Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Friday, 29 February 2008

The Return of E****

You wouldn't read about it.....then again....of course you would.

For those of you 'in the know', guess whose Mum phoned today? Contrite is probably too strong a word but suffice to say E will be back on Monday.

"And that's all I have to say about that................."

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Theme Thursday: Memory


"London is London
Is anyone in doubt about it?
London is London
It's easy to find out about it......." (Petula Clark in Goodbye Mr Chips)

I love London. For me it evokes powerful memories.
History. Beauty. Culture. Adventure.
Stepping off the edge of family into the big, wide world as I departed for my backpacking tour of Europe in 1979.
Friendships. Shared experience.
My daughter's childhood.

This memorable trip was the Summer of 2002 when the Queen celebrated her Jubilee.

The Baby Angel stood on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral and played at Samson bringing down the pillars in the temple. We wandered the quiet streets on a glorious summer's Sunday after the fireworks and street parties of the night before and found a shop celebrating in its own way.

This is the stuff of which Memories are made..............

To see what everyone else is remembering, click over to the Land of KA.


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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

You Are Invited to a Masked Ball

There is absolutely no excuse for me blogging right now. % I have work to mark, courses to plan and sleep to catch up on having roused myself (ooer) at 4am in order to catch up with things I slept through the night before. Like work. [DS % al coda]

But this post has been hanging around in my head for several months now and I have wrestled with writing it. Last night as the Bestie and I talked about some of my pupils at school and I showed her the blog entry, she challenged me and it brought up the whole issue again. And it is this.

Anonymity.

Where to start?

Some of you, who have hung around these pages for a while now, will remember my Bestie and perhaps have visited her blog. I launched her upon you as she recounted the unfortunate tale (heh heh heh no pun intended) of the Rottweiler that bit her butt and provided photographic evidence of same. She 'reviewed' the school musical...perhaps harshly but it certainly made me laugh... and then there was the day that we visited the school fair together and she managed to find, much to her hysterical amusement, a salt dough crucifix at the craft stall. Did I mention the Bestie is an Atheist? (capital A)

The thing is, she used to have a blog. It was a fun blog. It was witty and edgy and oft opinionated (we're like that) and it had wild/funny pictures and recounted stories of her life, at home with family and friends and from time to time.....at work. Are you hearing where this is going?

Like me, she put her picture on the sidebar and like me she had a 'screen-name'. She never referred to anyone by their real names, and that included her place of work, but she did recount events that happened there and made comment on the political scene that surrounded it. I linked to her blog, perhaps in a less than discreet manner but most importantly, she, in her usual trusting way, gave the address to several friends and colleagues whom she believed had a healthy sense of disrespect and a good sense of humour.

She no longer has that job.

As happens in situations where you tell a 'trusted few', the address got out. Most of the office has been reading the blog and loving it for months but one slightly 'holier than thou type' took offence and reported the blog to the Board. Who over-reacted in the extreme.

The thing that really gets my goat about the whole business is that the Bestie LOVED her job. She was passionate about the cause and not at all flippant when going about the serious day to day business of managing a range of social minorities whom most employers would have declared bankruptcy and changed business addresses, rather than employ. The week before the 'beginning of the end' we had spent an entire day making ribbons for badge day.....calloused fingers and all! I don't believe, as CEO, that this was in her job description!!

But my Bestie is not a political animal. She always does her best and does the best for the organisation and she has no defences for when people are threatened by her or object to her style or challenge her personal life. The sharks were circling. Those with a personal interest in her job (they wanted it) or with a complaint against her rapid changes to the 'system' or with a belief that as a non member of their 'community' that she couldn't effectively manage their organisation, seized the opportunity to sink in their fangs.

Over what? An 'anonymous' blog which occasionally poked gentle fun at the ' community'? A blog which dealt mostly with family and friends, which did not come up on any Google search of keywords.....except Arizaphale........and which also carried the fire of her zeal and the anger she felt towards the Government and the lunatic fringe which threatened the funding of her organisation! It incenses me still to think about it.

When the letter came however, it was easy to see how, out of context, her words had been twisted and misinterpreted. My Bestie, one of the most long standing and loyal of (I wish I had another word for it) Fag Hags....was accused of being homophobic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *bitter laugh*

At the end of the day, although she parted company with the organisation, she was vindicated in that the National organisation kept her on the board of directors and asked her to consider the role of Fund Raising Manager; many people in 'the community' regard her highly and are appalled at her treatment; and the key players responsible for her demise have since resigned.

She also very quickly got another job with an equally deserving organisation.

But all this begs the question. What about work? What about anonymity? How anonymous should one be? I mean, I know for a fact that I 'bond' (is that the right word?) with a blogger better if I can picture them. So I put up my picture. I have nothing to be ashamed of and don't indulge in that 'say whatever comes into your head because I'm anonymous' style of communication that many turn specifically to blogs to fulfill. (er well except for the unfortunate incident over at 'ask and ye shall receive' ....no link given) I want to talk about my work because it occupies huge parts of my mind and heart (much to Himself's chagrin) but I don't want to offend anybody...even unintentionally.

Bugger. Best not blog then.

My intellect and world experience tells me that I should take down my photo on the sidebar if I want to talk about work. The other option is don't talk about work.

Anyone got a third option or some sage advice?????

Monday, 25 February 2008

Best Shot Monday: Comfort Food

It's Monday and this week I have taken nary a photograph so tonight when the BA presented me with this Rocky Road Sundae I took advantage of the light on the balcony and with Himself 'art directing' I took a Monday shot.

I feel fat just looking at it.

I am hoping this week will be more productive and less stressful than last week or I could be eating a lot more of these Rocky Road Sundaes. Being the Special Ed Co-ordinator is a lot to take on and involves quite a bit of emotional investment.

I have edited this post in light of the fact that anonymity on blogs cannot be guaranteed and the content may have been identifiable.

To see what goodies others have been shooting, visit Mother May I, home of Best Shot Monday.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Where Have I Been?


I have been a little quiet of late. Work and sleep seem to take up a lot of my time and although things are happening all the time, I have been too busy or tired to blog about them.

I have decided however that I need to 'introduce' you, as much as anonymity will allow me, to my classes this year. I do this because the other morning as I snuggled with my husband on a Sunday morning, child free lie-in, I found myself discussing one of my classes and some of my plans. Himself was amused that I woke up thinking about kids and maths and I assured him that all over the world teachers were doing similar things. Our classes and our kids occupy a huge portion of our minds and hearts and as such I will probably talk about them a fair bit this year so it seems reasonable to introduce them.

There are three 'support' maths classes this year with a specialist Spec Ed teacher (yours truly). This represents an exciting opportunity and a real acknowledgment of the needs of these pupils.

The classes are very different. Year 8 for example seem a delightful group of kids, a little intimidated by maths but willing to try and responding very well to the slow, structured, cumulative approach. Once last week I was concerned that one or two lads seemed to be finishing quickly and becoming a bit 'bored' so I created a 'fast table' where they could do mostly the same work as the rest of the class but at their own pace with an extension activity and with only occasional input from me. They were delighted. The rest of the class systematically worked through the examples on the board with me and seemed very happy with that....so good result all round there! These kids are thriving on the 'tables challenge' I have set them. It's a great system based on Precision Teaching and the kids enjoy seeing themselves build fluency and accuracy. There's one or two in this class who struggle a bit but they are generally a pretty homogeneous group and seem to be working well so far. We shall call them 'Dream Class'.

Year 9s are the group I had last year in Y8 and a number of things have happened here to improve the situation. We are in a different, smaller room with a lower ceiling so my voice does not soar heavenward and bounce back at me like it did in the cathedral ceiling of last year's room. Two kids have either left or transferred across to a different class and this has changed the whole dynamic so that we are much more settled and co-operative. There are still one or two difficult characters however; this class contains some of the 'Lipgloss Set' girls who blatantly sit in class applying (banned) lipgloss as you are working an example on the board. Any request to put it away or hand it over it met by "But it's clear!!". Yes, but it's full of glitter. Give me the lipgloss.

Then there's Year 10. Oh dear. Year 10. This group has 6 African students; a severe dyslexic; a boy with an intellectual disability who wants to be a wrestler; another boy is a 'potential hairdresser' with poor social skills, which his thoughtful classmates capitalise on regularly by calling him 'extremely happy' anytime he walks into the room. This winds him up and he responds by hurling racist abuse or referring to the money making proclivities of their mothers on street corners (are you getting all this...I'm trying to be polite here).

Throw into this mix a complete inability on the part of any of them to do maths.......and you will see what I'm up against.

Actually, to be fair, the dyslexic is reasonable in his grasp of maths concepts.....it's just that his writing is so bad that you can't read it and he lines his numbers up incorrectly and has never heard of a ruler. Even for graphs.

I have unfortunately allowed myself to be swayed by the Deputy Principal who formerly taught this level and started the year off with a Maths Project. The idea is that they design a house, then work out the cost of painting, tiling and carpeting it. It involves a field trip to the hardware store and apparently they all get As and feel good about themselves before commencing the real job of learning Maths for the rest of the year.

Perhaps you are starting to make connections between this and the picture at the top of the page.

I knew I was in for a hard time when my mentor's timeline for the project included one double lesson to produce a plan of a house. Granted, they have had a week off for camp, but yesterday I was still helping one of the boys finish his plan (we are in week 4). The one you see at the top was the first effort by one of the African girls.

Some cynical commentators have observed that perhaps the African girls don't have any concept of what a house is? Perhaps they are still thinking of huts and bare earth floors. I would like to inform these simplistic types that, although M and M were in the camps for years and probably suffered shockingly, they are now ipod wearing, Cosmo reading glamour girls who have lived in European housing for at least 5 years.

I will acknowledge however that there may be a cultural bias against the birdseye view. On discussion with another teacher we wondered whether they are a culture which ever uses maps. Many tribal cultures do not. Certainly in drama when they were asked to do a stage plan they had similar conceptual difficulties.

I could have given up then and there after lesson 1. And perhaps I should have! Except that I think they need the experience of carrying things through to completion. We tried the next lesson, using fraction blocks to represent different sized rooms and tracing around them with the proviso that each block must touch another one so that we at least had common walls.

I will try and post their finished plans. The relative sizes of rooms are incongruous and the arrangement far from perfect (eg you have to go through bed 1 to get to bed 2 but then there are plenty of Victorian terraces like that in the UK) but they have actually come up with something that looks like a floor plan. I would really love to get them to build it but I'm not sure I can justify that in maths terms. I mean at some point we really ought to use some numbers :-D

So what with that and managing, in my new role as Special ed coordinator, to oversee two long term, funds attracting pupils leaving the school this week, it has been a rough trot. Hence not much blogging. I'll probably post about the two pupils and another Flaming Sword quandry (do I let her go to the Mall alone yet??????) later today!

Have a good one!!!!!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Best Shot Monday: Kookaburra sits in the old gumtree...


Not a particularly good shot today but we heard this screeching and cawing outside and looked out the kitchen window to see not one but TWO kookaburras sitting on our pool fence! They seemed to be having a conversation without the usual cackling laughter one usually associates with this iconic bird.

I called for Himself and snuck outside with the PAS while he went for the DSLR with the biiiiig lens. I couldn't get too close so I had to shoot this with digital zoom and as such I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Here's another one which is not technically v good either but he just looks so funny sitting there on our sail.



Of course, Himself got the big lens onto them and shot some things like this. Which is just showing off really.














Even after being back for 5 years, I still get excited by koalas in the gums around our place, or the sight of a pair of kookaburras!


What got you excited this week? Click over to Mother May I for more Best Shot Mondays!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

The Book Meme

Brittany did this meme and it's sheer randomness appealed to me.

Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people



Here goes. Nearest book right?

"Convert the following: 15km to m, 240mm to cm, 32m to cm (you get the picture)
A giant squid was caught and stretched from tentacle to tentacle. It measured 9625mm."

That's three sentences! In case you are desperate to know, the last sentence on page 123 is
"What is its length in centimetres and metres?"

Riveting eh? It would be nice to read literature again.

Oh wait! There is another book behind the maths book. Let me try this one.

It's almost a relief when a woman appears and asks me to follow her down the hall. She's about thirty, with a lively face that stills to concentrate as if what you're saying is the most important thing she's ever heard. Her name's Laura and she says that it's my time, to talk about whatever I like, and that nothing I say will leave the room.

Now that's a bit better. It's from 'Peeling the Onion' by Wendy Orr. I haven't read it yet. I have maths to plan......

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Advice to Fathers


In response to this post, Chris wrote

"I do think that you're right that the kids crave the discipline and control more than they would like to admit. But I'm such a wimp about trying to apply it! That's going to have to change, I suppose."

Chris, you sound a lot like Himself. I have to ask...what are you men afraid of? Himself tells me straight. He is afraid his kids won't love him. I cannot make this point strongly enough.....if your foundations are good, if you spend time with your child, are interested in your child, talk to your child KNOW what they are doing, who they are playing with etc..then your child will NOT hate you for applying discipline! Ensure you have a good relationship and the rest follows. From time to time they will tell you they hate you. Because they can. Because they know it's safe to do so. Your feelings for them won't change.

The key thing about applying boundaries is that you do it with love, or at least 'impassionately'.
Be calm and firm. Be the rock they can dash themselves against and still be there to gather them up when the storm is over. Be consistent. Mean what you say. Do not hold a grudge.

But do hold onto your Flaming Sword.

image credit: www.kinn.org.uk/html/what_is_best_for_me_.html

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Sorry




Today we were proud to be Australian. Ashamed and proud. Moved and proud. Today many of us understood, and were sorry.

I sat in a seminar room with about 50 kids and a number of staff as we watched the Prime Ministers speech live on a big screen. We heard a formal acknowledgment of the dreadful wrong which had been committed 'for the best'. Regardless of the pupils around me, tears rolled down my cheeks.

There was such a sense of occasion, of witnessing history. No more excuses. As much as at any time in history today, Australia entered another age. As the Wars taught us that we were a Nation unto ourselves, that we had quality and identity apart from our 'Mother Country', to day taught us that we were big enough to admit our wrongs; to identify with our beginnings, no matter how unpalatable and acknowledge their part in who we are today.

For those of you who do not know of our history, I give you this link to the report entitled 'Bringing Them Home: A Report into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Children from their Families.'

This Policy is not ancient history. When I was at school there were aboriginal children in our class who were fostered by white families or living in sheltered accommodation with other 'orphaned' kids. We assumed they had been orphaned. It never occurred to us that there could be any other explanation. Apparently all aboriginal children had no parents.

With the long overdue ceremony today, the Govt has taken the first steps towards National healing. It is our job as Australians to embrace the errors of our past and learn from them. How this will look in terms of practical application has yet to be determined but let us pray that bridges are being built.

Whatever the criticisms of the ceremony, of the Leader of the Opposition's speech, of the opportunities for litigation and the resultant financial and legal deluge, today Australia did a good thing.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Flaming Sword in Action. Painful to Watch.


Well, I promised a Flaming Sword post but it has to be a fast one as I am procrastinating again.

Scene: morning in a campsite. A family is making its way through the site to the kiosk on the beach for a cooked breakfast 'treat'. It is cold. Everyone is wearing parkas/anoraks, beanies and the like. The youngest child, let's say a boy around ooooh 9 years old, is on a scooter wearing a T shirt.

Father suggests that youngest should go back and put on a jumper, at very least. Child demurs. He is 'not cold'. He has also been coughing in a chesty manner for the past few weeks. Father insists, explaining that boy may become unwell. Boy continues to refuse. Father, tired from a hard night putting up tents etc, loses it.

"Alright, but don't you ask me for ANY help, don't you ask me to BUY you anything, don't ask me to DO anything with you for the rest of the weekend." (Father has blown rule no1 of assertive parenting....never threaten anything you can't carry out.)

"Fine," comes the defiant and voluble reply. "I hate you anyway and I don't want any breakfast and I'm not going to eat anything the whole weekend and you can't make me and you're mean to me ......." (you get the picture. Very ugly. Child scoots off in opposite direction)

Family proceed on to the kiosk with father seething like a bear with a sore head and other family members tiptoeing on egg shells around him.

On return from the kiosk (not open for another 20 mins), wife of father spots boy scooting around at a distance, still wearing only a T shirt. Having initially not wanted to 'get involved' she makes a decision. The next time the boy comes near the camp site she calls him over. He comes reluctantly and she attempts a rational explanation for the warmer clothes. This falls not so much on deaf ears as on ragingly rampant ears. More shrieking and abuse follow. "I won't, I won't. You can't make me."

Wife takes boy by arm and informs him that he WILL be putting on the jumper because it is cold and because 'they'-the parents- are in charge and they know best. Some kicking and screaming follows as wife firmly puts jumper on squirming boy. Father now enters the fray. There is general abuse of child and child's personality. There are threats to send child home.

At this point it is difficult to tell who is riding on the crest of emotion more dangerously, father or son.

Wife explains that they will NOT be sending child home and there is not need for name calling and of course he will be allowed to have breakfast but the fact of the matter is simply that he WILL do as he's told and wear the jumper.

"You're NOT MY MOTHER."

Wife is not falling for this old chestnut and agrees that no, she is not his mother but she does love him and she does not want him to get sick. Now, as he tries to remove the offending jumper she holds him in the 'cuddle hold' from behind, pinning his arms. The issue now becomes one of 'let me go'.

"I will let you go when you are calm and I know you won't do anything silly and hurt yourself."
"This is the worst day of my life."
"Oh, no, I'm sure there's been worse...remember the time I chased you round the garage? And when I smacked your bottom cos you wouldn't put the pizza box in the bin? They were MUCH worse." (this attempt at a bit of humour to defuse the situation was a long shot)

Eventually, he calmed sufficiently to be released although he immediately stormed off and sat on the beach. Father was beside himself. He didn't understand the approach. Why did the boy always have to spoil it for everyone? He should be sent home. He is a little ****.

Wife, by now panting from the physical exertion of restraining the boy and from the emotional exertion of having made a decision to act and having to follow it through, tries to explain her 'approach' to the father.

He needs to know his boundaries. He needs to do as he's told on issues of health an safety without it turning into a case of rejection for being bad. Let me try this again...it's so hard to explain when you know intuitively.....he must do as he's told. On some issues there can be no negotiation. Threatening and berating him when he does not co-operate is rejection, emotional blackmail ie 'I only love you when you're good.' Emotional blackmail is hurtful and does not create the behaviour you wish to encourage. It also does not make him feel secure in the fact that his parents are in control.

As much as a child screams at you...'I'm in control of me!' they are not and really do not WANT to be (this becomes a much more difficult call as they get older). They need to know that you mean what you say and that you are in control.

Now, it could be argued that this was a lot of fuss about a jumper but the issues here are much greater. Yes, it was important that he wear a jumper but it was just as important that the family dynamic which had been created as a result of his refusal and his father's response was neutralised. It was important that a point was made and that it was made with love. The wife repeated over and over as she held the child that his parents loved him and that sometimes they just knew best. She negated father's unhelpful name calling by assuring the child that dad was angry but still loved him. Father fortunately picked up on this cue and stopped.

Now, I suspect the wife was worried at this point that she had gone out on a limb and that the situation could not be reined in. Father was livid, with her, as much as with the child. Child was sitting away at a distance refusing to speak to anyone. Neighbouring campsites were looking at the family with a mixture of shock and sympathy. Other siblings had gone for a long walk on the breakwater. "He spoils it for everyone," bellowed the father. "Well, life is not always fun and games you know. Sometimes parenting is damn hard work and we owe it to the kids to DO that hard work."

She glanced around now and noticed the child had gone. There must have been a momentary panic but she soon spotted him up the other end of the beach. Not too far away. Looking her way and starting to take off the jumper. As soon as he made eye contact with her he stopped and left it on. She sauntered up to the wall near to where he was now picking up items on the beach in the company of his elder siblings.

As the neighbours commiserated with her and asked if that sort of thing 'happens often', the child called out her name from the beach and held up a shell.

"Look what I found!", he grinned,"Can you put it in your pocket?"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The family proceeded to collectively comb the beach, smiling and calling to each other. Within 15 minutes the child was wrapping himself around her leg for a cuddle.They didn't have anymore trouble in the time that they were there.

I'm so glad MY family's not like that.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Camping

Port Vincent, on the Yorke Peninsula, is one of those spots which experiences large variations in tide height. When we arrived at 11.45pm on Friday night, the waves were lapping at the sea wall next to our campsite. The following morning, greater and greater expanses of mud flats were exposed as the receding water drained away leaving a wonderland of wildlife to be explored.

Most prolific were the crabs. Large, small, dead and alive they were everywhere. One stretch of beach sported the evidence of a recent 'crab fest' with orange bleached, cracked shells and legs strewn all over the sand dunes. Under every rock burrowed a startled crustacean, green, brown and even nearly transparent. They were of course, ripe for collectors.

My intrepid crab hunters (plus a friend they made on the beach), showed great initiative as they converted an old Maccas coffee cup from the back seat into a crab scoop. Although we had forgotten spades, we certainly had buckets and before long they were laden with tiny, and not so tiny crabs of every colour and persuasion. What to do with them now? "Let's build them an 'environment'," chirped Small Boy,"a habitat!!"
"What's wrong with the perfectly good habitat you just removed them from????" pointed out the Nazi mother from within the tent where she had retired to check her photo results in the relatively lower light. After a period of scientific observation, the crabs were returned to their rightful homes as we observed the rapid approach of the returning sailing fleet.

But let us flash back to Friday night as the Baby Angel and I departed the city after her successful netball match (12-6 their way). I made a quick mobile call to Himself who was already at the campsite to check that all was well and let him know we were on our way. A somewhat harried voice greeted me and I could sense from his tone and the sounds of buffeting wind in the background....that everything was not going strictly to plan.

The plan had included three 'blokes' driving to the campsite and arriving in plenty of time to use the last of the daylight hours to chivalrously erect three tents before leisurely sauntering to the pub for a meal. The flaws in the plan were numerous. Firstly, there was the late departure and hence late arrival at the site, coinciding approximately with sunset. Then there was the very high wind. Add to this two unfamiliar tents (mine) a 9 year old and a less than practical 19 year old and I think you get the picture of the chaos that ensued.

Himself was fit to tie when I rang him and vowed that next time we'd hire a cabin.

Nevertheless, the BA and I set off on our two+hour drive in good spirits, delighted to be getting out of town. We chatted as we drove and I'm not quite sure how the subject arose but the BA ended up apologising for accompanying me and not giving me 'kid free time'. I found myself genuinely reassuring her. "But I love travelling with you. You're good company! You've always been a good travelling companion!"

(The BA and I have been travelling together, often alone, since she was 3 weeks old. We frequently made the 3+ hour drive to see my sister in Leeds; there was the brilliant camping trip to the Dordogne in France; the trip to Australia when she was 4 and although Mum and Dad came with us we split up and the BA and I did quite a bit of travelling by ourselves including bustrips down to Jindabyne in the Snowys and up to Boolcoomatta near Broken Hill. Back in the UK we travelled together to holidays with friends and family in Wales and Cornwall and at all times we easily shared space, both in the car and when visiting attractions. Our greatest adventure together was the trip back to Australia to set up our new life here in 2003.)

She blushed and looked shyly across at me. "Really Mum? Thanks! That's lovely."

When we got into the campsite at 11.45pm, Himself was sitting up waiting for us and much relieved. He has still to get used to the fact that his wife is a) independent and capable and b) a good navigator! When we left today he was also amazed and delighted that, whilst he sailed, I could orchestrate 2 kids to help dismantle numerous tents, air mattresses, camp stretchers and folding tables so that our departure was virtually painless. :-) *pride*

As you can see from the photo, the weather on our arrival was less than ideal and during the first night the wind came through at a cracking pace which had our tents flexing wildly. The little dark one was the BA's, the big blue one housed No2 Son and the Small Boy and the sandy coloured one behind was for Himself and me . Behind that orangey wall was the beach so we were in a prime spot.

The funniest part for me was the matter of my boys being unfamiliar with the tents. When we'd bundled the BA off to bed, Himself regaled me with the horror story of their arrival and tent erection drama. "There are bits of at least two tents in that blue bag of yours," he exclaimed in frustration. This caused me some confusion until I realised that No 2 Son had only managed to put up half the blue tent!! Below is a shot of said tent in the back garden of our old house and I guess, if you hadn't seen a picture, you wouldn't intuitively know in a 15 knot gale, that it had a fly extension!! :-) Even funnier was my realisation the following morning that he had put the whole thing up without the ridge pole!! I guess tents with ridge poles went 'out' before he was born!

All this 'drama' aside (I was glad I missed it) we had a great weekend. The state heat on Sat was a bit disappointing with the boys finishing 4th but they took it well and pulled off a second today for the Club Trophy Race. They are still hanging out for a first. While they were 'out' the kids messed about on the mudflats and did the crab thing. Below you can see a view taken over the wall behind our campsite with Small Boy in the foreground bending down and the BA in the distance at right near the breakwater. It's hard to see in this format but you can also see the fleet going out to the starting mark behind them.

One of the things which 'makes' a weekend like this for me, is the fact that you are relatively 'divorced' from technology. OK that's nonsense as of course we had torches, a shower block and access to the yacht club for tea but still, relatively, there was no TV, no X box, no DVDS..........OMG!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, the one thing I forgot to pack was cards but as it turned out, it was cold and blowy and we didn't have a full sized gas light/heater so at 9.30pm we were trying to convince the Small Boy that he might as well go to bed!! There was the potential for this to be pathetic on our part, except that of course he DID go to bed (after all, I was there), but he was all for bargaining like mad. He wanted to stay up. He wasn't tired.

And this is where camping is great. It forces you to deal with some uncomfortable realities of life. It is hard to do stuff in the dark. If you do not have electricity you may have to entertain yourself. You may have to prepare your own food and it may be cold! You may have to get dressed to get up and go to the toilet in the middle of the night. You may have to go to bed early, because it is too cold to sit out and there is nothing else to do!!!!! :-) What a concept!!!!!!!

Even though the wind buffeted us furiously through Sat night, Sun dawned in a much more promising fashion. On the left you can see the Yacht Club with some of the fleet of 505s and NS14s on their way back in after the race (tide coming in). I was shooting almost into the sun and the light on the water was amazing. I don't think I quite got it but...whatever.....

I have a Flaming Sword story from our weekend for those who are interested in that sort of thing. This one is particularly for you Golightly over at Pierce Toddler Project. I am incredibly moved by the fact that what I talk about here may have some impact on the world of child rearing.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Flaming Sword story.

Friday, 8 February 2008

See Ya Suckers!!!!

We are OFF to the 'country' for the weekend...camping!!!!!! We'll be in Port Vincent on the Yorke Peninsula where the boys are sailing this weekend. As the BA has a netball match tonight, we will be going up after the game and getting there around 11pm. I am assured by Himself, who left at 4pm, that the tents will be set up and the campsite all ready for us to tumble into our sleeping bags!

I'm looking forward to getting away for the first times in AGES and hope to have some nice shots to share on Monday. Hope the weather holds. It's been cooler the last few days. Only 22C today.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Theme Thursday: Glow


I was so excited when I got this! AND its SOOC!!! I saw the last rays of the afternoon sun on my one little hibiscus flower and raced for the camera with Stacy's instructions in mind. I never did find the spot meter though and it took about 10 shots before I got this one. I just crouched and moved around the flower trying to catch the amazing natural light. Here's another one. To really appreciate them click on the image to see a large version.

For other glowing images, check out


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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Back to the Salt Mines

Before I begin: tonight's parting shot before bed.

BA: I don't like this moisturiser...it's kind of gluggy.
Me: It's gel based...I think it's for people my age....to kind of tighten your skin up.
BA: Mum, your days of tightening the skin up are OVER!

Cheeky minx.
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Life has been incredibly full-on in the last week or so. Some of you may be wondering how things are going now that we are back at school? If you weren't wondering you can skip this post cos I'm about to tell you :-D

To tell the truth I have been dreading the return to work. What with the recent frustrations at home, the downer of my sister leaving, the depressing drought which renders the garden (previously an inspiration and a joy) a baked claypan full of crisping shrubs and thriving weeds and a general dullness of eye and flabbiness of belly, I have not felt much enamoured of the thought of spending my days in constant combat with recalcitrant 14 and 15 year olds.

Added to this is the fact that only one of my classes is the same as last year so it is once more a case of making it up as I go along. This year I have Support Maths in Years 8, 9 and 1o as well as a Year 10 History and an odd single lesson in Year 10 Geography to help someone else out. I have also taken over the mantle of Special Education Co-ordinator which, to be honest, has not taxed me overly as yet due to the fact that the previous co-ordinator is still in the school!!

Nevertheless, I was really starting to work myself up over the return to work. I kept 'meaning' to do some preparation. I kept 'meaning' to sort my resources. I kept 'meaning' to read the curriculum. I kept procrastinating. Blogging is an exceptionally effective method of procrastination in case you haven't figured that one out for yourself. Every time I planned to 'get started' I would blog away until my chest was tight with guilt and thus I effectively wasted the last weeks of the holidays.

Relentlessly, the day of recommencement approached. Fortunately, as I had told myself, the very act of getting back into routine helped my stress levels enormously. That and the Blackmore's Executive B Stress Formula!! In the first week we had two staff meetings followed by a long weekend. Not much achieved then. In the second week the kids came back and we had two days of teaching followed by a swimming carnival. This week we are back into it in earnest.

A couple of things have happened in the first few weeks. Firstly my classes have been generally settled and non-aggressive, except of course for my very best 'girlfriend' in Y9 (now) who flounced in the door and announced "Can I be in Mr H's class?".......no, and a happy new year to you too Kylie (all names have been changed to protect the aggressors...sorry I mean the innocent). The whole school just seems generally more settled although I am knocking furiously on wood and carting large branches around with me just in case. I suspect the difference lies in the number of new teachers at the school. Last year we filled the stage. This year there were a mere 4! A stable school is a happy school.

The other thing was the swimming carnival.

Now I must preface this with the story of our school 'houses'. As in Harry Potter there are four houses in our school, which, for anonymity purposes we shall call Compass Point N, S, E and W. (those actually ARE the names of the houses believe it or not....it was meant to be temporary but 25 years later they persist!!). When I started at the school last year I elected to be in Compass Point E (CPE) as it was the green team and corresponded to the house I had been in at my previous school. Co-incidentally, CPE and my previous house shared a somewhat similar lack-lustre morale evidenced by a Tshirt at the previous school which read "C**** House: run like your granny, swim like a brick."

Now, CPE has come last in the swimming carnival for at least 4 years. Lack of swimming talent aside, the main problem has been lack of participation. If anyone swims they get a point for the team...regardless of their position. Despite this, last year CPE regularly fielded two empty lanes in the pool. At the end of last year house meetings were held on just about the last day as I recall and, being somewhat fatigued by the exertions of the last weeks of school, I think I nodded off during the meeting. When I awoke, I discovered I was Head of House. Apparently I had nodded at the appropriate moment.

All jokes aside, I sleepily volunteered for the job as no one else wanted it and then promptly wondered if I had dreamed it!!! It left my mind rapidly and did not re-enter my field of consciousness until the first day back this year when I suddenly had a hideous recollection and found myself gasping, 'What the H*** was I THINKING????????'

As House Head I was left with the job, on the first day back, of motivating the kids to get involved in the swimming carnival. We offered a bribe of an 'Ice Cream Sundae Lunch' to anyone who participated and watched as they stayed away in droves. Things did not auger well for the carnival.

On the day I said to my House Seniors, "Let's get as many kids in the pool as possible and see if we can NOT come last this year." This proved more difficult than we had anticipated. We bribed with chocolate frogs. We reminded them of the Ice Cream Sundaes. We begged and pleaded. In the first few races the gun went off to two empty lanes at our end. Then something happened. I'm not sure what it was but all my jumping up and down and cheering and hollering started to pay off.

Kids who had swum in U13s and emerged happily, last, but to a crowd of shrieking CPE House Seniors patting them on the back and saying 'You finished...that's a point for us!!!!!', suddenly volunteered to fill gaps in U14, 15 and sometimes even 16s!!! Shamed by this enthusiasm, our one good swimmer, who hadn't wanted to be associated with the losing team, entered a few races and WON!! This produced a landslide of entries. At one point we were the only house swimming in a freestyle heat!!!! We cheered those two kids the whole 50m down the pool and even though they had no hope in HELL of getting into the finals, we clapped them on the back and hugged them as if they were Olympic Gold Medalists. Someone rather snippily commented 'Two swimmers from one team in a heat....what's that about?' and I, I have to admit it, crowed joyously that it was about points!!

We didn't win the day, but we didn't come last either! We had achieved our goal and the House Seniors couldn't have been more excited. Tomorrow we have our Ice Cream Sundae lunch and I'm printing out certificates for people who went above and beyond the call of duty, like the year 8 boy who swum for us in the teacher's race!!!!!! (we came last...one point still!!)

So that has been the start of the school year. Pretty good really. We have been managing to get up at 6am and be out of the house by 7.05am so that the BA can catch her school bus. She is happy to be back at school with her mates and Himself is chugging along pretty well with lots of new work and reasonable cash flow for a change (whew).

The only blot on this horizon has been No2 Son who still does not have a job or any imminent prospects. His problem is that he is afraid of rejection and so will not apply. He also does nothing around the place and generally irritates all and sundry with his surly, arrogant, negative manner. I am praying hard that someone finds a job for him as he is unlikely to do it for himself :-(

I didn't even manage a BSM this week as I haven't taken much in the way of pictures. This weekend though we're off camping to Port Vincent where the boys will be sailing. Hopefully I will be able to relax and take a few shots.

Meanwhile folks, forgive me if I am tardy in reading and responding as I really need to keep on top of work to prevent my family from divorcing me as I become a crabby, stress ridden harriden ;-D (oops...too late methinks).

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Question

I have a question for you. How many blogfriends can one be relatively faithful to....say a visit every day....and not find that all available time in your life is being consumed by blogging? How do other people keep on top of their blog reading and still find time to post????

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Who Taught Him THIS???????

I completely blame his father for this. We have been hearing it all day. And where is father? Sailing of course!! Still, he will have to hear it AAAAAAAALLLL night and he will be sore and tired.
mwahahahahaha

video

I have tried to suggest he vary his repertoire so then we got this.

video


Unquestionably talented.

A Plethora of Memes

Maggie over at 'and the duck said...' has tagged me for the Fantastic Fours meme. Here goes.


Four jobs you've had in your life

1. checkout chick
2. doctor's receptionist
3. sprouker: step over to the kitchenware department where we have a fantastic special on...
4. voiceover artist. Come to think of it..I've never been paid for this.....unless you count what's
mine is yours etc etc etc

Four movies that you would watch over and over:

1. Love Actually

2. The Matrix

3. A Knight's Tale

4. Dirty Dancing


Four places you've lived:

1. Geelong, Victoria
2. Vaucluse, Sydney
3. Southampton, UK
4. Toronto, Canada

Four TV shows that you love to watch (or used to watch):

1. Heroes
2. Lost, although we're starting to think it might not be true
3. Ugly Betty
4. The Mighty Boosh (although we only have it on DVD)

Four places you've been on vacation:

1. France
2. Cyprus
3. Spain
4. Victor Harbour

Four websites you visit daily:

1. Mine
2. School's
3. I refuse to name any more on the grounds that I do not have enough numbers so
somebody may be offended and anyway it will reveal my internet addiction


Four of your favorite foods

  1. two minute noodles with egg, cheese, onion and cabbage
  2. bacon and egg sandwiches
  3. peanut butter
  4. anything I don't have to cook and I mean that as in 'open and eat' as well as 'someone else cooks it'.


Four places you would rather be right now:

  1. visiting any number of friends and family in the UK
  2. Thredbo, mid winter, top to bottom coverage on Crackenback
  3. having a beer and some bratwurst with headbang8 in Munich
  4. St Briac, Brittany, France
As for tags.....anyone who wants to play. Just leave a comment to tell us you've posted.

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Chris also tagged me, somewhat vengefully I thought :-D, for this meme.

The rules are you have to answer each question by using the first letter of your name. You can’t use your own name either.

He used up the initial of my own first name.......so I am going with A, for Arizaphale.

1. Famous Singer: Anne Murray (woah THAT was a dredge back in time.....)
2. Four Letter Word: arse
3. Street: Arundel Avenue
4. Color: aquamarine
5. Gifts/Present: anything under $50.00
6. Vehicle: ambulance
7. Things in Souvenir Shop: aboriginal art
8. Boy Name: Arnold
9. Girl Name: Araminta
10. Movie title: Atonement
11. Drink: another (as in....I'll have 'another')
12. Occupation: artist
13. Celebrity: Anyone with enough money, a boob job and a good publicist.
14. Magazine: Australian Women's Weekly. Now published monthly. Seriously.
15. U.S. City: Amarillo. (well it was in a song.....I presume it's a city)
16. Pro Sports: Angling
17. Fruit: apricot
18. Reason for Being Late to work: arrival delayed by sloth, chiefly my own as opposed to the
one recently escaped from the zoo
19. Something you throw away: answers to memes
20. Something you shout: .....and if I have to ask you ONE MORE TIME.........

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Headbang8 has tagged me quite explicitly vengefully for THIS meme

Herewith: The High School Metaphor Meme.

Every year, high-school English teachers submit the funniest metaphors and similies collected from student essays.

A recent list included:


  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

  • He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
The list seems to have done the rounds of blogs and humour sites. But I have never found its original source. I suspect that somebody just made these up and they became an urban legend.

Now it's time for YOU to get in on the act. Make up three of these, post them, and pass the challenge on to three more people. They add to the list, pass it on, and yada yada yada.
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Sheesh Headbang. That sounds like bl**dy hard work! Memes are supposed to be mindless, self-indulgent trivia.......on second thoughts......this probably counts. I'll give it some thought and get back to it.