October Twenty Sixteen

Man, how things change in a year.

Last October we were packing up from our homeless stint in California, driving home earlier than planned thanks to my high blood pressure while pregnant. We had a whirlwind week of moving into an apartment sight-unseen, to having a baby three weeks earlier than planned, all while we were still waiting on the never-ending building of our new house.

This October, back to life as usual. We settled into routines and our weeks are now Groundhog Day like. And I’m cool with this. I like consistency.

October was spent cleaning every room and storage spot… from bedrooms and bathrooms to linen closets and silverware drawers. I purged like crazy. And then purged some more. If we hadn’t used something in a few months, gone. I purged clothes, sheets, kitchen utensils, excess furniture that was just there with no purpose… I even tossed holiday decorations that I got tired of storing for 11 months out of the year.

Dump runs are glorious. One of the best feelings. Although, they changed the dump. It used to be so much fun tossing things into the pit; now you toss things onto the ground for the front loader to pick up and move. (Note: I used front loader. Before kiddos, we were at a park and Brian saw a little boy playing with construction vehicles. Brian said something like, “That’s a cool tractor.” “It’s an excavator,” the kid said. Now we get it. So, front loader.)

Purging even crossed over to electronics. I purged apps on the kiddos’ iPads, deleting YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon video. (Saige has found Brian’s iPad with YouTube though… which, she gets to use when I need to get things done. Whatever.) I deleted emails from my inbox. I tossed DVDs; we can buy whatever we miss on Amazon so it’s stored online.

Even the kiddos got into the purging action. There were days Blaise and Laine would come out of their rooms with a bag of things to donate (because, “we don’t use this stuff anymore,” they’d say) and a bag of things to trash. I had a pile Hot Wheels cars Blaise asked me to, “Send to a country where kids don’t have these.”

Purge, then organize. Although technically, I organized and then purged from my organized stuff, and then reorganized the leftovers. I’ve always been an organizer. I remember my mom walking me to Paper Place, the local office supply store, when I was about five. I always wanted binders and folders, bins and boxes… I even remember getting this oversized paper clip I was so excited about. I organized then (my mom used to be so annoyed with me for alphabetizing the soup) and I organize now. And in my quest to purge and head down the minimal road, I read something like if you need to buy more storage to organize things, then you should get rid of more things. Something like that. Anyway, it stuck with me. My bin and box buying self.

The house is about 92% organized and purged. I have our master closet left—including all the clean clothes tossed on the floor I never fell like putting away—and two leftover IKEA Expedit 2×2 shelves with a few random things (that I’m not sure what I want to do with, probably get rid of since I cant come up with a need for them… I’m brainstorming as I type) in the ever-changing fifth bedroom. It was the art room, LEGO room, treadmill room, now it’ll be a spare bedroom. We think. The garage looks like a disaster but it’s stuff that needs to be donated, trashed, given away, etc. And there are those 10 boxes we brought home from cleaning my mom’s house out. My ultimate goal is to get things running like a well-oiled machine. If the house has less stuff, it’s easier (quicker) to clean for this clean freak. And if it’s clean all the time, then it’ll be easy to remember to bring in the kiddos backpacks and empty them out right away; toss their outdoor school clothes right in the washing machine because it’ll be free; never have a dirty dish sit in the sink because I’ll be caught up on dishes all the time; be able to easily get out the door for a walk when we feel like it since our shoes will be where they go and the snack bins will be clean to easily pack… ultimately, focusing on less time spent doing household work the moment it’s needed and having everything it its place at all times, unless it’s being used.

I read an article earlier this week about how parents spend an average of four hours a day on housework. It sounds absurd. And the comments are awful. (Well, every top comment on the Daily Mail is awful; the Daily Mail is awful. Ignore the news source… using news loosely.) And I get it. It does sound absurd. But I relate. Between making beds, daily laundry, cleaning up bathrooms after kiddos use them to brush teeth or whatever they do in there, cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner and cleaning up after each meal, dishes (damn dishes), constantly picking up toys or art supplies on the floor, loading and unloading the backpack and van for outings… and the dogs and cats who also need to be fed and cleaned up after. It’s not a straight four hour chunk. But it’s four hours. At least. I suppose I could leave some until the end of the day. But that’s my time. I’m selfish. I get about two hours kiddo-free at night before I go to bed. I don’t want to spend that time cleaning. The kiddos help… when asked. (I don’t believe in assigned chores. This is spot on.) They are amazing at getting the bonus room in tip-top shape. Except that one time they cleaned by stuffing everything in whatever bin they could find. Now they put things where they go. Because they know if they stuff things in random places, I will dump it all out and they will have to put it away correctly. Someone is an organizational freak.

So, yeah. October was purge-filled. And it put us in a decent position to finish up in November and get to that well-oiled machine. We’re SO close.

I probably should have made a post about my purging and organizing and whatever. I ramble. I’m not organized in my head.

Back to October… as usual, I need pictures to remember what all we did. Here goes, in order:

Laine date. In September, I took Blaise on a killer date. We went to the LEGO exhibit at the Pacific Science Center followed by lunch at the Space Needle. Normally we go somewhere simple. I owe Laine lunch at the Space Needle (booked for December, after a play). Until I can find time to take her, we’re sticking with simple: lunch and pottery painting. We met Katherine for lunch in Woodinville first. As we were leaving the restaurant, I was saying how I wish Woodinville had a pottery place so I didn’t have to head into Redmond (on a Saturday). Just as I was saying this, I looked to the left before walking into the parking lot and there it was. A now open sign. On a pottery painting place. We didn’t even have to drive anywhere. Score.

Laine painted three things: a cupcake piggy bank, a unicorn figurine, and a star ornament for the Christmas tree. I painted a bowl. Normally I’m a solid color person. I attempted to get creative. It turned out alright; it’s much darker than the pre-kiln. She had a great time. It’s always nice spending one-on-one time with each kiddo.

Those are legitimate pictures of her painting. They almost look like those cheesy, staged stock photos.

Hotrod Harley. Laine has moved up from riding Hershey to Harley, a bigger horse. She’s so tiny on him that he doesn’t feel her kick commands. They have her using spurs and whips to help. It’s pretty fun watching her ride. I know absolutely nothing about horse riding but I can tell she’s good. She’s natural up there. And her trainer’s father—who has been in the horse business forever—said, “Someone that young shouldn’t be that good.” We’re proud of her.


Homeschool days. We’ve been doing this homeschool thing since September. Loosely but still. The kiddos love math and worksheets. I print out several and they choose a few each time we math it up. It’s really fun to see their lightbulbs go off and their skills improve each time they sit down. Laine puts stars on her papers herself, haha.


I have a laminator. So awesome. I’ve actually had a laminator for a few years… sitting unopened in its box. It moved with us from Issaquah to storage to Carnation, where it sat lonely in the back of the closet. In my purging mode, I found it and actually told a friend I’d give it to her. I kept forgetting about the sucker. And then I made raindrop numbers for sequencing. I needed a laminator. Sorry, friend (she was cool about it, haha).

It’s amazing to me how willing kiddos are to learn. They want to learn. School killed that in me after a few years. I want more for my kiddos. I want them to love learning. Always crave learning. (I could go on and on about homeschooling and why. I’ll stop.) These silly little raindrop numbers are a huge hit. They line them up in order, by twos, threes, fives, do simple addition… I need to make more. Blaise sequencing on that awful, old carpet (it’s gone).


B is for bird. I remember doing a letter each week in kindergarten. We used paper lunch bags if I remember correctly. I use Google. We make a craft, practice letter writing, and then make up a story about the craft focus. The plan is to make a book after all the letters, with their stories for each letter.

A little preview of a B story (HAHA, cute):

There once was a bird and he lived next door to an owl. The owl moved away and the bird was so alone. There was a boy bird and a girl bird, and they moved in to the old owl’s house. And then the old owl moved to a tree house. The new birds liked to go to swimming pools and hot tubs. Then the birds went to go get a computer. The computer broke and an explosion happened. The whole bird town was on fire. They called the fireman and the firebirds asked, “Who did this?” The birds said the computer exploded and started the fire. They put it out and there was smoke. They had a Halloween party where did they did art projects, shot bows and arrows, and when the party was over they gave fun bags with candy to their friends. Then they went to go have a baby. When the baby was born they had to take care of it until it was four. After the baby grew up they decided they wanted to move to a new house.

Weather art. Each week we work with a theme. All made up by me. With each theme, we do an art project. We made weather-mobiles. I guess that’s what they’d be called? It comes in handy while homeschooling having a graphic design background and the Adobe Design Suite. And a laminator. Laminators are awesome.

Blaise was so quick to cut his out. They’re more like an octagon or decagon than a circle. That’s the beauty of art; it’s subjective. Laine is slow and methodical.

O is for owl. Brian made these with the kiddos. On a Saturday. Did I mention I love homeschooling?! There are owl stories, too. And just as adorable as the bird ones. Blaise named his owl Bob; Laine named her owl Janelle.

Weekly Costco run. Weekly. We go through so.much.food. You can’t see the two things of Costco strawberries, four things of raspberries, and all the other fruit we go through in days (days!). Some stuff lasts two weeks, maybe three. Our food budget is growing as the kiddos grow. I texted Brian this picture. (I don’t usually take pictures of our groceries.) I always go to Costco when he’s at work, which means I have to unload the van. There are things he does, and things I do… I’m not the van unloader.


Farrel-McWhirter. Have I mentioned I love this park?! Really, any post from 2012 probably overly expresses my love of FM. It was our go-to park, multiple times each week. Back in the townhouse living days. Memories. We met up with a friend whom the kiddos went to preschool with last year. She’s in her last year of Outdoor Preschool while Blaise and Laine have moved up to Outdoor Explorers. They all had class that morning so we met up after at FM. And as usual, we spent hours there. Swings, animals, water play, tire swings, tree climbing, leaves… good times.

One! Vaile hit one on October 7. It’s fun having a little one-year-old. All the others were brutes and walking by one. She’s still this little baby-like kiddo, perfectly happy in life. As the big kiddos say, “Life is good when you’re Vaile.” I’d also say life is good when you have a Vaile.


Trampoline. I’m convinced the trampoline net inventor had a baby. It’s not really about safety; it’s about creating a massive baby cage. Mid-air and mid-sneeze.

Pumpkin patch. Craven Farm is an annual tradition for us. It started long before kiddos. We went last year before Vaile was even a week old. This year we went on her birthday. Erin and Sophie met us there for rubber duck racing, hay mazing, tree climbing, pumpkin patching… all sorts of good stuff. We spent a little over two hours there and then went into downtown Snohomish to grab a pie at the Snohomish Pie Company. (Brian loves pie and I’m a good wife, haha.) We scored. They close at 5pm and we got there about 4:30pm. We ordered a pie to go for Brian, and Blaise and Laine had a slice of pie there. While they were eating, one of the young gals there came over and asked if we wanted any day-old pies. We each walked away with a free pie. Brian didn’t need two so I picked a pecan pie for Mike. We left after pie for home, to celebrate Vaile’s birthday.

Saige: tree series. Saige watches the big kiddo climb trees and she desperately wants to climb them, too. She found one more her size and had a blast.


Vaile: apple series. There were so many apples on the ground under the trees the kiddos were climbing. Vaile quickly started eating one, and then another, and then two at once… she was in love, apples galore.

Cake! Vaile turned one.

Sleeping Saige. She couldn’t make it for the cake celebration. She crashed in about two seconds once we got home from the pumpkin patch outing. Is it creepy I take pictures of the kiddos sleeping?!

Halloween decorations. Brian and the kiddos decorated the front of our house for Halloween. Our neighborhood was pretty festive. Several houses had some decorations up… including the one with the guillotine. Brian had a lovely conversation with the big kiddos about capital punishment on the way to school one morning. Blaise knew all their decorations. And when they’d add a few more, he knew exactly when they were added and which ones.

Note about our house at night above… I still am loving our daylight LEDs. Yellow light is not for us. A few other houses have them now and we notice right away, haha.

Happy kiddos, all in one shot! Tara’s (Wawa as the kiddos call her) birthday was on October 8. We always plan to make a card and drop it in the mail… and then every time I remind myself how terrible I am at anything snail mail. So we snapped a picture of the card and texted Tara.

Marshmallow math. I remember learning how to spell marshmallow. It doesn’t make sense. It should be spelled the way it sounds. Eh, anyway. Laine uses her fingers to count. Which is totally fine by me. But she was working on math that added to more than the fingers she has. Solution: marshmallows. Blaise magically appeared wanting to work on his math. He already has the addition thing down but had to have marshmallows to count also.

C is for car. We’re jumping around the alphabet. Laine wasn’t into cars so she did an H is for horse, which I didn’t take pictures of apparently. Blaise is going through a silly posing phase for pictures. I think we’re past the awkward smile phase.

Vaile portrait. Blaise drew Vaile. She was wearing the heart pajamas (in the Tara picture above). I love how our kiddos are always doing art. And I love their creativity. Sometimes though, I have to laugh at their work. I still adore all of their art. On a side note, Brian had listened to one of his regular podcasts and found it funny enough to tell me about (this will come back to the portrait). There was a conversation about whether you’d rather have a neck double the length of your current one or a chunky robot body with a clunky but functional robot dick (their words, about five minutes in). This art—which is hanging in the art room—makes us think of the podcast conversation every time.


Corn! When we were at Craven Farm, we picked up some ears of corn. The kiddos helped shuck the corn before we cooked it with dinner. They did a great job.

Braid. Poor Laine. She desperately wants cool hair styles. And she’s stuck with me. I only do ponytails (high, low, or side) or pigtails (with a crooked part). I can braid a ponytail but that’s as fancy as I get. I’ve never been a hair person and with my sister being a professional one, I always had her if I needed something growing up. Carrie was here and was kind enough to braid Laine’s hair. Laine always asks us to take a picture so she can see, hence the picture. I need to learn girl hair. Better yet, Brian. He’s better at that sort of stuff. I should add, I find it interesting she wants hair styles when she barely lets me brush her hair (if you can’t tell from pictures).


Random art. One of the best decisions we’ve made with this house is converting the dining room to an art room. We would never use a dining room. (Maybe on holidays. Probably not.) The art room is used daily. There’s a kid in there at least once an hour doing some sort of art project or using the table for a puzzle or whatever… always fun stuff. And right now, as I work on this long post, they are in there with a friend who is over. Laine and Sophie are drawing unicorns while Blaise makes Play-Doh creations. Below, I bought Saige shoes and Blaise quickly took the shoe box and started painting. Laine grabbed some paper and joined in. This is exactly why we wanted an art space.

Storage head. We have one kitchen cabinet I don’t lock: the plastic food storage cabinet. It keeps Vaile busy climbing in-and-out, and playing with the storage containers.

Sorry! The big kiddos are all about board games. We don’t play 100% by the rules and we help each other out, trading better turns for others, but we play. And it’s fun. We managed a game of Sorry! during the day while the little ones napped. We usually play after the little ones go to bed, before Blaise and Laine hit the hay. It wasn’t until half-way through the deck of cards that I realized they took out all the Sorry! cards. Oh well, nobody had to start over.


Parking garage. Magna-Tiles have been one of the best toy investments. In fact, I should buy another set. All the kiddos like and use them, and they’ve been going strong since Blaise was one. This day he was making a parking garage and asked me to take his picture and put it online so other kids could make one, too. It’s interesting raising kiddos in an online age. We had AOL, cell phones, and computers growing up but I clearly remember when all the advancements with each technology happened. To watch the kiddos naturally want to touch screens and ask me to Google something, fun times.

Rainbow. I have no recollection of this day. I walk Melvin and Blaise must have joined me. It looks like it was a Thursday given his school clothes.


Camping. The kiddos set up a campsite in Blaise’s room. Saige joined in on the fun.


Doughnut face. I brought home doughnuts after one of Laine’s horse lessons. Saige enjoyed a chocolate one.

Monday walk. Have I mentioned I love Carnation? And homeschooling? The kiddos asked if we could go for a walk. Sure, why not. I checked the weather (why I waste my time, I never know). No rain until the afternoon. We left. No rain clothes and then it rained 10 minutes out. We decided to go with it. We walked up the trail to the 203 and back, and then decided since we were already out we’d hit the library. The kiddos each picked out a few books while Saige was drawn to the computers. Vaile slept in the stroller. Fun morning. We were home for lunch and a quiet afternoon.

Guess Who? My favorite game as a kiddo. Target had the retro (I’m old) version so I picked one up. It’s quickly become a favorite with the kiddos. They play it almost daily, and we play it before bed some nights. The questions they come up with are entertaining.

The baby dummy. Blaise wanted to add to the Halloween decorations outside. He picked out a pumpkin to use as a head and I gave him one of Saige/Vaile’s old outfits that is too small (Vaile moved up to 18 month clothing). Blaise stuffed it with newspaper and it sat around the house for a few days. It kept catching the corner of my eye and I’d have to remember it wasn’t a kid… it was a dummy.


Homeschool science. Every-other Wednesday (or at least we try), we meet up with a few other homeschooling friends to work on science. This day we traced bodies and added major organs. I felt all teacher-like the night before, cutting things out and preparing for the project.

Sloth astronaut. Brian has been obsessed with the sloth since it made its rounds on reddit a few years back. I was ordering a rug for the kitchen so I added the sloth to use as front door mat.


Kitchen rug. In reference to all the damn dishes I do all day, every day.


New carpet. FINALLY. Talk about the longest process ever. Actually, no. The longest process goes to getting into the house. When we bought the house, the standard carpet was similar to a carpet we’ve had in the past. That carpet matted within months. Having that experience, we decided to upgrade our carpet, specifically asking for a carpet that wouldn’t wear or mat easily. We knew this was possible. After our experience with the carpet in our last place that did mat within months, we replaced it with an amazing carpet that still looked brand new a year later… with the same amount of foot traffic. Well, the upgraded carpet was matted within a month of living here. Not a happy homeowner. I emailed the builder and after many months of being given the runaround, we were eventually told they’d replace our carpet, the whole house. We had a carpet representative come out and examine our vacuum; we sent pictures; we reviewed warranties; we were laughed at by one carpet representative who said, “You think they’ll replace your carpet? That’s not going to happen.” Guess what? It did happen not so nice carpet representative man. While I was worked up on the inside and bitched enough to Brian, I’ve learned in my almost 38 years that if you remain calm and ask nicely, you eventually get what you want. Patience.

I first complained in February… new carpet was installed late October. I will say they were on it with the replacement process. They dropped the POD off Monday; the movers came Tuesday morning, followed by the carpet guys who ripped the old carpet up and installed the new carpet; the movers were back Wednesday morning to put everything back; and the POD was gone Thursday morning. The painter came the following Monday to touch up a few nicks on the baseboards and walls from all the action. It was a smooth process. And we LOVE the new carpet. It’s what we should have had at first. Silly me for trusting the design center representative.

And since we had everything taken out, I took advantage of purging even more. I also rearranged the bonus room which looks better now. I really should take pictures of our house. I still have been putting off the house buying post…


Thursday morning trail walk. There weren’t many kiddos in the neighborhood when we first moved in. And as more people moved in, it was mostly families with grown children. Finally, families with kiddos started moving in mid-summer. Score! Saige, Vaile, and I went on a walk with one of the neighbors and her kiddos (Blaise and Laine were at Outdoor Explorers). In typical Saige fashion, she stripped down. There’s a reason why I usually keep her in zippy sack pajamas, backwards.

Pumpkin dissection. Blaise grabbed a knife and a pumpkin, and went out back. I was curious what his plans were… pumpkin dissection. Of course Laine had to join in.

LEGO City. Blaise has been working on his own LEGO creation, making a city. He adds to it a little more each day. It’s probably double the size of this now.


LEGO class. The kiddos went to the LEGO Haunted House event at PlayWell. Blaise usually attends the monthly maker workshop and always wants Laine to go. Laine doesn’t enjoy LEGOs like Blaise does. Part making him happy and part getting to do something, she agrees to go to the special LEGO events. Blaise had a blast, as usual. Laine put up with being there, a trooper. After, I took the kiddos to dinner and then shopping to get Saige and Vaile some clothes… they both grew and also needed winter clothes. It’s a rare treat to have the two big ones only. I didn’t realize this until it was only the three of us out. We were going to eat at Red Robin (shocker) but the wait was almost an hour. We ended up at MOD Pizza instead.

Dress-up solution. All the dress-up costumes were stuffed in a bin. I had a brilliant idea to hang them in the cabinet already in the bonus room. I bought a pole and hangers, and there you go. I’m smart sometimes.


Melvin walk. A random picture from a typical Melvin walk with almost naked trees. I love the trails around here. And I love long early morning walks.


Sammy! Our newest, oldest addition. Ever since Mayah died, it’s been lonely. Melvin has moped around, I feel like I’m missing something, and yet it was sort of nice not having that added responsibility. We weren’t going to get another dog. Melvin is easy, young, and having only one makes life easy (easier maybe). And then three weeks after Mayah died, my friend needed to find a foster home for her mom’s almost 14-year-old dog due to some health issues. I said we’d take the little guy. He’s been with us since October 30 and we’ve since adopted him as ours. He’s the funniest guy, full of personality. Melvin likes the company and the kiddos have taken to him. Especially Blaise, who calls himself a dog person. Vaile loves all the dog toys he came with.

Pumpkin carving. Brian prepared pumpkins for carving the night before. We waited until the last possible minute to carve them… 5pm on Halloween.

Halloween. That came quickly. We had Dorothy, Rocky, and a princess. Saige was going to be an astronaut but never wanted to wear the costume. It isn’t Halloween unless a kid changes their mind. A friend came over to head out with us. The three kiddos and I left at 6pm, leaving a sleeping Vaile and Brian home to hand out candy. The plan was to hit our neighborhood with Saige and then the big kids would continue on to the surrounding neighborhood. I lasted about 12 houses with Saige. That kid. She’d knock and if they didn’t answer quick enough, she’d open the door and walk on in. Ugh. I took her back home. She wasn’t about to miss out so after we looped back by our house, I traded with Brian. He finished our neighborhood up with the three and called it good. They made out… full-sized candy bars and all.

A slideshow of attempts to get a great picture of all three. Nearly impossible. Never a California thing growing up… long johns needed up here.

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And there went October.

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