Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So when I left today I gave him a list of things that he had to have done around the house when I arrive home. Run the dishwasher and then unstack it, do the folding (the clean washing pile is looking horrendously large), hang out the load of washing in the washing machine, etc. If he's there, he can spend a bit of time being useful. He'll need a break from the Playstation anyway. The rules for kids at home is that everything has to be locked. No phone calls and definitely no leaving the house. I'm only two minutes drive away if anything goes wrong, and my work number and mobile number are by the phone.
I was in the staff common room at lunchtime and remembered that he was home, so I picked up the phone in there and gave him a quick call. I was near a group of teachers, most of them young males, who were sitting having their lunch.
Phone rings. Connor picks up, says "Hello?" warily.
"Hi Ugly, it's me! How are you feeling? Have you been sick again?"
"Yuck! Did you make it to the toilet?"
(Young Male Teachers (YMTs) start laughing. Connor can't hear them.)
Yes, I did."
"Good! Have you eaten anything today?"
(YMT start saying things like "Well, by the looks of it I had carrots, some corn, some curry"... "I had a Big Mac, some cheesecake"... "Do you want to hear about my diarrhoea?" etc. I start laughing, and can't hear what Connor's saying.)
"Look, Connor, just cook yourself some 2 minute noodles without the flavouring. You'll be fine. Now, have you done the housework I asked you to do?"
(YMT's fall about in disbelief. "But he's sick!!" )
Connor says "Ummm... no." It's obvious he's been playing the Playstation and completely forgotten.
(YMTs say things like "Great mother you are..." and "Have you thought of hiring a maid?")
Mainly for their benefit, I say, "OK. Do this bit by bit. Run the dishwasher. Hang out the washing. Make sure shirts and Tshirts are on hangers. Do the folding. Now honey, you know I'm only getting you to do this so you don't get bored."
(YMTs start killing themselves laughing. "Gee, thanks Mum."... "Thanks Mum, cos the Playstation and the telley just weren't cutting it..." Then they crank it up a bit further. "Mum, you're breaking up..." ..."Mum, I'm driving into a tunnel. I can't hear you...."))
Connor, a little mystified as to why I'm laughing so much, says "Ummm, thanks Mum."
We hang up and the whole staffroom is laughing.
"Well, I'm bringing up my kids to be independent," I say defensively to the room at large. I go and sit down at my usual table.
"How can he hang the washing out if he's got to keep the whole house locked up? asked a Maths teacher. (Trust one of them to have a diabolical eye for detail.)
I got a mental picture of Connor at home with this list of things to do, and the rules he has to follow. I started laughing.
"Wouldn't this be funny?" I ask them. "I get home and he's done all the housework, and he's expecting to be told what a good boy he is. Instead I rip into him. "You fell into my trap! You know you're not allowed to leave the house!!! Just how did this washing get hung out???" Can you imagine his face?"
The kinder hearted among them say things like, "You can't do that to him!" while the others who know me better just laugh. They know I'm not going to do it. It'd be funny though. But I couldn't do it.
He'd never do any housework for me again....
Interviews at work are just about over. Today we're just mopping up the remnants of the kids who are left, (those who were too vague and disorganised to come to their first interview and so they've been threatened with death on the phone by me yesterday, and one very sad case of a Chinese boy who's been here a year, and his English is still so bad that he can barely make any sense out of what's being said to him. We've strongly recommended that he stay down in Year 10 for another year to give his English time to kick in. His parents are very reluctant, but there's no other way. He wants to do medicine, so his results have to be among the best in the state. He's failing or scraping by with a bare pass in everything at the moment.)
I am so looking forward to the weekend. My partner in the student manager job has been away riding in the Great Victorian Bike Ride with a group of our students, so I've been left with everything. (The Great Vic is a ride where hundreds of people take off for about 8 or 9 days and ride over a course that takes them over much of the countryside. They ride roughly 80 or 90 kms a day, ending up back in Melbourne on Sunday. Our school always sends a team of kids, and a couple of teachers to supervise. It's fantastic that he wants to give up his time so that the kids can experience this. It's just my bad luck that it falls when we're doing interviews.) The house will be quiet. My first totally free weekend for over a month! No kids here on my child-free weekend. Yay!
Jack's already gone. His Dad picked him up yesterday to work in the shop for a few days, and he'll come back with the other boys on Sunday night. (I haven't heard an apology from Tony about his insinuation that I was ripping him off about the braces, just a text message that he received the letter with all the bills in it, and thanking me for sending them.) Last night was so peaceful with one of them gone. We had dinner, watched tv for a while, and then Connor wanted me to lie on my bed while he gave me a neck massage. (I've strained my neck a bit. It's sore.) The others came too, so we ended up lolling on my bed watching Dr Phil with some losers who were "judgemental". What a pack of geese. (Oh no. I think that judgemental thing is catching...) Then they went to bed, and I watched Oprah who had Suze Orman on. They talked about financial rescues for people who have been spendthifts to the max. My frugality kick was beaming. I love this stuff.
Well, it's time to wake the kids up and get off to work. Only two days to go until the weekend. Whoopee!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Connor took this shot a while back of the books that we have on the dining room bureau. There's one for each person. In them we write nice things about that person, as a record they can keep.
I'd like to take credit for the idea, but it's one I saw when I was teaching at a primary school in Clarinda for the day, before I got the job I have now. They'd been having trouble with bullying, so they called in a team of youth workers, and this was one of the things they did with the kids.
We've been doing it since April '04. (This isn't something I know off by heart. I just had a look at the first entry in my book.) They don't get entries every day.... sometimes a couple of months might go by... but gradually gradually the pages are being filled. Connor is the one who especially loves them. He writes in mine a lot, and gets downcast if his book stays untouched for a while. He wrote in mine last night. All spelling mistakes are his:
"Mum. You are the best mother anyone could wish for, and even if they don't wish for you they will still want you as a mother anyway. But there are some things that are bad about you.
1. You could kill someone by making them laugh and run out of breath.
2. Does their need to be a number two?
3. Same as number 1.
4. I can't say anything bad about you. that's why your really bad I can't put you down.
By the way congradulations on your blog. You should open a bottle of shampagne when you beatScott's total viewership.
Sorry Scott. I laughed my head off when I read it, but now I'm a bit worried that the friendly competition Scott and I have between each other is starting to rub off on the next generation. And any 'shampagne' about bloggishness will be opened in Scott's company. Or maybe we should make that a nice bottle of red instead?
His last entry was much shorter.
"Mum how can I say enough to thank you with all the help and support you have given us. I thank you for that."
How great is that? I don't remember what prompted it. Maybe I cooked something he particularly likes for dinner or something. But there it is for me to read when I'm an old lady and he's left home and forgotten all about me.
The rules of the books are simple, if anyone out there wants to try it. Each person has their own book. Only positive things must be written in another person's book. Things about what that person has achieved, great things about their personality, acknowledgements about funny or nice things they might've done with/for someone else... the list goes on.
When I took the three younger boys away to Mt Buller for a holiday while Jack was at Central Australia with the school, we took the books up with us. The kids read them in the car going up, and they had so much fun. They were laughing at the spellings their younger selves used, remembering things that happened and generally having a real 'warm and fuzzy' family time.
Well worth the effort of the initial set up.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Look at my harvest! Enough beans to feed five people, and there are plenty left on the plants. Brennan and I ate a couple while we were picking them. Bright green inside. I made some breadcrumb patties for dinner with mashed potato and steamed carrots and beans. Look at how the beans turned out...
Green! Isn't nature an amazing thing? Who would've thought that simple beans would evolve over thousands of years into something that can change colour with the simple application of microwaves. How did the beans know that microwaves were going to be invented? Imagine if humans slipped up and missed how to use microwave technology. There all the purple beans would be... hanging from the vines, really cross that no one would be able to appreciate the amazing colour change they were capable of. "All that trouble manipulating our dna for nothing", they'd fume. How lucky that some science guy tinkering with stuff in a laboratory discovered the key that now lets them mystify and delight my family instead. Ahh, the fun you can get from simple veggies!
The bread crumb patties are something I make very rarely, but the kids love them. Mum used to make them when she was flour/egg and breadcrumbing schnitzels in the olden days. Any of the coating left over she'd mix together and fry along with the actual dinner. Absolutely gorgeous. Last night I came home at about 5 so I thought I'd use the beans and have a meat and 3 veg meal. Just like Mum used to make! I was a bit tired so I wanted to do something easy.
All I use are packaged breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley (my parsley plant went to seed, so I threw it out. I used the leaves from the top of a celery instead), salt, pepper and a bit of milk. Mix until it gets to a nice consistency, drop into a frypan in pattie sized portions, and there you go! Great with tomato sauce. (Don't make them too thick, or they might not cook in the middle. Then they're not so nice, as you can imagine.)
We're into the last stages of interviews now. The difficult ones. These are mainly the kids who wouldn't work for an ipod with $1000 strapped to it. Of course by this stage of the game they can't rely on natural ability to get good marks like they may (or sadly, may not) have been able to do in the past, so these interviews are a wake up call for some. Most end up getting a bit of a shock and walk out a bit shaken. Others walk into the room with their head so firmly buried in the sand that you can practically see the bucket full of the stuff they have on their shoulders.
There are only three kids who we simply can't promote to year 11. They are totally different, except for the fact that they've failed just about every subject. One is lazy and hasn't done a stroke of work since year 7, one just doesn't have the wattage but she's a lovely girl who tries reasonably hard, and one covers those two bases but is also covering a world of other problems. I'm dreading her interview. She is a head burier. In fact I think she's buried everything but the tip of her nose. She hung up on me yesterday when I told her it was pointless to have an interview with just her, and I rescheduled it to tomorrow so her Dad could be there "to talk about her future". She'll have to either repeat year 10 or maybe go to TAFE. Trouble is, I don't think she's mature enough to handle TAFE. But she's not mature enough or bright enough to handle the work at year 11 either. It's an awful situation. I really feel for her parents. When I called her Dad at work to organise the new interview time, the weariness that came into his voice when I said who I was and why I was calling was sad.
The other girl is a totally different story. She and her parents opened up the interview by saying that they all feel that she should repeat the year. She's new to the school anyway and she's one of the youngest in her year level, so they don't see a social problem with it. She's happy, so are they and I can't tell you how relieved I was! Problem solved before I even had to bring it up. I love clear sighted parents.
Heigh ho! With a bit of luck these interviews should be over by the end of the week. Then I just have to write student managers reports on the front of 130 kids reports (bleuch!) and then the rest of the year will be a smooth ride down to Christmas. I'll be preparing for next year's classes, moving back into staffroom 1 (I've hopefully got a desk right near some of my friends) and looking forward to the holidays. Only 4 weeks to go till Christmas!!!
A photo from Phuket. It's a lump of an island.
I could have today off. I should have today off. It's report writing day and I've finished my reports already. But I put my hand up and volunteered to come in with the careers teacher to get more year 10 interviews done. I need my head read. Damn these students and their irrational thirst for knowledge and their ridiculous desperation to be placed into their chosen subjects for next year! Except for Jack. His thirst and need are totally understandable.
Just as an aside from my whinge about voluntarily giving up a holiday (I can assure you that this has never ever happened before), on Friday we had Jack's second interview for his subjects for Year 11 next year. He wants to do a year 12 subject next year, and we have guidelines about the study score average (8.5) and behaviour/conscientious/maturity levels that each kid has to reach. He has been a real twit over years 8 and 9, and it's only been this year that he's started to pull his head in and knuckle down. (With some inevitable slips back. He's a boy, after all.) He's improved a lot, but it's hard to reach egghead levels in one year from a standing start, so he was a bit short of where he needed to be.
In his first interview he was told that he had to get a certain level for his exams, to prove himself. He'd already started studying, but after that he was galvanised into study activity. He even gave up going to his Dad's on the weekend before the exams to study. (Like me with today, this has never happened before.)
Anyway, the exam results showed that in 3 subjects, he'd made it, and in 2 subjects he was only 1 mark short. In his second interview we had the other year 10 student manager, the careers teacher, and myself. For this interview (as opposed to his first) I had the Mum hat on. I went and sat on the other side of the table next to Jack, because even though I'm his student manager, in this interview I was going to fight for Jack.
(In his first one, I was on the other side of the table helping the others stick the boot into him. Well, he deserved it. He had to prove to me as well as the others that he was prepared to fight and work to get this subject.)
He really wants to do Year 12 Further Maths and he's more than capable of doing extremely well at it. He's into statistics (it's amazing that this kid has any personality at all considering the subjects he loves!) and this subject apparently has statistics all through it. After a lot of discussion, and Jack putting his case very eloquently (maybe he has inherited something from me after all!!) he ended up getting the course he wanted. He also dropped accounting to take up physics. He's thinking he might become a pilot, so he needs physics more than bean counting.
On the way back to the car he asked ,"Did I only get Further Maths because you work here?"
I was honest. "You showed that you've lifted your game, which was good. I think that they gave you more of a chance to show what you can do because I was here. But I wouldn't have gone in to bat for you if I didn't know you could do it. Now your job next year is not to make us look like idiots."
He's so excited about next year. He can't wait to have a course that's totally chosen by himself. His course is truly revolting. English (well, that's the only good subject. It's compulsory), Year 12 Further Maths, Maths Methods, Physics and Economics.
I know. Hideous, isn't it? If I was enrolled in a course like that, they'd find my body swinging from a tree with a noose around my neck. But he's a strange child. He can't wait for next year.
And as a teacher and as his parent, that's something I'm so very pleased to see.....
Sunday, November 25, 2007
These books are great. I ordered 'The Gentle Art of Domesticity' after I discovered yarnstorm soon after I started blogging. (Look! I think I've learned how to link!!!! If it works... thanks lightening!)
I got hooked on the colours that she captures in her photography. Vivid, in your face colours. The book is lovely, the kind of book you should really dip in and out of. (Unlike me, who has to read a book cover to cover immediately.) It's fascinating to see the effect that the photos have on different people. Connor adores them, and he's been inspired to take the camera and experiment with all sorts of shots. Jordan, on the other hand, flipped through a few pages, then closed the book and said, "It's too bright. It's doing my head in. I think I prefer pastels..."
I've been inspired to take up quilting by seeing the things she's made, which leads me onto the other books. I've already whipped through the encyclopedia one, which has colour photos. 'Quilting for Dummies', on the other hand, is more my speed. It talks about needles, and thread, and how to thread a needle, etc. God help me when I finally get started. I doubt I'm going to set the quilting world on fire. Judith and Sylvia at the Simple Savings meet up were saying that I should start by quilting a knitting bag. I've had the same bag that Sally Went, the bully who made my life a misery in primary school for years, gave me when I was seven. She came to my party, proceeded to ignore me and made horrible comments to the other kids there. Mum told me years later that she wanted to throttle her. Still, at least I've made good use of the knitting bag. It looks a bit moth eaten and battered now. It has holes and bits are hanging off it, but my frugality kick is just about satisfied. Time for a new bag. But is a quilted knitting bag a bit weird?? (I don't want any other knitters to point their fingers and snicker at me. I don't know if my self-esteem is strong enough to take it....)
Look at this. Lovely, isn't it? It's sticking through my front fence. Last year I renovated the outside of the house by ripping off the hideous fake brick cladding, painting the weatherboards underneath and pulling down the brown brick front fence and putting up a tall picket fence. (Shutting out the world and making a haven for the boys and I after too many disappointing dates. I think by that stage I was up to about 80 or so.) There's 3 rose bushes on the fence line that were part of the original garden. Today I saw the flowers when I was waiting to pull into the driveway when I was coming home from the city. I should cut them and bring them inside, but I won't. They're my present of beauty to the street. They're close to the fence, so they're not likely to take the eyes from some unfortunate pedestrian who happens to walk past the house. They're just a simple thing of beauty.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
It's a tell 7 weird things about yourself meme, and then I have to link back to the person who tagged me, and then tag 7 others. I hope this link works, because I've never linked by myself before....
Ok. Seven things about me.
1. My pantry has to be organised. Everything is lined up, labels out, and I rotate them so I put the newest things at the back, and the oldest things at the front, so nothing gets stale. I get agitated if the kids mess things up in there.
2. Once I start a book or watch a movie, I HAVE to see it through till the end. I could probably count on one hand the books I've put down and not finished. Maybe it's the gossip in me... I have to know how a story pans out. (Now that I'm getting 'War and Peace' emailed to me each day, I think I'll regret this. The translation is a bit old and clunky and so far I've read a fortnight's worth and the only interesting thing that's happpened is the tale of a policeman who was tied to a bear's back, and then the bear was thrown in the river. I've got over 600 installments to go. The peace part is pretty dull. I'm hoping the war bit is more interesting. Bring on the tragedy!!)
3. When I was a child I was scared of dogs. Mum said I was bitten by one when I was two, and I was petrified of them since then. Mum and Dad weren't too happy about this, so when I was seven they brought home a puppy. I was beside myself with fear for a day, until it dawned on my mighty intellect that this wiggly little pup was no threat.
When I left home I bought a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and fell into breeding and showing. Before I had children and gave up the dog showing, I had up to 20 dogs at some stages, including puppies. Does this mean I have an all or nothing personality??
4. I'm nervous around chickens. They have very sharp pointy beaks that look as if they'd put a nasty hole in your calf if one decided to attack. And anything that can still run around after you after its head is chopped off is obviously a force to be reckoned with. I like their eggs, though.
5. I love certain types of lollies so much that I can't have them in the house. I have absolutely no self control when it comes to lollies. It's like a shark feeding frenzy when there's a packet of Skittles, Wine Gums or Cadbury Caramello. It's not pretty. There's bits of wrapping strewn all over the room, snarling, slurpy gobbling noises and terrified kids backing away, in danger of losing limbs if they creep too close. That's why the only treats I buy for the kids are yucky lollies that I don't like. (But when they go to their Dad's place, I indulge. Sssshhhh. Don't tell them.)
6. I love stationery. A trip to Officeworks is delirious joy for me. All those wonderfully blank noebooks full of possibility. I love a fresh new notebook. Pure delight.
7. I love to breathe in the smell of my youngest child. Connor has a spot on his temples where I can breathe him in. I guess it's the smell of 'baby', and even though he's 11 he's still the youngest. (And always will be.... thank God for the speying I had done when he was born!) It's not kinky or strange, but maybe it is a little bit weird, so it's on the list.
Besides, it's nearly lunchtime, so I want to post this, go and have lunch, and then duck up the road to Brennan's school to pick him up to bring him back to our uniform shop to get him all kitted up for next year. I need to get his shopping done early before all of the second hand things are gone. (With 4 sons to outfit, I'm not proud. It's hand-me-down town at our place.)
I'll come back and tag people later. The bell has just gone.
Scott at http://scottsabode.blogspot.com
Stuntmother at http://stuntmother.blogspot.com
Kelley at http://magnetoboldtoo.wordpress.com
Widget at http://widgetgirl.blogspot.com
Darce at http://darcegoestoschool.blogspot.com
Maybaby at http://pedaling.blogspot.com
Suze at http://peasoupoftheday.blogspot.com
I can't link!!!! I'm so embarrassed....
When I learn how to put a proper link in, I'll come back and make this look professional.
If anyone else wants to do this, feel free. It's a little time consuming, because unlike most posts, you have to put some thought into what you put down. But it's interesting, all the same.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I didn't blog before work this morning because I woke up with a completely vacant brain. I had nothing to say. It was awful. I was walking around bumping into things, probably drooling slightly, with a blank look on my face. So I went to work, because I can still educate while I'm in a state like this. I know, because I do it frequently.
Then something bloggable happened!!!
You may recall that I was elevated to the high and mighty rank of ESL coordinator last week. In that capacity, I was stopped in the hall by a year 9 teacher who asked if I'd heard about the year 9 ESL kids who were caught cheating in their exams. I had a look at a dictionary that was confiscated from one of the boys. I don't know his name, but by gum! he'd put a lot of work into his cheating. (If he'd channelled all of that effort into study, he would've earned an A+.) He had lists of grammar definitions pasted into the dictionary, along with introductory paragraphs for the text responses, scientific equations and chemical formulas. Yes, he'd spread his endeavours across most of the curriculum. It was the most amazingly blatant thing I've ever seen. So I hastened over to the hall to have a quiet word with these kids after their last exam. It was beautiful.
These kids are in the junior school, so I don't know them from Adam. And they don't know me. But we got acquainted during the little chat I had with the class after all the year 9s had gone, and we were left in the huge dark echoey assembly hall for me to bellow at them.
I was operatic. I harnessed the inner witch. It scared the bejeebers out of them.
They gathered around me. I brandished the dictionary at them.
"WHO OWNS THIS?" I asked.
Everyone froze. One kid slowly raised his hand.
"That belongs to my friend..." I didn't allow him to go any further. One thing I hate more than anything else is when a kid doesn't take responsibility for his actions. (Just ask my kids..)
"Don't you dare try and run that sort of garbage by me! Everything in this book is related to this year's course. Unless your friend is in this class with you, you're telling me a lie. Now did you take this dictionary into this exam???"
He nodded. I let rip. I had the pointy finger, the narrowed eyes, the shrieks of rage happening. I told them all that anyone caught cheating gets zero for the exam. They blenched, (particularly the Asian students. Asian parents are famous for putting their kids under immense pressure to perform well.)
"If I had my way I'd recommend not just zero for the exam, but zero for the whole year. I'd like to see you go home and explain that to your parents!" There was a horrified silence after that remark. "I'm cancelling the excursion to the movies that your teacher has organised." Which I was going to do anyway, but they didn't need to know that. Then I threw in the killer. The one to bring them nightmares.
"I will be teaching you next year, and I'm not impressed!!!!"
I could see that they were appalled. They obviously think I'm a harridan who'll make their lives a misery. I'm delighted. I had that audience in the palm of my hand. I've got the dictionary on my desk, and I've been showing it to everyone. I'm hoping that the kid doesn't want it back because I want to keep it as a souvenir. The most elaborately inept piece of cheating I've yet seen.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
that's what's going to happen. After this rant at the ex husband.
Bad things list:
1. Mr Bleep being nasty about my perfect little boy.
2. The job rearrangement. I'm ok with it now, but it was a hard decision at the time.
3. Tony (ex husband... thank God for that!) insinuating that I was trying to rip him off financially about orthodontics.
Pardon? You don't know about this drama? Hardly surprising, because it erupted yesterday. That man just doesn't learn. I may be many nasty things (I truly don't think so, that was just me being modest) but dishonest is NOT one of them.
When I left my then husband 11 years ago, we had $120 in the bank. Even though I was the one with the kids, I gave him half. For years during the first half of our lives apart, he was on the dole or he worked for cash, so he only paid $20/month child support for 4 kids.
(Those years were very hard financially. I couldn't go back to work because the child care fees for 4 kids would've been more than my wage, and I didn't want to work then anyway. I wanted to give the boys a stable home base to recover from the upheaval of the divorce and to be nice normal kids. There was no point going through the drama and heartache of breaking up a family to remove an unhealthy model for a marriage from the boys' lives if they were then left to drift rudderless while I raced back to work. So I was a SAHM until Connor went to school. I got very sick of watching 'Playschool' and listening to 'The Wiggles', but the boys are fantastic kids now, so the struggle was worth it. Plus I've got some great stories that happened during that time. But I digress.)
Dad said to me once during those days, "Tony's a worker. Don't worry, he'll get back into another business because he can't stand to sit around and do nothing. You've just got to ride out this time and then you'll be right."
That's what happened. As soon as I started cleaning houses ( Bleuch! One day I'll tell you about the Cat People and the Filthy Nurse) and then doing CRT work (emergency teaching) and wasn't dependent on the child support, he started working again.
But money has always been a big issue with him when it comes to child support. He treats child support as if it's a business deal, and he has to win. So I've always taken less than he should be giving, because he owns a cash business (a food type shop) so he doesn't have a 'wage ' that the child support agency could simply take the proper amount from. When he was establishing his current business he asked me to be patient while he built it up, and then he'd pay a decent amount. That's what's happened. As of this year he currently pays 1k a month, which I put aside to pay for school fees and music lessons. I know he should be paying more, but he and his new wife have just bought a house, and anyway I'm happy with a thousand a month. That's a sum that I can do things with and so we're both happy with it. We've been getting along beautifully for the past couple of years.
Until now. We have four children, and three of them need braces. (The fourth needed his ears pinned back, which I did when he was in grade 4, with no financial help from Tony. All of this means that the whole lot of them are genetically ugly hideous beasts who need cosmetic help. They get it from their father's side.) The orthodontist I went to is also a single parent. He looked at the motley collection of misshapen smiles I was presenting to him, heard me when I said there may be a problem with payment from the father's side and gave me an excellent deal on the prices.
Tony and I talked about it, I showed him the quotes, and we agreed that he should pay for Brennan's braces ($3850) , I should pay for Jack's (also $3850) and I would also pay for Connor ($350 for a mouth guard thing which hopefully will stop him wearing braces in the future.) I said I'd pay for all of the dentist bills (check ups, cleaning, x-rays etc) because that's what child support payments are for. Naturally as soon as that arrangement was made Jack felt an agonising pain in his jaw and have to have a root canal done. I paid. Around another thousand dollars for that little exercise. (Well, I had to. He was rampaging around like a demented wildebeest.) All up I've paid nearly $2K in root canal and other assorted dental work, without taking into account Jack and Brennan's braces.
Sorry for the essay, but I wanted to be clear that I'm not some grasping harridan out to extract every last dollar from the ex. I think I've been extremely fair to him.
So to be told on the phone that he wants... no, he demands to see every bill for the braces, because he wants to make sure that he's paying only what is fair..... well it fairly sent me into orbit.
Selected orbit-sending bits follow:
"All I saw was a hand written quote. Is that all you've got? "
"Yes, I showed you the same thing I got."
"Well that's not very professional. (*sarcastic tone in next sentence* ) That's a real educated guy you've got doing their teeth."
(What the hell are you talking about??? How is that relevant? Besides, he's the one with a degree, I'm the one with a degree, and you're the one who did one term of engineering, decided it was all too hard and went into business as a fruiterer with your brother. How can you possibly try and take the high moral ground on the (non relevant anyway) education issue? )
I hadn't worked out yet that he thought I was lying about the quotes. I was honestly bewildered that he was objecting about the legitimate paperwork that I'd already shown him, and left with him.
"I want to see every single receipt you've said you've paid for their braces."
I still thought he was asking because he wanted to see if he could claim them on his tax or something, so I went through how I'd already shown him what they looked like.
He sighed, and said very clearly and slowly, " We're not communicating. I want to see every quote and every bill from that orthodontist. I want to make sure I'm only paying what's fair."
I went cold. Then I went hot. The room seemed to go a little hazy.
"So are you trying to get out of paying then?" I asked. I probably had a slight edge in my voice.
"No, no. I just want what's fair."
That was it. I was bobbing somewhere up near the roof by this stage. "Great! " I said. "I guess that means you owe me money. A lot of money. You haven't paid a cent towards Jack's root canal work which was about a thousand dollars, you haven't paid for their x rays, check ups, mouth moulds... do I need to go on?"
He stupidly said with a tone of almost derision, "Ohhh. You've got a bit of an attitude...." (I think he thought that he had me... that I was worried that I was going to be found out in my scheme to rip him off.)
I was at work so I had to be cool. I hissed into the receiver, " Yeah, I DO get an attitude when I'm accused of stealing. Ring the dentist, get the forms and if they won't give you my bills get them to call me."
I was boiling. I jumped into the car and got the forms from the dentist/orthodontist myself. They've obviously seen this situation before. They knew everything I needed, handed them over, and I went back home, stalked past the kids and picked up the phone.
"Which address do you want me to send these things to? I've got them all. And after you've read them I demand one hell of a big apology."
Again he made a comment about my attitude. He tries to take the high moral road when he's in the wrong. It used to drive me crazy when we were married. Apparently it still does. I have the address, I told him that they'd be in tomorrow's mail and hung up.
After 11 years.... actually, he's known me since I was 17... surely he's have twigged by now that I'm not out to get him? One thing's for sure. I'm so glad that divorce was invented, because at least now I only have to deal with his Persecution Dramas every once in a while. It's his new wife that has to deal with them every day. That used to be my job, and I'm so very glad I'm not in that position any more.
(Plus, when he reads the bills and realises that he's pissed me off for no good reason, he'll be kicking himself... )
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Then I went and picked the last cauliflower for dinner. Not a moment too soon. It had tall stalky lumpy bits growing out of the top of it. If it was in a shop you wouldn't go anywhere near the obviously mutant love-child of a caulie and a snail. But unfortunately this vegetable wasn't from a shop. I've nurtured that cauliflower. I've fertilised, watered and gotten (is that a word? getten? gooten?) up early to water it for too many times to let a few hideous growths stop me from eating it now. I remember the time Brennan and I realised that it was actually sprouting something we could eat. We jumped up and down. We squealed with joy. (Well... I did. He's nearly 13. He's too gruff and manly.) I've invested a lot in that bloody caulie. Hopes, dreams.... dare I say.... love.....
Plus the fact that it's sometimes a big pain in the proverbial to have a veggie garden. How many times have I dragged myself out of bed at 6am to water the damned thing? I wouldn't do it for flowers, that's for sure. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to have the water-logged hem of your bathrobe flapping around your ankles at that hour of the morning? Ankles aren't the most insulated part of the anatomy, and it's bloody nippy at that hour of the day. And sunburn. You go out to throw a spare cup of water on the leeks and you see weeds. An hour later you realise that yes it is a bit sunny and you're getting a beautiful cancerous glow. Nothing like a melanoma on the face to set off that gorgeous smile.
So that cauliflower was going to be ingested no matter what it looked like. Actually, here is what it looked like..
Yum Yum! The stalky things swivelled around to watch me as I walked up to it, but I didn't let that bother me. It's organic, so that means that everything about it is good. I yanked it up out of the ground and ignored the shriek as it twisted and writhed in my hands. I sprinkled salt on it and laughed as bubbles came out of it. The stalks waved frantically... I knew I couldn't let the torment continue. I am a pacifist, after all. So I banged its head against the ground until the tortured movements subsided. Oh the mighty hunter!
(Ok.... I'm going a bit mental here. I walked over, pulled it out of the ground and brought it inside. But imagine if all that stuff DID happen??? It'd be freaky as!)
I made the thickest cheese sauce you've ever seen, to disguise its lack of comeliness from the kids.
It went down a treat.
One really nice thing happened to end the weekend. Normally my boys travel round as a pack. They're here with me all together, they go to their Dad's all together, so they rarely have time apart. The Virgos were at Tony's this weekend, (that's boy 2 and boy 4 for the Astrologically uninitiated), while the Capricorns were with me. (I have 4 boys. You work out who the Cappies are.) When the boys came home after 'boys' weekend', it was lovely to see how pleased they were to see each other. Jack and Connor went out to play a game of cricket in the backyard, while the other two sat in the lounge room and chatted about stuff. I wonder sometimes how often the boys will choose to see each other once they've grown up and moved out (OH happy day!!!!) When little things like this happen it makes me optimistic. They like each other, and that's a good start.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The list for the extra jobs that teachers have to do came out yesterday. I am now running the ESL faculty. It's not a large faculty, but it is certainly looking a bit shabby around the edges, so I (reluctantly) put up my hand for it. The downside is that I have to kiss the student manager job goodbye.
Annoying in one way, because I've been doing it for 18 months and I feel like I've just got a handle on it all, but in other ways it'll be good. I don't have to be at work at 8am and leave at 5pm, reports are FAR easier when I just have to write my own and not also collate and write comments on the front of the whole year level (do you realise how time consuming that is???) and I no longer will have to deal with parents. Most are nice, but occasionally there's the odd one who can be a bit of a fruitcake. (And I don't eat fruitcake. It's yuck.... the devil's food. Like bananas.)
The best reason, though, is the house and kids. They've been running on autopilot for a year and a half, and they're looking shabby around the edges too. Well, the house is. So next year it'll all run on an even keel again, which will be a good thing. I find that if things get cluttered and too dust-bunnyish at home then I feel like I'm not coping and I get snappy at them. It'll be nice to get back to creating the kind of home environment that the kids and I will look forward to coming home to. (I'm coming over all nesty. Don't be concerned. There's no possible way I could be pregnant. The speying and the 18 month (so far) break from dating make sure of that!!)
The funny thing will be watching how the two people who will be doing the job next year will share the office space. The woman who is taking over from me is incredible efficient and anal. Everything is lined up, colour coded, filed to within an inch of its life and regimented. The guy who shares the job makes the office look like a tip. His desk is a glorified pile of paper and there's absolutely no space for him to sit and work at it. As days go by a wave of paper comes from it and advances towards the desk where she'll be working. It really started to do my head in, so every time he was out of the office for the day I'd do an emergency paper throw. I'd put important things in a box by his desk, and the rest I'd chuck. I used to find stuff dating back to 1995. I'm not exaggerating. It might be entertaining to step back and watch the fireworks. The mess drove me crazy, but I'm not as neat or as ...um.... up-front about things that bother me as she is.
Scott and I have come to a civilised agreement about the NaNoWriMo challenge. We're not doing it. Technically I beat him, because I reached 20,000 words, (yay!) but I've reached the conclusion that with these interviews happening in year 10 at the same time, I will definitely not finish my novel in a month. So we agreed to be merciful to each other and desist. (I've just realised.... maybe next year I could do it. Unless I decide to mark VCE exam papers to get some $$$. All may not be lost....)
Today will be a teaching Brennan to knit day, a tutor Jack in Romeo and Juliet day and a BARF day. I have to make biscuits and cakes, and sometime this weekend I want to go out to Diacos nurseries in Dingley and get some tomato plant cages. The stakes I bought last year didn't work so well. (Got to stop those damned tomato plants from roaming all over the backyard!!) I've got Brennan in my ear asking about when I'm going to make pancakes for breakfast, so I'd better get off here and start the day. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Imagine my distress when it said I was only going to live to 89.
What a gyp! In the title it already promises me 100 years. What's going on?
Apparently exercise is fairly important, and I don't do any. That may be why Molly's rump is looking a bit matronly. (I'm too scared to look at mine now, after doing this test. But hey! I'm sure it's delightful.....)
I drink a glass of wine too many on some nights. I already knew that, so I'll cop that one on the chin.
But coffee. Coffee. I have 3 cups in the morning before work, 1 when I get there and then that's it. Except sometimes I have one at recess if I want to. I'll cut that one out. Then I drink water for the rest of the day. I used to drink about 12 cups of coffee a day when I was at home with little kids. (I was jazzed, baby!) Do I get credit for cutting down? Oh I don't think so. I get the cyber finger waved at me and get told the benefits of switching to green tea. Now I don't mind the odd cup of green tea. I prefer it to normal tea. But I don't think that waking up to the insipid aroma of a cup of tea is going to feel anywhere near as good as smelling the full blooded richness of that first cup of coffee in the morning. Or second. And I'm only drinking instant coffee. I'd probably be even more outraged at the prospect if I was a coffee bean pers
I'm back. There's something screwy going on here. I think that the computer doctor guy has installed something on my computer to make me smarten myself up. I just spilled my second cup of coffee all over the table next to the computer. I'm not making this up. There was coffee under the modem, all around the phone and dripping down the back among the power cords. I've got towels everywhere, mopping it up. I have my coffee black, no sugar, and it's making the towels a yucky smelling brown colour. How come it smells so lovely when you're about to drink it, and so horrible when you're frantically trying to mop it up before you electrocute yourself?
Should I be freaked out? Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Maybe I shouldn't have bought the coasters from Phuket that have a lip on them. (That's what caused it. I put the cup down on it without making sure that it was centred.) Or maybe that doctor guy who is at the top of each page of the test isn't just a simple picture. Maybe he was looking at me, watching me slurp down my morning cuppa with evident enjoyment and decided to make an example of me. I didn't think to check to see if his eyes moved when I did....
I'm still not giving up coffee. The cup's empty now, so what else can he do? Except give me a heart attack or something, but I'm prepared to risk that......
He should cut me some slack. I don't do drugs, eat (much) crappy food or have risky sex. (Who knew being celibate was good for me? I guess millions of nuns and priests over the centuries were on to a good thing after all. Who knew? This break from dating could add YEARS to my life.)
Take the test. I dare you. It's actually pretty detailed and it's got a lot of good stuff in it. It doesn't take long to do. Take the test, pop back and we'll compare ages that we're going to cark it. It'll be fun. Maybe we could start planning our funerals. The kids have already told me that if I get run over by a bus or something they're going to have the theme music from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' playing as my coffin glides out of sight towards the crematorium fires. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Go on! Do it! Just make sure you remove your drug of choice from where the computer is before you start.