Yow, here we are for our 2021 snapshot of how life is right here, right now. Down to the four of us living at home.

I think it’s pretty amazing to sit down and try to do a snapshot this year. Never in a million years would I imagine last year when I was writing my little 2020 snapshot how the world would transform that year.

That masks would be mainstream, that “social distancing” would be a regular practice.

That hugs and handshakes would be discouraged. That my children would be in a hybrid schooling situation, trying to maneuver learning largely from laptops. That countries would be closing their borders and on lockdown, and that our country would be in an uproar of trying to sort itself out.

It has been quite a year.

There have been all kinds of “covid stories.” Heartbreaking ones and triumphant ones. Losses and beauty and tragedy and glory. Ours has been one filled up with family. Our getting-close-to-empty-nest getting filled right back up again, and then emptying out again, like waves in the ocean, a continual flow.

So here we are in January of 2021, with a vaccine becoming more available, a new president inaugurated after the most grueling presidential battle I can remember, many still battling, racism awareness blossoming amidst anger and peace. All mixed in together.

But this snapshot is mostly about our family and where we are right now. Let’s start with Max & Abby.

They are up in Provo, both in school and working hard.

Abby works at a counseling office and is finishing her last semester of college (go Abby!).

After two years of some spectacular learning experiences, Max quit the BYU volleyball team. He loved it and the people he got to interact with, but with the season ending so abruptly last year because of the pandemic, and eligibility for seniors stretching out another year he felt like it was time for him to move on, get a job, put his heart into schooling.

It was a great decision and one he and Abby have never regretted, the timing just worked out well for them. Dave and I totally support that decision, but I’ve got to admit it still tugs at the heartstrings a little when I see things like this come up in my feed with a new season starting up, minus Max:

It was pretty fun while it lasted!

Max is majoring in computer science and those classes are HARD! He’s happy to have a tiny bit lighter load this semester.

Abby is inspiring me with her one-hour-of-screen-time-per-day goal and her creative projects amidst all the other stuff she’s doing including some beautiful paintings and art, and sewing a shirt. That girl has got more talent in her pinky than most the rest of us.

Sure love those two up in Utah!

Elle and Carson got married in the middle of the pandemic and Carson got accepted to podiatry school in Miami.

So just like when they came home from Hawaii for Elle’s bridal shower and got “stuck” here before they got married, they came home from their summer semester in Hawaii and got accepted to school, and then moved across the country to the beach “on the other side,” never having really “moved” their stuff from Hawaii. They sure have started off their marriage with a bang but it’s been a good one. They found a great place in Miami right close to the beach, Carson is working his heart out at school and Elle, after doing freelance graphic design for a while, just started a full-time job that she really likes (still doing graphic design).

I love that Elle will call me with house-decor project questions (technology is the BEST when you have kids who have moved away!) and that she’s been able to maneuver her freelance design jobs with one working hand. Carson has a teeny bit lighter load with his classes this second semester but he sure works hard.

Grace has her own “covid story,” ended her Freshman year in Hawaii early (covid), came home and decided to go on a mission in the middle of that pandemic. She was called to Uruguay and reassigned to Texas.

So the beginning of 2021 finds her happy as can be in Austin, quickly the most beloved place in the world to her. The people are so good to her, she has the best companion, the best roommates, in the best area.

She realizes, it is so good, there may be only downhill from here. Ha! I love that she’s so happy and also that we get to talk every week.

We’re both a little sad that she isn’t using her Spanish that she worked so hard on during her Home MTC time (HERE & HERE), but here’s to hoping she will use it some day!

Who knows if she’ll make it to Uruguay, but her heart and soul are ready for whatever happens and she is learning so much.

Claire successfully completed her school volleyball season, and chose a new club volleyball team.

She’s unpacking all her team gear in that picture above and doesn’t look so happy but believe me, she is over the moon about that favorite sport of hers. I will have to write a whole blog post about her decision for this specific club (it was a tough one…Dave and I have to laugh about all these club decisions over the years, SO COMPETITIVE compared to boy’s volleyball and it was so fun this time around that she had some recruiters and she had to really dig deep to make a decision), but for now I’ll just say she is so happy with this club and all she’s learning.

Here in 2021 we live in a world where kids wear masks to play sports. Yep, I never would have believed these pictures if I looked at them last year at this time:

Three parents are randomly picked to get to watch each tournament in person, and they keep score for all the other parents watching the matches streaming to them at home on their phones.

It is a crazy world!

Oh it’s not all about volleyball for this girl though. She is light and sunshine wherever she goes and is making some great friendships even in the midst of a pandemic and hybrid schooling. She’s taking on hybrid/online school like a champ and nothing like hanging out with her at night when we finally get her home. She cracks us up, especially her dad.

I sure love her.

Lucy is maneuvering online learning and social situations quite beautifully I have to say. She has her emotions so much more in check this year. She gets lonely sometimes since friends are doing their own things so much more these days, and the variety of things she can do because of her eyesight is shrinking so dramatically. This breaks her parent’s hearts and of course, breaks hers even more, but she doesn’t dwell on that much. She is strong and beautiful and she makes the most of any time she can get with friends, and on working on the piano and trying to keep up with her school work.

She’s also so good at insisting on watching the sunset from our “special sunset spot”:

Her spirit is strong and she loves Jesus, taking notes in church, reading snuggled up with her mom at night…

…and even loves her “dates” with her parents, one by one, who trade off taking her to Wisconsin for her clinical trial check-ups:

Bo Jangles is simultaneously the best and the most annoying dog in the whole wide world. The best because she has the “welcoming response” down pat, and is overjoyed beyond all belief when any of us come home from anything…even a quick errand:

But the worst because she’s a barker and we can’t figure out how to help her quit. Drives us nutty, she thinks she’s such an amazing watch dog taking such good care of us. But in reality she’s quite wimpy and scared of everything.

Gosh she sure is loved though!!!

Dave and I are still trying to figure out our own stories.

He is deep into his master’s degree right now, and I am deep into some new ideas that I’m working on. My new assignment in the women’s organization at church is sure kicking my bootie (more about that HERE), but man alive, I am loving these women I get to know in so much more depth because of this calling. I’m still trying to find a balance and it’s not easy. Dave worked from home even before the pandemic although he’s in and out with meetings and all that jazz, I sure do like having him here.

The desert still calls to me regularly in 2021.

I adore it.

Our morning devotional that we’ve had down for so many years (not always the best content, but we sure try, and the schedule has been so darn good) has taken a turn for the worst in 2021 because of all this school business being in and then out and then hybrid, and then in again. Can’t keep mornings and days straight. On non-school days the kids stay up too late and mornings are tough with no routine. I thought this was funny one morning when Lucy fell asleep during prayers and I found her still there after the rest of us had gone on with our morning duties:

I’m just throwing in a few pictures from online school because we can’t do a 2021 snapshot without these puppies:

It’s been a roller coaster of a year with school. Right now we are on a hybrid program where the girls go to school just a couple days a week. Rumor has it that we are starting again in person five days a week next week, but I am not holding my breath because the whole school scene is a question mark right now. I’m so grateful for all the teachers who are rolling with the punches on this one, trying to figure out technology:

…and for the kids working their hearts out to still get some learning in in the middle of it all.

Covid has brought on Zoom gatherings too, can’t forget that, and as we begin this next year I am so deeply grateful for the zoom calls I get with my friends to discuss podcasts, the zoom sisters calls we’ve had pretty much every week for months and months, and recently zoom extended family calls on Sundays. I really am so grateful for technology!

Yep, this time right now, the beginning of 2021 is sure one for the books.

It will be so interesting to see how the my “snapshot” in 2022 looks. I sure pray that it is maskless and filled up to the brim with hugs and human kindness. We sure are on an adventure!

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  1. Lucy’s desire to watch the sunset touched my heart. She sure has learned to appreciate beauty. I wish for her the most spectacular sunsets ever as her eyesight fades.

  2. You always find the good, Shawni! 🙂 unrelated, I wanted to recommend “the social dilemma” on Netflix if you haven’t already seen it. I know you are interested in how best to raise children in the technology era and I think you’d get a lot out of it. Certainly it’s made my husband and I think about what we will do when our children are no longer babies!

  3. Hey would you mind sharing more about your weekly zoom calls or emails you have with your mom and sisters? Or how you stay close with them? Does someone each take a turn leading a discussion or posing questions? I have 4 sisters + my mom and we do a girls weekend once a year, but aside from that we are rarely all together. We live at least a couple hours away from each other. I want to be closer to them but it’s so easy for us all to get busy with our own lives. How do you stay connected to them and interested in their lives?

    1. Hey Natalie! It’s been forever and I forgot to come back to this comment, so hopefully you’ll get this response. I do love this podcast idea to feel like we’re “together” more than we can really be physically together. We take turns leading discussions but it’s not really super structured. Someone just throws out a thought or something they want to discuss the next week and we all listen or ponder about it before we get together again. It’s such an easy way to gather. Lots more thoughts and some of the podcasts we’ve listened to back in this post here: https://71toes.com/2020/05/podcast-groups-zoom-calls/

      My sisters and I also have a group email that we send little snippets of what happens each day. I love that too. Connection is just so important and I’m so grateful for technology to help in that aspect!

  4. Our dog was a barker too. She was convinced any shadow or  sound was reason to bark like the little drama dog that she is. (not good when working at home) What has worked incredibly well are water squirt bottles set to the “stream” setting!  We kept them ALL over the house so we were ready when they were needed. The moment she would bark (at the wrong time) you grab a water squirt bottle and squirt her butt,  and say NOOoooo. (Not her face. They get ear infections very easily) Took a few weeks. We graduated to just having to pick up the water bottle and show it to her. (and not squirt her) She would catch herself and not bark. The only time we let her bark is when someone came to the door. That is IT. It has been 5 years. She does NOT bark for any reason unless there is a human at the door OR jumping the back fence and approaching the house when you WANT her to alert you!
     Haven’t needed a squirt bottle in YEARS. (and have never needed the “Barker collar” gizmo)
    Another thing: Never use her name when you say “Noooo”. You don’t want her name to be associated with the correction to barking.  You want her to be HAPPY when she hears her name! (Maybe you already tried this technique and she was just too determined! lol)

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