July was a packed month for our family, so I’ll skip the lengthy intro and get right into the recap!
// READING LATELY //
My reading this month included a healthy mix of buzz-worthy new releases, some lesser known fiction, and a few intriguing nonfiction picks. Luke and I both read and were fascinated by this book. I read this historical novel immediately after this one and was surprised by the similarities; they made for a recommendation-worthy book flight! I found this memoir inspiring and very well written, and I took lots of notes throughout this essential (for me) read.
// LISTENING LATELY //
Johnnyswim: My introduction to Johnnyswim came through this podcast, and I’ve been listening to their music on repeat over the past two weeks. I love the description from their website: “At the core, husband-and-wife—Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano—translate the memories, moments, and milestones on their journey into spirited, slick, and soulful anthems steeped in singer-songwriter tradition, yet amplified by alternative experimentation, rock energy, and pop ambition. The music moves as the couple’s life does, scrapbooking unforgettable experiences in melody like an eternal keepsake of their relationship.”
I’ve spent the last two years looking for a sound-alike duo to The Civil Wars, and Johnnyswim is the closest I’ve found. Their music is intimate and heartfelt, a perfect blend of folk and pop replete with gorgeous harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. I am enjoying all of their albums, with this song and this one as stand-out favorite singles.
// LATEST CHARLIE-ISMS //
It’s been quite a month with our (freshly minted) four-and-a-half-year-old. He’s been keeping me on my toes with his dynamic moods as well as his profound questions and keen observations. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite Charleston quotes from this month:
+ To Luke, when he mentioned he was hungry for dinner. “You’re still hungry?! You ate a few weeks ago!” (Luke’s response: Welcome To #CharliesHouseOfTorture.)
+ Recounting his day at Soccer Camp: “When I was crossing the street to the playground I realized something: I wasn’t holding somebody’s hand. But I still didn’t get smooshed!”
+ “Some of the kids at soccer are even faster than me!” Luke: “That’s because they’re a little older than you.” Charleston: “Then why are YOU not fast?”
+ “Mom, when will I be old enough to watch Star Wars?” Me: “I’m not sure. I had to wait until I was 25 until I could watch Star Wars.” Charleston: “But you don’t look like you’re past 20!” (Brownie points!)
+ “I am going to be so happy when the babies are born. I’ll be so excited to meet them! They are going to laugh. They might even poop!”
+ “There’s no person cute like me. But there’s even a few dogs cute as me. And my brother and sister will be even cuter than me.”
+ When we went to get a Slurpee for 7-Eleven Day, and he chose Dr. Pepper flavor. “It’s so good I can barely believe my tongue! Dr. Pepper is the best drink in the WHOLE world!” (Since then he’s been asking to go back to get a “slurry.”)
+ When I asked Charleston to clarify something he’d said to me: “I’ll try to explain it better to you later, when there aren’t a lot of strange people around.” (We were sitting in an empty waiting room at the car wash. . . .)
+ To a friend he met at the Burger King playground whom he was trying to convince to go down the slide: “It’s okay to be scared. But what you have to do is just remember how fun it is to be scared now!”
+ To every new friend who mentions having a sibling: “I’ve got a brother and a sister in my mama’s tummy right now.”
+ After hearing the word powerhouse on the radio and learning the definition. “I’m a powerhouse ’cause I can do lots of cool stuff. Like making fridgerators out of wood.”
+ “Mom, how long are you supposed to remember stuff? Because I’m not very good at that.”
+ Randomly one afternoon: “I’m glad we have an earth to live in. If there was just nothing, it would be boring. No cars, no streets, no toys, no anything.”
+ At dinner time: “I need a fork.” Luke gets up to get a fork, and Charleston whispers to me: “Hmm, I skipped manners and he’s still getting it. That’s impressive.”
// HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
Our month began with a trip to California! Since moving to Texas in 2016, we’ve made it back to Southern California twice every year, with visits during the summer and around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sadly, we didn’t think we were going to make it out this year because the new house and upcoming babies have put a serious dent in our finances, plus Luke is banking his vacation time for when the babies arrive, and I knew I couldn’t handle a 20-hour road trip this far along in my pregnancy. However, my parents generously offered to fly us out for a few days around the Fourth of July!
Charleston has only been on a plane once before, when he was a baby, so he had been incredibly excited for the flight, and it did not disappoint. We had great experiences in both the Austin and Long Beach airports (the latter is seriously the cutest airport ever!) and the flights themselves were quick, smooth, and great fun for Charleston who loved the adventure of takeoff and landing, enjoyed looking out the window while we were in the air, and was quite pleased with the beverage and snack options. We carried on most of our bags, checking just one bag so we didn’t have to worry about liquid restrictions, and we brought Charleston’s car seat on the plane with us. He is at such a great age for traveling, and I enjoyed experiencing the thrill of flying through his eyes.
My parents picked us up from the airport with a “Jernejcic” banner and a van they’d rented so that we could all ride together throughout our visit. After a cheerful, hug-filled reunion we headed to my parents’ house in Huntington Beach for a home-cooked dinner followed by presents, cake, and ice cream to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to celebrate a family birthday together!
The next day we spent some time at my parents’ neighborhood playground and had lunch with my grandmother. It’s not easy for her to get out these days, but it’s always a blessing to spend time with her. She adored seeing “My Charlie” and talking about his future brother and sister.
That evening we went to the beach for a Fourth of July (Eve) festival. There were food trucks, bounce houses, a concert, and an air show. I didn’t love the crowds, but enjoyed the festive environment and Charleston had a blast playing in the sand with Luke and my brother: they made sand angels, buried Charleston (something he’s been wanting to do for ages) and had races to the water. When it got dark, we moved to a grassy spot on the marina for a firework show.
We weren’t sure how the fireworks would go: since he’s been old enough to be aware of them, Charleston has been utterly terrified of fireworks and he wasn’t too keen on seeing them this year. But my dad had bought him a pair of kid’s ear muffs, and they worked their magic. With his ears protected, Charleston absolutely LOVED the show and oohed and ahhed with each firework. I was so proud of him for overcoming his fear, and the whole experience was absolutely precious—one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
The next day we got up early to go to the Fourth of July Parade in Downtown Huntington Beach. We hadn’t anticipated how intense the crowds would be, or how impossible it would be to park, so my Dad ended up dropping the rest of us off and driving around while we got to experience the parade. (Thanks again, Dad, for taking one for the team!) We got a great viewing spot at the heart of the parade route and were able to meet up with my brother and his new girlfriend.
The parade was great! Everyone was decked out in their patriotic finest, and the positivity and national enthusiasm were palpable throughout the event. In our heated political climate, it was nice to see people setting aside our differences to come together and celebrate the country we all love. The parade itself was pretty long, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing, but caught several unique floats, marching bands, and decorated cars carrying minor celebrities and city officials. I was impressed by the professional level of the parade and participants, especially after attending our (much more low-key) city parade for the past couple of years.
After the parade we went home for lunch and a nap, then went over to my parents’ friends’ house for a barbecue and holiday hangout. The hosts and several of the other attending couples have been in my life for decades (two of them hosted my bridal and baby showers) and it was great to see them and catch up for the first time since our move. Charleston was the only kid there, but our hostess put out some toys for him and he had a great time. We also walked to a nearby park with him for a bit.
At the end of the night we all sat on chairs in the driveway to watch a professional firework show at the park across the street. It was another great show and once again Charleston loved it. He had brought a homemade banner to hold up during the show (such a heart-melting moment) and again treated us to plenty of whoa’s and cheers. I loved hearing him call out to my parents, “Look at that Oma and Opa! This is so cool!” I think most of us at the party were paying more attention to his reactions than to the fireworks themselves!
Our last day in California was a beach day. We took Charleston to play on a little pirate playground right on the water (he later said this was his favorite part of the trip), then we hung out on the sand, building sandcastles and digging for shells. It was too cold to go in the water, but still fun, and thankfully not at all crowded.
On our way home from the beach we picked up Flame Broiler for lunch. It’s one of the things I miss most about California (along with family, Disneyland, jacaranda trees, and the mountains) so I got two bowls—one for lunch and one for dinner—and would have taken home a whole vat of their hot sauce if I’d thought I could have gotten away with it, haha! That evening, after a nap, the boys went out kayaking while my mom and I stayed warm and dry on land.
When they got back, we had dinner and during our meal, we felt ourselves moving and realized it was an earthquake! There had been another earthquake the day before, during the parade, that we hadn’t felt, but this one was long and strong and impossible to miss. It was Charleston’s first real earthquake experience, but thankfully it wasn’t frightening for him. Once it was dark, we roasted marshmallows around my parents’ fire pit. It was the best possible ending to our trip. Sitting around the fire with everyone I love, toasting our mallows, chatting and listening to instrumental music—those are memories I want to treasure forever.
We had to leave fairly early the next day. Goodbyes with my family are always sad, and Charleston had an especially difficult time. This is the first time we’ve ended a vacation without our next visit set in place, as we are unsure what travel will look like once the twins are here. I’m just so thankful we were able to make this trip happen; it was a great one!
Our flight home was fairly uneventful, save for an hour delay in boarding. We had the most awesome flight attendants (both of whom are moms to twins!) and Charleston was once again a great flyer. We got several comments on how well behaved he was (and a few kind compliments on our parenting), all of which made my mama heart so proud. It was a good reminder to always call out parents who are doing a great job, and I was sure to pass the compliments forward to a few other moms and dads on our flight who were rocking it with their kids.
Two days after getting back from California, Charleston attended soccer camp with a local organization. The experience was very new for us: first ever camp, first time playing soccer for Charleston, and first time that I’ve left him with anyone outside of family! The program ran Monday-Friday from 8:45-noon, and despite the crazy heat, he loved every minute of it!
There were eleven kids up to age 11, with just two coaches, but Charleston seemed able to hold his own with the bigger kids. He enjoyed all of the drills and games, but his favorite parts of each day were the playground time and the Airheads (which he called “blowups”) that he received at the end of each day. My favorite part was seeing him in his adorable soccer gear. It was very hard for me to leave him the first day, but I did appreciate having mornings to myself that week. By the end of the week, he was begging me to sign him up again, and I likely will. With his high energy and compact size, I think that soccer will be a great fit for him.
Two weeks ago we participated in Camp 75, our church’s version of VBS in which our youth lead 75-minute camps in backyards around the Austin area. I love that these camps involve everyone in our church (the teens lead, adults host or serve as drivers to get teams to the host homes, and the younger kids participate as attendees), and that it is a ministry to people outside of our church. Last year Charleston was still a little young to fully appreciate Camp 75, but this year it was a hit. He enjoyed learning the silly songs, watching skits, and playing games. Of course, his favorite day—EVERYONE’S favorite day—was Water Wednesday, when all of the games had a fun water component. I was so appreciative of the teens leading our camp, who took Charleston under their wing as the youngest kid participating, and didn’t seem to mind his lack of a personal bubble (at any given moment he was sitting on someone’s lap, climbing on somebody’s back, or holding one or more hands). By the end of the week he had about a dozen new teenage BFFs!
Our church caps off the week of Camp 75 with Summerfest, a big festival held in the church parking lot after services the following Sunday. Charleston has asked about this event EVERY Sunday since he attended it last year, and was so excited the big day had finally arrived. On the way there he told me, “I hope it is EVEN better than I expect it to be!” Everything started off well: we played with the adorable animals in the petting zoo, Charleston bounced in the bounce house, and he had a Kona ice. Then he asked to go into the bubble foam pit, and that’s where the fun ended: as soon as he was in the foam, I realized he was way too short to have gone in: the bubbles were over his head and he was clearly panicking and struggling to find an exit. I got him out as fast as I could and he was sputtering and choking and sobbing; it turns out he had been unable to see or breathe in the foam. It was scary for both of us and not something we will be doing again soon. Unfortunately, that incident spoiled the magic of Summerfest for poor Charleston and we left shortly afterwards. Hopefully next year the festival will be able to redeem itself in Charleston’s eyes!
We really made the most of July, didn’t we? And our August is promising to be just as full! Then hopefully things will settle down a bit. . . just in time for our world to be turned upside down by our two new additions!