Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 In Review / 2015 Ahead

It's been a long and productive year by most counts, excepting the impartial measurement of time. It's sometimes instructive to look at the past year in preview and see what was then the future and how much of it came to pass. Though the future is notoriously difficult to predict, that should stop one from engaging in wild speculation from time to time.

Gaynor continued with being on casual call for work at local schools, everything from helping with disabled children to watching children over lunchtime at the kindergarten to manning the front office. In addition to this, they asked her to take on the grunt work of a study into reading and comprehension effectiveness with a group of children. She really enjoyed it and made it her personal mission to make sure each child improved in some way, with some of the children quite resistant to her pedagogical charms. Nevertheless, she persisted and I would get the run down at the end of each day with small victories or setbacks. Gaynor also taught early morning seminary almost every school day of the year. Class was 6:40 - 7:30am with a sizeable amount of preparation needed for each lesson. Finally, Gaynor was also quite involved in the house extension, overseeing colours, some design, and lending a physical hand when seminary and work left her able to do so. For 2015, Gaynor still plans to be on call for casual work and depending on what that amounts too will give her time for other pursuits, such as enjoying and finishing her new extension.

Joshua has been working on and improving his comedy career over the past while, including writing and producing a show with his partner in crime, Riley at the Canberra Comedy Festival as well as performing at the Melbourne Comedy Festival soon after. He also had his first headline gig at the Polit Bar as well as clocking over the big 21. 2015 likely promises the two festival shows as well as semi-regular gigs around Canberra.

Elijah helped work on the house extension until he left for his missionary work in Hamilton, New Zealand in early July for two years. He was a great help -- you'll see him show up in quite a few house building pictures -- but being in New Zealand is the right thing for him to be doing at this time. We'll certainly miss him while he's away.

Mara turned down an offer of a place to study dance at the Victorian College of Art this year to work part-time and continue her dance studies with her current school with the aim of re-auditioning for the two programs she strongly prefers to participate in. VCA doesn't offer enough ballet for Mara's preference and both the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) courses are highly regarded. QUT is particularly appealing due to its association with Queensland Ballet and that both sets of grandparents are nearby. If all goes to schedule, she'll be at one of them, commencing next year, for the three years of the Bachelors degree.

Ariana has completed a fine year at high school, earning a number of awards for her studies. She's a dedicated student as well as being involved in a number of extra curricular activities such as Tournament of the Minds, band, and debating. 2015 will see her commence Years 11 and 12 through the college system of the ACT. I'm encouraging her to undertake the International Baccalaureate Diploma so that it might be more easily transferrable if we end up moving again. More on that soon. She also continued on with her cricket and teaching herself the trumpet.

Bryna also enjoyed her schooling very much during 2014, including being a part of the school leadership team. She takes part in pretty much every sport going. She won her cross country race, played touch footy and cricket for the school, and also enjoyed learning the fife, playing in a multi-school concert event. Next year she'll move on to the flute and I don't see her sporting endeavours diminishing any time soon.

Micah has been going on in leaps and bounds with his reading and schooling in general. He's learnt to share a room with Ariana alone after being in the large room with Elijah and Bryna as well. After Elijah's departure and the completion of a new master bedroom, the trickle down effect meant there were only two left! Ari does a good job of helping him to learn the discipline of putting things away :) He's a sweet boy, always ready with a smile and a hug.

Fenton had a couple of things on the go during this past year. Commencing and (pretty much) finishing the house extension was a sizeable one, as was being called as the Bishop of our local congregation at church in April. With the addition of mostly holding down a full-time job -- with much thanks to his understanding and flexible colleagues and supervisors -- it made for perhaps the busiest year of my life[1]. Of course, I couldn't have made any of it work without so much help from all and sundry, including[2], but not limited to, Geoff and Margaret, José, Mischa, and Steve among many.

[1] Previous title holder was mid 1995 - mid 1996, which I won't bore you with details about now.
[2] excluding immediate family, most of whom have been previously mentioned.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Wishing you a lovely Christmas and New Year. Bonus points for knowing which book belongs to whom.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Getting There

After a few months of a very intensive work schedule, these are the last remaining tasks. Scraping together the time to get them done is the challenge now.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Extending Ourselves

In past posts, I've alluded to the planned extension to our home and now that we are getting down to the business end of the deal, I thought I'd better share a post showing what we have planned before everything comes unstuck. :) Even though it has been/will be quite busy around here for the past/next while, hopefully I'll be able to post a few progress shots. The lack of posts in the recent past are mostly due to work on the extension and my new responsibility in our local church congregation as its bishop.
Original State A few extra trees which were present when we purchased aren't shown. After all, I didn't want to get obsessive did I?
After Demolition The parts that will be removed or altered.
Planned Status The final product.
Planned Status, Internal Reveal Inside the final product, showing the mezzanine at the front to catch all that lovely northern sun.
Kitchen Detail The current kitchen and dining will be converted to the master bedroom and en suite. Floor here is polished concrete and is hydronically heated.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

2013 In Review

Just a quick review of what has been this past year, covering events that didn't make the blog for one reason or another. I'll post again early next year about what lays ahead. As seems to be typical for our family, we've tried to fit in the maximum amount allowable.

Gaynor has taken up casual, part-time work assisting at local primary (elementary/Grundschule) schools, primarily with high needs students. She's always had a strong interest in, and love of, education and she quickly develops a relationship with whoever she is working. Balancing home life and work -- which is on an as-needed, usually-called-the-day-before-or-morning-of basis -- has been helped by Joshua's flexible schedule and efforts around the house and with his younger siblings.

In addition, she has toughed out the better part of the year without a proper oven in her kitchen. Since the kitchen was about to be ripped out soon (and still is) a new oven didn't make much sense, nor did spending money repairing the old one. Cooking hot cross Easter buns at her sister's and birthday cakes at her friend's meant she still fulfilled her minimum obligations.

Joshua is working on his comedy -- (obligatory plug) upcoming show Josh Glass and Riley Bell - Bicycle Thieves, 6 March, 9:30pm at the Canberra Comedy Festival -- with a number of recent paid gigs in various locations. He has also been keeping his parents happy by squeezing in his first year of full-time study of a Bachelor of Writing. In addition, as noted above, he's been very valuable in his help around the house this past year.

Elijah just completed a year-ish long contract as a public servant, specialising in office duties and over-the-phone work. Primarily, the job has allowed him to save a large chunk of money but I think it has also helped him narrow his focus on what he would like to do for a career. Highlights of the job included many a lunch hour playing a variety of inter-office sports. Nevertheless, he's grateful to the friend who helped him secure the position. He also spent some of 2013 learning more about cars and how to fix them up. Nothing like a inheriting a friend's discarded car, having it fail a vehicle road worthiness check, buying an even more discarded same-model and swapping parts until it passes said check to bring your working knowledge of cars up to speed (pun intended). This hobby was made easier by the availability of Dad's tools, knowledge, very occasional strong arm and a perfectly serviceable car he'd purchased earlier in the year.

Mara had a busy year by many standards; completing Year 12, three ballet exams -- Advanced 1 (June), Grade 8 (August), and Advanced 2 (October), three auditions for places at university, and having a starring role in the end-of-year production of her ballet school. She played the Wicked Witch in an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and, since the role came so naturally to her, had to do a bit of work with the young children who were initially scared of her. It didn't take long for them to love her though :)

'Ariana did absolutely nothing' was what she said when I asked what she did last year. In reality, she finished her first year of early morning seminary, Year 9 at high school, took up cricket (played in a schools tournament and committed to training with the ACT squad) and trumpet (a birthday gift, at her request) and continued with saxophone and piano. To round out her shotgun approach to activities she also tried her hand briefly at fencing and badminton (though not at the same time).

Bryna enjoyed a lot of sporting adventures this year at school -- cross country, cricket as well and learning an Aboriginal game, buroinjin. She also enjoyed a good year academically as well as continuing with piano and fife. She played a Flying Monkey in the end-of-year ballet school production, enjoying being on stage with her big/wicked sister.

Micah finished pre-school with a lovely report that mentioned how well he got along with the other children. He is very good verbally and, together with his lovely temperament, this means he is usually a moderating influence on his peers, occasionally acting as a mediator when needed. He's also shown a keen interest in learning mathematics, reading and writing. Fortunately for him his older siblings are happy to pass on their acquired knowledge -- he's never really short of someone to play or spend time with.

Fenton pretty much did the usual during the year; busy with church-related responsibilities, kept the cars and motorcycle running, marked my half-life day, and finished the house extension plans enough to receive approval from the local government to build it. Oh, also tried to fit in a full-time job in there somewhere.

Next post ... what's coming up in 2014!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I Love a Sunburnt Country

The parched grass, the ever-green trees, the sublime colours of the sunset ... I love a sunburnt country.