Thursday, May 26, 2011

If this post looks familiar, that's because it is!
I don't know why this post has suddenly appeared at the top, as I posted it a week ago! Silly Blogger!

When I got to the gym tonight for my Sh'Bam class (a new one that is LOTS of fun), there were lots and lots of people there.

Then I realised why. My gym is part of a college, and they were having an open night. The open night that Sam should have been going to. I saw some of friends from a distance, and they all looked a little excited (well, as much as teenage boys trying not to look excited can look). I was intending to go in and say hi to Clint (who works there) but decided it would be too hard to be amongst that, so I just went to my class.

I know that Sam was looking forward to college. We had even talked about it already, way back when he was in year 8. I think he would have done pretty well in college. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd gone to uni either, as much as he hated doing his homework!

I miss my Sam every single day. But it's times like this that it hurts the most.

Luckily, I went to Sh'Bam and got very hot and sweaty and had a good giggle. It's all about balance, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oli Update

A few things have been going on with Oliver lately. Some of which have been keeping me from you. (I know you don't mind if it's Oli!).

The Thin Fat Kid

One thing that surprised me recently was a letter I got from the school. They had been doing this program called 'SmartStart', where they check the kid's health and fitness levels. Oliver's 'report' at the end was not what I expected. According to them, he is pretty unfit, and overweight.

This kid is 7. He's not a skinny rake of a kid, but he's definitely not obese. He develops a little tummy every now and then, but tends to run it off pretty quick. And run he does. He spends a lot of time running, because he actually likes it. So it surprised me to see that he had low levels of fitness and was int eh 90th percentile for weight for his age (I'd be interested to see what the 50th percentile is!). Mind you, he's also in the 90th percentile for height. Anyone else see a pattern here??

I'm not going to get too riled up about it, but it did surprise me. So he's now doing this workshop thing once a week after school, where they talk to the kids about health and nutrition and do lots of fitness stuff. He actually enjoys that (because he loves running around), but he has to do weird stuff like wear a pedometer and record his food and exercise in a diary.

I'll repeat. The kid is 7!

Good god! he has a hard enough time getting his shit together homework-wise (reading etc), let alone filling in a diary every second day.

Don't get me wrong, I think the concept is probably a good one. And there are probably many kids out there that don't have weight-obsessed mothers who do lots of home-cooking (including school snacks), insist on vegies as much as possible, and do emphasise good health choices regularly. But Oliver's not lacking in knowledge about healthy lifestyles. Yes, he probably eats more junk than some kids, but I don't know any of those ones!

Plus Oliver actually likes exercise. He likes to run. He often opts to come on my walks or go bike riding with me. He spends a lot of time climbing or playing with his friends outside.

I don't know what my problem is with this program, and maybe there isn't one. But if they start telling my beautiful boy he's fat and unhealthy. WATCH OUT....De Castella or no De Castella (Robert De Castella is the - apparently major health nut - who started the program), they'll have me to answer for!

The Emotional Kid
Oli's also going through another clingy/emotional stage. He wants me around all the time, and is back to cuddling up to me on the couch and giving me lots of hugs. He keeps asking me to take him/pick him up from school and gets disappointed if I can't (which unfortunately is fairly regularly).

On Sunday night, I told Oli that Merlin (our 16.5 year old labrador/retriever) was probably going to die soon. He had been pretty sluggish over the preceeding few days, and a couple of times we have not expected him to last the night (mind you, it's been very cold). Bless him, he's so old and has lost most of his hearing and sight, has dementia of some kind (he often barks at nothing at all) and has absolutely no muscle tone, but he just keeps on going. We were glad he hung on for a while after Sam died, but even Anthony is ready for him to go. Poor old chap!

Anyway, back to Oliver. When I told him that, he didn't say much. Just went out and gave Merlin a pat. But after his shower he suddenly burst into tears. He had to go back out and pat Merlin again for a while, and then came back and cried and cried. He then started talking about how when Merlin died, he would know 'four people who have died'. He named Anthony's grandparents, and Sam of course. Poor kid. So much for him to think and worry about. So much death in his short life.

Well of course we talked about how we make every day count, and how we love the time we have with people, and how death is a part of life and all that stuff, but I could see he was pretty upset. And probably not so much about Merlin.

Merlin's still with us, but we know he'll go sometime soon. Hopefully Oliver will be OK with that.

Another Block

I know I've been away for a little while. Mainly because I'm busy but also because I've been a bit stuck on what to write. I've been wanting to do some more posts about Sam, but these require me gathering bits and pieces, which I just don't have time for.
Sometimes I feel a bit funny posting about other things. Sam was the reason I started this blog, and when I'm writing about some of the garbage that I write about, I feel like I'm not paying him enough attention. So I end up posting nothing. Like I have lately.
Also, BlogThis, a major source of inspiration for me, are shutting up shop. So I'm going to have to go on a hunt for blog ideas.

All this nonsense contributes to a big of a block. I'm working through it, and should hopefully hit my groove again soon (this did happen to me last year - was it around this time??), and I managed to get up again. It's possible I might lose a couple more readers this time round though.

To all my lovely 'regulars'...thanks for sticking with me, you know who you are...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is hard

Some times I wonder when the veneer is going to crack. When it will all fall apart. When I will fall apart.
When I talk to people about Sam, I'm met with various responses, but most of them include some kind of a reference to how well I'm 'coping', and how they would find it so hard.

I know that I've reacted to Sam's death differently to many people might expect. Definitely differently to the grieving parents you see in the movies or on TV. Yes, in the first few days/weeks/months I had some fairly typical reactions. But more often than not I put on my happy face.

I have always thought that this was because of the kind of person that I am. The happy-go-lucky optimist. The girl who's always smiling. The girl who keeps it all together and supports everyone else.
And in some ways it probably was. But then other days I wonder if it's all just an act. If one day I'm going to lose it and become the vacant, brooding grief-stricken mother a la Nicole Kidman or Rachel Weisz. I'm a little scared of that, I've gotta admit. 'Cause what if I do?

Someone told me the other day that I was 'inspirational'. I don't feel inspirational. Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

I've been cranky lately, mainly because I'm busy (with the accompanying guilt), but also because people I know are doing stupid things, and my house is a mess, and it's cold, and I don't know what's happening with my job, and because I've got so much weight to lose (again), and because I miss Sam. So bloody much it's not funny.

Some exciting news

Yesterday, I found out that I have been shortlisted for a Public Education Award. Obviously not a teaching award, rather in the category of 'Outstanding Education Support'. It definitely came as a surprise, albeit a very lovely one.

Now I have to wait until next Friday, when I will get dressed up and go to a fancy ceremony to find out if I have won or not. I probably won't, but as they say, 'it's nice to be nominated'!

Speaking of winning, voting has opened in the Blog This challenge. This one was about Changing the World. Possibly my clunkiest and definitely my ugliest post to date. But if it got you thinking, you might consider voting. You'll find the link on the left hand side of this page.

Thanks! And wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Checking in

Still here, just busy again. I've been a bit cranky lately and not really motivated to post. But I'll be back tonight with something. Hopefully.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Me & My Green Thumb...

I quite enjoy gardening.
    Not all types. Not the 'dig lots and lots and move dirt around but do nothing much else' type, but gardening when I can grow stuff and actually see it growing and then get something from it at the end.

    Which is why I grow a lot of food. I've mentioned before about my dreams for the simple life, and the more I get out in my garden, the more I yearn for my little acreage.

    Over the last couple of weekends, I've been doing a lot of gardening. I've cleared out and harvested a lot of vegies, including 7 lovely butternut pumpkins, lots of very cute little capsicums, and several kilos of tomatoes, including this whopper,

    which we barbecued this morning and ate with our lovely brunch.

    I've also done lots of planting. I've planted a heap of onions (red and brown), as well as garlic, leeks, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, silverbeet, carrots and cabbage.

    There's something very satisfying about picking food from your own backyard and eating it. Not only is it much cheaper than buying it, but it's also much more tasty (even when I buy plants from Bunnings, which I try not to do too often) than the shop-bought stuff, and I know exactly what's gone into growing it. Absolutely no pesticides or even fertiliser (apart from animal poop in the soil - usually from our chooks). Totally organic.

    A while ago, Anthony and I decided that we were going to replace as much as we can in our garden with food-bearing plants. We've got a 1/4 acre block (and a tiny 3 bedroom house), so we've got a fair bit of outdoor space. At the moment, this is what we have:

    Ongoing plants:
    • Apples (5 varieties)
    • Oranges (2 varities - one with about 12 lovely oranges almost ready to pick!)
    • Pears (2 varieties)
    • Cherry 
    • Pomegranite
    • Passionfruit
    • Kiwifruit (no fruit from them yet, but we're hoping for next year1)
    • Almond
    • Blackberry
    • Boysenberry
    • Blueberry
    • Raspberry
    • Strawberry (3 varieties)
    • Red Currant
    • Asparagus
    • Rhubarb
    • Artichoke
    • Parsley
    • Thyme
    • Oregano
    • Marjoram
    • Chives
    • Comfrey
    • Chamomile
    • Lemon Grass
    • Saffron (lovely flowers with the very expensive golden stuff attached!)
    • Silverbeet (it's annual, but keeps self-seeding in the same spot)
    And we also regularly plant:
    • Lettuce
    • Onion
    • Corn
    • Sunflower (actually, they self-seed, you've seen my enormous ones!)
    • Potatoes
    • Tomatoes (they self-seed too, I haven't deliberately planted a tomato seed in at least 5 years!)
    • Capsicums
    • Squash/Pumpkins/Zucchini
    • Basil
    • Chillis
    • Peas/snow peas
    We've also got plans in the future (once we find a place for them!) to plant peaches/apricots, limes, mandarins, black currants, cranberries and hopefully some olives, a mulberry and a walnut tree (although I may have to wait for my big block of land for more trees!)

    As I said, something very satisfying in growing food. And people don't usually mind taking the extras off my hands (although I did have trouble offloading my squash this year!).

    The more I do it, the more I wish I had a job like Jackie French. You know, writing books or newspaper columns and spending the rest of my time pottering around the garden. I guess I have to hone my writing skills a bit, but it is possible! I'm making it my '45 plan'. I'll tell you about that next...

    Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.
    Daniel Burnham

    The Second Mother's Day

    "Celebration" days like Mother's Day will always be a little bit tricky. Mainly because there are always reminders of Sam in them. Mother's Day particularly because what mother would want to celebrate when one of her children is gone forever?

    But in the spirit of 'going on', which as you know I am pretty good at. I put the sad thoughts behind me (for the most part) ans set about having a nice day. Hope you don't mind a blow-by-blow...

    I woke reasonably early, and looked at the photos of Sam on the wall, a bit of quiet reflection time before anyone else awoke. Get the 'sad bits' out of the way early.

    I knew that Oliver had intended to get me breakfast, and sure enough when he noticed I was awake he came in and asked me what I wanted to eat. We've never really done breakfast in bed before (I usually am the first up by a long way), and I wasn't really hungry yet, so I told him to give me a while, thinking he and Anthony could sort it out.

    When Anthony got up, he noticed that the gate was open, and was worried about Merlin (our 16 year old dog who does tend to wander off when the gate is open), so being the little bit of a drama queen that he is, he made a fuss and I jumped up with the intention of going to look for Merlin.
    Who was of course safe in the yard. But by then I was up anyway.

    Oliver had made me a nice card, with this message:

    To Mum
    Have a rily good muthers day and just rembr that I love you so so so so so mutch. From Oliver

    Awwwwww! He'd also made me a poster with a picture of him on it and a door hanger that says 'Mum resting'. Very cute.

    The boys also bought me a pair of slippers and promised foot rubs and massages (yet to be delivered).

    We went over to Phil and Laura's for brunch, which was lovely. A very nice meal in the sunshine with some great company. Oliver came back covered in blueberry juice:
    We lay around on the couch watching 'King Kong' and then I went out and did some gardening. I'm now waiting for dinner, as the boys debate what thy're going to do. I told them that I don't care - I'm definitely not cooking! Anthony doesn't really cook (apart from toast and heating up the odd pie), so I'm sure it will be interesting!

    After dinner, we'll curl up on the lounge together and watch a movie. Then I'll get my foot rub and massage.

    A pretty nice day I think. Only one thing missing....

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    A beautiful time of year...

    Today I was going to write about the whole Bin Laden thing, but decided that it's already been done to death (pun not intended). And this quote that's been doing the rounds (minus the bit that was apparently wrongly attributed to MLK) pretty much sums up my feelings on it all:

    Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. 
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    So instead, I thought I'd wax lyrical about autumn. If you've never been to Canberra at this time of the year, you should. Yes, it is a little cold, but the scenery more than makes up for it.

    As it is a 'garden city' there are lots and lots of trees. Now as you know, I love trees at the best of times, of course because they are our planet's life force, but also because of cool stuff like this:
    A tree that fell over but kept growing!
    And while many of the trees in Canberra are gum trees and evergreens (especially where I live), there are enough deciduous trees to make autumn a glorious time of year. It's amazing that something as simple as a tree can produce such an amazing range of colours. And they way they look against other trees is such a great effect.
    For example, here are some photos I've taken while out walking over the past couple of days:

      And here are a couple I took last year, when I was specifically chasing autumn photos:

    In autumn, many of the days are warm and sunny, but I can snuggle up under a warm doona with my best man on the chilly nights. There are piles of leaves everywhere, and it's still so much fun to walk through them, kicking them around, even picking them up and throwing them at people. Sometimes, I even find little piles to drive through, and I watch in my rearview mirror as they float around crazily, then settle back down onto the road to give the next person a simple little thrill.

    Ahhh lovely...