Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Save me

Can I just say, I really, really, really don't like the Magic School readers?  Painful.  Worse when read aloud.  I can't be the only one.  I have a quiet fantasy about some kind of mini-torando attacking the reader boxes and doing away with only the Magic School bus books.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Find my family



One day, I asked my dad what his grandfather's name was.  Dad had no idea and I kind of felt heartbroken about that.  So I said, "I'm going to see if I can find out."  It didn't take long to find my great-grandfather's name and in the process I was totally hooked on family history.

If you think family history is just a list of names and dates, or that the aim of the game is to find out if you're somehow connected with royalty, you've missed your mark.  There's so much more to find than just names.  Even people from a long time ago have often left traces that open up a world of history within your own family.

I found an ancestor on my mother's side who owned a pub and was murdered by the convict labourer he employed.  Through following up on coroner's reports, I read of the sad death of one of my husband's great-great grandmothers who died in childbirth after a terribly long and agonizing labour in the diggings of the Victorian goldfields.  Several family members spent long periods in mental institutions in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Another ancestor on my husband's side is responsible for some of the beautiful stone work still visible today in the older buildings around Sydney.

And it's not all that distant.  As you sift through it all, you realize that those events have influenced your own in many ways.

So if I've whetted your appetite and you've never tried researching family history, here's some links and ideas to get started...

1.  Get a notebook.  Put everything you find in there.  Don't lose it.

2. The first thing you want to do is collect all the dates you can.  Be bold, grab the phone and ring up your oldest relative. Tell them you're looking into the family tree and they'll usually be more than willing to spill the beans.  Make sure you have as much of the following as you can get:  grandparents names (the fuller the better - ask about maiden names too), birth dates (even if they can't tell you the year of someone's birth, note down the month or day if they remember it), number of marriages, number of children they might have had and any death dates.  If anyone can remember further back to great-grandparents, you're doing well.

Write everything down.  You might not think it's important now but you might need to go back to it.  When you search family records, a number of people with the same name as your family member can come up.  To work out which person actually belongs to your family, something like "they were born in March, the same as my brother" can become crucial.

2. Now you can start searching records.  Check your local library's website and find out what resources they have.  Our library has a room dedicated to family research and has a large collection of records on CD ROM from all around Australia as well as some overseas records.  Members of our library can even use the library's Ancestry.com account for free.  They had some unusual resources that I didn't know even existed.  For example, to celebrate the 1988 bicentenary, the good people of WA compiled a huge biographical index of all their early WA ancestors.  My mother's family appeared several times and it included short histories and memories from other branches of the family tree that our side had never heard about.  Invaluable!

3.   Here's a set of links from the National Library of Australia to get you started.You can begin your searches using the Births, Deaths and Marriage records of each Australian state.  Some states, like mean old Victoria, will charge you to view their records.  That's why it's really worth asking your local library as they have probably already purchased the whole lot.  But there are other records in that list that are free to search.

4. You can pay the big bucks, and join something like Ancestry.com.  They have a free trial so it might be worth beginning there and seeing if you want to go on.

5. Once you have names and vague locations for your ancestors, you can research side-ways into their lives.  Run your list of names through the coroner's records for example.  Or through the Australian War Memorial's indexes.  Trove, which is part of the National Library of Australia, will let you search online through all of it's books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more.  Putting family names through Trove, may bring up interesting newspaper articles (turns out one of my husband's family was arrested for assault after a fiery union rally and I found another fascinating article about a plane crash on my grandfather's farm that I knew nothing about) and photographs (you might be able to find photographs of houses or work places connected with your family).

6.  If you have family members living in and around a certain town or region, make sure you search library catalogues for books about that area.  Check whether that town has a local historical society online. Often local historical societies have received funding to write the history of a local area and your ancestors may well be featured.

A final thought: when I started researching to find my great-grandfather's name, I had no bigger goals than that, but I was surprised to find how much I came to appreciate having "roots" and a history to who I am.  In trying to get all the information I needed, I had to have several long chats with elderly relatives on my husband's side of the family.  For a newcomer to the family, that became a way in to a much deeper relationship with my husband's grandparents.  By the time I was married, my husband's paternal grandmother was quite unwell.  When I went to ask her about her family's history, she was already losing her short-term memory.  She had no idea who I was even after I was introduced to her.  But we had brought along her childhood family photo albums.  And although I think she would have struggle to tell me what day it was, she knew every detail of those photos.  I even asked her the name of one of the dogs in picture of the family farm and she knew instantly.  So that afternoon, I had a lovely chance to glimpse her real self, unclouded by age and muddled thoughts, as we chatted about things from long ago which seemed as fresh to her as yesterday.  I am so thankful to have had that special privilege.

And see that lady up on the verandah in the picture?  That's Abigail.  She's on my side of the family.  That's the hotel they owned.  Not the one with the convict - that's a different one.  Come to think of it, there were an awful lot of publicans in the family line.

Have you ever looked into the family tree?  Any convicts you are prepared to own up to?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bryson on science and religion

Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything is a tour of scientific discovery.  Bryson is in Australia this week for a lecture at the Florey Institute.  Here's a really interesting quote from him about science and religion:

''It did make me realise that if I were a spiritual person, then everything in science would reinforce that, rather than contradict it,'' says Bryson. ''People who are fundamentalist Christians, they seem to think that science is somehow opposed to their beliefs, that it's a threat to their belief. And it is in the sense that you can't take the Bible literally, and all those sorts of things.
''But actually, when you look at science and the science of the universe and the fact that we are - so far as we know - the only living things in it, it's even more kind of miraculous and wonderful.''
And that would feed straight into spiritual beliefs. ''If you go right back to the very beginning, and you're looking for an explanation, God is as good as anything.
''So what caused the Big Bang? The answer is, we don't really know scientifically, or I believe it was God. Or what caused life to start on earth when it did? Well, it's either we can't say for sure scientifically, or you could say, well, God did it.
''This isn't at all inconsistent with profound religious beliefs.''  From here

Friday, October 26, 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 my friend's successful surgery yesterday.  Complications with twins meant some tricky in-utero surgery.  How amazing is it that they can do that?  Thankful for two little heartbeats this morning.  Thankful too that the first day of pre-treatment for my mother-in-law went okay.  Thankful too that my grandmother-in-law, who had a small stroke yesterday, is probably going home from hospital this afternoon.  Yep, it's been a big week.

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

Random thoughts on my current stage of child-rearing


1.   When they were very young, I remember feeling a lack of personal space. My own body was not my own. Little people were either inside, feeding from, climbing on, tugging or sleeping on my body. That was tiring but my body is by-in-large my own again now.

A new invasion has begun however – inside my head. Someone is always talking, asking, challenging, requesting, debating or singing. I can’t hear myself think! It’s the mental, not the physical space, that I feel a lack of now. Sometimes I fear my head might actually explode from the continual mental multi-tasking. Yesterday, I was driving in peak-hour traffic when someone in the back asked me if there were any numbers that when spelt produced a palindrome. I nearly sobbed.

2.    When they were little, they were intense and tiring and in a lot of cases this was beyond their control. They needed feeding in the middle of the night – not their fault. They were too little to put things away properly and clean up without making more mess. They delayed me in all sorts of ways that they didn’t realize were irritating and difficult. They lost shoes and left jumpers in odd places. But they were little and what was required on my part was patience.

Now they are older, they know better. They can keep track of their stuff, be on time, help out, put things back and be considerate. And they choose not to. I think I had a secret idea that they would get with my program as soon as they were old enough to understand it. Surprise! That’s not how children work.

As this has dawned on me, I have felt a great well of resentment rising up. I resent that I have to tell them that again. I resent that they are still doing that. At times, I’ve dearly wanted to let loose and tell my offspring exactly what I think of them. So what I need now, perhaps more than patience, is self-control. What I don’t need is to be constantly talking to myself about how awful and hard-done by I am. The marathon goes on and it doesn’t help to sit down and moan in the gutter or stand in the middle of the road and have a fit. Instead, I need to exercise self-control (and gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, patience) in continuing to correct, remind, discipline and encourage without blowing my top about their failure to comply. Even if it is their fault. And I feel terribly guilty writing this because we had a shocker of an afternoon/evening yesterday and my level of resentment was sky high.

3.   I think it’s time to resign. Not from mothering in general but from that idea of motherhood I had before I actually became a parent. Wasn’t I going to be a lovely mum? Full of gentle wisdom, cuddles, book-reading and baking. Able to calmly explain and correct while sympathetically wiping away little tears. Turns out that I’m just as selfish as I was before I had kids. And even if I thought I was the perfect mother, worshiping my own achievements wouldn’t make me happy.

The reality is, I’m going to continue to be bad-tempered, easily distracted, grumpy, self-centred old me. That real me has been loved, rescued and bought by Jesus. He was able to do perfectly everything that I am unable to measure up to so that I could be set free.  Free to care for my family with lots of stumbles, mistakes, tenderness and occasionally even deep-felt love.

But, oh, this is an intense phase we seem to be in at present! And my ever-faithful husband is going to be busy away from home for most of this weekend. Send chocolate.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Big day

Intensive chemotherapy begins today for a member of our extended family in preparation for a bone marrow transplant scheduled for next week.  My current bedside reading:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Good advice

I need to hire this girl to do the talking in my house.  Would save me hours.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recycled snack containers

What to do with all those 2L milk containers?



You can make this:




Click here for the tutorial from Disney.


The boys' club had a go at these last term. We pre-drew the lines for them and they did the cutting out. We skipped the part where you make little holes with a thumbtack (thumbtacks and 6-year olds - I don't think so). Then they personalized their container using Sharpie markers. Milk container plastic will cut very easily with a standard pair of scissors so there's no need for knives. The velcro closures are easily purchased at the supermarket or fabric store. Washable and multi-purpose. Good fun.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pizza anyone?

This has been slowly taking shape in my backyard.  All my husband's work.  First trial fire was lit this weekend.  Modifications have been made in preparation for the real firing-up in a couple of weekends.  Can't wait.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Does it make a difference?

There is some really bad stuff in the world.  The world-wide problems that stem from poverty seem so very insurmountable. 

But last month UNICEF announced that the number of children dying from preventable diseases around the world has dropped dramatically. About ten years ago, the statistic was that over 30,000 kids died every day from things like malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Then it dropped to 21,000. Now, we’re told the number is around 19,000.  And that is despite a rise in population figures.  That's good, good news.

Now take a deep breath and remember that number - 19,000 children - was for every day. Not a figure for a year or a month. Preventable diseases.

That's deeply distrubing isn't it?

Nope, we're not ever going to get all the world's problems all cleaned up and sorted nicely.  But extreme poverty is something we can tackle and reduce.  We can make a measurable difference.  We just have to want to do something about it.  For goodness sake, let's do that!

Statistics courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/theres-more-hay-to-haul/#ixzz29Y0PPTaG

Friday, October 19, 2012

Awesome

Worked today teaching Year 6.  They often write their name in big block letters on the closed pages of a thick book like their dictionary.  Looking at one of my students today I noticed he'd used blue pen and a yellow highlighter to write MR AWSOME on one of his textbooks.  If only his spelling was awesome too.

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 kids' kindness when they forgive me.  I've been sick this week and downright cranky.  They've certainly had to forgive me a lot.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gangnam style

This little ditty was playing loudly from a vehicle in the school car park this afternoon.  So I felt a motherly duty on the way home to explain the intent behind the song.  Having previously read about the phenomena in wikipedia, I explained with the mellow voice of a sage that it is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the "wanna-bees" who long to impress by trying to emulate the super-rich of the Gangham area of Seoul.  I think I came across as wise and knowledgeable as I expanded their understanding of pop culture.

And they took that all in...right?  They understand it on a satirical level now...don't they?

Thankfully, they haven't seen the video.  I think it's best described by Matt Buchanan and Scott Ellis of the Sydney Morning Herald when they say it "generally makes you wonder if you have accidentally taken someone else's medication".

The problem is - even just saying the name - it gets in your head!  They don't call these things "viral" for nothing.  And if you have no idea what on earth I'm talking about, for goodness sake let it be.  Hold on to your precious brain cells while you still can!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

IKEA - how many stores do you need?

Interesting article in the Brisbane times today.  Here's the section that caught my eye:

As part of the strategy to improve its competitive edge and spread costs, Mr Hood said Ikea would look to double its Australian store base from five on the east coast to at least four in Sydney, four in Melbourne and three in Brisbane. There was potential to build a store in Canberra and on the central coast.
 
Four stores each for Sydney and Melbourne? Do we really need four IKEAs?

By the way, did you notice the article repeatedly used "Ikea" instead of the correct "IKEA"?  It's an acronym, people.

In the mirror

I have this wrinkle and I'm not happy.  Well, I have a few actually.  But I have this particular wrinkle that is moving from a wrinkle to a trench.  Deeper and deeper.  It's between my eyebrows, slightly to the left.  I'm pretty okay with getting older: I'm very slowly going grey without a care in the world.  But I'm very affronted by this particular wrinkle. You know how they say you shouldn't worry about your wrinkles because they are marks of character?  Or people call them "laugh lines"?  Well, mine is a frown line and I'm afraid it might very well be a mark of character.

I suppose being grumpy about it and frowning when I look in the mirror isn't helping either.  Bother.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The downside of Google

I don't remember life before Google. Okay, maybe I do.  Somewhere in my dim past I can still vaguely make out a time with cassette players, hyper-colour t-shirts, episodes of Family Ties and wondering how much longer Bob Hawke would be PM.  Oh, so long ago!

Nowadays, I google multiple times a day.  I go to clean something and think, "There must be a better method for this.  I'll google it!"  And, lo and behold, there are 132 alternative methods most involving bi-carb soda (a placebo cleaner that motivates you to actually scrub whatever it is to which you've been avoiding applying elbow grease).

What did we do before Google?  Well, here's where I think one of the little drawbacks of the wonder of Google comes into play.  I think we probably asked a person.  Maybe, we rang our granny or we asked our neighbour or we chatted about it over a cup of tea.  I don't need to ask a person now.  I just google.

If I didn't have google, maybe I'd talk more with some of the older women at church and find out how they managed their family life.  Or maybe I'd ring Nana to find out what I could possibly make for tea tonight with one strip of bacon, a can of tomatoes and a dehydrated lettuce.  Don't get me wrong - I love blogs, youtube clips and random sites of household tips.  But maybe I'm missing out on something.  Google makes me a little more self-sufficient and a little less likely to share.  That can't be all good.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The bedtime ladder is back

There has been a spike in revolting behaviour in the house of late.  Somewhere towards the end of the school holidays, respect seemed to get lost amongst the biscuit crumbs and talking back and ignoring requests seemed to get a toe-hold with the little people of the house.  So we are bringing back the Bedtime Ladder.

Oh yes, folks, we are.

There was a gratifying look of stunned horror gracing the faces of our dear ones when this was announced at the dinner table. 

The Bedtime Ladder came to us via Nigel Latta's book Politically Incorrect Parenting.  In his book, it is called The Ladder of Certain Doom.  This is undoubtedly a much better title but we first started using it when our eldest two were only 6 and 4 so The Ladder of Certain Doom was felt to be a bit much.  We used it for a while and then dropped it when one child had a timed night-time medication which complicated things.


But now it's back and it feels so good.  We might break out into a little parenting remix of "Backstreet boys are back again..." just to celebrate.

Anyhow, the Bedtime Ladder is simple and wonderful.  You draw yourself a little ladder.  You make up some little cards with your offsprings' names on them and add a little blu-tac.  Everyone starts the day at the top.  If they start to cause trouble, you simply move them down a rung.  If they change their tune, help out a bit and smarten up, feel free to move them up again.  It's instant, it's visual, and it works.

Latta's book is really worth finding at your local library.  Be warned that it's got a bit of language in it, but it's outstanding for three reasons:

1.  It lifts some of the huge weight of parenting-guilt some of us carry around.  Parents make mistakes and it's usually pretty fixable unless you really did throw the baby out with the bathwater.

2. He presents clearly-explained tools.  I've read a pile of Christian parenting books that are mainly theory and theology.  That's helpful and good.  But sometimes you just need to know how to get Fred to eat those veggies so you can all move on with your lives.

3. It's funny.  Snort-into-your-cup-of-tea funny.  Which made me feel less like I was parenting the good ship Disaster.


Friday, October 12, 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 possible appointment of a new minister for our church next year.  We meet him Sunday week.  We've been without a full-time minister for a year.  It would be so nice...

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Still learning

 
 
 
I was prompted to post a picture of my son's chest of drawers by this excellent post from Cath.  It helps to be reminded that we are all still learning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Send the gift of bewilderment

My Mum's birthday is coming up this month.  I've just been shopping online for a gift I could have delivered in India.  This hamper caught my eye: "Bewildering hamper". Flowers, cashews and a chocolate cake.  Because who doesn't need some extra bewilderment in their life?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thumb or finger sucking solution

Got a hard-core thumb or finger sucker?  No one in our house has been a thumb-sucker. It’s the middle two fingers of the right hand that are loved around here. I’m not one to get hot under the collar about little kids sucking – it’s natural and it’s harmless. But now that permanent teeth have arrived, the issue can no longer be ignored.

We started last year with the “serious chat” about the damage that would be done if the sucking continued. That didn’t work. We tried band-aids. They would be taken off in the middle of the night once the urge got too strong. We tried horrible nail polish. You can get around that by sucking the fingers of the other hand or, if Mum gets wise to that, you can quickly suck – yuck – and wipe the nails on your pyjamas until you’ve gotten enough of it off to make it bearable. So were applying horrible chemicals regularly and getting nowhere.

These school holidays, I got desperate. The teeth are noticeably being affected now. So I order the T-Guard® FingerGuard®.


It costs a lot! Over $100 once you include postage. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And I figured it was still cheaper than dental work!

The FingerGuard® slips over the two sucker fingers and then is secured at the wrist with a hospital-style wrist band. You have to cut the band to get it off. The tubes over the fingers stop the sucker from being able to create a vacuum when sucking thus making comfort-sucking virtually impossible. It’s a good system and the design works well. We had some initial trouble because unless the bracelet was very, very tight, our child could wriggle and wriggle until her fingers were out of the guard.  So it was harder to fit than it first appeared. Nevertheless, I think for most kids it would be a great solution.  The same company makes the ThumbGuard® as well.

Alas, it was not a great solution for our child however. Firstly, the middle two fingers of the other hand became a handy replacement. The fix for this is to buy another FingerGuard® for the other hand. But at $100 each that’s a big call. So in desperation, we tried Elastoplast around the first three fingers of one hand in addition to the FingerGuard® on the other hand. That was nasty to take off the next day. And she moved on to her thumbs then. Arghghghg! This is one hard-core addict.

So in desperation, I Googled some more and I found a Youtube clip by a dentist that suggested you put both hands in long socks up to their elbows, put a long-sleeve t-shirt over the top, and then safety-pin the socks to the t-shirt at the elbows. A good low-tech solution. Wish I’d seen that first.

It inspired me to create my own hybrid “sucker solution”. I generously donated a pair of my least favourite (clean) socks. One sock over goes over each hand. Then I cut two 2cm slits in the front and back of each sock at the wrist. Through these slits, I threaded one of the plastic bracelets that came with the FingerGuard® kit. Lock and you’re done.



The slits are necessary otherwise the sock can be slowly pulled out from under the bracelet. They also mean that you only need to have the bracelet tight enough so that the child’s hand can’t be slipped from underneath it. Not having the bracelet so tight, and having the sock as a buffer, means that it is much more comfortable than the set up of the FingerGuard®. Because the sock covers the whole hand, it’s suitable for both finger and thumb suckers and your child can’t just switch fingers on you to keep the habit going. If you couldn’t get hold of medical bracelets, I think you could substitute easily with something like thin ribbon and a decent knot. Because your child will have both hands covered, it would be very hard to undo the knot. The only loss is a good pair of socks – but that’s cheaper than dental work.

I’ll let you know in a few weeks whether we’ve been able to break the habit!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Smooth hospitality

I like to plan things. I like to execute the job of “people coming over” with military precision. I don’t want to show off or be fake, but I do like us to be at our very best. However, yesterday things conspired against me.

1. I was still chopping veggies when our guests arrived.

2. I realized I had accidentally left the essential ingredient – more than a kg of chicken breasts – frozen in a lump in the freezer. This had to be defrosted while our amused guests watched on. At one point during this process, some of it fell on the floor. 

3. None of the children at the table – neither ours nor our guests’ – would eat even a bite of the chicken. They picked at the vegetables. That’s how much they didn’t want to try my chicken.

4. Part way through the afternoon, one of our children wee-ed in the middle of the back lawn in full view of the adults still sitting at the dining table. WHY???? I’m sure our guests thought they’d stumbled into a zoo at this point.

5. Our children were totally over-excited about having people over. We resorted to television to keep them quiet.  Yep.

But you know what? It really didn’t matter. The adults enjoyed the food. The kids played. We got to chat. And we shared time. I usually work up quite a lather getting ready for guests. Yesterday, I was undone and it was all still okay. I think I’ll remember that for next time.

And I'll remember to defrost the chicken before the guests arrive.

5 second rule

Saw a very amusing picture on 7mouths2feed  about the dilemma we all face when food drops on the floor.  Click here and then click on the picture to enlarge.  Sorted.

Susie's blog is gorgeous: she has a design background and it shows. I will never achieve that level of classy so I just go over and drool at her beautiful pictures when I need some clean lines and well-shot photos.

If you have a wander around her blog, do not miss this video (click on the title to open it).  It's well worth it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Non-verbal power

This is from Simone's blog, but the video is so fascinating I had to re-post it here.  How can your own non-verbal behaviour influence your success?


What do you make of it?

Friday, October 5, 2012

TGIF

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 news this week from amongst my friends and relations of FOUR new babies due in April next year.  And of course praying for good health for the three mums and four little ones.

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

Sin and failing - part II

Okay, so I know that I am fallible and will make mistakes. There’s a difference between sin and just not being perfect.

So why all the angsty self-pity when I do stuff up? My level of agitation over my mistakes shows that there’s something else going on: pride. I might be partly sorry that I’ve inconvenienced other people. But mostly I’m upset about my mistake because of the discomfort it gives me, not others. I am annoyed because (a) my mistakes make me look bad and I care what others think of me and (b) my mistakes make me realize more clearly that I am not perfect and this irks me. How much it irks me is a good measure of how high my own self-opinion really is. When I agonize over a simple mistake, it’s because I’m vain enough to think that kind of thing could and should be avoided by me because I’m not “that kind of person”. What a load of codswallop!

The truth is, I am much less than I usually suppose myself to be. I don’t mean that in some kind of miserable “poor me” way. What I mean is that the longer I’m around the more I am convinced that most people think much more highly of themselves than they would admit or even realize. While it is a popular notion that most of us suffer from “low self esteem”, the vast majority of us spend our days carefully arranging matters to maximise the benefit to us and those we care about. We care for ourselves all day long. And we are angry when others treat us badly. And we are cross when our shortcomings are revealed. What does that say? It says we value ourselves more than just a little bit. I think we seriously underestimate how much time we are purely focused on our own best interests.

And add to this mix of self-interest the fact that I not only frequently fail just because I’m human, but that I often intentionally do that which is not kind or pure or truthful or self-sacrificing.  And usually I am much more upset over my failings than I am about the damage I’ve done to someone else by my sharp words or my deceitful heart!  There’s really no room for pride, is there? If I take a long, hard look at myself, the cracks show up all too quickly.

When I stumble and fall on my face, it bops on the head that pernicious attitude that I have about myself being “quite a good person – yes, rather clever and competent, thank you very much”. It is actually a lovely thing to be rescued from my own self-righteous pride. Truth is, I need saving whether I am feeling competent or not. I just tend to ignore my need when I’m feeling good about my own performance. When I find myself having a good long sulk about what I’ve done wrong, I need to have a good look at where my heart is at. Freedom is not found in ever more intricate levels of navel-gazing but in looking beyond me to the One who loves me as I am – failings, sins, warts and all. That’s where I can find rest for my anxious soul.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sin and failing - part I

Lately, I’ve been thinking some about the difference between a sin and a failing. For example, if I gossip about a friend to make myself look better in front of someone else… that’s not a mistake, that’s sinful behaviour. But if I muck up an appointment time and arrive 20 minutes late to something I really wanted to be on time for, chances are that’s a failing. It was simply a product of being a fallible human being who cannot get everything right all of the time. I know there can be a fine line there: chronic lateness because I am too lazy or selfish to get my act together is a different problem. But sometimes it is just an honest mistake. 

Occasionally, however, I find myself ruminating over something I’ve messed up with a great deal more emotion than the situation really deserves. If I can’t run as fast as others, or I’m pretty terrible at remembering phone numbers, or my singing voice is fit only for the shower… those are failings, not sins. And I ought to let those go through to the keeper without a great deal of fuss on my part. I will not get everything right and I will not be good at all things and I do not need to get myself in a knot about that. If I put a dent in the car, I need to repair the damage, say I’m sorry, and move on.

So that’s my little self-talk when I get in a lather over some stupid error on my part. I say, “Is it a sin or failing?” If it’s a failing, get over it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A post in which I act very maturely when I am beaten

... at Settlers of Catan by an eight-year old.

How can that happen?  Especially as I had the longest road!

Driving

One of the joys - and I use that word advisedly - of driving with young kids is their propensity to comment on roads rules as we drive. Road signs have become big in our family now that we have two readers. The youngest, who cannot read, has managed to learn quite a few signs off by heart so that he can chime in with, "Mum! Road safety cameras operate in this area!!!" Thank you. Very helpful. Will bear that in mind.

But yesterday he faced a new sign he had not heard the others talk about before.


 


He thought about it and came to a very logical conclusion:  "Mum! No boomerang throwing allowed in this area!!!"
 
Thank you. Very helpful. Will bear that in mind.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Love is in the air

It's cat mating season in our backyard.  Revolting territory marking and much meowing.  And Sparkles has been running around with a number of neighbourhood fellows.  I wonder if next door is soon to hear the pitter-patter of little paws?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chronic meddling

Here's a quote from one of the Anne of Green Gables' books:
To meddle is to muddle.
 
I try to remember it.  I really, really do.  But I do have a terrible urge to interfere.

Take Saturday at Spotlight for example.  He was very hip, about 25, and looking at the same big rolls of calico as me.  "I bet he's making a banner too," I thought to myself.  I wandered away and happened to find some pre-cut lengths of calico that would work out cheaper.

I lined up behind him to wait for service.  I tried to keep my mouth shut.  But I just couldn't do it.  I had better calico and he needed to know.

"Excuse me, but did you see this package?"
"Oh.  How long?"
"5 m for $13. It's about 20 cms less in width though."
"Hmmm.  We're only making banners.  That would probably work out way better, huh?"

I just knew it was a banner!

Do you meddle?  Or do mind your own business and not go around poking your nose in where it's not called for?  Oh, it's a bad habit of mine!