Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning - Yesterday!

I can't wait until the Prep teacher returns from her few days off!!  Not only have I done a major part of the literacy planning, but I've also dealt with much of the behaviour stuff that has gone on in the last two days.  However, I'm confident that with her return, the kids will be back to normal, though not without a few carried-over consequences.  Apparently it's not just when I'm not at school that things go haywire!

Despite the enormous amount of energy expended, I've returned to my kitchen.  I'm just doing a little bit of reviewing at the moment to prepare for an exam, so I have time to cook meals again.  I'd been looking forward to wanting to cook...and I've succeeded in the wanting.  The girls will still get a look-in, but it will be easier on all of us for a number of weeks ahead.

I came home to a funny sight yesterday.  We've had ant problems, so Miss Sunshine had been spraying with surface spray to get rid of the last invasion.  Apparently that spray works really well ~ I found a Melbourne sized (read: miniature compared to the toprical sized ones I grew up with) cockroach, feet up and dead.  It must surely be the third world, bug-infested upbringing, but I thought it was funny.  And I am so glad for things like surface spray. 

So.  The real reason for the post ~ the menu....

Monday:  Recurrant lamb chops, vegies
Tuesday:  Spanish chicken, chorizo & potatoes (a Nigella recipe), vegies
Wednesday:  Honey mustard chicken, vegies
Thursday:  Creamy pasta
Friday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies
Saturday:  Soup (after a BBQ lunch with friends)
Sunday:  Lasagna

You know what...maybe the girls won't get a look-in this week ;o)  And just in case you thought my Nigella obsession had cooled, you'd be wrong.  I just hadn't had the time to indulge myself.  But two episodes from the 'Express' series was all the inspiration I needed.  Coffee cupcakes iced with mocha icing was the result.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


...for now.  I spent yesterday being just a little bit too excited about finishing my semester.  I still have an exam to do in a week's time.  But the weekly demands and tasks are done with for a little bit.  Oh the feeling of a  freedom!!!  The end of that last quiz felt so very good.  I'd been awake at 3am stressing out about when I would get it done....you know, with extra kids around etc.  I ended up getting up at 5am and doing it then, after dozing and worrying for a couple of hours.  Should've just done it at 3am!

We spent the day at the zoo.  It was so nice to enjoy the day with nothing else swirling about in my mind.  One of my favourite things?  Watching the platypus scratch himself silly whilst sitting on a log....with his head under water.  Very amusing.  Equally amusing was the little girl standing next to us in peels of laughter as she watched on.  So cute.

We sent the Miss Sunshine and her friends off with plans to meet for lunch.  It seems they had a ball and enjoyed watching all the animals do whatever they were doing.  Mr Busy got to pat a giant tortoise who came right up to the log barrier.  Dh fed a peacock...not because he wanted to.  The forthright, greedy thing snatched a cracker out of his hand!  Twice!

Last year we spent an afternoon at the Denver Zoo.  We were fascinated from the point of view that they have different animals there.  It's a good zoo.  It's smaller and we noticed the enclosures were not quite as big or as close to the natural habitat as we have been used to.  Melbourne's Zoo is such a beautiful place and easy to see why it's one of the world's best.  The enclosures are as natural as they can be, apart from the poor baboons.  But even they are getting a new more realistic habitat to live in.  I was surprised at how many of the enclosures have been updated, upgraded and improved.  If you ever make it to Melbourne you need to spend a day at the zoo.  You'll need the whole five hours of parking you're allowed to have!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Belated Birthdays

After talking about noise the other day, this silence-appreciating mother was inundated by extra noise.  It came in the delightful form of two of Miss Sunshine's closest school friends.  Beautiful young women who are a joy to spend time with....even with all the noise.

Miss Sunshine wanted to do something a little bit different.  Her friends both love quirky and animals...one loves spiders and bugs as well.  So we're off on a bit of an adventure today that is animal and bug related.  The three of them made a zoo cake last night with some toy animals the Yera 5/6 teacher happily lent to me.  I'd mentioned my reluctance to expend resources on purchasing and then storing things that would only get one use.  I'm not inclined to collect and keep clutter, so borrowing and returning the clutter is a fantastic alternative.

My highlight last night? All teens roll their eyes, even the ones you don't expected it from.  Those girls make me laugh.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

When Noise is too Noisy

Is it just something that comes with age?  Or is it just me?  I don't know, but this is how noise seems to feel.  There is such a relief when students are silent at the end of a noisy lesson of productive work, or when the TV is turned off.  Or when the radio in the car gets turned off.  Sometimes that type of noise just gets in my ear and I can't think until it's gone.  There is bliss in the silence!

I find it interesting how different people are.  Some of us need silence in our homes.  Some of us need the company of background noise to feel settled.  Personally, I am content with the company of my own thoughts.  There are so many running around in my head at the moment that I need space away from noise to do them all justice.

What relaxes you?  Constant noise, or silence?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

OK, I'll Try

I have felt the thrill of success in the past week.  One of the boys with whom I work has been really struggling.  Every instruction or request has been met with an angry or upset "No, I don't want to".  It is heartbreaking to see him struggle.  And it hasn't been fun to deal with his angry physical outbursts.  His teacher and I have had some pretty hard days.  I was given some time last week to sit down and write some social stories for this boy.  Our tough days have, for some part, turned into laughter as we've enjoyed a marked change.  We have a signal for 'listen', which includes cupping an ear with a hand.  He does this very well.  And then we're trying to teach him to say "OK, I'll try" instead of "No, I don't want to".  It often comes with a cheesy look on his face, and the hand signal (as above).  We giggle to ourselves, his teacher and I, because he's so cute.  And we are relieved to have found a measure of success.  For as long as it lasts.

Not every day is easy.  But they're better.  And now I understand what was meant when we were told that surviving isn't enough.  It's success that is the goal.  This week, this is success.  One child, saying "OK, I'll try" and then hopping off happily to do just that.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Monday Menu Planning: Week Beginning 23 May

It's official.  I'm avoiding an assignment.  OK, it's not quite as bad as it sounds.  The thing is basically written.  At this point it needs a LOT of polishing!  It's just one of those ones that you seem to go around and around with and don't feel like you're hitting the mark.  It'll get there.  It has to.  But I am officially in avoidance.  For now.  I'll hit it again tomorrow and see how I go.  I think I need to print it out and see it on paper.

Apart from that, and a quiz I'm pretty much done with Uni for this week, and therefore, almost the semester!  An exam and a couple of weeks professional experience seems almost insignificant.  Of course it's not, but after all these weeks of hard work, that much feels almost easy.  Time-wise anyway.  I'm looking forward to wanting to cook dinner again.  I'm looking forward to getting my house cleaned up again.  Anyone who might dare to enter right now would see what a working, full-time Uni student's house really looks like.  I'm looking forward to reading for pleasure.  I'm looking forward to considering the idea of picking up my stitching.  Ahhh...so much to enjoy for a couple of months!!!

The rest of the family just focus on enjoying meals.  What's for dinner is always foremost on their minds and lips at the end of a school day.  This week's menu is a mishmash of whatever we didn't end up having last week.  I'm telling you, it's gotten pretty slack around here!

Monday:  Roast chicken, vegies (Miss Mischief)
Tuesday:  Soup, bread & butter (Me)
Wednesday:  Rissoles, vegies (Miss Mischief)
Thursday:  Spanish chicken, potato & chorizo (Miss Sunshine)
Friday:  Some kind of stir fry, I believe

Miss Sunshine is finally getting her 'birthday party'.  Two friends will join us for the night and then we'll head off to enjoy some wildlife experiences.  The girls are all so very excited!  The two guests have requested the stir fry 'of some kind', so I'll have to find them at school this week and probe a little deeper.  Once agian, Saturday and Sunday are a bit too distant.  I'd like to think I could cope with making a lasagna for one of those nights.  We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

On Parenting Teens

I was reading of a mother's desire to protect her beautiful daughter from the awful things the world holds waiting.  The mother's writing attracted the opinion of one who felt that you can't stop your kids from going out and experiencing the world...just be there to guide and catch them when they fall.

Do you know what?  This person's comments made me want to cry.  I too, am a mother who wants to protect her children from the darkness that is just waiting to swallow them up.  I want to my children to enjoy every moment of their childhood and to maintain their innocence for as long as they can.  I've been pondering the fine line between protecting my children and letting them fly.

The comments of this person reflects a growing sense that parents don't have the ability to control their children anymore.  Or don't know what they could do about things, even if they wanted to.  My response to that is somewhat long-winded, so bear with me!

According to a speaker from Uber Life the pause between childhood and adulthood called adolescence is a very long time.  It never used to be this long.  The term 'teenager' is a fairly new thing.  I don't think this has done our children very much good, in many ways.  Being told they're not old enough or responsible enough to make 'grown-up' decisions about things in their lives seems to have created a whole bunch of young people who live up to those low expectations.

Despite entering mid-teen years we are in protection mode here.  With little steps towards letting our children fly.  There is so very much darkness in the world.  So many temptations for young men and women whose brains are not fully developed.  So few supports from positive role models showing them how to be people who choose to be responsible men and women of integrity.  And so low an expectation that they have nothing to live up to.

From when my children were very young, I had clear ideals about the people they would become and what I wanted for their lives.  Above all, I want them to be followers of Christ.  I want them to have life-skills so they can leave home one day with confidence in their ability to care for themselves.  I want them to be people of character and integrity who make a positive impact on the world around them.  With these clear goals in mind, we have been very careful about the kinds of things they are allowed to do and have in their lives.

I found Mother's Day very confronting this year.  During church, as a list was compiled of all the things mothers do for their children, I could only say "I take my kids to school".  Of course in days gone past I could have said wash clothes, do dishes, cook meals, iron, help with homework...all those things that immediately come to mind.  I spent more than a few days feeling quite worthless, as a mother.  But my own children came to my defense.  They reminded me that they are doing all these things and that this is GOOD.  They are taking responsibility for things that need to happen in our home.  Of course, they're young and they don't immediately see all that needs doing.  They need to be asked.  But they willingly take instruction and ask questions.  Even they can see that they are becoming the responsible people I dreamed they might become.  They are learning how to flap their wings in preparation for flight.

Miss Sunshine has been confronted with how she needs to make decisions about the kind of person she wants to be.  And how she needs to choose behaviour that backs this up.  It's been a tough lesson for her but she learning to be a person of character and integrity.  The other two will, no doubt, be challenged with this decision too.  And they will find our support and guidance in making these choices, just as Miss Sunshine has.

Part of the way we protect our children is to make the decision to keep them from a wide variety of technology.  They use the internet for things like Mathletics and research for school projects.  But they do so with supervision.  They do so with support and guidance about how to go about using these tools responsibly.  We have a LOT of convesations about our concerns for their safety online.  Despite being unpopular, we decided not to allow access to sites like Facebook.  They begged and pleaded for a time.  And then they realised, somewhere along the way, that a lot of nasty stuff goes on in forums such as this and they are grateful to be spared the nonsense that goes on.  We are very cautious about the types of television programs and movies our children view.  We maintain their innocence by sparing them the darkness exposed in crime shows and violent or questionable movies.  We investigate deeply before allowing our 15yo to view an M Rated movie.  Plugged In Online is valuable resource for this, as it disects the movie into fine detail.

I really think parents need to step up and be the authority in their home.  If our children are going to remain 'young' for so much longer then we have a responsibility to continue to take this seriously.  You can't just give up because life with a teen is hard.  Sure they will make you work hard for that authority, but they want it to be there.  There need to be clear consequences for misbehaviour and disobedience, just as there should have been throughout their younger years.  We are doing a lot more negotiating with our girls.  We aim to do this in a respectful manner.  Sometimes we need to say no to things for practical reasons.  Sometimes we say no because we feel they would not be in a good situation.  Sometimes we need to take risks and allow them freedoms we're uncomfortable with, but not because they're questionable!  Our kids know we're still the parents.  They know we are the authority in their lives and that they need to respect this.  But they know we make our decisions for them because we love them and want the best for them.

I like who our kids are.  They are not without flaws....but neither are we.  I think in other circumstances, our children might be swayed to be people we don't like very much.  But in all our of protecting them from the world's vices we are growing amazing young women and a chivilrous young man.  I love that they give as much as they take from relationships and I love that they have a Godly worldview.  I'd say protecting them is working pretty well.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Something Delicious About Friday

This is the first year that I've worked on Friday's.  When I had Friday off, my weekends started on Thursday evenings, and there is something lacking in that anticipation of the weekend's arrival.  School, and other daily acitivities are still in the full swing of routine on Thursday.

This year, I have Thursday off.  It's working better than I imagined.  The few times I've swapped days, Thursday has proven to be a difficult day to do from a timetabling point of view.  So now that I work a Friday, there is that declicious anticipation of the weekend that comes along with it.  Friday is a a bit of a winding down kind of day.  Of course there is lots of work, but....there's that anticipation!

This week's anticipation includes my nieces' combined birthday party.  A trip to a Geppetto's store must surely be in the wind, in search of the perfect gift(s).  Maybe a little assignment writing.  Perhaps some Cosby Show or Little House on the Prairie.  Definitely some reading.  A Sunday night roast might just top it all off.

What's your favourite thing about Friday?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Imitation and Flattery

I have just the best laugh and my it felt good.  I was checking through my Uni message boards and had a look at a new lesson plan that someone had belatedly posted.  Oh my, it looked so familiar.  No, it wasn't a thread started by me, but that plan looked like something I am intimately familiar with.

The plan itself was different.  Entirely.  The template....mine!  Right down to the font used.  Some very wise student must have looked through all the previously posted plans, noted which ones gained critical (I mean that in a good way) feedback from the tutor and decided to imitate a plan that had garnered a "great work" response.

And do you know what, I have just laughed and laughed.  I am touched that someone else thinks enough of my work to feel it worthy of taking on board for themselves.  I think that is what collaborative learning is all about.  This student's lesson plan is entirely their work and it's a darn good lesson, I think.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 16 May

Monday.  It comes around so fast sometimes.  My day began with being hit, kicked and bitten by a child (not mine!).  How about you?  Bet you can't top that!  I went from that behaviour, to another child who was in refusal mode.  Let's face it, the day can only get better from there!  And so it did.  The Prep's got to spend some time on the jumping castle leftover from our Mayfest celebration on Saturday.  Mr Busy made me laugh when he sat at his desk with his homework pouch thing on his head...listening intently.  He's one funny boy.  Miss Sunshine's interschool soccer day went brilliantly as far as she was concerned.

I have this week and next remaining of my Uni semester, with one assignment to finish and one that just needs a polish.  I can't tell you how I'm looking forward to slowing down for a bit!

Of course, the children continue to want to eat.  It's a strange phenomenon really.  So this is what they'll be having put before them.  Or creating for themselves, as the case may be:

Monday:  Chicken & vegetable curry, rice (Me)
Tuesday:  Redcurrant lamb chops, vegies (Miss Sunshine)
Wednesday:  Honey soy chicken, stir fried vegies, rice (Miss Sunshine/Mischief)
Thursday:  Tomato and bacon pasta (Me)
Friday:  Spanish chicken, potato & chorizo, vegies (Miss Sunshine)
Saturday:  Tomato soup, bread & butter (Miss Mischief)
Sunday: Roast chicken, vegies (whoever wants to do it!)

I'd better go and find some milk.  I never did manage to get to grocery shopping last week...and the signs are now beginning to show.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Do you ever feel like you're walking in Eyeore's shoes?  I feel like he looks.  Tired, worn out, plodding.  Alongside my hectic life, some 'people' challenges have quite drained me.  So much so that I stayed home from a school fete day for the morning part of the day to do some assignment writing.  It was time well spent, as I am almost ready to mail it off.  This week, certainly.  And then I can focus on the last assignment.  The end is nigh.

The days here are still grey, misty, damp.  Cold!  I'm hoping there is some sunshine coming, if not for warmth then for cheer.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Melancholy of Grey Days

This morning is grey, cold and rainy.  More like winter than autumn.  In the grey of early dawn this morning I'm wondering if the Proverbs 31 woman ever felt like she'd 'dropped the ball'.  Did she ever feel the melancholy of failure?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I'm Missing....

I keep looking at my stitching.  It languishes forlornly on my sewing table just waiting to be loved by me.  I pass that sewing table often as it sits in the middle of the kitchen/meals/family area of our home.  Even on the evenings when I set aside studying for relaxing (yes, it does happen) I just can't make myself pick it up.  I truly need to sit idly and value just 'being', rather than always 'doing'.
My semester is drawing to a close, with just three weeks to go.  Then I have one exam to prepare for and Professional Experience after that.  Maybe then I'll feel like I can stitch a little in those hours and hours I might have otherwise been working on all things academic.
Stitching had become such a constant part of my life, as I spent time in a sewing circle each week and then each fortnight.  It is relaxing to me and brings a great deal of joy and contentment as I do this 'slow work'.
I've also come to the final realisation that I'm not going to get to hand-quilt that beautiful quilt I made two years ago.  One day soon when I can justify the expense in our budget I will get it custom-quilted.  One of the office staff at school has someone she has used, and who does exquisite work.  And that's what I want.  Exquisite.  I don't want quilting that ignores the piecing and applique.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Monday Menu Planning: Week beginning 9 May

This week is Mr Busy's birthday.  Poor boy ~ it's on the one day we're most crazy after school, and pressed for time.  I have, however, already bought his presents.  It's not often I'm so organised so ahead of time!  I also have to go and spend some time with Miss Mischief at Girl's Brigade that night.  Why is it that everything piles up for just one day?!  Anyway, Mr Busy will enjoy some time with his Dad.  That's always a treat to him.

For this week...more busyness, assignments, classrooms filled with amazingly gorgeous children....and food.  Ir eally am starting to wonder if eating is overrated?  All that time spent shopping and cooking and eating.  when I don't have the energy or the inclination, usually!  I need to go back to the girls doing more.  At the end of the school term and over the holidays I'd picked up a little more in the kitchen.  I'm more invested in what I plan when I get to make it as well.  But I've found this week that I've felt time-pressured.  So here is what the girls are up to...

Monday:  Chicken wings and fried rice (Miss Sunshine)
Tuesday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies (me)
Wednesday:  Oven fried chicken, vegies (Miss Mischief)
Thursday:  Tomato and bacon pasta (me)
Friday:  Sloppy Joe's (Miss Sunshine)
The weekend is still unplanned.  This past weekend we ended up having gnocchi with creamy roasted tomato sauce and then chicken & vegie soup.  I'll wait to see what the weekend is likely to bring before I plan, I guess.  I shop on Thursday, so it can wait til then.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Week's Catch-Up - Happy Mother's Day!

Who could have imagined this week would be so full, and go so quickly!  Before I go any further....Happy Mother's Day, to all you mothers.  My Mum lives two hours away, so our day has been somewhat empty.  I suppose a better daughter would have organised to get together.  A better daughter would not have had her head full of assignments and weekly University tasks.  I've missed seeing Mum today, more than I imagined I might.

For my day, presents in bed and breafast together began the day.  An hour or so watching The Cosby Showfollowed lunch and a nap followed that.  I really did overheat my brain yesterday!  Miss Sunshine is supervising Mr Busy as they cook dinner together :o)  As I sit here now, I'm watching Jamie's 30 Minute Meals.  He's a funny dude when he's not trying to change the eating habits of a city like Los Angeles!

Now to backtrack through the week.  We've had two new families join our school.  The little girl in Prep came from a Steiner school and has found the transition overwhelming at times.  Tears have been her constant companion, as well as hugs from me whenever I've been in proximity.  Mr Busy has a new girl in his class who is also struggling with the transition from a highly restrictive envrionment to ours.  By the end of the week she didn't want to be at school without her parents.  Again, more hugs from me.  I hate to think how these girls would have coped in a school where staff have a 'hands off' policy.  Especially when a hug is the only thing they want ... and need.  I hope they both have a better week in the next few days.  Pray for them, if you would.  Starting a new school is a tough gig.

I had to present some feedback on the PD I went to last term, to my fellow Primary School staff this week.  Despite losing sleep over it, it wasn't so bad!  They're an easy audience!  I've been working hard on the four (and last) assignments and have submitted one of them.  These ones are weighted more heavily than the first round, so I feel a little more nervous about them.

M excitment for last week was meeting with three other students doing the same Foundations subject.  it was lovely to spend a couple of hours chatting about the things that challenge us and know that these people really do understand!  We will plan to meet again during the study/exam period before we all head out for our Professional Experience placements.

As well as all of those things, I've had Miss Sunshined being whisked off to the optometrist for an emergency appointment.  She went from being fine to having some pretty full-on symptoms of conjunctivitis.  The pharmacist recommended a stop across the road and his advice was spot on.  The 'Eye-Guy', as I've dubbed him, was terribly concerned with the ferocity and the quick onset and prescribed some pretty strong drops for her.  She was much better within a day.

That's all from me...perhaps this week I might pop in here a little more.  Then again, I've a Numeracy proficiency test to prepare for (yeah, pray for that one too!!!!!!) and another assignment to submit, plus two others to keep writing.  Hmmm...see why I've been missing?!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 2 May

April and May bring birthday celebrations galore to our home.  Three of us celebrate now and two very much later on in the year.  So the kids are busily scheming and planning away to mark these milestones in ways that are special to them.

Miss Sunshine turned 15 today.  It really is a little bit difficult to get my head around the fact that at this time 15 years ago I was in hospital, recovering from a long and challenging labour with a tiny, perfect little girl beside me.  She's still perfect.  And she's still beside me.  She's not so tiny anymore, standing proudly taller than her Mum.  A mature young woman now, who loves life in an effervescent way.  She is full of fun and humour no matter how frustrating she can be at times.  I believe she's planning a trip to the zoo in the next couple of weeks with a couple of good friends.  I love her idea of a good time!

In honour of her birthday I planned a favourite meal....along with the rest of the week's meals:
Monday:  Roast chicken, vegies with homemade gravy and cherry clafoutis for dessert
Tuesday:  Ricotta fritters, vegies
Wednesday:  Rissoles, vegies
Thursday:  Creamy pasta
Friday:  Nigella's chicken wraps
I haven't gotten any further in my plans.  No matter, it will happen before the meals need to be on the table.

I had to put together a presentation about my 'metaphor of teaching' for Uni this week.  I elected to stick with powerpoint and upload it to a file sharing website for others to view.  I'm really happy with the result.  It really reflects my balance between the three learning styles.  Words to read, narration to hear and pictures relating to each element of the task.  I even found a way to include some of my quilt pictures :)  I've just posted it to the tutorial discussion board...so we'll see how that goes.

Have I ever said how much I love studying?!