Saturday, February 27, 2010

Social Justice Challenge - Water

The topic for February in the Social Justice Challenge is Water.

Access to fresh drinking water is a huge issue in third world countries, but even rich, developed countries suffer from inadequate water supplies due to climate change.

The book that I decided to read for this month is Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water by Maude Barlow.

I borrowed this from my local public library. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get through it. It's too heavy going for me.

I did read through the first chapter, "Where has all the water gone?", in which I learnt a lot.

We all learn about the water cycle in school, and I guess we get the impression that because nature recycles water so effectively, it is impossible for us to run out of water. However, we're not factoring in the human potential for waste, pollution, and greed.

I don't think I can adequately explain the issues to you here; I just don't understand them well enough. If you are interested in water sustainability, and can settle in for an intellectually demanding read, I highly recommend this book.

Hopefully I'll do better with March's theme: Domestic Violence and Child Abuse.  


I thought you might like to see some pics of my surviving pet dog, Zac. He's old, and deaf, and cranky, so he doesn't pose for photos very well. No, scratch that, he's not really cranky, he's just lonely because he misses his brother.

Anyway, we're giving him more attention and more free roaming space to try to alleviate the boredom and loneliness. Here are a couple of pics.

Having a little nap on the cool sand.

I'm trying to get his attention so I can take his picture! You can see the bottom of my skirt in the picture. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Autumn's Coming, and that means Uni.

Autumn, and first semester, officially begin on March 1st, only a few short days away.

I am celebrating the start of the season a little bit early by beginning to use my new handbag. I received it as a Christmas present, but set it aside to start using in the cooler months.
What's that pinned on it? Why it's the handmade brooch that Maria K. (A mind lively and at ease) sent me!

I think that it matches perfectly, and gets me in the mood for Autumn!

I'm also posting here the first draft of the first part of my first assessment for EER500. Lucky you! You get to read it and critique it for me! It's a short summary of an education department report. If you're Australian, you would have heard of the Digital Education Revolution, synonymous in many people's minds with the government pledge to provide all high school students with their very own laptop. In fact, there's a bit more to it than that, and the strategic plan outlines the government's plan to ensure a technology-rich enviroment in all schools.


Success through partnership: Achieving a national vision for ICT in schools. Strategic Plan to guide the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution initiative and related initiatives. 5 August 2008. Retrieved from

This strategic plan is the document that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed will direct the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution (DER). All policy and program decisions related to information and communication technology (ICT) in schooling will be directed by this plan.

Currently, the availability and use of ICT is highly variable from state to state and school to school. Many students have limited access to computers and online information due to computers being located in labs rather than classrooms, and broadband connections being inadequate. Access to and quality of digital learning resources is also highly variable.

The DER provides a vision for students to achieve high outcomes in a technology enriched environment. The aspirational goals of this vision are that:

• Students have unlimited access to information.

• Teaching and learning is student centric, innovative and stimulating, while being rigorous and addressing curriculum standards. Contemporary learning resources and activities meet students’ individual needs.

• Courses, resources and communication between teachers, students and parents are accessible without limits.

• Web 2.0 is used for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

• School leaders plan for ongoing improvement.

The DER commits to:

• Supporting infrastructure by providing devices (e.g. laptops), high speed affordable networks, technical support and “learning portals”.

• Providing digital learning resources and software appropriate to national curricula, including tools for safe online collaboration (web 2.0 tools) and a model for content supply, including copyright issues.

• Improving teacher capability by promoting models of teaching and learning that incorporate digital resources, applying ICT standards to pre-service training and professional development, and transferring effective practice between different agencies.

• Supporting leadership by providing training for school leaders in the development of system and school level planning for implementation of ICT.

The first guiding principle of the DER is coordination, which requires a commitment across governments and sectors to collaboration, communication and consultation; leading to coherence. The other guiding principles of the DER are sustainability and flexibility.

The strategic plan includes all the school’s systems for the use of ICT, including:

• Selection, creation, storage, retrieval and use of digital teaching and learning resources.

• Development of ICT infrastructure to meet all needs of the school, including use of ICT to support and improve its business processes, and to facilitate improved communication with the wider school community.

• Use of ICT to assess student learning, including ICT capability, communicate the data, and manage student information.

• Planning for and implementation of professional learning in regard to the implementation of ICT.

• Capacity to use ICT to extend and differentiate student learning opportunities.

If you are familiar with the report, I'd love to hear if you think I've captured the essence of it.
If you are not Australian, I'd love to hear your take on how ICT is incorporated into schools in your part of the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Borrowed from my local public library.

**** "Poignant"

From the inside cover: "On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's syndrome. Rationalising it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into anoter city to raise the child herself. So begins..."

To me, this is just the kind of thing I want when I choose a novel. First and foremost, it is a story; not barrelling along at the pace of a page-turning thriller, but inexorably moving forward, revealing at each juncture more about each character and their world. The story is at times heartbreaking, as we observe David and Norah Henry's marriage slowly disintegrate as they struggle along, raising their son Paul. It provides the perfect example how, seemingly suddenly, you can wake up one morning and wonder how on earth you came to be at the point in your life that you are, without realising all the little decisions that you made each day that got you there.

It is also inspiring, as you see Caroline find strength and determination that she never knew she had, as she works to open every door possible to her daughter, Phoebe, despite being a single mother in a strange town, bearing the worry that at any time her world could come crashing down.

Having been born in 1971, I found it interesting to watch the changing social background as the twins (a little older than me, but of the same generation) grew up. The expectation that children with Down's syndrome were better off in an institution, and certainly didn't participate in school or other activities with "normal" children, is so very far from our current ideas. Also, Norah's experience as a wealthy doctor's wife, and the expectations associated with that role, are very far from anything I've experienced.

All in all, a satisfying read, with tears and laughs and plenty of drama.
Yay! A package arrived for me today from Maria K. of A mind lively and at ease.
In the package:
Paris Diaries: Tips, impressions and dispelling common myths about the City of Lights and its inhabitants by Maria K.
The Ring of Nine: A first-person account of the Leningrad Blockade by Vasily Petrovich Kuznetsov.
A handmade brooch.

Thankyou Maria, the gifts are very much appreciated. I'll get reading straight away!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Table Topics Tuesdays - Talking Trash

what possession of your spouse's/significant other's would you most like to throw away?

My husband is the most wonderful husband and father in the world, but my response to this question would have to be Do I have to choose just one thing?

Perhaps a little photographic evidence would serve me well here.
Above, you find pictures of the inside of my garage from two different angles. After my husband has undertaken a serious cleanup! Yes, that's right folks, my husband is a hoarder! He has all sorts of bits and pieces that "might come in handy". He is tidying up in preparation for a garage sale that he's been talking about since the beginning of the year. The other day he asked me what a pile of clothes was doing in our bedroom. I said, "Where would you like them? They're for your mythical garage sale." "Mythical, you say?" he answered me. But as yet it has remained mythical.
Below find some photos of the garage storage solutions which appear not to be working.

A few years ago, there was a TV show called "Your life on the lawn". Professional "declutterers" visited the house of lucky participants and emptied all the contents of their house, stacking it all on the front lawn. They then only replaced "keepers" in the house, and got rid of the rest. We so need someone to come and do that at our place!

Now I must reiterate that my husband is the most wonderful man in the world! 

If you'd like to play along and answer this week's "Table Topic", head along to Shannon's blog Welcome to the Nuthouse! 

I Think I have an Addiction!

Caramel latte and banana bread at my local cafe.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm always visiting the blogs that I follow, to see what they're up to lately. Sometimes I laugh out loud, sometimes I learn something, sometimes I find out about a book I'd love to read.

I'm particularly interested in library-related blogs, being a librarianship student at present. The video above was found at Gina's K.I.S.S. Blog Space.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Internet Back Up and Banana Cake

Yay for BigPond! My internet is back up and going strong, but my trip to McDonalds has had the effect of giving me a taste for banana cake! I had a couple of very ripe bananas, so I pulled out my copy of Best Recipes from The Weekly circa 1984 and found this recipe.

Banana Walnut Cake
125g butter
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe, small bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Mash bananas finely with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup mashed banana). Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas and vanilla, beat on low speed until well combined. Stir in walnuts, then sifted flours and soda in two lots; mix well. Spread mixture into well-greased 20cm ring tin, bake in moderate oven 40 minutes or until cooked when tested. Stand for a few minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool.

I didn't have any walnuts, so I just left them out. I also didn't have a ring tin, so I just used a loaf tin.

My kids like icing, (who doesn't?), so when the cake was cool I added chocolate icing.

Time for a slice :)

It seems to have been a hit; there's only enough left for a couple more slices.

As for uni, no luck yet on a reply from my subject coordinator or any movement on the forum or subject outline fronts...

EDIT: I received a lovely email from the EER500 coordinator, indicating that my initial thoughts are on track. Hooray!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maccas comes to the rescue!

My internet connection is down at home. We are upgrading to ADSL2, which has just become available in our area, and apparently there is a three to four day turn-around period when upgrading. Which of course our internet provider didn't mention to us until we rang them to find out why our internet connection had been unavailable for several hours!

But never fear, dear readers. My local McDonalds has a McCafe and free WiFi connection, so I've set up my "office" and settled in!
Mmmmm... caramel latte and banana bread a la Maccas!

So, I'm sure you're dying to know what's been happening in my world lately.

Alana had her first dose of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination at school yesterday. This fabulous Australian innovation protects girls from infection with this virus which is implicated in almost all cases of cervical cancer. Of course, anything that involves almost 100 eleven-to-thirteen-year-old girls lining up to have injections cannot be without drama! Two of Alana's friends were unfortunate enough to faint after receiving their injections, one of them falling off the chair and onto the floor. Poor things! They have been sternly told by the nurse to make sure they have their needles lying down next time (gotta love the compassion of the nurses!). Alana even overheard one nurse say to another, "We should just make all the red-heads lie down, it's always the redheads that faint." Nice.

In more disturbing news, two of the boys in Josh's class have been suspended from school for fighting. I was shocked to hear this, and a little worried considering that Josh has been friendly with both these boys in the past. I gently suggested to him that though I didn't want to tell him who he could and couldn't be friends with, I didn't think it was really a good idea to hang out with boys that would cause physical harm to another (a third boy was hurt in the scuffle but was not to blame). Every day new stories of school bullying come to light. There is verbal bullying, physical bullying and cyber bullying to worry about. In my experience, the social world of school is something that each child must navigate for his or herself, with support from teachers and parents if there are any problems. I know that when Alana was this age, her friendship groups underwent a lot of upheaval, with sometimes almost daily changes in who was friends with who. For boys, full of testosterone and perhaps less able to talk about how they feel, it's easy for them to "get physical". It's a worry for me, because Josh is a sensitive soul who can get upset easily.


As for me, I've been trying to get a bit ahead on my uni work before the semester officially begins on March 1.

I've been focussing my attention on EER500 - Introduction to Education Research. Unfortunately, I've been hampered by the fact that the subject forum is not yet available. The subject forum is how we students communicate with one another and with our subject coordinator. It's a great tool for asking questions, discussing issues, or simply "thinking out loud". I'm having trouble moving forward, because without the subject forum I feel very isolated and unsure whether or not I'm on the right track. I have emailed my subject coordinator directly with a couple of questions, but I haven't heard back from her yet.

My other subject, ETL507 - Professional Experience/Professional Portfolio,  has a list of readings and questions to consider (to be discussed on the as-yet-unavailable subject forum), but as yet no study guide to indicate what the assessment schedule or requirements of the subject are. So while I can get reading, and start to formulate some thoughts, that's about all I can do so far.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Table Topics Tuesdays

what was the most fun you had at a party?

Play along with us! Hosted by Shannon at Welcome to the Nuthouse!

Pondering today's topic has made me come to a very sad realisation - I am not a party person! Why do I feel that it's somehow sad that I don't have lots of happy memories and funny anecdotes from parties? So what if I'd rather have coffee with a friend, or see a movie, or "do lunch", than go to a party? I don't know why, but I feel like it somehow defines me as "not fun". Oh well.

In the spirit of having fun at the party, I offer the following:

Happiest I've ever been at a party My wedding day. It was not an effort at all to keep smiling for all the photos! I felt beautiful, and loved, and enjoyed everything about it.

Most exhausting party ever Joshua's 8th birthday. I burned lavendar and orange essential oils to try and promote an atmosphere of calm, to no avail. Luckily the parents came and retrieved their children before I resorted to murder!

Most rewarding party ever In 2007 I had a pink themed birthday party to raise money for Breast Cancer charities (I'm a breast cancer survivor). The food was pink, the decorations were pink, the guests wore pink and the prizes were pink. Rather than presents, I asked guests to bring along a donation, and was able to send several hundred dollars to the McGrath Foundation, which supports breast care nurses.

What about you? Are you a "party person"?

I'm a Winner!


I've received an email from Maria at A mind lively and at ease to let me know that I'm the winner of her book giveaway! I'm going to receive both The Ring of Nine and Paris Diaries. Lucky me!

I'll know when the Australia Post delivery van pulls up in front of my house that I'm in for a treat. I can't wait!

I'll be sure to let you know when the package arrives.

For now, thanks so much Maria! And by the way, I loooooove Maria's blog. Be sure to treat yourself by visiting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

My lovely hubby let me sleep in this morning. Bliss! He also cooked pancakes and brought me breakfast in bed. Heaven! And he took a drive up to the shops to get the Sunday papers so I'd have them to read. What a man!

Here is my Valentine's gift to myself.

Happy Valentine's To Me

I love myself.
My generosity of spirit, and ability to see the other side
of the story.
My insatiable curiosity and
love of learning.
My fierce love for my family,
translated into deeds of kindness and
words of encouragement.
My openness and optimism.
My ready smile.

I look into the mirror and smile.
I'm grateful for my eyes and ears and nose,
through which I see and hear and smell the beauty of the world.
I love my mouth,
so useful for eating and speaking and kissing and singing!
I'm glad of my arms and hands
for touching and hugging and helping.
My feet take me wherever I wish to go.

There is no need to point out my faults to me.
I know they're there.
I see the lines on my face.
I know the mistakes that I've made.
Despite these,
I move forward with strength and purpose,
navigating the challenges of the path before me.
I love me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Borrowed from my local public library.

**** "Intriguing"

I borrowed this book because I had heard of it. "That's supposed to be good", I thought to myself. I had a vague idea that it was something about maths, pi being 3.1415... I really had no idea what it was about.

Life of Pi won the Man Booker Prize 2002, that's why it had quite a bit of "buzz'. The Man Booker Prize "promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world's most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and even publishers". You can find out more about it here.

So, thinking as I did that Life of Pi was a book about mathematics, imagine my surprise when I read the blurb on the back of the book:

"After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years..."

Not what I expected!

The book begins with an author's note, describing how a man in the Indian Coffee House in Pondicherry, India, told him the story, and encouraged him to speak to the main character, Pi Patel, in person. "I knew him very, very well. He's a grown man now. You must ask him all the questions you want." Throughout the story, the author inserts vignettes of his experiences talking with Pi. "He's an excellent cook. His overheated house is always smelling something delicious." "I am sitting in a downtown cafe, after, thinking. I have just spent most of an afternoon with him. Our encounters always leave me weary of the glum contentment that characterizes my life." "He shows me family memorabilia...There is a photo taken at the zoo...'That's Richard Parker,' he says."

With this device, the reader becomes convinced that what follows is a true story, faithfully rendered by Martel after much research. Well, that's what happened to me, anyway! And yet, I knew the book was labelled "fiction", so I knew it couldn't be true. And as the story became more and more fantastic, I struggled to let go of the idea that it was a true story. Impossible! And yet somehow, I wanted to believe.

I highly recommend this book as an intriguing vehicle for pondering the big questions of life. And the ending is quite something! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Table Topics Tuesday - I do it on Wednesday!

Shannon at Welcome to the Nuthouse has just started her very own weekly meme. Yay! Every Tuesday she'll host Table Topics Tuesday, in which she'll announce a topic or question for everyone that plays along to discuss. Head to this post for today's topic:

which moment from your life

would you choose to relive if you could?

Have you ever had a moment in your life you wish you could relive? A happy memory you'd like to repeat... or a bad choice you wish you could go back and change...

So here's my response: regrets, I've had a few...

I think we all know as we get older, that we regret the things we didn't do more than the things that we did. You know what I mean; all the opportunities that we didn't take because we were too afraid, all the things we didn't try because we didn't know if we'd be able to do it, all the questions that we didn't ask because we were too embarrassed.  

I've been there. Looking back, though my childhood and teenage years were generally great, I really wish I'd taken more chances, been more daring, and embraced more challenges. I know you can't put an old head on a young body, but I'd love to go back in time and tell my younger self a few home truths.

It doesn't really matter what other people think of you, as long as you're true to yourself. And very rarely are they thinking about you anyway!

You are good at lots of things, so be confident, follow your passions, and aim for the sky.

It's OK if you don't really know where you're going or what you're doing. You can change your plans whenever you want to, and there are lots and lots of options.

Don't measure yourself by anyone else's standards or expectations.

Love yourself, care for yourself, and listen to yourself to see what you need.

You always have choices, and it's OK to say no.

Smile, think positive, act positive, be positive.

I'm sure there's a lot more wisdom I could impart to my younger self, but I wonder whether she'd listen to me?!?

So, are you going to play along?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogs to Cheer You Up

I'm feeling a bit down today, one of my two 15-year-old pet dogs died overnight. My hubby and I got the two of them not long after we got married, just before we bought and moved into this house. So we've never lived in this house without them both, and the kids have grown up with them.

Both mini fox terriers, we named the black and white one Billy and the tan and white one Zac. It is Billy that we lost last night.

Knowing that the dogs were getting old, we've been preparing the kids for the fact that we wouldn't have them forever. But it was still very hard to tell Josh this morning that Billy had died in his sleep. Josh went outside and gave him a little pat and said goodbye. We then wrapped Billy in a towel, and buried him under a tree in the backyard. Unfortunately, Alana had already left for the school bus when we found out, so I still have to break the news to her this afternoon when she gets home.

So, I'd like to share with you some of the blogs that I follow that are good for a laugh or particularly uplifting. I encourage you to visit them, whether or not you need a lift today.

A mind lively and at ease is really something. It's a very thought provoking blog that covers every issue under the sun, from health care reform to how to disguise your heavy upper arms! Maria is an extremely intelligent woman who always has something interesting to say.

Simply Stacie has awesome product giveaways. I haven't won anything yet, but I absolutely love to read her product reviews and the anecdotes she shares about her family.

Welcome to the Nuthouse always gets me giggling. I love hearing about what Shannon and her family are up to.

Beautiful You is a blog dedicatied to helping women to appreciate and feel good about themselves. Julie's posts always make me feel better, and ready to take on life and all its challenges.

There are lots of other blogs that I visit on a regular basis. Why don't you check out the "Blogs I Follow" in my sidebar.

Thanks to all my blogging buddies, who always support and encourage one another.  

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Wonderful World of High School

Alana now has seven days of high school under her belt; four of them at school and three on camp. She seems to be taking to it like a duck to water. Every afternoon when she gets home she is full of amusing anecdotes about her classes, her friends, the bus ride etc. She has a nice group of friends that she eats lunch with; and other kids that she sits next to in her classes. She's coping fine with her timetable, and is getting stuck into her homework (though she isn't too thrilled with the amount of maths homework that she's getting!).

The highlight so far has been the three day camp at Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Camp. The Year 10 Peer Support Leaders went with them, which Alana really enjoyed. She liked getting to know some of the older kids, and had a great time participating in all the activities. Her favourite was the raft building activity. Each group was given an assortment of wooden planks, inner tubes, barrels and ropes, and was given the challenge to build the best raft possible. Then two of the group members had to row out to a buoy and back on the bay. Points were given for raft design, staying afloat and staying on board. Alana's group made "the best raft we've ever seen in all our years at this camp", and she was one of the two that rowed the raft, which stayed afloat all the way without losing either of the sailors overboard!

The social side of starting at a new school is a big deal. Alana was the only student from her primary school to go to her high school. Before starting, she knew three other girls to speak to, and a handful of other kids by name and by sight. She also knew a handful of older students through various after-school activities, though only by sight and by name, not really to talk to. So it really was a big deal for her to start with a Year 7 cohort of 180 kids in a school of 1080 students. I'm pleased to say she took it all in stride and is making friends left, right and centre. Which brings me to our next issue...Facebook.

Up until now, we've been able to tell Alana that she's too young for Facebook and she's accepted that ruling, despite the fact that quite a few of her friends from school had an account. But now we've conceded defeat. Her youth group uses Facebook to communicate with all the members; Alana was constantly out of the loop. Her new friends from high school come from all over, and lots of them use Facebook to keep in touch when not at school. In fact, Alana has so many friends with Facebook accounts that there are photos of her all over it; from last year's Year 6 Farewell, youth group activities, birthday parties and so on.

And so we are carefully navigating the new territory called "when your eleven year old daughter starts a facebook account". Firstly, she had to fake her date of birth so that she could open an account. How lovely to teach your child that it's sometimes ok to lie about your age. Then we had to discuss privacy issues. Luckily, my friend Ruth at Skerricks has been talking about just these issues lately. What would I do without wise friends? If you're interested, check out this post about Safer Internet Day 2010, or this one about Facebook privacy settings. Armed with this knowledge, we have made sure that Alana knows only to add friends that she personally knows outside Facebook. We've also ensured that her settings are such that only friends (not everyone) can view what she posts and information about her. And we've made sure that photo tags (where she is identified by name on photos) can be seen by friends only. 

So, any advice friends? What will be my next adventure on this road as Alana heads into teenagehood? 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

EER500 Up and Running

I study via distance education, which means that all my study materials and all my communication with teaching staff and other students is online. This semester, one of my subjects is EER500 "Introducation to Educational Research"; and though the semester doesn't begin until March 1st, the subject coordinator already has things up and running on the website. Bless you Beverley Moriarty!

I've been able to read through the subject outline, which goes into great detail about the study schedule for the subject, as well as the requirements for the assessment items. I've even been able to make a start! Hooray for enthusiastic subject coordinators that prepare early! The earlier I make a start, the less stressful the deadlines will be.

The main thrust of the subject is to prepare us to undertake our own educational research, from the point of view of both "how to" design a research question, and bigger research issues such as ethical issues and paradigms of research. It sounds fascinating to me, and I'm very eager to get started.

Our beginning point is to find a recent media release, government report, or similar, relating to an area of interest for us. Students studying this subject have many different areas of specialisation. Mine is librarianship, so I'll be looking for a report that relates to libraries in schools. I've got the idea that I'd like to focus on the implications of the Federal Government's Digital Education Revolution for school libraries and the teacher librarian's role. Wish me luck!  

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Post In Which I Update You On What Has Been Happening Since School Went Back went back on Thursday. Here are my little darlings, all ready for their first day, standing in front of the beautiful garden that Chris planted at Christmas times.
Josh is in Year 4 this year, but Alana has started high school, so this was her first day wearing her new uniform. Things has been fairly uneventful for Josh so far, the school hasn't put the kids into their new classes yet so he has been in "holding pattern" i.e. still in last year's class. (Back in my day we were in our new classes on the very first day - it was what we looked forward to about going back to school! These days apparently it's much harder for the schools to be sure of exactly how many students they are going to have in each year, so they use the first few days to fine tune the classes.)

For Alana, however, the year has begun with a bang. From the first day they were straight into classes, doing work and receiving homework. From the second day they were expected to find their own way to their different classrooms. Over the weekend we made sure that all her books were covered and labelled so that she wouldn't receive a lunchtime detention. Today they're having school photos so that they can finalise production of student ID cards. Students must carry these cards every day and use them to "swipe on" when they arrive at school (taking the roll being "so last century"!). On Wednesday all her year leave for a three day camp to get to know each other while participating in water sports, rock climbing, archery and the like.

As well as school, after school activities have now begun. Last week the kids had gymnastics and baseball, and Alana is also back at piano lessons. (She has her first Music Performance in class on Friday week. Students that don't play an instrument must recite a poem from memory instead!) This week ballet starts up too, as well as my Maths and Music students. Afternoons are now a minutely organised routine of comings and goings at my place. Dinner happens at a different time each night, to fit in with the movements of various family members. Chris relies on me to simply tell him where he has to be and at what time! (How, I wonder, do single Mums do it? Or families in which the parents work long hours and aren't at home in the afternoon?)

Uni has not started back yet, but I have received my text book. I bought it from The Book Depository, of which I can't speak highly enough. They ship books for free worldwide, and their prices are great. I saved so much money getting it from them rather than via the uni sanctioned coop bookshop. It was even cheaper than a lot of students were selling their copies second hand. Here it is in all its glory!

Yes, I'm trying to convey that it's a very thick book!

I haven't done much more than skim through the introduction and the chapter synopses so far, and suffice to say, there's a lot of it! Will really try to read some today...

Lastly, an update on my progress on the Buck-a-Book Challenge. Since my last post, I've read Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks (review here) and I'd Tell I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter. I'd bought it for Alana, but it was just sitting around, and I had nothing to read (not counting uni text!), so I read it! Alana's reading it now that I have given her a favourable review!

So, that makes $9 that I have not put aside yet - but I fully intend to!

What have you been up to?