Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Man in Charge

Saturday morning, a sleep in at last. Drowsily 'coming to' and rolling over luxuriously in the warmth of the quilt to see the crisp blue sky framed through the window. Interesting sound from the depths of the house. Roll over again and snuggle down. Nagging sound, click click click. Drift back off with the knowledge that I don't have to be up for another 30 minutes....another flurry of clicks. What IS that?

Lightning bolt. I am now sitting bolt upright in bed. The bellow comes from the depths of my lungs.

"Please tell me you are not letting that boy run around this house in his FOOTBALL BOOTS!!!!!!!!!!"

Silence. More clicks and hurried footsteps, a door slam, car in the drive.


Thursday, 28 June 2007


Eighteen. First job. Borrowed suit. Borrowed tie. Even borrowed shoes....thanks Dad.

Door to door sales for charity.

Commission only. Six hours walking the streets for $40.00. That day.
Next day......nothing.

How do you tie this thing? Did you know if I make a Direct Debit sale I get more than I do for a Credit Card? We call them DD and CC. I might buy a jacket with my first cheque. How do you tie this thing? Sam says I did really well for my first day. Take a picture of me in my suit to show Mum. How do you tie this thing?

He is the antithesis of a salesman. He's too intense. His sense of humour too surreal. This can't last....

but............he's learning to tie a tie! He's having a go. And he's smiling again.........We watch him begin......

For more breath taking 'Begins' see Theme Thursday on Picture This

Monday, 25 June 2007

Best Shot Monday

Summer. All the 'Moms' in the Northern Blogisphere are talking about it. Of course for us it's a memory and to find my 'Best Summer Shot' I had to trawl back though my files. I love this shot because it was early evening and we had just returned from the freezing cold UK to the joys of long days and 30C evenings before school went back. Baby Angel was now a seasoned 'boogie boarder' and poor old sun hat and sunscreen Mum sheltered, with her camera, on the shore under her sun umbrella while youth took a healthy bite of the ocean. The sad thing is that this is the childhood I dreamed about when I was a child. I was never confident in the waves. I hated water on my face, always burned really easily and was frightened of making a fool of myself in front of the other kids. I look on at her now in a cloud of pre-teen nostalgia for the way I wished I had been, even at the time. She's not even bothered by the oncoming wave.........well ok, it's only a little one !!!!!

For more (and mostly higher resolution) fantastic pix check out 'Best Shot Monday' on
Picture This.

Friday, 22 June 2007

News from the 'Old Country"

I am sooooooooooooo excited!!! Phone call tonight from the UK. During the week I heard that Mum and Dad have booked their tickets for Aus, 28th Nov, oh boy oh boy oh boy. Tonight, triple excitement; my middle sister SmokyJo ( see left) is booking her tickets as we speak and bringing my beloved B-I-L with her. We can hardly wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They have not been out here since we returned in 2003 and prior to that I think was the visit for my first wedding in 1992. Actually sis may have done a quick trip back at some point while I was living in UK but the key point is, we have never had the opportunity to have them here in our 'environment', we are soooooooooooooooo excited!!

Of course all this is complicated by the fact that Baby Angel will be due to visit Dad in Sydney at precisely the time Auntie SJ will be here. Ah well, nothing's simple. I'll trust that it will all work out.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Children learn what they live.........

Late, late, late and have just finished setting an English exam but I must share this example of a mother who has completely 'lost the sword'.

In my Geography class I have a boisterous character called CJ. He could so easily be one of those 'likeable rogues' who deftly avoids work with humour and has procrastination and scene stealing down to a fine art- but for one thing. CJ refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

If CJ has been calling out incessantly across the room, with humorous intent, for just that little bit too long and he is asked to 'move' seats or step outside, the resultant stream of 'its' not fairs' and 'everyone picks on me' are impressive to behold.

If CJ has failed to hand up yet another round of homework, classwork or major assignments- he had a funeral in Italy to attend.

If CJ has a lunchtime session to complete work which he has failed to hand up, he arrives with no books, pens or visible means of support and proceeds to wax lyrical as to why he was unable to find them in his locker/bag/bedroom or how he lent them to someone/left them somewhere or completed them and then fed them to the dog (well maybe not the dog bit...but he did pull the Italian funeral one!!!).

When given the opportunity to reduce his after school detention to a lunchtime walking with me on duty he initially agreed wholeheartedly, until he discovered that this meant being out there for a whole 20 minutes!!! How outrageously unfair! Lunchtime detentions are usually only 5 minutes (yeah because the teachers usually want to go and get their lunch). Bear in mind that the after school detention would have been for 40 minutes! He squealed bitterly about the injustice of it all for the entire 20 minutes.

After a semester of this and after requesting a parent interview at mid term (no response), I finally rang Mum yesterday. Guess what she said?

Perhaps he's finding the work difficult. Is it happening after lunch? Perhaps he's tired. Who is he sitting next to? There are two boys he went to primary school with who sometimes get him into trouble. Is he next to them? Does he understand what he has to do? I've never had any trouble with him before.

She did pull up a bit short when I mentioned his Italian funeral (I had actually thought it might be true) but other than that.........the search for excuses was extensive.

I wonder where he gets it from?

Thank you to all those other parents who pick up their flaming sword when they receive a call from school. What a difference it makes when pupils know that their parents value the school and the teacher's efforts. If my daughter asks me for a note in her diary to excuse her for not finishing homework, I say 'no'. How else will she learn to prioritise her time if she does not experience the consequences of attempting to do homework whilst on MSN?

Parents do not do their children any favours by constantly making excuses for them. CJ has learned that it can never be his fault, because after all, Mum says so!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Teenage views on internet dating...ouch!

Now I have to tell you what I was doing til 4am the other morning. I was marking some Year 8 English essays and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I have the second to bottom Y8 English class this year. In truth, they are not that far removed from the 'Support' group which I will get next year if I move back into the Special Ed role. There are only 18 of them and although I have no one as severe as last year's friend, Sam
(age 14, reading age 6.0), they all struggle with sustained reading and comprehension. And let's not even start on their writing! So it was with great ambition and determination that I decided to teach them how to write a 'discussion' text as a precursor to essay writing.

The topic was 'Should People Use Dating Services?', a discussion triggered by the novel we are reading, 'The Keeper' by Rosanne Hawke. In the novel, a young lad uses the personal columns in the paper to advertise for a dad. There was some great debate on and around the subject of safety and 'stranger danger' and I was surprised to hear this MSN literate generation soundly condemning not only the personal ads but also the various internet dating sites and chat rooms. Whether this is a product of the Christian nature of our school I'm not sure. The pupils certainly don't demonstrate any Godly principles with regard to technology on any daily basis that I have observed!! :-D

Writing the essays was a lengthy process over about 3 weeks, during which, like a good English teacher I gave them models of discussion texts, demonstrated analysis, allowed them time in pairs to analyse a piece of their own, demonstrated an essay plan, got them to write an essay plan....and then threw them all away when I saw the standard :-D Eventually the class as a whole did a 'plan' and then they were off to write their 'essay'.

Here then are a few samples of what today's youth thinks of internet dating.

The internet is expensive and chews a hole in your pocket while you are waiting for something to come up. Waiting at a disco also chews through your pocket except it chews harder. ( How would HE know??? aged 13?)
Sitting in front of a computer all day makes you lazy. In natural dating (sic), sitting at the pub and waiting for something to happen also makes you lazy.
People on the net could lie to you and really be a terrorist planning to assassinate you. Well, you could just bring someone that is close to you for example a friend or family member. (who could be assassinated alongside you)
Sure, but what about when poor people get into loving late and all the good partners are gone and their(sic) left as 30 year old bums who have no love life what so ever and there is no chance of getting a partner the normal way. What happens to those people? (what indeed? Tell me about it!!)
Whilst internet dating can be quick and easily accessible, meeting people face to face, wherever that may be, can offer a more intimate and personal experience. (oooer)
Traditional dating can also be dangerous although it is a lot safer if the person you're dating is from your church because you know them better and you also know they're a Godly person. (and their average age is 85)
People can lie on the internet although normally people can lie too although not as easily. eg someone could say they're a guy although they could be a girl, but you can normally tell their gender just by looking at them. (well, I don't know about that.....)
The final corker was from my dear friend Alicia who I cannot quote exactly as she took her essay home to show Mum and Dad her mark (18/20). She finished her very logical and well developed argument with a concluding paragraph along the lines of....

.....and using the internet is a bad idea as you will appear desperate. And anyway, I don't believe you should even be looking because God has a Mr or Miss Right in store for you and they will come along when the time is right after all the bible says
(and here I have to paraphrase) "I have plans for you says The Lord and they are good plans!"
How could I tell her that God's plan for me involved meeting my husband......over the Internet!!!

New Workstation is GO!!

Ta Daaaaah!! My finished desk with all my junk in situ!!!! Well, not quite all my junk. There's a set of drawers, in the old cabinet, that I haven't emptied yet. Designer Husband is very unhappy about the black storage unit I've snuck under the end there. It spoils the line of the desktop where he's cut it off at a beautifully 'designed' angle.

And yes, sadly that is scrapbooking on the desk top there. The marking I should be doing is the black and blue bags under the desk.....as yet unpacked. Which reminds me, I was up 'til 4am the other morning marking and survived the next day at school with only a 30 min nap in the staff room at lunch time. Amazing what a new desk can do for you!

Widening the Audience


Just getting minti to post my external blog......its a blogging 'thing'

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

This is Me

Preparation, marking, preparation, marking, exams, marking, report writing, preparation, marking......................................................

Male Egos and DIY

For sometime now I have been in need of a work station with better bench space for marking copious piles of English essays and Geography tests! My current computer console is very compact and neat and suited my previous home exactly, used as it was in conjunction with the kitchen table. Here though, I have had to spread my mess over two rooms and certain family members are starting to get sick of it! (my plan is working mwahahahaha).

Now my beloved Husband is a very talented man with many artistic credits to his name but he loathes and despises DIY. Rather like me in the kitchen, he feels he is not good at it and he is never satisfied with his efforts so he avoids the whole thing. Most repairs around the place utilise ducktape. Efficient but ugly. Anyway, as a result I had asked a friend's husband (who is an excellent carpenter and rather creative himself) if he would help me create my ideal work station. He was happy to oblige and all we needed to do was get the recycled benchtops from behind our shed, down to his house for power sawing purposes. This relied on Husband's co-operation and as a result....didn't happen.

Instead, like a rag to a bull, the concept of another 'man' doing the jobs Husband sees as his 'role' around his domain, spurred him to great heights. Last weekend we celebrated the birthday of our Monarch (hem hem) and received a Public Holiday for our trouble; Himself saw this as an opportunity to create my ideal workstation. He started by cutting the inch and a quarter thick MDF boards down from one metre in width to 800mm, by hand. It took him all Saturday.

By Sunday the masterwork was ready for assembly and was duly attached to the wall. Unfortunately, the months between storing the MDF behind the shed and retrieving it this weekend, had been rainy ones. The boards had warped and any small scratches or chips in the surface allowed the ingress of water, resulting in a welt-like raising of the surface in a less than charming manner. This required a day of sanding and fiddling until by Monday it was ready for 'finishing'. The original board had been stained with a wood effect stain but this was now so badly damaged as to require a new start. We either stripped the MDF or went over it with something else.

Here Husband came into his own. He raided the shed and found a few half empty tins of paint in red and yellow and proceeded to undercoat the whole thing. He spent the entire day layering, overlayering, dragging, adding a bit of orange (found that in the shed too), relayering, redragging
and generally coating the thing with about 8 layers of paint. It now looks like woodgrain again and I for one am amazed by the transformation......however, I suspect it will take a week to dry.

He tells me today that he is not quite happy with the colour, it's a little too pink, and the surface could do with another sand....sooooooooo....I guess I won't be moving in for awhile. Still, you have to admit it looks great for a guy who hates DIY. And the amount of time he's spent! He must really love me. Or really want his kitchen table back :-D

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Flaming Mother Meets Sputtering but Still Alight Fellow Angel

On the weekend I was faced with one of those parenting challenges.

A phone message from a Mum asked if the Baby Angel would like to attend a disco/movie night at a local (?) theatre with one of the girls from her class. Now I query 'local' as the suburb in question, Glenelg, is, while only being about a 15-20 in drive away, a hub and a magnet for much social interaction in our city, from all areas and for all age ranges. Specifically, I know my young stepson's older (14) sister spends many evenings and weekends 'down The Bay' apparently just wandering and milling about. So immediately my alarm bells went off.

On querying Baby Angel, she acknowledged that there had been some talk at school about the event. No, as far as she knew it was not a party, Youth Club or Sporting Club event. As far as she knew there wouldn't be any other kids from school there and there was very little else she knew about it. More alarm bells.

Now, I don't know if your home town promotes this latest form of 'baby sitting' but it seems to be all the rage here. The first I heard of it was "LAN" nights at internet cafes where kids are 'locked in' to play computer games against each other for anything up to 12 hours!!! Then there were the cinema promotions. "Drop your kids off for a drink, some junk food and a movie, we lock them in and keep 'em there until you pick them up." This one seems to be an extension of the latter with some form of disco in the foyer before the movie. All sirens are now blaring and red lights are flashing.

I explained to Baby Angel that I was uncomfortable with the idea. I didn't know who else would be there and also what age they would be and what experiences she may be exposed to with questionable supervision. If this is as I suspect, I warned, be prepared for me to say no.

I then drew a deep breath and rang the other mother back. This is always the tricky part. How do you express your own values and beliefs, concerns and decisions without a) implicitly criticising theirs and b) potentially damaging the children's friendship?

She confirmed that the event was as I had suspected and that the age range was up to seventeen!!!! Security involved 'not letting them out'.........not good enough. I let her know that I was uncomfortable with the scenario. Who knows what the girls may encounter or be offered? Who were the adults in charge and what were their values? And after all, they are only 12.......there's plenty of time for them to venture into the wide world in the future....even if they are locked in. Not to mention that they both look older which leaves them particularly vunerable.

To my delight and relief the other mother thanked me. She had been unsure but was being pressured by her daughter and had really needed me to talk her 'into' the idea before she said yes! She was relieved that I had clarified her fears and provided rational explanations to give her daughter when she said no.

Baby Angel looked me in the eye after I got off the phone and said,"Thanks Mum, I wasn't really keen on going anyway!"

So there you go. If you need a 'big, bad, mother' to blame for your parenting decisions, blame me! I have BIG shoulders.

Keep that sword aloft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Autumn Days and Nights

The log stove is in action again. It's lovely and cosy and heats up the family room a treat. Of course, it is the only room in the 8 room top floor that does get heated! Downstairs fares worse. There was a gas wall furnace near the kitchen but that died with a bang last year; this is what happens when you mix a leaking roof with an electric power point, but I digress. The gas wall furnace heated a small breakfast room and vented through a wall to usefully heat the next room...the family room. Thus the adjoining room it helpfully heated was the only other room in the house already containing heating! Everything else is icy. All costs and joking aside I am going to get some ducted heating people to come and give us some quotes. It's ridiculous. I'm colder here than I ever was in UK!!!

Mind you, the up-side of the colder days and nights are the beautiful Autumn colours. Baby Angel and I went power walking in the Botanical Gardens this morning. It was a glorious, crisp morning and we had our ipods ready for a good workout.
"Mum, is it ok if we don't use our ipods? Can we just talk?" she asked. "Did you ever think you'd be walking around these gardens with your daughter?"

The Botanic Gardens certainly hold many memories of childhood for me. It was a favourite place for a weekend outing with friends. We fed the ducks, played hide and seek amongst the giant roots of the Moreton Bay fig trees and visited little nooks and crannies like the Brownies' Toadstool which always fascinated me. Naturally we had to find it again this morning! We had a lovely morning and we did eventually put on our ipods for a 20 minute power walk around the rose gardens. We leaped around like loons to our respective 'walking music', she keeping strides ahead of me with her superior length legs, me jogging now and again to keep up. We grinned and gesticulated, choosing convoluted paths for the sake of the walk and racing around beds to meet up on the other side. I think we did plenty of communicating, even if it was to our own personal soundtracks! After all, my 'Drugproof Your Kids' lecturer assures us that communication and integrity are two of the key factors in raising happy kids!