Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 30 March 2009


Checking through my spam filter this morning I found a ten day old email from the Principal of my alma mater.

Did my heart skip a beat? Oh yes.

The title of the email was
Re: Scholarship Application.

Now, we haven't made a big deal of it but the BA did not get her Old Scholar's Scholarship after her interview. We received a lovely letter saying how well she had done and how proud we should be but that it was a highly contested scholarship and she had been unsuccessful.

She was disappointed, of course, but remarkably philosophical about it. I threw away the prospectus and we adjusted our reality. She would stay where she was.

But now, OMGOMGOMG, here is this email, and it is ten days old and what on earth could they be contacting us about?????
I shot an immediate reply and apology off to the Headteacher; later that morning I rang.

When the Principal finally got back to me I was convinced that it was simply a routine call, feedback on her interview, are you still interested (er no...can't afford it) etc.

Are you seeing where this is going???

The Principal told me how much she had enjoyed the interview, what a delightful girl the BA was and how tough a decision the Old Scholar's Scholarship had been. She was however, able to offer a few scholarships herself, at not quite the same fee discount but nevertheless......this was a Principal's Scholarship for all round excellence!!

I am still welling up at the thought.

My little BA, never the top of the class, never the undisputed best Player, never the academic, never the star of the show....but in her own vibrant way applying herself to everything. My little BA, terrified of Maths, not driven by competition, not passionate about any one thing, no idea what she wants to do with her life BUT with her own charm, her own persona, her own potential, has won this thing for herself. In many ways, this makes me about 1000 times more proud.

I mean it was easy for me. I was always academic. I just sat a scholarship and my grades got me in. Sure I was excited and proud and in some ways I supposed winning my scholarship confirmed for me that my intellect was my most important feature, a misconception which plagued me for decades. But for my BA, this is all about her, about who she is, not about what she can score in a test.

Today and tonight has been the frantic logistic part of the decision making process. The fee reduction was to be 30% for the original scholarship and this one is 25%. It will make an enormous impact on our budget. Her fees will double and there is the new uniform, books, amenities fee, new laptop etc etc etc. Her father (beside himself with excitement) and I got out our calculators. Grandma and Grandad came down to talk about what they could offer.

This kid has a whole bunch of people who believe in her.

So we're going to go for it. How could we not? How could we not give her the opportunity to learn in a focused, academic environment where she can be her best. There are facilities, there are opportunities, there is tradition, there is community. There are also really, ugly straw hats but let's not go there. At least the winter kilts are a step up from our hideous sack-like maroon tunics :-D (you know what I'm talking about Prof J!!)

So it's a very excited Arizaphale talking to you here. I am pleased to report that all this has blotted out the disappointment of her recent Maths report >:-( and the niggly issue of her droopy fringe which does not meet uniform requirements at her present school let alone at the new one! She won't start till next year so we'll have a bit of time to get a mindset/hairstyle going :-)

Meanwhile, back to marking. Tonight I believe I have the pleasure of 'surds'. Just Google it.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Where Oh Where Can My BFF Be?

I caught up with The Bestie on Wednesday, for the first time in about three weeks. That kind of happens when your BFF meets Mr Right and starts a production company with him; and edits his pilot for a TV show; and 'techs' for his recent Fringe Show and accepts his proposal of marriage.

What? Did I forget to tell you the Bestie is getting married????? Why do you think she hasn't been blogging lately? Oh well, yes, there is all that theatre/film stuff too.

Nevertheless it was great to catch up and toss about wedding ideas. Beach? Park? Parachute? nothing will surprise me. They are lining up the BA to walk Q (the dog) down to the .....er.....altar? ......with the ring. Yup. Ring bearing dog. What do you expect? He's theatrical!!!!! (The man, not the dog, although, come to think of it....)

So they're talking November, romance and guest appearances by comedians, opera singers and swing bands. I spent some time doodling dress designs for the Bestie, altering them as she clarified ideas. She's thinking of a 'theme' rather than your traditional 'everybody matching' thing. She also feels that her other BF, The Diva, and I have such differing body types that we will be doing well if our dresses are simply the same colour!

Mind you, if the whole parachute thing materialises I am going to have to say no to the matron of honour role, no matter HOW pretty the dress is.

A Strategy

OK, I've had this great idea.

Currently, my weeks are effectively strangling the life out of my blogging time (and lots of other parts of my life too). By the time I get to Friday night or Saturday I have half a dozen stories up my sleeve, none of which I can do justice and which, if presented all at once, may overwhelm my dwindling readership. Ah-hah! Lightbulb. I'll draft all the stories as separate posts and then put them up one at a time through the week when I have no time to 'create'.

If only the rest of my life could be tackled in a similar vein.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

So This Is Where All My Ex Pupils End Up

One of our beloved and elected members......

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Port Vincent Revisited

We were on time.

This is unusual for the Baby Angel and I, through no fault of hers I might add; but we were on time. If I expected applause or thanks for this monumental effort however I was to be disappointed; Himself loaded our bags with the customary slam of the rear door and a wide legged, eyes downcast, aggressive stalk to the driver's seat. The day had, apparently, not been going well.

Arrival in small country town caravan parks early in the evening can be problematic when it comes to checking into budget cabins with a family and a boat in tow. Caravan park proprietors often exit their Offices in favour of the local pub early on Friday nights so it is imperative that one arrives before dusk to avoid the joy of a night spent sleeping in the car, with kids. Unfortunately, several of Himself's clients were about as concerned with this fact as they were about the news that Michelle Obama is planting a vegetable garden. Not only had he spent most of the day explaining why he would not be able to fast forward a couple of jobs to a Monday 9am finish but we had to make an emergency delivery of artwork to an address in the north east of Adelaide. Not exactly on our way out of town.

With this inauspicious start, the weekend was rolling. Himself's mood lasted as far as Port Wakefield where we stopped for an early meal in case everything had shut down by the time we got to our destination. Things took an upward swing when we reached the caravan park to find we had been upgraded from the 'budget cabin' to a normal 'cabin' (see left: ours was the left half of this structure). I hate to think what the budget version may have entailed. Not a lot, obviously.

As the sun set and we proceeded to unload the enormous pile of bags and bedding required for 5 people to spend 2 nights away from home,
the neighbours arrived. The deep throated growl of the bikes preceded them.

I was standing outside the cabin as they pulled up and I must have looked worried because as they dismounted one of them lifted his helmet visor and declared,

"Don't worry, we don't party."

"Well, you're out of luck then,"
I quipped back," 'Cos we do!!!"

Despite their Harley Davidson
T- shirts and other stereotypical garb, they turned out to be absolutely delightful people and perfect neighbours. The Small Boy was entranced by the bikes and by the whole persona of the 'bikers'. They were very indulgent with him and took pains to point out the features of the bikes etc.

All that chrome and black, phew! There was a lot of love in those bikes.

The number plate fascinated me. 'Preyd4'. At first glance, and before I had spoken to our neighbours, I found myself uneasily wondering what, or to whom, 'prey' referred! The usual 'bikie' stereotypes played through my mind. Who was the 'prey'? Which poor unfortunate had been victim number D4?

As usual, the innocence of kids meant that Small Boy asked what it meant. (Well, I certainly wasn't going to!)

Our genial neighbour explained that he had 'prayed for' his bike because noone had ever left one under his Christmas Tree. Now, do you buy this? Is he just a bad speller or was there a more sinister meaning to the choice of spelling and he simply had a practised answer for young boys?

In retrospect, I think he was just a bad speller.

One of the things which convinced the Small Boy that our neighbour was VERY cool was this. He held this pose without shaking for a good minute or so! Small Boy spent sometime after the lads departed practising the skill. For some reason I didn't get a shot.

I did get THIS shot of him though.

And this one of my Teen Angel as we sat having breakfast on the deck of the Kiosk the next morning.

She was so excited to be there.

Actually I was cooking with gas on the photo front that morning.
I even managed to get a decent one of No2 Son in a rare moment when he wasn't pontificating and telling the rest of us how little we know about anything. I am reminded of the bumper sticker which says

"Teenagers! Leave home now while you still know everything!"

Actually, looking at this, I think he is pontificating after all.

The sailing was cancelled on the first day due to extreme winds. The kids and I spent a long time playing cards, having bought several sets at the local newsagent because we forgot ours.
It was a pleasant, relaxed day, not in the least because I could no longer see the mess around me in my home which desperately needs cleaning up!

The boys, who were initially disappointed not to sail, felt better when a slightly heavier class (the 505s) braved the elements and limped back in with major damage. Of the fleet of 13 boats, only 7 finished. There were broken rigs, damaged sails and even a hole ripped in the side of a boat where the mast stays had been torn out by the force of the wind. (30 knots)

That night we ate at the club and partied on as much as NS14 types do, let's face it, they're not Sharpie sailors. Each class has its own persona you know.

The next day the boys got their sail and were happy with their usual third place. At the end of the day, if you want to win, you had better have the best sails money can buy and be at least as light as if not lighter than your opposition; two things which will not be happening for Himself anytime soon.

We finished the weekend with a pleasant romp on the beach as the boys packed up the boat, marred only by the accidental denting of Himself's new car by the boat trailer popping off its ball.
Unaware of the drama, we approached him with breakfast (toasted egg and bacon sandwiches..yum) to be regaled by 'thousands of dollars worth of damage' , 'shocking dents' and the reason why this was all someone else's fault. Once more we tiptoed around Himself roaring like a bear with a toothache, eyes downcast, legs astride, face like thunder. With trepidation we approached the devastating damage for an inspection.

Small Boy: Where is it?
Me: Er.. I think ..er.... oh look, here's a scratch
BA: He's kidding isn't he?
Small Boy: You can't even see it!
Me: No, I really think there's a dent here, no?...oh, here.
Small Boy: (sighing) He does go on doesn't he?
Me: Any of you game to tell him that?
BA and Small Boy: NO!
Me: I thought not. Get in the car.

All in all, a nice weekend away. Another day and it would have been perfect.

This last one's my favourite shot and a week late offering for Best Shot Monday.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

In Which Jill Tackles The Big Issues

Oh, I forgot to mention...
Jill at Twipply Skwood finally got around to answering the final few questions I posed her from 'Interview 2009'. I think the answers were worth waiting for.
Lice are always a good topic of conversation.


....A Freeman, 'lfife' is a legitimate spelling of the word 'life' when used in the context of an over crowded and repetitive existence.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Get A Lfife

I knew I was 'over' work and overworked this morning when I looked at the bedroom and said

"This classroom needs a good clean."

Sunday, 15 March 2009


It's time this site had a facelift. I am sick of all this brown.

Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, have photos and stories from the weekend to share.
Once I have finished marking all this algebra.


Friday, 13 March 2009

Will I Regret This?

Tonight we're off for a 'restful' weekend of sailing and family together time over on Yorke Peninsula.

Need I say more?

You want more? How about this? We are staying in the last available budget cabin in Port Vincent.
Bring your own bedding.....

This is what happened last year.

Himself is stressing that we will be late and we haven't even left yet....

Wish me luck.

Theme Thursday: Restful

Belair National Park.

For more Restful images, check out Theme Thursday over at Stacy's.

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Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rays of Sunshine In My Chaotic World: Pt 2

Yesterday was my school's Sports Day. I may have mentioned that one of my roles this year is as House Co-ordinator. Our House has consistently run last in just about any competition for the last 5 years or so but when I took over as Co-ordinator last year, I was determined to instil a little pride and House Spirit into the mix (and I'm not talking about rum!). Last year we managed to come third out of four in the Swimming Carnival, a great result for us! The Sports' Carnival was another story however as we collapsed under the weight of the extreme heat of the day.

Well this year I was determined that it be a totally different experience. The weather has been better recently and my new House officials are reeeeeeally keen which means that they're prepared to walk around the crowds coaxing other younger house members to enter events. Here's a bunch of them as exhibit a.

So guess what?

WE CAME SECOND!!!!!!!!! BY 60 POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For a while there only 20 points separated the first two teams but in the end they had just too many top athletes for our 'participation' strategy to be completely effective. Still, for a team that has come last in everything for the last 6 years, this was as good as a victory! It was particularly gratifying to see younger students really getting into the spirit and supporting their House. The Boss has assured me he's been stacking the enrolments and sending a few good athletes our way. Perhaps we need a 'Sorting Hat'??

So today Mrs A has been swanning around the school in her green cape handing out congratulatory prizes and certificates to our best participators.


Rays of Sunshine in My Chaotic World: Pt1

Guess what? After returning home from our race outing on Monday, we told Himself the story of KG and the photo. Coincidentally, Himself had just had a bit of a brush with the great man too.

KG was recently forcibly retired from his long running radio show on one of the more prominent Adelaide stations, amid much hue and cry. He has always been a very opinionated journalist and has had his share of critics, but his contacts and knowledge of sport are vast and his interview style hard hitting and very entertaining. You may not always agree with him but you can always respect his posisiotn. Well, anyway; it turns out that after the station decided on a makeover for their sports show and sent KG packing as 'worn out member of the old guard', he has been broadcasting his own independent sports show..........on the internet!!! Himself had been watching on Monday (like many people he misses KG) and had been frankly disappointed by the quality of the internet technology being used to create the site.

Never one to mince words, he decided to use the 'contact us' form and let the team have some feedback. Of course, at the same time he mentioned that his business centred on web design. Lo and behold, he received a reply from KG's producer! The upshot is that they had a meeting with the production team yesterday and it looks like he might be assisting on the technical production of KG's website!!!!!! Very cool :-) The links tonight show that some of his advice has already been taken!

"Be sure to tell him your step daughter was the one with the crazy mother and the photo at the Races on Monday," the BA insisted as he left for a meeting with the man himself today!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Best Shot Monday: The Adelaide Cup Edition

Last week Brittany asked me if I would answer some questions for her class on Culture as I was the only person she knew who lived in an alternate culture to the US. Well my answers are probably a bit disappointing but they did get me to thinking.

For example, one question concerned our holidays and festivals. Which do we celebrate? Well, aside from the usual Western Christian, commercially driven spend-fests and guts-ups, Australia specialises in celebrating Horse Races. Yes, it's true. The Nation stops on the first Tuesday in November when they run the Melbourne Cup and in South Australia we keep the dream alive with our Adelaide Cup long weekend, now held in March. As I was answering Brittany's questions and pondering the ethos of a nation which so highly reveres its gambling that everyone gets a day off work to go and indulge, I recalled a conversation I'd had with the Baby Angel just last week.

BA: Have you ever been to the races Mum?
Me: Yes indeed, I looove the races, although I haven't been since before you were born. It's
great fun. A great 'day out'.
BA: *sigh* I'd like to go to the races so I could wear a feather.
Me: (what the.....?) A feather?
BA: Yea, in my hair. You know, like the ladies do.

And so I decided, we'd go to The Cup.

The Baby Angel's friend Miss Priss was staying over and the two of them were beside themselves with excitement. They were so beside themselves that it took them two hours to get ready and it was 2.30pm before we set off for the Morphettville Race track.

Three Excellent things which happened to us at The Races.

1. Because we were so late we got a park close to the gates (someone had already left!) and the ticket people had left so the park was free!

2. As I was trying to figure out the location of the nearest ATM because the ticket office wouldn't take credit, a man came out and gave me his ticket!

3. Children under 16 were free!

We were in. "Now," I explained to my eager pupils, "we need to get a Race Guide. This is the bible which gives you all the form for the day and on which we need to base our decisions." In the last minute decision to attend, I hadn't even checked the times of the races. For all I knew, the Cup could have already run, but from the look of the crowds and the general atmosphere of excitement I thought we were just in time (no comments from you AFM!).

Do you think there was a Race Guide to be had at 3.15pm at Morphettville on Adelaide Cup Day?

We were to be reduced to borrowing books off other punters and finding spare form guides lying around under bar tables. Will this encourage me to be on time in future? Don't be ridiculous.

Undaunted by lack of information, I explained the tricky principles of picking horses to my two young protegees:
previous 'form', form at this track, over this distance, in this weather, carrying more or less weight, barrier draw, jockey, trainer. The endless permutations which affect the outcome of a race were covered in today's 'Gambling(Horses) 101' class.

"But Mum, we don't know any of these things because we haven't got a Race Guide,' protested The BA, not unreasonably.
"Never mind," I said,"we'll go to plan B; see what other people are betting on."

We headed for the Betting Ring.

I love the Ring. I love 'shopping' for the best odds; I love seeing the numbers flicker over as big bets go on; I love forcing my way to the front, to the man with the leather bag and barking phrases like, "A dollar each way on number 4, race 8 at Adelaide!"

The girls were slightly less enamoured to begin with. It was crowded and noisy, they were overwhelmed by the action: people on phones, people studying form and the tote boards, people carrying drinks and chips and spilling them down your back. Good times.

I settled on a bet for our first race. Diplomatic Force was at seven to one, somewhere in the middle of the betting field. I had no idea which barrier it had drawn, what length the race was or whether it had run at the track before but I liked the odds and I needed to demonstrate the method for placing a bet so I had a dollar each way and we made our way out to the track to watch the race.

With the obligatory glass of champagne.

It is at this point in the proceedings that I wish to have a little whinge.

The subject of my whinge is the SA Jockey Club who run the event. In their wisdom they had decided, for this prestigious and once a year event when people who do not usually come to the races make a big effort to get all dolled up and come out for the day, to increase the members area, effectively preventing Joe Public from getting anywhere near the track. We discovered this as we made our way out towards the fence where, usually, the punters would press together, straining for a glimpse of the flying hooves and dust laden air. Bastards. How do they expect to encourage people to attend the races if they prevent them from getting amogst the excitement at race time? Short sighted if you ask me.

Still, we weren't to be discouraged. I asked the marshall where we could go to see the race and he gesticulated vaguely towards an area just across the way. It all looked a bit well set up to me but I followed his directions and we found ourselves on a nice piece of grass with tables and chairs, right next to the finish line. Cool. They could keep the grandstand. We pulled up some chairs and made ourselves at home. Before too long, the horses for the next race were brought out onto the track. They came right past us! Brilliant.That's my horse!
We took pictures of each other. I call this one 'Blurry is Best'. A nice man with a media pass around his neck came up to us and offered to take a shot of us altogether (it's on the BA's camera). The grass was starting to fill up.

We heard a fellow spectator call over to a well dressed man near us "Hey KG! Got any tips?" Our heads swivelled as one. 'KG' Cunningham the well known and often controversial Adelaide radio personality stood metres away from us.

I thought about it. I thought about the endless weekends I had been forced to listen to his dulcet tones blaring from our kitchen radio, and the radio in the study and the radio in the shed! I thought about how devastated Himself was when KG was forcibly retired recently and I bit the bullet.

"KG? I'm sorry to disturb you this afternoon, and please say no if you want to, but could I get your picture with my daughter?"

The 'elder statesman of our airwaves' face lit up. "Of course." he beamed. "I'd be delighted."

We chatted to all and sundry around us and were bowled over with excitement as No 4, Diplomatic Force came home strongly in the 8th! A win! My first bet in about 15 years and I had a win!

Such excitement.

After consulting with our new acquaintances (and their Race Guide), I took the girls back to the Betting Ring with $4.00 each in their hot little hands. Now, how to spend it? The Adelaide Cup is a 2 mile race (3600m) and most of the horses had only run 2600m maximum. It is anyone's race.

The BA went for 'Sweet Sister', Miss Priss took 'Glistening' and 'Ladies In Luck' even though I admonished her for 'betting against herself'. I went for a middle of the road odds 'Miss Pavlova' and we dashed back to our 'spot' to watch the featured race.

They wouldn't let us in.

In case you hadn't put two and two together, we had somehow wandered past the official and got ourselves into the Press and Media area. No wonder we had such a great view!

There was no going back I'm afraid. We were 'out in the cold'. Never mind. I took the opportunity to take a few race day images.

We had no luck on The Cup but we had a great day. We had a second place on the last race before we decided to call it a day; and what says 'Cup Day' more eloquently than a girl in high heels with really sore feet?

My subject initially rejected my approach to capture her feet. After some fast talking she agreed but I was trying to be quick so the shadows are really hard. I wish I'd had time to do more with this shot.

"Am I going to be in the paper?" she shrieked as I took the shot.
No, sorry mate, just on a little inconsequential blog.

We steeled ourselves for the exodus as the last race finished and the crowds began to move to the exits. There we saw this very good idea. Not sure whether the girls were there in the interests of public safety, or to chat up a copper.

Two More Excellent Things Which Happened to Us at the Races.

1. We walked to the car, got in, did a bit of manoeuvring to get out of our 'parked in' position and ......drove right out. NO waiting!!

2. I won $9.80

We also came across a stretch Hummer on our way out and I couldn't help but notice the 'Hall of Mirrors' effect.

We left the event, happy punters. The girls patted a big police grey on the way out.
("I'll have $30 on that one," slurred the witty drunk as he staggered past.)
We calculated our losses ($6.00 for a plastic glass of champagne) and revelled in our brush with celebrity. We watched the fashions as they left and noted the state of the girls' feet!

Oh. And just to ensure my children are completely au fait with gambling, Himself taught them how to play poker last night!!

My Best Shot is my daughter with KG.

Check Tracy's site for more stunning Best Shot Monday pictures.

Interview 2009: I Ask The Questions

As part of AFM's Interview 2009 I was given the job of asking Jill at 'Twipply Skwood' some searching and insightful questions.

Well, I was pretty slow on the uptake and sent her an initial 6, feeling a bit pathetic and inadequate after Nichole supplied me with about 18!! But HAH! Not only did she only answer the first two in her post....but she has failed to give us the promised Part II of 6, count them, ONLY SIX questions!

I feel officially better.

On the other hand, her answers are quality as is the rest of the blog :-)
Check out her post on Beer in Sunday School!

Come on Jill! I want to hear the other four answers! Actually, I've forgotten what the questions were so I'm doubly interested.

Give What You Grow

A while back now, Susie from SusieJ asked me to spread the word on this. As usual in my ridiculously busy life I have only just got around to it.

As a strictly prune and weed gardener (and not even that nowadays) I feel incredibly guilty when I think of all those brave souls out there growing their veggie gardens and putting food on their own plates. In the face of our drought it is hard enough to keep a bougainvillea alive let alone a carrot. Still, if her eloquent words inspire any of you I will feel that I have contributed ever so slightly to the delay in global warming.

In my defence I do try to 'buy local' and use waste water on the pot plants. And by waste water I mean the 2 inches left in the bottom of my drink bottle. *sigh* I know, I'm pathetic.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Facebook Farce

You know, I have secretly been thinking this for awhile..........

25 Things I Hate About Facebook

Not sure about the 'age limit' thing though! *sheesh*

Theme Thursday:Laughter

Circa 2001


For more laughter check out Theme Thursday over at 'The Land of KA'.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Random Photo Meme

This is a meme which has definitely evolved in the passing around. I saw it awhile ago and it was 'post the seventh photo in your seventh folder' but the latest one I saw was '11th photo in eleventh folder'. So here it is. It's a pretty crap photo technically. I was still using the little Sony PAS which served me for so long and I had no idea about things like 'flare', but isn't the Small Boy little! He looks like a baby. In fact I think he still has his baby teeth here.

This was taken in 2006 at the Annual Fringe Festival here in Adelaide (an event which just opened last Friday night co-incidentally). It had taken me an enormous amount of effort to get Small Boy onto the carousel. He spent an inordinate amount of his young life scared of things. I blame the M15+ videos he was allowed to watch >:-(.... (older siblings). Anyway, as you can see, once it was in motion he thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'll have to get a shot of him soon for comparison.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Some Catch-Up for Anyone Interested Out There (Hello Mum)

I have been very short on creativity and post ideas of late. It isn't that there's nothing going on; Lord, I have been on the run from one end of the day to the other. Some of it is pretty mundane though and some of it is life changing and also difficult to write about. (The 'M' word...money)

School is consuming my thoughts at the moment, when the 'M' word isn't. Yet again there has been a big change in circumstances so I am once more doing completely new things and having to re-invent the wheel every day.

Home is a frustration, a challenge, a joy and a millstone all at the same time. No 2, and all his attendant issues, has been large in our sights; Small Boy continues to both frustrate and surprise me all at once; and of course the daily challenge of trying to mother a delightful kid who is usually so self sufficient that she can be easily neglected in the scheme of things, weighs heavily on me. Husband. Oh yes, he's in there too. Also easily neglected.

Recently he has said to me "Oh, you remind me of my wife."

So what's changed? This year despite a general trend towards independent schools the numbers at our place have dropped. This may be due in part to the Board's somewhat foolish (in my opinion) policy on 100% Christian enrollments. Conversely it may be due to our new (third year now) Principal who is not quite as hard line fundamental as his predecessor. For me, that is a good thing but I guess there are a whole raft of hard line fundamental families out there who are disappointed by the more mainstream flavour of the place nowadays. For example, there is more focus on correct uniform than on moshing to Christian rock music down at the front of the assembly on Monday mornings.; previously (I have been told) if 'The Spirit' moved in Assembly, the Head would allow the thing to go on until recess (apparently saving souls was more important than Chem tests). Finally, the new Head is much less warm, fuzzy and forgiving about anti-social behaviour than the last guy and as a result 11 people were 'asked to leave' last year (yaaaayyy)! It must be pointed out that these departures were mostly after a lengthy process of
consquences and working with parents to turn kids around. In a few cases expulsion came about 3 terms after it was due in the opinion of many staff!

Whatever the cause, we were faced with some serious financial decisions at the end of last year. Previously the school has offered 4 classes in English, Maths and Science across the Middle School (years 8,9,10). This has been used for streaming purposes and has kept class sizes down to a delightful 20 (or less in the case of my 'Applied' classes). Not so this year. As staff moved on or went on Maternity Leave, they have not been replaced and we have been reduced to three classes in these core subject areas. As a result I now teach classes of 26 rather than the 12 I had last year.

Now in some repects, this has been very positive. Last year I struggled with the negative perceptions of the class as they knew they were 'the dummies' and behaved accordingly. All my attempts to reengage them with maths and to address some of their more fundamental weaknesses were in vain in the face of the massive wall produced by poor self-esteem. This year, it's different! The classes are much more 'mixed ability' and I have made it clear that I will teach the curriculum and it is up to the kids as to how much they get out of it. If they are prepared to put in the work, do the homework and develop some study skills, they will improve and they can go on to do Maths Studies if they so desire. This has had a very positive effect on behaviour.

On the other hand, the range of ability in the classes means I am sometimes producing up to 3 different class worksheets and homework sheets per lesson. Tests are differentiated as well and as the top group forge ahead in the text book, we are running out of examples for them to practise upon while I teach the lower group! All this makes for a busy teacher. Especially as I am, to some degree, re-learning the curriculum myself as I go along! We didn't do too much algebra last year. :-)

Also new on the scene this year is the fact that I have a Care Group. This is the class you go to for roll call and notices first thing in the morning and where we monitor things like lateness, uniform and diary use. The care groups contain students from each year level, the unifying factor being our House. In my group we have an assortment of nice but apathetic kids and my old friends the African kids whom I love. They drive me insane but I do love them. Predictably, the dynamics of this group are tricky as the Africans sit over on one side and attempt to ignore the rest of the kids who obviously do not understand this alien culture at all.

With all this and Home on my plate too, I feel like one of those people balancing plates on sticks. At any moment the whole thing could come crashing down.

On that note, I'll be off to Church for some much needed perspective and Grace.
Apologies for typos...no time to proof read today.