thought overload

Oh, hello blog, this is what you look like…I remember you!

I have been thoroughly overwhelmed of late. University assignments, children going back to school and now the rain. Again.

It has been raining non-stop since Monday and looks like it is set in until Wednesday next week. We have had storm warning after storm warning and looks like there will be extreme weather events in the next few days. Welcome to South East Queensland, bring your gumboots and wet weather gear! There have been news broadcasts of people attempting to drive through flood waters, tourists playing tennis on flooded tennis courts and children rescued from raging torrents.

Here at Chez Vix, we are safe and away from the flash flooding. Roads are closed all around us and the poor neighbours had a tree split in half and squash their car. It’s wet, wild and woolly.  Fun times. The gloominess is getting to me, I do not do well with this weather.

Here are my top stress-busters , mental notes and conversations  for this week:

  1. Get out of your pyjamas and force yourself to take the children to school. Brush your hair.
  2. Smile and say hello to everyone, even though you look like a wet, absent-minded crazy woman who just got out of her pyjamas.
  3.  Get out the slow cooker and serve dumplings with everything. Satisfied bellies in wet weather = peace and quiet.
  4. Dumplings are a new food group, you can put anything in them. Left over ricotta is a winner, ask The Princess, she doesn’t like dumplings but ate these ones.
  5. Keep one room tidy. Pick a room, clean and tidy it and retreat there when you feel overwhelmed.
  6. Do not think about the electricity bill as you are shoving another load of washing in the tumble dryer. Just get the washing done.
  7. Star eating breakfast for once in your life. In fact, start eating properly. Crackers and fruit are not a nutritious diet.
  8. Drink more water than coffee.
  9. Do not think of looming deadlines for assignments and massive reference lists piling up. Do not even think about the Case Study for next Semester. Just keep plugging away daily and worry about the 5000 word count when you finish. Cull is a lovely word, short is not.
  10. The children will have everything they need for school by next week and so will you. The term ‘catch-up’ was coined for a reason.
  11. Playing Uno with Master 6 is a study break NOT procrastination.
  12. The clutter on the bench and piles of paperwork will find a home after your assignments are finished.
  13. The back to school expenses are astronomical but don’t the children look lovely in their new school uniforms and shoes? We can grocery shop next week ( see #4: Dumplings are a new food group).
  14. Laugh. Keys locked in the car and holding a torch in the rain for hubby ( while in your pyjamas) at 1am so he can break in  IS funny. No one saw you. Only crazy people are up at that time. And shift workers and people who are shift workers and have locked their keys in the car. And you.
  15. It’s  amusing, not sad, that there are still Christmas decorations laying around the house.
  16. Do not lament about children leaving home – they come back.
  17. Make pancakes for breakfast this weekend. Bieber loves pancakes and his girlfriend just broke up with him.
  18. Realise that you should have done Bachelor of Education Primary with all the extra schoolwork help for The Princess. Could have got a credit on that alone.
  19. Rejoice that you have dodged Homeschooling  once again.
  20. Do not feel bad when you have been caught repeating yourself, or forgetting conversations with Red. It evens out the times when he has ignored you and dismissed your words.
  21. Hearing ‘I love you’ or ‘Mum, we can’t take you anywhere’ or ‘This is why we can’t have nice things’ cancels out all the bad stuff. I do try. Sometimes I get it right. Other times I break things and spill food on my clothes.
  22. When Bieber says ‘Wow Mum, we’ve been having all the foods I like’, smile. It’s golden.
  23. Stop watching late night TV. Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling is more entertaining.
  24. Remember to take your phone off silent before bedtime. Alarms will not wake you up with no sound.
  25. Plan to do one nice thing for everyone in the family each week so that they feel special, including myself.

It is Australia Day tomorrow and while most of the festivities have been cancelled due to rain, I have planned an indoor BBQ. The children have the day off school and I plan to spend it with them.

I was a tad disappointed that Denise or Bruce Morcombe didn’t receive Australian of the Year 2012 after everything they have been through and their tireless energy and support for other parents of missing children. Congratulations to Geoffrey Rush, another great Queenslander and a fan-bloody-tastic speech. I wonder who wrote it.

Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Aussies. Stay safe and dry to all my fellow Queenslanders.

English: The Flag of Australia flying over Pea...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

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One day, FOTH (father of the house) decided he would play a joke on The Princess. I had chopped chicken for dinner and came across this bit of goodness-knows-what. Before I could discard it, FOTH picked it up and called for The Princess,

“Look what Mum found in the chicken. A chicken tooth.”

The Princess: No way Dad, you’re joking.

FOTH: No, seriously, it is. They are very rare you know.

The Princess: I don’t believe you.

FOTH: Go and ask Jim. He’ll tell you.

Jim is one of our neighbours and has a wicked sense of humour. He is forever telling the children jokes, engaging them with his magic tricks and giving them lateral thinking exercises. His magic, disappearing, elbow, coin trick is the best I have seen.

Off trots The Princess at 6pm, pyjama-clad and carefully holding, in the palm of her hand… the Chicken Tooth. Jim, of course, has no warning of what is unfolding but the FOTH has unquestionable confidence in Jim’s ability to keep the story going.

Meanwhile, I turn to my husband and give him the ‘evil chicken’ stare. I know this is not going to end well.

The Princess returns, flustered from running excitedly across the street. I feel terrible but say nothing under strict instructions from FOTH.

FOTH: So, what did Jim say?

The Princess: (breathless) OMG, he said that it’s really rare and might be worth some money.

FOTH:  Really? Hmmm. Wow.

The Princess: Oh, and he wants to know where you got the chicken because he wants to go there. Chicken Teeth are rare you know Dad.

FOTH: I told you.

The Princess: Where DID you get that chicken from?

FOTH  tells The Princess about the organic chicken sold at the butcher near the local supermarket and off she trots again across the road. This time she returns even more animated. It turns out that Jim’s wife has chimed in, asking if Jim can take her to the butcher right this minute. The Princess is sure she’s got something special now. I can’t bear it any more. I know I have to say something. I go to speak then,

“I’m going to sell this on Ebay, Mum can you take a photo for me?” and there she is, sitting at the computer trying to find out if there is anything else like what she has. Oh for the love of….

Me: Princess, Dad is joking. It’s not a chicken tooth. It’s just a gristly bit in the meat honey. Look, here are some more.

The Princess: Awwwwwwwww.  You’re bums. You’re all bums.

At least she said that with a smile.

The Chicken Tooth that was almost listed on Ebay

I have always dreaded rainy days. They make me miserable and I feel trapped. The January floods of 2011 even gave me  a reason to fear them.

Today, rainy days have been given a facelift via my children who are complete and utter nutters and my family as a whole, who are extremely supportive. I’m so very grateful and proud.

I set up my laptop this afternoon in the family area, among all the chaos and noise, to get a bird’s-eye view of the hilarity that was unfolding. My line of sight directed to the upstairs hallway and storage cupboard . The dress-ups are located in there. Rather than pull the box out, The Princess stepped inside and all I could see was a hand extending from the open door to Master 6, who was attempting to don all manner of clothing items. Considering the day’s entertainment began with Master 6 in nothing but boxer shorts, a pink maiden’s headdress and a fake beard, I knew it was going to be a cracker of a day. I watched him as he looked down at me giggling uncontrollably, looking like a fractured fairytale version of one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs. He attempted to drag the rest of the princess costume over his head, losing the beard and the headdress. It was like watching a butterfly emerging from a cocoon on video, except with someone continually pressing reverse, fast forward and pause. There was dancing and singing  including a final fashion parade. The Princess wearing a left over witches costume from Halloween and Master 6 as The Princess, complete with ‘fake boobs’ he described as really ‘soft and squishy’. No gender stereotyping here thank you very much. The Princess then chased Master 6 through the house demanding that he give her back her boobs (socks). I am so very glad that no neighbours decided to visit at that time, although I did notice there was a bag of cookies left by the front door from the elderly next-door neighbour who did not knock. Oh dear, I figure, he’s lived next door to us for this long that nothing should surprise him.

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...

(Image via Wikipedia) A bit like these...only...gone.

The ‘bag’ of cookies turned out to be several bags of home-made cookies; peanut butter, chocolate chip, jam drops, almond/coffee and Anzacs. I would have taken a photo of this lot sitting on the couch eating from their individual bags but the cookies didn’t last long enough. The memory is also sweeter in my mind. I looked at Master 6 incredulously who had almost devoured his bag while in full Princess regalia and he said, ‘What’s so funny?’ Indeed.

Bieber managed to appear at the most opportune time – he smelled food. The Princess and her father made Potato Scallops for lunch as I read out a recipe I found online, switching back and forth between it and study. They were really good and much appreciated on this dismal day. I even got ice cream in a waffle cone. I don’t know, some days the food just appears at my desk.Bieber made me a coffee before he disappeared back upstairs to his land of ’12 year old boy’.

Master 6, finally de-Princessed, decided he would sit on top of me and not next to me. I love a 6 years old’s lack of spatial awareness which is still developing and will one day make sure he doesn’t sit ANYWHERE near me. The boy looked rather Dr Octagonapusish attached to wires and metal which I realised was actually earphones and Bieber’s mobile phone. This, and the fact he was riveted to a show on TV meant he sat on me. The phone? Probably a bribe from Bieber to get peace and quiet.

Red has been away visiting his girlfriend all weekend up in North Queensland. On his arrival he did text me. Did I really not text back ALL weekend? Yep. Terrible mother. This is the text I received from his this evening:

Umm well seeing you don’t even miss me I have decided to join the monastery up here…You and the rest of the family will always be in my mind. But I seek enlightenment now…’

The Princess intercepted this text and came downstairs to tell me that Red was not coming back, he’d joined a monastery. Huh? This is my text back to Red:

‘I thought that I would practise being a NAM (new age mother) where my progeny are free to spread their wings without my constant over-shadowing. That, and the fact that my iPhone is not my own (read: The Princess monopolises it). I got your message that you are safe and that’s all that matters to me. The knowledge of where you are is enough to satisfy even my most outrageous parenting concerns. The Princess filtered your text before I read it thus: Red isn’t coming home, he’s joined the monastery. Good luck with that. Your lovely mother xxx

This is the text I got back (from the girlfriend):

‘I love you mummy xxx Also, I kept your son safe from the scaries 🙂

Not from the scaries here though. I love these.

The Queensland summer provides plenty of these shots

Classical Planets

(Image via Wikipedia) Helloooooooooo?

I don’t know what you call it. The Universe reaching out to me. My subconscious rising to meet me. My state of being forcing me to make connections. Fellow like -minded bloggers in the exact same state of thought. Whatever it is, something seems to be happening this week even if I can’t manage a tangible description for it. I will try and explain.

Firstly, my dear blogging friend MJ Monaghan posted a poem titled A Minute which really ‘spoke’ to me. Check it out. In fact check out everything  on his blog- he is hilarious and so well- written.

My new blogging friend Jacqueline at maturestudenthanginginthere wrote a post about The Important Little Dash, the time that we spend here on earth, the quality of our time and our defining moments – the dash, the little line between the dates that signify our birth and departure from this world. The bits that matter. Jacqueline cites the poem called The Dash by Linda Ellis and there is a great video of it on her post. I urge you all to take a look. You will really enjoy reading through this blog as Jacqueline is very funny and you feel like pulling up a seat, cuppa in hand and relaxing, her writing style is that natural- like a conversation with a good friend.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Make one of these then settle in

Lastly, the post on Gently Hew Stone about Managing time when you don’t have much left absolutely caused me to sit up and take notice. This post contains the last lecture given by Randy Pausch (called Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams), a Carnegie Mellon University professor who died of pancreatic cancer in July, 2008. He was only 47.  I bet his ‘dash’ was and is incredible!  What an amazing man. The video is over an hour long but well worth the ‘time’ for it’s humour, strategies for time management and provoking ideas.
Dr. Randy Pausch

(Image via Wikipedia) Randy Pausch

I have just found Jamie Huston’s blog and his About page is a really good read. Jamie writes on topics from art to politics, education to humour. I really liked the post Why I Never Bothered Finishing Eragon which led me to his blog.

There was also this…Lift others up  and ‘I get knocked down,but I get up again…’ at Light and Spirit thank you Lindsay, you inspired me 🙂

What have I gathered from all this? Work on my dash, mind the minutes and live  each day like it’s your last because you don’t know when it will be. Time is something we can never get back once it’s gone and those defining moments are what make us. It has been a week of stress, bewilderment, feeling lost, lacking direction and drive. Some really low moments. There was also inspiration and humbling moments. Things to remind me of what I do have and give me an alternative perspective.

I also watched the video tagged Are You Going To Finish Strong? – best motivational video…EVER (Nick Vujicic) also check out No Arms, No Legs, No Worries! boy, that gave me perspective.

English: Nick Vujicic at Catalyst West, April 2009

(Image via Wikipedia) Nick Vujicic

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrV_ZvwZRvw&feature=related ‘Something More’ by Nick Vujicic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is possibly the most rambling, all-over-the-place post I have produced to date but then, that kinda reflects my state of mind at the moment. I’m ok with that.

Related articles

No clever title.

No clever pun.

The Princess has spoken and I almost missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my units this semester is Multiliteracies (Birth -5 years). Studying this subject has caused me to reflect on my past teaching and my current parenting philosophy and what Ruth Shagoury (2009, p. 59) refers to as ‘teachable moments’.

The idea behind it and the plan

The Princess was booked in for summer school at the end of last school term. Nothing major, The Princess has a little trouble understanding some maths rules and needs more time to explore them.  Mainstream schooling doesn’t always allow for this.  We had decided together to take the online option that was offered.  Now that I am studying and considering what happened last year (January floods) and the heat that is our Queensland summer gift, we thought it would be the way to go.

What actually happened

At 9.30 am last Monday, I get a phone call from the Principal of Summer School. Yes. I forgot. Actually, I forgot the date and was wondering why our online package hadn’t arrived. Oh, I’m sorry but online isn’t an option. Huh? We decided to start The Princess the very next day and she could catch up on what she missed easily. Excuse me? Oh, and you won’t need to bring anything, morning tea and drinks are provided for the small break of 15 minutes mid-morning. Sorted. Oh dear.

The next few hours resulted in The Princess stomping through the house. Tears and tantrums turned to dishes noisily being unstacked from the dishwasher. The vacuum cleaner roaring away upstairs. Articles of clothing being tossed across my line of vision somewhere in the vicinity of the downstairs laundry. Back and forth she went. Cleaning spray and a cloth in hand busily scrubbing every surface within an inch of its life. Chairs scraped on the floor. All accompanied by hrrumphs and sighs.

Princess, you don’t have to clean the house. You do have to go to summer school. I don’t want to go to summer school, I hate it. You’ve never been. I want to do it online. You can’t do it online, they’re not doing it. But my friend is doing it online. Why should I have to go to summer school, it’s the school holidays. On and on it went.

Two hours passed. Can I go to K’s house? Sure, be back in two hours. Have fun. Off The Princess trotted to her friend’s house across the road.

The Princess roars through the door at 4pm, excitedly asking if she can stay over at K’s house. No honey. You have summer school in the morning and you need an early night. I want to stay at K’s house but I can’t because of DUMB summer school.

Insert two hours of tears. I never knew you could make so much noise feeding a cat. Apparently there are several ways for opening a tin of cat food and putting this with biscuits in a feed bowl that can make an enormous amount of noise. Add to this doors and cupboards slamming, dirty dishes thrown in to the sink from a distance and plenty of exaggerated groans and you have yourself a party.

Half an hour later, I realised the house was silent. I was concerned by what may lay ahead. I knew that assignment #2 was not going anywhere right at this moment and put down my books. No Princess. As I attempted to shut down my laptop, a small maths grid book was slid under my nose. There, in all it’s glory was a full page of maths sums. All neatly written in red pen. All correct. When all else had failed to grab my attention, convey her implicit feelings and render the required result, The Princess had produced a note. The message inside was unmistakeable and I almost missed it.

Later that evening before dinner, I overheard The Princess tell Master 6 that he had better do his homework or he’d wind up in summer school too. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the horror, The Princess dragged out her old Year 6 maths books and busily started working through them again, employing the aide of Bieber and Red the maths whizzes in our home. I knew I had to approach this carefully. I had seen this before.

After dinner, The Princess and I sat down for a quiet moment. I softly asked her why she didn’t want to go to summer school. The answer suprised me. It had nothing to do with her giving up her freedom in the holidays. It had nothing to do with missing out on a sleep over. It had nothing to do with waking up early to walk the 2.5 km to school in the heat. It didn’t even have to do with her feeling ‘stupid’ (which was my biggest concern). No, the answer was simply this: I don’t know why you can’t teach me Mum.

A ‘teachable moment’.

Shagoury (2009) reminds us that, as educators and parents, we must be careful not to miss these little moments with children. It’s hard to always understand the meaning behind everything that children do but, we can try. Knowing the child, their background, their interests and strengths is just part of the equation. Asking questions, taking quiet moments out in a busy, hectic day,listening and observing are the ingredients for ‘teachable moments’. These opportunities serve us well on two levels. We learn so much by really listening to children and expanding on what they tell us. These little insights are ‘miracle windows’. We also learn a lot about ourselves and the way we teach.

The experiment

The  next day, The Princess went to summer school. She had resigned herself to the fact that she could at least  give it a go, in keeping with the family motto and then  return home and recount all the problems/issues/atrocities back to us in her utterly guilt-inducing and unshakeable explanation of why she shouldn’t go back. Here is her argument:

  • You took me to the wrong classroom
  • The teacher had to walk me to 4 different classrooms to find out where I was meant to be
  • If you just listened to me in the first place, Mum, we wouldn’t have been late
  • The work is ridiculous
  • You know that 15 minute break? NO FOOD
  • I walked around the school yard for 10 minutes by myself
  • I didn’t know ANYONE and nobody talked to me
  • The teacher really didn’t help me much, he was focusing on the other kids more than me
  • You never asked me if I even WANTED to go in the first place
  • You said I could do it online
  • You can still teach me yourself, you know

That last point was the kicker and she was right. There was so much more to The Princess not wanting to go to summer school. My time.

Amazingly, after it had been decided that she would not return in the morning (and that the Cowardly Mother was to be spared the shame making THE phone call to the summer school  Principal) all these little stories emerged of how she had a male teacher for the day and now ‘I’m not so worried about having a male teacher this year’. I found out that she was playing ‘Moshi Monsters on the computers in the air conditioning. The Princess also came home with a gift bag containing a ruler, and other stationery items. This little bag of goodies contained a bright, yellow sticker with the word FUNLAND with a crown over the ‘a’ (I know, the irony didn’t escape me either). The sticker has since been squarely slapped on to the front of the paper goodies bag and placed on my desk as a reminder of what I have done. You know the nobody-talked-to-me-scenario? Debunked! ‘Two boys talked to me and one was nice. One asked me if I’d had enough sleep because my eyes were all puffy. One told me not to drink out of the bubblers because it was all hot. I didn’t know what to say to the boy about my eyes’ (she had cried a lot the day before).  However, she did have plenty to say to me about her lack of provision for nourishment and water in the 3 hours she was there. I am a terrible mother. I needed to write this post. I have just read it out loud to The Princess as she sat near me, smiling with every word. This is why I am now sitting here, close to The Princess as she writes her own curriculum for summer school under my direction. Yes, I am the teacher.

P.S. There has now been yet another huge discussion about Home Schooling. The Princess begs me at least three times a year to Home School her (usually after holidays). Bieber firmly responded with a ‘No’ and wants to know why I always want to ruin his life. Master 6 emphatically responded ‘YES’! which resulted in a ‘high -five’  from The Princess. When I asked Red his thoughts, I got this :’Why does my opinion matter?’ (in a painfully whiny tone) which I translated to mean ‘Please stop talking to me and interrupting my gaming time… and ruining my life’.

In the middle of all this, my husband says to me ‘It’s up to you Bub’ and passes me a note , written on a used envelope:

I Love u c u r  m q t

I look at him in wonder. ‘I bet you can’t work out what it says’, he tells me.  The note, decoded reads:

I love you ’cause you are my cutie

Once again, all is right with the world.

Reference

Shagoury, R.E. (2009). Raising writers: Understanding and nurturing young children’s writing development. USA: Allyn & Bacon, Pearson

 

There is a battle raging inside of me. It even has a name. Oestrogen.

Oh, how I despise thee. You are completely antagonistic toward my dear friend Progesterone in your constant pursuit of dominance.

 

Like a  spurned lover, I blame you for every problem in my life. You were never there when I needed you and now you are here too much and I don’t want you. You are over the top and your abundance wearies me. You invade every part of my being in your blind conquest and your need for control. What do you want from me?

 

 

Channelling Elizabeth Barrett Browning , How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  • Depression
  • Bloating/Fluid retention
  • Teariness
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory loss
  • Itchiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fear you love me too much and I have come to realise that you are jealous of my friend Progesterone, the quiet achiever.

 

I must end your tyranny and reclaim my being.  The balance of power must and will be restored.

This thing we got going has to end.

That’s just nuts!

I know that I have blogged a lot about how crazy this household can get at times. Today was no different. Well, it was a little odd  weird  awkward this afternoon because of a conversation that just kind of evolved from nothing. Have you ever  listened to a conversation that you know you shouldn’t be privy to? Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know if you even wanted to be part of  the conversation? Right, then. You will understand the following.

We have been very happy to have Red’s old high school buddy visiting for the last three weeks from Utah. Grady left for the US in December, 2009 to live with his father and go to college and we haven’t seen him in two years, so this has been really exciting for us. Grady was part of the family and a resident on my couch for a year due to erm…let’s just say unstable home conditions. As you all know, to live in this house takes just the right amount of crazy and a good sense of humour. Grady excels in both.

I was just happily sitting here this afternoon reading away with the usual people coming and going around me until one conversation began which caused my ears to prick up like the Easter Bunny on steroids. I am not sure how the topic came up but all of a sudden there it was: nuts. I am not talking the Nobby’s kind either.

All of a sudden I realised I was outnumbered, being the only female in the room and feeling rather awkward. I could not contribute to a conversation like that. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to be in the conversation but, it all seemed directed at me. Like I needed an education. I have no idea.

With Grady sitting on the couch, Bieber in the kitchen and my husband at the table here is how it all unfolded:

Grady: Remember when I hit Bieber in the balls with the tennis ball?

Bieber: Oh yeah God that hurt

Grady: Well, you were betting me I couldn’t hit you

Bieber: Well, I didn’t know you had such a good aim you [expletive]

Brief discussion about the gore in the film Immortals and then more talk about nuts.Everybody looking at me, explaining the excruciating pain that ensues.

Me: I am sorry, I cannot sympathise with you for obvious reasons.

Grady: It’s like…starts in your stomach and travels up and…heartburn…nausea…

Bieber: Like having a baby Mum I bet,   [insert female anatomy comment] (I forgive him, he’s 12)

Me: You think?

Bieber: Oh right, you wouldn’t know, you had a c-section (Not forgiven)

Me: Thank goodness, we thought we were having a bowling ball for a baby

/denied and dismissed

 

 

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