2020 has been an interesting year for sure. Here we are in July, it is half-way done. Some may say it has been the worst year of their lives, for me I feel blessed.

I was able to have both my daughter and husband home during the day. Even though temporary home schooling was difficult at times I really got to know Katie’s teacher and math/reading tutor well. We all helped my daughter jump reading levels to the point where at the start of the summer she grabbed one of her books from our home library, plopped under the tree in our backyard with her puppy in her lap and read an entire book on her own and she hasn’t stopped reading since, which makes her author/journalist mamma very happy. I have been rewarding her with a new book from Barnes and Noble after she reads five books in a row. I don’t mind supporting a business that has been a huge support to me.
I have been taking lots of free and inexpensive online writing and art lessons and workshops. I have been able to see authors I normally would never be able to see in person during their book tours. I have really enjoyed seeing art museums, zoos, and aquariums virtually from all over the world and learning from their workshops.
For my birthday in April I was able to zoom an art workshop party with all of my family and friends who are scattered all over the U.S.
I also played Heads Up over zoom with a couple of my friends who are twins and they live in separate cities when the roads were closed because of snow.

I also auditioned virtually for The Voice and I have always wanted that opportunity. Even though I didn’t make it I was able to do it. I met a new friend and a new vocal coach who is amazing. Thanks to a virtual choir I was invited to join.
i have seen Garth Brooks and Trish Yearwood perform now a lot more than I have in year’s past. Still nothing tops Garth’s Mile High Stadium concert last year in Denver.

There were a lot of virtual home concerts to honor people on the frontlines. And I got to see one of my favorite childhood bands NKOTB live every week in a new way. From their homes. I even got to attend a virtual cruise, something I have always wanted to go on, but it was always sold out. I saw them live last year with my cousin on their Mixtape tour with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Busta Rhymes and Salt and Peppa. It is sad they are unable to perform live, but who knows what the future holds. Drive in concerts are becoming a thing now.
I have also watched many other musicians and their free live stream concerts and it is so cool to be able to see them in a new element in their homes, more laid back and down to earth.

As far as my author career goes I had lots of cancellations of in person events, but I was able to travel more because of zoom and virtually met lots of new kids and teachers from all over the country and world. I was even featured on The Today Show and was part of the children’s book authors that started the movement of reading to kids during the pandemic to ease their anxieties. I also am going to be on Wyoming PBS on their social media channels reading this fall from some of my books. I joined a new writing organization and started working on my memoir, a romance, a cook book, and two of my picture books found the perfect illustrator! I also met a lot of new friends and have done virtual conferences without having to pay for hotels, food or traveling.

At Easter time we adopted a new fur baby. He is a mini schanuzer. When my kiddo was lonely and needed a friend the most he stepped into our lives at the perfect time. Last year we lost my mom and our 14-year-old dog. Luckily my daughter’s school social worker was able to continue working with her on grief therapy over the phone. Having a new friend in our puppy helped her cope, too. We also got to know our puppy’s human parents really well.

My daughter and I started a cooking show on facebook because she had been watching baking shows on Netflix and wants to compete on them someday. In the process she can make bagels, oatmeal, brown ground beef, make scrambled eggs, waffles and lots of other things. She has learned a lot of math and how to read a recipe and find one in a cook book.

I have taught my daughter photography and gave her my mom’s camera. She has been taking videos and photos all on her own now. She may be a film maker some day. We have been photographing our city of Cheyenne, Wy in all of the different seasons; winter, spring and summer so far. One of our favorite places to go is the Botanic Gardens. My daughter also likes to take pictures from our back seat when I am driving and has gotten some cool shots.

My daughter has been learning the piano from me and has decided she will do violin as a teenager. There are just some things that are taught better in person than over zoom she says.

My daughter got her dream bed, a loft bed with a desk underneath, which was the wrong size, which led us to switch rooms. Something that we have always wanted to do, but we never thought could be possible. Thanks to Target, TJ Maxx, Pier One and Bed Bath and Beyond we have been able to decorate our new rooms perfectly. My old office is now her bedroom and her old bedroom is now my office.

I have been decorating the outside of my house, too. I had a friend help me plant flowers, perennials, that will come back every year, in my garden. My mom’s friend has been harvesting our rhubarb and is making jam for her and us. I water my flowers and pull weeds in my yard daily. I have found Michael’s craft store to be incredibly helpful with decorating my front porch.

I bought a table and two chairs from a garage sale post and I have been having coffee with my friends there ever since people started being afraid of coming into other people’s houses. It was the best $20 I have ever spent!

We have been able to have dr’s visits virtually and that saves us on gas and stress from traveling and also being around sick people.

I have been able to watch all kinds of church services from all over our town and the world. I have always been interested in religion and I just like spending my Sundays watching online services and reading and journaling in my Bible and listening to Klove on the radio.

My daughter has been able to see her cousins over marco polo, video and skype and she plays for hours with them virtually. They live all over the country. We are grateful we can still see them and she can have fun.

We have been able to have playdates with friends outside and my daughter’s dance recital is outside this summer. We can bring a picnic lunch and our dogs and invite so many more people than normal because there is tons of space.

I have started golfing again. I hadn’t been able to exercise ever since I was injured in a car accident last year in June. I broke my foot and had other injuries, too.

I really realized how important massages, hair and nail care are to my well being and self-care. Once we weren’t able to do them. I even had a greater appreciation for the ability to have these kinds of services. With my anxiety and depression they are just vital.

My house has never been more clean and organized. Neither has my car.

I have realized who my close friends are and I have been blessed to be able to spend even more time with them.

I really appreciate small businesses and we did our best to help keep these businesses afloat by spreading their ads on facebook and twitter and visiting them when we could by using curbside.

It was depressing when things kept getting postponed or cancelled. But I have found lots of entertainment in books and magazines. And I got to introduce my daughter to some movies I liked when I was her age once the theaters opened back up.

Yes at times I have been scared of the virus, I have been scared about how people can be so hateful, so quickly. But I haven’t lost faith in people. I am grateful for all of my friends and family. Most of all I have learned how important our freedoms are as Americans. I have friends whose husbands have been deployed during all of this. And I respect and admire them so much.

and most importantly I reconnected with my penpal and dear friend in New Zealand after we had lost touch 20 years ago. She emailed me when she was home and bored and locked down:We have been Skyping a lot! I have learned so much about her country and what she has been up to the past 20 years. It has been a huge blessing to me. The only sad thing is not being able to travel over seas anywhere as of now. That has been the hardest part. Finally reconnecting with an old friend and not being able to see them in person. Thank you freaking Sars 2 Covid-19. but as they say and what I have seen is this too shall pass.

I will show you a photo essay of how quickly things changed from February of this year to now: it is crazy looking at the pictures on my cell phone. It seemed like around March 15 is when things started getting really different.