Die! Onions Die!

In a night that will go down in history, Daniel not only helped me cook dinner tonight but also banished me from the kitchen when he was confident in performing tasks himself.  We were trying out my shiny new Tupperware Smooth Chopper which I purchased with him in mind.  He is beginning to enjoy helping out in the kitchen more as he gets older but chopping things finely and not getting them everywhere is still very hard.  So we made rissoles with finely chopped carrot, zucchini and onion.  he wasn’t too sure about doing the onion because he knows it can make me teary but then he twigged the fact that with the lid on it wouldn’t be a problem.  And thus came the words, “Die! Onions die! You’ll never make me cry again!”

So the onions were a highlight followed by not only having the chance to break eggs (one of his favourite activities) and then to successfully beat them (another thing that has been tricky.)

I wouldn’t leave either of my boys unsupervised to put things and and out of the smooth chopper due to the very, very sharp blades but I did retreat when instructed that, “I can make this stuff into balls now Mum!”

(This post was not sponsored in any way by Tupperware but if they ever did want us to test anything we would be delighted to do so!)rissoles rissoles1 rissoles2 rissoles3


Catching Up

I am SO grateful to have two weeks holiday for Easter this year instead of the usual long weekend followed by 4 days of frantically trying to get things done.  I pretty much slept through Easter which was much needed then took it easy last week so this week is more of a week for getting things done.  I have spring cleaned most of the kitchen including the exhaust fan and the cupboard fronts and started a few other projects.

But the thing I’ve enjoyed most is having time to catch up with people. Time to have a chat with my elderly neighbour who moved away to an assisted living place in Toowoomba today, time to sit with one of my Avon customers and drink liqueur and coffee and laugh at Bronco snuffling in her mondo grass, time to sit with one of my BFFs down at Pallara and drink coffee fairly peacefully until a certain blue cattle dog decided to terrorise one of her roosters and especially time with my boys to hang out, chat, learn new things and work on some projects together.

A very, very special catch-up has been with another BFF up in Cairns, Fiona aka Fifikins.  Fiona took up knitting a couple of years ago after I did and has way surpassed me in skills, finished projects, stash and just about everything else knitting related.  I don’t mind this one bit because I can see how how having a high-fibre (yarn) diet has really brought her a lot of satisfaction.  What I marvel at is the fact that she has never actually been inside a “brinks and mortar” yarn shop.  Cairns in far north Queensland does not have a yarn shop and I’m pretty certain that Fiona has not left Cairns in the time she has been knitting.

So she has learned to knit by making the most of what’s out there in cyber space.  There isn’t a place for her to go and have lessons in Cairns so she has taught herself, mainly through You Tube.  There aren’t regular social knitting groups in Cairns although they do have Ravelry get togethers sometimes.  Fiona has become very much involved in the whole Ravelry scene and joined in with a myriad of groups there. And earlier this year she began her own podcast.

A few years ago Eric and I were very fortunate to have a week up in Cairns with Fiona and as you would expect Fiona and I spent many long hours on her back deck with the fairy lights talking, sharing and reminiscing.  I missed that when I came home and have missed it ever since.  We talk on the phone, communicate almost daily on Facebook and skype sometimes but it just isn’t the same.

Enter the podcast!  Once a week I get to sit at my computer and listen to Fiona and see her on the deck with the fairy lights having a yarn about knitting and lots of other things.  Who knows when I’ll get to Cairns again or when she will get down here but watching the podcast is pretty darn good.  I sit with my knitting and get caught up.  I had missed a few episodes over the past month because of everything happening so over the past 2 days I’ve watched 3 episodes as I catch up.  For two of those episodes this afternoon I set myself up with my laptop on my back deck and worked on a project for school.  What a great afternoon I had!

Fiona also hosts VKNs (Virtual Knit Nights) using Google Hangouts where you can sit at your computer with a group of others on the screen and knit and chat together.  I’ve only managed to get to one of those once so I’m definitely aiming for more.

Fiona’s podcasts can be found on her blog A Down Under Yarn,podcast on the Ravelry group with the same name and on I-tunes.

The photo is Fiona and I on my back deck this afternoon.  I’m the one with the wine boxes (explanation to come!) and she’s the one on the computer screen.

Now and Then

I’ve had an interesting time with some of my students at school so far this year as they need lots of small frequent incentives to get things done.  A technique suggested by one of our brilliant Image

Special Ed teachers was to have a laminated card with “Now and Then” on it.  Then set one small task followed by something a bit more favorable to come next.  So it might be –

Now: complete a page in your handwriting book

Then: choose a book for Mrs Mc to read to the class.

It works well because the student is just looking at one task and one good consequence and I’ve got myself into a pretty good routine with it.  I keep cards on “certain” desks so I can swing by and remind them of what they should be focused on and positively reinforce their choices when they have done what was required.

Interestingly I have found during the school holidays a similar technique works here.  My boys are not always the most willing helpers and are a bit too distracted by screens.  In order to get things done and get them on board I’ve been using “Now and Then” a lot.  I’m not saying “now” and “then” but when asking them to do something or telling them something that is going to happen I include what will happen next.

For example:

  • Please get dressed and brush your teeth then we’ll take Bronco downstairs for a rumble.
  • When the dishwasher has been unloaded you can ring up X to arrange that play date.
  • After we’ve done the grocery shopping we can do some cooking together.

And on the topic of cooking we’re doing a bit more of that too. Eric and his best mate made Butter Chicken and homemade naan bread last night.  It took the best mate about 20 minutes to cut up a small pile of beans but he got it done and was pleased with himself.  I’m giving them as much choice as possible so the meals are a bit different – nachos, butter chicken, sausages and mashed potato, ravioli.  It is really gratifying to see their skills improve. Eric can now do a cake from scratch and use the stand mixer and Daniel is getting better at cutting up things.  Dan’s original food prep specialty was mushrooms because I could let him loose with a dinner knife and he couldn’t do too much damage but we are moving onto other tools bit by bit.

Museum Musings

We’ve had a long but happy day.  It wasn’t helped by the fact that two boys stayed up very late playing Minecraft last night.  However we headed off using various combinations of public transport suggested by Translink (which really works to get you places faster) to the Queensland Museum and Science Centre.  Lunch was expensive but soon devoured so we could head into to http://www.sciencentre.qm.qld.gov.au/Events+and+Exhibitions/Exhibitions/2013/02/Playing+with+Light Exhibit at the ScienceCentre.  There were lots of people and there was a lot of noise but my crew were undaunted and made sure they explored everything.  Favourites were the kaleidoscope where we stood inside a triangle of mirrors and it looked like we were standing in a crowd of “us” and the place where we could move around casting our shadows on a wall and see them sprinkle confetti. I didn’t attempt the smoky laser maze where you had to dodge and weave to avoid setting off alarms because I think Catherine Zeta Jones did the best job of that in Entrapment. I left my skin tight black lycra at home (just as well!) so i wasn’t really dressed for it either!playing with light7303_10151605758806757_1359334722_n543158_10151605758501757_90312636_n

HIghlight of the museum for me was the Collectomania Exhibition on Level 4.  The museum simply asked people from Queensland to share/loan their “collections” and this resulted in a very diverse and fascinating exhibition.  There were snow domes, rocking horses, music festival armbands and a jar with 15 years worth of fingernail and toenail clippings – ew!  I just loved the way the museum places value on ordinary things that still mean a lot to people.

The museum staff were exceptionally helpful, attentive and friendly and I imagine that could be a big ask on a day that was as busy as today.  They were genuinely interested in what they were doing and striving to make everyone’s visit a pleasant one.

Jack of all trades?

Long time no blog again!
It isn’t like I’ve forgotten this blog but life has been frantically busy and while doing other things and reading LOTS of other things I’ve been pondering the future or even future direction of this blog. Lots of questions have been bubbling up. Should I kep blogging? Will anyone read it?
I’m sure there’s not many around to read it as I haven’t been blogging very much and that leads to another question about building up an audience.
I don;t know if I’ve got what it takes to build up an audience. For starters My blog is a little bit of everything. I’m a mother but don’t have enough material to be a Mummy blogger. Although I will be writing about “Technology Diets” and “How to not kill your soon to be teenager” in the near future.
I’m a teacher and I’m very pleased with a lot of what I’m doing in the classroom especially with Daily 5, Rolem Maths and Words Their Way but I don’t know if that is enough to build myslef an audience of “teacher readers.”
I’m a knitter and crafter but not doing nearly enough of that to have much to write about. Certainly not like my BFF Ms Fifikins who has her own weekly knitting podcast!
I like to say I’m losing weight and write all about that but it ain’t happening just yet and I am certainly not an expert dog owner – even though we have become a lot tougher since Christmas.
What it all boils down to is that I’d like to keep blogging and it will continue to be a little bit of everything.
There will be something for Mums, teachers, crafters and anyone else who is interested. The discipline of regularly putting thoughts on paper (or on-line) is a good one for me and helps me put life’s happening in perspective.
And why the Bronco photo you may ask?
He’s the main subject of most of my photos these days. Hmm, better take some more of the childerbeasts.

Cutting the Cord (in a manner of speaking)

The experience with the puppy continues to echo those of having a baby.  Just when we had dog-proofed everything at floor level he learned to put front paws up on a seat so he can get at all manner of interesting things.

He’s getting better on the lead because he has lots of practice at night when he take him down to do the necessary on the lead so he doesn’t taste test a toad (and die!).  He’s pretty good at “sit,” he sits and waits very politely when we put out his dinner and he comes when called by Anthony or I.  The boys don’t rank highly enough in the “pack” for this apparently.

Our next big hurdle is leaving him home alone.  At the end of this month he’s going to be spending school days mainly on his own.  There are some neighbours that are going to pick him up for puppy play dates or visit him especially at lunchtime but he’s going to have to get used to some solitude.

We’ve started by going out for short periods and locking him under the house.  For those not familiar with Queensland conditions and housing we have “battens” around our house which let plenty of cool breezes in.  He has a spot to relieve himself and a big water bowl.  So far we’ve been feeding him, giving him a run around and then shutting him in while we go out and so far it has been a success.  Yesterday he happily hung out under the house for over an hour.

The plan is that when he is a bit bigger and we have more fencing he will be able to come and go from under the house as he pleases.  It is actually the coolest spot to be in the hot weather and he is not visible from the street.

Our next steps in this process will be leaving him for longer periods, buying a kong and letting him learn how to use it, freezing treats and getting some more puppy toys so he has variety.  We will also be walking him every morning and going to the dog most afternoons. Ok, I’m almost a novice dog owner and definitelyImagea novice puppy owner so how do you think we’re going?

And what will happen if Bronco eats a rhinoceros beetle?

What Works For Me in 2013

P1060860I guess it is hard for anyone to predict what will happen in 2013 but given the events of 2012 I think I can make some educated guesses!

This blog just fell over.  It wasn’t because things weren’t working for me.  It was more because too many things were working well for me at times.  That situation hasn’t changed – there are many good things happening still!

I think I still have something to offer the blog world, perhaps even to more people than the 5 people who commented in 2012 (mortified blush).  So with all the New Year musings I’ve decided to give it anoehr red hot go.

So what are the good things?

I have a shiny new job for 2013!  It started as 1 day of supply teaching in term 3, then became four weeks at the end of term 3, then became term 4 and then best of all, a contract for 2013.  I’m in the state education system, somewhere I never dreamed I’d find myself, and loving every minute of it.  There are two reasons for this.  Firstly I’m a bit older and more able to stand back and see the “big picture.”  So when a child tries to kick the computer room door in (for example) or a parent gets really cranky about something, I know that it isn’t directed at me and it isn’t “my problem” in the end. Secondly, I’ve had a lot of time away from full time teaching, done lots of different things so that now I am more certain than ever in my life that this is what i am meant to be doing.  Some time away really shows you what you appreciate.

We also have a shiny new dog!  Our much loved Vera died suddenly on October 21 last year and even though we had only been her official owners since January 2011 we were all devastated.  Much to my surprise Anthony started researching “blue cattle dogs” almost immediately and 4 weeks ago came home with “Bronco” who we are all besotted with.  After several weeks of always having someone at home with him, our new little mate has to learn about staying home on his own bit by bit beginning tomorrow.  He starts Puppy preschool next Tuesday and after his 16 week needles will be able to go out in public.

Lots of other good things continue to happen – I’m still knitting, reading and always learning. I look forward to sharing more of “what works” with you in 2013.