fund-raiser flap

January 23, 2015

Earlier this week I spent two hours volunteering at Percy’s school.  About a dozen parents gathered in the staffroom.  We spent the morning sorting through lunch orders for the coming spring term.  (The orders were for a once weekly order of pizza and/or a once weekly order of sandwiches.)  When I arrived at 9:30am most people where already there and working.  When I left at 11:30 more than half where still working.  I draw your attention to this because I want to make a point of the actual hours spent on this particular activity.  For ease of the addition let’s say ten people worked three hours each for a total of thirty hours.

It’s not terribly taxing work but you do have to pay attention to detail.  The payment was made by cheque so each one had to be checked for correct amount, payee, date (I alone had a handful of cheques dated 2014), signature etc.  Then the individual order forms have to be transcribed to a master list for each class.  I’m not sure exactly but given what I do know, there are over twenty classes in the school.  It’s surprising how many of the forms where missing information or had the wrong information on it- mostly the classroom number.  I even had a completely blank order form!  We managed to piece together the necessary information from the info on the cheque and the encyclopedic knowledge that the co-ordinator carries in their head.  ‘Thank you’ for such a dedicated and amazing memory.

We all worked steadily with a little chat now and then while we transcribed and added and totalled and squinted at the bad handwriting.  (As an aside- if you are ordering something through your school, do everyone a favour and write very neatly and double check what you’ve written!)  It was a pleasant morning, I sat next to a mother whose child is also in Percy’s class.  Someone even brought cake.

Then the amount on a cheque was queried.  It didn’t match any of the pre-set ordered amounts.  We puzzled over it for awhile until it was noticed that on the accompanying order sheet was a handwritten (badly) note saying one week’s amount had been deducted because the child was not to receive the food order for the week when passover fell.

This got me all boiled up.  And not because you think I’m anti-semetic.  You can wear anything you want on your head, including a pasta strainer, and I won’t care.  You can ascribe to whatever religion you want, and I won’t care.  You can or cannot eat whatever food you want, and I won’t care.  (well, I’d prefer ethical, organic, free-range, pesticide-free, cruelty-free food, but that shit costs a bomb, so we all get a pass depending on how much we can afford.  And I’ll pity you for missing out on the deliciousness that is bacon, but I’m getting distracted.)

What I did care about is that the lunch orders are actually a fund raiser for the school.  The people/companies that supply the food get paid for a full order whether your kid eats it or not.  The money that this wanker parent felt entitled to deduct would come out the portion that goes to the school.  That’s less library books, less sports equipment, less field trips, less special needs resources, less classroom resources and the list goes on, that the school doesn’t get because you feel entitled to enforce a kosher rule in a secular school.  Well, fuck you.  By this reasoning should every kid that stays home for whatever reason (sick, buses cancelled, holiday, funeral, you name it) on a lunch order day, get a refund?  Perhaps when a child doesn’t attend school for a day the teacher should get one twenty third less pay that day (assuming a class of 23 kids)?

The argument was put, in the staffroom, that we do have a lot of Jewish families at the school, perhaps the order could be changed to accommodate them?  Not this round, of course, but next time.  To that I say; if you accommodate one lot, you’ve fairly got to do it for everyone, and give refunds to those kids that are unexpectedly away on lunch order day.  The thirty person hours we just spent would, I confidently predict, triple.  Good luck finding enough people to wade through the level of headache personalised orders would create.  And finally, I say again, IT’S A FUND-RAISER!  Either join in and cough up as stipulated, or bugger off.


what’s for diiiiinerrrrr?

September 12, 2013

believe it or not percy and tally already ask this question. i figured that wouldn’t come for a while yet, like years.

i should be happy they are interested in food and perhaps even taking over the cooking one day!  (in my dreams, right?)

having never been one for cooking, much less with coming up with something new every day it’s not a question i enjoy answering.  recently its gotten a little harder.  i refuse to make different meals for the four of us.  so what one eats, everyone eats.  i’ve generally made a few dinners a week of things that the kids like, and then interspersed these with things they may not be so keen on but that paul and i enjoy or would like to try.  as i’ve explained to percy eating bolognaise every nite of the week would drive me insane.  (unless someone else was doing the shopping, preparing, cooking and cleaning; then i’d probably eat the same thing forever just because i wasn’t involved in any part except for the eating.)

anyways, paul now prefers to eat following what is mostly known as a paleo diet.  i too see the logic behind eating what we have evolved over millennia to get the best benefit from.  namely what hunter-gatherer societies ate, or still do in remote and isolated parts of the world.  over the past few weeks our dinners have been changing to incorporate paleo eating rules.  this does however, with infuriating difficulty, cut out all grains.  my absolute staple, kids-will-eat food is pasta.  plain boiled pasta with a little butter on it if there’s no sauce easily to hand or to be made.  it also cuts out dairy.  now i know dark chocolate is preferable from a health sense if one must have chocolate at all (and what freak of nature doesn’t?) but i prefer plain, unadulterated milk chocolate.  MILK chocolate.  how can this exist without milk?  needless to say it doesn’t and therefore i will not be following a strict paleo diet.  i am also completely enamoured with eating porridge for breakfast.  yes, unglamourous porridge.  i find it’s the only thing i can eat a large portion of that doesn’t make me feel ill and keeps me full for hours.  i use whole oats, currants, low fat milk, a sprinkle of brown sugar and usually chuck half a tub of blueberries on top.  oats and milk.  these things cannot be hunter-ed or gather-ed.    hmmm.  on the other hand i have given up cereal and muesli.  which is no small deal for me.  for as long as i can remember i would always have a bowl of cereal for an afternoon snack.  arriving home from school mum was sure to have my only accepted brand (white wings, black box, forgotten the name) ready for immediate consumption.  over the years i’ve changed this to varies types of muesli and added many types of fresh fruit and finally settled on plain greek yogurt to top it off.  all gone.  i don’t really miss it either.

once i stopped to add up my meals i saw an awful lot of it was grain based.  oats, wheat, muesli varieties, pasta, rice…  perhaps cutting down this and upping the fruit and vegetable intake was a good idea.

grain agriculture is intensely mono-culture.  which is terrible for habitat, variety and healthy ecosystems.  equally tho a heavily meat-centric diet, which paleo obviously is (think hunter-ing of mammoth, bison, seal, elk, deer, salmon etc) is equally terrible in its impact on the natural world because of the way meat is farmed.  i read today that 70% of the grain grown in the usa is fed to feedlot cows and pigs.  apparently grain-fed meat is high in the bad omega 6 thingo and low in the good omega 3.  meaning paleo eaters should try to consume free-range meat.  do you know how much space free range animals, enough of them to feed a paleo-eating world population would take?  no, sorry, i don’t either but i suspect it’s a lot, lot more than there is square kilometres on earth.

the other factor in eating paleo is the expense.  christ, dead animal is expensive! so not only am i supposed to consume more meat, i’m supposed to buy the organic, free-range, tree- huggin’, triple-the-price stuff.

a compromise is coming to the fore.  the kids and i still enjoy our grain and dairy breakfasts, weetbix or corn flakes for perc and tal usually.  paul, when he has more than a coffee (milk!) has eggs and/or meat and vegies and fruit.  the easiest thing to pack in a school lunch is a sandwich, no argument.  our snacks have often been fruit based, when they’re not cake and chocolate derived, sometimes both.  dinners are now a mix, didn’t i say i’m not making different dishes!?  well, i make less of the grain because paul doesn’t get any on his plate, i get a small amount or none, and i up the vegetable count/quantity.  i think most everyone is happy most of the time.

the remaining two problems are how to pay for all the dead animal and how to get me over my dislike of chopping up dead animal prior to cooking it.

the not daily show

July 18, 2013

clearly my intention to write everyday has not been quite on the ‘achievable’ list.  but seriously, yesterday?  we did squat all, and my brain did squat all; no erudite or witty or intriguing or just plain “jane went to the park”, type stuff coming out of my head yesterday.

we stayed home the entire day, hiding in air-conditioned expensiveness, indoors.  the kids decided to turn our ensuite bathtub into a pool and spent nearly two hours in it playing, quite nicely too.  (the bath is nearly big enough to be called a pool.)

i had a mild headache most of the day and brain collapse.  woke up this morning to my period.  seems in gearing up to expel all the blood and gore my body needs a day of prep, so it gives me a headache to slow me down.  it’s a trend i’ve been noticing.  very happy to have blood-gushing first day, today, instead of tomorrow when i have to get to an airport, bugger around for hours, get on a plane and stay there for 7 hours, bugger around again collecting luggage and endure taxi ride to friends’ house before i can take a nice cleansing shower.  i sometimes think instead of having my tubes tied i should have had my uterus removed.  i loathe menstruation.  i’m quite sure if men did it, there would have been a stop to such foolishness decades ago!

elated about our up coming travels however!  will tell you now am not taking laptop and will not blog from mobile phone.  please forgive me for not writing daily previously and making it over two weeks until the next entry.  i will, no doubt, keep posting to facebook; see you there.  happy travels to everyone!

spent a nice portion of the day watching percy and tally and the neighbours kids run down the water slide in their backyard.  it was very nice of daniel and emma to come knocking on our back door asking for perc and tal to come out to play.  seems some of the neighbours are talking about putting up fences tho.  i kinda like having the open back yards now.  much more room to play!  and it would mean the kids would have to walk around to the front doors- what a hassle!

woke up early this morning because paul was off to the airport early, again.  this is the third overnite work trip since we arrived!  this time it’s three days in dallas, texas.  i asked him to rein in the funny; we all know texans have no sense of humour and lots of guns.  he’ll get shot for a wise-arse remark!

i’m thinking the upper management here is expecting us to stay- permanently.  paul was asked in the office the other day if he had applied for his permanent residency yet?  when he told me we joked that if they want to keep him as an employee they have to send us back to oz, or paul’s mum will hunt him down and drag his dead ass back!

there are some very strong reasons i don’t want to stay in toronto.  these include: i really do miss all my girlfriends and their families.  i’m pretty happy with my own company, in fact i know i’m a lot happier being by myself than most other people.  i think it’s in the blumkaitis blood.  the weather sucks- we came here because we knew we’d enjoy a break from sydney summer heat.  it’s bloody 36 degrees today!  of course come winter we’ll probably start moaning about it being TOO cold.  the square box thinking is the third reason.  i’m not appreciating the way canadians stick to the rules.  now, doesn’t that sound like a healthy ocker disregard for authority?  i was horrified the other day to watch tally tie himself in knots because he couldn’t get the attention of a “deck supervisor” (what those 17 year old “life guards” on power trips are called that play enforcer with the pool rules) to ask if he could go in the pool.  what happened to the dare-devil that would fly in with a triple twist in the pike position and flick the bird at anyone telling him not to?  i know i’m harping on about the pool thing; it is the easiest demonstration of the canadian habit of narrow thinking.  i don’t want my children growing up to be afraid of questioning and thinking outside the box.  bend, weave, explore, squint, swear, don’t check, don’t look back, create, be fearless, live with knowing your heart might be broken but lay it out there anyways.  from my experience there seems to be more opportunity to be brave and individual in australia.  i love it and i miss it.

on the side for staying i’m getting a definite impression that there may not be a job for paul to return to in syd.  i can’t say with any certainty because i’m not in the office and when paul is home we don’t get to talk about his work much.  some yes, but between doing things with the kids, taking care of life, getting up early and going to bed early there’s not a lot of down time to spend together.  what time there is we talk about other things or funny things from our days, not where is home going to be and how are we going to be paying the bills in 18 months time.  we will.  later.  so, it’s important one of us has a decent-paying job.  and with each passing day it’s less and less likely to be me.  second draw is getting away from our total cunt neighbours in oyster bay.  should we stay, we’d sell our oyster bay house.  third, yet bigger draw, is the proximity to the other parts of the world i’m keen to travel in- mostly europe and south america.

anyways, it’s all just speculation and fantasy.

culture shock

July 11, 2013

i’ve been reading about culture shock lately.  seems there is a generally accepted pattern about how it runs, including four stages running from ‘honeymoon’ to ‘negotiation’, then ‘adjustment’ and finally ‘mastery.’

i think i’m (just like wikipedia says) in the negotiation stage.  the honeymoon has worn off and the differences are still pissing me off, so not to adjustment yet.  not that it’s that big a deal and i believe we’d be hard pressed to find two cultures more similar than australian and canadian.  still, significant “getting on with the business of living” things are substantially different enough to peeve me.

the one highlighted today was paying our rent.  our lease started on the 1st of the month and we pay the rent monthly.  as is custom in canada we handed over 16 cheques dated the first of every month for the life of our lease.  cheques!!  just so antiquated.

now, i would expect if you are leasing out a house you expect/need/want the rent money when it’s due.  fair enough.  we’ve calculated for that and will ensure there is enough money in the account so the rent cheque clears on the first of every month.  but what if your landlord doesn’t cash the cheque until the 8th?  it was a near thing this month.  the money doesn’t stay sitting around in that account, we have better uses for it.  and what’s to stop the cheques not being cashed on their dates, but stored up for months?  what happens in six or twelve months time when suddenly the bank tries to clear tens of thousands of dollars of cheques out of our account.  do we cop the flak for dealing in bad cheques?  given our rotten run on credit and money here i am sure it would go the worse for us.

i’m also still peeved about other aspects of canadian life- the swimming pool fiasco, the credit card application, the online shopping unavailability, the four way stop signs, the lack of swearing…  okay, i probably should be happy not peeved that people here just don’t swear.  means i’m seriously the odd one out tho.  no, i’m not “proud” of swearing, i just don’t see it as such a terrible evil.  sometimes only powerful and offending words get the message out and my brain cleared.  it’s nice to say ‘that’s fucked” and have it understood as that, without going on for minute after minute explaining what is less than optimal and how i feel about it.  “fucked” communicates so much, so quickly.

the mastery stage of culture shock apparently settles in around the 12 month mark.  given that i have no language barrier and we did have quite good assistance early on from paul’s work i reckon it won’t take that long.  i will be master of my canadian dominion!

family circle

July 7, 2013

i understand now why as a kid in australia i ate so many grilled cheese sandwiches and downed so many pancakes while no other kid did.  because those two things are common, standard fare in canada.  the fast food chain of tim hortons (twice as many timmy places as macdonalds in canada) is built on grilled cheese sandwiches (and donuts and coffee- over 60% of coffees sold in canada are done so in a timmys.)   while we all know about canucks obsession with pancakes and maple syrup.

i’m still not sure what aussie kids are raised on.  maybe vegemite sandwiches and watermelon?

since my parents spent all their teenage years in canada a grilled cheese (no need to say ‘sandwich’, everyone knows what you mean) and pancakes is what they knew, and subsequently what they fed their children.  i’m now starting to revert.  i’ve enjoyed more grilled cheese in the past four months than i would have in the past four years at home.  and we are certainly hitting the pancake stand plenty.  percy is nuts for them and tally licks his maple syrup straight from the plate!

percy wrangled another backwards day today; pancakes for dinner, pasta for breakfast.  nothing like home-made pancakes with genuine maple syrup and fresh strawberries just before bed!

the personal touch

July 3, 2013

on sunday nite while our car was parked in a hotel parking lot (on grade, no security) the driver’s side, side window was smashed in.  fuckers.  fuckers that didn’t actually seem to want to break into the car for the purposes of taking anything.  odd.  there was about 20 dollars in coins lieing in plain sight on the console.  not touched.  nothing stolen at all.

did ruin our monday long weekend tho.  we decided since we couldn’t secure the car and it may rain we should just head home.  which we duly did.

today i visited two car repair places to get quotes for the replacement of the window.  luckily the weather has held and while it’s been a bit windy driving about, it has been dry.

the two quotes came in within $20 of each other.  i’m going with the more expensive one.  because of the personal touch.  the people with the more expensive quote looked after my kids- changed the waiting room teev to a cartoon channel, gave them crackers and water and chocolates and said tomorrow, when we return for the work to be done, they’ll drive us to the nearby shopping mall so we can at least walk about a bit and maybe find something for the kids to do for a couple hours, and then come pick us up again.  the other guys?  nada.

that’s worth $20 to me.  hopefully most businesses actually think about what their customers need, not just the purchase they are making.  yeah, i’m buying a new window and the labour to put it in; i’m also getting help to change what would be a tiresome, boring trip and wait for two kids, into a little bit of a new experience and possibly a tiny adventure.  take a lesson guys- the personal touch counts.

rainy day II

June 28, 2013

not taking laptop on weekend away.  won’t write posts on smart phone.  no posts likely for next three days (much like the last three, sorry ’bout that.)


rainy day

June 28, 2013

friday 28th june 2013.

hope the rain stops.  we have a long weekend away starting tomorrow.  i know rafting down the grand river we’ll probably get wet from below, but it would be nice to not also get wet from above.

i’m slumping again.  reason being i was looking for a nice place the kids and i, and paul too when he’s free could hang out, be active or lazy and enjoy each other’s company.  i thought i’d found it at a nearby country club.  i don’t think i’m country club material but figured i could make an exception.  well, i liked the club and nichole who gave me a tour this morning.  north americans and their pools!  they are so funny.  anyways, seemed like a place that we could really enjoy.  i clearly didn’t understand their membership fees online.  was given the cost in person today.  no way ho-say!  additional to the hundreds of dollars a month was an “initiation fee” of over a thousand dollars, that’s in the very small print.  i get enough hazing from my kids at home, i’m not going to be paying for it too!  so i remain not-country club material.

i have a business idea for toronto.  think i’d make a million dollars in the first month.  a proper, big indoor kids play centre with an attached café that serves real food, including hot chips and real coffee and a proper outdoor pool with grass around it.  and ditch all the ridiculous rules that canadians make up for everything.  i don’t care if you don’t shower, with soap and shampoo, before you get in my pool- that’s what eye-stinging levels of chlorine are for!  (not serious about the eye-stinging.)  i don’t care if you don’t wear socks on my play equipment, that’s what a nightly hose down with bleach is for.  i do care if you are well fed and coffeed, that’s what cooks and baristas are for.  i do care that you have grass and trees around your large and fun pool, not concrete and a gazillion sun-lounger chairs.  grass and towels belong around pools, sun-loungers belong on a cruise ship.  if you are happy with supervising your kid/s it’s not my responsibility to keep them from drowning.  come in, play, be merry, eat, drink, don’t whinge, go home.

i may be home-sick.

or maybe canadians just don’t do summer so well.  or maybe i’m expecting too much.  or maybe i have too much time on my hands.  do i need a job?

i’m coming to the realisation that either i’m a really lazy parent, like even lazier than i thought or i’ve missed the memo that requires every kid to “do something.”  and not just do something but do it well and be trained and have lessons and aim for national representation.  what happened to just whacking a tennis ball against a wall?  or climbing trees?  or duck-diving for stones at the bottom of the pool? or kicking a ball to someone, not thru goal posts?  or reading the same story over and over because you like it?

i know percy did a lot of learning activities last year (piano, drama, swimming, dance, gymnastics) but i really did think she did it because she had a genuine interest and found it enjoyable.  tally on the other hand did nothing.  he had a go at gymnastics but it didn’t interest him.  he’s quite imaginative and likes playing with toys and sticks and dress-ups to his own rhythm.

the point i’m trying to get to is that to join in with an activity here kids seem to have join in a lesson.  yes, you can just take your kids to the park and do your own thing.  but do kids have to be ‘taught’ to kick a ball, couldn’t they just figure it out thru play with their peers?  maybe our/my problem is that my kids have no friendly peers yet.

did you read that bit up there about not whinging?  i think that’s what i’m doing now.  better stop.


June 26, 2013

second last day of the school year today.  thursday hardly counts as it’s only a half day.

then it’s panic stations for me!  what to do with the kids all holiday long.  nah, it won’t be that bad.  my plan is to spend tomorrow morning booking them into lots of camps.  hope i’m not too late.  we’re thinking some sort of martial art for each of them and then a general activities, outdoor play for tally and maybe a dramatic arts sort of thing for percy.

barring that we have a gazillion weeds that need pulling up outside.  the kids have their own gardening gloves, get to it!