Sunday Morning 12/27/2020: Looking Forward

The only sunset we had all week was on Thursday, and it was lovely.

Good morning – it’s the last Sunday in 2020! Aloha kakahiaka!

The annus horribilis that has been 2020 will end this week. I don’t think I’ve ever been through a year that has been as miserable, and taken as long to get through as this one. Although it has contained 366 days like every other leap year, the days have seemingly dragged on, which is saying something as time usually seems to go by too quickly for me. The year has taken us on a wild ride, to say the least, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but I’m feeling hopeful for better things happening next year, although I think it’s going to take a while for many of those to manifest themselves. Most of all I am hoping for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, or at least getting it under control where “normal” life can resume, and the endless deaths can end. I don’t believe we’re ever going to return to how things were in 2019 – that world is gone – but I’m feeling more positive about a new normal that will hopefully be the result of what we’ve been through.

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas celebration at Chez Aloha. The weather was stormy and cold outside, but we all slept in, enjoyed hot cocoa and coffee when we got up and watched YaYu open her “stocking” – actually a Foodland reusable shopping bag filled with treats from Hawaii that she can both enjoy here or take back to school with her. Then it was time for brunch: smoked salmon, fresh berries, and warm scones that YaYu made for us (half plain, half with chocolate chips) along with some Monkeypod lilikoi curd and orange-chocolate sauce. Brett made each of us a POG mimosa as well. Gift opening came next and was fun because everyone got things from their list this year. Brett got four much-needed t-shirts (he had been down to three), including a gorgeous one that WenYu designed and printed for him. I got items for our 2022 walk (water bottle, trekking poles, and merino wool socks) along with some custom handmade stickers from WenYu celebrating our Big Adventure. I think YaYu was the most surprised though – Meiling gave her a pair of Apple AirPods, her dream gift, something she had put them on her list as a joke. She also got cash and gift cards from the rest of us as she needs new clothes and shoes, but will shop for those when she gets back to school. After the gift opening we had a Zoom gathering of the clan that lasted for a couple of hours. Even though it was virtual, I absolutely loved having all my kids together for a little while.

YaYu learned this past week that Bryn Mawr now won’t be reopening until mid-February, which made me exceedingly glad I hadn’t bought her return ticket yet. No one is sure what that means for how the rest of the year there will go, but the school is determined to keep everyone safe. Brett will be traveling over to Oahu for a medical appointment next month (a day trip), and I’m hoping to be able to use the two flight credits I now have from Hawaiian and Southwest to get him there and back. I’m not sure right now if they have to be used for YaYu or whether I can use them on any ticket – that’s one of next week’s projects. We also have to figure out whether he’ll have to quarantine or not following that trip.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m a little over a quarter of the way through The Woman in White. It’s a dense, detailed book, and wading through the mid-19th century language takes a bit more work than usual. Still, the story moves along, and it continues to be interesting, both the story and the way the book is put together.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a quiet morning here after two days of rain, wind, cold, etc. – yesterday was pretty wild, in fact. Today there’s thankfully a nice breeze outside blowing through the trees, and I can see big patches of blue sky. Brett is putting away last night’s dishes and fixing coffee in the kitchen, and YaYu is quietly doing something on her phone so it’s quiet inside as well – a very nice morning!
  • Watching: We finished watching Schitt’s Creek last night and are already feeling sad that it’s over. I’m not sure there’s anything that can top it – we’ve loved every episode. Brett and I also finished the very weird and creepy Black Spot last night, and we plan to start watching Bridgerton tonight and probably a second show if we can make up our minds.
  • Cooking/baking: There are currently no beans in the house, so tonight we’re having coconut chicken curry with mango over jasmine rice. We’ll be going food shopping on Thursday, but before that we’ll be cleaning out the freezer and pantry as much as possible and cooking with what we have on hand. Dinners this week will include homemade chicken soup with rice and vegetables; spaghetti carbonara (for New Year’s); farmers’ market pasta (we froze half of what I made earlier this month); hamburgers; Guadalajara quesadillas; mini pizzas; and probably breakfast for dinner one night. We will finish up the Bacardi rum cake on Tuesday (we had mango pie the past three days – it was amazing), and I plan to make a lemon cake next, but I got some Kauai Kookies as a gift (cornflake crunch, my favorite), so I want to purchase some Kozy Shack rice and tapioca puddings this week and have those along with a cookie for our dessert for a couple of days in between cakes. I like Kozy Shack’s products because they use real ingredients and no preservatives.

Our Christmas Eve walk was tiring but beautiful . . .

While Christmas Day and the day after were stormy and miserable.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I managed to walk every day this past week except for yesterday when it was stormy and wet all day. We got rained out on Christmas Day too after just one lap, although after our Christmas Eve walk one lap was almost fine with me. On the 24th, Brett suggested we walk the golf course route backwards, which sounded nice but turned out to be something we should have saved for later this year. The backwards route turned out to be uphill the entire way, and by the time we walked around to the club house, about 2/3 of the way through of our walk, we were both exhausted. It was only a very gradual climb, but after nearly 40 minutes it it was very tiring. To make up for the lack of walking on Christmas Day I did 25 minutes of Zumba dancing with YaYu, and again yesterday. Oh, to be 20 again! Thursday was rough but I got through the whole routine yesterday. At least I now know what I can do on the days we can’t get out and walk.
  • Looking forward to next week: Next Friday we will finally be done with 2020 – YEAH! We’re going to celebrate quietly with a cocktail and a special dinner on New Year’s Eve (YaYu’s yummy spaghetti carbonara) and spend a quiet day on Friday. Brett and I have ambitious goals for the coming year though, and I am looking forward to getting started on them on Friday – I’m making up a new set of activity cards this week with everything I want/need to do each day. 2021 is not going to start of easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I honestly believe we (the U.S.) are finally going to turn a corner this coming year and start healing.
    Finally feel fit enough to wear these leggings.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Getting to talk with all our children on Christmas Day via Zoom was pretty wonderful for Brett and I, the next best thing to being together. 2) I had pretty much forgotten most of what I put on my Christmas list this year, so every gift was a delightful surprise in some way. 3) I loved seeing Brett’s and YaYu’s reactions as they opened their gifts – it was a lovely, thought-filled morning, and our other children were very happy with their gifts as well. 4) Thanks to the J. Jill gift card I received from Meiling, I ordered a pair of patterned performance leggings to put away for our walking trip in 2021 (they have pockets!). I almost didn’t get them as they were sold out the day after Christmas, but I had put a pair in my shopping cart on Christmas so had a pair reserved for me and they are coming! 5) I have lost enough weight and toned up enough this past year that I finally feel comfortable wearing patterned leggings, a big step for me.
    We had a simple, “rustic,” but very, very nice Christmas this year.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We did not spend any money on wrapping paper this year, and instead got creative and used what we had on hand which didn’t diminish any of the joy we received from our gifts. 2) We put $3 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week, leftover from our trip to the farmers’ market. 3) Other than picking up a few things at the farmers’ market, it was otherwise a no-spend week for us. We’re going to try this year is to have at least one no-spend week per month (other than the farmers’ market), and we’re also hoping to put more into the change/$1 bill jar this year by spending a little bit less when we go shopping. 4) There were lots of leftovers generated this past week, but we have kept up with them and didn’t have to throw away anything. 5) I cut back my time on Swagbucks this past week, but still managed to make my daily goal and earned 1,201 to start off my earnings for 2021. 6) We cancelled two TV streaming subscriptions (Britbox and Showtime) – a savings of $18/month. It’s not a lot but it all adds up. 
  • Grateful for: As we end 2020 we’re feeling especially thankful for our simple life on Kaua’i. The island has been a safe haven for us this year, and in spite of all the expense of getting settled again, we know the ropes for living frugally here and are looking forward to a good year in 2021.
  • Bonus question: What’s one good thing that happened for you in 2021? Even though 2020 has been horrible in so many ways, the year hasn’t been all bad, and the best thing that happened for us was coming back to Kaua’i and finding our apartment. Our short visit in January before heading over to Japan cemented that we did want to eventually return to the island, but we had no idea at the time that it would happen so soon! Our new location (south side versus east side) has been a major improvement for us, as is having a wonderful landlord and neighbors. If not for our three daughters requesting last year that we eventually return here, and our January visit, we honestly wonder where we might have ended up going last March, and if our life there would have gone as well as it has here or how we would be feeling about being there now.

Brett and I have designated 2021 a Year of Saving. This last year was a crazy one spending-wise as we set up housekeeping again, but we’re settled now and want to focus on putting our extra dollars to work for us for future dreams. We’ve upped the amount going to our travel savings account, and have taken time this past week to look for ways we can cut back and save even more. Food costs will remain high while YaYu is with us, but we should see those go down once she heads back to school (whenever that is). We have given ourselves a goal of saving $8000 for travel this year, and plan to give ourselves every edge we can so we can reach that goal. One of our first steps will be cancelling our Amazon Prime membership once again in January. Our membership more than covered all the shipping fees we would have incurred otherwise in 2020, but our goal now is to order nothing via Amazon this coming year (other than cases of toilet paper) and do without Prime Video. Not sure how that will go, but the few shipping fees we will incur will be far less than what we would pay for Prime each year. We’re still going through everything to determine other ways we can save this year.

One of the blooming ti plants in our yard – we’re looking forward to more flowers, more beauty, and other good things to come in the new year.

It’s finally time to turn and look forward to 2021, and all the potential it may bring. I’m glad to have survived this past year, but it’s sobering when I think how many did not, and how many continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic and the economic troubles it caused. Here’s to better days for all in the coming year!


17 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 12/27/2020: Looking Forward

  1. Hi Laura, YaYu might qualify for a free Prime account. When my son was in college they gave college students free Prime. They may have changed their policy but worth checking.


    1. The girls have a Prime account they share – I may ask if I can sign in on their account. They share a Hulu and Disney+ account and we use that, so hopefully they’ll let us use Prime as well.


  2. So glad you are settled and enjoying life in Kauai. Christmas looked relaxed. Those walks sound incredible. I have to admit, up hill is my absolute weakness.
    The university did the right thing by saying February rather then pushing January for YaYu. Public schools in Maryland/Delaware are completely on line until a re evaluation in early February. More vaccines should be out there and the need to gather will be greatly diminished. We shall see in a few weeks….I will be glad when the jostle for the first shots (good and bad) is over.



    1. Christmas was different this year but it was still a very, very nice day. I hope though we’re all able to get together next year – it will be a tight fit in our little apartment but I think we can manage it.

      No word here about the vaccinations, when they’re coming and who will be getting them first. We just have to be patient, but my feeling is that things are not going to settle down until the end of September. Hopefully sooner, but it looks like the initial vaccine roll-out has turned into a bit of a mess.


  3. Sounds like a lovely Christmas. And I love the leggings! 🙂

    We had two grands and their parents here after they quarantined to come. It was hectic but fun. Today we are reveling in the silence and resting. A 7 and a 4 are pretty hyped up after two weeks of “house arrest”, and when you add Christmas Eve and Santa, well, it’s just nuts. That said, we really enjoyed them and their parents and were able to FaceTime or Zoom with others we normally see. We got just enough snow for the littles to play in and wear themselves out. I was really sad when they left, as I wonder when we’ll be together again. The return quarantine in Canada is confined to your own property, so they are restricted to the house and back yard, but they knew that going into it.

    Cheers to 2021! May it be a better year for all of us and bring us the vaccine allowing us to create a new normal that includes social interaction in person again. I’m ready!


    1. It was a lovely day – we took it slow and enjoyed every moment. We talked with our son on Thursday (Christmas Day in Japan) and the grands were very hyped up – I can only imagine what you experienced. Still, we can’t wait to experience Christmas with them again, hopefully next year. Fingers are already crossed on both hands.

      I think that after a slow start 2021 will turn out to be pretty nice year. I have hope.


  4. Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas. It’s great everyone was able to be “together” in a different way. I actually play the drums and have the same drum set your grandson has in the photo!

    It was interesting this year to read about your sudden return to Kauai and everything that went along with it. Thanks for taking us along for the ride. I also find it interesting that you enjoy the south side more than the east side. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the south so I will have to do that next time.

    I’m putting together my reading list for 2021. So far, I plan to read Eleanor (a new biography of Eleanor Roosevelt), Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations by Admiral William H. McRaven and The End of Everything by Katie Mack.

    As for 2020, I made a list of the good things that happened to remind myself every so often. Even so, let’s hope 2021 brings an end to COVID, or at least a better way of dealing with it so we can get back to some form of normalcy.


    1. We had a wonderful Christmas Day – we made the most of what we had and what we could do – thank goodness for Zoom!

      I hope I can find more time to read in 2021. These days I can barely stay awake at night, and it’s hard to find time during the day when I can relax and pick up a book. Books are already coming off hold at the library so I need to get motivated.

      Good things did happen in 2020, which I wrote about in today’s post. One of the best things was discovering how nice the south side of the island is (as long as we stay away from Poipu for the most part). Koloa/Lawai/Kalaheo are very green, and with cooler temperatures than the east side. Everything we need is here, and even though it’s a longer distance, it takes less time for us to go up to Lihue/Costco because we don’t have to deal with the Kapaa traffic any more. We love it here!


  5. We did a major move from southern California to northern Minnesota in May and started working redoing an old hunters cabin on our kids property. We moved in in Oct, the day I was hospitalized with kidney failure due to covid. My husband moved in with covid. Then our daughter and family all got it, and her in laws. Thanks God we were all over it by christmas which meant our son and family came for a visit. Yet in all the heavy medical issues God met our needs, blessed us more then we deserve and continues to use our trials to encourage others. It has been a rough year but honestly one never knows what their true character is till they hit a trial. I don’t want to do 2020 over but I think what ever comes we will make it. Determined to not let life defeat us…to grow from it and help others through this road we all walk. Encouraging to read your journey.


    1. Oh, you have had a year of it! Grateful just from reading that you all survived in spite of what was placed before you. I’m with you about not wanting to repeat 2020, but there are lessons to be learned from the experience, and good things did happen too. Character mattered this year.

      Thank you for taking the time to write – I hope you’ll comment again in the future to let me know how you’re all doing.


  6. Lovely post and pictures, as usual! We, too, spent a quiet Christmas day, just the two of us. It was the least stressful Christmas we’d had in years. The day after, we had a Zoom Christmas with John’s two daughters, our sons-in-law, two grandkids, and five dogs (coming in and out of the frame). It was a couple of hours of fun: a Christmas trivia game devised by one son-in-law and then present opening by each of us is turn. We finally had to quit when my laptop battery gave out! Could you explain about the Activity Cards or point me to a blog post where you first talked about them? Thanks.


    1. Our Christmas was very stress-free as well. I need to remember that and savor that part of it. I love your Zoom present opening – we all live in such diverse time zones that it wouldn’t have worked for us but it’s a great idea for future years when we can’t be together.

      The activity cards are daily checklists for things I want to accomplish each day – there’s a picture them in the September 27 post. This year’s cards will be a bit more crowded as I”m picking up another language (French), writing, and doing strength training each day. The cards work for me as I’m the type of person who likes to have all the boxes checked.


  7. Belated Christmas wishes to you and Happy New Year! I love your gifts to each other, all very useful and thoughtful!
    I’m still trying to figure out Swagbucks as it it tied to my old work email and I can’t seem to find a way to change that.


    1. Belated holiday wishes to you as well!

      Gifts this year were fantastic! The only thing I haven’t tried yet is the milk brother I got from Meiling – I am craving a cappuccino!

      Can you log in under a different name and email with SB and start a new account? Or do you still have Swagbucks on the old account you want to use?


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