Looking Back at 2020…

January 2, 2021 3:56pm
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2020 was … kind of nuts!

The other night we watched Death to 2020 by Netflix, which is hilarious albeit a painful reminder of how just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse last year, they just kept on getting worse over and over again.

It’s a fun special to watch. My wife even loved it and she tries to steer clear of politics. We literally watched it on New Year’s Eve while we waited for midnight to roll around, which seemed like a fitting way to usher out a pretty awful year.

That said, deep down I know that it wasn’t entirely awful, so I wanted to take a minute just to reflect on some of the positive things that happened in 2020 as we move into the new year that, let’s be honest, might have more similarities to 2020 than we’re ready to deal with at this point… 😯

  • I spent the majority of the year working from home, which is by far my preference.
  • Christopher switched to a new school that he loves.
  • Matthew switched to homeschooling, which has given him a lot more of the one-on-one attention that he needs right now.
  • We finally got rid of the bamboo in our backyard!!!
  • Trump lost his re-election campaign.
  • I actually decorated for Christmas early enough for us to enjoy it all season this year!
  • Christopher lost a total of three teeth.
  • We started the legwork to refinance our house to help get our finances in order next year.
  • The kids all leveled up in swim class – both David and Christopher more than once.
  • I published a bunch of stuff that I’m pretty proud of.
  • We both were lucky enough to keep our jobs all year.
  • And last but certainly not least – none of us got sick with COVID-19.

Ultimately I think it’s safe to say that the last one is by far the most important, but in a way it’s refreshing to look back and also acknowledge that COVID wasn’t the only thing that happened last year. We survived, and we had some fun along the way, and celebrated some nice victories amid all of the chaos.

And that’s not bad for a year like 2020! 😉

Lullaby, and Goodnight…
Lately Matthew has had this thing where he likes to be rocked before taking a nap or going to bed, and since Sara worked all weekend that duty fell squarely on me. It’s kind of cute, though – he’s got a big, stuffed Mario that he sleeps with and he likes us both to go under his blanket like a tent. Recently Sara started playing lullabies on her phone and he seemed to enjoy it, so I tried doing it, too.

The only down side I’ve found is that in addition to being effective at helping him fall asleep, the combination of it all also seems to be great at making me fall asleep! That said, I keep meaning to set some time aside for meditation and it’s incredibly relaxing, so why not just kill two birds with one stone?!

Video Games FTW
I’m planning on writing a Scott’s Guide to Life article about it, but video games seem to have surged in popularity in our home this summer … and I love it. On top of continuing to work from home due to COVID-19, I’ve spent some great times racing Christopher and even David in Mario Kart, and because his Switch Online membership comes with a bunch of retro NES and SNES games, I’ve even been showing them some of my old favorites which has been super fun.

For example, one of Christopher’s favorite tracks in Mario Kart 8 is Excitebike Arena, so he was very curious to see the actual game that it was based on! He’s even been trying to play some of the original Mario games, some of which are a little less forgiving than the newer ones, but it’s just awesome to get to share that with really all three of them. 🙂

Ugh, Garage…
And last night I reluctantly did some more cleaning out in my garage in order to be able to fit one of the cars inside. The whole ordeal was anything but voluntary – we’ve gotten a couple of letters from our HOA complaining about our kids’ therapist parking in our driveway because there’s only room for two cars before someone is then parking over the sidewalk … which I think is an absolutely stupid rule, but after paying them a few hundred bucks in legal fees last year after they got trigger happy about weeding our garden … I just don’t have it in me to argue with them right now.

The last time I tried cleaning, I still was about a foot short of actually closing the door, so last night I rearranged a bunch of stuff and found some more things I could throw away, and now the car just barely fits … which is good enough for me.

Note to self – Next house needs to have so much more room for storage!

Bonus Positive Thing – Swim Time!
I think we went swimming every single day for the last four days, and even though I’m exhausted … like, seriously! … the kids really loved it.

Our pool this summer has kind of been my secret weapon when I’ve got the kids by myself because although it can sometimes be a little stressful keeping track of all three of them at the same time, particularly when Matthew wants to dive in without waiting for me, however we do also have a lot of fun and as an added bonus – it really wears them out and makes the rest of our time until bedtime a lot easier to pass!

I don’t know what we’re going to do in another month when it starts getting too cold to swim.

Regularly scheduled family Mario Kart tournaments???

Better Kid Days
I’ve written before about how it was kind of tough for me to bond with Christopher when he was younger, so I’m happy to say that recently I’ve been doing a little better in that regard. I took the day off from work on Thursday to give Sara a parenting break, so I had the kids ALL DAY and aside from a few expected hiccups, we had a lot of fun and they didn’t manage to stress me out as much as they sometimes do. It’s neat seeing David and Matthew each developing their own unique personalities because it gives me a way to relate to them one-on-one, which was a big part of how my relationship improved with Christopher.

Relics & Espers
The last couple of days I’ve really been yearning for some video games, so last night after I got all of the kids to bed instead of doing anything productive, I curled up in bed and fired up the SNES Classic and blew about three hours playing games! Specifically I landed on Final Fantasy 3 (VI in Japan) which was probably my second favorite behind FF2 (IV), and even though I knew it wasn’t the kind of game that I could just play a little and then walk away, it was fun to revisit because I couldn’t even tell you the last time I played it!

Plus, unlike FF2 that I could likely beat with my eyes closed, I don’t remember a lot of the nuances from FF3 so I’m getting to relive those all over again, which is cool. I finally turned it off around 3am at the part where you play through the three mini-quests after Sabin disappears in the river on your way back to Narshe … should be interesting to see how much of a time sink it ends up being in the weeks to come… 😛

Coding Revisited
Right now I’m working on kind of a unique task at work in that I’m basically rewriting a bunch of scripts that I originally wrote ten years ago. I mentioned this briefly the other day on my micro-blog – it’s really weird to look at code that I wrote in PHP and MySQL because at the time they were all that I knew, and now I’m porting them into Visual Studio to use the Microsoft tools that the system I currently develop on is based around. None of it was necessarily wrong the way I did it a decade ago – it’s just different because I literally wrote everything in Notepad whereas now I have much better tools and an actual framework to do the job under!

Case in point – I’m sure that I spent weeks writing the first version, whereas I maybe spent six hours total this week and I’m about half done already? I suppose that’s what experience will do for you. 😀

Rocket Boys
Can you tell that Christopher is really into Buzz Lightyear right now?! First it was every toy getting its own honorary jetpack with whatever water or soda bottles he found laying around, but today when we caught him giving his little brother a jetpack with his empty juice cups, well, the adorable-ness just sort of writes itself… 😉

Refocusing on Disney Humor
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve finally decided to scrap one Disney project (that I admittedly) wasn’t really doing anything with in favor of another one that I think has much more promise in the long run.

Several years ago now, I created a little project called My Time with the Mouse… that was going to be my site for all things Disney World. I had about half a dozen different columns that I’d write – one each week – about dining and resort reviews, random trip advice, trip reports for my own visits, and more. I was also going to use it as a personal photo gallery and had uploaded a good couple of thousand photos I’d taken over the years, all organized by category and location.

It was a big project and ultimately just way too much work because I never could keep up with the schedule I’d created for myself, nor could I keep up with the other “popular Disney bloggers” who are literally pushing out new park updates every single day as it happens. And I don’t really want to do that, so after a couple of failed relaunches and some soul searching, I’ve finally decided to scrap My Time with the Mouse… altogether and instead replace it with … The Disney Humor Column.

The idea is that I’ve gathered up the Disney humor pieces that I’ve written over the years and now I’m going to write two new humor columns specific to Walt Disney World each month. I think it’s a better use of my time because while there are tons and tons of Disney bloggers online today, I don’t really see any focusing solely on humor. Plus, it will integrate better with my existing humor column, so hopefully there will be some opportunities for cross-promotion and whatnot in the future!

Anyways, long story short – I cleaned up the website this week and I’m ready to start with a fresh, new Disney humor column next week! The plan will be to alternate weeks between this and Scott’s Guide to Life, so both of those features will be bi-weekly and The Humor Column will remain weekly.

I’m excited about it, so go check out disneyhumorcolumn.com and with any luck, you should see a new column pop up sometime around noon next Wednesday. 😉

Planning Our 10th Anniversary Cruise
And lastly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this yet because honestly Sara’s really been doing most of the research, but this year is our 10th wedding anniversary and I think we’re going to breakdown and go on a cruise this fall to celebrate.

We’re still trying to figure out all of the details and come up with a deposit and everything, but we both agree that we really need a vacation! I don’t think that we’ve ever both been away from the kids at the same time except for maybe a short overnight stay with their aunt. Life is stressful and ten years ain’t nothing to shake a stick at, so we’re hopefully going to pawn the kids and dog off on her parents and sneak away to the Caribbean for some much needed R&R!

According to photos, our last cruise was back in 2012 … before we had kids … and, well, I think this suave, little guy has missed us just about long enough… 😛

Family Time x3
This week has been very busy, but busy in a good way as we’ve been running back and forth over to Orlando because my Mom is in town for my nephew’s second birthday. Thursday we spent a nice, relaxing afternoon at the beach and yesterday took us over to Disney Springs for a bit of dinner and shopping … during which our kids totally didn’t behave, but what are you gonna do?! And tomorrow we’ll be back in the road again for the birthday party itself, which should be lots of fun and will hopefully give said cranky children lots of time to burn off some energy so that we don’t have a repeat of last night!

Nonetheless, the family time has been nice. 😉

Lego Collectible Minifigs – Series 17
I already mentioned this in my Thing-a-Day post yesterday, but I was both surprised and excited to stumble across the newest series of CMFs at the Lego Store at Disney Springs last night. There was one guy feeling bags when I found them – I’ve never been a fan of doing that, mostly because I’m terrible at it, but also because it defeats the randomness if somebody comes through and grabs all of the rare ones to sell online. Regardless, I grabbed a handful for myself to add to the collection and so far I’m really liking what I’ve seen – fun series overall!

Scott’s Guide to Life Launch!
And I technically already wrote a little bit about this, too, but frankly I’m so psyched to finally get this project off the ground that I’ll gladly advertise it just about anywhere I can! The whole idea for Scott’s Guide to Life is to share some stories that are a little more personal than I might use in something like The Humor Column or Just Laugh. For example, two of my debut essays are about why I started going to therapy and how I learned to bond with my first son, and I’ve got a whole slew of other (hopefully) insightful pieces to come in the future, too!

Granted, they’re not all completely serious, as I already wrote one about never underestimating dirty diapers – it’s going to be a mixture of different moods, so be sure to tune in to see what I come up with next. 😉

BBA – Brothers Being Adorable
Fun story from last night – I had pulled some breast milk out of the freezer in our garage and because Christopher was standing nearby curious, I handed it to him and said that it was for David. After locking the door back up, I turned to find that he’d already ran away with the bags of frozen breast milk … and given them to his brother in his swing out in the living room!

Granted, David was already fussy and throwing two cold bags of milk on him didn’t help matters, but it was still undeniably adorable. 😉

Pool Time
Yesterday after wading a bit and sitting outside so that Christopher could frolic and play around the pool, I told him that we’d try to go swimming this afternoon because yesterday the water was already cold and possibly in the middle of the afternoon heat it might be a bit more tolerable!

Well, fast forward to today and it was still really cold, but we all went outside anyways and heated up the hot tub to a fair temperature that the twins could stand for a while, and as a result everyone seemed to have a great time splashing and playing. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon because although occasionally I second guess whether having a pool is really worth it because ours doesn’t get nearly warm enough – I think because it’s shaded by the house a lot, it reminded me that we couldn’t really get away with a day like today at the community pool or a hotel because A) our community pool doesn’t even have a hot tub, and B) hot tubs at hotels tend to be very hot, which is nice when you’re just adults trying to unwind, but may be not as realistic when kids and/or other parents to gawk at you are around…

Also, 4/5 of our family may or may not have been mostly naked during said afternoon frolicking … so that wouldn’t have necessarily flew anywhere else, either! 😛

This Quesadilla
You ever see a picture of something on social media that makes you think, “That’s what my life is missing right now. I must go out and find one of those to fill this void in my life immediately.”?!

That happened today with a video on Twitter of somebody making quesadillas, and so after naptime we went out to a really great Mexican place nearby that we love for dinner, and the delicious steak quesadilla as seen below was indeed procured, and there was much rejoicing… 😀

No More Leaky AC!!!
I seriously can’t even tell you how big of an accomplishment this is because it’s been plaguing me for like two months now … at least! Basically, the drain pipe for our AC somehow got plugged and as a result has been backed up and was dumping water all over the floor in the garage. Numerous attempts were made to unclog it with the wet-dry vac like I’ve done in the past, but to no avail. Ultimately I found a new suggestion of blowing out the pipe with a garden hose that would be capable of providing a bit more force than the wet-dry vac could do, though that presented a new challenge because it was so backed up that running the hose just pushed water back into the AC unit until I finally decided that the right approach was to just rebuild a chunk of the pipes between the drain and the AC unit itself!

So a lot of PVC cutting and pipe sealant junk later, last night I tore out the leaky section and rebuilt it with a neat-o valve that could be closed when I need to flush the drain pipe out in the future so that my hose water only flows outward instead of even having the opportunity to go back into the AC unit. As for the drain pipe itself, the full pressure of the hose finally seemed to do the trick and within only a few minutes I started to see flakes of algae and eventually a few bigger chunks coming out until it was flowing like normal again.

But the biggest victory dance came when I got up this morning and found that the puddles of water in my garage were subsiding because water was finally draining outside of the house again like it was supposed to!!!

Long story, I know, but like I said, this victory was a long time coming! 😀

This one is much simpler, and even seems a bit silly to say, but I took some time to actually read a book this morning, and it was kind of nice, and as such I think it’s something that I want to try to do more often.

I’ve written many times before that I always feel weird knowing that I’m a writer who doesn’t read very much … at least not when it comes to proper books vs articles, etc…, so today started out kind of lazy and I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed, and instead I reached for my Kindle (which miraculously had a charge!) and got started on a book that my therapist had recommended to me a long time ago about productivity and making the best use of the time that we have…

…ironically enough!

Granted, it’s not the easiest read so I only took in about the first chapter and I want to give myself a few days to absorb it before going back for more, but I really hope this might be the start of slowly finding time for the lost art of reading in my life because there are so many things from other authors out there that I’d like to read and if possible, I wouldn’t mind not feeling like a gigantic hypocrite writing all of these words and then never reading anybody else’s, too! 😉

Special Writing Project Progress…
So the new project that I first mentioned last week – I’m not quite there yet, but I’m really happy with the progress and am looking forward to properly launching it very soon! To date I’ve written three of the five initial essays that I want to lead with, so just a little more to go and maybe some polishing and it should be ready for primetime.

In a way, parts of it make me a little nervous because these stories by nature tend to be more personal than the other stuff that I blog and write fart jokes about, but somehow that’s also what makes it kind of exciting and freeing, too, because it’s a new opportunity to share a side of me that I haven’t really written about in the past!

Anyways, more to come very, very soon. :mrgreen:

Matthew Has Returned Home!
Thankfully our littlest one’s unfortunate run-in with anesthesia came to a close this afternoon as Matthew’s doctor at the hospital signed off on him coming home, and already he’s looking so much better than he did yesterday when he had leads stuck all over his body. Granted, his dick looks kind of gruesome because he got a circumcision while he was there and there’s just no pretty way to slice it … pun intended … but so far he seems to be recovering like a champ and tolerating his brother’s presence and everything… 😛

No Coke!
Admittedly I’ve been pretty terrible about drinking soda again over the last six months when many a year ago I had managed to give it up entirely. Weight loss right now is a much bigger challenge that I’m not really ready to get my arms around … no pun intended … so trying to get back on track with not drinking hundreds of calories of sugar water each day seemed like a more reasonable goal to work towards! And aside from getting a free soda with my lunch the other day – which I only drank about half of before going back to water – so far, so good…

New Writing Project is Go!
And though I’m not quite ready to announce it yet, but I’ve written a couple of pieces for the new project that I’ve been kicking about for weeks/years and frankly, I’m pretty excited about it. The concept is somewhat of a new direction from the types of things that I normally write and includes opportunities to tell a bunch of personal stories, so much in the same way that I’m very pleased with how the editorials that I write for Scott’s Thoughts have come together over the last year and a half, I’m really hoping that these articles will be as rewarding to publish on multiple levels as well. 😀

Flowers & Rain & Meats & Mouse Ears
Had an awesome day yesterday over at Disney, starting at Epcot for the Flower & Garden Festival that segued into a mini Food & Wine Fest, followed by an unexpected dinner at ‘Ohana to avoid the rain and an even more unexpected view of Wishes from the Poly that featured the Electric Water Pageant floating by, and finally culminating with a midnight walk around a nearly empty Magic Kingdom … it was pretty swell!  :mrgreen:

Belated Easter with a 1 Year-Old
Monday night we ended up “doing Easter” because Sara had to work all weekend and we figured that Christopher is still too young to really tell the difference anyways. We quickly learned that one is way too young to even attempt dyeing eggs, but seemed to have fun “finding” the eggs that we’d hidden in plain sight for him around the play room. I suppose next year we’ll probably have to actually put something inside of them! 😕

Smiling by the Lights
I love how right now Christopher is absolutely mesmerized by something as simple as turning the light in his bedroom on and off – when I’m carrying him and I reach up for the switch, he’ll stare at the light all wide-eyed and giggle when I flick it off, giggling again while looking away as I turn it back on and off a few more times to his amusement. It’s probably something that I’ll regret when he figures out how to do it himself and starts burning out bulbs like mad, but for now it’s a lot of fun. 😉

Home Entertainment Shopping Spree!
Commencing in only a few hours, it looks like we’re actually going to do the bulk of our Black Friday shopping today because Best Buy actually has the new TV that we’re buying on sale all week, and because we’re financing everything, it seems as good a time as any to to a bit of other splurging at the same time as well! So we’re basically buying all of the new games that we’ll get for the next year … now!

Christmas Light Overhaul Extravaganza
Also on the renovation list this year is our Christmas light display because despite how much I love decorating, we didn’t even put anything up last year and a big part of it was because the lights we have are a total mess. In fact, after going dark last season I kind of committed to doing it right again this year, knowing that it was going to involve scrapping the bulk of what we already have and starting over with a new design for the entire house.

Which is fine, albeit expensive! Still, I never really decorated our last rental because I didn’t have a ladder tall enough, so our old lights were really focused around a house that we haven’t lived in for several years now … it’s time for a change!

Backin’ Up, Backin’ Up, Backin’ Up, Backin’ Up…
So an interim step to this post from the other day that I actually was able to complete was throwing at least a partial backup of files onto CrashPlan, which makes me feel a little safer that at least my photos from all across the years are now a little safer in the event I lose a hard drive like I’ve already had happen several times before! It cost me about $75 for an annual subscription and the files took about a day and a half to upload … for now it was mostly just writing and photos, but where I am in life now makes $75 to protect that kind of stuff a no-brainer.

Kind of looking forward to my next steps because I still have plenty of organization to handle, plus I’m curious to see just how Unlimited they really are if I opt to try uploading my DVD collection to them eventually as well, but I guess for now it’s just comforting knowing that I finally got around to backing up the tens of thousands of photos that I’ve been saying I really need to backup for years now… 😉

Memory Lane Photo Posts
I had a lot of fun with this little series. I was feeling particularly nostalgic that night and I can see myself doing some more of them in the future as I come across worthwhile photos. 😀

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