Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Good, Yeah - The End

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog and I are done. I tried for a while to keep it up but I think it has run its course.

I still miss Samuel every day, and will always wonder what he could have been, but that's not something I feel like I need to write about anymore. 

But I do love having a blog. It's my way of keeping myself and my thoughts straight, a way to share my thoughts and ideas, and an outlet for my writing (and photos!). So I've started a new blog. About my garden. It won't be for everyone, but I'd love to have you. You'll find it here:

I've said it before, but thanks dear reader. Having you here with me helped me through a pretty horrible time. I really appreciate it. See you soon!

Monday, March 31, 2014

12WBT 2 and 3

I missed the 12WBT blog challenges for the last couple of weeks, but I liked the topics, so thought I'd post.

First, an update. We've just hit week 4 of the 12WBT. It's a milestone week, and also a week where we check on our results and take stock of where we are. So where am I?
After four weeks on the program, I've lost 3.7 kilos, and 13.5cm (total) off my chest, waist and thighs. Compared to some of the folks on 12WBT and The Biggest Loser, that's probably not a lot, but I'm happy with it. It's taken a long time to put it all on, I'm prepared (most of the time) for it to take a while to come off.
But, since October when I got serious about this weightloss, I've lost  total of 20 kilos, 4 dress sizes and about 57cm (total) off my chest, waist and thighs. This sounds a little more impressive.
I'm also a lot fitter - I don't puff and pant when I'm going up the stairs any more. :)
To give you an idea, here are photos from October and today:

October 2011
March 2012
Week two: So this weeks challenge is to look at what are you actually TAKING up? What are you giving yourself? Are you learning something new? Taking up a new sport? Giving yourself a social life?
It's amazing how much your thinking changes as your body changes. You start to care more about other things: your hair, your skin, the way your clothes look.
So one of the first things that I've done for myself since losing a more than trifling amount of weight is to do these things. I've always looked after my hair pretty well, but I'm thinking more about different ways of styling it. I'm wearing a bit of makeup. I'm remembering more often to moisturise, and taking more care of my fingernails (biting them less!)
And I'm more careful with my wardrobe. Before it was just 'what hides my gigantic belly?'. Now it's 'would that look OK?'. Not that I'm quite ready for high fashion, but I've realised that baggy clothes don't really look that great, and I'm dressing for my size. I've pulled out a heap of clothes that I haven't worn since 2008 (the last time I was my current weight), and they look pretty good. Though I'm rapidly growing out of them (or shrinking!).

So that's the first thing I'm giving myself. Another thing that I'm giving myself is good eating fitness. And a commitment to developing it.
Apart from the last time I lost a lot of weight, I have only ever given fitness about 50% of my time/effort.
Yes, I've done my Sh'Bam classes for about a year, but for a long time, that was it. Now, I've added some gym sessions and regular walks.
My knees don't do well with running (an unfortunate legacy of carrying too much weight for too long), but I like walking up mountains. So I'm doing more of that.
And I'm eating much better. Despite my regular Sh'Bam for a good part of 2011, I wasn't really losing much weight for the first few months, as I was still eating too much crap. Or just too much.
I mean, I've always eaten healthy - I love vegies! - but I've also gone for chocolate, ice cream, cheese (etc) too much of the time too. Not so much any more. I'm not following the 12WBT menus to the letter, but I'm making healthy choices. And eating much less. It's amazing how little you do eat when you're concentrating on only eating when hungry.

And then there are the things I'm giving myself. And the challenges I've set for myself. Tomorrow, I'm picking up my new car. My little reward for the hard work I've done (both personally and professionally). It's a new Golf. I've never had a new car before, and while Delilah (my current car, called Delilah because the number plate starts with YYY) has been extremely reliable, she's 18 years old and too big for what I need.
I've also decided to do Sh'Bam instructor training (if I can come up with the money soon!). Not necessarily because I want to work as an instructor (but who knows, maybe I might!), but because it's a challenge I want to set for myself. Couch potato to super cool instructor!

So yes, I am taking up some new things. Lots of new things!

The week three question I've discussed before:
How will you acknowledge and reward yourself during Round 1, 2012 of the 12WBT? What are the small wins? What are your big accomplishments? How will you achieve these and how will you reward your efforts?

One of my big rewards has been my car, but I'm also looking at the Sh'Bam training as a reward too.
There will be little things along the way: some new clothes, nice experiences etc. Then once I've gotten where I want to go, I'd like to go away to one of those spa retreats: you know, good (healthy) food, exercise, massages in a nice, peaceful environment. Maybe that will be a 40th birthday treat!

So that's me in week 4. How are you doing?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

365 Grateful - Sundays

There's something special about Sunday. The pace is slower, everyone's relaxed, it's a good day to indulge in...well whatever makes you happy!

A little bit of my Sunday!
I go pretty hard Monday-Saturday, so I try hard to make Sunday a little slower. Sometimes I have to force myself, though today I didn't have that problem!
Sundays are slow breakfasts all together, often with one of Oli's friends (or one of ours) as a ring-in. I do pancakes or bacon and eggs, and we drink coffee and chat and read papers. 

Oli and I will often go on a Sunday bike ride, though we didn't today. Then he's usually occupied with friends or games or Lego (or we sometimes play board games). 

Now that I have someone doing some cleaning for me (best investment ever! I'm so grateful that I'm able to so that), I have more time on the weekends, so if I can't garden I'll do some work/study and a bit of a cook-up. I don't like sending Oli to school with packets of junk, so I make cookies and recess snacks like muesli bars or zucchini slice. I'll also do some meals for freezing and make up some salad jars for lunches (another thing I'm grateful for-great idea!).  
Salad jars! So handy!

So today was nice. I'm grateful for these kinds of Sundays, as I know I'm coming up for some crazy times at work!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

365 Grateful - February (my new job)

So I've been in my new job about 6 weeks now, and I can definitely say that I love it! And I'm very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do it. 

Some things I'm grateful for:

The Slow Lane
Taken while stopped, I promise!
One of the things about my new job that I thought would be the hardest is having to commute every day. When I say commute, of course I'm referring to the Canberra version: 22km of reasonably busy traffic (around 30 minutes on a bad day, 16-20 on a good one), going in the opposite direction to more congested traffic. So, nothing like a Melbourne or Sydney suburban commute (which I'm enormously grateful for!).
Still, perhaps because of the good roads in Canberra, or the fact that there isn't usually that much traffic on the roads, Canberra drivers are notoriously impatient and quite aggressive at times. So I'm very grateful for the slow lane!
On the days that I've tried travelling in the right-hand lane, I've arrived at work in a much more stressed-out state than the days that I travel all the way in the left-hand lane. It might take a couple of extra minutes, but the traffic flows reasonably well anyway, and I don't have people tailgating me and shaking their head at my obviously misguided attempts to follow the speed limit. 

Free Water!
Water - on tap!
The University of Canberra has a 'no bottled water' policy. And there are bubblers and bottle fillers all over the place. I like being able to fill up my bottle wherever I am.

A few other (non-photographed) things I'm grateful for:

  • My new friends: I have met some really great people at my new job, and I love hanging out with them. They're great to share a coffee or a beer with, and we have a great laugh when we're together. 
  • Learning: It's so cool to be in a learning environment again. While the subject that I'm lecturing in is right up my alley, I'm still learning new stuff about it every day. I'm also doing some tutoring in an Educational Psychology unit, and while I know a lot of the stuff, I'm still learning new things from it! I'm also studying again, which is quite satisfying!
  • Teaching! While I made the decision a while back that I wasn't going to go back to teaching in schools, teaching adults is completely different. It's been brilliant so far, and while I know it will get crazy around assessment time, it's great to be in that space again.
  • University of Canberra campus: There are so many cool things about working on a university campus: the wildlife (snakes, lizards, birds, rabbits, kangaroos), the great food and coffee (I've found the best coffee ever here!), the general buzz of intelligent and interesting conversations, the green spaces, the quirky people. I love it!
So work is great, and I'm grateful for it! Just gotta work on some ways to stay on there!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You've gotta be grateful...

Today would have been Samuel's 18th birthday. So it's a sad day for us in a lot of ways, but I'm choosing to come at it from a grateful angle.

My brother-in-law posted a very important message on Facebook this morning. He said:

"I never knew how much I loved you, and the rest of the family until we lost you, it's a shame that it took losing you for me/us to realise just how important we all are to each other but to me that's your legacy. You have made me realise the true value of family and friends and truly what it means to love someone..."

Losing Sam was the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me, but (and I never thought I'd say this) there have been some positive impacts, and this is one of them. Samuel brought our family closer together and I have to be grateful for that. There is also the lesson I learned about balance, the value of not putting absolutely all your energy into work, and of taking advantage of every single minute you have on this earth.

Young mum
I'm also grateful for the things that I learned while Samuel was here. I was a new mum at 22; not young really, but young enough that I didn't know a lot about the world. Samuel taught me all sorts of wonderful lessons about being a parent, having fun, being humble, and loving someone deeply. I also learned funky things like how to play YuGiOh and teach a kid how to ride a bike and cook for a family and that I really wanted to be a teacher...

Most of all, I'm grateful for the memories that I have of him, the time we had together, the fun we had, and that he graced this world for a fantastic 13 years and 9 months. I regret that he didn't get to become an adult, but I can't dwell on that. I will remain grateful for him.

Happy birthday Sam, wherever you are...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

365 Grateful 24 - 28

My goodness! I'm not sure why this one never published!
January 24, 2014
Comfy puss!
I'm grateful for my pussycat. He's so cute and pretty relaxed. His name is Woopagott and he often stretches out in weird positions like this. We've had him a long time - we got him at 6 weeks old from the RSPCA (so he must be at least 14), so I don't know how long he's got left, but he's pretty cool.

January 25, 2014
Dancin' time!
Saturday night, I went out with my friend Jordan to celebrate his birthday. We had a lovely dinner at Tosolini's , then went out and danced. I think we danced for about 5 hours!
I love a good dance, and the older I get, the less I tend to visit nightclubs, but when I do, I'm grateful for the chance to dance!

January 26, 2014
Is there anything better than a good BBQ? Australia Day is generally the same for me: Hottest 100, a good barbie and a few beers. There's nothing better. I'm grateful for the chance to relax, with family or friends or whoever happens to be around!

January 27, 2014
Too Cool!
Today, I'm grateful for dress-ups! I love to dress up and be a bit silly. This is me channeling Pink. Nice, huh? (Oh, and I had a lovely day at a friend's pool). Nice day!

January 28, 2014
My new office!
Today, I started work at my new job (lecturing at the University of Canberra). And I've got my own office! With my name on the door! I'm very excited!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

365 Grateful 20-23

Ok, so it's becoming obvious that I won't be able to sustain a daily 'grateful'. It's not that I'm not grateful daily for something or other, but as always it seems that life will get in the way. So as of February, I'm going to aim for a 'weekly' grateful, so that I can still keep track of the wonderful things in my life, but not get too overwhelmed by having to post something for every day. I've got an extremely busy year coming up, which I'm looking forward to, but I need to strike a good balance for everything. Until then though, I shall continue with January!

January 20, 2014
Bath time!

While my gorgeous Rollo doesn't share my gratitude, I am most grateful for mobile dog washers! Rollo is quite a large dog and coming up on 40 kilos, and he doesn't like the bath, especially the drying bit. I've tried a couple of times by myself, and he's just too big and stubborn for me, so when we started paying someone to come and wash him, it made such a difference! Well worth the money for a beautiful clean and soft boy!

January 21, 2014
I'm not going to put a photo of him up, but I'm very grateful for my nephew Max. He's nearly 12 weeks old and just beautiful! Oli and I went and visited him on Monday and had some lovely cuddles. 
Sometimes, I wish I'd had a big bunch of kids. But life didn't work out that way (and I'm very grateful for my little family), so it's very exciting when my in-laws start having babies that I can cuddle and eventually spoil rotten!

January 22, 2014
Sparkly toes!
I've only had two pedicures in my life and I've gotta tell you, I'm hooked! I've always hated my feet. I've got short, stumpy, weirdly shaped toes, and for a long time, I had a terrible habit of picking at my toenails until there wasn't much left at all (sorry if that's too much information!). So when I decided (after someone gave me a voucher) to go and get one on my birthday last year, I was a little nervous. But it's lovely! A nice sit down while someone gives your feet lots of attention (including a nice massage - I've been known to pay my own children for a foot rub!), and then paints your nails! Now that I have nails, I like them sparkly! I'm so grateful for pedicures!

365 Grateful - 15-19

January 15, 2014

Summer Sunset
There's nothing quite like a summer sunset. This one is taken through the cat window, but you can still see how beautiful it was...

January 16, 2014
Laksa! Drooooooool!
I love laksa. It's probably one of my all-time favourite meals. The hotter the better! Today, after teaching my very first paid Sh'Bam class (another thing I'm grateful for today!), I had a lovely laksa with my brother-in-law, his partner and their friends. Despite the hot day (it was 39 degrees in Canberra on the 15th), we sat outside the Asia Noodle House, and had one of their excellent laksas and a good natter. Yum!

January 17 and 18, 2014
The view from our campsite
I'm very grateful for Caravan Parks. No matter how broke you are (things are a little tight at the moment!), caravan parks ensure that you can have a holiday by the sea - as long as you're prepared to do it a little 'rough'. We stayed two nights in the fantastic Easts Caravan Park, and had a busy but relaxing time. Once you're set up (and it wasn't too hard for us as we can now sleep in Anthony's van) , you can just put your feet up and enjoy the beautiful weather and views. Luckily for us, we were blessed with both! I love the slower pace, the lack of a TV, and all the cool things that are available in a caravan park (like a nice pool) that you'd have to pay a lot more for in a hotel.
January 19, 2014
Could we cram any more fun into two days? Nah...

Sunrise over Montague Island
And while I'm on the subject, I am very grateful for Narooma. It's such a beautiful town. I spent a fair bit of time there when I was a kid (my grandparents lived there), and I'm happy to say it hasn't changed much at all (though there are signs of that starting to happen). It's still got a 'small coast town' feel, unlike some of the more commercial, built-up areas like Batemans Bay. There is a gorgeous little beach there (Bar Beach), that is calm and clear (and protected by a shark net, which always makes the kids happy!); which was also only a kilometre or so from where we stayed. We rode our bikes over for a lovely (if not bracing - the water is cold!) swim, which was the highlight of our little holiday. Such a lovely place. 

365 Grateful - 10-14

For the last few days I've been doing a big clean up and can't get to my computer (I'm on my phone now). But, I thought I'd better throw up my 'gratefuls', at least as place holders until (hopefully) tomorrow I can get back to it!

January 10, 2014

Yep, berries again! These are my first blackberries for the season and they're yummy!
In winter, when I get grumpy and depressed about the cold and living in Canberra, I must remember how grateful I am for a climate that allows me to grow berries!

January 11, 2014
There's nothing quite like Saturday breakfast. I love to sit with my eggs and stroll casually through the paper, coffee in the side. Even more satisfying when you've just worked out!

January 12, 2014
I didn't take a photo because I was having so much fun, but today I'm grateful for board games. I had a lovely night last night with friends playing board games. If you've never played Balderdash before, do yourself a favour and have a go. It's guaranteed to make you laugh yourself silly! Both times I've played it (I know, I must play more!), I've laughed so much it hurts, and who doesn't need a good laugh from time to time?!

January 13, 2014
Without the National Library, I wouldn't be here. Simple as that. My parents met while working there 45-odd years ago (Mum was from Melbourne, Dad was from Sydney), and started their life together here in Canberra. So yeah, I'm grateful for that!
I also love that we have this amazing place here in Canberra, that along with all the other 'cultural institutions' by the lake: the Art Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, the National Museum give everyone the chance to see amazing and beautiful things for free. Today we saw the 'Mapping our World' exhibition, which (as a casual cartophile) I thought was just brilliant. How lucky we are to have institutions dedicated to the preservation of history in our backyard!

January 14, 2014
We've always had pets. And lots of different ones too, from our dogs and the cat to chooks, ducks, geese, rats, rabbits, and even a couple of goats. And of course there are the many parrots that Anthony breeds.
But the thing I'm grateful about today is that they've always gotten along. The dogs and the cat, the cat and the birds, even the cat and the rats. I like that all those different animals can live together in our happy little home. My sister-in-law, Rachael, who is also a vet, says that it's because we have such a 'chilled out' household. I'll take that as a compliment!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

365 Grateful - 8 & 9

January 8, 2014
When you can't be bothered...
I don't do a lot of pre-cooked/packaged meals, but I'm always grateful for a Lean Cuisine or a Lite n' Easy meal that I can just pull out of the freezer when I can't be bothered cooking. In winter it's soups (that I've made), but in summer soup doesn't always cut it, so when I'm tired and hungry it's good to be able to eat something that you know is reasonably good for you.

I'm a coffee snob. There, I said it. I don't drink a lot of coffee (maybe one every 1-2 days), but when I do, I like it to be a good one. Never instant (I'll pick tea instead), nice and strong, simple flat white. There's a shop up the road from where I work that makes excellent coffee, including the pretty patterns like the one in the picture. I'll miss them when I go to the uni, though there is a pretty decent coffee shop there too. I'm very grateful for good coffee!

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

365 Grateful - 7

Day 7 - January 7 2014
Work in progress...
Today I'm grateful for having already started my Masters. I receive my academic record today in the mail. I started my Masters in Education back in 2011, but after a semester was a little disillusioned by the university I had chosen. Mistakes in the unit outline, ineffective feedback, etc etc. So I pulled out.
This year, I'm taking on an exciting opportunity as I have been seconded by the University of Canberra to convene one of the units in the Bachelor of Education. A very exciting job indeed. And while I'm there, I have the opportunity to do my Masters. HAving already done two units means that maybe I won't have to work myself too hard (only a little bit hard!). So today, I'm grateful for the head start! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

365 Grateful - 5 & 6

Day 5 - January 5 2014

Date Night!

One of the reasons (I think) that Anthony and I have lasted together so long (apart from pure stubbornness!) is that we regularly take time out to do something together. Concerts, movies, dinner. Time with just the two of us...
Last night we went out for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, The London. We ate outside (another thing to be grateful for - summer evenings!) and watched the silly Summernats folk wander around, all sunburnt and loud.
Then we went to the Dendy Premium Lounge to watch The Hobbit - Desolation of Smaug. It was our first time in the premium lounge and it was certainly a different way to watch a movie. The seats were very comfy, and I loved being able to have a beer and have a choc-top delivered halfway through, but it was also too comfortable, and because we were out past my bedtime, I found myself nodding off, like I would if I had been watching it at home.
It's also really expensive! Both the tickets and the food! Still, it was a nice experience (courtesy of a lovely friend that gave me the tickets for my birthday), and the movie wasn't too bad (I have to reserve judgement until I've seen it again fully awake!). So I'm grateful for that!

I'm grateful for berries. The sweet you can have when you really shouldn't be having sweets! I picked these today in my garden and I'm looking forward to enjoying them! As I've posted before, we love growing food and there's nothing like eating something out of your own garden. Berries are my favourite and they're so easy to grow! I'm grateful for berries today!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

365 Grateful - 4

Day 4 - January 4 2014
Sh'Bam Feet!
One of the things I'm most grateful for is Sh'Bam. I discovered Sh'Bam in April 2011 when I attended the second class held at my local gym. From that class on, I was hooked! I did the class about three times a week and lost 25 kilos doing it. Then I decided that I'd like to become a Sh'Bam instructor. I did the training in April 2012 and since then I've been taking tracks during other people's classes. I had just got my own class when I fractured my knee last October, and I hadn't done a class since until last weekend. And then yesterday I managed to teach a few tracks.

I love Sh'Bam because it's energetic and a great cardio workout, but also because it's LOTS of fun. The songs are catchy and the steps are easy to pick up, and the instructors that I work with always have lots of fun mucking around and hamming it up. The participants love it and so do I! Without Sh'Bam, it's very hard to stay motivated to keep fit!

Friday, January 3, 2014

365 Grateful - 3

Day 3 - January 3 2014
This is my Pandora bracelet. I know that everyone has one, but the thing I really love about them is the fact that everyone's is different. I had a lovely charm bracelet when I was young, and this brings back nice memories of it, but I also love the fact that every charm tells a story, funnily enough of all the things I'm grateful for! This is the story of my Pandora (from bottom left):
  • Jarrah bead - Anthony made this for me. He had made one earlier last year that was lovely but too big. So this one was made in honour of the original Jarrah bead. 
  • Butterfly - this is one of those 'BFF' charms. I have half and the other half is with my best friend of 25 years, Sally. 
  • Stars - My mum and dad gave me this one. Maybe 'cause I'm a star (or have my head in the stars)
  • Pink birthstone - This is the birthstone for October; the month that both Anthony and Oliver were born.
  • 'Oliver' spacer - This is a spacer that has 'Oliver' engraved on it.
  • Green bead - Anthony bought me this to remind me of him (like I need prompts!). Green is his favourite colour.
  • 'Tree of Life' - This is a lovely gold and silver charm that my parents gave me for my 40th birthday. It speaks to me in so many ways: joy of life, love of nature, renewal, growth... Lovely...
  • Silky Oak bead - this is another one that Anthony made for me. He knows that Silky Oaks are my favourite trees, and my favourite timber!
  • Turquoise birthstone - this is the birthstone for December. The month I was born.
  • Purple charm - Anthony bought this for me. Purple is (one of) my favourite colours.
  • M - fairly self-explanatory!
  • 'Samuel' spacer - This is a spacer that has 'Samuel' engraved on it.
  • Tiger stripe charm - Orange was Samuel's (and is Oliver's) favourite colour. Samuel also loved tigers.
  • Black birthstone - This is the birthstone for March, the month that Samuel was born.
  • Blackwood bead - This is another one made by Anthony. He loves blackwood.
  • Dragon - Anthony bought this for me. I love dragons, and used to collect figurines.
  • Lego brick - I put this one on. It tells the story of my new adventures in Lego, and the wonderful new friends I have made because of it!

365 Grateful - 1 & 2

I've been wanting to start up the blog again for a long time, but couldn't think of a sustainable way to do it. A while back I mentioned that I'd like to change the blog to a celebration of the good things in life, but I still couldn't figure out a way to do that so that I could have something regular to post. Luckily, I came across this post on Upworthy and I thought that a 365 Grateful project would be a great place to start.

I've toyed with the idea of a Gratitude Journal, but 365 Grateful is a quick, easy and visual way of celebrating the good things in life. The idea is to take a photo of something I'm grateful every day and post it here. Kinda like an online photo album of all the things that make me happy in 2014. I'm almost positive I won't post every day, but I will take a photo every day, and put it up here when I can. If you like this idea, why not have a go yourself?

Day 1 - January 1 2014
Who doesn't love sparklers? They cost hardly anything and they're one of the last 'mildy dangerous' things that kids can play with (you've seen me rant about the Government sucking the fun out of everything!). And they look so pretty when the kids are waving them around!

I love anything that sparkles. While I'm not a huge Christmas fan, I do love Christmas lights, and make an effort to put some up each year. Perhaps I should take a picture of them!

Day 2 - January 2 2014
I've never had nice nails. They are thin and weak and bend backwards instead of curving nicely. For my 40th birthday in December (I'll post about that soon), I was given a voucher for one of those nail salons. I'd thought about doing it, but had been told that it would wreck my nails so I was a bit cautious. Well, when I got the voucher I figured that they couldn't get much worse, so I trotted off on my birthday and got (my very first) pedicure and a set of acrylic nails.

Well they're great! They look so much nicer, and I haven't been able to pick at them or bite them (or the skin around them), so they stay nice. Yesterday, I went and got them 'filled' (this could be the part that's not so great - and perhaps expensive!), and they are even better! The fellow (yes, fellow - Oliver was gobsmacked when I said a man did them!) spent ages on them; he did a great job and they look much more real and natural now. 

It's my little bit of feminine, and I like them very much!