Book Recommendations from 2020

I read 71 books last year (a relatively slow reading year for me!) and I gave 7 of those books a Goodreads rating of 5 stars. I read quality over quantity this year and several of the books were long and heavy (in terms of subject matter) so that’s why I think I read less books than in previous years. Plus I was prioritizing my time a bit differently in 2020 (I tried to sleep more!) so that might have something to do with it, too. But that’s all neither here nor there… I read some good books and want to share them with you! Here are my top fiction and nonfiction book recommendations from 2020.

The Best Books I Read in 2020

For your next read, I recommend:

Fiction:

Lonesome Dove; Larry McMurtry

Non-Fiction:

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago; Alex Kotlowitz

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma; Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Heavy: An American Memoir; Kiese Laymon

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again; Rachel Held Evans

How to Be an Antiracist; Ibram X. Kendi

Dirt: Growing Strong Roots in What Makes the Broken Beautiful; Mary Marantz


Can you tell I have a strong preference for non-fiction (this year and always)?! I’ll write another post with my four-star book ratings which will have more fiction titles in it.

Have you read any of these?! Thoughts?!

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How I’m Planning For 2021 (Is my Enneagram 7 Showing?)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

There is nothing I love more than changes and new beginnings. Seriously. I look forward to the new year SO MUCH. I told my kids that New Years Eve is super exciting because starting on January 1st, every day is an opportunity to make this year the best year ever. Will I lose this steam later in the year? Yes. My enthusiasm may be gone in a week, who knows. (HA! Only kind of kidding.)

So let’s embrace this new start while we’re still optimistic, shall we?

(I just WISH my bullet journal skills were this great! People are so artistic/creative!)

I’m preparing for 2021 by…

+ Setting up my bullet journal

I am not an expert on bullet journaling, but if you want to get into it – and you should – search for videos on YouTube! This is the video tutorial that got me hooked.

+ Answering journaling prompts about 2020

Favorite questions for the end of the year include:

  1. What went well last year?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. What were some of my favorite memories?
  5. What were some favorite traditions I want to continue?
  6. What were life-draining activities?
  7. What were life giving activities?
  8. Where do I want to be in a year?

+ Drafting goals

I take the question ‘where do I want to be in a year?’ and use this to draft my list of goals for the new year. I keep this list short. I think last year I had 5 things and this year I plan to have around that many.

+ Starting a ‘to-do’ list

My to-do list is separate from my goals for the year, because these are items that are not at all exciting or even helpful in terms of self-improvement, but they’re pesky items I need to get done. For instance, this year I want to print pictures for a gallery wall, create a photo book of Phoebe’s first year, etc.

+ Creating even more lists

My lists include hikes I want to do, places I want to travel, campgrounds I want to make reservations at this summer, restaurants I want to order from (or eat at, when we get back to that point!), books I want to read, etc. I LOVE writing lists so this is a fun thing for me to do and I find myself referencing back to the lists often. I used to keep these lists on my phone, but I find that if I keep them in my bullet journal they’re way more likely to be looked at again.

I’m ready to make some memories in 2021, that is FOR SURE. I hope you had a wonderful start to the new year!

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Happy Holidays! Coffee Date.

I haven’t been creating much online (or on social media) the past few weeks because I’ve been creating different types of things in ‘real’ life: Cookies, decorations, memories, essays, gift lists, to-do lists, really just lots of lists… and it’s actually been really good!

I didn’t even realize I was taking a hiatus until I saw my last Instagram post (until very recently) was Thanksgiving. Time flies, is what they tell us over and over again. It’s true.

Currently I’m sitting at my kitchen table, drinking a hemp milk latte, and listening to Spotify’s ‘Christmas Coffeehouse’ playlist. Or at least I’m trying to hear the festive music over Phoebe’s happy yelling. She’s playing with the Do-A-Dot paints and is VERY excited about it. The older girls are out with Tim picking up stamps and envelopes for the Christmas cards that have finally arrived. It’s a (relatively) peaceful little morning around here (for now)!

Let’s pretend you’re over here drinking a coffee with me while our kids play together, shall we? Those were the good old days!

If we were on a coffee playdate…

+ I’d tell you that every year I’m surprised by how many addresses need to be updated for Christmas cards. Everyone I know moves every single year, apparently. Or if they haven’t moved that year, I can’t remember what year they did move so I basically have to contact everyone in my address book every single year to find out where the heck they live. This is going to be a thing for the rest of my life, I’m sure.

+ I’d admit that sending Christmas cards is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. And (of course!) I love receiving them, too! It gives me an excuse to think a little bit extra about all of our loved ones plus I love seeing all of the family pictures!

+ I’d say that homeschool took a pause in November. For maybe the entire month. But, now we’re back into it! Kind of! Some weeks I’m focusing on it and I’m completely letting it go for other weeks when I have too much other stuff going on or if the kids seem disinterested. I did buy Isabelle her own math workbook, though, and she LOVES IT.

+ I’d inquire about your Thanksgiving. We spent a quiet day at home. Usually we spend the holiday with friends in Oregon, so it was a bit sad this year to not be able to do that. Instead, we went on a local hike and made a small dinner at home. I let the girls pick the dishes they wanted us to make and they must have been listening to a Thanksgiving-themed podcast because they picked out all traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. It was great, but the girls don’t eat Thanksgiving food so I’m not sure whey they decided mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie were the way to go. I, however, loved it all. (I picked biscuits for my side! Delicious.)

+ I’d ask you what you’ve been reading lately. I’m currently reading ‘Dirt‘. Three good books I’ve read lately are ‘Men We Reaped‘, ‘Transcendent Kingdom‘, and ‘Lonesome Dove‘.

+ I’d be interrupted mid-sentence every 30 seconds to tell Phoebe to “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!” This blog post is taking me 19 years to write because Phoebe has gone from the paint, to markers (not drawing with them, just taking all of the caps off and leaving them strewn around the house), to now playdough. Toddlers are exhausting.

+ Speaking of which, it has just occurred to me that next year I’ll have only a toddler at home, since both girls will be at school. I’ve never had *just* a 2.5 year old at home! What do I do with her?! I guess we’ll be frequenting parks, the zoo, and possibly any and all toddler classes. (Please Lord let all of the things be open next fall!)

+ I would say that the end of the year and the beginning of a new year are my FAVORITE TIMES. Give me all of the lists of favorites. Of the bests. Of the worsts. I click on every single ‘year in pictures’ link there is. I will listen to all of the podcasts. There is nothing I love more than a good list, especially a year-end list. Expect me to write a few, although if last year is any indication, some will come out in like… July.

There is not enough time to catch up on ALL OF THE THINGS, but at least we tried before you had to rush home for lunch and naptime!

In the words of the ladies of Pantsuit Politics (my fav political podcast), I hope you have the best holiday season available to you!

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Homeschool Resources We Are Using

Along with many other families, we unexpectedly got thrown into homeschooling this year!

The decision was pretty easy for me, as I had (and have!) no interest in doing a hybrid or virtual approach, and I didn’t want my kids going back in person full-time… basically school wasn’t happening for us this year – so homeschool was the only option for us! (I did feel torn because I didn’t want our public school to lose funding when we withdrew, but I didn’t see any way around that.)

At first I was going to opt out of school altogether. I have a preschooler and a kindergartener, do they really need school?! No, probably not. However, my kids love more structured learning (in small doses) and Clara is an older kindergartner, so I want her to be confident in her knowledge going into first grade next year. Plus, I was pretty excited about the opportunity to teach them at home for a year!

For all of these reasons, I decided to commit to doing some sort of homeschool for the 2020-2021 school year and wanted to share what materials we’re utilizing in case you need some additional resources / inspiration!

Homeschool resources for kindergarten and first grade

Homeschool Resources for Kindergarten & First Grade

+ Overall Approach: Charlotte Mason via AmblesideOnline

+ Math: Lessons For A Living Education

+ Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful (the content for the younger grades is free via PDF format, but I opted to purchase the bundle for Level 1 instead of printing it myself)

+ Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears

+ Foreign Language (Spanish): PBS – Salsa

+ Devotional: Leading Little Ones To God

We’re doing a lot of reading from the books recommended through AmblesideOnline for both curriculum and free reading. We also read books suggested by Read-Aloud Revival.

What I’ve learned is that there is sooooo much content and resources out there! I did purchase the workbooks, but AmblesideOnline is free, and we get most of our books from the library.

I also want to mention that we were lucky enough to have the option to send the girls to a fully outdoor school for two days a week, so they’re attending that. I feel like we have the perfect balance of homeschool, nature time, and socialization. Phew! Every once in a while (and this is one of those times!) I hit a spot in parenthood where I truly feel like I’m doing what is absolutely best for my family, and it feels like sweet, sweet relief!

How is school going for your little ones this fall?! Let me know if there are any resources out there I should know about!

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Maximizing Cozy

Once the weather started to get a little colder here in the PNW, I started to panic just a bit. Colder weather in Seattle means there is snow falling in the mountains, which means hiking season is coming to an end. (Although we do hike year round, just on more local hikes!) It also means that we’re about to spend more time at home and indoors – especially in these pandemic times. I am the opposite of a homebody, so this idea doesn’t necessarily fill me with excitement.

But, I decided to embrace the season instead of fight it, and to do that, I determined that I needed to gear up on all the things to ensure I could live my best and coziest life.

Here are the things keeping me cozy:

+ These joggers (especially good for us short people! I’m 5’2″).

+ This sweatshirt which I may just wear every single day from now on. (It’s currently on sale at Anthro!)

+ All of the fall candles. Just any of them. Although I personally love this one for fall/winter.

+ This wool blanket (for outdoors or indoors, but I mainly bought it for outdoors). I’ve used this a bunch of times over the past month and it keeps me cozy! Tim doesn’t like it as an indoor blanket because this particular one is not soft, but I use it for outdoor hangouts and it’s great.

+ Wool socks. I wear these with my Birkenstocks, because I am a true Pacific Northwesterner now. If living here has taught me one thing, it’s the importance of wearing wool underlayers! If my feet are warm, the rest of me will stay warm. This is in sharp contrast to my life in Chicago in my early 20’s when I hobbled around snow drifts in high heels all winter. Live and learn, self.

+ This tea. It’s my all-the-time favorite, but especially cozy in colder weather months. Just make sure you get the decaf version if you plan to drink it at night. I thought I had insomnia for A YEAR because I Tim had unintentionally bought the caffeinated version and we kept re-ordering it… just take it from me that it was a disaster.

+ Lamps. I started turning off our overhead lights and using lamps instead. I love the atmosphere it creates!

+ This weighted blanket. I love our weighted blanket and it is especially nice for our sensory-seeking kids as well!

+ My Kindle. I read every single night before bed with dim lighting, a candle nearby, a blanket over my legs, a mug of tea in my hand, and a Spotify playlist in the background. It’s been the best way to end these fall days, especially if I can hear the rain falling on our roof! I use the Libby app to download books from the library onto my Kindle. Here’s my Goodreads account if you want to see what I’ve been reading.

+ Speaking of Spotify, I’m loving this playlist lately, but there are so many good and moody fall playlists out there!

I hope you’re fall is off to the coziest start possible!

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