Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Long May Our School, This Course Pursue

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster ride of emotion and faith. As a kind of summary I wanted to share with you the letter I wrote to the Moderator of the Uniting Church:

Dear Rev D and the Alma Mater Task Force

Re: Uniting Church's offer to fund Alma Mater through 2011 and 12.

This news is indeed the answer to some very fervent prayer! Praise God that the Uniting Church have the heart and the wherewithal to continue His work through the education of young women in Christian values and academic excellence.

As an Old Scholar and current parent we have travelled a challenging faith journey these past two weeks. After many years we have managed, with the aid of a Principal's Scholarship, to enrol my daughter at Alma Mater to complete her Senior education. Had my life circumstances been other, I would have preferred to have seen her complete years 8-12 but we rejoiced in the fact that she was able to attend at all. In typical teen fashion she commenced with some resistance but within weeks was able to see the difference in standards and expectations (her own words!). By the night of the House Choir Competition (an event I myself hold very dear being a former Nemean Choir Conductor) she was an Alma Mater girl through and through; with a lovely group of friends and a keen heart for her school.

Imagine then her distress at the news that our beloved school was under the most severe of threats.

"Why now Mum?" she asked me in genuine grief,"why when I am finally here?"

My answer was that we were precisely where God meant us to be at this time. He had placed us within the Alma Mater community at this moment of crisis to learn whatever we must learn and to contribute in whatever way we could. I saw the chief thing that we could do was to stand firm, support the School Council, the Uniting Church, the staff, students and other parents through prayer and positive example.

This decision, which through a friend in the ABC I was able to communicate on radio the morning after the very fraught community meeting, has earned me a fair bit of ridicule and my daughter some fairly heavy pressure from those around her. She was the only girl in her class who did not visit another school in the following week. I experienced some anxiety that perhaps I was placing her in an unfair position due to my passionate views but I actually believe that it is at times like this and in situations of pressure that our children see our true character and learn the values we would have them carry into their adult lives.

We had even decided that if a merger was the outcome, then that would be the outcome God had in store for us and that somehow it would be alright.

Imagine our unbounded joy then at yesterday's news.

Several things have emerged from this experience for me. The first is the realisation that for years I have taken the existence of the school for granted. On many occasions I have been asked for support by the College Foundation and have left it to others. To some degree, requests for financial support left me feeling a little inadequate and guilty that I had not used my education to become more 'successful' as the world would see it. I felt slightly intimidated by the glossy brochures and slogans and wondered what I could possibly offer.

The second thing which has emerged is linked inextricably to the first. It is about our role as Old Scholars and parents. For all these years we have been asking what the school could do for us. Could it provide us with nostalgia, good feelings, rekindled friendships? Of course, we should have been asking what we could do for the school and not only financially. As Old Scholars we should be encouraging each other to be active members of the current school community in gifts of time and service. It is through these contributions that true community is built.

My purpose in writing, apart from to offer the heartfelt thanks of our family (I have two sisters living overseas who also attended Alma Mater) is to suggest that at this very important time, the School Council be encouraged to survey the Alma Mater community and really establish what it is about the school that they value. Then, it is these values and 'differences' that we need to promote to wider society.

It is telling that a significant number of families so easily 'abandoned ship' in the days following the press announcements. I suspect that these people need to take a good look at what it is they are communicating to their daughters: individualism and materialism. It is a weak character that aligns themselves with whomever appears to be the most powerful at the time. These things were not the message I received during my Alma Mater education.

So, at the beginning of this new journey, I ask the School Council with the support of the Uniting Church, to focus the school once more on its core values; to embrace the Faith on which it was founded and to communicate these things to the world.

And I promise that I will now be much more proactive in my support for my school.

Thank you for taking the time to travel this journey with me.

A new Principal was appointed on Friday: here's the Baby Angel hogging the camera. if you look carefully you can see me in the background for about 1 millisecond!

Keep Strong This Faith

There is power in prayer and reward for faithfulness.

The ball is now in our court as a school community.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Til The Last Bell Call

About a week ago we heard the news that the Baby Angel's 108 year old school is facing amalgamation to survive

I have so much in my heart that I am finding it hard to summarise.

Being a part of a history
Of something bigger than yourself.
These are some of the things my school
meant to me.

Mistakes made and forgiven

Enduring, fleeting
Even the tough ones taught me something.

Shared experience
Shared time
Shared history.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Seven Year Lurch

2010 is the beginning of a new 7 year cycle for me. Some bohemian friend introduced me to this idea when I was 21 and had just suffered the first major disappointment of my short life.
Life goes in 7 year cycles she said.
This year I am 49 and starting another cycle.

What happened when I was 7?
We travelled to the UK and US and Martin Luther King was assassinated. With the international travel I encountered difficulties in education which I had never experienced before. I discovered what it was to be truly 'other'. Was I English, Australian or American? Wherever I was I seemed to have just come from somewhere else.

What happened when I was 14?
I can't remember a specific event but I don't' think it was good. Before 14 I had great Reports. After 14 I got 'could try harder' and 'has not reached her full potential'. At 14 I think I started going off the rails.

Now there was a big change.
At 21 my family had left the country. I was living in a different city, working in theater and thinking that was where my future lay. I had a really serious boyfriend. The world was my oyster.

At 28 I had finally chosen my real career and a few months after my birthday I was appointed to my first teaching post. My life was irrevocably changing. I met the Baby Angel's father.

In my 35th year my daughter was born. I had moved to the UK and my education focus had shifted to special ed. I had reconnected with my family. I was discovering myself.

A few weeks after my 42nd birthday, I picked up my life and my daughter and returned to Australia. A little further down the track I met my husband and we became a family. With all that entails.

Here I am.
The last 5 years have been rough. There has been a constant underlying buzz of anxiety and tension related to finances and blended families. My child bearing years are behind me. My experience of secondary education has left me exhausted.
But My daughter is at my old school. I have a new job. My husband has just inherited some money which, when we get it, could take off some of the financial pressure we have been under constantly for the last 5 years.


my old school, a place I always thought I may return to professionally someday, is fighting for its very existence.

I feel as if someone has died.

I wonder what the next 7 years will bring?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Straight From Rubbish Tin To You

Huh. In the space of two days it went from Spring to Summer and back to Winter again!

Here's the evidence of Summer. The sun came out, we opened the doors and the flies flew in >:-(
Fortunately I am a dead eye with the fly swat! There are 15 bodies in this fly graveyard. I was piling them up with a kind of sick delight.I am more deadly than 'the man with the can of Mortein'!
(Scroll down the link site and have a look at 1962)

First day back at school yesterday and the thermometer soared to 28C! The house was stuffy and unpleasant when we got home and I am reminded that the air conditioner is on its last legs. Today, a huge front rolled, we had rain and we're all back in jeans and jumpers. Still, at least I don't have to think about the air conditioner for a bit longer.

The BA has come down with a cracking cold since the departure of Middle Sis and I am keeping her at bay with garlic and crosses as I have NO time at all to be getting sick. This last term is a really intense one. Short and with many things to 'wrap up', I am going to be sparse on the blog front until at least December. But I can report my first week's 1kg weight loss!

Of course it was this which inspired me to cut out the unhealthy carbs and get back into exercising! When my Sis decides to do something....she goes the whole hog! Just look at the definition in those arms.
And isn't she glamorous? Here she is about to go and impress all those middle aged ladies at her 30 year school reunion!!!!!I've got a long way to go to catch her but to show I mean business I have taken to my 'half way between growing back and being a stupid looking mop on the top of my head' hair...with serious 'product'. I think it's called 'Dirty Rockstar' or something, which of course describes me perfectly (NOT!!!!!!) but anyway, here is my new 'look with attitude'.
I am trying to channel Meg Ryan.
Since the other day when I did this I have messed about a bit more and here is my more conservative 'work' version.

Even my (soon to be ex) Boss commented on it this morning!!

And just to finish off before I disappear into the Real Universe for another frazzled week of failing to meet deadlines, here is another example of the kind of thing I was bemoaning the other day. This delightful CD was on sale at the airport no less! Delightful! Still, at least they used the stars. A modicum of discretion.
Have a great week folks. See you at the other end of the marking, planning, writing and arm wrestling the BA into doing her homework!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Short But Very Sweet

The visit of my Middle Sister has raced by and we are alas once more bereft of her chiming laughter and sunny face.

After a frenzied day of shopping on Friday, we had to say a quick farewell to those friends we could (although many went unseen on this all too short visit) and dash to the airport on Saturday morning.

We had enough time for a cup of coffee in the beautiful Spring sunshine however and for Sis to exclaim in delight as a pair of lorikeets wheeled and spun between the blossoming trees in our dear friend's garden.
"Get a picture!" she squealed and I spent the next 10 minutes trying to get close enough to them without scaring them away! This was the best I could manage.

It's been a short but wonderful trip as it coincided with school holidays and meant we could spend most of our time together. The Baby Angel has revelled in the company of her hip, groovy aunt; and benefited from her generosity and fashionista purchases!!! (see below for new jacket!)

It's no cakewalk living so far from your loved ones and for our dear friends, whom we have known since childhood, every trip 'could be the last time'. We brush away such sombre thoughts on a bright, spring morning and instead make plans for Middle Sis's next visit in January!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Boy Meets Water Lilies

Last Sunday, with the advent of Spring (finally), we took Middle Sis and Small Boy to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Enroute, Small Boy piped up from the back seat,
"So what are we going to do there?"
"Just look around,"someone replied,"you know, have a walk..."
There was some silence and then he replied,
"I just don't get this walking around thing.....I mean, what do we DO?"
Middle Sis moved straight to the rescue,
"We'll get an ice cream."
"Oh!" he remarked, significantly brightened, "I like THAT plan."

Of course, once we arrived he was completely captivated by the meandering pathways, fountains and surprises around every corner. One of the newer additions to the gardens is the Water Lily House. None of us had seen it before and we were all mesmerised by the gigantic Amazonica
These enormous leaves can grow up to 7 foot in diameter!

The beautiful pale blue flower is the Egyptian Lotus or Blue Water Lily. Opening in the morning and closing at night, it was associated with the Sun God by the ancient Egyptians and can be found decorating many columns and tombs.

The enormous white blossoms of the Amazonica are closed tightly during the day, ready to open with their delicious pineapple scent at nightfall. The flowers of this amazing plant, are pollinated by beetles who enter the blossoms at night and are trapped inside as the petals close up during the day. The heat of the day is trapped within the flowers and means that the beetles can partake in an orgy of mating without expending too much energy and without having to eat half their body weight in foliage to keep it up. So to speak.

But the really weird thing was the bottom of the Amazonica leaves. They are covered with spikes! Strange, inside out Venus Fly Trap style growths also dotted the pool. It took us a few moments to realise that they were the new leaves unfurling!

This photo was taken moments before the BA nearly fell in the pool. Hmmmm Not sure that would have gone down well!

So, although the final goal was an ice cream, there was education to be had at the Gardens! And we got him away from the skate park for a day!!!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

It's A Family Moment

Small Boy: Dad, dad, will you play a game with us tonight?
Himself: (disgruntled)...I dunno...what game?
Small Boy: Auntie Middle Sis and the BA and I want to play 'Smart Ass'
Himself: hurrumph. Well, I don't know....what do you want me to play for??
Small Boy: Oh dad! Because it's a 'family moment'.

Gotta love that kid!

(Is this not the most precious picture evah????...specially cos she is letting him use her ipod touch to play games on!....I know...it's the 21stC version of sharing toys. Kind of hard to believe they are not actually genetically related when you see them here.)

So Middle Sis arrived last Saturday!!! Do I sound excited? Cos I am!

She flew in at 6.40am (theoretically...she was actually 30 min early so I missed the arriving through the 'gate' shot) and we had a lovely breakfast on the banks of the Torrens.

Then, after a quick lie down she went off to a 30 Year Reunion for her class at school! That girl is a seasoned traveller! Since then we have been catching up with old mates,

enjoying the spring weather:

and just 'being' together. Friday we have set aside for SHOPPING!!!

I have been inspired by the Spring weather and my Middle Sis's recent impressive weight loss to try and take some control over my rapidly aging figure. I have cut out potatoes, rice and bread and for the last two mornings we have been down to the local Wittunga Botanic Gardens for serious walking and exercise! Once school goes back I will be restricted by drop off and pick up times for the Baby Angel but I hope to get to the gym more frequently than I do in the holidays (the gym is closer to work). I must say all the exercise is having a favourable impact upon my mood which was pretty black on the weekend. Or perhaps it is the weather?

The weather seems to have made everyone more amenable. Even the Anti Pet.

Hissing and spitting were kept to a minimum.

When I was going to pick up Middle Sis from the airport, the BA sighed to me that she wondered what it would have been like to have a sister. Augh. That kind of comment rips your heart out. I have always felt disappointed that I did not have any other children and I was just thinking how wonderful it was to have sisters, when the BA made this comment. Of course she quickly followed it up by saying that she was glad she didn't have to share me with anyone but still, it is a bitter pill to swallow when I know how much joy siblings can bring.

Here's the other one!

Wish you were here too!!

Love you gals!

Friday, 1 October 2010

This Morning In Arizaphale's Head

My sister's arriving tomorrow! My sister's arriving tomorrow!
That means I have to clean the house. Minor buzzkill.
Oh well.
My sister's arriving tomorrow, my sister's arriving tomorrow.....etcetcetcetcetc