Let us eat

With all the excitement of moving into our new pad I totally lost it last week with getting an assignment in, meeting our architects and builder, going to the chiropractor and the delivery of our stuff from California! Yep it was a big week but at least we managed to go out for lunch with our friend to the Boot Factory for a delicious chai. For lunch, I had Cauliflower Black Turtle Bean Felafels with Beet Hommus and Smoked Bocconcini, amazing – I am so in love with the food there and the bonus is that this cafe is only a 10 minute walk away from our new digs šŸ˜€

Saturday was my early Mothers Day lunch at Smith and Daughters, a place I have been wanting to visit each time I have visited Melbourne and finally my wish came true. An all vegan menu and so delicious I will so have to go back for the Feast Me set menu next time! This time I enjoyed food from the brunch menu with the Meatball Sub, a Holy Basil cocktail and delightful little balls of sugar donuts, bombolini as a shared dessert – I felt so good after that incredible meal complete with a sugar high!

So on Monday we met our architects and builder to tie up some last minute changes before the contract papers go through. I am so excited that things are moving along – the colours for the interior of our house are above, as well as the black charred timber for the exterior and the white stone for the kitchen with the terrazzo for the bathroom and the colours for the kids rooms in the foreground – whew it is a huge project that is going to take 12 months to completion. And the pic next to the new house is The Great wall from America in our garage from our house in California. We went through many boxes over the weekend and all I can say is that it is time to donate more stuff to the Brotherhood of St Laurence – why did we ship so much stuff back?!? My craft supplies have to seriously be culled, boo hoo or I gotta get making šŸ˜€

And last Saturday was election day – the first time I had voted in Australia in 12 years! I remember I did a absentee vote for Kevin 07 when I was in Vancouver, Canada but since then I lost the privilege of voting! Anyway we went out to lunch with friends at my favourite place in Melbourne CERES at the Merri Cafe and I enjoyed a lovely flat white and the most amazing bowl of goodness the Merri Poke Bowl, so so good! The kids enjoyed the playground and they took me up into the treehouse and down into the termite hole and bombarded me with bark as a surprise – not cool! The weather was 21 degrees and it was an absolutely divine day.

As for Sunday the results of the election were appalling but sure if the fear drives the masses to vote for conservative governments then we just gotta keep fighting. We have to block that stupid mine up North and make sure the forests and land is taken care of in Australia that is why I have volunteered for the Greens – seriously we need the people power to stop this madness, climate change is real people and we do not need to blast the earth for more coal! Australia has plenty of wind and sunshine, the investment in renewables would be the best thing this country could do – but no, again thinking of the short term gain with no foresight for the future. Well there are enough people who have had enough plus I have seen this madness in America while I was living there when the Dump was elected and how depressing that was! What I saw was the energy in people to rise up in response to the bullshit that was being spouted, we just have to kick against those pricks and the time is now!

Settled finally for the next 12 months

Whoa what a big week my hubby flew in for good last Monday and since then we have been planning and packing our lil house to move to a rental property! On top of all that I am writing two papers for Uni and going on missions to collect a fish tank we bought on eBay. Deep breathing now and I am so thankful for the gym to help me manage the stress of moving and life and we are finally getting plans for the next 12 months done and dusted. Our house will be partly demolished and we started the process when we moved the monolith black fridge out the back door by chiseling out the door frame and taking off the back door – lucky for us we had some very innovative movers!

So over the weekend we packed everything away into boxes and transported our stuff Monday into a 10 tonne truck to our new house just down the road. On Sunday I had to do a mission in the arvo to collect a fish tank with its filter, light and pebbles to save our goldfish from the pond in the front yard as we are remodelling the kids did not think they would survive! When I got back the kids were pretty excited that we got a tank and we have now set it up in our kitchen, they now spend time watching the fish swim around – I had no idea the fish were so big! I said to them to watch some YouTube videos on taking care of goldfish because I don’t need the job of cleaning a fish tank too. I have been driving about in cars from Car Next Door and its been a great thing to do as you get to test drive cars and so far my fave has been a Toyota Prius Hybrid, hopefully in the future we will buy a hybrid. When we moved on Monday, I borrowed a car from our a neighbour who has a Subaru Forrester and it was so good to drive a Soobie again šŸ˜€ the bonus was when I went to pick up the car the owner had chickens in his front yard, so cool! And as of this weekend we get to look after the chickens and a pig called Gigi at my sons high school – so fun!

So I was on a mission to unpack and get things out of boxes into their places as having a messy space is not good for my mind. So here is the lounge with what we have managed to gather together to make it homely. We cannot hang our art on the walls as it is a rental property – boo! So I have used a tea towel my sister got me for my birthday and our IKEA cubby for our bags and I found the great granny square blanket at The Salvos, score! Next week our stuff from California will finally be delivered and thank goodness this is a 3 bedroom house with a garage so we can store everything here until our move again next year into our newly remodelled house. Though it looks like we will still have to get rid of more bits and bobs but until then I had better get back to my study…

It is just so nice to have a brain break and goals to work towards such as writing my blog or going out to buy another pot plant – oh yeah that is my latest collection (as I am decorating with plants rather than art prints). I am collecting pot plants for our new home, I have a goal to grow them here and have them ready to put into our new house next year and so far I have a rubber plant, a fiddle leaf fig, a few foxtail agaves (rescued from our backyard), some succulents and a monstera all inspired by Summer Rayne Oakes and her rescue chicken! Oh and she has the best tutorial for a vertical wall garden which I would love to do at our new house, which is made from guttering and a very cool watering system.

Holidays over and out!

The three week break finally came to an end with the ANZAC day holiday on the Thursday, I went out for a bit of a walk to check out our rental property as the time has come for us to move out as the plans for our house build are moving along.

Friday we had a meeting with the builder (who I am excited to say we have negotiated within budget!) so I wandered over to the South Melbourne market to meet with our architects and went down to the builder at Williamstown. It was an excellent meeting full of wonderful information and a room full of knowledgeable folks who I am happy to be working with. Afterwards we enjoyed burgers, fries and beers (wine for me) at a brewery before I headed on back to the North. On my way home I found my one of my fave happy flowers at the market as I wanted to spruce up our place before my hubby came back on Monday.

Oh and the building on the left is an architectural marvel of Melbourne that my son found interesting on the way to the Melbourne Museum on Saturday.

The supercool thing we did on Saturday arvo was to meet our friends at the Gut Feelings exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. I have been wanting to check it out since it opened and it did not disappoint. As I am an advocate for good gut bacteria this whole exhibit spoke to me and confirmed my beliefs of taking care of your gut through eating a healthy whole food diet. It was interactive and so fascinating to understand the connections between out gut and our brain and the effect it has on everything in your body.


And to end our lovely afternoon we went out to dinner at La Tortilleria in Kensington where we enjoyed many tacos like this pumpkin topped delight. I realised these guys had a cafe through Instagram as I bought their delicious tacos in my CERES box and I am now a convert, they are the best! Looking forward to going back sometime soon with the whole family.

Now better get back to study as we are moving house again on Monday and that will be another time suck from my assignment writing and planning!

The Entitled

This morning on the way to school I was chatting to my son about quitting my Education degree due to the frustration of the education system in place that is following the style of the United States. Australia looks up to Mother America and loves to follow in their footsteps and this included standardised testing and reporting to ACARA – based on NAPLAN (the literacy and numeracy multiple choice test). I read this book on the weekend about a teachers struggle with the changes in the education system and it left a horrible feeling in regards to motivating myself to finish this teaching degree. The book is directly from a teachers perspective, things I have also experienced in the classroom but on a grander scale – the kids behaviour and the lack of responsibility from the parents with regard to modelling good behaviour to their children. I aways like to weigh in the positive and negative, but this book really had an effect on me that had me reeling with disappointment with the Australian education system to a point where I felt it was pointless to complete my degree, as the changing tides point to standardised testing and more reporting where the time devoted to actually teaching is pretty minimal. Though this teacher put her heart and soul into the profession she was burnt out mentally and physically after 16 years. Within the book, her teaching experience spanned classrooms in the beginning with the UK, Canada and different schools in Australia.

My son said to me, “Mum why do you want to throw away all the hard work that you have done for the last 3 years?”
I told him, “I read this book last week and I am very disappointed with the state of education in Australia, plus my friend shared with me an article about parents bullying teachers because their kid got in trouble.”
He said to me, “You mean parents who are entitled?”
To which I responded, “Yes, these parents who do not take responsibility to discipline/give consequences to their own children but who love to complain if their kid gets in strife.”

As a strange twist of fate there was an article in the Good Weekend last week that was given to me by a teacher friend of mine. After reading the article and examining it from an educators perspective who are trying their best to work with the class of around 24 children, where each child has their own needs as individual learners there needs to be consequences/firm discussions regarding behaviour. As a parent you just have to take the responsibility and act appropriately – I mean, the parents behaviour in this article is just ridiculous, what kind of modelling is that to their children? To me it screams I am a squeaky wheel and if I chuck a tantrum I can get what I want. Sure you can, fool, but not without the litigious consequences and these parents are getting sued for their bad behaviour and they deserve it. If you cannot raise your child to be a responsible human being in society than why bother having children, seriously!

After reading this I had to do research online to see what is in the media about teaching in Australia and it is so depressing, a few searches online just leads to negativity. There is a teacher shortage in Victoria and they are hoping to enhance the reputation of teaching through raising the ATAR (score required to enter the degree program) to entice school leavers. I have to agree with the article above that the approach to employ mature age students within teaching is the way to go as I think if I had attempted to teach when I was just out of school it would have knocked my socks off and I would have been in hospital.

Now with some experience in the classroom (albeit within a class where the students want to be there working as an art teacher) and my full time job in 2017-2018 as a Teacher Assistant has helped me analyse where I wanted to be. Ideally, I would love to be in an environment very similar to our school in California within a child led environment with a focus on project based learning and inquiry. I am trying to find these places in Melbourne but they are few and far between. I have to say we are lucky my daughters inner city primary school embraces the model of creativity, collaboration and communication within their projects and I was happy to see this when the students shared their work šŸ˜€

When studying at Uni, it seems you are looking through the profession with rose coloured glasses and the focus is on the learner. Whereas in reality the teaching environment is a tough one with issues of bullying from both parents and students. This is something that our society needs to get over and we need more shining examples in society like Jacinta Arden. We need parents to have the guts to be responsible for their kids behaviour and model good behaviour. Before researching behaviour and psychology, I would look at kids at the park and wonder why the behaviour was so off, then I would meet the parents think to myself, “I get it now, you are a bit off yourself.” This translates to the classroom and the behaviour resonates from parent to child and from child to child, and I have seen some interactions that have me wondering, “Where on earth made you so entitled to behave like this?” And then I meet their parents! This ongoing feedback loop and the expectations from teachers is just so unreasonable. In a professional environment, would parents behave this way? Maybe?

Writing this has helped me gather my thoughts and think about my future with 12 subjects and 4 practicums to go which means I am less than half way through my degree program, so maybe I can continue and work as a social experiment? Though really there needs to be a heart in teaching and you need to love it – and yes I do love being with the children and seeing them learn, it makes me happy to see them smile and share their learning with enthusiasm. In amongst all this stuff in the media there is no real mention of the most important factor – the learners in a classroom. Which at the end of the day is what matters the most about teaching, the children. As a takeaway at the end the book Teacher by Gabbie Stroud, it says:

The best answer I can give when I’m asked to suggest solution is that Australia needs a dramatic re-imagining of what education could be in this great country. Fundamental to that re-imagining is time spent dreaming and considering what is possible. We need to contemplate not only what we should teach our children, but also how we should teach them. And we must start valuing our teachers.

I have decided I will carry on and get through it – if only to encourage students to be lifelong learners and appreciate that learning is a process which can be fun. To Australia, let’s break out of the mould and the failed education systems around the world (who focus on data and test scores) and innovate learning in the classrooms using school models such as High Tech High, take notes from real life education visionaries such as Ted Dintersmith and watch his film Most Likely to Succeed and follow exemplary education examples such as Finland and New Zealand. Oh and I found a secret to the optimal learning environment is where the teachers, parents and the students stand together as as a community of learners, at our last school in California – where everyone is involved and respected. These are the exemplars I will call upon to propel me forward and complete this degree program to eventually exercise these approaches with students in 21st century learning environments.

Dandenong Ranges Homeward via Heide – Day 4

As we checked out of our Charming Pioneer Cottage Air Bnb on Thursday we got to feed the sheep some apples one last time. These guys are middle eastern Damara sheep and are the lawnmowers of the property! We got to feed them in the morning and gave them a treat of some bread which they loved. We enjoyed such a relaxing stay with our wonderful host Libby (who also is a children’s book author), it was a perfect place for the three of us and we felt safe in amongst the sounds of the noisy cockatoos and trees.

I had planned for our drive home to stop off at the Heide Museum of Modern Art where I met my friend who lives close by. We stopped by to check out more art and enjoy some picnic snacks from a bakery across the road. It was the perfect little stop for our drive back to return our Car Next Door car share back to its spot.

Checking out what we experienced it was an art focussed family getaway to refresh and restore ourselves before we hit the next phase of our time in Melbourne in our rental property and our family is reunited again in a couple of weeks!

William Ricketts Sanctuary – the Dandenongs Day 3

To visit this sanctuary it will take your breath away with its dedication to the plight of Indigenous Australians by the sculptor William Ricketts. According to the video interview, William’s spirit animal was the Lyrebird where you see him dance as a Lyrebird sharing his inspiration and love for the earth and Indigenous Australia. I loved his sincere dedication as being the channel to share this art with the world. This sanctuary is a place of beauty, contemplation and peace where you are surrounded by a history of Indigenous Australia. Where the connection to the earth is fully present in what we need to see today, this sanctuary is something humanity has dealt with – the cruelty of colonialism. But breaking through the ugliness of this is the beauty in people and hope that we can exist on this earth together with nature.

After our William Ricketts experience we drove down to Birdsland Reserve to have a picnic lunch and go for a wander around the waters where we found a heron and a cormorant. Our Air Bnb host said to arrive there early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see lots of kangaroos. But as our day panned out we were there in the middle of the day and as we sat down at our table we were immediately surrounded by kookaburras! As Missy was about to eat a hot cross bun a kookaburra swooped down and landed on our table, we took one look at that beak and decided it would be safer to move somewhere else away from this wild kookas as I had heard they will steal snags from the BBQ.

After the Rone exhibition we went on the Sherbrooke Falls hike where we wandered on a small 45 minute walk in amongst the trees to see a little creek and find the small waterfall. I was thankful as our host told us not to expect Niagara falls which helped curb the excitement! The kids loved these very friendly Rosellas, due to humans feeding these guys over the years they have learnt to be trusting of humans and come very close to see if they can score some food.

Rone Empire in the Dandenong Ranges – Day 2

These pictures capture our time in this incredible exhibition experience! I have never experienced anything like this before in my life with the way that artists collaborated in such a way that you felt that you were among someones life left long ago, love that has been lost and left behind to wither over the ages. It was absolutely breath taking in its grandeur and the organic elements within taking over the house was something so unexpected and worked so beautifully. The addition of the technology element with augmented reality where you could see how the space was before it had been transformed through to the end of the exhibition with a gallery space and a virtual reality film where you felt immersed in the whole process of transformation. I was so happy to experience this with the children they just loved it too and were there with their phones capturing their favourite elements of the exhibit right down to the details.

Here you see the augmented reality and the way the room looked before it was transformed into the sun room space complete with a knitting bag. The hallway arbour of sticks was stunning and felt so natural in the space. I was chatting to one of the exhibition people and they were saying as it is a heritage building it is going back to the way it was before and apparently in the future it will be a fancy hotel.

Dandenong Ranges getaway Day 1

The inspiration for our little getaway over the school holidays was to go to see the Rone exhibition at the Burnham Beeches mansion in the Dandenong Ranges. My friend had shared some of his work on Instagram and as soon as the show was announced here I was on it! So I got a rental car and drove up carefully – the first time I have driven on the left hand side of the road in years to our little Air Bnb for the week.

Our first stop before check in was Grants picnic ground where you can get delicious pies for a late lunch and go and feed some cockatoos for $4 for plate of seed. The kids loved it and so did I and I was blown away to experience so many cockatoos in one place. After our fun with the birds we wandered over to the forest where you can get a glimpse into the feel of the National Park and it was absolutely divine to be amongst the giant Mountain Ash and huge ferns. I have not been hiking in Australia in 12 years and my experiences have been in amongst the redwood forests of Northern California, it was so good to be home amongst the trees again!

Oz Birthday Celebrations

Geez it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I totally missed my birthday celebration post! So here it is, as a quickie. I spent my first birthday in Australia for the first time in 8 years off to the optometrist to get some new glasses and grab a lovely Vietnamese lunch. I also enjoyed the treat of going to a brow bar to get my eyebrows waxed and dyed. In the arvo I came home and chatted my afternoon away to my friends (a call from CA) and family for birthday calls, until the kids came home. Then it was time for beet birthday cake and what cake fail that was! I loved the birthday candles and the song from the kids but the cake really needed a food processor and not a Nutri Bullet to get the right consistency, oh well live and learn. Now the beet cake has transformed into beet brownies.

Later in the evening I met friends at a bar which we soon realised was not very kid friendly as there were people smoking weed out the back so we hightailed it for something a bit more vegetarian and celebratory – The Vegie Bar in Fitzroy. I had not been there in years, and it was so good. The cool thing is that it has been around for 30 years, even before everyone was eating plant based. I enjoyed some vegan udon noodles with a ginger cocktail on the side and my friends and fam enjoyed a burger, nachos and pizza. They also some some delicious gnocchi on the menu that I will try next time I am there. Afterwards it was ice cream time next door at Girls and Boys where there were vegan treats, so good to have vegan ice cream though my hubby will not agree but I promised him a dairy based ice cream when he comes back to Australia at the end of April.

Oh and another reason why I have not been up to date with this was that as soon as my birthday was over I had to hit the books and complete my paper for Uni. Now I am procrastinating and writing this!