Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cakes: The Gallery

My Mum has started commenting on the blog! I LOVE it!! She still hasn't figured out how to giver herself a name but oh well, I know who she is!! :-)

Here's her comment from yesterday.

"I never cease to be amazed at the inventiveness of you modern Mums with birthday cake designs.It makes me remember my valiant efforts with rabbit faces,koala faces, bear faces all cut out from basic round shaped cake tins.I do however remember making ,or trying to make, a toadstool cake with a swiss roll tin shaped stalk and a round tin shaped top. The only trouble was that the stalk wasn`t strong enough to hold up the top! I battled on with skewers to hold it together and surrounded it with "green "shredded coconut grass" and marshmallow rabbits!!Anyway it got gobbled up in one tenth of the speed spent making it!!!!After many years of making cakes for three childrens birthdays all I can say is "I TRIED"Good luck to all you modern Mums and Dads."

Now that couldn't go by without me trying to find a photo of the aforementioned toadstool cake.

In my travels around external hard drive albums I found these pieces of evidence:

This is the only picture I could find of the rabbit birthday cake, which was my second. That's me on the left, the iridescent redhead amidst a tribe of tanned Aussies (even though they came out on the boat from England with us at exactly the same time......sheesh....some things just aren't fair...or in my case....they are always fair! hahahahaha).

This is my 8th birthday. Sadly, that is me up the end of the table in yellow. Middle Sis is two to my right with her hand covering her face and Little Sis is under that pink floral dress of Mum's and not due to make an appearance for another 4 months. The Bestie is in there too but she's chowing down on the far left of the picture so you can't see her face either.

Awww, what the heck, here's another one. Shows the cake better as well as Middle Sis at bottom right and Bestie at top right. Now this is how parties were done in the 60s. Crepe paper runner on the table and home made party hats. Pretty special I think. Simple enough but beats all those 'shop bought' things.

Now here's another one from a few years later. This is Middle Sis' 7th birthday. That sylph-like girlish figure on the left is my mother! Gee Mum, you look about 16 here. Oh! And the curtains have changed.

Got to say though that this cake looks pretty straightforward Mum.....three kids and return from an overseas trip catching up with you at that stage???

So while we are on the topic, I decided to do something I have been meaning to do for a while, and make a gallery of all my cakes. As it is the only cooking I do (unlike my hard working mum who was not often relieved in the kitchen) I can afford to make a fuss of them!

Unfortunately, I do not have a still shot of the Baby Angel's first birthday cake, which was a (pretty impressive) clown. I appeal to all of our English friends out there as well as my Middle Sis who was wielding a video on the day, to search their archives and see if they have a picture of her first birthday cake. I don't know what I was thinking letting the photo op slip past. Guess I was new at this 'birthday' thing.

But here is her second birthday cake. It's a crocodile. Or a snake. Whatever. I copied it from a book.

Number 3 came from the same book and Mum, I'm sorry, I take back everything I said about 'shop bought' things. Actually, I suspect you bought the plates and table cloth here? The cake is a couple of jaguars back to back. I think.

I tended to do a big party every alternate year and this next one, her 4th, was not one of those. We had a few friends over for cake and coffee and once more, I didn't get a proper picture of the cake before we cut it. From this year forward, the cake choices reflect the BA's story or movie fixation at the time. In 1998 she was all about 'The Little Mermaid'. We had all the characters in the bath, a Barbie style Ariel which changed colour in the water and I think Grandma had bought her the mermaid costume too. I made this cake up myself which is why it doesn't even mildly resemble Disney's Ariel.

So the 5th birthday was a biggie. 24 kids from school and we used the Church Hall. The Baby Angel was obsessed with Robin Hood having watched the Disney video and listened to the audio book in the car. We organised a full on medieval style 'carnival' complete with hired bouncy castle (King John's castle), a skittle alley, hat making, archery target with those sucker arrows (had to keep the dads away from that one!) knocking Little John off a log with a pool noodle and Friar Tuck in full regalia making less than medieval balloon animals. At the end we put King John and the Sherriff in a set of stocks and pelted them with tomatoes (ping pong balls).
The cake was copied from a fairy castle in a book but I was under strict instructions from the BA to make it a Robin Hood castle; nothing pink or fancy. This was one year that I cheated and bought the cakes that went under the icing. With my history hat on I can now say those towers were not medieval and definitely not in the Norman style but, oh well. I don't think the 5 year olds were paying that much attention to detail.

On her 6th birthday she was obsessed with Treasure Island and although the party was small, we still did a whole lot of pirate related games: 'Pass the Black Spot', 'Treasure Hunt' and something to do with sword fighting and walking the plank!

This cake came from a book and again I think my mum bought the table cloth and napkins! (maybe not...my memory is hopeless nowadays). That's a chest of 'smartie' treasure at the front. Don't ask me why the mountains at the back are purple...that's how they were in the picture!
(PS: note healthy baby tomato party food?)

For her 7th birthday the movie obsession was 'Monsters Inc'. The less said about this party the better as it was the one where the BA lost it and spent most of the day under a table or sitting on our friend's lap! Still, the cake was good. This was my first attempt at copying something from a cartoon or picture book. It was also our last birthday in the UK.

In 2003, her 8th birthday, we were in Australia and she was obsessed with 'X Men'.

This is one of my least favourite cakes but I had such a lot of trouble trying to find an image to represent 'X Men' without having to try and replicate faces. I found this logo and tried valiantly to reproduce it.

I know. But you have to admit it was a tough call..
For that cake I bought silver burnishing powder and real black icing for the first time.

Onto her 9th birthday. 'Scooby Doo' was the DVD of the day.

On her 10th we had a hiatus from film obsessions and she perused the cake icing book and chose this one:
It was kinda fun to do as she helped make the toys that went on the top.

Now, her 11th birthday. By then I was married and birthdays were a whole new deal. Here are the gang wearing hats related to their own age which all equal 11. And I wasn't even a Maths teacher at this point! (Mine's on the table next to the BA, guess how old I was?)

As you can see, the cake instruction that year was simply: decadent chocolate. This had chocolate icing and chocolate drops in white and dark choc scattered all over it. It doesn't look much but as I recall it tasted great!!

But by her 12th I was back in cake making mode. Here is her ipod. It was her current obsession.

Her 13th birthday was the infamous movie party. I thought this one turned out well.

For her 14th we went to see 'Phantom of the Opera' and she was obsessed by that.

And her 15th was the 'working girl' themed Big Mac:

But now with all that I still haven't managed to find a picture of mum's toadstool cake! I'll be emailing dad and hopefully have that to add later.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Gettin' My Blog Back On

Well, this is harder than I thought it would be. I said to Himself tonight that I needed to post but I just didn't know where to start! I have been absent such a lot lately I feel like I have got out of the habit of observing life.

Plenty has been happening and occasionally I pick up a camera. Here's one for example.

On this day it was just so green and blue out there I needed to try and capture it. We have had one of the wettest winters for five years, the coldest for 13 years and the longest run of cold nights for 28 years!! At least everything is green now and the dams are full.

We visited the Bestie as she moved into her new house.

In a brave move, she and her Beloved have bought a large house and are moving in with the parents!! Bestie and Beloved will have the upstairs and the studio at the back whilst the parental body will inhabit the main downstairs living area. The circular staircase will be blocked off (and removed in time) and they will have an external staircase so they don't have to encroach upon her Ma and Dad all the time. So far all the furniture is fitting in well and they are awaiting the arrival of her parents within the next few weeks.

Most people they know secretly think that they're crazy but I actually think they can make this work. They are all pretty close and get on well. Bestie's parents have lived a fair distance away for sometime now and as time marches on it is probably expedient for them to be closer.

I'm not sure any of us realised it would be this much closer!

Over at A Free Man's place, Dr O'C was working her birthday cake magic again.

Last year it was a digger but this year 'How To Train Your Dragon' has become Boy Z's obsession and so it was a dragon cake which he promptly set about demolishing.

Can you believe how much that boy has grown??

Of course I had a student teacher this term too so Week 8 saw me farewell her and all the preparation she had been doing for me!!

She gave me a lovely basket of goodies to keep me going til the end of term!

I still have to write her final report though so I hope she doesn't want them back!!

Lily has grown.

Morticia is still Himself's cat.

She isn't really this orange but when I take her picture she is just a black blob until I over expose her!

And finally, in a surprise turn around, the school which offered me work this time last year phoned me again (third time in a month) and finally offered me my dream job. It is 0.8EFT which is more than I would be getting from my current school next year (they're having to make cutbacks) and more importantly it is Learning Support Co-ordinator R-12! I will be taking one on one and small groups with minimal report writing and marking. There will be plenty of other work in writing NEPs (Negotiated Education Plans), running the school's standardised assessment program and doing Admin but hey! I enjoy all that!

The job starts in January next year so I have one more term to get through at my current place of employ and then I hope I'll be able to get a better life balance going after that! I will miss my colleagues terribly and of course there's the whole dealing with change thing but in the end I think this will be a good move for me. Himself is over the moon.

So, I think that's about everything for the moment. We're on holidays here and the BA is off to Sydney with her dad but next Saturday, excitement of excitements....my sister is arriving!!!!!
I hope I'll be a bit better at keeping on top of things here at the Sword now.

Don't give up on me yet!!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

How Can You Sleep.....How Can You Breathe?

Tonight I watched The Baby Angel, this child who claimed she did not want all those eyes watching her, play drums in front of a few hundred people in the Adelaide Town Hall.
She was magnificent.

I had forgotten my camera (life is like that at the moment) and so I harassed Himself into taking a photo. This is the best he could manage with his iphone. At the back there, behind the guitarists and the drum kit, that's my baby.

They did a song called 'How You Love Me Now' by a band called 'Hey Monday' (yeah...I've never heard of them either!!)

"Gee, I hope she can play," I whispered to Prof J as they strode confidently across the stage and started their set up. She shot back an incredulous glance.

With three strong strokes of the drumstick my anxieties were allayed.
When am I going to stop being surprised by my kid?

In an amazing follow-up, her House Choir (that's her, the blonde one in the middle row) whom she had claimed to be 'without energy' and 'inferior' to other choirs, performed "Tears In Heaven" and "Joyful, Joyful" so that the tears streamed down my cheeks and (apparently) my nose beamed like Rudolph's from the balcony.

Now, I am freely admitting bias but I have got to say that this choir was by far the best on the night. They were tight, tuneful, well rounded in sound, their harmonies were good and their energy exceptional. What can I say? They were robbed! But second is still pretty good out of four.

I am more and more filled with joy that my daughter is able to experience the excitement, camaraderie, joy and growth offered by my old school. She is already planning the next 'rock band' item!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Please Sir, Can We Have....a Better Venue....?????

In a surprise 'twist' (hahahahaha I crack myself up) my daughter, who up until now has shown little or no interest in theatre performance, scored a part in the school musical at the last moment and over the last two weeks has been gracing the stage with her presence!

I must admit that when she told me she was signing up for the musical at the beginning of the year, I was quite surprised. As a stage mad girlie, with a background in musical theatre and dance, I had enthusiastically enrolled my tiny daughter in ballet, gymnastics and music classes. Additionally, as the child of a single parent she was frequently dragged along to rehearsals for a variety of her mother's pantomime and drama productions from an early age. Imagine then my shock and horror as she announced to me (aged 3) that she would NOT be doing that ballet concert for which I had spent hours making a costume!
"What do you mean?" I spluttered. "You like ballet!"
"I don't like all those eyes looking at me!" she announced.

I have to admit I wondered immediately if there had been a swap at the hospital!

A very good and wise friend reminded me that our children are not carbon copies of us and I had to resign myself to the fact that the Baby Angel's only interest in theatre was as a spectator. Even as a spectator she needed to get a grip. During a performance of 'Cinderella', as I had my homemade ball dress ripped apart by the ugly sisters, the BA howled in the audience and had to be restrained from running up onto the stage to 'stop them hurting my mummy!!!!!!'. I just didn't think the theatre was for her.

But, sign up she did. I encouraged her as I thought it would be a good way to build relationships in a new school. Initially it involved being in one or two dance numbers and standing about strategically in scenes. When I quizzed her about it she seemed non-committal and less than motivated. Imagine my surprise then when, a month before the show, she came home to announce that one of the speaking parts had had to resign since she would be in Melbourne on the weekend of the show and that she, the Baby Angel had been chosen to replace her!

She had won the role of Noah Claypole, the bullying undertaker's apprentice whose taunting of Oliver leads to his running away to London to seek his fortune. So, a pivotal role no less!!! We spent a few evenings learning her lines together and working on the characterisation but after that she was all "It's fine mum; it's going well," and I was left to wait in anticipation for opening night.

It was with mounting excitement and a touch of anxiety that I entered the school hall on the first Thursday night. The school hall at my Alma Mater, is a churchlike affair; vast, vaulted, polished wooden floors and, until recently, unheated! There is a stage, albeit without a proscenium, curtains or wings and I had vaguely wondered how they were going to use the place to effect in the Dickensian setting of the show. In a way, the austerity of the place has a somewhat workhouse feel to it, so perhaps it was going to add to the atmosphere?


In his wisdom, the director had decided to use the floor of the hall as the stage and erect stadium seating at the rear. The stage at the front had some sets placed on it and stairs leading down to the performance area, but mostly the action took place on the floor. There were no real 'wings'. There were no real lights to speak of!! Oh, and did I mention there didn't seem to have been much direction either????

Perhaps I am being a little harsh. Then again....no.......I'm not.

It was just the wrong place for a musical production. The lovely voices were lost to the enormous height of the ceiling, the lights were washed out in the vastness of the space. And let's face it, most teenage girls playing men are not strong enough performers to carry it at the best of times let alone in the enormity of this setting. Up close and personal in a little intimate theatre they may have got away with it, but in the 'Great Hall' it just didn't work. I began to worry about the BA. On a positive note, at least she wouldn't stand out as a complete newbie. Many of the performances were static and lacked depth although the singing was, for the most part, very good. The trouble was most of the main characters looked as if they'd just stepped out of the front row of a choir. And not a show choir either!!

Earlier this year we had the pleasure of seeing my friend Prof J's daughter performing the same show at her school. Lanky J (as I shall call her...she is enormous!) played Fagin in a hugely enjoyable production where wonderful sets, bright, cheerful lighting and some terrific comic performances covered a multitude of sins (as my mother would say), in the way of weak singing voices, dodgy chorus costumes and average acting. It was a school production, obviously, but it made up for what it lacked with energy, verve and colour; a crucial rule in amateur theatre is to keep the audience visually entertained if nothing else.

The BA's cue approached. I waited with a fluttering stomach for the first lines I had practised with her over and over....

"CHARLOTTE? Open the door Charlotte! OPEN the door will ya????"

The dulcet tones of my Baby Angel bellowed from behind a dresser. She could be heard! within moments she was there onstage and with a leap of my heart I realised that she lit up the space. Sure she was just a schoolgirl in a school play but she held her own, injected some life into the flat atmosphere and kept me riveted to her performance with her energy and presence.

I was so proud.

Now, I ain't saying she's got a career in the theatre or anything. I mean, it was her first ever performance and she had L plates showing all over the place, but she was no weak link in this cast and she was at least as competent as other pupils who'd obviously been doing 'drama' for many years. Like many of them, she seemed uncomfortable in her body on stage but that is a teenage girl thing and something which will improve with experience and confidence.

Oh who knows. She may never do another thing but for the 10 minutes that she was on stage she exuded a presence and energy that took me completely by surprise. Whaddayknow? She has got some of my genes after all!

Congratulations BA on a great job in a difficult setting. Let's see if we can talk Mr Director into hiring a proper theatre for his next show!! Stay tuned folks as Miss Baby Angel stars in the Alma Mater Christmas production of 'The Great Santa Kidnap' (or some such thing) in which she plays a goblin. Naturally.