Melvin and I like to hit the trails almost daily. At least five times a week. We have a set 3.96 mile loop starting from home, to Snoqualmie Valley Trail, to Tolt River Trail, through Tolt MacDonald park, and then through downtown before making it back home. Sometimes I spice it up and we reverse it. I’m wild like that. And sometimes we run if we’re feeling good (as if Melvin has a say). I look forward to these trail outings… they clear my head and reset my mood. Nothing like fresh air and solitude.
There are a few sections where the trail bends and visibility in both directions is maybe 20-30 feet. I generally feel safe, not terribly concerned about anything happening. More fearful of coming upon a cougar than a rapist. But last week, I was on one of the sections with limited visibility. And there was this guy walking toward me. He was wearing those pants where you can zip off the legs and they become shorts, and a hiking backpack. I didn’t think much of him other than Brian has some of those shorts/pants things and I’m not a fan. Nothing says I’m middle-aged with money to burn at REI than those suckers.
I always make eye contact and say hello to people I pass. This guy though, right as we were in the section of the trail where we couldn’t be seen, stops. I kept walking and looked at him, preparing to say hello. He never looked at me and instead pulled out his phone and started messing with the thing. He somewhat turned away from me and faced the greenery along his side of the trail. My are you a potential rapist vibe went off… was he going to wait until I pass and then come from behind, and drag me into the wooded area?! I passed him and turned around to check on him a few times until I was visible by others. He was still standing there, messing with his phone. Spoiler: he wasn’t a rapist. He was just your average middle-age guy out getting some exercise, totally unaware that he could be perceived as threatening. Brian runs on the trails. And I tell him, there are women you pass who think you could be a rapist.
Most men are perfectly harmless. Maybe unintentionally creepy but still harmless. I often wonder how many men realize they are viewed as potential threats going about their day. Like the guy about to get on an empty elevator with a woman. Or the guy who decides to take an open bus seat next to a woman. Or the guy out for a walk on the remote section of a trail. That’s when those be EXTRA aware senses kick in, when I’m in certain situations. I’m always aware. I can’t help it. Life as a female. And now having four daughters—and one son—I know I have to deal with this as they get older… making the girls aware of potential dangers and how to protect themselves, and making Blaise aware how to not make women feel creeped out. All without making it seem like the world is a terrible place. Because it’s pretty damn safe, and the safest it’s ever been.
Related: the John Mulaney subway station chase.
But yeah, trails. I got sidetracked. Mel and I spent many January days on the trails. I’m finally inspired to kick this baby weight from Maive… and Baby four years ago, haha. I still have pounds to go but I’m feeling good about them coming off. It was tough there, having a baby and then going straight into the holiday season, along with bad trail walking weather. I can tell I’m getting older though. I didn’t raid the kiddos’ Halloween buckets or partake in eating any Christmas candy. Candy just doesn’t do it for me anymore. But Christmas cookies, I’m all in.
Okay, January highlights and pictures.
It’s now 24 years that Brian and I have been together. We were 17 and 18 back in 1996, and here we are in our early forties (with five kiddos!) in 2020. People like to talk badly about high school relationships and getting married young. It’s cool, they speak from their own bad experiences. But no complaints here.
I found this comment years ago on a Yahoo article. It’s well said, very eloquently put. And spot of for Brian and me.
“When people marry young, there are two possible outcomes. They are either not mature enough, that’s one group. But there is another group, the group that bond together so completely that they are much more likely to withstand the stresses of time. I think that group is not only the most stable, but the most happy. I think they are the group that better understands the true meaning of love. While people marrying in their thirties and beyond have some core stability, but their relationship is based more in the practical matters of life. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that young folks catch a bad wrap sometimes, when in actuality, they can bond much more deeply if they start out mature enough in the first place. In short, mature young folks understand true love much better than the older groups.”
Brian and I bonded. And I think that’s why I find marriage to be so easy. People make it out to be hard. Maybe it is for them. I don’t want to take away the experiences of others. But from my experience, it’s been a smooth ride… we grew up together, navigated life as a team. Still are. That’s the plan for another 53 years. Because I’m going to live until at least 94. I want to live longer than Nan. Even if just by one measly day.
Another trip around the sun. I turned 41 in January. Brian and the kiddos decorated and made a homemade cake. It was a simple celebration.
January was pretty dull. Nothing exciting happened. There were several home days. And if I’m totally honest, the kids spent most of the month playing Roblox when we were home. Eh, it was much needed downtime after the excitement of everything Maive and holidays. We did have a snow week, that was fun. And Brian was still home on paternity leave. So, pictures…
Blaise date. Life with a bunch of kiddos makes coordination a requirement. And I’m pretty damn good at it; I like anything organization. It was a Friday and Laine was set to hang out at a friend’s house… until I decided to register her for a Totally Technicolor day camp at the pottery place. The big kiddos have attended their day camps before and they love them. Blaise had no interest in this one. The projects were super cool (stolen from the camp site): color blast plaque, kaleidoscopic bowl, super splatter figurine, vivid glass fused project and tie dye shirt.
Instead of Laine going to her buddy’s house, she and her buddy went to the camp. Blaise and I dropped off Laine at 10am and made plans to go to his buddy’s house at 10:30am. We played there until 12:30pm, when we left for a lunch date together. Blaise wanted to hit the Mexican restaurant here in town. No objections from me, Mexican is my favorite food if I had to pick.
Blaise went with a watermelon milkshake, which sounds awful to me but he enjoyed the thing. We ate, chatted, and left for home so Brian could leave to grab Laine from the camp and head to gymnastics practice.
Frog chair. Miss Maive debuted her frog chair in January. She finally had strong enough neck muscles to pull it off.
Hiker kiddos. The kiddos were driving us nuts, arguing over who would do Roblox first. We only have two computers set up for the kiddos; they have to rotate. I decided some outside time was needed. There is an evacuation trail up the hill behind our house. For if (when?!) the dam breaks… hopefully never. The kiddos bundled up and we left for the trail. It was MUCH needed. I really think outside time resets kiddos. Hell, even me.
Ski / snowboard kiddos. Saigers started skiing lessons again this January. And since she has to go, Brian takes Blaise and Laine. They switched to snowboarding this year. Blaise decided to hang at home this day. He’s like me, a homebody.
Saige did well and was moved up to the next skill group. Go, Saige! We are still amazed how well Saige has taken to skiing. She is so not the kid we thought would love skiing and do well. We were wrong. Laine took to snowboarding fairly well. This was her first time on the snow with her board. She had one indoor lesson back in October to get a feel for things.
Maive! This was her first time in a onsie and pants, and socks! She rocked it.
Lab rats. Back when Blaise was a baby, I signed him up to participate in UW social and behavioral studies. He’s been going to different studies since he was about a year old. I’ve since signed up Laine, and this was her first time participating.
Tree down. Mel and I were on the Tolt River Trail and a big ass tree had fallen down. I’m kind of bummed, with all the flooding it has since washed away. I liked seeing it across the river; someone had cut off the part blocking the trail.
Zoo. Brian and I took the three youngest gals to the zoo while Blaise and Laine were at class all day. It was cold. And we had a great time.
DigiPen kiddos! Another semester at DigiPen started in January. Saige was super excited that she finally got to go. This is her first semester and it won’t be her last. She is sold on being a big kid and going to DigiPen. They are all taking astronomy. Blaise and Laine are also taking an electronics class, and Saige a drawing class. I LOVE having schooling options. Traditional school is so… boring. Haha.
Not DigiPen and no photos, but Blaise and Laine also started a new program in January. It’s a writing class for homeschoolers, each Thursday for six hours. I am in LOVE with the program. It’s at the tree farm here in town, in the loft at the barn. The loft is cozy, with couches and different spaces for the kiddos to get comfortable. And there is a class dog. I’m hearing wonderful things about what they’re learning… including working on a letter to a company of their choice, offering suggestions on something to change. The teacher is super socially aware and the program feels hippy and progressive… exactly what I want for my kiddos.
And between all the fun learning, the kiddos get outdoor time at Tolt MacDonald—rain or shine. Each week when I pick up the kiddos, Blaise is in only his long johns. I even love how they don’t have to wear shoes in the loft. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than this class.
Sleeping Maive. She sleeps more than she’s awake. Exactly what a growing baby should be doing.
Outdoor preschool tour. The outdoor preschool our kiddos attend is moving locations come summer. They held an open house at the new location so current families could check it out. It was pouring rain, like a shower head. We bundled up and went for it. I’m bummed they’re moving because I love the farm where they’ve been since Blaise and Laine started back in 2015. But I’m happy with the new location. It’s a great piece of property and the location is slightly better. Baby has one year left and Saige will go to the 5-9-year-old outdoor program starting in September.
Brian and his much loved Bjorn. He will wear a baby any day. And our first family photo of all seven of us. It counts, even if you can’t see our faces.
Sunday walkers. Brian had taken Saige to her skiing lesson up at Snoqualmie, and Blaise and Laine tagged along to snowboard. This left Baby, Maive and me at home. I bundled up the girls and we headed out for a morning walk. Maive has no idea she ever left home; I never saw an eyeball.
We left with no plan… we ended up at Sandy’s. Baby ordered a cookie and Naked juice. She slowly ate about five bites and then asked to take the rest of the cookie home.
Baby hit every puddle we came across. I had a proud mom moment. There was a massive puddle in the Carnation Cafe parking lot. Like swimming pool sized. Baby was jumping and having a blast when an older woman parked. She got out of her car and complimented me on letting Baby jump around in the puddle. She said something like most moms wouldn’t let that happen. I said that’s what puddles are for.
Snow bunnies. The older three up at the snow with Brian.
Lucky kiddos, their buddies met them there for a day of snow fun. We miss this family. They moved to the other side of the Pass and we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. I’m glad it worked out to meet at the snow.
Snow! It snowed. And snowed. It wasn’t supposed to snow as much as it did, according to the weather folks. They were wrong. Shocker. No complaints here. I love the snow, and I love it even more when things shut down and we get forced home days. We ended up with a week off.
Chatty Maive. Just a cute baby, in her frog chair, chatting.
More sleep. And more growing.
Art room. With the forced home days thanks to the snow, I took on purging and reorganizing the art room (aka dining room that we don’t need). My poor victims on the windowsill. I think 3/5 are dead now.
Snow walk. Mel and I hit the snowy trails. This was on my birthday. We went to REI in the morning and I bought Gore-Tex hiking shoes to keep my tootsies nice and dry. They worked out well. I imagine I’ll put them to good use.
Snowboarder Blaise. Not snowboarding. Sometimes I think he likes playing in the snow more than snowboarding (or skiing).
Gymnastics Laine. Meet season started in January. She placed fifth. And Laine! This kid is a raffle winner. I swear she wins every raffle. In kindergarten, at DigiPen, all the kiddos were entered into a raffle to win an art basket. Guess who won? And last year at her school up the street, all the kiddos who entered art into the district’s art competition were automatically entered to win a gift certificate to Blake’s Pizza. Guess who won? There have been about five other raffles where… guess who won?! It’s become a joke in our family, that if there is a raffle to put Laine’s name on the ticket. This meet probably had over 300 gymnasts. She won the raffle. Of course she did.
She also did well at the meet. She placed fifth in her age / level. Not too shabby. I couldn’t care less if she gets fifth or last place, as long as she enjoys herself and has fun.
I managed a bun! I feel cursed having four girls; I can’t do girl hair if my life depended on it… except I can do a bun now. I’m impressed with myself, haha.
Kiddos! Laine must have been at gymnastics practice because I know she’d be all over these pictures if she were home. Baby was home but doing her own thing.
The blue-eyed gang. Brian, Laine, and Baby have brown eyes. These three and I have blue eyes. It’s kind of funny, the pattern is every-other kiddo: blue, brown, blue, brown, blue.
Entertaining Maive. They learned this song from their buddies they met at the snow… I heard it for a week straight. Yay.
Snugs help. Snugs was helping Blaise with schoolwork. More like sitting on his schoolwork while he worked. She loves these kiddos. Every night as Laine is getting ready for bed, she is hanging around waiting for Laine to hop in bed. The minute Laine has her head on the pillow, Snugs settles down next to Laine for the night. She also helps Blaise do LEGOs.
Magnatiles (and Magformers). These suckers and the IKEA train track are the two toys that have lasted since Blaise was under one. Best toy investments for sure. This was all Blaise. He made a Magnatile tower and then tossed Magformers to stick to the thing until it shattered. He even took pictures.
Meet Laine. Laine went to her second meet of the season. She placed seventh I think? Happy kiddo.
Mister Mel! Just a cute pup on the bed. And a pillow that I need to cut the tag off of, oops.
Crazy hair. Maive has crazy hair sometimes.
Monster! Saige drew and painted a monster in her DigiPen drawing class. She is LOVING the class.
Random January things. 1. I went to a PCC Cooking class. And I tried some very interesting vegan stuff. Nothing I’ll make at home but pretty tasty. 2. Brian ordered mountain bike helmets for Blaise and Laine. Blaise wanted the American flag helmet… I vetoed. Sorry kiddo. Nothing wrong with the American flag, other than I personally associate it with all things conservative, including that President person. So yeah, sorry kiddo. 3. My RHR fell below 60 bpm… one of my goals for this year. One of the few times I can actually check off completing a New Year goal, haha.
January, check. On to February… no complaints yet.
I just started walking here at my Mom’s…a very rural neighborhood…and there are some stretches of road where I actually freaked myself out wondering what the HECK I would do if I saw a man walking towards me. I mean, I’ve Googled what to do if I encounter a vicious dog or a bear or a mountain lion…but seriously, what do we DO???
As I was walking and freaking, I was like “It would be pointless to try to turn and run. There’s woods on both sides of the road and no houses or people close ahead or behind me.”
I don’t know. Just fight like hell I guess?????
But yah, it’s awful that we have to look at every lone man on the street or the trail as potential danger.
As for the rest of your post, your kids are too cute and it sounds like they have some awesome and fun learning adventures! I remember how much I hated school and sitting in a boring classroom all day. LOL
I don’t have the answer but I always carry mace and stay aware of my surroundings. And someone always knows where I am and when to expect me. I tell Brian, “If I’m not home by X come looking for me.” And yeah, fight like hell if needed. Although, I remember reading somewhere, a defense expert suggested going limp because you become dead weight. No idea if that’s a common recommendation but it’s something that has stuck with me. Enjoy your walks! You’re likely super safe. =)