Saturday, June 30, 2012
Yesterday's letter hurt. Our lad told us that his father is an alcoholic and asked that we pray that he will be able to break away from his addiction. The letter was written last month and his dad was going to attend a camp that month for alcoholics aimed at breaking their cycle of addiction.
It's really important that I acknowledge what he's told me in my next letter to him. I want to tell him that I feel sad about the pain that he might have experienced because his dad is an alcoholic. I want to encourage him to keep praying for his dad and give him hope that he might one day be better. I want to tell him that it's hard to break addictions and that it will be a huge struggle for his dad. I want to tell him that we care and that we haven't forgotten him.
But it's hard to put that into words and not all of what I want to say might be helpful. His dad might never get better. I don't know whether he is angry towards his father or proud of him for trying to beat the bottle. I don't know what kind of impact his dad's alcoholism has had on the family. I just don't know enough. So I need to chose my words carefully.
What would you say?
And if you are interested in sponsoring a child in extreme poverty who needs encouragement and a helping hand up, check out Compassion Australia if you are in Australia, Compassion International for US readers or Compassion UK for readers in the United Kingdom. For information about what child sponsorship involves click here or about Compassion's financial integrity click here.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Today I’m thankful that the cup of hot tea I spilt all over myself in bed yesterday morning wasn't as hot as it was several minutes beforehand. It was not good but I seriously could have been badly burned if it'd been any hotter.
You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I found the instructions for making these dino eggs on this website. It's in Portuguese but the photos are fantastic. So you can either read the Portuguese version with the good photos or my English version with the dodgy point-and-shoot camera.
Hard boil some ordinary hen eggs (we are talking 3 minutes once the water's boiling in case you are not a regular egg boiler).
Once they are cool enough to touch, give the shells a good cracking all over.
Drop the unpeeled, but artistically cracked, eggs into a glass of water coloured with several drops of food dye. I've found the darker colours work best - yellow was really blah but blue and red are winners. Set the glasses in the fridge overnight.
Peel your eggs carefully so you don't take chunks out of the skin (the colour only penetrates a tiny way into the egg) and, if you are feeling whimsical, serve on a nest of grated carrot or cheese with a newly hatched dino for company. One of my boys is a keen egg eater and I thought these would make a cool lunchbox addition. But alas someone in his class has a strong egg allergy so we're keeping them as holiday food.
Secondly, I am not necessarily going to feel more peaceful when dying because I am a Christian. I might. I hope so. I hope that in death I will be rejoicing in the hope of heaven and comforted by the fact that I know God is in control of all things. However, that might not happen. I might, in my final hours, overwhelmed by fear and pain and anxiety, feel anything but secure. I might cry out against God in anger at my circumstances. I might be trembling at the thought of leaving this life and what might come next. I might even feel that the faith that sustained me so well in life is nothing but a sham and that all is lost. And that doesn’t matter. I don’t think that if I feel that way, God is going to come in and punish me (or decide not to heal me if he was going to do so) because I haven’t done the right thing. Because I believe that I am not saved by me and my faith but by Jesus and his strength. I know that my Saviour will hang on to me, even if I lose the strength to hang on to him. Just as I know that I ought to be patient with everyone and yet I still lose my temper from time to time, so in death I know I should trust firmly in God and yet I might not trust as I should in my weakest moment. No matter. I am not saved by my good works, or my strength of faith or how much I can muster up belief and courage. I am like a lost sheep that could never find its way home on its own. And Christ has come and saved me and promised to carry me home. I might fail him, but he will not fail me.
Of course, there are some things about death that I do think are different for a Christian – the hope of eternal life for example. And I hope that I will be brave and bold as I stare down the ugliness that is death. To know that death is not the end and that God has prepared a home for you in heaven is a comfort. But I think it should be okay for Christians to say that death is awful and dying is horrible. That’s the truth – death is our mortal enemy and it’s not unchristian to hate death. Thankfully, my eternal security is not hanging on my emotions in the last weeks/days/hours of my life.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
One thing that I've read about in the last couple of years is the importance of cleaning routines. Tidy people apparently (don't know from first hand experience) do a lot of their cleaning/tidying automatically as part of their routine so they don't feel so much like they are doing a chore. For example, if it is your regular habit to hang up your coat rather than toss it on the bed like I do, you won't have to set aside a special time to hang up the clothes cluttering your bed. And you won't even think of it as a job to do. It's just what you do when you get home.
So I've been trying to add little bits of cleaning into my normal routine. The only one that's really stuck so far has been adding the wipe-down of the stove top as the last thing I do once I've finished the dishes in the sink. Before I pull the plug, I clean the stove top. I've done it so often now it actually feels odd to not do it. Like something isn't quite right. And so I do it without thinking, "Oh no, I better clean that stove....groan."
I'm also trying to remember to grab a cloth when I put the detergent into the washing machine and wipe down the top of the machine and the lid where all the dust and spilled detergent build up before throwing it in with the wash. I still forget this 9 out of 10 times. And I know some of you good people remember to squeegee your shower before you get out....that's probably never going to happen in my house.
So do you have some automatic cleaning routines? What are they? What should I add next?
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
My husband recently made polar fleece cushions with the boys' group from church. Because polar fleece doesn't fray, you can cut it and use it for a range of crafts that don't require sewing. So if you are looking for an easy craft for primary-aged kids, here is my polar fleece cushion tutorial.
Begin by cutting out two pieces of polar fleece to the same size. A contrasting colour adds interest when you knot the edges. Here I’ve used pieces approximately 50 cm square but size and shape are up to you.
Cut off the corners.
Along one side, cut through both pieces of fabric at once to create the strips for knotting. They need to be about 1.5 to 2 cm wide. Any wider and they’ll be hard to knot. Any thinner and the kids will probably cut too thin and cut them right off. If you are doing this with a large group of kids, check that the scissors you have for craft will actually cut through two thicknesses of polar fleece (and borrow some pairs of sewing scissors if they don’t).
When you get about half-way through knotting the final side, stuff the cushion with either a pre-made cushion insert or hobby-filler stuffing. Then knot the last few ties and you’re done!
Obviously you can vary the shape and size and, if you use a cushion insert, you can easily unknot half a row, slip out the cushion, and chuck the cover in the washing machine when it gets grubby.
You can also use the same knotting technique to make a double-thickness lap blanket or baby's rug. It's also makes a good gift for an older sibling to create for a younger sibling's birthday or Christmas present.
Monday, June 25, 2012
And then a little preschool voice came from the back seat said, "Actually, Mummy, your hair always looks like that."
I laughed heartily. Too true!
Sunday, we had some friends from church over to lunch. They've been in Australia less than a year having migrated here from South Korea. Good fun. And one of their children is a board game enthusiast. Excellent! I found a board game retailer in Korea who had an online video explaining the rules to Settlers of Catan in Korean. A quick watch of the video and we were happily playing Settlers together.
SILICON VALLEY (The Borowitz Report) – A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it’s called PhoneBook.
According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare in a cloud of dust.
“With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,” says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook’s creators.
“When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,” Fruber explains. “Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.”
Another breakout utility of PhoneBook allows the user to arrange face-to-face meetings with his or her friends at restaurants, bars, and other “places,” as Fruber calls them.
“You will be sitting right across from your friend and seeing them in 3-D,” he said. “It’s like Skype, only without the headset.”
PhoneBook will enable friends to play many games as well, such as charades, cards, and a game Fruber believes will be a breakout: Farm.
“In Farm, you have an actual farm where you raise real crops and livestock,” he says. “It’s hard work, but it’s more fun than Mafia, where you actually get killed.”
Saturday, June 23, 2012
1. You can just open internet explorer type in thisfleetingmoment.blogspot.com each time you want to see if I've written anything.
2. Or, half way down my blog on the right-hand side, you'll find a box labelled "Follow by email". Type your email address into there and my posts will send themselves to your inbox automatically.
3. Or, if you get sick my emails in your inbox, you can subscribe to the feed*. Just under the email option is a subscribe button. Click on the little down arrow, then choose the option that has this box . Another page will come up with a big yellow box. Click on the blue "subscribe to this feed" option. Another box, click on subscribe again. Done.
* What's a feed? Well, you know that tab where you can keep your "favourites"? Next to that is another tab that says "feeds". If you add this site to your feeds, your computer will automatically check for any updates on my blog. Then when you click on your feeds tab, the name of the site will appear. If it is in bold, there's something new that you haven't read yet. If it's in ordinary font, you're up to date.
So there you go everyone (but especially you, Mum). Hope that helps.
"What I recommend, for men but for ladies too, is that you rotate your shoes. Don't wear the same pair all the time and that way they'll last longer and you'll get more wear out of them."
He just smiled and nodded.
Friday, June 22, 2012
This is the list so far:
* 1 kg packet of sultanas
* tub of apricot jam
* 1/4 packet of grated cheese
* the sugar bowl
So far, he only takes one thing at a time. And none of these items have been eaten, just stockpiled. Does he know something I don't?
I already had a packet of those sitting in my pergola next to the bbq. So this morning I tried them out. Oh the joy! They work! Brilliantly! All that scum on the glass (from my hideous procrastinating) came off easily. They are now stashed under the bathroom sink. You may want to wait a couple of days and check back to this blog to see if I've update this post to tell you the tiles all fell off the wall or we got some kind of 5th-degree skin burn from showering with oven-cleaner chemicals. But if you don't hear back from me, assume I'm happily cleaning my shower.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
When the four brothers were young, they were making the usual fuss about food at the dinner table. So my parents-in-law hit upon a scheme that solved all the vegetable wars. When a lad wouldn't eat his veggies, he got sent to the laundry with his dinner to finish it. Sure enough, this parenting gem worked every time. A couple of minutes in solitary was all it took to convince the boys that they needed to gobble up their veggies and obey their mum and dad. Of course, Mum and Dad were duly proud of their parenting prowess. They possibly even passed on their method as a piece of wise advice. They had solved the age-old dispute about veggies and all was well. Or so they thought.
A year or two later (these tales sometimes grow in the telling so it may or may not have been five years later ...the boys do exaggerate), it was time for the family to move house. When they pulled out the washing machine, they found a mound of crusty veggies hidden down against the laundry wall. I imagine it was a bit like the layers you can see in rock formations with all the different donations from the boys over time. The boys all had the same plan. Go to the laundry, dispose of the veggies, then hang out for a few minutes to make it look plausible before handing your plate to Mum with an angelic smile.
This has become my favourite parenting cautionary tale. Every time I think I'm on to some kind of parenting-gold, I remind myself that I just might not be as clever as I think I am.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
We have toilet problems. It is not the leaving up of the seat that bothers me. It's the constant mopping of the kids' toilet to keep it from descending into a biological wasteland. We seem to do okay for a while and then it starts happening again. If you are the mother of a boy, you'll understand.
So over the years we've had a couple of "wee targets". We bought this sort from Kmart a couple of years back.
They were good but our Kmart no longer sells them and they were a bit pricey anyway. I did go to Kmart a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to buy more. When I couldn't locate them I asked the young shelf stacker in the nursery department if she knew if they had any "wee targets" still in stock. She looked confused and pointed to electrical. "No," I said, "Not that Wii. The kind that ... oh never mind." I couldn't bring myself to explain it all to a Gen Y who hadn't had children yet.
Before the "wee targets" we used another great idea. Put a table tennis ball in the toilet and get the boys to aim for that. When you flush, the ball floats and doesn't flush down. So we threw one in the loo and it was magic.
But whenever we had visitors, a well-meaning adult would go off to use our toilet and we would forget to tell them about the table tennis ball. Well, it's not the kind of thing you work into dinner table conversation is it? They would come back and discreetly tell me that one of the kids had thrown a ball into the toilet but that it was okay because they'd fished it out and left it in the laundry sink for me. After thanking them for their kindness, I would then explain that actually it had been there for weeks because we use it for target practice. Awkward silence while they think about the germs that they've just pulled out of my toilet with their bare hands.
So we gave up on that. Until this week when I decided to give it another go. This week, I placed the following sign above the toilet.
I thought that would be sufficient. Apparently not because we've already had one visitor fish the ball out. I understand the reasoning. You see something in the toilet that shouldn't be there. You know there are boisterous children in the household. You draw a fair conclusion. But it's the fishing out I don't get. I don't think anything would induce me to stick my hands in someone else's loo!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
But I bet my list is bigger than your list. It's the mother of all to-do lists.
The List-asaurus was created because I struggle with housework. Apart from sheer laziness and the lure of the internet, I find it hard to know where to start. At any given time, there are about twenty jobs that could be done and they all seem equally worthy. Without a system, it all feels random and like I'm not getting anywhere. And when I feel like I won't be able do it all perfectly, I freak out a little and I end up doing nothing at all.
That's where The List comes in. It's a weekly list of jobs divided up into regular every-day jobs and once-a-week jobs listed under various days. Some jobs appear every week and some are on a rotation. I might clean the freezer part of the fridge one week and the door shelves the next week.
You can see from the photo of my list that I don't get everything done. That's okay. I pick what I can do and I leave the rest knowing that they will get done eventually because they will appear again the next day, the next week or in a few weeks. The bathroom doesn't get out of hand because if I see several days missed I prioritize it for the next day. If I don't dust the family room this week, it's not that I'll never dust the family room. It'll come around on the rotation again. This stops my "all or nothing" perfectionism getting out of hand. Not that my house is ever perfect. It's the "nothing" part of "all or nothing" that I major in.
Last year I tried a housework list I purchased online - motivatedmoms.com. But because it was created for someone else's house and life, it had jobs on it that I never needed to do (I don't live in a place with snow) and didn't have other things that I needed to do frequently. So in January this year I created a 52 page Word document - one page for each week of the year - and made it specific to our family. Then I printed it and had it ring-bound. The List for the year.
And now that I have some direction of what needs doing, I am getting a lot more cleaning done. I'm not managing it all but what needs to get done is getting done. Because the big task of keeping house has been broken down into small jobs, I tend to use my time more efficiently and procrastinate less. Previously, I'd often leave cleaning the house until I had a big chunk of time and waste a lot of the smaller time slots I could have used to get some of it out of the way. The other nice thing is that other people in your house who might want to share some of the housework can see the list too and know specifically what you'd like done.
I know the list probably seems crazy - either because you can't imagine anyone would need to be specific about when to load the dishwasher, or because it makes you start to hyperventilate just thinking about having a list like that staring you down each morning. But I find it really helpful. It probably won't last forever. I think when I've gotten better at housecleaning routines, I'll stop using it.
But for now I love it. I love marking off a little circle when I've swept the floor. Oh so happy.
If you are crazy enough to want the list too, I'd be happy to email you my Word document and you could do a "search and replace" to modify it to your heart's content.
Does anyone else have a master list or super system for housework? I'll take all the advice I can get! Especially if you know how to get shower recesses to stay clean for more than two minutes.
1) Christians ought to seem different from the people around us. We want people to say, "Hey, why do you do that?" so that we have a chance to explain how much God loves them. I should care less about being a weird Christian and care more about people getting to know Jesus.
2) How much you love something can often be measured by how far you'll go to get it back when you lose it. In terms of God, I can be amazed at the lengths to which he went to find me and rescue me when I was a lost.
So a good day. And there was nice food.
And I was very self-controlled. My job was to buy a new adjustable desk chair for one of the my kids. Done for $20. Plus I bought another roll of paper, a packet of whiteboard markers and some bag clips.
The kids all had a bonus $5 on top of their pocket money to spend. It was fun watching what they picked out. The eldest went for an art set. The youngest bought two small soft toys. The middle child - always the one to think outside the square - bought a cushion, a throw-rug and an alarm clock for his room. He was very pleased.
Then we bought some Swedish jam and went home. I love a good trip to IKEA.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Today I’m thankful for the people I work with who still dream big dreams for our special needs students. They are such an inspiration to me.
You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Anyway in my efforts to not exclude people, but still not look totally full of myself, I decided I'd just tell most of my good friends once and then I'd have done my duty and they could look or not look at it and we never need mention it again. Along the lines of.... "Hey, I've started a blog by the way. Oh, look! There's an interesting bird flying by! I wonder what kind of seagull that is."
So here's the embarrassing bit. I was talking on the phone to a friend yesterday and while we were talking I was thinking, "Did I tell them I had a blog? Better get it over with." And so I said something and then they said, "Yes. I got your email about it." And I wanted to hastily explain why I was telling them twice but I didn't because I figured I'd only end up sounding even sillier. But I did feel a right goose.
So, for those of you who blog, how do you handle telling or not telling people?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
In case you think I get up at 3 am to bake my own bread, let me set the record straight. I use the following dough recipe that keeps for a week in the fridge. I make up a big batch at the start of the week and then all I have to do each morning is pull out some lumps of dough, shove a tray in the oven and have a cup of tea while it cooks for 10 minutes. And this is done while I'm still in pjs and semi-conscious. And there's a fair bit of self-interest involved. Breakfast rolls = eldest child gets up gladly. No rolls = morning battle. For a while, I resisted this because I did not want to blackmailed by bad behaviour. Then I figured I had the whole day to discipline and it might be worth my while to get through the first half hour in peace. So now my husband puts the oven on as he leaves the house and 15 minutes later I put the rolls in.
This is a recipe I originally found on a website somewhere in cyberspace. I've tried to find it again so that I can duly credit the owner, but alas my googling did not get me back to wherever it was that I first found it. They taste like a cross between a dinner roll and a scone. Sort of a sourdough flavour. Light and fluffy if you make them right and best eaten straight away. Of course, you don't have to have them at breakfast. They'd be perfect with soup or a casserole.
Buttermilk Refrigerator Rolls
1 pkg dry yeast (7 g)
½ cup warm water
4 ½ cups plain flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp bi carb soda
2 cups buttermilk
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl and let it stand for five minutes. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl. After five minutes, stir into the yeast the melted butter and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients to yeast mixture; mix well. Turn dough out on a well-floured surface; knead gently, adding a bit more flour as you go, until dough can be handled. Shape dough into a rough ball; place in a bowl and cover. I use a large tupperware container with a lid but I'm sure a bowl with gladwrap would do too. Refrigerate until needed (dough will keep one week). You need to make the dough a few hours before you want to use it to give it time to rise. I usually make it the day before it's needed.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
On my way home, as I reflected on my goofy-ness, I was comforted by the recollection that earlier today I read that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had managed to leave his eight-year-old daughter behind at the local pub recently. Seems he and his family had gone there for dinner and he and his wife headed home in separate cars each assuming young Nancy was in the other car. They both arrived home a few minutes later and discovered their mistake. Mrs Cameron raced back and collected Nancy.
If the leader of Great Britain can occasionally do something like that, then I'm doing okay.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Library Elf keeps track of all your borrowed books and emails you reminders - three days before it's due, the day before, on the day and every day you are overdue. Then it's simply a matter of renewing the particular books online or putting them near the front door to take back. You don't have to enter any information into the site after the initial set-up. It links in with your library account and automatically updates your library elf account whenever you use your library.
Your local library needs to be registered for you to participate but there's a fair list of Australian libraries that are part of the program. There are also libraries in the US, Canada, UK and New Zealand who are registered. You can link up one library card for free but if you pay a fee of about $15 a year, you can list multiple cards to the one email account and keep an eye on everyone's borrowing so that you are never paying late fees again. To check if your library is part of this program, click here. And if they are not, suggest they join.
So next door she would disappear for hours and hours to practise piano. She was very good. Really good. And really disciplined compared to the effort I was putting into researching my history essays. Before I lived with a concert pianist, I didn’t know much about music practice. One of the things I quickly learnt is that pianists do not start at the beginning of a piece and then play through to the end over and over again. In fact, they tackle the piece bit by bit. Sometimes a phrase at a time. Over and over.
Friday, June 8, 2012
You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
With a quick click, you can add various lighting, texture and focus effects. Here's one of my pictures as an example.
Again using "Dusk".
Again using "Gritty".
And finally using "Boost".
There's plenty of other options and if you forgot to put your lippy on before that special family shot, you can even add that in too.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
To My Old Master.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Sunday, June 3, 2012
It took hours. I started up with some pretty witty titles – plays on words or references to famous films or hymns. Then I’d google the title and find someone had already thought of it back in 2006. After a while, I got frustrated and started googling stupid names. There is already a blog out there called “no name” and another called “hunting plastic giraffes”. I kid you not. So no joy there either.