Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'Hectic but fun!'

This is how I have described my life recently on a couple of occasions.

On reflection though, I do kind of wonder when the fun kicks in.

I went out with a bunch of friends from Uni yesterday. We went to a friend's house to stuff show bags for orientation week next week. I laughed so much my sides hurt and I was completely exhausted - in a good way - when I got home. I slept like a baby!

This morning I woke up feeling very tired though, very much like, 'Well, it's back to reality now.' I said to the Grumpy Old Man that I feel like I'm working and working but not getting a lot of reward for all the work.

I didn't get the job I interviewed for last week. It was very disappointing. I know I can do that job, I've done the job before, I just wasn't able to convince the employers that I was the right person to hire. I was left wondering if I will ever be able to convince anyone of that. Rejection sucks. Being broke sucks even more!

Today we received the news that the owner of our property is looking to sell. Yep, that's right 11 months on from last years new about the owner wanting to sell and we're right back in the same situation, and it really stings. We love this house so much, we'd happily buy it, unfortunately we don't have the means to do that.

We're both still unemployed, so it's a bit scary to be looking for a house again, especially as this time we will only have been in the previous property for less than a year (this does not make us look like stable clients, even though it is not our choice).

Of course, there is the possibility that the new owners will be investors and will want to keep us on as clients - that just has never happened before.

The thought of packing this house up and moving again, borrowing the money for removalists from MIL, again, trying to make the house a home, again, just leaves me cold. I feel physically ill at the prospect. The Grumpy Old Man wasn't sure whether to scream or assume the foetal position on hearing the news.

Hectic is right. Between kids at two schools, me at Uni, caring for MIL, Braille lessons, committee duties, and the general every day running of a household of six, we never seem to get 'a day off'. That's not a problem, that's life. However, the stress of never having enough income to cover everyday financial demands, not being able to secure any kind of regular employment to boost income, and this constantly being moved on from pillar to post malarky is in no way fun.

Still, we manage to laugh, every day, one way or another. Laughing costs nothing. I need to start sharing more of the fun we have on this blog, just to remind myself that we do have it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting there...

Hello there, spot anything new? No, you wouldn't, of course, but I'm posting this from my brand spanking new Macbook Air 13". It is very snazzy and thanks to accessibility mods, also very accessible. Vision Australia did load a zoom program onto the laptop, but I'm not convinced it is for me - the accessibility on apple allows for a screen-in-screen zoom window, rather than zooming in on the entire screen (which can be very disorienting).

As well as this, I have received a new iPad mini retina to replace my old iPad 2, and much to the boys' delight I also received an Apple TV. Yes, I absolutely do need Apple TV for my studies!

So, now all the technologies are set, I just need a desk to work at on Burwood campus. Last I heard the people in charge thought they 'may' have a room for me in February. That wasn't exactly a promise. I find things move slowly at Uni though - which I find extremely frustrating because I'm not a very patient person.

I applied for a job last friday, had an interview on Wednesday and was told then applicants would hear their outcome by close of business today, Friday. I haven't heard anything. This is a job I have done before, but not in a number of years, so I wasn't particularly confident about getting the job, but still if I wasn't successful I would hope they would at least email me to let know. Oh well.

I'm in two minds about working. We desperately need the money, but at the same time, even a part time job means less time to do PhD work and I'm already feeling the pressure on that score. So, I won't be horribly disappointed if I don't get the job - though the extra income would make a massive difference to us.

Ari is settling into school very well. He just loves it. He is pretty much wiped out every afternoon though, which plays out as hyperactivity. I do hope he settles down soon. Next week is the last week of 1.40pm finishes.

I am always thinking, 'Then we can really just get on with life.' I feel like I've been thinking that for months now. To be honest, I think it is time I booked in to see my psych again. Some months ago I let anti-anxiety meds slip out of the routine and haven't taken them in ages, but my anxiety is as bad as it was this time last year.

I'm having all the same physical symptoms as a year ago - heart palpitations, restless legs and arms, that endless roller coaster ride feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is not good. Luckily, she emailed me a couple of weeks ago to catch up on things with Erik (who is going very well), and at the time I said I might book in to see her for myself, and she was very welcoming. Now I just need to find some time for an appointment.

About two weeks ago the Grumpy Old Man and I celebrated a whole year of having and driving the green beast around! Actually, on the day, we were on our way to Dean's funeral and another car backed into us at the petrol station. Insurance covered the cost of repairs, and as a bonus, the part that had to be replaced had damage from the previous own, and now we have a whole new in tact part.

Tomorrow we're driving to pick a desk up from a friend in a neighbouring suburb. We drive so much, it's not funny. Just last weekend, on Sunday, we drove to Eltham to pick Erik up from a birthday sleep over, then down to fern tree gully so I could attend a blanket making group, then down to box hill south for another errand - that kind of running around is no unusual for us. In 12 months we've driven 16 000 km (which is less than the average, apparently, but still quite a bit for us).

Um, gosh, my brain is all over the place at the moment...

So, anyway, I'll be rearranging the study yet again this weekend. I'm endlessly trying to find the best way to store and recharge all the devices. I would love to find the perfect solution...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When plain language isn't enough...

Something I always do!

So, picture this. A couple driving between errands on a beautiful late summer's day. All four kids are at school, so it's nice and quiet in the car, just the mellow tunes on the radio playing.

Husband: Okay, so you want me to drop you off at Uni next?

Wife: Yes.

Husband: Which campus, Greenwood or Burwood?

Wife: Burwood. Oh did I tell what Mr14 said yesterday... *launches into tale about Mr14's antics*

Husband at conclusion of tale: So, which is it, Greenwood or Burwood?

Wife: I said Burwood, already.

Husband: No, you didn't, you said *feigns weak voice* 'Burwood...'

Wife: Yes, Burwood, exactly, I said 'Burwood!'

Husband: No, you didn't say, 'Burwood!' - if you had said 'Burwood!' I would have known it was Burwood, but you said *weak voice* 'Burwood...' and there would be a thousand men lined up behind me agreeing that unless you say, 'Burwood!', the answer just isn't clear. It's like, 'Well, she said "Burwood", but does she really mean Burwood?' You have to be more declarative.

Men are truly weird.

Here's a tip - if you are a man, LISTEN. TO. THE. WORDS! Is that declarative enough for you? The words hold all the meaning they need. It's not how we say it, it is what we say!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Grief and Respect...

Grief is an incredibly difficult phenomenon to navigate.

I have been wrestling with blogging this week because a terrible thing has happened and it has struck me deeply but out of respect for those directly involved I have not known whether or not I could even talk about it.

A friend's child died a few days ago in a tragic accident. This is not a close friend, though I consider her a good friend. I haven't known her very long, but in the time I have known her, she has been a wonderful presence in my life and in the life of my family. She is, by nature, a very encouraging and positive person, a very inclusive person, and so, even though I have only known her a short while, she has made a deep and lasting impression on me and my family.

As a mother of similar aged child, I can barely begin to fathom the utter devastation of losing a child so suddenly, so unexpectedly.

The Grumpy Old Man and I were shocked to tears when we heard the news and our hearts have been heavy every since. We only met and spoke with the child once or twice, and yet we feel such grief because it hurts us to know this lovely friend and her family are in so much pain right now.

Grief is difficult to navigate. It is incredibly personal and often very complex. It is hard to know how best to respect other people's grief because everyone experiences it vastly differently. I have great difficulty with prescriptive approaches to dealing with grief. Who has the right to grieve? Who should talk about their grief, and who should not talk about their grief. Obviously, the people directly affected by the loss should be protected and honoured, but how is that best achieved? Some say it is selfish to openly grieve if you are not directly affected, others say openly grieving can console those directly affected because it shows them their grief is shared.

It is hard to know what to do. Especially in this day and age of technology where emotional outpouring is easily shared and yet lacking in the essential intimacy of person to person communications. Political correctness can at once protect the vulnerable and create hurt in highly emotionally charged situations which are mediated by the impersonal nature of the internet.

Grief is an emotion and as such it is raw and messy and difficult to manage. I have felt, this week, that attempting to manage my own grief and seeing others attempt to manage the grief of people they do not know well has often only pushed grief into a corner where it has lashed out because of its wild nature.

And so, I guess, I feel expressing my grief for my friend who has always been so lovely and so encouraging and such a positive force to be around is the only way I see can to process and honour the great heartbreak that the events of this week have brought to so many people, both those who have lost the company of this much loved child in their lives and those whose hearts break for the family that they should have to endure such sorrow.

For Dean.

Little Snowdrop - Author Unknown

The world may never notice
If a Snowdrop doesn't bloom,
Or even pause to wonder
If the petals fall too soon.

But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small way
For all eternity.

The little one we longed for
Was swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted
Is a light that still shines on.

And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do.
For every beating of our hearts
Says that we love you.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

I love my Apple products, but...

I have everything Apple. Well, I will have by the end of this month, anyway.

I will have an iMac, a Macbook Air, an iPad mini Retina, an iPhone, and an AppleTV. My kids have between them a full range of iPods and iPads.

We're well and truly a Mac household - all except the Grumpy Old Man who still loves his PC desktop.

Apple products are very easy to use, very streamline and convenient. Each one of the kids and I have our own Apple IDs because we just love Apple so much...


I am keenly aware that Apple doesn't like to play with the other kids.

Oh, yeah, they have made a lot of their software compatible with non-Mac software. I run Microsoft for Mac on my iMac, for example.

But Apple doesn't share apps with other platforms.

And now it doesn't share some of it's hardware either.

You see, I'm trying to set up a charging station for our 15 devices which need recharging each night. As you can imagine, it's quite a difficult task. However, I had devised a plan. The plan was to use my old charging cabinet - which has slowly become a mess over the past year...

With a couple of pot lid stands from Ikea...

Some three metre long recharge cables from ebay, and some of these doo hickeys to secure said cables to the inside of the cabinet, so they down slip down behind the devices, never to be found again...


I have to admit, I was right pleased with myself for coming up with this solution. I ordered the extra long cables and the drop cable thingies. I even got s-dad to cut out a long strip at the back of the cabinet so I could move shelves up and down at will and the cables would always be able to thread out to the power board behind the cabinet.

And then Apple decided that with the newest software update they'd make it so devices could detect whether or not recharge cables were 'authorised' apple products or not. The 3m long lightning cables I have received from Ebay are not authorised. They do recharge my iPhone, but do not recharge Ari's iPad mini. I am not impressed, Apple.

Here's why... The 'authorised' 3m long charge cables cost 20x as much as the unauthorised cables, and there is no way I want to buy multiple $40 charge cables! That is high way robbery!

Not Happy, Mac!

Saturday, February 01, 2014


MUSICa gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music.
"each time the key changes, there is a gradual crescendo"
a progressive increase in intensity.
"a crescendo of misery"
adverb & adjective

with a gradual increase in loudness.
"a short crescendo kettledrum roll"
increase in loudness or intensity.
"the reluctant cheers began to crescendo"
I crashed out at 9.30pm last night - I was simply wiped out after this last week.

I woke up at 3am (when the Grumpy Old Man came to bed, I suspect he dozed off on the couch and that's when he woke up as well) and couldn't get back to sleep.

We've come to the end of yet another HUGE week!

Definitely a crescendo week!

After several weeks of school holidays, the time finally came to get back into the world of uniforms, timetables and homework.

This year Lukas moved up to high school and Ari started primary school. I think I must have been carrying a fair bit of emotion surrounding these events. More than I knew, anyway, because I've felt quite overwhelmed by it all - I've been feeling quite emotional, all bubbling under the surface.

These two photos illustrate a bit of what was going on here... We took the boys to do some school supplies shopping and on the way out of the centre, Ari wanted a ride. Bryn and Lukas decided to join him, because it's fun to ride on rides...

But then they felt a bit embarrassed because, well, they were a bit big for the ride. Still, they didn't want to get off the ride... They just didn't want to be seen on it...

We're all a bit like that at the moment, in the gap between the last stage and the next stage...

Erik and Luey got new hair cuts...

Erik shaved for the first time on Monday...

Ari got a new lunchbox for school...

Erik and Lukas left for the first day of high school 2014, together on Wednesday. It is hard for me to believe they are both at high school now.

This was 2007... How does a mother not get emotional seeing these two photos???

Erik grew into his blazer this year.

I finally figured out how to contact school books [almost] perfectly! (No, you don't get to see the two books I stuffed up completely after taking this photo!)

Bryn moved up from Junior school, way up to middle school, on Thursday! By the way, see that shirt - that's the shirt Erik is wearing in the photo from 2007 (more tears from me).

We had a 'last date before school' with Ari. The Grumpy Old Man went all soft and misty eyed during that lunch - he won't admit it, but he did!

And then, finally, after many YEARS of counting down and anticipating this day, Ari started prep! I took LOTS of photos! Erik was pretty much sick to death of posing for photos by this point, so just ignore that surly teen look on his face...

The primary school boys together!

Ari, the superstar!

Ari got some lovely bag bling for his first day - see the TARDIS? Every prep aged Doctor needs a TARDIS!

Walking into school with his big brother!

Playing with the other new preppies while waiting to go into class.

His name on his classroom window.

Showing one of his teachers his new iPad mini.

At the end of the day we discovered some work posted in his class window - and a picture of Ari with his buddies.

At home we discovered photos on his iPad from his first day. He's quite a good photographer (he gets that from me, of course). Here are both his teachers together; Mrs Robins on the left, and Ms Pickburn on the right.

Not forgetting our old 'new school' kid... Lukas has a very enjoyable, but exhausting first few days at high school. He has already made a friend and is thrilled with his music and gaming design classes!

Creating a colour coded time table for each of the high school boys was comparatively easy this year because they no longer have a three week roster. They will both have the same time table week after week.

So, here I sit, it is still before dawn. Ari has woken up but the rest of the house is sleeping. I feel quite rung out - besides all the school start preparations, I also had a committee meeting on Thursday and a Supervisor meeting yesterday. Still and all, I definitely feel the need to get back intoI a routine, to get our lives running more efficiently again. I have written out a shopping list and unbeknownst to my poor family, I have big plans to get this house cleaned and sorted today. There is another busy week coming up.

On Monday I have an appointment at the Eye and Ear clinic to find out of we can figure out what is going on with my sight.

On Tuesday I have a braille lesson in Kensington.

On Friday I'm going with a bunch of friend to meet a brand new, very sweet, little person with a gorgeous name who we've all be admiring online for almost a month now - the torture!

I have just under three weeks to write the last three stories for my colloquium and edit and order the other 17 stories. I need to meet up with a local academic to learn about the research theory I'll be apply to my research.

I'm now looking at attending the Australian Association of Writing Programs Conference which is being held in New Zealand at the end of 2014. So, I have to write and submit a proposal for that as well in the next couple of weeks so I'm ready when they ask for submissions.

I have also started to think about the possibility of going to Iceland at the end of the year, or early next year to do research. I mentioned this to my supervisor yesterday and she thinks it would be a great thing for me to do. I've just got to see if I can make it work financially with the Deakin research grant.

In one sense I'm very happy this last week is over. I think it's been a big hurdle to jump on my calendar, and I've navigated it well - even though it has left me all wrung out. I'm now ready to move on to the next stage.

Good Job!