The birds have been singing to-day
And saying: “The spring is near!
The sun is as warm as in May,
And the deep blue heavens are clear.
– “In February” by John Addington Symonds
We are inching closer and closer to spring—I can feel it. February brings glimpses of life below the surface: bulbs pushing through the frozen ground, catkins forming on the trees, and new bird sounds from migrating flocks returning home. I love this month! I’m ready to cozy up with hot tea in the sun, do some garden dreaming, embroider my Valentine’s gifts, and enjoy this time with the people in my life. After winter always comes spring.
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I’m grateful for new rhythms and adventures to start the new year. My new systems are helping me so much each day to focus on small steps forward. I use this weekly setup for big-picture planning, marking weekly habits, rhythms, and goal-centered action items. The daily setup includes the kid’s schedules, household to-dos, and meal prep. My PowerSheets remain the home base for tending to my goals little by little. I have a spot in our living room that has become “Cultivate Command Central” with my planners, pens, and card-sending supplies. This is mommy’s zone, and I’m grateful it’s helping me each day! : ) Use code LARA for a discount. 💛
I am also grateful for YOU. Dear readers and friends, you have the best ideas. I took many of your recommendations and ran with them this month: books, tips, and helpful links. I love this community of long-time and new readers here on the blog. I’ve been writing here consistently for 15+ years and couldn’t be more grateful for you!
– We have a new consistent rhythm of lighting Shabbat candles and closing the Sabbath with Havdalah candles and blessings. Thank you to reader Shayna for recommending this liturgy for Havdalah. I printed it and put it on the fridge, and we have enjoyed reading it each Saturday evening!
– A very kind neighbor came over to teach the kids how to knit, and Josh finished his first scarf in January. 👏 He is so proud, and I’m impressed with his nightly diligence. We all enjoy knitting now as we read books aloud before bed.
– One of the best changes this year is getting up to work out before the kids are awake. This has opened up my day to focus on the kids first thing, get more housework done before I drive the kids to various places, and enjoy the quiet of the mornings by myself. Ari gets up earlier now, too, to work out and start his day well. I started this right after Jessie died. I needed total silence in the dark of the starlight to process my thoughts each morning. This new rhythm, as grand as this may sound, has been one of the most significant habit changes I’ve made in life. It’s allowed me to have more time with the Lord and listen to audiobooks while I get my strength training done. I get more focused time with the kids now. I call this “Jessie’s gift to me.” She loved our kiddos, and she would love this new rhythm in my life. I miss her terribly.
– I completed five years of photo albums with Chatbooks’ Yearbook feature. It felt so good finally to check this off my list.
– I landed myself in urgent care after stepping on a set of Ari’s military ribbons – I.e., three giant spikes that went into my foot. I’m fine now, praise the Lord, but it was certainly a family memory for the books.
– Thanks to inspiration from 365 Thank You’s, a book recommended by reader Dawn (thank you!), I started writing cards each day. I have loved this practice, and I loved the book.
– We attempted gluten-free sourdough, failed thrice, and decided to seek expert advice. I am a long-time Cannelle et Vanille fan, and I can’t wait for her cookbook to come in the mail!
– I began writing the books (more to come on this) – this was huge for me! Sometimes, starting is the hardest part. I’m excited to continue digging in this month.
– I needed a major gut and hormone reset to aid my healing from surgery, so I read Fast Like a Girl and did the 30-day reset. This was a challenge, but worth it. I’ll try this for a couple more months to see how it regulates my system.
– We made a tentative school plan for next year, praise the Lord. I often forget January is the month when all the school decisions happen for the following year. It sneaks up on me! I’m adding a reminder to my perpetual calendar, though, now: the third week of January is school go-time. We let the Lord lead us each year for the individual needs of each kiddo. We do a mix of Charlotte Mason homeschool, private lessons, forest school, and a “homeschool school” where our kids do group classroom lessons. Some years, we do summer lessons, and some years, we take the whole summer off. I’m grateful for where He has led us for 2024-2025. More on this in a future post. I promised you a peek into how we homeschool, and I haven’t forgotten!
– Loving this month: LMNT Chocolate, served hot. It’s my mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
What I read in January:
This was a great reading month! Some I did via Audible, and then I discovered that most of my TBR list is included with my Spotify Premium membership in the Audiobooks section. They have a great catalog, which is cheaper than Audible.
— 365 Thank You’s: Thank you again, Dawn, for recommending this true story of a lawyer who finds revival in the art of the handwritten thank-you note. A book after my own heart. I loved the audio read by the author. I especially loved the appendix, where he shares tips on how to write a great thank-you note. After reading the book and his story, inspired me to action. I cleared out a storage bench in our living room full of kids’ winter wear and turned it into my “stationery station,” complete with stamps and pens, so I’m equipped to send notes easily!
— Fast Like a Girl: As mentioned in my recap above, I needed a hormone and gut reset. Surgery really messed up my system. I don’t love some of this book’s ethos, but the science makes perfect sense. Essentially, this is a book about balancing your blood sugar, which in turn affects your hormones throughout different periods of your cycle. The 30-day reset has been a challenge, and I’m digging in again for a second month to see what happens.
— Made for People: Five gold stars! This book came right on time in my life. I began reading it when Jessie went into hospice and couldn’t put it down. It spoke to my own personal need for covenant connection and gave me practical ideas and clarity on how to go about it. This gospel-centered book is one I plan to read again.
— Patina Farm: A coffee-table book about a beautiful home in Ojai, near where Ari and I used to live in California. I love the style and gardens—a fun peek into a beautifully intentional design. I love how they thought of their animals and specific plants in the planning.
— Let it Go: This is more of a manual for downsizing later in life, but it helped me know what I don’t want at that point: STUFF.
— The Martha Manual: A great library find, this robust guide really does teach you almost everything. From how to knit to how to clean an oil stain and how to host a brunch, Martha knows. I’m gifting this to a couple of friends this month.
— The Bears of Blue River: This is on our Ambleside reading list, and we all loved it. It’s a little intense in portions, but the writing is fantastic, and our whole family couldn’t get enough of these bear-hunting tales. Great storytelling.
— Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott: Okay, you guys. I do not want to spoil this one. It’s one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously inspiring children’s books we’ve read. It came in our first month’s shipment from the Booking Society and is a forever favorite. There are some books we read that are funny or inspire a good conversation. And, then, some move you and ignite character change – this is one of them.
— Be Thou My Vision: We just finished this one last night, and what a treasure this nightly’ liturgy has been for our family! It’s so well-crafted. We thoroughly enjoyed the Advent edition, and I ordered the Passover to Pentecost volume for us to read next.
What I’m looking forward to in February:
– My friend Erin’s seed launch! Many years ago, I had a conversation with her about starting her own seed shop, and it all seemed overwhelming at the time—where does one even begin? She had a vision and passion to see it through. After many years of breeding, learning, and growing, this will be Floret’s first “All Floret Originals” seed launch. I couldn’t be more proud of Erin and excited to grow them in my garden this year!
– A trip to NYC with my friend, Shunta! We’ll see my long-time CMU friend, Leslie, in Purlie Victorious on Broadway, and I am counting the minutes. I haven’t taken a trip without the whole family, much less with a friend, in I don’t know how long. As a special-needs parent, it’s a big undertaking for me to go away for a night, but Ari was so encouraging. I’m grateful to have this special time with friends!
– A birthday celebration for my mom and Sarah.
– Quiltcon 🙂 I am so excited to go to this quilting event with Grace!
– Our 18th engagement anniversary (Valentine’s Day), soon followed by our 18th wedding anniversary in March (we had a very short engagement!).
– I love Valentine’s Day and have many gifts and cards to create this month. 💕
– I’m gifting the new Gratitude Journal to Grace and got a copy for myself as well. I look forward to starting this with her in February.
– Planning our Passover Seder with friends.
– Whatever else the Lord has for us this month!
Your turn! What habits are helping you so far this year? Any new things you’re trying? I’d love to hear!
P.S. Looking for my favorite healthy things to start your year? I’ve gathered them all for you here.