Back to school

Today was a big day. After 10 years of doing other things, I survived my first day back in the classroom!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love kids. That’s why I decided to study teaching at university way back in the day. However, most of my teaching career was spent teaching either French or English to middle and senior school students with the odd 20 minute French lesson to years 3 and 4. When I left teaching 10 years ago, for what I thought was forever, it was to work for an international child development organisation. However, over the last three years, circumstances have changed and a few weeks ago I applied to become a casual teacher and head back to the classroom.

Having said that, when the call came this morning asking me to spend the day team teaching Year 1, it was indeed a shock to the system. To be honest I was still in bed. So exactly 60 minutes later I was showered, dressed, caffeine-fuelled and ready to mark the roll!

The kids were great. I had a small group of eager young ladies who were more than happy to keep me accountable to the class routine and rules! I loved watching the children interact with each other as they worked out for themselves the answers to some of the questions surrounding the topic of Weather. It was fun to watch them solve problems and ask questions.

At ‘fruit break’ I was indispensable as a peeler of bananas and mandarins and at lunch time I switched roles from teacher to band-aid administrator, peace-negotiator and shoe-lace tier! In fact I lost count of the number of little boys who ran up and asked me most politely if I would tie their shoelaces.

As for the peace negotiations, well I reckon I could have given Ban Ki-moon a run for his money as I definitely managed to avert four potentially violent conflicts all in the space of 15 minutes!

After lunch we successfully negotiated a trip to the library and then finished the day at a Junior School Assembly, with many parents in attendance, where I sat trying to subtly chastise three little munchkins who thought it would be a good idea to tackle each other on the floor as well as pick their noses and talk through the entire proceedings!

Having said all that, it was a good day. A day that served to remind me just how much I love kids and what a privilege it is to influence and speak into their lives in a positive way.

To my friends and colleagues who do this 5 days a week, you have my utmost admiration. It’s 8:45pm. I’m knackered and off to bed!

 

 

 

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You have a granddaughter

It’s usually three little words that set a woman’s heart fluttering and turn her world upside down. In my case it’s four.

It’s not that I didn’t know it was going to happen. The signs were all there. Nine months of excitement and anticipation as my daughter-in-law’s bump grew bigger; placing my hands strategically to feel those tiny little kicks; visiting every baby store in town and attending baby showers; watching a guest room transform into a zoo animal-themed nursery…

Saturday 28th April at 8:45am Claudia Rosemary entered our world. My son called to say those four magic words: “You have a granddaughter”.

Now you might think I’m a little biased, but she really is perfect. She is so beautiful that she can have a room-full of family members totally transfixed, staring at her non-stop and commenting on every cute little face she pulls. She really has stolen our hearts.

It seems like only yesterday that I was equally captivated by her father, as he lay in a crib pulling those same faces. (Incidentally he was perfect too!) I remember my mother being just as excited and mesmerized by her first grandchild. She would have felt these same emotions that I feel now. I’m sad she’s no longer here to share this special time, but I’m happy that her memory lives on, not only in Claudia’s middle name, but also in the fact that my precious granddaughter chose to enter the world on the day that was her great grandmother’s birthday.

I am indeed a blessed Nonna. I can’t wait to watch Claudia grow and flourish with the help of her magnificent parents. She also just happens to have four amazing grandparents, a wonderful uncle and two fantastic aunts, as well as an abundance of extended family members and friends all over the world who have already fallen in love with her.

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Wake Up Call

At home, my slumber is usually broken by the sound of an alarm clock or the coffee grinder in the kitchen as my husband prepares our morning brew. On the odd occasion, it’s an over-enthusiastic kookaburra or the rain pelting against our bedroom’s glass doors. This week, my sleep has been somewhat rudely interrupted by some very different sounds.

I’m staying on the 28th floor of a hotel in the Mangga Dua district of Jakarta, Indonesia. Around 4am, 2 hours before sunrise, while even the roosters are still sleeping, the speakers around the local mosque blare out the first of the five daily calls to prayer. If you listen really hard, you can hear the same call echoing all over the city.

Encouraged by the melodic tones of the Muezzin, the roosters start to crow, announcing that the day has well and truly begun. Now add the noise of motor cycles, buses and cars into the mix and the crescendo starts to build.

By the time the sun has fully risen, the cacophony has reached fever pitch with an added mix of rumbling trains, whistles, car and motor cycle horns, as well as the occasional screech of brakes and shouts from local vendors.

Welcome to morning in Jakarta!

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I in 1.4 billion

There are 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty – one of the many statistics we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. In fact I’m such a words girl that as soon as I hear or see numbers, I chill out and they become almost meaningless. But last night I met 1 of the 1.4 billion. She wasn’t a statistic; her name was Rosa and she was trying to sell me a rose as the sun set over Manila bay.

Manila Bay is where the rich and the poor converge under a reddening sky to appreciate nature’s celebration of the day’s end. Luxury hotels and office blocks line one side of the multi-lane boulevard while the other side plays host to local joggers, tourists, ice-cream sellers, and touters of tacky souvenirs and fake pearls. It is also here, on sheets of plastic and cardboard, that Rosa makes her home. This is where Rosa and her five-month-old baby spend their days (and nights) trying to make ends meet.

So how did she end up here? Like everyone who ends up in a place like this, there is a story:

Rosa’s husband recently died, leaving her with four children and no income. Like so many from other parts of the Philippines, Rosa thought she’d have a better chance of finding a job in Manila. So leaving her three other children behind with her sister, she arrived here with her baby.

Unfortunately, Rosa has discovered that finding work with no vocational training is almost impossible. No proper job means no income. No income means no rent money. No rent money means no home … and so the cycle of extreme poverty continues. Rosa gives street-side massages during the day and tries to sell roses to tourists like me at night. She earns around 2 dollars a day. Not enough to pay rent; not enough for a return ticket home.

I tell her that I don’t want to buy a rose, but I would like to buy her a meal. I slip her a few pesos and feel a little taken aback when she begins to cry. The measly amount I have given her is more than she’s made all day.

We say goodbye and an hour later as we drive away, I see her standing under a street light, her baby asleep in her arms. She still has 5 roses in her hand – the same number she had when we met.

I’d love to say there is a happy ending to this story, but there’s not. I presume that Rosa is out there again tonight. It’s raining heavily as I type. It just doesn’t seem right…

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A new kind of dog’s life

Did you know that last year we Aussies spent a little over $3.6 billion on our dogs? In comparison we donated $346 million to World Vision and $11 million to Breast Cancer Research.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a dog lover and the proud owner of a very controlling golden retriever. However, I’m sure if she finds out how some of her poochie mates are living in other parts of Australia she may just decide to leave home.

According to the magazine article I just read, Doggie Day Spas and Retreats are popping up all over the country.  At the most upmarket ones, your canine has the choice of the Disney or New York Suite complete with luxurious leather upholstery, dimmed lighting and mood music. Qualified dog nannies are on hand to care for your dog’s every whim, including vegan diets.

Organised themed puppy parties appear to be all the rage, so why not indulge your rottweiler by dressing him up in an elephant costume? (He won’t look nearly so scary to his friends!) And for the labrador who likes to party hard, not only can you buy him a pair of dark sunglasses, but you can even book him a doggie taxi for the ride home.

Maybe your pooch doesn’t like to party. Don’t worry, party-pooping poodles can stay home and relax in designer, jewel-encrusted collars, silk PJ’s and slippers.

But wait there’s more; the ultimate spa treatment for your dog: Doggy Detox as well as a manicure (nail polish provided),  bubble bath and massage using hand made organic spa  ingredients designed to calm, soothe, replenish and refresh …

If there weren’t over one billion PEOPLE still living in extreme poverty, then all this could seem really funny. Instead it makes me incredibly sad.

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Don’t write me off!

I realised the other day that I have an irrational  fear of getting old. (You’re already old, some may say!)  So where does this fear come from?

Well, it’s not because of the increasing number of grey hairs or laughter lines (my euphamism for wrinkles) or that my birthday cake gets bigger every year in order to accommodate the required number of candles! No, it goes much deeper than that. Continue reading

Posted in Rants and raves | 3 Comments

Vote of thanks

Today in Australia it’s the federal election. As it’s a beautiful, sunny, winter’s day, I decided to walk to the polling booth. During my stroll there and back, several thoughts occurred to me that have prompted today’s ramblings … Continue reading

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Blind Justice?

I understand that rules are rules, but sometimes there has just have to be exceptions. I recently came across two articles in a British newspaper that make exactly that point.

In Scotland, a blind man was issued a fine for 40 pounds by an unrelenting policeman, because he failed to pick up his guide dog’s poo from a piece of wasteland!

Now it may just be me, but isn’t there something wrong with that story? Continue reading

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Real Books for Life

As I was browsing in my local Christian bookstore the other day, I began to feel a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume of books, DVDs, and audio books all supposedly designed to ‘help’ me become a better Christian and to live a ‘better’ Christian life; titles ranging from “Tree-pruning in the Spirit” to “Cast out demons while working out “! OK, so I exaggerate a little, but there really are an awful lot of suspect titles out there, not to mention the perfectly-coiffed, smiling men and women on the covers. Continue reading

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The Great British Airport Conspiracy


Ok, call me suspicious, but I actually believe there’s a secret, somewhat clandestine training school, perhaps under a runway somewhere, where all airport staff, including engineers and terminal architects, receive training on how to make life as difficult and complicated as possible for airline passengers using British airports. Continue reading

Posted in Rants and raves, Reflections on life, Travel | 4 Comments

It’s been a while!

Yes it’s true, I’ve become a vicitm of blogger’s block. During the course of any given week I find myself thinking of and mentally composing creative and witty posts that will impress my followers – yes all six of them!

But, when push comes to shove, I just seem to lack the motivation to put the thoughts into words and I end up staring at a blank screen unable to form a sentence and becoming increasingly distracted by the constant barrage of facebox and twitter updates.

So why do I even want to blog? Good question, Shona. I’m so glad you asked! Continue reading

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A Hope in Hell


Haiti may indeed be the voodoo capital of the world and there has been much heated and controversial debate about this earthquake being God’s punishment on the people … (BTW, I disagree with that theory, but will leave that discussion for another time.)

We’ve all seen the death, destruction and devastation in the capital this week: rotting bodies piling up in the streets, mothers weeping for their lost children, children crying for lost mothers and fathers … Continue reading

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Haiti


I am so deeply saddened by the news and footage coming from Haiti. It seems so unfair that a country so badly affected by extreme poverty is hit by yet another natural disaster of such severity.

I have spent the entire day thinking about what I can do … Continue reading

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Another chapter


As I stood at the front of the church, I couldn’t help blinking a few times just to check that the scenario unfolding in front of me was actually happening. I even pinched myself for good measure. Ouch! YES, it was real! Continue reading

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Just tell it like it is …

Ok, I admit it, I’ve become a little obsessed with social media and spend way too much time on twitter and facebook. Continue reading

Posted in Rants and raves, Reflections on life | 3 Comments