Thursday, 28 April 2011

Popping In ... and Out

I realise it may appear that I've disappeared.  Not true!  But I have been rather occupied.  We enjoyed a lovely Easter break doing family things together and with friends.  Almost cruelly, I went back to work the day after.  I say 'almost' because I have joined the teaching staff in attending a state conference with a group of other like schools and have been incredibly blessed by all I have heard so far.

As if a retreat from normal classroom activity were not enough, I'm also attending a women's retreat this weekend.  A lot of retreating going on! 

In between, lots of assignment writing.  I believe I have completed one, and must work on a second with great haste.  And then the final two will require my utmost attention.  The bliss of a real holiday from any kind of school is being highly anticipated.  And the school term has not even begun.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday begins early for us, just as did all those years ago for the women who went to attend to Jesus' body.  There's something profound about beginning the day with anticipation of what is coming, following the way of someone who has gone before.

The sunrise service was held at a lake, where it had once been a paddock during the drought.  It is now full of water again and full of life.  At dawn you have to compete with the bird-life.  It reminded me that Jesus is full of life too.  The gentleman who did the devotion reminded us that the women who went to the tomb did so in order to take care of something that had been left.  They were going to finish the job that had been started and complete the task properly.  Unlike those women, we come to the open tomb with expectancy.  We come knowing that it is empty and that Jesus lives.  They came and were confused and upset.  There is much to be said for knowing the 'end' of the story.  Because of that empty tomb we have certainty for our future.


After spending our first hour or two celebrating and pondering, we came organised ourselves a picnic lunch and went off to do some yabbying.  There sits a bucket with some sizeable fellows who are destined for the cooking pot.  Someone once told me that you don't catch yabbies much in months that don't end with and 'r'.  Well...we may not have caught many, but the ones we have are decent.

The kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt in the backyard.  It's always a flurry of excitement until we count how many have been found to discover how many are still out there.  And there are two still to be found.  Perhaps today.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday Family Time

Our Good Friday has, thus far, been quiet.  Cool, rainy.  I was up early making hot cross buns.  Five bored children eagerly spent two hours completing my design challenge in order for me to write a 2500 word essay.  Their jaws dropped when I told them the task was only half done when they were finished.

In the midst of creating and eating we had a conversation about why we have hot cross buns on Friday and easter eggs on Sunday.

And then they asked "what about Saturday?".  Indeed!  My friend suggested they should all stay in bed all day tomorrow, given that Jesus was in the tomb then.  After all, is Easter weekend not full of symbols that remind us of the events around Jesus' death and ressurrection?  Then surely children should remain in their beds.  Quiet.  Without arguments and disagreements.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

What Are You Good At?

I've just been reading Jenny B Jones' latest blog post in which she lists the things she's good at.  You know a post by Jenny, titled "Behold My Talent" is going to be filled with things that induce side-splitting laughter.  And I was right.  Her number 14 comment is my favourite.  I was already laughing....then I just ached.  The imagary is magnficient.  I can just see a whole bunch of men in there waving a nonchalant "Hi Jen" as she comes in and goes out. 

In any case, all that fun and silliness prompted me to think.  What am I good at?  More importantly, why aren't we comfortable expressing to others what we're good at.  We're all good at something.  We're all good at things that are different to other people's things they're good at.  The world needs variety!

So...what am I good at?
  • Cooking.  I've been known to make guinea pigs out of dinner guests.  They're always happy to comply.
  • Avoiding shops.  Because I am the only woman alive who hates shopping.  Except for Costco ~ they feed you to help you get around in one piece and that's why I bought a membership.
  • Sending the children out of my study area.  Because they just want to sit and look at me!
  • Forgetting to stop studying and do important things like....sleeping and cooking dinner.
  • Having fun with girlfriends.  Because sometimes only another female who knows you understands.
  • Administration.  It's a curse really.  I'm way too organised.
  • Using common sense.  I didn't know this until recently, but I'm told I'm rare.  I must know all the only other people who have common sense as well.
  • Making big public mistakes.  Like the time I began a piano introduction for church, with each hand in a different key.
Well...I'm sure there's more, but that will do for now.

What are you good at?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

My Hot Cross Bun 'Issues'

I mentioned yesterday that I make hot cross buns on Good Friday.  It's a relatively new tradition in our home and it is one born out of frustration at the commercialisation of something that is meant to be ... sacred.

Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, hot cross buns were available in the shops only a few weeks before Easter.  Back in those days I would buy them as often as I could and even store some in the freezer to enjoy after Easter.  In particular, we enjoyed the Coles homebrand buns.  They weren't dried out so you could eat them toasted or not, as you desired.  Over the last few years hot cross buns have been available within days of Christmas being over.  And this is where my objections began.

Is it just me, or is there something inherently wrong with greedily profiting from a religious observance and tradition some four months before the event actually occurs?  Because of the commercial greed that drives the provision of hot cross buns so many months before they're required, I now buy none.  That's right, not a single cent is spent on purchasing these little fruit buns that absolutely adore.  And that makes me feel a tad cranky.  I want to stomp my foot and whine "It's not fair"!

Rather than becoming bitter and twisted about the whole thing, I decided to make the tradition of eating hot cross buns a meaningful and special event in our family.  I make them early in the day on Good Friday so that we can hopefully have them for morning tea.  Over the years we've spent time staying with friends, camping, staying home....and no matter where we are I will make them.  Because I want my children to know they are a special part of the symbolism that helps us focus on the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 18 April

The holidays continue.  Lots of study.  Lots of thinking about a women's retreat and the required administration.  Today, lots of 'The Cosby Show'.  I bought the first two seasons the other day so the kids and I have been laughing our way through the episodes.  I'd forgotten how very funny the show is!  In between, the kids have been playing Monopoly and driving each other nuts.  And me.  Ahhh, you've got to love holidays.

With Easter approaching I've also been giving some thought to the traditions that we enjoy over the three significant days.  This year ANZAC Day is involved at the same time, so we have extra traditions to squeeze in.  Interestingly, for me, all of these traditions are food related.  I make hot cross buns on Good Friday.  We have a lamb roast on Resurrection Sunday.  The kids have a handful of various sized eggs on Sunday too.  And on ANZAC Day, ANZAC bikkies, of course.

I'll post about my hot cross bun thoughts tomorrow.  For now, this is what we're eating this week:
Monday:  Nigella's chilli with corn chip stacks
Tuesday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies
Wednesday:  Honey soy chicken, vegies
Thursday:  Out for dinner
Friday:  Teriyaki chicken, rice, stir fried vegies
Saturday:  Out for dinner
Sunday:  Roast lamb, vegies

What are your Easter traditions?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Very Smurfy

Do you remember Smurfs as fondly as I?  Perhaps this shows my vintage, but many around my age might still have one or two of these little fellows floating about their homes.  Hiding in long forgotten places, just waiting to be remembered.  I have six of them.  I only ever had six, but I have them all.  I wonder how it is, in all the moving to and fro, hither and yon, that these little friends have remained with me all this time.  I don't know, but my children knew exactly where to put their hands on them!

We're on a mission for my Smurfs.  One of my assignments requires me to come up with a design challenge and to put it into action.  Of course, then comes a 2,500 word essay regarding the activity...*sigh*.  In any case, Smurfs were my inspiration.  Because I don't believe in fairies.  And I wanted something that was full of creativity, fun, colour....and a little bit of whimsy.  So fairies were out.  But Smurfs?  Well...there they are with so much more personality!

So.  My design challenge is to create a Smurf resort because they will be arriving in Our Town for their annual weekend convention and there is no resort here for them to stay at.  I can't wait to see what the kids come up with!  We're roping in a couple of 'little friends' to help us.  And what do you know, they fit into the VELS stage of learning I'm aiming at.  Perfect. It's their turn to help me with my homework.  For a change.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

It's Like Brand New

It is done.  Finally.  I spent a few days procrastinating.  If one can call studying procrastinating.  I'm sure I hear stories about people doing housework to avoid the study.  Not me!  My oven, however, is finally clean. 
And because Frances things her oven is worse, can I say it took a couple of goes?  Yup.  It was bad.

And now it's not.  Now it's shiny.

If your oven is scaring you, can I suggest you tackle the thing head on and clean it?  It's amazing how good you'll feel, even if noone else in your family appreciates it!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Metaphorically Speaking

I think I'm seeing some light in my dark tunnel.  One of my uni subjects requires us to come up with a metaphor to explain what we think about teaching and how we see ourselves as teachers.  In a couple of weeks we all need to present something that covers specific aspects and how the metaphor explains them.

I have been excited about using 'Artist' as my metaphor.  I've tweaked and refined as I've hit hurdles.  But the presentation of the information had me stumbling about in a dark place for a little bit.  So many information sharing sites to choose from.  Does one learn a whole new program or just upload a Powerpoint?  Which program will do what I want it to?  How do I go about explaining my metaphor and compare it to teaching?

Do you see where I've been?!  I tell you, a dark little place of questions.

One by one, I have been answering those questions.
What would I advise someone else to do about the program?  Think about the information sharing later...just begin with Powerpoint.  I know how Powerpoint works.  It does all the things I want to do with the presentation.

How do I articulate my metaphor vs real life ideas?  Having an artistic bent, I began with pictures.  Because presentations need to be attractive and interesting.  Yes?  I'm sure I don't want to sit through something that is boring to look at, so why would anyone else.  And then I decided to record an explanation of each slide.  Everything is more cohesive  now.

All of a sudden I see light at the end of my dark little place.  It is looking and sounding good.  To me, anyway.  We'll see what happens with 'peer review'!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 11 April

Today has passed by in a blur!  Mr Busy has entertained himself while the girls went and picked chestnuts for a school family.  They returned home with glorious reports of money earned and time spent with friends.  Me?  I studied.  All day.  Just as well I'm on holidays from school because this week would be a bit difficult to get my head around otherwise.  I have to construct a presentation for one of my subjects and there are plenty of information sharing websites being suggested.  But their use is making my head hurt and my blood pressure rise.  Rather than become a basketcase, I began in PowerPoint and will upload to one of the sites from there.

I had intended to clean the oven today, disgraceful thing that it is.  Alas, I forgot to become unobsessed about my presentation task!  Perhaps tomorrow.

In terms of food, however, we're completely covered.  Planning is done, shopping was completed on Saturday with the help of Miss Mischief and we're ready to deal with holiday appetites.  For me that means eating less....for the kids it means eating more.  They get bored and think eating is a way to entertain themselves.  I need to get them baking first!

Monday:  Meatloaf, vegies
Tuesday:  Redcurant lamb chops, vegies
Wednesday: Honey mustard chicken, vegies
Thursday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies
Friday:  Dinner at my brother's
Saturday: Perhaps we need to plan for visitors?
Sunday:  Soup, english muffin pizzas

So on our holiday agenda apart from eating?  Mr Busy will be doing NAPLAN testing early in Term 2 so he will be getting on Matheletics most days and I need to sit with him and figure out some strategies for brainstorming ideas for writing a persuasive text.  He gets writers block in the ideas stage.  Poor boy.  I'll be studying in between other things and I suppose some planning of those 'other things' might not go astray!

What do you like to do on school holidays?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Of Trains and Quiet Evenings

After the early morning mind games I caught my train in just enough time.  The station I would normally go from has very little parking by 8am, so I headed to the next station and managed to get my ticket and be on the platform with 3 minutes to spare.  That's plenty, right?  I came home with Dh, who had driven in to the city so we had a lovely chat in the comfort of our own car.

My PD was very informative with lots of things to bring back to the teachers I work with.  Things to look for.  Things to do.  Activities to enjoy, just because...and to assist students in particular ways.  And what did I hear all day?  Visual, visuals visuals.  Children with language and learning difficulties all need visual aide supports.  Clip-Art, here I come.  My return to school this morning was greeted with tales of little people 'falling of their perches' here and there.  It's the last week of term, so I suppose it makes sense that some of them would be to weary to cope well.  My heart ached for them...and their teachers!

I'm planning a nice quiet evening in front of the TV, I think.  I've one chapter to read for Uni and then I'm done for the week, I think.  How did that happen?!  It's only Wednesday.  Perhaps my Tail Feathers stitchery might keep me company too.  It's contstantly in my mind and I walk past it thinking how lonely it looks resting there on my sewing cabinet, neglected and patient.  But every time I sit down for long enough to do it I'm too weary to think about moving!  Maybe tonight.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Menu Planning: Week Beginning 4 April

Does it still count as Monday if the sun isn't up yet on Tuesday?  I'm not sure it does, but I have good reason for putting this post off.  Yesterday was a normal full day of rewarding work and full-on study. A friend came over to repair the drum kit that needs to be returned.  I cooked dinner....after the girls had done some baking.  Late in the day.  And I noticed a tiny little icon on my Foundations of Teaching online link.

That tiny little icon told me my first ever University assignment had been returned and graded.  Do you know how nerveracking it is to wait on that first one ever?  Even worse, wondering if when you finally open that document it will have NN (fail) on it.  Well, I opened up mine and looked at the grade and took a moment to realise that DN means Distinction.  I cannot tell you how completely satisfying those two little letters are!  There were a handful of corrections that were not the most super important things in the world, but still very worthy of noting for next time.

On to the dinner table for this week.  I must be missing my kitchen.  The meals I have planned are ones that I imagine I'll end up cooking most nights.  They are meals that are inspired by a Nigella Lawson book off my shelf and simply needed to be investigated.  I'm sure it's wrong to leave such books languishing on the shelf without more than a passing glance.

Monday:  Chinese beef & noodles
Tuesday:  Risotto (maybe!!)
Wednesday:  Spanish chicken with potatoes & chorizo
Thursday:  Pasta (Miss Sunshine)
Friday:  Redcurrant lamb chops, vegies
Saturday:  Lasagna (make a double batch)
Sunday:  Vietnamese pork noodle soup

I'm off to a PD today about supporting children in literacy who have language difficulties.  I always feel very nervous about catching the train.  Will I get a parking spot?  Will the trains be running approximately on time?  Will I have to go to the station a few down the line to get a parking spot?  You see my point, don't you?  I don't go on the trains very often, and when I am travelling on my own I go round and round in my head about how I'll handle any unexpected things.  However, training my way to the venue will provide a wonderful opportunity to read.  For fun.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Still Smiling

I work in lots of different classrooms.  With lots of different children.  Not only do I work with the children who require extra support, but it is inevitable that I spend time with almost every other student at some point.  When you spend 10 lessons of the week in any one class you become pretty attached to one another.

On Tuesday when I was skitting off to another classroom half way through an afternoon the Prep's (5 & 6yo's) were asked to say good afternoon to me.  Which they did.  And then they spontaneously errupted into a loud chorus of "We love you!!".

Yesterday as I was heading off to have my lunch one of the Prep girls came back into the classroom just to say goodbye and to tell me she hoped I would enjoy my lunch.

They are such precious little people.  They have their quirks and we have some frustrating days here and there.  But they have the ability to make me smile for days just because they are who they are.