Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back To School and James Bond Jackaroo

We are back in the schoolroom after the kids returned from camp - the 3 hour drive home with four kids in the back had us in hysterics at the going-on of a grade five camp! Term 2 is upon us and we've started learning about the media, what 'bias' and 'assertions' are, evidence, points of view and opinions, as well as some geometry in maths (translations, rotations and reflections anyone?)

Collecting the kids off the bus at LSODE after their camp to Magnetic Island

Before we left to head south over the school holidays I spent a day cleaning and organising the schoolroom from top to toe. Packing up last term's work, sorting through the mountain of textas, pencils, crayons, staplers, sharpeners and going through all the books in the reading corner bookshelf. This is the disaster zone before...

Stuff of nightmares, I know. Please don't judge me! Things got just a tad hectic by the end of term trying to finish work off. I tried to find a home for everything and organised my little heart out until I came up with something more to my liking. Clear desks and clutter free, hopefully means the kids (and I) can concentrate a bit better.

The reading corner of the schoolroom is generally where Tom does his school work (he refuses to sit at his desk so sits in his red chair, sometimes with an iPod on, mostly playing with stress balls and blu-tack). The big bookshelf holds all the reading books, reference books, craft and drawing books and books from the school library. We sit here on the reading mat after lunch and read a book together, last term it was Enid Blyton's 'The Magical Wishing Chair'. To say the bookshelf was in need of some attention was probably an understatement...

Now it's a more organised place to sit and do our work, read stories together and find exactly what we need...

When we were in Longreach picking the kids up from camp Kristy and I got some beanbag chairs to put in the reading corner also. So far they've been a hit, with Maddy now choosing to do most of her work down there with Tom. A lot of people ask me if this sort of teaching is actually a hindrance to the kids for when they go to a 'real' school and have to sit in a 'real' classroom. Probably, but at the moment it's a means to an end!

We had a bit of medical drama this week as Maddy stepped on a screw and had it stuck in her foot. After much hysteria and crying, a phone call to a neighbour who is a nurse, we pulled it out and she now sports a bit of a limp but I've assured her we won't put her down just yet ;) No netball this Friday though, but it has also started raining today and turned cold - I think the inland Queensland winter is finally here.

The patient recovering on the couch with 'Flopsy' and nurse Tom

Matt had a bit of excitement this week also. Ok, that's the understatement of the year - he came home from work grinning from ear to ear. They have been mustering this week using a contracted helicopter, Matt got a flat tyre on his motorbike, not unusual so he kept riding, then he bent the steering rod (or something??) so had to abandon ship and start walking. Chopper pilot must've taken pity on the poor soul and landed to pick him up and take him back to the yards. The others were having some trouble with some non-compliant cows and weaners though so Matt actually got to 'go to work' in the chopper whilst mustering, jumping in and out to help Alex and Glenn tie some weaners and then jump back in the chopper. So basically he now thinks he is some sort of James Bond jackaroo. Luckily he did have his little camera in his pocket that day though and managed to snap some of these...

He also got these ones once he had his feet back on solid ground. Lots of people have asked us what the country is like around Alpha so hopefully these give you an idea. The last one may or may not have had some help from Matt's lovely photographer wife :)

Back in the schoolroom I have been really surprised and proud at how the kids are tackling their new work. It seems something may have clicked! Yesterday Tom asked me if I had ever been a teacher before, I said no but I had been a nanny, he said well how do you know how to teach us things so well? Maybe I'm not doing such a bad job at 'winging' it!

Yesterday we whizzed through two days worth of maths as well as spelling before smoko (unheard of!)  and then tackled a day of English and I set them a 'special task' of writing a persuasive piece. First, I had to introduce what the heck 'persuasive writing' was before letting them write for a full hour. Kristy and I were really pleased and surprised at the level of their thinking and writing - great stuff!

Maddy learning about 'rotation, reflection and translation' with shapes in maths this week

Tom with his new best friend 'Speckles' in his red chair in the schoolroom

Miss Emma's way of totally bamboozling the kids - well so I thought until they actually understood it and wrote something! 
Matt and I are off to Longreach tomorrow for a little tourist activity at the Stockman's Hall of Fame and Qantas museum. We haven't really done anything like that since being here at Malden so I'm really looking forward to it. The Sparrow's are off to the races in Emerald, unfortunately at the moment it is steadily raining.

Another jam-packed week in the schoolroom for me and branding in the yards for Matt next week before we head to Yeppoon for Beef 2012 next weekend. Another roadtrip!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Easter Down South

We went for a sneaky trip home to Victoria over Easter and the school holidays, for Matt's cousin's wedding which I was photographing and my niece Violet's baptism mainly, but also a bonus to get a dose of Melbourne culture and see some family we've been missing!

A 7am departure from Malden on Good Friday and heading north through Clermont to Mackay was called for, which I was really looking forward to after travelling up here and then still having the travel bug! It was a road we hadn't been on before and were surprised at how the country changed very quickly. Also passed all the mines etc. through Moranbah and into Mackay. We flew out of Mackay to Brisbane, only just made our connecting flight and arrived to a cold and windy Melbourne. Brrrr!

Good coffee + The Age = bliss to this little Melbournian
Easter weekend was spent with my sister, brother-in-law, their three girls and my mum in Williamstown. An egg hunt in the backyard, Easter Sunday mass, a spot of shopping in the city and an engagement session through the botanic gardens, the city and Luna Park with Matt's bestie and his love. 

Home to Thorpdale where it was freeeeeeeeezing! (Surprise surprise). But lots of soup and knitting by the fire with my mum which was awesomely blissfull. I'm a rager, I know. Caught up with school friends for dinner and of course my little dog Tessa who is being 'fostered' by my bestie and her husband whilst we galavant around the country. I miss Tess a lot! I'm not sure the feelings are reciprocated however, she is getting very well looked after at Aunty Lisha and Uncle Dan's!

We made our way down to Matt's parents at Inverloch, who are living in Matt's aunty's recently renovated house, 'Shirwell', whilst their house is built next door. Lots had happened since we'd left two months earlier so it was great to see Wes and Wendy's house taking shape, very exciting! A few other things exciting are happening in our family there, Matt's brother and his partner are expecting a baby! A new niece or nephew for us - yay! 

Matt's parents house being built at Inverloch - can't wait for future family dinner's and weekends spent here!

We were also down at Shirwell to celebrate the wedding of Manisha and Yasser. A lot of work was to be done around Shirwell, which was still a bit of a building site from the renovations, and overlooks the building site of Matt's parents house. After a lot of teamwork and big efforts from my lovely husband the wedding was gorgeous, so much love and joy and happiness. 

Whilst in South Gippsland we got to catch up with my favourite Californian and Kiwi and their gorgeous children, they're also expecting a new arrival! Babies, babies, everywhere. Of course we came for a quick coffee and Matt ended up getting the cows in, milking with Nic, you know, the usual workaholic. I preferred the trampoline to the cow shed.

Bouncing with the babes - Gretta, Monty and Baxter.

The Sunday after the wedding we were due back in Williamstown for baby Violet's baptism - let's just say that we won't speak of the events surrounding that Sunday morning (we missed the baptism entirely, which was being held that weekend because were in town). It was a very silent trip from Cranbourne to Williamstown as we realised we would miss it. Ho hum... We did get to spend the day with all five of my nieces however, it's great to see them all play together, such cool little chicks!

An early morning flight back to Mackay, via Sydney, the next morning. I got on the plane kicking and screaming a bit, am starting to think a 'quick trip home' didn't do much for my occasional homesickness! After a big grocery shop in Mackay, a very strategic packing job (because we have Carrie we don't have the sides of Matt's ute tray), setting up Matt's new (expensive grrrr) GPS, we headed the five hours south west back to Malden - a day of travelling from 7am until 10.30pm. 

Sunset driving back to the donga this week

Back to the daily grind here at Malden, the kids have been on camp (we headed to Longreach yesterday to pick them up, three hours there, three hours back) so we will launch back into the schoolroom this week - hopefully with renewed enthusiasm and delight?! Yeah right. Matt's been out mustering this week with the chopper and drafting and branding cattle today, so is as happy as a clam. We did a killer and have fresh meat, which pleases me no end, and so life goes on here at Malden...