Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning to play this...

...for next Sunday's piano accompaniment while the bread and wine are being distributed.

Monday Muppets

This one is for Aidan. He started learning the trumpet at school last week. Something for him to aim for...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This month's Bible readings that Chris and I are following...

...are from Ezra.

I have no memory of ever reading this book. The Uniting Church I grew up in wasn't big on expository preaching so it was never covered. I don't think I've heard it preached on since I have been going to churches that go through books of the Bible in greater detail.

So it is really interesting to look at it for the first time. Last night we did a sidetrack to 1 Peter, but it is back into Ezra tonight.

Seachange Series 3

I have spent most of the weekend watching the second half of this series on DVD.

That wasn't how I intended to spend the weekend. I intended to extend the DVD at the library on Saturday and continue watching at my previous speed of about two episodes per week.

Someone else had requested it at the library so I had to watch the rest of it in a big hurry so I can return it tomorrow.

Glad I made the effort. The ending of this series (the ending of the whole show) was actually quite good and I had forgotten how it ended so it was like seeing it for the first time.

But now I feel like a great big slug because of the amount of time I have spent lying on the couch watching television. Exercise is badly needed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Back to the grindstone...

A quiet start.

I booked in a few kids to see. There was only one prior booking organised and they didn't turn up for their session. I couldn't get my email reconnected straightaway so I was limited in what I could do on the work computers. By two hours in on the first day back it felt like I'd never left. There were lots of unfamiliar faces though, plenty of staff turnover can happen in eighteen months.

Looking for stuff to do, I cleaned out my in-tray that was full to overflowing the day I finished work eighteen months ago. At 33 weeks pregnant, and two weeks before I was due to go on maternity leave, I went home from work one Friday afternoon and my labour began that evening so work ended very abruptly. Due to this unexpected exit, there were lots of unfinished bits and pieces in the tray. It felt a bit strange looking at all the things I'd thought were so important at the time and thinking that last time I'd looked at this stuff I was pregnant. It was almost like the last eighteen months hadn't happened.

So I threw nearly all of it out and now I have almost-empty trays to fill up again. It won't take long.

The next big test is whether the payroll system can pay me correctly. People are still having lots of issues being paid properly with the new payroll system (can you still call it new twelve months in??) so I am not expecting much joy with that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The media is not there to help. The media does not feel your pain.

Read this.

This is the best bit of journalism I have seen or read on the Christchurch earthquake.

I wish I could write blog posts like that.

Heigh ho, heigh ho....'s back to work I go.

Today is my last day of maternity leave. Barring any unforeseen accidents, it's probably my last day of maternity leave ever.

I feel sad.

I'm sure I will be okay when I get to work, but right now I just don't want to go.

This is bad. I should be feeling more excited about it. But I have options. A friend is encouraging me to consider private practice. If I'm really not happy I might consider it.

Not going back at all really isn't an option. The longer I leave it, the more I would lose my confidence in being able to do the job. A new national registration scheme means we have to have "recency of practice" so if I took many years out of the workforce I would need to work under supervision. And the money helps with some of the extras we think are important, like church offerings, donating to missionary friends and music lessons for the kids.

But today I think I am going to let myself feel sad and grieve for the passing of another life stage.

Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Last blog post for today....

At the moment, this is doing the rounds of some blogs that I read. I found it here (a very good blog, by the way. The Monday quiz is great fun).

And yes, in my case, it is painfully accurate....

But for me, blogging isn't so much about people looking at what I write or being thought of as an interesting person. It's about thinking about other people's viewpoints, it's about having a bit of fun, it's about practising putting forward an argument, it's getting into the habit of writing regularly (an important skill to have should I ever revisit the goal of doing my PhD).

So even if nobody else is reading, I am still having a good time here.

Just reading....

....some of the online coverage about Ivan Henjak's sacking as coach of the Brisbane Broncos NRL football team.

I found this quote interesting:

"Henjak may have been tactically excellent but the players felt he lacked empathy. Coaching the Generation Y culture requires great sensitivity because many of them are acutely sensitive and take criticism badly."

Hmm. What is going on when the fact that people are bad at taking criticism is used to sack a coach? I thought that was his job, to provide criticism to help them improve.

It just made the players sound like a bunch of whingers. Suck it up, people. Sometimes criticism is what's required. (although maybe I should admit here that my tendency errs towards being very sensitive and upset when I am criticized).

The Gen Y angle was interesting. I don't know that this behaviour is limited to Gen Y since as I have pointed out, I am a little like this myself. My experience with Gen Y types in workplaces is that if anything, some of them can be less sensitive when it comes to things like turning up on time, pitching in to help out when others are busy and volunteering for projects. They like having lots of leave and finishing early though. Sometimes it seems to me as if they view work as just somewhere they can turn up when they're not on their overseas jaunt/hike up some snow capped mountain range/surfing trip.

Perhaps though, like the comment in the article, this is a gross overgeneralisation about the behaviour of this particular generation.

Learned something today

Apparently our insurance company covers us for riverine flooding (see here). They cover it in New South Wales but not Queensland. This is not good news for the many people affected by flooding in Brisbane who have insurance with this company.

It is being called a "sunny-day flood" so therefore it is not being covered. Obviously this is in the fine print somewhere on the policy, but who ever reads that part?

Not me. I didn't realise we were actually covered for this just because we are fortunate enough to live five minutes south of the border. But then we also live at the top of a big hill and a good distance away from our closest river so it's probably not crucial information for me to know either.

My parents had no cover for flood damage. They were told by their long time insurance company that they were unable to get flood cover because their house is in a known flood-risk area. But their next door neighbours had it, and my understanding is that they paid a fair bit extra on their premium to have it. On that basis, I can see why their neighbours might be annoyed to see insurance companies paying out for people with more "standard" policies.

The floods have now largely disappeared from news coverage apart from the ongoing economic impact they have had. We shouldn't forget there are many individuals who will struggle enormously to recover from this devastating event and need both practical and financial help to do so. Still so much to pray for!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Muppets

I love choosing a new Muppets every week. A bottomless pit of gold.

Hooray for the cool change!

It has finally arrived. With a bang. A lovely thunderstorm has just passed over and I think the temperature has dropped by about ten degrees.

Here's to a cool evening....

But I will say there is nothing better than sucking ice cubes (best with pieces of fruit frozen inside, we had strawberry flavoured ones today) in the middle of a heatwave.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hot, hot, hot....

Too hot to think.

A cool change is not due here until Monday afternoon. The forecast temperature for Brisbane tomorrow is 35 degrees. Might be slightly cooler here but not by much.

And our pool is still on chemical overload to fix up the algae problem so we can't swim in it until tomorrow. I want to get in there right now. Night swimming is fantastic after a day like today.

This month's new song at church

We are learning this song at church this month. I like it. Keith and Kristyn's songs are pretty catchy.

The pipes are a nice touch. Sadly we don't have those at our church. We do have a flugelhorn player though. Probably not during this song but he is accompanying in some of the hymns that we sing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Harvey's battle is continuing

Follow it here.

He has started chemotherapy today. Praying that it works well for him and that the side effects aren't too traumatic for all involved. He has learned to say lots of new words this week so it's so encouraging to hear that despite everything else, his development is still going so well.

The King's Speech

Chris had a day off today (my last official day of maternity leave...I start back next Thursday) so because we were child-free during school hours we went to see The King's Speech. I've been wanting to see it for a while.

Because we went to a morning movie session, there were lots of older people in the cinema with us. It's been a while since we were the youngest people in a movie so it was interesting listening to the conversations around us. I heard one old guy behind us asking at the point where Colin Firth was getting ready to give the big speech and Helena Bonham Carter was giving him a last kiss and a few words of encouragement, "That's his wife, is it?" Given that that was at least three quarters of the way through the film, I'm not sure who he thought she was before that. Amusing though.

It was kind of interesting watching the therapeutic relationship between George VI and Lionel Logue develop through the film. Unsure how true to real life this was, but it seemed to evolve beyond a professional-client partnership into a friendship. That hasn't ever happened for me as a professional (in fact, I've probably always viewed that as being a bit questionable ethically) but I guess their relationship could never have really been a conventional one given the status of the client involved.

I think Chris would have preferred to be out having a surf at the beach because it's been a very warm day here, but since I am an early-bird beach-goer who doesn't like being out there once the heat of the day kicks in, I was more than happy to sit in the cool air-conditioning and eat a choc-top ice cream. Yum.

Ahead of the pack

Since I posted on the double-up on "Losing the last 5 kilos" a few days ago, there has been an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph about it and I also saw a short spot on Today Tonight about it last night.

I wouldn't call either of these cutting edge or high quality current affairs journalism, but I would like to say here that I beat both of them to it. Please no one point out that it wasn't that difficult, let me enjoy that winning feeling for a brief moment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fallen off the wagon already

After I posted last night's entry on losing those last 5 kilos I went upstairs and ate a Tim Tam. Only one though. And I didn't eat any gelato.

I hope that's not oversharing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Current project

I am following Susie's version. I got it from the library today. Among her nuggets of good advice is "no eating after 8pm" so I am sitting here trying hard not to think about the Tim-Tams in the fridge and the gelato in the freezer.

What I don't get though is why two people would put out books with almost exactly the same title at the same time?? Susie's was published December 2010, Michelle's January 2011. I guess they are both with different publishers, but this is guaranteed to cause confusion. I have only discovered while writing this post that there are two books with different authors.

Hopefully Susie's suggestions will work but if not, I guess it's good to know I can turn to someone else for managing the same issue....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Muppets

I've been resisting the kids' request to put up a Veterinarian's Hospital for a while now. I don't find them as funny as they do (except for the fact that Liam calls it "Vegetarian's Hospital.")

But this one isn't too bad...

Friday, February 11, 2011

God Is Enough...

To calm my anxieties about going back to work, we have been reading Psalms in our nightly Bible readings. We have been following Psalms 21-40 in our readings from The Briefing. And I am also reading God Is Enough which covers some other Psalms as well. This is the book I am hoping to encourage some women from church to read and discuss with me, so that I will actually finish reading it rather than leaving the bookmark at the start of Chapter 3 for the next six months while I read other stuff that isn't really more important, but seems so at the time.

It is very good so far (I am at the start of Chapter 3!). I love reading Psalms. Comforting words when times are hard.

One day...

...I would like to write a tell all story to spill the dirt on what it is like to work for a government department.

There are good things. Generous leave entitlements. Opportunities to work at reduced hours prior to young children starting school. Permanent part time positions. Paid holidays. Access to professional journals and libraries that wouldn't be possible working for an NGO or privately. Working with a large number of people and finding like-minded ones among the crowd.

But right now the bad things are really weighing on my mind. Never-ending negotiations with the pay office as I try to pay back the money I owe them thanks to their errors. Seeing mediocre performance and just happening to be in the right place at the right time rewarded with promotion. Bullying from those who feel threatened by new or different ideas. Short term thinking that having one person working full time is a better option than maybe creating a job share arrangement to benefit from the skills of more than one. Having to work with people in a crowded office. Shared computers. Massive amounts of time wasted on unnecessary paperwork and supervision that is not helpful in progressing my thinking and growing as a professional. Not being able to develop the skills I have because of the caseload I am allocated. A long commute to and from the office, which makes for two long days of work.

This morning my beautiful little girl cried when I left her at child care. I know by now she is happy again (they do tell me it doesn't last long) and I know she is ready to learn that there are other safe adults in her life that she can trust and seek comfort from if she is feeling sad.

But maybe that is why all the not-so-good parts of going back to work are just sitting there at the forefront of my mind right now.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here's a new way (not) to confess your sin

If you're a Catholic that is. Sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the US as well.

Read about it here.

Rainbow sighting

I saw a rainbow today as I was driving home from doing the school and child care drop off.

As I usually do, I told everyone in the car, "Look, there's a rainbow." Then realised there was in fact no one in the car and I was talking to myself.

Old habits die hard. It's been so long since I've been by myself that it now just feels weird.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No fun here

Liam (aged 6) has been driving Chris and I insane lately. Back chat, rudeness, cheekiness, shouting, name calling, and the list goes on. It's not that we don't do stuff with him, he gets plenty of love and attention, but he seems to be going through a trying time. I think he needs more sleep but it's hard getting him to sleep when his big brother stays awake reading in the bed below him.

Yesterday I discovered a blog called Be A Fun Mum. I found it via another blog that I have been reading which extols the joys of homemaking and planning fantastic play activities each day to do with toddlers and preschoolers (the woman who writes it manages all this with a newborn, by the way). These blogs come complete with photos of happy looking kids playing with playdough, paper clips or whatever is the craft of the week. Photos of children's bedrooms with craft activities hung up on the walls and no mess anywhere. Our boys' room is lucky to stay tidy for five minutes after we've cleaned it out.

I'm sure these ladies are lovely people but just once I would like to hear that they have been called "rubbish-head" or "fatty" (the current names of choice, I suppose I should be grateful they're not swear words) by an ungrateful child. I don't feel much like being a fun mum when he's behaving like that.

Still, I suppose that's not the point of their blogs. And I don't want to turn mine into a whingeing blog. This is just what our life looks like right now. I know it will pass, but for now it's not much fun.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Op shop finds

I spent this morning sorting out pool water dramas. Recently the water has turned green in the excessive humidity which usually means an algae problem. The pool is not normally my problem since Chris normally deals with it, but he has been busy at work and unable to take water samples to the pool shop so that part of the pool care has been allocated to me for the moment. This is the second time in a week I have been there. I didn't think the water looked too green this time last week so I wasn't given strong enough chemicals then. Now we need the heavy duty algae killer.

And so I have become aware of how much pool chemicals actually cost. Not cheap at all.

So to give myself the feeling that I was cutting down on spending in other areas of our life, I went shopping at a local op shop that I had heard good things about.

I feel much better now. A fantastic skirt and a nice top, both of which will be fine to wear at work and elsewhere. My work uniform is optional and I wear it most of the time but some days I just like to have something different. And only $15 combined cost. Excellent.

I feel like I need a holiday already

Because it doesn't feel as though I've had one.

And it's only week two of school. And I am actually still on "leave" but going back to work in two more weeks. And the kids aren't even getting homework yet.

Since Christmas, it has just been busy busy busy here. My jigsaw puzzle lies under the bed, unfinished. I have stacks of books on my "to read" pile. I want to read them all....right now. I am trying to work out how much volunteering I can manage at school once I am working two days each week. I am starting up a Christian book discussion for the ladies at our church and feeling nervous about how it will go. I want to go back to work and do things differently, not just go back to the stupid and ineffective old habits I had before, so I need to plan strategies to avoid getting sucked into the pit of familiarity.

There's too much to think about so it's much easier to avoid it all and just think about where to go next time we go on holidays.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Muppets

When the Muppets met The Sound of Music....

Friday, February 4, 2011

CNN stuff-up

I found this on the ABC's Cyclone Yasi blog. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My friend's little boy has a brain tumour :(

She has started to blog about it here. We met with a bunch of other Mums online when her first child (who is the same age as Liam) was born.

Her writing is raw and honest and straight from the heart. Little Harvey is close to Rosie's age.

She is on the opposite side of the country to me. I wish I could do more than just pray for them.

Sensationalist journalism in the cyclone TV coverage

Who would have thought?

I was watching Sunrise this morning as they covered the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi. Not for long. Their reporters became irritating quite quickly. I saw far too much of them telling people it wasn't safe to be outside as they were driving around amongst fallen trees with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand filming with the iPhone. Then barging into homes unannounced and apologising for it after they were already inside. I'm guessing some of this behaviour will be making Media Watch.

So I switched channels back to the ABC for less hysteria.

But unfortunately, I then missed this little gem as someone from the Sunrise crew was checking out a flattened banana farm: "and here are the infant bananas that will never get a chance to grow...."

Hilarious. Although the damage done around Mission Beach and Tully is no laughing matter.

Dream job #1

ABC Shop counter assistant. During quiet moments, I'd be sneaking a peek in the book section and popping on a nice classical CD. Or perhaps the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time.

Today I bought Holly Throsby's new CD for kids with my Christmas vouchers. It's called See! Very funky. Nice kids' songs that adults might also enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is very scary

In Queensland right now, it has almost reached the point of "another day, another disaster..." I don't mean to be blase or anything like that, but it is almost numbing to watch yet another tragedy unfolding for so many people.

Praying hard right now for friends from our church who moved to Cairns a couple of years ago. They are staying put at home and praying for their safety. It is very hard to watch the storm on the weather map moving inevitably closer and closer to them. Even if they have lived through a cyclone before (and I am not sure they have had anything too significant since they have lived there) this one is like nothing anyone, even the locals, have encountered before.

We lived in Cairns for six months in 1997, fortunately during the dry season. The attitude towards cyclones we observed from the locals while we were there was fairly cruisy. Most of them talked about "a bit of wind" and "a fair bit of rain" when the topic came up. This time, I think even the locals are very afraid of what's to come tonight.

Keep on praying for them all....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our sensory world

On Thursday and Friday last week I went to a professional development course presented by the author of this book, Dr Winnie Dunn. She is an American occupational therapist who has developed a model of how people process sensory information (and a measurement tool to assess how individuals do this) and has now published a book to present this information in a way that is more accessible to the general public.

I'm all for making academic information accessible to the general public. In the world of occupational therapy (and maybe in other professions too, but I'll stick to what I know about) I think there are way too many therapists who like to see what they do as some sort of magical mystery technique or trick that miraculously fixes people. In reality, I think there is no quick fix for many of the people we work with and a lot of what we do is just plain common sense that we should be assisting people to discover for themselves.

So I found it really interesting to listen to someone with a long academic and research background saying much the same thing. In a nutshell, she describes four major sensory types: Seekers, Bystanders, Avoiders and Sensors. Seekers love to get lots of sensory information from their environment. These are the people who like to skydive, go on wild rides, eat spicy foods, touch everything and everyone, or thrive in busy and visually chaotic places. Bystanders are the cruisy types who often don't register as much about what's going on around them. They might always miss the turn off when driving somewhere, not notice the mess around the house or work on oblivious to the fire alarms going crazy around them. Avoiders are the schedule-aholics who crave routine, are easily overwhelmed when things get crazy and often find it easier to withdraw from crowded or noisy environments. Sensors are the sort that are always commenting about things being too loud, too spicy, the tags on clothes being too tickly and things like sand and dirt making their skin crawl. Some of us are strongly one or the other of these types, others of us are mixtures of several. For example, we might hate the feel of the tags on clothing, but love eating lots of different things.

I am a mixture of a sensor and an avoider. Predominantly I like things to stay the same, and I tend to notice if things change even a little bit in my environment. And I always want the volume of the noise turned down.

We also heard about some really interesting research happening at the moment working on whether there is a link between these sensory processing styles and temperament (from the psychology literature) and also how different processing styles of parents and their infants/toddlers affects the parent-child relationship.

From this course, I am hoping to link up with a couple of other local therapists for a bit of peer mentoring around the material we covered. Since no one else from my workplace was there, I am hoping this keeps me motivated to actually follow through with what we learned.