so.

Besides the hubby and manchild, my brother-in-law is here, along with my husband's best friend who is visiting from California for a few days.

This house is Man-Central tonight. Computers linked and synchronized, the boys are waging a virtual war and merrily blowing each other up with a gusto that only comes from testosterone. Caleb is making the rounds, going from one computer to another, begging for "a turn." Apparently, he's excited about blowing things up, too.

And me? I lost myself in the bright world of Farmville for a while tonight. I had blackberries and red currants to harvest. :) I spent two wonderful social hours with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law this afternoon. Comforted a sick little boy this morning. He rather suddenly spiked a 102.1 fever earlier. Not sure why, but he seems to be feeling better now.

Mostly, I used this day as a Sabbath. Today was the first day in almost a week where I didn't have to be up early and on the road. Between meetings at church, appointments in Seattle, therapy sessions, and more church events, I've been out of the house by around 8:30 every morning. Today? I had nothing to do, nowhere to be. And I relished the lack of activity. This girl needed the rest.

Rest assured that I haven't forgotten how to write or how to log into Blogger. Many days I find I have so much on my mind, so many things I would like to write down and share, but not a spare moment in sight. That seems to be the norm around here these days. Spare moments are rare and must be used wisely.

(Gosh, that last sentence sounded like a fortune cookie.)

And now, for some good news:

Caleb's appointment in Seattle (the one we've been waiting six months for) went extremely well! The speech pathologist was super helpful and friendly and informative. He answered a lot of our questions and we now know that Caleb doesn't fit the classic definition of autism. There's a good chance he is still on the Spectrum, under a PDD label (Pervastive Developmental Delay), but there's an equally good chance that he has ADHD with a sensory disorder and behavior disorder. We are going back in two weeks to see a neurologist, and he will make an actual diagnosis at that appointment.

We came away praising God, because we understand a whole lot more about autism now, and about the markers Caleb has, and the markers that he lacks. It's complicated, but basically, Caleb doesn't "fit" anything neatly. Which is why the doctors have been puzzled and taken their time evaluating him. Now I feel we have a better grip on what's going on. And that understanding has brought a immeasurable amount of peace for both of us. :) So praise the Lord!

And now I find I must be going. :) My little man is hiding under a blanket, asking for dynamite (an online flash game. No, I don't allow my son to play with explosives. Often. ;). The older boys are talking about pizza, followed by a movie. Being the token girl and hostess of the house, I suppose I should go involve myself in these weighty decisions. Unless I want cereal for dinner. :)

Cereal or pizza? Hmmmmmm. That's a hard one.

Good night, friends!

September 19, 2011

An Autumn Monday Miscellany

His teacher met us in the hallway and led him away toward the coat rack. His little Cars backpack bobbed on his back as he left. His first day of school, today. He was so excited!

Part of me kinda wanted to cry. Part of me kinda wanted to dance for joy.

Summer's officially over now. This afternoon, while Caleb played with the hose in the front yard, I vaccuumed sand out of the trunk of my car. Momentos of the great summer we've had. First I unpacked the camping chairs and the Sports-brella. Then the beach toys and Caleb's floaty tiger. Water shoes. Random pieces of clothing. Empty water bottles. Books. When I finished, only piles of sand were left, gathered from a dozen different trips to the lake, and countless mornings spent at the beach.

The weather already seems to know that fall is here. The thermometer read 44 degrees a few days ago. The chilly air makes me crave oatmeal in the mornings. Hot coffee, too.

Mmmmm, I love this time of year. :)

And now, for a few Monday Miscellanys:

Miscellany #1:
I've been on a home decorating kick lately. Decided my bedroom needed a makeover. And I LOVE how it's turning out. :) New curtains, new decorative elements, little craft projects to spruce things up. Hello, color! I love you! Pictures coming soon . . .

Miscellany #2:
We have officially started listening to Christmas music. We're rocking Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Lost Christmas Eve in the car these days. Caleb's favorite track is #4. He asks for it, by number, over and over. And over. And over.

Miscellany #3:
A mason jar full of candy corn makes all the difference when you're potty-training. 'Nuff said. ;)

Happy Monday, y'all!

September 8, 2011

I'm Rocking My Baby

So I had planned to blog yesterday . . .

. . . about our trip to Seattle on Tuesday. About how we left the Autism Center with no satisfying answers. About the sweet time we spent as a family, being together and being happy, on a late summer's day in the big city.

But . . .

. . . the phone rang off the hook yesterday. A teacher who told me what I didn't want to hear. A friend who called to talk about tea and food and sewing projects. Alone time, with the Lord, on a trail overlooking mountains and forests and sea. Precious time spent in a coffee house with a dear friend, laughing and praying and learning and resting.

Today, I had planned to blog . . .

. . . about the ministry I recently joined at church. About the excitement and anticipation I feel to be a part of it. About lives and stories and our God who authors them all. Deep thoughts, sweet thoughts. Knowing He is always there.

But . . .

. . . we spent the morning at church for a ministry meeting. Caleb got stung by a yellow jacket in the backyard, and needed comforting and LOTS of kisses. I was inspiried to try something new for dinner, which made the meal take twice as long to prepare. Then, as I reached for the laptop later, thinking surely I had a moment now to write, my little boy snuggled up on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. What's a mommy to do? Snuggled him back, of course, and held him close until we were ready to carry him upstairs to bed.

"I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

So that is why I have not blogged yet. Savoring precious moments that I want to remember. Trusting God with the moments when I struggle. Drinking deeply the family times, the summer sunshine, the tender moments with my son. I don't want to miss a thing.

So please forgive a lack of proper posting this week. I've been, um, otherwise occupied. :)

September 5, 2011

Letters and Snakes

Seems I find all sorts of fun things on Amazon.

Caleb calls it "building words" which comes from Word World, one of his favorite shows. We spent about an hour with these the other day, spelling out words and learning to recognize the lower case letters. The letters are removeable, and the wooden plaques have a word on each side. The outline is already given, you just have to find which letter goes where. Like a puzzle. Anyway, we had a blast! Caleb already knows his alphabet, and I honestly think he could read right now, given a little guidance.

When we tired of letters, we did some drawing. Well, I mostly did the drawing. See how I incorporated the letters and words we were just learning? Sneaky, sneaky. ;) Caleb likes to dictate what I draw, although I did make him scribble his own happy faces and squiggly lines for a while.

I heart Melissa & Doug. LOVE their stuff. The end.
I also heart this little boy. :) A lot.

Even when he does really boyish things that freak Mommy out. Like this:

Yes, that is a snake.
See how happy he is with his snake? Not sure the snake is quite as excited...

Caleb asked if he could keep it in his bedroom.

Nosiree,noway, thankyouverymuch! Nosnakesinthehouse!

That's more or less what I said. ;)

But I couldn't deny the unutterably cute, 100% All Boy-ness of the situation, which is why I went for the camera. :)

Happy Monday all! I hope you're having a great Labor Day Weekend!

And could y'all pray for us tomorrow? We're headed back to Seattle for another visit to the Autism Center. We've been waiting months (try six) for this, and now we have three scheduled appointments in the next six weeks. Oy! But if you could pray for wisdom and answers, we'd surely appreciate it! Thank you!

September 4, 2011

Golden Sugary Goodness

I would like to introduce you all to the new love of my life:

Friends, meet Palm Sugar: the newest addition to my kitchen! :)

It's tan and sandy, it's brown and beautiful, it's Palm Sugar!

Ok, I'm done now. :)

Why is it my new best friend? Why, I'm so glad you asked!

Palm sugar is completely natural, harvested from palm tree blossoms. And (wait for it), it's safe for diabetics to have.

Yes, you read that right. A sugar that's actually safe. I've been researching sugar alternatives for the last couple of years, and synthetic substitutes aside, this is the best I've found to date.

Here's why: palm sugar breaks down slowly in the body, taking more time and less insulin to digest. It doesn't send your blood sugar levels sky-rocketing; it doesn't spike them at all, actually. You can put it in drinks, you can bake with it, you can pretty much use it the same way you would use regular white sugar. But with fewer calories (15 cal. per tsp.) and no sugar spike (palm sugar has a Glycemic Index of 32, while white sugar has one of 90).

Now, if you're relatively new to The Inkwell, you're probably scratching your head and thinking, "Gee, I didn't know she was diabetic!" Well technically, I'm not.

Short summary: I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Caleb (Long story there. Short version? It was no fun.) Ever since, I've been border-line diabetic, and struggled with sugary foods and most especially sugary drinks. I had to give up Jamba Juice, find sugar-free alternatives at Starbucks, and buy stock in Crystal Lite. Splenda lives in my cupboards full-time, always at the ready for coffee and tea.

Now, if you are nowhere near "new" to The Inkwell, you also know how much I love to bake. And what a soft spot I have for cookies, pastries, brownies, and ice cream. Sweet tooth? More like sweet teeth. Plural. Which doesn't work out well for a border-line diabetic.

Hence, the search for a sugar substitute. That's why I'm so excited about Palm Sugar. (And why I keep capitalizing it. ;) I found this particular brand on Amazon, and in addition to being a natural sugar, this brand is also organic. Another plus.

The big question I had when I ordered it, though? What did it taste like?

Well, guess what? It tastes like brown sugar. No joke. Maybe with a bit more molassess in the flavor. Or carmel. Yummmmmm.

And that's the real reason why I heart Palm Sugar. It's safe, it's natural, and it actually tastes good. The trifecta! And to prove it, I put it to the test in a batch of Amish Friendship Bread last weekend. Made the house smell like french toast while it was baking. Mmmmm. And the bread tasted great! Moist, fluffy, with a slightly richer flavor than usual. Win! Win! Win!

Ahem. I'll put my pom-poms down now.

My next adventure with Palm Sugar? I want to try some chocolate chip cookies. If Palm Sugar can handle those, I think it can handle anything. :)

August 31, 2011

I take my coffee VERY seriously

No lo toque nadie.

August 24, 2011


I chuckled at her expression.

"I told you I'd have to explain," I said.

On the prayer list I handed her were written two words: Caleb's Autism.

Only they weren't written under "Prayers." They were written under "Praises."


"I can't imagine what your life must be like," our Sunday School coordinator says. I confess I am a bit surprised by this statement: she's a mother of seven. I sorta figured if anyone understood, she would.

"Well," I mumble. "We have good days and bad days." I'm trying hard not to cry. Trying hard to be strong. The gray day mirrors the difficult news she just delievered: one of the Sunday school teachers doesn't want Caleb in her class because he won't sit down and color nicely with the rest of the boys and girls.

"Yeah, but your bad days must be really bad."

I nod. I'm confused, and I don't know what else to say, but I nod.

My life isn't all that bad, surely. Do we really engender that kind of pity from people? Caleb just isn't a sit-down-and-play-quietly kind of boy.


"What would you like to do today, Caleb?" I ask over Cocoa Pebbles and bananas.

"Hmmmm." He thinks about it, tapping one finger to his cheek in typical Caleb-fashion. "Go the airport and see Grammie and Grandpa's house?" He looks at me hopefully. I laugh.

"I wish we could. But not today, sweetie."

We play Chase instead. His favorite. I chase him, he chases me, and we usually end up on my bed playing hide-and-seek under the blankets. Or else he jumps on the bed, singing something about monkeys bumping their heads.

Singing is a new hobby for him.

On our way to Wendy's for dinner the other night, he started singing the theme song from Wonder Pets! Only he changed the words. I almost didn't notice.

"We're not too big, 'n we're not too tough, but when we work together, we get french fries! Yay, Mommy, Daddy, and Cabub!"

I laughed all the way to the drive-through.


After sitting on my table for four months, after a trip to California and back, after my mother sings its high praises, the magazine will be ignored no longer. I pick it up and start reading.

"Autism" is splashed across the cover. The causes, the treatments, the theories.

I don't really want to read it. Been putting it off (and off and off). But... something inside me insists. You need this. You need to face it.

The statistics in the article are staggering: 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism every year. And boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

I read stories about parents who are raising autistic children. And the more I read, the more I relate. Behavior issues, speech delays, sensory difficulties. I'm nodding my head as if the magazine can see me. This is my son, I realize, shocked. Everything they're describing in here? We've seen it. Lived it. To one degree or another.

My son's autistic.

I can't believe I'm even thinking it. But deep down, that statement rings true. And deeper still, very much to my surprise, I accept it.

I didn't even know I was fighting. Didn't catch the denial. But the reluctance, the hesitation, they have been there from the beginning. It feels good to be free of them.

The magazine does one other thing for me. It gives me perspective.


"So why is this listed under Praises?" my friend asks. She sips her coffee and waits.

I stare out the window at Starbucks, composing my answer. Why am I praising God for something that has routinely been under Prayers?

"Because I realized something this week. As hard as Caleb can be sometimes, as difficult as raising him is, things could be a lot worse. Some autistic children never talk, some of them are never able to function in normal society. Caleb's not that severe. Most likely, he won't have those problems. Our life could be vastly different, vastly more difficult. So I'm praising God that Caleb is who he is."

And I am. Truly. For the first time, I think I'm beginning to understand my son. And the more I do, the more thankful I am for this amazing, sweet, funny little boy who I get to wake up to each morning. We still have a long road ahead of us, but at least we are heading in the right direction. Step by step.

August 19, 2011

Making Hay

We made some hay today, friends. Yessiree.

We haven't had a lot of time for hay lately, even though there's been plenty of sun.

We were a little adventurous today. Instead of playing on the beach, we climbed rocks. Caleb risked life and limb forging trails across slippery cliffs above the ocean, and Mommy risked the same as she followed him in her definitely not-all-terrain sandles.

What can I say? Dangerous endeavors make for great mother-son bonding time. And today, we needed some of that.

Parts of the beach were fogged in when we arrived. But the sun took care of that.

About an hour later, Caleb looks around and says "Hey! Where'd all da froggy go?"

"The sun burned it away," I explain. He asks a lot of questions these days.

"Burned it away?" He ponders this as he goes back to the driftwood seesaw he's playing with.

Today was quiet. Restful. And dare I say it? Lazy.


Hard to believe that a mere month ago, this little boy was still in diapers. Now he sports Lightning McQueen and Perry the Platypus undies with great pride.

Thank you, Jesus! I never thought this day would come!


Potty-training is not for the faint-hearted. Or for those in a hurry. It's all about slow progress, small victories, and enormous amounts of candy. :) If you stop over to visit in the next week, look for the mason jars in my bathroom. You'll see what I mean.

And if you couldn't tell, I'm head-over-heels, over-the-moon excited to have my child out of diapers. Words cannot express.

We've done our best to make hay while the sun shines this summer.

In between surprise visits to Seattle for the Children's Hospital . . .

{Lake Washington, Seattle. Two weeks ago}

{A fun outing after a not-so-fun doctor's visit}

. . . and surprise weddings . . .

{Mr. and Mrs. James Smith}

{Helen's wedding last Friday}

. . . I guess you could say we've been busy. :) Making hay doesn't always mean sitting on a beach, though. Sometimes it means having surprise houseguests, who delight and bless you beyond what you could have ever expected. Sometimes it means adjusting your schedule as your husband begins to commute off-island for his job.

Lots been going on around here lately, friends. I'm sorry I've been away. I've missed the Inkwell, though I truly have needed the time.

How have y'all been? What stories have you lived this last month? Do tell, please. :)

July 24, 2011

Berries are a Girl's a Best Friend

Happy Sunday, all. It's a happy lazy day around here. The sun shines, the temperature is into the 70s, and we're all enjoying the fact that Jason is home and not at work. :)

Look what I've been up to today!

Mmmmmm, yummy strawberries! Fresh from a local farm (we bought them this morning.) And headed straight for my freezer.

See? Washed and drying on a cookie sheet.

Raspberries, already frozen. We bought some of those today, too. :) Berries make me happy.

Maybe it's the prarie girl in me, but I find it oh-so-satisfying to stock my larder (read: freezer) with the fresh foods found in our island community. Salmon. Crab. Blackberries. Locally grown produce. Mmmmmm! I'm lovin' it.

My friend Tabitha found a recipe for chocolate raspberry sauce in her canning cookbook, and I cannot wait to try it! Most of the raspberries I freeze today will be saved for that. The rest will wait for baking recipes and future smoothie concoctions. The farm we went to just opened their fields for U-Pick, so I'm hoping to make another trip out there in the next week or two. A girl can never have too many raspberries. :)

That's about it for now. I have zuchinni fritters to start frying for dinner. :) Hope you're each enjoying summer, wherever the season finds you. :) Happy lazy day to you!

July 18, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Hey Y'all! My friend Flower Mama over at Thoughts and Whatnots does a Monday Miscellany post most Mondays. I always enjoy reading it, so this week I thought I'd give it a try myself. :) Ready for some random? Oh good. Me too. Here goes.

#1: I name my appliances. And I talk to them. I lectured Martha the other night about her mood swings. She nearly burned dinner, you see. She has a nasty habit of over-cooking food when I least expect it. Ruined that last batch of bread I made. Maggie, the gal next door, isn't nearly so tempermental. She vexes easily, though, when Caleb leaves her door wide open. Makes extra work for her, trying to keep all our food cold.

#2: Our church's VBS starts tonight! If you missed all the adventures in Egypt last year, you can take a look here. Guess what the theme is for this year? The Wild West. Squee!!! Happy dance!!! As a girl, I dressed up like Laura Ingalls every chance I got. I still dream of hoop skirts and sun bonnets. (And still wear the petticoat my grandma sewed for me when I was about twelve.) Excited? Over the moon. :)

I am not, however, wearing a skirt to VBS this week. For practical reasons. The thrift store did provide me with some overalls, though. I have a red bandana and a cowgirl hat. Just need to add some pigtails. :)

#3: Caleb overheard me talking about the pool the other day, and decided he wanted to go swimming. He walked over the the hall closet (where we keep most of his clothes in a plastic dresser), and began calling for his swimming trunks.

"Swimming trunks, where are you? Where are you, swimming trunks?"

Utterly hilarious, that boy. He personifies everything. I have NO idea where he learned to do that. Ahem.

#4: Speaking of the manchild, he caught a baby snake the other day. I thought he was playing with a worm. Until he brought it into the house to show me. And in his excitement, dropped it on the kitchen floor. The black wriggly thing took off like a galloping horse, and this Mommy may or may not have screamed "Get it out of the house! Get it out of the house!" about a dozen times. Thankfully Daddy was on hand to save the day, and Caleb took his new friend back into the yard while Mommy hyperventilated. The end.

#5: I had to look up the word "miscellany" before writing this post. Tricky spelling, that one.

#6: We wore jackets to the beach this morning. In the middle of July. Oh, and I left butter in the trunk for two hours while we played and when we got home? It was still cold. Can't say I miss the heat of southern Ca. Summers up here are simply lovely.

And that concludes this edition of Monday Miscellany. There's dinner to be got, and VBS to dress for, so I shall bid you all adieu. Hope your week has started as pleasantly as mine!

July 17, 2011

Let Me

And now for something completely different. :) A song. A song that simply came to me while at women's retreat a few months ago. I can't truly say I wrote it. I think He did. He just shared it with me. And now I'm sharing it with you.

Let me have the pen,

Let me take your hand,

Let me lead you through the dance.

Let me write your life,

Let me have control,

Let me love on you a little bit more.

Let me, let me.

Let me take you on this adventure,

Let me author every chapter,

Let me take you where you never thought you'd go.

Let me show you joy,

Let me make you laugh,

Let me love on you a little bit more.

Let me, let me.

Let me lead. Let me have. Let me take.

Let us dance.

Let me write your happy ending.

Let me love on you a little bit more.

Just wanted to share a few of those "good things" God is doing in my life. It isn't all clouds and rain. :) Happy Sunday, y'all!

July 15, 2011

A Venting that Ends with Verses

Hey everyone. I'm back. Blogging to you today from my deck in the backyard. The sun isn't shining, exactly, but it's warm out. The manchild is creating a beach in his sand box by adding water from the hose. Actually, it just looks like a mud pit now.

And I'm grumpier than a hungry bear in spring. Just been one of those days, you know? Actually, it's been two of those days. In a row. The Mommy wants a nap, or a nanny, or maybe an all expenses-paid trip to Ohau for, like, a year. It's days like today (and yesterday) that I want to hollar out on Facebook: "Child for sale! Cheap!"

Don't laugh. I can hear you, you know. It's not funny. You try running around Wal-Mart for ten minutes, looking for a boy who decided to run off the moment your back was turned. Imagine searching the toy aisles, the pet section, and the flatscreen in Electronics where Tangled is playing. People see you and think you're a bad mom, but really, you're just panicked that someone has abducted him. Then, ten heart-pounding minutes later, you find him. In the pharmacy. With his four year old arm in the blood pressure testing machine. Big huge smile on his face. Pressing buttons and happy as a clam.

And that was just today.

I think I'm developing a tick in my left eye.

Funny? No. Definitely not. So please stop laughing.

There's a lot of new things going on with the Bud these days. Besides random escapades across Wal-Mart. Caleb is currently seeing a speech therapist once a week on Tuesday afternoons, and an occupational therapist on Wednesdays. I have calls in to two more specialists, for two very different issues, that will probably necessitate more doctor visits in our future, and perhaps even some dietary changes. Children's Hospital in Seattle is taking their sweet time getting Caleb in to see a speech pathologist; we probably won't get an appointment until September, even though we've been waiting since March. So the question of whether he is autistic continues to hang over our heads, unanswered and pending.

In the meantime, we deal on a daily basis with a boy who lacks a label, but struggles with obvious issues nonetheless.

We've discovered in the last month that Monster Boy has Sensory Processing Disorder (sometimes called Sensory Integration Disorder). He's hypo (or under)-sensative in the areas of oral, muscular, and touch-related senses, which means that he craves sensory imput much more than most of us. This need to touch and move (and yes, put things in his mouth) helps account for a lot of his behavior, and the occupational therapist has been helping us to understand these needs and find appropriate ways to meet them.

In some ways, I feel like we are getting to know our son all over again. We try different activities like scientists try experiments, to see which things help and which don't. The pool? Great calming activity. Hiking? Not so much. Trial and error. Good days and bad days. Hope and frustration. That's sorta my life right now.

The One Who Keeps Me Sane provided some precious verses this morning as I read through Psalm 66. He always knows just what to say. :)

"He has preserved our lives and kept our feeet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. . . we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." (Ps. 66:9-12)

Verse 5 says: "Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!"

And verse 20, which I really and truly needed to hear today: "Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!"

(Emphasis all mine)

God is doing good things, friends. I hope I have not discouraged you. "Life is pain," says Wesley in the Princess Bride. But "Fear not! for I have overcome the world," says our Prince, our Hope, and our Champion.

I hope to blog some more this weekend to share with you some of those good things God is doing. Jay works all weekend, though, so I can't promise a preponderance of posts. :) All I can promise is that I will do my best.

Happy Friday, y'all!