Looking for the things in life that make us happy

Childhood Memories

Yaaay!!! I finished my book and sent it off to the Publisher (1 only edition). I’ve named it ‘Growing up’ – memories of my life from childhood through to marriage. It has been an interesting and enlightening journey – checking some details with my siblings and searching for as many photos as possible of which there aren’t all that many.

I’ve realised that my memories are often vastly different to other members of my family and given the difference in our ages, it really not surprising. It has been a journey which has brought my siblings and me closer together by sharing each others memories of certain events. As I am in the middle of a family of 6 children I am fortunate to have been able to extract details of my parents’ earlier lives from my eldest brother and older sister, as well as details from my younger brothers.

About 20 or more years ago, a close member of my family encouraged me to begin writing about my life and after a while I began to do this. It was in a chronological manner with much detail but unfortunately in those days I didn’t have any idea of external drives or even saving data onto floppy discs (that tells you how long ago that was). Inevitably, my computer crashed and all of that information could not be retrieved unless I was prepared to pay someone several thousand dollars to attempt retrieval of that document and there was no guarantee of success.

So; that idea was put into a box at the back of my mind along with the memory of the encouragement from the member of my family who sadly is no longer with us. I’m sure she would be pleased if she knew about my book…but perhaps she does.

The seeds of writing about my earlier life began to germinate in my mind and so I began to write my story but in a different way this time. I suppose you might say it’s in the concept of short stories. I don’t know who will want to read it but it’s there for my family and anyone else if and when they might wish to read about my early days.


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She lay in her bed; warm and comfortable, not awake, not asleep but in that in between dreamlike state where the last tantalising remnants of her dream were fading. She tried to will the dream to return but it was elusive and she knew that nothing would induce the dream to return. Pressure in her bladder slowly increased, making it necessary for her to visit the bathroom thereby disturbing her efforts to bring back the dream. Moving slowly, hoping that by doing so she might be able to keep herself from waking fully, thinking she might be able to recapture the essence of her dream. She slid into her bed, pulling the covers over her, trying to fit into the warm space she had left moments before. Closing her eyes she lay there trying to induce the dreamlike state to return. She knew it probably wouldn’t but still she lay there trying to re-capture the serene feeling the dream had left behind and wondering what the dream was really about. She couldn’t recall people or anything else being involved in the dream but it was gone, leaving behind a memory of something beautiful. She wondered if this dreamlike state was how it would be when death was close and all outside influences ceased to be a part of her life.

Gradually she began to take in the sounds of the new day – birds singing, the odd car passing by, the sound of its tyres on the tarmac; a dog barking in the distance.

Fully awake now she rose from her cocoon of warmth and comfort; the memory of the dream lingering in her mind and prepared to greet the new day – this wondrous gift she had been given once more.

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Fifteen and Threepence: The Runaway Goat

Many years ago in Portland in Western Victoria, there was a goat named 15/3d or fifteen and threepence. He was so named because he had escaped from the farm where he lived and was captured and taken to the Pound. His owner had to pay 15/3d to retrieve him from the Pound and that was how he got his name.

There was an area at the back of our property that was too rough to be mowed by a Victa mower and so we borrowed 15/3d so he could eat the grass. He was tethered by a thick rope around his neck which was attached to a stake in the ground. Each day he would be moved to a different spot in the yard and eventually he ate his way through the long grass and weeds. I was very scared of him because if I went near him he would lower his head and begin to charge at me. Thank goodness he was tethered to a stake.

One morning we discovered that he had escaped from our yard by chewing through the thick rope and was nowhere to be found. There were several sightings of the goat during the next couple of days but by the time Doug heard about it and went there, he had once again disappeared. A few days later, as I was waiting to be served in a shop on my way home from work, I overheard the shopkeeper telling some customers about a runaway goat. Of course I pricked up my ears and listened to her story.

The shopkeeper laughingly said “At lunch time today, all of a sudden, a goat came running down the middle of the main street past my shop. A rope was trailing behind him, so he must have escaped from somewhere.” This lady, who could hardly speak from laughing so much, went on “A Policeman was chasing him, running as fast as he could, red-faced and huffing and puffing as he tried to catch up to him.” She said the Policeman was finally able to grab hold of the rope and managed to make the goat slow down and stop. Another Policeman had quickly driven up with sirens and lights flashing alongside the goat and the out-of-breath Policeman. He screeched to a stop, jumped out of the Police wagon and after a big struggle both Policemen managed to get the goat into the back of the Police wagon. As it was lunch time people had lined both sides of the street watching this hilarious spectacle and wondering where this troublesome goat had come from.

After a while 15/3d had finally been apprehended and was now in was in Police custody. This runaway goat could cause no more trouble and was transported once again to the Pound.

The lady in the shop who was entertaining her other customers with her story, added that she had heard from another customer that a poor old lady who had gone out of her front door that very morning to bring in her bottle of milk for her breakfast, only to be confronted by this runaway goat which was on her front veranda chomping on her prize roses! She shrieked, nearly fainted and as quickly as she could, retreated inside to the safety of her house and promptly called the Police. By the time they arrived 15/3d had disappeared once again finally turning up in the middle of town.

Trying not to let on that I knew where this goat had come from I bought my fruit and veges and drove home as quickly as I could, bursting to tell Doug that 15/3d had been caught and was now in Police custody. We quickly drove to the Police Station only to find that the goat was no longer there but had been taken to the Pound. The Policeman laughingly told Doug that he was sure 15/3d had enjoyed his ride in the back of the Paddy Wagon.

When we reached the Pound, sure enough there was the runaway goat. The man at the Pound helped load 15/3d onto the back of Doug’s Ute. Doug sat in the back with 15/3d while I drove the Ute to the farm where the runaway goat was put in a paddock where he lived out the rest of his life, never allowing anyone to come near him ever again.

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“Thing” Number Two

I have written about “The Thing” in a different context in my other blog referring to my cancer as “The Thing” and some of the comments I received thought it sounded a bit like science fiction which I hadn’t thought of myself but they are right, it does lend itself to that idea.

But…there is another “Thing” in this house and I only thought of it this morning. Do you remember a TV programme called The Addams Family? It was way back, in black and white I think, probably to add to the intended spookiness but it has had many reruns and so some of you younger ones may remember the stories.

One of the “characters” in this show was a gloved hand that lived in a box and would emerge whenever there was mail which Thing then handed to Morticia but also did other things and it was quite funny.

A couple of years ago my husband bought a knitted insulated oven glove. He is a fan of Magnamail and this is where it came from.   As he has taken over “my” kitchen he uses this awful “Thing”. I have never used it as for some reason it has always seemed a bit spooky and I hate it when he leaves it out.

This morning, there it was, sitting on top of the counter looking as spooky as ever and I suddenly thought – it’s “Thing” from the Addams Family and will probably start creeping along the top of the kitchen counter; perhaps looking for a letter to deliver. I quickly put the “Thing” in a draw so I didn’t have to look at it anymore but I have to wonder, am I going bonkers. Is it normal at my age to be not only having these thoughts but to also write about it – what do you think?

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Sleepless in Bribie

Chemo day today: a cocktail of 3 chemo drugs, an infusion of 2 pre-med drugs to counteract side-effects from the bone strengthener infusion which came next. I have been having this 4-6 weekly for 10 years but recently one of the pre-med drugs has been causing a sleepless night. I asked my Oncologist for some sleeping tablets which he gave me. The directions said take 1-2 tablets. I took one and had 4 hours sleep; woke at midnight – rolled around for an hour – still no sleep, so I took the second pill, waited another hour plus with thoughts running through my increasingly over-active mind and thought stuff this, might as well get the laptop and see what my drugged mind comes up with……..

So here I am – it’s now 2.40am; in bed, laptop on my knee, bed socks as my feet are cold, beanie covering my sparse head of hair which also feels the cold. I have a cup of green tea and a bottle of water by my side – think I need a biscuit to go with this. I thought of taking a selfie but then thought better of it – I’m sure it wouldn’t be a pretty picture – but then I thought why not but just for my archives.

Mischa came in to see what was happening, happily shared my biscuit but as soon as I started taking a selfie she cleared off – scared of the flash. I still have half a stale Marie biscuit left and can’t see very well due to the flash.

Selfie – check – definitely not for general viewing!

Ok, now where are all those fantastic thoughts I had half an hour ago – where have they gone?

I know one thread was about motherly love, no doubt triggered by Scott’s bike accident and seeing him in hospital today. Ah! It’s starting to come back just as my eyes are gradually returning to normal focus.

In my head I began to think about a mother’s love that begins with birth and how you have been entrusted with this miracle you and your husband have made through your love. How besotted you are and you know with a pure certainty that this is the most beautiful, wonderful child any mother could ever have. The love continues to grow and when you become pregnant with number two – I clearly remember wondering how on earth will I have enough love left to give to this child but of course a mother’s love has no boundaries and that you have more than enough love to give to this child. So there you have your pigeon pair – a perfectly gorgeous daughter and an equally gorgeous son. Four years later an unexpected but eagerly awaited son made his appearance into our family and that love expanded again.

The older children were at school and pre-school by now and it was almost like having a first child again but with my experience of motherhood, number 3 allowed me to be far more relaxed with him but somehow there was a feeling that I needed to be more protective of him and had an underlying fear that something bad may happen to him and indeed I have in the past been accused of being an over-protective mother which I have tried to stifle.

Having said that, I fiercely love all my children and hope and pray that nothing bad happens to any of them. Of course they are all adults now and have their own families and lives. Once they fly the coop there is a loss of immediate closeness and it takes some time for a parent to adjust to their fledglings making their lives without you. Eventually this does happen but a mother’s love never wavers or diminishes- that special role has changed forever but you are always there to support them when they need it and in a capacity with which they are comfortable. You can’t rush in with all “guns blazing” and take over and this has been a hard lesson to learn at times.

Each of my children has had a devastating event happen in their lives: a divorce, the tragic death of a spouse, a long drawn out battle with custody – often ugly – and the pride and admiration we have for this child and the way in which he has conducted himself through these many, many years of adversity is gratifying. The support his wonderful wife has contributed no doubt helped to keep him as calm as possible.

It is gratifying to see that they have all taken on our morals and ethics and have all come through their adversities stronger and capable people who are good and wonderful people. We certainly have a lot to be proud of. I am not saying they are perfect – they all have flaws just as we do.

But…..once a mother, always a mother and as we grow older they know we will always be there to help and support them whenever we can.

After the terrible event of MH17 last week and the graphic pictures of the aftermath we see daily on the news and hear on radio – is a constant reminder to us how fleeting our time is and how life can be snuffed out in an instant. All those people on that plane who no doubt were looking forward to seeing their loved ones on arrival at their destination or preparing themselves for work related events – all of a sudden were no more.   The aftermath which is ongoing and almost too unbearable to watch is unfathomable how people can behave in a situation such as this.

Then we have our youngest who had a dirt bike accident on Saturday who will be fine but at least his injuries are manageable and he is alive.

Nothing is left to the imagination these days and to see photos of him laid out on the ground in the bush after he collided with a tree and was surrounded by Paramedics who stabilised him and then loaded onto the back of a ute so that he could be transported to a waiting ambulance which then took him to Nambour Hospital to an over-crowded public hospital who xrayed his chest and shoulder and said no broken bones – gave him a sling and Endone and sent him home – vomiting all the way.

With the knowledge that he had no broken bones but was still in excruciating pain and couldn’t take Endone which caused him to vomit – he thought it would gradually improve and tried to cope just with Panadol Osteo. By Monday he was still in extreme pain Rhonda took him to their well used Private Emergency Dept and within 10 minutes he was on a bed, had an intravenous drip for dehydration and given morphine through the drip. An Xray there revealed two broken ribs – no wonder the level of pain. Endone was given with an anti-nausea drug which has allowed the pain to be kept under control. An MRI revealed no further damage but he can’t move his shoulder and it seems his shoulder may have partially popped out but went back in by itself.

Result: 2 weeks off work and no bike riding for at least 6 weeks to allow the ribs and shoulder to heal.

He has had spills off his bike on numerous occasions over the years but this has no doubt been worst and also doubtless could have so much worse.

He has been dirt bike riding since he was 16, rode with a club for a number of years and it has been his passion and a regular event in his life and as he is about to turn 41 he is very experienced in his pursuit and has taken part in Endurance rides and weekends with his DBR (dirt bike riders) group.

No doubt he has been able to pursue his passion because he has a very understanding wife and they still have a very busy social life other than his bike riding. They have a road bike which Rhonda loves and they do and have done some great trips on this bike.

Getting back to a mother’s point of view – I would be happy if he gave his dirt bike riding away but he loves it and will no doubt continue until he’s too old to hold the throttle. Speaking of which he said he found his hand was in the throttle position doing a bit of a rev, while we were there, no doubt a result of the Endone but funny nonetheless. Humour, I believe, has a great part to play in times of stress, not with Scott at the moment as laughing is too painfull.

Getting that phone call from Rhonda on Saturday was a call I had been half expecting for many years and of course my heart was filled with dread and my stomach churned but thankfully it has turned out to be not too bad.

It hasn’t been a good year for Scott and Jamie – major surgery for Jamie and at the same time, food poisoning for Scott who was in a different hospital at the same after arriving back from America. Jamie badly dislocated her ankle and badly broke her lower leg just as her guests were arriving and missed her 18th birthday party and while still in her boot and on crutches, Scott had this accident. Is there some one-upmanship going on there? I think not but who knows??

I think he will be known forever as “Scott the Tree Hugger”.

It is now 4.21 am and 1,533 words later and sleep still seems a long way off but this is a rather long blog – may have to reduce it – see how it reads in the light of day. As long as my brain remains clear I’m happy. Time to stop now and listen to the birds as they begin to wake (1550!!!) Goodnight/Good morning – stopped counting words.

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Last week we awoke to the news of the horrific shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine with the loss of 298 innocent souls. The sadness and anger that lingers no doubt because we are continuously being reminded by the vision placed before us at every news break. Is this a good or bad thing? Only time will tell of the effect these graphic images have on people – small children in particular who are old enough to ask questions and also teenagers and young adults. I’m sure we will never forget seeing the planes being flown into the Twin Towers in New York with all the horror that went with that terrorist act. The vision was indelibly imprinted on our minds because of the constant barrage from the media.

We cannot and I believe should not shield our young people from the truth: that we do live in an unsafe world but having said that we don’t want the next generation to live with fear.

The leadership by our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have shown in speaking out so strongly against the suspected perpetrators, I think, is admirable but will it make Australia more of a target? Australia still is the “Lucky Country” as long as our borders are safe but for how long?

Last night I watched as a little Palestinian boy – a survivor of the boys who were killed by a rocket from Israel which landed on the beach and killed his brother, nephew and cousins was being interviewed about this dreadful event. He seemed calm but I’m sure his hatred of the people who carried out the firing of rockets will grow and grow.

Then there are people who are going off to fight in Syria and other countries in conflict – not always for the specific reason of defending “their people” but simply to be able to shoot and kill. They are mostly untrained, just with a desire to fire a gun and kill their opponents but often ending up being killed themselves.

Why is there so much conflict in the world? In this year of 2014, have we learned nothing? Thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives in war but to what gain? The reasons are many – religion, land, intolerance, greed, are a few but above all, I believe Power over others is the over-riding reason and with this comes a total disregard for human lives.

I find this all overwhelming and not a little bewildering but I am also angry that these power hungry men have little or no regard for the people who live in fear in these regions where they are being constantly bombarded. What can I do? Nothing of course but as a Christian and one who likes to think there is a hereafter, I hope that if these perpetrators are not brought to justice on earth that they will in the hereafter.

Man’s inhumanity to man is alive and well and no doubt will continue. I doubt the killing will ever stop – after all it all began with Adam and Eve and is nothing new.

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I would have been 18 years old when I decided that a motor scooter would be a much better way of getting to work riding my old bike to work, especially up Otway Street which had a rather long incline. I would still be out in the weather and Portland certainly know how to dish out wind and rain but at least it wasn’t as hard going as the bike.

You had to be 18 in Victoria in order obtain a Licence, so that’s how I remember my age. I asked my dad to lend me the 65 Pounds ($130) to buy the scooter but he said no as he thought it was too dangerous. However, I was determined and asked Doug then my fiancé to finance my purchase. The deal was that I repay Doug 5 Pounds ($10) a week which shouldn’t have taken long but of course something else always got in the way of the repayments. I was 20 when we married and I’m ashamed to say that I was about 5 Pounds short of the full payment and it’s still outstanding 50 years later!

My scooter was a Lambretta blue and white and how I loved it; it gave me more independence and apart from riding it to work I had fun at weekends with my friend Muriel who had a Puch (German I believe). Of course my scooter was more powerful than hers and on one occasion when we ventured out to Bridgewater Bay, she had to push her scooter up a couple of hills while mine sailed up with no hesitation. I would wait at the top of the hill until she arrived huffing and puffing. Needless to say it was a ‘once off’ adventure.

The scooter would run on the smell of an oily rag and so I very rarely had to buy petrol for it. Now and then though I would run out of petrol and the damn thing would just stop. Fortunately it had a reserve tank, so I would just turn the knob, start her up and go merrily on my way; forgetting that I needed to visit the petrol station. So, of course, after a day or so it would stop and there was no re-starting it. I would have to leave it on the side of the road and continue on my way, walking, either to work or home depending on the time of day it stopped. Luckily for me, Doug carried a can of petrol in his ute for the mower and would usually come across the Lambretta parked on the side of the road and come and fetch me together with his trusty can of petrol. It depended which side of the road it was on whether he would come to the surgery to pick me up or at home. No mobile phones in those days.

I very quickly learned to wear gloves as I was stung by a bee once on my hand and another time on my face; couldn’t do much about the face though as the helmets were open-faced back then. It was a bit hard at times with the strong winds which we often encountered in Portland and the driving rain was also difficult, especially as I wore glasses then. I tried to wear my hair in a French roll at the time and the helmet certainly wasn’t conducive to such a style. It was ok though when I sold the scooter and drove Doug’s Holden FX to work. He had a mowing job after work and at weekends and had bought an old blue Austin ute specifically for this second job.

When I went to Police Station to get my Driver’s Licence, the Policeman laughed when he realised that it was my scooter that was sometimes seen on the side of the road.

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The travellers arrived home from their fortnight in New Zealand last Friday evening, tired and hungry. We had made a large lasagne which was all ready and the children sat and ‘wolfed’ it down. When the rest of us sat down to eat our lasagne, I realized the pasta was a bit chewy – how embarrassing!! It looked so good – golden brown on top and moist with plenty of filling. I wondered how one of the easiest meals one could make for a crowd (7) could have turned out to be not as good as it should have been.

With some reflection about my cooking skills – which I must admit are a little rusty, as Doug does most if not all the cooking these days – I realized that I didn’t add to the instructions on the pasta box:

If being made by 2 “oldies” with not so good eyesight – more care should be taken ensuring the oven settings are correct!! – especially if using an oven that one is unfamiliar with. However, it wasn’t too bad – it was hot and tasty and was eaten with gusto as they were all hungry (there was plenty of lasagne sauce) and Leroy and Mischa enjoyed the pasta.

Our second week of house-sitting was great, especially once I found the remote for the air-conditioner and we were able to warm the house and ourselves. We were concerned about the menagerie but they survived the cold – even Simon the Guinea Pig which I never saw as he stayed in his little house but we knew he was okay because the food and water disappeared at a great rate. The fish – well they were fish and Henry the lizard was warm with the lights on in his tank during the day and he slept at night when the lights were switched off. Thankfully they all survived the cold weather. The daily wrangle between the young dog Leroy and the interloper, namely Mischa, continued several times a day, shattering the otherwise peace and quiet in the house.

The sales were fantastic which was good as I hadn’t taken enough warm clothes with me and as we don’t have access to the big stores at Bribie, (probably a good thing!) it was nice to browse. It’s always good to be back in our own home where Mischa sleeps contentedly most of the day on the couch beside me or on my lap and now and then Doug and I take over where Leroy and Mischa left off – just so it’s not too quiet.


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This week and next week are to be spent house-sitting for one of our sons while he and his wife and 3 children go to New Zealand for a couple of weeks.

The duties are not arduous – a dog, 2 Mexican walking fish (Axolotl’s) one Guinea Pig (Simon) and one Henry Lawson i lizard (Henry). Apart from a few squabbles between our 12 year old Chihuahua X, Mischa, who doesn’t want to play and Leroy the 18 month old resident Spoodle who does want to play, all is going well so far. I’m hopeful that all of the menagerie will survive till the end of next week – us too of course!

City life is obviously quite different to our more serene life-style on Bribie Island. Even though we had lived in Brisbane for 27 years, we lived in the suburbs – a quite different life-style to now being about 10 minutes from the City. We are in fairly a quiet street with just the occasional car passing by but there is airplane traffic which you get used to after a while but it is something we haven’t experienced before.

We arrived late in the afternoon last Saturday and enjoyed a lovely dinner with the family. Afterwards we received our instructions for the care of our charges and the would-be travellers had an early night. We waved them off at 4 am Sunday morning! The scene was mildly chaotic: Doug and I were bleary-eyed while keeping the dogs from rushing out the front door every time Marc took some more pieces of luggage out to the front gate ready to pack into the taxi. The children were not saying much but were obviously excited; Marc was anxiously pacing and looking out the front door for the taxi while Jacinta remained calm; someone had to be calm but it’s quite a project to organize 5 people for an overseas trip.

Later on Sunday I met with 5 of us ‘girls’ from our support group for lunch. We cooked our seafood on a hot stone in front of us. Yesterday we visited a very large shopping centre. I usually avoid these places but Doug had a few things to do while I made a visit to the shops to check out the end of financial year sales. Just after we had entered the shopping centre we passed by a wonderful looking Chocolate Café and being somewhat of a chocoholic I suggested we have a hot chocolate for morning tea. Goodness what a choice – but we decided on a hot Mocha each and shared a plate of fresh strawberries with a pure chocolate sauce for dipping. (Don’t think about calories I said to myself!!) What a way to begin my shopping expedition – couldn’t have been better.

Lots of things to do next week before we head back to our Island home.

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Another eventful week in the lives of the McKenzie family. Mostly good but as often happens; there is a mix of good and not so good. Doug and I drove to Beerwah, along Steve Irwin Way to watch Cooper (10) play in a Rugby League football carnival. We spent an hour or so watching these young boys playing their game with much energy and enjoyment. It was the first time Cooper had not been taken by either parent: Brett in the shop; Catherine taking Harrison to his game and then Kara to a birthday party.

I remember well the days when Doug and I also had to juggle Saturday sport between 3 children, especially when I was working in our Chicken and Seafood shop on a Saturday morning. We managed of course with the help of friends but at times it all seemed too hard a task. On this occasion we had been enlisted to just be there so that Cooper didn’t feel abandoned.

Sunday morning we had an early phone call from our son, Scott, telling us that Jamie, who turned 18 that day was in hospital with a fractured ankle. She had been celebrating with a party at her mother’s house the night before and unfortunately, before the party really got underway, she toppled over (on those ridiculously high heels) badly dislocating her ankle and fracturing both major bones (tibia and fibula) and another bone in her foot. So it was off to hospital in an ambulance in extreme pain and of course missing her party adding insult to injury. The dislocation was reduced and she spent a miserable couple of days awaiting surgery.

Scott and Rhonda finally convinced Jamie’s mother to have Jamie transferred to a Private Hospital where she is far more comfortable. Because of the congestion of weekend surgeries, Jamie’s surgery kept being pushed further down the list and when it was suggested that Jamie could go home and come back in a week was when Scott insisted on having her transferred to a private hospital. She is finally having surgery today: the delay had caused her ankle to swell and therefore she couldn’t be operated on straightaway. Jamie has spent many days in pain and discomfort unnecessarily due to the over-burdened Public Health system. Family dynamics also took a part in all of this. But I ask you, suggesting Jamie go home with a very unstable ankle to a high set house that has many stairs, to me, is beyond belief.

On a brighter note, Catherine was Supply Teaching at her children’s school on Monday and it happened to be Grade 1; Kara’s class. All went well – Kara is such an adorable child and is always a model student and didn’t take advantage of her mum being her teacher.

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