Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

with a little help from my friends....

 Today we've been to the ANZAC day service up town.

I am a passionate pacifist (from a long line of the same) - My maternal great grandfather, who fought at the Somme in WWI was the only soldier in our family - I suspect if it came to it - the rest of my lot would be conscientious objectors.... yet my father is patron of the local branch of the RSL (he has supplied the music for the ANZAC Day service in Cobargo every year for the past 60 years.... yes you read that right....  6 decades). As a child/teen I marched every year. Our two children have attended every service since their births and marched since they've been at school.

Sometimes people ask how you can be a pacifist AND a supporter of ANZAC Day. I don't see the problem. ANZAC Day has never been about the glorification of war to me - instead it has always been a powerful and personal message of peace - and this is what I hope our children also come to understand.

So each ANZAC Day I tell our kids the stories of our family and community to help them realise the value of mateship and the absolute stupidity of war.

And talking of mates and community - today a beautiful soul - local gal Kim - posted a looooooong (pic filled) 'guest nest' post on her blog all about my little sams creek nest - just in time to tell all her nice 'feather and nest' blog readers about the Sams Creek Bookworks Open Day (yep that was the obligatory reference to you-know-what... )

I have the nicest friends in all the world


Monday, April 23, 2012

sign of the times....

I'm currently handcrafting what I hope will be 
a traffic stopping sign for the bookworks

this is just a hint 
check out more working pics on the sams creek bookworks site

ps did you see the little poster for the open day over there in the sidebar >>>>>

(I'm excited and nervous about the day
and working flat out on all the preparations - 
 its all I can think about so I hope you'll just bear with me for the next couple of weeks 
while I just talk bookworks bookworks bookworks!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

art gesture sunday - week 16...

School holidays
means extra little bodies here at the creek...

Time for some small silliness...

Four small children with 'the world and its people' in their hands...

book fling

(much giggling)

 'the world and its people' take flight

one. two. three. four.

(more giggling)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

and another thing....

soooooo our garden is coming along apace... 
(even though it's been v. wet this week - almost another flood)

but I'm starting to panic that we won't get everything done in time for the big open day

I started the big studio interior clean up today

 oooo my 
(so much to do - so little time...)

getting the place ready is all I can think about right now

Boots and Dante don't seem to share my sense of urgency or worry..... 
and they aren't much help tidying things up either!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

jiminy crickets!

Sass: "Hey mum - look - I've got a cricket on my shirt"

"Hey mum - do crickets bite? can they sting you? what do they eat? where do they live? can they swim?" (ummm our kids are monster swimmers, so this is a kinda logical question for them to ask!) 
"what sorta cricket do ya think it is mum?"

mmmmm - I smell a school holidays project opportunity

we find books, I find an internet link

Me: "mmmmm what we seem to have is a black field cricket"
(we pour over the facts... mmmm -  nocturnal, likes to hide in vegetation/under rocks, eats decaying plant matter, doesn't bite/sting/attack humans)

so Sass builds a cricket condo in a shoe box and a cricket viewing jar
complete with rocks, grass, sticks and tube (for hiding)

(Sass loved the Eric Caryle book 'The Very Quiet Cricket' as a youngster)

and as I watched him get super excited about learning
the teacher in me felt vindication for my belief in the power of student-led education
and as a parent - I felt so happy that Sass was motivated to delve into a book

you see - our boyo has severe dyslexia

books (ahhhh 'my precious') aren't so much his friends
as they are scary, scary things that were put on earth to humiliate and embarrass him....

This is a common feeling amongst folk (young and old) with dyslexia or other 'learning difficulties'

So I suppose you've figured by this stage that this is not a post about crickets - but our tale of dyslexia.... It's a somewhat rambling tale (please bear with me) - shared today in the hope that it may help other parents and folk who 'see things a little differently' ....

We became aware that something 'wasn't quite normal' with our lad's reading around the end of his kindergarten year.... while almost all of his classmates could read simple (or not so simple) booklets, our son seemed to have difficulty just following the line of text.... no we weren't overly worried (I've been a fan of Steiner education that doesn't even begin teaching kidlets to read until after the age of 7...)

In year one sass continued to make very slow progress - by the middle of the year sassy's peers started seriously outpacing our boyo in the reading department and the school started him on the 'reading recovery' program (intensive 16 week program designed to help struggling readers) .... and then there were the tell-tale letter reversals ('b' might be 'd', 'p' and 'q' were swapped - and my fav - 'm' and 'w' were interchangeable!)  After Sass completed the reading program (making little progress) it became clear that there was something 'else' going on - we weren't overly worried - but it was time to check all the obvious things - we had eyes and ears tested (like many kids his age sass was slightly long-sighted - they also found he had a small hassle with changing focus from distance to close vision... ), we went off to 'smart body smart brain' for extra testing (turned out sass had a small hassle with audio processing... no not a hearing problem - but his brain had a delay in figuring out what he was hearing - it took in the first and last bits of a word, but not the middle.... and viewing anything black on white on paper just made his brain go into a total spin - the stuff kept moving damn it! like a river of ooze on a page.... no wonder he couldn't track a line of text! and before you ask - yes we looked into irlen lenses - but he isn't a strong candidate right now....) Armed with this knowledge I spoke to everyone from the GP, educational psychologists, his classroom teacher and specialist literacy teachers, the department of education learning support unit, reading tutors... (believe it or not - there isn't a lot known about what dyslexia is - how and why it occurs - and its generally a very loooong process to have 'dyslexia' diagnosed...)

By the end of year 2 it became very clear to all that our boyo had a classic type of dyslexia. Luckily Sass had a wonderful classroom teacher (who also happened to be the wonderful new principal at our little public school) I say luckily because the NSW Department of Education does not recognise dyslexia as a supportable condition (WTF?!!!!!!!!!! don't get me started on this..... totally insane!)

Through his school Sass has undertaken the 'reading recovery' program (twice), a computer 'brain training' program (an expensive program purchased by his little school because the government wouldn't...... grrrrr - I said don't get me started!), multi-lit (a reading program run by volunteers.... because the government doesn't fund..... oh you get the picture!)  he has had a one-to-one reading tutor (you guessed it - not government funded but a community volunteer) since Year 1..... Our little school has left no available (educational) stone left unturned to assist our sassy-boy and other kidlets with reading difficulties -- but it is uphill battle.

Sass is now in year 4 and for the first time he is starting to realise that there is a world of reading difference between himself and most of his mates..... we are now entering the really challenging time.

One of the biggest problems for kids with dyslexia (and other learning difficulties) is self-esteem - It's heart breaking to hear your child say 'I'm dumb' or worse  - for him to come home from school weeping 'everyone tells me I'm stupid'.... we tell him (and the world!) people with dyslexia aren't stupid - they just comprehend things in a different way (ps check out a few famous folk with dyslexia) - but this is small comfort for our not-yet-ten-year-old.....

yes we've talked about homeschooling to overcome the teasing (I heartily support anyone who has chosen this path - I just don't know if I've got the 'goods' for our kids)... but I'm not convinced that homeschooling is the right path for our kids who are both monster (MONSTER) sports stars. Sass is the school's athletics, cross country and swim champ - actually he's the zone PSSA swimming champ and was recently selected by Swim Australia to meet and train with AIS Olympic hopefuls Alicia Coutts and Sally Foster..... (but he's very quiet about his sporting abilities so I shouldn't start carrying on here....) Doing well in sport has helped our Sass feel good about himself - its a small counter to the constant negative messages he is bombarded with.....   but it's a tricky balancing act isn't it?

Our main focus has always been to help both our kids to feel confident about themselves - to know that they are ok, no matter what anyone may say (I think this is the main thing all we parents want eh?) We want them to know and feel proud about their strengths (not to be braggards or poxy little snots - and certainly not to use their strengths to make other people feel small) we want them to appreciate that we are all different - and that's ok!

my oh my - I hadn't meant to rattle on and on...... but dyslexia is something close to my heart - and our kiddies are even closer ;~)

And strangely this neatly brings me back to the sams creek bookworks open day (May 5th don't forget) - We are holding the open day as a fundraiser for Cobargo P&C - as a small show of support for our fabbo little school - thanks Cobargo PS for all you do for our kiddies...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

avert yer eyes.....

Sass snapped a quick pic of me lurking behind the 
(oooooo where are my sunglasses?) 
newly painted studio doors.....

nothing like a shockingly bright orange to stop traffic 

(we hope) 

its now just (gulp) 3 weeks until opening day for sams creek bookworks





Sunday, April 8, 2012

art gesture sunday - week 14...


 four red and gold books on a beach at night

on a night with a high tide... 


a sudden unexpected surge of surf!

(I run but am caught - wet to my knees, my boots fill with sea water and sand)

four books washed away!

I scan the sand with my tiny torch...

I find





I collect the wet and wretched tomes and head for home

squelching as I go...


Friday, April 6, 2012

four winds festival (a song about fish)...

Bermagui this afternoon

free concert on the oval to kick off Four Winds festival


(ooo purty... I spy some of Mister Jones handiwork)

a fishie made from shopping bags

sass lay on the ground doodling

EJ lay on the ground listening (and showing off her painted nails..... )

because Four Winds is all about THE MUSIC!

and this was the highlight - 
(no you can't see much on my i-phone pic... lucky I had the big camera with me...)

I give you - a recreation crowing of the 1958 Tuna Queen

('you are the tuna queen, young and free and only 17'..... ahhhh where would we be without ABBA) 

 made complete with hula hoopers, the akolele ukelele ladies, 
 bermy lifeguards, cabaret gal singers....
ooooo it was high camp and totally FAB 

hee hee hee

The Festival proper starts tomorrow at the Barraga Bay site 
now complete with beautiful sound shell 
(no I won't be going this time.... I have all that mulch to move.... le sigh)


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

kicking it into high gear...

The May opening date for Sams Creek Bookworks is approaching at an alarming rate (eeek!!!)
so we've kicked things up a gear here at the creek...

Today we took delivery of a mini B-Double load of mulch

and so you get  better idea of just how much mulch a mini B-dub load looks like...... 

here's our strappy big boyo up on top the 6ft high pile......

 yes its a LOT of mulch!
 (67 metres aka 28 tonne - 
which I think is more accurately described as a FRIGHTFUL amount of mulch! 
we will start to move this mountain tomorrow)

The garden is an integral part of the 'bookworks' operation - it's vital to get to a certain stage for opening day - so we've been planting and weeding and preparing garden bits everywhere.....

purple garlic on the go 

 broad bean seedlings (and weeds galore!)

I love working in the garden in autumn.

We've started painting the exterior of the studio (weird sneak peek of the door colour - a word of warning - if you visit in person you might want to don sunglasses first hee hee heee)

I feel a little bit like a mouse on a wheel right now.... going around and around and around ... but not really getting anywhere.... I just see all the jobs not yet done and am having a small freak out!

Just to add to the stress - I'm in the middle of another exegesis chapter (must be handed in the other side of Easter - eeeeeeeek!!!!!) and as you've heard me whinge before - writing does NOT come easy for me..... this chapter is a real challenge (why-oh-why did I think I could write anything about Pragmatic philosophy and link this to my work? foolish woman!)

at least I have the garden and studio preparations to think about - which might help me stay sane!


Monday, April 2, 2012

nava talks copyright... art life talks copyright......

Filed under - 'all creative folk should read this'..... two articles I've recently encountered that talk about copyright, art, art competitions and the web (and pinterest in particular)...... yes they are both aussie in origin and focus..... but the message should be loud and clear for all

'enter at your own risk' article by Tamara Winikoff - executive director of NAVA

'as granny used to say' by Sharne Wolff - the art life

(actually I was struck by the parallels in Wolff's blog post and my observations - it seems we are all seeing the same problem repeated over and over and over again..... le sigh)

ps in between reading and writing I'm presently painting the studio doors
in preparation for May 5th opening day - sneak peek coming soon...