Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm a little AWOL from blogging this week. While Mum is here visiting, I am taking advantage of having another pair of eyes/hands and I am totally reorganising/disinfecting my whole kitchen.

I hate mouse infestations!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Little Victories

Mama Bug has posted a challenge on her blog.
A challenge to document out little victories in going against our first instinct and doing what is best for our children.

One of my little victories has been our Jobs List!

On the inside of my pantry doors there are two sheets of paper. Each sheet is divided in four with some very dodgy art work on them! I made these about two weeks ago with the children. We sat down together and I asked them all the things that we need to do to keep the dining area clean. They were pretty good and thorough! They even included wiping the light fittings. We trimmed the list down to eight items and I divided them evenly between the two sheets. After (almost) every meal now the older two children clear and wipe the table, wipe down the chairs (including Christopher's high chair), clear any toys or other things that don't belong and wipe the windowsills. They even sweep (well, use the brush and shovel to sweep up the pile when I sweep) and mop! The adds another few minutes every meal to the clean up. There have been a few times when I have just wanted to let it slide that day, but we are sticking with it! My job is to oversee, help and help keep the babies out of their way!

You know what the thing that makes me MOST proud is?

They have started making Christopher their "assistant", giving him little jobs to do or things to carry so he doesn't feel left out!

How cute is that.

That is my little victory, and it is bigger than I expected it would be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Praise God!

The Lockwood Family has brought little Samuel home. On their behalf, thankyou for all the prayers!

Monday mythbuster: somebody out there knows what they're talking about

It's been a while so I thought we may bust a few myths again! If you bust a myth on your own blog, feel free to link in my comments so I can have a read :)

It is like being thrown in the deep end, this parenting, this LIFE! So we start looking around for someone who knows what they are talking about.

Enter the self help books, the web sites, Oprah!

So many, trawling around for some clue of how to manage, come across someone who seems to have a bit of a clue and latch onto them like a drowning man to a lifesaver. This person seems to have the answer!! I will do what they tell me, follow their rules, read all their books and quote them endlessly to family, friends, and strangers on the street.

This becomes a problem when they start substituting the books, words and ideas of another for their own common sense. If they stop having the courage to make their own decisions and mistakes, and start making someone elses'.

Now I could probably get a masters in self-help and parenting books and websites. And I have found many genuinely useful insights in my reading. The danger is when we start letting the Ezzos, Pearls, Quiverfull Movement, that nice blog we set as our home page, do the thinking for us.

Because the truth is, each one of those people are learning and changing every day. All are slowly, in His grace, morphing into what He intended them to be. And it still hasn't finished. Nor will it finish until He comes again.

By all means, read, research and weigh the ideas of all the 'experts', but read the Bible more and pray more. Test each thing against the True Authority of the Word, because none of these experts are finished works yet! Use the common sense God gave you. If something isn't working for your family, stop and pray about it before grabbing the pamphlet to re-read the twelve step plan to obedient children!

So there you have it, nobody knows completely what they are talking about. So go to the one True Source.

But don't take my word for it, I may not know what I'm talking about!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Who I am ...part 1

I have been blogging for a while now and to tell you the truth, the only people who I thought would read this more than once are my kid's grandmothers! Hi Mum! Hi Kester! It has become clear that I actually have a readership or more than two. So I should probably introduce myself.

Hi, my name is Jess.

That doesn't tell you anything you didn't know from the title does it?

Describing me has always been something I found difficult, so here's what I will do. I will tell you what I am not, using examples that most will know and relate to, and you can fill in the rest.

I am not.....

The Popular Kid.
The one at school who got on with everyone and everyone wanted, at least a little bit, to be liked by and to be like. That's not me. That would require me being a people person. Which I am not. I like people, but I also kind of like people to leave me alone. Popular kids usually lead out in the trends and fads, set an example that people want to follow and take themselves fairly seriously. Taking myself seriously is something that I am NOT good at!

The Geek.
I describe myself as a "thinker and writer of fluctuating skill" in my side bar, please don't mistake that for meaning that I am a smart kid - or geek to use the high school term. To say that I am clever because I think a lot about a lot of different things, is sort of like saying I am Jamie Oliver because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen or I am Shakespeare because I like writing- it doesn't follow. I can fool some people sometimes because I read a lot (or whenever I have a chance, which isn't so much a lot these days) and wear glasses. But at the end of the day I am a bear-of-very-little-brain and I am quite comfortable with that! Also, I am awful at maths. So while I enjoy Monty Python and can actually work out what most of the slogans on the t-shirts at Think Geeks mean, I am not a geek.

The Nice Girl.

The nice girl is nice to everyone and everyone likes her. She is never ever abrasive, confronting or socially inappropriate. She never comes out with odd comments completely out of left field that leave everyone wondering if they heard all of that conversation or if part of it went on with the little voices inside her head. I am not this girl. She is usually conservative and doesn't push the envelope with beliefs or stances. She doesn't do things out of the ordinary and certainly doesn't provoke people just a little bit to see how they react and secretly feel a touch of naughty glee when she gets a bite. Needless to say, this is not me.

The Radical
If there is a cause this girl is on it, she hugs trees, boycotts wool products because PETA says she should, demonstrates every weekend, usually has a petition for people to sign and seeks out to be all the things that the nice girl isn't. If it isn't controversial this girl doesn't want a part of it! This girl is not me. It used to be a little bit me, back in my uni days when I toted black nail polish and a copy of the Female Eunuch around my conservative Christian college, but not so much now. I'm afraid I am a bit to cynical to take the word of a greenie who demonstrates against sustainable forestry then drives home in a car thousands of miles overdue for a service, enters their timber house and stokes up their wood fire before folding thousands of paper pamphlets ready to letterbox against the proposed paper pulp mill! Being a radical for the sake of it is exhausting. Though I gotta admit, every now and then I do throw the odd controversial or provoking remark out there, just to stir things up.

The Shy Kid.
The shy kid who sits unobtrusively in the corner. Comes and goes without drawing attention to themselves. Never debates a point with the teacher or makes waves. Yeah, not me either.

The Goth.
The kid with the black clothes, bad hair dye and loads too much make up who everyone thinks is depressed. I would have LIKED to be this kid once, but the whole effort of putting on that much make up put me off. The nail polish was as far as it got, and I don't even get that far anymore. I just can't take myself that seriously.

The "Conservative Fundamentalist" Kid

You know the one who shows up and stands on a bench in the middle of the playground and preaches to the other kids about how they shouldn't be kissing (or in the current high schools, getting high/laid :S) behind the shelter sheds. The one who organises prayer groups and Bible studies before and after school which only every get one attendee because everyone feels vaguely guilty when they are around her. The one who gets a little thrill out of getting beaten up after school because she thinks of herself as being persecuted and earning brownie points with God with every punch. While I share many beliefs with this kid, I stopped trying to earn brownie points with God a long time ago. So far, God and I are both happy with this decision! I am also more likely to be found sitting on the bench telling someone about how God loves them and what a difference He made in my life.

The sporty kid/Jock.
You mean people run on purpose?? When nothing is chasing them?? For FUN???

Miss Perfect
got the perfect schedule? The perfect grades? The perfect family? Are you always reliable? High achieving? Self disciplined? YOU ARE NOT ME THEN!

Now for what I AM.

I am saved. I am learning. I am changing. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a homemaker. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a reader. I am a writer. I am a gardener. I am me.

If, in this blog, you find something that lifts, inspires or encourages you, Thank God! If you find something that pricks your conscience, makes you check out your beliefs or touches your heart to change, Thank God. For all the other stuff, thank me :)

And thank YOU for stopping by.


To My Own Master

To my own master
I stand or fall.
Not you.
A fellow servant.
A comrade in the trenches,
not privy to the
whispered instructions
I receive direct from HQ

By all means,
if you see me walking to certain death.
But leave not your own post
to chase me down.
stand firm
if you chase me,
my friend,
may get us both

written by me, Inspired by Romans 14

A slightly more serious poem to round of poetry month.

The Cat

Part of why we were getting a cat was to teach the kids about life and death - a valuable lesson often learned through having pets. Getting to become gently acquainted with the way the world REALLY is. We didn't expect the education to go quite this way.

He went in to get desexed on Tuesday.

There were complications with the anesthetic.

He was blind, possibly brain damaged.

SOMETIMES they come right, the vet said, but if he doesn't it is kinder to just put him down. I had to agree, especially as we were getting the cat to catch mice. They don't catch many mice when they are blind.

So we gently told the kids.

The kitten was allergic to some medicine and is very sick. We may have to get another one.

I prayed with the kids, as you do. But I have to admit, I didn't really expect much. It was one abandoned kitten, we haddn't even bonded with it yet.

I rang this morning, expecting to give them the go-ahead to put the little fellow out of his misery.

"completely healed"

The kid's reaction was "well of course, we prayed didn't we!?"

Like I said, I didn't expect the education to quite go this way!

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. " Matt 21:22

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a Mum....interesting story


A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk 's office,
was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

'What I mean is, ' explained the recorder,
'do you have a job or are you just a ....?'

'Of course I have a job,' snapped the woman.

'I'm a Mom.'

'We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation,
'housewife' covers it,'
Said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself
in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
'Official Interrogator' or 'Town Registrar.'

'What is your occupation?' she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know.
The words simply popped out.
'I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.'

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire..

'Might I ask,' said the clerk with new interest,
'just what you do in your field?'

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
'I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn't)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).
I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers
and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.'

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more
distinguished and indispensable to mankind than 'just another Mom.'

What a glorious career!
Especially when there's a title on the door.

Does this make grandmothers
'Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations'
And great grandmothers
'Executive Senior Research Associates?'
I think so!!!
I also think it makes Aunts '
Associate Research Assistants.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's not the bad, but the good that traps me.

I don't spend hours on the 'net gambling, looking at internet porn, checking out how to make terrorist bombs. I don't get prescription drugs sent to my door to be consumed or fed to my children. I don't plunge myself in to debt shopping on e-bay and various other stores (tempting though it may be sometimes!) or engage in illicit affairs over chat.

I check out encouraging blogs, do Bible study, Blog myself, research homeschooling, find people who need praying for, keep in touch with family and friends, research home management techniques. All good things! But not great things.

Holding my babies is a great thing, talking to them, reading to them, teaching them, loving them. Keeping a welcoming and loving home for my family is a great thing. Talking to my husband is a great thing!

Good things are, well, good. Until they get in the way of great things.

I have known women who turned their children outside in the cold wearing grubby, days old clothing and nappies near hanging off the little ones - so they could clean house. I have known women who sent their children to another room for weeks on end to pretty much go feral while they researched homeschooling. I have known women who constantly refuse their husbands advances, or even requests for company and conversation, to finish crafts or construct a new home management book. All of these women took pride in being a submissive wife and loving mother and described it as a calling of God. The reality was much different though. The reality was frightening. Good drowning out the great, and becoming bad.

It shocks me how easy it can be to slide down that road.

So right now, I am going to put aside this good thing until tomorrow and help my daughter with her school work.

What great thing will you do today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Notes from a home schooling Mum

A reaction to some of those comments.

To the lady with the blue jacket and the disapproving tone.
I am glad you enjoyed sending your kids to school.
Your eyes look sad and I wonder how much joy you have had in your life.
I wish you'd enjoyed picking them up as much as you did dropping them off.

To the man with the football beenie and the concerned frown.
I am happy for you that you met your best friends at school.
It sounds like it was a very positive experience for you.
I hope my friends have good mates like you as they grow up.

To the lady with the purple hat and the laugh lines.
Thankyou, I think my children are lovely too!

note: all characters are fictional composites that will be recognised by almost any homeschooling mum!

Monday, April 20, 2009


BIG NEWS! Due to a major influx of mice we are getting a cat. Jon is allergic but he also loves cats, it was actually me who was tipping the vote to no cat for various reasons that all disappeared when I stepped out of the shower and found a mouse ON MY TOWEL!! AUGHHHH!!!! We chose one at the RSPCA on the weekend and are picking him up tomorrow or the next day after he is desexed.

Is thrilled to be getting a cat. Her original vote for a name was to call him Morris, but now she thinks Puss is a better name. I have given the two big kids chores to do to clean up after each meal and she is very, very helpful. More than I thought she'd be actually.

suffered at the hands of me trying to cut his hair this week and the clippers dying. Not a pretty sight. He doesn't seem bothered by it though. He is SUPER thrilled to be getting a cat. I think he has the same affinity with animals that I had when I was little so I am really glad to be getting a cat for his sake. He helped Daddy unload dirt with his little wheel barrow yesterday and it was very cute!

also became a victim of Mummy-is-too-cheep-to-pay-for-someone-to-cut-my-hair! He has been quite a handful lately as he cuts 4 teeth at once (eye teeth in there too). Grumpy, surly, stubborn. He can still switch it on though and that belly laugh is one of my all time favourite things!

love playing "This Little Pig"! I give her a full body massage before and after her bath and when I do her fingers and feet, I say the rhyme. The minute I grab a toe and say "this little pig..." her eyes light up and she smiles. The look on her face is like she is saying "oh, she is going to say it!! It's coming!! She is going to do it!! Here it comes!! OOOOHHHH YAYYYYYY!!!! She went WEWEWWEEEEE!!!!!" and she chuckles. It is priceless.

The House:
is rodent infested. They are running everywhere over everything. They come out and wander around the house in the evenings as we sit and watch TV or talk. Because I have no kitchen cupboards, they run through them at will meaning our most used dishes stay in the dishwasher until used and everything else has to be re-washed before use. Thankfully, all our packet food etc is in the pantry cupboard, our one mouse proof place in the house. Counting the days until our cat comes home!

The Garden:
Beloved got me dirt for my birthday! We have made a couple of garden beds and I am in the process of moving everything I want to keep out of the front garden, into the new garden beds. The front will be covered with THICK newspaper and have new dirt put down in an effort to get rid of the Oxalis and cooch grass.

In Other News:
Our very good friends had a baby the other day, their third. A girl named Chloe Jasmine, 10lb 10oz. No, it wasn't ME who jumped up and down and yelled "DOH!" because theirs was bigger than ours. It wasn't me who demanded that Beloved get started on a new baby NOW so that I can beat that. I am not competitive at all. No. Not me. Never. OK, a bit.


Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm getting soft

I was going to post about the kids today but it is going to have to wait. I popped over to visit Sarah's Covenant Homes today and watched the slide show that she just posted. And I bawled like a baby. Haven't cried like that for I don't know how long.

I'm getting soft.

Let me put it in context. This week in my Bible time I've been studying HOPE. Our HOPE. I was reading 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 where it talks about how this body here and now is just a seed. I saw these children whose bodies and minds are broken, and looked in their eyes and their smiles. For a moment it was like reading a seed packet, looking at the picture on the front and imagining spring! Through the ministry of the homes, this life is made much better for these children, but this life is just a glimpse. What is in store for these kids is what is REALLY important. And that is what made me weep, for the tragedy of it, for the joy of it.

I'm getting soft.

Growing up, I prided myself on NOT being soft. Seemingly surrounded by victims of abuse, I was determined not to allow myself to be in a position to be hurt or abused in any way. So even with those I loved best, there has always been a distance. You can love me, touch me, be with me, know me, affect me THIS much and no more. A safety margin I always maintained, even in my most intimate relationships. But over the past few years, this has started to change. Through events, circumstance and slow moving of the Holy Spirit on my heart, God has been slowly changing me. Prying my stiff fingers from the safety rail that I had constructed for myself - that safety rail attached only to air. He is changing me.

I'm getting soft.

It is a rush this new life that I am just beginning. It is like base jumping. Everything in me screams at me that I am going to splatter into a million pieces when I hit the bottom. My warning bells clamor in my ears, sirens try and alert me, "DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!". But through it all, the still small voice that I am getting to know so well whispers "I am your parachute. Enjoy the view, let me take care of the landing."

I'm getting soft.

I can't help but wonder, is this what James was talking about when he said that pure religion was to keep oneself from being "polluted by the world" James 1:27? I refuse you world. I refuse to let you pollute me. I refuse to let the wounds you dealt me go septic and stop me from caring. I refuse to allow the pollution in others to stop me from caring about them. I refuse to recoil from the pain, sadness, needs, sickness, damage and disease in the hearts, minds and bodies of others. Especially those who love me most. And those who need me most. I refuse to be infected, stained, spattered by the filth and fear of this world by allowing it to make me too scared to love.

like I said,

I'm getting soft.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A day at our homeschool....

It made me chuckle!

Another one for Poetry month!

“Mike Teavee…”

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set –
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink –
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

Roald Dahl

It's moments like these....

Do you know what my oldest son did today?

My gentle, lovely, peaceful Billy?

The one who is bullied and bitten by his younger brother sometimes?

The one who wouldn't hurt a fly, or if he did he'd be really really sorry and probably cry?

He threw his teddy bear AT MY HEAD!

Do you know why?

Because I told him to put the bear away for songs and prayers.

When I stopped seeing red and took appropriate disciplinary action and was again able to remember all the parenting proverbs that I know (don't take misbehavior personally, discipline is about THEM not YOU, think of it as a training opportunity!) I realised, this is why the Lord woke me up at 5am this morning for a little extra prayer time, He knew I'd need it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

How I plan to teach art to my kids:

Study one artist, period, culture, media or movement per term in three stages over twelve weeks, one hour per week.

Before the study starts:

collect books, websites etc. about the study subject. Collect the art consumables.

Consume & Copy –

Week one and two –View works of art relevant to the study and sketch one per week in art journal. Use the internet, books, prints, actual works etc. Read about the study subject (i.e. artist biographies, books about the historical or cultural context) and discuss subject with others. If you chose a subject that connects in with your other schoolwork (i.e. study Da Vinci when you are studying Renaissance) you can kill two birds with one stone! Continue reading and discussion throughout study.

Week three and four – make an “other media” copy of a favorite work (i.e. paint a copy of Van Gough’s Sunflowers on canvas, make a copy of a Turkish mosaic with cut out paper)

Compare & Contrast –

Week five and six– Compare two works within the study (e.g. Van Gough’s Sunflowers with his self portrait or a Turkish mosaic with a mosaic from the Taj Mahal). Paste printed out pictures from the internet etc in your art journal and write things that are the same and things that are different. Pay attention to lines, colour, subject matter, media, where things are placed (on the canvas, in the photo etc.). Write which you prefer and why.

Week seven and eight– compare one work from within the study with one that is not in the study but that uses similar topics or media or is from the same time period (e.g. Van Gough’s Sunflowers with a modern painting of sunflowers, DaVinci’s Last Supper with Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel). Paste printed out pictures from the internet etc in your art journal and write things that are the same and things that are different. Pay attention to lines, colour, subject matter, media, where things are placed (on the canvas, in the photo etc.). Write which you prefer and why.

Compose and exhibit–

Plan and create an artwork using a media or style or subject learned about. For example, paint an original canvass painting of a sunflower or create a mosaic using small tiles or photograph people posed in a Bible story scene. This is done over four weeks for a reason! An artist doesn't compose a work in an hour and then call it finished! Plan in the first week (sketch onto canvass, draw a plan etc) then do over the next week(s). If it doesn't work, there is time to do over the next week. If you are all finished early you can invite someone around the next week to show them the artistic creation! If you aren't, just put it on display in the home.

Suggested 6 year cycle for non/early readers

Year One - Ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Roman

Year Two - Monastery calligraphy and iconography, Islamic art (Turkey, northern Africa), mosaics

Year Three - Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Japanese Art

Year Four - Spanish art, Monet, Van Gough

Year Five - local art galleries, photography, Picasso

Year Six - Aboriginal Art, Australian Colonial Art, Australian Iconography

This is all rough and elastic and is built to go with our lifestyle and planned history studies etc. Just thought I'd share!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

If Christopher had been Bolivian....

....This is what he would have looked like!!

My son has a twin in a Bolivian orphanage! Go and have a look, the similarity is uncanny! (Christopher needs a haircut too)

and please pop over to the Lockwood Family's blog and pray for them if you have a moment.

In honour of Poetry Month

How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don't even notice,
close this manual.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Upside down

It is one time of year when I honestly feel a little bit upside down!

Here we are with the day's shortening, the leaves turning. Migratory birds have headed North for the winter, we lit the fire for the first time the other day and a light dusting of snow coated the mountains for the first time this Autumn.

The world is going to sleep.

And in the middle of it there are eggs, chicks, bunnies - symbols of new life! Riots of colour in shop displays, easter bonnet parades, chocolate coated smiles - ACTION and JOY amidst this time of rest, dormancy and quiet.

Topsy turvey, this feast day, a relic of ancestor immigrants longing for lands I have never been to.

It is upside down for this Land Down Under.

In this world, this dying world, this hurting world, this sad world, we gather together each week in churches to celebrate. To celebrate Joy. To celebrate Hope. To celebrate New Life! In the middle of death and decay we celebrate life.

Topsy turvy, upside down, longing for a land I have not yet been to.

Perhaps here in my country, this wide brown land that is tucking itself in for a winter sleep, perhaps we have it more right that it first appears?

"All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth." Heb 11:13

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Can't have just one...

Billy: Mummy, Jesus is going to put twins in your tummy.

Me: Is he?

Billy: Yeah

Me: Well, we will see what Jesus gives us.

Billy: I LOVE twins. One for me (pointing to self) and one for you (pointing to Erin) [pause]
Oh and one for you 'istafa (Christopher) and one for you too Mummy.

Me: But twins are when two babies grow in a mummy's tummy, you said four babies, that's quads.

Billy: I want FIVE babies, no, TWENTY babies!!

Me (an itty bit stressed at the idea): But twenty babies won't fit in a mummy's tummy!

Billy: Well, you will just have to stack them up into your HEAD! Then you can push them out and I will take care of them!

If I have twenty babies at once, I AM having a tummy tuck afterward, no negotiations on that one.

Monday, April 06, 2009

a confession

Erin doesn't speak English.

Well, that's not true, she CAN speak English, and occasionally she does, but most of the time she speaks 'Straine.

If you have never heard 'Straine, go and get a DVD of that '80's classic "Crocodile Dundee" ("That's not a noif, THIS is a noif!") or think back to the adds of the same era where Paul Hogan urged Americans to come visit because he'd "Poot anava shrimp on the baaarbie".

For a more contemporary example there's the movie "The Castle" or Steve Irwin - Crocodile Hunter.

Need I say more?

Now my own accent is a little more Olivia Newton John than Croc Hunter, unless I am mucking about and then I can be as ocker as the next fella (too roit mate!) and it seems my little princess picked up this element of my speach.

So my little girl,

the girl that gets stopped in the street at least half a dozen times by total strangers who want to tell her how pretty she is,

the little girl who could describe basic anatomy at high school level before her second birthday,

talks like a sun bronzed bloke who wrestles crocs for a living.

My inner snob cringes often when she gets particularly ocker and I try to correct her. She repeats the sentence in a beautiful, refined accent that makes me want to put on afternoon high tea that minute. Then, moments later, the accent is back so broad that I expect her to dash about with live snakes shouting "What a little bewdy! Crikey! Too roit mate! Poot another shrimp on the baaarbie!"


Where did I go wrong?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Consequences

*DISCLAIMER* I don't think I have all the answers here. I am writing mainly to myself as I have mucked this up on MANY occasions. Through the grace of God I am improving in my parenting and if what I write encourages others that's great, but please don't feel discouraged. I truly believe that single events in parenting are not what matters, it is what CHARACTERISES our parenting that matters. Parenting on our knees through is Grace the only way to do it.

I believe the best teacher of children is consequences. Unfortunately, many children in our society (including my own at times!) are shielded from the consequences of their actions. Why? Sometimes because it is easier for the adult in charge, sometimes because it makes us (the adults in charge) feel good, sometimes we make excuses for bad behaviour, and sometimes it is because we are overprotective.

Example A:

It has been a long day. You were kept up the night before by the baby. Your to-do list is actually longer than when you started the day and the ta-da list is WOEFULLY short. You have visitors coming for dinner (to eat dinner with you, if they were on the menu it'd be easier 'cause then you wouldn't have to cook, just had to clarify there) and your Dearly Beloved is in danger of becoming Dearly Beheaded because he is LATE and didn't call. And the kids start acting up. "Muuuuuuuum, he hit me" "WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAIIIIIILLLLL, she HIT me!" the toddler is climbing onto the dining table and rearranging your efforts and the baby needs feeding. Don't bother how I know how a mother feels at this point, I just do. What do we do? Guess what kids DVD time! We don't address the issues of climbing on the table, we don't address how we deal with conflict, we don't apply the set consequences of these trespasses, we whack on a DVD and tell them to park it. Again, don't ask me how I know this is what we do, I just DO OK?

Think Long Term:

what messages is this sending?

It is OK to break the rules if authority is busy elsewhere.

The adult equivalent? Police are too busy trying to catch axe murderers to worry about me fudging on a legal document so that so-and-so takes the license points for my speeding ticket (this is true in Australia, unless you are a retired judge it seems). My boss is too busy worrying about deadlines to even notice that I have Internet porn open on my computer during my lunch hour. "The Lord does not see as man sees. Man looks to the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart". We cannot afford to be too busy for our children, not if their eternal welfare is at stake.

What message does it send if our kids are thinking "My Mum is more worried about getting dinner together than disciplining me."? It is better for you to NEVER entertain and feed your family only on breakfast cereal and parent your children than to have a sumptuous feast laid out nightly with kids left to go feral. I hope my kids think "hey, her world stops for me* if I am doing the wrong thing, and she kinda makes my world uncomfortable. I think I better shape up because this seems pretty important"

* perhaps you may want to make sure that when they are doing the wrong thing isn't the ONLY time your world stops for them, but that's a whole other post.

Example B:

You have told her that if toys are left out at bed time they will go in the black box, if they don't fit in the black box they go to charity. The magna-doodle that you bought her for Christmas is on the floor. The black box is full. There is no way the thing will fit in, none. She has happily played with the thing for two months on a daily basis and YOU love it. Big brown cocker spaniel eyes tear up as you look at them. She knows what you said, she KNOWS the consequences, she knows that you know that she knows. It would feel really good just about now to put it down, walk out saying "oh, I will just do such and such and THEN it will be bed time, you may want to put that away while I am busy" but you both know this would be dodging the consequence. Getting rid of the happy meal toys and the loud, battery operated contraption from great aunt Maud was so easy, this ISN'T.

Think Long Term:

It may give an emotional fuzzy right now to dodge this, but it undermines the lesson you are trying to teach and your integrity as a teacher. Even if it was put away for three months and then brought it out, it still completely undermines the stated consequences. I know, Mum tried that one on me and I don't think I ever cleaned my room again after that (sorry Mum!). We need to realise that we are not disciplining to make life easier for ourselves. It is not about us, it is about the kid.

To avoid consequences to make a child "happy" sends the message "don't worry, I was being too harsh. You can't possibly be expected to live up to those expectations. I'd rather you be happy than obedient". The maximum most children will achieve while they are still children (and some, even when they grow up) is what you will expect of them. We need to be their cheer leaders. "Oh well, you didn't do it this time but hey! I bet you learned that lesson real well huh? I reckon you are NEVER going to leave toys out again and you will grow up to be SUCH a good steward!!". I believe in you. I believe you can do better. I am going to help you do better. I am going to work with you to make sure you do better. I will love you when you fail, I will love you enough to help you up to try again. This is the core of true Christian exhortation. We owe it to our kids to give it to them.

(by the way, I did get rid of the magna-doodle. It hurt, I loved that magna-doodle)

Example C:

It is late and you are out with the whole family at some special event. Your kid walks up, clearly exhausted and demands a drink. You remind the child to use manners. Child explodes into a tantrum of napalm proportions. You smile (not because you're happy, because you are wishing the floor would swallow you, sort of like a chimp with the defensive grin) and say "oh, he's tired" and give him a drink.

Think Long Term:

The message you are sending is obedience/doing the right thing is something we are exempt from if we have a good enough reason. Sort of like the woman with PMS who goes ballistic at her husband, shreds him verbally for being lazy and not mowing the lawn on the weekend then bursts into tears and expects him to comfort her. After all, she has PMS and he SHOULD mow the lawn. Sort of like the man who has a really rough day at work, comes home to a wife with who verbally shreds him for not mowing the lawns and breaks her nose. After all, he had a hard day and she was really horrible to him. Yes, I really do think how we discipline a child is bending the twig in the way the tree should grow. When they are adults, they will be responsible for their own choices and we have a RESPONSIBILITY to equip them for that world. A world where we can choose to be pleasant, even when we feel bad. Where people are mean, stuff goes wrong, we get sick, tired and sad. A world where we can choose how we act, no matter how we feel. A world with eternal consequences to immediate acts.

If your kid is tired, put them to bed. If you can't, put them on your lap. If that is too loud and is disturbing those around you, take it outside. But consequences must happen. It is not merciful to give into a child, it is mercy to be loving enough to gently teach them.

Example D:

Your child comes in forlorn. "They won't play with me". Indignant we rush to their aid. We call the other children in and give them a long lecture about being nice to others and insist that they let the "injured party" play. You turn them out into the back yard where the other children reluctantly and with bad grace include the child. The child who they had formerly excluded from their games because that child was bullying them and stealing their toys.

Think Long Term:

Children kind of operate by the laws of the jungle. If Mum swoops in to make life nice and protect them all the time, they do miss out on some vital lessons. I have my suspicions that a young fella at the pub or nightclub who gets his teeth pushed in when he mouths off, probably would have avoided that had he been allowed to experience a little playground justice growing up. I do not condone bullying under any circumstances (one among my many reasons for homeschooling) and there are times that we need to intervene, but not all the time. If a kid comes in complaining that others won't play with them, try "oh, that's no good. Do you think there may be a reason why they won't play with you?" Or even "Oh, that sucks. I sure wouldn't feel good if that were happening to me." and just leave it hanging. Let the kid work think it through for themselves. They are smarter than we give them credit for!

Another time mothers can be guilty of the swoop in, is when someone else (even dads) discipline and we see them as being too harsh. We want to protect our babies, it is only natural. But a child is more likely to be hurt by you being a mediator than if you just step back and let them work it out themselves. If you constantly act as mediator between your child and others they are supposed to relate to, you are stifling their development of interpersonal skills - in other words their ability to get along with others. Instances of abuse ARE an exception to this of course. I know once or twice I have had the urge to jump in the middle when Beloved was being "too harsh" in my eyes, then after sitting back I realised I would have done exactly the same thing in his shoes - perhaps been even harsher - but it just looked different from the "outside" so to speak. There's a great post that touches on this issue over at Femina called Smother Love.

I want to say again, I get this wrong. I hope that Grace can cover this and that my parenting isn't characterised by poor choices. I believe that discipline needs to be balanced with kindness, love and compassion, but it is neither kind, loving nor compassionate to veto consequences.

Set consequences knowing that you will probably have to enforce them one day. Set them lovingly and prayerfully. Then uphold them. While our Lord is a loving and merciful God, He is also Just. The only reason we dodge that awful consequence of death is through His sacrifice. The consequence was still borne. Uphold the small consequences for your children and introduce them to the One who bore the largest consequence of all. This is our responsibility as parents.

The Hummus Dance

What does it say about me when my two year old retreats to his father for some quiet cuddle time because I am being "too noisy and silly"?

Apparently Billy didn't enjoy the Hummus dance I was doing while I made lunch.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Reprinted from a post I made on the discussion boards in honour of poetry month.

I love poetry and always have. I read and write it myself and I want to pass that on to my kids.

The only 'formal' things we do is our 'refined afternoon tea' on Wednesday afternoon. It is the only time we have afternoon tea and we have something special to eat and cups of peppermint tea with honey at the table with a table cloth and POETRY. I have several books of it and we will each take it in turns selecting a poem - even Christopher. At first they selected the illustrations that interested them (being non-readers) but now, after doing this for over a year, the older two are starting to ask for some of the poems by name.

Nonsense verse and nursery rhymes are a large part of our poetry reading and sometimes the 'refined' nature of our afternoon teas go out the window with toilet training accidents, upturned tea cups and detours into "manners training" and sometimes we just take a quilt outside and make it a picnic. What I want to pass on in this session is a love for the art of putting words together. Nursery rhymes are the river stones of our language, smoothed and refined in the mouths of generation after generation. Nonsense verse makes us laugh and evokes vivid imagery. My own favourites make appearances even though they are "above" the children's understanding, but the sensation of the words still speaks to all of us. Each afternoon tea starts with a special grace where we thank God for beautiful things and beautiful words and pray that all beauty will point us toward Him.

If my children love poetry, they will want to do the work later on to understand it, both the words and the historical context.

If you can read and write poetry effectively, you can read and write anything. And reading and writing is all about communication. And communication is all about reaching the hearts of another. That is why I love poetry!

Check out more stuff on poetry and homeschooling at Aussie Homeschool

Thursday, April 02, 2009

a favourite poem

perfect for those refined afternoon poetry readings that all us homeschool mums do.

Ode to a fish

O wet pet


made me giggle anyway :P

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Our new favourite game

Our nature walk is where the bulk of our "science" happens. I have an altered game of eye spy that we play. I call it "Can you see...." It is a great game to get everyone involved at their own levels. When it is Erin's turn I will ask:

Can you see....a mammal? With four legs? Eating grass?

and I will continue with the clues until she gets to the animal/plant/object I am thinking of.

For Billy the clues are simpler but the concept is still the same.

This game teaches close observation skills, language skills and categorisation, all vital skills for budding scientists! They also ask me which can get REALLY tricky!

Best of all, it is fun. I have a new schooling motto: If it hasn't made you laugh, cry or go wow you probably haven't learned it!