Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Josh is a Good Citizen - Values in Education

My gorgeous boy Joshua received a "Citizen of the Month" Award today at school.
Here he is proudly showing off his certificate.
In the second photo you can see the badge he received pinned to his shirt.

Citizen of the Month is something that Josh's school does in response to the Australian government's push for values education in all schools. The nine values for Australian schooling are:
  • Care and Compassion
  • Integrity
  • Doing Your Best
  • Respect
  • Fair Go
  • Responsibility
  • Freedom
  • Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion
  • Honesty and Trustworthiness
Josh received his award for Fairness - "Pursue and protect the common good where all people are treated fairly for a just society."

If you want to find out more about Values in Australian Schooling, head here.

What value do you think schools should teach?

And, for my overseas readers, a special treat! Here is a close up picture of the spider Josh and I found outside when we were taking the photos.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TTT - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner!

what three celebrities would you invite to dinner?

I am hopeless at these sort of questions! I always second guess myself, and wonder what on earth my choices say about me, and what others will think. I'm hopeless!

Well, here goes...

1. Ellen Degeneres
Why? I feel like I know her already from watching her on TV. She just seems so nice. Funny, honest, kind, intelligent. I think she'd be a fun dinner party guest, and someone that you could get into a great conversation with.

2. Sting
Why? I used to have a crush on Sting, way back in The Police days. The first concert I ever went to was 1986 The Dream of the Blue Turtles tour. Love his music - maybe I would get him to sing for his supper! Plus I'd love to hear about tantric sex in more detail...

3. Julia Gillard
This one may be a who? rather than a why? for my non-Aussie readers.
Julia Gillard, deputy PM, seems a down-to-earth kinda gal. I think she'd be great company over a few drinks and a good meal, and I reckon she'd have plenty to add to the conversation.

So that's my three, a mixed bag if ever I saw one!

If you'd like to play along, click on the button, which will take you to Shannon's blog Welcome to the NutHouse! Table Topics Tuesdays is on every week.


Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm a Twit!

If you look on my sidebar, you'll notice that I've added a "Follow me on twitter" widget.

I'm now tweeting!

So far I'm following 10 blogging friends via the buttons on their blogs. If you tweet, let me know by following me, and I'll follow you back.

Follow fionareadersrr on Twitter

My Perfect Silence by Penelope Evans

My Perfect Silence by Penelope Evans.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Intriguing"

From the inside cover: "'I was four when I killed my baby brother.' Rose can't even remember how it happened, but in the aftermath only her older brother Max remained the same. Beautiful Max, stepping in between her and a world that has changed too much. Rose needs him more thank ever when, at fourteen, she stops speaking. Twenty years on and the media has fallen in love with Max - and Max has fallen in love with Caroline. When Caroline is killed, suspicion inevitably falls on Rose and she once again looks to Max for protection from the harsh world. But will that be enough?"

I like reading a book whose story surprises me. This is one of those books. The author writes from Rose's point of view, and we go right back to the beginning, if you like, to when she is four years old, her baby brother is dead, and suddenly noone, not even her parents, looks at her the same anymore. We see Rose growing up, being sent to boarding school, dealing with the breakup of her parents' marriage and her mother's alcoholism. We never think to question Rose's narrative, because she is talking about her own experiences.

Towards the end of the book, we discover that Max has been keeping something from Rose; something that will shed new light on everything that she thinks she knows. By the time I got to the end of the book, I almost wanted to re-read it with my new knowledge, so that I could see everything clearly this time.

I seem to be on a bit of a roll, reading books with difficult themes, that are disturbing to read. This one is no different, with the inevitable dysfunction of a family in which a child is killed by another very painful to observe. Very occasionally I hear in the news a story in which a child accidently kills a sibling, and I always wonder if there's any way back from it. Is healing possible?

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I hadn't just read some other difficult books before it. I usually do enjoy books that ask hard questions, and refrain from giving pat answers, but I think I've overdosed!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Look What I Cooked!

Ginger and Soy Glazed Salmon with Buk Choy
Coconut Rice

Recipe by Curtis Stone for Coles. Got rave reviews from all! What did you have for dinner last night?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Six Degrees of (Blogging) Separation

I'm playing a cool game that I found via this post, by Stacie of Simply Stacie. It's called 6 Degrees of Blogging, and is a fun way to discover new blogs.

This is how I played:
1. a reader's random ramblings (my blog - you are here!)
Now, I follow a link to another blog. I chose
2. One Persons Journey Through A World Of Books from my list of Blogs I Follow.
From her list "A Few of my Favourite Blogs", I chose
From "Some of my Fav Book Blogs", I linked to
From "My Blog List", I picked
Finally, from one of her two (!) blog lists, "Blogging the Non-Mysterious", I clicked on

Written by Girl with One Eye (see pic below).

Love this from her profile: "her time as a stay at home mom runs out and she must answer the question of a mid-life crisis, "What am I going to do when I grow up?" "
Yeah, I know the feeling!

I loooooove the "look" of this blog.

The most recent post is titled "What's your favourite pair of jeans?", and reading this title I feel that I am among friends! But reading through the whole post, I realise that Girl with One Eye is cleverly using an analogy, comparing different types of jeans with different writing styles. It's entertaining, and informative, and OMG I'm so jealous because she has 27 pairs of jeans!!!

So, why don't you check out this blog, or visit some other blogs on my list, or even play along? It's fun, and you never know what you might discover.

Social Justice Challenge - Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

I'm participating in the Social Justice Challenge this year.
Click here to find out more.

The topic for March is Domestic Violence and Child Abuse.
The book that I read for this month is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.
I have already had this to say about it. 

From the back of the book: "At a suburban barbeque, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, friends and relatives, who are all directly or indirectly influenced by the slap...What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity - all the passions and conflicting loyalties - that family can arouse..."
This book is not, by any means, an easy read. In fact, I found it incredibly disturbing, and the slap itself was the least of it. There is a lot of anger expressed in this book; a great deal of foul language, violent sex and drug-taking. The characters are well drawn, and realistic, but are like nobody I know in my world.

Despite the difficulty of reading this, I did feel it was a valuable catalyst for thinking about child abuse, particularly opening up the issue of the fine line between discipline using corporal punishment, and abuse.

I also found the dissection of family relationships and loyalties fascinating.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel that this book came to a satisfying conclusion. I didn't feel a sense of hope at the end of it. However, if you're stout of heart, and it interests you, then I think you find it provides plenty of food for thought.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In My Mailbox!!!

OMG a book arrived in my mailbox today!

Don't get too excited, it's not like an author or publisher sent it to me for free. It's a book that I ordered (and paid for) from The Book Depository. The Book Depository is an excellent online bookstore, particularly great for us Aussies, because the prices are good and the delivery is FREE!

I bought The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark and paid only AU$16.34 which is great, believe me. Koorong would have charged me $18.95 plus $5.95 postage, and they are in Australia!

Why did I buy this book? This post by Amy at My Friend Amy intrigued me.

Now if we could just start the free books coming...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TTT - A Blast from the Past

would you rather live for a week in the past or in the future?

Here's my take on it: Drop me into an American High School in the 1950's.

When I was growing up, there was a slew of 1950's themed movies that I absolutely loved. A major favourite was Grease.
Loved the music, loved the outfits, loved the teen culture.

Then along came a movie that combined 1950's teens with time travel. You guessed it - Back to the Future.
Gotta love the Enchantment Under the Sea dance!

Does anyone else remember Peggy Sue Got Married?
Check out the cars! Awesome!

My movie experiences at an impressionable age have rendered me impossibly romantic about life as a teen in America in the '50's. So that's where I'd like to live for a week.

What about you? Play along with Shannon at Welcome to the NutHouse!

Smacking Kids - What do you Think?

I'm reading a book at the moment called The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. It got quite a lot of press when it came out (in Australia, in 2008) and is becoming, I'm told, quite a book club favourite.

The Slap tells the story of a typical Australian barbeque with family and friends. The adults relax over a few drinks, enjoying each other's company and some great food. The kids are kept entertained by DVD's and video games, or at least that's the plan. Unfortunately, a group of kids of various ages, left to their own devices to "play together", often run into trouble. After a fracas resulting in a broken game remote, an uncle sets up a game of cricket. Let the kids expend some energy, what could be a better idea? The best laid plans... One of the kids is difficult, uncooperative, and throws a tantrum when he is "out". As his tantrum escalates, he lashes out at the adult who has grabbed hold of him in an effort to settle him down. The adult gives the child an almighty slap.

So, is it ever ok to hit a child?

In The Slap, the child in question is three years old, and a terror. The adult who slaps him is not his parent. It opens up a lot of questions, including where does discipline stop and child abuse start? Is it ok to discipline a child that's not your own? What happens when family members disagree about appropriate behaviour and discipline strategies?

I'd like to add some more questions. Is corporal punishment effective? If you choose not to smack, what alternative strategies are the most effective?

Also, a comment. I've noticed that it's very difficult to discipline children when you have an audience. A BBQ with family and friends is not the ideal situation in which to practice your own style of discipline, under the watchful (and sometimes critical) eyes of others.

Reading the Sunday Telegraph this morning (hard copy), I noticed this article by Lisa Mayoh:

In defence of smacking, I'll take a hit

The Sunday Telegraph, 21-03-2010, Ed: 1 - State, Pg: 113, 884 words , FEATURES

What I'm about to tell you is controversial, there's no doubt about that. I'm not proud of it, and I know I'm going to cop a lot of flak -- but it looks like I'm willing to take the hit, so to speak. I recently did something I never thought I would d...

Unfortunately, the article was not reproduced in the online version of the paper, and searching the archives only gives me what I have reproduced above. To get the full article, I'd have to pay.

In the article, Lisa describes a personal experience in which her younger cousin (Lisa is an adult, her cousin a six-year-old child) splashed her with water at a family picnic, and in her anger, she slapped him. She describes how upset she was that, despite being told in no uncertain terms not to wet her, the six-year-old disobeyed her and splashed her anyway. will do that.

She's not proud of having slapped him, and the child's parents aren't angry with her, so no harm done, right? And Lisa is pregnant with her own child, who she plans to smack "if they're naughty".

So what do you think? I'd love to hear some opinions on this issue.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Day in the Life of Alana

First we do her hair...
Then we do her makeup...

Check out those false eyelashes!

If you can't guess, Alana had a ballet eisteddfod today. She performed three times. First, her Modern Contemporary solo. Here she is all ready to go.
Doesn't she look adorable!
 And, she got first place, which was a lovely surprise.

Next she and her friend Phoebe danced a duo that they choreographed together for the first time.
We had lots of fun glueing (!) diamontes into their hair so they'd look all sparkley on stage :)

We used the glue that you get with your false eyelashes!

The girls got third place, which was fantastic! Lastly Alana did her Modern Expressive solo.

She didn't place for this one, but we didn't mind. There were lots of beautiful dancers, so as long as she enjoyed herself dancing, we're happy.

Now it's back to reality, and she's doing her homework!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh No! My local library branch in trouble!

From my son's school newsletter, received today:

"We have received a letter from the Council. Council is considering closing (our local branch) because it is costing them some $40000 a year in rent alone and the volume of borrowing is relatively very low. While having a joint community-school library in our existing library is not feasible because we use it for classes all the time, plus our library computer system is not compatible with theirs, we do have another alternative. I suggested that if the Council were able to persuade the Education Department to leave us with an extra demountable when the new building opens and our surplus demountables are removed then we would be happy for that demountable to be used as a joint facility. Council would staff and stock the Library and it would operate along the same lines as the current branch Library. They would also pay us rent (not 40K obviously) and we would have use of the facility as well. The proposal has gone forward to the Regional Director in (nearby city) for consideration. I know that many people want the Library to remain where it is at the shopping cintre, that's a matter for the community; our offer is intended as an alternative to the total removal of the Library from (our community)."

What a shocker! First I'd heard of it. So I decided to head over to the Council website to dig a little more. Trawling through the minutes of Council meetings is not the easiest going. Anyone would think that they didn't want you to know what was going on! But I was able to find in the minutes of the March 9 meeting:

"Consideration of the operation of (the) Library be deferred until further discussions have been held with the Principal of the Public School and the Department of Education and Training on the use of the school site as an alternate library and a further report come back to Council."

My initial thoughts:
  • There are lots of people that wouldn't, for one reason or another, feel comfortable using a branch within school grounds, rather than in a public shopping centre.
  • Would the branch only be open during school hours? If not, what are the implications for the school if people are coming in and out when school isn't open?
  • Why does the shopping centre charge so much for rent when the Library provides an important community service, and doesn't make a profit?
This is all further to my post the other day (see here) about funding for Public Libraries being "redeployed" by Council by making opening hours shorter. It all seems a bit more sinister now. If they save $40000 a year in rent, plus wages etc by closing my branch, what will that money be spent on?

I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience in a shared community/school library. How does it work?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Hardcore supernatural"

From the back cover: "'I don't date vampires. I kill them.' My name is Anita Blake. Vampires call me the Executioner. What I call them isn't repeatable. Ever since the Supreme Court granted the undead equal rights, most people think vampires are just ordinary folks with fangs. I know better. I've seen their victims. I carry the scars... But now a serial killer is murdering vampires - and the most powerful bloodsucker in town wants me to find the killer..."

There's an interesting story behind how I chose to borrow and read this book. While blog-hopping, I happened upon gnooks via this post at ANZ LitLovers. gnooks is a handy tool to find an author you might like based upon authors that you already enjoy. I tried it out and Laurell K. Hamilton was the author that it suggested. A quick browse of my library's online catalogue helped my choose Guilty Pleasures, the first in the Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter series.

So, how did gnooks do? Did I enjoy the book? Well, yes...

The world that Hamilton has created is a far cry from the world of Sookie in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampires (True Blood) books. Anita Blake inhabits a world in which the dead rarely rest in peace. Black magic abounds, the dead can be raised, zombies and ghouls terrorise cemeteries, and undead creatures can gain power over mortals to do their bidding. Only religious icons, used with true faith, can stand against evil, and rituals involving the spilling of blood are commonplace. To tell you the truth, I found it all a bit disturbing.

The general plot of the book follows Anita's ordeal as she attempts to solve the vampire murders before she loses her life. I've got to say, however, that I found it awfully confusing. A lot of characters were introduced, and I sometimes found it difficult to keep everyone straight in my mind, and particularly the relationships between them. I know that this is the first book of a series, so I assume that the characters would continue on in further books, and the reader would find it easier as they went along to remember who was who.

Will I continue reading this series? The jury's still out. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In My Crockpot

This post is a bit of a spoof on the "In my Mailbox" meme. All around the book-review blogosphere, bloggers happily reveal the piles of books that they have received from publishers and authors for review. Big juicy piles of books that clog up their bedside tables and take up their time. Mountain-like TBR (to be read) piles of books to read and review.

Not me. I haven't yet come to the attention of any publishers, authors, publicists...anyone really. No-one's sending me books. So instead I'm offering you a look inside my weekly adventure into the world of slow-cooker cooking.

Last night's effort: "Mild Chicken Curry"
Please note the authentic, old-school CrockPot!

Mild Chicken Curry ingredients included chicken thigh, carrot, sweet potato, onion, red capsicum and coconut milk. I served it with cous cous (I love cous cous and think it goes with any casserole!)
Yum! Oops, plate looks a bit messy - not up to Master Chef standard!

What do you like to cook?

And would somebody please send me some books!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TTT- Healthy Eating or Exercise?

It's that time of the week again - time for Table Topics Tuesday.
Head to Shannon's NutHouse to play along.
is it harder for you to eat healthy or get exercise?

For me, it's harder to fit exercise into my day than to choose healthy foods. It's not that I don't have time to exercise, my issue is the sweat! Stay with me here...

If you're going to exercise and work up a sweat, then you have to shower, change, and do your hair and makeup afterwards - it's all that I have a hard time fitting in. Please don't tell me that you can exercise in your lunch hour - I don't want to hear it! I'm the type that goes extremely red in the face and sweats a lot, especially my head. I'm not fit for human consumption until after a shower, and if I'm going to look at least somewhat well-groomed, I need to do my hair and face. That's just me. I'm not 20, I'm not thin, and I have to try a little to look good! More power to you if you're ready for anything unmade-up with your hair in a ponytail, but I'm not!

On Fridays, I go swimming with a friend of mine for exercise. We meet at the pool first thing after the kids go off to school, and do half an hour of laps (that's 1km for me). Then we shower and change at the pool, slap on some moisturiser and run a comb through our hair. Next we head to the closest shopping centre where we enjoy a coffee together at Gloria Jeans. Sometimes we run into someone we know, even with the red marks from our swimming goggles still on our unmade-up faces. Oh well. After our coffee, I head into the supermarket and do my weekly grocery shopping, then head home to unpack it all (a workout in itself). Then I fix up my hair and face before picking up Josh from school and doing all my usual Friday afternoon taxi-ing (gymnastics, ballet, youth group).

What about you? Is it exercise or food that's your downfall on the quest for health and beauty?

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Post about Libraries - Shock Horror!

For those of you who don't know, I started this blog as an assessment requirement for my Masters degree in Teacher Librarianship. The idea was to use the blog as a personal learning journal, to record the development of my knowledge about the role of the Teacher Librarian.

Along the way, I somehow hi-jacked the blog for my own purposes, reviewing books, talking about myself and my family, and connecting with lots of other bloggers.

I love blogging! I enjoy having a forum to post my thoughts and photos, and I like the fact that everything I've posted is neatly archived so that I can revisit it if I want to. I have a great time blog-hopping, reading about parenting, fashion, education, current issues, libaries, and lots of silliness and fun!

So, today I'm actually writing a post about libraries. This morning I heard a news story on the radio about the public libraries in my Local Government area. They are shortening their opening hours due to a restructuring of the budget. A quick visit to the Council website confirms that "changes to library hours will bring us closer to the library operations of similar sized Local Government Areas around the state" and that "funds have been reallocated to provide improved library resources and better maintain library facilities and no funding cuts have been made to library budgets".

So, does that mean that I should expect an influx of new books to arrive in my local branch? More computers? More comfortable couches? Just how much money are they saving by reducing hours? And what, exactly, are they going to spend it on? What's better; a reasonably good library that's open long hours, or an excellent library open shorter hours? What serves the needs of the community better?

Speaking of meeting the needs of a community, two ladies from my church run a library of Christian books and other media to serve the needs and encourage the Christians in our community. Visit the library website here, and see what a large catalogue they have managed to amass in the year since they began. Do you know of any private, non-profit libraries in your community? Whose needs do they serve? How successful are they in meeting their goals?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holiday is Booked!

Here are some photos taken straight from the website of the caravan park that we have booked our holiday for January.

Looks nice, doesn't it! I won't name it, but this park is in the Port Stephens area on the NSW coast. It has plenty of activities on site, and is right in the middle of a thriving tourist spot, with plenty to do within a short drive if we want to get out and about. (Or if it rains.)

I'm so glad that the holiday is booked and I don't have to think about it any more, except in a good way!

Alana is on her first youth group camp this weekend. Forty-four teenagers from 11 (yes, Alana is the youngest!) to 17 years of age are hitting Jambaroo Action Park today, then all bunking down on inflatable mattresses in a scout hall tonight before returning home tomorrow afternoon. Here's some pics of what she might be getting up to...
Aaaaargh, should I be worried about her???

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eclipse Movie Trailer - The Real Thing!

Let's try that one more time...

Don't know what that one was that I posted yesterday, but this is the real thing! Enjoy...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ghost by Alan Lightman

ghost by Alan Lightman.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Engrossing."

From the inside cover: "David is a person of modest ambitions who works in a bank, lives in a rooming house, enjoys books and quiet walks by the lake. Three months after unexpectedly being fired from his job, he takes a temporary position at a mortuary. And there, sitting alone in the 'slumber room' one afternoon at dusk, he sees something that he cannot comprehend, something that no science can explain, something that will force him to question everything he believes in, including himself..."

My local librarian, Adam, knows me well. I'm a "frequent flyer", so to speak. These days, I make good use of the virtual library. I browse the catalogue online, and reserve books that I would like to borrow. I check (online) to see when the books are ready for me, and trot up to the library to pick them up. I have a little chat with Adam about what I'm borrowing, then head next door to the local cafe to pick up a takeaway coffee. Easy.

Last time I was in, Adam pointed out the new books (new to the library, not necessarily newly released) on display behind his desk. This book's cover caught my eye immediately. A quick scan of the inside cover convinced me to try it.

Lightman's protagonist, David, is an appealing, all-too-human character. A thoughtful man, he is surprised to find that working at the mortuary suits him, and his father-son relationship with the director unfolds nicely. David's metaphysical experience unsettles him deeply, and causes him to ponder many unanswerable questions about life, death and reality. He describes his feelings as "skeptism combined with a powerful and unexplainable experience". He feels that he has caught a tantalising glimpse of something usually unseen, and he desperately wants to understand the meaning of it.

Unfortunately, a group called the Society of the Second World hears about David's experience via the local paper, and appropriates it for the purpose of gaining publicity for their organisation. Soon David is the centre of a public row between the scientists from the University and the Society of the Second World over the existence of the supernatural. At the same time, David is struggling to negotiate his confusion over his relationship with his girlfriend, and the sudden reappearance of his ex-wife after 8 years.

I enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and world of the mortuary "family", and I could identify with David's intellectual questions. Unfortunately, though, I found the ending very unsatisfying, leaving far too much unresoved for my liking. This book probably won't be to everyone's taste, but if it appeals to you then you should give it a try.

Eclipse Movie Trailer

You saw it here first!

Well, maybe you didn't see it here first, but you probably don't mind watching it again!

How many sleeps until June 30th?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What to do on a Rainy Day.

what is the best way to spend a rainy day?

Table topics Tuesdays is thanks to Shannon at Welcome to the NutHouse.
To play along, click here.

OK folks, this one's easy!

A rainy day is best spent tucked up inside, preferably in bed, reading! And I don't mean reading school text books, or something serious for the Social Justice Challenge. (Not that there's anything wrong with either of these...) I mean reading fabulously trashy quick-read fiction; or re-reading a much loved "comfort book".

My favourites?

I can't go past Charlaine Harris for fabulously trashy fiction. I mean that in the nicest possible way! Nothing like some hot sex and vampires on a rainy day.

Or, if I'm feeling a bit fragile, or in need of TLC, my go-to re-read is Harry Potter. I just find it somehow comforting to re-visit the world of Hogwarts.

To re-visit my adolescence and get some vampires into the bargain, then the Twilight saga is good value.

Of course, I can just read whatever's on my bedside table (at the moment The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas).

I love a rainy long as I don't have to go out in it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Research and Professional Experience.

The two subjects that I am enrolled in this semester could not be more different. EER500 "Introduction to Educational Research" is all about reading academic literature, posing research questions, and designing research projects. In contrast, ETL507 "Professional Experience and Portfolio" incorporates a study visit, a professional placement, and the making of a professional portfolio.

One subject is all about thinking, the other all about doing!

I've made good progress with both subjects today.

For EER500, I'm looking at the role of the teacher librarian in facilitating the implementation of ICT into teaching and learning. Today I've read and summarised a research article:

Schibeci, R., MacCallum, J., Cumming-Potvin, W., Durrant, C., Kissane, B,, & Miller, E. (2008). Teachers’ journeys towards critical use of ICT. Learning, Media and Technology, 33(4), 313-327.

This artlcle is about a research project involving 200 teachers in 12 Australian primary schools. It followed the teachers' progress from anxiety to confidence as they learn how to make the technology work, how to create classroom lessons with ICT that work, evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching with ICT, and investigate broader curriculum reforms.

For ETL507, I've tentatively organised a professional placement (read 'work experience') at a TAFE library near my home. More paperwork and solidifying of dates to come, but it looks good! It will be a great place to experience working in a library, and interacting with students, without having to be in a school, dealing with classroom management and the like. I'm excited!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Take me Away!

I have spent most of the day searching the internet for a holiday venue for January next year. My sister and I are determined to take both our families on holidays together, so that we can share some quality recreation time.

What do you look for in a holiday venue? I have been looking for a caravan park that has two powered sites near one another, so that we can set up the caravan and camper trailer and holiday in reasonably priced splendour! Of course, it's important that the caravan park:

Has a super-dooper pool for the kids.

Has some other play activities for the kids, e.g. mini golf, playground, games room, volleyball/tennis/basketball.

Is situated in a town that has (at least) a few shops for getting groceries and somewhere to eat if we get too lazy to cook.

Is within a resonable distance of some other local attractions like a bigger shopping centre, indoor activities (e.g. movies) in case of rainy weather, and other "holidayish" pastimes like theme parks or nature parks.

Also, this will be the first time that we holiday as boat owners, so we want somewhere close to a boat ramp.

And all this in the peak holiday season for Australians!

Here is a sneak peek from the website of the caravan park that I've chosen.

Looks nice, doesn't it! I don't want to say any more for now, because the booking will not be confirmed until tomorrow. But come January, I could be caravanning by the water on a site like the one below.

I might be relaxing by the pool, while the kids ride go-karts, or play table tennis, or paddle a canoe!

What about you? Do you have any holidays planned? What do you like to do when you go away?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Towelhead by Alicia Erian

Towelhead by Alicia Erian.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Disturbing"

From the back of the book: "It is August 1990. Saddam Hussein has just invaded Kuwait, and Jasira's mother has bought her daughter a one-way ticket to Texas to live with her strict Lebanese father. Living in a neat model home in Charming Gates, just outside of Houston, Jasira struggles with her father's rigid lifestyle and the racism of her classmates, who call her "towelhead". For the first time, the painful truth hits her: she's an Arab. Her aching loneliness and growing frustration with her parents' conflicting rules drive her to rebel in very dangerous ways. Most disturbingly, she becomes sexually obsessed with the bigoted army reservist next door, who alternately cares for, excites, and exploits her."

This book is heavy going, and I found it very upsetting to read. Jasira is an extremely real and believable character. She is thirteen years old, going through puberty, and starting to think about who she is. She's open, and trusting, and really wanting to have some trusted adults around that she can talk through her feelings and thoughts. But all around her the adults let her down in big ways and small, refusing to talk about difficult issues like body image, sexuality and race identity. All the while, they also starve her of love, affection and loving, appropriate touch. You've heard the saying "looking for love in all the wrong places"? Well that's Jasira to a tee.

Towards the end of the book, we see some hope for Jasira, but I fear that by then she is already suffering significant damage that may well be life-long. I really struggled to get through this book, in which Jasira suffers parental neglect, physical and sexual abuse. I think that, having my own daughter that is at a similar age to Jasira, I found it doubly hard to take. It made me want to put my arms around Alana, and tell her how beautiful, and special, and precious she is.

This book is well-written, and very effective in creating strong characters and heart-breakingly real situations. But it's not for the faint-hearted.