Moose Tracks Ice Cream

bake me away!

Moose Tracks Ice Cream

It’s been a dream of my dad’s to renovate* an old Airstream and drive across the US to see the national parks.  (*This would be one sweet ride…he is a master craftsman!)  Since this hasn’t happened yet, my parents flew up to Wyoming a few years ago to explore Yellowstone for a couple weeks.

I like to tease my dad about that hat.  (photo by my mom, I’m assuming!)

While there, he found a beer that he really liked: Moose Drool Brown Ale by Big Sky Brewing Co. in Montana.  My sister and I were a bit shocked I think because he’s always been a Miller Light (eww) drinker.  I’m pretty sure he tried the Drool purely because of its name…

PB cups!

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Dear Elizabeth Farrelly: We NEED private education!

Last Friday in the Sydney Morning Herald my family and I were horrified to see yet another private school bashing article by the columnist, Elizabeth Farrelly. We would like to set the record straight in a number of areas she addressed.

In her article, titled “Why Private schools add little to education mix”, Farrelly starts by writing 7 paragraphs that do not even mention private schooling at all! Instead she compares (incomprehensibly) “the difference between education and damage”, refers obliquely to a possibility of “allowing more local students in Sydney Boys and Girls high schools”(these are well known public, selective schools) and calls for such selective schools to be seen as “Special Needs” as the children who are carefully selected and attend would otherwise “wither and die” in a normal school setting.

Farrelly then goes on to “declare an interest” (a huge one) as both her children attended Sydney Girls High and she admits “to having nightmares as to what we would do if they could not.”

She then calls for the resolution of making all schools public! This instead of letting local students who are not “orchid children” into the hallowed halls of Sydney Boys and Girls!

She would like to “Abolish private schools. Gone.”

Private schools “add little.” instead they “build enclaves of privilege for those who need it least.”

This we must protest against long and hard and with every fibre of our beings!

We are a family that moved back to my idyllic small town when my children were small from inner city Sydney. We are university graduates from families of university graduates with teachers, barristers, doctors, engineers, pathologists etc in our extended families.

I am a public school teacher. My mother has been a public school teacher since 1967. We believed (note past tense) in the public school system. We believed it would be universally accountable wherever we chose to bring up our beautiful, bright and diverse bunch of kids. We believed we would be listened to and valued as loyal public school people for decades. Or indeed just as decent taxpaying people. Or just as people.

When my beautiful mixed race daughter was bullied and excluded for achieving too highly in everything from sport to academics we protested to the teacher, deputy and Principal. We could see she had been coping until she got a teacher with questionable skills who allowed behaviour such as shouting, kicking balls indoors, leaving the classroom without warning and wandering around the room interfering. This teacher had been employed by the Principal  and he would not investigate the allegations from many parents of misconduct in that room and instead chose to cover the problems with bullying and lies.

We had no choice after our child was called a “stupid Chinese person” but to withdraw her on stress leave and investigate our options.

The only other school in our town is a small Catholic school (private) with very few children her age and she was dying for a group of friends and some acceptance. We reluctantly applied to a Grammar school in a nearby town and she was accepted immediately.

She has never looked back.

This school has shown great respect to her enthusiasm and abilities from her first day. One year after moving she was voted as a prefect at a school 6 times bigger than her previous school where terrible teaching, lack of kindness, empathy and fairness has been allowed to flourish under a Principal who is ruthless in his vindictiveness.

We have found a school better than I have ever taught in and better than we ever imagined and it is only a bus ride away.

We had no other choice of public schools. Our public school is holding a cruel monopoly over the kids in our town who attend as it has been allowed to develop a terrible culture of bullying and spin from the Principal which he is using to cover lack of teaching, lack of care and a history of laziness and ineptness which will culminate in some or lots of these kids having a lesser life than they deserve!

Our local public school kids are in a school with a toxic culture which spends far more time covering teacher mistakes and bad policy decisions than it does in teaching them how to read and write. The teachers still get their ample wages having gained one of the highest paid jobs in our small town but they are not providing these isolated kids the same chance “of performing to his or her full capacity as a human”.

City based proponents of the Public School debate are forgetting or willfully disregarding the story in the country.

We do not have another public school in the next suburb to go to. We have tiny public schools 1/2 hour – 45 mins away with no public transport and who are heavily influenced by our Principal as our local school is the largest in the area.

Elizabeth Farrelly, we tried!

We “flooded our middle class energy into the public system” and after years of teaching and volunteering for hours a week, donating time, money and our lovely kids into the public system, it has failed us and spat us out like rubbish.

Our closest selective schools are few and far away (3 hours) and the only public boarding school in this half of the state is single sex for boys!

Please don’t belittle the safe haven and hard work that private schools like the one we have found as adding “no value to what children bring home from school”. 

If I could capture the joy, acceptance, academic challenges and fairness that exudes from our daughters’ private school and bottle it, it would be worth a fortune. My girls wake up excited about school every morning and are more than willing to go that extra mile in anything they are asked because they believe in their school.

We are so lucky.

We have left behind the black hole of the public school in our town but the pain of betrayal lingers on.

My beautiful boy’s drawing of Puss in Boots on Donkey in ” Shrek”!

My beautiful boy's drawing of Puss in Boots on Donkey in

My little boy has autism and he draws a lot! He could talk your leg off about things he loves or is interested in! He has obsessions. He loves Schleich animals and often gets one if he is good or tries hard at school. He loves swimming! And he loves movies. Shrek movies are a favourite!

He uses drawing as a form of communication as he discusses what he is drawing and shows you and asks you questions about what he has drawn! He is so prolific that we run out of paper all the time and are surrounded at all times by his master pieces! So beautiful!

Relay for Life – Raising money for cancer!

Yesterday our lovely neighbour rang to ask us to go with her to an event called “Relay for life” that is held every year in our small town to raise money for cancer research. Her brother in law helps organise the event and is a survivor of leukemia. Our boy was at his Grandma’s house for a visit so I decided to go and see what it was all about with my two girls (aged 11 and 10).

We were a bit taken aback when we went into the hall as there weren’t many people there and the ones that were had tables that were full. Then our friend found us with her two small girls and we signed up to do the walk and paid $60 and received our “free” Relay for Life official shirts.

There were a couple of speeches to welcome us and a lady I have known since I was 7 got up and told about how she beat cancer 25 years ago. People were everywhere with sashes over their shoulders that said “Survivor” or “Carer”. It was a lovely sight to see.

Next we congregated outside for the ceremonial walk of the cancer survivors and families. The group was all dressed in purple carrying a banner supporting “Relay for Life”. The next group was the children who walked around the track, representing hope and health and future.

During the afternoon we ate cake, played Trivia, met friends, danced to dreadful songs, had a juggling competition and finished with an auction of donated goods from all over town.

My girls loved it so much that I left them there with my neighbour while I went home to my son. (He has autism and really doesn’t like loud noises and that auction was ear-drum piercing!)

 My husband who just arrived home from 4 days away at work took my place at the gathering and came home hours later with happy, exhausted girls.

Cancer is very close to our heart as my best friend from university died at 36 years from brain tumours that they think came from a melanoma that she had had cut out 8 years before!

We love you, Kate! (1964-1999)

Lovely day out! Brilliant concept for a VERY worthwhile cause!

Friday morning music

I love the idea that love transforms peoples lives in such wonderful ways! It is such a powerful emotion that people move all over the world for love or give up their career to care for a sick loved one or change the course of their life to accommodate the needs of their beloved : be it a child, partner, parent, sibling, relative or friend. Love is everything!

Dr Bill Wooten

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