Saturday, September 5, 2020

When the World Paused - Day 171 - Big Steps and Tiny Whispers

 It's hard to believe that it's been over a month since I've added any notes to this. I spent many late nights getting caught up on freelance writing work and (finally) finishing my Precision Nutrition certification. Since that business is now up and running, there has been a shift in my work load, so I have a little spare time to add to this before I go to sleep.

Not much has changed in our daily lives. Going indoors to stores is still a rarity. Hikes are still a thing. 

Forest school reopened for a summer camp program and will be restarting for my kiddo in a couple weeks.  

But here's how we survived the summer (so far). 

A friend introduced us to some playful waterfall fun thanks to a little hide away spot on Gold Creek Pond trail. Well worth the detour.
Blackberries are ripe EVERYWHERE. It's a fun time of year. Nearly every walk, even around a neighborhood, comes with a sun-kissed snack.
We donned our masks and took a socially distance, contact free visit to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. We didn't brave the crowds to go in the big aquarium, but it's always a fun day anyway. The Impossible Girl is maddly in love with Trolls World Tour, which has resulted in the hip hop backwards had style and rock on hand signs at the same time. 

We made it through her 5th birthday and My Sailor's 37th birthday (long distance). 
We got back to Summer camp, masked and ready to go! It was a great, much needed time for both of us. I had some peace in the mornings to tackle my own work outs, work, and various projects that are hard to do while being the chief human in a 5 year old's life.

Local friends set up an epic painted rock hunt in our front yard. It was a fantastic surprise. 
We tackled a 5k hike through the North Kitsap Heritage Trails. I only carried her for about a mile, and even that was broken up into 2 sections - mostly down hill, thankfully. There are no epic views on this trail. Just miles of quiet forest to explore.
I came up some with delicious dinners, including a carmelized sweet potatoes (okay, I admit, I like them a little blackened) and some improvised mung bean noodle soup.
We've been on 2 kayaking adventures that have us absolutely excited to keep this up. The weather has been beautiful and helpful.

Without Summer Camp or School right now, days are super loose. I'm working on developing my business little by little, and I've lined up some of the specialists to come out and look at the house and discuss options with us. The Y is reopening and for the clients who aren't comfortable going back, I have a shed coming to the house, as well as some gear to make a sheltered lifting space here at home. Personally, I am looking forward to having a space to lift where she can play safely nearby and not in group care.
I'm making significant progress organizing and managing the home front. (To any 'stay at home mom' I ever short changed - ya'll are amazing.) The Impossible Girl is growing up during a pandemic, and she will likely remember these days at her age. So, we keep plugging along. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

When the World Paused - Day 120 - Masks Mandated and The Great Outdoors

The world is turning quickly these days. A lot has happened in just the past week. Masks are now a mandatory thing in Washington to enter businesses, and in Seattle, they are mandatory all the time. (A brief stop on a drive today went further in to prove that.) 

But this past week, my brother and I made good on our first 'vacation' together - while sanitizing like crazy, wearing our masks, and doing lots of social distancing. Now, I'll admit - hanging out with my big brother has always been an awesome thing for me. He's on a bit of a pedastool, even though we're both in our 40's now. I see him through realistic glasses, but he's turned into kind of an amazing guy. Since our dad passed away, I see a lot of little quirks of Dad's personality in him. Like I've always said, blood may be thicker than water, but love is what binds us all together. We're a choosen family - not a biological one, but however we came to be - I won the family lottery.

This weekend, we put our bodies to the test and did some socially distant amazing hiking through the Cascade Mountains - with The Impossible Girl en tow, of course.

The trip started with a visit to FinnRiver Cidery and Fort Worden on the Penninsula. Both were easy to stay socially distanced. I wasn't sure how things would go once we got to our home base for the trip - the tiny town of Leavenworth - but it turned out they have also made adjustments. 
They shut down the main street to cars and put picnic tables in the streets to help assist with social distancing, and to help keep the businesses (which rely almost entirely on tourism) to stay attractively open. 
The Impossible girl doesn't love masks or the sun, but she's great at understanding that it keeps her germs to herself. She is also a pro at sanitizing and understanding the purpose behind all of this without letting it really get to her. It's just a change. We miss play grounds and sporting events and movie theaters, but this vacation taught me something I plan to carry forward into my life in all my future parenting. 
If you've known me for more than a couple hours - you know I am team 'TAKE THE TRIP'. Don't wait until a small child will (might) remember it clearly. Don't wait until they are perfectly behaving or potty trained, or weaned. TAKE THE TRIP. (I mean, by all means, do what's right for your family. This is just the advice you'll get from me if you ask.) It's EXHAUSTING traveling with a small kid. There is a lot of gear to lug around and things you may not need to worry about at home. It's easier to stay home - or is it?

When we travel, even if it's somewhere like Leavenworth, we try to learn something. Sometimes it's just seeing people that don't look like us, or talk like us. Sometimes it's just to walk a different street and experience a different way of life. Sometimes - like this time - it was to discover that nature has built some wonders that even Disney hasn't been able to replicate. 

In Deception Falls (a fairly easy 1 mile hike), we all learned that the water is SO cold and the rocks and sand do such a good job of filtering the water that NOTHING will live in it. It's fresh and frigid and breath taking.

(We also learned that her legs are magically too tired when she's at the bottom of a hill or a staircase..)
I am always grateful that I can carry her, even now at 40 pounds and nearly 5 years old, around without much of a second thought.  

The hike a Deception Falls was one she did almost all of herself. She was afraid of the roar of the waterfalls for a while, but by the end, she was screaming, "THIS IS SO COOL!" I was also astounded. I've seen waterfalls before, but something about being so close to that one, that was rushing so fast, was just amazing. 

The hike we did the day before she wasn't really up for. She tried, but tired quickly (and the asthma flare up didn't help). I carried her nearly the entire way. 4 miles, about 2.5 hours - and some sights I'll not soon forget. 
My brother snapped this photo as The Impossible Girl and I walked on a bridge crossing a raging river. Summary of the trip is all right there in that photo.

We saw some amazing things - although no animals. It was hot and the middle of the day.

I would never have really considered taking a hiking vacation with The Impossible Girl at this age. Honestly, at this age, if it isn't Disneyland or a Disney related adventure, I don't think I would have bothered with taking her hiking. Camping with a 4 year old sounds like a special form of torture - trying to keep track of her while trying to set up camp.

But this was a great trip. She was a great traveler and was very excited about the whole adventure (and equally as excited to play with all of her toys at home when we returned).  I would never really had considered it, if it was just her and me - because being 'on' as mom doesn't end or really even change just because we change the scenery. But it did recharge my heart a bit. And maybe that's exactly what I didn't realize I needed. 

It was a much needed reminder that we can safely travel and marvel in the things out in it. ...
And follow it up with quite possibly the world's best ice cream...

This kind of trip may be a new summer time favorite. 

 It's not the kind of vacation where all the worries go away. (In fact, you're looking for things like bears constantly.) But it is the kind of trip that deepens our understanding of each other as well as the world around us. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

When the World Paused - Day 113 - The Masquerade Way of Life

On July 7th, the Governor of Washington (Inslee) mandated that all businesses must require masks in order to provide entrance. If someone can not wear a mask due to a medical condition, the business should offer adequate accomadations (such as curb-side pick up, online delivery, etc). It's been a hot topic up here. Personally, I don't mind. I know they aren't 100% effective. Nothing is 100% effective against a virus that has killed 810 people since yesterday (134,000 Americans so far). While, yes, most people recover, it's entirely possible that the systemic effects of the virus are far reaching.

So at some point, this blog may no longer be called 'When the World Paused', but maybe 'LCW' - Living in Covid World. Documenting the circumstances of the world while this little window is written feels important. 

One of the hottest topics in the masking world has been "How do we safely get kids back to school?" Playing with my own thoughts on this (we feel completely safe for The Impossible Girl to have one more year of Forest Preschool, especially under the current world circumstances), I've been doing what I can to make the masking world 'normal' for my kiddo. 

I hear the disappointment in her voice when she asks if we can go to a playground and I want to say 'YES! Let's GO! CLIMB! SLIDE! PLAY!' but I bite my tongue and say, "Not yet. I'm sorry love." 

She used to say, "Because of germs?" But that was weeks ago. Now, it's "Because of germs." 

Yes, honey. Because of germs. 

We still venture out a few times a week on trails and in parks that aren't busy. She is great about keeping her mask readily available to pull over her face when we come across people, but I wondered if there was a better way.

Masking for us has come with it's own share of pit falls. 

I discovered recently that The Impossible Girl thinks she can't talk when she's wearing a mask. Already fairly soft spoken and battling a bit with her speech, it is an added (albeit psychological) barrier to intelligable communication. She sees and hears people talking with masks on almost daily, but struggles with it herself. For now anyway. 

One of her teachers came up with a game of covering your nose and mouth (she used a mask, we used our hands) and trying to 'guess the emotion' from just being able to see the eyes up on someone. We played it for the first time today. She was 50/50 at picking out emotions. She's usually pretty empathetic, so we'll see how that changes as masking becomes a more normal way of life. 

(It certainly seems that masking will stick around for the long haul here...) 

So I decided to see how face shields would work on a walk at the park one day.

The feedback was very positive. She liked it much better than a mask (even though the 'anti-fog' fogged up a little bit after she was running around in it for laps). For me, the major downside is that these things dent pretty darn easily. She didn't play rough with it or anything, and within about 30 minutes of play, it was dented a bit. She did like it though. She was able to flip it up and catch her breath for a moment if she needed a break. It's tougher for her to keep a mask up or loop it over her ears after taking it off (and her motor skills are pretty solid). 

Unfortunately, they aren't considered 'masks' so they won't likely pass on their own, which is kind of sad. It was far more effortless for play and life than a cloth mask is on a small head or tiny ear, as noted below. (While these masks with vinyl faces on them are super cute, they also head up quickly and hold moisture - so YMMV (your milage may vary)). We have a couple of pleated tie on masks that work well and have a pocket for an additional filter. Though she can't tie them on herself (or adjust them) she will happily hold it in place if requested. But I'll get to that....
But we do mask when we go out. This weekend we went to MilkVue to get mochi donuts as a special treat. It's a long drive from our home to the donut destination, and she didn't feel like standing in line when we got there. So she was in her mask, in her carrier, on my back. What would have been a full donut shop had shifted to allow for more physical distancing. They allowed 2 parties in the shop at once, and everyone else did wait patiently outside, several feet away from each other. I chatted (through my mask, with the fellow waiting behind me, and we decided to eat outside. We took our masks off in an empty area of the shopping center to eat. 

Mochi Donuts are definately worth the drive. (This is her favorite - Watermelon Mochi donut.)  You can tell they are a hit.

I've been trying to be the 'fun mom' lately. And I believe it's paying off. When I went back to seeing clients face to face (and she went to a babysitter), she was having accidents every single night. But in making sure I unplug and have more attentive time with her, well - the accidents have stopped (for the moment). It's a big reminder to me that I don't have to be all thing. I don't have to be the coach, the athlete (let's face it - she's on the back burner currently), the author, the military wife, the parent... I just have to be present. 
So on the 4th of July, we ate dinner on the balcony and roasted marshmellows over candles. 
I gave her a few extra minutes to play - because while I'm balancing working/cleaning and parenting, she can express her creativity and make forts to climb through...
She asked me if she could have purple hair one day (after watching a Brad Mondo hair coloring video - I've never done any sort of unnatural hair color - actually I've never really strayed from blond highlights that are fairly naturally occuring). I wasn't going to brave a store to get the stuff for it. Instead, I had some blue left over from Halloween about 3 years ago. She was in heaven for the 24 hours the spray stayed in. 
I've managed to get rid of the 2 free-to-us couches that had outlived their usefulness and gotten a whole new set up going on in the loft (special thanks to the hard working guys at Trash Transporters). I uninstalled the old dishwasher and installed the new dishwasher - yes, myself.
Dishwasher 5 hrs, but DONE! 
And I've dealt with dogs doing more than their fair share of mess making.

But I've also been fitting in shirts I wasn't able to wear in April...
And decided to breath new life into our overgrown yard.
It took me a while of focusing on being present to kind of settle my mind on the value of the moment.

 I'm done with the exhausting work of worrying about things like, "Am I doing the right thing? Letting The Impossible Girl go to babysitting so I can work - when many in similar situations are making more money doing the unemployment dace?" When I see the clients in my email or in the yard, I know I'm making a difference. Sure, I could be making more hounding the unemployment office - many are. And I don't fault them. Perhaps they are more business savvy than I am. But for now, we're finding that balance of living in the moment.