Tag Archives: teens

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.

DSC_8220

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

 

Weekend Coffee Share: 2nd October, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

You’re in luck today. We’re having pancakes, and you’re welcome to your choice of tea or coffee. BTW, you might also want to pop back later as I’m also thinking about making a banana cake. Sadly, my best intentions of eating fruit, have gone off while I’ve been procrastinating or eating chocolate. So, in a case of twisted logic, I have to turn healthy bananas into unhealthy cake to prevent waste. It’s simply goes against the grain to thrown even bad bananas out.

Sorry, I’ve been away for a few weeks and I’ve missed our chats. I’m glad to be back.

Zac & Rosie

Rosie left and Isaac “Zac” right.

A few weeks ago, we welcomed two pups into the family…Zac and Rosie. I’d become pet rescue volunteer, and brought two pups home with a view of keeping one and fostering the other. However, both pups have made themselves at home and they’re so much fun to watch and cuddle as a pair, that it looks like they’re both here to stay. A friend of mine also vounteered with this organization and fostered two cats. She also kept both and that was the end of her fostering days. I don’t know whether we’ll foster more pups. I’d love to but with three dogs, it’s pretty much a full house.

The kids have been on school holidays for the last week. Now they’re getting older, school holidays tend to be more relaxing and a break from the daily grind and driving Mum’s taxi. My daughter has set up a big 10 person tent in the backyard and has had a few sleep overs. That was a great idea. Both kids have also spent time with my parents in Sydney. Yesterday, we also had a three-handed game of 500 with our son, which was pretty comical.

As for myself, I’ve been having ongoing difficulties with a residual cough and breathing difficulties due to Spring burnoffs and hayfever. I have about 60% lung capacity on a good day. So, I have been feeling short of breath and staying inside a lot more. Unfortunately, this means that I haven’t been doing my daily walks and my fitness is dropping off a bit. Just like every other mere mortal who requires more than a cattle prod to hit the pavement, it’s been hard to overcome the inertia even though I know it’s only going to make it worse. Even though I know that to carpe diem seize the day, I need to exercise and maximise the lungs I have, the lure of writing and doing my research is hard to resist.

Speaking of my research, I’m actually in the process of turning my family history research into something more substantial. I might’ve mentioned before that my 4th Great Grandmother was a Bridget Donovan from Midleton in County Cork, Ireland and that she was sent out to Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme as one of the Irish Famine Orphan Girls. Plucked out of the Midleton Workhouse, she was given a trunk full necessities to see her across the seas and start a new life in the colonies, where she was expected to marry and help ease the woman drought.

Well, after managing to reconstruct significant threads of her journey, I decided to see what I could find out about the 26 other girls who also travelled out to Sydney with her onboard the John Knox. This historical research game is very much like going fishing. You use your best bait and equipment, cast your line and hope for the best. Naturally, the girls with the more unusual names were easier to follow and you’re more likely to find snippets about people living in country areas unless they were either perpetrators or victims of crime or nasty accidents. Since the girls arrived in 1850 and gold was discovered in Bathurst triggering a massive gold rush,  not unsurprisingly I’m finding these girls getting married and heading straight for the gold fields. I am finding amazing detail in the old newspapers and in a marvel of newspaper forensics, I’m slowly building some kind of composite and am starting to sense a life, a person, character. I find all of this very exciting. All I’m starting out with, is often very scant details from the Irish Famine Orphans online Database and I’ve developed pages on many of the women I’ve researched so far. I think one has fallen through the net so far and I might’ve made a serious error on one and documented a few generations that aren’t hers but that’s ust between me and the gatepost at the moment. I’m just feeling my way through the dark and I’m just grateful to have found what I have.

I don’t know how you feel about history, but being a writer, it’s hardly surprising that I’m a storyteller and these old newspapers are just ozzing with fascinating stories, especially when you compare the 1850s to the modern bubble wrap era and add living in a frontier society for good measure. Moreover, being before the advent of the camera, there’s plenty of rich description and priceless little details of life “in the olden days”.

If you’re the researching type, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve become rather engrossed in my research and have shut myself off to the real world of 2017. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. As a creative, I do tend to feel that the real world is highly over-rated. Moreover, Australia is currently in the middle of voting about whether to allow same-sex marriage. In certain quarters, the debate has become quite heated and there’s quite a lot of hate on both sides of the debate and quite frankly I find all of that quite ugly. I’ve sent off my vote and wish people would just let others live and let live. There’s more than an element of self-righteousness too, which I nturally adhor and given the high rates of divorce and domestic violence, I struggle to make a case for heterosexual marriage, but perhaps that’s just me.

beach wide angle 2

Umina Beach looking across to Lion Island and Palm Beach.

Anyway, it’s a lovely sunny day outside and it’s about time I hit the pavement and went for my walk. Better than that, the beach awaits. Yes, you’d think walking to a beautiful beach would catapult me straight out of this chair on a beautiful sunny day, but I know it’ll still be there tomorrow and the next day, while the opportunity to do nothing has become an impossible quest.

Now, it’s time for me to take my daughter and her friend down to the beach. No rest of for the wicked…or even the virtuous!

How has your week been? What have you been up to? I look forward to hearing from you.

xx Rowena

Mothers’ Day Is Floating Away…

Mothers’ Day is inevitably full of surprises. Not that I’m naive enough to script the day. Indeed, the older I get, the more I let it go. Run by itself.

That says quite a lot, because I can be something of a control freak.

Anyway, as I said, Mother’s Day is full of surprises and usually goes off script.

IMG_0836

The Family with the balloons before blast off.

So, this morning as we’re heading back to the car after Church, I’m wondering why the kids have wandered off AGAIN. I wasn’t impressed! Started wondering why we can’t all get to the car at the same time and why our family herds like meandering sheep…

Trying to round everyone up, I could see our son was clearly distracted. Indeed, all his attention was clearly focused at the sky and nowhere near the car, going home or my Mothers’ Day lunch.

Yet, in a moment which would’ve made his science teacher proud, he’d launched a shopping bag with a Mother’s Day card into the clouds powered by a bunch of helium balloons. I just managed to catch it visibly heading into the clouds like a dream. Apparently, he’d carefully tested the number of balloons required to achieve the desired amount of lift. This was a scientist at work, being observed by an absolute dreamer (his mother).

This spontaneous gesture filled me with such immense pride. He might not have broken any records, or invented the first shopping bag in space, but my heart was glowing.

That’s not something you can count on with a teen, especially on Mothers’ Day.

Although we did manage to get some photographs, he might just have to: “Play it again, Sam!” (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca). These pics were hastily snapped on our phones.

It truly was a magical moment!

More Mothers’ Day entertainment to come.

xx Rowena

Featured Image: Photo Credit – My daughter “Miss”.

Visiting the Young Endeavour, Stanley.

Continuing on with our travels through Tasmania, last Saturday, we drove down to Stanley to see a magnificent tall ship, the  Young Endeavor a Royal Australian Navy sail training ship

The Young Endeavour Scheme began when the magnificent sail training ship STS Young Endeavour was given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom as a Bicentennial gift back in 1988. Since then, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 11,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour.

To be selected, young Australians can put their names in the ballot. No previous sailing experience is required and it is the opportunity of a life time.

With our family’s interest in sailing and history, we were looking forward to being able to climb onboard and check it out.

Unfortunately, very heavy winds picked up and we were unable to board the ship.

However, we did get the opportunity to meet and listen to former crew as well as a young lady who is was leaving on it the next day. Neither had any prior sailing experience and apparently they teach you everything you need to know onboard. I found that that both encouraging and a bit scary but they know what they’re doing. The experience is well known for improving self-confidence, resilience and problem-solving in young people and it really is the opportunity of a lifetime…especially climbing straight up the mast and clinging on for dear life while the boat rocks to and fro.

Humph, they can keep that experience.

As much as I would’ve loved to do this back in the day, I’m quite happy to stick to plain sailing these days.

Xx Rowena

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

stormy-dark-clouds-sailing

Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

dsc_4746

Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

Why am I here?

Parenting isn’t a walk in the park and my kids are constantly keeping me on my toes. Lately, that’s even involved attempting pirouettes!

Well, to sharpen my toes even further, my son asked me this curly question today…“Why am I here?”

‘if your life is cloudy and you’re way off course,

you might have to go on faith for awhile,

but eventually you’ll learn that

every time you trust your internal navigation system,

you’ll end up closer to your right life.”

-Martha Beck.

He was in trouble and he mumbled something about dying being easier than living so why bother? It wasn’t a completely dark question at the time…more of an observation. He’s 12 years old and this kind of question goes with the turf. He’s not unique. Indeed, I remember feeling much the same and my Dad saying: “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”.

However, this was actually part of a longer quote:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”

― George Bernard Shaw

Jonathon Climbing Tree

Mister in the Climbing Tree 2011, Aged 6.

Anyway, in response to my son’s question my immediate response (which I didn’t share with him at the time) was that he wasn’t here to melt Halloween lollies in my new waffle maker, leaving a layer of sticky tar glued to the non-stick base. That he and his sister were not put on this planet to destroy everything within a 365 degree radius. Indeed, they could keep their sticky fingers all to themselves!!

Yet, I said nothing. Rather, I stared scrawling  my frustrations down on paper the way we writers do. While I know that doesn’t achieve anything, at least venting on paper helps me feel better!

“You just can’t sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself”

-Diana Ross.

Anyway, when I asked my kids what possessed them to put lollies in my waffle machine, they told me that they’d seen a u tuber melt a Barbie doll in a waffle machine. While I’m no fan of Barbie, melting Barbie in a waffle machine for fun seemed rather sadistic. You also have to wonder what the world is coming to when a video of someone with bad language melting Barbie in a waffle machine gets 2,418,875 views with 94,220 likes. Moreover, unlike some of the crazy stunts your kids might see on TV, there’s no mention of: “kids don’t try this at home”. These U tubers have hero status,  yet no responsibility. No accountability.

So, I am grateful that I didn’t find Barbie stuck to my waffle machine instead of just the lollies. With a bit of boiling water and chipping away, the waffle machine is fine and the kids will need to be dead, before they’re allowed to stay home from school again.

Jonathon sunset

Why am I here?

Meanwhile, I still had to answer my son’s question: why am I here?

I told him that this was a question which philosophers, poets, sing writers, The Bible have all addressed for thousands of years. After all, it is the ultimate quest for each and every one of us to work out why we’re here. To find our purpose, our path, calling, direction…whatever you want to call it.

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. All how you become most truly alive.”

-Oprah Winfrey.

This needn’t be a selfish, navel-gazing process. It can also be about that person who really wants to make a difference, help others, change the world or has spiritual ideas but doesn’t know quite how or where to serve or give. After all, it’s particularly hard for the inspired visionary to live with their vision, without knowing how to execute it. Indeed, this anguish could cause these brightest of flames, to snuff themselves out.

Anyway, to humour myself, I entered: “Why am I here?” into Google. I didn’t expect much, if anything, but Google has surprised me before and has delivered.

That’s was when I was reminded of the power of the personality quiz. These are not only great fun but I swear these quizes know me better than I know myself. Of course, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff too. I found this quiz on Who Are You Mean to Be? from Oprah Magazine http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Who-Are-You-Meant-to-Be-Self-Assessment-Quiz_1 It showed great insight and no surprises one of my top scores was Striving to Be Creative. I’ve pasted it down below because it really made sense to me.

Jonathon Christmas Tree 2

How creative! Mister turned himself into a Christmas Tree 2006 aged 2.

Striving to be Creative

You are an artist: You came out of the womb with a paintbrush in your hand. Or maybe it was a flute or a castanet or a fountain pen to go with your poet’s imagination. The point is, you’re an original, and you know it. Even if you don’t have a singular gift, you’re drawn to the arts—anything creative, for that matter— and you have a unique way of looking at the world. Your need for depth and authenticity in relationships can lead to both great joy and profound sorrow, depending on whether others reciprocate. You don’t care so much about adapting to group or societal expectations; your independence and sharp intuition propel you on your own path.

What to watch out for: When fear of conformity overrides your creativity, you can assume the role of “outsider” or “orphan” and end up feeling alienated. You may even go so far as refusing to vote or pay taxes. This lone-wolf stance might be a defense against feeling vulnerable. Try to be aware that blaming others for your banishment, or pushing away those who want to get close, only makes things worse. Also, dramatizing your emotions can interfere with your creativity.

Looking ahead: As long as you genuinely express yourself, you feel like the person you were meant to be. How you do it is irrelevant. A chef or architect can be as much of an artist as a painter or sculptor. Many advertising and public relations executives are also highly imaginative. Beyond work, there are opportunities everywhere you look to coax out your inner artist: Design your own jewelry line, create an innovative blog, dream up a comic strip. Relationships are another avenue for self-expression.

Google also linked me up with some great quotes, which I’ve scattered throughout.
There’s also this thought provoking post by Mark Manson  Seven Strange Questions to Establish Your Life’s Purpose. I highly recommend you read it!
Meanwhile, it’s time for me to think about fueling his physical body as well as his mind. Neither of my kids have ever been great eaters but we think he’s going through a growth spurt. Not only is he eating four Weetbix for breakfast, he turns up in the kitchen hunting for dinner with that same starved look our poor Border Collie had when he was on 50mg of prednisone. It really was quite cruel to the poor dog and leaving a starving teenager roaming around the kitchen, can be dangerous. You just ask Barbie!
xx Rowena

Poem: Somewhere In Between.

Neither tall,

nor small

but somewhere in between…

my feet now touch the ground

though my thoughts are

somewhere in the clouds.

 

I look out my bedroom window

at the road which lies ahead

wondering how to get from A to B.

Do I really have to walk?

Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Indeed, I don’t even know

which questions I should ask.

Yet, everywhere I seem to look,

all I find is rules.

Rules on rules on rules!

 

Be here!

Go there!

This is how to do your hair!

Living by this ringing bell,

has to be a form of hell!

 

Neither tall,

Nor small

but somewhere in between…

why can’t I just enjoy the view

before I grow too big?

23rd February, 2016.

 

My son was given an assignment this week to write a poem “Looking Through My Window”. He is about to turn 12 and has just started High School. I wanted him to see the topic from a different angle and that looking through his window could refer to what he sees as well as how he views the world…his perspective.

As it was, his poem came from another perspective entirely and he wrote from an imaginary point of view about a mysterious rabbit which he spotted out his window, which no one else could see. This rabbit took on surreal qualities and started glowing, combusting and then in the morning there was no trace of the rabbit at all. It struck me as being a bit Steven King but well done. I gave him a bit of help with punctuation but it was his own piece.

I am trying to work out a good balance on the homework front. Every kid and his dog is being tutored these days and I figured my husband and I are qualified enough to handle this. Geoff is one of those lucky few who are good at maths and English. My maths ability was never strong but after putting so much effort into my creative side, it fell into some kind of swamp years ago.

So, who does our daughter come to for maths help tonight? Ha! Yes, yours truly. Well, they’ve even changed the way you do subtraction since I was at school and so Geoff ended up giving the pair of us a Maths lesson.

I would have thought that being a poet would’ve automatically disqualified me from all of that!!

By the way, it was sweltering here today and I caught the dog lying in front of a small fan we had running to redirect the air-con into the bedrooms….just like many of you in the North must have pets in front of the fire/heater this time of year. I was very tempted to grab that sun today and stick it in an envelope and post it to you all…no returns. Yes, I know I’d regret it in the morning and the temperature is supposed to be much more comfortable tomorrow. It’s really been a scorcher today!

Anyway, all too soon, I’ll be complaining about the cold!!

xx Rowena