July Twenty Twenty

Driving to hike Lake 22, I passed a car with a sticker on the back window. (Lake 22 is absolutely stunning.) It said: There’s Like Hella Kids In Here. I’m not a car sticker person. But for a split second, I thought, I need this. Then I forgot because Lake 22 is absolutely stunning (I said it again, it must be true). When I remembered a few days later, to Google I went. Turns out there are a few different versions. The one I like the most is a bit different: Hella Kids Up In This Bitch. That’s more me. Hella pays tribute to my Northern California upbringing. Side note: People from California never say Cali. I’ve been gone 14 years and I still know this to be true. This is fresh on my mind because I was perusing shirts on Anthropologie, and they have a tank with CALI on there. Yeah, nope. And I don’t know how many times I’ll see a comment saying, “I live in Cali…” and I’m like, you may live there but you aren’t from there. Yeah, there’s I’m Going Back to Cali, by LL Cool J. Who is from New York. And then there are people who pronounce Nevada Nuh-vah-duh. That’s another nope. I’m not from Nevada but I can commiserate. The sticker…

I also use up in this as a saying. And maybe I say bad words. Then there’s the whole I actually have hella kids part. The sticker is fitting. Except I wouldn’t want just one sticker. So then I overthought additional stickers… maybe a Darwin fish? I had one on my first car. And still have the extra one I bought back in the day. But is that too ’90s? I haven’t seen a Darwin fish in years. Maybe a Bernie sticker? I have a few from when I donated. But Bernie isn’t running anymore, so that’s not fitting. A BLM fist? But if I show support for BLM, I’d want to show support to the LGBTQ+ folks. A rainbow flag? I’m not LGBTQ+. And really, I don’t want to be driving an in-your-face liberal-mobile. Maybe if I had a Subaru. Subarus are meant for stickers. And liberals. Or Volvos. There was a reddit post of a Volvo with anti-mask rhetoric hand-written on the back window. My first thought was, on a Volvo?! Sure enough, the top comment was: That’s not how Volvos work

Maybe not statement stickers. Laine is on a gymnastics team. I could get a club sticker. But if I put a sticker that represents her, then I’d have four other kids eventually wanting stickers that represent their thing(s). Where would I draw the line? I’ve always wanted a Washington state-shaped sticker with a California flag filling the inside. But I’ve yet to find one (I’ve seen it on shirts). And people up here don’t like those Californians moving up and driving up housing costs, among other reasons. It’s been over 14 years. I feel as though I can complain about California transplants if I wanted. Especially since I wear Birkenstock’s now. I’m solidified as a PNW resident. Not a cheeky California transplant statement—I could get a Cal Poly Alumni sticker. It’s been almost 20 years though. Feels the expiration date on an alumni sticker has long passed. Kiddos’ school stickers? Too many with our version of homeschooling, outsourcing to different programs. And confusing to have more school stickers than seats in the car for the hella kids. 

The answer is no sticker. It’s a Suburban. This alone says hella kids up in this bitch.

But Lake 22. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Say it with me: absolutely stunning. Best hike yet, for the end result. Rounding the trail and seeing the lake. And then being able to walk around the lake. Amazing. I wrote about it here, with pictures. That was early July. Lake 22 and Laine’s birthday are the July highlights. The rest of the month, pandemic normal. Whatever that means. In June we strayed from our extreme staying home from March through May—seeing nobody, going nowhere, having everything delivered, online everything—and it felt nice. July was similar to June, we did things. Those things, in pictures below.

Camp Orkila also. A highlight. I forget about this one since I didn’t go. Which means I was home alone for three nights and four days, with Maive. So not alone. But with a baby, easy peasy. Nobody asked me questions. When I left a clean room, I came back to a clean room. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. With a baby in tow. It was glorious. And by day three, I wanted my people back. It’s good I missed them. They may drive me crazy at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except for three days a year. Four is too many.

July, in pictures.

Social distancing sports camp. Back in January, before everything pandemic, I was on my summer camp game. I’m a planner. I have a calendar on the wall right now that goes through next summer. With things on there. I can’t help it, it’s my nature. So of course I had the kiddos registered for summer camps before Covid. I ended up cancelling most of the camps, if they weren’t cancelled on their own. I cancelled all the indoor camps. I kept the kiddos registered for the outdoor camps, figuring I’d assess closer to the camp dates. Which is exactly what I did.

This camp was the last week of June/first week of July. Two weeks prior, I was about to pull them. Until case numbers were looking better. Our county moved phases. I was feeling okay enough to send them, with precautions in place. It was a fun week! The kiddos needed something that felt normal. And by normal, it was pandemic normal… social distancing, masks, sanitizing galore, temperature checks, and so on.

Three of their buddies registered for the camp also. That was fun. It was a multi-sport camp: baseball, soccer, and flag football. I’m not a football fan in any way, so I kind of despise that it was one of the sports. Unless Colin Kaepernick counts as football? I like him. But whatever, it wasn’t about the sports as much as it was to get the kiddos out and active. They had a fabulous week. Although, with Blaise—and Laine 98% of the time—everything is always fabulous, they are down to do anything.

Side note (since they look like twins in the picture): It’s that time of year, between Laine’s birthday in July and Blaise’s birthday in September, that they are the same age. And since it’s a summer month when we’re out and about most of the time (maybe we won’t be since it’s a pandemic), without fail people ask them, “Are you twins?” When they respond, “No,” the question that always follows to each of them is, “How old are you?” And then they both say the same age. Leaving the person totally confused. It’s entertaining. Then I have to explain the whole Irish Twin thing. Only once did an older woman respond with, “Well, you had sex too soon!” Hahaha.

The campers. Not twins.

Social distancing camp.

Gingham Maive. She looks so preppy with her romper and cardigan. Very East Coast stereotype I suppose. She just needs a pair of boat shoes to finish the look.

Milkshake kiddos. On the Wednesday of sports camp week for Blaise and Laine, I took them to get milkshakes. It was hot. And Laine did six hours of sports camp until 3pm, and went straight to gymnastics practice from 4-8pm. She needed calories. And since we’re all about kiddo equality, Saige and Baby had milkshakes the next day. Homemade ones, they count.

Rattlesnake Lake. Brian had the Friday off before Fourth of July. We’ve been slacking in the family outing department—part having a baby, part pandemic. In my head, we’d go to Rattlesnake Lake like we have in the past, hang out on the rocky beach, and watch the kiddos climb the dead tree trunks that pop out of the water. Like we did in 2015. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The gate to the Watershed was closed. I knew the Watershed was closed because of Covid, but I figured it was only the building and that the parking and outdoor areas were open. I was wrong. We had to park at the actual lake, fine. We’d walk over to the rocky beach area instead. That was a nope. We walked as far as we could toward the rocky beach, only to be stopped by either the lake being high or my memory failing us. It worked out though, we walked along the trail and down a few paths that led to the water. No spaces large enough to hang out though.

After attempting to get to the rocky beach and failing, we headed back on the trail to the actual lake recreation area and settled down on a picnic blanket for some snacks. It wasn’t the outing I envisioned, but it was an outing that worked out well enough to check off the family outing box.

Homegoods. Some normal for me. I haven’t been out much to stores. We did everything online until early June. And even still, I have only been going to stores when we need things. Like food. That changed in July. I took Laine to gymnastics with no other kiddos in tow, and killed the four hours nosing around stores. Never any plan, nothing needed. But Homegoods. Man, that store is a time sink. I’m not a shopper in that I like to nose around. I like to shop, but with a plan of action and a list of things to get. Except at Homegoods. I mosey around the store, with no plan or list, and find things I didn’t know I needed.

Like a papier-mâché rainbow elephant head. (I had no idea that’s how papier-mâché is spelled. I thought it was plain old paper mache. Thanks, Wikipedia.) Apparently nobody else knew they needed it either, since it was on clearance for $7.99. Hahaha. I love it! I put it up on the art room wall, and I see it every time I look to the front of the house from the kitchen. It makes me smile. That’s mostly my goal with adding things around the house. I was raised in a very nice, Pottery Barn-ish home, decorated well. My mom was obsessed with HGTV and even before HGTV, home shows. I think my childhood weekends were spent at furniture and tile stores. But man, it was boring as hell. I enjoy color. And fun items. Things that make me smile. So an elephant head it is. Like Laine said, “Nobody knows they need a rainbow elephant head. But everybody needs a rainbow elephant head.” Laine gets it, haha.

Also, a wind chime. Again, I didn’t know I needed one. But I totally needed one. I put it up on the piñata hook on our back patio. It’s been cooler in the evenings, and with the windows open, I can hear it chime. I LOVE the thing. Probably because it makes me think of fall and cooler weather. I always say I wish I could get as excited as the kiddos do about the smallest of things. I suppose I do without realizing this.

More fun home stuff. I’ve been in a rug phase. In June I updated kitchen rugs and our bathroom rug. In July, I updated the front porch rug, although it’s the same rug we’ve had for four years but new… the older one was faded. It’s the sloth astronaut. I was on the hunt for a new rug for in front of the door to the garage. Clearly I have an animal anthropomorphization obsession. I found raccoons on a scooter. Sold. There was no hesitation the moment I found them. The rug was ordered and I am so happy with the little guys! It makes me smile every time I walk out to the garage.

And maybe not fun, but another victim. I’m also in a plant phase. Brian calls them victims since I kill most of them. Which is true. This sucker is a replacement for the plant I killed in the art room.

Back to fun, my bird bath. I love everything Talavera pottery, so of course it was the style bird bath I wanted. We’ve had multiple customers!

Lemon juice! Blaise is slightly obsessed with juicing lemons. Every time I go to Costco, he requests a bag of lemons. It’s cheap entertainment. He worked hard to juice them all, making lemonade for his sisters. That’s one of his wonderful traits, he loves doing things for others.

Fourth of July. Not a holiday I care about. This is Brian’s time to shine. Carnation’s thing is Fourth of July. It’s even highlighted on the sign driving into the town. The day starts with a 5K run; followed by a pancake breakfast; parade; outdoor entertainment, like basketball games, bounce houses, food trucks, bands; and ends with the big firework show in Tolt MacDonald Park. I begrudgingly participate in the parade, once the pancake breakfast. I went to the firework show once, back in 2015 when we were building the house. But this year, Covid. Everything was cancelled. Well, not everything. They had a firework show where they shot the fireworks higher so people could see them from their own yards.

The day was free of everything Fourth of July. But it was jam-packed. The Fourth is also Laine’s buddy’s birthday. And Brian has been going on long runs with a few coworker friends Saturday mornings. The day started with me getting up early as usual, going for my run. Then Brian and Laine left, Brian dropping her at her buddy’s house so they could head to the mall and shop, Covid style. Brian continued to Redmond, hitting the trail for nine miles.

Brian made it home about 2pm, Laine was dropped off about 3pm, and we packed up and went over to our friend’s house on Lake Marcel for dinner and fireworks. Now this is how I’m down to celebrate the Fourth. No crowds and the kiddos can roam free with friends.

Fireworks are illegal in Carnation city limits, where we live; they are legal in Carnation outer limits, where Lake Marcel is located. So we had fireworks. So did several other neighbors. There were fireworks in the sky almost non-stop when it got dark. Even before it was dark, one house was shooting them up in the sky long before the sun was down. The kiddos had a blast! Even I appreciated the fireworks, and I never do. Blaise and his buddy rowed out in the lake to get a better view of the sky fireworks. Smart idea!

Lake 22. Karann and I hiked up to Lake 22 the morning after the Fourth of July. I may have mentioned, it’s absolutely stunning.

Camp Orkila. The annual trip happened. Later and longer, but it happened. All about Camp Orkila here.

Maive time. Brian had the older four kiddos at Camp Orkila, Maive and I were on our own. We had a nice time together. I’m sure she wondered where all her people were, it was so quiet. She thrives on the chaos around here. There’s always something going on, someone messing with her, something. With just me, boring. We played though. We hit the trails, we met up with a friend, we shopped. But mostly we stayed home and I enjoyed the clean and quiet. It was much needed.

She was cute. She’s never been in a shopping cart before. And probably not the ideal time to stick her in the cart—pandemic germs and all—but I went for it. She was so impressed! Happiest smiles the entire time in Target. By the time we were finished shopping and walking to the car, she fully embraced the shopping cart. Relaxed as could be, foot up. Life is good for Maive.

At Costco, she was pretty excited for the saran wrap. At Target in the cart for the first time. And in her stroller for a trail walk with a friend.

Traeger, take two. Brian’s hobby is finding hobbies. It’s rare he repeats hobbies but here we are. Brian bought a Traeger back in the fall of 2017. He had been wanting a smoker for a while. Brian’s like this. He likes the process of buying things. Researching, thinking it through, making sure it’s the right purchase. After wanting one for months—years maybe—he finally bought one in September 2017. I remember, because we had Lisa with the kiddos to have an anniversary outing after we got back from Legoland. So of course we went to Costco.

Brian didn’t even use the smoker until December 2017. Then he went on a smoking meat kick. There were books ordered, YouTube videos watched, meat bought weekly to smoke. He smoked every week. Then the smoker stopped smoking. He talked with Traeger, it still wouldn’t smoke. They ended up taking it back. Brian was down on the Traeger, he didn’t want another one. He eventually bought a cheap one off Amazon. He used it once. It’s basically a backyard decoration at this point. His meat smoking hobby died out. Like most of his hobbies.

Almost three years later, he decided he wanted another Traeger. He had the meat smoking itch. I was proud of him, it only took him a few months from realizing he wanted one to purchasing one. He even put it together the same day it was delivered. He was itching for some brisket. Laine was itching for some ribs. And since her birthday was the coming weekend, the inaugural smoke was ribs.

Laine excited the Traeger arrived because it meant ribs. And Brian preparing ribs for Laine’s birthday dinner the next day.

Pack ‘N Play Maive. We started transitioning Maive to sleeping in the Pack ‘N Play. She had been in our bed for naps and nights from the get go. But now she rolls and moves, and we want some freedom to not be with her 100% of the time while she sleeps. Maybe only 90% of the time. It’s been great, mostly. After she falls asleep, we can do things. Unless she wakes up and sees she’s alone. And by alone, I mean her in the Pack ‘N Play and us on the couch or in the bathroom still within view… but not right next to her like she’s used to. Now she’s transitioning to one nap a day and an early bedtime. We’ll see how August goes.

Tolt MacDonald kiddos. Outdoor play dates, that’s the thing to do these days. Maybe because it’s summer, maybe because of Covid. Probably a little bit of both. We met up with some friends at the park for some nature exploration. Like the good ol’ days.

Sherman is BACK! I was so exited to see the little guy again. I was hoping he would make an appearance this summer. I kept looking from the end of May on, when it started to get warmer. Laine said she saw him in late June. I didn’t get a visual on him until early July. This is his third year living out front, in the garage post. The first year he moved in, I would go out front every day, sit down and chat with him. It took several days for him to not run up the post away from me. Eventually I gained his trust and I can easily go out and chat with him, and the cute little guy just sits there and looks at me. He’s definitely part of the family.

All day play. These kiddos have the life. Brian and I say this often. This was July 18, the day before Laine’s birthday. Blaise, Laine, and Saige went over to their buddies’ house to spend the day. They had a blast. There was lake swimming, outdoor play, indoor play, video game play… everything play. Blaise plays Smash Bros online every Saturday, in an online club. His buddy joined the club, so they were able to join the online club together this afternoon. Brian, Baby, Maive, and I met them for dinner and s’mores before heading home to prepare for Laine’s birthday. Needless to say, the kiddos were exhausted.

Nine! Laine is nine! Thanks to Covid, she couldn’t have a big party. I think it worked out better anyway, and she said she liked this birthday the best. She had two buddies over, whom we’ve been seeing regularly. Covid families or pods, whatever the new terminology is these days. Laine requested a pizza lunch, a movie, ice cream cake, and ribs for dinner. And that’s exactly what we did.

Her buddies came around 11am, with their little sisters and one big brother in tow to hang with our other kiddos. When I asked Laine if she was okay inviting the younger sisters, she said, “Yes! That would be helpful to keep Saige away.” Hahaha. She’s right, it was helpful. The gals partied, we ate pizza for lunch, they watched Burlesque (Laine is going through a Christina Aguilera phase), partied some more, ate ice cream cake, partied even more, and finished with ribs for dinner. It was a successful birthday!

Also in July, Laine got an expander. I noticed she wasn’t showing her teeth when smiling for pictures, starting late last year. I know she’s self-conscious about her teeth so I made an orthodontist appointment in June. That whole pandemic thing caused a delay. I took Blaise and Laine for consultations in late June, already knowing what they would say: Laine needs braces, Blaise needs nothing. He has my teeth.

Before Laine gets braces in September, she needs the expander. She’s a tough cookie. Not once has she complained about the thing, and every night when Brian expands it little by little, she goes with it. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but having never had any teeth stuff, I think she’s a champ. And with everything Covid, she pretty much does all the appointments on her own. They ask parents to wait in their cars. Which is totally fine by me.

Swimmers! Like everything else, swimming lessons were cancelled back in June. In July, our swimming instructor emailed that she was offering private lessons for families. Having hella kids, this was perfect. All the kiddos swim fine on their own but it never hurts to keep up lessons. We went for a week straight, 45 minutes every day. Even Maive got her swimming on. Her first time! Each lesson is 30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of free time. Maive went in two days during the free time. I think she’s a fan. I can’t wait for her to get her swim on all day, every day when we head to California in August.

The way Laine and Blaise look at Maive, they are in love with her!

Back to school shopping. Or maybe just shopping? I always loved back to school shopping. I would even ask to go to the office supply store for fun during other times of the year. I still have an unhealthy obsession with office supplies. The goal was to buy new backpacks and lunch boxes, and some notebooks, folders, pencils, and whatnot. We left with rolling luggage bags also. They ganged up and decided they each needed one for the upcoming California trip. That we do every year. And they have survived without rolling luggage every year. But hey, we’re in a pandemic. Life is not normal for them. So why not get a rolling luggage bag for each of them if it makes them happy?

Maive was shopped out.

Tolt River. Nothing special, just the river on one of my morning runs. It sounded beautiful here.

Speaking of Tolt River, the dam failure. Just kidding. Haha. This was fun. The last week of July, I was driving when Brian called. He said the dam failure alarm was going off, and it was saying to evacuate immediately. There is a dam about 15 miles up Tolt River… it’s the drinking water for the area. If the dam ever breaks, Carnation will be inundated with all the reservoir water. We knew this moving here, researched the dam and what would happen if it were to break, and felt comfortable enough living downstream from the dam. There’s a reason why Carnation is still affordable. And by affordable, I mean you can buy a home for a mere $750,000.

When Brian called me, I went numb. Like one more thing to deal with, 2020. But then my instinct was it was a false alarm. There had been no earthquake, it hasn’t been raining, they monitor that dam like crazy… there was nothing that made my totally non-expert self think it was real. Blaise, Laine, and Maive were with me; Brian got Saige and Baby ready, and were about to evacuate when I read that it was officially a false alarm. He said he was surprised at how many people were just standing in their driveways instead of evacuating. Brian stayed ready just in case the false alarm turned into something real. Apparently the dam failure alarm kept going off even after they called it a false alarm.

People are all up in arms about the false alarm. Like calling for people to be fired. Ridiculous. Eh, it wasn’t real. That’s all that matters in my book. Accidents happen, people learn from them. If anything, it was a solid reminder to be prepared if the dam ever really does fail. And we live in a damn dam inundation zone… it can happen, people. I just imagine some poor worker, who accidentally hit the dam failure alarm. Talk about an amazing work story.

It’s funny, after I knew Brian and the kids would be safe up the hill, I couldn’t have cared less if the dam broke. I mean, I didn’t want it to, but everything is just stuff. Knowing my people would be safe was all that mattered. And, I’m so glad it Brian who was home. He’s Mr. Calm. Almost to an annoying degree.

Brisket Brian. Brian was in his element. He was finally able to smoke a brisket. I don’t know how many videos he watched the week prior, mostly of Aaron Franklin trimming and smoking briskets. Brian is a process guy for sure. He likes learning about everything in detail, which is exactly what he does when it comes to smoking brisket.

His running crew decided to hit the trails in Carnation this day, and then they came to our backyard for a brisket lunch. Brian started the process the evening before, trimming and rubbing the meat while the kiddos ate dinner. They were not fans of looking at a slab of raw meat while eating. I agree with them. But Brian was on a self-imposed brisket schedule, needing for it to come off the smoker about 10am the next morning. Everything was prepared and the smoking commenced. He smoked it overnight, even getting up at 3am to do something to the meat. It was ready just after 10am the next morning. He was on his run and left it to me to pull the dead cow off the smoker. As a vegetarian, he owes me one.

They made it home from their run about 11:30am and he started slicing the sucker up. Glove and all. It was a success. Everyone enjoyed the meat and his running buddies brought sides. It was a complete meal. I think Brian felt pretty great about how it all turned out. There wasn’t much meat left after the runners and kiddos ate, and we gave about a pound to our neighbors. I think it was a 23 pound brisket?

Camper kiddos. Who don’t camp, haha. Well, we cabin. Which is camping in my book. Before kids, I used to say that anything three stars or below is camping. I’ve relaxed my standards, either with age or with kiddos.

We’ve been having backyard play dates with friends. Covid play. This morning, one of Saige and Baby’s outdoor school friends came over. She has an older brother Laine’s age and a younger toddler brother. It’s perfect. There is someone for all the kiddos to hang out with. Even the toddler brother, he and Baby both love Paw Patrol. Baby busts out all her vehicles and tower, and they go to town. The kiddos were on the skate ramp… we store all the sleeping bags and folding chairs under one side of the ramp. They found them and pulled everything out, setting up a camp in the backyard. Compete with the cooler. I always enjoy when the kiddos create scenarios to play.

It was a fun morning that turned into an afternoon, after they all ate lunch in their respective camps. A perfect pandemic summer day.

Lake Sammamish. The kiddos’ friends live off Lake Sammamish. Which means their community has a private beach on the lake. We met them there for some water fun. Blaise and Laine took to kayaking between swimming. Fun times as always.

I love this. Blaise and Laine, and their buddies were hanging out at a picnic table. I went over to round them up to leave, and asked to grab a picture of them before we left. These two other kiddos just hopped in the picture, hahaha. Sweet kiddos but we don’t know them. They are neighbors of the friends so not total strangers.

Talus Loop. Another hike checked off the list. I love early morning hikes. And we live in a beautiful area.

Lake Marcel, take one. We have friends who live on Lake Marcel, which means we are lucky enough to go with them to the community beach. We’ve been a few times already this summer, but I have no picture proof, haha. It’s the perfect area for the kiddos. The water is calm and the swimming area is the perfect depth. We spent a few hours there before leaving. Blaise has a weekly outschool class he needed to be home for and Laine had to leave for gymnastics practice.

Laine and her buddy picked out the exact same swimsuit, without knowing the other had. Target, of course. They almost look like twins when they are far away—same suit and hair color, and similar hair length. Baby wore herself out and decided to relax in the avocado instead of swim. Maive couldn’t keep up with all the action and passed out on the picnic blanket.

New phone, cute baby. I decided I needed a new phone, specifically for a better camera. My old one had been giving me problems also, but I could have dealt with them I suppose. I was testing out the new camera with Miss Maive. The camera is soooo much better for my total amateur self.

Blueberry picking. The annual tradition. We go to the same blueberry farm every year, because I’m a creature of habit. Bybee Farms, it’s such a beautiful place. The blueberry fields are right under Mt. Si. Brian joined us this year; he took the day off to spend with the family.

They open at 9am, we arrived at 8:56am. And the parking lot was already half-full. It’s always busy, even more so during pandemic times… it’s outside, social distancing is easy, and it’s something to do for all ages. We grabbed buckets and got to picking. An hour later, we called it a success. We left for home with almost 12 pounds of blueberries.

Blueberries are by far my favorite berries to pick. I’m not even a berry fan, but strawberries you have to bed down and they can be juicy; raspberries are fragile; blackberries have thorns and I had a snake experience one year; blueberries are hardy, there are no thorns, and when you can grab a rip bunch and yank them off at the same time, super satisfying.

The pickers, before!

The pickers during.

Okay, I love this. I have pictures of Saige and Baby around the same age, in the same stroller, also eating blueberries from branches. Here’s Miss Maive, keeping the tradition alive. And bonus, she hit nine months this day.

Maive, keeping the tradition alive!

Past years, past blueberry picking babies!

Saige picking blueberries at 10 months.

Baby picking blueberries at nine months.

Lake Marcel, take two. After blueberry picking, we stopped at home for a quick lunch before heading back to Lake Marcel for another hot afternoon. Blaise and Laine’s other buddy lives in the Lake Marcel community, and his birthday was this day. He asked if they could come to the community beach to celebrate with him. We took the whole family, Brian included. In the years we have been going there, he had never been.

It was noon when we arrived and it wasn’t until just after 4pm when we packed up. The kiddos had a blast, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, relaxing… everything lake and beach. Maive even dipped her tootsies in the lake, enjoying herself. We ordered a pizza for pickup on the way home, and we all crashed after a busy day.

Laine is not wearing a life jacket, I know. The water where she was kayaking within the roped off area is shallow enough that she can stand without her head under the water. But still, we know better.

Ice cream! Haha, Baby. The last day of July, Blaise, Laine, and Saige went over to their friends’ house. Baby likes to stay with us; she says she’s too little to be dropped off. Whatever works for her. Brian decided to take her on a mini-date, up the the local ice cream shop. They went, she was happy.

The time came to grab the other kiddos and continue on to take Laine to gymnastics. Baby decided to come with me. About 20 minutes after picking up the others, we were driving in the car and it was quiet. Out of nowhere, Baby says, “Ice cream!” Followed a few minutes later—after no reaction from anyone—with, “Do you guys know why I said ice cream? Because I had ice cream when you guys were gone.” She just had to rub it in, haha.

That was July. We are heading to California in August, to spend a week with family, embracing summer as Brian and I did as kids… swim all day, every day. We had planned on taking two weeks off to social distance prior to leaving, which included the last week or so of July. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The intention was there. I was good for a few days.

It’s hard to say no, especially when it’s mostly outside stuff with people whom we trust. And I’ve been following the case numbers in our surrounding cities, and things look good. I mean, I’m no expert at all. But when I see zero positives under the “new since yesterday” column for weeks, I feel pretty comfortable heading out and about to certain areas, still with precautions of course. I did pull Saige from a cheerleading camp in July, after seeing nine “new since yesterday” positives in Redmond the week before her camp, that was in Redmond. Eh, I don’t know anything. I’m navigating new territory, figuring it all out as I go. Like everyone else.

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