Saturday, 27 February 2010

Rostered On

We've always expected our children to help out around home. No different to children all over the world. Kids need to learn responsibility from an early age. In an era where nobody seems to want to take responsibility for their own actions, I'd like to think we're doing our part to create responsible mature little people, who will grow into mature, responsible contributing adults.

We've never paid our kids for this contribution, nor have they ever asked to be. They've always understood they're part of a team.

But this year with the onset of school banking, we've decided it's time they began to appreciate the concept of earning and saving. And no child should be denied their own little tin 'Commonwealth Bank Building' money-box. Right? In fact do they still have them?

And so, the front of our fridge now boasts a tattered little roster, typed in Excel, but with gridlines added by ruler and 2B pencil later. Tasks such as unpacking the dishwasher, feeding dogs, feeding pups, collecting eggs and feeding chooks, setting the table all listed. I was pleased to see Sarah and Jess giving themselves most of the jobs, eight each, Wallace six and Sally five. And provided they complete all their jobs, they receive $2.

Wallace has already bombed out in his first week. Forgot to feed the chooks.
It's tough when you've also got to find time to save the world from evil!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Roses are Red...

On life's barometer of 'hecticness', the needle seems to be heading dangerously close to the red zone at the moment. I obviously omitted blogging from my monthly planner when jotting in ET programs, working at school, AI'ing heifers, swimming lessons, weaning, staff meetings, preg-testing, Show meetings, Pony Club, P & C commitments and all the other engagements that seem to have crowded my originally pristine planner.

Meanwhile we're enjoying sunshine for the first time in a few weeks and the grass is growing beautifully. Cattle and horses are getting fat and shiny and last year's drought is settling into the annals of history. Unfortunately the reminders are present in the form of lower preg-rates, later calves, over-stretched overdrafts and a lack of 'finished' cattle ready to send to slaughter.

Sally has survived her first four weeks of school, although there is already some complaint of 'hating' school, usually preceeding a collapse into bed for a two hour nap before tea.

Wallace is in the bad books at the moment, having neglected his afternoon chore of feeding chooks and collecting eggs yesterday, and also sneaking onto my computer to play a game (a punishable offence, with no child allowed to touch the computer without parental approval, and even then only after a series of questions, rules and set parameters rivalling entry to the oval office). He now faces seven days of non-computer-contact time at school as well as home, and no pocket-money.

But Maaaaahhhhhhmmm!

Meanwhile these beauties have been enjoying the rain.

After starting life in beautiful lush Victoria, these babies have had a rather tumultuous journey to this point. Arriving bare-rooted over a year ago, they were greeted by a dry, rather warm Queensland welcome, planted into an often neglected garden bed and watered with bore water hard enough to bounce rocks off. After much suffering they were again uprooted and placed in these pots around some old tanks, where they can now enjoy rainwater, as their beverage of choice. But it hasn't stopped raining since their move, and they're voicing their joy in full colour.

Since talking of days of sunshine when starting this post earlier in the day, we've since...
enjoyed yet another inch of rain.

No complaints.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Dance of Love

This fellow's really been through the wringer, having spent the better part of the last four weeks in a prostrate position. Over three weeks ago he contracted Bovine Ephemeral Fever, more commonly known as 3-Day Sickness. Characterised by high fever and joint inflammation, many animals are so lame you would think they'd broken a limb. As the name suggests most animals recover within a few days. Upon seeing an animal go down with 3-Day, we generally will needle them with an anti-inflammatory in the paddock and usually they are up within a day.

Not so, this bloke. For nearly four weeks we have lovingly tended him. Carting buckets of water morning and night, as well as hay we only managed to get him to his feet about ten days ago. With Matthew steering his tail, he stumbled and bumbled his way to the yards and undercover before the onset of our last rain event. An event that would have surely finished him off.

This morning on my way to the school bus I decided I had time to stand him up on the way out. Lying next to the fence between us and the highway, I slapped him on the rump, grabbed his tail and gave him a hand up. Lurching and jerking three steps forward he managed to fall straight through the four-barb fence beside him, resulting in much oohing and aahing from my team of onlookers. Hurriedly shooshing them back into the car I regretted having gone anywhere near him.

So after waving goodbye to the bus, I returned to cut the fence. Having invested much time in his extremely slow recovery, I wasn't about to see it come unstuck by a Blenners Superliner hauling a load from Cairns to Brisbane. Managing to coax him again to his very unsteady feet, in a fox-trot come tango type manoeuvre, with one hand firmly gripping his tail and the other slapping him down the shoulder, we lurched and jerked and shimmied our way back across the boundary.

And while his posture could have been better, and his adagio style was more reminiscent of a drunken Thunderbird, I don't know that Sonia Kruger or Todd McKenney could have done any better, given the circumstances.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Note to Self:

Set alarm clock thirty minutes earlier on Library Days and Swimming Days.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Hip Hip Hooray!

We celebrated a birthday this weekend.
Yesterday was Jessie's 9th birthday.
Nine years since this little dark curly-haired girl joined our family.

Of course I was expecting a boy. Mother's instinct and all. Was sure it was Lachlan we were about to meet. So this poor little baby girl remained un-named for many hours while we oohed and aahed and thunk a lot.

And we named her after my paternal grandmother, a beautiful kind woman who I have wonderful memories of. I wish my children could have known her. She was Jessie May.

...and this is Jessie Dian. (Dian from her paternal grandmother).

It was the day Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman announced their pending divorce. Funny, the things you remember.

But I do remember seeing that on the news from my hospital bed. One of the many delights of having babies. Watching television in bed. While people bring you food on a tray.

Should have had six babies.

And it wasn't long before the black curls became long blonde flowing locks.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel...

and she loved to dance.

and also pigs.

Two of the other great passions in her life...


... and lamb racks.

That's my girl.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A Tale of Two Olga's

Remember this beautiful Olga. She's a first class paid-up member of "Team RockWallaby", stepping up to the plate last year to foster this baby boy whose ungracious mother walked away from him with barely a backward glance.

This week we've seen the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Olga bring forth the most beautiful gift of all in the form of sweet, soaking rain.

Just over ten inches in total.

(Try to look past my obvious weed problem - minor technical hitch with the roundup spray unit recently). With Wallace driving the four-wheeler (roundup tank and pump in back), and me walking dragging the hose, my partner backed over the hose, pulling it from the tank, breaking the much needed "rhino-fibulo-elbow" thingamajig, causing much panic as roundup was pumped furiously from said tank, while I screamed instructions to shut down the bike. We now have quite a pattern of dead grass in front lawn. Never mind.

And so what a wonderful start to the year. A little different scenario to not so many weeks ago.

And most of Queensland has shared the joy. Hopefully New South Wales' turn is coming.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

If you can't Beat'em...

After bagging Education Queensland and their innane policies regarding staffing models, I'm now being paid by them!

(Well, who's having the last laugh now!!!)

While one of our wonderful teacher aides at school takes a well-earned break for six months, I'm filling in three days a week. Now if you've ever doubted the level of chaos that exists in this house of a morning, throw in a mother with no natural Nigellability to make lunches, who's preferred dress code includes blundstones and faded jeans; two missing school hats; a slightly chewed library book; a very smelly lunch box; an over-tired preppie and we're talking some serious angst in this household three mornings a week!

And which of course leads us to the other four days a week which are now hell-for-leather, going gangbusters, clock-watching, buzzing like blue-bummed flies kinda crazy. Getting the picture?

But it's great! So far so good. The kids just love having Mum come to school with them. How long can this last! And our whole school is just full of these wonderful little sponges so eager to learn, to please, to soak it all up. They make you proud!

...and I'll show Education Queensland! This mum's not going to see her kids' education suffer through some ridiculous staffing model that suggests regional children are somewhat more dispensable in the education stakes!!!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Pass me that Soapbox

With Ms Gillard, Mr Rudd and our very own Ms Bligh constantly beating their own chests about education, NAPLAN testing, a national curriculum, safety nets and how single-handed they will tackle numeracy and literacy problems in our schools, I feel I need to add my opinion.

Here in Queensland, the "smart state", we have policies in place stating that 26 students are deemed too many for one classroom, ie the largest number of students in any one classroom will not exceed 25.

Keeping up?

This same policy that applies to city classrooms also applies to one-teacher schools such as ours. So if your school enrolment is less than 26 you will have one teacher only. As is the case at our school this year, with only 24 students enrolled, we are losing our second teacher. Our new principal (who has never been a principal before) will teach 8 year levels from Prep to Year 7, aged from 4 to 12 years (he has never taught the early grades before) in one classroom.

We're the "smart state".

Can anybody begin to explain to me how it is possible for one teacher to adequately educate 24 students in 8 year levels. In one classroom.

Mr Rudd, in his infinite wisdom, as he worked to boost the economy and revolutionise education, provided our small country school with a $250,000 new state-of-the-art classroom last year. We are using it as a library as we have no need for a new classroom, after all we only need one for all of our students. Ms Bligh, also bolstering our economy, and in the process running our state into the greatest level of debt ever recorded, also gave us a $50,000 playground. We tore down a perfectly functioning playground that our children loved, so QBuild could construct a new one.

We're the "smart state".

And now, as Day 8 approaches, the day when enrolment figures are uploaded, and our staffing allocated for the year, all we hear about is Ms Gillard's new pet project, the "my school" website. Whereby everybody can see the progress of a school, see the problem areas, and address them! Ain't that great!!!

These people aren't serious about educating our kids. Not up here anyway, because there just aren't a lot of votes to be bought in regional Queensland where these problems exist.

So while my youngest is given play dough to entertain her for the day, and my oldest is assigned work and left to work independently for the day, I will continue to be sickened by the politicians and their "political speak" about what they are doing for education in this state and country.


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