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Farewell, 2023! You were good to me.
1. Gratitude changes things.
Specifically, gratitude changes me. In 2021, for the first time ever, I kept a gratitude journal for an entire year. Although I don’t do it daily now, it’s still an integral part of my prayer journal.
For an entire year I used Erin Condren blank agenda journals to track what I was thankful for and used it as my prayer journal. These little journals hold just enough pages for three months of daily use . I’ve since switched to a Not Consumed Prayer Journal and love, love, love it. It has the same format I became accustomed to with the Erin Condren journal but are even more tailored and have different sections in the back, too!
2. Quiet times in the evenings work for me.
Speaking of prayer journals, something I discovered soon after my daughter started sleeping through the night (win!) was that mornings are go-go-go for me. I usually jump out of bed and get started on my day.
A long, leisurely quiet time like I was used to while single or newly married? I just can’t focus . So instead after my children go to bed, I pull out my Bible and prayer journal and have my quiet time with the Lord at night. At 7:30PM.
After 10+ years of having a quiet time first thing in the morning, I had to let go of some preconceived notions about mornings being best and realize that my time with God is the best when I do it.
Although, let’s be real, I’m a mom now so sometimes the best I’ve got is the Bible playing on audio in the background while I rock a sick baby. What a gift are these modern technologies so that I can soak in the Word even on hard days!
3. Taking a walk every day is a needed refresh.
In the months when it’s warm, I slap some snacks on the double stroller tray and walk around the neighborhood for half an hour while playing a podcast. In the cold months, we take our trek after rest time and end up at a nearby park. I’m nowhere near achieving 1000 hours outside, but sunshine every day is a goal I rarely miss now.
4. I’m a toddler person.
Bless you baby people, but I really love when babies start babbling and signing, waving and cruising everywhere. We’re right there with our son, and although he sleeps terribly at night, it’s a whole lot more fun during the day than when I was constantly measuring wake windows and making the most of the minutes between naps. It’s so much more fun to have two at almost-similar stages!
5. Sometimes you have to fight for joy. That’s okay.
When the baby doesn’t sleep at night, the little wins like fresh air and sunshine, library visits and park dates make a good day a memory.
6. I can bake bread.
My husband bought me a breadmaker for Mother’s Day and I’m obsessed! Several times a week, I add ingredients, press a button, and then voila! A loaf of bread. I love it.
7. Books ground me. Especially fiction.
It’s a sign of health for me that I’m reading at least one fiction book at a time. See what I’m reading on Goodreads right here!
8. But I like nonfiction too.
My husband is of Scottish ancestry and so when I found a book on the Scottish Enlightenment in a used bookstore, I scooped it up. I’m glad I did. I found it very fascinating and it reminded me that I love historical NONfiction almost as much as I love historical fiction. I especially loved the parts about Sir Walter Scott’s “invention” of the historical novel and the missionary David Livingstone. Sadly, my library only had one of his books in the catalog, so I’ll be adding the rest to my Amazon wishlist (and scouring local bookstores for them!).
9. I prefer podcasts over audiobooks.
Podcasts I’m really enjoying right now (in no particular order):
- The Bible Project
- American History Tellers
- She Reads Truth
- Knowing Faith
- Jess Connolly Podcast
- Money Saving Mom
- Verity by Phylicia Masonheimer
10. Book clubs are so fun!
This year I began co-hosting a book club in my home and it’s been beautiful chaos to have all of our children (who gleefully outnumber the mommies !) gathered around while we discuss books like Phylicia Masonheimer’s Every Woman a Theologian and Abbie Halberstadt’s Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad.
11. Hoopla is my favorite library app.
If your library has Libby, check if it has Hoopla too. It’s my favorite way to read ebooks. No wait!!
12. Rereading books is wonderful.
Last year I reread a few of my favorite books, like Pepper Basham’s Mistletoe Countess. There’s something about rereading a book; you know the ending so it’s somehow like visiting good friends. It was actually the third time I’d read Mistletoe Countess at Christmastime. Perhaps it’s my new bookish Christmas tradition!
13. My husband is Super Daddy.
No, it didn’t take me until this year to figure this out. Rosalie loves calling herself and people around her a “superhero” and it totally fits Devin! Not only did he take care of me through a challenging pregnancy and newborn/c-section recovery season during the first half of the year, but he also earned a promotion at his job AND overcame a troubling back injury that caused him pain for two months!
14. Date nights are a necessity.
During those two months Devin was in a lot of pain, we didn’t have our regular date nights. We missed them so much and are so glad to have resumed them again! Powered by GiGi.
15. Subscribe & Save saves brainpower.
I have paper towels, face wash, soap, and other miscellaneous household items on Amazon Subscribe & Save. Highly recommend! At one point when, ahem, they kept disappearing, I even had pacifiers on there!
16. So does Walmart+.
I briefly cancelled, thinking I was over grocery delivery. I was wrong. Worth every penny.
17. I delete social media apps regularly.
Outside of work, I download and log into Instagram and Facebook only a few days a week. I spend so much more time reading on my Kindle app or off my phone when I do this.
18. The Pour-Over is my favorite news source.
Subscribe here. You’re welcome.
19. New doesn’t have to mean scary.
Our family embarked on a lot of new in 2023. Not the least of which was a new baby! Born in February, Jack is just what our family needed. We’re so thankful to God for giving him to us healthy and whole after a pregnancy that kept us on our toes. Although our family dynamic has changed (that scared me so much before he came!), Rosalie has adjusted so well to her big sister role. She calls herself “Distract-i-girl” because her job during diaper changes is to distract Baby Jack from crawling away.
20. Potty training = 1 down, 1 to go
I tried the bootcamp method twice before giving up for a YEAR. Then we ditched the diapers and she never looked back. I simply started too early. Big deal. Age of potty training does not go on her resume.
21. No-Spend Months can be a fun challenge.
I’ve actually wanted to do a no-spend month for a few years now, and in 2023 I finally did. It was fun to work through the pantry and freezer and buy only what we needed for groceries. I also avoided buying from Amazon and it was a good reset, even for this frugal girl!
22. Family Adventures Rock
This year I tried to really prioritize family adventures, planning about once a month or so to do something like visit the aquarium or children’s museum. Having just re-entered the jarring baby phase, it was a refreshing twist (although challenging!) to do activities like this with my preschooler and watch her truly enjoy them!
23. But quiet evenings at home are my bread and butter.
Which is saying something for someone who really does like her bread and butter (IYKYK). There’s just something about the crazy but good juggling act of family dinner and playing together afterward.
What did you learn in 2023?
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