Long-Awaited Hugs

Long-Awaited Hugs

Mom and I went to visit Dad…and it seems like every visit has new rules due to the pandemic and the ever-changing guidance.

Sit 10 feet apart with masks. Gloves and gowns.

But we were TOTALLY surprised when we went in and she said that since Dad was fully vaccinated, we could HUG HIM!

We immediately broke into happy tears and basically cried the whole time.

We were not allowed to kiss him, but we got lots of hugs and hand holding.

I remember a year ago being so afraid that I would never get to see him again. I was worried he would lose his life to Covid (which he did get it…but thankfully, it was mild). I’m just so grateful we got to hug him again!

Growing in Her Soccer Skills

Growing in Her Soccer Skills

Remi had some awesome banner weeks at soccer, scoring like 4-5 goals per game. I missed two weeks of games (due to the women’s conference at our church that I was helping with…and then our anniversary trip), so she’s made a LOT of progress since I saw her play.

This particular week, she didn’t score any goals, but MAN, she showed awesome improvement. She stayed with the ball and was showing that she was becoming more aggressive.

I was just so impressed with her. Her little team plays well together, but I’m just so proud of how she’s staying focused and working hard!

I mean, look at that little stiff arm trying to get control of the ball! (This picture is sweet, too…it’s got three kids she’s been at daycare with over the years!)

But I just love watching her find her way in something new.

Exploring Mt. Nebo

Exploring Mt. Nebo

As we approached the weekend, the weather looked BEAUTIFUL, so we decided to go back to our “quarantine roots” and have a family adventure day. Not all the things that came out of the pandemic were bad! haha

We decided to drive about 1.5 hours to Mt. Nebo State Park. My mom had been hiking up here once, but the rest of us had never been. IT. WAS. GORGEOUS.

A beautiful clear day where it felt like you could see all 4 corners of the state. The weather was perfect- sunny and cool (if not a bit too much so with the wind). We never broke a sweat.

We started with a trip to the visitor’s center then a picnic. And to get Remi excited to be there, we hit up the campground playground (which was SO nice!).

Then we did some exploring around Sunset Point and hiked a bit of the Rim Trail. The trail was VERY nice- clear and easy. But we had promised Remi we wouldn’t hike too much (she is a bit timid after our 2+ mile trip at Lake Catherine), so we didn’t want to push her too much.

We turned around at a Stone Bridge, but before we hiked back, we did some playing in the water.

We went back to the playground for one more bit of fun, and then we stopped at the bench overlook on our way out.

It was a gorgeous state park with amazing views and wonderful amenities. 10/10!

On our way down the mountain, we were hungry, so we ate dinner in Dardenelle at Bocadillo’s. It was a Mexican restaurant that also served amazing homemade ice cream. Remi, of course, spotted the Cookie Monster blue ice cream.

And mom and I shared a churro dog with a homemade churro on a chocolate-dipped hot dog bun! It was all so good!

On our drive home, we drove through some smoke from a controlled burn and it made for a lovely sunset. The sun was just HUGE and red.

We got home and everyone crashed. Remi had skipped nap (and had soccer that morning, so a very full day!), and she went right to bed.

It was a fabulous day exploring Arkansas!

365 Days of the Pandemic

365 Days of the Pandemic

I can not believe one year later we are still here. An article I read recently said when you measure the last year in isolation, fear and deaths, it feels like it’s been a decade (and you can’t remember the before times).

But when you measure it in the fact that we created a vaccine and so far 100 million Americans (myself included!) have gotten doses, it’s been a moment. A true modern miracle.

I’ve done more reflection in this last year than ever before. It’s brought on a ton of feelings. Loneliness, fear, hopelessness, disappointment, isolation, despair. But it’s also brought in laughter, family time, memories, adventures and relaxation in ways I could never have planned. Both can exist in this last year together. Both exist abundantly.

Things I will NEVER forget about this year:

  • Making masks for my family (they were poorly made…but at the beginning when you couldn’t find masks everywhere, a necessity)
  • Explaining the pandemic to our 3 year old. “There is a sickness going around that is making people very sick. We are going to stay home from school and work for a while so we don’t get sick.”
  • And all the times we used “because of the sickies” as a reasoning for lots of things – why we do some things (like wear masks or wash our hands more) or why we don’t do things (like go to Silver Dollar City).
  • ALL the family time. Family karaoke parties. Family hikes. Family meals.
  • ALL the pool day Fridays this summer when my hours were cut and I was off on Fridays.
  • The sadness and stress that came when Tyler moved out for a month because he was worried about bringing covid home to us.
  • How I cried upon returning to church.
  • How HARD it was to work and do church with a preschooler at home. While I’m eternally grateful for all the extra time with Remi (which as a working mom is not something I ever thought possible for us), I needed help.
  • Watching Remi’s independence flourish because of all the independent play time. She’s a great problem solver, and while I often wish I could have given her all my attention all the time, she did get creative to do things on her own.
  • ALL the pancakes I made. LOTS of designer pancakes.
  • Watching the governor’s addresses almost daily. Tracking the numbers in our county and the country. Worrying about where we went and wondering for two weeks after we went anywhere if we would get sick.
  • Wiping down takeout boxes and groceries, until we learned that surfaces weren’t as dangerous as we worried.
  • SO MUCH HAND SANITIZER (which Remi calls “hanitizer”)
  • ALL the walks. I took walks almost daily- even in rain and snow. I needed out of the house. Often with the neighborhood dogs.
  • New hobbies. Soap making and bread baking.
  • Struggling to find things in the grocery stores- toilet paper, flour, chicken, Fresca and Rotel.
  • Finding ways to travel safely. We did SO many fun things this year- going to see the elephants in Hugo, OK, going to the farm, TONS of hikes, trips to Hot Springs to see family.
  • Seeing friends! I had time to visit Alden and Amber this year because of all the down time without plans.
  • Trying new recipes. SO many. Cooking was a coping mechanism, and trying new recipes gave me an outlet. Matzo ball soup, focaccia, chicken fried steak, and then starting to cook through an entire cook book.
  • ALL the tie dye. We started at the farm and then did it two more times.
  • Drive by parties for friends.
  • Our first dinner out for my birthday, when we all got dressed up, donned masks and ate inside for the first time in months.
  • Canceled events like our annual Christmas party, Hanson Day and 4th of July on the square.
  • Home projects like putting my Fiesta in rainbow order, fixing up the garage door, planting daffodils.
  • SO MANY VIRTUAL MEETINGS. Daily work meetings, meeting with my life group, Facetiming friends, virtual workouts.

Thankfully, Tyler and my MIL are fully vaccinated. My mom and I have gotten the first dose. We seem to have escaped the pandemic all staying well. The only person in our immediate family who got covid was my dad in the nursing home (who, thankfully, had a very mild case).

I could measure this year in the number of times I cried, the number of walks I’ve taken, the number of times I stress cleaned my house, the few times I wore jeans, the pounds I gained (thanks stress eating), the number of times we were covid tested because of exposures (3 for Tyler, 1 for me and Remi, 2 for my mom and MIL)…

But I’ll choose to measure it in the number of times I got to read to Remi before her naptime while we were both home, the times we sat outside watching the sunset, the family meals we ate together, the minutes we spend together. This year was tough, but it was far from bad.

I’m not sure when we will declare this entire thing “over.” Will it be when enough people are vaccinated? Will we wear masks for years (goodness, I hope not!). When can we go back into crowds and see shows or concerts? No one knows. I know if you asked me a year ago, I thought this would last a few months and be done. But it hasn’t. But I’m hopeful for tomorrow. And I’m choosing to be thankful for the things I learned in the last 365 days.