Mourning

West Beach

I think yesterday was probably the last day I’ll stroll along the beach wearing summer clothes. It was an unseasonably warm autumn day.

I will miss summer but I do love the change of seasons.

Digging

The lad put his bathers on, but didn’t go into the water to get them all wet. See his short hair? It hasn’t been short for a while. That itchy head he’s been complaining of for the last week resulted in this haircut because of nits. I found them on Saturday as I was trying to prepare for a dinner party.

So I had an unscheduled extra load on my day of washing, cutting and combing hair, and making beds. I’d caught it early so there weren’t too many bugs to comb out. But my head’s been itchy ever since.

Running

I’m so glad we get a guest dog staying over every now and then. I really really miss having a dog around the place ever since Monty died. I dreamed about her the other night.

She was lying on the floor and I walked up to her. She started talking to me. I can’t remember what she said but just the fact that she talked to me, and that she appeared a lot younger than my last memories of her.

I woke shortly afterwards and cried. I had to get up just to calm down a bit. I hadn’t expected grief to hit me unawares in my sleep like that. It’s also a bit weird getting used to talking about her in the past tense.

Psst, listen

 

Listening at the Whispering Wall

It was beautiful weather on the weekend so we spent one day doing domestic things, and the next day getting out and being the tourist in our area thing.

I love being a tourist in our town. It was a bit of a drive from our place to the Whispering Wall at Williamstown but a lovely one.

Whispering Wall

I went to the Whispering Wall when I was in high school – so some time ago now. I had visions of it being an old stone wall. I don’t remember the dam at all. My, how time changes memories.

Whispering Wall

One of you stands at one end, and the other at the other end and the acoustics of the wall allow you to talk to each other. It’s really amazing. The trouble is you can’t think of anything good to say, so there’s lots of hallos, and, can you hear me?

We met some Ukrainians, and we were surrounded by other Adelaide visitors also. It must be in the guide books as a place to visit.

Williamstown is pretty too, and it had a market on the day we were there but we didn’t stop as we were on a geocaching mission.

IMG_1047

We didn’t do very well with a count of one in four geocaches.

But we had a great day apart from one meltdown when JJ wanted me to stop on windy roads for geocaches and there was nowhere to park.

We ended up dropping in at a friend’s place on the way home, and then went to a nearby pub to listen to jazz music. Another friend’s dad plays in a jazz band which just happened to be playing that day.

We had fun.

His schooling has turned a corner

My son started grade 6 this year. In most states of Australia that would be the last year of primary school but in South Australia he’s in the second to last year. He’s now in senior school and there’s a noticeable difference in teachers’ expectations of him, particularly when it comes to homework.

My son has never been organised – never. I’ve tried all sorts of methods to get him to remember stuff but I’m not at school with him when he finishes as he goes to after school care so I have no control over him bringing home the things he needs for homework including the diary that’s supposed to have what homework he’s supposed to be doing written in it.

I’ve never been a fan of homework because it just seemed stressful to me, and it seemed stressful for him. As he goes to after school care most days he’s tired when he gets home and the last thing either of us want to do is more work. Spelling lists were a nightmare where I would get annoyed with him for not trying, and he would get annoyed with me for not being patient enough. A couple of years he’s had a homework contract where there’s a page to a week and there’s different tasks to do from maths, spelling to saying what sport and jobs you did around the house. Many weeks saw him whiz through this the day that it was due with a real half-hearted effort. Gentle reminding from me never really seemed to help when he didn’t really want to do it.

In week three of this term I finally saw his diary – after repeatedly asking him for it – and there were some notes in it from the teacher saying that it wasn’t signed and that he hadn’t done aspects of his homework. One of the notes said it might be a good idea to meet to make a homework plan.

This was on a night when he was having huge trouble doing one of his assignments. This year is the first year that he’s had a weekly assignment to do and this one was a huge one it seemed to me.

See, he’s had trouble with his spelling from early primary years. Having trouble spelling means having trouble writing for him too. So the first part of this assignment involved writing ten things that he observed about an exhibition they’d been to the previous week. Not that hard you would think. But it was for both of us. See, he said he couldn’t remember what he’d seen.

Come on, I said, you’re really observant. Surely you can remember what you saw there?

It took an hour to get nearly ten things down on paper and this was only the first part of the assignment. There were still six or so other questions – most of them involving writing. It meant by the end of the hour both of us were frustrated. This is why I could never home school my own child. I might be okay with someone elses, but not my own.

I never thought he would finish this assignment.

The next day on Twitter I asked for help with resources for helping a kid to improve their spelling and the lovely Joh messaged me and made me feel a lot better. She asked if he enjoyed reading and when I said that he did she said not to worry too much about spelling as that would follow. That made me feel a bit better but I thought he’s still got to wade through the rest of that bloody homework. And the amount of homework is only going to get worse from here.

Meanwhile I made an appointment for both of us to meet with the teacher.

She sat down with us after school one day and went through the data she’d collected about JJ since the beginning of that year – all three weeks of it. I’ve never had a teacher talk data before. She’d noticed that his comprehension was really really good, but his spelling let him down and asked both of us why we thought that might be. I mentioned that a previous teacher thought he might be dyslexic. She also asked if JJ had missed much school and I said that no he hadn’t.

I mentioned that he’d had behavioural issues in class before that meant in some classes he was sent out a lot as that was how some teachers seem to manage it so it was partly his fault that he’d missed out on some schooling. I asked how he was in her classroom and she said that he wasn’t disruptive at all. I said that this would be the first class he hasn’t been disruptive in. I know from meeting her that she won’t tolerate it and she seems to have the respect of the kids so that they don’t want to be disruptive.

It’s only taken seven years of schooling to get to this point, HALLELUJAH! Go JJ!!!!

She basically told us that JJ was a bit lazy when it came to some aspects of his schooling and while that’s not great to hear it made perfect sense. She told us that so long as he makes an effort now, it will reap rewards fairly soon and that he will catch up.

We were with her for about twenty minutes, and JJ and I left the meeting both feeling really good. He has improved out of site since. He managed to finish this assignment and while he hasn’t been given his mark yet, it looks fairly promising although his teacher said he didn’t need to write so many slabs of text. He’s even mentioned to me that he feels smarter.

He’s since done another assignment and got a B+. He did this assignment without any stress on his part, or mine.

He used to ask me how to spell words that he should have known how to spell, like ‘with’. His confidence has picked up that he now doesn’t, but if he does I tell him that he should know how to do that and he at least gives it a go.

I emailed the teacher to thank her for the meeting and to say that I’d noticed an improvement.

She replied back with, ‘He certainly seems switched on and very keen to learn. I have already noticed an improvement in what he is handing up to me. I think he is the kind of child who likes to be challenged as he is a bright and creative thinker.
He already is a “smart” kid!’

I’m hopeful for the rest of his schooling years now. And it’s such a relief.

More things I love about you

It’s the eve of the beginning of a new school year. Where did the last six weeks of school holidays go? I joked to someone yesterday that it will be Christmas soon. I could have slapped myself, but I know that time is travelling faster the older I get. Scary.

Here’s some more things that my son loves about me according to his Christmas present to me.

MUM

Friendly, Nice,

Fun, Caring,

Jenny’s nice to be around.

Listens, helps, cares,

Epic, cool.

My mum

And here’s another one.

You like to play Skylanders with me,

unfortunately shop with me,

have a walk with me,

talk to me,

and much much more.

You can use the computer 1,000,000 times better than me.

You teach me.

You even created me.

You are the Best mum I could have!

The school uniform is all ready for the morning and I think this year is the first year in his seven years of school so far that he’s looking forward to going back to school. I hope it lives up to his expectations. It seems like yesterday that we were both anxious about his first day at school.

The things I love about you

Relaxing. Day 355/366.

I didn’t write that much about Christmas but my son made me something that I want to share.

He made me a little booklet with the title on the front ‘The things I love about you’.

I want to share some of those things.

The things that I love about you is when I ask for a hand you give me a hand.

You help with problems and find a solution.

You look out for me, and make sure I’m safe.

You care and respect everyone.

You listen to what they say and give every one an equal chance.

You have helped with maths, tried to help in spelling and helped my English and all.

We have had fights but they’re all solved. You’ve taught me right and wrong.

And I love you for that!

Awww.

Yes, I have tried to teach him spelling, and so have his teachers. I corrected the spelling mistakes and put some full stops and capitals in the above, but the commas are all his.

There’s more. But that’s to come. And I promised him that I’m going to do the ‘Things I love about you’ for him as well.

The circus

At Cirque du Soleil - take 1.

The circus was in town during the last month and on a whim I bought tickets for JJ and myself. A bit of an expensive whim mind you, and I didn’t even get the most expensive tickets.

It was JJ’s first ever circus and about my third Cirque du Soleil.

It was a 42 degree day when we went but luckily the tent was air conditioned. I’d had a quick glance at the website that informed me the two acts went for an hour each with a half hour intermission.

However, when the first half finished we were only about 35-40 minutes into the show. Bit weird I thought.

At the end of it I felt a bit underwhelmed and JJ wondered why we hadn’t seen any trapeze acts.

I didn’t think too much more about it until the next evening when a friend rang me and asked what I’d thought of the show as she’d been at the same one.

I told her I felt a bit underwhelmed with it all and she told me that they’d cut quite a few acts. She’d spoken to others who’d been and she’d had a look at the website and realised that we’d missed out on some of the really good acts.

She’d rung up the head office in Montreal and was trying to sort out some sort of compensation for not seeing the show. She thought as we lived closer that we could go in if we wanted to see what we could sort out.

There had been no communication whatsoever to us that the show was being cut short. That annoyed the both of us. They’d cancelled the matinee show the day after hours when it was around 45 degrees. I think they perhaps should have cancelled ours. I can understand they’ve got to consider the welfare of the performers but….

So, the next day JJ and I went back to the circus and explained that we weren’t happy with missing out on a chunky proportion of the show and was there anything they could do for us?

I’m not comfortable complaining about bad customer service or about something not meeting my expectations but my main motivation for this was the amount of money we paid and not getting our money’s worth. Also, I felt cheated and I don’t like that feeling.

We ended up getting tickets for that afternoon’s matinee. At the beginning of the show we were informed that the show may be modified. If it was I didn’t notice as we saw the trapeze act – spectacular. And the trampolining – really bloody excellent.

So getting tickets for another show at such late notice worked for us because there were seats available in the same price range as we’d previously had. For those with more expensive seats probably not so much.

And after seeing the show again, JJ and I both felt totally satisfied.

Luckily my friend has got tickets to see any Cirque du Soleil show under the big tent anywhere in the world to make up for their lacklustre experience.

So we were much happier customers afterwards. We even spent $15 on two drinks, $11 on two icecreams and JJ bought the CD – well he chipped in a few bucks and me the rest.

After Cirque du Soleil - take 2.

 

Catch up

The sun sets on Christmas Eve 2012. Day 359/366.

Photo above taken on Christmas Eve from a friend’s balcony. And ever since then I’ve had something on every day. I hardly drew breath after I finished work for 2012 until now. But it’s going to be 44 degrees celsius here today and I’m not really keen on venturing outside too much.

Christmas Day. Day 360/366.

I had a good Christmas. I was the hosted it at my place and had my family minus one sister, and The Surfer’s parents and his two kids. It was the first time our parents have met and it went well. I’d borrowed a trestle table from a friend which meant we could sit outside under the shade. I don’t have the room to accommodate that many people inside for a sit down meal.

Unwrapping Christmas presents happened in two seconds and it makes you wonder why you bother stressing out over purchasing a gift that you’ll hope the recipient likes when it’s all over so quickly. Should one person unwrap one present at a time and gush over it more?  I don’t know.

We were in bed before 10pm that night and then I felt like my holidays could really begin.

11.5 years old, Boxing Day 2012. Day 361/366.

We had another function on Boxing Day, also the day that my son is half a year away from his last and next birthdays. You’d think at 11 and a half that he’d remember to bring his jumpers home with him. We retrieved one, but one is still missing in action.

But in other news he’s a baby whisperer. Jumping ahead a week or so to yesterday, we visited a friend from work who had a baby on the same day as my birthday a couple of months ago. She had been feeling a bit housebound and a consequently a bit down and said that we brightened her day. JJ was so good with the baby that I could foresee his future as a dad. I told him this, and he reckons that he’ll let the mother take care of his baby for the first couple of years and once it can talk and walk then he’ll be a bit more interested and have more to do with it. I don’t think that’s true but I can relate because that’s how I felt, but didn’t have that option. However, after h0lding an unsettled baby and putting him to sleep a couple of times, I’m kind of looking forward to maybe becoming a grandparent one day. And as a parent it was fantastic to see him having an intelligent conversation about his passions with another adult.

Trying out a new mattress. Day 362/366.

I lashed out and bought my son a new bed mattress. Nine years ago or so, I bought him a brand new bed and the mattress I bought with it wasn’t that great. He has been complaining about it and saying that mine’s heaps more comfortable. Now he’s got the really comfortable one and I waved bye-bye to the old one this morning to the lovely guys who delivered the new one.

North Beach, Wallaroo. Day 363/366.

I visited my sister who lives a couple of hours away, the one who didn’t make it on Christmas Day. She lives ten minutes away from this beach you can drive onto. It’s one of those ones where you have to walk out a long way to get into any sort of deep water. But the dog and JJ had a great time.

Lunch with the girls. Day 364/366.

More catching up was done with some ex colleagues. We always have a great time when we catch up and this time was no exception. JJ took this photo and exhibited the patience of a saint while catering to four women who didn’t want to show their double chins or have photos taken with their eyes closed. I wish I’d sat up straighter!

Resting. Day 365/366.

By the time the eve of New Year’s Eve turned up a good relax was needed. This was after a big beach session and a very busy week.

To wave goodbye to 2012 we went to a friend’s place at Port Elliott. They’ve just built a big shed in their backyard which was where the kids camped for the night. Because they pretty much occupied themselves it was like they weren’t even there apart from being fed and bringing in the new year. I love parties where you get to hang out with a close group of friends. It wasn’t a big party but that just means you can get around and really talk to most people. The boys there were a bit younger than JJ and he showed some really great responsibility towards them by including them, and making sure they had permission to go over to the playground across the road.

I struggled to make it to midnight and then got my second wind and didn’t get to bed until 4am. The next morning after a couple of heavy duty disprin, some food, a coffee and a swim in the ocean, I felt fairly normal. I was okay to drive home later on that day anyway, unlike the man I drove home who’d stayed up all night polishing of my bourbon.

I’ve got a few more days of holidays, a week of work then a few more days off to go to Kangaroo Island.