Thursday, 18 December 2014

Why We Are Rotten Parents and Other Christmas Stories

I almost recorded this week's podcast on my own. Then at the last minute, just as I was about to begin, Gemma-Rose appeared.

"I'll talk with you about Christmas, Mum." 

This week in my Christmas edition podcast, we chat about:

  • A magical Santa Christmas
  • A magical Christmas without Santa
  • Advent and Christmas traditions
  • Why the Three Wise Men set out to find Jesus before He is even born
  • Why St Nicholas isn't very reliable
  • Why we are rotten parents
  • Why midnight Mass isn't at midnight
  • The worst Christmas job that I no longer have to do
  • Australian Christmas traditions
  • Australian carols and songs
  • Why Santa wears his singlet, shorts and thongs
  • What Orana means...
and lots of other things!

And we listen to some beautiful Christmas music sung by Imogen. (Thank you Imogen!)

I apologise for the quality of this podcast. I think we must have been sitting too near the microphone. In some places there is a bit of a background hum which I was unable to remove. Perhaps I need a better microphone.

There were also a couple of clumsy transitions between segments. And can you spot the recording glitch? Oh well, I'll get better at podcasting with more practise!

Program Notes

Blog posts about Christmas

Empty Shoes
Last year, St Nicholas forgot to come. Sophie couldn’t believe it. Her face fell as she peered into her shoes…nothing.

Memories of Magi
I hear someone outside my bedroom.  Fingers appear under the door as they push a scrunched up piece of paper into the room. There is a giggle and then the sound of footsteps retreating down the hall. I tumble out of bed and retrieve the message. On the paper are the scrawled words: I found the Wise Men at 6.05 am, Sophie

Grief and an Advent Wreath
Family treasures are hardly ever expensive. They are the things that were made with love.

The Journey of the Three Wise Men
Where will the Wise Men be today?

Christmas movies and books we talked about

Muppet Christmas Carol
Arthur Christmas

Books by Tomie de Paola including Merry Christmas Strega Nona
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Little Women

Blog posts about food

Our Christmas Pudding Collection
Something smells wonderful. Our mouths are watering.  And when we look into our bowls, we almost faint. It is Christmas pudding. It is this year’s Christmas pudding.

Andy's Amazing Potato Salad
Your mouth is probably watering at the thought of this truly out-of-the-ordinary potato salad. You are probably waiting impatiently for me to write out the recipe. You might be planning to rush out the door to buy all the ingredients as soon as you find out what they are.

Australian Christmas carols and songs
Christmas in Australia

Christmas carols
Andy, Callum, Imogen and Charlotte sing The Carol of the Bells
Imogen Sings Praise to God in Heaven

The Angels of Abbey Creek
I hope Gemma-Rose doesn't mind being turned into Santa. She won't be getting my children's book, The Angels of Abbey Creek for Christmas. We have lots of copies already! Did you know there's an Advent and a Christmas story in my book?

If you'd like to listen to more of my podcasts, they can be found on my Podbean page. (Or you could subscribe through iTunes.)

I did say I was going to talk about the pressures of blogging and Facebook and other social media. Maybe that's a good podcast topic for the New Year when I'll be making some resolutions!

And finally... you can find me on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page

Enjoy the last week of Advent!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

So What's Happening With Facebook and My Blog?

frosty day by Dawn Huczek(CC BY 2.0)

“I’m no longer going to post on my blog Facebook pages,” I announced. “Please feel welcome to follow my personal timeline instead… or you could become my Facebook friend.”

Then one day, not so long ago, I signed into my Facebook account and, as usual, began scrolling through my feed. And as usual, all the posts flooded towards me, demanding some kind of response...

Watch this video.
Read that article.
Join this group.
Protest about that issue.
Pray for this cause.
Laugh at that photo.
And this video.
Cry at that news.
Be warned about this product.
Accept that special offer.
Listen to this music.
Congratulate that person.
Say happy birthday to this one.
Follow that link.
Follow this one too.

Like, follow, share, post, comment, reply, join, unjoin, friend, unfriend... deactivate…
…deactivate your account.

So I did. I clicked my mouse just once, and everything disappeared. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

That sigh didn’t last long. Facebook might have disappeared but the blogosphere was still demanding…

Write this post.
And that one.
Edit them.
Publish them.
Share the links.
Visit this blog.
And that one.
Read this post.
And that one.
Share this post.
And that one.
Leave this comment.
And that one.
Write this reply.
And that one.

Write, edit, publish, share, visit, read, share, comment, reply... delete..
.. delete your blog.

So I did. I clicked my mouse just once, and everything disappeared. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

“But Mum, you love blogging,” protested my children.

I do.

“You could have made your blog private,” they said, “instead of deleting it.”

“But it would still be there,” I replied, “beckoning me back, demanding my attention. I’d be tempted to visit it. I need some space.”

Not too many days later, of course, I began to miss my blog and my online community. So I grabbed my mouse and clicked ‘undelete blog’ and it returned.

 At the wrong address.

“You should have made your blog private for a while,” repeated my children, "instead of deleting it." I agreed. But it was too late.

“How will anyone know my blog is at the wrong address?” I wondered.

And then I remembered:

My Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page was still active. It has more than one administrator. Two Sues look after this page. Yes, I have a second private Facebook account.

So I signed into Facebook using my secret identity, and before I knew it, I was doing something I said I would no longer do: I began posting again on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page.

If anyone has been unsuccessfully looking for my unschooling blog, it is at its old blogspot address, and not at its domain name address.

It took me a long time to work out how to get my domain name URL back. My poor brain was in a bad way before I was finally successful. I never want to put it through such a painful process ever again.

That's why I am never going to delete my blog again.

And although I undeleted my blog, I'm not going to reactivate my real Facebook account. I do miss my friends, but I can't cope with the flood of electronic information that sweeps over me from my personal feed every time I sign in. (I can always keep in touch with people by email, can't I?)

But I might continue creeping silently through Facebook to my Sue Elvis Writes page, using my other identity. (The unschooling page disappeared, along with my timeline.) I do like my page, and I've missed posting there.  

So that's what's happening with Facebook and my blog. 

Was that confusing? Is your brain aching? I must admit mine is hurting a little, after writing this post. It might be time to close my computer and go do something else. Keep my online world in balance with the one I can see around me. Avoid burn-out.

Because burn-out leads to deleting and deactivating, long posts full of explanations, and apologies for all the confusion.

Sorry (again) by Matti Mattila(CC BY 2.0)

PS: I've been thinking a lot about burn-out recently. I touched on this topic in last week's podcast, but I have more I could say. Maybe I'll share some thoughts about the pressures associated with blogging and social media in this week's episode. 

Do you like the bird in the photo? It's wearing its Facebook blue.

The Angels of Abbey Creek
If you read my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek, upside-down, would that make your brain ache?

Did I mention you can find me on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page?

You can also find my blog mentioned in the Best Homeschool Methods category of the Homeschool Blog Awards. Thank you Chris of Campfires and Cleats, for nominating me, and congratulations on your own THREE nominations. Voting is open until 29th December.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Chores and Kids: What if We Said, "Yes"?

My most popular post ever is Getting Kids to Help With the Chores. After publishing it, readers flocked over to see what I'd written. Had I discovered the secret to having helpful and considerate children?

Some readers were very skeptical when they read my words: "That sounds too easy!" But sometimes the easy sounding things don't turn out to be so easy after all. And sometimes we are called to do the difficult things of life.

Have you read my post? If you have, you could always watch my new video on the same subject. It's only a couple of minutes long, and it contains a beautiful piece of music. I hope you'll watch!

The Angels of Abbey Creek
Sometimes it's good to share a book with a sister! 

Sophie and Gemma-Rose are reading my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek.

You can also find me on my Sue Elvis Writes Facebook page!


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Books, Music, Burnout and a Mystery!

This podcast is a few days late or a couple of days early, depending on how you look at it. It's also not the same podcast I originally recorded. This week I reveal what happened to the first one and I also talk about...
  • Beginnings: How do we capture an audience's attention?
  • Books, especially Australian ones
  • Free music which can be used for podcasting, video making and any other purpose
  • My new Zoom audio recorder and how it performs
  • What not to do if you are afflicted by blogging burnout

I also try something new: My podcast, for the first time, is not one long unending passage of speech!

Program Notes

Australian novels

Fifty Must Read Australian Novels

Picnic at Hanging Rock: the book by Joan Lindsay
Picnic at Hanging Rock: the movie trailer
Picnic at Hanging Rock: the DVD
Picnic at Hanging Rock: iTunes movie
Picnic at Hanging Rock: the movie soundtrack
What Really Happened at Hanging Rock?
The Secret of Hanging Rock: The Final Chapter
The Solution to Joan Lindsay's 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'?

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin (free Kindle book)

The Shiralee: the book by D'Arcy Niland
The Shiralee: the TV mini-series

Children's books:

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner


Free Music Archive
mighty lilbumble bee by Origami Repetika, (CC BY-NC 3.0)
Do You Know What's at the End of Our Road: the video
Do You Know What's at the End of Our Road: the blog post

Now onto this week's podcast:

Books, Music, Burnout and a Mystery!

The painting at the top of this post is called Lost. The artist is Australian, Frederick McCubbin.

The Angels of Abbey Creek
You can find more podcasts on my podcast page.

Photo: Everyone needs her own copy of my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek. (I have a boxful!)

Did you know there's an Advent story in my book?

My Facebook profile and pages are in a mess, but you can still find me on my Sue Elvis Writes page.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Pi and Tea, and Our Dog's Tea Bag Collection

Our puppy Nora has a tea bag collection. She keeps it under the conifer tree at the bottom of our garden. Every day she pushes her long doggy nose between the wooden slats of the compost bin, in search of new treasure to add to her pile.

One day Nora decided to sample more than tea bags. A few hours later she wished she’d hadn’t. I did too.

“We can’t have the dog gulping down everything we put into the compost bin,” I said. “She’s making herself sick.”

So my hero husband Andy drove to the hardware store where he bought some top quality aviary wire.

“I’ll hammer it all the way around the bin,” said Andy. “That will stop Nora stealing our compost. ” He grinned.

But his grin disappeared when a hole appeared. All it took was a few snaps of her wire-cutter teeth, and Nora was able to resume fishing for tea bags.

We've given up. Nora hasn't. Her tea bag collection continues to grow.

I have a collection too. Not tea bags but Pi. Would you like to see my collection?

I have a basic everyday Pi...

... and a beautiful Pi.

How about a real meat Pi? (This is our favourite Pi.)

I've collected the director's slice of Pi...

... and a mile of Pi (for very hungry people)...

I have the making of Pi...

 ... as well as the musical version.

Just like Nora's tea bag collection, my Pi collection isn't finished. I have my eye on more Pi. What shall I add next? 

I like Pi. My daughters Sophie and Gemma-Rose like Pi too. Do you?

All this talk of Pi is making my stomach rumble. I rather fancy a slice of pie. And a cup of tea. Pi(e) and tea. Doesn't that sound good? Our dog thinks so. She's grinning. 

Soon there'll be one more tea bag in Nora's collection.

The Angels of Abbey Creek

Did you know my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek, can be read while drinking tea? Tea and Angels is the perfect combination.

And did you know tea makes numerous appearances in my book? Mum and Dad drink lots of it. So does Father Brown. He 'runs on tea'. Mum makes sure he has an extra-large mug when he comes for morning tea.

Do you like tea? 

Friday, 28 November 2014

How Much Facebook Does One Woman Need?

Facebook Flower by mkhmarketing(CC BY 2.0)

My computer died on Thomas’ death day, confirming my suspicion that keyboards and wine don’t mix. A few days later, my husband Andy came home with a huge cardboard box. My eyes opened wide when I saw what was inside.


Andy grinned. “You need a good computer so you can do all your work.”

“My work? What work?” I asked.

“You know, all your books and blog posts and videos and podcasts…”

“I haven’t exactly written many books,” I said, feeling rather guilty. “Oh yes, I've got lots of drafts but I never seem to finish editing anything. And some of my books are still only at the idea stage... I haven’t made a video in a long time…”

“But you’re still making podcasts.”

“At the moment...” 

I seem to have a lot of ideas. I put one into action, work on it for a while and then get distracted by another. Not much gets finished. But I really want that to change. I know I should prune back, concentrate on less things, and eliminate distractions.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is my Facebook pages.

I’ve read so many articles on the Internet telling me that Facebook and other forms of social media are absolutely essential these days, if you want to connect with others. But how much Facebook does one woman need? I don't need a personal timeline plus lots of pages distracting me constantly. Do I?

I scroll through my pages and look at all the posts containing so many memories. I read the comments: all those interesting conversations. I think about how many kind people have liked my pages. I don't take that lightly. Many followers have become friends. And I sigh. I love my pages. It's hard to let them go. But that's what I'm going to do.

If you have supported my Sue Elvis Writes and my Stories of an Unschooling Family Facebook pages, I want to say a big thank you. I'll miss you... unless of course you stay in touch. Perhaps you will follow my personal timeline instead, where I’ll continue to post publicly about my blog and family and anything interesting I find to share. Or you might send me a friend request. (If I don’t know your name you might like to add a message.)

I think about Andy’s words, “You need a good computer so you can do all your work.” 

Work… My husband called what I do ‘work’. He values what I do. He supports all my crazy ideas. I smile. He is wonderful. And I am a fortunate woman.

I wrote this post on my snazzy new computer. Can you tell?

The Angels of Abbey Creek

Did you know my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek can be read even while cooking the dinner? 

And did you know there is not one single story about Facebook in my book?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

How to Talk and Save Lives, and Can I Mention the Weather?

I ponder a few questions in this week's podcast:

Is it okay to talk about the weather or should that topic be avoided if you want to have an interesting conversation?

Is it important for our children to have good conversational skills? How do they get such skills? 

We know bushfire fighters are heroes as they battle to save lives and property, but can school teachers also be heroes? 

Should we all know how to do CPR just in case? And what about our children? Should they learn too?

Do the youngest children in the family miss out? Should parents make the effort to give them the same experiences as their older siblings?

And should we brush off other people's thanks? (Hey, it was nothing!) Or is it necessary for us to be gracious and accept them?

I hope you'll listen to this week's podcast to find out my answers to all these questions and much more!

Program Notes

Blog posts about the weather

Man Bites Shark

Wondering Weather I Should Iron

Never Talk About the Weather

Blog posts about bushfires

At the End of a Bushfire Day

Day 4 of Our Out-of-Control Bushfire

What Would You Take if You Had to Evacuate?

Out of Disaster Comes Love

A blog post about my university days in Aberystwyth

XXXXX: Love Letters

The Art of Conversation Course by Ethel Cotton Monahan

I found a number of cheap copies of this course on ebay. It's also available from many secondhand bookshops.

Volunteer organisations

St John Ambulance for children

Juniors for children 8 - 12

Cadets for children 13 - 18

St John Ambulance for adults

Rural Fire Service

Newspaper article about Andy and his fellow school teacher

(They saved a woman's life!) Daily Telegraph

The Angels of Abbey Creek

The above photos were taken 10 years ago. They show that, even though we live in a warm part of Australia, we sometimes get snow!

You can find more podcasts on my podcast page.

And the photo to the left is of my hero husband Andy. When he's not doing CPR, he's reading my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek Did you know there is a bushfire story and a snow story in my book?