Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dear Dash

Recently I read a post by this lovely and inspiring lady, in which she talks about the difficulties she has had learning and the difficulties her son faces too.

This post and my current teacher-y reflections on learning and self perception have turned into this:

Hey Dash,

I know you don't know me and I'm a teacher which means I might represent a lot of things you don't necessarily love but I wanted to write you a little note to cheer you on. (I'm not a perfect teacher, just so you know, but I try not to be The Trunchbull from Matilda either - just a regular get it right sometimes and stuff it up other times kind of teacher.)

So I wanted you to know that learning is difficult. Those kids you're looking at in class who easily cruise through and already know how to do everything... those kids aren't actually learning anything new. They might be practising some skills they already have and getting better at them - and that's okay at school, sometimes. But... if there is never any struggle and frustration then nothing new is actually being learnt.

Now it might seem really nice to cruise through school, and I will confess I was one of those kids - except in PE, you would have totally kicked my butt in PE. However, I promise you that you are going to leave school with skills and understanding I didn't have.

Dash, you know what it is like to look up at the face of a mountain and feel like you have no climbing gear, but, you know that you have climbed this kind of mountain before and conquered it. That struggle, that frustration and pain and the ability to persevere in spite of those, are strengths you are going to have naturally as an adult.

You understand that feeling of conquering a mountain and so when you meet another mountain even though it's tough and you probably want to run away, you know you can make it up there.

When everything comes easy to you as a kid and then again at university you can be sure that when you do come across a task that you don't know how to do and everyone around you seems to know as an adult you feel overwhelmed (like you do sometimes now). As an adult it is a very hard lesson to learn, to find a new way, to keep trying, to ask really dumb questions, because you kind of think - sheesh, I'm an adult I should already know this.

Do I
take a risk, 
ask a question, 
push harder, 
struggle again, 
do it badly rather than not doing it all, 
risk making a fool of myself
or, do I
deflect my inadequacy by playing the fool, 
stop trying anymore, 
shut down, 
run away
generally try to sabotage this whole thing?

Dash I hope that you keep pushing, that you keep trying and that when you look around at a group of friends who aren't struggling at all you take a little moment to tell yourself you've actually learned, or begun to learn something today and they may have only practised.

You are not the only one who is finding it hard and you are definitely not the only one who needs different skills to learn the same stuff.

You have bushwacked your way into creating an entirely new neural pathway and others have just run along a highway that is already there. Whose brain is getting stronger? Who is gaining more self-knowledge to equip them throughout their life? You are.

Learning something new always comes at an effort. All that effort you are investing is making your brain strong, it is increasing your capacity to understand how you learn and it's probably making you a more compassionate and understanding person - which might not seem that great now but it will really make you a great boyfriend to someone in the future!

There is no elite athlete, artist, lawyer, doctor, researcher, successful person who has not run at some point straight into something that was too hard for them - but their perseverance and their ability to keep at it until it did stick and it did make sense - that's what got them to the top of the podium.

Success in life is not guaranteed by how easy you find academic learning.

I made these images and words today to remind me about not running away from the hard and to remind me to keep trying as a teacher even when it feels like the hardest job in the world. Teaching is about making it hard and easy for everyone. Keep going Dash - as Dr Seuss says "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

Go out and conquer that learning mountain and when all seems too much remember that amazing a-ha feeling when you get it!

Learning is for the brave, and you Dash, you can choose to be brave even when you don't feel like it.


Friday, April 24, 2015

14, 15, 16, 17 - all my boys the holiday edition

So we may have sneakily taken the last week of school term off and gone on an exceedingly long (though not by Australian standards) 12 hour car trip.

Before that we had Grandad to stay because The Atlas had to travel for work and I have a job now which means I can't do morning drop offs or pick ups.

Then we headed Melbourne way (more about that anon) and we managed the trip without meltdowns, vomiting or relationship breakdowns - I can hardly believe it myself!

Then we shared some precious time with our little cousins

Our lives are blessed with the ones who enrich it

relationships with good, good people joy of my heart

love you more than being loaned a travelling DVD player the night before a 12 hour car trip xxx

Thursday, April 23, 2015

16/52 A Swimming Bag 17/52 Red Riding Hood

Very simple make for a special little friend who was turning three and needed his own swimming bag that is capacious (I love that word!) enough for all the bits once clothes, shoes and towel are contained.

Sometimes simple is enough to achieve right?


another little hoop

this time it's red riding hood - it's possibly inspired me for a book week costume too!

I think the next one I might make will be inspired by my Bounce, who is 6.

love you more than energy for creating xxx

Friday, April 10, 2015

Goodbye Sweetheart

If you are wanting a read that tangles around you and makes you think Goodbye Sweetheart by Marion Halligan is a good choice. Although it is very different from The Particular Sadness of Lemoncake, which I reviewed a while ago, it has a similar kind of feel - it's almost dreamlike.

William Cecil father, husband and ex-husband x2 dies and the book is an unravelling of his life and the lives of those who have lost him. Each character is unveiled in their own story and slowly the stories start to come together and we glimpse backwards and forwards between the stories.

This story isn't complicated but it isn't simple and straightforward either. It carries a kind of spirituality through it and examines, subtly, the ways in which we are influenced by others.

This is one I'll be recommending to people who love literature (in the high brow sense of the word) and who like language. Perfect for whiling away afternoons with a view of a stormy sea. Thought provoking in an offbeat way.

The author has published twenty books, of which ten are novels and has received an AM for her services to literature as well as being shortlisted for many awards.

Details - Allen and Unwin March 2015, RRP $29.99 also available as an ebook. 

love you more than a stormy day and a new novel xxx

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Yeah I Made It 15/52 - rainy hoop

So I bought a 3 pack of these and after my princess and the pea I decided to go for a bit of rainy day love.

I know rainy days can be tedious when they stretch on forever and ever and the washing banks up but every now and then it's nice to spend a day listening to the rain drumming on the roof.

I added in the fray drops because I felt like maybe the blue wasn't enough of a contrast - maybe it's still too light and you might have to ogle too hard to get an idea but I like it.

If you want to get your hands on some hoops of your own you can find them online here or I buy mine at E for Ethel cafe. I don't get anything (but love, I assume I get some of that!) for promoting these lovely ladies just happy to give them a holla because they are lovely.

Got any ideas for my next hoop? Do tell - if I get lots of ideas I'll need to buy some new hoops! What about I make one as a giveaway?? What would you want me to make for you?

love you more than a simple project xxx

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Books for Children - new on our shelves

Renowned author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay's new book Any Questions is written as a response to her discussions with children and the questions they ask her about the process of writing a book.

As someone who would love to join the ranks of 'published children's authors' I read this book with my own kinds of interest and questions too.

I love Gay's illustrative style it is whimsical and she creates pages that have an interactive feel to them. Drawing on repeated questions she take the reader on a journey of how she creates and realises stories. This is not a 'how a book gets published' book it is 'how a story comes to life' story.

I think it will appeal to children's natural curiosity and the ranks of story writers and wannabe illustrators (children seem much more honest and upfront about these desires!) who frequent the average classroom. Children are natural storytellers, mine are anyway, and I think this book would be a great jumping off point for teachers and daydreamers. I would have loved this book as a child.

Bounce really enjoyed reading it with me and was especially engaged with the illustrations which provide lots of discussion opportunities.

Details - Allen and Unwin March 2015 RRP $19.99 HB

Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein and illustrated by Judy Watson is a book I know I will use with young children for dance and drama.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and capture the movement and colours of a storm perfectly.

What I love about this story is that it is each member of the family who becomes a part of the storm and I can see children wanting to imitate this with their own extended family.

It's one I think grandparents would love to buy and share and is a perfect read for little people who love to move, make noise and be involved in a great big group collaboration.

The interaction between the text and the illustrations really enhances the overall narrative.

Details - Allen and Unwin March 2015 RRP $24.99, also available as an ebook

love you more than a little daydream in the midst of a hectic day xxx

from time to time I get the opportunity to also interview some of the authors and illustrators - what questions would you want answers for?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bunny Buns

Loaf of bread or bunny buns?

I used my favourite simple Sophie Grey bread recipe to produce a batch of bunnies.

Shape buns, use a skewer and some scissors and you have yourself a set of awkward and slightly scary looking 'bunny buns'. (The ones on pinterest looked much more inviting but hey these will be a good benchmark for you - no need to try to fly too high now!)

The boys (all) loved them.

Sometimes it really is the simple things!

love you more than a fresh bunny bun with melted butter xxx

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lighter Reading

Last year a friend lent me Josephine Moon's book The Tea Chest which I really enjoyed so when I saw she had a new book out The Chocolate Promise I was super keen to get my hands on a copy.

The novel follows Christmas Livingstone who lives to nurture and love others but has some very specific rules that protect her from getting hurt. She runs the delightful and very tempting sounding Chocolate Apothecary in Tasmania safe and delicious until a handsome botanist arrives on her doorstep and upsets her rigid rules.

From Tasmania to Paris with twists and turns this book is an engaging read, though dragged a little for me in some parts.

For any woman who appears to have it all under control but is terrified of losing control. Curl up with a cuppa, some good chocolate and make it a girly few nights. I'll be recommending this to friends who are girly novel lovers.

Details - Allen and Unwin March 2015, RRP $29.99 available as an ebook.

Written by a vet, animal surgeon and best selling novelist The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout follows disgraced veterinary pathologist, Cyrus Mills as he lands in the backwaters of Eden Falls and inherits his estranged father's drowning clinic.

Over the course of a week Cyrus is exposed to pet owners of every calibre and confronted by the demons of his own past and broken family.

More than a light novel but easy to read this book is for the animal lover and for anyone who has allowed perceptions to rule relationships. Redemption and relationship as well as all the craziness that must come from being a vet in a small town. I'll be recommending it to animal lovers, people that appreciate a laugh and those who know the pain of relationships that have gone awry.

Perfect for a night on the couch with a hairy friend (if you have one!)

Details - Allen and Unwin March 2015 RRP $22.99

Thanks to A&U for supporting my reading addiction 

love you more than a book, a chocolate bar and an evening in xxx