Without a doubt, this has been our best month of 2016. June started off rainy, and though I generally hate the rain, I really enjoyed the drama of our nightly thunderstorms. Now we’ve arrived at the hot and humid weather everyone warned us about, and I can honestly say that I love it!
It’s not just the weather that’s making me smile this month: summer is just getting started, but we’ve already had lots of fun adventures. I’ve enjoyed getting to explore more of Austin and am glad that Texas is starting to feel like home.
The cherry on top of my great month has been this wonderful stage we’ve entered with Charlie. To be honest, I was dreading toddlerhood, but so far I think I’m liking it more than any other age. Toddler-Charlie is cuter, funnier, and more affectionate than ever before. I have so much fun playing together, observing the new skills and quirks he adopts by the day, and getting to navigate the world through his eyes. I feel ridiculously blessed by the chance to experience life with my little buddy; my heart is full to the point of bursting!
Moving past the sappiness (sorry/not sorry about that), here is a glimpse at all that has been filling my time and my heart in these early days of summer.
// Reading Lately //
I don’t feel like I’ve been reading much lately, but my recent book tally says otherwise. I’m not sure why there’s such a discrepancy . . . I guess the books I’m reading just aren’t making much of an impression? I finally finished A Tree Grows In Brooklyn; it wasn’t a quick read for me, but it was a very worthwhile one. I’m now reading Kate Morton’s The Lake House for my 2016 Reading Challenge. (It’s my “fiction book by a new-to-me author.” Can you believe I’ve never read anything else by Kate Morton?)
On the audiobook front, I’ve listened to a handful of books: three that were okay but not great, and one that I really enjoyed. Care to take any guesses on which was the favorite (all four are pictured below)? Stay tuned for more details in an upcoming QuickLit post!
// What We’re Watching //
We didn’t watch any movies this month, but we got caught up through the latest season of Baby Daddy, a sitcom about three bachelors raising a baby in New York. There isn’t much originality going on with this show, but it’s cute and decently funny, and baby Emma is stinkin’ adorable. I liked the first couple of seasons a lot more than the more recent ones; by Season 4, the ongoing love triangle was getting old, and a couple of the more annoying characters were starting to be too much for me. I’m sure we will stick with the show for future seasons, if for no other reason than to watch Emma grow up. (The writers do a good job of incorporating her into the scripts without making the show all about the baby.) My Rating: 3.5 stars.
I have no idea what show we’ll jump into next. I like the idea of watching a more serious show, like Downton Abbey or Parenthood, but by the time we sit down to watch TV at the end of the day, Luke and I just want a light comedy. Let me know if you have any good recommendations! If not, we just might start back at the beginning with How I Met Your Mother. . . not that that would be a bad thing!
// Favorite Product Find //
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to beauty and skin care products. I don’t like to spend a lot of money on these items, but I have very sensitive skin, so my options are limited. I’d been seeing the Alba Botanica products on display at my local Sprouts, and the pretty bottles and claims of natural ingredients drew me in, so when I used up my last facial cleanser I replaced it with this Coconut Milk Hawaiian Face Wash. I’ve been using the wash for a couple of months now and my skin has never been happier. The cleanser leaves my face moisturized but not greasy, and I’ve been experiencing fewer breakouts. This face wash has a subtle sweet smell that I enjoy, and the floral bottle simply makes me happy. Not bad for a product that’s easy to find and costs less than $10!
// Latest Food Obsession //
We have a Vert’s Mediterranean Grill down the street and it has become my go-to spot for a quick lunch out. The build-your-own-meal restaurant allows you to choose a pita, wrap, rice bowl, or salad and offers various meats, veggies, and other fun toppings. My meal of choice is a salad topped with falafel, which is gluten free, made fresh after you order, and tastes amazing. Vert’s only has locations in Texas, but they seem to be expanding rapidly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they started opening stores in other states soon.
// What I’m Loving //
I am thrilled to have finally settled on a church home, and so far we are loving everything about our new church. The worship is great, the teaching is relevant and thought-provoking, and Charlie seems to really like the kids’ program. And I can’t forget my favorite features: the mints offered at the door each week, and the excellent church app with numerous features including transcripts of the sermon notes. The church is smaller than we’re used to, but so far I’m liking the cozy vibe. I started volunteering in the baby nursery, so I’m getting to know some other church members. An added bonus is that I get my baby fix each Sunday morning. (On a related note: I can’t believe it was less than a year ago that Charlie was as small as those babies! I hardly even remember how to hold an infant!)
// On My Mind //
The onslaught of tragedy that has occurred in recent weeks has me at a loss. On the one hand, I am brokenhearted by the hatred and evil that exists in our world. I mourn with the rest of our nation—not just for specific individuals or circumstances, but over the general brokenness of humanity. At the same time, I feel somewhat numb. I know that the gravity of these events should have a greater impact than they do, and yet I go on with my daily life as if nothing has changed. I play with my son, laugh with my husband, and write about trivial things that really don’t matter. I feel paralyzed to make any sort of meaningful difference, and so I do nothing at all—and I hate that I’m okay with that. My silence and inaction can partially be attributed to a fear of unintentionally saying or doing the wrong thing (i.e. something offensive), but I know that laziness factors in as well. I have been praying for God to replace my apathy with overwhelming compassion and a well-placed sense of righteous indignation. I also pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to tragedy in ways that are reflective of God’s justice, grace, and love.
// Monthly Highlights //
At the risk of seeming hypocritical, let’s follow up those deeper ponderings with something more lighthearted. Get ready for a major photo dump because we’ve had lots of highlights lately!
With the summer months upon us, we are very grateful for our community pool. I’m excited that the pool has a kiddie pool/splash pad. Charlie loves it!
We visited the Austin Zoo with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. The zoo is smaller than the “big ticket” zoos of Southern California, but it was the perfect size for Charlie, who was able to walk the whole thing. He loved the peacocks wandering wild around the campus, and we all really enjoyed the train.
We adore our library and are there several times each week for story time or just to play in the kids’ area. This month the library kicked off their summer reading program with a fun “Touch a Truck” event where kids could touch and even sit in various city vehicles, tractors, and trucks. It was an extremely popular event, so Charlie didn’t actually get to ride any of the vehicles, which was fine, because he was a bit overwhelmed by it all and was more interested in running from one truck to the next. We didn’t get many Instagram-worthy moments, but he had fun, and he was so cute when he got to meet Clifford!
The biggest event of our month was a week-long visit from my longtime friend, Cara! We’ve never had a house guest before, and having her stay with us was a fun and new experience. Charlie came down with a stomach bug while she was here, but that didn’t keep us from making the most of her visit, which we used as an excuse to play tourist in our home city.
We kicked off the trip with a walk around Zilker Park and a ride on the Zilker train, which was adorable and so much fun. We also got our first glimpse of Barton Springs Pool, which looks wonderful; I can’t wait to go back to go in the water!
We headed to Waco to check out the Magnolia Market Silos. It didn’t quite live up to the hype, but I’m glad that we went. Stay tuned for more about our Magnolia experience next week. . . .
With Charlie home sick with Luke, Cara and I got dolled up and headed out to a local Country Western Dance Hall for some line dancing, which is Cara’s favorite hobby. We discovered that the two-step is the preferred form of dancing in Austin, and I got my very first lesson. I was terrible, but I was laughing too hard to care!
We went downtown one evening to see the bats come out at Congress Bridge, which was amazing! I had no idea there would be SO MANY bats! Definitely something worth seeing if you ever come to Austin.
We took Cara to the Zilker Botanical Gardens, which has become my favorite spot in Texas. We were there during the Faerie Homes and Gardens Exhibit, so the already-beautiful trails were lined with the most darling little fairy houses (designed by local families, schools, and community groups). It was one of the most magical things I have ever seen!
I follow a few Austin Instagram feeds and had seen several pictures of people posing in front of graffiti walls; I was curious because we hadn’t come across them ourselves. On Cara’s last day in town, we found the Baylor Street Art wall, which was fun to see but not a very toddler-friendly place (there was lots of glass on the ground, and it was too hot for Charlie to be content being carried). I’m glad we checked it off our list but don’t know that we’ll be rushing back.
We rounded out Cara’s stay with some park trips, mall explorations, meals out, and plenty of time spent chilling at home. It was so wonderful to spend time together, and we miss her already!
Finishing out the month, we celebrated Luke on his second Father’s Day. We didn’t really do anything special—just church and then lunch downtown, followed by presents and playtime at home—but it was a wonderful opportunity to honor Luke, who is simply the best Daddy to Charlie. We sure do love that guy!
Phew, what a month! Thanks for letting me share all that has been making me happy this June! What have you been into so far this summer?
**As always, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share What We’re Into this month.**