This year was indeed one for the books. Last January, I never could have dreamed all that the next twelve months would hold, and my mind and emotions are still trying to keep up with all that has happened.
I’ve already spent time reflectIng on some of what I learned this year and today, on the last day of the decade, I’m looking back on the year’s highlights. From memorable events to personal favorites to the best of the blog, it’s all here. Join me in celebrating the momentous year that was 2019!
PERSONAL AND FAMILY HIGHLIGHTS
In January we celebrated Charleston’s fourth birthday with a fun party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. He had a blast being the center of attention, and has spent the past eleven months making plans for his next birthday.
At the start of February, I was welcomed as a contributing writer for Austin Moms Blog, something I’d dreamed about doing for a long time. I won’t be returning to Austin Moms next year due to limited time and capacity for writing, but I was so thankful for the opportunity to write for another platform this year.
In February, after years of trying for another baby, we discovered we were pregnant with triplets—which eventually ended up being just twins. I am STILL in awe of God’s kindness towards our family in answering yes to this long-held prayer. We were overjoyed to share our news with the world in April.
And in May we learned that those twins were a BOY and a GIRL! Yet another beautiful answer to prayer.
My mom and brother came to visit us in March. During their time in Texas, we went berry picking at Sweet Berry Farm, toured the capitol building downtown, went to eat at some of our favorite local spots, and rode the train in Zilker park. This was Austin’s first time in Texas, so it was fun to introduce him to our home.
In May we purchased our first home and made the move from Cedar Park to the neighboring town of Liberty Hill. The move coincided with Luke leaving his coworking space to work full-time from home, which has been a wonderful transition for our family.
We spent the summer making our house a home and getting ready for the twins’ arrival. We used all of Charleston’s nursery items to make a new-and-improved nursery for the babies, and we upgraded Charleston to a big-boy room with a fun outer space theme. We filled the walls of our dining room, play room, and master bedroom with lovely canvases purchased from Amazon, and we created a playroom complete with plenty of storage and play areas for all three kids.
We flew out to California in July to visit my parents. We hung out at the beach and got to celebrate Fourth of July with a parade and two fireworks shows which—thanks to a new pair of headphones—Charleston actually enjoyed. It was a quick trip, but a memorable one, and the last we took as a family of three!
My friend Cara came out from California to visit us in August. We went to the zoo, the splash pad, the movies, and did everything we could to stay cool while she was here! I love our friendship and all the memories we’ve formed over two decades of knowing each other.
The highlight of our year—and one of the biggest highlights of my life—took place in the wee hours of the morning on September 27 when Kalinda and Sullivan joined our family and made me the happiest mama in the world. It wasn’t the birth I had hoped for, but the outcome has been far better than I could have fathomed.
Two weeks after the twins were born, my Mom came to help out for a week, and my dad was able to make a quick weekend visit to meet the twins. I’m so thankful they were able to spend time with our newly formed family of five and see the twins when they were still tiny and new.
Participating in a Women’s Bible study at Hill Country Bible Church in the spring.
Attending the re-Engage marriage class at Hill Country with Luke—one of the best things we have ever done for our marriage.
MOPS playdates, girls nights, and monthly meetings. Charleston and I both formed some great relationships through MOPS this year, and I love that we now live in the same town as most of our MOPS friends.
Getting involved with a new community group through our church this fall.
Saturdays spent writing while Luke and Charleston visit Luke’s parents.
Reading through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation alongside Luke, in conjunction with The Bible Recap podcast and reading plan.
Seeing Arlo flourish in our new house, where he has a bigger yard as well as access to all of our living spaces (and not just the kitchen, where he “lived” in our rental house).
Witnessing Luke’s personal and spiritual growth through his participation in a couple of men’s groups this year.
Mornings at the Cedar Park Rec center, working out on my own (and now walking the track with the twins) while Charleston hangs out with the babysitters.
Enduring a grueling nine months of pregnancy, which we documented with weekly belly shots.
Summer afternoons at the pool with Charleston.
Mother/son lunches with Charleston spent looking at books, and nightly family dinners made complete with games of I Spy.
Marathon nursing sessions with the twins.
Sweet playtimes with Charleston and the twins.
Nightly storytime with all three of my kids.
CHARLESTON’S MILESTONES AND MOMENTOUS EVENTS
Weaning from breastfeeding on the eve of his fourth birthday. (Yes, you read that right. And because I got pregnant the following week, I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding since May of 2014!)
Learning to put on his own shoes and button his own pants and shirts in February.
Upgrading to a twin bed and a whole new space-themed big boy room with our move in June.
Moving out of our bed at night and beginning to sleep in his own bed BY HIMSELF in June. (He still needs someone to lie with him to fall asleep, and he frequently wakes up throughout the night and needs help getting back down.)
Theater classes in which he learned and performed dances to two songs from Moana. He was the youngest in the group, but did a great job!
Participating in gymnastics at the Cedar Park YMCA, during which he mastered pullovers, backward somersaults, and walking across the beam.
Taking swim lessons this summer and beginning to do SOME swimming on his own (though he is still fairly dependent on his floaties).
Attending soccer camp this summer. He loved it!
Participating in Camp 75 (our church’s backyard VBS) in July. Water Day was definitely the highlight.
His first night away from home (he stayed with Grandma and Grandpa) in August, followed by his first four nights away from home when the babies were born.
Becoming a big brother!
Getting his first cavity filled this December (not a fun memory, but a milestone nonetheless).
FAVORITE CHARLIE-ISMS OF THE YEAR
January: “Mom, when are you going to turn twenty? When you turn that number you are going to be too big for our house. Maybe why you go to Heaven is because you are too big for a single house.”
February: “When I’m the number after 5 I’m gonna be in school, and when I’m the number after school I’m gonna be a doctor. And when I’m the number after being a doctor, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Maybe I’ll be a mommy and daddy then?”
When I told Charleston we were giving Luke a gift certificate for a massage for his birthday, he asked: “What’s a massage?” Me: “It’s a fancy back rub.” Charleston: “So we’re going to give Daddy a hand for his birthday?”
On Charleston’s due date (February 5), I told him how that day was supposed to be his birthday, but he was born early. His response: “Why I comed out of your tummy so early was that I was wondering what you and Daddy would look like.”
March: Watching Luke weigh himself one morning: “Whoa, that’s a lot of points. You weigh too much! It’s time to get you to Heaven!”
Charleston: “Who came out of your tummy first? Me or Daddy?” Me: “You, because Daddy actually came out of Grandma’s tummy.” Charleston: “Oh! I can’t wait for the next baby Grandma’s gonna have!”
April: “I’m going to be a doctor after I’m five. Wait a second. I’ll still be a kid then. If only they had a kid’s doctor’s office that kids could work in.”
May: “Won’t it be great to give the picker-uppers [trick-or-treaters] who come to our house on Halloween a craft with their candy? Then they can see what a great artist I am!”
June: On a day when I wasn’t feeling well: “I’m sorry the babies are hurting your tummy. Being pregnant is a lot of hard work!”
“Mom, you’re the one with babies in your belly. So I think you should set up the nursery. . . but, I’ll help you.”
July: To a friend he met at the Burger King playground whom he was trying to convince to go down the slide: “It’s okay to be scared. But what you have to do is just remember how fun it is to be scared now!”
August: After I had asked him if he wanted to use his birthday money to buy a toy he was asking about: “I would rather save it for if there’s a fire and my toys got burned. Then my toys would all be destroyed and I would have nothing to play with and that would be a bummer. So I’ll save my money for that kind of emergency.”
September: “Mom, I need to do a time travel back inside your belly because I don’t remember what it’s like in there.”
October: 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 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 had ever prayed aloud with us.)
“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!”
November: About his brother and sister: “I love them more than anyone but God.”
When I saw him picking his nose and asked if he needed a tissue: “There was, you know, just some boogers in there.” Me: “I know, but maybe you should use a tissue to get it out.” Charleston: “I just like putting my finger in my nose and getting it out. And then I put it on my clothes and stuff.” Me: “Buddy, that’s gross! Let’s not do that anymore.” Charleston: “Kids never stop doing what they want to do. You have to stop treating kids like adults!”
December: Me: “who is your very favorite person?” Charleston: “It’s the bestest, strongest, powerfullest, hopingest, lovingest person ever! You know who that is? JESUS!”
KALI AND SULLY’S MILESTONES AND MOMENTOUS EVENTS
Surviving 36 weeks in utero before making a dramatic debut!
Rolling from tummy to back around 6 weeks.
Regularly smiling and cooing at two months.
Consistently sleeping through the night at eleven weeks.
First Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!
ABIDE IN 2019
In January, I chose Abide as my One Word for 2019. I wanted my relationship with Christ to be the focus of my year and I planned to do this by Actively spend time memorizing and studying God’s word; Believing God is who He says He is; Investing in Kingdom work; Delighting in Christ; and Expecting to see the Fruits of the Spirit show up in my life.
While the year brought many distractions, I was able to maintain this focus. This year I spent more time praying and studying God’s Word than ever before, and as a result I have experienced many moments of deep spiritual richness—moments totally untethered from my circumstances. I love that God was able to use this simple word this year to draw me closer to Him, and I will be continuing to maintain this posture of wholehearted abiding in Christ even as I leave behind my word for a new one in 2020.
A FEW NEW FAVORITES
Superlatives are challenging for indecisive me, especially in a year marked by so much change for our family. In the grand scheme of things, these tiny favorites seem so insignificant. Yet I know that in years to come, I’ll enjoy looking back on the fun little discoveries I made this year. I’m sure there are favorites I’ve forgotten, but these are some of the standouts.
I shared my twenty favorite books of the year in this post. If I was forced to narrow my favorites down a little more, these are the books I would pick:
Favorite Nonfiction: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed—I will never think of my therapy sessions in the same way again.
Most Frequently Recommended: The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions—A must read for those facing a decision, big or small.
Favorite Audiobook: Daisy Jones and the Six—Creative storytelling, made even more enjoyable thanks to amazing audio production.
Although we watched very few movies this year, I have a feeling that Toy Story 4 would have been a favorite even if we’d seen dozens more. It is a beautiful conclusion to one of the most iconic animated stories of our generation.
Last Minute Addition: We saw Frozen II just this afternoon and I had to add it to this list. I absolutely adored this movie! The music is fantastic, the story even better—I liked it more than the original, which was already one of my favorite Disney movies.
Favorite Podcast Discoveries
I’ve lost count of how many new podcasts I added to my regular lineup this year. Many were pregnancy, homeschooling, baby, or twin-related, others are new shows, and quite a few are podcasts that have been around for a while and that I just discovered this year. Here are my favorites:
The Bible Recap—This daily show has played a pivotal role in my spiritual growth this year, and deeply enhanced my journey through the whole Bible. I’ll definitely be tuning in again next year for my second trip through Scripture. (I even became a Patreon member—something I’ve never done before—to gain access to more Bible-related resources through the show.)
Armchair Expert—I never understood the hype around this show; now that I’m a regular listener, I’m proud to call myself a Cherry. Fascinating guests, and Dax and Monica are awesome interviewers and hosts.
Currently Reading—I am kind of obsessed with this book podcast! Meredith and Kaytee have great taste in books, and I appreciate their honest reviews of both past and current books. They definitely blew up my TBR this year.
10 Things to Tell You—I’ve so appreciated the reflective topics Laura Tremaine presents in this show, as well as her honesty as she explores the questions herself.
The Office Ladies—Not only do I love returning to one of my favorite tv series through this show, but Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey are such a fun and funny duo, I would listen to them talk about just about anything!
As for favorites from the shows I’ve been listening to for a while, That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs, Vox with Mike Erre, Young House Love Has a Podcast, and The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey top the list.
The need for music in my life has come and gone throughout the years. 2019 was a heavy music year for me: I had it playing constantly, and found meaning and comfort in the lyrics and the sound of the songs I was listening to. These are a few of my most memorable albums of the year:
Artists I discovered this year that I simply can’t get enough of are Russell Dickerson (this song melts me), Kane Brown (especially this), Dan + Shay (love this music video), and Johnnyswim (I am OBSESSED with this duo!). It was clearly a year of country and folk music for me!
Favorite Clothing Acquisitions
Fashion was definitely low on my list of priorities this year, with my only real clothing purchases coming from Target’s maternity section. I did receive a few lovely accessories as gifts, though:
Kendra Scott Aiden Silver Pendant Necklace—Such a classic piece that goes with anything. Perfect for layering with a shorter strand (or three!).
Treasure Pendant Necklace Set—I love that these can be worn individually, as a set, or as part of a stack with a longer pendant. I hadn’t realized how often I wore these until Charleston asked why he never saw me wearing any necklaces besides this set!
Koolaburra Kellen Suede Sneakers—Stylish and comfortable, and they go with everything!
UGG Lorna Booties—My in-laws got these for me for Christmas and I love them. They are so comfortable, and are waterproof which is something I have been wanting in a pair of everyday boots.
Orolay Down Jacket—This was my “wear” gift from Luke this Christmas and even though it hadn’t been cold enough to wear it yet, I have been tempted to wear it around the house because it’s just so cozy.
Favorite Food Finds
My journey with food was a strange one this year, as pregnancy brought a whole slew of food aversions and new taste preferences. These are a few of the items I’m glad to have discovered this year:
Enlightened Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream—I fell in love with all of the Enlightened pints and bars (especially this flavor) this year, but this seasonal find was a clear favorite. And yes, I eat the whole pint in one sitting!
Canada Dry Ginger Ale Lemonade—My mom introduced me to this unique beverage when we visited in July, and it got me through the tale end of my pregnancy. I preferred it cold when I was pregnant, but non-pregnant me likes it at room temperature (which is how I usually drink soda).
Tres Latin Foods Papusas—Hearty, gluten free, unique flavor profile, and excellent topped with a runny egg and some hot sauce!
Favorite Personal Items
These three (disparate) items are difficult to categorize, but all three enhanced my quality of life this year.
She Reads Truth Bible —This lovely Bible served as a trusty companion during my read through Scripture this year. I especially enjoyed the supplemental passages and the detailed book introductions. I’m glad I bought this cover and these highlighters to go with it.
Woven Backpack Purse—”Find the perfect backpack purse” was literally on my list of 19 Goals for 2019, and this Amazon purchase (which I discovered thanks to a babysitter at our gym) was just the bag to help me complete my goal. It’s the perfect size and the various zippered pockets keep everything nice and organized.
Q&A a Day for Moms—It was so fun to answer the daily question about my life as a mom. I’m really looking forward to continuing with this journal for four more years and seeing how my answers and our lives change with each passing year.
Favorite Preschooler Toys
Since moving to our new house—which has an awesome playroom—Charleston’s favorite activity is setting up elaborate “cities” with his train tracks, Legos, and various other small toys. He also really enjoys coloring, putting together puzzles, and doing mazes. As for specific items he acquired this year, these are among the favorites:
Marble Run—Charleston never tires of building new tracks and challenging us to marble races.
PicassoTiles—It’s a toss up as to who loves playing with these the most: Charleston, me, or Luke!
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds—This was our favorite book of the year. We checked it out from the library so many times, we eventually added it—along with the sequels—to our personal bookshelf! (Other book favorites of the year were the Elephant and Piggie books, the Franklin books, the Berenstain Bears, this book about Neil Armstrong, this Choose Your Own Adventure book, and any sort of Look and Find book.)
Charleston received a number of fun new toys for Christmas and has been really loving his Buzz Lightyear toy, Hot Wheels Go Kart, and kid camera. It remains to be seen whether these toys will stand the test of time; if so they’ll be making next year’s favorites!
Favorite Baby Items
I shared all of our favorite newborn items in this post, and while each of those has vastly improved our life with the twins, the three items I simply couldn’t live without are:
Twin Z-Pillow—This has been a LIFESAVER! We use this for tandem nursing and as a hangout for the twins during the day, and they both sleep in it (Swaddled) at night. I’ll go on record as saying that this is the best baby-related hundred dollars I’ve ever spent.
Baby K’Tan—If I’m not nursing both twins, I am almost certainly wearing a baby in this cozy wrap.
Graco Gliding Swing and Bassinet—We loved this with Charleston and I’m so glad we purchased a second one to use with the twins. The bassinet, seat, and swing all continue to be in heavy rotation.
Favorite New Apps
Baby Tracker App—Love that this allows me to record EVERYTHING (diaper changes, milestones, sleeping, feedings, and more) for BOTH babies, and Luke and I make heavy use of the syncing among our two phones.
Overcast—I switched to this app for all of my podcast listening needs and have been so happy with the interface and functionality.
My favorite gifts of the year have been sentimental ones related to my kids!
Calendar—For my birthday this year, Luke made me a custom photo calendar with pictures of Charleston over the years (each picture taken on the date shown). It’s been the gift that keeps on giving as I flip the page each day and see a new picture of my Big Boy—I just love seeing how he’s grown, and now that the twins are here, it’s fun to imagine what THEY will be like at those ages.
Mom Necklace—My Mother’s Day gift was a beautiful James Avery Mom necklace with Charleston’s birth stone. I just need to add two September birthstones to make it complete!
Elephant Bracelet—The day I found out I was pregnant with triplets, I called my friend Cara in a panic. A couple of days later, I received the sweetest gift in the mail: a bracelet with a mama elephant and her three babies. We weren’t sure at the time whether we were having triplets or twins, so Cara said the elephant babies could either represent my triplets or, if they ended up being twins, the elephants could symbolize the twins and Charleston. It was an incredibly touching gift and so thoughtful on a number of levels.
Initial Necklace—For Christmas, my in-laws bought me a necklace with my three kids’ initials. I can’t begin to express how meaningful this gift is to me!
I was thrilled with how our birth announcements turned out. I ordered them from Shutterfly (my go-to source for all photo items and cards) and was a little concerned by the limited number of options for twin birth announcements, but I needn’t have worried as the ones we chose turned out beautifully. (The collage below shows the front and back of the announcements on top, with the inside image shown on the bottom.)
BEST OF THE BLOG(S)
I celebrated my sixth blogging anniversary in August. While blogging has largely taken a back seat to life events of late, the year was not a total wash. My audience grew extensively in 2019 (my number of page views more than tripled this year), and I managed to produce quite a bit of content that I’m proud of—both on my site and for Austin Moms.
This year’s most popular post (with nearly 20,000 page views since January) was actually a post I wrote last year about Winnie-the-Pooh and the Enneagram. Another old post—fun back-to-school facts—was this year’s second most visited post. As for more recent content, my book reviews have consistently been the most popular posts on my site.
Pregnancy and Baby-Related
Life Is About to Get A Lot Busier “If you are still waiting for your own miracle, my heart breaks for you and with you. I understand the pain you are in; for years, I agonized over every pregnancy announcement I encountered—those from friends, from family, and even from strangers. I struggled with wanting to celebrate over such joyful news, while privately harboring resentment that my story did not have the same happy ending. If this is you, I have no answers or promises that everything will work out. What I CAN tell you is that God sees you, He loves you, and He understands your tears and heartache. He is our ultimate source of hope, and regardless of outcome, He never wastes a pain—HE is where the joy is!”
First Trimester Recap and Answers to Some FAQ’s “Those three words, there are three, were the last ones I ever thought I would hear. It’s not an exaggeration to say it was the most shocking news I have EVER received in my life.”
Pink or Blue? Jernejcic Twins Gender Reveal “I don’t have the words to express the incredible joy I experienced in that moment. In fact, other than the first time I got to hold Charleston after his birth, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such a jolt of unadulterated happiness and peace. A BOY AND A GIRL!”
Things I Love (and will one day miss) About Being Pregnant “Watching Charleston talk to his brother and sister, singing to them and giving them hugs and kisses through my tummy. He’s wanted a brother and sister for as long as he can remember and I love that his dream is finally coming true. I realize this might be the only time he gets along so well with his siblings, so I’m enjoying it while I can!”
How This Pregnancy Has Been Different From My First “I’ll admit it’s been funny to have people ask when I’m due and observe their shocked faces when I tell them how much longer I have, since I’ve looked like I am about to pop for several weeks now.”
Sullivan Luke and Kalinda Joy: Birth Story and Reflections On the First Ten Days “God’s handiwork can be seen in so much of that early morning—the fact that we made it to the hospital without a minute to spare, that traffic was light and that our doula was there to get us up to Labor and Delivery quickly, that my body waited to begin pushing until we were in the hospital and not while we were in the car. And while I am devastated that I wasn’t ‘there’ when the babies made their debut, one of our hospital staff pointed out that I was there. . . even though I wasn’t awake for it, the babies knew their mama was with them, and one day I will be able to tell them that I sacrificed my selfish desire to witness their birth so that they would have the best possible chance at life.
What I Learned in the First Six Weeks With Twins “It’s been amazing how God has allowed my heart to expand as I learn to love these babies of mine. My fear that I wouldn’t be able to love two new children as much as I loved Charleston has proven totally unfounded; my love for each child is different, but equally immense! Not only do they each have my love, they have their love for each other—all of our hearts have expanded!”
Double the Babies, Double the Names, Double the Fun! “Naming the twins was quite a process, and I am so happy with where we landed on their names. I think they are lovely names individually, and together—along with Charleston Michael—their full names make my heart sing.”
To Charleston Michael on His Fourth Birthday “At four years old, you still shower me with hugs and kisses, take every opportunity to snuggle or sit in my lap, love being held and carried around, and whisper ‘I just love you’ into my ear about a dozen times per day. I love seeing your smile, and it makes its appearance often—you are fun-loving, easily excited, and always eager to find (and enjoy) the best the world has to offer.”
Charleston Michael // Half Way to Five “Charleston at four-and-a-half loves playing on playgrounds, participating in any and every sport or physical activity, building Legos and blocks and train tracks, reading books, chasing Arlo around the house, playing board games, and doing crafts. He is opinionated, feisty, and stubborn, though also thoughtful and quite tender.”
Sullivan Luke and Kalinda Joy // One Month Old “Before you were born, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what it would be like to care for two babies at once. Now, after a month with you two, there is no way to describe it besides BEAUTIFUL CHAOS.”
Sullivan Luke and Kalinda Joy // Two Months Old “While I love you both more than words can convey, this month has not been an easy one. We have definitely moved beyond the sleepy newborn stage and into a want-to-nurse-or-be-held-all-the-time stage.”
Sullivan Luke and Kalinda Joy // Three Months Old “As sad as I am to think of how quickly time is flying, I have been working hard at savoring every precious minute of your infancy. I will miss these newborn days, but am thankful for all of the beautiful memories we have created together, and that I have been emotionally and mentally present for all of them.”
Thoughts On Parenting
How to Raise a Skeptic Without Raising a Cynic “As my son grows more aware of the world’s unsavoriness, I hope to help him find a healthy balance between uninformed gullibility and closed-hearted suspicion. One is a gaping entryway, left open for everyone—including those with impure motives; the other is a door slammed shut in the face of predators and well-wishers alike. Our third option is somewhere in between: by raising my son to be moderately skeptical, I’m teaching him to be cautiously receptive to the messages he receives, making informed decisions about what to absorb and what to leave behind. It’s a closed-but-not-locked posture that I believe nearly every mother wants for her children.”
Why I Still Do My Own Grocery Shopping “Our shopping experience has been full of learning opportunities and parent/child bonding. Most importantly, going to the grocery store has given us both some healthy human interaction as we’ve participated in a communal activity among strangers—a rarity in these days of online shopping and screen-based community.”
The Problem of Overparenting “We overparent because we are afraid of how our kids’ failures, or perceived failures, may reflect on us. Our parenting decisions are driven by fear rather than love, and when fear takes the wheel, everybody loses.”
Why Mom Needs a Hobby “I recognize that when I create space to pour into something I care deeply about, my whole family benefits. In the same way that many working moms find that their time at the office makes them better parents when they are home, I know that I come away from a writing session feeling refreshed, fulfilled, and better able to conquer the more difficult aspects of mom life.”
The Bittersweetness of Milestones “Our twinges of sadness and possibly regret do not detract from the joy of the moment. We are thankful for new beginnings AND sad about their accompanying endings. We can be both, and in fact our mixed emotions add richness and meaning to the milestone that has been achieved.”
In A Rut? Break The Script Through The Power Of Defining Moments! “It isn’t easy to snap out of our ruts. To do this, we must first understand the scripts we are following: why have we chosen to adhere to them? Are they truly serving us, or are they holding us back? What does life require of us, what do we require of life, and how do our daily scripts fit into this big picture?”
In Praise of Stepping Away From Extra Activities “Between work, school, church, volunteering, sports, and music lessons, the pace of life quickly accelerates to hyper-speed. It’s a rapid spiral into overwhelm and burnout, and nobody feels the pressure more than our kids.”
Surviving Parenthood as an Introverted Mom “Take comfort in the knowledge that being an introvert doesn’t make you any less of a mom: your personality is not an accident, and you have every quality you need to uniquely parent your children.”
How I’m Using Evernote to Be More Intentional in 2019 “Intentional living requires a stated purpose, a clearly defined set of values, a game plan, and a willingness to pay attention to our own habits and choices. I believe that intentionality can be cultivated and will eventually become instinctive, but it does require some planning—especially at the beginning. Intentionality requires awareness, and I’ve found no better way of raising awareness than tracking.”
How I Read 200 Books In A Year (And How YOU Can Read More Books Too!) “I read a few books per week, but other than the picture books I read with my son, it’s been months since I read a traditional hard cover book or paperback. Instead, I rely on audiobooks and e-books to meet my bookish needs.” (And here is Part Two)
Productivity Hacks for Busy Moms “But let’s face it: those dishes do eventually need to get washed. There are also lunches to pack, paychecks to earn, and laundry that simply won’t fold itself. Productivity might not be the most important measure of a life well lived, but it is important if we want to avoid falling off the treadmill of life.”
Learning to Be Patient in a “Now” Culture “Same-day shipping, instantaneous internet access, video streaming, and drive-thru restaurants are just a few examples of how our ‘now’ culture caters to our impatience. We easily adjust to this heightened pace of life, and refuse to accept anything less. Sadly, this impatience with services and systems bleeds into our interactions with other people, and even with ourselves. We become short-tempered, easily agitated, and downright rude as we prioritize our desire for immediate gratification over the consideration of others.”
Books to Fill Your Summer Reading Life “You’ll likely recognize many of these titles from previous appearances on the blog, because the books in this guide are some of my very favorites. If you’re an avid reader, you’re likely to spot some of your own favorites here, but I hope that you can find something new to read this summer as well.”
Mom’s Guide to Effortless Journaling “Through years of writing, I learned for myself the science-backed benefits of journaling. Journaling helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings. It reduced stress, eased anxiety and depression, and helped me make sense of myself and my place in the world. My journals provided me with a safe space to document my treasured memories and a private spot to process through the most difficult emotions.”
Holiday Gift Inspiration: Tried and True Edition “I’m sharing a roundup of the Tried and True posts I’ve been rolling out since January. This gift guide is different than most in that instead of linking to a bunch of items that look good, I’m sharing only items that our family owns and loves. Every item in these lists is something we can vouch for and that I’m sure is something you, or someone on your shopping list, will love.”
When Change Is the Worst “I don’t have a problem with change. I have a problem with control. And when I feel out of control, I direct my anger and frustration at the changes that have stripped me of my agency.”
February Verse of the Month: Psalm 147:11 “I think it goes without saying that this is not a trial I would have chosen for myself or my family. It is frustrating and confusing, painful and expensive, and it paves the way for all manner of doubts, fears, and insecurities to creep into my psyche and make themselves at home. Month after month, my hopes are built up, only to have them come crashing down around me with the first crimson signs that my body has once again failed to make space for a new life.”
How Learning About the Enneagram Has Helped Me Heal “But like all earthly masters, perfectionism demanded a hefty price: it robbed me of my free time and my relationships, led me to the brink of suicide when I failed to meet its stringent demands, kept me from accepting jobs that I couldn’t execute perfectly, ensnared me in an eating disorder that lingers to this day, and squandered my peace and joy.”
Secondary Infertility: My Story “Secondary infertility is clinging to my son, loving him with all I have in me and praying that he will never worry that he wasn’t enough for me. Hoping that he will one day understand that my desire for more children had NOTHING to do with something he was lacking, and EVERYTHING to do with a desire to simply have more of all that is good and sweet and wonderful about him as my son.”
This Is Love “Ours is a society that prioritizes self-care over sacrifice, comfort over compassion . . . and we wonder why we feel disconnected and alone. We settle for a cheapened version of love and poof!, that loving feeling is suddenly gone. But Love cannot be entirely squelched. It is still there, if we know what we are looking for.”
Good Friday “In the aftermath of my trials, my Easter mornings if you will, I can see God’s divine hand within my painful circumstances. Often, I observe more than just the good that resulted from my pain, but the beauty and blessings within the pain itself. Though my Fridays seemed tragic in the moment, hindsight brings the gift of understanding that they were also good.”
For Fearless Mothers Everywhere “This Mother’s Day I find myself on the other side of heartache, content in my identity as both mother and daughter. I feel fulfilled in my role as Charleston’s mom, and excited about the two new lives that are growing within me. I am thankful for the amazing mother who raised me and continues to love me, for Luke’s mom who raised a fantastic son and has welcomed me as a daughter, and for the grandmothers and other female role models who have touched my life in unimaginable ways.”
Earthly Dads, Our Heavenly Father, and Reflections on Father’s Day “Sadly, many Christians struggle to identify with God as Father because of fractured relationships with their earthly dads. Abandoned, abused, or hopelessly let down by the father figures in their lives, they cannot reconcile the term “Father” with someone who is loving, present, and dependable. They distance themselves from the notion of God as their Heavenly Father and sometimes from God Himself.”
Thanksgiving Blessings “When we remember that God’s love is our ultimate blessing, it becomes easier to give thanks in the midst of our circumstances, and not just because of them. This is why God can command us to give thanks in ALL circumstances: because He knows that our circumstances aren’t the point. GOD is!”
Thirty-Five Things About Me “Luke and I met on eHarmony when we were 23. After being matched, we emailed back and forth for a month before he finally asked for my number, then talked on the phone every night for another month before I tricked him into asking me on a date. He quickly became my first boyfriend, and we were married exactly one year later.”
Dear Son, What I Want You to Remember Me By “I pray that you will continue to speak your truth while remaining open to what others have to say. I hope you have seen this modeled in me, and that you will always remember to lean into each conversation with curiosity and compassion, just as I strive to do.”
Getting Over Ourselves “The story of how God captured my heart may not be scandalous or particularly memoir-worthy, but the fact that I never had to be knocked down by life in order to find solace in His arms is itself rather miraculous.”
Ten Lessons I’ve Learned From More Than Ten Years Of Marriage “It hasn’t been easy, but each trial has grown us as individuals and as a couple. I can honestly say that I am infinitely more in love with my husband today than I was the day I married him.”
Doing What’s Mine to Do “I believe God stretches and grows us by asking us to do things that feel beyond our bounds of capability—things that He will empower us to tackle. But I also know that He has gifted each of us differently, and that He doesn’t expect any one of us to check all the boxes all the time.”
2019 Reading Recap and My Favorite Books of the Year “I’m not disappointed in myself for having read less this year; in fact, it was actually a goal of mine to focus on quality over quantity in my reading life in 2019, and I believe I succeeded on that front. I found much more enjoyment in reading this year, and chose books I wanted to read instead of simply racing through titles to add to my book count.”
What I Learned in 2019 “Time and again, God used circumstances this year to show me that He can be trusted with my family, my well-being, and the trajectory of my life. In January I chose to abide in Him, and I am in awe of the abundant fruit God is cultivating through me.”
I certainly enjoyed reminiscing as I compiled this post! And I’m eager to see all that’s ahead for me and my family in 2020!
Happy New Year!