Monday, October 26, 2020

Pumpkin Carving 2020

With Halloween on the horizon, we thought this weekend was the perfect time to carve our pumpkins and show a little holiday spirit. 

Sadly, due to the pandemic, the family-run pumpkin patch we have gone to for years and year and years isn't open this year. (Oh COVID, you just keep giving and giving, don't you??) Instead, we picked up pumpkins at a local grocery store and called it good.

In years past, we've had squirrels see our pumpkins as a buffet. My plan to thwart them was to keep the pumpkins in the basement until we were ready to carve them. A few days ago, Finn was nowhere to be seen... after a few moments of hunting, I found him gnawing on one of the pumpkins.
Animals = 1, Me = 0

Eric was the first to figure out his pumpkin design, and what a clever design he came up with! He went into our back yard, came back inside with some sticks, and went to work making arms for his pumpkin creations. How clever is he?!?! I didn't get any shots of him mid-creation, but do have a photo of his final results. 

Eric's pumpkin creation

I was a bit stumped on what I wanted my pumpkin's look and feel to be. I figured EVERYONE would have a mask-themed pumpkin, so didn't want to do that. I almost made a "VOTE" pumpkin, but then started to think that's what I did before the last election. Instead, I turned to my good ol' buddy Pinterest and swiped an idea from a post I saw there. When I saw the photo, I knew it was what I wanted to do ... carving and sewing all in one. How me! 

My creepy, yet crafty pumpkin

As the kids have grown up, they've taken on more and more ownership of their pumpkin designs and the actual creation. We still worry about potentially lost fingers, so closely watch them, but they are now old enough to do most/all of the work on their own. Spread you wings, little ones!! (PSA: Just keep the sharp knives pointed away from them. Please... for the love of all that's holy! We really don't want any pumpkin carving-related ER trips. Now or ever. But I digress....)

After much contemplation, Conor decided on a mad scientist design for his pumpkin. (Note: his pumpkin scientist's forehead "scar" is courtesy of Finn... please see the gnawing reference above.) Conor cleverly incorporated our Harry Potter glasses and mad scientist wig in his final design. 
Sketching out the design


Keep the sharp parts pointed away from you, bud!

The proud artist

The wig completes the creation

Annika's pumpkin was partially inspired by the Illuminati coupled with a cartoon character named Bob (I think). She incorporated a bit of herself in the design by including outlines of her hands right in the pumpkin. She worked incredibly hard on her pumpkin and completed the entire process on her own. Her creative process was "let's see how it goes", with very little preparatory sketching. She had a vision in her head and went for it. 

Scoop, scoop, scoop

The artist hard at work

Adding details

Ta da!!

Seeing everyone's final pumpkins was a lot of fun, but what really made the day special was hearing the kids reminisce about Halloweens gone by. The giggled about some of their earliest pumpkin-carving memories and the silly things they remember doing. There were countless "OH YEAH! I remember that" moments. 2020 has been a pretty odd year, to say the least, but having days like Sunday so full of family fun, tradition, and smiles made things feel much more normal.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lummi Island Weekend Getaway

Waaaaaay back in June, we were all set to spend the weekend on Lummi Island at one of the off-site houses owned by Willows Inn. Not too shabby, eh? 

What's that saying about "the best laid plans of mice and men"? Little did we know when we made the reservation that we'd wind up in a global pandemic that nixed just about every travel plan known to man... including our stay at the Beach House. Sigh...

We worked with the wonderful folks at Willows Inn and re-booked our stay for last weekend and were thrilled that we were able to keep it this time. Hurray!

The kids didn't have school on Friday due to a teacher in-service day and I have a crazy amount of PTO to burn, so took the day off. Once Eric was done with work. we packed up the car and headed north. Aside from some Friday evening rush hour slow downs, the drive was uneventful (thankfully).

We got checked in just before 6 PM and were settled in at the Beach House shortly thereafter.... just in time to take in the gorgeous purples and pinks of sunset. The house is mere feet from the beach (hence, it is called Beach House... duh) and the view could not have been better! We had nothing but water and islands and beach as far as the eye could see. Just to our left across the water was Orcas Island. The little island straight across the water from the house is a wildlife reserve and beyond that, a smattering of other San Juan islands.

The theme for the weekend was "unplug and relax" and we did just that. We took many walks along the beach, played games (Pass the Pigs, Taco vs. Burrito, Sorry, cribbage, and gin rummy). Annika watched the entire Back to the Future trilogy... but only after spending about an hour and a half organizing the house's toy/game closet. ("But Mom, this IS how I relax!"... uhh... ok!)

Eric reading while Annika watches "Back to the Future"

Conor found a pair of binoculars almost as soon as we set foot in the house. It was a rare moment for him not to have them around his neck or up to his face... just to see what was far away. He spotted a bald eagle almost immediately (good eye, Conor!). While walking on the beach on Saturday, I also saw a bald eagle (dubbed "Conor's eagle" because he first spotted it) and was able to capture some photos of it on Sunday. Win!
Conor's bald eagle

Conor and I had a great walk together on Saturday. We saw many beautiful rocks and shells, not to mention a variety of birds. He climbed rocks and helped me keep an eye out for orca whales ... sadly, we never saw any. 
My beach-walkin' buddy

Conor and the binoculars... weekend buddies

This was the first time all year (I think) that we've gone anywhere. It felt so good to get away from home and just be. Yes, we are together all of the time, but at home, we are together all of the time in real life. This weekend was being together while enjoying vacation mode. We didn't have a to-do list that was any longer than "enjoy the weekend". 

I'm thrilled that I thought to bring my camera along with us. The scenery was astounding and offered many, many, many photographic opportunities. I think one or two of the photos might be seen on display in our house fairly soon. Bonus!

View from our deck


Northbound view of the beach and Beach House

Beach dogs!

Taking in the view while reading under a cozy blanket

Beach to the south (and Orcas Island beyond)

I realized at some point during the weekend, we didn't hear a single car sound or siren the entire time we were at the Beach House. Instead, we were surrounded by sounds of crashing waves, birds, and a few boats. Really, there was nothing to complain about in terms of the soundtrack!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Week 1: DONE!

 The kids officially have the first week of the 2020-2021 school year under their belts. True, they attended school from home, but they were still "in" school!!

Conor says his first week of fifth grade was "a fun week that was a good learning experience." (Not sure if that means he's done now - haha!) He thinks his teacher (Ms. Adler) is just about the best thing ever, which isn't a surprise. We figured that out when Annika was in her class two years ago.

Annika has decided her first week of seventh grade was "eventful and tiring." She said the biggest plus of being back in school is seeing her school friends, even if it is only on the computer screen. We also found out last night that Annika will be in the higher of the two math classes offered to 7th graders - way to go, Sis!!

Both kids are holding out hope that they'll be able to attend school in person at some point during the school year. (Eric and I aren't holding our breath on that, but who knows??)

Because time is SO odd these days, it wasn't until right before bed that I remembered we had yet to take the kids' first day of school photos. So, please excuse the fact they look a bit tired and discombobulated in the shots below. They were. So was I. :)  I still need to take the photos of them wearing their "Class of" shirts... am hoping to get to that this weekend (assuming the wildfire smoke that is currently hovering in the area lifts enough to make breathing outside a bit more comfortable ... ahhh, 2020 - you have been an interesting year!)


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Finn Update

Finn has been with us for 2 1/2 weeks. Over that time, he has definitely settled in and made himself at home. He's a huge goofball and loves nothing more than snuggles, playing with Huck, and treats. 

He is also growing like crazy!! He's grown over an inch in the past week (yes, we mark the dogs' height on the door frame right along the kids' heights ... just quite a bit closer to the ground!)

Finn is still working on potty training, but considering his age and the fact he's only been here a few weeks, that isn't a surprise. We are making progress in that department, but have also had our fair share of "whoops" moments. Such is life with a puppy! His upper respiratory infection seems to be a thing of the past (hurray!!) and we suspect that fact has helped him sleep better at night ... which means Eric and I sleep better at night (double hurray!). He still snores a bit/makes piggy noises when he sleeps, but the sounds are so cute that we can't complain! 

What really tickles us is how Finn is a back sleeper. We've never had a dog that sleeps on its back like this! (Note: Finn's brother Grey sleeps on his back, too, per their foster mom in Texas! Must be genetic!) Often, we'll find both dogs snuggled up on a dog bed curled together like yin and yang.
Nap time
Nap Time

Back Sleeper Smiles

Over the past week or so, Finn has really started to hold his own when he plays with Huck. They race around the back yard taking turns chasing each other at top speed. I think Finn's growth spurt has helped him feel a bit more confident while playing/rough housing with Huck... their size difference isn't quite as dramatic as it was when Finn first came home. Huck loves to be chased by other dogs when playing with them, which makes me pretty sure his happiest day EVER was when Finn realized chasing Huck was part of the fun and took off after him. Finn still tires out faster than Huck (hey, his little legs have to work harder to keep up with long-legged Huck), and when that happens, Finn hunkers down under one of the bushes in the yard and nibbles on on a stick or pine cone. 

Big Dog, Little Dog

The kids are still completely enamored with being a two-dog family (except when Finn has one of his "whoops" moments ... then they are slightly less enthralled). More often than not, we'll find the kids snuggled up with one or both of the dogs, just as happy as they could be. 

Kid and Dog Pile

Finn has the craziest ears! They are often flipped inside out. Huck will sometimes have one ear that flips inside out, and we call it his "crazy ear". Finn has taken "crazy ear" to a new level, often having BOTH ears inside out. On occasion, we'll see his ears right-side-out and forward... quite cute and about as common as a Bigfoot sighting! ;)

Finn's Crazy Ears

Finn on the Hammock... with his "Not Crazy Ears" on display

Sleepy Pup

I have to say, I can't be more grateful to Eric for suggesting we look into adopting a friend for Huck/pandemic pup and to the Big Dog Rescue Project for connecting us with this sweet boy. Finn has been a wonderful addition to our family and upped our cuteness level to an all new high. 💓🐕

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Introducing Finn!

 Last Friday, the Olson clan grew by 4 more paws. Yup! We adopted a new puppy and he is wonderful. As a family, we thought Finley would be a great name for him, but wanted to have eyes on him before making the decision final. He's definitely a Finley (Finn for short) and has quickly worked his way to the center of our hearts. 

Before I go into the details of Friday, a little backstory:

A number of months ago, Eric turned to me (rather out of the blue) and said, "I'm surprised you haven't suggested getting a puppy with all of us home during the quarantine" My reply was rather matter of fact, "Huh! I hadn't really thought of it until now. NOW I am thinking about it!" After a number of conversations about the merits of adopting another dog, we decided to pull the proverbial trigger and reach out to the rescue coordinator who found Huck for us last year. We were very low-key about it, just that we were thinking Huck would like a buddy, so if a good fit for our family crossed her path, to please let us know. On July 27th, she reached out to me via text and told me about some lab/shepherd pups (in TX) who were going to need a home and wondered if we'd be interested in one of them. It all seemed to fall into place. Once we got confirmation that he was a healthy pup, we told the coordinator that we'd like to adopt him. We were put in contact with the pup's foster mom, who was truly wonderful and gave him such a great home for his last couple of weeks in TX. She sent me so many pictures and updates, for which we were (and are) so grateful!

Fast forward to last week:

Eric and I had kept news of the puppy from the kids, just in case anything fell through. We didn't want them to be disappointed. Our plan was to keep the pup a secret until I arrived home with him Friday night. A few days before pick-up day, I told Eric that I was thinking it might be good to tell the kids so they could help weigh in on names and because there are so few things to look forward to right now (hello, life in a quarantine) and anticipating a new puppy would be a lot of fun for the kids. That night as dinner began, Eric pulled out his phone and had a pic of the puppy on the screen. He ooh'd and ahh'd over how cute this picture was and when the kids asked whose puppy was in the pic, we told them the news that he'd be ours in a few days. Needless to say, the kids were over the moon. (I now regret that I didn't think to take a video of us telling them so we could capture their reactions ... oh well!)

On Friday (8/14/20), Conor and I set out on what was the longest drive either of us had made in MONTHS (if not all year.... again, hello life in a quarantine). We didn't go straight to Olympia, where the rescue transport was going to do the puppy hand offs. Instead, we "swung" through Issaquah/Renton to pick up a knee scooter for my sister who broke her ankle a few days before (hi, Suzanne!) and then headed to Tacoma to pick up some chocolates from Johnson's Candy (get well gift for said broken-ankled sister), a socially distanced wave with our favorite priest (hi, Fred!) and to have a socially distanced coffee with my best friend (hi, Kate!). Then, we were off to Olympia to pick up our new up. Unfortunate for Conor and me, traffic was horrific from the time we left the house until we got to Olympia We got to our destination about 20 minutes late, which when you're anticipating picking up a new puppy, seems like FOREVER!!!

Not long after arriving at our arrival at the designated location in Olympia, we masked up were handed our new pup. 

Having Conor with me was a huge help in terms of getting Finn home. Conor kept Finn calm and as relaxed as possible, which was no small task considering Finn had no clue who we were or anything about what was going on!

Needless to say, when we got home, we were greeted by a very excited crew! Annika could barely contain herself and Eric could barely contain Huck and his excitement!! 

One disadvantage to Finn's arrival was the smell that accompanied him. After transporting 3+ days with many other dogs from Texas, let's just say, there's a little "ripeness". We were given a heads up about this potential, so had anticipated he'd need a bath that first night. Fortunately, he's small enough that the kitchen sink proved to be the perfect place to de-stink him!

Over the past few days, we have helped Finn figure out how to be an Olson and he has reminded us how to be a puppy family. There have been lots of belly rubs, naps (the dogs, not us), and snuggles. 

Welcome to being an Olson, Finn!! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Look Who Has Pierced Ears!

One of the rules in our family is no pierced ears before you're 13. Why? So the person is old enough to (a) know what they're getting in to and (b) so the person can take care of the piercings. 

Quite some time ago, I reached out to our kids' pediatrician asking whether she pierced ears (no) and, if not (she doesn't), where she recommends people go. She HIGHLY recommended going to a piercing/tattoo parlor instead of a jewelry store because the piercing/tattoo places have more health oversights and requirements in place. That made it an easy decision. After asking around, we received a few recommendations for Deep Roots on the Ave in the U. District. I made the appointment for the Saturday after Annika's birthday - done and done!

Saturday morning, Annika was a bundle of excitement and nerves. Not knowing what to expect made her a bit anxious, but not enough to want to back out of getting her ears pierced. Upon arriving, we donned our masks, participated in their health screening (ahh... life during a global pandemic!), filled out the required paperwork, and picked out the first non-magnetic/clip on earrings Annika would wear. 

I have to say, I was incredibly impressed with people who work there and their level of professionalism. Everything was clearly explained and the cleanliness/health standards were through the roof! 

The piercing artist (John) who headed up Annika's appointment truly did a great job. He was kind, made Annika (and me!) feel very comfortable, and clearly took a lot of pride in doing a good job. He was thorough and valued Annika's input on the process. Before we knew it, Annika's ears were pierced and she was sporting her new blue earrings!

After the fact, Annika said the anticipation was MUCH worse than the actual piercing. She is over the moon that she's now part of the pierced ears club! She has done a fantastic job tending to them and making sure she follows every instruction provided by John to the letter. 

Waiting for her appointment

Working on calming her nerves

All done!!

Pretty blue earrings