Swimming with Santa

Swimming with Santa

During our holiday getaway earlier in December, we had booked a Swim with Santa event. It seemed pretty safe- very limited numbers of people.

And Remi had been asking to swim…and she LOVES Santa.

But then it got rescheduled. But we decided to go the following weekend. We had nothing else planned, and I’m so glad we went! It was so fun!

The pool was very clean and warm. Everyone not in the water was masked, and the number in the pool was limited, and people kept spread out.

And Santa was floating on a island in the pool! We were there for an hour, so Remi went up 3 or 4 times to talk to the big man. We loved it!

Looking Ahead at 2021

I usually set out some goals in this space. And I do have a few goals I want to accomplish (which I will share).

But more than that, I want to document my word and verse for the year. I’ve chosen a verse to meditate on for several years, but I don’t always remember to share them here.

My word is “forward’ and my verse utilizing that is Philippians 3:13-14 “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching FORWARD to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward.”

I want to look toward the things God has for me this year. Things to grow myself and grow His kingdom.

I know I worked on a LOT of things in 2020, including gaining some financial peace, some self-love, and lots of counseling to work through issues. But we press on.

Some goals I’m setting for myself:

-Read one book a month. I’ve gotten into more of a rhythm reading and I want to continue.

-Cook through the ENTIRE Skinnytaste Meal Prep cookbook. This will not only fulfill my desire for “novelty” and draw on my love of cooking, but I think it will help us eat more healthy (something I struggle with having endless time to cook comfort foods).

-Find a workout program/system that’s sustainable for me. I was LOVING 9 Round in 2019, and then it wasn’t working in 2020. Their virtual workouts weren’t great for me alone at home. But neither was much of anything (aside from walking, which has been amazing for me…but it’s cold now….so…). I crave community and collaboration in a workout, but that’s hard to find right now. I have plans to try a couple different things and see if either will stick. Not just for “weight loss” sake, but for strength, health and mental health. Working out helps me in lots of ways.

That’s it. I’m not working towards a goal weight or any big things. I want to do some things that I know will help me go toward the person I want to be: someone who is healthy, vibrant, always learning and who cares for others. Here’s to 2021.

Looking Back on 2020

Looking Back on 2020

So I usually do a yearly recap where I look at the goals I set here and go through them.

Well, I’m not doing that this year.

2020 just wasn’t a year to focus on goals. I was not in a mental space for much of the year to “work on things.”

However, the year wasn’t all bad. While it was so many things (scary, anxious, sad, lonely), it was much much much more. I wanted to highlight some good things from this year and call out some things I learned.

Good things from 2020:

-Found out who true friends were. There were some people in our lives who ended up lying to us. It became apparent during the pandemic who people were who truly cared. Friends who got in touch. People who opened their homes for visits when I was going CRAZY in this house. Friends who supported us during hard times. And the others fell by the wayside.

-Speaking of friends, we got very creative in our time together. Porch hangouts where we mixed cocktails in front and back yards. Bonfires with projectors to watch football games. Outdoor birthday parties and porch drop offs of birthday gifts. Having a friend over for lunch instead of eating out together. Traveling and doing “safe” things like going on walks and eating at home and watching TV together – but it still felt good to be together.

-I spent 9 whole weeks with Remington. As a working mom, that’s not something I ever really thought I would do outside of maternity leave. It wasn’t all roses. There were hard days trying to balance work and a preschooler (and for a month Tyler had moved out to protect us from the virus), and it was HARD. But we had lots of good moments, too. Lots of putting her down for naps. Lots of morning snuggles. Lots of laughs. Lots of making crazy pancakes. Lots of playing together.

-Remi got to have SO MUCH Grandma time with both Mimi and Gigi. We had more family time than ever this year. During the beginning of this when everything was shut down, we saw our family almost every day. We ate tons of meals together. They helped me corral her during the workdays. They were here a lot.

-We had a super fun vacation to a farm! This probably would never have been my choice of vacation- going to a dairy farm with a creek. But it was SO fun. We relaxed, played games, played in the creek, fed the animals and just enjoyed ourselves.

-We explored our state. We went on (I think?) 9 weekly hikes during the Spring/early summer (once it gets too hot, you can’t hike here, comfortably. Too many bugs and snakes for me!). We saw awesome waterfalls, and I think one thing we will continue to make time for in the Spring is going hiking. I have some spots flagged in my local trail books to check out next year! (for the featured photo above, I chose one of the best spots we found all year at King’s River Falls. So peaceful and beautiful.)

-My work was gracious and flexible. My coworkers are amazing people (which is why working at home since March has been hard- I miss them!), and they’ve made a way for us to remain busy and productive, and also safe.

-I cooked more at home than I ever have before. I baked bread. I made pancakes (a lot). I grilled and sauteed and braised and baked and fried and did all the things. At times, it felt like these people would never stop needing to eat! But I like to cook, and it was fun to get so much kitchen time.

Things I’ve learned:

-I NEED people. I’m an extreme extrovert. An enneagram 7. A people person. I need community. The beginning of isolation was tough and lonely, and screens helped but didn’t solve it.

-I desire “novelty” and had to get creative at finding it. This resulted in trying new recipes, going on those hikes, and trying new hobbies (that didn’t stick).

-Live music really does feed my soul. When Hanson began very small, socially-distanced concerts in October, a part of me came alive again.

-I’ve learned a few cooking skills: perfected my cinnamon roll recipe, learned how to make great homemade biscuits (the trick is grating frozen butter and laminating the dough!), and making omelets (finally! Been trying for years!).

-I’ve learned to sit with sad feelings (better, not perfect). I tend to run away and push away sadness, but I’ve learned it can co-exist with other feelings and you can push through sad days.

-I’ve learned that people can be good. (Yes, it was a year when I felt insanely disappointed in people at times surrounding things about the pandemic and the election…but…) I have been AMAZING at watching people go above and beyond for others. Watching them at Christmas and Easter and Halloween work to make the holidays safe and special for our communities….watching them take care of neighbors…watching them support small businesses. It’s been great.

I’m not trying to put lipstick on a pig. This year hasn’t been easy. It’s been fraught with anxiety over almost choice we made to leave our home. It’s been full of second guessing every headache or runny nose. It’s been crying myself to sleep worried about loved ones and connections who were sick. It’s been sad and lonely and the days were long. I got out of routine of working out and eating well and gained weight and lost strength. But I survived. All of it. I might have more gray hair and wrinkles now (but I did find a good skincare routine!), but I also was able to dye my hair pink and have a little fun with it.

But. But God. God was (and is!) still moving in the midst of all of this. And I’ve really had to seek Him out to point me to the good. And these were all things that felt like mountaintops during the year. God continues to be good, even in the crummy years.

And while I do hope that somehow magically changing the calendar date gives us at least a mental “fresh start,” I know that I will keep learning and growing and looking for the good.

Happy New Year, friends.

Christmas Light Night 2

Christmas Light Night 2

For the second week of our Christmas light tour, we hit up a BUNCH of houses in and around Fort Smith that had neat displays.

But Remi’s fave was Creekmore Park. Even though the train wasn’t running, she LOVED playing at the park at night with the lights all around!

The weather was surprisingly nice! Even though it was a little cold, there was no wind, so it was really pleasant outside.

Remi also LOVED the Fianna Hills neighborhood, including the houses on Dundee Drive. They each have a Disney display with a line from Twas the Night Before Christmas, so you can read the story as you drive. It was so fun!

She also loved getting out at the different houses and watching the displays set to music. We are so thankful for our community making everything so festive!