Truly, Madly, Guilty (Liane Moriarty)

Having ventured out of the house early this morning for some fresh air and breakfast while the hubby watched V1 and V2, I’m staying in for their naps. Despite the near perfect weather today I can’t resist sitting down with the current read (not to mention the essential accompaniments!)

A perfect Sunday
Dreamy Sundays

We both deserve a bit of reading downtime this afternoon. Having had a packed Saturday involving an impromptu trip on the ferry (V2 absolutely adored it despite occasional panic at the wind and noisy rudders!) and Vincent was his usual boisterous self, jumping on the seat too close to the edge with us both constantly grabbing and ruining the serenity with the magical two letter word we become so accustomed to as parents. We decided to push our luck with trying a new coffee place highly recommended by some of friends (all without kids so they can actually enjoy a leisurely coffee!) and our gamble didn’t pay. After guzzling our coffees in almost one mouthful and hastily exiting we scurried home for nap time as tempers frayed.

Perhaps it was sheer optimism that saw us drag them both to the shops for groceries – they love outings! After racing through the shop in an attempt to set a record for efficiency, they both lost it simultaneously at the checkout – we’d come so close. It wasn’t entirely without reason as V1’s acrobatics and his attempts to perfect his spins on the bar at the checkout led to a small, but obviously not insubstantial head bump – V2 clearly loves her brother so much she went out in sympathy (or perhaps she loves the attention, I suspect it’s the latter). My husband made a hasty exit with the V1 and his sore cranium  – (NB: this is the kid who everyday responds to ‘what did you do at school?’ with ‘I bumped my head’ so having done the appropriate checks to confirm he was OK we pushed on.)

So today is a quiet one and I’m thankful because I haven’t been able to put this book down. This is of course figurative, and in fact the opposite is more true given the lack of reading time over the last few days.

This, like all of Moriarty’s other brilliant books, is such an exquisite escape. Her characters are just so realistic and they have me feeling like I might (or actually want!) to meet them on the way to my local cafe or park. Their relationships are so complex yet so similar to the things that young families go through each day. The three couples are perfectly balanced between the happy and seemingly carefree wealthy couple (a second marriage) with one child, the childless couple who live with an amazing sense of order and balance (and like to provide advice to those both with and without kids about how to do things a little better) and the young family with two young kids who wonder how on earth they could consistently keep losing only the things the kids actually want and balancing these issues with their other worries such as their careers . Their relationships with each other as friends as well as partners is irrevocably changed following their attendance at an impromptu backyard barbecue, and Moriarty’s choice to jump from past (the day of the barbecue) to present (several weeks following) for each alternating chapter has meant I haven’t been able to turn the pages fast enough. I am fully expectant I will experience the usual remorse and subsequent book hangover as a result of reading too quickly following the conclusion of this one!

I’m loving every minute of it and will sign off now – to try and finish it before the kids wake!!

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What I’m Currently Reading

I sit here in the midst of a rather torrential downpour which has quickly flooded the gutters and down-pipes. It sounds beautiful on the roof with the doors open. Perfect for reading, and since our TV is officially broken and won’t be replaced for at least a week, I’m actually prioritising reading outside of that half hour before sleep time in bed!

The usual time for reading has been interrupted the past few days due to the toothageddon going on in V2’s mouth. Instead of relaxing with a hot coffee and a book, I’ve been sipping my once again cold coffee while intermittently returning to her room optimistically dreaming she will settle and my free time has not been wasted doing the chores – why do we always make the same mistake of cleaning before we relax?

I currently have three books on my bedside table. Jane Eyre, awaiting a re-read. Alain de Botton’s, The Course of Love of which I’m half way through the re-read. The third is Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty.  I’m almost finished my current book so I can make a start and return to that pile which I’m eager to do before I commence this year’s 101. However I will be sad once this one is finished. It is Sarah Wilson’s First, We Make The Beast Beautiful and I’ve been finding it somewhat eye opening.

I must first admit however that it has taken me some time to write this as I’m worried I simply won’t be able to address the seriousness of the topic the book delves into, or do enough justice to the author for her amazing presentation of so much research and experience in this book. (In fact I have sent this post to my twin sister to proof read to be sure of this!)

However, I’ll do my best. I was initially immediately drawn to the beautiful cover (I know we shouldn’t judge by the cover, but this judgement was spot on) which describes it as “a new story about anxiety”. In her work, Sarah Wilson presents an abundance of varying sources and a diverse range of research into what has been thought to be the cause of anxiety; ways it has been suggested to be managed both in the past as well as presently and, most prominently, her own personal experiences with her own anxiety including some suggestions to make the journey through life with anxiety a little smoother.

I found it to be written in such an amazing conversational style with so many pearls of wisdom about, to use the author’s words, the various ‘ironies’ that those with anxiety are faced with one a day to day basis. The whole work is delivered succinctly, but expanded upon appropriately to ensure each pearl sinks in nicely and I found her work did in fact convince me that anxiety is not something of a disorder but rather something to be made ‘beautiful’ for each person (as her title suggests). Her consistently positive tone combined with the vast amount of research convinced me of some of the ways to in fact make each aspect of anxiety a positive and useful part of everyday life and who I am.

It has been such a relaxed read, I have been able to pick it up and put it down often without feeling worried (there it is!) that I had lost my place or that I hadn’t made it to the end of the chapter (something Mums never get to do given our reading time is always interrupted by something more pressing – usually someone arising early from a nap!) and still gaining a greater understanding of anxiety.

Not all of the aspects of the book relate to me. However, as a Mum of 2, I’m a constant worrier about what has been eaten, what hasn’t been eaten, what could be eaten and everything else in between. I’m obsessed with plans, not changing plans, spreadsheets to record plans (just to mention one type of spreadsheet clogging up my computer!) and how best to communicate said plans to others to ensure there aren’t any changes (which just ask my husband, often result in a flat spin into chaos). These are just a few of the things that fill the day. I can safely say the book spoke (and is still speaking!) to me now that I’ve almost finished. As any Mum knows, when you are organising anything involving the children, it is an an enormous challenge and achievement to actually organise something involving the kids. It is almost insurmountable to actually stick to those plans. To be anxious about this is challenging given the almost certainty of an inability to control the outcome. I don’t list these things with the intention of trivialising the issue of what is at the heart of anxiety but I personally find that it is these day to day small worries that creep over me, so I found I experienced a definite lightening (as well as numerous light bulb moments!) to read of others who have researched this hugely common mental condition and to read of suggestions to manage these challenges.

I’m not an expert on anything in this book but feel I’ve learned a lot more about myself, anxiety and how others thrive during challenges and difficult times and can only recommend it to anyone who carries a little more worry, stress, and anxiety than they can handle sometimes.

The Current Favourites for the Kids

I know I haven’t written about what I’m currently reading, but my own reading time has been cut into by an immense amount of cooking and housework (I’m feeling the pinch as my return to work date approaches and I keep thinking I can get ahead with everything- which would of course work if my kids didn’t have such healthy (and messy) appetites!!)

Nevertheless, reading time with the kids has not been in decline but rather, given the poor weather we’ve had, it’s on the increase! Quite enjoyably we have returned back to Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom as the current favourite (he loves watching the movie version almost as much!) and he’s getting very good at reciting his favourite bits. A relatively new book has also moved into the rotation being Bob Darroch’s Time for Bed, Little Kiwi. It’s a lift the flap book (the best kind!) delivering a surprise native NZ animal  on every page (Stewie the Tui is his favourite). However, the little kiwi didn’t hide on the last page so every time we get to the end I am forced to explain that page doesn’t open like the rest as he pleads with me ‘open it, open it’. It’s the little things. It’s a very nice bedtime book, with a nice segway for being told that it is, in fact, time to sleep!

V2 is currently enjoying Dr Seuss’s Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? She loved it so much that this is our second copy. Apparently the first was too delicious to resist. Given it was hardcover, the cover is all that remains of copy #1. Copy #2 may not fare so well given it’s just a flimsy cardboard cover so while I diligently perfect my cow, bumblebee, sausage, horn and clock sounds, amongst other things, V2 diligently snacks her way to the end of the book, one dog ear at a time. (I should clarify that once a few pages have been unceremoniously torn and half consumed, I remove the book from her reach and it is returned to the shelf, as a memento of this time!)

 

Reading to the Kids

My kids have A LOT of books. Sometimes there is a new one here and there that makes it into the inner sanctum of the favourites on rotation however V1 is pretty reliable with his favourites. For those of you who have also read The Gruffalo so many times you’ve begun to give the snake, fox and owl actual personalities and wonder at why they didn’t just snap the mouse up quickly and scuttle away, rereading their favourites can be a tedious thing.

I’ve now discovered there is a light at the end of the Hungry Caterpillar, Room on the Broom, Gruffalo and Thomas speckled tunnel. V1 still loves to read all of these but now he has starting doing the sweetest ‘reading’ himself. He tries to inject a little bit of emotion and excitement as he recites (I say recites because if I can remember it from start to finish, it’s only sensible that so can he!) his favourite bits. It makes the repetition and monotony of reading the same thing day in and out, completely worth it.

While I will revisit a great book perhaps once or twice after the initial read, there are few that I would consider revisiting. This is not the case for kids. It’s amazing to watch V1’s face light up in wonder on every page, even though he knows them inside out and it’s most likely the third time we’ve read the book, in the same sitting. I love that kids can be entertained so easily by the books they love over and over again and can’t wait for him to read his favourites to me, over and over again. Maybe then when he gets to the end of each book I will be just like him and issue the request – ‘again?’.

To Dog Ear or Not to Dog Ear

I’m a strict no dog ear kind of a reader. I’m also the one you see squinting at a barely open book trying to read it because I don’t want to crease the spine.

I’m now beginning to see the merits of the dog ear. Since V2 has commenced crawling she finds my books easily. She’s quite partial to a chew and flip through. Apparently she likes Bronte because she’s chewed through more than a few corners. So. If she eats the corner, does it matter if I dog ear it before she devours it? If I just dog eared it, it would save me the hassle of every day once again finding the page I was up to because my bookmark is almost constantly never where I left it – that is, in the book.

What do you think? Is a dog ear and a creased spine a sign of engagement of the book? Or are bookmarks a must?

Book Shopping… With a Little One

I know I’m not the only one that gets almost as much joy out of shopping for books as I do reading them. However, since the little ones have come along book shopping has become one of those wish list activities that you do when you’re feeling really brave. It now belongs in the same category as bra shopping, going to the Dentist and drinking a cup of tea that is actually still hot. It’s nice to be able to do, but let’s face it – the realities of such a task requires a LOT of forward planning.

Looking back on my day, I now realise that grouping three of the above activities into the one day may have been overly optimistic. But I had scheduled the Dentist and had Dad booked to babysit the V2 for the appointment. V1 was safely at daycare so I traipsed the 40 min train ride into the city to really make a meal out of the trip.

It was before I had even reached the city where I encountered the first problem. Train stations without lifts. After awkwardly carrying poor V2 lopsided down the stairs (she loves her pasta and cheese and it’s really adding to the weight of the pram!) I was grateful for the momentary reprieve before the train arrived. She, however, wasn’t. She doesnt appreciate being stationary in the pram for longer than a couple of minutes so we had no sooner boarded the train when the ‘I really need to sleep, but there’s so much to look at’ cries commenced. After 5 mins of ‘shh, shh, shh’ and rocking the pram as best I could, the gazes of my fellow passengers were becoming a little too accusing. To be fair, I’m pretty sure none of them cared at all, but as a Mum with a crying little one you do start to think that everyone is looking at you when they meltdown so I gave her the cuddle she needed and let her pass out on my shoulder. Somewhat miraculously I managed to get her back into the pram, buckled up and off to Dad’s office and back from the Dentist without her even waking. Lucky for Dad!

She of course awoke as soon as she heard my voice when I got back to his office, so we had a quick morning tea break followed by my guzzling a too hot coffee (it’s either cold or boiling – I can’t win!) and we bravely set off for Dymocks. With a slight detour at 2 shops along the way (I had an enormous shopping list!) I soon realised the error of my ways.

Always, always, always go straight to the shop in which you are wanting to spend the most time. I wasted the 5 minutes of good mood she was capable of giving me while browsing for handbag size combs and pretty head bands for her at Priceline. By time I got to Dymocks I was utilising the pram as nothing more than a rather fancy bag carrier. It made browsing rather challenging. And I was very much questioning the virtue of my selfless act of ensuring she was asleep for Dad’s babysitting shift while I was at the Dentist.

After 20 minutes of me pleading with her to stay calm, stop dropping her rusk and stop trying to show off her gymnastics abilities by throwing herself backwards at every opportunity, I arrived at the counter to pay for 3 books (thankfully I had browsed online, as browsing in store is just not an option these days), 4 cards and some beautiful wrapping paper. She promptly scrunched the wrapping paper as I passed it over – good thing I was buying it. She tried to throw in a heap of extra purchases all within arm’s reach of where we were standing. When I tried to put her back into the pram so I could at least take the bag from the kind staff member serving me, she put up such a fight that I ended up covered in sweat and a fellow shopper offered assistance carrying my bags for me so I could have more hands to wrestle her into the pram. Several back arches later, a few indignant faces and a couple of screams close to my ear and she was latched in, very unimpressed. It was then that I was actually able to take a look at her face and realised she had mashed the rusk all around her face – and so the guilty parent feeling began to amplify. She was hot, bothered, bored of shopping and to add to it all she had food all over her face.

I was desperate to get home as fast as possible but V2 lulled me into a false sense of security by quieting down just as I walked past my favourite lingerie shop. Desperate for some new bras I dashed in, asked for anything in my size that I could quickly try to check it was still correct and then do a cry free online order from home. While she cried in the doorway of the change room (it was open so any passers-by got more than they bargained for that day!) I hopelessly requested assistance from the store attendants only to be ignored 3 times. I quickly put everything back on and sprinted out as fast as I could, still uncertain of sizing and very certain of the crumbling nature of my sanity and patience.

I breathed a sigh of relief as we arrived at the station on time for the train, only to miss it by 1 minute due to a rather sluggish lift at the station. After melting a bit more on the platform waiting for the train I realised that a 2-hour outing to the city involving coffee with the hubby, shopping for books, bras and birthday presents was simply not as much fun as it sounded and the fact that I was suddenly desparate for a bathroom only reinforced the thought.

I realise this was probably all avoidable if I didn’t attempt to overreach with so many tasks in the one day. But I very much believe in being optimistic about what we can achieve with the kids (and since I am currently on parental leave, I don’t get into the city very often so I try to capitalise!). Even if it means that almost every time you do brave an activity, be it a shopping trip, a dinner out or letting them crack the eggs for the cake you are making together, it’s better to have the faith in them and deal with the issues later. Practice makes perfect!  And if I didn’t try, I’d never get to visit Dymocks and online shopping for books is just not the same thing as browsing in store!

 

About Me and My Family

I’m a 30 something married mum of 2. I say 30 something as I’m quite prone to forgetting my age. Not in the ‘I can’t believe I’m over 30 kind of way’ but in the ‘did I actually have a birthday last year?’ kind of way. I know the kids did because I’ve once again purchased a raft of toys that I’ve already attempted to re-home, but did I have a birthday?’. My eyes say ‘yes’. My hair says ‘yes’. My energy levels say ‘Hell, yes’. Thankfully I have a twin sister who, when listening to my suggestion that we have a big 31st birthday to make up for the absent 30th, dutifully reminds me that it is in fact our 32nd year. Que gasp. Never fear, age is a state of mind, so they say, and since we, as Mums, very rarely have time to be in any other state of mind than that of the utter chaos of managing the kids, the house and the husband, it’s no surprise I often forget the state of mind which reminds me of my age.

It follows as only necessary that I find a new way to measure my time (outside of loads of washing, nappy changes, housework and finding the socks the washing machine simply had to devour) in books. I’ve selected the Dymocks 101, because if I’m honest, (and my husband will most definitely confirm this) I’m indecisive. Not with the kids, not with the dinner, the cleaning or most things related to the family, but in pretty much most things that relate to my leisure time (reading, movies, shopping, exercise, whether or not I should devour that fat laden, sugary treat for morning tea or if I should just eat the equivalent calories in nuts and fruit, thereby rendering my diet completely ineffective), I’m hugely indecisive. So, since I undertook the challenge of finishing the list in 2011 and loved the organised nature of knowing which book I would read next, I thought the structure would offset the chaos that prevails at home. It’s nice to have choices delivered right to you by many other book lovers, and as the list isn’t finalised, I am confident to say, I am not yet behind in my reading!

I should also mention I like to read…. a lot.

My better half

He’s a 30 something professional in the Property business who loves reading Fantasy, Fantasy and sometimes when he gets bored of that, Fantasy. He has introduced me to the joys of the genre, but I’ll never understand how he can read the same David Eddings book 8 times. The spines are literally falling off his books. So, while he too is a book lover (let’s face it, we’ve been married for nearly 10 years so he has to share the passion a little), he is of a vastly different ilk.

My kids

Our boy, V1 is 2.5 going on 10 – aren’t they all? He loves his books. Especially when they have trucks in them. Or tractors. Or Bulldozers. Or diggers. Did I mention he likes trucks? He has his favourites and it would seem he is very much like his father as it is a rare day that he allows a new book into his inner sanctum of those favourites. He takes the best ones to school to read to the class. He literally knows them cover to cover for memory so he can ‘read’ to the class. What I’m trying to understand is why this exceptional memory doesn’t apply to what he needs to do after he has taken his pants off to go to the toilet. But if I’m honest, I’m more proud of his ‘reading’ than if he did remember to actually put his pants back on.

Our chubby V2 is a little princess of 10 months. Already partial to her books, she likes anything that sticks up and out, or that she can tear off and eat (I’m literally wincing as I type).