Posted in Everyday Life

2020: Year in Review

Hello and Happy January 1st! 1/1/21! Can you believe it?

Who knew when we started 2020, that after only a few months in, we’d be in the midst of a worldwide pandemic?

Just when I think I could sum up 2020 with “it sucked,” I scroll through my photos and blog posts and see that our normal experiences like holidays, sports, and vacations looked different, but they mostly still happened. Also, we took the time to cherish the small things like going for family bike rides, watching movies, and reading books. We adjusted. (PIVOT!) What choice did we have?

We had some…

highs: We were forced to slow down, spend quality time with family, and simplify our lives.

There were also some…

lows: We missed family. We couldn’t have traditions and holidays like normal. We had to be careful and think about every decision. We lived in fear of the virus.

I still decided to go ahead an recap this year because I do want to be able to look back on it and remember ups and downs of it all. And, as my blogging friend Amy said, “Reflection helps with gratitude.” I love that. I am so very grateful for my family, our health, and this time together.

That being said…Warning: lots of photos coming your way! Apparently, my love language is pictures! 😂

January:

In January, we kicked off the year with my 40th birthday!

Travis threw a surprise party for me. It was so much fun.

A few days later, Hadley and I had the flu…and it kicked my tail! I missed a week of school.

The kids had fun playing basketball!

February:

In February, Travis and Hadley went to the father/daughter dance with some friends.

We went snow tubing with friends which is something we do every February.

The kids had a snow day.

We all enjoyed Hadley’s performance in the school musical.

Our Chiefs won the Super Bowl!

March:

In March, I went with Hadley and her troop on an overnight field trip in a museum.

My dad visited right as we learned school would be moving to virtual learning.

The world officially shut down. We started spending lots of time at home baking, crafting, having fun with sidewalk chalk, reading, and bingeing Netflix.

We came together as a community, as a state, and as a country.

April:

In April, we celebrated Easter at home.

We went on lots of family bike rides.

We updated our sun room.

We admired sidewalk chalk artwork in the neighborhood.

May:

In May, we celebrated Mother’s Day.

The kids had good old fashion fun with the Slip n Slide.

We ate out for the first time in a couple of months at The Stave.

The kids wrapped up 4th grade with virtual learning.

June:

In June, we headed to Florida for a week.

Thankfully, the beach was perfect for social distancing.

I felt rejuvenated by the beach sunsets.

Once we returned home, I sought out some outdoor activities for us to do to to fill our summer days.

We picked strawberries,

and visited the Cincinnati Zoo.

Baseball started back for Hayden.

We celebrated Father’s Day with Travis.

Then, Travis and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.

July:

In July, we celebrated the 4th of July.

We went canoeing with friends.

We celebrated Trav’s birthday.

The kids and Homer enjoyed pool time (I did too!)

We went to Kansas City to see family.

August:

Hayden and Travis played a few rounds of golf during the summer.

As a family, we went on a hike.

Then, school started back virtually. We started the year off with our tradition Back to School Breakfast.

First day of virtual school…

at the pod…

Hadley had her dance recital with no audience. We we received the DVD of the performances a couple months later.

September:

In September, online school continued, we got in the 2020 school groove knowing this may be our reality for quite some time.

Oaks and Derby were finally celebrated over Labor Day weekend with very few fans in attendance which broke a piece of Trav’s heart.

Thankfully, cross country was able to start for the kids with Travis as their coach.

Hayden was able to play fall baseball.

October:

In October, we traveled to Asheville, NC for fall break.

The perfect place to hike and eat outside.

Hadley started playing the flute.

Hayden got braces.

Per tradition, we visited the pumpkin patch.

I took the time to make myself a priority and had my total hysterectomy with an overnight stay at the hospital.

The kids were an M &M, and Patrick Mahomes for Halloween.

November:

In November, we enjoyed the beautiful fall leaves and mild weather.

The kids turned 11!

My runners wrapped up their elementary cross country season.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother and his family.

December:

In December, my mom visited and we baked cookies.

The kids were able to visit Santa.

As a family, we continued traditions like decorating a gingerbread house and seeing lights at the horse park.

Mustard Seed Hill was a new outdoor holiday activity for us.

We took Christmas card photos…

and sent those cards out later than usual…

We celebrated Christmas Eve at home after watching church service online,

and woke up to a white Christmas.

We’ve spent the last week of the year with family, moving at a slow pace, enjoying a few more days of the twinkle of the tree lights, and preparing for the new year.

Final 2020 Thoughts:

While this year has been filled with stress and uncertainty, I still feel very blessed. I never knew how much we needed to slow down until we were forced to do so. I treasure the time with my family and the slower pace.

Of course, all these pictures remind me that there were times that we were still busy even in the midst of “the great pause,” but kids keep you busy. We were blessed that they were able to be safe while doing their activities. We never would have gone on vacation if we didn’t have a family house to stay in. We adjusted our thinking and allowed the kids to go to a pod a couple days a week to maximize their virtual learning experience, and more.

These photos literally are snapshots of reality. At sporting events, there should have been family members besides immediate ones in attendance. Hand sanitizer doesn’t belong at the beach. Holiday decisions shouldn’t be stressful ones (or more stressful than usual 😉) The list goes on and on…and on.

I feel like in 2020, no decision was made without my over-thinking it…😅

Honestly, though, that has taken its toll on me. I, at times, have felt mentally and emotionally exhausted.

This year has been one to remember. It’s brought times of stress, worry, and sadness. There have been times of uncertainty and times of strength. I hope that 2021 can bring us a sense of peace…and relief. I know we are all ready for a fresh start which is exactly what the new year always brings.

2020 is also the first full year I’ve had this blog. I continue to be grateful for this community.

Weekly Recap:

In case you missed a post this week:

Happy New Year and prayers for a blessed (and less stressful!) 2021!

Take care,

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Home Decor

Friday Favorites {#48}: Holiday Home Tour

Hey, hey! We made it to Friday. We’ve had a pretty good week around here, and we are counting down the days until Winter Break! It’s right around the corner, so we’ll just keep chugging right along until break arrives.

Of course, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post.

One of my favorite things to do for the holidays is decorate. Even before my blog, I would always take photos of where I put decorations to make the process as easy as possible. The weekend after Thanksgiving is when I do most of my decorating, and it’s typically a one (wo)man job…until I can’t carry something or need Travis to hang the garland. 😉

I saw this meme recently, and, of course, it fits today’s blog topic.

While 90% of my decorations have been used through the years, I do move things around and often can’t help myself from buying a new item or two along the way. #michaelsiswhereitsat

Here’s a little tour around our home:

Kitchen:

My kitchen buffet stayed pretty much the same, but I added fresh garland to the top for about a week.

I figured it wouldn’t last long with Homer. He did pull it down a couple of times, but thankfully, he didn’t destroy it.

I love the Christmas dishes that I display this time of the year.

In the cabinet near the buffet, I added in some trees I’ve collected over the years and a cinnamon scented candle. I actually made the burlap trees a few years ago.

Our fire place and mantle remain the same, but I did buy new garland. What I’ve had for the past few years is extra bulky, and I just wanted a more seamless look. Hadley pointed out that the red and the green of the garland match our stockings perfectly. My previous garland was pre-lit, but I had to add lights to this new garland.

I used some extra greenery on our table centerpiece.

I definitely do the love traditional red and green Christmas decor.

This view is definitely a favorite.

One of my friends painted this pallet a few years ago, and it’s one of my favorite holiday pieces.

Office Area:

In the first few years in this house, we never really knew where to put the tree. Once we made this space the office rather than the dining room, the tree fit perfectly in here. I like that you can see the glow of the tree lights from the kitchen and the living room as well as from the street when the shutters are open.

I always put out the picture of the kids under the tree for their first Christmas. They were a month old (and a few days) old on Christmas 2009.

Front Hall:

I kept the front hall the same as years past with the light up tree, Christmas card holder, snowman tea light, and Merry and Bright sign.

I love Bath and Body Works and always have a few candles to burn like the peppermint one on this entry table.

Living Room:

The tall Santa was a Home Goods find a few years ago. I kept it simple on the coffee table with the flocked tree and candle. The light up present provides the perfect glow in the morning and night. I added a lantern and Merry Christmas canvas to my regular decor on my antique chest.

I always keep my cream pillows out and add seasonal pillows for fall and Christmas.

Outside:

This is the first year we’ve put garland out front. I’ve mentioned previously that I was on the hunt for some artificial garland, but never really found any I liked. Then, I saw the real garland at Trader Joe’s and thought I’d give it a try. Travis was kind enough to hang it for me. Now, I have no clue how long it will last, but after a week, it still is looking good. I’ve sprayed it with water a few times. I have no clue if that’s what I’m supposed to do, but that’s what I’ve been doing!

I’ve had the lanterns and poinsettias for years. My cute stocking door hanger was painted by a local Lexington small business. It’s perfectly festive and, again, I love the traditional red and green.

The Rudolph pillow covers are from Etsy, and I’ve had them for years. The trees in the planters light up, and the Merry Christmas garden flag is the final touch outside.

When the garland on the kitchen buffet was starting to look tired, I sprayed it with water and then put little pieces of it in the outside planters.

Sun room:

I’ve shared this room already as it was the first room I decorated for the season. Until this past spring (#thanksquarantine), we didn’t really use the sun room that often. This year, I thought I’d go ahead and decorate it since we are out here so much now. The pillow covers are new (from Amazon) and the basket wreath is a new find from TJ Maxx this year. We’ve had the tree for years as it’s the one we used for a few years before starting to get a real tree for the living room/office area.

I added a few little trees to the tray that’s always on this table, and I burn the Bath and Body Works Winter scented candle when hanging out in the sun room.

A few other faves:

Dinners this week:

It’s no secret that I use Shay’s cookbooks (especially Simmers) quite frequently for meal ideas. Well, last week, she posted about 24 Crazy Easy December Dinners, and I used it as my guide for meals this week. This week, we’ve eaten: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Beefy Mushroom Pasta, Cheesy Ranch Tacos, and King Ranch Joes. (I don’t think KRJ were listed in that post, but here’s the recipe.) This one post was a life saver for me. We eat the soup and KRJs pretty often, but the pasta and tacos were new recipes for me to make. We all loved them.

The Outsiders

A neighbor had a few books in her garage to give away. One of the books I brought home was The Outsiders which piqued Hayden’s interest. He started reading it Monday night at bedtime and then was telling me all about it Tuesday evening. I stopped him, mid-summary, because I was shocked he’d already read the entire book. Hadley then said that he was reading some during the day while listening to his teacher on Zoom. Anyway, he loved the book so much. With his summary of the stabbing and teenagers smoking and drinking, I was reminded why this is a classic middle school book! haha

He deemed this the second best book he’s ever read. Hatchet was recommended by my mom and still his fave.

I hope he always loves reading as much as he does now.

Then, Wednesday night, he begged us to watch the movie. Travis and I watched it with him. He really liked it, but said the book was better. A friend of mine shared a @historic_imagery post with me on Instagram. I never knew that Francis Ford Coppola hadn’t planned on making the movie but then did so after receiving a letter from a librarian as well as over 100 of her seventh and eighth graders in Fresno, CA. They also share that fact in the credits of the movie.

Southern Lights:

Our Southern Lights Horse Park tradition continued this week. We drove through the park on Tuesday night, and loved seeing the upgraded and updated displays. They had the usual displays, but had also added other lights and features. Also, Santa was sitting outside the North Pole waving at the cars. Usually, Santa is inside the pavilion.

Classic Kentucky lights with the horses, Wildcat basketball player, and Keeneland.

Winter Drive-Thru:

The kids’ school had a Winter Drive Thru this week where they handed out fun packs and free books (as well as supplies for the beginning of second semester).

There was a line around the school, and it was so wonderful to see the teachers outside, waving, and so excited to see their students. Teachers and staff were dressed as Elsa, Rudolph, elves, and Santa! To see the hustle and bustle at school as well as the staff and teachers literally brought tears to my eyes. I hope my kids are able to go back to school sooner rather than later.

Books, games and hot chocolate!

Trader Joe’s Snack Mix

It’s the time of the year for Trader Joe’s to have my favorite snack mix. I found out the hard way a couple years ago when I was looking for it in January that it’s seasonal.

Some people are hoarding toilet paper again, and I left TJ with six cans of this mix! Delish!

Favorite Mom Meme:

Y’all, I feel this deeply.

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

Facebook memories from 2017 provided this gem. I love this picture from Trav’s work holiday party. It didn’t really dawn on me until seeing this that we are missing out on some fun during this season. There’s always the work party, a neighborhood party as well as a party with some of our friends. Hopefully, those traditions will be back in 2021. Sometimes I do miss the normal chaos that the holidays bring.

And for fun….here’s a 1980’s flashback for you…it’s a classic!

Weekly Recap:

Here are my posts for this week! We sure have been busy!

Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Posted in Holidays, Let's look

Let’s Look: Holiday Cards

It’s Let’s Look Wednesday! This is a fun link up with Shay and Erika where you get a little peek at a certain topic.

In 2020, we’ve looked at:

  • January: your bedside table
  • February: your winter wardrobe
  • March: what’s inside your purse
  • April: Easter at your house
  • May: your weekend
  • June: what’s in your carry on bag
  • July: your summer wardrobe
  • August: your desk
  • September: your school pics
  • October: how you pumpkin
  • November: your holiday menu

Fun fact: My January Let’s Look post was (I think) my top viewed post of the year. Almost 700 people apparently wanted to check out my bedside table! 😀

This month’s topic is Let’s Look: holiday cards.

Well, my holiday cards haven’t arrived just yet, so I thought I’d share our holiday cards through the years.

Travis and I had some form of Christmas card off and on before we had kids, but once the kids were born, I did a better job of taking and saving photos, cards, and other momentos.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

2009:

The kids were barely a month old by the time Christmas rolled around in 2009. So, we combined a Christmas card with their birth announcement. I still have this Christmas storage box, and it sits under the tree each year until I start putting wrapped presents under the tree.

2010:

Well, here are the kids are in 2010, and they barely fit in the Christmas storage box anymore!

They also refused to sit still for the Christmas card photo! I literally remember sweating as I would get one situated, back away to take the photo, and then the other would move! 😅

I couldn’t find the card, but I know we used those pics!

2011:

In 2011, I put them in a laundry basket to sit still for the photo! 😂

Hadley’s signature move at that age was giving all the hugs…in a very “you have no choice but to hug me” way!

We included our dogs, Shiloh and Scout, in the card that year!

2012:

My brother got married in the fall of 2012 which provided the perfect opportunity for some memorable photos. Again, Shiloh and Scout made the cut again to be included on the card and the kids continued to make use of the Christmas storages boxes.

2013:

The card for 2013 was definitely a Pinterest idea, and it wasn’t a fail. I love this pic of Hayden and Hadley. So little and cozy in their jammies.

2014:

Again, for some reason, I can’t find our 2014 Christmas card, but my brother used his fancy camera to take these photos. This was our first Christmas in our current house.

I still have these individual photos framed, and they are in our gallery wall in our kitchen.

So sweet.

2015:

For the 2015 Christmas card, my brother took these photos as well. I remember it was pretty mild weather around Thanksgiving time, so I asked him to take a few photos of the kids.

They turned out so precious…

and the back of the card shows Hadley’s personality perfectly! 😂

2016:

This is another favorite card of mine that we shared with family and friends. You can’t tell from the photo, but Hayden was playing football with friends a few minutes before picture time and ended up with a busted lip! Of course he did! I made sure when I took the photo not to zoom in!

2017:

My brother helped me by taking these photos as well. Man oh man, I remember the kids acting ridiculous while he took some of these photos….especially Hayden. I had to be thankful for whatever good ones he got!

2018:

For fall break 2018, we went to South Carolina. One night before dinner, I told the kids I wanted to take their pictures by the water at sunset. Well, I ended up asking someone to take our family photo, and I couldn’t believe how great it was.

Once December rolled around, I was so happy to have a perfect family photo from one of our favorite places.

And, again, Hayden fell victim to Hadley’s silly and sassy personality…Hadley throwing up the peace sign behind him, and he had no clue.

2019:

The kids didn’t fight me on wearing nice clothes for the 2019 photo if we could bring Homer along for the photo. Well, this time, Homer stole the show! We got a great pic with him and the kids.

Even with Homer, this was one of our easiest photo sessions to date. I snapped a few photos with my phone, and that was all we needed.

2020:

As I previously mentioned, my 2020 cards haven’t arrived yet. I took a few photos of the kids the Friday after Thanksgiving…

…and Homer was invited back again for the photo sesh.

The Henry Clay Estate provided for the perfect place (with perfect weather that day) to take a few pics of the kids for this year’s card.

I can’t get over how big they are getting!

Until this post, I hadn’t realized how many times I’d asked my brother to take the kids’ photos. I should really get him a gift card or something!

Ironically, Trav’s brother is a professional sports photographer, but I don’t want to bug him like I bug my brother!

It’s that time of the year when the “picture perfect” cards start to roll in. Of course, I try to find the most perfect picture too, but I like to include an outtake or two on the back!

Behind every “perfect” photo, there’s usually a stressed out mom handing out bribes for the photo 😂 I’m forever trying to keep it real around here!

When my 2020 cards arrive, I will definitely share those closer to Christmas. I really do love giving and receiving cards. I’d say with all that’s gone on in 2020, I will appreciate receiving those cards more than in previous years. I hope sending Christmas cards is a tradition that never fades.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts as well!

Thanks so much for reading.