We survived! The Polar Vortex is releasing its grip, and we made it through the longest, most brutal month of the year. I’m really not a big fan of January. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to pack the month full of things I DO love.

At the end of every month, I always think I should make a list of the new things in my life that I enjoy. I’ve done it maybe once or twice before. So, who knows? Maybe it will become a regular thing.

Here are some of the things I loved in January:

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FOOD

This is the first year in a long time that I didn’t start the year with some radical adjustment to my diet. I didn’t make a new commitment to cut out processed food or eliminate new food groups. Honestly, I’ve been on an eating plan that works with my health issues for two years now, and there simply isn’t anything more I CAN give up! My focus isn’t on my weight these days, but filling my body with the best fuel that I can to help me function at a healthy level.

I still stick to the basics of the Paleo Auto Immune Protocol diet, with a few modifications to make room for foods that work for me. I completely avoid the most highly inflammatory foods for humans: gluten, dairy and refined sugar. I’ve found that I notice how much my body reacts to other foods that a lot of people don’t consider harmful: Corn, tomatoes, peppers and white potatoes will knock me down for a day.

With so many recipes online, I rarely look at a cookbook anymore. But around Christmas, I bought Danielle Walker’s new cookbook, Eat What You Love. I’ve made a ton of recipes from that book. A few that I loved this month were:

  • Chicken Piccata with Artichokes and Spinach
  • Moroccan Chicken
  • Honey Mustard Sheet Salmon
  • Banana Bread

(I’m not including the recipes because they aren’t available online. I think she wants people to buy her book!)

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BOOKS

I’ve been steadily reading through my new devotional 100 Days to Brave by Annie Downs. It’s a great way to start my day and help me focus on different aspects of my word of the year: brave.

I listen to so many podcasts, that I’ve been behind on listening to audiobooks these days. But I recently downloaded The History of Bees through Audible. My husband has been fascinated with honeybees for several years. We recently met some new friends who are beekeepers, and they offered to let him keep a hive on their property. Since then, he’s been studying beekeeping every spare moment.

The History of Bees is a fictional account of three families living in three different time periods: the 1800s, current day and the future. By the end of the book, you learn that their lives are intertwined by their relationship to bees. The book also explains the real bee crisis that threatens our society.

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KIDS BOOKS

I was reminded recently of some of the awesome audio books for kids that I listened to with the older kids when I found this blog post of mine. Jayda and I checked out some books on CD from the library so we could listen to them together while we’re in the car.

These are the ones we finished and loved:

Wish: We both absolutely loved this book about an 11-year-old girl who has been making the same wish everyday since the fourth grade. She learns that sometimes your wish comes true in ways you could never expect.

Tuck Everlasting: This is a thought-provoking story of what it would be like to have everlasting life in a world where everyone else grows old and dies. And maybe it seems like it would be cool to be 18 forever. But what if you were frozen at one age, never to grow a day older?

Frindle: We’ve read several of Andrew Clements’ books, and this one is a favorite. When Nicholas Allen plans a prank on his teacher to invent a new word, he couldn’t possibly imagine how it would change his life.

Jayda (who is in third grade) also has been reading through the 39 Clues series, and she is almost finished with book 11.

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TV SHOWS

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Jayda and I started watching this together on Netflix, and I wasn’t sure at first if it was too much for kids. If your child can handle numerous silly scenarios that result in death of characters, then you’ll be OK. I loved this show because it is so sarcastic. The show is about three highly intelligent children who lose their parents in a fire. They are then placed in the care of adults who are so completely idiotic that it’s funny. I mostly loved that the show includes a lot of jokes about the definitions of words. They also use grammar as a clue to solve one of the murders.

Travelers: I watched the first two seasons of Travelers a while back, so I was happy that the third season is now available on Netflix.

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CREATIVITY

I LOVE working on my creative journal each day. I have been writing fancy words, painting, coloring with watercolor pencils, and doodling with Sharpie markers.

I also got a new Silhouette machine for Christmas, the Curio. It can engrave and emboss metal, leather and wood. I’ve been trying to come up with projects to try, like this one: I made a little engraved dog tag for the cute dog that stayed with us during Christmas break.

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FAMILY ACTIVITIES

We celebrated my awesome husband’s 50th birthday in January! He and I were able to get away for a night to a resort in Lake Geneva. It was so nice to have some time together without the kids.

One of the things I absolutely loved in January was watching our oldest daughter, Alayna, and her competitive cheer team. She had competitions almost every weekend in January. It’s such a rush to watch these teams tumble, stunt and cheer.

Alayna has a little entourage of girls at church who have loved her since they were toddlers. It was so fun to have them and their parents come and watch her at one of her competitions.

This is also the first year Jayda has competed in gymnastics. She is amazing, and I absolutely love every moment I get to see her do her thing.

Matt got a part-time job at a trampoline park that opened in our town. This place has become the coolest place to hang out for kids and teens. He works there as much as possible, and we love visiting him at his job.

(In this pic, Matt is in full control of how quickly that moving obstacle rotates. His older brother had his jump perfectly timed, when Matt hit the stop button right under him.)

Matt also started singing lessons in the month of January. He has been asking to do voice lessons for the past year, but I was struggling to find a teacher for him. I found out his music teacher from KINDERGARTEN was available to come to our house and do lessons with him once a week. It has been so fun to reconnect with her, and she is a wonderful teacher for him.

Our main focus with Andrew in January was to help him apply for scholarships for college. I haven’t really loved this, but it’s a huge item on the to-do list that we’ve been able to complete!

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GAMES

Around Christmas break, I taught the kids how to play the card game, Nertz. It’s fast-paced and can be played by a large group of people, so we were playing that regularly for a few weeks. During the Polar Vortex, we switched to Settlers of Catan. They also love playing Spicey Uno when their friends come over.

In the games category, I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I got myself this 2,000 piece puzzle for Christmas, which I finished in January. I typically don’t splurge on such a high quality puzzle, but I have to say it made me a bit of a puzzle snob.

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What have you been loving in January? I would love to hear! Leave me a comment.

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