Friday, December 31, 2021

Goals Met


It's the end of the year and I can say I reached my goals and beyond. I'm a dreamer and this year I dreamed big. I'm ending the year with exactly 365 published blog posts. That may seem silly, but for me it was a goal of writing every day. I wrote well over 365 posts when I decided to participate in a month long writing challenge on the day it began. Thousands of writers had prepped for the day and I randomly started with not even a full idea of what to write. It was an addictive feeling to be honest.

As I sit in front of my computer this New Year's Eve, reflective as usual, I'm feel a mix of pride accomplishment, and amazement. I'm not sure if I've ever felt the same sense of accomplishment I'm feeling today. I did big things in 2021. It was a good, hard year. I've exceeded my goals plenty of times in the past, but this year feels different. With everything we missed out on in 2020, doing things that were once normal to us felt extraordinary. Perhaps those feelings are wandering into my sense of accomplishment for the year? Regardless, I'm pretty proud of myself for reaching my goals. 

They weren't goals of money or even doing big things. They were hard, but attainable. They made me work, they made me grow, they made me stronger. They gave me a chance to make myself a priority, which as a mom and business owner, is an accomplishment in and of itself. Despite being hours away from a new year, I don't have a clear idea of what exactly I want to do with it. Maybe that's a goal? Keep it open, keep my mind free, and see what happens. 

Onwards, hopefully upwards, always finding joy, here's to 2022 and deep gratitude to 2021 for showing me what I'm made of.

Visiting Wilson Island State Recreation Area

We really, truly had every intention of finishing our Iowa state parks tour. With only five parks left it was going to be tough since the parks left to visit are spread out, but it was doable. Then the minis and I decided we needed not one, but two days resting at home after a very busy holiday weekend. We will always prioritize mental and physical health over all else, so that left us with only one day to adventure. We chose to visit Wilson Island State Recreation Area in western Iowa primarily because they didn't get the freezing rain and snow that central Iowa saw. Plus, the temps were a good ten degrees warmer and it was sunny. All a huge help in our overall moods.

Wilson Island sits along the Missouri River and at just under two hours from Des Moines, it makes it an easy trip. I did not realize Wilson Island sits on the other side of DeSoto Wildlife Refuge. We have been there years ago and it was a great place to explore. Unfortunately, the Refuge was closed for the season, so we didn't get to add it to our visit. I didn't look closely at what Wilson Island offered as far as recreation goes, but with it's picnic areas, seasonal camping, and dock, I feel as though this is a popular fishing spot. We chose to hike a bit along the river and did one of the trails through the woods (away from the river).

The soft sand was a highlight. The minis threw off their gloves and played in the sand, walked along the icy river, and enjoyed the much needed sunshine. Of course, being right next to the river made 40 degrees feel like 30, but we were just happy to be outdoors with no agenda.

Nothing beats a quick car picnic after a hike! We've gotten quite good at them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Days At Home

My dog always has a look of, "what are they doing to me now??!!?" on his face in pictures!


I needed one day, just one simple day where we had zero things to do. Now, that has turned into two days at home. I was up by 7 a.m. anxiously awaiting the rest of my troop to make their appearances. Two and a half hours and two cups of coffee later, they woke up, laid on the couch, and said they'd rather do schoolwork than leave home. I get it, we've had an intense weekend, so I agreed to another day of rest around the house.

There was movie watching, Duolingo playing, reading new books, taking a walk, and overall keeping everything low key. I didn't realize how needed it was until this evening, when I felt overall rejuvenated by speaking with friends on the phone. I wouldn't have been able to do that twenty four hours ago. We all clearly needed those two days to decompress and get us ready to head into the new year.

Days Like This

Birch Lake, northern Minnesota 2021; otherwise known as the week we lived on a houseboat

Days, weeks, months, years like this. 2021 brought a mixed bag that tested us, but ultimately made our lives better. I was scheduled to be on the road with the minis today, yet we find ourselves at home because no one wanted to leave. They opted for schoolwork instead of travel. That means I'm here thinking about the new year and reflecting on this past year. A lot has happened. Our lives are still turned around, there was a greater sense of normalcy, but after thinking about it more over a hot cup of coffee, I think our unconventional pandemic life has somehow become normal for us.

There have been disagreements and straight up arguments and fights. We've made new friends and worked hard to maintain other friendships. There's been schedule headaches, frustrations with our day to day life, exhaustion from doing too much every single day. There's been worries, heavy conversations, and big decisions about jobs, promotions, and when the minis will go back to the classroom. There were scary moments that made us realize how lucky we are. But those are just a few things that have come into our year. The vast majority of our year was amazing.

We traveled, we tried new things, places, and food. We got to go back to our favorite places, spent the summer drinking in pools at our favorite water park, laughed with friends and family, became stronger. At the end of August, we spent a week on a houseboat in northern Minnesota. As with most of our adventures, I created a music playlist for our getaway. I included many songs about boating, sailing, day drinking, relaxing. It's honestly a great playlist, if I do say so myself. There's one song on the list that sticks out to me: Van Morrison's Days Like This.

I like to think about the meaning songs hold for me. This song tells me about a perfect day or time. When things are going just perfectly, everything works out. There's clearly been turmoil, but it's all okay. That's how 2021 has been for us. 2020 changed our lives, 2021 brought challenges, but we became comfortable with those challenges. Things were good, not perfect, but every hard decision we had to make turned into something good. At the end of each year I do a year in review for us. This year, this song is our year in review. As we end the year with me trying to get my children to go on an adventure with me, I'm playing our 2021 theme song in my head.

When it's not always raining there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this
When you don't need to worry there'll be days like this
When no one's in a hurry there'll be days like this
When you don't get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there'll be days like this
When you don't need an answer there'll be days like this
When you don't meet a chancer there'll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit it
Then I must remember there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this
When everyone is up front and they're not playing tricks
When you don't have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it's nobody's business the way that you want to live
I just have to remember there'll be days like this
When no one steps on my dreams there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this

** check out our Minnesota trip here, here, and here.**

2022 Goals

Here we are three days away from the new year and I'm still working on this year's goals, not putting much thought into what I'd like to see for and from myself for 2022. As we're cuddled on the couch, I began speaking with my children about what we'd like from the new year. They had a few suggestions, such as "get a second dog," which was promptly squashed, so we changed course a bit. We spoke about the things they'd like to do in the next year. We came up with some good ones, putting our hopes and good vibes out into the universe as we try like hell to make it all happen.

  • finish our Iowa State Parks tour (only 5 left!!)
  • see the northern lights
  • visit NYC
  • put the finishing touches on my book, find an agent or publisher
  • continue writing, take on writing jobs
  • read more books
  • travel more
  • finish the basement, move a kid down in the bedroom, and begin other house projects
  • send the mini back to the classroom
  • take time for myself

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Long Christmas Weekend

We've been celebrating Christmas since the 18th. The last six days have been nonstop Christmas. Christmas Eve morning we ran last minute errands before heading to my aunt's house for a family Christmas. There we ate, talked, listened to the minis singing Cascabeles, opened presents, and made time to look at Christmas lights when we were done with family Christmas.

Magically, I wrapped all of the presents in between errands and family Christmas, so we literally just had to come home and put the last few gifts under the tree. I was able to enjoy an eggnog and whiskey and go to bed. I'm glad I had the sense to go to bed at a decent hour because the minis were up Christmas morning by 5:45! 

Before presents were torn open, we made coffee (yes, even the minis), made sure the dog opened his bone, and we found the pickle ornament in the tree to decide who opened the first present. We were awake as could be, the dog paid zero attention to what the rest of us were doing thanks to the bone, and we finally found the ornament after I completely forgot where I put it in the tree! Then it was finally time for presents. The minis opened tons of Legos, new science kits for homeschooling, books, new Chromebooks, and the biggest surprise of all, a brand new laptop for me.

Elizabeth received her simple coffee maker she asked for after enjoying coffees from our Airbnb's all fall. She decided she didn't like our Keurig and wanted "a real coffee maker."

We exhausted the dog with an early wake up and huge bone. While the minis played with all of their new gifts and I cooked breakfast, Zeus napped. In the afternoon, grandparents stopped by with gifts. However, we failed to get a picture with Grandma and Grandpa Sheaffer.

This kid got a huge Harry Potter haul, including this adorable blanket robe and scarf.

The day after Christmas the minis got to build Legos all day, Hubs went to buy half off decorations for next Christmas, and I spent some time at Kava with my sister and cousin. None of us had been here before and it's easily one of my favorite places. The menu has coffees, smoothies, smoothie bowls, waffles, mocktails, and more. The plants and wooden tables provide a calm and soothing atmosphere, which was perfect for our long chats.

Brand new Christmas lights and naps on the couch.

Before our last large family gathering, we were up early Monday morning to get Covid tests done. All negative, we got to come home for coffee, and then spend a few hours with my dad's side of the family. 

It was a great, long weekend with so many celebrations! As exhausted as I was at the end, I was relieved to experience a normal-ish holiday.