Monday, August 21, 2017

Birthday Week

As my own children and the children I’ve taught know, I pride myself on knowing EVERYTHING! There are no secrets kept from me because of my superior ability to put two and two together and smell rats in the least obvious places.

So I am considering it the coup of the century that my husband and friends managed to pull off a birthday surprise heist at the weekend.

Geoff says I’ve been sooking that nothing was being planned for my big birthday – obviously sooking is too strong a word but I admit I was starting to feel a little unloved. I’d been rationalising the lack of planning to soothe myself- just got back from an amazing holiday, busy at work, one child not in the country, birthdays are just another number etc, etc… Given his track record of awesomeness at celebrations, I knew Geoff wouldn’t let me down but, you know, self doubt, old age; I was beginning to think maybe the magic was finally fading.

The almost last straw was his suggestion to Jaime that she pick up a cake from the cheesecake shop on Tuesday so we could blow some candles out after swimming. A cheesecake? Really? For my 60th birthday? All I had requested for my birthday was one of @icingonyourcake’s magnificent creations – and now, apparently, I was getting a last minute, don’t even ask me what flavour I want, probably will forget I need cream with it, store bought…..cheesecake!

One of my ‘best girls’ had organised to take me out for dinner at the pub on Saturday night as a pre birthday treat. Tired after a day at the footy and still harbouring some despondency over the cheesecake, I really didn’t feel like it but I was so grateful to Steph for at least making an effort that I committed to going, despite being in the same clothes I’d had on all day.

When Steph arrived to pick us up, Geoff staged the most ridiculous stalling tactics I have ever seen, and yet I still didn’t twig! I sat in the car and twiddled my thumbs while he waffled on about toothpaste accidents and needing to change his clothes.
When we got down the street they informed me we were going to Olivine instead of the pub. 
“Have you booked?” 
"Nope, we’ll be right, there’s just the 3 of us” 
“Well, that’s just silly, there’s lots of cars at Olivine and hardly any at the pub, why don’t we go there?”

It never occurred to me that I knew the owners of all those cars.
It never occurred to me that the function room was in darkness and yet there were people in there.
People waiting for me. Lovely friends and family, waiting for me in my dirty clothes, unbrushed hair and no make up. Wonderful conspirers the lot of them, dreaming up a birthday dinner, right under my nose! What a beautiful, warm fuzzy of loveliness.

And of course, there was cake. A magnificent, lindt ball covered creation complete with all things dear to me; books and my missing glasses, a goal shooter’s bib and little figurines of the twins and Theo.



I’ve never been so happy to have been lied to.

PS: I also got my cheesecake- served with a triple dose of love from my best boys. Completely spoilt and it's not even my birthday yet!


And tomorrow, I'll be elderly. Thoughts on that at a later date!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

366- #Thingsthatmademehappy 2016

This year I completed another 365 project (taking and uploading one photo every day). Actually I completed two, one on Insta and the other on Flickr and they were 366 projects because of the leap year, but whatever... semantics. The important thing is that I followed the rules, created a visual diary of our year, discovered some great photographers on Flickr and learnt a little bit more about photography along the way.
I only cheated once, as in there was just one day when I didn't take a photo and so I used a screen shot to make a yesterday's photo satisfy a today's date upload.

My theme for 2016 was #thingsthatmakemehappy
Here's the top 10 things that satisfied the hashtag

My kids- Nothing makes me happier than having all of them in the same place at the same time.
Christmas present weekend to Rye

Mothers' Day

This man - He's the best cook, the best travel buddy, the best kisser and luckily he's also very photogenic.





The Lover and the Lunatic - Being a grandma is beyond wonderful. Every minute spent with these two is a joy.
This is my favourite photo for 2016. Sums up their relationship perfectly.


I took this selfie the day Jaime told me she was expecting no3. It was hailing outside the car and I was imagining how all 4 of us would fit in the car on rainy netball days in 2017!







The Sharks- The Mortlake Junior Sharks had a very successful season. There were plenty of shuffles to photograph and I got to coach an amazing group of kids again this year. Then, in one of life's curly turns, suddenly the Sharks were no longer. I'm so sad that it's over but incredibly happy that I had the opportunity to coach again and to work with a great group of people.

Practice makes perfect - 4 perfect flicks



Our animals-

This was the last photo I took of these two together. We lost them both this year, just a few weeks apart. The original 'odd couple'.


My job - I moan about it a lot but really, I have the best job, in a great school, with awesome kids.
The opposition debaters never stood a chance

Graduation time

A fun filled trip to NZ

Who knew the dictionary was so exciting?



Performing Arts- I think the skills developed in performance pave the way for success in life and the happiness in creating a great performance is contagious.

Les Miserables

Big Fish


Indigo and Juliet
Lion King Jnr
Vietnam - Right up there with the best travel experience I've ever had.
HCMC - crazy town
 Fresh chicken

Hoian- one of the happiest places on Earth

Special events-
Pascale came back to visit and we managed a surprise assembly appearance

The Bulldogs won the flag. How good was that!

Sunsets - They were my standby when nothing else had made me smile. Its lucky we get so many beauties.



                               

      

  

      

     
     
And so the sun sets on 2016. Thanks to everyone who's allowed me to photograph them or tag them and thanks to my Instagram and Flickr followers for their feedback.
 Before tomorrow morning I need a theme for 2017's 365.
Any ideas?

     

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Measure of Success


Today my school got a nice little piece of publicity in the Herald Sun.

In a nutshell, the median score for all our VCE study scores (out of 50), was 35 – a truly great median for a no scholarship, take all comers, encourage everyone to finish year 12, government school. More importantly on the data spectrum, we were the most improved school, with our median shooting up 5 points from last year.

We’ve had halcyon times like this before. Occasionally we have some ‘lean’ years but It’s not a new thing for our VCE kids to do well. Back in 2007-2009 we had medians well above the average and our students have always ‘batted above their weight’ when it comes to success in academics, in sport and in performance skills.

So while I’m happy for us to bask in the (momentary) glory of high academic achievement, I think its important to recognise that it’s the not the most important measure of our school’s success and definitely not the most important measure of this group of kids. In fact, not all the kids in this photo contributed to that median. The numbers are derived from all the Unit 4 study scores and that included quite a few year 11s (who will get their chance at ATAR glory next year). Some of these kids didn’t even sit exams but they are no less successful in our eyes. Some are successful just because they finished year 12, some combined VCAL with VCE, Shona is the VETis plumber of the year (2 x in a row). Lachie is a state junior cricketer, Jake a state level high jumper and Gerald, a national equestrian. Cooper published his 2nd EP and got a perfect score in VET Music, a subject he studied at Emmanuel College because if we can’t offer a subject ourselves, then we’ll find someone who can. Chloe finished VCE with VCAL certs in 3 different disciplines. Breeanna, our dux, had three scores over 40 and she won’t even turn 18 till next May. All of them combined student leadership duties with their studies, becoming role models and ambassadors. At some stage, each and every one of them has performed in the school play, with 4 of them gaining admittance into our Performing Arts Hall of Fame.

I first met this group when they tumbled, full of personality, into year 5. There were lots of them then, a big class by our standards, covering the whole gamut of academic ability. They were larger than life kids, all different but all willing to turn their hand to any task. By year 7 it was clear they were going to be a successful cohort. They competed with each other and with themselves on a daily basis, in sport, in class and on the stage. We watched them grow from enthusiastic youngsters into skillful teenagers. Almost all of them came to NZ on camp with us and they soaked up every moment and made the most of every experience.

And then bit by bit the group started to shrink with a lot of the kids going off to bigger schools in bigger cities. Those who remained here struggled a bit. They missed their friends, and I think they felt a little bit deserted, with a sense that while the others were off having new adventures, they were stuck in the seemingly boring sameness of their run down rurality, with teachers who knew them so well that there was nowhere to hide. They became burdened by the high expectations we had of them, sometimes doubting that they could match those expectations with their own lofty ambitions and the work load that lay ahead. Some of them fought the demons of physical and mental health issues and just getting to school each day became a victory.

Like the surrogate parents that teachers often become, we cajoled, chastened, promised, pleaded, threatened, tutored, guided and bribed, and as loyal co workers do, they responded by doing their very best, by believing that if they dreamed it they could do it and choosing to step up rather than stepping aside.

And now, here they are, big fish in anyone’s pond. The survivors and the victors, ready to embrace their ‘real’ lives with the same passion and persistence that’s got them through year 12.

What a lovely bunch. Well done and good luck to you all.