When I look back on this month it feels like two or three have passed instead. We started with a bang, celebrating Eli’s sixth birthday with a Super Mario themed party. There was the Winter beachside escape to Sorrento that taught us a lot about the best and worst in ourselves, I had to come to terms with some difficult decisions related to breastfeeding and we have continued to lovingly pass on our germs back and forth to each other. The best news, however, was going along to Harvey’s hip ultrasound and finding out that (despite having no treatment…long story) his hip problems have completely resolved! I exited the hospital feeling like I was walking on air… and then completely slipped over in front of a small audience in the car park. It was slightly embarrassing.
My focus for this month was on budgeting though I must admit I did little to further this discipline. Sometimes my approach towards money feels more like walking forward with my hands over my eyes, allowing my fingers to part just a crack so that I don’t bump into anything too nasty. We aren’t struggling but we aren’t really that great at knowing exactly what is going on or planning for the future. Apart from holidays where we relax our spending rules a little, we do try to make good decisions about how we spend money day to day – shopping at thrift stores for clothing, menu planning for meals, limiting extra-curricular activities. I’m not stressed about money as such, but I do think that our approach could use a little tweaking so that we make better decisions and use our resources effectively.
As for the rest of the month, I joined another daily photo challenge on Instagram which has been helping me notice more of the good moments and expand my creative skills in photography and photo editing, and I have continued to show up for the Five Minute Friday writing challenge.
What I’m Reading
It turns out there are different types of readers and I happen to fit the category of an Escapist. Maybe if I did Modern Mrs Darcy ‘What’s Your Reading Personality?‘ quiz at another stage in my life it would come out differently, but looking at this month’s reading choices, I think it’s pretty accurate.
Veronica Mars: Mr Kiss and Tell (Jennifer Graham, Robert Thomas)
There is something about these books that make them really easy to read (whether or not you have watched the show, because I still haven’t). Great pace, interesting characters, complex backdrop of politics and justice concerns, great unravelling of plot. This story deals with heavy themes, though in a relatively non-gratuitous way. When a woman is left for dead after a horrible sexual assault and accuses a hotel employee, Veronica is hired to clear the Neptune Grand’s name and sets upon a complicated journey of following the leads… wherever they may take her.
Summer’s Child (Diane Chamberlain)
This was my first Diane Chamberlain book, borne out of a desire to read more authors who are like Liane Moriarty. The story revolved around the mystery of a newborn baby left on the beach and the web of relationships that become affected when someone attempts to uncover the truth many years later. I thought the book was well done overall, with a relatively complex plot with an ending that I hadn’t predicted. My reservations are to do with the fleshing out of the setting and location – I didn’t feel as if I really got a grasp of the place and it felt a little empty somehow, as though there wasn’t really a thriving world beating underneath the story. The characters were mostly well-constructed, but I just didn’t really ever get into the book for some reason.
Brass Ring (Diane Chamberlain)
On the whole I enjoyed this book more than Summer’s Child as I felt like the story was more developed and the characters more nuanced. The overarching idea of the novel revolves around repressed memories, childhood abuse, infidelity, marital relationships and disabilities. Ultimately, I just didn’t buy the way that the characters acted in order to sort their stuff out. I felt like there were a few issues with the timing of past incidents which led to a few plot holes. I also didn’t feel like the Randy story line resolved believably. On the whole it was a good diversion but nothing I would really recommend or rave about.
You can follow along with my book reviews on Goodreads.
What I’m Watching
The Great British Baking Show (Season 1)
I know this has been around for a while, but I just discovered it and love it. The people are so great, the recipes incredibly inventive and I feel so inspired to bake after watching it. I love that the show’s format doesn’t require the contestants to completely give up their lives and that they get the chance to practice at home throughout the week. Great if you just want to switch off a little but it comes with a warning – you may feel very hungry while watching!
Billions (Season 1)
Dave and I are finding this show very fascinating at the moment. Billionaire Bobby Axelrod’s character is so well conceived and the rivalry between him and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades is compelling. Some of the content is a little more graphic than we feel comfortable with, but the overarching story is hooking us in. It is nice to have a show that we both look forward to watching.
I may be missing something, but I thought this movie was terrible. It felt like it was written by some drop-kick who had little experience with parenting other than the cliches, and just wanted to get off on watching mums go wild. Sure, motherhood is hard and we put ourselves under far too much pressure, but is it really the solution to screech around corners in a fancy car with no seatbelts, drink yourself to death and talk about dicks every second sentence? Definitely wasn’t impressed at all with this one, in case you can’t tell.
Friends From College (Season 1)
I’m a bit mixed on this show. It did initially draw me in as the characters were very interesting and the whole idea that we return to being a certain way around people that we grew up with is true to some extent. On the whole the show was relatively diverting but the plot resolution around Ethan’s novel felt very unbelievable and I didn’t think the motivation behind Lisa’s choices were developed enough as to allow you to feel much sympathy for her. Most of the characters were so self-centred and self-destructive that it was difficult to like them and Marianne’s character was disappointingly one-dimensional. Also, I dislike that the show revolved around infidelity. Episode 7 almost made me completely stop watching as it was just awful – explicitly and unnecessarily crude, the language overtly offensive and no one even being remotely likeable. At the end of it I feel like it is not a series I would recommend as it just didn’t really ever get off the ground.
What I’m Listening To
I’m still loving this podcast and learning so much every time I listen. The people that Srini interviews are dynamic, fascinating, incredible creatives and have done some amazing things with their energy and resources. The more I listen, the more I’m convinced that it is possible for anyone to do big things if they pursue their passions with dedication, imagination and wholeheartedness. This month’s listening was with Steven Kotler ‘The Neuroscience of Flow’, Graham Hill ‘The Profound Power of Living Small’, Erik Van Alstine ‘The Power of Perceptual Intelligence’, Bushra Azhar ‘Foundations of Persuasion’, Bob Goff ‘The Art of Living a Noteworthy Life’, Sally Hogshead ‘Creating Work That’s Impossible to Resist’ and Tim Ferriss ‘Making the Impossible Possible’.
The Shauna Niequist Podcast
The best part about this show is the questions that Shauna asks towards the end – questions that seem simple but really reveal so much about the guests – like ‘what five items are always in your pantry’, ‘what are you reading’ and ‘what would you have at your last meal’. This month I listened to the interviews with Jen Hatmaker and Henry Cloud.
The Good Life Project
Didn’t love this podcast as a whole, but got onto it via Susan David’s emails when she said that she had been a guest on the show. Her interview was great and I felt that there were quite a few lines that will stick with me for a long time, like ‘discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life’, and the advice to say to yourself ‘I’m noticing that I’m feeling the urge to be grumpy/irritated/stressed right now‘ rather than just identifying your whole self with that negative emotion. I think it was the fact that the host’s voice reminded me of Topher in Flaked that turned me off?
For those of you who are long time readers… or let’s be honest, even if you just stumbled upon this site, it isn’t a secret that I’m a little obsessed with the Enneagram! This new podcast from Ian Cron is so good – featuring interviews with wholehearted guests who have done their work and who have an intricate understanding of their shadow selves and their strengths as that number as well. So far I have listened to the interview with Rob Bell (quintessential Type 7) and Bob & Maria Goff as they go into what makes a beautifully imperfect marriage of their combined Types of a 7 and a 9. The interview with Rabbi Evan Moffic (Type 3) was so packed with great insights and tips about how to do life well and the conversation with Tsh Oxenreider (another Type 4) was deep and nuanced – absolutely love it!
The Tim Ferriss Show
I stumbled upon Tim Ferriss by listening to his interview on the Unmistakable Creative podcast and I’m hooked on his way of looking at the world. He is such a fascinating guy and collects interesting theories about living well with ease. So far I’ve learned a lot by listening to his Morning Routines and Strategies episode and I intend to listen to a lot more of his shows.
The Simple Show
Wow, I’m loving the ‘Women’s Work’ series that Tsh is doing at the moment. I have been inspired by every single episode that I have listened to so far, even to the extent of suggesting (tongue in cheek, of course) to Dave that we should travel around the world as a family and write stories together like Tania Landin of Around the World Stories has done. I’ve marvelled at the entrepreneurial attitude of Liz Bohannon – founder of Sseko Designs and been impressed by the creativity and dedication of Allison Schaaf of Prep Dish. I found the conversations with Alison Glass and Cat Seto fascinating as well.
This month has been great for Eli. He comes alive with special experiences and holidays and July was packed full of these. At one time I had to pinch myself when he looked up from wiping the kitchen table clean (not a regular occurrence in case you think we have it all sorted) and said “I love cleaning, Mum….because cleaning is love.” He has discovered a heartfelt desire to become a ninja when he grows up (thank to Australian Ninja Warrior) and practices any chance he gets. Eli surprised us all with his incredible self-regulation this month when he made a box of chocolates last for the entire school holidays – keeping it in his room but savouring one a day. I don’t think I could do that!
Ah Hudson. He wakes up in the morning and is on from the moment he opens his eyes, despite how little sleep he had that night. We tried something new by moving him into Eli’s room for bedtimes after he asked his big brother if he could train him how to sleep. It works until about midnight when he wakes up desperate to sleep near Daddy again. Surely this will end eventually…. right? Hudson has been expressing frustration more readily this month and discovered the art of talking back – learning a few choice phrases from Eli and using them liberally. We are still waiting to hear about a date for his surgery. On the positive side, he is such a warm, funny, cheeky boy and he brings such great energy to our family.
Ivy does not cope well with being sick. She has spent the entire month having nightly coughing fits and has been almost permanently attached to our sides whenever we go anywhere, regularly asking for cuddles and to sit on our laps. There have been some good moments though – she loves learning about who bought her whatever piece of clothing she is wearing and has discovered how exciting it is to have painted nails. I’m really looking forward to hearing her ‘non-whingey’ voice again though. I don’t think I can remember what that sounds like.
What can I say about Harvey? He is such a calm, sweet, happy baby and will give a wide grin to anyone he catches sight of. He adores his brothers and sister and has started laughing heaps. I have a suspicion that he might be a bit of an extrovert. We have started using the Jolly Jumper and the first moment he used it was pretty priceless when Eli, Hudson and Ivy gathered around to marvel at his newfound skill. I had to transition all of the day feeds to a bottle after going on strong medication but he took it all in his stride and has been absolutely fine. With school drop offs and pick ups I have to transition him in and out of the car but he has been great at going back to sleep despite the constant sleep interruptions. He really has just slotted in so well.
So many happy memories made this month…
We celebrated Eli’s birthday Super Mario style:
Had a woodfired pizza night with friends:
Took a jaunt to Camberwell so that I could see an ENT and the kids could explore a new playground:
I took Eli on a special date to La Baguette:
Went to IKEA:
Picked up takeaway from House of Burgers and went to the playground:
As for the rest of the month there were countless birthday parties, crazy hour dinners, Wednesday night catch ups, Monday night sleepovers, the kids sharpened their ninja skills at the playground and we visited Cafe Kelly for freshly baked scones and aromatic coffee. Whew!
I’m looking forward to August, turning 33 and hopefully hosting a winter cocktail party at some stage!