Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Co-sleeping, summer style

During our heat wave Don has been sleeping in the cool of the basement. Nick has enjoyed his new-found space in our bed:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Practicing for our summer vacation...

It's been SO HOT here that last night the entire family ended up in our little pool : ) Nick did wonderfully in his floatie, until he climbed out and ended up in the bottom of the pool. Dad, ever vigillant, scooped him out before you could say "gasp!" and after a little crying, Nick wanted back in the pool! So, I've learned that I won't be able to plop him in his floatie at Heather's house and then go somewhere else and relax : )
The heat wave is supposed to continue until we leave for California. I'm so thankful our van has air conditioning!

Monday, July 27, 2009

This MIGHT be why...

Nathan chose Alaska over California...

Click on the picture to see it larger...this small size really doesn't do the area justice.

Buoy Tending in Alaska

Here is a video of the cutter that Nathan will be working on in Alaska. Those buoys weigh almost 20,000 pounds! You would definitely want to keep your wits about you when you're working with them...

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I just talked to an exuberant Nathan! I hadn't talked to him for a couple of days, but he phoned tonight to tell me he just had the best Saturday yet in Virginia. He and 5 shipmates spent the day at Busch Gardens. He said he went on every roller coaster in the front seat (which is a big accomplishment as he used to be a roller coaster wuss) and the best part was that he got in for free! Every military member gets one free admission per calendar year and since this was Nathan's first time, he didn't have to pay!

Back in the saddle

Sorry for my long absence! Let's see...last time I blogged I believe I was getting ready to visit Don's parents, Don and Waneta, in Merritt. We left Thursday morning a little before 9 and drove straight through. We were lucky to have the DVD player, which entertained the girls, and to have Nick take his morning nap! The drive was just a little over two hours and we arrived to some pretty hot temperatures! We unloaded the car with all of Nick's paraphenalia and quickly babyproofed their upstairs.

I did take lots of pictures at Merritt, some of them very cute, but my SD card somehow broke and I am unable to get any of the pictures off of it. I was so disappointed! While we were there, the girls got a ride on Grandpa's quad, we went on lots of walks, Patience got to ride a horse, and we had a lovely visit to the water park in town. We got to visit with Jack and Katie and cook pizza on the barbeque.

We left Saturday around 2 and arrived home at 4. I started getting ready for the arrival of my parents the next day. Fortunately, Don had done the grocery shopping so all I had to do was a little tidying and food prep.

Mom and Lee arrived Sunday afternoon and we've just had a lovely week with them. On Sunday we celebrated Lee's birthday with a filet mignon barbeque (yum) and then took them to Minter Gardens on Monday. We even splurged and got a babysitter so we had to take only Nick with us! The girls had a much better time with Cassie than they would have at Minter Gardens (and we had a much better time without offense). See Mom and Lee's blog for their post on the gardens : )

Other than that one outing, we pretty much stuck close to home, occasionally taking the girls to play in the sandbox at Krause's or going into Langley to run errands. Now that I think about it, it must have been pretty boring for Mom and Lee! But they're troopers and easy keepers : ) This morning they headed off to Whistler. They'll spend the weekend there and then start their mulitple-day trek south to Moss Beach.

It's really strange to not have any of the older kids at home! We've heard from Sean by phone several times, and the last time he called he sounded really homesick. So I sent him a box of chocolate chip cookies. Dylan, on the other hand, appears to be having the time of his life and I don't think he's feeling one iota of homesickness. He says this two weeks has flown by.

On the USCG front, Nathan found out that he's going to be stationed in Cordova, Alaska after his Boatswain's Mate training is done. It's a remote fishing village that's only accessible by ferry or airplane! I told him this is the perfect time in his life to have such an adventure...eventually he'll have a wife and kids to consider and might not want to be at such a remote location. But for now, he'll be working on a buoy tender...out at sea for two weeks, and then back in port for two weeks. He's really looking forward to finally start real coast guard work!

I am watching my friend's little boy this week while she works, so my workload will be slightly increased. And then on the weekend I'll be packing and getting ready for my roadtrip to California August 3 to 15.

So, you really haven't missed much during my hiatus : )


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I wan't quick enough. Nick got stuck under the highchair so I ran to get my camera so I could get a shot of it (I'm pretty sure I have similar shots of the girls) but when I got back with the camera he had freed himself and decided to come and get the camera. This picture is blurry because he was in super-fast crawl motion...

Getting braver!

Here is Nick testing, with some trepidation, the play value of his pool. He's decided it is fun as long as he can sit outside the pool near his mommy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Passports are here!

Wow! Just two (maybe 3?) weeks ago I decided to get the kids' passports in preparation for our upcoming trip to California, and they've already come in today's mail! Jordyn is the perfect passport model! No pesky smile to worry about... I actually think she looks like a British home child in this shot.

So now we're all passported and able to cross the border whenever we need to stock up on Edaleen Dairy ice cream!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Livin' the High Life

I found this gem on Don's camera. This is the girls enjoying the high life on their way to Disneyland this past March. Does it get any better than this? Watching a movie they hadn't yet seen, drinking pop, eating snacks, and flying toward the happiest place on earth! And I was worried the Littles were getting the short end of the stick...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sleeping outside

Brave Don slept in the tent with the girls last night! He said it would have been perfect if our neighbor hadn't been having a party (outside, of course!) until 2 a.m. As you can see, the girls were having a great time...

Nathan, notice Patience's Sharkie?

Portrait of summer

I saw Jordyn yesterday afternoon with all the pleasures of summer: bathing suits, popsicles, swimming, water toys, sunshine...It doesn't get any better than this!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dylan's in France, safe and sound : )

Here is the message that was waiting for me in my inbox this morning:

Hi mom, its dylan. Please excuse these qbsurd typos...their keyboqrds qre simply outrqgeous in their design. Q qnd A hqve been reversed, so just replqce qll the qs zith As, qnd qlso the Zs zith W. Its reqlly qzkzqrd to type. I think I zould do better to use ,y lqptop rqther thqn their co,puter.The flight zqs long but liveqble. THere zqs only one screq,ing bqby in close proxi,ity of ,y seat, qnd i got tzo seqts to ,yself. Dqd zorked his usuql mqgic. Qnyzqys, proofreqding this it looks like i, speqking dutch or so,ething, qnd i better go sociqliwed zith ,ynez ho,estqy fq,ily. I hope you cqn understqnd loveloveloveDylqn

Let the adventure begin!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Backyard campout

Today we practiced camping! It all started around 4, when Don brought the new tent around and asked Patience and Jordyn if they wanted to help him set up the new tent. So of course both girls were jumping with excitement.

The new tent is large, which is good for a big family, and is not an "easy up." It says that 2 adults are required for setup, and they aren't kidding! I was so proud of Don and myself, though, as we managed to assemble the entire thing without getting in a fight! There is a front screened room and then the sleeping area, which has our new air bed in it.
Here is our new camping "home away from home:"

Storm thinks this is his new dog house.

Nick escapes! I thought the screened room would be a perfect outside playpen!

Nick decides that the grass is a fine playing area after all, even if it does feel a little icky.

The girls enjoy the view from the window.

After getting the tent set up, we had dinner out at the patio table. While I did dishes, Don and the girls built a campfire for marshmallows!

Nick, being all boy, decides he wants to work the stick!

Nick's first marshmallow.
Jordyn's last marshmallow (of the night).
The marshmallow roast necessitated a bath for everyone 5 and under. We were going to sleep in the tent tonight but decided tomorrow would be a better night! : )

Small world

What are the chances that my very good friends, Frank and Heather, would be visiting Williamsburg, Virgina during the 12 weeks that Nathan is in training only 5 miles away in Yorktown, Virginia? About a billion to one, in my estimation!

They'll be there next week and are going to finally meet Nathan! That's the only family member that hasn't been introduced in our two combined families. Nathan still won't have met their 19-year-old son, Nolan. That adventure is yet to come...

I'm jealous as all get out...I wish I could fly out there and join them for their pizza!

Au Revoir Dylan!

Here is a sleepy Dylan ready to head out to the airport at 5:30ish this morning! Photo compliments of Don; Cathi was "babysitting" Nick in our bed at that time : )

He should be all set: one bag containing Lucille's overflow stuff and gifts he's bringing for his hosts; one bag containing just his clothes/shoes/toiletries so he doesn't have to open the first bag at all while he spends his first week in Paris; and one backpack filled with munchies, important papers, and a laptop that Don graciously stayed up late last night readying for Dylan.

And he changed the name of his blog: Jeopardy in French. Let's hope there is no jeopardy during this trip! I've prayed for his safety, for smooth travels today, and for this to be a milestone summer in Dylan's journey to adulthood...that's all I can do...I'm leaving him in God's hands!

Au revior, my son! Blessings to you. Have a fantastic trip. Be good. I love you.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New "Mom Van!"

Last night Dylan took Patience to swim practice for us, which was great because Don was working offsite and it meant that I didn't have to take all the Littles! On the way there, he turned on the windshield wipers and KAPUT! They got all tangled up in each other and one wiper completely fell off.

We had problems with the wipers's apparently a problem with that model minivan because the wipers are so long and they have to weave in between each other perfectly or everything gets messed up. We spent a couple hundred dollars at the beginning of the year replacing part of the wipers, but our mechanic told us it might be a short-term fix, and that if we had to replace the engine part of the wipers, it would be much more expensive. Like almost $1000.

So, last night we had to decide whether we wanted to pour $1000 into an 11-year-old van or bite the bullet and upgrade. We decided it made more sense to upgrade : )

Don found a dealership in Maple Ridge who was running a trade-in special. They were willing to give us $3000 for our van despite any and all problems. I think it would have been difficult to sell given its mechanical woes. Don went to the dealership this morning and found this beauty: a 2005 Dodge Caravan with low km's and of course he was able to get a price that fit in our budget. And floor mats. And "clicker" keys.

So, I loaded up the Littles after lunch and drove over our new bridge to the dealership, just in time to sign all the papers and drive my new (to me) van home.

Our new van in the foreground, old van in the background.

The girls, thrilled at the DVD player they can see from the backseat!

The new van, happy at home...

Testing 1, 2, 3!

Nick gets a taste of playing with "big kid" toys in the playroom. He likes it!

Thank you, Lucille!

When Lucille went back to France, she had some clothes and shoes that she couldn't fit in her 2 suitcases (quite a testament to the amount of shopping she did here) so she left them at the Cutler's and asked Dylan to bring them to her. When he went down to Bellingham to pick them up, he found a present for us! It's a collage mostly filled with photos from our last dinner together, and we just love it! Thank you, French Daughter!

Morning cuddles are the best!

This morning Jordyn begged Daddy to cuddle with her for just a little while before heading out to his office. Who could resist?


Here is a glimpse of how Nick and I sleep most of the night : )

It was so nice to sleep past 6:30 this morning! But I'm wondering whose old, fat neck is in this picture?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dylan's France Blog

If you want to vicariously have a French holiday, you can follow Dylan's French adventure through his new blog (so new there aren't any posts yet!).

I told him that if he was diligent about posting, Don and I would turn his blog into a book so he will have a permanent momento from his trip.

Early Wednesday morning...

Nick's schedule is all out of whack. Yesterday he slept until 8 (yeah!) which meant he wasn't tired again until 11. He slept until 1:30, and then he wasn't tired again until 6:30. So, what do you do? Keep a tired, miserable, crying baby up until a reasonable bedtime? Well, apparently that's what we should have done!

He woke up this morning at 4:00, ready to start his day despite the fact that the sun hadn't even risen yet. I tried to get him to go back to sleep until 4:45, at which time I let Nick go over and visit with Daddy. He wouldn't go back to sleep on that side of the bed, either.

So, up we all got. We had our coffee and Nick had some breakfast. Then Don decided he may as well get a start on his work, so he headed out to his office. And then Nick decided he really was tired after all. Now Nick is napping, Don is working, I am blogging, and it's not yet 7:00. This is going to be an interesting day!

Don and I have an appointment at 2:00 to get Dylan's letter of consent notarized. I read on the web that it's a good idea for minors travelling abroad without their parents to carry a notarized letter saying they have their parents' permission to be there, so no one thinks they're running away : ) We also stuck in a paragraph giving Lucille's parents permission to make medical and legal decisions for Dylan while he's in France.

After that, Dylan should be good to go! He packed in a huge duffle bag, and it weighs exactly 50 pounds. Maybe we should take a few things out? I'd hate for him to get charged at the airport...

I'll write more later. Right now I think a little more coffee is in order...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dylan's To Do List

Don't you just feel so sorry for Dylan? This is his to do list just for this morning. There is more for the afternoon...

1. Put gas in van.

2. Buy bubblewrap.

3. Mail letter to Sean.

4. Deposit checks.

5. Withdraw US funds.

6. Buy traveller's insurance.

7. Pick up Lucille's stuff in Bellingham (she couldn't fit everything into her own she asked Dylan to bring this to her).

8. Buy ice cream at Edaleen's.

I am sooooo thankful that Dylan is driving. Otherwise all these tasks would fall on yours truly!

Monday, July 06, 2009

News from Virginia

Nathan just called me to say that he heard they were going to get "the list" of stations that are available this Friday!!! Needless to say, I cannot wait to talk to him and hear the options. I'll post after that conversation and let you know his top choices...and then we wait and hope...

Sean's mailing address

Poor Sean will be at his Quadra Gunnery course for 6 weeks!

If you can spare a few moments to drop him a line, I'm sure he'd appreciate hearing his name at mail call!

MS Murphy S
Gunnery TG2
HMCS Quadra
Comox BC V9M 8A1

Dylan's car

Today the Geisbrecht's brought over their 1990 Nissan Sentra for Dylan. I'm sure it's in great shape for a 20-year-old car, but it does need a little TLC: the upholstery, while clean, has a few holes, so seat covers might be in order; there are no stereo or speakers (maybe that's a good thing!) and the rear passenger door doesn't open easily...the lock sticks or something. But it runs well, and just passed AirCare for 2 years, so that's the important part. They filled the gas tank (a nice gesture) and insured it for today. Dylan is gone registering it right now, but will wait until he returns from France to actually buy insurance. He's a very happy camper to have his own "wheels" and not have to insult his self-image by driving a "mom van."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Picture of Nathan

I was perusing Quadra's website and found this picture of Nathan. It's from last summer when he was promoted to Petty Officer (he was so happy because that meant he was allowed to carry his cell phone around the base) and I think he looks just like my dad in this photo! You have to click on the photo to enlarge it before you can see him really well.

Seeing this does make me miss him. But nothing like last year when he was at boot camp.

First watermelon!

Yeah! It's finally watermelon season! Tonight we enjoyed watermelon for dessert, and Nick highly approved : )

It was a little messy, though...

Everyone enjoys the cherries!

Here are our happy hens stripping the cherries off a branch that Don has cut off of the cherry tree. He climbed into the tree with a chain saw and limbed the highes branches to make cherry picking easier : )

How girls are different than boys...

This morning when Patience and Jordyn wandered upstairs they wanted breakfast. I told them that since it was summer now we were going to eat cold cereal for breakfast because the weather was warm and I didn't want to be cooking three times a day. My boys would have jumped for joy to hear such an edict! The girls...not so much. They begged me to please make oatmeal or cream of wheat or scrambled eggs, or something. We ended up with cream of wheat : )

Last night the yard was looking pretty messy after a couple of days of working hard and playing hard. One of the problems was the towels everywhere. I sent Patience out with a laundry basket and told her to walk all around the yard and put the towels in the basket. She did, and then brought the basket inside. So far, this is exactly what the boys would have done. But here is where the story diverges: Patience, without instruction, took the basket into the laundry room and sorted the dark towels into one hamper and the light towels into another!

Busy Day!

Wow, it's a good thing it wasn't a holiday here yesterday...we wouldn't have been able to string 5 minutes together to do any celebrating!

The day started early. Don woke up at 5:00 so he could go work at Radnai's in the cool of the day. Dylan joined him at 8. He obviously doesn't mind the heat as much as losing sleep : ) He got home around 9:30, just aheah of his parents.
Don and Waneta drove down from Merritt to help us with our cherry problem! In about 90 minutes, Don Jr. and Sr. picked between 50-60 pounds. Don said he's never seen a crop like this in all his years.

Here is our Queen Anne cherry tree, burdened with a ton of fruit.

They stayed for lunch and visited for awhile, and then made their way home so they could begin "putting up" their cherries.

Waneta and Sean playing a quick game of Golf Rummy before lunch.

The happy hunter with just a portion of the cherries he picked.

Dylan came home from work while we were eating lunch, reporting that the farmer across the street (the Geisbrechts) were selling a Nissan Sentra for $700. Don flew out the door...didn't even finish his lunch, to check it out. Well, as of tomorrow Dylan will be the owner of a car! Yippee, he doesn't have to drive a "mom van" anymore, nor do I have to share my vehichle (well, except with Don). I'll post pics of the car tomorrow, when we finalize the sale.

I drove Sean to the airport right after lunch.

When I came home, I started to feel guilty that there were still so many cherries that we were simply not going to eat or use. So, out to the backyard we went and picked another few gallons worth. Don pitted them and I stewed them. I'll freeze these in ziploc bags because I used all my quart canning jars in last week's canning effort.

Then, Don and I loaded up Nick and JoJo and we headed to Fort Langley campground. We bought a great tent while Frank and Heather were here. We no longer have the travel trailer (thank you, Lord) but we know that we need to give the Littles camping experiences regardless of how old and busy we've become, so we wanted to check out a close campground that we go to for 1 night just to check out how hard it's going to be to tent camp with all these children. The campground is fantastic! They have a pool, they're right on the river, and they're very kid-oriented. The only bad thing was the mosquitos. During the 30 minutes we were there we all got bitten several times. So, we decided to have a "backyard campout" next weekend. After all, we have a fire pit, a pool, an Air Bed, and the comforts of toilets and showers. We'll let you know how that goes.

Dinner was very simple: Dylan barbequed smokies. We kind of had dinner at lunch time, complete with veggies and a salad, so I didn't feel too bad serving just smokies. It was really all we had time for!

And then it was bedtime! Good thing Don can do this:

Anchors Away!

Yesterday Sean left for Quadra for his 6-week Gunnery course.

He was excited to be going. We gave him some money so his 6 weeks could be more enjoyable by the purchase of the occasional ice cream, and he bought a phone card and called home last night! He said his trip (by plane) was good, and that so far all of his "teammates" were cool. The rest of the cadets pour in today, and the course officially starts tomorrow.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Pretty feet!

Wednesday night was spa night, apparently. The girls hijacked Nick's bath, kicking him out so they could have warmer water and more of it! They had the jets going and mounds of bubbles.

After shampoo and getting all rinsed off, we started on the nails. Here are four clean little feet, with freshly trimmed toenails and the first coat of gold polish. See Jordyn's finger pointing at the polished nails in case you missed them?

The fingernails got bright pink, and I have to say that I'm downright jealous of how long fingernail polish lasts on preschoolers. There are still no chips! They obviously don't do enough dishes!

New hair for summer adventures...

Dylan and Sean went to our little $5 haircut lady (and I do mean little...I don't think she's 5 feet tall), Nati, to get haircuts. Sean leaves for cadet camp tomorrow, so he needed to have a "regulation" cut. I suggested that he "pull a Nathan" and just get his head shaved but he decided he would go with the regular. Nathan used to leave for Quadra with a shaved head so he could go the entire 6+ weeks without a haircut. By the time he came back home his hair was just starting to get too long.

As you can see, Sean is feverishly getting ready to leave for camp : )

When Dylan first started getting a "fauxhawk," Nati told him he'd look great with a few highlights. I told Dylan that I would pay for them just this one time for his France trip, and that if he thought it was worth paying for it on a regular basis he was welcome to! Needless to say, he thinks his hair looks great and that the highlights are worth the money ($10 for the highlights on top of a $5 haircut).
What I love is the fact that I didn't have to drive anyone to Nati's. I got to stay home with three little kids and play in the pool, pass out popsicles, and other related activities!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Here is Heather, my friend since the 8th grade! We just realized while she and Frank were up here that we've known each other for 30 years! That's a long time. Especially since we're both so young!

The nice thing about being Heather's friend is that she is an easy keeper : ) We can go months without know how life can be when you're juggling 5 or 6 kids, but then we can pick up right where we left off. We have so much in common...important things like our faith and our sense of humor and just how much dessert constitutes a "portion." We lead parallel lives in so many ways. We both have sons who are the same age and are so alike that I'm pretty sure they were identical twins separated at birth. We laugh and cry over the joys and pains of parenting.

I just love her!

Heather is the type of friend who will say, "I'd love to put up a dozen quarts of cherries! I can't think of anything I'd rather do on my vacation!"

Here she is snuggling my girls Monday morning. As you can see, they feel right at home with her!

Another benefit: she comes with this great guy who patiently teaches (again and again) us how to play this great domino game, who tolerates all of our children to the point that they climb all over him (well, not Dylan and Sean), and has a great sense of humor and an easy personality.