Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

The Other Days March 16, 2022

It can be easy and exciting to write about the big adventures and outings. However, life is mostly made up of the “other” days. They might not be thrilling, but each ordinary day is an adventure all it’s own. With the future unknown, I am trying to intentionally savor these days at home. The last two years have greatly changed how we live our day-to-day lives. While many have rushed back to normal, we are trying to hold on to the benefits we’ve found in living differently.

Our mornings are spent at the dining room table doing school. We are one week away from the end of our 3rd quarter. The boys already have their 3rd quarter rewards selected and they are counting down the days until we can celebrate. It is very exciting to see the pages left in our school books dwindling. Some of our curriculum doesn’t end at exactly 180 days of lessons. A few books will be completed before we are officially finished with the school year. (When that happens, I supplement that subject with other worksheets/books.) It’s always a celebration when a textbook is completed. The finish line for the school year is in sight!

Homeschooling has been an unexpected chapter in our family story. It’s been a good chapter, though. Our plans for school next year are still undecided. There is a chance that the boys will be back to public school in the fall. With that in mind, I’m doing my best to enjoy this homeschool season for all that it is. It’s not over yet and I want to make the most of it. Often that means putting thoughts (and, being real here, anxieties) about next year on hold for now. I don’t want to miss this current time at home pondering (or fretting over) future decisions.

After school, we have lunch and then quiet time. This used to be nap time, but the boys have long outgrown naps. Now they are allowed to play on their beds or read books during quiet time. While they might not sleep anymore, the down time is restorative. It reminds me of the “flat on bunk” time I used to have at kid’s camp when I was in elementary school. Sleep is optional, but rest isn’t. This quiet time is just as important for me as it is for the boys. I appreciate the break! I often use it to read, research (aka look things up on Amazon), contact friends (Marco Polo), and do “grown-up stuff” (like make dentist appointments).

When quiet time is over, it’s afternoon free time. If the weather is nice, we’ll walk to the mailbox. I usually start dinner prep while the boys play. LEGO Super Mario is still the toy of choice around here. If the boys have chores, they do them in the afternoon/evening free time. Some of their chores are emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, collecting eggs, and helping with the laundry. We have dinner when Jeremy gets home and then usually there is a little time to play on the Switch. Some days wrap up by watching a baking show in the hot tub.

These days can feel a bit like Groundhog’s Day. Wake up and repeat… again… and again. Despite the repetition, these are good days. The last two years have certainly been challenging, but they have also been a gift. This last week Washington State removed it’s mask mandate, so it really has been two years living in pandemic mode. While I don’t view the pandemic as over, I can recognize that things are changing. I don’t know what that means for the future, but I do know that I want to make the most of right now. I am so thankful to the small things that make these ordinary days special. We do have rocky moments (like the fights over LEGOS pieces – a real-life example from 11:30am today). I remind myself that these difficult moments are a chance for us to grow together. It might seem like sibling squabbles are a chance for the kids to learn, but these are growth moments for me as well. How will I respond? Is my attitude helping or hindering the situation? So yes, lots of learning together beyond our school time. These home days don’t make for the most interesting updates, but day-by-by, they are making for a pretty interesting life!

A special stop for fro-yo while running errands
Pizza Friday! This was our second time getting Mini Murph take-an-make kits. The boys love them!
My latest attempt at cake decorating. Used some new tools. Looking forward to trying again since I’m learning a lot through trial and error!
Getting some new dirt into Jeremy’s new raised beds
My latest used book acquisition with the last of my birthday money
A quick visit to Nana & Papa’s house where Owen got to be a firefighter and help put out a burn pile.
Jeremy’s birthday present arrived a little early! He requested (then purchased for himself) an Areogarden for his office at work. After 5 days, he already has sprouts popping up!
Time to make leprechaun traps!
Homemade pizookies for Pi Day on Monday
I had a migraine yesterday, so the boys joined Jeremy for an out-of-town errand and then an afternoon of helping at the church. Jeremy sent me this picture of Graham leading a “Bible study” in the church’s church classroom! Graham has been watching Jeremy in action on Sundays and it shows!
 

Hints of Spring March 9, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Parenthood,Simply Me — Amy Scott @ 12:29 pm

There are hints of spring all round these days. At the moment, the sun is shining bright and bringing me so much joy. There will be a walk to the mailbox, jumping on the trampoline, and drainage ditch exploration outside later today. Anytime we can spend the afternoon out in the sunshine, it’s a good day!

This weekend, Jeremy started a major project in his garden. He creatively built raised beds out of discarded building materials a few years ago. These raised beds were starting to break apart and a replacement was necessary. Jeremy had saved up for new raised beds and assembled them on Friday. It was supposed to be a sunny day, but the morning turned out to be showery. Because it was messy work, I would often find Jeremy sitting under our covered porch waiting out the weather. At one point when Owen was out helping him, they took shelter in the greenhouse. The new beds need some additional dirt and then they’ll be ready for spring planting.

While the boys worked outside in the mud, I worked inside on a chocolate cake. Owen mentioned earlier in the week that he hadn’t had cake in a while. It’s not too hard to talk me into baking. Especially chocolate cake. I decided after baking this cake, I would pick up some new baking tools. My cakes just never turn out to my hopeful standard. I purchased a cake level and a turntable online this week. They arrive tomorrow and I’m optimistic to make another cake soon to see if I can improve. The boys gave the chocolate cake rave reviews which were quite humorous. You can tell we’ve been watching baking shows as a family because they “judged” my cake as a “moist sponge with good texture and flavor.” Oh, the things these kids say!

Saturday was a beautiful day and the boys practically lived outside! They checked trail cameras with Jeremy near our property in morning. They spent the afternoon outside playing with cousins at Nana & Papa’s house. At dinner with friends, they built natural boats (thinks leaves and sticks) and raced them down a backyard creek. At Nana & Papa’s house, the adults played board games for a few hours. Jeremy and I learned a new game called Dixit. It’s a picture game and reminded me of Apples to Apples but with images. Jeremy won the first round. I won the second. (I don’t win often, so I felt it deserved mentioning here.) We’ve now spent two Saturdays in a row playing games. Fun times! After an afternoon of gameplay, we went to dinner with family friends. My friend recently borrowed my Enneagram books and was excited to talk with me about the Enneagram after dinner. I adore the Enneagram and will happily talk about it with anyone for as long as they are willing! It was such a treat!

This coming weekend is my least favorite of the year with the time change. I’m not a fan of springing ahead and losing an hour of sleep, but I know it will mean light later into the evening. As the weather improves, we’ll have more playtime outside after dinner. Afternoon walks can become evening walks. I do look forward to the sun setting after 7:00pm. Jeremy has tulips and daffodils making an appearance in the yard. His miniature bulbs have flowered first. They make the back deck feel so friendly! I love seeing hints of spring popping up all around. A new season is on the horizon. I’m a ready to greet it and see what it brings.

Sheltering in the greenhouse during a shower
My weekend baking project!
Painting rocks in children’s church to remember to trust God.
Sunday afternoon reading. Three readers stuffed on a loveseat. Love when the kids seek out these quiet moments with me.
Nothing quite like jumping on the trampoline on a sunny day!
First time reading Harry Potter. I realize I’m a little bit late to the game. I finally decided to see what all the hype is about.
Spring vibes on the back deck!
 

Farewell February, Hello March! March 1, 2022

I logically know that February is a short month, but it always surprises me when it’s over. Now that it’s officially March, I finally took down the construction paper hearts I had on the walls around our house. I’m still using our snowflake dishes since we did have (a trace) snow on the ground less than a week ago. All things winter are making way for all things spring. February was such a fun month. It’s hard to see it go, but I have high hopes for March!

We wrapped up February with some exciting activities. On Friday, I hosted a book club at my house. This was the first “group” I’ve hosted in almost two years. I was nervous, but this was a good group to dust off my hospitality skills with. My friend led the book club, so all I had to do was open my home and participate. I love the set-up of this book club! I mentioned it in my last post, but I’ll share it again. Instead of everyone reading the same book, each lady comes with a book to talk about. It could be any book – something she read long ago, recently read, is currently reading, or hopes to read in the future. This structure means anyone can participate without feeling guilty about not finishing the book or not liking it. I shared my two top picks for February and enjoyed hearing about what everyone else was reading. (See my February book post here)

As an avid reader and blogger, it’s no surprise words are how I relate to the world. My husband got me hooked on playing Wordle this month. I was resistant at first because it’s trendy. After a few times of “helping” Jeremy with his words, I had to play for myself. I will admit that I’ve had to look up the meaning of a few words while playing this game (tacit? swill?). Now I find Wordle words throughout my books and each time I come across one, I chuckle. Anyone else jump on the Wordle bandwagon? It’s addicting! I’m thankful there is only one word a day or I might have a problem!

Speaking of games, my forever friend, Maggie, and her family come over for a game day on Saturday. Maggie’s family is very into games and they brought an assortment to share with us. Jeremy loves games and is very good at catching on to new games. We played a few shorter games before settling into playing Wingspan. Maggie and I were a team for the first game and then Maggie acted as my consultant for the second game. I now feel somewhat confident I could play on my own next time! We don’t often have marathon game days, so it was fun to do something out of the ordinary. Especially since it was super rainy on Saturday, a day spent playing inside was just right!

Now that it’s March, my kids are counting down to St. Patrick’s Day. They decorated their windows with gel clings today from Grandma and they are actively planning their leprechaun traps. I often hear about what they will wish for if/when they catch a leprechaun. March is a big month for Jeremy has he prepares for the Easter season. It’s also Jeremy’s birthday month. We’ll make sure he celebrates well! I’ll try to forget that Daylight Savings begins in March and just focus on the fact that spring is coming soon! I’m sure no matter how the month unfolds, it will be an adventure!

Learning about igneous rock using chocolate – melted chocolate like lava hardens and creates a solid. Science is sweet!
Jeremy took the boys bowling on Friday night while I hosted the book club. I love the updates he sent me! Bowling with Owen is a lot like bowling with Tigger. The kid has bounce!
Graham was all about the fun and the food!
Making fish puppets in science!
Decorating for St. Patrick’s Day while wearing Christmas pajamas…
Always hopeful that this is the year he’ll catch a leprechaun!
 

What I’ve Been Reading – February 2022 February 28, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 1:02 pm

Bookish Thoughts for February

February book mail! I’m currently reading Good Enough as a daily devotional and I’m hoping to read Raising Critical Thinkers in March.

I’m living in a sweet spot with Christmas and birthday books filling my to-be-read pile. Not to mention, I’m notorious for stocking up on library books and borrowing from friends. 2022 has been a year of plenty to read and I love always having a new book to grab. This month was also the kick-off of the book club my friend organized. We had our first meeting on Friday and my list of book recommendations grew considerably! This book club is unique because instead of everyone reading the same book, each mom comes with a book to talk about (any book she wants). It was very interesting to hear what others enjoy reading and talking about books just happens to be one of my favorite pastimes!

In February, I completed the works of Roseanna M. White. I had read a majority of her books already, but not her Biblical Fiction. I will admit that I enjoy her British/American Fiction way more than her Biblical Fiction. Her Biblical works were some of her first books and you can tell that her writing style as changed with time. A Stray Drop of Blood and A Soft Breath of Wind reminded me of The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. Personally, I found the cultural treatment of women and slaves to be a bit too intense for me (even though I know it was accurate to the times). I would recommend her other works without hesitation, but I would probably give a disclaimer to anyone interested in her Biblical Fiction.

Final bookish thought, I’ve started following some of my favorite others on Instagram and through their newsletters this last month. While I love hearing about new releases, I’m wondering if ignorance might be bliss. I’ve seen four cover reveals this month and, of course, all of the books will be released many, many months in the future. I know this is strategic for marketing, but I am seriously impatient. I’m starting to wonder if it’s best to be pleasantly surprise by a new release after it’s out or to know about a book in advance and be ready to pounce right when it’s released. What do you think?

Top Picks for February

Non-Fiction: At Your Best: How to Get Time, Energy, and Priorities Working in Your Favor by Carey Nieuwhof. This book is best suited for those in leadership or business, but I found it so practical for personal/home life. I’m all about healthy boundaries and living a life that validates your priorities. In a world that is overwhelmed, overcommitted, and stressed out, this book offers tools to shaping a life you love. My biggest takeaway was that most people have 3-5 hours were their energy is at it’s best. How you use your best hours greatly impacts your day. I honestly thought most people had 8 hours of peak energy and I was just a low energy person. This book normalized how I view my daily energy and gave me insight into why I structure my days the way I do. I could see myself returning to this book as a resource in future seasons as my commitments change.
Fiction: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I’ve now read four books by Sepetys and each one has been so eye-opening. I read Between Shades of Gray in January and I liked it better than Salt to the Sea, but I wanted to highlight this author specifically this month. Salt to the Sea is a companion novel to Between Shades of Gray, so I recommend reading Between Shades of Gray first. I will warn that these books are intense. Sepetys writes about history that is often glossed over or commonly unknown. Salt to the Sea is about a maritime tragedy greater than the Titanic or the Lusitania. It’s a piece of WWII history that I’d never heard of which is shocking due to it’s magnitude. I appreciate Sepetys determination to share hard truths while walking the fine line of not being overly graphic. Her books have haunted me long after I finished them, but they have also left me with hope as her characters build meaningful lives in the wake of tragedy. I have one more of her books to read and then I will have completed her works! I’m enjoying the challenge of reading entire collections by my favorite authors.

The Book List for February
 1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – 5 stars
  • 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences by Kathy Koch PhD – 4 stars
  • Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace by John Mark Comer – 4 stars
  • Space at the Table: Conversations between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son by Brad Harper and Drew Harper – 4 stars
  • At Your Best: How to Get Time, Energy, and Priorities Working in Your Favor by Carey Nieuwhof – 5 stars
  • Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown M.D. with Christopher Vaughan – 3 stars

Fiction:

  • Falling for Your Best Friend by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (Rom-Com) – 4 stars
  • Falling for Your Enemy by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (Rom-Com) – 3 stars
  • The Twelve Holidates by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (Rom-Com) – 4 stars
  • Royally (Re)arranged by Emma St. Clair (Rom-Com) – 3 stars
  • Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown (Sensible Shoes Series) (Christian Fiction) – 3 stars
  • The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons (Friendship Fiction) – 3 stars
  • I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (YA Historical Fiction) – 4 stars
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (YA WWII Fiction) – 4 stars
  • A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna M. White (Biblical Fiction) – 3 stars
  • A Soft Breath of Wind by Roseanna M. White (Biblical Fiction) – 3 stars
  • Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White (Biblical Fiction) – 4 stars
  • Jewel of Persia by Roseanna M. White (Biblical Fiction) – 3 stars
  • A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle (Children’s/YA Sci-Fi) – 3 stars
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle (Children’s/YA Sci-Fi) – 4 stars
 

Birthday Baking, Books, & Boosters February 1, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Coronavirus Chronicles,Family Time — Amy Scott @ 5:48 pm

I had fun thinking of the alliterations I could use for this post. Like bestie birthday brownie baking, books, and boosters. That title felt a bit long, so I shortened it a smidge. I love a good alliteration, especially if it sums up my week so well.

The week has some highlights. One being a book swap with a friend. About once a month, we swap books from our home libraries. I love it! It’s fun to talk about the books we share as well as catch up on life. This time I was able to make the book swap while Jeremy watched our boys. It was such a special treat! Kid-free/mom-friend/book-time is amazing!

The other major highlight of the week was my forever friend, Maggie, came down with her kiddos for a birthday celebration. Maggie and I share a birthday month, so we played up celebrating us! I haven’t done a ton of baking this month, but I made up for it one day. I made chocolate chip cookies, a brownie cake, and brownies without frosting for our time together. Maggie and I have been friends since we were 16 and I love that we are still celebrating birthdays together at 36. Her friendship is such a gift! It’s also fun that our kiddos are becoming buddies. Maggie and I have sacrificed a bit our friend time to have more family outings over the last few months. While our conversation is often interrupted, it’s a joy to watch our kids play together. On this particular play date, the kids thought they saw an “X” in the yard, so they started to dig for treasure… by our septic! Luckily, I clued into their plan before anything degusting was unearthed! There were lots of giggles when I explained they wouldn’t be finding treasure in that certain spot in our yard.

Other than the book swap and the birthday play date, our week has been pretty low-key. Jeremy got his booster on Thursday and the side effects gave him an off and on fever all weekend. We all did our best to be quiet and keep a restful vibe around the house for Jeremy’s sake. On Friday, I took the boys on an errand to the library and to get Papa Murphy’s pizza. There is nothing quite like stocking up on pizza and letting it be at least 3+ meals over the weekend. As a special treat for being quiet, I got the boys Mini Murphs. They are take and make pizza kits with personal sized pizzas. The boys loved the experience of assembling their own pizzas and declared them the best pizza they’ve ever eaten. Owen now thinks he is qualified to work at Papa Murphy’s. He just might be right.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, all the extra time at home has created plenty of reading time. I’m loving my new Kindle Paperwhite. At one point this last month, I picked up a paperback with small font and immediately wished I could make the font bigger like on my Kindle. This is 36, folks. I’ve also had a lot of fun pre-ordering books. I have new releases arriving in February, April, and May. I need to find a new release to order in March so I can create my own book of the month vibe. In case you are wondering what books I’ve pre-ordered, here’s the list:

  • Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie – Release Date: February 15
  • I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working by Shauna Niequist – Release Date: April 22
  • Shadowed Loyalty by Roseanna M. White – Release Date: May TBD

Okay, I should wrap this up. My hubby is home from work. We’re having orange chicken tonight in honor of Chinese New Year. No recipe to share here. It’s the boxed stuff from Costco. Tasty, though, and it’s a staple in our meal rotation. We’ll walk to the mailbox afterwards to get some fresh air and daily steps. Simple times, but good!

Fun fact: I put this birthday banner up for every birthday celebrated at our house (unless it’s the boys’ birthday party when I go with a themed one just for them). I’m a big fan of birthday décor.
My version of a brownie cake! Happy Birthday Month!
Silly kids! Or should I say pirates!
Super excited to make their own pizzas!
I got up and someone stole my reading spot!!!
 

What I’ve Been Reading – January 2022 January 31, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 1:21 pm

I hit a personal record for books read in a month this January! It was the perfect combination of plenty of time at home and plenty of books to choose from. It also helps that most of the books I read took only 3-4 hours to complete. While my list is heavy on fiction, there is some non-fiction thrown in for diversity. Sharing just my rating of the books is going to be very hard. I have so many words about books! So. many. words. Okay, I will share a few words, but not all the words. I’m trying to scale back.

I’ve been using My Reading Life: A Book Journal by Anne Bogel. One of the suggestions she made for reading more is to read the complete works of a favorite author. I decided to do this with Jenny B. Jones this month. This led to me reading her murder mysterious series (a new genre for me) as well her YA series. I appreciate Jenny B. Jones’s southern sass and hilarious supporting characters! Her books are always a fun read. I hope to use this same approach by completing the works of Roseanna M. White in the near future.

A new-to-me author this month was Emma St. Clair. Jenny B. Jones recommended her new release and I was intrigued. I’m currently working my way through her Love Cliché series (I know the title sounds ridiculous, but I love clean rom-coms). They are laugh out loud funny and a PG version of a Hallmark movie. I hit the rom-com genre pretty hard in January and I’m not even a little bit sorry. Anne Bogel recommends you read what you love and I love love!

Top Picks for January

  • Non-Fiction: Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles. I discovered this book after reading People To Be Love by Preston Sprinkle and researching pastoral position papers on The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender. While the topic makes me a bit uncomfortable, I want to learn more. Coles story is well-written and vulnerable. It was a short, but impactful read. I would recommend it anyone looking to hear a personal story behind what might be considered a hot topic. Through the same research, I discovered Space at the Table: Conversations between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son by Brad & Drew Harper. Brad Harper is a professor at Multnomah University where I went to college for two years. Small world! I hope to read Brad and Drew’s story in February.
  • Fiction: To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White. I love historical fiction! The reason I picked this new release as my number one choice was partially because of the bonus content beyond the book. White offered a book scavenger hunt where you had to search for answers inside the book to unlock a secret page on her website with bonus content. Such fun! I’ve enjoyed learning about the English Isles of Scilly through White’s works. I can wait for the final installment in this series, especially since I got a sneak peek of the first two chapters on the secret page. My runner up for fiction would be A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This book had so many feels! It was sad, sweet, and hilarious. I loved watching the sense of community develop between Grumpy Ove and his eccentric neighbors.

The Book List for January

Since I’ve started using Goodreads again, I will use their rating scale. 1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas – 4 stars
  • Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity by Gregory Coles – 5 stars
  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally by Peter Scazzero – 4 stars
  • Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode–and into a Life of Connection and Joy by Aundi Kolber – 4 stars

Fiction:

  • In a Holidaze by Christiana Lauren (holiday romance) – 2 stars
  • Engaged in Trouble by Jenny B. Jones (Enchanted Events Series) (murder mystery) – 3 stars
  • Royally in Trouble by Jenny B. Jones (Enchanted Events Series) (murder mystery) – 3 stars
  • Fanatically in Trouble by Jenny B. Jones (Enchanted Events Series) (murder mystery) – 3 stars
  • To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White (The Secrets of Isles Series) (historical fiction) – 4 stars
  • Short Stories: A Mixtape by Jenny B. Jones – 4 stars
  • Wild Heart Summer by Jenny B. Jones (rom-com) – 3 stars
  • So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones (A Charmed Life Series) (YA mystery) – 3 stars
  • I’m So Sure by Jenny B. Jones (A Charmed Life Series) (YA mystery) – 3 stars
  • So Over My Head by Jenny B. Jones (A Charmed Life Series) (YA mystery) – 3 stars
  • In Between by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (YA rom-com) – 3 stars
  • On The Loose by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (YA rom-com) – 3 stars
  • The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (YA rom-com) – 3 stars
  • Something to Believe In by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (rom-com) – 4 stars
  • Can’t Let You Go by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (rom-com) – 4 stars
  • Forever Your Girl by Jenny B. Jones (A Katie Parker Production) (rom-com) – 4 stars
  • Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones (contemporary fiction) – 4 stars
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (humorous/friendship fiction) – 4 stars
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (YA historical fiction) – 4 stars
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – (Children/Youth Sci-Fi) – 3 stars
  • The Buy-In by Emma St. Clair (Graham Brothers Series) (rom-com) – 3 stars
  • Falling For Your Best Friend’s Twin by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (rom-com) – 3 stars
  • Falling for Boss by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (rom-com) – 3 stars
  • Falling for Your Fake Fiancée by Emma St. Clair (Love Clichés Series) (rom-com) – 3 stars
 

Marathon January 25, 2022

I probably shouldn’t use an athletic metaphor. I’m the least qualified human to talk about anything sports-y. I wasn’t sure if I would post this week. I didn’t have too much to say (which is never true, but sometimes it feels that way). This month has been fairly quiet and low-key in some ways ( household volume is not one to them). Processing this month brought a marathon to mind. I’m in the middle of one…. or a few depending on how you look at it. I wouldn’t know from experience, but I’m guessing the middle of a marathon looks a lot like putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on.

The first marathon we are in the middle of is homeschooling. Last week we wrapped up our 2nd quarter. We are officially halfway done with the school year! Woo hoo! Last year, the middle of the school year felt like a major milestone. Now in year two, the halfway point got a little less fanfare. It’s still a mile marker worth celebrating, though. We give money rewards for school quarters – as long as they go well. The boys used their dollars to buy LEGO Super Mario character packs. No shocker there. It’s their current obsession.

The glamour of homeschooling has worn off a bit in this second year. Last year felt magical and this year feels… average. I’m not sure how to describe it. Maybe the honeymoon phase is over. Homeschooling is still great with so many benefits. I love our daily routine. I enjoy being a part of my kids’ education. Teaching Graham to read has been harder than I expected. A did a very un-Amy-like thing and scrapped his reading program when we came back to school in January. We’re back to the basics and taking things slower. I think it’s helping. We are currently using BOB books and the corresponding workbook for our new reading program. Graham is super into books so we are reading together a lot as well. I’m hopeful we are building a good foundation for not only reading skills, but also a love of reading.

Owen schoolwork take a bit more time this year and that’s been an adjustment. He’s favorite subjects are still science and social studies. One of my greatest joys this year has been watching Owen fall in love with reading. Most days during quiet time, he will devour a short chapter book. I’m having a hard time keeping up with his need for reading material. It’s a good problem to have! With the help of our local library and Thrift Books, I’m doing my best to keep him excited about reading.

January has had a different vibe. The weekdays have been fairly quiet as we adjust to being back to school and having Jeremy back to work (he was on Sabbatical for the month of December). Getting back to routine has been good, but certainly not flashy. Lots of ordinary days around here. 3/5 weekends in January have been/will be dedicated to getting the COVID vaccine or booster. The boys got their second vaccines earlier in the month and we kept the weekend low-key just in case of side effects. This last week was my turn to get my booster. Thankfully, my reaction wasn’t was strong as the second shot, but I still developed a fever, body aches, and a headache that lasted the entire next day. Jeremy was kind and took the boys on a big errand adventure so I could rest in a quiet house. I might have been sensitive because of my headache, but it sure felt my family yelled everything that day instead of using their inside voices. The vaccine marathon wraps up this weekend with Jeremy getting his booster. Again, our weekend will be set aside for recovery in case it’s necessary. It’s not fun taking care of business like this, but I’m glad it’s almost behind us.

January has been a mix of getting back to routine, wild weather, and vaccines/boosters. My birthday and post-holiday book shopping has certainly been a bright spot in the month. Walking to the mailbox for a package of books, playing a family game after dinner, watching the Great British Baking Show in the hot tub at the end of the day – these are a few of the highlights of our quieter days. It might not make for thrilling writing material, but I’m in the midst of a marathon. I won’t judge the middle. I’ll just keep going. One foot in front of the other – hoping and praying that I’m heading in the right direction.

Labyrinth has become a family favorite! The boys used LEGO Super Mario characters for a more authentic experience.
Forgive my tired eyes, this was taken on booster day. Graham found me reading and went to grab his own book to read with me!
Weekends around the house are great for blanket forts
Relocated blanket fort
Reclaimed my living room by moving the forts to the bedrooms.
I love kid art!
My Thrift Books package arrived! Book Girl for the book lists, Wild Things for future reference, Just Between You and Me because it was a great price and buying it was the only way I could read it, A Name Unknown because I randomly own book three of this series so I hope to buy cheap copies of the other books to complete the set!
Learning about the tectonic plates with frosting and graham crackers. Science can be sweet!
 

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!