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The sprint to the end of the year is upon us, and this November shot right by—thankfully it graced me with some very special moments as it passed on through.


My reading this month was all about countering popular ideas and narratives—from our understanding of Biblical womanhood and our sin nature, to racism, motherhood, self-love, and the spiritual journey. In the realm of fiction, I read several mysteries (some better than others) as well as a few heartwarming middle grade books. Stay tuned for reviews of all of these titles over the next couple of weeks.


Finch: If Castaway and Wall-E gave birth to a film, this would be the result: Tom Hanks plays Finch, a former engineer who has survived a sun flare that wiped out the ozone layer and destroyed most human, animal, and plant life. Finch has spent the past decade foraging in his hazmat suit, caring for his adorable dog Goodyear, and creating a lifelike robot that will care for Goodyear once Finch succumbs to the radiation sickness that is slowly overtaking him. When a storm approaches Finch’s St. Louis home, he and his tiny crew set out in their motor home on a trip to San Francisco. Along the way, Finch teaches his robot “Jeff” all he knows about survival, life in the before-times, and how to carry on once he’s gone.

I’m not a fan of apocalyptic fiction so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this movie wasn’t a hit for me. The visuals are stark and the plot is very, VERY slow. The film does have some high points: Tom Hanks is expectedly remarkable in his role (few actors can carry an entire film as he can), the dog is absolutely precious, and the robot is sweet and brings some much-needed humor. The movie is not gratuitously gory or graphic, which I appreciated, and there a few sweet moments. So really I didn’t have much to complain about in this movie other than the fact that almost nothing happens. It’s charming in a way I didn’t know such a bleak film could be, but even the strong acting and heartwarming elements weren’t enough to keep me awake until the end of the film.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars.

Jungle Cruise: As a veteran passenger of many Jungle Cruise excursions (thanks to years spent with a Disneyland pass), I’ve been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. The film is inspired by the Disney ride, and feels like a mashup of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie and African Jungle, with a little Indiana Jones thrown in. The movie is set in 1916 and tells the story of Dr. Lilly Houghton and her brother MacGregor, who enlist a boisterous skipper named Frank to accompany them down the Amazon in search of a legendary tree that holds powerful healing potential.

The visuals of this film are stunning; I was in awe of the breathtaking landscapes, beautiful costumes, and elaborate tribal villages. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt have wonderful chemistry and I loved each of their roles. The screenplay is less impressive: it’s very funny (gotta love the campy Jungle Cruise jokes) and has some interesting twists, but I didn’t enjoy the supernatural elements (especially those involving snakes!) and felt there was too much slapstick action. Parts of the story get pretty convoluted and difficult to follow—I would need to watch the movie a second time to fully comprehend parts of the narrative. Despite this, I really did enjoy the movie and look forward to the sequel.

My Rating: 4 Stars.


Our little guys are getting bigger and funnier by the day! Favorite activities for them these days include coloring, bubbles, Legos, and eating big bowls of yogurt. They have become pickier eaters but more consistent sleepers; they are both talking up a storm (Sully is leading the way with speech, but even Kali is starting to piece together sentences); and they are both obsessed with each other and with knowing where everyone in our family is at any given time in the day. (“Where’s Mama?” “Where’s Daddy?” “Where’s Arlo?” and “Where’s Charlie” are their most-repeated questions.) Sully has taken to calling Kali “Kinda Joy” and we’ve all adopted the nickname for her! Each twin latched on to a new beloved friend this month—Kali loves Xavier the Bear and Sully is usually seen traveling around with Coco the Monkey (both of which were Charleston’s toys when he was a baby).


Not a day goes by lately that I don’t look over at Charleston and wonder who this giant child is that replaced my little boy—he’s growing like a weed, and his attitude and personality are keeping pace. The new gap in hi smile has him looking so grown up! He’s a big daydreamer but loves time with family and friends, playing board games, doing crafts, and building with Legos. He’s been busy making Christmas cards and gifts for various family members (all of which he has initiated), and fills every spare moment with listening to Adventures in Odyssey episodes. He’s kept the quips coming this month; here were a few good ones:

+ “If all people sin does that mean animals sin too? If you’re allowed to send me text messages from Heaven, ask God and text me.”

+ When he told me how he had tried to make a bracelet as a Christmas gift for me and it didn’t work out. . . Me: “That’s so sweet, Charleston, just knowing that you tried to make that for me is as good as getting a gift.” Charleston: “Oh, then I guess I should have waited until Christmas to tell you.”

+ Pouting over a disappointment (he learned the McDonald’s dining room where we’d been planning to have our date night was closed.): “Why would God let Satan ruin a perfectly nice day?”

+ Telling me about the several girls he has a crush on, or that have a crush on him: “There’s too many good options. How am I ever going to choose a wife? This is going to be so hard when I grow up.”

+ “Kali and Sully are just the cutest little babies that ever existed. Let’s just agree on one thing: God has seriously blessed us.”

+ On the first leg of our road trip to California: “I wish we didn’t have to stay in a hotel tonight so we could be at Oma and Opa’s house sooner, and so we could save money for more important things. . . like taxes.”


Our big highlight of the month was a road trip to California for Thanksgiving week. This was our first time making the trip with the twins, and was our easiest one yet. All the kids were fantastic in the car (20 hours each way) and the visit was WELL worth the drive. We had amazing weather during our week with my parents and spent plenty of time playing outside, as well as entertaining ourselves with drawing, toys, and games in my parents’ living room. We roasted marshmallows in the evening, Charleston went canoeing with my parents, and we all got to go out for a harbor cruise in their yacht.

We were able to visit all three of our great grandparents this visit—Luke’s maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother. I feel so blessed that each of them is doing well and got to enjoy time with our kids. One fun/funny/memorable moment of our visit with Luke’s grandfather was learning our last name (Jernejcic) is SLOVENIAN; I’d always thought it was Slovakian, oops!

We had planned to spend Thanksgiving day with Luke’s extended family, but Charleston was under the weather so we kept our illness to ourselves and spent the day with my family instead. My brother came over along with Yessi—and they announced their engagement! I’m excited to have a new sister in the family, and my kids all love her.

My favorite moment of our trip was a visit to Downtown Disney. The kids love all things Disney, so seeing the themed outfits, decorations, and gift stores was a huge hit for all of them. The twins waved hello to everyone they saw, calling out “hi friends!” to every stranger, and they pointed out each and every Mickey Mouse, Forky, and Nemo. Kali and Sully even came home with a Minnie Mouse and Forky stuffed animal of their own, and Charleston treated himself to a new box of Legos. The kids’ exuberant enthusiasm during our whole evening at Disney was an absolute delight—all without the cost of a Disney ticket!

From safe travels and decent health to beautiful weather, family time, and adorably funny chickadees, I had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

And now it’s time to say goodbye to November and hello to all things Christmas! ‘Tis the season!

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