December Twenty Fifteen

December, the ultimate end of what turned out to be a chaotic year. Time to get back to normal (whatever that is).

The month started with us still having two residences: the apartment and our new house. We had officially moved into the new house Sunday before Thanksgiving but our apartment lease was until December 4. Once we were out of there, I had no desire to go back. Brian was the man, packing up and moving the remaining items the first week of December, and then cleaning the place before we had to turn in the keys. Apartment living over and out. Never again (fingers crossed).

My mom tells the story of when she bought her first brand new car, the salesman—a family friend—said, “Now, I want you to go home, find a hammer, and use it to make a big dent in the center of the hood.” My mom, a teenager, was confused… his point being that nothing new stays nice forever. And well, that has helped me through the years when my new cars get dents or my computer gets teeth marks from our dog… and even when the first thing breaks in the brand, spankin’ new home. First casualty: one of the three pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island. Clearly, I wasn’t meant to be a baseball player. I had changed Vaile on the family room floor and threw the diaper to Brian to toss in the trash—like I normally do—and hit the glass pendant. That sucker shattered everywhere. It turned out to be a good thing in disguise. The dining room light fixture had the same glass cover, five actually. And since we aren’t planning on using the dining room as a dining room, we took down that fixture and replaced it with a ceiling light. Now we have four extra glass covers, so I can practice my pitching four more times.

01-dec2015

Of all the things in the house, the kitchen backsplash is by far my favorite. I’m glad I went with that tile instead of subway tile like I was originally planning to do. And looking at this picture from early December, they finally fixed that very right cabinet… whomever installed it wasn’t thinking. Technical terms (brought to you from my Google search), it was installed left hand out-swing and should have been installed right hand out-swing. It’s like when I look at real estate listings or watch HGTV and I see kitchens with refrigerator doors swing open blocking the kitchen instead of away from the kitchen. Drives me nuts. That and toilet seats up. And when people sit in bathtubs. I watch too much HGTV and my world is small.

Saige had her first cake pop. Really, it was her first sit down and be distracted so mom can easily shop at Target with four kids pop. I really think that’s why Target and grocery stores have mini-Starbucks when you walk in. To buy distractions on those days. I’m going italics crazy and it’s only picture two. If I start using Comic Sans or underlining, somebody stop me from going off the deep end.

Brian dressed Saige this day.

02-dec2015

Early December memory note: no more fishbowl living, our window blinds were installed. Also, alarm system installed. False sense of security, check. But the doors ding when they are opened and closed, so no kiddos can escape unnoticed.

Seattle Men’s Chorus, my annual December tradition. I’ve been going since 2006 when we first moved up here. Karann was my date this year. It was nice to be out and about in downtown Seattle. Memories. The performance was nice and I enjoyed it, I just think it was better years back when they weren’t as serious so much. I’ll still be back next year.

03-dec2015

Brian’s dad and Tara flew into town for the weekend, and we spent the days with them and the kiddos mostly at home here in Carnation. How nice it was to have space for them to stay with us. They usually stay in a hotel but we actually had a bed and room for them (and wine glasses, I bought some knowing they were coming). Well, Laine’s room. We don’t have a dedicated guest room because, four kids, but Laine can easily sleep in Blaise’s room on the bottom bunk. We have so few overnight visitors it doesn’t make sense to have a guest room. It was a nice visit, we all always enjoy when they come up.

Vaile hit two months on December 7. And she hit 11.1 pounds. We were guessing about nine pounds given that she was 4.11 at birth. She’s growing great and as healthy as can be. She’s even up to size two diapers and almost to six month clothing (her length mostly, although there are some deep crevasses on those legs). And she’s finally giving some love back. Newborns are cute and all (when they stop looking like old men) but they never give anything back because well, they can’t yet. It’s nice when interaction starts. She smiles and chats now, and gives everyone the biggest grin when she first sees one of us. I’m convinced she’ll be some sort of actor or in the public eye because she has an audience for everything. Lucky gal, having three older siblings loving her like they do. Actually, all the kiddos are lucky to have each other. She’s just the hot commodity right now.

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Saige has elevated to crayon status at restaurants. She colors now. Big kid and all. Brian, the little gals, and I enjoyed a breakfast out while the big kiddos were at their last day of school before break.

09-dec2015

Lighting. Nearly $600 later, we light up the ‘hood with our daylight LED light bulbs that are supposed to last 22.8 years. What started with me thinking they installed the wrong wood floors turned into a light bulb adventure. Before we closed, we used to come by every weekend to see the progress. Two weekends before we closed, the floors were in when we came to check things out. In no world that I live in did I think I would have ever picked the floors that were installed… I was convinced they were the wrong ones. I did not like them. At all. After some investigating, they were the floors I picked (I still stand by the sample was a different tone than the floors installed). Brian pointed out that the lights in the house were very yellow, likely making the floor color look much different than it did at the design center where I selected them back in June. And design centers always have the best light for products. To Home Depot we went. And went again. And again. Back another time. And again, to a different Home Depot since we bought out all the light bulbs at the other one. Many light bulbs later, we settled on LED daylights. What a difference! I like the floors now. And maybe I’m overly particular but for what we spent on the house… first world problems as the saying goes.

Design center pictures:

design-center design-center2

Seeing the floor for the first time on the left with yellow lighting (even the cabinets look red yet have no real red tones); floors with LED daylights lights on the right (how they look now):

golden-floors led-lights

I still think they aren’t exactly what I thought I was getting… I’m slightly bitter about the whole house building process though, and this adds fuel to the fire thinking about it all. On a positive note, I’m pleased with lighter floors. We went dark at our last place and it was impossible to keep them clean. I’d clean and two minutes later, they were visibly dirty as soon as someone walked on them. SO happy to not deal with the constant cleaning.

After going through the light bulb debacle, we started to realize how yellow light is everywhere. Especially in all the surrounding houses (the construction crews leave lights on and since there are no window coverings, we can see everything). This is our house next to our neighbors… we stick out like a sore thumb on the street where all the other homes are yellow. We have neighbors on both sides now (and even a few more down the street), so maybe they’ll be light bulb fanatics like us and we won’t be the only ones.

10-dec2015

Christmastime in Carnation! I like my Christmas trees like I like my California cheese, real. (There’s a [bad, cheesy even, haha] reference from those happy cow days.) Even before kiddos, Brian and I would go to a tree farm and cut one down. It’s part of the experience. Carnation living, there is a tree farm up the road. Maybe four minutes by car. We usually go to another tree farm but decided to go local this year. We piled the gang in the van, drove over, and started our tree hunt. I knew the one I wanted the minute I saw it, right as we started. But I humored them, and they all walked around looking for the perfect tree before I sold them on the one I saw. Lucky for me, they were on board.

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The big kiddos each wanted a tree for their rooms. They went hunting while Brian dealt with getting the tree on top of the van. We ended up getting a second tree for the bonus room, telling them the trees are meant for all to enjoy so no to individual ones in their rooms. That tree sat undecorated the entire time. It did smell great up there. Lesson learned, only one tree next year.

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Pretending to be reindeer. I’ll never understand why reindeer is both singular and plural. Or why goose is singular and geese is plural, yet moose is both.

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The annual LEGO ornament building event. Normally a Blaise-only event; this year he really wanted Laine to join him. They were in BFF mode so she was up for going. Blaise was finished in no time, of course. That kid is amazing with LEGOs, and I’m not saying this just because I’m his mom (I’ll fully admit when the kiddos aren’t so great at things). Even on Christmas (coming up below), we bought him a large LEGO City set and he had it all together by the afternoon. It’s almost pointless to buy him sets anymore since he whips through them so quickly. He has been making his own set creations lately, which is a nice change. He has more LEGOs than Carter has pills! Ode to my mom there and her random sayings that I’ve inherited. There’s also the ever-popular, “I don’t know, can you?” When you use can instead of may. And the, “Behind the A and on top of the T,” when you end a sentence asking, “Where is the fill in the blank at?” She’s also the reason I never use a lot because a lot is where you park. I’m sure the kiddos—at least one of them—will keep the sayings going. Laine already says she has dusty brains if she sneezes more than once.

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The LEGO center is such a wonderful program. I’m so happy they have a homeschool program using LEGOs to teach engineering and math. It’s on the top of the list.

The mud pit. I could have started a wrestling career. We now have grass / sod / instant lawn / whatever it’s called. Before they installed it (a month after we closed), the backyard was all mud. Not that we complained, the kiddos had a blast playing out there. They worked hard making an island in the middle of the muddy water. It was fun watching because all the workers were out and about in the houses on both sides, and they seemed to get a kick out of all the banter between Blaise and Laine. They talk non-stop and make up these elaborate, highly imaginative situations as to what they’re doing. Laine’s voice carries really far too, so I’m sure the entire neighborhood heard her.

Playing in the rain and mud reminds me of the time back when I rolled with only two kiddos. We were at Farrel-McWhirter. It wasn’t supposed to rain but it did, hard. And since we were already there, we sat in the middle of the grass with our bag full of toys playing in the rain. We were soaked (before we had proper outdoor gear). And the only ones there. Except for the workers (who were all men), who would pass by us and give me a thumbs up. One of the only times I’ve ever felt like mom of the year.

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One of the house upgrades we included was the holiday lighting package. Nothing fancy, an outdoor outlet under the roof overhang on the first story, another on the second story, and a dedicated timer/switch in the garage. Despite not being in the hall decking mood—we still had boxes to unpack and rooms to organize—we felt like we had to put outdoor lights up to rationalize the upgrade. I took on the task, stringing the lights around the front porch. I went multi-color since they never have to look perfect. Something about white lights, they have that need-to-look-taut feel.

35-dec2015

Outdoor lights up, tree decoration next. The big kiddos would put an ornament on, Saige would take it off. Repeat. By Christmas, our tree only had ornaments above Saige’s reach and below the big kiddos’ reach. It was a spunky tree. I’m proud of myself, I’ve always been a things need to be perfect person… I’ve let that go. Big time. Getting older rocks.

Blaise was dressed in his Halloween costume, mixing holidays.

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They were singing the whole time, evidence:

Laine joined a choir back in November and had her first recital December 8. It was a small event that lasted maybe 20 minutes with mostly parents and grandparents in the audience. We made cookies beforehand for the informal party after. Laine helped me make chocolate chip cookies. Brian was proud of me, I was one of two moms who brought homemade cookies (this would never have happened a few years back).

43-dec2015

A few practice pictures (and a video!) from before the recital. Man, there are parents who see everything through a screen. The dad sitting to my left had an SLR-type camera. He clicked that sucker every.single.second during the actual performance (and practice). I was about to lose it from listening to the clicks. I wanted to, you know, actually hear the kiddos sing. Ironically, his kid is the absolute worst in the group. She is attention-seeking (in a bad way). Maybe there’s a reason her parents drop her off and don’t stay for weekly practice…

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Lainey Bug, Blaise, and Saige begging in the background at the cookie party after. Saige has things figured out. She walked up to a dad who was holding his kiddo’s cake pop and pointed at it while smiling and going, “Mmmm.” The dad thought she was pretty cute and offered her the cake pop, she gladly took it. His wife gave him a nudge for doing that since he didn’t know who her mom was or ask if it was okay, but I was watching the whole time and thanked him after.

46-dec2015

Speaking of attention-seeking (in a bad way), Laine occasionally falls in this category. Laine is my hardest kiddo, likely because we are so similar we butt heads. I’m often harder on her than I should be and because of this, she seeks my attention however she can get it. Good or bad. This is my daily struggle. It’s tough, especially when I recognize the pattern yet continue to partake. Mom problems. Anyway, after the recital, a grandfather came up to Brian and me and said how great Laine was, and that she was the best one up there. He asked how old she was and when we said four, he complimented her even more for her age. He said he wouldn’t take any of the others any day (we think that meant including his own grandkid, haha!). That felt great to hear, and she was the best one up there. She listened, followed the teacher, and actually sang. She even danced a little, too. Cute.

Laine’s in the forced smile that turns out to look really odd phase…

48-dec2015

Christmas cookies, one of the few things checked off the list of holiday things to do. I had big plans to start all these December traditions for the holidays and, well, this wasn’t the year. We did make cookies, sugar and snickerdoodles. My mixer hadn’t had so much action in the past 10 years than it did in December. Blaise is the egg cracker; he never gets a shell in the bowl. Laine took on the sugar and flour.

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I’m getting resourceful. We didn’t have any frosting so I was going to send Brian to the store pick some up. Until I realized I could make some at home. Of all places, I found a recipe on the back of the Target sugar package. It was really good. Sugary as hell but even Brian—who isn’t a frosting fan—said that you could taste that it was fresh (bad word choice but I get what he meant and agree).

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When Bob and Tara were here, they left several presents behind for the kiddos. And friends visiting the day before brought gifts for the kiddos, too. They each had their eye on which one present they wanted to open Christmas Eve.

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Christmas morning… happy kiddos. It was a low-key morning. We woke up a bit later than usual. Laine was the first one up of course, 7am on the dot. She was patient and snuggled with Brian until everyone was awake. The ridiculously big horse wasn’t wrapped so we wanted to get down first to see her reaction. And what a reaction! She didn’t see it at first. When she did, she lit up. Blaise was typical Blaise, focusing on everyone else before opening his gifts. We went with the four gift thing: something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read. (We’ll be sticking with this for the coming years.) We don’t do the Santa thing. The kiddos know everything is from us.

64-dec2015

I love how Saige looks like she just woke up and has no clue what is going on, because she did just wake up and had no clue what was going on.

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Christmas Snuggles and Mayah, the dog who keeps on going.

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Laine was gifted paint and went to town after breakfast.

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Blaise started in on his LEGO City set. We didn’t see him for a few hours. He didn’t want to stop for a picture but let me grab a few.

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Vaile was in milk coma not long after opening presents. Which isn’t unusual; it’s one of her natural states.

77-dec2015

My desk! Technically not a Christmas gift since I ordered it from West Elm back in November. It arrived just before Christmas and we had it set up Christmas Eve night. Coupled with my new laptop, too. I went MacBook Air this time—at Brian’s urging—and I’m happy I did. I was holding out on PC because of the Adobe Creative Suite software I bought back when I was heavily freelancing. Brian said to call Adobe and have them switch my license to Mac… good call. I’m all set up now, and I’m in love with the keyboard lights and being able to text from my laptop. It’s the simple things in life. =) And I’m in love with my desk (and chair, it came a few days later).

78-dec2015

Saige and her baby, sitting in its stroller. She and Blaise were playing family and she was the mom. Haha! On a separate note, I love my floors in this picture. So weird how they are always looking different. And annoying.

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The Christmas tree lit up before we took it down.

81-dec2015

Brian took the big kiddos out for the morning so it was just the little ones and me. I turned on the Backyardigans (or Back-Happy-Yardigans as Laine calls them) so I could unload the dishwasher without assistance. I’d never turned on a show for Saige before and I wasn’t sure it’d catch her interest. It did for about five minutes before she got up and assisted me.

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Vaile was unimpressed.

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Brian’s last week of paternity leave. He had been itching to take the kiddos to the Space Needle and ride the Monorail to play tourist for the day. So we went (it was cold!). The Space Needle was insane, probably because it was a week most people take off. We decided against the long lines and set our sights on the Monorail. We took it Westlake Center for lunch and then back to Seattle Center. Exiting the monorail was a cotton candy stand… we gave in and bought some. Man, that stuff is sugary. I’m getting old when I find candy to be too sweet.

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Brian took the big kiddos snow tubing up at Snoqualmie. We were all going to go but in my hermit state, I wanted to stay home. Not to mention I can’t find my snow boots anywhere and one glove is missing… excuses galore! Also, it would have been me corralling the little ones while the big kiddos tubed and I wasn’t really up for that. They left around 7:30am and were back by 12pm. Saige slept in until 11am (first time ever) so it was mostly Vaile and me hanging downstairs. The quiet was SO nice. My favorite thing is to have the house to myself… I love quiet and solitude.

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After taking the kiddos to the snow, Brian decided on starting ski lessons. He’d been going back and forth between skiing or snowboarding and where to have them take lessons. He decided skiing first and lessons at the indoor ski center in Bellevue.

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New Year’s Eve, nothing special. We went to Costco and the store to restock our pantry. We’ve actually been eating at home. And between all of us, we go through food quickly. I can only imagine having teenage boys. Back home, we all did our own thing for the afternoon. Laine played with her enormous horse named Jumpy (some days it’s Apples); Saige and Vaile napped; Brian and I enjoyed doing nothing; and Blaise did LEGOs, shocker! He made a LEGO box and was excited to show us his creation.

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After dinner, we celebrated the New Year with that Netflix kid countdown, followed by a dance party, and poppers out back. The kiddos were in bed at their normal time. When they’re older, they can stay up. I’m a sleep is important mom. Speaking of sleep, Brian and I were in bed as usual, around 10pm. On to 2016.

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