Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

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Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

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Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

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We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

Friends, Food and Family

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A whole week of planning with the kids as my third teaching period for University commenced. To start the week off, I said to the kid’s let’s visit my friend who manages a book store to stock up on your fave author David Walliams. The USA does not get his book releases as much as Australia. So we did that and went to the cinema on cheapo Monday at the Nova to see Chicken People. We loved it as we are all a bunch of chicken lovers and enjoyed the quirkiness of the chicken obsessed at a chicken show in Ohio and Nashville!

I had to balance some study time in with catching up with friends and their kids for the school holidays. There is nothing like art time and then playtime for the kids and wine by the Yarra River.

I started two units, so I had to devote some time to carving into the work for this week, so I spent a morning in and took the kids shopping in the city and on the way back we found a park to play in complete with a flying fox.

The big day last week was quite random as I wanted to check out the National Trust House property of the Rippon Lea Estate as it is Aunt Prudence’s house from the Ms Fishers Murder Mysteries series that I love so much! The bonus of visiting Rippon Lea Estate is there was a fashion exhibit Night Life focusing on clothing on the 1920s-30s!!

Oh my,  I had such a fun time with my friend checking out the clothing and accessories worn around Melbourne in the high times of partying and living it up in this fabulous city. I loved this era in fashion especially with the bias cut dresses and the beaded dress silhouette including the accessories!

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On our way back to the train station I found this very famous restaurant Attica in the streets of Ripponlea. I had only seen this on a show on Netflix and wondered where it was in Melbourne – the chef is very innovative and forages for a lot of bush food in the dishes and had me glued to the television when I watched it, and it did make me yearn to come back home.

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Oh and the dramas of public transport – we made it to North Melbourne, and one of the kids wanted to get off the train to go to the toilet, so we did with only two stops to our destination. Next train disappeared off the schedule, and the next thing over the loud speaker was we have problems with the train this evening we do not know when they will be running again, now this was 4 pm on a Thursday night – peak hour rush just on the horizon. So what happens next was this disjointed plan to get back to our place via the tram with everyone else leaving the city sardine packed into them as they travelled by. It was a difficult choice to make especially with having the kids with me, so we just walked to the 57 tram near the Victoria market and waited… and waited… it was two and a half hours later, and we were finally home. My phone was dead we got back to the house and plugged in to see what was happening with my dinner plans. So, of course, everyone else was in the same situation, so we just stayed in had a bitch session about how crap it was and had some pizza and wine and catch up such a way to end a Thirsty Thursday!

FriYay and I spent most of the day studying except for lunchtime when I met a friend for lunch in the city, and we went out to Lygon Street for dinner in the evening with my sister in law, her hubby and the cousins. The kids had already had fun though exhausting time with their cousins playing all day, so we had pizza and gelato and headed on home.

Another friend catch up on Saturday with a very old friend of mine from way back when and we went out for Laksa to a favourite haunt of ours from back in the day, the Laksa King and it still tastes amazing! After lunch, we wandered around the hood to check out the million dollar houses and matching fancy cars.

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It was back to school for the kiddos this week in Melbourne, so we had our goodbyes to the cousins and the animals at their house. The menagerie of cats, chickens and dogs was enjoyed by everyone. I will miss my friends and family, but I know I will be returning real soon and knowing this does not make leaving Australia to feel all that bad.

A week of Melbourne Art Immersion

Farewell to the tropics and Hello Melbourne! It is so wonderful to be immersed in the beauty of this city, and I honestly feel like I am home when I am here as this is where my life truly began in my mid-twenties. Studying at RMIT and working as a Graphic Artist then meeting my soul partner and having our baby – who is now 11! So many amazing memories that resonate with life in another world. Now only to get back home that is in Melbourne and settled again!

To start off the holidays we met the cousins at the Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers special exhibit designed by Weta Workshop in New Zealand as a travelling exhibit from NZ. The installations are so lifelike, and the bugs were huge and gave the visitors insight into the amazing world of bugs and even spiders! I really loved it though the kids really zipped through the exhibit we wanted repeat viewings of the zoetrope dragonfly installation where the idea was that saw what it was like to fly like a dragonfly and it was just spectacular.

I met a friend with her daughter at the NGV International Kids area to do free craft activities, and it was perfect for all of our kid’s ages 7 to 11. They could craft away while we caught up with news and happenings in life.

That afternoon I found some yarn bombed trees in Federation Square and knew this is where I belong – the yarn is keeping the trees warm over the winter! I took the kids to see Kedi finally at ACMI, and we just loved it, I would love to see it again just to see all those cats closeup and listen to their fascinating stories.

Friday was a big day, and we went to the zoo with our family – an incredible photo exhibit called Photo Ark was on display. The photographer Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer, has documented 6,531 species in human care. I just loved these images so much, a book is available as well which has many beautiful animal personalities captured. I was in love with the sloth pic!

I really enjoyed the enclosures at the zoo, and there were many opportunities to take pics of these animals my favourite being the lemurs as you could walk around with lemurs in their space staying a metre away from them. Missy’s favourite was the butterfly house where I felt home among the tropics. We stayed all afternoon until the meerkats showed us how cold it was and it was time to go home.

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Saturday I met a good friend and her kids for tea, and we wandered down to the local cafe for a coffee and smashed avo on toast – now that is the business! It makes me so happy to catch up with my friends here 😀

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In the evening we were having a farewell dinner with my mother in law before they drove back to Adelaide – we are getting our cat fixes by hanging out at my sister in laws place and loving their new kitten Izzy!

Sunday was another incredible day of eating Melbourne style with good friends and fantastic food – we went to Maha for a 4 course Sunday session lunch for 2 hours of eating the most incredible food! To me, it is so inspirational the way this restaurant redefines middle eastern flavours, my absolute favourite cuisine. The restaurant had a beautiful ambience with music and comfortable chairs to enjoy a long lunch of divine delicacies. A true Melbourne experience that I would love to do again with everything cooked to perfection and no problem with the Lacto-Ovo pescatarian that I am.

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After lunch I caught up with friends from Choice Hotels International where we met and enjoyed our time together as a Marketing team, it feels so long ago and so much has happened in our lives and lovely to see my work friends again and reminisce on the fun times we had.

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We just happened to be in the city for the Boho Luxe Market in Federation Square where I had to have a quick run through to see what was on offer and of course I was attracted to this vintage bus with vintage clothes, so cool! It is so good to be back in Melbourne with art everywhere.

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The kid’s really enjoyed ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) the place where my husband and I first met 12 years ago, so we had to capture a shot outside. I love Melbourne, and it is so good to be immersed in all these art experiences that will live with me for another year until I come home again!

Jammed pack family fun

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My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

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We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

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Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

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Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

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And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

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Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

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Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

Back home by the beach

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

 

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This Serama chick may be a rooster!
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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?!

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Outstretched Silkie getting some rays
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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!