What Was Good In 2020

2020. So much could be said about you. What a year. Ugh.

Getting to Christmas this year felt like a victory to me. We made it to Christmas. Everyone was healthy and even though it was just the six of us at home it was perfect. I actually loved not running around to multiple houses and just being home all day with Josh and kids.

While there is so much that could be said about how awful 2020 was I am going to focus my last post of the year on what was good.

My Anxiety

My anxiety crippled me after Maisie was born and I am just so thankful I put the work in when I did at that time. Because I honestly don’t know how I would have coped this year.

I still had cry in the shower moments and I am sure I will have more going forward, so please don’t take this as everything was great. But mentally I am so much better.

Thank you Jesus for your goodness and grace. Please know it is ok to not be ok and there is nothing wrong with you if you need counseling or medication for anxiety or depression.

Homeschool

We did it. I did it. I am so amazingly proud of myself and our kids. They have done so well this semester. I had always wanted to try homeschooling and had it not been for COVID I don’t think I ever would have.

We did 72 lesson of Saxon Math before Christmas and completed 15 lessons in their English curriculum. We also did art, science, history, and a family run club. I know I am fortunate to stay home and have the resources available to homeschool so my attitude towards homeschooling is joyful. I love watching my kids learn and I loved getting to be a part of that in a different way this year.

Disney +

Basically we spent our summer in our Intex pool and streaming many things on Disney +. Our favorite show is The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse and also Mickey Mouse (Shorts). Seriously a highlight of my year.

Steaming Musical Theatre

At this point I have lost track of how many times I have watched Love Never Dies. Over the summer I discovered this continuation in the Phantom of the Opera story arch and it made my summer. Thank you so much Andrew Lloyd Webber. I am watching it again now as I type up this post. I know it got mixed reviews but I love it so much.

Then I discovered BroadwayHD and pretty much all summer when Josh was on shift and after the kids went to bed I binged musicals. And it seriously helped me escape from the grim reality of our COVID numbers in Arizona.

Also Hamilton. Just so much great theater I have consumed this summer thanks to technology. I have seen more shows this year from any year previously thanks to technology.

Fit Women’s Weekly

I am so thankful to have found a great streaming fitness community. You can read my full review HERE.

Paddle Boarding

We needed to get out of the house this summer and paddle boarding proved to be a great option for our family. We could socially distance from others, enjoy the beautiful lakes and rivers in Arizona, and stay cool.

With two paddle boards, Josh and I each take a little kid and big kid on our board. I am sure we are quite a sight. It is a fun way to spend a few hours and I am looking forward to being able to go again in a few months.

It takes a little bit of time to get everything packed up to go with all the lifejackets, water bottles, clothes, and food but paddle boarding is something we would have never done if not for this year.

Garage Gym

This could be it’s own post but here is a picture of our garage gym that we put together this year. We have so much fitness equipment between Josh and I from personal training and it is so nice to have everything in one place and organized.

We know fitness equipment was hard to buy this year and we are thankful we didn’t have to purchase much. Josh also built a floor under our squat rack to negate the garage slope when we lift.

Backyard Movie Nights

With a projector and screen we turned our backyard into a movie theater and enjoyed family movie nights.

Our Home

We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful home and backyard for our kids this year. We have used every inch of space in our 1400 square foot home and I am just so grateful for this indoor and outdoor space we have.

Also 4th of July was pretty awesome in our backyard. We swam and had the best fireworks all from the comfort of our home. Thank you to multiple neighbors who put on quite a show for us. My fingers are crossed that New Years Eve will be equally as great for firework viewing.

Health & Family

I am so grateful that we were healthy in 2020. We had a few run ins with stomach bugs but that was the worst of it. I am also incredibly grateful that skin biopsies and breast ultrasounds for myself came back benign.

We have also bonded so much as a family of six which will probably sound odd. Before we adopted our youngest almost three years ago he had so many therapy appointments and the older kids were in preschool and then we had one in elementary school and preschool. All that to say between the doctors appointments, school drop offs and pickups myself and the two youngest were in the car for up to several hours a day. I am not complaining in anyway this is just how it was.

When March hit it was the most all of us had been home together. And 2020 has truly done wonders for us and the kids. The two youngest share a room and they have become such good friends this year. Our oldest two have had sleepovers almost nightly and are inseparable.

So while 2020 has sucked in many ways I am choosing to end the year being grateful for what we have experienced and gained instead of what has been lost.

Cheers to 2021. I know there are still dark days ahead but I am also hopeful for what the new year will bring.

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Halloween 2020

This year we celebrated Halloween at home. And we had a pretty great time. The kids declared it their best Halloween ever. And I took that as a huge win.

We had several costumes this year in the house: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Aurora which later became Elsa (costume we already had), Mickey Skeleton which later became Baby Yoda which later became Thomas the Train (costume we already had), Prince Philip which later became Bumblebee (costume we already had). If you are keeping track 3 out of 4 kids decided last minute to wear a costume we already had. And honestly I was fine with it. They all got to wear their costumes multiple times because that is the beauty of doing homeschool. It was fun to teach a variety of characters in October.

On Halloween Eve we ventured out to Downtown Mesa for the Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt. On Main Street multiple businesses and empty store fronts had different themed pumpkin displays. In addition to these we were on the look out for the tiny mice that were dressed up in Halloween costumes.

It was a fun way to get outside and masks were encouraged if you were unable to stay physically distanced from others. We went on Friday morning and there was hardly anyone there. It took us about 45 minutes and was a good way to get the kids moving in the morning and something totally different to do.

Friday also included these Witches Cauldron Cookies, a FaceTime call with the kids friends, and a drive thru trip to Swig to get the kids a soda treat.

On Halloween the kids woke up so excited! Earlier in the week I had made a skeleton on poster board and cut out the pieces. While they were eating breakfast I hid the “bones” around the house. After the kids were done eating they went on a bone hunt which took about 30 minutes. It took about 5 minutes to put the skeleton together and once completed I taped it to the wall so they could admire their work.

We had some outdoor plasma car fun later in the morning, followed by lunch, and naps for the younger ones. In the afternoon there was a scavenger hunt around the house that led to a dollar store reward for each kiddo, Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin, and homemade pizza for dinner.

Once dinner was done and costumes were put on for several of the kids. We had a few that opted to wear pajamas instead and that was totally fine. They bobbed for apples, a totally new to them experience. I remember bobbing for apples when I was in elementary school at the Harvest Festival and I inwardly cringed now because all I can think about is the germs that were floating around in that water.

We set up candy in two rooms of the house, gave the kids glow sticks, turned off the lights, put Halloween music and started our rotating color lights to flash on the ceiling and let the kids go “Trick or Treating”. After the that I put loads of post it notes on the floor and we played freeze dance. When the music stopped they needed to land on a post it and bring it to me to get another candy to add to their bucket. They loved this game! We played a candy toss into a bowl and also had a 20 minute dance party with the flashing lights and glow sticks.

After all that fun they were so tired and fell asleep so quickly. The next night we watched The Grinch because this year we are moving right into the Christmas movies. After the movie all the kids made beds on the floor in our bedroom and we had a family sleepover.

It was a fantastic weekend even if it was totally different from what we normally do :).

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Read Aloud Reviews: When Stars Are Scattered

So many things to say about this book. Which is why I am giving it it’s own review. It deserves it. To see other chapter books I have read aloud while homeschooling my children this year click HERE.

When Stars are Scattered is the true story of young brothers Omar and Hassan and their life in a refugee camp in Kenya. There are many really hard topics that are touched on, such as an arranged marriage of a young girl that results in pregnancy, a father beating his child, death, war, hunger, etc. This book is brilliant because it takes difficult subject matter and makes it easily digestible for older children to early tweens because it is told in a graphic novel.

Yes this book is heavy and sad. But my word do you root for these boys and just want the best for them. This book brought out so many meaningful conversations with my kids we would have never had anytime soon. Plus the illustrations are fantastic and really add to the dialogue and flow of the story.

While this book has really tough topics, it was an excellent way to teach my kids about how other children in the world live. Another moment to have meaningful conversations with them about how you really don’t know someones full story or what they are going through or have gone through. We need to be kind and compassionate to everyone.

Our family has never prayed for refugees before reading this and now we do. Our kids have a deeper appreciation for what we have and the house we live in.

At the end of the book there are pictures of Omar and Hassen and what their lives are like today. It is so uplifting and inspiring. I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to spoil the story or the ending. My kids were eager each night to read When Stars are Scattered and always asked to read another chapter.

We laughed, I cried several times, and overall just really enjoyed this book. The kids asked if there was a part 2. Just for reference there isn’t, yet, maybe there will be in the future.

I would strongly suggest parents to read this book ahead of time because of the adult themes presented. That being said I highly recommend this book even if you the parent are the only one who reads it. For reference I read this book with my 6 and 8 year old.

To close out this post I will end with a word from Hassan. If you want to know what the following word means you have to read When Stars Are Scattered.

“HOOYO!”

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