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Happy Birthday to April and My Sister~

I hope everyone had a fun week! It's hard to believe how fast this year has been going. This week had back-to-back birthdays with my sister and April (the 7th and the 8th). My sister had fun on a trip to Colorado, and April enjoyed chilling. Since they had their own plans, we haven't gotten together to celebrate yet, but I'm sure we will soon.

I woke up kind of sleepy on Monday morning, but a lot happened in my dream. The first thing I could remember from my dream was my sister being up super early. There was something about me playing a Pokémon game and trying to find this special colored Pokémon (I think it was a pink Victreebel), but all of the Pokémon kept using explosion, yielding my quest fruitless. I remembered telling my sister this, and there being something weird going on with her room; there was this weird, shadowy entity that was lurking about and seemed to be trying to harm people. The dream transitioned slightly to follow Ash. He was in a sticky situation where he was supposed to battle these three trainers, but he wasn't allowed to get up from this bench and direct his Pokémon in the battle. It was strange; I think it had something to do with Team Rocket. Each trainer had a sole Pokémon, but I only remembered that one trainer had a Dewgong that gracefully danced on the ice it created. I'm pretty sure Brock made an appearance to provide advice. The next thing I could remember was being somewhere with Corliss. It almost felt like we were outside a movie theater because I remember coming across these posters for shows/movies. One of them was for Bleach, and we got into a conversation about it. The dream transitioned to focus on Ichigo. He seemed to be in Hueco Mundo. He was getting ready to fight someone (who wasn't particularly clear) when his Hollow side/spirit came out to confront him. Shinji was with him and was prepared to help him until he realized the Hollow side was confronting Ichigo to make him stronger, so he stayed out of it. The details got a bit fuzzy, but Ichigo seemed to get depressed, losing hope. He threatened to cut off his arm to put an end to it all, as he was tired of fighting. I'm not sure if it was me as a viewer or one of his friends, but someone tried to stop him from slicing off his limb by speaking reason; it turned out to be too late. His arm fell down (they seemed to be up high, sort of like the location Ichigo fought Ulquiorra in Hueco Mundo), landing in the sand. Nel came across the arm, recognizing it immediately, and grew frantic; she grabbed the arm and dashed off to find Ichigo to help/save him. That's all I could remember from my dream when I woke up.

It kind of felt like a time skip when I woke up on Tuesday morning, as if I fell asleep and basically woke right back up again; I was tempted to go back to sleep rather than getting up for before care. My dream recall was a bit fuzzy, too. The little I could remember involved getting together with April and selling artwork online. Otherwise, I didn't remember anything upon waking up. I woke up groggy and tired on Wednesday morning and was tempted to go back to sleep. My dream recall was veiled in a haze, so I didn't remember anything from my dream, either.

I was out of it and half asleep when I woke up on Thursday morning; I almost fell back asleep. My dream recall was fuzzy, but my sister was in it at one point. I think there was something about giving her a birthday present (which makes sense since her birthday was on Thursday). There was another part involving my mom trying to get rid of things and control things (which isn't all that surprising since that's, more or less, what she always does). There were lots of penguin and husky plushies for some reason. My mom had also found a handful of Pokémon cards in a kitchen cabinet for some reason; there were various renditions of Charmander's line, Pikachu, and others I couldn't remember. Another part involved the kids from before care, but I think it was after care, although, it was at some new location that wasn't the school. My art buddy was getting picked up, and she had enjoyed hanging out with us. There was something about voting on what movie/show to play for the kids. While InuYasha made the list, my boss said we couldn't play it because it was too violent/scary for kids. I think My Hero Academia made the list, too, but she didn't make any comment about it being too scary for kids (the fights can get pretty intense). I think I went to a store and found anime t-shirts at another point. That's all I could remember upon waking up.

I woke up completely exhausted Friday morning, and it was quite the challenge to get up and go to before care. My dream recall was nonexistent, but it seemed like a lot happened in my dream. I woke up not too tired on Saturday morning, but my dream was veiled in a haze. I think there was something about hair loss, but, otherwise, I couldn't remember anything.

When I woke up this morning, it felt like a lot happened in my dream. From what I could remember it started off with me being in like a foresty area (perhaps another world). This small group took me to this cave system that happened to be part of a volcano and seemed to be used as a prison. Dangerous individuals seemed to be kept locked away in there. One being kept escaping; they didn't seem human as they could smell people that were large distances away. The group wanted my help with something, and as I was helping, there was some kind of broadcast about how they had recaptured that other being and were locking them up. I noticed it being played live on some sort of television screen. As the being calmly remarked they would be free again, they took a breath, catching a familiar scent. Apparently, they knew me somehow and started commenting on how they knew I was there and how they would see me eventually, one way or another. The being was cut off as they were sealed away with a giant boulder. There was some other prisoner that was some kind of giant lava ant the size of at least a bus. It was in big trouble for some reason and ended up getting reabsorbed into molten lava. I ended up leaving with one of the members of the group as he guided me back towards a village/settlement. As we traveled down the mountain, he remembered seeing something cool before and asked if I'd like to see it instead of going back right away. He started guiding me deeper into the forest, but we ended up getting stopped by a village elder/chief. He asked if he was interrupted, if the two of us were on a date. I waved it off, stating that we were on a walk to soothe the soul after the prison visit (although maybe the guy acting as my guide wanted it to be a date). The elder/chief had stopped us in what sort of seemed to be a quarry. There a few others exploring the area. There seemed to be a weird energy fluctuation, like a distortion. This subway-like train appeared suddenly. Everyone else was curious about it, but I was wary of it, getting a bad feeling about it. They put a stick on it, and when the train thing returned, the stick had changed. It now seemed larger and had some kind of growth on it, like a moss or fungus. They were thinking about climbing aboard it to learn more, but my instinct was screaming not to. This little girl, resembling my art buddy from before care, tried boarding it to learn where it went. I pulled her off when I noticed, clinging to her to prevent the train thing from taking her; it seemed to have a will of its own and didn't want to release her, trying to suck her back in. While I was saving the girl, another kid boarded. As the train was leaving, my heart sank. The train then seemed to broadcast what transpired through some sort of projection or visual telepathy. I began crying, instinctively knowing only suffering awaited the kid. The train had reached some other time-space dimension, and huge crowds awaited the kid on both sides. The train had turned into a small boat on this artificial stream path, and the crowds gathered for their entertainment. They jeered and began chucking things at the kid, feeling superior and wanting to humiliate/hurt their "lesser." The others back at the quarry like place were furious and had us go try to save the kid. I'm not sure if the train even took us to the same place, but there were definitely crowds, waiting for their entertainment. There was some kind of stage with mounds of fake snow. That's all I remembered upon waking up this morning.

The pair of sisters came up with all sorts of stories this week; the younger sister made up this story about Santa and some kind of magical hole before declaring she was Santa. She was being pretty violent for Santa, though; she kept drawing pictures of her sister, my coworker, and I and then scribbling all over us and/or cutting the drawings with scissors. It was decided that she was actually Krampus. One morning a few of the kids were drawing and coloring. One of the girls got frustrated that she "messed up" her drawing, so she scribbled all over it. I took the "ruined" drawing and decided to make abstract art with it. I grew quite a crowd as I colored the paper with many of them exclaiming how great the art was and wanting to know how I did it. When the girl saw what I turned her "mistake" into, she was blown away; the kids were then inspired to take their "mistakes" and turn them into something new. It was great to see them so inspired and to see them take some of the pressure off of being "perfect." Art is awesome in how you can always "fix" any "mistake" you make by working it into something new; it might not be the end result you initially intended, but you can still create awesome artwork all the same. We started working on more Pokémon drawings for their book, too. One of the kids mentioned a "Ketchup Lord," but I'm not sure what they meant (and they didn't bother explaining it when I asked).

These kids crack me up. They're full of imagination and are the embodiment of the unexpected. They have a strange obsession and constantly embark on the quest to create a girlfriend for my coworker. This has been ongoing the whole school year. This week they created another new girlfriend. When they made their announcement, my coworker remarked, "As long as it's not another princess. They're too high maintenance--always needing to be rescued. I can't keep up with it, and I can't go through that again." The kids upped the ante this week, though, and decided to create him a bride. They got so invested in the wedding, enlisting everyone's help. One of the girls drew Ladybug and Cat Noir from Miraculous, so they could attend the wedding, too. They made posters about the wedding--the fifth grader's poster cracked me up; she wrote that the girlfriend was made out of paper and that my coworker was "real life." Kids started handing out tickets to the event, and some of them acted as security, ensuring that only those with tickets were allowed in--they even created a gate to block entrance until tickets were turned in. They held the wedding outside and made sure my coworker showed up. He decided to humor them, and he pretended to kiss the paper girlfriend for them. As soon as he did, the kids started screaming and running away. It was pretty humorous, especially when one of the fourth graders came up to me, remarking, "Well, the wedding got ruined. Everyone ran away, screaming. So much for that wedding." The after wedding celebration turned out to be a dance party in the rain because it started drizzling. You never know what to expect when it comes to these kids, yet it's great to see them having fun with their creativity.

The boys asked about YashaHime and wanted an update, but there was nothing more for me to tell them since the second season concluded. They began telling me about the VR game they've been playing lately; apparently, Vacation Simulator is quite fun. I think they said that you can go to three different destination, but I hadn't heard of the game before, so I'm not entirely sure. They've been playing the game since last weekend, so at the very least they think it's great. We got to talking about vacations; the boys are excited to go back to Disney World, and they said that they would go around Thanksgiving and something about an annual pass (I've never been, but I imagine it basically lets you in whenever). They talked about their past trip to Colorado last summer and were asking where I last visited, which happened to be Colorado last year for my brother's wedding. They wanted to know if I was going on vacation this summer, and I shared that I didn't have any plans as of yet (although my parents and sister are going on an Alaskan cruise).

On Friday afternoon there was some kind of small protest/rally going on during the boys' dismissal. It was over on the sidewalk by the street, consisting of a handful of people (probably around 10). I didn't catch all of what they were saying since I was parked on the carpool pickup circle drive by the school--the only reason I realized anything was going on was because too many of the kids were pulling out their phones and recording the street--but they mentioned something about God, repenting sin, and not knowing peace until you know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It seemed like a gathering to express the first amendment with a megaphone more than anything, and there was a cop nearby keeping an eye on it. We got into some deep discussions on the drive home because of it. The boys were confused why it was going on at the school, thinking that it would be better off at a church; I explained that it was most likely because the group realizes that the youth are the future and that if the next generation is well informed, then the future would be brighter. Apparently, some of the other students were murmuring something about the group being against gays, but from what I could tell that wasn't their objective at all; it led to a discussion about labels, such as "gay" or "straight," and hate crimes. The boys weren't entirely sure what each of those were, so I explained to the best of my ability. One of the boys remarked, "Oh, so 'straight' is being normal." I corrected him, emphasizing that in our society being "straight" is traditional and how there's nothing wrong with being straight or gay; traditional isn't inherently bad but neither is changing and embracing something new/different. It was an interesting way to kick off the weekend.

Tsuki's such a nut. She's enjoyed snuggling, especially when there was a drastic drop in temperature and snow. She also enjoyed investigating the desk and knocking everything over. Tsuki made the most of the warm weather, spending afternoons out on the porch and savoring the sunshine. She had fun playing with her interactive snake toy and napped in her cat chair. She did get scared while a guy was over working on the bathroom, but, otherwise, she had a blast this week.

I started out this new program to get free stuff online through rebates; it's called Rebaid, and it's pretty neat. They have various offers on products; they amount of a certain product offered varies, but I found some cool stuff to try out. Not everything is with a full rebate, but considering the times we find ourselves in, it's nice to save some extra money where we can. I learned about it from The Selling Family; they sent out an informational email about how they receive free stuff from Amazon, and I was curious about it. Feel free to check it out!

Artwork for this week included more Perler star constellations:

I did more writing, reading, and anime watching this week. I wrote this new story, Returning with a Vengeance, based off an interaction with my art buddy in before care. She was super excited to share her Spring Break fun with me before embarking in creative, pretend play. She has quite the imagination. Feel free to read it and share your thoughts! I'm also open to suggestions and recommendations for future stories! I have other pieces in the works, so stay tuned for more stories! Fanfic for the week: Price of Immortality, Ninety Days, Twilight's Embrace, Flustered, and How I Melted His Cold Heart. I watched season 1 of Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun! It was rather interesting, and I love the character interactions--they're freaking adorable. The last episode left off with quite the cliffhanger, so I'm curious to see how they continue the story. The confrontation between Iruma and Kirio was rather powerful and felt quite relevant to the turbulent times we currently find ourselves in. Kirio, baffled, exclaims, "Everything important to you will be gone--there'll be nothing left! All because of something you made! After all this crap I just dumped on you, why aren't you knee-deep in despair?" Iruma has chosen not to let the outside world dictate his life, though. He explains, "Despair is a waste of time. Nothing good comes of it. I've been through hell in my life, so I'm used to it, you know? Despairing won't change the situation or fulfill me. I make my own happiness. All my life I tried as hard as I could to avoid danger, but since coming here, I've learned to challenge myself. That's why, even if you are evil, I won't run away. I won't despair. I'll shatter your ambition. You can't go through with it." This makes absolutely no sense to Kirio; he can't fathom how this is possible. Kirio thinks, "He refuses to despair? Does someone like that actually exist? And he thinks he can shatter my ambition?" With the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, despair can loom over many people. We can learn from Iruma's example, however, and choose for ourselves how we want to live our lives. Despair can seem indominable, but you can surprise yourself with what exactly you can accomplish.

Things are kind of chaotic right now, with the economy, inflation, shortages, family drama, etc. They're certainly not easy times to live in, but that doesn't mean we need to despair. We can rise up to the challenge, like Iruma, and do our best. If we never try, we'll never know what we can do. We're often way more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. We can create happy, abundant lives for ourselves. It make time some time and fine-tuning, but it is possible. It's not a pipe dream. It's not a fantasy. It can be our reality if we give ourselves the chance. Please, be gentle with yourselves and allow yourself time to rest and have fun. Times, especially like these, can lead to burnout, which does no one any good. Take things one step at a time and follow your heart. The universe wants to give us blessings, but we often think (subconsciously) that we aren't worthy or that it's impossible. Give yourself a break and embrace your passion. See where it leads you. Let your light shine. I can't wait to see all the bright light you have to offer. Stay blessed with love and light, everyone~

Food for thought from Ralph Smart:

Food for thought for the week:

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