February Twenty Twenty

February was long for a short month. And not a very exciting month. Unless you count a sunny day as exciting. Seattle had its first sunny day after 80 days on February 18. Not a cloud in the sky. I celebrated by closing all the blinds and curtains, waiting for sunset. I should be ashamed, being a Native Californian and all. Sunshine should be in my blood.

It’s back to being overcast. And I’m back into a routine. Yeah, those have zero relation. Bear with me. Let me try that again without a lame attempt at stringing two ideas together: I’m back into a routine. I was going to go with the even lamer sunshine may not be in my blood but routines are. Haha. I’m not feeling blogish today. Is blogish a word? Doubtful.

Routines, life back to normal. That’s where I was going. Brian went back to work the first week of February after 14 weeks off. Having him home was amazing. It makes my life much easier. Not that my life is hard. But having him home meant I didn’t have to drag all the kiddos with me every time I left. Or even better, he Ubered the kiddos around. And meals, he likes to cook. I can count on one hand how many meals I made in those 14 weeks. And sleep! He happily fed Maive in the night so I could sleep, and then he’d get up in the morning with all the kids so I could sleep in. He knows me well. And he probably didn’t want to be around me if I didn’t get enough sleep (not recommended).

So many benefits to having him home, aside from literally just having him home. I kind of like the guy. But I was ready for him to go back. Ready for normality, routines. With him home, it’s super easy to say, “Screw routines! Let’s do this instead of that since you’re not usually around during the week.” Except I need routines. Especially with five kiddos. And while I’d love to have Brian around all the time—with routines—that whole work thing gets in the way.

Now I’m back to playing again mom all week, plus a baby. No complaints. I actually enjoy the mom thing, even on the days I don’t. Maive has been a champ and adjusted to life with four older siblings going here and there, and everywhere. Tossing in a baby with four highly active kids isn’t ideal. Totally manageable with a routine though.

Think I should use the word routine some more? I only used it a measly nine times above. Let’s make it 10.

Blog routine: talk about the month. February summarized.

Before summarizing, our routine is now off again. Thanks, Coronavirus. We are at the center of the outbreak here in King County, with the most U.S. deaths just 15 miles away in Kirkalnd (where the nursing home is located). Things around here are eerie and interesting. It feels like everything is shutting down. Expect Costco. I’m fairly certain if you want germs, Costco is where you go. I went two days ago to get gas… there were no lines for gas but the line outside of Costco was maybe 100 people? And it was 20 minutes before they opened. I don’t quite understand the toilet paper hoarding but whatever makes people feel better. Even Amazon Fresh, no delivery times for days—I’ve never had to wait more than three hours. People are preparing. And that’s probably a good thing. It never hurts to be prepared.

Brian is home again. His work has told everyone to work from home until the end of March, along with many other employers in the area. Some school districts are closing and holding classes online, while some school districts are remaining open but cancelling everything outside of the school day. Even cities are cancelling events. No meetings, movie nights, social gatherings, nothing. There was a picture of Pike Place Market yesterday… I didn’t even recognize it without people! And traffic, almost non-existent. It’s crazy. Hopefully this passes quickly and there are no more deaths. And I can get back to my damn routines, ha! Interesting times around here.

February, summarized.

February has unintentionally become my annual planning month. Between December and March, all things summer activities are released—and almost everything fall. Having been in the mom game almost 10 years now, I have learned some things. Like don’t wait until May to look for summer activities. Parents up here take all things kid activities seriously. And I’ve become one of them. My registration game is strong. Like setting an alarm to get up early on a weekend… it’s a good thing I did. Registration for a week-long mountain bike camp opened at 6am on a Saturday. By mid-morning, the camps that worked for our schedule were all full. And by that evening, all camps were full and wait lists started.

Camps, check. Between summer camps, getaways. Planned those also. Not many this year. I’ve been enjoying being home more. It might have something to do with the whole having a baby thing. It’s easier to be home. And staying home more keeps costs down. We want to go to Maui next January to celebrate 25 years together. Maui isn’t cheap. Maui with five kiddos really isn’t cheap.

That whole routine thing? Notice the agains. The getaway lineup:

Brian will take the four to Camp Orkila again this year. And we’re set to go to Cannon Beach again, to the same hotel (and even the same hotel room, ha!). And of course we’ll go before traditional school is out for the summer. Avoid crowds at all costs. I’ve been doing it long before the COVID-19 stuff. Clearly I’ve been preparing for a virus outbreak my whole life. Also on tap is a 10-day trip home to California again this summer. The kiddos will get their all-day, all-night swim on… live out my childhood summers. September we’ll make a quick jaunt over to Silverwood again—as we officially add it to our annual list—the first week of traditional school. Crowd avoidance level 10. We’ll wrap up our 2020 getaways with our annual yurt weekend at the end of September again.

And fall, we’re all set for classes with the exception of one program… they were supposed to release their schedule on the 24th. Nothing yet. Planning is my thing. I love organizing and coordinating our calendar. You know, routines. My life is so exciting, haha.

Dishwasher number three was installed. I have no idea what we do wrong. Perhaps it’s overuse? We routinely (I had to) run the sucker at least once—often twice—every day. We are on dishwasher number three since moving here back in November 2015. I suppose it’s technically dishwasher number two since we just replaced the lame one that came with the house. Builders always go with the cheapest appliances. Not cool. But the second one was not a cheap guy; I think it was over $900. But it died. It hadn’t been cleaning well and then one morning, there was water all over the floor in front of the thing. It was time.

We’re back up and running after almost two weeks with no dishwasher. At first it was kind of fun… I hadn’t hand washed dishes since college. And even then, I mostly ate off of paper plates or there was Brian. Brian was the dishwasher. The novelty of hand washing dishes wore off after about day three of no dishwasher. It’s running now, post-lunch. I can’t stand dishes in the sink.

And the damn garbage disposal died. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. The garbage disposal motor gave out. Thankfully Brian was on it and ordered a new one that night, picked it up the next day, and installed it the day after. I rely heavily on the garbage disposal. Which is probably why the motor died. I remember reading a reddit post about a year ago… apparently garbage disposals are pretty American. I had no idea until I read the thread.

Mammogram month. I had my first mammogram last year. Hello, forty. It was time again. It’s a strange feeling, in a good way… not the mammogram, but the feeling of camaraderie among the women waiting. It’s the same feeling at a women-only gym. Or in Zumba. Oh, Zumba. That’s next.

All is well in the mammogram department. No need to do anything until next year, when I go back for an annual exam. I liked this quote: The lady who checked me in at the mammogram asked me if I was employed. When I said no, she said, “All moms work. Not all moms get paid.”

Zumba! This was unexpected. I love Zumba. Ha! I’m rusty in the hip shaking department but I don’t care. The hips are coming around. At dinner in January with two friends, we were talking about the different things we wanted to try. Zumba was on my list. I was going to go in January but then got sick. Then it flooded and I was nervous driving at night on potentially flooded roads. I finally went the third week and I was pleasantly surprised. I figured it would be something I checked of my well, I tried list. It was so much fun. And I think I may have been the youngest one there, ha! I went the next week also and loved it even more. Then bingo night happened so I couldn’t go. And tonight is Zumba night, but the whole COVID-19 thing has shut down everything. Until I get to go again… hopefully next week but unlikely with this pandemic thing.

February in pictures.

All About Chocolate. Blaise and Laine took a cooking class at PCC in Issaquah with two of their friends. They loved the class! They made chocolate mole sauce for enchiladas, truffles, and a chocolate drink. These kids have the life. Activities galore around here, and good ones!

Red Robin. That first day of February was packed. I had a hair appointment that morning; Blaise and Laine had the PCC cooking class; and Blaise, Laine, and Saige went to Ninja Night at the gymnastics place the kiddos go to. We decided to all head out to drop of the Ninja kiddos. While they ninja’d, the rest of us went to Red Robin. I was on an Impossible Burger kick. Even Brian is on board with the Impossible Burger. He’s not going full vegetarian but he’s mostly meat-free these days.

Baby finally figured out the peace sign that Saige does in every photo. For a while there, Baby was holding up only one finger, haha.

Slope hitters. Another Sunday, another skiing lesson for Saige. Brian took Blaise and Laine snowboarding while Saige was in her lesson.

Lazy Sunday. Wake up in the late afternoon, call Parnell… that dates me. Baby, Maive, and I played at home while Brian and the other kiddos were up at the snow. Baby and I made a train track. It’s the one pretend play thing I actually enjoy. I will build train tracks for days. Probably because it’s puzzle-like.

Blaise and Maive that evening. He is the best big brother! He keeps asking—kind of morbid but hey, thoughtful—if something happens to us, does he get to take care of Maive. He’s like a mini-Brian when it comes to babies. Obsessed.

Red Robin kiddos. I needed an Impossible Burger fix. That’s how I eat. I eat the same thing for about six months, then I move on to another thing for six months, and so on. Laine needed a corn doggie fix and Blaise is all about cheeseburgers, with a veggie patty. I was surprised to hear him order a veggie patty. While I’d love the kiddos to go vegetarian, it’s their decision. He still eats meat but I was happy he is aware of different options and understands reasons to go vegetarian.

Art kiddos! I was ahead of the game. With two weeks to go, I set Saige and Baby up to make homemade Valentine’s for their outdoor school. Except these didn’t happen; they got sidetracked painting other things. They ended up making new homemade Valentine’s the night before they needed them.

Little Red. I don’t know why I don’t just buy season tickets because we see every play. Saige and I have standing plans with two of her friends, to see all the plays at Storybook Theatre. It was Little Red in February. Laine tagged along because she was going to a birthday party that afternoon. It was easier for me to take her than Brian, who would have had to pack up all the other kiddos to drop off Laine. Logistics.

Of all the plays I’ve seen at Storybook Theatre—and I’ve been going since Blaise was maybe four—Little Red is my favorite. I appreciate randomness, and they brought it. The gist was Little Red was heading to her grandmother’s house with a birthday cake; it was her grandmother’s birthday. The wolf was hungry and wanted to eat the cake. They nixed the whole wolf eating Little Red thing. And there was a hunter who was hungry, trying to kill the wolf. They did a great job. But the randomness, the wolf was talking to Little Red and then all of a sudden says, “Dance break!” and starts busting moves. Then the hunter made some comment about women belonging in the kitchen and grandmother went off on him. Only in Seattle. But oh so great. And of course, there were anti-hunting references. And I’m pretty sure there was an anti-Trump reference, without calling him out by name. There usually is in all live performances around here. Stuff like that makes me SO freaking happy we live in a liberal, progressive area.

Flood-tastic. It rained. And rained some more. Seattle gets the rain reputation but in reality, it’s never hard rain all.the.time. It’s gloomy, then misty, then hard rain, then gloomy, then cloudy, then mist again… all in one day. But over the course of a week in February, it rained. I always think of Sleepless in Seattle, when Tom Hanks is outside and it’s raining. It’s so fake. Apparently it was super hot up here when they were filming. But that fake rain, that’s how it was raining before it flooded.

We’re used to flooding here. We live in a valley and the river routinely floods when it’s warm rain causing the snow to melt (or even when the snow starts melting in spring), often closing down main roads for a few days at a time. No biggie. We all adjust. There are alternative routes. But that week in February, we almost became an island. Water everywhere.

We survived. Even though Amazon Fresh wasn’t offering delivery. I enjoyed walking, checking out the water galore. And clearly I don’t read. I took a picture of the sign and then kept walking. I am just now reading that it says please keep out. In caps! Haha. I didn’t keep out. This was on the Sunday post-flood so they probably just hadn’t taken the sign down yet. Mel and I didn’t end up swimming so the flooding was gone on the trail.

Snowboarders! Another Sunday, another snow day. Saige had a lesson and Blaise and Laine went snowboarding. Their friend met them up there and they took off together. I love this picture. Kids getting to be kids, having fun without a care in the world.

Mustache Brian. So Brian has decided to grow a mustache. I asked him why. He said he hadn’t shaved in a week and wanted to see what would come of the mustache. Total Brian answer. No reason other than why not? At first I couldn’t stop smiling when I looked at him. Not because it’s bad; I actually think he looks nice with it. It’s just so… strange. In 24 years, he has never had facial hair. Now he does. And I forget it’s there, start talking with him, and then realize he has a mustache. It’s almost like I can’t see it without actually looking at the thing.

I told him he should go with a handlebar but he says it’s not possible. He is pretty hairless overall—being Native American and all—and there is a patch of his face that just does not grow hair. This patch would be needed for a handlebar. In the meantime, my friend sent me this. I had no idea there were so many facial hair names. Let alone some get in the way of respirators.

Laine does not like the mustache. So much that I found this open on her dresser when I went to put clothes away. Haha!

Monday Funday. Talk about a productive Monday. I was on this day. I was up early, walked Mel around on my standard two loops around our ‘hood before it’s light outside and I potentially have to see neighbors walk, made breakfast, got Blaise and Laine off to school, and then played mom so well. I took Saige and Baby out on their bikes. We looped the neighborhood three times before they were cold and tired. It was cold… I’m a terrible wear your jacket mom.

Monday continues… we walked up to get Blaise and Laine. Back at home, Laine’s friend came over. We were going to do an art project but we decided to walk up the evacuation trail instead.

A rarity (and only because I’m getting older and care less) a picture of me wearing Maive and with all five kiddos. I am happy to say that I’m down six more pounds than in this picture. I’m really working to drop Maive weight (and Baby weight from four years ago) before I get to be too old to care, haha!

At the top of the evacuation hill is an open space. If the dam ever breaks, this is where we go. There is a Red Cross building and a few container things full of supplies. The kiddos played a few games up there, including Mother May I and Red Rover. Yeah, Saige didn’t get Red Rover. She nailed Laine’s friend’s little sister. I think she thought she was supposed to literally run into people on the other team. I suppose I understand why they’ve banned Red Rover from schools these days.

My step count at the end of this Monday was well over 25,000. It was a productive start to the week!

Homemade Valentine’s. Saige and Baby made Valentine’s to hand out to their school friends on that busy Monday evening. They worked really hard! I was quite proud of them.

I like the one on the top right, where Baby left out the A in her name. It’s a Vile Valentine, haha. So weird she wants to be called Baby still but writes Vaile. And if we call her Vaile, she goes, “It’s BABY!” Eh, I’m not the biggest Dirty Dancing fan so I like to think of Baby in Baby Driver.

Great opening scene.

Maivers! Maive is such a little cutie. I sound like a broken record but I didn’t know I wanted a fifth until she arrived. I LOVE having a baby again. And she is a great baby. She’s mostly chill and easy over all. She’s started smiling all the time at pretty much anything.

Maive has a complaint about Brian being back at work. He held her almost the entire 14 weeks. I’m fairly certain if there were a Guinness Book of World Records category for holding a baby the longest time, Brian would be a top contender. The first week he was back at work, she was fussy whenever I had to put her down. The nerve of me! Sorry kiddo, I can’t hold you all day long. Get used to being number five!

Rock climbers. Saige and Baby were at school. Blaise, Laine, Maive, and I went to Grasslawn Park to meet up with friends. They played on the playground a bit before heading over to climb the boulders. Fun morning!

Maive opened her eyes briefly to check out the park.

Ring of neglect! Or not. We’ve always called these play centers the Ring of Neglect. But when you have four older siblings who don’t leave you alone, it’s not really neglectful. I put this sucker together and Maive gave it a test run. The minute all the other kiddos saw her in there, she had an audience.

I feel like an old parent for saying this but I am so happy kid things have moved beyond primary colors. Even nine years ago—when Blaise was a baby—it was super hard to find decent looking baby items. His ring of neglect was a bright blue and orange; that was the best I could find back then and it was still ugly.

More Valentine’s. Blaise and Laine wanted to make Valentine’s for their writing class. I love having older kiddos. I sent them on google to search for homemade Valentine’s ideas. They each came up with morphed ideas from searches, and they went to town making them.

Blaise settled on splatter painting paper, cutting out hearts, and gluing them to cards. Laine used a circle sponge to paint clusters of dots and then wrote #love on top. I don’t even know if she knows what a hashtag is yet but I love that she went with it.

Saige and Baby weren’t allowed to give candy but there were no restrictions for Blaise and Laine. Blaise went with Twix and Laine with Rolos. Although, as a parent of a peanut allergy kiddo who has always approved Twix, the damn Twix packaging said may contain peanuts. I think this must be new?! We always avoid anything that says that. And Twix was approved by us way back when he was maybe two and went trick-or-treating. I need to call the allergist and get on that FDA approved peanut treatment…

Pants! I am not a great girl mom. Four girls and I’ve never dressed them in anything frilly. And I think only Saige had a headband with a ridiculously large flower? Only because someone gave it to her. I wish I had saved the link… a few years ago there was a series of pictures of a grown woman wearing different headbands with super large flowers, a parody. It was entertaining.

I mostly dress babies in zipper jammies with feet. It’s easy. But this day, pants!

Forty-two! We celebrated Brian on February 14. His birthday. Blaise, Laine, and Saige were at DigiPen. Baby, Maive, and I set out to get birthday supplies. We grabbed an apple pie and coffee first. I was going to make a pie at home but with our dishwasher out of commission, I didn’t want to deal with all the dirty dishes that come with pie making. Pie, check. Coffee, check. Brian likes coffee by Raven’s Brew: Three Peckered Billy Goat, Wicked Wolf, and Deadman’s Reach. I think he mostly likes the coffee names. We then went to Target to grab a mustache trimmer. Lastly, the Dollar Tree for plates and decorations. Score! They had dinosaur supplies. Brian has a dinosaur obsession. And even better, purple was a fabulous accent color to the dinosaur plates (purple is Brian’s favorite color). We grabbed the goods and left to get the DigiPen kiddos before heading home to decorate… it’s the one day of the year where I have to decorate above the kitchen table, with purple crepe paper.

Brian picked up Laine from gymnastics and once they made it home, we celebrated with dessert and presents. It was already 7:30pm so we had a pasta dinner—Brian’s choice—on Saturday. I think it was a successful birthday.

Chub! Maive is packing on the pounds, just like she should. Despite the ho-hum expression, bath time is her favorite. We have a routine where we put her down on the bathroom floor while the water warms up. The minute I lie her down in that spot, she knows what’s up. Her legs start kicking in preparation for kicking in the water. When we first had Blaise, we bathed him every night. With each kiddo, the baths started to happen every few days. Maive loves them so much, we try to make daily ones happen. Except it’s more like every-other day.

Heron (or Egret?!). Brian likes these birds. So I took a picture on one of my walks. This guy has been hanging around this spot for a few weeks. Maybe it’s a lady bird and she’s preparing a nest for spring?

First place! Laine rocked this meet. She tied for first place in her age/level. Go, Laine!

Painters. There was an attempt at a specific art project. I did this back when Blaise and Laine were younger… I cut paper towel tubes and we used them to paint circles, making different patterns on paper. Saige and Baby liked the idea but mostly mixed paint. It was still art! And they had a great time.

Tolt River. Nothing special, just a picture of Tolt River. I thought it looked nice this day. Some days it’s brown and murky. When we lived in San Luis Obispo and I’d drive to Pismo Beach often, I took for granted seeing the ocean all the time. There were days I didn’t even look that way. When we lived in Issaquah—with a slight view of Lake Sammamish from the kiddos’ room—and we’d see it every time we left our street, I didn’t appreciate the lake until we moved. So here, I’m trying to appreciate the water we live near… even if they’re just murky rivers.

Mel, post-walk. Tired pup!

Eevee! Eevee stayed with us for six days in February. She arrived on a Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, I walked Mel and her on my morning walk. We went again Thursday and Friday mornings. Saturday morning, Eevee was at the front door, ready to go all on her own. It took her three days to get into the routine. She was quite pleased on Saturday, instead of a walk around the block. We went on my standard 3.96 mile walk. The only downside, it rained. The weather said cloudy but nope, it was wet. We went with it. And we all needed baths after.

Bedtime with Eevee. Eevee was with us five nights. This was one of those nights in bed. And that’s my leg between Moose and Eevee… there wasn’t much room for the rest of me.

She Loves Me. Another musical. It was a bit long for my liking at 2.5 hours but what a great show. The songs, costumes, actors… amazing.

Jamba Juice. Blaise and Laine had been asking to try Jamba Juice. It’s not exactly a place we’ve ever frequented. In fact, I had never even had a Jamba Juice until I tried a sip of their drinks. They were good and all, but at $13 for two drinks, it’s not likely we’ll make this a regular thing.

Bingo night. Blaise and Laine’s school up the street had a bingo night; a fundraiser for the PTSA. Brian took them last year and they had a blast. It was my turn this year, and they had a blast again. I actually like bingo. I keep meaning to go to the brunch bingo at one of the local casinos… it’s become a running joke that we go to matinees now instead of evening events like we did in our thirties.

Owls. Laine on the left, Blaise on the right. These are owls they made in art at their school up the street. Laine is so Laine. I love her owl! Depressed Garrold. Blaise made an owl and named it Maga… yeah, I quickly suggested he find another name and explained why. He agreed and renamed him Mega.

Leap Day Maive. Just a baby, hanging out on Leap Day.

Now it’s March. Hopefully we’ll all still be alive in the coming weeks! Go away, COVID-19.

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