Friday, 30 December 2016

New (to me) Kitchen Toy


I have drooled over microplane graters and baulked at the cost for many, many...many years.  Since Dh was struggling for something buy me for Christmas I suggested this.  And because I had him in House before Christmas, I even pointed them out, and the difference between the two prices.

Unlike me, Dh bought the more expensive one (the one I liked better, and wouldn't have bought for myself), and I used it yesterday afternoon when I was making lemon curd with those pesky four egg yolks left from making pavlova.

The microplane grater?  A true revelation!  It is so smooth and easy to use, compared to every zester I have ever had (the very cheap versions of a zester!).  I find myself trying to come up with ways to zest something, or mince garlic or ginger.  It's like the difference between driving a vintage VW Bug and driving a Rolls Royce.  Not that I've ever driven either, but I imagine the Bug is rough and clunky and the Rolls Royce would be smooth and delightful.  This is now my zesting experience.  Smooth and delightful.

Now...to get my Kitchen Aide mixer repaired.  The on/off/speed knob is stuck on 1 and can't be turned off, except at the wall switch.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

New Kitchen Questions

We are in the very beginning stages of planning for a new kitchen.  This one is so dark it, sucks all the light out of the room (and it's a very light room!), and it needs quite a bit of work....or replacement.  Since the oven is doing weird stuff, like turning itself on an off at random times, and the door doesn't close, it's time to replace it.  So...we're looking to gut the kitchen and start over.  At this point the microwave, dishwasher and fridge are the only things we plan to keep.


There are some things I know I definitely want in a new kitchen:
  • white vinyl wrap cabinets, instead of dark wood
  • drawers instead of cupboards as much as possible
  • stone bench top (light coloured)
  • sink going the opposite direction
  • 90cm gas cooktop (the 60cm I have is too small for the pots I use all the time)
  • microwave mounted WAY lower than it's current position (the bottom is my head height - so dumb)
  • pyrolytic, self-cleaning oven
Question of the day:  under bench oven, or wall oven?
I am totally uncertain about the oven.  I thought I wanted a larger, under-bench oven.  It would give me a little more bench space, and the kitchen layout would be more flexible.  But when we were looking at appliances the other day the sales girl made a very valid point:  under-bench ovens are harder to get heavy things in and out.  My SIL has recently moved house and gone from wall to under-bench, and she agreed.  Now I'm really not sure what to do.


I need some good advice.  If you have your choice what would you have...and why?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Best Post-Indulgence Breakfast


Same smoothie, different mug.  Still my favourite:  banana, raspberries (frozen), cinnamon. I prefer almond milk for this (and only this!), but since all we had was regular jersey milk that's what I used.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Dh's view of St Kilda Beach this morning

Well, it's not night yet, and there's lots of stirring about the place here, but it IS the day before Christmas.  I have some baby adult people in my house that are very excited!!!

In typical Melbourne fashion it's been a warm morning, and Dh has had rain and hail on his Saturday morning ride with "the boys".  Thank you Melbourne.  What would we do without your confusing weather?

We have organised a Plan B for my family's Christmas Even afternoon tea, which was meant to be at a park.  Miss Mischief tells me she has experienced flies in plague proportions this past week so maybe it's not just the rain we have to contend with this time.

Meanwhile, today holds some present wrapping, some pavlova making and some welcoming my parents in for a few days.  Probably no afternoon napping.  I've become somewhat of a champion, of Olympic proportions, with the afternoon naps.  It won't last forever, but I'm being totally exceptional in that department, for the moment!

And the medical/para-medical appointments continue.  I need to update the prescription for my glasses.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Lazy Day Dinner


Post-nap dinner:  Butter chicken sauce from a jar with a whole pile of veggies, served over rice and accompanied by roti bread.

I used what veggies I had: sweet potato, potato, carrots (all cut into chunks), broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms.  I augmented the jarred sauce with onions, garlic, garam marsala and a can of coconut milk to make the sauce go further.

Mr Busy got his braces tightened yesterday (the boy people didn't think the date of that one through very carefully!) so tonight it's post-braces-potato-and-leek-soup night.  Bread for the rest of us, just soup for Mr Busy.

Considering the approaching excesses of Christmas Eve afternoon tea and Christmas Day meals, the idea of a few veggie dinners is not such a bad idea.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Eye of the Busy Storm


Today is my quietest day for the week, and even it has already been marred by a quick jaunt out for a fasting blood test.  Because I haven't had one done since computers, apparently, or more accurately, since my GP got a computer.  This week seems to have become our specialist/orthodontist/other medical appointments week.  And also figuring out why our internet keeps dropping out.  The answer?  The phone plug to which the modem was connected has deteriorated and needs some professional phone-man surgery.  We now have phones and devices hijacking other phone points in highly inconvenient locations, but we have stable internet again.  Whew.

So after my little trip up the street, I compensated with a breakfast of poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, over the most beautiful sourdough toast, from The Artisan Crust.  These people are so dear to me, and their breads and pastries are simply otherworldly.  My goal for next year is to take all three of their bake school classes.


For the rest of my day....diving back in to some stitching, and re-watching "Nigella's Christmas Kitchen".  Because a little Nigella inspiration for getting into the kitchen seems to be required in this household of people who are tired of figuring out what to eat all the time.  Grocery shopping should probably be on my list, although tomorrow seems like a better idea.  In the interests of quietness and rest, you know.  And definitely a little nap in the afternoon.  Because a nap is totally necessary every day, following the end of school.  But most exciting is the diving back in to stitching.  I haven't stitched a thing since about Easter last year, so the other night I went looking for some simple freebie patterns with which to get my feet wet again.

What feeds your creativity when you're busy?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Family Christmas Gathering

 
Some of the selections offered

We had our Christmas gathering with Dh's side of the family yesterday.  This year we simplified and pared things way down.  After swapping gift certificates last year, we opted for putting our gift budgets towards lunch.  Yum Cha is the only way this family could possibly go, in order to avoid the massive amounts of work required to feed and clean up after 20-ish people.

The "children", most of whom are now adults, sat at one table and ate like kings and queens.  These children are far too well educated in the ways of international food, particularly when Malaysians number within the clan.  Mr Busy sat next to one of his cousin's wives.  She ensured he was well fed. The kids complained they were being banished, but really I think they had way more fun.  They are a hilarious bunch when all together.


Chinese custard tarts are usually the sought-after dessert following Yum Cha.  My preference is this mango mousse.  Lighter.  Refreshing.  Cool.  In all honesty, however, yesterday I indulged in both.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas Ham

Image Credit
We've finally begun our Christmas preparations.  In our house this begins the day after I finish school.  I'm definitely a one-thing-at-a-time kind of gal; working and Christmas is more than my brain can handle at once.

Miss Sunshine put the tree up on 1 December, and we have been enjoying twinkling lights and strings of gold beads instead of tinsel.  The girls and I went shopping on Thursday and managed the bulk of our shopping.  Mr Busy has planned to do his with some friends (I'm trusting the girls he'll be with to help him out if he gets stuck!).  Miss Mischief has turned her thoughts to our Christmas meal.  She has one thing on her mind.

Christmas ham.

We have our favourite recipe.  We used to use my brother's recipe, and it was delicious.  But our new favourite recipe is even better.  We use Nigella's "fully festive ham" from Nigella Feast.  I've never seen a raw gammon, although I'm sure they're probably available with some effort.  We prefer shoulder ham in any case.  It's smaller, cheaper and more tasty than a leg ham so that's what I go for.  I remove the rind, score the fat layer beneath and stud with cloves and the coat with the glaze (recipe also found here).  I bake that at 130C for about 3 hours, basting every half hour.  Mmmmm.  Yum.

I also use Maggie Beer's "slow roasted pork" recipe for the stuffing (sans hazelnuts) to stuff a whole, de-boned chicken roll.  I don't enjoy turkey, probably because my mother never made one, and neither did my grandmother.  Dh's family always had turkey and I was never impressed.  So we're glazed ham and roast chicken people.  The kids will determine salads they may want and I'll do roast potatoes (with olive oil instead of goose fat).

Our only dilemma?  Pavlova or lemon and raspberry trifle?  And if we choose pav, do we have Granny's pav, a chocolate pav, or a coffee pav?  Oh the choices?

What are your favourite Christmas foods?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Because they know I love pink


School has finished up for the year, and we are all very excited (and not a little relieved) to be on summer holidays.  You don't know what kids take in until they do something that makes you aware of the little, seemingly insignificant things.


Apparently the two students who brought me these gifts noticed that pink is my favourite colour.  It might have been the new pink phone.  Or the phone cover - also pink.  And flowery.  Perhaps it was the computer with the pink shell-cover.  Could also have been the heart necklace with the pink fake-pearl in it.  Either way two of my students were so observant they chose to bless me with pink gifts on Tuesday.

The macarons were delicious, and tasted pink, if that were even possible.  The lychee hand cream smells divine.  And pink.

I don't think you're meant to have favourite students, but I have a little handful of kids that have certainly touched a soft place in my heart.  Lucky for me I get to keep a couple of them next year.  But the ones leaving my classroom, or leaving the school, are definitely taking a little piece of my heart with them.

And a little bit of pink!




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Endings and Legacies

Image Credit
As I look back at the date of my last post and think of all that has happened since it feels like time has sped by so fast!

We're about to finish up the school year - just two weeks before my precious school babies move on to a new year level.  I get to keep my Year 3's as new Year 4's.  I have to send my Year 4's on to someone else.  It makes me wonder what legacy I've left with those ones I have to hand over.  I was putting together covers for their portfolios the other day and I was chuckling over some photos, taken back in May.  They look so young and small and uncertain.  Yet joyful and happy.

The other event that has me thinking about legacies is the death of my grandmother.  We buried her this morning, in a graveside service.  Just family from all the far flung places from whence they hail.  My cousins from NSW.  Dad's cousin from Hobart.  Granny's brother and niece who have been, more recently, right here in Melbourne.  I've talked a little, with my students, about my Granny's legacy.  Her faith and its impact on the generations that have followed.  The way she never made us feel we'd disappointed her, even when we had.  This morning one of my cousins shared how excited they were when Granny would visit them, at their home near Sydney.  How she would bring his favourite chocolate and lollies, and wait on him while he played on the beach. For hours.  Without complaining at all.  These are the stories of my grandmother.  She visited her family no matter where they were.  The six years we lived in PNG brought with it two visits from Granny.  The second time was a three-month stint, and, bless her, she had to share a room with me.  I mentioned to Dh this morning that I always felt a little inadequate whenever my NSW cousins would be close by.  Granny talked them up and it was always clear how much she loved them and thought they were the most awesome people ever.  It has only just occurred to me, maybe she did the same about me, to them.

My Granny was the best grandmother a person could ever dream to have.  


Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Great Spring Lunch - Moroccan Quinoa Salad

One thing that helps keep me sane, when I'm working and participating in a fast, is having things in the fridge that can be grabbed quickly.  Especially when I'm getting school lunches ready.  This Moroccan-inspired quinoa salad helps boost the protein in my diet while giving me the flavour boost that makes eating not quite so boring.

~ Moroccan Quinoa Salad ~
1 cup quinoa, cooked by absorption method
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup pine nuts, dry toasted
finely chopped parsley
zest of 1 orange
olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Once the quinoa and pine nuts have been cooked, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl, up to the parsley, and mix well.
  2. Zest an orange and add to the bowl, then add the juice of the orange.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the salad and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste - mix again to ensure all ingredients are well combined.
I'm sorry I can't give you a measurement for the olive oil.  I have a bottle with a metal top that lets me drizzle more slowly than straight out of the oil bottle.  I just drizzle 'til it feels right.  You could also add in any other ingredients you enjoy, like avocado or celery...anything that can be finely diced I guess that seems to fit with the other flavours.

If I were eating meat I would have this for dinner paired with chicken fillets that had been rolled in dukkah and then pan fried.

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.

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

Tab-It's
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 attention....like 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.
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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?

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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?



Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Things We Say


Do you find yourself saying some unusual things to your children?  It seems to happen regularly around here.  Probably owing to my propensity for being direct.  And the fact that my children are just funny.

So, for your entertainment - a note recently written to my girls as I dashed out the door at 7.15am.  Written on a Thursday morning before my friend came to clean.  I simply cannot make her clean the hair out of the bath - all of which belongs to Miss Mischief!  And Miss Sunshine needs a big lead time to orient her mindset if I want her to cook dinner.

I got a text from Miss Sunshine later in the day suggesting we would not all die.  I don't believe her.  She's never tried to get away without feeding this mob of eaters.

What odd things have you found yourself saying to your kids?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Twenty Years in the Making - A Perfect Mother's Day


I haven't really enjoyed Mother's Day for well... my whole mothering life, although it has slowly improved in the past few years.  The best Mother's Day I had when the kids were small was the one two days after Mr Busy was born, because I was in hospital, being lavished with chocolate and being spoilt by nurses who get it.

Recently in our house we had a conversation around how much I don't enjoy Mother's Day.  My husband maintains that I am not his mother, and I pointed out that he had not taught his children to honour theirs.  To add insult to injury he has been overseas since late last week so he wasn't even here for Mother's Day.  At all!  As it turns out, that was the motivation the kids needed.  That, and the girls now have their own means and opportunity (money and transport) to make things happen without relying on anyone else.

On Sunday I woke up to gifts, purchased by children who thought about what would bless me.  After taking Mr Busy to church early I returned to ham and cheese croissants for breakfast.  Lunch was a cheese platter and dinner was a chicken and dauphine potatoes, a la Jamie Oliver, with apple pie for dessert.  We watched "The Dressmaker" together, and I got have a little nap.  It was perfect.


The day before I spent the day doing a flower arranging class, taught by a friend.  Mum drive down to Melbourne and joined me, and then I took her out to a local nursery/cafe for lunch and we wandered about the nursery afterwards.  In amongst writing reports and marking student work it was simply an amazing day.

So I think the Mother's Day curse has finally passed.

How was your Mother's Day?  Difficult?  Delightful?  Improving?  No hope in sight?

However it turned out, we can encourage one another and the other mothers know.  We can tell one another what an amazing job they are doing and honour the sacrifice, love and commitment they pour into the lives of their children.  Who do you need to encourage today?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Grasping at Health...A Delicious Quinoa Salad


I've learned something about myself over the past two years.  I am not a raging carnivore.  Don't get me wrong, I would miss it if I never got to eat meat, but I'm really happy not to eat it too.  The trouble with that is that the alternative - legumes - are not my friends.  I don't mind eating them, but then I don't want to be near me.  Which is pretty much inescapable!

We have had a bit of back-and-forward tussle in our house over things like couscous and quinoa.  I enjoy them; my family does not.  Until last night.  Inspired by a recipe from "Jamie's 15 Minute Meals" and a lunch I was served on a PD (Independent Schools Victoria completely spoil their seminar attendees!) I decided to try a quinoa salad.  My goal?  An ecstatic moan-inducing salad.  No pressure, right?

This salad?  Life-changing!

I cooked a cup of raw quinoa and half a cup pearl couscous using the absorption method in chicken stock, and then mixed that with:

  • toasted pinenuts
  • diced oranges
  • finely sliced spring onions
  • fried and diced haloumi (the haloumi I got from Costco - amazing!)
  • finely chopped parsley

After mixing it together I dressed it with the juice of a lemon and a good drizzle of olive oil.
I would have added avocado but mine weren't ripe yet, and if you preferred you could use feta.

All of my non-quinoa people enjoyed this salad.  Guess what's for lunch this week?!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Frog My House Killed


The last thing I expected to find on my lounge room floor, the other morning, was a frog.  In fact, it wasn't immediately obvious that the little brown blob was a frog.  The kids and I looked at it.  We discussed what it could be.  We looked at it some more.  And then I prodded it (because mothers are the bravest ones in the house), and the little blob kind of stretch a limb-looking thing.  Slowly.  Just a little.

It took a little bit to convince ourselves that we did, indeed, have a froggy little visitor.  After many questions about how it got inside (I just don't know, asking again won't get you an answer, people!) we decided that all the fluff and hair and dust had clogged up its ability to move, if it was alive enough to survive.

I got a tissue to pick it up, and tried to rinse it off a little with some water.  It stretch a little more.  Then I took it back outside into a protected, but wet, spot outside in the rain.  I suspect a kookaburra decided to eat it, because this poor little froggy friend really wasn't moving much.  It was certainly gone by the time I got home from work.

Miss Mischief was so excited that our house was healthy enough to have a frog in it.  I pointed out that the frog wasn't healthy anymore because our house had killed it.

Just in time, my very precious friend is coming to clean my house on Thursday.  Maybe then the house will be healthy enough not to kill a frog with dust bunnies and hair!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

She's Ours

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"Ooohhhh.  She's ours!"  My aunt made this proclamation as she hugged me tight.  "Us" who have little mercy and struggle to show sympathy.  "Us" straight-shooters who don't mince words, and tell it like it is.  "Us" who know these are not always strengths in a world of broken, messy people with expectations about how they should be treated.  I'm one of "us".

Changing churches four years ago ripped away so much of the belonging and being known that I had so treasured.  It happened under difficult circumstances as these things often do.  Rebuilding community and establishing new friendships has been slow.  Uncomfortable.  Difficult.  It has torn at the edges of my identity layers.  Not that who I am has changed, but who I am in the context of community just didn't exist for so very long.  In the first year or two at our current church I did a spiritual gifts survey.  Mostly it affirmed and confirmed things like me becoming a teacher.  I understood that my love of history and geography comes from my apostle/mission gift.  Apparently I am wise (a new career path kind of puts a bump in that road).  I have a spiritual knowledge that is supposedly heightened.  I don't know - these things just seem normal to me.  Then I looked at the bottom of the gifts.  Mercy was ... well ... almost missing.  I have just enough to know I need to work on it.

What I discovered, over Easter, as I spent time with my Mum's siblings is that my lack of mercy is a family trait.  I come from a long line of people who are not inclined to be overly sympathetic.  My mother described a time when my brothers and I had a week of injuring our feet.  A by-product of never wearing shoes that didn't seem to change our bare-footed ways!  I'd had a wort surgically removed from one foot, and then sliced the other open on some glass.  My youngest brother came in, just days later, having sliced his foot open in a similar way.  When my middle brother did the same thing later that week my mother's response was "sit down and be quiet," and she went to gather the foot dressing stuff that had not yet been put away.

I cannot explain what a relief it was to know that my lack of mercy is not unusual.  Each of us in my non-merciful family have other gifts the world needs us to use.  I among a beautiful group of people who are perfectly OK with their kids leaving home - celebrate it, even.  They are great at figuring out how to unlock passworded spreadsheets and fixing computer glitches and finding geocaches.  They are creative and funny and cheeky and they laugh a lot.

The precious gift I received this Easter was a repair in my identity.  Not just because the weekend was about remembering that Jesus made me part of God's family.  But because I truly belong to an amazing group of people.  And mercy isn't required to be valuable, loved, accepted.

Friday, 1 April 2016

School Holiday Lunch


I got the idea for this meal while we were in Ballarat over the Easter weekend.  We stopped at a little cafe for morning tea on our last morning, on our way to Mum & Dad's place.  I'd had breakfast so it was just a chai latte and some banana bread for me, but something on the breakfast menu piqued my fancy.  Breakfast bruschetta with with roasted cherry tomatoes and lemon ricotta and basil leaves.

My version has tomatoes, basil pesto, sauted mushrooms and some lemon infused ricotta.  Once the tomatoes are roasted it literally takes me as long as the bread takes to toast to pull it all together.  Pane di casa bread takes a little longer to toast so I throw the mushy's into a pan when I put the bread in to toast.  Two minutes later it's all on the plate.

After a breakfast of cooked fruit with some butter and maple syrup, topped with the same lemon ricotta, this has been the perfect thing to hit the holiday spot.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Mr Busy - The Spoilt One

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I think it is actually official in our house:  Mr Busy is the spoilt, youngest child.  The girls have been talking about being the favourite and the perfect ones.  Mr Busy was always left out of that loop, but today I figured it out.  I succumbed to his innocent-eyed ways when I had to take him back to the orthodontist to get a wire put back on.   He is just spoilt, and I pretty much stopped caring too much about that around him being 13yo. Aside:  Seriously - an hour of driving for a 2 minute job.  Two minutes.  What are we doing??!

Anyway, after two minutes he was back out and we were loose in a shopping centre.  You all know I've said how much I hate shopping, and I do.  But that's where we were.  So I took the opportunity to organise Gold Class tickets for Dh and I to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 next week and then Mr Busy decided we should "get coffee".  What this really means is that he should get coffee.  And cake.  And be royally spoiled just because he happens to exist.  Because he's the only boy.  Because he's out with a parent without any siblings.

He is also the child in our home at whom I have thrown utter garbage and called it school lunch.  White fluff, masquerading as bread, with cheese and bacon on top?  Sure that's a perfect lunch for a growing boy.   Every day.  For four weeks.  Can't eat bread too easily?  Of course tinned spaghetti is the perfect, nutritious alternative.

Clearly this child has sucked me into some youngest child vortex in which even the person with the least amount of niceness in them is just undone.

Well Done, Mr Busy.  Don't expect it to happen again - I'm on to you.  Except the spaghetti because braces are a whole thing.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

For the Love of Good Friends

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Ever since the beginning of the year I have been wrestling with how to find myself someone who would be willing to clean my house -- someone trustworthy and effective.  We're at the end of March and this has been something I haven't been able to get off my beam.  I haven't known where to look nor who to ask.

Yesterday I had lunch with a very precious friend.  We talked about a whole bunch of stuff -- faith challenges, kid challenges, life challenges.  In amongst our conversation I was talking about how tired I am in particular areas related to being a mother.  In amongst our conversation I mentioned that I need to outsource my cleaning.  A few minutes later we circled back to that idea and my very already-precious friend asked how I would feel if she did it?  How would I feel?  I nearly cried in relief.  I have had this friend on my mind for a long time for this task.  She is an awesome house cleaner!  Hers is spotless!  She needs a little extra income -- I have a job I'm willing to pay someone else to do.  She has the time -- I do not.

We decided the first week of term will be a good time to begin, and my balance beam just got a whole lot less tricky!

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A whole school term seems to have whirled by in a flurry since I last posted.  Working full time is not conducive to blogging!  My new little class of 18 Year 3's and 4's is gorgeous.  Apart from two new-to-the-school students I have known the rest since they were in Prep, respectively.  They are delightful.  I've worked very hard this term without some of the practical support structures of my previous school.  Over the past two weeks I've worked to put those structures into place for myself, so I'm expecting the coming term to be less overwhelming.

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Miss Mischief has begun her internship at church.  She is thriving and growing there, as I knew she would.  I somehow can't see a secular University for her.  Bible College seems a better fit.  One of her goals for the year was to determine what she should do next year.  She has deferred a degree in Criminology so will need to decide soon.  It's so hard when you really have no idea what you want to do with yourself.  Miss Sunshine always knew she wanted to be a teacher.  Me?  I figured I was good at typing fast so I went and did a secretarial course, a way back in the day.  I did not get out of bed with a zing in my step so I could go to work and type, I can tell you that!

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Mr Busy's teeth finally caught up with him.  Or maybe my full-time income did.  Either way my poor baby has just joined the ranks of fellow teens with braces.  By the end of Day 1 I wanted to take him back to the orthodontist and insist on their removal.  The moment a 15yo boy realises he can't eat is heartbreaking.  Especially when it comes with tears in his eyes.  The following day I had him alternating between panadol and neurofen.  Being at the same school was never more precious than that day!  Two weeks later he is getting used to things crashing about in his mouth and is eating more like usual.  Minus pizza crusts, bread, chocolate and lollies.  And his toothbrush follows him everywhere.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Christine Lindsay's "British Raj" Series - Complete at last!

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A way back in 2014 I had the incredible privilege of reading and reviewing Christine Lindsay's "British Raj" series.  A beautifully written, captivating trilogy set in colonial India.  I was very excited to get an email from the lovely Christine, this week, to tell me the final book is now available and the trilogy is complete.

I can only imagine the hours and hours of hard work to make this all happen.  I am so excited for Christine, but I am even more excited for her readers.  If you haven't read this trilogy you need to put it on your list of books to read very soon.

To see my reviews of Christine's books click on the links below.


If you want to buy Christine's you can find them on Amazon.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Lone Objector: Adulting Isn't So Bad

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I have two baby adults in my house.  You know this if you've read here for even two seconds.  Miss Sunshine seems to think that being an adult is the very most hardest thing in the world.  Miss Mischief thinks it's all a bit ho-hum and is more bemused by the fact that with a half-hour drive about with someone extra in the car she is now allowed to drive all by herself.  And feels like a rebel doing so.  This is my rule-follower child.

I don't remember that becoming an adult was all that difficult and I find myself rolling my eyes every time Miss Sunshine thinks she is overwhelmed.  The child has no idea.  She is nearly 20, studying and living at home.  She works casually (for her uncle) and has enough money to keep her car on the road and buy the things she wants to buy.  Conversely, at nearly 20, I had been working full-time for two years, was married, had moved out of home and was doing just fine doing the adult thing without my parents' help.

A friend of mine recently insisted that times were different when we were that age.  And while that is kind of true, it's kind of not.  We all still have to make the transition and it comes with having to get yourself a job, make your own decisions and eventually move out of home.  We all do it.  Generations before us did, and the generations that follow will too.

In complete opposition to my oldest daughter I was quite happy to become an adult.  I have spent more than half my life making my own decisions and being responsible for those decisions.  I have figured out hard things, like how to go about building a house (I was 21 when we did that), and buying a house.  How to navigate the Centrelink labyrinth and buying insurance for cars and houses.    For goodness sake I have managed to raise three kids.  That's jolly hard work, but also the best work ever.

I wonder when it happened, that we began to focus on how hard it is to be responsible for oneself, as opposed to just getting on with the next thing that needs to be done.  My kids have often complained that "they don't feel like xyz" whatever it is they don't feel like doing.  I have just as often told them that it doesn't necessarily matter how you feel about getting out of bed/doing the dishes/doing your homework/going to work/handing in that assignment.  You just do it because it needs to be done.

Lots of being an adult is about being responsible for your obligations, whatever they are.  But lots of being an adult is getting to make fun decisions too.  I just don't think it's all as bad as it apparently seems.

Mantra for my baby adults:  You can do hard things.  Be brave!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Productive Kitchen Day - Busy Term Protection!


I was watching episodes of Rachael Ray's "Week in a Day" yesterday morning and I was completely inspired to cook some meals ahead.  Off I went to do some grocery shopping and got myself organised.  Then I got to work.  Above is a photo at about the mid-point of my cook-fest.

Can I just say, cooking ahead in one day = very hard work.

Despite my sore feet and back and needing a nice long nap afterwards I now have in my freezer:

  • 3 meals of chicken burgers + 3 extra patties for a light-on-people night
  • 1 roasted vegetable lasagne (I made two, only one made it to the freezer!)
  • 1 vegetable pasta sauce (from making the lasagne)
  • 3 meals of sloppy joe mince
After getting all that together I was too tired and sore to make the risotto I had planned on, so we ate one of the two lasagnes for dinner.  It was so much better than I imagined it would be!  You know when you take ideas from a few places and then make it up from there to suit yourself?  Yes.  That was my lasagne.  I'll post a recipe another day because it was just beautiful.  The best part is that I managed to hide eggplant and red capsicums by finely dicing all the veggies instead of leaving them as thin strips or rounds.  All together you just got a beautiful rich veggie sauce.  Any other way there would have been complaints and picking things out.  I am the winner!

As much as I love the protective layer that meals in the freezer gives me I think doing so much in one day is probably not my favourite way.  I suspect I would rather just double and triple recipes on the day I intend to make them.  Which is good to know about myself.  Or I could just sit on the other side of the bench for all the chopping, rather than be on my feet for hours.

What I am looking forward to?  A term's worth of "Fend for Yourself Friday" meals, courtesy of the burgers and sloppy joe meat.  I stopped planning Friday nights because two of the kids would be gone before I could even think about getting home so they had toasted sandwiches or eggs on toast or leftovers.  Or nothing.  I have no idea!  This year I'll be able to get home by 5pm, but they'll still be dashing off not long after I get home.  This way they'll have something they can pull out and when they need it and there will be food for others who come along later.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Spring Cleaning: The Last Mt Everest

Before - View from the front door

I have done it.  I have tackled Mt Everest and won the battle.  Above is a picture of my personal Mt Everest.  While I was studying this little corner was fairly tidy and organised.  Since I finished (over a year ago!) this has become the place where I dump my stuff.  I don't work here because the modem doesn't seem to like the front room and I have sketchy internet at best.  Besides, it's much more relaxing to sit in front of the telly, so that's where I tend to work when I bring things home.

It took me hours of riffling through piles and bags and bits and pieces.  I threw out a whole bunch of stuff I haven't looked at in ages.  It is so tempting, as a teacher, to keep great resources.  I have decided, however, that there is little point to keeping much beyond the year level I currently teach, and so much of what I have is also in electronic version on my computer.  

After - View from the front door

I have reduced my rubbish tip to one bookshelf and moved the little filing cabinet to another corner of the room where it doesn't look too out of place.  What you can't see are all the things I need to take to school.  I didn't realise how much I had collected, but I'm thinking a big plastic box/tub will keep all those things contained and defined as mine.

I think that is the last frontier that needed my attention over the summer.  I refuse to deal with the kids' rooms.  We will fumigate and replace carpet when they leave.  Just kidding...sort of.  Actually maybe it's just Mr Busy.  In any case, doors were created for their ability to close so that's the method I use to deal with their messes.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Of Dust and Other Thankless Tasks


I have spent the last two days cleaning.  Since this is one of my "off the beam" things this year you'll understand how I might feel about it.

After packing down the Christmas tree and spending an hour vacuuming every corner of the room to get rid of fake tree needles and tinsel I have rearranged furniture and got that room back to non-Christmas normal.  And you know what?  I didn't even get to dusting.  Oh dear... and oh well.  After a day deal with all that I went in to spend some time in my new classroom.  Guess what?  More dust!  Two of the kids and I spent two hours dusting, cleaning, sorting and I rearranged a whole bunch of Maths resources.  I threw a whole bunch of old stuff out that has been there way too long.  I still have a whole bunch of shelves behind my desk that I need to go through as well, but that will happen another day.  I have a whole year after all!

My last school holiday cleaning job?  Cleaning out the little corner that has been my "office" for the last five years.  I don't work at that desk anymore and it just collects junk.  My junk.  And since it's right near the front door everyone sees my little pile Mt Everest-sized pile of junk.  Must deal with it. Today perhaps.

Just as well these thankless tasks, that no one else appreciates, brings a certain amount of satisfaction when you finish them yourself.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Parenting Files: Driveway Real Estate


We have a new driver in the house.  Yesterday Miss Mischief became the proud bearer of a Victorian Probationary Driver's Licence.  She came home, sent texts to the people she wanted to tell and then promptly got into her little itty bitty car  (whose wheels are half the size of mine!) and went over to a friend's house.  Just like that.  I'm here to tell you that maiden voyage is the scariest, hardest, worst moment of my parenting life.  It's so much easier when you are in the car with them, which is saying something.  Supervising learner drivers is certainly no picnic.

With the procuring of that precious little piece of paper comes the real issue.  Driveway real estate.  We have a two-car carport...and four cars.  The girls have been coming up with all kinds of solutions to this problem:

  1. Rip out the garden on one side and widen the driveway.
  2. Remove the picket fence so they can park on the front lawn.
  3. Remove the entire front garden area and make it parking space.
I think the solution is that we will be moving cars about a lot.  There is room for the four, with two in front of the carport.  It's squeezy but adequate.  In winter you can bet we'll all want to be under cover, rather than enduring icy windscreens and wiper water sprayers that freeze up.  Maybe Dh and I can start our own little real estate business and charge exorbitant amounts of rent each time a P Plated car ends up there?!  Actually the more pragmatic part of myself tends to think the first one out in the morning needs to be in front.  Under those circumstances I may never see the carport again.  Last year I was the first to leave almost every day.

I think I can wait a long while until Mr Busy joins the ranks of licence drivers.  

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

On The Beam

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Are you someone who sets themselves New Year's resolutions?  Do you keep them?  I've heard of people choosing a word to define their year, rather than setting lofty, unplanned goals.  Me?  I've tried both and failed.  At both.  You'd think a word was easier to hang on to, but no.  Life gets hectic and that word is a vague and distant memory.

I've decided my year's beginning needs to be defined by what's on my beam and what's not.  I can hear you asking -- what on earth are you talking about Tracy?  Late last year I read "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker, who is one of my very most favourite author people.  Hilarious, real, a little bit snarky with her sarcasm.  A foodie.  In her book Jen talks about her daughter learning gymnastics and how she struggles most with the balance beam.  She goes on to compare those 'tricks' with the things we try to juggle in our lives.

I am someone who has big issues with balance.  I have long maintained that any activity requiring balance is something best avoided by me, in preference to good health.  I can't stay on a horse.  Ever. I can't roller or ice skate.  In fact, I am the only person on earth who doesn't improve their skills over the three or four hours you might be on skates (read: I grab onto anything and anyone in order to stay upright because I can't do it on my own).  Skiing is a dead loss.  Who wants to land on your butt any time you try to stand up?  It hurts!  I won't even bother trying things like skateboarding.  Seriously?  Who dreamed up these torturous things?  And bike riding?  Just no.  I can fall over my own feet quite successfully, I don't need some apparatus to help me out!  The idea of comparing the things we juggle in life to a balance beam made so much sense to me.  I am so epically bad a balance stuff, and I am epically bad a whole bunch of life stuff too!

"We cannot do it all, have it all, or master it all.  That simply is not a thing.  May I tell you something?  Because women ask constantly how I "do it all," let me clear something up:  
I HAVE HELP".
~ Jen Hatmaker (For the Love)

So what's on my balance beam this year?

  • Family - mothering, wife-ing, daughtering, sistering, aunty-ing.
  • Work - a new teaching job at a school with which I am intimately familiar.  It'll be hard but worthwhile work.
  • Church - I am continuing to lead a teeny little Life Group; an unlikely little handful of women.
  • Health - what can I say?  A whole bunch of clothes I love, that I want to wear again.  Also a hill at school that I don't want to be winded by every time I have to walk up it.  There's a lot of up at school.  I don't like up!  I want to be able to like up a little more than I do currently.
  • Friends - because these are the people who make life work.  That means book club with some of my favourite girlfriends.  It means breakfast on a Saturday with another friend.  It means spending time with people close to us.  There always needs to be time for friends.
What am I taking of my beam this year?
  • House cleaning.  I'm going to start looking for someone to come and clean.  Floors and bathrooms is all I really want.  So on my beam initially is finding someone.  And then that's off.  I typically score an epic fail in this area and the kids don't do a good enough job for me to be satisfied.   Seriously?  The dust bunnies that grow around here could kidnap a small child and hide them forever!  I don't like clutter but cleaning is a whole other trick I need to get off my beam.  Yesterday I spent some time just vacuuming around the edges of all the rooms with wood floors, and the window sills, and under the computer wires, and around the TV cabinet.  You know...all the places a grown up person cleans.
  • Cooking every night.  I just can't.  To come home after 5.30pm, following a whole day of little people (littler than last year, even) and have to cook dinner?  This has ended in tears over the last six months.  So off the beam!  There has to be some good from having baby adult people who know how to use a kitchen living in your house.
  • Guilt.  I won't feel guilty about saying no to the stuff that doesn't fit my season.  I know my season is about learning to do my job well and efficiently.  I know my season is about getting baby adults to be grown up adults.  I know my season is about cheering on the 15yo who needs to be more diligent at school.  My season is not about saying yes to stuff just because it's "good".  It needs to fit into what I'm currently called to be doing
"We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead by wise".
~ Jen Hatmaker (For the Love)

What are you balancing that you need to take off your beam?  What are your keeping on your beam?  What's in your season right now?