Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekend Rundown...

Well, we've had a lovely weekend which started on Friday with picking up the Green Beast. She does seem to be happier after her service and fix up; with new spark plugs and no more leaking coolant. We celebrated by taking the boys to the swirly-whirly park (that is not its official name, just what we call it).

We've been going there since Erik was only 7 months old. It has changed in the past decade and a half, but the swirly-whirly slide has ever been a constant and over the years, we've bitten our bottom lips as each of the boys mastered the six metre high slide.





Erik didn't join us on this trip down memory lane as he is far too cool for the swirly-whirly slide these days.



The boys were teaming with energy after a few days stuck at home.


It wouldn't have been a trip to the swirly-whirly park without feeding the ducks!


There was quite a bit of argy-bargy going on amongst our feathered friends as well, with several ducks repeatedly chasing off the one in front here.


On Saturday my parents came over to watch the Grand Final with us. Erik and Bryn's team; Hawthorn, were playing Freemantle and after The Hawks loss at last years Grand Final we felt certain there would be a win to celebrate this year.

We weren't disappointed!

As a bonus Hunters and Collectors played during half time (Dave used to house share with the trombonist, Michael Waters). 

Of course, we had to have pies - and pasties and spring rolls - followed up by pikelets with raspberry jam and whipped cream. I managed to keep away from the televised excitement by busying myself in kitchen (I'm not really a mad-keen sports fan) and fun was had by all!



Today and tomorrow I am (and will be) working on George. I've just painted on his second coat of primer which should be fully dry by 5pm tonight. Then I'll paint a design on and let him dry overnight before affixing an assortment of pretties on him - Bryn thinks I'm making him into a girl, I will have to sit Bryn down for another chat about how outward appearances have little to do with what is going on inside a being regarding sex and gender identity.

When the first coat of primer was touch dry, I had a play with layout on George - this won't necessarily be the final lay out and it doesn't show the paint work which will underlie the decos, but I was fairly happy with this all the same.

Apparently, my 'Perfect Man' is eclectic, soft but hard, and sometimes a bit trashy, but not afraid to stand out and be noticed.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

I'm suffering P.I.D...

Politically induced depression.

That has to be it...

I have been trying to figure out why I have been feeling so flat of late. I still haven't made it to Uni, but also there have been a couple of days where I barely made it out of bed.

Tracking back, I find it all started on the weekend of the Federal election, and so I've come to the conclusion my mind simply does not want to process life under a Liberal government and more particularly, under a Liberal government lead by Tony Abbott.

Every day there seems to be a new horror story of ignorance erupting in the news. Ignoring asylum seekers, ignoring the environment, ignoring women, ignoring foreign aid, ignoring students, ignoring sole parents. All this government seems interested in is Corporate Rights (if they get their way, we won't legally be allowed to publicly boycott immoral companies).

Tony (as he seems to prefer everyone being on a first name basis) has been quoted as saying, 'Happy is the country more interested in sport than politics.'

Yes, yes, well I'm sure we would all be happier if we weren't interested in how he and his cronies are slicing and dicing all decency out of Australian governance, however, we - Australians - cannot afford to forget about politics or take our eye of our politicians in favour of following sport. Certainly not these days.

I am worried about money again. We had just gotten ahead a little, not really enough to save much, but enough that we didn't have to worry about not being able to feed the kids. Now the School Kids Bonus will be disappearing, and in the meantime our boys' primary school wants to introduce an iPad for every student (at the parents' expense).

The car went in for a service on Tuesday and we're still waiting for the call to pick it up - the ball park figure for repairs is about $900. There go all our savings - and then some.

I need to get on with this degree to ensure work next year, and I need to keep us afloat until I can get work next year. Just nine more months, I guess.

Just keep swimming...

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Frustrating Week...

I've felt quite frustrated this week.

I haven't been to work at all, though I'm sure I'll be fine by Monday.

I'm feeling a bit frustrated with my painting. I think I just need more patience. I need to do the paintings in stages and allow for proper drying in between those stages to achieve the end results I'm looking for.

Excellent news, on the painting front, though. I sold a painting! I wasn't even considering selling the paintings - I didn't feel they had much commercial value - I was doing them to please myself. Then someone wanted to buy one of my paintings - someone I don't actually know! That's a good feeling!

The painting I sold.


Took Erik to a paediatrician this week. When diagnosing children with Aspergers or Autism for the purpose of early intervention, the diagnosis must be a team consensus. Erik is outside this category in that he is no longer eligible for early intervention because he is over the age of twelve. In fact, we are receiving a Carers Allowance for him based on the diagnosis of his psychologist only. However, we have also taken him to a speech therapist (who didn't disagree with the psychologists diagnosis) and we took him to a Paediatrician this week.

The frustrating thing is, Erik was diagnosed with Aspergers under the DSM IV as it was still in use when the psychologist diagnosed him. It has since been superseded by the DSM 5 (sic) where Aspergers has been wholly subsumed into ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and the Paediatrician feels he would not qualify for an Autism diagnosis mainly because he doesn't seem to be challenged outside the home. That is to say, he has plenty of friends and he isn't constantly in trouble at school.

I described the various issues we've had with him and her response was 'That is all normal teenage behaviour'. The thing is, this isn't recent behaviour, this is behaviour we've been dealing with all his life. I also feel judged as a parent by this Paed. She asked Erik about the fighting with his brothers and what consequences he received for that. He said no consequences. This is absolutely not true. The problem is, because Erik is not deterred by consequences, he doesn't see them as consequences (his explanation to me afterwards, folks). So, sending him to his room, revoking all privileges (technology, social outings etc.), making him make amends to his brothers by doing nice stuff for them etc. None of these are a deterrent for him, so he doesn't view them as consequences. It is as if a criminal told the justice, 'Sending me to jail won't stop me, so I'm not phased by it.'

I told her about him stealing, she told me to lock up my purse because 1/2 of all teenagers will steal from their parents, given the opportunity.

I told her about the impulsive behaviour - she said, 'That's perfectly normal.'

I almost cried in her office from sheer frustration. I did end up telling her straight out, 'This is not a parenting issue, I have three other children who I have none of these problems with.'

I felt that because I didn't take Erik to a speech therapist at two, because I didn't send him to kindergarten, because he was breastfed until 4.5, because he didn't start school until 7.5 and because he claimed there are no consequences for anti-social behaviour, she has basically written his behaviour off as normal for a child who isn't parented 'properly'. Thank goodness she didn't ask about his immunisation status, hey?

In other news, I've been getting to bed at mostly reasonable hours (last night I got carried away painting and didn't get into bed until after 1am, but that's the first time in four weeks). And I've been getting up around 6-7.30am most mornings (never later than 9.30am), but I haven't kept up with the iron and Berocca, and I haven't been eating very well - no breakfasts, a fair bit of junk food - and I think those things probably affect my ability to cruise through small frustrations. I need to be more conscientious.

I want the warmer weather to come back, I can deal better with most things in the sun.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pichi Richi Pass...

In South Australia there is a place called Pichi Richi Pass. My parents once took me there, I think because it is near Quorn, and I somehow recall the need to go to Quorn to pick up a glider, or pilot a glider, or something to do with gliders - my parents were both glider enthusiasts for a short while in my childhood.

Anyway, we have this iconic photo taken from a trip to Pichi Richi Pass one night.


This past week I've thought about this photo often.

You see, months ago, I was diagnosed with GERD, a reflux disorder, which I've had all my life, and which did lead to an ulcer when I was 18, but which I've basically been untreated for all this time - except taking Mylanta until the ulcer healed, and then taking Gaviscon and Quickeze and the likes throughout pregnancy when the reflux became really bad.

I'm so used to reflux, I don't think about it much even though I've had it almost daily for as long as I can remember.

But then I started experiencing terrible stomach cramps a couple of months ago and my doctor sent me off for an endoscopy.

After this she put me on Nexium and boy was that an experience!

For the first week or so, I was in reflux heaven - that is, I had no reflux, I could eat what I liked and NO REFLUX. It was awesome! The end of the second week? Not quite so awesome. I was running for the loo every hour or so.

Third week, I was on the loo all. the. time! Gut wrenching gripes, and well, to be blunt, a raw and sore sphincter!

So, back to the doctor, trial another medication, and back to occupying the loo 24/7 within five days that time.

I stopped that medication as soon as I realised what the outcome was, but the symptoms didn't stop until three days later.

I waited a few weeks before trialing a third medication. Same deal as the second. Stopped.

I got a prescription for the fourth medication but didn't fill it until 10 days ago when the painful stomach cramps from months ago returned. The endoscopy had shown some changes in the stomach lining and my doctor had mentioned the possibility of erosion and another ulcer, so this motivated me to fill the script for the fourth medication.

Big Mistake. HUGE!

Basically within 36 hours I was causing major delays in the morning wee express lane and if anyone asked where I was day or night, everyone else called out, 'She's in the bathroom!'

Let me tell you, we live on a corner block - and my family is loud - so I'm pretty sure my neighbours now think I'm either bulimic or have a terrible cocaine habit!

I have not been a very pleasant person to be around - well, really who can blame me, my arse has been on fire all week.

Voting on Saturday was tricky with the Grumpy Old Man scanning the school hall and pointing out toilets and exits like veteran flight attendant. I was forced to vote above the line (ye gads!) in the Senate because my bowels kept screaming, '110 boxes is TOO MANY BOXES to number, we can't wait that long!'

I did feel better yesterday, but then today the tablets made their final encore impact (I hope!). In any case, I felt it safest to cancel this week's meet with my supervisor because I hadn't managed to get any work done (the lighting in the loo is appalling, and forget dictation while involuntarily bearing down).

Anyway, it's healing time now, and boys and girls, what do we know about healing?

Healing 101: When an irritated area of skin begins to heal, it is a microcosm of infection fighting activity which often causes an itching sensation.

Au réservoir, I'm off to Pichi Richi Pass - see you on the other side...

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Bryn is going to write a book...

I couldn't be more proud.

Bryn told us last night at the dinner table that he and his friend have decided to write a novel - with pictures - called 'The Extreme Sleepover', about two boys who have a sleep over and encounter zombies.

Apparently, he's thought it all through, the novel will have 24 chapters and each chapter will be about two pages long. The other child will be doing the illustrations, while Bryn will focus on the writing, with input from the other child as well, of course.

They want this 'properly' published - so at a printer - and they want their teacher to read it to the class, so it has to be done in the next three months.

And then came the caveat...

Of course, in order to write this book, they need to research 'sleep overs', by actually having a sleep over.

U-huh...

He's such a clever kid, don't you think. His manipulation is wholly based on preening mine and his father's ego by pursuing our joint passions of writing. He is well aware that I wrote books in from the age of five, which were 'published' and catalogued in the school library, and so he is following in my footsteps. Of course he knows writers need to research, and I have told him many times, 'Write what you know!' so he is putting all that knowledge into practice to manipulate us into letting him have, or attend a sleepover with his friend - where possibly no sleep will actually be had.

Last night, while searching for a photo of my dad in some of his old things, I found a copy of one of my books - it still has the school's library stamp on the back! Inside the book my spelling is atrocious, but I have the gist of a story requiring a crisis and a resolution, which I think is pretty good for a five year old!

Yes, when I was little my name was Claudette - it's a long story.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Gratuitous second post today - Studying, such a high!

It's very quiet in the office today.

Quiet - I don't get a lot of that in my life these days, except now, because of studying.

Oh, how I love it - studying that is.

I come in here two or three times a week and get to sit completely undisturbed. I'm getting so much work done that my supervisor is beside herself - and I feel like I'm not even doing enough because of the amount of time I spend online.

I get to buy books and read about fascinating stuff (to me), and not only it is fun and stimulating, it's going to get me a great job doing and teaching about one of my passions - writing.

I guess I'm saying I just don't understand people who shy away from study. Not those who aren't interested in it at all - horses for courses - but those who wistfully sigh when you tell them what you are doing. The one's who tell you they really wish they could study, but they think they're too dumb.

There is no such thing!

Too dumb to study? It just isn't true!

I have the concentration span of a nat, and while my long term memory is pretty good - I can remember all sorts of useless stuff from thirty years ago - my short term memory is pretty much non-existent. I forget what day it is, or what I had for breakfast (now that I'm eating breakfast). I cannot tell you the name of the article I was reading just five minutes ago...

And yet, they let me enter this PhD, and they gave me a desk to work at, surrounded by people who are far smarter than I am (you see, everyone believes everyone else is smarter than them in this arena, it is part of what keeps us striving to learn - so we don't look stupid when we open our mouth and blurt out stuff).

I love that sensation that comes with starting out on a learning trek. At first it's all gobbled-gook. You don't understand much (I cling to all the tiny words I know, and, a, the), and then, very slowly, with practice and often a second or third source of information, you start to emerge from the blurry existence of not knowing to understanding a little bit, and then a little bit more, and then you understand how much you still don't understand (which is a scary moment, but you persist because the knew knowledge or skill makes your feel good about yourself). I find it addictive.

I am not the best knitter or crocheter, and I'm far from being a competent painter, but I have really enjoyed learning these skills. I still cringe at my own writing ability, but then people tell me a story I wrote almost made them cry, or that they are excited by my fresh style, and I feel striving is worth it.

I cannot imagine sitting on the sidelines watching other people learn and not even trying for fear of failure. I really, deeply feel pity for people who live under such a shadow of fear.

Step out into the sunlight!

It is okay not to be the best, it really is! You don't have to have the highest mark in your class. You don't have to be the most admired. Let go of your ego. Just do it! Take a chance. Step out of your comfort zone, your safe place. It is strangling you; every day you stay there, you die a little on the inside.

Step out into the sunshine and let yourself live and learn, and sometimes fail - if that happens - because failing is also learning and growing.

Do it!

First Day of Spring - Father's Day - recap...

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The heady aroma of Jasmine fills the air and so begins the first of my favour seasons - Spring!

So, we survived the winter and in all appropriateness we took the home airconditioner for a test drive yesterday afternoon. It is fabulous - we've never lived in such cool air luxury!

We had a lovely Father's Day yesterday. A relaxing morning spent watching one of the Grumpy Old Man's new dvds - Pyramids of Mars (a fourth Doctor story). I didn't remember that Tom Baker was such a cranky old Doctor - he and the Grumpy Old Man have more in common that the long face and curly hair. I married the fourth Doctor!

We pottered around, doing a general tidy (oh the joys of domestic life do not stop, not even for Father's Day). Then we headed over to my parents to give Grandad Lester his father's day present and to check out their deck-in-progress.

The weather was so lovely, it felt like summer holidays already!

The kids had a jump on the giant pillow, and then we went home.

The Grumpy Old Man went over to his mother's to do a couple of things for her - and be lectured on how he never buys himself new clothes and how she is going to take him clothes shopping for his Father's Day present (present or torture? he loathes clothes shopping which is why all my nagging about his need for new clothes has not made any kind of impression either).

I cooked dinner - hey, it was Father's Day - and later we had some apple pie and cream in front of some terrible sci-fi from the 60s or 70s featuring Sean Connery - only I couldn't bare it for long and went to bed after about 30 minutes.

And that was our first day of Spring! We are living the good life now!

Teenagers and the failing parent...