Sunday, November 20, 2011

And now onto the next chapter :)

A beautiful bouquet of handprints made for my by the kindergarten children. Everyone at the early learning centre made me feel so special and appreciated on my last day of placement.

I am finished with my Cert. III in Children's Services. I know it's not exactly a PhD, but considering where I've come from in the last couple of years, it may as well be! I'm pretty happy to have completed it. There was a time when I thought I'd never be able to actually attempt and complete anything ever again! But here I am, arriving at the end of 2011, with an actual achievement! I know I sound overly dramatic, but those who've been along for the journey since fibromyalgia upturned my life 5 years ago will realise that this is BIG.

The best part about it is that I LOVE working with preschoolers. When I was a child, I adored kindergarten. ADORED IT! In fact, I mourned the loss of kindergarten for at least my first three years of primary school. Seriously, I was distraught that I couldn't go back to that magic place of playing and painting and singing and collage and playing and painting......Then I settled on the idea that I could go back to kindergarten by becoming a kindergarten teacher when I grew up. That was a great plan, and I held fast to it.........until my latter years of high school when I became interested in health and got detoured into choosing a nursing and health promotion degree when I went to Uni.

It served me well for a time......until my body told me it had had enough. Enough of the stress, the shift work, the understaffing, the exposure to latex, and to all those intravenous medications that became airborne as you were mixing them up....and did I mention the stress? Nurses have a HUGE responsibility, and with my health in rapid decline, I just couldn't do it any more. I always thought I'd go back.......some day.........but my heart just is not in it.

So this year I decided to explore the idea of returning to my first love.......kindergarten. I thought I'd try on the Cert. III in Children's Services for size, to see if I was still interested. After my first placement - working with 2 year olds - I wasn't sure if I'd made the right move. But now, having finished my second placement in a kindergarten room, I know that it is exactly where I should be. I loved every minute of this second placement. The days flew! I couldn't believe that I got to play with children all day long - to guide their learning through all those wonderful activities that I loved so much as a 4 year old. I mean, who doesn't want to spend their days doing great stuff like singing songs, reading stories, painting, making 3D artworks, building huge block constructions, dressing up, playing in the sandpit, going for nature walks and too many other wonderful things to mention.

The best news of all is that, on my last day of placment, the centre director offered me a job! So very soon, I will get to spend my days doing all those wonderful things I mentioned above AND GET PAID FOR DOING IT :-)

Do I want to continue on studying Early Childhood Education? You bet! I am super inspired by this new direction and I really want to jump in completely and keep moving forward. However, I am taking heed of the lessons I've learned over the past 5 years, and I'm pacing myself. There is no rush. I will take 2012 to consolidate some of the improvements I've made healthwise, and to enjoy beginning work as a kindergarten assistant. I will soak up this new direction and enjoy each day as it comes. I will learn from the Early Childhood Educators I meet in "real life" and online. Hopefully, come 2013 I will be healthy enough to take another step forward and start my Grad. Dip in Education (Early Childhood). One step at a time though......I have learned to (try to) focus on the present and not get too carried away about what might happen down the road.

For the present time, I am focusing on my family, our home, and preparing for the festive season. I'm also looking forward to enjoying some creativity now that my days are not filled with assignments and classes. I'm also very involved in working with my naturopath to help my body heal. We are focusing on my food allergies and how these contribute to my pain, fatigue and other fibromyalgia symptoms. Having more time to really concentrate on my health will be really valuable right now.

Hope to be back here again really soon. Have been having a little look around the blog-iverse and I'm liking what I see out there. You are all so clever. You inspire me endlessly. Have a wonderful week. xxx

Monday, November 7, 2011

I can see the light!

Well folks, I am almost there! Almost finished my Children's Services course, that is. I have ONE assignment to finish, two days of TAFE classes left and four more days of placement. I am feeling excited and relieved all at once. By the end of next week I should have it all wrapped up. Yay for me!
I've thoroughly enjoyed my placement this time around and I have to say, it has reignited my interest in further study in this field, perhaps a Grad. Dip. In Education (early childhood). Not just yet though..... I think I'll take a year off study next year and just see how my health holds up to regular work (assuming I can actually find a job). I should know better than to plan too far ahead, but hey, it is nice to dream. I am looking forward to returning to a bit of creativity and crafting over the coming months, once the last of my study is done. So hopefully you'll see more pretty, crafty pictures here on my blog over the next few months. I've missed my bloggy friends so much recently. I'm off to bed now, but I'll return soon, hopefully with triumphant news of completing my course. Lots of love. xxx

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crocheted finger puppets in "My Creative Space"

For my music subject at TAFE we were asked to make some sort of prop that could be used to present music to preschool aged children. I decided to make some crocheted finger puppets. I used a pattern by Leanne Cornford purchased here for the frog and the mouse, but I had to get a bit creative to make the pig - I just adapted the basic body/head pattern and added a piggy snout and ears. I think they're pretty cute :)

In case you haven't figured out what song they're from.......

"A frog went walking on a summers day, a-hum;
A frog went walking on a summers day a-hum;
A frog went walking on a summers day; he met Miss Mousey on the way,
A-hum, a-hum, a-hum, a-hum a-hum".

You can search for it on YouTube if you want to figure out how Mr Pig fits into the story :)

These were pretty fiddly to make. I showed my teacher, who thought they were great and I should make them to sell. Apart from copyright constraints on the pattern, I told her I'd have to charge too much for each one, because each one takes about 2 hours to make. I'm happy to have just these three little finger puppets for me to use on my upcoming placement.

This weekend we have no sport committments for the kids. Jayden has a week off from basketball (they will play in their grand final next weekend) and Corey has finished Auskick for the year. Whatever will we do with our weekend?!! Well for starters, we'll cheer on my beloved Hawks as they take on Sydney in the AFL Semi Finals tonight. Go Hawks!!
Beyond that, we might do a few jobs around the house and maybe get out into the garden over the weekend. What has everyone else got planned?

I've added this link to "Our Creative Spaces" even though I'm a little late this week. I will try to get the next one in on Thursday. There's heaps of gorgeous creativity to be found there, so pop over and check it out. Thanks for stopping by. See you soon. xxx

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Simple pleasures

Having a very quiet day today - let's call it a post TAFE recovery day shall we. Haven't achieved anything much at all, but as a dear friend reminded me this morning on the phone, rest and recovery is NOT wasted time. It is important and it is a part of my life that I need to just accept without feeling guilty.

Anyway, thought I'd take this quiet day to upload some photos from my camera onto the computer. Found these lovely pics, taken about 2 weeks ago, of my boys enjoing a "Lego Day". A Lego day is when we put a tablecloth on the dining table and tip out their entire collection of Lego. It stays there for the whole day and the boys (all 3 of them!) spend as much time as they like using their imaginations to come up with all sorts of marvelous Lego creations. These days often involve staying in our pyjamas until late (or even all day). I love Lego days because they are so relaxed and we get to just all chill out and be together. How does your family spend your "chill out" days together?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 years

Today marks three years since my beautiful friend Olivia lost her battle with cancer. I think about her often and miss hearing her voice on the other end of the phone. Here we are with our newborn babies, almost 10 years ago. Today I remember our friendship. It was way too short.
Miss you Liv. xx

Olivia and T, Anita and J, January 2002.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cluck cluckety cluck cluck!

The theme around here this month is BABIES! No not me sillies! Our niece and her hubby had a little boy on August 2nd and then my dear friend E and her hubby S welcomed their little girl on Tuesday the 16th of August. I've been making baby cards and crocheting baby gifts galore lately. Can't show you my great-nephew's gifts yet, because we haven't had a chance to go and meet him yet, but I can show you some pics of E's baby girl and some of the goodies I made for her.

 Look at her....3 days old and just so sweet.....

Unfortunately, I woke her up snapping pics of her and she did this......

 Still gorgeous, even when she's screaming :)

 She soon settled once she was back in Mummy's arms. Look at that proud Daddy:)

 And here's what I made for Miss S....a pretty pink hat and matching booties....

....and a white crocheted baby blanket, perfect for her cot.

 Here's a close up of the blanket pattern. It has a lovely texture.

And finally, here is the card I made for the proud new Mummy and Daddy. I just love having the chance to make pretty pink goodies :)

 I'll be back soon to show you more of the goodies I've been making. Looking forward to a beautiful sunshine-y weekend here in Melbourne. Hope you have a great one. xxx

Monday, August 1, 2011

August already? Where have I been?

Well, my blog posts seem to be few and far between these days, but it's definitely not because I've been doing nothing. I have been busy with my TAFE course, kids activities, and life in general. Of course, my "busy" pace is a little slower than others as I need to factor in "crash time" for the inevitable fibromyalgia flare ups that come with doing lots.

For the first time this year I have winter vegetables growing in my garden. I've never even attempted a winter crop before, so I am pleasantly surprised to see everything doing so well. Take a look at what we've got....


Broad beans, broccoli, leeks

Doesn't this broccoli look wonderful? And no chemicals!

Our main plot has cabbages, caulis, spinach, silverbeet, beetroot, and a few carrots,

Lovely winter sunshine helps the vegies to grow and the washing to dry!

There are a few pretties in the ornamental side of the garden at the moment too....

OK, so rosemary is edible but it's so pretty when it's in flower I consider it ornamental :)

Gorgeous helibores at the base of our maple tree.

Love how the helibores hang down delicately.

So pretty - helibore or "Winter Rose"

The polygalas always gives the garden a splash of vibrant colour.

The heavenly scent of daphne hits you as soon as you step outside the back door. Our three bushes are loaded with blooms.
My boys are blooming too. They seem to be growing by the day. J is 9 1/2 and is already up to my nose height! He will overtake his Mum at quite a young age I'm sure,  before the end of primary school the way he is going!

Here he is in action at basketball last weekend...

That's J on the ground locked in a battle for the ball. He gets right in there!

Taking instructions from the coach - Peter is a great coach who's been helping J's skill level enormously. J is loving his basketball more than ever.

On the creative front, I've had a few things on the crochet hook, but I can't show you yet, because they are gifts waiting to be given to some babies who aren't yet born :) Any day exciting!

I can show you this little hat I made for my friend B's little man who recently had his first birthday. They live at Barwon Heads, so I posted it down there. Would love to see a photo of him with it on so I can check how it fits.

Well, that's about all my news for the moment. Lots of homework to get done, so I had better refocus and knuckle down. I'm halfway through my course, which is a good thing, but I'm having trouble getting motivated for second semester. Maybe the arrival of Spring in a few weeks will help. Nothing like a bit of sunshine to get me going! See you all soon. xxx

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A quiet house = thinking time.

My boys are away having a holiday at Granmama and Papa's house this week, so my house sure is quiet....apart from my noisy little dog having a barking outburst at the mailman, the guy reading the electricity meter, or anyone else who passes by!
Yesterday was the last day of my childcare placement. I've done 10 days of placement (over 5 weeks) in a room full of 2 1/2 year olds. Talk about action packed! I will miss seeing those cute little kiddies. Such a gorgeous age group - challenging at times, but definitely gorgeous :)
Now I have a whole lot of homework to do; placement tasks to prove what I've learnt while on placement. At the end of the day, it's not rocket science. Maybe it's a bit more tricky for those young girlies straight out of high school, but for a 35 year old gal like me, with lots of life/work experience and a couple of kiddies of my own, it's mostly common sense. By the end of my stay I was hankering for a bit more creative freedom - bursting with ideas for activities I'd like to try with the children. I came home to My Mr and chatted about the fact that I'd like the autonomy of running my own room if I'm going to work in Children's Services. That, however, would require me to go on to do my Diploma and, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Living with fibromyalgia means saying goodbye to planning too far ahead. I have learnt over the past (almost) 5 years that I need to take things one step at a time and be open to changing my plans at a moments notice. I also need to realise that it's unrealistic to think that I will be able to work any more than a couple of short days per week (2 five hour shifts would be perfect to start with). Taking on any more than that at the moment is guaranteed to see my health crash. Frustrating, but true.
I've always been ambitious. Keen to study, to learn, to advance my skills and knowledge. I have countless dreams in my head of things I'd like to do. I've always secretly wanted to become an expert in my field and eventually teach others at tertiary level. Maybe it will happen one day, maybe it won't. I have learnt patience since my health collapsed. It has been a very hard lesson at times.
I have recently finished a book by Toni Bernhard called "How to Be Sick - a Buddhist inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers". While I have no background knowledge of Buddhism, I found Toni's book to be very helpful. It gives ideas and exercises for dealing with the trials and frustrations of living with chronic illness. While they do not claim to eliminate physical symptoms, I think these practices could make a real difference to the amount of mental suffering we endure when living with long term illness. I have read the book through once and intend now to go through it more slowly, chapter by chapter, to try to incorporate some of the ideas into my everyday life.
At the end of the day, this is how my life is now. I need to find ways to help me deal with this reality. Ways to find peace in spite of physical symptoms. None of us knows what the future will hold. We only have the here and now. Happiness comes from being mindful and present in every moment; noticing the beauty in the details of your life today.  I try to remember that when my mind starts skipping too far into the future, building castles in the sky.

Today I will rest and recuperate after some very busy days. I will relax in a long, hot bath. I will be gentle with my tired, aching body, and try to quiet my chattering mind. Then I will be ready to drive up to my home town tomorrow and pick up my beloved boys.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yes, I still make stuff :)

For those of you wondering if I ever do anything crafty anymore, here is proof that I do! I finished this crocheted cushion just in time for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday on Sunday. I have never made a crocheted cushion before and I was a little stumped about how to fill in the gaps around the outside of the hexagons to make the cushion top round. I kind of made it up as I went and I think it turned out pretty well. Then I realised that round cushion inserts were unlikely to be found, so I made one up out of calico and fibre-fill. Seemed to do the job nicely. The back of the cushion is plain green, crocheted in the round (forgot to take a pic of that) and then I joined the top and bottom with a line of double crochet (UK/AUS terminology).
My mother-in-law, Margaret, lives in a nursing home and has dementia. While she probably won't remember where this cushion came from, I hope she gets pleasure from having it around. It has lovely texture and colours, and is soft and squishy :)

We celebrated Margaret's 80th with a lovely afternoon tea hosted by my brother-in-law and his wife  at their home. Margaret's older sister Joan made the journey down from Canberra by bus for the occasion - a big effort for a lady who turns 82 on Friday. Margaret and Joan's brother Neville was there with his wife Jean, as was her brother-in-law Pat and his wife Joan. Add to that almost all of her children and grandchildren, and we had quite a gathering!

Here are a few photos:

Margaret with several of her grandkids.

My boys with their cute cousin

Margaret with sister Joan, Joan and Pat, Jean and Neville.

With her darling daughters..

The cake - couldn't quite fit 80 candles on there.

The birthday girl with her eldest son.

"Happy Birthday to you"

Margaret with her older sister Joan and younger brother Neville.

Catching up with brother Neville.

Margaret and five (out of six) children.
Forgot to take photos of the birthday cards made by the kids and myself, but there were cards :)

I do have photos, however, of some cards that were made for me. My birthday was on May 30th and I had a beautiful, peaceful day. Morning tea with my dear friend E and her little man, lunch at home with my darling husband, out for a quiet dinner with my 3 boys and then home for cake.

From my spunky hubby - he respects my choice of AFL team, even though it's not Richmond :)

By C - complete with hand drawn family portrait :)

By J - with a red balloon because red is my favourite colour :)

Cake made by My Mr :)

So happy to be turning 35 and sharing my life with these two amazing boys (and their beautiful Dad).    I am one seriously blessed girl :)