What I’m Into: June 2017

Chest x-rays, CT scans, blood tests, nasal swabs… when June began I didn’t realise it would involve so much of a focus on my health. I have struggled with ongoing colds and infections for about four months now, and during the month of June my voice vanished…and it didn’t really come back for four weeks. Even now I still sound like someone with a pack a day habit. There haven’t really been any answers yet (apart from the fact that a nasty bug has taken up residence) but at least I can rule out pneumonia and lung disease. We also found out that Harvey has hip dysplasia, the third in a row of our kids with such a condition. Ah well, at least we know what we are in for now. Oh and I had a minor car accident… Fun times.

As for the rest of the month, we have muddled through with life going on underneath the hum of appointments, drop offs, pick ups and nap times.  Eli celebrated his sixth birthday and suddenly seems so grown-up (when he isn’t hissing at his brother and sister to try and control them into following obscure rules for one of his games, that is).

What I’m Reading

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Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty)
I don’t know whether it was because I listened to this story in the middle of the night, or whether it was just simply brilliantly written, but I totally wanted to move to the Pirriwee Peninsula after reading it.  I would make a beeline for Blue Blues Cafe, deeply inhale the scent of coffee, baked goods and old books, and settle into a comfortable armchair to write. The characters, as always, are perfectly conceived – the quietly steely Celeste, spunky Madeline, apprehensive Jane… Moriarty’s writing enabled me to picture these women as if I had met them before. I ended up guessing pretty early on what the twist would be, but it in no way diminished my enjoyment of the experience – instead I found delight in witnessing the mastery of Moriarty’s weaving of the threads and the introduction of red herrings. Perfection.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story (Liane Moriarty)
Moriarty has some kind of exceptional spell that she casts to enable the reader to feel empathy for the strangest of characters in this book. A stalker. Except she doesn’t even feel that strange, she could be anyone, she could even be me. Or so you might feel after reading this fascinating book. I love the way that Moriarty weaves in elements of mindfulness and hypnotherapy throughout, as well as her always insightful and nuanced look at family, relationships, motherhood and friendship. A great read and well-executed as usual. I’m very sad that I have come to the end of the available books for this author.

What I’m Watching

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So it turns out that feeding throughout the night has a side benefit – you get to catch up on all the shows and movies you always wanted to see…

Flaked (Season 2)
The character of Cooler has to be one of the best I’ve seen in a long while – his perpetual optimism, quoteable quotes and accidental pearls of wisdom are perfectly conceived. This season focuses on Chip’s downfall from grace after his selling out of the Venice community to hotel developers. It is so fascinating to see how he handles the change in fortunes as a Type 3 on the Enneagram – always trying to keep up appearances despite everything turning rather glum. I’m not quite sure why I enjoy this show so much, but I just find the pace of it so refreshing, the script perfectly understated and the setting rather attractive.

Doctor Strange
I’ll be honest and say that I have no background of knowledge regarding this character in the Marvel universe, but I did enjoy the film. It took a while for me to get my head around Benedict’s American accent, but when I eventually did, I thought his character was well played and the story was interestingly executed. I liked the focus more on the philosophical underpinnings of the universe rather than the usual action-based offering. Tilda Swinton is an exceptional actor and an interesting choice for the Ancient One (despite the controversy). Worth watching.

Downton Abbey (Season 6)
It was nice to finish my jaunt in 1920s swiftly changing England, though I did feel as if the family were a bit forlorn as the series finished (compared to the grandeur of the opening season), which I understand was intentional given the balance of power shifting after the war. It was nice to see Edith’s story developed a little more though overall it did feel as if something was missing – a character or intrigue perhaps – from the season. Daisy’s evolution as a character left me cold and I found myself liking her less and less as time went on. Other than that, I really enjoyed the entire series (but I’m glad they didn’t labour on for another season).

Big Little Lies (Season 1)
You would think, after my review of the book above, that this would rank in my top shows… Maybe it is my absolute affection for the book that has rendered it not so. I felt like the numerous changes that the show made were not to its advantage, and the completely dark/creepy/sinister/raunchy tone was so unlike the satire of the book. In addition, the attractive Australian flavour is stripped away and replaced with the soulless, filthy-rich Monterey beach crowd… which seems so unlike the characters in the book. Reese Witherspoon gives a feisty performance of (a much-altered) Madeline, but the other actors seemed ill-suited to their parts, particularly Jane Chapman’s character. Not quite what I was expecting. Perhaps I should have left it a little longer before watching.

The Dressmaker
This movie threw me… I understand that it is based on a book, so the plotline wouldn’t have confused those who came to it via this starting point, but the change of pace in the story from comedy to tragedy left me a little stunned. Kate Winslet is incredible in the role of Tilly Dunnage and her accent is perfect, as is her camaraderie with Judy Davis as Mad Molly. The two of them had me in stitches with their banter and antics. I’m coming to really love and appreciate the Australian flavour to life at the moment – the dark humour, the quirky characters, the unassuming people. It has ignited in me a deep fondness for this unique homeland of ours. Definitely worth a watch, if only for the the incredible costumes in almost every scene. If only it was acceptable (and practical and affordable) to dress like that every day.

The Shack
I’m a little torn on this one. I found the concepts and ideas to be compelling (though not particularly groundbreaking after having listened to a lot of Richard Rohr) but the whole flavour of the film was just a little too cheesy for me. Great if you want to reimagine how traditional religion has set up the general understanding of how to view the Divine, but frustrating for its execution and casting choices. I should mention that I haven’t read the book, though I would like to, if only to see if the text has a little more depth.

La La Land
So much hype surrounded the release of this film and I was curious to see why. The film certainly had an overwhelmingly nostalgic flavour and I enjoyed the music that was sprinkled throughout. I felt like Ryan Gosling’s character changed a little inexplicably – from brash and confident to a little more unassuming, and Emma Stone was powerful in all parts except for the solos. The film was definitely a homage to a past era of Los Angeles, cinema and musicals but on its own it just felt like there was something missing. Worth a watch, but I don’t know if I would be revisiting it as a classic.

Cars 3
Ever since Eli was little, the Cars franchise has been a big part of our lives. Cars was his first official film that he watched and we avidly collected the little characters in both movies, with hours upon hours spent lining them up and re-enacting the scenes. We saw the latest instalment at the Drive-In and the whole family absolutely loved it. There were great moments of humour, the plot was well-developed and so emotionally insightful as to the nature of meaning and purpose in our lives. It did feel like Mater didn’t get much of a look in as a main character, but he dominated Cars 2 so maybe that was a good thing. In some ways it felt like the proper sequel to the first movie, as it delved right back to the well-conceived story that won over kids and adults everywhere. Definitely worth a watch. I know we will be enjoying it again and again.

What I’m Listening To

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Unmistakable Creative
I have found a new favourite podcast. I simply cannot get enough of these incredible interviews with insightful people. The passion and creativity with which they convey their ideas is intoxicating. I have listened to the interviews with Dr Srini Pillay ‘The Power of the Unfocused Mind’ and ‘The Neuroscience of Goals’, Tom Sterner ‘The Power of Being Fully Engaged’, Sid Mohasseb ‘Evolving into the Best Version of Yourself’, Christine Comaford ‘Building Smart Tribes’, Tamsen Webster ‘Telling Powerful Stories in a Short Amount of Time’, Scott Cramton ‘The Power of Immersive Experience’, and Elizabeth DiAlto ‘The Art of Courageous Conversations’. Well worth a scroll through the countless interviews to see what topic resonates with you.

On Being with Krista Tippett
I was so excited to learn that Krista had interviewed Richard Rohr and made a beeline to download the episode. Having listened to and read Richard Rohr extensively, it wasn’t perhaps groundbreaking or new, but always good to hear him talk and absorb his insights about religion, the true self and the path to fulfilment.

10 Minute Writer’s Workshop
This was a new find for me, discovered through Scraping Raisins, and I loved the short nature of the episodes and found myself inspired by all the authors I listened to – Tana French, Krista Tippett, Ian Rankin, and Emma Donoghue.

The Kids

Eli

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Eli has discovered the magic of reading. We heard about The Magic Treehouse series and he has been making his way through his first chapter book, enjoying sounding out the words and waiting to see what will happen next. He has developed a rather quick wit which he uses liberally, particularly in response to us telling him off for things. I mistakenly let him buy some Lynx deodorant when we were grocery shopping together and now his room smells like it houses a teenager. With that and the newfound requirement for hair wax I wonder if my newly six year old is actually sixteen sometimes… particularly when he comes home trying to play ‘Truth or Dare’ with us. Eli has also discovered an obsession for soccer and two-square.

Hudson

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Hudson is obsessed with Harvey. He would play with him all day if he could, his favourite question at the moment is ‘can I see his eyes?’. We got accepted into the National Disability Insurance Scheme this month, which will hopefully provide him with continued support for getting ready for school, including speech therapy and occupational therapy. At Kinder he is thriving with his own friendships, one morning I watched as he enthusiastically initiated a group hug with two other friends, sending them all tumbling to the mat in a (happy) tangle. Hudson drew his first person this month and it was a very proud moment for all of us. He is still enjoying the sports program that he attends with his grandparents and we celebrated when he got an Achievement Award.

Ivy

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There is something quite magical about the stage Ivy is in at the moment. She comes out with the funniest lines (emphatically confusing ‘Piss Off’ for ‘Blast Off’) sending us into secret fits of laughter. Sometimes her humour is quite satirical and I wonder how much she really understands! Eli’s school work is rubbing off on her and she is constantly trying to get us to sound out words… though she gets a little mixed up at times (“say ‘eh, eh, eh Playschool”). If one of her brothers tries something you will definitely hear her say in a stern voice “don’t even think about it!”. On the flip side, she is so sweet and loves cuddles, drawing, playing with barbies and dress-ups and still leaves a trail of shoes around the house depending on what mood she is in and which pair she decides to switch to.

Harvey

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It is so nice when you get to that stage where they ‘talk’ back. Harvey could spend hours cooing, gurgling and smiling his dimpled smile back at whoever is closest and looking at him. When no one is near I have even seen him beam a smile to the kitchen drawer as the chaos glides around him in his bouncer. He isn’t that settled a sleeper during the day but the nights have been quite manageable so I’m definitely not complaining.

Our Adventures

June has been a quiet month on the adventure front… The colder weather has meant we have spent more time indoors staying warm. There have been some memorable moments though, including playdates, parties and a crazy hour dinner with our great friends. It was so nice to get back into hosting dinner again.

Dave took the boys Bush Dancing one evening, which I was very sad to miss out on. I have many fond memories of Bush Dancing when I was young.

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We all braved the Drive-In to see Cars 3 and it was surprisingly a hit! Harvey slept through most of it and it was so awesome to be able to see a movie that we have been all waiting to see for so long in a special environment.

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Eli celebrated his sixth birthday and we have a Super Mario party planned for his school class. Our house is in the process of being transformed at the moment, cakes being baked, food prepared.

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As for the rest of the month, there were lots of fun, crazy, chaotic moments that made up what we know to be ‘normal’ life. Looking forward to a family holiday in July and lots of family birthdays to celebrate.

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This piece is part of a link up with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer.

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