November Twenty Twenty

Talk about an uneventful month. Like super uneventful. I’ve been dragging my feet even getting around to posting about November because there’s nothing major to note. There was Thanksgiving. That was something. And Martha… she was the highlight of the month. But November came and went like no big deal.

Let’s get right to the uneventfulness. Here goes:

Martha.

Martha is our new resident lizard out front. We have this post next to our garage that acts as an apartment building for reptiles. Sherman has been the main resident for a few years now. He is a wild Northern alligator lizard who took up residence in the post back in 2018. At first he wasn’t sure of me. But I worked hard at letting him know I was harmless and we eventually became buds. He’d let me come over and chat with him, without him running up the post. He’s been back the last three years. Usually making his first appearance in June, and leaving us in September. Probably to hibernate? Except this year. I haven’t seen him since mid-July. Perhaps he moved out. Because we have Martha now.

Martha! Laine named her. Or him?

Martha made her appearance in late October. At first I thought it was Sherman when I saw her from a distance. Except Martha is smaller and her tail is cut off. Clearly not Sherman, based on size. Because we anthropomorphize everything, we have theories. Maybe Sherman and Martha were dating and broke up, and he moved out. Or maybe he took off to winter in a warmer place, leasing his post to Martha. I’ve seen a snake head up the post before, so we’ve also theorized that Sherman has quite the bachelor bad up there with friends over all the time.

Martha is a sweetie. She seems to understand we are safe… she never scuttles way from us. And while sweet and not afraid of us, she doesn’t seem to make the best lizard decisions. Maybe this is why she’s missing half of her tail? She sits in the middle of the driveway, in the rain. In view of birds and other predators. And when she does hide, bad spots. Like under our tires. So of course every time we go to leave, we have to check under each tire. It started to get cold and she would still be sitting in the middle of the pouring rain. I felt bad for her. I mean, I’m sure she’s fine since she has lizard instincts but we made a little home for her just in case. I padded it with some washcloths for warmth and a little hut to hide under. She took up residence quickly! We haven’t seen her since early December. Maybe she’s up in the bachelor pad. I’m curious to see who returns next spring, Sherman or Martha. Or maybe a new resident lizard.

Lockdown.

The never-ending pandemic. We’re back in lockdown here in Washington. I’m okay with this. We personally locked down hardcore in the beginning. Like we went nowhere from March until June. I loosened up a bit, with masks and social distancing of course. We see the same people whom we trust, and the kiddos attend mostly outdoor classes. Laine was going to gymnastics practice 12 hours each week, which we felt comfortable with. They’ve been practicing since mid-June with precautions and there haven’t been any Covid issues. And the four kiddos attend pod dance classes, that are with families whom we trust. And again, no Covid issues. Maybe we’re tempting fate with indoor activities, but I’m okay with our choices. Now eating out the few times we did, that was a bad call looking back. Hindsight. But with this new lockdown, Laine’s gymnastics is on hold. Zoom practices only. And really, it’s a nice break. Selfishly. We don’t have to drive to Woodinville four times a week, especially during the 203 closure.

So yeah, we’re sticking close to home since the lockdown. And really, in general. If only everyone would, maybe we could nip this Covid thing in the bud. But that should have happened back in February when the totally incompetent administration decided to politicize a pandemic. Is it January 20 yet?! For Christ’s sake, who the fuck still supports that man person (he’s no man)?! I mean, I question those who ever supported him but now, now… I’ll just keep my commentary to myself. I digress. My foot (update below) is better so we can get outside now. Score! That’s a pandemic game changer.

Picture time. It was announced Saturday that Inslee was likely going to lockdown again, with his announcement Sunday at 11am. Laine has (had, before lockdown) practice on Sundays at 11:30am. So she had practice the Sunday morning Inslee announced lockdown. That Saturday evening, Brian’s mom was over. We were talking about the lockdown and how people go crazy buying toilet paper. This is so weird, but whatever. I mean, I’d want rice and water over toilet paper, if there were ever some sort of major event that caused production or shopping to stop. Anyway. His mom needed toilet paper. And I like a challenge. So I said we’d hit Costco before Laine’s practice; we’d be out and about anyway. Hahaha. It was insane. I’ve never Black Friday shopped but I imagine pandemic shopping is similar.

We went to Target first, since Costco doesn’t open until 10am. Target was dead. It was the standard Sunday morning Target crowd. The older folks and those of us who like to avoid crowds. Then Costco. I stopped at the gas station first since it was about 9:40am. After filling up, I figured we’d park and hang out in the car until they opened at 10am. Nope. The line was so freaking long. It was all the way down and around the back of Costco, wrapped back around the front and past the entrance. Laine and I looked at each other and decided we’d go for it. We’d pandemic shop once just to say we did. We had time to kill anyway.

Pandemic shopping at Costco.

Laine and I lined up, back around Costco. It was fairly smooth. When they opened, the line moved quickly and we were inside. Once inside, it felt like a standard Costco crowd. It didn’t feel super busy. We nosed around and picked out fruit and veggies, and muffins. I was there for the muffins. We eventually made it back to the toilet paper. There were a few people ahead of us, and a Costco employee monitoring us shoppers. Limit one. We scored a package of toilet paper for Brian’s mom and went about our business, nosing in the Christmas and book aisles. By the time we were finished looking at books and clothes, the line for toilet paper was looooong. I snapped a picture to show Brian.

Toilet paper line. We were nosing at clothes when we realized this was the line for toilet paper. Haha!

Laine and I were finished shopping. Costco was prepared. Every checkout lane was open, and we were able to walk right up with no wait. We left and the entire Costco parking lot was packed. There were no open spots. People were jockeying for our parking spot. And the line to get into Costco was still wrapped back around the back of the building. Laine and I were happy to be leaving.

Room Migration of 2020.

The Great Room Migration of 2020 according to Brian. I had been really down about my foot. Like sitting on the couch, super depressed from weeks—over two months—of not being able to hit the trails. At first I accepted my fate, and told myself it was just a small blip in life. And it is. But as one who needs trail outings for my mental health, it really started to get to me there at the end. Especially since I have no other me time outlets with the pandemic. If I could go to musicals or other events, maybe my foot wouldn’t have bothered me so much. Brian said I’d have this look on my face, like I was about to lose it. Haha. He knows I like to organize and clean things, so he suggested we start moving the kiddos’ rooms. Something we could do at home, with my foot out of commission. This was the longterm plan anyway, after Maive eventually moves out of our bed (if she ever does). I was thinking spring.

We moved each kiddo into their own room, moving each kiddo from whatever room they were in to another room. Nothing stayed where it was. Blaise took over Saige and Baby’s room, which he is loving. It has a walk-in closet that he put a desk in and uses as a mini-office. Baby took over Blaise’s old room, which is so perfect for her. It’s the biggest room with the most floorspace for playing. Maive will eventually move in with her; she’ll get the bottom bunk. Saige took over Laine’s room, at the top of the stairs. It was actually Saige’s room when we first moved in. We move rooms often, haha. Saige wanted the guest bed, which is a full-size bed. We have guests maybe once a year, now that Brian’s mom lives in Redmond. We made a deal with Saige that if she took the guest bed, then she had to get a television in her room for guests. She was sold. Really, we wanted an extra television upstairs so when kiddos eventually have friends over again, if some want to game and others want to watch a movie or whatever, there are options.

Laine took over the guest room, moving her bunk beds in there so she has enough floor space for her mat and beam. The mat and beam that gymnastics suggested we buy while the girls are Zoom practicing. I love how we pay $!!!/month for gymnastics, and then they suggested we buy a beam that is $250 the same day lockdown was announced. And also suggested a mat, similarly priced. Such is life as a gymnast. Brian had his office in the guest room, which we moved to our master closet. We have this ridiculous master closet. It’s so freaking big. Like a long, wide bowling alley. Even our master bedroom is ridiculously large. And our bathroom, it’s more square feet than my studio apartment in college. I don’t understand why masters have to be so big. What do people do in theirs?!

We’ve been planning on moving Brian to the back of our closet for some time. We even have an estimate to make it an official room. Brian wanted to get in there and see how he uses the space before we make any final decisions. I think he’s talking about a half-wall at this point? I don’t know; it’s his space so whatever he wants to do. I hope he figures it out soon though… there are holes galore from taking down the closet shelving. They don’t seem to bother him, only me. And it’s not my space so it doesn’t matter if they bother me. The cats though, they aren’t super happy. Our closet has been their space since the day we moved in here. And since Brian went to the allergist in early November—with the tests showing he is allergic to cats, dogs, and basically the Pacific Northwest—we had to kick the cats out of the closet when Brian moved his office in there. Which hasn’t worked well. Notice both cats in his office. I may have moved a cat bed back in there. Good thing there are allergy drugs.

Brian’s new office space. No cats allowed, haha! Eventually we’ll wall it off somehow. I love how his famous striped sweaters are in the picture… Brian is known for wearing only striped sweaters.

Everyone is loving their new space! I’m loving the setup also. It feels like we’re using all of the upstairs space now; nothing is wasted. And everything is clean, organized, and decluttered. Not that I put up with clutter but a certain son of ours likes to keep LEGO and Cobi boxes… I’m very proud of him for finally recycling them. I even went through all the rooms and cleaned the baseboards and woodwork. I swear kiddo fingerprints get everywhere. Why do kids touch everything?! And I’m especially loving Brian’s office in our closet. His stuff fits perfectly, and he’s all neatly tucked away in there. It’s nice because I think he has always wanted to screw around on his computer at night but he never has because his office was upstairs, away from me. In our closet, he is still close by when I’m hanging out in our bedroom. Almost 25 years now and we like to be around each other all the time. It’s probably unhealthy under the guise of being endearing.

Thanksgiving.

Nothing to note. It was the standard Turkey Day around here. With one change: Brian smoked the turkey. Actually, two changes: Mike and Katherine didn’t join us. Damn Covid. Brian loves Thanksgiving. He goes all out, cooking most of the afternoon in preparation for dinner. And it was the same this year. I don’t eat meat and I don’t like to cook, so I set the table. I went all out this year, and bought disposable Thanksgiving plates and napkins. Fancy!

Dinner was great. And rumor has it the turkey turned out really great on the smoker. My favorite tradition—Laine’s too—is tossing rolls to each other. My grandmother was all about manners, and my grandfather liked to drive her nuts by tossing rolls to each other at Thanksgiving dinner. We carry on the tradition. Which is kind of ironic because I’m pretty hardcore about the kiddos having proper table manners. Which is an ongoing lesson. After dinner, we all settled on the couch—kiddos wearing matching pajamas—and watched Elf. Not too shabby for a pandemic Thanksgiving.

Matching pajama kiddos.

And a foot update.

After four weeks of non-weight bearing, I was given the green light to walk with a boot on November 4. Score! I spent all of November wearing the damn boot. Which was so much better than non-weight bearing but still not ideal. I could drive, but had to take the boot off and put it back on before getting out of the car. It was a bit of a hassle but totally manageable. I felt free again, haha. I may have even walked Mel around our block wearing the boot. Probably not recommended but I went for it anyway. I went back to my podiatrist in early December and I am now in shoes! Weird looking shoes but shoes. I can walk. Short distances. That maybe I’ve milked a bit more and hit the trail. Shorter walks that I’m used to but it’s the freaking trail! I go back at the end of December to check in… hopefully I get the green light to run and hike soon. I’m itching to do both, or either. I’ll take whatever I can get. Of course the damn bone I fractured is one that takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to heal. Like up to six months.


The rest of November, in pictures.

Kitchen Maive. I moved the kiddo kitchen downstairs for Maive to play with. She’s mostly downstairs these days, so it made sense to move the thing. She loves the kitchen. She’s at that fun age where everything she does is new and exciting, and super adorable. Like pouring pretend orange juice into a cup.

Art Wednesday. I had been setting aside Wednesdays to do set art projects with Saige and Baby, while Blaise and Laine are at Wilderness. This Wednesday in early November, the girls made Christmas ornaments. Two of their buddies came over to join us. Notice my dying plant in the back. Another victim. Sorry, plant. It’s since been replaced with a coat rack. Brian never asks for much around the house, so when he does, I oblige.

Santa squirrel. Mel goes through toys. Likely because he hadn’t been getting his long walks. I’d buy him toys in hopes they would make him happy. He loves toys. And he loves to rip them apart. Every toy I’ve bought him, he rips open and tears out the squeak. Even the ones that say they won’t break. Turns out these Santa squirrels I found at HomeGoods for $7 are indestructible. Or maybe since he’s getting walks again, he has less pent-up aggression? Whatever the reason, they are a hit. They came in a three-pack and all are still alive and well!

Park Maive! Saige and Baby had one of their outdoor classes at Perrigo Park this day. Maive and I arrived early to pick them up… so she got to get her park on. For the first time, I think?! She walked around like she knew where she was. There were two younger girls there, maybe four. They were playing with each other when they spotted Maive. They immediately came over and doted all over her, distanced of course. Wearing masks. It was funny, one of the girls’ moms wanted to chat, asking the standard park mom questions: How old is she? Etc. I answered she had just turned one. To which the mom replied. “Oh, I remember those days!” And proceeded to talk about the different stages I’ll be experiencing soon. I never say anything because I know most people are coming from a good place, with good intentions. The only thing I wonder about, is how do I look like a first time mom? I’m 41. It actually happens more often than it should. We chatted—she chatted—and then I saw Saige and Baby starting to walk back with their class. I said I needed to go grab my other kiddos. To which she was like, “Oh!” Haha.

Park Maive!

Little Miss in the mix! She was part of the class. That’s Baby with the wolf backpack and Saige with the emoji backpack. It’s quite sweet, several of the other kiddos have younger siblings so they are sweet with Maive.

Outdoor writing class, with games. Laine and Blaise attend a weekly writing class. Normally they are in-person from 9am-3pm, but Covid. Instead, they attend the writing-focused class online in the morning and then head to the park in the afternoon for the optional outdoor portion of the class. They spend their time writing and playing games. They have an amazing teacher; he is super fun.

Kitties! Maive has discovered the kitties. She LOVES them. Rather, loves to harass them. And they put up with her. I am always amazed at how sweet our animals are with the kiddos. It’s like they all know babies are terrors and put up with them. Maive likes to kiss them and pet them. And by pet them, she basically hammers them with her open hand. We’re working on gentle. This is Snugs. Our other cat is Moose, who is pure white. Baby calls Snugs “Black Moose” because she has yet to learn Snugs’ name in her five years.

Blaise! Just a random picture of Blaise that I took walking past the kiddo bathroom. I caught him off-guard and then he went to close the door so I wouldn’t take anymore pictures.

Turkey cookies! Papa and Wawa sent up turkey cookie decorating kits for the kiddos. They decorated and then ate them. Gobble, gobble.

Sibling love! Maive with Laine, who was wearing her new onsie. All the gym girls wear onsies over their leos on Sundays. And Maive with Blaise, in the fort he made for her. These two kiddos—Blaise and Laine—are amazing older siblings. The way they innately care for Maive, it’s pretty awesome. And I love how they pick up Maive and whip her around on their hip. It’s freaking adorable. We never ask them to do anything for her. I don’t ever want to be one of those larger families where the older kiddos have to care for the younger kiddos. Now if they want to, fine. But it has to be their choice.

Firestarters! The four kiddos all attend outdoor classes where they start fires. Even in their outdoor preschool days, they were starting fires. This afternoon, I kicked them all outside for some fresh air. It had been cold and raining. And while that never usually stops us, we spent most of November inside because my boot wasn’t backyard, mud-friendly. I left them to their own devices and the next thing I saw was fire. Eh, they are all safe and careful.

Mat Maive. We bought Laine a mat when her practices moved to Zoom. Maive thought it was for her.

Random Maive pictures. And a potato. Maive experiencing a lollipop, thanks to brother. Maive in a box, because boxes are the best toys. And Maive standing, because why not? Also, a potato toy Laine made for Maive. We kept the thing until it started to sprout.

Apple painting. We had some questionable apples so I decided to cut them in half and let Saige and Baby paint with them. I was thinking more along the lines of apple stamping but they went to town, spreading the paint with the apples. Whatever works.

Gingerbread houses! Normally every November, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we go to the KidsQuest Gingerbread House event. It’s in a ballroom at a hotel in Bellevue. They have pre-made gingerbread houses and candy tables, ready for the kiddos to ravage and gather candy galore to decorate their houses. They even have Frosting Fairies… volunteers who walk around handing out frosting when you raise your magic wand. It’s a great event and I love that we get to leave the mess behind. We’ve been attending since Blaise was two or three, and we’ve gone every year since. The past few years, our friends have joined us. This year, no event. Covid. Instead, we held our own event. Fun times! Laine even asked if we can make doing it at home the new tradition, instead of going to the KidsQuest event.


That was an uneventful November. We’re five days away from Christmas. That’ll bring some excitment around here!

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