2021… Here is your list

Happy New Year Everyone!

Look… I really feel like I shouldn’t be doing this… making plans, and hoping for a more normal this year, I’m trying not to make a fuss… but here I am writing once again… and I think it’s what I need to be doing especially given that after 61 COVID free days, Melbourne is now hunting down contacts and trying to contain numbers again… I need some things to focus on, and what better thing than a list of plans.

Just like last year I do feel a little bit selfish sitting here and writing a blog about all the things that I am going to/hoping to do this year when so much of the world seems to be stuck in a holding pattern, separated from those they love and in some very very trying circumstances. But despite all that 2020 brought, and the big lessons I learnt about just taking things one day at a time and not making too many concrete plans…. I find myself feeling a little bit hopeful about what 2021 might bring. 2020 was quite a year… but to be honest, for our little family it wasn’t all bad… I learnt a lot about myself, I spent a whole year with Dave and Isaac in amounts of time that I will probably never be able to replicate again and mentally I am in a much better space than I have been in years… which isn’t a bad way to start a new year… and while 2020 didn’t bring any less adjustment, in fact it probably brought a whole lot more uncertainty, this year I am once again hoping there should be less of that, which once again hopefully leaves more space for well used time, growth and learning… so… I have written another list… although it contains mostly things that can be done at home… just in case… it’s my 13th list and Isaac’s 4th… here we go:

I am sure you probably know the drill by now… but just in case… you can get up to speed on all the previous lists here: 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020, and just like all the previous lists there is much of the same in 2021’s offerings. There are tasks to help me work on myself, physically, spiritually and mentally, some things just because they are fun, some challenges, and some good old family time. Isaac’s list is much the same… although this year his has more fun and than developmental milestones. Just like last year I feel like the balance of documenting and just enjoying and also making space to write about other things as they happen is getting better… so we are going to keep running with it… although really just like all the other years this is mostly just here for me, but if you like it great. And if you see anything on the lists below we can do together let me know.

Alright, no more chit chat… here are the lists:

My List

  1. Try some shampoo concentrate 
  2. Sew a piece of clothing 
  3. Read 12 books
  4. Use the overlocker
  5. Get my inbox back to 0
  6. Keep my inbox under control
  7. Try again
  8. Exercise at least 3 times a week 
  9. Walk/Run 500km
  10. Return to Parkrun
  11. Go on 3 hikes
  12. Go to the movies 
  13. Travel somewhere fun in Victoria
  14. Go camping
  15. Use the fire pit
  16. Get my step average back up
  17. Have a child free night 
  18. Get my VIT locked down
  19. Blog at least 15 times
  20. Call/update our grandparents regularly 
  21. Take a picture everyday
  22. Keep working on the photo storage
  23. Sort of 4 year old kinda for Isaac 
  24. Go on family bike ride 
  25. Attend an exercise class 
  26. Make a costume for Isaac 
  27. Practice my mandarin 
  28. Make pasta
  29. Plan our meals again
  30. Read to Isaac everyday 
  31. Go on a date with Isaac
  32. 6 dates with Dave
  33. Brunch with 10 different people 
  34. Don’t over book myself 
  35. Go back to live church
  36. Hear some live music
  37. Swim at the beach
  38. Sing some carols 
  39. Take some family photos
  40. Lights out by midnight 
  41. Visit all three zoos 
  42. Try 4 new restaurants 
  43. Learn how to be a better ally to my Aboriginal and Torres Strait brothers and sisters 
  44. Walk from cape schanck to bush ranger bay
  45. See a waterfall 
  46. Seriously finish and print Isaac’s logs 
  47. Fish and chips on the beach at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year 
  48. Visit Inverloch 
  49. Meet the newest member of our family 
  50. Winter get away 
  51. Fix the steps
  52. Take Isaac swimming 
  53. Make some new play dough 
  54. Make some oobleck 
  55. Paint something 
  56. Put my clothes away within two days of them being washed 
  57. Investigate the leak
  58. Get rid of the built in storage boxes 
  59. Run down under
  60. Bake some meringues
  61. Bake a sponge cake
  62. Get some new glasses
  63. Get a skin check 
  64. Make some sushi 
  65. Play a card game
  66. Play a board game
  67. Go a fortnight without soft drink
  68. No Facebook or Instagram after 10:30pm
  69. Keep my car free of rubbish
  70. Have two perfect months with my activity rings
  71. Do the 2020 scrap book 
  72. Go through and sort Isaac’s clothes 
  73. Go to at least one of Dave’s school concerts
  74. Entertain more guests
  75. Go to the redwoods
  76. Have a cup of tea in the park 
  77. Get a haircut 
  78. Update the photo wall 
  79. Visit 3 new playgrounds 
  80. Go to a museum 
  81. Have a picnic
  82. Get a solid state hard drive
  83. Have some fairy floss
  84. Remember the big things
  85. Do some trivia
  86. Use my gratitude diary 
  87. Visit the library
  88. Learn a new song on piano 
  89. Making some dumplings
  90. Teach Isaac a new skill 
  91. Sleep in the backyard 
  92. Wardrobe clean out 
  93. Eat a vegetable from our garden 
  94. Use my crochet kit
  95. Phones away for dinner
  96. Turn the TV off one night a week 
  97. Have an Isaac decides day 
  98. Start a new family tradition 
  99. Have some hot jam donuts 
  100. Test drive a new car

Isaac’s List

  1. Draw my family 
  2. Swim at the beach
  3. Go back to swimming lessons
  4. Go to the movies 
  5. Have a sleepover
  6. Play a board game 
  7. Go to fun hub jnr in real life
  8. Try the new park at jells park
  9. Plant something in the garden
  10. Write my name
  11. Bake some cookies 
  12. Watch a movie with mum and dad and popcorn 
  13. Hug all my grandparents 
  14. Send a letter to all my great grandparents 
  15. Pat a new animal 
  16. Dress myself… almost all by myself
  17. Try one of those cool parks with water play
  18. Go on an adventure with dad 
  19. Go on an adventure with mum 
  20. Get some of my photos printed and put them in my album 
  21. Ride a bike with pedals
  22. Fly a kite
  23. Help dad with a project around the house 
  24. Learn to make my bed 
  25. Get a haircut 

So that’s them… two brand new lists of goodness this year with a homely tinge… here we come 2021

Spring Time and Some…

Far out… I am super behind on getting these blogs out… it is amazing what being able to travel more than 5kms from home and actually being able to catch up with people does to your down time.

Never the less here we are almost at the end of the year finally blogging about spring time and because we are so close to the end of the year (as in starts tomorrow) I am going to go ahead and throw in December for good measure… so that there is some hope that I might actually not have any bits of list hanging over into the new year… any enough dilly dallying… on with it…

September

September was spent mostly in stage 4 lockdown (which actually started on the 2 August)… with the first announcements about what life might look like post lockdown announced on the 6th of September… but the 5km travel rule still firmly in place… so all of this months list activities were done at home… or very close to it… we remembered to use some of the herbs from our garden in our meals (no. 72 completed 01/09) and we camped (no. 10 completed 21/09) in the back yard which once again was very very very fun… I am actually really looking forward to doing some proper family camping in the new year.

For some adventure… we tried our third new park for the year (no. 9 completed 27/09)… just around the corner… and when Isaac returned to child care Dave and I had a little picnic lunch date in the local national park (no. 82 completed 29/09) which was also wonderful… Another thing I have really learned to value during this whole season is just how blessed we are to live where we do, in our own little place we have enough backyard for Isaac to play and for us to spend time outside whatever the weather and we live in a community filled with trails, parks and wildlife… something I probably hadn’t appreciated as much as I should have until now.

October

We stayed pretty low key as the 5km rule stayed in place until the 18th of October and then after that, we were able to go 25km for a couple of weeks which meant that we could finally see all of our immediate family which was kind of nice after such a long time. While we were at home I continued scanning in our family photos (no. 62 completed 10/10) and reached the pretty significant goal of also clearing out my old iPhotos app… now I just have to back up everything from 2017 onwards… but I am making progress. I also received the photo book I had made (no. 35 completed: 20/10) of Isaac’s time in NICU and our Europe trips and then quickly made more books for each year of Isaac’s life, it’s really nice to have some tangible photos to look through.

Once we cafes and restaurants were able to re-open Isaac and I celebrated with a little brunch date (no. 45 completed: 29/10). But the most significant thing to happen to us in October is that Isaac crossed no. 16 off his list… he learned to use the toilet (completed: 29/10) and wow what a process… but mostly what an achievement! Now for night time…

November

This might have been our quietest listing month… and look it’s probably due to the fact that life returned.. we had places to go, people to see and we were allowed to leave the house… it was wonderful… overwhelming, but wondering… I did brunch on my own though (no 43. completed – 10/11) and I discovered a new worship team whose music (no. 81 completed: 11/11) is just wonderful and great to soak and slow down in… Maverick City Music… just where have you been before now? Oh and this song by Slowly Slowly whose song about Melbourne opening back up after our epic lockdown also hit the spot…

December

Okay… wow… the fact that December is over is really messing with my head, what a whirlwind end of the year! Christmas was back on thanks to the enduring lockdown, which I am so very thankful for, but it has made us busy! Plus this one is going to be a big one because it also includes the year-long ones… which there were quite a few of… but here we go… you know what… it might be easier just to list them chronologically…

90. Have a meal with all the parentals – completed: 02/12
This took a long time to do mostly thanks to lockdown… but we did and it was just as lovely as I had planned…

42. Play some badminton – completed: 21/12
My best mate knows me very very well… for Christmas she gave Isaac and junior badminton set and so we played… actually using the racket might take some time, but it was a form of badminton none the less

37. Cross 2 things off the list each month – completed: 21/12
Pretty self explanatory.. although November made me more nervous than I would care to admit

71. Make some ice cream – completed: 23/12
Ice cream slice counts right? We will go with yes… mostly because it is delicious.

66. Earn at least 6 of the monthly activity challenges on my watch – completed: 24/12
This one went down to the wire too… but thanks to an easy December challenge we made it! If you want the details… well keep reading… if you don’t feel free to jump ahead…
January – Reached my daily exercise goal 22 times
February – Closed all three activity rings 15 times
April – Reached my daily move goal 24 times
May – Close all three activity rings 19 times
September – Reached my stand goal 18 times
December – Reached my daily move goal 22 times

68. Have Dinner with our siblings – completed: 24/12
Just like the dinners with the parents… this took all year but it was also worth it… family is good

21. Fish and Chips on the beach at the beginning and at the end of the year – completed: 28/12
Who doesn’t love fish and chips at the beach… I am really glad that I popped the timing caveats on this it’s a nice way to do dinner… and once is not enough. Plus I don’t think I will ever get sick of watching Isaac’s excitement feeding the seagulls.

14. Have at least 6 Date Days – completed: 30/12
This was almost impossible… but we made it happen… even if it meant back to back dates this week… it doesn’t matter… after 2020 I will never again take for granted alone time with Dave.

83. Stand barefoot on grass and sand – completed: 30/12
I am 100% sure that I have done this earlier in the year… but just in case… and to get some photographic evidence I have done it again… and crossed it off the list.

03. Visit all 3 Zoos – completed: 31/12
Oh and Isaac just snuck in his third zoo today as we made a trip out to Werribee… which means we visited two zoo’s for real life as our good mate Bluey would say and one virtually

Ok… so that’s all the ones that were once off list items… here are all the year long ones..

12. Go to bed earlier Sunday – Thursday – completed: 31/12
I couldn’t tell you if it was definitely Sunday – Thursday… but I am certainly going to bed more consistently earlier…

17. Walk Dex Regularly – completed: 31/12
Look it’s dipped off a bit towards the end, but we were much much better at this… perhaps the best we have ever been so I am giving us the star!

16. Call/Update our grandparents regularly – completed: 31/12
If it hadn’t been the year it has, we may not have done this, but this is another good thing to come out of 2020… I am less afraid of the phone and I have been making more effort to call and send painting from Isaac… it’s a good change

24. Sort out kinda for Isaac – completed: 31/12
Well kinda… we decided not to worry and just to keep him at childcare where he is the pre-kind a room… not the sorting out I was expecting… but a decision nonetheless.

25. Exercise at least twice a week – completed: 31/12
Again we were much better at this earlier in the year, but we have certainly at the very least averaged twice a week… maybe next year I will focus on consistency/

38. Use Isaac’s highlight book and gratitude diary – completed: 31/12
There was lots of catching up but we got there… it’s all written down… and just in case I forget, the more consistently I do this on the day… the easier it is… catching back up is hard!

54. Remember the bags – completed: 31/12
I can’t take full credit as Dave has been doing all the hard work… as he has been doing the grocery shopping… but now that I can go back out the shops I have been better at it…

60. Entertain more guests – completed: 31/12
I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am crossing this off the list because when we have been able to, we have… and in January and early Feb we really made an effort…

63. Reduce the amount of take-out meals we have – completed: 31/12
Except for December I think we have done a pretty good job of this… we have been meal planning and looking forward to one night of take out rather than 2-3 nights plus lunches… probably another perk of slowing down and being home more… that at the restaurants were shut which really hit my brunch habit!

67. Do my devotions at least 3 times a week – completed: 31/12
Just like the exercise there were better weeks and worse weeks, but I have certainly been more deliberate about spending the time in the word.

84. Keep the house tidy – completed: 31/12
When you are at home all the time… you kind of have to… or your mind explodes!

85. Meat free meal at least once a week – completed: 31/12
This has just become part of our regular meal rotation and it is great… plus it’s a good reason to get some good vego meals onto the menu.

96. Spend more time outside – completed: 31/12
I don’t know if it was because I was restricted… or because we have a 3-year-old… but I have never been outside as much in my life… It’s good… I mean it’s really good… for everyone… go outside…. safely… but outside.

97. Keep an indoor plant alive – completed: 31/12
Again I can’t take full credit as Dave has been doing all the hard work… but we have more plants inside than ever and they aren’t dead… it’s lovely.

So there you go… that the list for 2020 and given the year we have had I think it’s pretty great that we managed to cross 73 things off the list, that’s only 6 less than last year… and certainly not my worst effort. This was the first year Isaac couldn’t complete his list and all of them except one could probably be put down to restrictions… There were also a few things on my list that I just couldn’t do this year thanks to COVID, but on both lists, there are also some that we could have if we really wanted to… or remembered too… but didn’t… and that’s just the way it is… so here are the ones that remain un-done… no more complaining… but also no explaining…

My List:

3. Get my step average above 10,000
4. Have a child-free night
11. Get my VIT locked down
13. Blog at least 15 times
15. Volunteer at parkrun
23. Get a massage
28. Swim at the beach
39. See some fireworks
41. Drink at least 1 glass of water every day
46. Floss more often
47. Get a housework timing guide… print it out and stick to it
50. No Facebook or Instagram after 10:30pm
53. Do the 10min clean every day
55. Complete that 30-day exercise challenge
58. Do a weekly plan
59. Get some better coffee tables
64. Go to a carols by candlelight in the park
65. Have a no-spend day once a month
69. Make a dip
74. Go to the NGV
79. Do parkrun with 5 different people
86. Keep my car free of rubbish
92. Edit and finalise Isaac’s logs and maybe publish them
99. Use my standing desk more often
100. Break the next barrier

Isaac’s List

1. Go 10 pin bowling
2. Swim at the beach
5. Go to the movies
7. Pat a new animal
9. See some fireworks
11. Go on a train
15. Dress myself… almost all by myself
20. Try one of those cool parks with water play

The good thing about Isaac’s undone items is that most of them we can just add to his 2021 list… So here’s to 2021… I’m not making a big deal of it… I am just moving in quietly like all the memes I have seen have strongly encouraged me to do.

Advent

Despite having grown up in church and being an avid lover of Christmas, advent and particularly the church season of advent has largely gone ignored by me… I have seen the candles, understood the benefits of the calendar, but it is not something that I have actively sort out, but one of the perks of life being upside down in 2020, this year I have found myself very drawn to the idea of a deliberate season of advent (I’m not even sure if that’s the correct terminology) leading up to this Christmas.

I think that the blessing of being forced to slow down this year, despite my initial intention to do so anyway, has meant that December has not been filled with things to do by late October and I have found myself longing for more Christmas, but I have also had to be a bit more deliberate about how and where I include Christmas this year. It turns out, this has been the perfect opportunity for me to investigate what doing my own deliberate advent season at home would look like… and it hasn’t just been for me.

When Isaac was still tiny I very quickly realised that I am excellent at ‘Commercial Christmas’ Santa, carols, presents, events, costumes, the works… but that often I took the ‘Jesus Christmas’ for granted, it’s always been there, bubbling the background but it gets lost. So in an attempt to not let this trend continue I have spent the last couple of weeks feverishly stitching felt nativity characters for a homemade advent calendar for Isaac so that there is a daily opportunity to remind both him and me that Christmas is about the hope of Christ and the rest is all just extra. But for me, I have purchased a book called ‘Shadow and Light’ by Tsh Oxenreider which has been written exactly for this purpose to help you find a “gentle holiday rhythm”, to give space to stop and to point people like me to the greater picture of Christmas and boy is it great! I feel like in a weird way it has extended Christmas in all the best ways, provided perspective and hope in a season that is often a bit selfish and usually way to busy and because the daily readings are concise it hasn’t created its own kind of burden. Instead, it has reminded me once again (even though I only started week 2 yesterday) what a miraculous event Christmas actually is, so understated and yet so powerful and as a lyric I just heard put it “born in the dirt, sitting on the throne’. This beautiful hope that is offered so simply, worthy of all the praise but not demanding it… offering it.

I am so thankful that despite the pain this year has caused that I have been given this sacred time to stop and reflect for so much of the year, to focus on what is important, and while I know that for many around the world this year Christmas will be spent separated from those they love and perhaps overshadowed by the events of the world. I am incredibly thankful that I can be with those I love, but more than that I am thankful that the hope Christ brings is for all, not just some and that the invitation is always there to come and celebrate the advent of Christ. And that there is still hope found in Him even after all that we have experienced, that there is no circumstance or place too dark for the light of Christ. So I guess I want to invite you to join me in taking a minute to come and adore Christ the newborn king.

Winter in Lockdown…

Guys.. we did it… I mean… we still have to be cautious and there will probably be more rules of sorts to come… but last week I worked for the first time since May and Melbourne is opening back up and it feels weird and wonderful and my brain feels like it is running on over drive just to keep up with it all. So I thought what better time to celebrate all that I did manage to do during lock down… and give you the winter list update…

June

June was an excellent month for listing for both Isaac and I, it’s amazing what you can achieve with just a whiff of freedom. Melbourne’s first lockdown ended and we learnt how to interact with people cautiously and we even had a little getaway, which now as we leave lockdown again for the second time, I am more thankful for than ever before. But while we were away on our winter beach getaway (no. 31 completed: 20/06) we managed to cross off heaps… we used the hiking backpack for the third time (no. 48 completed: 23/06) and while we were at it realised that a good walk in the bush is not only good for us physically but mentally. Watching Isaac explore is also really nice. These little winter hikes knocked a couple of other things off the list too… in that we did a hike (no. 88 completed 08/06), I found an excellent app to help me find and do some more (thanks All Trails) and one of our little hikes was in Foster, which is a town I had never been to before which meant we crossed off number 73 (completed: 23/06) at the same time. Also while we were away we attempted a family bike ride (no. 26 completed: 26/06) which was cut short because my bike handles inverted and my breaks seemed determined to performs some strange wailing opera. Isaac also crossed some impressive things off his list while we were away. Number 25, say goodbye to his num nums (his dummies) which was actually accidental (completed: 20/06). He slept in a big kids bed down at the beach and we just didn’t give him one… he didn’t ask and that was that… I think I was more upset about it than he was. He started using his balance bike (no. 06 completed: 26/06), and he ‘tried’ a new instrument (no. 14 completed: 26/06) it was actually just some imaginary bagpipes, but he came up with it all by himself so I thought it was impressive enough to count.

But June wasn’t just all outdoor listing fun, I also went through Isaac’s clothes (no. 22 completed: 02/06) and cleaned out all the ones he has grown out of… I think annually isn’t enough for this while he is still growing so fast… I need to get better at just doing this all the time… but having it on the list is worth it to make sure they get a proper cleanout at least occasionally.

Isaac and I also attended our only school concert for the year, of course like everything else in 2020 this was online which meant that Isaac could play along (no. 52 completed: 11/06).

July

We were extra thankful for our June getaway when July saw the return of Lockdown with even tighter rules than the first. Just before the new lockdown started though we made Isaac’s transition out of the cot official with a single bed (no.23 completed: 03/07), complete with a doona cover covered in vegetables! I am not sure I am coping with the fact that he isn’t a little baby any more, but his transition into a pre-schooler comes with its own perks. We get to see a bit more of his wit now that he has words to accompany his humour and we can exploring the world, in general, continues to get more fun. Dave and I also managed to sneak in a brunch date before we entered stage 4 (no. 44 completed: 07/07).

Stage 4 lockdown not only saw the need for masks everywhere giving me a chance to get the sewing machine out (no. 75, completed: 13/07) but also a reduction in our shopping capacity as our travel bubble was reduced to 5km and so we had to be fairly creative in order to not go stir crazy at home. But where there is a will, there is a way… so I attended an online version finders keepers market (no. 8 completed: 20/07) and got myself some super cute galah earrings to add to my growing collection of bird earrings.

Oh and I made some little banoffee pies which were a bit cute… so there you go… a busy month, not quite as adventurous as June, but still successful, especially when you consider the adjusting that life also required.

August

With our travel and interactions limited… it’s not surprising that August was a much quieter month list wise, but we did cross off some big things all the same… I made a pav (no.70 completed: 29/08) and it was delicious and I faced my fears and took Isaac on a walk by myself in the rain with our masks on, it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but at the time it was huge, an adventure even (no. 19, completed: 24/08) my anxiety around getting sick, interacting with people and just generally being out in the world was at an all-time high, so forcing myself to go for a walk… with Isaac… was a big win for me.

The other thing we did this month was also a big one, it was something we had planned to do much earlier in the year… but well you know… but we found a new obstetrician (no. 01 completed: 17/08) who is willing to take us on with all our history and gave us a bit of hope that maybe one day will be able to expand our family without it being quite so dramatic.

So there you go… that was winter… bring on some Sunshine and Freedom

Restart

Today feels like a bit of restart to the year… never mind that it’s October and we are still in stage 4 lockdown here in Melbourne… it does have some freshness about it.

I’m not sure what makes it feel like this exactly… it could be the summerish weather tricking my brain to thinking we are back in February again… or it could be that after years my laptop is up to date and my ‘iPhoto’ library is empty and I’m finally ready to start focusing on backing up the photos that have lived in the cloud for the since 2018… It’s a long overdue project and getting to this point has been a tough slog, but I have finally hit a milestone which means today I am starting the next phase… Or perhaps it’s simply that Dave headed back to school this morning which meant that Isaac and I have our first full day together since March and it feels as close to normal as it has in months. I’m really not sure… but it’s nice… and I hope this feeling lasts because it’s such a pleasant change from the way things have been feeling.

When I wrote the Autumn list update I mentioned how much I secretly loved the first lockdown… this cannot be said for this second round… this time it has been much harder… I am not really desperate to do I anything… I just want the option of choice… I understand why we are still here because I am a rule follower through and through, here I will stay… in fact if I am honest I am happyish to stay here as long as we need to, but it’s heavy this time. It’s also hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but I know it’s there and that as the saying goes ‘this too shall pass’. And I know that it will, eventually… but until it does I’m going to hold on to days like today that feel a bit lighter and just enjoy them.

What happened to Autum?

Well, look at this… I am on a roll! Four blogs in three weeks… outrageous… apparently this was all just lurking just under the surface… and I guess I have that pesky goal of writing 15 blogs this year so I needed to start writing!

This year feels like it has gone both incredibly fast and incredibly slowly all at the same time… and that the saying of “the days are long, but the years are short” has never been more true than in 2020. I think that compounding this is my ever-present sense of anticipation… that we still need to get the year going. I guess that I hadn’t really hit my stride before everything stopped… but it in all reality it probably won’t start again in 2020… not the way I want it to anyway… I can’t go back to the long days of summer and get stuck into some project as the weather turns and just work my way through winter… it’s already here… I am writing this in August… and it’s cold… but there is less to do than ever… but we will get into that a bit later. So while I feel like we should still be talking about summer BBQs and daylight savings, that’s actually long gone… and it’s time for another list update. A list update for the season that happened without me even noticing!

March

Things started to change in march for Melbourne… well probably for everywhere… but at home here in Melbourne we entered stage 3 restrictions for the first time to try and slow the spread of COVID 19… and we did a pretty good job for a while (let’s leave what happened in July for later). And because I have been fearful of all that COVID might mean for those around me and my little family, I welcomed the March lockdown wholeheartedly. I loved the idea of everyone just stopping so we could fix the problem and then get on with things. Whenever I have the option… that’s how I like to deal with my problems… to stop everything… fix it and move on. Of course, that’s not usually how life works… but it seemed that this time it might. I loved the idea of having Dave working from home too, that our little family would be gifted this season of uninterrupted togetherness. I had the internet to connect me to family and friends, but all I needed day to day was with me 100% of the time and it was wonderful. It truly was. In fact, that first period of lockdown might have actually contained some of my most treasured memories and moments.

But of course, the lockdown didn’t start until the middle of March… which meant we did manage to cross off a big community item before the rules all changed. We started March with the Monash Children’s Hospital Walk, which was our second ‘fun run’ for the year (no. 6, completed: 06/03). In January Dave and I had participated in the relief run a virtual event to raise money for the bushfire relief effort which meant our 10km around Jells Park was our second event for the year. Isaac even got to wear a cape and wore his medal with pride for the rest of the day.

In March I finished off my summer project of my yearly scrapbooks… I hadn’t worked on these since Joshua passed away, so there was a lot to do, but now they are up to date to the end of 2019 (no. 61, completed: 15/03)… which I am pretty happy about. I have a love-hate relationship with these scrapbooks… I love to look through them and reminisce, but collecting and remember and putting them together is a slog if I don’t stay on top of it.

Because I suffer from FOMO as much as the average bear, I got sucked into the iso-baking phenomenon pretty early on in lockdown… Dave and I did a big clean out of our pantry and worked out what meals we had already and what items we needed so that we could avoid going to the shops. During our clean out I discovered we had a lot of eggs that were on their way to the bin if we didn’t use them up… so we iso-baked meringues (no. 18, completed: 22/03) and Banana Bread (no. 89, completed: 24/03)… and a LOT of other things, but they were the two that also doubled as March list items.

My last list item in March is a pretty boring one… I counted off my third month of no games on my phone (no. 49, completed: 31/03)… it wasn’t as hard as it had been previously… and certainly helped keep my useless phone time down… but it’s not very exciting to write about… So there you go… 5 things off the list in March.

April

Once we had adapted to lockdown life… we hit our listing stride in April. Isaac crossed another two things off his list and I crossed 6 off mine… not a bad effort considering we didn’t really leave the house!

Dave and I choose to keep Isaac home from childcare so that those who needed to use it could and we weren’t adding to ours or their risk… but that meant I needed to step up my activity skills. I like order and structure and not much mess… well that’s not entirely true… I don’t mind making mess as long as I don’t have to clean it up… so messy play is usually reserved for childcare… where Isaac can make lots of mess without me panicking or having to pack up. But lockdown meant we had to make some changes but it also meant we were able to cross off no. 80 Paint a picture (completed: 28/04) and no. 51 Make some cookies with Isaac (completed: 25/04)… we made some ANZAC biscuits for ANZAC day… they were delish! We also were a bit more deliberate about physical activity… Isaac mastered jumping and scooting (no. 13, completed: 26/04 and no. 8, completed: 27/04 respectively) and Dave and I signed up for an exercise challenge with my brother and his family making us move every day… this eventually led to a Les Mills on-demand subscription… which in turn meant I could do exercise classes from the comfort of my lounge room (no. 87, completed: 04/04).

For my birthday we took some family photos in the backyard (no. 27, completed: 09/04) in which I wore a bright pink jumper that I had purchased in March but hadn’t been brave enough to wear (no. 78, completed: 09/04). I actually love it and it has brought some bright and happy vibes a few times during lockdown since.

We also got to watch a brand new Disney movie… not at the movies like I had planned, but again from the safety and comfort of our lounge room Dave and I watched Onward… and it was lovely in all the right Disney ways (no. 94 completed: 26/4).

May

May was a big month for us… Isaac crossed 3 things off his list and I crossed 5 things off mine. Which again considering we were only allowed to leave the house at the end of the month… it’s a pretty great effort.

The biggest list item for May was no. 2. Find a better work-life balance (completed 08/05). At the beginning of the year when I wrote the list I wasn’t sure what this would look like, but as 2020 would have it this item was done for me… At the end of April, I was told that my role at one of my jobs was being made redundant, the company was undergoing a merge with another company and my role was the first of many that would be a double up once the merge was finalised so… being on the taken over side of the company… my job was no longer needed. To be totally honest even though I knew this was a possibility until I was actually told, I hadn’t believed it. I loved the work that I was doing and I honestly thought I was bringing a lot to the table, and that maybe somehow I would be one of the lucky ones to hold on… but it was not to be… so on the 8th of May I had my last day there and went back to only being employed in one job, rather than the two I had been managing since returning to work after Isaac was born. I went from working 4+ days a week to a regular 2days… in theory… once schools went back… which gave me three weekdays with Isaac that I could be flexible with if I needed or wanted more work. And once I got over the disappointment of my role being made redundant I was quite excited about have some extra space in my life to be a mum… after all… they are only little once. Of course, this was all good provided that schools went back to onsite learning and Isaac went back to childcare… so for a few weeks between the end of May and the beginning of July I was pretty excited about the new balance I had found. Now that we are back in lockdown and there isn’t a huge amount of need for replacement teachers during online learning I have more at home life than I was planning, but I am looking at this as a positive too… although I will confess round 2 is much harder without the breaks that my two days of work provided in lockdown 1.

It turns out though that the extra time was good for listing… we drew pictures and completed puzzles (Isaac’s list no. 12, completed 10/05 and no. 17, completed 29/05). We toasted marshmallows in the fire pit in our front yard (no. 91, completed 16/05) which was a bit magical and way more fun than I had anticipated. I met my 3rd baby of the year (no. 20, completed 26/05) and I finished my 9th book (no. 7, completed 25/05) and that was before I managed to resurrect my original bookclub. This year’s books were a mixture of Reese Witherspoon’s Bookclub books from Hello Sunshine and some self-chosen books… here is the list so far:

  1. Conviction – Denise Mina (Reese’s Bookclub)
  2. Kings Cage – Victoria Aveyard
  3. Searching for Sunday – Rachel Held Evans
  4. Such a fun age – Kiley Reid (Reese’s Bookclub)
  5. The scent keeper – Erica Bauermeister (Reese’s Bookclub)
  6. The Jetsetters – Amanda Eyre Ward (Reese’s Bookclub)
  7. Dark Emu – Bruce Pascoe
  8. Autobiography of Jean Luc Picard
  9. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Since then I have also finished:

10. Jack Charles: Born Again Blakfella – Jack Charles
11. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
12. The Guest List – Lucy Foley (Reese’s Bookclub)
13. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney (The original bookclub that’s back… it needs a name)
14. A Year of Biblical Womanhood – Rachel Held Evans
15. Educated – Tara Westover (The original bookclub… yep definitely needs a name)

Not a bad effort especially given it’s only August. Although I have found reading to be a great distraction from social media and news… and a good way to fall asleep…

This month Isaac also learnt how to take a photo on the iPhone.. and he is pretty cuffed with himself (no. 22, completed 16/05) and thanks to a very thoughtful Mothers Day gift I am now the proud owner of some reusable non-paper towels (no. 5, completed 10/5). This has shown me just how much paper towel I actually use… and that these non-paper ones are just as good. Although I might need a second batch…

So while I am not sure when Autumn happened… Apparently, it was choccas. Because on top of everything listed above there were also some fun celebrations too… Easter, including Isaac’s first easter egg hunt which was much more fun than even I could have anticipated, Mother’s Day complete with homemade gifts and cupcakes delivered to Mooma and both Nannas and my return to my first craft love… cross-stitch. And even though it has all felt like a bit of a false start, I will continue to look back on this season as one of my all-time favourites, despite its challenges.

The Blessing

At the beginning of March, my best mate sent me a text with a link to a song and the sentence “the bridge is yours, my friend”. That night I wept in my kitchen to the sound of ‘The Blessing’ for the first time. Dave and I had just started talking about what it would look like to try again and expand our family and the words of the bridge “May His favour be upon you, And a thousand generations, And your family and your children, And their children, and their children” felt like a promise that one day there would be children plural… that Isaac would get a buddy and our children would have children and so on and so forth… something I had not allowed myself to think about because the fear of the alternative was just too much. This song, taken straight from scripture in Numbers 6:24-27 is an ancient blessing given to Moses by God to be given to Israel, God’s people. It is a song that has been used by Christians for a long time to bless each other, sung and said over congregations as Christians are sent out into the world. At the very beginning of March, this ancient blessing was once again given new life in the form of a song offered by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes.

Fast forward to August and our family plans are back on hold, we like many places around the globe are in lockdown, trying to avoid others as the world works out how to manage COVID and this simple song has become an anthem of 2020. This morning I watched the New Zealand version of The Blessing and once again I was in tears. It is just one of many many versions of this song that has been produced over the last few months as a collective blessing from God via churches across the globe to all. Every time I watch one of these recordings I am struck by 4 things…

1. It’s Specific

Even though all the recordings are of the same song each one is incredibly unique. Different voices, different spaces, different languages, different circumstances. The expression of the song, the imagery that is used… footage of the beautiful land they are praying over, snapshots into people homes and lives as they record themselves with whatever they have. It becomes a very personal prayer over specific places and people. Each authentically worshipping in a style that best represents those they want to bless. It feels incredibly personal to see these worshipers vulnerably offering their sacrifice of praise as an offering to their homeland, to their families to their friends and then to the world. As I watched the Australian Blessing I was struck by how much I loved the country I call home… this beautiful land and its people and how much I desperately wanted this blessing for my home. For its beaches, for its red dirt, for its bush and for its people… this global blessing was for us… right here.

2. Unity

It’s hard not to notice the unity of these videos, bringing 100s of individual voices together to sing, recorded separately and then blended and offered together. People of all walks of life positioned side by side, presenting as one. Unified in purpose to bless. These people who represent the very wide breadth of the church working together, not fighting or arguing about theological differences, but standing together to declare God’s love for his people to a world in chaos. It is inclusive… old and young, rich and poor, traditional and contemporary, Catholic and Protestant, every denomination, every tribe and every tongue declaring a collective blessing overall they have been sent to.

3. Passion

It’s also hard to miss the passion and the affection being poured out in these recordings, people consumed by worshipping their God as they speak on his behalf. Again each in their own way, some charismatically, some more reserved, some with instruments and others with just their voice. There is even a small boy in the ‘children’s blessing’ who uses his computer to allow him to speak and participate in this collective worship. This blessing is heartfelt and offered with everything… nothing is held back. The recordings aren’t all polished and produced so that there are no blemishes, they are honest and raw.

4. The cry of my heart

But what gets me most every time is the stirring I feel in my heart, that this is what I want and this is what I want to offer. That this is my prayer too… that God would bless me, my family, my community, my land. That this unity created by individuals because of Christ is just what this broken world needs… that the blessing is for all and is there to be received if you would just be open to it. That there is no place that this blessing can’t reach because there is nowhere God will not go for his people… us… all of humanity. This is what I want you to know, this is what I want to teach Isaac… He is for you… in all the craziness that is 2020, He is for you regardless of your circumstances, regardless of your nationality, regardless of your creed… the King of Kings is for you and wants to bless you.

So if you haven’t already allowed yourself to receive this blessing… it’s available in almost every language at just the click of button… but just to get you started here are a few of my favourites:

And here is God’s blessing for you:

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

May His favour be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you

Amen

Dear Rachel Held Evans

Dear Rachel,

I first heard your name in May last year when women I had grown up with or knew through my church networks mourned your death on their social media pages, but it wasn’t until a friend suggested I read one of your books that I really understood what the world had lost. Since reading that first book in December, I quickly purchased the rest on my kindle and have started making my way through the rest of your work. Last week I finished reading ‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood’ and once again I found myself wanting to tell you how important these books have been to me and wishing I had known more about you while there was still time to express my gratitude to you directly. I also now know why these other women in my life felt such a deep loss when you passed… I feel it too.

When I read and listen to your books it is almost as if you have taken the contents of my brain and turned it to a more eloquent version of my thoughts and supported it with research. There have been many deep sighs of recognition and moments of deep peace because despite how I might feel, or have been made to feel… I am not alone… that my questions will not lead to damnation and that it is ok to want more and less all at the same time.

Thank you for reminding me that God is sufficient and that wrestling with ideas, stories and concepts is part of being human and that to shut this part of my life off when it comes to spiritual things would be dangerous. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty of scripture and sacraments and the church universal. Thank you for warning me that my journey to satisfaction in the church as it is will be a long road… that perhaps will bring pain or require me to make choices that will not be easy. Thank you for teaching me of the beauty of an authentic relational church and what this can and perhaps should look like… Thank you for telling me that despite my questions, and my doubts, and perhaps even my unpopular opinions, that my relationship with Jesus is most important and regardless of what at times this looks like in the church, I can continue to love people in my life and my community like Jesus would, even when it looks different.

Thank you for being bold, and honest and unashamed.

To say I am sad that there will be no more wisdom from Rachel Held Evans earthside, would be an understatement. You have re-defined the way I see myself, reaffirmed who I know Jesus to be, and given me permission to continue asking questions, even the ones people don’t want me to. You have reignited my curiosity in the Word and for that, I can’t thank you enough. I believe what I, my little world and perhaps even, dare I say it the world at large need now, more than ever is Jesus, but not Jesus packaged by the church, the Jesus who worked one meal at a time, one small act of kindness at a time, one bold idea at a time.

Your fellow doubter, but forever faithful friend,

Emma

When you don’t know what to write… you do a list update

Ok so it’s been a LONG time since I wrote a blog… and to be honest, I have been avoiding it… because what do you write that is even remotely interesting during a global pandemic when you’ve only left the house a handful of time in the last couple of months… and when there have also been lots of other big things happening the world that you also don’t feel qualified to write about…. yeah I was stuck too… but yet here I am sitting and typing, because I think it is important to write something… I need to something to do and I want to use my brain to escape and focus on some little wins we have had this year despite everything else that has been going on…. so in lieu of some wisdom I have learnt, or opinions on things I am only really just learning about myself I have settled on a list update.

I feel like the new format that I tried last year was a winner… so that’s what I am going to stick with, a seasonal update for those list items that haven’t been gifted a blog of their own… which at the moment is all of them I think… anyway, despite the very unusual first half of the year, we have actually managed to cross quite a few things off the list… so lets start at the beginning… January

JANUARY

Far our January feels like a long time ago… a lifetime even, and given that we are in week 2 of Melbourne’s Stage 4 Lock-down I am increasingly glad that I went hard with the list early on. In January 7 things were crossed off my list and 3 things from Isaac’s which is a pretty great way to start…

Despite the poor air quality and the horrible bush fires that were burning, we did some old school summer things… we played games… cards against humanity (no. 32 completed: 04/01), we coloured in (no. 36, completed: 06/01), I did the first puzzle I have done in a long time (no. 34, completed: 19/01) and we swam… specifically I did some laps (no. 56, completed: 29/01) and Isaac in Pa’s pool (no. 10, completed: 13/01).

January also had a lot of family time, we met the newest member of our family, another nephew for Dave and I and a cousin for Isaac (no. 29, completed: 27/01) and we started our resolution of more family updates well with a FaceTime call to NZ (no. 76, completed: 22/01).

Isaac and Dave went on a bike ride while we were at the beach (no. 18, completed: 24/01) and they also tested out his new little BBQ for a summer outdoor feast (no. 24, completed: 13/01). I managed to close my ‘move ring’, a gimmicky little feature of my watch, every day in January giving me my ‘perfect month’ (no. 57, completed: 31/01)… if only it was that easy!

February

February was a bit of a slower month for the list… but not a bad effort. Isaac crossed one thing off his list and I crossed three things off mine.

Two of my items worked nicely with my big thing of reducing my footprint environmentally as I finally used my beeswax wraps (no. 77, completed: 12/02)… I am still getting the hang of these, but I really love the concept… I also really love that my beeswax wraps were made by students at school. And on the same day, I unboxed my shampoo and conditioner bars (no. 93, completed: 12/02) that I had brought in NZ at Christmas, but had been waiting to use as I wanted to finish the shampoo I had in the bottle at home first. The shampoo bars are a hit… they took a little bit of adjusting, but I really like them and they are a good morning reminder of not using plastic for everything!

My other February list item was a bit of an adventure, after booking in a brunch in Ballarat I decided I could also book in a parkrun if I was committed to getting up really early for my drive there. I did commit… and just before our world got a little smaller I was able to be a park run tourist (no. 30, completed: 01/02), visiting Wallaby Track Parkrun, which was beautiful and it turns out very new which made it all that more exciting and worth it.

Also in Feb, Isaac, Dave and I met Isaac’s grandad at the traffic light park in Bayswater (no. 4, completed: 09/02)… also know as Marie Wallace Park. It is excellent! Miniature roads and road hazards… some local traffic and once you have done with that an old steam train and a huge adventure park… I don’t think this will be our only visit to this park. Although before we return we might need to practice some road rules with the toy cars at home… and if we practice we might even be able to upgrade our ride during lockdown and bring the balance bike next time.

So there you have it… Summer… pre lockdown freedom that feels like a myth right now… or maybe a goal… I am not really sure… but it’s been nice to reminisce…

32 Things before 33

I’ve grown to really enjoy this little tradition I have created for myself. I like to reflect and see how much I have learnt… so just like the last couple of years, before my birthday tomorrow, I have taken just a minute to write a little list of the things that I have learnt and the ways I have grown. A list of 32 things to be thankful for, to acknowledge or just remember before I turn 33.

  1. I hope tomorrow will be the weirdest birthday experience I experience in my life time
  2. I am much happier with who I am as a person now then I have been in years
  3. I am learning to be comfortable in my physical skin… and learning to trust my body again
  4. I am learning to be comfortable with being both mentally tough and mentally fragile at the same time
  5. I am learning to slow down and think about what I want and why rather than just pushing to have it all
  6. I am learning to enjoy the perfectly imperfect both in me and the world… Facebook live is hard for everyone… even the wiggles
  7. I need sleep… and I am better when I go to be early… even though I am also most creative and fun late at night… it’s a hard line to walk
  8. I love being Isaac’s mum… but it’s a different hard to what I imagined
  9. Consistent baby steps will still move you forward
  10. I have a high tolerance for children’s music and I am not ashamed of it
  11. Taking time to do indulgent things for myself isn’t a waste… but it does need moderation
  12. I am very lucky to be in a partnership marriage… I am heard and respected and valued…
  13. my faith doesn’t have to fit the same box everyone else’s does… God is big enough to handle me, my questions and my opinions and his grace is sufficient for my mistakes
  14. I can use less and enjoy more… my choices have an impact even if I can’t fix everything
  15. Flossing is tedious but surprisingly satisfying
  16. I choose not to live without the orthodontic bar holding my bottom teeth in place
  17. I am very thankful to once again be living in the same hemisphere as my bestie
  18. Life is short… phone calls are easy… just call those you love
  19. Don’t over react to you toddler… they are more sensitive than you anticipate
  20. When Isaac asks for a cuddle… always… always say yes… even when his hands are covered in spaghetti
  21. It’s ok to have all of the feelings… even if you can’t hold them in
  22. It’s also ok to say no and stop listening, watching, reading things that you can’t handle… you don’t have to know, see, feel everything just because everyone else is
  23. Just cook the meals… your body and your wallet will thank you
  24. Remember that little eyes and ears are watching you… try to behave accordingly
  25. You have to let the toddler take risks… he did not come with bubble wrap…
  26. Be flexible in your travel plans… it will lead to far less disappointment… I will see you one day NZ South Island west coast!
  27. Enjoy the world with the two-year-old… they way he sees it is way more exciting than how my tired eyes do
  28. Life is too short for boring earrings
  29. Wear more colour… it always looks better than you think it will
  30. I am thankful to the lockdown for giving me more family time… for long days with Isaac and Dave
  31. I am the office distraction… it turns out I am significantly more productive when I work from home
  32. Just keep reading, walking and singing… they are all making you a better version of you

Here we go 33… it’s going to be a good year even if we don’t leave the house again for a while.