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.