From some of our photos this month, you would have no idea that we are about to dive into summer. The weather has been miserable, with a few sunshiny moments pushing through. At least I haven’t had to water the garden too much. Our strawberries have been exploding – giving us a decent bowl full of juicy, red fruit every couple of days. I have planted heaps of tomato and basil seedlings and I’m looking forward to creating homemade pizza sauces when the crop is forthcoming.
Writing-wise, it took at least a fortnight to come off the hangover left over from the #Write31Days challenge. Evenings entailed an iced chocolate (with lots of ice-cream) sitting in front of a show with Dave. Not a bad way to spend a relaxing evening, but it didn’t leave me with much to show for this month! I’m still plodding along with the novel and enjoying the research I’m doing into Tudor feasts and meals. On the blog front, I delved deep into childhood memories to work out whether I am in fact a people-pleaser, questioned whether my expectations in parenting were helping or hindering my kids, took a moment to enjoy pressing the pause button and had my mind blown by physics in relation to the idea of self-control.
We got some great news this month with Dave being accepted as a candidate for his PhD, looking into the issue of how humans learn to live virtuously. He has put in so much work already with reading thousands of pages of texts, honing his proposal down to a mere 20 pages and setting out his format for the project. He won’t brag on his own behalf, but the feedback from his presentation was exceptional with the Professors indicating that his proposal was of an incredibly high standard. I was just a little bit proud of him!
Almost half way through the pregnancy now, cannot believe how quickly this is going. We get to find out whether the baby is a boy or a girl next week and I can’t wait! First pregnancy selfie at 18 weeks. I think I probably would have had a whole ream of film dedicated to pregnancy shots for the first… How things change.
As for the rest of the month, we totally jumped the gun on Christmas by putting up our tree in mid-November and have been listening to Christmas music a fair bit already (not going to regret that at all… ) I’m trying to get all my Christmas shopping done by early December but not quite there yet. I’m a little bit of a sucker for this time of year, as you might be able to tell. I just love the merriment, celebration and anticipation that comes along with the season.
What I’m Reading
One in a Million Boy (Monica Wood)
I may not be very popular in admitting this, but I just didn’t really resonate with this book. I found the writing style a little clunky and hard to disappear into, the jumping between characters jarring, the refusal to name ‘the boy’ as distancing rather than endearing, and I kept waiting for the story to ‘start’. The character of Ona (the 104 year old lady) was interesting, but not ground-breaking other than to dispel any myths held in one’s mind that ‘old people are people too’. I’m well aware that this isn’t a widely held view, so please tell me if you loved the book – what am I missing? One problem could be that I was mistakenly expecting a book like ‘Wonder’ by R.J Palaccio, so that probably didn’t help at all.
Very Married (Katherine Willis Pershey)
This is the second book on marriage that I have read in the last little while (the previous being Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton) but I’m really appreciating the memoir style that both of these books exhibit. I find that I learn so much more intrinsically from other’s stories than just picking up a book filled with principles. Pershey is a good writer and conveys her story of marriage ups and downs with brave vulnerability and authenticity. The way she delves into emotional connections outside of marriage and the struggle of fidelity was well handled and something that is not often talked about frankly. A compelling, honest account of the struggles and joys of marriage and the profound joy that can be unleashed if both parties are willing to do the battles required for a healthy relationship.
The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert)
I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. The writing on the whole was well executed, though I do think the book could have been a lot shorter. I lost interest at various points in the narrative and felt the setting at White Acre was too confining for too long a period. Initially, the storyline of Henry Whittaker was compelling and interesting and I wanted to see how things would turn out, but I didn’t really warm to the character of Alma. There was just a bit too much languishing and sexual frustration in the book. Otherwise, the theory of the ‘signature of all things’ was interesting and I enjoyed learning more about botany and the historical setting of the time. Just didn’t quite come together in the way that I hoped, I guess….and I never, ever want to hear the word ‘quim’ again.
What I’m Watching
This show is part of the reason that November seemed to fly by without a lot to show for it on my end! For the uninitiated, it is a drama centering around the life of Queen Elizabeth II, beginning just before her ascendency to the throne. As always, Netflix created shows seem to be so well done. The costuming, settings and shots are all so compelling and I think Claire Foy does an excellent job at portraying Her Majesty. Dave and I are finding the history and the drama quite interesting, though I find I can’t watch too many episodes in a week because of the almost dour feel of the show.
My interest on this one is well and truly waning. After many discussions on why this just isn’t hitting it for us anymore, Dave and I have decided that there are too many other more deep and well done political/CIA dramas (West Wing, Scandal, House of Cards, Homeland) that this one just comes across as cotton candy. The show just lacks depth and good writing. I don’t think we’ll be wasting any more time on this one.
I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir a while back and (mostly) enjoyed her account of ‘finding herself’ again (despite my severe lack of interest in hiking). The movie seemed to be a good retelling of the story and it was good to be able to picture the settings that Strayed travelled through while being brave enough to visit the places in her mind that she never wanted to explore. The film didn’t really grip me or make me want to proclaim that everyone else should go and watch it, but I did find it interesting. There are some confronting scenes in there for those who are sensitive to strong content.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Having been a long term Gilmore Girls fan (though not as hardcore as some) I was happy when I heard there were plans to release a revival season. I’m only one episode in so far, but I am enjoying getting back on the ride. Hearing Lorelai talk in a current way about Marie Kondo, Dan Barber and Uber is so weird but very funny. It really does feel in a lot of ways as if a decade just flew by and they are exactly the same characters that we know and love. I’m looking forward to watching the remainder of the season.
What I’m Listening To
Overall, I’m really enjoying the format and pace of this show, with its focus on storytelling and science. I absolutely loved the ‘How to Become Batman’ and ‘Flip the Script’ episodes (which consequently inspired two blog posts: Invisible Weapons and The Science of Self-Control), and found the ‘Entanglement’ and ‘Power of Categories’ episodes mildly interesting. The ‘Personality Myth’ episode frustrated me only because I just kept wanting them to bring up the Enneagram, which they never did. Dave differed in his opinion because he thought it was meant to be about ‘where the person resides’ which is more of a philosophical question, but I think using the term ‘personality’ for this is very misleading.
The Simple Show
I am enjoying the format to this show and the conversations that occur between Tsh and the rotating co-hosts. I listened to ‘Very Married’, ‘Anything You Want + Sense & Sensibility’ and ‘Home Style + Personality’.
I only listened to one of these podcasts this month – Leonard Mlodinow on ‘Randomness and Choice’ but I thoroughly enjoyed this one, finding fascinating insights in the field of physics that I had never considered before.
TED Radio Hour
‘How We Love’ was an interesting look into the science behind falling in love, dating and familial love and the way the brain responds in each of these situations. I find this a good way to discover TED talks that one might want to listen to in more depth.
What Should I Read Next?
Always on the look out for more books to read, so this podcast is invaluable. I listened to the episodes with Sarah Stewart Holland and ‘The books we can’t wait to read this fall’.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
This isn’t one of my favourite podcasts, but you can usually count on there being at least one tip in there that will help you do life better. The episode Plan an Errand Date was a great idea for spending time with people and getting stuff done and Consider the Essential Seven focused around the seven main areas that people consider when setting up new habits.
Straight & Curly
Another great resource for tips on doing life well. I listened to Planning out a week and came away with a few good ideas about how to streamline our systems.
After enduring a number of months of emotionally volatile Eli, it is so nice to be able to report that he is well and truly emerging from the rage cloud. We received a comprehensive Transition Report from Eli’s Kinder and he is navigating the boundaries and expectations of behaviour there so well. We were most proud of the line that mentioned that he actively tries to comfort the other kids if they are sad or distressed. Turns out that maybe some of the qualities we are trying so hard to reinforce just might be sinking in after all. In fact, Eli has gone from being the most difficult to incredibly mature at times, even helping me when I was losing it at Hudson and Ivy for flooding the playroom with water from their drink bottles (“Calm down, Mum, calm down! They didn’t mean to do it!”). The big shift from Kinder to school has begun and Eli is loving his experience so far (particularly his brand new uniform).
A new Hudson has emerged this month – one who descends often into rich imaginative games usually involving a mixture of fire engines, transformers and cars. He is getting better at storytelling and playing games with Eli, even introducing his own ideas of how the game might unfold. He and Ivy make me smile a lot when they play together – coming out holding hands and walking slowly to different rooms together – going to work, sleeping, making dinner. I still haven’t managed to convince him that Ivy’s name is not ‘Girl’ though.
Ivy is a force of cuteness and determination. She has commandeered the corner of the play room for her Barbies, dolls and teddies and she can often be found there putting them in and out of the Barbie car, cooking dinner, and putting her shoes on them. She comes out with the funniest lines sometimes, calling out ‘Yoo hoo’ to find you and ‘Ta Da’ when she has done something she thinks is impressive. Already I have to reason strongly with this one, convincing her that my plan is the best option if I want her to cooperate. Turns out being a lawyer is good preparation for parenting.
After last month’s sequestering due to random illnesses, it was so lovely to be able to do life with people around us again. We descended upon our neighbours’ house for Cup Day celebrations, surrendering to the goodness of their massage chair and completely overwhelming them with our kid craziness. I enjoyed our monthly Real Housewives of Aspect catch up at the Club where, as usual, we were the last women standing in the whole venue as we delved into all kinds of topics from politics and the Trump win, parenting, families and generational differences. A great group of ladies we have, I must say.
We took to Taco Bill one night to celebrate Dave’s PhD success and Eli’s Transition Report:
Celebrated one of Eli’s great friend’s sixth birthday:
Threw a Greek Feast to christen our new tables:
Went along to watch Eli the Innkeeper at his first Christmas Concert:
Enjoyed our annual tradition of hot chocolate during The Polar Express:
Bought a woodfired pizza oven for our deck (now we just have to learn how to master it):
Went along to a bonfire night at a stunning property in Healesville (but had to leave before the big bonfire was lit unfortunately):
As for the rest of the month, there were playdates and crazy hour dinners, many dinners on the deck, catch ups with friends with refreshingly frank conversations about life and marriage and chance meetings with ninja turtles. A time of richness, community, connection and great food. One couldn’t really ask for more.