Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 27 December 2010

So This Was Christmas: 2010

I can't believe how long it has taken me to post this. I blame the new imac. And transferring files. And iphoto. I really blame iphoto :-)

The Baby Angel was really excited about Christmas this year.

I'm not all that sure why.

The Santa mystery has well and truly gone now. *sigh*
And yet we must still leave a stocking and mince pies and milk.

And sit up after Midnight service looking at all the presents under the tree.

Until Santa (aka mother) demands that bedtime is here in order for her job to be completed before exhaustion carries her off to her own bed.

And then Christmas morning arrives and the siblings all make it here by 11am. How has the BA contained herself???

Small Boy does the honours.

Everyone seems happy with their loot.

Yes, that's 12 year old happy.

Arizaphale, in a concerted show of determination cooks the entire Christmas lunch, including this frozen chocolate, fruit pudding confection.

The enthusiastic crowd are enraptured.

Next time they can have Angel Delight.

But Himself declared it a great Christmas lunch and brought me some Christmas roses from the garden.

So it was all worthwhile.

And there you have it. A quiet, family Christmas at the Flaming Sword household.

Later, the BA and I started a jigsaw.

Cos after all, if no one will play charades with you it's not really Christmas is it?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Thank you God for this, my favourite Christmas present, received as a message on Facebook this morning:

Hey mrs a
just thought id say goodbye since i didnt get to at presentation night because i didnt go...
Thanks for everything youve done for me and my maths class. I know it wouldve been hard to persist and i admire your patience and commitment. You are the most committed teacher i had this year and now that i think of it, youre one of the most committed teachers ive had at any highschool.
Thank you for your guidance, teaching, committment, patience, helpfulness and the passion and willingness to help us all.
All though a lot of the students in the class didnt recognise and appreciate what youve done this year, i do, and i thank you immensley for your help and teaching...i actually did well this year!
Maths is the subject i struggle most with and usually give up on easily but you helped me and taught me in a way i could understand and when i didnt (understand) you explained it further til i did.
You will be greatly missed next year and i hope you are given the respect you diserve where ever you go next year because i know you didnt get it from everyone this year.
So thank you goodbye and goodluck!:):):)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Fifty Schmifty, Gimme The Microphone!

It's pretty crap having a birthday 10 days out from Christmas. When I was little my Mum wouldn't put up the tree until after my birthday so that it could be kept separate from Christmas.
Now of course it's impossible to split them up so, what with that and the end of the school year thrown in, it's easier to just ignore the thing.

Of course, that wasn't going to happen this year. It was the dreaded 5-0.

I suggested to my Bestie and family that we hold off on any celebrations until January when people were more likely to be available and I could actually turn my attention to planning and organising the thing.

"But we have to do something!" insisted The Bestie and so I put on my totally self indulgent hat and said,
"I know. I would like to go to La Sing, early on in the night when there is no one there, and sing karaoke to my heart's desire!"

Now I need to explain La Sing. My Bestie described my second ever visit to this peculiar and rather seedy Adelaide night spot in her blog post several years ago. It is a small and slightly tatty room with badly painted Hollywood icons on the walls, a laser lightshow from Hell and outrageously over priced drinks: wine out of a cardboard box for $7.00 a glass, you know the kind of thing. But until about 10.30 at night it is basically empty!! You can sing what you like and there is no one to judge you or, more importantly, take up mike time. The Bestie's Beloved introduced us to this classic a few years ago and whilst I have only been there 3 times it remains a great self indulgence.

So that was my plan. Just The BA, The Bestie and her Beloved, Himself and the Bestie's parental body. We could be as silly as we liked and be outta there by 11pm when the crowds of drunk twenty somethings arrive to sing 'Fly Trash Hip Hop Ho ' songs.

Imagine my surprise when we walked in the door and a scattered group of faceless people through the laser lights began to sing Happy Birthday!

I had to peer pretty hard into the gloom to begin to see familiar faces. Worryingly, the first two I recognised were my Pastor and the Priest from my old Anglican church!!! Added to this were two very delightful but upright co-worker ladies from my Christian school and a good friend with his new wife whom I don't know very well. This was going to be interesting!!!!!!!

My lovely husband Best Friend and daughter had been working their joint bottoms off secretly emailing all my friends to get them to surprise me. And I had had no idea!! This wasn't quite the empty room for self indulgent karaoke singing I had imagined :-D But what the heck! Throwing caution to the wind I reasoned, 'This is my birthday...I'm an old fart now and if you can't make a fool of yourself on your 50th birthday, when can you?' Bestie's Beloved started the night off, as the suave MC he is, hauling me up to sing 'Mac the Knife ' with him and the flood gates were opened.

Pretty well everyone got into the spirirt of the thing. Another group of party girl work friends appeared after about an hour and yet another group shortly after that.

The last of us left at around 1.30am. It was a great night. After 10pm or so we had to compete with the rest of the public in the singing stakes but the DJ was very considerate and rotated the requests around tables rather than simply playing them as they arrived in a list so we didn't have to wait too long to get our mike on. The BA was stunning , singing song after song and gaining a worrying crowd of admirers from the General Crowd. Don't worry, Mother was close on hand!!

A big thank you to all my friends and family who came together to give me such a wonderfully self indulgent night. It was a fitting way to celebrate 50 years of 'Look At Me'.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Of Macs and Old Age With A Panda Thrown In

I have had a birthday.

This birthday may or may not be the end of my marriage. The cause is sitting on the table in front of my husband.

Let me start at the beginning.

Fifty years ago, on her due date, my sainted mother brought into this world a squalling, squirming 7lb 8oz bundle of baby girl. That was the first problem because, had she not bothered to reproduce, my husband and I would not have been here tonight snapping at each other over my birthday present (see picture above). It was also the last time I was ever on time in my life. But I digress.

I mean, what does one get for one's wife who has everything her heart desires? Obviously!
An imac! Poor woman, for years she has been struggling with a PC. All that blogging and facebooking and occasional schoolwork; she needs a Mac to avoid the viruses, crashes and go slows of the PC world because everybody knows that Macs are perfect. Right?

Of course the flaw in this plan can be summed up in two sentences:
1) We are not all cut out to be teachers.
2) You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

The photo above was taken before he tried to teach me to use the thing which is why we are both smiling. Well, I am smiling, that other expression is the closest Himself gets to smiling unless there is sailing involved and even then only if there is winning involved :-D

The first problem was that the imac was too clever for our old wireless router. They couldn't communicate (a familiar problem around these parts). Try as he might, Himself was unable to connect me to the internet without carrying the whole kit and caboodle into the family room and connecting me up to the router via *gasp* a cable!!! This obviously left the 'i' brand a little tarnished since he had spent some time telling me how well everything worked on a Mac. My husband does not do 'tarnished' well. There was a great deal of stamping and swearing and after several days he had to admit that we needed a new router. I call this the 'New Technology Domino Effect'.

So now we were 'airborne' so to speak, and he was able to wax enthusiastically about the benfits of my new system.
  • It's fast. Reeeeally fast, especially when compared to my 6 year old PC which of late has taken 10+ minutes to boot up. Everything is onboard!
  • There are no peripherals except for the external hard drive from which I am importing all my photos. 61.5GB of photos.
  • It has iphoto. "You are going to LOVE iphoto".
I do not love iphoto.

For one thing it has no 'save as' command. Instead it has 'export'. I cannot work out how to make albums within albums. It lists folders as 'events'. When I enhance a photo (quick fix) in the editing suite it changes the file size from 1.7MB to 5.4MB unless I tell it otherwise which requires an extra step which I did not need to take on my old dinosaur program.
I do not love iphotos.

Except for the fact that you can load photos directly to facebook. :-D
But not directly to blogger. :-(

A week into my 51st year and my husband and I are finally discussing the subject of the imac civilly.

Here is another attempt after a bit more iphoto practice and a marital 'cooling off' period.

In the photo above you can see the BA thrusting forward the lovely flowers from my lovely mum and dad and me clutching the set of three lovely Stieg Larsson books the lovely BA gave me.
Oh! and Small Boy excelled himself by getting me a present for the first time ever. I am now the proud owner of the DVD 'Australia' so I can sigh over Hugh Jackman in the bush shower any time I like :-)

So what does a girl choose to do for her 50th birthday ten days out from Christmas when most of the world is unavailable due to work 'dos' and Christmas prep?

She spends the day with A Free Man, Boy Z, Not Max, the Baby Angel and A Small Boy on the River Torrens. On a boat. Called Popeye.

Sit down boyz! For Gawd's sake keep away from the edge!!!!!!!

Oh yeah, and we ate 'good food' aka hot chips for the first time since I started my diet in October.

But we did go to the zoo as well where we saw the lovely meer kats,

the sad giraffes (such a small enclosure)

and the new, you beaut, 'not quite sure what all the fuss is about' pandas.

And Boy Z navigated.

And not Max slept.

But not until his lovely Auntie Arizaphale rocked him to sleep in his stroller. Clever Auntie. Ah you learn a lot in 50 years, like: 15 month olds do not eat ham sandwiches and require you to bring a bottle with them on outings. Should have just asked me AFM :-D! Still he did ok on two icecreams and half a pint of tomato sauce eaten out of the container by way of a 'hot chip dip'.
No more sauce for me thanks Not Max.

Seriously though, we had a lovely day. If the next 50 are as good as this...........

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mighty Dread Has Seized My Troubled Mind!!!!

Howdy gang, this is me, finally coming up for air!Link

Since my last post we have been racing on all cylinders, towards Christmas and the end of the school year.

Let's start with the Kidzone nativity service. I don't know if you remember that last year I made a whole bunch of 'have on hand' Christmas costumes since we often have kids turn up on the day who want to be involved but have no outfit? Well I had wanted to add to the collection this year so once again, the day before, I sat up making 'serger specials' (ie...no hems or niceties....just overlocked together!).

I managed the purple and yellow robe and gown of the king (front left) and the kid sized grey robe for Joseph. That was it. My flatbed machine was behaving badly and I just didn't get time for anything else.

Last year I also made some 'angel' costumes; shifts in cream and gold with tinsel for halos and an attempt at angel wings using 'buckram' or stiff hatbrim interfacing. I had no chance of getting these angel costumes to 'fly' as long as most of the little girls at church had their own preferred fairy costumes! One day I hope to teach them that pink maribou is not 'angelic' per se!!!!!!

There's one of the angel shifts on the king below at front right although she's also got a king's green and blue robe over the top of it and I'm not at all sure it 'works'. Also, get a load of our black sheep, front and centre with grey ugg boots :-D and the shepherd with his baseball cap on. These kids are too much!!One of my co-workers keeps telling me that it's not about perfection but one day I would just really like to have angels that looked like this, or this:

Alright, there's a bit of maribou there, but at least they don't have wands!!!!

No, the answer is to make my angels as shiny and glittery as the fairy costumes from K Mart.

To this end, I have been making angel wings for next year!

What do you reckon my chances are?

Anyway, despite my anally retentive need for accurate Biblical costuming, the actual service was quite successful. This year we incorporated the Nativity in our final Family Service; this is a service where the kids and youth run everything. We had little skits from the youth and child friendly carols with kids leading the singing.

Amongst the conglomeration above you can see the three wise geeks (complete with GPS and google maps to find the baby), some Bogan shepherds and yes, another pink angel. The bloke on the left in gold is actually the angel Gabriel, I thought he at least was colour appropriate :-D
Despite the apparent chaos before the service, it all came together very well and we received lots of compliments.
Now to start planning next year's extravaganza!

image credit 1

image credit 2

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Weight Of The World

The strain of the past 8 weeks was telling on the face of the Baby Angel as I caught her unawares, sitting in the water down at Seacliff, last Saturday. Highs and lows, decisions and goodbyes. As the last day of school arrived today it was a far cry from the carefree excitement of an Alice Cooper number. We were back in the Adelaide Town Hall tonight for the final Speech Night of Alma Mater as we know it.

It was a night of great dignity; girls were recognised for their contributions to school life, dignitaries gave sage advice and the House Cup was awarded. There was mention of the future. There was mention of the great pain of the past eight weeks but it was not dwelt upon. Most of us held it together until the Principal cracked whilst thanking her parents for their support during the last term, this followed by a soaring version of 'Somewhere' from West Side Story. For the girls it was the School Anthem at the final leaving that tore apart what thin shell of control they had left.

Himself and I battled our way through the crowds (won't have to worry about that next year) of sobbing girls and grim faced parents, stopping briefly to catch up with some familiar faces.

"We're staying."
"Really? So are we."


"And where are you off to?"
"Scottish Girls' School in Outrageously Overpriced Suburb"
"Really? Good luck with that."

I am still angry. I am searching deep for a shred of understanding and forgiveness but all I can find is resentment and mild disgust for all those wailing and moaning, but leaving all the same.

And my kid is hurting. That's the most bitter pill of all.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's Managing Director or Nothing!

"That's Sarah, who works with me, over there Mum and guess what? She's going in to work tonight and she's going to QUIT!!!" announced the Baby Angel with some fervour on Friday night. "And Zac? He's quitting too. And Mum, you KNOW how much I hate my job! You know how STRESSED I get about it!!"

"What's your point BA?"

"Well I think maybe I should quit too."

(Mother pauses to take a deep breath, don't blow this now mother, just the right amount of indignation mixed with a soupcon of sympathy and a firm line.......)

"I see, well, I suspect you should make sure you've got another job before you quit this one," I reflected in measured tones.
"But I'll never get another job! Do you know how many people are out there looking for jobs???" she wailed in response.
"Exactly. Be very grateful you have a job (and 'suck it up Princess' I refrained from adding)."

Lately we have been having discussions about money. Her latest bank statement showed that she had spent rather more than she'd realised in the last 3 months. She is trying to save for this trip to Vanuatu with the Church Youth Group and, thus far, her weekly stint at the Golden Arches is not providing her with the saving and the spending she desires. At least, it provides her with the spending, but at the expense of the saving. When trying to determine where all this money had gone, she had to admit that she was frittering it away on junk food and so forth on trips to the mall with friends.
"But," she exclaimed in outrage,"the others all have money from their parents! It's not fair!!!!"

Now this is true. Ever since an unfortunate incident with her bedroom door a couple of years ago, I have stopped giving the BA pocket money. In the first instance it was to pay for repair of the door, but somehow it never really got going again and now that she works, I don't see the need to supplement her income with 'spending money' every time she wants to go into town with her friends. So, the question is, am I being too harsh?

I don't think I am. She has many things provided for her: I buy all her toiletries and basic clothing necessities (socks and the like) whilst her dad and step mum buy her bags of clothes every time she visits; I pay for her music tuition, her netball fees and transport to school each week; I somehow manage to make most concerts or gigs into birthday or Christmas presents. If we go to the movies I pay.

I do not pay for phone credit or socialising. Nowadays she buys presents for her friends on their birthdays as well, an item which used to be my domain.

I think this is fair.

If I start forking over 'spare change' every time she feels the need to meet friends at the food court or buy a teen magazine, the message goes out that everything comes easily and there is no need to monitor or regulate the amount you are spending on these 'extras'. I think this would be doing her a disservice. The difficulty, of course, is when other parents do not share these values.

Of course, it is completely up to each family to decide which expenses they will bear for their emergent adults and which they will leave to the teen; but please folks, leave something to them! Aside from the financial learning they will experience and the money you will save, you reward them with a sense of responsibility and control, essential for their healthy development. If parents are continually providing cash, young people begin to believe that they are not capable of doing it themselves.

And so BA, no, you may not 'quit' your job simply because you 'don't really like it that much'. Welcome to the real world! And anyway, part of the reason you work at Maccas when you are 15 is to remind you what you are studying for!!!

Here endeth the lesson.

Edited to add:

Jill made a comment which prompted me to clarify something. Part time jobs are definitely NOT meant to interfere with school work! If this is the case then it is time to quit the job until something more suitable comes along. My part time job as a teen was Thursday nights til 9pm and Saturday mornings at the local supermarket. This left plenty of time to keep up with study and assignments. The Baby Angel works one LOOOOOOOng shift at Maccas on a Sunday, usually 8am until 3pm which still leaves time for homework in the evening (should it not have been completed before this....which it should have!).

My main point with the BA's recent desire to quit was that it was based on her general disinterest in the job and more particularly, dislike of one of the supervisors. Whilst these things are certainly reasons to look elsewhere for employment, the danger with youth today is that Mum and Dad will 'bail them out' and they never have to learn to deal with the unpleasantness of life, like long hours and bad tempered bosses.

image credit

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Looking Good After 40 Years

Round at the Bestie's new place last night, the 40C temps were catching up with the BA who fancied a swim. Not having her bathers with her she prevailed upon the Bestie to borrow a pair.
"I think I may have a pair that might fit you," chirped the Bestie's gorgeous and beloved mother, who is the most frugal person I know. She rummaged in the bedroom and came out with her own bathers, last worn circa 1960!!!

I particularly like the expression on the Bestie's Beloved's face.
I encouraged the BA to give us this Betty Grable pose.

She does not compare the results favourably. She feels some photoshop was needed.

I don't know. What do you think? I think she was disadvantaged in not having the shoes and spray tan.