December… that whirlwind month of parties, birthdays, celebrations, planning and anticipation. Christmas crept up on me unexpectedly this year and it feels like the month has completely flown by. Though I’m not quite sure why I was so surprised considering we set up our Christmas tree in mid-November…
I finally got back into the groove of writing and did quite a few reflections pieces- about the things I was struggling with, the lessons learned this year, the top posts of 2016, easy Christmas recipes and a few poetry pieces thrown into the mix.
Baby-wise things have been going great, with our 20 week scan showing all is on track and we threw a big gender reveal party to discover alongside our friends and family that we are having another boy! I’m not feeling sick at all anymore but I have found that I have to pace myself, which is a little difficult sometimes.
What I’m Reading
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stablile)
Did you know that I love the Enneagram? It’s not like I talk about it all the time or anything… This is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic, mostly because the authors so comprehensively cover the nine types by telling interesting stories about the people they know who exhibit qualities of that category. It is such an interesting read and I feel like I learned even more about myself and the others around me of different types, despite the fact that I have done a lot of reading about the Enneagram in the past. There are also great takeaways of things to avoid/aim for for each type. Definitely recommend if you are interested in this topic.
How to be Here (Rob Bell)
If you can get past the slightly jarring way that Bell organises his text, there are a lot of great insights in here about appreciating life, learning from failure, taking risks and following the spark. None of it is particularly groundbreaking, particularly if you have already been exposed to his podcast or read any of his other recent books. Still a good reminder, however, to seize life with both hands, appreciate every moment and face the messiness head on.
What I’m Watching
Westworld (Season 1)
When I first heard the description of this series – an alternate reality set in a Wild West era where human guests interact with hosts (very lifelike robots) – I wrote it off immediately. Not something I would usually be into at all. But then Dave started watching it and I walked by a few times and soon became hooked. This is not one for the faint hearted – there is a lot more violence and sex than I would usually tolerate, but the concepts are just so fascinating – technology, gaming, philosophy, human nature, what separates human from incredibly high-functioning robot… and the story is expertly told. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Woods and James Marsden – it is a very well made and compelling show.
Gilmore Girls (A Year In the Life)
I finally finished the new season of the Gilmore Girls and I had mixed feelings. I don’t know if I’m at a different place in my life now, or have grown out of these kinds of shows, but something about it felt a little weird for me. I enjoyed when Sookie and Jess were reintroduced as characters but on the whole felt like something or someone was missing from the narrative. Rory’s storyline was quite depressing and parts of the show just felt a bit forced. I will probably still watch future seasons, but I won’t be hanging out desperately for their release.
I had the privilege of taking Eli to see this movie and spending some one on one time together was so lovely. Kids movies can be a bit hit and miss sometimes, so I didn’t build this one up in my expectations at all. I was pleasantly surprised. The music was catchy, the characters interesting and the storyline believable enough within itself to hold both of our interests. I liked the message of the film, though was a bit concerned initially how they would treat the subject matter of the evil Bergins eating the happy trolls – seemed just a little macabre for a children’s movie. Overall, an enjoyable experience.
Black Mirror (Season 3)
I think I’m slowly being turned by Dave away from more light-hearted, frivolous fare towards shows with deep insight into humanity, technology and philosophy. I can’t handle all of the episodes in this series, but when Dave thinks I might like one he waits so we can watch it together. So far I’ve seen ‘Nosedive’ and most of ‘Shut Up & Dance’, which both raised interesting critiques of technology and humanity though were fairly uncomfortable to watch.
The music in this movie is just so catchy. We have been listening to it a lot (and getting the ‘You’re Welcome’ song stuck in our heads as a result). I found the setting and characters for the movie very enjoyable and the message about finding out who you are to be a positive one (though potentially confusing for kids perhaps?) I won’t give away any spoilers, but I did enjoy the ending of the film and find it quite emotional. Parts of it were a bit scary for the kids, but the way the film resolved took a lot of that fear away. One we will no doubt be watching again and again.
What I’m Listening To
Due to the speaker in my phone inexplicably ceasing to work for the majority of this month, it was not a prolific listening month. I listened to an episode about ‘Guilt-Free Holidays’ from The Simple Show, some writing tips with Anne Kroeker and the interview of Krista Tippett with Mary Karr.
Eli has well and truly stepped up as a helpful and mature boy (most of the time). He loves to organise his siblings in games and tasks and dreams up interactive games for them all to play. He is relishing being a part of hosting parties – giving me advice about decorations for the gender reveal party, offering to help organise the house and generously handing out all his chocolates from his stocking to the family on Christmas Day. Eli was a big part of the gender reveal announcement – performing flawlessly under pressure to read the contents of the envelope, communicate the results to Hudson and help him pop the right balloon to reveal the answer to everyone.
Hudson’s stories are becoming a big part of who he is and he has a very particular style of performance – posing questions to himself and then answering them with flourish (“Who came to the rescue? Heatwave came to the rescue!”) We belatedly decided to enrol him in a pre-Kinder program for next year as a new centre has just opened up minutes from where we live. He is beyond excited about this prospect and I feel like he is growing up a little more quickly now. He has such strong ideas about how he wants to live life, and heaven help anyone who gets between him and yoghurt. On Christmas Day he insisted on having multiple bowls of (plain vanilla) yoghurt, despite all my efforts of convincing him otherwise (“But look at all the options, Hudson! Trifle, frozen berry pudding, fudge, chocolate-mint ripple wreath, pavlova, candy cane cookies!”) He was not to be deterred.
If you watch Ivy making her way around the house you will notice firstly, her mismatched shoes clunking unevenly on the floor, and secondly, that she is always on her way to do something – drawing, dress ups, barbies, talking to her baby, pushing a stroller. She is a paradox of personality: so sweet and independent, fiery and calm, determined and flexible. I’ve never really had the experience of a child that prefers ‘mummy’ so to have her gravitate towards me often is pretty amazing. With the news of another boy on the way, I feel like we will always have a special bond and I’m really excited by that.
December is a month of many parties, break-ups, celebrations and festivities. I love the anticipation as we open our chocolate calendars every morning, counting down the days until Christmas. We didn’t have a crazy month of dashing from event to event, but we did have lots to look forward to and experience which felt like the perfect balance.
Dave and I took advantage of the free time before our 20 week scan to visit the La Baguette Cafe in Berwick. The Parisian decor and little touches in the table settings were absolutely perfect.
We celebrated another year with the Open House Christmas Party in the stormy weather at Cardinia Reservoir, enjoying a hot roast and salads with the community, watching the kids make reindeer biscuits and stopping plates from blowing away when the gale began.
With special connections at the Beaconhills Golf Course, we went along to a Christmas event for the kids complete with a jumping castle, face painting, elaborate balloon creations and even an appearance by Santa riding in on a fire engine. Ivy could have spent hours playing in the little sand shell, I think.
I’ve written about the Gender Reveal/Birthday woodfired pizza party earlier in the month, but we had such an amazing time celebrating with our friends and family.
When we realised that we were going to be kid-free during the day on the first Wednesday after Dave got off work, we capitalised and went straight to The General in Emerald for brunch. It was our first experience and we found the menu very interesting and the food delicious.
Is it possible that Eli has finished Kinder forever? We had a very emotional day farewelling his teachers and celebrating the end of the year with the other Kinder parents a the Family Pizza Party. It has been such a growing experience for Eli and he has made some incredible friends that we hope he will keep for life (it helps that they also have very cool parents that we enjoy hanging out with!).
We paid a special visit to Hudson’s new Kinder…
I escaped for the night to the Real Housewives Christmas Party where we shared many laughs over Nandos chicken and a specially-decorated-for-the-occasion Black Forest Cake.
We celebrated Dave’s Birthday with an evening at the Mornington Beach over fish & chips. The kids absolutely loved the experience and we were all very late to bed that night.
Our annual Aspect Neighbourhood Christmas BBQ was less heavy on the water games this year, but still an enjoyable experience. I look back to how many people I didn’t know at last year’s BBQ and feel amazed at how many great friends and connections we have made this year.
It has felt like forever that we have been looking forward to Mum and Dad moving into their new house so that we can continue the Christmas Eve Sleepover tradition that was started years ago. This year it finally happened and we enjoyed an elaborate feast for dinner – turkey wellington with cranberry glaze, roast pork, Greek lamb salad, chicken and apricot salad, roast beetroot and pumpkin salad; cous cous, sweet potato, pomegranate and haloumi salad with loads of garlic bread and gravy. Dessert was just as enjoyable – apple tart, berry trifle and ice-cream christmas pudding. The kids revelled in all the present giving and when they (finally) got to bed (some of) the adults played a crazy game that involved a mouthpiece and cards called ‘Gobby’. Little sleep was had by those of us with restless children, but when we finally got into gear the next morning we enjoyed part two of the tradition – Christmas Brunch. With burek, spinach and feta muffins, pancakes, poached pears and platters of fresh fruit it was the perfect way to begin Christmas morning.
When we finally made it home and were on our way to the other side of the family’s Christmas gathering, an unanticipated drama meant that the festivities had to be moved – to our house! Read about it all here if you like.
As for the rest of the month, there were Twilight Markets, playdates, trips to the playground and park, crazy hour pizza dinners with friends, many games of table tennis, a trip to IKEA and lots of great memories.
What an incredible month. I can’t believe all of that fit into 30 days! I love December but I know that I could never keep up that pace beyond the month. Bring on a restful and re-energising January.