Friday, September 30, 2011

God Rock

There is a new favourite CD in our car - God Rock - the new offering from Colin Buchanan.

We are big fans of Colin in this house - I think he is brilliant, the lyrics teach wonderful truths about God and the music is catchy and fun.

I think as Colin's kids get older, his music does also - and this one my son particularly loves.

There are songs themed around skateboarding, bike riding and big cars. 'Survival Man' pokes gentle fun at Bear Grylls, while reminding us that the battle is really man vs. death and God vs. sin. 'Super Chef' has a passing go at the Masterchef obsession, telling us that what we really need is the gospel recipe.

Our family favourite however is 'God United' which sounds like a soccer team song (or I suspect - am I allowed to say this? - a drinking song). It's so fun and catchy, we all sing it as loud as possible.

Sadly I couldn't find a link where you could listen to any of the songs. But if you have kids (age 4-10 and maybe older, and especially boys), they will love this.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Local wildlife

When I was a kid living in the USA, locals used to think that in Australia kangaroos hopped down all the streets and koalas lived in our backyards.

If we felt like pretending, we would encourage it: "we saw them all the time" we would say. Of course such an occurrence in our part of suburban Sydney was about as likely as an armadillo on the streets of Houston or an alligator near our house in New Orleans.

I say this to express how Adelaide still amazes me sometimes. No kangaroos down the streets, I will admit - but lots of local koalas.

As I came home on Sunday morning from a run, past the bus stop - who should be walking up the stairs but this guy?

He was stymied by the fence for a while, unsure of which way to go. For a moment I thought I might have to play a role in a koala relocation program (we were right next to a major road). But, he squeezed himself* through the bottom of the fence, a rather tight fit.

Then on to the nearest tree. And up it with speed.

We have seen koalas along the river, koalas on bushwalks, and the kids often see them at school. Never have I seen so many koalas in the wild until we moved to Adelaide.

It delighted me that I was the only person who saw him. Just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

It delighted me even more that it was the first time I have ever borrowed Husband's iPhone for a run and therefore had a camera on hand!

* Of course, I have no way of knowing whether 'he' was in fact a 'he', not being a qualified koala spotter, or vet, or zoologist.

Monday, September 26, 2011

To a better place...

The great chicken experiment has come to an end.

Almost a year to the day, we have drawn the curtains, end of the show, no more chickens here.

They truly have gone to a better place. Not a chicken pie factory. But rather a 1 acre property in the hills, where they can happily make friends with 3 other chooks in a lovely large pen, and free range to their hearts' content.

What have I learnt from the chicken experiment?
  • if they get out (and one was truly an excellent escape artist), they will always destroy the one part of the garden you are trying to preserve
  • they are very messy, being birds and all that
  • they make a lot of noise, in the hope of getting either company or food.
  • the eggs were lovely
  • the major lesson: in a marriage, if one partner really and truly does not want something, and has expressed it, it is wise for the other partner (ie. me in this scenario), to listen and respect said opinion.
Hence, for family harmony and my own sanity, the chickens have gone.

Now I await the areas newly renovated transformation into a veggie patch.

I will miss the eggs though. We had our final weekly scrambled eggs for Sunday night dinner last night, using 10 eggs. Unlikely to happen as a weekly occurrence any more - can't imagine I'll actually buy 21 eggs per week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mr Rosenblum's List

Mr Rosenblum's List, Natasha Solomons

I grabbed this off Mum's shelf last time I was in Sydney - she's always a source of great books.

It's the story of Jack and Sadie Rosenblum, Jewish German immigrants to England before WWII. Jack decides to assimilate to the British life totally and completely, working from a list of all the dos and don'ts of a proper Englishman.

It was a nice little book. Very easy to read. Good holiday choice.

I have decided though that I really prefer long books; really long books; or even those that are part of a series of many long books. Once I like a character and a story, I want to keep reading about them. I think this is why I am often frustrated with average length novels - they just don't contain enough details. Any suggestions from other readers of sagas out there?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I went in another fun run on Sunday.

The City-Bay again, although unlike last year's 6km, this time I attempted the 12kms. 

It was really hard.  

I don't really know why - I can run that distance, I have done it before.  But the rush of the day, all the people, the heat - who knows - I found it hard to run, hard to keep running and extremely hard not to stop.  My body has been sore for days.

Ah well, good to be humbled yet again.

(My offical time was 81:18, I had been hoping to beat 78, with a back up of 80 mins - oh well!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What a team!

On Saturday night we had a lovely dinner with all the preachers & wives across our church network.  There would have been 26 altogether if everyone had come - even with 20 it was a large group.

We are so thankful for these people we work with.   They are our family here in Adelaide.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of year again - time to pack our Operation Christmas Child boxes.

We have done it for three years in a row now, so it's officially a tradition.   We always do three, one to match each of our children.  They get to collect and shop for things that they would like, but have to learn to give it away.

Here are some tips I have gathered over the years:
  • Wrap the boxes in Christmas paper and then contact them.  The contact makes it look great, the box is sturdier and paper does not rip.  You can even contact the label on top, making sure it is very secure.   
  • Pay your donation to the box shipping cost online, before contacting your box (if possible) - then you print out individual bar-coded labels for each box to stick on the lid.  In a few months, you'll find out where your box went.
  • Take a list with you when you go shopping.  This list was prepared by a member of our church who works in the box processing centre, so she really knows what to do.
  • Remove all packaging from every item.  Including a pencil case makes this much easier - put all the pens, pencils, erasers, etc in the pencil case.  There is no rubbish collection in rural villages - imagine how much plastic rubbish you would add if you kept all the packaging on.
  • Put in a photo of yourself or your family, so the child has an idea of who gave them the gift - this makes it personal.
  • Put an elastic band around the whole box to keep it secure.
  • Drop it off to a collection centre by the end of October.  
 Here is all our stuff before it went in the boxes, with all the unnecessary packaging:


The finished products.

I have so much fun shopping for these boxes that I suspect as time goes on, we'll do more...

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Sarah Thornhill

    Sarah Thornhill, Kate Grenville

    I was delighted to discover that Kate Grenville, author of  The Secret River and The Lieutenant (both reviewed here), has just published the final in this loose trilogy, Sarah Thornhill.  

    Sarah is the daughter of William Thornhill, the main character of The Secret River.  It is set some 20 years after the events of that book, and concentrates on Sarah and her life as she changes from a girl to a young woman.  Set in early settled New South Wales, it tells the story of love found and lost, then found again; with subplots covering the tensions in race relations (black, while and Maori) and family secrets.

    Grenville has again drawn threads of her family history into the story (as she did for The Secret River), yet being told this time from a female perspective it adds another element.

    Just this week I was lucky to go to a Get Reading Night, hosted by our local library, where Kate Grenville was the speaker.  It was very good and she spoke about how the story came from her searching through the family history, which then developed into this novel.

    If you enjoy early colonial history novels or you have enjoyed Grenville's other work, you will definitely like this one.  

    I should add - "3 cheers for libraries".  I read the review of this book in the paper 2 weeks ago, saying it was about to be released.  I reserved it at the library.  Two days later I had the book in my hands.   There would have been close to 200 people at the event the other night and I was only one of a handful who had read it.   Gotta love the library!!

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Living in SA

    Readers of this blog will know that I love living in Adelaide and am very thankful we are here. 

    Just sometimes though, we are reminded of the differences between here and Sydney. 

    Like when someone (yet again) happens to mention that South Australia was settled by free settlers.  Implication: "no convict scum here". 

    It's hit home for Mr 8 of late too.  A number of people might know that there is a Rugby World Cup on at the moment.  However in Adelaide it's not big news, or even any news.

    He is very excited about the Rugby World Cup, just as excited as he was about the Soccer World Cup last year.   However, none of his friends even know what rugby union is.  This is definitely an AFL town.

    He took his rugby ball to school each day last week, hoping to convince people to play with him.

    However, he has now admitted defeat.  He still takes the rugby ball, but they play AFL with it!

    Husband & I have realised the kids are well on their way to being little South Australians though.  They sing the national anthem "Advance" (advahnce) Australia Fair,  not "Advance" (advanse - both a's the same sound) as we do.  That's what they have learnt in school assembly.

    Even we have given up and now call them commands (commahnds), and commandments (commahndments).   However, we draw the line - there are no plahnts and grahphs in this house!

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    What were you doing when?

    There are some moments in life that you will always remember where you were and what you were doing when they happened.

    Most of them are key personal moments:
    - when your husband proposed
    - when you went into labour with a child 
    - when a loved one died
    - perhaps when you got your Yr 12 exam results, or your first job

    However, some are world events.  You will all know that today is 10 years since September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers fell and the world changed. 

    I suspect everyone who was an adult that day (and many who were younger) remember where they were and what they were doing.   We were had finished a DVD, and switched to the TV, and we saw from just after the first plane crashed.  We watched the second plane crash and the first tower come down. 

    With heavy hearts, we decided not to keep watching, but to go to bed, after praying fervently to our saviour God. 

    People of a previous generation will tell you that they all can remember where they were and what they were doing the day JFK was shot, and the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.  I can clearly remember the day Diana, Princess of Wales, died.   

    What world events have been etched on your mind, so that you remember what you were doing then?

    As I have read some of the articles and tributes this week about 9/11, what has struck me is that for my children, it is already history.  It's not part of their knowledge or world.  It's in the past.  They will study it, surely, and we will tell them about it, but for them it will be 'old news'.  Like JFK was for me, or the World Wars. 

    Which world events will you tell your children about?

    Friday, September 9, 2011


    Daughters-in-Law, Joanna Trollope

    I have heard of Joanna Trollope for years, but never read any of her books. This one was a good one to start with (I think it may be her most recent). Trollope has relayed very well the challenges of relating as adults in an extended family.

    Daughters-in-Law tells of Rachel & Anthony, empty nesters with 3 adult sons, all married. Rachel has been a very involved mother, and is finding the reality of her sons' attentions and primary affections focused elsewhere hard to manage. While at times she behaves quite badly, you have sympathy for her and also for her sons and daughters-in-law as they navigate adult relationships with their parents.

    I have known some very intense mothers-in-law over the years who have really struggled to 'hand over' their sons (not mine - she's lovely!) and it seems to be a common feature that many women really do not believe any daughter-in-law can truly be good enough for their son. This book portrays that tension very well, yet also lets us see how hard it can be for a mother (especially a full-time stay at home mum) to really let go and move into a different, more 'hands-off' stage of life.

    Even though it's fiction, it might be helpful reading for some who find this mother-in-law / child-in-law relationship a little tricky - and, let's be serious - who doesn't sometimes?!

    I ended getting some more Joanna Trollope books out of the library, I'll let you know what they are like too, and I am definitely planning to get The Rector's Wife!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    The Household Guide to Dying

    The Household Guide to Dying, Debra Adelaide

    I have just finished this book, and it was wonderful.

    Not the easiest topic to read about, but a fantastic book nonetheless. Delia Bennet is a wife, mother of 2 girls and author of many Household Guides (to the Laundry, to the Kitchen). When she reaches the stage of terminal cancer, she realises that the next book she writes will be her last:
    After the second operation and the third diagnosis, as I resigned myself to the fact that the latest Household Guide I'd written would be my last... I conceived in a flash the best idea ever, I didn't have to abandon the Household Guides at all. I rang Nancy...

    Think of the title, I said. How catchy does The Household Guide to Dying sound?
    The novel runs two concurrent stories - one the final months of Delia's life in her home with her family as she writes her book and prepares for death; and the other as she travels to far North Queensland to farewell a previous life and tragedy that met her there.

    A warning to anyone currently grieving a loved one, or facing death or cancer themselves - it may be just too confronting.

    However, I have to say I loved the writing, the story was intriguing, and it really was an excellent read.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Catechism update

    A month ago I shared some catechisms that we were considering using as a family. We were starting to teach them to the children and so I had adapted some simplified versions for children.

    One month in and I have made some changes, so I thought I'd tell you about them as some readers were interested in the catechism idea also.

    1. We have started working through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, by Starr Meade (mentioned previously). She has created a set of weekly devotions around each question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English.

    We read it with Mr 8 and Miss 6 at the end of the day, and we are all enjoying it and learning lots. Each daily reading takes 5-10 mins to read and talk about, so it's very manageable.

    To go alongside it, I have produced a document of just the questions and answers as she has them (in modern English), which is quite manageable. Mr 8's goal is to learn them as we go through - at the rate of 1 per week, he should be fine.

    2. I realised my previous Family Catechism with all it's 146 questions was way too complicated for younger ones. Not only that it had some emphases I wasn't happy with. Maybe I am more Anglican than I thought!?

    As we are going to work through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds with them all once they can handle it, they didn't need to get into all the details of the commandments, etc, at this stage.

    However, I still like the idea and having started to learn some of it, I realised what they were capable of when the language was simpler and more familiar.

    So in a burst of energy I have created a Simple Family Catechism. It is only 60 questions, and I think it represents some of the main things I want the kids to learn at this stage, keeping the general format of the Shorter Catechism as the guide.

    I would love to know what you think of it.