Back home by the beach

IMG_8462

The trip I have patiently been waiting for has arrived, and I am now back at home with my family. It is so good to be at home with everyone and being at a place where my feet feel firmly planted on the ground – this is the place where my roots feel the most grounded and somewhere I belong. It is funny when you go back home you really appreciate the depth of family love and experience that can never be replicated even by close friends. That is the hardest thing I find living miles away from my family.

I am creating experiences and memories for my kids with bringing them to this place we call home – a place where they can enjoy the freedom and the friendliness of this wonderful country. I have been enjoying walking along the beachfront every day and saying hello to the people passing by. This alone is something the children really love, and they ask me, “do you know that person”, and it is always a no, but here in Australia, people don’t mind saying hello to each other as it does not cost a thing. In the USA this was hard for me to get used to – being in a place where even in the same apartment complex everyone is way too busy even to say a Good Morning. I am used to it now after being there for 10 years, and you just acclimate to whatever is the norm of the culture you are living in – eventually.

Walking along the beach and the rocks with or without shoes have been just beautiful as it is so relaxing and quiet around here away from the rushed life of the everyday. The red cliffs of Redcliffe have such a variation in colour, and I am looking at them in a new light and enjoying the patterns and formations.

IMG_6376

The incredible food is one of my fave things when coming home and enjoying Smoked Tasmanian Salmon over a quinoa rice bowl with locally grown avocados and salad with the newfound seeds and flavours of Dukkah.

In my wanderings around the neighbourhood, I finally found some frangipani even though it is the middle of winter. The sunrise and sunsets have been absolutely breathtaking in the big Australian skies. And I found a cocoon of the case moth a caterpillar who travels with his cocoon wherever they go – I have not seen one of these for ages!

When we come here we enjoy going to the library to source out some new books, I found ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein that I have been wanting to read for ages. No way will I be able to read this by the end of next week, but it has been fascinating. Next to the library is a gallery space and this time there was a quilting exhibition that I could not resist going to so I said to my Mum and Dad I will just be 5 minutes and 15 minutes later my Dad was saying its time to go now! They were with Missy who had said to them this happens all the time, my mum likes to talk to people and she was right, I really enjoyed chatting to a couple of the ladies who were part of the quilting collective, and we talked quilts and fabrics. Such a great opportunity to share information about fabric stores and sewing techniques and one day I will make my own quilt too! Afterwards, Mum wanted to go to the bakery – a real Aussie bakery complete with custard and neenish tarts, vanilla slices and fresh sausage rolls, that was worth leaving the exhibition for!

IMG_6426

I am getting used to the new face of Redcliffe with its cinder block base house construction, big window houses overlooking the sea. From what I can see the blocks of land are gigantic with a double block property a few houses down from this place currently for sale at over $3 million dollars. Though it is evident that the blocks of land are subdivided and smaller, taller properties are built and sold in a very contemporary house design that maximises space. Still, it is always good for inspiration to wander new neighbourhoods for ideas!

Bye Bye Bella

IMG_8427

I figured I might write this while I am at the airport waiting for my flight to Australia. I will be arriving on Wednesday in Australia and will be losing Tuesday up in the sky, so better now than never! We met our amazing house sitters today who will be taking care of our baby girl Bella while we travel down under, it was so good to share local knowledge so they can enjoy their travels in the Bay Area.

IMG_8431 (1)

The holidays started and we are all relaxed all ready to go home to Australia for a while – I am so looking forward to seeing everyone and eating some yummy food with family and friends. This week my son had a broadcasting camp which he loved and created some very cool YouTube videos. I was at home with Missy making all sorts of things from homemade chocolate, sewing a skirt and making felt cat toys in between packing and making our house look neat and presentable for our house sitters.

We have 30 minutes to board so; literally, I gotta Fly!

Raise a glass to freedom

IMG_8365

The first few days of the school holidays and yes it has been exciting! No, actually it felt like a very long week, but I had something to look forward to after completing 2 more subjects in my Teaching course I had a goal of seeing Hamilton – An American Musical in San Francisco. As it happened my good friend and her daughter was seeing it on the same day, so we met for lunch before the show. We were all very excited to see Hamilton at last, after listening to the soundtrack many times!!

To pass the time this week – the kids enjoyed cat encounters at their swimming class in the Los Altos Hills.

IMG_8361

I experimented with coconut milk and rockmelon to make this delicious lassi. Another fave food item I found this week was Coconut Manna my neighbour made me buy it to taste it, and it is divine, I made raw brownie bites as a treat! I need to catalogue this as it was too easy to make and way cheaper than buying chocolate as an after dinner treat.

And finally Saturday came around, and I was preparing for my adventure on Thursday as there were little things to organise like making sure I had the ticket!! So it turned out I was sitting alone in the Loge section of the theatre at seat C26, and it was incredible, it was hard to know when you spend so much on a ticket to the show and hope that the seats are good. This turned out perfect, and with my binoculars, I got an excellent view of the whole cast.  The funny thing was in all the seats in the theatre I bought a seat sitting behind friends from Mountain View who had bought their tickets in December – all 6 of them! Now that is a small world :D, and there they are in front of me in the bottom image.

Funnily enough, I actually enjoy going to the theatre but spending the $ and finding a show I love is rare – rare enough that in all the 10 years I have lived in the Bay Area I have not been to one show in San Francisco. I have been to smaller productions here locally but not a Broadway show, and I was blown away by how spectacular it was! Now I really get the amount of cash spent on tickets for shows like this as they are incredible. I really enjoyed the soundtrack, and I realised if I don’t go to see this show in San Francisco when will be the time to see it? I am not going to New York anytime soon, and that show was totally sold out anyway! So I managed to find a seat between some friendly folks and really enjoyed my first Broadway show experience here in San Francisco! The pictures say it all, I was very excited!!

After the show, I met up for a final farewell to my friends before the summer, and we take off to Australia – it was so cool for my friend’s daughter to get a signed autograph and picture of Ryan Alvarado who played Hamilton at our matinee performance!

Sunday was the ice cream social at our park, and the neighbours came out in force getting their free ice cream on a windy, sunny day! I met my lovely friend / ceramic teacher Susan who did the face painting for the kiddos, and her work is beautiful, and all the kids were super happy, I especially loved the huge unicorn on my neighbours face.

 

Goodbye School – literally!

IMG_8315

Another year over and now I have a 7th and a 4th-grade child, what is going on! Over the weekend we made some handmade chocolates as teacher gifts, as chocolate is always good plus it makes you happy! The kids wrote thank you cards and made the chocolates for their teachers (all 7 of them!) and that was goodbye to another year of school. Our school is out for summer, and now we have 9 weeks of fluffing around till we get back into it all again… at least one month of it we will be on the other side of the world and back home to Australia.

Here is Missy with her teacher Mr A who loves fishing we found this super cool fish stuffie at Olympic National Park and thought it would make the perfect thank you gift for an amazing year! Mr A has empowered our children with the power of being able to fix, make, craft, write, hammer, drill, paint, staple and most importantly DO. It has been the best year for all of us in 3rd grade!

Our school is being remade over the next couple of years, so the class walls had many caring words written on them in Sharpie, the kids were finding it tough to say goodbye today, but we had to be out of the campus before the school is demolished! Off we went to lunch with some friends and then a pool party, it was certainly an excellent way to start the summer!

IMG_3644

I love putting myself under deadlines so, I decided today I wanted to make a bag for Mr A as a farewell gift to put the salmon in and I love how this great white shark flannel works with the FabMo pocket, and I love my machine and how it makes the best buttonholes for these vintage buttons to match the fabric. So now after my assessments are submitted each weighing 50% is now time to decompress for a bit, before I finally wrap up my 12 weeks of study! Just two weeks to go and we are out of here, and then it will be time to well and truly chill out on the beach and enjoy some family time together – YES!

Chicks rule

IMG_3459

In a random event of conversation began our foray into the land of 4H.  The 4H pledge goes “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world,” indeed a pledge I could believe in.  The Rolling Hills 4H Club introduced us to the wonderful world of farm animals.

The chicken AKA, the gateway animal to urban farming according to Novella Carpenter, introduced us to caring for an animal that provides us with delicious eggs. Little did we know when we signed up for the Chicken Project that we would learn to love these girls! Going to a chicken show in Modesto we saw the many breeds that we are now raising in little brooding boxes.

 

IMG_3597
This Serama chick may be a rooster!
IMG_3602
The Polish chick is wondering what is going on with the Silkie chick doing yoga

 

We have been having a great time in the house having the chicks in the lounge room listening to their little peeps whenever they are awake.

We took them outside for some sunshine the other day and saw a cute hummingbird in the tree with red leaves flying overhead. The next moment we saw a hawk swooping overhead and we were so lucky as we quickly ran inside with all the chicks to save them from a near death experience! The little pullets (a chick under a year old) were hiding out underneath an overgrown Italian parsley bush for safety – they knew how to do it but we had them out in broad daylight on open grass, we all learned a valuable lesson about keeping the chicks safe!

When you look after chicks in brooding boxes you conduct your own research on whether there are roosters in the gang. So Missy discovered while she was Google searching that the chicks with the crests already are most likely roosters. Time will tell, and the roosters will not be staying at the farm with the girls, eventually, they will be rehoused – someone did mention Hidden Villa in Los Altos?!

IMG_3561
Outstretched Silkie getting some rays
IMG_3530
A very inquisitive Serama chick

These chicks have been an excellent distraction from my last two assessments, and I love watching them. These two above have very interesting personalities with the fluffy Cochin chick spreading her little body out flat on the grass in the sunshine, and the little black Serama (a breed from Malaysia, the world’s smallest chicken) is quite the people’s chick and loves any interaction with humans.

Only 1 week to go and my 2nd teaching period is done, a combination of Science and Maths has been excellent, and I now have a newfound appreciation for both of these subjects and how to teach them to get the kids excited!

 

Farewell

IMG_8213

This time of year there is so much to do, and we catch up with many people before the summer is out. The one big event at our school last Friday was saying farewell to the playground before construction comes in to take it away, tear down some trees and place our temporary school in the same spot as the playground. The new school will be built at the current location while our school of over 300 kids in their portable classrooms with a grass playground – it will be a tight fit I imagine! It is going to be our last and quite a dramatic year at school next year!

IMG_8248

So Friday night I went out with my lady friends to enjoy cocktails and a lovely dinner at Scratch to relax. We all needed it, and this is a great tradition we have to 1. catch up with each other and 2. to celebrate each others birthdays. This pic was taken to remind me of the good times in Mountain View and the city I have called home for the last ten years – it is now time to go back to “our home” in Australia in 2018 and be with our families!

IMG_8211

I have been studying mostly and writing my final two assessments worth 50% each on the subjects of mathematics and science, very current topics that I feel are so important in education. So I am enjoying the assessments but every moment of my time is spent studying and even in the evenings! So between social engagements (three last weekend) and my life and study, there is not much room for much else. Still, each day learning something new and making the most of every day encourages me to have still the energy to continue with the resistance. One of the ways I am giving back is to knit pussyhats for friends, and they can donate $ to a cause that needs it at the time – which indeed are many at the moment. My friend managed to find this gorgeous fuschia in my favourite yarn Malabrigo Rasta – here’s to taking it to the streets and continue to fight for our rights!

Celebrations and Mothers Day relaxation

IMG_3398

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of our beloved school Stevenson PACT Elementary School – it was such a fun filled event full of entertainment, dessert, food trucks, art – a mosaic, and what the kids loved most of all was balloon swords. It was hilarious to see all the kids out on the field sword fighting with balloon swords, and everyone was having such a grand old time doing it!

IMG_3385

The alumni enjoyed seeing their friends who were at other schools and had an excellent time playing, and the adults of the community enjoyed catching up on life.

The school was decorated with some very thoughtful ideas like this tree full of favourite memories and the watercolour flowers made by the kids.

At the end of this week, we say farewell to the beloved spiderweb that I am climbing – it will be removed over the summer to place the new temporary school buildings in its place. It is such a fun play structure, and apparently, the new play structure is nature inspired so we will see how that compares to this super cool spiderweb.

In quiet times when not studying or driving the kids around I sit and knit and made a couple of pussyhats this week for one of our teachers – this is my son’s 1st-grade teacher who wanted a hat for herself and for her daughter. We saw each other at the Women’s March, and I suggested I knit a hat for her in the beautiful Malabrigo Rasta.

IMG_8169

Saturday was a busy day with a yoga class and helping my friend out with a knitting party in the afternoon. So Sunday I really had to get into gear with my last 2 assessments for this teaching period and get on track and now after devoting a few hours of my mothers day to study I feel I can get through it all! Mother’s day was lovely with the kids making a beautiful spread of pancakes, kombucha and a cup of tea complete with flowers freshly picked from the neighbourhood. I said to Ash to come on a bike ride with me as I wanted to take him out for some exercise and we rode a nice 10 miles (16 km) out on the bay. The head wind was not very enjoyable, but it was so lovely to get out and about on such a beautiful day!

And there is my beloved bike on the trail with no one around, we found some binoculars and spotted a pelican – next time we will take our bird watching binoculars!

IMG_8194

 

Bollywood and Into the woods

IMG_3372

The wonderful summer heat was here this week for a fleeting moment and then by the time Friday rolled around the fresh winds came by in time for the Bollywood dance party organised by my friends as an auction item for the school! It was such a fun night with amazing food, cocktails and dancing! It was a gift to myself for submitting my second maths assessment a video presentation on a natural maths phenomenon, which I really enjoyed doing!

 

IMG_20170505_200322
The ladies ready to drink
00001IMG_00001_BURST20170505200301_COVER
It’s selfie time 
IMG_20170505_195554
Enjoying cocktails together! 

 

There was even a dress up corner where you could put on a sari and add accessories of bindis and bangles – we had so much fun! The drinks were flowing, and friends came from the school community, and we were ready to party 😀

Check out the dance floor action here in the video – I loved every minute of this.

Sunday we met our friends from Oakland at Sunol Regional Wilderness Area, and it was the perfect day for a hike with friends. The sun was out as were the butterflies and the bees! It took us a while to find the trail as we wandered along the creek for a while through poison oak until finally, we saw the up arrow!

Along the hike, we spotted so many wildflowers. I have no idea what most of these are called except for the milk thistle and the California poppies.

IMG_3307

The boys work on getting us on the right track after we messed up the first attempt bush bashing through the woods.

IMG_3314IMG_3324

Finally, we were rewarded with open fields of grasses and wildflowers, and my hayfever was in full swing with all the blooms and pollen flying around everywhere. We wandered up to the top of the hill to see the view of Little Yosemite with all the falls below us. Once we got down there, it felt just like Yosemite with lots and lots of people wandering down this one little goat trail to get to the falls and rock scrambling.

I don’t know if the hills on the left are being mined for rocks, but they do look strange. We wandered down many paths, to get to the falls and to check out the water and rocks. It was just beautiful though it would be lovely with not at many folks around so I opted to sit quietly under a tree in the shade for a while to just listen to the water.

The kids really liked rock scrambling around the falls that were not very deep – off went their shoes so they could get their grip on the rocks and explore the area. I enjoyed watching them on a rock as I had a camera that I don’t like to get wet or to hit against rocks, which was fine to just bask in the sunshine.

IMG_3376

It was so fun to get together at last with our friends from O-town and enjoy a hike together amongst the wildflowers and the woods.

Sunshine and springtime chicks

IMG_7985

Finally, the weather has been consistent for the last few days and the weekend was just amazing! These roses are in a garden in the Los Altos Hills where the kids go swimming – the colours are breathtaking.

It is the best time of year to go bike riding as the wildlife and the flowers after the rain are super and there is also a super bloom that you can see from space. Now that the flowers are settled so is my allergies, so it was the perfect day to go riding on Sunday on the path where there were hardly any people and enjoy the peace of the bay. Check out that trail – there is no one there! This is off the main trail heading out to the Bay, but I allowed myself a short ride so I could get back home to clean out the garden and do some sewing and study.

IMG_3247
Missy’s Bantam Silkie chick – fingers crossed it is a girl

 

 

IMG_3268
A Bantam Polish chick
IMG_3263
My fave cute Bantam chick
IMG_3260
Another cute chick
IMG_3258
Cleaning chick feet
IMG_3256
The world’s smallest chicken – a Serama

 

Friday we picked up some Bantam chicks that have just hatched from an egg project from a homeschool family. The eggs were from a very special place in Sonoma where rare breeds of chickens are raised in an organic environment – they are closed to the public due to their breeding programs and having to keep the farm safe from any biohazards. Their collection of chicks and images on their site is so inspiring and make me want to move to the country to a yurt and raise chickens – it is always nice to dream! Still, we are fostering these chicks for the 4H poultry project where the kids will take care of them at home until they are ready to go into the coop with the other 2 bantam chicks. This time we are raising quite a few bantams, and it will be so exciting to watch them grow, they are quite small chickens but oh so cute! I love how the kids are so mesmerised by the chicks and how gentle they are taking care of them every day, 4H really is an incredible program for kids. The chicks sleep a lot of the time flat out on their bellies with their heads in front of them – I had no idea how chicks slept, and they are just gorgeous to watch and such a distraction.

 

IMG_3281
Miss Bella

 

Bella has been sad for the last month or so and has been hanging out with us more as she is really missing her brother Mack – they were the best of friends. She is such a loving cat when she wants to be and is sleeping on our bed a lot at night which we love! I am still missing my best cat friend though as each day passes, I think of all the good times we had together.