Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Week Three At Home: Feeling Like Groundhog’s Day… April 4, 2020

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 9:00 am

We’ve now accomplished three weeks at home with another month still ahead. The days are starting to feel a bit like Groundhog’s Day. Once the morning routine of getting ready, tidying bedrooms, and eating breakfast is finished, we jump into school. Then it’s time to do a chore, eat lunch, and head into quiet time. After we’ve rested, it’s free time, dinner time, and family time. Repeat. Friday and Saturdays are school-free. Sunday mornings are spent in the living room watching church online. Repeat the week. 

I’ve found myself interested more than ever in social media. What is everyone up to these days? I’m curious because I miss people and because I’m looking for inspiration for new things I can try at home. I lack new content to share on my social media pages right now. I can only post so many pictures of school being done at the table, the boys playing games, and outside time. With so much sameness in each day, I’m not feeling too original. I realize that this is not a big deal. So what if we’re doing the same things on repeat? They are good things. We are trying our best to make healthy choices and enjoy our time as a family. This new routine might not be flashy or glamorous, but it is good. It’s working. We’re doing the best we can and that’s all that matters.

Despite my curiosity with social media, I have found a growing tension. I’ve noticed a theme where a topic is presented in two extremes. Here are some examples. People are sharing about homeschooling and there are counter-posts about not schooling at home during this period of time. People are sharing the ways they are working out and staying healthy during this time and there are posts asking people to stop sharing their workout videos. Yesterday I saw a post about choosing joy and then another post about stopping the spread of false joy. It seems like there are mixed messages.

Here is my take on the tension – let’s offer love and grace right now. People are posting about what they value, what they are passionate about, what is helping them get through this season, and how they are feeling. We are all making different choices based on what we can handle and what is best for our ourselves and our families. Hearts are tender – at least I know mine is. I want love and grace to be what I share with others, even if they are making different choices than me. If the tension becomes too great, I will scale back my exposure or step away from social media. This would be my suggestion to anyone who is frustrated, overwhelmed, or annoyed with the content that is coming up in their social media feeds. I quickly learned that I could only access news updates once or twice a day. I can only absorb so much. Now I feel like the same might true of social media. 

My hope and prayer right now is that we will find ways to stand on common ground. While we might be separated by distance, may our hearts not become distant. This is such a unique time to sift through all the noise in our lives. We decide which voices we will let be the loudest. I am praying for health – both physical and mental. I am praying for strength and endurance has we continue this marathon. I am praying for joy – in the small, ordinary moments. It will be so interesting to see what the takeaways will be on the other side of this crisis. I remain hopeful for the future – even if the foreseeable future looks a lot like Groundhog’s Day.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

My Groundhog’s Day Photo Reel:

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You will notice that we are living in the same few sets of pajamas these days. They are washed daily and put right back on.

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Owen has started naming craters on the moon. So far he has named the pickle crater and the cotton ball crater.

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Working on an April Showers activity with washable markers and water droppers.

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The water droppers were so much fun that I gave them two cups and let them squirt water from one cup to the other. They loved it!

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Making a private phone call in the minivan since my usual spot phone call spot was occupied!

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What my mornings look like – school supplies laid out on the counter so I’m ready for each activity.

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Chicken adoration time!

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Graham was brave and petted Perch!

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Owen’s solar system set up!

 

Like A Spring Day April 1, 2020

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 7:03 pm
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One of the many moments of hail this week.

Our spring days this week have been quite the roller-coaster. One minute it’s beautifully sunny with blue sky then the clouds turn dark and it’s pouring rain and hailing. This pattern repeats itself throughout the day. Sunny and cheerful to dark and gloomy and back again. I feel my own emotions reflected in the ever-changing weather. At moments, I am sunny and positive. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I can do this. At other moments, I am stormy and gray. My emotions are dark. The blue skies are hidden from view. I can rotate through these very different outlooks in a matter of minutes. 

As I wrestle with all these thoughts and emotions, I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone. Everyone I’ve talk with about this analogy has been able to relate. While I am isolated in my home, I am not isolated in my feelings. Many others understand right where I am at and that helps me make peace with the whirlwind inside me.

Monday was a hard day for me. It was the day I noticed my heart reflecting the weather. I sat down to journal my thoughts because I figured it would be healthy to write down some of the emotions I was carrying. As I was writing, I could feel panic rising within me. Normally writing helps me process, but this wasn’t working as planned. I was being stirred up instead of calmed down. I needed a new plan.

As my husband’s work day wrapped up, I shared with him that I needed to get out of the house. He agreed and before long we had our family loaded up and heading to McDonald’s (don’t judge). My family ordered meals, I ordered a chocolate milkshake and ate Owen’s chicken nuggets. As the boys happily munch and played with new toys, Jeremy drove us around back roads. It wasn’t a long outing, but it was a game changer. It was the reset I needed.

I don’t mind time at home. My home is my happy place, but this is the first time that I have ever spent this much time at home. I’m realizing that while I’m good with spending long periods of time at home, I do need small windows were I get out. I used to schedule one day a week were I intentionally stayed home. Now I’ll need to have one a day week where I intentionally get out of the house. What a flip! For the first week home, the boys and I stopped by the office to say hi to Jeremy (this was before the stay home order in our state). For the second week at home, we drove to pick up a homework packet from Owen’s school. This week it was the drive to McDonald’s and taking the long way home.

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Sometimes mental health looks like a milkshake and taking the long way home!

I’m learning about myself through these new circumstances. It is a journey of self-discovery going through these new waters. I’ve found myself slow to jump into big projects or to schedule video meetings. I needed time to absorb the changes to my world and figure out my new priorities. At first, I went into family protection mode – how can I make this okay for my boys? How do I make our home the haven it needs to be for our family? I truly feel that my biggest responsibility is now within the walls of my house. The responsibilities of school, faith, family and friendship all happen here now. I want to make the most of this unique opportunity.

It seems like the world has slowed down and sped up at the same time. I’ve been bombarded with nonstop online content at my disposable. Suddenly every ministry and organization has videos to watch and articles to read. Calendars are being filled with phone calls and video conferences. These are all good things, but I’ve hit a sensory overload of screen time and information absorption. I can only handle so much. I don’t want to waste the gift of this season. There is always something I could be doing – a new project to start, another person to connect with. But I also know that I am a finite being. I am processing a major shift in my world. It’s okay to scale back. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. And right now that is my family.

I want to make meals and eat around the table. I want to do chores as a family. I want to read books, do art projects, and help my boys do school from our dining room table. I want to help my husband with his creative ideas. I want to support him as he learns his new schedule as well. I want to watch to TV and just generally enjoy being together for this season. Home takes top priority. And so does mental health. I will do my best to be happy at home while occasionally driving to get milkshakes.

In the stormy moments, when it feels like life is a down pour and the hail is hammering the ground, I will remind myself that the sun is just behind those clouds. If I give it a minute, the storm will clear and the light will shine again. I will find a break in the rain, a breath of fresh air, and hopefully a second-wind to keep going.

Here are the a few Bible verses I’ve been keeping close on hand these days:

Psalm 33:4 ~ For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.

Proverbs 3:5 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Psalm 23:1-3 ~ The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

 

The Ups and Downs of Week Two at Home March 27, 2020

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 12:27 pm

Last week was truly a remarkable start to our time at home. I was in crisis management mode and threw myself 150% into making things as okay as possible. I’m not sure if the extra stress and energy I used caught up with me, but I woke up on Saturday with a migraine. I  randomly have one or two a year. The only solution is to sleep them off. Unfortunately, I spent the entire day in bed last Saturday. It was extremely disappointing and I felt like my body was really letting me down. I’m not going to pretend like everything is okay. Everyone knows that things are crazy right now. I can’t pretend to be unaffected.

I assumed that things would improve this week as I adjusted to our new normal, but that was a false assumption. I’m good at false assumptions these days. When the world started to change, I envisioned life getting smaller and slower, but still including people. I saw myself having a few play dates, maybe having family over for dinner, or hosting church for a small group in our house. I saw our family going on special outings to fill the time. None of these assumptions have panned out. There have been so many small disappointments to absorb. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t taking its toll. 

Despite the disappointments, I am incredibly grateful for how week two at home has gone. The boys continue to do well with our new schedule. We’ve found a good flow. They are excited for school each day. Since we are doing school only a few hours a day, it’s very manageable (and fun). The boys have had plenty of time to play inside and outside. Even with the rainy weather, we’ve all been outside everyday. You can’t keep us indoors! I’m enjoying the fresh air and exercise daily. My fitbit is very happy with me!

Wednesday was Jeremy’s 39th birthday. I’m so glad it wasn’t the big 4-0 because I hope to make that birthday a big deal. 39 can be quiet, but 40 needs to be extra special! Jeremy was working from home that day. He worked on a film project with a special friend, Wilson (think Castaway). He included the whole family in his creative project. We hope that his video will be included in our church’s video announcements this Sunday. It was fun to have a family project to work on and the boys love Wilson. To celebrate Jeremy, we gave him birthday cards from each of us. For our school craft, we baked treats and read a book about making a birthday cake. My parents dropped off pizza for us at the door. We sent home pieces of dessert with them. I was bummed that the birthday celebration had to be small, but Jeremy had a great attitude. I’m thankful that we got extra time with him on his special day.

My mental countdown is to April 27th when hopefully my boys will be back at school. Right now in Washington State, we are under a “Stay home, Stay Healthy” order that lasts for two weeks. The order to stay home didn’t really change all that much for the boys and me. We’ve been home and we will continue to be home. We are 1/3 of the way through our school break. After this next week, we’ll be half way done! There are so many things to be thankful for right now. I’m thankful that our family took a drive to pick up a kindergarten homework packet on Tuesday. I got to see the outside world and have a quick conversation with non-relatives. I’m thankful for the fun mail the boys got from Nana & Papa yesterday with projects and a game to keep them busy. I’m thankful for pizza leftovers. I’m thankful for Jeremy’s birthday and reasons to celebrate.

I’m learning as a go. I’m hoping I can work through the stress in a healthy way. I’m allowing myself to rest more. I’m spending time in my Bible and praying. I’m memorizing Scripture. I savor the few quiet moments as I find them. I couldn’t sustain 150% effort for six weeks. I’m learning how to stay engaged without overdoing it. This isn’t a short sprint, this is a marathon. I want to finish well at the end of this extreme season.

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Apparently collecting tadpoles is an annual experiment for our family. This is our third year! 

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Church from home with the family. It was a special treat to sit with Jeremy through an entire gathering. Owen sang at the top of his lungs during worship. I almost couldn’t sing because I was fighting back tears. 

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Jeremy was able to get so much yard work done during the nice weather. The house looks great. Here are the boys enjoying some outside time and checking on the tadpoles.

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Owen is Jeremy’s shadow. Owen is always close beside Jeremy when he is home.

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The rain can’t keep us inside!

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Rainy days call for blanket forts!

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Working from home is easy, right?

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Family dinner with Wilson

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Happy birthday, Jeremy!

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ABC Activities

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Helping Jeremy make video announcements

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A new shark game from Nana & Papa!

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Nana & Papa got Owen a space science kit. He is in heaven!!! 

 

Week One at Home! March 20, 2020

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 9:20 am

On Thursday, March 12th, I had a friend over in the morning with her son. My friend and I talked on the couch while her son played happily in the playroom. It was nice to catch up and enjoy community together. We talked briefly about the coronavirus, but it wasn’t our main topic of discussion. It’s crazy the difference a day makes. I had no clue on the March 12th all that would unfold on the March 13th. I heard people making jokes about Friday the 13th, but I put no stock in such superstitions. And then it seemed that everything changed on that Friday the 13th.

We’ve had one week of our new routine and so far, so good! The weather has been sunny and that is a huge part of this week’s success. The boys have had plenty of outside time to play. We’ve found a good flow with doing schoolwork in the mornings, resting in the afternoons, and playing in the evenings. The days have been different, but different isn’t bad. This change has been good.

Our two hour window for school includes reading, writing, math, crafts, music, games and exercise. We pause for snacks. I’ll stop to move the laundry along. It’s been a relaxed pace with no stress, rush, or deadlines. Our extra free time has been spent outside. Next week when the rain comes back, we’ll focus on building blanket forts, watching movies, baking together. Next week is also Jeremy’s birthday, so we can pour ourselves into birthday prep – making cards, making a special dessert, decorating the house to celebrate.

We’ve celebrated as much as possible this last week. St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring gave us plenty to get excited about! For St. Patrick’s Day, we watched a video about St. Patrick and why we celebrate him. We also watched a Riverdance video and a time-lapse video of dying the Chicago River green (that was the favorite). I’ve been playing instrumental music around the house, so on Tuesday we listened to Celtic/Irish music. We did some St. Patrick’s Day coloring sheets. I attempted to dye as many things possible green at dinner, but the boys weren’t a fan. Graham did eat the green pancakes, but passed on the green eggs. Our small gift to the boys for St. Patrick’s Day was a set of glow in the dark stars for their bedrooms. Since they glow green, Jeremy and I felt like the gift was on theme. The stars were a big hit and the boys enjoyed putting them up on their walls.

The first day of spring was a little less exciting than St. Patrick’s Day. Our craft for the day was supposed to be painting flowers, but the boys wanted to paint space images instead. I didn’t mind since they were being creative. We read a book about apples growing (starting at blossoms in spring) and played Hi-Ho Cherrio (math). We talked about the cycle of the seasons and how everything is waking up and coming alive again. Once it warmed up, we went outside to document signs of spring. We found flowers, seed pods and a few green leaves starting to form on trees.

When I look at the week we’ve had, I am hopeful for the remaining weeks ahead. We’ve had a great time at home. The boys are living an adventure everyday. I’m thankful for the friendship they share. I’m thankful for the exploration they’ve done in the sunshine. I’m thankful for the time they’ve had to play. The boys know that there is a virus going around that it makes certain people sick. They know that our risk level is low, but we are staying home to make sure other people don’t get sick. The boys aren’t showing signs of stress or fear (they don’t quite understand the magnitude of this crisis). Jeremy and I are careful about our own attitudes and what we are reflecting to the kids. We are trying to make life as normal and as fun as possible right now.

When I first thought about being home for six weeks with the kids, my first concern was their education. I’ve calmed down a bit from the initial concern I felt. I had a friend share that 2-3 hours a week of academic time wards off the brain drain that kids experience over a long break. I still plan on taking our spring break at the beginning of April. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with no play dates or outings, but we’ll take a true break from the new routine we’ve started. As much as I miss sending my boys to school, I love that I’m not making a lunch every morning or waking up kids to get ready. Owen has been staying up a little later than usual to use the telescope before bed. He has been sleeping in and resting during nap time. I know this is good for him. Graham loves having Owen home as his buddy. Even though they fight, I love watching their friendship. I’m glad they have each other during this time.

We are forging a new normal and it’s been good. I’m all for slowing down. I’m all for having fun. I’m all for making the most of teachable moments. When my boys reflect on this unexpected break, I’m hopeful they will remember it as a positive adventure. So far, so good. Possibly five weeks more to go!

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Our crazy St. Patrick’s Day outfits. We are living life in our pajamas these days. We do change into clean pajamas each morning.

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Day two of school around the table.

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A glow in the dark puzzle needed to be assembled in the pantry so we could see the end results.

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My attempt at pancake art to look like a clover, green eggs, and green pears.

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Stars on the wall and saying “space!”

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The boys have been hitting the trails in the evening, so I get a few quiet minutes alone. Time to journal and read my digital library book.

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Painting stars and black holes instead of flowers.

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Documenting signs of spring

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Pausing to smell the flowers

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Thankful that the “neighbors” let us draw with chalk on their driveway!

 

A New Adventure Begins March 16, 2020

Filed under: Coronavirus Chronicles — Amy Scott @ 2:34 pm

I remember first hearing about the coronavirus in January and not giving it much thought. I’ve never been one to doomsday over illness. While I heard the story unfolding, I honestly thought life would continue as normal. However, living in Washington State means that “business as usual’ has ceased to be.  Church has changed. School is closed until the end of April at the earliest. Each day brings something new to process and absorb. So let’s dive into this new adventure.

This weekend was my first wedding at the “wedding facility coordinator” at our church. It was supposed to be the biggest of the three weddings I have on the books. The family was able to handle almost everything by themselves. I was on-site to supervise and help as needed, but mostly I was in the background watching things (social distancing). The experience overall was very positive. It was good chance for me to observe before being more active in future weddings. My heart did go out to the couple who had to cut their guest list below 250 when they were expecting much more than that. There was definitely a quiet vibe over the day, but it was still a lovely wedding. The couple is officially married. Their family and close friends were there to celebrate with them. I view that as a success even though plans had to change.

On Friday, as the wedding decorating was happening around the church, I was praying over the announcement I heard was coming – schools closing. My MOPS & MOMSnext group follows the school schedule. I knew that decisions about our group meeting would be based on the decision to close schools. On top of that, school closures meant my kids are on an extended break now. Both boys are doing fantastic at school. They are learning and have great friends. I’m sad that their very positive school experience has been paused. Owen, especially, is blowing me way his capacity for learning right now and I don’t want him to lose that momentum. I’ve been mourning the decision to close schools and not because I don’t want my kids home with me. I love having my kids home. I’m the mom that cried at the end of Christmas break. My sense of mourning comes from something good coming to a close, at least for now.

I had sensed that there might be a gap in the school year coming soon. Before any announcements were made, I had purchased a workbook for Owen. It’s a Brain Quest summer workbook for in-between grades (kindergarten and 1st). Since Owen is already doing 1st grade work, I figured this might be more useful than a kindergarten level book. Owen’s teacher was able to send home a homework pack for this week. After we work through that packet, we’ll start working on the summer book. Over the weekend, I was able to create a Monday-Thursday daily schedule that will include homeschooling. Friday will be family days. I’m praying for good weather over the next six weeks so we can go explore outside and avoid a stir-crazy feeling. I have a chance to dabble in the realm of homeschooling. I’ve often pondered if I would like homeschooling. Now I have an opportunity to test it out.

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This schedule is flexible. I know that both boys operate on a schedule at school. I wanted them to have the security of knowing there is a plan. Owen likes knowing what to expect next.

Today was our first official day of homeschooling. It went well and we accomplished everything on the lesson plan. We started our day with the Pledge of Allegiance. We talked about the day of the week and the weather outside. We moved into worksheets on reading, writing and math. Owen read a book out loud while Graham traced his name and colored. Then we went into music time where we sang and danced to two worship songs. After that it was outside time with 15 minutes of walking/biking. Once we we were back inside, we had a snack and then 15 minutes of educational tablet time. After that we created with Play-Doh and played a math-related board game. Before they could move on to free time, the boys each had to pick a chore to do around the house. Day one was a complete success! Here’s hoping we can keep this up!

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First day of homeschooling!

Our church met yesterday, so Jeremy was at work in the morning. The boys and I stayed home. I did children’s church with the boys. This looked like a Bible story, a song, and praying together. Graham told me that goldfish crackers are a necessary part of children’s church. At 10:00am, our church shared a live video of the gathering. I used my phone and screen mirroring to play the message on the TV. The boys started out watching the gathering with me but then they ran off to play. It was a different way to do church and I’m intrigued to see how online church plays out in the future. It will take some getting used to, but I am thankful for technology that allow us to gather online.

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Church at home

It seems like each day brings new changes. I have my worries and fears. I’m trying my best to take them to God and lay them down. I understand that my anxiety won’t improve anything. I’m working hard to keep a positive attitude in front of my boys. It’s okay to be sad over changes. It’s a delicate balance of validating feelings without being controlled by them. If this was a regular break, I would plan fun outings to keep the boys busy. With even play dates being iffy at this point, I’m not quite sure what six full weeks at home looks like. I’m an introvert and while I’m a big fan of simplifying life, this is new territory for me. A break, sabbatical, vacation from extra responsibilities seems nice now. I’m sure though I will miss my church family and friends. I will miss reading with kindergartners on Tuesdays. I will miss play dates and the social interaction of having company over.

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I was given flowers at the end of the wedding on Saturday. They are a lovely reminder to bring beauty into my home. Life looks different now. I can control my attitude. I can be thankful. I can be present with my loved ones. I’m praying that, even through the weirdness, these could be the best days of our lives. I’m praying that we can learn to slow down. I’m praying that family time will be sweet. I’m praying that education will still move forward. I’m praying that when the bans are lifted we all have a greater appreciation for each other and the world we live in. This is a great opportunity and certainly a new adventure.

Here are pictures from the last week:

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Having so much fun decorating cookies!

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It snowed on Friday and Saturday to add to the weirdness of life. Here is Friday’s snowman made by Jeremy and Graham while I was at church with the wedding.

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Both boys got to make a snowman on Saturday!

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Grandma brought over 50 new markers! I’m sure we’ll put those to good use over the next few weeks!

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Taking a morning to break to walk to in the sunshine!

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Play Doh

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Sum Swamp