Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Formal Part 1: The Tale of The Dresses

There is so much going on nowadays that I am hard pressed to find time to write about it. Here's one example.

When the BA announced to me that she had 'found the perfect dress for the Formal', I was immediately transported back to those heady teen days when the social event of the year was the school ball (Prom for my US readers!). But hold, something is amiss methinks! Surely this is only Year 11? Is not The Formal a Year 12 event?

Apparently not!

"But Mum, I've found this great dress and it's only $230.00!!!"
Me: *splutter splutter gasp gasp* $230.00????????????????? But this is only Year 11!!!!!!!!

Calming to a rational state I look at it like this. Year 11 is like a practice for The Formal. It's a dress rehearsal. There's always next year. Don't do everything the first time around; it means nothing will be 'special' in Yr 12!

For example; I guess you all know they go to these formals in stretch Hummers and limos? That was my first point of difference, "Let's do the limo next year kid?" She agreed to this suspiciously quickly.

What about wearing the nice dress I got you for Christmas I suggested. I mean...look at that pretty kid (see right)...couldn't you just imagine dressing that dress up with high heels and jewellery? My suggestion was met with a glance of withering contempt.

Don't worry, I had another trick up my sleeve.
"How about wearing my bridesmaid dress from Bestie's wedding? It's pretty new, only worn once?" Now, before you start at me for being a mean mother making my kid wear a second hand dress to her Formal, may I just tell you that I wore a second hand dress to my formal, as did my sister. As a matter of fact we wore the same dress!

I guess we were a bit 'out there' in our day. We wanted to be different my Sis and I. Well different from the crowd anyway, if not from each other :-). When we were planning for the event of the year, we didn't want to be judged by the standards of everyone else! We didn't want to be 'sized up' by our dresses and have our appearance assessed and evaluated by some imaginary fashion scale; so we wore our mother's wedding dress.

The really ironic part of this, in retrospect, is that those other judgmental girls were all wearing really hideous, floral Laura Ashley numbers which they now look back on with horror. Both Middle Sis and I look back on our Formal attire with a kind of weird pride. After all, this was the start of the era of the Op Shop. Retro was well in. Or maybe we just imagined it was? Anyway, we were very happy with our quirky choice.

With this in mind I suggested that the BA might like to wear my Bestie's bridesmaid dress to her Year 11 Formal. The scorn on her visage was a sight to be seen. A secondhand dress mum???? Get real.

Never mind that it is a beautiful dress, not cheap, quite grown up and a little bit revealing around the cleavage area! No, not nearly good enough!! She suffered the photo with a kind of bemused humour. As if she would wear a second hand dress belonging to her mother!!!!

I despaired. Making the dress would have been an option normally, but I am so snowed under with my new job that I was pretty sure I wouldn't get to the machine. She hasn't finished the red dress she cut out some time ago (sigh) and has gone off the boil with that pattern as a Formal dress anyway.

There was nothing for it but to go and look at the dress she had her eye on. Fortunately it was too big around the bust and too tight on the hip. What a shame. We perused the racks of all the major stores in town, in hopes of getting some ideas at least. The main idea I got was that $230.00 was actually looking like quite a reasonable price!!!!!!!

And then! From the pages of facebook! Salvation!

A wonderful friend who used to baby sit the BA some 8 years ago when we first got back to Australia, offered her wardobe of formal dresses. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with her, see her 'new' house and have a bit of a fashion parade.

Here's one option. Pretty colour. Bit long though, even with high heels on.

This one is all wrong and the one hanging behind her was even worse. That one didn't even get a picture.

So, did she find a dress? YES. A second hand dress which looks lovely and saves me $$$$$$
Good result.

But we're not going to show it to you yet :-)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

To Adorn Its Name with Deeds Both Brave and Fair

People have been asking how school is going for the Baby Angel.

This of course is not your average 'How is school going?' question. This is not a question about whether her marks are ok and whether she has made any progress towards her preference for career or post school studies......
No, this question refers directly to the 'trouble' of 2010.

In December we were finally told of prospective numbers for the new year; about 120, including the Early Learning (preschool) Centre. The BA's year group was sitting on 13.

Thirteen students. Down from sixty.

All her friends had gone, the last one's mother begging me to forgive her as we met in the foyer at Speech Night.

Part way through the holidays it became evident, through facebook, that this number was dwindling, excuses masquerading as reasons slipping easily into the cyber void; silent rats stepping off the ropes into the inky fathoms, under cover of darkness. As orientation day dawned, we wondered how many would be left.


Eight mismatched souls, each present for their own reasons, randomly selected from the lost jigsaw of the whole and representing completely different sections of the original picture. What would become of them?

The first day was ugly in the extreme.

The BA cried; she feared the ignominy of being seen in the uniform of the 'failed school'; she pined for her friends at their new schools without her; she cringed at the makeshift nature of everything and the travesty of traditions enacted in hollow, empty places. She texted me throughout the day: "Mum, this is SO AWKWARD. Everything seems so LAME!"

Malicious people spread poison through the cyber networks: the school would not last two weeks; the school was only planning to be open for a term.....

But the first day passed.

Life has settled into a routine. Classes are tiny but individual and relationships with teachers are, by necessity, closer and more personal. As the months pass, the replacement of the canteen by a vending machine and the annexing of whole wings of the school by carefully placed panels have become the norm. The cheap, lime green, plastic covered school diaries, which replaced the handsome maroon and white (with school crest) version , have been personalised and made 'real' by use; the multi year level sports teams have begun to win a few games at interschool meets and the Parent Committee has reformed itself into a familiar, if 'bijou' structure, stoically ready to tackle the traditional fundraising tasks of the academic year.

Of course this doesn't mean there aren't challenges. At a recent outing, the Year 11s (eight of them remember) went to the Entertainment Centre to see a presentation on Drink Driving. At the beginning of the session the DJ styled MC called into the microphone:
"Let's hear you give up some love for your school!!!! Where are you St Overindulged School?"
(Roars, screams and cheers from the pupils)
"What about Highly Priced Grammar?"
(further roars, cheers and screams from a different part of the auditorium)
"And Alma Mater Ladies College???"
(deathly hush as the 8 mortified ladies sink lower into their seats..........)

But small can be beautiful. Two weeks ago the school held its annual Sports Day, usually a huge school event at a local Athletics Stadium. Reduced numbers has forced the staff to think creatively. Instead of the myriad individual athletics events; shotput, javelin, long jump etc, the hard working sports mistress organised an amazing smorgasbord of tableau sports in the school grounds, suitable for all age groups.

Of course the House system was in full operation. Seniors helped juniors and everyone cheered each other on through the range of events. There was Tunnel Ball, Over the Legs, hurdles, sprints, Tug of War and even an 'Early Morning Race' for the Parents!

Everyone you speak to raved about the day. It had been a total delight. From that place of fear where everyone had worried that smaller numbers would mean a 'flat' carnival, there was instead a swell of pride and the knowledge that for the very first time in decades every girl had participated in some way. Indeed, one observer commented that the strength of community spirit present should have been 'bottled and offered to other schools'!!

When I asked her about it later, the BA thought briefly and pronounced, with some surprise, "You know, I actually had a really nice day!

There's she is as a House senior, middle left. Our House won the day!

Oh, and she made a little friend too. I think this photograph sums everything up.

I am so proud of my Alma Mater right now. I only hope that a fiscally realistic way forward can be hammered out by the new school board so that the strengths of this school; the core values of decency, integrity, loyalty and community can be available for the coming generations.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Life Goes On

Ok. It's been too long since I posted. As a result I'm going to do a 'whistle stop' tour of duty as it stands......

Back in February Ma and Pa left. We saw them off in fine style, over several days. This is at a restaurant for a farewell dinner the night before they left.

Meanwhile, The Baby Angel has landed squarely in the "I am a teenager, it's all about ME" phase.....
And yes. I'm afraid that is what her handwriting looks like.

In the week before the kids came back to school, the staff at my new place of employ went on a team building trip to the beautiful Hills District of Adelaide (don't ask me what that girl is doing with the apple! Disturbing!)

Here are some of my lovely friends, that I now get to work with, on our morning tea stop. And here's some of the beautiful things we saw whilst walking through the Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens.
Later in February, we went on our annual family sojourn to Port Vincent where Himself and
No 2 Son sailed two heats in the State Championships.

It was an eventful few days, marked as it was on the first night, by our family totally scaring off Himself's young crew! I guess it has to be said that we are competitive card players and somewhat melodramatic in our affectations. He was completely thrown and couldn't tell when we were being silly and when we were being serious. In a flurry of confusion and affront he stalked off into the night of the campsite leaving us all slightly bewildered. Fortunately he likes sailing enough to continue doing his 'crew' thing for Himself, although he hasn't spoken to us much since. Oh well. You can't please all of the people.......

On the Saturday, Small Boy, the BA and I walked on the beach with the tide out.
Chillin' after raucous card games.

Seaweed poppin'.

I love this picture of the Small Boy. There's a hint of teenager about him now. He'll be 13 in July.

And on our return I got to sleep in and read a book for a change, accompanied by two friends.

The tabby on the left is Pippin and he was the real reason for this photo. He NEVER sleeps on our bed since he fell out with Himself the day we moved into the house. Morticia on the other hand, practically lives on this bed. The amazing part of this picture is that she is on MY side!!!!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Brush With Fame

Part way through February my new school had its annual Staff Dedication Service and threw in an opening of the new facilities built with 'Julia money', for good measure.

The Dedication Service is a casual affair followed by a picnic/bbq most years and our Principal dresses for the occasion (below right), but this service was different. Who has spotted the tall, imposing figure in the crowd there?

Yes! It's our Federal Education Minister, the Honourable Peter Garrett!!

Now, for my American and UK friends who aren't in the know, I will provide a little additional information. View either of these instructive videos below to see the calibre of politicians we have making decisions in our country.

To be fair, no one said you had to be able to dance to be a politician, but I think for many of us, PG has not lived up to his early 'power and passion'. Having spent a good deal of his adult life making strident music about the hypocrisy and inaction of politicians, he has blundered his way through his first years in office like a first year Law student at the annual pub crawl. We all had such high hopes when we heard he was going into Federal politics; but let's face it, if you jump into the sewer you can't be surprised when you end up just as dirty as the next guy.

Having said all that, who was the groupie sitting in the second row snapping pictures?? Yes, it was this hypocrite here. Mea culpa.

His speech was not bad, apart from the frequent, and I mean frequent, references to exactly HOW much the government had spent here at our 'excellent' school; and afterwards, when he was given a tour of the facilities he was generous with his time and interactions, stopping to talk to each staff member responsible for one of the new areas. Our Principal was most impressed.

And no, even though we'd all threatened to do it at staff meeting, no one burst out with
"The time has come!
To say fair's fair!"
But I really would have liked a flim montage afterwards of all the parents in the audience singing their favourite line from an Oils song! That would have been very funny.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Is It Just Me?

Or does this book cover and title bother you?
I spotted it in our school library the other day. The same school library which does not allow books containing swearing, magic or Harry Potter ! Oh well, I guess double entendre is less harmful than bad language and books that lead straight to your neighbourhood coven on sign up day.