We survived the month of October, and what a month it has been! It’s hard to believe that when I posted my last monthly update, I was still very pregnant and counting down the minutes to the twins’ arrival. Now, on the first day of November, they have been here for over a month, we have settled (or at least semi-settled) into a new normal as a family of five, and our little crew has several seasonal memories under our belts.
Our family’s transition has mirrored the changing of the seasons: in the past couple of weeks, we shifted from sweltering heat to temperatures below freezing. It has indeed been a month of change, and though I’m not sure how gracefully I’ve navigated the shifts, they have all been welcome. October has always been my favorite month, and this October will likely go down as my most memorable one yet!
// READING LATELY //
Thanks to audiobooks and Kindle reading that keeps me awake during middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, I managed to read more this month than I thought I would post-baby. None of the novels I read in October really stood out to me, though this one left me with a lot to think about (unfortunately the vulgarity and dislikable characters kept it at a 3.5-star read for me).
As for nonfiction, I loved this quick and creative memoir, as well as this insightful and relatable one. This book shed light on a topic I never thought I’d read about, and this one has me reevaluating my relationship with technology.
Reviews of all of these books will eventually make it to the blog, though it might be a while before I get around to posting. . . .
// LISTENING LATELY //
I began listening to three podcasts this month—two that are new, and one that is new to me. All of them are a little outside of my usual wheelhouse, but I’m really enjoying all three.
Armchair Expert ~ After hearing so many rave reviews for this show (which is hosted by actor Dax Shepard), I downloaded a few episodes to see what the fuss was all about, and I am now an enthusiastic subscriber. I love Dax’s description on the podcast’s webpage: “I am endlessly fascinated by the messiness of being human, and I find people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings to be incredibly sexy. I invite you to join me as I explore other people’s stories. We will celebrate, above all, the challenges and setbacks that ultimately lead to growth and betterment.”
Dax interviews celebrities on his show, but goes beyond the usual soundbites and media promotion to dig deep into his guests’ pasts and emotional hangups. Dax, who is open about his sobriety and his own brokenness and insecurities, is a funny yet compassionate interviewer who brings out the humanity of his interviewees. While I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve listened to, I found his interview with Monica Lewinsky particularly thought-provoking. Head’s up for sensitive listeners: this show can get pretty vulgar, but I find I’m willing to overlook the language and sexual content for the sake of the quality discussions beneath.
The Office Ladies ~ Luke and I are huge fans of The Office, so I was thrilled to discover this new podcast from The Office co-stars Jenna Fishcer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela). Each week, Jenna and Angela recap one episode, sharing behind-the-scenes trivia and personal memories from the show. Angela and Jenna have a fantastic dynamic, and their love for both each other, and for the show they were a part of, shines through in every episode. I’ve loved revisiting this iconic show through their recaps, and am more enamored with both Jenna and Angela than ever before. I also enjoyed hearing more from these two, including the origins of the podcast, in this interview.
Dolly Parton’s America ~ I grew up listening to Dolly Parton and have always respected both her musicianship and her bold, enthusiastic personality, and this new podcast from NPR is giving me even more reasons to admire the iconic entertainer. In addition to providing a deep dive into Dolly’s remarkable career and inspiring personal life, the show blends biography with anthropology to explore the impact Dolly has had on the music world, feminism, and Appalachian culture. This is a fascinating listen, regardless of your feelings about Dolly Parton.
// VERSE OF THE MONTH //
Though I didn’t get a chance to share a full VOTM post here on the blog, I did choose a verse to memorize and meditate on during the month of October.
This first month as a mom to three has been incredible in many ways, but it has also been very difficult, with daily—often hourly—reminders of my own inadequacies and maternal shortcomings. In these moments, I have been reminding myself that I alone might not have what it takes to parent my three precious little ones, but God will equip me with the strength and fortitude to care for my children. By taking things one day at a time, and surrendering each moment to the Lord, I can parent with confidence, courage, and an assurance that we can do this!
// MONTHLY CHARLIE-ISMS //
It’s remarkable how much older Charleston seems, now that we have two newborns in the house! I have been blown away by how well he has handled the transitions in our home this month. He is an amazing big brother, and watching him with Kali and Sully might be my favorite mothering experience to date. Not surprisingly, many of his Charlie-isms this month revolve around his new role.
+ While I was still pregnant, after kissing the babies in my belly good morning (always): “I wonder if they’ll be in there a little longer or if God wants them to come today?”
+ When the babies first came home, Charleston heard Sully make a noise from where he was hanging out in the crib. Charleston peeked into the crib and exclaimed, “they wake up?!?!” Later he caught Sully with his eyes open and he ran to tell me, “my brother just saw me for the first time! I told him my name, and his name, and the name of the girl! He saw his big brother!”
+ At bedtime, after prayer and blessings, the first night the twins were home: “I want to do my piece.” We went over to the crib to pray over the babies and he prayed, “dear God, thank you for the babies. And . . . thank you for the babies.” (This was the first time he has ever prayed aloud with us.)
+ Complaining about what the twins can get away with: “Babies can do ANYTHING they want.” Luke: “well, it’s just that they don’t know any better.” Charleston: “Don’t lie to me, they can do anything.”
+ When Kali burped while I nursed her at the table: “Good one, sis!”
+ After talking about how the streets in heaven are paved in gold: “I LOVE gold! I love anything that’s shiny!”
+ Talking about his friend Lilly: “We like to get together. Talk about our feelings and stuff. Some stuff is good and some stuff is bad.”
+ “Do you think I’m a good big brother?” Me: “Yes, you are a fantastic big brother! I am so proud of how good you are with your brother and sister.” Charleston: “I just love hearing you say that!”
+ “When can we have that drink where we set the timer and when the timer goes off we drink it?“ It took us a while to figure out what he was talking about. . . eventually we realized he was referring to sparkling cider, which we drink at midnight on New Year’s After doing a countdown.
+ “I’m so sad that we can’t go to California for Thanksgiving to stay in the cabinets with the bunk beds.” Me: “I know, me too, but the babies aren’t big enough to travel yet.” Charleston: “I know! How about you and I go and Daddy stays home with the babies.” Me: “But then how will the babies eat without me?” Charleston: “Well what if we switch it? Daddy and I go and you stay home with the babies.” Me: “But I will miss you and be sad that I don’t get to go too.” Charleston: “Well we can take a picture?”
+ To Luke: “You’re stronger than I thought!” Luke: “How strong did you think I would be?” Charleston: “Probably the number right after me.”
// HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
Needless to say, the true highlight of the past several weeks—and one of the biggest highlights of my lifetime—was the arrival of our twins at the end of September. Their birth was not at all the labor I’d hoped and planned for, but I celebrate our story because it brought me two healthy, beautiful babies with whom I am utterly smitten. In case you missed it, you can read our full birth story and a recap of the twins’ first ten days right here.
My parents were vacationing in France when the twins were born (they received news of their birth while touring Versailles!), but as soon as they returned to the States, my mom flew out to Texas to help us out for a week. She was a tremendous help while she was here: she snuggled babies, changed diapers, gave Sully bottles, served as our resident medical expert (she is a NICU nurse which is amazingly convenient for us!), and entertained Charleston with numerous outings and countless hours of board games and bedroom basketball. My dad was also able to come out for a couple of days, and I am so glad that both of my parents got to meet Kali and Sully while they were still fresh from the womb. There is something so special about seeing my parents with my babies—all three of them; my kids might not realize it yet, but they have been seriously blessed in the grandparent department!
When the twins were two weeks old, my friend and photographer Shanyn came to our house for a newborn photo session. The experience was such a fun one: I was amazed by Shanyn’s creative eye, her patience with our temperamental babies and smile-averse preschooler, and her ability to make our whole family feel comfortable in front of the camera. And I LOVE how our photos turned out! She was able to capture such precious memories of our family that I will treasure forever. (I’ll be sharing the photos here once I’ve gotten a chance to send out our birth announcements.)
Since Kali and Sully’s birth, Luke and I have both been making an effort to spend one-on-one time with Charleston when we can. Two weeks ago, Charleston and I went to Big Worm Pumpkin Patch with our MOPS friends. We attended a story time amongst the pumpkins, went on a hay ride, and Charleston painted a pumpkin and played in the corn kernel box. It was fun to get out, and I enjoyed talking with my fellow MOPS mamas while Charleston played with his pals.
The following day, we went to Sweet Berry Farm—an October tradition for our family since moving to Texas, and one I didn’t want to miss this year, even though I knew it would be difficult to do with the twins. The excursion was our first big outing as a family of five, and though the day wasn’t easy, I would say it was a success. We quickly discovered that going out in public with three-week-old twins garners a lot of attention, and although all of our interactions were positive ones, I felt like we had a spotlight on our family the entire time we were there. I have a feeling that this is just life for us now; people are really into twins!
Charleston got to do all of the Farm’s activities—a bounce house, sand art, picking flowers, the barrel train—and our whole family got to do the corn maze and the hay ride. Despite the heat (it was almost 100 that day) the twins slept in the stroller most of the time, except during feedings (when I learned that nursing twins in public is NOT easy because constant questions and comments from well-meaning strangers made it impossible to feed them inconspicuously). We lasted a good three+ hours, and by the end we were exhausted but satisfied, and slightly relieved to have this big milestone behind us!
We began our Halloween festivities on Halloween Eve, with the kids dressed in their coordinating Halloween pajamas for the day. That night we carved pumpkins, one of my favorite annual traditions. The last few years, Charleston has painted his pumpkins, but this year he wanted to help carve. He’s never been a fan of the seeds in the past, but this time he scooped out pumpkin guts like a pro! Then he drew faces on each pumpkin for Luke and me to carve out. I served as spectator for a lot of the carving since the twins were awake and needing to nurse, but it was still a fun family activity and I loved seeing Charleston’s excitement over the project and his pride at how the pumpkins all turned out.
Yesterday afternoon, Luke stayed home with the twins while I took Charleston to Trick-or-Treating at Cedar Park’s City Hall. Even though we no longer live in Cedar Park, we’ve held this tradition every year since we moved to Texas and I was glad we were able to continue with it, even if the whole family couldn’t go (it’s not a stroller-friendly event). Charleston had fun sitting in the various service vehicles, walking through the fun displays, and of course getting candy. He’s old enough now to appreciate other people’s costumes and enjoyed seeing some very creative ones!
Last night our little fire brigade braved 40-degree temperatures for trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. This was our first Halloween in this neighborhood and it was fun to get a feel for what this tradition will be like in our new home. I appreciated that everyone got started pretty early, around 5:30 (I’m guessing because of the cold, or possibly because it was a school night). There were lots of families out trick-or-treating, and many more sitting out on their driveways or porches passing out candy. It was so festive! The twins were angels in the stroller the entire time we were out, and Charleston had an absolute blast, deciding on our route and commenting on the houses’ decorations and other kids’ costumes. Halloween with him gets better and better every year.
A highlight of the evening was when we came to a group sitting around a bonfire in their driveway. When they saw Charleston’s costume, they teased that he should help them put out their fire—and thinking they were serious, he tried blowing on it to put it out. It was precious! When we got back to the house, Charleston eagerly sifted through his massive candy stash and had fun passing out candy to a few straggling trick-or-treaters. The festivities made for a very late night for all of us, but it was totally worth it: we made some great memories, and I am already excited about future Halloweens when the twins are old enough to join in the fun.
Phew, what a full month. I have a feeling the pace will only pick up as we enter this final stretch of the year. I’m looking forward to it!