Friday, March 27, 2020

this week at home: azalea's 9th birthday and home school updates

it's been 2.5 weeks since the kids' last day at school, but we just completed our first full week at home (since we were in oregon for the majority of last week). we are settling into our new routine. i've had to tell myself to set my expectations low for just about everything: the house will be a mess with four people constantly here, the kids will fight extra from too much togetherness/boredom, we will do as much homeschooling as we can, but we will always feel like we should be doing more.

as for the state of things in washington, we are now under a "shelter in place" order, which means no more non-essential outings. since we returned from oregon, we have not gone anywhere beside the grocery store and a few walks around the neighborhood.

thatcher works from the basement every day, but the kids go up and down during the day unless he's on an important call. i have to admit we have not been religiously sticking to our schedule, but we are loosely. we do a bit of school in the morning. for now we do workbooks that were sent home, some online math games, and reading. this week seattle public schools launched some short online videos created by teachers from the district. things like "k-1 book reading" or "2-3 science". the kids watched a couple, but they did not hold their interest because they don't know the teachers on them. thankfully some teachers from their school (like the librarian) are starting to release their own videos and the kids like those much better! 

some other fun school-related things from the week: 

- the kids got to have a zoom video chat with their respective classes. both had great turnouts and ashford's teacher even made an appearance. the kids were all thrilled to see each other. sounds like both classes are going to do it once a week, so that will be nice. 

- we heard that azalea could submit videos of her playing the recorder for the music teacher, so we tried it out and he sent a personalized video response back! how fun is that? 

- azalea's teacher asked me if it would be okay for him to call her and wish her a happy birthday, so we surprised her with that and she was thrilled. it was so thoughtful of him. 

finally, azalea turned 9 on thursday! what weird times to have a birthday, but i know she's not the only one. here is a collage of pictures of her from the past year:
we felt bad that she couldn't celebrate with her friends or even go anywhere, but we made the best of it. we tried to give her as much control over the day as possible, so it still felt special. she requested waffles and bacon for breakfast. we did school in the morning and the kids played. in the afternoon, thatcher created a scavenger hunt for the kids around the house/yard that ended with chocolate coins as the treasure. the kids and i watched harry potter 7 and ate popcorn. we order thai take out for dinner (her favorite!) and thatcher made a chocolate cake for dessert. we did a really fun "zoom" video chat with our whole family: grandmas, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousin. they watched her open her gifts and blow out the candles. it was perfect. unfortunately i didn't get any non-blurry pictures of her from the night :(  

we love her so much and hope she felt it!

Friday, March 20, 2020

social distancing on the oregon coast

we are back from spending the last 5 days on the oregon coast. it served as a nice mental escape from the coronavirus pandemic, but of course we still monitored what was going on and practiced social distancing just as we would have at home. i took facebook off my phone because it was starting to overwhelm me.

it's a 6 hour drive (without stops) to newport, OR. when we went on our pacific highway road trip last spring, we did not do the coast of oregon to save time, so it was nice to have the opportunity to do it now. it's so spectacular! we mostly had sunny days in the 50's there, which was nice.

we stopped at cannon beach on the way down. there were a fair amount of people there, but it's huuuuge so it was easy to keep our distance while taking in the beauty. 

we got to newport at dinner time and settled into the airbnb, which was right on the water. we ordered pizza for dinner and watched the sun set from the kitchen table while we ate.

the next 4 days were mostly spent hanging out at the condo: working on a 1500 piece puzzle, reading, coloring, working (for thatcher and me), minimal school work for the kids (oops), and cooking. we made all of our food there except for the first night. 

the condo was up on a cliff overlooking the beach. it was a 2 block walk to access the beach. we went there a couple times and again, it was so vast and open we didn't ever get closer than 100 feet to anyone :) it was windy, but sunny. the kids flew the kite we brought and played with sand toys.

on tuesday we drove 30 minutes south to do a short hike. the scenery was beautiful! we encountered a few other people there, but it wasn't busy.

on the last day on our way out of town, we stopped at this lighthouse. 

my favorite part of the week was our movie nights. we made popcorn, and chocolate chip cookies, and curled up under blankets on the big comfy couch. we watched "frozen 2", "horrid henry", and "woody woodpecker".

while we didn't do much traditional homeschooling while we were there, the kids learned in other ways. we spent time in nature, thatcher took them out on the deck to look at the stars one night and explained each one, we talked about the moon and the tides and tsunamis. we did a lot of drawing. and puzzles are good for our brains right? right. 

now we are settling back into home life for the long haul. it's stressful not knowing when this pandemic will end or even slow down. i'm trying to be thankful that the worst thing we have to worry about right now is too much togetherness. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

well, that escalated quickly!

hello from our new, strange world! last monday feels like it was months ago with all that has evolved. i kept ashford home from school on monday and tuesday because he had a steady temperature of 99 (which i learned is not technically considered a fever) and a cough. he went back to school on wednesday...for one day. 

wednesday afternoon we learned that seattle public schools would be closing down for 2 weeks effective thursday. the teachers barely had any time to prep for it. at pick up time, all the kids were running around giddily and all the parents looked like deer in the headlights. 2 weeks sounded kinda rough, but i was like "whatever, we can just wing it." 

fast forward to the next day. i had the kids do some worksheets from school, we read a little. it felt like a saturday. we met vanessa and ewan at the locks because #outdoorplaydate. when we got home, the governer announced that all washington schools would be closed though april 24th *gulp*. 6 weeks with no school. that said, i am extremely thankful that we do not have the burden of scrambling to find childcare. thatcher is now working from home full-time and my job is always from home (and very limited hours). we have a safe, warm, home, stocked with food (and toilet paper). but oh my is this going to be an experience! 

i decided thursday night that "winging it" was no longer going to work and we needed to develop at least a loose schedule for the week days. otherwise we (mostly me) will all go crazy. this is what i came up with: 

7:00 breakfast, get ready, kids watch tv while we get ready
8:30 workbooks from school, reading, writing
9:30 board game
10:00 snack
10:30 art time
11:30 lunch
12:00 outside time (playing in the yard or go for walk/scooter ride)
1:00 online learning games
2:00 snack
3:00 playdoh, coloring, marble run, etc.

the kids enjoyed crossing off the things we had done and looking forward to the next thing. it wasn't all sunshine and daisies, but it was better than the day before where we had no plan. thatcher is working from downstairs and came up to eat snacks with us and check in, and the kids were allowed to be downstairs with him some if they were quiet. 

now it's the weekend and while we still can't really go out and do anything, we can be more relaxed. 

when we learned school was shutting down, we hopped on airbnb to look for somewhere to go for a few days to hunker down. we can bring our laptops and we can have a change of scenery while we all hang out. we found a nice place in newport, or (on the coast). we are leaving tomorrow for 5 days and i'm really looking forward to it. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

coronavirus land, outside play, the recorder

as you probably know, the seattle area was the first area of the united states to see coronavirus (COVID-19). it's been a bit weird around here since then. in addition to people buying out all the hand sanitzer and toilet paper at the stores, some of the largest corporations in town have mandated working from home. school is still in session (for now...) and thatcher has been going into the office and working from home a little as well. the biggest outbreak has been at a nursing home in kirkland, which is sad, but the general population so far isn't seeing a lot of cases. but things are being cancelled as a precaution. 

we've been trying to do outdoor activities with the kids rather than indoor play places to minimize exposure. on wednesday after early dismissal, we went to the golden gardens beach with ashford's friend cameron and his dad. it was our first trip there this year and while it was only 50 degrees, the sun was shining and it made me excited for warm weather trips to the beach in our future. 

we hung out at home for most of the weekend, but azalea was going a little stir crazy on saturday so i took her to salmon bay school with her scooter. 

saturday night i had a night out with my friends heather, erica, and vanessa. we went to el barracho for tacos and margaritas an then bastille for dessert. it was a really fun night. wish we would have taken a picture! 

sunday was mostly spent at home. the kids each had a friend over in the morning. azalea is playing the recorder for music class this year and she takes it very seriously. i've been so proud of how hard she has been working to learn the songs. thatcher thought he would bust out his trumpet so they could play a little duet :) 

sunday night ashford felt a bit warm before bed (dun dun dunnnn). he spent most of the night in our bed and when he woke up monday morning, he had a temperature of 99, nasal congestion, and was coughing. i'm assuming he just has a cold or virus, but school is being super vigilant so i didn't hesitate to keep him home. thankfully he is in good spirits and hopefully will be on the mend soon! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

marching into spring, a housewarming party, minnesotans in portland

hello march! january dragged on, but february was a super quick month. last week i went to homegoods and was looking at spring wreaths for our door. all the ones i liked were really expensive, so i passed. i went to michael's next door and decided to buy the supplies to make my own and it was much less expensive and i got to make it look exactly how i wanted. win-win. 

so far march is proving to be rainier than february, but hopefully things will turn around. this is from last week when it was dry: 

i treated myself to a pretty manicure

on thursday night i was invited to a housewarming party at my friend rachel's (striped shirt in the front) new house. there were about 20 moms from school there and it was so much fun. we all crammed in her kitchen and it was so loud. i love the community of moms at the kids' school. :) 

on saturday we headed to portland for the weekend to stay with our friends ian, joanna, and kyla. they were our friends in minnesota and moved to portland in 2018, so we love having them close by. we met them at pine street kitchen (a fun food hall) for lunch. every one was able to get whatever food they wanted: mexican, korean, american, etc.

 then we took the train to the US forestry center in washington park. it was an inexpensive museum and a great place for the kids to run around and explore. 

on the way back, we stopped at blue star donuts for a treat. it was pouring rain when we left.

we hung out at their house for the rest of the night and had tacos for dinner. sunday morning we decided to go for a short hike in the city at reed canyon (which is on the campus of reed college). 

we went back to their house for lunch and ice cream from cloud city ice cream. then we went to the oregon rail heritage museum. we went a couple years ago and had family pictures taken there. 

then it was time to hit the road back to seattle. it was a nice short getaway but it made our weekend fly by. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

the rest of mid-winter break

i'm glad that our DC trip took up most of mid-winter break because it can be a challenge to keep the kids entertained and not fighting too much for a whole week (especially when the weather isn't super nice). i also had to do my monthly invoicing for work right when we got back into town, so i had to be creative with our outings. 

thursday afternoon i took them to playdate seattle (indoor playground), so i could get some work done and that was a success. friday was library and playground. we went to the greenwood library and checked out books and played with the magnatiles.

then we went to the greenwood elementary playground with their scooters. it was sunny and warm (55 degrees) and i was blissfully reading my book while the kids played...until azalea fell off her scooter and scraped up her hands and knees and it was time to go home ;) 

we had no plans going into the weekend. saturday morning i went to the gym, we hung around the house for a lot of the day and then thatcher took the kids to see the new sonic the hedgehog movie at the theater in our neighborhood. which meant a couple hours to myself (for the first time in over a week). i went to venture coffee and got a mole mocha...

then i went to goodwill (can't stay away!). but i always regret going on a weekend day because it's crazy there. i think i had to wait 15-20 minutes for a fitting room. but i found lots of good stuff, so it was worth it. i'm in total spring mode now, wanting to change out my wardrobe, but the weather isn't quite there yet. 

however, the cherry blossoms are starting to bud and that is always exciting! 

sunday morning thatcher signed up for my gym, so that will be good for him. it would be ideal to go together and they technically have a childcare room, but i never seen any kids over age 2 there, so i haven't used it. i guess we will be taking turns going. we hung out at home for most of the day. in the afternoon, i took the kids to arena sports magnuson to do the bouncy houses again. some friends were supposed to meet us there, but they cancelled because they were sick. the kids still had a fun. 

which brings us to monday. back to school! ashford is very anxious about going back, so i hope all goes smoothly. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

6 days in washington, dc

we returned home from washington, dc on wednesday night and i'm finally sitting down to finish this post. i had my laptop along so i could do my bookkeeping work, so i made sure to write down what we did each day in blogger (my hack!). overall our trip was a huge success. the last time i was in DC was 2003 and it was only for a day, so i was excited to visit again. cedar moved to dc last april as she joined the foreign service and she and jack are living there for a year before they go overseas. the kids were pretty good ages for all the museums, walking, etc. though ashford was battling a lot of anxiety on the trip, so that made it hard at times. the weather was nice for the most part. 30s and windy the first couple days, but the rest of the days were in the 50s and sunny. 

we had to get up super early for our flight last thursday morning. the flight was fairly long (5 hours), but it wasn't too bad. i got to sit across the aisle from the rest of the family, so it was quite relaxing for me ;)

we arrived at dulles airport in virginia at 5pm (it's still crazy to me that you lose an entire day traveling from the west coast to the east coast). we took the shuttle bus and train to get to arlington, where cedar and jack live. they met us at the train station. we hung out at their apartment that night and ordered pizza for dinner. we booked a hotel that was just a block away, so it was super convenient. as always, the kids were thrilled to get to spend time with jack - their cool older cousin :) 

friday morning cedar and jack had work and school, so we were on our own. we grabbed coffee and pastries from a lovely rwandan owned coffee shop across the street. 

then we took the train into the city and went to the smithsonian museum of american history. the museum was awesome. my favorite parts were seeing michelle obama's 2008 inauguration dress and the american flag from 1812 that inspired the star spangled banner. 

it was really cold this day. the temp was in the 30's but the wind was whipping and it felt pretty miserable. we took the metro to navy yard and had lunch at shake shack. then we walked along the river. at least the sun was shining! 

we also walked past the white house

we went back to cedar and jack's apartment. cedar had a valentine's date, so we hung out with jack for the night. thatcher picked up dinner from whole foods and we watched "national treasure." 

saturday morning we met cedar and jack at a bakery in their neighborhood called "bayou". then we hopped on the metro and went into the city to the smithsonian museum of natural history. it was really cool too. all of the museums in DC are beautiful - and free! 

we also walked by ford's theater

we went back to their apartment for lunch and relaxed for a couple hours. then thatcher, the kids, and i took a bus to georgetown area and walked around, went in some shops, including a cookie dough bar where we bought a jar to have for dessert (it's egg-free and uses pasteurized flour). we planned to meet cedar and jack for dinner in dupont circle, so we talked there from georgetown and got to see all of the beautiful historic homes.

 we had dinner at "thai chef" which was delicious - and spicy! 

sunday morning we slept in and lounged around the hotel room for a couple hours. i went and picked up bagels from a shop nearby. we took the train to the smithsonian museum of air and space.

 it was the busiest museum we had encountered. we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes to get in. thankfully the weather had warmed up! 

the museum was cool. we spent a couple hours there. then we took the train back to cedar's. 

monday was president's day, so cedar and jack were off. thatcher and i dropped off the kids with them and then took the metro to a coffee shop and a gluten free bakery on the other side of town. we got a little walk in too. it was nice to have some time with just him, as vacationing with kids is not the most relaxing. 

we decided to take a break from museums and check out old town in alexandria, va. we all took the metro there. there was a parade going on for the holiday so we watched most of (it was pretty cheesy and the kids were disappointed in the lack of candy). we grabbed some lunch after the parade and took the train back to arlington. 

tuesday morning thatcher, the kids, and i stopped by the rwandan coffee shop again (so good!) and then then took the train into the city. 

we went to the museum of african american history, which is super popular, but thankfully we are here in the off season, so we got right in. it was an amazing museum. such powerful history, i'm so glad we got the opportunity to take it in.

when we were walking to the train, the roads were all blocked off. before we knew it, president trump's motorcade was driving by. it was cool too see even if he is far from our favorite president ;) 

we took the train to NoMa and went to "union market" for lunch. it was a big building filled with various food vendors. thatcher and i got arepa sandwiches and they were so delicious! 

 we made our way back to arlington, and stopped at "nice cream" for a treat. 

wednesday was our last day! we went back to "bayou bakery' near the hotel because i really wanted to try the beignets...and they did not disappoint!

then i took the kids to "rocky run park" near our hotel and they played on the playground. 

we checked out of the hotel and decided to take the train to tysons corner mall to kill time before we needed to be at the airport. we had an evening flight and got back to seattle at 8:30 pm which felt really late because we had adjusted to eastern time. 

now we are wrapping up the rest of the kids' mid-winter break before they head back to school on monday. 


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