*posted today, because we will be away NYE staying with family*

Another year passes into history…  

As 2009 leaves us, it’s time to start thinking ahead to what we want to manifest into our lives in the coming year as well as take one last look at the goings on of this year. It’s been a hard year, but not nearly as hard as 2008 was honestly ( my mom died that year, and then I came all too close to losing my oldest son as well). I can’t say that I’ll be sorry to see this year GONE all the same.  

I have done all the looking back during these holidays, and am ready to look ahead now. I will not call these wishes for the coming year resolutions, because new years’ resolutions are made to be broken. But they are desires for myself & my family for the new year J (in bullet form, as I’m feeling lazy!) and posting them here is my way of making myself accountable!

* I am going to get back into menu planning so that we can eat healthier. We don’t 
Eat horribly now, but DH & I could both lose a bit of weight for our health.

* I WILL start using our treadmill more regularly! I will be honest, I have not touched it since returning home from my vacation in August L

* I will get more serious with the budget so that we can save towards a deposit on a home of our own. To do so, I plan to cut out frivolous spending as much as possible. The kids will get birthday gifts, school supplies/curriculum, and clothing replaced as needed but not without planning it into the budget.

* I want to be debt free by the end of 2010, with the exception of a car payment. We are going to have to get a used 7 seater (thinking Honda Odyssey) as we are going to be adding another family member to the house if all goes well (NO, I am not pregnant! My 16yo wants to move here with us for a year or so J ) Our debt right now is one loan from MIL (given during the crisis this time last year), and one credit card (closed account), and DH’s van payment. Don’t think we’ll be able to pay the van off that quickly, so I think it will be an exception.

* I want my 16yo to be here with us, and am willing to save like a mad woman to make it happen.

* I want to feel more spiritually connected and active. 

* I want to completely finish decluttering my house. Clutter and chaos in my home stresses me out and I hate it! We aren’t drowning in clutter… but there are a few areas for improvement.

* I am going to revisit the idea of returning to school, and evaluate if it’s something that I’m ready to do just yet. A job as an RN would go a long way towards buying our own home and saving, but that’d be at least 2.5yrs away. And the kids might have to return to traditional school.. Not sure I’m ready to go there.

* I want to work out better coping mechanisms for dealing with Frodo’s behavioural issues. He seems to have trouble hearing/understanding things said to him, as well as has issues with hyperactivity/impulse control… my lack of ability to cope with these has come really close to making me want him away from me as much as possible lately… and I don’t like that at all L

* And, as much as I hate to say it, I want to move out of this rather awful neighborhood L It’s just not a very nice place (we do like the house though), and if the Teen comes to live, there is no way in Hades I will have him going to the school in this suburb. There are very few with worse reputations or graduation rates. So, I hope to manifest a great house in a nice suburb with decent schools nearby in 2010!

So, in the coming year you'll see more posts on decluttering, getting healthy, frugal finances and saving,  and I'll share updates on all of the above as well, as the year goes on.  And of course, the everyday, homeschooling and life with kids stuff isn't going anywere :)

I hope that you're all ringing in the new year with those you love best!  

Ok, so my last post was just a bit BLAH.. sorry bout that.   The holidays have gone and I survived them well enough.   Christmas eve my in laws came out, and brought DH's brother and his husband (who had just arrived in from New Zealand) with them.  We had seafood and nibbles and wine ;)  Which definitely helped make the season merrier lol.   It was great to have the brothers over, and they spoil their nephews wonderfully (not with junk thank goodness!)  All boys recieved a season of a cartoon series.. we have smurfs, TNMT (original toons), and GI Joe.  The latter I'm not a huge fan of (I'd imagine most women never got into it as girls ;) , but if the boys enjoy it and they don't go all warrior on me, I'll live.   Here's a small sample of our traditional Christmas eve dinner.. prawns, oysters (for the parents), smoked salmon and lobster!  and that's before mum made her stupendous 'steamboat' with satay sauce, coconut milk and all sorts of seafood.  My terribly awesome cheese and nibbles platter was decimated before the camera was found lol.

After they left, hubby & I sat and talked for a while ...and polished off the bottle of wine ;) and then started to 'play santa'.  That's a bit of a misnomer for us, as we have really scaled Santa back to basically being the dude that brings a stocking full of cool bits & peices and candy.  All the good stuff is from US dammit... I figure why should I be the one that has to say no to things all year, and has to handle all the ups & downs of the year... and yet Santa gets to take credit for all the loot? LOL    I don't think it makes the boys miss out on anything, as each of them got  something they asked for from Santa in their stockings :)    By midnight all gifts were assembled, and the wrapped goodies were under the tree and hubby & I collapsed into bed shortly  before 1am. (here's the before, and after) 


At the UNGODLY (and UNGOddessly too, for that matter!) hour of 5am Sam came excitedly in "It's christmas!!!!!!"   lol    We had a lovely morning doing pressies and playing and such.  The kids were thrilled and Frodo was all about the Wii that we'd gotten as the family gift.  (he was so sure Santa would bring a Wii, that he looked at the gifts under the tree, then stepped into the lounge to see if there was one.  He saw the 2 gift bags that I'd sat on TOP of the 6ft entertainment unit, climbed up and got them... then came in and complained that he got wii controllers but NO CONSOLE!  LOL)

   (note evidence of console there LOL)

We thought he might get sulky about leaving the Wii to go over to DH's cousins for the big family DO, but he was quite excited to go!  There was, after all, going to be swimming!   (here's Merry & his dad in the pool :)


We planned to hang out for a couple of hours tops, since the boys were up at stupid o'clock... but we ended up being there from just before lunch till 5pm  LOL.  A great day was had by all, and way too much decadent food was eaten by all as well ;)  Mmm... pavlova! 


But despite the disaster that awaited us, we were very glad to get home.   I read much online about the awful holiday gifts that some MIL's give to DIL's and had to share what mine gave me.  She is the most awesome mother in law ever, without a doubt!  If you remember a few weeks ago we had a whole 24hour period where she & her sister absconded with our boys?  Well THIS was the real reason!  I couldn't get a pic without a glare (she spent big on the photos, so I'm not complaining about the lack of non glare glass!)   It's the most gorgeous b&w photo of the three hobbits (complete with bare feet).  How on earth they managed to get them all happy and cooperating I have NO idea,  but I guess that is why one pays the big bucks for the pro's! 

    Hope you all had wonderful holidays friends, and bring on 2010 because it looks to be awesome!  (post coming on that ..)

I've been having a bit of trouble getting into 'the spirit' this year.  I've tried, I really have... but I'm falling short.   I have a gorgeous tree, and have done some decorating.  The pressies are all wrapped (with care?  well they don't LOOK like I cared, but they are wrapped.  Gimped wrapping skill is genetic, my mother passed it to me)  The Christmas eve dinner is planned (seafood, I'm making a very posh pavlova, and nibbles galore) and the in law's are coming for the evening.  I've shopped for pressies and stockings and have it all ready to go.  But I just can't really seem to get excited.

I think that the proverbial ghost of christmas past is looming.  Just one year ago I was not sitting here with my family, preparing for the holidays.  Just one year ago, I was sitting in a room in Surgical Intensive Care, half way around the world.  I was staring at my first born, laying in a bed with a tracheotomy, and central line IV's  and scars all over his body.

It's pretty likely that at this exact moment a year ago, I would have been trying to comb his long hair in hopes that he could keep some of it when he woke up.. or something equally mom like.   I sat by his bed and read to him... I was reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings at the time.  I watched Comedy central with him.  I did anything I possibly could to keep him tied to the here & now.. hoping that his mind was just giving his body time to heal from the worst before it woke up and he was hit with a pain that will never fully leave him.    His girlfriend died in the crash that nearly took his life as well.   

It was this very day, that his father & his younger brother had to leave to go back home.  The military would wait no longer unfortunately.  I don't think I have ever felt more alone than I did the evening of the 23rd sitting there. waiting.   A beautiful 'online friend' (in quotes because the online part makes no difference to me) sent a few small decorations for his room, so I put out a few candles (that obviously couldn't be lit, but still smelled of the season) and garlands on the whiteboard at the end of his bed.  Every day the nurses dutifully updated it with the date and who his carers were for the day, so that just in case he woke up, he would at least see that.  And now he would see that someone thought enough to bring  him a small peice of christmas.  

Things got much worse before they got better... On christmas he seemed to follow me with his eyes, and there seemed to be recognition.  Then a fever set in, and peritonitis.  A day or two later,  there was surgery which saved his life... again.    When I left to come home he was just waking ... and when he finally did it happened in leaps and bounds, thank Goddess.  

A year has passed, and I have seen him again healthy and whole, along with the Teen.  But for some reason it hasn't made this holiday season any easier to celebrate.  I know that he is well, and ALIVE, and that fills my heart...almost.  But I think there will always be a shadow of what was over the holiday season.   Maybe next year I can fly him here, and having the holidays together will banish the ghost... who knows?  

For now though, I have hung butterflies on my tree in memory of Susan, whom he loved dearly. And I try to put on the happy holiday face for the sake of the little ones who deserve a joyous holiday.  

For Susan, who loved the holidays...

and for Jon who loved Susan.


Well, almost anyway ;)  It's tomorrow here so I figured I'd send out solstice wishes tonight as I'll probably be busy cooking & baking with the boys tomorrow.  

Our plans are pretty laid back, hubby has to work as usual, but he's almost always home by about 13opm.  After he gets home we'll give the boys a gift bag with a few littles presents inside, which they will immediately want to use.  Mainly because one of the presents is a mask & snorkel set for each of them (they asked for them so they'll be thrilled), the little guy can't really handle the mechanics of those yet, so he is getting a cool whale that swims through the water instead.  They will each get a book and a couple of smaller things as well.  

In the later afternoon (translation: after we can drag the boys out of the pool!) we'll be having a bbq dinner.  It's going to be pretty simple.. steak sandwiches, corn & zucchini medly and something fruity with custard for dessert.    All in all, a fitting way to spend the longest day of the year I think!

I wanted to share a pic that I took the other night too.  We took the boys out for our annual Christmas lights drive (challenging with Frodo's carsick issue.. but he made it!) .    It just happens that we had 4 houses that entered the council's lights competition right in the next suburub!  They put on very good shows, I must say.  One even had a sign saying (in xmas lights of course) 'tune into 95.9fm'  as they were broadcasting their own brand of very australian like Christmas tunes to go with their display!  It was great.   Here's a photo of my personal favourite

 You'll have to click to enlarge it to see just how awesome it is.  Pardon the two people standing in front of the garage door lol, I didn't see them there when I took the pic as it was dark.  The pics with the flash off were much more vibrant, but also much more blurry!   

Happy Solstice (whether it be winter or summer) to those of you that celebrate it!  


I had my post underway here earlier and the kids informed me that there was a knock on the door. Down the hall I went and I could see the bright orange shirt of the parcel delivery guy.. which is always exciting, don't ya think??   I signed for the parcel and brought it inside, and you would think it was already Christmas morning! lol   See, 11 days ago Lakeshore Learning  had a pretty decent sale.  It was spend $1oo and get $25 off.  Oh I can spend that easy lol.

I'd waffled about ordering, and even checked their Aussie distributor, but the Aus prices were so ridiculously high (especially considering our exchange rate is awesome!) that I finally just decided to mentally apply that 25bucks to cover part of the postage to make myself feel better.  I went with the 'cheap' shipping (using that term loosely lol) because the expensive/fast shipping was almost as much as the order was!  It was supposed to take about 4 weeks, so I was shocked to have it in hand on the 11th day.  Here's what we got:  

A couple of 'Draw and write' journals, a bucket of fraction circles, a personal size dry erase board with lines, a dry erase cursive book, a set of rubber 'base 10' block stamps, a set of geobards, and a massive set of sandpaper 'sight words'.  

 Frodo & Sam were beside themselves... so much for school being basically over for the year LOL.  Immediately they had to make circles & patterns with the fraction wedges, then the geobards had to be test driven.  That was funny because what did Frodo do?  He used the rubber bands to make '10 blocks' or 'unit's ala Math U see LOL.   

Sam has been writing up a storm on his dry erase board and loving it.   I forgot to grab a pic of the large magnetic learning clock, which has taken up residence on our fridge :)  Frodo has been checking the digital clock, then going and positioning the hands on the learning clock, and writing the time at the bottom..all day.  It's dry erase as well, which is awesome, and it seems very sturdy.. so hopefully Merry will not be able to tear the hands off it like he did the old one we had!

I can't wait to start doing a bit of journaling with them in their 'draw & write' journals.  I think Frodo is at a good age to get him into writing about things, instead of just 'functional' writing.  He's itching to get ahold of them.  

I'm very happy with our purchases, and will definitely be back in the future... my wish list is substantial hehehe.  

The past week has brought a lot of things ... gastro bugs, jackhammer drama, and  boys that just don't seem to listen.  But on the up side there was some of this... because the boys love their math.   And I love the spiffy new boxes to keep their blocks in some state of tidyness.  

It had been driving me nuts for quite a while!  And the boxes have cool grooves in them so tht the kids can totally ignore actually building the problems in them!  Wow what an innovation eh? lol  There hasn't been a huge amount of other 'schoolwork' done though, as there has been a bit of illness & drama in the house (as you may have read) and our school year is technically at an end.  We're still doing a bit of reading on the Romans though, and plan to briefly look at the ancient Chinese and Aztecs as well, over our 'break'.   We may also do the boys '5 Senses' lapbook for something to keep them busy,  after the holidays anyway... they're keeping themselves busy by being worked into a frenzy about what Santa and the parents (who of course get credit for all the rockin cool stuff.. santa gets to do stockings and a few bits and bobs) might get them!

There was also a bit of this... we were looking for a particular park, didn't find it, but did find another little one.  We stopped for a picnic lunch of something yummy from the bakery and a play.  Nice little park, even if some local teens seem to have felt the need to forcibly remove the gate to the fence.  I suppose you'll have a few bad kids no matter how posh the neighborhood, eh?

Dad took the intrepid explorers off down a walking path for a bit.. doesn't Frodo have the funniest determined look on his face? lol (you might have to enlarge it to see)  Merry was clearly not ready to stop his exploration of the local scenery, and was quite adamant about not coming back.  Sam, on the other hand, had already raced back to where I was.  That boy has got boundless energy... wish I could figure out how to bottle it!

And off down the hill, was a view of the new lake.  The park we discovered is in the nearby 'master planned' community... it's BRIMMING with neighborhood parks!  We used to live in the original part of the suburb, but they have expanded greatly.  It's a 'lakes' suburb, so of course this side had to have it's own lake.  It's quite pretty, and I hope they leave it a little more natural than the other one (not that I dislike the other lake, with it's nice walking paths all the way around!) 

The Teen (my 16yo, who is currently in the states) is really wanting to come live down here for a year or so and finish up school here.   Partly for the experience, and partly to spend some time with his dear ole mum (at least I'd like to hope that is part of it LOL) and partly because chicks love an accent lol.   I'm going to check the local school there that Frodo went to part of K in, and if they have upgraded to having a high school we might contemplate finding a house to rent there again.  Oh how I'd LOVE to have all those parks within walking distance again!

Strider is currently on his way home from picking up a part for his work vehicle, and has informed me I am not allowed to look at the bank account site lol  He has  apparently been doing a little pressie buying for me.  I sincerely hope he had the good sense to pull cash out, as I am quite nosy (I seem to remember one christmas where my brother and I slit the tape to most of our presents when the parents weren't home LOL) and WILL work it out if I can see where he shopped :D   And being the greedy wench I am.. I txt'd him back that since he was there, sushi for luch would go over very very well  hehehe.   So, I think I'll go uncover the table from the current arty farty projects the kids have going, so that we can have a bite to eat shortly!

I'm feeling all full of Righteous Fury at the moment and just had to share with someone, so you lucky people win ;) This morning we took Merry to kindy, as we always do on Tuesday, and on the way home we decided to pop into Woolies to grab some milk & bread. As we walked up to the store THIS is what we were confronted with:  

 The photo was actually taken after the fact, so you’ll just have to imagine those guys over on the left standing inside the orange mesh operating JACKHAMMERS!! The pic also doesn’t give the best idea of the space so let me share…this is a smallish courtyard that is bordered on 3 sides by shops, a chemist, a newsagent and Woolworths. The only shop that actually has walls/doors is Woolworths, the other, smaller shops have got open fronts that they roll down metal shutters to close up at night. So they are wide open to the noise outside. The entrances of all 3 of these shops (plus the bakery, which is just up 3stairs to the left of the pic) are within about 3.5metres of this god awful noise & dust.  

Anyway, on with the story. The boys and I cover our ears and RUN into Woolworths, me swearing under my breath the entire way. We get the items we were after, plus a pack of kinder surprise eggs for the kids ;) (mum’s the hero!) and go to the checkout. We stand there for a good 5minutes waiting , because the customer ahead of me can’t get her card to swipe correctly, and I chat with the cashier. She left work with a booming headache yesterday, and is sure she’s heading for a migraine today L I let her know I wasn’t impressed and that I’d be calling someone about it because *I* was already having ringing in the ears & dizzyness and that was just after 15minutes exposure to it! We finish the transaction, cover our ears, and RUN out to the car as quickly as we can. By the time I get into the car I have to sit & calm down for a bit, as my heart is just pounding… but it didn’t stop, so apparently it wasn’t just the short sprint. After I got home I looked up this.  Friggin Acoustic Trauma… FAIL.  

I got home and was fuming! I rang Strider to see exactly who I should call to have something done about it.. He suggests Workplace Health & Safety. First though, I ring Woolworths and speak to the very nice Store Trading Manager. I let him know that I was on the warpath because I came in to get milk and bread, and left with shrieking, ringing ears, dizzyness and my heart was pounding. ..and I was not happy. I also told him if he wanted to avoid compo claims, he’d get the cashiers some ear defenders right NOW, because at least one of his workers was already complaining of a severe headache! He kindly assured me he would get on that immediately upon hanging up, and gave me the number I requested for the centre management offices whom I called & left a msg for.

I then rang the State office of Workplace Health & Safety. These people put the fear of god, proverbially speaking, into companies. I gave the basics of the situation to the receptionist and she just said Oh dear, and put me straight on to speak with an inspector so I could file a formal complaint. The gentleman was incredibly sympathetic and helpful, and had a laugh with me when I said ‘I know you can’t really put this in the actually complaint, but someone’s ass needs to get nailed to the wall’ and he said OH, but I can if you want ;) LOL I informed him that I was going to go back up and take a photo of the area just in case the inspectors couldn’t be there straight away and after giving DH a quick ring to let him know what was up, headed back out to make the 3minute drive up there… but before I could do that…

Centre management, a very unhelpful company named QED Enterprises, rang back and I spoke with the gentleman that handles this centre. He pretty much blew me off stating there was no other time to do it, no way around the noise. When I suggested after hours he said that then local residents would complain, to which I replied yes, they may… but they won’t be deaf or suing you. I also pointed out that the nearest actual HOUSES were at least 200M away, and across a noisy busy road anyway! I told him I’d already spoke with WHS and that he could just take it up from them when they call about my formal complaint, and said goodbye. He did however, give me the name & number of the company doing the concrete work though.   SO thumbs down to you, HAW Construction!!!! 

That took about 5minutes and then we left.  I got there, parked fairly close but not too close, and walked up to find the workers standing to the side talking amongst themselves … or so I thought. I took a few pics and went back to the car and rang hubby again to say wow, shock horror they’ve stopped.  THEN a gentleman in a blue shirt emblazoned with ‘workplace health& safety’ walked up to the car right next to mine lol. NOW I knew why they’d stopped.. That was fast! I hopped out of the car and introduced myself and asked him exactly what was going to be done and he informed me that it already was! The company doing the work had been given a stop work notice and agreed to return the next evening at 530pm or so to complete the work, after most of the shops were closed. There were several ‘notices’ issues (which sounds an awful lot like a nicer way of saying FINES to me?). He had also gone into the business and spoken with the workers & owners to make sure nobody was suffering serious effects of the prolonged exposure and instructed them as to what to do if they did.   I cannot say enough good things about WHS at this point.. the Inspector was literally on site, and had shut the offence down within 30minutes of my call at the most!  So Kudo's to you gentlemen, you rock!!!!! 

 I thanked him very much, not only for myself.. But also for the employees who should not have to work in those conditions, and the other customers who should not have to cart infants and children through noise that is easily 130 decibels!  The only thing higher on that chart? A friggin airplane lifting off (I’d assume at close range) Normal city traffic, office machines etc are about 80db and each increase in 6db is not just an increase of 6.. It actually represents a DOUBLING of the amount of noise produced! So these workers had been subjected to noise that is basically at the level of torture, for hours and hours. And I stopped it. Why on EARTH the Woolies store manager didn’t DO SOMETHING about it, I do not know.. But I intend to find out!  

I can’t understand why the average citizen/shopper/patron of a store would not say HEY this is not ok! And take it further to protect not only their own safety, but that of others. They assume that the store management will handle it… or that someone else will do it. It’s always someone else’s job. People, nobody in this world cares as much about your safety as YOU DO. If you see something that is just not ok, DO SOMETHING!! It’s not that hard to find out who you should contact or to start talking to ANYONE that might help handle the problem. Talk walk off and do nothing but complain to yourself does nobody any good.  

Because I got angry at what I was forced to endure, and started making phone calls.. No less than FIFTY employees in the shops surrounding that work area are now spared having to possibly risk permanent hearing loss at worst, or at the very least, having to endure horrible headaches. Why can’t more people put themselves out that way, and take up an hour of their time on the phone, instead of waiting for someone else to do it?

P.S. It’s now almost 2hours after the incident… the ringing/shrieking in my ears is not so loud now, but it throbs and is painful. My heart has finally stopped pounding and the shakiness/ dizzyness has subsided I think (I’ve been sitting down having an iced coffee, jotting down this post). Frodo complains of a headache, and I have given him some nurofen in hopes that it helps. Sam seems unaffected, but then he is a VERY hearty little soul so I am not too surprised. If I still have pain or dizzyness in a couple of hours, I suppose I’ll go to the doc and see if there is anything they can do. And it will document the issues if I actually have any continuing drama because of this… however unlikely that may be).  

If you made it through this novel of a rant, I lift my iced coffee and offer you a toast for listening and hopefully being inspired to protect your community in whatever tiny ways you can!  And now, I go to lay in a nice quiet room for a bit in hopes that my poor head & ears can recover...
So instead of my usual serious, and deeply lost in thought posts (lol), I am posting utter fluff.   Last Thursday I decided on a whim to ring a local salon and get a haircut.  I was already going out to get my nails done, so I figured why not make it a pamper afternoon.  I was so tired of my boring old, almost one length and no personality hair.. not to mention my fringe was a disaster.  We're talking to the tip of my nose if I let it, so it had to go.     

The young chick (not meant in a bad way at all... especially if you've noticed the subtitle of this blog ;) that did my hair was great, even offered to make me a mocha (loving this posh service these days) but I already had my trusty Gloria Jeans Creme Brulee.  I did mention this was a pampering afternoon, right? ;)  Must have creme brulee to complete that.  Low fat/cal/sugar be damned.   Anyway... back to Jamie.  She did a lovely job sprucing up my 'do' a bit... without taking off much length.  I gave her the distinct impression that I might go mental if more than about an inch came off then length of my hair... a few razor cut long layers were the only exception to this edict.  Since I rather like the cut, and did not come away looking like a 12yo boy, I shall return to her.  I shall NOT, however, ever pay 30dollars for a friggin blow dry style on top of paying for the cut already!  I nearly fainted when she dropped that one one me... and in her defence, she seemed rather embarassed at the absurdity of that price as well lol.  

I noticed my profile photo on here, and on facebook, was over THREE YEARS old!!!   So, I decided to attempt a reasonable self portrait.. and this is the result.  Yeah.. pardon the outstretched 'tuck shop lady arms' there lol...

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