Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas

Christmas Eve was quite nice. Oliver was determined that he was going to go to bed nice and early so that he wouldn't be 'too tired to go to sleep'. We did the whole carrot and cookies thing and then he actually did a good job of falling asleep quickly. Oliver used to be a terrible sleeper (perhaps it's a good topic for another day), but for the last couple of years has mastered going to sleep and sleeping well.
I made shortbread (I do every year, using my great-grandmother's recipe) while Anthony tidied up and wrapped presents.
You might wonder why I mention this, but Anthony hasn't always been so....domestic....
I'll tell you about it some day; but while Anthony has always been a great provider and supportive partner, I have generally been the nurturing/housework/cooking partner. His attitude to this side of family life has changed lately, and it's lovely!


Pressies! Isn't that what Christmas is all about?? ;p
We actually made it to bed before midnight, which was nice, and as usual, I was up before Oliver! In the last 7 or so years,  neither of the kids have ever managed to get out of bed before me on Christmas Day. Which is OK, I love sitting in the lounge room and watching their reaction when they see all the pressies.
Of which there were quite a lot this year.
I can't help myself! I've mentioned before that I love giving people presents, and while I try every year to scale down my gift buying, I always manage to buy too many for the kids.

Part of the trouble is that I buy quite a few gifts earlier in the year. I like to be organised, and I'll usually order something through Chrisco and buy some cool things in sales during the year.
Then, of course I'll go shopping just before Christmas (just for a few stocking stuffers!) and see a whole lot of things that I know the kids (or Anthony) would love. So I buy those too! Before you know it, there's a great pile under the tree on Christmas morning.
Not that I'm too worried. Despite the fact that I'm really good at spending money, I spend it well, and never spend so much that we have to go without other things. I've never had a credit card, and I think that helps!
And Oliver doesn't mind either! I know it will probably come back to bite me on the bum one day when he's a spoiled, Dudley Dursley-type child (Last year you bought 37 presents! This year there's only 36!), but seeing his excited face just does it for me every time!
This is what our loungeroom looked like Christmas morning:

And yes, most of those presents are for Ollie!

And the 'other' Christmas duty?
We'd made a decision fairly early in December that we would go to Anthony's aunt and uncle's house for Christmas lunch, because there are always lots of people there and Oliver was keen to be around lots of people. When we got there, we found out that Oliver would be the only kid there, which kinda sucked, but it did mean he had the attention (sort of) of all his uncles and aunties.

So we knew it was going to be a busy day. In the past, we have just gone to see one side of the family, because I've always thought the running around was a little ridiculous. We give our kids all this cool stuff, then whip them out of the house for a good 6 hours - away from everything they've just unwrapped (then come back too exhausted to do anything!).
Since I'd always decided to do Christmas just for the kids, this always seemed a little weird, so one set of family it was...

Was. This Christmas Day, we went to see my parents on the way to Christmas lunch. It actually wasn't too bad, because we had a nice peaceful sit with mum and dad first. Usually I'd prefer to hang out with them, because it's fairly relaxed and quiet. Mum and Dad gave us (as well as some other awesome things) these wooden letters for our lounge room. I think they look quite nice!

 

This kind of Samuel-related present I don't mind. In fact, I think it's lovely. There were also a couple of other 'Samuel' presents: an Oxfam goat (in Sam's name) from Anthony's aunt and uncle, as well as a Goodberrys voucher for us from Anthony's brothers and sisters-in-law.
When people start to buy things for Sam (so far not too many, but a little disturbing when it does happen), that's when I start to get a little concerned. (I'll talk about this in another post though.)


It was a lovely lunch, where we all ate way too much (surprise surprise!), but there was some nice conversation and a relaxed time with some of my favourite people. So definitely worth it. In the evening, my best friend and her son came over, and we sat like zombies for a little while, before we all decided to pack it in.

So yes, a nice day all in all. But next year, I think I might stay home!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Checking In...

I thought I'd better check in with y'all, to let you know I'm still here!

Wednesday was really lovely. I think the way we chose to spend the day was perfect. In the morning, the three of us reflected a little bit, just the three of us. Then we headed briefly over to Anthony's mum's place to float some candles in the bath in Sam's memory.

From 12-8pm, we had a steady flow of people through the house. I kept up a heap of food all day (I love to feed people!) and we talked and laughed and remembered. It really was great.
A group of Sam's friends came over for a while, which was just lovely. They sat in my study (because we don't have a 'Sam' room any more), ate chips, drank Pepsi Max (Sam's drink of choice), and talked about Sam. They even wrote down some nice Sam memories for me (which I might share with you some time soon!)

Anthony's very talented brother Christopher recently completed a mural in Sam's honour:
We had hung it next to our mural:

And many of our guests added new messages. It was nice to see some of the thing people had written

Of course, I wish that the reason for the get-together never happened, but it was a fitting way to honour Sam and mark the passing of a whole year without him. I, for one, really appreciated the chance to talk about Sam without the melancholy.

Thanks to everyone who came along, or sent lovely message (the ones attached to my last post were lovely, thanks!).

Next up - Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Whole Year...

I haven't posted for a few days. It's been a busy time: I had my birthday last Thursday (which was nice - I started a post about it but never finished, perhaps I will some time), and I've been getting ready for tomorrow, and Christmas.

Tomorrow, it will be one year since Sam left us so suddenly. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed. I still have moments of not believing; of thinking he'll walk through the door any moment. I know he won't, but something keeps me wishing.

I thought I'd be more upset, but I guess it's just me. I'm sad - no more or less than I was before, but I'm not crying much (still). We'll see how it is tomorrow.

Right from the start, I vowed that I would not wallow in grief. I would allow myself to be sad, but I would honour Sam's memory by being positive.
I think I've done that pretty well, and I feel good for it. I think it's helped the people around me too. It doesn't mean that I have lots left to help others through their own grief/problems, but it has meant that we can remember Sam in positive ways.

Tomorrow will be no different. We have invited people over - anyone who remembers Sam and would like to spend some time sharing memories. I've called it 'Celebrating Sam Day', and it will hopefully be full of good food (I've got together some Sam favourites - he did like food!); great company and good memories.

I do plan to write about it at some point. Bear with me for a couple of days, because I've got to work Thursday and Friday, and then it's Christmas. I'll post about the day when I can.

Before I go though, I wanted to thank you once again, dear readers. As you know, this blog has been an important part of my journey through grief, and I have been blessed to have your support along the way. I don't know where my blog will go from here, but I do know I'd like to keep writing it. I hope you'll stay with me.

Thanks again. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In his honour

This morning, we attended the year 10 graduation ceremony at Sam's school.
We were invited to witness the ceremony and present the award that was created in honour of Samuel.

It was a long ceremony, with lots of awards; the most I've ever seen at a graduation ceremony, I certainly don't remember that many at my high school graduation!
Oliver was very patient and well behaved, and sat quietly through the whole two hours, which included a performance by a rock band, a short film (which apart from the awful sound was quite good) and many award presentations.

Sam's award was towards the end of the minor presentations (just before the dux etc), which I thought was nice. It was dedicated by Sam's closest (at that school) friends: Jake, Harry and Shane. Anthony handed over the award while Oliver and I stood behind him. (Funnily enough, Oliver did not want to get up on the stage until just before we went up. He's not as confident as I thought!)

In the program, the following explanation appeared along with this photo:
This award is in honour of Sam's contribution to the school and is determined by student nomination. The successful year 10 recipient demonstrates a positive attitude, a love of music, happy disposition and makes a difference in the lives of those around them.

I liked that. Because what they've described was pretty much Sam. We donated a prize for the award recipient: a $100 JB Hifi voucher (because Sam loved music and would definitely approved of a prize like this) and a $30 Goodberrys voucher (because Sam loved Goodberrys, right from the first time he went there with his Grandad). Don't ask my why we picked those amounts, although $130 is like $10 for each one of Sam's years with us.
The prize went to the sister of one of Sam's best friends, which was really nice. They'd known each other since Sam was 3 (She had even been to a few of Sam's birthday parties). It was good that there was a bit of a personal connection for us the first time they presented the award.

All in all, it was a good morning. Sam's music teacher even gave us one of Sam's exercise books that she'd found in the music room. It's nice to have another reminder of him, after we've gone over and over the ones we have here.

We also got a copy of the yearbook, which has a page dedicated to Sam. I'll scan it when I have some time and put it in, but basically it's a short paragraph of him, with the photo above, a photo of the tree planting ceremony and a photo of the plaque.

So once again, we are reminded of all the good that Sam left in the world, and how there are some lovely people out there that are always happy to celebrate his memory and help us through our grief.

Thanks to them all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The C-word

Yes, I'm talking about Christmas (what did you think I was gonna say? This is a family blog!) ;p

Since I 'growed up', I've never been really big on Christmas. I think it all started when I was 15...

As you know, retailers like to start their Christmas celebrations early. And department stores are the worst offenders. Think about how annoying it is to see Christmas decorations going up in September and hearing Christmas carols everywhere you go (OK, I realise this isn't annoying for everyone, so bear with me!). Now imagine what it's like for the poor staff of those department stores, who don't get to pass through for 45 minutes or so, instead they endure the carols (and the festive air) for whole shifts. Sometimes marathon 15 hour shifts...

This was my life for those couple of Christmases. By the time I moved on to other jobs, I was pretty much cured of the festive spirit. And as you well know, last Christmas was just about the worst time of my whole life, so we don't have a lot of good to go on.


Me Me Me!
It also doesn't help that my birthday's a little over a week before Christmas. However I say this, it will sound selfish and petulant, but sharing your birthday with the 'festive season' sucks! There are the 'here's your birthday/Christmas present in one' moments (which thankfully don't happen too often as I have a wonderful family); the fact that your birthday gets forgotten in the rush of end-of term/Christmas shopping/party season; and that you never get a full house at your birthday parties because of all the Christmas dinners and other events that go on at that time of the year.
I can't help it, I like birthdays, especially mine. I like to make a fuss of those kinds of events. It could be a Sagittarius thing (if you read the profile, you may well recognise some of my personality traits!). I do like the attention...

And when Anthony and I hooked up, we weren't all that keen either. Both of us are atheists and it always seemed a little hypocritical to celebrate the birth of Christ. After all, we do live in a society which incorporates many religious perspectives (don't we?).


But...
Having said all that, we did make the decision early on that we wouldn't deprive our kids of Christmas. We didn't want them being the only one in the class who didn't get a present (a little less common when Sam was little); and I loved (love) buying them lots of presents.

And as the years have gone on, I've got a little better at getting into the spirit. I put lights up every year, and decorate the lounge room with the kids. I buy too many pressies for them and usually bake yummy shortbread for gifts. We put cookies and carrots out for santa and hang stockings up on Christmas Eve.

I don't do Christmas cards. I tried it a couple of times, but can either never get them out on time, don't send enough, or forget all together. Eventually I decided I wouldn't waste the paper (they just get chucked out anyway, don't they?) I do try to say a quick hello/happy Christmas to most people I know though.


The Tree
We've never been very traditional with our Christmas trees either. At first we had a little potted pine (like my parents have had for years), but we eventually grew out of them (or did they grow out of us?) We then moved to a potted grass tree that we dragged inside every Christmas and draped a very small amount of tinsel on. Our last one had lasted for a few years but died not long after Sam did...

So this year we've done something different. And I love it!
You all know about the Lego obsession that has taken hold in this house. I'm happy to report that Christmas has not escaped Lego's clutches. This is our Christmas tree this year (and probably from now on). I'm very proud of it (yes, I built most of it!).
We had a great time building it, and it really does look great. We're already making plans for next year's bigger and better on (we will happily accept all green brick donations!) , and we're planning on showing it off in Lego circles.


So take a deep breath...
Given the shaky start that Christmas and my adult life have had, I don't have high hopes for a season of careless abandon, but I will try, and I know everyone else will too. This one will be hard, almost as hard as the last one, and they will probably never get any easier, but we'll give it our best shot. Oliver deserves it. And I guess we probably do too.

Happy Festive Season, lovely readers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The AMAZING things that people do.

An amazing thing happened today that I wanted to share with you. And publicly thank the person that made it happen.

When I got home, there was a hand-delivered letter in our mailbox, along with a fairly significant amount of money. When I say significant, I mean enough to pay for the ambulance bill.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. At first I couldn't really grasp what was going on. When I read the letter attached, I cried. A lot. Partly because I felt guilty that someone would give me that much cash (there's that personality flaw of mine again!), but mainly because of the overwhelmingly kind act by someone who didn't need to make themselves known, that didn't need acknowledgement.

The letter was anonymous, by someone who has read my blog. I hope they don't mind if I share the final paragraph:

"So please accept this money as my 'random act of kindness' to cover the ambulance bill and know that me and my family are thinking of you all and hope that this gives you more time to think about & do the things that matter the most to you!!"

What a lovely, lovely random act of kindness it was. Generous? Absolutely! It really puts my 'spare change' random acts to shame! A bit naughty? Probably. I don't know who did it, but this close to Christmas that's gotta be a strain on the finances.

But I'm not going to dwell. I'm not going to analyze it to death or attempt to solve the mystery. Those of you that know me will understand how very difficult that is. How difficult it is for me to accept that someone can be that nice to me. How difficult it is for me to accept this kindness, knowing that I can't pay it back.

But I can pay it forward, and I will. I will keep being nice. I will keep doing kind things. I hope that my wonderful benefactor gets a good feeling out of this and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. You have truly made a difference today.

Thank you

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So busy!

I know that's no excuse (even though I've used it before), but really, I've been flat out!
I've got this boss that just cracks the whip all day! He just works me sooooo hard. Honestly, it's so hard getting excited about going to work...

Nah, just kidding. That was for the benefit of Clint, in case he has decided to read my blog. Clint is my wonderful workmate (who at the moment is also acting as my boss). He's a lovely guy, very clever and supportive.

The other day, Clint was having a problem with his car. Another problem in a long line of problems he'd been having. I told him that he was probably due for some good stuff to happen, as good tended to follow bad.

He asked me if I was having my good times yet. Which is a good question considering the really bad thing that happened to me nearly a year ago, and considering the statement I had just made.

I told Clint that yes, my good times did seem to have arrived. Because I got to work with him. Yes, it was a little tongue-in-cheek,but there was an element of truth to it.
I love my job. I think I'm pretty good at it, and I really enjoy going to work very day. It doesn't hurt that the people I work with are also pretty awesome: Clint is (as I've mentioned) a very smart, supportive and funny guy; the only other person in our section (until three days ago) is also very supportive, and he will do anything to help out. Great people. Another person started on Friday, and she's pretty cool too. Nice and relaxed, which will make for a lovely place for even longer.

So yes, job-wise, the good times are here. Unfortunately it's not a permanent place, and I'll probably have to go back to a school next year (not sure how ready I am for that), but for now, life is good.

Things are pretty good at home too. The boys are both reasonably settled and happy...although Anthony's got some kind of issue with his back that's getting him down (and severely slowing down progress on the kitchen!) and Oliver's gotta have some minor surgery early next year which is a bit scary (a story for another day- this post is about good stuff!)

So yes, good times have followed bad. Is this pretty standard, or do we just notice the good things more when we have had bad experiences? Do we have to have bad experiences to appreciate the good? That doesn't seem fair, but I guess it's logical.

However, if I knew who was in charge of doling out the bad, I'd have a quiet word to them! I've always been pretty good at realizing how good I have things, I didn't need an extra lesson. I know there are people put there who are much worse off than I am. It doesn't make losing Sam any easier, but it's always been good to have that sense of perspective. It's where I get my horribly annoying optimism.

So, these are our good times. We've have enough bad for a while, thank you very much. So I'm just going to enjoy my good times.

Hopefully things are good for you too, dear readers. I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movies

As I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a movie buff. Probably less so now; either because there aren't many good ones or because I don't have time to watch too many (unlike my lovely brother-in-law who sees at least three movies at the cinema every week).

I was working at the cinema when Sam was born. Of course, being a casual employee in the private sector I didn't get paid maternity leave (actually I missed the boat on that one with both kids, but that's a story for another day), and I went back to work when he was 3 months old. That's ok because Anthony decided to start a home business and do all the dad stuff.

The great thing about working there though, was the free (and later after a big corporation took over, cheap) movies. We went to the movies a lot!

The first movie I remember taking Sam to was 'Austin Powers'. He would have been under 2, but I wanted to see it and I figured that if he got restless I could just leave, it wouldn't cost me anything.

As it turned out, I didn't have to worry. I had to take out him for a little settle when it it got noisy, but apart from that he was fine.

So from then on, we went to lots of movies. Sometimes just me and Sam, sometimes him and his dad while I was working, sometimes all three of us. He got very good at the routine very quickly. He was great at sitting still, and as he was fairly mature, able to sit through movies most kids his age would squirm through. Not that we let him watch movies that were too unsuitable. There were movies meant for older people than he, but he could generally follow what was going on, and totally understood the difference between fact and fiction, special effects and reality.
Oliver's the same. He can sit through movies (and TV shows) that other kids find scary or don't understand, but he does. He doesn't worry about scary stuff, because he's very clear about the whole 'it's just a movie' thing (we saw Harry Potter 7 (.1) last night and there was a bit where everyone in the cinema seemed to jump, but he didn't even flinch).

Needless to say, Sam grew up loving movies too. By the time he was 12/13, he was going quite often with his friends, but he still went with us too.
I loved having someone to talk to about movies, and actors, and he was also the one who would watch movies with me that Anthony didn't want to watch, like Slumdog Millionaire. We watched that together one night and he was very moved by it. He hadn't really seen much of what other cultures are like (my fault I guess, I hadn't really exposed him to much outside our own little city). I remember we had a great conversation about it afterwards.

Sam also liked the kinds of movies that Anthony likes: b grade and violent. Although, he would tend to groan about how dumb they were while secretly enjoying them. They often went to the movies together, Anthony enjoyed having someone with him who wouldn't cringe or complain about how stupid the movie was (well, much, anyway!)

The last movie we saw with Sam (at the movies) was 2012 (I think, though it could also have been Surrogates, the memories are a little blurred there). It was nothing out of the ordinary, I wish I could hold that memory a little closer, but I can't. It was something we did so many times, the same way each time. It wasn't special, it was just something we did as a family. I didn't think then that I'd want to badly to remember every little detail.

Actually, of all the 'moments' this year, when I've had a twinge of sadness about Sam, or when I've really missed him, many of them have been movie related.

First there was last Christmas. I had bought him 'Year One' on DVD, which he said was hilarious (we watched it some time this year, it wasn't). I often bought him DVDs for Christmas, so last year wasn't; any different. I was hard seeing that familiar shaped package sitting with all his other unopened presents.

About 3 weeks after Sam died, Anthony, Oliver and I went and saw Avatar. Movie-wise, it was OK: the same story I've seen in a million movies, and very impressive graphics. But it was beautiful too, lovely creatures and colours etc. I think Samuel would have loved it - it was an interesting mix of action and story and I remember at one stage crying because I realised that he'd never get to see it.

And I've done that a few other times this year. When we saw How to Train Your Dragon,  the final Harry Potter; Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 2, even Toy Story 3; I cried because I knew Sam would have loved it. He had loved the first Iron Man and all the other Toy Story movies (he was really little around the time of the first Toy Story movie, so he was the target audience. He probably wouldn't have admitted to liking them any more, but I knew he had wanted to see it).

It's funny, with all those times I couldn't cry, a movie could generally set me off. A lot of it is knowing he would have loved it and will never see it, but it's also all the movie watching we still had to do together, and all the conversations that went with them.

I'll miss that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

16 Years

16 Years ago, on the 26th of November, Anthony and I had our first kiss.

Because we're not married (I have wanted to be at various times through our relationship, but mostly I'm happy with the status quo), this is the date we decided would be our 'anniversary'.

It was such a cliched way to begin a relationship. We'd known each other a while, and were pretty good friends. On the 26th we were sitting outside listening to Motley Crue and talking. Somehow, we got into a 'tickle fight' which ended up with us kissing. Lol.

It was actually Anthony that chased me after that. I was still young (20) and fancy free, but he pursued me and after a week or so we were an 'item'.

As you know, about 5 months in, we discovered I was pregnant with Sam. The rest is history. I'd love it if he was here to help us celebrate. I know he'd be proud we managed to get through this tough year with our relationship intact (god knows he's seen us go through some shit!)

Happy anniversary Anthony. Here's to another 16 and beyond!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ahhhh...

It's been a heck of a week. I've been so incredibly busy it's been hard to stop and take a breath.
But it's been a good one.

The best part was our trip to Jervis Bay on the weekend.

When I drove down with Clint (my colleague) on Friday, it was wet and miserable and I thought it was going to be an awful, wet weekend. But by Saturday morning, the sun had come out, the wind had died down, and it was just lovely.

We packed a fair bit into the 4 days we were there. Clint and I worked at the school on the Friday and Monday, and what a lovely little school it is. How's this for picturesque:
 Yes, that's the bay in the background. The kids often go for walks down there, apparently.

The bay is simply gorgeous! Beautiful white sandy beaches:



clear water, lots of lovely little towns and forests,













and a cool old lighthouse:

The boys had a good time. We swam, went for a nice little sightseeing drive (I could easily move to Corrorong right now if I had $500000). We saw lots of kangaroos (the Navy base we stayed on was densely populated with them - the street we stayed in had 20 times as many kangaroos than residents!); an echidna that we had to move off the road to drive past:


There was the tame possum that hung out in the backyard:

As well as beautiful parrots, lizards and other funky wildlife - what a treat for a 7 year old (and a animal loving 39 year old!).
They also liked climbing on the rocks in Nowra and near Honeymoon Bay (what a gorgeous spot that is!)


And I fell in love with this spooky house (called Reganville) near Culburra Beach. Doesn't it look like something out of a horror movie??


It certainly sparked my desire to move closer to the sea. In fact I think I like this area even better than The Bega Valley! It's a pity that real estate prices are a little higher there too. But by the end of the weekend, Anthony and I (and Oli) were talking about getting me a job in the school so we could move there. You never know...

All in all, a lovely weekend. Followed by an enormously busy week (which is not over yet!), but I will hopefully manage a bit of relaxing on the weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just when I thought it was over...

...we get the bill.

I'm heading away this weekend for work, with the boys joining me for the weekend (burglars beware - the house will be manned!). It's set to be a lovely weekend by the sea: quiet Jervis Bay (I've never been but I've heard it's lovely); a relaxing weekend; and free accommodation.

Which is good, because I have a heap of bills to pay. Why do they all come at once?

And that was OK too. I was prepared to have a nice, if a little more sensible than usual, weekend.
Then today, waiting for me, was the ambulance bill.

Remember a couple of months ago Anthony knocked himself out? Well today we got the bill. $770. Yay.

Yes, I'll admit I was naive enough to think that my taxes, or possibly my rates, paid for things like that, but sadly I was wrong. I guess I was also lulled into a false sense of security because it's been two months since it actually happened. But no, there it is. And they were lovely enough to make it due two weeks before Christmas. Thanks.

Don't get me wrong, I am very appreciative of what those people did for Anthony (and me) that day, and I think paramedics do a fantastic job. But nearly $800? Just before Christmas? Wow.

Never mind, we'll carry on, like we always do.
Luckily we've bought Oliver's Christmas presents (sorry everyone else, think you're missing out this year!), because it's going to be a little tight for a while!

On a brighter note

I meant to do this on Sunday, but you know me...

I just wanted to publicly wish my parents a very

Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary!!

Congratulations to my lovely mum and dad. Who have certainly been through some ups and downs over the years. But they have stuck together, and for 40 years! It's fairly rare in this day and age, so well done!

xx

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If you could meet your younger self...

 

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

Alexander Graham Bell



I often wonder what my life would be like if I'd done things differently.

I've made quite a few bad choices in my life. But if I had the chance to go back and tell myself not to do some things, would I do it? Would you?

Thanks to Oliver's unholy fascination with Doctor Who (and to the fact that I'm a product of the 'Back to the Future" 80s), I know that changing any event in history is bad news. But apart from the ripping-apart-the-fabric-of-time-itself thing, what could possibly happen?

Obviously, if I could travel in time, there is one thing that I would definitely change. I would spend all of the night of the 21st of December, 2009, sitting beside my beautiful son's bed, waiting for the moment that I could save his life.
What consequences would that possibly have? Well, we'd still have him, which would be awesome.
There are some good things that have come from this tragic event (if you've been following the journey this year, you will know what I mean). Would they still have happened if we didn't lose Sam? I'd like to think so, but I don't know....


What else might I change?
Well, my whole life, I've wanted to be thin. I resigned myself to the fact that I never will be. But in the back of my mind the wish is still there. If I could visit my 16 year old; perhaps 10-15 kilos overweight but curvaceous and healthy self; would I tell me to just be happy the way I am? Would I let me know that by the time I'm 36, being 15 kilos overweight is actually OK, and much more acceptable than it was in the early 90s? Would I tell me to get to gym and get rid of it now before I have kids and it becomes impossible?

But what would happen if I did? Would I have ended up with Anthony, who actually liked more 'realistic' women? Or would I have stayed with some of the horrible boys who told me I'd be 'the one', if only I was skinnier?

Or what about if I'd done all the travelling I now desperately want to do? If I went back in time, would I tell my 18 year old self to travel now, while I had the chance?

If I'd done those things, I may never have ended up with Anthony. Then I wouldn't have had Sam or Oliver. I wouldn't have the home I have now. I probably wouldn't have gone to uni and got my teaching degree either.

Come to think of it, maybe I would tell myself to study more. To go to uni earlier than 27.

Would I tell me to stop some of the self-destructive behaviour that accompanied me through my late teens and early twenties? Surely that's one change I could make that wouldn't affect too much!

Would I tell myself that buying all those VHS tapes was a mistake? Or that ruffle skirts really were  a mistake? That I should have paid more attention that night I met Dave Grohl and the other boys from Nirvana? That I should have put more on my mortgage (which would have been well and truly paid off now if I had)? Or that school really was the easiest time of my life and I should just enjoy it?

We all have regrets. But how much would we actually change? What would you change?


Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.

Jonathon Larson 

 

Oh, and thanks to Blog This for the post idea.

Thank you

xx

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: - Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own.

Adam Lindsay Gordon


I'm a nice person. Well, I like to think so anyway.
I've always tried to live honestly and behave in a nice way. That's not to say that I am completely without sin. God knows I've made some very poor choices in life - but most of them only affect me.

I have gone through life following this code. Most of the time there are positive results: I get many of the things I want or need through hard work and a good reputation, rather than deceit; people tend to like me OK (once they get past my strangeness and patchy conversation skills); and I have a sense of general well-being (or is it moral superiority??)  

There are also times when this approach has made things difficult. I've missed out on things that more unscrupulous people haven't; I've got myself in trouble once or twice where lying would have let me get away with it; and sometimes I've made things harder than they would have been if I'd taken short cuts or taken advantage of others.

I always thought being nice would see me through; that in the end it would 'all work out' because I'd taken the high road. This belief was shaken considerably when Samuel died. These sorts of things aren't supposed to happen to nice people! For a while I thought I'd chuck the niceness out and start looking after number one, but I didn't think Sam would like that either. I'm still a bit pissed off about it, but I feel good when I'm being nice!

Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.

Unknown


There's one nice thing I love to do, that also benefits me, and that's random acts of kindness. Just little things:giving someone my leftover parking voucher (which usually has lots of time left on it - 'cause I always overestimate the time I'll spend); giving someone the change they need when they're a little short at the checkout line; smiling at someone who looks a little down; giving the postie or the garbage man  an easter egg...
I also like to do it at work: little chocolates of lollies left in people's pigeon hole; a note or card to someone who's a little down; finishing a job that someone started but couldn't finish themselves.

Last year, I even got my kids in on it. We had a 'Random acts of kindness' month, where they did things like help younger kids on the playground, say nice things to people and pay each other compliments. It was lovely to see how excited they got about it. And how good they felt.

Because that's what it all comes down to. It makes me feel good. To know that I've made someone else smile, or feel a little better; that's what it's all about for me. I know I've probably made myself sound like some paragon of kind perfection, but that's truly not why I do it. I love that warm and fuzzy feeling. I'm sure you all know how it feels too. In fact, I've already written about some of the kind things people have done for me. Here and here.

We should all do more of it. What a world it would be!

Need inspiration? Check out the Random Acts of Kindness foundation. I'd love to hear about some of your 'random acts'.

Monday, November 8, 2010

So far...

...so good.
I'm definitely feeling things more. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Actually, I'm kind of glad to be feeling again. I think I've been a little numb for the past couple of months.
The sadness seems to creep in a little more. And I find myself thinking of Sam more often. But it's not like it was before. I think time and a few life changes have made it easier to feel and then move on.

I'm doing a good job at keeping up with the exercise (I've added 'Pump' and 'Body Jam' to my list of regular classes). But the food...not going so well. Just want to eat junk again.

I'll get there...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flexi

I had a flex day today. In the six weeks I've been doing my new job I've managed to build up 19 flex hours, so my manager said 'you'd better take a day off!'. I didn't take much convincing!

At the moment, I'm doing 3 people's jobs, so it's not unbelievable that I have been working past my 7 hours and 21 minutes each day. Not that I mind - I'm still loving the job very much.

It was definitely nice having a day off without having to call in sick. It also happened to coincide with an assembly at Oliver's school, so I had a nice walk, went and watched my boy sing a bit (and wipe his nose on his shirt a couple of times) and then came back and did some sorting in my 'study'.

I got rid of a heap of teaching stuff that I haven't used in a while ever, and made it a bit more comfy for sitting and blogging in (among other things).



The cupboard in the corner is the one I put all of Sam's stuff into (and on top of). The Elmo, purple guy and the stuffed dog were all Sam's, and the Pooh Bear toy was Oli's first 'Santa' gift.
You can just see the top of the recliner I've jammed in here (the blanket on the back of it was also Sam's) and some of my school stuff. The cute rabbit picture is one my mum did with cross stitch.

This is more of my school stuff and stationery. Plus some of my landscapes. Not ones I painted, but ones I've bought. I love a good landscape painting. Especially one with water in it.



This is my lovely iMac on my desk, with the backyard out the window.
It's a little cramped, but it's ALL MINE!

I love having somewhere to go and hang and know that no one else can mess it up or dump stuff in it (only me!)

All in all, a good flex day. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No more?

I've decided it's time to come off the anti-depressants.
 
When he first prescribed them, my GP suggested I stop taking them around October.
 
Well October came around and I really had to think about it for a while. Would it be better to wait until after December, when it had been a year since we lost Sam?
 
But what good would it do to wait? I have definitely appreciated the balance they have given me, but at the same time, I do want to be able to feel real emotions; and know I can deal with life without drugs.

So I've been back down on half doses for the last week or so. I won't say it hasn't made a difference because I've noticed that I am feeling things a bit more. I'm also thinking about Sam more.   
None of the hills and trenches yet, but he's definitely on my mind more.
But, now that I've had a chance to sort through some things, that's not so bad. There are still so many things I want to remember about Sam, and write down. I think that is so much easier with a clear head.

Of course, I could be kidding myself and fall in a heap again. I don't think I will, but I just don't know.

So tomorrow's my last half pill. I'm going to give it two weeks and see how I go. I've still got a couple of prescription repeats if I need them, but I hope I won't.
Stick with me readers, I might have stuff to get off my chest.
x   

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

I've never been really big on Halloween. Until a couple of years ago, I was under the (incorrect) assumption that is was a dumb American tradition that didn't deserve a look in.
For the last couple of years, I've kept lollies aside for the night, and have had a couple of trick-or-treaters come to the door (mainly Sam's friends).

This year, I thought I'd like to get involved. For obvious reasons, I'm fairly down about Christmas, and thought it would be nice to make a fuss about something else. After all, it's about the dead - honouring the good spirits and scaring off the bad ones. Also, I do like to dress up!

One of Oliver's friend's mum (check out her blog if you like) invited us over for a Halloween party. We got a little bit excited about it, and got all dressed up. Oliver as Dracula:
And me as a witch:
We had fun at the party; there's something cool about being around people (adults, kids and teens) that are dressed up in funky stuff and are just relaxing.

Oliver was going trick-or-treating with his nanna tonight, and I was kind of hoping we'd get a few kids here too. I picked up a couple of big pumpkins for $3 each (reduced from $20) and we carved them this afternoon. This is Ollie's:
His and the one Anthony made looked very cool in the dark with candles burning within:
But sadly, I only received one little visitor, and that was my neighbour's granddaughter.

I'm a little disappointed, but I guess Halloween hasn't caught on yet. Still, it was fun, and we've got a big stash of lollies here now!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Same but different...

This is Samuel at 7:
And this is Oliver at 7:
For a while, they looked very much alike, especially when they were babies, and when they were around 4 years old. But as you can see, Oliver is starting to look less like Sam as he gets older.

They've always had very different personalities too - Oliver is the more boisterous, friendly and outgoing, whereas Samuel was gentle and caring and reserved (sometimes).

And as Oliver gets older, I notice some things that are very similar and some things that are very different...

Music
There are still similarities there. Obviously in a house full of music they both grew up with an appreciation of it (and both went through a 'turn it down mum!' phase).
One thing though is that Oliver sings. All the time. He's always singing to himself (occasionally throwing up some amusing lyrics as he does. And he can actually hold a tune. There's a audio clip of him singing in the shower in this post. He also has a great ear for music, and remembers it really well. Yesterday when we were driving he was singing a tune and he said 'does this sound right?'. I asked him what song it was and he said 'it's the one from Harry Potter when they're walking through the hallways' (or something like that). I didn't even notice that music in the movie, but he's singing it!
I am trying to encourage him to get singing lessons or learn an instrument, but he says he'll only do it with me. But I can only play saxophone well enough to teach someone. I'd rather he played guitar or piano. Perhaps I should learn with him...

Drawing
Samuel liked to draw, and we often bought him pencils or drawing books. But it was something he did every now and again. As Oliver got older, he would try to draw with Sam, and get frustrated when he couldn't draw the same things.
Lately, Oliver's been drawing a lot. It seems that it's his activity of choice lately. He'll sit for long periods of time just filling pages with little drawings (I've got a really good one at work, I'll bring it home and scan it in).
He takes a lot of time and care with it, and gets upset if it's not working out like he wants it to. I keep telling him he's got good skills for a 7 year old, but he's very intense about it.

Around the house
At the moment, one of the most noticeable differences between Samuel and Oliver is the way they are about housework. Samuel did do a lot of jobs/chores from an early age, but was never really interested in helping out.
Oliver does jobs too, but (very strangely considering the rest of us slobs!) also keeps his room clean, and volunteers to help out quite a lot. Yesterday, he weeded a whole garden bed for us. Yes, I did offer to pay him, but even when he was sick of it and complaining of a sore back, when I told him to take a break he decided to finish.
He's also very different to Sam when it comes to school and homework. Oliver is up, dressed and ready by 7-7:30 most mornings. We always had to drag Sam out of bed, even when he was young. He also used to like watching TV in the mornings, but Oliver often leaves it off.
Oliver also has a really great attitude about homework. Even if he (we) forget and leave it until the last minute, he'll make sure he finishes all of it and hands it in on time. Samuel was never that conscientious about it!

Activity and TV
And Oliver's the sporty one. As I've said before, Samuel liked sport, and went through active phases, but he was never a runner and didn't seek out opportunities to be active.
Oliver loves to run. He runs to school each day and enjoys being outside and active.
He also doesn't watch as much TV as Sam used to. The TV is on a fair bit (bad habit I know!), but he's often off doing something else. There are TV shows he likes, but he's just as happy doing other things. That's OK by me because I don't like TV much either.

Sometimes I wonder if all this is natural. If Oliver would have been like this if Samuel was still alive. Is some of it because he wants the attention, because he wants to please, or is it him? I guess I'll never know, but I'm not complaining. He's nice to have around.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Books

I love to read. I guess growing up in a family who enjoyed books didn't hurt, neither did having a librarian mum (and dad for a while...well he wasn't really a librarian, but they did both work at the National Library...); Nor did growing up in a time where the most exciting thing playing on the TV on a Saturday afternoon was an old movie...

Anyway, I've always tried to encourage reading in the house. I've filled it with books and Anthony (who is not a keen reader but understands the value of good role models) and I have always read to the kids and listened to them read.

When Samuel was little, his favourite books were the Dr Seuss ones I read to him over and over: 'Green Eggs and Ham' (how could he resist a book with a character named Sam I am?), 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish', and one called 'Sam and the Firefly' (again with the name!).
He also liked an obscure little book called 'Apple Mouse', which I read to him again and again.

We did all the home reading stuff (I even volunteered at school to change them every morning), and he picked up the whole reading thing pretty quickly.
When he was in year three, Sam's teacher noticed that he 'drifted off' from time to time. His handwriting was also pretty awful, so we got a heap of tests done.
It turned out that Sam did have some fine motor problems, and he had to do some occupational therapy to strengthen his hands, but that was the only 'problem'. The IQ test results were high, and in grade three, he was reading at a 12 year old+ level.

Which was good for a while. He got into books, especially ones like the 'Captain Underpants' series, and a wide range of non-fiction.

But after a while he started to lose interest. He found other things that he enjoyed more - friends, video games, bikes and toys, and was reading less and less. By the time he was 12-13, he didn't read books at all. It wasn't that he couldn't, it was more that he didn't want to.

It didn't help that his friends didn't read much either. In fact their attitude made me giggle sometimes! I remember saying to Jake (one of Sam's best friends) "are you going to read the new Harry Potter book?" and he said "why would I read it? I can just see the movie."

Actually, when I think about it, I'm not too worried. Sam (and his friends) were (are) all intelligent, articulate kids who did pretty well at school anyway. And the more I learn about new ways of learning (through my fabulous new job) the more I let go of the 'kids must read books' mentality.
I do like it when they do though - it gives me something to talk about with them!

But despite not reading much for his own pleasure, one thing that Sam did do well is read to Oliver. And most of the time he did it willingly. I talked to him about being a good role model (not saying that books, school was boring was my main point), and he was. He quite often read to Oliver, even right up to the week before he died. Oliver loved snuggling up next to him and hearing him read, and I think Sam secretly loved it too.

Oliver's showing some signs of being more of a book lover, even now. He'll happily listen to me read (we're up to Harry Potter 4 at the moment), and is pretty enthusiastic about reading for himself. He likes the same books that Sam liked, and more. I'm hoping that he'll keep it up!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sam's School Memorial

A while back, I wrote about the memorial ceremony at Sam's school. I took lots of photos, but as of today they are still trapped on my camera (I know, I know, I could have been more pro-active about getting them off, but I haven't).

However, lovely Gilly at Sam's school (his favourite teacher who has been so great to us over the last 10 months), who I saw last week when she came in for a workshop, sent me a disc with some photos on it. So I thought I'd at least show you the lovely plaque they have placed in the main school corridor:
And these are the three lemon trees:
Apparently they were well watered in the holidays, lots of keen volunteers! So they will go well I think...

The Human Condition

3 reasons why I'll never understand us humans.

We drive around and around to find the park closest to our destination.
Most of the time, we drive around for longer than it would have taken to park further away and walk. Of course I understand that some people need to park near the entrance, but they're not usually the ones I see circling the carpark!
One place where I understand this behaviour the least is the gym. Each Thursday night I go to a 6:30 class. At that time of night the gym is really busy, so I usually park in a distant carpark. What always cracks me up is the people that drive round and around looking for a park next to the entrance. You're going to the gym people! Surely an extra 100m of walking wouldn't hurt??

We drop everything to go to a funeral, but not to other more happy occasions.
Not that I didn't appreciate it when everyone came to Sam's funeral. But this one has always puzzled me. If someone dies, especially unexpectedly, we do all we can to get to the funeral, but we rarely visit those people 'just for fun' or for birthdays, Christmas etc.
I'm guilty of it too, I admit, and I know it's a time/financial thing, but something my mother-in-law said to me years ago has always stuck with me: "You'd go to their funeral, so go now when you can enjoy them".

We worship beauty and physical talent, not intelligence.
I don't think I need to elaborate. But look at the salaries of elite sportspeople and actors...
And, I always loved this ad:


What things do we do that make you ponder?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another month passes

It's been 10 months since we lost Sam.
He's the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.

Cakes are important!

I like to make a big fuss about birthdays. I'm not really a big fan of Christmas (even less so now), so I tend to go a little overboard with birthdays.
Ollie's party was a big success, and he was very pleased with all his pressies.

But he loved the cake. It took me several hours and two cakes, but this is what I ended up making:
It was my first time using fondant, and I won't be commissioned for a wedding any time soon, but Oliver loved it, so that's what counts!

I've always liked making awesome cakes for the boys. This post was going to be about some of them, but I haven't been able to find the photos yet. Perhaps when I find them I'll put them up.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Hole

By the end of yesterday I was missing Sam a whole lot. I guess it was the combination of the busy week (and a dumb movie we were watching), it just brought a few feelings to the surface. We both were feeling it - a bit of a sad moment, but it was good to talk about it and have a cuddle.

This grief thing is so strange. It's been nearly 10 months, so things are different (and I guess you could say better): we have established some different routines, and we can laugh more, have fun...

But there are also the hard things. The memories are starting to fade a little- sometimes it's hard to picture his face, or there are those moments that are just below the surface, out of reach.

It's like I'm carrying a big hole around with me. Most of the time I can carry it easily, I hardly notice it's there. Then other times it gets so big I can't hold onto it, I feel like I'm going to fall in.

And I still find myself (most of the time unconsciously) trying to fill that hole. With new pursuits, with busyness and, sadly, with food. I don't know how deep my hole is, but I hope I find better ways to deal with it.

Ah well, new week, positive start. More from me later.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Take the bad with the good

It's been one of those weeks of mixed emotion.

I've had lots of nice stuff going on: some inspiring and challenging days at work, Powderfinger concert, and of course Oliver's birthday yesterday. But all of them have been tinged with sadness that Sam's not here to share them.

Sam would have loved the way education seems to be headed (at least where I'm currently sitting!): exciting new collaboration tools; online stuff that makes learning much more relevant and interesting; more autonomy for kids; etc...
We've had Stephen Heppell (an education/technology 'guru') here for the last couple of days sharing some interesting stories with us. As I sat there hearing about wonderful places around the world doing amazing things with education, I was also thinking of how much Sam would have enjoyed visiting these places with me. I miss my travel buddy!

Then, Powderfinger was pretty amazing. It was the first time I'd been to a concert that was being recorded for DVD, and it was so cool! The band was on-form, the crowd was pumped up and having lots of fun.

Oliver's birthday has been nice. I think he's enjoyed it. He had his family party last Sunday, with way too much food (I can't help it, I'm a feeder!); lots of presents and a lovely time with family.

On Thursday it was his actual birthday, with more presents, a cake at school, Goodberry's with his grandparents and then dinner at the club (he wore his suit of course!).

Tomorrow (I started this post on Wednesday but am finishing it on Saturday!) is his other birthday party. I'm attempting a 'Tardis' cake, hopefully I'll be able to pull it off!

It was sad having a family birthday with no Sam. He loved parties (especially the yummy food!), and was always good at entertaining people, getting them drinks and helping out (sometimes under sufferance, but usually without complaint!)

Also, the older Oliver gets, the more he looks like Sam. Not all the time; there's just the odd moment when we really see Sam in him. It's not bad I guess, but it is hard sometimes, depending on our mood at the time.

Anyway, gotta get organised. More later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Concert Shirt

I know I've already rambled on a bit about music this last week, but as you know, it's one of my favourite subject to ramble on about!

I've also written before about Sam's love of music, and the wonderful experience he had (Green Day concert) with his Uncle James just 11 days before he died.

Why are these memories rising to the surface again? Because tomorrow I'm going to a concert.

As I have said, Samuel was going to be my new concert buddy; starting with Them Crooked Vultures and then, we think, probably as many as he could drag me along to afterwards. And I wouldn't have minded. I loved sharing music with him. It was one of the things that we had just for us.

So tonight while I was getting my concert shirt out, I started to think about Sam. I was a little sad. I miss him every day, but there are times when I miss him much more. This is one of them.

What's my concert shirt? It's just the one I wore first to Them Crooked Vultures with Sam; but then I wore it again when I went to Groovin' the Moo in May. I'm going to wear it again tomorrow night. It probably sounds weird, but it's like a little part of him comes with me. He would have wanted to go to Powderfinger; he liked them quite a lot, so he's gonna come with me. I get funny looks and probably look a bit strange, but this is one time when I don't care!

I've shown it to you before, but this is what the front looks like:

And this is the back:where I'm going to sew on some kind of reminder of every concert I take Sam to (once the shirt wears out - the photo on the front is already fading). I couldn't get a patch at Groovin' the Moo, so I just sewed my wrist band on!

I should start planning for the long term though - does anyone know a good screen printer?

I'll be back with my Powderfinger experiences later. I'm tired now and going to cuddle up on the lounge with Anthony.

Night Night...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Party Season

Time to kick off the party season...

Today, we're having Oliver's first 'party' for his birthday week. Today's family for afternoon tea (always way too much food but lots of fun!); Thursday's his actual (7th) birthday, and then next Sunday's his real party (with friends).

We could have both of them on the same weekend, but as Anthony has 4 brothers, family things are never small. It's best to separate them a bit so that Oliver doesn't become completely overtired and feral!

Just over a week later, Anthony's brother Tim has his birthday, and then it's Anthony's the next day. No parties here, but we'll all get together for breakfast.

Then, in early November, Anthony's brother Phil, (foster) sister Ange, and brother Christopher have their birthdays one after the other (3 days in a row). I must say, Anthony's mum was very organised in that way!

Then in December, there's James (Anthony's younger brother), then a week later it's my dad's, then 3 days later it's my birthday. (I'm trying not to think too much about what comes after that).

So as you can see, we're in for a busy 3 months, and that's just birthdays! Don't even get me started on work, home, etc etc!!

I'll be back later for an udpate. I think it will be a nice day though!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Dickhead Mentality

I just got yelled at by a passing car.

It's not that I'm upset. In these enlightened times; these days of cyber-bullying and far more sophisticated forms of harassment, I was surprised to hear it.

While I was walking along the footpath not far from my home, a couple of (no doubt) gorgeous hunks of manhood with (probably) genius IQs thought it would be funny to yell "fat whore" at me as they drove past.

Now I admit, I am dressed in shorts that are about 4 sizes too big, an old ratty t shirt and thongs, but it is Saturday morning - I'm in my cleaning clothes! I'll also admit that I'm fat, but a whore? I've never sold my body for money, and it's unlikely that I ever will.

It's not that it upsets me or hurts my feelings, it's more that I thought we'd moved on from that kind of yobbo behaviour. I've obviously led a sheltered life for a long time.

I've never understood it. While I admit that I have self-esteem issues, I've never understood this behaviour. My mental well-being and self-worth is not going to depend on what two passing idiots think of my appearance.

So perhaps they get something out of it? Are they the kind of people who can only feel good if they (think that they do) make other people feel bad? Are they so miserable and unloved that they have to project it onto everyone else?

My response? I gave them the finger. I, too, can be a dickhead.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Me me me me

I thought it would be nice to ramble a bit. Here are some things that you might (or might not) know about me; that you probably don't really care about, but hey, it keeps me bloggin', and don't we all love to talk about ourselves?

Music - one of my favourite subjects!
I think I've made it pretty clear that I love music. I love listening to it, talking about it, and even playing it (me and my sax - that's another story for another day!).
I'm not really sure where that love came from. Well, actually people on both sides of my family love/play music, so maybe I do. I spent my really young years with a fairly interesting playlist consisting of showtunes, Barbra Streisand and the odd Beatles/Isaac Hayes/classical/etc song.

When I was old enough to start thinking about it for myself, I didn't. I listened to what top 4o radio told me to listen to, sitting hunched over the radio waiting for my favourite songs so that I could tape them and listen to them over and over again. I'm sure many of you dear readers are old enough to remember tapes; how the start of every song on the tape had the DJs voice over the top!

So my early favourites were pretty standard 80s teenybopper fare: A-ha, Culture Club, Tears for Fears, Madonna etc. Oh dear.

Luckily, I then met Meg, who was the first to broaden my musical horizons. She moved in next door when I was 12, and we've been mates ever since.
Meg loved Metallica and Megadeth and metal stuff like that, and quickly I discovered that I liked it too. From there, I developed a deep love for Guns n' Roses - I even went to see them in concert in 1992 (that's an interesting tale for another day!)

But being the kind of person that I am, I couldn't stay with one genre/artist for long. There was just so much music out there!
By the time I got to college (at 16), I had discovered Nick Cave and The Cure, and loved the darker, more melodic (but not quite as heavy) stuff they produced. I also found The Doors, Queen and Led Zeppelin, all from well before my time, but bands I still love to this day.

In the 90s, I realised that I could like lots of different kinds of music; and I did. I started going to concerts as much as I could. Some of the amazing acts I've seen include The Ramones (great gig!), Soundgarden, Nirvana (sort of - another story for another day!), Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Living End, Pearl Jam (amazing band - not such an amazing gig. Bummer!), Hunters and Collectors, Marianne Faithfull and U2.

My goal now is to go to at least one concert a year. This year, so far I've been to 2 (Them Crooked Vultures and the Groovin' the Moo Festival), with 1 to go (Powderfinger), so it's not a bad effort for 2010!

As you know, my favourite band is the Foo Fighters. I've seen them 3 times now, and they are by far the best band I have seen live. They are recording at the moment, so perhaps a Foo Fighters gig is on the cards for 2011?

Different?
Sometimes even just the kind of music I like makes me feel so different to everybody else. There are a couple of people (now) that I know like the same types of music that I like, but it's different when you're meeting new people, or working in a school where there are mostly people who like pop music (Lady GaGa, Beyonce) or kids who like current top 40 stuff (I guess I can't judge them, I was like that once ;p )

There are other things that make me feel different. Like TV. I just don't like watching it. There's no way I can say this without sounding like a snob, but there's just nothing interesting on there!
Actually, that's not strictly true. I do like Spicks and Specks, and I don't mind a bit of Dr Who with Oliver; but that's about it. If something interesting is on, I'll watch it, but I rarely remember to watch it the next time. People are always lending and buying me TV series, but I can't find the time or the motivation to sit down and watch them!
As for the shows that seem to always be the talk of the town, I don't think I've ever watched one! So I always feel a little left out of those conversations. Not enough to make me want to watch TV though!

Perhaps I should just embrace my differences. Let's face it, less time watching TV means more time blogging!

And that's me for today, enough rambling. But don't worry (I'm sure you really were!). I'll be back! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finding my phojo

You might have noticed that I haven't posted (or mentioned) photos for a while.

There are a couple of reasons, and I hope I am addressing them, because I am missing it a bit.
It was the same with blogging - I got a bit distracted etc and wasn't doing it regularly, but I think I'm back on track now!

Firstly, at the concert and memorial dedication at Sam's school I took a lot of photos. Photos that I would really like to see, but I can't because they are trapped on the XD card. They are RAW files, and it was the first time I had used the card; and I just don't know what's going on. I can view them in the camera, but cannot upload them onto a computer. I have tried online recovery software and mum took it into Ted's for me, but no luck yet.
So I haven't used that camera since then. Which is a bummer.

Also, the last lesson in my morguefile course was about panning shots, and I just could not get it right! So I've kinda given up on that for a while.

And then there's that "I'm not that good at this" feeling that keeps creeping up on me. I am trying to get over it, I promise, but all in all, it's made me lose my phojo!

But I am going to try and get excited again. In the meantime, here's a couple of gorgeous shots of Oliver in his latest obsession - suits and ties! The first one my mum took, and I took the next two.


What a little poser! Isn't he gorgeous?

Must haves...

I've already talked about how Sam liked to keep up with personal transport fads, and I've briefly mentioned his love of fashionable clothing (particularly surf labels).
But there was one other area where Sam liked to keep up with trends and fads. Like most other children, he liked the latest toys.

Perhaps he got it from me (or his father, we both have that kind of nature), but once he latched onto something, he wanted more and more of it (actually, when I think of it, Oliver is the same too).

I guess the first real 'collection' was tigers. From an early age, Sam loved tigers, and he had lots of soft and fluffy tigers. He still had them sitting on top of his cupboard the day he died.
His favourite was 'Gritty Kitty', which sits on the top shelf of his 'shelf' in the lounge room:
Just like Oliver (and Anthony!), Sam went through a Lego phase. His main 'sets' were the Star Wars and Harry Potter ones; and for a while he was really into Bionicles. He didn't spend quite as much time on it as Oliver and Anthony, but he did build a lot cool stuff.

Another big fad that Sam got sucked into was the Beyblade phenomenon (which I was very surprised to find out, is still going in some countries!)
Beyblades were these spinning tops that you 'launched' into an arena against another person's top. Whichever one fell over first was the loser.
Samuel (and many other children) got very excited about the whole Beyblade thing, and bought lots of them. When he asked for an arena (a flimsy plastic thing that went for about $40), Anthony built him a wooden version, complete with a place to store all the toys:
I took the photo today, so as you can see, he had kept all the toys safe and secure, despite not playing with them for at least 5 years!

Another toy fad that Samuel got REALLY involved in was Yu-Gi-Oh! Which was a trading card game that was always way too confusing for me to understand, but somehow easy for 9 year-olds to play! Samuel and his friends (mainly Patrick) would sit for hours playing and refining their decks. Sam must have spent hundreds of dollars on the cards, and from what I can tell, he had a pretty good collection (which is still around here somewhere!)

His other major collection, which are technically not toys, is his massive rock collection.
For a long time, Samuel was very interested in rocks and shells. We really thought he was going to go into geology, and in fact, science was probably his best school subject. This box is most of his collection of smaller rocks, including 2.4gms of gold that I bought him for his 10th (I think) birthday. It would have been nice to see where that interest took him...

Of course, by the time Samuel died, he'd moved on to more 'teenage' collections: music, pictures of cars, video games, DVDs...but I like that he kept all his toys too.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Potty Mouth

LANGUAGE WARNING - This post might contain some cussin'


I just walked into Anthony's shed where 104.7 (a radio station I can't stand because I believe radio stations should be about music, and there seems to be a lot more ads and talking than music on it...but I'm off topic) was playing a song I've been enjoying on triple j for a while now.
It's called F U, by Cee Lo Green (You can watch it on YouTube if you have an account). You can probably imagine what the 'F' stands for. The chorus goes:

I see you driving ’round town
With the girl I love and I’m like
“Fuck you!”
Ooo ooo oooo
I guess the change in my pocket
Wasn’t enough I’m like
“Fuck you!
and fuck her too.”
(etc).

Anyway, on 104.7, they played a version that had 'Forget You' instead of 'Fuck You'. What's wrong with that you ask? Well it changes the whole song!

My problem is this: the song is intentionally a song with swearing in it. What's the point of changing it? I don't really think that more people are going to buy it after hearing it on that radio station - it's the kind of song that will stand on it's own merit (swearing or not).

Censorship really gives me the shits sometimes. It's not that I think that we should expose everything to everyone, but surely there's got to be a point where adults can be treated like adults, and make their own decisions about what they watch/listen to? Sure, some adults make really bad decisions, especially when it comes to parenting, but swearing is kind of the least of their worries!

Anyway, back to what I was originally going to post about.

I was going to talk about Sam and his potty mouth.

Sam, lovely as he was, swore quite a lot. Now, if I wasn't so honest, I'd say I had no idea where he got it from, but the truth is, he got it from us. Both Anthony and I do tend to swear a bit, and we were worse in our twenties, when Sam was in his formative years. His uncle James (who was 12 years older than him) has a pretty foul mouth too; so I guess there wasn't much hope for him!!

He was pretty good about where he whipped it out though, I must say. He didn't tend to swear in public or in front of the grandparents (except occasionally my dad, who also does a little swearing from time to time too!)

He swore when was frustrated about something. I'd quite often hear him in his room, trying to do something in a video game, or playing the guitar or something; you'd occasionally hear him go 'ffuuuuuccckkk', in a very exasperated voice.

He swore to be funny a lot too. As I've mentioned before, Sam loved his comedy, and as you know, many comedians work blue. They just happened to be among his favourites; so of course when he was repeating a joke (or telling one of his own), it included all the words that "I can say because they're part of the joke".

So if we're remembering our Sam, we must remember the warts-and-all Sam. In this case, the potty mouthed one.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes Oliver has inherited some of this dubious potential. We're trying to weed it out of him though.