Looking back at all of the moments from the past year, both big and small, has helped me realize how much there really is to be grateful for. The accomplishments and checked boxes are wonderful to reflect on, yet with everything going on in the world, a mundane day (week, month, year?) is really worthy of thanks all on its own. All we have is the present, the utmost cliché that became blindingly clear to me in 2021.
At the beginning of 2021, it felt like it would be a year of doing less of what didn’t matter and more of what did (although along the way, I lost track of this approach). We worked on updating the design of the entryway. Our furniture slowly started arriving for the green room. I cooked a lot. I set some new budgeting goals and focused on keeping organized. The kids started throwing their own version of dance parties. We finished the basement kitchenette. I got bangs and felt like a totally new person. We started to get really hopeful for the possibility of vaccines.
I updated the design of a dresser as a part of my appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show. Our family nursed a lot of colds. My first nephew was born. My daughter did not take off a ballet costume for the entire month. I found my favorite red lipstick and did a lot of secondhand shopping. I got intentionally dressed with regularity, which brought me joy even though we weren’t leaving the house very much. I started to work on the design of the kids’ bathroom. We added wallpaper to the laundry room (the same wallpaper we used in the basement kitchenette).
This month, I went back to therapy. I cried a lot and was completely overwhelmed with life and work; it felt like everything was too heavy. We worked on finalizing design details for the kitchen remodel. Pearl really started acting out. I cut my bangs even shorter. I fell in love with the design combination of red and pink together. I brought more plants in to make the house feel fresh (then realized I bought too many and ended up giving some away). We hung a bunch of art throughout the house and had our first outdoor meal at the end of the month.
This month, I went back to therapy. I cried a lot and was completely overwhelmed with life and work; it felt like everything was too heavy.
The laundry room flooded. The kids’ bathroom refresh got underway. We took our first trip during the pandemic… to Des Moines! I went through a difficult friendship breakup. We worked on updating the design of our bedroom which, once it was done, made the space feel really nice and fresh. My friends and I started our cookbook club again. Our sofa (finally) arrived for the green room. Joe and I received our first dose of the COVID vaccine. During the last week of April, demo on the kitchen began.
The kitchen remodel was well underway. We started grilling a lot (thanks to the lack of said kitchen). We spent tons of time outside. August started T-ball and soccer. We received our second COVID vaccine dose (and then we celebrated). We officially closed the studio. Our kitchen remodel scope expanded and we decided to redo the foyer and entryway floors too. We finished the kids’ bathroom refresh. We found some sweet chairs on Facebook Marketplace for the dining room. The trees started blooming, signaling spring’s arrival.
The house was a construction zone. We primarily ate takeout and food we grilled in the backyard. We spent the majority of our time at the nearby pool. I made a lot of last-minute changes to the kitchen design. Our floors were finally leveled in the entryway, foyer, and kitchen. Bennett took her first trip (of a couple) to the ER for breathing issues due to asthma. My friend Dahlia threw an amazing summer solstice party. I found my favorite bathing suit. We stripped the kids’ bedroom wallpaper and found a neon green paint color underneath. It felt like we were somewhat back to normal, thanks to all of the adults in our circle finally being vaccinated.
The house was a construction zone. We primarily ate takeout and food we grilled in the backyard.
We spent so much time outside. We did family scavenger hunts, spent time at the pool, and grilled. Our tile flooring was installed. I second-guessed a lot of things. Bennett went to the ER again. We went to Chicago to visit family. We celebrated August’s birthday. I started to get really tired of not having a kitchen. We painted the kids’ beds and I started hunting for furniture for the dining room. My friend Marlo threw a pizza party where I learned the amazingness of putting caviar on pringles.
I ran into Joe’s truck with my car and felt like something was wrong with me. I did a lot of thrifting which, when done in excess, is often a bad sign for me. I got into the thick of therapy. I had a massive dermatitis breakout on my face. We went up to Grand Marais and spent time with Joe’s family which was lovely and healing. My second nephew was born. Toward the end of the month, construction on the kitchen wrapped. The Design Minded team came to film at our house. I made some finishing touches to our green family room and we turned the peach room into a living room again.
We finally met my nephew, Max. We moved into our newly remodeled kitchen and filmed again with the Design Minded crew. I cooked and cooked and cooked. We went to our first and only wedding of the year. Joe got a vasectomy. Pearl drove me wild and we hired someone to train her. August started school for the first time since the pandemic. All of our furniture finally arrived for the green room. I made new friends in the neighborhood. August learned to ride his bike. We started making plans for the dining room (previously the foyer) to more clearly determine what we wanted to do with this space. Our Design Minded episode aired.
We threw a party in our lawn to cheer on the Twin Cities Marathon. Joe rode his bike up past Grand Marais with a friend; I was really proud of him. I had a breakthrough therapy session. We actually decorated for Halloween this year. August and Birdie dressed up as Big Bird and a squid; I love watching them be kids. Joe and I went to Louisville for work. My friends and I had a cookbook club cabin weekend up north. We did lots of family hikes to Shadow Falls, which made it feel like we were truly soaking up the fall season. Bennett had another asthma episode but, thankfully, we didn’t need to go to the ER this time. We finished adding molding to the dining room and painted it white.
We actually decorated for Halloween this year. August and Birdie dressed up as Big Bird and a squid; I love watching them be kids.
We celebrated my birthday and our wedding anniversary. I started decorating our house for Christmas early. I took the kids to The Minneapolis Institute of Art and loved having them out and about, sharing my love for art. I did a bit of a cold-weather wardrobe refresh, with cozy pieces in new-to-me shapes. I had my first acupuncture session, which was amazing. I learned how to make beef wellington and hosted the first cookbook club at my house since the kitchen remodel. I designed a new product for the first time in a long time and started making art again too. We hosted a small Thanksgiving at our house, and Pearl came home from training.
Bennett turned four and we reminisced a lot about her birth story. She had a massive growth spurt and got some new clothes as a result; it was so fun to see her style emerge. We took snowy family walks and continued to work on training Pearl. Everyone was sick with colds at one time or another so we spent lots of time at home together. We cleaned out our closets and finally felt like everything had a spot. I made a couple of furniture purchases for the dining room that made the space feel more complete (and much more organized). We got ready for Santa, and we hosted family for Christmas. At the end of the month, we took down holiday decor, did our best to slow down, and prepared for a fresh start in 2022.
Happy New Year! I hope 2022 treats you well, friends.
BY Kate Arends - January 5, 2022
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.