Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sophie's Account

We were looking through some notebooks this morning and found Sophie's account of Lachlan's birth.

Our new baby was born when we were at school on Wednesday. Our Granny came to pick ups up in half time (lunch break). It was a long drive to the hospital. Our Mum was in room twenty eight, bed seven. Our new baby was so cute and he had purple around his mouth because he got a bit bruised. He got a bit bruised because he came out so quickly. His belly button cord was yellow and it looked a bit yucky. When we first changed his nappy there was nothing in it. He was wearing a gown which we took off and put on a singlet instead then we put the gown on top. Our Mum wants to wait for Daddy to give him a name

It's funny the thing one forgets and the things an eight year old records.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

what do you do when...

someone, examining your wedding photo, says;

"You looked nice. Not anymore."

Just wondering.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

this is what I meant about books

Our children have been invited to a neighbour's birthday party this afternoon.

She'll be about 15, she's not exactly sure.

We were talking about what sort of gift to take.

Matthew, who spends a lot of time at their place with a boy of his age in their family, piped up with;
"Her family only has two books. I think I should give her, hmmm..., maybe four more books?"

That's what I meant here about access to books being a much greater factor for literacy than being read to as a baby.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


(click on image to download our latest newsletter)

Monday, 12 September 2011

I'm so glad...

...I began this blog.

In an attempt to get the label option working on this blog, I've been going back and putting labels on all the posts. You may have notices the growing label "cloud" down there in the side bar.

I've read some great stories about the children that I had completely forgotten about.

And I've been reminded of some interesting issues I'm supposed to be thinking about. Have a look in the series "tab" up the top there. Where should I start?

a new look

Do you like it?

prayer points from Matthew

"Pray that when I grow up and am driving a truck, it won't break down."

He has a one-track mind.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Which flower is this? (35)

This is a wattle (Acacia) tree, don't you think?

It's got the bundle of stamens that is typical of the wattle flower.

I tend to think of wattle trees as Australian trees and so was surprised to find this on the Lonnoc beach on the East Coast of Santo. 4-5m tall and obviously doing quite well in salty conditions. Here's a shot of the leaves:

Am I right? Is it Acacia? I forgot to check for seed pods. Does anyone know what species it is?

Click on the photos for larger, higher quality images.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

reading with infants (not!)

Ok so here's a deep dark secret. Literacy advocates and experts are going to hate me....

We didn't read to our children from birth.

There. Are you shocked?

And I still don't think it's all that important to read to your babies. I don't think it makes that much difference in the long run.

Of course I only have a very small sample size.... not like all the studies which must have thousands in order to be statistically significant... and I'm not an expert. Which is just as well, as you probably shouldn't listen to this.

When they couldn't move, in the dream-days before five or six months, I just didn't get the point. They couldn't understand what I was saying. If it was just the sound of my voice that they liked... well I talked to them and I sang to them. And we spent plenty of time together. I did read to them every now and then, but it wasn't the every night kind of thing that is recommended.

And then from six months until they were 18 months to two years old (depending on the child), it just wasn't worth reading to them because they weren't interested. They wanted to eat the book. Or turn the pages (backwards). Or stick their fingers up my nose. And they just wouldn't sit still.

And then from 18 months we had to employ stealth tactics to read with them. We'd have to have a pile of books ready, as any gap in proceedings and we'd've lost them off across the other side of the bed and under the mosquito net. We'd give them one book to hold while we read another. We kept a pile of touchy-feely or flap books for that purpose. And we had to turn the pages quickly, more than ten words on a page was out of the question.

So we didn't read to them from birth.

And do you know what? The first two can't keep their head out of books, now. It doesn't seem to have made any difference. And the third keeps a pile of his favourites under his pillow. Sometimes I'm surprised he can sleep as his neck is at such an angle.

I think (my humble opinion) that a far greater factor for literacy is whether or not they see their parents reading and enjoying books. Are their books in the house? Are they on the floor? Are they in the living area, or tucked away in an office so as not to be messy? Do they see you snuggled up on the couch, reading? Do they ever have to drag you kicking and screaming away from a book in order to cook them dinner? Or is reading just something the teachers make them do at school?

Do they see their Dad reading?

A second factor would be that they have access to stage-appropriate books: access to books for play, exploration, browsing, looking and then, eventually, reading. Are they in their room? Can they reach them? Or are they afraid to touch them for fear that they'll get in trouble for tearing a page? Is the local library a familiar (and friendly) place?

So now for the moral of this story. Do you read to your baby every night? Great! Don't stop. It is wonderful time together. Do you feel overwhelmed by all the things the early childhood nurse has laid at your feet? Don't panic. Your child won't be illiterate because you missed a few nights reading in the early months. But when your child does begin to show interest (in our experience from about 18 months), then it's time to read, read, read and not give up.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

flowers again

Long term readers of this blog might remember this series, which flower is this? which petered out when I couldn't identify any of the flowers I found round about in Vanuatu.

Well, I'm going to start it up again because I keep finding interesting things round and about. If anyone can help me identify them, good, but I'm going to keep sharing them anyway, now and again.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Vanuatu heads up another list

A few years ago it was all the rage to say Vanuatu was the happiest place on earth.  This was according to the 2006 Happy Planet Index* which is not a measure of the happiness of the people per se, but of ecological foot-print, life-satisfaction and life-expectancy (or 'the ecological efficiency of supporting well-being').  

Now, according to a study by the German group Bundis Entwicklung Hilft, Vanuatu is at the top of another list. 

This list is the World Risk Index

That means of all the nations in the world, Vanuatu is most at risk from natural disaster. The index takes into account the exposure, vulnerability and susceptibility to natural disaster, and also the ability to cope and adapt when natural disaster strikes. Vanuatu is both highly prone to natural disaster (cyclone and earthquake, not to mention tsunami and volcanic eruption) but also has lacking of coping capacities. 

Australia is raked 119 (rankings begin on p64 of the report**). 

So how does a nation manage to be at the top of BOTH of those lists???????????

* You can download the 2009 Happy Planet Index report here, see a comparison of the 2006 and 2009 lists here.  Note that Vanuatu and other small countries were not included in the 2009 study.
** Download the World Risk Index here.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Sunday, 4 September 2011

PCV Assembly

Today the annual Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu was opened.  Assembly will meet all week and close next Saturday.

This year Assembly is meeting on the small island (Tangoa) just off the coast a few kilometres from us at Talua.  It has been a very busy time for the local community preparing to host this event.

Tangoa was the site of the former TAngoa Training Institute (TTI) which trained missionaries and teachers for Vanuatu for many years in last century.  It is therefore a very significant place in the history of the church.  Eventually TTI amalgamated with the Pastors training college (AuLUA) on Malekula.  The two colleges formed TA-LUA and moved across to the mainland, the current site.  We continue to train Pastors and Missionaries and there is some movement afoot to offer again some sort of theological training for (soon-to-be) school teachers.

Assembly is an important time for the Pastors and Elders of the church to make decisions about the future of the church.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for people, usually so far apart, to meet and encourage one another.  It is potentially very powerful.

Please pray that it will be.  Pray that Christ will be central to the work and mission of this church.  Pray for wisdom and for discussion that is gentle, respectful and that loves the truth.  Pray that decisions will be made that will bring glory and honour to God, not man.

Pray for those humble servants that have worked day and night to prepare accommodation and food for so many people.  Pray for those who will continue to work day and night this week to wash, prepare food and ensure that everything runs smoothly.  Ask God to give them strength enough for each day.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Thank you Emily

Emily came and stayed at Talua from February to August to be a ‘tutor’ or ‘supervisor’ for our daughter’s education this year.

She did a wonderful job and we are very sorry that she has now returned to Australia.

Thank you Emily.We miss you!

Here is some art-work that she did with our girls:

by Sophie

by Bethany

by Emily