Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Life-Rhythms That Never Change

I have been making school lunches for 15 years.  Fifteen years of getting up before the kids and getting their sandwiches made in the peace of a silent early-morning house.  When Miss Sunshine was in Prep (first year of school here) I remember getting six months and thinking "I'm going to be making school lunches for the rest of my life".  Well...15 years down the track I only have another three to go before they're all finished school.  That just seems a little bit wrong!

I was making lunches this week for the two still at school.  There are so many days when I really wish this wasn't part of the every-day deal, yet this week I found a small measure of comfort that there is in something that is constant in your life when everything else is changing.  Even when your lunch-making routines change slowly, they are still there.

Our lunches right now consist of wholegrain wraps (from Aldi) topped with Chipotle aioli (from Costco), grated cheese, sliced chicken and mixed salad leaves.  They get rolled, chopped in half and boxed in Tupperware sandwiches boxes.  I have a stack of these and the kids have two colours each to claim as theirs.  They know which one to pick up when they pack their bags.  I put the grated cheese directly on whatever the mayo is at the time, because the cheese sticks and doesn't fall out.  It was a whole thing!  Cheese falling out just doesn't work that great.

On the days when there is nothing left to make wraps with, or I lose the plot and refuse to make another wrap for the week I head down to the bakery and buy Hawaiian pizza rolls or some other savoury scroll thing.

Monday, 17 August 2015

IF Equip study on Nehemiah....

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I have been using IF Equip for my morning devotions for a few months now, and I love it.  All the other daily devotionals I've used seem to have a focus on the commentary of the writer, rather than the passage of Scripture being considered.  IF Equip flips that focus so that that the Scripture is the main thing.  And the commentary is in the form of a 2-minute video clip.  Not to share stories that vaguely link to the text, but to discuss how the text is impacting their understanding of God.

I have learnt to slow down in the text and use my critical literacy skills to think more deeply about what I am reading.  I journal often.  I never used to do that.  I can dive into the comments and read others' thoughts.  Or not.  I was doing that, but I feel like my time is so limited at the moment that I've been skipping it.  Also, because I'm doing this about 12 hours after its posted I come in on the tail end when the conversation is kind of over.  Time zone issues!

I have always really struggled to figure out this daily quiet time thing.  Yet my Dad was always such a great role model.  I have found that I am a breakfast-time reader.  I will read pretty much anything in front of me during breakfast.   Because I'm a slow learner on some things I finally figured out that breakfast time was a perfect time for me to sit with the Word and ponder it.  Right now there is no one else up and about when I'm having breakfast so the house is beautifully quiet.

The study on the Book of Nehemiah ... A Call to Restore... starts on Monday.  Well.  It's Monday here now, so it starts tomorrow.  I don't know, you'll have to figure it out for your time zone.  But for me, tomorrow morning it'll be waiting in my inbox.

Join me?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Best Uni Assignment Ever

Miss Sunshine was recently invited to accept an Early Entry into her target degree from the Associate Degree she began in February.  After a flurry of early-semester withdrawals and re-enrollments she's now all settled into the big-girl version of University study and is well on her way to becoming a Prep-Year 10 teacher.  This is the result of complete indecision on her part.  Rather than choosing now, whether she wants to teach in Primary or Secondary, she's studying to be qualified in both.  She can choose where she ends up later.  I was never so uncertain.  The younger the better!

To that end she is taking up Health as one of her Secondary methods and the timing of it all is just completely brilliant.  Her semester-long assignment requires her to identify a habit that could be healthier and enacting a plan to change the habit for the better.  She decided on eating healthier.  So she has to plan our menu, help me shop (that's my two cents worth!) and then sort out who's doing what on which nights.  I just show up at the supermarket with the money and she makes the rest of it all happen.  She planned on fruit salad for some of her breakfasts, so I suggested she just make a huge container to keep in the fridge - everyone got to sneak a bit here and there through the week.  She had also planned on a roasted vegetable salad for some of her lunches - again, she made more than enough so we shared that too.

You know what?  I can't go ahead and plan or shop for this week till she's available.  Am I sad about this?  Nooooo.  Someone else planning something for me?  Yes please!

Now, if I could get her interested in sourcing some more healthy baking recipes Mr Busy would be all set and we could enjoy something sweet without adding to our winter insulation!!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

On Being Disconnected

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Life here Beyond My Picket Fence is at full tilt.  Things in the classroom are feeling more settled - for me, and for the kids.  My own kids are valiantly holding up the dinner end of the day like the complete and utter champions they are.  Despite being busy and tired and getting home later than I have ever done since.....well....ever, I am discovering there is one major downside to working full-time:  being disconnected from your people.

We had parent-teacher interviews for Miss Mischief the other night.  Year 12's have them earlier than everyone else, because they're nearly finished with their coursework for the year.  And as we sat with each of her teachers I realised how much I miss my tribe.  We had to catch up with each other before we could catch up about Miss Mischief.  I've missed that I can't just pop into the Library and chat with my very dear friend, who is the Library Tech.  And I can just have a spur-of-the-moment cuppa with my friend up the road, or have a quick five-minute chat in the car park after school.  And a weekday breakfast with my book club gals is now off the table.  I just feel a bit disconnected, and I'm not sure how to go about getting that back.  I desperately need my tribe.  They are my go-to people when things are great, and not great and everything in between.  They are the people we pop in on spontaneously when we have a couple of hours to kill.  The people we have dinner with.  The people we camp with.  The people we celebrate our family accomplishments with.  We all need a tribe to belong to.  We have had a period of time when we were practically tribe-less and it was a pretty lonely kind of place to be.

But how does one keep connected to their tribe when their days are full in a place that is away from their tribe?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

That Was Yesterday...Tales from the classroom.

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The photograph of my classroom, from yesterday, was a little premature.  I have, with the heaviest of heart, changed the desks around so that they are in rows facing the whiteboard.  I hate the stark, old-fashioned-ness of it.  I hate everything it communicates to my students about education.  But it seems my students are not quite ready for the responsibility that comes with being able to interact with their peers quite so readily.  The hard part is that it's only a large handful of boys that are causing the problems.  But I have this strong belief that everyone has the right to learn, and I need to protect others' rights.

Don't get me wrong, my students are amazing young people, and I adore them.  I just don't adore all of the behaviours I'm seeing.  Like calling out across the room, cutting up erasers and throwing them about, interrupting and not listening to others.  See?  My list of complaints is relatively mild.  But they do need to be handled.

On the positive side I have the most delightfully, hilarious conversation with one of my cherubs straight after lunch today:

Student:  Can I please go to the toilet?
Me:  We just came in from lunch.  Shouldn't you go at lunch time?
Student:  Wellll....yessss.....
Me:  So, tell me why I should let you go?
Student:  Well, actually I left my lunch box outside and I need to get it, but I thought you would think that was a silly reason.  I thought going to the toilet was more sensible.
Me:  Next time how about you just tell me the truth?  Tomorrow, you need to go to the toilet during lunch time, and if you need to get something you left outside, let me know and we'll deal with that?
Student:  OK.  Thank you Mrs --

I'm still giggling to myself.  Which is just as well, because tomorrow morning will begin with a very serious conversation about behaviour.

And tonight dinner occurred without my input, and there were smiles involved.  Lots of smiles.  Mine.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Of working, mothering and teaching

My Classroom

Week One of the term has come and gone and we have all managed to survive successfully.  Me, my students and my family.  We're all still alive!

Best thing?  My students are completely awesome.  My most challenging student gifted me with a two-day honeymoon to get me settled before he began letting me see his real self.  I've managed to get them coming into class in the morning much more quietly and more settled.  They are learning to control their in-class chatter and they have mostly decided I'm not as mean as I tell them I am.  Until I keep them in for talking when they shouldn't.  Then they kinda believe me.  I still can't get them to leave the room in a hurry though.  They want to hang about and chat!

Hardest thing?  Getting all that planning done.  And cooking dinner when I get home.  Miss Sunshine cooked three nights last week.   A beautiful, precious gift for this acts-of-service gal.  We went out the other two.  Bad!  Not sustainable.  I've talked with the kids and explained how hard this full time thing is when it comes to cooking and they are content to be on board with making meals throughout the week.  I get the weekend :)  And I've suggested to Dh that perhaps he needs to learn to cook.  He offered...but when I asked him how many questions I would need to answer he just looked at me.  I was too tired to answer questions!

I'm all set for the coming week.  Hopefully the tech guy will come and sort out things like showing me how the interactive pen for my data projector works, and showing me why I can't print...and getting some of my kids' iPads back on the internet.  And fixing my email signature, which I broke.  Note to self:  trust that it's working and don't fiddle!!!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Second Hand Magazine Gift...and then some

A friend at church handed me a big brown paper last week.

A stack of second hand magazines....all tied in a pretty bow
Biscuits (cookies)
Jarrah coffees
A note telling me to put my feet up

It made me think:  this is exactly 100% how second hand magazines should be handed on.  I was completely blown away by her thoughtfulness and the special added little things that made reading these so much more special.

Especially after my first week of working full time in over 19 years.  There weren't even any students yet and I was completely laid-out-exhausted by Thursday!  In a good kind of way.