Thursday, December 31, 2015

Miss Emma Pearl...

I’ve been puzzling, for some time now, over what to say about the arrival of our precious little granddaughter, Emma Pearl.

For once, I seem to lack the words, at least the right ones, to describe the wonderful privilege of becoming grandparents. There’s just not quite the right adjective available to characterize such an event.

It was quite a day, December 10th, waiting many hours after knowing the process had begun. Thanks to Caitlin for requesting that I go Christmas shopping with her for some of those hours! It was a pleasant and effective distraction! Yet, it was late in the evening when we finally heard that the baby was going to make its arrival by c-section. I confess that at that point I felt the most worry, especially as we waited with Tiffany’s parents and sister for 2 hours until we heard news from Dillon. What could be taking so long? Fortunately, it was all good news, and they had just been taking their own sweet time with their newborn – of which I approved completely!

Here is Dillon arriving to make us guess: Boy or girl? Weight? Of course, he would make us guess…and most of us were wrong! For some time, several of us were convinced that baby was a boy, which made it even more fun that baby is a girl!! For weight, I guessed 9 lbs., Grandma Pat guessed 8 lbs. and was shocked to hear that Baby Girl Honcoop weighed 8#15!!

The doctor had complimented Tiffany on her toughness in laboring with a big baby, who turned out to be sunny-side up, but the Little Miss was not going to come out in the conventional way. We were all so thankful that they did not keep trying and trying, exhausting both mom & babe before they went to Plan B…so much better for both.

At this point, Baby Girl Honcoop’s name was not confirmed. Though by now it was midnight, we were told if we waited a bit longer, when Tiffany was out of recovery, we could see them both!

And who would leave at that point! No one...

It was 1:00am before we got in to see the new momma and baby girl. They both looked so great! There, Dillon and Tiffany announced that baby’s name is Emma Pearl. Pearl was Grandpa Gordon’s mother, and I think it is a lovely tribute to her.

Besides, this little girl is a pearl to all of us!

Looking over 10 little fingers and toes...

Grandma Pat

"Hi Emma! I'm your grandma!"

Grandpa Randy can't get enough...

...just like Grandpa Gordon!

Auntie Marci 

Uncle Jess...

...found out that holding a newborn is pretty sweet. 

Auntie Cait holding her niece, who looks a lot like HER newborn pictures.

I have always loved newborns! They are just such precious, sweet wonders of miniature humanity. And of course, I feel this way about Emma…But as well, there is the wonder of this new person in our lives. Who is she? What will she like? How will she think? What thoughts and perceptions will come from her little head? I just can’t wait to find out! Things I took for granted in my youthful pursuit of parenthood, I now find quite wondrous. She will bring such joy to our lives with the expression of her personality.

As well, it is a joy and a wonder to see my son become a protective, smitten, gracious daddy. The wonder and gratitude and commitment is plain on his face. It is a great privilege to see him so blessed – and to enjoy seeing Tiffany loving her girl and so naturally mothering her.

I’m so grateful for all of my kids, and so thankful for the family unit we are together…and now to add another individual to this group to love, care for, support, enjoy…I can think of nothing better in life.

Last year, we added a member by marriage. This year, a granddaughter!

God is gracious beyond my understanding.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmastime is officially begun...

It’s cloudy out there today, and it’s okay. We’ve had a run of beautifully clear and cold days, and I have done my best to savor them…my favorite weather! “Sweater Weather is Better Weather” is printed on a little sign I hang amongst my Fall decorations. Clear and cold is the ultimate sweater weather! Even better, the NE wind was merely a breeze, or absent, for most of those days. After all this good fortune in the weather department, I cannot complain about the return to gray and wet that is now occurring. Though a deluge is predicted, it will still be cool, and enhance the coziness I love.

Today is the Official Start of Christmas Season here in the Honcoop Household, and it has been that way since our establishment as a household. Never has a Christmas tree been up before this date, and usually, much later as The Farmer prefers it go up after his birthday on the 7th. Today, the boxes of decorations start coming out, as I have recovered sufficiently from hosting Thanksgiving to consider another project of large proportions.

Our Thanksgiving gathering was so pleasant, and added to our thankfulness. Our group numbered twenty-two, as a few were missing, but still a full house, and a day full of visiting, laughing and savoring the foods of the season. I actually recognized that the turkey was done before the appointed time as predicted by the instructions which is a major win for me! I’m gaining the skill of making that determination on my own…and feeling inordinately proud of it.

My family just loves having pictures taken...'s not just for children anymore!

Part of our afternoon was spent in a shower of gifts for Tiffany and our Grandbaby. My side of the family does showers in the most casual way possible which was perfect for this setting. Thanksgiving allowed family from out of town to participate, which added to the fun. We all delighted in the tiny little clothes, and books, and supplies for the little one soon to arrive.
I did not buy this for the Grandbaby -- but someone who knows me well did.

And we are on Baby Watch these days. Tiffany’s official due date is December 8, but with some fluctuations in her blood pressure, there is the possibility that Baby Honcoop might not wait that long. It could be ANY DAY! I can hardly think of anything that makes Christmastime more fun than this!!

Though, truthfully, it would make ANY time of the year exciting, and unparalleled in the fun category!

I carry my phone AND charger with me at all times these days. Our calendar is full of the usual December meetings for The Farmer, and activities of the season, but I wonder each time I add something if we will be there, or with our new Grandbaby!!

You may have noted that I say ‘Grandbaby’, and not grandson, or granddaughter… The reason for this is that Dillon & Tiffany have chosen to do things the old-fashioned way and wait until baby is here to discover its gender! Somewhat rare in these days of modern technology, but certainly adds to anticipation.

And it has saved The Farmer a lot of money, so far, because I can only buy neutral clothing, of which there is little available.

I’m sure I will make up for that.

In the meantime, I will start on the Christmas decorating, and try to avoid feeling it is a lot of work for a short amount of time, and finish my Christmas shopping so I am ready to do little but rock the Baby at every opportunity.

It IS The Most Wonderful Time of This Year!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Celebrating the First Frost...

It happened yesterday, but I am still happy about it today!

Frost! I love it, and find it so beautiful...And it's about time. The berries need to get serious about going to sleep so they aren't full of sap and vulnerable to a true cold snap, as happened last year.

But while I am celebrating this happy occurrence of frostiness, I noticed that we had a good frost on exactly the same day last year...And then it decided to stay warm for a while...And then we had 2 days of winter that smacked the berries on their tushies...

So I need to be realistic -- but I can still celebrate the Happy Occasion of Possible Wintery-ness!

Like snow paints the landscape beautiful, frost adds wonder to things we take for granted.

I've been finding some ripe berries on my morning walks lately, evidence that the temperatures have just been a little too warm. These premature berries leave canes that will not fruit next year during harvest. Every year this happens -- to some degree, but the more you see, the less you like it.

These little berries were frozen solid on the bush, and I ate every one of them. I have to say that though I've eaten a lot of frozen berries, this is the first time I have eaten some off the bush. They were delicious! (Actually, if I found berries like this in the summer, I would pass them over for better ones, but in November, we have a whole different standard!) ;)

I love finding frost clumps on my boots! Clear and cold -- my FAVORITE weather!

Imogene and Barnaby are fuzzy with their winter coats, and here they are crowded in the corner because that is where the sun was hitting this frosty morning.

They had just spent their first night in the inside goat pen. The Farmer built indoor digs for them a couple weeks ago, but they have chosen to sleep outside, snuggled together. This was the first morning that I found evidence of wallows in the shavings inside. Apparently, 28 degrees is their breaking point for outdoor sleeping!

I'm hoping that they have more nights where they stay inside, and more beautiful frostiness, and eventually a real winter...

My apologies to dairy farmers for the wishes I am making that are antithetical to yours.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Long-Time Friend I Hadn't Met...

I finally met my long-time friend…

Yes, you read that correctly. Sara and I have been friends since 2002, and I finally met her this September.

I tell you, the internet can be a blessed thing…

Back in 2002, Jess was on tour with the Lynden Christian High School band. At one of their stops in California, he and friend David Vos were guests of Sara and Terry Umbaugh. Their daughter, Tessa, was about the same age and attending Central Valley Christian where the band had a concert.

Sara kindly sent me an email with a picture of the boys having breakfast in her kitchen, and a note about their visit. And thus, our friendship and correspondence began!
A copy of the email that started our friendship...

Without ever having met, we hit it off, and found we shared many interests and convictions. We often said, “I think we would be fast friends were we living in the same town.” Over the years, our correspondence was sporadic, but sincere – and we could always pick up just where we left off. When The Farmer, with his brother and nephew, planned to drive down to the huge Tulare Ag Show near Fresno, Sara offered them a place to stay as they were close by.

It was kind of a wonder to me that this friend I had never met would be so gracious to house three guys she had never met, simply because I asked her for hotel recommendations. And Sara is one of those Hostess with the Mostest types…They had a great time there!

In the next few years, Sara and Terry moved to Texas, for work, and then back to Auburn, Indiana – close to family – and where they wanted to retire.

I wondered if I would ever get to meet them…

Then this Fall, they decided to visit the Pacific Northwest, and adventure up into British Columbia – with a stop to stay with us in Lynden! I was excited to finally meet face to face, and a little nervous that they would feel comfortable with us in real life!

I had a great time re-doing Jess’ kid wallpaper, and transforming his room to a guest room. Their visit was the perfect motivation to get that procrastinated project done. Even Jess is past the soccer and footballs on the wall! It was past time…and it kept me busy as I anticipated their arrival.
From Kid Room... grown up guest room.

My nervousness vanished in the first five minutes after they arrived. Sara and I talked and talked and talked! We, indeed, have much in common from interests to our outlook on life. The Farmer and Terry talked about as much as we did. Both of them have an affinity and aptitude for understanding how things work, and how to make things work better. Terry was very interested in the berry industry, and you know how The Farmer loves to talk about it!

They were easy guests and just wanted to tour around Lynden and the farms and get a picture of our life here…which is just the kind of thing we would want to do if we were visiting them! We had such a good time with them!

It’s a marvel to me that God connected us. It seems so random that we would make contact – and so amazing that we would then end up being such like-minded friends. It is a gift – and just a fun blessing to have gotten to know Sara and Terry…like a bonus from God!
Sara & Terry with our mountains in the background. Later Mt. Baker peeked out from behind the clouds so they could see what we enjoy every day.

I guess God can use whatever He wants to bless us…even the internet!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Parental Moving Company...

On Sunday, I instagrammed my breakfast and received comments that indicated you all thought I made it.

I appreciate your faith in me…but it is misplaced. That lovely dish was created by the cook at Calico Cupboard in downtown Mt. Vernon. Indeed, it was beautiful, and tasty, and just one of many menu items that I could have happily eaten. So thank you for thinking I would make such a thing, but you can get a plate for yourself when you’re heading down south. Calico Cupboard is highly recommended by me!

We were on our way down to Olympia to move our youngest kid into a new apartment…in the same complex about 200 feet away from where he was.

Easiest move ever! And there were good reasons for it. Jess’ lease was up, and a top floor apartment was available, and said apartment was 200 feet away from his neighbor who seems to have developed a severe sinus problem. Poor guy snores loud enough that Jess was getting little sleep, even after rearranging his schedule: going to bed early to try to be sleeping before the guy below him started up the chainsaw with which he saws logs; going to bed later so he would be too tired to hear; sleeping on the couch; resorting to sleeping pills…

At our family getaway in September (more on that in a later post), Jess was excited to sleep without a next door snorer. Ironically, he ended up sharing a room with us…And had to listen to TWO people snoring…Oh, the humanity!!

Nothing much would work for him back at home except sleeping pills -- not a great solution, too many groggy mornings. Fortunately, he didn’t have to endure too many months of this before the top floor apartment was available. When he originally found this complex, he tried to get a top floor unit but someone beat him to it.  Top floor units have vaulted ceilings, a porch-like entrance and a deck that is sunny. So he is pleased on all fronts that he is now a penthouse dweller.

I use the term penthouse loosely…but it is a nice little place. And the only shared divider is the floor. And his new neighbor was blissfully quiet during his first night there! Sleep, glorious sleep!!
Randy and Jess would load up the big stuff in the pickup while I packed up the kitchen, which took about 15 minutes and 2 boxes…and about 10 minutes to unload and set up in the new one. Bachelors! Pretty much the whole move was that way…not much stuff, and quickly moved and set up. Most of the boxes we moved were full of books, and I kinda love that. We left his library for him to organize, but the rest of the stuff was pretty much functional when we headed out to Vic’s Pizzeria for our reward.

I forgot to take a picture of that, so you all could believe that I made two marvelous meals in one day – and it was indeed marvelous, hand-tossed, cheesy, meaty goodness! A delicious reward!

Apparently, our children know that we will work for food because I remember that Jon and Caitlin treated us to a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant after moving them in late July.

After a convoluted and, at times, exasperating process, they were able to purchase a little horse farm in the county. They promptly named it Old Glory Horse & Cattle Company, and it is a perfect spot for them.

There is a 3 stall horse barn, with all the amenities a horse and horsewoman would ever want. The pastures are divided and fenced, and there is also a round pen. Sadie and Scooter, Cait's horse and pony are happily living in these luxe accomodations.

They also have a small shop for Jon’s projects, a huge garden, fruit trees and berry bushes galore. The house is a well-made and kept modular home with 3 bedrooms. Best of all, there is a utility room by the back door…a back door which has a pet door in it that accesses a fully fenced yard…AKA Paradise by Olive and Angus! They are thrilled beyond belief at their new little kingdom where they can chase birds away, go in and out at will, sun on the deck, and rummage around underneath it for treasures. Jon’s big Lab, Rex, is amazed at the ball trees everywhere on the property. Trees that drop balls (aka apples)onto the ground to be retrieved, and eventually eaten. Indeed, Paradise.

Access to Paradise...

Paradise! Or Olive's kingdom...Angus is but a serf, or jester...

And Jon and Cait think pretty much the same thing about it! We are so happy that they were able to find and acquire a place that suits them so well.

Cait in her lovely kitchen. She's already been entertaining!

Olive & Angus are so happy in their new home that they don't want to hang out at Gram's house for very long anymore...And seeing this, I understand why...

It is a great blessing to see your kids settled in homey, comfortable dwellings…I miss the years of their lives being centered in our home, but it is even better to see their homes become a new center for them, and the lives they now lead as adults…even when we are needed to help them move!
Really, that is why we do the work to move them – but don’t tell them because we like the meal too.

Friday, October 16, 2015

August Happenings...

We took Sunday Ride vacations,,,

...they usually include a beautiful view
 -- here on Samish Island --
 and lunch or dinner out.

Though we were done with harvest early, there was little time to vacation,
 other than our Sunday drives, as the Farmer had lots of projects going, 
and a few extra weeks of hired help before school started.

The Farmer and Right-Hand Man Bret, got the posts pounded in the baby field.

Cloudy days yielded relief from heat, but not much precipitation.

We hosted the Traditional Likkel Couples' Shower for Niece Alicia and fiance Greg.

As usual, lots of laughing and fun!

The Farmer and I celebrated our 36th Anniversary by watching the air show from our deck.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds!

A group of agricultural students from Trinidad came to visit our farm and learn about raspberries...We made sure they ate some raspberry goodies too!

The Farmer finally lost the "biological dressing", i.e. dead skin cap, from  his pinkie amputation accident -- which happened in April!

Bret & Jake, the hired hands, worked hard at cutting the old canes down from the wire. Then helped remove posts, and drip irrigation, and wires, the next section of field to be replanted.

Lots and lots of beautiful sunsets!

The Farmer covered the fallow field with a heavy coating of cow pucky.
Daisie is gazing in amazement: "So much poop, so little time."
She capitalized on the opportunity...

Barnaby & Imogene helped to clean up trimmings from the yard.

A new strategy for visiting The Fair: visit the poultry barn on the first day. 
It still smells like clean shavings on Monday!

Before I got Imogene & Barnaby, I was considering buying goats like these Boers. 
Pros: Goats with dewlap! Cons: They are BIG!
I came away confident of my choice of the Nigerian Dwarf breed!

Speaking of which: Here is Sammi showing Hershey, Barnaby's sister. 
Barnaby and Hershey are two of Imogene's triplets from this year.
 Barnaby is a LOT bigger than his sis...and is now on a diet.
Imogene should be proud because Miss Hershey won Reserve Jr. Grand!

Miss Brittany, on the right, kindly let me pet her heifer,
 and run my hand down the dewlap on her neck! 
If you don't know what dewlap is, you are missing out.

I was a helper in the Small Animal Experience at the Fair, 
and got to watch over these little piglets during my shift. 
Born on the first day of the Fair, they were tiny! They are SO cute at this stage.
But alas! They grow up to look like momma.

After all the stuff was OUT of the field, 
The Farmer came in and mowed the canes down to nothing.

I had a second helper shift at the Small Animal Experience
and HAD to watch over these wee bunnies and allow little kids to pet them.
Tough duty.
I will never sell hamburgers at the Fair again if I can keep this gig.

There was a wedding in the family!!!
We helped set up for Greg & Alicia's big day, 
and this is what it looked like when we were done.
Erin & Alicia had a great plan,
and we had such fun helping them execute it!

The Bride on her Dad's arm...

Alicia's brother, Jeffrey, officiated.
Her other brother, Derek, did the music.

The Bride and Groom had a PIE cutting.
Blueberry pie made by the Mother of the Bride, 
was the finishing touch.

I harvested and froze a pile of Anaheim peppers from my garden.

Jake and The Farmer working in tandem to dig the old raspberry roots out of the soil where we have taken out the old plants.

The Farmer fills the dump bucket on the digger,then backs up to dump into this trailer. 
Jake or I then had to haul the roots to dump again, and pile up so they could be hauled away.

Yes, I can actually back up a long as I don't have to go too far.
The field is cleaned out and now just needs some cow pucky, 
and will be seeded down for the winter.

And then, the month had a wild finish with the windstorm I told you about earlier.
A busy, busy and very productive August this year!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (