Happy Little Vegemites hit 60

by Maren Rawlings

Sibylesque vegemite quote

When I was young, I loved Vegemite. It was applied so liberally to my sandwiches or sangers that I was excluded from the lunch swaps. “Eerk, she’s got too much”. My father had several tropical diseases from his war service in the Pacific Islands and New Guinea and my mother appeared to be influenced by the pre-war “health” messages in its early advertising. As with all good campaigns, this began with appeals to the women who controlled the petty (literally) cash on which households ran in the meagre days of the depression.

Sibylesque Happy Little Vegemite Video link 2

See video link to ‘A rose in every cheek’ here.

The era of emotional brainwashing began subtly. Pictures of plates of sangers surrounded by green leaves did not cut it for the exuberant post war years. A joyous jingle ran through our heads as we munched away in the allotted playground eating areas. We’re Happy Little Vegemites was our Marseilles, so that Men at Work’s “man from Brussels” could be expected to hand us a Vegemite sandwich, presumably in acknowledgement of our accent. It did not work for me incidentally and I had to remark in bad schoolgirl French, that I was not British but Australian and we grew vineyards thank you, to source some decent wine in the main square. I must have lost my down under “glow”.

It is really an addiction you know. When the spouse’s activities exiled us to the United Kingdom, I had to buy it in a 4 litre paint tin (beautifully sealed down against the six week sea voyage – where’s a chisel?). By the time we had worked our way to the bottom, the salt had absorbed the humidity and diluted it sufficiently to act like Agar agar. I rang the distributor in London. “Waddya mean it goes off?” We could grow our own antibiotics. My children with their sangers, were envied by those still convicted to school dinners (“You over there with packed lunches, put your rubbish in the bin”). You cannot food fight with a stew, easily anyway.

Sibylesque Happy Little Vegemites

Now when I look at my old love, I find I can friend it on Facebook! I have imagined many personal permutations through a long life and this was a surprise that put a whole new slant on the word “spread”. The third wave of advertising is “relationships”, apparently (after “facts” and “emotions”). Is your personal space occupied by the wholesome and worthwhile? Do you love your Vegemite? Are you personally fulfilled as it caresses your gullet? Or have you had an affair with Nutella? I was a wine snob in Belgium but I can be a yeast purist anywhere in the world, sent from my iPhone.


Maren RawlingsMaren Rawlings is a fabulously diverse educator and music devotee. She has taught at city and country schools including a 22-year stint at MLC, Melbourne. She has lectured in psychology at RMIT University and Melbourne Uni, written Psychology textbooks and, in 2011, graduated PhD in “Humour at Work” at Swinburne University where she currently tutors.

Maren is President of the Star Chorale, a community choir and this year they sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Zelman Orchestra.


Photo Source: TV pinterest, Tangalooma volunteers dressed as vegemite, Weekendnotes blog.


Hey Grand Kids: Maths isn’t numeracy. It’s fun!

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Penny Cook Quote

I’m an early childhood educator and I love maths. (Not good at it necessarily). I love literacy too. What I hate is that we so easily deny our young  children their mathematical and literacy potential because we decide to educate them. Yes…I think education has a lot to answer for.

I’ve spent over 30 years with children before they begin their formal education and what I see is mathematical thinking and literacy at its finest … and strangely enough not separate. The problem with numeracy and literacy, as I see it, is we have abandoned the thinking aspect. We have failed to connect it with what children bring into this world…curiosity. Children are born curious..they have to be to get beyond day one. Actually, they have to be curious to get out of the womb I think!!!

Sibylesque   Little Girls smile

I look at my grandson and reflect. One day he and I were at my mum’s place. He was 2 years old maybe and we had a ritual of he and I spending the night at mum’s. Osczar had full reign of the agenda and after a few of these sleep overs, a pattern emerged.He would go into Mum’s office and explore the shelves. At some point he would always bring out 3 shot glasses and 3 dice (have resisted the urge to ask questions of my mother!).We would each have a shot glass and die and ‘jolly hockey sticks’ like throw them onto the tiled floor and I would (teacher like) count the spots on each. There was great excitement…from all of us. At some point I stopped counting and started naming the value of each throw. What I noticed was, that very soon, Osczar was naming the value of each throw…accurately. With my limited mathematical understanding I believe he was subatising. Now, in the course of these interactions I also noticed he could count on.

For some reason, we as early childhood educators value those skills, but I’m not sure we know why…in the world of mathematical thinking. What I do know is that we have spent hours of enjoyment playing a ton of games and Osczar never thought he couldn’t do it. He was always a joint participant in the games. We never expected he couldn’t play. We are serious gamers.

I worry that we have so formalised mathematical thinking into something called numeracy that it is measured only in school and not in real life, that we are doing our children a disservice in the name of education.

Isn’t it our job as educators to have enough ‘mathematical’ knowledge and expertise about play to firstly recognise the mathematics and then build on it … through play?


Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

Photo source: geneology.lovetoknow archive


How to avoid despair in a negative world

By Kerry Cue 

Sibylesque quote F. Scott Fitzgerald

The author of the quote above remains unnamed to give you a moment to reflect on the significance of these words. It strikes me that too many people I know – so it could be my choice of friends – have become cynical and negative as they have aged. Aging is a war where new battles are fought and won daily or, hopefully, where graceful surrender is negotiated. A bitter and twisted demeanor, no matter how tempting, is a debilitating mindset.

So how do we remain positive, not only in a negative world, but at an age when struggle is the only option? Perhaps, the author of the quote is setting down an alternative view, one that also embraces wisdom. Life, after all, dumps on each of us a bucket full of slippery and barbed contradictions: joy and sorrow, blessings and tragedies, pain and relief, certainty and confusion.

Sibylesque Anyone for tennis

So this is how we counter despair. We juggle it with the possibility of doing good, of making some small contribution.

Who wrote the above quote? F. Scott Fitzgerald. The quote comes from an article titled The Crack-Up published in April, 1936, in which he is brutally honest about his breakdown. He was tired of life. Any reader today would realise he was suffering from depression. He was 39 years old at the time of publication. Fitzgerald died in December 1940 from a heart attack when he was 44.

Other posts on this issue of aging with a postive mindset include At My Age, Doctor, John Glen was an Astronaut and Why you should avoid geriatric talk.

 Photo Source: 1930s tennis women tumblr


NO WIFI: What can we do grandma?

 by The SibylsSibylesque   Having Fun Quote

Two thoughts for the New Year:

1. You can never have too much fun.

2. Life was funny, so funny, before wifi,

but you had to be there.

Sibylesque No Wifi Quote