Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Overcoming Fear

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Last week I realised I have an issue with fear.  Actually it's been a problem for well over a decade, but I seem to be a bit slow on the update.  A moment of dumbness on my part, for sure.

It all started because of a couple of sermons at church, recently, about overcoming fear.  I didn't think much about it, until the week I went back to work.  Then I was back to my insomniac ways: whirring thoughts, waking up panicking over all the things I hadn't managed to get completed.  And then of course, we're walking Miss Sunshine through overcoming her very real, and understandable fears about driving on dirt roads.

Fear seems to have become a theme for the month of January!

Last week I realised that we use a lot of different words that are all different ways to say fear:  doubt, worry, anxiety, concern, despair, dread, panic, unease.  All of these feelings come from a place of fear.  When I realised that these were some of the adjectives for my early morning feelings I decided it was time to get this sorted out once and for all.

I am a Bible reader, and there is this great verse that tells me exactly what to do.  It's awesome.  It's one of my favourite verses, because it's so practical.  I've taught my school babies about this verse and watched them put it into practice and conquer their fears.  Apparently I'm not great at putting it into practice myself!!  Rats!
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hears and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
 The first bit of the verse is where the turnaround begins.  Don't worry about anything.  That's not a flippant instruction or statement.  It is a directive to make a choice not to partner with fear; not to engage with it, to turn your back on it.  Choose a different way.  A better way is to pray about everything.  I love that I get to chat with God about the stuff I'm worried about and leave it with him. This is when I choose to remind myself of God's characteristics, his faithfulness, that he has already won my battle with fear.  That's what I choose to partner with, because that's Truth.

What was I worried about last week?  Getting everything done to have my classroom and my lessons planned for this week.  My room has had a new ceiling, paint, new roof, new lights, new ceiling fans and optic fibre installed over summer.  I didn't get the lights back up til last Friday.  Our internet network has been sketchy because it was also having a major overhaul.  I finally got to print stuff on Saturday!  I needed three days in my classroom, I had the equivalent of one!  So on Sunday night I decided to follow the advice found in Philippians.  I decided I didn't want to partner with fear.  I told God what I was worried about and what I felt I needed.  This morning?  I woke early, but later than I had been waking.  Not panic, no worry, no whirring thoughts going a million miles an hour.  I just lay there thinking about all the things I was going to get to do with my kids today.

Do you know what the antonyms for fear are?  They are great words:  calm, confidence, contentment,  faith, ease, joy, courage, fearlessness.  That's how I want to be able to describe my life!

My students came back to school today and we had a great time.  As much as I am looking forward to  having Wednesday's off this year, I can't wait to get back on Thursday.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Meet Our Newest Family Member

No, no.  Not new 'people' family members.  Nor pets.  With adults and near adult children I am done with the people variety of new family members, and I am absolutely not a pet person.  Ask anyone who knows me in real life (although Frances' Travis is mighty cute, even to me!)

Miss Sunshine is the very excited, and proud new owner of a Mazda 3.  It is one of the few things that has her keen to be driving again, after Chelsea's untimely demise.  This has been her dream car for a quite a while now, and I'm not really sure why a 20yo gets to have her dream car already.  I had to wait 'til I was 44!  But this car fit the desire and the budget I had set for Miss Sunshine (read: I wasn't willing to hand over any more than the set budget!).  A budget she agreed to, by the way, because she will need to repay it.

So meet Luna.

She is officially metallic blue, but looks a bit purple in the right sunshine.  Luna is now trying to figure out where she belongs in the driveway real estate pecking order and we're back to shuffling cars again.  Someone is going to need to move out before Mr Busy gets are car in a couple of years (less if he had his way πŸ™„).

Meanwhile, last night I took Miss Sunshine to drive on the dirt road that caused all the kerfuffle in the first place.  It was not without some high, but controlled, emotion, but it was an uneventful drive and all ended safely back home again.  All that is left now is prayer for healing her mind of the fear.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

And then I went back to work.

I'm still not convinced I'm ready to return to work, even after I started back yesterday.  By lunch time I was desperate for an afternoon nap, but decided hiding under my desk to do so was probably not going to go down well.  We had someone sign himself out, a few years ago, and then have a nap under his desk.  To say his wife was frantic, when he wasn't at home, nor thought to be at school, is an understatement!  So no nap.

But rhubarb relish.  I had my favourite lunch, and the Secondary Indonesian teacher questioned me "is that all you have".  I told her yes, but it was sooooo good.  But it comes with lots of containers - for crackers, and cheese, and butter, and relish.  My teaching partner had a little taste of some leftover and she wants the recipe.  One of the others in my teaching team has parents in law with lots of rhubarb plants.  I suggested she could hand some my way, because I now know I'll never have enough!

The other issue, my return to walk highlighted, is the dinner cooking situation.  The children seemed to forget that I was out all day until 5.45pm, and they were home.  Dinner was meant to be quiche.  It was frozen chicken pieces (from Costco) with a pasta salad Miss Sunshine had made the kids for lunch, and had intended to eat today as well.  Too bad, I say, since she didn't make dinner.

I find that if Dh continues his laundry ways and the kids can cook dinner, I seem to manage alright.  Coming home at 6pm and having to cook?  Not so great.

What helps you manage the home/work juggling act?

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Downside of Clean Windows

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We are now two days post window washing, and my eyes have been having a not-so-fun party.  Miss Sunshine thought they were puffy on Wednesday morning.  On Thursday it felt like there was a weight sitting on my eyelids.  Apparently if you are washing window fly screens you should beware of the dust, and you should be very careful not to touch your eyes if you've had your hands in water with dishwashing liquid.  Especially if you are sensitive to said liquid.  Maybe I should have waited to wash all the screens with the gerni?

Note to self.  Do not touch eyes when cleaning.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Rhubarb Relish - On Every Lunch

When we were up at Mum and Dad's last week, our everyday lunch was fresh bread rolls, cold meat and salad.  On the first day Mum insisted I try some new relish she's made, unfortunately she only pressed me once I'd had my roll and I was reluctant, because I am not a huge relish/chutney fan.  I'll eat them, but won't be all out for them.

Rhubarb relish?  Total game changer!  This is my new favourite lunch, pictured above.  And by favourite I mean totally obsessed.  Wholemeal Prista crackers from Aldi, butter, rhubarb relish and Colby cheese (I use a veggie peeler because I like my cheese thinly sliced).  And I am disappointed when this can't be my lunch.  This relish stopped me in my tracks and I insisted on the recipe, because you know, I have a rhubarb plant that is thriving.

I am totally in love with this relish.  Want to know what I'm on about?  Have a go for yourself.  Mum says it's super simple (I'm still enjoying the jar she generously gave me), and since my Mum isn't not prone to long, finickity recipes, you can believe this is super easy and unfiddly.

~ Rhubarb Relish ~

1kg rhubarb, chopped (about 1cm in length)
4 onions, finely chopped
4 cups sugar
10 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup white vinegar

  1. Combine ingredients in a pot and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Blend if you think the rhubarb is too stringy (I would use a stab blender)
  3. Decant into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
Ta da.  You will need ten thousand rhubarb plants to keep up with the addiction this stuff will birth in you.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

And then the Windows Sparkled

I've just had a whirlwind 24 hours with my parents visiting.  Dad needs to be close to home for the next couple of months, so they came down so he could do some phone repairs for us, because he's very clever with things like that.  We have no clue on earth!  So while Dad fiddled with wires and crawled under the house (he likes that we live on a slight hill, because space!) Mum decided she would clean my windows.

Well.  You will never ever see cleaner, sparklier windows than these.  A little cloudy ammonia, some water, a few swipes and lots of WOW!  So since Mum was cleaning the glass and needed to remove the screens to do those panes I figured I'd clean the screens.  Every time I look near a window, now, all I see is outside.  No dirt.  No dust.  No mould.  Just outside.

My mother is a very funny lady, with a brain for problem-solving.  She happened upon this cleaning method because she was cleaning grout with cloudy ammonia, and she began wondering what it would do for her windows.  Not being one to die wondering, she gave it a go.  And then wanted to bless me with her magic window cleaning potion.  I am definitely the winner.  Her very diplomatic assertion was that cleaning my windows was very satisfying.  I'll bet...some of them were pretty awful.

This is yet another episode in a lifetime of ammonia events for my mother.  I remember, when I was 9yo, and we had not long since moved to Wewak (PNG).  I came home from school one day to find Mum on her hands and knees with a bottle of ammonia and a bread and butter knife, in the kitchen.  She was scraping years of floor polish off the floor boards.  I distinctly remember the acrid stench and that I very quickly left the house and went outside.  But Mum pressed on, because she is not only funny, but also very determined (some call it stubborn, but I think determined is a kinder description to this trait, which she has passed down the line of oldest daughters).  That polish was also embedded with grime and mould, so she did not stop until it was done.  And then she took to caring for that floor properly, until they refinished the floorboards a few years later.

Me?  I'm scared of ammonia!  Hopefully the windows stay shiny for a long, long time!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Parenting and Teaching - Same, Same, But Different

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It seems that, not matter how old your kids, or whose kids, or how many kids, most of the conversations I seem to have with kids (at home and at school) follow some pretty narrow and repetitive scripts.

#1  Highlights not Details
I am not a details kind of person.  I just need the general gist of something that takes about 2 minutes - not the half-hour, fine detail version.  The problem is kids don't understand summarising for the main points.  I'm sure my eyes roll back in my head - I know I kind of switch off a bit.

#2  Where did you put it last?
Because children never seem to know where THEY put THEIR stuff.  I sure can't track what they do, especially when there's 20 of them!

#3  What do I get if I find it?
This quickly follows #2, because inevitably said child does not understand the concept of actually lifting things and moving things with their actual hands in order to see if their "something" is hiding beneath all the other rubbish they possess.

#4  I love you - that's why I mix your names up!
This covers a multitude of name-mixing sins.  And I am an expert at it.  For the last week I've just had Dh & Mr Busy at home while the girls have been off housesitting.  Cannot tell you how often Mr Busy gets called his Dad's name.  Which is his middle name, so not such a stretch.  When Dh gets called Mr Busy's name....no such excuses.  I have been known to call a child their sibling's name, when I've never worked with the sibling.  *sigh*

#5  I don't need your help being a grown up
Children don't seem to understand that I lived a whole lot of life, quite successfully, without them telling what to do and how to do it.  At school this is also stated as "I went to Uni for four years to learn to do my job - you have a lot of school to do before you get to take over".

#6  When was the last time your nagging changed my answer?
You know, what they ask the same question a thousand different ways, hoping for a different answer?  My own children have finally figured out this doesn't work.  Well...Mr Busy still tries it.  The kids in my class?  After a year they still had to have this pointed out.

#7  What did I say?
After they've tried about three different ways of asking the same question....

#8  The rules haven't changed!
Because kids seem to think a different location, or a different grown up will change the behaviour expectations.

#9  What did I ask you to do?
Cannot tell you how often children get distracted on the way to complying with a direction or instruction.  Mr Busy used to find it hard because "his teddies were always talking to him" (he was about 4yo).  My 10yo's at school?  They would rather chat or wrestle than remember what they were meant to do.  Or they just weren't tuned in, in the first place.  My baby adults are like "oh, you actually meant it?  Like, now?"

#10  Is this working for you?
In response to inappropriate behaviour choices, the outcome of which means I have to intervene with some stern words, and said child looks totally uncomfortable about being called out on their behaviour.

And of course, often a pointed stare can remind children of the repetitive script they are likely to hear, if I actually have to say words!

What things do you find yourself repeating constantly?

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Fresh Eyes

I began the summer holidays with some stitching, and discovered I couldn't see that well.  Again.  The last time I got my lens prescription updated, stitching was the instigator!  Yesterday I went and picked up my new specs - two for the price of one, thank you very much Spec Savers.

The black will stay at home, the pink will go everywhere else I go.  I have had two sets before and found it very helpful in preventing those forgetful moments, where I neglect to take my glasses with me.  I cannot tell you how often I phone Mr Busy at about 7.30am with a "Can you please find *xyz* and bring it to school with you?" phone call.  He makes an excellent courier, by the way.  His bus arrives at school right as we finish staff devotions so we connect on his way to his classroom and I am reunited with whatever it is I've phoned him to bring.

Glasses and computer cords top the list of things I forget. Once it was earrings.  He thought that was a tad weird, but the girls helped out with that one.

I can now read small print, thread a needle and get that needle in the right spot.  It's meant losing a little distance vision while I'm wearing the glasses - but I can peer over the top to get that!  I cannot tell you how much I leave seeing clearly!!!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

R.I.P Chelsea

I think I may have mentioned that the girls have named their cars.  A trait passed down from my mother, and which skipped a generation!  Miss Sunshine's car was named Chelsea.  Despite not having power windows, she was quite attached to Chelsea.  Until Wednesday.  Chelsea has been sent off to car heaven under some not-so-pleasant circumstances.

As of today, Chelsea has been farewelled with registration and insurance refunds on their way.  Thankfully, Miss Sunshine only has a graze, a bump, and muscle stiffness.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The School Shirt Graveyard

I'm still in the process of tidying up my dining room - I'll post before and after photos when I'm content that I'm done.  It's one of those projects that seems to be best done in little snatches, rather than exhausting myself to get it all done at once.  In the meantime there have been some interesting finds.  Or more accurately, rediscoveries of things that had gone missing.

For example I found the glass confectionary jars given to me by a student at the end of my first teaching job.  I knew they'd come home and then didn't know where I'd put them.  Well...I'm not wondering anymore!  I also went through a bag that came out of the boot of my old car.  I've had my new car for 15 months now. πŸ™„

Then I unearthed this little pile of school sports shirts.  Our school doesn't have a uniform, except for this one item, to be worn the day the kids do PE and if they are off site for excursions or sports days.  Having had three kids wear these shirts over many years, we have had to enough for each of them to wear one in their current size.  And then as the kids grew they were replaced, and the too-small shirts handed down.  Until finally, Mr Busy, the last one at school, owns one shirt in his current, tall size.  The girls have kept the shirt the each had in Year 12.

The five on this chair have been cleared out of Mr Busy's wardrobe over time.  These are headed for my brother's girls, who also attend Our School, and who both still have many years ahead of them!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Rhubarb Harvest

My lush, full rhubarb plant

Before I began studying and then working full time I used to plant a summer garden - zucchinis, tomatoes, capsicums and beans were all growing nicely about this time of year.  Ahhhh, those were the days!  One day I was lamenting our lack of rhubarb plant to my mother, and what do you know, next time we saw them I was handed a plant from one of Mum's.

I managed to get that thing planted reasonably quickly (thank you Mr Busy!) and then we left it to do its thing.  More than anything I was stunned that it lived.  We are definitely gardeners of the "survival of the fittest" variety.  If anything takes special care it just doesn't survive.  Rhubarb, then, is my kind of plant.  Plant it and off it goes!

So after the OK from Mum, over Christmas, I harvested my rhubarb this week.  All I had to be wary of was making sure I left the new shoots alone.  I can do that!

My rhubarb plant all trimmed

I'm planning rhubarb muffins and apple and rhubarb crumble, using Shauna Niequist's Blueberry crisp recipe (from "Bread and Wine").  Miss Sunshine and Miss Mischief are off housesitting for some friends so I can go ahead and use the ground almonds to my heart's content!

My rhubarb harvest

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Scented Scourge of Summer

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I've been trying very hard to think that an early morning walk is an enjoyable way to get in some much needed exercise.  It's not the early morning bit that is the problem!  Early morning walks in Our Town are quite an event.  During the week peak time is anywhere from 6am to 8am.  Before the town gets busy and you need to dodge school kids and shoppers.  I'm go on the early end, so I don't have to see so many people.  It's the introvert in me, I guess.  Especially since it requires some semblance of mental wakefulness, as walkers always greet one another with a smile and "morning" as they pass one another.  It's quite a culture; one I took some adjusting to when we first moved here!  Down in the suburbs you just looked at the ground and pounded along without looking at fellow walkers.

As well as not really being an exercise lover, my efforts are also being challenged by chestnut flowers.  I walked out the door this morning and I was hit with a face full of chestnut flower smell.  There is one lone tree, across the road and down a few houses, and it absolutely stinks.  It seems this is something to which only some blessed people are sensitive.  Miss Mischief and I can barely breathe for the strong smell.  The rest of the family don't really notice it.

I hope those neighbours like chestnuts - there has to be some good reason for that tree to smell so bad!  Personally, I don't even like the nuts.  We had a chestnut tree right outside our house once.  I tried them, as fresh as they could possibly be.  They did nothing for me.

Fortunately once I get passed that tree everything is sweet smelling.  Birds chirping, ants crawling, bees buzzing and people saying good morning.  I guess it's worth braving that first whiff of chestnut for a few weeks.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Shades of Pink

It's not often I do a load of laundry.  Hubby is the washer-man in our household.  Every now and then I do gather up a load of whites or delicates, or in this case, pinks.  I realised, only today, how many of my tops are pink, when I had hung everything on the line.  I had one delicate top, so threw in a handful of coloureds to make the load slightly worthwhile.  You can see one apricot-coloured shirt behind the front line.  Otherwise, they're all shades of pink, from light to very dark burgundy.

Despite what this looks like, I do own other colours.  Like a green and blue.  But mostly pink.

What's your favourited clothing colour?  Is it deliberate or purely accidental?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Dear Facebook....

Dear Facebook

It seems to me we are at an impasse.  One that neither of us seems willing to negotiate our way through.  I am a fierce abstainer.  I know your aim is to connect people, and that makes me look like a snob.  But actually, I've watched family members and friends who are so attached to you, they forget to live their real, actual lives.  And they lose hours and hours of time scrolling through I-don't-know-what-garbage that other people have liked.  I don't have people in far away places with whom I need to keep in touch.  All my people are close by - a text or an email away at most.  I also don't feel the need to post events in my life for the game of seeing how many people "like" what I'm doing.  Or maybe that's just my competitive in-law family.  But I don't think it's just them.

The problem here, dear Facebook, is that you are very bossy.  You demand that I sign up.  Every time I want to read what one of my four favourite personalities have written you pop up a little screen, through which I can see nothing, that says I need to sign up to see more.  I don't want to see more.  I just want to see today's post without clicking those stupid screens away multiple times.  It's not my fault people have moved away from friendly blogs that accept anyone who wants to read them.  I have no intention of commenting or liking or whatever else people do with posts they like.  I just want to read and move on with my day.  That's it.  It takes me about 5 minutes.  Or it would, if you would stop making me click those annoying screens, and then clicking that I want to "see all" posts rather than a summary of different media that person has posted.  Quite frankly, I am starting to resent the fact that you insist that I sign up.

I have a proposition for you.  If you could remove those pop-up screens that remind me I am not signed up, and just let me read those four people's pages, we could probably live quite harmoniously.  I won't demand anything from you, and I would love it if you didn't demand anything from me.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Fun - 20yo Style

Miss Sunshine's car is off the road for a couple of days, thanks to a cracked windscreen.  This morning I drove her, just like old times, to one of her friend's homes for some good old fashioned girlfriend time.

And what do 20yo young women do when they get together?  Make gingerbread houses, of course.  It matters not that the season for such things is now passed.  You wouldn't want to let that get in the way of a good thing!

I love that these three girls, who spent most of their Primary years and all of their Secondary with each other, and that they still value their friendship.  They spend the whole day making gingerbread and then creating cute little cottages - one each to share with their families.  Miss Sunshine's is now missing half a roof.  The most delicious roof you ever did taste!

Of course life with a 20yo is never smooth sailing, especially if said child is one that needs to be the boss of her own space.  I believe "tanty" adequately explains the whining little hissy fit that happened as we left the house.  Something about sap and having just washed her car.  If only life was so perfect that sap never happened!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Welcome to 2017

Gardens at Entally House (near Launceston)

Happy New Year everyone!

My 2017 has begun slowly and quietly.  You know that saying "begin as you intend to continue"?  I'd be quite content for a slow and quiet year.  Of course, that's highly unlikely, but maybe just being aware of making slow, quiet choices is a good way to begin.

We have ended up being home for the summer holidays this year, for perhaps the first time ever.  In a couple of days the girls are off to housesit for friends who are in Austria for a few weeks.  Mr Busy, Dh and I may spend a few days with my parents, near Ballarat.  Otherwise, it's just reading, and napping, and movie-watching, and planning a kitchen overhaul, and trying very hard to avoid watching cricket.  Given Dh's adoration for the game, this leaves me with lots of YouTube watching, or watching catch-up TV online.  Thank you unlimited internet!  I think the slothful life needs to come to an end, so I'm beginning to think about bite-sized tasks that need to be dealt with before I head back to work in a few weeks.

  • Clear out dining room.  We don't use the dining room for dining.  Ever.  So it has become Dh's "Chinese Laundry" and general dumping area.  I can't stand it!  That'll be the makings of a before and after post, I think.
  • Deal with Yr12 Artworks.  With two girls having done Yr12 Studio Arts, we have some bulky items that have been languishing, inconveniently, about the place.  These. Must. Go!  I'm going to be setting a time line, after which they cannot reasonably expect these pieces to continue their space-clogging ways.
  • Term Planning.  What can I say, I have some work that needs to get done before I arrive back at school for  what we call "Work Break" - that time between teachers going back to school and when the kids start back.
  • Friend catch up's.  I need to schedule in some time with a few friends.
  • Freezer Stock Up.  This will need to be closer to going back to school - a trip to Costco and some pre-cooking preparation will go a long way to keeping us fed with less stress at dinner time.
  • Kitchen Preparation.  I need to look into kitchen sinks, tap ware and tile for the backsplash.  I have a design consultant coming in this week, so I'll likely need to add to that list.  Having said that, I already know what style of doors, door handles and bench top I want.
That'll do me!  I need to make sure I have space to continue my slow and quiet beginning to the year.

What are your short-term goals for the summer (or winter, if that's what you've got going where you are)?