Tag Archives: back to school

Weekend Coffee Share…3rd February, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, you’re in luck. You can have a slice of piping hot Peach Upside Down Cake with a scoop of creamy Vanilla ice cream with your choice of tea, coffee or whatever. I don’t know what possessed me to go baking tonight when the kitchen was already a bomb zone and the dishwasher is broken and the teenage substitutes are unreliable at best. Indeed, I suspect they have a few faulty circuits. However, being Sunday night, I felt the call of the Sunday roast, which thanks to still going through the Christmas ham, I decided to make a special dessert instead.

Peach Cake

Peach Upside Down Cake…Yum!

Last week was momentous. One by one, the rest of the family fell like dominoes returning to the real world. Tuesday, Geoff was back to work. Wednesday, our son was back to school and is now in Year 10. Our daughter had the longest reprieve. She went back to school for only one day on Friday and then she was off for the weekend again. It’s a tough life.

Jonathon & Amelia

Back to school 2019.kwr

By the way, it was funny seeing photo after photo of kids of all ages, shapes and sizes heading back to school. Themes and variations. Parents should warn their kids that if they don’t smile at the camera or worse still, they frown, cry, snarl or make a stupid face, it’s going to spread like gastro all around the world wide web and haunt them forever. Facebook never forgets. It bringing these things back from the deepest depths of its memory and no parent can resist clicking share and making the bad photo do the rounds again.

Zac & Amelia reading

Even the poor dog has homework. However, he soon nodded off and went to sleep.

Anyway, we got through the first week of term one. I can tick that one off. How many to go? Can I stick my head in the sand now? Or, do I really have to face another school year.

Last night, I revisited my parents’ old holiday house at Sydney’s Palm Beach going through masses of photos and posted two of them:

Girl on the Sand

Above: Footprints Running Through Sand

Driving Through the Clouds

Making Tracks.

Meanwhile, I participated in Friday Fictioneers again. This week’s photo prompt featured a tee pee, and took me into the realms of Native Americans, which was right out of my league as an Australian who has never been to America and has a healthy respect for Indigenous cultures. I wanted to show respect and came very close to skipping this week. My piece was called: Natural Justice and also raised some interesting issues about how to view historic literature through our modern day concepts of equality and social justice.

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Gosford Sailing Club.

For Thursday Doors, I featured Gosford Sailing Club. Both my husband and son are sailing members and I am hoping to be able to start sailing soon myself.

Well, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 4th February, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

So, how can I tickle your fancy this weekend? Coffee, tea, Bonox? A slice of Vegemite toast perhaps? I’ve never had too many takers for the Vegemite toast on the Weekend Coffee Share, but if you want to walk like an Australian, you need to flood your bloodstream with the brown stuff and toughen up. Just think of it as chocolate sauce and ignore the taste.

Well, if you joined me for coffee last weekend, you might recall that the “kids” were heading back to school for the new school year and that my daughter was starting high school and our son was already there. That’s right. We now have have two high school students in the house and with that my responsibilities have gone up quite a few notches. No arriving back from holidays the night before and winging it with last year’s uniform on the first day. No, we had to be organized. Indeed, it was time to become anal about the whole thing and climb in the proverbial straight jacket.

You can  read all about our organizational efforts Here. Actually, I think that should read MY organizational efforts.

Anyway, after all of that, Tuesday was here and it was time for our daughter’s first day. I can barely remember how it went now, except that we took a few photos out the front of the house, without her brother because he was conspicuously scarse in case he somehow got roped into helping out. At their school, they have the Year 7s starting two days earlier than the rest of the school. So, big brother was making the most of time at home without little sister.

After taking some photos out the front of the school and greeting the Principal who we already know quite well, the students lined up in their form classes and I have to confess, that I was among a handfull of Mums were were clinging on so tight to their precious offspring, that we were almost part of the line. Although that might have been a bit pathetic, I didn’t cry.

Day 2, we our second day back at school had a bit of unplanned drama…a local blackout. Fortunately, the alarms all went off but making breakfast was tricky and we were eating by candlelight. It was all quite an uncomfortable experience, especially when we were still reeling from the shock of going back to school but we survived and she was at school on time.

She has settled in well and is making new friends and picking up with a few old ones and I’d say by the end of this coming week, she’ll be good.

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Meanwhile, Rosie our 6 month old Border Collie x Kelpie was also keen to get an education. She managed to pluck a pink highlighter pen out of the pen jar on the kitchen table and chewed it to death. There was a puddle of fluoro pink on the floor and spotches of pink on her paws…a photo opportunity.

Another funny incident around here this week, was a discussion with my daughter about the band INXS. “Devil Inside” was playing on the radio and she asked me whether he was singing “dead inside” or “devon inside”. If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you might not be familiar with Devon but its a cheap and nasty meat sandwich sausage often splashed with tomato sauce. This initiated a bit of a discussion about the late Michael Hutchence, which of course, became rather complicated but lead me into a reflection about the Americanization of Australian culture. You can read more about that Here.

It was fortunate in many ways that I could focus on their return to school and get things pretty much in order. I didn’t mind putting myself aside for a few weeks, because it’s a big change to start high school and a time where you need your parents on tap. You need them to be flexible and to understand your 1000 mood variations in 15 minutes without getting stroppy or needing to be the centre of attention. It’s the same when anyone starts something new. You often need that extra TLC and ideally those around you can give you that. However, with the cost of living these days, that’s becoming less possible. Everyone needs to work, even the dog (es[ecially when they keep chewing through highlighter pens!)

However, I can report that I did manage to have my first beach swim of the season on Tuesday afternoon. It was great until I waded in around waist height and then I chicken out and was reminded of my dog who didn’t like to get his paws wet and was feeling tortured as his beloved tennis ball drifted out to sea. I was pathetic, but I eventually dived under the water and survived. By the way, the surf is pretty flat at our beach and very non-threatening. Yet, you still hear about the odd rescue or drowning and it is a patrolled beach.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I need a holiday or an adventure, but don’t know what that’ll entail yet. It might just be a coffee down the street, but I’d like to think I might get further afield.

So, how was your week? I hope you had a great one and that the week ahead goes well for you. Got anything planned?

Well, I’d better head off.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.  You’re welcome to join us. Just click through to the Linky.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Back to the Real World…a new school year.

It was the massive jolt that had to happen. The kids went back to school this week and the dreaded inevitable hit me like a Mac truck, as we switched from Holiday Mode to School Time looking and feeling like the zombie apocalyse.

Waking up at 7.00AM again was brutal. We’ve mastered the sleep-in over the break and while the kids went off on a few camps, I stayed put often staggering out of bed at lunch time, making the most of an empty diary.

While I’m sounding like a human sloth, I’ve actually spent much of the holidays trying to get the kids, house, bedrooms ready for the new school year. In keeping with my belief that we are reborn on January 1st each year, I knew it was entirely possible that we could pull off the seemingly miraculous. That can all be encapsulated in one simple word…ORGANIZED.

Unfortunately, being organized for school isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not as simple as making sure they have their uniforms, shoes and socks all set out. Of course, they also need the laptop, pen, paper, books, backpack. But that’s not the end of the list either.

“Wait. There’s more!” Since we’re going back to school, I can’t throw in a set of steak knives. That said, school wouldn’t be school without a metaphorical knife in the back, more likely from a friend you’ve loved and trusted, rather than the proverbial bully. Most of us are also pretty good at shooting ourselves in the foot too.

Going back to school is also about a place for everything and everything in it’s place, which means a clean, neat and tidy bedroom…and kitchen table for many of us and some way of making sure the dog doesn’t eat the kids’ homework as well.

That’s just the stuff you need to get sorted before the kids have walked through the gate.

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It’s only been a couple of days and all the gumph hasn’t come home yet. This has given me the chance to do what I fully intended to do two years ago when our son started high school. That is, draw up a grid showing the weeks of term on one side and the subjects on the other side. When I’d finished, I printed it out and suddenly my mind went blank. What was I supposed to do with it now? How were the kids supposed to use it? I had no idea. My mind went blank…an empty whiteboard with all of it’s circuits removed.

It was time to phone a friend.

I don’t know about you but how often to you come up with these wizz bang systems but don’t know how to implement them? How to convert dreams/plans into action?

I’m the master. A frequent visitor to organizing stationery shop Kiki K, I have all the tools to plan my week, menu, set goals, and even fly to the moon. Well, that is, if only I could ever get started.

Anyway, the subject grid is now sorted and we’ll write the big assignments and tests in there so we can trouble shoot and plan ahead instead of falling in a screaming heap, which has been our usual modus operandi. With both the kids in high school now, this planning will also help us identify times when they’re both going to be hitting the panic button and we can hopefully prevent a monumental meltdown x 2. After all, each of the kids isn’t living in isolation, but as part of a family and by getting the family machine well greased and in peak fitness, hopefully it will support them. Bring out their best. I feel it’s been holding them back in the past with four individuals coming and going and all sorts of unexpected hazards side swiping us while absorbed in something else.

Clock Sculpture Paris

This brings me onto what is a bit of a swear word around here…time management. How do you help them complete tasks in a timely manner? This has been a real struggle for me and this is what inevitable takes me into Kiki K.pomodoro timer

 

Recently, I was put onto a time management system called the Pomodoro Technique. This uses a tomato-shaped timer which you set for 22 minutes and then you focus on one task during this time. If you have an idea about soemthing else during this time, you jot it down on a post it note and keep going on the original task. When the time’s up, you can take a 5 minutes break. After four consecutive sessions, you can take a 20 minutes break. I spoke to my son’s teacher and she said that they basically do this and they call these 5 minutes breaks: “Brain breaks”. I also use a device called a Time Timer, which is a visual clock and shows how much time you have left in red and you can immediately see how much time you have left and can plan accordingly.

Yet, along with all this organization and the home study machine, we still need to have fun. We still need chaos, antics, laughter because we’re not machines.

DSC_8233.JPG

For better or worse, our dogs are very good distractors, comedy and stress relief while also adding fuel to the fire. Today, Rosie one of our 6 month of Border Collie x Kelpie pups, helped herself to a fluoro pink highlighter out of the pen jar on the kitchen table and chewed the thing to death. There was literally a pool of pink ink on the kitchen floor and splashes of ink on her paws. She was a very naughty girl, but she looked so funny that I had to laugh and photograph the proof.

I also went for a swim at the beach this week and it was so therapeutic just to feel the stress fall off my shoulders and drift far out to sea. Phew! What a relief.

A relief and a reminder that it’s all too easy to get too wound up and perfectionistic about all of this. Being organized is good, but it needs to serve a purpose and there comes a point where you have done enough and it’s time to let go. Step back. How far back, I guess depends on how the kids respond. However, experience to date, has shown the need to keep checking back in and knowing when those deadlines are coming up, even if it;s only to prevent a serious bout of gastro, asthma or the like leading to extended absences and avoidance.

It could also be helpful to reflect on our own less than perfect school days and give the kids a breather. They’re not 40 or 50 something and tackling their high school days for the second time. Rather, they’re teenagers on their first way through who also need to learn from their mistaks and find their own way through. By doing everything for them, it removes responsibility, and doesn’t allow them to think for themselves, which could well have greater long term consequences than a few late assignments.

So, as you can see navigating your way through the whole parent teen study thing is riddled with contradictions, but defintiely worth thinking about and not simply going with the flow to give your children the best chance of doing their best.

I would love to hear any tips you might have as either a parent, teacher or student which may be beneficial.

xx Rowena

 

Starting High School’s Eve

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tomorrow morning, our “baby girl” starts high school. While this is something we’ve been working towards for some time, I still have this sense of impending doom. That we’ve forgotten something. That we’ve forgotten something of earth-shattering significance. The sort of thing that crippling anxious nightmares are made of. Sleeping through the alarm. No uniform. No shoes. What about what’s for lunch, packing and actually eating it?

High school is going to be a piece of cake compared to getting out our front door and as much as I’ve hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, I have this awful sinking feeling, that we’re doomed. To quote someone very dear to me: “That we were born under an unlucky star”.

Indeed, perhaps there’s no point even getting out of bed, and we can try again next year.

Thank goodness my alter-ego pushed that anxious sod off her perch and confiscated her scrapbook of memories as well.

Of course, you can’t turn up at the high school gate with a swag of baby photos and snaps of firsts to share with the other parents…Mum’s Bragbook. OMG! Talk about taking uncool to such unprecedented heights, that even I who is eternally impervious to embarrassment, would be cringing in my boots forever more.

I could never show my face again.

That’s if I was still alive after such an escapade. If my daughter didn’t kill me, I’d have to kill myself…or lock myself up in a crate addressed to deepest darkest Africa, or even post myself to Mars.

I guess this also reminds me that Mummy’s not allowed to cry. Mum has to be strong. Smile, wave and not cling onto my little girl like a limpet trying to stop her from growing up and stepping out the front door without me.

family portrait.JPG

Our Son’s Starts High School Two Years Ago in 2016.

Really, tomorrow’s just another day and it’s not like we don’t know the place. No, her big brother’s paved the way and for better or worse, we’re known at the school. Our daughter hasn’t been going to school locally for the last two years, so hasn’t really been round the traps but she’ll know a lot of the kids from her last school and round about. She’s also in a selective dance class within the performing arts and will automaticlly land on her feet with a few extra moves thrown in just because she can.

So, of course, tomorrow is going to be fine.

 

This is the broken record that I should be playing over and over in my head instead of feeling crippled by this shapeless, formless, sense of impeding doom.

After all, we’ve crossed the i’s dotted the t’s and like a airline pilot, double-checked that the hatches are shut. (See I told you things were a bit skewiff around here.)

How hard can it be to get one kid around the corner?

Or should I say, how easy!

After all:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

footprints on the beach

I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it all went.

Fingers and toes crossed!

xx Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 28th January, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Had you arrived last night, I could’ve offered you a Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone straight out of the oven and dripping with melted butter. Personally, I thought they were baked to perfection. However, I had a comment from one about too much salt and not enough white chocolate from two. This lot is way too fussy and we ought to stop watching all these cooking shows before they get any worse. There’s no such thing as tinned spaghetti on toast around here, and sometimes it would be a blessed relief.

Raspberry Scone

Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone made by yours truly.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t even remember the last week. Indeed, rather than thinking about the week that was, I’m actually fixating on the week to come. It’s the start of the new school year here, and this is when my New Year really hits the road and resolutions turn into reality…or not! Gone are the days of arriving back from holidays the night before and winging it with last year’s uniforms and the Christmas tree still up. Our daughter starts her first year of high school on Tuesday and after a few years under our belts with her older brother, we’ve learned that you need to start the year off with a bang. That’s because it’s inevitably a slippery, downhill run from there. Of course, their uniforms will be ironed for the first day. Shoes polished. These kids might even be polished and…pigs might fly!

The one thing I still haven’t quite got my head around, is how to flick the switch from Holiday Time to School Time. I swear this transition leaves jetlag for dead. Late nights and sleeping in, traded in for early morning starts, activities after school and trying to push for early nights. Thank goodness for coffee!

I should also mention that Friday was Australia Day. We didn’t celebrate Australia Day, but we didn’t not celebrate it either. You see, there’s a growing movement in Australia to change the date because it’s  celebrating the day British settlement was established with the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay on the 26th January, 1788. However, some Indigenous Australians have rebadged Australia Day, “Invasion Day”. This acknowledges that Australia wasn’t “terra nullus”, but inhibited by Aboriginal people and a treaty should have been signed. I personally would like to keep the date but change the meaning so that celebrations acknowledged these sentiments.

Sailing on Australia Day.

On the other hand, our son sailed in an Australia Day Regatta with the Sailing Club. He sails in a Flying 11, which is totally beyond my comprehension. I’m more familiar with Lasers and only then as ballast and making sure I don’t get hit in the head by the boom! This takes a lot of concentration.

On a more positive note, I have managed to put together a post about living with adversity: Life Was Meant To Be Easy. I hope you might find it encouraging.

Our pups Zac and Rosie are now about six months old and dear Rosie is chewing everything in sight and even contraband that’s out of reach. We left them inside while my husband manned the scout BBQ at local Australia Day celebrations in case they freaked out with the fireworks and got home to find they’d murdered the tissue box and spread it’s entrails all over the loungeroom. It was obviously very dead and this episode reiforced yet again that as much as I try to exercises the forces of good and cleanliness in this house, there are forces of mischief working against me at every turn.

Once the kids are back at school, I’m planning to indulge in a ferry trip to Palm Beach once the heat has settled down a bit. I also have a very long backlog of coffees to catch up on with friends. Thrown in with all of that, I’ll be sussing out for some paid work. Not just any paid work, but somehow getting my marketing communications path onto some kind of track.

All these thing seem pretty unexciting, but I’m pleased to report that the cough is much better. It’s still there and my ventolin is always by my side but the light on the horizon is getting closer. Thank goodness!

Hope you’ve had a good weekend!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Dong! Dong! Dong! We’re back to the real world.

Getting the kids off to school for the start of another year, is tricky at the best of times. However, when your life is complicated for whatever reason, trying to get your little peoples to school on time with all their paraphernalia on the first day becomes, or at least appears to be, Mt Everest…particularly if “catastrophise” is your middle name.

Of course, to make matters worse there’s always that parent who has literally licked ever hair on their preciously child’s perfect little head in place just to ensure your child looks completely and utterly neglected like some raggamuffin orphan out of Oliver or Annie.

At times like this it’s easy to feel that no one understands that your children, your family and even your precious dogs have indeed been through the spin cycle and haven’t exactly emerged with all the right bits in all the right places and that you’re just thanking your lucky stars that they even got there at all.

Well, actually, things went a lot better than that but that was my concern. After all, this house is where Murphy’s Law, Mrs Murphy’s Law and Rafferty’s Rules all fight it out to the death.

However, it could be worse.

This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy to treat my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. I can’t even remember how the kids went to and from school on their first day last year but I do know that they soon found their way into before and after school car, which later cut back to after school care and when funding magically cut out after 3 months because, as we all know, parents only get sick for 3 months and then magically resurrect from near-death. Well, that’s how it is in Australia anyway.

Thank goodness for friends because a friend was giving my kids lifts at least two mornings a week all of last year.

Even though the broken foot is still healing and I’m only just back to driving locally, I’ve decided to tackle the new school year head on like a bull charging at a gate and have decided to take responsibility for getting our kids to and from school even though my mobility is far from ideal. I’m walking with my foot in a boot and my mobility is problematic anyway due to muscle weakness. While I am perfectly justified in getting assistance, I wanted to get involved with school again so we can stay with the program.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn't get our usual shot at the front door.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn’t get our usual shot at the front door.

The other problem I have when it comes to getting out the door is that the kids almost always ignore me. LIke so many kids, for some reason they completely ignore Mum and resolutely do their own thing, which makes getting them anywhere on time difficult. While you might say that I need to take control and be the parent, I often have trouble with my voice so it can be a struggle to speak. I struggle to move and so it doesn’t take much for the kids to completely out manoevre me and get away with blue murder. This was where having my friend taking them to school was particularly handy because they didn’t want their friends seeing them in their PJs. The Deputy Principal has also told me that she is quite happy to accept the kids in PJs and they know that. They may think they can run rings around me but they know they don’t stand a chance with her and they quickly shape up.

While it is one thing to make all these decisions, which really do fall under the same heading as New Year’s resolutions. They are doomed to fail without any corresponding plan of action and a fairly detailed one at that. The irony with most of these supposedly difficult changes which we struggle to make is that we already know what we need to do. We probably also know how to do it. We just lack the discipline and commitment to see it through. Stick with it. I understand that it takes 6 weeks to change a habit but day one or at least the start of day 1 has exceeded all my expectations.

I have drawn up a daily check list for the kids which is laminated. Every day, they tick off their jobs as they do them and only once they’ve done everything on the last, will they get access to electronic devices. Devices go off at 8.20 and we are in the car and driving off at 8.30 AM. School starts at 8.55AM and school is only a five minute drive and so they get in plenty of play time with their friends before school.

The funny thing about the check list is that the same kids who were protesting to do the dishwasher, never make their beds and forget to brush their teeth in the mornings did all of these tasks without nagging or complaint. It’s a miracle worker and I’ve known the check list is a miracle worker and yet I keep forgetting to update it. This means it’s been about 2 years since we last used it and believe me, there has been a lot of angst and heartache in between.

Quite simply, I do a list up of everything the kids need to do before school and their afternoon/evening routines and then have a tick column for each day of the week. In the past, I’ve printed a list our for each week and pasted it in a book but laminating the list means they can tick it with a whiteboard marker and you can wipe it clean each week and start over. I have used a bit of colour, highlighting important times like leaving for school and I have also included a row for after school activities so they know what they have on as well. They are about to turn 11 and 9 so should be fairly self-reliant and not be needing constant reminders from Mum and Dad anymore.I am particularly conscious that our son starts high school next year and really needs to get organised now in advance.

Just because Mum's the papparazzi, that's no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

Just because Mum’s the papparazzi, that’s no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

I am quite thrilled that everything went almost too smoothly and that we pulled out of the driveway right on 8.30 as planned and I was back here sitting at my desk at by 9.00 AM armed with my special cup of tea and home made Banana Macadamia & Blueberry Muffin.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”.

-C.S. Lewis

However, to be perfectly honest, the early morning start has been a bit of a doozy so I think I might just nip back to bed for a little Nanna Nap. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I’ve somehow ended up on Western Australian time, which is 3 hours behind Sydney and what with the holidays and all, have been staying up way too late and sleeping in and I’m pretty sure Geoff has been hanging out for this morning when the night owl was needing to surface at 6.30AM and get back to the human race.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Please wish us luck and for anybody experiencing the terrible snow storms, we are thinking of you and praying that you are safe and sound.

xx Rowena