Change in Normal Programming

It has always been my intention to keep this blog as an upbeat, positive way of sharing things that work for me in my roles as museum educator, wife, mother, crafter and so on.  However in a change to “normal programming” I’m going to share about my week because while things didn’t really work for me, I am still alive and able to tell the tale  and along the way I have learned a few more things as you often do when life throws you a “curve ball”.

First some background.  I’m overweight, have high blood pressure and have recently been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea OSA which means I can wake up to 29 times in four hours of sleep.  Last Sunday night I had a follow-up sleep study which determined what sort of mask and c-pap machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) would work best for me and the settings at which the machine should be set.  I wasn’t all that thrilled about needing the machine – after all it is a very unsexy look for someone about to turn forty but I did understand the need for it and the fact that I have been feeling drowsy when driving was making me quite anxious.

So on Monday I had a day off to recover from the sleep study which went well but only involved about 3 hours sleep because of difficulties with their monitoring equipment.  Then on Tuesday I drove to work in the rain ready to start dismantling and packing away a fairly large activity area that has been used for a recent event at the Museum.  While packing boxes and pushing stuff around on trolleys I started to feel very unwell with severe chest pain.  Ended up having a night in Ipswich hospital and a night in the Wesley Hospital, several blood tests, several ecgs and a stress test which thankfully have all shown a healthy heart.  But with episodes of chest pain still happening I do have to get things further investigated and I have an appointment with my wonderful GP tomorrow to begin that process.

Some things I learned:

  • The staff at Ipswich hospital are fantastic including a wonderful cardiologist who explained all the connections between my various issues and insisted that I get the c-pap happening asap.  Thanks to him I was able to get things moving at the Wesley and came home with a c-pap machine on Thursday night.

  • If they are not sure what to give a new patient for dinner at Ipswich hospital you can be presented with a plate containing three types of puree.  In defense of the hospital kitchen however I was probably the only one in the room with teeth.

  • Some people say very helpful things and some people say very unhelpful things.  Unfortunately the people you would most want to say helpful things don’t.

  • Ambos are not amused by stories of people with acute chest pain being driven to hospital by one of their colleagues.  Even when I told them this particular colleague was a legend they were still unimpressed.

  • If you don’t have a change of undies in hospital they have very attractive paper ones – think of an adult sized huggies. (This was the highlight of the whole episode for Daniel)

  • When you enter a toilet shared with three males to find wee all over the seat and floor the urge to get down on your knees and clean it up does happen until you remember that you are NOT related to these three males.

  • Hospitals have Wonderful showers.

  • The new cardiac wing at the Wesley is like Heaven on Earth.

  • On the purely practical side it is probably a good idea to keep a change of clothes and one set of medication in the car or with you at all times especially if you work somewhere that is some distance from where you live.

  • Husbands don’t think a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant are warranted for an overnight hospital stay.  But dirty looks from emergency department nurses do wonders!


School Holidays – Staying in the Groove

The boys are on holidays and I am not, but we are dealing with it.  I did flex off from work today so I could take Eric and his cousin Emma to a “Softie” workshop at Threads and More.  It was really Emma’s 8th birthday present but we sent Eric along for company.  I know children should learn to make their own fun and be able to amuse themselves in the holidays.  But I think it is good to have some structured activity in there especially if it involves learning something new and producing something you are really proud of.

As for the rest of the holidays we’re farming out the boys to various different places and dh will have some time off.  But to keep our sanity we will still be going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, trying to eat regular meals, trying to keep up with the laundry and the house.  Because we didn’t have sporting commitments last weekend I took the boys and two friends to work so that they could experience the event that I’ve been working so hard on and that took up most of Saturday.  It was  just marvelous to be able to stroll around after them and interact with all the different elements that I had been working on.  As it is a “Great Train Robbery” Daniel spent a total of two hours (in two different sessions) in the police station going through evidence and was thoroughly absorbed.  I’m going to have to make sure I keep his investigation sheet which was filled with wonderful Daniel hieroglyphics probably known only to him.  Eric was just as enthusiastic but was also keen to do the Blacksmiths tours and a few other things so I think I could safely take them up there during a non-event period and they would still be well occupied.

I’m planning another trip to the city museum on the weekend but we’ll have to fit it in with Eric’s sleepover plans.  I’d also like to see a movie or two with the boys.  I’m just getting used to the fact that we don’t have to do everything during the day and that they can handle some late nights if necessary.  Our holidays are going to be very different from now on but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.

What’s New Pussy Cat?

There are LOTS of new things in my life at the moment (and lots of things are staying the same which is somewhat reassuring).  Biggest thing is the change from teaching to working in the museum system, working in an office instead of a school and most of all having flexible working hours.  So without further ado I give you my list of new things in my life:

If I get up the road early enough I can buy a paper on my way to work.

I’ve got enough flexi-time and TOIL saved up to have two days off.

I have a telephone beside me for most of the day – this has been a big adjustment and I still jump sometimes when it rings.

I get to use a radio and “radio jargon” when I’m working on my own or in a distant part of the museum – Roger that. Over and out.

I’ve learnt to use a drill with screwdriver to fasten and unfasten screws – it is the first time in my life I have ever handled a power tool.

On many days I can set my little to-do list for the day and then get to do most of things on my list – there are not too many unexpected things that come along.

I have a corner of a cubicle to call my own – much smaller space to look after than a classroom.

I push trolleys everywhere almost every day.

I’ve driven a ute.

I’ve worked on a Sunday and been paid for it.

My colleagues in my team often spend the day working just 2-3 metres away from me – sooooo different to only seeing people over lunch and afternoon tea!

I can skip making my lunch any day of the week and buy it.

I can set my own agenda to a certain extent and do the things that require more brain power in the morning when I’m at my best (after a coffee!)

I get to plan things and prepare things thoroughly so that I can deliver learning experiences of a very high quality.

I don’t do playground duty – ever!

Wet weather at lunch time just means that some hot food may go down nicely rather than camping out in a classroom gulping down a sandwich in the corner if I’m lucky.

I imagine there will be those who read this list and say so what? But these things listed are all pretty big for me because I was NEVER going to leave teaching.  I don;t think I’m going to say “never” again about anything after the past 12 months so I may go back to the classroom some day.  But f I do my life and career will be so much the richer for having had this experience of a working life outside the classroom no matter how long it lasts.

Hit the ground running

Day 14 of my new job today and life is now very much full on.  I am loving it however.  I’m working with some really cool people.  We’re are bringing joy to many, many people and my brain is getting a good work out with lots of problem solving, creativity and detailed planning to do each day.  I’m gradually getting into a good sleep routine which will ultimately help everything else.  I’ve joined a new gym near work so I can easilt incorporate exercise into my schedule amd I’m planning to cook more meals once I get the sleeping routine down pat.  I’m expecting that all to be a bit easier once the boys are back at school next week because at the moment they are often still up and about when I go to bed and not awake when I’m getting ready in the morning.

I think morning is set to become my best time of the day again.  I try to get to work as early as I can manage so I have a pleasant drive with the sun behind me and hardly any traffic to deal with.  I love arriving at work, swiping my security pass so the big metal gate opens for me and then walking to my office through the museum.  As I go through the museum doors it is almost eerily quiet and dimly lit if I’m there before the museum has been powered up for the day.  I always take a deep breath in to savour the scent of old machinery and smile at the dear old engines I have to go past to get to my office.

Coffee is normally the first thing on my agenda, followed by a check of the e-mail, calendar and task list, an informal chat with my team about what we are working on for the day and then a little later we meet with the VSOs who are on the front line for the day.

I’m using Microsoft Outlook for e-mail, calendar and task lists and I am really liking it.  I record tasks and prioritize them as soon as I can after I get them and then I can change my priorities during the day if necessary.  I can also arrange my day so that I am doing the things that require more energy and brainpower in the morning and then some more mundane stuff in the afternoon.  I have a heap of resource materials and museum activities to go through but I’m approaching it the way one would eat an elephant – one bite at a time!

One challenge is looking at the work I am familiar with – education with different lenses such as marketing.  Virtually all communication about the activities of the museum has to go through marketing and/or the government department we belong to.  The organization is starting to adopt social media but is approaching it very carefully.  I’m hoping to make use of my own personal learning network to generate more interest in and more visits to the museum.

So all in all, it is falling into place nicely.  I’m looking forward to doing an activity with school groups near the next school holidays because I know I am going to be really well prepared and well resourced.  It is going to be so satisfying to know that I’m putting my best into it and I’m sure it will reap rewards in terms of great learning outcomes for the students who participate.  I’ll keep posting here when I can, depending on my energy levels!

Driving in the other Direction

I’ve had some very exciting developments this week.  Life has taken a different direction and it is one that no one could have predicted.  After a big application, interview with assessment task two weeks ago and another follow up meeting this week I’ve been offered a job at one of our favourite places in the world. Here

After years of thinking I would never do anything other than teach in a classroom, I saw the ad for this position – Learning, Activities and Events Officer – a few months ago and immediately my heart leapt.  I could do that.  I wanted to do that.  There could be a place for me beyond the classroom, a place where I could still use my skills as an educator and work with a wide variety of people.  I love trains and railways and history.  When the boys were into Thomas the Tank Engine I reveled in the language and the images of that magical world.  We’ve been regular visitors to The Workshops over the years and held annual passes for four years running.

There will be many other changes apart from me driving west instead of east each day.  As a public servant of sorts I will be working longer hours officially but less hours unofficially.  I’ll have some measure of control over when I work, being able to accrue flexi-time etc.  I will be working on most school holidays because those are the busiest times for the museum – especially Boxing Day through to the end of January when Thomas comes to visit.  If I work on a weekend or public holiday I might be paid overtime (huge concept for a teacher!).  I won’t be having holidays for quite some time and when I do they will be during school time.  We think the boys will cope with a few weeks out of school here and there for holidays down the track – I can certainly “home school” them if necessary!  I wont have my own class but I will also be doing without playground duty, report writing and parent teacher interviews.  There are lots of things I’ll miss and lots of things I won’t miss.  There are lots of things about this position that I don’t even know yet and that is both exciting and a little bit scary but I am so ready.

I’m ready to belong somewhere again, to be doing something worthwhile and working hard.  I’m ready to know where I am going each day and where I’ll be going each week.  I’m ready to be challenged, to use my creativity and problem solving skills and I’m so excited!

After initially being skeptical about me working for the government (he never thought he’d see the day) Anthony is delighted.  The boys, after some confusion on Daniel’s part, are just about delirious.  When I told the boys that they might sometimes be used as “guinea pigs”, Dan didn’t relish the prospect of living in a box and eating grass.  But when it was all explained he was delighted of course.  With their new found independence they are getting used to traveling to and from school in a  number of different ways and are relishing the slightly increased responsibility.  The extended family are already booking themselves up for holiday care.

I worked my final days as a relief teacher this week in three different schools and then today we celebrated – Eric’s first communion and confirmation.  Now I have two weeks to get everything in order ready to start my next big adventure.  I don’t know all of what the future holds but I’ll certainly be putting my sunglasses when I drive in the other direction!