This October update is coming to you midweek (aka, not a usual posting day for me), for the slightly very OCD reason that I wanted to include Halloween pictures in my monthly recap and couldn’t bring myself to wait for November’s Lately post—because Halloween is clearly not a November holiday and has no business getting mixed up with November shenanigans. Therefore, this post needed to come after Halloween and couldn’t go live last Monday! But I didn’t want to wait until Friday to post, because by then we will be deep into November, and October’s events will have been a long ago memory. To my brain, an October wrap-up posted on the “wrong” day just made more sense. (Does anybody else worry about these things or even notice them? Is it just me? Tell me IT’S NOT JUST ME!)

Okay, glad we got that sorted out! Moving right along. . . October has always been my favorite month, and this one checked all of my requisite October boxes: cooler (but not cold) weather (I’m happy to report that the boots and scarves have made their annual debut); some subtle coloring of the leaves on our trees; a few fun-not-scary Halloween celebrations; and an internal shift towards introspection (which always happens to me this time of year). I hit a few emotional snags this month, but also experienced some pretty awesome highs. Here’s a look at some of the month’s most memorable moments.


You’ve likely noticed that I tend to group my books into two categories, fiction and nonfiction. This basic classification can be misleading, though, especially in months like this one when the books within the categories have very little in common. This month’s batch of nonfiction reads included two that were faith-based, though one was a memoirish inspirational book and the other was about the relationship between faith fashion. I also read a book about personalities from one of my favorite content creators, and a business book that I found surprisingly relevant to my life as a stay-at-home mom. 

My latest novels also bore little resemblance to each other. I read a historical fiction I’d been really excited about, one thriller, one mystery, and three romances—one of which was YA, one for adults, and one that couldn’t quite make up its mind regarding the target demographic. My impressions of the books were also all over the map, though I didn’t hate any of them. I’ll share full reviews in a Quick Lit roundup next week. I am currently reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the “Book written during the 1990s” category of my 2017 Reading Challenge. I am liking the writing style but having a really hard time with the content. 


I’ve been a fan of Jess Lively’s podcast (The Lively Show) for years, and have enjoyed watching Jess’s adventures over the last 18+ months as she sold her home and all of her belongings and transitioned into a nomadic lifestyle. Jess has shared a lot of her journey on Instagram and on her show, but until now, she’s kept much of it to herself. This month Jess released a 9-episode audio series called A Lively Adventure in which she lays out the specifics of her journey, candidly opening up about everything from her dating escapades overseas to experimenting with psychedelics.

Jess’s biweekly podcast has gotten pretty out there of late, delving into topics like The Law of Attraction and channeling spirit guides; and it’s not just the content that has changed, Jess herself seems like a totally different person. In this miniseries Jess explains the changes and explores the mystical themes more deeply. A lot of this content is way too bizarre for me, but I enjoyed hearing about Jess’s experiences. And I was surprised by how many of the ideas seemed totally plausible and not completely out of alignment with my conservative Christian beliefs.

If you aren’t a Jess Lively follower, I don’t know that you’ll fully appreciate this series, but if you are, it’s a great listen and worth the $13 purchase. 


+ My mother-in-law (whose family is from Mexico) often calls Charleston mijo and now he uses the word all the time when addressing either Luke or me! As in, “come on mijo” or “see you later mijo!”

+ Commonly used words/phrases (interjected into sentences wherever possible): totally, actually, of course. Examples: “I totally ate my whole sandwich,” or “I actually have to tell you something,” or “OF COURSE I am a toddler.”

+ Whenever he is excited about something: “Can you believe this?!” or “Can you handle this?!”

+ Pointing to his leg: “Did I get this bug bite tomorrow or the next day?”

+ When I asked him to take a bite of his sandwich to tell me how it tasted: “It’s yummy! You cooked it perfectly!”

+ Charleston LOVES giving kisses, and his latest trick is to either lick his lips pre-kiss or stick out his tongue mid-kiss, then shriek, “Awwwww, that was a WET kiss!” This was especially funny when he decided to kiss our smiley-face sponge, which really was wet! 

+ Whenever we request that he do something (such as clean up his toys) or ask if he would like to do something (like go to the park), he responds with, “Yeah, sure, we can make that happen!”

+ “When I get older I am going to be a supervisor so I can watch my Tía Amanda. She is not an adult yet.” (She is 32.)

+ Charleston was asking how old I would be on my next birthday. I answered 34 and he said “and what’s going to be next?” We continued with this back-and-forth questioning until I got to 39, to which he responded, “and is that going to be the end?”

+ Cutest malapropism: grassberries for raspberries.

+ “Daddy, do you feel lucky?” Luke: “Yes, I feel very lucky because you are my son.” Charleston: “And I feel lucky because I am mama’s son!”

+ He is very affectionate and often comes up to hug/kiss me or Luke to say, “Hey, I have to tell you something! You are my favorite! I love you forever and ever.” 


When I chose Love as my word for 2017, the intention was to spread more love to those around me in the coming year. As it turns out, God had a little something else planned for me; in a surprising turn of events, this year has turned out to be more about the work going on inside of me than any loving actions I have done.

I’ve still been doing those loving good deeds I set out to do, though it feels weird and a antithetical to the purpose of the whole venture to write about them with any sort of specificity. But as I’ve endeavored to act more loving, my heart has softened and these actions are no longer coming from a place of obligation, but are rather bourn of an altruistic spirit. I’ve begun seeing people more as Jesus sees them and I truly want what is best for them, whether that’s a specific momentary need or a big-picture one. I’ve also become more aware than ever of how well people in my life have shown love to me, and—most of all—of how God washes me in His love day after day, even when I am stubborn, selfish, and completely undeserving of His gracious gift.   


Attending the pumpkin patch in Marble Falls (about an hour away from us) was one of the biggest family highlights of 2016. In fact, we loved it so much that Charleston and I went twice this year, once on the weekend with family and once during the week with friends. The two trips were very different, not only due to our company, but also because the first trip was on a suffocatingly hot day and the second (just two days later) was surprisingly chilly. 

We had so much fun celebrating the harvest season and getting out “into nature” on our visits. Between the two trips we were able to experience a lot of Sweet Berry Farm’s seasonal activities. We picked flowers and pumpkins (which sadly rotted before Halloween), fed the goats, went on a hay ride, did the corn maze, and Charleston rode the train and jumped on the bounce house. I love that we got to get our fill of country life. . . and then could head home to our clean house at the end of the day.

Our Halloween celebrations spanned quite a few days. The Friday before Halloween, Charleston got to accompany Luke’s sister to her Halloween work party (and Luke and I got a date night, woohoo! He had fun trick-or-treating in the office while Luke and I dined on Mongolian BBQ and spent a few hours chilling and Barns & Nobel). Charleston had another chance to wear his pumpkin costume to church.

We spent an evening carving pumpkins, one of my favorite traditions of the year. This year Luke and I modeled our pumpkins after two of the faces in Charleston’s favorite book, It’s Pumpkin Day Mouse! Luke carved Scary Pumpkin and I attempted to carve Happy Pumpkin, though it turned out to be more scary than Luke’s; pumpkin carving isn’t my strong suit. Charleston didn’t enjoy scooping out seeds but had a blast painting his own pumpkin.

Yesterday morning (Halloween) we went to the gym as we do most mornings, and Charleston got to wear his costume and participate in a small party—with cookie decorating!—in the babysitting room. The highlight of the morning was when the gym manager (who happened to be decked out in an amazing pirate costume) invited us to walk through the back offices on our way in; Charleston peeks through the glass doors to these offices EVERY time we are there and asks when he gets to be a worker so he can go back there. . . when we left he said, “so am I a worker there now?” Only on Halloween, buddy! 

On Halloween afternoon our Pumpkin Patch family went trick-or-treating at our City Hall. It was seriously a blast! The departments all decorated with different themes: Sesame Street, witches, glow-in-the-dark, skeletons, and (my favorite) Harry Potter. The employees were dressed up and passing out candy and there were a few extra activities as well. I love local events like this, that are mostly low key but still so much fun. 

We ended our Halloween festivities with trick-or-treating in our neighborhood last night. Charleston had a blast! It was strange to think back to a year ago when he could barely walk up to a couple of houses; this year he ran from house to house, said “trick-or-treat” and “thank you” at every door, and had plenty of commentary after each stop. We were out for about an hour; by the end his pail was getting pretty full and he said, “I have enough candy. Let’s go home.” It was really cold and drizzly, so an hour was plenty of time for this shivering mama. (When we got home I stripped off all my layers—four pairs of leggings, five tops—and the pile of clothes was so large, Charleston asked if I was sorting laundry.) Given the weather I was surprised by how many trick-or-treaters were out, and when we got home we had fun passing out candy to the big kids. It was the perfect end to a very fun day.

And with that, I’m putting a bow on October and moving onto a new month. Our November is going to be a busy one, but hopefully a lot of fun too. This weekend we are camping with friends, and later this month we are driving out to California to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and attend a fun family camp in the mountains. I can’t wait! 

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what we’re into this month! 

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