Sunday, 20 October 2019

Struggling with growing

I'm discovering that my son has a very strong sense of wrong and right.  Like his father used to, he sees the world as black and white, with very little room for greys.

This has caused us a lot of frustration and tears recently, as my understanding of the realities of life conflict with his sense of how things should be.  Usually, it's my impatience that causes the tears, which, of course, makes me feel like the best mum in the world.  But then we take the time to sort through the miasma of thought and emotion, find a reason to laugh, and all is well again.

Despite all of this, I've also seen something beautiful emerging.  The Little Big Fella is developing such a strong sense of what it is to be a friend, and what you should expect of your friends.

He expects friends to treat you right, no matter who else is around.

He expects friends to want to hang out with you, not just your stuff.

He expects friends to care if you're upset.

He expects friends to balance what they want with what you want.

I can see the hard times of puberty approaching and I know that his expectations will be let down more than once.  But I have hope that these strong (dare I say, moral?) perspectives will help guide him (and maybe his friends) to be wonderful men at the end.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

One Day in August

The photography club in the next town organised for people all over our region to take photos of their day today.  They're collating them into a book (I think) to show what life is like here, and as a historical record.  So without further ado, here is some of our One Day in August!

Monday, 31 December 2018

December 2018

December!  The crazy end of the year, where I often end up running around a little headless-chicken-like, but mostly because I love Christmas and Christmassy things.

So let's start with our home Christmas tree.  I tossed up turning my tree into the Grinch or an Abominable Snowman, but lacked access to the items I could do this with, so went with our standard "here's all the baubles and decorations that I've gathered and been given and have great sentimental value to me" tree.

In previous years I've had to coerce the Little Big Fella to help me put the tree up, but this year I guess the sense of tradition kicked in and he was eager to participate.  It was so nice to have someone in the house who wanted to help for a change (the Big Fella is not a fan of Christmas - Bah Humbug!).

Got a bit of my Christmas baking on this year, but nowhere near as much as previous years!  It's one of the things that makes it feel like Christmas for me, though.

The Art Society challenge for the month was "fading light".  I decided to have a go at painting my Poppy.  The photo I referenced from was taken out the front of his house at the end of a standard Saturday hanging out at their place as the sun was setting.  It was only a year or so before he died, so I thought it fit the brief quite well.

It's not quite finished, but I can see him peeking out at me through those eyes and cheeky smile.

We ended up at our friend's place for dinner one night.  The Little Big Fella was exceptionally tired, and fell asleep on my lap before we even ate!  We moved him onto a chair so I could eat, but I took him home to bed not long after.

I ended up coming back a bit later to pick up the Big Fella, and ended up almost pushing him out the door.  I think he might have been in holiday mode :-D

One of our great friends had a 50th birthday bash at the start of the month as well.  The Big Fella helped cook a pig on the spit, which was a hit, and set up the tables and chairs and so on.  It was a great night and I believe the birthday boy celebrated well into the following morning!

The Little Big Fella went to a birthday weekend that included a sleepover, junk food, a new interest in Beyblades, and a party at the local pool.  He had a great time, and I really enjoyed some time on my own to get stuff done.

The Big Fella was away for a week at a course, learning how to be a better trainer.  He came back super inspired!  It'll be interesting to see how he goes with the next school in March.  He's since been reading and watching all kind of interesting things, which has made for some thought-provoking conversation.

The Little Big Fella's school had their annual swimming carnival.  Unfortunately I didn't have the option to take the day off work, so I popped down in my lunch break.  He'd just finished his last race and was waiting for the free swim part of the day.

School ended for the year, so now we're in the end zone for primary school.  The Little Big Fella is looking forward to next year and all the possibilities.  I hope it goes as well as it could.

School holidays mean mates over for play days. 

These two always have a great time together, and the arguments have decreased over the years as the Little Big Fella has learned to be a better host and work against the fact that he's an only child.

A few days into the holidays we discovered some interesting items in the Little Big Fella's school bag.

This young man came 2nd and 3rd in his races at his school swimming carnival, AND came 3rd in the overall age group championship!  Pretty impressive for someone who reckons he's a terrible swimmer!  We also found his school report, which was great, as usual.  He loves maths and technology, and does well in English and most of the other subjects.

The guys at work voted to have our Christmas party in the workshop, with a BBQ and some Red Rooster.  To help make it feel more like Christmas and less like being at work at night, we set up a few bits and pieces:

Our trailer ended up being almost completely painted inside!

The boy's Christmas tree had pride of place

A bit of local greenery down the tables, with some lights, fake candles, the painted gumnuts, and some walnuts.  Then the curtain light at the end of the table, and the pots of painted branches strung with little lights around the sides, to create a "room" effect.

One of our main suppliers supplied some entertainment for us!

The office girls.
This was also our goodbye for the gorgeous blonde on the left.  We'll miss her!
The Art Society had its Christmas party as well.  I was asked to decorate the table, so I re-used the work party table idea, with a few little changes.

I love these ladies (and the ones that are missing)!  They're SO supportive and encouraging and my life would be significantly less without them.

And that pretty much brings me to Christmas Day.  I watched a little of the Christmas carols on TV on Christmas Eve, then decided to do a little table setting, like the two Christmas parties:

It looks so pretty all lit up!

And I set the table for the day.  My mum would be so proud.

The Big Fella got home from work at 5am.  The Little Big Fella had already woken me 10 minutes earlier, so we all got up and started the day.  The presents were opened and the smiles were large!

The Little Big Fella was spoiled again, but I was too!  The Big Fella has booked me in to a 5-day art workshop in May and I'm SO excited for it.  I was also given vouchers to my favourite online art supplies shop.

The Big Fella obviously needed a nap after working all night and fell asleep on the couch before heading off to bed.  The Little Big Fella and I did a yummy breaky and just hung out for a bit.  It was a seriously quiet Christmas Day for us!  We did a fancy-ish dinner, but otherwise we really just relaxed and played and watched movies and stuff.

Last year I couldn't work out why I was so tired over the Christmas holidays, and why I didn't get as much done as I wanted to.  I worked out that I'm on the go the entire year, with very little break time, not only during the days but over the weeks and months.  So this year, I'm not worried about not doing much, but revelling in the relaxation.  I'm doing what needs doing, but not pushing myself to "achieve".  And after a few days of doing very little, I'm ready to do a bit more.  Including (surprise, surprise) a little painting:

These are just works in progress.  I'll show the end results in a later post.
I did go to work on Friday.  I've found that time between Christmas and New Year is so quiet that it's easy to get some of the bits and pieces done that don't get squeezed into work hours the rest of the year.  This time the computer system cracked the sads so I spent a bit of time on the phone trying to sort something out for that.  But I also cleaned the fridges, did the filing that had been piling up, and packed up the Christmas decorations for the year.  And I sat and had a chat with the few boys that were working while they were on lunch break.  Then I knocked off early and continued in my lazy holiday ways!

And so we come to the end of 2018.

There are quite a few things I'm glad to leave behind from this year.  But there was plenty of good stuff, and there is much to look forward to in 2019!  I look forward to seeing you in it!

November 2018

It's the last day of 2018 so I'd better get November and December posts up, right?

November started with a wedding!  My lovely hairdresser married her partner on a gorgeous property several hours away.  Which for us meant having to go away for the weekend and hang out together.  It was so good for us!  The four/four and a half hour drive was great for catching up and planning, and we got the chance to look around a town we'd considered moving to with the Big Fella's work (if required).  Although it's nice, we decided it's not for us.

The Little Big Fella had been talking about waffles for a few weeks, but hadn't actually tried them.  So when we went out for breakfast and waffles were an option, he got them and decided he LOVES them!  So sad we can't buy them locally ;-)

Can you tell I forced these guys to have a family photo taken????  End result is we're all eating healthier and moving our bodies more in 2019!
I think the magpies were a little late breeding this year, because suddenly in November the Little Big Fella couldn't get to the first corner in either direction from our house on his bike ride to school without being swooped.  We tried the zippy ties on the helmet and carrying a big stick, but he completely freaked out, so for the rest of the term he went to school on the bus.  He LOVES the bus because he gets to hang out with his mate, but he begs the bus driver to let him stay on the bus longer so they can have more time together!

The NBN finally came to our side of the railway tracks in November, which of course means everything went to poop!  For our business, it takes at least three visits by Telstra, the first of which killed our VOIP phone system.  So for about a week and a half all business calls were diverted to my mobile phone.  Yay!  Thankfully most of our calls are from people within our company, so a group email got everyone to call mobiles rather than the office number, but my days off were interrupted a bit.

As of now, the new phone system has been installed, but with the most recent Telstra visit (a week before Christmas) our server won't let us log on to our computers because it can't verify that we're safe users.  There's a communication thing between our server and our head office that's apparently down, and that possibly means we won't have everything up and running properly until the 7th when head office reopens.


The Little Big Fella had a few mates over for a Friday night sleepover early in the month.  They loved it, but I was exhausted when they didn't go to sleep until after 10pm and then woke up at 5am!

The Big Fella finished the last part of his home micro brewery this month.  Wanna see?

The whole brewery

The brewing set-up

The fancy, glycol-chilled fermentors

The keezer
The Big Fella has put a lot of time into all of this, planning it out, saving up for each part, and putting it all together.  He brews from grain (none of that poxy can brew stuff) and apparently makes great beer!  I'm not a beer drinker so I don't really know, but everyone who tries them says they're as good as or better than commercial beers.

One of the boys from work got a new puppy who kept getting out while he was at work.  So he brought her in to work a few days while he was sorting it out.  On the second day, she came into the office and decided she didn't want to leave, so I ended up with a sleepy puppy on my feet for half a day.

Each year the local Rotary Club runs Christmas twilight markets in the park near us.  It's usually a big deal, with plenty of different stalls, raffles, and (of course) Santa.  The school usually runs a stand and I was there to help out with glow products this year.

The weather was gorgeous!
Since our work incident in March, and with other minor things since then, I've wanted to update my First Aid certificate.  I had the opportunity in November so went and did it.  I have to say, it was a bit confronting.  It was the first time since March that I'd actually "re-lived" the day in my head, looking at my memories of what happened and feeling the distress of the day.  I think my coping mechanisms of remembering without "seeing" the scene were necessary to keep going with daily life, but having some of the specifics in my face during the day was difficult.

Having said all that, I came away feeling like I knew enough and could respond well enough to keep things safe and calm until the ambulance arrives.  Even during the scenarios, I didn't know everything and my brain was going haywire trying to remember what to look for and what to do next, but on the outside I apparently looked like I knew what I was doing and kept the "patient" safe and calm.  I definitely want to renew it more often than once every 10 years though!

Last year our local CWA started a new tradition of a Christmas Tree Festival.  They hold it at the start of December and local businesses, schools and families "donate" a tree to them for a few days.  The trees are decorated and people come and check them out for a gold coin donation.  There's also a tree to donate food and gifts to those who need them during the holiday season.

This year there was a basket with each tree and people could "vote" for their favourite by putting money in that tree's basket.  The money was then donated to the Smith Family charity.

My workplace donated a tree last year, and this year both work and the Art Society did a tree each.

When I was "researching" (on Pinterest) for ideas, I saw this cute tree covered in little bicycles.  I thought that our work tree should reflect our workplace, so talked with the others about having baubles with our company logo on them, or decorating it with mechanical-type stuff.  Then one of the guys suggested having our boilermakers build a tree from scrap parts.  Everyone voted on that idea, and then the boys got to it.  They did SO well!

It weighed around 80kgs, so the guys lifted it with poles...

Placed it on a pallet...

And forklifted it onto the back of a ute.  Then we drove the ute and forklift around to the CWA hall (about a block away), and they reversed the process.

Add a few lights and company colour baubles and we have an awesome tree!
For the Art Society, we decided that some mini palettes, paint and paint brushes would suit us for a theme.

The three of us cut out and painted about 30 little palettes from mat board.  After about five my hand was cramping!  It was really tough!

But the end result was so good!
Crazily enough, our work tree won first place (line honours and a basket of goodies for our Christmas party), and the Art Society won second!

I'm really loving this new tradition because it's a less self-focused start to the Christmas season.  I'd like to work a bit more in 2019 on being other-focused, and helping my son learn what that can look like as well.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

October 2018

The Big Fella took almost all of October off, the first two weeks at home and the second up north in Cape York for his annual hunting trip.  It was so good to have him home for a bit after being away so much this year!  As usual, he had his list of things to do, which was WAY longer than the time he had available.  I think that's a common theme for us!

The start of October saw us girls at work helping out at another site while they attempted to recover from the shock of losing their workmate.  It was the first time I've been on an actual mine site.

My final assessment for this subject was due in the first week of October.  I made it, with no tears (a significant improvement on my previous study experience 12 years ago).  I've since received my marks back and achieved a HD in both assessments and overall for my subject.  I'm proud of the work I've put in, and what I'm learning from it, and that I've been able to study and work and all the other stuff.  Although, it beats me how mums can work full time, study full time, and doing all the mumming and other stuff as well!

We have a gorgeous little garden out the front, but we'd let the grass grow in one end.  No, let me rephrase that.  We didn't LET the grass grow, we just didn't keep up with getting rid of it when it tried to grow in there so it fully took over a two to three metre section and was about 40cm tall.

So, we dug out the plants we wanted to keep and put them in pots in the shade, then spent the day digging the grass out, turning over the soil and pulling out all the little bits and pieces.  Then we re-planted the old plants and a bunch of new ones, in the hope that the ground cover style ones will help to keep the grass out.

Some have since died, and I've put a few more in, and the grass has come back and been re-pulled a few times, but some of the ground covers are quite effective, so if I can just get in there fairly regularly, and keep adding plants when others die or whatever, I might just be able to keep the grass under control... maybe.

The Little Big Fella's school had their 50th anniversary reunion in October.  They did a great job, with a petting zoo and rides for the kids, memorabilia set up in the school hall, some market and food stalls and a bunch of festoon lighting set up across the main quadrangle.  It was a fun afternoon/evening/night.  Unfortunately the rain kicked in not long after dark, so the uncovered quadrangle wasn't such a great place to hang out.  But people seemed to have a good time and lots of people got to catch up with old mates.

He begged me to take this guinea pig home!

Then the evil little thing took me on the tea cup ride.  Did you know those things can make you sick?  When you get spun super fast, they totally can!

The festoon lighting over the quadrangle before it rained.

Fully loaded funnel cake... fat, sugar... deliciius!

The Art Society also had their 50th anniversary this year, which we celebrated with a dinner at one of the two local restaurants.

Nearly all set up with our art on the walls and easels, and lights and flowers on the tables.

Everyone chilling out and catching up before the meal is served.

Some of the awesome women I get to hang out and create with!

This photo includes our founding member, and one of our newest members!

It was really awesome to hear some of the stories of how the Society began and how the building came about.  And I loved that the atmosphere of friendship and welcome that I love about it is actually something that has been there from the beginning!

We were each asked to bring a handmade item as a memento of the night.  I did some watercolour bookmarks:

In the end, I didn't include the one on the far right (the buildings) because I wasn't happy with it.  I laminated the other four and they came up beautifully.

The following night was our exhibition.  I was SO proud to be a part of it because it looked amazing!

Steve's cocktails were pretty good, and kept us going until the very end of the night
I ended up doing a few pieces for the exhibition, two of which were quick "throw togethers", one of which I quite love and has ended up being a Christmas present for my dear friend, and the flower one, which ended up selling.

This is a larger version of the mini challenge pieces from last month that I ended up getting framed.  I really like it!

I quite like this one!  You can't tell so much in the photo, but the bronze colour on her skin shines in person and looks fantastic (if I do say so myself)!

I was quite surprised when this one sold.  It was fun to try a few different techniques, and the picture goes around the sides and top, so it looks pretty cool on the wall.
October, of course, ends with Halloween.  I didn't end up doing anything this year - the school used my decorations for their Halloween disco, and I was sick so didn't end up going.  But the Little Big Fella decided on the night that he wanted to go Trick or Treating with the older kids from our street, so we made him up as a zombie and sent him off.

Not too bad for a last-minute, "no dress ups in the house" costume.

And there we have it, October 2018 done and enjoyed.  Although May and October end up being really busy, I enjoy all the arty stuff so much.

See you soon for November's review!