Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's all about Zoe

During the last two months, the focus has been on Zoe as her final year at primary school has drawn to a close. She has had a lot of fun there, participating in lots of sports and musical activities. The final production was Movin' and Groovin' in which all of the Grade 6 students participated. It was an impressive display.

On Monday, December 14, the graduation ceremony took place. This involved a dinner of pizza for the students at the school, a presentation at the local church and then a disco. The students all got really dressed up and looked very grown-up!
Zoe had a great year with a wonderful teacher, Jacki. She is well prepared for high school, now.

On the last day of school, the Grade 6 students performed a farewell song and were presented with badges by their Prep Buddies.

Zoe's Prep Buddy, India, was delightful, and they had become good friends.

After school finished, all of the Grade 6 student ran to the local park for a shaving cream fight! This is Zoe's friend, Mia.

That evening, she was transformed into a ballerina.

And we got to see her dancing en pointe for the first time. She looked like a fairy!

On Sunday, December 20, the whole family met at a winery near Shepparton for an early Christmas lunch. It was a perfect summer day and we all had a great time. This is Zoe with her cousin Sophie.

Zoe, Sophie, Fraser, Bailey and Wil with Mum and Dad.

So what have Greg and I been doing? Finishing the school year with all that entails (exams, reports, end of year programs, speech nights, farewells, etc).
But mostly, it's been about Zoe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mission Accomplished and a Celebration!

So many things to tick off on the list of "things to do":
Firstly, we had the most wonderful celebration of Mum and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary. On September 26, after watching the Grand Final (Geelong beat St Kilda - both worthy opponents), we all went out for dinner to Glencoe. It was a delightful evening of good cheer and good conversation. Everyone of Mum and Dad's children, children-in-law and grandchildren attended, with the exception of Fraser and Sophie. And the celebration was added to by the announcement of Peter and Amanda's pregnancy. That will make it 8 grandchildren in all.
Mum and Dad had a lovely evening, and the next day hosted many friends and relatives at John and Reg's house. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with so many old friends; Rob made an excellent speech and there were photos and videos of the wedding to watch. Mum and Dad have made loyal friends throughout their lives - well deserved because they are both such generous, fair-minded, kind-hearted and honest people. John, Rob, Peter and I are very proud to have them as our parents. And we appreciate the example of their marriage.

We've all changed a bit since that photo!

Mission accomplished for Greg - today was the Yr 12 VCE English exam. For the last few weeks particularly, Greg has been working all day and most of the night trying to keep up with marking his students' essays. With a large class, and very diligent students, he has been almost overwhelmed with work! The boys are really terrific - and really appreciate Greg's efforts. Now, he can concentrate on his remaining classes - two Yr 11s and one Yr 10. He has four weeks of the school year to go.
In early September, he went on the Years 9 and 10 camp to Fraser Island. Again, he had a great time - both the staff attending and the boys were good fun, and all went smoothly. Afterwards, Zoe and I met him in Noosa.

It's a beautiful place, and the weather was fabulous. The only problem was that the place was full of my Yr 9 students! Everywhere we went, the girls were there! Still, we had a fantastic time everyday at the beach, in the pool or choosing which restaurant to have dinner at each night.
Yesterday, Zoe attended her orientation day for Yr 7. The girls don't start until the end of January, but all of the Yr 7 2010 girls visited the school yesterday for some games and activities, a sausage sizzle and the opportunity to make some new friends. It was a huge success, except that Zoe was rather unwell, and later had a temperature of 39 degrees! Considering she was so unwell, she coped with the whole day admirably! She is so excited about moving on to high school.
She has also just taken up learning the oboe. Her friends are all calling it the "zoboe" of course! Already, she is quite good at it and hopes to join one of the orchestras when she changes schools next year. Many thanks must go to her wonderful music teacher at primary school, Martin, and her fabulous piano teacher, Leonie.
Ballet is proving to be a challenge, with the ballet teacher becoming increasingly demanding and rather erratic. A change of ballet schools is probably the solution for 2010. One that doesn't require such an all-consuming commitment!

Zoe continues to love the "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" series. And now she has taken up reading magazines! More evidence that she is growing up!
I have been enjoying a wide range of books - currently, I am devouring "Wuthering Heights". I have read it before, but never with as much enjoyment as this time around - mainly due to the fantastic two-part series on the ABC. I revelled in the Stieg Larssen trilogy - loving "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest". You really can't put it down. And I adored "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - I want to go to Guernsey! I have also been reading "What's Happening to Our Girls" - a thoughtful and provoking investigation into the culture in which our girls are living. I feel like insisting on no shopping, internet or TV, and only picnics and farmers' markets as alternatives. Of course, that's not possible, but extending the range of activities that our girls participate in is important.
I have been trying to run regularly, but it seems my body is not as willing as my mind! Little niggling injuries creep in. Anyway, these next pictures are of where I love to run 2 or 3 (alright, usually only 2) times a week.
As you can see, Freckle loves the run just as much as I do! The girls from my school are often down on the river, doing rowing training, and Freckle loves the excitement she generates when they see her!
I'm so lucky to have this beautiful park so close to home (less than 2 km away). It feels like an extension of my backyard!
Some big decisions have been made about my job for 2010. I will have a reduced teaching load as I am going to take over the running of the Expanding Horizons (Camps) program. At first, I was rather surprised about this new position, but now I am really looking forward to it. It comes under my umbrella role of coordinator of leadership, and this is what I am going to focus on in my work on the program. I am only caretaker while the usual coordinator is on family leave.
I have also been enjoying working with the team of the Young UNIFEM Australia, Melbourne Committee. The Night on the Rooftop was a huge success with 200 people attending and $3500 being raised. The committee is so dynamic - I am in awe of some of these young women.
I have also just held a Student Council Conference that included two fantastic speakers - Krista and Katie from Young UNIFEM, and then small group discussions exploring issues facing school girls. My student council girls and our visitors were enthusiastic and thoughtful and have come up with some huge plans. Accomplishing them will be a challenge but they can only try, hey?
Just had to share a couple of picture of the wisteria around our front door. It makes quite an impression.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spring Fling

It was Book Week in Victoria in late August, and Zoe's school held a book character parade. Zoe went as Luna Lovegood, complete with butterbeer cork necklace. That's the cape I made for her when she was Hermoine in Pre-Prep.

At my school, we held the biggest event of the student council calendar - the UNIFEM Spring Walk. It was a lot of fun, with the theme this year being "Pink". I think it was the best Spring Walk so far - all of the RSC girls were wonderful. They used their initiative and were reliable and enthusiastic. The Yr 12 House Captains were fantastic, and almost all of Senior School got involved. These three girls, Kathryn, Amelia and Jacqui, were the DJs.

We've all been following the football - either attending matches or watching on TV. This is at the MCG. After last night's elimination final was a thriller, with Collingwood beating Adelaide by 5 points in the last minute of the game. Zoe was very lucky and went to the game with her friend Mia. Greg and I watched at home, cheering and groaning throughout the last quarter.
I managed to win the school's footy tipping competition for the season - $500!

Zoe's Grade 6 Dance Performance Night was last Thursday. It started slowly, with the other 2 Grade 6 classes' dances. They were good, but completely eclipsed by 6JH. Zoe's class had the x-factor, with all the students dancing with real style. Zoe was a standout - front and centre in everything, the other kids relying on her if they forgot. And she looked gorgeous in my old tiered skirt from the 80's and Mum's hairstyling skills. She was a star! You can see Jesse, Zoe's oldest friend, in the mullet wig on her right. He was very cool, too, along with Dougy and Sam T on her left.

And that's Mia on the left and Alexis, the school captain at the back.

Zoe joined a soccer team, halfway through the season. She went to all the training sessions but was only able to play one game. At last, a sport that fits in with ballet!
For our month in reading, Zoe continues to plough through the "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" series. She's about to finish "Dancing in my Nuddy Pants". And I am reading "Eldest" to her - not quite a classic, but it might become one over time.
I have just finished two fabulous books - "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larssen. Kristina in Sweden recommended this and it really is as good as everyone says. And this week I read a jewel of a book - "The Women in Black" by Madeleine St John. Set in 1950s Sydney, the characters are all engaging and the voices are true. Charming and witty, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ski Camp

I had a wonderful five days on ski camp last week. We take all of the Yr 9 girls to Mt Buller, staying in Mansfield. The girls rotate through cross country, downhill and snowboard over three days. Some of them have never seen snow before, while others ski frequently, so we try to put them in groups of matching ability. It's usually great fun. This year's group were terrific - almost all making a real effort to learn and to encourage each other. We had to send four girls home early, with minor injuries (pre-existing mainly) and one unwell. The rest of the group were delightful - we really are blessed with our Yr 9s. They were always cooperative, polite, considerate and cheerful. Amazing because they get very tired.

On the Thursday there was a karaoke night, and all the guests at the resort were welcome. There were three schools altogether. Of course, our girls, although the youngest group, were the first to get up and sing. A number of them are talented performers. Once they started, then everyone joined in and it was a really fun night. My colleague, Kate, and I even got up and sang - very badly!

As teachers, we spent most of the time helping the beginners, we did manage to get a few good runs in. I love skiing! Can't wait to go again this season.

I finished "When Will There Be Good News" by Kate Atkinson. She is such a wonderful writer. I love novels where the characters' stories weave around each other and connect and disconnect. Atkinson is a master of this genre. While in Mansfield, I bought Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" on the recommendation of a friend (Kristina - the long lost Swedish friend, found again!). I am looking forward to reading it but have started Geraldine Brook's "The People of the Book" as it was next in the pile (and I love her writing too - particularly "Year of Wonders"). So many books, so little time!

Just before ski camp, I held an afternoon tea - Books and Bubbly - for my colleagues. There were 6 of us who spent a very pleasant afternoon drinking champagne and talking about the books we have been reading and books we love. It was delightful. I will have to make arrangements for another one.

Also excited about being involved in Young UNIFEM here in Melbourne. We are planning a Spring Fling (just for adults) and I intend to get my student council involved in other projects. The student council already runs a Spring Walk to raise awareness of UNIFEM; it would be great if we can extend that work to include other schools.

Mostly I am excited about finding some old friends on Facebook. It's taken me a while to get on board with Facebook but already I have had such wonderful rewards!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Winter Pleasures

It's a little daunting to write this post as it has been so long since my last one and, of course, there has been a lot happening.

(Zoe on Wombat Run, Mt Buller)

Greg has been loving his new school - he's been there a year now and seems to be feeling very settled and happy. He doesn't have to take sport during winter but has the Yr 11 debating teams instead - a much better match!

(Freckle - chilling.)

Zoe has been getting on well at school too, and has recently joined a soccer team. As it is now halfway through the season, she is just a fill-in player but is loving the training and making new friends. Her very good friend, Bella, is a member of the team, as are some girls who will be at high school with her next year.

(Zoe in her soccer gear, combining both of her active hobbies!)
Most impressively, Zoe completed her Grade 4 AMEB Piano exam at the end of June, and achieved a Credit! Congratulations superstar and thanks Leonie for the wonderful teaching.
We took Mum and Dad to the Windsor for afternoon tea for Mother's Day. What a treat! As well as sandwiches and scones brought to the table, there was also a buffet of divine desserts and a chocolate fountain. Truly indulgent.

(At the Windsor)

We have all been engrossed in some wonderful books. Greg has to teach Shakespeare's Richard 3, and he loves it. The double meanings and political intrigue have really caught his attention. Zoe recently finished "Shauzia" by Deborah Ellis and "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen - loving both of them. She is now reading "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". I have finished reading "The Wouldbegoods" by E Nesbit (another in our year of reading classics) and we are currently racing through "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" ahead of seeing the film next week. It's a departure from the classics but we just had to read it! I have read "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga (an interesting novel about life and India), "Asking for the Moon" by Reginald Hill (another Dalziel and Pascoe novel - I love them), "Sea of Poppies" by Amitav Ghosh (the author of "The Glass Palace" which I loved - this one has some great characters but I haven't enjoyed it as much) and "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich (amusing but the series is getting a bit tired). I am now reading the short stories of Nam Le in "The Boat" - captivating and thought-provoking.

(Another happy hippo, made by Zoe and me for Leonie's birthday.)

I have been trying to run but have been struggling with injuries in both ankles. I have orthotics and hopefully they will keep me up and going. I completed the 10 km Run Melbourne event on June 28, and my brother John completed his first fun run with me, running in the 5 km event. As I waited for him at the finish line, I watched the winners of the 5 km race come in. To my amazement, one of my Yr 10 students was second in the women's race! I knew she was good but wasn't expecting to see her in this race. Zoe had also been training for the 5 km event but came down with an awful cough and cold in the days beforehand. We had been doing regular Sunday morning laps of the Tan - lots of fun.

(Another of the simple dresses I have been making and wearing for work, this one with the Boden cardigan I bought in England.)

As it's winter, it's time for knitting, and I have been making lots of fingerless gloves with fold-back mitten covers. Each of Zoe's friends has been given a pair for their birthdays, and I have made several for friends at my school. They are quick and fun to knit. I also made Zoe a balaclava for our trip to the snow.

We went to Mt Buller earlier this week, staying at Andre's. The snow was fantastic and the weather was really good. Had a fab time.

The football season has been exciting, with Collingwood now playing very well after having several players out injured earlier. I am, just this week, at the top of the footy tipping table - and feeling the pressure. Who to pick each week?!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Connection Woes

We have had more connection woes since we had a power shortage at home that lasted for all of about 5 minutes. A power shortage means that we then lose our connection to the internet for anything from 3 days to .... So far, it's been ten days! So I am completing this blog at work in between parent/teacher interviews. Ha! A very efficient use of time!

(The plane - a tiny one!)

We had such a delightful term break of two weeks. In the few days before Easter we flew to Canberra and stayed at our favourite hotel - the Canberra Hyatt. This is the most delightfully restful and lovely hotel, with gorgeous shaded verandahs, tennis courts, a swimming pool, buffet breakfast, lounge for coffee and pre-dinner drinks. We also love Canberra for its wonderful galleries, museums and fascinating parliament house. This time, Zoe was able to take a friend, so she invited the charming Bella to come with us. The two of them had a great time together.

(Fish and chips for lunch by Lake Burley Griffin)

(Outside Questacon with Einstein)

(Outside Questacon, demonstrating a little flexibility!)

We visited Parliament House, played tennis, visited the galleries, the library and Questacon, and had great fun bike-riding around the lake. The weather was perfect autumn days - sunny and warm. Bliss!

(Our wonderful four-wheelers)

(On the way to the pool)

(At Parliament House)

For Easter, we visited Rob, Mandy, Bailey and Wil at the beach house, and Amanda, Fraser and Sophie at their new house. We took my cousin's daughters, Kate and Emma, to see 17 Again, and Zoe had a birthday celebration with her friends to see The Pink Panther 2.


We all read: I finished "The White Tiger" and "Asking for the Moon". Greg read "The Passion" again and has begun "Ransom" by Malouf. Zoe finished another Muchamore book, Alison Lester's "The Quicksand Pony" and is almost finished Paulsen's "Hatchet". We also finished "Little Women" and "Good Wives".

In the second week of the holidays, Mum, Zoe and I travelled to Warburton to the Patchwork Teahouse, where we met Aunty Lorrie for lunch. We then spent rather a lot of money on fabrics and patterns but have enjoyed working on the projects. Zoe and I are particularly proud of "Hippy Jo"!

Zoe and I have been trying to do a bit of running, training for the 4 km Mothers' Day Classic. We have done a couple of training runs on the Tan and Zoe is now doing a great non-stop 4 km.

Apart from the internet problems, it's all been delightful!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Downpour

At last - some rain! Yesterday, we had the most wonderful day of downpours and showers. The only problem was that it was also the festival for our suburb, including the big parade in which all the local primary schools and clubs participate. The parade was due to start at 11:30 am and the rain began to fall at 10:45! As a House Captain, Zoe was one of the leaders in the parade, dressed as a scarecrow. The parade went ahead but all the children wore raincoats instead of the fantastic costumes that they had pur so much effort into. The wonderful art teacher, Bit, had been working for weeks on the design and completion of the school's presentation and it was hardly seen! Still, we all kept telling one another, we need the rain!

My Year 8 students celebrated World Maths Day by having a party with Maths-inspired food.

My state, Victoria, celebrated Labour Day last Monday so, like most of Melbourne, we went to the beach for the long weekend. Zoe's friend, Mia, came with us and the girls visited the Amazing Maze in Arthur's Seat. Lots of fun! We also caught up with friends, Liz, Baz, Bella and Charlie at the Sorrento Sailing Club.

I haven't written about any of my creative efforts lately, so thought I had better catch up now. Before going overseas, I finished the pink Rowan Kidsilk Haze jumper for Zoe and a lovely Jo Sharp garter stitch jacket for me. Both were great on our trip, although Zoe's pink jumper got more use than my jacket. It was also perfect for travelling as it was light but very warm, and went under lots of layers. I could have got by without mine but it was nice to have something different to put on occasionally.
Now I am knitting some convertible fingerless gloves for Zoe. The colour isn't very good in this picture - the wool is more green than this shows. If they work ok, then Zoe has asked me to make pairs for all of her friends as birthday presents. Luckily, they won't take long!
I made some delicious nectarine jam from my Uncle Allan's fruit. Zoe and I have been helping with the markets on most Saturdays - it's very enjoyable to be talking with customers and catch up with Allan and Judy. Mum has also been busy, now that she doesn't have so much Red Cross Fire Relief work to do - she's made fig jam, strawberry jam and plum sauce!

How did this happen? I can't seem to rotate this picture or get rid of it! Hmm.
We have been very busy reading - my friend, Leonie, lent me a wonderful book, "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. A very inspiring account of Greg Mortenson's efforts to build schools in villages in Pakistan, with a focus on educating girls. It's wonderful and I strongly recommend it. Now, I'm wondering what I can do to help.
Tonight, I will finish reading "Little Women" to Zoe, and it has been lots of fun. Since this is the year of classic books, this one has been a great addition to our series. Greg and I are also making some selections for Zoe to read, to help her prepare for Year 7 next year. The first novel was "Goodnight Mr Tom" which she had begun to read while at Chelmsford. She's finished it and now can read something of her own choice: "Divine Madness" by Robert Muchamore.
Caught up with another couple of friends last night, including Christina. We are both missing book group so we think we'll start another one. Firstly, we will have to recruit some other members!