Friday, 30 April 2010

Of Teaching and Learning

I'm not really sure how it happened, but yesterday I ended up helping with Mr Busy's Physical Education lesson. A discussion at recess time with his teacher and the Year 6 teacher had something to do with it....and my love of netball. I wish I had the knees to play again, but alas, the were wrecked when I played in my 'Before Children' life.

Our Year 4/5/6's were to begin learning to play netball yesterday. MrW asked if I knew how to which I responded "I love playing netball". His eyes lit up and he wondered aloud and somewhat jokingly if I'd be interested in joining them for the afternoon. I usually just do my own thing on Thursday afternoon rather than come home for an hour and head back to pick up the kids, so I was happy to do something a little more productive. Somewhere along the way I ended up explaining the game, the positions to 40 children and answering what seemed like unending questions. Eventually they were all questioned out and we headed down to the courts.

I ended up co-umpiring a game with the Year 6 teacher, which the kids did a great job of playing... and I learned a lot.

I learned that even the most proficient teachers have things they want to learn. I learned that I can teach those proficient teachers teensy bits and pieces! And I learned that PE is way more fun than it was when I was a kid! Then I realised that I'd managed to teach a group of 40 kids something. That'll do a thing or two to boost a girl's confidence!

Edited to add: For those who don't know what Netball is, check out this wikipedia link. Basically, it's a game very similar to Basketball, only requiring more team play and, I would argue, more skill ;)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Big Picture Parenting

Every season of parenting has its challenges. I used to think, when my kids were toddlers and nearly Pre-Schoolers, that I would never see the end of that phase in our lives, with all its frustrations and difficulties. The Terrible Three's were no fun!!!! I now know that each season lasts for but a nan0second and one should relish the joys and enjoy the good things that each parenting season brings.

I was discussing my current challenge with a friend today. A challenge that relates to shaping the character of my children. My friend is a fount of common sense and wisdom. Her view gave me something that smoothed over my ruffled feathers and reminded me where my role as mother ends and the choices my children make begins.

How do you deal with issues of personal integrity, honesty and responsibility? How do you speak those truths into you children's lives so that their future choices are more positive?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

'Kelly's Chance' by Wanda E Brunstetter

My review for 'Kelly's Chance' has been posted here at Relz Reviewz. This one was a little different from the Amish fiction Wanda is renowned for. 'Kelly's Chance' looks at a little piece of Pennsylvanian history and focuses on the lives of those working on the Lehigh Canal. It's a fascinating and incredibly challenging lifestyle and Kelly is an inspiring young woman in the midst of all the difficulties she faces.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sure-fire Antedote

The perfect antedote to a long relaxing weekend at home? Getting back into normal life with a thud ~ work, after-school meeting, running children to their evening activity. The busyness that was avoided all weekend long has arrived, not to be ignored any longer.

Would I have it any other way? No-o-o-o. There's something rather satisfying about encouraging a student with ideas for an essay. There's something very special about getting hugs from your children throughout the day too....and their friends. Because where one hug starts, others are sure to follow! Miss Sunshine has some very special friends.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 26 April

We have children draped about the place, entertaining themselves whilst waiting for lunch. A breakfast of pancakes has placated the one who didn't enjoy soup for dinner...and spoilt another who just thinks anything that's not cereal is special. And then there's my own children who will devour anything set before them! Aren't sleepovers fun LOL.

While I'm waiting for wedges to be ready for the oven, I thought I'd post a quick menu plan for the week.

Monday: Pork Roast, roast pumpkin & potatoes, vegies
Tuesday: Chicken & corn soup, yum cha bites
Wednesday: Gnocchi with roasted tomato sauce
Thursday: Pasta with vegie sauce
Friday: Savoury Glazed meatloaf, vegies
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Nachos

Yep, I think that'll do us for this week.

Friday, 23 April 2010


Over this past week I've realised that I have changed a little in the last 18 months. And realised that sometimes the winds of change blow gently, giving you time to adjust. So gently that the adjustment comes, and it takes you by surprise.
  1. Just this week as I was watching the Primary kids coming down from the buses, towards their classrooms I realised how many I knew...and how many I love. I always knew how much I love these kids, but seeing them in such a spontaneous mob-like fashion all excited about the day, chattering away with one another and eager to get to class, I realised anew that each one is special to me.
  2. I used to say I was going to 'school', when I first began working at school as an employee, uncomfortable with the shift from SAHM and parent-helper, to working mum....even if only for 1 day of the week. I now say I'm going to 'work'. And I'm really OK with that. Sometimes the lines are blurred between parent and employee. I'm OK with that too.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Dead Mouse Running

Last night Miss Sunshine was digging through the linen cupboard, in a box of old baby rugs and stuff. When she screamed and jumped back I thought she'd found a dirty great big Huntsman spider or something. When she could finally speak again, she informed me she'd found a mouse. Not a dirty great big spider but a wreaker of of havoc disguised in the somewhat cuteness of a tiny furry body.

What to do with a mouse in your house, cornered in a box it can't jump out of? Well, first you have to catch the thing. Miss Sunshine suggested tongs, but unlike a recent reflexes activity in class, my reflexes were not so in tune with a mouse.

We emptied the box of its contents, leaving something for the mouse to hide under until we were all prepared. A small bucked of hot, hot water; a pair of tongs; an ice cream container; a folder. These are the tools of mouse eradication. We removed the last piece of cloth from the box and caught the mouse under the ice cream container. Then we got a folder to slide under so we could move the mouse into the bucket of hot water. You know, that thing swam it's little heart out....until he met with the tongs that we held him under with.

Miss Mischief valiantly carried the bucket and the mouse outside and tipped him over the back fence, where the previous drowned mouse was deposited. Fertiliser for the nursery behind us....or kookaburra food....whichever happens first.

I have been asked, previously, how I could possibly do such a thing. Easy. That mouse was in people space. Had he stayed outside, his life would remain intact. And why drowning instead of squashing? Again, easy. I don't like the idea of cleaning up mouse guts in the process of demousing my house!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Take Small Steps

Taking small steps towards a larger goal seems to have been my theme this week.

My focus on small steps comes because of my studies. I've just finished my first group of subjects and packed everything up to mail off. As I was chatting with one of the teachers yesterday, she said "well, you're quarter of the way through". Yes....I guess I am. And there's something terribly satisfying about realising I've achieved that small milestone. It is something I celebrate ~ even if only in my own ability to feel satisfied! Only to enroll in the next group and start the process all over again LOL.

I had another conversation with one of my daughter's teachers yesterday, where she mentioned a massive stock-take type of task that she must do. I felt overwhelmed at the very thought of what she described and suggested that perhaps she could take it in smaller chunks. By storage sections, or the type of equipment, or by time alternate staff meeting weeks so that on the opposite week she just spend that same period of time doing this task. All of a sudden this amazing young woman looked brighter at the prospect of what she needed to accomplish. Small chunks would get the job done and she wouldn't feel quite so burdened and overwhelmed with the whole thing.

We use 'small steps' with all kinds of things in our home too. When Mr Busy's room gets mind-bogglingly messy, I tell him to just go and pick up all the cars off his floor and put them away. When he comes back, having finished that, I send him off to find all the Lego and put that away. Then it might be the clothing that hasn't been put away. Eventually we see the floor, but to look at the whole task seems like climbing Mt Everest. I use this idea with all the kids and their homework. The girls, particularly, need to manage their time and tasks wisely. We look at when things are due, think about how long they're likely to take and work back from there as to how much of which subjects must be addressed. They never hand in anything late. Mind you, I think the idea of being late would send them into a tizzy! They're too diligent!

Do you have an insurmountable task that you feel paralysed over? I bet you can find a way to break it down into smaller portions that can be accomplished. You know what they say: Success breads success. If you feel like you've succeeded in completing a small goal, you'll be more likely to keep plodding through....and eventually end up having completely the whole thing.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Monday's Menu Plan: Beginning 19 April

I had planned to post this much earlier in the day, but I got caught up on another task. Our next book club book is 'June Bug' by Chris Fabry and we are sending him questions about the book and all manner of other things, no doubt. Chris is an amazing author whose work will always have a place on my shelf. 'June Bug' is one of those books that stick with you for a very long time, and I'm excited about having the opportunity to re-read this one for Book Club. I don't get the chance to re-read very much these days! As a bit of a highlight for me, when I clicked on the cover of 'June Bug' on Chris's blog, it took me to the marketing page for the book and my review (for Relz Reviewz) is there on the same screen with authors like Charles Martin, Lisa Samson and Angela Hunt. I was quite tickled and a lot stoked to discover that. Those are three authors who always have my highest regard for their work.

A very long-winded way of saying, it's later than I intended, but I'm finally at the computer to post my menu plan.

Monday: Meatball Stroganoff
Tuesday: Apricot chicken, mashed potatoes, vegies
Wednesday: Sweet & sour pork, rice, stir fried vegies
Thursday: Tuna & pasta
Friday: hmmmm...will have to let you know
Saturday: Chicken noodle soup (held over from last week)
Sunday: Roast pork(?), roast potato/pumpkin, steamed vegies

I have quite a bit ahead of me tonight, so I'd better be off and get those things done!

Friday, 16 April 2010

'The Hidden Flame' by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

My review for 'The Hidden Flame' by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke has been posted here at Relz Reviewz.

It's been quite some time since I've ready a book buy this successful duo and I have to say it was a pure delight to rediscover their combined talent. Equally delightful, the opportunity to experience their writing in a different genre to what I've previously encountered from them. Biblical fiction and this talented pair is the quintessential perfect match.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Good Things Today

If I were really into alliteration I might be tempted to go with 'Thankful Thursday' as a title for today's post, but really....isn't that just a tad corny?! In any case I've enjoyed lots of blessings today, so I thought I'd share some:
  • A new bread machine ~ oh I can't wait to try it out tonight. A little odd though...stainless still base and a white lid/control section stuck on top. In any case, I'm looking forward to its first run.
  • Children who bravely share what they appreciate about you in front of their class mates. Such a precious bunch of people to spend my time with.
  • Fellow staff members who find little ways to appreciate what you do.
  • A communion 'service' using lamingtons and apple juice, to start the school day.
  • The light at the end of the assignment tunnel!
  • Offering a teaching job to Jenny B Jones and having her accept so readily. Perhaps I should tell my boss!!!!!!!!! I tell you what though, my girls would love her style, enthusiasm and spunk. Jenny's students are fortunate indeed.
I had another realisation today ~ completely unrelated to food, this time. When I opened up my bread machine box, it had two large beautiful flat squares of cardboard on either side. I exclaimed over what great cardboard it was and set it aside to ponder what I could do with it. was flat and square and pristine, ya know? My children, meanwhile gave me that look. You know the one? "What planet did my mother just disappear to?". That one. This is where my realisation came in. I've been deeply affected by my time in the Primary School when cardboard presents exciting possibilities!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Little Foodie Discoveries

I've learned a few things lately...

A new recipe which is as easy as throwing everything (including raw rice) into a casserole dish, shoving it in the oven and walking away for two hours. You come back to a really yummy meal. I tell you, I was pretty impressed and Mr Busy even decided that it was pretty good. If you can impress that boy on the first effort you've done well! I wish I could post the recipe I used, but I think I'm not allowed to. It came from a book! A very similar recipe can be found here. My recipe had 1 cup of normal rice (I used basmati) and 2 cups of milk for the liquid. It served 3 of us and there is a little bit left for my lunch after the 'boys' had seconds. You definitely need to add vegies to your plate!

We're not used to lots of convenience stuff. The above recipe had a tin of cream of celery soup in the recipe. I used cream of chicken because that's all Aldi had that matched what I needed. I haven't bought a cream of something tin of soup for years! Tomato soup is usually as far as I'll go. Miss Mischief was grossed out at the look of it, Dh wondered if there was coriander in it and I wondered if it would spoil the entire recipe. I couldn't bring myself to use a packet of onion soup either. I just couldn't. I sauted a regular onion and added it in to the mixture instead. Cheaper....and no additives involved. And no, the tin of soup didn't spoil it! But I did wonder if the recipe could be tweaked to use fresher ingredients and avoid the tinned stuff.

Wheat causes insomnia, for me, amongst a few other symptoms. A rather unfortunate incident with a benign looking chocolate muffin after dinner the other night sealed the deal. This came after being supplied sandwiches for lunch at work that day and I lost 3 hours of sleep for no apparent reason. I did figure this out over Easter when hot cross buns were the order of the day. But now I'm entirely sure. Could this be the reason I'd not slept too well for about 7 years?!

Monday, 12 April 2010

New Term's Monday Menu Plan

In two days the kids will be back and life at school will be back at full tilt. I'm participating in a first aid course all day, so I expect I'll come home quite ready to turn my brain off for a while! There are a few things that I plan to do in the crockpot on busy days, that never seem to eventuate. Mostly because that would mean preparation in the morning. I'm going to try and be better at preparing the night before, for those things. So my bold move begins today with a crockpot meal to be removed from the fridge and popped into the heater part of the pot in short order.

Monday: Crockpot lasagna
Tuesday: Forgotten chicken, beans, carrots
Thursday: Bacon & mushroom pasta
Friday: Hither and thither
Saturday: same as Friday
Sunday: Chicken noodle soup

I'll need to make sure I get my chicken stock made sometime this week!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Savoury Glazed Meatloaf

I was going to get up and go for a walk....and then it rained. Rain with really strong wind behind it, so I decided to post a recipe instead.

After checking down my sidebar, I was amazed I haven't posted this recipe for Savoury Glazed Meatloaf before. Then again, I haven't made it in quite a while. Not sure why ~ it's pretty tasty! In any case, I made this the other night and we all remembered why we enjoy meatloaf. I've had some pretty ordinary meatloaf in my time, but this one's yum. In the past, I've mixed up the meat mixture and frozen it in the loaf pan so that I could avoid the whole preparation phase on a busy day.

Savoury Glazed Meatloaf

500g minced beef
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 medium onion, chopped & sautéd
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
150ml evaporated milk (a small tin)
2 teaspoons mustard powder (or paste)
chopped parsley and crushed garlic to taste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
  1. Combine meatloaf ingredients to make a moist mixture. Press into a greased loaf tin
  2. Tun upside-down onto a tray lined with greased foil, leave tin over loaf.
  3. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes (180C/350F). Remove from oven, gently pour of any fat and remove tin.
  4. Combine the glaze ingredients in a cup and mix well.
  5. Coat meatloaf with the combined glaze ingredients. Do not replace loaf tin.
  6. Return to cook for a further 30 minutes.
I added a grated carrot this time. I also whizzed up 3 slices of rye bread to make the fresh breadcrumbs, and used it was about 2 cups. Next time I would sauté the carrot with the onion as it was still a little crunchy.

Friday, 9 April 2010

'The Sheriff's Surrender' by Susan Page Davis

Posted now, my review for 'The Sheriff's Surrender' can be found here at Relz Reviewz. If you're a bit bored with historical fiction, this is the book for you. Susan Page Davis has imaginatively delivered a book that isn't your 'typical' historical fiction. Women who learn to shoot, a murder mystery which will challenge your detective skills, very light romance and deep truths that are explored authentically and realistically within the plot of the story. Yep, this one has it all.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Evolving Life of a Hard Rubbish Pile

In Melbourne, we have one or two opportunities a year to be rid of what we call 'hard rubbish'. It's all that big stuff that you want to get rid of, but you don't want to pay big bucks to take it to the Tip. So you hang on to it in some dim dark corner of your shed, garage or back yard and wait. In our case....for a few years! The way it works, is that the local council gives you a date for collection. Household pile up their rubbish out the front of their house in the week or so before that date, and some garbage collection organisation will eventually come along and take it all away. For free :)

There is a fascinating proceeding that goes on, between putting your junk out and having it collected by the designated agency. Aussie's, being who they are, have no problem whatsoever in stopping to have a gawk and pick up stuff they think might be worth a fix. In some areas, people put out really good stuff that they just couldn't be bothered offering to friends before putting it out! Yeah, we have no problems at all picking up that stuff. "Oh, I got that off hard rubbish" is the catch cry when friends marvel at our newest acquisitions!

The other day, we put our rubbish out. Old caravan fridge, old dishwashwer. Neither of which worked, which is why we dumped them. Old bike frames the kids have grown out of that were probably 5th hand when we got them. Dead of which dh had as a teen!!! The TV we just got rid of because it was no longer colour, but pink and white. Old computer bits and pieces. You get the idea.

I have been completely fascinated at the way our rubbish pile has evolved. It has taken on a life of its own! Things have been taken. Our nice neat pile has been torn apart and left hither and thither in around about the area where we'd constructed our space-efficient mound. I expected as much, really. Aussie's like freebies. The thing I didn't expect? Our pile has been somewhat scattered.....and people have added to it!!! A pram and the box from some fancy TV dh wishes we owned!

I wonder whether we'll still have a pile at all, by the time the Garbo's come to collect the stuff?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The End of Holidays

One of the things I love about working in a school is that there is a natural season of time to work hard and another for time to rest. These seasons come regularly ~ a great blessing to those, like me, who fare better with regular down time. The change from Daylight Saving, however, is better done in the flow of normally busy days where daily routines help you adjust quickly. Daylight Savings has just ended here and I seem to be having a hard time getting my head around it. I spend the whole day feeling like it is so much later than it really is!

We've had a rather wonderful and relaxing Easter weekend. The perfect balance of rest and play. Bike riding, picnics, delicious food, jigsaw puzzles, markets, Op Shopping, time with friends, reading, kids playing, Easter egg hunting, no TV beyond DVD's of 'Home Improvement' for the kids.

I'm afraid my season of rest is at an end, as tomorrow Work Break begins at school. I think today might be spent pretending the holidays go on for a little longer!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Monday Menu Plan

Half a week of school holidays left (for me). I've definitely blinked! We're enjoying some fun time together as a family, so this will be brief. I hope you've taken the opportunity to enjoy some adventures with your kids too.

This week's menu plan is somewhat like this:

Monday: We have plans to dine with friends...not sure how it will pan out just yet
Tuesday: Meat pie and chips, from the depths of my freezer
Wednesday: Chicken noodle stir fry
Thursday: Meatloaf & vegies
Friday: Pork sweet & sour, basmati rice
Saturday: Spinach & feta pie, vegies
Sunday: Roast chicken, roast potato, vegies

That's it from me. I'm off to create more madness and mayhem with the fellow crazies I live with.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

"It's Friday...but Sunday's Coming!"

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Blogging Intermission

Over the Easter break I'm going to be spending time with my family, enjoying lots of fun things together. I'll pop in a post or two, but please forgive me for not responding in my usual timely manner if you leave a comment. I'll catch up on those next week ~ because I love your comments. They are a little ray of sunshine to me.

I hope you enjoy your Easter break too, creating memories, celebrating family traditions and most of all remembering the significance of Christ's sacrifice for us. I'm looking forward to catching up with all my favourite blogs and blogging friends next week.