Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Big One

$52 Million. That's a heck of a lot of money.

I like money, and it would always be great to have some more. But $52 million? That's a crazy big bunch of money!

BlogThis asked us what we'd do with $52 million. Of course, there are the usual things that I've always put on my winning-the-lottery list: my family, friends and I debt-free, a nice house and a really good holiday, some charity stuff... but those things wouldn't even scratch the surface. $5 million would probably be too much.

So I thought I'd do a little research. Just what can $52 million buy?

There are the spoil-yourself items:
  • 13 Toorak Mansions ($4,000,000 each)
  • 49 Luxury Yachts ($1,050,000 each)
  • 260 Space flights with Virgin Galactic ($200,000 each)
  • 523 BMW 325i - 2010 model ($99,400 each)
  • 3255 Round-the-world Plane tickets ($15972 each)
  • 21,675 iMac Desktop Computers ($2400 each)
  • 23,183 Nights at the 7-Star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai (Honeymoon Package $2,243 per night)
  • 179,310 8 Course Tasting Meals (with wine) at Rockpool, Sydney ($290 per person)
The life-changing ones:
  • 1 Island (Buck Island, British Virgin Islands, $48,000,000)
  • 1,155 Harvard Law Degrees ($45,000 each)
  • 85,245 Shares in Google ($610.04 each)
But really, who needs that much money? Think of the good you could do! $52 million would buy:
  • 3 Aged care homeless centres ($16 million each)
  • 14 MRI Suites (including the machine $3,500,000 each)
  • 299 African Schools ($173,500 each)
  • 5,200,000 gift chickens from Oxfam ($10 each)
  • And a heck of a lot of hours of cancer research
I don't pretend to be entirely selfless, and I know that if I won that much money, some of it would be frittered away. But even in just this little bit of looking around I've done, I can see how much good some money would be for a lot more people than me. It's a shame that the people with all the money don't share it around a bit more. I wonder what the world would be like if they did?

Blog this also asked if we'd go public. Definitely not. For one, it would bring out the loonies, but also, if you were giving that much money away, you wouldn't do it for the fame, would you?

They say you've gotta be in it to win it though, and I don't buy lottery tickets. Perhaps I should, and spread the love a bit. Because of course I'd win! ;p

    What would you do with 52 million bucks?

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    What, is she crazy?

    I'm officially a student again.

    I've enrolled at Newcastle University to do my "Master of Educational Studies", specialising in Information Technology.

    I know what you're thinking - hasn't she got enough on her mind already?

    Yep, I probably do. But this is something I've been thinking about for a while, and while I'm still in this mode of self-improvement (I'm doing very well exercise-wise, by the way - I've been doing something every single day) and living in the moment, I thought 'why not go for it?'

    I do like studying, and it's something I do pretty well. When I did my Bachelor's degree, I was one of those people that everyone hated; getting HDs all the time with seemingly little effort.

    I actually did make an effort though - it's not really in my nature to do a half-assed job. I worked fairly hard (and had a baby halfway through the degree), but I just seem to have the right kind of brain for academics.

    In fact, I think eventually I'd like to work in a uni. Which is kinda why I'm starting my postgraduate study. I'm only going to do it part time, so it will take a while, but that's OK.

    So wish me luck! I'll make sure I'm still keeping up with the blog, but if you see random tracts of text rambling about 'pedagogy' and 'instructional leadership' and such-like, you might like to give me a gentle prod and put me back on track!

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    We did it!

    We got through it.

    I knew all along that it was silly for me to worry. That it was a simple procedure, one the doctor did several times a week.

    But I was worried.

    He wasn't. As I said in the last post, Oliver's main concern was that he wouldn't be able to eat anything in the morning before his surgery.
    He was a little nervous, and admitted so a couple of times, but he was more excited than worried. People had told him wonderful tales of jelly and ice cream and sitting around being waited on.

    Because he was the oldest kid in the room, he had to wait until last to have his surgery. For two hours he sat in the pediatrics day ward singing, chatting and watching half a movie. He was very hyped and jolly.

    The spunky anesthetist came along and joked around with him. Oliver told him he was 'cool' (he did look like someone out of Scrubs), and he said it was the nicest thing he'd heard all, all week! He challenged Oliver to a competition: Oliver had to count all the way to 10, but he said he wouldn't make it. Oliver said 'yes I will!'

    I went in to the theatre with him. Definitely one of my more harrowing moments. Watching his body twitch as it went to sleep was truly scary. He just didn't look...right. (By the way, he made it to 7, but they cheated a little - they'd already started the gas when he started counting!)

     I had a little cry after I left there. It was just all a little too real. Then spent a fairly anxious hour waiting for him to come out.

    When he did, he was miserable. Drowsy, and in lots of pain. The local on his wound obviously hadn't worked. Poor guy. Another teary moment.
    But it was all uphill from there. The anesthetist had decided they wanted to keep Oliver overnight because of the way Samuel died. Just to keep an eye on him. He was pretty happy about it.

    And he got his jelly (and ice cream), and video games in bed, and generally an adventure any 7 year old boy would be happy with (minus the pain!).
    I'll be happy if we don't have to do it again, though...

    Thursday, February 17, 2011


    Oliver's having some minor surgery tomorrow. He's having one of his testes brought down (sorry if that was TMI), as it hasn't descended properly. It's a very simple day procedure.

    But I'm still a little worried. He's got to have a general anesthetic, which is the part that worries me a bit. I lost one baby in his sleep, and now I'm allowing someone to actually put the other one to sleep.

    I know it will be fine, and he's OK with it all too (he's most worried about the fasting part!)

    It's just that little irrational fear.

    Wish us luck!

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    It's going to be one of those days?

    Y'know those days that start out wrong? When you just know that things aren't going to go well?

    I had one of those mornings today:
    • I got back from my walk late, which meant I was rushing a bit. 
    • I made Oliver a sandwich and then realised I'd promised him a lunch order (he was nice enough to eat the sandwich for breakfast, bless him!).
    • I left for work later than I wanted to, then realised that I needed petrol, so I had to stop for that too.
    • I got to work and realised that I'd left my lunch at home, then spent most of the morning dropping, forgetting and messing things up.

    Luckily, my day improved considerably:
    • I was running late for some training I was going to do, but my very flexible colleague, Maryanne, covered for me. The presentation went really well too!
    • Then I spoke to the lovely Clint (you've probably realised by now that I have a great deal of respect for Clint. He is a pretty awesome dude!), who has been busy telling me all sorts of flattering, ego-boosting things lately; today was much of the same.
    • I dropped in at Jetty Surf on the way home to see if they could swap my thongs over. I'd bought a pretty pair of Havianas just after Christmas, and they had broken within a month. I hadn't kept the receipt, as I didn't expect them to break. But they were nice enough to give me a new pair. What lovely customer service. I'll have to go there more often.
    • Then, when I got home, I found out that our shed has finally been approved! Yay! After about 8 months of waiting, we have the go ahead to build a big shed in the back yard. I've briefly mentioned it before, but I'm sure Ill be raving about it soon, as Anthony starts to build it. He's currently in the middle of making my new kitchen, which is also super-exciting!
    So all in all, it turned out much better than I expected.
    I like that.

    Monday, February 14, 2011


    Happy Valentine's Day.

    If that's your thing. It's not really mine.

    When I was younger, I really wanted a boy to give me something for Valentine's Day. Something that would show me (and the world) that they really loved me.
    Of course, the only thing I ever got for Valentine's Day was an anonymous card that I suspect was a joke.

    In the early stages of our relationship, I always hoped Anthony would get me something too. But the truth is, he's not much of a romantic. That bugged me for a while (in a minor way), but now that I'm wiser older, I know that those types of symbols are not really the measure of love.

    To me, love is:
    • A shared life.
    • Kissing each other goodbye every single day.
    • Holding hands while we walk.
    • Helping each other out. In whatever way we can.
    • Being interested in each other's jobs/hobbies/friends/etc.
    • Comfortable silences.
    • Separate interests.
    • The rude bits (you know what I mean).
    • Shared interests.
    • Having fun together.
    • Having lots of shit times (and baby, we've had our share!), and sticking them out.
    And that's the most important thing really. Because love isn't like the movies, it's hard work and sometimes it's downright depressing and you just want to leave. But then you remember the good times, how much you actually mean to each other. How much it's worth it. And you stay, and it is worth it.

    How do I know this? 16 years of experience.

    Love you lots Anthony, no matter what day it is.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Weekend Rewind

    I know, I know, two posts in one day again! But weekends are when I get some time to post. I am now scheduling my posts too (my swimming one from Tuesday was also written last weekend, but I decided I wanted to give my wonderful readers midweek fare too).

    But I digress. Allison over at Life in a Pink Fibro hosts a Weekend Rewind each Saturday and invites us to dig up an old post. Now of course this blog is only a year or so old, so there aren't many old ones, but as she asked us for a post from May, I thought I could manage that.

    May last year was when times were still pretty tough around here. I had faced my first Mother's Day without Sam, and was really starting to feel the stress of teaching. As you know, I faced depression and made many life-changing decisions in the months that followed.

    But the one I thought I'd share is a little more light-hearted. I'm surprised I could find one!
    If you'd like to read about my domestic failings, please feel free to rewind: Dull Women Have Immaculate Houses.

    The writing's on the wall...and the desk...and the door...

    ...and the Glad Wrap.

    We don't use Glad Wrap that often, but the other day I got it out and discovered a message from Sam:
    We could probably ponder for hours the significance of the words 'Blue Cow' on a roll of clingy plastic, but on the other hand we could just accept that Samuel liked to write random things in odd places.

    After all, there is evidence that this was not a solitary scrawling. There are other 'Samuelisms' all the way through the house.

    Like the barely legible web address on the wall behind the laundry door:

     The little picture on the wall inside the back storage shed:

    The irreverent homage to the recently departed: 

    And the general graffiti on the back of the bedroom door:

    Yep. He was an interesting child. Bless him.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Vote Mel!

    Remember my Sepia post? Well voting has now opened at BlogThis, so if you liked my photos, please vote for me!

    Just click on the drop down menu on the right-hand side.


    Tuesday, February 8, 2011


    All this water lately (the incessant downpours, the lovely little pool I've been coming home to on these super hot afternoons) has had me thinking about swimming.

    Samuel loved the water. It may have something to do with the fact that he was a pisces (if you believe in all that stuff), or that his mother's also a bit of a waterbaby (and I'm a fire sign, so go figure..)

    Anyhoo, one of the things that Samuel and I did together regularly was swim. From the time he was about 11, we'd go out weekly (on a Monday or a Wednesday 'cause there was stuff on TV the other nights!) for a late evening swim.

    We'd get Anthony and Oliver organised, and once Oli was in bed we'd head off to the pool. Sometimes we'd walk there, and sometimes we'd drive. Mostly depending on how freezing the air was outside.

    We had a little routine too. We'd get in the pool and do a few laps, then we'd float a bit, then swim underwater to the shallow end and get out. If we were at the big pool down the road, we'd get in the bubbles for a bit, but if it was the local one, we'd just hit the showers.

    We didn't spend a lot of time talking (it's hard to do that when your head's in the water), but those times featured some of our best conversations.
    One night we talked about colleges, and which one would be the best one for Sam to go to: the closest one, or one that had a subject he really liked. Of course he didn't really know what he liked then (he was in year 7 or 8 at the time), but he was already thinking about it. I remember telling him that he should just go somewhere that he'd be happy. As long as he did well there, the college that he actually went to wouldn't affect his future too much.

    I'd always pick those nights to ask him about girls. He was always really cagey about it - not giving too much away. I still don't know whether he ever got to kiss a girl...

    We talked about his brother, and the future, and the problems he had with his dad from time to time (they clashed a bit, those two, but loved each other dearly).

    He even helped me to swim better. One night, he watch me doing backstroke up the pool, wobbling from one side of the lane to another. "Mum, you've got to keep your arm closer to your ear," he said. So I did. And I still do. Every time I do backstroke I hear his voice in my head telling me to tuck my arm in.

    I miss those times.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    The Black Dog Bites

    Disclaimer - This post talks about suicide. (Not mine, not anyone currently close to me, so don't worry.) If you don't like this topic, please feel free to move on to the next blog/post/website/whatever. My aim is not to upset anyone, but please consider that the more we talk about it, the more we can help to prevent it.

    As you know, I've written about depression many times. It's something I have an intimate connection with in a number of ways.
    And throughout my life, I've also had a too-close connection with the side of depression that is final. Suicide. Sometimes it seems like a dirty word. But I'd like to write about it today. I've been thinking about it for a few days, wondering if I should mention it at all, but I decided that it's our hesitation to talk about suicide that makes it harder for people to get help, harder for the people that know about these things to find out what makes someone take their own life.

    This all started when a blog that I drop in on from time to time took a serious turn. This blogger's husband, after a psychotic event, tragically took his own life. She has been documenting her struggle to make sense of it and carry on through her blog. I hope she doesn't mind me mentioning it.

    Of course, with the web being the public entity that it is, there has been some backlash. People making comments about what's appropriate to post in a blog, etc.
    I'm not going to comment on that side of things, except that I know how much writing helped me after losing Sam. I'm sure it's the same for her.

    What I'd like to do is just to talk about it. I can't help but thinking that, like depression, the more we talk about it, the more people will realise they can get help, and more importantly, that's it's OK to talk about it, and to get help.

    It's something that, sadly, is probably common to many people, but I have known a few people whose lives were prematurely cut short by suicide.

    I was 17 when I first lost someone. I hadn't known him long, but we had started to develop a friendship and I had spoken to him only days before he took his own life. It was an aspect of life that I had never experienced or even heard much about. Which maybe is part of the problem. Yes, this was 20 years ago, and things were a little different. These days, there is more information available, and more people willing to help those who are considering suicide.

    A couple of years later, my (then) boyfriend's best friend overdosed. I'd only met him once, but again, I saw the darker side of life.

    Then, I heard that a friend that I'd known for a long time (and had even been intimate with), had killed himself. This time with a gun. Why hadn't he talked to someone? I'd lost touch with him over the years, and wished I'd been there for him. But he had a loving family that he'd left behind, and I'm sure they were there for him. I just couldn't understand why he'd done it.

    Recently, someone close to my family also committed suicide. He'd had some issues with access to his child and was probably depressed, but again, it was unexpected and shook everyone that knew him.

    I've always wondered what it would take to push someone over the edge like that. To make them think that there was no other option than to leave the world all together. I know what it's like to feel depressed, like nothing matters, and I guess it's not a big jump from there. I'm lucky that I have a wonderful family and good friends and this blog, to keep me focused on what's positive, what's worth living for.

    But people that commit suicide have that too. Sometimes, they have the most wonderful, supportive family and friends (like my fellow blogger's husband). I guess no one can ever really know what's going on in their head, because we can't ask them.

    But I truly think that it helps to talk. So all I'm asking is that we keep the conversation happening. These days, there are many services to help those in need, and more information about how to help our family and friends. If we talk about it, research it, reach out to people that are depressed or in pain, then maybe we can start to prevent it from happening.

    I've edited this because after talking to my parents about this post, I had to add that I'm glad I put this topic out there. To hear about distant family members who aren't talked about (or at least their deaths aren't) because they died in a way that's embarrassing, not talked about. This is what I mean.
    When someone dies, we're all sad and grieve together and talk about it, but when they kill themselves, it's something we can't talk about. It's whispered. It's ignored. I know that when someone dies that way, they leave a world of unanswered questions. Of guilt, trauma and disbelief. But it happens. And we've got to acknowledge that, and find ways for it not to happen.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    This is why I don't watch television

    People are often quite surprised when I tell them I don't watch TV.

    Well, it's not that I don't watch it - it always seems to be on in our house! But it's usually tuned to Nickelodeon (Oliver has it on while he's inside - and sometimes outside - playing Lego, drawing, playing his DS...whatever), or one of the Discovery channels (Anthony has it on while he's inside - and sometimes outside - eating lunch, tidying up, or working in the shed).

    Occasionally, I'll put on one of the music channels while I'm doing stuff, but our resident mini music critic ("Why are you so obsessed with the Foo Fighters mum?", "You've got bad taste in music mum.") will discreetly change the channel or turn it off while I'm not looking. Never mind, that's what stereos were created for!

    But I digress. So unlike me.

    I used to like TV. When Anthony and I were first together, we used to take the phone off the hook when The Simpsons were on (I know, truly sad), and many a happy hour was spent in front of Seinfeld or Friends or Law and Order.

    But as time's rolled on, I've discovered that the more I see of TV, the less I like it. Here are some reasons:

    • Ads: Why does every family have either an immaculate kitchen/dining room or eat breakfast by the sea? I'm so sick of seeing gorgeous, flawless people in their gorgeous, flawless houses!
    • Reality TV: OK, I admit that in the past I've got hooked on vapid wonders such as 'America's Next Top Model' or 'The Amazing Race', but these infatuations are generally short-lived. The worst part is, you just know it's not real. Sometimes it's downright dangerous. Like the Biggest Loser for example. No one should lose that much weight that quickly!
    • American TV: Blah blah blah. Gorgeous, flawless people doing stupid things to each other in gorgeous, flawless mansions, hospitals, police stations....etc.
    • It's just all the same: It is, isn't it? Whether it's set in a hospital, on a farm or in a city police station, the characters are having the same kinds of dramas. And they're all gorgeous and flawless (you may have noticed a theme here). When someone hits on a unique and wonderful idea, pretty soon there are 20 clones and it's not unique and wonderful any more.
    There are a couple of shows I do like: I love Spicks and Specks; Dr Who and Dexter are pretty cool, and I used to love that show, Monk (whatever happened to that?) but even then, I'm rarely motivated enough to remember to watch them each week.

    In the end, I'd rather be reading, or blogging, or watching a movie even. It does mean I can't participate in the water cooler talk so much, but I just can't face enduring an hour of Grey's Anatomy so that I can put in my two cents.

    What do you think of TV?