Regular readers will know that this year I returned to teaching after many years at home. Oh, I never really stopped teaching, whether it was teaching piano, teaching my girls, giving group recorder lessons, teaching stamping, leading a church group, and more recently working as a casual teacher ... I've always being teaching someone something, but it certainly wasn't full-time.
For the majority of the last 18 years, I've had a lot of freedom to my days. I had 9 years when my girls were both at school 5 full days a week, although more recently they have had half-days some days. In the early school years I over-committed, but over time I managed to carve away at my extra commitments until the last few years I was free most days, unless the phone rang and I was off teaching at one school or another.
So what did I do all day? Um ... a lot ... and not a lot.
I baked, and I rearranged. I shopped and I decluttered. I painted when we renovated, and when we didn't. I made cards and crocheted and blogged. I spent too much time look at other peoples' lives on the internet, but only if they had pretty or inspiring blogs. I put time into leading a bible study group, and valued those friendships and the knowledge I gained. I put necessary time into regaining my health through changing diets and going to appointments. Sometimes in recent years I helped my mother-in-law, as she moved house and became less independent. Sometimes I saw my extended family. All good things.
And of course I managed the things that needed managing for my family - the shopping, the gifts, the organising, the notes, the calendar, the music lessons. Housework even sometimes happened.
Someone pointed out to me that today is my 19th Mothers Day. That's a lot of them. But with an 18yo and a 16yo, it sounds about right.
We celebrated quietly today, with some presents after church (DVDs, chocolate, bedsocks and bookmarks) and a delicious steak dinner cooked by Steve. Just now we've watched an old Doris Day film before the girls headed to bed.
The 19th time round doesn't feel so special as the first 10 or so Mothers Days did. I mean, at first you're so thrilled to be a mum, and to have a fuss made about you, and then in the primary school years your children are so excited to be giving you their cute little handmade gifts. (I should say that Emily still made me a cute gift, a beautiful felt bookmark stitched with a bird, made with as much love as those early craft attempts but much more skill!)
But by now things have changed - the girls have their own lives, we're all busy with studying, and those family times are fewer and farther between. I was glad to pin everyone down for lunch together, and it was sweet of them to spoil me with some nice gifts. One day the girls will be gone, and I'll be like our mothers, waiting for the phone to ring and for the children to visit. Which sounds kind of depressing.
I guess I'm still getting used to having almost-grownup girls. Memories of those cute little girls with their school Mothers Day crafts are fading, and sometimes it kind of feels like some other girls have moved in, instead.
Leaving before dawn on Good Friday to drive to Canberra
arriving, with harp for a 10am rehearsal.
the bells of Morris Dancers heard downstairs.
Booking my harp into instrument storage
setting up my tent, a baby tent in a row of grownup tents
heading off on foot to explore the festival -
so many excellent artists playing, Irish, Cajun, vocal, bluegrass, Canadian ...
Dancers from all ethnic groups, in their costumes
playing in fiddle workshops,
some clothes shopping,
some coconut-drinking and eating.
Figuring out how to get my harp to the Spiegelzelt
setting up our 10-piece orchestra on the stage, with mirrors and leadlight and a red and gold fabric roof.
alternately sweltering, panicking and enjoying throughout our one hour performance
Watching the dancers waltz as I played my solo,
surely what the spiegelzelt was built for, 97 years ago.
Enjoying a drink after all that.
Finding a delicious paleo-style dinner
seeing too many amazing artists to list, playing in so many different styles.
heading to the Session Bar late at night and joining in with whoever is playing there, till after midnight, surrounded by hundreds of other musicians and onlookers, all having a great night.
Walking alone through the empty festival and back to the campground.
Cosy in my tent, listening to folk rock boom-booming in the distance until 1.30am
then up to fry eggs on the campstove
before doing it all again for two more days,
loving every minute.
At the end of January, Emily celebrated her 18th Birthday with about 30 girlfriends.
Originally supposed to be a Garden Party, (for which we did considerable work on the garden), the party moved indoors at the last minute after a few intermittent showers. Emily decorated the living room with the streamers she'd made for the front garden, and made tissue paper flowers, thank you favours and cute drinks labels.
That's my girl.
I can see she will make a great wedding planner one day :)
Laura and I worked hard while the girls chatted to provide a feast with vegetarian, nut-free and vegan options, while Steve was off playing quartets at music camp. At the end of a great party, we three girls tidied up and then collapsed on the sofa for a TV dinner.
Last year I did some casual teaching at about 8 local primary schools. I enjoyed it, mostly, but there was one school I really liked teaching at, and I was sorry not to be called there at all during Term 4. I used to daydream about getting some regular work there. Until one afternoon towards the end of term, when I had a call from their principal, asking about my availability for 2016. I told him I was available, and he said he would call back in a few days, sounding like he might have a position for me.
I waited, glued to my phone at all times. I spoke to him again in the last few days of school, but he had no news for me, the school's enrolment had dropped a little and they weren't sure how many teachers they needed. The school year ended, and I tried to forget about it all, wondering if I might hear from them again as school went back at the end of January. But on the 7th Jan I was surprised with a call offering me a temporary job as Teacher Librarian at this school that I really wanted to teach at!
This seemed nothing short of a miracle, because I am not a primary school teacher (but a high school teacher) and have no library experience. However that didn't seem to bother them! I accepted the job and spent the rest of January researching to find out what a Teacher Librarian actually does (and preparing for Emily's 18th birthday party). I met the retiring librarian of 26 years service before school started, and began the job at the end of January.
I am loving spending my days with books and kids. This seems like the perfect job for me :)
Of course, I have plenty to learn, about children's literature, running a library, and teaching information literacy. But I'm finding it all a good challenge and coping well so far with working full-time again. It still seems amazing that I have this great job, and didn't even have to apply for it!
(Not sure why I didn't open the blinds for these photos?)
Over time, I might make some changes to the layout and decor of the library. You can see that the library is very well laid out and holds thousands of good books. For now, I'm content setting up the occasional display and making minor changes to add to the smooth running of my day :)
I've gotten to know two lovely ladies at school, one is the library assistant, who works in the library 2 days a week, accessioning books and doing the administration. My other friend is a teacher who shares the library office with me 3 days a week. If it wasn't for them, my job could become a bit lonely if I didn't make the effort to get to the staffroom, since the library office has everything I need for lunch and working, and I'm not working in a team as the classroom teachers are.
In addition to teaching full-time, I'm studying part-time by distance education to be fully qualified as a primary teacher, to keep my future options open. I'm not sure how long my great job in the library will last. My job seems easy in comparison to my studies, which could quite easily fill my every waking hour, but I'm just managing it all, somehow.
It's a big year of change for Emily, also. She's studying Events Management, and won a huge scholarship to pay for her course, for which we are very thankful. Her full-time course takes just two days a week at college, and she works occasionally in a part-time job.
Laura is in Yr 11 this year, so need to be studying a lot more, and even Steve is doing some studies as part of his job. I'm still teaching piano, but not leading bible study this year. There's a lot of driving the girls to do in the evenings, to their various activities, and occasionally on the weekends we can fit in some driving lessons for them.
So, as you can imagine, almost every moment of every day is filled, which is such a change for me after years of being mostly at home, choosing my activities, setting the pace. But God is good, and we are all coping, I am loving it all (except when I have assignments due) and I am thankful for these new challenges and opportunities for us all.