Saturday, April 30, 2011

efficiency, or lack thereof.


Today was a cleaning day, mostly.
We often spend a saturday vacuuming, washing clothes, hanging clothes, dumping said clothes on the ground in the hallway when they're dry, putting on loads of dishes to be washed, picking up random things that have accumulated on the coffee table, gathering my various uni books from the lounge, the floor, the 'bag bucket' by the front door and trying to stack them coherently, somewhere. Picking up clothes from the bedroom floor and putting them back on the bed. Dumping them back on the floor when it's bed-time...

Not ours. Outs is worse. Imagine a blast-zone of a half a meter, where socks are the shrapnel, detonated by one pesky kitten. {via}

So I have a question for you, readers, lurkers, people-who-may-be-more-tidy-than-us.... I would like your input on ways to be more efficient with these things.
Nic and I acknowledge, we are not tidy people.
We have clothes on the floor.
Clothes get washed, no problems. They get hung out- we don't want them to go mouldy. They get taken off the line and brought in in a basket. The basket sits on the floor in the hall. The kitten explores the basket, steals socks, tips the basket over, spreads socks far and wide. We rummage through the basket every morning for clean clothes. The next weekend, the basket is still there. We do another load of washing. The washing needs to get hung out, but the basket is in use! We tip last-weeks washing on the bed. The newly washed clothes get hung up, brought in, and dumped on the bed, also. Then, the day goes by, and 10.30 hits. It's bed time!! We're too tired to do more chores!! But wait!! The bed is covered in clothes!!! The clothes get dumped on the floor at the foot of the bed, and remain there for another week, or until I get sick of them being there and getting covered in Mallei's fur that I put them away.
So, my question: Anybody have any tips or tricks to make this a better process? Please don't say: "Just put them away when you bring them in!" If it was that simple, we'd be doing that. But we don't. We need a solution that lets us be lazy, but have things done.
Example: We used to have a little sort of hall-table, by the front door. Where we're meant to put bags, and keys, and dog-leads, and it kind of doubled as a shoe-stand, but only, it was hard to put shoes in, and it was quite narrow, so shoes ended up on the floor, bags began to creep away from their intended areas and get further and further away, and it just became a mess. But we needed somewhere to dump this stuff when we came in the door or it would all go on couches, then the floor, and would look horrible.
So, we put a little bed-side table type thing from ikea by the door, and put a flexi-plastic bucket on it. Basically, bags get dumped in the bucket- and contained. You can't see them really, but they're there. There's a little tray for keys, one for change, one for exercise stuff, and one for dog stuff. Shoes go underneath the table on a little shelf it has. Perfect. Works for us. Mess contained.
It took us some thinking to come up with this solution that we knew would suit us, so I'm just wanting to know, this most simple of issues, how do you streamline your laundry process? (Is this not the most lame post, or what?)


We also tend to get piles of 'semi-dirty-but-not-dirty-enough-to-wash-only-worn-once' clothes by the bed as well, but that could just require a clothes horse. Or something.
Maybe another bucket!!?

Friday, April 29, 2011

ch-ch-ch-changes.... / in sickness....

Good morning!

So, after little to no prompting, I changed my layout around. I'm a bit obsessive like this. I love changing layouts. Right from when I taught myself HTML back in the day, when it was still relevant, and then taught myself photoshop. I love layouts. So, I've been very restrained this time. I've tried to not go overboard on the colours, here. Usually I'm like PINK AND BLUE AND ORANGE AND GREEN AND PURPLE ALL GO TOGETHER IN A MAGICAL WEBSITE RAINBOW!!!! And it ends up looking like something a kindergarten child vomited up.
So, I was aiming for 'adult' this time. 
I think it worked.
For all of you in readers, come, visit. It's blue, and subdued, and kind of wintery, but not. Do tell me if anything looks weird or if the characters show up in Chinese or anything.
Unless you are Chinese, and translating this. Or something.
In which case, 欢迎.


I've been ordered by Nic that I'm not to go to School today, even though it's the first week of term and I want to be there, it's ok. 
This is because yesterday I had a headache all day, which at about 4pm turned in to me feeling terrible and wanting to go to sleep. Nic came home, and I was quite chilly, so we turned on the heat and wrapped me in a blanket. When he got back from his run at about 6.30 I was trying to have a nap on the futon. I realise that this is a completely inappropriate time to be having a nap, because if you nap at 6.30 there's no way you can get to sleep at 10, even if you're LTU Postgrads in the Art of Going to Bed Early. Nic came in and I huddled, wrapped in the huge blanket of luxury in front of the heater. Burning on the outside, shivering on the inside. Liken when you cook a sausage on too-high heat and the outside is charcoal and the inside is goo. Right. That was me. 
Clearly, not doing so well.
Nic says:
"Um... are you still cold? It's really hot in here..."
And I'm shivering away.
He does his looking-after-me thing which I think he secretly loves. We have a running in-joke that he's meant to look after me, but he's the one who gets sick all the time. I get random injuries/muscle/joint pains, and he gets catastrophically sick. Well, maybe not that bad. But he does get sick more than me. So he makes me soup from a packet which I eat, even though I'm not hungry, and them some chamomile tea, and then sets me up on the couch with Private Practice. Mallei is at my feet, Mia is passed out on the blanket of luxury, on my lap. I'm cocooned in it. I can feel my face burning, but the rest of me feels cold. On the inside. I watch the show, back and legs aching, then at 8.30, drag myself to bed. I shiver, and cuddle Mallei, who lays in the crook of my stomach- my little spoon. 
I wake up several times drenched in sweat. (Tell me when this gets to be TMI for y'all). 
Feeling much better today, at least.
Part of my problem, I think, is that I work myself into a frenzy.
And then, like Dr. House, try and diagnose myself based on what knowledge I have from medical shows on TV. Which I think makes things worse.
I run through lists of symptoms in my head, studying my internal feelings and body messages with microscopic attention.
Fever, aches, headache (oh god, what if I have a brain tumour? They run in the family), sudden tiredness, loss of appetite, occasional nausea, been drinking water all day and lips still dry.... heart beating really fast! Breath shallow! (as I work myself in a panic)... Oh, maybe that's just me. Scrap the last two. And then I run through the list again... looking for anything else to add. After all, the more symptoms, the more serious, right? 

But I feel better now. So, lord knows. 24 hour fever? The old adage of "sweating out the fever" might actually be true? (research done: apparently it helps fight off an infection. Go figure.)

Anyway, I got a little off topic here from where I started but that's ok. 
Also tomorrow is Saturday, huzzah!
Also, if anyone wants to write to Dr. Mallei for advice, please do. He's a good advice giver.
Also (again), next Tuesday I'll try and remember to do tasty-tuesday. I have a super easy, super tasty and only slightly healthy cobbler recipe. If you're like me and don't know what a cobbler is, it's certainly yummy. 

Let me know what you think of the redesign!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

just because we're on a big fat island...

Once again, we've been screwed over.
I was super excited to find a kindle app for my macbook. It was free, and meant I could buy & download books and read them from my computer. This is a good thing for those of us who don't want/can't afford an actual kindle or ipad, or, y'know, new books. My fear with buying books- novels, particularly - is that I won't like them. I can buy a used book from amazon for .99c, but shipping it here costs $12.50. For each book. So if I get a book that I don't like... or if I get 3 books I don't like... then I'm stuck with 3 books, and down $36 just on shipping. So, there's no yet. There's an Australian site which professes to do 'cheap books', but they don't do 2nd hand books the way amazon does. There's also a UK site which does free international shipping, but then you're paying in pounds and it seems to work out the same as if I'd just bought it from the Australian one. Or Amazon.
So I saw an education book that I wanted, and then thought; well, if it's no good then I've just paid $25 (12.50 for the book, 2nd hand, $12.50 for shipping) for a book to be flown across the world and I don't like it.
But then I found this app!
And I said to Nic:
"Nic!!! I'm going to go on a spending rampage with this. I can buy like, a billion books. And then I can just read them all, on my computer! A RAMPAGE I TELLS YOU!"
And I started looking at lists. Top 100 lists of the books people have been buying. Free, pre-releases. Popular books. Books made into movies.
And for every one of those popular books, a little green message would appear in the right hand side of the screen:
"This title is not available for customers in
Free books, like the "Metaphysical elements of ethics", or "The Complete English Tradesmen (1898 ed.)" I can download without issue.
So, that's wonderful.
I suppose, on the bright side, it means I won't be able to go on a spending rampage. As Nic so tactfully put it last night when I said:
"I'm going to spend all my money on books, love!!!!"
"What money?"
Well, that shut me up, didn't it now?

Innnnn other news, I was messing around yesterday with wordpress and decided that their layouts aren't changeable enough unless you use CSS which I fail at, so no, I will suffer blogger's annoying lack of reply button a while longer, but in the meantime I kind of made a header. At the moment it has a different blog name on it. The blog name I could change this blog's name too. Once again I'm struck by the fact that we are no longer 'looking to april' as our potential wedding-month, and so the old name doesn't really fit.
Here, tell me what you think, or if you have any better/bigger/more awesome ideas. Particularly name ideas.

Click on 'im to make 'im big, yo.
If you like it, I'll do an overhaul.
Maybe I will anyway. Just cos I like overhauls.
How about:
... wow, this one was going to sound really dirty... "Kittens who lick puppies" (teehee.)
Although I don't want my blog name to be all about the animals, even though they are awesome.

Mission for today: Making team shirts for Nic & I to enter fun-runs and adventure races in. Last night as we packed up to go to bed at 10, I told him we were Undergraduates from Lametown University, or LTU. Then I started thinking about those athletics department shirts from Universities. Then I started thinking about how I could make my own LTU shirt with some highly randomized slogan on the back (We had: "As furious as a honeybadger in heat" as we broke down in overtired giggles last night. Maybe we need something a little more 'us'). So.. That's today.
Oh. And some Uni work in there too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

hey there, Bright eyes...

In Australia, this was a super-long weekend as we had Anzac day, which meant from Friday-Tuesday, Nic was off work. Huzzah.
As I mentioned, I'd discovered the grants awarded to graduate teachers going to rural areas, and remembered these beautiful little towns up in the mountains, which we decided to go visit for the weekend.

Of course, it being a long weekend, in a town known for its beautiful autumn trees (remember, it's autumn/fall here, and we don't generally have trees that drop their leaves), the place was packed out. Still, we walked around Bright and quickly loved its little cafes, tree-covered hills in the background, quaint shops, and slightly-larger-than-hodunk-town feeling. On the last day, Nic stopped in at the police station to chat with them about the transfer process, if he does end up applying and going through training to be a cop. Apparently the Bright police station is the one that everyone wants to go to, and you could wait years to get posted there. Awesome. It seems strange, since they have to lure teachers there with money incentives, but police are lining up to be posted there. I suppose if you're a cop at a country town, you have a kind of quiet life amongst the mountains, booking people for speeding, not really dealing with much of the 'hard stuff'... where as a teacher, all our teaching courses tend to be metropolitan, we tend to do our rounds in the suburbs, and teaching bored country kids in tiny schools seems harder than maybe a middle-class anglo-saxon school in the 'burbs.

Wandilligong Primary School: 28 students.

The first day there we did a lot of driving. Lots of little towns with funny names (Wandilligong, Yakandandah, Tawong, Porepunkah, Stanley). Towns we judged based on the number of pubs they had, or whether they had a large or small supermarket, or none at all. We formulated criteria for prospective future towns we'd like to live in- cafes, mountains, a supermarket, and within a certain distance of the nearest cinema in Wangaratta. We drove away from the mountains to the flat plains just north of the apline area, and although those mountains loomed in the distance (as well as Australian mountains can. Having seen the Pacific Coast range, I refuse to believe anything in Australia can loom quite as well as them), we decided that it was too flat: we wanted to be in amongst it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

i'm a mountain man...

Sorry about the silence this last week, but we're back from our trip to Alpine Victoria! Updates and photos to come, once I've made them pretty. 

The photo above was taken looking up at Mt Feathertop- Victoria's 2nd tallest mountain, at dawn.

Hoping you all had a wonderful long weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Naps are best taken with kittens.

I'm tired.
At some time this afternoon, I went and lay on the futon couch in the office with my big blanket of kitten luxury, and fell asleep in about 5 minutes. I say "at some time" because I can't remember when. It was after 2, but before 3.
I woke up, suddenly.
It was like those moments in movies that never actually happen in real life, until they do. Where the main character wakes with a start for some reason and goes: "Where am I!? What day is it!?"
That was me.
It was the phone- Nic was calling.
"Uh... hi..!" I tried to shake the sleep out of my voice.
"Hey... where are you?"
"On the futon..."
"Oh no! Did I wake you up?"
"Um... I think so..."
I couldn't remember first of all where I was, why I was sleeping, or what day it was, and then I couldn't remember if I'd been sleeping at all. The conversation went on. Nic asked what I'd done all day. I looked back in my memory and this is what I saw:
Waking up at 5.30am. Not getting back to sleep. Haze. 5km run (at about midday). Haze. Played a kid's math game for about 30 minutes. Went to futon. It was now 4pm.
"Um... Nothing. I ran."
Seriously. I've been up since 5.30 this morning, and this is what I had to show for my day.
This happens often, people. Days where an hour or two is spent writing an assignment, and an hour is spent doing exercise is reduced into these tiny nuggets, and everything else is like gaps. How can 10 hours pass from Nic going to work to Nic coming home, and I manage to read a chapter in a book, and go for a run?
I find I'm waking up with increasing frequency at 4.30am. Usually the kitten has made a noise somewhere, I guess. I'm that light of a sleeper. Then I realize I'm burning up and I'm covered in sweat (lovely imagery here, you guys) and if I stick my arms, then my legs, then most of my whole self outside of the covers, I freeze in the autumn chill. So I get stuck somewhere between my shoulders and arms being frozen, and everything below that burning up. Ask my forehead though and I'm tepid. That's the scientific test, right? Forehead reveals all. Eventually I manage to fall back asleep. Wake up time proper is 6.30.

And I realize I've just sat here for about 10 minutes staring into space for no reason. I think there's something wrong with me. Maybe I need to go back to the futon.
Any of you out there lose time? I'm sure it's not that uncommon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

it's a group assignment... who wants coffee?!

Tiny bit disappointed to be honest, blog-land.

Our first assignment for our numeracy class is a group thing. We have to look at data we've collected, and put together some sort of poster without a word limit as a guide. Joy.

As always, I was the first one to finish writing up the bulk of the assignment, and so emailed it through to the other 3 members of the group to help them, since they were a bit unsure of what to do. Now, I'm not stuck-up, or proud, or think I'm the best... I did this because I was the only one who had done anything by that point. Which was last week, or the week before, even. So they all said "Yay! That was so helpful!" and this Sunday wrote up their parts. It's due Wednesday, by the way.
So I edit mine and get it all shiny and ready to get stuck on, and go to class at 8am, and then come into a room where we can work on it together. One of the other 3 is with me, we chat for a while.
15 minute late, another girl arrives.
15 minutes later the last of them arrive. She'd slept in because she'd been up till 4.30am 'talking' to a boy.
People... we have an assignment. Be here on time.

Anyway, time passes with me editing everybody's work (literally). Rewording bits, adding quotes, putting bits in bold, deleting bits. Y'know, Nic's job with my assignments. The other girls are talking about boys, and sex, and drinking, and they're SMSing or curling up on the couch.
Then one proposes:
"Who wants coffee?! Let's have a coffee break! Should we have like, a half hour break and then come back and smash it out?"
And I'm thinking: So far, one of you has flicked through a book of readings, one of you has read through the corrections I've made to your part of the work and the other arrived 15 minutes ago. How about we smash it out now, and then relax.
"Great idea!"
"Yeah! Let's have a half hour break!"
I'm clearly making no move to... move. There are books and bags everywhere, my computer is out and plugged in, I'm deeply engrossed in editing.
"Um... well.. maybe if you just get coffee, and then come back.. then we'll keep working?" I put forward.
"Ok!" So off they go, with my coffee order also placed (3 cups a day- SHAME ON ME!).

30 minutes passes and I'm busy writing this entry, going on facebook... waiting for them to come back because, believe it or not, this isn't a one-woman show.
Finally they come back.
Nice to know they too a good break, had a chat, y'know.
"So, how did you go when we were gone?" one asks me, cheerfully. As though it's expected that I was here, trucking away while they fucked around.
"Um.. Yeah." Noncommittal. That's the way forward.

So we get some stuff done. Finally one of the girls gets into action (coffee helped her), while the other comes back from the coffee run cold and weird, and spends the next 2 hours (seriously) texting.
So, I get it, maybe not everybody takes this as seriously as me. I like to get things done. I can't help volunteering to edit, or write this, or do that, because I'm a control freak, and if I don't do it, who knows how/if it will get done! So we I spent 5 hours today (again, literally) working on this group assignment. I think I probably had help for about a cumulative total of an hour. Maybe it's my fault- maybe I don't relinquish control. I don't know.

But really, I just lost a shitload of points on a different assignment because I didn't include page numbers in my references, and I kind of like to do well.
And now I'm worried about the lack of page numbers in the assignment I handed in this morning. No lecturer has ever picked me up on this before.  But apparently this is enough of an offense to 'deduct points'. Well, Mr. Nit-picking 'Health and Wellbeing' teacher, my health and wellbeing is suffering. HAS suffered. Greatly.
Also, you're an ass.

Got to love University, right?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

won't somebody please think of the children...!!!

I read this article this morning in The Age, which is Victoria's 'more respected of the two options' when it comes to Newspapers.
And something welled up in me that compelled me to write an entry here, for all the good it would do... but the ideas were (and hopefully still are) circling around in my brain, begging to get down into words. So here goes.

Incase you can't be bothered reading the article, it basically bemoans the fact that children aren't being taught bible stories any more. *gasp!*.
Before i go on, also, I know religion is a touchy subject. I'm not religious. I went to an Anglican Christian school, I'm technically Jewish (blood line, yada yada yada), and I don't believe in anything. That being said, everything I write here is obviously my opinion and hopefully I won't offend people- it's just the way see things.

Wouldn't this make a great children's story? {via}

Ok, so, children aren't being taught religious stories in school, and the article says that this is a damn shame because children miss out on learning some of the valuable lessons from the stories and go on to become immoral and corrupt citizens. That last part may be my inclusion but it may as well have said that.
Some guy is quoted as saying: "Without what the Greeks called mythos or story, we have no way of orienting ourselves in life, either as a people or as individuals".
Yes. Stories are good. Agreed. Massages are also good, agreed. In the 2001 census, 20% of people identified as Anglican, 20% as Catholic and 20% as 'other Christian', so the majority of the population runs as Christian.  Ok, so of that 60%, 23% of them 'participated in some religious activity' in the 3 months prior to the census. So, we're a lot of us Christian, and not  a lot of us 'practicing' it.
Which brings me, I suppose, to my unease, because I know what can happen with things like this, and it would be suddenly the job of teachers to teach the 'real meaning' of Easter. Because, in my class of impressionable little minds, I would feel a hypocrite teaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus. I learned about it in school myself. One of their selling points in this article is that children take from the Easter story a message of hope. That they can use the lessons learned in the Easter story as a way to find strength in difficult times. They say in the article that kids these days only care about chocolate brought by a bunny.
I learned the Easter story.
I sung Christian songs.
I said the Lords' prayer every Thursday in assembly...
And yet, Easter for me means chocolate and a long weekend.

So I feel that this article is a thinly veiled way to try and bring the 'dominant religion' in to children's lives (or they'll be damned, or something) and make it 'normal'. Make it 'the proper religion', and if you practice anything else, or believe in anything else, then you're abnormal and don't fit in with our culture in this country. They try and disguise this through the importance of 'the message' or the importance of 'the story', but I can tell you there are plenty of beautiful stories with beautiful messages floating around for children that don't involve a diety that they may or may not want to believe in.
I suppose this all links to a different article I read about religious education in government schools. Government schools have to be, by design, secular. Some of them have 'religious education' or RE. These RE classes are usually always run by a Christian group. Should a student's parent forget to 'opt out' (not in) to these classes, they learn the Christian way. They don't learn about a diverse range of religious which I think is really valuable and is something that kids should learn - we did, in year 7, and it was great... bur they learn about Christianity. If a child does opt out, there's a clause in a law somewhere saying that they're not allowed to go on with other work... so... they end up sitting in the back of the class (apparently) or out in the hall, or sharpening pencils.
So, I don't know enough about this to read between the lines and figure out how much of it is glorified or not, but it seems so strange to me that RE would be taught by volunteers from a Christian organization, where kids aren't allowed to go off and do some other learning while this is taking place. Again, doesn't this create such an 'us' and 'them' sort of mantra... as in: if you don't believe this way, you don't exist?

So, people, here's an idea. Let's teach about religions, not religion. Let's teach about tolerance. Let's teach about hope, and respect, and helping one another. Let's model these things, and encourage them within ourselves and within kids and students and others. Let's teach about Aboriginal stories, because they, too, have beautiful stories and myths, and are sort of technically 'the religion of Australia', even if not as many people believe those things. Let's teach about Buddhism and some of the mindfulness and stillness practices it brings. Let's teach about the strength of community, about loving one another and ourselves. Let's just not rely on one religion, Christian or otherwise, to impart the values or morals we wish children to develop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

bird song...

A flock of Currawongs (birds!) have moved into our neighbouthood recently and it's made me exceptionally happy because the noise of these birds is synonymous with some of my fondest memories.
They're birds usually found up in the mountain areas and so, when we went hiking with Dad as kids, we'd wake to the sounds of these birds through the trees. At highschool, I was able to go on a horse-riding camp 5 years in a row, and you'd wake up in a chilly tent, the ground outside covered in dew, a low fog hanging over everything, a herd of horses snuffling nearby, and currawongs and bellbirds calling from the hills nearby.
They make me feel like I'm a little further removed from suburbia. Like I could step out my front door and see hills and trees instead of typically Australian brick-veneer houses.

I originally thought they were butcherbirds, but after a massive search, I've been proved otherwise!
Here's what I'm hearing (I didn't make this movie- I WISH our house looked out onto this forest):

This is a bellbird, also reminding me of crisp mountain mornings, or waking up in a tent somewhere beautiful.

Nic is 'dating' me tonight- I'm currently banned from the kitchen while he prepares something tasty for dinner. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

the shape of life, in general.

So, in short, this is how things are:

  • Yesterday I ran 5km for the first time in a month. I'd changed my running gate from heel-strike to forefoot strike after doing a bit of reading and deciding that going that route would be better. It has been better because somehow it's made running less effort and chore- less difficult. That being said, I've had to build up slowly - starting by doing 1.5km, then 2km, then 3, then 3.7, then 4, 4.3, and yesterday 5km. Because forefoot strike actually requires you to move using your calf muscles, achillies, etc, rather than relying on your skeleton to absorb the shock, I've had to build up strength in muscles I (didn't realise that I) never used much before.
  • As a byproduct of this, and everything else, I more or less constantly have sore muscles somewhere. I think in the last month I've had one 'rest-day', where I probably still took Mal for a walk. It's good on one hand cos I feel super buff, but on the other- I'm sore, somewhere, all the time. 
  • That being said, I've managed to lose 1kg (2.2 pounds) in maybe... 2 months? Which is pitiful. I haven't written much about the weight-loss thing here. There's been a few people whose blogs I read frequently who put the weight-loss thing more eloquently than I thought I could. Let's just say that in November 2009 I was at 56kg - a weight I'd been dieting and exercising to get to. My 'ideal' weight.... November 2010, Nic and I ate our weight in bagels and donuts in the US, and I came home at 65kg, having left at about 60kg. I'd really like to get there again, and ideally back to 56. But, my god, if it's taking me a kg every 2 months, it's going to take a year and a half. Ouch. I feel like I look better than I did, but then I wonder if I'm making things up just to boost my self-esteem.
  • I also want to keep running. Like, every day. But my Achilles/ankle/calf is saying: NOOOO. And I must obey. I've been forgetting lately that I'm not indestructible, like, if I injure myself, I could actually injure myself, in a big way. I just have to keep that in mind.
  • Next week, I have 2 assignments due. I'm fairly confident that one is mostly finished, and the other shouldn't require me to do too much more. 
  • I think it's time to pull out my tomato plants. -sadface-
  • Mallei came on the run yesterday with me, and today he's laying down like an old man with sore bones. Maybe he's suffering as much as me?
  • The kitten refuses to believe in letting anyone sleep in. Not only did she "MEE" outside the door and throw herself at it this morning, when Nic let her in, she decided it was time to play, and pounce the door-hinges (way up high) on the inside. 
  • I've been feeling a bit distant/disconnected lately. It's a growing feeling. I don't know whether I can put it down to hormones (uh, yeah, actually, I probably can), or being at home all day, and/or feeling guilty when I don't do a thousand chores at home, and then feeling obliged to make dinner because Nic's been at work all day and it's not fair if I don't cook. And it's stupid to feel like this because I know he doesn't expect it, and that he'd be happy to cook, but I feel like... if I've been home all day, working on assignments, reading Uni crap, going for runs, reading blogs, only getting out of my PJs to go for said run... then who am I to ask Nic, when he gets home from work, having put up with annoying colleagues, answered a hundred emails (this is his job at the moment, btw), having battled traffic to get home, having probably gone to the gym on the way home... who am I then to ask him if he could please cook because I'm too tired? I think part of the disconnectedness as well is coming from this routine we've fallen into lately, more than normal. The come home-dinner-tv-shows-bed, rinse and repeat routine. Like we need to... have a nice dinner, without the tv, or go out and get Asian food, or cook some popcorn and watch a movie inside if we're feeling too poor to actually pay $17 each for a movie ticket (or maybe $14, if we go on a Tuesday).
  • That being said, had it not been for a bit of a shop I did the other night (new PJs since my old ones were literally falling to tatters, a couple of shirts for this weird autumn weather that isn't really hot, or cold), I'd be rocking the budget this fortnight. Alas, shopping gets the better of me.
  • Nic's Dad has flown in from Hong Kong. A few months ago he was asking when would be the best time for him to come, and we said: "Not this week (now), and not the Easter week. Any other time is fine". So.... he landed today. Subsequently he isn't staying on my futon on account of those two assignments I mentioned earlier, and the spare/futon room doubling as my study office/assignment writing lair. So I suppose we'll see him at some point for dinner. 
  • The other day I started kind of planning our honeymoon. Is it a little sad that I think I'm more excited about the honeymoon (Europe, baby!) than I am about the wedding itself? Is this bad? "Planning" insofar as I plotted a potential route through some places we were interested in, then guestimated how many nights we might like to spend in each of those places, then tallied the total to see what we were looking at. Might have to read my Europe book again... which I think a friend still has! Must get that back.
  • I've been looking (sort of) at dresses for the wedding again. I'm not going to say 'wedding dresses' because I'm strongly getting the sense that I won't be in a 'wedding dress', but maybe a bridesmaids dress, or one of these convertible ones (maybe even in the ocean colour.) or something from a designer that isn't touted as a 'wedding dress'. I kind of really like the convertible one... I could wear it again! Like, really. In a different style. Buahaha. 

And that is all. Also, it's friday! Happy friday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I was going to do a "Tasty Tuesday" post yesterday when I made a peach and passionfruit cobbler.
Then I realized it was Wednesday.
I suppose I could do 'Tasty Thursday" but it doesn't have the same ring.

The other day our literacy tutor posted up a link to this blog, which I have subsequently spent many hours traipsing through- trialing out resources, sites, games, activities... making comics and story books and mind-maps... It's awesome.
And I realise more and more that I think, for now, lower primary is where I'm at. I want to get kids to that fluent reading level. I want to be able to still read stories with them, but to also write stories, too. So, I don't necessarily want Prep kids who don't know their alphabet, but also not year 6 kids who probably know more math than I do.
But the funny thing is, is that it's through our literacy classes that we're learning (very small amounts) about ICT, and how we can use it. We're going to do stuff on digital storytelling/storybooks, multiliteracies, etc. Other subjects have touched on it, sure. Our maths teacher keeps saying: "You can do this or that on an Interactive whiteboard", but funnily, most of us have never used one. Or if we have, it's in a really fundamental, basic way. Like putting text up, or drawing on it like an actual whiteboard.
Lots more education-y rant below...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

kitten conversations...

It's a wet, drizzly day again here in Melbourne. Seems like autumn has finally hit. Bye bye sunshine, hello rugging up. Secretly, I'm a big fan of the colder months? Jackets? Scarves? Gloves? Hats?! Love them. I do love pretty summery dresses, but only for so long. Brightening up my outfit with a scarf brings me joy.
As does not waxing my legs for an obscenely long time because, hey, it's cold, who's going to see my legs anyway!?

Winter is for cuddling on the couch...

This morning Nic got up and snuck out and I'd had a pretty rough morning's sleep between getting a sore back (and various other muscles, thanks exercise), the kitten purring for cuddles, needing to pee, and the kitten scratching in her litter box for 15 minutes as she had a panic attack because she couldn't cover up the smell.
I'm a seriously light sleeper- these things wake me up, and then I have a horrible time getting back to sleep again.
So anyway, Nic got up, let Mallei out, then shut him back in the bedroom with me so I could sleep in a little while longer. Otherwise he gets sad and paces the hall back and forth because he's a momma's-boy and y'know, might be missing out on my love or something. So Nic probably would have gotten up at 6.45 or so. At 7am, pretty much on the dot... there comes a squeak outside my door. Like:
Oh no.
Just... go back to sleep. She'll give up eventually.
And then she starts throwing herself at the door.
Thud, scrabble, scratch.

Best resting place, ever.

Nic eventually comes, knowing this will go on unless she gets in. I say to him that we shouldn't let her in because she's going to keep doing this for the rest of her life if she gets her way and we'll never be able to sleep in ever again.
After the door was opened, the toddles in and sits in the threshold, looking perplexed. From the kitchen she sounded like she had been in mortal pain. Like, if she didn't get in that room with me and Mal, the world was going to encapsulate itself into a vortex, and the last sounds we would hear would be
"Meeeeeeeeeeeee......" trailing off into the depths of space.

She has a habit of doing this, though. We're still learning when she's actually meowing for a reason, or when she's just having fun making noise (like a very young child, I told you!). 99% of the time, it's the latter. Often I'll be sitting in the couch, and from the bathroom I'll hear:
"Mee!" (I'm using "mee" because she never seems to follow-through with the noise. She forgets the end sound.)
"Mee mee!?!"
And I'll get up and go look.
She's sitting on the bathroom counter.
That's it.
Just sitting there. When I walk in, she stands up, happy that I've come to pay attention to her. Usually I walk out.
Or when I'm in the kitchen and she's on her scratch-pole, literally 5 feet from where I'm cooking.
I look over. She's just laying there on the top platform, tail swishing a little maybe, eyes big and expectant, watching me. Then she opens her mouth and no noise comes out. This is a meow she's done since we got her. Like opening her mouth is enough- why go to all the trouble of making noise, particularly if she's purring.

 Mia & I. Remember that luxurious rug I wrote about, that makes her brain explode? She's on it. She spends many, many hours sleeping on this rug.

Over Easter, while we're going to Bright, we've asked my Mum to look after both her and Mallei. It'll be a bit of an interesting scenario actually, because in their house then will be Mum's 14 year old Aussie shepherd, who is deaf and somewhat blind, and who is also Mallei's Uncle... there'll be Mal, then there's Mum's 14 year old cat Fudge, who looks a fair bit like Mia, actually (tortoiseshell), who hasn't lived with another cat for probably 10 years... and then there'll be Mia, who is brave, but hasn't seen other cats since she was a kitten, but who may also just want to play with Fudge, all the time. I'm hoping that by having her very best-buddy there, our little kitten (she's 6 months old now!!! Still a kitten, right?) won't be so stressed out. She'll be there for 5 days, and Mum's using it as an experiment to see how Fudge goes with a kitten, to see if my brother can get one for himself.
So that ought to be fun. Hopefully they'll be ok.
She can interupt someone else's sleep for  a week.

(Also: They're totally cuddling right now, Mal and Mia. She has paws around his neck, eyes closed. Occasionally she'll lick his face, or he hers... Then he looks over at me, asking if he's done a good job.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

joys of photoshop...

I met up with a girlfriend today that for whatever reason I hadn't seen in months. Too long. She's the one I met up with in Europe, used to joke with at work, sung songs with at work, talked about boys with.. Suppose she's the closest thing I'd have to a 'Maid of honor' if I go down that route.

Anyhoo, I saw her today and she said she wanted to get me an engagement present for when we have our party, or even give us money if that will help. Well, it would, but we'd probably be lame and spend it on petrol or something stupid.
So as we browsed some homewares in a couple of different stores, and oo'ed and aah'ed over picture frames, a thought struck me.
She's a great artist, as far as I know. I've seen her drawings, and they're pretty fantastic. One of my favourite things about my house is that I have actual paintings up. Except for the canvas picture we got from ikea, we have actual hand-painted pictures. Granted, some were bought from Hong Kong by Nic's Dad from mass-producers, but it's ok. I can handle that. The bright blue and red Snoopy picture is cute. It goes with our couch.
Anyway, I mentioned this to her, and how, if it wouldn't be a huge huge effort, I would love to have more artwork in my house. Particularly painted by her. What sort of art? She asked. I figure, abstract can be nice, but I'm picky, and sometimes it just looks like a whole lotta not-much. Landscape? Yeah, that could work. Then I thought about some of the photos I've taken on our travels and thought- well, that could work! So I need to print her a picture to use.
And I'm looking through my pictures and being a bit whelmed by them all, but I stumble on a couple from one of our first Grampians trips that I must have deemed 'unsalvagable'. As in, they're nice, but clicking "Enhance" in iphoto doesn't make them spectacular.
I found one with this beautiful mountain-range in the background but it was washed out and kinda crummy... So thought I'd put it over in photoshop and just have a toy around.
I've taught myself how to use photoshop, so I'm no pro, and it's probably way overdone and saturated, but... it's better than it was, I think. So here we go, before & after:

Hazy mountains & stupid weird rock in the foreground otherwise spoiling what could have been a nice shot...

 Rock still there but not so noticeable. Sky a crazy shade of blue, and rocks the colour of the rocks in the Grampians.

Anyway, I doubt I'll get her to paint that one in particular, but it was fun playing around, particularly since it took me all of 15 minutes. Then I got distracted by making the clouds pink 'like dawn', or putting a magenta wash over it. Haha.

Happy weekend, all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

lunch ladies

Today I went and had tea and cake with my step-grandmother (let's call her Joanne), my aunt (by marriage)(We'll call her Liza), and my Dad's partner, S (fooooorrr... Suzanne! That'll do), who is visiting Melbourne for a week.
I think it was an interesting feeling, sitting with 3 women who are 'outsiders', in a way, to 'my family'. So, I hadn't seen either Joanna or Liza for probably 4 or 5 years. And at that point it would have been very very briefly at a Christmas party and I would have probably said 'hi', before I wandered off. They figured out this was the last time- I thought it was when my Grandpa died when I was 9..ish, and we had the funeral. Maybe not, but that's what it felt like.
Brief history: Joanne married my Poppa as a second marriage, I was old enough to be a flower girl but not old enough to remember the wedding... So, they weren't together long before Poppa died of brain cancer. Apparently Joanne used to come with my Poppa to babysit me since I was born, up until he passed away, but I never remember he being there. For me, she was never 'really' part of our family.
Liza is technically my 'great-aunt', having married my Poppa's brother. And Suzanne and Dad have been together for maybe... er... 8 years now? And it was only on my trip to their place last year that I had grown up enough to realize she wasn't a horrible monster and that she was really, really good for my Dad.
So there's the scene. That's what I mean by 3 women who are 'outside' the family. It was just interesting to me that they were all tied to that blood- blood in me, but didn't have it themselves, you know what I mean?
But anyway, we talked about life, and weddings, and family, and Nic, and my brother, and food... It was nice. Really nice. Joanne and Liza often travel together- they've gone halfway around the world (and Australia) and back together. I just loved seeing that that friendship was still going. I hope I have that one day, in a woman. I love Nic, he's my best friend, but sometimes it'd be nice to have a woman companion, too.
This is a rock wallaby. He has nothing to do with anything. I was just reminded yesterday that my posts have been rather wordy lately, and I felt like I needed to break it up some way. He is from Magnetic Island, QLD, and is quite tiny. Also, they all appear to have iddy-biddy smiles on their faces. T'aw. AND LOOK AT HIS LITTLE HANDS. 

And then I came home and did some pilates/yoga in front of the TV cos today was hot (wtf autumn!?) and I didn't want to cycle in 30C.

I forgot to mention, but the other night, as we were getting ready to go to sleep, I suddenly realized that I can actually times things by 4.
As in, I suck at timestables, right? 2 3, 5, 9, 10, 11 - fine. 4? Not beyond 5 x 4... 6? Not really, I'll work out what 5 x 6 or 10 x 6 is, and go from there... 7... same thing, 8, same thing. But then I realized that if I need to times something by 4... I can double that number, then double it again. This might sound super lame to all you number people, but suddenly I could work out 6 x 4 without having to go from 5. I could also work out 122 X 4 without much difficulty as well, which is probably more than most people. So, I was excited about this. This brought me one step closer to 'being able to do maths'.
And I told Nic, cos I was excited.
And somehow, we ended up having an argument about timestables.
In bed, arguing about timestables and teaching them.
That surely has to be one of the dumbest arguments going around, right?

And right now I've been struck by a thought...
So, i'm no good with parents. I know right now at School, when parents come, I'm just some random young-looking-person who hangs around and smiles, and talks to the kids, right? But I don't introduce myself because I get shy... I'm really shy about parents. I'm terrified about parents... So here's me and Nic arguing over the best way to teach timestables... and he's someone who has heard and who agrees with most things I say about teaching (usually eventually)... and he just... wouldn't... he wouldn't let me compromise on this... And I'm now thinking: Holy crap, he doesn't even have an investment in this. What about when I get a parent who thinks they know best?!!?
So, maybe all this arguing with Nic will go to a good cause. I'll have already heard all the critiques, already backed up my point of view, already provided evidence...
He'll say he's doing me a favor.

Want another wallaby? You know you do.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

end of term!

School day!!!

It was the last day of term today so things ran a little differently, and as I'm in it, there's so many things I think of that I want to remember and talk about later, but then so much else happens that I forget the original things.

Originally, when I got there, I got stung by a bee. Awesome. Luckily it was like: OW PAIN!! FLAIL!!! And then like: there's a bee on the ground! I think cos of my super-quick-awesome-ninja-reflexes, I flicked the bee off before his stinger got in me. He got me on the wrist, and bee-stings I've had in the past have puffed up massively. So, like a little kid, I went to the sick bay and got some lavender oil and tried not to cry (remember that thing about how I cry at everything? Yup. Prospect of super-puffed-up-hand all day? Not a happy camper. But I didn't cry. Go me.), and watched it and watched it, and lo-and-behold, it didn't puff up. You can actually hardly tell I got stung at all, which has made it the least dramatic bee sting of my entire life. Sorry bee, but you died for nothing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

we'll celebrate our differences! but only if you're black.

Man, the title of this post sounds horrible. Please read it in context.

This morning was our literacy class, which is run by an awesome, awesome lady from CA, who did her thesis on race politics in classrooms, and is really in that 'sphere' of race, and literacies, etc. That's where she is. So, we skipped over a lesson on teaching handwriting (read: we didn't do it, because it's not what she does. Let me divert a moment here before I go on to my main point. She doesn't do it, yes, but we will. At some point, I will need to teach kids how to write. Not 'how to write' in the broad scope of 'learning to write a narrative', but in actually forming the letters. This is a b. Don't confuse it with a d. That kind of thing. Our one lesson in our degree on teaching handwriting, and we're not doing it. And this is a ridiculous thing: we're in a 2 year Masters course, and we get 1 measly semester of literacy and numeracy, which make up, what, 80% of the primary curriculum? Had we done a bachelor of ed. we would have had 4 years of this stuff. I'm feeling a little underprivileged. I'm feeling like if I have any 2 hour breaks next semester, that I'm going to find a literacy or numeracy B.Ed. class and sit in on it. Is that uber-nerdy? Yes. Do I want to know as much as I can before the future of these kids rests in my hands? Yes. When kids come out of my class writing "th3 bog i5 dlacR" (the dog is black) because they get their e's, d's, b's, and k's all messed up (or whatever it happens to be), then that's my fault. Anyway, not the point) so we could talk about being white.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

play-dough numbers.

I didn't write anything yesterday. I didn't have anything to say, and it probably should have been favourite things monday but I was at class for most of the day and the other part was spent cycling to class, or watching online movies. About education.
That's not even a joke.
How do I spend my spare time? After I've read through my favourite blogs (y'know, the wedding or life ones), I actually do Uni work. Or watch clips about education. Or do independant research,
While my cohort has read one chapter of our many books and articles that we're supposed to have read (I'm not making this up), and those same people haven't started the assignment due on Monday... I've done that assignment, done my readings, and am researching, independently, things that I find interesting. About education.
Can anyone spell
Well done, grade 2.

Anyhoo. Just for fun I went to School this morning because they have a bit more of a structured literacy or numeracy lesson.
Or so I thought.
(Dun dun dunnn).

Sunday, April 3, 2011


You guys that have been reading for a little while know I am constantly in a dilemma about where we're going to live once I finish school.
You may also recall that we were looking at travelling to Australia's capital over Easter to see if it had potential, but that the trip turned out to be too expensive.
Then we talked about going hiking in the mountains since they're too far to go for a regular weekend (4-5 hours), but not too far compared to going out of state.
Anyhoo, the other day, I did a bit of research on grants they give to graduating teachers willing to work in rural schools- schools most people don't want to go to because they're challenging and far away. Now I'd said I think working in a rural school would be kind of neat- it'd be a great little community, they probably have a veggie garden, you might have more opportunities to do things your own way... you know, it's different.
So I did this research and found out that there is, indeed, a scholarship program for new teachers wanting to go to 'priority schools', whereby you get $7,000 upfront just for going there, plus you get paid from Jan 1st (schools don't start until Feb), plus if you stay for a 2nd year, you get an extra $4,000 bonus. Sweet. I like money.
Somehow it came about that I mentioned to Nic that we should go look at this town up at the foothills of the mountains called Bright. There's a few little towns around there, this one has 2,200 people, so it's not just a pub (do you guys have pubs??) and a postoffice. And I told him about this scholarship...
Then the talk got really serious, in a good way. Like:
"Dude, Bright is really beautiful, and check out these mountains, and you can go hiking and skiing (and you don't have to drive 4 hours) and kayaking and swimming in the creeks and streams and horse riding! And look, I'd get $11,000 extra just for working there... And since Bright and that area is a complete tourist area all year, basically, there'll be cafes and restaurants and shops, which is what we want, but only it'll be a nice community... And there'll be mountains!! And sometimes it snows".
And we had a quick look at real-estate online, just for fun, and there's affordable places there! Still like... $300,000 for a house, but that's 'affordable' for here... Or you can get a block of land, for under $200,000 (can't do that anywhere within an hour of Melbourne any more) and then you could build.
And we could plant fruit trees and get chickens, and maple trees, and elms and oaks and they'd change colour in fall, and I could have a horse because there's heaps of forest up there where horses are allowed...
And suddenly it's exciting...
And we haven't gotten there yet, we'll be there over easter... and we might hate it... But... we're super excited that there's this new possibility.Yay!

I have a kitten sitting on my stomach now purring away so I can't see the screen any more.

Also Nic and I rearranged the whole living room today. Again.
We do this every 2 or 3 months, I swear. We want to change one thing. One little thing. I said: "I wish the bins were somewhere else, hidden" today, and BAM, our living-room/dining area looks completely different now. Thankfully we didn't go to ikea to get something for the change this time. I think we have about as much stuff as anyone could ever want (bad us, I know), but... we love to do this. I'm loving how it is though. It's made our space much brighter, more open, our big bookshelf with all my books and our photos of adventure is now a feature of the room instead of a weird thing. That being said, any friends who come here for dinner once every couple of months must think we're insane. Anyone else do this? Random and frequent massive upheavals of furniture and room design?
Poor Mal mopes around the whole time thinking we're about to up and leave him.

Friday, April 1, 2011

there's been a lot of rain lately...

My Dad cracks me up.

We've been organizing flights for me to go up and visit him in Townsville over winter (so, June). We booked them the other day, knowing Nic wouldn't be able to get that much time off work to come up with me, I was just going to leave him with Mia and Mallei and have a holiday up there all by my lonesome.

Last night (a couple of nights after we'd booked the tickets), my phone rings- it's Dad.  Now, you have to kind of imagine a typically jovial, dorky Dad, who's funny without meaning to be, because he's a dork, but Aussie, ok?

Here is me and Dad, back in the day, with a koala. I don't think they let you hold them like this anymore. Liability and all. He no longer has the beard. I have more hair. T'aw.

"Hey Dad!"
"Oh! G'day Em!"
"...How're you?" (I'm puzzled as to why he's calling, since I spoke with him only a couple of days ago and we tend to have once-a-fortnight catchups. It works for us. I thought he might be calling because I'd sent an email asking whether he knew any good places for a couple-nights hike over Easter, since he's done a lot more hiking than we have, and knows the trails better.).
"Good, good thanks. It's been raining a lot here! Good thing you're not coming up now! We've had 600mm of rain!"
I'm thinking: He's calling me to tell that a tropical part of this country is raining? During the wet season? Really?
"Oh... Well, good thing!"
"Yeah.... I haven't been able to play the back 9 holes of our golf course if 5 months! It's been flooded!"
(As a side note, apparently there's a crocodile that lives in a pond on their golf-course. I'm kind of glad they haven't been allowed down there) At this point, I think Nic said my face was like: You're calling to tell about the weather, wtf?
"Oh no!"
"Yep. And the club's really struggling for money now because nobody can play the holes that they're thinking of having a trivia competition!" Said like it was a terrible offense to mankind.
"Well... that'll be fun?"
"They were trying to think of ways to raise money, so someone suggested this trivia night, and I said 'Why don't we have a hole-in-one competition on my hole?' which is the one I look after (he does the gardening on it) and the best hole in the golf course, but nobody's been able to get there for 5 months because it's all muddy and swamp! Haha!!"
"Yeah! The other day, I tried to go to the post-office, and I had to wade through 2 feet of water to get there!!!"
"Ha! How about that!? You're not getting floods or anything are you?"
There's a momentary silence, like I'm an idiot.
"No, no, you know, it just rains here!" (You'll notice I finish every one of his sentences with an exclamation mark. It's like that, really).
"Oh. Well, yeah, it's the rainy season, I guess. You're used to it..." Still waiting to get to the point.
"So, uh, I just logged on to my email, and I saw about the easter trip, so I'll email you about that later...But, do you think Nic might like to come up for the long weekend?!" (I'm going up over a long weekend, and then some)
"Well, yeah, of course he would, but that's only 3 days! He could easily get at least 2 days off work..!" So here is my Dad, offering to buy my fiance tickets for a 5 hour flight to come visit him for 3 days.
"Well, it'd be nice to see Nic! So if he came up on Saturday and left on Monday, that'd be pretty good!"
Sometimes he doesn't hear what I say, my father.
"He could come up a couple more days, Dad, that won't be a problem. Maybe he could fly up with me, and just go home a bit earlier!"
So he goes and looks online and tells me he'll book them, to which I have to slow him down, make sure Nic can get the time off work before the non-refundable tickets are booked.
At the end of the conversation, everything comes in a rush:
"Ok, well call me tomorrowoktalktoyousoonloveyoubye!!!"
And I think, again, yep. My Dad rocks. He's bough/buyingt tickets for both of us... and this 'love you' at the end of each phone call? I think that started creeping in there around about the time of Cyclone Yasi.
On that though, my brother didn't call.
He didn't call before the cyclone, and I don't think he called immediately after the cyclone.
But anyhoo. That's the story of how Nic is coming up to Queensland with me, assuming he can get the time off, which shouldn't be an issue.

Me, in a box. I don't know why. For a guy who didn't want to be a Dad up until the point where I was actually born, I think he did ok.  

I was going to write a nice deep post about how we talked a little about cheating and the 'd-word' (Nic said: "Dumped?!?!?!" and I said: "Uh... the married version of that, yes" .. "Ooohhh. Divorce.") last night, and what came of that, but, well, this was more fun. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. No Post-school day post today because I didn't go yesterday. I was tired and didn't feel up to it and had a headache most of the morning so it's probably a good thing. Next week though, there will be more School antics. Also another Tasty Tuesday (maybe our gnocchi recipe that we'll be doing tonight) and I'm making a bit of a kitten-growing-up-and-antics video as well, but I'm missing some bits, so I'll do that eventually.
Happy Friday (well, for some of us) y'all.