Our October was bookended by a beach trip and Halloween festivities—talk about a range of experiences, all squeezed into a single (very fun but very busy) month. Despite two unpleasant rounds of colds and some frustrating car troubles, it was a successful month with lots of highlights to note and remember.
// READING LATELY //
I’m pushing through a major reading rut at the moment—not necessarily because of the books I’m choosing to read; the problem is that I haven’t been prioritizing reading time, and when I do find the time to read, my mind hasn’t been in a space to absorb (let alone enjoy) much of what I’m reading. This was a book I was excited to pick up, but despite a great premise I felt the story fell short. In contrast, I didn’t have high expectations for this book but was pleasantly surprised—it’s not exactly substantial literature, but it was the diversion I was needing to read. This historical novel was very powerful as well as eye-opening.
As for nonfiction, this book about contemporary church culture was a sad but spot-on read, and this book about at-home work offered some much-needed encouragement. That theme of staying home is carrying over to my Wholehearted-themed book this month. I found this truth-speaking book to be a huge breath of fresh air.
// LISTENING LATELY //
A few podcasts that inspired or informed me this month (with my usual caveat that I do not necessarily align with everything shared in each of these shows). This is a looong list, but too much good stuff not to share!
Like just about the rest of the planet, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Taylor Swift’s latest album in my earbuds these past couple of weeks. It’s not my favorite of hers, not by a long shot. Even before listening I was disappointed to note that most of the songs on the album are laden with profanities, and even though I’ve been listening to the non-Explicit version I don’t feel comfortable having the kids listen to this music so I have had to listen without them around (a huge bummer). On first listen I didn’t care for the album at all. I gave it a few more chances and a number of the songs have grown on me (I really like the music of Vigilante and the lyrics of Antihero, and I haven’t been able to get Question out of my head), though I really don’t care for the overproduced sound quality of most of the songs. But I do think that Taylor Swift is a creative genius and one of the most compelling artists of this generation, and the concept of the album is excellent, even if the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired.
// MONTHLY KID-ISMS //
+ I gave him a note in his lunchbox saying that chocolate is the best cure for a bad mood, along with a chocolate bar. When I picked him up he said, “It’s true, the chocolate improved my mood about 5%. But it improved my taste buds about 95%!”
+ “Every day, you learn something. Even if you don’t learn a fact, you learn what would happen in yesterday’s future.”
+ “I need to go back and relive my life and make different choices.” Me: “Wow, you seem pretty young to already have so many regrets.” Charleston: “I think kids have the most regrets, because when you’re young you don’t have all the wisdom to make good choices.”
+ Through tears: “It must be so hard to be an adult and not have anyone helping you know what to do.”
+ Me, discussing the subject of leadership: “So, do you think power makes you happy?” Charleston: “I don’t know. I’ll let you know once I’m in the White House.”
+ “It’s getting dark, the clouds are sleeping.” Me: “Oh yeah? Where are the clouds going to sleep?” Kali: “I think they’re going to sleep on the moon.”
+ Describing a light in a pop-up book: “Look at the beautiful light.” Me: “Oh wow, that’s really cool.” Sully: “Nope, it’s NOT cool, it’s beautiful.” Me: “Can it be beautiful AND cool?” Sully, after pausing to think: “No. It can’t, it’s just beautiful.”
// HAPPENINGS & HIGHLIGHTS //
We crossed yet another milestone with the twins this month: transitioning to front-facing carseats! At three years old, they’re on the older end for this transition but we like to keep our kids rear-facing as long as possible. They were beyond ready for a switch up, though, and they’re loving their new view (and Mom and Dad are loving that they are giving us less grief on car rides!). We made the switch while my van was still in the shop getting a new windshield and hood (thanks to this incident) and our three littles looked pretty cute lined up in a row.
The carseat switcheroo coincided with our road trip down to Surfside Beach for a family vacation with Luke’s parents, brother, and sister (+ family). I haven’t traveled much outside of the Austin area in our 6.5 years as Texans, and had been told not to expect much from the Texas beaches, but I was impressed! The experience was definitely different than my experiences with California beaches: the waves were much smaller and the shoreline much shallower, making the beach ideal for our young kids. I was intrigued by the cars driving along the sand and parked right next to the water, and impressed by the cleanliness, lack of crowds, modest beach attire, and extremely civil behavior from all of our fellow beachgoers. And I loved the warmer water and clay-like sand that was great for walking.
My in-laws rented an awesome beach house that was beautifully furnished and stocked with everything we could think to need for vacation: games, books, plush towels, comfy bedding, and more dish ware and kitchen appliances than we knew what to do with! Each family got our own room and our kids had fun hanging out on the bunks in ours. The house was situated right on the water and we spent most of our time chilling at the house and playing on the beach—splashing in the waves, building sandcastles, and people watching.
Other noteworthy moments of the trip included an amazing seafood dinner out, a family excursion along the jetty, and plenty of cute cousin moments. Early mornings and evenings were spent gazing across the horizon from our expansive deck, and late nights brought competitive card games while the kids slept. Of course, it’s not always easy to relax on a trip with children but we did our best! And other than passing colds around, we all had a great time.
Two weekends ago we made our annual pumpkin patch pilgrimage. This year we went to Sweet Eats—a huge “adventure farm” situated on a massive piece of land surrounded by gorgeous oaks and other foliage, in addition to the various crops grown on the farm. It was a full day: we took pictures in the pumpkin patch; explored the corn and fence mazes; pet animals in the petting zoo; saw a western gun show and animal show (where the kids got to pet a snake, fox, and monkey); rode ponies; launched apples; gathered candy that had been shot from a massive cannon; cheered piglets on in some pig races (my highlight of the day!); jumped on bouncers; climbed the huge tire playground; sampled goodies prepared at the farm; ate our weight in kettle corn; rode pedal carts; and took a wagon ride . . . and there were many more activities we didn’t get to! The weather was gorgeous (minus the wind that made for a very dusty day) and the kids did well with the long day (for the most part. . . let’s just say there were far fewer tantrums than I had anticipated). It was a quintessentially Texan festival that our whole family enjoyed.
It was so strange having Halloween on a Monday this year! We were hoping to get in a few Halloween festivals this past weekend; unfortunately, the twins were sick, so that didn’t happen. But we did get our pumpkins carved. We stuck with our Harry Potter theme for the pumpkins: the sorting hat, Hedwig, and Harry himself. Charleston picked out the designs, I drew them onto the pumpkins, Luke carved, and the twins supervised: we made a great team!
Despite having spent most of Halloween in bed, Kali and Sully rallied for trick-or-treating. The kids looked great in their Gryffindor getups and Luke and I sported our Ravenclaw gear: that’s right, we are a house divided. Trick-or-treating is always one of my favorite activities of the year: I love the community spirit, the opportunity to chat with neighbors, and seeing all the kids in their adorable costumes. There were quite a few families out this year, which made it fun. In our neighborhood, most people sit on the driveways passing out candy, and while I miss the days of going up to doors and knocking, it was festively social having everyone outside.
Since the twins weren’t feeling well we pulled them in the wagon, but they were up to getting out to ask for candy, and we spent more than an hour collecting candy until their bags were full. Then it was time to bring it all home, sort it, and dig in! Just kidding, we didn’t have a free-for-all. Each kid got to have two pieces on Halloween evening then choose five more pieces to eat in the coming week. The rest was donated to Charleston’s school, where a teacher has volunteered to bring the candy to kids in Venezuela on an upcoming trip. Win/win—someone else gets to enjoy the candy, and our kids don’t get more sugar than they need!
// THIS MONTH ON THE BLOG //
A look back at this month’s blog offerings.
Quick Lit // October 2022 Reviews of some romance, speculative fiction, endearing middle grade, and eye-opening nonfiction.
Adore: A Simple Practice for Experiencing God in the Middle Minutes of Your Day (Wholehearted Book Series, Book 10)
FAITH & REFLECTIONS:
It’s Complicated “It would be impossible to enter into every new relationship or human interaction with an entirely blank slate. We will always have at least some preconceptions about others; the key, though, is remaining open to being proven wrong. We need to make space for others to be more than one way, to say more than one thing, to do more than what we expect out of them.“
Judge Not (Sermon on the Mount, Part 10) “Jesus’ heart towards us—towards me—is just the opposite. Mercy replaces judgment; compassion overpowers harshness; grace supplants contempt. It is this same posture of kindness, gentleness, understanding, and forgiveness that He seeks from His disciples. If we are to lay claim to the title of Jesus Followers, we must be willing to follow in His footsteps—relinquishing the “right” to judge others and offering kindness instead.
28 Kinda Crummy Things “Black licorice, celery, raw apples, coconut shavings, and nuts. There is no hope of redemption for any of these foods.”
QUOTES OF THE MONTH:
“Ultimately we are what we adore.” ~ Tim Keller
“Our vulnerability, ultimately to potential abandonment (of which shame is the herald), is simultaneously both the source of all that is broken in our world as well as its redemption.” ~ Curt Thompson
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
How was your October? What’s ahead for you this November? We are looking forward to settling into the holiday season and a visit from my parents over Thanksgiving week!