Monday 24th September 2018

September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

This is the third story telling some aspects of what it was like for me as a K-6 School Principal in a medium-sized New South Wales public school from 1999 until the beginning of 2003.

The first story is here and the second here for those who want to understand “how I got to the day I never went back as principal in September 2002.”

What was different in the beginning of the 2002 school year?

It was my fourth year as principal. Naturally much changes within the education system and in schools themselves. Families may move on due to work changes, sometimes those families are not replaced by new ones so a school population can begin heading downwards.

School staff (teacher and executive staff) may need to take leave for reasons of: family needs, maternity and long service leave as well as sick leave.

The other change heralding 2002 was the need to upgrades of maintenance (big cost jobs) to the school as it was one that was first occupied in the 1940s. Back in 2002 it was up to the principal to make the contacts with contracted companies to get in suppliers who could quote for major works. Then the principal, with enough funds in the school account, could give a project a green light. I was trained to teach but there I was, like all principals still, being a site manager and a financial manager as well as HR manager. Sigh.

Systemic Changes.

More and more, I noted as did my principal colleagues that schools were being expected (rightly too) to ensure that Codes of Conduct for staff were not only understood and agreed upon by them but if behavioural issues arose, then the principal would be the first person to begin making an action plan when the code was violated.

There always had been the mandatory notification to the Department back then called Family and Community Services where if a child was deemed by a mandatory reporter (all school staff are) to be ‘at risk’ then a first notification was to be made by telephone. This saw me, often waiting for a person to answer, locked into a phone call because of issues which may look trivial on the outside but may be clues to more. One such event could be repeatedly coming to school with no food. Other times it could be the child letting her/his teacher know that a parent may be unwell or even violent and it was never our role to investigate but we did need to reassure the child, then make the reports. Over the years I have sat in with a child in my role as a support person (if the child requested that from me) and it is heart-aching to be witness.

Our system, the N.S.W. Department of Education, was updating its role in terms of staff compliance and behaviour. This was nothing new and in fact teachers have had annual reviews in a conversation form for decades. Since I left teaching, this has become a joint venture between the schools and the overseeing body of school governance. Returning to my principal days. IF there was a reported incident told to me by a student, parent or staff member where a staff member’s behaviour (spoken, actions or in written form) was not within the Code of Conduct (signed off annually as part of mandatory training) then the principal had to act upon it. I dealt with the Officers from the Conduct Unit first who listened to what had been reported to me and then I was given advice that it could be managed at school level (guess by whom?) or it could be escalated, with the staff member’s knowledge to a higher authority. I had to do this on one occasion and the fallout for me came later. The temporary staff member who brought along a permanent staff member as a support person as the complaint was told to her from my account given to me was aghast at the inference. In fact, there was nothing I had done wrong at all….but remember way back “your role will be to bring this school into the next century” comment by MY boss…this matter was a prime example of how staff thought they could still behave but it was not compliant with the Code of Conduct.

And, Everyone Who Was An Executive Member of the School Went on Leave.

Not at all related to the above in two instances: one was to have a baby and the other because of longevity of service took her rightful allocation of leave…both for the remainder of 2002. But wait, there was one more. Yes, this person ‘broke me’ in so many subtle then obvious ways. And whilst I cannot say much, the continued leave based on medical certificates over and over did cause alarm for the parents of that class as it did me because the year had started well but then, as it was expected of me that this Assistant Principal would perform other executive duties (as do all teaching executive) this person refused and did not return after many months. Oh, yes, one day there was a return, after hours to access my office and computer telling the only person on site, the cleaner, that “I” had given him permission. Following that, he was disciplined and placed in a different school.

How Did That Affect Me?

In some ways it was a relief but in many more, as we geared up for the mid year reports, parent-teacher interviews and then Education  Week along with concerts and fund raisers, it was the beginning of my end. Sadly I did not see it for sometime. I kept on working even harder. Yes. I was doing the roles of the appointed executive who were on leave. I know that I did have three teachers put their hands up to do the relieving roles but without the experience and knowledge beyond their classroom teaching, I was giving more and more of myself to duties that were not mine. I was even writing reports for a class teacher with little experience. I will say now that I know I was over-doing things but I could see no way out. I was under pressure to perform well for the school’s sake and also to answer to my ‘bosses.’ My lovely boss actually retired at the end of Term One (sadly) and he was replaced by someone I knew well but was nothing like the people-person my old boss was.

Schools have a culture of their own. I can now walk into a school and get a feeling of how things are. In my school, as Winter took hold I know that my mood was also one of worry and concern. That was for the school and its staffing into the next year. When school populations decrease in the NSW public system, the principal will be asked to nominate a teacher to leave. In the majority of cases, teachers are very comfortable in their current school and rarely does anyone volunteer. So then it becomes a matter of ‘asking’ and ‘hoping’. The staff were getting the idea that with the school’s drop in population, which occurred when the Special Needs unit was disbanded and there was a reduction of families moving to the area, that “I” had something to do with the reduction. I was told this by telephone on the night (4th September 2002) I heard staff were arranging a delegation to my office the next day. They were going to tell me it was my manner with parents that was the cause. This may have had one essence of truth after I was threatened by a violent father who I had to get removed from the grounds, but generally I had a suppotive P&C and was a principal who was active and even did playground duty. But people like someone to blame. Of course, and that was me.

The Night I Was Told.

Before I go on, I was feeling emotions of overwhelm from the role. I remember with clarity coming back from yet another principals’ meeting where they was MORE that we needed to take responsibility for. I wondered how I could possibly manage more. In the meantime, I became probably hyper vigilant after another meeting about my responsibilities for Work Health and Safety. The school was OLD in many parts and I knew that there was much that did not comply, so I contacted my properties’ manager (the centralised one, not a personal one!) and for a fee, he came out and condemned or ok-ed parts I was concerned about. One such area was deemed so risky I had to tape it off before demolition and in doing so, incurred the wrath of the teachers who had been there forever. I could not take a trick. I stood for what was right because that is who I am. I knew I needed to have a timeout but it happened to be an official one to attend a meeting for a day and then a personal one to accompany my husband to a vital medical appointment.

Schools: I love them. But I Could Not Return To Mine.

Two days away from school…..then I was rung the night before I was to return. Wednesday 4th September. By one of my relieving Executive who I always thought was both compassionate and brave to tell me that some staff were getting a delegation ready along with a Teachers Federation Organiser to meet with me to discuss their issues. Initially I listened with interest and then with surprise/shock at what was apparently my fault: declining numbers, meaning one of them would be asked to transfer. Once I had talked (and been upset a bit) with her, I had successive phone calls from the remaining two relieving executive and it was then I said “I will be speaking to…(my boss) in the morning and will not be returning to school until I have”. They implored me not to but I had the sense not to act upon a threat like this.

I broke. I broke down. I was ill. I couldn’t contact my boss: left a message that I would be going to my GP in the morning.

That would be the start of pretty horrible days but also some days of relief and release. Yet, nothing ever has helped me get over the fact that I loved being a principal but one day I never went back.

There was so much shame in me for that and it has almost all faded now some 16 years later.

It’s been hard to learn THIS….

Next and last story will be about, sadly, how poorly my employer treated me, but how my own return to wellness was all because of my inner capacity aided by a loving husband, a supportive family and friends network along with..some years later, an inclusive blogging community.

Thank you for your kind words having read these stories. I have not told them in as much detail for many years but I am glad I could have the chance again.

It really helps to write our stories! That is why I blog!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

 

 

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Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018.79.

One year post major cancer surgeries.

I am back with my memoir: Telling My Story, which began here, then had a long break…re-commenced here to the next post here and then to last time I wrote a chapter. My plan is one chapter every 4 weeks from now. I am glad readers and bloggers are finding the story interesting. Thank you for your gracious and kind words.

Then what happened?

I met the love of my life (and he is still that indeed!) when I completed chapter 3 and now to tell more.

On turning 21. 

Late in 1970 was my 21st Birthday. My parents had met the young man who I knew I would marry but they did not know ALL of the story. Later! Mum and Dad kindly put on a family and friends 21st celebration for me back in Sydney. I flew down from Tamworth, farewelling my love at the airport and it was supposed to be that I came back by car. My parents were generous, no doubt about it, and I was given a start with a second-hand car for my birthday. That is what I drove back to Barraba in. On the Monday evening after, Mum and Dad hosted a dinner at a Tamworth Club for me and all of the school staff was invited. Kind of over the top for sure and my now husband wondered about the extravagance. We knew more about what was also happening. That we were going to be married in the coming school holidays. So we could be with each other forever.

Family Birthday & Mum is obviously who I inherited my smile from!

Teaching Nearer To Each Other.

We knew we wanted to be married and teach in schools close to where we would live. Easy peasy? Not but in one way yes. I was teaching in a town with a central school (K-12) and my husband-to-be was literally over the mountain teaching in his one-teacher school. Normally the NSW Department of Education requires a teacher to stay at least 3 years in a school before a transfer can occur. In my case, in 1970, my D.P. put the situation to the Area Director at the time, and he came up with the plan, if agreeable to the other teacher, to do a ‘swap’ of positions. The teacher in the small 2 teacher school was moved to my position and I to hers as it was a school close-ish to my soon-to-be husband’s school and to where we might live on a country property.

Wedding Bells.

So, we became engaged just before Christmas and my fiance spent his Christmas in the NSW countryside with his family as I did with mine in Sydney. We had mentioned our forthcoming engagement and desire to be wed in January to both families. His was concerned about religious difference and they had not yet met me, mine was concerned similarly even though they had met him. A few times by now. WE knew more but as long as a wedding was locked in and planned for late January we were fine. Until….

This

We knew I was pregnant by the school holidays when we had arrived at my parents’ place to stay until the wedding. However, given the times we lived in (1970), the already raised concerns about religion (he was catholic I came from protestant stock) and from a parent’s perspective I guess, our short time in knowing each other we were not letting THIS news out.

But it did come out and it is not something to detail here, suffice to say, but there were a few “convos”!

The thing all through the weeks of the above was we KNEW all would be well. We KNEW we love(d) each other. We were CERTAIN and I add now, that doubt has never crossed our minds in 47 plus years.

Married Life Begins! 

The day of our wedding was a typical Sydney January one: rainy in the morning, warm and then incredibly humid in the afternoon (our wedding was held then) and stifling hot when we departed the church. In those days the wedding photographer did black and white shots. Fortunately some family members took some coloured ones. We really enjoyed the party that was the wedding. After all that had gone on before it was a celebration of family and love. The next day, we returned to my parents’ place, had breakfast with the assembled wedding party that woke up, and left with our one car laden with presents, our clothing and to begin our honeymoon travelling slowly up the Pacific Highway to end at Ballina.

 

Family shots in collage of our Wedding Day.

My husband grew up near there and it was/is a favourite place. We had fun, went fishing, swimming and ate out. I remember being tired (never gave preganancy a thought really) and eventually return to school made us wend our way west. Meanwhile, NSW experienced some major flooding in January 1971 and yes, we did keep an eye on the TV and soon found that despite our wishes, the road into our new married home ( a track of sorts) would not be passable and we were kindly given space at one of the local families’ farmhouse. We began the next stage of our married life…in single beds…and with parents and kids from my husband’s school. Eventually we did get in and tried as best as we could to prepare for ONE of us to return to teaching.

Teaching and Schools Then.

The one of us was me. Yes, the two-teacher school where I had received the swap was, in Department of Education-speak on the eastern side of the imaginary line in N.S.W. This line, still exists, and schools west of it, have an extra week’s holidays at summer time because of the climate differences. Let me tell you, my husband’s school was a 20 minute drive away on dirt road from my school and HE got to stay home for another week.

I love teaching and the class consisted of around 20 kids who were in K to Year 2. I am organised and it did not take me long to timetable the work each day to enable me to spend parts of the lessons with the youngest children. In the meantime, my husband did eventually go back to his school of K-6 with around 20 children.

On my husband’s trip back to where we taught and lived he visited this school – two classrooms – this is the one where I taught K-2. No air con back then!

Teaching in the N.S.W. country regions of the North West was good. Schools were populated by children of land-holders, and of those who worked for them. Parents were helpful in terms of some fundraising and on Sports’ Days and for the Christmas concerts. Some of the roles my husband did in his one-teacher school included: cleaner – inside the classroom and outside…in the toilets. Where brown snakes might gather and be of danger to the children…and shoosh. Do not tell but he literally had to kill a snake as it was in the girls’ toilet. Mind you, I had a more flash set up at the bigger two-teacher school (flushing toilet) but alas when the green frogs were part of the sistern this non-country girl did not like!

This is the one-teacher school where my husband taught for 3 years. It’s me out the front. We visited some decades later and this was gone and a crop was growiing there.

Home Life for Us.

Life went on, he played cricket on Saturday afternoons, we had meals at our friends’ place (he was my boss, she was a friend) and I grew our daughter. In the May school holidays we drove to my parents’ house in Sydney and I recall Mum taking me to buy some maternity clothes to wear to school. No slacks or pants of any kind then – the sexist boss once told me I could not wear pants as he liked to look at women’s legs. Gah!

By the time the middle of the year came and my pregnancy was evident, the parents of both my school and that of my husband knew and were kind and understanding when they found I would be replaced for the latter part of the year. I have to say, I was pretty ignorant of my pregnant body and how birth would occur  and was given some great help by one parent who was a physiotherapist.

At 22, my husband’s age and 21, mine…. we were about to become parents. There is quite a story attached to this life-changing experience and that will be in Chapter 5.

In 2017 my husband did a ‘trip back to where we lived’ and this is the sign to the property where we lived. No evidence of a house anywhere and the road you see was dirt back then.

What comes next…

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

I hope you found this chapter of interest.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays
And with Sue and Leanne here for Mid-life Share the Love linky.

 

 

 

 

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My Typical Day. 2018.48.

My Typical Day. 2018.48.

Now that we are in our fourth year of living on the NSW Central Coast in full-retirement mode, I thought it might be a good idea to share what my typical day is like.

Be aware, of course, that “no two days are the same”, so this is a snapshot of last Friday!

Before I start, I shall remind my readers about what I did BEFORE (first) retirement in 2003.

I wrote a blog post called: My Morning as a School Principal here. Most readers tired out by the end as they read through. I know I did as I lived it! I was a school principal in a relieving capacity for some years and got my own position as Principal in this school in 1999:

The School Where I was Principal. 1999-2003.

From 2003 until we left Sydney in 2015 I worked part-time: some roles in K-6 schools, another in my business as an Education Specialist helping families prepare for school, and as a University Pre-Service Co-ordinator and Tutor to Masters’ Students. I really did like using my education experience and knowledge to help others. I reluctantly ceased all paid (and voluntary roles) in 2015 as caring for my emotional health became my priority

All gone…students…late Friday afternoon. Final Tutorial for the week.

We also cared for four of our grandchildren on some days of the week when I was not working. We did this from 2007 until the end of 2014. It was a joy, delight, privilege and exhausting. But I would not have swapped it for anything.

 

I am leading up to this: It has been very challenging for me to come to terms with the notion of planning my own days and enjoying them. It truly has. It might sound funny but when you have been used to a life-long career and caring for family and they are no longer responsibilities suddenly: I get to decide what to do with MY DAY.

Mostly.

My husband and I do some things together but generally we give each other the space to determine what’s on that day.

Friday 1 June 2018.

  • 8.00. a.m. Cool start to the day, stay in bed for a bit, then rise and stay in night attire aka nightie and delighted that today’s Sydney Morning Herald has been home delivered THIS time. We have been here for almost 2 months, and gave plenty of notice for change of address but delivery is inconsistent. I am so sick of complaining Fairfax subs now rings me to see  if “we got the paper.”
  • 8.30. a.m. One load of washing on (thanks to husband – we share washing duties) and another awaits. Rainy looking day so we determine some of the load will be air-dried on covered terrace, others in the drier.
  • 9.00. a.m. Eat my 2 weetbix and milk as I read the Herald. Ah bliss. The time is just the best. What I do NOT miss from working was a quick read of the front page and then off to school! As far as breakfast is concerned I have NEVER been a cereal eater (always toast and tea) until I had my mouth reconstructions and now, it is one of my faves. Who knew!!
  • 10.00 a.m. Somewhere in this morning time, before getting dressed, I will check emails and social media. As Friday is not a link up day I will not be ‘as busy’.
  • 10.30.a.m. Ablutions, decisions made on outfit of the day – determined by the weather AND activity. Today it is cold/rainy and I want to go to local shopping centre as it is under cover (for coffee, not for parking). Photo taken outside in between raindrops and away I go.

  • 10.45- noon. With no reason to rush or complete chores at the shops today, I browse and enjoy some people watching. After a 3/4 double shot latte (no food today, it is too hard to eat in public just now) I mosey into Millers and come out with some specials. LOVE saving some money on clothes. In fact, I have not paid full price for a long time. So many shops with so many every day specials.
  • noon – 1.p.m. I admit, lunch is a hard meal to determine and I end up with crumpets and honey. I cannot bite into them but I can get a piece in my mouth, soften and move it around and swallow.
  • 1.00 p.m. Check social media. Upload my three instagram photos for today and comment on others I follow:
  1. An Outfit of The Day pic – see above
  2. A noticing nature pic – made this ‘about my cancer’ – i.e. part of nature, right? I want people to know how common this cancer is.
  3. A creative photo. This one heralds the start of the 61 day creative challenge I have been part of since 2013.

  • From Jan 1 2018, to give me routine and a challenge each day I said I would post the above photos and I have stuck to this. For me, routine is important even in a more loosely organised day like mine now.
  • 2.00 p.m.- 4.00 pm
  • Check washing and as it is cold, bring it inside.
  • Do a little bit of art – adding colour to a very large A4 collage I have designed.
  • Have a cup of soup and eat the inside of a yellow kiwifruit with a teaspoon.
  • Read a Good Weekend from a few weeks back.
  • Some social media scrolling.
  • Think about my dinner. My husband sorts his own meals. It’s been that way for a long time. Once I am eating with teeth again, I hope this changes.
  • Take one of my many made-for-me frozen meals from the freezer and contemplate what else I might have tonight. Add two savoury  muffins that I can eat bit by bit from the insides. This is another reason I find it hard to eat in front of anyone – it’s pretty messy!
  • 4.00 pm.- 6.15 pm.
  • Check computer for blog comments and emails.
  • Do some more art
  • Get my camera gear sorted as I may take the camera tomorrow because of the rough sea conditions.
  • Read more of “Laughing At Cancer”… and an definitely nodding my head in agreement so far.
  • Watch the last 5 minutes of Millionaire Hot Seat (to see if the person wins) and then watch the first 15 minutes of the local News. NBN.
  • 6.15 p.m. – shower and bed by around 7.30 these days! We sleep in separate rooms and watch our own TVs as we have completely different tastes in shows. I am also ready for bed by this time, even if I do not sleep. Body gets tired more! I am often up and down though – make a cuppa, find something I can ‘dip’ into it and chat to husband (who, most inconvenienced by this, has to remove his headphones to do so. I try not to do this much!! Of course, I often multi-task – or switch TV off – and scroll through the Ipad or play a mindless game or two.
  • 11.00 p.m. lights out..for me, and maybe listen to something soothing as I drift off to sleep.

And that, dear readers, is my typical day (at home). A day including a trip to Sydney for various reasons is obviously a lot different as is one where I may have appointments or decide to go for a drive to the beach.

What did Friday 1 June 2018 look like for you?

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

 

 

 

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February Is. #LifeThisWeek 8/52. 2018.17.

February Is. #LifeThisWeek 8/52. 2018.17.

You might wonder why I chose this optional prompt.

I have a like/hate relationship with February every.single.year. so I thought a blog post might be a way to write about it and see who might have some agreement. But first three ways in which I enjoyed February this year:

February is:

  • going back to routines like school, university and work of many kinds. Sometimes that is a good thing but often times it become a time for longing for those quieter and easy days of January.

February is:

  • the bringer of the ranges of weather in Australia which can be flood (we were flooded IN in 1976 in outback NSW) fires (awful, tragic times in this wide brown land of ours) and humidity. In fact, it was 100% humid in Sydney last Wednesday. What the?

February is:

  • a short month but every 4th year a day is added. Sure there might be 28 days for 3 years and 29 once every four but why oh why does the month of February go so slowly?

February is:

  • the love-fest (not my definition) called Valentine’s Day where we secretly might hope to be remembered by a loved one or try to forget it has even happened because there is no likelihood of being remembered!

February is:

  • when the shops remind us, almost far too early, that the next ‘season’ after Christmas is Easter and boy it IS time to buy those hot cross buns and Easter Eggs.

February is:

  • a really tough 4 weeks in which we try to convince our bodies that we can sleep even though the humidity is crazy and the heat has hung around the house for far too long…and so, despite air-con and cooling fans, we wake (if we have slept!) cranky and tired.

February is:

  • a birth month for some people I know and love and for that I am grateful. It is my husband’s birthday almost at the end and that is one very good reason to love February.

February is:

  • the supposedly last month of Summer but we here in Australia know the seasons can trick us and go right on into Match. Mind you, the tree up the road here is already getting some yellow leaves but that could be related to the long dry season this summer.

How is February treating you?

Do you enjoy February?

Denyse.

Linking up to Alicia here for Open Slather.

Next week’s optional prompt is Taking Stock ( I do this as a prompt every 9th week!) and I thank Pip Lincolne from MeetMeAt Mikes for her use of the list. Here it is – directly from Pip. Sometimes others change it and sometime not. Up to you what to use:

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Wasting:
Sewing:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving: 
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Bookmarking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week is the optional prompt’: 9/52.  “Taking Stock” 26/2/18.


NEW OPTIONAL PROMPTS for #LifeThisWeek are here (& on the Home Page) taking us for the next group of 10. Now THAT means the year is moving along!

11/52.My Last Meal Was. 12/3/18

12/52.Out My Window I See 19/3/18

13/52. Story of My First Name 26/3/18

14/52. What Food(s) Do You Dislike? 2/4/18

15/52. Share Your Snaps 3. 9/4/18

16/52. What is Friendship? 16/4/18

17/52. School Holidays Memories. 23/4/18

18/52. TAKING STOCK 30/4/18

19/52. The A-L of Me! 7/5/18

20/52. Share Your Snaps 4. 14/5/18

 

 

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January Daily Sentence & Video. 2018.13.

January Daily Sentence & Video. 2018.13.

I know Joanne Tracey does “the daily sentence” so I thought I would give it a go. I quite liked the discipline of making it ONE sentence. I also thought it was yet another way of measuring how I am going in terms of my physical and emotional health. I do keep another daily journal but that is NOT for publication!

In the 31 days of January 2018 it was life “as is” for this recovering-from-cancer blogger AND one who has made it her mission to go out every day dressed in the #ootd which I wrote about here.

I’ve take a somewhat different approach to my usual photos-to-break-up-the-text blogging and have ended the month with the just under 60 seconds of a visual record of January 2018.

Enjoy!

1/1
Happy New Year means the start of blogging in 2018 where my review of 2017 started the linky where 16 bloggers joined for #lifethisweek.
2/1
Today B took photos of the inside of my mouth so I could send them to Prof Clark & his response was it all looks good for surgery to go ahead on 7 February.
3/1
Unable to do without my coffee a day, I drove to Lake Haven & had a small browse in clothes’ shops before drinking a double shot latte at a cafe.
4/1
A dull day so I drove to Tuggerah, found David Jones’ womens wear & bought 3 new bras & then discovered their restaurant & had a delicious morning tea which reminded me of those at Castle Hill.
5/1
My plan today was to drive to Erina Fair & check out clothing stores, browse a while & have a coffee & that was exactly what I did!
6/1
In an effort to be accountable to myself for what I have been eating I weighed myself this morning and to my disappointment have put on 2kg since last time which means that unless I make some changes to my food intake I won’t be fitting into my new clothes soon.
7/1
We knew it would be hot today & took all precautions to manage that but what we could not foresee was a 70 minute power outage when it was 43 deg outside.

8/1
I was not a happy camper for much of today as I got myself caught up in a negative cycle of thinking.
9/1
Nine hours sleep and a realisation last night that I was too future focussed helped me have a much better & positive day!
10/1
Dressed in a new floral top matched with red jeans to meet K, E & J at Tuggerah for special occasion purchase of E’s new school shoes which she loved so much she wore all day!
11/1
Cool morning to drive to see Dad for his 94th birthday and when upon arrival he said how lovely I looked in my new dress.
12/1
An unremarkable day initially changed when a phone call from COBLH confirmed surgery 7 Feb but confusion over what I am having along with my reticence to collate my records meant I had to deal with an emotional reaction via tears & tension I have not experienced for some time.
13/1
Met friend K at Lake Haven and spent a delightful hour catching up, eating & having a coffee and we will do it again in 2019 I hope!
14/1
I really am quite over my poor mouth’s ravages & why it is along with the appearance of me looking scary.

15/1
It’s our son’s 39th & his nephew, our grandson’s 17th birthdays today but due to personal reasons I have to respect there is no big deal made although grandson B was appreciative of our wishes & card.
16/1
A wonderful day as we were hosts to our son & his four wonderful children who just delighted us with their conversations and play and love.
17/1
Unusually unconfident today even though I did my utmost to avoid going down the rabbithole, pain & living with the results of 2x cancer surgeries & reconstruction became dominant today & into tonight.
18/1
In an effort to feel better by looking good I donned a lovely colourful set of new jewellery along with jade green pants & a black top & drove to Bateau Bay for coffee & a browse.
19/1
A mixed day of coffee & friand followed by Spotlight purchases of bead making items and later in the afternoon a much enjoyed walk on sand & rock platforms at Norah Head.
20/1
A 9 hour sleep thanks to activity yesterday so when I woke I felt refreshed and got on with my day with more energy.
21/1
Annoyingly my blog emails are not coming through which will entail a time-zapping & potentially frustrating phone call in the morning to iinet.

22/1
Started the day calmly & continued as I refused to get myself worked up about housework and need to contact Internet provider so my morning activity of drive to Budgewoi went well as did my enjoyment of coffee & cake!
23/1
Married for 47 years today & we celebrated with morning tea at LH & then B had an ECG & I saw a GP because I have sinus infection again but we both scored some lovely comments on my pics & congrats from many.
24/1
A visit to Tuggerah listening to “Eleanor Oliphant” on the way & found a top for $15 & some bargain inks & finished my shop with coffee & free donuts at DK.
25/1
Keen to get into car dressed in outfit of the day so I could listen to Eleanor which did not disappoint and it has surprised me just how engrossed I have been.
26/1
Very low key Australia Day for me as I remain saddened by the inability of Australians ALL to come together on one day & this is not it.
27/1
Today it’s 48 years since I started my teaching life and I have never waivered from that choice to become a teacher.
28/1
Sunday is quieter than most days and even though we are retired it has a more relaxed feel to it so I continue to enjoy enjoy reading the Sunday papers as I eat breakfast – a habit of well over 45 years!

29/1
A good day overall with a visit from J & E for morning tea, play & chat but my inner tension is growing as next week’s surgery edges closer.
30/1
Warm day where some anxiety about next week’s surgery became evident so I had a chat & a small weep & let the GP know what’s ahead & his confidence in me understanding how much I go through before surgery was helpful
31/1
Cool weather saw me sleep in & have a late breakfast before heading to Tuggerah for what I have determined is my last clothes shop for a month.

This little vid is from my app called 1SecondEveryDay on my phone. In 2018 there is an option for 2 pics a day!

Do you keep a record of your day in some way?

I have to admit it has been very helpful for me to have done so since 2015 as I can see where things have challenged me and how I may have overcome some of those challenges. It has been especially helpful since my cancer was diagnosed.

Denyse.

Joining Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and Leanne here for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

 

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Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

In my life, Christmas HAS been about sharing of food gifts with family and friends. It was always something I did to thank people who had been part of our lives in the previous 12 months.

These may have been teachers, medical professionals. office staff, family, friends and neighbours.

I always liked the idea of a home-made special gift for others to eat and even though it was preparing, cooking and wrapping at a BUSY time of my school year, it was worth it.

The most popular of these was what I called “Orange Biscuits” but some called them “Melting Moments”. I found the recipe is an old English Woman’s Own magazine and made an adjustment to the recipe (I do that!) and made it in bulk. I would wait till the biscuits were cooled and then put two together with orange-flavoured butter icing. Once they had ‘dried’ out so the icing was stable, I would wrap EACH one is a piece of festive cellophane and then add however many would fit into glass jars. I used to keep an eye out for these over the year.

Given it was very labour-intensive, I made my last batch in the kitchen at Glenwood in 2014 and those who got them also got the recipe! I really miss eating Orange Biscuits even though in this recipe they are called Walnut Cookies. I used to add a blanched almond sliver to each of the biscuits before cooking.

Here it is: nb: the secret to the crispiness of the biscuit (I do not say cookie) is using Fairy or Tulip Margarine. Not butter. Trust me.

Christmas 2017…and what will I give people this year? Actually not doing many gifts at all as we have moved on from that. I still think a home-made treat is good and people who have followed my cancer story know I can eat cake. Not biscuits.

I have been “Queen of the Cupcakes” in the past couple of years, always having some in the freezer for us and visitors. Our granddaughter is 21 the week before Christmas and I am taking a few dozen birthday cupcakes to her 21st Picnic.

That was when I had an idea for this year’s thank yous to a few people using a Christmas theme:

cupcakes with little Christmas trees as a decoration.

So, that is my Christmas giving made. Just need to remember to take them to the people they are made for!

What do you do at Christmas for thank you gifts?

Do you make anything that is YOUR signature gift as mine became?

Share with us below in the comments.

Denyse.

I have a blog link-up each Monday called “Life This Week”. I post prompts in advance for anyone who likes to take up the prompt. Bloggers can post old or new posts, on or off prompt. In 2018 I am introducing a SHARE YOUR SNAPS prompt every 5 weeks for PHOTOS to be the stars of the show! Come on over why don’t you, each Monday!

Here are the first 10 weeks of prompts:

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

Linking up on Tuesday here with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursday.

 

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Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I will.…I wondered what I thought about when I made this prompt! It was a while back so when I re-visited it to write I decided to add in what was current for this week coming AND, by popular request, post my recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie! Oh yes….the first 10 Prompts for #LifeThisWeek 2018.

  • Drive to Sydney’s suburb of Dee Why to see my almost 94 year old father. Dad remains very well and independent and has many friends where he lives, some of whom he tells me are only a few years older than me. Thanks Dad! I cannot believe it but in checking my calendar this year there will have only been 3 trips to see him in total. I got very stressed about driving on M1 relating to my IBS back in the early part of the year and so did not go anywhere near that road. Until I had to. In fact, the first time I had to I wrote about here and it was the start of me overcoming my fears and anxiety with exposure therapy. So, Dad got his first visit for the year from me  in late April 2017. We talk on the phone each week as well. Then my life imploded with the news I had cancer…you can read about that here if you weren’t following the blog back then. The second time I drove down solo to see him was in early September and then my recent planned visit was cancelled as I had a bad virus. So…..off I go today.

The day I finally went to Sydney for the first time in almost 5 months.

  • Congratulate our daughter on her graduation from Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga campus)  with her Masters of Education (Teacher/Librarianship). She has spent more time doing this part-time than she ever imagined when she began the 2 year part-time course and was the Teacher-Librarian in one school until the end of 2014 and then BEGAN a brand-new school’s Library from January 2015. Family and health issues of hers and her grown kids meant she had to take some breaks from Uni (study is on-line) but for her to keep the role she loves in her school the course was to be completed. Today she graduates! We are so very proud of her achievements under difficulty and that next year she is back to school full-time and in charge of the School Library once more! She and her 4 children are attending the Graduation ceremony at Wagga Wagga on Monday at 9.30 a.m. We will be there in spirit!

 

  • Complete the cupcakes for the 21st Birthday Picnic next weekend for our eldest granddaughter who is 21 just before Christmas. We are so happy to be able to see her for her birthday and we will drive down to the park where it is all happening. This young woman has faced quite a few personal health challenges when she was diagnosed with Crohns Disease but she makes the very most of her life and as you might recall I wrote about her here and she allowed me to add her YouTube. It was an amazing and memorable day when I met you, JR, in the San, on a Monday and there you were..a beautiful little girl who would one day call me “Grandma”.

 

  • Add the recipe here for lemon meringue pie which has been  synonymous with celebration in my family from when I was a child. Once I learned to make the pie I added the variation of sometimes making it in little tartlet cases. It really IS a simple recipe but you make it to your taste in lemony-ness. I recall requesting it on special occasions and when we had all of our kids/grandkids for a meal back in the ‘living in Sydney’ days, lemon meringue pie would make an appearance. Since my mouth is severely compromised for eating I search for food ideas I can literally eat and swallow and this lemon meringue pie passes! My dad totally loves it too and will have some memories of Mum’s cooking when I take him a container of mini Lemon Meringue pies in January to celebrate his 94th Birthday!

What better way to say “Congratulations” on completing your degree KT…than Lemon Meringue Pie!

  • The Recipe: You will need 2 eggs, separated. One can of condensed milk. 2 lemons. Small amount of castor sugar. A baked pie shell. Can be your own or purchased as I did.

First: Oven should be pre-heated at around 150 degrees. It is just to help the pie ingredients mix and to get a nice brown look on the meringue.

Method:

1. Separate the eggs so that you have two yolks and two lots of egg white. I do this one egg at a time into a glass to ensure there is NO yellow in the egg white or it will not whip into meringue. I put both egg whites into a small bowl. Nearby I have my castor sugar ready.

2. Cut and squeeze the juice from two lemons. If you like a really tangy lemon, you may add a bit more juice (from a 3rd lemon) as you taste test the mix. You have to really. Leave juice in juicer. For now!

3. In a separate bowl you place the two egg yolks and the contents of the condensed milk tin. Yummo. You may lick a little bit but not the lid. Ouch. Mix with a spoon to ensure all the egg yolk is combined and add the lemon and keep mixing until it is all together. Taste test to see if ‘lemony’ enough. Leave this for now.

4. Get your electric mixer and beat the heck out of those egg whites and as they begin to combine and go lovely and smooth white, add up to 2 tabs of castor sugar gradually. To know meringue is done, when you lift the beaters, the mix should form peaks.

5. Place the lemon mix in the prepared shell. It all fits in one this size above.

6. With a tablespoon, add some of the meringue to the top of the pie so that edges are covered. It does not have to be neat!

7. Place the pie in the oven  and DO NOT go far. It does not take long for the top to get a nice bit of brown on top and then it can be removed.

8. Eat it in slices when it is warm (mmm) or leave it to cool where it might be easier to slice (mmmm) and ENJOY!!

 

  • Add the first 10 prompts here for #LifeThisWeek 2018. THANK YOU for joining in #LifeThisWeek in 2016 and 2017 and do come along, when the mood takes you, to join in 2018. Every 5 weeks will be a photo-based post of any type you like. With the loss of many link ups relating to photos, I suggested this on the blog as a place to SHARE YOUR SNAPS and I hope you will! Without further ado: here are the first 10 Weeks of #LifeThisWeek prompts for 2018. 

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

I will add this list to the Home Page soon.

Next week the last prompt for 2017 is Christmas Plans. Then there will be no #LTW on Christmas Day. First day back on the blog for me will be on Monday 1 January 2018. The prompt is always optional. Link up an old post if you are in holiday mode or not. It would be great to see some links but being New Year’s Day I would understand why there might not be many!!

Thank you for joining in this year. We never got to 52 weeks of the prompts thanks for my cancer surgery but hey, only missing 3 is not a bad innings!!

Take care and I look forward to reading your posts and responding soon!!

Denyse.

I do not know what breaks Alicia or Kell are having but for this last time in 2017 I will link up too. Thanks for sharing your space ladies!

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!


 

 

 

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Daring To Do This Daily! 2017.130.

Daring To Do This Daily! 2017.130.

Recently I wrote a guest blog post about my decision to post photos of myself daily as a personal challenge. I wrote for fellow blogger Jan Wild who blogs here:

I have always noticed a few people who are blogging friends were posting an instagram photo a day using a variety of hashtags #everydaystyle or #over60 or #mumstyle or #workfromhomestyle and to be honest I really thought those people were both brave AND beautiful. But that could never be me…until I questionned myself: Why not?

I had no real answer other than I do not have a reason to ‘dress up’ or ‘dress with pride’…and they were not true either.

This was hard for me to begin and here was my reason

Why I felt fearful is because of the vulnerability I was allowing to be seen by more than me, and because I wondered how I might be judged. After all, I am certainly an older woman and saggy skin and face shows those years now. And of course, my mouth was shut as only one lip could do the smiling. From The Guest Post.

The thing was about my confidence in both my appearance and my acceptance that in my late 60s I could still take pride in my appearance. I needed to accept too that the ‘over time’ weight loss meant I really needed to update my wardrobe size wise…and shhhh buy some decent underwear.

At the end of October I began to show what I wore each day. It was like that first dip in the cold ocean. You want to do it but you are not sure until you warm up…and then you keep swimming. I did. For all of November, leading up to my 68th birthday and it was very helpful for my self-confidence and it even helped me plan my day better. No more hanging around in baggy beach pants and tees. Time to make myself get out there again. I wrote a bit about it here on my blog too.

Another quote from my Guest Post:

What really made me start this was knowing others had gone before me.

Since 2011 I have followed the wonderful Nikki Parkinson-Hubbard and her blog/website called Styling You. I have met Nikki and love her attitude to make the style that is you be your guide. She has never been about ‘weight’ or ‘appearance’, yet I was.

I never thought of joining in her style challenges, nor even subscribing again to her newsletters until now.

Then, throughout 2017, I really took notice of another blogger friend, Jan, from this very site. I have been really admiring Jan’s daily outfit shots and her love of life shows in every photo!

Then something unexpected happened! I was amazed when I saw the ‘likes’ on the social media platforms and I grinned, despite my almost toothless status, because of the love and support sent back to me.

Wow. I thought. This is OK. In fact, it is good. I needed some boost to my days and something that had previously been taken from me – my confidence and self-image – was slowly growing. I did have a bit of a confidence wobble just this weekend as I wondered would I continue on a daily basis. I also think my upcoming post-op surgery appointment in Sydney was weighing on my mind and I asked my Instagram followers about continuing daily or not. Almost everyone said YES but added, ‘post when you feel like it’…and those words helped me. Thank you everyone.

As I write tonight, Monday, despite having a fair bit of mouth pain which I hope the Professor can help explain tomorrow afternoon when I see him, I have had another confidence boost. I added my birthday collage of me in a dress for the first time since 2002 on Styling You’s Outfits of the Week Facebook group page and it was very well received and I was truly humbled.

Then tonight, feeling a bit miserable, Nikki let me know I had been chosen as last week’s winner and would receive a copy of her book. Oh wow. Thank you Stylers!

Thank you again to Jan for your encouragement and to my fellow bloggers, instagram followers too. I am very grateful to you…and of course to my photographer…using my iphone and making sure I smile as much as I am physically able..my husband.

Do you do a personal challenge like this?

Would you?

If no, why not?

Thanks for reading and viewing. I have enjoyed showing some of the outfits here.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog on Tuesdays and with Leanne here for Lovin Life Linky on Thursday.

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