Waterfront Stay on Camano Island

You may find this funny- and feel free to laugh- but I first heard of Camano Island, WA because of HGTV. I was watching an episode of Beach Front Bargain Hunt and really liked the views. I knew we were coming to Seattle for spring break so I started combing through AirBNB to find a good spot. And boy did we ever!

This was the view from the back yard. Just breathtaking. The house is located on the inner curve of a “C” of coast line so it had 180 degrees of ocean from the sunroom.

At first, JB was disappointed that it wasn’t a sandy beach (like southeast coasts) but once he realized how many rocks and shells there were to look at, his mind was changed.

We visited Camano State Park Beach and enjoyed seeing the views from different points of the island. We also visited Cama Beach where many summer vacation dreams must come true as the little village is set up for a summer of kids playing horseshoes, corn hole, swinging, and swimming right next to the Puget Sound.

Even though it rained (a lot) most of the time we were on the island, we still managed to bundle up and walk a good bit to take in the sights/sites.

Thanks to a visit at Trader Joe’s, we ate at the AirBNB for most of our meals. But, we did enjoy afternoon treats at the Camano Island Marketplace. I highly recommend the Chocolate Au Pain from the bakery.

It felt a little sad to be in such a beautiful place during the off-season, but we hope to come back in warmer months to fully experience the excitement that the island must host each summer



The Idol in My Pocket

When I think of idols, a few things come to mind.  I’m reminded of the golden calf that was worshiped in the Old Testament.  Celebrities come to mind, especially Kim Kardashian, as she is the most commonly mentioned celebrity during plastic surgery consultations.  People want to manipulate their bodies to look like her.  I think of the tv show, American Idol, as many devote their weeknights to watching it, voting and buying music produced from it.  I also think of college football (as I wrote about here) and the amount of money and attention spent on football.  

Webster’s dictionary has 5 definitions of idol.  The one that resonates with me the most is “an object of extreme devotion”.

Sadly, I’m here to announce that I carry an idol in my pocket every day.  My iPhone.  

I am extremely devoted to it.  If it gets left at home, it is a source of frustration and feeling of nakedness.

It causes great distraction for me.  If someone is talking to me and I can’t hear them because I’m on the idol, then it’s hurtful to them.  I’m saying/showing through my actions that the distant person, thing, pictures, or whatever on the idol are more important than who is in my presence.

My devotion to my idol causes me to waste precious time that could be spent on solitude, time with friends, or time with God.  I get so caught up on it that I miss opportunities to help others.

My idol keeps me up later at night than it should.  It prevents me from getting more sleep and distracts my mind when I should be winding down.

It’s the first thing I think of many mornings.  I’ve made it a habit to reach for the idol, check email, texts and social media- all before even telling my husband good morning.  

It distracts me when I’m driving which is unsafe for me, my passengers, and everyone else around me.  

My idol weighs too much on my self worth.  Someone hasn’t texted me back- that must mean that they do not like me or I’m not important to them.  This photo only got 28 likes, it must not be cute enough.

My idol steals joy through comparison.  I’m at home in sweats with a sick kid while my friend is in Bermuda snorkeling with dolphins.  

My idol is a liar.  It tells me I’ll be more connected but it causes me to be more disconnected.  Even though it’s fast, it causes me to be more impatient when real life speed isn’t.  It wants to make me happy but it causes those around me to be less happy.

Do you have this idol in your pocket too?


Ode to Jack Jack

Jacqueline Elizabeth Cadle was born February 11, 1988 and she was my first shot at being a big sister. Because we grew up in the south, we always had to wear matching dresses, hairbows, and shoes. We didn’t look much alike with my straight hair and her super curly hair but those outfits would have made you look twice.

As we grew up, Jackie and I often did not get along. We were constantly bickering and my mom had had enough. We were at a neighbor’s house with lots of sporting equipment. We were fighting over who could use the plastic baseball bat. Finally, mom was so frustrated with refereeing us, mom let Jackie and I take our frustrations out on one another with those baseball bats. And boy did we go to town hitting each other, screaming and shouting. We were all shocked- even mom. That’s what big sisters do…. beat the crap out of her little sister with a plastic baseball bat.

One time, Jackie went to visit our neighbor, Leonna Printup, at her home. I was out riding my bike and noticed a long snake draped over the railing of Leonna’s house with its head resting on her front porch mat. I raced home to tell my mom so she could call Leonna’s house and warn Jackie of the snake. Otherwise, she may have been bitten when leaving Leonna’s house. That’s what big sisters do… keep their little sister from being bit by a snake.

As Jackie got older, she often followed in the footsteps of me, her older sister. We served as FCCLA state officers together. But after I went to college, Jackie set a new Cadle sister record by becoming the FCCLA state President. I was super proud! That’s what big sisters do… cheer on their little sister to new accomplishments.

On one of the best days of my life, Jackie was standing next to me as my maid of honor while I married Peck. I had chosen sunflowers for all of our bouquets. Mine was especially large and it was HEAVY. It weighed so much, that my arms were shaking while the preacher rambled on through his “short” homily. I made the decision to hand the bouquet to Jackie who gracefully took it with a smile. That’s what big sisters do… get their little sister to help when things get too heavy.

Jackie was at the hospital when I had JB and she was in love with him from that moment on. Although JB doesn’t get to see her much, she has a special place in his heart. He loves reading the inscriptions of the many books that she and Ryan have given him as gifts. He likes to see photos of his “cousin puppy”, Sadie, as she travels all over the country. But what he loves most of all is her love and affection when we visit. She offers the perfect balance of love and discipline that each little boy needs. He loves playing in the yard with Jackie and Sadie. They all laugh hysterically as they throw the frisbee and run around together. That’s what good aunts do… they make great memories with their nephew.

On Jackie’s big day, I got to stand beside her as her Matron of Honor as she married her prince, Ryan Padilla. Everyone knows that I love my husband and Sam, but Ryan was the best addition to our family. He balances Jackie out so much. He has a never ending love for her and gives her so much love, affection and affirmation. Jackie blossomed when She became Mrs Padilla and we were all thrilled to see her so happy.

Jackie and I have spent lots of time together outside of our home state of Georgia including London and Seattle. But my favorite trip was to visit her and Ryan in Alaska. Jackie and I spent several days together exploring the scenic beauty of Alaska, catching up, laughing as we experienced new things, taking tons of photos, and rocking out to Taylor Swift driving through the Turnagain. It was fun to see a snapshot of Alaska life- her gym/social club, eating lots of fresh crab meat, hearing about her job, and seeing where she had spent a previous summer doing missions work. It was a fantastic trip for many reasons. That’s what sisters do… have fun together.

So today, on Jackie’s 30th birthday, I wrote these words full of love and memory. I’m proud of the woman you’ve become. You are a loving wife, kind sister and wonderful aunt. Cheers to you, the most STRIKING Cadle sister, today and everyday!

love, brookie

Kindergarten Anxieties

Last night, I got hit by all the emotions of my son starting kindergarten (at a new school) this fall.  It was full on ugly cry.  For like 15 minutes.  I realize that kindergarten is 7 months away, but now is when schools host open houses and tours and the lottery sign ups start.  Where will he go to school?  Will he make new friends?  Will kids be mean to him?  Is he “prepared” for kindergarten?  Will he get a good teacher?  Will he get in trouble for talking too much (no clue where that comes from)?  Did we make a good decision holding him back a year since he has a late August birthday?  Will he actually eat his school lunch?  You know… just a few kindergarten anxieties for this mom.

On top of this, the school options in our area are endless!  There is the neighborhood elementary school, public charter schools with lotteries for attendance, private Christian schools and non-faith private schools.  As of right now, we have toured 3 private schools, 2 charter schools and our local public school.  And I have 3 more tours scheduled in the next three weeks!  That’s a lot of options!!  It’s good to have choices because not all children learn the same but it’s also so overwhelming.  We’ve been doing our best to understand what’s available and trying to find the best fit for our son.

Last night, the passage of time hit my emotions like a ton of bricks.  I realized that my son is 5.5, I can barely pick him up and he is so hard to sit in my lap due to his size.  Yes, he is healthy, happy, and wonderful- all great things, but still difficult to wrap my head around how big my “baby” is.  I cried tears of anxiety to my husband as I recognize that change is coming.  We have been blessed with a wonderful preschool for 5 years of school that has been a perfect fit for our son.  I pray that he transitions well to kindergarten- wherever that may be.

I was sad about how big he is, how old he is, the unsurety of what’s next and trying to process time going by so quickly.  How can I have a child old enough for kindergarten?  How have we been married for almost ten years?  How do I have wrinkles around my eyes?  

This morning my (one and only) baby went to an open house at what could be his school for the next six years.  We got to see the entire school, have breakfast in the cafeteria and ride on a school bus.  It was a big morning and my son loved it.  He walked out of the school saying he can’t wait to go to school there.  Who knows where he will attend kindergarten, but I’m thrilled knowing he loved this option and is excited about his future.  Yes, I’m anxious, nervous and sentimental but I’m going to keep him focusing on excitement and not let my hesitant emotions get in his way!  

And yes, I realize I am not the first parent to send a child to a new school.  Knowing this helps- some.  But it’s still the emotions that I am working through.

So, to all the parents who are sending their hearts out into an unknown world this fall, know that I am with you in solidarity.  We will get through this.  Also, I have heard that wine helps.  

love, brooke

Experiences Over Stuff

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts this year.  Most of you know that I try to declutter, clean out and donate as frequently as possible.  In an effort to buy less stuff and experience more in life, I did some deep thinking about what experiences mean the most to me in hopes of being able to focus on those things more in 2018.

Quality time. When I think back to some of my favorite memories this year, I think of trips with friends, game nights, dance parties with my son, girls night out, tailgates, football games, celebrating birthdays, time with family, and being in a small group.  All of these times together have strengthened relationships, built memories and brought so much joy to my life!

Travels.  Some of the coolest places I have stayed while traveling are at airbnbs.  I stayed in someone’s basement in Alaska… doesn’t sound fancy… but you could see the Northern Lights from its window.  Pretty damn cool.  Or the house that we spent 4 days with good friends in Ireland… that was built over 200 years ago and every inch of architecture was amazing.  Traveling makes me have a greater appreciation of others, how small we all are in this big world, and a better understanding of geography/cultures/food/etc.

Sunsets.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a sunset.  You can watch a sunset every day for a week and none of them would look the same.  My favorite part is once the sun is down seeing all the colors reflecting off the clouds.  The best.  And if I can watch a sunset over next to a body of water, even better.

Fishing.  This experience is one that I don’t do nearly enough.  I love the feel of the sun and the wind blowing as I cast out my line and anxiously wait to see what I may bring in.  Fishing at low tide is my favorite.  You get to see so much in the water- blue crabs, sharks feeding, stingrays, and occasionally dolphins will swim by.  

Tennis. I can’t believe I am this old… but I have been playing tennis for over 25 years.  I love the competition, the sweat, the strategy, and the fun.  Plus, this year my baby sis has been my partner- so QT too!  I love that you can play 42 deuce points in one game and then when the next game 40-0.  I love that you might lose today but beat the same opponent tomorrow.  And the best part is it’s a lifetime sport- from young to old.

What experiences mean the most to you?  How can you fill your life with more of those and focus on less stuff?

love, brooke

Simplifying the Busiest Time of the Year

December is often a very busy month for folks.  There are extra events, things to do, shopping, decorating, and all the other things that make the month feel overwhelmed and stressful.  Don’t fall victim to this hub-a-bubble.  Here are a few ways I have found to simplify December by focusing on what matters to our family during the Christmas season!

Focus on what brings you joy.  Think hard about your favorite Christmas memories.  Do you love baking cookies with your sister?  Does addressing 50 Christmas cards bring you happiness?  Are you a big fan of decorating a tree in each room of your house?  Some of these ideas may make you want to lock yourself in a closet while others may truly bring joy.  The good news is you can focus on what makes you happy.  So what that you put up three decorated Christmas trees last year but hated every second of the set up (and take down!).  Just because you’ve done it in the past doesn’t mean you have to do it every year.  Figure out what makes you happy and focus on that.  Let that be “your thing” instead of being mediocre at everything and overstressed because you aren’t enjoying it anyway.

Don’t let your commitments exhaust you.  It’s hard to believe this, but you are the one that controls your calendar- even at Christmas time.  There are a gazillion events each December- parties, cookie swaps, open houses, concerts, train rides with Santa, light shows, and the list goes on and on.  Prioritize what you attend by who you want to spend your time with and how you want to spend your money.  Don’t fall victim to being exhausted all season because you say yes to everything and are completely worn out.  Instead, be selective to what you want to do with your time and don’t forget to schedule in down time for relaxing, recharging, and spending time focusing on what matters during this season.  Also, be mindful of what all is included in an accepted invitation.  Buying formal wear, baking cookies, travel time, and buying/wrapping white elephant gifts also take up precious time.  Even though the party is only 2 hours, if it requires two hours of prep, then it’s not really two hours- its four!

Buy experiences and not stuff.  The majority of parents I know don’t really want their kids to have more stuff- toys, games, dolls, legos, etc.  Instead, they’d love for their child to have more experiences and future memories.  Memberships to local attractions are a good gift idea.  Tickets to a show or concert are also great.  For smaller children, passes to indoor bouncy house places or tickets to a puppet show may work well.  Want to spend more money?  Consider purchasing a weekly class of some sort (ballet, gymnastics, tennis, etc) might be a good choice.  If you are truly trying to simplify Christmas, then that means honoring others wishes to help them simplify their lives by not buying stuff for their kids and cluttering their home.

Spend less but spread more cheer.  I am a big believer in “it’s the thought that counts”.  Instead of buying something “small” for your kind neighbor, mailperson, or favorite waitress, consider writing them a short note.  Let them know how much you appreciate their wonderful service, kind smile, or whatever else you like about them.  I promise your kind words will mean more to them than another cheap coffee mug.

I’d love to hear how you have found ways to simplify your Christmas season!

love, brooke

Rethinking Hospitality

Being a hostess is in my DNA.  My parents constantly host dinner parties, birthday parties, fish frys, bon fires, and every other party you can imagine.  I had the pleasure to grow up seeing how wonderful it was to experience fellowship with so many in our own home.  It’s something that is a part of me and that my own family now tries to include in our weekly schedule.  

But recently, my Christian understanding of hospitality has been challenged.  I have been reading “The Year of Small Things” and one of the chapters focuses on hospitality.  I was reminded of Luke 14:12-14 (NIV):

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

But wait, we are really hospitable.  We host friends for dinner or get togethers frequently.  Why can’t that count?  But, Jesus is calling us to another level of hospitality- providing it for those who cannot repay us.  That makes it a little less fun for me.  We love going to our friend’s houses for dinner and drinks or play dates and then us hosting at another date.  Why can’t that be enough for “our’ form of hospitality?

I have been marinating on this scripture for the last several weeks and praying for ways that God can allow me to experience it.  The first was including an awkward, single neighbor by inviting him to our home for a get together.  I was nervous about how his behavior could affect our other guests.  Would he try to smoke around children?  What would I talk to him about?  Do we have anything in common besides being neighbors?  Thankfully, God proved my fears wrong and we had a nice time getting to know him.  He thanked me repeatedly for including him.  I didn’t really need the the thank you but the part that made me smile was that he felt welcome and not left out.

The next nudge came from God to become more involved with a church ministry that feeds the homeless.  This one was especially scary to me because I hate the social awkwardness that has come with previous interactions with homeless men or women.    That’s where my uncomfortableness came from.  “No, I don’t have any cash” I would reply as I grabbed my son’s hand and quickly headed into the restaurant.  Even if I had cash, I was fearful to open my wallet with my son present.  

But today, I went out on that uncomfortable limb to provide hospitality that wouldn’t be repaid to me.  I helped load up metal carts with sandwiches, chips, cookies, oranges and lemonade to serve the hungry along Ponce de Leon Ave in Midtown.  We walked half a mile to our first location and everyone lined up to receive a meal.  Many were homeless, some day laborers looking for a lunch while hoping to get picked up for a job, and others were there to help us.  One man said a loud version of a children’s blessing then everyone went through the line to get their food.  My job was to pass out the oranges- only two per person.   I smiled as I did my job and asked names while introducing myself. Some folks were happy and wanted to chat while others were quick to move along.  When it was all over, I was shocked at how we still had sandwiches left and that everyone had gotten as many as they wanted.  I also was surprised at how quickly we were done.  From start to finish, it was two hours.  It takes more time for me to grocery shop, cook, set up, and clean up for a party than that!

Don’t worry friends, we still are going to have parties and we still want to be invited to your homes.  I think God wants that for us too.  Just not to let it be our ONLY type of hospitality.  

What are some ways you can practice this type of unrepayable hospitality?  Can you host friends/neighbors/family that can’t repay you?  Can you visit the homebound or those in nursing homes?  Can you work at a food pantry?  Can you donate baby supplies to a baby you will never meet?  Can you help a co-worker pay for her car repair?  Can you foster children that you may never see again?  

Can’t wait to see what kind of hospitality God has in store for me next!

love, brooke


Wedding Bubbles

img_6519I graduated from my creative writing continuing education course on Tuesday night!  I’m so glad I took the class.  I have learned SO much about writing details, content, dialogue, and getting feedback from my work.

Today, I wanted to share something I wrote in class.  I am hoping it will be a part of a novel one day!  Here was the assignment: “Write 1-2 pages of double spaced dialogue in which two people are arguing about something insignificant, with hints they are really upset about something else.”

Wedding Bubbles

“Cheers!” we say as our chilled flutes clink together.  I smile at John and then look around at the bustling ballroom.  Music is pumping through the ballroom speakers and the flower vendor corner is overflowing with tall, lofty arrangements.  

“Oh, that’s got a really smooth finish and isn’t too dry,” John says after his first sip as we sit together in the wine section of the annual Wedding Showcase.  

“I like it too, I’m just unsure if we should go with the Vueve as it’s more expensive and popular right now” I reply as I lift up my flute to get a glimpse of the chandelier through the bubbles.  

John takes another quick sip.   “Margie, who cares?  If we were basing our decisions off only those factors, we wouldn’t be doing this tasting now.  But, I am a strong believer in serving something that tastes delicious.”  He sets down his glass and crosses his arms just as Sweet Home Alabama begins blaring through the speakers.

“True.  I just want to make sure every little detail of Hattie’s big day is perfect right down to the bubbles selection”, I respond.

John picks up his glass again and says “honey, you know she doesn’t even like champagne.  Her and Josh are both big beer drinkers.”

“Yes, don’t remind me.  As far as I am concerned, they should pour that stuff back into the horse it came from” I say with a serious face.

“HA!”, John says, rolling his eyes.  “Remind me how many bottles we need?”

“Only one hundred,” I say in my most innocent voice.

John almost snorts champagne up his nose.  “Only?  A Hundred?  Seriously?  That is a lot of champagne.  We definitely need to go with the cheaper champagne option or, better yet, let’s go with a sparkling wine.”  A waiter gives us a suspicious look as he passes our table carrying an empty tray of flutes to the kitchen.

“John, we will not serve sparkling wine during the champagne toast at our daughter’s wedding.  That is tacky.  If we don’t serve the real thing, then we might as well not even do a toast,” I reply as I start feeling the buzz of the champagne hitting my body.

“Margie, that sounds a bit dramatic to me.  Won’t the wait staff pour it in the kitchen then bring it out on serving trays?  If so, does it even matter what we serve?” he asks seriously.

“True”, I reply, defeated.  “I’m sorry, I just want this wedding to be wonderful.  You know, when we got married, it was such a simple reception because daddy was so sick.  Part of me feels like I need to make up for our lack of reception by going over the top for Hattie’s.”

John reaches for my hand.   “I know, sweetie.  But let’s try to remember that it’s Hattie and Josh’s day, not ours.  Let’s focus on making them happy so that Hattie won’t do this same thing to her daughter in 30 years” he says with a wink.

“Hmm,” I reply as a bridal fashion show starts on the stage.  All I wanted at our wedding was champagne and desserts but mama convinced me to have punch and cheese straws as it would be cheaper and easier to plan on such a short time line.  

After a few silent moments, I look for the waiter and ask “Excuse me?  May we please try your most expensive champagne?” as I squeeze John’s hand.  He has been married to me long enough to know that I’m going to do what I damn well please.

learn, brooke

What If?

Going into the election night party, there was no clear frontrunner.  We knew it was going to be a long night with the final tally coming late in the evening.  The staff and I were throwing back shots of ice cold Jack Daniels in a back room tucked away from the high falutin party.  We were all sick of one another and yet were in this life situation together and wanted to succeed together.  A collective sigh of relief and cheers occurred when the local news station predicted our candidate as the winner.  More shots were taken in celebration and then we all went home to pass out from weeks of campaign exhaustion and copious amounts of bourbon.

The next week was a total whirlwind.  All of the campaign staff were given immediate positions in Washington, DC.  Since it was a mid term special election,  we had exactly eight days to pack up, find an apartment, and get moved.  I had never even visited DC and here I was moving to it.  As I wrestled with what to pack and what to leave behind, I also realized I needed to break off my relationship with my college boyfriend.  I knew that my new job in a new city would be a lot to handle and balancing a long distance relationship on top of that was going to be too much.  I climbed into the passenger seat of the U-Haul moving truck with my anxious mind and grief as I mourned the end of a loving relationship.  The tears just started flowing and my dad, the driver, didn’t even ask because he just knew.

Adjusting to the DC political culture was especially difficult for me.  The attitude of everyone being so important and demanding respect was exhausting.  I had been raised in the deep south and taught that you were only as good as your word.  In DC, people were fake, full of lies, and ready to backstab their way up the political ladder.  That’s probably why I was drawn to him in the first place because he didn’t subscribe to this power hungry culture.  Politically, Kevin was very important as the Chief of Staff for an Illinois Senator.  But, he did not take himself too seriously and he enjoyed poking fun at those who did.  There was something different and relaxed about him that I couldn’t ignore.  He was laid back and drank PBRs after work when everyone else sipped more pretentious drinks like dirty martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives.  He also wore a nicely trimmed beard when most young men on Capitol Hill were clean shaven.   My southern parents would have died knowing that I enjoyed the company of a midwestern man.  To them, everyone born outside the South was a yankee or a Californian.  That was probably another reason I liked him.

Whenever we were together, he never checked his phone.  This was unheard of in DC.  People would dine on $50 steaks and $400 bottles of wine at The Prime Rib with phones littering the table for the entire meal.  He’d invite me to VIP cocktail parties in DuPont Circle and never leave my side to go mingle with others.  We’d attend stuffy corporate suites at the Nationals game and after 20 minutes he’d whisper to me, let’s get out of here and do something fun.  Knowing both sides of Kevin was addicting as I felt like it was our little secret of what he really enjoyed doing with his time versus what his colleagues thought he enjoyed.   

 After four months of dating, I was shocked when he got down on one knee during our weekly Wednesday night karaoke outing. We’d be been drinking a $5 pitcher of Miller Lite and enjoying the people watching and singing.  The DJ was blaring Beyonce’s Single Ladies and a few drunk sorority girls were trying to put on a show.  I had no idea that we’d be the main event for the evening.  As he yelled over the music about how much he loved my zest for life, how I made him so relaxed and happy, and how he wanted that to be his forever, I couldn’t help but think, what if we had lost the election?

learning, brooke

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