Wednesday, December 30, 2020

New Years Resolutions I've Kept (And Ones I Hope to Keep)

I know every year around this time we're all thinking about what goals we want to accomplish in the next year. Then, almost immediately after thinking about said goals, we think about all the jokes we hear about those resolutions dying before January ends. However, I have actually kept some of my resolutions for years and they've become habits! I am proof it can be done!

Paying off Debt

Last year at this time, my resolution was to pay down debt. While we're not completely paid down, we have paid off our car and a few credit cards. It's amazing! And we're continuing to roll into the new year by paying off the last few smaller debts and then starting to work on our student loans.

Taking vitamins

The year before last, my resolution was to take vitamins every day. Up until that point, I had only taken them sporadically. However, for the last 2 years, I have taken my vitamins nearly every single day (I may have only missed 3 days in that whole time frame). I take a daily prenatal (which they suggest to all women of child-bearing age), fish oil, probiotic, and then we added in some vitamin D because of Covid. I plan to set up a doctor's appointment and have some blood tests done after the beginning of the year to see if they've made any difference in comparison to the last time I had a blood test. I'll keep you posted!

This pillbox was a find from Dollar Tree. Each day comes out so I can throw it in my purse if I need to! It keeps me on track!

Not spending my hard-earned money on Starbucks

I literally used to go to Starbucks every day when I worked in an office. I cringe when I think of how much money I wasted during that period of my life. After I started working from home, I went several times a week, but not every day. Then one year I decided to try to go a whole year without purchasing Starbucks with my own money. I started using rewards apps like Shopkick, I got Starbuck's prepaid debit card and used it to pay all my bills and relied on generous friends and family to gift me over the course of the year. With the app and the debit card, I earned points to use on free coffee and then used the gift cards in between the free coffee. I've kept this going and have maybe only spent $30 of my own money there in the last 3 years. I still go maybe once a week (and more often when I'm on vacation). But I've stuck to it and I no longer feel guilty about having a latte.

So what about this year?

Given all that success the last 3 years, I've really been contemplating what to focus on coming into 2021. My goals mostly all have to do with my overall health. With the lockdowns this year, I stopped going to the gym. And, through no fault but my own, fell out of yoga practice (which I had been doing several times a week). I'm pretty health-conscious when I'm eating at home, but I do feel like I need to significantly cut down on processed foods (especially ones processed with sugar) and make better choices when eating out. So this year, those are my goals; work out 3-5 times per week, cut back on added sugars and eat more real food. I want 2021 to be the healthiest year yet (which would really take some work because I had quite a few healthy years before I moved to the land where meat and potatoes were a regular thing).

Me...when going to the gym was not a dangerous thing to do.

What resolutions have you kept? Do you know what resolutions you'd like to target yet for 2021?

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Year in Review: Images of 2020

This is the year that toilet paper was nowhere to be found (for no apparent reason other than people freaked out and that's the thing they thought they needed boatloads of). It was the year of a tumultuous presidential election that is still making headlines. It was the year for lockdowns, masks, social distancing and evading the dreaded Covid-19. You all know this, but when I come back and read this, I may need a reminder.

Despite all the newspaper headlines we read about 2020, my year personally had quite a few highs and lows. I figured I'd recap them all in photos because those say a thousand words and I wouldn't want my hands to cramp trying to keep up!

Grandma started chemo after successful surgery to remove the affected kidney and ureter.

The Chiefs made it to the Superbowl. We took advantage of the display at Union Station in Kansas City.

Even D got on the fun despite this not being his home state.

And I went all-in on attire.

The Chiefs won the Superbowl and the family attended the parade. 7 of us spent the night crowded in one hotel room. We then walked about 3 miles to the rally location. It was a long, long day.

It was also very cold (Dad was the most prepared and even he was cold). Even if they win again this year, we're never doing that again. Once is enough.

We all learned how to make our booms stand up on their own.

For Valentine's Day, we went on our last vacation of AirBNB in Parkville, MO.

We had our last fancy meal out at a French restaurant. Cafe De Amis!

Headed to TN to see family in March only to discover things started flying off the shelf.

Came home and began the long season of having online church services during the shutdown.

Tried to stay connected with friends by hosting online game nights every week. This one was from our Pictionary game night.

Started wearing masks before we knew we'd have to wear them for everything.

Hosted Easter service from our living room.

The obligatory Easter Sunday picture. 

D preaching his Easter message from the living room.

Saw a rainbow. And it was the highlight of lockdown.

Grew my first garden.

Learned to cut my own hair. This is the before pic.

After my self-induced haircut.

Made my own sushi cause I couldn't stand life without it any longer.

It was pretty good.

Did everything we could to entertain ourselves during the summer months.
Hit the golf course.

Hit the pool.

Did some go-cart racing.

Discovered a new love for at-home escape games.

Redecorated our living room. Obviously, this is the before pic.

Used my stimulus money to buy a new couch. Dubbed it the "Trump Couch".

The after of the redecorating project! I love it.

Started having drive-up service on Sundays and had to babysit the sound equipment every Sunday morning with my cup of coffee until church started.

Despite all the treatments, cancer took my grandmother on October 7th.
Grieved (and am still grieving) my first big loss. Would go through 2020 over and over again if it meant more time with her.

That brings us to the present day. Trying to enjoy family and the magic of Christmas.
Looking forward to 2021 and hopefully a less chaotic year of hurdles and hassles.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Santa?! I Know Him! (Christmas Week Recap)

This past week, it was wonderful to wake up in the morning and not worry about starting work. I would really like for 2021 to hold more (consecutive) days off for me. I'm learning that sometimes, my clients can wait while I recharge my batteries. I'm not sure how well they waited (since I haven't checked my email yet), but I'm sure they survived my week-long hiatus.

The first part of the week, I did little spurts here and there of wrapping gifts or cooking. Then I did a little crocheting trying to finish up that last gift. However, the highlight of this time was having my feet up and starting to read the first story in A Patchwork Christmas Collection. I found this book in the basement of the parsonage my husband and I moved into when we started pastoring our church. I'm not sure which pastor's wife it belonged to, but I kept it as if it were some artifact. When my grandmother had to start cancer treatments, I lent it to her. She read all 3 stories in the book and gave it back to me. She liked it and the fact that it had recipes inside. After she died, we found little bits of paper in random places with recipes she'd scrawled on them that she found. I'm sure some of the recipes in this book are found in her "recipe collection." I decided that for the next 3 Christmases, I would read one of the stories out of the book. In that way, it was almost like I am reading it with her.

Christmas Eve we decided to clean up the house a little and spend the majority of the day hanging out at home watching Christmas movies. That night we went to my Dad's where I helped him prep a family favorite for Christmas morning; biscuits and chocolate gravy. Grandma's mother (lovingly called 'Big Mama') would make this every time we visited her in Tennessee and it just felt like the right thing to do to remember them both.

Christmas morning was a new experience for us because this was the first time D and I woke up in our own house on Christmas morning in the entirety of our marriage. We got up, prepped some coffee and settled in to swap just one of our presents and open our stockings. At this point we also realized that we knew each other so well, we got each other the same thing...massagers. We had a good laugh at that. We also video chatted with his parents because our initial plan was to be with them on Christmas Day. That plan got a little rearranged and we've made plans to just keep on celebrating Christmas until we see them sometime next month. 

We then went to my Dad's for Christmas brunch and had breakfast casserole, biscuits and both sawmill and chocolate gravy (separate not together, ha!). We hung out with them for a bit and then headed back to our own house to finish out the day. It really boiled down to a nap, D going out and driving around town looking for food, more christmas movies and opening more presents!

D only got to open one present, however, because he opens one present a day for 12 straight days between December 21st and January 1st. Since he had opened his present for that day earlier in the morning, the evening was spent opening all my presents from him. And, as always, he did a wonderful job! Besides the massager, I got lots of other incredible things (see below). One of the things that I'm really excited about is a game called "Dead of Winter" which I'd been eyeing for quite some time. He ordered it and it's due to be delivered sometime this week. I'm sure I'll want to bust it out pretty quickly after it arrives.

Besides his massager, so far his gifts have included a scratch map (to document places he's been in the world), k-cups of his favorite coffee, chocolate covered cashews, a 'mixed tape' (aka playlist of music I thought he'd appreciate) and a detective game (can you tell we are big gamers?). He's still got a whole 6 days of gifts left!

Since plans got so rearranged, we'll be having our main Christmas with the majority of my side of the family next weekend then the week after that we'll hopefully be able to celebrate with my husband's family. So, my plans of keeping Christmas going well into the New Year seem to be panning out just fine without much effort from me! While I'm still not looking forward to getting back into my regular routine, I'm more convinced than ever that 2021 will be the year I am more intentional about rest times.

So what about you? Are you all done Christmasing or will you be going well into January as well?

Monday, December 21, 2020

Twas' the Week Before Christmas

I seem to do this a lot. Slink off for months only to come back and apologize for being M.I.A. Lots of things have happened over the course of the last several months. I lost my Grandmother to cancer in October (more on that later). So, you could say 2020 wasn't anything like I expected or hoped it would be in way more ways than one! However, I think some of the hardships of this year have helped me embrace the Christmas season more and earlier than I normally would.

For one, I started Christmas shopping and planning clear back in August. This helped me get most of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. Though, for some reason, I still feel like I'm hustling to get things done as I type this. I also decided to put up the Christmas tree nearly two weeks before Thanksgiving (which never happens). Time flew so fast, though, and I'm probably going to keep it up till Valentine's Day. This is the year I never want Christmas to end, I guess.

This past week, I finished up wrapping the bulk of the gifts for the most part. I have always liked "brown paper packages tied up with strings," but this year I got a bit fancier and had a little embellishment on the brown paper. Then I just tied some twine around it and added a tag. I like simple, but I think they turned out beautiful. 

Over the past year, my business has also been booming which has led to getting some debts paid off. It's nice to be getting out of the deep, dark hole of debt finally. We're not all the way there yet, but getting closer by the month and that feels so much better than paying minimums and never making any headway. Though, that has also meant that I haven't had a whole week off of work over the last year. This past week I worked very hard to change that. I doubled down on work to sort of get a little step ahead and today is the first day of a full week off! I'm pretty excited about that!

Thursday night, we did our traditional "Serendipity Night". The movie "Serendipity" is one of our favorites and we watch it every year before Christmas. We also made some of the Serendipity frozen hot chocolates made popular in the movie. Last year D and I got to go and eat at the actual restaurant in New York and sat at the VIP table featured in the movie. It was a dream come true for both of us and helps make the tradition of this date night even more special considering we saw a lot of the places in the movie with our own two eyes.

D and I sitting at the same table that was featured in Serendipity.

Our recreation of the Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate

Friday and Saturday were spent getting chores done around the house and preparing for our Christmas Sunday Service. This year, D decided to have a super cute Christmas play on the Sunday before Christmas. It turned out so funny and cute and he did such a wonderful job creating the set. We had a great crowd (probably the best we've seen since COVID started) and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Even though masks were worn and physical distance honored, it felt so good to come together and celebrate Jesus' birthday together.

I can't say I know what is coming in the coming weeks or year. But, I do think that I can do much better documenting it so I can remember. While this year came with so many challenges, I do want to remember the blessings. This year created space and time in some ways (I sent Christmas cards for the first time in years)! I feel more organized. I feel more present. I'm hoping 2021 is less dramatic and full of chaos. I'm also hoping we can continue to steer clear of Covid (we have so far, praise the Lord). So here I am closing out the year and starting hopefully a new habit of journaling my way into another year.