Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Playing percentages...

Further to my previous post, I fell for one of the classic blunders of all time.

The first, as we know, is never get involved in a land war in asia.  The second, of course, is never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line*.

Somewhat further down the list is the blunder of not sanity checking your numbers.

Let's look at it quickly.  You do the survey, the results come up, and you read "like 2% of the population..." and immediately think "wow, only 2 percent, that's not much, I must be really unique."  However, in the case of this particular personality test, there are 16 possible outcomes.  If the population was evenly distributed over all types, you would only have 6.25% in each type.  Hmmm... So the outcome is that yes, at 2% of the population INTJs are less prevalent than other types, but not by an order of magnitude; only by 5 dB**.

*If neither of those make any sense to you, do yourself a favour: go find a copy of "The Princess Bride" starring Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, and watch it over the holidays.

**dB is a logarithmic scale, 3 dB difference is double, 10 dB difference is x10, an order of magnitude.  It's a microwave nerd thing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Preaching personalities

Simone has been doing a series recently on how your personality affects your preaching style.  Having done a few sermons this year, naturally I was curious to find out what type I am.

Turns out that like a whopping 2% of the population, including such real and ficticious luminaries as Vladimir Putin, Augustus Caesar, Gen Colin Powell, Hannibal (both, the guy with the elephants and the guy with the chianti), Jefferson, JFK, Walter White (from Breaking Bad), Gandalf and Moriaty, I'm an INTJ.... looking at that list again, it does help explain why world domination is a recurring theme for me...

I don't know how accurate this description is, but I certainly see bits of me in it: bookworm, engineering career, various other traits that might be strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation.

Unfortunately, it's also not on the list of personality types that Simone's looked at yet.  Oh well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When life with littlies is hard...

We're in a rough spot at the moment. The kids have been sick & not sleeping well for weeks, I've got a typical case of pregnancy exhaustion, Dave's been away more than usual, the Christmas craziness creeps every closer, etc etc etc.

So this post from Femina is a balm to my weary soul. 

One of my favourite sounds

Our beautiful kids singing together. Keep listening for F at the end.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seems it was inevitable

I had a feeling I would walk out of the Kindy AGM with a job for next year. 

At least I'm not on the executive committee. 

Just Social Rep for SP's room. Surely I can do that. 

It's interesting to reflect on the 'meeting skills' that church membership provides. Although I have very little to base this on, I would guess that a good number of people in that room had never been to an AGM before, and the idea of moving or seconding a motion was obviously foreign or scary. I was the only person not on last year's committee that was willing to do it. Thank you Pressie church for exposing me to many such situations. 

Now, what does a Social Rep do? Ideas, please :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Living in the Digital Age (writing prompt)

Two years ago, I lay in a hospital room. The wonders of the digital age revealed a desperately ill unborn baby. 

The doctors said they had some things they could try. 

A few life-changing weeks later, the same ultrasound machine showed a very different picture. Today, we have a healthy, happy 22 month old daughter. I am still in awe. 

For us, technology worked wonders. And yet, others are grieving for their children, whom modern medicine could not help. Death comes to all of us, eventually. Sometimes technology delays it. Sometimes not. 

If we had lived in the pre-digital age, could God have saved our girl? Could he have miraculously healed her without medical intervention? Without our even knowing there was a problem? Of course He could. God is God, and He can do anything. 

Would He have? I don't know. 

This post is part of Meredith's 'Prompted to Write' event. Click on over in a few days to read the responses of others. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Easy Teddy Bear Ears

The theme for the kids' music concert this year is Teddy Bears Picnic. Our kids are each going dressed as their favourite teddy bear. So this afternoon I made 'Mike' ears for SP. And it was so, so easy. 

Take a piece of thick paper or thin cardboard. Draw curve for ear. I traced Mike's. (yes, as you can tell by the floor, the children were crafting too)

Fold paper an inch below the bottom of your ear outline & cut out to make a too-long oval. Then do another one for the other ear. (Trust me, it will make sense in a minute.)

Fold the paper where you want the base of the end to be, then fold the gap in the middle into 4 equal parts.

Then bring them together to look like this:

The ribbon headband will go through this gap, and the top of the T shape will sit flat against the child's head so the ear stands up straight.

Decorate the ears however you wish. I got this yarn from Spotlight for 99c. We'll also be sticking it on a t-shirt to make it fluffy & Mike-like. (any suggestions on how I should do this, please comment!)

I'm sure you won't use your finger to spread the glue over the cardboard because the glue spout is broken and you don't want to disturb the busy children round your feet by getting up for a paint brush.

Tie a piece of wool/ribbon/whatever around child's head. It's like a halo, but crossing the top of the head instead of near the forehead.

Once the decorated ears are dry (the waiting was the hardest bit for us), wrap them around the ribbon, position them on the child then glue them in place.

I used pegs to make sure the cardboard held it's T shape so the ears won't slide around on the yarn.

Once dry, wear. Or in my case, make your child wear them for the photo, then hide them away so they don't get wrecked before the concert.

Ta da! One set of teddy bear ears, ready to go :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Due mid-June. All good so far. Yay :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Learning from others...

Sometimes I'm away for work over a weekend, which among other things gives me the opportunity to see how other people do church.  It's a really interesting thing to do, especially in America.  I've been to some places that are quite large, others that are quite small, some that are very traditional in everything, some that are less so.

On a couple of occasions I've had the chance to visit Capitol Hill Baptist Church for their Sunday morning service.  You might have seen Mark Dever, their senior pastor, at ministry/preaching seminars here from time to time, and I think he's endorsed a few Matthias Media books over the years too, as well as writing his own.

They start things off with what they call "Core Seminars".  Think of it like a workshop, or a topical Bible Study group.  There are around half a dozen to choose from, each of which would have between 8 and 30 people attending.  Topics covered include Biblical Theology, marriage, guidance, New Testament, apologetics, church membership, things like that. 

Core Seminars run for almost an hour, then church starts. It's a full on experience, starting with a few songs, then times of prayer and Bible reading before the sermon starts.  Most churches I know of target a 15 minute sermon, but CHBC sermons go for more like 45 minutes.  It's not easy to concentrate for that long when you're jet lagged.

But getting back to the topic of the post, what have I learned from these visits?

1. Welcoming.  The way a visitor is welcomed sets the tone for the whole morning.  When there's a culture of anyone coming up and welcoming you (even with sometimes silly questions like "oh, you're from Brisbane, do you know so-and-so?"), it has a big impact.

2. Music.  Doesn't need to be big.  My observation here is that CHBC have thought this out quite carefully.  Instruments are just a piano and acoustic guitar.  But they have three or four singers (the guitarist is also one of the singers, and the main coordinator I think) to make sure that there's a voice and a face in every direction in the hall.  They choose songs to suit the sermon each week, and aren't constrained by era, source, or familiarity.  I've sung very old hymns there, familiar modern songs, and unfamiliar hymns and songs too.  In fact one chap I was speaking to said that it wasn't unusual for him not to know all the hymns, even though he could clearly sing with gusto when he did know the song.  They quite like going acapella for the last verse, which I think can be overdone, but at the same time there's a definite lift in the voices as they do it.  And I think acapella can be very useful for drawing attention to lyrics.

3. Communion.  I haven't been there for a communion service, but I love the way they prepare for it.  They do it in the evening service on the first Sunday of each month.  The morning of, and the week before, they explicitly remind the congregation that communion is coming, and encourage everyone to prepare themselves for taking the Lord's Supper.  No doubt in my mind, when people listen and respond to that sort of encouragement, spiritual growth will follow.

4. Diversity and humility.  CHBC is near the US Capitol obviously.  It's a well-to-do area, and the congregation includes lots of congressional staffers, senate staffers, lawyers, and wider government and military personnel at all levels.  But I haven't seen any signs of one-upmanship or people trying to big-note themselves.  Some come in suits, some come in jeans and t-shirts.  There's no pressure to conform - if a particular song or prayer leads people to raise hands, fine - they don't force everyone to do it, nor do they force people to keep their hands down.  During one hymn, an older lady in the back pulled out a tambourine and started shaking in time with the song.  Just that one, she wasn't trying to do it for everything, but it fit with that particular song.

5. Bible.  With a 45 minute exposition, the Bible is undeniably at the centre of their time together each week.

I'm sure CHBC have their flaws - every church does, because they're made up of sinful human beings.  And I wouldn't necessarily want to apply all of their practices to my own church.  But I think we can learn a lot by observing how other churches do things, and be better disciples of Christ and more effective ministers for him as a result.

Everything's bigger in Texas

Or so people say anyway.

Ant it seems to be true.  The airport is massive - Brisbane has the Airtrain between terminals, but Dallas-Fort Worth has 5 terminals, space for at least one more, and a bunch of remotely-driven trains for shuttling from one to the next.  The highways are enormous - easily on par with Los Angeles.  The "trucks" (utes in regular Aussie English) all need running boards to get up to the seat.  And there are huge churches everywhere.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I just finished a run of four consecutive sermons on Sunday - the longest series I've done since before I was married.  It was only supposed to be three on the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, but roster changes due to illness meant I had to do another one immediately beforehand.

Long story short, it went well.  I really enjoyed digging into the book.  If you haven't read it, it's got little gem phrases like "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea" (anyone else remember the old RCH hymn?), and "the righteous shall live by faith".  The one sentence summary: in a messed up, complicated world, God is sovereign and we can trust Him always.

But that said, I'm glad it's over.  I wouldn't have said I was particularly stressed about it; Petrina made sure I had all the preparation time I needed, even weeks in advance. But still at Sunday lunch-time I could almost feel the stress falling away.

Looking forward to not being the one talking for the next couple of months, and to our new minister arriving in January.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Public service announcement: being sensible online

As you can see, I blog - occasionally anyway.  Which means I have an internet prescence.  But I try to be careful about what's posted online and what's kept "IRL" (In Real Life, as I believe kids these days call it).

Here's a fantastic example from Belgium of why that's a good thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7pYHN9iC9I

Monday, October 7, 2013

An observation...

... you don't remember the times you get it right, only the times you get it wrong.

A subsequent observation: I'm thankful that full time paid minsters are trained in things like pastoral care.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Still alive

Some people have noticed a lack of posts recently. 


We're still here, just doing our regular thing. 

I think I got out of the habit of blogging & haven't got back into it yet. 

No doubt the time will come again. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Christianity in Japan

Another link.

Our church supports a family ministering in Japan, so I found this article particularly fascinating. Tough gig. But what an opportunity for the gospel. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Praying for your church

We used to be in the habit of using the last couple of minutes of the drive to church, to pray for our church, the service and our parts in it. But we've recently lost the habit. 

I came across this post, '23 ways to pray for your church' this week. It uses the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation as prayer points. 

Planning to pop a copy in the glove box, and we'll aim to pray for one point on the way to church each Sunday. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


I'm loving Wendy's Prayer Project. Sometimes it's so helpful to pray someone else's well thought out words. 

Here's the start of today's: 

Lord, help me to be someone who moves towards people with the gospel.  For people around me to hear of you – people at work, school, neighbours, my family – I need to move to them and talk to them.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Moving house is done. 
Boxes are mostly unpacked, and things are feeling mostly sorted. I'm (trying to) enjoy taking my time, thinking about how to best make the house work for us. 
And SP turned 4 this week. Birthday party in the park yesterday. 

It's been a huge month. I'm feeling encouraged by the strength that God continues to give, and challenged to think about our commitments and see if there are ways we can cut back. A quiet-ish season would be a nice change. And I'll continue to work towards that, but also sit with these thoughts from Femina (that I only read today):

So here is the challenge – let’s pray that God would pour out His grace and energy on us, that He would equip us for the day that will be hard. That He will continue to push us and that we will continue to come to Him, not asking Him to stop, but asking Him for the grace to finish. We want to lean into the refining fire – because we want for all the dross to be burned out. Lean into the fire of God. Trust His purpose for you.
We want to be bought into the vision that God has for us. We want to look at our teething babies and our disobedient toddlers and our messy house and say, “Thank you God – I feel it burning, I know it is working. “

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out of the mouths of babes and infants...

Some quotes from our resident philosopher:

SP: I'd like the door put back on the cubby house [at church]

Me: No, we decided to take it off because people were being unkind to each other

SP: Why? [Do kids have any other questions?]

Me: Because we're all human beings

SP: Are girls human too?

And then at breakfast this morning, after reading about Peter denying Christ

Petrina: He [that's Peter] did the wrong thing, but Jesus forgave him.

SP: No, God forgave him, but Jesus didn't

Us: Why?

SP: Because he couldn't forgive him while he was dying [Ed. previously wrote "on the cross", Petrina reminded me what SP actually said last night]

Us: ???????? ... eventually we pointed out that Jesus forgave Peter after his resurrection, when he wasn't on the cross any more.

Any theologians care to tackle that one?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going on leave

I know it's been a bit quiet around here lately. A week ago I was feeling full-to-the-brim with commitments, then we decided to move house. So until that's over, the blog reading and writing will take a bit of a break. 

I'm looking forward to catching up with everything from the new house :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In which I quote a sports commentator

 "If you go up for enough marks, you're eventually going to win some and suddenly you'll find you've had 10 marks in the first quarter."

Hop on over to Deb's blog to find out why I love this quote, and am feeling very challenged by it. Hint: It's about evangelism. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The greatest movie ever assembled

That's right, coming in 2014, from everyone's favourite source of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene:

The Lego Movie

Petrina was skeptical when I first told her about it, but after watching the trailer, she's sold.

Now the only question is which will be the best 2014 release: The Lego Movie, or part III of The Hobbit...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Self Sufficiency II

... and my wife makes her own chocolate.

Yum!  Keep that up darling :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


SP now kisses his own bumps and scrapes. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Evangel... what?

Yes, I do know the difference between Evangelical and Evangelistic. Previous post has been corrected of error. 

If you don't know, don't worry about it :) I vividly remember being corrected about 10 years ago when all that language was brand new to me. What I wanted to convey is that SP gets that non-Christians don't get to be with God forever, so he's keen to help them know about Jesus. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Heaven and hell

We've since had lots of little conversations about people needing to trust Jesus to go to heaven etc etc etc etc. I think SP now has a pretty good grasp of it. And his evangelistic fervor has increased as a result. 

Then this comes from the back sheet of the car:

"When we're in heaven, we might go down to hell to see Goliath."

Monday, June 3, 2013

One-to-one High

I've just spent the evening with a lovely young woman from church. We don't know each other well, despite being at the same small church for 3 1/2 years. I don't seem to have the knack of turning 'how's your week been?' into a decent conversation.

But there's something powerful about opening the Bible together. Even with a random passage selection, starting the conversation with God's word leads to opening our hearts to each other. 

This is why I love one-to-one ministry. I'm sad that I've let it slip from my life the past few years, but I'm excited that it's back. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First spam comment

Not a good or useful thing, I know. But I can't help feeling that we've 'arrived'.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

We did it! Ride for Refugees Report

Collectively, our family rode about 77km today. 

That's 50km for Dave, 25km for me, and about 2km for SP. 

Dave's usual ride to work is about 13km each way, though with a lot more hills than today's course, so I'm impressed that he did the 50km as easily as he did, though he reports tiredness and soreness tonight. 

I had been planning to gently ramp up to the 25km over the last couple of months, but for a variety of reasons it didn't really happen. Most of my preparatory riding has been in 2-4km bouts with SP riding ahead of me, and the biggest solo (ie adult speed) ride I'd done was about 8km. So 25 was a big step up. I really didn't know if I'd make it, and I'm quite proud that I did. 

SP was so excited to discover a trike on the roadside yesterday (there's a real culture of 'if you don't want it anymore, leave it on the kerb' around here), and he took that along instead of his balance bike or going in the trailer. Apparently he loved it for just over 2 laps of the kids' circuit, then one of the back wheels came off. He coped admirably, still scooting it around and doing 'tricks'. 

Excellent day. I'm glad we'd planned to have a quiet afternoon, and I will be very sore tomorrow, but it's nice to accomplish something measurable. 

Bring on Ride for Refugees 2014 :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blog reading crossroads

I'm a Google Reader user. I love having lots of lovely new blog posts sitting waiting for me when I log in. But Google Reader won't exist after 1 July. 

I've been looking at this article, trying to choose a replacement. 

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's Get Moving

I was finishing up the April edition of Brisbane's Child last night, and feeling convicted about getting SP moving a bit more. We spend a fair bit of time outside, but lots of it is bike riding or play on his plastic fort, and I wondered if he was practicing all the different movements and skills that he could be. 

Then I remembered 'Let's Get Moving', a free activity pack that I'd ordered from the Dept of Sport & Recreation, when SP was way too young for it, and forgotten about. 

I pulled the book out and started having a flick through it this morning. SP saw the board game mat, and wanted to play IMMEDIATELY! 

It was raining, so we confined our play to the lounge room, and did some improvising with ribbon for a curved line to march on, and cardboard tubes and cushions for batting practice. SP had a great time and F thought the whole thing was hilarious and was pretty keen to join in, although most of the movements were beyond her. We kept things simple by just having 1 counter and taking turns to roll the die, so we did the movements together. 

They're not sending out the printed resources anymore, but the whole thing is available online at http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/community-programs/school-community/childhood-programs/preschooler.html Note that if you download the 3.4MB PDF, you'll still want to download & print the Activity Map (aka game board). 

The target age is 3-6, but with a bit of creativity, I think it could work for toddlers right up through primary. I think it's something a family of kids could do without adult help, as long as there's a reader among them. 

Highly recommended. Let's get those little bodies moving!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Meekness and Quietness of Spirit

Nancy Ann at Femina, one of my favourite 'thinking about God and motherhood' blogs, has recently published a series of blog posts summarising Matthew Henry's 'The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit', first published in 1698. Some quotes:

“Meekness is easiness for it accommodates the soul to every occurrence, and so makes a man easy to himself and to all about.” In other words, when we are meek, we do not react or get fussed up or fired up. We stay in control of ourselves and “keep possession of our souls” in the midst of unforeseen occurrences. 
“Meekness preserves the mind from being ruffled and discomposed, and the spirit from being unhinged by the vanities and vexations of this lower world.”
Meekness keeps the soul peaceful and quiet, which Henry says “puts a charming loveliness and amiableness upon the soul, which renders it acceptable to all who know what true worth and beauty is.”
“He has the sweetest and surest peace who is most master of his own passions. The comfort that a man has in governing himself is much greater than he could have in having people serve him and nations bow down to him. It is certain that the worst enemies we have, if ever they break loose and get head, are in our own bosoms.”

I'd like some of that!

You can read the series here: 

The book is now out of copyright, so I found it at the Internet Archive here. Haven't started reading it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Click one of the links under in the 'View the Book' section to the left. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Toy of the Day

The humble paddle-pop stick.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Psalm 71 update

I zipped through the first 6 or so verses of Psalm 71. I'd written my tune, and once I have that I find it pretty easy to get the words into my memory. 

Then I ran out of tune, and didn't write more. And since the tune was 'The Plan', I let the whole thing slide. 

Officially, the Psalm 71 challenge is over. But I've just picked it up again. Wisely, the ladies at Do Not Depart planned that May would be spent revising. Or still learning, as the case may be. 

June to August is going to be 'Memory Classics,' 8 most-memorised passages, like Psalm 23. I'm going to try having SP learn along too. And I'm going to try not setting the words to music, because I think that's actually been my downfall this time round.

Having the next project in sight in so helpful for getting this one finished off...

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Kids Book

I just read about this one over at Girltalk. They're doing a giveaway - can anybody think of a funny thing one of my kids has done so I can enter? Or maybe your kids are the funny ones and you'll win...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Call the Midwife clips on YouTube

Are you watching Call the Midwife? It's my one show at the moment. Love it. 

I came across this video on Facebook yesterday - Comic Relief with the cast of Call the Midwife & a cameo from Dr Who, created to raise money for Red Nose Day in the UK. Worth watching if you're a fan. 

There's also this one about using prosthetic babies - I love this behind the scenes sort of stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNe6xt3O0uI

I also discovered there's a soundtrack CD & an official companion book. I'm tempted by the CD. I've always been into soundtracks, and 50s & 60s albums are great to clean to. 

And it turns out that the book is in the library. I'll put a hold on it once the series is finished - I'd rather not be spoiled if I can help it. So perhaps I'd better stop poking around the internet...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Does God wear shoes?

Specifically, did God and Jesus wear shoes before they made the world?

We read 'The Elves and the Shoemaker' this afternoon, and SP asked at dinnertime why the people went to the shoemaker to get shoes instead of going to a shoe shop. Cue discussion about handmade local goods vs modern factories, transportation etc. 

I thought we'd covered it all pretty well. Then the above question was raised. 


I'm sure there was an easy way out that I didn't take. I headed down the 'God is a spirit' road. Way too confusing. Then he flits from shoes to clothes, and is imagining everyone in heaven running around nudie. And the usual 'I don't think the Bible tells us' wasn't cutting it. 

Soon I was getting my Bible out and flicking through Revelation. Bear in mind that this is all happening in the middle of dinner, and Dave is working lates this week. Not very conducive to theological somersaults. 

We ended up talking about white robes and crowns, but it wasn't very satisfactory for either of us. 

Help me out - what would you have said?

Reading the Bible with SOAP

No, I haven't been taking my Bible in the shower with me. But I have started using a new technique in my Bible reading times: S.O.A.P

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across it here. I don't know where it originated, and a quick google gives lots of explanations & resources. 

The basic idea is: 

S: Scripture - write it out. 
O: Observations. 
A: Applications
P: Prayer 

When I found this, I was feeling pretty uninspired in my readings, and trying something new nearly always helps with that, so I gave it a go straight away. And I'm loving it. 

I've been taking the Bible readings from church (1 Tim and Titus), dividing them into 6-7 parts, and reading one part each day in the lead up to the sermon. 

Since I'm doing my Bible readings first thing in the morning. I'm finding that the simple act of writing out the passage goes a long way towards waking me up and focusing my attention. I may be bleary eyed at the start, but by the time I've copied out a couple of sentences, my brain is much more engaged than it would be if I'd just been reading them. 

I write my observations, applications and prayers too. It keeps me focused, and at the end of my quiet time, I look at the page of notes I've written and feel like I've accomplished something. 

And there's one more thing that's been adding value to my Bible reading time: 

Our house has a lot of doorways and not so many doors, so using this little beauty (from IKEA) rather than the overhead dining room light means the children don't feel so inclined to come and join me. 

I'm still not really enjoying getting up to read the Bible, but I am enjoying being up. Praise God. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I hadn't realised how much tidier 3 1/2 year old play is, compared to younger kids. Yes, SP makes a mess, but his messes are generally in defined areas, and thus easy to clean up. And he (sometimes) helps. 

F, on the other hand, has just discovered the joy of carrying things around. So there's interesting bits and pieces spread everywhere. I had forgotten this phase, but now I remember. 

Or not

Back to The Enchanted Wood at rest time :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


SP is showing signs of moving on from his obsession with The Enchanted Wood! 

It all started when we bought him a beautiful full-colour copy for Christmas. Although he originally assumed he was too little for it (it's the first chapter book we've read him, apart from a few chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh), he fell in love very quickly and has requested it almost every rest time and bed time (and other times) ever since. We've probably read it through close to 15 times now. He's acquiesced to a few chapters of some other Enid Blytons here and there, but it's always been The Enchanted Wood at bedtime. 

Yesterday, we started reading Dick King-Smith's 'The Sheep-Pig' (aka Babe). It was deemed suitable for bedtime and rest time reading, and it's only 12 chapters, so we finished it today. This evening, I was holding my breath for The Enchanted Wood to be requested again, but no - he wanted to start the Sheep-Pig back at the beginning. 

When we're chatting about it, it's obvious that quite a lot of it has gone over his head on the first read-through. But some things go straight in and ruminate - he's been asking tonight if somebody else would be his foster-parent if his dad & I were gone and he got a bit lonely, like Fly is Babe's foster-parent. 

What books are your kids into?

God made babies just the way they need to be

A while ago I said I'd share some tidbits from the books I'm reading. Since then, I've marked many pages, but none have turned into actual blog posts. Until now. 

Here's one little gem from Dr Susan Prescott's 'The Allergy Epidemic,' which I'd recommend to anybody who has even a passing interest in allergies and their recent increase. It surprised me by its readability, which perhaps the following quote (from the middle of one of the more technical chapters) doesn't demonstrate very well. But bear with me. 

... exposure to allergens through the oral route (the gut) is more likely to induce immune tolerance... there is some evidence that immune cells in the gut are more likely to suppress allergic responses, compared with the same kinds of cells in the skin or the respiratory tract. (pg 49)

Did you catch that? I'll paraphrase:

The immune cells in our guts are better at telling the difference between things they need to react to and things they don't, than the cells in our skin or lungs are. 

Which means that the best and safest way to teach our immune systems to operate properly is to get lots of different particles in our mouths. 

So what do babies do? Put everything in their mouths. Yes, it's how they learn about objects, but now we find out it's teaching their immune systems too. 

God really has designed human beings very, very well.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oh, the debris!

I took the long weekend off. We had plenty of responsibilities at church and still had children to feed and clothe. But I let the non-essential housework slide, in favour of things like family bike rides and sitting on the couch reading a book. It was good to have a break. 

And then this morning arrived. And, predictably, the house resembled a bomb site, the regular housework was way behind, and the kids just wanted me to sit on the floor and read to them all morning. 


I considered my regular plan of action: Pick a room, and tidy it til it looks lovely. Excellent, one room down. Start on the next one. But the kids seem to realise that this process could take a while, so by this point they're usually clamouring for attention. Then I get annoyed with them for wanting me while I just want to get things done, and try to keep working. Unsurprisingly, their behaviour deteriorates, my frustration levels rise, and... you can guess what happens then. 

Today, a slightly different tack. 

I pick my first room, then set my trusty timer. Actually, it's my phone. 5 minutes. It's effective motivation - I tidy fast. The timer goes off, and things in that room are looking pretty good. The kids are happily playing, they'll do without me for another 5. Let's move on to the next room, and set the timer again. This room is BAD. My 5 minutes is over before I know it, and there's still a lot to do. But I know the perfectionist trap I'm about to get caught in, so I tell myself that I can come back later and move on.

Another 5 minutes and F is asking for a story. Having accomplished 3 rooms already, I'm fine with that. We read. And read. And SP joins the party, and we read some more. But that's ok, it was part of the plan. 

And so we continue on. There's still sibling spats, and a time-out, more mess being created in the rooms I've just done, and a moment's annoyance when it comes to morning tea time and I haven't tidied the kitchen from breakfast yet.

A little later, I glance at the clock. It's 10am. The house looks reasonable. We're sitting on the upturned coffee table sailing to the beach for a plastic bread and pizza picnic. We've enjoyed each other's company and done a reasonable job of having everybody's needs met, conflicting as they may have seemed 3 hours ago. 

Housework with little ones is a slow process, but today, I'm ok with that. 

Now to maintain that attitude for the afternoon. The floor's overdue for a vacuum, the shower's getting slimy, dinner won't cook itself... Here we go again...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sometimes dreams do come true

I've always been a bit of a dreamer. And for as long as I can remember, I grew up dreaming about what my future, and my family, would be like. 

Some of my dreams were quite sensible. (Marry a guy who goes to church. Yep, got that one.)

Others not so much. (12 children? Um, not what we're planning at this point...)

But one of the dreams that stuck in my mind as I got older was to be a family who rode bikes together. I'm not really sure where it came from, although I do have some very strong memories of riding around the park as my Dad watched, and of Mum and I riding together. But even though I didn't ride much past the age of 9, the dream persisted. 

Today, it came true. The four of us went riding together, with SP on his balance bike and F in the trailer. Three hours, three playgrounds and a whole lot of fun and relaxation together. 

Bliss. Thank you, God. 

What were your dreams for your grown-up life? Are they coming true?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ride for Refugees

You may remember Dave & SP's participation in the Ride for Refugees bike ride last September

Since then, I've got a bike and we've also got a trailer for the kids to sit in. 

Initially F wasn't too keen on the trailer, so both new acquisitions have been mostly gathering dust for a few months. Well, my bike has been gathering dust. Dave has taken SP on rides in the trailer, and he loves it. 

But on a recent retrial, F was much happier in the trailer, and we've been going on a few short rides. 

So I've set myself the challenge. Ride for Refugees here I come. 25km, in 11 weeks time. 

I'm not going to be silly about doing the whole course if it's too much - if I need to have a rest or turn around before the halfway point, I will. And I won't be pulling the trailer that day - Dave gets to pull SP & I think F will sit this one out. Dave's thinking of doing the first 25km lap with trailer, then another lap by himself, and he'll probably still finish before me ;)

It feels good to have a goal. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You'd hide in the library

After a phone call to our local library, it appears that Press Here has been returned. It must have gone back with another batch of books and just longer than expected to process. 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If you were a library book, where would you hide?

I lost a school library book in year 6. I remember it vividly. We paid for it, then I found it in a forgotten corner corner of the classroom. 

And it never happened again. Until this year. 

This year, we've lost three. 

The first was one of those little skinny Mr Men books. Yep, that was bound to happen one day. We have floor cracks big enough for one of those. 

The second was a DVD that evaporated between the car and the returns desk. 

The third was due back today. There has been much hunting. It's a reasonable sized board book, so surely it can't be that hard to find. 

Time to bring back the 'kids library books only in the lounge room' rule. We were doing pretty well at this until F found her book-loving side and now she wants to take them all over the house. 

I've looked in bookshelves, cupboards, under couches, beds, the piano... Do you have any ideas?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A different kind of book review

Whenever I read a book, I find things I would like to blog about. And I have visions of writing these beautifully crafted posts, with concise and informative book reviews. 

But it never happens. 

So I'm going to try something different. As I read, I'm putting sticky notes on things that I find interesting, and planning to post about them to share with you. It won't be organised, but it will be a way to share information. 

I really wanted to do a good review of 'Maybe I Do', by Kevin Andrews. Fabulous book, which, coupled with an article in the Brisbane Child, prompted me to write my first ever letter to an editor. But I didn't note down the best bits as I read, and it's essentially a 600+ page literature review, so I didn't have the impetus to go back through it and sort them out again. Maybe one day. 

Since then, I've read Dr Susan Prescott's 'The Allergy Epidemic', and I have some notes on that coming up. Stay tuned. 

Friday, March 1, 2013


It's our quarterly church working bee tomorrow morning. SP is so excited he had real trouble getting to sleep. 

He'll be taking his mower, whipper snipper (aka pool noodle), wheelbarrow, shovel, hammer, saw...

Hope the outside jobs aren't rained out. I'll have no trouble finding the blokes some inside tasks, but there'd be one little boy very disappointed...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Decluttering win

I have a love-hate relationship with 'stuff'. I feel like our house is crammed to the brim and I'd love to own less, but I have a hard time getting rid of things, and I'm good at buying more things too. 

This year, I'm following along with Brooke at Slow Your Home. She's aiming to get rid of 2013 things in 2013. I'm not doing the count (because I fear that would lead the decluttering to take over my life), but I am finding her monthly list of areas to tackle very helpful. 

On Saturday, I cleaned out the car and the bathroom cupboards, which finished up January's list and got me started on February's. Yes, I know Saturday was 23 Feb, but it's not a race, right? I'll be quite happy if it takes me two years instead of one. I'm just going to keep plugging at it. 

February's list includes the office and paper clutter. Yikes. Wish me luck...

And feel free to take a peak inside my bathroom cupboards :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Where does your anger come out?

SP (3 1/2) is struggling with anger at the moment. Particularly hitting, kicking and screaming. Unfortunately these angry tendencies come from me, although I expressed them a little differently in my childhood, so I'm particularly keen to help him to deal with his anger better than I do. 

We've been doing 'use your words', with some success, and also some deep breathing and counting to 10, but I've recently hit on something else.

Here's what I said to SP: 
- the Bible says it's OK to be angry, but it's not OK to sin (say 'no' to God / do the wrong thing) when you're angry. 

- when he hits and kicks, he's letting his anger come out through his arms and legs. When he screams, he's letting it come out through his voice. These things are not OK. 

- it's better to let his anger come out through his breath. Nice slow deep breaths to gather up the anger and let it out. 

I saw him use this without prompting this evening (yay!) and he looked a bit like a woman in TV labour, but it worked :)

And I've realised in writing this post that I left the God bit out of the solution. I'll be having another chat and add in 'tell God what you're angry about and ask him to help you' and 'the Holy Spirit is working in you and helping you not to be angry.' Sometimes, blogging is very useful. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Easter Readings goes global

I'm a bit excited - there are actual people using my material :) The response from members of our church was pretty good, there are a few facebook friends & rellies using it (including one in the UK, hence the 'global' bit) and another church has picked it up too. A big church, with lots of people. Some of whom knew me as a primary schooler. That feels weird and a bit scary. 

But I like being useful.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Easter Reading Booklet Download

I never do things the easy way. When my friends first expressed interest in using my Easter reading ideas, I thought it would take me a couple of hours to put together a couple of pages for them.

Then I got started. 

Two weeks later, here it is. All 37 A5 pages of it. But I'm really happy with the way it's turned out.

If you're interested in using it, here are the download links: 

To read on a screen, download this one (one page per sheet)
To print your own booklet, download this one and print back-to-back (two pages per sheet with pages in order for booklet printing).

Feel free to print a copy for your own use. I'd love you to leave me a comment to let me know you're using it, and later to tell me how it works for you. Constructive criticism very much appreciated. 

If you would like to print multiple copies for use in your church or group, please comment here or send me an email (teamench@blogspot.com) to ask for permission. 

I'd appreciate your prayers as I promote this at church tomorrow. We have quite a few families with young children who aren't in any regular Bible reading habits, and I'd love to help them. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Got a couple of spare minutes to waste?

Try this. Almost makes me feel like a philosopher. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Testament Matching Game

Last week at Church4Kids we covered the 4 gospels, focusing on the idea that they tell the same stories from different perspectives.
I gave each child a print out of the Palm Sunday story from a different gospel, and helped them to colour in key words & phrases in different colours. Their faces lit up when they compared passages and saw the similarities. I love teaching 'well-churched' kids new things, or at least old things from new angles. 

This week, we're heading into Acts. We'll cover Jesus' ascension & the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost, which should be revision from previous terms. And I'll introduce some of these little guys and their books: 

Which brings me to the reason for this post. These visuals took me longer than expected, so I thought I'd share them. They're still a little wonky, and don't ask why James is the first book in the list. 

Here's the link, use them however you want. There's some little boxes with author descriptions in there too. Oh, the pictures aren't mine. They're from here and here. Aren't the little bible guys cute?

I'll get the laminator fired up and we'll use them all term. Hopefully they'll help us to match authors to books, and also to put the books in order. I've got a song for that too - I might post it sometime :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sleep needs

On Sunday night, I was asleep by 8pm. Yesterday I had one of my most productive mornings in recent memory, and the whole day went smoothly. 

On Monday night, I was asleep by 11pm. Today has felt like one long series of bad decisions. 

Correlation does not infer causation, but I think a link is pretty likely, don't you?


SP is re-enacting David & Goliath in rest time. Except he's using a sword instead of stones. 

I just heard: "Oh no, Goliath is dead. He's gone to be with Jesus."

Hmm. What do I do with that one? :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Computer filing frustrations

Why oh why can I find a camp program from 2005, and not the graphics from my Easter Calendar of 2 years ago? Sigh. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas

A week ago, I was all set to teach my year 1-3 church4kids class for a term on Acts, with a little bit structure of the NT thrown in. But I was a bit bored with that, so I'm now writing my own term's lessons on the whole New Testament, using Acts as my backbone. Fun :)

This morning, I went to a Children's Ministry Training morning, where we were reminded from 2 Timothy about the importance of both parents and churches in teaching kids about Jesus. During the team discussion time, I mentioned the Easter Calendar that I developed a couple of years ago. The mothers present were very keen to use it with their families, and even the non-mother wants the readings in the hope of re-starting reading the bible with her husband. 

With Easter so early this year, the first reading should occur on Sunday 17 February. So the pressure's on to convert my scribble into something usable by others. I'm also hoping that the graphic designer in our congregation might be able to redo the pictures for me.

Please pray for great wisdom as I write some notes to go with the readings. My primary audience will be Christian parents (of mostly 2-6 year olds) who are good at taking their kids to church but not in the habit of Bible times at home. Pray that I'd make the notes very user friendly, so that whole families will enjoy talking about Jesus together. 

I'd love some volunteers to proof it for me in a few days time. Anyone?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Eastern Europe circa 1910, in colour

This is very cool.  Both the glimpse back in time, and the technology used to do it:


Psalm 71:1-6 audio

I'm enjoying memorising Psalm 71 with the ladies at Do Not Depart. This week we'll be aiming for verses 4 & 5. Incidentally, does anybody know how many women are registered? Just curious. 

I can't seem to help turning memory verses into a song of some sort. Here's my version of verses 1-6. It's no musical masterpiece, but it's helping me learn, and I hope that it will help some other people too.

Sorry it's just a vocal line at this stage. I've been having microphone issues with instrumentation. Still working on it.

Are you working on any memory verses at the moment?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bible Bookcase Puzzle

Whilst googling for a 'books of the bible' graphic for Sunday School, I came upon this game

I'm tempted. 

Does anybody have it? Do you think your kids (or adults) would have fun with it, either at home or at church?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yes, it could happen to you

Click on over to Biscuit magazine & read 'Beating Breast Cancer'

I went to school with Sarah & Tarah, who is also a member of our playgroup. Such an awful thing for a young mum to go through. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Eat more vegies

Our kids are good eaters, but I've been trying to think of ways to incorporate vegies throughout their day (and mine), instead of leaving them all to dinner time. 

So the other day, I served up a bowl of partially defrosted peas for morning tea. 

It was a big hit. I went back to the freezer 3 times for more! 

I suspect the success was partially because we were all eating with our fingers. But also because cold, juicy peas actually taste really good. 

What's the weirdest thing you've eaten this week?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Memorising the Bible

If you're a regular reader and you have a good memory, you may have found yourself wondering, 'whatever happened to Petrina's plan to memorise the whole of 1 Peter last term?' Well, it didn't get all that far. I did pretty well with the first 2 sections, but then reality took over. A whole book, even a short one, in one term was a bit too ambitious for this season of life.

Also, I found that my method of setting the words to hymn tunes, which had worked well for me in the past, wasn't helping me to think about the meaning of the words. Maybe 1 Peter is less lyrical than other books, I don't know.

So my memorising took a bit of a break. Until a friend posted on Facebook about a project that she's joined. Over the next 14 weeks, the ladies at Do Not Depart are helping each other to memorise Psalm 71. A lot more realistic. Count me in!

If you want to join in, you're encouraged to register here. And head to their resources page for easy print outs of the weekly verses (1-2 per week) and other bits & pieces, and to the link up page for other people's thoughts, as well as info on where Psalm 71 fits in the story of the bible. 

I was planning to go tune-less for this one, but it's turning itself into a song in my head already. If it's a decent one that helps with meaning and remembering, I might record it up and post it. But no promises. 

As it turns out, the last memorisation project at Do Not Depart was 1 Peter 1. Which I've just done. How cool is that?

Are you learning any Bible verses at the moment?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Summer Day Play

What's more fun than watering plants? Watering people! 

We sit in the little paddling pool (aka the sandpit lid) and water each other with the watering can. 

Add a towel path from pool to sandpit, a makeshift shade, some pegs, and a 'new' muffin tin for sand cooking. Result: children (& mum) cool and happy on a hot day. 

I think we'll be heading back down after rest time...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I don't cry in sad movies

As Dave has already said, we saw Les Miserables last night. I took a big hanky, and had it at the ready. Then I remembered something. 

I don't cry in sad movies. I cry in happy ones. 

I cried in Stuart Little, when little Stuart powered on through to win the boat race (is that even what happened? It's been a long time since I saw it.)

I was getting teary in last night's preview for 'The Impossible,' a movie about a family caught in the 2004 tsunami. It only takes a couple of bars of swelling 'reunion of loved ones'-type music to get me going. 

Even inspiring blog posts can make me choke up. Like this one from Hands Free Mama, that I read just a few minutes ago. 

Les Mis was amazing. The rawness of the emotion in the soliloquies blew me away. Even though I know the music very, very well, I was discovering the story all over again. 

But it didn't make me cry. 

At the movies...

After about a year of not going out to the movies at all, we've managed to see two movies in the last six days.  Not surprising really, if you know us and know what's new: The Hobbit (part 1/3) and Les Miserables.  A big thanks to my mum for babysitting twice so we could do it!

It's funny the way we process different movies.  We saw the Hobbit first; despite some criticism from some quarters for not sticking to every letter of the book, I thought it was fantastic.  I loved the way it drew on the appendices in the Lord of the Rings to flesh out a lot of the back story and other things that are going on at the same time as Bilbo's adventures.  I was also impressed (hat-tip to my brother Phil for educating me in this to begin with) at how they chose Azog the orc to be the "strong enemy" and the focal point of the orcish antagonism to the dwarves.  And the film certainly gets you in.  Petrina was snuggling up close to me at one point for security, despite knowing full well that if a dwarf and an orc are fighting, it's definitely not real.  We got home afterwards and I wanted to turn around and go see it again straight away.  Good thing for all our sakes that they don't do many midnight showings...

We saw Les Miserables last night.  Again, fantastic.  I don't know the story as well - when I was a teenager the rest of the family quite like listening to it, but I didn't pay much attention, mainly due to being (a) contrarian (how can I like the same thing as my brother? ugh!) and (b) a bit of a puritan (but it's got prostitutes, it can't be good!).

The singing was great, the acting just what you'd expect with Jackman, Hathaway, et al.  This time the emotions were the other way round though.  I teared up a bit when Fantine died; nearly lost it when Javert pinned his medal on Gavroche's corpse, and again during Valjean's death.  And it's got much deeper themes running through it too.  Redemption, forgiveness, justice, mercy.  Javert and Valjean both claim to be right with God, yet Javert has a strong "correctness" approach - people who work hard and obey the law are righteous, and if not you're damned to hell forever, vs Valjean's mercy and sacrifice.  That contrast came out much more strongly than I remember from the CD of the stage show.  One of my first comments coming out afterwards was thankfulness that, for all its problems, we live here and now.  There are a lot of other times and places where basic survival is much more of an issue than it is for us.

The other astounding thing was the price difference.  We were using up a couple of gift cards, so we didn't go to our usual cinema, where it's $8.50 a ticket.  For the Hoyts we went to, $15.50 each, and for the Greater Union, $20.00 each!  I think we'll be back to the regular for whatever's next...

Thursday, January 3, 2013


From desk to I-don't-need-this-anymore-should-I-send-it-to-lifeline to bathroom cupboard. 

Insert peaceful sigh here.