Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


What is that number I hear you ask? Well, apparently, it is the number of litres of water our household is using per day! According to SA Water's enormous, but very helpful bill, we are using more than twice the average amount for a family of 5+ with a large garden. They also suggest that since our water use has tripled from the same period last year, we may like to visit a site called www.sawater.com.au for some water saving tips.


Water saving tips?????????

I think we have a leak >:-(

A quick feel of the soil around our water meter confirmed this. I have now removed the bush which the Water Board refuses to brush aside and called the Leak Line.

Now to take out an extension to our mortgage to pay the bill.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Scene: Maths room at lunchtime, trying to finish off overdue projects for Year10 Numeracy so that they won't have to do Maths next year. The BA is sitting in the background having finished an exam and caught the train over to my school.

Me: So if she gets $30,000 a year, how much will that be a month?

Year 10 Girl: Ummmmm. I don't know (sweet vacant smile)

Me: Come on, you can do this...what operation do we need to use to find out?

Y10G: (looking desperately at my face for clues) Addition? No. Subtraction?No...division?

Me: Yes, well done (relieved smile from her). Now, what are you going to divide by?

Y10G: ummmmmmmm?

Me: here is a year (indicates with outstretched arms) and the $30,000 is spread all the way over that year. Now I need to cut that up into little month sized pieces. What do I divide by?

Y10G: 4...no? .....5?.....no........I'm not very good with months.......

Later the BA (who had been looking over the girl's head, rolling her eyes at me) shook her head in disbelief.
"Was she putting it on mum? And where did the FIVE come from????"
I dunno BA. Random neuron firing I think. I am so looking forward to my new job next year. Mind you, as I'm still working with Special Needs I am sure I will still have plenty of blog fodder!
Trouble is, the guys I'm working with now are not officially Special Needs.

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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Decision Made For Now

On Monday, the Baby Angel was looking very glum and had not come to any firm decision. She wanted to stay but she was worried about being the only girl left in her year. Seriously. I suggested we try it for a term.

So that's what we're going to do. If it's too awful and sad, St Saviour's is aware that we may still come knocking.

On a positive note we heard yesterday that there are 13 girls left in her year level (out of 60). As gut wrenching as that number is, we actually felt encouraged. She had thought it was more like 5.
I still say that it is like the grain of sand in a oyster which forms the centre of the pearl. You just need that critical mass to start things rolling.

The BA's dad is not in agreement and so there is a bit of tension there. He is worried that she will not have a school the following year, to complete her SACE . This is a legitimate concern but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. At the moment I feel encouraged.

First day back next year could be interesting though.

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Friday, 19 November 2010

Nan Chin Says: Analyse THIS

I had to share this! (Hope you don't mind Nan Chin)

Nan Chin was my housemate in the UK and is now the amazing mother of two delightful (and cute) Taiwanese/French children. Gaston is 4........his mood graph is the white one; and Rosalie is 21 months...she's the green line!

Nan Chin is also a scientist.

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

I never know where to start with these school posts. This one has taken a week to publish.

So much has happened and continues to happen and impact on all our lives, it is hard to summarise it in the odd moments I choose to put blogging above marking, housework and helping the BA with trig.

Where was I when we last spoke? Ah yes, I had joined the Parent Task Force and was waiting on the commencement of talks between the Alma Mater and 'The Boys School Down the Road'.

One of the problems I have is that I have only been 'at' the school for the current year. I made contact with a few of the parents through the Froggie exchange thing and have met one or two others in passing as the BA has attended parties and the like but really, I am not one of the 'in' crowd. This has meant that I have been somewhat out of the loop as far as information exchange and ideas exchange goes. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it means I bring a fresh perspective, but at the moment fresh perspectives are pretty low on most people's list of priorities.

After the hideous roller coaster of the past few weeks we were hopeful of some positive news from the meeting between the 'Advisory Committee' and 'TBSDTR' on Monday. We had sent two parent reps so we expected some idea of the direction of talks.


After waiting patiently for a text or email on Monday night, the school released an 'update' which went like this:

"We advise that the Standing Committee Advisory Group met with representatives of The Boys School Down The Road today. Discussions are in their early stages and further meetings will be held during the course of this week."

Enlightening! A revelation!

Then three days of nothing.

In my heart I knew this was a bad thing, but I consoled myself with other issues.

On Friday we heard that the merger had been unanimously rejected by the Advisory Committee and that the Church were determined to keep the school open. My feeling was that they were in 'LaLa Land'. I finally made the calls I had never thought I would make, to enquire as to positions at other schools. I was an emotional mess.

At this point I need to tip my metaphorical hat to Prof J's daughter's school.
I will call the school St Saviour's because it may very well be ours.

We were looking for a school with a similar size, feel and gender make-up to my Alma Mater. Interestingly, having railed against the whole girls' school thing initially, the BA sheepishly admitted that she did not want to go back to school with boys, so St Saviour's fitted the bill well. Additionally, the BA would know at least one other pupil, albeit in another year group.

I phoned on Friday in a state of high emotion. I hadn't realised I was in a state of high emotion until I said to the Registrar, "Hello, I am an Alma Mater parent," at which point my voice wavered and I collapsed vocally into a snivelling wreck. The poor registrar was rather taken aback and did her best to console me whilst explaining that Year 11 was not a 'normal' intake year and that she couldn't guarantee that there would be a place available.

In one of those amazing 'turns of events', she encouraged me to download an application form and post it in just as Prof J's daughter was approaching the Principal's office for the interview which would inform her that she had been elected Head Prefect. In the fluster of my emotion, the registrar had neglected to take my name and contact details but fortunately I had mentioned that we knew J Junior.

When the registrar saw the Principal and informed her of my call, explaining that she had sent me to the website, the Principal was adamant. "No!" she exclaimed,"We MUST see these parents. We must do what we can to help these families!"

Now if that isn't an amazing advert for Catholic education, I don't know what is!

The principal went on to ask J Junior (after she had delivered the 'Head Prefect' news) if she knew anyone at Alma Mater who may have rung in a highly emotional state. It wasn't too much of a leap of logic for J Junior to identify me. Within an hour we had an interview time.

The Principal herself conducted our interview. She showed us around personally and discussed the BA's subject choices with her. She answered our questions, allayed our fears, introduced us to everyone and finally finished by assuring us that we were under no pressure at all to accept the place, but that we must make the decision that was right for us. I could have kissed her.
I still may.

Tonight we attended a community meeting. To say that attendance was down would be an understatement. There may have been about a fifth of the number of parents as there were at the initial meeting back on the 19th of October. Still, the new Chair of the Board was impressive; honest, forthright, realistic and yet inspiring. The Church stood up and said they would fund us; they know they are going to take a bath but they are committed to the college. They will guarantee positions for the teaching staff even, when challenged by a parent, if only 50 girls turn up on day 1 next year.

So what will we do?

For those of you who have stuck with me through this blog; as my posts have waxed and waned; as my topics have strayed from the original Flaming Sword intent to the petty nonsense of 15 years worth of birthday cakes......here is the pay off. I am leaving it to the BA.

I can't begin to tell you what a difficult and yet obvious thing this is to do. I can hear myself talking: "You are the adult! Do not leave this decision to her, she is too young to choose!!" but I also know that this whole thing is no longer (if it ever were) about me.

My brilliant, beautiful, loyal child has had to defend her naive, overly optimistic mother for the past 5 weeks in the face of a mass exodus of her classmates. She may be one of two or three pupils left in her year; her subject choices may be restricted and she may have to endure the same scenario this time next year if enrolments cannot be encouraged; or she has the option of a clean start at a lovely school where she can re-establish herself and settle in for a solid crack at the final years of her schooling. I know what I would do but ultimately, at this pivotal point in her life, I need to know what she wants to do. And don't get me wrong, there is no 'right answer'.

Part of being invested with the Order of the Flaming Sword is knowing when to relinquish it and when to take it up again. Through all these years you have heard me champion the cause of the proactive, assertive parent but as the years proceed we must trust that we have done our jobs well and that our children have the ability to make valid decisions for themselves (of course if this has anything to do with tattoos I withdraw all comments).

The Baby Angel is weighing up her options. A new start, with all the 'new girl' issues that entails, or a drastically changed, micro school with very few of her friends left. I have encouraged her to talk to someone outside the family about the whole deal because, I said to her, I don't want to influence her or to have her make a decision based on what she thinks I want. She laughed at me and said "Mum, of course you influence me; why do you think I am at this school in the first place???"

Wise , wise child.

Within the next few days the school will call to ask us what our commitment is. How strange, and yet perfectly appropriate, that I do not know. This is not an ordinary situation. It is not something I have dealt with before so I am in no position to give advice. I hope the BA can decide whether she wants to ride this roller coaster with the other faithfuls or whether she prefers the security another school may offer. I have given her this weekend to think about it. Make no mistake however, if she seems to be vacillating past that point or overly stressed by the responsibility I will step in and help her to make the decision. She may be brilliant, beautiful and well adjusted but she is still only 15.

The good thing about me being here and doing all this is that I can report back to you all. You can learn from my lessons and store up experience to draw on when your time comes.

By then I will either be nodding sagely or holding myself up as an object lesson! Either way I hope you don't have to go through what we have been going through these past 6 weeks.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Bug The Goblin Kidnaps Santa: or Where's My Train Set?

Just a teaser folks, at 6.30am when I am meant to be getting ready for school. Last night was the Baby Angel's Christmas panto performance at school and here she is playing Bug the Goblin in the act of negotiating with Santa over a new train set.

This is the first time in months that I've picked up the camera. I can't believe that I failed to get ANY pictures of 'Oliver'. BAD mother. Still, I was there last night, snappin' away with my inadequate lens (thank you for pointing it out to me, yet again, Himself and not bringing your massive lens instead! "You get called a child molester if you try to take photos in a place like this", grumbled Himself, not unreasonably. He has been bitten once at Small Boy's basketball game and will never photograph a child again!).

With her minimal stage experience, I am still finding the BA's talents surprise me. Of the panto cast, she was definitely one of the strongest; you could hear every word and she got some real laughs. I'm excited to see how she develops as she takes her interest further next year.

Where ever she ends up.

Here is the latest on the school.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

So Much To Say and Unable To Bring Myself...

My school worries (topped tonight by the Council resigning in the face of Church ineptitude) fade into insignificance as my dear friend is once more gravely ill. I cannot begin to imagine what her husband and son are going through. She is awaiting a liver transplant and I need hardly say what conflicts that presents for anyone praying for her. Still, I will also be praying for a miracle restoration of her liver. She is a trooper and has a great love of life and her family so.....

I have another post 'cooking' at the moment but there is so much to tell and I am just about talked out over this whole school thing :-(

Tomorrow the BA and I are visiting another school, where Prof J's daughter has recently been voted Head Prefect! If the worst happens and the school collapses under the weight of the ineptitude of every bureaucratic twit in charge, at least we hope to have the option of a lovely school of similar size and feel with a top quality Head Prefect to boot! Nothing is guaranteed though. Year 11 is not a usual 'intake' year so we are holding our breath and crossing our toes.

For many things it now appears.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

What's The Buzz? Tell Me What's a Happening.

At the end of the 'Week from Hell' the BA and I accidentally decided to have a Girlie Day Out.

It started with the hairdressers. I was booked in for my 6 weekly visit for 'mysterious women's business' and she needed a trim so we went down together. It was a Small Boy Free weekend so we had no commitments, Himself was sailing and we were free agents.
"Mum," she asked, "what would you like to do?"
We went to Harbour Town.

Our first assignment was lunch. To my surprise she turned up her nose at the suggestion of Maccas (I suppose I shouldn't be surprised give her current employment!) and we ended up at the 'Coffee Club'.

Mothers of daughters; take your children to lunch. Out of the home setting, topics emerge and blossom and are considered in a healthy light. This simple act will cement lifelong relationships. And don't be put off by the shopping thing. We skillfully managed to avoid a few shoe shops and got out of The Labyrinth with most of our assets intact. If you feel nervous in the face this challenge, can I recommend the words: 'Haven't you got one of those already?'

The next part of the Girlie day involved getting together with respective friends. I encouraged the BA to meet up with a girlfriend away from the heavy and angst ridden school environment and agreed to facilitate the meeting, which means I used half a tank of petrol driving about all over town. The purple is me.

I picked the BA's friend up from eastern suburbs and delivered them into town to do whatever it is stressed out 15 year olds with their school about to close out from under them do for a laugh. Turned out it was wedding stalking in the Botanic Gardens and, to my horror, souvenir pinching!!! They greeted me with bottles of bubbles, the names off a couple of chairs and a couple of strange sort of medieval looking stick things with ribbons and bells which, I am reliably told, were shaken enthusiastically by the congregation as the bride and groom (wedding number 5 for the day) kissed.

Meanwhile, as my child and her friend were honing their light fingered skills in the wake of numerous outdoor Spring weddings in Adelaide, I called in on an old school friend.

As my friend says, the one thing about the terrible decimation of my Alma Mater is that some of us have got in contact again. Part way through the dissection of the incredible nightmare that is my school's journey, she mentioned the local production of JC Superstar. It was the last night and funnily enough I had actually asked Himself if he was interested in going several months ago. Of course, post Saturday sailing he was pretty blunt in his declination of my generous invitation; but the BA and her mate were very keen.

More looney driving around the city and eastern suburbs to get the whole thing okayed by her parents and then we were back into the city centre for our second meal out of the day! Very indulgent!! A quick dash across the road and the use of some magic words and we had 'rush' tickets! $20.00 each instead of $45.00!!!!! Love it!!

Now my personal journey with JC Superstar commenced in 1972 when the first Australian production of the concept album was performed as a 'concert' at Memorial Drive Tennis Courts on a warm March night. My dad took me and I remember being hooked. I bought the double album in Canada later that year. Happily, for me anyway, it came with the libretto so it was not long before my keen 12 year old brain had committed the entire thing to memory. How many times did I treat my family to a complete rendition of the show with me singing every part (except Mary Magdalene...she was so wussy.....I favoured Judas' part myself!)?

And lucky, lucky BA and her friend.....I still remembered every word!

I didn't see the fully fledged stage show, mounted here at the same time as the show premiered on Broadway and in the West End, but I did see the 1972 movie. I LOVED that! This was the BA's first introduction to the piece and she was favourably impressed. Her worldly mate had seen it once before but claimed to get 'so much more out of it' the second time around.

So, what did I think? Well, the production was by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and that showed in the choreography and general movement. It was a little static. But the music was wonderful, chorus were great and leads very solid. Jesus especially, played by Luke Kennedy (you'll hear more of this young man I predict) was a standout. The use of steel prefab building materials and an urban setting added to the atmosphere although I had a slight problem with Jesus being wheeled on in a shopping trolley instead of a donkey. Guess it makes sense.....?

We drove home with me singing all the songs for the BA's amusement and then spending the best part of the night watching clips of the movie on youtube. All in all a very successful Day of Distraction!

The School Board, Uniting Church and the 'Boys School Down the Road' are in talks this week. We are hanging by our fingernails to hear their proposal for the school. It's pretty clear that this is our only option.

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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Let the Sunshine In

Alright. Enough with the negativity Arizaphale.

After my initial kneejerk, emotional reaction I have regrounded and am resolved to look for a way forward in everything. I am sure the lady in question did not make her decision lightly and I am sure she will cop a lot of flack, as we say here in Aus, from small minded people like me.

So let us put it behind us today and deal with the here and now.

Currently, the school is hemorrhaging enrolments as people panic and enrol elsewhere for next year. I must say this reaction bemuses me. They all cry about how much they love the school etc and the kids certainly don't want to go, so why the run? The other schools aren't going anywhere (if the truth be told they're probably sitting back and rubbing their hands!).

With the departure of the leader they had hoped would turn things around, the church is looking once more to the 'Boys School Down The Road' for a merger. But that is just today. Tomorrow may be a totally different story.

Meanwhile, we need to get on with life. Which is going to mean getting Miss Lily 'snipped' as there have been a few tomcats sniffing around!! if it's not one thing it's another :-D

At least I have an ice skating excursion on Friday!

Under Attack

I wonder which other independent girl's school paid this woman to do this.
It beggars belief.
They must be rubbing their hands together now as the enrolments flood in.

I am only half joking.

I have been trying to extend my usual christian open mindedness to this woman's situation and all I can come up with is that the Church or the Board were going to impede her in some way from doing the job. Surely it was not simply that the 'figures' were too bad. She must have known that before she expressed an interest. She had already talked about re-imaging the school as a 'small school'. Even if she saw 'no way out', she was coming out of retirement for heavens sake! If she guided the school to a merger or any other fate, what difference did it make to her?? She wasn't looking for a long term role!

Or perhaps she was? Perhaps she saw this as an opportunity to become the 'saviour' of the school and upon realising that this was unlikely, decided that she would rather preserve her reputation than try and fail.

I am tempted to go down there and offer my services. Hell, I've been a small school Principal before! I would do it for a teacher's salary and run it as a staff co-operative!! Kind of like employees saving their factory.

Are there any other Old Scholars out there who would sacrifice something for their school?