Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places



Ten Years

Ten years ago,

Kiss at wedding
We chose each other to be family

Since then, we’ve cooked in three kitchens

Kitchens montage

Travelled to Singapore so many times we’ve lost count

Singapore montage

Gallivanted through parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales

Travel montage

Farewelled two loved onesPhotos of Mum and Cuz

Made two beautiful babies

Children montage

Loved and laughed

couple montage

We didn’t get much chance to make it a big celebration this anniversary. Visits from family overseas and interstate was one reason. And then there was the rather tiny matter of birthing a whole other human being and being severely sleep-deprived as a result.

And yes, part of me wants to knuckle down and get real Deep and Meaningful about my marriage at this time of year. Part of me wants the big fanfare to mark this significant milestone. Ten years! It should mean something. I want to tell him how he’s changed me. I want to tell him how I never want some things about him to ever change. I want to tell you that there were rough bits and boring bits and tough bits, but they were few and far, faaar between the absolute comfort and joy and love and certainty and assurance I get to enjoy every day. Every. Day.

It’s been a real privilege being a wife and from that, a mother. Ten years! Thank you, God.

Bouquet of red roses
120 red roses over 10 years
Arddun playing with knife and fork
Some percussion entertainment while we wait for our anniversary lunch to arrive

Arddun close up

Atticus sleeping in capsule
Sleeping prince while we wait for the food to arrive
Arddun's apple juice
Arddun’s la-di-da apple juice


Arddun's gourmet carbonara lunch
Arddun’s gourmet carbonara lunch
Tony with long glass of beer
The man whose name I took as my own
Long glass of beer
Enjoying a long glass of ice cold

Close up of Tony's ring


Happy 10th Anniversary, Tony. I love you.

Photo of Tony Velle silhouette

Birth Plan discussion, continued

“Birth plan? How’s this for a birth plan?

Next Friday (5 December) is when the first Indian test match is playing. Bub’s gonna be a few days late by then. You go into labour, I’ll sit outside with a transistor radio and wait for you.”

~ Tony, loving husband, mad cricket fan.

Values: the life blocks, the moral foundation

We just ended this excellent series at bible class on how we communicate to family members. Amongst many other things, the series involved identifying our personal styles and reactions in times of conflict, and having a look at other historical examples in the bible. I am kicking myself at the moment because I’d stored my notes from 2 weeks ago in a real safe place… which of course now means I can’t find them. But I did remember that the first question on the top of the list had to do with personal values.

It was something along the lines of,

Have your told your family what your personal values are?

It’s a great question, at least for me. Mostly because I have no idea what my personal values are, much less thought about articulating it to my family of origin, or to Tony and Arddun. It’s also a great question because it highlights that most fundamental assumption that trips all of us up: just because we’re in the same family, doesn’t mean we all inhabit the same attitudes and exhibit the same behaviours.

It’s like common sense in housework. It’s not actually that common. So if that’s tricky enough to determine sometimes, then we need to start talking out loud about what we think our personal and family values are.

A quick look around the interweb has produced a number of familiar and less familiar examples. More than anything, I’m awed and rather ashamed that I had never thought to do this.

In This House
I’ve seen this around. Like it, but only two out of three of us do Loud really well. And even then, I’ve mellowed lots.
Steele Family
Ooohhh I like this one
Family words rather than values per se
Something more abstract. Not sure that I care for this “Tag Cloud” style
One-word family values list
Also like this one
Homemade family values flower
Clearly, there were SEVERAL family meetings and a parenting textbook/workbook attached to this one. Wow!
Christian Vanilla
The Christian Comprehensive approach
We Are Kind
The Focused approach
Jennings family values
I thought I recognised the handwriting!!! I’ve seen that poster before!!! #kjennings #whilerandomlygoogling

Of course, articulating family values is something that needs to be discussed and agreed on, and not just cobbled together by me, the overenthusiastic part-time SAHM. But even before I’m ready to go broach the subject with Tony (and Tony, my love, consider the subject already partially broached!) I need to work out what it is that I value.

I’m still working through the list, but I thought I’d start with what I already do. I think we ALL like to think that we champion huge concepts all the time like Love, Justice, Loyalty, Kindness, Purity, Courage. And we aspire to be diligent and successful in areas like Health, Beauty, Finances. Still, I think we all know that attitudes don’t speak the loudest – actions do.  So here’s what I’ve come up with so far this week, based partly on what I spend my heart on. And I’m sure there’s more to come.

My Personal Values (that I’ve come to recgonise anyway)

I value continual self improvement, hard work, and the desire to reach my full potential

This one took a while for me to get to, especially the bit about reaching my full potential. I think we get constantly inundated with the World’s vision of how someone reaches their full potential. They get a Nobel Peace Prize, for instance. Climb a mountain. Start a company. Become a celebrity. Write a book. Write 10 books. Work 85 hours a week. Have 7 children, foster 10 more, adopt 3. Basically spend every waking moment Living and Doing, in the hopes of becoming the best version of themselves.

I believe it’s no coincidence that I choose to be a Christian. It’s also not a coincidence that I choose to blog. The former requires a lifetime of a renewing of the mind, and the unlearning of old ways while putting on Christ. The latter is one of my means of documenting the process, and checking in. My problem is finishing – I’m not great at that. But I do genuinely seek to do better, and I do spend quite a bit of time examining my faith, my actions, and my shortcomings. Which is why I’m constantly goal-setting (but still suck at seeing some of it through). And also, I get REAL excited putting together a 23-step program to get me there. That’s probably the funnest bit for me.

I value Discernment, Sagacity, Temperate Judgement

This one came about because I’m increasingly aware of how I balk when given “expert advice” on many subject matters – health and nutrition, parenting, technology, religion, self-help… I am especially leery of magic bullets. Yet when Celina and I were growing up and identifying our polar-opposite traits, we had always regarded her as the suspicious one, while I would swallow a concept whole first because I trusted people so quickly. That seems to have changed along the way.

Don’t get me wrong – I can still get incredibly excited over new shiny concepts. But Tony often balances off such enthusiasm with a measured, factual response (and the occasional eyebrow-raise) that I’ve grown to appreciate his cautiousness. And I’ve become a lot more moderate (and sadly, a little cynical) over the last decade and a half, after an entire adolescence of my mother tsk-tsking me for being Too Emotional.

I value having the courage to speak up, to change, to meddle

While packing my old bedroom in Singapore last year, I came across a letter I had written to a sister in Christ and it took my breath away. It was basically me broaching the subject of how I’d noticed her changing away from God and church, and how I really yearn for her to hang on to her faith. It was earnest, it was honest, it was surprisingly loving and gentle (not my best traits), and because it had been such a long time since I’d done something like that, it touched me. Weirdly, I wish others had written that way to me when I was going through big stuff in my late teens and early twenties. I wish I had sent that letter to that sister. But perhaps I only wrote what I needed to hear for myself. Communicating through the prism of my own love language.

I can be blunt now, I know. I have a forthright manner. I call a spade a spade, sometimes worse. But I think I’ve mellowed. I used to have a lot more courage to speak up for the underdog, to broach difficult ideas, to poke at the glass ceiling, question the status quo, meddle with love. Of course, that also meant I tread on many toes, flummoxed many Aunties and Uncles in church, intimidated others without necessarily winning them over, and made enemies. I still do some of these things quite well. :-(

Coming to a different country and starting out as an outsider has subdued me somewhat. I am also more mindful, now that I’m married, of charging ahead but leaving my introverted, circumspect husband and partner exposed and hating it. And yet I wonder if I’ve swung too far the other way, like a pendulum. Where the good stuff is getting muffled with the bad. I believe I still have it in me to fight the good fight when it counts.

This personal value isn’t so much one that I’m exercising regularly, but one that is dormant and needs refining.


I’m sure there are many others – the dead obvious ones like I Value Beauty (which is why I window shop so much), and the more surprising one like I Value Family, which is why I’ve put the corporate career ladder climbing schtick aside for now, and am still working out how to reinvent that bit. This isn’t a comprehensive list, like I said, but it was the first 3 that came to mind and it’s an interesting start.


Soooo… what are your personal values?

My Iron Man

Today’s our 6th wedding anniversary. They say it’s the Iron year, which means Tony and I promptly went and bought each other anything but.

I had procured my love a watch, only to discover later that David Jones had left the price tag on, wrapped it as a Christmas present even though I’d left instructions, and had given me a dud with a flat battery. Tony’s surprise delivery to me was indeed surprising – it never came. He later found out that the lovely people at the hamper place had not couriered it like he had thought, but had sent it by Australia Post. Who currently “don’t know where it is”.

We celebrated our anniversary last night at the Hotel Realm, where they gave us HALF a dessert platter…

Half a dessert platter
If you look closely, you can JUST make out where they had cut the chocolate ganache tart on the plate.

… and made up for it by giving us two bottles of Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial champagne instead of one. We’re cracking those babies open once Blob is Born.

To top it off, our little flat has finally gone to market today. The ad sounds great – includes the lovely USP of it having “quality curtains and blinds throughout”. Except the photos that accompany our ad are of someone else’s apartment. Which is the mirror image of ours. In a different block. And the windows are as nekkid as a newborn’s bottom.

All we can do is laugh, really. It’s been a slightly bizarre 24 hours for Canberra’s customer service.

On a more cheerful note, I’ve had a bit of fun today with T-shirt transfers. The last one I did was an illustration of a skinny man ironing his own work shirt, with the caption “My idea of an Iron Man”. Tony didn’t think it was that funny, but I loved it because I hate ironing, and he has no idea what a blessing it is to marry a man who is already house-broken.

Today’s creation is a little more relevant to this forum.

I drank the water
Even more hyuk-hyuk if you realise where I work

Am I excited about Monday? Just a touch.

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