Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Letter To 2021

 Hey 2021! I see you. Are you ready to begin? Will you be mellow or will you be like your predecessor who loves surprises? Much like a lot of people, I'm anxious for you. Mostly because I have no idea what you'll bring. Are you going to have me changing and growing in ways I never really wanted (but apparently needed) or will you bring back our "normal?" I ask you these questions, but I realize I'm the one that will ultimately answer them.

I have a list of goals, but they're cautious goals. You see, 2020 made me put my Top Goals aside and focus on my Someday Goals. Honestly, those maybe goals are probably the best things that have ever happened to me. 2020 made my maybe goals turn into my top goals. That chic really did a number on me. She REALLY sucked in so many ways, but she also gave me gifts I didn't know I needed. 

She gave me time. So much time that I didn't always use wisely (cough *Netflix* cough), but I enjoyed nonetheless. She gave me the ability to stop, she taught me to take deep breaths, and she made 'what in the actual fuck' our family motto. I'm telling you this 2021, because I don't know how you'll be, but I hope you let me continue to hope. I hope to find a new "normal" for us because 2020 made me realize our old "normal" wasn't as perfect as I thought it was.

I have one simple request of you. I want you to let me, give me the ability to, do the things I love. Write every day. Laugh, cry, and love daily. Let me feel all of the emotions. Continue to give me time because it makes me feel like I've been able to press pause on life and be present for every moment. Let me find adventure and explore. Let me be so tired that my legs ache at the end of a day. Let me continue to rest. Like I said, cautious, big life goals, but not specific. 2020 let me achieve the big life goals by taking away the specific goals I had in mind. I'm definitely not saying you have to go about it in the same way. Not to gossip, but I mean, a pandemic to get me to cook, do a puzzle, and learn tons of new things was a bit much, don't ya think?

While I have hope for you 2021, I'm not buying you your own planner or calendar. I don't want to jinx you too much. I'm not quite ready to let go of my obligation free time.

So, anyways, I'll let you go. I really just wanted to check in, make sure you were ready with good ju-ju to put out into the universe. There's an entire world waiting for you with fingers crossed that you will let us spend time with friends and family yet again. I get that you won't be a totally normal year, but if you could bring back some good stuff, it wouln't hurt. We don't want you to get the rap that 2020 has, right? We'll see you at midnight with pajamas and kids that probably shouldn't be up that late.


I Really Want To Take A Vacation Again Me

P.S. It would be geat if you could keep sweatpants cool. Suddenly, everyone is realizing how my every day work attire (aka: sweatpants, tees, sweatshirts, and slip on shoes) is the fashion trend, which means for the first time since I was 22, I'm fashionable. 

My Favorite December Things

As usual, my absolute favorite things on the weekdays is warm coffee and listening to kids play.

I totally missed sharing a Christmas list of must haves, but we've tried A LOT of new things recently. As it turns out, I'm not good at snowboarding. Regardless of the face plants, snowboarding was awesome. I loved it. We've loved a lot of things these past few weeks that have gotten us through these cold weather weekends during a pandemic. With snow storms in the forecast, along with many new face plants in my future, I'll share the things we love with you:

1.) We received (and gave) some great gifts from Bozz Prints and The Knotty Nail. Both located in Valley Junction, Bozz Prints has anything you'll need that's Iowa related and The Knotty Nail has everything from string art kits (my minis love these) to mugs (my shitshow cup in now one of my favorites) to wooden signs.


2.) Hot chocolate bombs are the bomb this year. I was lucky enough to be gifted homemade ones (and they were amazing!), but we turned to Beaverdale Confections to go in our Pandmic Gift Baskets for family.

3.) We've been on a breakfast pizza kick. Casey's, Fong's, Scornovacco's. Des Moines has some great options when it comes to this breakfast delicacy. Casey's is still my favorite.

4.) We've had plenty of time for movie and television viewing. Some of our faves to watch the last couple of weeks include: Prom, The Princess Switch (1 and 2), a re-watch of The X-Files, and HBO Max (WW1984 was a must watch, so we treated ourselves to a subscription to the streaming service).

5.) Since we did no big family gatherings this year, we wanted to bring just a little bit of the usual Christmas into our home. As a result, I've found myself making family favorite recipes passed down from my grandparents and great grandparents. Our Christmas Eve feast included homemade pork and chili with tortillas, tamales (from our favorite place in Des Moines), homemade salsa, and conchas. Christmas Day included ham, my grandma's Christmas potatoes, and bread pudding. All VERY rich food that somehow made it feel more like the holiday.

6.) The minis (and mom) were surprised with a Lazer Tag set from my aunt and uncle. We've had some VERY entertaining nights since Christmas Eve thanks to this set. It's so loved that I may order another one or two for daycare this summer!

7.) As we're in the middle of another snowstorm, brand new snow tubes and snowboards may have been my best idea yet. We need to master snowboarding (so far we've only mastered face planting), but both have gotten plenty of use so far and given us so much fun!

8.) Before this school year, I had always wondered how teachers can go through so many Expo markers. Now, I get it. Those things made their way onto my wish lists and Christmas lists because they're so used.

9.) The minis loved their tie blanket art classes so much in the fall that they made some for Christmas gifts. They watched numerous tutorials and tried different methods of the tying. YouTube tutorials of all kinds have been our go-to when we've tried new things this pandemic quarantine. 

10.) After a unit on the stars, planets, and constellations, star gazing has become a thing our family loves to do. Certified dark sky parks are the best places to look up and take it all in. We recently visited Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Said to have the darkest skies in Iowa, it's definitely a place we'll be visiting again (and likely hiking too!). 

11.) I'll be straight with you, while homeschooling is going better than expected, I've relied on Google A LOT. Especially with middle school science class. Apparently I needed to pay more attention! To help both the 7th grader and myself, I grabbed the Everything You Need to Ace Science, World History, and American History for the 5th grader. My kids read these for fun and it makes explaining things soooo much easier. Maybe my kids just have a lot of questions, but it's given my Googling a bit of a break!

12.) My husband handmade me a charcuterie board for Christmas. Now I'm having fun putting them together. Just for us because, ya know, we can't have gatherings, but hopefully I'll perfect my boards before we can actually have people inside of our home. 

13.) Despite getting a ridiculous amount of Harry Potter Legos this holiday season, my boys anxiously waiting to purchase these Harry Potter book sets.

14.) I happened upon these Virtual Tours on Facebook and it's well worth the money, especially since there's very little traveling happening right now!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Full Day Christmas Celebration


Obviously with Covid, we haven't seen family or friends very much. Our 2020 December weekends have been quite calm compared to previous year's. Typically, in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we do cookie decorating, dinners, and many celebrations with friends and family. This year, after speaking with my parents and sister, we decided on an ALL DAY Christmas celebration. We did EVERYTHING we would usually do in December with them and fit it all in an 8 hour day.

Things got crazy because our 8 month old pup lost his cool with all of the celebrating, but it was a wonderfully needed day! We were masked all day long, ate away from each other, and took every precaution we know in order to celebrate on this day.

Cookie decorating. Not pictured are our amazing drinks and food we had. We ordered Fong's breakfast pizza, breakfast egg rolls, and chorizo burritos for breakfast with a Christmas punch, hot chocolate with homemade Bailey's in it, and a smoked brisket for dinner. All of it was wonderful and we were full for two days!

I attempted to wrangle the dog in the photo.

The monogram bathrobes were a favorite. The minis have worn them every day since.

This is what we call "helping."

At the beginning of our homeschool year, art class was learning to make tie blankets. The boys became experts, so they made tie blankets for Christmas! They had a great time picking out fabric and working on them.

The pup that wouldn't calm it down all day, came home and crashed. Hard.

Sunday's are for sleeping, relaxing, prepping for the week, puzzles, games, and new toys.

We had this puzzle done in two hours. The pandemic has made us into puzzle people.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Our Snowy Early Christmas


Some of the first presents we bought for Christmas were snowboards and snow tubes. When we got our first significant snowfall two weekends ago, we decided to have a small Christmas morning early and give the minis those gifts. It was a such a fun surprise to pull off! Plus, it gave them a weekend of fun in the snow!

Being in isolation in the cold weather months is rough for those of us who like to get out and do things. This snowy morning gave us something to do and gave us lasting memories. I think the funniest portion of the weekend was me attempting to help the boys snowboard, when I myself have no clue how! I watched the YouTube videos right along with them.

The dog hopped through the freshly fallen snow like a rabbit!

Before heading out to the hills in our neighborhood, we had a hot, filling breakfast of eggs, bisuits and gravy, and tea.

Our hilly neighborhood isn't easy to navigate in the winter, but it makes for some great sledding! We don't have to pack up the car to go play in the snow, we just have to walk up the hill. Our neighborhood is fairly quiet as well, so if it works out, sometimes we even sled in the streets! On this day, we went to the school yard and attempted to snowboard, used the snow tube too many times to count, and frolicked in the snow for a few hours. It was great! Even when we came home to get warm, the minis were only home for a bit before they went back to play.

A break from the snow to drink hot chocolate and watch Godmothered. All received four stars.

We had the perfect snowy day dinner: homemade Italian stew. My grandma's recipe, made by Hubs. It was delicious!

Sunday was much like Saturday: play in the snow, attempt to snow board, go sledding, drink hot chocolate. Sunday evening we piled in the car, blasted Christmas carols, and looked at Christmas lights. We stopped by my parents for their yearly baked goodies, which means the minis were sugared up before bedtime.
A minis decaf coffee with a cherry candy cane in it for "flavoring." I couldn't get on board with this one, so I did not try it.

We're on our second round of new winter coats this season. These minis have played outside so much this cold weather season that they're clothes are getting worn out! As much as I don't like spending all of that money on new clothes, coats, gloves, etc. I really wouldn't have it any other way.

This was the look she went for when we left to look at lights.

I failed to bring the dog's water dish, so Max had to get creative and put the water in his hand!

My favorite tree.