Things I loved, learned, etc this winter

I’m considering winter over. It’s been sunny a few days in a row(!) here in Seattle, so hello, spring! My kids keep asking whether it’s summer. Sure the temps are in the 40s, but we’re in a summer state of mind in our house and I will not go backwards.

I wanted to do a monthly recap in 2021, but that was a bit too lofty of a goal, so I’m doing a seasonal recap, instead. Let’s see if I can keep this going for more than one season…

Now let’s recap winter.

Things I Watched/Listened To (and loved):

  • Pantsuit Politics podcast – one of my favorites of 2020 (leans democrat/liberal)
  • What Fresh Hell podcast – for motherhood entertainment
  • @SharonSaysSo on Instagram – to learn about our government/current events/whales (nonpartisan)
  • The Flight Attendant show on HBO Max – a thriller that was funny enough for me to get into
  • Hallmark Christmas movies – I had never watched a Hallmark movie before this past holiday season and now I’m OBSESSED.
  • Bridgerton on Netflix – I mean, you’ve watched this already, right?! I’m going to read the books as soon as I get through the library hold list.
  • Selling Sunset on Netflix – this was a true guilty pleasure. I don’t often watch reality tv, but when I do, it’s stuff like this.
  • Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ – this was a pure joy to watch and both Tim and I loved it and recommended it to everyone we know.

Things I Read (and loved):

** I gave these books all 4 or more stars on StoryGraph, which is what I now use instead of Goodreads

  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (my first five star review of 2021!)
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  • Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
  • Wintering by Katherine May
  • The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • Dirt by Mary Marantz
  • Nothing To Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen

Things I Bought (and loved):

  • Dear Kate period underwear. I bought a few pairs soooo ready to hate them, but now I don’t know how I lived without this product. I no longer wear pantyliners or pads during the day for DivaCup leak issues. I’ll leave it there, but this underwear is worth purchasing, and I prefer them to Thinx.
  • Girlfriend leggings – because all I wear are leggings these days, and I love this company. Also, they’re eco-friendly!
  • A coffee subscription to Camano Island Coffee Roasters – they’re local, which I love, but if you aren’t local to Washington, you should still be drinking coffee from here. Just my completely unbiased opinion (wink). I order a bag of their monthly coffee for Tim, and a bag of espresso for me. We are both huge fans and I wish I had done this as a birthday present!
  • A light therapy lamp – to help beat the winter blues.

Things I Learned:

  • How to drive our truck. We bought a Ford F350 in August and I’d been refusing to drive it because I’m generally afraid to drive big cars. Well, then ski season started and I had no way to get to the mountains without Tim driving me. That was the motivation I needed, and I did the dang thing. It wasn’t so much learning to drive as much as it was learning that I can do things that intimidate me. (And now I enjoy driving the truck, but I still can’t park it well.)
  • Changing the placement of apps on my phone will (temporarily) cause me to rethink whether I’m just clicking on an app out of habit or intention. I plan on doing this every few weeks.
  • To check the dang tea label. I was drinking caffeinated tea for months at bedtime and thought I was suffering from crazy insomnia. I was regularly staying up until 4am just completely energized.  Finally I realized it wasn’t insomnia, I just bought the caffeinated version of my favorite herbal tea and was chugging it in bed every night. I was so, so mad at myself. (Amazon sent me the wrong boxes. I wish I could say this was the first time this whole fiasco happened, but nope, I did this earlier in 2020 too… and it took me months to realize the mistake!)

My love language is giving and receiving any and all book/podcast/show/product recommendations, so if you have any, let me know!

Posted in favorite things | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Where To Play In The Snow Near Seattle

Before I moved to Seattle, I didn’t realize that it never snows here. I mean, I shouldn’t say never, because the forecast is predicting snow maybe even today (fingers crossed!), but generally, snow doesn’t stick on the ground here and even one inch of snow will cancel all of the things.

However, if we want to play in the snow, we can drive an hour into the mountains and there it is! That’s why we go sledding every Christmas, so that I can ensure my kids always have the white Christmas I always hoped for growing up. Dreams being realized over here, people. If you follow me on Instagram you know that we go skiing a lot in the winter/spring, but since Phoebe isn’t quite ready for that, sledding is our favorite winter family activity.

(Pic from 2019 when I was pregnant with Phoebe!)

Our favorite place to play in the snow near Seattle is Hyak Sno-Park. This is an area about an hour away from Seattle. It’s very easy to get to (right off the highway!) and it has a big sledding hill, as well as a much smaller ‘hill’ for younger kids. We mainly only use the small hills because our kids have an easier time running back up and it can easily entertain them for about an hour or two. At Hyak there’s also a lot of space for kids to build snowmen and have snowball fights and do all of the snow things when they get bored of sledding.

Hyak Sno-Park has a huge parking lot, bathrooms, and is a trailhead for groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. It’s great! However, to provide these services, Hyak Sno-Park requires a daily sno-park permit or a seasonal sno-park permit plus special groomed trails permit sticker. There is a booth at the entrance to the parking lot and they will check to make sure you have the appropriate pass to get in!

Also worth nothing, this parking lot has 150 parking spaces and they fill up early! So if you want to sled at Hyak, I recommend getting there early (before 10am), possibly closer to lunch time (around 12pm when people might be leaving), or late in the afternoon. We went earlier in the season (December) and on Christmas and had no trouble finding a spot, but when we have gone skiing in the area on weekends, we see the sign on the highway saying the parking lot is full.

If you don’t want to deal with the crowds at Hyak Sno-Park, I recommend going to Gold Creek Pond to go snowshoeing. I’ve also seen people there with sleds, so I think there must be some small hills/mounds near there for younger children to go sledding, but I’ve personally never done that. However, it is a wonderful place to see some winter wonderland scenery. Kids don’t need to wear snowshoes (most of the time, at least), and can play / walk in snow boots. You’ll need to park on the street (buy a sno-pass ahead of time because there is no machine or attendant there to buy one!), make your way to the trail (which starts near the porta-potties) and walk to the lake. If everyone is still happy, do the one-mile loop around the lake! Sidenote: The one time we did that, Isabelle screamed the entire time (she was under a year old) and I am still scarred for life and have never tried it again. But that’s neither here nor there and I’m sure you will not have that kind of experience… hopefully. God speed. But seriously, this is a gorgeous place and you should definitely visit in the winter. Just be prepared to park pretty far down the road because this trailhead does not have a parking lot in the winter and it gets very crowded.

Things to do (with kids!) in the winter in Bend, Oregon

Both Hyak and Gold Creek Pond are great and well worth the visit! I recommend Hyak Sno-Park for sledding and Gold Creek Pond for snowshoeing or a winter walk, especially if your kid is small enough to wear in a hiking pack and won’t necessarily appreciate sledding.

Also, there are three new sno-parks  near Seattle that were created this year! I can’t wait to check them out! The parks are a few minutes further east from Seattle, but if you don’t want to navigate crowds, it is probably worth the slightly longer drive. I also don’t think these new snow play areas have sledding, so they might be best for kids who either want to snowshoe or play in the snow.

I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy some snow this winter!

Posted in adventuring, seattle, toddler activities | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Is Saving My Life Right Now?

In one of her most recent blog posts, Modern Mrs. Darcy asks us ‘what is saving your life right now?’ (Actually, I hear this question all of the time in Jen Hatmaker’s podcast and supposedly it’s a concept originally mentioned in Barbara Brown Taylor’s book.)

I have been in a weirdly introspective place the last few months, but especially this month. In the middle of January I felt super energetic, productive, and unstoppable for a few days and then crashed and burned the following days. Subsequently I embarked on a mental mission to figure out what could be causing this feeling of burnout. I now know a bit more about what is completely draining the life out of me, but what is saving it?

Saving My Life Right Now:

// Reading every day.

I have read every day since as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading at least one book… or at the very least a large collection of articles. Reading every night before bed is what calms my mind down and allows me to escape from the world a bit, or gives me a new perspective on life. Nonfiction has been my jam the last few years. Dirt was my last five-star read.

// Outdoor time (for the girls).

I have a new appreciation for outdoor time after the smoke in September made it impossible for us to be out there for weeks. These days, the only time my girls are not making a complete mess indoors is when they’re making a mess outdoors. We don’t do screen time every day (or really at all), so everyone is in chaos mode every waking hour. What keeps me sane is being able to tell them to go play outdoors. The girls are probably outside for about 2-3 hours each day when they aren’t in school and are outside for about 6 hours on the days when they attend outdoor school (which is 4 hours long). When they’re outside I get a bit of a sensory break (they are LOUD), and it gives me the opportunity to clean up a few messes before they make more.

// The Ivy Lee method.

My to-do list has not been working for me. I have some things in my bullet journal that I have been rewriting on my monthly to-do lists for YEARS, which I realize is absolutely ridiculous. I have put off hiring a landscaper for the past 6 months and it’s not even a hard task. I can’t explain this about myself. HOWEVER, then I heard about the The Ivy Lee Method and my life is forever changed for the better. This is not rocket science, but the idea of prioritizing six things every day and not being able to move onto the next thing until the prior one is complete has made me much more productive in the span of days. I have crossed many things off my life in the past 72 hours, hiring a landscaper included. Phew.

// Walks with friends.

I loved taking walks with friends way before the pandemic made it necessary, and now I really love it. Rain or shine, a walk is a daily event for me and Oz, and if a friend can join it just makes my day/week. I guess I just like to be in constant motion, or maybe I think better when I’m moving? I don’t know what it is but there is not much I love more than taking a walk and chatting with a good friend. This includes a walk while having a great phone conversation, which I’m trying to do a bit more of these days (instead of texting).

// Seeing mountains.

I never get tired of the PNW views, and seeing the beauty of God’s creation fills up my soul every single time. This has been especially true this month as I’ve had some opportunities to escape the dreary Seattle weather and find some snow in the mountains!

// Outdoor school (for the girls).

Schools have been virtual since March here in Seattle, and I remain endlessly thankful that we signed the girls up for outdoor school (after we took them out of public school) so that they have the opportunity to meet new friends, learn from teachers (who are not me!) and have some hours away from me and each other. It’s not the being away from them that is saving my life (because I still have Phoebe with me so it’s not ‘free time’), it’s feeling like they have the opportunity to consistently socialize with their peers.

There are so many things slowly (and not so slowly!) draining the life right out of me, but these few things are saving it and helping me retain some shreds of sanity.

Onto a new month! Let’s go, February.

Posted in currently | Tagged , | 6 Comments

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:


Lonesome Dove; Larry McMurtry


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?!

Posted in reading | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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


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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment