On an Island by the Sea

We didn't have any definite plans of things we wanted to "do" while visiting Washington, except one: leave. :-) My friends, the Gregory family that we lived with for a month in 2009 after returning to Peace River from Arkansas, had moved to Comox, BC, later that same summer, and we had rarely seen them since. When I discovered how "close" we would be to the Island while visiting Logan (which, at nearly a 7-hour-one-way journey, was still not as close as my imagination originally thought when looking at a map), I convinced my mother and brother that a trip to the Island would be a great idea, contacted the Gregorys, and arranged an overnight stay. The best time for all the schedules involved seemed to be the first Sunday night of our visit.

Great! we thought. That will allow us to get a little sight-seeing in before we leave!

Poor Levi's cold had been leaving him pretty tired, and he had a dry cough that seemed almost perpetual at times. I didn't want to tire him out too much, and I didn't want to spread germs more than necessary, so our plans for the moment were constrained to driving around, walking around, or hiking. (On the plus side: Levi got pretty good at covering his mouth with his elbow with this cold!)

After a little bit of shopping for rain gear at Target (yes, SO touristy) and the health food store, Logan took us to the amazing Coho Cafe for supper. My mother's 60th birthday was the next day, and this ended up being our celebration for it, so I am glad it was memorable. WOW! I am salivating just thinking about the Thai Coconut Ginger Curry dish I had.

Unfortunately, we had had to wait for our table for an hour, and by the time we were seated it was already past the time Levi had been putting himself to bed (yes, you read that right) out of sheer exhaustion, so he spent the entire meal laying against me on my lap and whining that he wanted bed. I ate as quickly as I could and opted to have my companions bring dessert and my leftovers out with them and took the munchkin out to the van so he could rest...

I didn't actually eat my Caramel Apple Crisp for another week, as that night, my throat started getting scratchy, and I could feel the exhaustion of a body fighting an invasion coming over me. Logan started showing symptoms that night, too, despite having only been exposed the day before.

By the next morning, there was no mystery--I was sick. I wasn't up for walking, let alone hiking or leaving the house. Logan must have been feeling a little better than me, because he and Mom still went out to the grocery store (which we hadn't managed to hit the previous day) and did a few errands. I napped. Then napped again.

Levi was super-clingy the entire trip, only getting nominally better by the end when he was healthier and more comfortable with the surroundings. At this point, he pretty much had to be glued to my side, so although he was starting to feel a little better at this point, he just cuddled with me during my naps (and benefited from the rest, too.)

The next morning, we got up bright and super-early so we could assess the situation and see if we were well enough to go to the Island. Logan decided he was not. After all that sleep, I was feeling pretty good, and Levi was starting to have some good energy and be a little more back to his normal self. Mom and I decided to go and let Logan rest (and let his cats have a reprieve from Levi's attentions). We would contact the Gregorys on the way to warn them about the germ invasion, and if they would rather not risk it, we could just go do touristy things and head back. (We had hopes of seeing Craigdarroch Castle before heading back, either way.)

Turns out, it takes more than a few little germs to scare these folks. We had a wonderful time with them, and I am SO glad we made the effort to go. I was sad that my older boys couldn't be there to reconnect with their boys, since they were all pretty good friends once upon a time. Their youngest, Zeke, who is the same age as Jabin, reminded me of the latter so much--they were both only 2 when the Gregorys left, but I bet they would be best buddies if they got to hang out now.

After visiting Goose Spit (not exactly a white sandy beach, but it was still an ocean beach!) and the Marina, we had an awesome supper and introduced Mom to Settlers of Catan, stayed up way later than my sick body would have preferred, got to see Erin's new clinic (from the outside) and Jacob's new studio (from the inside), and just generally had fun.

Erin found a crab on the beach. Levi thought looking was close enough.

Looking at the boats at the marina.

The ocean view from Goose Spit in February.

We had thought of trying to get a tour of Craigdarroch Castle on the way home, but it turns out we didn't allow enough time before we left the Gregorys on Monday. So we drove straight through Victoria to the ferry, and put the Castle on our list of things to see next time we go.

Other than the near-perpetual rain on the drive back to Logan's, we had a great time. Thanks, Jake and Erin! So great to see you all again!

Destination: Washington

Wow, it is hard to believe that it has been nearly two weeks since my mom, Levi, and I left home. The reason I have not blogged about it before now should become obvious.

On Tuesday, the 3rd, we left PR in conditions that were cold (-26C), but clear. We had to get to Edmonton to pick up Levi's passport (which was supposed to be ready after 3 p.m.) before the passport office closed. It looked like we were on track for most of the day, but after a couple of potty breaks, we started wondering if we would actually make it on time. Thankfully, we stopped in front of Canada Place with 15 minutes to spare, and there was hardly any line up so I was able to pick it up quickly. After that, we only had to endure another hour of rush hour traffic before we were able to leave Edmonton.

Levi was feeling a little under the weather that day. And by "under the weather", I mean he didn't want to eat, and barely even woke up. As the day progressed, I became more and more concerned, and by the time we got to my uncle and aunt's that night had determined that if he had not perked up at all by morning, I would be taking him to Emergency to make sure he was okay, possibly delaying our trip by a day--or however long was necessary.

However, on Wednesday morning the Little Man was actually a little more lively and decided to eat, and since this looked a lot like the cold Noah had had the previous week, I figured he was fine to keep travelling.

Day 2: Awake, but mellow

We got started bright and early that day, since it was our longest leg--Google Maps said it was 9 1/2 hours without traffic (or weather) between Lacombe and Summerland, BC, where we would be staying with our friends, the Burdicks. When I realized that we could organize our route to see our dear friends Wes and Serena, who had moved from PR in 2013, I was ecstatic, and thrilled that their schedule allowed for it. The weather was not bad for most of the day, a little light snow here and there being the worst of it--until we actually got to the Okanagan Valley. Then, the forces of nature were unleashed and wet, slippery, fluffy snow obliterated any light trying to penetrate the gloom. So the worst weather we experienced that day was in the "nicest" climate zone.

"Welcome to Winterland!" Serena joked after we pulled into their driveway that night.

Since the last leg of our journey was only about six hours long, and Logan had alerted us to an appointment that meant he would not be home until after 4 p.m., so we had a leisurely breakfast with our hosts--as leisurely as possible with kids rushing around to get to school on time, and Wes having to get to a meeting. However, we sure enjoyed the extended visit with Serena. ("Girl time" is always great.)

We had an adventure as we were leaving. Their driveway is at a very steep slope down from the road to their parking pad. With all that new-fallen, wet snow, our first four (yes, FOUR) attempts only got us up about 2/3 of the way, Serena cheering us on the whole way. Finally, when it became obvious that the maximum distance potential had been reached and we could be there a while, she came and grabbed a shovel of sand from a pile by the shop. When I jumped out to help her, she said that they had just gotten the pile for circumstances such as this.

"Fifteen years in Peace River, and I never had to get spikes on my tires until we moved here," she said, laughing.

Jake wants to play with the shovels, too. Or whatever. :-)

Mission accomplished!

The weather was fine for driving that day. We opted for a route that took us through Stevens Pass over the last ridge of the Rockies into the little town where my brother's new house is, just east of Seattle. The sides of the road were covered in small piles of snow--evidence of a recent dump--and we even had snow floating down on us throughout our trip down Highway 2 over the mountains. That is, until we started descending the western side. Suddenly, gone was the snow. Rain fell in its stead. The trees were green and covered in lush blankets and strings of moss. It was almost as though, in cresting that ridge, we had jumped through a time portal from winter to a sub-tropical spring.

Leaving Canada that morning, I had wanted to stop for coffee at Tim Hortons, but since Summerland is so close to the border, we were crossing into the United States before we seemed to find one. That didn't seem to be a big deal, as a fairly decent night's sleep (and a morning nap in the van) sustained my energy. But now, on the western side of the mountains, we passed a little roadside coffee stand business billing itself as "World Famous Espresso". Well, whether it was or not, I decided I wanted to stop.

As it turned out, the site has a bit of "claim to fame" - it was the site of the filming of the 1986 movie "Harry and the Hendersons" (which I loved as a kid). The proprietor showed me a picture of what it looked like at the time (which reminded me of the movie even more), and said, "That's what we looked like at our worst."

I got permission from the lady to take a few photos of the little museum they had there. It was raining, so I didn't get great shots (I don't have protective gear for my camera and didn't want to get it too wet), but here are a few fun ones:

Ordering coffee from the "World Famous Espresso" Stand.

A coffee stand with personality...

Bigfoot Crossing

Poor Harry, all alone...

We reached Logan's without further ado late Thursday afternoon, and were very grateful to get our butts out of car seats and to have reached our destination.

But with another 10 days to go, the adventures were just beginning.

To be continued...


And so it starts...

I am very thankful to say that 2015 has started with some family time, some fun time, and some rest time for me.

December felt especially frantic, and I was very much looking forward to some "down time" over the last couple of weeks while Jason and the kids were on holidays. Unfortunately, that didn't really happen. I got the flu bug from Levi and had to have Jason take an extra day off of work to help with the kids, as I couldn't really function. However, as soon as I could move again, it felt like I was pushing through water the rest of the week to accomplish the things that needed to be done--cleaning, cooking for the family, last night of Hanukkah, a family dinner, working on my store, working on patterns, working on a worship service, working, working, working...

I had intended to have my "days off" the following week (the one just past), but life threw a few extra curves at me that precluded that. That's okay--life is like that. But it just meant that by Friday of this week, I was So I very firmly decided that this weekend would be a complete "off" weekend for me, especially as none of us had any responsibilities at church (which is a welcome breather).

Last Saturday, I was asked to photograph a sleigh ride at Mom and Mike's for a group whose other photographer had cancelled at the last minute. I was a little stressed out about it, as I have never taken pictures in a professional capacity before (other than for my pattern photos--and the only one to answer to there is me, so I can just keep snapping and tweaking until I am satisfied). Also, I have had a notoriously difficult time taking photos in SNOW that I was happy with. And thanks to the month of fog that we have experienced in the north, plus a little snow on Christmas Day, the trees were all crusted with an inch-thick layer of hoar frost. It was beautiful. And very, very white.

I was thankful that when I was photographing my "Honey Tree" flip-top mittens, my model--the very accomplished photographer Amanda Monette, for whom I made them--also gave me some tips about photographing in snow. So, for the first time ever, I shot the day almost exclusively in Manual mode and put into practice the tips she shared. Here are some of the results:

Drew's team, ready and waiting

Drew's team again

Drew driving the team

Mike and his team of Belgians

Mike and his girls

Trish and Ariel

Then, on New Year's Day, our family and the Magnussons also got a hayride at the Eastons'. Unfortunately, it was much colder, and the hoar frost had all disappeared during some warmer weather we had earlier in the week. That's okay--the kids hooked up a couple of sleds to the back of the sleigh and had fun riding, piling on top of each other, pushing each other off, and racing to catch up the entire time--they were plenty warm!

There was much less of this...

... than this...

... or this...

... or this!

Good times had by all--especially the adults watching and laughing!

The photographer gets shot!

And since I wasn't the only photographer there, I got to be in front of the lens at least once this time. :-)

Happy January, friends! I hope yours is off to a great start, too! How did you bring in the new year?


The world's best coffee ain't at Starbucks...

Yesterday morning, when I would normally have had my weekly meeting for the upcoming fund raiser for Faith Children Home, I had the world's most amazing coffee.

No, I wasn't being irresponsible--our weekly meeting was cancelled. Laverna still wanted to take Levi for the morning. So I had coffee at my friend Tammy's instead.

Tammy and her husband used to own a coffee bar. And they still have the espresso/cappuccino machine. And Tammy still, very obviously, knows how to use it.

The cool thing was, besides being the best cappuccino I had ever had, it was also the healthiest. With a dollop of coconut oil (that I couldn't taste at all) and sweetened with maple syrup, it made me want to go over for coffee every. Day.

And I normally don't really care for coffee. :-)

My mom also came (although she had tea instead of coffee), and we all three had a lovely visit about stuff that matters. In fact, it wasn't until a phone call that mom had been waiting for interrupted the conversation about 45 minutes in that we even got to the typical conversation starters of "so, what have you been up to lately?"

This weekend is Thanksgiving, and though I don't need a holiday to remind me, I am so thankful for good friends, and for this time to reset a little. Especially since I will be starting to migrate my store at tonight, so I am likely going to have at least another month or two of weeknights stuck at my desk instead of hanging out with my amazing husband.

I am also thankful for the husband that I wish I could be spending time with instead of my computer monitor. :-)

What are YOU thankful for today, friends? 

Adding to the Fun...

Last Saturday, while Jason and our two friends Brian and Darryl spent the entire day risking life and limb getting our addition from There to Here, the kids and I got to go on buggy rides.

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Brian's wife, daughter and grandson got to go with us. I know it doesn't really seem fair that we were having fun while the guys were working harder than they usually have to on their days off. However, it helped take all of our minds off of worrying that something might go wrong a little bit.

On a one-horse buggy.

The lovely lady driving the buggy is Irinel Agapow, and the noble steed is a young Halflinger she is training named Simmel (I think?). The buggy is an antique belonging to my step-dad, and we were invited on the whole adventure by my mom (who was holding the camera, therefore not pictured.)

Since it was really only a one-seater buggy, which we still managed to squeeze two adults and two children onto, the rest of us were entertaining ourselves while we waited for our turns. While he was waiting, Noah found a frog, which he decided needed to go into his pocket. This is him, pointing to the frog's location inside his pants:

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Later, Jenn and Laverna took the frog to their place, where they have a little aquarium for him to live in. We get to pick him up the next time we go. (Assuming he is still alive, I guess!)

As far as the men-folk, they made it home safely, racing the setting sun to get the addition off the trailer before dark. On the next two days, Brian graciously came back to help Jason in sucking the addition in next to the trailer and getting it levelled.

So, that means we now have our addition. Last Friday, Mike and his friend Jerry had brought up our deck, stairs, and fuel tank (the trailer is set up to run on diesel heating fuel), which are laying in random places in our yard (still). The addition is not "hooked up" yet, meaning no power, and we are climbing in and out on a stepladder, but AT LEAST IT'S HERE!!

The walls in there were circa-1970s dark faux-wood panel board, never painted, so this week in between the +30C heat wave and getting started schooling my younger two boys, I also managed to prime the porch. That's about as far as I got, though!

I am feeling the pressure of the impending and unknown date that it will get cold and miserable and white outside like an unknown but inevitable execution date. My head is constantly filled with all of things that I have yet to do, and knocking off the in-essentials that I simply won't have time for this year. I didn't get much canning done, since I rarely had time to go to the store to buy fruit, and didn't have much time to can, either! I managed to keep on top of the plentiful crop of peas I had, which is good, since last weekend the neighbour's horses got out and destroyed most of the vines. Fortunately, I will get a few seed peas for next year from what is still remaining. (The horses also ruined all but about 5 stalks of corn and ate quite a few of my sunflowers. It was a tearful moment for me when I discovered that.) Most of my garden is still in the ground, so as soon as it cools back down to fall weather I need to dig that up.

So, here are a few things still on my "before-the-snow-flies" To-Do list:

  • Finish the permanent chicken run we began in May
  • Winterize my chicken coop
  • By the first week of October, butcher about 12 Rhode Island Red roos
  • Finish painting the addition
  • Finish moving in to my house
  • Finish harvesting the garden
  • Clean up the holiday trailer we borrowed to live in while we were "in transition" this summer

I'm sure there's more that I have temporarily forgotten.

On Jason's To-Do list:

  • Skirt the trailer (huge job)
  • Hook up the addition
  • Attach the deck
  • Build new stairs, since we have the trailer blocked significantly higher than the previous owners did
  • Plus more...

However, on the more positive side:

At the end of August, I had only a few tomatoes on any of my plants--the plants were strong and lush from all the rain, but there had not been enough heat to produce fruit on many of them. I was disappointed, but since this is my first year growing tomatoes, I tried not to take it too personally. However, there are now tomatoes on nearly every plant I have. Even the lone rare strain of Oxheart that I received from my friend Doug F. produced one lonely, large, though misshapen fruit. I hope the seeds are fertile. (It looks like it grew around the clover, or something!)

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No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

As much as I enjoy travelling, and visiting, and adventuring, by the time we pulled into our yard at 11 p.m. last Friday, I was VERY ready to be home, and so were the boys.

However, we all enjoyed our week at Tony and Candace's. Jabin actually refers to their place as "Naomi's house"--you can tell who he sticks like glue to while we visit there. Something about them both being five--they get along like two peas in a pod.

And that's just what's so cool about the Internet...

I started this blog a little over two and a half years ago, because my friend Colleen inspired me to do so. A few months later, Colleen also suggested that I check out another cool blog she had found, hosted by Kelly. At the time, Kelly was a daily poster, and in her years of blogging she had gathered an amazing community of on-line friends, of which I somehow, over time, became a part. Despite the fact that Kelly is currently on an indefinite hiatus, many of the people I met at her place are now on my blog roll, and some have become on-line friends.

Aakanksha was one of those that I met at Kelly Well's. Hailing from Calcutta, she was a student at an Australian university when I met her, finishing up a degree in robotics engineering (so THAT wasn't intimidating at all!) We went from commenting on each other's comments on Kelly's (and Colleen's!) blogs, to commenting on each other's blogs, to chatting over Google Talk, to being on each other's Facebook friends, to sending each other lengthy e-mails about life, the universe, and everything. In the process, she moved to London to start a new job and got engaged. (I tried to get her to play hostess to my brother when he was over there, but that didn't work out. I'm kinda glad, actually--I would have been a little jealous if Logan got to meet her before I did!)

This past weekend, Aakanksha had to present a paper at a conference in Vancouver, B.C. Wouldn't it have been lovely if we weren't all "up in the air" about a move, so I could have driven out to meet her? 'Twas not to be, though.

However, imagine my surprise when she called me out of the blue on Saturday evening! I got to hear her lovely Calcuttan/Aussie/British/mixed-up accent for the first time, in her sweet voice. So. cool.

But that was not half as cool as the fact that after signing up for Skype on Monday, Aakanksha was my first Skype conversation today. Since she has a webcam, I got to see her talking to me in real time. And Mark, too. And they blew bubbles at me in celebration of our counter-offer being accepted on the house!

When we finished, I immediately called Jason and said, "Please order me a webcam!"

Free worldwide video-phone calls? There goes productivity!

I feel like I'm in Star Trek! :-)

I Should Have Known Better

I should have known that any friend of Colleen's would be wonderful. I should have been prepared. I should have known that two friends of hers would be twice as wonderful.

Yet, somehow, I was still caught by surprise.

Mindy and Cheryl showed up at my door at 10:30 last night, road-worn, but not too much--because somehow we managed to stay up talking until 1:30 a.m! I had never met them before, my only previous experience having been seeing their names on comments on Colleen's blog. But Colleen is one of those types of girls that when you know her, you would do anything for her, so when she asked me to host her friends as they were passing through, of course I said yes.

They are single, I married with children. But other than that, we have so many things in common--all musicians, Mindy is going into missions, all with a love for Jesus, and all friends of Colleen! Our conversation last night brought me some badly needed encouragement. We laughed, we shared, we imbibed hot beverages. And then we exchanged text messages at 1:30 a.m. while we were waiting for the caffeine to wear off! :-)

When they came last night, they were Colleen's friends. When they left this morning, they were my friends, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the love you give that binds us together in unity.

As if I needed more justification, this article on Dr. Mercola today gave even more of an excuse for me to hang on to my tea habit! From the article:

A four-year study has found that tea slows down brain-cell degeneration, and thereby keeps your mind sharp into old age.

Catechins, a natural compound in tea, protect brain cells from damaging protein build-up over the years, maintaining your brain's cognitive capability.

In addition, the caffeine in tea, unlike that in coffee, contains the natural protein theanine, which counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness.

Researchers studied the tea-drinking habits of over 2,500 Chinese aged 55 and older and gave them memory tests.

While two-thirds of the tea-drinkers maintained their memory test scores two years later, 35 percent of non-tea-drinkers had a decline in their memory test scores, which indicates cognitive decline.

Fast Food Friday

Fast Food Friday

Penne Pasta in Juniper Rosa Sauce - For when you need a fast food supper, but without the fast food!

You Guys! You Guys!

The coolest thing happened this week. My friend, Dawn--yes, the Dawn whose name keeps getting mentioned here--started a blog!!

Dawn is one of my dearest friends. She is always super-supportive, loving, encouraging, and is a constant portrait of someone living in submission to Christ (or at least trying to!) I can't begin to name the things I have learned from her. We have so much in common, including our parenting styles, our "weird" stand on the pagan trappings surrounding certain holidays, and our love of health and nutrition.

Dawn and her husband Michael just moved away from Sylvan Lake (where I'm from) this past summer, as he got his first teaching job in a teeny-tiny town in Saskatchewan. We haven't seen each other in person in way too long, but Dawn continues to be an amazing friend during this "long-distance relationship" time of our lives. So, that is why I am absolutely thrilled that she began her own blog--now we will have one more way to keep in touch. PLUS! Then you can get to know this amazing lady, too, if you so choose. Please pop on over there and welcome her to bloggy-land!

Happy Thursday, friends! I will hopefully have time to post more about my own adventures in a day or two. Noah's birthday is on Monday, and we are having his party Sunday, and I'm also super-busy with other stuff, so we'll see how it goes.

What are you doing this weekend?