Grief is a bitch.

I hate grief. With no "obvious" loss, I often fight it, because I refuse to understand that you can grieve for losses other than death. Does it scare you that I was a social worker and supervisor of 70 counsellors, for many years, too? I know these things, logically, yet I fight it.

Ever tried to fight grief? Not a smart move. Grief is coming, whether you acknowledge it and deal with it, or not. The peril of ignoring it is that it will hit harder. More impact, more force, more hell. The dilemma, with keeping your head in the sand for months on end, is that with other life stressors in the mix, you may find yourself tipped over the edge by something minute, and suddenly there is a black hole you can't get out of.

I have spent the last 10 months with my head firmly planted in the sand. I could not look acknowledge that my best friend and mum, had cancer. Was going through chemo. The fears that it will come back, that this all even happened, the emotions have been far too big to process. When they started, the depth would terrify me and I would shut them down. You can imagine that when you build a dam like that, the crack and outpour is always going to be inevitable, and far more destructive than an orderly stream.

So, I guess it all caught up. I've had 3 (interrupted) hours of sleep and I have cried myself inside out and back again. I have faced that demon, I've spent those hours in the blackest of hell, and the darkest of grief, and, thanks to a couple of understanding, forgiving and kind friends, I'm up again (Thank you Megs & Phil). I am beyond exhausted. I feel like sleeping for at least a week.

The upside is that from now on, it can only get better from here. Right???

This weeks BFL picks

Miami vs. Carolina
Washington vs. Dallas
Cleveland vs. Detroit
San Francisco vs. Green Bay
Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City
Seattle vs. Minnesota
Atlanta vs. New York Giants
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay
Buffalo vs. Jacksonville
Indianapolis vs. Baltimore
Arizona vs. St. Louis
San Diego vs. Denver
Cincinnati vs. Oakland
New York Jets vs. New England
Philadelphia vs. Chicago

Monday Night Game
Tennessee vs. Houston

Combined MNF Score = 35

BFL picks week 10

Chicago vs. San Francisco
Denver vs. Washington
Atlanta vs. Carolina New Orleans vs. St. Louis
Tampa Bay vs. Miami
Detroit vs. Minnesota
Jacksonville vs. New York Jets
Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh
Buffalo vs. Tennessee Kansas City vs. Oakland
Dallas vs. Green Bay
Philadelphia vs. San Diego
Arizona vs. Seattle
New England vs. Indianapolis

Monday Night
Baltimore vs. Cleveland

Tie Breaker: 35

School dilemmas

At the moment, Finn goes to a slightly alternative school, independent. Initially, and up until the past 12 months or so, we raved about the place. Finn went from being clingy and shy to confident and whilst still reserved, certainly more outgoing than he once was. We accredited it to the school.

Currently cynical self says it would have happened regardless of where the socialisation took place. The fees have been jumped up enormously beginning next year, to close to $8000 a year. For primary education. That is part of the problem, they keep going up, well over triple what they were when we started at the school. How we will send 2 kids there is another problem... But, to us, it has always been that education is the best investment we can make in the kids future, so we paid it.

Lately, it feels the advantage we felt we were getting from the school over public, cheaper schools is slipping, especially when you consider what we are paying for that ever diminishing gap. But even aside from the cost, there are other concerns we are having that have me seriously questioning where he ought to be going. Initially, the school was full of these amazing teachers. Really passionate, believed in the philosophies and the kids and it was inspiring. I was excited to have them in Finns life. In the last 12 months, every single one of them has moved on. The ones left I either do not know, or am indifferent to (and in a couple of cases, not a fan of at all!) This alarms me. I wish I knew why these teachers had gone. What is going on??

The staff-child ration is excellent there, that is one thing we definitely pay for. I think in a class of 22 at its most busy (some are half day kids) there are 3 teachers. When it is just the full time kids, it is 1-2 teachers for no more than a dozen kids. Awesome.

But, I am disillusioned. Many of the families have decided to part ways with the school at the last fee rise as well, they have moved on, or are doing so at the school years end. Finn came home wanting to change schools as well (I am yet to know if there is genuine basis for his request or the general fear of change and that many of the others are going).

One family suggested to me, that 8k goes a long way elsewhere, as well. A cheaper school, an annual museum membership and zoo pass, a holiday, an after school activity - all excellent additions to a school curriculum that would still add value to the education experience. That makes a fair point, but it doesn't quite convince me.

I don't know. Finn is very sensitive, anxious... doesn't deal well with things outside his comfort zone. I thought the school dealt well with that, but lately, wonder... They seem to joke about it to me (almost patronising, or eye rolling about it) and publicly have said (in front of other parents) how they had to prepare Finn for this or that change because 'that's what he needs chuckle chuckle' eyerolly. I don't really like or agree with that. It bugs me. Yes he does, but so what?

He has a change at years end, every 3 years, class changes (not every year at this school) and this is one such moment. I feel now is a good time to move if we are going to, but I don't I wish to rush it either. We have to give 12 weeks notice (or one terms, not sure which) to get our 1k "acceptance fee" back.

I have feelers out, we may go visit one or two other schools in the area and suss them out, see what the vibe is. I want to feel I have options and not stick with this if it no longer works or is not worth the sacrifices we make to be there.

It feels yucky, I am so worried if we move him it will be the wrong decision, and so worried if we don't for the same thing. I used to be so confident in that place, so sure it was right for Finn and for us, the doubts and disappointment are a surprise, and a stress. I don't really know what to do next.

BFL picks w9

Houston @ Indianapolis

Washington @ Atlanta

Arizona @ Chicago

Baltimore @ Cincinnati

Miami @ New England

Green Bay @ Tampa Bay

Kansas City @ Jacksonville

Detroit @ Seattle

Carolina @ New Orleans

San Diego @ NY Giants
Tennessee @ San Francisco

Dallas @ Philadelphia

Monday Night

Pittsburgh @ Denver

Combined MNF Score = 48

Melbourne Cup Day!

I can't gamble. I suck at it. So much so, that when I signed up for my online betting account today, I placed my bets, then had no idea how to log back in. I had to call them and get advice.. Oh yeah I am a gambler, TOTALLY.

This is the one day a year I indulge my little gambling fetish, actually, most years I don't even place real bets, I just love looking at the form guide and picking a horse each race and imagining what I could have won. Usually I am well in the red... As I said, I suck at gambling.

But the Melbourne Cup is huge in Australia. They call it the race that stops a nation, because it pretty much does, for those 10 minutes, everyone is eye on TV or ear on radio. It's exciting, you get caught up in it, then you remember you picked based on a funny name or pretty jockey colors and you realise you're not cut out for it at all...

Still, good fun. I placed a few bets, will this be my year?!

ETA: So I won my money back. Coulda been worse than even... It'll do!

We don't do Halloween!!! #savethejackalanta

Or so I thought.

I have long been one of those who drones on and on about how annoying it is that Halloween is always celebrated by a handful of Australians. It is simply another commercialised thing that has no meaning to us, that some have adopted, mostly because of media and marketing. It annoys me. I also used to go on about how Americanised we are becoming in general.

So each Halloween I grumble this same grumble, though if children DO come knocking, I give them a treat. I have had ONE trick or treater each year. ONE. No one that I know celebrates it, and a poll done on a site I use recently showed that 93% of 95 respondents do not celebrate Halloween at all. Reasons? We are not America (apparently we blame you guys for this one wholly and solely) and we are too nervous about sending our kids in search of lollies (candy! LOL) from strangers (!!)

Personally, I think if you feel like that, rather than ban the whole idea, why not use it as a teaching opportunity for the kids about that stuff, its a great chance to explore the whole thing!

ANYHOO. Irrelevant. What happened was that Finn came home this week beyond excitement because Saturday was Halloween! We can go trick or treating and I can do a jacklanta (Jack-O-Lantern)! he exclaimed.

Umm... Dude, we don't DO Halloween. Well, let me say, my kid doesn't take no for an answer easily. He made his own decorations (a witch with braces!) and would not let it drop. So, I caved.

Only, it was not that easy. Let me say again for the cheap seats - Halloween is just not a thing in Australia. So where the hell was I going to find Halloweeny stuff?! I manages to scrape up a costume and a couple of decorations, but I could not find a bloody jackalanta anywhere. These things are totally endangered in this country - #savethejackalantas.

So, plan B - we will papier mache one, i decided. No balloons in the house. Of course. And we are pushing it for dry time as it is! So... we find one we got from school the other day (I am the half deflated helium KILLER again, bonus!) and mache "Joe the balloon" we did. Was good fun too!

Halloween day, J found some more decorations and went a little (A LOT) overboard, but Finn loved it. That night though, right around Trick Or Treat time, it started to rain. And NO ONE was coming by. Finn dressed up, sat in the garage, and waited with his treats, eager to hand them out generously. Telling me how many each visitor could have, and eager as they come. I started to fret.

All hail the joy of the SMS - A friend from school said her daughter was as keen as Finn and if we wanted to come around they had a jackalanta. FOR RLZ. Score!!! Thank god, because we had no treaters at our door at all all night, but once at their place, a few came by and Finn was able to dish out the treats - in his element. Katarina's Dad also went next door and gave them chocolates so that the kids could then go over and have their own trick or treat experience as well. Of course, then he saw the real deal jackalanta - oh my goodness he was so excited. Meanwhile those lovely, generous American twitterfolk were as keen for him to experience Halloween as he was, so excited was multiplied as the pics of jackalantas and dressed up kiddies came a steaming on the twitpics. Finn was in heaven!

Mission accomplished. One successful Halloween in Australia. I just hope he doesn't come home next week and ask what we are doing for Thanksgiving!!!