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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We're in the final stretch of 2021, and it's so hard to believe! We'll blink, and 2022 will be knocking on our doorstep. Wishing you all a very happy holiday season! I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas enjoyed the holiday! Tsuki wishes everyone a very happy holiday season! We got together with some family, and it was pretty fun. I had a blast chatting with my younger cousin (he's 10). We talked about very songs, and "The Duck Song" came up, which caused us both to sing it (I learned about it years ago from my cousin who's now 18). It was a lot of fun. My cousin was pretty creative and started making up stories. He was telling me all about "Catnam." It started with Great Catain. Cat George the 3rd was charging too much for catnip. The cats were eating chicken nuggets, but once the catnip became too pricey, they stopped. They rebelled in Meowington and tossed all the catnip into the harbor. It led up to the 52nd Cat War where there was an intense shortage of milk. Each of the Cat Wars were over milk. The battles were fierce. It was rather interesting to listen to, and it's are really intriguing story premise. I might explore it one day for a short story.

My dream was kind of all over the place Monday morning, and parts were hazy. The first thing I remember was babysitting the boys I normally do. Their mom was there, and apparently she had twins. She was telling me something about how after the twins she was unable to have any more kids. There was another part involving dragons and the characters from How to Train Your Dragon (the dream might have transitioned with the boys watching the new How to Train Your Dragon series). They were on some sort of island, but the specifics were hazy. Another part of the dream involved some sort of challenge. There were 3 different teams working on it. It seemed like teams had to figure out the challenge on their own. I noticed that one of the teams completely ignored/had no clue about the second component of the challenge and asked them if they had seen it. They were surprised to learn there was more to the challenge and went to complete it. More happened with the challenge, but the next thing I recalled was celebrating my sister's birthday. We were at McDonald's of all places, gathering with her various friends. I was sitting with my parents and brothers as my sister was swarmed with various other. Her friends were kind of loud and obnoxious, but I was minding my own business. That's when the friends started trash talking me. They weren't being quiet about it, and I decided not to put up with it, choosing to leave rather than be exposed to their toxicity. As I was leaving, something weird was going on with the drive thru with a bunch of people standing there, blocking it and waving people on. I think my parents and brothers left somewhat after that. The dream transitioned, and my mom's cousins or friends or something were with us someplace outside. Apparently I was working on some kind of banner or something. I wasn't finished, but my mom started bragging to them about my work, lettering, and flowers on the banner. More happened, and I was talking to some kind of mermaid or fairy about their magic cube/dice, requesting their assistance. Apparently, the dice/cube could determine different passwords and such, and the mermaid/fairy was happy to help me. That's all I remembered upon waking.

It felt like a lot happened in my dream, but most of it was veiled in a murky haze when I woke up Tuesday morning. The part I remembered was where this lady was not doing so well on the career front/business world, and she couldn't figure out why; she was a stellar candidate and an irreplaceable addition to any team. The others were apparently looking down on her because she was female. Someone recommended she get a new rep. Her current rep happened to be a guy and wasn't doing her justice. They recommended she find a female rep that would fight for her. She went to search for someone. She met this pretty lady, who took names and kicked butt, on a plane. She tried to get this confident lady to be her rep. She asked where the lady was from. While the lady was friendly, she was pretty elusive when it came to answering questions about her past. The dream turned into a flashback of her past. As a little girl the lady had basically been abandoned. She had been with her mom at some kind of dump. She had slipped and begged her mom, crying, for her to help her out. The mom basically gave her the cold shoulder, ignoring her and walking away, as if to "teach her a lesson" for being a "bad" kid. She kept crying out for help, but no one, not even the bystanders, would help her out of this like ditch. The trash started getting smashed together, causing her pleas for help to grow frantic. She got locked inside a cube of trash. The bystanders were shocked speechless. It was only when the mom noticed the garbage cube that she tried to do anything, but by then it was too late. The little girl was taken to the dump. She managed to free herself from the cube but was anxious about her new surroundings. A group of kids found her (around 6 in number), and she was taken with them to a rather fancy house. A little boy around her age and his maid had been providing food and shelter for the other kids and now her. The little boy stressed not going into other parts of the house, though. His father had no idea what they were up to. They became fast friends and became like family. She finally felt like she had a place to belong. They were playing on the beach one day when the father suddenly showed up. He was pissed and forced the little boy to cut ties with all the other kids. At this point there was nothing the boy could do (he was maybe around 7 years old). He forced the boy to essentially betray all the others, locking them out and cutting them off from what had been their home. The father even slaughtered the pig that had been a pet to all of the kids, including his son. The group had kids had snuck inside, trying to figure out what was wrong/why things suddenly changed right before I woke up.

It felt like a lot happened in my dream again, but I only recalled one part upon waking up on Wednesday morning. It started with Sesshomaru looking for some elusive merchant that had rare goods. He wasn’t having the best look hunting down the merchant and was getting a bit frustrated (not that he let it show on his face, though). Another yokai, who happened to be a female with white hair in an up-do resembling the kimono girls from Pokémon’s gen 2 games, noticed Sesshomaru and his struggle. She decided to assist him after a giggle. She lifted her fan and pointed out the direction to head in to find the merchant. Sesshomaru acknowledged her assistances with a nod. He ended up finding the merchant. Apparently, there were conditions to being able to track down and see the merchant—something about you had to know life and death (or more specifically be able to see death). The entrance was unusual and transported him to some other dimension. I didn’t get to actually see the merchant or his store, but Sesshomaru returned with his arms full of a bunch of goods. It turned out that I was kidnapped and being held prisoner. Not particularly sure why. I was in the corner, prevented from leaving. A guy came out, and it was this boy I went to elementary school with, TJ. He was insistent on showing me something (I think he was supposed to be a guard to make sure I didn’t leave). He really wanted me to see this taser that he kept activating, although it wasn’t as a threat or anything hostile. He wanted me to see how cool it was or something when it was activated with electricity. I tried to gently push his arm away because I didn’t feel all that comfortable with it (or the fact that he kept pointing it at me when he wanted me to look at it). There was a big commotion when Sesshomaru appeared. My middle school gym teacher came out, and it seemed like he was the one in charge, making him the one who was holding me prisoner for whatever reason. Sesshomaru shoved all the goods at him, stating that it was for my freedom, so I was now free to go. I was excited and skipped out of my corner and away from TJ with his taser.

The surroundings then seemed to be a school gym. A bunch of people came out, and it seemed like all those school assemblies from back in the day. Sesshomaru was now a different person (human I think—at least he looked human) with short, dark hair. I didn’t recognize the guy upon waking, but I seemed to know him in the dream (not sure if that was because he had been Sesshomaru, who had just rescued me, or not). The guy had a pretty commanding presence amongst the new swarm of people, announcing something about a “clap trap” (it seemed to be sort of like the Cup Song with claps and whatnot and sort of like a dance, but I had never heard of it before). Everyone started doing it, but I was left unsure of what was going on. Everyone else did it synchronized, and I was left stunned at my surroundings. The guy led me up to the stage and pulled out a VHS tape. I was confused but willing to see where all of it was going. It started playing on a huge screen that suddenly appeared, beginning with a title reading something along the lines of “Friends for Life.” A montage that seemed to be focused all about me started playing with clips of videos, starting all the way back to childhood. Some of the video clips seemed like they were feasible, like someone had recorded them back in school, but others left me wondering how the guy got them. Some of the clips were from family gatherings or when I was hanging out with friends when I know for a fact that no one was recording, so it left me stumped. There was a clip of April and I at the store. Corliss was excitedly shouting in the background when clips of us being silly and hanging out would appear (also saying something else about Taylor Swift, but I didn’t remember exactly what upon waking). I was feeling rather embarrassed with the focus of so many people on me—I’ve never been all that good at being the center of attention, especially when it comes to crowds. Even so, I wasn’t exactly upset about the gesture; it was really sweet. I remembered bumping my head lightly into the guy’s shoulder, kind of shy and bashful yet appreciative of the effort. There was a clip of a college graduation (which upon waking, makes no sense because while I have a Bachelors and Masters degree, I didn't want to go through the whole laborious ordeal of graduation again). The guy made some comment about how that makes him feel awkward that I have two degrees or something, like I'm so much smarter than him or something. Apparently, he hadn't known. I smiled and pointed out that it changed nothing; he hadn't felt that way before he found out--the only thing that changed was the fact that he learned about it. He had been fine right before he learned it, but I still had the degrees then. We got along great and had no issues, so there was no point to feel awkward about the degrees--it didn't matter. He blinked and realized I was right, so it no longer bothered him. Some new man came onto the stage with this fancy microphone setup and got the guy to come onto the stage. There was now some kind of The Lion King special singing type deal. The man was prompting the guy to say, “Hold on.” This was alluding to Mufusa telling Simba to hold on when he was dangling from that tree during the stampede, I do believe. There was another microphone in front of me, and the man prompted to start singing “The Circle of Life.” I did but a bit quietly, and the rest of the audience was immediately singing the song with the man’s prompting. The man cut everyone off, stating that it was good, but not what he was looking for. He gestured to everyone else, declaring that it was not in the budget while looking directly at me—indirectly stating that I was the only one that was supposed to be singing because that’s what the guy had paid for: a special moment for the two of us. I was still feeling embarrassed and a bit reluctant, yet I wasn’t opposed to it; I was kind of excited about it. The whole thing seemed to be focused around the lyrics, “Til we find our place on the path unwinding.” It seemed like it was building up to something pretty monumental, but I was startled awake at that point and never got to see the conclusion, which was a bit disappointing.

I only recalled one part of my dream upon waking Thursday morning. Corliss and I were at some store (not sure which), and we were browsing the aisles. We came across these essential oil rollers. They had some sort of deal where if you bought 3, you got 2 free. The oils felt super important and as if they were spiritually supercharged. A number of them had spiritual names, too; the one I could remember was called Cosmic Wisdom. More happened in the dream, but the particulars were fuzzy when I woke.

My dream recollection was kind of fuzzy from Thursday night/Friday morning. There was something about Tarzan. There was some point being made about how Kala protected him. There was Turk and some other ape with Tarzan. Turk was there by choice; while the other one seemed to like them, he was some kind of slave and was there by force rather than choice. Turk was apparently a princess and wore outfits to make a point/be silly. The other one was required to wear this blue (kind of like a sailor suit) outfit. Tarzan tried to jump off this massive cliff into this tiny body of water. Kala wasn't having any of it. I think more happened, but the last thing I kind of remember is being at some sort of school with my art buddy from before care. Everything else was veiled in a hazy fog.

I woke up on Christmas morning remembering two main parts of my dream (even though a lot more happened). The first part involved some sort of invitation. There was some sort of gathering where a select group of people would be able to ask questions. It seemed like the answers would be provided by the universe/source/the divine. Each person was able to ask a total of six questions: three about "good" things in their life and three about "bad" things in their life. The questions could be about anything of their choosing, understanding why certain things played out a certain way in the past, what blessings would be heading their way, when certain things would happen, what obstacles would be presented to them, the reasoning behind events, etc. Any question was fair game; ask the question and the answer would be yours. There were no "take backs," though. If you asked a question while talking with others, it counted regardless of whether you wanted it to be one of your six. I was very aware of this fact and was extra vigilant and mindful of what I said. I wanted to determine the most useful questions to ask that would be the most helpful and beneficial to me. While there was plenty I would like to know, having the answers to some of them wouldn't do me much good because it wouldn't change anything. I reflected deeply on questions to ask while conversing. I didn't remember asking any questions in the dream, but a chunk of it feels like it was blocked out. Maybe I'm not ready for the answers. The next thing I recalled was being at some sort of school. One of my college art instructors was leading the class, and a handful of classmates from high school were there. The class wasn't very big; there was probably about ten people there. The class was focusing on short stories. We were supposed to identify three things we did well with the current story we were each working on and three areas that could improve. I discussed stories with two of the girls in my class, Sammie and Heather. Apparently, we had sent away they stories to some company to be bound and published like legit picture books. I was flipping through mine when I noticed that one page was repeated three times in a row. I found it odd and didn't remember putting it in like that. The instructor gave us an eight minute break before we would come back as a whole class to discuss the stories and our small group discussions. I think more happened, but that's all I remembered upon waking.

My dream was kind of fuzzy, but I remembered a couple of parts. There was a part involving babysitting and chocolate. Another part had my sister go to some huge, busy, special event at the zoo. At one point I was driving with my window down, and a kid threw a kickball into the car. I ended up giving the boy a ride home and tried to give his mom a heads up that he could get in big trouble (or even hurt someone) if he persisted, but she couldn't really understand me because apparently she was learning the English language. Later I was hanging out with Corliss. She asked if I would order some new Neopet toy for her niece, assuring me that she would pay me back. There were three color options, yellow, blue, or purple, and she wanted me to get the yellow one. She stopped by my house, and before she left, Tsuki snuck outside. That's all I could remember.

There was no before care this week due to the winter break, and while I missed the kids, I definitely enjoyed sleeping in. I adore those kids, but 5 am is early. I've gotten fairly used to it, but I wouldn't mind sleeping in longer.

It was a short yet fun week of babysitting. The boys had half days on Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday starting their winter break; we spent the first day of their break together and had lots of fun. They enjoyed discussing InuYasha/YashaHime theories. They wanted their weekly update on YashaHime, inquiring if InuYasha and Kagome were freed yet. I did inform them that the preview made it seem like Moroha might be going to see them soon since it looked like she was holding a black pearl. They informed me that one of their friends had sown their own InuYasha costume recently, which is a rather impressive feat. The older of the two started looking up InuYasha merch he could buy with his leftover birthday money. We also got to discussing fanfic; they asked if they always followed the InuYasha storyline. I let them know that some of them do, but others are AU (Author's Universe), taking place in modern day Japan, taking creative liberties with characters, etc. I gave the example of the fanfic where Kagome was a hacker for a company, wreaking havoc, and gets roped into being Sesshomaru's secretary, decorating his office with kitten posters and the like (I think it was called Heart Hacking). They thought that sounded hilarious. They wanted to know if all of the fanfics were funny, and I told them that some were, but the most recent one I stumbled upon had Sesshomaru get into an accident, go into critical condition, and ultimately die. The boys felt bad for me since Sesshomaru is my favorite character and wanted to cheer me up, asking if I was sad. I'll admit it wasn't particularly my kind of ending, but I told the boys that as the author and creator, they had the right to call the shots--readers aren't always going to agree with the opinion/perspective of the author. I wasn't particularly sad, but that's probably because it wasn't cannon and since I didn't witness it happen. Would have been a different story if I was subjected to witness such a scene in InuYasha/YashaHime. Probably wouldn't have taken it all that well. They watched more funny clips from SK8 the Infinity, and the clips had us rolling with laughter. We also discussed holiday movies/specials, such as our favorites to watch every year. They wanted to discuss the Island of Misfit Toys and whether or not the toys there were actually "misfits" or not. Frankly, I never saw anything "wrong" with the spotted elephant--the spotted elephant was always my dad and my favorite. The boys agreed with me, and they thought that a cowboy riding an ostrich would be super cool. The younger of the two was a bit panicked because he didn't have gifts together for all of his friends for the party Thursday, so I helped him out. I brought over a bag full of crystals (one of his friends is a big rock collector), and then we made Perler bead projects for two of his other friends. While we worked on figuring out what to make, sketched out guides, and assembled the Perler beads, his brother worked on his own sketches to be included in on what we were doing. He wanted to get a specific Funko Pop figure for another friend, which I tried to help him find online to see if it could be picked up in store, but we didn't have much luck by the time their parents got back from work. Hopefully, he finds the gift he's looking for. The boys loved their holiday gifts, and it was a fun way to start break! Seriously, they're so funny. The one was being super slick on Monday, commenting, "So, you said that you were getting Iris Christmas gifts. Does that mean you're getting me some?" I told him I already had some for him, unless of course he wanted me to take them back; he assured me that he didn't want that. Then Tuesday when I picked him up from school, he asked where his presents were, and I told him that I didn't have them because I was watching him tomorrow. He was surprised because he assumed everyone, including his parents, would be starting break. I walked in the door Wednesday morning and was immediately bombarded with, "Can I open my gift?" 🤣 My life would be so dull without these kiddos.

Life would be extra bland without Tsuki, too! She definitely adds color and spice to our lives. She's such a nut. She loved Christmas, getting into a frenzy with the tissue paper, wrapping paper, and her new toys. Tsuki got festive with a jingle bell collar, and she absolutely adores the new pet bed I got her. I'm glad she had a happy first Christmas; she's such a precious treasure and deserves to receive love back for all that she gives.

Bleach is coming back! This trailer definitely builds up the hype. Oh, high school days--Bleach was ever present. 2022 is finally bringing the final arc to anime!

Also super hyped for the Fruits Basket prequel! Hooray for the trailer!

And the My Hero Academia season 6 trailer has my hyped, too!

New goodies arrived from Spiritual Supermall, and it was super excited! They arrived just in time to include them in holiday gifts! I'm also excited for the Sesshomaru blanket I got for Christmas! Plus, my parents decided to give out some lottery tickets, and I happened to win $33, which I wasn't going to complain about.

Here's the art for the week; I made lots of gifts this week for the holiday:

I worked on more writing, reading, and anime watching this week. I wrote a new story, Merry Creepmas!, this week inspired by an interaction I had with one of the kids from before care and his mom about the upcoming holiday. It was a fun idea, and I know that one of the boys I babysit and my younger cousin would love the idea of "Creepmas." 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 this week included: Undying Love, Letters From My Secret Admirer, HAHA April Fools!, and Tears on the Moon. I was super hyped that there was a new episode of YashaHime on Christmas; it was an awesome gift! The story is getting so exciting! Sesshomaru gave Moroha a black pearl to get to InuYasha and Kagome. Granted, if she wouldn't have hesitated so long, Kirinmaru wouldn't have been able to snatch it to blackmail her into stealing the pinwheel. Towa and Setsuna managed to help Zero out, which removed Rin's curse, so she's finally safe and freed from the tree. It had me squealing for joy; Rin can finally hug her girls. This week's episode was full of feel goods, and I eagerly look forward to next week (here's hoping they don't take a break for New Years)!

I watched season 4 of Aggretsuko with Tsuki this week. Fear interferes in Retsuko and Haida going for what they want. Fear prevents them from taking even a step forward into the unknown, clouding things and making things awkward. While both are looking to try a relationship, a lack of confidence prevents them from moving forward, waiting for the other to take that first step. Their friends and coworkers do their best to assist them. Ookami points out, "If she waits for perfect, nothing is ever gonna happen." Much like how Moroha's indecision caused more issues for her in regards to finding and meeting her parents, we need to take action if we want to see any kind of results. Sure, sometimes things might "fall onto your lap," but if you never do anything or speak up, odds are you won't get what you want. Season 4 illuminates the fine line of receiving approval from others and being true to yourself; while it can feel great to receive praise from others, we shouldn't let it blind us and alter us from what we feel is right. Once we start down the path of altering ourselves for others, it's a slippery slope.

I watched Dreamworks Dragons: The Nine Realms this week, and I enjoyed it. It's some interesting worldbuilding they've done with the Dragons universe having it set in modern day. Granted, so far I prefer the original, but this sequel is good, too. There have been multiple nods to the original, too, which I appreciated. It's a shame that only 6 episodes are out right now--I look forward to more new episodes and seeing how they continue the storyline.

2021 approaches its conclusion. A lot has changed over the past two years, and it feels like 2022 will bring big changes of its own. Here's to an awesome finale of 2021 and a wonderful new year! Take care, be gentle with yourself, and prioritize your happiness. The holiday season can be chaotic, but there's no need to stress yourself silly. Breathe, find time to relax, and rest. You are worthy of love, peace, and harmony, so give yourself the chance to embrace and embody them. I wish everyone the best and hope ample opportunities to laugh find you! Be blessed with love and light, everyone~

Food for thought from Ralph Smart on Infinite Waters:

Some food for thought to consider for the week:

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