Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Over the four years of my degree my children made it very clear that we should travel to Tasmania for me to graduate in person, rather than in absentia.  In fact, they declared that we had all earned a little graduation trip.  Indeed they were correct.  It is only with the support of my incredible family that I have had the freedom to pursue a degree and I think we all more than earned a little holiday to go with graduating interstate.

My University is located in Tasmania - they do an excellent job of distance education and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying with them.  We spent the first half of our trip in Launceston,  beginning with my graduation.  The ceremony was an incredibly uplifting and inspiring occasion.  I was particularly moved by the occasional address presented by a lecturer from my faculty.  She reminded us that we should not settle for our students to be limited by our perception of them.  Rather we should aim to inspire them to be the very best they can be.  She articulated all I believe about this with beautiful eloquence.

I also learned what the Latin on the University's logo means:  "the field is open to talent".  I liked that.  It tells me I should dream big.  I should aim high.  And I should step fully into the field I have chosen and the best educator I can possibly be.

And then we spent a few days just being tourists.  I'll post more about that soon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

More from Miss Sunshine

Miss Sunshine posted her sketches on her Facebook page (something she signed up for when told she should move out rather than get a pet.  Apparently Facebook is a sufficient alternative to having a pet) and got lots of family love.  Amongst the "Oh, you get that from our side of the family", as if my genetics are meaningless, there were requests and challenges issued.  Frosty was a request.  The oldest cousin in that family was issued a challenge when he suggested her efforts were below par.  His offering was "sad and pitiful" and Miss Sunshine remains the queen of the sketch.

As for the genetics, my mother is quite skilled with sketching.  Dh's family may have some artistic skill, but Miss Sunshine and my Mum surpass them all.

This one is my personal favourite, because Hugh Jackman.  I've never watched Wolverine or X-Men, but still. 

Our school receptionist suggested we should frame and sell Miss Sunshine's works.  When she asked why, we responded "because money!"  Miss Sunshine hadn't thought of that!  I think she should sketch a picture of our Principal.  They have a little morning routine that has been lost with her departure from school.  I think he misses her cheery "Hi Mr R---" every day.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Miss Sunshine is bored....

Miss Sunshine's sketch of Bilbo Baggins

I've not had much to say lately so I thought I'd share some of Miss Sunshine's sketches.  This is the product of her I've-just-finished-school boredom. 

Miss Sunshine's sketch of Jack Sparrow

They say pictures tell a thousand words and I have none of my own to share.  Miss Sunshine is a freak of nature when it comes to sketching though, so I thought I'd share these instead. I really want her to email me a picture of today's sketch of Hugh Jackman.  Because if I wasn't married to my husband I might be all about the gorgeous Hugh.  When she sends it and Frosty I'll post those too.

In the meantime I've resigned from work and will officially be unemployed in January.  There are just no words.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Out of the Cocoon

I feel a bit like a caterpillar who has been in a cocoon for a few weeks and have finally emerged!

I realised, this morning, that I've been in blogging hibernation for quite a long time.  Not for any difficulty going on.  Quite the opposite.  My days have been completely filled in good and beautiful ways.

Teaching rounds.

Five weeks of working full time.
Five weeks of getting to know, and operating in, a new environment.
Three of those weeks, teaching full time.
Lots of planning (that's an understatement, by the way).
Lots of late nights searching the interwebs for activities and ideas (how did people teach without the internet anyway?).

I have had a complete and utter blast.  As well as the class I was invited to teach in, I got to teach across the senior primary classes with a streamed maths program and a three-week rotating program on Friday mornings.  All of the kids were completely delightful.  Of course every class has their 'characters' and those that find classrooms difficult when they'd rather be outside doing stuff.  But those kids seem to be the ones who endear themselves the most!  I've learnt a lot about managing a class when they hit the mid-term, end-of-year feral week.  We overcame that challenge and the kids went back to being their amazingly wonderful selves again.  It was a bit like someone took over their bodies for a day or two.  Yesterday one of the girls said "oh yeah, we were just helping you learn".  We all laughed, and I thanked her for caring enough about me to want me to learn everything I could.

The staff were incredibly affirming and encouraging.  Such a beautiful working environment!

There is always the bittersweet return to normal life that comes next.  I can't wait to see my school babies.  I can't wait to catch up with my colleagues.  I can't for life to get back to normal.  But it means I don't get to be the teacher.

In this past week I have had all my final grades released.  I have passed everything.

I am now a teacher.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Book Review: Veiled at Midnight, by Christine Lindsay

Author’s Synopsis: 

As the British Empire comes to an end, millions flee to the roads. Caught up in the turbulent wake is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah.

Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since the days when he played with the orphans at the mission as a boy. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he?  As this becomes clear to Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again.

Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

The 1947 Partition has separated the country these three love…but can they find their true homes before it separates them forever?

What I thought:

Christine Lindsay brings her “Twilight of the British Raj” series to its gratifying conclusion with a flourish, in “Veiled at Midnight”.  This final instalment continues the now grown Cam Fraser’s story and brings to a climax the final separation of India from British rule.  Told in Christine Lindsay’s gentle, yet captivating style “Veiled at Midnight” is the perfect ending for this truly magnificent series.

Having been introduced to Cam when he was an infant, in Lindsay’s first “British Raj” book, it took me a few moments to realise that I was now being privileged with being reacquainted with Cam as an adult.  It is rare, as a reader, that we are given the opportunity to follow our book friends across the seasons of their life and so I was delighted to follow this part of Cam’s story.  Cam is an endearing character whose struggles challenged my mother-heart.  I watched him wrestle with the desire to follow his heart with truth and integrity in relationship with his childhood friend, Hadassah, yet be influenced by the thoughts and actions of others.  Lindsay dips into the topic of generational sin and influence and the hard work required to overcome and become free of both.  I liked that this thread of the story was written with a realistic authenticity.  Lindsay clearly shows that changing the impact of previous generations takes commitment and hard work, but that it is possible to be free of these wounds in our lives.

As Cam deals with his alcoholism, Dassah struggles with her feelings about Cam and wanting to protect herself from the effects of Indian and British separation on her relationship with him.  Again, Tikah becomes an insidious influence as she sets out to undermine members of the Fraser family.  Meanwhile, Cam’s sister Miriam is facing challenges of her own, trying to discern the right direction for her future.  Should she stay in India?  Should she pursue a relationship with the charming Jack?  I’ll not spoil the story by revealing the outcome here.  Suffice it to say the outcome of all these threads was entirely satisfying and true to the characters themselves.

I will miss these characters immensely, yet I will take with me a number of truths from their stories.  They remind me that even when all seems lost or uncertain God has a plan for each of his children.  Cam and Dassah’s story reminds me that we should hold true to that which is right in God’s eyes, even when the world around us tells us a different story.  God’s way is always the better story to live out.

With thanks to Christine Lindsay for my review copy.  
It has been my absolute privilege to be invited, by Christine, to review her books.  My review is my own opinion, for which I have received no financial incentive, nor been coerced in any way.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Planning, Planning....more Planning

The last few weeks have zipped by.  I'm sure I blinked too many times because I didn't notice.  Since I last posted Miss Sunshine has had her last day of school.  A fantastic affair with a "Disney Classics" theme.  She was dressed up as Mini Mouse with a cute not-too-expensive outfit we found online.  Our School has a beautiful tradition of the Year 12 class setting up all kinds of things in the day's theme for the rest of the school to enjoy.  We had a Cave of Wonders, Sleeping Beauty's bedroom, Cinderella's carriage and Beauty and Beast's ... well I don't know, but we got to see the tea set and enter the Beast's cave.  Children and staff dressed up in their allocated characters and the Year 12's escorted the younger classes through the different areas.  After a whole-school assembly, a lunch with parents and staff and a whole-school guard of honour to say farewell I had cried a bucket of tears.  And I forgot to bring tissues, because I'm really dumb with that kind of stuff.

Since then it feels like I have been planning my little heart out.  I've had two weeks (and a bit) of my final teaching rounds and so far all is going very well.  The kids are delightful and my colleague teacher is fantastic to work with.  So far my feedback has been wonderfully affirming and I am remembering how much I just love teaching.  It will be so hard to go back to being an aide after yet another taste of being the Queen Bee! 

But the planning.  Oh my word it is slow to begin with.  It's far more enjoyable than writing assignments and listening to lectures....as useful and helpful as those were.  I can sit in front of the TV with my computer now and surf my way to some wonderful things.  It just takes time. It's a long weekend here in Melbourne and I have spent more than a work day just planning.  I can't wait until I just know in my head what to do, and can just do it on the fly.  Right now I'm thinking carefully about my questions, and setting up meaningful, engaging activities and finding little YouTube clips to support my teaching, because that's the world we live in right now.  Last Friday I taught a lesson on volcanoes, and got to blow up a bottle of coke.  And show a little video of the Mt St Helens eruption.  So much fun in two hours!  None of these precious people, or their teacher, was alive when Mt St Helens blew.  I, however, remember it with great clarity.  It was spectacular!  And my students now know that too, all these years later, thanks to YouTube.

Planning may be time consuming, but I love it.  I'm one of those geeky teachers that just loves the planning process....and then seeing it come to life.  Best fun ever.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Under the Carpet....or Sheet

Recently we enjoyed the lovely surprise of a family member driving from Queensland to Melbourne (a very long way!!) to have some time with extended family.  One thing Dh's family does well is rally to get together at the last minute.  I was the lucky one to get the call:

Dh:  How do you feel if I tell Dad we can have dinner at our place on Wednesday night.
Me:  Um, errr, wha..., hah, wh..., how.... I need some time to process before I can answer.
Dh:  Do we have something else on?
Me:  Ummm, assignments.  You're asking me to stop working and clean the house and organise dinner.  I can't do it all....because, assignments.
Dh:  I was just gonna.....

And here the plot needed some sorting out and everyone ended up contributing to what ended up being a beautiful meal.  Miss Sunshine made dessert and I made my popular Asian Salad.  I would have loved to have done it all....but ... assignments!

In the midst of the kids being assigned jobs (remember my GREAT blessing list - still works a treat!) I discovered something very, very funny.  Rather than actually tidy things up and put them away (a very strange concept, apparently, I discovered this:
This chair houses a chopping board a kid made, the sandwich toaster, calendar and an assortment of other odds and ends I never know where to put.  Whoever decided on this solution clearly couldn't figure out where to put things either.  However, with the arrival of a horde of people being imminent it was time to figure it out.  And we did. 

The chair has since reclaimed its previous partners in crime.  But for a day or two it was clear.

And people sat on it. 

It was a beautiful sight.

Got any funny creative stories to solving your little hot spots?