Monday, January 30, 2012

The Renos

I've been waiting until I found some better 'before' photos to put up this post, but I realised it might never go up!

As you know, Anthony's been building me a kitchen. This year, it started out somewhat like this (there was a fridge and some other ugly cupboards on the left-hand side):
When I find an older photo of the complete kitchen, I'll pop it in...
After several months of disruption and mess (and a few freezing winter weeks which saw me huddled out on the front deck cooking on a camp stove), I'm happy to say it now looks like this:
There's still a little bit to do: on the back wall, Anthony's going to build a little shelf unit, and the windowsill still needs a coat of paint, but for now, it's done!

We were shopping after Christmas (one of my favourite hobbies - the Boxing Day sales!), when I thought it would be a good idea to finish the rest of this area. I had promised Anthony a big-screen TV when he finished the kitchen/lounge room, so I reminded him of this and suggested we finish the lounge room too.

Silly me. Being a public servant at the moment, I only had a couple of weeks off over Christmas, and because I'd preparing and cooking for Christmas, I hadn't had a moment to stop and relax (and blog!).
Nevertheless, we kicked off on the 27th, moving most of the stuff from the lounge/dining room to my study and my bedroom, meaning that I had nowhere to just sit and relax (even outside was dust-strewn and messy!).

Anthony spent a whole day in the ceiling, moving batts and vacuuming the roof space. The ceiling panels were sagging (quite dramatically in places) and he wanted to make sure the roof space was clear before screwing them up.

Next, I had wanted to get rid of this 'wood look' panelling for a long time:
I spent a day pulling it off, then the wall panels, as they were covered in glue and Anthony said they were too far gone to save. I then vaccumed out the old insulation and, with Anthony's help, replaced the gyprock panels.
After that, I was on plastering duty. Not the easiest task, given the scars left from the walls we pulled out years ago. But I did OK. On New Year's Eve, I spent the evening 'getting plastered', only stopping for a brief drive out to the city with the boys to see the midnight fireworks.

By the 4th of January, after a couple of days spent sanding the walls and ceiling, I was fed up. I was due to go back to work on the 9th, and not only did I have nowhere to go and relax, but we weren't even close to starting painting.
I was getting crankier and crankier and much harder to be around, when Anthony snapped: 'why don't you just go away for a couple of days?'

So I did! That afternoon, Oliver and I packed up and drove to Lake Tabourie on the south coast (the only place I could get a room). I might post about this when I get the photos up.

By the time we got back on the 7th, the painting was almost done. I helped Anthony with some finishing touches and we were able to use the room by the Sunday night. I've spent the last couple of weeks (after work and on weekends) putting it all back together. At the moment it looks like this:
We've got a couple of bits and pieces to do, but I'm pretty happy with it.

Don't you love a happy ending?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yay for technology!

My lovely iMac has been playing up a lot lately. My fault really as I had packed too much stuff on there and was being slack about cleaning it up.
I've done a big, dramatic reformat and am in the process of adding stuff and creating a new filing system. So, when I find my photos again, I will put up the post I have in mind.
I tells ya, if it's not one thing, it's another!

I should also mention - this is my 300th post! Yay for me! They haven't always been regular, and sometimes aren't all that interesting, but I've made it to 300! GO Mel!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

As you know, Christmas is our tough time of year.
It didn't seem like this year was going to be any easier, those unhappy thoughts rise quickly to the surface, and you spend a lot of time dwelling on the anniversary to come...and the events that you're marking with that anniversary.

But the day wasn't too bad. We had the family and a couple of good friends drop in over the course of the day, as well as a few of Sam's friends. Always so nice to see them. We blew up orange balloons, wrote on the wall, and just enjoyed each other's company, and the good memories Sam left us. I won't say it gets better, but it is a little easier each time.

Then, three days later it was Christmas Day. Because my kitchen is almost finished, I decided that I wanted to do Christmas at my place. Oli helped me make some cool Gingerbread trees and shortbread, and we put together another awesome Lego tree:
This one even had lights inside!
We had a small group over: my family, Anthony's youngest brother James and foster sister Ange and her family. And despite the fact that I was preparing the meal, it was still a lovely, relaxing day.
Oliver was spoilt rotten (as usual!), including this amazing gift from his Granny and Grandad:
All in all, a great day. I loved not having to race around the place (I always thought it was a bit crazy that we psych our kids up for all these gifts, then drag them away from them for most of the day!).

On Boxing Day I went shopping, as I always do, and bought myself a nice Kenwood mixer. And we looked at TVs, which got us thinking about renovating our lounge room. More about that next time...

Foo, Foo, and more Foo!

Ok, I've decided that Tuesday is going to be my blog day. So tonight I'm going to catch up a bit.
Firstly, my Foo adventure!

As you know, I'm a bit of a Foo-natic. That is, a big, slightly obsessed, fan of the Foo Fighters. I've already seen them once this year, as I blogged about way back in March.
They came back here in December and, having bought the tickets way back in July, I was definitely not going to miss them!
My wonderful brother-in-law James sent me a message about three weeks before the show saying that he had a spare ticket to the Gold Coast show. And I thought - why not? I never do crazy, impetuous stuff like that, so I decided that I was going to go.

So on Thursday the 8th of December (good god! is it really that long ago? So much to catch up on!), Anthony and I drove to Sydney for the first gig. We stayed in a lovely room at the Radisson Darling Harbour and a lovely 3km stroll to the Sydney Football Stadium, where the concert was held.

Our seats were waaaaaay back, but it gave us a good opportunity to just sit and enjoy the music/atmosphere. This was their biggest gig, with about 40000 people crammed in - what an amazing atmosphere!

Tenacious D were the support act. That would have made a great gig on it's own. Jack Black was in great form!

But of course, the Foo Fighters were amazing, as usual. They know how to put on a good show, and included some of my favourite songs. There's nothing like hearing 40000 people singing along to the same song!

So on the Friday we went home, and then on Saturday morning I jumped on a plane to Brisbane. James and Michael (his best mate) picked me up from the airport, and after a Hard Rock lunch (well, where else would we go??) we headed to Metricon Stadium, to wait near the front of the line.
When they finally let us in, I did something I haven't done for years. I ran!
With all the other die-hards, I ran to the stage so that I could be near the front. And I managed a nice spot right next to the catwalk that Dave used throughout the show (I've put my camera down somewhere in the house...will put up some better photos when I find it!).
It was so much fun! Despite staying in the same place for about 7 hours, with people pushing up against me, I had a great time! Singing, bouncing up and down, and shouting myself hoarse (knowing full well none of the band could hear me)!
They played pretty much the same set, but it was so different being right up near the stage. I used to do it a lot when I was younger, but hadn't lately. I'm glad I did!

Early Sunday morning I flew back to Canberra. The connecting flight from Sydney was particularly horrible; a Dash-8 flying through a thunderstorm. At one point we had one of those huge turbulence drops and by the time I got off the plane I was feeling decidedly nauseous! Not the best way to end my Foo-venture!

Still, to cap off my crazy-busy weekend, Anthony and I went along to the Spicks and Speck-tacular, which was amazing! A great live show that included some of the games from the show and lots of really funny stuff. When we came outside, the carpark was flooded:
Yep, that's Anthony in the car. He waded through the water for me. What a man!
So that was my wild weekend. Lots of fun, some great memories, and some awesome music!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hi. Remember me? I wrote a blog once.
This blog was a very helpful tool in working my way through the grief I felt after losing my Sam.

As I have gone on, healing a bit more each day, I find that I am taken away from my blog more than I would like. Believe me, I still want to blog. I like telling the world about the little things that make up my days. The problem is finding time to do it. More about that later.

Over the past two years, I have made some massive changes to my life. These changes are probably not outwardly noticeable, but to me they have been big.

It started with a change in attitude. I looked at the things that took up time in my life, and thought about how beneficial they were (or were not) to me, and to the people that were important to me. As a result of this, I now spend a bit more time on me: exercising, reading a good book, retail therapy, going to concerts...little things that make me feel better. And make me a better person/mum/employee.

I also spend less time on things that are not as important to me: housework (more on that later), work (not that I'm slacking off - on the contrary! See below), people that don't offer me anything in return for my time and effort, etc.

I've changed the way I interact with my family. I communicate better with Anthony and spend more quality time with Oliver.

I've changed my attitude to work. I'm no longer prepared to make myself crazy for work. I will do what I am happy doing, just enough of it to do it well but still maintain a healthy work/life balance.

I've changed my attitude to my health. I eat better, exercise more, and don't spend too much time consumed by the quest to lose weight.

All these changes are for the better. I like to call them the gifts that Sam keeps giving me, because many of them wouldn't have happened if I hadn't lost him. It's sad to realise that, because I wonder about the time that I've lost, and the opportunities that I missed before, and I regret many of the things I didn't do (or did badly) with Sam. But I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to re-evaluate my life. I wish everyone could do that - without having to lose someone special of course.

Because we take so much for granted. We worry so much about stuff that is meaningless; worthless. We try so hard to please people that don't deserve it, and to impress people that don't care. We miss wonderful opportunities and don't take the time to take risks, to play.

Without Sam, and without this blog, I wouldn't have realised all this. That's why this blog is still so important to me. Because I've still got some lessons to learn (one of them is learning to manage my time better so that I can fit a regular blog post in!), and some things to share.

It's not going to be as regular as it was. I've gotta be realistic about that. But come by eery week or so, i'll try to post at least weekly. I've got plenty to keep me going for the next little while, so when I find time, I'll blog.

As always, thanks for being with me on the ride.