Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Up In The Morning And Out To School

First days of school.

Everywhere I look on the blogosphere at the moment, children are starting school and it put me in mind of the Baby Angel's first day of school.

(Oct 1999)

Oh, look at that! Is she sweet or what??

Blimey, I had forgotten how yellow that hallway was! I think I was trying to inject some Australian sunshine into the drab British landscape. Oh well, it was the 90s and we had all just rediscovered colour after the beige 80s....

Anyway, look at that tiny little girl with her navy tunic!!

Here she is with her best mates, all starting Reception together (pardon the flaws in the shot. I don't have a scanner anymore so I had to take a photo of the photo and I got a bit of 'flare'). Three happy bunnies and one very unsure young lady. We used to take it in turns to take them to school in the morning and we had weeks of trouble with our little friend here. She cried every morning :-(...it was heart breaking. The others were sweet though and tried to cheer her up. As you can see though, no sweat starting school for the BA. She loved it!

Which brings me to her school situation:

You know of course she had to leave my Alma Mater when it was announced that there would be no senior school next year? Well, on her last day she went through the usual rituals...

Do they do this where you are? On the last day? It was not the norm when I was a gal; we signed each other's year books (which is what is happening in this picture)!

And similarly here where my Bestie, in her final year, is getting her yearbook signed.

Nowadays, writing on paper seems to be 'old hat' and everyone signs everyone else's clothes! Hrrumph. I got quite irrationally prudish about this.

Scene: Last day at Alma Mater

Me: Don't go getting people to write on your uniform today BA.
Her: Why-ever not? (as if she really said 'why-ever'...still...)
Me: (unsure as to the root of my own disquiet) We-ell, we-ell, (thinks furiously) well....because it's common! That's why not!!
Her: Of course it's 'common' mother....everybody does it!!!!!

Faced with this rationale I had to capitulate. When she brought it home that night I had a chance to actually look at what people had written. I was actually quite moved by many of the tributes, this one from her Business and Enterprise teacher(All the best for the future. Remember, you have lots of potential.)

And this one from her Principal:

who had confided in me that she felt very honoured to have been asked to sign the dress.

I am sure our yearbooks were easier to store, but I know the dress will be treasured for years to come too.

But then it was on to the first day at a new school.

The Baby Angel is now attending St Saviour's (as I shall call it), a Catholic girls school in the north of the city where Prof J's daughter is Head Prefect.

We did have a laugh at the beret.

When we went along to buy the new uniform ($$ouch! and we couldn't sell the old one of course as there will be no more girls wearing that uniform :-(...) the lady selected a slightly overlarge beret for the first try. I am ashamed to say that I laughed hysterically.
"You're not helping, mum," said the uniform lady, through gritted teeth.
The BA loked crestfallen. Although my Alma Mater had a boater for the summer, there had not been a maroon velour winter hat for thirty years. Since my day in fact! What cruel irony that my 21st century girl should have to wear a French Navy wool beret!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

In other uniform news, she is also playing netball for her new school. Yet another lycra body suit
and more school uniform costs!

She cannot, however, let go of Alma Mater completely.

So from her first day at school in a navy tunic, to another navy uniform. It seems we have come full circle. On Wednesday night she was choosing subjects for her final year. *sigh*

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Blonde Is The New Lobotomy

My Baby Angel is a blonde. If I was ever in doubt, incidents like this make it crystal clear.

We have been battling for 6 years now with one of those inferior rangehoods which only recirculate the air. This causes problems every time Himself decides to cook a steak or a sausage which fills the kitchen and then, by virtue of the recirculating action, the whole house, with blue smoke. One of the things on our "Inheritance To Do List" is to put a flue into the kitchen so that the smoke is vented to the atmosphere (as they say in the trade).

So, there I was at the appliance shop last Saturday, checking out all the range hoods.
Turns out there is quite a variety to choose from.

There's your 'full on' open plan style exposed flue,

your under cupboard hood,

and the retractable slimline version

which puts most of the 'workings', ie that square box thing on top here,

up into the cupboard above.

After some discussion with the salesman, I realised I was not entirely sure what kind of hood we actually have and whether it could be flued easily or would require a whole new unit with removal of cupboards, tiling, the whole ensuing 'kitchen renovation catastrophe'.

No problem in this age of technology. I called home and got the BA.
"BA, could you do me a favour and have a look in the cupboard above the range hood for me."
"The what? "
"The rangehood, the thing that (purportedly) sucks air out from over the cooktop!"
"From over the what?"
(For Pete's sake)
"THE HOB..the GAS BURNERS....the..."
"Alright, alright, I get you.....(rustling and general movement).......ok.....what am I looking for?"
"Can you tell me if the guts of the thing, the workings, are up in the cupboard?"
"Is there like a box up in the cupboard, above the rangehood?"
"RIGHT! Like containing the workings, the motor...."
"OK. Now, can you see if..."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.....do you mean this box?"
"What? (highly confused now)"
"Well, there's a box here....."
"But it says :Sizzle Stone Table Top Grill"
I may have to kill her.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hey, It's Only A Game: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Oh. In an addendum to the 'Bulletstorm' texting post, I went into EB Games one night the week after his birthday to see if I could find the game. Not that he hadn't been delighted by his 'Rango' dvd (he was actually, I was pleased to note), but I still suffering from that thing I told you about before where I hate to disappoint them (over little things...no problem disappointing him over a laptop).

Inside the store I was confronted with an obscene array of 'on sale' games of every colour and persuasion. Want to crochet on your computer? There's probably a game for it. Unfortunately, there's much more likely to be a game which allows you to steal cars and mug old ladies, for points.

After sifting gingerly through the morass of 'Kill or B Killed 4' (I made that up, but it is probably a title) style bargains, I came upon 'Bulletstorm', reduced from $98.00 to $69.00. $98.00??????? Huh. Just as well it was on special.

With distaste, I picked it up between my first finger and thumb and carried it over to the checkout like something the cats had recently dismembered on the back porch. The young, male assisitant smiled at me quizzically,
"Do you want that?"
"Do I look like I want it?" I grimaced. "Apparently however, I am going to buy it."
The young man, bearing the pallid dermis and probably negative vitamin D rating of a seasoned game player, looked dubious.
"Do you know what it's about?" he queried."What age are you buying it for?"
"Well a) I assume its about shooting, with bullets, and b) for a 13 year old." I growled, my disapproval running from my pores and forming a large puddle about my feet. He looked thoughtful again.
"This is a pretty full on game you know," he informed me."It's mainly about killing people in the most spectacular way possible and also there's LOTs of swearing."
His off-sider sauntered across with a collection of boxed excreta for pricing and shelving.
"Which one are you talking about?" (yes, I guess it's hard to know...there's so much choice)
"Bulletstorm dude. Have you ever played it?" My assistant's face grew rosy and cheerful. "It's awesome! You spray this guy with bullets and it takes off the top of his skull and the brains like fly out in a spray and splatter across the screen!!!!!"
"AWESOME!!!!" his mate nodded and grinned.
And then he turned back to face me. "It's a pretty full-on game for a 13 year old."

I had been prepared for it to be about death and killing, most of Small Boy's games are >:-(
I hesitated.
His mate's face changed.
"Oh wait, I do know that one. It really IS full on for a kid." (what? and how old are you?)

I left the store a richer and somewhat bemused woman. I really had not expected the consumers and salespeople of the industry to talk me out of 'Bulletstorm'. It inspired a small, but brilliant, gleam of hope in my heart. And anyway, I now had major justification for failing to buy the thing for Small Boy!

This episode raised a whole lot of issues for me: firstly, shame that I was willing to buy the thing in the first place; secondly, relief that even seasoned gamers a) recognise when something is over the top and b) care about kids enough to dissuade a customer; minor fear at the feverish excitement in the young man's eye as he described the game to his friend; disbelief that people sit around using their brain power to create these things and finally, the ubiquitous discussion over the classification of games.

Here in Australia the most severe rating classification has been the M15+ label. Many games which did not fit into that category were basically not sold here and some that did were squeezed in under the lesser classification. Many of the games on the 'sale' table were there because, as the classification system changes, they will soon be rated R18+. Retailers are emptying their shelves of the MA15+ versions. This prompted me to wonder why. Are we too lazy in this day and age to stick a new classification label on a case? Are they too easily peeled off? Might this open retailers to prosecution for illegal sales of games to minors?

But then there's the bigger issue: has the lower classification ceiling kept a lot of unsavoury games out of Australia? (clearly not, thinking of 'Bulletstorm') Will the new legislation, meant to improve the standard of viewing available to our younger audiences, actually encourage the import (and thus availability) of even worse material? What do you think?

Oh and in an addendum to this addendum, to our absolute horror, the Small Boy's mother bought him the game this week, after also being advised against it by the shop assistant.
"She just said 'it's only a game'," Small Boy reported.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Inheritance To Do List

On the sad but not unexpected demise of Himself's Fairy Godmother (she was 94), we have come into a little money. Here is what we would like to do with it....

The Back Garden

  • replace retaining wall
  • add useable terraces
  • repair/replace damaged paving around the pool
  • replace and re-site all pool 'workings'
  • replace/repair guttering
The Inside of The House

  • replace flooring to study, front room, hall, stairs and possibly entrance hall.
  • install gas heating to front room and study
  • install a flue over the cook top
  • replace lighting in kitchen adding bench lighting
  • replace lighting in study and front room.
Here is what we have done so far:

Yes that is another boat in the background.
You can award me my halo or print 'Welcome' across my forehead anytime you like now.
You choose.

Friday, 19 August 2011

And Now For My Next Trick, I Will Fit 5 Employees into the Same Timetable!!!!

We have been in the throes of some major changes on the work front. Towards the end of last term, three girls with very little English applied to enrol at the school. They brought with them, $6000 worth of 'New Arrivals' funding which we are to use to give them intensive English lessons. With the incorporation of their 5 lessons a week into our already overloaded support timetable, I was faced with finding other staff members to fill the gaps. One has doubled her hours and another, a visiting tutor, has been put on 4 days a week! But that's not all!

In addition to our new ESL girls, we have a new little Autistic boy in Reception and a change in focus for our Down Syndrome girl. In summary, we have basically had to throw the timetable in the air and start again. It's been quite a jigsaw puzzle; although maybe more like one of those alphabet puzzles where you've got one free space and you have to move all the tiles around, one space at a time, to get them into alphabetical order!!

Our timetable is now so complicated one almost needs special glasses to view it!

With all this going on, we are still looking for a beefy male type to be on duty around our 'Oppositional Defiance Disordered' child, who is on reduced enrolment after having thwacked the teacher over the head with a pencil case. We thought we had the ideal guy: a nuggety Kiwi with a background working for a national football association training kids in schools, he was gentle yet intimidating. Unfortunately, after 2 weeks, he pulled the plug citing over commitment and demands of family. We were gutted.

Yesterday, we had a behavioural specialist in to observe said child (let's call him Gabriel). There was a relief teacher on the class which amped his behaviour up several notches and the specialist came out of the observation shocked and disturbed! She claimed he was the 'most severe' child she had ever observed!


As a staff we are being challenged daily by these kids who want to be in control. Whether they be autistic, abused or indulged, their agenda is identical. It's all about trying to get their hands on the Flaming Sword and, I gotta tell ya people, we can NOT afford to give it to them. This does not always make us popular. The mother of our newest autistic boy burst into tears as she saw him shouting and screaming at home time today. He didn't want to go home.
"Thanks for ruining my child" she spat at the astonished teacher, who had to walk the child to the car as he wouldn't go with mum.....

Kids do not really want to be in control.

In the meantime, we have come into some $$$$$$$$$! Well, more like $$$$$
I am going crazy ordering plumbers and carpenters, electricians and landscape designers. There is the small disappointment that Himself spent 20% of the inheritance buying a new boat and trailer!!! Cos we really needed a second boat!!!!! But I have decided not to let it bug me. On the other hand, I can't get overly excited either....:-(

Friday, 12 August 2011

Man Of Steel the Musical: Now With Added Sewing!

Finally got some photos at the theatre last night. Firstly, here's the all-in-one dress that looks like a shirt/ skirt combo, that I did for the Lois Lane character. This came from an old late 70s early 80s Simplicity pattern which I'd never got around to making for myself.I didn't like the jacket included in the pattern so I did this one instead.

I still need to get a good shot of it! Unlike the Annie extravanganza, we left the chorus kids to get their own costumes. As a result there was far less sewing for me to do. I did have to add a little length to a few dresses:and make up a full circle skirt or two (that's one in the background there in the blue). But my main headache was the outfit for 'Olga' who 'vonts to rule ze vorld'! When she first brought in the costume (an op shop bargain), it was an above the knee 'little black dress' which she paraded up and down and we thought would probably 'do'. We had ideas of a fur coat and so thought the dress was not overly important. Eventually we settled on the fur stole which meant the dress was more visible, and then the day of the dress rehearsal was upon us and 'Olga' started moving. In dismay we watched the fitted dress make its way higher and higher up 'Olga's thighs!!!! Emergency!!!!
I thought quickly and announced 'deep chiffon frill'??????
"Do it!" the director shrieked and I was off to Spotlight post haste, tearing through the doorway at 5.28pm, just in time to purchase the material. I tried valiantly to gather the stuff on the overlocker, and, although it did gather, it was nowhere near enough to give the weight of fabric I was looking for so it was back to the old time tried and true methods of basting and manual gathering. *sigh*. At 3am I had finished the job (I'd also finished the jacket on the same night). Everyone was very pleased with the result and declared the dress much improved by the addition. That night I watched with bated breath to see if the frill hung alright on stage. I had left it open at the back to give her leg room and I wasn't sure how it would look. It wasn't too bad. But again, as we watched in horror, the back seam began to creep open....higher and higher.....By the final curtain, Olga's virtue was only just covered! She was blissfully unaware as to how high the split had 'run' and assured me it would be fine. Her friend quickly informed her of the severity of the situation, "Duuuuude! You can almost see your BUTT!!!!"
Hurriedly she disrobed and handed the offending garment over. Now what was I supposed to do?
Obviously, redoing the seam would have been pointless as she would have just split it open again. After some consultation with the Strange Scottish Girl, I decided to put a reverse pleat into the gap. I had just done one on the back of the red skirt (pictured above) and in the end, the dress was only a costume, so I made it up as I went along. Happily, as you can see from the pictures, Olga is now decent and yet still flexible :-) Result!!

Oh and this is what I found on the end of my file of shots from the theatre. I ask you. It's a miracle I'm still sane....

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Crafty Tuesday: A Stage Jacket

I've been busy sewing for the school musical this week. We're doing 'Man of Steel', a spoof on Superman, and this is the jacket I've made for the Lois Lane character...Rita Street. I also did a matching shirt/skirt dress which I have yet to shoot. This is a terrible picture as I had to take it without flash. I'll try and take a better one in the daylight.

The fabric is a faux suede which is alternately delightful and hideous to work with. I love the structure and weight of the material but you can't iron it directly with the result that, when asked, Himself pronounced the resulting garment 'rather lumpy'. It doesn't help that I left the iron at the theatre today :-)

Now to move on to my next project. The villainess of the piece wears a tight 'little black dress' with fur stole, Russian hat and long black gloves. When she first brought the dress to us we thought it was fine, as indeed it is when she is stationary. Unfortunately the moment she begins to move it starts to creep up her thighs. Waaaay up. Not appropriate :-) I am about to attempt to attach a length of gathered chiffon to the bottom of the thing in order that her modesty be preserved.

Wish me luck!

As always, Crafty Tuesday happens over at Carrie's place today. Click over and see what people have to share.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Kangaroo Island Birthday Bash 2011 Style: Part I

This post has been hanging around for two weeks now :-(
It's going to be flung together now for the sake of getting it out of my 'drafts' folder.

You probably don't remember but this time last year we were on Kangaroo Island celebrating the Small Boy's 12th birthday.
Here he is last year (right), looking all of 12 years old with one of his mates. The whole birthday went so well that Himself decided we should do it again. Only this time we took two of his friends.

It was meant to be a nice 'get away' for me, but really, with 3 12/3 year olds to entertain, did I really think I was going to get to relax? Fortunately, they were absolutely fine. They spent some time at the local skate park and vegged around in bed for hours watching cartoons. At night, as we waited for dinner in the restaurant, we played charades and on one night I got them into a very competitive game of 'Racing Demons', my all time favourite card game. In a hard fought match, the birthday boy won!

Here they are on the ferry on the way over (left).
I'm actually not seeing any major changes in the Small Boy there. They are coming though. Oh. Yes. They. Are. Coming. I know that one day he will open the door and be taller than me and I will go back to being the smallest person in the family.

We might be getting a bit blase about the island nowadays, having visited so regularly. We always stay in the same place, as Himself does work for them (and this holiday was no exception), and we have established a few routines: breakfast and dinner in the restaurant or bistro, mini golf, walks down to the beach

to see if there are any penguins (there aren't, the seals ate them);
walks out to the landmark, Frenchman's Rock looking a bit sad nowadays since the storms have washed most of it away;

observing island architecture: old and new,

and rainy afternoons curled up in our cabins

reading or watching Foxtel!

The other big venture we have taken to is sand boarding. There is this phenomenal place on Kangaroo Island called 'Little Sahara'

which is basically a 2 sq km area of massive sand dunes. You can hire boards at a shop, 8 kms away, and then you are on your own to walk into the slopes and try your luck.

Yes, of course I did.

Actually, to be honest, these shots are taken whilst I was pretty stationary. The kids were having trouble getting the boards to slide on the rather damp sand.

Didn't stop them jumping though.

After my stationary attempts at sliding, I tried waxing the board up thoroughly. I put the wax on its side like a crayon and shaded the entire bottom of the board. The boys were sceptical, and a little sullen if truth be told. Apparently they had tried EVERYTHING and there was no way that fuddy old step mum was going to get the board going. Well, I have tried to load the video proof but blogger won't let me....suffice to say that their reactions were a picture. They were galvanised into action and waxed their boards into oblivion, sliding happily away for some hours afterwards.(Me about to show them how.....)