Sunday, February 24, 2008


We are all back into the routine of school, work, ballet, piano, gym, running, etc.

Zoe has begun learning the flute and is loving it. She has progressed well enough to be invited to join the primary school's band. She has been working very hard on learning "In the Jungle" and is hoping to learn the Australian national anthem so she can play during assembly.

She has also been invited to join as intensive, advanced ballet class. There are only 7 girls in the group and they are all older than Zoe, and in the level above her. The teacher is from Berlin. It means an extra session of ballet each week (that takes the total to 4!) but she seems to be managing it all quite well.

On top of all this, she has been reading the first Harry Potter novel, and has really got the reading bug. Today, she has gone with my dad to help my uncle at the Flemington Farmers Market. She will be helping them sell their peaches and nectarines - and delicious fruit it is!

And it is Zoe who has been productive this week. She made herself a fabric pencil case (with a bit of help with the zip). It's got a great Chinese script design inside and out - appropriate for school as they are currently learning about China.

Greg has been marking work, resolving social problems, conducting information sessions and entereing VCE data. He is very busy every day but still manages to come home and cook dinner on ballet nights.

I am enjoying my Yr 12 class. The students are all working well and a nice atmosphere has developed in the classroom. The same with my Yr 8 and Yr 9 classes. The Year 7 girls have been on camp - it will beinteresting to see what they are like when they return!

I have just had the volume increased on the "Tiffany earrings" and it is taking a bit of time to get used to it. It's quite exhausting for my poor brain to be subjected to so much more noise!

I have finished Kate Atkinson's "Human Croquet". It took me a while to get into the flow of the story and to appreciate it's humour and direction. Although not my favourite amongst her novels, it did raise some interesting questions for the reader, and left me reflecting on the themes and construction long after finishing. That is one indicator of a worthwhile read.

I also attended a workshop on how to pick up the stitches to knit a collar. And now, Zoe's jacket is nearly finished! More pics when complete.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not just handsome and smart...

Greg has been the productive one this week, and Zoe and I know we are very lucky.

Yesterday, he did the shopping and the cleaning, mowed the lawn before a tiny shower of rain, then whipped up a lasagne and a curry for mid-week dinners! The Renaissance Man.

He has had a very busy week at work, sorting our timetabling problems, organising assemblies, working on curriculum and teaching his classes. It all seems to be going quite well. Right now, he's re-reading "The Great Gatsby" on our little terrrace in the sunshine.

I had a good week at work too. My Yr 12 class is settling into the work - and they all seem to be really lovely. The boys are hard-working and fun. I have a a school vice-captain, a house captain and a house vice-captain. They can't be too bad, can they? My other classes are delightful, although the Yr 7s are very confident after just one week at the school!

I finished Philip Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass" and all I've made is a little tie belt for Zoe:
Zoe has settled into Grade 5 very well. She is enjoying her teacher and being with most of her friends. She also started ballet again this week. Late last year, a German ballet teacher came to the school and selected a group of seven girls to take advanced classes with her this year. Zoe was selected and, it turns out, she is the only one from her level. The other girls are all in the level above and at least two years older than her. We are very proud of her. She will have two classes each week with this teacher, and will have to attend on four days. After the first two classes, Zoe said that it will be challenging but she loves it.
We all watched "Who Do You Think You Are" on SBS last Sunday night. This episode featured Catherine Freeman. Greg and I agreed that it was amongst the best television we have ever seen. And thank goodness our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is making an apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generations this week. Hearing of each of the humiliating and degrading events that shaped the lives of Catherine Freeman's family as indigenous Australians made me feel ashamed to be white. And this is just one person's family history - she carries it with her: knowing that her mother had to ask for permission to visit her family for Christmas and that permission was refused; knowing that her grandfather was a champion rugby player who was not given permission to travel to England as part of the Australian team; knowing that her grea-grandfather was a lighthorseman in World War 1 but his family never received his pay because the "Protector of Aborigines" thought that aboriginal people couldn't be trusted with money; knowing that her great-great grandfather had been a half-caste who worked hard to feed and clothe his family and was a well respected member of the community but, when he refused to sign a work agreement, as he was legally entitled to do, the local police had him and his entire family incarcerated on Palm Island, allegedly for drunkeness. The family were forced to remain on Palm Island for three generations where they were treated as prisoners and slaves. Just for this one woman's family history, we should say sorry. And I know the apology is not about the treatment of other than the Stolen Generations, but it is a start in the recognition of our dreadful treatment of the indigenous Australians. Thanks to SBS for producing such as amazing piece of television, and thank you to the wonderful Catherine Freeman for her resilience and generosity.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Back to School

It's back to school for the three of us this past week. Greg and I started on Tuesday with staff days, and Zoe began school (Grade 5!) on Thursday. Greg's students started on that day, too but mine didn't begin until Friday.

After three days of preparation, it was lovely to have the girls return with their lovely, excited, pleased-to-see-you smiles. I was a bit anxious about my Yr 12 class but the Year 11 girls (from last year's Accelerated Maths class) all came in with big smiles and ready to begin, so I feel rather more relaxed about it now. I have three boys from the neighbouring boys' school in that class, too, but they did not attend on Friday so I have yet to meet them. Also, three Yr 12 girls complete the class.

Also, very nervous about telling the girls about my new "accessories", the hearing aids. I'm calling them the Tiffany earrings. They certainly cost more than Tiffany earrings! In some respects they are wonderful and really help me to hear more, but I am still struggling with background noise and speech. I have to practise some more in the classroom.

No time to complete any projects, but I did finish Linda Olsson's delightful "Let me sing you gentle songs", also titled "Veronika and Astrid". This is a lovely, lovely book about the friendship that develops between two women each initially living in solitude in a Swedish village. It is a most unlikely friendship that becomes hugely significant to them both. Beautiful, poignant, profound. It makes you realise the importance of honesty with oneself and the value of gentle, honest friendship.