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I try to publish these Armchair Chats during the last week of the month, but I’m still moving at a pretty slow pace thanks to the sweet baby who is zapping my energy. So not only is this post a week late, but it’s actually covering two months because I never got around to writing an update for October.
These past two months saw a resolution in morning sickness (hallelujah!), our trip to Disney World, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Selah’s birthday, and some other fun things I’ll be sharing more about soon. (It’s not twins, I promise!) Now I’m looking ahead to busy December: a vacation with Dan/without Selah next week, Christmas activities the weekends we’re in town, and Christmas itself, of course.
It’s tempting to feel overwhelmed and overloaded, especially since I’m basically missing a week and a half of the short Christmas season. But instead, I’ve been intentional about focusing on small moments: letting Selah help every time she asks/demands; lingering over caregiving activities like brushing her teeth and getting dressed; turning on the Christmas lights when I’m the first one awake, alone with my coffee and journal; finding ways to say healthy and happy yeses.
I recently ran a big life decision past a trusted friend, and part of my fear in making this decision was that I wouldn’t have enough of myself left to give to Selah. I can honestly say this fear was rooted in mom guilt and not in reality, and this friend not only affirmed that but reminded me of the nature of kids’ memories: they don’t remember the big stuff, the extravagant stuff, the stuff we intend for them to remember. Instead, they remember how they felt in the presence of their parents during the most ordinary moments. They remember the overall feeling of warmth, security, and love in these early years, which I have no doubt Selah feels.
This wisdom is informing the next phases of my life: how I approach Christmas, the goals I’m setting for the new year, how I prepare Selah to welcome another child into our family, how I will handle the transition from one to two kids. Individual moments matter, but they matter more for their collective weight than their individual significance, and that is incredibly freeing.
Here’s more about what I learned, loved, and read in October and November.
What I Learned
- A writer is someone who writes regularly. In the season of survival I recently shared about, I wrote a bit here and there, but it was not super regular and certainly not every day. I needed this freedom for a time, but what I found was that I actually stopped thinking like a writer, which tricked me into believing my creative well had gone dry. Now that I’m back to making time for writing most days of the week, my creative tap has gone from occasional drops to a regular trickle and is now approaching a steady stream, and I’m both relieved and grateful.
- I thrive on social-media-free weekends. I had done a handful of these over the past year, but lately I’ve been doing them every weekend. I uninstall Facebook and Instagram on my phone so I’m not even tempted to open them. I am so much more productive and present when I do this.
- I’m not as cool with intuitive eating and body positivity as I thought. I’ve been eating pretty much whatever I want this pregnancy and not hating myself for it, so I thought I was doing pretty well. It turns out, I was only okay because I wasn’t gaining much weight. I’ve started gaining more rapidly in the last few weeks, and it has triggered major feelings of failure, disgust, and shame. While I’m very much looking forward to our vacation next week, it doesn’t help that I’ve also been searching for a swimsuit for my constantly changing body. I know it’s normal for this process to feel very jarring as my body changes more quickly than ever, but I also know I need to find a way to banish these lies and learn to accept what my body is doing.
What I Loved
- Duck boots. I’ve lived in the Midwest for most of my life—including the past 15 years—and I’ve never owned a legit pair of winter boots. One of my major flaws is that I choose fashion over function. I caved last year for a puffy coat and this year for some cozy boots, and TBH, I’m not looking back. The ones I bought are no longer available, but these and these are similar.
- Coffee. This is so simple but so exciting! With this pregnancy, I couldn’t drink coffee without gagging for the first 15 weeks. I love the taste of coffee, but I also love the routine of it, and it felt like there was a piece of my morning missing every day. But now I’m back to drinking it happily—though now I have to be careful and limit myself!
- Selah’s 3rd birthday! Year 2 was pretty darn amazing with this girl, and it was a joy to celebrate her reaching another milestone.
- Blanqi leggings. I heard about these from Ashlee Gadd, and goodness, she wasn’t kidding when she said they are phenomenal. If I’m at home, I’m generally wearing these. It makes me sad whenever it’s time to wash them because I have to hang dry them, so they’re out of commission all day! Note that Blanqi also makes nonmaternity leggings, but I haven’t tried those yet. Another brilliant suggestion from Ashlee: maternity shapewear. It’s helping majorly with those body image issues as I pull out maternity dresses that are slightly snugger than they were with my first pregnancy.
- Cheesy Christmas movies. My favorites, including a few ones this year, are A Holiday Engagement, The Princess Switch, and A Christmas Prince. (I am super excited to watch the sequel, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, but I’m waiting for a perfect moment when I have plenty of snacks on hand for one of Selah’s Saturday nap times.)
- Disney World. Of course! Our trip to Disney feels like it was ages ago, but really was just six weeks ago. The whole thing was exhausting and magical and so very worth it, and I’m hoping to write more about it soon. Until then, you can check out my 15 tips for taking a toddler to Disney World, in case you’re crazy enough to try it too.
What I Read
Buckle up—I have two months’ worth of books to share!
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne: Possibly my favorite book of 2018. At almost 600 pages, it is a commitment, and it takes a while to get going. But once our main character, Cyril, becomes an adult, I was hooked. He is charming and lovable and infuriating, and I so desperately wanted him to be happy. I wasn’t sure which way the ending was going to go on this one, but the final page was so good I had to read it three times because I ugly cried my way through it on the first two attempts. 5 gigantic, shining stars.
- We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This book is phenomenal. This would not make a good first book if you’re just starting to learn about racial injustice, but it is a necessary read at some point. In my opinion, you have to be ready to accept Coates’s experience of the world if his work is going to move you. This book features one essay he wrote each year during the Obama administration, some related directly to the presidency and some not. He also writes introductions to each piece, and I was surprised by how much he included about his growth as a writer and his writing process. 5 stars.
- Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: This book covered heavier topics than I expected—childhood trauma, for instance—but somehow the story still feels lighthearted. It took me a while to learn to love Eleanor, but by the end, I found her so endearing. This is a delightful and quick read. 4 stars.
- Us Against You by Fredrik Backman: This is the sequel to Backman’s Beartown, a novel about an elite ice hockey program in a small town (also about rape, toxic masculinity, and believing women). You can find my review of Beartown, which I loved, here. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is was, but this novel just didn’t do it for me. The writing felt a little forced and overly poetic for my taste, though Backman is obviously a brilliant writer and storyteller. I will certainly read more of his work even though this one was somewhat of a miss for me. 3 stars.
- One Plus One by Jojo Moyes: I read this one while I was in Disney World with my family, and it fit the bill. A lighthearted story, easy to dive in and out of, a steady if predictable plot. I didn’t love this one—the love story got too sentimental too quickly to be totally believable—but it served its purpose. 3 stars.
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown: I’ve heard so many people rave about this book and how much it has revolutionized their work and personal lives. I can see how it would be genuinely helpful to someone who is a chronic overcommitter, can’t say no or set boundaries, and has a hard time identifying their most important contributions. I don’t struggle much with saying no and focusing on the most important things, so this book wasn’t especially helpful, though it was a nice reminder to continue in the same direction. Also, for a book about keeping life limited to the essentials, this book was way too long and filled with unessential content. I haven’t read this summary, but I would recommend starting there to see if it’s worth it to you to read the whole thing. 2.5 stars.
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: Ugh. Just ugh. I struuuugled my way through the first 100 pages, but when an author manages to make a terrorist/hostage situation remarkably boring, I just can’t anymore. I’ve now DNFed two Ann Patchett books, which shows me that I’m just not an Ann Patchett fan. Her writing is beautiful but feels overwrought, and you might be sensing a theme here, but I prefer for authors to just say what they mean. (I typically don’t rate books that I don’t finish, because that doesn’t seem fair.)
What I Clicked
- A pretty perfect and holistic list of feel-good movies.
- “There are many things about raising a child with special needs that have caught me off guard, but this question, “Did you have a good day at school?” and knowing that it’s not reluctance but inability that keeps him from answering it, this has been one of the most surprisingly hard. Did something funny happen? Were his feelings ever hurt on the playground? Did he like the lunch I packed? Were the teachers pushing him too hard or not hard enough and how did he feel about all of it?” —Dreaming by Katie Blackburn
- “As I’ve grown older, I’ve been practicing how to use my voice. The 16-year-old girl who wanted to be liked and seen as ‘good’ doesn’t really care about other people’s opinions now that she’s a 31-year-old woman. To be quite frank, she has no more fucks left to give.” —Good Girl by Shannon Williams
- “So, soon-to-be-mama-of-two, you’ve totally got this. I pray you find your own words to guide you with how to prioritize your time during the newborn haze. I pray that you give yourself grace upon grace, that you are honest with yourself and community about how you need help, and that you remember it’s okay for things to feel hard and messy during this season.” —Ready or Not: Becoming a Mama of Two by Adrienne Garrison
What I Wrote
- Reframing Everyday Moments as Adventures
- Light a Match // published on The MOPS Blog
- 15 Tips for Doing Disney World with a Toddler
- Gender Reveal + 1st Trimester Update
- Would I Do It All Again? // published on Coffee + Crumbs
- The Sound of My Voice
- Armchair Chats // Time, Memory, and Breaking Out of Survival Mode