Monday, December 29, 2014

Around Canberra - A tale of two lookouts!

Over Christmas, my Mum came to visit! One of the reasons I like having visitors is that (apart from suddenly having a clean house in preparation) you get to "play tourist" in your home town. Which is now Canberra! So let's go on a little tour, shall we? And maybe learn a bit about Australia's capital too :-)

Canberra is a planned city. Unlike Sydney or Melbourne which sprawled from humble beginnings, Canberra was always destined to be great! Once Federation occurred in 1901, Australia needed a capital city and so a location was decided upon and a competition announced in 1911 to design it and Walter Burley Griffin of Chicago, Illinois, USA was declared the winner. To be fair, the paintings of his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, helped a fair bit.


It is from the top of Mt Ainslie, that you can get a sense of their vision and how it played out on the Canberra landscape.

IMG_8092 (Medium)

Kind of amazing how all that planning transformed into real life!!!

For those unfamiliar with Canberra you are looking out over (from the foreground to the background) the Remembrance Nature Park, the Australian War Memorial, Anzac Parade (the big avenue), Lake Burley Griffin (named after you know who), Reconciliation Place, Old Parliament House (now Museum of Australian Democracy), New Parliament House and the southern part of Canberra. The hills in the background are the Brindabella Ranges.

IMG_8106 (Medium)

IMG_8104 (Medium)

Now apparently, we were always taught that  the word "Canberra" meant "meeting place" (derived from Kambera or Canberry, in Ngunnawal language of the indigenous owners of the land). That would make sense, to have our nation's capital in a place that meant "meeting place". But no! According to Ngunnawal elder, Don Bell, the correct interpretation is "woman's breasts" as a result of it being nestled between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain, "nganbra" or the hollow between a woman's breasts. Makes sense too.

And so to Black Mountain (the other breast!). It is now an iconic part of Canberra, which even locals use to orientate ourselves, because perched on top is the commercially named Telstra Tower. It is a telecommunications tower (owned by Telstra, duh) which rises 195.2 metres (640 feet) above the summit of Black Mountain. You can see it from everywhere in Canberra (except my house, because it's hidden by another hill, but nearly the whole of Canberra).

IMG_8108 (Medium) IMG_8109 (Medium) IMG_8113 (Medium)

Needless to say, the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular (if a little windy, up on the open observation deck!)

IMG_8116 (Medium)

Now cast your minds back to the mid-eighties (if, indeed, you were around back then!) and a young Ingi on a trip to Canberra with her family. We may have taken a similar photo!!!

Canberra from Black Mountain

There is a little more development (most notably Australian National University, Civic the city centre, New Acton and the completed Parliament House), but basically the same.

There you are! A bit of Canberra's geography and history for you! I have uncovered a treasure trove of those mid-eighties photos, so stay tuned for some "before and after" pics of Canberra (and if you're good, me!).

What's your capital city?

Do you have a favourite lookout (share a pic!)?


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ho, ho (belated) ho (hum)

Happy holidays to you all!

I managed to snag a whole 5 days off in a row, but Hubby's new job (and impending cruise) means that he only had two days off. And so we were tied to Canberra. Which after 10 years of being tied to the South Coast, I wasn't too sad about! But it also meant any ideas I had of visiting family (and just quietly, letting someone else do all the Christmas stuff) were abandoned. So we did Christmas here. And my mum came to visit :-)

I may have expressed before how exhausted Christmas can make me feel. Especially if you are the Mum. And especially because it's been a very busy year around here, and I don't know about you, but I could not justify a huge Christmas this year. Again, and maybe especially this year working in a shopping centre, the Christmas fervour seems to have gone mad. Decorations up in October (what???), 5 weeks of Santa's flash going off in my eyes at work, posts on social media about whether they've finished/started shopping (in November). I mean, really!!!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels a bit "meh" about the whole thing. As I get older (grumpier more hormonal?) I question the emphasis society puts on Christmas. It just seems like so much PRESSURE.

I copped a bit of flak on social media about my supposed lack of Christmas effort. In my defence, most all of my decorations are in boxes in the garage down the coast and I couldn't be assed buying a whole heap of new ones. There's a tree (of sorts), there's a nutcracker, I bought some pretty tealights from Dusk. What more do you want, people? Plus, now we are on the flipside of Christmas, I can't tell you how happy I am that there aren't a ton of decorations to be taken down.

IMG_8061 (Large)IMG_8067 (Large)

IMG_8066 (Large)

Everyone got presents. The kids got excited (yanno, in that way that only teenagers can). The dog enjoyed his annual destroying of the wrapping paper:

IMG_8077 (Large) IMG_8079 (Large) IMG_8081 (Large)


I also cooked lunch! Oh yes I did!!!

IMG_8058 (Large) IMG_8089 (Large)

IMG_8056 (Large)

So in the end, we did alright. I did BETTER than alright! I just avoided the stress that goes with it. Christmas was still special and noone got migraines in the process and that's what counts, right???

Did you manage a special Christmas?

Tired of seeing decorations in September too? (see how it just gets earlier and earlier?)

Did it snow where you are??? I'm sure that would make me less grumpy :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

End of an era...

And here we are. Four years after we started, finishing up homeschooling.

We are ending more with a whimper, than a bang, but that is also one of the reasons we are going to back to school. Yet, there are still signs around the house that we were, at least for a bit, homeschoolers:

[caption id="attachment_2111" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IMG_8039 We did craft once...felties![/caption]

IMG_8038 IMG_8040 IMG_8042 IMG_8043


I feel a little bit sad, because there was so much I wanted to do, but we never quite got there. There are quite a few unfinished and never started projects hanging around the house and ideas hanging around my head.

But you know what? As I said to the kids, I don't regret what we did - not for one second. Look at just some of the lovely memories we have to look back on:



OIMG_2999(1) IMG_2969(1) IMG_2531(1) 6181180_origIMG_6020(1) IMG_6397(1) IMG_6806(1)


Oh, that made me a bit teary, looking back at all the cool things we did, together. TOGETHER! And how much they've grown! They've journeyed from children to young adults. Oh sure, we've had our difficult moments and sure, there aren't as many lovely pics from this year, but I'm so glad we did it.

And you know, I met so many lovely people! In real life and online, through this blog and Facebook and the Home Education Association. A real community! I thank every one of you for the support and tidbits and joy in our journey together.

In a few short weeks, I'll be posting pics of kids starting school in their shiny new uniforms. At one stage, I was very convinced we'd never do that ever again. But never say never. It's just a new phase in our lives, but as I look back on the last four years, I'll always look back with fondbness at our homeschooling era.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Transitioning - homeschool to actual school

Wow. So this is really happening! My homeschooled kids are headed back to bricks and mortar school.

Last week, I sent Video Boy and Wombat Girl back into the "real world" - well, transition days into Year 10 (I think that would be the equivalent of Freshman year in US high schools - someone correct me if I'm wrong?). I had to go to work (a recurring them around here), so Hubby dropped them at the front office. They found the group and went into the gym for the compulsory Catholic school intro and prayer. Wombat Girl wanted to know if she had to learn anything for that, because there hasn't been a lot of prayers in the last four years, but I assured her that she would be fine just listening. In fact, the Principal made a point of saying that all faiths and even(!) atheists were welcome at the school, as long as they were respectful.

And then Wombat Girl got lost. Now, I must preface this paragraph with a reminder of her last transition/orientation day where she found herself separated from her class and, not knowing what to do, took herself off to hide in the toilets. When I went to hand over her bag which she had left with us at recess, her teacher had NO IDEA that she was missing. A frantic search finally found her in the toilets and I'm not ashamed to say I might have shed a tear of relief. Anyhoo, with this emotional baggage in tow, fast forward 5 years and this time she had not been allocated a roll call class, and when she had, a teacher accompanied her (and another non-allocated student) to where her class should have been. And then walked around the school with her until they found where they had moved to. All good. But school bureaucracy....don't get me started!

Practical upshot of the two days? Kids enjoyed themselves (even P.E.), met friends (homeschoolers socialising? Who'da thunk it???) and enjoyed trying out a few Elective subjects.

Warning - proud homeschooling mumma moments!

In Video Boy's maths class, teacher shows pictures of fractals and asks if anyone knows what they are. VB waits a while, noone else answers, so he pipes up "a fractal". Yay for the homeschooler!

In Wombat Girl's class, they were asked if something cost $4 plus half its cost, how much is it? Lots of people yelling out 6, but WG pipes up 8 (which is the right answer). Yay for the homeschooler!

And yay for my clever kids!

And so they decided that they were very happy with the Catholic school option and that going to the other option was only going to confuse the issue. Decision made.

Tonight I have sent off enrollment acceptance forms and elective choices. WHO AM I???

But the kids are excited and happy and that is a good thing. And I will continue to add more good, bad and ugly stories of the transition from homeschooling back to to school - hopefully lots more of the good than anything else! In a perfect world, they will go back and SMASH IT and make lots of friends and wow the teachers who will say "well, who'da thunk homeschoolers could make the transition so well?" But, I'll let you know all the tricky bits too, because this is the real world, after all.

homeschool socialization

I might also post about cruises, my coffee addiction and other random goings on in our lives - that would be OK too, wouldn't it?

Have your kids moved back to school after homeschool?

Did they smash it?

What's your best story of losing a child?

52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Fred...