June Twenty Twenty

June brought slices of normal: we’ve seen some friends, gone a few places, and enjoyed select activities. It’s been nice having things on the calendar after cancelling everything summer back in April. We’re on for a relatively low-key summer and I couldn’t be happier. Except I’m not happy it’s summer. Summer is not my thing. It’s hot, bright, light too late, and there are people everywhere, even during the pandemic. If only we could fast-forward July and August—only pausing for Laine’s birthday—I’d grab the remote faster than Maive smiles when she sees her siblings. At least it’s getting dark earlier now, thanks summer solstice. And by earlier, I mean 9:30pm. Still too late in my book. This is why I could never live in Alaska. Plus, grizzly bears. I already irrationally worry about cougar attacks around here… I don’t think I could deal with worrying about a grizzly attack. At least it’d be light enough to see one coming at you.

June also marked the end of the first half of 2020. And what a first half. January brought snow. February brought flooding. March brought the beginnings of COVID-19. April was all about staying home and adjusting to unknowns. May was full-blown pandemic. Jrune was all about finding a balance between pandemic life and regular life—a new normal it’s being called. I think we’re all tired of hearing that phrase. Maybe July and August will bring some calmer times and convert me into a summer lover. Probably not. It’ll still be hot. And too sunny for my sensitive eyes (that’s an inside joke).

June in pictures. A smattering of slices of normal.

Friend time! Okay, so I’m going to admit we broke the rules a bit. Kind of. We’ve seen people. That we’re not related to. In our home. Funny how something so small is such a big deal these days. King County moved to Phase 1.5 in early June, which allowed for five or fewer people from other households to gather outside. So we had one of the big kiddos’ friends and his two siblings over to play outside, in our backyard. Maybe they played a bit inside also. It was so great to see the kiddos have a buddy in person. They’ve really adapted to everything online—schooling and socializing—but it’s so not the same. That one Wednesday, seeing friends in person, and seeing how much it did for the kiddos’ moods… I invited another friend over two days later.

First time seeing friends in real life since early March.

Two days later it was raining. We didn’t socialize outside. Rule breaker here. I’ve lived in a pandemic bubble since early March and when I took Maive to her six month appointment—at seven months because that’s a whole other story involving a tow truck—I talked with our doctor. I knew Laine’s gymnastics team would be practicing soon and asked what he thought about sending her, given the pandemic and all. He is our entire family’s doctor; all seven of us see him. He knows us all and our histories. He delivered all the kiddos. We go way back. He said something along the lines that we’re all healthy and have no conditions that would make him worry that COVID-19 would be harmful to any of us. Of course there are always unknowns and risks, but overall he said as long as we take safety precautions and follow guidelines, not to worry. As for Laine attending practice, he said, “Kids need to do things.” My perspective changed.

It rained, Laine’s buddy came over. Along with her little sister who plays with Saige and Baby. That was fun. More friends came over the following Friday. (I should add that we only invite friends over whom we trust won’t come around if they have potentially been exposed to virus germs.) Now we’re in Phase 2 and can officially have gatherings with five or fewer people from other households inside. So we did just that. Except I’ll admit again, we were rule breakers… we invited them over before Phase 2. King County happened to approve Phase 2 that morning so we were technically official by pure luck. That was an amazing day. The kids were all awesome. Being home for months has been relatively okay. Our kiddos adapted well and get along for the most part. That’s the bonus of five kiddos: they can rotate whom they play with or they can all play together. Options. Of course there is sibling bickering and arguing but nothing to where I’ve wanted to give any of them away, haha.

Legit indoor friend time, haha. Lunch for eight. I think I baked 60 Dino Nuggets? There were four left. We’re going to need a bigger table.

But that Friday, everyone got on well. There was no fighting, the kiddos were relatively quiet (this is my hangup, I can’t handle loud), and everyone intermingled extremely well. The friends who came over are a buddy of Blaise’s, his sister who is a buddy of Laine’s, and their little sister came for the first time, who is smack dab in the middle of Saige and Baby’s ages. Before the pandemic, we would switch dropping off the big kiddos almost weekly… Blaise and Laine would go to their house for a day, the next time they would come to our house for a day. June was the first time we included dropping off the younger siblings. We’re back at switching off. Younger siblings included, minus Baby. And Maive, obviously. Baby embraces being the [former] baby, and says she’s too young to be dropped off at someone’s house. That’s all her. We’ve never told her she’s too young. And Maive, she’s with Brian and/or me 100% of the time. That’s just how we roll with babies.

These kids have the life! Lucky for them, their buddies live on a lake.

Saige’s first time being dropped off with Blaise and Laine. It was a success. Phew.

Laine is back at team practice. And what hoops she has to jump through. We decided if she was going to go back to practice and deal with all the pandemic hoops, she may as well be on the team she wants. She started last season on the JO Level 3 team. After practicing for a few months, we pulled her because it’s super expensive and she wasn’t so passionate about gymnastics that it was her main goal in life. She moved to the Xcel Silver team, which is still competitive but more recreational. Less intense, less expensive (still expensive). Laine was happy enough but would still talk about the Level 3 team… to the point that she’d watch them practice and memorize their routines on top of hers. It’s tough as a parent not letting your kiddo have what they want. But we stuck with Xcel Silver.

Meet season started. Laine placed first in the last competition she attended before everything pandemic. And the two prior to that one she placed in the top seven. She’s good. A natural. And I realize I’m a parent saying this about my kid, but I will happily admit when my kiddos aren’t natural at things. Knowing she has the ability to do really well, I didn’t feel the Xcel team she was on was pushing her to her best ability. Granted, she can also be a bit of a slacker because she’s a natural. She wasn’t giving it her all and still doing well.

When the chatter began about teams practicing again, I knew we had a decision to make. Laine could go back to the Xcel Silver team and be moved up to Xcel Gold or we could ask for her to be put back on the JO Level 3 team, a season behind. I was fine with whatever. We let her decide. JO Level 3 it is. And it’s even more expensive than it was last year. Of course it is. But hey, she’s enjoying some sort of normal after months at home. And we’re back to driving around like crazy. The JO team practices 12 hours a week.

Playing mom. Rather, playing a good mom. I’ve slacked off in the mom role since March. It was really easy to stay home. And staying home all day, every day made it easy to get into a rut. Especially when you have a baby and routines become very important. It’s not like we don’t do anything. We have a nice routine where I hit the trails in the morning with Maive while the kiddos do schoolwork and then we have lunch together. The afternoons are consumed by Maive’s long ass naps, where she sleeps for up to four hours and I hide out in our room with her while she naps. The other kiddos rotate turns on Roblox until Maive wakes up. Then we have dinner and play outside. I mean, it’s not a bad routine. But I get bored and crave change. And the monotony of every day feeling the same has really been getting to me.

Starting in June, I committed to my mom self that we would spice up the routine with the goal of doing something fun at least once each week. Hopefully more. (And even more when things open up post-pandemic.) In the mornings. We still need to be home around noon so we can lunch and Maive can nap. And with Laine back at gymnastics, she has to be there by 4pm three days a week. It’s no longer Groundhog Day. Thankfully.

Tolt River adventure. This was our first morning outing in June, starting my goal. Brian joined us and we all walked up to the river to nose around the rocks. Fun times.

Blaise and Laine river walk. For the next outing, I took only Blaise and Laine, along with Maive. She kind of tags along for most things. And since she wasn’t up for napping this afternoon, we took off around 2pm in hopes she’d conk out in her stroller. That didn’t happen. I took the kiddos to the Snoqualmie River over near the campground. It was fun seeing them back in action, climbing trees and searching for interesting things along the water. We found some beaver dams intermixed with all the jammed logs where the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers meet.

Strawberry picking. From my list of normal things we do each year. No pandemic was going to stop us from going like we do every June. Okay, maybe it would have. But it was open and they assigned each group a row or two to encourage social distancing. The kiddos were SO excited because this was the first time they were going to see their buddies since March. We met at the strawberry field on a Thursday afternoon and the kiddos picked about five pounds of berries.

The excitement before the excitement of seeing their friends. And a picture of the gang. Except I had no idea Saige was missing until I looked at this picture later that evening. I still have no idea how I missed her being in the picture, and I have no idea where she was while I took it. Oops.

Saige walk. With Maive, of course. Not only am I trying to get the kiddos out and about more, I’m attempting to have some solo time—with Maive, haha—with each of them. It was Saige’s turn. We went on the same walk Blaise and Laine went on, stopping at the Snoqualmie River near the campground. Saige was so excited to find a beaver dam on her own… we recently watched a beaver documentary so she wanted her picture near the beaver dam so she could be on the TV. Five-year-olds. I remember being five and thinking the Sesame Street characters were actually talking with me from the TV. So I get it. This as also the walk that made me realize how out of shape the kiddos are… we walked about 4.5 miles and Saige was barely hanging on there at the end. Which isn’t normal for her. Before the pandemic she could go this far no problem. Which was my motivator for our next outing…

Saige is so funny. She had to take Brown Teddy. Laine has a pink teddy whose name is… Pink Teddy. Creative kids, I know. Saige asked me to take her picture by about 100 different trees and bushes. We settled on maybe 10.

Tiger Mountain hike. I hiked around Tiger the week before with a friend. This time I wanted to take the kiddos on a hike. To check off the playing good mom box and get these kiddos back in shape box. Two birds, one stone. The goal was to hike up to the abandoned bus. We made it, after about an hour detour. Eh, all trails lead to another eventually. We were on the mountain about 2.5 hours and the kiddos did really well. I was surprised at the lack of complaints. Granted, I may have made it pretty clear that I didn’t want to hear complaining. And if I did, there would be no lollipops when we made it to the bus and the tougher, no Roblox later that day. I bribe. I’ll admit that. Whatever works.

Raspberry picking that wasn’t. After strawberry picking, we decided we’d take all the kiddos raspberry picking. The plan was to go in the afternoon, after our hike. I had a feeling it would be too much for the younger gals, and I was right. They were all exhausted from the morning. So Blaise and Laine went with their friends… so not quite playing mom but the intention was there. Except the raspberry field was closed. They went to the river, and then grabbed pizza and ice cream instead. I don’t think they cared what they did so long as they were all together.

Baby’s turn. With Maive, of course. Blaise, Laine, and Saige were gone for the day at their friends’ house. That left time with the youngest gals, the babies. We went for a stroll. It was the first time I busted out the double BOB in a few years. Baby could have totally walked the entire way but I wanted to make my life easier. Sure enough, she sat down for about half of the walk. I think Maive liked having one of her people in the stroller with her.

Melvin! He’s such a good boy, putting up with all these kiddos.

Friend time (for me). I’ve seen a few people, outside of mom friends who come with kiddo friends. I haven’t seen many people I personally know since March. I did stop by one friend’s house to say hello and talk with her while in my car from a distance. I’ve seen my neighbor over our fence and I ran into an acquaintance on the trail one day. For the most part, I’m totally okay with this. I’m an introvert and I thoroughly enjoy alone time. And even now that we can get together with a few people, I’m not rushing to make many plans. Even if I make plans—I know me—I would hope they’d be cancelled when the day comes… even though I enjoy my time when they happen.

But hiking. I enjoy hiking and have been craving going more. And it’s not like I mind going alone, I will. I have. With Mel, and pepper and bear spray. But I feel safer with someone. Not because or rapists or cougars (maybe cougars) but if I were to fall or hurt myself, I’d rather have someone with me. This is one of those I’m getting older things, worrying about falling. Haha. Especially since I broke my foot a few years back. And, it’s nice to chat with people I enjoy spending time with. So I hiked a few times in June. With friends. Social distance hiking.

Tiger Mountain. I met a friend at 7am to hike a few hours before we both had to be home for the husbands to start work. I’d say that’s a benefit of working from home but it’s not really. Brian has always had a flexible work schedule. Which is such a bonus with so many kiddos. It was a beautiful morning. And there weren’t many people on the mountain. At least not where we were. There was no goal other than to wander around and catch up. And that’s just what we did. Good times.

Dirty Harry’s Balcony. The name alone is the reason I wanted to hike this one. Brian says it sounds like a filthy sex act. I found it on reddit a while back and texted it to a friend who is an avid hiker. Then she asked me if I was down to hike it together. Yep. We set out at 6:30am. I love early mornings… and friends who are down to meet up early. It was a peaceful, quiet morning with barely anyone else on the trail. And not a cougar in sight, haha. We passed two guys coming down when we first started and a handful of hikers making their way up when we were close to the bottom. I think it’s one I’ll add to the list to take the big kiddos one of these days. The younger ones could do it but there are cliffs and I like to make life easy for me.

Marymoor stroll. Not a hike but a friend. Maive and I met a friend and her youngest kiddo at Marymoor to walk around while her older kiddo was in a summer camp. It was Maive’s first time going to a park! Pandemic baby. She was in awe that there was a swing and other kiddos about her size. She lives in such a bubble here at home, with her people and our backyard as her playground. We walked around, hitting the playground and the old man remote control airplane field. It was a fun morning catching up. It was also interesting to see social distancing summer camps in action… I was impressed! Probably good that I witnessed social distancing summer camps since Blaise and Laine are going to an outdoor sports camp soon.

Brian time, hiking. He counts as a friend also. Cheesy to say best friend? I mean, we have close to 25 years on the books. Brian and I had the rare opportunity to get out together, with Maive of course. We hadn’t been alone together since I was in the hospital to have Maive. And before then, it wasn’t often. We do well with alone time at night when the kiddos are all asleep or in the mornings before they’re all awake. I think that’s why we’ve always been sticklers about bedtime. It’s hard to remember all those years we had alone before kiddos. It was almost 15 years, ha! Crazy. I wouldn’t trade our lack of time though, the kiddos are worth it for sure.

It felt good to have some Brian time. And he humored me and went on a hike. He isn’t a hiking fan. Although he did say he enjoyed going. Knowing Brian, he’ll be an avid hiker in about 10 years. He’s always late to like the things I do, it’s become a thing. He used to question why I would check my carry-on bag when I flew. It’s because I like being free of anything on the plane. Guess who eventually started checking his carry-on bag? And baths. I take baths, morning and night. I always have. Showers are for hotels, with my travel flip flops because I’m a germ and clean freak. Guess who has been taking baths regularly in the last few months? Even today, when he came home from his run, he started the bath… not the shower. There are plenty of my things he’s grown to like, prefer maybe. So yeah, he’ll be hiking in about 10 years. I do look forward to alone time when all the kiddos eventually leave home. In like 20 years, maybe.

We were going to hike Poo Poo Point but my friend texted me that morning saying the road to the trailhead was closed due to a fatal accident. Which is totally my luck. Not to say a road closed is bad luck when someone died. Sad day. To Tiger Mountain, again. Baby kept telling Brian about the bus so we figured we may as well check it out so he could tell her he saw it on the trail. She was pretty happy to hear he did.

Intentional shopping. I feel so Gwyneth Paltrow-y with her conscious uncoupling, using intentional shopping. Brian came up with that. Although I’m sure it’s a thing and he’s not the first to utter that phrase. After my doctor changed my perspective, I decided I was ready to venture out. A little. With a mask (of course). Why is wearing a mask when you can’t social distance even something to argue about? It’s common courtesy. Say please, say thank you, hold doors open for those behind you, wear a fucking mask. Easy.

Blaise had been asking to start our garden… to Molbak’s we went. Molbak’s has this system where you register online for an arrival time to shop. On a whim, in the middle of Maive’s afternoon nap, I registered for a shopping time later that afternoon. I told Blaise to get dressed, grabbed our masks, and we left for Molbak’s. It was my first time going anywhere official, other than my doctor’s office… we had been having all of our groceries and whatever else we bought delivered.

It felt so surreal, seeing everyone wear a mask. And wearing them ourselves. It’s this new normal that is so strange. Except those three people not wearing masks, that I automatically put in the red hat club. Which is probably unfair but also probably not far off. But being out was nice. I felt comfortable and safe, and Blaise was a trooper wearing his mask and social distancing from other shoppers. He selected several vegetable starts before we called it a success. We left Molbak’s and headed to Costco. We needed to do a big haul since we were running low on Costco items.

Costco was pretty much the same, with masks and six feet apart checkouts. I LOVE this part of the pandemic. People were always so close before. I need space. Six feet seems about right. When we do get back to normal—in like 2023—may we please keep social distancing a thing? And let’s nix that whole handshake thing also. An overflowing cart-full of items later, we were loading the back of the car with a ridiculous amount of food… that only lasts about two weeks, not counting the fruit and vegetables that are gone within days. It was a nice pandemic outing with the kiddo.

Blaise’s garden. He grew a dog.

Out and about. I’ve since gone to Target on my own. For intentional shopping that included unintentional shopping. It’s Target. And even during pandemics, random things jump in my cart. Like that peacock quilt I didn’t know I needed. It felt good to just wander, nosing around at things I haven’t even thought about in months. I attempted to grab a LEGO set for Blaise—we owed him one—but the LEGO aisle was totally picked over. The sets that were there are ones he already has. I told him I’d take him the following week to another Target in hopes they’d have a set he wanted. Spoiler: we went the next week and he did indeed find a set he didn’t already have.

I even ventured outside of my pandemic comfort zone and got a pedicure. I dread pedicures but this is the longest I’ve ever gone without having one. They’re an annoying chore that I have to do. I don’t have to. But I’ve been getting pedicures every 2-3 weeks since age 14; it’s one of those things life skills I never learned how to do on my own and I’m too old to be bothered with learning now. Lame excuse but whatever.

That was an experience. Not bad just different. I decided to go to a larger spa company. I figured they’d have better resources for PPE and cleanliness, along with a financial incentive to actually enforce protocols. You call when you arrive and get invited in after answering questions and them ensuring the waiting area is cleaned and clear. And only if you’re wearing a mask. You sanitize your hands and take your temperature before being directed back to your appointment. Everything is spaced out and clean as a whistle. As much as I dread wasting time getting pedicures, it felt great to have cleaned up toes again.

It was fun to be out and about a bit in June but I’m still not ready to make being out and about a normal thing. I’ll keep it to intentional shopping for a while longer. And I’ll likely get back into my pedicure routine, blah. I do love our area—I’d say 90% of people are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. At least in the few times I’ve been out and about.

Those slices of normal felt amazing to add to the June calendar. It’s odd that such small things like seeing people or going to a store feels so special these days. Pandemic living. And for plain old normal—pandemic or not—the rest of June, in pictures.

June, plain old normal, in pictures.

I made it to the wooden bridge. Score! This has been my goal since I started going the other way on the trail last month, toward the 203. There is this bridge I see every time I drive that way. I’ve only been walking that way since mid-May so it’s not like this is some major achievement. But I’m pretty happy about the damn bridge. It’s a little over 4.7 miles away from home, so it was close to 10 miles there and back. Which fits within my daily trail mileage of 8-10 miles. I’m still working on getting the weight down to pre-kiddos. I’m closer but not there yet.

I also braved snakes. Not that garter snakes are dangerous. But snakes, I’m not a fan. I would never hurt one… I’d just rather never see one. Especially that time I was blackberry picking and a snake slithered by the berry I was picking. I counted 12 on this walk. They were all chilling on the side of the trail like the little guy in the picture I took.

Early morning calm. I was up early one Saturday morning. Like 3:30am early. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up. It starts to get light close to 5am these days so Mel and I left for a long morning walk. We hit the trails as usual, detouring to the riverbank before extending our walk even longer than planned, toward the bird watching section. It was fabulous being out super early, before everyone else… weekend trails are not my favorite, people galore. I’ve avoided people long before COVID-19.

Except I didn’t avoid the coyotes. Mel and I were walking all alone, not a single person in sight. I heard a bark. I figured it was a dog although I had no idea where it would be. There are open fields but it’s not private property, it’s a wildlife preserve. Maybe someone was out there with their dog. Then I heard multiple barks. And then the yips and howls started. There was a pack of coyotes nearby. Maybe about six? They sounded like they were just on the other side of the trees lining the trail. In the meantime, a cyclist rode past me. When the coyotes went at it full steam, the cyclist stopped about 50 feet in front of me and looked back to make sure I was okay. I started booking it because while I’m not afraid of coyotes, I wasn’t up for dealing with a pack of coyotes if they decided to make a move. Although it would have been an experience.

In search of beavers. There used to be a beaver dam in the water area between the 203 and trail. I desperately want to see a beaver in person. They are so freaking cute. I always stop and look around the water area in hopes of spotting one. No luck yet. Instead I admire the bald trees. I’d love to know what makes them turn white—if that’s not their normal—and what the hell happens to their branches. There are quite a few tall white suckers with missing or no limbs.

Last day of school? With school out since March and me being over everything school at the end of May, I don’t even know when their last day of school was. So the last time we walked by their school I had them pose for a last day of school picture. It counts.

Happy kiddo! And that hair. You never know what her hair will look like each day. Maive became super aware in June. Grabby hands are in full effect, she whips her head around to any noise or person entering the room, and everything is exciting. I love this age… no longer just a lump of baby and before mobility hits.

Swinger! Maive got a swing. I had been swinging with her on my lap and she loved every moment. I knew she’d love one of her own. So I bought a bucket swing for the little miss. She loves the thing! And the moment you walk toward the swing, she starts jolting her body with excitement. She knows what’s about to happen.

Rolls! Maive needed a swimsuit for our August trip home to see family and swim all day, every day. A certain seven month-old needed an 18-month sized suit. When you have baby rolls like she does, you show them off!

She sleeps. Just some random Maive sleeping pictures. Funny how it’s considered creepy if you take pictures of adults sleeping but not babies. Or maybe it’s creepy? She was our longest swaddler… we only stopped in early June. And only because she started protesting and busting out on her own. Now she sleeps with arms. And a sleep sack. Mr. Moosie snuggles with her occasionally. He’s our only critter who has been around since before kiddos. He’s 13.5 years old and I want to say Maive is the first kiddo he’s snuggled with.

Masked kiddos. We wear masks indoors (not at home obviously, only modeling here) and where we can’t social distance. Because we’re not selfish assholes. I ordered each kiddo three masks because I know one of them will lose one… and that award goes to Laine. She lost a mask within the first week of wearing one.

Rug refresh. Growing up it became a running joke about my bedspread obsession. I would get a new one a few times each year. I like change. As an adult, that desire for change has switched to area rugs. It’s to the point where I don’t think Brian even notices new rugs anymore.

I was in the market for a new area rug for our bathroom. It had been a while. And since I like animal prints—and try to have at least one thing with animal print in each room—a leopard print area rug for the bathroom it was. So of course I found a zebra print area rug and needed it also. I grew bored of the area rug under the kitchen table so I had a spot in mind. Which means I needed to change out the area rug in front of the kitchen sink since it matched the one under the kitchen table. Cowboy cats for the win. I put up a cowboy cats shower curtain in the kiddos’ bathroom last November and it makes me smile every time I walk by. I figured I could smile while I do dishes 30 times each day. Laine is funny, when I called them cowboy cats, she asked me, “How do you know they are both boys?” I love how her mind works.

This is why Brian is a perfect match for me: when one of the animal print rugs arrived, it was sitting in the front hallway after I brought it in from the porch. When he asked me where it was for and I said the bathroom, he said, “That’ll look nice.” There was no questioning why I needed area rug #58 when the one we currently had was perfectly fine.

That hair! Her hair was in full effect this day. We call it the floof. Saige is sure Maive’s hair will turn blonde like hers did. They all come with almost black hair and then lighten up to different shades. It’s the Native American in them, nature’s DNA test.

Deer. There must be something tasty on the other side of the fence. This is the second deer in a week we’ve seen munching back there. And it’s like deer #18 back there since we moved in… and that’s only the deer I’ve seen.

Later, June. We sent off June with a visit to the Marymoor playground, the one I used to call the Ghost Playground, because there was never anyone there. It was still fairly quiet, with two other toddlers there. Maybe busy? I rarely go there anymore so it could be popular nowadays. Saige’s buddy and her toddler brother met us there. Saige was SO excited to see a buddy. And it was cute seeing them play together after so long. Baby and Maive had fun also… Maive is still impressed there is life outside of the house. Life as a pandemic baby.

Next up, July. A Camp Orkila trip, Laine’s birthday, and a cheerleading camp for Saige. Toss in a few hikes and some friends, and the month will be over in a flash.

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