Say what you want to about 2021 (I mean come on, we all know there’s a lot to say), but I’m just going to bid adieu to the year by saying this:
A lot was good this year. A lot was hard. There were mundane days, special days and every kind of day in between. I had some of my hardest moments and some thrilling ones. But all in all, as I reflect on it… my heart can’t help but swell with gratitude for another happy year lived.
I feel like I just got done with a marathon I didn’t even sign up for. There was a lot of good, a lot of frustrating, a lot of happy, a lot of bummers. I mean, that’s like every month, right? But this particular month just felt…more.
All five of us got covid and it was spread out between us just enough that it felt like we were in quarantine for years. We had two birthdays, both in quarantine, and I felt sad they couldn’t have the big family parties they’d planned, but luckily these birthday boys are resilient and find the goodness in everything, so they had a wonderful time nonetheless. Also, I still can’t even believe that my boys are six and four now!! We did a lot of reorganizing. We got out all of our Christmas stuff, and thats a lot of stuff and is a whole ordeal. My Christmas shopping is allllllllllmost done. I’ve had tremendous amounts of mom guilt. I’ve ate a tremendous amount of junk food and the gym has become a distant memory for me.
Like I said, it was a whirlwind.
But OHHHHHHH I am excited for December. The traditions. The smells. My birthday. The snow. The lights. The outfits. The jammies. The glitter. The family time. The excitement that hangs in the air. The service. The true meaning of Christmas. The closeness.
November did NOT start the way we assumed it would. Were we expecting anything big or special during the beginning of the month? No. But were we expecting what we did get? Also no.
On the third, Craig left to work, normal as ever. The day went on as usual, then when he got home around five, he looked and felt…not great. As he listed off the symptoms he had I grew more and more suspicious that he had Covid, because every symptom he had sounded like symptoms we always hear about in the media. Plus, that night I had commitments, we had appointments coming up and both boys were in school. We needed to know if we had someone who’d tested positive in our house so we didn’t go off and contaminate more people. So I made Craig test and wouldn’t you know it – positive. So then I had the boys and me test as well, honestly expecting them all to be negative.
Emmett and I were negative. But poor Harrison was positive, too. Telling Harrison he had to quarantine and couldn’t go to school for ten days was one of the harder things I’ve ever had to tell that sweet, school-loving, social boy. It was rough. That night he sat in my lap and cried (pictured below) and just told me how upset he was. Ugh.
But we made it work, and to the best of my abilities, I made life fun stuck at home. Craig got thrown into our extra bedroom/office and his parents brought him over a blowup mattress and there he stayed for 10 days – though it felt an awful lot like 10 years. We have two couches in our living room, I dubbed one the ‘Covid Couch,’ and the other the safe couch. Harrison stayed on his covid couch while Emmett, Flora and I occupied the other. Honestly, keeping a five year-old away from his little siblings/best friends is HARD and at times felt 100% impossible. But I did the best I could.
A few days later we noticed Emmett had a fever and right around that time, Flora had also become so mellow and needy. So, because why not, the three of us tested again. Again, I was negative, but this time Emmett and Flora were positive. So 4/5 out of us. Great. Awesome.
Speaking of ‘impossible to quarantine,’ did you know it, in fact, IS impossible to keep a mom quarantined from her three young children when their dad is isolated in a different area of the house? I couldn’t keep my distance from them, so basically I just hoped my vaccine would keep working its booty off and keeping me negative.
Thankfully, besides Craig, no one got sick-sick. Harrison never had symptoms. Emmett and Flora both had fevers on and off and were a little on the sleepier side, but that was it. All in all, we can’t really complain about that.
It didn’t surprise me then, when a few days later I tested out of curiosity and got a positive sign. I mean, I was trapped in a house with four positive people – three of which were my children under 5 who needed me. So was I shocked? No. But was I bummed? Yes. I really thought I was going to make it out of this without a positive sign. As for me, I still have a couple days left, and have been basically unscathed. I’m a little more tired than usual and occasionally have a mild sore throat. Not bad at all.
We have made this fun as we could. We set up some of our Christmas stuff, we’ve played, we’ve had some great chats. We made it ok.
Everyone is able to go back out in to the world now except for me. The boys were SO excited to go back too school. Craig was happy to leave the house for work. And I can’t wait to do the same in a few more days!!
I’m an OG Taylor fan. I still remember the first time I heard Teardrops on My Guitar and having my mind completely blown. My young teenage heart was so connected to her and I felt her words. Taylor and I are basically the same age (she’s almost exactly a year older than me) so I feel like I grew up with Taylor. She seemed to write things about not only what she was going through, but that I was also going through. We both tended to be a little dramatic and hopelessly romantic when it came to love, and when things went sour, we were both scorned and heartbroken. Her songs got me through so much. Oh man, my first break up? Taylor’s debut album was my saving grace. As her songs matured with her, I was right along side her, maturing and growing and feeling all these new things.
Then I got married and no longer have to deal with heartbreak and secret crushes and such, but like…her music takes me right back to how that all feels. Am I ashamed to say that sometimes I put myself in those heart wrenching situations in my mind, just so I can feel her music even more? No. I’m not ashamed. Thats how good she is.
Today she released her version of her album Red, which includes the long awaited ten minute version of All Too Well.
Honestly, Red hasn’t ever been my favorite album (thats not shade – its freaking amazing and I LOVE it, I’ve just connected to other ones more), but listening to these songs today…wowie! So. stinkin’. good. All these new songs are also just gutting me in the best possible way. I’m in love with all of it. I won’t lie, I’ve had an endless loop of Folklore and Evermore playing in my home lately (my two favorites, along with Speak Now), but this one is most certainly going to take the throne here for a while.
So, how about something absolutely no one asked for? My review!
My Review of Red (Taylor’s Version)!!
State of Grace: A classic. My husband really likes this song (yes, he’s a Swiftie), so it holds a soft spot in my heart. Loved it then, love it now.
Red. The vivid memories I have of singing this song in my bedroom are both cringe-y and incredible. This album originally came out like right before my wedding, so I didn’t entirely connect to the sad songs, but now that I’m listening again…oo. Too good.
Treacherous. I think this was my favorite song on the album for a good long time. She does such a beautiful job at explaining how love can feel. Gosh, I like it. “This hope is treacherous, this daydream is dangerous, this hope is treacherous.”
I Knew You Were Trouble. K don’t hate me, but this was never my favorite. I mean, do I know every word and do I sing it at the top of my lungs? Yes. So, I don’t know, maybe I love it. You tell me.
All Too Well. Alllllllll theeeeeeeee feeeeeeeeeels. Like, I’m in a very happy, committed relationship, but I hear this and want to go cry in the shower? She does SO good.
22. I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I’M FEELING 22!! Can I tell you happy I am this song came out before I turned 22 so it could be my theme song for a year? This is such a fun song. The line, “its miserable and magical at the same time,” is just like my forever motto. Thanks for this one, Tay.
I Almost Do. Another one that makes me feel like I’m going through a fresh, terrible break up. “I can’t say hello to you and risk another goodbye…” genius lyrics. The whole song is genius lyrics.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. So this song is about Harry Styles, right? Here’s the thing. I love him. So this song was always conflicting for me because I love them both. Truthfully, I didn’t love them together, but still.. I don’t know. I still feel mixed up and jumbled about this song, but that doesn’t mean its incredible and is another fun one to sing alone in the car on your way to get a Diet Coke.
Stay Stay Stay. Wait! I said Treacherous was my favorite.. I lied. THIS was. I love this one!! Like I said, this song came out right before I got married, but this was a great one to listen to as a newlywed and think of all the times Craig and I could have made a rash decision and changed our future. But he STAYED and look at us now! haha. Cheesy? Yes. But I don’t care. Taylor Swift brings that out in people.
The Last Time. I love when a man and woman sing together. Gary Lightbody also has a phenomenal voice. This song gives me chills. Its so desperate and beautifully haunting.
Holy Ground. Another one of Craig’s favorites. Its a happy, upbeat song. It feels like reminiscing and smiling. I just love the vibes this one gives.
Sad Beautiful Tragic. How convenient that she explains the whole mood of this song in the title.
The Lucky One. Why, when I used to listen to this, did I feel like a famous person and get vibes from Brittney Spears’ song, Lucky? Anyone else?
Everything Has Changed. A man and woman singing together again. And its Ed, so double hearts for that. This is a sweet little song thats just a feel good one.
Starlight. This song is like a fairytale. I just feel like frolicking through a field in a pretty, flowy dress to this song, anyone else with me? Its such a happy, airy song.
Begin Again. I reeeeally love this song. Its so hopeful and cautious. Like seriously. Go listen to it and tell me it doesn’t throw you into the scene and next thing you know you’re in a movie.
The Moment I Knew. Ah, this is goooooooood! Where was this song for a very particular breakup I had?! Also, I love that she talks about her red lipstick in this, because how can you not think of my BFF Taylor without thinking of her red lips? This song is great. I felt so much teenage heartbreak.
Come Back…Be Here. The chorus got me! Again, teenage heartbreak coming through strong.
Girl At Home. This was kind of fun. Putting guys and their wandering eyes in place, I like it. Its catchy, too! I totally found myself bobbing around while listening to this.
State of Grace (acoustic). This was really pretty!! I’m so into soft music playing while I do housework lately, and this will do perfectly for that playlist!
Ronan. This song is touching and beautiful, but guys, I can’t. I can’t listen to a song about my greatest fear as a mother. I will say, though, it is a song that really puts things into perspective and makes you think. Little Ronan sounded like a phenomenal little boy.
Better Man. This song is so awesome. Its one of those songs where I can see someone listening to it a few months after a break up and thinking about how much you miss someone but also thinking about how they just sucked.
Nothing New. “How can a person know everything at 18 an nothing at 22?” Cool line. This song felt deep and confusing. I enjoyed it.
Babe. Ok, the ‘promises, promises,’ part was my favorite. Just more teenage vibes here about asking a guy, “what the heck?” I really liked it. I feel like young Chelsea having boy problems would have really, really connected with this song.
Message In A Bottle. Yassss!!! This is my favorite, favorite kind of song!! A hopeless romantic dreaming about what-ifs! Those exciting moments at the beginning of a crush or relationship when you’re full of butterflies and joy. Eee, I love it. is this my favorite song from this album?!
I Bet You Think About Me. The country vibe in this was so fun, and I loved the cheeky attitude in it. This felt like debut Taylor Swift and I’m here for it.
Forever Winter. Oo, another frontrunner. I was transported to a rom-com while I listened to this song. It was sweet and had a cute message.
Run. Ed Sheeran is back! Running away with your lover -who doesn’t fantasize about that?
The Very First Night. I am flat out devastated that I didn’t have this song when I was a teenager. Me, a 30 year old woman, just got emotional listening to this because this is just soooo my kind of song. Holy, holy I love it. K, maybe this one is the favorite?
All Too Well (10 Minute Version). First off, do you think Jake Gyllenhaal listened to this? How do you think he’s doing with all of this? Ok, so I loved it. This was a story and I got lost it in. As I type this, the short film isn’t out yet, but you better bet I have a countdown going on my phone so I can watch the second its released. But oof, this was good. What a tale!
A Message From Taylor. Did I cry? Sure did. Her description of this album was incredible. She is amazing. Thanks for these 30 songs, Taylor.
I think we should focus on gratitude and showing thanksgiving throughout the whole year – but especially in November. I’m actually really loving this opportunity to talk to my boys about what gratitude really is and how we can show it and express it. One way we are doing that this year is by adding leafs to our Gratitude Tree, daily.
On Pinterest there were so many adorable ideas on how to document gratitude in your home throughout the month, but the one that resonated most with me was a tree. So, as best as I could, I copied a tree I liked, cut out some fall-colored leaves and voila! Not too hard.
I’ve been loving what the boys are adding. ‘Switch,’ ‘YouTube,’ ‘milkshakes..’ But thats just it! We can be grateful for so many things, and I love having my kids recognize that!
The other day Craig was gone overnight. I’m a natural worrier and being home alone with the kids all night quite literally terrifies me. But I did it. I survived it and I survived it quite well, if I do say so myself. I had very minimal panicking and finally watched Knives Out for the first time (liked a lot). All in all, it was a confidence boost I needed. Go me.
But I also learned something. Well actually, I was reminded of something.
I hate being alone with my own thoughts.
Like so much.
There was a short period of time after the kids had gone to bed and fallen asleep that I sat on the couch in silence. No phone. No tv. No noise. Complete silence and no distractions. I just sat there. Then, no surprise, the thoughts started coming in. My stupid thoughts that have a tendency of making good moments scary in seconds. I immediately started fearing the worst – bad things happening to Craig on his road trip, my kids health and happiness not being great… stuff like that. I tried to shift my thoughts, and it only worked for a few seconds before another flood of gross thoughts plagued my mind. I couldn’t shake them away. It felt like an attack. These thoughts felt intrusive and cruel.
I was brutally reminded why I never sit in the quiet with my thoughts. Like ever. I always have music on, or the chatter of my kids, or the tv, or a podcast, or something – anything that makes noise. Heck, I can’t even sleep at night without a fan blasting next to my bed because I’m comforted by its buzzing.
I, like every other mom, crave the quiet. I love the stillness and peacefulness of the quiet. But it never lasts for me. I only sit in the quiet for so long before I either turn noise on or distract my brain with my phone or something. Sometimes I try to embrace the quiet and write or read, but even that, I see, is distraction.
Its like I’m truly incapable of sitting alone with myself. I don’t know how to make it a pleasant experience. My brain makes it awful. So much so that I actively avoid situations that leave me in the silence with no form of distraction. Its kind of ridiculous if you think about it.
But this woke me up. I need to change this.
I haven’t been taking care of myself physically as much as I have been lately the last little while. I’m allowing myself to get too comfortable being constantly distracted. When I’m actively taking care of myself and being mindful of where my mind is at, I do better with these icky thoughts. But obviously lately that hasn’t been the case.
Its embarrassing to me. I hate that thats my reality.
So I’m going to make peace with my silence. The quiet isn’t going to scare me anymore. I can’t let it.
I’m starting with forcing myself to sit in these moments more. My theory is, if I sit in silence at least once a day, my brain will get trained to better fight off those thoughts, or at least not to dwell on them. I’m going to use a lot of prayer to help this journey out too, because I fully believe prayer helps and Heavenly Father is the greatest tool in helping one reach their goals.
But you better bet if I hear a thump somewhere in my house where I know no living thing is at – I’m turning back on all the noise!
-Oogie Boogie’s is a separate ticket event held in California Adventure every year around Halloween time
-Guests of all ages can dress up in their Halloween costumes (though its not required) and trick-or-treat throughout the park – all rides are open, too
-The park closes to other guests at 6pm (but you can enter at 3) and from then until 11pm, the park is all yours – there are special characters, photo ops, an amazing parade and other perks special to this event
-Villains Grove is a relatively new addition (and my very favorite thing ever) to this event and is absolute magic. Disneyland’s website says it best, “Explore Redwood Creek Challenge Trail like never before as the worlds of Maleficent, Scar and other Disney villains unfold via ethereal scenes replete with hauntingly beautiful color, sound, light and shadow.”
-Its 100% worth the money. Its a Disney experience unlike any other. Its sold out for this year, but if you’re tempted and you can make it work, you should definitely put the Oogie Boogie Bash on your bucket list
Ever get that feeling where you know there is so much you want to do and now you just need to figure out how to do it all? But you still have to be a mom and wife and take care of humans and other tasks, etc? Yeah, of course you have.. and thats me right now. Its exciting and exhausting.
But I have a question. Our recent trip to Disneyland has sparked a lot of this. I get asked a lot about Disney tricks and tips. So I like to blog my answers so when people ask, I can just send them a link instead of a 500 page text.
Is it ok that this blog is both a lifestyle blog and a Disney blog? Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I worry its not what people want. Sometimes I feel like this page is so messy and disorganized.
Also, you know the tabs at the top that I organize some of my posts into? I only have one that says Disney, and its getting a little full! So do I just make more tabs that are Disney-specific? Do I create a new blog all together just for Disney?