Fall took its merry time, but decided to make an appearance here in Texas as September’s scorching temps gave way to drizzly, cooler weather for a few lovely weeks this month. But fall in Texas is unpredictable, and on Sunday a cold front came in, ushering in frigid rain and highs in the 40s. We’re supposed to warm up again this weekend, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Despite some very confused weather, October was a wonderful and VERY FULL month. Here’s a look at the high points.


I had a very successful reading month! Favorite book of the month (an easy five stars) was this compelling mystery/family drama mashup that gave me so much to think about, as did this complicated story of friendship and motherhood. Literary fiction is also working well for me, and I enjoyed the unique format of this and the style and tone of this (both featuring unlikeable but compelling protagonists). We read two family read-alouds this month and especially enjoyed this book that was a favorite from my own childhood.

In nonfiction this month, I read an inspiring faith memoir, a convicting discussion of church messaging in the present culture, and an excellent guide for reading as a spiritual practice. Full reviews will be coming your way next week.


The Mighty Movie — Sully is REALLY into Paw Patrol, more into it than any other “thing” that any of my kids has ever liked (Charleston’s Mario fixation is a close second), so it was a given that we would see the latest Paw Patrol movie when it came out in theaters. Well, almost a given: I read reviews ahead of time, holding my breath that there wouldn’t be any deal-breaking content, and thankfully we were in the clear. The kids loved the movie experience (it was only the twins’ second time in a theater) and we all really enjoyed the movie. The plot was a simple one: the pups acquire magical powers after a meteor strikes Adventure City, but when an evil villainess steals their powers for her own evil purposes, the pups must work together to courageously defeat their enemies and save the city.

The movie delivers the sweet pup antics and cutesy one-liners that we expect from the Paw Patrol, as well as some more elevated humor that will give adults a chuckle. There are also some positive themes of teamwork, courage, heroism, embracing our given strengths and accepting our differences, and honoring/esteeming others. Some of the scenes were a little frightening for the twins, and there is quite a bit of action and explosions (all bloodless), but I appreciated the general innocence and lack of any inappropriate content (or even the appearance of anything inappropriate). This may not receive high marks for originality, but it’s a movie kids and their parents can all get behind.

My Rating: 4 Stars.


A sampling of the podcasts that inspired and informed this month.

ReFocus with Jim Daley—All Things to All People: God’s Grace for the Weary

Natasha Crain Podcast— 33. How to Have Better Conversations with Nonbelievers, with Greg Koukl

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs—Episode 496: Micah E. Davis on Living a Life of Integrity

Unshaken Faith Podcast—#25 How to Pray During war

Foundation World View—Protecting Innocence while Preparing for the World

Carely Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast—605 | Professor John Wyatt on Future Breakthroughs in AI, Transhumanism, Who Will Lose Their Jobs to AI, AI Relationships & SexBots, and A Call for Theological and Philosophical Voices

The Alisa Childers Podcast—#222 Fat-Shaming vs. Body Positivity: A Christian Response, with Phoenix Hayes

Book Gang Podcast—Beautiful Lessons from a Book Club for Inmates



+ Explaining to the twins, who asked if adults were ever naughty: “When mommies and daddies were kids, they were naughty. But adults are more mature so they know different ways to not be naughty.”

+ Reading the story of Joseph to the twins in their Bible: “The WHOLE story of Joseph in one chapter? Man, I forgot how much stuff they leave out of children’s Bibles.”

+ Overheard telling the twins how God takes care of us/them/him: “God takes care of me when I’m having a hard time in math. He lets me be homeschooled so I don’t get embarrassed to ask my teacher a question when I don’t understand it.”


+ “You and daddy can’t marry each other because you guys are family!”

+ Pointing to a rash on his neck: “I don’t know why I have these bumps. God just didn’t make me very good.”

+ On seeing cows with tagged ears: “I didn’t know cows wear earrings!”

+ “I just noticed that these jammies don’t have any buttons on them. Was God just too busy making people so He forgot the buttons?”

+ “So you were in Oma and Opa’s family when you were little, and Daddy was in Grandma and Grandpa’s family. Whose family was I in when I was little? And when you and Daddy were little, you went and you met each other and said, ‘hey, nice to meet ya,’ and then you went and got married?”


+ Responding to a character in a book being shot by a gun. “Oh yeah, shots aren’t fun, I got shots at the doctor.”

+ Reading about the United States. “That’s our city, right?!” Me: “The United States is the country we live in.” Kali: “Yes, our country, like our country music we like.”

+ Sully said that Great Grandma was really good at making smoothies, and Kali responded “and Great Grandpa is really good at making candy!” (Grandma always makes smoothies for the kids when we visit, and Grandpa always gives the kids candy.)

+ Me: “Do you remember what happened to Joseph in the Bible?” Kali: “Yes, his brothers threw him in a big pile of bad guys.” Me: “His brothers threw him in a big pit.” Kali: “Oh yes, a big pit, like this.” (Points to her arm pit.)


Our month started with our annual trip to the beach with Luke’s parents and siblings (plus spouses and kids). We alternate years of staying together in a beach house and staying in trailers, and this was a trailer year. Since our family does not own a trailer, Luke’s sister and husband graciously allowed us to borrow their old trailer (they recently upgraded), and having bought a truck just last month, we now have towing capabilities, making this camping trip a reality for us. I was nervous about the five of us sharing such a small space for a week, but it was great!

Our borrowed trailer was spacious and comfortable, and it was nice for the three separate families to have our own spaces (especially when the cousins needed some time apart). It also worked out well having access to three fridges and kitchens. Breakfast each morning was a collective project headed up by my in-laws; we were on our own for lunches, and each family was in charge of one night’s dinner (rounding out the five nights we were there with pizza night and dinner at a seafood restaurant).

Our campsite in Port Aransas was just over a sand dune from the beach, and we had plenty of beach time. Last year I experienced the beauty that is a Texas Beach in October, and I think it was even nicer this year: the weather was perfect, and we mostly had the whole beach to ourselves. The kids spent long days digging in the sand and splashing in the waves, and the water was warm enough that even my cold-averse self spent plenty of time swimming (between periods of reading and strolling along the sand). I still can’t get over the shallow waves and firm sand of Texas beaches that are perfect for young kids!

The kids brought their bikes along and got plenty of riding time in between beach visits and meals in my in-laws’ trailer. We had scattered thunderstorms throughout the week, but these mostly came at night and didn’t hinder our outdoor time. On our final day there, we escaped the rain with a trip to Corpus Christi to visit the Texas State Aquarium. I was so impressed! The aquarium has several lovely displays, shows, and opportunities to learn about and interact with the animals. Favorite events included a dolphin show and the adorable sea otters. Kali especially loved visiting the flamingoes (her favorite!), and the kids all had fun picking out souvenirs from the gift shop at the end of the day.

One week after getting home from the beach, Luke and Charleston got to go on another adventure with a Trail Life sleepover at the Waco Zoo! They arrived on a Friday night and got an after-hours tour of the zoo, then slept inside the aquarium, followed by all day Saturday touring the zoo. I have not been to this zoo myself, but they had great things to say! They loved the animals and created some fun memories with their troop.

Last weekend Charleston had another Trail Life activity, and this was one our whole family got to attend: the Trail Racers derby car race! Luke and Charleston worked hard on his car (O.W.C.A. 500), which Charleston designed and painted himself with only a little help from Luke. The car looked great, and the event itself was lots of fun and very festive with plenty of family members in attendance. More than a hundred boys and dads had entered their cars, which each raced six times in the 106 separate heats. The six race times were then averaged to determine winners, and Charleston came in second place for his age group, averaging 3.2 seconds (220 mph) per race. He was so excited and I was so proud of him!

On Saturday evening we attended a local fall festival that was also an enjoyable family time. It was our first opportunity to wear our family costumes and it was fun to spot a few other Mario-themed families at the festival. We trick-or-treated and beanbag- and ball-tossed and bought a few items from the various vendors. A highlight was watching Charleston and then Kali engage in a swordfight-type battle with a self defense instructor, they did great!

We had planned to go to a pumpkin patch this past Monday, but with rain and temps in the 30s it just wasn’t in the cards. We still managed to have some pumpkin fun carving and painting the pumpkins we had bought at H-E-B (plus one we grew ourselves, a first!) The kids were not super interested in scooping seeds out of the pumpkins, but they had a lot of fun designing faces for Luke and me to carve, and they enjoyed painting their own mini pumpkins. This is a tradition we look forward to every year, and each year it gets more fun.

I’m not really a “candy person,” and I certainly don’t love my kids being sugared up, yet I LOVE trick-or-treating and have since I was young. At no other time of year do we see such strong community spirit and generosity. Our neighborhood really goes all out for Halloween, with neighbors congregating on their driveways, passing out candy and socializing with families who are strolling the streets in matching costumes. Our kids all had a blast trick-or-treating this year and are finally all old enough to walk the whole time and carry their own candy without complaint, making it much for fun for Luke and me, too. The tone and spirit of the decorations and costumes seemed darker and scarier this year, which we didn’t love; there were quite a few houses our kids asked to skip because they were just too scary, and I reassured them that it was just fine—good, even—to avoid things that do not reflect what is good and beautiful and of God. Halloween, as with so many holidays, is about embracing the good and rejecting the bad, and there was plenty of good to be had this Halloween.



Quick Lit || October 2023

Bookish Considerations: In Praise of the Kindle


Never Have I Ever Done These 28 Things


Ascribe to the Lord (October Verse—Psalm 96:5-8) “As we turn our gaze to God and give Him praise, we become like the one we are worshipping. In His presence we reflect His holiness and become a blessing to everyone around us, a beacon of Christlike lightness in a darkened world.”

Faithful 10.23—Stories of His Faithfulness “Like Rahab, who is known now for her faith and not her prostitution, we are not defined by our titles or our history, our achievements or our failures. God in Heaven is the one who defines us and gives us worth. We, like Rahab, are created in His image to carry His image and His message into the world, professing our faith and proclaiming his goodness, power, and and mercy.”


“Inner stillness is the key to outer strength.” ~ Jared Brock

How was your October? Highs? Lows? Tell me all about it!

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