Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A busy winter



It's been the busiest winter I remember. Winter for me is usually a quiet season.

But this year I've been getting a lot of casual teaching. I've taught at about 8 local schools now, mostly teaching K-2, but also some 3-6, Computers. and Art. These chilly mornings I've been jumping into the car around 8.10am, loaded up with coat, lunch and teaching supplies, and thankful for my fake fur-trimmed leather gloves to keep my fingers from going numb on the steering wheel. I drive to the school of the day and find my way around a new classroom, try to learn the names of the children, and their classroom routine. The next day I repeat it all, but in a different class (and possibly a different school!)


Last week I taught a couple of days of Music. It was so good to teach something I'm actually trained in. Usually I'm guessing my way through the day in a primary classroom, sometimes keeping just one step ahead of the class.

I do enjoy playground duty in the winter sun. This school's oval backs right on to the bush.


Last Monday I went into the city and met up with my parents and sister for my sister's birthday. This was looking up in the QVB.


There have been some outings with Emily to visit college open days. She's interested in Events Management and we have visited two small exclusive colleges to see what they have to offer.



They are both in amazing locations and gorgeous old buildings, which partly explains their rather exorbitant fees. Oh, how things have changed since I studied! I also studied in a beautiful old building in a stunning location (ie the Sydney Conservatorium in the Botanic Gardens) but my course fees were under $5000 in total, from memory. It looks like Emily could accumulate some significant debt in the next few years  .... so some big decisions ahead.


Emily has been working hard to get her art major work finished. I'm hoping I can show you some of her actual photos sometime, but here's a quick shot taken in our living room as she worked out proportions, packing and display volumes, etc., trying to ensure that she doesn't go over the allowed 1 cubic metre of space. She has done an amazing job but it has been pretty stressful for us both at this end. In two weeks she has her music performance, which involves both an accompanist and a saxophone quartet, so she's out rehearsing tonight for that.

So, what with teaching piano & recorder, casual teaching, shopping, cooking, assisting with Yr 12 stuff, my involvement in parish council and an 'orchestra' playing harp (!) for an upcoming performance ... life is pretty busy! However, I'm very thankful to God for the extra income and to have stayed mostly well during this time.


The thing I have enjoyed most this winter is escaping out of the house just before the sun goes down, and walking in our local neighbourhood, listening to podcasts. I've been enjoying listening to John Ortberg lately, whose talks are both thought-provoking and entertaining, and the walking, sunshine and fresh air always does wonders, even when I'm tired. I like to walk the same route each time, I don't ever get tired of it, something is always changing. This is a house with a flourishing cottage garden just around the corner from us, just at sunset. I've also enjoyed the cool weather, and feeling energetic in the cooler temperatures - it's been colder than other winters I remember, but mostly dry, perfect winter weather, in my opinion. 

How has your winter been?
Or perhaps your summer, depending where you live!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Family Weekend Away in Nowra



On the weekend my family went to stay in an old house in Nowra, called Illowra.
It has been a tradition to go away together for a few nights every two years. In the past we've stayed at Leura, Katoomba, the Royal National Park, and Avoca Beach.


With nine adults and seven children (some of them almost adults!) in the family, it's hard to find accommodation that fits us. But Mum and Dad found yet another great property, this one with about 9 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms plus three living areas.



As well as some period features inside, there was a beautiful garden outside 





.. plus a tennis court, pool and spa
(a shame the weather was too cold for swimming!)


We spent hours a lot of time in the conservatory, reading, crocheting, playing various instruments, and using phones and ipads, each to his own.  I never quite made it onto the tennis court, but played a game of table tennis and went for quite a few walks.


Laura enjoyed her reading, and using her book to simultaneously avoid the camera and create this weird effect.

Illowra homestead heritage house: Illowra @ Berry/Nowra in Berry

Dad and I spent some time comparing this 1906 photo to the house now, to see what alterations have been done over the years. We thought the original upstairs must have been very dark with just those small windows on the south side of the house, and one window on the north side. The upstairs rooms now have skylight windows in the roof. A lot of the verandahs have been enclosed to create more space indoors. I wonder how many people lived in the home in its original state?


The house was close to Shoalhaven River, so we adults took a few lovely walks across the bridge and along the shore, while the kids lounged around watching TV. Silly them.

 
 It was so peaceful, and the weather was perfect.







It was a relaxing weekend, and nice to hang out together, and we are grateful to Mum and Dad for hosting us all.





Thursday, June 11, 2015

19 for Lunch


In recent months I've been very focused on decluttering this house of ours. 
I printed out the charts from Rachel's 2015 in 2015 Challenge in January, and so far I've ticked off 1300 items that have left the house! Some of those were from our "outbuildings" - our workshop and garden shed, but the bulk of them were items from indoors. There have been numerous trips to the op shop, the kerb, and the bin, and I've sold some things on ebay and the local facebook buy, sell and trade group. With each item ticked off, I know I'm making space to do all sorts of things more easily.

There's still a lot more stuff that I could let go of, and hopefully I will in future, but for now I've reached a level where it's possible to keep the living room tidy - at last!

Our living room is an open living space, encompassing kitchen, dining, living, laundry overflow (piles of laundry, not water!) and access to the backdoor/bathroom/stairs. In wet weather you might find clothes hanging on clotheshorses, too. Until this week, Emily has done all her homework and study at the dining table. It's a busy room with a lot going on. 


On Saturday, I cleared out every single thing that wasn't a piece of furniture, and put it in the study or craftroom. Since I've decluttered so much, there wasn't much to pick up, and the other rooms had more space to store things temporarily.  We rearranged the furniture (did I mention we had 4 sofas in the living room? That story for another post) and added some trestle tables and chairs.


Voila! Seating for 19 people!

We celebrated Mum's birthday with most of our extended family, and I managed to seat them all! No "kids table", no picnic on the floor, no dinners on laps. no kids disappearing upstairs. All those things are fine, but this time I wanted all of us together for once, for a sit-down lunch and a game afterwards. We all squeezed in and ate baked potatoes with toppings, then some paleo desserts and birthday cake. Then we tested our wits with  a Family Feud style game and gave presents. 


I had planned to fold up the tables after lunch and sit on the sofas, but that seemed too complicated when the time came, so we stayed at the tables. 


]The only problem was before dinner, it was a bit crowded, standing around for drinks. I had hoped people might use this corner of the room where we "stored" two of the sofas, but, no. Oh well.

After our visitors left, I organised some more stuff, so there wasn't much at all to put back in the living room - a basket of crochet yarns, a basket of library books ... and Emily has started studying upstairs so the dining table is staying clear. When I crashed with a cold for two days from Sunday afternoon, I could sit and enjoy our new serene and open space. All so worth it!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Exploring






















On Monday we headed out to explore some of Forster's other beaches and headlands again.
We love Pebbly Beach, and spent some time searching for special pebbles. I collected some stripey pebbles and snail shells, and we found a smiley rock, also. 

Then we walked around the headland, stopping at lookouts along the way and looking down at the rocks below. Over the years people have attached engraved padlocks at the lookouts, it was interesting to read the engravings. Laura did some more gymnastics, making the most of the spectacular background for some instragram pics. I loved the arched pathways between the lookouts, so green with a glimpse of sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

The weather wasn't great, so after some shopping we headed home for the afternoon.


That night the sun set peacefully, with just a touch of gold.
Just your average, everyday totally beautiful lakeside serenity.
Mosquito count: annoyingly high.