Decembuary 20 | 21

This is going to be loooong. Not only because it’s two months in one post. But because I know me. And I’m in a rambling mood. This is an outlet for me; an escape. Or es-cah-pay, one of the few movie lines I’ve retained all these years. Dory in Finding Nemo, when she realizes she knows how to read. Except Legally Blonde. I pretty much know that movie by heart. Brian is a movie line person. He randomly busts out movie lines from obscure scenes, and we’re all like, huh?! It’s a joke around here, when he says a movie line and looks at us like we’re the weird ones for not knowing which movie the line is from, where we ask him things like, “What time is the kiddos’ hip hop class?” or “Which park is Saige and Baby’s outdoor class at this week?” And he is totally clueless. But he knows a random movie line from 1982.

I’m not a big movie person. Every night, Brian peruses Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney Plus, Hulu, YouTube, and whatever else we have, for what feels like hours. (We cancelled Hulu after we finished The Great. It kept crashing.) By the time he finds something, I’m almost asleep and I think, we could have totally watched something in the time you spent looking for something to watch. There must be a name for people who do this?! The thing is, I couldn’t care less what he picks. I just don’t like watching him look for something. I’m more of a just put something on for background noise while I screw around on my phone television watcher… I’ve discovered Tik Tok. The rabbit hole of entertaining, mindless videos. My background noise preference: murder shows. I love ID Network and Oxygen, Forensic Files. The only reason we still have Comcast.

My murder love (sounds morbid) started when I was a teenager and read serial killer books. Ted Bundy was my first one. Which wasn’t the best timing because this was around the time I started running at dusk, alone. Zodiac was my next book. And then Dahmer. Looking back and reflecting on my murder interest, I love human behavior. Why people do the things they do. My human behavior interest has expanded beyond murderers to general human behavior—including self-reflection, which can be enlightening—but I still enjoy watching murder shows.

We didn’t have a television in our bedroom for years. Sometimes I wish we didn’t. But when Maive was born, we knew we’d be spending a ton of time in our bedroom. She’s still in our bed. And she goes to bed anywhere between 5:30-7pm, which makes for a loooong night for one of us, stuck in our bedroom. She knows when we leave, even when she’s asleep. She could be passed out cold and the moment we leave, she starts stirring. Pandemic baby. Always has parents around. I’ve tried giving her the boot to the crib next to our bed. But the moment you even hover her over the crib, horrific tears. We don’t see the need to put her through any sort of stress when it comes to sleep; I could never do that cry it out thing. We’ve accepted she’ll likely be in our bed through the end of the year. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. And, she’s the last one so we let her milk it a bit more. I digress. We briefly put a television in our bedroom after Blaise was born. I remember binge watching Lost those first few months after he was born. We moved it out of our room after he started sleeping through the night. I don’t remember having one after Laine was born?! Then again, I don’t remember much from then… two kiddos under one + postpartum depression = a blur.

Brian, he isn’t a fan of my murder shows. He calls them depressing. And then we watch his uplifting selections of war movies. And if not a war movie, a period piece. I can’t even count how many times we’ve watched Pride and Prejudice. This is his go-to movie. When there is absolutely nothing he can find to watch, it’s all about Mr. Darcy. I suppose he likes movies about space also. We’ve watched Interstellar, The Martian, and Arrival so.many.times. And if not a movie, we watch coding or rock climbing videos on YouTube. I particularly like the Beta Climbers guy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and it feels like he is genuinely enjoying himself. Then there are times Brian asks if I want to watch [insert movie] again. And I’m like, I’ve never seen [insert movie]. To which he’ll say, we saw it in the theatre back in [movie release year]. No recollection. AT ALL. To be fair, I don’t remember Lost much at all either, and I know I watched that. I can remember birthdays from people in my sixth grade class, but I can’t remember seeing hours-long movies or shows. I suppose we all have our talents.

The other thing about murder shows, I can’t get over how messy some people live. They often show pictures from homes of those murdered or homes of murderers during the investigation, and from crime scenes. I think this when I walk in the summer at dusk… nosing in the windows of homes, seeing clutter on kitchen counters. And garage doors open, stuff galore (no room for cars). So when pictures from murder shows are shown, I always think, if I’m ever murdered and my home is searched during the investigation, my house better be super clean so the pictures look nice. Kind of like social media pictures. I never look at the intended subject first; I always look in the background. It’s a habit. There was one murderer whom they searched his home, and the investigator commented on camera how pristine the home was. They showed pictures of the murderer’s dresser drawers, impressive. He made Marie Kondo look messy. So whenever we leave the house or go to bed, it’s picture-perfect just in case. Haha. It is anyway, but the possibility of being murdered is a nudge to keep me on my cleanliness toes.

I knew I’d ramble. Let’s get to the months.

But first, since I mentioned Legally Blonde up there… whomever wrote this speech for that awful former president is a trolling genius. And that it was for a university commencement speech, brilliant.

Her wig really throws off this scene for me. My thought every time I watch this. And how terrible is that person who was president at speaking?! Thank freaking goodness he’s long gone. Decency and civility has returned. And, competency!


Reflecting back on December.

More rambling ahead. Pictures below.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is by far my absolute favorite week of the year. That feeling of packing up everything holidays; finding permanent homes for all the new loot; cleaning and organizing the house; and preparing for the fresh start of the new year and the starting back up of routine… what a glorious week. It’s also the week I like to reflect back on the year and life in general, self-reflect to assess me and ponder what all I want for the coming year. I’m not really one for resolutions but I’m a big fan of change, so I try to always find things to change for the better.

One of the days during that week, all the kiddos and I were sitting around the couch. We were chatting about things we want to change in 2021. Somehow it came up about the kiddos’ listening. Or lack of at times. And I said something like, “Try having kids who don’t listen.” To which Blaise, without skipping a beat said, “Try having a mom who yells.” Touché, kid. I love that we have an open dialogue to be able to say these things to each other.

To be fair, I’m hard on them when it comes to listening. They’re all damn good kids. I have a problem of setting expectations too high. Rather, setting expectations in my head without vocalizing them, and then getting super annoyed when these unknown expectations aren’t met. Which is when I yell. It’s funny, I’m usually super chill and calm, and then I snap. Sometimes the snap happens often. Sometimes the snap happens rarely. My mood is ever-changing. It’s funny. As a kid, I thought adults had life figured out and it was all so easy. And now, 42 years in, I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing half the time. I make an effort to point this out the the kiddos. Usually after I yell, I’ll apologize to them and tell them that half the time, I’m winging it with this parenting thing. I want them to know I’m trying my best, and sometimes that best is my worst.

But yeah, December. No complaints. The first two weeks were life as [pandemic] usual, with only gymnastics moving to Zoom during the extended lockdown. Which was fine with me. It was nice to have a break from driving to Woodinville four times each week. The kiddos all had their standard online classes and outdoor classes, and I was on it with teacher gifts this year. I mean, I usually always am. But I’m usually sending Brian to Starbucks the night before we need to hand out teacher cards. This year, I took Brian’s advice—that I’ve ignored every past year—to buy a ton of Starbuck’s gift cards in advance, so we have a stack on hand. I should have listened to him years ago. Brilliant idea. All together, we had 21 teachers/coaches to buy for. Toss in the milkman, 22 people. Our neighbors went above and beyond, and left a case of fancy beer on top of each of their trash/recycle/yard waste cans for the collectors. How nice are they?! They even brought our kiddos homemade treats. We have lucked out with the best neighbors on both sides of us.

My one failure, which 10 years ago I would have beat myself up about… getting older is wonderful for the psyche. Baby goes to an outdoor school on Fridays. With my foot out of commission most of fall, I hadn’t been involved with anything relating to that program, other than registering her. Brian did drop offs and pick ups. I didn’t even take her for the first time until November. And then Thanksgiving, followed by two weeks in December. That second week was when we handed out the teacher cards. I knew there are four teachers. The lead teacher I know from the emails. Another teacher I know because Blaise and Laine have her on Wednesdays. The other two, all I knew was one was male and the other female. At pick up on the first November day I was on duty, the kiddos were making hemlock tea. The unknown female teacher came up to me to let me know the tea was super hot and to wait a bit before having Baby drink any. I recognized this unknown female teacher from the website, under teachers for the program Baby attends.

To make a long story longer… when Baby signed the four cards, I addressed three: two to the teachers I knew and one to the teacher whom I recognized from the website, who talked with me about the hot tea. The fourth—the unknown male teacher—I left blank and took a pen with me at drop off. I succeeded in learning his name and addressing his envelope on the spot. I even made a note in my phone with his name so I wouldn’t forget. Baby handed the formerly unknown female teacher her card, with her name from the website. Fuck. It wasn’t her. Hahaha. Well, it was her back in November. She was subbing then. Turns out the formerly unknown female teacher was actually still unknown, and we handed her a card with the wrong name. I apologized and explained that the card was in fact meant for her, only addressed wrong. Doh. And I learned her name, and added it to my phone note also. And I encouraged Baby to start learning all of her teachers’ names. Life would be so much easier if they all only had one teacher.

The rest of the cards went to everyone without issue. Score.

Teacher/coach (and milkman) cards, check. Next, kiddo gifts. Every year, I finish kiddo shopping the first week of December. And every year, I find myself buying just one more present. Which actually means just four more presents, because equality. (Sorry, Maive. Maive thinks boxes are the best thing ever so no need to add just one more present for her yet.) And that just one more present happens almost daily, until Christmas. Christmas 2020 was no different. I was finished the week of Thanksgiving. Before December. I was even proud of myself, I had bought a few things back in September. I rarely buy Christmas gifts before November. I don’t like storing things. The thought of keeping something somewhere in the house temporarily doesn’t work for me. But damn Amazon and Target apps, it’s way too easy to buy stuff. And I got sucked into those Buzzfeed 36 Christmas Gifts You Didn’t Know You Needed or whatever catchy headlines they used. I think they had about 6,438 posts with anywhere from 10 to 50 gifts I didn’t know I needed. Like a burrito blanket. I bought one for Blaise and also for Laine’s gymnastics secret gift exchange person. It was a just one more present. I finished justing the week of Christmas.

The one thing I changed this year, wrapping. I didn’t wait until Christmas Eve, when the kiddos were in bed to wrap. I started two weeks before, wrapping presents each weekend. And once all those were wrapped, the Saturday before Christmas (!!!), I only had to wrap the last few justs that arrived in the few days before Christmas. What a major holiday stress reliever. Brian didn’t even have to help. Also changed this year: I didn’t use a wrapping paper per kiddo. That’s been my standard since we had Blaise and Laine. It’s easy. They know which paper is theirs, and those are the presents they get to open. And I don’t have to label anything. But since I wrapped weeks before—and put those wrapped gifts under the tree—I mixed it up. I wrapped in a free-for-all style, labeling each present with a label on the bottom so the kiddos couldn’t see which present was for whom. Blaise is a master present guesser, who is right 99% of the time. I was the same was as a kid and drove my mom nuts. I totally get that now. The rule was they were not allowed to touch anything under the tree. Maive didn’t quite grasp that rule.

Christmas was smooth. Well, my mood aside. The kiddos had a great Christmas. They were up at 6am like every Christmas, and they were opening presents and playing with their loot before the sun had even risen. I was moody. Capitalize and bold that. I set my alarm for 5am so I could have some quiet, alone time downstairs before the chaos. That was a smart move. I thoroughly enjoyed that hour.

Kiddos at 6am. Saige and Maive had to be woken up. If that isn’t obvious.

But my mood. I was Christmas’d out. I was everything’d out. And it caught up with me. Big time. I had spent months preparing for everything holidays. From buying Halloween costumes, to getting Thanksgiving supplies, and then everything Christmas. And that was all after scheduling and preparing for everything fall school and activity starts… buying outdoor school clothes, which includes layers upon layers, boots, gloves, hats, wool socks, hand warmers, knives this year. And dance ware, ballet shoes, dance bags, gymnastics leos (Laine has to have four for each practice day, with one of those days being a free day, to which she needs/wants a few different leos to choose from), team backpack, team warm-up clothes, even freaking team scrunchies. Toss in all the birthdays—five of them—that are almost back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back from July to October, in the midst of fall and holiday planning. All while trying to maintain a sense of normal for the kiddos, with Covid raging. Add in my freaking fucking fractured foot bone that had me immobile for over a month. And not able to hit the trails for over three months, my MUCH NEEDED mental health outlet…

All that is standard stuff. Things I do every year without issue. Hell, I even enjoy all the planning and buying of supplies and gear. I like schedules and checklists. Which is what fall, birthdays, and holidays are all about. But, 2020. Even though it was normal, nothing was normal in 2020. I lost it. On Christmas. And took it out on Brian. No need to go into the irrational details. But to sum it up, I wasn’t pleasurable to be around.

(Edit: Apparently I did go into the irrational details.)

I told Brian I didn’t want any presents for Christmas. Only one request: my car washed. I had spent weeks parked on the couch, not being able to walk, buying things like crazy. I needed nothing. It has taken me years to realize that I shop when I’m depressed. When I first moved away to college, I would shop when I was missing home. I went through a Gap phase. That was when I first learned that the people who work in clothing stores, wear clothes from the store. I feel like I should have realized this totally obvious thing. I hadn’t, until then. One of the workers was wearing these super cute, baggy capri overalls (this was 1999) and I wanted a pair. I asked her where she bought them. This was my lightbulb moment. She said from Gap and proceeded to walk me over to the rack. I bought them and wore the hell out of those suckers. Even my first Amazon purchase was to my college studio apartment. Back when it was only books, and you could return them to Borders. My rent was $276 in the summers; $426 during school months. That same studio apartment is $1294 now. Crazy. I still have to think before I say the apartment complex name. It’s Mustang Village. Not Mustang Ranch.

The baggy overalls from Gap! Haha, I found this picture looking for another one. Circa 1999, right after Legoland in California opened.

Back to Christmas and my lovely mood. I wanted my car washed. The Suburban had this weird hood paint issue that started early last year. The paint was fading in odd shapes. It spread and by August, almost the entire hood had paint issues. We took it to a detailer—where our pretty nice Suburban with all the bells and whistles, even fancy rims, was the crappiest car there—and they said it wasn’t something that could be fixed with detailing. They even tried using a few different whatevers (polishes?) while we were there. They suggested we have it repainted. They even had shops they could recommend. They called out a third guy to look it over as a last resort, before sending us away with paint shop recommendations. This third guy, he suggested a wrap thing. Kind of like a fancy contact paper but for cars. They could cover our hood and it would match the rest of the car perfectly. Black and all. Knowing repainting would be spendy, we opted for this wrap. Still spendy but cheaper. A little over $2,300 later (with tip), we had a shinny Suburban, all detailed with a sleek-looking hood. This hood wrap should last 7-10 years—maybe longer with proper care—and it can easily be removed if we ever want to have the car repainted. The only thing, they said not to take it through car washes. Which I have always done once a week. I like a clean car.

So, Christmas. My car hadn’t been washed since the first week of September. And we left for Cannon Beach the day after getting the Suburban back from the detailers, so bugs galore from driving down the 5 alone. Plus the rest of September, October, November, December… the Suburban majorly needed a bath. And that’s all I asked for as my Christmas present.

Come Christmas, I still had a dirty car. I was annoyed. Especially when a family member asked for some Xbox controllers, and Brian ordered them right that moment. But when it came to the one thing I wanted—my car washed—I got waitlisted. Brian is a procrastinator, I do know this. And I’ve accepted this. Brian calls it endearing, haha. I’m not sure I would put it under that category. My mom, who never gives unsolicited advice, once told me you can never change a person. It’s true. You can’t change anyone. Except yourself. And even that’s hard. And to be fair, Brian often points out that I bend over backwards to help others before family, which is my endearing quality. Haha. I suppose we both know, after 25 years, we can handle taking the backseat at times.

After having dealt with everything 2020—with Christmas being the culmination of the year—I went all out moody. I played the mom part for Christmas morning, watching the kiddos open presents, smiling and acting excited for them. But inside, I was breaking down. After all the presents were opened and while the kids were exploring all their new things, I went upstairs and just lied in bed for a few hours, dwelling on my dirty car. I didn’t have it in me to be around anyone. Brian eventually came up and we chatted, and he encouraged me to go on a walk. Which looking back, was the best Christmas gift.

Brian and the kiddos washed my car on the 26th. In the rain. Reflecting back, it was so not a big deal. Almost laughable at this point. We all have our moments. I say that often. I was so burnt out, it could have been him cracking an egg the wrong way that would have set me off. He takes the brunt of my moods, because I know he can handle them. I have no idea why I wrote that egg example. I’ve never even once thought about how to crack an egg wrong?!

That Christmas walk, it changed my mood. Like trail outings always do. I can’t even count how many times Brian has said I look different when I get home from the trail. More relaxed. I can’t hide how I feel. One look at me, Brian knows. And to be fair to Brian, he has always been a wonderful gift giver. In the last 24 Christmases together, he has always been super thoughtful. Like my weighted blanket two years ago. I didn’t even know I needed one but he knew. I haven’t slept without it since, aside from when we sleep away from home. And my first Dyson vacuum back in 2007. I remember being at Nan’s on Christmas Eve—we were down in California for the holidays—and Nan was NOT amused that Brian bought me a vacuum for Christmas. Thankfully she loved Brian and saw that I was beyond thrilled for the damn vacuum. The older I get, the more I realize how amazingly progressive Nan was for being born in 1920.

Oh! My other Christmas day highlight. The tree was down and out by 7:12am. I usually take the tree down Christmas night. By then, I’m more than ready to have the house back to normal. This year, it happened earlier because during the chaos of present opening, Blaise accidentally knocked down the tree. He was getting the presents I had tucked behind the tree, along the wall. Brian stood the tree back up, but it was wobbly. I told him not to worry about it, I’d take it down and out when the kiddos were finished opening presents.

Christmas came and went, and we ended the month with my favorite week. With Blaise calling me out on my yelling. Which is a change I’m working to make in 2021.


The rest of December, in pictures.

Christmas tree time.

This was a day. It was Friday afternoon, December 4. Bob and Tara usually come up the first weekend in December, and we all get the tree together. They were still going to come, regardless of Covid, but they ended up not coming because their sweet old pup was in her last few weeks of life. It was important they were with her. We figured we’d get the tree on Saturday as originally planned. Until Friday morning, when my neighbor texted me, asking if we had a tree yet. Turns out between Covid and the weekend before—the Friday-Sunday after Thanksgiving—tree farms were picked over. The ones that were open; some didn’t open because of Covid. Well, great. The tree farm we always go to was closing for the season at 4pm. Baby was at her wilderness class until 2pm. Blaise was in his programming class until 3:15pm. Brian was working. It was raining. We went for it at 3:30pm. And it wasn’t a great outing. Go figure.

Blaise and Laine were very opinionated about which tree to get. There was arguing and kiddos walking away in frustration, and Brian gathering us all up to leave with no tree. Which is unlike him. He’s the pushover, the one who always lets the kiddos earn back whatever they’ve lost. He cannot say no. It’s just not in him. I’m the tough parent, the no parent. When needed. The kiddos were almost in tears. And Brian powered on, walking us all to the car. I was pretty surprised he was sticking to his guns… for maybe two minutes. Then he made a deal with them that if they could work together to pick a tree, we would leave with one. There was the Brian we’re all used to having. Haha.

It wasn’t the tree I wanted but whatever. Everyone was happy and we were leaving with a tree. Score.

Tree shenanigans.

Then we decorated the sucker.

The next day. We had to let the tree dry out in the garage. Brian is the light guy and the kiddos are the ornament decorators. Maive helped by taking the ornaments off at her level, after the kiddos would put them on. By Christmas, our tree was naked from Maive height and below.

My foot is back in action.

Thank freaking goodness. I was given the green light to use my foot on the trail. I started hitting the trail in early December and almost daily after. Maive and Mel missed the trail also. We’re all thrilled to be back, even in the 30-degree weather.

We missed you, trail!

I take all the kiddos with me sometimes. And if not all of the kiddos, one or two here and there (plus Maive). I’ve noticed Saige has become a bit more sedentary than we prefer, likely pandemic-related. The other kiddos keep active at home while Saige would happily sit in front of the computer or television all day if given the option. And, she likes to eat; carbs are her favorite. Which, I know she’s a growing six-year-old. And she’s as healthy as can be. We’re not concerned. But we want to be sure we encourage her to be active, set her up to make healthy choices for life. So at the risk of sounding like a child body-shamer, I’ve been taking her on my walks with me to keep her active. And we get one-on-one time. It’s a win-win.

There is a tree near the bridge over Tolt River on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail that has a hollowed out trunk. In this space, there is a Santa head thing. Saige found it and now we always check to see if it’s there when we pass.

Skier Baby.

In keeping with everything 2020, skiing. Ugh. Saige and Baby were on for on-snow skiing lessons, starting in January. Saige already knows how to ski and didn’t need indoor lessons. Baby needed indoor lesson in preparation for her first time on the snow. Brian took her each week in December. She loved it and picked up skiing quickly. She was sold and super stoked to start on-snow skiing in January. Except, 2020. With everything going on in our schedule already—and Brian making some career-changing decisions he needed to focus on—he decided it was too much to deal with taking them to the snow every Saturday for lessons. I get it, and I totally support the call. I just wish we hadn’t bought all the kiddos, and Brian, season passes… and paid for on-snow skiing lessons, and ski rentals for Saige and Baby. Talk about an expensive change of mind.

Skier Baby.

Maive walks now.

She’s been walking for a while but now she walks out and about. I somewhat regret letting her know this is an option because she thrusts her body back and wants down all the time, even walking from the car parked in the garage to inside the house. We’ve been taking her for walks around the block to get her walking out of her system, so I can still lock her up in the stroller for my trail outings. Which she loves!

Saige and Baby in December.

Random photos of the two girls:

  • Saige being Saige.
  • Saige and Baby are taking a weekly science class that they love!
  • Baby lost her first tooth, getting her first $2 bill.
  • The girls jumping in the rain.
  • Bun Saige, for her video-recorded dance recital. I can’t do girl hair, which is kind of funny that I have four girls. Another mom was able to get Saige’s hair up. Brian was the dance parent that day and sent me a bun picture.

Maive in December.

Being the cute toddler that she is.

Christmas cookie time.

Laine and her buddy made Christmas sugar cookies. And then decorated them. Laine is so delicate with her decorating. She takes the time to strategically place each topping on the frosting. It’s pretty impressive how focused she can be.

The boys.

I bought Moosie a new bed, which he immediately claimed as his. And Mel, modeling my new pillow I bought somewhere along the line. It showed up one day; I forgot I had bought the thing.

Maive bunting.

Hitting the trail in the cold temperatures required a bunting outfit for Maive. I had been layering her clothes and putting gloves on her hands, which she would immediately take off. We’d get home and Brian would be annoyed that her hands were cold. So I found a bunting ‘fit with hand and foot covers she couldn’t get off. Now, when I pull the sucker out, she comes over to get the thing on. She loves her walks!

Park playdate.

We met some friends at the park after Christmas. Maive rocked her new hat and boots. This poor kiddo, she has been to very few parks compared to all the other kiddos. We lived at parks when Blaise and Laine were her age.

Foster & Marsh Island Loop.

Karann and I were back at it! My foot was working again. We hit up Foster and Marsh Island, and the Washington Park Arboretum. All about that outing here.

Lenin and Izmel.

It is incredibly difficult to buy 29 cent goldfish.

Blaise wanted two goldfish. I bought him a three-gallon tank for Christmas, with the plan to take him and get two fish after the holiday. Which is what we did. I took all the kiddos to the dentist on Wednesday, December 30. Which was successful. All the kiddos’ teeth are in great shape. Side story: Baby is hilarious. Because of Covid, parents can’t wait in the dentist office. Cool, I’d rather not. I waited in the car, parked in the parking garage behind the office. The kiddos had appointments at the same time, with different hygienists. Each hygienist walked out a kiddo when they were finished. Baby walked out with hers, and she tells me all looks great and that we need to have Baby stop sucking her thumb. I was like, huh?! Baby doesn’t suck her thumb?! The hygienist said, “Oh, she says she does.” I asked her right there, in the car in front of the hygienist if she sucks her thumb. She said no. Hahaha. Baby just answers questions without paying attention to what’s being asked. She did this one day at drop off, when asked if she was given any medication to reduce a fever. She said yes. Brian was confused because that didn’t happen. Baby is Baby, that’s the saying around here. Back to the goldfish.

After the dentist, we went to Petsmart. We walked in and headed straight to the fish. The lady working in the fish department asked if we needed help. I said yes, that we needed two goldfish. I thought this would be easy. She asked if we had a tank. I said yes. She asked how many gallons. I said five (it was three but I thought it was five at the time). She said she couldn’t sell us a goldfish; we didn’t have a large enough tank. She said we needed a 20-gallon tank at a minimum for one goldfish, a minimum 45-gallon tank for two goldfish. Ugh. I know goldfish grow to their tanks; my sister had a small goldfish that grew large and she upgraded her tank as he grew. Which was my plan.

She wouldn’t budge. She tried talking Blaise into other fish; fish who could live in a small tank. Except he wanted goldfish. I remember my elementary school had spring fairs where they gave out goldfish in plastic bags if you tossed a ping pong ball into a cup of water. And when you have a baby, the hospital basically kicks you out without asking a single thing about what all you have for the baby. Why TF is it so incredibly difficult to buy goldfish?! I get it they want the animals to have great lives. And we give animals great lives. I’m pretty sure we could have bought a small island with all the money we spent on Mayah. We see our animals as lifelong members of our family and make the commitment to care for them when we bring them home. The same goes for goldfish.

I’m not one to make a stink or to argue with people; I usually accept the rules and figure something out later on. Except this day, I wasn’t leaving without goldfish. I talked with her, kindly, and said I’m committed to buying a larger tank if that’s what is needed. I even said I buy one right then if needed to leave with goldfish. She compromised and said we could buy one goldfish with the commitment to buying a larger tank as it grew. Deal. Even though we wanted two freaking goldfish. We bought one and left. We drove home with the new little guy.

Then we left again and went to Petco. Again, the freaking runaround. We walked in and I said we needed a 20-gallon tank and a goldfish. The lady—who was nicer than the Petsmart lady—wasn’t going to let us get a 29 cent goldfish until we bought the tank, took it home, and let it run for a few days. This was December 30. I said I wasn’t going to come back on the holiday weekend just to buy a goldfish. I asked if I could keep the little guy in a smaller tank until the larger tank was ready. She had to ask the manager. Ugh. The manager, he was totally cool. He said yeah, that goldfish are hardy and that’d be just fine. FINALLY. I may have left out that we already had another goldfish at home. I didn’t want to buy a big ass tank for two goldfish until we are certain they live long enough to grow to the point we need a bigger tank. I’m totally fine upgrading when needed. And funny enough, the Petco lady said to Blaise, “With a 20-gallon tank, you can even get two goldfish!” I feel like these pet stores need to get together and set the same goldfish standards.

After an eventful pet store day, we had a tank and two goldfish. Brian immediately set it all up and we put the two fish in the tank. The Petco fish died the next day. He wasn’t looking so great in the bag on the drive home. I figured he’d perk up in the tank. Nope. Back to fish issues.

January 1. We went as a family—all seven of us—to a mom-and-pop pet store. Again with the fish runaround. Jesus Christ. The fish dude was a disgruntled 20-something guy, clearly not excited about working. We withheld that we already had a goldfish, and said we needed one. “What tank size do you have?” He wouldn’t let us buy a damn goldfish with a 20-gallon tank. I was done. I was beyond frustrated. I just walked away and let Brian deal with the fish nonsense.

We left with three tiny fish for Laine. She took the small three-gallon tank I originally bought Blaise. Her fish are Margaret, Alan, and Elton. Haha, I love her names. To another Petsmart we went. I stayed in the car. I was done with fish buying. Brian and Blaise came back to the car with a cute little goldfish. Brian said it was easy peasy, that the woman working in the fish department was super chill and totally down letting him buy a second goldfish for a 20-gallon tank.

We now have Lenin and Izmel. Blaise named Lenin after an icebreaker ship, the first nuclear-powered surface ship (wikipedia tells me). I’m not sure where he got Izmel but google tells me it’s a specialized surgical knife used by the Mohel in the Jewish circumcision ritual of Brit Milah for infant males. Haha. I think he may have meant Ishmael? Blaise is already wanting to upgrade his tank to a 50-gallon and get additional fish who can live with his goldfish. We will eventually.

On the flip side of buying goldfish, guinea pigs are incredibly EASY to buy. That’s further down, in January. And it turns out the easiest way to buy goldfish is to say we need them as feeder fish. WTF. Sure, buy fish to be eaten without question.

New Year’s Eve.

We went over to one of our Covid family’s house. Haha, I know one of my friends detests that whole Covid-family and Covid-bubble terminology, so I type this thinking of her. One of the kiddos’ little friends has a January 2 birthday. We celebrated her on December 31. They have a bunny, which Maive got to meet.

We were home mid-afternoon. It was almost perfect timing… when we were getting ready to head home, Blaise and Laine’s buddies texted me and invited them over for an early New Year’s Eve celebration, with fireworks. Our other Covid family. Haha. Not long after we made it home, their buddies stopped by and picked them up. With a trunk full of fireworks.

Turns out the fireworks got shot down. Their friends live on a lake where fireworks are permitted. We were there on the Fourth of July, setting off fireworks at 9:30pm. Like everyone else around their lake. One guy across the lake set off fireworks all afternoon, and called it a night at dusk. We saw him walking around in his bedroom; he left his blinds up. But New Year’s Eve, their neighbor came out and asked them to stop. He didn’t want his cat to get upset. Seriously?! Blaise and Laine told me a Karen stopped them. Haha. Look, I’m not a big fireworks person. I don’t like the noise and I couldn’t care less about the visuals. But on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, I get that fireworks are a thing. And I have cats and a dog who don’t like the noise. Mel hides under the bed. But I accept that there are days these celebrations take place. I don’t understand the mindset of those who want to control what others do. It was legal, it was a holiday, and there were kids having fun. Talk about a total downer of a guy. Apparently he’s a single 50-something dude, living in a large home on a lake with his cat. Kind of makes you wonder why he’s single, wink wink. And for what it’s worth, I hear fireworks often around here. We live in the country, near unincorporated King County. Where fireworks are legal. And I just roll with it, unlike other people who immediately post in the Carnation Facebook group chastising the firework setter-offers. Because the people setting off fireworks on a random Tuesday night see those posts and change their behavior. Maybe. Unlikely. Whatever.

IKEA.

I’m going through a major plant phase. I needed more plants! And pots. To IKEA Maive and I went. This is how we ended 2020. At IKEA, during a pandemic, buying plants. And a polar bear. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who spent New Year’s Eve at IKEA. It was fairly busy. It didn’t feel crowded while shopping but come check out time, the lines were long. Maive was a trooper. She chilled in the cart, waiting for our turn. She saw the polar bears and pointed. Brian may be a pushover in general, but I’m a pushover when it comes to shopping. I noticed other kiddos grabbing the various stuffed animals around the registers. I reached way down in the polar bear bin to grab one that hadn’t seen any light yet. It’s funny how Covid changes behaviors that we probably should have been doing all along. All those polar bears on top were likely manhandled by multiple kiddos, over multiple days. I usually grab a bit below or the second cereal box, thinking someone may have grabbed the first one and put it back. But now with Covid, I go for the waaaay back. Or bottom in the case of polar bears.

Later, 2020.


January time.

Well, it’s February now. I’m not sure where January went. I know there’s a thing about January dragging on, feeling like the longest month ever. That’s never the case for me. I’m pretty sure it’ll be summer next month at the rate time flies. The biggest January highlight for me… I can run again! And I have been. Let’s take a moment to reflect back on Sunday the 31st, how I ended January.

Mel and I went for a run. I’m supposed to take it slowly, getting back to running. I did my standard four mile trail loop, walking. Getting my foot warmed up. Then I added on a two mile trail run. It felt amazing. I was running up the trail, toward the 203. My plan was to turn around and head back, which is exactly what I did. About 50 feet after turning around, Mel ran in front of me. I tripped over him, fell, and slid on the wet, muddy and rocky trail. Awesome. I stood up and assessed my hands. I had deep gashes on both hands on my lower palms, near my wrists. Fine, no biggie. I decided I’d keep running. Then I noticed my jacket was ripped all up my arm. My jacket that I absolutely love. It’s not really a jacket, more of a waterproof shell. I bought it back in September before my foot issues because I planned on continuing to run even when rain season started. (Yes, rain season. It doesn’t rain all the time up here tike everyone thinks.) And I went Patagonia because I love how they put Vote the Assholes Out under the tags of their shorts. Not that I’m a fan of name-calling but I appreciate—and support—the sentiment.

Jacket, ripped. Turns out I had a scrape/rash/blood on the inside of my elbow. (Now my entire upper arm is a massive bruise, around the scrape.) I still wanted to keep running. But I made myself wait five minutes. I know sometimes people get hurt and continue on—they don’t realize they’re worse off than they think, causing more issues. So I stood there, blood dripping out of both hands and my elbow, waiting to be certain I was fine. I was fine. I continued my run as planned. A slight hiccup. Haha. When I walked inside the house, Brian asked how my run went. I just held up my arm with the ripped jacket and dried blood. But it was a great run, fall aside.

The fall didn’t hurt, physically. Sure, I was banged up with gashes and scrapes, but I felt fine. And I still do three days later. I’m 42 now, after my birthday in January, and I still physically feel like I’m in my 20s. I don’t have any ailments or pains, anything that screams, “You’re old!” I refuse to let my age define my physical abilities. I’m more cautious now, after having injuries (and a fall)… things that could have happened when I was younger. And maybe my body still feels youthful because I spent a decade pregnant, so perhaps I forget what normal feels like?! Or maybe five pregnancies prepared my body to handle more?! Whatever the case, age is only a number, not a limitation. I fully plan on being that 80-something, still running and hiking like I do now. Because my plan is to live until at least 94. I want to beat Nan’s run.


Reflecting back on January.

Speaking of my birthday, let’s start with that as the January highlight. Even though I’m not a big birthday person. It just flows here.

42 Years

Never did I imagine myself in my forties. I always knew I’d get older but when I was younger, I never really thought it through. And yet here I am, 42. I’m totally cool getting older. The fucks given become much less. And I become more comfortable with who I am, the strengths and weaknesses. The only thing that is annoying, the neck and hands age. The few wrinkles I have I’m fine with. I’ve been an avid SPF moisturizer since college. And I’ve always avoided the sun at all costs. But the weakening neck is so freaking annoying. I’ve always moisturized my neck. I started using Thinny Thin Chin back in my college days, and have upped it to using a more intense cream with age. I’ll likely never get Botox of fillers, but I’m totally open to having plastic surgery on my neck if I feel it’s needed. Clearly I’m hung up on my neck aging. I have been doing neck yoga. Haha, it’s a thing. Maybe it’s helping?! The hands, I’m okay with I suppose. I remember seeing Nan’s hands when she was in her late-80s and thinking, ugh, that’s going to happen to me eventually. Such is life.

Car washer!

My birthday was low-key. It was a Saturday and we didn’t do much. Brian and the kiddos washed my car, which desperately needed a bath from all the caked on mud from drop offs and pick ups of the kiddos at their wilderness program. No paved roads on the property. I hit the trail, like usual, except with an Apple Watch. My birthday gift. I’ve always been a Fitbit person. I’ve been wearing one for years now. I upgraded to the Fitbit with GPS last spring; I wanted to track my distance without having to go old school and use Map My Run. When I was dealing with my fractured foot and clocking under 3,000 steps a day—when my average was always over 20,000—I stopped wearing the thing. It added to the depressing fact that my foot was out of commission. I took the Fitbit off and let it sit for months. Until December when I started hitting the trail again. The sucker is dead. It won’t even charge. Screw Fitbit. I was ready for an Apple Watch. One thing about Apple, their products are solid. I had an iPod when they first came out that still works! And I’ve had iPhones since 2008. My MacBook Air is still going strong, five years on. Even my first generation iShuffle still works. Not one issue with any of their products. It was Apple Watch time.

I love the thing. My only complaint is I feel, compared to the Fitbit app, the Apple Watch app(s) are complicated. Which is strange, because Apple is usually so streamlined. There is the Health app, the Fitness app, the Apple Watch app… I want one freaking app. And the calories, they break it down between active calories and passive calories, instead of just having one number. I don’t want to do math when I check my stats in bed at 10pm every night. Otherwise, the thing is fabulous. And I’ve been putting it to good use. Like on my birthday hike the next day.

Saturday evening we had my quinoa enchiladas. I’ve been a vegetarian for over three years now, and the one thing I still miss is chicken enchiladas. I’d probably pick Mexican food as my favorite. Which I’ve made vegetarian alternatives for all the dishes I like. I’m not a fan of beans, so that made things complicated when ditching meat. Anyway, quinoa enchiladas for dinner followed by ice cream cake for dessert. I love ice cream cake. Specifically from Baskin Robbins. I am amazed at the cost of their cakes these days. This is where I sound 42… they used to be $20. Now their cakes are up to $42. Which reminds me of the cake Brian brought home on my last day of working, back in August 2010 when I was pregnant with Blaise. He said the person who wrote on the cake wasn’t thrilled with his request…

The cake Brian brought home on my last day of work, before having Blaise a month later.

It was a pleasant birthday. I milked it all weekend, because thanks to MLK, Jr., I always have a three-day weekend around my birthday. An added bonus (selfishly) to all the great things he’s known for. Sunday I went for a hike with Karann. Monday we did a family walk. No complaints about turning 42. Except my neck. Haha. Next up, Brian’s birthday. He also gets a three-day weekend, thanks to George Washington.

25 Years

Sometime in mid-January, back in 1996, Brian and I started this thing. As super cheesy as it sounds, even at 17, I knew he’d be the guy I’d marry. Marriage wasn’t even on my radar; I figured I’d marry in my thirties, if ever at all. And kids, never! Haha. Here we are, 25 years later with five kids, and no complaints. It’s been smooth sailing. People like to look down at young love. I’ve heard and read it all… even a simple google search of reasons to not marry young yields millions of articles, all with opinions on why you shouldn’t. And reddit as a whole, they despise marrying young. Screw them all. Everyone is different and what works for some young couples, won’t work for other young couples. And sure, statistically it doesn’t look great for young love. But It really annoys the hell out of me when people don’t take young love seriously. Even if it ends, at least give the young couple a shot. People can be so non-objective, attaching their own personal experiences and opinions on others. Thankfully we never faced much of that.

Brian and me, circa 1998. I think this was after I drove him home from Cal Poly for the summer. So June 1998?!

I always think of the story from somewhere in Brian’s extended family. He has an aunt or cousin, someone who is older than him. And related by a second marriage I think? Anyway, the woman had been married and ended up divorced. She then hired a private investigator—this was before the internet—to track down her high school boyfriend. He was tracked down and it turned out he had been married and divorced, and was down to meet up again. They did, married, and have been for several years. Brian and I just skipped all that first marriage and divorce thing. I’ve come across several stories about older folks meeting back up with their high school (or college) love. Which somehow is deemed socially acceptable when people have lived life and then settled down with a past love. If any of our kiddos couple off young—or any young couple I come across—I will never discourage their love.

I digress. I can’t imagine life without Brian. We’ve had the fun of growing up together and figuring out life, as a team. And yet we’ve respected each other enough to maintain our individuality. That’s one thing I think is important in any relationship—young or old—you can’t change anyone. Accept each other for who they are. Even those pesky endearing qualities we all have, haha. Here we are 25 years in, and I love the guy more and more each year. Those couples who spend their adulthoods focused on working and raising kids, and are then stuck together as strangers when they retire and the kiddos are all grown and gone… nope. I am so looking forward to exclusive Brian and me time again. Even if we’re talking 20 years from now. I am excited to grow old with the guy. I think that’s one of the most important things any couple can do, regardless of when they started or how long they’ve been together. Spend time together! Brian and I make a huge effort with this. Even with five young kiddos.

Every night, about 7pm becomes mom and dad time. We have always been hardcore about this. Saige and Baby head to their rooms for quiet/reading time before their respective bedtimes; Blaise and Laine get to game on the computers until they head to their rooms at 8pm to read before their respective bedtimes. That time, from 7pm on, is for us to catch up over the day and whatever is going on in our own world. And to spend time together in general. Even if it’s us sitting next to each other in the quiet, reading or screwing around on our phones… we’re together. And I can’t even count how many nights we lie in bed—about to fall asleep with Maive between our heads—and we end up chatting for over an hour. We like each other. Like really like each other. And we work extremely well with each other, as a team. From before kids to now, we have teamwork figured out.

I still remember back in probably 1997, my sister wanted to paint a wall dark purple in her space. Brian and I volunteered and we did the whole thing within hours, seamlessly working together without even having to verbally communicate who did what. And my sister—this has stuck with me all these years because it’s rare to get a compliment from her—complimented how well Brian and I worked together. Even now, after big dinners, I find myself noticing how smooth we get everything cleaned up and put away, without even a single word of communication as to who needs to do what. It’s like this weird well-choreographed routine. My mom commented this last Christmas when she was here, how well Brian and I work together after cleaning the kitchen. Then again, we’re at the point where a single look from either of us communicates so much.

Sometime around the purple painting time of our life. I’m going to guess fall 1997. I know this is Pismo Beach. And I was in a dark hair phase. Those never last long. Brian’s chain wallet! Haha, there’s the ’90s for you.

Not that we don’t have our moments. Nothing is perfect. We’re just close, haha. I’m a big fan of never going to bed mad, much to Brian’s annoyance. He’d rather sleep and chat in the morning when he’s fresh. So we never go to bed mad. But in all of our years, we’ve never had it out or anything. There have been frustrations and long discussions over different situations, nothing relationship-shattering. Hell, I’ve never even heard Brian yell. He rarely gets mad. It’s usually me. Being unreasonable. Like that time I got mad when he adjusted the rearview mirror. Haha. How ridiculous is that, looking back?! The biggest frustration these days is I bought a bath mat for our bathroom, that I like to hang over the side of the tub when I’m finished. Brian takes baths now, and he never hangs the damn bath mat over the side of the tub. So every night, after we’re in bed and I look over and see the damn bath mat on the ground, I say, “I’ll go ahead and pick the bath mat up. Again.” Of course I’m not really mad, it’s become a running joke. In like 10 years, he’ll finally hang up the thing.

I digress, again. I remember celebrating Nan and Bop’s 50th wedding anniversary. Bop died not long after, but I hope Brian and I make it to well past 50 years. And I think we will. Especially since I plan on living until I’m 94. Brian thinks he’ll make it to his eighties. But if that’s the case, I think we may be one of those couples who die within days of each other. We’re that connected. But I’m sticking with my goal of 94. Even if I have to live alone a while. I’ll become a crazy old cat lady. I’m okay with this. I’ll name one Brian if he isn’t around.

Lettuce & Louie

The boys! Brian and I have this goal of being able to walk into the room, say, “Piggies!” and Lettuce and Louie come running out for us to scoop them up. When we first visited the Woodland Park Zoo, we were admiring the otters. They were calm, doing their otter thing. Chilling in the water. Then their keeper walked up and said their names, and they immediately jumped out of the water and went to a specific spot for the keeper to greet them. You could tell they were happy! This is what we both envision when we call, “Piggies!”

Laine had been wanting guinea pigs for over a month. Every morning she’d walk downstairs, and before a “Morning!” we’d get, “You know what? I want guinea pigs.” And before bed, “I want guinea pigs.” We’d ask, “Laine, what sounds good for dinner?” And she’d answer, “I want guinea pigs.” Then early January came, and in her writing class, they had to write a Convince A Parent essay. Guess what Laine’s essay was about?! I particularly liked the part where she said guinea pigs live about eight years, so they’ll be dead before she leaves for college. Thinking it all though there, Laine. I was not sold on getting guinea pigs. It’s more work, likely for me. And yeah, they’re cute and all, but I had zero interest in holding one. One of Laine’s buddies has guinea pigs, and she was getting her fix over there. I figured that would be enough to get her though this guinea pig phase. Nope, she was dead set on getting two.

Brian is a pushover who rarely says no. I’m the no parent but a pushover for animals and shopping. I love gear. After she worked hard on her essay, we sat down and had a chat about how she will care for them. We set expectations and requirements, should she get guinea pigs. We were all in agreement. We would be getting two guinea pigs. The plan was to start one week with getting all the gear: cage, hideouts, food, hay, bedding, etc. And then, after setting everything up, we would go the following week and buy guinea pigs.

Laine has gymnastics on Sundays. I told her I’d pick her up and we’d head to Petsmart to buy all the supplies. And we did. While we were there, we looked to see if they had any guinea pigs. Nope. While Laine nosed around for all the gear we’d need, I started calling different Petsmarts asking if they had guinea pigs. Nope. Then I called the mom-and-pop pet store where we went looking for fish. They had four when we were there a few weeks before. Nope, they had none. I started calling Petcos. I called four. No luck. Two told me they had guines pigs come in on Thursdays, and the last two Thursdays all guniea pigs were gone within hours. I like a challenge. I figured I’d wait until Thursday and hit up the different pet stores as they opened. I even had visions of doubling up with Brian going to some while I went to others, until we scored two guinea pigs. Until I called one last Petco. In Bothell. Twenty minutes from the Petsmart I was calling from. They had two young males, and said they had zero interest in them that day. I asked if they would hold them, I could pay over the phone, and we’d be there in 20 minutes. That we were at the Petsmart in Woodinville. They said they couldn’t place holds on live animals. Fair enough.

Laine and I raced to check out at Petsmart, with the cage and gear. In the meantime, another mom and daughter were looking at the empty guinea pig display. And another couple were talking with a Petsmart employee, asking when they will have guinea pigs again. The worker suggested they get in line, behind us, so they could have a checker contact other stores to check availability. As Laine and I were waiting, she said, “I can’t believe we’re getting guinea pigs today!” And I was like, “Shhhh!” I didn’t want the couple, patiently waiting behind us to hear. They weren’t buying anything so they could have easily beat us to the Bothell Petco. Haha, I’m not a very competitive person. But those guineas were ours!

We checked out, fast. We booked it to the car and raced over to the Bothell Petco. We were joking driving over there, to every car, “You’re not getting those guineas!” And teased that if we got pulled over, I would plead our guinea pig case to the cop, and he would let us off. Maybe even escort us to Petco. Haha. I enjoy my Laine time. We made it. We walked super fast from the parking lot to inside the store, teasing that the older woman also heading to Petco would not be getting those guineas… just to find a nice family standing around the guinea pigs display. Fuck, they’re buying the guineas, I thought. I asked them if they were getting the guinea pigs and they said no, they were just looking. Score! I had Laine wait at the display case, walked to the front associates and asked, “May we please buy the guinea pigs?” It was a yes! They were ours.

Compared to fish, SUPER EASY to buy guinea pigs. It was literally may we please buy the guinea pigs – to a yes – to us checking out. We were in and out in less that 10 minutes. And probably seven of those minutes was the Petco employee trying to corral the guineas into boxes for us to take home. When we checked out, the manager was standing there and asked if I was the one who called from Petsmart. Yep! It was me.

Laine had planned on naming two female guinea pigs, Lettuce and Lulu. I said she should keep those names, that Lulu could be a boys name. Why not? On the drive home, she decided on Louie instead of Lulu. Lettuce stayed. They are the sweetest little things! I think Brian and I have held them more than Laine has. Brian even takes work breaks to get his piggie on. And he has taken their accommodations seriously. The initial cage we bought wasn’t up to Brian’s standards. And he wanted a second cage, so they could hang out downstairs with us during the day. We ended up buying a better main cage that stays in Laine’s room. We bought a smaller version of the better cage for downstairs. I call them their apartments. And of course, we had to buy a cart for downstairs so we can roll them around to the different rooms, depending on where we are. Little did I know, this would be the third black cart I’d buy in the last month.

Lettuce and Louie.

Brian and I have also spent a few nights researching guinea pigs online, learning all the different sounds guinea pigs make and what they mean. And what all they can eat, aside from standard guinea pig food. These little guys have quite the life already! And they are waaay more comfortable with us. They no longer run to their hideout when we walk in the room. They aren’t quite doing the otter thing yet, but I feel it will happen. I think it’s safe to say we are all extremely happy to have these little guys join our family.

Summer, Planned

This is one of my favorite parts of January. Planning the year! I wasn’t sure how it would go this time around, with Covid and all. Turns out, it was smooth. Our summer is planned. The kids are all registered for different summer camps. All outdoors. With masks. I imagine we’ll still be masking for another year or two. Even if things go back to normal come fall. I actually hope masks stick, that people will continue to wear masks when needed. Long after Covid. Wishful thinking with those but my freedoms people. Thankfully we live in a mostly pro-mask area.

Blaise and Laine are registered for a week-long sports camp. They’ve gone to the same one the last two summers and thoroughly enjoy the camp. Blaise isn’t a sports kid but he likes the annual week sampler. Laine is a natural at all things athletic and loves the week. She’d probably be down to play any and every sport, if she had the time. Blaise and Laine each picked separate outdoor camps from their wilderness school. Blaise will take a week-long camp where they start on a “deserted island” and have to use only their skills and things they find to survive. They do start with knives. Laine is taking a bow craft camp. She didn’t even hesitate when I asked if she wanted me to sign her up. I pulled up the camp description for her to read. When she saw the camp name, she said, “YES.”

Saige will take a week-long cheerleading camp. She was registered last year but I pulled her when the Covid cases started going up again. She’s super stoked to be going this summer. I registered Baby for an outdoor scavenger hunt camp the same week, staggering drop off and pick up times. Trying to make my life easy. And lastly, Saige and Baby will take an Art in Nature camp, through my friend’s outdoor school. Fun stuff ahead!

And we have our annual California trip planned. We’ll go down and stay with Bob and Tara, and the kids will swim all day, every day for a week. The perfect California summer. Exactly how I spent my childhood summers. Somewhere between all the camps and our California trip, the kiddos will take swimming lessons as usual. Last summer we did a week of private lessons, so it was just the four of them in the pool. Covid safe. I like this and will ask for this again, regardless of the Covid state.

It feels great. To have summer planned. Things on the calendar. We have a cabin trip planned for April, that we rescheduled from October. And we’re hopeful Camp Orkila will happen in May. I’d like to hit up Cannon Beach and Leavenworth again. Except reading things online from small towns, that some people wish visitors would stay away. Who knows what is socially acceptable these days?! It’s ever-changing with Covid. And all the different phases that keep changing. New territory for everyone. The plan these next few months is to possibly buy a travel trailer. So if that happens, we’ll add in some 2-3 day getaways here in Washington. Nothing too far. And likely Covid acceptable. We’ll want to get used to RV life before venturing out for longer periods and further distances. Except we already did, back in 2017 when we went to Yellowstone in a rented RV.

School Update

Last but not least for my January reflection, school changes happened in January. Back in December, Saige asked to go to the Friday class baby attends. I casually asked the lead teacher if there were any open spots. I figured the part-time public school the kiddos attend wouldn’t be going back until fall. The Covid numbers were climbing. Holidays and all. She said no, there were no spots at the moment but she was considering opening up a few spots to siblings, to keep germs similar. I didn’t think much more about it over break. Then Inslee announced school opening metric changes. School could likely return soon, if Covid numbers were under 350 cases per 100k residents. It was teetering on 350 by early January. Then the Friday teacher emailed me, there was a spot for Saige. I immediately registered her.

Within a few days, the part-time public school emailed they would be bringing kindergarteners back on February 1. The Covid numbers were under 350 and going down. Fuck. Saige has two classes the same day, overlapping times. If everything were normal, kindergarten wouldn’t be on Fridays… it would be on Wednesdays. Oh well. Another kiddo in Saige’s kindergarten class also attends the Friday wilderness program. So we have it where Saige and her buddy go to part-time public school for an hour. Then Baby and I pick them up, and drive them to the wilderness class. Then their friend’s mom drives my girls home. This is the plan for now, likely the rest of the school year.

Also under school update: I have next school year planed out. Assuming things are back to normal schedules. And it feels great, not having to devote any more mental energy to thinking things through. It becomes challenging with all four school age, and juggling the different programs for the different kids, on different days. But I have it down, and it should be relatively seamless… even if Brian goes back to working in an office!


The rest of January, in pictures.

My plant obsession.

I’ve always had a plant or two around the house. Usually I kill the plants, unintentionally, and then replace them with new victims. As Brian calls them. But back in September, I started this current plant obsession. And it keeps growing. Haha. I found this bar cart that I really wanted. Except I had absolutely zero use for the thing. I kept trying to find a reason to buy it and never came up with one. Until early January. I bought the cart with the plan to make a plant cart. In the meantime, I was at IKEA in late December and bought one of those IKEA carts, in black. I already have two that I always struggle to find a use for; they kind of rotate around the house. Well, one has found a permanent home in the art room. I couldn’t pass up the matte black one.

Brian assembled it for me. Side note: I always think of that comedy video, I wish I had saved it, about if women cat called men. One of the cat calls was a woman yelling to a man, “Hey, Baby! I’ll bet you know how to put together IKEA furniture!” Something like that. With the cart together, I put it in the space the bar cart I ordered would go. And added plants to get an idea of what all it would look like. I was pleased.

I was buying plants and pots for all the new plats. Some from IKEA, some from the awful Home Depot. I try to avoid shopping there at all costs but plants. HomeGoods had a few pots and my favorite non-pot pot, utensil holders. It’s hard to find fun patterned pots. Utensil holders meet that need. The bar cart eventually arrived, I potted all the new plants, and arranged them on the cart. I’m very happy with the addition! It adds life to the room. And all plants are still alive.

More planters. And plants.

In my search for fun pots, I found these suckers. I had to buy. They don’t live on the plant cart but in the kitchen. I get to enjoy them multiple times each day. I like things around the house that make me smile. These fall into that category.

Kiddo walk!

It was going to be a nothing day. Before the nothing, which means gaming and watching shows, I rounded up the kiddos for a trail outing. I took them on my standard four mile walk. It usually takes me just under an hour on my own. With kiddos, close to two hours. There are several stops to climb trees, collect sticks, jump in puddles, and so on. This day was no different. There’s something about getting outside, it changes moods. We made it back home, all happy.

The walkers.

Baby was quite happy to find a walking stick. She also discovered using her neck gaiter as a headband. And Blaise and Laine used them to be zombies.

Another day, another walk.

My little trail buddy. She LOVES going. The minute I bust out her bunting outfit, she is next to me ready to get it on. She just chills, looking around at everything.

Marshmallow Baby.

Baby is obsessed with Marshmallow. She listens to him in bed every night, falling asleep to his music. Brian ordered a Marshmallow head for her from Amazon. She was beyond thrilled when he gave it to her. She went an entire week wearing it all day, every day while at home. She wanted to wear it to outdoor school but we nixed that. She was cool with the nix.

Now she wants a DJ table like Marshmallow.

Not meat.

Amazing. Impossible meat. I’ve been a fan for a few years now, back when I had my first Impossible burger and called the waitress over, asking if there had been a mistake because I had ordered a vegetarian patty. She laughed and said it was, that it was an Impossible burger. I was amazed. It looked and tasted like what I remembered a regular burger tasted like. And now, they sell Impossible meat at Costco (and other stores). I’m not trying to push the family into being vegetarian, but I’m trying to have them go vegetarian when we can. Like instead of ground beef for tacos and spaghetti sauce, we now use Impossible meat. And we can all eat the meal, without any modifications. Brian is sold also, because he says he feels healthier after eating Impossible meat. Unlike how he feels when he eats actual meat. We’re huge on Beyond burgers and meatballs also, along with veggie sausage patties and fake chicken nuggets. The fake meat options are so plentiful these days. When I went vegetarian years ago—for about two years—the protein options were your standard vegetarian options.

Saige announced in December she wanted to be a vegetarian. We said that was fine, and figured she’d last a day or two. She has stuck with it pretty hardcore! Like even passing up McDonald’s Happy Meals and marshmallows. I’m quite proud of her. Not only because she’s chosen to become a vegetarian, but that she has gone all in with her commitment. Maive is our other vegetarian. I’m all for kiddos having choices. Like we did with the older four… they have been meat eaters since they started solid foods. Now it’s their choice to become a vegetarian if they want. Or vegan. Or pescatarian, if they want. But with Maive, she’s getting the opposite option: starting as a vegetarian and she can choose to eat meat if she wants, when she’s older.

Impossible meat at Costco. They have since moved it from the meat display to the cold section where they keep the pastas. Makes sense. I don’t really want to be around actual meat if I don’t have to be.

Another day, yet another walk.

Maive being Maive. Cute as usual.

Baby is Baby.

Baby is Baby. That’s the saying around here. She lives in her own world, and I wish I could be in her world at times. She lives so carefree, with a vivid imagination. It’s amazing. Here she was a cat, with face paint and homemade ears, and then with store bought ears only.

Pup watch.

Indy stayed with us for about a week. She is such a sweetie! Maive took right to her, and Indy was super chill with the toddler.

Pup life with a toddler. We had to have hourly water breaks. Maive cannot be trusted with a water bowl on the ground.

Shark Maive.

Somebody grew. She’s at the awkward size between 18 months and 24 months. I ordered some 24 month ‘fits, and found these cute shark pajamas on clearance. Sold.

Maive has discovered the pantry. She’s a pantry shark I suppose. Any time she gets in there, she brings out random things. Like hot dog buns this day. The exciting days of pandemic babies.

Dino Maive.

Maive is my kiddo picker-upper partner. This day we were grabbing Saige and Baby from their outdoor class. They were at the Redmond Watershed. We were early—as usual because I’m always early—so we nosed around the start of the trail a bit. It always warms my heart at pickups… Maive saw Saige and took off running toward her on the trail. Baby was the last kiddo to make it back. Typical Baby. Saige, and then Baby, would do the same run to Blaise and Laine as toddlers when they were my picker-upper partners.

Saige walk!

Another day, another walk. With Saige (and Maive) this day.

Pickles.

Baby! She is hilarious. Even when she isn’t trying to be funny. This was at pickup from her Friday wilderness class. She found this log and decided it was a surfboard, and named it Pickles. One of her teachers just adores her. Almost every time at pickup, she tells me how much she enjoys Baby and all of her stories. Blaise and Laine have the same teacher on Wednesdays when they go to wilderness… she likes to tell Blaise and Laine about Baby’s stories also. They must really sit with her! To which Blaise and Laine tell her, “Baby is Baby.”

My first hike of the year.

And since my foot has been back in action. All about Teneriffe Falls here.

I love the smiling tree.

Family walk.

The family walk on MLK, Jr. Day. I managed to get Brian to tag along for my standard walk. The kiddos come with me enough but Brian is usually doing that work thing during the week. And on weekends, I like to go solo. Well, with Mel. This day we all went. It worked out well. We even stopped by Starbucks on the way back, a detour from my normal route. Brian wanted an Impossible sausage sandwich. And cake pops for the kiddos. I requested a morning bun. Brian went in while we all waited outside. My luck, Starbucks stopped selling morning buns. Of course they did. I’m the kiss of death for things. It’s become a joke between Brian and me… if I like something it’ll most likely it will stop being made or if an establishment, it’ll go out of business.

The mistake. I let her out of the stroller. She enjoyed walking! And it was cute, watching her catch up to the siblings. They’re all so great with her. I laugh, she has figured out how to use the kitchen trash can. It’s the kind that you step on for the lid to open. Now every time she throws something away, the siblings all clap and cheer her on. She will have high expectations in life for accolades. But walking this day. Now she knows she can get out of the stroller and walk… which became a bit of a struggle the week following this walk. She’s back to enjoying the stroller ride without getting out. I know my time is limited so I’m trying to milk it as long as I can.

More Maive.

On my desk chair this time. I’m trying to take more pictures of her.

Farrel-McWhirter.

Here’s a throwback. The park we lived at when it was only Blaise and Laine. We made plans to meet up with a friend whom we hadn’t seen since December 2019. Not only because of the pandemic but life in general. We actually met them at this park a few years back. Blaise and Laine were playing in the stream, and there was a boy about their age whom they started playing with. The boy has two younger siblings: one Saige’s age and another Baby’s age, give-or-take a few months. The kiddos all played so well together that we exchanged phone numbers. We’ve played often since, aside from the long period of not seeing them since December 2019. They’re a wonderful family and I was thrilled we were able to find a day to catch up.

It was a cold morning. I knew this and had the kiddos all dress accordingly. We left home for the park. Except I totally spaced on me dressing warm. I was in my usual jeans, hoodie, and Birkenstocks. Not the smartest attire for 30-degree weather. When we met up with them, it was like we had seen them the day before. All the kiddos ran off together, playing in the water. The older kiddos worked on making a bridge while the younger kiddos enjoyed splashing and running about. Water, check. Tire swings and field next. Then back to the water. Followed by a small hike on the trail that goes through the park. We ended by the swings and climbing tree. It was a great morning! I’ll be sure to dress warm enough next time.

No masks and masks. I absolutely love how Laine instinctively put her arm around Blaise.

The gang, reunited.

Maive got to get her park on! Baby made a mud fire pit. And Laine chilling on a tree.

That glow!

Let’s just take a moment and relate to the glowing Dr. Fauci. This was his first press conference after Biden took office. I think this is a perfect representation of how over 81 million of us felt on January 20. It’s so much calmer now, in the news. Decency, civility, and competency has returned. What a much needed change after the last four chaotic years. And with Mitch demoted as the Senate majority turned blue, things are looking up!

Post huggers.

A walk with Saige and Baby, with Maive in the stroller. Brian joined us while Blaise and Laine were at their monthly Saturday wilderness class.


Phew, that was loooooooong. It only took me over a week to get it all out. It’s the second week of February now, and the month is already flying by. Snow is in the forecast for this week, which is about right. It’s usually around now we get hit with a snowstorm. I’m down with snow. I love the quiet snow brings. It’s so peaceful.

2 comments

  1. I love all your posts so much. Your kids are the cutest. So Marshmallow is a kid’s music guy? Hmm…I wonder if that’s how my neighbor’s kid’s cat got his name then. It’s a black and white cat and that Marshmallow hat your daughter is wearing is black & white.

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