A Wednesday list

1. We did the travel for Thanksgiving thing, and it seems like at the beginning of every trip I have a why are we doing this??? moment. Kids are cranky, it feels like there's snacks and activities and water bottles flying everywhere. Nothing feels natural or easy. And then...it clicks. Everyone adjusts and adapts and relaxes and it's all good. Reminds me that like a lot of things, being comfortable with travel takes practice. The more you do it the shorter those why moments become.

2. Let's talk Christmas shopping. I skipped Black Friday, and seriously I never regret skipping Black Friday. Now, I have taken advantage of Black Friday sales a few times, but usually it's a social occasion for me. A friend or family member suggests it and asks me if I want to go along, and I do, because misery loves company...I mean...in my opinion shopping in general is more fun with a friend. J did take advantage of a few online sales on my behalf, so it wasn't a total boycott.

3. Who out there observes Advent? Last year I learned that the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones can be read easily for Advent, and I really enjoyed doing that. I discovered this year that the publishers put together some free Advent materials specifically to go along with the JSB, so I'm excited about downloading them. I attempted my Advent reading with C last year, but the JSB was a little too old for her. I'm thinking this year she might enjoy going through it with me a little more. Growing up in a church tradition that didn't follow the liturgical Church calendar, Advent wasn't something we payed much attention to, but I've been exposed to it a bit more over the past few years though and it's really helped me enjoy the Christmas season a little more, helping me tune out the excess of noise that can crop up during this time of year.

4. We got to have a dinner out with some old friends while we were up in Missouri, and they took us to one of their favorite restaurants. The best part of the night was spending time with old friends, but the food itself was A.maz.ing. The restaurant had a classy, sophisticated vibe and it was also kind of fun to feel like a grownup -- something that doesn't always happen chasing after preschoolers. We also found out this restaurant has a location in Houston (the Galeria, natch). I'm filing it away for a date night in the future.

5. I finally read Finish, by Jon Acuff and it is truly a gem. It's a follow-up to his book Start: a research team approached Acuff after he started his 30 Days of Hustle course, and wanted to study the participants -- what made them successful at the course or not. What they found was that a surprisingly small percentage of those who start goals/projects/ideas actually finish them, and this book looked at that research to give super practical and proven ways to help someone get from start to finish. The best part is that the whole premise of the book is basically how to make things easier, that success isn't always dependent on your ability to work harder or more, but to make projects or goals easy and even fun. Brilliant! It's a quick, funny read (it's Jon Acuff after all) that will inspire you and help you to finish what you start. Speaking of reading...I also read a book by Dave and Neta Jackson -- Grounded -- over the past couple of weeks. They're the authors of the Yada Yada Prayer Group series which I read ages ago and enjoyed. It wasn't ground-breaking or earth shattering, but Grounded was entertaining, cozy, and a good mix of easy-going and thoughtful. It's definitely what I'd call a "message" book, but the Jacksons typically do a good job of balancing storytelling and sharing a word from God. Since we've spent a lot of time in the car, I also started listening to Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson. It's the last book in his Mistborn series. I've been on a podcast kick for so long it's been nice to get into an audiobook again. And speaking of Brandon Sanderson...I'm going to start Oathbringer this week.