Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

What is Wrong With This Picture?

Busy busy busy.

Today I have to try and teach Year 10 what decimal fractions are, write a relief for lessons 7/8, complete a Special Needs Survey in at Head Office (funding depends on it), go to the gym, get my child to netball practice, come home and prepare for a staff meeting talk on Thursday as well as prepare lessons for Thursday.

And this on four hours sleep.


I wonder what will 'give'? Three guesses.

Might not speak to you for a bit......

Monday, 28 April 2008

Best Shot Monday: Chopsticks

(step)Grandma: Do you want to come and play the piano with me?

Small Boy: I can't play the piano......

Grandma: I'll teach you something...

Small Boy: But I caaaaaan't.....

Grandma: Can you count to six?

Small Boy: Yes...

Grandma: Then you can play 'Chopsticks'. Come on. I'll show you.

Small Boy: (unsure).....Weeeeell ......And here he is playing it. I just love that secretly pleased smile! When his Mum came to pick him up the next day he insisted that she come upstairs and listen to him play 'Chopsticks'!!
"When will Grandma be back?" he wanted to know. "When will I get to see her again?"

Not soon enough as far as I am concerned mate.

Have you had any Golden Moments this week? Click over to Mother May I and see what is on offer.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Farewell Until Next Time

Himself came to the rescue and took the Baby Angel to netball so I could go and see Mum and Dad off at the airport.

Here they are saying their last goodbyes. I was playing with the camera's exposure to see if I could compensate for the backlight but as a result I got movement and blur instead. What I need is a good high definition PAS. This fancy schmancy manual jobbie is just beyond me.

We had quite a crowd at the airport with another two families joining me to say goodbye to the 'olds'. It got me thinking about family and extended family and how lucky we are to have both. Growing up in the wilds of Australia, we didn't have our immediate family around us. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived back in the North East of England and so my parents forged new support groups, families with kids around about the same age. These families remain firm friends to this day as the parents all march onwards through their seventies, and in some cases eighties, and the kids dabble in middle age, trying desperately not to get our feet wet. Seeing our parents together somehow keeps us 'the kids'. Kindergarten Friend will know what I mean.

I did my usual weeping. "You must stop doing this!" urged Mum. "You cry when we arrive and cry when we leave..."

Apparently they'll be back before the end of the year although I think once they get back to the UK and see my sisters and their other grandchildren again, life will settle into another, different routine and the long, wearing trip back to this side of the planet will seem less palatable. After all, my niece and nephew deserve some Grandma and Grandad time. Lord knows the BA and Small Boy have benefited from it over here. Who but a (step) grandma has the patience to play endless games of 'Eye Spy' with you in the back seat of the car on a long(ish) drive and who but a grandad can force you to take golf lessons because its a 'valuable skill to have, best learned at a young age.' ??? :-)

As for me? Well, I'll miss having them around the corner (relatively) but I have to tell myself that we are nowhere near as isolated from each other as they were from their own parents in 1962 when we arrived here. In those days you had to book an international telephone call with an operator. Now we have video calls with skype.

Safe travels Mum and Dad. I'll speak to you when you make landfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Oh and your sheets are dry now Mum. I'll make the beds up ready for your return.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Netball Begins With A Bang and a Zoom

Summer netball has been over for 2 weeks and Winter netball is about to commence. This means my Saturdays are no longer my own, not to mention Wednesday nights which is practice night.

This Wednesday was a 'big practice' with new rules from the International Netball Association being announced to all and sundry. They apply from Saturday.
"What about a 'grace' period?" one worried parent/coach/umpire(?) inquired.
"We've had it; it's expired," the President of the Club informed us.

Huh. Not much time to internalise these new rules then. Rules such as

* only one 2 minute injury time allowed per qurter. After that, clear the bodies off the court in 30 secs and make sure it is not the coach doing the clearing or they may use the opportunity to deviously 'coach' some of the still standing players as well.

* make any substitutions and position changes during that 30 secs as well.

* if the ball leaves the court during play, the court remains 'live' and anyone caught in any 'biffo' with the opposition during that time will be penalised as usual.

* repeated infringments of a rule by a player can result in a personal 'warning'. (THIS MEANS YOU BABY ANGEL YOU GRATUITOUS CONTACT-ER)

* if there is an on court emergency (nuclear war? lightning strike?) the Umpire has the discretion to clear the court. No coaches allowed on court at this time (there might be more of that devious coaching while everyone is otherwise distracted!).

* the Timer will call a 30 sec and a 10 sec warning before start of play in each quarter. If a team fails to take the court promptly, the Umpire may award the GAME to the other team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I quite like this one.

I get so narky with the precious little madams as they get drinks and fiddle with their hair clips and fail to listen to their coach, even when she's NOT being devious, at half time etc. The number of times they wander over to us for a cuddle or to whinge about something while the Umpire is calling 'Back on COURT!!" for the third time and they saunter over with that 13 year old
"when I'M ready" look on their faces. >:-(.........I will be quite pleased to see them lose because of it. It's about time they learned to do what they're told!!

Still, not long until Saturday's match to come to terms with all these new regulations. (there were more but I've forgotten them. Not a good sign. And no, we didn't get a written copy.....don't ask me why....something to do with the new rule books not being in print yet....)

Yes, not long indeed until that round of Saturday rosters, scoring, timing and oranges. What am I on this week? Oh yes, timing. Match starts at 3.15pm.....on Saturday......

OH MY GOD!!!!!!

We're meant to be seeing my parents off at the airport as they fly back to the UK for an unknown length of time, on Saturday. AT 3.30PM.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I've already said I'd help out another Mum who can't get there by giving her daughter a lift.

Why does my life have to be so complicated?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Gut Feelings

Scene: At the local Vietnamese Restaurant.

Dad: So what do you think of this idea of Australia becoming a Republic?
Me: Fine. Bound to happen one day. Not a priority though. We manage quite well as it is.
Dad: OK, what about the idea of getting rid of the States?
Me: What? You can't do that!!!
Dad: Why not? This country is over governed. You have 21 million people and 7 legislative parliaments. What a waste of money!
Me: But you can't....get rid of the States....I mean. It just wouldn't be right!!!
Dad: Why not?
Me: because....um...we're all different. A single federal legislature could not effectively represent all it's constituents!!!!
Dad: Nonsense.
(dinner arrives at the table)

Waitress: steak and black bean, chicken and cashew, chili squid and sizzling crocodile.
Dad: So A, will you have some sizzling crocodile?
Me: NO! Thank you.
Dad: Why not?
Me: I don't know....it's just not right to eat something with teeth that big.
Dad: Sounds like the same argument you had for not getting rid of the States....

School is Looming Already

Last night I dreamed I was sacked by my Christian school because I drank too much at a staff party. And I play with my teeth too much in public. My Principal's words. He was very nice about it.

Which demented part of my brain did THAT come from? The teeth bit I mean.

Perhaps I am feeling guilty about my geological post?

Best Shot Monday: Waterfall Gully

Last week Mum and Dad and I took the Small Boy on a walk to Waterfall Gully in the Adelaide Hills. Surprisingly, there was water in it although a much reduced flow as you can see from the stain marks on the rocks behind.
Can you see the rainbow in the spray at the bottom of the falls?
My mother was impressed by the size of the tree roots desperately holding this gum tree up on the path. Click over to Mother May I for other Best Shots for Monday.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

For Those Who Love Learning

Tonight I am going to take you on a journey, a journey through time both ancient and modern.

The cover of the book you see here is safely reproduced, I believe, as it is no longer in print and as one of the authors is my father. It is an excellent publication released circa 1968 and containing a wealth of information on the geology of the Adelaide Region. I bring it to you now as a direct result of the farcical Year 10 Coastal Excursion.

You may (or may not) recall that one of our ‘educational’ stops was at the remarkable

Hallett Cove where “many of the important geological events recorded in South Australia can be studied” (Talbot & Nesbitt 1968 p18). Of course there was a complete lack of interest in this activity by any of my students but I did reflect that although I had a sketchy knowledge of the area gained through the information plaques dotted about the Cove and the question book the students were required to complete, I would love to have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the region.

This is ironic. As a child I had been on the Hallett Cove excursion with my father and his Geology 101 students on a number of occasions. They usually took place on a Saturday and afforded my mother some much needed ‘child free time’ as well as opportunities for father-daughter bonding between said father, my sister and I. It hardly need be said that we gained little in terms of education from these trips, a frequently heard mantra being “Daaaaad. I don’t CARE if that’s a nice example of ‘cross-bedding’.” (I might explain here that cross-bedding is a geological term describing a manner in which sediments have been laid down, not a euphemistic reference to adultery).

But I digress. All those childhood opportunities to fully appreciate the geological history of South Australia were lost in a sea of youthful apathy not dissimilar to that of my Year 10 Geography students. Now however, I had the chance to correct this situation. Mum and Dad are here for one more week and I am on holidays so I suggested to Dad that we spend the morning together visiting Hallett Cove.

I will attempt to encapsulate for the lay person, what I learned from my father last Thursday.

Let us begin with geological time. About 600 million years ago, during the Precambrian period, sedimentary rocks were laid down in shallow water, such as a river delta, and about 500 million years ago they were subjected to enormous pressures probably brought about by a collision of continents or at least the plates upon which the continents rode.

These pressures caused an enormous distortion and uplifting resulting in a massive mountain range running north/south along the current coast of South Australia.

This is what’s left of them.

Over two hundred million years passed. The mighty mountain range was eroded away by the elements. Sediments were probably laid down over the top and eroded away again. The Cambrian period gave way to the Ordovician, the Silurian, the Devonian and the Carboniferous. Rocks were formed and laid down, perhaps twisted and changed, we don’t know. Nothing of this two hundred million year's worth of geological history remains. Instead, at the top of this cliff there exists a geological ‘unconformity’. 270 million year old rocks sitting directly on top of 600 million year old rocks, on an irregular surface polished, scratched and shaped by glaciers.

Imagine the force of ice pressing down over time on this rock. Can you see the large undulations in the surface and the smaller, obvious scratches running approximately north/south? Throughout the Permian period sands and clays were deposited onto the exposed Pre Cambrian bed by the retreating glaciers. These appear as a prominent white and red layers across the landscape and contain boulders called ‘erratics’ dropped by floating ice into the lake sediments below. In the photo below look carefully at the red layer in the centre to see an example of one of these ‘dropstones’.

Once you have spotted it you can start to see more of them scattered throughout the Permian layers.

As you can tell from the amazing shapes and colours in this Permian layer, the soft material is easily eroded and indeed in the following 200 million years, this layer and whatever was once laid over the top of it were again stripped by the elements. The next obvious layer in the geological ‘cake’ is a thin, hard band of calcareous sandstone, approximately 5 million years old and containing numerous marine fossils. This is the Pliocene marine bed.

Here you can see Dad examining it and at about the line of the brim of his hat you can see the sediment cutting through the geological sequence.

Above it, relatively recent layers of alluvial sediments attest to the creation of the Adelaide Hills with streams bearing freshwater sediments now running down towards the marine Pliocene layer. These alluvial sediments were laid down in the last million years, known as the Pleistocene period.

One of the features of these more recent rocks is the records they contain pertaining to climate change. In the middle of the sequence there is a spectacular red and white mottled fossil soil known as laterite. These soils are typically seen in tropical climates where heavy rain has leached the nutrients from the soil leaving, in this case, mainly iron oxide and aluminium silicates.

Here’s an example where the laterite is exposed and weathered resulting in this spectacular outcrop. At the time these rocks were soil, our dry old Adelaide coast was a tropical paradise.

Later, near the top, a ‘kunkar’ layer contains the typical nodules of calcium carbonate formed in dry climate soils. It seems ‘climate change’ is nothing new.

This starkly beautiful landscape is described in the line drawing below. The laterite layer can be clearly seen through the middle of the upper red alluvial deposits. Nature has helpfully exposed an entire 270 million years of history for us here.

Finally, look down the coast at the exposed glacial valley.

Can’t see it?

I love that it is so obvious once you know what you’re looking at.

This is an incredibly brief summary of our amazing morning. I learned so much more about the history of geological discovery, beliefs, misconceptions and revelations. I learned about methods for dating rocks and looking critically at ‘geo-morphology’.

I learned about how much has been added to geological knowledge since my Dad’s book was published 40 years ago.

I came away feeling energised, washed clean and intellectually stimulated. I wondered whether I would have felt the same way at the age of 15 and I had to admit that I probably wouldn’t have. Why then am I surprised by the lack of enthusiasm from my pupils?

As a tiny little spooky post script I found this map in Dad’s book.

Can you see Eden Avenue and the words Sturt Gorge? Well, by use of Google Earth I can tell you that situated around about the position of the first letter T in Sturt, is our house. I wonder if you’d told my Father in 1968 that his 7 year old daughter would one day be married and living on this map, whether he would have believed you?

NB: For those of you who subscribe to the Biblical ideas of 7 day creation and a 6000 year old Earth, remember that for God a million years is but the blink of an eye.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Party Post

Party Ingredients: 12 teenagers, some white boards, 3 bags of costumes, wigs and props, a video camera and operator, one psychotic reindeer and a fabulous TRIFLE (made by my DAD!!!)

Enter the cast of characters. From left to right: Elizabeth Swann, Lucy Lui, Pocahontas, Marilyn Monroe, Catwoman and Elle Woods.

An amused Himself flanked by No2 Son on the right (don't tell him his picture's here!!!!!) as Phil the lawyer from some obscure movie and Small Boy as the 'trusty reindeer' from...any movie with a reindeer in it....we assured him there probably was one....
Also in this shot are Indiana Jones and Jackie Moon from some new movie...is it Semi-Pro?

Now we see the gang settling to begin the Production Meeting (where are the girls?????). That's me in the bottom left hand corner with the white boards. Danny Ocean just visible top right.

Always the teacher we start to brainstorm a plot.

If only I could 'hold' my Maths class like this!!

Now after this Dad left for awhile and missed; the scene where Pocahontas discovers the magic time travelling necklace; the scene in Elle Woods Sorority dorm room where Pocahontas appears out of a cupboard and surprises them all; the scene at a cocktail party where Marilyn Monroe meets Elle Woods; the bank robbery where Danny Ocean double crosses Cat Woman and she takes Pocahontas hostage with the necklace; the scene on Elizabeth Swann's pirate island where the necklace is dropped and lost for 300 years; the scene where Indiana Jones rediscovers it and is transported to the American South where good ole boys Bo and Luke Duke are searching for treasure to 'sayve theyuh fahm'; the shoot-up between the Dukes and Indy and, finally, Danny Ocean (before he was killed...time travel remember) bribing the basketballer to 'throw' the game. It was quite a convoluted 'plot'!!!!!

But he did get back for the big finale where he snapped this shot of the baby Angel looking 'deadly'!

And here is 'Action' in the final scene where Pocahontas is shot by Luke Duke for her necklace...

and the psychotic and grief stricken reindeer mows down the entire cast. As you do.

Please NB special effects lady on the garden dropping money in front of the camera and over the reindeer. It looked quite good even if it did mean 5 takes to get the wind direction sussed.

Of course after such a sterling effort we had to award 'Oscars'...

followed by swimming! I thought they would chicken out when they felt the water temperature but NO!!!! This meant a poolside cake cutting before parents began to arrive to transport the weary cast away to their trailers :-)

All in all an extremely successful day except that we forgot to eat THE TRIFLE in all the poolside business!!!! SORRY DAD!!. We kept half and sent Mum and Dad over to their friend's place to rest and recuperate and eat trifle. (accompanied by G&Ts if the truth be known)

Himself has put together a rough cut of the movie...entitled "Time is Money" (why? who cares?) with a funky interface (play movie, select scenes etc), a music soundtrack, sound effects, special flashing time travel effects and a BLOOPER reel!!!! I would love to post at least SOME of it but I am slightly worried about the ethics of putting other people's kids up on the net (even here is slightly dodgy)!! So you may just have to imagine it.

Dad asked after the event,
"How much could you charge people to run one of these every weekend??"

It would have to be a substantial amount to do this sort of thing for kids I didn't love. It has taken me two days to recover. I take my hat off to professional party organisers.

Oh. And here's the annual cake. Pretend you can't see the name and don't tell my Mum it's up here :-D

Anonymity sucks.

Theme Thursday: Spring

It's not Spring here so the only thing with any 'spring' in it is the Small Boy.

And his mate.

I actually like the second photo better....except for the washing in the background chizz chizz >:-(

Himself could probably 'clone it out' .......

Spring has sprung in the US. For some sensational photography, click the button.

> border="0" />

I LOVE the Holidays

It has taken me longer than I anticipated to recover from The Party! Here I am on Thursday afternoon finally getting down to some blogging. In the meanwhile I have been putting the house back together from photos (you know, like after the bombing post WWII), doing 'kid things' and spending time with my Mum and Dad who leave on the 26th :-( *sniff sniff*

But I just wanted to throw a few things into the wind before I work on The Party post.

Firstly: what is the world coming to? The Japanese have invented a toy which simulates the sound and feel of popping bubble wrap. They are apparently selling like.....I don't know.....bubble wrap???

Secondly: I believe all the work I did on the BA's music appreciation both when she was in utero and when we travelled long distances by car (We'll have one tape of yours then one of mine. Deal?) has paid off. Her new favourite artists are The White Stripes with most played song being Ball & a Biscuit (see my playlist). She has also informed me that she intends to play 'Fat Bottomed Girls' for me at my funeral. Thanks for that BA. (quite appropriate really)

Thirdly: Did I mention I LOVE holidays?????????

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Hollywood Stars

How about this? Cool huh? I found it by accident whilst looking for Hollywood Stars as a model for The Cake. As a result I was able to make an individualised star for each attendee at the party yesterday.

I was going to post something last night but after icing cake until 2.30am and then being up at 6.45am to finish cooking cupcakes etc, I crashed with the kids at around 9pm. Himself, who had also been up at 6.45am due to an 8am breakfast meeting, was up til 2.30am putting together the rough cut of The Movie!!!!!!! He's still in bed now.

So, what did I do with all those stars?
Here is Elle Woods with her $8.00 op shop dress and her own personal star, standing on the 'red carpet' (hessian) on the Walk of Fame!

Remind me to re-tile the hideous front hall.

Going to the gym now.

Will post more when I get back.

Dad (aka the paparazzi) took LOADS of photos!!!!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Best Shot Monday: Rudolph's Rampage

Does anyone else notice the interesting juxtaposition here? The reindeer carrying a machine gun?


Just me then.

We're having a party on Tuesday. It's not actually the BA's 13th birthday (until May) but a friend from Queensland is here this week for the school holidays and so we have taken the opportunity to have an early birthday party with a 'Movie' theme.

Guests have been asked to come dressed as actors/actresses or as a character from a movie. We will be setting them the challenge of working all the characters into one plot and filming the whole thing at the party.

I have suitcases full of old clothes for costumes and bizarre props. Himself has been co-erced into using his commercial movie-making skills to video the proceedings and make up a DVD which all kids will be given (later) as a momento. We are thinking of having a red carpet, Hollywood Walk of Fame Stars and gold sprayed Oscars as goodie bags!!! And all this within 24 hours.

What am I thinking?

Anyway, the Small Boy is here for the week and (much to the BA's chagrin: why does HE have to come?.... because he's your brother...) will be at the party. He has assigned himself my helper and has decided to come dressed as a reindeer. Of course. What else????

The BA has chosen Reece Witherspoon from 'Legally Blonde' and Saturday saw us combing the Op Shops for a suitably vile pink outfit. We found a few. The Small Boy was not to be left out.
"What about my reindeer costume? When are we going to look for that????"

With a vile pink dress and hideous pink strappy sandals purchased, I set my mind to the task of finding 'reindeer' clothes!! :-(
This is what we eventually came up with. Yes, I know they are leopard skin (or cheetah as Small Boy insists) but they are faux fur and he is happy with them. And they only cost me $3.00 so I am laughing. He hasn't had them off except to sleep and shower in the last 24 hours!!!! That's what I call value for money.

His father has pronounced them 'gay' but I admonished him severely saying that for a child as sensitive as this one, who spends so much of his time emulating older, idiotic siblings and who will normally not wear something unless it is 'skate' brand, happily playing a game of make believe is a wonderful thing. It's evidence of his still tangible childhood. Don't ruin it for him!!!!! Father grunted and rolled his eyes but said no more.

He also has a denim sleeveless jacket with fur around the collar to complete the ensemble.

Today we have been printing out Walk of Fame Stars and buying plastic ten pin bowling pins which we've spray painted gold to represent Oscars. Since there are only 10 pins and twelve kids coming, two are getting 'Golden Globe' awards. (The bowling balls sprayed gold.)

Tonight I am doing the infamous yearly cake as well as making some cupcakes and some savoury stuff. I don't know why I am putting myself through this kitchen hell but it is tradition and I kind of feel that your kid's party requires a certain level of involvement and the personal touch. I did buy party pies and sausage rolls however. I'm not a complete idiot.

This morning No2 Son and I had an argument over the party.
"Good parties don't need planning. They just happen. You shouldn't be so prescriptive about what you're going to do. At 13 they deserve to be left alone to decide what they want to do themselves."
"In MY house? I think not."
"When I was little we didn't go to these lengths to plan birthday parties. If I said we wanted a water fight we just had one. It just kind of happened."
"Yes, well, I like to plan theme parties. It's what I've always done." (not strictly true. For a couple of years we did 'Ice Rink' parties and 'Swimming Centre' parties and even a 'couple of friends at the movies' party!)
"Well, I think you are overplanning. Just let the kids get here and amuse themselves."
"How about you do parties your way and I'll do my parties mine?" (through gritted teeth)

So. Wish us luck for tomorrow. At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether they make a good short film or not. It doesn't matter if we don't get through eveything. It doesn't even matter if we don't eat everything. Just so long as they have a good time and don't wreck anything!!!!!!!!

Hop on over to Mother May I to see what others have been up to with their photography this week.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Please Miss: What does this look like to you????

The Baby Angel reminded me of the last story (I promise) from the Year 10 Excursion.

"Mum," she asked, "did you tell them about the boys and 'it's a penis miss'.....?????"

How had that one momentarily slipped my mind?

It was part of the lunch stop. The same one where we'd had the food fight. I had wandered across the park, past a group of lads, just as one of them said loudly, and explosively, "Look dude, this water bottle is shaped like a PENIS!!!!"

The group immediately realised that I had overheard this observational revelation so they naturally fell about shrieking with laughter and looking expectantly at me to see my reaction.

It had been a long morning. The last thing I felt like doing was trying to discipline ferral fourteen year old testosterone ridden boys over their inappropriate language in a public place. And anyway, was it inappropriate? I mean, at least they didn't bellow 'dick' or any number of other unsavoury euphemisms through public airspace. I simply rolled my eyes at them, smiled and said.......actually, I can't remember exactly what I said. It may have been, 'really boys, exactly how many penis jokes do we have to hear before you tire of them?' or ' this preoccupation with penises is concerning boys...you must spend a lot of time looking at them...' or simply ' are all penises that funny?'. I can't remember. Maybe those were things I wish I'd said! Regardless, it was an attempt at flippant humour and it backfired radically. They shrieked with laughter all the more.

"Miss said penis!!!!!She said penis!!!!"

They ran off in the opposite direction, still shrieking with laughter and when I passed them a few minutes later they were all lined up with the few extra friends who obviously didn't believe them and were here for the evidence. I could tell what was coming so I gave them the royal wave as I walked past and they all caterwauled
'penis miss, penis penis penis...bwahahahahahahahahaha'...........

*sigh* the things you have to put up with.

As a foot note I might add that they tried it again the next day at school but were a little more subdued due to their surroundings. I came up close to them this time and told them they'd gone far enough and that the joke needed to stop now. It's all about knowing where the line is boys...

To their credit they did pull their heads in. Far enough to gaze on their own penises.

I left them to their reverie.

image credit

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Attrition and Abrasion of the Soul

As I dragged myself into the staffroom at 3pm, hot, sweaty, flushed and hanging out for a coffee, one of my colleagues entered from another door and innocently inquired as to where I'd been all day. "Out with the Year 10s to the coast," was my loaded reply and she grinned sympathetically and asked where we had taken them.

"Who cares?" I let fly. "We could have driven up and down the coast all day stopping at random intervals to let them off the bus and then loading them back on and they would have learned just about the same amount!"

My colleague shrieked with laughter as I continued. "We took them to Hallet Cove (above) where they complained bitterly about how they had to walk for miles and miles and miles and why couldn't the bus meet us at the end of the walk and why did we have to walk back again and why wasn't there a kiosk and why did we have to be on an excursion and 'this excursion sucks' and why do we have to walk along a beach????"

Hell. Poor kids. We made them WALK ALONG A BEACH. Someone should inform the United Nations or the NAPCC.

Then there was the steep walk down the 'hell stairs' that 'sucked' and were 'retarded' to the beach where they found CRABS!! And KILLED them! Yes folks. Leave a group of 14 year old boys alone with crabs on a beach for 3 minutes and they organise a crab fight and finish it off by smashing the crabs with rocks except for Bob who 'only killed it to put it out of its misery because it was already half dead because Phil had smashed it.....'

You think I'm making this up don't you?

Then you round them up and herd them up the 'retarded' stairs and why do we have to walk so far and I'm hot and I need a drink and I'm hungry and I didn't know there wasn't a kiosk here...what do you mean it was on the permission form Miss? Who reads those? And where are we going now and will there be a kiosk? and why do we have to do this anyway and I don't want to go on this bus I want to go with my friend on the other bus and now I've lost my bag...oh I think I left it on the other bus and how long will this take miss and what are the answers and oh I'll fill them in on the bus....

So we get to the next stop where we have lunch. We're already 45 minutes behind schedule and most of my educational interactions with the kids consist of 'hurry up', 'walk faster' and 'you're not in our group...go back to your teacher'. We arrive at the park for lunch and the lead teacher has already phoned us on the mobile to say don't worry about doing the questions at this stop, just read out the answers on the bus. We sit down in the beautiful weather (rain held off) and watch a group of 14 year old boys begin to engage in a food throwing contest across the park.

"Pick up the apples!!!!!!"

"But Miss, they'll biodegrade."

"Great! Let them do it in the bin."
(And you will biodegrade nicely too you little toerag if I terminate your miserable existence now as I am tempted to do and as you had no qualms about doing to the CRABS!!!! spoken under my breath)

OK. Back on the bus. What have we learned so far? Nothing at the extraordinarily beautiful cove with the phenomenal examples of glacial striations, erratics and spectacular wave cut platform with remarkable folding and weathering. Unless you count how much force it takes to kill a crab with a rock. OK maybe something then. Nothing at the picturesque historic park on the headland which was once the regular camp of the traditional Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. Check. So where to now? Let's try looking at the urban uses of the coast further north towards the city and in particular the development of sea wall technology.

Or let's just see how much we can offend the proprietors of the local cafe by loudly accusing them of putting up prices for the students and asking to buy cigarettes whilst in school uniform.

You get the picture.

Actually I managed, through some divine intervention perhaps, to keep a sense of humour throughout most of this. At one point I saw one of my colleagues with his group gathered around his feet explaining intently and passionately how the glaciers had moved through the area and how the wave cut platform had been smoothed by the action of the sea. A glance at the bored faces of his 'audience' had reduced another colleague and I to helpless tears of laughter (unkind I know) and as he trailed up the 'hell' stairs past us we managed to stifle our snorting and call encouragingly to him;

Pearls before swine mate! Pearls before swine!!!!!!!!!!!!

You gotta laugh.

image credit

I Reeeeeally CAN'T Get Out Of It Can I?

OK. The day has dawned. There is a possibility of rain to add to the mix. My prayed for gastric bug has not eventuated. I am eyeing the razors.........

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Best Shot Monday: The Turtle, or is it a Tortoise?

This is the best I have to offer from last week. It's the only photo I can post from our trip to the zoo with year 9! I must say I love the striking green of the pond weed and who can resist a turtle anyway?

The zoo trip was relatively painfree I am relieved to report after last year when we had to send someone back to school in a taxi for deliberately throwing a small hard object at another student's face! No, this year the most trying part was the amount of walking we had to do from one end of town to the other as we took in a tourism walk, a walk through the Rainforest Conservatory of the Botanic Gardens and finally the Rainforest Immersion Display at the zoo.

As on most school excursions, the students had a booklet to fill in which required them answering questions along the route. Well, typically, I lost count of the number of times I had to suggest to a pupil that they get their booklet out of their bag and fill in the answers which I was in the process of supplying! Yes, you read right. Students nowadays do not FIND the answers to questions on a field trip, they are given them by the teacher and the only challenging thing they have to do is write them down quickly enough to be ready when the teacher goes on to the next question! It's pathetic but if you didn't do it they wouldn't write a thing down!!!! I sometimes wonder, even with all the amazing quality 'sights' we have to experience nowadays, whether we should bother leaving the classroom. After our 'set' walks the kids were given 40 minutes free time to wander the zoo and get the answers to some 'bonus' questions. This enabled them to look at some of the other 'non' rainforest animals such as the ever popular meerkats. We teachers headed to the central cafe rendezvous point to await their return for lunch only to find the tables full of our pupils after 15 minutes. Apparently that's all the zoo you need to see at 14. :-)

This week I have the dubious privilege of 'volunteering' for the Year 10 Geography 'Coastal' excursion to wonderful places like Hallett Cove just south of the city. This group are the hideous year nines from last year and as the dread day approaches I find myself wondering if the terrible gastric bug reputedly lurking in Adelaide's environs at present, is not currently incubating in my lower digestive tract. I feel sure it must be. Surely.

What could be so bad about a day trip to the beach I hear you ask? You do not know these students. These are the group involved in the notorious 'Water Bomb' outing last year. The group who, on their camp earlier this year managed 2 broken ankles, a sprained wrist and to shut down the swimming pool by throwing cow 'pats' in the water. The group who walked away from the dining hall leaving more food on the floor and walls than either in their bellies or on their plates. The group who argued blind with me that a single Wikipedia reference was a sufficient bibliography for a research essay and that there was no need to reference 'books' as the teacher wouldn't be able to 'check up' on them!!!!!!!

Wish me luck. I am sure it will be an eventful day. I only pray we don't have to fill in any police reports afterwards.

Click over to 'Mother May I' where the gang will be sharing some inspirational photography with, hopefully, minimal police presence.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Big Wish Bike Ride 2009

Last Thursday night I spent a bit of time with a lovely friend of ours, Margaret, who is one of those people whose energy level makes you feel like a couch potato! As well as being a devoted wife and mother of 3 boys she works tirelessly for charity, her favourite being
'Make A Wish Australia' who grant wishes to seriously ill children and their families.

Next year Margaret is involved in the 2009 'Big Wish Bike Ride' where two 'crazy' but dedicated athletes are cycling from Adelaide to Perth in 21 days!!!!! On Thursday I showed her how to set up a blogsite in order to journal the lead up to, and of course the events of, the ride as it happens.

Now Margaret is a born blogger and is desperate to get involved in the blogging community. I have given her a small hand setting her blog up, but there is so much I don't know, like how to make buttons for her sidebar and get paypal onto her site. She also is asking for ideas about how to make her blog more visible so I think the best thing I can do for her is to direct some of my lovely and talented readers over to her new site and get you all to answer some of her questions!

Have a lovely week everyone! (1 week until the school holidays here !!!!!!!!!!)

Lightbulb Moments

I have had two revelations this week.

I have become more and more painfully aware that unlike the majority of the female gender, I do not multi task well. On the days that I have a moderately good lesson or two at school, I become acutely attuned to the filthy and unloved state of my house/car/garden. On a day after a house cleaning binge I invariably have dreadful lessons because I have not 'prepped' sufficiently.

On the occasions that I cook dinner we eat at 8.00pm because I have been simultaneously helping the BA with her homework/piano practice/emotional angst or trying to clean the kitchen as I go.

Himself is a wonderful husband because he does not say things to me like
"You never finish anything." or "What are you meant to be doing." or "don't whinge to me about stress when you waste half your life on your blog..." . No, he says nothing like this. Although, occasionally lately he has made pointed comments like "So what time do you think we will be eating?" or "Do you need this mop and bucket anymore?" (finding them in the bathroom after half an hour with nothing mopped yet....).

I think one of my problems is this Asperger's-ish tendency to detail. I start to do something on a big scale and become ensnared by the small scale. I cannot simply wipe the benches, I need to scrub the wall tiles and spray everything with mould killer. I start to sort the washing and when putting some of it away I end up sorting my daughter's drawers. When I am cooking dinner and the BA asks about finding the area of an irregular shape, I cannot simply leave her to it with a brief exhortation to 'look at the example' but must instead drop everything to divide up the shape into rectangles and show her how the geometric laws enable us to deduce the length of the mystery side. Dinner is late again. This may be why Himself does a lot of the cooking :-)

It would be fair to say that it is rather late in my life to be having this revelation.

The second revelation I had this week was about my students.

I attended the second day of a course on Wednesday. It had been a late-ish night I guess and an early morning as I had to get the BA to her bus and then into school to drop off my reliefs before braving the traffic and the storm to get down to Glenelg. I had thoroughly enjoyed the first day of the course and had no reason to believe that I would not similarly reap the benefits of a second day focussed on 'differentiating Maths in the Middle School Curriculum'.

I felt a bit tired on arrival but had a quick coffee and started to 'fire'. The first activity involved the group creating 5 complete squares from a handful of tangram pieces without speaking or indicating. The only thing you were allowed to do was give a piece or pieces away. Four of us quickly completed our squares leaving the unfortunate fifth group member under the full spotlight glare of four pairs of eyes. No pressure there. For some reason she could not arrange the 3 pieces to form a square.

The rest of us of course could see exactly what she needed to do but were unable to help her. One pushed her completed square at our unfortunate colleague who laughed and returned the pieces, seemingly to the amusement of the donating colleague. I think she may have tried again and got a similar response and I remember thinking 'what is she doing? Is she trying to show the other woman how to make the square by showing her pieces???? That doesn't make sense, they are different squares!!!' Silly me.

Eventually after a period of great frustration and a few clues, the confounded colleague reversed two pieces and completed the puzzle. When we were asked to analyse our group interactions, the question arose as to why we had not simply handed the paralysed colleague one of our squares and allowed her to relinquish her pieces in order that we complete the puzzle as a team.

Of course. That was what our friend had tried to do. And we had completely failed to see what she was doing, or think of it ourselves. In fact, all I could think of was "I didn't think we were allowed to do that!!" It was only the beginning of a day full of 'failure to launches' on my part.

On the next activity I missed a vital instruction, and misinterpreted the next. I was lost. I asked my neighbour and thus missed the next instruction. I gave up on the activity. I was angry with myself.

We had been given a series of handouts, unsorted and similar in appearance. When asked to find one, I was confused as to which of two similar front pages was the correct item. "The one without the pictures on the back" came the advice. I flipped both over. Neither had pictures on the back. I turned angrily to my neighbour who patiently took the sheaf of pages and flipped to the last page. One had pictures the other didn't. How could I have made that mistake?

And so it continued all day. I realised at morning tea that I was exhausted and not functioning properly so I had one of my famous catnaps on the floor which did help to some degree. But before lunch we were asked to 'plan a unit of work' and I realised with sickening certainty that I did not even have an idea of unit of work I needed to plan! The problem with special ed is that you are constantly trying to find where the students are 'at' in order to plan for what to teach them. At the moment I do not even know where they're at. :-( More importantly, I don't know where I'm at.

The upshot of all of this was that I was suddenly and sickeningly placed in the position of my students. My own rapid fire explanations and knowledge of my own handouts was laid bare before me. The ease with which a seemingly obvious instruction can be misinterpreted was both frightening and illuminating. Th feeling of inadequacy created such a well of anger in me that I was almost overwhelmed.

I knew exactly how my students felt.

The saving grace for me was that I know I am capable of doing all the maths presented that day and of interpreting all the instructions. I've done it before. I have my Matric in double maths (albeit from 30 years ago). I knew I was tired. I knew I was not operating at full throttle.

But what about my kids? Most of the time they are doing the best they can. Often they are tired or unable to concentrate due to attention deficit difficulties, epilepsy or being 14. They know with the same certainty that I know I can do it, that they cannot do it. They never have. They have always failed in this subject. I gave up after one game. Why am I surprised when they give up before they enter the room?

So with this insight, what do I do? Perhaps just be a little more patient with them? Perhaps make it more fun? More of a game? Perhaps take it less personally when they completely ignore me in the classroom? It is tough but it is something which I have to consider.

On Thursday and Friday I had quite calm and engaging lessons with both Years 9 and 10. I'm not sure what they learned. Perhaps nothing? But at least we weren't battling each other all the way to the bell.

Image credits: Midvale School: Gary Larson
Light bulb: http://gallery.hd.org/_virtual/ByAuthor/AHD/

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Truthy Weirdness

Two things to post tonight, a Truthiness photo (what am I thinking??????) and a meme.

Now is it just me but do many people exhibit a similar expression when taking their own photo, especially without makeup?????

I have not bothered to do ANYTHING to this photo as a) it is not worth it and b) we are supposed to be being truthy. Thanks for this prompt Tracy.

Good grief, when did those lines get so deep? Do NOT view this photo large folks. I repeat do NOT....

And now for Melody. The Seven Weird Things meme. I have done this in another guise as a Seven Random Things meme but to make it weird was challenging.

Me: Can you think of 7 weird things about me?
Himself: Why would I want to do that?
Me: It's for a meme...
Himself: Well, you married me for one, that was pretty weird.
Me: (outraged) Not at all!!!!! I'd do it all over again. No, I want something reeeally weird.
Himself: Well, you snore like a man.
Me: (protesting) Only when I'm drunk!
Himself: What's your point?
Me: No really......I need 7 things
Himself: Well actually...you're not that weird.
Me: So...I'm boring?
Himself: (snorts) No. You're just not......(searches for a better word, fails to find one) weird.

So now...Seven Weird Things About Me

1. I met my husband through an internet dating service and married him within 6 months.
With all its ups and downs, still one of my better decisions.

2. I snore like a man. I also laugh like a man and if it was within my earthly powers I would also p*** like a man as it would be SO much easier, especially when camping.

3. I can sleep anywhere. I mean anywhere. I frequently sleep under my desk or in an alcove in my office...on the floor. Last year I slept at lunchtime on the sofas in the staff room...in full view of all staff (that was before I had an alcove). Well, it was lunchtime. My boss once thought I was dead when he came upon me asleep under my desk. I might point out I was on my own time at that point. One of my students made me a sign saying 'Sleeping Beauty within'. She made it when I was asleep and stuck it on my office door. I still have it :-)

4. I eat peanut butter out of the jar. On a spoon.

5. I eat the tails of prawns. I draw the line at heads.

6. I am generally half an hour late for everything. Except when its reeeally important, then I am only 5 minutes late. This can be crucial when catching a plane.

7. I do not think this is weird but my family says it is. I like to read all the information on all the plaques at the museum. Why else are they there?????????

Phew. That was harder than I thought it would be!

No tags from me but happy to read any weird fact from any of you if you'd like to join in!!!!