Tags: school holidays

3 Jul 2007, Comments Off on Cute Overload in lieu of actual post

Cute Overload in lieu of actual post

Author: Helen



I’m off on school holidays looking after Boychild. Posts may be sporadic, anything can happen – try to contain your excitement. The dormice certainly are. I may be posting over here – Tigtog has kindly asked me and other Guest Hoydens to do some guest blogging at Hoyden about Town, so that may happen. Or not. Depends. On what? I’m not sure. Stuff.

30 Jun 2006, Comments Off on It’s not all gloom

It’s not all gloom

Author: Helen

As I sit here dipping into LP, IBTP, CRN and other delights, there is a sussuration of giggles and music and voices from the living room. Girlchild’s having a sleepover with some friends. It’s the school holidays. It’s a good time to do it, because they won’t be getting together again in a while.

A while back when we were talking about the public vs. private education thing, I didn’t really get into our own experience. Like many other people, I fervently wish for a situation where public education is properly funded and allowed to compete on its merits, instead of being progressively gutted to the point where if we don’t give it some attention soon, it will be turned into a safety net for the poor, a system which will instantly stigmatise and disadvantage the children who pass through it.

Like many such parents, though, I suffer from guilt pangs for not somehow finding a way (second mortgage? Third, for child no. 2?) to put my kids through private, or make them undergo the entrance exam and two-hour each-way commute to put them in to Selective High with Uniform. If you ask us for our reasons, I reckon there would be mainly two (others invited).

One, that we’re worried the gutting of the public education system may proceed at enough of a pace to ruin our kids lives right here and now.

Two, that the kids who go private (and selective public) get so many more life opportunities. Sure, the girlchild gets to study her current passions – drama and Manga drawing – in Melbourne, whether at school or not. But it’s the outdoor / external education programs which really had me salivating. I really, truly did envy these kids the opportunity to live and study at Howqua, Timbertop or even Nanjing.

I didn’t know this a year ago, but back in 1999, someone in the Education Department had the same idea. So, on the ninth of July, Girlchild’s going here.

For the whole of term 3.

They all get (ie. lent) their own laptop for the duration (MAJOR selling point for Girlchild).

After their study periods, they go out the back and take the poma up the hill to practice cross country skiing. Every day, if they want.

They get bussed to Mt Hotham for three days of downhill.

They do two overnight expeditions – one one night, one two nights, snow camping.
Image from http://www.canb.auug.org.au/~alanlevy/Thumbnails/Images/Skiing/DinnerPlainTrail.JPG

They also do a lot of personal development courses, Senior First Aid certificate, Food Handling certificate, and a project which they develop themselves for the benefit of the community.

Strangely enough, they are still given time to read books and relax, according to the Alpine School teachers. In fact, at certain times of the day they’re required to read quietly and comtemplate.

It’s a year 9 thing. And it’s not supposed to cost us anything (except for massive amounts of warm clothes and underwear). I’m sceptical, but the kids and program teachers have been fundraising with a raffle and sausage sizzles and such, and they are supposed to cover it. Anyway, the “cost” , we were told, was something like $1,200 per child, which no way would reflect the real cost of such an amazing program.

And it is amazing.

It’s drawing near now. We’re talking a week and a half. There are butterflies in the stomach. There’s a twelve hour round trip to do to drop her off, which means a 4 AM start. A night flit. Lots of packing. There will probably be tears, and lots of hugs for the dog (oh, the dog! How’s she gunna survive without her?) We’ll be driving up to the high country with the sun rising in the East. I am getting the front tyres replaced. Will we need chains? How the hell do you fit chains?

You would. not. believe the number of Explorer Socks I have bought. Rush out and buy shares in Holeproof.

Scary, and wonderful. The girlchild will be changed when she returns. She’ll be walking tall (er). She’s had to jump through many hoops to get there. I’m proud of her.

20 Jan 2006, Comments Off on Coming out with guns blazin’

Coming out with guns blazin’

Author: Helen



Well, I’ve got to get going. As conventional wisdom has it, I’ve been sitting on my arse this last month, doing sweet buggerall, with only two children on school holidays as an excuse.

I’m only paid for 48 months of the year, so I can spend school holidays with kids and don’t have to go through the absolute screaming nightmare that is Holiday Program. Now, I just have to learn to cope with eight weeks a year with little boys. Don’t get me wrong! I love ’em. They’re just a lot of hard work. It’s like herding cats.

But despite the proliferation of good bloggers here in Australia, it has to be all hands to the pumps this year to make any impression on the avalanche of shit that is going to be poured all over us, the plain people of Australia. I’m thinking of moving more towards gender-related topics, with a sideline in environmental stuff – and let’s just see how long I can stick to this resolution.

Because, really, the avalanche of shit in the gender department has become quite outstanding in its stickiness and general horseshittiness. Let me give four examples of ye olde anti-feminist arguments which are being revived for the new millenium:

Don’t bother giving her a job, she’ll only leave to get married and have kids.

AKA a suggestion by Richard Posner, senior lecturer, judge and blogger, that law schools should raise tuition fees with a program of rebates to graduates who work full time; the rationale being the useless women students who clog up the works with their equal-or-better entry scores and then drop out for any number of years to raise children. To refuse admission to women, he admits, would be unlawful, so he is suggesting some new way of discouraging them.

This idea has had very little traction among Australian bloggers as far as I can see, except for James McConvill, who has to be some kind of saint. There is no argument or hypothesis so bad that his blog won’t give the poor thing a home. Give me your tired arguments, your poor arguments, your huddled hypotheses yearning to be free (of facts)! But, given the way our nutty Minister for Education likes to adopt all new things from the US, we should be cautious. Especially since Posner’s idea was predicated on:

Many women at elite colleges want to be SAHMs (US slang for “stay at home Moms”) so Femininism has Failed ner-ner!

This was a story featured in a New York times article by Louise Story, published on 20 September. Echidne, Katha Pollitt and Jack Shafer (editor of Slate.com) discuss the sloppy surveying techniques and reporting biases behind this media beat-up. But as Echidne points out, these beat-ups have a way of getting into the Conventional Wisdom of the mainstream media.

But women aren’t really people, are they?…

Not really respectable to articulate out loud these days, but Backdown Barnaby Joyce really put the finger on it with his ripper quote of 2005: “If I shoot a woman and don’t kill her but kill the baby, I haven’t actually committed a crime?”

Now I did predict a return of the “do women have souls” question on the CIB. You read it here first. I hope all you uppity women know now just where you stand in the Coalition universe.

…But we know what’s best for them!

This oldie-but-goodie is getting a fresh run in the RU486 (availability of) debate. The more cunning of the anti-choice crowd – and who more cunning than our health minister, Tony Abbott– have tried to frame the debate in terms of safety. You see, after a medical abortion, a woman’s uterus might retain some of the contents which might lead to septicaemia, or she might actually have an ectopic pregnancy, or something… so if we allowed RU486 to be prescribed, all these rural and remote women would just be dying after taking it behind the hayshed with the local doctor a plane ride away.

Trouble is, the exact same thing applies to early pregnancy and natural miscarriage (as well as the other gynaecological icky things that flesh is heir to.) So, in order to attain this level of safety that the opponents of medical abortion would like, it would be necessary to outlaw sex itself, at least in outlying areas.

Some of the wingnuttier anti-choicers are protesting against having sex which does not result in pregnancy, full stop. But then the “safety” argument falls down again, because you would still be dealing with pregnancies and their complications. But the “safety concerns” sound so logical, so reasonable, many people won’t look behind it to see the hype.

If you haven’t had enough yet, go and check out the 7th Carnival of Feminists over at Feministe.

(Image from here, via Metafilter.)