Thursday, December 30, 2010


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?).

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


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.