I think that June might have been my fastest-flying month (so far) of 2018! After years as a student and then teacher, I’ve always equated summer with a slower pace. Now, without a school calendar dictating my schedule, summertime doesn’t look all that different from the rest of the year—something I tend to forget, until summer gets here and life proceeds as usual! A few of my regular activities are on hiatus for the summer months, but Charleston and I have found plenty of activities to fill that time, and then some.
This week I got hit with the flu and was forced to slow down; that’s never easy for me but I’m thankful that Luke was able to step in with childcare so I could get some rest. I’m hoping to feel better soon and am looking forward to more fun summer events!
// READING LATELY //
It’s been another excellent reading month, marked by more than a few new favorites! My book selections lately have been dominated by thrillers and Christian living, with few diversions from this trend; I’ve been craving comfort reads, and for me, those two genres fit the bill. A few favorites that would make for great beach reads were Sunburn, Lie to Me, and The Perfect Mother—all fast-paced and filled with brilliant plot twists. As for nonfiction, I would highly recommend Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions and The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships.
Full reviews of these titles are headed your way in a couple weeks. Stay tuned!
// WATCHING LATELY //
Despite being a huge Disney fan, I somehow never got around to seeing Wreck It Ralph, so when the babysitter at our gym offered to let us borrow it for the weekend, we eagerly took her up on the offer. The premise of the movie is very clever: Ralph, an Arcade Game villain, is tired of always being the bad guy. In an attempt to prove he has what it takes to be the hero, he embarks on a journey that takes him into other games within the arcade. Along the way he acquires a new enemy, but also makes friends with a young “glitch” who teaches him about the power of friendship and what it means to be the good guy.
This film is so much fun. I’ve never been a video game person, but I appreciated the gaming humor and cool retro vibe. Some of the visual elements and plot points were a little too weird or nerdy for me, but overall this is a creative and very sweet film that our whole family appreciated. I can’t wait to see the sequel!
My Rating: 4 stars.
Brave was yet another Disney movie that I’d missed (and the only Pixar film—other than the newest Incredibles—that I hadn’t seen), and the gym babysitters came through for us once again. Their DVD loans are saving our Friday Family Movie nights! This story of a young Scottish princess whose impudence leads to chaos in the kingdom was different than anything else Pixar has done, but I loved it. Merida is a spunky protagonist who grated on me at first, but soon won my heart; at the beginning of the movie I joked, “FINALLY, a Disney princess with ‘bad’ hair!” And Charleston countered, “FINALLY, a princess with really good hair!” Gotta love his taste!
I enjoyed the historical and cultural elements of the movie, particularly the Scottish music. I also liked that the love story was between a mother and daughter rather than a typical romance. In the movie, Merida’s mother is turned into a bear; later, Charleston told me his takeaway from the film: “I don’t want to be a turned into a mean bear, or a nice bear; I just want to be myself.” Such great lessons, haha! MY biggest takeaway was that “will-o’-the-wisp” (the ghost lights that guide Merida in her journey) isn’t a nonsense word, and that it preexists Sound of Music’s “Maria.” Who knew?!
In all seriousness, though, Brave is a great movie that I would definitely watch again.
My Rating: 4.5 stars.
// THIS MONTH’S CHARLIE-ISMS //
Charleston is to the age where he is aware of humor and is starting to crack a lot of his own jokes. Most of them are of the potty-humor variety (oh, boys!), and not all that funny. But he continues to keep me chuckling with his inadvertently hilarious comments and questions. A few standouts from this month:
+ Out of the blue one day: “When I’m four, I will behave.”
+ “Hey, Dad! I have a question for you. Do you know that God created the WHOLE world?!”
+ At gymnastics, while the kids did their butterfly stretches, their coach asked them where they’d like to fly. Most wanted to fly places like Disney or the playground. Charleston’s response: “I want to fly to Starbucks.” (Daddy’s gotten him hooked!)
+ At a restaurant, Grandpa asked if he would like to try a hushpuppy: “No thank you. Because puppies are not very good for your stomach.”
+ “Your car is so big! When did it get all growed up?”
+ “Mom, why are you lying down right now?” Me: “Because I’m tired, I just need to rest a little bit.” Charleston, in his soothing voice: “Oh…. It’s okay to be tired.”
+ “Mom, when I’m an adult, can I vacuum like you?” Me: “Sure!” Charleston: “Thank you very much!!!” (Gives me a hug.)
+ “Mama, you’re my favorite 7-year-old. Wait, how old are you? Right, you’re my favorite 34-year-old.”
+ “God is a really good rescuer. But sometimes I don’t want to be rescued. I don’t want to go to Heaven yet, I just want to play.”
+ At swim lessons, the teacher asked each kid what they want to be when they grow up. Charleston answered, “I just want to be me.” Later I asked him to clarify and he said, “when I grow up I want to be just like me. But with BIGGER shirts!”
// (P)update //
Our Arlo Doodle turned five months old yesterday and has been with us for three months, and I am thrilled to report that life with him just keeps getting better (and easier)! Arlo has mellowed out quite a bit, and is doing much less barking, jumping, nipping and other undesirable puppy behaviors. (I’m not spending nearly as much time cleaning up puppy accidents!) He sleeps in his crate at night and rarely barks through the night. He still spends most of his time in the kitchen with us, or in his crate when we aren’t watching him, though we’ve been giving him some monitored time in the living room as well and he will hopefully have earned more free range throughout the house soon. Arlo is doing pretty well with responding to commands at home, though walks continue to be a struggle. Charleston adores his Arlo, who has become his favorite companion; watching them play together makes my heart sing. We haven’t been back to the vet since Arlo finished his final round of shots, so we don’t have an exact weight, but he is definitely growing. He even lost his first tooth this week. Thankfully, he’s remained as cute as ever (though surprisingly difficult to photograph).
// MONTHLY HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
Much like Mother’s Day, we had a nice-but-mellow Father’s Day celebration. The day started as all of our Sundays do with early church. (Have I mentioned that we recently started going to the 8:30 service? Our church is outgrowing our sanctuary so we’ve moved from two weekly services to three. Regular attenders were asked to attend the non-optimal service times to accommodate visitors who are most likely to come during the middle [10:00] service . . . which means that we have been getting up entirely too early for church on Sundays. But I digress…) When we came home, Charleston helped Luke open his gifts: a custom canvas featuring my favorite father/son pairing (my idea) and an Apple Watch (which Luke essentially ordered himself, though I did wrap it, ha!). Then we spent the rest of the day at Luke’s parents’ house for a day of scootering, chatting, and barbecue. (Amazingly, I neglected to get a single picture of the afternoon.)
It’s SO HARD to be away from my own parents on these special occasions, but we did get to talk with my Dad on the phone and thank him for being the remarkable father that he is and always has been. And I enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate the other two important fathers in my life: Luke is such an incredible dad to Charleston, and Tom is a wonderful dad, grandpa, and father-in-law. What a blessing they both are.
As I mentioned in my intro, Charleston and I have found plenty of fun activities to fill our summer days, and many of them have been free (or nearly free)! We’ve been frequenting our own library play area and story times, which is nothing new, but we’ve also been making visits to the library in the neighboring town of Liberty Hill. It’s the tiniest, coziest little town library you can imagine, but they have an incredible summer program. We went to a Dinosaur Day, where Charleston made dinosaur poop, excavated chocolate chips in a cookie dig, and searched for buried dinosaur skeletons. So fun! We also attended the Big Rig Petting Zoo, where kids got to touch and ride on firetrucks, cement trucks, a school bus, and several other vehicles. Charleston had been under the impression that we were going to play with toy trucks, not ride real ones, so that part was a bit of a bust. When we prayed for our lunch after the event, Charleston’s contribution was “And sorry Jesus there were no toys there.” The event was made even more of a downer by the spontaneous rain showers, but Charleston did enjoy making his own hard hat.
Another fun and free activity we attended as a family was Bubblepalooza, an annual event held at the Long center in Downtown Austin featuring food trucks, concerts, and tons of bubble-themed activities. There wasn’t much for kids Charleston’s age (there was a lot for toddlers as well as for older kids) but he had a blast in the giant foam pit, and afterwards we made up for the lackluster bubble experience with a trip to Zilker park and ride on the Zilker Zephyr, which is always a huge hit.
Charleston and I joined our MOPS group for a morning of bowling at a local alley that offers free games to kids throughout the summer. He bowled for two hours and had the time of his life, and all for the $3-fee of renting shoes. It’s definitely a deal we plan to cash in on again this summer.
My favorite free activity of the summer has been a trip to the Austin Public Library. The new facility opened downtown just last October and I’d heard amazing things, so we decided to make the trip down there for story time a couple of weeks ago. I was positively blown away by the breathtaking facility: it is massive and an architectural masterpiece. Walls made entirely of glass allow sunlight to flood the expansive atrium, with its Hogwarts-style floating staircases, cozy reading alcoves, and modern community areas. There are entire rooms dedicated to various categories of books, an enclosed reading porch outside the beautiful children’s wing, and an incredible rooftop garden that offers views of the city. Not since my travels to the cathedrals in Europe have I been so taken with an architectural structure; I was practically begging the librarians to let me move in! Storytime itself was quite the production, replete with customized videos, dynamic song-and-dance numbers, and the most enthusiastic storyteller I’ve ever met.
Moving on from free activities . . . Charleston started gymnastics classes at a new facility, and he’s loving it. The program is very different from his last one at the Y; this class focuses more on skills rather than just body awareness. There have been pluses and drawbacks to both programs, but it’s a nice change of pace and Charleston continues to thrive in his current sport of choice. I’ve enjoyed seeing his progress over the last six months and hope he will continue to enjoy gymnastics as much as does now.
This week and next, Charleston is enrolled in swim lessons through our city. It’s hard to believe this is his third year of doing swim lessons at this pool! This is the first year that he’s been in lessons without mom and dad, and it’s strange to be watching from the sidelines. He’s been doing fairly well and having a blast, but we have a few behavior issues to work on. The first day he pushed another girl in the water (she was ahead of him in line to jump in and he was really eager for his term). And the teachers have been talking to us about how we need to “work on” his squirminess in the pool. Um . . . he’s been nothing BUT squirmy since he was in the womb, I’ve never seen a child with so much energy, so I don’t see the squirminess going away during two weeks of lessons. I have to admire his enthusiasm though, for swimming and really for all of life. He’s definitely the smiliest kid in his swim class, and there’s nothing I love more than that smile. I had to miss one day of his lessons this week because I was too sick to go; it was hard for me not to be there, since it’s the first of his classes or lessons I’ve ever had to miss. But it made me more thankful than ever for my opportunity to stay home with him, so that I’m there for all of the special moments, big and small.
I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what we are into this month! I’d love to here from you: what was one highlight of your June?