What I've Been Reading : 2020 Edition

My reading started off strong in 2020 with a handful of books... until the virus happened. I found myself with less time alone and not very motivated to read while I was battling some health issues. Eventually I got back into the swing of things and was able to read about 16 books for the year. Here's what I read in 2020 in reverse chronological order:

Dutch House by Ann Patchett - This book follows a boy and his sister through pretty much their whole life and follows how their attachment to the Dutch House (and its other occupants) shapes their life.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated by JK Rowling - I'm slowly making my way through these illustrated books with Cora. The girls love looking at the pictures and it is fun to read along with them. Usually I can fly through these books, but it is surprising how long it takes to read out loud.

Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein - This book gives the history of how laws shaped segregation in America. This took a bit to read, but it is well worth it. So informative and I would 100% recommend.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis - Quick listen. I know she is really popular, but it was not my favorite book. It was interesting to hear about a bit of her background, but overall the book was just okay.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption - Bryan Stevenson - Death row lawyer works to get an innocent man acquitted. there is one main story line with smaller cases sprinkled in. All true. There is also a movie.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes  by Suzanne Collins - (The Hunger Games #0) This was a prequel to the Hunger Games and follows along as Snow gets involved with the games. It is interesting to hear about how the games evolved and make connections to characters from the other books.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - Everyone in a Kya's life abandons her, so she figures out how to make her own way in the marshes. Loved this book and I can see why it is so popular. This is one I will probably reread at some point.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham - good parenting tips. I have a couple good takeaways from it, but would probably much rather read with my eyes than via audiobook.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - A man in the government is accused of rape. The book follows along the trial and parallel backstory of one of the characters.

His Dark Materials Series - Philip Pullman. : I read The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass and companion book Once Upon a Time in the North. Adventure, suspense, female lead, magic... what more can I ask for in a book.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Such a great book! I can't believe I haven't already read this. It

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh - Young Woman returns to her childhood home and the nostalgia of that, but also triggers some bad memories.

The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff - Prequel to The Kommandant's Girl. Margot, a german diplomat's daughter, travels to Paris for a peace conference and strikes up some unlikely friendships/alliances. Quick read and hard to put down.

*books read with my ears AKA audiobooks. 

See my 2019 reads here.


Fall 2020

This year, Summer and Fall kind of blended together thanks to our delayed back to school. We bounced between at home school and remote for most of the Fall, so we were able to enjoy a lot more time at the pool throughout the month of September.... then we switched to enjoying lots of bike riding. We are fairly close to our downtown, so we like to ride down there for treats at the pastry shop or the occasional small event. Our town has cancelled all of the Fall festivals and other events we looked forward to every Fall, but we have been able to attend smaller events like a celebration of Black poetry day. We have also enjoyed the bike trail and all of the beautiful Fall foliage along the trail
We celebrated Ida's birthday with some outdoor family gatherings and a couple drive-by wishes from friends. She was a little sad she missed out on celebrating her birthday at school, but she had a great day.

Since I'm working from home and Cora is remote half the week, we have been enjoying the Fall weather as much as possible. Sometimes, we do schoolwork outside, other times we just take lots of breaks to enjoy our backyard.

Holiday-wise, we did some of our yearly traditions, but skipped actual Trick-or-treating.  We decorated 'spooky houses' at my parents, stopped by the pumpkin patch near our house, participated in 'BOOing' our neighbors, wore costumes throughout the month, and watched all Halloween themed movies.

Like most things about this year, things were different. We changed some things around and really enjoyed our Fall days more than we were ever able to in previous years.


Back to School

Like everything this year, back-to-school season was a lot different.  Cora's first day of school was delayed a week or two. They eased into the school year by splitting the class in two. They had an orientation day one week, then half a week of in school and half a week of virtual school the following week.  This was a great way to give us all a taste of how virtual school would work in case we have to do that in the coming months (spoiler alert: we do).  The school gave everyone the opportunity to choose in-person or virtual and we are lucky to have had half the class choose to be virtual!!! There are only 10 kids in Cora's in-person class! After the first couple days seeing how awesome the school and children were doing with the new rules, we were all feeling much better about choosing the in person option. 

Cora has moved into hybrid where she is at school half the week and at home half the week. It has been interesting to watch her learning style and how she interacts with the class. She is a go-getter and wakes up early to get a head start on her afternoon lessons so she can have the afternoon to relax.

Ida's school delayed the beginning of the year by a month, then had orientation days and partial days for everyone to ease into the new restrictions. Ida has been asking to go back to school multiple times a week since March, so she was happy to get back into the classroom. On her first day of school, she ran off into the classroom barely glancing back and saying "bye". Every single day I picked her up, she gave me one of the wild twinkly smiles and tells me "I had the best day today!" 

We will likely be moving back and forth between in person and at home schooling this year and I'm interested to see where the year takes us and how much my girlies learn.


QuaranSummer 2020

We are in full on Fall mode, but I still want to document and remember things from this summer... so as I always say better late than never!

This was such a weird summer, but also one of my favorite summers of my adult life. Working from home full time has changed things so much for our family life. Work is no longer a huge stressor for me since I don't have to deal with commuting, meal prep, missing my kids, getting distracted by coworkers, or being inside all day long. 

We spent a lot of time outside playing soccer, running around, going on walks, and just soaking up the sun. My goal for the summer was to get Cora riding her bike. We ended up bike riding nearly every day and it quickly became Cora's favorite thing to do. Luckily, we are a couple doors down from our town's bike trail entrance so we spent a lot of time on that trail. where we enter, there is a flat section to the right and a large hill to the left. We spent the first couple weeks exclusively riding on the flat part of the trail until Cora worked up her skills and courage to try the large hill.  She did awesome on the hill and a couple days into riding down the hill she really started to love it.  One day we were riding and there was a young girl at the top of the hill working up the courage to ride down.  Cora gave her a little encouragement and we went on our way.  Later in the trail we ran into the girl and her family. Her dad said that Cora gave the little girl the courage to ride down the hill. Cora was so excited to inspire the little girl to ride down the hill and I could see Cora become that much more confident in riding her bike.

Towards the end of the summer, we got a pool pass and hit the pool every other day. The first day, Cora took her test to get the yellow band and passed. When she walked out the door with her new yellow band, she threw up both her hands and shouted "I DID IT!"  We found that we loved the earlier pool time which was mostly old people and us. Cora tested for her green band at the end of the summer and it was so sweet watching all our old people cheer her on and congratulate her. 

We got to spend lots of time as a family this summer. Over the last year, Ben started taking one day off a week and we had an intentional family day. We'd go swimming, hiking, play outside, cook big family meals, watch movies, etc. Overall, we really just enjoyed spending time together all summer long.


Sunflower Staycation Outing

We had a small staycation at the beginning of August. We did a lot of our regular weekend things like trips to the pool, gardening, projects, cooking, and being lazy. I wanted to try and get out and go on one little adventure with the girls to somewhere we normally don't go. A couple of my friends posted pictures at Cottell Park, so we thought we'd check it out. 
I woke the girls up and tried to get there early (about 9:30) to beat the crowds, but there were still quite a few people there. We took couple pictures, explored the fields, and avoided people at all costs. All of the sunflowers were beautiful and kind of makes me want to plant our own little sunflower 'field' in a chunk of our yard. 


Life With Ida : 4 Years


Since Ida's birthday last year, she has grown so much. It is so fun to watch her personality grow. She is always surprising me with how silly or fun or sweet or fierce she is.

Ida is always up for an adventure with Mom and/or Dad. Wherever we are, she is there too. She loves to go on walks, to the park, go swimming, or just go on a ride in the car with us.  When big sister isn't at school, Ida loves to play Barbies, be read to, or just follow her sister around and be with her. Ida is so sweet and randomly throughout the day she'll say "I just love you!" and give big hugs.  

Ida is my little nature girl. She is always by my side when I'm working in the garden... and sometimes she even asks to just go out and sit near the garden. It is fun to watch her interest in plants. She likes to dig and find worms, collect rocks, help spot new vegetables, and water the plants. 

Ida has been missing school a lot. She cannot wait to get back to school and play with her friends.  She has asked 2-5 times a week (every week since March) when she will get to go back to school again. While she is missing school, she still enjoys each day. I love her enthusiasm for all things.

Happy Birthday Sweet Ida!  We are so lucky to have you.  xxoo

Check out previous Life with Ida posts: 3 year, 2 year, 1 year, and her birth story


QuaranSpring 2020

I am finally finding time to finish/share some blog posts... so while I normally prefer to post in real time, I'm going to share some stuff from the last 6 months.
Phewww! It has been quite the Spring. I look back over the last couple of months and it feels like it has been a long time, but also like no time has passed at all. My department sent me to work from home about the same time school was closed so a lot happened all at once. I took my weekly trip to the grocery store on Saturday morning and it was shocking to see the empty shelves in person in my usual grocery stores. After the grocery trip, we hunkered down at home.

I was sick for the first couple of weeks of staying at home (tested negative for Covid, but had all the symptoms and was exposed to an international traveler) and about a week after feeling better I threw out my back. So health-wise, this Spring has not been the most enjoyable for me. I had outdoor projects on my to-do list that I'm no longer able to do without lots of help. However, the forced rest has been really good for me. We spent a lot of that time inside, watching tv, crafting, and baking (homemade pizza was a quarantine essential),

With the warmer weather, we did our best to get a couple hours outside every single day. We have construction happening next to and behind out house... At the beginning it was just as entertaining as it was irritating. We did our best to enjoy outdoor picnics, gardening (more on our garden later), soccer, and walks as often as we could. 

Easter this year was weird. Normally, we do a big family get together and spend a large chunk of the day together. Instead we had some swing by Easter egg hunts, waving from the porch to family members, church online, and Indian food for dinner. The day was bittersweet. We enjoyed being at home and celebrating Easter in a new way, but missing our family.  

We celebrated Cora's birthday in May. She got to hug my parent's and siblings for the first time in over a month and that was a real treat. A couple family members stopped by my parent's house for a social distance happy birthday and present drop off. We had a great lunch time hanging out with my family then headed home to meet a couple friends swinging by for social distance happy birthday ice cream. We had some more cake decorated like a soccer ball (Cora declared her birthday soccer themed). Cora's final birthday wish was to have a date with mommy watching Full House and eating pizza rolls. She said it was the perfect day and I couldn't agree more.

Schooling was also weird. Online school was hard for our family to juggle with us both working full time and no childcare. Cora still needs a good amount of assistance with her schoolwork, so we did our best to struggle through. The school had a drive by teacher parade and we were lucky enough to be on route (and close to the beginning!).  Cora loved spotting some of her teachers and Ida loved waving to all of the cars. School ended unceremoniously, so our neighbor friends ordered shaved ice for the neighborhood kids. We were all happy that we would get to take at-home schooling off our to-do lists.

It was a weird season. We had a lot of hard things, but we really enjoyed all of the uninterrupted time together. We have always loved having an open schedule, so while we missed a lot of the regular spring activities (spring festival, soccer, end of school year events) we still had lots of fun.
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