I heard someone say recently that November is nobody’s favorite month. I quite like November, but I fear that in my rush to the Christmas season this year, I did not give November all the love and attention it deserved. Still, the month managed to surprise and delight.


I wish I had happier news to report on the reading front; sadly, my reading rut has continued. This month I finished two classics—one for adults and one for kids, neither of which lived up to my expectations. This eerie novella was intriguing, but not to my taste; I did love this Christmas-themed one, though. My favorite book of the month was this deep dive into theology and apologetics. This book on society’s evaporating ability to focus was also quite relevant and insightful. I’ll have full reviews of these books ready for you in a couple of weeks.


My parents send out an annual Thanksgiving Card (in lieu of Christmas cards). Each year has a theme, and for their 2022 card my Dad did a little holiday interview with Charleston. I know I’m biased, but this may be my favorite of theirs yet!

And on the subject of holiday cards. . . I was pretty thrilled with how ours turned out this year!

I framed a copy of it and added it to our display of card from across the years. I love this little timeline of how our family has grown and changed over the years.


We added an extra dose of gratitude to our Thanksgiving season this year with a gratitcube—a 12-sided dice with a dozen gratitude prompts. We enjoyed rolling the dice and sharing our thoughts each evening of Thanksgiving week. I’m always looking for fresh new ways to help our family exercise our gratitude muscles, and this little dice is both creative and fun. (The cube is from GoodKind, and we are looking forward to starting our Advent Blocks countdown—also from GoodKind—tonight!)

We honored the first evening of the Advent season this past Sunday with a lighting of our first Advent candle and readings from Annie F. Downs’ Advent guide. (The guide is a paid resource, but you can listen to the daily Advent podcasts for free!) Even though I have never attended a liturgical church, I grew up celebrating Advent with my family, and my love for this sacred season has grown.

This month, Charleston and I are taking a break from our usual lessons and replacing them with the Christmas School curriculum from the team at Read Aloud Revival. The guide is designed for children of all ages, and it has been fun to have the twins join us. Each week focuses on a different Christmas-themed book from beloved author Jan Brett, and the guide walks us through cross-curricular lessons related to the book, with ideas for how to incorporate geography, literature, art, cooking, science, and more. We have really enjoyed learning about Brett’s process in researching, writing, and illustrating her stories, and it has been fun to dig a little deeper into the traditions of the countries in which each book is set.


I adore Christmas music and compiled a (very extended) “playlist” of sorts containing dozens of my favorite albums. We have the music streaming through our Sonos speakers at all hours of the day! Between carols, I’ve also been doing my share of podcast listening. Here are some podcasts that informed, intrigued, or inspired me this month.

Ministry Strong — Christian Celebrity Culture

Sarah’s Bookshelves Live — Ep. 126: Behind the Scenes of Producing Audiobooks (with Karen Dziekonski of Penguin Random House Audio) + Audiobook Recommendations

Wear We Are — Episode 41: We Talk Democracy with Shadi Hamid

Made for This — How to Stop Fear From Running Your Life with Jamie Winship

A Drink With a Friend — Why is In-Person Community Better Than Virtual?

Focus on the Family Broadcast — Defending Your Faith In a Secular Culture

The Candace Cameron Bure Podcast — God is a Good Father

The Tim Ferris Show — Nial Ferguson, Historian — The Coming Cold War II, Visible and Invisible Geopolitics, Why Even Atheists Should Study Religion, Masters of Paradox, Fatherhood, Fear, and More (#634)



+ When I blasted a song while on the road: “Mom, I’m pretty sure you’re littering noise out of our car.”

+ “I don’t like fancy shirts. They’re too fancy. And yes you can write that down.”

+ He chose Romans 3:23 as his life verse/motto for a project. When I asked why he chose that verse: “Well, it kind of makes me feel good. Like I’m not one of the perfect ones but I’m not the only one who sins, too.”

+ Me: “What is the greatest commandment?” Charleston: “Love God. And the second command is obey your parents. . . I mean, it’s clean your room. Just kidding! But maybe it SHOULD be the second greatest command, it might get kids to keep their rooms clean!”

+ “You know how we’re different from other families, but like the good kind of different? Well I’m worried if I start getting the big kid magazine instead of the junior magazine it will have stuff that’s more like that stuff that’s for other families that we don’t do. I think I want to stay with the junior one. It’s like bananas: you don’t want to eat the bananas when they’re too green, you want to let them get ripe first.”

+ “I put an extra blanket on my bed to see if I could get extra sweaty so that could be my morning shower.”


+ Me: “What are you going to ask Santa for for Christmas?” Sully: “Um. . . I’m going to ask him for presents.”

+ “That book is really delicate.” Me: “And do you know what delicate means?” Sully: “Yeah, it means it can’t go in the crib.”


+ Me: “What are you going to ask Santa for for Christmas?” Kali: “Candy Canes!”

+ After I had gotten her dressed one morning: “No, I don’t want to wear this dress! It’s not a wonderful dream!”


The start of our month was busy but uneventful, but this past week brought all the fun thanks to a visit from my parents! We usually head to California for Thanksgiving, but we were happy to be home this year and to have them with us. The week was simple but fun, packed with conversation, shared story times and meals, and ALL the board games!

We spent Thanksgiving day at Luke’s sister’s house with her family, and they were amazing hosts. We were sad that my father-in-law had the flu and thus Luke’s parents were unable to join us. Despite the missing faces at our Thanksgiving table, it was a fun day with delicious food and a good time remembering all we have to be thankful for—not the least of which was all the kids playing well together for most of the day!

Black Friday saw us at the Christmas tree lot the minute it opened. We had prepaid for our tree so it was simple to walk through the (lovely) trees and pick a favorite. Charleston named him Tristan and we are happy to have Tristan the Tree home with us for the holidays.

On Friday afternoon, the kids opened their first gifts of the season: Christmas pajamas and books! (They got these pajamas, four of Jan Brett’s Christmas books, and The Christmas Pig.) Traditionally we have done this gift on Chritsmas Eve, but we moved it up this year so we could get more enjoyment out of the items during the Christmas season.

That night we attended a tree lighting in the town square of the neighboring town. It was raining and cold, but that added to the festiveness and the kids did surprisingly well with the bad weather. I was impressed by the great turnout and loved seeing all the joyful young faces (particularly my own kids’ faces) at that magical moment when the lights came on and the town was illuminated with beauty.

We spent the rest of the weekend decorating the house! We keep things simple in our home, but every decoration has a story and a memory, and each one makes me so very, very happy. From the displays of our family photos and the kids’ annual Santa pictures, to the twins’ Little People nativity set, to the stockings hung up on our walls (because we don’t have a mantle)—I love it all. I’m especially smitten with the precious moments figurine Luke gave me as a wedding present (and love how much Kali loves it, thanks to her recent obsession with Cinderella).

Decorating the Christmas tree is a big deal in our home. We bust out the Christmas M&Ms, crank up the holiday tunes, light up the (tv) fireplace, and get the job done. There are pictures of everyone with their first ornaments, plus pics with the new ornaments we are adding this year. I love that the kids are old enough now to have favorites and to excitedly listen to the stories behind each one. I love that Charleston is able to guide his siblings along the way. I love that even though it’s chaotic, we make this tradition happen every year. I hope that years from now, the tensions of ornament unboxing and hanging frustrations (why are those branches so flimsy?!) and overindulging on chocolate will have been forgotten, but the joy and love and nostalgia of this tradition remain.

A favorite annual tree-related tradition is adding one new ornament to our “special ornament” collection; we have added one or two every year since we were married in 2008. So many ornaments, each with a story to tell. This year’s ornament is the Sorring Hat—2022 was, for us, the year of a Harry Potter!


In case you missed it, a round up of November’s blog posts.


A Stumble Prevents a Fall “I can’t help but wonder how many of the problems facing younger generations are a result of (well-meaning) parents who subverted their young ones’ stumbles one time too many. Is the prevalence of victim mentality, challenge-aversion, and entitlement we are seeing in contemporary culture the unanticipated consequence of helicopter parents who bubble-proofed their children?

Look at the Fruit (Sermon on the Mount, Part 11) “In this age of fake news and doctored images and infamously unreliable sources, the softened edges of my naïveté have been filed razor-sharp. Gone are the days when I was quick to take a person’s word at face value, or to trust my ears (or eyes). I miss my own innocence, but such gullibility is no longer prudent.

28 Things on My Christmas Bucket List “This year, to ensure that I make the most of this joyful, too-short season, I am creating a bucket list of everything I hope to see, do, make, experience, and otherwise accomplish in the month ahead.

Greater Gratitude “Our God is SO GREAT and His blessings are so enormous that we don’t know to ask for them, and don’t always recognize them when they have been given. We trifle with earthly requests and quibble over temporal desires; meanwhile, an entire Heavenly Kingdom of riches awaits.

What I Learned This Fall—About World Views, Discipling My Children, Community, and Unexpected Blessings {2022} “And if we can be wrong about things that should be easy to understand and predict . . . what does that say about our ability to foresee other future events? I am so glad I trust in an all-knowing God who is never surprised, because humans appear to be pretty terrible in determining what’s next.


Set-Apart Motherhood: Reflecting Joy and Beauty in Family Life (Wholehearted Book Series, Book 11) Set-Apart Motherhood is a call to rise above mediocrity, stepping into the fulfillment that can be found in raising children and running a home when God is at the center of our mothering and our home life. We reap the benefits from this pursuit, as do our children; it also glorifies our Heavenly Father, and though the intention is not to impress others with our parenting skills or homemaking abilities, set-apart motherhood can also serve to point onlookers to the Lord as well.

Quick Lit // November 2022 Reviews of a romance I loved (what a surprise!), a mystery I didn’t (another surprise), some amazing historical fiction, enlightening nonfiction, and some fun middle grade.


“Does God ask us to do what is beneath us? This question will never trouble us again if we consider the Lord of heaven taking a towel and washing feet.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

“Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.” ~ John Stott

“Worship is a natural response to an appropriate understanding of who God is.” ~ Natasha Crain

How was your November? Are you as excited as I am for the start of the Christmas season? Let the most wonderful time of the year begin!

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