Tag Archives: high school

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 26th November, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you were coming my way for coffee this weekend, you’d be wanting to shut yourself away in a coolroom. It’s been very hot all weekend and it feels like the sun is lashing out at Winter and digging in its heels.

How was your week?

My week can pretty much be summed up by: puppies, daughter’s school formal preparations, researching for the book project.

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First things first, the pups are absolutely irresistible. For those of you who are new to Beyond the Flow, I have become a dog foster Mum for a local pet rescue group called Paws & Claws. We are currently fostering Yoda and Dobbie, two male kelpie pups. They’re now about 8 weeks old and we’ve had them since they were only about 4 weeks old and smaller than an adult guinea pig. They were bottle fed at this stage and incredibly cute. We have two 5 month old puppies of our own, Rosie Roo & Isaac (Zac) as well as our older dog, five year old Lady. While it took Lady about a week to accept our pups, she still hasn’t totally warmed to the “micro pups” and growls when they approach, although I did catch her letting one kiss her repeatedly on the nose this morning. The micro pups are off to get desexed and have gone off to another carer’s tonight for transportation to the vet. So, with just our three, it’s been pretty quiet tonight.

Rosie & Zac BW

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Moving onto our daughter’s school formal. She’s 11 almost 12 and will be finishing Year 6 at the end of the year and going into High School next year. This change also marks the transition from being a child and becoming a teen, a development I am watching with mixed interest. We already have a son who is 13 and in high school so we’ve already ventured down this path but it’s going to be different with a daughter but I’m just not quite sure how at this stage. At the very least, there’s the cost of make up which has already skyrocketed thanks to dance.

Anyway, last Thursday, I took our daughter shopping to buy her formal dress. Their “formal” is more of a semi-formal and it’s not in the league of hiring limos or anything like that. Thank goodness! However, we did need to find THE DRESS and as many of you will know, that’s not an easy thing. I asked her whether she wanted to have the whole browsing experience or just find something straight away and she was sort of in the middle. I had the feeling that she definitely wanted to go shopping with me for it and turn the process into an experience. After all, she’s the one who talks to me about having “mother-daughter time”.

The funny thing about this whole shopping experience, is that my daughter and I are polar opposites in the size department and it was so strange because neither of us fitted into anything much in way too many of the shops. She seems to be an XXS and I’m an XL and 174 cm tall.

She found a dress she loves. We had afternoon tea at a cafe together and then ran into her friend and her Mum and promptly lost both girls in the crowded shopping centre and were talking to security until we finally spotted them. Of course, they’d lost track of time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been engrossed in a research project looking at a group of Irish Famine orphans from Midleton Workhouse, County Cork who sailed out to Australia onboard the John Knox in 1850. I am descended from one of these orphan girls, Bridget Donovan, and started researching the other girls to shed light on her journey. This has now evolved into quite a philosophical journey as I look at how God, fate, determination play out in their lives. So, far, it seems they all went their separate ways.

Anyway, what have you been up to this week? I hope you’ve had a great week.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

When Everybody’s Smiling…

Welcome to another Weekly Smile brought to you by the ever-smiling Trent at Trent’s World.

This week I’m posting a rare family photo taken on the first day of school last week. It was our son’s first day of High School and our daughter’s first day at her new school, which is some distance from home.

Note: everybody’s smiling! What an achievement!

The First Day of the school year is always a momentous occasion. However, with both kids starting new and different schools this year, it was huge. Not only in terms of growing up but also due to the huge amount of behind the scenes organisation required.  The proverbial duck feet were paddling like crazy to ensure the kids passed muster…at least, on the first day! This was akin to something of an archaeology dig. First, I had to locate and resurrect both the student and their stuff. Then I had to glue all the pieces of this scattered mosaic back together again. Surprise! Surprise! I actually ended up with a complete picture. Nothing was missing. Well, at least, on the first day!

That was really something to smile about.

Organization is a very conscious process around here and there’s nothing natural or automatic about it at all.

I blame “being creative” but that’s not going to help my kids pass muster… let alone succeed. So, I have to change sides. Develop an administrative brain or at least a hat I can take on and off.

Humph…the hat does sound like a great idea. As much as it’s good to be organized, too much of that could undermine my creative juices. Kill me off. Don’t want that. So, if my organization is a bit fluffy around the edges, so be it.

So, I am smiling that we all managed to get it together at least on the first day and look fantastic.

However, the main reason I chose this photo is because we’re ALL smiling.

Surely, we’re not the only family who struggles to get everyone smiling in the same shot…especially without any rabbit ears or funny faces intruding into the shot?

To that end, I should probably point out that the Headmaster actually took this photo. So, that could explain the good behavior. He’s also a very warm and friendly person, not at all like the Principals I had who inspired fear and terror, even when you were good…great for encouraging smiles!

Speaking of THAT School Principal, you should have seen how the station cleared out as soon as her blue Volvo was spotted on the scene!! Girls and boys fled to the four winds…including actor Hugh Jackman, I believe. He was our local heartthrob.

Now, seeing Hugh Jackman at the station would’ve brought a few smiles. You could say that “Hugh Spotting” was something of a local sport. Our area had a lot of single sex private schools, which created a certain atmosphere best left to the imagination.

That brings back a few smiles too!

Hope you’re having plenty of smiles this week and encourage you to find some more at the Link Up.

xx Rowena

 

 

The End Of An Era…

“This is the way the world ends.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.”

-T.S. Eliot

Today, both of my children left the school we have called home for the last seven years. This has been a very emotional time for me as well as I’ve been quite involved at the school and have done the publicity for 6 years. However, I’ve not only written press releases, I’ve also been the school photographer. I haven’t simply photographed the kids like some fly on the wall from a distance. I usually talk to them. Encourage them to smile and come out of themselves so I’m definitely no stranger up there myself. I’ll really miss the kids and truly appreciate what an honour it’s been to get to know them in this much more personal way.

Next year, our son starts high school, so he’s definitely reached a point of no return. He is out of the nest and will soon be grappling with his new, much expanded universe. Our daughter, on the other hand, still has two more years of primary school to go but has been accepted into a selective primary school. Her new school is a 45 minutes drive away or an hour train and bus ride. This may prove too much but we’ll see how it goes.

While our daughter left the school quietly , exiting stage left largely unnoticed, Year Six left with more than the usual bang.

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Kindergarten children hold hands forming the arch for the tunnel.

 

 

It’s a school tradition for all the kids to form a tunnel or guard of honour  and the Year 6s move through. As Mister explained, this can be quite tricky because the Kindergarten kids are half their height. So, he found himself ducking, weaving and crawling through,  which I’m sure just added to the fun. There were many tears as the kids went through and I’m surprised I didn’t cry myself but filming and photographing the action probably distracted me. Besides, I still don’t think it’s sunk in that we’ve left. That a whole new road has opened up. Make that two roads.

As luck would have it, a severe storm hit Sydney yesterday. In what was a very Jane Austen moment, not long before the tunnel was due, the heavens opened up. Rain bucketed down. Lightening flashed. Thunder, which had been rumbling most of the day, suddenly cracked with a vengeance. Although this sounds bad enough, we’d actually been spared the worst. Parts of Southern Sydney were hit by a tornado rated as an F2 (strong for Australia).

So, rather than leaving school with a whimper, Year 6 of 2015 went out with a bang…and a flash!

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To be perfectly honest, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like next year when the three of us won’t be heading off to school together. If my car was a horse, I wouldn’t even need to steer. The car well and truly knows the way and it wouldn’t surprise me if we somehow end up there by accident on the first day next year: “We’re back!”

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Last night, we had the “Year 6 Farewell”, which was the grand finale for year. The theme was 1970s hippie/surfie. Each student designed their own record cover, and there were some fabulous designs there…loads of rainbow-coloured texta. There was also a vinyl record for each child with their photo from Kindergarten (their first year at school) on one side and Year 6 on the other side. These were hung with fishing line from the roof of the hall and looked very impressive en masse. One of the parents made a Kombi photo booth, which looked fantastic. Parents were allowed in to take photos at the start and were shooed out for most of it and return for the final proceedings. A video has appeared of the teachers doing the Nutbush on the school’s Facebook page. They’re a great bunch of dancers.

 

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Mister on Record.

 

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Mister and Geoff at the Farewell.

As hard as it is to leave the school, change is a part of life and we all know what happens to still water. It stagnates. We have to keep moving.

Quite often we have no idea where we’re heading and are just fumbling around in the dark. Most of the time, things eventually become clear.

So, as much as I’d like to stay put and keep keeping on, we’re off.

We are done! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc3LGzNEkL0

By the way, thought you might be interested in a poem I wrote about when Mister started school: The Acorn https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/the-acorn/

Will you or your family be experiencing any fresh starts in the New Year? Please share!

xx Rowena

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