Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cars and Courses II

I got the car! I got it!

The finance worked out as more than I wanted but I can just afford it. I can't believe that I'm getting such a nice car! We're picking it up on Friday or Saturday. I can't wait! *SQUEEE*


For all the educators, parents and future parents out there, check this out:
The Virtues Project

The Virtues Project started when three concerned individuals decided to do something positive to try to reduce the violence they were seeing in schools (both against the self and against others). They looked at a huge cross-section of the world's cultures and eventually came up with a list of virtues that are common to most cultures. They then set about looking at ways to teach these virtues and to foster virtuous behaviour in children and teens, with the aim of lifting self-respect and respect for others.

They have developed an incredible range of advice books and teaching strategies for raising children with strong virtues, fostering a "culture of character" within families and schools, and educating school children on how to use virtue in their daily lives.

We (the whole school staff, just about) went to a facilitator training course for the Virtues Project on Monday, and I was completely blown away. It's beautiful. It's spiritual without being religious, heartfelt without being preachy, and very practical.

I would thoroughly recommend it for anyone working with children or interested in their own spiritual growth - particularly, I suppose, people who aren't religious but feel that they would like a baseline for moral guidance - but also those who are religious and would like some practical strategies for teaching (and learning!) moral behaviour. It doesn't negate / contradict any teaching in any religion I know of, and is aimed at supporting people in their spiritual growth regardless of their religion.

Check out their website, particularly the shop, which has some fantastic books and resources (the virtues reflection cards in particular - very cool).

This is a Godsend for me because while I'm somewhat religious, S isn't, and I could see how this could be a spiritual middle ground for us.

If anyone else has had experience with The Virtues Project or likes what they see on the website, please do comment - I'm curious about others' reactions :-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Courses and programmes and cars, oh my!

I'm feeling extremely anxious and teary right now, and very overwhelmed. I'm having a very difficult day :-(

On the way down from Little Country Town last Saturday, my car started to make horrible grinding noises, which I figured were the brake pads starting to wear through. Before I could even think about getting it fixed, money-wise, it also started going putt-putt-putt-putt-etc whenever I accelerate. And then it started to blow a lot more exhaust smoke when starting up, and I even got smoke off the engine yesterday, even though the oil dipper says that the car is full of engine oil. And the fuel gauge has gone whacko, dropping randomly to below zero then popping back up again the next time I start the car.

All this boils down to MY CAR IS DYING.

It's an old car (1981 model) and it's done it hard, and I knew it wasn't going to last ages, but I thought it would do more than 3 months. *sigh*

So, crisis time. I'm in Perth and I can't drive back to Little Country Town in a car that could blow up at any second. So I went out this morning to a car yard and tried to buy a car. I found a REALLY nice one, a Toyota Vienta from 1997 which was a luxury model back when it was sold, but has done quite a lot of country kms. It's in near-perfect condition and has a perfect service history, and was a trade-in to the same car yard where the owners bought it new over a decade ago. It's GORGEOUS. It's a white sedan with leather interior, CD player, climate control, the works. Automatic transmission with cruise control, fully workshop tested . . . and it's only $8990. And it drives SO smoothly. I WANT IT.

But . . . I couldn't get automatic on-the-spot finance to buy it, because I have some other debts and also because I didn't have all of my paperwork down with me since I didn't expect to be buying a car, and the banks aren't open today for manual finance approval. So I have to wait until Monday at the earliest to find out whether I've got the finance for the car. And that means I'm car-less. Thankfully S was coming up to Little Country Town anyway to start his prac, so we'll just use his car only for a week and then come down next Saturday and pick up my car, if they approve the finance. IF. I don't know if they will. But ohhh, I want them to!

I feel horribly guilty for wanting this car, because it's really nice and it's a sedan, when most people would probably feel that I should settle for a much more basic and much smaller hatch. But I think this is my lack of self-belief and self-value talking. Why can't I have nice things sometimes? I think this car will be a good value asset and do well on the long country drives. Is that so wrong?


In other news, to all of the teachers and parents out there: one word. THRASS. It's a phonics system that is just OUT OF THIS WORLD. Instead of teaching the old "ants on the apple, a a a" type phonics - which confuses kids because 'a' can say 'a', 'ay', 'ah', 'eh', 'air' and a host of other things - it teaches kids that the 26 letters of the alphabet are just symbols that we use to represent a variety of sounds, and that the letter only makes a sound when it's a spelling choice inside a word. It can be used from kindy right up to adult English as a Second Language. It uses picture associations, word associations and games and activities to teach kids that there are multiple spelling choices for all of the 44 sounds used in English, and it gives them tools to assess and make the right spelling choice for sounds in any given circumstance. I went to their training course on Wednesday and Thursday, and I was just blown away. I'm going to start using it with my students immediately, particularly the weak spellers. It's just awesome. It teaches English like it really is, and makes it easy enough that little kids can grasp it. I can't say enough how good it is. If THRASS is available in your area, and you're a teacher or a parent/future parent, or even just a curious linguist, try to get along to a training course. It'll change the way you think about English, completely. And no, they're not paying me to say this lol.


In other other news, I'm also feeling overwhelmed about the new term, which starts on Tuesday. My year 5 and 7 students have standardised testing in Week 3 so I have to get them ready for that, and I have to work out what to do with the 6s during the tests. These are new tests as well, from the new National Government plan for schools. They're called NAPLAN (National Plan, I think) but Mum started calling them NAPALM and I can't help doing it too. I've even written NAPALM on all of my term plans lol. It seems oddly appropriate, somehow.

I've been feeling sick this past week and haven't got anywhere near as much done as I needed to, and I'm at that stage where it's all just starting to come together but is ever-so-slightly out of reach. I hate that feeling! I've got nothing photocopied and no resources made, but I'll get there. I think.

I hope I can get S to relax and chill out tonight. He's so stressed over his 7-week prac and is making himself sick over it. I want to convince him that we should have a night off, and just make him relax.

Prayers and good thoughts for one very stressed and car-troubled teacher, and for one very stressed and overwhelmed student teacher, would be very much appreciated.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I. Hate. Boxes.

Honestly, how much stuff can one girl have?!

I'm trying to sort my house out but it's a losing battle at the moment - no matter how much I move stuff around, the place is still full of it. And I just don't have time to sort out and distinguish everything that needs to be thrown away.

I'm heading down to Perth tomorrow afternoon, and won't be back in Little Country Town until Sunday week (the 27th) so I may not be blogging for the next week. I'll try to get online on my various communities (BtN and NiH in particular) but I can't guarantee that I'll have time to blog. If not, there'll be a big update when I get back!

The week in Perth will be interesting - I'm taking Jem with me because I can't leave her alone that long, so it'll be interesting to see how she handles the 2 hour drive to S's place and then a week at his house. And when I come back, S is coming with me and staying for 7 weeks while he does his second last teaching practice. Cohabitation, here we come . . . *nervous, excited, happy*

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting stuff done

Apologies for the lack of bloggage lately. I've been trying to completely sort every box in the house ahead of when S comes to stay at the end of next week. We need to fit him into my study and it's currently full of boxes, all of which I feel compelled to completely sort out. Ambitious, no? I'm finally learning to throw stuff away. Do I need backup CDs from two years ago? No! Do I need my credit card bill from June 2005? No! I keep reminding myself to get rid of it . . . I'm going to end up having to do a tip run. It feels good to be getting rid of so much junk.

It's raining here today. Not storming like it's done every other time it's rained, but just raining. Constantly. For hours. It's been raining since before dawn so it's chilly and sunless outside. I was going to walk to the cafe where I'm having coffee with a friend - it's only two minutes' walk - but it's just too soggy outside. I guess I'm driving after all!

Monday, April 14, 2008

No. That's not it.

There was an opinion piece in yesterday’s online Sunday Telegraph (seen on that was talking about the apparent decline of society and the need for children to be taught better morals. No surprises there, until I came to this item in the list of reasons for the current problem:

“. . .the stripping of parental rights preventing mums and dads from properly doing their jobs by setting suitable and appropriate parameters for their children.”

Um, no.

The only “right” that has been taken away from Australian parents is the right to mete out sadistic, severe beatings as punishment. And the fact that many physically abused children are still killed by their parents before the authorities intervene, shows that even this former “right” is still available to parents, for as long as they can get away with it.

Apart from the restriction of beating as a punishment, parental “rights” are still intact. The parents of today do not, on average, parent any differently to the way they did 25 years ago when I was a small child: the majority smack, almost all use some form of punishment, a tiny minority use none. And overall, this is not much different to how it was when my mother was a small child 50 years ago. A little less violent, perhaps, but generally very similar.

Falsely claiming that parental rights have been stripped is a cop-out, an abdication of responsibility for the situation. There is nothing stopping parents from parenting in much the same way as they have for the past century. Something is clearly going wrong, but that is not it.

And as families like mine can attest, you do not need those punishment-based trappings of parenting to raise happy, healthy, obedient, socially responsible children.

I don’t know what’s going wrong. I personally believe that it has to do with the fact that childrearing has not changed – it is still largely based on control, coercion and force – while schools, workplaces etc have moved into a culture of positive reinforcement and a collaborative approach to generating agreed behavioural boundaries. It is the contrasting levels of respect, and anger at authoritarian parents, that leads to disenchanted, rebellious children. But hey, what do I know? I only observe it, I don’t study it.

But whatever the problem is, the stripping of parental rights it is not. Parents who believe this are in denial about their own refusal to do the hard yards and parent their children properly. That I do know.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


This afternoon I stepped out the front door and saw that a whole lot of pink flowers had suddenly appeared in my front garden. This may have happened because the last week of school was too stressful for me to pay attention!

Anyway, this led to a jaunt around the garden taking pictures, accompanied by Jemima, who made it clear she was following me while refusing to let me get close enough to her to potentially grab her and bring her inside!

Enjoy :-)

First One Gone

Well, I did it. I've just finished my first full term as a primary school teacher.

The term has been very full and busy, and I'm glad it's over - I was very tired and really needed a break!

I'm looking forward to next term - the theme is "Plants and Gardens" and we're going to have so much fun - we're studying "The Secret Garden" in literacy, botany in science, gardens around the world in SOSE, healthy plant foods in health, and we're going to design and build a veggie garden for T&E (maths will link in to various aspects of this, but we’re focusing on number & place value for that). The art teacher is going to do plant-themed art with them, and I’m going to teach them a garden song and also some plant-themed interpretative dance. It’s going to be a very fulfilling term and far less complicated than this one! I’ve also noticed that Arbor Day is this coming term, tying in beautifully with my theme, so we’re going to do a whole-school planting day. My first whole-school initiative, woohoo!

But for now I’m just intent on enjoying my two weeks off – I’ve got programming to do for next term, but otherwise I’m just going to relax and be happy. I’ll be going down to see S next weekend and the weekend after, and in between times I’m going to enjoy myself thoroughly.

But I still can’t believe an entire term has gone by! ¼ of the year . . . wow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Close to the end

The term is almost over. Two more days, and that’s it. And they’re not hugely difficult days . . . we have two assemblies tomorrow (our class assembly then a pre-emptive ANZAC Day assembly with the Catholic school and the wider community) so I don’t have much in the way of teaching time on those days. It’s nearly over.

I’m so tired I can barely think, and I’m looking forward to several days’ serious relaxation over the next two weeks.

I can’t believe I’ve taught for an entire term already. When did that happen? What 10 weeks?

Of course, my holidays will go quickly too. *sigh*

Just gotta hold it together for two more days . . .

Monday, April 7, 2008

I wonder why . . .

. . . human beings feel such a need to attach a value judgement - 'right' or 'wrong' - to feelings?

With some feelings, the reason is obvious - we consider that feeling of just wanting to throttle someone to be 'wrong' in case the deed follows on the thought. But other feelings are far more ambiguous.

Yesterday I found out that a fatal car accident that I'd heard about on the radio on Saturday had involved someone I knew. I only knew him slightly - I'd had about three shifts with him when I was working at the optometrist's - and I actually loathed him. I thought he was loud-mouthed, full of himself, patronising (to someone older than him!) and generally a pain in the butt for someone with my personality.

So I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening feeling absolutely dreadful, because I was having the wrong sort of feelings about this guy's death. My feelings can basically be summed up as "well . . . yeah. Okay, he's dead. And . . . that's all." I certainly don't feel glad but I also definitely don't feel sad. It is what it is. He drove stupidly with bad tires on the rainiest Perth day for 5 years, lost control, hit a tree, and is gone. And that's it. I feel sorry for the people who are affected by his death, like his kids, but beyond that . . . I actually don't feel anything, and we're taught that that's the wrong way to feel. We're supposed to be sad about a person's death, but whether it's because I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted or just because I barely knew him, it just hasn't affected me.

Why should that sort of feeling be subject to a value judgement? Why should we be expected to retrospectively like and grieve for the dead if we couldn't like them in life? Why should we feel that our feelings are wrong? Why can't we just have feelings that are what they are, without judging ourselves for them?

Thoughts, anyone?

PS: S and I have totally sorted out last weekend's fight, and have had a wonderful weekend - we're so much stronger as a couple after having come through that. It's all good :-)

Thursday, April 3, 2008


You remember my former best friend, the one who metaphorically kicked me in the guts one time too many and was thus kicked to the kerb?

Well, lately I’ve been dreaming about her from time to time. While I don’t for one minute regret having stood up to her and told her how her behaviour affected me, I am sad that her unrelenting temper means that we will probably never make up. I’ve always forgiven her – that’s how this all started, because I was enraged that after all of the hundreds of times I’d forgiven her for stuff she’d done to me, she was unable to forgive me for something not all that serious – but she is often a judgmental and unforgiving person and I doubt she will ever choose to let go of her bitter feelings about the argument we had.

(You may ask why I would even want to rekindle the friendship given what I’ve just said about her. She does have redeeming qualities even though I spent countless hours either being furious with her myself or defending her to other people. I’m not really sure I would want to be friends again, but I would like to know whether there is anything worth saving).

After I defriended her on Facebook she blocked me completely for a while so I couldn’t even search up her name or click on it in other peoples’ profiles. Today I noticed that she’s clickable again, and I can read her profile, but after a while I discovered that I can’t message her or post to her wall, so I’m still partially blocked. I was considering sending her a message about what to do with various stuff she abandoned in my care when she moved out, but I can’t.

I’m a bit upset about this. She was my best friend for more than twelve years, and she was nice to be with in between the brush-offs, insults, tactlessness, rudeness and failure to stay in contact when it wasn’t convenient. And we shared a lot in the year we lived in the same house. Although I don’t think I’d ever be stupid enough to be the doormat of a best friend again, I would like to think that one day we could at least have a civil conversation or even be at the same event. And we can’t do that while she’s blocking me.


ETA . . . hmmmm. A re-read of this made me realise that I am still very angry with her, generally for all the crap she put me through over the years, and specifically for the fact that she can't forgive me when I've forgiven her so many times. I've also realised that I'm angry with her because she WAS a good friend sometimes, and she betrayed the good-friend-ness over and over again with her narky behaviour. She trashed my trust time and time again, sucked me back in time and time again, and then in the end said that she no longer cared to see me because of something I’d done a year earlier and which she’d never tried to talk to me about. Despite all she’d put me through I thought she was better than that. I’ve always thought she was better than she was, and she’s always let me down. To then blame me for letting her down is so hypocritical that it chokes me up.

. . . perhaps I’m not really ready to make contact yet, after all.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A first

As of today, I play netball.

This is a circumstance that has never happened before.

When I was a kid, 99% of girls did either netball or gymnastics, and most did both at one time or another. Netball was HUGE. And I never, ever played. We did it at school a few times and I was clumsy and awkward, couldn’t keep up with the game or the rules, and could never keep my feet on the ground at the right times. And while I was always encouraged to be active – tennis, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, other forms of dance – no one ever even asked me if I was interested in netball. I think Mum’s dislike of most people the hair-makeup-housework-shopping style of woman, which comprised most of the school Mums and therefore most of the netball Mums, would have been a strong reason in her mind to keep me out of netball anyway.

So I’ve always felt on the ‘outre’ with netball, and I only have a vague idea of how the games go. But I need a sporting activity to get me off my butt and doing regular exercise; I need some sort of community activity so that I meet more people; and I need to do something on weeknights that isn’t a) marking, b) planning, c) chatting to S, or d) sitting at my computer blogging, message-boarding or generally doing not much at all.

Carlene, the year 2-3-4 teacher, decided to do netball as she used to play, and in a snap decision I decided that I would, too.

Now I’m a member of Little Country Town’s B-Grade weeknight netball team. Yikes!

We had our first training session tonight, and I’m so sore and tired, but it feels good too. It’s been a while since I’ve done an hour’s solid aerobic exercise! I tend to do more of the slower exercise, like walking. But I’m sure it’s been good for me and I’m looking forward to next week’s training. Games will be on Thursday nights and start in about a month. It’s kind of exciting :D

I'm alright . . .

. . . and we're alright. Not totally sorted, but getting there. The relationship is in no danger, at least!

Sorry if I alarmed anyone yesterday.

Adding: err, based on the comments it sounds like I implied that S had done something wrong. Actually it was me lol. He was upset with me and I drove down to sort it out.