It’s been a wonderfully slow start to the new year, thanks in part to a refreshing social media retreat.
The kids and I arrived back in California super early in the morning on December 31st, exhausted but with a renewed appreciation for the 50+ degree difference between winter in Chicago and winter here!
We welcomed 2018 with the Langley family tradition of homemade pretzels and root beer floats, assisted by a very enthusiastic Daniel who wanted every pretzel to be a “D”. Then, very shortly after putting him to bed, we decided to call it a night ourselves and banked a solid ten hours of sleep (#parenthood). It’s hardly a New Years’ tradition, but it felt fantastic.
The next morning, we gathered with our church family for their Resolution Run and breakfast. We were not in any way prepared to run a 5k, but were pleasantly surprised to find that not only did it not kill us, we actually enjoyed it. We should do this more often.
Much of our first week back was spent settling back into our rhythm at home- catching up on laundry, restocking our fridge, trying to find a normal nap schedule again for our kids, jumping back into church activities. The rainy season has technically started, but we’re still enjoying plenty of sunshine, playing in the backyard, and taking walks. All the fields and hills that were dry and brown when we arrived in July are lush and green now, begging to be hiked.
Over the long weekend, we took a mini trip down the coast to San Simeon to see the elephant seals in peak mating and birthing season. Because it’s a little too far for a day trip with kids, we drove down on a Friday evening in time to enjoy the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach. For only a couple weeks a year, the sun sets directly behind this enormous sea arch. While we certainly weren’t the only ones on the beach to enjoy this phenomenon, it was well worth the stop. I think I could watch crashing waves for hours.
The next day, we made our way to the beach first thing to find it packed with thousands of seals, ranging from newborn pups to 5,000 lb, 16 foot adult males. So wild.
Unfortunately, you can’t drive straight through Big Sur right now due to a massive landslide and ongoing road repairs, but even with a 2.5 hour detour, it’s a day well spent. We enjoyed the drive back north through a mountainous pass and still got to see plenty of the coast, including a stop at McWay Falls, which was as beautiful as ever. As we drove up the 1, I spotted a couple spouts out on the water and we were able to pull over with the binoculars in time to see a few humpback whales on their migration south. We then met up with two different families we knew in Germany for quick visits in Monterey, ending the evening with a walk down Cannery Row and fresh fish tacos before a quiet drive home. We were back in time to get a decent night of sleep before John played piano for church in the morning. Obviously, most days don’t look like this, but the fact that this sort of day is possible from where we live is something we absolutely will not take for granted. I don’t imagine we’ll be bored in the next three or so years, and we aim to spend as much of that time as possible outside!
Daniel has become such a little kid. His new favorite phrase is “that’s okay.” Something spills, breaks, falls, Audrey cries, etc., and Daniel says, “that’s okay.” We’re glad he’s suddenly so chill. He’s very imaginative these days, usually pretending to be a lion. He can be very, very committed to the act, especially since lions don’t wear shoes or brush their teeth or do lots of things parents might ask a little boy to do. He still loves books, especially Bill Peat stories. In an effort to reclaim nap time, we’ve begun letting him listen to stories in his bed. Most of the time, he eventually falls asleep, but if nothing else, he’s quiet and enjoying “Frog and Toad” or “Adventures in Odyssey”. He’s been very into these dinosaurs lately. He remembers everything, often surprising me with his recall of something that happened six months ago, or a memory from our life in Germany. In the last month, his interest in letters has really exploded. Also, he’s transitioned to calling us “Mom” and “Dad” much of the time, which makes him seem 12, not 3 1/2.
Audrey is very much a toddler. She’s quite talkative now, regularly surprising us with things we didn’t know she could say. A few days ago, we pulled into our friends’ driveway and she said, “I need to get out.” We had no idea she could string more than two words together. She loves the baby doll she got for Christmas, carrying it around the house wrapped up in her blanket or pushing it around in a second hand stroller we recently snagged off Craigslist. Daniel had a doll at this stage too, but he definitely wasn’t this interested or nurturing! It’s amazing how inborn many of their interests seem to be even in the absence of gender-specific toys. For some reason, Audrey loves her boots, putting them on as soon as she’s freed from her crib in the morning. She likes to ride along on the back of Daniel’s tricycle, disappointed that she can’t reach the pedals yet on her own. She’s a nightmare in shopping carts lately, flexing her will and independence (and lungs) whenever the opportunity arises. She also cut all of her molars this month, so I’m hoping we’re done with teething for a while!
I began another Whole30 mid-January, accepting that all the extra work and quadruple the dishes is a worthwhile trade-off for how good it feels to really, truly nourish my body. At this point, I have a few days left, but I’m not feeling particularly deprived–I feel awesome. For me, focusing on eating well is a keystone habit- one that often leads to the development of multiple good habits- sleep, exercise, time management, my spiritual life, etc. (read this excellent book on habits). I have so much more energy. I enjoyed a two week trial at a local yoga studio, escaping from our house in the quiet, still dark hours to start the day with a class instead of waking up to children who need me immediately. Being up, awake, showered and ready for the day so much earlier meant that we spent more time outside in the mornings, the park all to ourselves. I was more diligent in picking up my Bible each day. In summary, it’s been really, really good for me.
Other things I’m grateful for lately:
- Plenty of good coffee. Thank you, Whole30, for not banning coffee.
- Good podcasts (especially while washing all the extra dishes): Risen Motherhood, The God Centered Mom, Journey Women.
- Planting spring bulbs with the kids. We were really late, but this week we can see green shoots!
- Audrey’s hair in tiny pigtails for the first time.
- The addition of these fluffy chicks!
- A mantle for our fireplace, built by John in our garage.
- 8 seasons of Daniel Tiger on Amazon Prime (let’s be real).
- A schedule that frees me to prioritize relationships and making new friends.
- The last bit of this sweet, slower paced training season in the KC-10 for John.
- Tiny green hummingbirds perched in the redwood trees in our backyard.
- Open windows. In January.