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BY Amanda

12/01 Direct Link
Christmas is coming, the weather is getting warmer. Watermelon and stone fruit are coming into season. We've already started on our first ham (one of a number before the holiday season is finished, I predict). Master 3 and I take a drive most nights to look at the Christmas lights and then he drops peacefully off to sleep in the car, before I tuck him up in his Thomas the Tank Engine sheets, with pictures of his visit to Monarto Zoo on his bedroom walls. I love Christmas. Sharing it with him is making it even more special this year.†
12/02 Direct Link
It seems to have been the week for sad news.†A young man that I taught some time ago became deeply disturbed when his fiance' broke up with him. When he found that she had†commenced a new relationship almost immediately, it all became too much for him. Now his†family and to a lesser degree those of us who knew him†are stunned by the news of the murder/suicide. I find myself staring into space and thinking, not him, they must have the name wrong. This must be a horrible mistake. Sadly it isn't.
12/03 Direct Link

There is a growing pile of work to do, but I have no heart for it today. So, instead, I finished off my Christmas shopping. For me, it isn't about retail therapy, it's about finding the perfect gift, no matter how inexpensive, that says "you're special and I love you". We need to say that to each other much more often. Too often we criticise, feel obliged to say what is on our mind, to put another person straight, but we hesitate to say the things that make the most difference. Thank you, I love you, Well done, You're special.

12/04 Direct Link
It has been a very good day today. I put the Christmas tree up and al the decorations. Master 3 went out with dad for a while, so it was a wonderful surprise when he returned home. I'm exhausted, but happy. The look of wonder on his face was worth every single second and every aching muscle. The house is a picture of twinkling lights, Santa, Snowmen, candles and ofcourse in pride of place the Nativity Scene. For all the wonder and magic of Christmas that the other things bring, the real magic was the sacred gift of a son.
12/05 Direct Link
Tomorrow is the court case and I'm trying to be focussed, but I'm a bundle of nerves. Oh, I hope this goes well. This little man is so precious and he needs to be with his dad. I've prayed continually that the judge will be wise and†that Master 3 will be able to stay. Mostly though, I've prayed for the strength to accept what will be†and the faith to believe that in the end all will be for the best. God isn't like Santa Claus where you give him a shopping list of blessings you want.
12/06 Direct Link
I am not a pessimistic person. Really, I'm not. I see the positive side of most things, but I find people who refuse to acknoweldge tough times in an effort to appear upbeat frustrating and annoying. Some days, there just isn't a positive to a situation. It's just crap and that's all there is to it. The next day might be better. No one is suggesting that you need to wallow, but let's be real. Let's tell it like it is. There is a great strength to be obtained from mourning with those that mourn - for both people. Be real!!!
12/07 Direct Link
Failure to receive a blessing prayed for does not mean that God loves us any less, anymore than a no from a parent means that they don't care. It means that although†there is a reason, we just can't see it yet. We may never see it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The court case did not go well and Master 3 has returned to live with his mother. His father is devestated, and our lives feel as if they have been turned upside down and our hearts wrenched. But we will learn and grow from this.
12/08 Direct Link
I'm learning to practice what I preach, that faith in God is not faith in outcomes, it's faith in God. He exists no matter what the outcome of my life's challenges or situations. I'm also learning that sadly it's often socially unacceptable to proclaim a belief and a faith in God. It's more acceptable to swear or be dishonest. That's sad. What happened to our society? Anyway - I'm also learning that it's okay to be different and that standing for what I believe in is more important than social acceptance. I'm not planning to be fanatical, but hiding it's wrong.
12/09 Direct Link
Friday - the end of a very loooong and stressful week. I'm enjoying immersing myself back into study. Even though it makes life manic it is also a welcome diversion to the madness around me at the moment. As the old saying goes, when you are up to your armpits in aligators, it's hard to remember your task was to drain the swamp. Life has felt like that lately - it's easy to lose focus. Study is helping me to take my eyes off the moment and regain focus. This will all pass and become the subject of reminisces in the future.†
12/10 Direct Link
It's 2 weeks until Christmas, and every time I think I've finished -†gifts purchased, menu planned, calendar full - I realise that there's something else I've forgotten. Time is running away from me. I need another couple of months to be ready fro Christmas this year†and it's time I don't have. I have two assignments due in the next couple of days and so whatever extra preparations Christmas needs will have to wait until next weekend. My family pays a price for my schedule, there are lots of things we no longer do, but Superwoman is a myth.
12/11 Direct Link
We have a special presentation at Church next week for Christmas, and in true last minute fashion I'm preparing it now. Luckily I've learned to do things quickly to achieve deadlines and it will take them as long to present this programme as it will take me to write it (less than an hour). I could make it more complex, but fortunately†the Christmas story has the beauty of simplicity and complexity would be unnecessary. I have decided that we will approach it from a slightly different angle though and look at it through the eyes of those involved.
12/12 Direct Link
Our Christmas presentation has got me thinking. I wonder how Mary felt carrying and raising Jesus. I wonder how Joseph felt knowing the incredible task he had ahead. I wonder what it would have been like to be a shepherd and see the new star appear, and then to see an angel telling you that the son of God had been born. What would it have been like to look at that tiny babe, lying among the animals on a bed of straw, and know he was very different to other children? I wonder if the Innkeeper had any idea?
12/13 Direct Link
Today was our planning day at work. That means everyone else gets to sit around and chat while I run around trying to make sure everything runs smoothly. In the afternoon, just to make life a little more interesting, I get to minute a 4-hour meeting. Oh yay!!! No matter how organized I am, and I'm pretty organized these days, I still end up exhausted at the close of day. Add to that Christmas preparations and study and you have an interesting day to say the least. I predict it will take a couple of weeks to bounce back.
12/14 Direct Link
We didnt do a Variety Performance this year, I just couldn't fit it in. But, we did collect gifts and money for some families identified by the Salvo's. It wasnt particularly hard work, I just sent an email out to all staff inviting them to participate, and then generally coordinated things. The interesting thing is that - in general - those who are really well off are not those who contributed. Those who contributed are nurses, interns and clerical staff, all who earn significantly less than specialists. I'm not juding anyone, there was no requirement to be involved, but it's interesting nevertheless.
12/15 Direct Link
I didn't realise how much I would miss Master Three. I have diary entries about commitments his carer had that we needed to work around and they are a bitter reminder he is no longer living with us. It's really sad. As much as his three year old temper tantrums were a little challenging at times, strangely, I miss them. I miss tucking him into bed at night and singing him songs. I even miss reading the same story over ten times so that he can dodge bedtime. We still see him on the weekend, but it's not the same.
12/16 Direct Link
I'm living that familiar battle between allocating time†with family and time spent in study. With Christmas looming there are a†whole lot more commitments for family traditions than there are usually, and I struggle†to achieve the balancing act without them! With them - frankly it's scary.†I've toned it down, and frankly if it were just up to me I'd be†happy to eat a piece of chicken and watch a Christmas movie for a couple of hours and then study. But, it isn't just me and traditions are important for the others. †
12/17 Direct Link
The least I can do is try to provide some normalicy in this nightmare.†With that in mind, I've spent the day baking mince pies and shortbread. Tomorrow Master Three and his dad will deliver them to the neighbours and wish them a Merry Christmas. It will help him think of others and change his perspective a little. As we help others our own problems seem to diminish. As we talk to others we realise we're not alone and everyone has challenges. The Christmas spirit is the spirit of caring, empathy and kindness and it makes everyone feel good.
12/18 Direct Link
Happy Birthday sweetheart. I find it hard to conceive that the man that stands before me now was once a babe in arms. My baby.† You're now a wonderful man, someone I'm very proud of. Where has the time gone? It doesn't seem that long ago. You were a baby, I blinked and it was your first day of school, another blink and you've finished high school, another and the madness of the teenage years has finally gone, another†and you're a dad holding your own son in your arms. I wonder what the next blink will bring!†
12/19 Direct Link
"Six more sleeps until Santa comes", Master Eight tells me confidently. When I ask if he has been good, he hesitates just long enough to let me know he's taking my question seriously. "I think so" is his reply. We agree that just to be absolutely sure he should be extra good for the next few days. Santa still accepts the equivalent of death-bed repentance! Given the life he's had, he should be given a 20-foot tall tree loaded with gifts every week for the rest of his life. But he'll be happy with Santa's yearly†visit. †
12/20 Direct Link

Over the weekend I submitted two assignments. That was no small feat and I'm proud of myself. It was hard work and I've done my best. At least, I've done my best on one and done enough on the other to pass, which is all I need to do. Tonight the industry of Christmas preparations again takes precidence and I make 4kg of sweet potato salad for the Christmas party at work tomorrow. It's no wonder we all commit to dieting at the beginning of a new year. I feel like I shan't want to see food again until 2013!

12/21 Direct Link
It amazes me that people think that because I'm in admin I have copious amounts of time to slot other things in to my working day. No one would dream of suggesting that the doctors†spend time coordinating Kris Kringle, preparing food or organizing the Christmas party, and yet they somehow expect the nrusing and clerical staff to magically squeeze it in! We have some amazing nursing staff, but again, they assume that what they can't fit in, we will - because of course - they're busy and what they do is important! Hmmmmm - Christmas is a time to learn patience!
12/22 Direct Link
As she stood behind me in the queue, huffing, shuffling from foot to foot and snorting impatiently while the cashier became more and more nervous, I resisted the impulse to proclaim Tis the season to be JOLLY! Seriously, if you're in a rush, don't go shopping on the last two shopping days before Christmas in the middle of the day! That's just†dumb!!! And if you do have to, for some unplanned reason, please have the courtesy to wait patiently like the rest of us and not intimidate the check out operator. Your lack of planning is not her fault.
12/23 Direct Link
Yay! I get a whole 5 nights and 4 days off and the thought is pretty euphoric! I've been so blessed today. So many people have popped by to hand me a Christmas card or wish me a Merry Christmas, some even shyly handed me a very unexpected gift. For all the grumbling I do about them, they are dear to me. I will miss them when I leave, and hopefully, for a little while, they will remember me. I don't have any firm plans yet, but a move is certainly on the cards. 2012 will be an interesting year.
12/24 Direct Link
It's Christmas eve and for the first time I'm actually feeling the Christmas spirit. I've worked so hard this year I think fatigue was overshadowing everything else. Today I just immersed myself in Christmas preparations and didn't stress about anything else. I played carols and sang along as I†wrapped the rest of the gifts. I did some preparations for tomorrow, bought another turkey that was on special, decorated the alcove at the†front of the house and then visited Miss Three and Master Two. It was a fun day. Now we're ready for Santa. I've been good.
12/25 Direct Link

Merry Christmas my fellow 100word'ers. Whether you're a regular, a newcomer or have just happened upon the website, my wish remains the same - that you have the very merriest of Christmas's. I hope your day is filled with peace, merriment and love, and send good wishes I hope you can feel. I hope that you will be able to look back on 2011 with fond memories, and that the good times will be infinitely more prominent than the bad. I hope that life has been kind to you this year and will be kinder next year. Merry Christmas to all.

12/26 Direct Link
My day was filled with family and friends. Once again the house was full, but sadly, instead of being grateful, I found myself wishing for some quiet time. I fear I was not good company. My spirits were revived by a drive to the beach, where I quietly watched the sunset and marvelled once again at the beauty†that is so accessible to most of us. The couple of hours of quiet time have helped me to regain my equilibrium and feel more centered again. I really needed that. Tomorrow I'll recommence study, but tonight is just for me.
12/27 Direct Link

Reality has hit again. I've prioritized well over the last couple of weeks and have wisely put my family first, but there is a consequence for all decisions and this one was no different. My workload is now so huge it's scary. I've spent the day trying to prepare a research report that I don't understand and sadly there will be no shortcuts, which means long hours, early mornings, late nights and very little down time. I need a HD for this subject and that won't happen without considerable effort. Oh well, no one made me study over summer!† †

12/28 Direct Link

The period between Christmas and New Year are traditionally clean up days at work. There aren't many people around and itís the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the filing that you've stashed away for a quiet moment (at least it is for my boss). We've spent a large part of today cleaning out her office, filing 6 months worth of paperwork and tomorrow we get to cull files. Oh yay - well I guess that's what they pay me the millions for! Is it sad that I get a sense of satisfaction when I things are finally sorted?

12/29 Direct Link

I'd like to write something profound to complete the year. Unfortunately I can't think of anything. I guess life is generally not profound or spectacular, but about hopefully doing the mundane things well - trying to remember that everyone is fighting some kind of battle and is grateful for a little tolerance. This became evident the other day when I innocently asked our canteen lady how her plans for Christmas were going and with tear-filled eyes she explained her 21 year-old son's chemotherapy regime. It reminded me that we often have no idea what someone else is going through!

12/30 Direct Link
I found myself getting lost in thoughts of "what would I do if I had a lot of money?" I'm not overly materialistic, but there's so much good that I could do. I'd obviously make sure my family were secure, but other than that, I'd love to be able to take the occasional day, go to the shopping centre and just observe people. Then I'd love to find a way to help those who are having a hard time. Random acts of kindness, such as paying for their groceries at the checkout. But, for now, I'll just have to dream. †
12/31 Direct Link
My friend is unwell and so I'm having a quiet night at home to welcome in the New Year. Master's 3 and 8 are off to a party with dad, and I will write a research report. I have mixed emotions. Part of me is thrilled to have some quiet, focussed time, the other part is resentful of†a workload that results in any "quiet time" being absorbed by study. But I am very blessed. This time next year, I will have a degree, I'll be completely out of debt and I'll have a whole summer off. Welcome 2012!