What a bizarre month it has been. It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago we were all engaging in the reckless behaviors of embarking on trips to church, greeting people with a handshake or a hug, and washing our hands for less than twenty seconds. What’s even more bizarre to me is the knowledge that it’s not just my own little world that has been flipped upside down in the past month, but that literally everyone is experiencing massive changes to life as we know it.
As I mentioned in this post, our own family hasn’t been too deeply affected by recent events: the five of us have always all been home all day, and beyond errands and brief daily outings, we were already accustomed to staying in. However, choosing not to go out feels very different from knowing we can’t go out, and I have definitely had moments where I feel like the house is closing in on us. For the most part, though, we have done fine with the change. We are in good health, our income is secure, and our loved ones are all healthy and safe. I’ve actually appreciated the lack of pressure to participate in extra activities, and it’s been nice to enjoy our family (and have time to tackle some spring cleaning projects) without feeling tied to any external schedules or events. As the novelty wears off—and as circumstances in our country potentially become more dire—I’m sure that our daily reality will be a little harder, but for now we are doing well.
Even without straying far from home, there have been so many bright spots this month. (Not to mention the highlights that took place before social distancing began. . . which feels too long ago to have been within the past month!) Here’s a glimpse at some of the good that came from this momentous March.
// READING LATELY //
Though I’ve struggled to focus on books lately, I somehow managed to get through quite a few of them this month, including some particularly recommendation-worthy nonfiction titles. This book about evangelism was one of the most helpful guides I’ve read on the subject. I learned a lot about myself through this personality book, and I learned more than I thought I needed to know about a celebrity I didn’t think I would care about (but ended up liking) in this memoir. I’m so glad that I read this parenting book and this one, which set me up for success during this extended period of full-time, zero-breaks parenting. My timing of reading this book about slowing down was also fortuitous.
As for fiction, this mystery was clever and a complete page turner, and this deeply relevant novel gave me a lot to think about related to race relations and white privilege. On the other end of the enjoyment spectrum, neither this book nor this one quite lived up to the hype for me, and this book seemed to be trying too hard to be culturally relevant.
Reviews of each of these titles are headed your way in the next few weeks.
// WATCHING LATELY //
I’ve loved seeing the outpouring of media content in recent weeks (so much amazing artwork and generous artists, not to mention creative pivoting and unique marketing). It’s been fun to read through numerous compilation lists of shows and movies to binge while we are all spending more time at home. Unfortunately, my extra time at home simply means more time taking care of my kids, and since we are continuing to limit screen time to the weekends—and Charleston isn’t really interested in trying out any new movies or shows—I haven’t been able to enjoy much beyond Luke’s and my weekly hour of watching a show (our Friday night “date nights” once the kids are in bed). This month we spent that time watching a weekly episode of The Office (in conjunction with The Office Ladies podcast, which we are both obsessed with) and finishing up the final season of Jane the Virgin, which we started watching back in January.
I was so impressed with this final season of Jane the Virgin; in fact, it was one of the most thoughtful and well-executed series finales I’ve seen! The acting in this season is stellar, and each episode includes a good balance of storytelling and character development. It’s a long season and a lot happens, and while the middle of the season dragged, I enjoyed the surprising plot twist at the beginning of the season and LOVED how well the entire series wrapped up, with satisfying endings for every storyline. I thought that the reflection-heavy last few episodes (particularly the actors’ tell-all in the second-to-last episode) were an especially nice touch. This was one of my favorite shows in recent years, and while part of me is sad that the show has wrapped, I’m glad that it ended on such a high note.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars.
// LISTENING LATELY //
The podcasting world has really upped its game to meet the increased demand for relevant content during this time of social distancing. A number of my favorite podcasts have been releasing extra episodes each week to provide a diversion or extra information during these strange times. My absolute favorite of these has been Annie Downs’ daily conversations with her friend Eddie on her (normally bi-weekly) show That Sounds Fun.
After spending time with a friend who was later diagnosed with Coronavirus, Annie entered into state-imposed quarantine two weeks before the rest of the country began to shelter in place. As an extreme extrovert and someone who lives by herself, this was obviously difficult for Annie, but she handled the situation with wisdom, courage, and grace. Her daily podcast in the last few weeks has been honest (and subsequently a bit heartbreaking at times) but also encouraging and hopeful. I, along with the rest of Annie’s audience, have been inspired by her faith in the midst of a adversity as well as her ability to make the most of a crummy situation. I am thankful that she has used her public platform to invite us into this personally challenging time; her morning shows have been a bright spot in my days over the last few weeks. And since I can’t seem to get enough Annie, I have also been tuning in to Annie’s Instagram Stories (her stories are actually the only social media I am consuming these days) because I find her life as a single woman (especially one who is quarantined) oddly fascinating.
// LOVING LATELY //
In a beautiful testament to the value our culture places on our children’s education—and to companies’ willingness to fill in the gaps when needed—there has been an abundance of new educational resources popping up in recent weeks. As a family who already homeschools (as much “homeschooling” as is needed for a Pre-Kindergartener), I’ve been a little overwhelmed by all of the enticing new options, but a couple have been just too good to pass up. The first is Lunchtime Doodles with Mo Willems, a daily video in which the popular children’s author engages with children in a Mister Rogers’-style format. Mo talks with the kids, shares a few drawings, answers email questions, and offers insights into his drawing and writing process from his home studio. Charleston and I have both been impressed with and delighted by Mo’s soothing demeanor and gentle humor, and Charleston has really latched on to the doodling inspiration. In fact, I’ve been blown away by the artwork Mo has inspired Charleston to create.
Another resource we have been taking full advantage of is Bookflix, a branch of Scholastic that is temporarily free to the public. The site includes dozens of themed book pairings accompanied by comprehension activities. Charleston has had so much fun exploring this site that he hasn’t realized it is technically schoolwork. He’s been working through several units each day, and they are providing a great addition to our usual “curriculum” of workbooks, Khan Academy Kids, plenty of reading, and non-traditional educational games and activities.
You’ve probably already seen John Krasinki’s Good News video. If you haven’t watched it yet, you must: his video is a much-needed dose of positivity and humor. The news he shares is so uplifting, and his interview with Steve Carrell flashing back on favorite memories from The Office is priceless.
I am so thankful for technology that is allowing us to all stay connected in the midst of social distancing. One app I (along with everyone I know) am particularly appreciating is Zoom, which Luke uses frequently for work but which was new for me this month. Our community group has been meeting on Zoom each Tuesday night, and it has been great to interact with everyone after long days of seeing nobody but Luke and my kids. Our Zoom meetings have felt much more natural than I’d expected from a virtual meeting, and it has been kind of fun to see our group members in their home settings.
Yet another blessing this month has been the beauty of spring, which we are still free to enjoy in the midst of so much else that is currently off limits. I’ve been appreciating daily walks with the kids, and the bluebonnets and other wildflowers and greenery we’ve encountered has been positively stunning and a great reminder of God’s presence and omnipotence when life feels chaotic.
// MONTHLY CHARLIE-ISMS //
I have been surprised and grateful for how well Charleston has responded to events of the past month. It helps that we are all used to spending quite a bit of time at home, so even though Charleston and I have talked about what’s going on, it doesn’t feel all that different to him. There are days when he and I both get a little stir crazy (prior to this month, it was rare for us to go a whole day without driving somewhere), but for the most part we have been enjoying the long days of playing and learning at home without any time constraints.
Our conversations have gotten much more involved lately and more difficult to winnow into soundbites, but here is a sampling of the fun things Charleston said this month:
+ About Kali and Sully: “I bet they get a cavity their first day at the dentist.” Me: “I hope not.” Charleston: “Come on, they were sucking on their toes!”
+ Me: “Do you want to have kids one day?” Charleston: “It depends on if whoever I live with has a baby. Whoever I get married with.”
+ On our drive home from Bible Study: “When will I get the chance to die? Because I think I might like Heaven better.”
+ Randomly, while out on a walk one evening: “Well . . . today wasn’t one of the best days of my life. But it was a pretty good day.”
+ Taking about why he’d been having trouble behaving that day: “Maybe my body thinks it’s tantrum season. Even though it isn’t tantrum season.” Me: “So when you are naughty should I remind you it’s not tantrum season?” Charleston: “Yeah. But instead of tantrum season, can you please say tantrum day?”
+ Discussing his week’s Bible verse, which talked about doing what Jesus did. “But isn’t did something that already happened? So shouldn’t it be do what Jesus does, because He’s still alive?”
// HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
My parents came out to Texas for a visit the first week of March (back when traveling across the country and actually visiting peoples’ houses was still a thing), and having them here was absolutely wonderful! My mom was here for a full week and my dad came for the weekend. During their time in Texas, we visited all our usual haunts (Urban Air, Little Land, Open Gym) and they joined in on a few of our weekly activities, including church and Bible study. My mom and I also brought the twins to their first library story time, something I’ve been wanting to do but had been too intimidated to try on my own. In addition to going out, my parents had lots of play time with Charleston at home and on our backyard playground, and of course they did plenty of baby snuggling. I deeply enjoyed the time with them, and it sure was nice to have some extra sets of hands to help out with the babies for a few days. Seeing my parents interact with my children is one of my absolute favorite things, and I treasure the memories we made together.
My parents were here on my birthday which made it extra special: they made sure I spent the day feeling honored and loved, as they always have on my birthday for as long as I can remember. On the morning of my birthday, my mom and I took the kids to Open Gym while my dad attended a work meeting, then we went to Hat Creek for lunch and brought home MOD pizza for dinner before doing birthday candles and gifts. Having all of my loved ones around me on my birthday was truly the best gift a girl could ask for; it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to see my parents on my birthday, and of course it was my first birthday spent with my three children—all such beautiful birthday blessings.
Coincidently, my friend Cara also came out to visit at the same time my mom was here (Cara and my dad happened to be on the same plane from California!). Cara was only here for the day, but we had a great time together! We had a LOT of catching up to do (since our last visit, I gave birth to twins and she got engaged—big changes for both of us!) and she got to meet Kali and Sully for the first time. We also attended the Love Better Tour in Austin, where we got to sit under the teaching of Annie Downs and Jonathon Pocluda. It was an amazing night, made more fun because Cara and I got to experience it together.
If you read Monday’s monthly twin update, you know that this month we began sleep training Kali and Sully. It’s gone much better than anticipated and I am thankful that we are all getting some more sleep at night. The twins’ naps are still all over the place, but I am hopeful that we will eventually figure out a solid naptime schedule. In the meantime, I am simply grateful for the naps they are taking—and for all of the adorable naptime pictures I’ve been able to capture!
Our other big excitement with the twins this month was introducing solids. It has been a messy and frequently frustrating endeavor (especially for poor Kali who can’t quite figure the food thing out), but it’s definitely an adventure. It’s been fun to see which foods they like and which they don’t, and Charleston has enjoyed participating in this process and hearing stories about when he first started eating foods.
And that’s it for the month of March. None of us knows what April will hold, so for now we take things a day at a time. As we embark on a new month, stay safe, stay healthy . . . and wash those hands!