Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas Time 2021

I think the kids woke up at their earliest time yet - 7:45. They waited semi-patiently for Ryan and I to get up and ready then we headed down for stockings.

They're just blurs as they run down the stairs to Christmas morning. Ryan opted for our fireplace this year to be from The Witcher. And we did manage to get our Christmas grapefruit! It was touch and go there for a bit as they arrived in Seattle and then went to Renton, Kent, and Auburn - gradually further away - before finally being delivered several days after it was initially estimated to arrive. I'd had another package that had come from Virginia, supposedly be out for delivery in Seattle but never arrive, and then get sent all the way back to Virginia inexplicably, so I was pretty anxious while my grapefruit was so close yet getting further away every day.

We'd thought we might get a white Christmas, but as you can see from the yard here, we didn't. 

Daniel joined us for part of the day, so we added a gluten-free breakfast bake to our usual breakfast bake. And he discovered that grapefruit is delicious and why we are obsessed with our Christmas grapefruit tradition.

Ryan received a bidet attachment and we all got a laugh from the many stool jokes included in the packaging/instructions.

He also got a coffee sampling box!

Many delightful gifts later (G got lots of D&D stuff that they were excited about, M got a mix of things, but all hitting on everything he'd wanted - hiking gear, nerf, light sabers, book series he likes, etc) we finished up and set about enjoying the rest of the day. I'm a fan of Christmas on the weekend since it meant guaranteed Christmas Eve off for me plus the day after Christmas as well. I've so far avoided having to work Christmas day or weekend - I'm sure it'll happen eventually but I'm just hoping to push it off until the kids are older.

Ryan has made one batch of toffee and needs to make another. We still haven't done any of our usual cookie baking, but maybe now that I'm off work the next few days that will happen.

We woke up to 3-4 inches of snow the next morning and got at least a couple more inches through the day. We did our part to keep the sidewalk clear. We also put faucet covers on our outdoor spigots for the first time ever given our predicted overnight lows of 10-15 degrees. I can't wait to get back to 40 degrees and rainy, but that's a little ways off still.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Christmas Prep

We've had fun preparing for the holidays. Haven't managed any baking just yet, but hopefully in the next couple days.

Started by clearing some space in the living room and set up the advent box on the small table.

I got a tea advent to try out this year and it's been a lot of fun to sample all the different flavors.

And see the pretty colors of the various herbs and flowers added to the teas!

M isn't a big tea drinker, but enjoyed the cinnamon spice rooibos tea. They curled up on the couch with their tea and a blanket and declared "Fridays are the perfect day to unwind and drink tea!" and then patted the couch and told me to sit. That was...unexpected. This was followed with "Sundays are when you wind up...to the max!"

We also got a new Lego advent set this year - Harry Potter!

As usual, we waited until mid-month to get our tree. I was worried it was a little tall, but it fit perfectly!

And we even managed to get it decorated the same day. Now we have some advent presents from Gram sitting under the tree, conveniently close to the advent box.

I've asked the kids to start on some cookies, but they haven't yet, preferring to play video games. Hopefully they (and Ryan) can find some time for that the next couple days!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Yard

Midway through the year plus of everyone being home together all the time, we were really starting to feel the itch of our house just not being large enough for this. I knew we couldn't afford to add on or anything right away, but needed to stop my brain spinning on it with some hard numbers, so reached out to a local architect dad. And the $600,000-800,000 guesstimate for a modest addition quickly put a stop to any spinning of any sort, likely forever. We were pretty discouraged by that for a few days, but we've since decided that our goal will just be to make the space we do have work for us as best as possible. And that includes the outdoor space, which will be expensive to transform, but not 600-800k expensive.

I'd already found a landscape designer that I thought I wanted to work with and just hadn't called them yet, so went ahead and reached out. The initial visit was essentially "I don't really know what I want, it's all a very blank slate and overwhelming me. Except I do know I hate everything that's currently here. Oh, and I'm thinking a fence at the front with espaliered fruit trees and we must have blueberries and gooseberries and (contained) raspberries and strawberries and maybe some rhubarb. And I adore front porches, so maybe we rip out all these bushes and make one of those?" 

And now, several months later, we've got some initial proposals and have started by tearing out most of the hated things. I'm realizing I should've had them remove the awkward cherry tree while they were at it, but that's okay. It can wait for another phase of the project.

One proposal:

The second one isn't all colorful, but has more details about the plantings. The other proposal:

Our next job is to look the proposed plans over and decide what we want to do - we can mix and match between the two plans - and then the designer will put together a final plan based on our discussion.

Start of demo progress - removing the hated bushes and blackberries near the street

Front yard all done

Side yard

I can't remember the last time I could actually see the bricks here. Of course, they'll all get torn out eventually anyway. 

And this has just been a super thick bed of pine needles for the past 2+ years

I showed the kids the plans last night and they're very excited. I had to keep reminding them - partly to remind myself as well - that this will be a slow project and likely take several years to implement.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Winter Grand Prix 2021-22

After a hiatus last year for covid, Winter Grand Prix is back on this year. They did hold a virtual version last year where you ran all the races yourself, but we didn't realize they were doing that, and probably wouldn't have had the activation energy required to make it happen if we had. Anyway. G signed up again, of course. And M asked to sign up as well! Come Saturday morning when I woke them up at 7:30, M was no longer certain they wanted to do this. But in the end the three of us piled into the car to head to Magnuson. 

It was really cold and drizzly and there was a longer line than we expected for registration, so that wasn't so fun. The race started a little late, but once we got M registered I left M and G to warm up for the race and headed to the car to stay warm and drink my tea! Some parents run with their kids, but I'm not those parents. I do need to up my snack game for the next race though - need to plan ahead and have hot chocolate and scones or something for the kids to have afterward.

As the race started I did get out of the car to grab pictures of the kids and was a little worried when I didn't see M for a long time. But finally found them, carefully jumping around the puddles that were everywhere rather than running through them.

There they are, lap one! Shortly after I took this photo, they stopped to walk, but did start up running again after a few seconds of rest. But I was still a little worried they'd drop out entirely...

But they didn't! G finished up and then waited for M to come around to the where we could see them and then went to run with M to encourage him along the rest of the way. Serious heart melting happening on my part (and cross-country gratitude for the overall supportiveness and team encouragement they learn there!). Here they are coming to the finish:

Seriously so proud of M for just finishing. Especially given how gross the weather was. So much colder than it usually is this time of year. No idea if he'll stick it out for the whole series or not - might try to get them some better winter running gear so that at least they can be a little more comfortable! If you want to follow along, they'll post the results here, usually takes a few days to get each set of results up.