2011: The Year That Was

Another year, another blog, another way of seeing just how crazy life was.

To follow tradition, it's time to get busy re-capping, just like in years gone by: 2006200720082009 & 2010.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Got married. Travelled to Vanuatu. Worked in a brand new school. Built a house. Took out my first mortgage. Began fertility treatments. Adopted a second (!) cat.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made no resolutions last year. I think for 2012, I'd like to focus on getting healthier - physically and emotionally. This year has drained me & I really haven't been looking after myself as well as I should have.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? An old friend gave birth to twin girls, but that's that. It feels like everyone around me managed to get pregnant this year... except me.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? Just Vanuatu, for our honeymoon.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? Successful ovulation, that would turn into a successful pregnancy, that would turn into a successful baby. Also, a little less stress.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 11, our wedding day. December 21, the day we received the keys to our new home. December 22, when we brought Evie home with us.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I taught some really challenging children this year, and I came out the other side alive. This is huge for me, since I'd been away from teaching for a few years prior to this, and I wasn't sure how I'd cope being back in the classroom.

9. What was your biggest failure? Weight. It's on, and it's worse, and it's becoming even more difficult to get off. I hate this.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had an ER visit in April thanks to a bout of gastroenteritis and colitis, and just the usual stack of colds.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Adopting Evie was such a highlight of this year. She chose me, she was the only kitten at the RSCPA who wasn't meowing, or climbing the cages, or shrieking like a banshee, and she just loved all over me through her cage. Seeing her and Oscar together melts my heart.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Jason. Again. I was in charge of looking after the wedding; he's been in charge of looking after the house build. He's done such a great job, putting up with me and my impatience, dealing with some tough situations, and keeping calm throughout this whole year. We're a good team, but man, he takes the cake. And also, Kirby. Again. Because being home this year and having weekly {mostly!} best friend visits has been something I've missed so much.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Certain parents at school.

14. Where did most of your money go? Wedding & House - we picked 2011 to cross two majorly expensive things off our life-list. I wouldn't have it any other way, though.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Finally getting married! Our wedding was all sorts of fabulous, even with the dodgy weather. We're also thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to getting into our new home - but that might go on next year's list!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Party Rock Anthem. Everyday we're shuffling.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

(a) Happier or Sadder? Happier in some ways. Sadder in others. But mostly pretty blessed.
(b) Thinner or Fatter? Fatter. I hope to remedy this next year.
(c) Richer or Poorer? Poorer. But happier.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Worked out.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I'd spent less money on ovulation kits and monitors. They don't work, and I would've saved myself the money and the agony.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2011? Christmas Eve was at my family's place, Christmas Day at J's family's place. We then came home and spent Christmas night at home with the kitties.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? I stayed in love -- with my husband!

22. How many one-night stands? Just a few. ;)

23. What was your favorite TV program? Ringer. American Horror Story. Once Upon a Time. Grimm. Sister Wives. Big Love. Grey's Anatomy.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don't hate anyone. Disappointed in a few people, but I don't hate.
25. What was the best book you read? The Hunger Games trilogy.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? This year I sort of stayed with the classics. I can't think of a single new album that I fell in love with this year, off the top of my head.

27. What did you want and get? I wanted a kitten. We got Evie. Love!

28. What did you want and not get? Pregnant.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 27, and enjoyed it as a newlywed. Jase bought me a GPS for my car.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Ovulating. And also, managing to get pregnant.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Same as always: jeans, skirts, flats.

33. What kept you sane? Jason, Kirby, the Weddingbee boards.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Didn't really fancy anyone.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Australia still hasn't legalised same-sex marriage.

36. Who did you miss? I didn't miss too many folks this year. I have my husband, my family, my bestie & a beautiful little group of friends from the interwebs to keep me smiling.
37. Who was the best new person you met? The staff at my school - they are absolutely lovely, a little group in particular, and it makes going to work every day a real pleasure. I also have a great little group of lady-friends on the WB boards that are absolutely gorgeous.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Patience is a virtue... that I'm still working on.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. “It's you and me and all of the people with nothing to do, nothing to prove & it's you and me and all of the people, and I don't know why I can't keep my eyes off of you."

40. What are your resolutions for 2012? Look after myself, look after my family, and do everything I can to be a mum.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Merry Christmas!


You guys, I am in love.

This is Evie. We adopted her from the RSCPA today and she is, by far, the best Christmas present ever. Oscar is coping well with his baby sister, and they've been doing okay so far. They'll be BFFs soon. I know it.


And then there's the fact that WE OWN OUR HOUSE NOW.
Yes! Keys were handed over yesterday. We are looking at moving January 12th. Nearly everything is done perfectly, with the exception of the driveway, which {thanks to rain} will have to wait until next year.

2012 is going to be wonderful!

The Gift

School's out! School's out!

This time last year, I was a little worried about what work I'd find myself in for 2011. I prepared myself for the uncertainty of casual supply teaching, and was more than a little unhappy with doing it - especially after having a break from teaching while we lived overseas.

I came. I casual taught. I cried. And then, the universe threw me a bone.

I started off my year at this new little school, with a beautiful class of kiddies. I didn't know how long I'd be there at first, but I got lucky & with the help of an amazing principal who fought to keep me there, I ended up with a year long job. I'm so lucky to be heading back there next year.

Somehow, the fates wanted me to get back into teaching. I was out of sorts, out of my comfort zone, and I am now so happy to be a staff member of such a wonderful place of work. Yes, teaching sucks sometimes - the parental drama, the lousy pay, the overwhelming demand for paperwork, the programs and guidelines that change every ten seconds... but I'm officially happy to declare myself a teacher again.

As I said goodbye to my children today, the kind words they (& their parents) gave to me really hit close to home. They thanked me for looking after their children. They told me how much their children enjoyed our classroom. They commented on how glad they were that I would be staying on next year.

The parent of the very-new child on the Autistic Spectrum (who only arrived at the school two weeks ago) gave me a hug, and told me that he was so happy that I welcomed them into the school - and that our Christmas concert/singing item that happened last night was the FIRST TIME his son had ever gotten up on stage to perform in an item.

I also received a note and a gift from another parent. This particular boy has been quite a handful all year, being lively, cheeky and witty all at the same time. He and his family are also Jehovah's Witnesses. The gift was a fancy pen that his parents had engraved with my name. The note reads:

To Mrs. D,
Firstly, I would like to thank you for all the hard work, time and effort you have put into our son's education and growth as a 'little' person.
S has absolutely loved having 'Miss' as his teacher. We have certainly seen that in his work and in his day to day conversation. Please accept this small gift as our way of saying thank you.

Also, as a family, we would especially like to thank you for the respect you have shown in regards to our beliefs and way of life. This has had such a positive effect on our son. We are truly grateful.
May 2012 prove to be just as challenging (in a good way!) and exciting for you and your new students.

That, my friends, is what teaching is all about.

On Giving Up Control

Ugh, guys, I am so sorry I've dropped off the face of the earth lately.

Life is busy. Good, stressful, nerve-wracking, busy. We have so much going on and time is flying and my head/heart are being torn in a million different directions... but it's all okay. I'm trying to take one day at a time. It's so hard when things are out of your control. I don't cope well with not being responsible for making things happen when I want them to. Waiting around has never been a strong point of mine.

I feel like I've been in limbo on three main things: house, work, baby.

All of them will hopefully sort themselves out in time, but that's the thing: I'm sick of the whole 'time' thing. I feel like I've been waiting around for what feels like eons, for each of these things to be resolved - only time keeps on ticking, and we keep on waiting. The waiting, the uncertainty.. it's doing my head in.

On the house front, we're putting all of our good karma into a box and sending it off, hoping against hope that things work out. We are so close, literally, THIS CLOSE, to having the house finished and ready to hand over; in fact, we were promised that it'd all be sorted out by Christmas. Well, that was before the weather gods decided that they'd like this summer to be the coldest and wettest December we've had in FIFTY YEARS in Sydney. Seriously. It has rained constantly this month - meaning our home hasn't been finished. Our final inspection was supposed to have been yesterday, but because of the weather delaying the exterior painting, it's been pushed back to next Wednesday. As in, three days before Christmas. And guess what the forecast is meant to be early next week? PLEASE DON'T RUIN THIS FOR US, WEATHER GODS. If you're so inclined, we would love for a little positive juju and crossed fingers. If the house isn't completed and handed over prior to Christmas, we will end up waiting until the END of January before we can hand over.

On the work front, I'm lucky enough to be going back on class next year. Unfortunately, our school numbers have dropped, which means that we lose a class AND the rest of our classes will be really large. Instead of 24 year 1/2 kiddies, I'll be on 29 next year. That extra group of children will make a massive difference to the way the classroom will run, so I'm mentally preparing myself for it now. I also really feel for a colleague of mine who desperately needs a full-time job, but is waiting around to find out if our numbers will rise - I've been in that limbo myself, so I'm praying it works out for her.

On the baby front, sweet nothing is happening. This one is the hardest of all. It is so, so difficult to watch people around you fall pregnant with what seems like very little effort at all, and to be constantly wishing for what other people have. TTC is all about emotions. You start off with excitement, then uncertainty, then nerves, then anger, then frustration, then hopefulness, then boredom, and so on and so forth. Last cycle, I was back on the 'excitement' train, hopeful that Clomid would do the trick. That didn't work, so this time around I'm sort of numb. If it didn't work last time, why should this time be any different? If the Clomid does do it's job, I'm supposed to ovulate around Christmas time - and I can't think of a more perfect gift than that.

I know that none of these things are ones I can change, but I will keep on keeping on.

Numbers. And Rain. Stupid Rain. GO AWAY RAIN.

2 days left of stupid progesterone tablets.

I am sick of feeling sick on them. Let's hope that they do the trick and induce my lady-biznas as soon as possible. I'm done with this cycle, and I want to get back on the Clomid bandwagon to at least attempt to ovulate before 2011 is out.

7 days until our Practical Completion Inspection at the house.

That all sounds fine and dandy, except for the fact that we're waiting on a) the outside of the house to be painted and rendered, and b) a driveway to be poured and stencilled.... AND IT'S PISSING WITH RAIN. It's the coldest and wettest December we've had in a long time, and we're basically going to be screwed because of it. Please do your best sunny-weather-heat-heat-heat dance for us? I promise I won't even complain about it getting hot again. I'm so, so worried that things won't be done in time - and the early hand-over we were promised will end up being pushed back again. :(

9 days until the kids are done with school this year.

They are off like rockets right now, thanks to the crappy weather & the fact that the year is almost over. I'm planning on doing a whole stack of Christmas crafting activities over the next week just to keep them busy. Also, to keep me sane. 

13 days until the teachers are done with school this year.

The kids break up next Friday, but for some reason, the teachers have to come back on the week of Christmas for two staff development days. Seriously? Who's the brainiac that thought that up? Brain-dead teachers who are exhausted after teaching for the year, and you're expecting us to be functioning for professional development days FOUR DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS? Right.

15 days until we can potentially bring home my early Christmas present.

If you follow me on twitter, you might already know what my gift is going to be? Now to just hope and pray that everything goes okay for the house stuff, so this date doesn't have to change. 

18 days until Christmas is here.

It seems both so far away and so close at the same time. Get here already...

Holy Building Progress, Batman.

Wowsers. Have I got some news for you, or what?

J had a meeting today {while I was slaving away at work} at our block of land, where he & our building supervisor were inspecting everything ready for pre-painting. And, well, we got some awesome news. They are going to speed through and get the house ready for a Practical Completion Inspection {or PCI} before Christmas.

In fact, it's happening soon. TWO WEEKS TIME soon.


The PCI is basically the final check-list/inspection that happens before we are given the keys and the house becomes 'ours'. It will be us, the builder, and likely a private inspector that we're going to hire to go over everything that should be done and/or needs correcting. It's pre-appliances, as most builders don't install electrical appliances until hand-over is complete, to ensure goods aren't stolen from new homes before they're inhabited.


Of course, our house won't be a picture perfect brand new display home when we're given the keys pre-Christmas. We're doing our own flooring independently, so at hand-over, our home is still going to look unfinished in some aspects. We have our flooring happening in early January. We have appliances being installed in early January. And we'll be finalising the driveway and some electrical additions ourselves, before we actually move in. That will take some time.


It means that instead of the home being finished after the summer holiday break and then moving in, arranging flooring, getting fencing, etc etc, we'll be getting a head start. And it may mean that we move in sometime in mid-January. MOVE IN. Whoa nelly!

Most importantly, it means that we can use that summer break to actually get things sorted. I want to start getting our backyard fenced off and turfed, so that we can get it puppy-ready. I want to make sure any building problems that need to be sorted {that we'll find out about at the PCI} are sorted while we're there. And... we can potentially start furniture shopping & arrange deliveries for things while I'm on a break from school.

It's all happening!

I'll keep you posted over the next two weeks but wow. I am so! flipping! happy! right now. How's about a picture of our almost completed spa bath to tide you over?

What are you Watching?

I've become more than a little addicted to teevee lately; it's perfect for background distractions while I'm doing boring things like report writing and what-not. Here's what I've been busy watching:

  • Ringer - I love me some Sarah Michelle Gellar, even if the twin scenes are particularly bad. I love looking at her outfits each week & I love how the story is going. I'm hooked!
  • American Horror Story - This is a guilty pleasure of mine. I watched the first episode and freaked out, and I've been coming back for more since then. Also, I sort of want Connie Britton's hair.
  • Glee - I have to admit, my patience for this show is on its last legs. I'm still watching.. but barely.
  • Grey's Anatomy - I'll always have a soft spot for Grey's. It's one of my favourite series, though it's not as great as it used to be. I'm hanging out for the last part of this season, hate waiting around to find out what happens next.
  • Sister Wives - Is anyone else as fascinated by this show as I am? I started watching during our travels this time last year and I've been catching up online ever since. The final episode {with the birth of baby Solomon} is happening soon, and I can't wait. They're such an interesting family!
  • Grimm - A fairly recent addition to my teevee list, but I like what they've done with it. The gory bits mixed with the cheesy lines are fabulous. I like it a lot.
  • Once Upon A Time - I'll admit, I watched all four episodes today, I enjoyed it that much. I wonder how long they can drag this storyline out for? Thoroughly enjoying it. :)
What are you watching lately - have you got any other suggestions for me?

Disappointed Turtle

Firstly, thank you to all of you superlovelyfabulous people who left me some love on my previous post - I've never felt so emotionally drained as I did this past week, and I think I'll carry that doubt inside for the most part. I'm learning to let go of the things I cannot change. Seeing Mrs. X continue to avoid me by physically hiding after school, well, that just cements my gut instinct that she's feeling guilty about what happened. And so she should.

Anywho, on to bigger and brighter things. The house! It continues to plug along. Next week will see the tilers get busy fixing up the wet area {bathrooms/laundry} floor and wall tiles, as well as the carpenters visiting to install the cabinets and skirting boards. We're due for a visit to inspect the house pre-painting, so I don't have anything fun to show you right now - especially since we now have garage doors and a front door. The house is in lock up mode!

{Can I get a HUZZAH?}

They've been going at a cracking pace lately, which is nice. Unfortunately the external walls of the house still need to be rendered & painted, but with the miserable wet weather that's set in lately, I doubt it'll happen before Christmas, when everything shuts up shop.

Since there isn't much we can really do in the home department right now, I'm focusing on the more important things; namely, hunting down breeders for our first dog. I am so frigging excited to become a puppy mum once again, and as soon as we move into the house & get the backyard all turfed up, IT'S HAPPENING. We were debating between one pup or two, but since Jase hasn't owned a dog before, I figured we'd start small and see how he copes. I'm planning on researching my brains out since we have the time to do it right; if anyone in Sydney can recommend any sensible breeders for Golden Retrievers, let me know.


And that is about that. I'll spare you the horrific stomach flu I'm suffering from today {my poor Twittererererererers have already seen enough whingy tweets to last a lifetime} & focus on the good. So, good it is.

Teacher vs. Parent

This has been the week from hell - thank goodness it is over. This is how I feel today: half tired/half stabby. Meow.

{Warning: this post is turning into a fairly epic story. Read on, friends.}
For the first time in my teaching career, I had a parent make a complaint about me. I found out in the most round-about of ways, and it's really thrown me for a loop. I pride myself in being careful and empathetic with my parents, so this has been a real blow to my teaching pride. And add in the fact that both {yes, both} of the alleged 'incidents' are a complete lie/misunderstanding, and, well, it just stinks. And I'm exhausted.

Let me share a little background information with you first.

Student X comes from a blended religious family. Mrs X {mum} is Christian. Mr X {dad} is Muslim. Student X is on the Autistic spectrum and has been diagnosed since she was three, and we are currently awaiting a report to see if she also has Aspergers. She is a lovely little girl and has no behaviour problems at school; her Autism presents itself in other ways. There has been talk all year of moving Student X to an Islamic school nearby, as Mrs X admitted that her husband would prefer her to have an independent religious school upbringing. I've worked with Mrs X all year, as Student X is quite a high maintenance child, and I have always done my best to make the parent/teacher relationship as amicable as possible. Fast forward to this last term, and we've still not been told what's going on - so our principal got in touch with Mrs X to touch base and to have a chat about the following year.

That being said, it's onto the good stuff.

Complaint 1: During this phone call, Mrs X informed the principal that I had made an inappropriate comment to Student X about her clothing, that I was disrespectful to their religious beliefs, and that they were pulling her from the school as a result. Say..... what? The words spoken by Mrs X were as follows, in summary: 'Mrs D told Student X that she was not allowed to wear pants to school anymore.' Er.

The reality? We had 36+ degree weather out in the suburbs last week, and it was a stifling heat. I had kidlets in my classroom who were playing outside in the heat with their jumpers on. Of course, they'd come in after playtime, sweating, red faced, feeling ill, and looking like they were about to pass out. As part of our sun safety program, we talked as a class about being smart in the sun - and I informed the class that it would be a good idea to take all their jumpers off before heading out to the lunch and recess, making sure their hats were on as well.

Somewhere in this scenario, Student X has either been a) completely confused and not entirely listening {which is common with students on the spectrum} or has b) taken the jumpers/hats information and misinterpreted it as her long pants needing to be removed as well. Student X has gone home to her parents, relayed the incorrect information, and BAM. Complaint made.

I was gutted after hearing this remark. As a teacher in modern times, you have to be so careful when dealing with different religious beliefs and practices and all that jazz - and I am really sensitive about being on top of this. For Mrs X to go over my head about this issue, without even checking with me first to clarify what had happened, well, I just felt sick. Did Mrs X honestly think I would say something so blatantly disrespectful? This is me, the teacher who just last week approached her after school to seek her approval/permission for Student X to participate in the end of year Christmas concert. Why would I go to the efforts of asking her advice/seeking her opinion as to not offend any religious beliefs, if I were going to slander her religion the very next day? It just makes no sense. I felt like I'd been slapped in the face. I went about my week, and that was that. Until yesterday.

Complaint 2: My class was having their talking & listening news time in the morning, when the principal popped by to have a chat with me. He'd had a second complaint from Mrs X about something I had allegedly told Student X, and wanted to clarify with me what had happened. To summarise her next complaint: 'Mrs D told Student X that all pizzas were halal and that she could eat whatever she wanted.' Again, eh?

To cut another long back story short, last week our class won a school competition run by our parents/community committee. The prize was a class pizza party. I had nothing to do with this: I didn't order the pizza, I didn't arrange the notes being sent home - it was all organised by this committee. The one thing I did do was to make sure I requested an allergy/ingredient listing so that the kids in my class could observe what was in each pizza and make the choice as to whether they could eat it or not.

When the pizzas and allergy sheet were delivered, I called my students up with food allergies, religious beliefs or food aversions first, so that they could have their choice and/or head outside with their regular lunch. If they weren't sure about an ingredient, I asked them if they would be allowed to eat this sort of meal at home. Several kids opted out {including one another Islamic student}. Student X chose a pizza slice with no qualms or questions, and that was that. At no time was anything mentioned about our pizzas being halal, as this information wasn't on the allergy sheet I was given. In fact, I made absolutely no mention of that subject at all.

So, two complaints. Two allegations. Two skewed truths and/or blatant lies. Way to kick a tired teacher in the teeth.

Now thankfully, the rest of the staff have filled me in on previous years dealing with Student X and Mrs X. Her teacher last year was a teaching Assistant Principal, and is one of the best leaders I've worked with. By the end of the year, she had tallied up a total of four complaints made against her, on a variety of topics.

The good news is that the rest of the staff, including my principal, are on my side. The bad news is that this ever should have happened in the first place.

I've spent this week flipping from emotion to emotion - anger {as if I would ever say any of these things, bitch please, who do you think you are?}, frustration {why didn't Mrs X just come and speak with me first, so that I could put her at ease}, panic {what if these allegations put my job at risk for next year?}, terror {what if my principal suddenly thinks I'm this awful person?}, empathy {dealing with ASD kids is hard work, poor stressed out Mrs X} and tears {I cannot believe that someone could think I'm capable of being anti-religion} or {I've put so much work into Student X this year and this feels like a slap in the face} or just {I'm suddenly not wanting to be in the same classroom as Student X any longer for fear of bawling}.

I know it will all be ok. The school year will end, Student X will move on to her new independent school, life carries on. But after working my arse off all year and having such a positive, wonderful experience back on-class, this week feels like it was all for naught. For the teachers out there: you are wonderful. Your job entails so much more than just the '9-3' babysitting of kids - you are a carer, a social worker, a lunch lady, a play supervisor, an exam marker, a parent liason, and a rock star. I salute you.

Now, someone please pass the vodka & the shot glasses.


It's that time again.

Time to write my end of year report cards.

They are in full force.

I am losing my mind.

That is all.

Life Snippets

There are six weeks of school to go. THIS EQUATES TO 30 WORKING DAYS. Yes, I am counting them down. I love, love, love my school (& am keeping everything crossed that I can stay on for another year, if numbers permit) but I am completely exhausted right now. Over the next fortnight, I need to complete all of my end of year reports, which I cannot even begin to comprehend. Ah, how quickly I forgot what it was like to be on class for a year at a time.

Clomid has begun. And now begins now the lovely wait of whether or not it's actually going to do its job. I'm not expecting great things to happen in the first month, but I'm hopeful all the same. That's ok... right?

The house stuff has sorted itself out, thanks to some sweet talking and a case of beer - seriously. The electrical rough-ins passed inspection, the walls have been insulated, and the gyprocking has begun. They were even working on it today - on a Saturday! Impressive, eh? Fingers crossed that it will go well as it continues next week.

A Rant About Building

/begin rant

I hate this building process. There, I've said it.

I don't hate that we're getting to build - that part I am thankful for, every single day. The home we're {eventually} going to have at the end of it all, is going to be amazing.
Here's what I'm hating right now:
  • The people we are dealing with at our chosen building company are utterly useless. We have this one 'consultant' who is our go-to person, who basically acts as a shuttle between us and between our site supervisor. We don't want to talk to an office lackey; we want to talk to our BUILDER.
  • Speaking of which, the site supervisor is rubbish. He doesn't return phone calls. He has never once given us an update on our build. He isn't visiting our block enough - which we have PROOF of, when we discovered a structural flaw in one of the walls ourselves and had to call him up on. What the heck is he doing?
  • Lying tradesman are assholes. You put your electrical holes in without drills, we've seen them, we've worked with what you did. And now, after it's all said and done, you're going to lie and say you DID use drills, and WE used hammers? I call bullshit.
  • I hate delays. I hate waiting around on perfectly good building days with beautiful weather - and I hate that they use the occasional rainy day as an excuse to be slow.
  • I hate our future neighbours on one side, who are constantly causing problems. 
In summary, I'm grumpy. I want them to do as much work on the house as they can before they close up shop for five weeks over the Christmas/summer break, because I'm OVER living in this apartment AND I WANT IT DONE.

/end rant.

Have you ever built or renovated before? Have you got any tips/distractions for me?

October Photography Challenge - Day 30: Self-portrait

Day 30: Self-portrait: I made it all the way through - we started with a self-portrait & ended with a self-portrait, how fitting. Unfortunately I was much more 'well' at the beginning of the month; I've come down with a rotten head cold and feel disgusting at the moment. But the important thing is... it's done!

I've learnt a lot this month. I took my camera off 'auto' mode more & enjoyed fiddling around with the settings. I thought outside the box, and took pictures of things I wouldn't normally take pictures of. And most importantly, I've blogged all the way through - it was a great way to get my mojo back. I'm certainly no pro photog, but I've had fun.

Unfortunately, you're stuck with my sick head for today's picture, but that's me right now: pj's, tissues & a sad face. Thanks for visiting this month & your lovely comments - it's been great sharing them with you this October!
 For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 29: Black and White

Day 29: Black and White: Today I was on granny-duty; taking my nan out for the day to keep her company and show her our house-build that's in progress. While picking her up from her apartment, I decided that snapshots from some of her quaint collections would be perfect for the black and white, slightly vintage prompt.

I love all of her random bits & bobs. She has an entire wall dedicated to 'smily' things - that's my nan for you!
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 28: Flowers

Day 28: Flowers: Since we're a flower-free household, I had to venture outdoors into our apartment's communal courtyard. It's early spring days yet & there are a lot of buds on the trees, but very few flowers blooming yet.

My favourites are these tiny white star flowers, though I'll admit I have no idea what they're called. Pretty, yes?
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 27: From a Distance

Day 27: From a Distance: I took my camera into work with me today to capture my classroom... from a distance. I took one from my desk facing the kiddies work area, one of some wall artwork, and one from the back wall, showing the whiteboards and my work space. I'm so lucky: my classroom is a pretty good size for grade 1/2 students.

Considering we only moved into this classroom at the end of Term 2, I think that the kiddies & I have done a good job of decorating! We change our wall displays all the time, and I love showing off the awesome work they've done.
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 26: Close-Up

Day 26: Close-Up: This has been a pretty busy week, so I was challenged to find something lying around the house {that I hadn't already photographed!} for today's close-up. I ended up using a vase of synthetic sunflowers that I keep in our bedroom - Oscar likes to chew on the greenery, so I have to lock them away. No plants in this household.

They're slightly blurred, but I'm learning to be okay with that - I've taken to playing with manual focus rather than always using the automatic option, so it's all good practice. It's not the best shot, but it's cheerful at least.
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 25: Something Pink

Day 25: Something Pink: I've had this one ready for some time now, because I buggered up the orange & pink days at the beginning of the month. That works just fine for me, since tonight was busy spent watching reality television finales & trying to drive home in crazy rain amongst stupid, stupid drivers.
Anyway, let's move on to something pink - which just happens to be my go-to shade for my nails. I have s many varieties of baby pinks, sheer pinks, glittery pinks: you name it, I've got it, or I've worn it before. Ob-sessed.

Jase thinks my pink nail polish quirk is weird, more so because I don't actually own much pink. It's the right shade that I can wear to work without feeling too over the top, and it goes with everything. Natural nails, for the win.
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 24: Animal

Day 24: Animal: You knew what I'd be shooting for today's prompt, right? Poor Oscar, with cameras shoved in his grill all the time; no wonder he always looks like a stunned mullet. He's much more mellow in real life.

I'd show you some of the out-takes in all of their blurry hilariousness, but you'd be here for ages. {There were loads.}
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 23: Sunflare

Day 23: Sunflare: I worried I wouldn't be able to manage this today, as it was hot and glarey outside. As the day progressed, I kept popping out to our balcony to see what I could work with. Thankfully I have our pergola as a prop.

I'm quite pleased with this final shot, as I feel it really shows the sunflare well. That sun shape is almost perfect!
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October Photography Challenge - Day 21 & 22: Faceless Portrait & Hands

Oh, I have been a busy little bee lately. Work is insane {insane!}, my parents are moving house, I'm trying to keep my stuff together and not explode in frustration/nervous anticipation. It's not pretty.

Day 21: Faceless Self Portrait: Some days it is nice to not make yourself up at all. I'm pretty easygoing at the best of times, but the days where I'm home alone and can throw my hair back into a messy bun? They are the best.
Day 22: Hands: I've always wished for daintier hands. Back when I was a teenager, I would always have trouble finding rings to fit on my fingers - they're pretty large. This one time, I visited a jeweller to ask him about resizing a ring for me, and as he measured my finger he laughed, and said I had the biggest hands he'd ever seen on a woman. Um, scarred for life much? Thanks so very much for that, asshole.

I was nervous about my ring size pre-proposal, but thankfully my rings fit perfectly after an epic resizing debacle.
For more information & to check out the other participants, click on the image below, or follow the Flickr stream.

October Photography Challenge - Day 20: Bokeh

Day 20: Bokeh: Oh, did I struggle with this one. I spent ages googling, watching YouTube videos, and playing with my settings {which I now know SO much more about, thanks to this challenge} and pleading for help via Twitter. This is where I throw a huge shoutout to Jenna and Bec for their help; ladies, you are wonderful.

Anyway, at Jenna's suggestion, I headed outdoors to find some leaves & make use of the sun behind them to attempt to create the Bokeh effect. I had a prop on hand {one of my wedding 'stache straws'} and spent a while snapping away. I ditched it for a few shots, too. I hoped I had managed one, came inside to look out of the glare... and I DID IT!

I put my DSLR (Nikon 3100 base model lens) on 'A' aperture mode, turned the aperture to the lowest I could get, which was f/4 & made my ISO 800. Then it was just a matter of playing with the manual focus!

Interested in seeing the 'stache attempt? It's not as clear as I would like, but you can definitely still see the blur.
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A friend of mine is borrowing my space for the day - please make her feel welcome & give her some love. -Aly
Dear Internet,

Three years ago this month I met a guy.
(You're cringing now, aren't you?  I mean, isn't that how all sad stories start?  Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl ends up heartbroken and shattered at the end.  I promise I'm working on making this a good ending, though.)
Anyway, three years ago, I met a guy.  He had just started up at the school at which I'm a teacher, and our department chair introduced us during a fire drill one day.  I didn't think much of the initial meeting -- though I do remember he had on a great tie -- until a few months later when he transferred to my department to fill a long-term substitute position.
We started chatting at lunch, bonding over a shared love for our city's sports teams and… well, I don't remember.  But I do remember that we shared our first date in April at a sports bar downtown, laughing as he beat me in tabletop checkers again and again.  We were almost inseparable from that point on, though our first kiss didn't take place until nearly three weeks later, both of us giddy on red wine and bad movies and infatuation.
There were good times.  Lazy summer weekdays spent by the pool or beach.  Apple picking and pumpkin carving and Halloween parties.  Thanksgiving and snow days and our first Christmas together.  I was so happy to have found someone that I ignored the warning signs at first.  The rudeness to my friends.  The disregard for my parents and family.  The way he pouted when I made plans for a long weekend without him.  I ignored the shame I felt when I saw how my friends felt about him, the way they reacted to his cold personality which was nothing like how he treated me in private.  I ignored the way in which he said hateful things only to take them back after I'd dissolved into tears and apologies.  I ignored the manipulation and the meanness and the spite.  I ignored how anxious and terrible he made me feel.
After a year and a half I couldn't ignore it anymore.  So I ended it.  It hurt.  It hurt so badly that, though I tried, we ended up giving it another shot only a few months later.  We had a long talk about our expectations and our wants and how things were going to be different.  Different, we said!
Things weren't different.  They were worse.  We lasted three more months.  We had a holiday season from hell and didn't speak for two weeks.  I walked away feeling sad and defeated, wondering how it was that anyone could ever possibly love me.  
To make a long story a little shorter, we began messing around after I ended a brief rebound relationship.  Without the pressures of family and friends and colleagues, we had a great time.  It was like our first summer together: baseball games on the radio and bagel brunches on Sundays and holding hands in our sleep.
"This isn't a relationship," we'd say.  "We can't work out, but we'll be with each other until we find someone we do work out with!  When we meet other people this will be over and we'll be glad we had so much fun."
It stopped being fun a few weeks ago, when he argued with me over making dinner plans with a friend and not inviting him.  The verbal abuse began again, always followed up by sweetness and charm.  I began to feel the pattern repeating itself.
I started to wonder what else is out there.  I thought about dating.  About how I want nothing more than to start a life and family with someone.  Someone who loves me.  Someone who supports me.  Someone who would never lecture me about the way I cook chicken or the naps I like to take on Thursday afternoons.
Someone who deserves me for the wonderful person I am.  The wonderful person I will be.
I ended it tonight.
At first I thought it went well.  I thought we'd both been honest and I was even a little sad to let the good part of him go.
We said goodbye, and then the text messages started.
"I'm glad I never used the ring I bought you.  I was a week away from ruining my life and asking you to marry me two Christmases ago."
"I hope one date is worth it.  I hope your panic over not being married is worth me."
"Don't ever talk to me or look at me again.  I can't stand the thought of you."
And then the thing that felt like a punch to the gut--
"How lucky.  All of those nice photos of you are saved to my phone.  I hope no one finds them!"
Let's ignore for now that I was stupid enough to send racy photos to him in the first place.  Let's instead focus on the good in this. 
(There is good.  I promise.)
He was trying to get a rise out of me by saying those things.  He wanted me to lash out.  He wanted to drag me back in to the mess of our dysfunction.  I know this.
But the best part about those things up there?  Those things that were said to me in a haze of anger and resentment?  Are things that will never be said to me again.  Because I know what I'm worth now.  I know that I'm worth more than that.  I deserve better.  I am better.
And now I'm going to prove it to myself.
Wish me luck.  I hope I don't need it.

October Photography Challenge - Day 19: Something Orange

Day 19: Something Orange: Could this prompt be any more appropriate for me? I have just visited a RE {reproductive endocrinologist} for the first time & have been hooked up with a barrage of medications to try and tackle our fertility dramas... and look at the obscenely orange paper bag they came in from the chemist! Huzzah.

I'm looking forward to the next step of this journey: if you want to know more, check out my Operation: Baby blog.
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October Photography Challenge - Day 18: Your Shoes

Day 18: Your Shoes: Confession time - I used to have an obsession with buying shoes. I may not buy as many pairs as I used to, but I do still love to look. My staples tend to be comfy flats, low wedges 'aka teaching shoes', thongs (the shoe kind!) & comfy slouch boots - but I do own a handful of impossible-to-wear pretties too. I've noticed that my love of the colour grey {which stemmed from our wedding colours} has begun to take over in the shoe department...

So which one do I choose, when I love them all equally as much? It had to be these.. it's the bow detail - I can't resist!
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