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What I’m Into (September 2016)

So i’ve been meaning to link up with Leigh Kramer’s monthly ‘What I’m Into’ series for ages and I finally got organised enough to make it.

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This has been the summer of long, sunny days in Luton, of spending every day with two tiny children which has been especially intense because at the same time Andy has been battling a whole load of health challenges. And to deal with this we have watched a lot of The Mentalist.

The only big news is that after 12 years I resigned from my job at Tearfund. I won’t be returning after maternity leave. So I am unemployed, as of the end of this month, and looking for new opportunities to do meaningful work for money. I could write a book about those 12 years and how much I’ve changed through being part of Tearfund (now there’s an idea…). It was a gloriously accidental and extraordinary path to have taken. But it has ended (or will do, once I have returned to eat cake and say goodbye).  As you might expect I have been trying to make plans for my future direction in life. I’ll keep you posted.

Reading

I read a lot in July (a lot for this particular season of life…), and not so much in August. LM Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon brought me a lot of joy. And I was inspired by How to be here by Rob Bell (mostly about how to start with a small step in the right direction, and to never stop exploring what I’m meant to be doing). Despite having already watched the film (and therefore found out the ending), I read Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín on the recommendation of someone in my bookclub and I totally loved it. Beautiful, compelling, moving, thoughtful. I might try another Tóibín soon. And then I read Dibs by Virginia Axline which is all about play therapy and how children journey towards self-realisation in the context of emotional pain. It maybe sounds a bit full-on but it was beautiful, thought-provoking and I cried several times. July’s last read was The Offering by Grace McCleen which was surprising and strange and interesting. Right now I’m reading Khalid Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, and  trying to finish The Moonstone (still).

Podcasts

I do love a good podcast but the amount of time I can listen before small children drown them out is strictly limited. Liz Gilbert’s series, Magic Lessons is back and is awesome and inspiring, especially in a season of trying to work out what to do with my life post-Tearfund. I dip into Rob Bell’s Robcast, and The West Wing weekly, and Tsh Oxenreider’s The Simple Show. Oh, and I often listen to Modern Mrs Darcy’s What Should I Read Next and scribble down lots of book recommendations.

Watching

Like I said, The Mentalist. We’re about to hit the final series which begs the question of what we’ll do afterwards. All that we’re good for in the evenings right now is a bit of TV. And I’m not recommending The Mentalist as the greatest show ever, but someone lent us all 7 seasons and it’s easy to watch. Thankfully Bakeoff and Poldark are back on terrestrial TV. I haven’t been to the cinema in forever but I did finally catch Spotlight which I really enjoyed.

Things I love

These 9 months of maternity leave (I can’t believe that 8 months of it have passed by) have been possible (I’m talking about my sanity levels here) because of a lot of time spent with family and I am extremely excited that it will continue in the next few months. None of our family are especially near by so it’s not like we see them weekly…but we’ve managed to see my folks every month, and we Skype Northern Ireland several times a week. We’re about to go away on holiday with my parents and my brother’s family which fills my heart with great joy. Hello cousins entertaining one another. Hello grandparents available 24/7. HELLO LIE-INS (a couple at least).

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Also, if I’m giving credit where it’s due I should give a big shout out to coffee and wine. Thanks for propping me up. I gave up chocolate in August (I made it to the 30th when it became completely essential to give up before I cracked up) but it’s part of my life again now.

And people of Luton, thanks for all the playdates.

The sunshine has been awesome this month, maybe the nicest August I can remember in the UK (which makes me nervous because our holiday is in September, and maybe we’ve used up all our sunshine credits for the year now…). We discovered beautiful some local picnic spots and have been out on the decking a lot. We even have a paddling pool.

We have a big long garden which we are attempting to transform from a toddler death trap into a beautiful green oasis. (I dream of unleashing the children into it while I lie in a sun lounger reading novels). Only it’s taking forever, so it looks like we won’t be enjoying it till next summer. And obviously I will transform myself into a horticultural goddess by then too.

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Jubilee is properly on the move. In just a few weeks she has begun propelling herself across rooms, and is now totally mobile (yikes). She grunts and groans and pulls herself onto her feet by means of anything she can find that is vaguely stable. It’s a little terrifying as I actually have to think about all the stuff I should keep out of her reach, but joyous none the less. Jesse is unimpressed that she can now reach his toys, but otherwise he still seems to like her. They exhaust me but are completely wonderful.

So there we are, we made it to September and holidays are nearly here!

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The latest from limbo-land

Well, things are pretty crazy here which is partly why there have been so few blogs. I was planning to post this a week ago and then last week happened. (Enough said on that front). It turns out that everything people say about moving house is true. Is it any easier when you’re not pregnant? I will spare you a post full of moaning and limit myself to a paragraph. I feel like we’re stuck in endless limbo with occasional stressful peaks (and did I mention how much I hate limbo?). Living on a building site for three months is not much fun either (they’re re-roofing our whole estate at the moment). The phrase ‘Chinese torture’ was used by a recent visitor to describe the experience. Jesse miraculously naps through everything, despite the fact that builders stand on the roof of his bedroom and hit huge slates with hammers every lunchtime. Meanwhile my nerves are torn to shreds.

A happy moment this past week - a trip to the Summer Pavillion in Hyde Park with some friends.

A happy moment this past week – a trip to the Summer Pavilion in Hyde Park with some friends.

There have been happier moments. We recently got back from a week of holiday up in Cambridge, which brought some welcome relief. I’m still readjusting my holiday-related expectations in light of having a toddler (it turns out all the things I used to do in Cambridge aren’t massively toddler-friendly). We had a ball though. We swam, we played, we dodged bikes. We accidentally crashed freshers’ fair and scooped up a bunch of freebies, including pizza, ice-cream, cookies, pasta sauce and a ‘big ass burrito’ (which was won by my husband’s fine darts-playing skills). In my day all I got was a pineapple which I absent-mindedly left in my wardrobe for the rest of the term until the musty smell drove me to investigate… But it was so good to see so many companies pulling together to encourage positive nutritional choices for today’s students.

We scored a babysitter one night when we were away and made it out for a mini-birthday celebration – burgers, fries and milkshakes at Five Guys (continuing our health trip) and then an outing to the movies to see Macbeth, which I thought was brilliant in loads of ways bit which didn’t have the emotional punch I was expecting. We were also staying in the house of some friends with the most extensive film collection I have ever encountered, so we caught up on a few recent releases – Mr Turner, Suite Française, Captain Phillips…and Andy probably took in a few more after I crashed out each evening. (And did I mention the life-saving joy of lie-ins every other day?!).

On our last evening I managed a solo outing to evensong at Kings College (along with a few hundred others) and had a magical time. Autumn is my favourite season and Cambridge is full of happy memories so I savoured every moment of my stroll through the city.

And otherwise we have been in the usual routines with housing related adventures on the side, and occasional moments of grace in the form of friends and outings. I’m just starting my final trimester, and while the baby still feels like a distant reality, everything is ramping up with pregnancy. I’m really feeling all those stairs. I glug indigestion relief like juice. I find, too, that I have fewer emotional resources with which to face the various domestic challenges which seem to come hurtling my way. I’m trying to be kind to myself, and Andy is trying even harder to be kind to me and look after us all. So we’re ok. I’d just really really like to move house before too much longer.

 

 

 

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