Hey Friends! Let’s have coffee and catch up!!
If you’ve been around for a while you know that I love to meet up here for seasonal coffee dates. These are typically titled “end of ______ (winter, spring, summer…) but since the end of fall is also Christmas season 🎄♥️ it’s way more fun to just dive into holiday mode, grab something extra sweet and whipped-creamy, and share the joy that is unique this time of the year. (Like a Hallmark movie… ☺️)
First I must ask: How are you feeling as you kick off December? Are you joyful and expectant or stressed and weary? (Or likely somewhere in the middle!). I’m right there with ya! (all of the above!). BTW: If you’re done shopping and have mailed all your Christmas cards, please don’t tell me. Remember, we are friends.
Next I’d tell you that after my packed end-of-summer coffee date post, I’m actually glad to report a more low-key fall around here. Somehow a coffee date usually includes me pulling out my phone to share photo-highlights, so next I’ll share 5 family-life highlights, iPhone-edition. 🙂 Then we’ll get on to a few updates related to BOOKS and the PODCAST! And, of course a GIVEAWAY, too!
So, as I grab my caramel brûlée latte (with that crunchy, sweet topping, pretty please!) here are my family fall highlights…
- LUKE RETURNED after nearly 4 months of surf-travel and we surprised him with a (belated) Graduation + welcome home party. He spent most of the summer in Indonesia, then traveled to Texas (wave pool in Waco), then on to Southern California, back to Indonesia, stopped through Seoul Korea (another wave pool) and then…finally, home. 😮💨 We love having him back for fall and winter when the waves are good here on the North Shore of Oahu. PS: If you haven’t checked out Luke’s instagram feed, he has some really fun videos of his surfing that you + your kids might enjoy.
View this post on Instagram
Since Luke has been back these two have also spent a lot of time on the golf course together. I’m so grateful for their friendship. (which is not always peaceful, I promise. But it’s so so good.)
- In early October, Levi got baptized! And it doesn’t get much better than that. 🥰
- Mid-October Josiah, (23) came back from his summer of back-packing through Europe and started a REAL JOB working in his actual major (Data Analytics.) He is independent and adulting Santa Barbara! And he is very, very happy. Praise the Lord!
Also: Jonah is finishing up his Jr. year first semester at Westmont College, balancing some intimidating Engineering classes with being an RA for his dorm. I’m SO proud of him!! My sweet friend (and practically neighbor) Aunty Cora just sent me this photo as she is traveling and bumped into Jonah and his mentor from church at a coffee shop in Santa Barbara. I LOVE small world moments!!
- In early November I traveled across the ocean, then South and East to Tennessee, South and North Carolina to do some speaking (at a beautiful Silo!), attend a writing conference and then be part of a more intimate retreat with writing friends. I will cherish all that I learned and the sweet friendships forged for a lifetime!
- This last week has been a whirlwind with so many special guests in town! I’ve loved every minute of it, but for the future I hope to create a visitor sign-up form so I am not trying to pack so many people in to one week of the year ! 😜. We had a really sweet Thanksgiving with friends this year. (My folks won’t be coming until January this year, so we’re missing them…)And now we decking the halls for Christmas and anxiously awaiting BOTH big boys coming home for the holiday!
Besides all of the holiday fun, this month I am working on a few big things!…
- RAISING AMAZING will release on February 21st! Leading up to that there is a lot to do! I cannot wait to share this book with you all. (I hope you love it!) My weekly emails will be where all of the launch excitement will be happening, so if you’re not signed up yet I invite you to CLICK here and join the fun!
(By the way…This is my favorite book photo so far…)
- I am rebranding the Podcast! Because my next book isn’t just for boy moms I plan to rebrand the podcast to officially welcome all parents! (I know a lot of girl moms already listened, so we might as well make it official!).
Choosing the new name has been such a big decision…I mentioned the upcoming change earlier this fall and many of you took a survey to help me decide! (thank you!) Then, after meetings with my podcast producers at Christian Parenting, and my book publishers at Zondervan, the consensus has been to rebrand the podcast to be called…
The Monica Swanson Podcast!
I’ll add a tagline soon– possibly “Raising Amazing Kids and Growing Strong Families”, but we decided that keeping the name simple will allow the podcast to grow with me, and with all of you! ☺️. Let me know what you think in comments! (but be nice because this was a hard choice! haha). The truth is, the topics and heart of the podcast will hardly change! The new name was mostly allow me to broaden my reach a bit and potentially touch on subjects besides just parenting if I ever exhaust all of the parenting topics (as if, haha!)
- I am also working on a WEBSITE update! This won’t affect anything, but it’s always fun to start the new year with a fresh, new look! Lots of work to do to prepare for that, but I am really excited!
As we finish our first cup of coffee and consider splitting a little baked good (because it is the holidays after all!) (and I’ll take the gingerbread cookie please!) I will finally quit talking and ask you to fill me in! How was fall? What sports are the kids doing? How’s your family? What plans do you have for the holidays? Also: I love to hear about Christmas traditions! Can you share a favorite?
For the past few years we have started the tradition of trying to carve out time at least a few times a week to go through an Advent devotional. Since it is still early in December, I thought I’d share a few of the devotionals we have enjoyed the most!
- Ruth Chou Simons just released her stunning “Emmanual: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room at Christmas and Always.” (Catch Ruth’s recent podcast interview with me HERE!)
- Asheritah Ciuciu’s “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus” is so good. Asheritah also just published a children’s book by the same name, and SHE will be on the Boy Mom Podcast with me next week! (I love our conversation so so much!)
- Tama Fortner published the beautiful and refreshing “Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays” last year. Find my great chat with her on this episode of the podcast! 🙂 “
I also play Christmas music pretty much constantly for the month of December, so we could chat great Christmas music! In last week’s email to subscribers, I shared two Christmas playlists and got good feedback, so here they are, as well as a couple more we love!
- Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas (SO good!)
- This is our Christmas Album by Switchfoot.
- A Drummer Boy Christmas by For King and Country
- Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship by Chris Tomlin
- This weekend our family went to a live Christmas concert with ZEO Worship. They include Hawaiian language in their worship and it is spectacular! Also they are darling and so funny! You can check out their beautiful music HERE.
BOOKS FOR KIDS!? If you don’t have it already, I would highly recommend you get Jotham’s Journey for a great Advent read-aloud for elementary/middle school kids! (Kids will seriously beg you to keep reading as every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger! :))
Also, I just ordered 3 books off this list of 5 books for December! 🙂
KEEP in mind, in every Wednesday email to my amazing group of subscribers I include great links, helpful resources, and other surprises! If you enjoy this sort of thing be sure to SIGN UP TO JOIN THE LIST! Next week I’ll be sending all subscribers my DECEMBER MEMORY VERSE LIST which I started doing each month this fall. It’s been so good as Levi and I are working hard on the memory verses so we love knowing there is a whole community out there working on the same verses!! (December is a good one, don’t miss it!)
NOW FOR A GIVEAWAY!!
Please respond to any (or all!) of the following questions to be entered to win one of TWO, $50 AMAZON cards! (because between books and Christmas shopping, we can all use that, right?)
1. Share a Christmas tradition you love (either from your family of origin, or in your current family.)
2. Share a favorite Advent devotional or Christmas playlist!
3. (I hope you’ll all answer this one!) –->> As I’m working on a special project related to my upcoming parenting book, I’d LOVE for you to share any topics, themes, or questions you would enjoy hearing each of my boys chat about in a special interview! I threw this question out on Instagram and got some great responses, so I’d love to gather even more!!
If you’re an email subscriber let me know and I’ll give you double entry! I will choose the winners next Friday and post them here!
Thank you so much for being here! Please make sure we’re connected on Instagram and Facebook, and keep in touch this holiday season! I’m savoring every minute, but no doubt I’m extra looking forward to the new year and so many good things ahead!
PS NO pressure, but this is truth: