Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yesterday Nic had the whole day off so we headed to Woodend. It's one of the places I'd love to live and had on my list of places to visit.

The verdict: it's very pretty and he can see some positives, not sure he'd like to live there but would like to go back for a weekend to have a longer visit. Fair 'nuff. I asked only for an open mind.

I have to say it was exactly what I needed in terms of a break as well; fields of glorious grass rippling in the breeze that stretched around wide as the eye could see, deep vales dotted silver and yellow with leafy shrubs and wild-flowers, wide open fields and the mountains and hills rising from the earth into the skies... places that are still a bit wild... that haven't been tamed and neatly planned out in tidy tended plots! I wanted to jump out of the car and tear, dancing barefoot down through the windswept fields racing the gusts and eddies that danced and swirled the sun dappled grass in wild patterns like I did as a child. Sierra and Cade whined in the car when we hit the areas that reminded me of where we used to live and once out they ran, dashing and barking joyfully as if they were pups again. I think they remember hiking with me through the wild places I used to roam before moving here too. As part of the trip we did the tourist gig and trekked up Hanging Rock which was absolutely beautiful as well.
I'll post some photos shortly.

Today was tamer, a quiet morning after another relatively sleepless night and we had Laurent's photo shoot for Bambini models in the afternoon. We finally found the place after getting directed to the wrong Medina building and got the shoot done... I'd worried as Laurent has a BIG bruise covering his cheek. Thank goodness the photographer was non-plused and was perfectly willing to edit post production. Should get the pics in 2-3 weeks or so.

I also need to start planning L's birthday, yikes... coming up on 15 October! *shock* I've got several ideas of things I'd like but have yet to decide on a venue, photographer etc. and need to firm up my schedule for the cooking. =:-O

Other than that I'm also in the midst of thinking a lot about his schooling since I don't have a huge amount of time before I need to sign him up for one school or the other. That's also factoring into the thoughts on moving since my first choice for school (Preshil) is a few minutes walk from our current house. If we go out in the country, that means leaving that behind and I really haven't heard of any I've liked as well as Preshil. There are other options, schools with a Reggio Emilio stream or Montessori stream possibly but there is a lot more reading I need to do about those philosophies as from what I've read so far there are bits I really like and agree with, points I question and some aspects which I don't care for perhaps even strongly enough to want to avoid it. Even then, each school interprets the philosophy differently - some are extreme and require you follow every aspect of it fanatically and I can see myself taking heavy exception to having someones idea forced down my throat... so. Yeah. Lots to think about.

The other question about choosing to use a RE or Montessori type is that most of those are preschool/kinder/primary but not high-schools. Preshil goes through to highschool. I can't see going with one philosophy part way and chucking him in another simply because he's hit X age, though I think if I could only send him to this type of school for one part of his life it'd be early on. Buuuttt... if we go to Preshil, which is where I'm strongly leaning, it also means that we have to stay close-ish enough that I can drive there. Blackburn wouldn't be a problem... heck, I used to drive over an hour each way to college each day so a 15 minute drive is nothing. But there's a question of how far away they accept students living from.

The other issue with Preshil is the fees. It's seriously NOT cheap... we could swing the fees for Laurent. But... it would make having a second child tricky without sacrificing some of the things I'd really wanted for us in terms of lifestyle, which I think are also important for Laurent to experience. (IE trips overseas and to other areas where he can see different cultures etc.) I'd probably have to go to work part time once the second child was old enough to go to school just to pay costs. Especially with two of them in highschool at the same time!

On the other hand, while I'd like to have at least one more child, I've also sort of reached this point in me where if it happens... it'd be delightful and I'd adore it but if not, I won't feel like our family is incomplete in some way or I'm forever missing a meant-to-have second child.

To complicate matters, I've also got it swirling in my head that while formal education is important, the lifestyle he's raised in is also a very important influence in one's life and I'd really love him to grow up in a small community, close to nature, seeing the natural cycle of life and death and be aware of where his food comes from and at what cost. I grew up in that environment and wouldn't trade that influence on my life for anything. Of course then there is the issue of if he'll like it in later life as well... I know only too well that quite often there are problems with teens in small towns finding lots of trouble for lack of anything to do and lack of opportunities. Yet there are those who thrive in it and never want to move away from that. Soo... more to think about.

Ramble, ramble, ramble... jeeze. I meant to just do a friggin’ brief update about our training and the past few days! *rolls eyes* So. Getting to the training before I blather anymore...

As a brief recap, we started out by holding the dumbell and clicking any interaction with it, free-shaping up to her gripping the bit (and ONLY the bit, no other part) of the dumbell whenever it was presented to her. Then the other day, I didn't go into the full details but basically we did the same thing only instead of my holding the dumbell, it was on the floor. Free-shaped from any interaction to gripping the bit and only the bit of the dumbell. Easy peasy, only trick was that Laurent kept grabbing the darn thing instead of the dog! ;-)

Next step is teaching the dumbell to fly - so instead of clicking just for the grip, we hold out for a few until one end of the dumbell or the other wobbles off the floor. Goal is for the dog to immediately put her mouth over the dumbell bit and cause it to move slightly. After that we'll fiddle with getting the dumbell to have one bell fully lifted off the floor by a mm or so. Then both ends off the ground. Then we get the dumbell a few inches off the ground. Following that we'll click only for lifts of 4-8" off the ground, 8-16" off the ground, 16-24". Since Sierra is a 20" dog that's plenty high. In all of these, the higher the lift in the range the better/more of the treat it merits. EG I'll pay for anything in the 4-8" range but 4" will pay less/less well than 5 or 6 or 7 or 8". I'm guessing this is as far as we're likely to get by the end of tonight and maybe not even that far depending on how it goes. Doing pretty well so far with getting a few 4-8" pick ups.

Long term goal for anyone just tuning in is a hotdog retrieve. IOW I will throw a room temperature hotdog 10' and the dog will go on single cue to retrieve it, pick it up, return directly to me, sit in the front position and release the hotdog uneaten/chewed/otherwise molested into my hands. We're starting by teaching a formal retrieve with a plastic obedience dumbell.


Sif said...

Hey didn't know you were getting L into modelling! How did you decide on that?

WRT funds for his schooling have you thought of the Australian Scholarship Group? It's a fund you pay an amount into each month and they you get the money back to cover costs of either highschool or Uni (or whatever by then, coz it's your money)... If you haven't heard of this (then you haven't been around long as a parent, rofl), then you will find an ASG ad in Melbourne's Child, or just about any parenting magasine...

Woodend is beautiful, btw! And not too far from the city, many people commute to Melbourne for work from there...

Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda, I just read your post and I have to say that I understand exactly where you are coming from. Your blog sounded like a half a minute transcript from one of the 124 conversations that go around in my head way too often about what choices to make about education, lifestyle etc for my sons. I think I have come to the conclusion that there just aren't any right paths. I work in the area of education and there is the real risk that I know too much - I am also a crazy reader, researcher, opinion seeker so that all equals info overload at times. I think I've made one good decision only to find that at a seminar that I attend it suddenly seems like a ludicrous idea and I'm back to square one. Anyway enough blah, blahing from me - I can say that I did a tour of Preshil a month ago and it really did seem wonderful. I have explored the Steiner/Waldorf thing and came to the same conclusion that the spritual angle didn't really sit with me. Preshil seems to offer a similar approach without that angle. My son loved the whole setting - mum it's the Australian bush, were his words as we entered the campus :o)Good luck as you travel down the decision making path.