BY Amanda

11/01 Direct Link
Last month went by in such an incredible whirlwind of activity I hardly had time to think. Sadly, there was so much happening, that had I had the time, writing would have been quite therapeutic. But that wasn't to be. So, I did what I always do when life gets frantic - put my head down and plough through the storm! That was what October felt like for me - a storm to be weathered. As I progress in my studies preparations for exams become more arduous, more time consuming and the results more desperately sought. Thank goodness it's now November! 
11/02 Direct Link
The euphoria of being at home while everyone else is at work is hard to describe. Each day I get to spend precious time that I would not usually have being a grandma. Master 3 year old is completely delightful! I can't remember the last time I was filled with so much love and adoration for another being. He smiles and I melt. I struggle to be firm because he is such a love, but, commonsense prevails. I don't want a lovable monster!! I could write a thousand words about him, perhaps a word count is wise for all concerned.
11/03 Direct Link
I was supposed to study today and I really did try. I toyed with the idea for about 30 seconds before giving in. The sky is too blue, the sun is too warm, the breeze is just right and the day is too perfect to be spent with my head in a book. Cognition and cellular functioning will just have to wait until another day. So we drove into the hills, looked in awe at the Giant Rockinghorse, fed the lama's and goats, patted kangaroos and ate ice cream. It's been an amazing day. Sometimes it's wise to reassess priorities.
11/04 Direct Link
I am sick again. I've been sick for nearly a month. In fact, I've been sick almost constantly since February. Every now and again I get a week's respite, but then another virus hits with a vengeance and I'm sick once again . No amount of medication seems to stem the tide and I should now have shares in Kleenex. I'd have made a fortune on my purchases alone! I don't mind feeling crap during the day but being propped upright on 5 pillows so that I can breathe and not cough for the entire night is wearing a little thin!
11/05 Direct Link
My first weekend away in months is turning out to be just delightful. Mount Gambier is a lovely town in SE, South Australia. It boasts several cave formations and the most amazing blue lake. The scenery is stunning. I met a man today who used to explore the caves as a child (when they were still off limits to the public) now he owns a business conducting tours. He's a wealth of information and enthusiasm, and it's contagious! Dinner with friends was just fabulous and a late night trip to the sinkhole to feed the possums was the perfect ending.
11/06 Direct Link
I love going to church in other places that we visit. The branch in Mt Gambier is filled with lovely welcoming people who made us feel right at home. I feel as if I have been off work for a month rather than a few days. The cares of October have lost their hold and gently slipped away and I'm a renewed woman! Even better, I have another whole week before I need to go back to work and things planned for every day. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed! What an incredible difference a few days can make!
11/07 Direct Link
A friend was kind enough to look after Master 3 today, and we decided to go exploring. The Lavender Farm at Lyndoch was enchanting. We spent an idyllic half an hour looking out over amazing countryside accompanied by a frill necked lizard who claimed a patch of sunlight. His company reduced us to gentle whispers and added to the idyllic peace. Then after a sumptuous lunch including lavender cheese and lavender bread, we headed to the Iris farm at One Tree Hill. They have over 150 varieties of Iris's. The colours are stunning. I even got a white geranium cutting!
11/08 Direct Link
Today Master 3 accompanied us to Monarto Zoo. It's an amazing experience to drive through and see animals roaming free. Master 3 was particularly taken with the ri-ossisuss and spent a considerable amount of time demontrating that it has 2 horms grandma! He squealed with delight as the giraffe's came over to feed, but was disappointed they didn't want to take his carrot. Who can blame them really, it's like taking food out of a cyclone. There's no volume control on a 3 year old! He waived to the Cheetah's, giggled at the chimpanzee's and all had a wonderful time!
11/09 Direct Link
How do I describe Hahndorf? It is a feast for the senses. Imagine polished wood, pot pourri, tranquil water features, German clocks gently ticking, industry, friendly inhabitants and amazing food and you're close. I can't recount it's charm in words, it has to be experienced. It is a tonic to my soul and I spent a whole day there today. We meandered through quaint little shops filled with beautiful gifts, bought a few Christmas presents at bargain prices, enjoyed amazing food and generally had a wonderful time. Then we met a friend for dinner. Yet another perfect day!
11/10 Direct Link
We went to the zoo because that is what was planned, but none of us really had our heart in it. We're tired. Master 3 rode in a pusher shaped like a car and was generally content to just observe the world. He loved the Panda's. As they were merely a bundle of prostate fluff in the distance I found it hard to become enthused. He was mortified that there was no ri-ossussuss's, but mollifed by the kangaroos. He advised me on the way out that "next time, grandma, I want to see Koolala's"! I have my instructions!
11/11 Direct Link
We set off for Melbourne this morning. Master 3 is safely in the hands of a friend until dad comes home. There was a double fatality on the Duke's Highway which resulted in a 300km detour and significantly added to our trip, but the day was bright and sunny, the company of a dear friend delightful, and I enjoyed every single moment.

I had the unenviable experience of the hook turn in the city. Turning right from a left hand lane isn't my idea of fun, but we made it!

The little chinese restaurant we chose for dinner was inspiring.
11/12 Direct Link
Melbourne is a city full of surprises. Just when you think you've seen everything in the street, you turn a corner and find yourself in a lane way filled with the tantilizing aroma's of 4 or 5 restaurants, and amazing little shops. Every nook and cranny is utilized and all adds to the charm and novelty of the city. I could become used to this very easily. The shopping is amazing and I came away with much more than I had planned. On the up side, my Christmas shopping is almost complete and all for bargain prices. Another fab day!
11/13 Direct Link
Every time I see you, I'm inspired. You're the perfect companion. Comfortable to be with, a perfect conversationalist for me, with an enthusiasm for life that is contagious. I count you among my blessings! The renewal of our friendship has been one of the very best things that has happened in my life. I looked at the city in a whole new light. You have that effect you know - helping people see things from a new viewpoint. But the very best thing was the inspiration you imparted to a tired soul, whose had a really tough time! Thank you. 
11/14 Direct Link
We visited the King Tutenkamen exhibition on the weekend and I had the strangest experience. This man was buried in at least 4 different coffins, one inside the other, then was further protected by at least another 3 stone and metal boxes to protect him. He clearly did not want to be disturbed. So what did we do? We ignored it all and violated not only his last resting place but also his body in our greed and for curiosity. The pieces were stunning but I felt as if I had intruded and was extremely uncomfortable. Not something I'll repeat.
11/15 Direct Link
I'm back at work with my hands firmly upon the reigns. My reliever has informed me that my job is manic, completely unachievable and vowed never to return. As she only did a fraction of my job, I'm left wondering exactly what it is that other people do, and why this is so far from the norm. I've been greeted by old friends, who are grateful to have me back, resolving the things that had to wait,and I have a sense of accomplishment and purpose. There are many unemployed and I'm thankful for my lot, atleast for today!
11/16 Direct Link
I'd forgotten how many spot fires I put out in a day. That's the fun part of my job. I get a real buzz out of solving problems. I thought everybody did it, and wasn't a big deal, but I've come back to so many spot fires that perhaps I should rethink slightly. It's mostly in the way you treat people. There is such a difference between dismissing someone and a response that says, this is obviously really important to you, please help me understand. The outcome might not be altered but the approach makes a world of difference!
11/17 Direct Link

I'm usually a very positive and upbeat person, but every now and again I have a black day where I want to stay in bed, put my head under the covers and not surface until at least the next day. I know that challenges make you stronger and build character, but some days, I don't want to be strong or build my character. I want to run away and hide. I want ease, peace and harmony, even if it comes at the cost of lack of growth. Some days growing hurts too much. Today is definately one of those days.  

11/18 Direct Link
My life feels like a roller coaster. My natural optimism eventually wins through but there are days when not even optimism can pierce the sadness of the current trials. Master 3 has been with us for 10 weeks now. His mother should be ashamed of the way she has treated him. And yet, in a few short days his father will attend family court and it is very likely that he will be made to return him. My heart aches for them both and for the injustice. Despite my best efforts, today feels impenetrably black and sad.   
11/19 Direct Link
I have spent the day pretending to study. It's strange how when the family are all around I long for silence, but when the house is empty it feels so strange I can't concentrate. To help, I've now devised a tick list for all the tasks I need to achieve within the week. The hope is that it will keep me focussed.

I spent tonight with friends watching Pursuit of Happyness. Some have suggested that this is a really sad movie, but I find it inspiring! What an incredible example of courage, determination and optimism. What a legacy to leave!
11/20 Direct Link
Sunday is one of my favourite days and today was filled with good friends that were an emotional balm (and I've really needed an emotional balm just lately). After church we took a drive to visit my friend's father's grave. That may sound morbid, but it was a beautiful day and she just wanted to make sure all was well. The sunshine, gentle breeze and thoughtful conversation was very soothing. The trip was a comedy of errors as my friend mixed up the name of the town we were to go to reasoning they both began with a "W"!
11/21 Direct Link
Just when you think you know someone they say something that surprises you and you realise you only "know" what they allow. I spoke with a couple last night who I love and respect very much. He had a stroke some time ago. We talked about how it's hard to see progress, and I realised, just like the rest of us, he is imperfect and human. He has no magic formula either, although he certainly has determination, integrity and courage! Progress is achieved by one little determined step in front of the other for most of us!
11/22 Direct Link
The first court hearing is tomorrow and I'm so nervous for him. Master 3 is so much happier now he is with us. It would be heartbreaking to have to send him back to his mother again. The day has been filled with nervous energy as I have tried in vain to put my anxiety about this aside and get on with my day. At lunch time I went to the place of prayer and spent some time quietly reflecting. It was a good move and the afternoon passed a little easier. Please, please, please let the judge be wise.
11/23 Direct Link
After speaking with a good friend last night I felt calmer. He just let me talk (and talk and talk and talk). It's been a long time since I just blurted and I really needed to.

The court appearance went well. Master 3 is with us for at least a little longer. The judge was wise, if cautious. Access is to try to be negotiated and a response to the evil allegations to be prepared. Mediation next week and then another court appearance the week after. I am heartened that all is not filled with gloom. He's just too precious.
11/24 Direct Link
We've all just taken a huge sigh of relief today and settled. It has been good to have one day where my anxiety levels haven't been through the roof. It might be very different next week but for today all is ok. I've learnt to be grateful for the moments because the path is always going to be turbulent. This has caused us both to take a look at things and make some changes. I need to trust more in my faith and pray more. It's time to draw near to the supports that we have to give us strength.
11/25 Direct Link
And so the negotiations for access commence. We've had a few weeks of relative peace and I'd forgotten how persistent she can be.  After the first fifteen phone calls I felt the usual knot in my stomach return. I've lost my endurance for this stuff. It doesn't seem to matter what he offers she wants more. This time, he's not giving in and I'm so glad. There are boundaries she needs to respect. You can't have a three year old in your care with a violent boyfriend and drunken fights, and supervised access needs to occur until it's safe.
11/26 Direct Link
I'll give her this much - she's tenacious. Abusive, unreasonable and unbelievably angry, but tenacious. On the other hand I'm proud of him, he's being calm, consequential and firm. He needs to be. This little man has had enough. He's not only speaking with her, but she keeps ringing her family and telling them lies. Our phone has not stopped all night. So much for trying to study. There are some days where I just want it all to go away. Today is one of them. But tomorrow will be different. It may not be easier, but it will be different.
11/27 Direct Link
Finally - access occurred, and apart from one hissy fit today all went reasonably well. His brother, who she reports has never bonded with his dad, was delighted not only to come to access but also to come back and play for a while. Strange that! His face lit up as he was reunited with us and the lies became transparent. Her behaviour is truly evil, but I have faith that in the end truth will prevail. She will be caught out and one day she will realy understand and be sorry. I hope it is soon for everyone's sakes. 
11/28 Direct Link
My uncle passed away today. Although we didn't speak often and he had been unwell, I feel as if another rock of stability has been taken away. I don't really know how to describe it other than to say that just the knowledge that he was there was comforting. There was normalicy and it was comfortable. Like a pair of old and loved slippers. I mean no disrespect and I'm not putting this well. I will miss him. Goodbye's are not forever . Death is not the enemy, but a means of returning us to a kind and loving Heavenly Father.
11/29 Direct Link
Yesterday I needed a quiet day to regroup with lots of hugs. A day with Master 3 was just the tonic I needed. It's hard being so far away and I have a longing to go home and be with my family in the UK. That is just not possible while we have Master 3 with us. It's ok, it's a very small sacrifice to make, but I am sad today. We played and hugged and played some more. In between time we looked at Christmas lights, waved at Santa and pretended to do some Christmas shopping. A good day.
11/30 Direct Link
November started off being just the tonic that I needed. After a wonderful couple of weeks relaxing and spending time with people who are precious to me, I returned to work feeling renewed and refreshed. Two weeks later I'm feeling a tad battered again. There will have been one mediation session and two court appearances for custody by the end of next week, my uncle passed away, work is fast becoming feral again and the demands of study are ever present. But, for all that, I've grown throughout this month and I'm thankful for that. No pain, no gain!