Saturday, October 17, 2015

This would make Saturday easier



It's Saturday morning. My husband has just let me know he's boarding a plane for the last leg of his trip home from a week's work in Korea.  South.  Not North. Can't wait to see him again.

My back, which I injured last weekend, is nearly better. 95%. But I'm still not up to changing the sheets on the big bed lest we start the whole process all over again.

My daughter has spent the morning fashioning a bow and arrow out of sticks and is refusing to brush her hair because "I'm Boudica" and thus why should she have to.  Obviously an unreasonable request on my part (no pun intended).

My youngest has just begun learning the violin - first lesson yesterday.  He's very keen on practising.  Did I mention he's only had one lesson?  And that he likes practising? A lot.

My other child watched part of a documentary on brown bears last night. This morning he is one. Thus there's been a lot of wearing of dressing gowns and getting around on all fours and eating apples.

And I'm preparing a surprise Indian banquet for my mother's birthday tonight.  I'm out-sourcing that (read: picking up takeaway for 6 before she arrives).

And that's my Saturday.  How's yours going?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The State of the Blog

Five reasons why blogs in general have faded:

1. The rise of the professional blog.  I don't mean the kind of blog a company might launch.  I mean the ubiquity of the mummy-blog-turned-marketing-machine. I like the crusty-ordinary-folk-without-an-SLR-and-sponsorship-deal kind of blog.  There used to be heaps.  Then blogs exploded - cue the entrance of people who like to make money by selling stuff - which led to blogs getting slicker and shinier and finally totally boring.  Bring back crustiness. I'm sick of someone writing a great blog and then getting a book deal and then never writing anything interesting ever again.

2. The demise of conversations (otherwise known as the rise of Twitter).  The fun thing about blogs was the comments, both for readers and bloggers. You were part of a conversation.  No one talks anymore. Comments are empty wastelands.  That's 'cause everyone's on Twitter. They are all talking over there.  Or Facebook. But not on your blog. They read. But they don't talk.

3. Time consuming. Facebook and Twitter are fast. And if you are trying to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Instagram you are either going insane or have too much time on your hands.  Something's gotta give.

4. Blogs stop. Because lives change.  And when the blogs you enjoy aren't running anymore you tend to move on as well.  Sigh.

5. The fun is elsewhere.  It becomes a rolling tide - everyone's talking and sharing somewhere so you go there for your community fix and then you don't bother replicating everything in blogland and then...... it all slows down to a trickle.

I miss the time of the blog.  Those were happy days.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Taylor Swift and Socrates get to the bottom of things

File:Taylor Swift 3, 2012.jpg

Source = 

I shared this Socratic dialogue with Taylor Swift with my lovely Philosophy students (I didn't link straight to the site however because there's a bit of language etc about the place).  What's not to love?  Socrates and Taytay.

N.B. You need to know a little bit of Socrates and a little bit of Taylor Swift to enjoy this - otherwise it's just blah. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In defence of watching television

We used to jokingly called the TV "the mindless tool of the devil" in our house when I was a teenager.

All jokes aside, I have always known that the proper approach to television watching is to consider it at best a waste of time and at worst a sin. So, one should only watch when one has finished everything else and when it is a program of some intellectual value. Of course, because one can never claim to have finished everything else, watching TV justifiably can only be done when you are either too ill to read or have some very commendable task like ironing to do at the same time.  Rather sucks all the fun out it, don't you think?  We might add, that you are also required by this view to hold in some awe those folk that refuse to even have a television in their living room and speak of them with great admiration, all the while knowing you shall never quite measure up because you couldn't bear yourself to be so permanently parted from the idiot box.

However, I have lost my adolescent guilt in relation to television.  It can be an excellent thing.  It is at times gross and base but at other times a wonder and a blessing.  To be taken in moderation and with discernment but nevertheless to be enjoyed.

Recently, I've been thinking about television again in terms of family life. Twenty years ago, I would have looked down my nose at the idea of a warm family evening gathered around the TV for a reality show.  Surely that kind of mindless activity represents the deplorable absence of proper family communication and interaction!

I thought that...until something worse arrived: wifi.

Wifi allows us all to hunker down with a device - individually.  If sitting around the TV inhibits family communication, wifi and portable devices threaten the complete annihilation of shared family experiences.  You can all choose your own entertainment. And, in a trick of the mind, it can even seems more virtuous than TV watching - off I go to research the proper way to teach children to read for an hour, on my own, without a child in sight. But I'm doing something meaningful - not just watching TV - so that's okay.  Meanwhile, my husband has loaded up something else and is glued to a screen of his own. I have this terrible vision of dinner finishing and five people going off in five different directions to spend the next two to three hours in a voluntary isolation inflicted by their own entertainment.

In comparison, when you watch MasterRenovationBee together, you at least share an experience. You discuss the outcomes, the drama, the tackiness and the ad breaks. We actually have a lot of conversation going on when we watch (and a lot of saying "shhhhhhh" sometimes) and it's an opportunity to help the younger viewers understand media.  It's great when you hear a kid say, "Mum, that's not real is it? He would have been paid to say that was good."  Yes, darling, now you're getting the hang of it.

So here's to watching TV together.  Turns out it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  Things could be worse.

Get ready for the happy tears!

Ahhhhh, I love this kind of stuff.

Reflections on working life

So this is my first year back working full-time in 11 years. And it’s a big one – every class I’m teaching is new content and every non-teaching role I’m doing is new. Ha!  I have some kind of in-built magnet for ridiculousness.

But we are getting towards the end of the year now and patterns have been established and bedded in.  So what’s it like to go back to work? How’s it going?

It’s been really, really good. Yes, there have been some mad crazy mornings where kids suddenly discover they have no school shirt at the last minute, but on the whole we’ve eaten food and had clean clothes and generally been where we need to be when we need to be there.

Work is rewarding. I’ve always loved teaching and so the whole going to work caper is generally enjoyable. I want to be there. I like the people and the buzz and the kids. I like having my brain stretched (more so after the stretching than during the process).

The kids don’t seem to be too phased. I think because we all go to the same place at the same time and come home together it is pretty much business as usual for them. And we have most of the same days off so there’s only a little bit of juggling with curriculum days and so on.  And as we are at the same location, dealing with late notes, forgotten lunches or discussions with band teachers is easier – I can always pop a note in someone’s pigeon hole later in the day if I didn’t get it done before we left the house.  I know what is going on in Year Whatever so I’m not often blind-sided by finding out there’s a special day coming up that requires me to send 30 milk bottle tops and a cereal box or little Fred won’t get to be involved in the end-of-unit craft spectacular (I totally made that example up but it’s not far off…).

And I decided early on that there are no prizes for martyrdom this year.  I use the dryer lots, I buy more prep-paid stuff for lunchboxes than I used to and we have a cleaner once a fortnight. I am not doing this while still churning my own butter each morning and ironing all our pillowcases – I make choices.  And some stuff has not gotten done that probably should have (a post for another day).

I think one of the things that has become clearer for me as the year's gone on is that my circumstances in terms of life/family/work are unique.  Whether or not a mum can go back to work full-time or part-time when they have X number of children who are X years old is a question that knows of no one answer.  There are many answers as there are mothers and families and circumstances.  And even "identical" circumstances are not really identical because we all have different capacities for coping. That which would induce a meltdown in me might be fine and dandy for someone else.

Before I went back to work, I often wondered how working mums "did it".  My days were already full and I was baffled as to how other mums squeezed more in without the whole house of cards falling down.  The answer is that they don't.  They don't in the sense that my evaluation of what they might or might not be doing is totally.... imaginary.  And whether people are coping or not has to do with multiple dimensions within their circumstances (do they have family near by? does their spouse have flexi-time? do they have access to afterschool care? are their working hours predictable and negotiable? are their extra family issues or health concerns? do they love their job or are they forced into it by circumstances? how many kids? how old? what are their personalities? etc, etc) and it simply cannot be answered by asking, "How many hours of paid work per week do you do?"

For me, this is working well now.  It helped that I think my job is both God's gracious provision for me at this time and a wonderful opportunity for me to serve God in what I do.  Loving it!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Under our care

Rosie Batty points out that care for vulnerable women at risk of violence should extend not just to our free citizens but to those forcibly under our care.  Indeed.

Manus Island regional processing facility (8155612709)

By DIAC images [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons