December 31, 2020

Year 2020 In Review

It is again that time again! Time for the family year in review. This is definitely a year to remember--for all of us. I thought it would be important to record some of our experiences for when we look back. We made changes, some by choice...others forced upon us. We found ways that we could become closer and better. Some things we thought were important we realized were not and other things we took for granted and realized they were very important. 

Needless to say, 2020 has changed our lives forever. It is really hard for me to walk past Clorox wipes and not buy some! (Even when I know I have some downstairs)

Here are some of the changes during the year and how it impacted our family: 

Things we learned we could do without: 

- We learned that we could go without eating in a restaurant

- We learned we could work and do school without being in the same room

- An extra vehicle. With us all at home most of the day, my commuter car sits in the garage most of the time 

Things we learned were important: 

- Having a stock of toilet paper, flour, yeast, and disinfectant wipes. We have always done well with food and soap, but 2020 has taught me we need to always have toilet paper and disinfectant wipes available. 

- Knowing your neighbors well. So you know whom may need help and whom to ask for help when you need it. 

- Kindness. This year we have personally witnessed the best and the worst of humanity. Those that are willing to reach beyond themselves and give to others. And those that are rude, selfish and uncaring. Kindness is so important when we have these experiences. 

Changes we learned to love: 

- Lady Hiva has always wanted to have her master's degree but she was worried about the kids. But blessing in disguise, with COVID and me working from home, there is way more flexibility. We are both in the house (in different offices) and the kids can get help when they need it. It was quite a change to work from home, however, we have enjoyed being together more. The kids have learned protocol when we are in Zoom meetings. 

- Working from anywhere. Working remotely has made it possible to work from anywhere. In fact, we have spent 2.5 months of the year in Hawaii. I would just get up at 0300h and work until 1200h. Then we would hit the beach! The only change was all the wild chickens (some places have wild dogs or cats...Oahu has wild chickens) that make all kinds of noises in the background. That was such a blessing. 

- Teaching classes on Zoom. I was worried about the change from teaching in the classroom to teaching on Zoom. It was an abrupt change mid-semester. But after the initial shock it has become a great experience. It is different from in-class teaching. But I like that I can see the little Muggles between classes and on breaks. I also am home for "Come Follow Me" family scripture reading because my commute is from one room to the other instead of a 45 minute drive. 

- Legos and Playmobile. We have always loved Legos at our house, but this year they have become even more important. We would all take time to build Legos together. We also discovered we love Playmobile. The small detailed pieces make it so much fun to put together. Hours of entertainment. 

- Traveling during COVID was amazing because flights were nearly empty. It was depressing to see the empty airports and know it was evidence of the economic toll the pandemic was taking, but selfishly, it was great to have the place to ourselves. 

Changes we did not love so much:

- Cancelled trips. I was doing the new 2021 calendars and I saw all of the trips we had planned and then cancelled. There was a trip to Europe, two different trips to Disneyland, a trip to Disneyworld. It was also a change to travel during COVID. 

- COVID restrictions while traveling. Trying to keep masks on children sleeping on flights is not a fun experience. Hawaii--the only place we traveled--is nearly Nazi-ish in how they make you register, they send police to check in on you, and you have to check in everyday like we were criminals on parole. 

- Holidays were not so fun. 4th of July was cancelled. 24th of July was cancelled. Halloween was not as big as it usually is.(Thankfully we had plenty of neighbors that still participated) Thanksgiving was a funeral and Christmas was quiet.  

- Not seeing family and friends as much as we want to. It is interesting to see someone after we have been quarantined for awhile and it feels like they are a long lost person risen from the dead! 

-Waiting in line for groceries. Although I became VERY good at going to stores at the early hours of the morning and waiting in lines to get what we needed. Flour, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, I could find them all! It was only a matter of standing in line in the dark and cold to get it.

- Family Events were not traditional. Weddings, graduations, funerals, birthdays, holidays, they were all not the way we would have wanted them to be. Less people were there. Most of it was long-distance. We found new and creative ways to celebrate these life milestones. 

Changes that had both a positive and negative impact: 

- Masks. We love them-- We hate them. It was SO inconvenient to learn to wear them. I still have to go back to the car as I reach the door to the store and realize I do not have one. I also feel like a whole generation of kids is going to have ears that stick out due to masks! But we realized that we have not been sick at all this year. Lucky Dragon's school has been good about cleaning and wearing masks, so we have been spared illness. 

- Shopping for necessities. It was annoying to need something and not be able to find it. I realized when I found something we used, I bought two. I now will rotate and always have an extra flour, toilet paper, paper-towels and cleaning supplies on hand. But I cannot tell you the joy and satisfaction I feel when I have woken up early and been to stores and found that last jar of yeast or some Clorox wipes! I feel like I have somehow cheated the system and won! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! 

- Zoom. I wish that I would have bought stock in Zoom in 2019. I loved it then, but it has now become part of our lives. Even Koala Bear, at 3 years old, can run her own Zoom meeting. Lucky Dragon can do his French studies. Lady Hiva did her Masters. We had Church. I worked two jobs...all on Zoom. We still get to see those we love...not in person, but still get to see them. It has increased screen time, which we do not like. But it makes staying connected possible. 

- Church at home. We feel the Prophet was inspired in 2019 to roll-out the family gospel study program, "Come Follow Me." It provided a way to continue gospel learning in the home. While we missed seeing our congregation members, we learned to love the sweet conversations we had as we held church and scripture study in our home. We were able to build our testimonies of the Savior together, as a family. That may be the biggest blessing 2020 gave to us. 

Here is a monthly review: 


We celebrated Koala Bear's birthday and fasted with the world for the wildfires in Australia. We all thought it was horrible. Never knowing that was just the beginning. I was more sick than he has been in his life. The doctors said it was a virus--then they thought it was pneumonia. They could not figure it out. I am convinced it was COVID. But we just did not know what it was then. We cancelled a trip to Europe.


Our last normal month. We just did not know it. School was in session for all of us. The kids loved Valentines and giving love and cards to everyone they love. We ate at Indian food for Valentines dinner as a family. COVID becomes a thing in Europe and Asia. We are glad that we did not go on our trip. 


The March that changed us all. We had planned to go to Disneyland. We were set to go for Lady Hiva's birthday. It closed the week were supposed to be there. But we celebrated Lady Hiva anyway. Lucky Dragon joined me at RootsTech to work. This still is one of his favorite memories of the year. He keeps asking why we are not having it this year. Lucky Dragon started school from home. It was hard, but he kept up with his French. 


 April felt like it went on FOOOOREVVVERRR. We were trying to get used to masks and hoping this was still temporary. Little did we know. I built a pergola in the backyard to have something to do. We still did a fun Easter Egg hunt. 


Quit doing signs on the weekend! HALLELUJAH! Changed our lives. Tried to find ways to entertain ourselves COVID style. Went to Beaver with all of Lady Hiva's family. It was fun to let them experience country life. We sold Rocket because it was just sitting in the driveway. We then sold Mongoose (something Lucky Dragon will never forgive me for) and we welcomed Raven to the family. We did a Hawaii themed Paint Nite with the family. We celebrated Mother's day. 


I connived Lady Hiva into doing family photos. She hates them supposedly. But she looks so good, I am glad that we did it. Lady Hiva and the kids decorated the house like Disneyland for Father's day. Did a cupcake wars with the family.  


Celebrated 4th of July and 24th of July COVID style. We still tried to make it as fun as possible. We enjoyed the fireworks from our backyard. We also celebrated Lucky Dragon's birthday. We went to Lagoon after realizing that Disneyland did not open...again...sigh. We went over to Hawaii for 4 weeks. 


Finished our trip in Hawaii. It was amazing. The kids and I loved being at the beach and finding shells. Lady Hiva went back to Hawaii to help her parents. We missed her when she was gone. We were back at Lagoon twice this month with family. We have been more this year than any other year combined. We celebrated my birthday. 


Back to school for all of us. We were so glad that both Muggles went to school in person. They need to have the social aspect. We were also thankful that school did not shutdown. 


Halloween is always big at our house thanks to Lady Hiva. We went to Evermore for the first time. We tried to fill our days with Autumn walks and activities. Cornbelly's is open and we went as many times as possible. And...we went to Lagoon again. This time for Halloween. There were SO Many people there. I am not sure we would ever do that again!


We went back to Hawaii for another month. This time for Lady Hiva's last couple days. And then for the funeral. We focused on the funeral for 2 weeks and then we had fun! I went with the kids to the beach everyday! 


We left Hawaii with mixed emotions. We did not want to leave. But also were ready to see our own home. We had Christmas and tried to find ways to serve and make the holiday meaningful. This was the first year we allowed the kids to buy their gifts for others themselves. It was fun to see what was important to them and what they perceived was important to others. 

It was a memorable year. But we have so much to be thankful for. 

December 28, 2020

Christmas 2020 Style


Much like the rest of 2020, Christmas was a bit odd this year. We only put up 4 trees this year and we did not set out or Nativity sets from all over the world. So decoration wise Christmas was a bit simpler this year. Being gone all of November and part of December made it so the season was crammed with things to do. Not to mention Lady Hiva had finals and I had the end of the semester. 

We spent time cooking together and making several iterations of gingerbread houses. Some with cousins and some just home with us. I have never seen so many little kids become so competitive as they were over gingerbread houses. Not to mention they were all hopped up on more sugar than I have seen on one table at anytime!

Koala Bear is becoming quite the baker. She loves to measure out all the ingredients and mix. She especially loves when she and her mum both wear an apron. 

We tried Chocolate bombs for the first time at Kade and Val's. 

We made homemade taffy with Kell and taught everyone how to "pull taffy." I think I may have burned off a layer of skin doing it! 

We hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries for neighbors. It was funny to watch the two Muggles deliver them. They had to be reminded over and over they needed to wear shoes (and slippers don't count). They were in Hawaii too long! haha

All dressed up in her new Christmas dress! 

There was plenty of fort building during the holiday weeks too! There were versions in Don Gurt's room, the master bedroom, the living room, their bedrooms and any other space they could find. 

These forts often had a line of stuffed animals "snuggled in their blanket."

We loved the Christmas lights. There seemed to be more people with lights this year on their homes. We drove around to see them and then did a trip to Spanish Fork to drive through the Festival of Lights. 

We had some delicious food! We ate Mexican food, Italian food, and Japanese Food (or as Koala Bear says, "Ninja Food." It was all delicious! I love that our two children can appreciate food from all cultures. It is good food and WAY better than fast food. 

We had Ginger's Sour Dough pancakes twice during the holiday--including Christmas morning. She gave us a start for Christmas (one that is over 150 years old) and that was one of our favorite gifts! 

It was so much fun to go shopping. We all agreed that this year we would have 3 gifts each. One from each other. It was so much fun to go shopping with these two Muggles while Lady Hiva studied. They were so thoughtful with their gifts. 

The bookstore is always a win for anyone in our family! I think this Christmas we kept Barnes and Noble in business! 

Lucky Dragon was so excited to see the "Hula Gudetama" and his sister noticed. She chose that to give him for Christmas. 

The kids were so excited that Sister Remund sewed them some new pillowcases. They love sleeping with the pillowcases that she made them for Halloween and Christmas. so now they can use these for their birthdays too!

Keeping with our annual tradition, we went and bought coats for people in need. I love that we can find time to help the kids understand that they are blessed and we can serve others that are not as fortunate. 

We did virtual Christmas parties for work. I loved that our kids could join in. They loved the games and messages from Church leaders. Koala Bear helped me with my virtual craft that was started by our team. 

We drove down to Beaver and brought some puppies back for people that are buying them in Salt Lake. It was fun for the kids...but 4 whining puppies away from their mum for the first time were WAY TOO much! It was fun to have a puppy for a few days. Koala Bear was so sad when the families came to pick them up. She did not understand why they were leaving and why they would not come back. Maybe some day Lady Hiva will allow us to get a dog...someday. 

Christmas day was fun! I actually love Christmas Eve more, but both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are amazing. The kids were so excited. We ate at a great Italian restaurant for Christmas Eve and then we read Christmas stories until we were tired. It was fun to read about the Savior and discuss the true meaning of Christmas. In the morning we watched the Luke 2 story and read Luke 2 as we acted it out. It was fun to do that with them. We reviewed all we did this season to serve and help others. Lady Hiva and I wanted them to know we are so blessed and need to be thankful. 

They hung up the stockings and helped get cookies and carrots ready for "Santa."

All week the house smelled like Wassel thanks to some amazing neighbors. That was mixed with a cooking ham or baking rolls. 

This was our baby Jesus (aka Bingo) and our gifts of gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  
Christmas Dinner was just us and it was amazing. We ate good food and were able to have great conversations. 
We played several board games. We played with cousins, we played together, we had fun. We learned to love Cover Your Assets, Cover Your Kingdom, Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, Sequence, Jenga, Candy Land...and many more

When we were in Hawaii she saw a Snoopy plush and a book. She has been talking about it since (I thought she would change her mind). But she didn't. Her brother came through and got her Snoopy. She LOVED it. They both were so thoughtful about what they bought each other. Later they both talked about their favorite gifts were the ones given to each other. 

Christmas added to his Gudetama collection. Little did we know three years ago when we bought one at Target for fun that it would become a "thing."