- The Mysterious Benedict Society (Book 1) by Trenton Lee Stewart -A friend let me borrow this books at her recommendation. Apparently, there is a Disney+ show based on it. I found this children’s book to be quite suspenseful. It had define secret agent meets child genius vibes. It was a thick book and took a bit of time to finish, but now I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see how the series pans out.
- No Cure For Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler – Bowler’s memoirs are deeply moving and I highly recommend them. She deconstructions clichés and faces the truth of life with honesty and resilience. As a cancer survivor, she realizes that life has limitations and good vibes only go so far. Her perspective on self-help as been enlightening for me. I’m thankful for her voice in a culture that says try harder, do more, your best life is right around the corner.
- Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness by Houston Kraft – Another book recommendation from a friend. I thought this book would be from a Christian perspective, so I was surprised to find it was written by someone who speaks on kindness to middle/high school students in school assemblies. This book was powerful and even though Jesus wasn’t mentioned, Jesus-concepts filled this book. As a parent, I found it inspiring to know that this deep kindness concept is being shared in schools. As an adult, I realized I need this message just as much as the next generation.
- The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox – Another friend recommendation. You’ll hear that a lot. I very rarely stumble on good books by myself! This holiday book has been popping all over the place in my reading circles. It’s a light, cozy, Hallmark-ish Christmas tale about twin sisters who switch places before the holidays and fall in love. I loved the Christmas vibes.
- Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace by Osheta Moore – I originally picked up a digital copy of this book from the library, but a few chapters in, I hopped online and bought my own paperback copy. This is a book that I will read again… and again… I watched a MOPS video with Osheta a few years ago and I was drawn her to peacemaking ways. I’m having a hard time nailing this book down in words. It was just so good, insightful, honest, empowering, and life-changing. I would recommended this book to everyone!
- Secrets & Whispers (The Glenbrooke Series Books 1 & 2) by Robin Jones Gunn – These were my airplane/vacation books. I’ve read them so many times that I knew my brain wouldn’t need to be super focused to follow the plot – and I don’t mean that offensively. They are comfortable, familiar friends. I love that the books in The Glenbrooke series build on each other slightly, but also pass as stand alone novels. As I wait for library books to be available this next month, I hope to weave the rest of the series (six more books) into my reading.
- Save the Date & His Mistletoe Miracle by Jenny B. Jones – I read these books about the Sinclair twins this summer. I re-read them because I needed books already loaded on my tablet when I finished my paperback on the plane. Again, an already-read book is perfect for the plane since I knew the stories. I’m in the process of getting paperback versions of these books along with the book about their sister, Finley, in There You’ll Find Me. I love a good sibling series!
- The Perfectionist: Growing as an Enneagram 1 (60-Day Enneagram Devotional) by Elisabeth Bennett – An Enneagram Seven friend said she was enjoying this devotional book for her type, so I decided to pick up one for my type one self. This Enneagram devotional went deeper than the usual surface information I’ve hear about type ones over and over again. I’m kind of sad I finished it because it was providing me with such insightful moments to wrestle with the highs and lows of my type.
- The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – This was Courty’s Book Club fiction pick for November. The book is set in Marid in 1957 under the dictatorship of Franco. It’s a thick book told from the perspective of many characters. Because the theme of the book revolves around secrets and silence, it take a while for the plot to unfold. Once the pieces started to click into place, it’s was mind-blowing and heartbreaking. While I didn’t love the 18 year gap at the end of the story, I was thankful for the happy(ish) ending that was unfolding on the final pages.
- The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson – If you’ve read my book lists before, you know Carlson is a go-to author me. Especially, her Christmas books. This one was a bit different from the others I’ve read. Four members of a book club ban together after the unexpected death of the friend that held their group together. They grow closer as they see each other in a new light and heal together through the holidays.
What I’ve Been Reading – November 2021 November 30, 2021
Deck the Halls! November 28, 2021
It’s that time of year again! Time to deck the halls! Our kids were ready to decorate for Christmas the day we got back from Disneyland. The Christmas magic they experienced at Disneyland definitely inspired them! Our family has no rules for when Christmas decorations are allowed to come out. It changes year to year based on our schedule. This year we needed to recover from Disneyland before diving into Christmas mode. We don’t mind waiting until after Thanksgiving (but we also don’t mind decorating before Thanksgiving either – no rules).
Speaking of Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a day full of family and yummy food. We were back to our pre-pandemic schedule of two family gatherings in one day. It’s was the first time that our family has joined my extended family for a gathering since Christmas 2019. It was good to be back to “normal” but I forgot how long it can make a day when you hop from gathering to gathering. Seeing family was worth the effort, though! It was a great day and we certainly have a lot to be thankful for!
Getting back to school to after Disneyland was a bit of a struggle. If it didn’t mean going to school until the end of June, I would have just declared us on holiday vacation until January. It was nice to come back to a short week and a holiday weekend. Just three more weeks of school until Christmas break! That seems like forever, but I know it will go by in a blink (at least, I hope so)! Jeremy was offered a sabbatical for the month of December. Our family is excited to have extra time together during this special time of year. We are looking forward to Christmas activities and outings as well as plenty of time around the house enjoying Christmas movies, books, and treats! It’s such a joyful season and we are ready for it! Bring on all things Christmas!
PS – You’ll notice that Disneyland has seeped into our Christmas celebration this year. We got matching Christmas Mickey pajamas for our trip. At Disneyland, we picked up a Mickey ornament for our tree. Once we got home, we picked more Mickey ornaments and a Disney advent book. Our Christmas cards will also feature Mickey this year. Our annual photo ornament has been ordered with pictures from our vacation. Disney is our theme this holiday season!
The Magic of Disney November 21, 2021
I’ve been dreaming of taking my family on a Disneyland vacation long before I was married and had kids. Disneyland is a classic family vacation filled with magic! My first Disneyland experience was in the 5th grade and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve visited Disneyland multiple times, but nothing can quite compare to that magic of a child’s first visit. Now that I’m a parent, I’ve been slowly watching Graham (my youngest and shortest son) grow with Disneyland in the back of my mind. I’ve been waiting for that milestone moment where he would be tall enough to go on most of the rides. We reached that perfect height this summer and I promptly suggested we take a Disneyland vacation!
This trip came with other first time experiences for the boys such as their first flight and first time to Southern California. The whole airplane heard them loudly exclaim over palm trees as we got ready to land. The boys enjoyed their first flight and were excellent travelers. My parents joined us for the adventure so we took up an entire row on the airplane. Graham flew down with the grandparents and Owen sat with Jeremy and I. We switched kids for the flight home to mix it up. Once we got into LAX, we picked up our rental car and took off for our hotel, dinner at In-N-Out, and grocery shopping. We went to sleep in matching Mickey Christmas pajamas that I bought specifically for this trip and the holiday season.
Our first day was at Disneyland! The park was all decorated for Christmas which made the experience extra special. Our strategy was to start with the smaller rides in Fantasyland to get the boys warmed up. Things started well with our first ride on Alice in Wonderland. Then Jeremy diverted from the plan when he saw the Matterhorn Bobsleds had a 5 minute wait. We might have traumatized the kids with the yeti on that fast-paced, jerky ride. Oops! Owen loved Big Thunder Mountain, but that was too intense for Graham. At one point during the ride, Graham told us his heart was racing. Both boys loved Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters the most. Part of the fun of the first day was introducing Graham to Disney churros. I got a tasty Gingerbread cookie shaped like Mickey. We watched the Christmas Fantasy Parade. Our kids are now obsessed with the song that played a dozen times on repeat. We didn’t do the big rides or anything spooky. I thought I might miss them, but I didn’t. I had so much fun watching the boys enjoy themselves that I didn’t mind sacrificing some of my past must-do rides.
Our second day was at California Adventure. We did Radiator Spring Racers right when the park opened because the wait time for that ride is insane. The boys loved all the rides at Cars Land. Honorable mentions would also be Goofy’s Sky School, the Pixar Pal-A-Round, and Soarin’ Around the World. One of my highlights was the Boudin Sourdough Bakery at the Pacific Wharf. I enjoyed a sourdough bread bowl with mac & cheese for lunch. We also bought a pull-a-part loaf of bread in the shape of a Christmas tree. The loaf turned out to the huge! Oops! We were able to munch on it throughout the week and then we packed it home. After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a rest. Everyone napped so we would have enough spunk to make it through the evening. It’s magical to see the parks all lit up at night especially with the extra Christmas lights and decorations. After an evening of rides, we made our way to Salt & Straw in Downtown Disney for ice cream. We got back to the hotel in time to watch the firework show from the window at the end of the hallway.
We park hopped on our last day. We started the day in Disneyland. We did a few new rides and repeated some favorites. We secured a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance which was a bucket list ride for both Jeremy and my dad. Even though the boys have little Star Wars knowledge, they enjoyed it. In fact, all the Star Wars rides were a hit. Actually, almost all the rides were met with enthusiasm. Just not the Matterhorn. It became a running joke that we wanted to go back to the Matterhorn and the boys would groan. Our last day was also our shopping day. Both boys settled on bubble wands as their souvenirs. We napped in the afternoon and then started our evening at California Adventure. We revisited a few favorite rides before heading back to Disneyland for the firework show. We waited for the show while munching on snacks of churros, Dole whip, and popcorn. As we walked out the park that night, Owen got a bit teary. He didn’t want to leave and honestly, I didn’t either! Owen quickly cheered up as he got use his bubble wand for the walk back to the hotel. We filled the roads around Disney with bubbles! It was like taking a bit of the magic with us outside of the parks.
3 days in the parks. 30 miles of walking. 37 rides. A parade and a firework show. So many magical moments! We were tired and worn out, but happy in a way that only the happiest place on Earth can provide. I was definitely ready to rest, but now that I’ve had a day at home to recover, I’m ready to go back. Anytime. Tomorrow would be great. Okay, I don’t know when our next Disney adventure will happen, but I am so thankful for the experience that we just had. Disneyland did not disappoint. It was exactly the trip that I dreamt it would be. What a magical Disneyland adventure we had!
Around the House November 14, 2021
We spent our last week around the house. I often start to say we had a quiet week, but that would refer to our schedule and not the actual volume level of our home. Being in a homeschool season with two young boys is a loud season of life. This week we kept the chaos to ourselves and enjoyed a week around the house. After a busier beginning to November, I didn’t mind flipping to the other extreme. I’m all about the chill home vibes.
With a week around the house, the major highlights of the week were obviously not our big outings. It was a week of smaller joys. Jeremy put up our Christmas lights on Monday (in the dark… not recommended, but it worked out). This year we went for the gingerbread look of red and white lights. We got new phones which was really the biggest highlight of the week. Our phones were six years old and the battery life on them was poor. Also, as the main photographer of our family, I was looking forward to getting a camera upgrade. I’ve spent the week adapting to the small changes of my new phone. I’m enjoying the longer battery life and fancy camera!
The boys spent the week chugging through school, playing like pros, and watching Disney movies. We’ve been watching some of the older Disney movies as research for our future trip to Disneyland. Over the last few of weeks we’ve watched Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Bambi, Aladdin, Cars, 101 Dalmatians, and Alice in Wonderland. We don’t usually watch so many movies, but we’re calling it research. The kids are getting a Disney education. We’ve had plenty of time to snuggle in for movies because the weather has been super wet. We collected puddles around our property and our septic alarm went off twice due to the high water level. We took a drive on Friday to pick up some library books, get a red cup, and look at the puddles and rivers around town.
Well, an around the house week makes for a shorter blog. Not too much more to say. A slower pace to chill at home still stirs my soul even after so much time here. I’m glad we’ve had this time around the house because the second half of November will pick up the pace. Good thing we’re well rested and ready for it!
Kicking Off November! November 7, 2021
What a start to November! I didn’t plan for the week to be as full as it turned out to be. Lots of good things, but a bit too much after a big event the weekend before. We had no plans yesterday and our family just hung out around the house and rested. It was such a necessary day. Okay, let’s jump into the highs and lows of this last week!
Monday was a Halloween hangover day. I didn’t expect Fall Fest prep to take as much out of me as it did. The kids had decent attitudes, but I was too ambitious in our plans for the day. The craft I planned for school said age 4+ on the box, but honestly it was age 40+. I helped the kids assemble their foam tree houses and they were appreciative when I got them to the decoration stage. Ever have a child’s craft almost break you? Only me? After quiet time, we went down to the church to help Jeremy tidy up from Fall Fest. The lollipop game still had balloons attached to it and Jeremy offered the boys a chance to pop them with darts. The perks of being pastor’s kids. Thankfully, we picked up take-out from our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. I was ready to be chill.
Tuesday had it’s ups and downs. Jeremy took the day off. He worked on a new space for Owen’s model train. As he was preparing a piece of plywood, he dropped the board on his foot. For the next 48 hours, he monitored it to make sure it wasn’t broken. I say he, not we, because injuries like that make me queasy! I almost canceled my afternoon plans so Jeremy could go to urgent care, but Jeremy promised me he was fine. Limping, but fine. I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. The people at the dentist office are lovely, but no matter how kind they are, I dread going to the dentist. My reward after the dentist was meeting up with my forever friend, Christa, for coffee (actually, neither of us had coffee, so we met up for hot beverages). Time with this sweet friend is always a treasure! And a whole afternoon of being kid-free was amazing! I love my kiddos, but homeschool life has made me appreciate my kid-free time on a deeper level.
Our next big adventure was Thursday. My forever friend, Maggie, and I had plans to take our kids mini-golfing. It also turned out to be Red Cup Day and bonus – there was a Starbucks right across the street from the mini-golf course! I’m sure Maggie and I will meet up at Tower Lanes Entertainment Center again. What’s not to love about indoor mini-golf, bowling, and an arcade? We only did mini-golf on Thursday, but we’ll have plenty to entertain us for future outings. Maggie and I love red cups from Starbucks. We love to celebrate this special day, but very rarely do we get to celebrate it together. My kids were equally as excited for Red Cup Day as I was. It felt like I was doing something right in my parenting! We also picked up Christmas jammies on Thursday and started listening to Christmas music in the van. We haven’t started decorating for Christmas yet, but we are easing our way into the holiday season and I’m all for it!
We wrapped up our week with a homeschool field trip to a local creation museum. The museum curator gave a presentation on how Mt. St. Helens can support the young earth theory. I don’t get too hung up on how old the earth is, but the information was interesting. The presentation included some unique photos of the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980. Owen followed the presentation well and even answered some questions. Graham… well.. he wanted to get a drink… go to the bathroom… look around the museum… leave to go get lunch. It wasn’t his cup of tea, but it was nice to see friends and do an outing together.
Today is daylight savings. I don’t appreciate the adjustment of our natural schedules, but today it worked out in my favor. Both kids slept longer than I expected which meant I had an “extra” hour in bed this morning. I know that feeling won’t last and we’ll adjust, but I’m rolling with it for now. It will be nice to not wake up in the dark, but I will now ask if it’s bedtime at 5:00pm for the next few months. The older I get, the more I think I’m solar powered.
I hope your November is off to a great start! I highly recommend treating yourself to a Red Cup or new pajamas, listening to Christmas music, getting an extra hour of sleep, and having a restful day. I know my plans for the rest of the day include starting a new book and watching a Hallmark movie. Time to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and watch the rain fall outside my window.
Happy Halloween 2021 November 1, 2021
Like most families, yesterday was a big day! Halloween has always been a big deal to our family. Not because of spooky season, though. Annually, Jeremy plans and hosts a major holiday event for our community on Halloween. Fall Fest is a long standing tradition at our church. When I was in high school, I volunteered at this same event, but back then it was called the Fall Family Fun Festival. Jeremy shortened the title to Fall Fest when he became the children’s pastor. October 31st means big church event in our world and we were ready for it!
Last year, we did a drive-thru event due to COVID restrictions. This year we did an outdoor event for the first time. The weather was absolutely beautiful! We couldn’t have asked for a better day. We were so thankful! Jeremy had canopies over every game so the event could have been rain or shine. Being in the PNW, we roll with wet weather, but I’m glad we didn’t have to! Another fun element of Fall Fest this year was the Candyland theme. The decorations and games all revolved around the classic candy-themed board game. The boys and I arrived early in the afternoon to help Jeremy set-up. Pastor’s kid privileges meant our kiddos got to test out the games before it got crowded. They even got an extra long jump in the inflatable bounce house. The boys were very helpful in the set-up process. I love that we are at an age when were we can serve our community together as a family.
While Halloween and Fall Fest were the highlight of the week, I also had some fun moments with a few mom friends. On Monday, I did a book swap with a friend. She came over to look over my home library and share some of her books with me. It’s always interesting to see what books we’ve already read and what books we can introduce each other to. It’s a rewarding challenge! In the theme of books and friends, I went to the 30th birthday party of a good friend this weekend. The guests were asked to bring a wrapped book for a gift exchange. The exchange was a classic white elephant style, but instead of gag gifts, it was everyone’s favorite books. The party was kid-free and the time to chat with other mom friends was priceless. I even road out to the party with another friend so I could get more kid-free socializing into the night. What’s not to love about books and kid-free mom time with friends. Such a special treat!
As I reflect on this last week, I’m so grateful that Fall Fest went so well. I am thankful for the friends and community we get to do life with. It’s mind-blowing that we now find ourselves in November! We have so many fun things ahead. I have a few coffee dates on the calendar. Red Cup Day at Starbucks is right around the corner. We have some homeschool outings planned with other families. And… we have Disneyland on the horizon! So much to be thankful for as we make our way toward Thanksgiving! I’ve added a gratitude practice to my daily journaling as effort to find and remember the good moments scattered throughout each day. I’m not immune to the struggles and challenges of these different days. When things seem hard or overwhelming, I fall back into thankfulness. Oh! That’s another blessing in November – falling back with daylight savings. I used to love falling back just as much as I loved Christmas (before kids). Now… it’s not quite the holiday it once was, but I still get excited for it. I’m certainly counting my blessings as we head into November.
What I’ve Been Reading – October 2021 October 30, 2021
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A few books that I have read recently mentioned/quoted Jane Eyre. While I knew the basic plot, I’d never read the book. This book had some spooky vibes and I’m thankful I knew the plot, so I didn’t get too freaked out. Very tense, but I enjoyed it! I’m glad I decided to read for myself.
- Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler – This academic look at the prosperity gospel was fascinating. I appreciated the historical approach to uncovering this movement and what it stands for. It’s eye opening to see this belief system in the fringe of my own church experiences. Bowler also has an academic work on preachers’ wives and evangelical women celebrities that I have my eye on as well. I can’t wait to wade through more history with Bowler.
- Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin – This book is all about habits and how they are formed and what makes them stick. I loved Rubin’s approach to how different personality types come at habits in different ways. While Rubin and I seem very spot on in our personalities and love of habits, the book helped me process how others develop in a different way than I do.
- The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – This book came recommended from a friend and I placed it on hold at the library without too much information on what it was about. This book provided more spooky vibes for the month of October. Think potions, poisons, science, magic, and murder. I enjoyed the jump between historical fiction and modern times. Not my favorite read of the month, but once I started it, I wanted to know how it ended.
- Skyhunter & Steelstriker by Marie Lu – This book came recommended because I enjoyed Lu’s Legend series and I was told it had Hunger Games vibes (which was very true). For the most part I enjoy dystopian novels. It’s always interesting to see how an author envisions the world after our current culture is no more. Apparently October is spooky season (not my usual practice), parts of this book definitely had spooky vibes in a sci-fiction kind of way.
- Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber – From the author of the Caraval series, this book picks up where the series left off and takes the reader into new lands with new magic. The hard part for me with this new release was finishing the book and knowing it would be a cliff hanger. Now I have to wait not so patiently to find out what happens next!
- Becoming Us & Becoming Known (The Haven Makers Series) by Robin Jones Gunn – After some intense fiction this month, I wanted to head into some comfort reading. The Heaven Makers series includes two of my favorite Robin Jones Gunn characters, Christy and Sierra, while introducing a new set of friendships. This series isn’t complete and re-reading these books made me wonder when we’ll find out what happens next for this group of five friends.
- Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn – Again, comfort reading! Sierra’s Hawaiian love story is one of my favorites. Sierra is one of the Haven Makers mentioned above and revisiting her love story felt like a good choice!
- Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff – I read this book about 8 years ago and I was struck that Bob Goff lives anything but a normal life. His stories are fantastic and sometimes almost seem unbelievable. I often shake my head and laugh as I read his work. I appreciate how he weaves faith through his life adventures and invites his readers to join him on this wild ride. I think after re-reading Love Does, I’ll have to re-read Everybody, Always next month. His books are like a catching up with a good friend, motivational speaker, and crazy uncle all in one!
Another Week, Another Birthday! October 24, 2021
We celebrated Graham’s 6th birthday on Tuesday this last week. Graham opted for a birthday adventure at Top Golf in Hillsboro, OR. Owen celebrated his birthday at Top Golf last October and Jeremy did the same in March. Graham felt it was his time to celebrate at there as well Jeremy was able to take the day off and we had a grand family day. Having our usual family day on Tuesday messed up my internal calendar, but Graham’s birthday was worth it! After a morning of golf, we enjoyed lunch at Red Robin and an afternoon for shopping. Both boys requested money has their main gift wish this year. As they grow, their interests and hobbies have grown in price as well. Most of their hopped for birthday gifts involved saving and planning this year. We love spending a day in the Portland area. The variety of shops and restaurants is always appreciated. The boys had a jolly time as they strategically shopped for the items they had been saving for. We wrapped up the outing with a stop at Cinnabon to get Graham a birthday cinnamon roll.
Graham is one cool kid! He is sweet, thoughtful, and silly. He loves to help me in the kitchen – especially if I’m baking or making macaroni and cheese. He is often singing to himself or making sound effects while he happily plays. Graham’s current loves are trains, books, and Hot Wheels. Graham hasn’t mastered reading yet, but we read together a lot now that he has started kindergarten. As a bookworm, I am happy to share my excitement for reading with Graham. I also love sharing my love of baking with him too. He is such a fun buddy! He loves keeping up with Owen and checking on the chickens. He has started calling me “Mom” more often than “Mama” and it makes me a bit sad that some of his little boy ways are changing. He still loves to snuggle with me, though. He recently told me that he will snuggle with me until he is 68. I’ll take it! Everyday is an adventure with Graham. It’s been a joy to watch him grow into the kid he is today and we are excited for all that God has in store for him.
This week has been filled with a lot of playtime. All the new and exciting toys from our shopping adventure on Tuesday have been spread out all over the house. The weather has been wet, so I used our new-to-us treadmill in the garage for the first time. I love walking outside, but when that isn’t possible, I’ve been doing laps around my living room (I know, it sounds silly, but it’s worked for me). I wasn’t sure I would like walking in the garage, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. I put on worship music and find that my time on the treadmill helps me to connect with God, pray, and process life. My kids do come to “check” on me and have dance parties if the music is peppy. I don’t mind the distraction though. I want to model healthy habits for them whether it’s exercise or time with Jesus.
Since we had our usual Friday family adventure on Tuesday, our Friday was free to help Jeremy with some work projects. Jeremy had ordered a huge Candyland archway as a decoration for Fall Fest next weekend. The arch was a multiple person job when it came to assembly. The boys pretended to be spies as Jeremy and I worked on putting the arch together. It was very satisfying to see the finished product! On Saturday, Jeremy was at a community event most of the day providing a kid zone. I had an online conference in the morning. I enjoyed the conference and caught most of the content despite kid interruptions. It was a ministry leadership conference and while many of my ministry opportunities are on hold at the moment, it was good to invest in my leadership skills and be inspired and encouraged for the future.
It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of October! We are just one week away from our big fall ministry event. Fall Fest is outdoors this year so I’m praying hard for a dry day! The activities will be covered by canopies, so we’ll roll with whatever the weather sends our way. The boys are excited to be ninjas this Halloween. I think I’m going to wear some Minnie Mouse ears that I used for the boys’ birthday party. Jeremy plans on dressing up like the King Candy from Candyland (soooo…. that should be interesting). October has been a month of full of favorite traditions and birthday celebrations. Hopefully this last week will continue to the theme of fall fun and celebration!
October Outings October 18, 2021
After a long weekend of birthday celebrations, it was hard to get back into school mode last week. We were all in a haze from the big weekend and recovering from all the fun we had. School is going well, but we definitely moved at a slower pace. I have to remind myself that it’s okay if school takes a while. Especially, since some of Owen’s work is time-consuming at the moment (example: three-digit math – I know it’s important to know how to do it, but seriously, a calculator would speed things up). School isn’t something to race through. Going slow pays off when practicing new concepts. It’s good for me (and the kiddos) to take a deep breath, slow down, and have small breaks. The pace this year is different with two elementary school kids and I’m still adjusting to school taking a bit longer than last year.
We wrapped up school on Thursday and took off for an adventure! My forever friend, Maggie, asked me if I would be interested in meeting her and her kiddos for play dates in Tacoma semi-regularly. Maggie and I are good about getting together in-person, but we always do it kid-free. Our kids hadn’t been together in the last five years. My kids know who Maggie is because I talk to her and get together with her regularly . Equally, her kids know who I am, but we’ve never all spent time together. I love the idea of my kids having memories with Maggie’s kids. Our first adventure took us to the Tacoma Nature Center. The rain held off long enough for us to explore the trails around Snake Lake and play at their discovery pond play area. The nature center has a small indoor display of a few turtles and a frog which the kids also enjoyed. It was so fun to have an autumn outing with this family. I am looking forward to more adventures in the future.
Friday was pumpkin patch day! Now that we don’t have field trips to the pumpkin patch planned for us, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which patch to visit. We have plenty of nice ones locally as well some larger, fancier ones out of the area, but still close enough to travel to if we wanted. We decided on a local patch in Centralia this year. The boys had a blast picking our their big pumpkins and taking pictures with the wooden displays throughout the field. We ran some errands afterwards and picked up doughnuts for a treat and pizza for dinner. It was a very good day!
Saturday we celebrated Papa’s birthday with a family dinner. We reminded the boys to wish Papa a happy birthday right away, but Graham went off script and greeted Papa with countdown to his own birthday instead. (Graham is a walking countdown right now, tomorrow is the big day for him). The kids got cousin play time which is their version of heaven. For the second Saturday night in a row they got to run around after dark with flashlights. Nana made a tasty meal of meatloaf and offered three kinds of pie for dessert. The adults played games inside while the kids ran amok outside. It was a wonderful evening to celebrate with Papa!
Yesterday was pumpkin carving day! The boys used their new Halloween pajamas as inspiration for their pumpkins this year. I don’t usually get Halloween apparel since we don’t do spooky, but these jammies are just happy little jack-o’-lanterns. I couldn’t resist. Pumpkins have a special place in my heart. Jeremy kindly carved the faces the boys selected. I scooped out two of the three pumpkins we carved. I don’t mind the squishy, smelly insides of a pumpkin, but it makes Jeremy gag. I always feel sorry for him on carving day. We ran out of time so Jeremy’s pumpkin is still a blank slate waiting for his inspiration. Jeremy always carves the best pumpkins whereas mine always look quite similar each year. This year I went for a round nose and a toothless smile. Mixing it up just a bit, but I am in no way a pumpkin artist.
Graham’s birthday is tomorrow! We are looking forward to a family day together to celebrate. I’ll share all about it in my next post. As for the rest of October, I still have plenty of seasonal baking that I’m daydreaming about. Jeremy has two major work events coming up. I have an online conference this coming weekend. We have some plans with friends to look forward to. October is always a full month leading up to Fall Fest on the 31st. The kids already have their costumes purchased and ready to go. Lots of October outings and adventures are still in store!
Three Days of Birthday Celebrations! October 11, 2021
October is always a month full of birthday celebrations. I absolutely love it! Birthdays are a big deal to me. I want to make them as special as possible. Homeschooling has some big perks when it comes to birthdays. Instead of sending a treat to school with the birthday kid and seeing them at the end of the day, we can change our homeschool routine and have a family adventure. Homeschooling allows you to include life experiences as a part of your curriculum – so birthday adventures count as field trips. It’s a win-win!
Our birthday celebrations kicked off on Thursday when we had dinner with my family. The boys picked their favorite meal of Papa Murphy’s pizza. Owen picked brownies for dessert and Graham picked cinnamon rolls. Jeremy and I talked the boys into a Mickey Mouse themed birthday this year. Six and eight might be a bit old for Mickey, but 1) they still watch Mickey Mouse and 2) we used the theme to announce our trip to Disneyland next month. Since my parents are joining us on our Disney adventure, we thought this family dinner would be a perfect time to share our big news. Jeremy programed Alexa to tell the boys that we are going to Disneyland. The kids sat silent after Alexa told them they were going to fly on an airplane to meet Mickey Mouse. They weren’t sure what to make of it. After reassurance that this was in fact true and a few YouTube videos to show just how awesome Disneyland is, we had some very excited kids (and adults, too)!
Friday was Owen’s 8th birthday! Within the realm of reason, we allow the boys to pick their birthday adventures. Owen asked to visit the Space Needle. He also really wanted to see Sounder and Amtrak trains in Seattle. Jeremy and I haven’t been to the Space Needle since we were dating and it’s changed a lot since then! In the gift shop, the kids enjoyed the display of a giant Space Needle made from LEGOs, complete with figures looking out of the observation deck. The elevator ride was also a huge hit. The highlight of the outing was the lower deck which features a revolving glass floor. The kids thought it was so neat to look down below and watch the world slowly moving. Owen selected Chipotle for lunch and chocolate cake for dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. It was a very fun adventure! And yes, we did see the much anticipated Sounder and Amtrak trains as well. I know you were wondering!
Jeremy informed me that Owen is halfway to getting his driver’s license and I just can’t even process that! Owen is still obsessed with trains – a love that started young and has only deepened with time. His favorite subject in school is science with social studies coming in second. He feels a great sense of love and responsibility for his chickens, especially the three youngest (who he views as his babies). Owen is super creative and loves to build with LEGOS, Hot Wheels tracks, and train tracks of kind. He is usually up for any adventure, but is also content to be at home. As much I wish I could rush through bedtime, he is my kid who always asks to snuggle. It’s been such a joy to watch him grow into the cool kid he is today and I am excited to see where the future takes him!
Saturday was a birthday bash with Jeremy’s family. Our kids absolutely love cousin time so this celebration was a big deal to them. They were jazzed for playtime with their favorite people. The party was fairly standard – a piñata, snacks, gifts, and dessert. I might be a baker but I know my capacity during a busy week. Instead of homemade goodies, I attempted to elevate Costco muffins into “Mickey Muffins.” The boys adore Costco muffins and the leftovers would act as breakfast for the following week. It was an unusual dessert choice, but it worked. (Remember, we had cinnamon rolls on Thursday night. We love breakfast food!) One of the highlights of Saturday’s celebration was the kids getting flashlights out after dark and running around the house to surprise and chase each other. It wasn’t quite an organized game of flashlight tag, but I’m sure it’s the beginning of games like that in our future. The boys had a blast!
We still have a few more birthdays to celebrate this month, but we’re only responsible for one more celebration. Graham’s 6th birthday is a week away! We are excited for another day to break away from routine and have a family adventure of Graham’s choosing. Until then you’ll find me recovering from all the fun and munching on muffins.