If you’re reading this on the day it’s published, I’m currently flying across the country on a plane headed for Orange County, California. It’s my first flight in nearly five years, my first experience of flying without another adult (minus several solo flights as a kid), and my first time being away from Kali and Sully overnight. The purpose of this five-day trip is to attend the memorial service for my sweet grandmother, who passed away in November, and I’m making the journey with Charleston, for whom this mother/son trip was a bonus birthday present.
I’m looking forward to celebrating my grandmother’s life and to spending time with family on this trip. I am also thankful for a reprieve from my “real life” at the end of an interminably long month; we didn’t know when we booked the trip a month ago how much I would be needing this break right now. I’ll be sharing a little more on that this Thursday, along with what has been saving my life in this trying season; today, let’s focus in on the good things that January had to offer!
|| READING LATELY ||
My reading for 2024 is off to a strong and eclectic start, with books that—per my personal January challenge—are exclusively titles that were already on my bookshelf (with the exception of audiobooks). I listened to this memoir that had me at the edge of my seat, this one that had me howling with laughter, and this one from an actor I barely knew but whose book I LOVED. I read a book to help me in my parenting and another to assist me in the kitchen.
For this month’s read-aloud, the kids and I enjoyed this adventurous classic. And in my personal ficiton reading I read four novels that, at first glance, seem very different—a mystery, historical fiction, literary fiction, and feel-good story—but there were similarities in that all contained memorable protagonists experiencing hardship and loneliness. I’ll share full reviews of each of these books in a Quick Lit post next week.
|| LOVING LATELY ||
Charleston wanted a wall calendar to hang in his room, and after examining our options we landed on this DIY one. The illustrated monthly pages are black-and-white, designed for coloring, and the kids have had fun adding their personal flair. I helped Charleston add our big events to the next few months, and it’s nice for him to be able to look ahead at what’s to come. He mastered calendar skills a few years ago, and now it’s fun to see him using this calendar to introduce concepts like weeks and months to Kali and Sully.
|| LISTENING LATELY ||
A sampling of podcasts that inspired or intrigued me this month.
Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast—Episode 622: J.P. Pokluda and Gabrielle McCullough Talk 2024 Church Trends: Why the Stable Church is Disappearing, How to Engage the New Core of Your Church—Millennials and Gen Z—in Serving, Giving, and Confession, & a New Breed of Megachurch Pastor
Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast—Episode 626 | John Mark Comer on the Crisis in Discipleship, Why Weekend Sermons and Services Aren’t Resonating Like They Used To, Determining Your Real Motives, and Why He’s No Longer Traveling and Speaking
|| MONTHLY KID-ISMS ||
Some funny things my kids said this month.
I really slacked on recording the Charlie-isms this month, though there are some great ones in his Birthday Interview. In addition to his answers there, he also came up with some pretty awesome jokes in the last few weeks.
+ “What are the most tired months? Janu-weary and Febru-weary.”
+ “What do you call it when somebody starts laughing in the bathroom? Potty humor!“
+ Responding to a plot point in a movie: “They killed his family? That’s not good! Just God can do that!”
+ Kali: “Is there anything for me?” (Pointing to a stack of papers and packages on the desk.) Luke: “Nope.” Kali: “You need to make something for me.” Luke: “Okay.” Kali: “Maybe a necklace with a diamond.”
+ “What is that on the wall?” Me: “It’s a thermostat. It helps make sure the room is the right temperature.” Sully: “So a doctor comes out of it with a thermometer to take our temperature?”
+ God has lots of super powers, all of them. But he just doesn’t have any of the bad super powers.”
FUNNY INTERACTIONS BETWEEN KALI AND SULLY:
+ Kali, furious at Sully for not sharing: “You . . . you . . . you are NOT my favorite!” Sully, deadpan: “Well . . . that’s not very nice.”
+ Kali, once again mad at Sully: “Sully, you’re not the best!” Sully: “You’re right, I’m not the best. Jesus is the best!”
+ Sully, listening to a CD of Bible verses set to music: “Are these songs in the Bible? I don’t like this part.” [He was referring to the instrumental part once the lyrics had finished.] “Let’s skip this part in the Bible.” Kali: “No, Sully, we can’t skip it! God wrote it and He loves us!”
|| HAPPENINGS & HIGHLIGHTS ||
On December 28 (obviously not in January, but since last month’s recap) Luke and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary with a day trip to Fredericksburg, an adorable German town not too far from us. Fredericksburg is known for its wineries and even though we aren’t drinkers, we had a wonderful day wandering the shops, visiting the WWII museum (it’s pretty amazing), enjoying lunch at a German restaurant, and playing cards at a local coffee shop. It was a perfectly “us” day with time to people watch, connect, reminisce on the past fifteen years, and dream about what is to come for us and our family.
New Year’s Eve was a muted affair, which is typical for our family and more so this year since Luke and I were both under the weather. We did our best to make the evening special for the kids with time for making homemade decorations, a snack dinner, and lots of games. Charleston put on a homemade paper airplane and firework show and we counted down to “midnight” (8:00) and toasted with sparkling cider. Then the twins and Luke headed to bed and Charleston and I stayed up as late as we could playing games and talking over our resolutions for the year (his idea, and he made some good ones!). I was crawling into bed by midnight, thankful for a strong 2023 and eager for the fresh start of a new year.
This semester, rather than enrolling both twins in gymnastics, we are trying something different: Sully is doing Superhero Gymnastics (basically the usual gymnastics class in Superhero attire!) and Kali is doing a Princess Dance class (ballet in princess dresses!). It’s the first time they’ve done extracurricular activities without each other and though they do seem to miss one another during class, they are doing great and it’s so sweet to watch Kali and Sully cheer each other on in their respective classes. We have been especially excited for Kali to start ballet, as she has been begging to do a class for at least a year and literally prayed every day: “God, help me do ballerina!” She is having the time of her life dancing with her princess friends, I don’t know if I have ever seen her so happy!
For Christmas, Luke’s sister got Charleston and Luke tickets to a Lego Convention and they had a great time! I was blown away by some of the photos they brought home, what a great event.
When we moved to Texas in 2016, we were told that this area gets snow every 5-10 years, but we have gotten at least one decent snowfall every year that we’ve been here. We woke up on the morning of January 15 (the day before Charleston’s birthday) to a scattering of powdery snow in our yard and continued to get flurries throughout the morning. It was gorgeous, and the kids enjoyed playing in it. . . after we got them in some warm clothes; when they first went out, they were in pajamas without robes or (for Sully) slippers, yikes!
We had a wonderful time celebrating Charleston’s ninth birthday! The weather was a little rough so we had some changes to our plans but all the important stuff stayed in place: the morning started with donuts (with candles, of course) then some playtime with Grandma and Grandpa who watched the kids for the morning since Luke and I had an appointment. We came home with balloons and crab, Charleston’s favorite food, for lunch; he decided that he actually only likes “crab from a restaurant” and not the kind we got from HEB, but I think he appreciated the thought. After lunch he opened presents, then we met his best friend and some family at Chuck E. Cheese’s for a couple of hours of playtime! (Did you know that Chuck E. Cheese’s now has time-limit passes? We paid for ninety minutes and the kids were able to play as many games as possible in that time; it was great deal for my kids who tend to like the games that take a second to play and are never worth a full token.) On our way home from Chuck E. Cheese’s we picked up In-n-Out, which we brought back to the house for dinner with Grandma, Grandpa, Amanda, and Collin. The evening ended with presents and fro-yo cake! Charleston thanked me several times for making such a special day for him. I love spoiling my kids on their birthdays and was glad his was a good one. In addition to all the special events and treats and gifts, he got lots of special messages from family and friends and his love tank was full.
|| ICYMI: JANUARY ON THE BLOG ||
LIFE & FAITH:
A Light in 2024 “In adopting LIGHT as my Word for 2024, I hope to be more intentional about using my words, actions, and life to bring light to others. I also want to bring more light into my own life: I will be paying careful attention to the media I consume, the books I read, and the company I keep, seeking goodness and beauty and light above all else. I want to be filled up with truth and light so that light pours naturally from my illuminated soul.”
Charleston Michael || Nine Years Old “This near-decade as your mom has flashed by too quickly, and though I miss the teeny tiny newborn that was placed on my chest in those early hours of January 16, 2015, I love you just as much now as ever before and have loved watching you grow into the big kid (I refuse to call you a Tween!) you are today. You are funny, creative, thoughtful, kind-hearted, and ridiculously smart, with a contemplative spirit and logical way of processing world. You love the Lord, your family, and making every moment as special and as fun as possible.”
An Unmistakable Light (January Verse—1 John 1:5-7) “Because if there’s one thing about light, it can’t be hidden. There would have been no denying that the darkened room had been flooded with light. Light will always overpower the darkness.“
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~ Anne Bradstreet
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
I hope you had an enjoyable (or at least bearable) January. What were some of YOUR highlights?