Tag Archives: friends

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Compliments of COVID, the 2020 holiday season is going to be a lot different. Family get togethers might be taking place over Zoom rather than in person or the celebrations could be pushed back until everyone can participate without crippling anxiety. No matter how you spend your day, I urge all of you to do it as safely as possible so all of your loved ones will be around to celebrate a *hopefully* normal Thanksgiving and Christmas next year.

2020 has been a wild ride and the craziness just reminds me of how thankful I am for all of the wonderful things about my life. A beautiful family, loving relationship, rewarding job, and fabulous friends both in person and online in the blogosphere are certainly nothing to sneeze at!

Thank you all so much for sharing in lifewithlilred with me because each and every one of you help keep me motivated to write each and every day. I am so proud of the sense of community that I feel on my page and I wish nothing but health, safety, and all of the good things for you and yours. ❤

Happy Thanksgiving!

At Home Concerts Pt. 2

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At Home Concerts Pt. 2

Hello! For those of you who don’t know, my “big girl” job is as an independent provider for adults with special needs. Pre-COVID, community integration was my specialty and I was always finding exciting activities and events for my clients to participate in that they might not have had access to before.

One of my favorite haunts “back in the day” with a client who is a music lover was a vinyl record club at the library where a group of our now good friends would sit around, eat pizza, listen to music, and talk about anything and everything. It was such fun and we both miss it a lot so, naturally, at home concerts had to happen when record club was no longer an option.

At home concerts are one of my favorite activities to do with clients now because it’s fun, safe, and I love singing and dancing with my pals! If you remember my original At Home Concerts post, you will know I taught one of my friends how to use YouTube and we are still going strong on watching his favorite golden oldies artists perform.

My other client has a much different taste in music, though. He loves rap! And so do I so at home concerts with him are an absolute trip. In fact, he was the one who introduced me to Cardi B and she’s one of my faves now! Every week we alternate who is going to pick the album and we spend the entire time dancing on opposite ends of the room, laughing, and talking about everything from the important to the downright silly.

Pre-COVID, at home concerts were the last thing on my mind when I could take my clients to all kinds of wonderful events where live music was played. Post-COVID, I find at home concerts to be an inspired idea and it has become my new favorite part about my job.

Exploring different genres of music, hearing songs I’ve never listened to before, and seeing my clients have fun is a high point of my day when we feel like listening to some tunes. We all consider our at home concerts to be an exciting event and it could be for you and your friends/family too!

Dress as your favorite artists, celebrate a different theme or genre, or even learn the different dances of the times so you can better groove to the music. An at home concert can turn a blah day into something really awesome – all it takes is a little creativity. 🙂

What are some of your favorite at home activities? Do you have any suggestions for what my clients and I should listen to next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Arranging An Unforgettable Birthday For Your SO

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Arranging An Unforgettable Birthday For Your SO

We’ve all been having a tough year and most of us are looking forward to things getting back to normal, now that there’s some hope on the horizon. If your SO has played a big role in helping you get through the obstacle course that the previous year has been, then it’s only right that you want to give them the big birthday bash they deserve. If things are safe enough to really enjoy the day with a bang by the time the big day rolls around, here are some tips on how to do it:

A wake up to remember:

There really are few things as heartwarming as getting breakfast in bed or waking up to find a little gift lying beside you on the pillow. You can make their morning truly special with even the smallest gestures to show that, yes, you do remember what day it is and you want to celebrate it as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be a huge spread. However, one thing you don’t want to do is to wake up your SO just so you can give them the birthday morning you have planned. Get things ready for when they usually wake up and then wait for them to start to stir. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be surprised if they start off grumpy.

Pamper them silly:

Some people don’t like spa-like stuff, but you might be surprised how well some people can take to it if they have never felt it before. Whether it’s going for a full spa treatment, spending some time at the sauna together, or even just preparing an extra lush bath for them at home. If you’re feeling more romantically inclined, then you might think to arrange for a couple’s massage. If your SO has been working extra hard as of late to keep things going smoothly, then letting them take the edge off is the perfect way to acknowledge that and to make it clear that you care about their well being amongst all of this.

Arrange a big night on the town:

If it has been an extra-long while since you have both been able to go out and to enjoy the nightlife, then it might be the perfect time to think about taking them out with your shared group of friends to really live it up. You can order some table service to make sure your loved one really feels like a VIP, then go dancing, partying, and getting into some trouble with one another. Of course, not a great option if your loved one is more of a homebody who likes their creature comforts, but a lot of us have been just waiting for the opportunity to kick things off.

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Pixabay Image

The big party:

Sure, it might be the traditional idea, but for some people, the big birthday party really works. If it’s a particularly big birthday, such as the 21st, the 30th, or any of the other multiples of ten, it’s often expected that a little extra bit of fuss is made over a person. If it’s a special birthday, you can also get their loved ones such as friends and family involved in making it a really big event. However, if your SO has said that they genuinely don’t enjoy parties in the past and they have meant it, don’t assume that they do really love parties deep down. That simply is not the case for most people who say that.

Make it a time to appreciate them:

Not every way of celebrating their birthday has to be some big thing. Instead, you can just as easily leave little touches throughout the day that show them how much you care about them. For instance, one great gift could be a jar of love notes that they can open up throughout the day and beyond to see reasons that you love them, are grateful for them, memories you share with them, or even the occasional blue message if you want to take things into the boudoir. You can make things even more fun and leave these messages with little bonus gifts (like their favorite candy) in places they’re likely to look throughout the day.

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Go somewhere together:

This isn’t necessarily an idea that’s exclusive from those above. However, if you’re able to travel, then it might be a great idea to combine one of the ideas above with the chance to enjoy getting away from familiar locations. A great romantic city break could be just what you need so that you can both feel like you’re being treated to something special on the big day. You can order food, enjoy hotel facilities, and take the time to explore something new together. It’s a great way to create brand new memories and a lot of us have really been missing the chance to explore outside of our own neighborhoods for the past several months.

There is no particular event, expenditure, or organization that can make your SO’s birthday special. What is most important is that you think about what they would love and you do what you can to make it a reality. That’s the surest way to make them feel special!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

BFF Post Wedding Celebration

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BFF Post Wedding Celebration

Hello everyone! My bestie, Lea, got married on October 24th. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid for her big day but, unfortunately, I did not feel comfortable being there cause COVID. Of course, Lea was A-okay about it and was nothing short of totally understanding to all of the concerns I had. That’s what best friends of over twelve years is for! ❤

I wanted nothing more than to be at Lea’s wedding and, after she returned home from her honeymoon and was settled in, we had our own celebration. For the big evening, I got a bottle of champagne and we watched the professional video of the ceremony together.

Lea looked absolutely beautiful on her big day and it made me so emotional to see my bestie who I grew up with walking down the aisle. We laughed, I cried, and it was perfect. This hang out was, honestly, the next best thing to being able to participate in her wedding and I was so thankful that we got to have that time together because all it did was make our sister like bond even stronger.

After hearing all of the amazing stories from her ceremony and the reception to her secluded honeymoon in the mountains, Lea bestowed these lovely gifts onto me:

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^^^ How adorable is that homemade card?!

Lea has gifted her bridesmaids with the cutest prezzies throughout the months leading up to her wedding and I treasure all of them so much. She’s just the most sweet, thoughtful person and I felt honored that she still wanted to include me as much as she could despite my discomfort.

This was, easily, one of the best times I’ve had since COVID began in March and I am never going to forget it. Popping champagne with my BFF and celebrating her happiness got me over the slump that I have been in and I feel so excited to continue having life adventures with Lea every step of the way! ❤

Have you ever participated in a wedding before? How long have you and your bestie been friends for? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

What Have I Been Up To?

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What Have I Been Up To?

Howdy! I will always be the first to say how much I miss pre-COVID life. I miss going on dates with Johnny, seeing all of our friends, and not worrying my head off every time I’m in public. And, as someone who works with very high risk families, nonessential outings just seem unimportant to me. So what in the heck have I been up to, then, if I don’t do much of anything in public any more? A whole lot of the following:

Reading:

I love, love, love to read and always have so ample at home time has meant finishing beaucoup books. I try to read at least two chapters or thirty or so pages depending on the book daily. Right now, I am finishing up the prequel to The Hunger Games called The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes and it is excellent! I have such a hankering now to go back and read the entire series and watch all of the movies, of course. 😀

The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti is what’s on deck after my Hunger Games book. I am also always open to suggestions of your favorite books so be sure to let me know in the comments!

Duolingo:

Like reading, I try to practice all five of the languages I’m learning daily on Duolingo. I am currently on a twenty day streak of studying French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Czech and that is huge for me. The last time I had a streak that long was when I was recovering for a month from my oral surgery gone wrong.

I am very motivated to keep that streak going and I am so excited for Johnny to get me Duolingo Plus for Christmas so I no longer have to worry about having enough hearts to complete each practice session. I also plan on adding Swedish, Latin, or Greek into the mix next!

Video Chats:

My ultimate BFF, Lea, and I still see each other about once a month to have a social distanced drink at either one of our homesteads. Other than that, I do a lot of FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom to “see” all of the rest of my pals in my friend group. I love setting aside an hour block or so on the weekend to catch up with friends both near and far and it definitely helps keep me sane to chat even if it isn’t face to face.

Video Games:

Johnny and I are both in love with our Nintendo Switch and when I have some free time, I enjoy playing Animal Crossing. It is so relaxing and fun and I am always excited when the game updates so that you can catch new fish and bugs and participate in different activities like growing pumpkins or foraging mushrooms. I cannot wait to see what our island looks like for Christmas!

I also just beat Paper Mario: The Origami King last week and it was an absolute blast. Johnny got it for me for our one year anniversary and it felt so good to finally beat it. The game was insanely entertaining, visually beautiful, and it was challenging without ever being too too hard. I plan on buying a new Mario game for the Switch soon so if anyone has any favorites, please let me know. 🙂

Online Shopping:

Finally, there is nothing like a little bit of online shopping to help perk me up. I have so enjoyed all of my early Christmas shopping and I am very pleased to say that I am almost done buying for everyone on my gift list. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t pick out a little something something for myself too – especially since I haven’t gone shopping in person since February.

I love ordering small pick me ups like face masks to pamper myself with and, when I really feel like splurging, I never say no to a new pair of shoes!

Are the activities I listed above the most exciting? Not by a long shot. But I value my safety and those around me much more than needing to be out and about right now. So, in the end, it’s not all that bad. ❤

What are your favorite at home activities? What do you miss the most from pre-COVID times? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

2020 Approved Christmas Gift Ideas

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2020 Approved Christmas Gift Ideas

Hello! 2020 has been a crazy year, to say the least. And, until the COVID-19 pandemic gets under control, things are going to remain crazy. The coronavirus may have put a damper on your upcoming holiday plans. However, you can still be the best gifter of the bunch with these totally approved for 2020 gift ideas. Check it out:

Streaming Subscription:

If one of your giftees doesn’t have a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Shudder, or Amazon Prime, then this would be the perfect time to introduce them. Buy a subscription for them for a couple of months or, heck, the entire year! The gift of entertainment will certainly go a long way right now and it will give you someone new to talk about all of your favorite shows with.

Gift Cards:

To some, gift cards might feel like a cop out gift. I have never been under that impression and am never opposed to gift cards – especially right now! Gift cards are great because you can use them during online shopping so no visits to the store are required and your giftee can pick out exactly what they want. Safe, smart, and so simple.

Date Night In:

Staying in is the best thing you can do right now so why not create a date night in for your favorite couple? Try sending them a box from Blue Apron or Hello Fresh so that they can prepare a meal together and a new board game for the evening’s entertainment. The wine is optional but would not go unappreciated… For me, at least! 😀

Craft Kits:

Another fun idea for creating entertainment at home for your giftee is assembling a craft kit for them. Whether that be a wooden bird box and some paint for a nature lover, beautiful beads for a friend who makes jewelry, or a sketch pad and colored pencils for your favorite artist a craft kit is thoughtful and sure to be a success for your artistically inclined giftees.

2020 Care Package:

Honestly, everyone can use some help right now and a 2020 care package could be the biggest crowd pleaser of all. Fill a basket with hand made cloth masks from a local business, Purell, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. Is it the most fun? No. Is it the most useful? Absolutely! It’s just like getting socks for Christmas – no one necessarily loves it but they are always needed! 🙂

If you are struggling with coming up with gifts for everyone on your list, use the tips above for the ultimate 2020 approved ideas!

Are you all done holiday shopping? What are some of your best gift ideas for 2020? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

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Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

Hello!! Normally, the holiday season is an uber exciting time to get together with the people you love most and celebrate. However, with COVID-19 still on the up and up, these next few holidays might feel more daunting than anything. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different this year but different doesn’t mean bad so try getting more into the holiday spirit with these ideas:

Host A Food Drive:

It’s nice to remember how fortunate we are during the holiday season but it’s even better to think about those who have less than you. So, how about hosting a food drive with your friend group or family? Choose some of your local food banks or homeless shelters to help support and see how big your donation haul can get. Offer a small reward to the person who collected the most goods and turn a collection drive into a yearly tradition.

Mystery Gifts:

Due to COVID, it is much easier and safer to online shop for holiday gifts instead of going into the store. A fun way to recognize this would be to send mystery gifts to your friends or family. No names, no cards – just a Zoom meeting after all of the gifts are received to see if anyone can guess who sent them theirs. Set your own rules like a spending limit or if hints can be given and see how well all of you know each other by sending off surprise gifts!

Arts & Crafts:

Having an abundance of time at home is perfect for trying your hand at some holiday themed crafts. Whether that be creating hand print turkeys with your little ones or having a boozy Christmas ornament decorating sesh with the girls, a craft night is a perfect way to get together and try something new. Have a Zoom meeting all together or social distance appropriately and, who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite hobby.

Countdown Memories:

Sadly, a lot of families will not be able to get together this holiday season and that sucks – for lack of a better word. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in one of the most loved holiday activities – reminiscing on holidays of past. Create a slideshow or presentation of your top holiday memories complete with pictures, videos, or goofy memes to help better describe your favorite times. Send them off to those you hold dear and enjoy hearing about everyone else’s most treasured holiday memories.

Sponsor A Family:

The holiday season should, ideally, be a magical time for everyone but, unfortunately, that is not the case. If there is a family in your community that you know is struggling, lend a helping hand. Leave a surprise donation of toys, gift cards, food, and anything else that you think they would need to better enjoy their day. You might be able to make it the best holiday yet for someone who needs it the most.

How do you get into the holiday spirit? What are some of your favorite holiday memories? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Simple Popsicle Stick Halloween Craft

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Simple Popsicle Stick Halloween Craft

Hi! Lil Red may not be the craftiest gal in the bunch but, I’ll be damned if I don’t try my best with my clients when we’re creating something together. One of my pals had a plethora of Popsicle sticks so I figured we could try to do a Halloween craft with them by painting them into little ghosts. While my client opted for making names of his loved ones out of the sticks (So sweet!), I made the following for Johnny’s desk at work and something special for my crafting partner. Check it out:

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I started my crafting palooza with something easy by painting the Popsicle sticks white and making little ghost faces with Sharpie markers once the paint was dry. Simple, yes, but they turned out so cute I decided to try my hand at a few more designs even though they were going to be much harder for my non crafty self.

I thought a Frankenstein stick would look awesome and I knew Johnny would love it so I looked up a picture of ol’ Frank and did my best. While the green paint on the stick dried, I practiced drawing his face several times on paper before I Sharpied in the final effort and, frankly (lol), I couldn’t believe how good it turned out. In fact, it ended up being Johnny’s favorite creation.

After seeing my Frankenstein, my client asked me if I could make him a Barney one. I told him I’ll see what I can do and got to work on two Barney themed Popsicle sticks. In honor of the Barney Halloween episode that he loves, I painted a stick purple with green polka dots, just like the pumpkin Barney had in the show.

The real challenge, now, was going to be making Barney’s face because I can’t draw for crap. Lol, like with Frankenstein, I looked up a picture of Barney and practiced drawing his face while the purple base paint dried. Once I was satisfied, I Sharpied in the face of the friendly purple dinosaur and I thought it turned out great. I added a green tummy and his yellow toes and my client was so happy with what I made him, which is all that matters to me.

To wrap up our crafting, I made a Jack-O-Lantern stick to complete Johnny’s spooky set. Both my client and I had a blast with our arts and crafts hour and I was so happy to come up with something that was simple but we both enjoyed so much. Oh you crafty, huh?!

Would you consider yourself crafty? What is something that you have made that you are proud of? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Ballooning Around

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Ballooning Around

Hello! As of right now, there has been a sharp increase of COVID cases in Ohio. Myself and Johnny, both of our families, and all of my clients are hunkered down more than ever and the feeling of having “nothing to do” is particularly strong. As an independent provider for people with special needs, I am constantly trying to figure out ways to keep my clients entertained from the comfort of their home. This past month, I learned that something has simple as a balloon can be a whole lot of fun.

My most senior (and high risk) client’s brother celebrated a birthday in October, so we spent a lot of time making decorations and discussing birthdays of years’ past. The piece de resistance, however, was definitely when I blew up a ton of balloons the day before and the morning of the big day. My client loved selecting which color balloons he wanted and he wrote his brother’s name on every single one.

Once we had plenty of balloons ready, I asked my client if he wanted to hit it back and forth together and he was all for it. In fact, so much so that we have played “Balloon Bounce” pretty much every day that I’ve seen him since. This has been my “sneaky” way of incorporating a more, for lack of a better words, “active” activity into my client’s routine and he has so much fun that it doesn’t even feel like a little work out.

We have dubbed ourselves the Balloon Bounce International League and we have nicknames too! While we’re hitting the balloon, we always play our favorites tunes and it brings my client back to playing volleyball in the Special Olympics. My only rule? Placing items that could get hit throughout his room elsewhere so nothing breaks!

Balloon Bounce is one of the most simple past times I think I have ever come up with and it really is a blast. All it takes it a little creativity and imagination and even the smallest activities can become a new daily favorite. Hey, I’ll take it!

How do you get creative with activities at home? How did you celebrate any recent birthdays? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image By: Deeana Creates From Pexels

Spooky (And Safe!) Family Fun

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Spooky (And Safe!) Family Fun

Hello! Halloween is right around the corner and, unfortunately, it’s going to be very different than in 2019. No trick or treat for my niece, no big parties, no Halloween concerts with Johnny – just lots of scary movies and fond memories of when COVID didn’t exist. If you’re a huge fan of Halloween like me and Johnny, this might have you feeling down and out about the lack of activity going on. So, why not give these spooky and safe ideas a try?

Trunk Or Treat:

In my neck of the woods, they are doing a trunk or treat program for the little ones getting in the Halloween spirit. This involves picking up a treat bag at ten different, driveable locations and, afterwards, your name will be put in a drawing for more goodies. My family plans on piling up in Johnny’s mini van so we can all enjoy seeing our little niece dressed up in her Halloween’s best… And all from the comfort of our car! Nice. 😀

Shudder Screening:

Johnny and I have been watching nothing but scary movies this entire month and we have the streaming service, Shudder, to thank for that. In fact, we’ve had so much success that we plan on keeping the service beyond our free month long trial. From exclusive content just for Shudder, scary shows, movies, and the fact that they are constantly adding more programming I can’t believe we haven’t gotten this service sooner! The first show I recommend? Creepshow! It. Was. AWESOME.

Costume Contests:

If you’re used to having a yearly Halloween party with your friend group, how about hopping on Zoom to have a little reunion? Create costumes from what you already have at home and award a prize to the best look. Maybe that will be Cash app-ing some moolah or ordering a pizza for the top winner? Don’t forget “raspberry” prizes for the worst costume!

Spooky Scavenger Hunt:

A super fun way to celebrate Halloween night is with a spooky scavenger hunt. Limit yourselves just in your home and backyard and, once it gets dark, let the games begin. Fun for people of all ages, use clues and hints to help direct the participants to the items being collected. Mini pumpkins or ingredients to a “potion” perhaps? Once the hunt is complete, celebrate with candy, caramel apples, hot cider, and a movie.

Jack-O-Lantern Contest:

Jack-O-Lantern contests are a great way to get the whole neighborhood involved in some Halloween fun. Have everyone vote for the best pumpkins on your block and see who comes out on top. You can also have contests for best decorated house, cutest pet costumes – you name it! Then, everyone in your area can get in on the Halloween spirit, too. 🙂

How are you safely celebrating Halloween this year? What did you dress up as last year? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah