Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Only A Hippopotamus Will Do


Along with all the good cheer, peace on earth and general cosiness, there is a nasty, prickly side to this, arguably our favourite, western holiday.

The expectations built up by Christmas consumerism are immense and destructive. For the last three years I have battled with Himself, carving a trail of misery through our lives with his anger at the guilt and inadequacy spawned by his inability to buy everything he perceives is expected of him. It is a rod made for his own back but fueled by the behaviour of his father decades ago, who filled the parenting hole left by his frequent business absences with large gifts of cash every Christmas. And I mean large.

For three years now I have tried to reason with him on the subject of moderation at Christmas; living within our means; the true meaning of the season and the general ill advisedness of always getting the kids exactly what they want ( the possibility of this resulting in spoiled, ungrateful children was not a link he had made himself). I have described to him some of my most memorable Christmases where, for one reason or another, there was not as much to go around as usual. I described the joy of making things, of making do, to no avail.

"I understand everything you are saying logically," he explained,"but it doesn't change how I feel. I feel that I am unable to provide for my family. I feel like a failure."

I have tried to point out the values lessons which are imparted at Christmas: the joy of giving as well as receiving; value for money; the messages we send in the types of presents we give: personal, educational, things that stimulate family interaction. I have tried to explain to him that sometimes it isn't the cost of the present which is key but rather knowing what it is that your kids want, demonstrating an understanding of their interests and showing that you have listened (this is especially true in the case of older kids).

I have discussed the issue of quality replacing quantity as children get older.

But I am a hypocrite. When I looked at this photo I felt we hadn't done enough.

This Christmas, I watched my 14 year old search in vain for something she had specifically requested which wasn't there.

I didn't 'approve' of it. She didn't cry, she is too old for that, but the disappointment was palpable. Most of the things she received she already knew about

and the 'surprises' were things I valued, not things she values.

Her step brother received just about everything he had put on his list and if he didn't get it from dad then he got it from mum.

But she didn't say a thing and when I hugged her and asked if she was ok she just smiled and said 'of course'. I guess I've taught her to be gracious? Why then did I still feel so bad that I went on ebay and found the rotten 'Gossip Girl' Season 1 dvd set and won it at auction for $19.50?????? She will get it late but she will get it. At least I didn't pay $69.00 for the rubbishy thing!

We are imperfect but we are together.

And these pictures were taken before she knew I'd caved in!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Carols By Candlelight or Babysitting 4 Teenagers

A quilt, a novel, a reindeer songbook and two 'safelight' candles. What do these four items have in common I ask you? Well, here in beautiful Adelaide we have a 65 year old tradition called 'Carols By Candlelight'; held on the banks of the River Torrens, in the shadow of our Festival Theatre, in the heart of the city.

Many years ago there was a permanent 'Sound Shell' on the site and every year the local choirs would mass together to perform parts of Handel's Messiah as well as beautiful renditions of traditional carols. My own mother was part of the Philharmonic Choir which performed annually for several years when I was a pre-schooler. I remember carefully holding the thick white candle inside its wax paper cup as the crowd sang along to 'Oh Little Town of Bethlehem' on the hot December nights.

I haven't been to a Carols evening for many, many years; early 1980s I'd guess! The tradition decrees you get there early and park your blanket to reserve a spot on the riverbank, in view of the stage. Although the show starts at 8pm, we got there at 4.30pm. This is why.You can just see the stage there in the upper right hand corner.

This one is taken looking to my right.

And this is the reason I was there at all.

Yes, I was once more chaperoning the teenagers! This was one of the first outings to a public gathering that the gang had undertaken and two of the other mothers were very glad I was going to sit on my own blanket a metre away from the kids and be thoroughly ignored by them :-) As for the lad's parents....who knows. There seem to be different rules for boys.

The sun was blazing down when we arrived and apart from insisting on (and facilitating in) the wearing of sunscreen by all parties, I had 3 hours to kill virtually on my own. What to do for entertainment?

Don't worry mum, I had a MUCH bigger hat on but the Baby Angel decided I needed a festive hat for the photos.

Gradually the sun sank.
The safeflame candles were lit.

The concert commenced.

And a good time was had by all.

Retail Cheer

How about this?

Himself goes to buy a basketball at a well known sports retail store. He carefully selects a mid range ball suitable to our needs and reasonably priced at $36.99. At the checkout the cashier announces that the ball is $90.00!
"There seems to be a mistake," says Himself, "this ball was marked at $36.99."
"Oh, no," says an arrogant young man behind the counter, "this is a $90.00 ball."

Himself took the young man to the shelf and pointed out the 4 identical balls still in the rack, fronted by a card that read G534 $36.99 (or some such number.. I don't know...it's a basketball!). He pointed out the matchnig serial number on the balls.

"I'm sorry sir, I'm afraid this is a $90.00 ball."

"Look," says my incredibly patient husband (hahahahahahahahahha), "these balls are clearly marked at this price, if you have made a mistake, that's really your problem. It says $36.99 and that's what I'm going to pay for it!"

At this point the young man snatched, you read me right, snatched the ball out of Himself's hands and announced,
"Oh no you're not!"

Himself told him in typically colourful language where he could put his ball and what he could go and do with himself in the meantime and left.

He got a perfectly good ball from K Mart for $20.00. And everyone smiled at him!

Now, I like to ensure that youngsters are aware and educated in the art of life. I think someone needs to have a word with this young man, for his own edification of course. Therefore I went to the internet to try and find a way to send a message to the company. On the webpage I tried 'customer service' and went down several links before reaching a dead end. Then I tried' contact us', which only gave me the option 'orders@....', in frustration I typed 'complaints' into the site's search box.

This is the message I received:

Unfortunately an error has occured on the site. The Rebel Sport technical team are aware of this and are working to fix the problem. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Do you think there is a programmer somewhere having a bit of a laugh???????

Saturday, 19 December 2009

It's All About A Glass Of Water

You wanna see something funny? Scroll down.


This is me about to prove my undying love for my husband by crewing for him in today's race since Small Boy has completely piked out. Do you like my life jacket? That was before Himself realised it was still on the tightest setting as determined by Small Boy. I was relieved when he found a buckle on the back to 'let out' otherwise I may have passed out before we even got into the water.

The morning forecasts were for fresh breezes, 13-15 knots.
"Hmm, that might be a bit lively for a first time out," Himself mused.
Cheerfully, I put away my Volley sandshoes. (You know that only three types of people wear Volleys don't you? Sailors, roof tilers and tennis players and I suspect tennis players have moved on.)

Later that morning, thinking I had dodged a bullet, I was quietly procrastinating with the Rubik's cube. There are levels of procrastination you know. The Rubik's cube is pretty high order time wasting! Himself peered out the window and hurrumphed that it was a 'perfect day' for sailing. "Would sailing be a good form of procrastination?" he enquired, obviously deciding the wind would not be as forceful as it had been forecast. Suddenly, writing an accountability report was starting to look good. But I am nothing if not a woman of my word and so I attired myself (as seen above) and prepared myself for the ordeal.

A word on the attire of sailing. Now, I am sure there are tall, tanned, athletic, blonde haired, great looking girls who look stunning in sailing gear. I am equally sure that most of us look RIDICULOUS!!!!! For a fair skinned, delicate flower like myself whose chief allure lies in make-up and a good hair dryer, sailing and its attendant practical wear is anathema.

By the time we got down to the beach, the wind was up. And I mean up. All the seasoned sailors viewed me with guffaws of delight and disbelief as they realised what I was about to undertake. First there were the comments re couples sailing together: 'on-site divorce lawyers', draw a line in texta through the middle of the boat, learn to say Yes Sir!!!. But then they moved on to the more serious issue: 'how many times have you sailed before?', 'do you know how strong the wind is going to be?', 'are you sure you know what you're doing?'

This photo was NOT taken yesterday. Note the relatively calm seas! I was too busy worrying about a number of things to be taking photos.

So, how did it go? Well, I have never spent a longer 2 and a half hours in my life.
I dunno....as we were going round the course I thought to myself, 'childbirth or sailing?, childbirth or sailing?' I still haven't decided which was worse. Both seemed endless and after each one my first words were, 'I'm never doing that again!'

"Did the size of the waves freak you out?" asked the concerned onlookers as I stood on the beach shivering violently with the trauma of it all.
"No, the ROPES freaked me out!!!!!"

The main problem, apart from me having NO idea of what I was supposed to be doing; being totally unaware of anything other than the boat I was in and the water directly in front of me; and hyperventilating constantly; was that I was technically blind. Unwilling to risk my expensive vari-focal glasses, I set sail with nothing but Himself's sunnies. The combination of the darker tint, my lack of optical focus and a frequent face full of salt water meant that when Himself screamed at me to 'let off the purple and black rope', I screamed back at him,"THEY'RE ALL BLACK!!!!!!!!!!' (This was not strictly true as there was a red one and a yellow one which I could see, but they didn't need adjusting! Well, not yesterday they didn't anyway. )

I managed to stuff up every tack by either: failing to let the jib off, failing to pull the jib on fast enough, failing to rotate the mast, hitting my head on the boom, slipping and falling down the face of the boat as we heeled to 20 degrees off vertical, forgetting to let off the barberhauler (I know..I know...WTF is a barberhauler????) or .....no, maybe that's just about it....

The best part of the day came when we finished. The finishing line was out to sea and afterwards we still had to tack (Oh God NO, Not again!!!) and sail back to the beach. But my ordeal was not over. Our boat has a fixed rudder and our beach has a sand bar which means to get back over the sandbar without ripping your rudder off, you have to put the boat up on quite an angle (higher than this at right). At this point the centreboard, or balancing point of the boat has also been raised to prevent the same ripping off scenario and so the boat becomes very unstable. About 10m from the beach, with me too tired to do anything to help, we lost it and put her over. Now in theory this is not a huge drama; I am supposed to swim to the front of the boat, hold the hose and form a kind of human anchor, the boat will turn herself around into the wind (or something...don't ask me) and Himself then hops onto the protruding centreboard and levers her back into upright position. Theoretically.

The first problem was that I went in next to the mast and sail and got myself tangled in all the ropes (see what I mean about ropes?????). I began to swim over the sail towards the front of the boat and heard Himself shouting from behind the boat. Thinking I was making matters worse by going over the sail I reversed and went around to the back of the boat and swam up next to Himself who was not at ALL impressed by my logic. "Get to the front and GRAB THE NOSE," he bellowed, somewhat unreasonably I thought until I swam past him and suddenly realised I had nothing to hang on to and was being swept further and further away from the boat. I swam harder. I kicked harder. I called out to Himself in distress as he shrieked something undistinguishable at me. Eventually I stopped swimming and just shouted 'Help, help' at the top of my lungs. With incredible relief I saw two friends streaking along the beach to help us. With tears in my eyes I rolled onto my back sobbing with exertion as Himself's furious screaming started to take shape in my brain.


We were in waist deep water.

He's still speaking to me. Just. My damaged physical state has rendered it inadvisable to scold.

That's 'boat burn' a combination of grazes and sunburn where my constant resting on my knees wore off my sunscreen. I have spared you the two multi coloured bruises on either side of my upper thigh where I rested against the side stay track... (metal and sharp!)

So will I ever do it again? I don't know. Like childbirth, the memory fades so quickly. When he asked me why I didn't enjoy it all I could think of was a recent email describing stress. Holding a glass of water in the air is easy for a minute; but try doing it for two and half hours. That's what sailing was like for me.

Oh. And we came third. Out of seven!

Levels of Procrastination

You know when you don't want to do something? You find something else that needs to be done right? I've just washed the dishes and made extra toast and coffee....

I have an accountability report to write and my procrastination has reached new levels. Not only have I completed things which need to be done, I have moved on to something which not only doesn't NEED to be done, it probably is nearly impossible to DO!

I have been doing the Rubik's cube this morning.
I did cheat and use a book though.

Himself has just asked if sailing is a good form of procrastination for me. I had promised I would sail with him today and we have been on and off several times this morning. I now wonder if writing the report is a good form of procrastination from sailing?


Friday, 18 December 2009

This Would Be Why

I've got so much to tell you about.

I have got the most beautiful picture of one of my students and I SO want to post it and show you what an exceptional young man he is and I am frustrated because I know I can't. I even played with puttin' the pic up here but as soon as I saw him there, so vunerable and open, smiling at the camera, I knew I had to take it down.

With all its frustrations and failures, 2009 has been a year of Grace. They take you right up to the wire, these kids. Just when you think there is no point, no hope; the Lord lifts your heart with a glimpse of what they will become. And there's not that many of them. We struggle and fight for them but in each season it is only one or two who turn back to you and smile and let you know it was worth it.

As you may know, this season has been a hard one for me. But then again...it's not about me.

'Gene' came to us in Year 9, out of Africa. He was 14. One of 6 children, he had arrived in Australia with an older sister two years earlier. The rest of his family were scattered across the Ivory Coast where they had fled to escape the war in their own country. No mother, no father, no idea where most of his family were. A ward of the State he arrived in our school with a scowl and an anger deeper and more justified than most of us could fathom.

My first encounter with him was from a distance. I watched him on the basketball courts, testosterone rich, aggressive, laughing maliciously as he commandeered the ball. I remember thinking, 'wow, that is one damaged kid.' To be honest, in that first glance I wondered what we could do for him; what anyone could do for him; to heal the wounds, pierce the armour of mistrust and anger.

Last year he was in my Year 10 Maths class. He came in with attitude.

I don't know what it was about him. Kids come to us all the time with issues, with anger, with attitude; it doesn't necessarily mean you will make a connection with them, most times it means you won't. There was this one lesson I remember............

Gene came in angry. I knew it was nothing to do with maths, with me...it was easy to say to him
'what's up mate? you don't seem yourself.'
He made it quickly apparent that he was not goig to discuss it, especially with ME. I don't know why it felt right but I suddenly felt the need to do something.
"You might not like this and I'm sorry about that but I'd really like to pray for you now."
I didn't give him a chance to object, put my hand on his arm, hunkered down beside him and said what I felt. "Lord there's stuff Gene can't share with anyone now and it's causing him pain and I just pray that you'll ease his pain and fill him with your peace and ......"

To be honest I can't even remember the words and it doesn't really matter. I didn't labour it and when I'd finished, before I stood up and moved off, he said, without looking at me, 'thanks for that.'

Over the year he gave me hell and I gave it back in spades. On one occasion when I'd kept him in to complete work he hadn't done in class he shook his head and said "I don't know, I used to be good at maths, before the war came."

We have no idea what these kids have been through.

Towards the end of the year there was a miracle in Gene's life. Most of his brothers and sister had been located and reunited here in Australia but in the middle of last year, after 6 years, the family finally found their mother. She was flown out here to be reunited weth her family and Gene left school early one day to meet her at the airport. The excitement was impossible to quantify. You have never seen a grin like the one on the face of that cheeky young man as he waited in the foyer for the taxi from Social Services to come and pick him up.

Months later when things had deteriorated and that beaming face had shut down completely I challenged him,
"How's things going with Mum?"
"Oh she just treats me like kid," he spat with contempt.

This young man, who had been spending most week nights in 'dance' battles at the mall with crews of other teens, was being asked to account for his whereabouts; it did not sit well and yet the guilt, over feeling anger with his mother, was enormous. Other members of the family had similar problems. His 24 year old sister moved out and ceased communications with her mother when she disapproved of her boyfriend. Mother felt ashamed in the face of the community's judgement. Gene was caught in the middle.

Once mother came in to school to sign something. Her English was rudimentary and her accent thick. Gene guided her through the procedure and protocol minefield with a tenderness that was overwhelming to behold. Where was the brash, arrogant teen, beating his chest and calling himself 'The Gene'? Was this the same lad who favours hip-hop music with language so raw it would make your eyes water!!!??

Another time he came to me and asked if he could do Year 10 Maths again. He hated it when I offered to help him in class but he wanted to negotiate a time for private lessons because he could see how desperately he needed to pick up his skills. The lessons never eventuated, I suspect they would have clashed with his after school work at KFC, but it was a sign of growing maturity.

So what do I say about Gene? He was an infrequent attendant at Care Group? He never handed up any work? He failed most of the subjects he had enrolled in this year? He sacrificed his place in the Dance performance because he would not give up his allocated shifts at KFC to come in to school for rehearsals in the holidays? He had so many lunch-time detentions for lateness that the powers that be had to negotiate some kind of community service alternative with him? All of this is true. But, the ladies in the Office who had 'use' of him during his 3 days of Community Service, at the end of the year when every other Year 11 had gone on holidays, couldn't speak highly enough of him.

He was helpful, co-operative, friendly, nothing was too much trouble. He came in correctly attired (unlike another, more privileged young man who refused to comply with uniform requirements and eventually chose to end his time at our school), he worked with initiative and he made life for the office staff just that much easier at a very busy and trying time of year.

Once, during the year, as I watched him impatiently sitting through assembly but responding to my requests to listen respectfully, I wondered what would become of him. What could I see him becoming? Truthfully I had no idea and yet, I saw as if in a blinding flash, that whatever he became he would primarily be a loving husband and father.

He's coming back to school next year for his final year. Many of the staff are amazed that he's even bothering but as I keep pointing out, the SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education) is basically an attendence certificate. We should be able to drag him through the hoops; a VET course here, a Community Study there, a practical course perhaps? Carpentry? (or Shop as it is known in some primary settings)....

I don't think it's going to be an easy year; I suspect the all night 'dance battles' will continue and the work will not get handed in.

But he has come such a long way.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Crafty Tuesday (Slightly Late): The Nativity Edition

Greetings on this belated Crafty Tuesday.
This is my first, very rushed and very basic, attempt at making things with my new overlocker. The Kidzone Nativity was scheduled for Sunday morning but horror of horrors, the previous Sunday I had a mere 4 attendees at Kidzone! During the week I rang around and ensured we had sufficient cast members and suggested they dig out some form of costume. I did mention however that there would be a selection of things there to choose from if they couldn't find anything.

Well, with the exception of Mary, a sheep, 2 angels and a shepherd....NONE of the 15 participants had any costumes so it was just as well I'd read up the first few pages of the instruction manual and stayed up until 2am flinging these rudimentary efforts together.

We are lucky to have a family attend the church whose business is making school uniforms and other casual wear. As a result our back room is full of rolls of stretch knit fabric and it was simply a matter of picking a few stripy materials and chopping off what I needed.

I ran up a few sleeveless gowns, a couple with sleeves and a few open coats. Off cuts served as the shepherds headdresses and the long grey gown was eventually worn by Mary. We struggled for Kings on the day but one of the trusty volunteers quickly found some gold cardboard and cut out some crowns whilst another found three small black satin poncho style outfits hanging somewhere. They had been used for a play about space and the planets but they served perfectly well as 'robes' for the astrological Wise Men.

I am so sad I didn't get any pictures.

I think I might add a few King outfits and a Mary shawl to the collection. I am also tempted to have a crack at creating some padded angel wings. In my spare time ;-). The good thing is once you have these things you can reuse them for all sorts of things. Gotta love Bible dress-ups!!!

If you're after some crafty inspiration, click over to Carrie's place and check out Crafty Tuesday.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Last of The Roaring Forties

My friend sent me a birthday greeting on facebook this morning, reminding me that this birthday is the last of my 5th decade. Sheesh.

Happy birthday to me :-(

And how will I spend this birthday, this tenth day before Christmas? Well so far I have loaded the dishwasher; taken No 2 Son in to work; received phonecalls; placed a Nutrimetics order. Now I'm off to work, then to the hairdressers with the BA and finally I have a Sunday School meeting tonight.

About as exciting as befits the end of the forties.

Tomorrow it will be 39C and I'm having some friends over to swim and play boardgames. Himself will be forced to play 'because it's my birthday'! That kind of makes up for today :-)

Sunday, 13 December 2009



I finally bought one! And NOT off stinking ebay! >:-(

A lady from school knew someone who knew someone....anyway they were selling this for $200.00 and from my research on ebay I know they are fetching over $300.00 so, you see? Good things come to those who wait. Even if they do voice their frustration on facebook :-)

And look!!These are some of the nativity costumes I made last night with my new overlocker! I say some because I ended up making seven items!! I am loving this machine :-D

I would have had a nativity picture for you but I took my camera without its memory card in the rush this morning :-( Suffice to say it went off very well and the final tableaux was wonderful.

And now......I'm on holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Over A Week? Wow. Imagine What It Will Be LIke When I Am Fulltime

I knew I hadn't posted for a while but WOW. Over a week. Life is freeway-like at the moment. I can't really even afford to be posting this as I am meant to be marking..but it is so mind numbing.
"Hah," remarked a colleague,"marking maths? Isn't that just tick, tick, tick?"
"Yes. If the children you teach get everything right. In my case it's sort of 'search for a mark'."
Having said that I am excited by the fact that only one of my year 8 babies failed his exam and that may be partly because he didn't take a calculator! I have been working on him all semester (he joined us late) to come to class with a pen and his maths book. Time after time he arrives empty handed. We agreed to have a text book which we keep in the classroom for him and that has helped. I gave him a chocolate every time he remembered his pen. I reminded ALL of them about having calculators and fresh batteries available for the exams. *sigh* I don't know what else I could have done. Perhaps this will teach him something?

In another exam, Y10 Science, I was supporting two girls with mild learning difficulties. The topic was Human Reproduction and the question asked them to describe the journey of the sperm once it entered the vagina. With some prompting it became evident that one of them thought sperm came from women and the other didn't know what it was at all. What had they been doing in class? What will happen to them in the world????? I dread to think.

Last Wednesday was the BA's Graduation from Middle School. Middle School is a new concept here in Australia. It's really just High School but they keep the kids with one form teacher and gradually introduce the concept of moving around classes. Next year in Year 10 they are into full on' find your own room and subject teacher' mode.

It was an emotional night as she leaves her dear friends to start at a new school next year. I do hope we've made the right decision. *sigh*

Isn't it terrible how you don't realise your kid needs a haircut until she's up on stage in her uniform!?

On the weekend we put up the Christmas tree. Well, I kind of left it to the kids.As you can see, Small Boy is a great boon in the process.He got minorly excited about putting up his own mini-tree. This tree is the sort of thing one has to deal with in second marriages. It is a left over from Himself's bachelor days. One year it will quietly disappear. Like that sofa.
Here Small Boy helpfully shoots baskets with ornaments whilst the BA does the whole elder sister thing. She is so mature. See?
I mean, don't we all try on the ornaments as earrings? Of course we do.

And do Madonna impersonations with Christmas wreaths.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


The wind has stopped. I can hear birds chirping! But there is the mother of all fronts coming in over the sea. I think it might be the other side of yesterday's weather pattern. Maybe it will blow everything back over the other way and it will all be straight again? Wonder if that would work on the basketball post that blew over yesterday? Hmm. Maybe not. .....

Where was I?

Oh yes...reports....

"Junior is a lively, social member of the class............."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Oh The Wind Is Blowing Gustily

After the record heat of the previous two weeks, the last few days have descended once more into a wintry bluster. Today has been amazing. The wind has not let up all day, in fact it's doing my head in. It's a bit like the Chinese Water Torture. From time to time rain lashes almost horizontally against the front windows and we can see white caps on the sea. Given that it's about 8km away Himself assures me that these would be waves higher than our house!

I am wedged firmly in the jaws of report writing. Ugh. How many ways can you say, 'This child could not care less about mathematics and makes no effort whatsoever to engage with the curriculum. He would not know homework if he fell over it and the concept of revising for a test is as familiar as Russian metaphysical poetry of the 14th century '?

Occasionally I can slide in a quick, 'works well in class' or 'contributes actively to class discussion' although the latter is not always a good thing; especially when class discussion involves either 'why we shouldn't have to learn maths' or 'what I did on the weekend'.

There has been no sailing for the past two weeks. Last week Small Boy had a birthday party to go to so Himself stomped about like a bear with a sore head who has been deprived of his salmon. This week of course the wind strength meant everything was canceled. The last recorded result was Jester 7th and Gunshot first! I think No 2 Son had a second last week too. At least one member of the family is having a good season.

Oh and The BA's team won their netball last night beating another team from their club who were in the division above but have been dropped down. She put in a scintillating second half after a slow start and was pleased to have found the measure of her opponent whom she has practised against in the past but never beaten.

Small Boy has been playing non stop with his two mates from up the street, of late. The three of them are seemingly inseparable and undeniably boys! This is the kind of spontaneous pose you get when you ask them to smile for the camera. At least Small Boy is well trained!! It's hard to believe he's the oldest of the three of them given his size isn't it?

Other bits and pieces: I've got a cold which came out of nowhere. I feel ok but can't stop sneezing! Very irritating! Also the Small Boy introduced us to a website called 'Grooveshark' where you can find 'any song in the world' he claims and stream it for free! Himself is currently on a quest to find a song that isn't on there. I am being treated to a soundtrack of Yes, Pink Floyd, Nils Lofgren, Rory Gallagher and Lou Reed. Bit of a time warp.

Ah well. I must stop procrastinating. Back to the grindstone. Let's hope this wind lets up soon.

Sunset on the Eucalypts: Nov 09

Thursday, 26 November 2009

For Our Lovely Auntie Middle Sis

Today was a landmark day for the Baby Angel. We went to her new school (my Alma Mater) and acquired her new uniform! Here she models the attractive summer uniform with jumper.The jumper appears to have changed not since my day! As she stood in the changing room grimacing at me and indicating her lack of enthusiasm for the design of said garment, I called to the shop lady,
"Do you have it another colour? I think she'd like another colour."

So here she is in the correct configuration of summer uniform and blazer, which must be worn to and from school if the weather is cooler. (HA!!! Fat chance!!!) Note also the attractive school bag. Oh! I forgot to get her to put the hat on. Bwahahahahahahaha. Sorry, sorry, must pull myself together. Let's face it; we didn't wear the hat when we went to the school either! Well, except for first day of school shots. Here's Middle Sis workin' that hat! Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
And just to prove that I'm unbiased, here is my Baby Sis modelling her uniform in the traditional family way. I think the dress has improved, mind you, it's a close call. Now here is the BA in her new sports uniform. Come on siblings! You have to admit this is an improvement! I tried to get a shot of her socks with the school name running around the top but I couldn't get the camera to focus in so close.!
Now I'm not being selective here. I have looked and looked and cannot find a picture of me in my old school summer uniform! If any of my siblings or parental body can find a pic and email it to me I will be pleased(?) to post it!

And a very quiet shout out to my Middle Sis...cos she will be embarrassed....a shout out of thanks and love from across the miles.

Yesterday In Year 9 Maths Class...........

There's a single stifled giggle from across the classroom, which quickly becomes less stifled and is rapidly joined by others. I glance up from the co-ordinate geometry I am explaining in time to see several red faced pupils, a couple of desks over, looking my way and choking back guffaws.

They are too far away to be the actual source of this hysteria so my super-fast, patented teacher eyes flick down at the speed of an eyelash to take in the 'usual suspect' perched innocently on his chair, right next to me. At about the level of my butt.

Now, had this little angel been bent forward, intent on his probability revision, he would be nowhere near my butt.........but........

"What's going on Luke (not his real name)," I enquire sweetly; voice laced with honeyed venom.
His long lashed, wide eyed mock innocent baby blues look brazenly up into mine. This kid is going for the Oscar.
"Why nothing, Mrs A! I'm just doing my maths."

The stifled mirth around me cracks the dam wall and spills over into fully fledged belly laughs.

This is not good.

As any teacher knows, when you are up against it like this, it is best to work with the humour. Think fast; what has probably been happening? My bent over posture would mean he was pretty close to my butt. Was he making gestures? Sticking something on it? No I would have felt that. Gestures maybe..... I take a chance.

Straightening up I glance down at my rear end and then fix him with a death adder smile.

"Well, Luke, all I can say is I'm glad someone is still interested in my arse after all
these years

His beetroot red flush was gratifying to behold.

The deafening roar of laughter from the rest of his classmates was the icing on the cake.

Who said teaching secondary doesn't have its moments?

Post-Script: Some judicious questioning of his mates, later, leads me to believe that what he was actually doing was taking photos of my butt with his mobile phone! Well, whatever floats your boat I guess!!!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Serenity. Decision Made

Had a discussion with the Principal of the other school on Friday. The field through the gate is not as idyllic as it may first have appeared. Some of the time would be made up by a team teaching position on a year 5/6 class. It decided me. I'm staying where I am for now.

I feel very serene about the decision. Must have been the right one.


Meanwhile I'm watching 4 more overlockers on ebay; Himself is on Kangaroo Island for a few nights and I read 'Twilight' on the weekend. Rats. Addicted.

Where Do I Go Wrong?

Year 11, Language Disordered, ADD and acutely anxious.

For a term now we have been working on mastering the process of finding a percentage of a quantity.

First he does a sheet like this:

Change this percentage to a decimal.

He moves the decimal place back two places and gets 0.235. He does 50 of these in around one minute now.

Next he does a sheet like this:

23.5% of 252.5

He converts to a decimal and puts the numbers into his calculator.
0.235 x 252.5
He does 50 of these in under 4 minutes.

Finally he does a sheet like this:

What is 23.5% of $252.50?

He has to convert the words to a number sentence
23.5% x $252.50
Change the percentage to a decimal
0.235 x $252.50
And put the numbers into the calculator.

Today was his 'exam'. He had three pages: 50 questions like the above on each page. He completed the first page. He mostly completed the second. He froze on the third.

After his exam time was up he came to me and told me he couldn't do the third page, they were just too confusing. He had no idea where to start.

"You've done these problems lots of times before." I protested.
"I don't care, I can't do them today. It's too confusing Mrs A. I don't know what I'm doing."
"But it's exactly the same process as the page before only this time it's in words..."
"I don't care, I can't do it. It's NOT the same. It's too confusing."

I explained the process again. I showed how the three sheets built up, one from the other using the same skills. I gave him another 15 minutes to complete the last page. At the end of the time he came to me and said "It's no use. I can't do them," and flounced away in a state of high anxiety.

What am I missing? Where has my process fallen down. Can someone please give me his perspective because I am at a loss!!!!!!

Still, on a positive note, at the beginning of term he couldn't even do 1 sheet of any type without asking for constant reassurance and asking questions every 30 secs. At least he got through the first two pages unaided today......

Oh. This young man has an average IQ by the way! He has what is called a Specific Learning Difficulty.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

*&^%$#@ EBAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My next overlocker auction ended this evening. Half an hour before I went to place my final bids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was AEDST (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time) and we are ACDST (Australian Central Daylight Savings Time) a fact which escaped me because the last auction item was here in South Australia! AND it went for within my price range.................

It looks like I am not meant to have an overlocker............

Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

And In The Grey Corner....

Thanks to all those bloggy mates with advice on the job dilemma.

Here is the story.

Four years ago I was in a lovely school doing a fulltime job which I really enjoyed. I taught little kids with learning difficulties to read and spell, blundered my way through some Gifted and Talented groups, ran the school's standardised assessment program, liaised with parents, co-ordinated Special Needs and took a group of Y9 boys for Additional English (extra help instead of French). It was great. I loved the staff, my kid went to the same school so transport was not an issue and I got to help out in the primary and secondary musicals which I loved.

Unfortunately, the teacher who had been on leave for two years came back and I had to find new digs. Thus began my strange and unforseen journey into secondary teaching, a journey which has not been without angst and frustration but which occasionally offers glimpses of vivid white light at the end of the tunnel. I am challenged by the secondary kids but I am also motivated and inspired from time to time. I love the staff where I am and I am familiar with the routines and surroundings.

Last week they first school rang to tell me the job had opened up again and would I be interested?

Time and money are big questions here. My current job is 0.76 EFT and this other one would be 0.8-full time. However, my current job is increasing to 0.93 next year and having done the calculations it's only about $70.00 a fortnight more to move.

Some people have suggested I do a pros and cons chart and indeed I have already done one. There are equal amounts of bullet points in each box.

The real question is.....can I be fagged moving? Do I need this upheaval? I don't think I'm in the mood for change despite this post. The trouble is that was Term 2. Since then there has been The Musical and somewhere along the line this year I have let go of a lot of control issues both at work and at home (stop sniggering those of you who know me). I am settled and comfortable.

I am still undecided.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Some Are Lucky, Some Are Not

You know when you're standing in a field and looking over the fence and going, "Gee it looks good over there in that neck of the woods. Boy I'd like to get over there. My life would be SO different if only I could get into that field."

And then someone opens the gate?

And suddenly you're not sure why you wanted to go there in the first place and your own, mud ridden, bumpy patch seems very comfortable, thank you very much, and why on earth would you want to leave?

Well that's how I'm feeling right now.

Any advice? It's job related by the way ;-)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

PS: The Weather Widget Is Asleep Again

It currently says 27C.
Well, yeah! Here under the air conditioning vent MAYBE!!!! I wonder where their thermometer is???????

Bloody Ebay


I lost my overlocker in the last 10 seconds of the auction. Small Boy was by my side and giving me advice on the way.
"30 seconds to go...now you can get worried A"
"OK should I up my maxi,mum bid now?"
"Put it up to $100.00"
"oooo I don't know...that might give too much away, I can just put a max in and be ready to press the button.."
"you should refresh every 10 secs"

"Alright Small Boy, we're down to the last 5 secs....OMG I'VE LOST IT.....
"Quick....up your max! I TOLD you to go to $100"
"QUICK QUICK............."

Too late.

I think I may have sworn.

My highest bid was $98.89 and she won it for $102.50 :-(

I say 'she' of course. I just can't imagine men bidding on overlockers although I guess it must happen.

I have other news to share about a job offer but I'm off to see A Free Family in this disgusting heat so that will have to wait. The Small Boy and his Dad have left for sailing and No2 Son was dragged out of bed too. He is sailing with last year's champion this year so he is feeling pretty good about himself. Last week they won and Himself and Small Boy came second!

I shall have to come up with some 'names' for their boats so I can report race results more quickly, with less key strokes that is.

Hmmmmm.....let's call them....

Jester: Skipper; Himself, Crew; The Small Boy
Gunshot: Skipper; Dee, Crew: No 2 Son
The Other One: the main competition..previous State Champion.

Right. Off to commiserate my ebay loss with The Free Family!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

What I Would Like To Write About If I Had Time

The Hen Night.
The Wedding.
The recent visit of an old friend from Teacher's College.
The two day course on Maths I have just done.
The overlockers I have bids on.
My sick husband (it's like sleeping with a combine harvester...all that tossing and turning).
The school fees for the Baby Angel's new school for next year :-(
My wonderful Mum and Dad who are helping out with the above.
The heat................
Year 11s leaving this week.
Exams. Reports. Marking.
Being made chairperson of the Industrial Relations Committee hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Monday, 9 November 2009

Missing In Action

I admit it. I've kind of been living at ebay and facebook lately! I don't know what's the matter with me; I don't feel like writing. Maybe it's the weather? Over 37c again today and forecast to last til Saturday!! :-(

I'm currently in the market for an overlocker (serger for you US types). I lost out on one the night before the big wedding because I was so busy sewing the BA's dress that I forgot to check on the auction progress. I've got a lot to learn about this ebay thing. Turns out that one didn't do rolled hems which are apparently a big plus and certainly would have been a good thing on the BA's dress (I felt the hem I had painstakingly hand sewn looked neat but heavy; rolled may have been better) so maybe it was for the best.

I've tried to do a little research on the various brands but there's remarkably few user reviews. It's also tricky to find out whether the second hand machines on ebay do the rolled hem and whether they have an automatic setting or need a cumbersome needle and plate change. Predictably, companies are more keen to tell you about their current models.

There's a Janome Mylock 654D (I think) going and I'm in the running but I'm trying to decide whether to go over the Au $150.00 mark. Postage has to be considered as well. Does anyone know this machine and whether it's worth it?

Aside from that I had a very interesting weekend catching up with a friend from Teacher's College whom I hadn't seen for 20 years! She had tried to find me some years ago, phoning everyone in Sydney with my maiden name and asking if I lived there. I was deeply touched. Finally she found me on 'friends reunited' which lists people against their schools and training or tertiary institutions. I signed up for that site in 2000 and am still listed under my maiden name.

I picked her up from the airport on Friday night and we had a wonderful catch-up at the BA's netball match (they won and she played VERY well). Unfortunately, with a sleepy BA on my hands I had to drop her at her accommodation that night and meet up again the next morning.

Boy we can talk!

We talked all through the morning, all through lunch (Italian), all through my drive by tour of the city, scenic trip through the hills to my place, tour of the house, drive back to the city, pre dinner drinks, dinner (Thai) and nightcap. By 11.30pm my eyes were rolling in my head but I attempted to continue carrying on a conversation, surrendering only when I started talking about staircases in my sleep whilst sitting upright at the table!

I camped responsibly over on her couch and then took her to the airport in the morning, after MORE talking.

Well, we had a lot to catch up on :-D

Back to school today and I'm on a course about Numeracy Support for two days. So far it has been quite interesting and challenging. Much of the basic stuff I am familiar with but the challenge is how to apply it to disenfranchised teenage learners.

And just because I have been lazy of late and because you haven't heard much from my classroom babies, try these little beauties from the recent Y8 test on Co-ordinate Geometry and Line Graphs.

A graph is presented showing the weight and length of puppies on the y and x axes respectively. Pupils are asked to order the puppies according to length and then to order them according to weight. Surprise, surprise the order is different. The final question asks:
" Is it true that longer puppies are always heavier? Give a reason for your answer."

Here are some of the responses:

" No because it says Spot 's length is long but he ways (sic) the least of all of the dogs.
I had a dog really short but he weighs a lot."

"Not all the time and it depends what dog it is."

"No because Oscar is the heaviest dog and he is not the longest." (errrrr yes he is.....)

"If a puppy is longer than another it's going to be heavier because it has more fat and skin and bones."


Now I'm off to mark the Year 10 Taxation and Depreciation/Interest tests.

Wish me luck............

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Brightly Dawned Her Wedding Day

After about ten years solo, my Bestie has finally tied the knot with The Amazing Mumford.

Sunday afternoon saw us arriving in the parklands under a savage 36C sunapproaching the vine covered gazebo and witnessing their exchange of vows.

Afterwards we retired to a local hotel for a cocktail reception. That's all I have time for tonight. More juicy details to follow when I am back on en even keel.