I love January. The craziness of Christmas has passed, a new year begins and Summer stretches forth into the distance with the promise of day trips, beach excursions and barbecues stretching into the twilight.
The Year of Discovery has begun with my first month of delving into organising yielding interesting results. I enthusiastically adopted the book Essentialism, rediscovered my Bullet Journal, halfheartedly cleaned out my wardrobe according to the Marie Kondo method and praised the notion of routine in allowing energy and creativity to flourish. I also watched the documentary ‘Minimalism‘ (see review below). Next month I’m looking into the concept of planning, joining an Instagram #PlanWithMeChallenge to inspire me.
I have enjoyed participating in the #365Mumtastic challenge so far this year. The daily prompts help me to remember to capture the good moments in our days, find things to celebrate and connect with other mothers doing the same. February’s prompts are now up here.
There has been a lot of anticipation in our family, with Eli’s first year of school and Hudson’s first year of pre-Kinder. Not to mention the countdown suddenly seeming rather quick before our fourth makes his entrance… He is already well and truly making his presence known via acrobatic sleep disruptions.
What I’m Reading
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Greg McKeown)
There are times in life where a book comes along that changes you. This was one of them. The philosophy of Essentialism seems so simple, yet taken as a whole it can be life changing. This book is giving me the freedom to figure out exactly what I want to get out of life and how the little actions contribute to moving me forward in that aim. While written mostly out of experience with business practices, the philosophy is transferable to a myriad of areas and I am enjoying figuring out how it applies to parenting.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (Mason Currey)
One day during a moment of procrastination, Currey became fascinated in the rhythms and routines of artists. He began collecting information on painters, composers, writers and philosophers and crafted a book out of it. A simultaneously fascinating and boring read, the takeaway seems to be that you just need to figure out what routine is your optimal experience and keep perpetuating that. (Oh, and don’t drink yourself to death like half of them seemed to.)
The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
My one and only fiction for the month, this was a mostly compelling read. Set in World War II, it covers the stories of two sisters who find themselves caught in Nazi-occupied France. Hannah develops the characters well and allows the reader to really empathise with the harrowing experience of the women left behind. I didn’t love the present day aspect of the story as much as I did the historical journey, but I understand what the author was trying to achieve. Overall, it was an entertaining book and managed the complexity of the people involved well, regardless of their nationality or parentage.
What I’m Watching
This one was special because we got to see the movie in Ballarat’s beautiful Regent Theatre and it also happened to be Ivy’s first cinema experience. As for the movie itself, I had little expectations of the story from my viewing of the trailer, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. The calibre of the music was great and I enjoyed how the film jumped between the experiences of the different characters. The creative licence taken in the story of Rosita (the mother of 25 piglets) was a little unbelievable, but the film as a whole was very watchable. We have been listening to the soundtrack quite a bit over January.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Dave and I originally planned to see this movie at the cinemas for our anniversary trip away earlier in the month, but the timing didn’t work out. I haven’t read the book but we both found the magical universe compelling and interesting, though a little hard to follow at first. I loved the setting of the film in the 20s and the costumes, and found the imaginative aspects to be well done. Entertaining but not a movie that changed my life or made me ponder anything of real significance.
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
From spotlights on tiny houses to how a father with six kids manages toys, this documentary broadly follows the ten month tour taken to promote Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’ book on the topic. The ideas presented about the toll of consumerist culture on the environment and on our own mental health were compelling, but perhaps not groundbreaking if you are already exposed to these concepts. There has been a fair bit of criticism about the format of the documentary being more of a promo for the book than an exposition on the why and how of minimalism, but I suppose it was intended more as an entry level piece than a deep dive. In any event, it is still worth watching as a good reminder about the strangling power of stuff and how we have the ability to make meaningful choices in our lives that ultimately impact the world.
What I’m Listening To
It has been so nice to have my phone working properly again so that I can actually listen to podcasts. This month I have continued to gain regular tips from Anne Kroeker: Writing Coach and tried a new podcast in line with the organising theme for the month – Organize Mindfully.
The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenreider
I have really been enjoying this podcast. Tsh is brimming with wisdom and great ideas about how to live life well, and it was from her that I discovered the book Essentialism. This month I listened to ‘Living Slow’, ‘Trip Planning and Staying at Home’ and ‘Different’.
I feel like I have listened to most of the episodes that pique my interest, but a couple this month were worthwhile, namely James Martin in ‘Finding God in All Things’ and Michael Longley with ‘The Vitality of Ordinary Things’.
The Road Back to You with Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The interview format of this podcast is so fascinating as it really gives you an insight into what living as a particular type is like. I listened to the interviews with Sarah Bessey (Type 9), Jim Danaher (Type 3) and Chris Gonzalez (Type 9).
What Should I Read Next
Soon I think I will be having problems more with how many books are on my ‘to read’ list, rather that what to read next. I enjoyed listening to ‘What’s Your Reading Personality’ and ‘The Last Page Can Make it or Break It’.
We have noticed a real shift in Eli over the holidays. Most of the time, he has been an incredible older brother and ringleader for Hudson and Ivy. Coming up with exciting games for them, responding with kindness and gentleness, pointing out when Hudson is ‘levelling up’ on something – he is really growing up. There are still the occasional meltdowns and provocations, but we are so proud of the boy he is becoming overall. He is becoming more open to new experiences as well, declaring that his new favourite food is Ethiopian after a recent visit to a restaurant in Ballarat. Out of the blue, he has also seemingly learned how to swim – taking to the water with gusto and relishing accomplishing new skills like diving and different strokes.
Hudson’s selfless nature never ceases to astound me. Eli or Ivy only have to express an interest or preference for something he is playing with or owns and (most of the time) he will say ‘You can play with that’. There are definitely things he still needs to work on – getting dressed being a constant point of frustration, he seems to suddenly discover the Lego catalogue or his Rescue Bots books precisely at that time every day. He is beyond excited about starting Kinder and enthusiastically tells everyone we meet.
Ivy is now ‘one of the gang’ with her brothers. She has pretty much completely given up naps and prides herself in following whatever the boys are getting into – from playing their imaginative games, to clambering on the couch to join in on the obstacle course Eli creates after bath time. If they squeal, she will too and if they are sad, a wave of empathy overcomes her. Bedtime has become a little more difficult if she feels like she is missing out on anything they are doing. She is still completely obsessed with Cinderella and can sing the famous line from Let it Go with gusto on cue. ‘Watch this, Mum‘ and ‘I did a burp‘ are among her most repeated sayings.
January always starts off with a bang as we launch into the new year by celebrating Hudson’s Birthday! We have continued the tradition of heading into the city shortly afterwards, to see the Myer Christmas Windows and visit Hudson’s Coffee for a photo opportunity with the birthday boy.
Dave and I were lucky enough to celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary in style at the Hotel Windsor. We sampled delicious food ranging from exquisite pastries at the High Tea to Nepalese street food at the Summer Night Market. It was bliss.
We spent a family holiday at a French Monastery – Tres Angelique in Ballarat. Visiting countless water parks and playgrounds, indulging in Ethiopian food and Italian gelato, we came home exhausted but very happy.
I love January at Open House. We catch up weekly over relaxed barbecues or picnics and simply enjoy the summer twilights together. Sunday marked the official departure of Dave and I as the the ‘leaders’ of the community and we celebrated with a ‘Night of Decadence’ in the Hills. We were so touched by the thoughtful details and the generosity of the entire community and the beautiful feast. It was a night to remember forever.
Ivy and Hudson celebrated turning a year older together with a Circus Extravaganza. There was balloons, juggling, magic tricks and dancing games as well as heaps of festive finger food.
The next day we took Ivy to Myuna Farm to mark the actual day of her second birthday and she loved seeing all the animals.
We visited San Remo Beach one balmy evening:
Went to the Werribee Zoo with one of Eli’s close friends:
Visited Bramble Farm to pick berries:
Splashed in the wading area at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens:
Enjoyed pizza by the pool with great friends:
As for the rest of the month, there were countless playdates with Eli’s school friends, a Housewives catch up, an Australia Day BBQ, crazy hour woodfired pizza dinners and table tennis matches, and many outings to playgrounds.
January, you have been a month of celebration, relaxation and connection. I think we are pretty much ready to launch ourselves into the rhythm and routine of the school year now… Thanks for all the great memories!