Saturday, January 16, 2021

Twenty-One Goals for 2021

I love goals and lists to check off. I am a planner. Last year was a hard year to be a planner. I suspect that this year is going to be as well. I came up with a few daily goals, a few long-term broad goals and  goals to improve our home. It is fine if I don't get through them all. I really treat them more as reminders. 

Daily Goals

  • Drink more water ~ I hope to drink a minimum of 40 ounces a day. So far, I have accomplished that most days.
  • Walk 800 miles by the end of the year ~ I have walked 10 miles so far this year. That is a slow start for me. Winter is hard. The best time for me to walk is when my daughter is in dance classes downtown at night. My city is not very safe to walk around at night. There are many desperate homeless people as well as strange people exhibiting mental problems, and there are very few stores open to pop into if I get nervous. I will start making more progress when it gets lighter in the evenings. We are also trying to take more family walks on the weekends. 
  • Take care of my skin ~ This should be an easy goal. I am mostly in the habit already of putting on sunscreen and lotion daily.
  • Read 12 Books ~ I enjoy books but never seem to prioritize them. I hope to accomplish that this year. I am currently reading The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. It is okay. I am not a huge fan, but it is an easy enough read and I am half way through. 
  • Convert the rest of my blog into book form ~ This goal will really depend on availability of money. Each book costs a bit over $100 and I am four  years behind right now. We will see how far I get.
  • Take photos for a Billion Graves ~ This combines my love of photography, doing service and graveyards.  
  • Learn to use my Dad's last professional camera that I received after his death ~ I need to buy the charger and I will be on my way.
Broad Long-Term Goals ~ I say broad goals because they are open ended. Each one has an ideal or dream plan versus a realistic plan.
  • Travel to a different city at Christmastime ~ I love visiting different cities at Christmastime. We have visited Washington, D.C., Knoxville, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina at Christmastime in the last few years. We didn't visit anywhere in 2020 for obvious reasons. 
  • No Buying Month ~ I do this most years in January or February. I am not sure when I will do this in 2021. I do buy the essentials such as groceries and gas. I just don't buy any extras. 
  • Visit a new-to-us state park ~ When my husband and I were thinking about travel this year, we just stated to nervously giggle. Who knows what is to come? It isn't looking like a fantastic year to travel at the moment. However, outdoor places are possibilities. There are state parks far and near that we have never seen. I am sure we can manage to visit one of them. 
  • Visit a new-to-us national park or site ~ We have a dream one in mind, but I suspect that a more reasonable one will be our destination.
  • Take an overnight or weekend trip with the family ~ or a week long trip ~ Ha! There are some destinations that are a short distance away that we have never seen. We shall see if they can happen. 
  • Do something new every month with the family ~ This could be as simple as a new game, new hike or takeout from a new-to-us restaurant. It also could be a totally new experience such a going on a horseback ride together (most of us know how to ride a tiny bit).
Goals for the House ~ These really depend on how much money and time I can invest into them. We made a huge amount of progress in 2020. We replaced the 1970's garage door, had tons of work done on our trees and I painted the stairwell, banister, all the woodwork in the boy's bathroom, and most of the ceilings in the house. When this pandemic is over, I think my kids are going to remember me as the mom with a paint brush in her hand
  • Paint the laundry room ~ This one is a huge undertaking and makes me want to faint just to think about it. However, I know it would vastly improve the place. It is very old and dirty cinderblock that has never been painted in some areas or in other areas was painted in a sickening green.
  • Replace two or three doors in the house ~ We really could use to replace six doors so I have lots of options. 
  • Declutter 365 items from our home ~ This will be an easy goal. I have already gotten rid of 31 items this year. 
  • Replace our bedroom curtains with shades ~ Our curtains are getting pretty worn. 
  • Paint the kitchen ceiling  
  • Paint the dining room ceiling  
  • Make rec room into a useful and comfortable space ~ We are actively working on this project now. It is an underused space and an overflow area in our home where lost items get dumped. It is also where we enter the home, and it is not the nicest space to see when you get home. We are turning it into a multi-purpose room with a sewing area, the model building area for my young men, a closet area and a cat corner with comfortable seating. The cats love to chase their toys around in the big empty space, and we find ourselves sitting on the cold floor while we watch them.
  • Paint the breakfast bar ~ Accomplished this week! CHECK!
Update ~ We got to adopt our foster cat this week. She is settling in well. She is getting along well with Salem and tentatively working out a friendship with Rosie. She is new to the concept of play and thinks that play is like a gentle waltz where you circle each other and kiss noses. Salem is still a kitten and thinks play is a full pro-wrestling event. It is a riot to watch them figure it out. The shelter folk said they really believe she was dumped in our neighborhood. She had caps on her nails (so she couldn't defend herself) and hadn't been spayed. Poor thing. She is recovering from her spay surgery and adding joy into our home. We named her Eve because she ran up to me on New Year's eve. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 8, 2021

A Week to Remember

I have sat here for 10 minutes wondering what to write. This week has left me speechless. It feels a little bit like September 11 all over again, except this time our own citizens are attacking. Our country is in so much peril. Our nation had an attempted coup. I have many friends and family that live and work in the shadow of the Capitol. Washington was my hometown as a child. The things they witnessed the rioters doing while they were just trying to do their jobs and get home safely is appalling. It boggles the mind. I don't know what kind of a country we are leaving our children -- if we leave them one at all. I do know one thing ~ we need to heal the division in our country. We owe it to our children. If we learn nothing else from this week, it should be that T***p is a divider and we need a unifier. Well, that is my opinion.

Besides All of that Crazy ~ The rest of our week was fine. We had a fondue night. Anne started her first college class. She is taking Art Appreciation online. We are staying home as much as possible while COVID-19 spreads like wildfire through our area. We had our second snow. Elijah started using the sewing machine. He is making some alterations to his costumes. 

We also had a surprise. I didn't mention her last week, because I thought we would find her family. However, on New Year's Eve this little lady met me at the door as I was coming home and proceeded to  walk into our house and hearts. She had no tags and was a very scared, thirsty and hungry little cat. We took her to a vet to learn that she also had no microchip. Now we have taken her to the Humane Society for tests, shots, and photos. We filled out foster parent paperwork. They have posted her photo on the Internet; and if no one claims her after a week, she will be ours! For now we are enjoying fostering her. She is making good progress with our other cats. I can't believe we have three now! 

Personal Goals ~ I am trying to drink more water (40 ounces a day) and walk 700 miles this year. 
Water goal ~ accomplished 5 days 
Walking goal ~ 4 miles for week one

May you all find peace in kindness in your days. 

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Staycation 2020 ~ The Week of Christmas


We had a lovely Christmas. Not only did we wake up to snow, but everyone got just what they wanted. Anne pretty much asked for socks, a Nutribullet (for her smoothies) and some stretching equipment. I think she was even more excited for my impulse buy of the 15 Days of The Nightmare Before Christmas Socks then she was for the socks she requested ~ lol. A little pleasant surprise here and there is always nice. 

Speaking of surprises. Elijah asked for a Steam gift card, a modeling kit and a watermelon. Yep, you heard me right. Okay, there is a story to this one. Every year since he was a little boy, he has begged me to tell him what he was getting for Christmas. I always told him that he was getting a watermelon. It just became a joke between us and a way for him to know that I wasn't going to continue this conversation... he would just have to wait. This year, he changed it up and asked for a watermelon on his Christmas list. He really couldn't think of much that he wanted. I decided to fulfill his wish and got him a watermelon. There was so much laughter when he opened it up and he proclaimed this the best Christmas ever. (I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the kids didn't ask for very much this year. It looked like there was lots under the tree because my gift wrapping girl extraordinaire [Anne] wrapped everything in sizable boxes; including socks, lotion, gift cards and bath bombs.)

Rosie's favorite gift was a catnip snowman.

We spent about an hour sledding on Christmas. That was so cool. Here are my three sweeties sharing one sled. 

My husband got in on the action, too.

My husband had the week off for Christmas this year. We decided to make it a socially distant staycation. We did some home projects and a few fun outings.

One of my Christmas gift's was getting this gallery wall put up. I collected all of the frames from thrift stores. I am glad to have many photos of our ancestors up on the wall.

We did confetti cannons for New Year's Eve. We also played games and watched online our fourth Nutcracker of the season. Yes...fourth. Each one was different and took a unique angle on the Nutcracker. It was fun to see dance companies for which we would not have been able to afford the in-person ticket price in normal years. Since they were live streamed or pre-recorded films, they were available for free or for a small fee for the link. I liked the UNCSA performance the best.

We decided to do take-out with our local ceramics shop. They have a cool program going on where you can pick out ceramics to paint at home. They let you pick about four colors per ceramic. Once they are painted, you return them to the store for firing in a kiln. It was lots of fun and honestly more relaxing to do at home, because we were not on a time crunch like you would be in the studio. We could come and go from the project if we wished. Elijah decided to put together one of his models instead of making a ceramic. He can't stand the feel of unglazed ceramics. His sensory issues make him feel that his skin is crawling when he touches them. 

These are ready to go back for firing in a kiln.

We went on our third drive-thru light show. This was the Shadrock show and was about an hour from our home. It was very modern and like a rock concert. The lights were synchronized to the music on our radio. It was pretty spectacular. However, I still liked the classic and beautiful lights at the arboretum  the best. 

We only managed one hike this week. I loved getting these photos of my lovelies. 

These two love their new scratching house. One of them always seems to be in it. 

We also got the regular version of the Catan game. We had the family version. It is just as much fun and keeping us entertained. 

Our daughter, Katie, turned 20 and was diagnosed with COVID this week. She is doing okay. She pretty much sleeps all the time. Hopefully, she will make a full recovery without incident. She does have some special needs (such as chronic anemia), but they aren't high risk factors that I hear about making COVID worse. 

I hope you all have a blessed 2021 and that we can start to heal as a nation.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Year in Review

It is that time of year again. Well, 2020, you were a rough year. That is for sure. We survived you. I daresay, we even thrived despite of you. Truth be told, our personal family has had worse years. This year has mostly taught us to count our blessings, walk more in faith and help those less fortunate than us even more. However, on the global front this has been the most difficult year I have seen our world live through. Here is my review of our year. Usually, I take the first two or so sentences and the first picture from the first post of each month. But, this is no ordinary year, and I felt like doing it a bit differently. I took a few sentences from the first post of each month and one of my favorite pictures from the month. That felt like a more accurate account of our year.

January We had our annual New Year's Day party last week. I thought I would share how we create a fun party for less than five dollars a person. 

~ We had a solid week around here. I love my teens! They are remarkable young people.

There are moments in life when we get to stretch and grow a great deal in a short amount of time. This is one of those weeks. We are so blessed.

Then the world stopped and we faced a pandemic and a year like few currently alive here in the USA have lived through before. I have heard people call it a dumpster fire year and a waste of a year, but I choose to look at the positives. Every day is precious, and we need to look for the positives if we are able.

April ~ We are doing amazingly well with this Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate. We are learning so much about ourselves.

~ The big news is that Dean turned 18 this week! We had planned on taking a short trip to celebrate his big day, but the pandemic put a stop to that.

June What a very hard season our nation is going through. My heart breaks for all who are oppressed and mistreated by those who are more powerful. Our country feels like it is being ripped at the seams. In what seems like another world, we finished our last week of school. Anne is done with 11th grade and Dean is graduating from high school today. 

~ It is Friday and Anne is finishing up her dance intensive with UNCSA. We are staying in for the holiday weekend and starting on our next house project. Like so many others, we plan to watch Hamilton on Disney+, eat great food, have our own fireworks display and do tons of yard work. The Covid-19 numbers are climbing around here, and we would just as soon not contribute to the pandemic by going into any tourist-driven crowds.

~ I have struggled with my attitude this week. I think it is mostly a result of hoping that we could go on a small overnight vacation next week. That will not be the case. COVID-19 gets worse and worse all the time.

September ~ I love Fall. I am so happy it is finally here. Our week passed without anything monumental happening on the home front.

Twice this week we awoke to gunshots outside. The first time it was a few blocks away. The second time it was on our street and some shell casings were found on our next door neighbor's lawn. You might think we live in the hood, but you would be wrong. In fact, prices are so high in our neighborhood, we couldn't afford to move here if we weren't already here.

November ~ I have been craving beauty and peace lately. I feel that we are planted on this earth to do good and find contentment in everyday life. I think this cat may have it all worked out ~ LOL!

December ~ I love Advent. It is my favorite time of year.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Advent Week 4

It was a lovely week filled with festivities and service. 

Saturday ~ Anne had the opportunity to dress up as Marie and attend a viewing of last year's performance of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King. It was shown at an outside venue in our area that has a large movie screen. It was exciting for her to see herself on the big screen. I sat in front of her and her best friend. It was a joy to hear their teen laughter as they laughed at themselves and their tiny mistakes that no one else could see. This event raised a good amount of money for the dance studio.

Anne in the center in the doll dance.

The Nutcracker and a Candy Dancer

Anne is in the center wearing a red cape.

Anne as Marie and JoJo as Fritz

Sunday ~ We celebrated Los Posadas with the breaking of a pinata. It was a great stress releaser to beat the pinata, and the kids loved getting a bit of candy.

Monday ~ We celebrated the Winter Solstice by feeding the birds in our yard. We spread an entire bag of seed in feeders and on the ground for them. We also went to the top of a parking garage downtown to see the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn, also known as the Christmas Star. It was beautiful and very cool to see something that hasn't been seen in 800 years. 

Tuesday ~ On Tuesday we made a bunch of homeless kits and put them in front of tents and on park benches downtown. The need is really great this year. We have always had a high population of homeless people due to our very high cost of living, but I have never seen so many downtown before. This town has its fair share of the working poor and they are really suffering right now. 

Wednesday ~ We enjoyed another drive-thru light show. This one had a more old fashioned vibe and was on a lake. The reflection of the lights on the lake was delightful. 

Thursday ~ Christmas Eve! We had hoped to celebrate Christmas with grandma (my mom) in the carport Christmas afternoon, but forecasters are predicting extremely cold weather and snow. We decided to postpone Christmas with her for a few days. However, I wanted to do something for her now. So we told her we were bringing her dinner with pizzazz. That translated into her favorite pizza with balloons and a confetti cannon attack. She sure was surprised!

We also had pizza and played our newest game, 13 Dead End Drive. It was great fun. Then we watched The Nutcracker followed by watching our church's Christmas Eve service online.

All the Rest ~  It was an art week around here. Elijah started creating flags for all of his friends to wear on their belts when Belegarth activities return. He cut them out of canvas, hemmed them by hand and painted them with acrylics. The first one is shown below.

Tim made me this beautiful beaded ornament. 

Anne entered a pointe shoe artwork contest at the local dance store and won first prize. She painted her pointe shoe with acrylics. The first prize was $200 worth of dance products. She loves the costume bag the best, which looks like a duffle bag and zips out flat with tons of pockets.

The prizes

It looks like we are going to have a white Christmas. A rare treat on Christmas here in the South. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Blessings, Dawn