Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

A Very Bookish Birthday January 18, 2022

Friday was my 36th birthday! I love birthdays! I adore a day where I get to set the plan and pick all the places to eat. Mostly birthdays are about food for me, but this year, I had another theme – books! I’m definitely heading into 2022 and 36 with books on the brain. My birthday plans this year revolved around visiting bookstores in Portland, OR as well as stopping at a few other favorites like Target and Costco. I love a trip to the big city!

My first bookstore of choice was Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. The flagship store of the Powell’s empire is funky and fun. Jeremy helped the boys each pick a new book (their children’s department might be my favorite part of the store) as I wondered quietly through rows of books. If visiting one Powell’s wasn’t enough, I also visited their Cedar Hills location and the Amazon Bookstore. It was a really good day! To be cozy while reading, I updated my sweatshirt wardrobe and came away with a super cute reusable cup from Starbucks. It was a victorious and very Amy shopping day! So many favorite things!

To make our outing a bigger adventure, we opted to spend the night in the city. Our boys are always up for a hotel experience especially if there is a pool! We planned to take off the next morning for Camp 18 in Elsie for breakfast and a day at the beach. However, our beach plans changed due to a tsunami advisory. We still made it to breakfast at Camp 18, because we have priorities, and food is high on the list! Instead of heading to the beach, we ran some errands and took off for home earlier than expected. January has been wild! The first weekend had compact snow and ice still on the ground. The second weekend had flooding and now the third weekend had a tsunami advisory. Kind of makes me wonder what might happen next…

Our trip was sandwiched between family dinners with my parents and Jeremy’s parents. I feel very loved and celebrated! Like I said, food is a big deal for me when it comes to my birthday. I am always grateful when I don’t have to make dinner! The birthday menu (spread out over the weekend – it feels important to say that) included my favorite foods like pizza, orange chicken, mac and cheese, French toast and waffles. Chocolate, lemon, and red velvet cake were also consumed! Plus, a free birthday drink from Starbucks is always a treat!

I’ve also been book shopping online. I pre-ordered a new release from one of my favorite authors, Roseanna M. White. I also placed a Thrift Books order. I will admit that I’ve never been a fan of “used” items, but I’ve recently found a fondness for used books. First, they are cheaper. Books have gotten expensive and buying used gives me more bang for my buck. Also, I now like the look of an aged and well-worn book. Gives me cozy vibes! Thrift Books has quickly become a favorite for me. Not only do I get a great price on used books, but they have a reward system that allows me to earn free books. I’m all about free books!

Okay, indulge me one more bookish moment, I also reorganized my bookshelves yesterday. My system was loosely based on genre and it wasn’t working for me anymore. I decided to arrange alphabetically author. This was fairly simple with fiction because I have so many series’ in my collection. Non-fiction took a bit more work, but I like the finished project. I have room to grow my home library and a logical place for my future purchases. Also, I got rid of quite a bit of dust that was hiding behind all my books, so it was a fresh start in more than one way!

Now that all the big birthday celebrating is behind me, we are looking at a business-as-usual/have-to-be-a-grown-up type week. A three day school week means the workload is heavier and we have to focus more. I have my COVID booster coming up on Thursday. Nothing like heading into the weekend with the potential of feeling crummy. I’m optimistic the good book vibes and leftover birthday cake will carry me through!

My mom is so sweet! She orders me this chocolate cake from Safeway each year and it’s become a birthday tradition. A yummy tradition!
Watching for the streetcar in downtown Portland
Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s Books at Cider Hills Crossing
Thankful for this man! He made my birthday/bookstore dreams come true!
My book haul from Powell’s
Pool time! I’m not a water bug, but after my time in the hot tub, I love watching these guys play!
Enjoying a birthday bundlet!
We love family adventures!
Camp 18 is always an experience!
These are a few of my favorite things! Books from Powell’s, journals and two sweatshirts from Costco, cup and two sweatshirts from Target!
Reading his new Magic Tree house book from Powell’s
Graham was very excited to take his new Christmas game over to Nana & Papa’s. He aske me to take this picture.
Celebrating at Nana & Papa’s House
Graham thought I was making an obstacle course for him with books!
 

Thoughts on Reading in 2022 January 11, 2022

Merry Bookmas! Such a happy sight!

The start of 2022 has mostly been spent at home. Last week was set at a slower pace so we could get back into the school routine. Our weekend plans were slightly altered by local flooding. My childhood home was flooded in 1996 and though I live on a hill now, flooding raises my anxiety level and stirs uncertainty. My appointment to get my COVID booster was rescheduled because the pharmacy was closed due to flooding nearby. Our boys were able to get their second vaccine dose over the weekend as the area reopened. We went into a very empty Safeway afterwards to find celebration donuts. Even though the shelves were almost bare, there were donuts in the case. Praise the Lord!

The major highlight of this last week for me was packages arriving filled with books and book-related things! I used Christmas cash to invest in a Kindle Paperwhite, an assortment of books, and two journals. One journal is a reading journal. I’ve kept lists of what I’ve read yearly, but I’ve never journaled about my reading. I am looking forward to using this journal as a companion to my reading year. It has space to document 100 books and I’ve decided 100 books will be my reading goal for 2022.

I’ve been thinking about my reading life – what it’s looked like and what I want it to look like. In 2020 and 2021, I read more books than I ever expected. To expand beyond my limited home library, I’ve taken to following the recommendations of others. This habit of asking around has led me to many books that I loved and some I didn’t. I wish that books came with ratings like movies. If a book has too much language, violence, darkness, or sex, it makes me uncomfortable. I had a light bulb moment as I was reading in my new book journal (My Reading Life: A Book Journal by Anne Bogel). Anne suggested that you search for content warnings online before starting a new book. I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me before! I hope to be a more informed reader in 2022. Not to focus on the negative, I read many great books I loved with no reservation. I also don’t share this as judgement of those who might hold different reading tastes than my own. I’ll still be asking for recommendations. I’ll just do more research in advance of placing a library hold.

I mentioned in my last post, I plan to change how I blog about reading. Instead of sharing a short paragraph about each book I read in a month, I’ll change to a list with a star-rating. I’ve started using my Goodreads account again and I plan to use their star-rating system. I have so. many. words. when it comes to books and my monthly posts have gotten too long. I’ll share about my favorite non-fiction and fiction books of the month with reasons why beyond the star-rating. There is a comment section on each post, so if you ever have a question about a book I list, please feel free to ask and we can dive into a deeper conversation on that title.

I am also excited to be a part of a new book club with a few friends (we technically haven’t met yet, but we’re working on it). One of my friends came up with the idea of meeting once a month to talk about books – any book. It could be one we’ve read recently or in the past or one we’re eyeing. It can be hard for moms to all read the same book at the same time and come ready for a discussion. This will take the pressure off of finding material we all like and completing it on a timeline. I love hearing about what others are reading and I can see my to-be-read list growing as a result. I also love talking about my current reads. I’m positive this will be a good outlet for me in more than one way!

As you can see, I’ve thought quite a bit about reading in 2022. I want to be intentional with my reading and my time. I read for both pleasure and growth. I want to have a diverse reading life. Some of the most impacting books I’ve read have been by people very different from me. Seeing the world through their lens has been life-altering. I don’t want to shirk from books that make me uncomfortable. I just want it to be for the right reasons. All this talk about books has me excited to share my reading list with you at the end of the month. I’m certainly starting out 2022 with plenty to read. I’m in book heaven! Woo hoo!

It’s been a slow photo week. But in the theme of books, this is the new book we are using for art. The kids love Mo Willems and they are having fun drawing their favorite characters!
Jeremy made homemade soup and bread on Friday! Very impressive and tasty!
Wrapping up dose number two! So proud of these brave kiddos!
 

Happy New Year! January 4, 2022

We made it to 2022! This week is back to school for the boys and I and back to work for Jeremy. We loved our month of December with Jeremy on sabbatical. Our family had so much fun with all the Christmas activities and celebrations. Like most, we weren’t ready for the vacation vibes to end. We have an intentionally quiet week at home to help us ease back into routine.

We wrapped up 2021 with a shopping trip to Portland. Even though the roads around our house were snow/ice, the freeway was fine and the roads improved as we went south. The stores were hit hard by Christmas, low staff, and low stock. The snow certainly didn’t help. The boys each got LEGO sets and then we hopped online to shop for the items that were missing in the stores. Mostly, we just wanted a day to get out of the house after a few snow days. Our shopping tradition after Christmas isn’t about the items we purchase, it’s about spending the day as a family in the big city.

Our weekend was all about snow and family. We celebrated my sister’s birthday on New Year’s Eve. Jeremy attached the sled to our riding lawn mower and that became a big hit on Friday and Saturday. We had some of the cousins (and their parents) over on Saturday for games and snow fun. After we played at our house, we dropped the kiddos at Nana & Papa’s house and the parents went to see the newest Spider-Man movie. I haven’t been to the theaters since Frozen II in 2019! It was good to get back to the movies, but I honestly love streaming at home just as much (probably even more). It was a treat to go on a double date and have some kid-free time with other adults – this rarely happens in my world.

As I reflect on 2021, I am grateful. The beginning of the year started quietly with COVID restrictions and stay-at-home orders revived. We celebrated Jeremy turning 40 in the spring with a “spring break” trip to Oregon. We thrived in homeschooling and wrapped up preschool for Graham and 1st grade for Owen with a family celebration at the end of May. Our summer was full of local-ish adventures. We visited the WA/OR coast, Mt. Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We enjoyed swim lessons in the month of August. We started our second year of homeschooling in the fall. The boys turned 8 and 6 in October with family adventure days to the Space Needle and Top Golf. November was our magical trip to Disneyland. December wrapped up the year with Jeremy’s sabbatical filled with family time and Christmas adventures. Despite the hardships of living in a pandemic world, our family experienced so much goodness in 2021.

Thanks to the pandemic, my expectations for goal setting have gone way down. Last year, my goals were to beat my 2020 reading total and to decorate sugar cookies once a month. I succeeded in both those goals and had a blast investing in my hobbies. As I look to 2022, my current goals are to read the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books for the first time. They are on most recommended reading list that I encounter. I’m ready to find out why. I plan to change how I keep track of my reading and how I rate books. I will also tweak how I blog about my reading this year. My one serious goal for 2022 is to get back to church in-person. I have reservations about in-person church, but it’s important that our kids get back into a faith community. Because of homeschooling, it will be beneficial for them to be in a classroom environment with peers again.

That about does it! Wrapping up 2021, welcoming 2022. I don’t know what’s on the horizon for 2022. I am believing that the same goodness I found in 2020 and 2021 will be present in 2022. God’s faithfulness never falters. Life has taken unexpected turns with the pandemic, but I’ll just keep doing the best I can with what I’ve got. God can work with that. He makes up the difference. I can go into 2022 knowing that God goes with me – before me, beside me, behind me. I am not alone and I can do this with him.

Introduced the kids to World Market. The boys fell in love with this chair. Our big purchase from this store was coconut syrup from Hawaii.
Post shopping LEGO building
Checking on the chickens
Blue skies and tractor rides
Making memories with the cousins
Movie date!
My 2021 goal of decorating cookies!
 

What I’ve Been Reading – December 2021 December 30, 2021

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 11:33 am
Ending the year at 178 books read. I beat my goal of 138 which was one more than my 2020 total. I beat my new goal of 175. I have no clue if I will ever read this many books in a year again, but I am so thankful for this reading year. Reading has taken on a new level of meaning in my life and is truly one of my greatest passions.
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – This Swedish author and his novels came highly recommended. His name and this title were popping up again and again in my reading circles. I really enjoyed this book and I plan to read more of his work. I will say that the novel started slow for me and unfolded like a mystery or a puzzle. I wanted all the pieces to come together faster and that is how this book hooked me. The cast of characters is unexpected and original. I was crying by the end. It all wrapped up so beautifully and yet I didn’t want it to end.
  • The Christmas Cat, An Irish Christmas, All I Have to Give, The Christmas Dog, A Simple Christmas Wish, Christmas in the Alps by Melody Carlson – I tried to read as many Christmas novels as I could this month. As a result, I barely watched any of the Hallmark Christmas movies. I just couldn’t manage both. Sorry, Hallmark! Melody Carlson’s Christmas novels are short, sweet, and heart-warming. The same vibes of a Hallmark movie with slightly more plot. These novels helped grow my reading total by quite a bit because I could read through them in less than a day.
  • Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis – This looks like a holiday/wintertime novel from the cover. There is a snowstorm that leads to the main characters meeting, but really no holiday vibes. I enjoyed the plot of this novel. It was well-developed and interesting. However, it was a bit too PG-13 for my taste. It was a good story, but left me disappointed in parts.
  • Finding Father Christmas, Engaging Father Christmas, and Kissing Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn – I own these as eBooks and decided to purchase used copies to add to my RJG collection. I’ve been a huge fan of Gunn since middle school and my bookshelf is full of her novels. I felt these works needed to join my home library. These Christmas stories are a favorite that I will return to in the future for both Christmas and mystery vibes.
  • Echoes & Sunsets (The Glenbrooke Series Books 3 & 4) by Robin Jones Gunn – While waiting for books to arrive at the library, I reached for The Glenbrooke Series to keep me reading. I read the first two books last month and I’m now halfway through the series (for probably the 5th or 6th time). This series is my comfort reading of choice. With the small town of Glenbrooke being the connection point for all these stories, I love the world that Gunn creates and how she brings her characters together.
  • Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson – A friend brought this book over for me to look at and I promptly requested it from the library. This book is all about the power of reading and what books can do to transform our lives (which totally speaks to my soul). It’s also filled with book recommendations. Since there were so many book lists included, I might have to pick up my own copy to use as a reference when I need a new title.
  • Sweet Right Here by Jenny B. Jones – I’ve enjoyed Jones’ novels, but this one wasn’t one of my favorites, if I’m being honest. I love the Sugar Creek cast of characters that Jones has created. I’m all about revisiting fictional communities and adding layers to stories I’ve already read. This romantic comedy felt a bit superficial in the attraction of the main character. The storyline around veterans, therapy, and unresolved father issues added depth to the story and salvaged the more shallow moments for me.
  • The Complete Christmas Stories by L.M. Montgomery – I got this collection of short Christmas stories for free on my Kindle app. It’s a personal goal to read all things written by LMM, so I added this to my Christmas reading list. The first short story wasn’t a happy Christmas tale, but the rest were inspiring, humorous, and uplifting.
  • The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo – This YA Christmas novel takes place a tourist town where a famous movie was filmed. The tourist details set up many of the activities featured in the book and create the work environment for the cast of characters. The two main characters have secret interests which they discover about each other when they accidently grab the wrong phone. This novel was sort-of-holiday-ish and had a good message about being honest, especially with those you love.
  • The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss – A women decides to put herself out there through a dating organization that sets up 12 dates before Christmas. The dates as you can imagine turn out to be a disaster and in the plot twist we all saw coming from the start, the main character finds that love was under her nose the whole time (not a spoiler, the back of the book says so). I enjoyed moments of this book, but it was too PG-13 for my liking.
  • Begin Again: The Brave Practice of Releasing Hurt and Receiving Rest by Leeana Tankersley – This book was on a recommended reading list for Enneagram Type Ones. I watched a MOPS talk by this author a few years ago so I decided to give the book a try. It was honest, deep, and healing. It felt like a sacred conversation. The philosophy of “always we begin again” was enlightening for me as I process engaging again in a world changed by the pandemic.
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks―Super Easy!: 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More by Ree Drummond – No joke, I read Ree’s cookbooks from cover to cover before I cook from them. She is hilarious and her cookbooks include so much about her life and family, not to mention the pictures! Her cookbooks are an experience even if you never make a single recipe. I adore the concept of super easy with store bought shortcuts and simplified recipes. I’m not a great cook, but PW inspires me (or at least entertains me)!
 

A White Christmas December 28, 2021

Filed under: Family Time,Parenthood — Amy Scott @ 6:00 pm

The week has been full of Christmas celebrations and snow! I put all those cookie cutters I mentioned last week to good use and made sugar and gingerbread cookies. It was fun to decorate them all with different frosting colors, icing tips, and sprinkles! I loved the variety!

On Christmas Eve, the boys opened their presents from Jeremy and I. They both dove into their new books and we played their new board games as a family. It makes my heart happy to see gifts being appreciated. We attended a candlelight Christmas Eve gathering at church. Even though Jeremy is on sabbatical this month, we went to support Nana and Aunt Patty in the bell choir which performed before and during the gathering. Christmas Eve also featured a matinee of The Polar Express and breakfast burritos for dinner (a holiday classic, right?).

Christmas morning came early for us… and not because of kids eager to open presents. It started to snow overnight and this led to a power outage at 2:40am. Since we sleep with fans for white noise, we all wake up when the power goes out. The house becomes too quiet and suddenly we can hear all the house noises. Who knew that silence could be so loud? We struggled to sleep and got up at 7:00am to a very dark and chilly house. The boys opened their stockings from Santa by flashlight. Jeremy got the generator running so he could make coffee and we could use the microwave for cinnamon rolls. The power turned on about 8:40am which gave us enough time to take hot showers before heading out for the day. Our drive down the hill was a bit snowy, but once we hit the main roads, it was fine. We spent Christmas day at my grandma’s house with family. We left a bit earlier than we originally planned, but we wanted to make it home in the daylight before ice and snow made the drive a challenge.

On Sunday, we celebrated Christmas with the Scott family. The drive to Nana & Papa’s house was slow thanks to more snow and ice overnight. We had breakfast together before diving into a very LEGO Christmas (for the kids). Nana is super talented and made pajamas for the whole family. We took a special family picture in our new comfy clothes. We played some games, nibbled on leftovers, and tried to find a place to sled. It was very picturesque to have a White Christmas celebration with family. If only the snow didn’t make traveling so tricky. We stayed for an early dinner and said farewell before dark for better travel conditions.

Our plans for shopping after Christmas have been postponed. It’s our tradition to head down to Portland after Christmas to spend our Christmas cash. With the roads being compact snow and ice and the freeway being tricky in parts, we’ve decided that shopping isn’t a necessity. We can wait for better conditions. After a couple of days traveling in snowy weather, it’s been nice to enjoy a few snow days at home. The boys have happily built their new LEGO sets and played with them for hours. Between the snow and LEGOs, we’ve been well entertained.

I didn’t really believe we were going to have a white Christmas, but it did indeed happen. It was pretty and magical, but also a bit of a hassle. It certainly made for a memory! Especially the Christmas day power outage! We actually lost power again for an hour and half yesterday morning as well. Now I’m praying throughout the day – partially thanking the Lord for heat and asking that the power please stay on! We have plans for the rest of the 2021. We’ll see if the snow continues to change them or if we’ll end the year with bit more activity!

Christmas cookie fun!
Opening presents on Christmas Eve morning
Playing games
Candlelight Christmas Eve Gathering
Opening stockings by flashlight
A chilly and dark Christmas morning!
Thankful the power came on before we left for GG’s house!
Christmas at GG’s house
Christmas with the Scotts
Modeling our Nana jamas
Snow Day!
Making memories
Jeremy’s snowman
 

Welcome Winter December 21, 2021

Filed under: Family Time,Homeschool Adventures,Parenthood,Simply Me,Travels — Amy Scott @ 6:24 pm

It’s officially winter! Now the weather actually matches the season. It’s been so cold and it looks like it’s about to get colder in the PNW. Everyone in western Washington is holding their breath, wondering if we’ll have a White Christmas. My weather-obsessed hubby is actively following the forecast and sharing all kinds of updates with me. I’m of the I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it mentality. The idea of a White Christmas sounds cozy and picturesque, but honestly, it will mess with my plans, so the snowflakes can hold out a bit. I’ll welcome them around the 28th (as if the weather would take my plans into consideration – ha).

I’m coming off an organization high. I realized this afternoon that I’ve purchased 21 new cookie cutters this month. I might have a problem. My cookie cutter drawer needed an overhaul to make room. I parted with a few to make everything fit… but I will admit those were duplicates…. which begs the question – how many gingerbread people, snowflake, tree, or star cookie cutters does one person need? My current answer is many… but I’m working on it. Along the lines of organization, we picked up more storage cubes for the boys’ closet. Jeremy assembled them this morning and I’ve been reworking the closets this afternoon. It’s the time of year to consolidate and/or purge. I often try to make space for new toys before the holidays. When it comes to potential clutter, I like to be proactive. I’m a firm believer in every item having a home and now the kids closest can accommodate more stuff. I love getting rid of things and making space in my house, but I also very much understand stuff management. Good storage lets you keep the stuff you love in a useful and practical way.

So, what have we been up to? This last week has been a fun one. We’ve had a cookie decorating playdate with friends. We visited my Grandma and drove through a large light display near her house. We finished up school. We are now officially on Christmas break! We went out to breakfast to celebrate on Friday. Saturday was spent shopping for upcoming family gatherings and picking up the aforementioned storage cubes (thank you, Ikea). Sunday, we had our first Christmas gathering with my immediate family. The boys’ Christmas dreams came true when they opened their LEGO Mario and Luigi sets. We enjoyed a pizza lunch before opening presents and bundlets from Nothing Bundt Cakes afterwards. Yesterday, we went up to Snowflake Lane in Bellevue. We met up with friends and the kids adored the parade and “snow” (aka bubbles). It was a chilly, but festive outing. So many good Christmas memories being made!

Now we’re counting down to more Christmas celebrations this weekend. We still have a few Christmas experiences to check off the holiday to-do list. We hope to look at Christmas lights in the area, watch White Christmas, and make Christmas cookies. Then it will be 3 days of Christmas celebrations ending with a shopping day in Portland (as long as the potential snow doesn’t change any plans). We are very excited for this next week! It’s going to be a good one (even if the snowflakes decide to make things interesting)! Maybe we will have a White Christmas after all?

Piping bags filled with colorful frosting gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!
Cookie decorating with friends
I was okay with these snowflakes last week. They were fun to wake up to, but didn’t cancel any plans!
Visiting GG
A yummy confetti bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes. My favorite flavor would be their lemon, but their seasonal peppermint chocolate chip was also good!
The boys enjoyed a very LEGO themed Christmas gathering. LEGOs always keep them busy with building and play! Now I have to be careful to not vacuum them…
Loving the Christmas vibes of these flowers!
Dinner at P.F. Chang’s before Snowflake Lane
Waiting for the parade to start with friends!
Waving at Santa!
The parent crew
They might be bubbles, but they sure do make the moment magical!
Making as many Christmas memories as possible!
December’s cookie cutter haul brought to you by Target!
 

Small Moments Make The Holidays Special December 12, 2021

We’ve slowed the pace down this week. We’ve found a good routine with Jeremy being home on sabbatical. While the boys and I do school, Jeremy does a project around the house. Our garage, well house, files, and master closet are very well organized now. Our afternoons and evenings have been filled with books, music, movies, free play, and hot tub time.

On Wednesday, we drove through a light display in a local park. On Thursday, Jeremy took turns shopping with the boys so they could shop for each other. We also had family over for Chinese take-out. Yum! Our only plans for Friday were to make rice crispy treats and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. Not a bad to-do list!

We got our Christmas cards into the mail this week and the boys’ letters to Santa. The big item on their wish list is LEGO Super Mario sets. I daily do my best to patiently listen to all the joy these sets will bring to their lives.

My childhood Christmas soundtrack was Amy Grant albums. It dawned on me that my children will have “Holiday Favorites” on Amazon Music as their childhood Christmas soundtrack. We are either listening to Christmas music or singing it to yourselves all day long.

We’ve been taking walks to the mailbox to look for packages. It’s been chilly so our walks are quick and motivated. We’ve seen snowflakes multiple times this week. Today we had a light slush stay around for part of the morning.

Friends are coming over tomorrow for a Christmas cookie decorating playdate. I happily baked an assortment of butter cookies, gingerbread, and snickerdoodles this morning. I have cider ready to share with my mom friend while our kids make a mess with frosting and sprinkles. Owen has requested that I let them pipe the icing. We’ll let the icing and creativity flow!

With one more week left of school, the kids are in countdown mode (I might be too). Countdown to Christmas break, countdown to family gatherings, countdowns to outings. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of this last week before it picks up again. It’s been a chance to be present in all the small moments that make this season so special.

Every year I wonder if they’ll be able to keep a secret from each other!
My kitchen helpers!
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a family tradition! The boys’ current favorite Christmas movie is The Grinch (we’ve watched it twice and the original cartoon to compare). For a long time it as The Polar Express (on repeat all holiday season).
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
Let It Snow!
The wonder of snowflakes!
Our Christmas card this year fits the theme of a Disney Christmas!
Cookies ready for decorating and nibbling!
 

The Start of Sabbatical December 7, 2021

As of this last Friday, Jeremy is officially on sabbatical for a month. Our family is thrilled to have extra time together during this festive month. We certainly started this sabbatical off with a bang. On Friday, the boys decorated a gingerbread house while I made gingerbread cookies to take to a moms’ only Christmas party. The kids had a blast with all the sugar. Owen licked the frosting more than he decorated with it. The moms’ only Christmas party included a book gift exchange which is my love language. Being a wild, crazy, kid-free mom, I got home after 11pm (which is unheard of for me these days).

On Saturday, Jeremy’s parents invited the boys over to spend the day with them. Nana and Papa were watching some of the cousins and it was very thoughtful of them to include our boys. The boys love time with cousins family time and it gave Jeremy and I chance to Christmas shop without them in tow. I feel very good about where our Christmas shopping is at now. We started late this year, but it didn’t take us long to get it done…. well… almost done. We have two more gifts to purchase, but in the grand scheme of shopping, that’s not too bad. I had a delightful time selecting wrapping paper to match each family – Disney characters for our boys, LEGO for the cousins, Santa dogs for my family. Jeremy and I savored a yummy lunch out and reveled in the quiet conversations we were able to have while driving.

Sunday started with Christmas lesson and craft that Jeremy brought home from church. We did cocoa bombs (which were a gift from a friend) and then did our advent candles. We did advent in the morning because we planned to be out late that evening. We took off after lunch for Jenny’s Cookie Bake Shop in Lynnwood. I’ve been following Jenny for a year now and I’ve been decorating cookies from her Cookie Class book. It was a dream come true to pick up a treat from Jenny’s and see her bake shop in-person. After cookie munching, we went over to visit my forever friend, Maggie. We had dinner with her family before bundling up to do the Wild Lanterns at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The wild lanterns were so neat!!! Way cooler than the usual Zoolights experience that I’ve come to expect at most zoos. It special visit my friend in her neck of the woods. We are very rarely ever north of Seattle. It was an awesome adventure wandering the zoo with our families.

We were able to keep our school routine yesterday even with Daddy home as a distraction. Jeremy started a burn pile in the yard and it motivated Owen to get school done quickly. We are two days into school with Daddy home, but I think the flow will be Jeremy works on a project while we do school. He is currently reorganizing our garage was I type this. I wonder what project will be next. Yesterday, I had coffee with a friend in the afternoon and then were able to get our boys their first dose of the COVID vaccine. It was a bit complicated getting them an appointment in our area, so I was grateful for the last-minute appointment we snagged. The boys and I hope to return to in-person church attendance in January and this vaccine is a step toward that goal. We celebrated with pizza, cookies, and ice cream!

After a super big weekend filled with holiday fun, our week is looking fairly quiet. We have a few outings we are hopeful to make happen while on sabbatical. Some are weather dependent so we are waiting and watching the forecast. Being on sabbatical means we have flexibility to wait for good weather days. I love getting out and about, seeing people I love, and doing something new. I equally love being snuggled in at home! It’s been a great kick-off to Jeremy’s sabbatical. I’m looking forward to all that still lies ahead!

The Start of Advent
Cocoa Buddies
Starting December off right with a trip to Christa and her train neighborhood.
The Gingerbread House
The Gingerbread Cookies
Christmas shopping date!
Advent with cocoa
A dream come true for this cookie lover!
Enjoying Jenny’s Cookies
A game with friends before Wild Lanterns
Wild Lanterns
Wild Lanterns
Wild Lanterns
Wild Lanterns
So glad our families were able to do this fun outing together!
 

What I’ve Been Reading – November 2021 November 30, 2021

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 4:44 pm
2021 Total to Date: 158 books… Wondering if I can hit 175 before the end of the year!
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society (Book 1) by Trenton Lee Stewart -A friend let me borrow this books at her recommendation. Apparently, there is a Disney+ show based on it. I found this children’s book to be quite suspenseful. It had define secret agent meets child genius vibes. It was a thick book and took a bit of time to finish, but now I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see how the series pans out.
  • No Cure For Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler – Bowler’s memoirs are deeply moving and I highly recommend them. She deconstructions clichĂ©s and faces the truth of life with honesty and resilience. As a cancer survivor, she realizes that life has limitations and good vibes only go so far. Her perspective on self-help as been enlightening for me. I’m thankful for her voice in a culture that says try harder, do more, your best life is right around the corner.
  • Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness by Houston Kraft – Another book recommendation from a friend. I thought this book would be from a Christian perspective, so I was surprised to find it was written by someone who speaks on kindness to middle/high school students in school assemblies. This book was powerful and even though Jesus wasn’t mentioned, Jesus-concepts filled this book. As a parent, I found it inspiring to know that this deep kindness concept is being shared in schools. As an adult, I realized I need this message just as much as the next generation.
  • The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox – Another friend recommendation. You’ll hear that a lot. I very rarely stumble on good books by myself! This holiday book has been popping all over the place in my reading circles. It’s a light, cozy, Hallmark-ish Christmas tale about twin sisters who switch places before the holidays and fall in love. I loved the Christmas vibes.
  • Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace by Osheta Moore – I originally picked up a digital copy of this book from the library, but a few chapters in, I hopped online and bought my own paperback copy. This is a book that I will read again… and again… I watched a MOPS video with Osheta a few years ago and I was drawn her to peacemaking ways. I’m having a hard time nailing this book down in words. It was just so good, insightful, honest, empowering, and life-changing. I would recommended this book to everyone!
  • Secrets & Whispers (The Glenbrooke Series Books 1 & 2) by Robin Jones Gunn – These were my airplane/vacation books. I’ve read them so many times that I knew my brain wouldn’t need to be super focused to follow the plot – and I don’t mean that offensively. They are comfortable, familiar friends. I love that the books in The Glenbrooke series build on each other slightly, but also pass as stand alone novels. As I wait for library books to be available this next month, I hope to weave the rest of the series (six more books) into my reading.
  • Save the Date & His Mistletoe Miracle by Jenny B. Jones – I read these books about the Sinclair twins this summer. I re-read them because I needed books already loaded on my tablet when I finished my paperback on the plane. Again, an already-read book is perfect for the plane since I knew the stories. I’m in the process of getting paperback versions of these books along with the book about their sister, Finley, in There You’ll Find Me. I love a good sibling series!
  • The Perfectionist: Growing as an Enneagram 1 (60-Day Enneagram Devotional) by Elisabeth Bennett – An Enneagram Seven friend said she was enjoying this devotional book for her type, so I decided to pick up one for my type one self. This Enneagram devotional went deeper than the usual surface information I’ve hear about type ones over and over again. I’m kind of sad I finished it because it was providing me with such insightful moments to wrestle with the highs and lows of my type.
  • The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – This was Courty’s Book Club fiction pick for November. The book is set in Marid in 1957 under the dictatorship of Franco. It’s a thick book told from the perspective of many characters. Because the theme of the book revolves around secrets and silence, it take a while for the plot to unfold. Once the pieces started to click into place, it’s was mind-blowing and heartbreaking. While I didn’t love the 18 year gap at the end of the story, I was thankful for the happy(ish) ending that was unfolding on the final pages.
  • The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson – If you’ve read my book lists before, you know Carlson is a go-to author me. Especially, her Christmas books. This one was a bit different from the others I’ve read. Four members of a book club ban together after the unexpected death of the friend that held their group together. They grow closer as they see each other in a new light and heal together through the holidays.

 

Deck the Halls! November 28, 2021

It’s that time of year again! Time to deck the halls! Our kids were ready to decorate for Christmas the day we got back from Disneyland. The Christmas magic they experienced at Disneyland definitely inspired them! Our family has no rules for when Christmas decorations are allowed to come out. It changes year to year based on our schedule. This year we needed to recover from Disneyland before diving into Christmas mode. We don’t mind waiting until after Thanksgiving (but we also don’t mind decorating before Thanksgiving either – no rules).

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a day full of family and yummy food. We were back to our pre-pandemic schedule of two family gatherings in one day. It’s was the first time that our family has joined my extended family for a gathering since Christmas 2019. It was good to be back to “normal” but I forgot how long it can make a day when you hop from gathering to gathering. Seeing family was worth the effort, though! It was a great day and we certainly have a lot to be thankful for!

Getting back to school to after Disneyland was a bit of a struggle. If it didn’t mean going to school until the end of June, I would have just declared us on holiday vacation until January. It was nice to come back to a short week and a holiday weekend. Just three more weeks of school until Christmas break! That seems like forever, but I know it will go by in a blink (at least, I hope so)! Jeremy was offered a sabbatical for the month of December. Our family is excited to have extra time together during this special time of year. We are looking forward to Christmas activities and outings as well as plenty of time around the house enjoying Christmas movies, books, and treats! It’s such a joyful season and we are ready for it! Bring on all things Christmas!

PS – You’ll notice that Disneyland has seeped into our Christmas celebration this year. We got matching Christmas Mickey pajamas for our trip. At Disneyland, we picked up a Mickey ornament for our tree. Once we got home, we picked more Mickey ornaments and a Disney advent book. Our Christmas cards will also feature Mickey this year. Our annual photo ornament has been ordered with pictures from our vacation. Disney is our theme this holiday season!

Cookies of the Month for November! Sweet as pie!
I made 59 cookies this last week (gotta love that odd total). I brought them to each family gathering and made some for a friend. This photo features 2/3 of them decorated for Thanksgiving day.
Graham is my official cookie taste tester!
Cousin time at Thanksgiving!
The Scott Family – Thanksgiving 2021
It’s going to be a very Disney Christmas this year!
Each year they get a new ornament to put on their mini trees in their bedrooms. Mickey Mouse was an obvious choice this year!
Placing the star on top of the tree is such a dramatic moment…
The tree is officially decorated!
They are a little amped up for Christmas!
Grandma got them this LEGO wreath at The LEGO Store in Downtown Disney. Such a fun project and super festive. It also can be made into an advent wreath with LEGO candles!
The nativity set and the Christmas train have met… I keep reminding the boys that Baby Jesus isn’t allowed on the tracks.
Beautiful sunrise this morning!