Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm not average!

I don't like the idea that I have achieved an 'average' result.

Today I received my mark for my first 'writing' task at uni. I only achieved 13/20 which was the average result. The tutor advised that the marking system was extremely critical and she felt it was over harsh. Her comments to us 'off the record' were that she would have given us all at least one grade higher, but she had to stick to the course guidelines.

So here I sit digesting my '5' in writing and realise that I really don't like the course. It is not because of the grade (well not totally), but rather due to the fact that the 'Nazi writing police' have taken over. My blog post on 'Writer's block' wasn't bad, but there were numerous grammatical errors which I didn't pick up and probably wouldn't have, even if I had proof read it a hundred times. I am just not that particular.

Next task is another blog due on 12th April, I wonder if I will be able to improve or will this be the course that I just get a credit for and move on to the next one. I will certainly give it as much effort as I can, but will I give enough to satisfy the criteria.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy 16th Birthday Matthew

Our wonderful son Matthew turns 16 today.
I wanted a couple of photos, but the glare was in his eyes, so this was the best I could get (for now).
Happy Birthday Matthew.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Seaworld photos

One of the best things at Seaworld is a 6 million litre Aquarium with a section for tropical fish and another huge shark tank. I could have spent hours just watching the fish.
The funniest 'fish' was the cleaner - a diver cleaning the glass from the inside out. Luckily he was in the tropical tank and not the shark tank.

A Day at Seaworld

We had a wonderful day out at Seaworld today.
Elizabeth and Matthew had annual passes, so I bought tickets for Ivan, Sarah and I.
We enjoyed the dophin show so much, with all the tricks.

Sarah was also excited to see the Polar Bears and Shark tank.

There are only 4 major rides at Seaworld and the queues were quite long, so it is often not the most enjoyable park, but it is 9 years since our last visit, so it was good fun to return today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writing a journal - A blessing or a curse?

Words are my gift and my passion. I speak a lot, read a lot and write a lot.

I have realised that my journalling, blog and scrapbooks may be affecting my life.

Where a person who isn't an obsessive, compulsive 'journaller' may not even be able to tell you what they did yesterday; someone who is compulsive about recording their life, like I am, will be able to tell you when they went to the doctor, how much it rained on March 1st 2009 and how many haircuts they had in a year.

A journal is a record of thoughts and events and for most people it is often a haphazard project over the years. I began on of my most detailed journals when I began dating my first serious boyfriend at age 15. This journal took the form of daily letters, dutifully carried between us by his obliging sister (my best friend). When my marriage to him eventually broke up, I sat and cried, as I destroyed all the letters and my hopes and dreams. They were no longer part of my life and now over 22 years later I do not regret the destruction, but mourn the memories lost. It was however, at the time an essential ending to that part of my life.

My next serious journal began as I started my new life with a new partner and my now husband of 21 years. Over the years I have written journals covering my children's first few year's of life, major moves, dramas and upsets. Some of them are books filled to the brim with words, others just have a few pages written on and then abandoned.

Then I discovered scrapbooking - it was a match made in heaven. My passion for photography could be combined with my love or writing and the journal album was born. I discovered calendar pages and with these I could record the mundane but interesting events of our lives; which child had tonsillitis, when the car was service and so on. The 'big' events were captured with photographs and words, but the little things that make up our daily existence also had their place.

Boxes and boxes of photos and memorabilia filled my house. I collected brochures and postcards from trips, these made their way into the albums, but I often kept a spare copy - just in case! Not content with one copy, I always printed two copies of each photo so my children would be able to have their own record. There are three of them and a single album cannot be split three ways, so one day they would be able to make their own memory album, using my original as a reference.

The next step for me in this process was discovering blogging. Every day I could connect online and share my thoughts, inspirations or just daily happenings and I seem to have a lot of these. Not content with just posting something, I copied and saved each post to a file and then saved it onto disc; because who knows when I might want to look back and read what I was thinking, doing, saying on any particular day?

Now I have achieved the ultimate height - the digital photo album. With nearly 80 pages of photos and journalling covering just 83 days of this year alone, my obsession is exposed. Every event is photographed or written about, added to the calendar, photos uploaded immediately onto the computer and scrap booked.

There is a positive of this obsession; I have beautiful, wonderful memory albums of our lives. The ups and downs, the good and the bad, the exciting and the ordinary and when needing a trip down memory lane all I need to do is pick up an album.

The negative of this obsession is that I have at my finger tips so much information about my life.
Details that most people need to forget; information that is irrelevant. We often only remember the highlights (good and bad) of our life; because it is by doing so that we are not overwhelmed by what seems to be an accumulated life of issues and things to overcome. The fact that the car broke down twice in a month would normally be forgotten and only the drive to the picnic spot remembered; but I remember everything and my memory is full.

So is it a blessing or a curse? I still don't know. Am I going to stop writing, journalling and recording? I just don't know; but at least I have paused and now will consider what to do next. Or maybe I will just write about it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Posted with permission and admiration

It is with great pride and honour that I offer the following post for you all to read. My amazing daughter Elizabeth has written an inspirational peace of writing. I hope you are inspired and I hope more than anything that she can see how wonderful she is.


Peace Pilgrim wrote:

"Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions." - Peace Pilgrim

This cannot be truer than said of me. After a fit of despair I decided to embark on one of those cleaning sprees. You know the ones where if your room is perfectly tidy and the shelves free of dust, that somehow all of that anguish and failure will disappear. I suppose it's like writers who buy a new desk and laptop in an attempt to reconnect with their muse. Regardless of whether this works or not my feelings are; you may still feel crap but at least you'll have a tidy room.

So I decided to rid myself of my old childhood trinkets. My room is full of them, ones too valuable to give away because my best friend gave me that on my 12th birthday; never mind I haven't spoken to her in 10 odd years. I decided to rid myself of the old baggage that was weighing me down; to approach my new life uncluttered and free of burdens. In this positive attitude I found a box and some bubble wrap to transfer my items. At first it was easy, a dolphin here, a horse there, a couple of candles; but the closer I got to the things that really mattered the slower I went. I started to feel sick, lead in my stomach, feet dragging the whole lot. I kept thinking who I was letting down. That somehow if I packed away that 12th birthday dolphin, that my best friend would feel the rejection - a State away. Things got so bad that I ended up hands shaking holding a soft toy feeling guilty about the fact I hadn't played with him, and how he (the soft toy) must feel so lonely! At this point in my life (and it's one of the few) I came to realise that I was completely and utterly insane.

I was so possessed by these possessions that I had come to attribute rejection and a sense of failure onto each object. Each item wasn't a thing, but a place, a person a judge condemning me for wanting to move on without carrying them on my back. I had come to believe that if I rid myself of these things that the empty shelves would somehow define my life as nothing. That without all these physical manifestations my life so far would not have existed.

While these revelations are useful in themselves, the practicalities of my situation became painfully evident. If I were indeed to unpack the items and replace them on the shelves, I have not doubt that the sickness and rejection would disappear. My 12 year old friend would not feel abandoned and my cuddly toy would feel loved after a hug. This however, is obviously counterproductive. I would not have achieved anything and would still be facing my bright future burdened down by the past.

If on the other hand I were to keep on packing, I would have to deal with those accusing shelves and rejected person. A brief digression: Here is where self-help meditations really bug me. While I am sure that closing my eyes and imagining a rainbow over a tropical beach will result in calm; I am still faced with all of these issues when I once again open my eyes. So what to do? And here is what all good fence sitting perfectionists do - I did both and neither.

I continued to pack away all of my trinkets. My 12 year old dolphin was the first to go along with a fond thought and memory about my friend. My cuddly toy went to my sister for hugs and the love he deserved, and so on. By the end of it, I had shed a few more tears and relived a few memories. I chose one of the special items and placed it on my desk. The rest of them went in the box under the bed.

I know that it would seem that revelation has conquered and I have emerged triumphant against my insanity, but truth be told the possessions are still under the bed. They still in part possess me, as I am unable to give them away. I would like to say that I have 'slayed the dragon' but for now banishing him to a far-off land, out of sight and mind is the best I can do; perhaps one day.

But for now my goal is to fill the shelves of my life with items, not possessions.

Elizabeth Adair

Monday, March 22, 2010

An inspirational quote

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." - Annie Dillard (American poet)

My circle of Women calendar which sits on my desk provides me with some lovely ideas and quotes and today's quote got me thinking.

I have always been a believer that at the end of each day we should be able to say I have lived my life to the full and should I not wake tomorrow I will have no regrets. In recent times it has been harder to live up to this motto, but today I can see just a little clearer.

A lifetime is made up of small, individual days. A journey, even a life journey, begins with a single step and to try and perfect an entire life is to hard. So strive for just one good day, or even one good hour and build on top of those and before you know it the balance sheet will be positive.

Today despite chaos and problems, I focussed on solving each problem, one at a time. I didn't worry about the whole picture and now at the end of the day I feel as though it has been a successful day.

'How I spent today?' - well I spent it solving problems, little problems which have all added up to a successful day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sarah is home!

Our wonderful girl is home and had a good time. "The weather was horrible with rain showers, the food was horrible, the sleeping was horrible," but beneath all the horrible she had a good time.

Sarah won the sandcastle challenge, creating a dragon protecting its egg, managed to body surf a big wave and also won a challenge of lying flat on the floor with a cup of water resting on her forehead and managing to stand up without using her hands and keep the cup on her head. Well done sweetheart.

At pickup Bronwyn, the principal, came over and gave me a huge hug and congratulated me on being so brave all week. We had a great laugh together. The staff were wonderful and caring and now we can breathe a sigh of relief until next year.

We made it!

Today is Friday and Sarah comes home.

I didn't have to go and fetch her from camp (either for herself or for me). I am so proud of us both.

At 2pm (just in case she is early) I will be at school waiting for the bus to arrive at 3pm. I can't wait to give her a big hug.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One down, two to go!

Pool leak found!

Our pool has been losing water at a rate of about an inch a day. Steve (from Aqua leak) came and found the problem today. Now we just have to dig a big hole to expose the pipes and he will come back and fix it. Only hassle is we have a cyclone bearing down on the Queensland coast due to hit over the weekend. I guess we won't have any problems with losing water, if we get all the rain expected.

Problem Two: Toilet that won't flush and then empties completely - Plumber coming tomorrow!

Problem Three: Ongoing hassles with Environmental system - Oh well - Joys of owning your own home!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To everyone who is Irish and those who wish they were!


Top of the morning to you all. Elizabeth and I wore green shirts to university today and I had on my green headband and Celtic necklace. Ivan wore his green shirt and is on his way home to share a Guinness with Dad.
Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and comments regarding my previous post about Sarah. The wonderful news is that her principal emailed me to say she enjoyed yesterday's activities and was all smiles at breakfast. What a wonderful school my children attend. To have a personal relationship with the principal that she is prepared to email me and let me know how my child is doing is a credit to the school and to her personally. Way to go West Moreton Anglican College!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is is better to let go or to hold on tight?

I do not know the answer to the above question.

Today I had to make one of the hardest decisions in my life and now almost 8 hours later, I still don't know that I made the right decision. Sarah has school camp this week and unlike most of her peers - Sarah hates school camp. Her normally high 'separation anxiety' kicks into hyper-drive and her stress levels reach extreme proportions.

Today I made her go to camp!

My head (and society) tells me it is better to let go, to prepare her for life, to teach her to stand on her own feet and deal with the discomfit of being away from home and the experiences will make her strong.

My heart and my soul tell me that my head and society is WRONG! I feel so strongly that I should rather be protecting my child. She needs to grow up, but in providing her with the basis of protection, love and strength of family, she will one day have a foundation on which to leave - when she is ready.

Sarah cried as I pried her out of my arms. She sat in the front seat of a bus, alone and forlorn, her friends walked past her to sit at the back and she sat alone. Her face and her eyes pleaded with me to 'save' her and I let her go. I held strong to the dictates of society and my heart bled.

I cried, I cried when her principal asked me how she was? I cried and said that I didn't want her to go, but I still sent her on her way. Even now I am crying, I want to drive the 2.5 hours up the coast and fetch her. Maybe, she is fine and it is just me who is suffering? I do not know, all I know is that more than anything I wanted to hold on tight and I didn't.

Is it better to let her go or to hold on tight? Maybe someone knows, but I don't!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Life, Uni and chores!

Two days of university this week, lectures and tutorials. I am really glad to say that both courses (I have dropped from 3 down to 2 - Gothic will have to wait until next year) were really good. I have 2 excellent tutorial groups. Today's writing course was interesting and fun, so am hoping that I will improve my writing.

Yesterday I came home with Elizabeth and headed straight to the gym, a good cardio workout and then chores for the rest of the afternoon resulted in a productive day.

Today it was straight home to take advantage of another few hours of sunshine to try and mow the front garden, before more predicted rain. It was getting impossible to walk to the front door without getting our feet soaked. Managed it, then the mower died! It does this when it gets hot and I was too frustrated to wait until it cooled down, so the rest will have to wait until Ivan returns and we get a few more dry days.

I got Sarah to help me make Bolognaise for supper, even though she is still unwell. Taking both Matt and her to the doctor tomorrow for some blood tests - it is getting ridiculous that they are both sick again. Very frustrating!

That is my life for the moment, will catch up soon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What a stunner!

My amazing brother Ian, has taken a very simple photo of Sarah cutting her cake (from my previous blog post) and turned it into this FANTASTIC masterpiece. He has captured the beauty of our beautiful 12 year old girl. Here I see the amazingly beautiful child that she is and also the stunning woman she will one day be.
Ian thank you for this gift, your niece was almost in tears at the beauty of this photo. You are so talented and phenomenal. We love you so much.

Birthday girl

Sarah's birthday party and sleep-over was a great success with 4 friends for the party and 2 who stayed overnight. The girls had a swim and we played games, including this great dress-up game.
Emily and Skye stayed over and they were all really good, chatting quietly till midnight and then going to sleep with no problems.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy 12th Birthday Sarah

Birthday girl with all her presents. I think one of her favourites is the coupon book, she has on her lap. It is an all year round gift with redeemable coupons for things like 'no chores, an extra hour to stay up late; being called Princess for a day etc. etc.' It is going to be a fun present.

Talking to Daddy who is in the USA.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Photos from today at uni & on the way to uni

Driving to uni today. I had my camera ready as I crossed the river. It turned out to be a great photo and then while sitting in the traffic I decided to take another picture.

Once I got to uni, I walked past the lake and the ducks were so happy after the rain. This elegant pelican was quite regal in the middle of the lake.

Photos of flooded rivers

Flooded Brisbane river. Luckily it didn't come over the banks this time.
(Sorry Ian, I will make sure that I always post the daily photo in my blog, so that you can click on it and enlarge it.)

Alice in Wonderland Review

I picked up the children today and straight after school we went to see Alice in 3D. I had heard quite a bit of negative reviews, so wasn't sure I even wanted to see it - although I don't usually worry about reviews. The children were however, very keen so we decided to give it a go.

At first I didn't enjoy it, but at one stage realised that I was enjoying it. I am not however, convinced that the 3D added anything to it, unlike Avatar. So would just see it in regular format.

For me it was a typical Tim Burton movie, one that I wasn't sure that I enjoyed at the time, but one I am sure I will watch over and over again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How creative are you?

Sarah has been making 'things' since she was a little girl. Recently she has been collecting the drink's trays from the drive-thru at McDonalds. She kept saying she wanted to make a Robot!
I couldn't see how she was going to do this and the pile of cardboard poles and trays in her room has driven me crazy. I am always moaning at her to 'tidy' it all up and throw away the 'junk'.

Last night she appeared - and here it was - A Robot!

Congratulations love, you are amazing!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Drowned Rat!

Yes Mom, I did look like a 'drowned rat.'

5am this morning I woke to a flooded front garden (again) and needed to clear the channel alongside the house to allow the water to flow away. I also emptied the pool and lowered the level in the water tank, so it wouldn't overflow.
All is well now after a full day of rain. Luckily never too heavy - just continuous. I am however, sitting now in the cool of evening, no rain and everything green.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Now it starts!

Uni begins for the year tomorrow. I am quite excited about the beginning of lectures. My first course tomorrow is Australian literature and one novel and two short stories into it, I am quite enjoying the selection.

Wednesday is going to be the big test for me as it is the Writing fundamentals course - the one I am least looking forward to.

Thursday is Gothic literature and there is a lot of reading for this course, luckily I have read most of the novels and Elizabeth did the course two years ago, so will be my sounding board.

Tonight, Matthew has been a gem, sitting doggedly helping Sarah with her Math homework. Now Sarah doesn't enjoy Math at the best of times (it is Matthew's favourite subject other than IT) but his patience with his frustrated and annoyed sister has been wonderful.

He also gave me his English assignment to edit/proof-read and I was so thrilled with the quality of the document. His language was advanced and eloquent. Very well written. Given the previous years of struggle I have had with him in this area, it is wonderful to see his maturity kicking in. Well done Matthew!

Elizabeth had her first day of uni today. It was a long day from 10am until 4.30pm and she has decided that Ivan may no longer travel on Mondays; that way she can get a lift into and out of uni with her Dad.

Tonight we are facing potentially heavy rain (again - of course Ivan is away) and I managed to worry Mom and Dad with my frustrations of coping with things on my own. Sometimes it just gets to me. It is however, nice to know they are always here for me. Of course I also have two and a half grown up children to help, so it is really not too serious. Anyway lets hope that all is well.

That is me for the evening, signing off to watch some TV, to read and get some rest before my big day. Oh yes, I also fitted in a visit to the gym today. 30 mins on the treadmill - 150 calories and 5 mins on the rowing machine - 50 calories. Then I enjoyed 10 mins in the sauna - maybe no calories but very relaxing.