These August days have seemed long and hard, with me feeling thankful for each day these twins stay put, but also incredibly uncomfortable as I approach my final few weeks of pregnancy. As is often the way with life, though, the month itself seems to have flown by. Here’s a glimpse at some of what made it great!
// READING LATELY //
I rounded out my summer reading with some strong titles this month. This family saga was one of the best books—if not the best book—I’ve read all year. This was an unexpectedly sweet read and I found this book and this one to be well-written and compelling.
As for nonfiction, this book explored some new sides to an issue I’m deeply passionate about and this book helped me to think differently about the importance of supporting women, both globally and in the United States.
// WATCHING LATELY //
The Lion King ~ I’ve been loving all of Disney’s live-action remakes and was very excited for this one! Not only was I eager to revisit a movie I loved as a child, but I was curious to see whether or not the filmmakers could pull off such an ambitious project. The verdict: they did, kind of. The cinematography is phenomenal and the animals are amazing: I honestly couldn’t tell if they were real or animated. I also appreciated that the music and story stay true to the original, and the African setting is gorgeous.
However, I didn’t find the movie particularly entertaining. This film lacks the literal color that is a trademark of the original movie (it’s hard to make the African prairies look vibrant) and the dialogue—even lines lifted straight from the animated version—felt flat, possibly because it was a bit strange to see jokes and other dialogue coming from such realistic animals. The filmmakers did a great job of maintaining the animals’ lifelike appearance, but because of this, the characters don’t have the dynamic facial expressions needed to convey emotion. Throughout the film, I felt like I was watching a nature documentary and not an upbeat Disney classic.
I’m glad I saw this movie and found many elements impressive, but it definitely wasn’t a favorite.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars.
Black Panther ~ It’s been quite a while since Luke and I have had the chance to watch an adult movie together, so when Charleston spent the night at his grandparents’ house this month (more on that below) we took full advantage of the kid-free house to watch a movie we’d been wanting to see since it made a big splash last year. I’m not always the biggest Superhero movie fan, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of them, and this is one that had me intrigued.
I can definitely see why Black Panther garnered so much attention. The casting is perfection and the cinematography is incredible! I’ve been massively interested in African culture since my trip to Kenya when I was just 16, and I loved seeing the African setting, costumes, and tribal customs juxtaposed against the modern technology and futuristic scenery. I did have some difficulty keeping the characters straight and found the story hard to follow at times, probably because I was so focused on the visuals that I wasn’t paying attention to the plot. I also had to avert my eyes with some of the more graphic action scenes. Still, I found this to be an amazingly produced and attention-holding film. Black Panther probably isn’t my favorite superhero, but his movie ranks high in my list of top superhero films.
My Rating: 4 Stars.
// LISTENING LATELY //
Lover ~ I’ve been a big Taylor Swift fan since her early days as a country artist. I’ve always admired her talent (as a writer, singer, and performer) and been impressed by her business acumen and her willingness to take creative and professional risks. Though I had no problem with her crossing over from Country to Pop (1989 is in my Top 5 of All-Time Favorite Albums), I didn’t care for her last album (Reputation) and had low expectations for her latest release. And those already low expectations seemed generous when I began listening to the album the day it was released: it seemed unimaginative, and so repetitive. As we listened on our Sonos speaker, I commented several times to Luke that it felt like we were just listening to the same song over and over; how was this album receiving so much love from fans and critics?!
Well, funny story: the next day something similar happened with an entirely different album. I went to check the settings on our Sonos and burst out laughing when I saw that I had it set on Repeat. In other words, we really had been listening to the same Taylor Swift song (this one) over and over for an entire evening, and NONE OF US realized it! Once I listened to the album in its entirety, I was totally sold. The songs on Lover are sweet, upbeat, meaningful, and much less harsh (both lyrically and musically) than those on Reputation. I especially like “Paper Rings,” “Afterglow,” and “Me!” (our whole family—Charleston in particular—is currently obsessed with the music video). To Taylor Swift: my apologies for underestimating you and your ability to deliver a quality album. Thank you for Lover, it is a true delight!
// APP I’M LOVING //
Overcast ~ After a year of prompting from Luke, I’ve finally made the switch from Downcast (which had gotten increasingly glitchy) to Overcast for my podcast listening. My only regret is that I didn’t switch sooner! It was easy to quickly export my 40+ podcasts from my old podcast app into the new one. Overcast has a beautiful, user-friendly interface with some great features like Smart Speed (which accommodates for pauses, allowing for a smoother listening experience), the option for multiple playlists (including smart playlists), and preferences that can be saved for different shows (for instance, I listen to The Bible Recap at 1.5 speed, while I listen to everything else at double speed; with this app, the adjustment is done for me). If you don’t already have a podcast listening app that you love, I’d highly recommend giving Overcast a try.
// MONTHLY CHARLIE-ISMS //
Without any extracurricular activities filling our days this month, Charleston has had a lot more free time at home and has been loving it. He’s enjoyed building forts, playing trains, going swimming, and hanging out in the office with Daddy while I attend various doctors appointments and baby prep classes. He also seems to have entered a new stage of cognitive development, and I’m savoring our one-on-one conversations and his adorable quips.
+ “I wish I could fly.” Me: “What would you do if you could fly?” Charleston: “I would just ride myself.”
+ During a car ride discussion of the various types of candy: “Well, sugar IS candy. It’s just candy inside of a different candy. And sour candy is sugar. Sour is . . . just a bunch of tiny dots.” (This all seemed to make perfect sense to him, though it had me baffled!)
+ After I had asked him if he wanted to use his birthday money to buy a toy he was asking about: “I would rather save it for if there’s a fire and my toys got burned. Then my toys would all be destroyed and I would have nothing to play with and that would be a bummer. So I’ll save my money for that kind of emergency.”
+ “Let’s grow some vegetables. Ooh, we should grow gummy bears! We will have to find some gummy bear seeds. What color should we grow?”
+ “It’s a perfect day for a picnic. Because look, the sun is shining, the trees are moving in the wind, and the cars are driving all around. See. . . perfect!”
+ “It’s a good thing I’m a boy! Because girls get babies in their bellies, and getting babies really hurts!”
+ Watching me clean up Arlo’s porcelain food dish, which had shattered: “I am SO sorry this is happening in your life right now, Mom. I wish I was God and I could make everything better for you. I am just so, so sorry.”
+ After meeting my friend Jessica’s new baby: “Can we get one just like that one? I know, maybe we should go to their house and steal her when they aren’t looking!”
// HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
My friend Cara (whom I’ve known since high school) has come out to Texas to visit us every year since we moved here in 2016, and this year’s visit happened to fall on the hottest week of the year! The heat and my pregnancy limited our activities, but we still had an amazing visit. Despite the distance, Cara and I keep in touch daily, so we always fall back into our comfortable rhythms the moment we are reunited. And Charleston adores Cara, whom he is sure comes out just to visit him. Cara is a teacher and fantastic with kids, and she and Charleston have the best time playing together—which I especially appreciated this year, since I haven’t been able to do much physical play with him myself lately.
On the first full day of Cara’s visit, we went to the Austin Zoo, where we visited the adorable animals (the spider monkeys and bears were my favorite) and rode the train. It was a fun adventure, made more memorable when my car’s air conditioning decided to die on the way home. (I now know from experience that 100-degree heat plus a massively pregnant belly and a stiflingly hot car make for one miserable 90-minute car ride.) We spent that afternoon hanging out at Hat Creek and chatting with a like-minded Austin mom while Charleston played with her three adorable daughters.
The next morning we went for a ride on the Cedar Railroad train and watched Charleston splash around at the Quarry Splash Pad. Then we came home for a picnic lunch in front of the tv (we introduced Cara to Incredibles 2), which was followed by a couple of hours at the pool.
On Cara’s last day here we took advantage of the movie theater’s air conditioning and saw Lion King. Then we had a late lunch at Torchy’s Tacos downtown. Though it’s an Austin staple, I’d never eaten at Torchy’s and I loved the chicken salad that I got. We happened to be downtown on the day of Austin’s Gay Pride Parade, which made for some colorful people watching at the restaurant!
On our way to drop Cara off at the airport, Charleston kept asking if she could stay a few more days or maybe even a few more years. He was so sad to see her leave! As we were pulling into the drop-off line he said, “If I say not to drop Cara off, don’t drop her off, okay? And I’m going to say not to drop her off!” Of course Cara did have to get back to her life at home in California, but we were so glad she came to visit us and I was reminded throughout her visit of how blessed our whole family is to have such a special friend in our lives.
In his 4.5 years, I have never spent a night away from Charleston. I just haven’t felt ready! But we knew that it was going to have to happen when the babies were born and Luke and I went to the hospital for their delivery, so we decided to have a trial run of Charleston staying at his grandparents’ for the night. Though he’d long been reluctant to be away from us for the night, about a week before the big day he started getting excited and was no longer scared. He was ready, even if Luke and I weren’t! He packed a big suitcase for just the night, filled with plenty of books, toys, and stuffed animals. Tom and Grace picked him up at our house at 6:30 and we didn’t go to pick him up until 5:00 the next afternoon. It was SO strange in our house without him home! Luke and I went to the pool, ate a relaxed dinner, and watched Black Panther. Then we BOTH got to sleep in past 9:00 for the first time in quite a while! Though it was nice to have a quiet morning to ourselves, we definitely missed our little Saturday morning alarm clock.
As for Charleston, it sounds like he had a great night! He was in bed by 11:00 and my in-laws didn’t hear a peep from him until he came barreling into their bed at 7:00 the following morning. (We warned them that keeping him up late wouldn’t guarantee them extra sleep the next morning!) His puppy cousin, Gretl, took good care of him throughout the night and the next day, and Charleston even asked to stay an extra few days—which we didn’t agree to, though I’m glad he was willing. I am feeling so much better about being away from him when the twins are born, knowing that he will be just fine without me for a day or two.
And so ends our last summer as a family of three. What was the highlight of your August?