Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lost

Looked at my engagement ring halfway through the morning and discovered one of the diamonds has fallen out.    It's a tiny one, about the size of a crumb.  Even assuming I only lost it this morning, I've been to more than one place and done a thousand things that could have knocked it out.  Not going to find it again.  Sigh.

Mind blowing

Though I'm no science geek, the electron microscope rates pretty high on my list of amazing inventions.  With it and the variations that came after it, we discovered that the basic building blocks of life were  far more complex than we had previously imagined.  While it might have been assumed that as things got smaller, they got simpler, the development of the electron microscope opened up new layers of complexity in previously unseen objects.

And here comes the mind blowing bit.

The secrets of the universe go on and on, both outward and inward.  God didn't just create the big clumsy things we see with our own eyes, but he crafted the gigantic universe in details that go ever into miniature.  I suspect that we have many more layers of craftsmanship still to find.

At our staff devotions last Friday morning, one of the teachers shared this graphic presentation that illustrates the relative scale of known objects in the universe.  First zoom in to see smaller and smaller objects and then zoom out to the edge of the known universe.  Awe inspiring!

So click here and take a deep breath.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How can this be possible?

A debate arose in our house last night about thinking nothing.  There's some folklore-type theory that men are able to think "nothing".  I find this very difficult to swallow despite the man in my life assuring me it is indeed true.  Surely if you were not thinking, you'd be unconscious.  If you are awake, you must be thinking!  Could it be that men and women just tend to categorize thoughts differently?  What I might term "thoughts about my immediate surroundings with no particular linking or theme" or "trivial and random thoughts", might be classified by a male thinker as "nothing".  But how could you possibly be conscious and yet have no thoughts?  My mind goes all the time and spills over into excessive vocal activity.  I'd like to learn to hold my tongue more often and perhaps harness my thoughts more effectively.  But "nothing"?  Surely not!

So, do you think it is possible to think "nothing"?  If so, are men the only ones able to do this or can women think "nothing" too?  Is it possible to have a total absence of thought or do we just define thoughts differently?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The six things

Since I mentioned the great seminar I went to in this post, I have been trying to find my notes so I could accurately tell you the six things.  Finally remember what happened to them - they got thrown in the bin 8 months later when I cut out the discount coupon I needed from the back of the conference booklet and forgot that I'd written my notes in the middle.  So here, is the best I can do from memory:

1. Family holidays.  They went to the same town every year to see grandparents.  Not spectacular holidays but their children recently insisted on them all going again with such passion that they could see what an impact this regular trip made on the children.  I am not sure it was the holiday location or activities themselves so much as the shared memories of a regular family time together that were treasured.

2. "Do something wicked".  Every now and then, the mother would say, "Let's do something wicked!"  The "something wicked" was something that was extra fun outside of normal operating procedures like walking up to the fish and chips shop and getting hot chips to have for lunch or going somewhere on the spur of the moment.  Not predictable and not regular - just wicked!

3. Not caring too much about appearances.  When their son was in about Year 6, he wanted to grow his hair long.  He was a reliable, mature and helpful child.  He was school captain and a delightful young man.  Here was a kid who was doing well across the board and a blessing to be around.  So they let him.  And all through high school he had a hideous mullet that his brothers now tease him about.  But it was just the outside.  It was his way of standing out but it didn't come with a rebellious heart.  She said she was glad they had made the choice not to make a big deal of something that was only a matter of outward appearance.

4. Treating the kids differently as individuals.  Just because one got a new guitar didn't mean everyone else had to get guitar lessons or a gift of equal value.  They tried to look at each boy and what he needed and not just assume that what worked for one brother was right for them all.

5. Letting them know that nothing would change their love for them. The mum said that she used to play a game with the boys when they were young where she'd say, "You know, nothing will ever stop me loving you."  And one of the boys would say, "What if I burned down the house?"  And she'd reply something like, "Oh, I'd be very unhappy that you did that and it would cause a lot of problems, but I would still love you."  And then the boys would have fun coming up with more and more ridiculous scenarios to which she would reply that she would still love them.  As they grew older, they still told the boys, "Nothing you do will stop me loving you."  Then recently, one of their now grown boys made some seriously bad choices.  And he came home to tell his parents what he'd done and what was happening.  They were very grieved.  And they cried together and it was a painful time.  And then one of the parents said, "You know, this still doesn't change the fact that we love you.  Nothing you can do will stop me loving you."  And the son grinned.  He said, "That's exactly what I said you'd say."  He had told his mate that he was going home to tell his parents what he'd done and his friend had said, "You're crazy!  Your parents are really good people.  You can't tell them that!"  And he had told his friend exactly what they would say.  He had complete confidence in their love.

6.  And number six?  I'm sorry but I've forgotten.  I have a feeling it had something to do with how they approached church and their faith.

I can't do justice to the stories she told or the way she told them.  What really came across was the fact that she was a very ordinary mother, doing very ordinary things, and the warmth with which she reassured us that the details of how we mothered wouldn't matter so much as the big picture was really, really reassuring.  I remember trying very hard not to cry at the end because she was so very encouraging.  And I can't even remember her name!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thank God it's Friday

I know that “Thank God it’s Friday’ is usually said in absence of any kind of thankfulness towards the Almighty, but I’d like to do my bit to remedy that.

Today I’m thankful that I'm heading off to work.  I work once a fortnight and I love my job.  It's a privilege to work there and as a bonus I can't wait to be hanging out at lunch with some old friends.

You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The sins of the uniform


The school car park in the mornings is a tense place. Parents have run the gauntlet of getting their reluctant, sometimes belligerent, offspring ready for school, battled the traffic and arrived at last. All this tension in their brains leads to dopey things as I witnessed this morning while I walked my three charming children across the car park and into school.

One of my children had a disaster just before we had to go out the door. As a result, their sports pants needed to be put in the wash. Problem: they had worn sports uniform yesterday as well so their other pair of pants were in the washing machine. Solution: younger siblings' sports pants. Okay, they are about 10 cm too short but desperate times call for desperate measures. It's only for one day. Surprisingly, neither sibling batted an eyelid about this (not even a mild huff) and we all got off to school on time with my eldest child looking a bit super-cool in 3/4 length sports pants.

So here we are crossing the car park. A large black 4WD pulls alongside us, slowly cruising at about our walking pace and waiting for her turn in the drop-off zone. The mother driving the vehicle happens to look over at our merry party and I can see her face as she scans the kids and looks intently at my child's sports pants. Then she looks across to me very unimpressed, holds my gaze for a moment, and finally whips her head to face forward again with an obvious display of disgust.

Over a pair of too-short sports pants! I laughed out loud. She must be having a very stressful day because why on earth would anyone else care?

Truth is, I've done dumb things like that myself often enough. Maybe I haven't taken the opportunity to share my disgust with the child's mother as this lady did this morning, but I've certainly made plenty of snap judgements about other people's children and their parents. Shame on me. Next time I'm tempted I'm going to try to remember how ridiculous it makes one look to get high and mighty over trifles. As my friend in PNG reminded me a couple of weeks ago: think the best of people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The book I wish someone would write


When I saw this book advertised the other day, I thought I’d found what I was looking for.  Alas, I had misunderstood the title.  I thought it meant 4 mothers of kids who are now aged 35+ giving their advice about raising children.  That, I would buy.  But it’s about 4 mothers who have more than 35 kids between them giving advice about how they manage.  I only have 3 kids and I’m not planning on buying a van any time soon.  Looks like a good book but it's not the one I'm after.

I’ve read a few parenting books, skimmed some more and given up on a couple part way through.  But the thing I really want I haven't found yet.  I want a mother (not a father or a psychologist - bless their hearts; I've read a few of their books too) who’s been there and made it to the other side.  Of course I’d also like them to be able to remember some of the reality of the journey and not give me the old “it’s all so wonderful and fleeting so make sure you enjoy every minute of it” routine.

I did inadvertently stumbled on it last year at a conference.  I had to choose an elective from a set of options that were very ho-hum.  The elective I chose was entitled “Have a New Kid by Friday”.  I’d already read the book, and didn’t think there was much more to say, so I went to it rather reluctantly and didn’t bother taking out my notebook.  Lunch was next on the agenda so at least I had something to look forward to.

However, the speaker totally surprised me.  The mother of three boys in their 20s and early 30s, she briefly mentioned the book and said it was very helpful but that we all really knew that it took much more than one week to raise a child.  Then she said – and this is when I tuned in big time – that they made many, many mistakes raising their kids but here were 6 things that they felt sure they’d gotten right.

The room went nuts.  Every mother in the place, including me, was desperately grabbing at their bag to find paper and pen!  And I listened to every single word after that.

I do find talking to other mothers (and fathers) in the same stage of life very helpful.  But none of us really know what the final quarter of the game will look like.  I want experience and I want perspective.  Hard to find.  Or maybe just hard to start a conversation about.  I don’t know many mothers of that age group that I could just bowl up to and say, “Hey, tell me about your parenting journey.  What worked?  What didn’t?”  That’s an incredibly personal conversation.

There is an element of my enquiry that is flawed however.  Part of me wants to find out what to do so I can do it all perfectly.  Cough, cough, cough.  Never going to happen.  And part of me wants to believe that there is one right way that will guarantee everything will be fine.  I started on that quest early in my parenting life by serious research into the “perfect” way to get babies to sleep/eat/roll over/study physics.
 
It’s just not true that I can find a way to so control the present that I guarantee a happy future for my children.  Seriously.  Read that sentence again if you have to. Seems so obvious to say that but I think most of us run around putting a fair bit of energy into trying to do just that.

But putting aside my ridiculous perfectionism, I would love to hear the counsel of those who’ve made it through.  I know every family is different and that’s why I’d like a panel of mothers.  I’d love to ask, “What did you do with your kids that they look back on as really fun?” and hear 8 completely different answers.  What went right? What would you do differently?  How did you handle teaching them about your faith?  What did you do when they refused to obey you in some area?  What kept your marriage alive?  And so many other questions!

It’s not a hard book to write.  Find 10 mothers who have survived the parenting caper.  Interview them all.  Cut and paste the best responses into a meaningful book.  Send to publisher.  Done.

Come on!  Someone out there write me this book, please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chores - help!

Do any of you out there living with children have success in getting kids to do chores?  I'm looking for a system that lasts longer than two weeks before I give up and forget about it.

At the moment, we have clean up your room and vacuum on Saturday morning.  This is a good start.  But I'd like the kids to be pitching in with some regular jobs around the place other than their own rooms.  They also put their own clothes away and help pick up toys etc.  But not much else.

I was reading this article over at smockityfrocks entitled "10 Signs Your Child Might Be Spoiled and What To Do About it".  Some of it was perhaps an oversimplification (well, that's the nature of blog posts) but this line resonated with me,
"I believe it develops the character of children to require that they regularly serve others with no compensation or special recognition. Daily chores that benefit the whole family, not just care for the child’s own personal needs, accomplish this nicely."
Yep. So far most of the "chores" we've asked the kids to do have been for their own benefit. Make their beds, put their clothes away, brush their teeth.... They aren't really chores. They are just learning to take responsibility for yourself. To tell the truth, we still haven't won the war in most of those areas (oh, the complaining about having to tying up shoe laces or brushing teeth!) but I want to think about the next step which is getting them to pitch in for the good of the household and not just themselves.

But I'm very wary of starting out on grand, colour-coded laminated schemes that I can't maintain. I think after a while the kids will start to think, "Don't worry. This is just a mum-thing. It won't last more than a couple of days. You don't have to take her seriously when she starts one of these things." So I keep my grand plans to a minimum in hope that I'll be able to prove that I mean what I say.  

I have a bad habit of just doing it myself because I want it done fast and I want it done right.  And another bad habit of just not thinking about the fact that one of the kids could be doing it.  Doesn't occur to me to look around for ways they could help and be included.  If on the odd occasion it does occur to me, I quickly tally up the extra effort that might be involved on my part and decide that I'm just too busy tonight to train someone to do a new job.

So, any good advice out there? Pitfalls to avoid? Stuff that's worked for you?

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's over

We finished The West Wing on the weekend.  It was a phenomenal series.  I think I'm going to need a moment.  I know some of you know how I feel.

A big ball of anger with my name of it


This morning I was angry – again – at my children. Not I’m a little bit huffed. Red, eye-ball popping, feet-stomping cross. Because people were not moving my way at my pace and they knew they were irritating me and they were throwing it in my face. And we have to get to school on time! On time, people!!!

I never knew what an impatient, angry person I was until I had multiple children disobeying me at once. Oh, the anger in me that can come bubbling to the surface with the press of the right button! And the right button is usually ridiculous. It’s not darting across the road in front of a truck. It’s not skinning the cat, stealing the car keys or cutting all the power cords off our appliances. None of that actually important stuff. Nope. I’m mad about the big issues like how you sit properly on your chair when I’ve asked you to for the third time. And how you whined about losing you sock and I wasted my time helping you look for it and yet it was lying on top of your pillow the whole time if you’d just bothered to look (add hissing tone and gnashing of teeth).

When I look back on it, in the calm of the middle of the day with my cup of tea at my elbow, it all seems so very unimportant. At the time, I was convinced we had a full-scale rebellion on our hands and that I was being slowly crushed under the ingratitude and insolence of my offspring. Sometimes, a short 10 minutes can explode into the end of the world.

In those moments, I feel like This Is Real and all the other things I’ve ever thought about my life and family – that we are a moderately nice bunch and growing up okay – were just about fooling myself when the truth is that we are all doomed, doomed, doomed. I’m frustrated with their inability to obey perfectly and my inability to pretend I’m enjoying this mothering moment and I feel trapped by their disobedience and I resent, oh so strongly, having to start my day like this again. And I’m screaming inside my head, “How on earth can I pretend to have patience on the outside when I’m about to burst a boiler on the inside? And is anyone actually being fooled anyway?”

And then the lies start to crowd in…

Maybe you don’t love them. Other mothers don’t feel this mad at their kids. You’ve never really loved them, have you?

They hate you. They just put up with you as their mother but they obviously think you’re the enemy. As soon as they are old enough, they’ll leave and never speak to you again. They’ve never really liked you.

This is awful. I hate being at home mothering. This is going to drive me to despair. I want my life back. I want my work where I was loved and appreciated. I hate mopping and sweeping and listening to people complain.

This is never going to get better. And you are making a total mess of raising these kids. Something you are doing is really wrong. Other people know how to do this but you are hopeless at it.

None of this is true.  But the truth? The truth is so hard to hear when the noise of your own angry feelings in your head is loud.

The truth is I’m not built to mother perfectly. I’m built to rely on grace and then to extend it to those around me. I get angry that they don’t perform and I don’t perform to an arbitrary standard of “good” I’ve carved out for myself. Time to give that up. I fall far, far short. So do they. We trust not in ourselves, but in him who gave up himself for us. I’m trying to run the wrong race: the race of performance and self-achievement. Grace is a totally different path.

The truth is, in 20 minutes time, things will have changed. We’ll be in the car. We’ll be on the way to school. We’ll be talking about different things. And I will remember that I do really love them to bits. And if I give in to my seething anger in that moment and tell the kids what I really think of them, and bark orders and ungracefully slam cupboards doors and generally throw a mummy-tantrum, I’m going to regret it in 20 minutes. No one will learn any valuable life-lessons from my fit. No one will behave better tomorrow because I gave in today to the selfish desire to release my anger from its leash.

This morning, I pushed myself to think on these two words, “Trust me”. When I really want to let anger loose, I must remember that my heavenly Father has made it clear that he has other plans for me. And that as much I think being very, very righteously angry right now will make me feel better, it won’t. Instead, if I can trust that God is still in control and knows best, I can focus on being patient and kind and gracious. Yes, still disciplining and correcting those who need it, but without the steaming, bubbling anger that sometimes accompanies my reproofs. My obedience is a matter of trust – do I really think God knows what he’s doing or should I take my own shortcut through the woods? The woods never work out! Truly.

I am dismayed when I think of the stupidity of my anger and temper. But the solution is not going to come from me. I thank God that I’ve found a source of grace that covers all my failings. In the end, I want my patience to come not from me becoming a stronger and more competent person because the truth is that is always going to be a shallow pool from which to draw. I want instead to become a much more dependent person, drawing whenever I need it from the ocean that is God’s grace and patience. Then I’ll never run dry.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why Compassion?


Someone asked me recently why we sponsor children through Compassion. Let me say right at the outset that there are other wonderful organisations doing great stuff - World Vision and Tear just to name two - and so what I'm going to go on to say is not meant to suggest that Compassion are the only ones doing great things. But why Compassion? Here's my thoughts:

Locally based
Compassion works across the globe to support thousands of children but they do it through local churches. A local church, surrounded by poverty, puts their hand up and says, "We want to do something but we don't have the resources." And Compassion comes in and partners with them so that they can reach out to their own community. It's not about a big international aid agency sweeping in and demanding that everyone do things their way. There are lots of aspects of the Compassion project that are common to all centres, but Compassion also understands that the best people to decide exactly how the program will be best implemented are the people inside those communities themselves. Compassion country offices and individual projects are able to tailor their programs to fit with the needs in their community. When you support a child through Compassion, you are enabling a local church to care for those in need.

Financial integrity
Compassion is audited externally and carries out internal audits of its individual projects several times a year. The charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, has given them it's top 4-star rating, eleven years in a row now. I could wax lyrical about how careful they are to be transparent and trustworthy but I'll leave you to follow up more on this by clicking here if you need more information.

Actually works
Not much point in us all running and around and looking busy if it doesn't work. Recent research on Compassion's ministry points to long-term impact in the lives of sponsored children.
"Two researchers and I recently carried out a study (sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development) on the long-term impacts of Compassion International's child sponsorship program. The study, gathering data from over 10,000 individuals in six countries, found substantial impact on adult life outcomes for children who were sponsored through Compassion's program during the 1980s and '90s. We statistically compared formerly sponsored children to older siblings who were too old for sponsorship when the program started in their village. In adulthood, formerly sponsored children were far more likely to complete secondary school and had a much higher chance of having a white-collar job. They married and had children later in life, were more likely to be church and community leaders, were less likely to live in a home with a dirt floor and more likely to live in a home with electricity."
Read the full article which also rated the impact of various strategies for helping the poor here.

The final push for me to sponsor with Compassion was talking with my sister-in-law who had gone to meet one of her sponsored children in India.  When she could look me in the eye and tell me they were the real deal, I was in.  Now, four years on, I can see the changes and opportunities in the life of our first sponsored child for myself.

Child development
Not all child sponsorship programs are the same.  In fact, to distance themselves somewhat, Compassion calls its model "child development" not child sponsorship.  The reason for this is that some organisations, including World Vision, Save the Children and Plan, use child sponsorship to fund projects for a village, rather than services being delivered to the individual child.  The child then benefits from improvements being made for the whole community.  The children of the village are enrolled, and the personal relationship between sponsor and child is created, to make the funding of the larger project - building a school, providing clean water etc - more attractive to the donor.  Child sponsorship has proved to be very effective in getting people to sign on for a long-term commitment to a charity.  Rather than sporadic one-off donations, child sponsorship provides a charity with a regular flow of funds.  That's fine, as long as you understand that is what you are funding and your happy to build a relationship with your sponsored child on that basis.

Compassion, on the other hand does things the other way around.  They invest holistically in the lives of individual children.  They seek to meet each child's specific needs - medical care, food, schooling, tutoring, play, safety, self-esteem and spiritual growth.  The child regularly (varies between once a week to daily) attends their local Compassion project and their growth, progress and health is carefully monitored alongside the delivery of a range of different interventions and opportunities.  This doesn't mean the child's family or community don't benefit at all.  The effects of the care for one child ripple out through the family (e.g. now freed up to send a second child to school because the sponsored child's fees are paid) and to the community as the project provides jobs and stimulates the local economy.  But the focus is on one child at a time.

And then there's the letters
And the chance to build a relationship. I give more, I pray more and I care more because I have a chance to know these young people and be part of their journey. Yes, child sponsorship is used as a neat trick by some organizations to get long-term commitment from people who might otherwise only give once or twice.  That's not always a bad thing - I don't know too many of us who would say we couldn't do with a bit of a push to be more generous not less.  When you connect with people, instead of causes, giving becomes a joy and a privilege.  Our kids don't think of us as "giving to help the poor".  They use names when they talk about sharing with those in need. We read books about their home countries, we try international food, we send drawings, we read letters aloud and each night we pray - by name - for those special friends so far away. And four years down the track, we find that we are the receivers not just the givers.  I was humbled a few weeks back when our child in Tanzania told me how she is praying for our family.

What if I'm wrong?
What if child sponsorship turns out to be useless or a sham?  What if I'm investing money and time in building a relationship that doesn't really mean anything and I'm just fooling myself to make my little Western self feel better about the next latte I buy?  All I can say is, "What a glorious way to be wrong!"  I'm not saying it doesn't matter what you do so long as your intentions are good.  There's been much documented evidence of international aid that's done more harm than good.  But as far as I can research myself, I believe Compassion to be a sound organisation and I'm not going to let the possibility that someone, somewhere, is not as credible as they should be stop me from doing my duty of caring for those in need.  At some point, you've got to jump in the water.

Soon I'm going to post on tips for building a relationship with your sponsored child and also some letter writing ideas to get the fingers typing or the pen moving.  If you have any questions about Compassion or child sponsorship, bring them on!  If I don't know, I'll try to find out.

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. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Thank God it's Friday

I know that “Thank God it’s Friday’ is usually said in absence of any kind of thankfulness towards the Almighty, but I’d like to do my bit to remedy that.

Today I’m thankful for the kids going back to school.  It's great to have the privilege of sending them to school and seeing them learn.  And they love it there.

And in a related topic, I'm thankful that the lady whose car we dented in the school car park this week has decided it's not worth doing anything about.  Ellie's door was open as we were getting all the seat belts done up.  It got caught by a sudden strong gust of wind and banged into the side of the car next to us.  It was a small dimple, but a dent none-the-less.  It's lovely to be the recipient of grace from others.  I did give her all my details in case she changed her mind about it.

You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cannon-ball poppers

Another boys' club craft by the husband.  We modified the craft instructions for the marshmallow shooters from here.  They made theirs with two disposable cups and a balloon.  My husband felt the need to create an industrial-strength version by replacing the plastic cups with sections of PVC pipe.  Of course.  Because why have a craft if you can't visit the hardware store and make it tougher?  So the boys cut the round end off a balloon and placed it over one end of the pipe.  They also sticky-taped the cut end of the balloon to the pipe for a bit of extra strength. By pulling the tail of the balloon back, they could shoot felt pompoms across the room with a satisfyingly loud snap.  Also shoots small crumbled paper balls and mini-marshmallows very effectively.  If you have a couple of disposable cups and an old balloon in your cupboard - get going!  What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An inspiring Olympic moment brought to you by Foxtel

Have you seen the Foxtel Olympics ad?  There's a stellar moment when one of the sportsmen says in a strong and meaningful tone, "Every single second of my life has led up to this moment."

That's usually what happens with seconds coming one after another the way they do.

Suffering

I am not qualified to talk on the matter of suffering.  Because I haven't.  The closest I've come is some serious complications during my first pregnancy.  But everything turned out okay.  There was the possibility of suffering but that's different from the reality of living through it day after day.

However, Alison over at thinking of starting a blog is qualified.  She has three lovely daughters, one of whom has multiple disabilities.  In addition to that, her husband recently suffered severe complications after an operation in which he donated one of his kidneys to save the life of his daughter who was suffering renal failure.  So, yeah.  She's qualified.  She recently wrote a good post on suffering here.  And the words she used reminded me of this song, also by someone who has had to come face to face with hard things.  And although I haven't experienced much that could be considered suffering (not yet), I find the words compelling.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The fox and the child - movie review


The fox and the child (original French title is Le renard et l'enfant) is a beautifully filmed tale of a friendship between a girl and a wild fox. We found it at our local library and added it into our holiday viewing.  Essentially the tale follows the 10-year old girl's quest to befriend and tame the fox she sees in the forest on her way to school one morning.  Adventures through wild forests then take place as the trust builds between the two.  The English version of the film is narrated by Kate Winslet and there's no subtitles.  There are only a few moments of high drama - most of the film is adventuresome without being scary.  Our kids are particularly fond of wild animals and the thought of wandering unsupervised through a forest so it did well with them.  I think if you had hard-core action/adventure watchers, they might find the film a bit gentle.  It's a G and suitable for ages 4+.  If you have a tremendously sensitive child watching, I should warn you that there is one short scene where it looks like the fox may have been killed.  Doesn't last long.  Fox is okay.  But the wolves who appear from time to time might also give some children a fright.

It's definitely a film that would appeal to the free-range kids movement.  After all, the girl spends all day chasing a fox over hill and dale without any adults in sight.  Of course, I'd be fine with this.  I'm the earth mother kind.  Provided of course my child had a GPS tracker strapped to their leg and the fox had passed his Working With Children Check.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cobwebs

Made in 30 seconds using Scribbler Too.  Fun to fiddle around with (though to what good purpose I have yet to figure out).  Images can easily be saved to your own computer for printing or whatever.  Try writing your name or using random swirls.
HT howaboutorange.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Password

There's an article online today which lists the 25 most common computer password from publicly available sources:

1. password
2. 123456
3. 12345678
4. 1234
5. qwerty
6. 12345
7. dragon
8. pussy
9. baseball
10. football
11. letmein
12. monkey
13. 696969
14. abc123
15. mustang
16. michael
17. shadow
18. master
19. jennifer
20. 111111
21. 2000
22. jordan
23. superman
24. harley
25. 1234567


None of them are mine.

But can I just say I have some sympathy with the overly-easy-to-guess password-maker.  I am about one more password away from totally collapse.  Banking, library card, government departments, internet security, book buying websites, online charity, work computer log-in, home computer log-in, blog log-in... if I have to remember one more set of numbers and letters it will be the end of the whole system.  My brain will crash and not a single combination of random alphanumerics will be left in my head and I'll never be able to access anything ever again.  I shall have to live on a deserted island in the tropics and learn the uke.  I'm serious.  Stop with the passwords people!  Bring on the retina scans!  And implanted microchips!  Okay, maybe not the chips.

Thank God it's Friday


I know that “Thank God it’s Friday’ is usually said in absence of any kind of thankfulness towards the Almighty, but I’d like to do my bit to remedy that.

Today I’m thankful that the big pain in my youngest's tummy at midnight turned out to be harmless and not a trip to emergency.  I'm always so grateful when they go back to sleep in peace and all the fear that wells up in my gut subsides.

You got anything you’re thankful for today? Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My type of super-hero

If I decided to put a poster on the wall of my biggest hero it would be a seriously geeky admission. You see, I’m a long-time fan of Professor Graeme Clark, the inventor of the multiple-electrode cochlear implant. That’s the bionic ear in case you’re not sure. I’m known to rave about him on a semi-regular basis. If he had a fan club, I’d sign up.

It’s not just the enormity of what he was able to invent, it’s also the fact that he did it in the face of great opposition. Many colleges felt he was attempting the impossible and that this kind of surgery was unethical on healthy patients. With almost no funding, and in the face of huge scepticism and ridicule, he put all of his reputation on the line for his vision of helping the deaf to hear. His story of determination in the midst of significant obstacles reads like any great hero’s tale.

If you are interested in reading his story, there’s a good interview with him here.  It’s hard to do justice to the man’s integrity and humility.

As a footnote, his wife Margaret was my English teacher in Year 9. She set us a book report on a book of our choice for one term’s school holiday project. We were scheduled to read The Merchant of Venice aloud in class the next term. I badly wanted the part of Portia so I decided to read War and Peace for my book report in the hope of impressing her enough to guarantee me the part. I really am a dag.  But I got the part.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The minister's kid

Yeah, I am one.  I try not to wear it like a chip on my shoulder.  Okay, maybe I do a tiny bit sometimes.  So there's a few songs that hit my heart in the minister's kid bit.  Here's one by Need to Breathe.  Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The spy car

Yesterday, while driving along the freeway on a long-ish trip, my cruise control stopped working. Annoying. But I suspected that I had somehow caused it. You see, my car is a little unusual. I might not be Ziva but just quietly my car probably is.

Our car is a "police pack". It's a standard road car that is made specifically for the police. They do a run of them and sometimes the police don't buy up the full set and they have left-overs. Like rejected Guide Dog puppies. And that's my car. Mild-mannered family car on the outside, gritty cop on the inside.

When we told the kids we were getting a police car, they were very excited. And then totally disappointed as it arrived with no sirens, flashing lights or handcuffs in the back seat. To tell the truth, you really can't tell the difference. It doesn't go extra fast or have a radio in the front or have spaces for concealed weapons. Well, not that I've found yet.

The differences though are there. If you know where to look.

A few weekends ago, my husband was away for the day over the other side of town. It was a busy Saturday with lots of errands to run and a child's birthday party to be squeezed in. I jumped in the car and it wasn't working properly. The motor was running but the dash lights were off, no music would play, and the indicator light noise wasn't working. It was dead on the inside and I really needed the car that day! So I hopped out and checked that the indicators were working on the outside. Yep. Okay, I figured with the indicators, brakes and engine all working the car was still safe to drive, and the music would have to wait. And so we went through the rest of the day like that until my husband could get home to look at the car. We concluded it must be a computer malfunction and that it would have to be looked at.

Then the next morning, he suddenly remembered: this is no ordinary car! What I had done while fiddling around the previous morning was knock a piece of plastic of whose existence I was in total ignorance. It is a plain, dark and unmarked plastic strip. Once pressed, the car enters "surveillance mode". No interior lights. No noises. But the car works perfectly. One press of the Very Serious Button and we had everything back to normal.

Thus when my cruise control suddenly stopped working yesterday, I was pretty sure it was my absent-minded pressing of too many buttons while trying concurrently to explain the geological process behind mountain formation to the three in the back. It's working again now.

So that why I treat The Car with a bit of respect. It's got a higher security clearance than me and it may be armed.... I just haven't found that button yet.

Only 7 seasons?

I've just realized today that my West Wing days are coming to an end.  There's only 7 seasons.  Why didn't someone point that out?  I had 10 in my head.  We are starting Season 7 sometime this week or next week.  And then it's all downhill.  And I'll have to find real friends.  Bother.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm a super-firstborn


Did you know that of the first 23 astronaunts in space, 21 were first borns and the other two were only children? Did you know that entrepreneurs are more likely to come from middle or later born positions in their families (think of Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Steve Forbes)? And the youngest born? Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Eddy Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg are all the youngest of their sex in their families.


I love finding out about people’s birth order in their families. I’m not a big fan of the introverted/extroverted distinction given to people and I’m ho-hum about the ENJFSTXV (or whatever) personality tests. But birth order traits – now that I can go on and on about!


The Birth Order Book: Why You are the Way You are
The Birth Order Book by Dr Kevin Leman is a really fun read and explains why you are all keen on charts and to-do lists and laminated print-offs while your younger sister is always organising things at the last minute. It’s not down on any one group (firsties are not always the best and younger siblings a pain) and it helped me understand a lot about my own personality and drive towards to rules and procedures. In my husband’s family of four boys, the personalities play out pretty much according to the book.

There are some exceptions: if there is a change in gender, the rules don’t all follow through. So if you have a boy, and three years later have a girl, you may well end up with two “firstborns” as they both assume a first-born role in their gender. Likewise, if there is a gap of five or more years between babies, the newcomer may indeed be a functional-firstborn. Additionally, if the firstborn faces extreme pressure from a perfectionistic home, and they have a close-in-age sibling, the two children may reverse positions as the younger enjoys usurping the older and the older sibling gives up to avoid the pressure and competition. Too many exceptions? Well, maybe. But on the whole, it made sense to me.

I was half-way through the book and I read something very interesting: you tend to marry a different birth-order from your own but your closest friends are usually the same birth order as you. That’s when I knew it couldn’t be true. Yes, my husband is a different birth order from me. But my closest friends? I’m an only child and I didn’t have any only-children friends. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning! All four of my closest friends at that stage were the youngest children in their families born more than 12 years after their nearest same-gender sibling or were first-born children who didn’t have another sibling for more than 7 or 8 years after them. In other words, all of my closest buddies were functional-only-children. And I’d never even thought about the fact that they all had that in common!

So how about you? Did you marry a person with a different birth order to your own? Are your buddies in the same birth order as you?  I can't do justice to the whole of the book but it's worth of read if you enjoy thinking about why you tick.  It might be available at your local library or try any of the usual suspects online.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Selfish, selfish me

One thing about school holidays is that it brings out the selfishness in me. Suddenly, my time and space is being invaded by demanding little noise-makers. I feel like singing Bert’s song on Sesame Street, “I like peace, I like quiet…” Well, sometimes I feel like singing. A lot of the time I just feel grumpy and cross.

Don’t get me wrong – I do love the little noise-makers. And we are doing fantastically school-holidayey type things. We’ve been producing our own newspaper, we’ve made butter from cream in a jar, we’ve gone to craft sessions and cooked in the kitchen. But I can’t deny that there are times I want to crawl away and sit in a blissful patch of sun alone – very, very alone. So I’m 80% enjoying school holidays and 20% over the time-and-space-invasion.

However, there’s one really selfish bit of me that I’ve re-discovered this week. It happens when we’ve had a day when I’ve put out extra energy in caring for the kids. Maybe we’ve gone somewhere just for them or I’ve used up oodles of time helping with the fort-making in the family room. All good fun. But then someone does something wrong or forgets their “please” and asks for something in a demanding voice. And this part of me bristles up to its full height and says something like, “How DARE they? After all I’ve done for them today!!!” And then I realise that I’ve been silently keeping score. Mummy kindnesses = 200 points. And if you cross me today, I will be just that little bit angrier, that little bit more biting in my tone, that little bit more like to put you down as I discipline you because after all I did so much for you today.

I say it’s unconditional love, but I get caught out when I am angrier about a certain behaviour on a day that I feel I’ve been extra kind than I would be on a day when I’ve just done an ordinary amount of self-sacrificing. And that, my friends, is keeping score. It’s a selfishness that says I’m owed something for all my hard work. I’m not owed anything – I’ve only done my duty in loving my children. And my duty extends to lovingly correcting them too – even that annoying work is my job and not an extra burden that I might think it is when I’m huffing and puffing about how rascally the kids have been on any given day.

Let me not kid myself about my mothering. It’s got more than a fair dash of selfishness in it. And let me not kids myself about that selfishness – it’s like the tip of an iceberg. It shows itself as a little lump on the surface when down below is the motherload of all my self-interest and sin. And that, folks, is why I need a Saviour.

Friday, July 6, 2012

And please bless the cow and the goat

Lately, I've found myself praying for a particular cow and goat in Africa.  I didn't even realise I was doing it at first.  Then I caught myself at it again this morning and laughed at the mental picture of the oblivious cow and goat chewing their cuds merrily unaware that a crazy lady in Australia is praying on their behalf.  On the other hand, if His eye is on the sparrow, then surely it is on the cow and the goat too.

Why this cow and goat (whose names I'm yet to learn)? They belong to one of our Compassion sponsored children.  This particular boy lost his father a few years ago when he was around 8.  His mother and younger siblings are still alive but he has had to move a long way from home into his uncle's household. I am so fond of this boy!  He wrote me the letter before last to tell me he'd be sending his end-of-year grades in the next letter.  He was just getting me warmed up for the big reveal.  And then in his latest letter he wrote to say he'd come 3rd in his year level out of 59 students.  So proud of him!  What an achievement!  His current picture boasts a big cheeky grin that makes you smile just looking at it.

Anyway, a while ago we sent a family gift to him*.  As well as telling us about his outstanding school report, he thanked us for our gift and told us he'd bought a cow and a goat and some other things with it.  He often tends cows in the school holidays so I'm sure he's proud to have one of his own in the herd.  He told us the family's friends and neighbours all rejoiced with them because of the cow and the goat.

The thing is, these animals are important now! The family might be milking one or both of them or planning to breed them. And now I can't help but think of all the things that could happen to a cow or a goat. Bad delivery of a calf or kid? Stolen? Foot rot? Goat fever? Flies in the eyes? Made into a floor rug? Who knows! And so I've found myself each morning praying for his family and then praying for the health of the cow and the goat. It's crazy! I'm praying regularly for two farm animals on the other side of the world. But I am fond of that boy - he's stolen my heart just a little. And I'm sure God doesn't mind me including the cow and the goat in my list.


*Compassion sponsors give a monthly donation of which approximately 80% goes to the delivery of Compassion services to children and 20% goes into admin and fundraising.  But Compassion sponsors are also able to send financial gifts directly to their child and their family.  This is limited in amount and frequency, and administered by local staff after extensive consultation with the child's family.  Gifts tend to be what we would call "necessities" (a bike to get to school, clothing, sheets of iron to fix the roof, job training for dad, kitchen utensils and extra food) and provide families with extra assistance or sometimes opportunities to improve their situation in life.  The gifts are purchased locally where possible which of course benefits others in the local economy.  In the case of a child or family gift, 100% of the gift goes to the family.  And this is strictly accounted forAnd 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.

Thank God it's Friday


I know that “Thank God it’s Friday’ is usually said in absence of any kind of thankfulness towards the Almighty, but I’d like to do my bit to remedy that. 

Today  I’m thankful for my mother-in-law getting through a tricky operation earlier in the week.  We're very glad she came through okay.

You got anything you’re thankful for today?  Join in! Let’s count our blessings for a bit.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

School holiday update

Officeworks craft session: worth going to, kids enjoyed themselves.  It was basically a few vaguely structured ideas and piles of coloured paper, shiny bits and pieces, pipe cleaners, glue sticks, pencils, textas and scissors.  One boy asked right at the start of the session, "Are you going to tell us what we have to do and how to do it or can we just do anything we want?"  An audible sigh of relief was heard around the table when the Officeworks staff member said, "Oh no. You can do anything you want!"  My kids glued and cut very happily for the full hour.  I looked at printers (which I'm sure was the specific goal of hosting school holiday programs).

Bunnings kids workshop: disappointing craft session.  The craft was enjoyed by the kids (painting a small flat wooden animal shape) but really only took 15 minutes.  Good if you have kids with short attention spans, I suppose.  I was hoping for something more in the line of hammers and nails and blocks of offcuts.  No such luck.  On the plus side were the free plastic aprons we took home and the blow-up Bunnings hammer one of my kids scored for being a good sport and volunteering to go last when they ran out of supplies and had to get more.  But now that we have the aprons, I don't think I'd make a special trip for that one again.

How's your school holidays going?

Kids Games


My love of playing board and card games means I have a vested interest in getting my kids hooked on  games.  I'm hoping they'll play with me when I'm old and cranky.  Here's four games for kids that have been hits at our house.

Spot it!


A card game that can be enjoyed by adults and kids.  It says from age 7 up, but we've seen two four-year olds happily playing it together, albeit at a much slower pace.  It is very non-age specific however and adults will enjoy it too.  There are a number of variations of the game but basically you have a whole stack of cards with pictures on them. Every card has one picture in common with every other card in the pack. And so it's like a kind of crazy-paced snap where you all race each other to call out the match between your card and the stack. The more complex versions of the game have you swapping or giving away your cards to other players with the aim of getting rid of all your own cards. It's loud and fun. No pieces to lose - if one of the cards got ruined it wouldn't matter - and it's small enough to fit in your handbag so it's a good game to take on holidays. At the time I bought our set last year, it wasn't available in Australia but it's easily bought online at Amazon. We bought several sets last year to give away at Christmas time. Thanks to our friends in PNG who introduced us to this one!
Sleeping Queens



Sleeping Queens

Invented by a six-year old! But it doesn't feel juvenile and will appeal to both boys and girls. Aged 8 up but younger kids can play with some assistance in learning the rules. The illustrations on the cards are delightful and the game quite distinct from other kids' card games with enough different moves to make it exciting. Simple to learn but fun to play. I'd go anywhere between 6 - 12 years for this one. Don't know if you can get this one in Australia but again easily sourced at Amazon. Thanks to our friend from Texas for introducing us to this one!

Boggle

My mum and I played a lot of Boggle when I was a kid. One thing about Boggle that I'm sure gave Mum a headache was the way you had to set the board each time by placing on a big plastic lid and giving all the letter dice a big shake. It was so loud you could have heard it in another suburb. But now they've redesigned Boggle so that it's an all-in-one contraption. The shaking is very muffled and the timer is built in. In case you aren't familiar with the classic, you have a certain time in which to make as many words as you can from the randomly produced group of letters. You can go sideways, turn corners or zigzag as long as each letter is touching the other. Great for beginning spellers right up to adult. Compact size with no pieces to lose so also good for taking on holidays. This one you can easily get at Target, Kmart or BigW or Amazon if you are not in Australia.


Kinder Bunnies

Kinder Bunnies
If you are a fan of the adult version - Killer Bunnies - you'll enjoy teaching Kinder Bunnies to your kids. The kids version is pronounced "kinder" like in "kindergarten" and is a simplified version of the hilariously random adults' version. Any child from six up, with a little bit of reading under their belt, can have a go at this one. There are three or four versions of the game which the kids can work through once they've mastered the simplest level. The versions become more like the adult version as they go along so that by the time they've mastered the last stage, it's not a very big jump to learning to play Killer Bunnies. Killer Bunnies is supposed to be for ages 13+ but my 8 year old can play quite successfully having cut her teeth on Kinder Bunnies. This is important because I need someone to play with when the poker night girls are busy. Amazon again has this one.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Poo

Those of you who have had children and lived through the poo and bottom joke stage, tell me please:

What did you do about it?  How worked up should I get about it?

I know it's pretty age-appropriate for this stage but it's not conversation I care to have in my house and I am concerned about where it goes next if left unchecked.  On the other hand, I don't want to turn it into such a big deal that I fan the flames.

So..... heap on the advice!

Consistent parenting

Yeah, we are all for consistency in our house.  Consistency will win the day, eh?  Often after another meal in which I have been soundly lambasted for my culinary choices and much whining and refusal has occurred, I smile at my husband and quip sarcastically in a sing-song voice, "See?  If we are just consistent they will come around."  I say it sarcastically but not with malice.  It's just the way it is and if you laugh at it a bit it helps.

I was reminded of that this afternoon as we tackled the only concentrated learning task we've scheduled for the school holidays.  Our handwriting - I include the whole household in this,even the cat - is lousy.  And because handwriting issues featured prominently in the mid-year school reports, we've decided some extra practice is in order.  I bought three handwriting books at our local educational bookshop and we are doing a page a day.  Five pages earn a lunch order.  There was much enthusiasm until the first lunch order was achieved.  After that it was decided that lunch orders weren't really worth the pain.  I disagreed and pointed out that they could either do the handwriting practice and earn lunch orders or just do the handwriting practice.  They opted for the former and got on with it with no small amount of huffing and sighing.

Anyway, this afternoon we sat down for our torture handwriting session and one child again dragged the process out with distractions, mild tantrums, huffing and procrastinating.  I thought to myself after it was all done, "It's okay.  Just be consistent and in a couple of weeks they'll figure out that it's just better to get on with it and do it."

And then I stopped.  And thought that through.

Nope.  Don't think so.

If past performance is any indicator, I think they'll probably try to wriggle out of it every night right down to the last page of each book.  So be it.  My job is to hang in there, even if consistency doesn't win the day.

So, can I just say, I think consistency may be a modern parenting myth?  Sure, if you are inconsistent things are probably going to be harder - nobody will know whether you really mean it or not.  But even if you are doggedly consistent, kids will just keep hating some stuff and give you a hard time about it.  That doesn't mean I am doing it wrong or that I need to consult another parenting book for a better solution.  There seems to be this constant background noise in modern parenting that says something along the lines of "if you are doing it right, it won't be painful and annoying".  Myth.  Hard work is what it is.  And if I think otherwise I am going to be (a) more likely to despair of ever getting it "right" and (b) more like to choose to side-step difficult confrontations with the kids because I don't want to face the inevitable conflict.  I suspect previous generations had a much higher whinge and moan tolerance than we do (or they just shoved them outside into the snow to play until dinner).  Because there wasn't any other option.  Now when things get tough I try to negotiate a solution, buy some kind of product to solve the situation or book them into an after-school activity that will engage them better.  Every now and then I need to be reminded that the reality of life with kids is noisy, somewhat chaotic and often messy.  And that's normal.

It just means I need to block out the whinging, drink some more tea and get on with it.  It's my job.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

School Holiday ideas

It's that time of year again - the winter school holidays.  With active kids this can be a hard couple of weeks when it's too cold for many outdoor activities.  I think mothers have to have their wits about them in the winter holidays.  My kids like to "cave" for at least the first day.  Don't ask them to go anywhere or see anyone.  There's usually a bit of crankiness and tears and then they unwind and start to remember how to play make-believe and waste time effectively.

Waste time?  You can't be serious! Aren't they supposed to be filling their lives with meaningful opportunities for self-development?  


Maybe. But our school has a rather hyperactive schedule during the school term and we all need a few slow days to recharge. This morning we discovered that if you put a plastic drinking straw through a pencil sharpener, you can make a curly bit of plastic. There's a school holiday well spent right there. Great discoveries can only be made if you have enough time to be very bored.

However, we will eventually come out of our caves and require stimulation again.  If I don't plan some things, my children will develop a Lord of the Flies scenario in the back room.  So here's some of our ideas from this year and other years. Do share any of your good school holiday tips in the comments section - I'd love it if we got a really great list together!

Zoos & museums are great but you have to be prepared to deal with the big school holiday crowd.  With three kids to look after, I find those locations a bit daunting to do on my own when they are crowded.  And I usually come home rather tired and fussed.  But if your kids are a bit older or wiser than mine, you can spend a great day looking at stuff in an unhurried kind of way.

Trip to the op. shop (thrift shop).  This morning we spent up our pocket money at a local op. shop.  A load of junk treasure was brought home. But this made the younger folk very happy and their maths skills got a work out in the process of finding a "bargain".  Part of the afternoon will now be taken up in finding creative uses for the things that have come home with us.  If your kids don't get pocket money, try giving everyone $2 and letting them go for it.  You have to be prepared to have something awful come home with you (although I do use my power of veto quite often for things like candles or strange soft toys) but our kids make a real game of finding something they think is the very best use of their $$$.

Free activities!  Our local shopping centre always has stuff on.  I usually head to the websites of the three closest shopping centres and see what they have on.  But not always because I want to go - next week our closest centre has one of those horrific stage shows on with adults in large neon costumes miming to some loud merchandise-related music.  Save me!  I will not be at the shops at 11 am or 3 pm next week.

That said, this morning we rocked up for the petting zoo (or as my middle child likes to call it, the "patting farm").  The rabbits and guinea pigs stole the show.  We also lined up for the free kite making but my kids pulled out of the line when they realised the kites were already made up and had a printed black and white picture for colouring in.  My eldest said, "I don't really want one with a random picture".  Obviously, an insult to her artistic integrity!  I was quite happy not to hang around for 20 minutes more anyway so we all headed home.  We agree to make our own non-generic kites another day (how am I going to get out of that one?  A job for their dad maybe).

Other than shopping centres there are a range of places that have school holiday activities.  We are booked into a Bunnings craft activity - you can go to their website to book into your local store.  And we are also trying out an Officeworks craft session - you have to ring your local store to book in but it does say on their website that most stores are hosting them.

And last, but certainly not least, is the local library!  They always have some kind of school holiday thing going on so their website is a must-check.

The local library (again).  But this time just to check out books.  A trip to the library when tempers are getting short can reboot the morning or afternoon nicely.  As well as the kids checking out books, I try to find some audio books I can have up my sleeve if we all start to get on each other's nerves at a later point.

Invite friends over.  Share the pain of the second week with another mother.  Sure the kids will still fight and make a mess in the back room but you can pretend to be 80% oblivious while drinking tea and chatting in the kitchen.  Send food back every now and then and they should mostly leave you alone.

Then there are the usual range of rainy-day activities: board games, card games, making a fort with sheets and furniture, reading aloud, room tidying and cooking.

TV and computer.  Not all bad. A little bit of mindless watching is not the end of the world. Better than screaming madness especially if you get to choose what goes on. But don't let it be a substitute for periods of mind-numbing boredom. Kids need that too. If you don't like what's on offer on the TV, remember ABC's iview allows you to access a wide range of programs and watch them on the computer. We are fans of "Escape from Scorpion Island" which is like Survivor for kids.

I realize none of these are revolutionary!  But sometimes we forget from holiday to holiday what we used to do.  So do share - what do you do to keep the holidays flowing smoothly?

Monday, July 2, 2012

West Wing pain

Half way through Season 6, I've had to return the Season 6 discs to the library.  Someone put them on reserve so I couldn't just renew at the end of the week like I usually do! I'll have to wait at least a week before I can get them back.  I might have to actually do something useful with my evenings.  This is not good.  Not good at all.

See For Yourself

year1-Term1-aSee For Yourself is a 4-year course of Sunday School material aimed at high school students.
 It was written  with church groups in mind but has also been used by a number of Christian schools as their curriculum for lower-middle high school Bible classes.  It's written from a reformed evangelical viewpoint and covers much of the Westminster Confession of Faith though not in the kind of explicit manner that would put a Year 9 student to sleep.  All of the writers were professional teachers..... and I was one of them.  Which is why I thought I should mention it on my blog.  So if your church or Christian school is looking for Bible teaching material with substance and style, click here and you'll be catapulted over to the See For Yourself website where you can look at lesson samples and find ordering information.

4 pm

Yesterday in church we sung "Tell out my soul". One of the verses struck me in a new way and provoked a wry smile. Let me just say that I'm going to take it completely out of context. But I did enjoy the part where we sung,

"Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high".

I thought, "That could very well describe my game plan every afternoon from about 4 pm onwards."

It's Monday

Go over and do the quiz with Ben.  It's fun.