Robyn

Robyn is Nathan's wife. She was once a teacher. She is now a student at Queensland Theological College. She enjoys playing music and all sorts of exercise. She is the proud owner of two pet turtles.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Translation –
Dear Daddy,
Happy Father’s Day. You’re the best Daddy ever.
Love Soph

photo

Nathan’s College Day

I’ve recently been thinking about how important efficient communication is. As a result I’ve learnt to ‘speak Nathan’s language.’

Meme: Five things in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t be without.

So this is my first meme. Simone and Amy I hope you feel very special. Simone created the initial meme and Amy passed along the link. Deep down I wonder if this is a subliminal way to get more links to your blogs. I’ll oblige as I like you both.

I’m currently at the end of a tiring week and am enjoying lazying around in my flannelette pyjamas. I’ve been in them since 6.20. Awesome.

My top 5 things in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t be without.

1. Dark blue jeans. Comfortable, practical and versitile.

2. Cocktail dresses. I amassed a small collection while living in Townsville.

3. Wallabies jersey. A large dose of sentimentality mixed with an equally a large dose of patriotism.

4. Brown jackets. I have a long and a short one. Looking forward to wearing them more than once per year.

5. No ironing required white skirts. I hate ironing so I like these skirts. They can be dressed up or down.

Now I’m supposed to tag people. I choose Phoebe and Queen Stuss.

Chuck’ed up

You might have read Nathan’s liveblogging of Invasion USA – the Chuck Norris classic. Here’s my take.

This masterpiece opens with a boat of Cuban asylum seekers/drug runners. They’re killed by some nasty boat police. The nasty policemen are wearing aviator sunglasses. It’s funny how aviators went from being an accessory for evil people to something cool people wear. My dad has a pair of aviator sunglasses. I think he found them. Or maybe they found him.

Enter Chuck. I wonder if that’s his intentional name or if it was an accident by his parents at birth. He’s riding a hovercraft. I kind of think that hovercrafts are cool, but a little impractical and don’t have total driving precision.

The movie was interrupted by sleep.

Now there’s a lady with an 80s perm hanging out of a car window. She’s wearing a pink vest and high-rise pink jeans. With fashion like that I think she deserves to die. A second lady obviously thinks her sense of fashion can be redeemed and rescues her. Chuck is driving the car. So far he’s driven a hovercraft and a car. My hero.

The movie was interrupted by sleep again.

Chuck is now driving a car and wearing black gloves.

The movie was interrupted by sleep.

I awoke to the sound of children calmly singing “Row, row, row your boat” on a bus. They’re all sitting nicely and seem well behaved. Only in the movies would something like this happen. Chuck is driving a car again. The car gets blown up.

Chuck managed to get out of the car somehow and is now walking through a show ground. Not sure if he really deserves to travel in a car anymore after what happened to the last one.

The movie was interrupted by a very important game of LineUp. I scored 4682.

Back to Chuckie. He’s now walking through an office carrying a very big gun. I think he’s looking for somebody. He’s about to walk through a door but there’s two baddies on the other side. He shot them both. He’s my hero.

He checks his gun and then throws it away. Too bad because now another guy with a big gun is chasing him. There’s more shooting. I’m quite sick of the shooting noise now. I’ve decided that the movie only contains four different types of gun noises. The big machine gun type, single shot ones, the two bangs from a big gun and general all out shooting by everyone. Aside from that there’s explosions but explosions all sound the same.

Back to the action.  Chuckie and his friend are playing chasies in the office. There’s more shooting outside. That’s where all the action seems to be.  Chuckie’s friend has found a rocket launcher. There are army tanks outside in the street. I think they’re declared the winners because they’re the biggest. Now the contest is between Chuckie and his friend. Chuckie sneaks up behind his friend and shoots him. His blood and guts fly out the window. Slight overkill if you ask me.

And that’s the end of the movie… all in all I think Chuck is a lot like the driver from “Driving Miss Daisy” who carries a big gun. Total hero.

Leaving home.

I don’t know if many of you have moved in and out of rentals.  I assume quite a few of you have. Nobody ever refers to it as an enjoyable experience. Because it’s not. But it’s not usually all that bad either. At least that’s what I thought until our latest real estate experience.

I’d like to think that I’ve approached the rental real estate* game with some experience. We’re currently in my fourth rental in Townsville. It’s the first one we’ve ever had through this particular agency though, and that, I think is the difference.

You see, it’s time to move out. And aside from the mountain of packing and cleaning** that comes with moving out of a rental there’s a  plethora of professionals to coordinate along with the move.

Enter first dilemma. Inflexible trucking company.  Now, I totally understand that they have a schedule to run and they’re coordinating multiple pickups and drivers etc. Actually, the trucking company we’re going with has been excellent so far. They’ve promptly replied to any questions and messages I’ve left, given me up to date information and seem reasonably priced. Hopefully they’ll do the pick up and drop off well and then I’d be more than happy to recommend them to others.  The trucking company isn’t the source of our problems but have unknowingly become a contributor to them. You see, they can’t come any day in the week we need to move except the 27th of January. Our keys need to be handed into the real estate by 10am on this day. Problem.

At this point I tried to negotiate a different day/time for the trucking company to come, which came to no avail. This left me with the real estate agent and the departure date of the 27th. I spoke with the real estate agency, politely explained our situation and asked if we would be able drop the keys off one day later. I spoke to a receptionist rather than the property manager. My mistake. The receptionist said that we “probably wouldn’t be able to” but they’d ask the property manager. Late the next day, after my second call, the agency rang through to say that our request had been declined by the owner.  At this point Nathan rang through and explained that we’d be happy to pay the day’s worth of rent and that it was a situation we couldn’t do too much about. The real estate agency then gave us the go ahead for the new exit date of the 28th. Fantastic. I rang the trucking company and carpet cleaners to make final confirmations and pay deposits as required. Mistake number two: Trusting a real estate agency.

Now, we thought we had things sorted. Well organised. Under control. Until this evening. When we stumble upon a letter in the mailbox.  From our real estate agent. Saying, in quite polite terms, that our request had been denied. And that if we don’t hand the keys in on the original date then we’d be taken to the Small Claims Tribunal and would have it recorded as a black mark on our rental record. Seriously. In all honesty I don’t think you could get much better tenants than us. We pay our rent early. We look after the place. We don’t cause trouble or noise in the neighbourhood. But no, this delightful real estate agency thinks it’s okay to throw this upon us. They’re not even losing any money.

This is utterly ridiculous.

End of rant.

*I’m deliberately leaving out the name of the real estate agent in the event that they google themselves. We’ve had quite a bit of trouble with them and simply can’t take any more.

** My mother-in-law and littlest sister-in-law very graciously gave up quite a few days of their time to help us pack and clean. Their help has been invaluable.

Reporting for duty

I’ve put together a few tips for helping husbands/wives to survive the report writing process.

For the report writer.

1. Balance your time. We all know that report writing isn’t fun for you, but don’t forget that it’s no fun for your spouse either. Make sure you spend some quality time with them as well.

2. Encourage your spouse to use some of his/her free time to do the things he/she enjoys but you don’t. For Nathan it’s playing playstation.

3. Don’t slack off on your commitments. Again, this has to do with the balance thing. Fair enough, don’t take on any extra commitments, but don’t slack off on the ones you’ve already committed to.

4. 80% is good enough. I haven’t mastered this one yet but I’m trying. Apparently the theory is that near enough is good enough. We don’t have to be perfect all of the time.

5. Sleep and eat properly. This goes without saying.

For the spouse…

1.  Be patient and understand that the work needs to be done at home and outside of regular work hours.

2. By flowers and chocolate. Frequently.

3. Try to provide a healthy dose of perspective.

4. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some marking.

5. Find something to occupy yourself for 72 hours. Nathan recommends a PS3.

Report Card

The astute followers out there may have noticed that it has been a whole day since I’ve updated my report timer. There’s a good reason I haven’t updated it. It’s the same reason I was able to nap yesterday afternoon for two hours, go to the movies today and appear in public without the fear of getting grumpy at somebody for no particular reason. Those dreaded reports are finished! And I think we’ve come through relatively unscathed.

Here’s a little summary of how they went. I’ve done it in list form, as that seems to be the way things are done around here.

  1. 72.5 hours works out very neatly to be 2.5 hours per child. I didn’t plan that.
  2. Of the 72.5 hours spent on writing reports, approximately 62 of them were spent outside of work hours.*
  3. These extra hours were typically spent on four nights of the week. I tried to have a little bit of balance in order to retain my sanity. It almost worked.
  4. I did not receive “overtime” for those hours or take them as time off in lieu.
  5. Typical report writing activities included; designing report criteria, setting assessments, marking assessments, analysing assessments and class work, grading students, writing comments and data input.
  6. Report writing activities completed, but not included in the report timer, were; individual conferencing with students (approximately 8 hours), testing students, moderating, collaborating with other teachers and editing with my Head Of Department.
  7. Hours 1-2 were a little bit more fun than the rest because I was planning and organising things. I like planning and organising.
  8. Hours 2-30 were completed because of my diligent work ethic.
  9. Hours 30 – 50 were survived by listening to and enjoying classical music while I worked.
  10. Somewhere around hour 50 was my birthday. Happy birthday to me, and a number of my friends. I enjoyed my almost surprise party very much.
  11. Hours 50 – 60 were not fun.
  12. Around hour 60 I had a bit of an emotional break down. There’s something about sitting at home writing reports on a Friday afternoon that isn’t so fun.
  13. Hours 60 – 70 were completed because my husband was especially thoughtful and encouraging.
  14. Hours 70 – 72 were completed because I could see the light. And because I really wanted a weekend free of report writing.

There you have it. The reports haven’t actually been approved yet. That process can take a day or it can take three weeks. I really hope it’s the former. For those of you who are parents out there, I’m expecting to see a few framed report cards hanging on your living room wall. They cost a lot.

* By outside of work hours, I generally mean from 5pm onwards. My school day typically lasts from 7.30am – 4.30pm. As my teaching load remains exactly the same during report writing season, so do my hours.

Fully sick

According to wikipedia, it’s probable that two in three of you are just like me. I’m not sure that pleases many of you. I’m talking about those who are susceptible to kinetosis. Otherwise known as motion sickness.

This wiki article claims that 66% of people are susceptible to motion sickness in severe conditions. Only 33% are susceptible in mild conditions. I’m not entirely sure which category I fit into, but I’d say it’s likely to be the first. I get air sick, sea sick, simulation sick, car and bus sick and I don’t really know about space sick. I’ve never been there but chances are I’d feel ill.

Every Friday afternoon I take my two softball teams to play interschool sport. This involves a ten minute bus ride each way. Usually I try and sit by myself so I can look out of the bus but today one of my shy, newish boys asked if I could sit with him. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted his offer and he proceeded to talk the entire way, preventing me from watching out the front of the bus continuously. I began to feel exceptionally ill and, since asking him to stop talking would only be a little less offensive than throwing up on him, I let him continue. It’s very difficult to seem interested and engaged in a conversation with a small child whilst wanting to throw up. Once we got back to school the nausea did not subside. Again, it’s almost impossible to teach 29 hyperactive children while wanting to throw up. Furthermore I have the unfortunate tendency to not ask for help when needed so I soldiered* on.

I’m sick of getting motion sickness. Are there any remedies out there that actually work? I tried sea sickness tablets once but I was so drowsy that I slept through the entire cruise. When I awoke, I was too drowsy to talk without sounding drunk. The tablets would have made me unfit to drive had I been required to do so.

My only other remedy so far has been to go to sleep. There’s a catch with this one but I’m afraid telling you would be oversharing. And we know how Nathan feels about that. Unfortunately this remedy doesn’t really work if you’re suppose to be the one in charge.

*I actually told my kids I had some “very important” work to do on the computer and would let them play some quite games so long as they didn’t disturb me. Technically supervision rather than teaching but that’s all I could manage.

Robyn’s Report Timer

Just for fun I thought I’d see how many hours I’ve spent writing reports. You can read about it here.

25/10/09     17 hours and 45 minutes

27/10/09     23 hours and 45 minutes

28/10/09     30 hours and 30 minutes

30/10/09     38 hours

03/11/09     43 hours

04/11/09     48 hours (& loving it!)

05/11/09     54 hours

10/11/09     58 hours

11/11/09     63 hours

12/11/09     65 hours

13/11/09     70 hours

14/11/09     72 hours 30 minutes

They’re finished! Read my review here

That time of year

Thankfully “that time of the year” only rears its ugly head twice. Two times too many in my opinion. This time is my least favourite because it overlaps with my birthday. Report writing. I loathe it. And I’m sure that those who live in close proximity to me also feel disdain toward this time of year.

Just for fun I’m going to keep a record of the number of hours I spend directly on report writing. Time spent setting and marking assessment which relates to the report cards will be counted. As will editing and proofreading. Setting and marking class work will not count. Interestingly or not 90% of this time is done “in my own time”. I only receive 110 minutes of non contact time per week and most of this is spent preparing lessons.  In one week I’m already up to 17 hours* and counting.

* This included six hours of time spent during our pupil free day this Monday.

Cubic children

One of my students trapped himself into the newspaper cubic metre model that we built during our maths lesson. It was funny. The extraction of said child from the model while trying to preserve the integrity of the model proved quite challenging.

Teachable moments

Simone recently posted this list advising the next generation of some strategies to help them function better  in the classroom and perform more adequately as a human being. I thought I’d posted a reply on her blog but it turns out I hit the wrong button. Better late than never, here is my contribution to the list.

The next 5 things that will help you function better in the classroom and perform more adequately as a human being.

6. It really doesn’t matter who the leader of the line is. Especially in grade 6.

7. Your teacher has no time to look for your lost pencil. Neither will she/he believe that it has simply wandered away. Take a piece of string and tie it to your wrist if it keeps being a problem.

8. Ninety-nine percent of people have complete control over their arms and legs. Your teacher will not believe you when you say your hand jumped off your arm and slapped a girl in the face.

9. Yes, you must finish picking up your bag of rubbish before you attend your playground wedding. Even if you are the groom.

10. Never pin boys down and kiss them. Even if it is your betrothed who was unable to attend your playground wedding because he was picking up papers.

Your gonna luv this. Its gr8.

Grammar Nazis please read on!

There are many rewarding aspects of the teaching profession. Each day presents opportunities to make real and lasting impressions in the lives and minds of young people. Today, however, I felt as though I served tomorrow’s society particularly well. The self confessed Grammar Nazi’s who are avid or even occasional readers of this blog will be thankful for the series of lessons I’m teaching my children. Today we learnt that there is absolutely no excuse to confuse your & you’re and its & it’s. If I see these words spelt incorrectly in their work I’m going to be very, very grumpy.

Subsequent lessons shall include:

1. Gonna, shoulda, wanna & cause are not real words. I decided upon this topic after a lengthy, heated and honest discussion with one of my brightest students as he expressed his disbelief that “gonna” was not a word. He didn’t even know what “gonna” represented. Grrr.

2. Spelling words incorrectly is not cool. Luv, frooty and anything else which comes up in local advertising campaigns will be in the firing line.

3. Using numbers to substitute letters in everyday writing is stupid. I concede there may be a very small sliver of the market in which this language is appropriate. However, this is not the case for the majority of literate society.

If you have any other lesson ideas you think I should address as a priority, please feel free to mention them below.

One hot winter’s day…

is how one of my children began her recount today. One of the things I teach my kids is to always have a “catchy hook” and would not usually allow similar opening sentences. This one, however, I thought I’d let slide. It is oh so Townsville.

By the way – Maddie – Nathan is trying to get me to engage in a blog off with you but I thought we could be a bit more civil than that. Life is not all about competitions after all and I am so eager to hear about leggings not being pants. Keep up the good work.