Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reflections on the royal wedding

1. The first two hymns were great. Not so sure about "Jerusalem," although when I saw the words I could see why they chose it. More of a patriotic song about England than a Christian hymn really. But I do like hearing hymns sung by large crowds with a choir and majestic pipe organ music. They were sung a little slower than I'm used to, but I don't think this is always a bad thing. It gives people a chance to meditate on the words.

2. Why didn't Kate give William a ring?

3. I liked Kate's sister's (Pippa's?) bridesmaid dress more than Kate's. A very flattering design. I guess Kate's had to be a bit more conservative though. But Pippa's tan looked a tad overdone.

3. I didn't really get why they needed to have those two nuns sitting up there beside William and Kate. In fact, I didn't even realise they had nuns in the Anglican church. Must be a high Anglican thing.

4. The Bible reading from Romans was an interesting choice. But a nice change from the ubiquitous wedding reading 1 Corinthians 13.

5. Liam's only comment during the whole ceremony was during the sermon, when he said "Prince William looks bored."

6. Some of the hats the women wore looked truly hideous. Princess Beatrice looked like a moose with those antlers on. And what is with the trend of wearing them on the front of the head? It must be very distracting to see a piece of your hat every time you look in front of you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Babies Documentary

This movie was reviewed by Margaret and David on At the Movies last night. It looked interesting, but then I am someone who finds babies and infant development fascinating from a professional viewpoint (and once my own babies were through those first few months where it all just seemed like a hard slog, I found it was also personally quite rewarding to see them growing and changing).

I'm not sure it's particularly representative of cross-cultural family-infant relationships. But who really cares? The babies are cute to watch. The opening scene of this trailer with the two babies playing together was pretty funny.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nothing to Envy - Book review

I mentioned here that over the Easter weekend I was reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. The above photo (widely available online) is in this book. It contrasts the night lights of South Korea with the almost complete darkness of North Korea, where there is little or no electricity. The country has had no electricity since the early 1990s when the power plants failed. The one spot in North Korea with lights is the city of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, the "showcase city" for any tourists who are allowed into the country.

This book was a fascinating read. The author describes it as an oral history, in which she weaves together the stories of six defectors from North Korea, all of whom are now living in South Korea. She interviewed them over a period of several years about their lives and how they came to their decisions to escape the communist regime in the north.

I didn't know much at all about how North and South Korea even came to exist so I found the history of what happened and the causes of the Korean War really interesting. And the lives of those included in the book were all quite different, which created a broad cross-sectional view of North Korean society.

The back of the book describes North Korean society as a "real life" version of George Orwell's 1984. The way the leaders of the communist regime have instilled complete loyalty among the citizens of North Korea was frightening to read about.

The idea of not having freedom of thought, speech or political and Christian belief was so completely foreign to me. This book was a great reminder of how blessed we are to live in a country where we can live openly as Christians. Although being a Christian may lead to ridicule from many of those around us in Australian society, at least it is not forbidden by law.

Dinner failure

I tried a new recipe in the slow cooker today. Curried apple soup. An attempt to cut our grocery bill by eating a meal without meat in it.

Unfortunately, I overdid the curry powder, which led to many complaints, turned up noses and looks of disgust while we were eating dinner. Dipping bread into it helped neutralise the taste and I think it might be okay tomorrow if we pour about two litres of milk or cream into it (not enough of either in the house to do that this evening....).

A bit disappointing though. Now I'll have to wait for a very long time before I can put it on the menu again to give the complainants time to forget they've had it before.

On the positive side, I think the pumpkin tea cake might save the day for dessert.

Pumpkin scones

This morning I made pumpkin scones to take out to a morning tea.

I always use Lady Flo Bjelke Petersen's recipe, as follows:

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup cold mashed pumpkin
2-2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1. Beat together butter, sugar and salt using an electric mixer.
2. Add egg, then pumpkin and beat till combined.
3. Stir in flour by hand (I use a butter knife, the way I do when I make regular scones).
4. Turn onto floured board and cut out with scone cutter.
5. Place close together on heated tray and bake for 15 minutes on the top shelf of a hot oven (220 degrees). You might need to adjust the cooking time depending on what your oven is like.

Serve with butter or jam. Today I used apricot jam because that's what I had in the cupboard. Like all scones, they are best eaten on the day they are made.

Yum. And I still have a little bit of mashed pumpkin left over. Not enough to do another batch of scones, but I am about to have a go at another of Lady Flo's recipes, this time it's a pumpkin and coconut tea cake for dessert tonight.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ukulele lady

Me! Well, nearly. Last night I signed up to do my ukulele course through Adult Ed in a few weeks' time.

And today I was so excited to have Simone and her family come to visit us. I got to try out one of her ukuleles and learned four chords (in fifteen minutes, so she was pretty on the money with how long it would take!). We ran through a couple of kids' songs for church as well. "My God is So Big" is a pretty easy one.

Now I can't wait to learn more and buy one of my own. The guy running the course sells second hand ones so I am hoping there will be a good settled in one that I can buy from him.

Is it unChristian.... want to watch the Chaser's coverage of the royal wedding on Friday night rather than the more mainstream versions in which the monarchy will presumably be treated with much greater respect??

Anzac Day 2011 service highlights

The kids marched in the Anzac Day parade this morning, representing their school. Our local service seems to have been growing a lot bigger over the past few years. We've gone each year since Aidan started school, although I did miss last year because Anzac Day fell on a Sunday. Chris took the kids to the parade and I stayed at church because I was playing the piano.

I enjoyed the service today. Rosie got a little bit restless but we could keep her under control with carefully planned timing of snacks.

There was also a bit of excitement just behind us when an old gentleman wearing a navy jacket covered in medals fainted (while sitting in one of those camping chairs) and tipped his chair backwards down the little slope behind where he was sitting. Fortunately the St John's ambulance staff were nearby and could get in to help him straight away. He still seemed to be breathing so some kind people stayed with him on the ground while the service was ending. After that, the real ambos turned up to take him off to the hospital.

What was less exciting was the woman sitting beside us who spent the entire service using her smartphone with her headphones in her ears, and the numerous others I could see around us who seemed to be texting on their mobiles. I wanted to ask them why they had bothered turning up at all. Even though they weren't disrupting other people, it seemed pretty disrespectful.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We watched this on DVD last night. I really enjoyed it. A few too many "f" words in the non-musical parts (and difficult-to-understand Irish accents...I always tell my husband, of Irish descent, that the Irish accent sounds like mumbling much of the time).

But the singing and music parts were great.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Learning to play this one at the moment. A great song for today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter long weekend reading

Hooray for our local library for being able to get these in for me within a week of requesting them. I am really looking forward to reading Nothing to Envy, but Bereft looks great too. I don't know which one to pick up first.

I'll keep you posted on what I think after I've read them. If anyone out there reading this has read them and wants to comment now, that's fine too!

The one day working week.... a tough gig when you usually work two days. A lot of stuff that I would normally "finish off tomorrow" remains on my desk unfinished. I can tell already that next Thursday and Friday are going to be bad since I will be starting from well behind the start line.

Today was a stressy day. Some good things happened, but a lot of my day was spent sorting out messy and irritating things. I am currently the case manager for a little person who needs to be assessed by our entire team. When I called his mother to discuss the schedule of appointments, she informed me that she couldn't possibly organise to take an hour off work to bring her child to be assessed by the paediatrician. I tried to organise everyone else's appointments to fall on her non-work days, but I couldn't change all of them.

And especially not the paediatrician's. This is a specialist we are talking about here. Changing a specialist appointment isn't an easy matter. If you were seeing a private medical specialist, you would have to take the appointment time you were offered whether you were working that day or not. Why is it that in the public system you feel you can just ask to have another time??

Sigh. I do try to work around families as much as I possibly can, given that I am only at work two days a week. And I do understand that it isn't easy to take time off work when you are a parent. But this is your child we are talking about. Don't you want to know what his strengths and weaknesses are? Maybe not. Perhaps it is all a bit much to take in. Time to call in the social workers I think....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our false cost of living crisis?

I have just been reading this over on the ABC website. It has generated some interesting debate.

For me personally, I feel like things like food, utilities etc have been costing more over the past few years. But maybe that is because we have more kids than we did before. And I tend to pay less attention to the financial details of our household income and expenditure than I should. The word "budget" freaks me out a little, actually. But now that we have a bigger family, I need to start paying more attention to where the money actually goes.

There were some good points made for and against whether "cost of living pressures" do in fact exist, or whether it is just that these days, people want to have everything (the big house, the fancy car, the latest phone or computer, designer clothes, or whatever) and they want it right now.

Probably, as for many other things, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Ukulele for beginners

I am thinking about signing up for a ukulele workshop at my local Community College. $150 + the cost of a new or "settled in" ukulele. It runs over two Saturdays in May.

A couple of weeks ago, Simone suggested playing the ukulele as an alternative to using CD music as backing for children's songs during kids' teaching time/Sunday School activities. Read about it here.

Because she told me she could teach me how to play the ukulele in ten minutes (perhaps a slight exaggeration?) I am not sure whether twelve hours of tuition is a bit much.

I checked out the tutor's website here. His name is Ukulele John and apparently he travels around the state teaching people how to play. Some of his ukuleles look very funky. I suspect they won't be the cheaper "settled in" ones.

It looks like fun. I think I will probably do it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And on the subject of Mad Men...

This looks as if it could have come straight from the Sterling Cooper agency...

More of these to come. I have another one of those work emails full of them. It's aptly titled "Ads You'll Never See Again."

Mad Men Marathon

Getting through all 13 episodes of series 1 in three days (the length of time the DVD shop loans it for) was tough. It rained yesterday so that gave me a little more time. I dozed off in a few of them but I think I managed to see most of it in the end.

Excellent television.

So now I'm off to reserve Series 2 at the library, where I might have to wait a bit longer to get it, but then I can have it for three weeks instead of three days.

When we go to return Series 1 to the DVD shop I am going to get some more child-friendly DVDs. I feel like I have been hogging the television and the kids should get a turn. Watching that many hours of TV in such a short time always makes me feel very sluggish and in need of several hours of swimming or walking.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From the onslaught of posts.... may be able to tell that I have really missed blogging!?

To applaud or not to applaud...

This song was performed this morning at church by our music team. Excellently sung and played, I should add. It was sung as an item to help us reflect as we prepare to celebrate Easter.

We don't have these kinds of performances every week in our services, but we have had one or two of them lately. They are always helpful. Today the words of the song were put up on the screen behind the singers. This was really good. It helped me think about the words and their meaning.

What I feel less comfortable with is the round of applause that happens at the end of a performance item. To me, this feels distracting. After an item/performance in church, I like to just quietly think about the words of the song and enjoy the fact that it was performed well. Others like to express their appreciation for the performance by clapping. I get both viewpoints. I would applaud any other musical performance outside of church without any qualms whatsoever. But doing that in church feels a bit different for some reason.

I think I fall into the quiet reflective camp because I was brought up in (generally) fairly conservative churches. There were a couple of more charismatic Uniting Churches that I ventured into and I was never comfortable when hands were raised, let alone when people started dancing into the aisles. I felt like I wanted to run away when I saw that happening. And then I married a guy who came from a church where only Psalms were sung and no instruments were ever used. So we both needed to shift positions to where we were both comfortable musically. Presbyterianism ended up being a good middle musical ground for us.

So I didn't clap this morning, but I really enjoyed the performance. The song is pretty catchy too. Maybe we'll all learn to sing it sometime.


This year's winner of the Archibald Prize, by Ben Quilty. I think it's very good, not that I am in any way an informed art critic.

So then I went to have a look at the 1948 portrait of Margaret Olley by William Dobell, which also won the Archibald Prize in that year. They are quite different portraits, as you would expect, given they were painted by different artists and obviously Margaret Olley is many years older now. Interesting to look at the different styles though.

I found Ben Quilty's comments on the Art Gallery of NSW website about his 2011 winning entry somewhat amusing. Apparently most of his paintings to date have had strong masculine themes, but he said "Margaret has had such a powerful bearing on my career. She has asked me constantly for years to stop painting ugly skulls and paint something beautiful." So along with Margaret's portrait, he has also recently finished a series of paintings of his wife. Clearly the direction change has paid dividends for him.

In today's Sun Herald newspaper, there is another portrait, this one of the actor Matthew Newton (who was recently acquitted of criminal charges on the grounds of mental illness). It was painted by Agnes Bruck, who happens to be the wife of Newton's lawyer, Chris Murphy. This was entered in the Archibald Prize, but was instead selected as part of the alternative non-Archibald finalists' Salon des Refuses Exhibition. Regardless of what I think about Matthew Newton's personal life, I think this is also a good portrait. Somehow, it really seems to show what mental illness is like. It's something about the way she has captured the expression in his eyes, I think.

I wish I could paint or even draw people. Once many years ago I did a course on drawing faces but I quit halfway through because I couldn't get the dimensions right. I dabbled in painting a little bit after that but stuck to pictures of flowers and fruit because they weren't so complicated. Sometimes I wish I could go back and finish some of my unfinished works, but it is difficult to put aside large blocks of time to paint when you have small children....


I decided last week that I wouldn't put anything else up on my blog until I had discussed the post I deleted with the person involved.

This has now been addressed. And once again, I would like to sincerely apologise.

It was good to take some time away from my blog for a bit. Time to think about why I have it, and what I should be using it for. A friend suggested I look at the book of James in the Bible. I haven't done that for a while.

It was good to rediscover some very timely verses on the tongue (or in my case, the tongue via the computer keyboard) being "a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8). But also good to know that "we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body" (James 3:2).

So I guess from all that, I realised that there are going to be times when I say the wrong thing and need to ask for forgiveness. Because I am a sinful person. But we are all in the same boat. I guess we all say things sometimes that are better left not said.

Unfortunately, that probably also means that you may continue to see some drivel and nonsense in here from me sometimes. But in future, I will try my best not to hurt other people through what I write. I'll need to keep praying for wisdom in what I say and how I say it.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have said something I shouldn't on here. Sometimes putting personal opinions out into cyberspace is risky. People won't always agree with what I say. Hopefully if they disagree they will speak up, but I don't get many comments here to know that. I don't intentionally set out to cause harm but it seems that I have....

Time to take a break for a little while I think. I wish now that I hadn't said what I said since it has caused offence to somebody else. The post involved has been deleted but the damage has already been done. If the person I've hurt is reading this, then please accept my apology.

This is why I find it hard to open up to other people in real life too. Stuff comes out the wrong way, or someone else says something and I quote it without realising that it is okay for that person to have said it, but it's not okay for me to also say it.

So then I just wish I'd stayed inside my shell. And so I crawl back in there and don't want to come out. Ever.

My mind is already full of other things that I hadn't anticipated having to think about right now. So maybe a break is what I need anyway.

Thanks to those who pop in and comment every so often, I do appreciate your words of encouragement and hopefully I will be back in blogland soon.

Monday Muppets

I'd forgotten about Bobby Benson's Baby Band until I found this....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter Bonnets

A fairly basic effort compared with some I've seen on my friends' Facebook profiles today.

I leave early for work on Thursdays so I don't do the school drop off. But Chris said when he was unloading the kids with their school hats, Easter bonnets and trumpets at drop off time, he was complimented by the minister of the local Presbyterian church (parked next to him, I've chatted with his wife a few times but since we go to a different Presbyterian church, I'm not sure if they know we also go to church, one of those situations where I feel like it's a bit awkward to say we go to that other Pressie church up the road) on including the Christian theme and having the cross featured on their hats.

Aidan said some kid in his class asked what the cross was for. Obviously to some, Easter is all about bunnies and chocolate. I'm not sure what Aidan said in response, but I hope it was good.

Fashion faux pas

Today I went to work with my shirt on inside-out.

Fortunately, I noticed before anyone else did so I made a quick escape to the toilets to fix it up.

I was wearing one of those shirts where it's not overly noticeable if it's inside-out (it has embroidery on the front of it and therefore also on the reverse side), but I was sitting at my desk looking at it and thinking the embroidery looked a bit different to normal. Then I thought the tag at the back of my neck and the little ribbon hanging things on the shoulders (the most annoying bit of any shirt) felt like they were in the wrong place.

The clincher was when I put my hand down by my side and discovered the little white washing instructions label...on the outside of the shirt.

Oops. It could have gotten embarrassing had anyone else noticed, like a client for instance. And I wasn't quite brave enough to share my little mistake with the other girls in the office, even though we probably all would have had a good giggle about it.

But, oddly, it seems fine to put it out there on the www on my blog for anyone to read...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another amusing word verification


A nice distraction from what I should really be thinking about, which is how to come up with two Easter bonnets by tomorrow morning.

Currently reading....

I have been sick for the past couple of days. So I needed something easy to read.

We had this book out of the library for Liam to read but then I decided not to give it to him yet. I've decided he can read it as a reward for when he graduates out of learn to swim classes since he seems to not be trying very hard when he's there and needs some incentive to improve. I feel like we are wasting our money and more effort is required on his part.

So I have been reading it instead. This is the first time I have read Harry Potter (a late convert). I am about three quarters of the way through it. I'm enjoying it so far and think I will read the rest of the series. I've been told the books get more complex as the series progresses.

I'm liking this a lot more than Twilight. When I read Twilight I was sick of Bella's mooning over Edward by the time I'd read a quarter of the book. With Harry Potter, the writing is simplistic, which I guess it has to be if it's aimed at kids, but the subject matter is far more engaging.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cleaning up vomit in the car

If you are a parent, this is highly likely to happen to you sometime. Hopefully not too often because it's not fun to deal with the clean-up, especially if your child is too young to be helpful and vomits in their carseat or onto the floor, rather than into a container or a bag.

The smell is the worst part. It goes away eventually but until it does, getting into the car after it's been closed up for a while is not pleasant.

We usually try to disguise the smell using one of those cardboard odour eaters that you hang from the rear vision mirror. I like the vanilla smelling ones the best. Today Coles was sold out of vanilla ones so I chose an "ocean" scented one shaped like a thong. But sadly it doesn't smell anything like an ocean.

I picture the smell of an ocean being fresh with just a hint of saltiness. This is more like the smell of a toilet cleaner (combined with the vomit smell I'm trying to remove).

At least I know it will get better. But the next few weeks of travelling in the car might be less than enjoyable.

Book Chat #3

It went well. There were seven of us, a perfect number for me to cope with without feeling overwhelmed. Room for a few more so it can grow in the future. Lots of people brought food. We sat out on our front deck in the warm sun and enjoyed the breeze and afternoon tea.

And there were some interesting comments on the book. I loved the chatty anecdotal style of writing but somebody else found that annoying. Side tracks and tangential discussion happened but that was okay. We are only in the early formation stages of a new group, after all.

I'm pleased it went well. We decided to rotate it around people's homes, but continue the Saturday afternoon tea as the time it will run. We will have it once a term if all goes well. Next time we are hoping to read a book about a missionary (either a 21st century missionary, or somebody older....will depend on what we can find). I like the look of My Seventh Monsoon. But it is between print runs at the moment so I will have to see when the new edition is coming out. It is a lot cheaper than the first edition, so hoping we won't have to wait long.

Monday Muppets

For no reason except that I thought it was funny....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Family Bible readings for Easter

Meredith has posted a list of family Bible readings to do in the lead up to Easter. You can find them here. They are excellent and she is happy to share them with whoever is interested.

We have started them but haven't been as regular with them as I'd like to be. Some of them are actually for reading after Easter is over, which is good for letting the kids know what happened beyond the Resurrection.

I like the way they combine the different Gospel accounts as well.

Thanks so much Meredith for the effort in putting this together!