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Ho Ho Holidays & Lucky 13

The back-to-back holiday season came and went, and now we’re sitting well into 2013 – which I have declared as Lucky 13 (positive thinking, ya know)!

When last I posted, it was just before Halloween. So, I’ve got a lot to cover here, and the Nelson Gang has been buuuuuuusy!

Maddox dressed up as Spiderman for Hallows Eve. Hunter was an astronaut. We raced around our neighborhood with our good friends / neighbors, the Arbuckles, again this year. Hunter was ALL over it. He better understood what the night was all about…race around and beg for candy! Woo hoo! Maddox, on the other hand, didn’t really get it, but he wanted so desperately to keep up with the big kids. He just ran after them holding out his pumpkin bucket for the prize. The best part of the night (read embarrassing for the parents) was when Hunter asked one of our neighbors why their house was so messy! (OMG, what did he just say!?) Well…there’s something to say about honesty, right?

Next holiday on the docket? Thanksgiving. It was relatively quiet, as we only had the four of us and Grammy. But, not to be deterred from a small crowd, Eric decided this was the year to try a Turducken (sp?). Yes folks, that’s a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. And, yes, I said we only had three adults and the two boys here. But BOY, can you say YUM!? Check out the photos. Eric was so proud. And, yes…we still have some in the freezer.

The rest of 2012 was all the more exciting. We definitely had our fair share of interesting maladies. First it was hand, foot and mouth disease – NOT mad cow disease – hand, foot and mouth. I’d never heard of it before my sweet lil’ darlings suffered through it.

It’s just like chicken pox, a virus, so there’s really nothing you can do but let it run it’s course. And, it’s highly contagious among the six and under crowd. And, best of all, it was a really bad year for it here, apparently. Polka dots in all places imaginable, plus on the hands, feet and in the mouth, ears, etc. Hence the name. Mr. Maddox got it first and just when we thought Hunter was going to miss it, he had his own, albeit, milder version. Then, the really interesting part is that several weeks later when we’d forgotten all about it, the boys’ fingernails and toenails started falling off. Bizarro!

That malady ended, and then we began a delightful rendition of pass-the-intestinal bug. BOTH versions. Woohoo. What a fun time at the Nelsons! That went around a couple of times, including short bouts for me and Eric. All I can say is, thank God we got our flu shots!

For the past couple of weeks we’ve had various versions of sniffles, coughs and fevers. Mr. Maddox even decided this would be a perfect time to get in all four I-teeth at the same time. I swear I’ve never bleached more surfaces, washed more sheets (multiple times in a week) and soaked more babies in the bathtub. Good grief.

All I wanted for Christmas was a good night’s sleep! Just kidding (well…not really).

We DID get a wonderful surprise for Christmas. Nana and Papa Nelson came for a weeklong visit. Christmas was so exciting and crazy at our house this year…it was great for them to come and witness it firsthand. The boys got adequately spoiled from Santa, and all uncles and aunts and grandparents (greats, too)…it was ridiculous. Our house was pure chaos with new toys for days.

In addition to the Christmas madness, we had all kinds of fun during Nana and Papa’s visit. Deb helped me make 220 cinnamon rolls. 160 of them were for church, as it was our turn to bring the after-service snack. It was AWESOME. We used the convection oven at the church. So, just as the service ended, we brought out the pipin’ hot, gooey morsels. Everyone oowed and ahhed as they came around the corner and smelled the cinnamon. I’m sure we could have had our own Pavlov’s study right there. The rest of the cinnamon rolls were distributed to friends and neighbors. Oh, and of course, we all ate a few…plates of ’em ourselves! (Good thing we lost all that weight with the intestinal bugs!)  🙂

One day Nana and Papa accompanied us to the zoo, to see the brand new baby elephant, Lily. We also took a drive out to Newport with the boat. We had hoped to go crabbing, but the weather had been horrible on the coast for several days and we heard the good word from the locals that the crabbing wasn’t any good. So, we just did some shopping in the cute bayfront shops and then brought home some fresh oysters for Eric to cook up. We also took some of our previously caught fresh crab out of the freezer and Eric made crab cakes. Uhhhh yummy!

Later in the week, the clouds parted and we had a day of beautiful sunshine. Nana and Papa took the boys up to Silver Falls State Park for a hike. We also had an overnight visit from Aunt Layna and cousins Melanie and Kalyn. It was so fun to see them and the boys truly enjoyed all of the extra attention.

Nana and Papa ended their trip by heading up to Seattle to stay with Layna, Nadar and the girls for a couple of days before flying home to Iowa. No sooner had they pulled the car out of the driveway for Seattle, Hunter said, “So, I guess we’re gonna go to Nana and Papa’s house tomorrow, huh?” I asked him why he thought that was the plan and he said, “Cuz I miss them.” (aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, full head tilt) Likewise, Maddox kept pointing up the stairs and saying, “Nana? Papa?” randomly for a few days. Pure cute. (of course, I’m a little biased)

Now we’re well into the swing of 2013. Happy New Year, by the way. As I mentioned at the outset, I am determined that this is going to be a very lucky year…for us, for our families, for the world. We’ve just GOT to have some positivity to hold on to. Why not start within your own mind first. Right!?

In memory of all the tragedies our world had seen in the last month or so. Please accept this virtual hug from the Oregon Nelsons. We love you more than you’ll ever know. Please pass the peace and hugs on to the friends and family members you hold dear, wherever you are.

Bring on 2013! We’re ready for the LUCK! 🙂

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Our busy summer led right into fall. It started with a weeklong visit back to Iowa, and ended with Labor Day weekend. It was a fun time and a much-needed break. While we were there, Uncle Scott came out for a few days, too. So, the boys got to spend some fun time with both Nelson uncles. We visited the zoo, went to an Iowa State Cyclones tailgate party, and swam at a nearby lake. We spent a little quality time with Great Grandpa and Grandma Buechler and remembered to take the annual four generation photo. Nana gave Maddox his first haircut…he transformed from my curly headed baby to a little boy right in front of my eyes! It was a fun week. Most of all, the boys loved being spoiled by Nana and Papa and everyone enjoyed some laughs.

The rest of September and early October flew by. Between work and school there’s never a lack of items on the to do list. Eric’s vineyard held their annual “grape stomp” weekend. Teams of two competed to see who could stomp more grapes and fill their gallon jug. It was quite a hoot to watch as each team had their own strategy for success. Eric’s restaurant continues to stay busy and he’s trying to find time to focus on the strategic plan for the new place. He’s shown me the architectural renderings and it’s sure going to be a cool place! You’ll have to come out for a visit next summer to check it out.

I’m happy to say that the farmers market came to a close on September 29th. It was a rough season. So, not having to give up my Saturdays anymore is a real blessing. I’m currently writing the final report for the USDA grant I had obtained for the past two market seasons. I’m proud to report that despite the challenges of this last year, when comparing our actual stats to the goals I proposed (back in April 2010) we successfully achieved all but one. As Maddox sings quite often in celebration, “E-I-E-I-O!”

Speaking of that, since it’s now October, it’s time for the annual trip to the pumpkin patch. The boys had tons o’fun racing through haybale mazes, sliding down shoots, riding a zip line, taking a barrel train ride and munching on apple cider doughnuts. What a great annual event! (You may recall this is the place that we went last year to get our family photos taken. There’s amazing gardens, corn fields, goats, and pumpkins everywhere.

Enjoy the photos of our latest adventures. I’ll hope to get another post written shortly after the ghouls and goblins come out. Meanwhile, happy Halloween in advance to everyone. Dress warm and don’t forget the flashlight!

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Dog Days of Summer

It’s been at or near 100 degrees here for the past week. We don’t get many HOT days like this in Oregon. Maybe only one week every other year or so. I think it’s kind of nice…for a short period of time. But, we’ll take our 80s weather for most of the summer. We DO deserve it afterall. With 5-6 months of cloudy and drizzle. Followed by 2-3 months of rain. The green is lovely, but boy do we like it when summer finally arrives. And, you just can’t beat an Oregon summer day. Especially if you’re headed outside. Better yet to the beach!

We’ve had such a busy summer already. Lots of visitors have dropped by for a spell. First came Josh and Moira Vandermeer…good friends who used to live up in Summit County, Colorado. Moira worked at Starizon with Eric and I. They, too, have moved away from that area. But, like us, they get back for a visit every now and again. The V-clan were in Oregon visiting family, and we were lucky to have them over for dinner and reminiscing.

Next came my Uncle Tom and Aunt Diane who were on their way back home to Seattle. They stayed at Mom’s house for a few nights, and we enjoyed hearing about their adventures with my cousin Brian’s family down in California.

Then, on July 7th, Hunter turned four years old. Can you believe it? Us neither. Hunter decided this was the year for a Spider Man theme. And, since Eric and I both had to work the morning of his party (it being a Saturday), we took the easy way out and threw the kids party at the Silverton City Park. (Think built in jungle gym entertainment, less clean up, squealing kids…perfect party. Success.)

Hunter and his best buddy next door, Liam, joined the YMCA soccer club. Let’s just say not a lot of true “soccer” was played by Hunter…perhaps it’s just not his sport. He was much more interested in doing summersaults in the grass, watching birds, picking dandelions for me (“mommy…flowers”), etc. His uniform shirt really says it all…he picked the shirt that had the backwards 3 on it. And, he proceeded to live out the hilarity behind that choice for the month of July. Lots o’laughs.

In late July I finally gave in to Eric’s four-year hints and agreed to get a little fishing/crabbing boat. We bought a 14 foot 1967 Sears aluminum model. It’s pretty cute. Hunter decided we need to name it “Frenchy.” So, we hauled it for an overnight camping trip to the beach. It was the Nelson family’s official first camping trip, where we unveiled our 10-man tent (which we got for a wedding present six years ago!). After a comfortable experience in the spacious tent, we got up and took the boat on its maiden crabbing voyage. We put in on Alsea Bay in Waldport. I’ll admit a little anxiety was had – due to having both parents and both boys in a tiny soap dish. But…a few hours later. Awesome! We got 15 crab. And, for our first camping trip with a 4 year old and 15 month old, it went pretty well.

For our August adventures thusfar, we hooked up the boat again and headed east. My dad’s side of the family got together for a Kroupa family reunion – at least as many as could make it. We went to Wallowa Lake – which is right near the Idaho border. Can you say G O R G E O U S!? We rented a “resort house” (as described on the internet listing) so we could all stay in the same place. Well…”resort” leaves a lot to the imagination. But, it certainly was nice to have everyone together. There were about 20 of us – ranging in age from 9 months to…well…older (sorry Mom!). We spent three nights and four days hanging out and enjoying the sun. Some fished in the rivers, some fished in the lake, some swam in the lake, some played mini golf, some rode the tram to the top of the mountain, some picnicked, some played volleyball, some played horseshoes, ALL battled the mosquitoes. There were many laughs and memories shared of days gone by and lost loved ones. Grandma Madeleine and Grandpa Frank would have been proud…their spirit and love surrounded us.

Stacy, Robin and Madisyn followed us home from the lake. Driving across eastern and central Oregon the thermometer in the truck spiked at 105. Yikes! [Perhaps that hot weather followed us home, too!?] While Stacy and all were here, we must not have had enough time in the car on Monday. So, Tuesday morning we decided to drive further west to Newport beach. Eric, Stacy and Hunter went crabbing (caught 18!), while Robin, Madisyn, Mom, Maddox and I went to the aquarium. It was a fun, relaxing day. The nights thereafter were spent feasting on the fresh crab!

Despite the lengthy details of playing…Eric’s been busy this summer building up his new restaurant capabilities and training his inherited staff. There’s a lot of special events, small wine-paired dinners, medium-sized (50+) multi-course affairs, a catered wedding reception by the river, and lunches for Japanese businessmen. There’s also been a live TV segment touting the upcoming wine and food show at the Oregon State Fair (next Friday, August 24th). He also just hosted 60+ wine bloggers for a tour and dinner. One of them emailed him the next day saying that she had a “spirited discussion” about boullaibase with Julia Child on her TV show several years ago…and that Eric’s was “the best!”…she even requested the recipe, and says she’s going to include Eric in an upcoming story.

Ahh. My infamous chef hubby. SO proud. Perhaps he’ll win Top Chef or The Next Food Network Star yet! 🙂

Me? I’m enjoying my new responsibilities for Silverton Health. It’s fun “crunching numbers” and building charts, making presentations and sharing our patient feedback with staff, VPs and physicians. I also still oversee the farmers market for the organization. Although I’ll be happy when this market season is done (it’s my last hoorah). A few Fridays ago I canned the bounty of the garden by pickling cucumbers from a market vendor. Mom, a good friend (Cassie) from work and I made 90+ quarts of spicy dills, along with about 8 sweets. We also did 12 pints of dilly green beans. It was a long day, but the pickles make such great gifts!

Perhaps that’ll get YOU to consider a trip here…I’ll bribe you with a few quarts! 🙂

This past weekend, our good friends Matt, Kaylee and Madalyn came down from the Seattle area. Madalyn had a soccer tournament up in Portland this weekend. We enjoyed a nice dinner (crab!) on Thursday night. Then Friday morning, we met up with Mark Scott and his wife Patty for breakfast. They were heading through (from Bend, Oregon)…headed to the beach for their anniversary weekend. Mark is also a former Starizon connection. He’s also THE very reason Eric and I ended up here in Oregon…to come work for Wellspring.

Life is a continuous circle. Be sure to enjoy every turn! 🙂

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Spring is Sprung

Hard to believe it’s already the end of May. It seems like we just celebrated New Year’s…now it’s almost Summer Solstice! How does this happen? When I was a kid and “old people” would say that time flies so quickly, I (of course) thought they were crazy. Now I know what they mean…but nowadays I refer to them as “our age.” Yikes!

Over the course of the past several months, there’s been A LOT o’ changes in the Nelson household. Maddox turned 1 year old and got baptized. Nana and Papa, Uncle Scott and Aunt Cheryl, and Uncle Brad came to town. We went to Great Wolf Lodge. We took several nice hikes at Silver Falls State Park. And that was just the month of April. In May, we’ve been to the beach multiple times. Eric, Grammy Joan and I took a hot air balloon ride. Eric became the executive chef at Willamette Valley Vineyards. I expanded my job responsibilities at work. And I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting!

Life is always an adventure at our house…and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Enjoy all of these pictures. They’ll do a better job of sharing the story than my words could ever do. Besides, if I don’t hit “publish” soon, it could be Christmas time!

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January Fun

I know we’re well into February, but, I must back up the calendar a little.

We had a great visit in January from Uncle Brad. He came to play for a whole week. As it turns out, even though it’s winter in Oregon, we had really nice weather for most of his visit. Hunter and Maddox showed Uncle Brad all over town.

We went for a gorgeous 2+ mile hike at Silver Falls, and we stayed two nights on the Oregon coast. While we were there, Hunter, Brad and Eric took an afternoon for a crabbing adventure. They caught a bunch of crab, but none were big enough to keep. So, we ate fresh seafood from various restaurants in town.

When “the guys” were crabbing, Maddox and I went to the Marine Science Center nearby. We saw octopus, baracuda-like fish, starfish and other sea urchin. Check out the picture of Maddox standing beside the barcuda-like fish tank…looks like the bug-eyed guy wants to eat him! You’ll note the water in the fish tank is quite murky. That’s because we had just arrived after a few days worth of high seas and stormy weather. The tanks are fed directly from the Newport Bay, so you can see all the dirt that had been stirred up from the storm. Kinda cool.

While on the coast, we (of course) walked on the beach several times. Unexpectedly, we also encountered a group of young bull elk just about 100 yards from our condo entrance. (When you see the photos, you’ll think they’re stuffed elk in a taxidermy shop…or perhaps in a display at Cabela’s…it’s crazy!)

On our way home from the beach, we stopped at a water park in Salem. Maddox went “swimming” for the first time. It was very cute. He loved splashing in the water. Like his big brother, Maddox is a natural!

Brad also got to attend the 3rd Metal Chef challenge. Eric competed against his third employee-chef, with Apples as the secret ingredient. Brad, Mom and I helped the other 97 guests taste and vote to see who reined supreme. We ate Ice Apple Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Fondue en Delice, Seared Jumbo Scallop with Spiced Apple Leather, Red Delicious Sweet Potato Pancake and Caramelized Apple Dark Chocolate Ravioli to name a few dish components (I know…YUM!) As you might guess, Eric took a three-peat win! Woo hoo. Way to go, honey! 🙂

Brad also came with us to complete the foursome at Western dance class. Joan let him lead…sometimes…. And, Brad learned a few new moves alongside Eric and I.

It was very nice to have Brad out here. The boys loved spending time with him and it was a relaxing few days off for Eric and I.

Happy Valentines Day to you all. Hugs and sloppy baby kisses to you all. 🙂

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Holidays & Hello 2012

Wow. It’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone. As has the new year. I think I’ve almost got into the habit of writing 2012, though.

Ya know…when I was a kid, I used to think “old people” were crazy when they said that the years go by faster and faster. Now I know it’s true. I honestly believe those old people have brainwashed me…as I heard myself utter those words about years flying by to a coworker the other day. Darn those old people anyway! Funny too, how the concept of whose “old” changes to my convenience, too. But I digress. 🙂

Christmas was a fun time this year. Hunter really understood it (mostly). Although, Eric, Maddox and I waited and waited on Christmas morning for Hunter to come downstairs. When the clocks read 7:30 and no little eyeballs had peered around the corner, Eric said, “I can’t stand it! I’m waking him up!” He proceeded to get Hunter and carry him down the stairs, all the while telling him excitedly that Santa had come. Hunter sleepily acknowledged the additional presents under the tree and then reservedly agreed with Eric and I as we continued to state how “cool” it was and asking “aren’t you excited that Santa came?”

“Ummm hmmm,” agreed Hunter. Then he sweetly and softly said, “But, but…he didn’t take me with him.”

Ohhhhhhhh. Melt onto the floor…

I guess he must have thought that Santa was going to wake him and take him for a ride in the sleigh. 😦

Well, we quickly got Hunter interested in his stocking and all was right with the world again (thank goodness!). Both Maddox and Hunter were completely spoiled this year…we’ve got new toys coming out our ears, plus a number of Toys R Us gift cards to keep us busy for a while. What fun!

Meanwhile, Maddox has mastered the art of crawling, and seems to think it’s too boring. So, he’s already pulling himself up and wants us to help him walk everywhere. I envision him walking under his own power in the next month. Look out world!

With the winter season in full swing, we’re continually battling the cough and sniffles. It seems like my three Nelson boys are in a competition for mucus production. Sigh. We should own stock in Kleenex! Boy will it be nice to get everyone well again.

I hope you and yours had a happy, restful and joyous holiday season. Best wishes for an amazing 2012. Smile! 🙂

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From Boo to Gobble

Two holidays down. The biggie still to come. Christmas should be an exciting one this year, as Hunter is old enough now to better understand what’s going on. It’s going to be so fun! Plus, we can also convince (read bribe) Hunter to listen, use manners, etc. by claiming to have Santa on speed dial and/or to use the Elf on a Shelf to communicate his daily “goodness.” No doubt that Sir Elf was the brainchild of a parent of a 3 1/2 year old! Splendidly brilliant. 🙂

More to come about Christmas during a later post. Meanwhile, Nana and Papa came to Oregon for Turkey Day. We had a nice week-long visit. Too bad the weather was Oregon’s typical fall/winter glory … rain, wind, foggy most days, followed by one day of sunshine. The boys enjoyed spending time with Nana and Papa, and in turn they enjoyed spoiling the boys. It’s a wonderful circle of goodness!

Between a pie auction at church to a gun/knife show (attended by Eric and Darrell), to movie night, almond roca candy makin’ and countless delicious meals, much fun was had by all. There was also a trip to the park, hiking to see waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park, and a visit from Aunt Layna and Uncle Nader (who drove down from Seattle for a night). Family times and good laughs were a plenty.

Maddox showed off his two-teeth-only grin and discovered his shrill, screaming voice. He also encouraged many rounds of his all-time favorite game – peekaboo! It gets a laugh or gutteral giggle every time. Nana was in awe of the fact that he’s wearing some 12 month – and even 18 month clothes (he’s only 7 1/2 months mind you!). We’ve taken to calling him “the Ox” as we’re thinking he’s going to continue growing at his current rate of bigness.

Other big news!? Hunter finally decided that potty training would come to an end and he’d officially be a “big, big, big, big boy.” Hooray! The consideration of only having one butt in diapers brings so much joy I can hardly stand myself. Happy early Christmas to Eric and I. (I hope I’m not jynxing us!)

In thinking back to the last post, I know it was right before Halloween, so I’m including a shot of the boys on Halloween night. The next weekend the four of us headed over to eastern Oregon (Ontario) to meet up with Uncle Stacy, Aunt Robin and new Cousin Madisyn. We exchanged Grammy Joan for a few boxes of her famous spicy dill pickles. Good deal! 🙂

It’s nice to have her home and get the boys’ school schedule all back to “normal” – Hunter four days, Maddox Monday and Tuesday, then home with Grammy on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a long two months without her here.

Well, Happy Halloween and Thanksgiving. Best wishes for a festive Christmas and New Year’s. Hugs, and much love to you all as this year comes to a close. If we saw you this year, we miss you…and if we didn’t see you, well, we miss you even more! 🙂

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