Saturday, December 29, 2012

A great promotional video for Occupational Therapy

For anyone who has ever wondered what it is that occupational therapists actually do. Because we're not always great at explaining it.

Just putting it in here in case I need it later.

Holiday reading

Both very good reads, although the two heroines are very different!

This year, we're trying a summer holiday Book Chat. The Hiding Place is our book for that. Gone With the Wind is just a book that I really enjoy reading, but hardly ever have time to get through. I also borrowed the impossibly long DVD of the movie from the library to get through sometime in the next week or two. Will need to fit that in around all the tennis coming up on TV.

Hope you are all enjoying some rest and relaxation out there!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to you all

In the thick of it here...printing off vouchers for all the extended family who have said "just give us money" when we've asked them what they want for Christmas. We're giving them little home made vouchers for whatever they're putting the money towards.

Then we have to assemble a teepee and a sun lounge. Since the sun lounge is Chris' present, I feel like I should at least make a token attempt to put the bolt in with the Allen key that it came with. Maybe that one will be waiting until after the Christmas rush is over and we are all wanting to lie around beside the pool.

We're stuffed full of Christmas festive food this evening after our family dinner at home. After the entree we usually head down to the local Salvation Army church (the closest one to our house) to go to their Christmas Eve service, then we return home for the main course and dessert. This year, lots of ham and trifle was on the menu.

When we got home, the people across the road were giving their inflatable Santa see-saw a re-vamp. After a promising start a few weeks ago, it broke down so we haven't seen it in a while. It still doesn't seem to be going too well. Both the man and the woman who live there came out separately and I saw them poking at it to try and get it to work. I guess they only have to keep it going for tonight and then they can get rid of it.

But in amongst the busy-ness of Christmas Eve, I didn't want to forget wishing you, all of my readers (although I don't know how many of you are still hanging in there!?), a very blessed Christmas, as you remember the birth of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amusing Santa photo

We don't make a big deal out of Santa here. He does visit on Christmas Eve and we leave out biscuits, carrots and a beer for him. That's about as far as it goes. The thought of taking the kids to visit him in a shopping centre and getting a photo of them sitting on his knee doesn't fill me with joy so we don't do it.

But this photo is pretty clever. Guessing it's photo-shopped rather than someone actually managing to set up that many dogs and to get them all to look in the same direction at the same time. Amusing nonetheless.

Friday, December 21, 2012

More Christmas from The Piano Guys

Watch for the spinning cello at around 2:50.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We caught up on our Advent calendar

We did a couple of blitz nights where we did four or five readings in one hit. Not ideal, but since most of our readings are just one or two verses, we got there.

Christmas music from The Piano Guys

Awesome stuff. Great film location too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Proverbs 10:19

I think I need to memorize this verse. Yep, I've said the wrong thing again. I could blame it on exhaustion, but that would just be an excuse for my thoughtlessness. I wish I had the gift of being able to always manage to say the right thing instead of just blurting out something inappropriate. It's just too easy to be sinful and to hurt others without meaning to.

So, for my own benefit, here it is:

A)When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    (B)but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Christmas music for your enjoyment

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our motives when singing in church....

Can I add the disclaimer up front that I'm sure none of the song leaders in our church are really thinking any of these things when they are singing in church.

That said, I think there is something in this to think about for all of us who sing in church (not just those up front). I know for me there are times when singing can be a lot more about my emotional response to or like/dislike of the song rather than about truly worshipping God.

Christmas and other stuff

Deb posted this on her blog. I think it's from a couple of years back, but it's still pretty cool, so I'm stealing her idea and posting it here as well.

Have had a few other things occupying my thinking space lately so I've been finding it hard to blog at the same time. Will enlighten you further a little bit later when I have some more time to spare.

On the good news front, I am still going okay on the chronological Bible reading plan. I've only missed a couple of days. I'm back in Genesis now, working my way through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the moment. Lots of action going on there. Interesting to read.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas silliness

The house across the street from ours has one of these in the front yard. The owners put it out yesterday and left it deflated on the ground all day, but at night it came to life with light and movement. I even saw the guy who lives there taking some video of it in action yesterday evening. When Santa hits the top of the see saw's movement range, he does this little extra tip up like he's about to fly head over heels into the reindeer's lap. It's funny to watch.

I'm not sure I like his taste in Christmas inflatables, but I'm sure it will provide plenty of entertainment for the small people here in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What my boys are reading at the moment...

I saved most of my books from these series that I had when I was little. I think I'm just missing Third Year at Malory Towers, the horsey one. I didn't enjoy that one as much when I read it because I didn't really have much interest in horse-riding.

It's such a proud mother moment for me to now see the boys getting into them. Hopefully they won't be too embarrassed that I'm revealing it here....

I might read them again when they've finished.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"It's sooo hot" she moans...

Too hot to think of anything. So here's something I pinched from here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chronological Bible reading continued

I'm almost at the end of Job now. What a fantastic finish. I love how the young turk Elihu speaks up, seemingly out of nowhere, and tells them all off for not acknowledging that God is gracious and just and that he can do whatever he likes.

I'm about to read Chapters 38 and 39 where God speaks. I actually read ahead a little bit into those chapters because they look so good. I might put up a few of my favourite quotes from them tomorrow.

Advent calendar fail

Two days in and we're already two days behind on our readings.

Although the felt one we are using for Rosie that adds a different bit to the nativity scene each day is on track. It's easy to find the five seconds that this requires.

Sigh. I thought I was doing well to have put the two calendars up on Thursday. I thought getting them up and visible early would be helpful with staying on track.

So it's three readings for us tomorrow...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Can anyone explain the physics?

I'll need a very simplified explanation. It's been a long long time since I did any physics. The photo is pretty cool though.

From here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

End of school year burnout

It's struck in a big way here. But there are still another two and a half weeks of school to get through.

This afternoon is going to be hard work. I need to deal with a child who burst into tears today in front of his class because he didn't get a medal in the poetry competition at school. We then need to go and buy a present for a girl in his class, whose party on Saturday he's been invited to (and I'm quoting what the girl said to him here...) "because I'm asking J (another boy in the class) and he'll need another boy to play with."  Lucky I know the girl's Mum, otherwise I'd be a bit offended by that kind of invitation.

Between now and then I have to fill in heaps of forms for a short term job that I'm starting in Term 1 next year. This is tedious because just a couple of weeks ago I had to fill in another hundred forms to go onto the casual pool with NSW Health. I thought those forms were for this job, but no, it turns out that for this contract I'm actually being employed by the University of Sydney. Go figure.

And I'm exhausted because at 10.45pm last night, just as we were thinking we might go to bed, we heard the three year old vomiting in her bedroom. She'd seemed a bit restless earlier in the evening but she hadn't mentioned at any of my earlier visits that she was feeling unwell, so she had no vomit bucket (not that she's great at using it anyway) and there was vomit everywhere. Everywhere. She'd rolled in it, it was all through her hair, all three of her blankies were coated in it and sheets and pillows all needed washing. Not a sight you want to come across when all you really want to do is go to bed.

Vent over. Sorry, folks. That's an appalling blog post. I'd like to justify it by saying "hey, just keeping it real" but I think I'm just in a very self-pitying frame of mind today.

Would someone please put me out of my misery and tell me that life looks like this some days in their houses too?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's that time of year again....

You know the one. Where everyone starts blogging about their Christmas crafty stuff and Advent calendars. All very inspiring, unless you're like me and the thought of doing crafty stuff (by myself or with the kids) makes me want to poke needles in my eyes.

I've stocked up on a few Advent calendar products and booklets over the past few years so this year we are just recycling stuff from last year and the couple of years before that. Meredith's got another good set of readings up on her blog. But what I'm doing is hardly worth blogging about.

So instead of blogging about Christmas stuff (I might get around to it when December actually arrives), I thought I would tell you about the DVD series I've been watching lately.

The Tudors. I haven't actually watched Series 1 yet, but I've gotten through 2, 3 and 4. Series 4 ends with Henry VIII dying, and they haven't made any further series after that.

It's pretty full on stuff. In Series 2 and 3, Henry's at the height of his physical powers and the quest for the male heir is all-consuming. So definitely not suitable for kids' viewing. The way he ruthlessly disposes of wives once he's had enough of them (or when they fail to produce male children, or when their previous indiscretions come to light) is a bit confronting. Plenty of other people get beheaded, burned at the stake or hung, drawn and quartered along the way as well.

In Series 4, Henry finally does something other than get married and try to have a son when he goes off to war. There are a couple of good battle episodes which came as something of a relief after all the sex and execution scenes. Then he suddenly ages really quickly (in the space of a couple of episodes) at the end of Series 4 and starts to go a bit mad, just as the  position of wife #6 Catherine Parr is starting to look a bit shaky (because she is a Reformer).

I don't know that all of what's in this series is necessarily strictly historically accurate. I suspect there's been a bit of dramatic licence used to spice things up a bit. Before I watched this, I knew what had happened to each of the wives and that was about it. If you don't like watching plenty of death and sex scenes, it's probably not the series for you (although you can do what I did when they started to get a bit much, and press the fast forward button). The Tudor period of history has always interested me though. I've always thought that the whole concept of a guy setting up his own church because he didn't like what the Pope was telling him to do is an interesting foundation for the Church of England to have come from, actually. So very selfish of Henry, but from these beginnings we now have the Anglican Church. I think we can safely say it's a bit more Christ-centred these days.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chronological Bible reading plan update

Ben's calling it the C.B.R.P. over at his blog. Catchy.

So I'm eight days in and still on track. But things are getting busy as end of term activities start hotting up here so I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I start missing a day here and there.

After the familiar stories at the beginning of Genesis, I'm finding that Job is not an easy book to sit down and read and take in. It's hard going reading all the conversation between Job and his mates. There's a part of me wishing that the friends had just said nothing the way they did for the first seven days after they arrived while Job was still in the depths of despair. But I guess if they hadn't started talking, Job wouldn't have had reason to say all the good stuff he had to say.

I'm trying to read while keeping focused on the big picture of the book. If I do that, I don't seem to find that I get quite so bogged down. I know it's important that I hang in there even with the bits in the Bible that seem hard to focus on. I'm figuring that this is all good preparation for dealing with Leviticus, Numbers etc later on.  And it's all in there because it's important.

Praying here for the discipline to keep going.

Friday, November 23, 2012

New music for Christmas

Caroline, an occasional commenter in here (it was lovely to hear from you Caroline!)  reminded me last week that a couple of years ago I was hunting for sheet music for the Wheeler and James Australian Christmas Carols. I didn't have any luck finding them back then. So when she mentioned them this time, I went on another internet search and musicroom came through with the goods.

It arrived today. I've been having a lovely time playing my way through Three Drovers, Carol of the Birds, Silver Stars are In the Sky, The North Wind and other old favourites. It's great to have them all together in one book.

Just one teensy criticism (that's not specific to this music book) is that it's not spiral bound. Spiral binding makes page turning heaps easier if you're in the middle of a complicated sequence of notes. And if a song is only two pages long, then it would be great if it could be on two facing pages instead of needing a page turn in the middle. I suppose now that I own it, I could photocopy a few pages to fix that problem.

But otherwise, I'm very happy. I don't know if any of the words of these carols would get through our church music team's criteria for appropriate songs to sing at our church Christmas carol night, but I really love these old Australian songs so I'm happy to potter around playing them and singing them with the family at home.

For the Helen Garner fans out there....

I was just reading this interesting article over at about a talk she gave to some budding writers last night in Melbourne.

There are some very interesting insights into non-fiction and crime writing to be gained from it. Not the least that her turn of speech is as brilliant as her writing.

If you haven't read Helen Garner's non-fiction, you really should give it a go. The First Stone was the first of her books that I read. Very compelling reading.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

While everyone else was paying big money and queueing for hours to see Coldplay In Brisbane.... lucky brother got paid to be there. He does sound (or something audio-related, can you tell I have no clue what he does for a living but it's something to do with electronics and computers??) at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane so he was being paid to sit there and listen to them.

Most of what he does is boring soccer games (that few people turn up to), rugby league (I'm slightly more interested in those) and other sporting events. But the stadium can host up to four other big major events or concerts per year. Coldplay would have been pretty good I think.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The First Dog's at it again....

From here.

No offence intended to any quinoa eaters who may be reading. I haven't tried it yet although I don't mind couscous, so maybe I should give it a go?

My favourite line.... "Also, llamas are hilarious."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When you feel in a rut with reading the Bible...

I've had this feeling many times, so I hope it's normal. I saw someone commenting on a blog post I was reading yesterday, saying they felt in a bit of a rut with their Bible reading, so it was comforting to see I wasn't alone.

I think, like most ruts, the solution to getting out of it involves trying something a bit different to what you've been doing. Sounds obvious, but I think it's easy to forget. We're busy people, old habits are hard to break and all that.

I posted here yesterday about starting a Bible reading plan to read through the Bible in chronological order. I haven't ever read the Bible right through (I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that) so at the moment I'm all enthusiastic about it. Previous experience tells me I may find it harder going as time progresses so I am trying to find someone who'll help me to be accountable with it, maybe by doing it with me. My brother commented when I shared yesterday's post on Facebook so I'm hoping I might be able to convince him to do it. For the moment, I'm parking the three year old on the bed next to me in the mornings after breakfast with her Jesus Storybook Bible and getting her to read her Bible while I'm reading mine. This is an on again, off again strategy I've tried so she sees me reading the Bible and then I can talk with her about the children's version. It's not always successful because she'll want me to read the story in her Bible to her after she finishes having a very quick chat to herself about the pictures ("he's wearing a pink shirt" "trees all cut down" "that's a purple boat" are among the profound insights I hear as she's doing her quiet time). Usually I can get her to wait till I'm finished reading so I read the real story to her after that.

My husband and I also read the Bible together each night before we go to bed. It's not the ideal time of the day to do it. The bigger kids don't see us reading the Bible so the danger is that they think we're not doing it at all. I've been known to fall asleep during the prayer time after we read, so I have to keep my eyes open during praying (not helpful for concentrating on what we're praying about). But it's the best we can do at the moment until we sort out a better routine.

For a while now, we've been reading through short studies in the large backlog of Briefing magazines we have kept over many years. Generally these follow the format of reading through a book (or section of a book) from the Bible, following the chapters in sequential order. This is very worthwhile to do, but we were starting to feel a bit stale with it all.

So I was happy to find a series of topical readings on mercy in one of the back issues from a couple of years ago. Moving through different parts of the Bible to see what it says on a specific topic is different from what we've been doing for the last year or so, so it's reignited the spark of interest to hang in there and keep reading.

Something else I signed up for recently was the Live Light in 25 Words campaign that the Bible Society have going at the moment. They send you a Bible verse each day (as close as possible to 25 words long), the contextual passage that the verse comes from so you can go away and look it up yourself, and a question to reflect on. It's another something different to keep me thinking about God's word to us in the Bible.

In the past, I haven't found it easy to hang in there with prayer and Bible reading times. I do it regularly for a while, then things get busy and I fall off the wagon. But I'm finding over time that it's getting easier to get back on and keep going. And each time this happens, I think it gets a little bit easier to do. The stretches where I am reading my Bible are getting much longer than they used to be. At the moment it's more unusual for me not to do it.

Perseverance is important, but in the end I can only do it with God's help. I'm thankful that He gives us the strength to keep going and the understanding that comes from immersing ourselves in the Bible each day.

Images from here and here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading through the Bible in a year

Jean and Meredith have inspired me to give it a go. I'm following the chronological reading plan that Jean's suggested and is currently doing.

I've started today. I'm sure that I will miss days here and there over the course of the year so I figured if I got a head start before the January 1 kick-off date on the plan, that could only be a good thing.

I'm liking the idea of reading the Bible chronologically to improve my knowledge of how the whole Bible story hangs together. So after I've read the first bit of Genesis I'll be heading into Job for a while. I'm also excited about seeing how the Psalms relate to 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles and the Kings. I've been reading through the Psalms one to one with my friend (very slowly since we're not able to meet up every week) and have been wondering as we've been going along how they link up to what David was up to at the time.

No doubt I'll need plenty of good kicks to keep the motivation up as time goes on. But I am going to make it my goal to see it through even if it takes longer than a year.

Thanks for the reading plan recommendations, Jean, and for all your helpful hints on how to read all of the Bible, Meredith. Much appreciated.

If anyone else wants to join me in my quest, I'd love to hear from you, online or in real life!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

While on the subject of music....

When I'm not learning new Christmas carol arrangements, I've been teaching myself to play this. It is very beautiful when it's played well (still getting there....).

We're "reviving" the First Noel for Christmas Carols this year....

The old arrangement we've used in previous years was very ordinary to play. This version has a nice keyboard accompaniment which I am in the process of learning, but it is a bit more complicated, especially at the end as it builds up to the big finale. I noticed on this video that one of the band members was playing both keyboard and guitar. I'm glad I don't have to replicate that.

We're going to have it as an item by the lead singers (I think) rather than having the whole congregation singing it. Any mistakes I make are going to be much more obvious than they would be if everyone was singing. Fortunately I have another few weeks to get it sorted out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doing a talk for Aidan's class at school next week

It's going to be about the digestive system. I'm going to be talking, among other things, about how our bodies make poo, a topic I'm familiar with from days spent working with poor little children who become chronically constipated.

I've asked Chris to source some stuff from his workplace for me....a torso with removable organs that I can take out and pass around. Apparently there is a poo T-shirt there somewhere. I can't wait to see what that looks like.

And I will probably include this as well:

This is a child-friendly version of the Bristol Stool Scale (downloaded from here), for those unfamiliar with it (the adult form doesn't relate the poo types to the different types of food). I always think they should have said that Type 1 looks like peas to be more consistent with the overall food theme. Types 4-6 are generally considered "normal." Types 1-3 are at the constipated end.  Type 7 is usually what happens when you have gastro bugs.

We have a copy of this on the back of our toilet door, which guests find quite amusing when they visit us. It is also a good way of helping the kids to let us know what's going on if they're a bit unwell.

It should be fun. I have a whole week to prepare. At the same time as I am doing this, Aidan has to prepare a powerpoint presentation on the optimal amount of sleep that humans need, so I am also supposed to be modelling for him how to do an assignment. So I am feeling a bit of pressure to not spend long periods of time procrastinating on Facebook or looking at YouTube videos and funny photos, as is my more usual habit when preparing something work-related.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Op shop find of the day

I found this for 50c in one of the local Vinnie's shops this morning. I wasn't a die-hard fan of reading these when I was younger (I was very much at the upper age limit of the target audience when they first came out), but I read a couple of them and didn't mind them. The holiday house we stayed in recently had another one of the series on the bookshelf so I read that and was taken back to childhood days.

This one is the first one in the series, the one that kicked off over two hundred Babysitters Club books.

On reflection, I think that the hook-in for reading books like these lay in the whole "girls being best friends" dynamic. Reading them also takes you back to a time when community, helping others and spending time with kids were more highly valued. I'm not sure what young girls finding them for the first time in our current age of individualism and self-centredness would make of them now. I don't have much experience with girls in this age group these days, but I get the feeling they would probably see themselves as being a bit more sophisticated than Kristy and Claudia et al.

When counter-culturalism is equated to godliness....

....I think we have a problem.

I was reading an interesting post of Jenny's here about how some parenting choices appear to be viewed as "more" or "less" Christian. She pointed out quite rightly that being part of God's family depends on faith in Jesus and his saving work through his death for our sins. That's it.

It was a good message for me to hear. I've felt for quite some time that because the choices we've made as a family are not quite as counter-cultural as those made by other Christians we know, that maybe we're perceived as a bit less godly than other people. We send our kids to the local public school, I'm a working mother, my three year old goes to child care, we don't follow strict routines with our little people (I even threw the book "Babywise" in the bin because I thought it was so bad). Our house looks pretty untidy most of the time. My husband and I share cooking, housework and child care jobs at home.

Possibly I'm being a bit oversensitive here. I might be feeling a bit more defensive than usual because a couple of church friends told me recently that they are going to start homeschooling their children. Whenever I hear things like this, I have moments of questioning the choices we've made. Sometimes I even feel like I have to work extra hard to serve at church so I can prove that these choices don't impact on my ability to live as a Christian. How silly is that?

But I have to remember that we are accountable not to other people but to God alone. He is the One we serve and will need to answer to in the future. The choices we make should be made in the light of His Word, not what all the other Christians we know are doing. And if we stopped judging one another (and if I am honest with myself, I have judged others for their choices too....) perhaps we could all concentrate much better on how we can serve God and other people.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Partied out...

Glad we don't do this too often. Lovely to catch up with so many friends though. And the rain didn't really stop people from having fun....I hope not, anyway.

 I am so thankful to God for my friends and family on days like this.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Just noticed....

....that I now appear to be a follower of my own blog. I'm not sure how my photo suddenly appeared there. I can't remember doing anything and of course I now can't seem to work out how to get rid of it.

It's a bit embarrassing. It makes me look like I'm desperate for followers or something. Really, I'm not. Just one of those blogger accidents that I don't know how to fix up.

Here's a great post on the culture of "maybe..."

I posted a couple of weeks ago here about encouraging one another and turning up to things church-related even if we don't particularly feel like doing so.

This post from the Growing Faith website is a pretty good one on a very similar topic. Highly recommended reading with some challenges to think about.

The opening paragraph really rang true for me this week as I've been organising a party for our littlest family member and waiting for people to get back to me. This is a busy time of the year. Lots of full weekends ahead in the lead up to Christmas. Facebook events, especially if created a few weeks in advance of the actual date, aren't always easy to locate on the rather annoying homepage that keeps changing your newsfeed to whatever it feels like. But it's been an at times discouraging experience that I'm not keen to go through again in a hurry.

Anyway, back to that opening paragraph, if you don't have time to read the whole lot (or to encourage you to go and have a look...):

"In an over-full, over-committed life, it’s easy to just click ‘maybe’ on a Facebook event. The thought of making another decision about anything seems a little overwhelming, and ‘maybe’ seems a lot nicer than a flat out ‘no’. At the very least, it defers the rejection until you have the emotional fortitude to say it nicely. In the end, you wait until the absolute brink and bumble your way through “I am really sorry… the kids have been sick… the dog needs a kidney transplant… sorry… see you soon… it would be great to catch up…. I hope it goes well… sorry"."

I've learned this week that it's hard being on the receiving end when this happens. Of course, I realise there are really good reasons why people are unable to come to events that we organise (this post isn't targeted at anyone, I promise!). And our small party at home isn't a church related event so I'd much rather that people prioritised coming along to church over coming to our little do. But at the same time, I've been guilty of making these kinds of excuses myself, with both church and other social events. And regardless of whether the event is related to church or just a social gathering that someone's been kind enough to invite us to, it has the potential to hurt or discourage other people.  Time (again) to repent of my sin.

You may or may not have come across these before....

But I think this lady is very clever at turning photos of infants into funky looking art. Her name is Adele Enerson and she has a whole blog full of more of this stuff.

And as a mother who is spending today remembering how quickly her little newborn has grown into a big one year old, it is nice to be able to spend some time oohing and aahing over newborn photos. They are pretty cute, aren't they?

Update on a previous story....

A while ago I posted here and here about our kids' school purchasing the Fast ForWord program to use with some of the kids who have learning difficulties.

I did end up discussing the concerns I had with the school principal. I gave him a copy of the independent systematic literature review I found that suggested it wasn't the cure-all that it claims to be. He agreed with me at the time that it was a lot of money to be spending if it wasn't something that could be proved to work any better than regular remedial programs. I hoped he might pass the information on, and said I was happy to chat to the learning support teachers to find out more about where they were coming from. I've had a good relationship with them both in the past so I didn't think that would be too threatening.

I heard nothing further, although I did wonder what had come out of it all, given that they already had the funding earmarked for it and it didn't seem likely they could just use the money for something different.

Then yesterday the school newsletter came home with a picture of the learning support teacher, a teacher's aide (who is running the program) and five students, all wearing headphones and in front of a laptop computer. Together with a story about the great new Fast ForWord program they are all working on (every day for a 50 minute session) based on years of neuroscience research. They appear to be using it mostly with older kids. I recognised a couple of Year 5s in the photo that accompanied the story. So I'm guessing these are the kids who have been chronic non-responders to more conventional remedial programs for reading difficulties.

At the end of the story, there was this quote which I assume came from the school's policies somewhere:

"We value all of our students' capabilities and strive to support individuals' learning needs by sourcing resources from new and different angles."

Sigh. I guess there was never any way they weren't going to run with it. But I'm a bit disappointed that I never heard anything back after I had screwed up all my courage to raise questions I had about it.

I hope it works for these kids. Fifty minutes a day, five days a week, is a lot of withdrawal time from their regular curriculum. The report from the teacher's aide was that "even though the program is in its early stages, the students are showing upward trends and moving forward successfully." Hard to know what that means. I guess most kids would enjoy getting taken out of class and allowed to play games on the computer for almost an hour each day. The big question that probably can't be answered yet is whether or not that translates to improvements with their reading skills.

Next year, I am going to be working for a couple of days a week on a short term contract supervising a group of Uni students to run occupational therapy groups in a school. Now I am all the more determined to make sure that what I am encouraging them to do is actually based on solid evidence. No dodgy interventions here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My baby is turning one on Friday

Now that he's walking, he seems to have turned into a toddler in the twinkling of an eye. My breastfeeding days are coming to an end. This week, he decided he didn't want a feed before bed at night anymore so he is down to just one feed in the morning. And he's not so keen to just sit and be cuddled now. He is a child who wants to be on the move....constantly.

We are having a party for him on Saturday. After months and months of no rain the big drought-breaking day of rain is heading our way guessed it, Saturday. I think our pool party plans may need a re-think. Hopefully people will still come. RSVPs haven't exactly been flowing in so far but we would love for a few people to turn up and celebrate with us.

It's our last time celebrating a first birthday for one of our own children. I feel a bit sad about it actually. I hope I don't end up crying.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And if you are looking for some worthwhile blog posts to read at the moment (since there's nothing to see here, people...)

Could I recommend Meredith's posts on reading all of the Bible. The first one is here.

I've been thinking about a post about motherhood, identity and Christianity

Yes, I know the topic's been done to death. But it's all a bit too hard this afternoon so I found this instead:

Reverse hand show puppets. From here.

And now I'm off to watch (on TV) that horse race that's on today. Not that I'm particularly interested in the outcome. But it does have a bit of added interest this year with royalty being around to present the Cup to the big winner.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Have I mentioned in here before that I love Boggle?

I spent part of the day today playing Boggle with some good friends. Excellent fun.

I'm not very good at it. My strategy is to look for the longer words. In doing this, I end up with less of the three letter words that I assume everyone else will get, so when I can only find one longer word that tactic tends to backfire a bit.

It doesn't stop me having a great time though. Today was absolutely worth it, even if the two little people didn't get much in the way of an afternoon sleep so they were pretty over it by the time we got to swimming for the older two after school.

Some amusement for Monday morning...

From here.

I'm probably being a bit harsh on some of my offspring by posting that actually. Some of my kids would be happy to try anything new. But we have a few laggards in the camp who would be happy eating exactly the same couple of meals forever.*

*or sandwich fillings...I'm currently trying to work out how to move the little guys off eating peanut butter sandwiches every single day...

Ukulele duo

Aidan has started learning to play the ukulele at school. Exciting times.

So far we can play Amazing Grace and Rock Around the Clock together. He's still building up speed on the chord changes so we're a bit slow, but we haven't been doing lots of practice either.

I've been wondering whether I could ask to go along to a couple of their lunchtime music practices so I can learn something as well. I don't think it will get off the ground though. I don't know the school music teacher too well. He seems okay, but you never know when teachers are thinking that the parents are being a bit too pushy and overenthusiastic. But the presence of two toddlers wanting food closely followed by sleep at the same time as school lunchtime is probably the killer blow to the plan.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reading this at the moment

After I read a review of it here.

I'm really enjoying it. It's been interesting to read it straight after doing the Two Ways to Live course, since it seems to address many questions that came up for me during that.

Anyone else read it?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Here's how I spent Halloween....

I just popped out to the local ALDI to pick up a few Christmas CDs on special. We don't own a lot of Christmas music here so seeing some ABC music CDs for only $6.99 each was too good to pass up. Now we own five CDs for the princely sum of only $34.95. Some of them are still selling on the ABC shop website for $25-$27 each. Bargain.

I spotted a large crowd of trick or treaters as I was heading out. They were all wandering around the much flatter ground of the neighbourhood at the bottom of our hill. We live at the top of the hill with a pretty steep driveway so not many dressed up kids have enough energy to make it to our front door. I had a few lollies in the cupboard for anyone who might have come calling but no one did so it looks like I'll be eating those myself.

He/she....we're all confused

A girl in one of my kids' classes at school has decided this year that she wants to be a boy. She now wears the boys' school uniform (not too unusual since many of the girls at the school wear shorts rather than the skort thing on offer for girls), has had her long hair cut very short, has shortened her name so it is now more boyish, and wants to play the same games as the boys at lunch time.

The other kids in the class don't seem too worried about it. My own child just shrugged when I asked him about it. Probably a fairly common response, I guess.

So this term I have finally managed to get my act together and help out in his class, after meaning to get around to this all year. On Monday, I worked with this ex-girl on some sight words.

The problem is, this child was also in my child's class in Kindergarten a couple of years ago. I used to work with him/her on sight words back then too. So on Monday, I did say "good girl" to him/her a few times. It was very hard not to slip back into the old habit. I apologised whenever I did it. He/she didn't seem to take offence when it happened.

Apparently there have been a few issues this week because the class have started doing an intensive swimming program where the kids all get changed into their swimmers and walk down to one of the local pools for swimming classes. This child wanted to get changed with the boys but the teacher wasn't happy with that plan. In the end, all the other boys got changed in the little withdrawal room off the main classroom and this other kid got sent into the boys' toilets. Awkward.

And my husband got to hear all of this story at school this morning when he returned a pair of girls' undies that had somehow found its way into our son's school bag after swimming yesterday, courtesy of one of the other boys in his class who thought it was a bit of a joke to have put them there.

My husband thought he was a victim of some unnecessary oversharing and overstepping of limits in confidentiality from the teacher when he heard that. But honestly, who'd be a teacher these days? It's not just about teaching them how to read, write and spell anymore. I'm not sure how I'd react if I was the teacher in that situation. If the family are supportive of this girl wanting to be a boy, then I suppose you would just have to go along with it. But what do I really think? I think it's all pretty weird actually.

We did both have a bit of a giggle when I heard that the teacher's response to the discovery of the female underwear in our kid's bag was "I'll get to the bottom of that." Chris said he came back with "No pun intended." But he said he didn't think she got the joke.

Or maybe with all this male/female drama it's just all past the point of being funny.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book review: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

I first saw this book reviewed on the First Tuesday Book Club on the ABC a few months ago. What made me notice it was that every person on the discussion panel had really loved it. Anyone who has watched the show knows that that is a bit unusual.

It's taken me a while to get hold of a copy to read. Our local library didn't have a copy at the time it was on the TV show, but said it was on order. And there were lots of reserves placed on it for when it arrived. The library didn't have any of his other books that I could read while I was waiting.

It's a book that's distinctive in the "ordinariness" of the plot, nothing too dramatic, just the story of two couples who become friends during the Depression years when the two husbands are working together in the English department at the University of Wisconsin and how their friendship develops over many years. The narrator, Larry, is the husband in one of the couples and is writing the book as a reflection on their friendship, as they have gathered together again in their older age because Charity, the wife in the other couple, is about to die from cancer.

Although there's not too much plot to speak of, the rich descriptions of the couples and their friendship, and the observations Stegner makes, reflecting on both self and the nature of relationships, are beautifully written. This is what made the book so enjoyable for me, the First Tuesday Book clubbers described it as a book about "living a worthy life" and also about "dying a good death" which really summed it up quite well. Of course, as Christians, we know that living a worthy life is about much much more than just "the passion we all (have) to improve ourselves, live up to our potential, leave a mark on the world....about how we could contribute." (p.11). But I think this quote is a great description of the way we think about life in the world.

Another fantastic description that stood out to me was this one (p.191):
"You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine."  

That one reminded me of that verse in Mark's Gospel where it talks about no one knowing the day or the hour except for the Father. And again, it was such a vivid picture of how the world works.

If you're a person who loves lots of action, adventure and escapism in your fiction reading, this probably isn't the book for you. But if you love good character development and how people relate to one another in a long term marriage and in friendships, then it's a beautiful book to read. One review I read of it on Goodreads described it as "the anti-Gatsby." I liked that. No affairs or adulterous relationships, no excessive consumption and wastage, no violence, but just a description of ordinary lives impacted upon by joy, sorrow, laughter, disappointment, illness and the myriad of other experiences that we encounter over the course of many years.

Definitely worth a read. I am in the middle of reading it for a second time before I have to take it back to the library on Monday for the next person in the reservation queue. And then I think I'd like to read it again in a few years time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Poetry term: Banjo Paterson

Term 4 at the kids' school is always the term where everyone has to learn a poem and say it in front of their class....and then, if they're good enough, in front of their year group.

This year we're having a Banjo Paterson-fest. Liam is learning Clancy of the Overflow, and Aidan is learning The Geebung Polo Club.

We are currently in the painful phase of learning the poems off by heart. Once we get through that, it will be fun getting the expression and intonation patterns happening.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All is well....

The surgery is done. And my gorgeous girl sounded like she is back to her happy self when I spoke to her on the phone earlier this evening. Just the follow up appointment tomorrow afternoon to get through and then they will be coming home.

Prayers have been answered. It always feels like a bit of a lottery waiting to hear how kids cope with a general anaesthetic. Praying that the outcome for the eyes is going to be good too.

Unfortunately, one of the kids left behind with me has developed a vomiting bug. I was woken at midnight last night to the familiar sound that all parents dread. So he has spent most of the day alternating between sleeping and moaning on the bed/couch/floor in the bathroom. The time spent moaning seems to be outweighing the time spent sleeping

I generally find that I can manage sick kids a lot better if I can get a bit of respite from all the moaning. I always look forward to seeing my husband arrive home in the evening, but today was a day on which I would normally be desperately waiting for 5.30 to come around so he could shoulder some of the moaning burden. Knowing he wasn't going to be arriving was tough for both me and the sick person. So until tomorrow there's only me. Sadly, my sympathy stocks are starting to run low. He is sleeping now, so I had better start praying for patience.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tomorrow... little girl is having surgery for a turned eye. It's only day surgery, not a major procedure, but general anaesthetic is needed, and it's never nice seeing one of your children wheeled away into an operating theatre. I have been in floods of tears before when I've seen this happening.

Since I can't bear to watch the operating theatre doors closing, I am sending my husband to Brisbane to be with her for the day surgery tomorrow, and the follow up at the doctor's rooms on Thursday. I get to stay home with the other three kids and keep things running here.

I am praying that all goes well and that the operation fixes the problem. We were told by our optometrist that cosmetically there will probably be good improvement but from a functional point of view only time will tell. Or maybe I have that the wrong way around....I'm feeling a bit scattered about it all at the moment. Like I could just start crying at any minute really. Hope that the feeling will pass and I will feel a bit more peaceful about it all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When you don't feel like it...

....don't do it. That's what the world would have us believe, anyway.

And even as Christians, we fall for it all the time.  It's the old "I'll do that/go to that if I don't have anything better to do" trap. Don't feel like going to church? Fine then, don't go. Don't feel like turning up to Bible study this week? Of course it's fine to stay home then. Don't feel like cooking? Pretend you missed seeing that email about the meal roster for someone who's not well or just had a baby.

I have been guilty of all of the above. Sure, I might cover it up with some more acceptable sounding excuse, such as "well, I've been really busy this week and I'm feeling pretty tired right now, so I don't think I can get there/sign up to help with whatever it is." "The kids have been hard work and they were a bit sick earlier in the week, so it's probably better to not go." "The only possible time I could book this appointment was when Bible study is on." (Sometimes that last one might be true, but there are certainly times when it isn't).

But if I'm honest with myself, deep down I know that if the activity involved was something like going out for dinner with my husband, catching up with a group of friends to see a movie or have a coffee together, or doing some other kind of social or leisure pastime, then I would make the effort to do it and prioritise it above these things. Suddenly the sick kids and the tired body don't seem to be such big issues after all.

I think that as Christians, we need to think counter culturally to the idea of only doing things if we really feel like it, or only because of what we will get out of it. Sadly, it's taken me a while to come to this realisation and I still struggle sometimes to get my priorities right. Church and Bible study aren't just where I go when I don't have somewhere else to be that seems more exciting. Serving and encouraging others in my Christian family isn't an optional extra that I can get around to doing after all my own selfish needs have been met.

Of course, like the majority of my sins, I need to remind myself of this on a regular basis. Putting God first, and meeting together with and serving Christian brothers and sisters, IS important. It's not easy. Sometimes I really don't feel like it. But what I feel like isn't the most important thing.

This is what the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25...."let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

What better thing could there be to do than this?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

And here's another yummy after dinner treat

Sugar and spice roasted almonds. Recipe here.

They are certainly very more-ish. And very very easy to make. They would be good for a Christmas-time treat, but let me tell you they're pretty yummy at this time of the year as well.

I halved the recipe quantities in the above recipe link (that meant they all fitted into one large baking dish) and that's easily made enough for us to eat here at home. I'm now thinking of making a few bags for the school fete next week.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seriously awesome dessert

Weis have a couple of new dessert bar flavours out. They were on special at Coles last week.

The "pineapple and coconut with a hint of lime" one tastes unbelievably good. Chris and I had one each for dessert last night. He is at Bible study tonight and I have just eaten the third one in the box.

I hope I can be good and resist eating the last one. But they are just so yummy I might not be able to hold back....

Murphy's Law of semi functioning car air conditioning

It will only ever work on days when it isn't hot.

Our second car is old. The air conditioning works very intermittently. Maybe for about five minutes for every hour of driving time.

That five minutes never coincides with times when it is really really hot, and you actually want the air conditioning to be working.

It seems to take great delight in coming on when it's not needed. Like when I'm driving at night. Or in a cool southerly breeze.

Unfortunately, the engine in this car is still going strong (as the rest of the car disintegrates around it...) so it will be a while before we'll be able to justify replacing the car.

In the meantime I'll continue the routine of shivering for the five minutes that it's working in the cold weather, and dripping with perspiration when it refuses to come on in the heat.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Managed to find a couple of Tim Winton books that I liked

Our two nephews stayed with us for a few days over the school holiday break. One of them was reading Blueback by Tim Winton.

So I asked him if I could borrow it. And I loved it. I read it in an hour, and then I read it again. Magnificent descriptions of the sea and the big groper Blueback that the book is named for.

Just a beautifully simple story with no irritating characters, like some of the other Tim Winton books I've tried and failed at reading.

Then last week while we were away, I read Land's Edge. This is a non-fiction book/memoir based on Tim's memories of the coast as he was growing up. I enjoyed that one too.

I feel like I've made it. I've managed to enjoy some Tim Winton.

This week at Book Club, we're discussing Breath. I read it for the second time while we were away. Still didn't enjoy it, although at least with some Tim enjoyment coming into reading it, I could appreciate his descriptions of the surf and the waves a bit more. The plot still isn't working for me though.

Home again

Lovely to be back. I've missed you all. Hope at least a few people might still be looking in here occasionally.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Off on holidays for a bit

We're heading off to the beach for the second half of the school holidays. Looking forward to doing....well, not very much. Plenty of books to be read, board games to be played, DVDs to be watched (Series 2 of The Tudors that I found in the library) and fun to be had.

Between now and when we leave tomorrow I have to finish marking five exams and then the exam marking is over except for putting their marks onto a spreadsheet somewhere. Not quite sure what I'm doing with that yet but there'll be time to sort that out when I get back.

And I have to pack stuff.

Unfortunately I have been distracted by this rather nice dress I found in the Myer online shop. A friend at church was wearing the short sleeved version of it this morning. I think I would prefer the shorter sleeved one myself but I don't want to look too much like I'm copying. Although she is one of the people going to our new church plant so if I bought one then we wouldn't be running into eachother in our matching dresses every Sunday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Making room for new relationships...

Our church is getting ready to plant a new congregation. It's been planned for a while, but the kick off date for the new church plant is now only three weeks away. Exciting times ahead. And sad ones, as we say goodbye to some good friends who are leaving us.

We are staying with the group who meet at our current location. The new church will be further away from our home so it made sense for us to stay where we were. The last Sunday where we will all be together is in two weeks' time, but we will still be away on holidays then, so next Sunday will be the last Sunday for us in the church as we currently know it.

We've been with this church for almost seven years now. It was very small when we arrived and has grown to become very large over the time that we've been in it. God has been good to us.

One difficult thing that I've found about the growth in numbers over the past few years is that it gets much harder to get to know people at church. In a small crowd, you know everyone and can catch up with them every Sunday. As the crowd gets bigger, it gets trickier. New people arrive and you welcome them and you might want to get to know them better, but if you already have lots of friendships on the go (and if, like me, you cope better with a smaller quota of friends) then it's harder to catch up with all the new people and establish new friendships with them. Sometimes it's just easier to hang out with the old friends, but that doesn't make it easy for the newer people to feel like they belong.

I think it's important for us as Christians to make space for new friendships in our lives. It builds our church as a community, and challenges us to think about how we can serve others and look outwards. It stretches us out of our comfort zones, perhaps more than a quiet type like me would like, but in a way that helps us to grow and become more mature as Christians.

Yesterday we had lunch with some friends from church at the home of a younger couple who only started attending our church in the last twelve months. The wife is a fairly new Christian, and her husband is from a Jewish background, is not yet converted and would probably describe himself as an atheist. He has attended services at our church for special occasions (like Christmas carols) in the past, but yesterday was the first time he had come to a regular Sunday service. Catching up over lunch afterwards was a lovely time of chatting and getting to know them both better. We pray that over time he'll come along to church some more. I hope that building good friendships will encourage him to do that.

Bring on the changes. And the opportunities for new relationships that they will bring our way. Please pray that we'll be open to growing in new directions and reaching out to others.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Difference between dogs and cats....

From here.

After our week of dog-sitting, I still prefer cats. They're more independent. But I think I could now live with a dog...perhaps one without bundles of energy, though!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Now our oven is packing up

After all the fridge dramas of last week, it seems as if our oven is feeling the lack of attention in its direction.

This week it decided to have a "go slow" so that we will notice it. The other night it took ages to heat up and then well over an hour to cook a quiche. This resulted in a family member being late to get to a meeting on Wednesday night.

Not good enough, oven. So I have been out to price new ones in anticipation.

The thing I have noticed over time through many homes with many ovens is that they don't just stop working completely. They gradually begin to irritate by doing things like overcooking or burning (usually just the couple of biscuits in the back corner of the tray, for example), or perhaps by not heating up very fast anymore. The trouble with this is that there isn't the urgency to go out and buy a new one, unlike things that completely die.

Replacing two large kitchen appliances in a short space of time is a bit of a stretch. However, I've been told we can probably afford a new one.

It's very tempting.


This is bloggable because we've had hardly any rain for weeks.

Looking forward to seeing the lawn start to green up again.

An apt description of life here at the moment

From here.

Hooray that school holidays start today, I say.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sorry to anyone else who's been spammed... commenting on any of my posts.

So word verification is back in operation here for a while. Hoping that might put a stop to all the emails about cheap medicines that have been turning up in my inbox.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gardening wins and losses....

Our cherry tomatoes have been pretty prolific this season so far. They are currently growing a second round of new shoots and flowers for a summer crop.

Because I was so excited about how well the cherry tomatoes were going, I thought I'd try growing a different variety. This one is a photo I took of my Mamma Mia tomato plant a few weeks after I planted it.

Sadly, it's not looking this healthy now. I can't bear to take a photo of the plant because it now looks like it is on death's door. I think it outgrew the pot before I realised. Last week I noticed that a lot of the tomatoes had big brown patches on the bottom of them.

This is called blossom end rot. Not good. Caused by a variety of things mostly related to soil quality, and possibly by wet weather on planting followed by a very long dry spell, as we've had up here. And maybe by outgrowing the pot as well. My Google hunting told me that some tomato varieties are more susceptible than others. So I'm going to try again with a different type (and a bigger pot) when we get back from our holidays in October.

Happily, the cherry tomatoes are still producing to make me feel better about the Mamma Mia fail. These are some that I picked this morning. We've also had one or two strawberries coming through as well.

And the herbs are going really well. The rosemary, flat leaf parsley, mint and oregano are looking fantastic.

So all in all, a pretty good gardening winter. Hoping to get some radishes planted over the next little while too.

Hank and Gigi

Our pug guests....

Last night I downloaded over 700 photos from my camera

Prepare for an onslaught of posts with photos...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our new fridge

It's just arrived. I'm waiting for it to cool down so I can start unloading the assorted eskies and bar fridge our kind friends loaned us when the old one gave up on Wednesday.

This one takes up more room than the old one. I bought the old one when I was single and had just left home. We really needed a bigger one, but the fridge space in our current home is a bit on the small side. Access to our house is also difficult. We have steps that turn a corner on the way up. We have discovered this is not good for large appliances like fridges. The alternative access is bit of a cross country route up a straight flight of stairs and around our swimming pool (including two pool gates). I'd forgotten to measure the width of those when I was checking out fridge sizes yesterday. It just fitted through the smaller one.

I've already managed to drop one of the food caddy/shelf things from inside the door onto the wooden floor so the edge of it is now chipped. Fortunately not too noticeable, but it was sad to see it lose its brand-new perfection so soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our fridge just died

After 16 years and 7 moves (maybe more, have lost track of how many times it's been even got lost on one of them).


But I guess it's had a pretty good life.

We're dog-sitting

Our friends' two pugs are staying with us this week. They arrived last night.

So far, they've been getting quite excited when approached by anyone so it's been hard to get a good photo of them. Hopefully later in the week they might calm down so I can get a few shots of the kids with them.

Everyone in our house is also pretty excited about them being here. Well, except for one person, who is showing dissent by refusing to come out of their room or get off the couch if the dogs are inside.

Sigh. I was hoping this could be a kind of trial run to work out whether we might be able to manage a dog as a more permanent pet in the future. Hoping the dissenter might come on board by the end of the week.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's it called?

Most of us know this as a trampoline. Our three year old calls it a "jumping machine." We were having morning tea at a friend's house this morning and it was rather amusing listening to her telling her little friend whose turn it was to go on the jumping machine.

I did correct her a couple of times. And then I just thought, well, it's cute. And she'll work out what it's really called sooner or later anyway. Until then, it can be one of those cute toddler things to remember later. Hence this post, since I'm pretty sure I won't remember to write it down anywhere else.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nothing much happening here...

...although I did find this rather funny blog called Removies. It consists of movie posters that have been rewritten with one letter removed. There aren't many of them yet, but the ones that are there are pretty funny.

Like these:

Another person with a bit too much time on their hands, methinks....

Friday, August 31, 2012

And while I'm mentioning Gina Rinehart's comments...

...I found this rather amusing (from Crikey). Sorry there's a naughty word in it. The dancing is lovely though.

Thoughts from the US Republican Convention 2012

(Image from here).

Earlier today, I turned on the TV over lunch to find a live broadcast on the ABC news channel from the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida. After warm up speaking acts that included Clint "Make my day" Eastwood, among others, I heard Mitt Romney's speech as he formally accepted his nomination as the Rupublican US Presidential candidate.

There were the usual outpourings of adulation from the wildly enthusiastic audience waving flags and signs, and applauding at just about every word that came out of his mouth. A few people there were even in costume. One guy looked like he might have come dressed as Christopher Columbus. I guess it's all part of the atmosphere.

Anyway, I thought Mitt was strong on style, but lacking on substance. I suppose that finer details weren't really necessary because at this point he's just accepting the nomination and quite clearly he was preaching to the converted. He did make a solid attempt to win over women voters, and the low income earners. But he seems to have the idea, in a similar vein to Gina Rinehart's recent comments, that people without much money just need to work harder and start up their own small business to get ahead. If only it was that simple.

And there were plenty of comments from Mitt and the other speakers I heard about repealing Obama's plans for healthcare reform if the Republicans get into the White House. One guy said that having two systems (ie private and public) "hadn't worked in any country it had been introduced in" or words to that effect. I'm not so sure it's been a failure here in Australia. I think it's great that people who can't afford private cover have a free healthcare system that they can access. It's not perfect, sure, but it means everyone's looked after. And a society that shows care and concern for the vulnerable is a good thing, I think.

I didn't end up being won over by much of what Mitt said. And he had this weird look that he seemed to deliberately put on during pauses in his speech when he was looking directly at the camera. A bit smirky and self-satisfied, I thought.

Or maybe it's his name that I can't get past. You know me, small things amusing small minds and all of that. But all along, I've found it rather amusing that his name is also the name of a well-known item of sporting equipment. Or for those of us in Australia, an oven glove.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I just noticed this bed....

....advertised in the latest Harvey Norman catalogue. It's called "Library." Imagine that. Combining two of my favourite pastimes....reading and sleeping.

Sadly, it's probably a bit too opulent to go with the rest of our home decor. But I think if I owned this bed, I would find it very difficult to ever leave it.

A bit off topic, but I always find it amusing that they choose to advertise beds in outdoor settings. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make them look more inviting. I suppose it's kind of cool to think about having a bed set up in your outdoor entertaining area so you can lie in it and read. And in this one, you could even pull the curtains around to stop the insects coming in. How practical for the great outdoors.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Win an iPad

Sorry folks, that title doesn't actually mean I am giving away an iPad.

But I have to say, I'm seeing the "win an iPad" slogan quite a lot lately. And it sucks me in every single time. I'm doing stuff I normally wouldn't be bothered about, but it suddenly seems worth doing if there's an iPad to be won.

I just updated my personal details for one of my super funds online because they're giving away 100 iPads for people who register. I was contemplating going to an information evening at our local high school (even though it's still a couple of years before any of our kids are ready to go there) because the school sign said you could go into a draw to win an iPad just by turning up. I ended up being unwell that night so I didn't get there, but I think the odds would have been good on a win there.

I can nominate my husband in an "I love my Physio" competition for World Physiotherapy Day (the 8th September, if anyone's interested) and win an iPad that way. Quote from the website that made me giggle: "Everyone should love a physiotherapist." Well, yes, I do actually. But I suspect my reasons for loving this one might not be the ones they're looking for in the competition.

We've decided that an iPad is a luxury item so we're highly unlikely to be able to justify buying ourselves one. So entering competitions is my only hope at the moment. And I'm hoping that in a few months, I'll be sharing news of a win with you all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Knowing God

Why did I wait so long to read this?? What an amazing book.

I'm only about a third of the way into it (and I've had to read some of the chapters several times to get the full effect) but it is going well. I thought it would be much harder going than it is turning out to be.

There's so much gold to be mined in it that it's hard to know where to start on a review. But here's the short review for you. If you've never managed to get through it, pick it up and read it. Right now. Don't put it off any longer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Happy belated birthday Claude

Last week it was Debussy's birthday. Here is some nice music of his to celebrate.

This year's Classic FM Top 100 is French music. I'm going to call it early and say I'm fairly confident Debussy will be heavily featured among the top ten.

Lemon and thyme roast chicken

Recipe and photo from here.

We've been on a quest for a while to find a nice roast chicken recipe. It's not easy. I quite enjoy a home cooked roast chicken, but Chris doesn't like roast chicken as much as he likes other roasted meats. He says it's because roast chicken was just about the only roast his family ever had when he was a kid, so it quickly became done to death for him.

Tonight we tried this one. It wasn't too bad. Unfortunately, in the picture from the magazine it all looks a bit burned. Not sure what was going on with the food styling there.

It was pretty easy to make. No stuffing involved. I don't mind eating stuffing, but making it adds extra time to the cooking that I'm mostly too lazy to bother with.  To cook the roast, you just heat the oven up to 200 degrees. Then you wash the chicken under cold water, pat it dry, and put it into a roasting dish breast side down. Then you stick a lemon that you've cut into quarters into the cavity, and put a couple of halved lemons, a whole clove of garlic cut in half crossways and some thyme around it. Add about three quarters of a cup of chicken stock to the dish, sprinkle more thyme on top, spray the chicken with some olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.

Then you cook it for an hour and fifteen minutes (that's for a 1.8kg chook, we had a 2.1kg one so we gave him a bit longer). After that you take it out, flip the chicken over so it's breast side up, and cook it for another fifteen minutes or so.

Serve with all the usual roast chicken accompaniments. We had potatoes, corn and beans. The juice in the pan would probably make a nice light gravy to go on the meat, or you could mix a regular gravy mix into the juices if you wanted to.

Usually with a 2kg roast we have leftover meat to use for sandwiches but most people went for seconds tonight so the carcass is pretty bare. I think that means it went down well.

Dear blog....

....I've missed you.

Sorry for the bloggy silence, to anyone who still might be checking in.

The assignments are done. Now for a week of good times ahead before I have to do two sessions of vivas with my lovely students. Bless them, they are all stressing about it already.

I suspect I will be joining them in the stressy camp before too long. I've never had to conduct viva exams before but my husband tells me that he has had to deal with a few crying students when he's had to run them. I'm hoping that's just because he's far more imposing and frightening to face than me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thirteen assignments down....

....only six to go.

Two of those thirteen I'll need to mark again because I think I was feeling a bit too harsh over the weekend when I marked them. I don't think they were as bad as I first thought they were. I was just annoyed because one of them clearly needed a good proof-read and had obviously been written in one night. Having to state the date of retrieval from websites in the reference list made it blatantly clear.