Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Season of Fasting

My favourite smoothie

Our church routinely has a season of fasting each year.  In the past it has been during Lent.  This year it is the first three weeks of October.  I've started a little early, because I have a couple of events on my calendar for which fasting just won't be practical or appropriate.  Also, the detoxing at the start is not something I wanted to do as I begin the school term next week.

And so it begins.  A season of physical restraint to see spiritual release.  I have a couple of specific areas I'll be praying about through these next few weeks.  And in the day-to-day I'll be trying to negotiate the challenges of what to eat, and having the kids cooking!

This year, unlike others where we've chosen our own fasts, our church is corporately doing the Daniel fast.  If you've read here long enough you'll know this is the fast we chose to do in the past two years.    I feel somewhat prepared.  I have quinoa and brown rice in my pantry.  There are a number of fruits with which I will make a fruit salad today.  Avocados are ripening in my fruit basket, and there are a mountain of different vegies in the fridge.  Meanwhile, I need to freeze the stock I made for the steamboat the other night and meat products that need to be frozen.  A little bit of reorganising, if you will.

Some of the things that see me through well include:

  • My favourite smoothie: almond milk (unsweetened), banana, raspberries and cinnamon
  • A very grainy sourdough toast with avocado and then topped with diced tomato & basil or cooked mushrooms
  • Fruit salad
  • Plain popcorn
  • Almonds with dried fruit
  • Vegetable curries with brown rice
  • Vegetable stir fries with brown rice or brown rice vermicelli
  • A plate of roasted & steamed veggies
  • A Mediterranean style salad made with quinoa instead of couscous
I know that legumes should probably fill a larger place in what we eat, but none of us enjoy them overly.  And certainly we don't enjoy the after-effects.  I have discovered that legumes soaked and cooked at home, and then stored in the freezer have the least impact....but we still don't enjoy them.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

On Multi Literacy and Making Tab-Its

an entirely fun way to present a whole bunch of new terminology

I had the best fun yesterday afternoon.  Something I never thought I would say during my second year of Uni, doing a unit on multi literacy.  I nearly dropped that unit to do at a later time.  I decided it wouldn't get any easier the next time around so I persisted and endured.  I nearly pulled my hair out in frustration, but I did it and even got a reasonable mark.  Even though I thought I had no idea what I was doing!

A few weeks ago I began putting together my term planner for English and realised I would have about 4-5 weeks where any work we did would not be included in our reports.  So I pulled out the multi literacy unit I was required to construct during Uni and had another look.  Four years on that unit makes perfect sense now!!!  And I am so excited to be able to include it in my term plan, and finish the term with some hard work that will be so much fun.  We will be comparing the book and the movie of "Horton Hears a Who".

I can hear you asking....what is multi literacy?  Its' basically looking at all the different elements in a text (book, movie, iPad app, website, newspaper, magazine etc) and examining how texts, images (still and moving) and sound are used together to enhance and influence meaning for the viewer.

What I know is that lots of the the technical terminology in this unit will be mind-blowing without some hands-on, fun, engaging ways to help it make sense.

Enter tab-it's.

The world of interactive notebooks and foldables has not really settled in here, yet.  But the few times I've used them in my classroom my students have loved them, so I went in search of freebie templates to put together what I needed.  I couldn't find what I was really after, but I did find enough that I figured I could make my own.  These are the things that make geeky teachers, like me, very excited....and feeling very smart!

Each booklet is printed on one sheet  of paper, and the kids cut out the pieces and glue them together along the marked-out spine.   Then they'll glue the back page into their workbooks and - voila! - we have a glossary with examples at our fingertips.  I've put in the information and the kids will draw an example in the space provided.

Without wanting to wish the term away I am super excited about getting into this unit.  It is quite hands-on, but it will fuse together my grammar and writing for the second half of the term.  And, I will have completed all of the requirements for addressing everything in the English curriculum documents.  Win!!

Once I've taught my way through this unit I may even venture into the world of selling on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I'm very good at gathering what I need from there, but have yet to dip my toe into selling.  Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Things I miss...

Chinese Steamboat last night - a roaring success!

I've been working full time for just over a year now; oh what a year it's been.  Two different schools.  Two different year levels...three actually because I currently teach a composite.  Lots of highs, lots of hard days.  Lots of learning how to do what I've been trained to do.

I think that no matter what you do for a job and no matter how much you love it and jump out of bed in the morning to get into it, there are things about what you do that aren't so fun or exciting.  In the last three weeks of last term I keeled over and crashed a bit before I really could.  I went on school camp one week, got sick the next, recovered and pushed hard to get all those end-of-term assessment tasks completed.  I have felt blanketed by heavy exhaustion.  And these things lead to some self-reflection about the things I miss, because I work full time.  Things like:

  1. Balance.  This is just the season I'm in, with a new career; one that consumes every waking moment, plus many of the non-waking ones.  Almost every thought I have is about something I haven't done, something I need to do, someone I need to follow up, finding some way to reach that kid who has that problem with that thing....It means many nights are spent curled up on the couch with my computer, never fully relaxing.
  2. Time with friends.  I dearly miss having the space to catch up with a friend during the week.  I go many, many days/weeks without having that input.  Whilst my colleagues do fill this void, it is often when rushing between this thing and the next thing.  Just not quite the same.
  3. Cooking.  I'd love to feel like I had the mental wherewithal to cook a meal at the end of the day.  At the moment the thought of making dinner causes me to lose the will to live.  And I miss those slow food meals that take time and handmade pasta or gnocchi.  Or even lasagna!  And having people over for a meal?  Oh my goodness, that feels like climbing Mt Everest!!!
  4. Time for self-care.  One thing I need to do and have been unable to figure a way forward with, is things like exercise.  My work days are long so finding time to walk, even, seems impossible.  Especially through the winter when the only time I'm at home is when its dark.  But I also don't seem to manage to get to things like doctors appointments, or taking my kids to doctors appointments, or orthodontists, or optometrists.  
The antidote?  Do all some of the things I've been missing.  As I type (Monday afternoon), we're preparing to have a Chinese steamboat with a friend from work, and her two adult children.  We share a surname, although we are completely unrelated.  Our children have adopted one another as 'cousins' and I'm sure our evening will be filled with laughter, because we all love a good laugh....and all these kids are just very funny!  Perhaps this is the antidote to the things I miss and the feeling of overwhelming and exhaustion that crouches just behind the door.

I have two pots of stock simmering delightfully.  Miss Mischief will make a mountain of wontons.  We'll lay everything out and take our friends to China, via our dinner table.  Slow food.  Good company.  Yes, I think this may just be what the doctor ordered!  So.  A little chopping now and plenty of fun later.

Edited to add:  We had a great night (see photo above!).  A fun meal, lots of laughter and chatter and shared memories with people we adore.  So good.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A Little Break

View from the front door of our cabin

It seems like, when you have kids, you never know when the last time is the last time.  Mr Busy reminded me of this when we were walking along the other day.  Our hands bumped as we walked and he remembered that once upon a time we had held hands when crossing the road.  We don't do that anymore.  He's 16 and 6 foot 3 inches.  He doesn't need me to keep him safe like that.  I never knew, the last time I held his hand to cross the road, that it would be the last time.

Since we have some baby adult kids now I am so keenly aware that we don't know when the last family holiday will be our last one together.  We've just spent three days up on the Murray River in Echuca.  Actually, Moama.  These border towns are such a thing!  We slept in NSW and spent our time in Victoria.  In any case, three days in a little cabin, in a big caravan park, but right on the riverfront.  We got to watch the Emmy Lou paddle past from time to time, and we watched the river meander by.  It was cold, so we cosied up inside with a good heater and played games and read books and watched "The West Wing" episodes (we all wish we could vote for Jed Bartlett in our federal election on Saturday).  Dh worked a fair bit, because that's what you do when you're self-employed and some of your clients are near Echuca.

But mostly we just enjoyed being able to watch the river.  There is something serene about being near slow-moving, calm water.

Banks of the Murray River - right opposite our cabin

Miss Sunshine showed me how to use the panorama function on my phone's camera.  The teacher in my just *had* to take a shot of the erosion on the river bank, since we've just been learning about that in class.  My new phone also takes a few seconds of live action, so it's been kind of fun to see what is captured when you think you're taking a still shot - like cousins heckling each other as they get into position for a photo.

I don't know how many family holidays we have left before our baby chicks start leaving the nest, but this one was delightfully relaxing.  Slow days, dark and quiet nights for good sleeping, enjoying our funny little bunch of crazies.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cousin Time and More Breakfast!

Dh's brother and family are in Melbourne from interstate this week.  Our kids adore one another and cousin time is hard to come by when they live so far from one another.  In honour of the fact that our kids are all in independent schools and are already on holidays we began the week with breakfast at a cafe.  It was local to them, yet an hour from us.  By the time we arrived I was getting a tad grumpy about the drive.  An hour!  First thing in the morning!  I'd had an apple to tide me over, but still.

All of us girls ordered waffles with poached pear and this is what arrived on our plates.  Had I known I would have shared with one of my girls.  As it turned out Mr Busy was the happy vacuum cleaner that got to eat about a whole waffle sans pear.  It was absolutely delicious!

Yesterday the six kids jumped on trains and met near the city for a day of exploring the MCG and surrounds.  Miss Mischief's public transport anxiety rose to the surface and entertained us all.  She was all back pack on and ready to walk out the door a full 45 minutes before they had to leave!  Miss Sunshine likened it to a little Preppy getting ready for their first day of school.  Anyway once I'd written out all the details, handed over the one MyKi we owned, and some money, she settled a little.

At some point through the day Miss Sunshine got tired of keeping up with the long-legged boy people and snapped this pic, saying "they have such long legs".  They're all over 6ft!

I have been in love with the combination of these three boys together all their lives.  They are smart and funny and cute and three peas in a pod.  They all still give their aunties and uncles and mums and dads hugs, even though they are big teenaged boys.  They are polite and respectful and have beautiful gentle hearts.  This is teenaged kids at its very best.  I adore them.

We're all having dinner tonight.  The big, crazy bunch that is Dh's side of the family.  I can't wait to see this bunch of cousins together with a couple of the older ones as well.  They are completely delightful and entertaining in the best possible way.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Working Full Time - A Year In Review

Image Credit
A whole year has whisked its way through my life since I started working full time.  It's one of those strange phenomenon, where the days seem long but the year passes in the blink of an eye!

This time last year I was eagerly preparing myself to teach in a school where I didn't know anyone and not one of my students was familiar to me.  In short order I fell in love with that quirky, funny class.  And then six months later I left, since I only had a short term contract.  This year I am teaching in the school where I worked before I got my degree; the school my children attend(ed).  I knew all my students before I entered my classroom, some of them before they were even born!  I even get to teach my niece.  Along with all the lessons I'm learning about how to be the best teacher I can be, I've learned a lot of lessons about being a Mum who works full time as well.

1.  You can't do it all.
I've always known this.  Working part time and studying was a hard gig.  But I was home almost straight after school and I had time each week to weave in things that I enjoyed.  These days I'm not at home for about 10 hours a day.  I can't do all the things I wish I could.  At the start of the year I decided not to even pretend to try.  I have a good friend whom I pay to clean our house.  My kids cook lots of meals.  The girls help with ferrying Mr Busy to middle-of-the-day destinations, like his VET course on a Wednesday.  I choose not to feel guilty about any of those things.  

2.  Know the season you're in and respond appropriately.
I know that my current season is not an easy one.  Learning a new job, learning to do that in two different school cultures in one year, learning how to juggle motherhood with working life.  It's a big learning curve.  Working full time with a family is so different to working full time before having children.  In this season it means lots of self-protection.  Our weekends are fairly quiet and we don't do a lot of entertaining.  I sleep a lot on the weekends.  I am very careful about what I commit to.  I look forward to my work life being more seamless and streamlined than it is right now, but I know that is not my current season.

3.  Work/Life balance is a myth.
Because I can clearly identify my season and how I need to respond appropriately I am not overly concerned about the fact that my life is quite unbalanced at present.  My work takes more of my time than I would like it to, but it's part of learning how to do what I do now.  I was chatting with my BIL yesterday morning and he agreed - we need to make sure what we do aligns with what we believe is important.  I am content that my life exhibits that alignment.  I am committed to doing my job well.  I am committed to being in community within my church community.  And of course, being a mother means family is always a high committment.  My life is not and does not look balanced.  But it is totally aligned with what's important to me.

I am so grateful to have had 13 years at home with my children, focussing on just one thing: being a mum, raising great kids.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to move into a new season, where I get to do a job I love, and that this has coincided with my children being in their late teens/early adulthood.  I never thought I would want to work outside the home again.  I feel so blessed to be able to work, again, in the place where my son also spends his days.  I love that I get to work full time, and yet touch base with him in the playground, or when he stops by my classroom to ask for money for the tuck shop.  I am blessed to have one daughter who has decided she doesn't like being home when the house is being cleaned so she comes and helps in my classroom.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Breakfast Anyone?

Image Credit

We are people who love to go out for breakfast.  Usually just me and hubby, but occasionally the kids as well.  As you can imagine this means we are ever on the look out for a new little cafe that does a good breakfast, and we've become quite the breakfast connoisseurs!  Miss Sunshine found us a new little spot a half hour drive from home.  A nice drive out in the country - more country than we are already.  We visited there on Monday, thanks to a public holiday, and then Dh and I were there again on Saturday thanks to a rainy morning that prevented Dh from going bike riding.  On Monday I had the french toast and yesterday the smashed avocado, without the eggs.  You know what?  This was so incredibly good, and is an easily reproducible breakfast for home as well.  So there is no reason to feel too sad if you can't make it all the way beyond the outer reaches of fair Melbourne town.  

This morning I found an avocado, some goats cheese and some dukkah, so I got a second go.  At home.  Without the travel and without the mushrooms (which I love, but they had all been gobbled by other people at some point through the week).

I toasted my favourite grainy sourdough bread (from Aldi), buttered it, lightly mashed half an avocado over it and then sprinkled some herbed goats cheese (also from Aldi) that I broke up into little chunks over it.  I had some zesty lemon dukkah and salt to sprinkle over, and, well....YUM.  If you're a mushroom fan you might want to have a go at sautéing some button mushies with balsamic glaze and thyme.  At least that's what I would attempt to do if our mushroom monster had not eaten all the mushrooms!

Have you discovered the wonders of going out for breakfast?  What's your favourite thing to have?