Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Vulnerability, Flooring, and Space Sheets! What a week! March 1, 2021

Last week was the kind of week where if you looked at my calendar, you wouldn’t have thought it was a challenging week. It was the kind of week where under the surface, I was brimming with stress, anxiety, and tension. Part of working through my big feelings was being honest about them and talking about them. It wasn’t easy. It was actually exhausting, but I came out the other side of those conversations better for having them. After every conversation that felt heavy, I received messages from friends saying they were glad I spoke up. As an overthinker, these words of affirmation after a difficult conversation are so life-giving to me. Vulnerability is scary, but this week it paid off for me.

It’s funny how a week can be quiet and busy at the same time. Last week, I had multiple Zoom calls. Those always take a certain level of energy. Two of them I led which takes an extra level of energy. I am the first to admit that I don’t love Zoom, but I am grateful for what I am able to accomplish through this platform. I can be a part of meetings and have relationships that I wouldn’t be able to have otherwise. This week I also got to see a few friends at a distance. Seeing faces that I haven’t seen in many months, even just for a few minutes, made my heart happy. One more fun element to February, two of our MOPS mamas had new babies. Over the last two Fridays, I’ve been able to door drop meals to these families. Giving a meal to a new mama is one of my favorite ways to show love!

On Thursday, we drove up to Olympia to pick a new flooring option for our home. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know that we have an ongoing issue with our floor. The product itself keeps breaking, no matter the number of “fixes” performed on it. We’ve finally been offered an upgraded product and we are optimistic this could be the final solution. We found an option that matches the coloring of our current floor fairly well. I know that tearing up the floor (again) will be inconvenient, but I am hopeful this could be the last time. I’ll keep you posted when the big replacement is set to happen!

We had a fun family day and did some shopping this weekend. We purchased new sheets for the boys. They both decided on space sheets and it felt like a small sacrifice for me. When we first moved into this house almost three years ago, the rooms had themes and color schemes. While those themes are mostly still intact, a whole lot of other items have moved into their rooms as well. I might enjoy the bedrooms looking like a magazine spread, but I’m slowly relinquishing control and letting the spaces be more theirs. This means hand-drawn art and posters on the walls, crafts on display, paper lanterns and homemade mobiles hanging from the ceiling. The outer space sheets don’t fit the themes (Owen: transportation/travel, Graham: outdoor/nature), but it’s okay. It’s their room, their beds. They are happy. I’ve read in parenting books about giving kids control of their rooms. I know this will be hard for me. Currently the boys are good at putting their items away in the proper place. New skills to learn in the future will be making their beds and putting their laundry away. I am a firm believer in treating “stuff” with respect, so hopefully this principle will transfer. Maybe giving them full control in the future won’t be as painful as I expect. And if it is… well… we can always keep the doors shut.

This morning, I had a mountain of laundry on my bed. It seemed like a good visual representation for my day. It seemed like a mountain to climb with lots to do. However, now that I’ve had a few productive hours and I can see my to-do growing smaller, I’m starting to breathe a bit easier. For one thing, the pile of laundry has been tackled. Sometimes I get so stressed by the big picture – chores to do, posts to make, meetings to run, homeschool, a trip to the dentist – that I forget that over time these things are manageable. My stress level comes down when I see what I need to accomplish in the next hour verses an entire day or week. I’m working hard to tackle my to-do list this morning so the boys’ quiet time this afternoon can be my quiet time as well. Rest settles my soul and brings peace. It’s a priority on the to-do list as well!

Our MOPS & MOMSnext craft last week. 40 random ideas for the boys to do.
Grandma delivered this cool craft. The boys loved it!
A friend surprised me by delivering this frosting set to my house last week. It was so thoughtful of her. I felt so loved!
Loving the new space sheets!
Thankful that my favorite Girl Scout (well, actually, her mom) delivers!
Graham’s outfit of the day: dinosaur rashguard and dinosaur pajamas. I let my kids pick their outfits each morning. As long as it’s clean clothes, anything goes. One of the perks of being homeschooled and going no where!
We traced Graham’s shadow for a self-portrait for school today. Looks just like him, right? This kid cracks me. The bumps under his smile aren’t teeth like you might expect. According to Graham, it’s his beard! Oh my!
 

Cautious Thoughts February 22, 2021

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 3:16 pm

I wasn’t sure if I wanted this to be a blog post, so I did something that I don’t normally do. I started this as a Word document on my computer. I knew that I needed to write. My brain is overactive, always processing, and mulling. It can be exhausting to keep up with the thoughts inside my head. At this point, I have the feeling of a balloon about to pop. I turn to writing as a way to clear my head. Sometimes the world makes more sense after I have written my thoughts down. Sometimes it just helps to acknowledge my thoughts even without resolution. This is where I find myself today.

We are coming up on one year of pandemic life. I am experiencing a fresh wave of exhaustion and fatigue. At the beginning of this month, our area went to “phase two” of our recovery plan. This means that we can see another household for social gatherings. At first I was excited for the prospect of a play date or a dinner with friends. After such a quiet season, I thought I was ready to shake things up and see people again. Because our family is trying to keep our social interactions limited, we’ve been operating mostly in response mode to social gatherings. We aren’t creating or seeking out opportunities, we are responding to them as they come our way. Eventually the first “ask” came. Would we be open to a family dinner with friends? You would think that would be an easy yes, but it wasn’t.

There are so many factors that play into saying yes to a social gathering. After all the processing, we said yes, but I’ll be honest, I was a nervous wreck over the decision. Following the guidelines and being mindful of the rules doesn’t protect my family from risk. This isn’t a new development, but after four ultra-cautious months, I felt this truth acutely. I prayed continually before the dinner and I’m still praying after that there would be no negative consequences.

We all have different opinions on the rules. I respect the differences. At the end of the day, I am only accountable for my own actions. I often feel like I am the most cautious person I know and this has left me in a lonely place. I am not cautious because I am fearful. I understand that my immediate family isn’t high-risk when it comes to surviving the virus. I am cautious because I am trying to be considerate of others. I don’t want to be the reason someone gets sick especially those who are at risk.

Lord willing, the virus will run its course and herd immunity will be reached. The need for rules and regulations will lax and we will have more freedom in making personal choices like how many people we see in a week, if we wear a mask, etc. We are not there yet, but I’m already sensing the struggle it will be to re-enter the world. Some people will race back to “normal” life. They will dive head first into waters of normalcy. I have a suspicion that for me returning to normal will look like dipping my toe in and then maybe wading in to my ankles, my knees, and my waist. Will I ever feel comfortable going all the way in? I don’t know and that feeling of uncertainty is unsettling.

Living with all the unknowns and the loneliness of being cautious feels like a heavy weight today. I know that “this too shall pass.” I will pray through the discomfort and the tension. I sincerely don’t know how I would survive without my faith. I don’t have to have all the answers. I can trust. I can believe. I can hope. I can pray. God is in this and I will hold on to Him. And to wrap this up, here are a few pictures from our mostly quiet week at home!

ROAR! After school on Tuesday, we built LEGO dinosaurs.
We were shocked to find a wooly worm crawling over the snow.
We got a new haul of books this week. The joke books are getting the most use out of the bunch!
Graham and I are home on Sunday mornings. We watch online church and make mac & cheese. It’s been our Sunday tradition for a few months now.
Baking is my one of my coping skills. I love playing with frosting. While I don’t usually love my creations because I’m a perfectionist, I am enjoying the process and learning from each experience!
Vision is protecting the inky-bator. In less than a week, we should discover if we have baby chicks or just really slow cooked eggs.
 

The Magic of Snow February 15, 2021

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles,Family Time,Getting Creative,Parenthood — Amy Scott @ 2:49 pm

We finally got our winter snow! The combination of snow, Valentine’s Day, and a long weekend made for pure magic. Snow was just the adventure we needed to break up the Groundhog’s day vibes that had settled on our house. Coupled with the countdown to Valentine’s Day and a long weekend to enjoy it all, this week (specifically, this weekend) was practically perfect!

We had a very Valentines focused week. We wrapped up Valentine’s Day cards and got them into the mail for family and friends. The boys made a cute craft from Target. We don’t make a lot of craft kits, but when we do, I always appreciate the extra fun it provides. I enjoy having all the supplies in one package instead of hunting down all the elements. After school on Tuesday, I set out to make my February sugar cookies. In keeping with my goal to make decorated cookies from my new cookie book each month, I decided Valentine’s Day was the perfect fit for my cookie project. I made the cookies in advance of the holiday, because I wanted to share them with family. I also wanted to save the chocolate treats for the weekend since chocolate is extremely necessary (in my opinion) for the actual celebration of Valentine’s Day.

On Thursday, we woke up to a dusting of snow with snowflakes lightly falling. We raced through school so that snow could become our sole focus of the day. Jeremy worked in the office that morning and then opted to work from home in the afternoon since greater snow totals were in the forecast. My hubby knew my hopes for a heart-shaped pizza on Sunday, but he also knew it wasn’t likely we could get out of the house due to snow. Jeremy picked up our special pizza on Thursday before coming home. He is the best! After work, our family took a walk to our nearby beaver dam. Walking through the snow covered woods literally felt like walking into Narnia.

Friday was Chinese New Year. This isn’t a holiday that I’ve celebrated before. Owen remembered celebrating it at school last year. Also, a TV show the boys have been watching recently shared Chinese New Year traditions. Because I’ll look for any reason to celebrate, I decided to go with it. The boys received make-shift red envelopes with $1 inside. They wore red for luck. They swept out the old year and hid the brushes (aka Swiffers) to welcome the new year. We made Chinese food at home from freezer food. My original plan was to get take-out, but the snow changed that. We read books about Chinese New Year. It was a fun, educational, and new experience.

The snow had many highlights! I love when the world goes white. The combination of white snow on deep green trees just does something to me! We took many family walks. Because we live in the country, our sledding hill just happens to be our septic mound. The boys loved sledding the most of all the snow activities. A traditional Snowman was made as well as many snow angels. On one walk down to the main road, the boys went “skating” (aka sliding) on the icy roadway. We enjoyed warming up in our hot tub while snowflakes fell around us. Simply magical! Oh, we also lost power briefly during the day on Saturday. Luckily it was back on quickly and we didn’t get too chilly. And, we had an adventure on Friday with a weasel in our yard. The little guy seemed bent on hanging out under our deck. Never a dull moment around here!

Valentine’s Day looked different than my original plan. Jeremy wasn’t able to get out of our driveway, so he was home on Sunday which almost never happens. (He is a children’s pastor so Sundays are work days). I spent the morning baking chocolate treats and trying to make as many heart-shaped foods as possible (pancakes for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch). I would have had a heart-shaped food for every meal if my original pizza plan had panned out. (Next year!) The boys got a new board game for Valentine’s Day that occupied them most of the day. We played Valentine’s Day Bingo as family and munched on treats. I’m finding that my favorite way to celebrate is with food. Overall, it was a quiet family day. The only downside was the beloved snow transitioned to rain midday. Good-bye my little snowflake friends!

Now with rain slowly melting our snow, we will head back to the real world tomorrow. The countdown is on for longer days, St. Patrick’s Day, and the arrival of Spring. Oh, and my hubby’s 40th birthday (38 days and counting). As you can see, I will find plenty more reasons for fun and celebration soon!

I got into the crafty mood with the the kids and made some Valentines too!
The boys had super-belated well checks in a very yellow room! Owen was thrilled since it’s his favorite color.
We had a blast with these crafts from Target.
February’s Cookies of the Month!
Walking in Narnia
Snowman time!
Pizza love!
My red envelopes made from construction paper. I’m finding all kinds of uses for construction paper these days.
Family snow walks are my favorite!
Sledding buddies!
My Valentine!
All about the treats on Valentine’s Day!
 

A Little Bit of This and That… February 7, 2021

Can you guess what I’m going to say? It’s been a quiet week. I am becoming the poster-person for staying home. I usually only leave the house once a week. Last week it was to drop Owen off at church with Jeremy. This week, I got a morning out with the family to run errands. We are almost 11 months into this pandemic and the amount of time that I spend at home still amazes me. I often wonder will this ever feel normal? Do I really want things to go back to normal? What is normal? Each day I remind myself to keep doing the best I can with this day, this moment. My world might be small, but it is good.

Most Monday nights I have MOPS & MOMSnext Zoom meetings. This week was our leadership team meeting. The intro question to get us all talking was what was your worst haircut ever? I shared a funny story about when I was a kid I thought getting a perm would give me lovely curls like a friend in my class. What I didn’t know was my friend’s mom curled her hair with a curling iron. My perm curls looked nothing like my friend’s curls. The only way to get rid of the disappointing perm was to cut my hair… which lead to (what I believe) is my 1st grade school photo with probably my least favorite childhood haircut. My parents weren’t the best at photo documenting so there are no pictures that I am aware of that contain my perm. This is probably a blessing. But for a laugh I will share my worst haircut picture with you below like I did with my MOPS friends.

The boys and I have been counting down to Valentine’s Day. It looks different this year without a class to hand cards out to and no teachers to buy chocolate for. I am reminded of how much I relied on school to make celebrations extra special. With no class, no party – what will make Valentine’s Day special this year? I purchased a container of Valentine stickers from Target and the kids have been making cards for family. The boys also selected cards that would normally be handed out in class. We will be mailing them to family as well. My mom delivered heart-shaped balloons for the boys. I spent an evening making construction paper hearts and putting them all over our dining room wall. I also made a garland to hang. I’m trying to make the vibes festive as we head into Valentine’s week. Graham has an daily countdown going for Valentine’s day. I’m doing my best to plan and prepare so it hopefully lives up to his expectations. I’m thankful for holidays like this that give me a project to work on and something to celebrate. The excitement and joy that it brings to the kiddos is worth it!

The biggest highlight of the week was Jeremy ordered an egg incubator and we added eggs to it on Friday. The boys call it an “inky-bator” which I think is the cutest thing. They are super jazzed for baby chicks in our future. Or at least we hope that there are baby chicks in our near future. This is our first attempt at growing our flock and we are all nervously excited to see how it pans out. Jeremy took some time last weekend to add space to our chickens current pen. We technically could use a few more hens to even out our flock. If all these chicks turn out to be roosters, we conveniently have a chicken auction that operates on the weekends just down the road from us. All unwanted roosters will find new homes at the auction. Here’s hoping our eggs hatch and that they are mostly ladies!

I’ve had a few moments that made me feel a bit old this week. I am newly 35… but I feel like I have crossed a line. Between Christmas and my January birthday, I get most of my gifts in a 3 week window. This year’s gift theme (apart from books) has been home organization, storage, and décor. I feel a little self-conscious making post after post about how excited I am for my “new” stuff, but now for 11 months I will mostly be radio silent in this department. I posted this week on Instagram how I felt a bit old because I was so excited to spend the last of my birthday money on desktop storage. A few days later, a younger friend made a post asking about how you can tell when someone is “flexing” in social media or just sharing something they enjoy? I had no clue what flexing meant. I had to google it. Turns out it means bragging/showing off to enhance your status. I thought back to recent posts where I shared new purchases/gifts. I wondered if those posts could be viewed as flexing. Truthfully, I never try to look cool on social media. I’m too old to keep up with the youngsters and their trends. I’m mostly a mama who shares her daily adventures with her boys and life around our house. My friend’s post did give a pause to think and I learned something new.

And that’s it! Another week in the books. The Super Bowl is happening right now… I spent the first half of the game air-frying food with my family. I’m blogging now and will move on to reading soon. As you can see, I’m not a big football fan. I mostly enjoy the Super Bowl for the snacks. Anyone else? Happy Snacking!

Somebody is now missing their two front teeth!
For a laugh, my worst haircut ever!
A glimpse into my Instagram
Flowers from my hubby! Phil (the groundhog) might think winter isn’t over, but my kitchen feels like spring!
Getting ready for Valentine’s Day!
Carefully filling up the inky-bator
Good to go! Hopefully! Time will tell… about three weeks till we know for sure.
 

Small Improvements January 29, 2021

At the beginning of April 2020, I shared a post that said it felt like Groundhog’s Day (the movie). At that point, we were only two weeks into our stay-at-home order. The experience was still completely new. Now I find myself in January 2021 and that same Groundhog’s Day feeling is plaguing me. You’d think after 10+ months of this COVID business, it would feel normal to go nowhere and live such a quiet life. As far as days to live over and over again, these days are good. They consist of homeschooling, chores, baking, reading, family time… All good stuff. But when I go to blog, I feel stuck. Like what am I going to share? Each week is so similar. I apologize if this post feels like déjà vu, I can’t help but process my world through words. I must write.

The biggest excitement for me this week was the arrival of eight barnwood picture frames that I had ordered at the beginning of the month. There were some hiccups with tracking the package, so I was relieved to have the package finally in my possession. Last January, I used my birthday cash to purchase a United States travel map and prints for our dining room wall. Because I didn’t have extra funds for frames, the art has been displayed with pushpins. Super classy. Very much dorm room chic. I was happy to add the next phase of the display by adding frames to the prints. Maybe a year from now, the final phase will be framing the map. Baby steps. I am pleased with how the frames look on the wall. I’m also proud that I hung them myself. Almost all the prints fit well into the new frames, except for one. Our picture of Mt. Rushmore would have been Jeremy and I with a pile of rocks or Jeremy with the presidents. I decided to cut myself out of the photo and use it as a place holder until I can replace the picture. I sent Jeremy a picture of my crop job and he had good laugh. He told me that my forehead makes a great travel companion. I shared the picture on social media and my friends are encouraging me to leave the picture as it is as a conversation piece.

In the same theme as the picture frames, I used the last of my birthday cash this year to purchase some new desktop storage. I’ve been using clear plastic drawers on my desk for years and I decided that I no longer enjoy seeing all the colorful office supplies so clearly. The pieces I ordered feel classy and grown-up. They are also navy which just happens to be a color that makes me extremely happy. For both Christmas and my birthday, I’ve invested in new home organization or décor. We’ve now been in our home almost three years and while my systems have been good, I realize that I have room to make improvements. I’m a type one on the Enneagram which means my default mode is to make things better. Since we now spend a considerable amount of time at home, these improvements are a positive boost in how I feel about our space.

Speaking of the Enneagram, I’ve been taking a deep dive into the topic this last week. I gave myself a refresher course by reading a few books. One book was new to me and it addressed self-care for each type. One of the suggestions for type ones is to create something just for the fun of it. The author encouraged type ones to do something they love even if they aren’t good at it. I feel like baking often is my creative outlet of choice. I am by no means a professional baker. I have quite a few “flops” in my baking adventures, but I love honing my baking skills. The hard part for me is to do it just for fun and not to be disappointed in myself when my projects don’t turn out how I visualized they would in my head. I was frosting cookies today and I kept reminding myself that the goal wasn’t perfection, but fun.

Fiddling with my space, baking goodies, reading, hanging with my family… this is how I spend my days. We never did get the snow that the forecast teased us with (see last post). We did see snowflakes a few times, though they never stuck. The snowflakes graced us with their presence while we were out in the hot tub. It was a blast to watch them fall, catch them on our tongues, and examine their unique shapes as they landed on our heads. Winter isn’t over yet, so maybe we’ll get a good snow eventually. Our region in Washington State was just approved to move to “phase two” in our healthy restart plan. This means we’ll have some flexibility when it comes to seeing people. We will remain cautious and keep our circle small, but I will be thankful to have a play date or dinner with friends be an option again. Small improvements make a big difference!

Sunday mornings are always an adventure. I try to tuck myself away in a quiet corner so I can watch church, but for some reason my kids are drawn to me like a magnet.
I made hand-pies this last week. Only this one was photo worthy. Good thing the others were just as tasty!
The one print that didn’t transfer to the new frames well! So good for a laugh whenever I look at it!
Refreshed our dining room space with new picture frames, tablecloth, and a tray to make moving our napkins and coasters easier.
My creative project for the day! My sister got me a cookie decorating book for Christmas. I might attempt a new cookie from the book once a month. Here is January!
 

Wintertime Waiting January 24, 2021

I purposefully waited to write this blog until today. I had hoped that it would snow overnight and I would have a new highlight and maybe some pretty photos to share. But… it did not snow overnight. We have a chance of snow mixed through this week’s forecast. I’m just like the kids. I am waiting for that first snow day. Living in Western Washington means that snow days are rare. Whenever a snowflake appears in my weather app, I can’t help but hope, pray, and dream. I’ll just keeping waiting…

I find that in this stay-at-home season, I spend a lot of time waiting for the next big thing. Right now that looks like prepping for Valentine’s Day. I picked up holiday window clings at Target this week. The kids got to pick out Valentine cards to mail this year. I ordered special heart shaped plates to use on Valentine’s day. I also ordered some crafts for school. I’m already daydreaming about the menu for the day and what treats I want to create. I love knowing that fun is on the horizon. We will wait for Valentine’s Day with excitement and enthusiasm.

Instead of looking forward, let’s look backward for a minute. Life is seriously quiet these days, but there are good things to celebrate and share. The kids have completed 19 weeks of school. They are over halfway done with their school year. Graham finished his final preschool workbook this week. He’ll start two kindergarten workbooks this coming week. He is so excited! And so am I. I love watching my kids learn as we sit around our dining room table. Homeschooling continues to be our grand adventure. The first half of the year has gone better than I expected and I am hopeful the second half will end well.

We’ve had a few chances to get out and about this week. Our outdoor time has looked like taking walks when the sun is out and getting into the inflatable hot tub together. Jeremy created a new sprinkler system for his garden this weekend. He collected all his supplies and went to work installing it despite the cold weather. On Friday, I met up with a friend in Olympia to run errands at Hobby Lobby and Target. Since we aren’t supposed to hang out in homes right now, a shopping outing seemed like a creative solution. On Saturday, I participated in a drive-by baby shower for a MOPS friend. It was good to see people I care about in-person and in a way that respected our current guidelines.

Okay, that wasn’t the most thrilling update. It’s been a good week, even though it had plenty of quiet moments. The days seems to repeat themselves with school, family time, reading, chores, hot tub time, making meals, making snacks, walks, etc. I remind myself that these are all blessings, no matter how repetitive they are. I am thankful for this roof over my head, for my family to do life alongside, and for creative ways to connect with my community.

Their friendship is seriously one of the best things about being home together!
Owen’s Winter Trees
Jeremy taught us about hair frost as few weeks ago. We now get excited when we find it on our walks!
We figured it wasn’t a coincidence that the air in our house was dry and that Owen was getting frequent bloody noses. He was so jazzed (look at his eyes) that we got him this humidifier. So far, it seems to be working!
I shared some pancake confessions in my Instagram stories this week and got the most DMs in response than I ever had. Pancakes are a relatable topic! I confessed that I only make small pancakes because I can’t flip big ones. Also, 1/3 of my griddle burns everything so I don’t use it. That’s what I get for using a 14 year old appliance!
More breakfast food confessions: My doughnut of choice is a maple bar. When that isn’t an option, I usually go for chocolate and if there are sprinkles, I will go for those as well. I love sprinkles! I think they are edible confetti and make life more festive!
 

35 January 16, 2021

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles,Family Time,Recollections,Simply Me — Amy Scott @ 3:18 pm

On Thursday, I turned 35. I am now officially closer to 40 than to 30. Hello mid-30’s, good-bye early-30’s. I’m okay with the shift. The wrinkles on my forehead and the gray hairs remind me that time is marching on. I’m thankful for each year I get. At this point, I don’t mind getting older. My opinion might change, but right now, I’m cool with owning 35. I will claim my years without remorse. If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I love love love birthdays. I love celebrating. I don’t need a big party, but I always strive to have as much fun as possible on my birthday – which usually involves eating all my favorite foods and spending time with my favorite people.

How did I celebrate 35? I kicked the day off with my free drink from Starbucks. Jeremy took the day off and we adventured up north to Bellevue. My one birthday request was going to The Container Store. According to their website, the Bellevue store had the two items I wanted. Sadly, when we arrived at the store, it was closed because it’s system was down. Bummer moment. We continued on with the plan and went to a nearby park. We walked in the sunshine, looked at the water and ducks, grabbed MOD Pizza and ate outside in the fresh air (indoor dining is still closed here in WA state).

After lunch, the kids twisted my arm and I agreed to visit a chocolate shop that Blippi (the YouTube star) filmed at. It was only 10 minutes away, so it seemed like a small, self-less act. I figured it would be a highlight of the day for them. After our Boehms Candies adventure, we took off for a different Container Store. I figured I might not get both items on my wish list, but I could at least get one. I was pleasantly surprised that the next store had restocked and both my coveted items were available. My birthday wish came true! What was I looking for? A large can riser for my pantry and more special hangers for my reusable bags. I sure do know how to party!

We ended our outing with a stop by Costco, where I picked up mac and cheese for dinner. I enjoyed my favorite meal followed by my favorite dessert – chocolate cake. It was a super fun and super tasty day from start to finish. The sunshine made it extra special. I enjoyed getting out of the area and adventuring with my boys. I wondered if COVID would put a damper on my celebration, but yet again, we rose to the occasion and had a great time despite restrictions. God is good and I am so blessed. I don’t take these good days for granted. I know how precious they are.

So where does 35 find me? A homeschool mom… which I never saw coming. I am home a lot… more than ever before and it turns out I love it. I keep my two wild boys alive, tidy my house, read books, bake treats, and try to make dinner as easy as possible. I’m obsessed with getting 10,000 steps a day and having my FitBit register that I exercised daily (usually 30 minutes of walking). I’ve restarted the habit of journaling alongside my Bible reading because I want to remember these days. I prefer to read but when I do watch television it’s mostly Hallmark channel, This Is Us, or The Pioneer Woman. The color navy is best color ever. I’m in my fourth year coordinating our local MOPS & MOMSnext group and my eighth year as a member. I occasionally work my side business through Usborne Books & More. I’ve learned that I enjoy hiking, especially if it’s through trees and on a level trail. I might not be super outdoorsy yet, but I’m making progress in outdoor appreciation. I love spending time with my family whether it’s running errands, eating out, exploring a new place, playing games, or enjoying the inflatable hot tub in our backyard. Jeremy, Owen, and Graham have been the best quarantine team. Our relationships have been strengthen by our time together. I am so thankful I get to do life alongside these three guys!

I mentioned in my last post that having a new year and a birthday so close together tends to make me extra reflective. Usually, I would go into each year with new goals, dreams, hopes, vision. 2021 and 35 feel different, though. I continue to hold to the motto that I am doing the best I can with what I’ve got. I don’t know what next month looks like, let alone the whole year. I plan to be faithful to things that I am doing right now. I am praying for discernment as the world returns to normal (hopefully) over the next year. I’ve set down so many commitments and expectations in 2020. I don’t plan to pick them all back up again. My biggest prayer for 2021 and 35 is to know what to invest in and what to completely let go of. This will be a crucial time in setting the pace for the second half of my 30’s. Wish me luck!

Free Birthday Drink – Hot Chocolate!
Park, ducks, water, sunshine, and happy boys!
Awkward family photo after lunch in the park.
The Blippi inspired visit to Boehm’s Candy.
One of my favorite places! Not as cool as Disneyland, but still pretty awesome!
Thankful for everyday with him!
35 candles on a chocolate cake!
The Home Edit inspired hangers for my bags. Organization makes me happy!
More The Home Edit inspiration – can risers in two sizes to fit various cans in my pantry! Love this look so much!
 

Starting 2021… January 11, 2021

I wasn’t ready for Christmas to be over. I built it up as this big, exciting, focal point of celebration. The anticipation of Christmas carried our family for weeks. It was a wonderful Christmas even with COVID limitations. I know the post-Christmas blues are a real thing and I saw them coming before they ever arrived. The last week of 2020 felt extremely odd without Christmas and with so many restrictions on our free time. I would say that my after-Christmas life has been a lot of little chores, reading, and family time in the hot tub time. All good things, but the days are blurring together. We’ve had a few interesting/exciting/adrenaline-inducing moments to break up the “sameness” that seems to have settled over us.

We waited until the last day of vacation to take down our Christmas decorations. The kids begged us to wait as long as possible. Usually, I’m ready for the Christmas décor to be boxed up and put away. I enjoy reclaiming the house. On the flip side, I feel like the house is empty once the decorations are gone. I was on the fence about taking down Christmas, so it made me easy to sway when it came to keeping it up as long as possible. The house is reset to “normal” which I haven’t seen since August, so yes, it feels weird. Adjusting to empty space takes time, but I’m getting there.

Last Monday was like ripping the band-aid off after vacation. It was back to homeschooling, back to solo parenting during the day, and back to leading my MOPS group all in one day. It was a good day, but a big day. I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy over being a responsible adult again. The combination of the end of the year and my upcoming birthday tend to make me super reflective in January. I can be more in my head and spend extra time processing where I’m at and how things are going. Back to adulting, COVID restrictions keeping us at home, extra contemplation – that’s where I was last week.

After surviving the big day “back” on Monday, Tuesday was supposed to be more relaxed, more restful. At least, that was the plan. Graham had other plans. As I was getting him ready for our afternoon quiet time, he fell backwards and cut his head on a windowsill. I’m not great with blood (I almost fainted). I quickly called in back-up. My mom and Jeremy are both more medically-minded and can handle the sight of blood. My mom (who lives next door) was home and came over to help me stop the bleeding. Jeremy came home to determine if Graham needed stitches. He was unsure, so off to the doctor’s office we went. Luckily, Graham narrowly avoided stitches. I narrowly avoided fainting. We both emerged victorious. Graham was quickly back to his happy self and I went in search of chocolate!

Wednesday was spent being shocked and upset with the situation at the US Capital. I was about to have a phone date with a friend when my mom texted to fill me in. My friend and I quickly prayed at the start of our phone call, but we decided to not let this incident dominate our discussion. At the time of our conversation, I was still in the sick-to-my-stomach, is-this-really-happening stage of processing. It just seemed impossible that something like that could happen. So… anyway… like many others, Wednesday was shadowed by a whole slew of emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

I was dragging on Thursday. It dawned on me that first week of 2021 had certainly not turned out how I expected. When life feels like too much, I usually move from focusing on the big picture to looking for the small moments of goodness. On Thursday, the weather had shifted and the rain was gone. I was able to take an afternoon walk outside, under a blue sky. I needed the chance to walk with my thoughts while taking a deep breath of fresh air. I walked down to our mailbox and was surprised by an early birthday card. Small moments of goodness were all around. My soul was starting to feel some restoration after a rocky week.

The excitement of the weekend was that my hubby completed a house project that has been on the to-do for years now (pretty much since we moved in). We had hoped to add a tile backsplash around our master bathtub over Christmas vacation. After looking at title options, we decided to order online which delayed the start of the project. The tile arrived last week and Jeremy spent the weekend installing it (with Owen supervising from time to time). I love having a handy hubby! Since our master bathtub is used by two wild, splashy boys, our walls are now better protected from the tidal waves and hurricanes that occasionally occur. I love that the tile we chose pulls in the colors of our flooring and the pre-existing tile around our countertop. I look a celebratory bubble bath last night and loved being surrounded by my hubby’s handiwork. Way to go, Jeremy!

And here we are at the start of another week. I’m curious to see how week two of 2021 treats us. It’s my birthday week, so I’m optimistic it will be an improvement over last week. On Thursday, I will be 35 and officially closer to 40 than to 30. The first half of my 30’s have been a wild ride. There have been some serious lows, but also some amazing highs. In my 30’s, I have genuinely worked to understand myself better and to appreciate who I am and how I got here. It’s gives me hope for the future. I keep believing that best is yet to come!

The last night with the glow of the Christmas tree. I think the lighting of the Christmas tree at night is one of the things I miss most when the decorations come down.
We started a new art book in January. On Mondays, we learn about famous artwork and follow step-by-step directions to replicate the style. This is the boys’ attempt at van Gogh last week. This week’s sea prints didn’t work as well, so the boys’ started painting volcanoes instead.
Glad Graham didn’t need stitches! And because of delayed well checks, this was the first time to the doctor’s office in over a year. Staying home has some advantages.
It was chilly but we were thankful for outside time (and the pavement at the grandparent’s house). I’m sensing the difference between staying home in the winter vs. staying home in the spring. We all miss our outdoor adventures!
My Thursday walk in the fresh air!
I needed this blue sky!
Master bathtub – before
Master bathtub – after
Saturday morning shows and snuggles
I made yellow cake mix cookies for the first time. The texture and flavor is awesome! The sprinkles give it a funfetti flare. Making these cookies felt like a happy way to end a weird week.
 

Reflecting on 2020 January 1, 2021

2020! What a year! Mostly, I feel profoundly grateful for 2020. This year also brought a whole new level of anxiety and was not without struggle. Despite the ups and down, God has been faithful and good through it all. In a world where the term “shelter at home” has become common, I am thankful for the shelter my family, my home, and my faith have provided.

Let’s recap 2020. In January, I celebrated my 34th birthday with a snow day. Our calendar was full with church and school commitments. For President’s Day, we took a trip to the beach. Not realizing that the world would shutdown a month later, we are thankful we took that day trip. In March, I helped coordinated my first (and so far, only) wedding for our church. The same weekend as the wedding, school closed for what we thought would be six weeks and we got our first taste of homeschooling. We celebrated Jeremy’s birthday on the first official day of the “stay home, stay healthy” order. We started doing church through video recordings and our family jumped in to help Jeremy when needed.

Six weeks of no school turned into the entire school year. We wrapped up Graham’s first year of preschool and kindergarten for Owen by documenting the moment in our pajamas. In 2020, we neglected our put-together-outfits and opted for sweatpants and pajamas around the house. I used Zoom for the first time in 2020. While Owen never had to Zoom for school, this became the way my MOPS & MOMSnext group stayed connected and as well our virtual small group for church.

Summer 2020 was spent mostly in the backyard pool that we were gifted by a friend. In July, I had surgery to remove a benign mass that was causing me discomfort. My recovery went well and quickly I was back to keeping up with my wild, outdoor men. We enjoyed lots of hiking, got to go camping, and took a vacation to Yellowstone.

This fall, we opted to homeschool for a less digital learning experience for our kids. Homeschooling has been a positive experience. I truly love being a part of my kids’ education. In October, we celebrated Owen and Graham turning seven and five. We also participated in a Family Scavenger Hunt with our church that kept us busy and having fun! We celebrated Halloween with a massive drive-thru kids event at church.

This holiday season has been unlike any other. Washington State COVID restrictions called for no gatherings with those outside of our household. To pass the time at home for the holidays, we invested in an inflatable hot tub. We made the most of all the holiday celebrations at home. We have missed our people, but we also enjoyed a simple and scaled back holiday season.

I will admit that before 2020, I often wished I could scale back my commitments and live a quieter life. 2020 granted me that wish. As an introvert, I’ve enjoyed the extra time at home. The blessing of this roof over my head is one that I don’t take for granted. I’m so glad I got to “shelter in place” in this home on the hill with my little family. I’ve loved spending more time with my family. We’ve grown closer and made some amazing memories together. The anxiety and uncertainty of 2020 has not outweighed the goodness I have experienced and for that I am incredibly thankful!

The one thing that fell apart in 2020 was publishing my book. I spent the first three months of 2020 editing my book with the hopes of self-publishing before the end of 2020. I wrapped up editing my book in March and then walked away from it. My brain just didn’t have the capacity to move the project forward. I want to say a huge thank you to the friends and family who read it, helped me edit, and offered feedback. While I don’t plan to complete this project, I believe God will use this experience as a foundation for the future. Publishing a book isn’t impossible, it’s just not on my agenda right now.

What is in store for 2021? I honestly have no idea. Our current COVID restrictions will expire on January 11th. It’s almost impossible to plan when you don’t know what will be allowed. We will be jumping back into school. MOPS & MOMSnext took a holiday break and will resume again. We will continue to meet online at least through March. My birthday is in two weeks and I’m unsure what celebrating it will look like.

I’ve heard sentiments about wanting 2020 to be done, but it looks like 2021 is going to start out very similar to 2020. The virus and it’s ramifications aren’t going to disappear because it’s a new year. I am hopeful that we will see change toward “normal” in 2021. I will continue to do the best I can with what I’ve got. I will prioritize my faith, my family, and my community (however COVID restrictions allow). As the world works to return to normal, I will prayerfully consider what old things I pick back up and what things I have truly walked away from. 2021 is a chance for a fresh start. Happy New Year!

Watching their friendship deepen has been one of my biggest blessings in 2020.
Found some snow on the last day of 2020!
First time sledding was a hit!
Owen lost his 3rd tooth of 2020!
We spent NYE air frying everything! We are loving this air fryer lid for our Instant Pot.
My Top 9 Instagram Posts of 2020: Family Pictures. Easter. Baby Blanket Quilts by Nana. Green Eggs and Ham Cookies. Mother’s Day. Visiting GG. Sunset. Decorating for Christmas. Mother’s Day Shoutout to Friends & Family.
 

What I’m Reading & What I’m Loving – December 2020 December 30, 2020

Here marks one year of keeping track of my books on the blog, as well as the things that made me happy each month. It’s been fun to document each month and share the simple things that made an impression on me. Now that we are wrapping up 2020, I can say that I surpassed my goal of reading 100 books this year and landed at 137 as of this afternoon. Obviously, books mean a great deal to me, but never before have they matter quite as much as they did in 2020. Books took me to new places and introduced me to new people during a time where I was told to stay home and limit my social circles. Books were my entertainment as well as my distraction. This year has been unlike any other and books kept me going. It’s no surprise I read so many. 2020 afforded me plenty of opportunity to read. So here’s to 137 books!

What I’m Reading:

  • Out to Canaan, A New Song, A Common Life, Shepherds Abiding, In This Mountain, Light from Heaven (books 4-9 in the Mitford Series) by Jan Karon – It took me a while to get into the pace of the Mitford series, but after a few books I was sold on the characters in this charming small town. I’m a huge fan of reading a series and love having book after book to dive into. This series took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
  • Home to Holly Springs (book 1 in the Father Tim Series) by Jan Karon – This series picks up after the Mitford series. Father Tim is still the main character, but this book finds him outside of Mitford and revisiting his childhood hometown. Throughout the Mitford series you would get glimpses into Father Tim’s traumatic childhood, but only small bits. This book pulled back the curtain and shared the raw truth of Father Tim’s past.
  • The Home Edit Life by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin – I follow these home organizers on Instagram. I read their first book and recently watched their series on Netflix. I love the pictures in this book. I love the step by step instructions. I love home organization. These ladies inspired me to take it up a notch with my organization this Christmas season. I enjoyed having a project and I loved the book so much I bought my own copy with Christmas money.
  • The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson (not pictured – Kindle library book) – Reading a book by Melody is like watching a Hallmark movie. After the pace of the Mitford books, I wanted a book that I could sail through. This story about about a women who fixes up a beat up camper was sweet.
  • The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson – I read this book right before Christmas and it was perfect for celebrating Christmas week with a Christmas book. Again, I enjoy the Hallmark plotline that is fairly predictable, but heartwarming. Melody’s books are like comfort food for me!

What I’m Loving:

  • Baking – Other than reading, baking was my main project this month. I made five different kinds of cookies. Two of the recipes were an experiment to find a chocolate cookie recipe that Owen would approve of. It was fun to make some Christmas classics like cut-out cookies and gingerbread, but it was also fun to try something new! Bonus, my sister got me a cookie decorating book for Christmas, so more cute cookies are hopefully in my future!
  • Christmas – I needed Christmas this year! I needed books, movies, decorations, crafts, outings – the works! Christmas gave me a something hopeful and exciting to focus on. Currently in Washington state, our COVID restrictions are tight. With so much time at home, Christmas was the perfect distraction. I’m so thankful for the Christmas season we got to celebrate as a family. Even though it was very different than our usual experience, it was a unique gift.
  • Home Organization – I’ve had some fun tweaking my home organization. I picked up more storage containers, rearranged our books by color, and replaced broken or worn household times. It was a fun project to focus on the house and fine-tune our systems. After a year spent mostly at home, I can see how our home has changed. The boys’ rooms now display more artwork and things that matter to them. Toys are played with often. The kitchen and laundry room are well-used. A well-lived-in house calls for practical systems of maintenance. I’m a nerd, but I love it!
  • Playing UPS – One of the highlights of my month was our gift delivery days to our families. We got to see the people who matter most to us even if the visits were short, distanced, and in masks. I miss long, leisurely visits with my people, but seeing them in-person for a short time did my soul good.